Monday, March 18, 2019

39 Steps

I read the first part of Robert Kennedy: His Life, and therein is mentioned how the Kennedy brothers enjoyed spy novels like The Thirty-Nine Steps.

I subsequently read the short novel, and I can concur it is an engaging read. Near the beginning, John Buchan's character shows, at 37, he is on the cusp of a mid-life crisis: “I looked up into the spring sky and I made a vow. I would give the Old Country another day to fit me into something; if nothing happened, I would take the next boat for the Cape.”

Little surprise he captured the imagination of a generation for half a century including a future President.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Reckoning

A.B. Simpson once called “reckon” “one of the key-words of Scripture.”* Reckoning, or reconciling, is what one does when debts come due and it's time to even accounts.

In our society today, we've forgotten about reckoning. It's become a word that is associated with a drawl that means little more than a passing comment: Perhaps, “I reckon that's the way things are.”

This may be because we've been living on debt without end, seemingly without limit. This is true nationally and personally in many areas. We've been doing this long enough, few seem to have any sense of gravity that a day of reckoning is coming, much less having any sense of what that would look like. The days of “deficits don't matter” have their limit.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The shelf life of a Bernie Sanders argument

Bernie Sanders says he wants the U.S. to “guarantee healthcare to all people as a right” like “every other major country.”

That argument had more covetousness-inducing power when those other major countries known as the developed world were not struggling to actually pay for that “free” care. Now they are. The grass is not so green on the other side anymore.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Credibly Accused

American's are growing impatient, and this is a danger to justice.

There has arisen this habit of reporting not just that someone is accused of a crime, but is “credibly” accused.

This is a not-so-subtle attack on due process. Who needs to bother with evaluating evidence and witness credibility according to legal standards when they've already been found guilty in the court of public opinion?

If you think “credibly accused” can't have disastrous and very negative consequences, read The Innocent Man.

1970s work begins

It's a little ironic to hear people complain about proposing cuts to NASA's budget when NASA hasn't bothered to study new materials it's had for upwards of 50 years.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sound Discovery

For those who think there's nothing left to be discovered, look: a discovery about sound.

Phonons sound like the audio counterpart to photons.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Climatically Warmer

Ancient discoveries intrigue me, especially the ones that describe a time that “would have been climatically much warmer than the present-day polar climate” to the point where these creatures “all flourished” in that environment.

It sounds like climate change is less of a threat and more an adjustment of opportunities.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Resistance

Ever since President Trump was inaugurated in 2017, “resist,” “resisting,” and “The Resistance” have become ubiquitous. This is concerning for reasons that go beyond politics.

In one of the clearest and longest passages in the New Testament about the role of government, we can read, “whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:2).

Far worse than any loss in politics is the loss of one’s soul, even if one has gained the whole world (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36). I strongly urge those who oppose the President, even if they have valid points, to change their approach and pick a new word to describe their efforts.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Legacy of Kings

The first few kings of Israel are well known: Saul, David, and Solomon. After that, Israel split never to reunify, and most of the remaining kings are far less known. Some of them reigned for long periods of time, and others very short. Some of them started very young and reigned for many years, and others began when they were more advanced in years. Near the end of the Israeli monarchy, before the nation was carried off into exile, the accounts become increasingly scant. I’ve been amazed at how little we know of some of them. “Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:31). Imagine that: a king of God’s chosen people whose legacy is little more than a pair of timestamps!

Even in the midst of very short accounts (and also in the longer accounts) there are some consistent facts mentioned with each one. One of these is to honor women. We know the names of the mothers who raised many of these kings because the Scriptures include them. A bit of explaining is in order for understanding another of the facts mentioned.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Not So Decaf

A few weeks back I had a conversation with an elderly relative who told me I “should” drink coffee as it extends lifespans. I told her I have never been a coffee drinker as I didn't want to be hooked on the caffeine.

Nonetheless, the conversation got me thinking and taking another look at the coffee machine my building provides. After exploring several options and translating the Italian, I became a regular drinker of the decaf latte, sometimes multiple times in a day. The amount of cream it has is like getting a daily glass of milk included in my rent. No caffeine, no potential headaches, right?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Artificial Intelligence + Wisdom

Artificial intelligence basically works by pattern matching on a large scale.

Intelligence should not be confused with wisdom. Algorithms do not have an innate or inherent moral sense of right and wrong. That's why people can very quickly embarrass large-scale developers by turning a chatbot racist.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Two Ways to Save Money

(1) Sometimes we can spend more time than we think it's worth trying to save a few dollars or even less on an item. (2) On the other hand, sometimes that search leads us to other longer-term ways to save money by leading us to a cheaper source.

