Friday, January 27, 2006

Lost Post, If Found Please Return To Owner

I just lost a massive post on the Baha'i faith and the 2300-day prophecy. If you see it running around cyberspace, please call its owner or put it in the back of your pickup and bring it home. Above all, don't shoot it; it's a very valuable post.

I'm affraid it's gone for good, though. I guess I'll have to get another. But it's not as if posts are all the same; I'll never have another like it. [sob]

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Micro-morals v. Macro-morals

In the recent Canadian election we witnessed again the battle of the macro-morals of the Liberals vs. micro-morals of the Conservatives, and once again Christians were co-opted by one side or the other. What do I mean by this? Let me explain.

At a ministerial meeting of evangelical pastors I attended before the election the consensus was clear--we're going to encourage our congregants to vote for the Conservatives because they're the best chance we have of stopping abortion and gay marriage. Other parties were not given a second thought because of their stand on these micro-moral issues. I call them "micro" not because they're unimportant, but because they primarily affect a small number of individuals (parent and child, partner and partner) rather than society as a whole.

At another ministerial meeting soon after the gay-marriage legislation was introduced we were discussing the issue in the presence of a clergy from a liberal denomination. His church takes a strong stand on macro-moral issues such as helping the poor, equal rights, and environmental protection; issues the Liberals champion. They give their ministers the option to perform gay-marriages, and he vigoursly supported this practice on the basis of equal rights.

Unfortionately the focus of evangelicals and liberals on their favorite moral issues has made them blind to Biblical morality. When God says, "You shall not murder," it means both unborn babies and innocent babies in Iraq; His condemnation of exploitation is no less valid than his condemnation of homosexuality. And if we fight to protect the God given institution of family we should be just as willing to fight to protect the environment of this planet He gave us, too.

And finally, we must realize that the allignment of the Christian left and right with the political left and right is simply leading towards the religious persecution prophecied in Revelation 13. Because when the state and the church merge persecution is necessary outcome and part of a system symbolized by ancient Babylon. Therefore I believe that the real issue for Christian voters is freedom of religion, because a coerced decision for Christ is no decision at all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Something About Psalms

I never got why the Psalms are so popular; they just never resonated with my soul. I can explain the structure of Hebrew poetry, but never understood it. The Psalms held more questions than answers--why all the negativity, obsession with revenge, and self-pity?

Then I started visiting people in the hospital--people who weren't going to leave it alive--and I had nothing to say to them. So I would read them scripture, and, not knowing what to read, I turned to the Psalms (they're popular, right?). I flipped through and realized that the Psalms were talking about the same type of experience they were going through, and as I read the expression on the person's face would soften as they understood that God understood.

The Psalms are prayers that were put in the Bible for a reason. They teach us that it's OK to tell God exactly what's on our mind, even though it's not nice. And they always leave us with a reminder that we can trust God anyway.

A psalm of David, to bring us to the LORD's remembrance.

O LORD, don't rebuke me in your anger!
Don't discipline me in your rage!
Your arrows have struck deep,
and your blows are crushing me.

Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;
my health is broken because of my sins.
My guilt overwhelms me –
it is a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and stink
because of my foolish sins.
I am bent over and racked with pain.
My days are filled with grief.
A raging fever burns within me,
and my health is broken.
I am exhausted and completely crushed.
My groans come from an anguished heart.

You know what I long for, Lord;
you hear my every sigh.
My heart beats wildly, my strength fails,
and I am going blind.
My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease.
Even my own family stands at a distance.
Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps for me;
they make plans to ruin me.
They think up treacherous deeds all day long.
But I am deaf to all their threats.
I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.
I choose to hear nothing,
and I make no reply.

For I am waiting for you, O LORD.
You must answer for me, O Lord my God.
I prayed, "Don't let my enemies gloat over me
or rejoice at my downfall."
I am on the verge of collapse,
facing constant pain.
But I confess my sins;
I am deeply sorry for what I have done.
My enemies are many;
they hate me though I have done nothing against them.
They repay me evil for good
and oppose me because I stand for the right.

Do not abandon me, LORD.
Do not stand at a distance, my God.
Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.

(Psalm 38, New Living Translation)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Firefox Extensions

As far as I'm concerned Mozilla Firefox is the best free webbrowser I know of. It's got tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, and a built-in search bar putting it far ahead of the alternatives; but that's just 'vanilla' Firefox. The real reason to get Firefox is for the extensions.

was put together by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which writes open source software. That means that anyone who wants to can alter the code of their programs or write add-ons to the basic Firefox program. That's what Firefox extensions are--add-ons that people have made available for download.

