Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I am working on a post titled, "Liberty without a Creator", until that is published I thought this article from the Wallstreet Journal Editorial Page was pretty interesting. It raises intriguing questions about Global Warming and the scientific community.

Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe sent a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson requesting that he cease and desist in his company’s support of scientists who are skeptical about the global change theory, which basically says mankind exacerbates the Global Warming problem by our consumption.

Here are some key excerpts from the letter:

It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers."

Since when was it "bad" to challenge even long held and well supported scientific theory (which I am not convinced Global Warming is, yeah, I said it)? Isn't it actually a good thing to put a theory to the test against facts, and now that we are at it, is that not how a theory goes from being a theory to being accepted as fact?

...that ExxonMobil "come clean" about its past denial activities, and that the corporation take positive steps by a date certain toward a new and more responsible corporate citizenship.

That is an almost Gestapo-like statement in my opinion, "Confess your sins and be cleansed!
A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone.

Would anyone really have a problem with Exxon for doing this? To me it only lends objectivity to the whole issue and I commend them for their courage in approaching such a controversial debate from the dissenting side.

I will stop there and I think I have covered the message the letter was meant convey.

While one could argue that Exxon is only interested in seeing consumers filling up there SUVs without fear of damaging the planet, I though at least their angle raised some interesting questions.

1. Why are Senators, specifically Senators who profit from the sale of oil, so interested in seeing this debate end?

2. Does their personal interest in oil sales lend any credibility to their position as you would think they would prefer Americans be "deniers" in this particular debate?

3. Is it really honest to say that this debate is officially over and that we should no longer even question Global Warming and the human factor?

4. Does it take credibility away from scientists who would prefer that no dissenting debate be allowed?

5. Is it more scientific to assume something is wrong and find evidence to the contrary, or to assume it is correct and look for supporting empirical evidence?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can You Say, "Amnesty"?

President Bush is appointing Florida Senator Mel Martinez as the next Republican National Committee Chair. Article here

Why is this significant?

It is significant because,

Martinez is a leading advocate of a Bush-style solution to the nation's immigration problems.

In fact, Martinez led the battle for amnesty in the U.S. Senate.

So, if Bush can't win amnesty with a Republican controlled Congress, he intends to try again with the Democrats, with the help of his new champion.

This in spite of the fact that most of his base hates the idea of amnesty. Despicable.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Better TV for All?

It is definitely time for a rant. I just got off the phone with DISH Network, and after an hour of talking until I was blue in the face, they did nothing more than condescend to me and refuse to make unacceptable situation satisfactory. But I guess a little background is in order...

About 6 months ago we decided to move from cable to satellite. It seemed logical because satellite offered similar programming to cable but cost less, and they claimed to have fewer outages, clearer reception, etc. In researching the few satellite service providers, DISH Network stood out for their programming and packages/pricing that appealed to us. Of course, when you call these companies as a "potential customer" they are your best friend and willing to do whatever it takes to sign the 18 month contract: waive this charge, free shipping, free install, we'll come by once a week and wash your cars, and so on...

So we took the plunge, and overall, the service was better than cable; better reception for sure and we had more channels to choose from for less than what we paid for cable, great. There were a few problems at the onset, however:

  • I am a baseball fan, and everyone knows satellite providers usually charge a premium for local sports programming. So I asked the agent (at this point my bestest buddy) if that were the case. I was reassured that in my package I would receive a specific local station that aired all season games for my local team. This was completely untrue, of course, and I would need to shell out an additional amount per month to see my team play.

  • The technicians they sent to do the install were incompetent. They asked me if I had a ladder so they could get on the roof. You are a satellite dish install tech, and you don't have a ladder? K...

  • After the install was complete, I was not getting reception for like 2 dozen channels. The kind of person I am, even if all the channels not coming in are Home Shopping and Oxygen for Women and I have no intention of watching them, I want what I paid for. So they sent another tech (this one had a ladder) who came to the conclusion that the previous guy basically screwed up the install. He fixed it and I had all one hundred-some-odd channels at my disposal, sweet.

  • My first bill shows charges for things I know nothing about; one is a charge for NOT having my satellite receiver connected to a phone line. Apparently, the receiver can either do daily programming updates through a phone line, or via the satellite signal and the satellite method costs extra, weird. It seems like a simple problem, but whoever built our house decided to only put phone jacks in the master bedroom and the kitchen, so I would either have to run a ridiculously long phone line to one of these jacks, which my wife wouldn't appreciate for it's lack of aesthetic value, or have a line put in by the phone company at around $100, which is more than the monthly charges for the 18 months of my contract. So, we decided to eat the monthly charge. I did try to talk to an agent of the company and explain the situation in hopes that they would waive the fee, even for just a month or two (to the tune of $10), and the people who were previously waiving every fee conceivable to get me to sign on were suddenly the biggest tight wads I have ever known.

  • After those few issues were over things went well. Good service, clear reception, no outages for 6 months, nice. Maybe they really are better than cable and as they claim: "Better TV for All"

    Fast forward to last week...

    We recently decided to quick watching TV cold turkey and limit our viewing to DVDs, this way we spend more time with the kids and we can better control what we and our little ones are watching. I am addicted to television and can easily spend 3 or 4 hours zoned out in front of the tube not interacting with anyone. My wife hates television and wishes we didn't even have one in the house. I noticed my daughter was starting to retire to a quiet corner of the living room when the TV came on and daddy was plopped on the couch. It turns out I had programmed her that when TV was on, daddy was unavailable, so she learned to amuse herself at these times. That realization really hurt, so I decided, and my wife enthusiastically agreed that we needed to cancel our satellite service.

    And now the really bad news. I called DISH Network Friday fully expecting them to do their darndest to try and keep us as customers, and they did not disappoint. They offered discounts, smaller viewing packages (as I had told them we wanted to watch less), you name it. I thanked them for their earnest and asked them to cancel service anyway. At this point they explained that since I was canceling my contract early, I would be charged a fee based on a $13 per month early cancellation fee for every month of my contract that wasn't fulfilled. I was fine with that and it came to around $170.

    Now this is the key part of the conversation: the agent (forgot her name, last time I do that) asked if I wanted these fees charged to my account immediately, or did I want to be billed for them along with the remaining service charges. I said, "Go ahead and send me a bill and I will pay everything at the same time." She said, "Okay" and after a fond farewell and a promise to take me back should I ever decide I wanted to resume my life as a couch potato, we were done. Oh, I forgot to mention this and it is a little comical. There was still the issue of hardware, both the receivers in the house, and the dish on my roof; this is how they handle that: they send you boxes and you have to send them their hardware back, including some part of the satellite dish. So I have to climb up onto my roof and use a screwdriver to get this thing or they will charge me some other fee. Great, now I am risking life and limb, fine.

    So now I am waiting for the boxes to show up, and in the meantime, my checking account shows a charge of $173, that they had charged to my account the SAME DAY I CANCELLED! This along with several overdraft fees charged to my checking account as I never transferred adequate fees to cover a charge that I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT! I was livid! I called them this morning and explained to the agent I got connected with and I just got the run around. She kept citing the original contract, which apparently states that legally they can come for my first born child if I cancel early, guess I should have read that part. She told me that they normally don't bill for cancellations, and that the agent who I spoke to originally never noted the account to reflect that we had such an agreement. By this time, I was raising my voice and challenging her to explain to me, apart from a legal standpoint, why what they did was okay. She just kept saying, "The contract says..." and "...I understand, and I am very sorry, but there is nothing we can do..." which is the LAST thing a dissatisfied customer wants to hear. I know, I worked in customer service for nine years; we went out of our way to win clients over by bending company policy. I told her I wanted to talk to someone who could help me, so she got a supervisor, who I fully expected to give me the same story, just more forcefully and with the experience of someone who had been giving folks the run around much longer. Once again, they did not disappoint.

    She hemmed and hawed, basically saying that she understood, but their hands were tied. She even said, "Let me go talk to someone to see if there is an outside chance we could do something" and put me on hold. At this point, she probably got a cup of coffee, used the restroom, and told a co-worker about the "jerk" she had on hold. She then came back, "I am very sorry...", "I understand, but"; an interesting word, "but", it basically means, "Everything said before 'but' means nothing, while everything after is what is REALLY going to happen".

    So nada, zilch, nothing. No big surprise really, it happens all the time with various "service providers". They only care about the bottom line and no one seems to care about winning the customer over and cultivating customer loyalty. And it's not like there isn't competition so where is the effort to be better than the next guy? I don't get it.

