Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fiction Is Stranger Than Truth

There they go again!

Man must leave earth to survive. I agree. Man (me) will leave earth to survive. And it won't be with the Hale-Bop Comet.

Did they find the samples for this experiment from the aisles at Costco Warehouse? "The samples we found strongly support the single impact hypothesis," said Ken MacLeod.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Seeds of Delusion

I recently browsed the NY Times bestsellers at a local Barnes & Noble and noticed The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a scientist at Oxford University and a self-proclaimed atheist. Truly, since Dawkins had made the popularity list, I was optimistic that he would have some of the best arguments for the atheists, something perhaps challenging to me. I sat down at one of the little cafe tables with a hot beverage and then just wagged my head. He had nothing; worse than nothing. The book came across as a bitter hatchet job on a subject very scary to attack: God. He whined and complained and ridiculed and proved nothing. He states that he proves that God doesn't exist. No matter how extravagantly he rolls out the red carpet for himself with loud blasts of trumpet, he only rides his fast-moving treadmill to nowhere. He argues against the thinnest straw men and exultingly trounces them as if that really did something to buoy his position, posing and trash-talking as if he really accomplished something. He didn't argue against the best evidence for God and the Bible. I can understand why not. He would lose. He quoted other people who deny God and said, "See! They agree with me." He serves to provide a volume for the already deluded to lean upon and squeal like school girls, giving high fives to one another.

It's sad, the whole thing. I know why he's an atheist. 2 Peter 3 explains it very well in v. 3:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

His position does not come from proof, but his proof comes from his position. His position is one of walking after his own lusts. He has his desires (as do we all) and those desires do not fit in with the Bible, so he rejects God and the Bible to make room for them. As a result, He denies God, so that he can pursue those desires without guilt or remorse.

2 Peter 3 explains the scoffer, the foolish atheist, who, instead of believing in God, explains God away with uniformitarianism. 2 Peter 3:4 reveals the way they think or what they say. They will say something like:

For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
He would deny the creation part, but he would say something close:

From eons into the past, since man evolved, natural processes have continued in this closed environment without any supernatural intervention.
None of that is true. None of it can be proven. None of the evidence points to his view of the world.

Let me get to my point from all this---seeds of this delusion. What allows for these puny atheists to beat their chests like intellectual Tarzans?
1) Theological or Biblical Compromise of Professing Christians---Dawkins writes:

The legend of the animals going into the ark two by two is charming, but the moral of the story of Noah is appalling. God took a dim view of humans, so he (with the exception of one family) drowned the lot of them including children and also, for good measure, the rest of the (presumably blameless) animals as well. Of course, irritated theologians will protest that we don't take the book of Genesis literally any more. But that is my whole point! We pick and choose which bits of Scripture to believe, which bits to write off as symbols or allegories. Such picking and choosing is a matter of personal decision, just as much, or as little, as the atheist's decision to follow this moral precept or that was [also] a personal decision, without an absolute
About the inconsistency, the picking and choosing, the compromise, ridicule and mockery. Since the standard for truth is perfection, then no Christian should support any amount of compromise in theology or practice. That doesn't mean that they will live sinlessly perfect, but that they will only support a position of perfection that is consistent with the God of the Bible.

2. Those Who Hold a Less Than Perfect Bible---Bart Ehrman of University of North Carolina, whom Dawkins uses favorably in his book, pushed the eject button when he could no longer believe that he was using an inerrant Bible. Now Ehrman is producing almost full time materials to cause people to at least question the Bible if not deny it outright like he himself. The slippery slope started for Ehrman when he went to Moody to find variants in the manuscripts of Scripture, to Wheaton to find "errors" in the copies of the Bible, and finally to Princeton to discover that the Bible was never inspired in the first place, just a collection of stories. Now we get this statistic from Barna: "In 2006 48% of all adults agreed strongly that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings compared with 42% in 2002 and 35% in 1991." Those are just the "teachings." Just think if the question was about the actual Words of Scripture. People figure that if they can't trust the Bible, then why try to practice it? If God is real, then why couldn't He keep His Word pure? And if He can't keep that pure, then how could I trust Him to keep me that way either?

Yes, these are the seeds of delusion.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Question Authority

I was talking to a man who has children in our church school. Before his children were enrolled in a school in close proximity to us in our town here. That school had a huge poster in the lobby of their gymnasium with the giant words "Question Authority." He confronted the administration about that banner. He believed that the message would harm his relationship with his own children, that instead of immediately obeying, they would question his authority. This was not a lesson he wanted them to learn, so he questioned school authority about it. He found out that the "question authority" theme was not universal. Ironically, it did not apply to questioning them about putting up such a message in the lobby of their school.

Does the Bible teach "question authority?" Certainly the Bible teaches to ask questions. 1 Corinthians 14 says that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. Acts 17 informs that the Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if the things they were taught were legitimate. 1 John 4 tells us to test the spirits to see if they are of God. 1 Thessalonians 5 mandates that we prove all things. However, the Bible doesn't teach the messge of "question authority. Romans 13 says that all authority comes from God and that our responsibility to authority is to submit to it.

"Question authority" is a popular theme in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. Even some Christian parents would applaud such a message decorating the lobby of a Christian school. They perhaps come from the hippie generation of the 1960s where protesting was an important school activity. With this philosophy so popular, the administration might think this could make their school more popular too. They might attract the crowd who wants a less rebellious school than the public school. Question authority is OK, but harm authority isn't. They want a school where the teachers are only safe from physical rebellion but not verbal rebellion.

If I had my kids in a school where they would need to "question authority," I would look for another school. I don't want my children in a school where I am concerned about the content taught in the classroom. That is why they don't attend the public school. These young people don't have the discernment yet to sift through the teaching for truthfulness. I want to know they will be taught the truth, and if something isn't the truth, I will be the one to correct it. I don't want my children thinking that it is permissible to question authority. I want them to respect their teachers and their parents, because this is the will of God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Medium and the Message Pt. 3

How do people acquire the information that affects their choices? Who is most manipulated by the political ad or the thirty-second sound byte? A few years back the people of the state of California voted against educational vouchers. When the campaign for this voucher system first started the polls showed huge support, a large majority. That's not how it ended. Somehow Tom Sawyer got Huck Finn to whitewash his fence. The teacher's union outspent the pro-voucher side by millions and changed people's minds. Television holds the minds of Americans like the swinging watch of the hypnotist. By the time, the marketing gurus finished molding the putty-like brains of California voters, they sidestepped vouchers like landmines in the Korean DMZ. At last, the message didn't matter; the medium did. The citizens were "persuaded" by doing "research," i.e. watching TV commercials.

We have created this monster. Politicians count on a dumbed-down electorate who won't read. As stupid as they are, they won't know the difference when a politician makes one of his moronic arguments. Here's my favorite as an example: bigger tax cut for the rich. That will always work with the large imbecile segment of the population. What is ironic is that the rich can afford more television advertisements to combat these deceitful commercials. Unfortunately then, the more they see, the stupider they get. The crowd most happy with all this is the marketing establishment. They love election season. And don't count on the public schools to change anything, they are the same characters who talked parents out of vouchers. If they can do that to parents, you've got to know what they are doing to the kids. We've already been mentally disenfranchised. You've heard "We the people;" now think "We the dupes."

The medium has become our culture. Every message is framed by this new environment in which we live. It's sights and sounds bombard our senses. It is akin to Lot in Sodom where both seeing and hearing, he vexed his righteous soul. Our souls become desensitized by the muzak on elevators, the screens at the grocery store check-out, theme songs for every event, and the slick, brightly colored ads stacked in our mailbox when we get home. Most young people find it impossible to pull themselves out of this context to carefully consider the exegesis of Scripture. They are plugged into the culture and its philosophy and thinking, unknowingly becoming part of its artificial world and speeding on its conveyor belt toward one shocking moment in time. The day they die.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Medium and the Message Pt. 2

If I say the name "Jesus," that name possesses only one meaning. I am quite sure that most of you would agree that many different definitions are attached to that name, and all because of the context in which the name is used. Why is that? For an answer, first consider the meaning of "word": "a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning." Words are nothing more than a series of speech sounds. These speech sounds symbolize a meaning. Again, I think you would agree that the meaning of words change depending on how they are used.

Let me give another example: Bill Clinton. What does that name mean to you? To some that is a hero. To others it is a villain. Some think liberal. Others think conservative. People will tell you it is a pervert. Another group of people see it as a knight in shining armor. Bill Clinton is interpreted based upon the context or setting in which it is placed.

We get reports back from Iraq. We hear about a car bombing. Could the meaning of a car bombing change if it were regularly read by Ronald McDonald in his clown suit and make-up? Could that affect how serious we view car-bombings? At a funeral what if the man with the trumpet, instead of playing Taps, plays Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy? Does anything change? Instead of military honor guard, what about the characters from Wizard of Oz?

The word experts know that the meanings of words are affected by the way they are used. Most words already have denotation, "a direct specific meaning as distinct from an implied or associated idea," and connotation, "the suggesting of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes." A particular medium by which a word is communicated will first change the connotation of a word and finally its denotation. The meaning of words do change.

The name Jesus should mean "holy," but it could mean "fun" if it is associated long enough with "fun" instead of "holy." Our culture has finally persuaded people that "Jesus" has more to do with comfort and convenience than any kind of sacrifice, and much of that has to do with the media by which His name has been channeled. A particular medium can misrepresent the meaning of a word until it actually will change its definition. Our understanding of God and His will is dependent on maintaining the meaning of words as God intended them. We can change true doctrine to false doctrine.

Words themselves carry feelings, some of which should never lose their own distinct mood. Memorial. Party. Tombstone. Righteous. Gettysburg. Hiroshima. Iwo Jima. Abortion. Suicide. How about the tour of Gettysburg to Elvis? Elvis is tame now, so I'm sure it would fit. Right? And if not him, then how about rag time? Or with all that extra space and green grass at Gettysburg, why not a bowling alley or putt-putt course? What's your problem? Shuffle-board then? Could we have done the Vietnam memorial in hot pink? Does even mentioning that make you angry? What would be the difference between that and Crucifixion by Salvador Dali?

Music is a language of its own with a sequence of notes with varied pitch and rhythm. Every human being is made in the image of God with certain root similarities in design, chemistry, feelings, and function. A person hits his thumb with a hammer and he what? He screams. Studies have shown that combinations of sounds cause certain emotions or feelings. Certain pitches are pleasant only to certain dogs. God programmed every human being the same to a large degree. Sure, everyone can become desensitized to the effects of particular notes to a certain extent, and that isn't even good normally, but the music sends different messages not entirely dependent on context.

Associations of music do also make a difference. I've heard it said that you can't listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger. As a medium, music itself has a message which is incongruent with the content of a certain series of words, either naturally or based on its affiliation. Over time, music with a particular message, when accompanying terms and phrases with a denotatively contrasting or conflicting meaning, will change the understanding of those terms and phrases. In other words, the medium alters the meaning of the words. And as this applies to worship, the inappropriate music might blaspheme God rather than please Him.

The Medium and the Message

God has given His message to us in written words. We comprehend written words through linear thought. Since before the printing press, societies have primarily used and then thoroughly developed linear thinking skills. With the medium of written word, people are conditioned to think in sequences, as one letter and one word follows another on the printed page. Changes in the medium of the message to pictures or music by means of television, movies, computer programs, powerpoint, slides, etc. affects the attention spans, perceptions, and world view of the audience by requiring a switch from linear thinking to mosaic thinking, thus altering thought patterns. Since the Bible is comprehended through linear thought, the change in thinking affects the understanding of God's Word.

