Blog Archive


Tuesday, March 31, 2009
“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”

I found this to be one of the most challenging indictments of my tendency to be private about my faith.

Friday, March 27, 2009
The most perplexing theological question is not "why is there suffering?" but "in light of your sinfulness, why hasn't God wasted you since you woke up this morning?" - CJ Mahaney
"Your going to hurt yourself."
"You're car is a piece of junk."

Another common error in English that I see all the time (even though I'm certain the mistake makers know better), is swapping "your" for "you're" or vice versa. This shouldn't be that hard to remember. You're is merely short for you are, while your refers to possession. If you get confused, try substituting in you are and see if the sentence still makes sense.

"Their going to the movies tonight."
"They're job is secure."
"There quarterback threw a perfect pass."

On a related note, I also see "their", "they're", and "there" abused frequently. Their, like your, refers to possession. They're means they are. And there covers everything else (location, situation, state).
Thursday, March 26, 2009
If you want to read a hilarious blog, check out the new one written by Obama's teleprompter. It's ingenious!

Here's a great post:
I was having breakfast in the Commissary this morning, and I overheard some of the Advance team talking about last night's performance. They were impressed that Big Guy was able to say so many sentences without a "real" teleprompter. I had to run out of the room so that no one could see the tears running down my screens. Sorry ... it's been a tough week.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
You have to applaud the Catholic church for sticking to the truth while the mainstream Protestant church is abandoning it...
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
If you want to be broken anew as we approach the Easter week, spend some time contemplating what Jesus went through in Gethsemane. One great way to do so is by listening to this message by CJ Mahaney... beware, your eyes could become sprinklers.
The professors, academics, and all-around brains over at released an excellent open letter today to all supporters of Barack Obama who are also genuinelly pro-life (as opposed to those who just gave it lip service during the election cycle). For those who haven't been following this issue closely, Obama has marked the first two months of his presidency with one anti-life decision after another, the latest being the promotion of embryonic cloning for the SOLE purpose of destroying them to be harvested for their stem cells.
We share with you a commitment to the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family. It is for this reason that we oppose abortion, embryo-destructive research, euthanasia, and every other form of direct killing of innocent human beings. We believe that these practices are grave injustices that no society should promote, facilitate, or even permit.

Despite Barack Obama’s record of support for legal abortion and its public funding, and his pledge to lift President Bush’s limitations on the federal funding of embryo-destructive research, you felt that Obama would, all things considered, make a better president than John McCain, and you encouraged your fellow pro-life citizens to join you in voting for him. Some of you argued that Senator Obama, despite his vocal support for legal abortion and equally vocal opposition to pro-life legislative initiatives, was actually the superior candidate from the pro-life point of view. His economic and social policies, many of you said, would strike at the causes of abortion and reduce its incidence. You predicted that lives would be saved.

When it came to embryo-destructive research, many Obama supporters argued that there was no difference between their candidate’s position and the position of Senator McCain. Both, unfortunately, proposed to lift President Bush’s restrictions on federal funding of this lethal research. So that issue was a “wash.”
On March 9, however, the verdict came in on the issue of embryo-destructive research, and the news is very bad. It would have been bad enough had Obama done what McCain likely would have done, that is, incentivize embryo destruction by authorizing the federal funding of research that involves destroying so-called “spare” embryos left in assisted reproduction clinics. But Obama’s executive order goes farther. It instructs the Director of the National Institutes of Health to promote and fund all forms of embryonic stem cell research that are not banned by law. In other words, Obama has removed all impediments to the funding of research in which human beings are created (whether by cloning or other procedures) specifically for the purpose of being destroyed to produce stem cells. True, under the Dickey-Wicker amendment, the actual embryo killing must be done with private funds. But once the embryos are destroyed, federal taxpayer money will now freely flow to pay for research using cell lines derived from those embryos. President Obama has incentivized the creation of embryos in unlimited numbers for research in which they are killed. Moreover, he has revoked the 2007 executive order instructing the Director of the National Institutes of Health to promote and fund research aimed at developing non-embryo-destructive sources of pluripotent stem cells. This was a baldly ideological move that can have no point other than to appease the embryo-research lobby at the expense of lives and possibly scientific advancement.
Even if one supposes that Barack Obama’s policies will result in fewer abortions despite relaxed legal restrictions, the number of human lives saved-even on the most optimistic reading-will be offset by the lives taken as a result of what President Obama did. This misguided and profoundly unjust policy alone wipes out any case for regarding Barack Obama’s election as a boon to the cause of defending nascent human life. And if Senator Obama’s campaign promises to the abortion lobby are to be believed, this may be only the beginning.