Take books, for instance. “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). This is true, and it feels like it also holds true for subsets of books like Kindle books, Kindle samples, free books, Gutenberg books, and Christian Classics.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Better Than Reinventing

We don't have to literally reinvent the wheel, but sometimes we still have to avail ourselves of it.

For me recently this meant laundry. I'm grateful for the machines we have to do it for us, and it's a magnificent upgrade from the old method. (Apparently even that method has seen improvement.) I'm also grateful to have an abundance of clothes to wash. In order to be more grateful for my laundry blessing, I recently added wheels to the process.

After seeing a neighbor with a fine contraption for easily rolling clothes down the hall, I discovered there's such a thing as a laundry sorter. After finding that a bit pricey but still upgrading my level of urgency, I then discovered adding wheels to the process doesn't have to get quite so fancy. Even laundry baskets can come with wheels now.

Monday, March 4, 2019

IFTTT - ESPN

I've had a very on-and-off relationship with IFTTT and alerts, especially for things like sports alerts.

I was prepared to set up simple sports scores alerts for local teams, and I noticed the ESPN channel is no longer there. Turns out ESPN discontinued its API a few months ago, so those alerts are no more.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Influence of the Church

How does the Church relate to government? We have a popular philosophy going in the world today that says there should be separation between Church and state. They carry that idea to the extreme, concluding that it means the state should not be influenced at all by the moral view of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Constitution says that the government “shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or inhibiting the free exercise thereof.” What that really means is, there isn’t supposed to be a state church. The people who said, “no state church,” were very wise, perceptive Christians. The state backing a religious design that somebody calls a church, like the Church of England, or the Church of Denmark, is not biblical. A human institution is no more the Church than is the man in the moon. The framers of the Constitution feared a government-backed religious institution, because they knew it would exercise, finally, coercive force upon the individual.

Rather, we must have with a nation, not a church controlled BY the state, but a church which is a powerful influence UPON the state. The Church should become a great beacon for the state to observe, so that the state will know the difference between right and wrong.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Google Sheets, the Google Reader of 2019

Google killed off Google Reader a long time ago, but one can get something even more useful than Reader today.

IFTTT can be used to send RSS feed content to a Google Sheet. This has several advantages over Reader.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Car insurance savings

I saved 57.7 percent by switching from my insurance agent to my insurance agent.

Data broker activity has been on full display for me this week. First, all the competitor mailers came about the same time this month, right when my six-month premium was coming due. Then, it became clear insurance companies can see anyone's complete auto insurance history once you're applying for insurance.

Once I started getting prices, not a single one was less than my current carrier. One was slightly lower, another was less than half, and another had a six-month premium that looked like a monthly price.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Four Basic Components of Weather

There are four main drivers of weather on earth.

1. The sun. This includes both how strong heat is leaving the sun, and arriving on one side of the earth. Solar activity and cycles contribute directly to whether or not temperatures are above or below average.

2. The rotation of the earth. This includes the 23° angle of the earth's axis. The tilt of the axis gives us our seasons. The rotation of the earth around this axis generates a lot of wind patterns. Land is moving fastest at the equator, and slows down to rotating in place at the poles. This speed difference explains why hurricanes rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Ruling the World from the Grave

I started reading Charles Darwin today. The full title of his book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

That's a very racially charged title for a book published 505 days before the Civil War broke out.

Reading his list of chapter subheadings was interesting. He repeatedly notes “difficulties” with his theory. He also notes “the poorness” of the palaeontological collection at the time.

Scientists leave room for the possibility that their theory is not complete.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Exploring Details

Sometimes when opportunities come your way, maybe unexpectedly, it's good to explore the details of how things would, or would be expected, to work out. Today was a day of exploring details in two completely different areas.

I also toured a couple apartments. Today has elapsed before accomplishing much writing, but I have collected a few ideas for writing I hope to bring to fruition here soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Boiling Water Christians

“Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. xii. 2).

There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.

So there are three kinds of Christians.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mourning the Celebrations in New York

Last week members of the House dedicated an hour of floor time to discussing the urgent need for legislation to prohibit infanticide.

Three moments stood out to me from this discussion:

1. Mrs. Hartzler (MO-4):

A lot of people are unfamiliar of how a late-term abortion is done and what these individuals in New York were celebrating. It is graphic, but people need to know what happens.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tax Reform Meets the 1040

In case you haven't seen the new 1040 yet, it's a lot different. No more 1040-A or 1040-EZ. It's all one form that looks quite simple on the surface.

It's a lot like the old full 1040 except various sections are now spread out over six new schedules.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When a child screams

In my apartment building about an hour ago a small child's hand got stuck to an elevator door and it got closed into the elevator door frame. There was screaming on the part of the child, the parents, and there arose in all an instant sense of urgency to rescue this child from harm's way.

It's snowy and possibly icy outside, and yet these parents sounded like they're on the way to the hospital to ensure their small girl's hands are not damaged in any permanent way or can get needed medical attention as soon as possible.

Inherent problems with filing taxes online

Many Americans like to file their taxes online. They think it's easier, quicker, more convenient and a good investment of whatever it costs, if it costs them anything at all. Some might even argue it pays for itself if it helps them “get more money back.”

In the short term, there is little basis for arguing with this point of view. All of those things may be true.

In the longer term view, what else happens? What does this convenience enable that could be damaging?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading books from 2020 candidates

It's Day 50 of 2019, and a small multitude of folks including half a dozen senators have announced their intentions to challenge President Trump for the U.S. presidency in 2020.

As much as I've found Twitter useful over the years, I'd like to get to know these candidates with a bit more depth than one will find in a Tweet or their latest reaction to whatever story or comment the news is chasing in any given day.

Most people who are serious about becoming President write a book, and the senators have. Having become a regular Kindle user, including of its free sample offering, I have downloaded several samplings from these candidates. I may see if my local library can loan a full copy if I find the reading engaging.

On the Kindle, free samples are better than library loans. Samples you can delete from your Kindle library; public library loans you cannot, even if you didn't highlight anything.

Time to see what these folks had to say, maybe even before they intended to run for President.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Meek slaves of a custom

Mark Twain on duels:
It is pathetic. There are other duels in my list, but I find in each and all of them one and the same ever-recurring defect—the principals are never present, but only their sham representatives. The real principals in any duel are not the duellists themselves, but their families. They do the mourning, the suffering, theirs is the loss and theirs the misery. They stake all that, the duellist stakes nothing but his life, and that is a trivial thing compared with what his death must cost those whom he leaves behind him. Challenges should not mention the duellist; he has nothing much at stake, and the real vengeance cannot reach him. The challenge should summon the offender's old gray mother, and his young wife and his little children,—these, or any to whom he is a dear and worshipped possession—and should say, "You have done me no harm, but I am the meek slave of a custom which requires me to crush the happiness out of your hearts and condemn you to years of pain and grief, in order that I may wash clean with your tears a stain which has been put upon me by another person."

The logic of it is admirable: a person has robbed me of a penny; I must beggar ten innocent persons to make good my loss. Surely nobody's "honor" is worth all that.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

National Repentance

God spoke to Israel and said, “Repent. Change your mind. Come back to the place where you used to live and walk with God. Your mind has given you over to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, the worship of pagan idols, and adultery. You’ve got to change how you understand life, or there is no hope for you.”

God said that to the nation of Israel, but He said it to the other nations of the world as well. Quite a number of times in the Old Testament, He addressed all the nations.

Every nation in the world, not just Israel, is under an obligation to do the will of the God who stands behind it all.
From “The Future of America—A Call to Revival, Part 1,” by Dave Breeese.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The most useful thing I taught a high school senior

It was once my privilege to mentor a young man. We studied James and then studied and memorized Philippians together. (Daily memorization gets you through a text faster than weekly study, FYI.)

Somewhere along the way he saw my system for naming files starting with the date in a particular format:

yyyy-mm-dd - description.ext

I told him if you do that, then an alphabetical list of your files is also a chronological list. Single-digit numbers must be two digits for this to work properly. For instance, today in February would be 2019-02-15.

At first he thought this was unnecessary because files already have date stamps on them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Changes needed to avoid school shootings

It seems the debate on the right to self-defense tends to take on one of two extremes.

Some people conclude the way to get rid of shootings is to get rid of the guns used to commit them.

That proposal has multiple problems. One, we have a Second Amendment. Two, the right to self-defense or the examples of oppression that come when it is denied is long established in the Scriptures. Three, the problem with people using guns to break laws is not that we don't have enough laws against using guns for evil.

The opposite extreme is to “arm teachers” in the classroom.

You don't have to start too many conversations in an elementary school before you find teachers who object to this proposal. Many of them don't want to be armed.

