Friday, February 22, 2013


Is it harder to stand up straight when you're tired and weary? 

I've been noticing people.  I can't tell if it's just my imagination, or if attitude really does show in a person's shoulder and posture.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Save the Soothsayers

For real? 

But that's what Daniel did.  (Yup, Daniel.  As in "Daniel in the lions' den."  That Daniel.)

The story is in Daniel 2.  Nebuchadnezzar had a dream.  He wanted the interpretation.  But he knew the sorcerers and magicians could lie and make up any old explanation for the dream.  So the king said, "You tell me the dream first.  Then tell me what it means."    Of course, they all flipped out.   So the king said, "Kill 'em all." 

Daniel heard.  He too would be executed.  He and his friends prayed.  God told Daniel the dream and what it meant.  So Daniel went to the executioner and said, "Wait!  Don't kill all those magicians.  I will tell the king what he wants to know." 

These dudes didn't deserve to be saved.  They were false prophets.  They were astrologers and fortune tellers.  These were the kind of people that God had told the Israelites to kill when they went into Canaan many centuries earlier.  But here's Daniel in Babylon, saving their hides, showing mercy to them.

There are people who think this country has gone to hell in a handbasket.  I've talked to Christian friends who think that both the nation and the church are in such a pitiful state that it would be better for the destruction to just come and be done with it already.  If the country's going to fall apart, they say, the sooner the better.  That way (they say) the healing can start sooner.  Who cares about salvaging anything (they say)?  Who cares about compromise?  We should stick to our guns and hold out for the ideal.  Wouldn't it be better to wipe out what's been marred and make a fresh start?

But godly Daniel showed mercy to those who didn't deserve it.  Godly Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar who was appointed by God to raze Jerusalem. 

What's that we pray?  That we would have peace in our land so that the word of God "may have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying" of His people?  Maybe the country is falling apart.  Maybe the country doesn't deserve to continue.  Maybe the country spites the Lord.  But does that mean Christians want to see it smashed?  No!  If Christians are to be Christlike, they will pray for mercy for those who don't deserve it, for those who don't appreciate it, for those who will even [sigh] abuse it.  And they will be thankful that the word of God continues to be preached, so that more people might be saved before any catastrophe arrives.

After all, those Magi that came to worship Jesus when He was a baby, those guys learned about the Lord from somewhere.  The Magi had not been wiped out in Daniel's day.  Daniel pleaded for them.  He went on to live a life of suffering in the midst of a country of unbelievers. And five centuries later, we see faith in some of those magicians from The East. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whose Side Is God On Anyway?

You know those old stories.  Elijah's ministry was finished.  Elisha was the prophet.  Israel wouldn't listen.  God was trying to get their attention.  The Syrian army had been attacking.  Then the little Israelite slave girl tells her master about the prophet who could heal him  of his leprosy (2 Kings 5).  So Naaman, the commander of the enemy, heads off to Israel and is eventually healed.

Seriously?  God helps the guy who's in charge of attacking His people?  Seems weird.  But, hey, God does weirdly-generous, merciful things.

But then look at the next chapter.  The Syrian king is hacked off at the "spy."  Turns out there is no spy, feeding insider information from the Syrian boss-guys to the Israelites.  It's just God telling Elisha what's coming.  And that's how the Israelite army avoids one attack after the next!*   Summing up, first God gave Naaman victory over Israel.  Then God gave Naaman healing from leprosy.  But then God thwarted Naaman (or his successor) and protected Israel's armies and villages.

I think God's plans in the temporal affairs of mankind just don't jive with what we think God should be up to.

* Footnote:  Amazing, ain't it, that the Israelite king can make use of what Elisha says when it comes to strategic positioning of his army (knowing that Elisha speaks the truth) and yet blow off whatever else Elisha says.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Squeamish about Using Credit Cards Online?

Gift cards.

Yup, that's the answer.

If you're nervous about the thought of putting your credit-card number out there in cyberspace, Visa gift cards can solve the problem. Our bank sells the cards for a $3 fee, and you can buy a card with any value up to $1000. Many banks sell these cards, and you can even buy them at grocery stores and department stores too. Some people use the gift cards as [gasp] gifts. Some use them as pre-paid "credit" if regular credit is unattainable. And some use them specifically for online purchases. If you want to shop at Amazon, say, you can buy a $200 card (for $203) and use the gift-card only for online shopping. Or maybe you know you want to buy a book that will cost $13 with its shipping, so you spend $16 for the $13 card. One way requires more money upfront that may sit around unused for a while; the other way eats up more in fees. But either way eliminates risk to your credit and identity.

Monday, February 18, 2013

God Is Weird

Are you frugal enough to take batteries out of a energy-hogging machine and test them, in case they still have enough oomph to run something simpler, oh, say, a remote control or a small alarm clock?  I am.  I don't want to waste the batteries.  I buy them to do a job for me.  I don't value the batteries for their own selves, but only for the work I get out of them.

It seems that much of American Christendom believes that God's love is like a battery.  He gives us His love only so that He can put us to work serving Him.  His love is what's supposed to ignite us.  So then we wonder: If we don't do our work effectively, will He withdraw His love and His grace so that it's not wasted?  After all, that's what I do with batteries. 

But maybe, just maybe, God isn't like me.

The parables in the Gospels keep showing us that God is weird.  He doesn't do things the way we'd expect; He doesn't interact with us the way that we interact with each other.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we read that "Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust."

The just for the unjust???

That's weird.  That's not fair.  It doesn't seem right.

It's just plain wasteful.  Who would rescue unjust people by giving the Just One?

It's like He cares about us because of the love that pours forth out of His heart, and not because of some warped idea of using His love to manipulate us into doing what He wants.  No, that would be more like us people to do. 

The just for the unjust!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Faking It in English

Because the word-verification system made it hard for my mom to comment on my blog, I removed it.  Whoa -- I started seeing spammy comments that seldom made it through when the captcha was operating.  So now my blog is set to require my approval of any comments before they appear online.

Yowza!  My mailbox is filling up with spam.  There are more ad-comments submitted than real comments.  Most of them try to flatter me into approving their comments.  And the English is atrocious.  It can be funny how bad it is.

Some examples:

~I like what I see so i am just adhering to you.


~Hello! Your article rocks as well as becoming a respectable amazing realize!??

Well, who'd want a "realize" which isn't respectable?

~It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.  I have read this put up and if I may I wish to recommend you few fascinating issues or advice. 

A put up?  
And I see he has only a few fascinating issues to recommend.

~Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site?  My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours. 

So this one has proper English.  But the link being advertised later in the comment had nothing whatsoever to do with anything I write about.  Do some people fall for this line?

~I thіnk thiѕ iѕ among the such a lot impoгtant info for me. 


~Preserve up the terrific works men I've incorporated you fellas to my private blogroll.

Huh? again.  

~I personally experienced a number of intricacies employing this website.   I became asking yourself when your website hosting is OK? 

I have no idea what it is to "experience intricacies."  And there's no telling what word "became" was confused for.  

The spam-for-smut annoys me.  But some of the rest of it can be a hoot.