Friday, November 16, 2018

The Essence of Economics

In his forward to Wealth and Poverty, Steve Forbes wrote, "Economists ill-serve themselves by describing economics as being about the allocation of scarce resources. It is about the creation of resources."

He then gave an example: "Oil, for instance, is described as a natural resource. It isn't. In and of itself it is simply sticky glop. It was human ingenuity that turned this goo into something the world can't live without."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Salt in a Wound

It seems in time of abundance, understanding of the healing power of salt has been lost.

These days, most references to “salt in a wound” are meant something is taken as an insult. It's the sting at contact and nothing more.

After reading Salt: A World History several years ago, there's a reference to soldiers dying during the Civil War because they did not have salt for their wounds. They had nothing to arrest and stop the spread of infection.

It was a fascinating read about when salt was a rarity instead of a commodity for most of world history.

Jesus told his followers, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). I've often heard this preached describing salt as a seasoning—make things taste better—or as a preservative—make sure things don't rot. I've not heard it really taught as a healing agent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Asbestos

Having worked on managing a couple buildings now, I've learned how established a threat asbestos is to the cost of renovation projects, and its largely due to its health risks. It's still a high-revenue search term for Google.

In Mark Twain's essay on “The Turning-Point of My Life” he made reference to “Martin Luther and Joan of Arc” as having “temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos.” Having been written more than a few decades before many of the buildings I knew with asbestos, that led me to look up the word. In the definition I discovered why asbestos was used so commonly before its health risks were known: Asbestos is a fire retardant.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Economic Foundation of an Empire

In Life After Google, George Gilder makes the argument that Isaac Newton laid the economic foundation of the British Empire by establishing that gold was an irreversible element. Newton's was an accomplishment in information theory, specifically “the information theory of money.”

Having previously been one to dabble in alchemy, trying to make gold from lead and mercury, “The failure of his alchemy gave him—and the world—precious knowledge that no rival state or private bank, wielding whatever philosopher's stone, would succeed in making a better money.”

The result was, “The little island of Britain governed an empire larger and incomparably richer than Rome's.” Newton was appointed to the Royal Mint in 1696, and the value of the British pound was pegged to the value of gold. The gold standard came into effect.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Decision-Making

I tend to be an iterative decision-maker. On matters of high consequence and high visibility, I like to take my time and make sure I get the decision right, including on all matters of detail.

During the Apollo 11 mission, I read that Neil Armstrong took his time on deciding where to land on the moon, and that process went on much longer than anyone expected. It helped that lunar gravity wasn't pulling them down as fast as it would have on earth. Not having bodies of water or liquid also may have helped in the process.

While iterative processes hopefully lead to a better final product, they are also not for the faint of heart. It can be an exhausting process, especially when it includes navigating lots of opinions, variables, sources of input, and options. Hopefully in the end it will lead to a satisfactory outcome.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

I had occasion to thank several veterans for their service today, this Veterans Day. I had two grandfathers who were veterans of World War II.

Several of our Awana Club directors are veterans, and we had a chance to thank them for their service, both to our country and to the Lord.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Handwriting Analysis

The first time I encountered someone who knew about handwriting analysis, I was very dismissive. One of my professional coworkers had some kind of experience or training with the subject and after only a few examples of the specifics one can infer from a person's handwriting, I found its claims to be overly detailed in the extreme, and she made no further attempts to be informative on the subject. I still owe her an apology, though I don't remember her name.

The second time I encountered expertise on the subject was from someone who I knew to be highly credentialed, intelligent, and thoroughly knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects including many beyond his specific area of advanced education. I was very receptive to what he had to say. Learning about the range of knowledge one can glean from a person's handwriting far exceeded my expectations.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Language Learning

Spanish was my first language. My parents were missionaries in Venezuela, and as part of their practice and learning, they spoke only Spanish in our home. Some of my first words as a one-year-old were about things like turning the light on, turning the light off, etc.

Just before I turned two, my father died of an aortic aneurysm. This cut short our time on the field, so we came back to the States. Later my mother told me how at two years old I could tell we weren't talking like the people around us anymore, and I told her “Talk like they talk”; (“Habla como ellos”). I don't recall speaking any Spanish in our home until I formally studied Spanish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reverse Conversation Origins

85% of all believers ages 18-29 agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers

25% look for ways to share the gospel

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4, citing Christianity Today

At first it's tempting to point out that in nearly any conversation, there is some kind of topic that comes up which can be used to turn the conversation toward God and the Gospel.

And then I remind myself this is the same generation that struggles with conversations in general.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tuesday

Sometimes these posts are scheduled ahead of time. Others are written the same day. Today was a day I had left open thinking I would have a bit more free time than normal to work on writing.

Today was also a day on which I had piled everything else for the last several days, too. And then some things that normally happen in a week also landed on this afternoon.

I'm excited about several writing ideas to come, and given that we're back to standard time and closer to solar time, I'm ready for today to be done.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Match the Nature of Problems to their Solution

“Don't spiritualize management problems, and don't manage spiritual problems. Management problems have to be hit on the head with organization and excellence. Spiritual problems must be dealt with by prayer, God's word and faith.”

Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4


This sounds like really wise advice and perspective.

Not every problem is a “heart problem.”

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Generosity Evangelism

Pastor Roesel is speaking at my church this week. He is a big advocate of ministry evangelism, that is, meeting people's needs to help them see and come to know Jesus.

This man embodies a generosity mindset. When he retired, his church was giving away 65 percent of its budget and meeting the rest of its operating expenses with the remaining 35 percent.

He wrote a book called It's a God Thing: The Powerful Results of Ministry Evangelism. The Kindle version is free. I read it a week or two ago leading up to his coming.

Friday, November 2, 2018

News of Interest

'Colossal collapse' in gas prices expected heading into midterm elections

Millennial Men Leave Perplexing Hole in Hot U.S. Job Market
Ten years after the Great Recession, 25- to 34-year-old men are lagging in the workforce more than any other age and gender demographic. About 500,000 more would be punching the clock today had their employment rate returned to pre-downturn levels. Many, like Butcher, say they’re in training. Others report disability. All are missing out on a hot labor market and crucial years on the job, ones traditionally filled with the promotions and raises that build the foundation for a career.

5 countries—Russia, Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Brazil—contain 70% of the world's wilderness (excluding Antarctica).