    This also means I have to be the guy who asks for names, operator badge number, and makes sure to say, "Make sure you note the account please", which I will do begrudgingly, because down deep I would like to take the kindness and decency of people for granted (especially when I am paying them).
    I intend to do what I can to let folks know that DISH Network is not the best choice for their satellite service needs. Consider yourself warned.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Now, now, play nice...

    I snagged this from Townhall.com:


    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Predictions for the 2008 Elections

    This article by Chuck Baldwin sums up well my thoughts on why the Republicans lost the election and also makes some interesting, albeit dreary, predictions for the elections two years from now.

    Here are some key excerpts:

    Most people saw the handwriting on the wall for a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. As for the Senate, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, so who controls the gavel is of little consequence.

    Hear, hear! Why bother with two parties when they both look so much alike these days, let's have one party called the Repubrocrats and save some confusion.

    George Bush's neocons have all but decimated whatever genuine conservatism remained in the GOP, and they did it on the backs of the faithful conservatives still in the party.

    God Bless those true conservatives who actually make decisions based on principles that "pseudo-conservatives" only talk about.

    That President Bush has fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signals a significant policy reversal for Bush. As late as the day before the election, Bush said emphatically that Rumsfeld would stay until the end of his term. But the day after Democrats seized the House, Rumsfeld was fired.

    'Nuff said.

    It does not take the gift of prophecy to predict that Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, will almost certainly assent to some form of an American troop withdrawal from Iraq. The Republican Party now understands that if the war in Iraq continues as it is into 2008, the GOP will be murdered at the polls, and the Democratic nominee (whoever he or she is) would most certainly win the White House. In other words, President Bush and Republicans are about to engage in the biggest "cut and run" strategy you have ever seen.

    I hate the idea of leaving the people of Iraq in the lurch, but could Chuck be right that Republicans will cut and run to because it is politically expedient? Will the Democrats comparison of Iraq to Vietname turn out to be painfully accurate?

    I, here and now, predict that the GOP nominee for president in 2008 will most definitely be a pro-choice "moderate" who will enthusiastically embrace the Bush/Pelosi doctrine of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens, as well as Bush's goal of establishing a North American Union. I also predict that he will most certainly endorse civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Sounds incredible, but plausible doesn't it? Again, I hate the thought of this happening, but we as citizens need to face facts and use the power of our vote to change the course of this country. It sounds rather idealistic, but if Americans truly had the courage to vote in a candidate from a viable third party, I believe it would do wonders for our political system. At the very least it would rattle Democrats and Republicans out of complacency!

    This pathetic loyalty to the GOP for some "lesser of two evils" mantra is so utterly bankrupt that only the most apathetic lackey could continue to embrace it.

    Harsh but true. Voting against the candidate you dislike instead of for one you know can do the job is exactly what conservatives criticized the Democrats for when they voted for Kerry is it not?

    It is time for the end of politics as usual and only you and I can make a real difference.


    Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has taken the first steps in a possible bid for the 2008 Presidential nomination by forming an exploratory committee. The purpose of such a committee is to gauge the appeal of a potential candidate without officially putting your name in the hat and being subject to campaign rules.

    The odds are against him getting nominated because of his stance on abortion rights, same-sex marriage and gun control, issues that are important to conservatives who he would have to win over to get the Republican ticket.

    He definitely fits the bill of a moderate conservative nicely though. He became enormously popular in 2001 as Mayor of New York for his handling of the 911 attacks and for the drop in crime rates in that city during his two terms there. I don't believe this is enough to overcome his liberal leanings, however.

    Let's hope he doesn't get too far.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    The Aftermath...

    The successes this election of those more liberally minded folks is obvious, but what's with the bragging? A guy came by my desk and was telling me about all the great stuff Clinton did when he was in office!? They really are full of themselves right now.

    I remember being polite when the Republicans won the House and although it may have occurred to me to run around telling every lib, "In your face!", I restrained myself.

    Oh well, life goes on. There were a couple of key propositions that got passed that made me happy:

    PROP A - build another airport in San Diego, not happenin'. We just renovated our existing airport at a huge cost.

    PROP C - San Diego can contract out to non-city employees. Competition = better services at lower cost. Everybody wins.

    PROP 1A - Make sure monies apportioned for a purpose is ACTUALLY USED for that purpose. Why we votin' on this again? Seems like common sense (unless you are a California beaurocrat).

    PROP 83 - Tighter reins on sexual predators. They have to stay at least 2000 feet away from places children congregate, and they have to wear GPS, in the immortal words of the band Heat Wave, "Always and Forever".

    I voted against every new bond measure, but I was in the minority and I think this has to do with the fact that people think "better roads, less traffic" sounds really good, but they don't care to know or understand WHERE that money comes from to get it done. So my kids will be paying for these bonds FOR-EV-ER (anybody seen "The Sandlot"?).

    I did vote against the cigarette tax, which proponents said would save lives because people would be forces to smoke less for financial reasons. This one failed, so the special interest folks will have to find some other creative way to make money on a false premise, shouldn't be hard as they obviously have degrees in that particular area.

    All in all, things didn't go terribly well for conservatives, but my faith lies not in people, but God ultimately.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Reality Check for Angelina Jolie

    In this article on Townhall.com, Michelle Malkin takes on statements made by the Hollywood actress regarding U.S. aid to foreign refugees. It pretty much sums up my thoughts on entertainers jumping on the soap box in a fit of righteous indignation and bashing our country without really seeing the big picture. Here is a key quote:

    In the land of make-believe, Jolie's call to pour more tax dollars into the U.N. refugee agency's coffers might well help to stem the refugee tide. But in the real world, it will only perpetuate exploitation.

    I was equally offended when Sean Penn took a plane to Iraq and came back "enlightened", pretending to have all the answers to the issues brewing in the Middle East. Some of these problems have been going on for centuries and are a direct result of corrupt governments and organizations, but the "Hollyweirdos" think throwing more money at the problem will make everything better.

    What does fame and endless disposable income do to these people? Next time you wish for money, power and fame, remember, you too could be transformed into an elitist, self-righteous "Hollyweirdo".

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    California Marriage Safe

    Looks like the institution of marriage is safe in California (for now). Details here.

    Of course, those interested in pushing the Gay Agenda on all Americans will not stop trying to redefine marriage to suit their needs. The most significant quote from the article, and the one that sums up my thoughts on this hot button topic:

    "courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental institution as marriage."

    Marriage is not a right, it is a privilege and a majority of California voters cast their ballots in 2000 to define marriage as that of a union between a man and a woman. The people have spoken, but this doesn't deter those "hyper-politically correct" folks who think defining marriage this way somehow descriminates against them and those they ally with.

    To some, this issue is not important and we should move on to more "pressing" matters. Do your homework and find out how redefining marriage has affected other countries who tried it. It is a significant change that will have a huge negative impact on our country. It is our responsibility as citizens to understand this issue and how it could potentially affect our culture and cast our votes accordingly.

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Forgive My Lack of Posts...

    Things have been a bit hectic around here as of late, which is why I have not posted much. I do have several ideas I am "chewing on" and plan to put something up soon that will hopefully be thought-provoking.

    In the meantime, I have been on a reading binge over the last month and would like to know if anyone has read any of the following titles, if so, what was your overall impression?

    1. 1984 - George Orwell
    2. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - Ken Kesey
    3. The Giver - Lois Lowry

    I am currently reading "Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury (if you have read it, please don't spoil it!).

    1. What did you like/dislike about each book?
    2. What thoughts were provoked while reading them?
    3. Are any of the concepts presented relevant to our time?

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Gang Bangers in the US Military Forces

    This is pretty shocking to hear. As if the military doesn't have enough to think about. There is also an interesting article here (Suntimes).

    Looks like our armed forces are somewhat loose about who they decide to hire. Now gangs have the penal institutions and the military to use for their own brand of "higher education". God help the neighborhoods these people are from when they return ready to use their new found skills to inflict harm.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Will the real Aunt Viv please stand up?

    If you are looking for some serious discussion, check out my last entry, "The Good News" and get in on the exchange "Outside the Box" and I are having about Christianity. If you are looking for a little levity, read on...

    As mentioned in an earlier blog, we have a new little boy at our house. This means getting up at least once in the "wee" hours to feed the little guy. We are blessed that he sleeps really well already and most times has to be stirred so we can give him a bottle. As mama is with both kids all day while I am at work, I have taken responsibility for doing this every night, which brings me to the subject of this post.

    In order to stay awake, I usually turn on the TV and do some channel surfing. Of course, at 3am the only thing to watch is lots of infomercials. There is however an oasis in the midst of the desert; you can find an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air on at least one channel at any time of night. I love this show, and as it had it's heyday around the time I was in High School it brings back lots of memories.

    Most of the characters are great and the show would not be the same without Will, Alfonso (who doesn't know how to do the "Carlton"?), and "Uncle Phil", AKA James Avery. Although the show ran for 6 years starting in 1990, I really don't remember not laughing out loud during an episode. I think they quit while they were still ahead creatively. The only problem I have with the show is when they changed the character of Aunt Vivian.

    The first "Aunt Viv", Janet Hubert-Whitten (pictured, 1990-1993) was perfect for the role and I thought added alot to the dynamic of the show. Anybody remember when everybody was holiday shopping and Aunt Viv got suckered into making a record in one of those mall booths? She did "Proud Mary" some justice! I will admit, I had a big ol' teenage crush on Aunt Viv in the episode where she decided to return to her love of dance and enrolled in ballet classes (she was the "hot" Aunt Viv in that one). Aside from all that she added to the show, she was the "OG" Aunt Viv and as far as I am concerned, the ONLY one!

    Apparently, Janet had some differences with cast members and decided to leave the show, while still pregnant no less. The nature of the disagreement is unknown to me but it's impact on my viewing enjoyment continues to this day, because it ushered in the era of the "Wack Aunt Viv", Daphne Reid (1993-1996).

    They could not have chosen a more different person to play the character! She looks completely different physically (height, body type, even color), and her attitude sucks! She is the Aunt Viv who nags too much and stands with her arms crossed dissapprovingly 85% of the time. I always feel sorry for Uncle Phil when this Aunt Viv is on the scene. If I were him, they would have had an episode where Aunt Viv gets mysteriously found in the trunk of her Benz at the bottom of a lake or something. Picture Lame Aunt Viv standing in a music booth at the mall singing a Tina Turner song, never happen! Or how about sporting a leotard taking some dance lessons? I shudder at the thought! Would Wannabe Aunt Viv teach a class on African American History at Will and Carlton's prep school and teach Will a thing or two about the REAL Malcolm X? Not even close!

    So, at 3 in the morning, picture me turning to one of a few channels and selecting one of several episodes of "Fresh Prince" hoping against all hope that the REAL Aunt Viv is representing.

    1. Do you have an "Aunt Viv" preference? If so, why?

    2. Favorite Fresh Prince episode?

    3. Favorite character?

    4. Know any good trivia about the show, or the actors?

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    The Good News

    I believe when man was created in the image of God, we had perfect fellowship with Him. Wanting us to love and obey Him willfully, God gave man a choice and provided guidelines and told him to eat freely of any tree in Eden except for one; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    Gen 2:15-17
    15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
    (from New International Version)

    With some help from a certain serpent, Eve chose to eat of this tree anyway as she saw that it was attractive and would certainly be good to taste.

    Gen 3:1-5
    3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (notice here that the serpent takes what God said out of context by saying, 'any tree'; he has not changed his strategy a bit!)
    2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
    4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
    (from New International Version)

    Eve perceived that understanding between good and evil would make her more like God, so pride was ultimately her downfall, and Adam gave in to the same temptation.

    Gen 3:6-7
    6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
    (from New International Version)

    I find God's treatment of the situation to be a very interesting view into the character of God:

    Gen 3:8-9
    8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
    (from New International Version)

    As the Bible says that God is omnipresent (existing everywhere) and omniscient (knowing all things), this question seems out of character, but I believe God wasn't trying to ascertain Adam's geographical whereabouts as much as He was trying to help Adam to realize what had occurred when he disobeyed. What He was really asking was, "Adam, where is your heart with me?" so Adam would do some analysis of himself and realize fellowship with his Creator had been broken. God's only concern is our hearts, and He uses every circumstance in life to help us realize where we are with Him; as creatures of His creation made for His enjoyment and glory, this is the most important question that can be asked.

    Now the bad news; since Adam fell and sinned against God, and was subsequently cast out of God's fellowship, we, being from the same bloodline, inherited that same propensity to disobey God. I speak of what the Bible describes as the "sinful nature". This is that force within us that causes sin, and must be dealt with above all. The acts of sin that we commit are just a result of this nature working in us, so there are two kinds of sin, the act, and the nature that produces the act.

    Rom 5:12
    12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-
    (from New International Version)

    So the sin nature was passed to us from Adam, and the result was that we committed the act of sin, in fact, we can do nothing else.

    Rom 3:23
    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    (from New International Version)

    Eccl 7:20
    20 There is not a righteous man on earth
    who does what is right and never sins.
    (from New International Version)

    Gal 3:22
    22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,
    (from New International Version)

    1 John 1:8
    8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
    (from New International Version)

    It would be to your benefit for me to leave you at this point for a time to ponder your fallen state before a righteous and holy God. What comes next is grace, which is never sweeter than when it is given in our hour of most dire need; when we are laid low and understand how unworthy we really are.

    But on to the good news. God did not leave it at that, but carefully restored us to fellowship with him by making the ultimate sacrifice. In the Old Testament, in order for sin to be forgiven, the blood (or life) of a spotless animal had to be spilled annually. The animal died as a propitiation, or appeasement, for the sins that were committed, so God's justice was satisfied for all the sinful acts of the prior year and punishment, which sin deserves, was avoided (phew!). These animal sacrifices were not the end, but were a shadow of things to come and in fact only dealt with the act of sin and not the nature that was guilty of committing them.

    God desired to make one final sacrifice, which would satisfy His justice once and for all, so that we could be restored to fellowship with Him unconditionally and permanently. What He did was send a perfect man, Jesus Christ, to live on the earth for 33 years without sin (the lamb without blemish or spot):

    Isaiah 53:9
    9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
    though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
    (from New International Version)

    Jesus lived on earth for the purpose of being the ultimate example of a life that was lived to please God. But even He knew that His purpose in coming here was to die, to be a propitiation for all of mankind.

    1 John 2:1-2
    2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
    (from New International Version)

    2 Cor 5:21
    21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
    (from New International Version)

    Rom 5:6-8
    6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    (from New International Version)

    Christ satisfied the Law of God through His death.

    So you see, the answer to the big question, "How does one get to heaven?" what I like to call enjoying fellowship with God forever, is really very simple.

    Rom 10:9-11
    9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
    (from New International Version)

    Notice I have said nothing about some number of works that you must do; no pilgrimage, no chants, no "Our Fathers". The verse above clearly states, "It is with your heart that you believe and are justified". So it is a matter of belief! Christ did everything, and we must simply lay hold of it! That really is "good news"!

    What must one do to avoid heaven? That too is simple. Ignore the facts that were just given to you and you will die separated from God, which is the second, or spiritual, death.

    Rom 6:23
    23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (from New International Version)

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Is God Politically Correct?

    Everywhere I turn there is this view of religion that assumes God is more interested in our definition of "fair" than in being specific about what He requires of us. This politically correct view of God is what causes allot of people to come to the conclusion that all religions are basically the same, just a different road leading to the same Higher Power, Supreme Being and a dozen other names given to God that strive, not to inform or edify, but to be as inoffensive as possible. This philosophy is paved with good intentions that struggle to be as inclusive as possible so that, heaven forbid, no single person is left out.

    Let me offer this.

    Remember the story of Cain and Abel? Cain was a farmer, and gave some of the first fruits of his crop on the altar. Abel killed an animal and gave that as his form of worship. What happened? Cain's sacrifice was rejected by God because it was not according to the manner in which God required.

    The "fair-minded" person would cry out, "Injustice! This is not fair!" Why would God reject Cain's sacrifice? Was it not given with the best of intentions? He labored for that crop, planting the seeds, watering them carefully and patiently waited for the seeds to sprout and grow into a plant that produces fruit. Why would a benevolent and loving God reject this man's sacrifice but accept the sacrifice of his brother?

    The answer is simple: Abel followed the instructions. God made it known to them both how He wanted sacrifices to be made and left them to choose. Abel chose well and his sacrifice pleased God, while Cain chose poorly and brought him correction. Let's look a little further at God's response.

    Gen 4:6-7
    6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

    (From New International Version)

    God didn't respond to Cain with punishment, but correction. He gave Cain an opportunity to correct himself and have his sacrifice be accepted. What a benevolent master!

