Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Life is Like a Bag of Skittles

October 29th, 2004 Viewed 3767 times
HDR image of Skittles.

HDR image of Skittles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the summer of 1994, I attended the Csehy Summer School of Music, down in Muncy, Pennsylvania (it has since moved). Getting prepared for the two weeks I would be spending there, and actually having everything I needed were two different things. Upon arriving at Csehy, I realized that I was indeed missing something, and my parents volunteered to go over to the nearby mall to purchase the needed materials. They dropped them off while I was in a planned activity, and when I return, I noticed that they had also bought for me a bag of Skittles. I was amazed, and greedily tore open the bag, ripping it down the side, and causing Skittles to pour out of the bag, and onto my bed. I left them there until it was time for bed. I tried my best to get as many Skittles back into the bag as possible, and I stuffed them into the drawer with all my clothes.

The next day, all throughout the day, I was digging into the bag of Skittles, and each time I took some more out, some Skittles would fall into my drawer. I thought nothing of this, and continued to eat the Skittles, even the ones that had fallen into my drawer. Days passed, and with the heat and humidity of that week, the Skittles began to melt. I was beginning to figure out that, unlike those chocolate M&Ms which melt in your mouth and not in your hand, Skittles would melt in my drawer. Late in the week, I noticed that some of my clothes began to have new, colorful markings on them, in sort of circular patterns . . . Skittles! By this time, the Skittles had proceeded to melt onto a dress shirt, a sweat shirt, a sweater, a pair of jeans, and other articles of clothing. Instead of how many fruit flavor combinations, it was how many color combinations!

Tax Relief for the Poor

October 26th, 2004 Viewed 1665 times

In this election season we’ve heard a lot about taxes.  Though I am gratified to hear that the discussion is now how much of a tax cut or who should get tax cuts instead of whether there should be one at all, it is still unnerving to hear our officials talk about our money as if letting us keep it is costing them.

John Kerry proposes a tax hike on those making over $200,000 so as to pay for his programs.  Whether or not this will cover it is not relevant to my discussion, though I’m sure that it probably will not.  Whether or not this is fair, because a middle class family in some high income cities will be taxed more is also not germane to my discussion.

My question is, when are we going to eliminate the tax on the poor?  What tax you ask?  The state lotteries, powerballs, etc.  Generally, who pays for lottery tickets.  I highly doubt Bill Gates is out there doing it.  Though some people do it seldomly, most middle class people aren’t buying tickets (correct me if I’m wrong here).

Who most does the lottery appeal to?  Those who are financially in trouble.  We take these vulnerable people, fill their head with mush about how they can win millions like those they see on TV, and then expect them to use the money they should be supporting their family with to buy a ticket that they will most likely have no return on their investment.

When Enron and Global Crossing collapsed and people were cheated out of their investment dollars, that was a scandal and people went to jail.  When a state takes people’s money under the guise that you might make millions and you never do– it’s praised.  “Look the at the money we’re raising for education!”

Who’s paying for it?  Not the wealthy or the middle class that have the sense to stay away from the lottery, that is for sure.  We need to end the tax on poor.

Reworking the system

October 20th, 2004 Viewed 2019 times

The current voting system is broken.  No longer do we have responsible people voting, but we grab each person, use peer pressure and bandwagons, and pressure them into a given place to check a box for a given man.  This dilutes responsible votes and makes the election into a popularity contest more than a vote on issues.  How can we solve it?  Here are some possible solutions:

  • Get rid of the two party system– or the political parties at all.
  • Make the House/Senate decide the election.
  • Change the electoral vote system so that the popular vote dictates the 2 “senate” votes, and then whoever wins each district gets the vote of that district.
  • Have a test when entering a polling facility that required you to match a candidate’s position to the candidate’s person.  Anyone not scoring over half would be given a class or something before voting– or not allowed to vote.
  • Compile some kind of list of votes from tax returns so that fraud could be minimized.

Anyone else got a suggestion?

Where is our Faith?

October 18th, 2004 Viewed 1943 times

I have recently come to ponder the stuff upon which our Christianity today is built. Why is it that we don’t see the grand revivals? Where is the true power of the Word? When Adam and Eve in the garden chose to eat of the fruit of the tree, they started a trend that has snowballed into what it is today, and will end in the destruction and punishment of all mankind that remains in this sin.

What was this great sin? Trusting in one’s self and basically saying to God, “I am wiser at this than you are, and I can make my own decisions.” The individuality in us, that thing that makes self most important, is a divisive tool and stands greatly between God and man.

Why is this? Because the author of sin committed the very same act when he said that he would be greater and more important than God. Since then, he has been influential in organizing a revolt that he’s continued to grow since his removal from Heaven.

Non Believers are not the only ones effected, though. Have you ever stopped to marvel at the men of the Bible? These ones who have gone before, that witnessed so many miracles? Why aren’t people like that today? I mean, Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. Elijah is said to be a man of like passions as we are, and he caused it not to rain for three and a half years. What do these men have that we do not?

They had faith in God totally to provide. Elijah didn’t have a microwave oven and a pump to get water. He had to trust God. God led him to the right places, and he was able to minister. How often do you place trust in yourself in a day? Not just for decisions. How often do you trust the work of your hands? Be it your house, your chair, your car… anything!

We’re constantly placing ourselves in our place of trust. We trust in our backup plans, we trust in our creativity, our friends, our talent… We trust that if our car breaks down that we’ll be clever enough to get help or fix it.

Where is the spirit of prayer, like a Jehoshaphat who goes to God first when facing Ammon and Moab? Where is the Nehemiah who prays and waits on Him? They have been replaced with a world where prayer is a “good idea” and the “only thing that can help now.” Trusting God is that thing we do when we can’t provide by our own means. How many times do we pray to ask His blessing on our plans instead of asking that His plans be ours? How many times do we come up with our own ideas apart from Scriptural principles?

Our lives are too full of “I’s.” God wants us to be completely surrendered to Him. You wonder why things happen that we cannot control or do not have a plan for? It’s so that we stop trusting ourselves and trust in Him. For in Him we live and have our being, so why do we try to live outside of Him?

Bush vs. Kerry – Round 3

October 14th, 2004 Viewed 1595 times

I had watched every debate, including the VP debate, in totality live up until this one.  Given the momentum in the debates, I figured Bush would consistently do better, and since part of the strategy during the last campaign and this presidency was to co-opt democrat ideas so he could claim he got things done, I thought that the conventional wisdom regarding Kerry’s advantage would be proven wrong.

That all being said, I also figured more people would tune into the ball game!  We’ve been all fighting a cold or something that we’ve been passing around along with little sleep, so I opted to go to bed at 9:00 pm.  However, curiosity and the fact that I had skipped dinner got the best of me, and I caught the last 30 minutes of the debate– so I’ll give my impression of that.

I can’t remember the first question I heard– it might have been the automatic rifles.  My response to that question would be that, although it would be scary to enter a house with someone with an automatic  weapon as a law enforcement officer, the bad guys are always going to have access to these weapons.  Gun control seems to only prohibit those that will follow the rules from getting their hands on tools of defense.  I believe that there’s a European country– Switzerland?– that teaches all homeowners to use semi-automatic weapons and they have a tremendously low crime rate.

On the faith question, I believe Bush did a better job because I believe he actually believes what he says.  It was somewhat of a loaded question– no matter how many of the pundits say this was a softball– because had he answered directly that his faith directs his policies he would have played right into the argument that the democrats want to make about legislating morality and the whole “God told me to go into Iraq.”

My reaction to some of the closing comments by the FOX guys and the ones they interviewed, it’s hard to say my reaction to hearing Kerry mention Mary Cheney.  I don’t think it was as much of a secret as the pundits are making it out to be.  It’s also a common tactic to name a person representative of a group to illustrate your point.  Usually, however, it’s a person that you’ve met on the trail in relative obscurity instead of someone that is semi well known.

I guess my feeling is that it is one thing to be spoke about as someone who needs a solution to a problem or to attack someone in public that has a public voice, but no one outside of the campaign rallies or Mary Cheney’s friends have ever talked to or heard from her.  I agree with Rush Limbaugh that the tactic would have been much better if he had used someone he knew in the public spotlight, like Barney Frank, to make his point– a point which I disagree with, by the way.

I wish Bush would have been clearer than what I heard was his response to whether homosexuality was a choice or born with it.  He didn’t need to alienate people– he could have said something like “Bob, in either
case we are given things in our lives– desires, physical ailments, etc– and we have to make choices about what we will do with these impulses and dilemmas…”  Here he could have even played up Christopher Reeve’s amazing will to survive and honored his memory instead of what Edwards did for another contrast, should he have desired. “… and homosexuals have choices about what to do about their desires and impulses, but should we as a country encourage choices that harm these people and families?”

Other than that, I thought Bush did so much better with humor and with his answers about the women
in his life.  It makes you connect when someone talks you through the first time he saw his wife.  Bush totally avoided politics in this question, whereas Kerry tried to play up his deceased mother for points.  Time will tell how that worked.

Superman and Stem Cells

October 12th, 2004 Viewed 1673 times

So, I was watching Inside Edition or something close to that name last night with my wife and they were talking about Christopher Reeve and his death yesterday.  Truly the man and his family proved resolve
stronger than anything seen on the screen.  Who we truly are is reflected in what we are like when placed under pressure.

The part that bothered me was the linkage of him and stem cell research.  Yes, he was an advocate of it.  Yes, I believe he supported embryonic stem cell research, which I do not.  The part that bothered me was Inside Edition’s poll question: “Do you support stem cell research?”  The answer to that question, for me, is yes– just not embryonic!  It’s a misleading question.

There have been some good discoveries using adult stem cells, and that research should continue, but destroying human life for research is as wrong as destroying human life to eat– ie. the cannibals that have recently been in the news.  They don’t see anything wrong in killing another human because they like the taste.  I’m sorry for the grossness of this analogy, but we have become so desensitized to what’s going on with the killing of babies in abortion, and we are constantly asked to look at those in pain rather than the one being killed, that we need to be awakened to what’s going on here in the name of science!

Cheney vs. Edwards

October 6th, 2004 Viewed 1747 times

For a debate that not many people were going to watch, many of the people I work with (including those that said they were not going to watch!) did watch.  My reaction:Vice President Cheney: Cheney’s
first problem was that he didn’t really answer the first question about Bremer and Rumsfeld directly.  I came away from his answer thinking he dodged it rather than facing it head on.  Most of the time I could predict what he would say, though sometimes, when I thought he was going to “hit the ball out of the park” he didn’t.  A prime case was with the whole homosexual marriage statement John Edwards made about
the Constitution not making one state honor a marriage in another.  If that’s the case, why did they pass the DOMA anyway?

Cheney’s best moments came in listing John Kerry and John Edward’s records. Also he did well during the times where he came off sounding educated and well aware of what was going on.  His best points centered around how Kerry changed with the current political breeze.

Senator John Edwards Edwards had a few stumbling points.  He wanted us to come away with the idea that all Bush/Cheney does is distort the truth– I think he said that almost as many times as Bush said “hard work”.  He didn’t answer many of the confrontations that Cheney had used against him.  The fact
that they only thing that they’re making hay about is the comment that Cheney said that he hadn’t met Edwards until now, when there were a couple of times they were together says a lot.

Edward’s best moments were domestic.  There was a time where I thought they– I mean he (since all he did was talk John Kerry this, John Kerry that) sounded like Republicans wanting to shrink the size of government.  That was pretty amazing.

Overall, a more “fun” debate than the Presidential one last Thursday, but still missing things.  I don’t know
how a candidate can get information out there in this world, but maybe both of them should be keeping weblogs that everyone could read and comment on– then again, what size server could hold all the comments they would get!

Debates and things

October 5th, 2004 Viewed 1822 times

There are a lot of heartening articles out there.  My favorite is one from Dennis Prager.  Here’s the part I like the best:

Here are direct quotes from John Kerry in the debate.

On staying in Iraq:

“I’m not talking about leaving. I’m talking about winning.”

“Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we’re there. We have to succeed. We can’t leave a failed Iraq.”

On leaving Iraq:

“And our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there …”

“I believe that when you know something’s going wrong, you make it right. That’s what I learned in Vietnam.”

What was it that John Kerry “learned in Vietnam?” To leave a war he regarded as a mistake.

On America acting alone:

“I’ll never give a veto to any country over our security.”

On America acting only with world support or within an alliance:

“But if and when you do it (act alone), Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test …”

And what if acting alone does not pass “the global test”? Then presumably we won’t act alone. Kerry made references to the need to be in Iraq in alliance with other nations eight times.

On the war being a mistake:

“This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment.”

“The president made a mistake in invading Iraq.”

“The war is a mistake.”

On the war being important enough to have to win:

“I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that.”

After hearing Kerry call the war a mistake, the moderator Jim Lehrer asked the logical question: “Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

John Kerry’s answer: “No, and they don’t have to, providing we have the leadership that I’m offering.”

Now what does that response, arguably the most important thing the senator said in the debate, mean? Does it mean that American soldiers won’t die for what John Kerry continually labels a mistake because he will prosecute the war more effectively? Or does it mean that Americans won’t die for this mistaken war because he will leave Iraq and then there will be no mistake to die for?

The answer, again, is that it can mean either.

I’m glad someone was actually keeping track of what Kerry said and didn’t say.  I have to say that since I wasn’t “keeping score” I missed all of this.  I think the fact that it was so drawn out lead to that confusion.  I think that I would be upset if I were Bush at the fact that he continually changes position.  Had I been Bush’s prep team, I’d make sure that Bush keeps track of what Kerry’s saying so he can do more “didn’t you just say…” and that would help a lot.  Let Kerry work himself out of his statements.

Casting Every Burden

October 4th, 2004 Viewed 1735 times

Walking down the long road, from where he was to where he was going, a lone slave made his journey. He was determined to finish the course, to make his way home. He had been a pilgrim in this weary land for far too long. It seemed like many years, more than he could remember, that he was placed here, under the care of a ruthless master who had no care for him– even whether he lived or died. He wasn’t mistreated too badly. In fact, many would say that he had it well off. He was provided for, it seemed, but much was missing from his life.

It was at that point in time that a woman stepped into his life which pointed him to a kind, gentle master, who had his eye on him the whole time. That master was gracious and had prepared the way for the servant to join him, all he had to do was believe.

So, the servant was now following where his faith led. It was to a destination that he’d only heard stories about when people passed his way. Few had ever been there and returned, and who blamed them! From what the servant heard, you’d be crazy to want to come back. The path was difficult, the journey tough. There were many pitfalls, and it was impossible to tell if he was making any progress toward home or not, or when he would get there.
This one day, another servant of his former master caught up with him, and started to talk to him about what had transpired.

“So, you’re on your way to your new home.”

“That’s right.”

“You know, I hear that it’s a long way off. Are you sure that you wouldn’t like to take a break and get a drink of water or something?”

“Well, I am kinda thirsty.” With that, the servant stops. He goes totake a glass of water, but as he nears it, and brings it to his lips, he throws the water down. “I can’t drink this! I’m on a mission!”

A little further down the road, there is a great gulf that seems to go for miles. It’s right in the way of the path. The servant isn’t sure if he can climb down the cliff or even go the distance. The former servant returns to his side. “So, how come your new master leads you to cliffs that you cannot cross. You’d think that He’d at least have a swinging bridge here or something!”

“That is a little strange. It seems that this whole path is difficult!”

“Well, no need to hurry, you can just sit here for a while– there’s a nice tree over here,” points out the other servant.

“That does look nice and cool.” He starts to head over to the tree, but realizes that he has to conquer the gap, and it’s still going to be there when he gets up. It has to be now. So, he gets up and starts to cross.

A few miles later, the former servant appears with a big truck. “Are you here to offer me a ride?”

“Nope,” grins the former servant, “you forgot a few things.” Getting out of the truck, the other servant takes the tarp off of the truck to reveal a bunch of items, pictures, tokens, and things that remind the servant of who he was, of the mistakes he made. In fact, there’s even a picture there of the water and the gap.

“What’s this?”

“These are things that you left behind. You have to take these with you!”

“No! I have all I need.” Yet he finds himself, one by one, taking things from the truck and examining them. Before he puts them in his bag and continues, he looks up. Thinking of his master, he drops them to the ground, pulls out a piece of paper, and writes something to remember– about his master, where he was, and the deceitful ways of a by gone time.

Christian, you’re on a mission. Don’t let yourself get distracted. Don’t let the things of this world tempt you. And, most importantly, don’t let Satan have you take back upon yourself the burden of sins confessed. They were laid on Christ. “Take my yoke upon you… for m yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This is what Christ says, happy are we if we do it!

Bush vs. Kerry

October 1st, 2004 Viewed 1852 times

Last night’s debate was long!  My wife left about two thirds of the way through for bed.  In my opinion, it was too long on Iraq without saying much!  The other thing that debates miss is fact checking during it.  What I would really like to see is a buzzer sound every time someone gets a fact wrong.  For instance, there were many statements that the President had to correct Kerry on.  A buzzer would have helped there tremendously.

Critique of the President

The President looked/acted like I do when I’m tired (which, with two young children happens often).  He had trouble recalling what he was going to say.  He fumbled with “the day before 9/10” in which he mixed
two different ways of saying acting like 9/11 never happened.  His body language on some of the wide shots made him look agitated, and my wife noticed a smirk.

I thought his best lines were to do with avoiding sending mixed messages and denigrating our allies.  He also made good points regarding actually talking with our allies instead of saying that he will talk with them.  I thought he answered the critiques that he was “doing nothing” well.   I don’t know if the tactic of addressing Kerry’s stump speeches carried that well, since undecideds may not be listening to stump speeches, and some people don’t even know positions!

Critique of the Senator

The Senator had a lot to prove here.  He was impressive in his presence.  I thought he stayed pretty general on things, and used Vietnam much more than I thought he would.  I wish that he would have gotten the “what do you think about the other guy” question too.  Some things just didn’t sound accurate– like when he claimed to never accuse the President of lying.

I thought he was articulate as he could have been.  I thought he appeared knowledgeable, and did a good
job communicating what he previously said in nuanced ways.  If this was the first time you’d heard both of them, you would definitely find Kerry likable.

I think Kerry won this one, not so much because of facts, etc., but because he came across as someone you could trust– had you not been paying attention up to now.  And that’s where the President can improve his game.


Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.