Global Warming Damage
For many of the entities driving the global warming debate, the goal has never been about climate. Their long-term goal is to unite the world under a single socialistic government in which there is no capitalism, no democracy, and, ultimately, no freedom. United Nations’ treaties such as the Paris Agreement on climate change are the flagships of the global governance agenda. By controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they are in fact controlling the world’s energy since over 80% of our energy comes from CO2-emitting fossil fuels. And controlling the world’s energy effectively controls the world.

World's longest DNA sequence decoded
The advance is a technological one - this is about reading the DNA rather than the discovery of a particularly large genome. The DNA used for the long read came from a human. But the scientists hope the work will make it quicker and easier to sequence genetic information because, currently, DNA has to be chopped up into smaller pieces and then reassembled during the process of sequencing.

Roscosmos: An assembly error doomed our Soyuz, but we promise it won't happen again

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bedbugs

In his chapter on Interrogations, Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn described dozens of simple methods the communists would use in the Gulag to break a person. Some were psychological, some physical. Some would leave no mark on a person's body. And then there is number 23, the bedbug-infested box.
In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner's jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.
Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr. The Gulag Archipelago. Harper and Row, 1973. Page 113.

This reminds me of Jesus' description of hell: “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48). He used that phrase three times in a row which is a method of extreme reinforcement in the Scriptures.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Music Mission

To get myself into a music learning mode last night I pulled out some music I had on my shelf. One was a hymnbook, Tabernacle Hymns Number Three. This was an encouraging time.

I recognized several of the names of lyric writers and music composers. I was impressed with the number of high-caliber names among the lyric writers like Lance B. Latham and William R. Newell. I don't come across many Bible teachers writing songs today. Perhaps this was a feature of the times. Before everyone had a screen, homes often had pianos.

One particular song caught my attention. “What Will You Do With Jesus?”
Jesus is standing in Pilate's hall
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all:
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call!
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Regulation

Sometimes The Washington Post likes regulation (and doesn't like them being rolled back).

Other times The Washington Post doesn't like regulation (viewing it as industry protecting its interests).

Maybe it just depends on the agenda at the time or the issue.

What I found most striking about the latter is the concluding statement:
“Any new technology requires regulation and legislation.”
Really? Why is that?

Legislation is for the purpose of creating law, and laws are for the purpose of punishing evil. Does technology inherently contain or encourage evil that must be punished?

Regulation is for the purpose of transferring power from the legislative branch to the executive branch. How does technology require that? If that's because technology development moves faster than the legislative process, then this transfer of power also escalates the risk of accelerating power accumulation beyond the people's ability to control it.

Either way, I'm not seeing inherent justification for regulation or legislation just because a new technology is brought to market.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Limits

Some days seem sufficiently full of indicators that it's best to not push things too far, and instead know when I've hit my limits and call it a day.

Today is one of those days, especially after it was more draining than it was expected to be.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Free Time

For some of us, certain questions are more difficult than they are for others. For me one of those is, “What do you do with your free time?” I've been asked this before, and I find it foreign to my normal thinking. Free time is something to be filled, and my backlog of activities is usually long and seldom thoroughly tapped.

A friend of mine and I observed recently that one of the reasons he and I get along so well is because neither one of us really has any idea what free time is.

Friday, October 26, 2018

News of Interest

Scientists discover oldest intact shipwreck in Black Sea
They found a Greek trading vessel whose design had previously been seen only on ancient pottery. The group says the vessel has been carbon dated to more than 2,400 years ago. Farr said the trading vessel has remained in good condition because the water is anoxic, meaning it's free of oxygen.

China opens world’s longest sea bridge and tunnel to connect Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland
The 34.2-mile bridge and tunnel that have been almost a decade in the making for the first time connect the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai by road. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge spans the mouth of the Pearl River and significantly cuts the commuting time between the three cities. The previously four-hour drive between Zhuhai and Hong Kong will now take 45 minutes. One section of the crossing dives underwater into a 4.2 mile tunnel that creates a channel above for large cargo ship containers to pass through.

Hubble Telescope’s Broken Gyroscope Seemingly Fixed After Engineers Try Turning It Off and On Again

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thanksgiving Travel

Thanskgiving is four weeks from today!

I searched for flights from Washington to Orlando today to compare travel prices during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I was surprised to find Thanksgiving travel to be significantly more affordable than Christmas travel. (Others have already figured this out.) It also helped to be willing to delay my return until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.

I have opted for a Wednesday-to-Wednesday trip. Turns out there's a greater likelihood of seeing extended family during November than December this year anyway.

It also appeared that crossing the less-than-four-weeks-away threshold brought a jump in price today, even as I was searching. I've accordingly made a note on my calendar to send me a reminder in subsequent years for five weeks prior to Thanksgiving to check prices on travel. (Even that may be late, but I've also heard it's possible to be too early in booking flights.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Virtue

Taking inspiration from a lecture by David Brooks, in Leaders: Myth and Reality, Gen. Stan McChrystal wrote a book modeled in structure on Plutarch's Leaders. I found it interesting that he specifically noted he and his fellow authors were specifically not intending to study whether or not the leaders were virtuous.

He wrote, “We offer accounts of those who have led and, importantly, also their context and surroundings, with the hope that these stories will help frame a deeper understanding of what it means to lead and what we mean by leadership. Where Plutarch asked, ‘What sort of man was he?’ we start by asking, ‘What sort of leader was she?’”

As he had just explained, Plutarch “was focused on matters of personal character … to study virtue so that it could be imitated.” Instead, McChrystal claims “Leadership is itself neither good nor evil.”

It seems a sign of the times that virtue is not only no longer our priority, but has specifically been rendered secondary. I also wonder if leadership is truly that agnostic in terms of good or evil.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Not by Sight

William Wilberforce on the character of Christians:

“First then, it is the comprehensive compendium of the character of true Christians, that ‘they are walking by faith, and not by sight.’ By this description is meant, not merely that they so firmly believe in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, as to be influenced by that persuasion to adhere in the main to the path of duty, though tempted to forsake it by present interest, and present gratification; but farther, that the great truths revealed in Scripture concerning the unseen world, are the ideas for the most part uppermost in their thoughts, and about which habitually their hearts are most interested.”