    How did Cain respond? He lured his brother Abel to a field where he killed him and attempted to hide the remains from God.
    I ask you, is God unfair or unjust in punishing Cain by casting him out of His presence and cursing the rest of his days? I think not.

    In the same way that God required Cain and Abel to worship Him in a very specific manner, He also wants us to worship in a prescribed way.

    Now that we have a view of God and his requirements, let us take a look at how different religions describe what our purpose is.

  • Atheism: Only humans can help themselves and each other solve the world's problems.

  • Buddhism: Purpose is to avoid suffering and gain enlightenment and release from cycle of rebirth, or at least attain a better rebirth by gaining merit.

  • Gnosticism: Humans can return to the spiritual world through secret knowledge of the universe.

  • Hinduism: Humans are in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but are able to escape. Purpose is to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth.

  • Islam: Humans must submit (islam) to the will of God to gain Paradise after death.

    (credit to ReligionFacts for the info.)

    There are obviously hundreds more, but I believe the list above will serve us well in our comparative analysis.

    Every one of the religions listed above, as well as those not mentioned, believe and teach that their way to live for God and ultimately (for some) spend eternity with Him is THE way. Obviously they are not all the same, while they all teach ultimately that man should be morally good, they are all very different in describing why.

    Simple analysis brings me to the conclusion that if all of these teachings are fundamentally different, we must draw one of the following conclusions:

    1. They are ALL wrong.
    2. One of them is right.

    What we can not conclude is that they are ALL correct, because they disagree. God is not a God of confusion, but order, and it goes against His character to write a different prescription of worship for every culture that contradicts the way in which some other culture must worship.

    Would God on one hand tell the atheist to ignore Him and depend on man to solve the world's problems, while at the same time tell the Muslim to submit to Him in order to live a good life and get to heaven?

    It is important to remember that God created us and owes us nothing, while we owe Him our very lives. He us fully justified in asking what he wants of us, even if it offends us or violates our sensibilities. He is not obligated to us in any way but He is obligated to adhere to His own character and principles. What is exciting is that He gives us access to His thoughts, character, and principles through what He created: nature, the people around us, and the written word.

    Most significant of all, and more exciting, is that He came into our history as a man by way of a virgin birth, lived a perfect, sinless life for 33 years, was crucified in spite of His innocence on our behalf, was buried in a tomb for 3 days and rose again to conquer death; again, on behalf of those whom He has no obligation as the creatures of His own creation. I am not talking about the Bible, I am talking about history. I am not talking about religion; I am talking about having a relationship with the one who created us, ultimately fulfilling our purpose for existing.

    We are the ones that have fallen away through endless intellectual pontification, by limiting God to what we can understand or conceive, the clay telling the Potter how we must be formed and to what end He must use us. This is the worst form of pride, especially in the face of what He has done in spite of our hearts that have been darkened.

    God exists and created us to glorify and worship him. I don't mean worship as in standing in a church holding your hands up singing at the top of your lungs (this is the picture that always pops into my head when that word is spoken), although this is certainly a valid form of worship, but worshipping God with our thoughts, actions, words, conversations, generosity, and the like. He, as the creator, has the right to require that our worship be done in a very specific manner.

    Do you desire to worship God in the specific way that He requires? If so, you must search and decide what is the "sacrifice of Cain" and what is the acceptable form of worship, because He is NOT politically correct, nor is He interested in our definition of fairness or worship.
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Rare Please

    First off, I need to give due to James Manning for inspiring me to write this with his post about gas versus charcoal grilling. (Charcoal IS better, by the way)

    I have long been a fan of meat cooked as rare as humanly possible. In the words of a close friend, "Just knock the horns off and walk it through a warm kitchen!" Yummy. No, this is not just a macho male thing, where we eat something we really find disgusting to prove how manly we are. A steak, especially a Ribeye, but of pretty much any cut, tastes better rare than it does well-done. It's like comparing fine cuisine with eating the sole of a shoe.

    I believe strongly that the only people that really enjoy a well-done steak are those that are "grossed out" by the sight of a little blood on their plate, which is no reason to sacrifice flavor and moisture in your favorite cut of beef.

    The whole fear of diseases excuse doesn't hold water either, as any chef will tell you, as long as the internal temperature of the meat reaches a certian number of degrees, there is no harmful bacteria. How else could EVERY steak house offer rare meat as an option?

    There are certian establishments that will not serve meat cooked rare. I have been to more than one place that, when asked to prepare a steak or burger rare, the server responded with, "I'm sorry sir, we can only do meduim."


    My wife can give personal testimony of conversion from well done to rare. She was of the lot that was offended by red juicy goodness on her plate until one day, before we were married, she came to the house so that I could prepare a couple of ribeyes. When I asked her preference for doneness, she answered, "Well done please." I asked why of course as I am always concerned when people choose not to really enjoy their food, but would rather chew on a baseball glove, to which she responded, "It just grosses me out!" I talked her into trying it rare, and she has never eaten a well done steak since! So don't tell me people can't convert!

    Let me take a moment to rate some local steak houses according to their preparation technique (the flavor of the meat also has alot to do with how the raw meat is cured and every place has a different method), in order of preference:

    1. Black Angus: by far the best, they have been in San Diego as long as I can remember and are still doing it right. I always get grilled onion and mushrooms on the side of a big ol' ribeye steak.

    2. The Turf: this local eatery actually just hands you your cut of choice and lets you cook it yourself! Great for getting your steak the way you want and meeting new people with a love for dead flesh. It is cheaper than having someone else prepare it too.

    3. Chili's: I know, it's not even a steak house, but for a non-steak house, they have the best ribeye around, and will prepare it pretty rare if you ask with a healthy side of grilled mushrooms, onions, and veggies.

    4. Outback Steakhouse: purposely at the end of my list AND below Chili's because, in my opinion, they are the most overrated steakhouse around. This is what I call a trendy establishment, and for those meat lovers who haven't found out for themselves, don't bother.

    1. How do you order your steak? And more importantly, why?
    2. If you are a "well done", have you, or could you be persuaded to, try a rare cut of meat?
    3. What is your favorite cut of meat, and what do you get on the side?
    4. Take a moment to let us know about some good steak restaraunts in your neck of the woods.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    My Son's Birth Story

    I was completely ignorant of the whole concept of birth stories until I met my wife. She became very interested in birth once we learned our daughter (now 17 months old, time flies!) was on the way and immersed herself in everything birth related. We decided then to take classes on the Bradley method of childbirth due to its philosophy of natural childbirth (and by that I mean birth with as little medical intervention as possible) for the sake of the child. It was during one of these classes that I was introduced to the concept of the Birth Story. We were encouraged to write our ideal Birth Story for our unborn daughter and to ask our parents about ours. I had never even considered asking my mother to describe the events surrounding my birth before, but when I asked and heard the story, it gave me more of a sense of being than I had ever had before. It was like my story now had a beginning that was more definite than "when I was younger". I encourage anyone who has been born ;) or has children to be prepared to share these stories; I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how people respond.

    In that spirit, here is the story of how my son was born:

    At the time we learned our second child was on the way, our daughter was a mere 6 months old and we had barely, if at all, gotten used to this new person so the news was initially a shock. Needless to say, we hadn't planned on having a second child so soon, although we definitely wanted at least one or two more at some point. What is comical too, and please excuse me if this is too much info, is that we were using contraception at the time our son was conceived, but one passionate evening we went without because Daddy didn't want to wait, or go to the store! At any rate, when people ask the question (quite often by the way), "Did you guys plan that pregnancy?" our answer is always, "No, God did!"

    So upon finally hearing the "Big News", we began to go to the usual appointments and such and our minds began to envision what the birth would be like. It should be noted that the birth of our daughter, although we planned on having her naturally, ended up being a cesarean section after 56 hours of labor. Although that is a heck of a long time, we felt, and still feel the doctor was hasty in deciding on surgery as Mother and baby were both fine (albeit VERY tired!). As this was most likely done to avoid being sued in the case that something did go wrong, my wife and I struggled for some time with the disappointment that the birth of our daughter was essentially taken out of our control and instead of being performed without medical intervention, had every medical intervention known to man.

    We also had the fun task of letting people know the good news; needless to say the grandparents were especially thrilled; they are addicted to grandbabies! Some people, upon hearing the news and noticing how young our daughter still was, would cast a glance at me as if to say, "You barbarian! Give the woman a break!" Of course, being male, I beamed with pride at how easily I could make babies happen and gave myself the nickname, "Sharp Shooter". Also keep in mind, my wife and I were married April 24, 2004 and here we were in mid 2006 expecting baby #2. My wife has spent the better part of our marriage carrying a baby and not being able to see her feet!

    We decided on hypno-birthing this time around and wanted a home birth to hopefully avoid the pitfalls of hospital birth where doctors essentially treat pregnant woman as if they have some dreaded disease and haven't been birthing babies for centuries.

    Let me take a second to clarify something before I continue; when I say "We decided" what I mean is, my wife decided and I supported her in that decision, I would never mandate that my wife have any certain method of birth as it is something that she ultimately has to bear, no matter how good of a cheering squad she has.

    Once it was clear my wife would birth at home a few things became automatic:
    1. We needed a Midwife and a Doula as part of our "Birth Team".

    2. We needed lots of support from our relatives to the people at our church so we put the word out. So the interview process began. After talking with several people of both professions (and hiring and firing one or two) and lots of meditation and prayer, we had found the perfect team to assist us in having our child at home. What a load off!

    3. We needed to come up with some money, because most insurance won't even cover home birth, and if they do, it is a pay first get reimbursed later kind of situation.

    We proceeded by faith, knowing that God would provide all that we needed spiritually, emotionally, and materially for this home birth as it was our firm conviction (most of the time) that this was indeed His will and not ours.

    All in all, the pregnancy went pretty well, and then again I wasn't the pregnant one now was I? The things I noticed were that wifey's nausea didn't last as long as it did with our first, and we generally weren't surprised by certain developments related to pregnancy because, after all, we had been here before!

    At 10 weeks, we opted to have an ultrasound to not only determine the gender of the baby, but also to make sure everything was as it should be concerning the health of the fetus. An interesting thing, when we found out it was a boy, I had a feeling of joy that was not greater than the joy I had with my daughter, but different somehow. It's hard to describe, but some part of me was just satisfied now that I knew a boy was coming. Maybe it has something to do with that innate part of the male that wants to procreate and carry on his seed or something like that.

    At some point during the pregnancy, my wife and I both became confident that this child would be born earlier than the expected due date. Don't ask why, it was just a "gut" thing, and our daughter was a week early, so the odds favored our theory. As the days passed, and the due date passed, our impatience reached a point to where any hint of a labor pain, no matter how subtle, made us almost jump. We were at the edge of our seats! It didn’t help that normally after a woman has given birth before, her body start "getting ready" a lot earlier so we endured weeks of "false alarms".

    Finally, on May 29th 2006, around 10:30pm, my wife wakes me up and says, "This is it!” Now mind you, we have had this happen a couple times before and it wasn't "it" but something in her behavior told me this was something different. Most people who have had children before will tell you that when real labor starts, it's like being in love, you just know.

    I immediately called Dawn, our doula and let her know things had started so she should be ready to get over to our house on short notice. I then started getting the house ready: turning off all the lights and lighting candles to create a calm environment, soft music, getting rid of any clutter so mama wouldn't be distracted by disorganization. I also started filling a child inflatable pool with warm water in the dining room as wifey wanted to try using this for pain management. Remember, we are not at a hospital so to manage pain, we helped her get into various positions, including sitting on an exercise ball, the kiddy pool, and anything that works basically.

    Shortly after I started running my little errands, mama (who earlier had just told me to let Dawn know what was going on, no rush says, "Call Dawn and tell her I need her." So I called Dawn and she was on her way. By now it had been probably less than an hour and mama was really feeling the pain and seemed surprised at how much she was having.

    Dawn arrives and starts doing her little routine preparatory things in a very methodical way, you could tell she had done this many times, probably with little sleep herself. We found out later she had basically just returned from a birth right around the time I called to alert her and had managed about 30 minutes sleep.

    Close to 2 hours in and mama is moaning at the surges (contractions to most, we assigned non-negative terms to all normally used labor words to maintain a positive, stress free environment). At this time she asked if she could get in the pool, and Dawn suggested she wait as it seemed a bit early. Dawn and I were taking turns using a combination of aroma therapy lotion scented with lavender and light touch massage on my wife's legs to help her deal with the surges.

    Less than an hour later, mama wants the pool again and this time Dawn concedes. I made sure the water was nice and warm as 107 degrees is ideal. I had hooked up a garden hose to the kitchen sink with an adapter so we could control water temperature. So we did the pool thing for a while, which seemed to help. After we had done this for a bit, Dawn told me to call the midwife and put her on red alert too. Our doula had been to so many births that she estimated mama's progress based solely on her body language and give a pretty good estimation of her cervical opening without an exam, amazing!

    When the midwife and her assistant arrived we were still in the pool, and now mama was completely focused, no more chit chat and asking questions, she was serious now. I estimate this was around 6 o'clock am, so she has been at it for almost 8 hours. The midwives have a lot more preparation to do as they have a lot more medical equipment at their disposal. They also had to check that we had all of the necessary medical supplies. They have kits for home birth complete with all necessary latex gloves, gauze, etc.

    From between 7am and 10am it seemed like we just moved mama around the house to try different things, which I am sure drove the midwives crazy as they kept having to move their stuff around. We had set up pain management "stations" all over the house: an exercise ball here, birth stool there, the pool of course, so mama just kept going where it sounded good.

    It was around this time that wifey wanted to know how far along things were and asked the midwife to do what would be her first cervical exam, which would tell us how open she was. I think she was at 8cm by this point which meant not long to go, hopefully.

    Not too long after this, we were in the bed trying side positions, and mama was getting a lot of back pain and the midwives and doula decided it may have been due to the position of the baby. For those familiar with labor, back pain is usually associated with the baby being in a posterior birth position, where the baby is facing mama's front instead of back. Babies are born this way a lot, but it causes more pain for the birthing mother. That wasn't the case with our son, for him it was that his feet were sticking straight out under my wife's sternum, and his head was right next to her tailbone. When she had surges, you could actually see his head moving down, wow! This was giving mama more pain than normal so we tried moving the baby. We started by having mama alternate lying on each side for a time to encourage the baby to slide into the right position, which didn't seem to do much.

    It was at this time that mama decided the whole home birth thing was too much and that we should load her up in the car and go to the hospital. We talked to her and reminded her of her birth plan and her dream of having the baby at home, but she was adamant! Finally, the midwife dismissed everyone to the living room and left me and mama alone in the bedroom to chat. I again reminded her of what she wanted so badly and that if she caved now she might regret it. She said, "I don't care! I wanna go!" (This was expressed in the brattiest tone she could muster; she might as well have crossed her arms and stuck out her bottom lip). I also knew that she was at the point called transition, where the baby begins to make its way into the pelvis. The body responds to this development by increasing the amount of hormones in the bloodstream, a natural pain management tool which also causes mother to become confused and disoriented. This completely undermines their confidence as well, which explains perfectly my wife's assertion that she absolutely can not go on. I continued to persuade, but she wasn't budging. Finally, she commanded me, "Go and tell Michelle (midwife) that we are going!" My reply was, "I am not telling her anything, YOU ARE!" So I went to Michelle and told her my wife wanted to speak to her. I late found out this was the LAST thing my wife wanted, as she felt she would be less effective in manipulating her.

    My wife continued to be stubborn, so Michelle suggested they do another exam and find out how things were progressing. She discovered that the bag of water had not yet broken and suggested that breaking it manually might get things going and ease the pressure of the back pain. Mama agreed that this was a good idea, to which we all breathed a sigh of relief! None of us wanted to go to a hospital at this stage. So the waters were broken manually, which did ease the pain and gave mama back some of her resolve.

    There was still the problem with the baby being too close to her tailbone, so we tried one last thing. I leaned against a wall holding mama under her arms with the two midwives on each of her sides supporting her body weight as she had to completely relax. Meanwhile the doula was holding under mama's pregnant tummy and lifting straight up. We did this 4 times and by then everyone was exhausted. We also tried similar things with her sitting and various other ways. According to the midwife, it helped.

    Let me just tell you, by this time, I was so tired I had almost passed out and had basically only had water to drink since 10:30pm and it was probably 11am. I know, I know, this was nothing compared to what my wife was experiencing, but the point is, having a birth at home is hard work for EVERYONE involved!

    My wife's mother was with us fortunately and was watching our one year old (she was a God send!)And she made some food for everyone. After eating, the midwife suggested I take a short nap, as they had done so and could see I was pretty wiped out. I took their advice and lay down.

    I think I slept for about 30 minutes, so by my estimation it would be about 11:30am or so. I got up and went into the kitchen where my wife was, you guessed it, back in the water! She was working pretty hard and grandma and our daughter was in the kitchen as well. I got behind mama and let her rest her weight against me as the side of the inflatable pool wasn't real supportive. We did this for a couple minutes tops, and someone suggested it was pushing time. Not long to go now!

    It took about 20 minutes of good pushes, and the doula said, "She's crowning!" and they told me to reach under and feel my sons head. It was under water, so it was wet and really fuzzy. My wife was really getting the urge to push and the team suggested she only push through every other surge and breathe through the rest, to allow her perineum to stretch. She ignored this and was pushing away every time and this is when she really got loud! Up until now it was mostly low, guttural moans and whimpering, but now she was screaming at the top of her lungs. My daughter was a little traumatized by this so grandma took her into the next room.

    By now I am right in front of mama, who is lying in the pool at a 45 degree angle, and holding the little fuzzy round thing and all of a sudden my mama pushes and our son literally shoots out of her into my hands! I can't describe to you how amazing this was! One moment, he is in her body, and the next I am holding his body and seeing his hands, feet, fingers, toes, his umbilical cord, wow!

    I felt his wet little warm body, which was all blue and really long! He seemed like a tangle of arms and legs! I was thinking he was a big fella while I handed him to my wife, who kept saying, "Oh my God, I can't believe this!" She was definitely in shock at what she had just done, and it took a minute to process that she was holding the baby that was inside her. At some point, the cord had gotten around his neck and my wife, in shock, kept lifting him straight up, to which the midwife kept saying, "Don't lift him up, keep him down!" She finally listened after the second time and we got the cord untangled.

    The baby had good heartbeat right away, but seemed to have trouble respirating for a couple minutes which was scary. He stayed that blue color for what seemed to me like too long, and the midwife kept ordering us to rub him and talk to him. I was very scared at this point as I sensed everything was not as it should be. My wife had torn a bit as well and the pool water was red with her blood, adding to my panic. The midwife kept giving the baby oxygen and he finally let out a good cry! What a relief! There was a split second there where I went to that place in my mind where I may have to deal with my son dying at birth. That was definitely the worst feeling, but it passed quickly and he was fine after all.

    In the end, we were both glad we decided to have home birth, it was awesome and we can tell our son when he gets older what his birth was like and how much we went through just so he could be healthy.

    He was born at 12:10pm, May 30, 2006 at 9 pounds 14 ounces and 22 1/2 inches long. Baby and mama are doing great and big sister loves having a little brother.

    Our family is feeling complete now; I guess we will wait a bit before making any more babies.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    A Bit of a Sabbatical

    I have barely had time to peruse the blogs as of late, much less actually write one myself. I miss this therapy, but the trade-off is I get to spend time with my son, who was born just a few weeks ago.

    Psalm 127:3-5
    3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
    children a reward from him.
    4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are sons born in one's youth.
    5 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
    They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
    (from New International Version)

    So that makes 1 girl and 1 boy, which means the pressure to "keep trying" is off and we can wait a few years before adding more to our family. The missus will probably enjoy having a view of her feet again as she has been pregnant for the better part of the last 2 years. It's the least I can do, after all, she gave me a son!

    Eli was born at home under water (this was amazing and I am considering posting the birth story) and weighed in at 9 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 22 1/2 inches long (a "big 'un" indeed!). After 3 weeks of eating and sleeping, he is already in excess of 10 pounds, outgrown newborn diapers and clothes, and is keeping me and Mrs. Bullfrog on our toes to say the least.

    Our daughter is taking it all in stride and loves to greet her little brother with a, "Hi Eli!" and a gentle pat on the head (VERY adorable).

    I have been reading your posts and have a few blogs stored up, to be published later, time permitting.

    Happy blogging.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Testimony of Jeremiah Robinson

    Be warned, this is a long blog, but I promised I would share how I became a Christian, so here is my story:

    I was born and raised in San Diego along with an older brother by a single mother. We were taught to be honest, hard-working and self-sufficient. The subject of religion or God was never really talked about. Life was about earning a living, having a family and treating others as you would like to be treated.

    My childhood was somewhat unstable due to the fact that we moved around a lot. From the time I was born we lived in San Diego, Arizona, Oklahoma, Northern California, and even lived in the Philippines for two years when I was 10 years old. Raising two boys on her own was difficult for my mother but she did the best she knew how and we always knew we were loved. Both of my parents were using drugs and alcohol from the time I was a baby and my mother sold drugs from time to time to make ends meet so I was exposed to a lot of things early on that I probably should not have been.

    I enjoyed school and always got good grades and managed to stay out of trouble for the most part. Having an older brother who got into trouble a lot helped me to decide what not to do. It wasn’t until my senior year of High School that I decided to start using drugs and alcohol. I did this partly because I had started my senior year at a new school and it was an easy way to gain acceptance from the peer group that was around, and that is what you are “supposed” to do senior year right? My older brother partied a lot and our house was the “place to be” for a while. Using drugs and drinking gave me instant friends (of course, the sincerity of those friendships would not be understood until later). By the end of my senior year most of the people I spent time with were involved with drugs or gangs and had spent some part of their life incarcerated. These weren’t what I considered to be “bad” people but people who had poor decisions and they didn’t make the best role models.

    About a year after graduating high school I was living in my Grandmothers house and working full time. On the weekends I would drink and get high and I had pretty much accepted that that was the life I wanted to live. I saw family in my future but to me drugs and alcohol would always play a part in my recreation. My Aunt Rose was living next door to me at the time and she would always invite me to church and tell me about Jesus. I basically thought she was nuts and didn’t really care to hear about it. I saw her as weak because she needed some higher power to get through life and I didn’t need that.

    She was very persistent in inviting me to church every week, although I would not relent, I simply didn’t see the point and was content with my life. One particular weekend, my Aunt Rose told me that the high school ministry at her church was having a special guest, a Christian rap group called “Christian MCs”. This I was intrigued by my love of rap music to go, and I thought maybe my crazy Aunt would finally stop bugging me about this Jesus person! So I went and listened to the concert, which was good, and of course it was followed by the gospel message. I felt really out of place there and didn’t plan to go back.

    Around June of 1993, a new girl named Jennifer was hired at my job and I developed an instant attraction to her physically. In talking to her I found out she was a Christian and she started inviting me to church. I started going to church with Jennifer, my aunt, and her son, my cousin Trevor on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings for the purpose of impressing Jennifer and getting her to like me. I hoped that my “hard work” would pay off in at least a physical relationship, if nothing else.

    In July 1993 an outreach called “Harvest” was in town and would be at the local sports stadium then called Jack Murphy Stadium. Jennifer was going, so guess what? So was I! My aunt and cousin attended as well. There were several speakers from various local churches talking about God, Jesus, and the rest. I was just thinking, “Blah, blah, let’s get this over with so we can go!”

    The final speaker was Pastor Greg Laurie from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and he shared a message about the Prodigal Son:

    The story is about a man who grows tired of living according to his father’s wishes and decides to take his inheritance and strike out on his own. His father gives him what he asks for and sends him on his way, wishing him well.

    The man soon squanders his inheritance and is working as a servant feeding the pigs of a farmer. He is so poor and hungry that one day he found himself tempted by the pig slop, and eats some! Of course it’s terrible and he thinks to himself, “Even my father’s servants eat and live better than I am. I will go back to him and beg for a job as one of his servants, as I don’t deserve be his son.”

    He heads for home, and his father sees him from far off, recognizes him, and rejoices at his sons return. He commands one of his servants to slaughter a calf to roast in celebration and runs to his son. He greets him with a kiss on the cheek and an embrace, placing his signet ring on his finger and some fine clothes, signifying his restoration to full sonship.

    At that moment, everything the speaker was saying became clear to me and 3 things which never occurred to me suddenly became obvious:

    1. There was a God.
    2. He loved me dearly and wanted to restore me to sonship.
    3. My sin was keeping me from Him.

    Seems like bad news, until Pastor Greg shared that God had made a way, through His own son Jesus, for me to be forgiven and reconciled. Greg offered that anyone who felt called to give their heart to Christ could pray with him and receive the free gift of salvation.

    I was literally on the edge of my seat, wanting to go down to the football field and turn my life over to God, but I was hesitant, too embarrassed to make a spectacle of myself. Suddenly, my 12 year old cousin Trevor leans over and asks, “Do you want to go down?” I said, “Yes!” and instantly got up. He led the way down to the field where hundreds were already gathered and I prayed with them that God would accept me on behalf of Christ and restore me to son ship and eternal life with Him.

    And He did.

    The last 13 years since then has been an adventure, to say the least, but that is a subject of perhaps another blog.

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    What Happens... Part 2

    There are a lot of philosophies dealing with death.

    Some believe in Heaven and Hell and that in order to choose which place you go to, you must make the right choices in life, be a "good person". In this case, Heaven and Hell can take on a variety of definitions but sufficed to say, one is meant to reward, while the other is designed to punish.

    Others believe we live multiple lives, taking on different forms depending, once again, on our performance and treatment of our fellow man.

    One I always found interesting is the belief that we are just annihilated at death, nothing lives on beyond that.

    As most philosophies and religions teach that death is indeed not really the end, let us leave the "annihilated at death" argument and assume that while our bodies are mortal, some part of us lives on after our flesh has expired.

    For the sake of the discussion, I will refer to this part of humankind as "essence" (any Emeril fans out there?).

    Presumably, the essence is eternal. And specifically I mean that it lives on forever, but not necessarily that it had no beginning. The question is did it have a beginning? At conception, did we "inherit" this essence from our mother? Or did our father pass it on to us? Assuming this essence had no real beginning but has always been there, where did it come from? Did it emanate from another being, or did all of our individual "essences" co-exist together before they lived in us?

    All of these questions, if we took them seriously, would profoundly affect our lives.

    If we just disappear and no part of us lives on, then we really aren't obligated to be "good" to ourselves or one another except for the purely selfish motive that we want to live well while we are here. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

    On the other hand, if there is a Heaven and Hell where we are either punished or rewarded based on our performance, suddenly we have incentive to act right, or as right as we know how.

    What is it within man that motivates him to be kind, generous, careful, thoughtful, and all the others qualities that make us human? Is there really a "basic goodness" that we all posses?

    Either we are accountable to the giver of this life, we by nature "respect" the essence of others, or we are just being good for the sake of our own enjoyment.

    Do you believe in a literal heaven and hell, or reincarnation? Or maybe annihilation?

    If you believe in the eternal part of humankind, where did it come from?

    Are we accountable to the source of this life?

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    What Happens to Us When We Die?

    This may sound like a childish question to some, but eventually, everyone ponders this thought. Human mortality is a fact of life, but do any of us really take it seriously unless it is our time to go?

    This is something I never gave a second thought when I was younger. What pre-teen or teenager wants to think about dying, much less the hereafter? Part of youth is that feeling of being invincible, nothing can touch you!

    For me, getting married and then having children helped to make me aware that I will not always be around. It's funny how being depended upon by others accomplishes this. I take better care of myself in a lot of different ways solely because I want to be there for the people who need me for as long as possible.

    Another life event that forces you to ponder death is when you lose loved ones. For me it was grandparents, an uncle, I lost my first wife who was only 35 at the time. The relative age of those you lose affects your reaction to it. When my grandmother and grandfather both died at 84 years of age, it was very sad for those of us that could not see them again in this life, but definitely not a surprise. When someone dies at an age that is considered "too young" it is a tragedy and everyone is shocked. No one sees that coming. My uncle died after years of drug use, and it seemed like a waste that he didn't clean himself up at some point before he left us.

    So the condition of the person dying and our perception of how useful their lives were all help to form our reaction to death.

    How often have you pondered the question of your own mortality?

    What specific events brought this to your mind?

    Have you come to any specific conclusions about death, such as what happens after?

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Rant from a Disenfranchised Conservative

    This is the most telling statement made by our President recently:

    "The objective is, on the one hand, protect our borders, and on the other hand, never lose sight of the thing that makes America unique, which is we're a land of immigrants. ... We're not going to discriminate against people," Bush said.

    Sounds to me like some fine fence-riding. On one hand, we got to get tough and protect our borders, while still rewarding those who have broken our laws to come here. NOT rewarding them and punishing them and those that hire them is apparently discrimination.

    The premise that, "they are already here, so we may as well give them temporary work status" doesn't play with me. I liken it to giving 13 year olds condoms because, "well, they are curious and will probably have intercourse anyway, so they may as well do it in a safe manner."

    Any reasonable person would agree that statement 2 is just a result of bad parenting, so what does that say for the angle President Bush is taking?

    This is a bit of a rant, and for that I apologize. I am just frustrated because I voted for George Bush both terms and overall I am not satisfied with his track record.

    Here's an interesting statement I found on Yahoo from El Presidente Vicente on the matter. Naturally, he was "concerned" that Bush was militarizing the border, as if that is in no way reasonable.

    Bush also assured Fox that any military support would be administrative and logistical and would come from the National Guard and not the Army, according to a news release from Fox's office.

    So we are going to have, no offense to those in our National Guard, a bunch of pencil pushers sent to the border to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants? Pardon me if I am not thrilled, but insulted at this obvious political gesture.

    I have also been hearing a lot of comments around the blogosphere about Conservatives that are "deserting" President Bush over just this issue and the implication is that this is somehow disloyal. Let me make myself perfectly clear in this matter: I am not blindly loyal to ANY MAN, including our President. I voted for George W. Bush because I thought HE was conservative, but I was wrong. Big time.

    I am calling out anyone who would like to show me ONE piece of legislation or spending initiative put forth by our President that shows he is a conservative at heart.

    Those who would like to see this whole situation in its reality, you need a Biblical world view. Not a liberal, conservative, or independent one. If you understand the Bible prophesy about Global Governance and One World Government, suddenly all of what is happening begins to make perfect sense.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Battleground God

    I was over at Cynthia's and took the Battleground God questionnaire. It was amusing at best due to the fact that it is based on "The god of Philosophy" (who doesn't exist). I didn't fair too well, due to the fact that my beliefs were not in line with the philosphical viewpoints that provide the premise for the test.

    Below are some analysis of areas where I took some hits:

    Analysis of your Direct Hits

    Direct Hit 1

    You answered "True" to questions 10 and 14.

    These answers generated the following response:

    You've just taken a direct hit! Earlier you agreed that it is rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.

    The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.


    Obviously, I was a little biased here as I have never seen evidence of the Monster of Loch Ness, but can see evidence of God by looking out a window and observing nature.

    Rom 1:18-20
    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    (from New International Version)

    Direct Hit 2

    You answered "False" to Question 7 and "True" to Question 17.

    These answers generated the following response:

    You've just taken a direct hit! Earlier you said that it is not justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, paying no regard to the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of this conviction, but now you say it's justifiable to believe in God on just these grounds. That's a flagrant contradiction!


    Analysis of your Bitten Bullets

    Bitten Bullet 1

    You answered "False" to questions 6 and 7.

    These answers generated the following response:

    You're under fire! You don't think that it is justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, paying no regard to the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of this conviction. But in the previous question you rejected evolutionary theory when the vast majority of scientists think both that the evidence points to its truth and that there is no evidence which falsifies it. Of course, many creationists claim that the evidential case for evolution is by no means conclusive. But in doing so, they go against scientific orthodoxy. So you've got to make a choice: (a) Bite the bullet and say there is evidence that evolution is not true, despite what the scientists say. (b) Take a direct hit and say that this is an area where your beliefs are just in contradiction.

    You chose to bite the bullet.


    I chose to bite the bullet rather than agree with humanist scientists grasping at evolutionary straws!

    Bitten Bullet 2

    You answered "True" to Question 16.

    This answer generated the following response:

    You've just bitten a bullet! In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (like creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.


    Ok, the test got me here. The whole debate about what God can't do, like sin, or violate human free will; or as the question suggests, make 1 + 1 = 72, is still a little beyond me.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Legal Drugs in Mexico

    According to this article on CNN's website. Mexico is a signature away from de-criminalizing several dangerous substances.

    "No charges will be brought against ... addicts or consumers who are found in possession of any narcotic for personal use," according to the Senate bill, which also lays out allowable quantities for an array of other drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and amphetamines.

    What is ironic is the penalties for selling these substances will remain.

    It also stiffens penalties for trafficking and possession of drugs -- even small quantities -- by government employees or near schools, and maintains criminal penalties for drug sales.

    Those who understand just how corrupt the Mexican government is will not be suprised by this news, while all others should pay careful attention because this is one of the countries we are planning on "joining" to become "The New America" where all of their inherent problems become ours!

    Imagine how much money this new "law" will generate for Mexico as countless American college students and drug users flood the border towns looking for a fix.

