Wednesday, November 28, 2007

God's Provision, 11/28/07 Edition

Yesterday an undesirable thing happened: Our comcast.net internet service went away. Since we also have Vonage phone service, this meant our phone service dropped also. I was not very happy about this, of course, for two reasons:

  1. I use the internet to do online tutoring. Therefore, I missed all my scheduled time yesterday.
  2. I use the internet to schedule substitute teaching assignments. Since I did not have an assignment for today (11/28), I could not schedule one in advance for today, either.
So here I am, thinking that I would be out of work (and missing the corresponding income) for a full day, barring a phone call at the last minute. On top of this, I passed on a half-day teaching assignment for today, also; and I was regretting that.

So I prayed about it before getting a good night's sleep.

This morning the phone rang at about 5:56 a.m. I still don't know who called...but it meant the phone was working, and likewise, the internet probably was, too. So I jumped out of bed (I rarely jump out of bed anymore—it's more of a glacier-like motion) to turn on the computer. The internet is working! There are sub assignments—two good ones to choose from! The one I passed on was an elementary P.E. assignment which had a student teacher (I know this because I am subbing for her next week); and the other one was Honors Math classes at the one school that allows me internet access in the classroom...where I am right now!

The Lesson: God can take a lousy-looking situation and turn it around favorably. And for this, I thank Him.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Tragic Ignorance About God's Order

In this article from the London Daily Mail, we are told of two women who refuse to have babies—because babies are not "eco friendly," and increase the carbon footprint of the human race on our planet. The first woman, Toni, got pregnant by her boyfriend at age 25 and, after an abortion, subsequently had herself sterilized. She is now 35. The second woman, Sarah, felt the same way; but her husband got a vasectomy instead.

Both women (and their husbands) claim to enjoy children but are adamantly against having their own. They believe that procreation makes our planet a worse place to live [Toni is quoted as saying, "...a woman like me, who is not having children in order to save the planet, is considered barking mad."]. They also seem to believe the "usual environmentalist views."

Toni also struck me as seeming the more hypocritical of the two; in the article she is quoted more concerning her lifestyle (they "have a much nicer lifestyle" without children; they just came back from a long trip to South Africa—how much fossil fuel was spent doing that?). Sarah and her husband are portrayed as more serious about their "carbon footprints." But both of them are missing the main point that God would want them to focus on....

God wants husbands and wives to procreate. Except for that small percentage who are not biologically able to do so, it is selfish disobedience to the commands of Genesis 1:28 and 9:1 to not have children. Furthermore, an array of verses points to the conception of children as a blessing to the parents (e.g., Psalm 127:3-5).

Furthermore, God's view about our responsibility concerning the planet can be summed up in Genesis 1:28 and in the various passages about stewardship: We humans are to have dominion over the earth and all the living things therein; and we are to procreate. But we are also to use the earth's resources wisely, prudently, and without waste. We are to teach our children to do likewise.

Were it not for Jesus Christ, sin would overtake and conquer this earth long before pollution ever could. And let us not forget: Someday, He will make new heavens and a new earth!

Hymn of the Week: Now Thank We All Our God

This morning we sang this hymn in our church, and the songleader shared the story behind it. I also found the tune and the story here (it is copied below), and I encourage each person who reads this to meditate on thanking God even when thankfulness may not be your dominant emotional state.

Originally written in German by Martin Rinkart, it was translated to English by Catherine Winkworth.

Martin Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War. The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.
Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Which One Is The State Flag?

Above is the current (and long-established) flag of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where I spent most of my childhood. According to this foxnews.com article, a state representative has proposed adding the words "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," as pictured below, to the blue field.

As a native Pennsylvanian, I agree with the sentiments of one man quoted in the article who basically said that a "dumbing down" is going on here...people don't recognize the flag, so instead of encouraging them to become acquainted with it, we make it "easy" for them to know what it is. It is a good exercise to learn to look up things one does not know—whether in an encyclopedia, almanac, or (especially today) on the internet. I hope they keep the flag unchanged. I recognize it...and I haven't lived in PA in 12 years!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Poem/Chorus

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul;
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

—Seth and Bessie Sykes

Yet More Reasons to be Thankful

An eight-month journey has finally come to an end: Today, I received my Provisional Teaching Certificate from the State of Michigan. It took (in my opinion) a lot longer than it should have taken, but I now have it in hand and can say so on my resume, etc. The certificate is good for six years, during which I am expected to complete 18 semester hours in an approved teacher preparation program; then I get the "Professional Teaching Certificate."