Wilberforce, William. A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. (pp. 126-127). Kindle Edition. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Administration vs. Productivity

In Deep Work, Cal Newport cites an interview in which Richard Feynman explained an anti-administration productivity strategy.
To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time… it needs a lot of concentration… if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t do anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, “no,” I tell them: I’m irresponsible.
Feynman was adamant in avoiding administrative duties because he knew they would only decrease his ability to do the one thing that mattered most in his professional life: “to do real good physics work” (pp. 61-62).
The name Richard Feynman always catches my attention. I enjoyed his book, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. In one essay therein he described how his father was very vivid in his descriptions of things when reading to him as a kid. If he was talking about the size of a dinosaur, he told him while standing on ground floor level, he could poke his head into a second-floor window of their house. As a scientist he also was continually unsure of things, and did not embrace faith for that reason. He was on the team investigating the Challenger explosion incident. Interesting guy.

His comments cited here set up an extremely clear distinction between work and busywork. While I can do administration, it's more of necessity and as a means to an end. I see the value of deep concentrated work. For me, it's more just a question of economics right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Am I Called?

Dave Harvey wrote a book called Am I Called? for those considering if they should go into ministry or not. Matt Chandler summarizes:
Chapter after chapter, Dave does a phenomenal job of outlining what needs to be considered for all of us, regardless of life position or background, to answer the question: Am I called? The book’s first section sums up what the call is and how that call comes to us. The second section is filled with questions, most of which you must continue to ask even after you enter pastoral ministry (Kindle Locations 121-124).

  • Are you godly?
  • How's your home?
  • Can you preach?
  • Can you shepherd?
  • Do you love the lost?
  • Who agrees?

Friday, October 19, 2018

News of Interest

New experiment: I'm going to collect news I find interesting each week here.

I went looking for a good weekly news summary last Saturday and didn't find one. Everyone wants to be daily in my inbox. I just want weekly. I've wanted weekly for a lot of things. Enough explanation, on to the headlines.

Another NASA space telescope just went into safe mode
The Chandra X-ray Observatory joins Hubble in going into protective mode to deal with a system complication.
Related: We're still years away from the Webb Telescope launch in March 2021.

Purging long-forgotten online accounts: Worth the trouble?
Perhaps a better approach is to focus on the most sensitive accounts. It might not matter than a news site still has your log in, if you never gave it a credit card or other personal details (of course, if you reused your bank password you might be at risk). Rich Mogull, CEO of data security firm Securosis, said people should think about what information they had provided to services they no longer use and whether that information could be damaging should private posts and messages inadvertently become public. Dating sites, in particular, can be a trove of potentially damaging information. Once you’re in a relationship, delete those accounts.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Borrowing ebooks

I had downloaded Libby before, but never really used it. It did not survive a previous round of app purging from my phone. However, after a mention from a friend yesterday, I downloaded it again, re-entered my (rarely used) library card number, and this time I downloaded a couple books to my Kindle: Hidden Figures and Deep Work.

I'm not entirely sure the practice of borrowing books when there's nothing being physically transferred entirely makes sense, and I'm not going to complain about being able to read full books without paying for a copy either.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Six Words

A few years back I heard about the Six Words initiative by Smith Magazine. I didn't read about it directly, and it seems I may have misunderstood the plan. Apparently they wanted six-word sentences to encapsulate a memoir. I used it more as an exercise to find six words as categories into which I could put everything else.

The number six also reminded me of the six days of Creation, so I also tried to organize them in an environment and filling pattern.

1. Word — As we sing in Awana Clubs, build your life on the word of God. This includes reading the word, memorizing it, studying it, etc.

2. Lead — As we learned in Summit, leaders are readers. This is mostly about leadership preparation, specifically reading books.

3. Form — This is the category for work. “If a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “Develop your business first before building your house” (Proverbs 24:27). Work and making a living are essential to being able to do everything else, so I borrowed the word from the creation pattern observation. However, it's subordinate to living a life to honor God, so that's why it's not first.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Age of Data

Sometimes one can check the news, not for the latest happenings, but for a sense of where we are as a culture.

I came across a headline that seems ripe for subjection to mockery by The Onion. (In fact, that prompted a visit to The Onion that featured a rather inspired work of satire. Reader discretion advised if perusing other headlines on that site.)

The headline was this: “What is a smart display and do you need one?

Get this: It's an amazing new internet-connected device, and it actually has a screen!

Wait, don't we have those already? Yes, but this screen doesn't do much. It just displays current status for things like the weather or your music playing. Dumb is the new smart. (I'm not saying it has no place; I'm just noting the irony.)

One of the samples shows a screen saying, “A light is on.” One the one hand, this sounds like it should be obvious enough, so why do we need another screen for that?

On the other hand, knowledge of your light being on is no longer limited to you. The Internet of things may redefine the internet and make it synonymous with your information being known beyond you.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Unity

There are two kinds of unity. Godly unity is good. Godless unity is bad.

At both the beginning and end of the Bible there are instances in which unity is considered by God to be a profoundly bad thing.

In Genesis 11, the people were united at the tower of Babel. They weren't uniting around God, but were in fact trying to make a name for themselves without him. In order to disrupt their plan, God confused their languages, and we still have 6,000 languages in the world today to remind us not to use unity as a form of rebellion.

In Revelation 13, we can read about how the world will unify around the beast and his mark to the point where people will not be able to buy or sell unless they participate in this one-world government system.

Mankind trying to be unified without God is bad. This why Christians rightly tend to oppose international government organizations like the UN and other entangling alliances.

Unity with God is good.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Junior Theologians

From a message I sent to Awana leaders today:

Today would have been my great-uncle Dave Breese's 92nd birthday. He was a longtime friend of Awana back in its early days. Then it was the Awana Youth Association. He wrote the introduction or forward to one of its history books. When he passed away 16 years ago, they asked that any gifts in his memory be given to Awana. I called my aunt Carol, his widow, this afternoon and she thanked me for remembering his birthday. She once described Awana as “raising up little theologians.” That's exactly right.

Awana leaders are raising up young theologians. If that sounds like an overstatement, believe me, it's not. Compared to the spiritual darkness and desert in which we live right around us, we are raising up a Gideon's army of people who know the truth and are storing it up in their hearts.