    The fact that we are in bed with this country in alot of ways should alarm you.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    The New America

    I've been doing some research on globalism and have found alarming evidence that America, in particular the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are working together to create a "New North America", a borderless continent. I found one website, "The American Resistance" that did a great job of collecting the information.

    Here are a few key passages:

    In March 2005, President George W. Bush and the leaders of Mexico and Canada announced the establishment of the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America." This represents the official public beginning of an ongoing series of agreements and implementations aimed at combining the economies, populations and cultures of the nations of North America into a borderless “North American Free Trade Zone”.

    While most Americans expect to pass on to their children a nation of law, with defined, secured borders - and a common language, the Globalist elite who are actually making the decisions concerning our future have a far different America in mind.

    There is a section in the article called, "Organizations and their agendas" that contains tons of links indicating that this is no hidden secret thing but a bold plan that is being revealed right under our noses, and without our votes.

    In light of this information, the illegal immigration issue that so many Americans are passionate about, me included, is just a stepping stone to a global economy that those who represent us have no intention of really dealing with. I predict we will hear a lot of empty promises this coming election about how the borders need to be closed, with no action.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    He has risen!

    This Sunday we take time to celebrate the most significant event in world history which can be summed up in three words:

    Mark 16:6
    He has risen!
    (from New International Version)

    If this were not true, we would all surely be lost.

    Please have a great Easter weekend!

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Immigration "Reform"

    I read this article at Breitbart.com and laughed out loud at my desk.

    It looks like Congress is getting close to sealing a deal on the illegal immigration problem.

    Here is the gist of the new proposed "rules" for illegals already living here:

    While final details were not available, in general, the compromise would require illegal immigrants who have been in the United States between two years and five years to return to their home country briefly, then re-enter as temporary workers. They could then begin a process of seeking citizenship.

    Laughable. So, in essence, what we are saying is, "Okay guys, we KNOW you came here by breaking the law, but now we want to put you on the honor system, whadaya say?".

    Illegal immigrants here longer than five years would not be required to return home; those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without assurances of returning, and take their place in line with others seeking entry papers.

    So if I am an illegal immigrant who has been living here for 2 weeks, I am telling the INS that I have been here 5 years, no make it 6 just so it doesn't seem like I am lying, and this way, I stay put. The whole premise is that these people of questionable scruples are suddenly going to "fess up" and not only tell us they are illegal, but exactly how long they have been here, whether it is to their advantage or not.

    Standing before television cameras after an appearance Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., Bush said he was pleased that Republicans and Democrats were working together.

    I am utterly disappointed in the President's treatment of this issue and it goes to show that no matter how many people in this Democracy cry out, in the end, money talks. The financial advantages of illegal immigration must outweigh our need for truly secure borders. How else would you explain this?

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    The Open Border Conspiracy

    I heard an interesting piece on talk radio the other day about immigration that directly contradicts what the MSM is putting out there. As I mentioned, it was on the radio, so I have no sources to link you to. I have started some independent research but surprisingly, am unable to find any websites dealing with the issue in this way.

    The host of The McGuire Fire, Paul McGuire, asserts that the debate about closing our borders, in particular the U.S./Mexico border, is futile. Why? Because for years the U.S. Government has planned to open the borders for socio-economic reasons. Paul explains that a cheap and disposable work force benefits our economy in such a way that our leadership does not intend to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

    While I was surprised at hearing this, both because it never occurred to me, and it goes against what we keep hearing from the Left and the Right: that our open border is a major threat to our safety in light of the terrorists that can take advantage of how soft it is.

    His perspective is consistent with the lack of real action from our government on this issue. We are told that the budget for the Border Patrol has increased and they have been provided with new officers, as well as new state of the art equipment and housing for detainees. But really, hasn't the number of illegals passing over our border continued to increased in spite of this?

    Many are saying that the upcoming election will hinge on which party is tougher on immigration, but using this theory as a premise, I expect to hear alot of promises and no real action when it comes to really closing our borders.

    I definitely want to look into this more closely, especially in light of the fact that so many on both sides of this issue are so passionate (including me). I have even emailed Mr. McGuire and asked for sources and plan to do a follow up post real soon.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Enough Said...

    GreyGhost, in dealing with a Troll over at his Blog, managed to sum up my thoughts nicely on the current political climate. Check the comments on the article, "Liberals Still Pushing For Change To Electoral College".

    Nice going Grey!

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    We Need to Get Back to Conservative Values

    I read an interesting article about helping America return to more Conservative values. This guy is trying to sell a book, but he suggests a "blueprint" of values can be created by asking 6 questions about any government action or policy under consideration. I believe these questions can just as easily serve as a litmus test for how "involved" government is in our lives socially. Here they are:

    1. Is it the government’s business?
    2. Does it promote self-reliance?
    3. Is it responsible?
    4. Does it make America more prosperous?
    5. Does it make us safer?
    6. Does it unify us?

    I believe Liberals and Conservatives alike can agree that these questions are good ones to ask before we give the Fed the right to make policy.

    I will comment this blog and list existing policies which I believe should get a resounding "NO!" to these questions.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Historicity of the New Testament

    Everything I believe about Jesus I have read in the Bible. This for many begs the question, “Why is the Bible a reliable source of information about this person?” My answer is that the Bible is not only a good source of information about Christ and world history at that time, but it is the best documentation we possess regarding the events of Jesus and his contemporaries.

    This is quite a claim. Please continue reading and find out why I am convinced of this.

    As the New Testament contains the genealogy, birth, life, subsequent death and resurrection of Christ I will focus on the NT and not the Old Testament when dealing with historicity. It should also be said that I intend to use sources of information that use historiography to establish a documents historicity. A scientific method would be inappropriate as none of the events depicted in any historical document can be proven empirically, as those events can not be recreated in a controlled environment. In my readings, I have seen those who claim that the existence of Christ is "un-scientific" which is why I made this stipulation. If you are looking for scientific proof of history, you will find none.

    There are 3 basic tests for historicity:

  • Bibliographical: seeks to determine how many manuscript copies we have of the document and how far removed they are in time from the originals (see table here). This I believe to be the most compelling evidence proving the Bible to be accurate and reliable. A comparison to Homer's Iliad shows that the manuscript reliability of the Bible is unmatched:

    Homer's Iliad

  • Date Written: 900 B.C.
  • Earliest Copy: 400 B.C.
  • Approximate Time Between Original and Copy: 500 years
  • Number of Copies: 643
  • Accuracy of Copies: 95% (very good)

  • The Bible (Specifically the New Testament)

  • Date Written: 50-100 A.D. Initially the time between the oral and written records was thought to be 3 times this long, but later findings proved the actual amount of time to be within the 1st century A.D.
  • Earliest Copy: c. 130 A.D.
  • Approximate Time Between Original and Copy: Less than 100 years
  • Number of Copies: 5,600 (19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages, for a total of > 24,000 copies.)
  • Accuracy: 99.5% (unheard of)

  • Let me take a moment to explain the statistics I have covered above:

    The reason we compare the date written with the earliest copy of the manuscript is that oral record, although fairly reliable during this time as there were no printing presses so it was the only method available, has been deemed by critics to be susceptible to exaggeration and rumor over the course of a few hundred years. The fact that the time span between oral and written record of the NT is less than 100 years (some believe ~80 years) is significant in that most historians believe this to be more than adequate to dismiss claims of exaggeration by the writer. This is also significant because had the writer taken liberties with the facts, he would have more than likely been met with opposition and corrected by his contemporaries.

    As stated above, the manuscript evidence (MSS) of the Bible far outweighs any other document we consider to be reliable. For comparison, your average history book used in public schools has about 2 dozen manuscripts.

  • Internal: asks whether the document itself claims to be actual history written by eyewitnesses. The Bible makes this claim in many places; just to name a few: Luke 1:2, Acts 4:20, Acts 10:39, 2 Peter 1:16, Heb 2:3, 1John 1:1

  • External: asks whether material external to the document confirms the reliability of the document. The Bible makes dozens of references that can be used as "checkpoints" to validate it's historicity. References to significant events of the day and externally documented events such as the Roman census are examples of checkpoints. More examples of these found in the Bible can be found here

    What has been your overall impression of the Bible as a historical document?

    How did you come to this conclusion? I ask this because a majority of people I have come across make claims of Bible inerrancy and contradiction but have never actually picked up a Bible and read it, but are simply repeating what they have heard.

    If the Bible must be accepted as historically accurate, what implications are there for world religions that differ in their treatment of the person of Jesus Christ?

    What implications would this hold for you personally?