On Monday, I took my Final Exam in the H&R Block Tax Preparation course. I'm not guaranteeing a 100% on it, but I am confident that I will pass the course with ease. I have been led to believe that I can be optimistic about being hired for the coming spring tax season.

In the meantime, God is good, and our needs are met.

Oh, yeah: I hit a deer Monday evening (on the way to that final exam). No damage to me, but the car will need some (expensive) help. That's why I have insurance. More on this saga in a later post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Substitute Teaching: Thanksgiving Break Update

After two consecutive days in elementary schools (Monday in Mattawan, as the computer teacher; Tuesday at Pullman [34 miles away—a logistical faux pas] as the art teacher/title I teacher) I can now claim a total of four days' experience in that line of work. Last week: Five straight days of middle school. And "math" has finally overtaken "science" as the subject most "subbed."

Through Thanksgiving Break, here is where I have been [future scheduled assignments in brackets] so far:

  • Mattawan (11; 4 in HS, 6 in MS, 1 in Elem.) [1]
  • Paw Paw (5; 4 in HS, 1 in Elem.) [1]
  • Decatur (4; 1 in HS, 2 in MS, 1 in Elem.) [2]
  • Gobles (4; 3 in HS, 1 in MS)
  • Bloomingdale (3; 2 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Lawrence (1, HS)
  • Howardsville Christian (2, HS)
I have not yet been to Lawton, the other school district in which I am qualified and enrolled to substitute.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yes, one more reason to be thankful...

Alpha Theta 1, Omega 0.

Just click here. (for a limited time only)

More Thoughts on Thanks: Psalm 100

This Thanksgiving week, I can think of many reasons to be thankful. Reading Psalm 100 brings a bunch of those reasons to my mind. It is a good exercise to read this psalm and list how many reasons it mentions that should cause us to be thankful.

1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hymn of the Week: Thanks to God

As we have Thanksgiving coming up this week, it seems appropriate to choose a hymn which reminds and encourages us to give "Thanks to God" for all of the many things He has done for us. So many other songs do this also (Count Your Blessings came to mind a couple days ago).

The words were written by the Swede August L. Storm and translated to English by Carl E. Backstrom in 1931.

Whether you are familiar with the words or not, read them slowly and meditate on them. Give thanks for all God has given you.

Thanks to God

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Grand Unified Theory—Great Progress?!?

The still-theoretical "Grand Unified Theory" (a.k.a. "the holy grail of physics") is a hoped-for development by physicists to unify all four of the fundamental forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces), thus extending Einstein's General Relativity Theory. Many are working on it, but no definitive theory has yet emerged...yet.

A "surfer dude" with a Ph.D. in physics, who divides his time between surfing in Maui and teaching snowboarding in Lake Tahoe (no, really—I'm not making this up; the story can be read here) and has no permanent university affiliation, has offered up a theory that may have some potential. Furthermore, it is significantly simpler than most of the theories proffered earlier (I assure you, most normal humans would go numb trying to figure some of them out).

The article concludes with these paragraphs:

For his part, Lisi self-mockingly calls his finding "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything," and downplays the suggestion that it may be the Grand Unified Theory.

"The theory is very young, and still in development," he tells the Daily Telegraph. "Right now, I'd assign a low (but not tiny) likelihood to this prediction."

He hopes the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, currently being built on the Swiss-French border will find some of his 20 imaginary gravity-related particles.

"This is an all-or-nothing kind of theory — it's either going to be exactly right, or spectacularly wrong," Lisi tells New Scientist. "I'm the first to admit this is a long shot. But it ain't over till the LHC sings."

ALPHA THETA wins Turkey Bowl!!

I have learned that ALPHA THETA PI, my society from BJU, has won the Bob Jones University Turkey Bowl, the annual intramural soccer championship!!! They defeated perennial nemesis Alpha Omega by a score of 1-0.

To the best of my knowledge, they have never won the championship before, losing in the finals on at least two occasions. Not only did they defeat nemesis Alpha Omega, they also defeated Basilean in the semifinals—the other perennial nemesis.

More details will be forthcoming when available. Go Razorbacks!!

Michigan Presidential Primary Update, 11/17/07

A Michigan Court of Appeals decision has allowed the lower court's ruling (which has the effect of canceling the 1/15/08 Michigan Presidential Primary) to stand. You can read about it here. Here is a key excerpt from that article:
"In a 2-1 ruling, Judges Patrick Meter and Donald Owens said the law clearly allows information from a publicly funded election to be used for private purposes. The law lets the Michigan Democratic and Republican parties keep track of voters' names and whether they took a Democratic or GOP primary ballot but gives no public access to that information."

This is the main "problem" with the legislation. It is expected that either (a) the decision will be appealed promptly to the State Supreme Court, or (b) the House of Representatives will follow the Senate's lead and pass the bill to "correct" this issue.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Michigan Presidential Primary Update

Earlier this week a Michigan judge threw out (as unconstitutional) the legislation that put our state's planned January 15 presidential primary into place. Not being a lawyer or a lawmaker, I am not fully acquainted with the details of the decision, but they center around the issues of who got access to the voter lists (after the election) and the fact that the law was written in a way that didn't allow only a part of it to be stricken down. The case is now in an emergency appeal.

This is significant on the national political scene and for Michigan in particular. The January 15 date makes Michigan's primary one of the very first in the nation, and this makes Michigan a "mover and shaker" in presidential politics, the biggest state to have voted up to that point. If the legislation is not put back in place, the law returns the Michigan primary date to late-February, where no one really wants it, because Michigan then becomes irrelevant.

Even more importantly to many people, the alternative to a January 15 primary election is not a later election—it will be a late-January convention (for the GOP) and a caucus (for that other party), which will select delegates based only on the input of a few thousand people. The majority of the state's residents will have no vote in the process, if this occurs.

This will be a very significant development to watch. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin': A Men's Must Read

Yes....it really exists. A competition that only a man could think of: To devise a machine which can send a pumpkin the furthest distance through the air. Held in rural Delaware, the annual World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin' (yes, that's spelled correctly) collects what must the world's oddest array of squash-hurling devices.

Click here to read the article. We have espn.com to thank for this.

FYI: The "world record" is held by a quarter-million-dollar machine called The Second Amendment, with a gun the size of a construction crane that uses compressed air to hurtle the pumpkin somewhere beyond oblivion. The record distance: 4,434 feet (roughly 0.84 miles; if a runner could clock a 4-minute mile, he would need 3:22 to run that far).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NUMB3RS: My View

The TV show NUMB3RS (yes, the "3" is intentionally in the title) has been on for a couple of years now, and features a professional mathematician/college professor assisting his FBI agent brother to solve crimes. The show has riveting plot lines and generally good acting, and has been a success in its Friday 10:00 p.m. time slot.

As a general rule, I like the show. Being a "math guy" myself, I can understand—probably better than most—the uses of mathematics in crime solving. The show is very interesting and engrossing. But there are two things I do not like about the show, one minor and one major.

First, the minor: Charles (the mathematician) seems to be able to numerically quantify psychological data with ease. This is directly at odds with reality. A scene might go like this: "Well, if you can give me data about the last four crimes, I will be able to construct a [insert name of fancy mathematical system or algorithm here] that will predict where he is likely to strike next." Predict, perhaps. Predict with something like 88% probability...with that level of specificity...and after constructing the system/algorithm in something like mere minutes? Not a chance. Psychological data is notoriously difficult to quantify in any widely-agreed-upon manner, making psychological research inherently difficult.

Second, the major: The show contains far too much sexual content. No major character in the show is married, and most of them, at one time or another, have been immoral with another character in the show. (Charles has had two women—perhaps this is some crass Hollywood way of trying to make mathematicians look cooler.) As is usual from the Hollywood sewer, these adulterous relationships are either irrelevant to the plot, or the tawdry focus of it. Regardless, they are completely unnecessary: The show could be a success even without them.

This phenomenon reminds me of the show Due South from the 90's, about a buttoned-up, straight-as-an-arrow Canadian mountie and his Chicago police friend who solve crimes together. (This show's main irritation was its obligatory "music video" segment—some two-minute segment of the show would have to be accompanied by raucous, loud, obnoxious, unneeded rock music. This is now fairly common, even during football pre-game shows.) The show began with some success for a season or two before a tryst entered the plot, between the mountie and an evil-seductress-bad-girl. The show went into a ratings tailspin soon thereafter, and died the following year.

My point: Making the lead character initially virtuous, and then later making him a sexually "cool" person, ought to contribute to the downfall of the program. My wish is that Numb3rs will clean up its act, but I won't hold a single breath waiting for that.

Hymn of the Week: Eternal Father, Strong to Save

In honor of Veterans' Day, and with thanks to those who serve and have served our country, I chose this hymn, often called the "Navy Hymn," both to honor our military veterans and because its message is timeless and true.

The verses below were written by Englishman William Whiting in 1860, as a poem for a student about to sail for America. Several other verses have been written to the same tune and can be read here. It is often sung in the British Royal Navy and was the favorite hymn of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who at one time served as Secretary of the Navy.

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walked on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoever we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Congratulations to the Atlantic Sun Conference (who?)

Congratulations are in order to the Atlantic Sun Conference [Note: I didn't even know what teams comprised this conference in men's college basketball until today], after teams from the conference recorded these victories this week, all on the road:

  • Gardner-Webb whips Kentucky, 84-68
  • Belmont takes out Cincinnati, 86-75
  • Mercer goes across the country and beats USC, 96-81
I am already concerned about my March Madness bracket.

Congratulations to President Bush (a.k.a. Bush 41)!

Congratulations are in order for former President George H.W. Bush, who, at age 83, successfully skydived again from an airplane, in order to celebrate the grand re-opening of his presidential museum. He has previously stated that he wants to jump again on his 85th birthday in 2009. His last jump was on his 80th birthday.

I have no intentions of following his lead. But I admire his spunk.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 5

The Emotions of Samuel, in 1 Samuel 15
"It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night." (vs. 11)
Samuel has just been informed that God is unhappy concerning the choice of Saul as king. Samuel already knew that God intended to replace Saul (see 1 Sam. 13:13-14). But if I were Samuel, I know what I'd be thinking in my flesh: "You know, I never thought this idea of a king was a good idea in the first place. If only the people had followed my advice...."

Yes, despite the facts that Samuel did not originally want a king, warned the people accurately about what a king would do, and knew that the king would be replaced, he still..."cried unto the Lord"! Would we be so saddened by the sin of others that we did as Samuel did?
"22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. 26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou."
And so Samuel confronts Saul. Despite Samuel's sorrow for Saul, he pulls no punches; he firmly and strongly pronounces God's judgment. He is clear, and he accurately conveys God's words, despite his own sorrows and despite the very real possibility of physical harm (reading on in 1 Samuel gives us several examples of what happened to those who made Saul mad).
"32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal."
A few observations should be noticed here. First of all, Samuel is an old man; he is not young and strong, like the David we encounter in the rest of the book. Second, he "hews Agag in pieces." Apparently a single sword thrust to the heart was not what God wanted to convey to everyone! Here an old man, conveying what God intended to happen, does something that Saul and his strong, younger army should have done earlier (No, there was no Geneva Convention back then). Would we be as willing to do something bold and just as "politically incorrect," if that were what God wanted us to do?
"And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." (vs. 35)
Samuel knew that Saul was a failure in God's eyes and thought Saul a "mistake" in his own, and yet he mourns for the one who has fallen from God's favor! Herein lies a lesson for us. We have probably all known Christians, whether leaders or laypeople, who have "fallen from God's favor" through sin. Do we mourn for them?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

John Edwards on Hillary Clinton—It's Great!

Click here to view a YouTube commercial, produced by the John Edwards campaign, that (rightfully!) slams Hillary Clinton for her double-talk on a variety of issues. It's great!

Even the background music is pleasant.

An Important Lesson in Data Analysis

The Foxnews.com headline shouted "Study Finds Abstinence-Only Programs Fail to Reduce Teen Sexual Behavior." I found this tempting, so I read the article.

The first three paragraphs read as follows:

"Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

"At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the study concluded.

The report, which was based on a review of research into teenager sexual behavior, was being released Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy."

This is not encouraging news...and I also didn't find it very believable. So I kept reading. In the seventh paragraph, the name of the leader of the study was given, one Douglas Kirby. Kirby is a "senior research scientist at ETR Associates." The seventh through ninth paragraphs summarizes Kirby's "findings," which are the usual politically correct, pro-sex-ed spoutings of those who think our public school students should be given lessons in how to mate.

And then we get to paragraph #10:

"The sponsors of the study praised Kirby for his "thorough research" and for being "fair and evenhanded," but they also acknowledged that ETR Associates developed and markets several of the sex education curricula reviewed in the report. Several of the previous studies that were reviewed also were written by Kirby." [Emphasis mine...because it sure wasn't found in the article]
Notice what we have here: In the tenth paragraph (of twelve) of the article, we are informed that Kirby is anything but an unbiased reporter of data! He works for a company that markets sex education curricula, and he cites a lot of his own "research"! This should be considered as nothing more than a shameless attempt at marketing his company's wares, but the media will pick this up as serious, evenhanded research and use it to try to mold public policy.

One more reason why we need discernment today!

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 4

"And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few." 1 Samuel 14:6
Saul, Jonathan, and the remnant of the people still with them faced dismal odds in an imminent battle. Scripture records that the small victory Jonathan and his armorbearer recorded was the catalyst for a huge military victory, and caused the Philistines to scamper back to their own cities.

Jonathan remembered an important fact at an important time: God doesn't need "us"—as in, large groups of people—to do His work; He only needs faithful servants. He may choose to "save by many" if that is His will. He may choose to use only one faithful servant to do great things for Him. Are we willing to be that lone faithful servant, if this is God's will?

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 3

"11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue:...." 1 Samuel 13:11-14a
The predicament was dire: A vast Philistine army was on the move, and Saul's men numbered in the mere hundreds. In verses 11-12, we see perhaps the clearest attempt (and among the most ridiculous) at rationalizing sin we shall ever find in the Bible. That only priests could offer burnt offerings was abundantly clear in the Law, and Saul knew it.

There is never a righteous rationalization for sinning. Wicked rationalization, yes—but sin is sin, no matter what reasons we provide to God for sinning. Furthermore, our rationalizations will never get in the way of God's judgments for sin; He will judge sin regardless of any words we may throw out as explanation. From Adam & Eve, and Cain...all the way to the present, God's judgment on sin is unrelated to our reasons for sinning.

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 2

"23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you." 1 Samuel 12:23-24
Here we see Samuel as an old man, having already (and with great reluctance) ceded his authority as judge to the new king, Saul. The beginning of the chapter shows the people validating his righteous leadership over many years, and earlier chapters demonstrate his obedience to God in anointing the king whom the people wanted...when they didn't want Samuel's wicked sons as leaders.

But his work was not done: He still had important duties to perform as prayer warrior and teacher. As a father, these duties will be mine for as long as I walk this earth...even though my children are still young. Certainly, too, there are others whom I should teach and for whom I should pray.

The work of teaching and prayer is, in part, to help the younger generations glorify and praise God. May we do that faithfully.

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 1

"Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." 1 Samuel 2:3
I read this verse yesterday, only minutes after a rebellious teenager at a local high school told me that she was not going to do the assignment her teacher left her to do. This girl, sad to say, was so proud that she felt it appropriate to be arrogant and disrespectful to authority. God will weigh her actions.

The speaker of these words is Hannah, who is praising God after the birth of her son, Samuel. In the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, Hannah certainly comes across as humble (though distressed at her early inability to bear children) and obedient.

It is possible to be proud and/or arrogant without showing blatant rebellion. Pride and arrogance are attitudes of the heart which each of us must search out and, with God's help, remove from our lives. Any of us is susceptible to them.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Barack Hussein Obama

Yes, that's his real, given name: Barack Hussein Obama. Click here or here for evidence.

Consider this your fact for the day. And a prediction: Once a majority of Americans is aware of this fact, his chances for winning the presidency will dive.

Hymn of the Week: Maybe Today

The chorus of this hymn was so familiar to me that I had completely forgotten that its origins are recent (1976). Written by Frank Garlock, it is a comforting reminder that one day—perhaps this day—Christ is coming back to take His own unto Himself.

Maybe Today

My Lord will come, it may be soon,
It could be morning, night, or noon;
Till then I'll watch and work and pray,
When He comes, I'll go home, there to stay.

Refrain:
Maybe today, my Lord will come for me,
Maybe today, my Savior I shall see;
Maybe today, from sin I shall be free,
Jesus will come, and I will go home, it may be today.

My Lord will come, I know not when,
But this is sure, He'll come again;
With eager eyes I look for Him,
In His presence new joy will begin.

Refrain

We'll sing His praise forevermore,
When we have entered heaven's door;
Redeemed from all our sin and strife,
There we'll know perfect love, endless life.

Refrain

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Substitute Teaching: Where I've Been, Updated

After yesterday's sub assignment and remembering that I have taught twice at Howardsville Christian, here is the properly updated list of substitute teaching assignments [future scheduled assignments in brackets], so far:

  • Mattawan (6; 3 in HS, 3 in MS) [1]
  • Paw Paw (3; 2 in HS, 1 in Elem.) [2]
  • Gobles (3; 2 in HS, 1 in MS) [1]
  • Decatur (2; 1 in HS, 1 in Elem.) [2]
  • Lawrence (1, HS)
  • Bloomingdale (1, HS) [1]
  • Howardsville Christian (2, HS)
I have not yet been to Lawton, the other school district in which I am qualified and enrolled to substitute.

Islamic Cleric on How to Beat Your Wife

This story from Foxnews.com summarizes a Saudi cleric's advice on when and how to beat one's wife. In also contains a link to a 4½-minute video clip (spoken in Arabic with English subtitles) of the cleric sharing this information with three young men on the stage.

While nearly everyone with an ounce or more of sense will be able to see folly in the advice of this cleric, one verse came quickly to mind: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph. 4:26).

Let this be another reminder that Islam is not a religion of peace and love.

Here is the text of the Foxnews.com article:

Saudi Marriage 'Expert' Advises Men in 'Right Way' to Beat Their Wives

Friday, November 02, 2007

Move over, Dr. Phil, there's a new relationship expert in town.

He's Saudi author and cleric, "Dr." Muhammad Al-'Arifi, who in a remarkable segment broadcast on Saudi and Kuwaiti television in September, counseled young Muslim men on how to treat their wives.

"Admonish them – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times," he advised. "If this doesn't help, refuse to share their beds."

And if that doesn't work?

"Beat them," one of his three young advisees responded.

"That's right," Al-'Arifi said.

He goes on to calmly explain to the young men that hitting their future wives in the face is a no-no.

"Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals," he explained. "Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face."

His final words of wisdom?

"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore," he tells the men to tell their wives. "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly.

"He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child -- slapping them right and left.

"Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."

Take that, Match.com!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Substitute Teaching: Where I've Been

Some of you who know me realize that I have been generating some of my income these days from substitute teaching in the public schools of Van Buren County, Michigan. Today is my 15th sub assignment; I am using a computer during the planning hour at Mattawan Middle School today.

Here is where I have been so far:

  • Mattawan (6; 3 in HS, 3 in MS)
  • Gobles (3; 2 in HS, 1 in MS)
  • Paw Paw (2; 1 in HS, 1 in Elem. My next three scheduled assignments are all at PPHS)
  • Decatur (2; 1 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Lawrence (1, HS)
  • Bloomingdale (1, HS)
I have not yet been to Lawton, the other school district in which I am qualified and enrolled to substitute.