Right now Mozilla has 1022 of these extensions on their website, and I don't recommend downloading them all. You can find some of the best at the "Most Popular" page or stumble around the web getting recommendations from friends and blogs, but I wouldn't recommend running an extension without thoroughly checking out its reviews. Here's a few that I recommend for any user.
  1. NoScript disables Java script on all websites except those you allow using a convenient button. It's truly the safest way to browse, and I wouldn't be without this extension. Since I installed it I have gotten no unwanted popups (Yes, Virginia, no popup blocker is totally immune to Java.) and have found about 80% less adware on my system.
  2. Google Toolbar is a standby from my old Internet Explorer days. It makes searches easier, spell checks, fills web forms automatically, and more. It's the extension I use the most.
  3. CustomizeGoogle allows you to tweak the way your Google search pages appear, adds links to other search engines, prompts words as you type, and filters stuff you don't want. It sort of turns Google searches into meta-search portals, making it much easier to find stuff that Google doesn't bring up.
  4. IE View gives you an option to open a page or link in Internet Explorer when you left-click on it. Great for sites like MSN Video that won't run in Firefox (evil Microsoft!) and for web-developers who need to know what a page looks like in IE.
  5. Nuke Anything Enhanced lets you remove any object on a webpage via a left-click menu option. Great for annoying ads that obscure what you want to look at. Unfortunately it doesn't work on Flash.
  6. PDF Download lets you choose whether you want to view a PDF link in your current tab, a new tab, or your PDF reader or if you want to download the document. Doesn't always work, but works often enough to be convenient.
UPDATE (2-8-06): Listable has an excellent list of Firefox extensions.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Top Five: Excuses

  1. I've had to run my wife to and from work ever since I got in an accident with our good car.
  2. I had alot of work to do this week getting ready for the year end Church in Business Meeting in one church and The Appearing in another.
  3. I'm fiddling with my sterio and soundcard and Audacity trying to set up a podcast for sermons preached at my church.
  4. Needed to spend some serious time with my wife.
  5. I got a new computer game.
Ya, I know. I havent posted all week. Sorry.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Meditation On Marriage

Marriage: The exclusive union of a man and woman
And the human said:

"This one at last, bone of my bones
flesh of my flesh,
This one shall be called Woman,

for from man was this one taken."

Therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they become one flesh. And the two of them were naked, the human and his woman, and they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:23-25, Alter, emphasis supplied)
But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.
(1 Corinthians 7:2-5, New Living Translation, emphasis supplied)
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.
(Ephesians 5:21-30, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis supplied)
May God teach us how to give ourselves to our spouse in love.

Friday, January 13, 2006

News: Canada's Charter May Protect Polygamy

National Post | Legalize polygamy: study
The paper by three law professors at Queen's University in Kingston argues that a Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] challenge to Section 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy might be successful, said Beverley Baines, one of the authors of the report.
Could the slippery-slopers be right? Apparently the Liberal government set-up the study just before they introduced their same-sex bill that legalized homosexual marriage in Canada. But the most interesting twist is that the most likely challenge to the polygamy ban would claim that it infringes both religious and sexual liberty of the fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful, BC.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is similar to the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Article: To Submit

So is it a moral virtue to be submissive? In the context of church life the answer is a definite Yes. Do I feel that being submissive is a good thing? Well, not always, but the Holy Spirit still has a few things to teach me, and the Church is a great classroom.
An article I wrote
was posted today on Spectrum magazine's website in their featured columns section. Thanks to Leigh Johnsen for inviting me to contribute.

Link: Spectrum Online | To Submit

Questions to Consider:
What positive contributions has individualism made to the church?
When are debating and voting detrimental to good decision making in the church?
What does it mean to submit to those with whom I disagree?
Who should Christians not submit to?
In the context of mutual submission, what does a submissive child, wife, or churchmember look like?
In the context of mutual submission, what does a submissive parent, husband, or pastor look like?
What did it mean for Jesus to submit?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Top Five: Alternative Canadian Political Parties

Fed up with Liberal corruption and empty promises? Worried that Stephen Harper will make Canada the 51st state? Think that the NDP's "third option" is the People's Republic of Canada? Wondering how the Bloc Quebecois can run a nation it doesn't think should exist in the first place?

Canada is running out of voting options, and what else can we expect when the major parties seem more interested in attacking each other than showing how they could do things better? But fret no more, apathetic Canadian voter. You do have voting options. Just pick your favorite of these

Top 5 Alternative Canadain Political Parties
  1. Green Party - Environmental conscience and a mish-mash of other progressive ideas
  2. Canada Action Party - National soverenty and democratic accountability
  3. LibertarianParty - Shrink government, maximize freedoms
  4. First Peoples National Party - No visible platform, but if I were Naitive, I'd vote for them.
  5. Christian Heritage Party - Pro-life (anti-abortion), pro-family (anti-gay marriage)
Honerable mention for sheer goofinessss:
UPDATE (1-12-05): Find out which parties have a candidate in your riding at Elections Canada Voter Information Service.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sermon Summary 12.24.05: Messiah

Christians talk quite a bit about the need to emphasize the spiritual meaning of the Christmas season. We deplore comercialization and secularization of the holiday and exhort each other to "put Christ into Christmas." But what does "Christ" actually mean?

Our English word Christ is a transliteration of the Greek word christos, which, in the Bible, is a translation of the Hebrew word mashiyach, which means "anointed one" or "Messiah". mashiyach comes from the verb mashach which refers to putting oil on something, or in a spiritual sense to the act of anointing with oil.

Today, if we used the word in this sense, it is to talk about anointing the sick (James 5:14), but in Old Testament an anointing didn't mean that you were sick but that you were holy. In Bible, holiness doesn't mean that you have a perfect character or have achieved spiritual enlightenment, for how can a temple have a holy character? Being holy means that a person or object is "set apart" for the purposes of God (Ex. 40); it is a calling, not a state of character.

There were many messiahs mentioned in the Old Testament--the priests and kings of Israel, the prophets of God, and even the pagan king, Cyrus. All of them had a holy calling, yet none of them was able to fully live up to the demands of that calling. But there was a prophecy that one day "the Messiah" would come and fully live up to that calling (Dan. 9:25).

That prophecy was fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:16-21), and we put Christ into Christmas when we celebrate his arrival. And yet that is not the only way we can or should put Christ into Christmas, because the age of messiahs is not over. The Bible says that we have "an anointing from the Holy One" as well (1 John 2:20-22).

Now that Jesus has gone back to heaven, every member of the "body of Christ" has a holy calling to carry on His work on earth. When we join the church in continuing Jesus' messiah mission, we experience what it means to be a holy. And we discover that putting Christ into Christmas really means putting ourselves into Christ.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Review: Pride and Prejudice

I was once prejudiced against rom-coms, thinking them too shallow and trite for my sophisticated mind. But in the recent screen adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I have met my Mr. Darcy, and now find myself curiously attracted its unexpected charms. Ah, cruel fate, to be thusly wooed and thusly.... Oh, sorry; my editors tell me I should restrain my prosaic tendencies to suit the attention span of the modern audience.

You see, Pride & Prejudice and I are in a love/hate relationship right now. The things I loved the most about this movie are, upon further reflection, the very things I hated the most. And I daresay it threatens the congeniality of our once amiable intercourse.

The script, for example, yields compelling dialogue with an 18th century tone that is at once eloquent, beautiful, and accessible. However, I just can't shake the feeling that I was listening to Jane Austen sound bites--sentences and phrases clipped from their context--and I have only had briefest acquaintance with her work. I realize that retaining any more of the original would have made a mini-series rather than a movie, but I just feel the script could have been edited better. Did I mention that I really, really liked the script?

The cinematography in Pride & Prejudice almost better than the script, which is saying a lot since rom-coms live or die by their scripts. The whole film looks dirty, that is to say, authentic. The walls that need paint, the mud and rain and fog, the homespun fabrics, and the greasy food are all shot in dark dingy rooms and captured on a grainy film-stock that makes the images look like they were painted onto the screen. That being said, the artificially whitened teeth of the actors served nicely to jilt me out of the time period. I hate you Pride and Prejudice!

No, no, please, I didn't mean it; the actors were so good and delivering those prosaic lines. Keira Knightly, as Elizabeth, carried to whole thing on her super-stretched neck and chin. Matthew MacFadyen's Darcy was taciturn in the extreme, and I loved it. Donald Sutherland was by far the best supporting actor as Lizie's greathearted yet thoroughly whipped father, and Tom Hollander came a close second as the hilariously unromantic vicar.

So go see the second best, in my humble opinion, film of the year (I'll blog about the best one next time). Yes, it's corny and ancient, but it will do you some good to put your prejudices aside and watch a good adaptation of a masterpiece in the canon of English literature. It's not half as boring as it sounds, and before you know it Pride & Prejudice will have you enchanted too.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Song: Blessed Be Your Name

Matt Redman is becoming my favorite Christian music artist. This is the second time I've blogged about his lyrics, which have more meaning for me than your average CCM ditty. It just seems to me that he is worship leader who actually gets what worship is about.
Blessed Be Your Name
(Job 1:21)

by Matt Redman

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name when I'm found in a desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed by Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be your name
Yes, that's the point of worship--you worship anyway. Real worship is not about getting an good feeling, blessings from God, or a free ticket to Heaven. Worship is defined by what you give, not by what you get. It's about worshiping God because of who He is and what He's done regardless of whatever else is happening.

Matt Redman wrote the popular song "Heart of Worship". If you haven't read the story of how he wrote it, you must.

News: Teen Back From Iraq Solo Trip

USA Today | Teen back in USA after taking own field trip to Iraq

Kids these days! They're just not satisfied with their high school "immersion journalism" classes anymore. They want the real thing, and before they've reached the age of consent!

But seriously, I couldn't recommend better therapy for a member of the "Teenage Republican Club".