Friday, October 12, 2018

October 1992

26 years ago today my biological paternal grandfather passed away. I was 15. That was the most difficult time I've had with grief. I had been fine all the way through the funeral up until they closed the casket in front of us all, and then I lost it. Only as of 5 years ago have all my remaining grandparents passed away, but there was something unique about that time which I still remember.

My great-uncle Dave Breese was always the family speaker at life events on that side of the family. He preached the message at my biological father's funeral in 1979. He officiated my cousin's wedding. He preached at the passing of his brother-in-law, my grandfather, in 1992. I don't remember his message, but I remember something he said afterwards at the reception: “There's no better time to preach the Gospel than at a funeral.

I agree with that because when are people more ready to think about what happens after death than when they are faced with death?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Value of Uncertainty

We tend not to be fans of uncertainty in our personal lives. Uncertainty can be very valuable in public life.

Uncertainty spurs on more competition and brings prices down. Whether it's prices at fast food restaurants or prices of oil on world markets, uncertainty makes prices lower and saves people money. Sarah Palin was ridiculed for saying “Drill, baby, drill,” yet even if one only looks at the potential for that to create uncertainty, uncertainty on the cost side of the ledger is a good thing.

Uncertainty reduces crime. Let's say a criminal has a choice between three counties.

In county A no one is allowed to have a gun.
In county B people may or may not have a gun.
In county C people are required to have a gun in the home.

Who would disagree that in County C the risk of crime would be lower and in County A the risk of crime would be higher?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Courage in Culture

In his book Take Heart, Matt Chandler suggests Christians have four possible responses to a cultural moment he calls “the age of unbelief.”
  1. Converting Culture
  2. Condemning Culture
  3. Consuming Culture
  4. Courage in Culture
He doesn't like the first three. It's in the first approach of converting the culture that I take particular interest. About that option he wrote, “In this mindset, what matters most is that our nation’s culture reflects biblical principles and values.” With that I agree. The question is how does that happen?

I think this comes by a move of God, people seeking him, teaching His Word, and people seeking to apply Scripture to every area of their public, organizational, and private lives.

Though a pastor in Texas, Chandler instead sees this option mostly through the lens of politics.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Christians in Politics

The New York Times recently published an essay by Tim Keller about Christians and partisan politics. Keller opens with a question, “What should the role of Christians in politics be?” He quickly answers his own question by writing, “Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors.” He concludes claiming loving our neighbors through political processes is an inevitable requirement.

Politics is all about how we control the government, or as the Bible calls it, the sword (Romans 13:1-7). Government by its very nature creates a duty to obey. Love by its very nature is about things not done out of duty. There are inherent, built-in problems with the idea that the government can be used to force people to love one another.

Keller claims “most political positions are not matters of biblical command” and “The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions” about how to approach government. The Bible gives more than Keller indicates. In 1 Peter 2:14 and Romans 13:3-4 the Bible describes God’s intended purposes for government for every time, place and culture: punish those who do evil, and praise those who do good. The Bible has a lot to say about what is good and what is evil, even in the context of civil law. Oppression is evil, but being poor or being rich is not.

The question for us today is how far do we go in terms of punishing what God calls evil with the punishments God prescribes? The Pharisees confronted Jesus with applying the law to evil, and Jesus introduced them anew to mercy. We are to both seek justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8). Seek justice for the oppressed and mercy (injustice) for the perpetrators who turn away from evil. There is, however, no justice or mercy if there is no law to punish evil in place.

Monday, October 8, 2018

100 Days

I'm 10% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Specifically this means a new item is posted on this blog each day. It may have been written earlier, but the daily nature is maintained.

At first I posted a lot of the low-hanging fruit—topics that had been on my mind, but had never really put into writing.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Sleep Cycles

I recently did an addendum on my daily calculations to figure out how many sleep cycles I need. While the average person needs 5, it looks like I need almost 6. Short of getting 42 each week, I'm not going to be doing well for long.

With this having been a busy week starting a week ago today and last weekend, I'm ready to call it a day. I'm either getting old fast, or I'm just on an early schedule when I'm yawning away well before 9 p.m. Tomorrow is also a full day, and I may cut that evening event short, too.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Honor Your Father

For a couple days now I've been working on a response to a published piece sent to me. I'm much closer to finishing it, but it still needs some finishing.

However, today is slipping away, and I still need to call my dad for his birthday, so today's writing shall be abbreviated. Hopefully I finish this other item soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Adoption Anniversary

35 years ago today I got a new father. I'm not talking about my heavenly Father. I already had a father who had gone to heaven. A year before, my mom had remarried. In 1983 the laws of Florida were such that parents were not allowed to adopt stepchildren until after a year of marriage.

On October 3, 1983, John Hamilton McGhee adopted Timothy Thomas Christensen as his son. It was a separate legal procedure to legally change my name to Timothy Thomas Christensen McGhee.

Whenever Dad told others about adopting me, he often expressed his emphatic wonder that “They changed the birth certificate.” That's true. They did. I thought I had my original birth certificate for some time. When I've looked for it in recent years, I've only found the one that's still the legal record of my birth.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Data vs. Evidence

Data is a factual point.

Evidence is data with an interpretation.

Example:

Data: The jar has two cookies in it.

Evidence: The jar has two cookies in it, after there were five in it. Dad interprets his instructions to wait until after dinner as having been disobeyed.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Golden Quarter

From back in my retail days many moons ago, I remember that October through December is known as the Golden Quarter.

If you work full-time in retail, then the rule is no time off during these months. Being the industrious worker I was raised to be, I took this literally, and did not see any better option job-wise.

If you don't live near your family, then this is a problem for the holidays, the season of high expectations. Black Friday work requirements mean it's impossible to travel out of town for Thanksgiving while still reporting to work by 5 AM the next day. Calling in sick on Black Friday was tantamount to calling in fired. The same was true for the days leading up to Christmas.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Rejoicing in Being Forgotten

It is related that Yao, the type of an unselfish monarch, while on a tour of inspection in the disguise of a peasant, heard an old man singing this song to the notes of his guitar:

"I plough my ground and eat my own bread,
I dig my well and drink my own water:
What use have I for king or court?"

Yao returned to his palace, rejoicing that the state of his country was such that his people were able to forget him.
Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (p. 50). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Commitments

I am grateful for friends from whom I can seek wise counsel about how to handle a situation.

Sometimes it's better to forgo short-term gain in order to maintain previous commitments, especially when a change would be on short notice and could frustrate someone else's plans for a significant life event.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wagons

Have you ever had one of those situations where you think in meeting up with someone you'll have a chance to hitch your wagon on to their train, and instead come to find out they may want to hitch on to yours?

I had a bit of that kind of experience this evening. Turns out we may just try to hitch on to someone else's wagon for a couple weeks to see how it goes first.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Awakening of China

Said the High Commissioner Tuan Fang, in an address to the Mission Boards at New York, February 2, 1906:

“We take pleasure this evening in bearing testimony to the part taken by American missionaries in promoting the progress of the Chinese people.

“They have borne the light of Western civilisation into every nook and corner of the Empire. They have rendered inestimable service to China by the laborious task of translating into the Chinese language religious and scientific works of the West. They help us to bring happiness and comfort to the poor and the suffering by the establishment of hospitals and schools.

“The awakening of China which now seems to be at hand may be traced in no small measure to the hand of the missionary. For this service you will find China not ungrateful."

Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (pp. 263-264). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Make the Building Ring

One man's experience listening to George Whitefield preach:
An American gentleman once went to hear him, for the first time, in consequence of the report he heard of his preaching powers. The day was rainy, the congregation comparatively thin, and the beginning of the sermon rather heavy.

Our American friend began to say to himself, "This man is no great wonder, after all." He looked round, and saw the congregation as little interested as himself.

One old man, in front of the pulpit, had fallen asleep.

But all at once Whitefield stopped short. His countenance changed. And then he suddenly broke forth in an altered tone: "If I had come to speak to you in my own name, you might well rest your elbows on your knees, and your heads on your hands, and sleep; and once in a while look up and say, What is this babbler talking of? But I have not come to you in my own name. No! I have come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts," (here he brought down his hand and foot with a force that made the building ring,) "and I must and will be heard."

The congregation started. The old man woke up at once.

"Ay, ay!" cried Whitefield, fixing his eyes on him, "I have waked you up, have I? I meant to do it. I am not come here to preach to stocks and stones: I have come to you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, and I must and will have an audience."

The hearers were stripped of their apathy at once. Every word of the sermon was attended to. And the American gentleman never forgot it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kindle Paperwhite

I bought a Kindle off Craigslist this weekend.

Reading on the Kindle Windows app was using too much battery. I wanted to be able to read at length without affecting how much time I could using my laptop on battery. Yes, old laptop battery.

I also like reading without light shining directly in my eyes.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Awake to Righteousness

In that great chapter on the resurrection, Paul wrote, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Did you catch that? There's literally a trade-off between our sin and the eternal destiny of souls around us.

When we take our eyes off our mission—a rescue mission—to participate in sin instead, that puts not just people's lives, but their destination for eternity at risk.

Evangelism, witnessing, and telling people the Good News are all about saving people from their sin. It's hard to show and tell people they need saving from sin if we're joining them in sin.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Equinox

Today is the last day of 2018 with more daytime than nighttime in the northern hemisphere. Tomorrow is the autumn equinox. There are two of these each year, one in the spring, one in the fall.

The equinox is a date with equal parts day and night. Sunrise and sunset are separated by 12 hours.

A few years back I realized this is true everywhere in the world. Even Alaska, the land of the midnight sun during the summertime, has 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness on the equinox.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Launching Social

Gab claims it is “adding an average of 100,000 new users each month and becoming one of the top 10,000 websites.”

I would have thought that having hundreds of thousands of users would have meant a higher ranking such as in the top 1,000 Web sites. Note, they don't say how many of those users are active.

In looking at a list of the top 500 Web sites, I only have to get to number 23 before I see the name of a site I've never heard of before.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Schuller & State

I recently spent an hour reading through Robert Schuller's book, Prayer: My Soul's Adventure With God, A Spiritual Autobiography. I didn't approach it with any expectations, nor to spend a lot of time on the book.

There were three sections that caught my attention, and they all were at the intersection of church and state.

First, Members of Congress from both parties were members of his church. They and others advised him to steer clear of politics, advice he heeded. He noted criticism he took for limiting his ability to be a prophetic voice on issues of the day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Father > Hero

I finished reading Rocket Boys this morning. While he never got to meet his hero, Wernher von Braun, his hero at one point had been by his exhibit at the national science fair and had picked up and appreciated his rocket parts.

Hickam realized that the person most important to him at his last amateur rocket launch was his father. He never got the fatherly encouragement he wanted, but then decided to give encouragement to his father instead. I found it to be a very powerful ending.

Monday, September 17, 2018

iOS 12 Out

iOS 12 is out today.

I downloaded it. Things I noticed:

  • Bedtime can now also trigger DND.
  • DND has a separate setting to be invoked by Bedtime that is not in sync with Bedtime's setting.
  • Measure looks like fun.
  • Screen time looks useful, though it will take some time to tell. It doesn't look like it tells me when I use my phone or apps, only how much.
  • Screen time has a today widget. It's on my default, and I'll probably leave it that way.
  • Cursor functionality looks useful, though is not active in all apps.
  • Voice memos has some new editing features, though my first pass in trimming a clip was not successful.
Things that didn't change:
  • Bedtime still confuses me. I'm not sure if I can get it to track bedtime without also waking me up in the morning.
  • Auto-shutoff still has nothing in between staying on for 5 minutes and staying on forever.
I've been wondering when Wall Street is going to notice that Apple is offering everyone on the previously latest devices a free upgrade. There's no upgrade supercycle this time around. Then again, apparently it was already dead.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

“What do you want to do?”

I've been enjoying reading Rocket Boys lately. Homer Hickam was a fish out of water shooting off rockets in a coal mining town. As he was growing up, and with input from his father, deviating from the town norm of coal mining was not without its moments of insecurity. The part where I left off today ended with him having won multiple science fairs and having been recognized at school his senior year. His day ended with him finally realizing his path was clear. He now was sure of who he was and what he was to do.

I was having breakfast with someone a while back who asked me, “What do you want to do?” Having virtually no experience with this person, and them knowing little of mine, that made this question easier than it usually is for me.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Greatest Difficulty for the Rich

Jeff Bezos was in town recently.

This prompted “a supremely well-attended dinner marking The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.’s 32nd anniversary.” This has the Washington Business Journal gushing about how “Never had so many business leaders packed into the massive ballroom at the Washington Hilton” with “about 1,400 business leaders, politicians and local celebrities and 130 credentialed members of the media.” The event “was so large it required multiple levels of the Washington Hilton to fit it. A pre-event reception was so packed that organizers held a smaller, but equally packed, separate reception for sponsors and the biggest VIPs in a crowd of VIPs.” The praise for the crowd continued from there.

Some people make their money just studying people who have lots of money and assets. There's no shortage of articles on things rich people do, have in common, etc.

I don't remember the exact headline or title now, but I once saw something on Business Insider, if I remember correctly, that identified the most fundamental common thing among people of means or wealth.

They had all hit bottom at some point, and then they had all decided not to be at the bottom anymore. They put their hunger or desire to use, and became extremely self-reliant. Of course, they need to hire a lot of people along the way, but there is a transforming fundamental drive to succeed that is what truly sets them on a different trajectory than the rest of us.

With that understanding, and even with all their riches and assets, there is still something that is extremely hard for them to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Diversion or Delving Deeper?

I was reading in John 4 the other day, and a couple things really struck me from the comments of the woman. This is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.

She refers to “our father” in verse 12, and “our fathers” in verse 20. “Our” is in both the father of the Jews and the father of the Samaritans—they both had the same father.

This may be a passing comment, but it also makes the point there's no real difference for the Jews to consider Samaritans as different or as other from them as they did.

When Jesus told the woman to call her husband, I had always read her response as being one of changing the subject. However, as I look at this again in the context of her “our” references, instead of this being a change of subject, it seems like it instead may be an attempt to uncover and address an underlying issue and barrier that she and her people have been facing—one that had been used to consider Samaritans as different or other.

She may have seen this time with a prophet as an opportunity to ask a lingering question. After all, she had been looking for Him (4:25-26).

Before we judge people, it's a good idea to listen to people fully, even if something seems like a diversion. Their comments are in context for them and may not be a diversion at all. It may simply be hidden to us that the person is more on topic than ever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Freedom

I once asked my friend Michael Schwartz to define freedom. He had one ready. “Freedom is the power to do right.” And with his typical confidence he added, “You won't find a better definition than that.”

Asked how he came up with that, his explanation started with a couple questions. (1) Is God free? Yes. (2) Does God do anything but right? No. Therefore freedom is the power to do right. It sounded reasonable, and I also wanted something based more directly on Scripture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

It was a crisp fall morning in Washington, D.C. I love those kind of refreshing days. One time a cousin of mine who grew up in Chicago told me she thought the perfect day starts around 70° and gets up to around 90°. Having grown up in Florida, I think the perfect day starts around 50° and gets up to around 70°. That Tuesday started like one of those days.

I was working three blocks north of the White House at the time. The first indication we got that something unusual was afoot was an office-wide email about 8:45 a.m. informing us a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. It sounded unusual, like an accident, but having had an incident there eight years before, it didn't seem like much more than something that would be an item on the evening news.

About 20 minutes later, another office-wide email went around saying another plane had hit the other tower. At that moment, I instantly knew we were no longer talking about an accident. Since one plane had already hit one tower, live cameras were trained on the scene and picked up the full scale of the second collision. It was clear these were not small planes, but full-size commercial jetliners.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sunday, September 9, 2018

11 Things you can do with a Bible

The Bible is the Word of God. There are a lot of good things you can do with it.

1. Read the Word. See for yourself what's in it by reading it.

2. Own the Word. Have your own copy. It's one thing to be able to read it online, but there's value in having your own copy that does not limit what you can see to the size of your screen or window. Underline it. Highlight it. It's yours.

3. Study the Word. If there are things that are hard to understand, keep reading, dig into it, look up original words, and overall don't give up. Ask God for help and wisdom in understanding it.

4. Pray the Word. Ever feel like you don't know how to pray? Ever not sure what the will of God is? His Word is consistent with His will, and we can pray His words back to Him. We can personalize them to our own situations as well.

5. Hide the Word. Hide it in your heart; memorize it. Do this in large chunks, too—at least chapters at a time. You never know what theology or encouragement you might find in the opening or closing of a letter.

6. Share the Word. Tell someone about what you've found in it. Introduce them to your friend Jesus. What have you learned? Who do you look forward to meeting someday? What does the Bible say about your situation right now, or things you see happening around you?

7. Share the Gospel. Learn the passages that explain the Good News to people and share it with them. Put tabs on pages to make them easy to find.

8. Teach the Word. New believers and young people especially need people who can show them what's in the Word, what does it mean, how does it fit together, what's next, etc.

9. Live the Word. Don't just apply it to your life, but apply your life to the Word. Seek to see what the Bible possibly says about every area of your life.

10. Give the Word. Buy extra copies to give away to people. The Gideons do this a lot. ChristianBook.com has sales now and then.

11. Translate the Word. While there are only around 200 countries in the world, there are about 6,000 active languages. Most of these do not have a copy of the Word of God.

What other good things can you do with the Word of God?

Friday, September 7, 2018

How to search Walmart.com efficiently

When I search on a shopping Web site, I usually don't find the vendor's sort by “relevance” to be all that helpful. I mainly want what I'm search for at the best quality for the lowest price.

If you know how to parse a URL, there's an easy way to do this. Here's an example for Chrome.

Go to search engine settings:
chrome://settings/searchEngines
Then add a “Walmart.com” search engine, pick a shortcut (I use “wm”), and then put this in as the URL:
https://www.walmart.com/search/?facet=customer_rating:4+-+5+Stars&sort=price_low&query=%s
Then in your address bar type “wm”, a space, and your search.

It will now search Walmart.com for your product sorting by lowest price first, and only showing products rated with at least 4 stars.

I've been pleasantly surprised more than once to find actually relevant results on my first try by using this search method/url.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Future of Money

There were several high-profile hearings in Congress yesterday. One that got less attention, but that may be of more consequence than others is one entitled “The Future of Money: Coins and Banknotes.”



Things I found most interesting:

Going cashless is not seen as wise or viable for society and other countries.

Up to two thirds of the value of U.S. currency is held overseas. With a total value of $1.7 trillion, that could be up to $1.13 trillion in U.S. currency not in the U.S.

Due to the success of thwarting counterfeit $100 notes, the timetable for upgrading the $50 note has been accelerated because it has become an increased target.

A penny now costs more than twice what it is worth.

In 10 years the number of people purchasing collector coins has dropped from 1.2 million to 500,000. That number could go back up next year with the coin program for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Andrew

First a disciple of John, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Andrew was an explorer, eager to hear the Word of the Lord wherever he might hear it. When John pointed his disciples to Jesus, Andrew upgraded his mission.

Jesus greets Andrew and his friend with a question, His very first question recorded in the Scriptures: “What do you want?” It’s a great question and one Jesus asked people often.

Andrew had the first answer: he wanted to be where Jesus was.

Andrew quickly recruited his brother, who became one of the better-known of all the apostles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Killer Robots

In taking a glance at the headlines ending a long weekend, one caught my attention about the US and Russia blocking a ban by killer robots.

The rest of the story is that the US and Russia were also joined by Israel, South Korea, and Australia in opposing a treaty toward this end at the UN.

The outrage machine is kicking into high gear implying anyone not in favor of more entangling alliances, even without a clear definition of a killer robot, must insanely be in favor killer robots.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Think like a Futurist

Early last year Ari Wallach wrote a short piece on “How to think like a futurist.” He lists three ways:
  1. Transgenerational thinking. Think beyond yourself.
  2. Futures thinking. As in plural. There's more than one way to think about the future.
  3. Telos thinking. What is the ultimate purpose?
I've been numbering my days for more than 4,000 days now—since the beginning of 2006. This is based on Psalm 90:12 that draws a specific connection between wisdom and time. One thing I've noticed is how few references to wisdom one can find in the Bible that do not have a reference to time nearby.

Therefore, there's a lot to agree with in thinking like a futurist, and there is wisdom to be found in considering the times in which we live and the times into which we are headed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Labor Day Sunday

After graduating from college and settling into the workplace, I think every 20-something at some point faces the disappointing reality that work does not live up to everything for which they had prepared.

There are various ways of dealing with this disappointment, and as people discover a little free time in their lives, they do things like read books to affordably continue their personal development. Oftentimes this means there comes a book that answers a lot of their questions or addresses their frustrations.

For me, this book was Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke. One of the first things he talks about in their is the purpose of business. It's not just to make money, but to provide a useful service to society.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Recruiting = Ministry

Any ministry leader knows that recruiting for various roles and needs in a ministry is continual.

Recruiting for a ministry can itself can be a ministry to people. Sometimes people volunteer to help because it will be good for their own social needs. I think this is completely legitimate. Just think of the number of times people tell of how they get more by serving themselves than they feel they give.

Patience, answering questions, listening to people's stories, and ensuring flexibility for people new to a ministry are all themselves eternally valuable for the recruiter and recruitee.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Law of the Harvest

We sow, and then we reap.
  • We reap the same thing as what we sow.
  • We reap more of what we sow.
  • We reap later than when we sow.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (John 4:35-38).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day Scores

Sleep is good for staying healthy. For some of us, a simple count of how many hours of sleep we've had per night or per week does not provide sufficient context to make that number meaningful. For someone who has worked in technology, sometimes it's easier to make things more complicated in order to make them simpler.

I've heard recommendations of getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As sleep tends to come in 90-minute cycles, another recommendation I've heard is that we need 35 of those cycles each week whenever we can get them. (That works out to on average 7.5 hours of sleep per night.)

Let's assume an average of 8 hours of sleep per day is a good goal. That means a goal for waking hours is no more than 16 per day. For me, I find I feel best if I can keep that number to 15. (There are 15 hours in a day; the rest are for sleeping!)

A few years back I realized it would be fairly simple to create a formula that would compare waking hours to sleeping hours in a way that gives me a number that looks like a day counter.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Wins Today

I built a tool for an organization to use in order to better understand, manage, and make use of its resources. One person who would use it is now viewing his 20-year career as before and after having this tool. He's planning to retire in a year. When I had told him about it, he had no idea how it would be useful; now that he can see for himself what I saw in my head, he wonders how he ever lived without it. Life is much easier when you create the environment before trying to fill it.

Another family (with 10 kids!) signed up for Awana today. We're approaching 50 clubbers to start the year. And it sounds like we have someone very interested in taking the lead on Awana Grand Prix, too.

I sent our Awana directors access to our online recordkeeping system, and both of our new ones thought it was pretty cool to be able to keep track of their clubbers' progress that way.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Add Tool = Increase Motivation

If ever you're not motivated to do something you should do, perhaps purchasing a tool to help you accomplish that job would increase your motivation.

For me, it was washing dishes. Buying a long-handle dish brush helped a lot. Now not every time I go to wash dishes to I have to scrub everything by hand.

For a friend of mine, it was a table-mover. Carrying a lot of tables around can get old, but if you can prop one up on a wheel and roll it around, the job can be much less burdensome.

I was speaking with the resident manager at my building once after I had moved around a lot of furniture, and she said she thought everything should be on wheels. I don't think going quite that far is necessary, but I just noticed there's a thing called furniture sliders that get somewhat close to that objective.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Awana Clubs start soon

Today was our annual Awana Clubs leader meeting. By way of background, I'm the ministry leader for our club.

One of our directors told me he was encouraged to see significantly more people here than last year. Amen to that! We are also looking at an opportunity to significantly grow the club with a sister congregation and their children and families.

Things are in good shape, and I'm encouraged. Please pray for our club for the Lord to do much through His Word and us with these young people and their families, in Jesus' name.

Friday, August 24, 2018

“Are you religious?”

Several weeks ago I shared a meal with someone who afterwards asked me, “Are you religious?” It's rare for someone to ask me that question.

I'm sure to some that would mean this person obviously doesn't know me.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ and the good news of His coming for us. Does that make me religious?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vertical vs. Horizontal Rights

A friend of mine had a propensity to shut anyone down who would make a claim on their rights. If they asked, “What about my rights?” his response was, “You have no rights.”

On the one hand, he was making a valid point. Man is sinful, and he has no standing, or rights, before God—vertical rights. That's why we need the Gospel.

On the other hand, man does and should have rights before his fellow man, fellow sinners—horizontal rights.

Even though we are sinful, God gave us rights.

I love Romans 14:4. Paul wrote:
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How Tyrants Lie

The first thing to know about tyrants is they try not to sound like tyrants. They may genuinely not realize they are tyrants. The first clue is that they think of themselves as good. They're not. No one is. The second clue is they think they can use the power of government for good. This is dangerous. Be wary of anyone who doesn't think they need a Savior, and thinks they can be your savior if you give them power. If those two pieces are in place, watch out. Here's how.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Importance of the Individual

Church leaders have attacked a focus on the individual before, even from the Lord's prayer, and now it's coming from Albert Mohler, president of a conservative seminary. I have appreciated his worldview analysis on various issues, and on this I disagree, and I can show from Scripture why.

His premise starts with the Lord's prayer and emphasizing the first person plural pronouns used: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

His conclusion: “One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is our obsession with individualism.”

There are several problems with extrapolating from the Lord's prayer a general anti-individual conclusion. One is better informed by taking a look at the broader context in both account's of the Lord's prayer and Scripture in general.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What is a right?

The United States of America was founded on the premise that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We have rights, and they come from God, our Creator.

How do we know that?

I've often heard conservatives claim that “our rights come from God,” and I've never voluntarily heard an accompanying explanation of that premise. This is important because many Americans no longer “hold these truths to be self-evident.”

I was once at an FRC event featuring Hadley Arkes, and he made a similar statement about the origin of our rights. Afterwards I was able to ask him how we know that. He had a clear explanation.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reader's Theater Bible

Recently I saw a good deal on a leather-bound Bible of The Voice, a translation I've found intriguing for some time. Today I used that Bible to carry to church instead of a smaller NKJV or ESV translation I've often used.

I have to say, it literally reminded me of going to church as a kid. It must have been that long since I've used a full-size Bible like that on a Sunday morning. I've got a few other leather-bound Bibles at home (KJV, NKJV, NASB) that have percolated to the surface this summer of translations and notes to read next.

In ordering that new translation recently, ChristianBook.com also had a paperback version of it for $0.99. I added one of those as well. Other than a title page in the front and an ad on the last page, it's literally all Bible text with some notes along the way.

If you've ever seen reader's theater before, this is like the entire Bible turned into a reader's theater script. I think it would be useful to have at least four or five copies on hand so that if ever one wanted to be able to easily turn parts of the Bible into a mini drama, they would already have scripts on hand ready to go.

Friday, August 17, 2018

“And Should Communism Be Victorious?”

Professor Emil Brunner of Zurich, Switzerland, along with Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr, were theological liberals in the Protestant ecumenical movement. The final chapter in Apostles of Deceit includes text from an article by Professor Brunner published in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper of Zurich for Sunday, May 28, 1961. (Emphasis and links added.)
But above all, the Communist strategists undertake to split and make of no effect what Christian and humanitarian strengths are still in existence in Europe. Most alarming is the success they have gained in World Protestantism. The World Council of Churches accepted as their password, “Anti-Communism is the line of attack of the Roman Catholic Church and must inevitably lead to war!” The opinion became widespread that anti-Communism is a sterile position unworthy of a Christian; that one has to “remain in Communication with Communism.” Moscow's peace propaganda was accepted inasmuch as the church has to, of course, be “for peace.”

With great passion it accepted and made its own the “fear” of the atom catastrophe, which Moscow propaganda is constantly spreading. This was done by falling for the Communist trick of equating nuclear armament with willingness to wage an atomic war and making the West responsible for it. All this without noticing how Moscow alternatively wavered between threats of rockets and Russian superiority in atomic weapons, and the waving of the palm of peace. All of this while ignoring the fact that that segment of Europe which is still part of the free world owes its very existence, above all else, to this very nuclear armament of the West which had never been put into action.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Productivity tools for each project size range

Not all To Do list apps or tools are created equal. Not all projects are either for that matter.

I find I have three tiers of sizes for projects I try to accomplish: small, medium, and large.

Small projects are those that can be done in one sitting, and usually I can aim for getting them done in a specific day. Often they're anything from a momentary do-it-quickly project or item up to a few hours. Many of these come up on a repeat basis.

Reminders for iOS is intended to be a tool for this kind of project, but it has not worked for me for several reasons. For repeating items, it was not fast and it was not reliable. I found I could not count on it to regenerate completed repeating items as I had specified especially on a timely basis. Badge notifications for only past due items also seemed a bit backwards. I still use the app for a shopping list, but that's about it.

For small recurring projects, I have found Swipes to be the most useful for small and frequently recurring daily tasks. Their ingenious innovation is that by definition every item entered in the app has a due date this took a little adjustment at first, but it's quite powerful in terms of mentally engaging in a specific timeline for completing everything. Badge notifications are for things to be done now. In terms of its swipe actions on items for snoozing or completion, when I first started using it I would have reversed what the right and left motions do, but it's familiar and natural now.

I can't put a timeline on every project, though, so on to other tools.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Flight of Richard Russell

Richard Russell's last day was a culmination of unmet desires.

The aviation world is the hub of activity at the pinnacle of society. Russell lived near the bottom of that culture. He was not a pilot. He was not a mechanic. He was a baggage handler. At 29 years old, to be useful for nothing more than manual labor in a high-end economy is not an encouraging place to be.

He mentioned the minimum wage. Just this year Seattle's minimum wage went up to $15 per hour. The higher the minimum wage goes, the closer everyone is to what society calls the bottom. The further down the income range one is, the more acutely this denigration is felt.

He had played some video games, and given his ability to get a real airliner off the ground and “do a couple maneuvers” in the air, he may have also had practice with flight simulator software. His mentions of regurgitation and being light-headed show there is more to real flying than he expected.

He told flight controllers, “I hope this doesn't ruin your day” and he was glad they were working to make sure he wasn't “screwing up everyone else's day on account of me.”

A good day is when everyone comes out alive, and Richard did not, so Friday was not a good day for the flight controllers. The travel plans of many others were disrupted, but their day did not end as badly as Richard's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is Taxation Theft?

Underlying this question is one of legitimacy. Is taxation legitimate? Is government legitimate?

First, I would ask, “What does the Word of God have to say about that question?” The classic go-to passage in the New Testament on government and law is Romans 13. It specifically mentions taxes twice: “because of this you also pay taxes” (13:6) and “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due” (13:7). Jesus also condoned paying taxes. Combine this with theft being prohibited, and one can reasonably conclude, no, not all taxes are theft.

A question remains: Could some taxation be theft? If government acts beyond purposes described for any government in Scripture, could taxes to fund those activities be theft?

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2013

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