Many changes have occurred in thinking due to technological advances in the world. People receive information in many different ways, but less and less through the printed word. Primarily for this reason, but in addition to a few others (less parental discipline, etc.), new learning disorders have arisen never seen before. Certain subjects must be learned by linear thought, but a child raised while watching television every day will have become accustomed to acquiring knowledge in a different manner. Many of these children are struggling with learning some of the basic school subjects. Oftentimes, they are labeled with some disorder that relates less to an organic problem as it does one received by means of the media by which they have received their information.

This problem becomes even more serious for someone spiritually. People who grow up saturated by different media than the printed word often become indifferent to the Bible. The Bible isn't discerned solely intellectually; however, it does require a certain cognitive skill to apprehend its truths. When someone cannot comprehend sufficiently linear thought to process the Gospel truths, he has greatly harmed his opportunity to receive Christ. Even the one who has enough linear ability to understand the tenets of conversion and is born again might struggle in sanctification because of his addiction to another type of thinking.

I believe this is part of Satan's conspiracy toward total apostacy in the age in which we live. It fulfills the Pauline warning of men increasingly becoming lovers of their own selves and of pleasures as we get closer to the end. Picture thinking is easier for men. We might call it eye candy, something that distracts and conveniently holds attention, the media equivalent of ice cream or milk chocolate. The communication itself falls under the categories of lust of the flesh and lust of eyes. Desiring what is comfortable, requiring less sacrifice, is characteristic of a love for self and pleasure. Men would rather engage with forms of media that are relatively effortless to watch and amusing to hear, therefore they are extremely seductive. People not only cannot reach the necessary intellectual depth to understand the Bible, but they do not even care to read it in the first place.

I want to elaborate on this subject in my next few posts. Should I say, "Stay tuned"?

Monday, November 06, 2006

This Is the Time On Which My Endless Life Dependeth

The title above? A line from Richard Baxter's [1] Essay "Directions Against Covetousness, Or Love of Riches, and Against Worldly Cares." And the directions he gives are, of course, Scriptural, and above that, as they would, make total sense. Here is the context of the quote:
Believe unfeignedly that thou must dwell for ever in heaven or hell, as thou makest preparation here, and consider of this as becometh a man, and then be a worldling and covetous if thou canst: riches will seem dust and chaff to thee, if thou believe and consider thy everlasting state. Write upon the doors of thy shop and chamber, I must be in heaven or hell for ever; or, This is the time on which my endless life dependeth; and methinks every time thou readest it, thou shouldest feel thy covetousness stabbed at the heart.
It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

We are less likely to be concerned about wealth when we consider how little time we spend on earth. How quickly is a person stripped of wealth when he dies? Can anyone keep any of it? Is it possible to make a deal with death so that it would not actually separate our souls from our bodies? For a long time, I would say all of us have known how little time we have on this earth, that the earth is nothing more than a motel or trip, and that the coffin that our deteriorating flesh inhabits is all that we will keep out of our large possessions. If this is the case, should we not save what we can for heaven by laying it out in obedience to God? Life is short and quickly gone, almost done when it has first begun. Should we make such ado about so short a life to make careful provision for so short a stay?

In addition to short, time is also so uncertain. We don't really know what will be tomorrow. We can die and quickly die. Should we not soberly read the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master:
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:19-21
We may be rich today and be in another world tomorrow. If so, would not have poverty been just as good? Especially when worldly goods distract our souls from things that are eternal. If we were sure we would die tomorrow (or even next month or next year), would we not be more indifferent whether we were poor or rich and look more on the greater things, the eternal things?

We should take the mind of the Apostle Paul:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
Our eye of faith should be so fixed on the invisible, eternal things, that we are hard-pressed to give any serious regard to the things that are visible and temporal. Baxter writes:
A man that is going to execution scarce looks at all the bustle or business that is done in streets and shops as he passeth by; because these little concern him in his departing case. And how little do the wealth and honours of the world concern a soul that is going into another world, and knows not but it may be this night!
No one is taking anything with them except for three: Our own soul, the souls of others, and the things by faith we have done for Christ.

Let's think about it before it's too late.

[1] 1615-1691. Biography.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And Yet, We Are Friends

How Does This Sound to You?

Jesus said that they are an adulterous and wicked generation that seek after signs, and he seeks after signs, and yet, we are friends.

He that offers fleshly and worldly music to God is blaspheming God, and he does that, and yet, we are friends.

God said that He would preserve every one of His Words, and that a curse is on anyone who adds or takes away from His Words, and he does not believe God preserves every Word and he both adds and takes away from those Words, and yet, we are friends.

God said that a woman that wears a man's garment is an abomination to God, and she does that, and yet, we are friends.

God said that a friend of the world is an enemy of His and that if someone loves the world and the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in him, and he loves worldly things, and yet, we are friends.

The Lord says that anyone who preaches a false gospel should be accursed, and he does that when he either rejects or changes the doctrine of repentance, and yet, we are friends.

Jesus said He fulfilled all righteousness by subjecting himself to the baptism by immersion of John the Baptist, and he sprinkles, not immerses, and says that sprinkling infants is also an option, and yet, we are friends.

Jesus said that grace comes by faith alone and that we take the element of the Lord's Table in remembrance of Him, and he believes and proclaims that the bread and cup are a means of grace, and yet, we are friends.

The Lord says that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, so that we are to mark and avoid those who teach and apply a different doctrine and practice, and he won't separate from those who continue with wrong doctrine and practice, and yet, we are friends.

Don't get me wrong, he is either passively or actively rebellious against plain teaching of Scripture, and yet, we are friends.

None of this is personal. We are just having an honest discussion. We have really grown as human beings by airing our differences and we are better friends because of it.

We believe the very same on unity. We believe that what is most important is that despite our differences, which are many, we still get along fabulously.

Oh, one more---A man who drives his car up and over the curb to kill a child playing in his front lawn is a despicable human being, and he does that, and yet, we are friends.

Again, don't get me wrong; none of this intended personally, all simply to provoke discussion and promote some thinking out there. I think we can talk about all of these things and still be friends.

Can't we all be friends?

Thank you friend.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Costco parking. I turn into the Costco parking to attend the big box warehouse store. The entrance is 2/3 back in the lot and to the right are zero spots to park. None. To the left, the furthest 1/3, is a desert. To the right, the aisles are jammed with cars waiting for someone to finish loading. What's going on?
1. Getting closer is a matter of principle, because it doesn't make sense.
2. Getting closer is a Costco status symbol.
3. The closest spots are akin to winning the Costco lottery.
4. What is it that the heart and health experts tell us about parking remote and walking? They need to rework that advertising campaign. Any volunteers?
5. Parking left is for those with low park esteem.
6. Those on the left need an oxygen mask; they are on a different planet.
7. Fire your personal trainer and park on the left.
8. People who decide to take the binocular lot (you need binoculars to see Costco from there) walk on average faster. I watched a lady with tall boots and loud staccato-like heels pounding the blacktop attempting to make-up for lost time. She didn't want to be seen close to the socially unacceptable far lot. Trust me; it's embarrassing. She was proving that she could get to the front entrance in the same time as she would if she parked in the close lot. She's beating the system and she wants everyone to know it.
9. Don't you want to walk a distance to rid yourself of calories gained by eating 17 Costco samples inside?
10. Once someone is in Costco, are they as efficient in their shopping cart travel route as they are in finding a close parking spot? I don't think so. Will they really notice the extra 40 yards of walking after legging 2 miles down the concrete Costco aisles?
11. With gas prices so high, sitting there idle, engine running, waiting for someone to wedge in their industrial sized toilet paper pack is doing several things:
a. Contributing to fuel shortage.
b. Polluting. Cough. Cough.
c. Two words: ozone layer.
d. Blocking three other cars at idle---multiply a., b., and c. by three times and move back five spaces.
e. Three more words: Parking Lot Rage.
12. This is scientific. People who shop at Costco eat more. They need the exercise.