We know how deeply disappointed truly pro-life Obama supporters must be by the radicalism of the President’s decision. Democrats for Life (DFL), to its credit, has forcefully condemned the decision, making no secret of feeling betrayed by a president that it had gone the extra mile to work with in an effort to find “common ground.” A few days after the decision was announced, prominent Obama supporter Dr. David Gushee, a distinguished Evangelical theologian, publicly rebuked the President for “a series of disappointingly typical Democratic abortion-related moves.” We hope that you, too, will speak out against what can only be described as a moral atrocity against the weakest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. On this, pro-lifers like you who supported Obama can find common ground with pro-lifers like us who found his denial of the full and equal dignity of unborn members of the human family to be disqualifying. Let us speak out with one voice against this grave and shocking injustice.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Robert George wrote an excellent eulogy of sorts of the late Richard John Neuhaus
And so Fr. Richard John Neuhaus did not go through life, as it once seemed he would, collecting honorary degrees from the most prestigious universities, giving warmly received speeches before major professional associations and at international congresses of the great and the good, being a celebrated guest at social and political gatherings on the Upper West Side, or appearing on the Sunday network news shows as spiritual guarantor of the moral validity of liberalism’s favored policies and practices.

His profound commitment to the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions placed him on a different path, one that led him out of the liberal fold and into intense opposition. As a kind of artifact of his youth, he remained to the end a registered member of the Democratic Party. But he stood defiantly against many of the doctrines and policies that came to define that Party in his lifetime. He was, in fact, their most forceful and effective critic—the scourge of the post-1960s liberals. He was not, as things turned out, their Niebuhr, but their nemesis.
Read it all here!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
UPDATE: This post spawned a reply post today on the Zeal For Truth blog, mostly from a Christian libertarian point of view. He doesn't address the Biblical support, only Prager's pragmatic argument for it.
In light of New Mexico's monstrous decision to outlaw capital punishment today, I thought it might be useful to give an in-depth reasoning FOR it (both from a Christian perspective and a secular one) and explain how one can be "pro-life" and in favor of judicial execution. Mostly, I will do so by using the arguments of others. But first, a couple of my own thoughts.

When it comes to politics, fads, cultural shifts, and social agendas, a Christian should usually (like a 99.9% of the time kind of usually) shy away from, transform, or outright reject anything that secular culture embraces. That is because the perishing world isn't just partly against God's way and His law, they are in COMPLETE rebellion toward it (Gen. 6:5). So, if they view a certain issue as important (like diets and physical appearance), it's pretty safe to say that they aren't aligned with God's priorities (not to imply diets are bad for Christians, but for entirely different reasons). Another example is environmentalism. The unregenerate world views this as a supremely important issue, even to the point that humanity is the problem. Now environmentalism isn't in itself wrong (it's Biblically proper to care for the earth), but it is wrong to the extreme which secular mankind takes it, actually serving the earth as their god (note the whole "Mother Earth" terminology, referring to the Greek god Gaia). If anyone thinks god/goddess worship is dead, just look at Earth Day.

Christians should likewise be hesitant about embracing the relatively new outrage over capital punishment - if for no other reason than the fact that the most secular, post-Christian countries are the strongest proponents against it. Unfortunately, I don't see this mindset in my generation of Christians. "Be in the world but not of it" was taken to an unhealthy extreme by two generations ago to the point of not being in the world, and now it is dangerously close to swinging to the other extreme where the current generation is both in it and of it. We need to listen to 1 Thess. 5:21-22. We are in danger of losing sight of a GODLY sense of justice in the church, and once justice is perverted, the loss of the Gospel is soon to follow. As the old maxim says, "What one generation knows and teaches, the second generation assumes, and the third generation loses."

With that in mind, let us test the idea of capital punishment (referred to as CP henceforth), comparing it first and foremost to the Word, but also to extra-biblical reasons. Let's begin with an excellent Scriptural defense of CP which you can read in entirety here.
The Biblical position is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that God is favor of capital punishment.
Old Testament

Genesis 9:5b-6

[God] spoke these words to Noah after the flood, in the context of the covenant He made with mankind (referred to as the Noahic Covenant) to never again destroy mankind by flood. It is noteworthy that this divine command preceded the Mosaic Law. While the Mosaic Covenant was a temporary covenant whose laws were superseded by the New Covenant, the Noahic Covenant appears to be eternal in nature, and thus concurrent with the New Covenant.

The reason for the command is theological in nature. Man is made in the image of God; therefore, a fatal attack against God's image-bearers is an attack against God Himself. It is for this reason God commanded that the individual who sheds another man's blood shall have his own blood shed as well.

When we come to the Mosaic Covenant we find an expansion of crimes for which capital punishment was applicable. The Law of Moses prescribed the penalty of death for 21 offenses, most of which were moral and religious in nature. While human government is no longer responsible for administering capital punishment for most moral and religious offences (as they were under Mosaic Law), they are still responsible for administering capital punishment in the case of the intentional murder of an innocent human being (Noahic Covenant).

Exodus 20:13

The Hebrew word translated "kill" is ratsach. The root is used 38 times in the Old Testament, each time referring to the murder of an innocent human being (whether it be intentional or accidental). A more accurate translation of this Hebrew word is "murder." Nearly all modern translations translate it as such.
We would do well to make a clear distinction between killing and murder as well. Killing can be just, but murder is always unjust. That's why it is factually incorrect to say capital punishment is the killing of those who kill others. Capital punishment is the killing of those who murder others. It would be equally wrong to say capital punishment is the murdering of those who murder others. Taking the life of an individual who unjustly took the life of another human being is not murder, but killing. To use "killing" or "murder" of both parties interchangeably is to confuse the just taking of life with the unjust.

New Testament

John 19:10-11

What is important to note about this passage is that Jesus did not challenge Pilate's gubernatorial right to sentence Him to death. He implicitly affirmed Pilate's right to administer capital punishment, and that the right came from God... Jesus challenged the source of Pilate's right, not the right itself.

There is no question that the state's execution of Jesus was unjust (because Jesus was innocent, and capital punishment is for the guilty), but that is no reflection on the just nature of capital punishment itself. While there may be unjust applications of a state's right to execute certain criminals for purposes of justice, it does not taint the just nature of capital punishment itself.

Turning our attention to Paul, he wrote the Romans saying:

[Romans 13:1-4]

According to Paul the purpose of human government is to reward good and punish evil, an example of the latter coming in the form of "the sword" (a reference to the Roman form of capital punishment). The reason for such is God's desire for retribution of moral wrongdoing. While vengeance is the Lord's, He has delegated some of the execution of that vengeance to human government in the form of justice generally, and in the form of capital punishment specifically.

While often ignored in this discussion, Acts 25:9-11 sheds some valuable light on this issue as well.

Paul maintained his innocence from those charges, but did not object to being put to death if he had done anything that was deserving of death. Paul did not object to the possibility of capital punishment by arguing that it was unjust punishment, or in contradiction to God's design. To the contrary, he acknowledged there were crimes deserving of death, and was willing to submit to that penalty had he actually committed those crimes.

For those who accept Scripture as the authority for faith, then, the Biblical teaching and rationale should be sufficient to arrive at a position on this controversial issue.
Responding to Objections

Objection: Capital punishment is contrary to the pro-life ethic of Christianity.
Response: This argument, known as the "seamless garment," misunderstands the nature of the pro-life ethic. "Pro-life" does not mean we are against killing in general; "pro-life" means we are opposed to the murder of innocent and defenseless human life. To argue that consistency of the pro-life ethic demands that one oppose capital punishment as well as abortion confuses guilt with innocence. The unborn are innocent; murderers are guilty. To kill the unborn is the unjust taking of life; to kill the murderer is the just taking of life. "The right to life is not an absolute; it can be forfeited. This moral right is only prima facie; it stands only until challenged by some greater law, like justice or protecting the lives of the innocent."

Objection: Jesus would forgive.
Response: This objection proves too much. It not only argues against meting out capital punishment, but all forms of punishment. So what do you do with evildoers; i.e. those who are a danger to society? Do you invite them into your neighborhood to murder you or your neighbors so they can receive forgiveness again and again and again?

While Jesus may forgive, Jesus does not demand that Caesar forgive as well. God may forgive the sins we have committed against Him, but this does not cancel out the consequences for sins we have committed against other men. There are temporal consequences for sins we commit in this world. Some of those consequences come from God, while others come from man. For example, even though God forgave David of his sins of murder and adultery, there was a temporal price to be paid: David's child died.
This writer goes on to give plenty of other good responses to common objections, but for space considerations (this is already a long post), you'll have to read them by going to the link above.

Dennis Prager has written and spoken on this issue many times, and one of his best pieces on the issue can be found here.
Over the years I have offered many arguments for capital punishment for murder:

1. It is a cosmic injustice to allow a murderer to keep his life.

2. Killing murderers is society's only way to teach how terrible murder is. The only real way a society can express its revulsion at any criminal behavior is through the punishment it metes out. If murderers all got 10 years in prison and thieves all got 20 years in prison, that would be society's way of saying that thievery is worse than murder. A society that kills murderers is saying that murder is more heinous a crime than a society that keeps all its murderers alive.

3. It can, if widely enacted, deter some murders. Though I regard this as a less important argument than the first two, there is no doubt that it is true. Everyone acknowledges that punishments can deter all other crimes -- why wouldn't capital punishment deter some murders? Is murder the only crime unaffected by punishment?
The most common objection opponents offer against capital punishment is that innocents may be executed.

My answer has always been that this is so rare (I do not know of a proved case of mistaken execution in America in the last 50 years) that society must be prepared to pay that terrible price. Why? Among other reasons, because more innocents will be killed by murderers who are not executed (in prison, or once released or if they escape) than will be killed by the state in erroneous executions.

So, yes, I acknowledge the possibility of an innocent being killed by the state because of a mistaken murder conviction. But we often have the tragedy of innocents dying because of a social policy. I support higher speed limits even when shown that they lead to more traffic fatalities. I support the right of people to drink alcohol even though the amount of violence directly emanating from alcohol consumption -- from drunk drivers to spousal and child abuse -- is so high.

And now I have an additional argument. Regarding murder, it is not only those of us who support capital punishment who support a policy that can lead to the killing of innocents. So do almost all those opposed to capital punishment. Nearly all opponents of capital punishment (and many supporters of capital punishment) believe that if the police obtained evidence illegally, the conviction of a murderer should be overturned.
The people who believe in this policy do so knowing that it will lead to the murder of innocent people..., just as I believe in capital punishment knowing that it might lead to the killing of an innocent person. So those who still wish to argue for keeping all murderers alive will need to argue something other than "an innocent may be killed." They already support a policy that ensures innocents will be killed.
Lastly, I'll include a short reference to the issue by Theodore Dalrymple in one of his essays.
Let me say at once that, on the question of the death penalty, I face both directions at once. Viscerally, I am in favour of it - in my professional life I met quite a number of murderers for whom it seemed to me that death was the only just and indeed humane punishment - but I do recognise a very powerful argument against the penalty, namely the tendency of all jurisdictions, which after all rely on merely human institutions, to make mistakes and execute the wrong person. You might argue that only those of whom we can be sure that they committed a brutal murder should be executed: but in our system of law, all convicted prisoners are supposed to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and in that sense all should be equally eligible for any penalty that the law prescribes for their particular offence. I am, moreover, a little squeamish about the increasingly clinical nature of executions, as if they were medical procedures. I remember reading an account of an execution by fatal injection, though I now cannot recall where the account was published, in which the injection was preceded by a swabbing of the skin of the person to be killed. This seemed to me both ridiculous and sinister, as if we were trying to pretend that an execution was actually a surgical operation. This (if the account of the execution was accurate) is a terrible slippage.

On the other hand, I cannot share any sense of outrage against the idea of capital punishment, such as is now widespread in Europe. From the assumption of European moral superiority vis-à-vis the United States with regard to capital punishment, you would have thought that capital punishment had been outlawed in all of Europe in about 458 BC. In fact, the country in which the outrage is strongest, or at least most vocal, France, was the last country in western Europe to abandon it, in 1981 - hardly an aeon ago.
Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the matter. For whatever reason, many Christians today are against the death penalty. I'd like to know how they square that with Scripture (if in fact they do, as opposed to just going along with the culture around them).
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Piper has a great exhortation this week (I've added the verses myself).

The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart,

  • grace gets bigger (Romans 5:15);
  • Christ gets greater (John 3:30);
  • his death gets more wonderful (Hebrews 12:2-3);
  • his resurrection gets more astonishing (Acts 2:24);
  • the work of the Spirit gets mightier (Romans 15:13);
  • the power of the gospel gets more pervasive (1 Corith.
  • its global extent gets wider (2 Corinth. 2:14);
  • your own sin gets uglier (Psalm 11:5);
  • the devil gets more evil (Ephesians 6:12);
  • the gospel's roots in eternity go deeper (Ephesians
  • its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger
    (Colossians 1:15-17);
  • and the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder (Rev. 5:6-14).
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Dinesh D'Souza has a great article on Peter Singer and the intellectual honesty that he represents in comparison to the "New Atheists."
Why haven't the atheists embraced Peter Singer? I suspect it is because they fear that his unpalatable views will discredit the cause of atheism. What they haven't considered, however, is whether Singer, virtually alone among their numbers, is uncompromisingly working out the implications of living in a truly secular society, one completely purged of Christian and transcendental foundations. In Singer, we may be witnessing someone both horrifying and yet somehow refreshing: an intellectually honest atheist.

I'm sure the mainstream media is doing all it can to avoid mentioning this story.
The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.
The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"
Even I, who saw the evil coming this way long before Obama won in November, am amazed and shocked at how inept, incompetent, and even heartless Obama has been in his first two months. I guess I shouldn't be, since ultimately the worldview makes the man, and Obama's worldview has laid many in their graves. But still...
Monday, March 16, 2009

Here is an interesting poll on Americans and the institutions in which they put their trust (or don't). Organized religion, science (especially in medicine), the press and television, and financial institutions have all taken huge hits to their image in the last 30 years. There is a decided lack of faith in today's populace, yet more people than ever believe that mankind (the originator of those institutions) is born morally good (or at least morally neutral). What an odd paradox.

One other thing to note: when a population loses faith in the usual things, they are more willing to put their faith in something else (and usually that faith isn't focused in a good direction). Ultimately, this points back to Chesterton's words: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything." I think perhaps the same holds true in general of all faith; humanity is a race designed for faith and trust. We want and need to place our faith in something. So if the usual suspects fail us (or we perceive that they have failed), then we don't stop trusting and failing (or rarely so); rather, we look elsewhere for an outlet for our faith. For example, on the individual, micro level, if I fail my wife and permanently lose her trust, she won't stop trusting (though she may do so less willingly), she'll just put her trust somewhere else (God, herself, another man, etc.). Likewise, at the macro level, if humans lose faith that God is in control or that the world is designed to support ALL life, then they place their trust in extreme environmentalism and the fight against global warming. Or, as we are beginning to see hints of, if people lose faith in sovereign government and free markets, they'll place that faith in one leader or one monetary system.

2 Timothy 2:13
The greatest three weeks of the sports world has finally arrived! In 21 days from today, many questions will have been answered. Will we have another thrilling and amazing championship game like last year's matchup between Kansas and Memphis, where we were reminded once again that for the want of a free throw, a championship can indeed be lost? Who will be the Stephen Curry of this year's Dance (sadly, he won't have a chance of repeating his Pistol Pete-like, otherworldly performance)? Which team will come closest to replicating George Mason's incredible 2007 run? And most importantly, will my bracket still be viable after this next weekend? Can I repeat in dominating my bracket group again this season?
Friday, March 13, 2009

I heard this grammatical error a handful of times this past week (amazing what one picks up if you're listening for it), so perhaps it needs addressing: borrow versus lend/loan*. The common mistake is to ask someone to borrow you their movie/lawn mower/random item. The person getting the object does the borrowing, the one giving the object is lending or loaning it to the other person. To lend means to give to someone. To borrow is to receive something from someone. You lend someone your newspaper, you borrow their toothbrush (actually, I hope you don't borrow their toothbrush). Get it straight, people!

*Lend or loan are interchangeable, except for figurative expressions (like "lend me your ears").
Monday, March 09, 2009
Does Satan ever come to you and whisper, "Is God really THAT holy?" or "Is God really THAT intolerant of sin?" or "Did He REALLY demand perfection?" or "God's not looking, a little bite won't hurt anyone." He certainly does to me. Recently, I've noticed a creeping apathy or outright negligence in my life toward certain, as Jerry Bridges might call them in a book I desperately need to read, "respectable sins" (not to mention plenty of sins which aren't "respectable"). I believe that's because I tend to see God as Satan wants me to see Him, instead of as Jesus commands me to view Him (Matt. 5:48).

I need to see God as the utterly Holy, completely Good, everlastingly Pure and Perfect King. I need to know God as first wrathful toward me as a sinner BEFORE I know Him as loving toward me as one under the cleansing of the Lamb. I need to remind myself of the God who in His divine wrath wiped out whole nations and civilizations because of sin. I need my eyelids stuck open with toothpicks until I fathom just how infinitely holy the Father is; until I can honestly cry, like Isaiah, "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips [and an even worse heart]... and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Lord, may I see your holiness. May sin make me queasy to my stomach. May even the temptation of a lustful thought or a prideful attitude make me feel like spiritually puking before You! And when I do fail to honor your holiness, may I immediately repent and cling evermore tightly to the Cross, knowing confidently that though I am a great sinner, Christ is an even greater Savior!
In light of Obama's decision last week to overturn the "Conscience Rule," it's particularly interesting to read about a similar situation in Britain (only, in this case, it's regarding life on the opposite end of the spectrum).
One of the key aspects of a free society is the independence of the medical profession from the state.

All professions are bound by a code of ethics which ensures that they always put the interests of the public who use their services above any outside interference.

When it comes to the practice of medicine this protection for the public is of the utmost importance, since doctors have the power to affect the continuation of life itself.

That’s why their cardinal rule is ‘first do no harm’, and why the Hippocratic Oath which frames their ethical guidelines states ‘a physician shall always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life’.

But now, astonishing as this may seem, the doctors’ own profession is changing its rules to force its members in certain circumstances actually to do harm.

The issue concerns advance directives or ‘living wills’ through which people can indicate that, should they ever become so ill that they can no longer communicate their wishes, they want their treatment in those circumstances to be stopped.

The General Medical Council has decided that if in future doctors ignore such directives and continue to treat such patients, they will [lose their medical license].
The redefinition of killing as ‘treatment’ and refusing to kill as ‘harmful’ is the kind of mind-bending, Orwellian abuse of language and power that one associates with totalitarian regimes.
The terrible irony is that, out of the similar fear of hideous suffering which leads people to make ‘living wills’, they may be instructing doctors to cause them to suffer by starving and dehydrating them to death.

For doctors to face losing their livelihood and their freedom if they refuse to subject their patients to this hideous fate is grotesque, and another step towards the clinical brutalisation of Britain.
What is truly amazing is that it took less than 50 years to go from suicide being illegal in England to it being illegal to NOT help someone die.
I found this to be particularly challenging. I'm convicted this morning that many times I don't fight temptation or repent of sin like I should, like this man does.
Yesterday, I was talking to a few people in my office, and one of the women mentioned that she has a belly button ring; then she pulled up her shirt to show it to everyone present. Not good. I could feel my desires immediately pull me.

I went back to my desk and repented. I repented and pleaded with God for help again this morning during my QT, and then some more on my way into work. Once I got to work, I sat in the car for an additional 15 minutes fighting it.

I thought about what would happen if my lustful thoughts played themselves out to the extreme, in terms of the consequences that would follow... It made me sick to my stomach.

Then I thought about the joy I have in a loving relationship with my wife, and how excited I am to praise God in sharing with others whenever things are going well.
I meditated on Jesus on the cross crying out to his father, asking why he has forsaken him. Answer: My adulterous heart.
I hate sin. I hate my fallen nature. I hate Satan.

I love the Gospel. I love the the thought of heaven. I love Jesus.

Please pray that I would continue to battle.
Amen for us all!
Friday, March 06, 2009
"I hope to have an affect on readers by effecting their grammar."

Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will understand the errors in that sentence.

Affect and effect are two of the trickiest words in the English language; partly because of their similar-sounding pronunciation, and partly due to the fact that they each mean more than one thing. Aff-ECT means "have an influence on," OR it means to put on an unnatural air (like a fake accent). AFF-ect, on the other hand, is used to refer to the emotions exhibited by people ("her affect was melancholy"). So a singer could affect the audience by including a bluesy affect to her vocals.

If you're not confused yet, we still have to deal with effect, which has two meanings and is routinely misspelled or confused with affect. The more common use of the word effect is as a noun ("This brown bean dish could have an effect on me later"), but it can also be used as a verb meaning "to create" ("I would like to effect a change in my eating habits"). Obviously, it can be quite confusing discerning between affect and effect. A general rule of thumb is to use effect when it's a noun (except in reference to emotion) and affect when it's a verb (except when it means "to create").

Thus, if we return to the opening phrase of this post, you will notice that I have switched the two terms and used them both incorrectly.

All of the following sentences are correct:

"I would enjoy effecting a change to your daily routine."
"I would enjoy affecting your daily routine."
"I would enjoy having an effect on your daily routine."
Monday, March 02, 2009
Dr. Dalrymple has an excellent column this week in the New English Review on the thrill of reading (and writing) about evil in comparison to doing likewise about good. As he points out, "a newspaper that reported only acts of kindness and generosity would be insufferably boring and would go bankrupt." People want to hear and read about bad people and evil deeds.
To write of good people is often to sound either naïve or priggish; whereas to write of the bad is to appear worldly and sophisticated. One of the reasons, of course, for the difficulty of writing interestingly of the good is that there seems so much less to say of them than of the bad. The good act according to principle, and are therefore lamentably (from the literary point of view) predictable. Once you know how they behave in one situation, you know how they will behave in others. The bad, by contrast, have no principles beyond the pursuit of short-term self-interest, and sometimes not even that. They are therefore not predictable and their conduct is infinitely various.
At the same time, of course, there is the problem of evil: how it arises, and how it triumphs. No one troubles himself to anything like the same extent over the problem of good: how it arises, or how it triumphs. Perhaps this is testimony to the victory of Rousseau’s idea that we are fundamentally good by nature, though deformed by society, over that of Original Sin, which proposes that we are all sinful from birth.
It occurred to me in view of the problem of good – I mean the literary problem, not the metaphysical one – to try to write interestingly of some of the very good people whom it has been my fortune to encounter in my passage through this vale of tears we call the world.
I think... of the adolescent son of a female alcoholic patient, nasty and violent in drink, whom I expected to be adversely affected by growing up in an atmosphere of every conceivable kind of squalor, physical, emotional and moral. If he had been truculent and aggressive I should have understood it; if he had thought he was hard done by, I could hardly have disagreed with him. But instead of being such a young man, he was extremely well-mannered and attentive to his own education, not resentful in the least; moreover, he looked after his disagreeable mother with a tenderness that was amazing to behold and (frankly) impossible to understand, considering the dog’s life she had led him. Where did such goodness come from? It was at least as difficult a problem as that of evil.
I met in an obscure part of Nigeria an aged Irish nun, well into her seventies, living in an isolated convent with other nuns, who made it her work to bring food to the prisoners in the local prison. I have very little doubt that they would have been severely malnourished or even starved to death without her arduous attentions; she made sure that each of the prisoners, some of whose sentences had expired but who had not the requisite money to bribe the gaolers to release them, and others of whom had been on remand for ten years, was fed. For it was a matter of fact, accepted as a law of nature, that officialdom would steal whatever there was to be stolen.

The nun had nothing but her moral authority to effect her work, and she had no reward but the gratitude of the prisoners and the compliance of the guards. It was clear that they all now had both a respect and an affection for her; she carried around with her an aura of invulnerability to the world’s evil. But none of this had gone to her head, on the contrary; her humility was genuine and unselfconscious, and I suppose if asked she would have denied any special merit in her conduct. The reproach to one’s own comparative lack of humanity was implicit rather than explicit. The power of example is that it is exemplary, not declarative, much less declamatory.

It is not of course for me to say whether I have been able to interest the reader in some of the remarkably good people whom I have met, or whether they would really rather have heard about the baby-sitter whom I met who killed the three infants in his charge because he didn’t like the noise they were making that interfered with his concentration on television. It might be said that, having described the goodness of these five people, I would have nothing more of interest to say about them; whereas, had I chosen the four or five greatest moral monsters whom I had encountered, I would have much more to say.

But this is not quite right; the fact is that we are much more interested in the life histories of the moral monsters than in those of people like the five exemplars whom I have described. Their lives were neither uniform nor without interest, but I did not enquire into them with the same curiosity that I have employed in the cases of the moral monsters.

In summary, it may be said that evil attracts and engrosses us in a way that good rarely does.
My wife and I caught a matinee yesterday afternoon, and she was gracious enough to let me pick the movie (in other words, no chick flicks). I'd been wanting to see Clint Eastwood's latest (and perhaps last) directorial and acting work, Gran Torino. So that's what we saw. It is AMAZING! I won't ruin any of the plot twists, but suffice it to say that Eastwood should have won a Best Actor AND Best Director Oscar for this story about a man coming to terms with past sins, overcoming racist disdain in a MEANINGFUL way (his salty words don't change, but the meaning behind them does drastically), and sacrificially loving one's neighbors. Large parts of the movie are vintage Eastwood, harkening back to his Josey Wales or Dirty Harry days. I only wish that there was even more of a reliance on faith in God than portrayed in the movie.

Skip most of the Academy Award winners and watch this film. Eastwood goes out on top!

[Be aware that there is some violence and a SIGNIFICANT amount of harsh or obscene language.]
Obama intends to overturn Bush's "Conscience Rule." I suppose there are still a few people who claim that he's pro-choice, not pro-abortion. But it would seem that their numbers must be dwindling...

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »