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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Weight a Minute!

I weighed 8 lbs and 13 ounces when I was born.  That was the least I have ever weighed this side of the womb.  34 years later, I am weighing in at the most I have ever weighed: 204.6 lbs.  I weighed 204 lbs. once before back in 2007, as well.  Since then, I've usually teetered around 195 though have dipped to as low as 185 at times.

It's clear that a sedentary occupation contributes to my weight.  When I have been in a more physically-laborious job role, I have easily kept the weight around 190.  But, I mostly sit in a chair all day anymore.

When my weight gets brought up in conversation, many people are surprised at how much I weigh.  I carry it pretty evenly, so I don't appear to weigh as much as I do.  I'm not real tall, and many taller people find it hard to believe that I weigh more than they do.  But, the scale doesn't lie.  It's brutally honest.

The reason I bring all this up, is because I'm starting a challenge at work.  When there is a competition involved I am many times more likely to hit my goals, so I joined up.  For the next 12 weeks, I'll be getting weighed and measured every week.  There is money involved to be shared by all those hitting their goals and more money to people who are found to maintain even after the competition is over.  I'll be posting all of my measurements on this blog, as well.  The more accountability, the better.

My goal is to lose 20 lbs over the course of the next 12 weeks.  I also have another personal goal, as well.  I met my wife, Jodi, on December 6th, 2003.  I weighed 175 then.  This December will mark our 10th yeariversary.  Yes, that's right.  I said "yeariversary".  Our anniversary is celebrated from when we were married.  Our yeariversary is celebrated from when we met.  One way or another, for our tenth yeariversary, I will weigh 175 lbs again.  That's 29 lbs in 6 months.

So, how will I do this?  Self-control.  It starts with cutting out all the junk that I eat.  I'll also be incorporating several exercises into my life.  I will start riding my bike to work a minimum of twice a week.  I have just joined a weekly soccer pick-up game for charity that will help immensely.  I'm also going to flip the quantity of food that I have at meal times again.  I once had a lot of good results simply from eating a large breakfast.  It positively changed the way I ate the rest of the day and I didn't experience hunger ever.  I'm also keeping a food log on  I was using that for a couple months and lost 9 pounds just from keeping my food consumption visual.

Of course, only time will tell whether or not I'm successful.  Everyone has heard people make all kinds of promises and it gets kind of tired hearing the same old jargon.  So, sorry if this sounds like just another one of those.  But, I fully expect to be able to show some pretty good results when I am done.

Religious Right

In recent news, a Kentucky high school graduation included a student-led prayer despite some objections by a handful of students.  The prayer itself, however, was very well received and was followed by a standing ovation.  One of the six known students to have objected to the school's principal, an atheist, has made his plans of contacting the ACLU known.  The article states that he feels that the public prayer violated the civil rights of students who are not Christian.

The ACLU's website makes it clear that they believe that graduation prayers are unconstitutional regardless of who leads them.  Their site states the following:
Think about it: graduation prayers would give non-believers or kids of other faiths the feeling that their participation in prayer is required. It doesn't matter who leads the prayer -- a minister, a priest, a rabbi, whoever, or whether the prayer is non-denominational -- some kids would feel left out.
The main problem that I see here is that judges keep entertaining these frivolous cases when they should immediately be thrown out.  The first amendment, among other things, strictly prohibits the government from prohibiting the individual's exercise of religion.  No one has the "right" NOT to hear someone else's right to free speech.  Likewise, no one has the "right" NOT to hear someone else's free exercise of religion.

Many people get hung up on the "establishment clause" part of the amendment and thus violate people's rights to freely exercise their religion.  The government is to "make no law respecting an establishment of religion." When a student decides to publicly thank God it's nothing short of a mile-wide stretch to say that this is the government making a law establishing religion.  What's not at all a stretch is to demonstrate that silencing that student is a violation of that student's right to free speech and the free exercise of his/her religion.

I realize that the ACLU has played a good role in years past advocating for the actual rights of people, but they have brought on themselves a bad reputation for advocating for rights that don't exist and, in doing so, violating the actual rights of many in the process.  For example, the ACLU, in it's self-described battle to keep religion out of science classrooms, has fought to keep Intelligent Design out of schools while being just fine with Evolution being taught.  The main difference between the two theories is that Evolution suggests that all things known to exist have come into existence by time and chance and under the influence of Natural Selection while Intelligent Design suggests that all things known to exist came into existence by the design of an intelligent source.  Evolution points to the evidence of similarities between species as well as what we currently know about adaptation.  Intelligent Design points to the evidence of the apparent design of all things and the irreducible complexity of most organisms.  If the ACLU contends that the teaching of Intelligent Design equates to the teaching of the existence of God thus violating the "civil right" of an Atheist, then they must also logically contend that the teaching of Evolution equates to the teaching of the nonexistence of God thus violating the "civil right" of a Theist.  But, they don't do this.  They fail to see their own hypocrisy on the issue.

It's time that the courts stop allowing these kinds of "violated civil rights" issues when the "violator" is someone peacefully exercising their civil right.  To allow these cases to continue to be heard only encourages others to make such claims and ultimately produces upside-down fascism where a small minority makes the rules that remove the freedoms of the majority.

Unity in the Community?

I learned this week about a religion of which I wasn't previously aware.  It is called Bahá'í Faith.  Practicing members are called Bahá'ís.  The founder of the religion chose the name Baha’u’llah (Glory of God) though was born Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí.  If you have trouble reading all that, you're not alone.  The religion was born out of Persia (now Iran) in the mid-nineteenth century and as such all the names are Persian.

I'll be exploring here what they claim to believe and will follow it up with what I think about those beliefs.  However, I do want it known that this isn't an attempt to smear a religion.  It's an analysis of a set of beliefs.  We do analysis to make sure that what we believe is actually truth.  The inherent quality of any belief is that it is something one believes to be true.  So, it's not about belief, but rather about truth.

The beliefs held by Bahá'ís are:
  • About God
    • There is only one omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) God.
    • Despite the different major religions (Judiasm, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc) differing concepts and names of God, they are actually all one in the same God.
    • God is ultimately unknowable.
  • About Religion's Founders
    • Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad were all "Manifestations of God" sent to reveal the attributes and will of God appropriate for their time.
    • Baha’u’llah is the most recent "Manifestation of God".
    • The previous prophets are no less valid or respected, but Bahá'u'lláh's revelation supercedes them in that it is the most recent and most relevant for our time.
  • About Human Nature and the Soul
    • Humans have eternal souls that animate our bodies.  This distinguishes us from animals.
    • The soul is where our character and conscience is found.
  • About Sin and Evil
    • Any concept of "original sin" or doctrine that teaches humans have an intrinsically evil nature is rejected.
    • There is no Satan or devil or evil force of any kind.
  • About the Purpose of Life
    • For each individual to develop the spiritual and moral qualities that lie at the core of his or her nature.
  •  About the Afterlife
    • At physical death the soul is separated from the body it begins a spiritual journey towards God through many planes of existence.
    • A soul is either moving towards or away from God.
    • There is no final "place" or destination to which the soul will reside.
    • The details of the afterlife remain a mystery.
  • About other Religions
    • One of the fundamental doctrines of the Bahá'í Faith is the unity of the world's great religions. This does not mean that all religions are the same, but that there is only one true religion and all of the Messengers of God have progressively revealed its nature.
    • Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Báb, and Baha’u’llah are the progressive Messengers, in this order.  Religious revelation will continue in the future in this manner.
    • Unity, harmony and respect between the world's existing religions is emphasized.
  • About Creation
    • The universe is eternal.  It has no beginning and no end.  It has been with God since the "Great First Cause".
    • All things that experience composition will eventually experience decomposition.
    • 'Man' has always existed with God, but not in its current form.  "Gradually it passed through various conditions and different shapes, until it attained this form and beauty, this perfection, grace and loveliness."
The reason I post all of this is to educate you in case you need to know what these people believe if you encounter one.  Jodi and I recently read in our Grant Beach Neighborhood Association newsletter that the Baha'i Community of Springfield will be hosting an observance of "Race Unity Day" at our neighborhood park next month.  This prompted my dig into their beliefs and their origins.

As a practicing Christian, I found it necessary to learn about their faith so that I can be more prepared to address their beliefs in any upcoming discussions that I may be involved in.  One of the things that the Christian church, in general, has failed at miserably in recent years is training its adherents about other religions and how best to address them to share the truth of the Gospel.  It's evident that Jesus and the Apostles knew quite well about other religions of their day.  We see in the Gospels how Jesus addressed different crowds differently.  This style is also clearly seen in the letters to the different churches emphasizing different aspects of the same truth.  They knew how to address their audience not from a memorized unchanging one-size-fits-all speech, but from an understanding of their audience, a genuine love for their audience, and a willingness to be used of God to speak to their audience.  God provided the words.  So shall we be equipped if we are willing to make the effort.

A Biblical response to Baha'i beliefs:
  • About God
    • There is one God represented in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    • The belief that all religions worship the same God only reveals the believer's ignorance of other religions.  The world's religions are contradictory and cannot be one in the same.  Logically, they can all be wrong, but they can't all be right.
    • "19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."  Romans 1:19-20  God has made Himself known to the extent that He can be known by a finite creation.
  • About Religion's Founders
    • Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad all gave depictions of God.  Only Abraham's, Moses', and Jesus' are reconcilable.  The others' are contradictory to each other and to the Biblical depiction.
    • "Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many."  Matthew 24:4-5  Here's a link to a list of people claiming to be the returned Christ.  This shows that Bahá'u'lláh is one of many making such claims.  Jesus warned of men making such claims, so the test is whether or not these men fit the biblical profile of the returning Messiah, of which Bahá'u'lláh doesn't even come remotely close.
    • I'm amused at the self-refuting statement here.  One can't say that a previous messenger is no less valid and immediately follow that with the statement that the contradictory message of the most recent messenger supersedes that of its predecessor due to relevance.  For example: Bob tells you 10 years ago that oranges are good for you.  Then yesterday, Steve tells you that they are, in fact, bad for you yet also says that Bob was right.  Unless, of course, oranges have changed over the course of the last ten years and both Bob and Steve were right in their time.  However, the "Messengers of God" are not talking about oranges, they're talking about the record of the story of creation, the fall of man, the redemption of man, and the nature of God.  It's self-defeating to claim that two contradictory accounts of these subjects can both be valid.
  • About Human Nature and the Soul
    • I didn't find in my brief search anything that I disagreed with on this subject.
  • About Sin and Evil
    • Any honest parent can attest to the tendency towards evil found in humans.  Our children are prime examples of this, though they are not held on the same level of accountability for their actions.  It's ridiculously apparent that doing good is not in our nature, but rather selfish ambition and self-preservation is.
    • A denial to believe in a reality doesn't change reality.  It just denies it.  The Bible clearly speaks of an evil force and gives it a name and a personality.  Jesus dealt with him as a reality.  For all the respect that Baha'i's claim to give Jesus, they sure do make Him out to be a liar a lot.
  • About the Purpose of Life
    • To develop moral qualities?  For what?  Their stated "purpose" is just a moving target.
  •  About the Afterlife
    • "through many planes of existence" is contradictory to the Bible.
    • "A soul is either moving towards or away from God."  I would agree with this while we are on this earth, though not after our physical deaths.  The Bible talks about a judgement of our lives on earth with a just decision being made not a continued existence of learning.
    • The Bible speaks a LOT about two places of final destination, heaven and hell.  One is in the presence of God and the other where His presence is not.  Again, the denial of this is contradictory to the biblical account and Baha'i's thus believe that God has given us two somehow valid yet contradictory accounts of the afterlife.  That's one strange god that they believe in.
    • "The details of the afterlife remain a mystery."  Translation: If I get backed into an illogical corner I can just cling to the "mysteriousness" of it all.
  • About other Religions
    • "This does not mean that all religions are the same, but that there is only one true religion and all of the Messengers of God have progressively revealed its nature."  I agree with this statement right up until "and all the Messengers...".  They're right that there is only one truth.  In looking at a simplified version of their claim in the latter third of the statement above, we can see that they believe Jesus and Muhammad both to have revealed the nature of truth.  Jesus stated that He is the Way and no one will come to the Father but by Him.  Muhammad states that Jesus was merely a man and that we need no mediator to God.  So, Baha'i's believe that God would tell us one thing and then contradict Himself later, and not once but multiple times throughout all of recorded history.
    • "Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Báb, and Baha’u’llah are the progressive Messengers..."  Bahai's believe in the God of Contradiction.
    • "Unity, harmony and respect between the world's existing religions is emphasized."  They claim to accomplish this by requiring converts to first acknowledge that all the religions are the same.  So, how long can unity, harmony and respect last when based on a lie?
  • About Creation
    • The creation story isn't poetic.  It's not an exaggeration. It's not allegorical.  God is not an author of fiction.  Contradicting it, and worse, elevating man to God's infinite status, is not recommended.
    • "All things that experience composition will eventually experience decomposition."  Yes, from dust to dust.  The result of sin is death and all of creation groans from it while it waits to be fully restored and reconciled to God.  Thus, everything will deteriorate in the meantime.  Though, Baha'i's assume the uniformatarian viewpoint and think that creation never fell from perfect in the first place thus denying it will ever be reconciled and thus assuming that God created imperfection that will remain imperfect for eternity.
    • 'Man' has always existed with God, but not in its current form.  "Gradually it passed through various conditions and different shapes, until it attained this form and beauty, this perfection, grace and loveliness."  While this seems to provide a way of unification to the evolutionary viewpoint, it fails miserably to be reconciled to the biblical one.
In summary, Baha'is strive to be reconciled to man with a mission to bring unity, peace, and equality to the world.  In their attempt, they refuse to focus their efforts on reconciliation with the God of the Bible.  They deny the Gospel and thus Jesus.  They choose to worship a man instead.  And, just as Jesus warned us (in Matthew 24:4-5) many will be deceived.  Make sure you are not one counted among them.  And, more than that, if you are not, see to it that you can effectively share the Gospel with those who are.

Age of the Earth

When entering "age of the earth" into a Google search, the near-instant result is 4.54 billion years.  That's a pretty long time.  I suppose anything could be possible for that given time period, right?  Planets could form.  Elements could be created out of pretty much nothing.  Life could spring up out of virtually nowhere.  That life could evolve over time and somehow turn into say, you, for instance.  Right?

This view is accepted by many people, including many, if not most, Christians.  I, too, once believed such a way.  My belief wasn't based off having been convinced by the evidence but rather I simply believed the information that was given to me through my public education, television, children's books, and my peers.  All I had ever heard of evolution and a billions-year-old earth had been presented to me as fact.  I simply didn't question it.

When I did question it, I found that the model presented to me my whole life failed to make sense to me anymore.  I couldn't pretend any longer that my acceptance of a proposed old earth could coincide with my theology.

I have become thoroughly convinced of a young earth, one that was supernaturally formed and intelligently designed for purpose by God.  I believe that the evidence is clear and that the logic clearly points for this to be true.  No other theory, no matter how much it gets treated like fact, makes near as much sense of the data.  And, this is not nearly as complicated a subject as we have made it out to be in our minds.

But, that's why I think that an idea of an old earth has become so widely accepted.  I think that educated people, professionals in their fields over the course of the last 200 years have decided that this is true and have propagated it.  Meanwhile, the church, not being professionally trained in the sciences were not prepared to refute these claims.  Neither was the church aware of exactly how incompatible the idea of an old earth was to the Bible's clearly given historical account.

An easy, entertaining, and thought provoking read on this subject can be read online at  If in reading this blog, you have come to think that I must be gullible, uneducated, unreasonable, religious or any other accusations that are so commonly hurled at young earth creationists, then I challenge you to read the book that I have linked to above.  I challenge you to find its illogical arguments, its incorrect findings, its lies, if you will.  Regardless of why you read it, you should read it.

The truth of the matter is that it was almost universally understood that the earth was thousands of years old until the late 18th century when a handful of scientists started positing that it was much older.  One of these, James Hutton (1726–1797) is known as the father of geology.  He was the first to propose that the earth is being created today at the same speed in which it always had.  He based this off of his proposed Theory of Uniformitarianism.  This is the platform that began a myriad of incorrect science.  Uniformitarianism is simply stated as the belief that things are how they have always been and that current rates of spread, growth, erosion, etc. can be used as a basis as a set rate throughout all of history.  It's totally stacking the deck no matter how you look at it.  And, conveniently for proponents of an old earth, it sets the stage to introduce the gods of time and chance.

Perhaps the most asinine belief is that life was created from nothing.  I have seen and heard many proposed models of how this could have happened and they are all ridiculously flawed.  It has been aptly demonstrated that these models could not have produced even the most simple building blocks of a living organism much less the organism itself.  But, one point that came to mind today while contemplating this was that even if the impossible odds were somehow beaten and the building blocks of a living organism were created AND those somehow perfectly fell into place and just the perfect places AND they somehow fused to become this living organism, how did this living organism replicate itself?  Think about it.  Even IF everything lined up to create life, what are the chances that this life would somehow also contain the ability and will to reproduce itself.  If you can believe that despite no credible evidence pointing to it then you certainly have more faith in nothing than I have in God.

Have you ignored this bible verse?

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day.  I had a good talk with mine about a month ago.  We were talking about how I had recently had a conversation with an agnostic who was tossing "commands" in the Bible at me to which some churches don't adhere in an effort to discredit what Christians say about the Bible by first establishing that they themselves don't follow it.  Some of the verses he tossed at me, I needed to do some quick Internet research in order to answer better.  But, they were all answered and I noticed a softening in the speech going back and forth.  He appreciated the answers and was obviously reevaluating his position.

One of the examples I gave my mother sparked her intrigue.  The argument presented goes something like this:  "1 Corinthians 14:34-35 clearly states that women should remain silent in church, yet they don't and I don't see any of you Christians up in arms about it.  You say the Bible is inerrant but you ignore the passages that you don't like and that don't fit your beliefs.  You shouldn't be such hypocrites."

I know people use this phrase too often and quite often when it doesn't truly apply, but I'll say it anyway: it's important to not take things out of context.  The immediate context of verses 34-35 is 36 and it changes the entire meaning of the verses that precede it.  The KJV of verse 36 reads like this "What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?"

All ancient texts are difficult to understand at times and shouldn't always be taken at face value. Understanding what Paul is saying here would be better understood with some quotation marks in the passage. Paul is quoting a law in the Corinthian church. It was not God's law and cannot be found in any of the OT texts concerning as such. Paul quoted their law and followed it with his own words and his reaction to that quote in verse 36.

Verse 36 makes it very clear that Paul was not in agreement with this so-called law. He was reprimanding them for suppressing women and in doing so suppressing half of the image of God.

It's interesting to note that verse 36 is completely skipped over in most biblical commentaries.  These commentaries will actually affirm the very practice in the Corinthian church that Paul was trying to correct.  And, then they'll just go right on to verse 37 without so much as blinking an eye.  Many churches teach this way, as well.  Just last week I was listening to Bott Radio Network and heard John MacArthur teaching that women have their place in teaching other women and children but not to be speakers in the church and not to have any leadership roles in the church.

This teaching lines up quite well with what the Corinthians were being reprimanded for, yet we have entire denominations of churches that reaffirm this incorrect practice.  To the male leaders of these churches, I would like to reiterate the words of Paul and say to them "What?!  Your word is now the word of God?!  And only through you may God use for His word?!"

Let's not forget that when God created man, he did so in His own image, but that for the first time in all creation God said "it is not good".  The solution to this was to create woman.  God's image is only complete in mankind with the marriage of a man and a woman.  These same churches will use this as a picture of marriage but then ignore it when it comes to the teaching of the gospel.

So, for this Mother's Day, recognize not just your own mother or the mother to your children, but give proper biblical respect to the faithful spiritual mothers that surround us in our churches.

Frowny Town

I saw this last week and laughed out loud.  I loved that someone properly captured the absurdity of this address to the press.  In case you don't know where this image originated, it was from the moments after Congress failed to pass a bill that would have required background checks for all gun transfers specifically at gun shows and online sales (of course, neither the cat nor the elderly puppet were actually there)(and by elderly puppet, I'm not referring to Biden).

The President was introduced by a father of one of the murdered students from the Newtown, CT incident.  I take no issue with any facial expression that he might have produced in reaction to any disappointment of the preceding legislative actions.  But, the forced expressions on the faces of the President and Vice President were nothing short of ridiculous.

They were melodramatically frustrated with the Senate for not passing the bill and they evidently wanted to make that well understood even to the hearing impaired.  This sort of behavior doesn't lend much credibility to them politically, in my opinion.  I'm picturing what the rest of the world must think of the U.S. when they see images like these (the original, sans the comical additions).

They were upset because they viewed the bill to be a perfectly non-invasive and helpful addition to gun control.  Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. who co-authored the bill even went as far to say, "If you're a law-abiding gun owner, you'll love this bill."  Though, as a law-abiding gun-owner, I neither love the bill nor do I see it as either non-invasive or helpful.

First of all, it requires a background check to be performed which is a service that costs money.  Who is going to pay for all these background checks, you ask?  Why the people, of course.  Call it what you will, but it's in essence another tax on a product that we have explicit rights to own, buy, and sell without the government's intervention or restriciton.

Meanwhile, the background check inherently requires a registration of all transfers.  We've already seen this be abused by our own federal and Missouri State governments at this link and at this link in direct violation of State law.  Yet, over and over again, we hear that the information will not be compiled into lists ever used for any purpose or made available to any other agencies.  Why is this bad?  Because the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to protect the country from any tyrannical government, including its own.  By requiring this information, compiling it into lists, and making this information available to other government agencies, they are collecting data to potentially use against us by a future tyrannical entity.  This right of the government to be able to collect this information was never granted to it and when brought before the Senate last month they affirmed that the government should not be granted this ability.

Let's now deal with the fact that the President wants to make this about protecting our children.  It's undisputed that he's using the Newtown massacre as a catalyst for these new gun control measures.  But, the logic being used is all fallacious.  A required background check would not have prevented Newtown.  For that matter, it would not have prevented any of these recent mass-murders.  No supporter of this bill has yet to come forward demonstrating that any of the weapons used in any of these events would have been restricted by the implementation of this required background check.  The reason for this lack of demonstration: because it cannot be demonstrated.  So, why is the President so emotionally involved in trying to pass this added restriction?

What the bill would have done is this:  Law-abiding gun owners would have been burdened with the cost of more government regulation on all new gun transfers.  Law-breaking criminals would still have their weapons of choice to do their destruction.  The number of lives saved due to this legislation would not have been affected.  It would have created a compiled list of all gun owners and the guns they own, giving the government an even larger advantage over their one check and balance: the people.  It would have undermined our Constitutional right to bear arms.  It would have been used to argue the need of even more regulation and restriction.

In conclusion, last month our U.S. Senate did their job.  They recognized an unconstitutional, ineffective, and costly infringement on the rights of all U.S. citizens being proposed and they kept it from passing despite a large number of supporters interested in a power grab by exploiting an unavoidable tragedy.

Possession to Effectiveness Ratio

I saw this meme shared the other day on Facebook.  I like it because it does have some truth behind it, though not quite the whole truth, of course.

Recently, my wife and I both individually read the book Jantsen's Gift written by Pam Cope and Aimee Molloy.  I bought the book at the Dollar Tree because it looked interesting and you can't really go too awfully wrong for a dollar.  I won't go into detail about the book because I'm bad about making that go on seemingly forever.  So, instead, I'll just say that it was a wonderful book about an average woman from Joplin, Missouri making a very over-average global impact.  I recommend it to everyone.

In the autobiography, the author is giving more and more of her resources towards her mission.  Despite living in her dream house, she began to feel like it wasn't necessary anymore.  It wasn't necessarily guilt that was driving her to make these reassessments, but in her desire to do more and more for others, she came to realize that her large house was actually a large financial burden and large consumer of time.  Their resources were limited due to the extravagance of their spending.

This book had led me to wonder some of these same things.  Seeing the meme above, I almost felt some relief from these feelings that we may not have that dream house that we would like.  I immediately felt like perhaps I could build that dream house guilt-free after all.  But, the feeling didn't last.

I want to live correctly.  Meaning, I want to live biblically.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that living biblically looks exactly the same for everyone.  I'm not saying that I must sell everything that I own and give away all the proceeds.  What I'm saying is that I want to be effective in what I am called to do.  I doubt that I would be very effective at all in my calling if I were dirt poor.  I would then spend all my time trying to feed myself and my family and wouldn't have time to be effective in my calling.  What I am saying is that I want to be wary of things that are unnecessary to my calling and therefore a hindrance to me achieving the goals set out for me.

I still like the meme.  But, I like it for pointing out the judgement being made on those based off of their possessions.  It also seeks to point out the irony of the ones that make that judgement.  Statistically speaking, households headed by conservatives give 30% more than households headed by liberals, the irony being that it tends to be the liberals who are making the socialist arguments like that found in this meme.

In the end, ones own conscience must be addressed when it comes to personal possessions and their respective calls on their lives to do for others.  Personally, I don't seek the life of luxury, I don't want the life of daily financial struggle, I desire a life of effectiveness. 

Free Will

The Garden of Eden.  Most people are somewhat if not very familiar with this story whether they are readers of the Bible or not.  For those of us who hold that it is an historically true location and event, we may differ on how we view the Garden in our minds.

I, for one, always pictured it as a little forest teeming with animals of all kinds.  In the center of this little forest was a large beautiful tree plump with juicy fruit that was practically begging to be eaten, despite the fact that it was forbidden by God to do so.  Since, the Bible doesn't specifically mention any other fruit in the creation story, it never occurred to me that there was any other.  And, though it's irrelevant, I also always pictured this forbidden fruit to be an apple.  What a poor rap for the apple.

I blame my distorted view on the many illustrated accounts that I have seen over the years.  It's not to say that these illustrated accounts are wrong.  It's just that they only typically illustrate the tree, fruit, serpent, Adam, and Eve.  The context is completely left out.  What were the surroundings like?  What was the garden really like?

Let's take what we do know and work from there.  God gave us free will.  The Bible is chock full of commandments to choose right from wrong, good from bad, and righteousness from evil.  It never mentions the phrase "free will" but the ability to choose and the responsibility and consequences of those choices is made very clear throughout scripture.

Some argue that God set us up to sin ever since the Garden of Eden.  They'll take this argument to the extreme and say that an all powerful, all loving, benevolent god (APALB god, herein) would not have placed the tree in the Garden nor would he allow "bad things" to happen to people throughout history.

The argument is a logically good one, I admit.  However, the problem with this argument is that it assumes one of two things:  that a free creature can be created to always choose the will of this APALB god OR that a free creature can be created and have all their "poor" choices thwarted by this APALB god.

The obvious problem here boils down to the assumed contradiction.  There is no such thing as freedom without choice.  It's a square circle.  It's a logical impossibility.  One cannot be free to choose if there are no options in which to choose.  One cannot be free to make a choice just to have that choice changed by an external force at the last moment.  The problem of the argument is not in the logic, but rather in the assumption that the logic is built upon.

I've heard debates go on and on about this and I have heard atheists never "hear" the answer.  They accuse of avoiding the question, but it's not an avoidance.  They simply don't want to understand the transfer of responsibility.  They want to illustrate with the question that God is responsible for sin since he created Adam & Eve and the scenario in which they found themselves.  Their logic points to this blame and is only secured by their understanding of God being an APALB god.  And, they're not the first to blame God in this manner, rather Adam was the first to use this logic when he blamed God for creating Eve.  But, notice that God didn't say "Well, would you look that?  Adam, you're logically right.  It is my fault.  I see that now.  Thanks for being so astute."

While God is all powerful, all loving, and benevolent, He is not self-contradictory.  He created a creature with free will and thus must allow said creature to make its own decisions despite the consequences.  Does this make God the object of blame when the creature willfully chooses against the will of its creator?  No.  The responsibility falls on the agent of free will that chose to do that which was explicitly forbidden by its creator.

We understand this very well outside the realms of theology.  Employers are not punished for the actions of their employees.  Lawmakers are not held accountable for the ones who break the laws.  Yet, many people battle internally with the theology of original sin and the problem of evil.

Coming back around full circle, I don't believe that the Garden of Eden was a little forest with a huge beautiful tree in its center enticing the inhabitants of the Garden with it's appealing fruit.  I believe that the Garden of Eden was very large and was full of wonderful and life sustaining fruit of all kinds.  I believe that the forbidden tree was probably sickly looking and small.  It might have only stood out in the sense that it was probably the only tree that didn't look good.  Though, let's not forget that God, Himself, must have pointed it out on the Garden of Eden tour.

But, why did God put it there, you ask?  He put it there out of love.  If God had never provided Adam and Eve the ability to sin, He would not have made them free.  They would have been no more than flesh wearing robots.  They wouldn't have loved God intimately and they would have never known God's intimate love.  The tree was inherently necessary.  And, today, though having been born with a sinful nature, we can all know God's love intimately, too.  But, not until we choose to be reunited with Him, redeemed by Him, and reconciled to Him.  Just like the taking of fruit from a tree, the choice is simple and made available to us all.

Writing Down

It seems that there is a trend happening here with my blog writing.  Am I tired of it?  Is it not fun for me anymore?  Did I just not have anything worthy to write about?

The answer to all of these questions is no.  I guess, I just haven't been spending that much time on a computer save for the time spent working.  And, I've neglected something that I've really enjoyed doing to make more time for other things that I really enjoy doing.

So, it's May of 2013 and this is my second blog for the year.  While a third of the year has passed us by already, I've set a lofty goal for myself of writing more blogs in 2013 than I have in any other year to date.  More specifically, that means that I have to write 84 more blogs in 245 days to beat my bloggin' year of 2008 with a total of 85 blogs.  I think that should be pretty doable, after all, that's only one blog every 3 days.  But, it's not as easy as you may think.  Don't believe me?  Try it yourself.

Hypocrisy on Both Sides of the Fence

I saw a re-post shared on Facebook yesterday that brought to mind an ironic hypocrisy among many politically left-leaning individuals.  I thought that I'd take a moment to point that out.

Many liberals decry the existence of the U.S. Naval Base Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO).  And they do so rightfully.  It should be a universal outrage, no doubt.  How can a freedom-touting country allow it's government to create a prison in which people can be held indefinitely without trial?  It was placed in Cuba, so that the laws and protections of the U.S. somehow wouldn't apply.  And, we're supposed to be ok with that?  It's almost universally understood that the treatment of the prisoners there is inhumane.  Torture of various types has been inflicted.  We know this.  Many have died.  And keep in mind that these are prisoners who have never been given the due process of law, never to have their cases heard by a jury of their peers, never to have an impartial judge hear the arguments, and thus never been convicted.  They've only been accused.  Yet, despite this, they have been imprisoned, beaten, tortured, degraded, and many have been killed.  And, again I ask, we're supposed to be ok with that?

Sadly, on the original Facebook post, I saw many comments primarily in support of the prison.  It was mostly obviously uninformed people assuming the guilt of those imprisoned there.  Really?  How ironic it is that this support heavily hails from those who claim to love the USA and would cheerily accept 'patriotic' as an appropriate adjective for themselves.  These people who love freedom and the protection of rights for all people, yet are simultaneously in support of a government who would strip that freedom and those rights away simply on the basis of accusation alone?  It's not ironic.  It's contradictory.

Worse yet, many of these prisoners have been "released" many times over from the various oversight committees involved citing that the prisoners in subject weren't believed to have ever been involved in the crimes of which they have been accused.  Yet, they've not been let go.  They remain incarcerated.  To date, 166 prisoners are locked up there, 86 of which have been cleared for release.

I would venture to say that the real enemies to the U.S. are the corrupt government officials displaying Anti-American values who allowed this to be created in the first place and the ones currently in office who aren't actively and legitimately seeking to bring an end to it.

That being all said, it occurred to me while reading the Facebook post that the politically right-leaning self-proclaimed patriots in support of this heinous practice aren't alone in their hypocrisy.  The vast majority of the politically left-leaning crowd on this subject is also displaying a gross inconsistency.  While the more liberal crowd is almost unanimously opposed to GTMO's Detention Center, simultaneously they almost unanimously support the legal allowance of abortion.

The parallels between these two injustices are astounding.  Let's look at some from off the top of my head.

  • Both are denying the rights to live as free individuals.
  • Both are having a sentence carried out while being denied a trial.
  • Both involve human beings being treated inhumane.
  • Both have the majority of their advocacy by individuals who either don't know what is actually happening in the process or don't want to know.
  • Both are advocated by those who support freedom of everyone BUT the individual who is receiving the sentence.
  • Both are advocated by people the majority of which wouldn't be emotionally capable of carrying out the sentence if asked.
  • Both sentences would be an illegal act in the U.S. if the location of the one receiving the sentence was on U.S. soil.

I could go on if given enough time, but I bet you get the point.  One cannot be against one and not the other.  It's not logically consistent.

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