There's a difference between a government policy mandating and funding the arming of every teacher and allowing those teachers that want to arms themselves to exercise their constitutional rights.

One does not need either extreme in order to make a difference when it comes to preventing a school shooting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Until men despise patriotism

From the funeral for Matthew Fontaine Maury:
As long as the planets roll their nightly courses through the sky, his name will be inscribed on the starry firmament. As long as the ocean heaves, the winds blow, and men seek distant lands in commerce, his praise will not want a voice. Till men forget science, he will not be forgotten; and until men despise patriotism, his example will teach us to give up all at the call of our native land. And for our selves, we will be dead to the sweetness of friendship, the love of virtue, and the admiration of Christian piety, when we cease to cherish the memory of him whose death we here record.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Freedom, the goal

After having heard many good things about Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England over the years, I was quite pleased recently to discover an accessible readable version is finally available.

Apparently this work originated as a series of lectures, and after competing and potentially inaccurate transcripts were circulated, Blackstone formally published an official version of his comments.

It has not disappointed. Here's a taste, circa 1758:
…first, to demonstrate the utility of some acquaintance with the laws of the land, let us only reflect a moment on the singular frame and polity of that land, which is governed by this system of laws. A land, perhaps the only one in the universe, in which political or civil liberty is the very end and scope of the constitution.
The goal was freedom. Of course, history has taken turns since then, but the objective was clear and good.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mark Twain would have been a podcaster

From Chapters of his autobiography:
Not even yet have I really written myself out. I have merely stopped writing because dictating is pleasanter work, and because dictating has given me a strong aversion to the pen, and because two hours of talking per day is enough, and because—But I am only damaging my mind with this digging around in it for pretexts where no pretext is needed, and where the simple truth is for this one time better than any invention, in this small emergency. I shall never finish my five or six unfinished books, for the reason that by forty years of slavery to the pen I have earned my freedom. I detest the pen and I wouldn't use it again to sign the death warrant of my dearest enemy.
Twain, Mark. Chapters from My Autobiography. Location 3429. Kindle Edition.

I take that to mean his podcast would have been two hours long and I would not have listened to it.

Then again, maybe he just needed an introduction to the ballpoint pen.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Repentance

The word used in Scripture is metanoia.” “Meta is a “change”; noia means “the mind.” So “metanoia” in its original sense means “a change of mind.” “You need to change your mind about reality” is what the Bible says to a wicked and adulterous generation.

But the warning I would like to lift is, that when many people talk about repentance, they mean a great emotional thing. They mean people who are sorry about the past, and feel bad about it. They mean people who will turn their lives into another direction. These things do have their place under certain circumstances, but that’s not what repentance means!

Friday, February 8, 2019

How Video Changed Games

Book excerpt:
I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, during the golden age of “cheating” in video games. I first had an Atari 2600, then an 8-bit Nintendo, and eventually I moved on to (from today’s perspective) hilariously bad PC games. I’m not much of a gamer anymore, but I can appreciate how far video games have come. In some sense, I’m lucky that I grew up in the days when they were sophisticated enough to where I could play something that looked like baseball (or football or a spaceship that for some reason needed to shoot a bunch of other spaceships) on the screen, but primitive enough that I could figure out all of the game’s weaknesses and exploit them. I didn’t even have to go to the arcade and spend all my quarters. Everything was right there on my television. I don’t think people truly appreciate the impact that bad video games had on baseball or the world in general.

Maybe the most important cultural legacy of the video game is the idea of one-player mode. Most real-world games are multi-player. They pit two (or more) people against each other within some rule structure and the players compete until there’s a winner. While you’re playing the game—assuming that your friends actually want to win—there is no space to stop the game, back up, and try something a little different to see if you can get an edge that way. Before one-player mode, most games were social experiences. There was etiquette to consider. You didn’t take every last advantage and run up the score, even if you could, especially if you still wanted to be friends with the person after the game was over.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How to Innovate

There are two kinds of rules in business. One set includes the moral, ethical, and legal. These should be kept. The other set includes the unwritten rules of market and business operations expectations. These are where innovation opportunities lie, often hidden. It is in testing, probing, questioning, and sometimes outright breaking these unwritten rules that the most potential can be uncovered.

Take, for instance, radio. One of the most important rules in radio is not allowing a broadcast to go silent. This wasn’t the case originally, but as the business model has been optimized since the early days of radio, the most important way to retain listeners and maximize revenue is to ensure there is always something to which people can listen.

What if this rule were to be broken? What if silence in broadcasting could be turned into a competitive advantage?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Highlights from The Art of War

That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

Soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.

Rapidity is the essence of war.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How Sun Tzu Became General

Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch`i State. His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu.

Ho Lu said to him: "I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?"

Sun Tzu replied: "You may."

Ho Lu asked: "May the test be applied to women?"

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Redeemer of Israel

I recently learned that my sister's birthday, today, February 4, share's calendar significance with the days of purification for Jesus.

“When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named Jesus — the name given by the angel before He was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:21-22). “Forty days after Jesus' birth is the time of the circumcision (eight days) plus the 33 days of Leviticus 12:3-4 counted inclusively” (ESVSB). December 25 + 8 + 33 = February 4.

Two different people made reference to this event in a way that indicated this was not your everyday purification ceremony.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

1977 Athletes

Tom Brady was born a couple months after me on August 3, 1977. He is 59 days younger than me. While he’s in the spotlight once again today, this post is about a different athlete born in 1977.

David Ross was born on March 19, 1977. He is 78 days older than me. A couple years ago he and the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. With 108 years since their previous win, this was a long time in coming. Along the way, the team had fun with his age, and shared memories of what life was like in the 1980s, a decade I also remember.

I sampled a few books about the Cubs and their win, and Teammate by David Ross stood out. A lesser known part of David’s story is how he was cut from a different MLB team, and had a reputation as being a bad teammate. He determined to correct that, and Teammate is the story of his correction and the championship results he enjoyed from those efforts.

Ross lists the good attributes of being a teammate as Humility, Honesty, Reliability, Communication, Problem Solving, Sacrifice, Dealing with Change, Engagement, Being Positive, Accountability, Being Social, Toughness, Trust, and Fun.

As I read this book, I noticed some other attributes that are not described directly in that list.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Conversation

This is not the first generation to have difficulty with converation. In a testament to how rare and difficult conversation has become, one blogger has dubbed herself a conversation agent.

Bob Wilkin describes his difficulty with conversation: “I find it hard to talk to most people. I usually have to think about it. When I first met Abby, one of the signs whereby I knew she was the girl for me was that we talked easily and freely. No effort needed. It was perfectly and utterly natural. Normally, for me, it takes effort to talk to people. Even family.”

My great-uncle Dave Breese once described intelligent conversation as a source of knowledge “more readily available than any other.”
Intelligent conversation is free, it is fascinating, it is food for the soul and fine tuning for the fertile mind. The interaction between two intelligent Christian minds going in the same direction is one of life’s most precious gifts.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What do you want?

Before we leave this beginning month of the year, it’s worth noting another beginning.

Jesus’ first question of his disciples was, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). Jesus asked a question like this more than once (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41). It’s a beautiful open-ended question. It’s not a closed, directed question. It’s full of freedom.

His followers answered a question of what with an answer of where that was really based on who: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” (John 1:38). Maybe they could have gone anywhere, but they pegged their desires to being with Jesus wherever he was.

Jesus once asked a similar question once long before this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Experience

It's not a verb.

I learned that my senior year in high school when I did a research paper on the writer Bernard Malamud. It was one of his pet peeves.

If you think about it, using “experience” as a verb is about as substance-free of a verb as one can get. Verbs are about action, and if something is “experienced” (sic), that says absolutely nothing about the action other than there was action.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rediscovering the Value of Names

Names, especially in the English-speaking world, have taken on a nature unique in the history of the world.

In ages past, names were often descriptors. I learned this after I learned how to look up Bible words in the original Hebrew and Greek. In developing his exhaustive lexicon and numbering every word used in the Bible, Mr. Strong had a habit of giving a word a different number if it was being used as a name, than its normal use in grammar. However, if you look at the lexicon entry for a word just before or just after an entry for a name in his lexicon, sometimes it's the exact same word, explained as its other use.

What this means is that there was not a separate name category of words in those languages. People were simply given everyday words as names, often surrounding the circumstances of their birth or beginning. If someone was given a new name, that new name was similarly related to an event or circumstances in their life.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Approaching God

When teaching Sunday School recently, part of the lesson on Exodus 3:11-15 asked a question about how we approach God. The curriculum question was written in such a way that the “right answer” was that we should “never” approach God lightly.

Viewing my relationship with God differently, I instead asked, “Is it ever appropriate to come before God lightly?” Technically that's a closed question, but its nature is still one to open up discussion, and it did.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

God's Empathy

At the end of last year it was my privilege to substitute teach in Sunday School. Our lesson was on Exodus 3-4. The theme was on God calling Moses to his role in delivering God's people from oppression.

One of the lines from God's Word that really stood out to me was Exodus 3:7, “I know about their sufferings…” In many ways, that's the first step in dealing with people who are suffering under oppression—they need to know that someone at least knows about their predicament. That's the first step to understanding and feeling understood.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Holy Ground

When people think of holiness, they often think of something that is other. It is something that is pure and undefiled.

When people see the holiness of God, they think of themselves as being unholy, unclean. Isaiah called himself “a man of unclean lips” in the holy presence of God.

Therefore, we think of our interactions with something holy as that which can possibly taint and pollute that which is holy and pure.

When Moses saw the burning bush and realized this was not your everyday desert combustion, on seeking to look closer God called to him and, when Moses responded, said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

This is fascinating because on the one hand Moses is not to get any closer, and on the other hand he is already in a place that is holy. It gets better.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

9 Things I Love About Martha

Martha is most commonly known for when she was rebuked by Jesus when he said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). There’s more to Martha’s story than her lowest point. There’s a lot to like about this women.

1. Martha had a gift of hospitality. She had welcomed Jesus into her home (Luke 11:38). She knew how to both create an environment for relationship with others, and how to fill it.

2. Martha served (Luke 10:40). I’ve heard it said that a weakness is a strength carried to an extreme. I’m not sure how theologically sound or universally true that is, but in this case it seems to fit. She was working so hard to serve so much that it was interfering with her thinking. Her serving was a strength. We know that her serving could be a good thing because it was later recorded without incident: “and Martha served” (John 12:2). In the context of hospitality, service likely meant a party. I expect Martha loved the various times of the year for the various annual Jewish feasts.

3. Martha loved her prostitute sister and her sick brother. “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord (Mark 14:3; John 12:3) with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick’” (John 11:1-3).

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Seeing Thomas in Context

The Apostle Thomas is often known as the Doubter, or Doubting Thomas.

This comes from his response to the other disciples telling him, “We have seen the Lord,” and Thomas responding, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Sounds a bit harsh, right?

The context here can shed some light on his thinking and how he got to this point.

Thomas’ reference to the nail prints and side of the Lord may not have been an original thought. Just before this, when Thomas wasn’t there, Jesus had specifically shown the other disciples “His hands and His side” (John 20:20). In their gladness of having seen the Lord, they may well have excitedly told Thomas, “We saw his hands and his side.” Thomas’ response might have been much more of a “I want to see them, too,” kind of response. His reference to “I will not believe” may have been more in reference to the other disciples than the Lord.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Roe Generation

The oppression of the People of Israel in the land of Egypt began with fear of their multiplication. Though this reproductive tendency was in obedience to God, it was viewed as a threat. When enslavement and bondage were not enough to suppress the People of Israel, Pharaoh turned to genocide and population control.

One of the survivors of this period was Moses. We first read of him in Exodus 2. “And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son.” (1:1-2). Through a series of providential events, Moses' life was preserved and he was not a lost member of his generation.

One could be forgiven for thinking Moses was the oldest child in his family based on him being the first child mentioned after “a man of the house of Levi went and took as a wife a daughter of Levi.” In fact, he had a brother, Aaron, whom we later find out is three years older and a sister who was already looking out for her little brother just after he was born. We later read that the man was named Amram, his wife was Jochebed, and their children were “Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.” Their children are also listed in this same order later in the official ecclesiastical record of the People of Israel. Moses definitely was not the firstborn, so why is he the first child we hear about from this couple?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Remembering Kennedy's Inaugural Address

Among the first words of President John F. Kennedy to the nation on January 20, 1961, were these:
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Lead a Soul to Christ

  1. Show everyone's need of Salvation. (Christ).
    1. Because everyone has sinned.
      (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; James 4:17).
    2. Because those not saved suffer the consequences of sin.
      1. Abiding under God's wrath.
        (Romans 1:18).
      2. At enmity with God.
        (Romans 8:6-8).
      3. Result - eternal suffering.
        (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:15)
  2. Show that God provided salvation in Christ.
    (Romans 5:6-8; I Peter 2:24; II Cor. 5:21).
  3. Show that one is saved by trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour.
    (John 1:12, 13; John 3:36; Romans 10:9, 10, 13).
  4. Show that if one sins after salvation, Christ acts as intercessor.
    (Hebrews 7:25; I John 2:1).
  5. Show converts how to grow spiritually. Assure that Christians keep fresh, fragrant, and fruitful and quietly grow into spiritual giants, as acorns grow into oaks, by practising.
Three Talks
  1. Talk to God daily - prayer
  2. Let God talk to you daily - Bible reading
    (Read in order to know and obey the Bible).
  3. Talk about God daily - witness for Christ
    (By speech - life - service)
In my ministry, converts seemed to grow spiritually as they practiced these Talks. Those failing to grow neglected one - then another - then all.

William McCarrell, D. D.
Christian Work Center
2214 S. Laramie Ave.
Cicero 50, Ill.

William McCarrell, D.D., was the pastor of Cicero Bible Church.

His son Dave McCarrell was with Pacific Garden Mission.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Follow the Money

If a corporation were found to be making a profit from selling 20,000 people a week into slavery, there would be an outcry and demands for an immediate halt to its activities. Congress would investigate and hold hearings to grill its leaders on its practices and purpose. “What is this, the 1600's?”

If the United States government were giving funds to that corporation, those responsible would be held to account. Campaigns would be mounted. Elected officials would be called out. Passivity would count as complicity. “You're either opposed to this or you're out.”

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Random Things of God

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

The foolish things of the world are those things which the world considers meaningless, random, and insignificant. The world sees no possible way in which these things could make any difference, positive or negative.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

200 Days

I'm 20% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing. It's hard to believe it's been 200 days already.

I've had more days than I've wanted where I didn't have time to write and had nothing posted ahead of time, so I only made a brief mention of recent life happenings in order to maintain the commitment. It's clear on those days not much writing was scheduled ahead of time except perhaps a few time-sensitive items.

A few times I've written something first offline, and then later added links and such when I'm actually posting it.

I've also tried to push writing ideas closer to completion ahead of time by starting drafts and setting times directly in Blogger. The problem with this is then I don't have my schedule or post notes available offline. I started a writing calendar, and I've noticed Windows 10 Calendar is more flexible (Microsoft enterprise-compatible) than Google Calendar. I still have some workflow optimizing to do.

Tim
15,200 days

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Demand Equality = Demand Power

Another strategy of the supposed nonplayer (for power) is to demand equality in every area of life. Everyone must be treated alike, whatever their status and strength.

But if, to avoid the taint of power, you attempt to treat everyone equally and fairly, you will confront the problem that some people do certain things better than others. Treating everyone equally means ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and suppressing those who excel.

Again, many of those who behave this way are actually deploying another power strategy, redistributing people’s rewards in a way that they determine.
Greene, Robert (2000-08-31T23:58:59). The 48 Laws of Power. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Monday, January 14, 2019

When Learning Requires Unlearning

Anyone who has driven a car for years has built up in his arms, his legs, and his brain a set of conditioned reflexes. He automatically does certain things in the face of certain problems of speed and control. When he decides to fly an airplane, he faces the problem of unlearning some of the principles that apply in the two-dimension problem of an automobile but which would be foolish or even fatal in the three-dimension world of aircraft flight.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Two opposite ways to hit bottom

After having written about why it's difficult for the rich to get to heaven, I thought about what is the opposite of this in some ways.

There is an often an experience for the rich of having hit bottom, and then functionally learned absolute dependence on themselves. On the flip side, Jesus us told us to “sell what you have.” Even if this was in the context of talking to a rich man, it has instructive value for everyone.

What if we actually did that? What if we actually sold everything we had?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Congress Updates

GovTop Report
Pray for Congress

Family Lighthouse

Today is Mom's birthday, and I thought it fitting to write a tribute for her. I don't know that I've ever done that before, especially publicly (which she may not appreciate), but I've written her things in the past she has found encouraging and appreciative of all she has done for me.

When my mom was young and growing up in Pioneer Guards (if I remember right, either a predecessor to Awana or an early form thereof), the theme the curriculum used was lighthouses. This really stuck with her, and she has enjoyed noting lighthouses during her travels ever since.

She was a lighthouse to our family in many ways, shining forth the word of truth in our family and home. There are several key forms this took over my growing up years that I want to highlight here.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How to be an exceptional contractor

In college I enjoyed many conversations with the vice president of operations. We both have a similar background, and were like-minded on many things.

I thought about doing some consulting and starting up a business, and he gave me some advice. “If you want to be a good contractor, it's very simple: Do what you say you're going to do. Do that and you'll be exceptional.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Understanding Compromise

Sometimes people come to a disagreement. Sometimes disagreements must be resolved before people can proceed and move forward. The resolution of a disagreement can take several forms: one person is right, the other person is right, they meet somewhere in the middle, they find another option neither initially brought to the table.

There are two main approaches to figuring out which of those four options is best, and they tend to come down to whether or not one believes in first principles. This is a worldview difference that can cause one side to completely misunderstand the other.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

An Opportunity in Every Situation

“I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts xx. 27).

It is probable that God lets every human being, that crosses our path, meet us, in order that we may have the opportunity of leaving some blessing in his path, and dropping into his heart and life some influence that will draw him nearer to God. It would be blessed, indeed, if we could meet every immortal soul, at last, that we have ever touched in the path of life, and truly say, “I am pure from the blood of all men.”

Beloved, is it so? The servant that works in your household; the man that sat beside you in the train; the laborer that wrought for you, and, above all, the members of your household and family, your fellow-laborer in the shop or factory, have you done your best to lead them to Christ?

The early Christians regarded every situation as an opportunity to witness for Christ. Even when brought before kings and governors, it never occurred to them that they were to try to get free, but the Master's message to them was, “It shall turn to you for a testimony.” It was simply an occasion to preach to kings and rulers, whom otherwise they could not reach.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 363—December 29). Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Where to find God's promised power

“The Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts v. 32).

We can only know and prove the fulness of the Spirit as we step out into the larger purposes and plans of Christ for the world.

Perhaps the chief reason why the Holy Spirit has been so limited in His work in the hearts of Christians, is the shameful neglect of the unsaved and unevangelized world by the great majority of the professed followers of Christ. There are millions of professing Christians—and, perhaps, real Christians—in the world, who have never given one real, earnest thought to the evangelization of the heathen world.

God will not give the Holy Spirit in His fulness for the selfish enjoyment of any Christian. His power is a great trust, which we must use for the benefit of others and for the evangelization of the lost and sinful world. Not until the people of God awake to understand His real purpose for the salvation of men, will the Church ever know the fulness of her Pentecost. God's promised power must lie along the line of duty, and as we obey the command, we shall receive His promise in his fulness.

Lord, help me to understand Thy plan.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 363—December 28). Kindle Edition.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Future of Value, Shared Office Edition

There is room for further innovation in the commercial real estate industry for shared office coworking space. The hospitality industry has developed smaller and more granular rental time frames and spaces, and the same would be useful in the commercial sector.

The current shared office business model typically includes a monthly membership for access to a working space with WiFi, and for a higher price a member can rent a specific secured space to which only they have access. Some coworking spaces offer snacks and food for while people are working.

Sometimes even these arrangements are unnecessarily limiting. For instance, in some cases the people using shared office are part of a cohort with a time-limited duration of time using office space.

Some of us would like to be able to have a secured access on a more temporary basis. Being able to have a space in which we can work and temporarily lock our things while we may step out briefly would be ideal.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Year Transition

It's church budget planning season, and I'm responsible for a couple different categories, so that's where my writing efforts have been of late, like today.

Meanwhile, my idea list for writing here continues to grow. Thank you for your patience, and please stay tuned.

Friday, January 4, 2019

4004 B.C.

Today is the birthday of Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656).

One of the things for which he is most remembered is his chronology which dates the time of creation to 4004 B.C.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Two days in one for Congress

Trying to figure out the Congressional Record is difficult when the Congress is now passed. Tomorrow may be even more challenging when two different days from different Congresses happened on the same calendar day—today, January 3, 2019.

Trying to live more than one day in a single day sounds familiar these days. It's a busy start to a new year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

House vote scheduled for tomorrow on efforts to make human life more vulnerable

The Democratic push in the House to make human life in the womb more vulnerable has begun.

Is supposed to be a method to find compromise to end the partial shutdown?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Rivers of Pleasure

I love new beginnings, especially at the beginning of a new year.

I don’t remember enjoying a new year as much when I was a kid. Maybe that’s because as a kid I myself am quite new to the world anyway. Growing up in a stable home, how much of a fresh start does one need every year? Maybe it was part of growing up in tropical Florida where seasonal changes aren’t as dramatic, visible, or noticeable. As we get older, and we hit a few more bumps along the way, fresh starts are more appreciated. A new year is a natural time to clear the decks to forge new paths in the year ahead.

The beginning of God’s Word describes the beautiful beginning of creation. The description of the Garden of Pleasure (which is what it’s called if we translate “Eden”) doesn’t get much attention, but it’s particularly lively.

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin