August 30, 2002

I'm writing from the Nebraska state fair. Gateway has about a dozen laptops setup so I logged in.
Cuz'n Grumpy's at 1:30.
Trip has been good so far, still have the reunion to go tomorrow.
Not enough time to check on the rest of the blogosphere, so will check in later.

Posted by MarcV, 12:46 PM link

August 27, 2002

On the road again ...
Yes, I will be on vacation for the next eight days. Unless I can find a kind family member to give me a little Net time, the posts will be on hold until next week. If you happen to be near Omaha this Saturday, stop by the cousins reunion (some state park between Omaha and Lincoln) and say hey. On Monday I will get to partake of one of my favorite food feasts, the lunch buffet at Home Run Inn pizza (real Chicago pizza). Came close to tears (of happiness) last time I was there, but then again I almost got misty eyed from Fred's tale about Zach, let alone Tony Woodlief's excellent post.

Keep blogging. I know the blogosphere will go on without me, but I look forward to coming back and maybe write a decent post or two.

Posted by MarcV, 10:23 PM link

For those who have a soft spot for pets, go and visit a spell with Fred over at Fragments of Floyd, and hear the tale of Zach.

Also, his stomping grounds made the front page of the Sunday Travel section in the paper. Mark your calendar for Sept. 27-29 for Floyd Fest, a world music festival that brings in the city slickers as well as the mountain folk.

If Mayberry met Woodstock, the result might look a lot like Floyd, Va., where New Agers and old timers meet – and get along.

Posted by MarcV, 3:14 PM link

House of Hope
Two Sundays ago, Sara Trollinger (the sister of my Sunday school teacher) visited our church. I was later humbled to find out the sacrifices she has made, and dedication to God's calling by founding and growing the House of Hope:

Seventeen years ago, Sara Trollinger, a former school teacher, was led by the Lord to establish a faith-based ministry called House of Hope, a residential home where hurting, troubled, throw-away teens could learn to accept responsibility, submit to authority, and to get along with peers and adults. The emphasis is on a holistic approach to heal the spirit, soul and body and to heal and restore teens and their families.

Sara started the faith ministry with five people praying and $200 and today, House of Hope has changed the lives of thousands of young people, their families and countless friends. The beautiful 10 acre campus is debt free [with no government subsidies] and consists of 6 homes, Chapel, Hope Academy School, Gymnasium, Counseling Center, Cafeteria, Administrative offices, three Staff Houses and a Ministry House.

They started out taking in 14-17 year old girls, but for the last few years have expanded the facilities (in Orlando, FL) to take in boys as well. The link points to the National House of Hope. God has laid it in her heart to establish a House of Hope near each major metropolitan area in the US by 2007.

They are similar to Teen Challenge, using a faith-based approach to turn lives around. Teen Challenge will take in older people (20-somethings), while House of Hope centers on the younger folks. My wife and I support both, and pray that you would consider doing the same, whether it is with money or volunteering.

Some blogs from a week or so ago questioned how to effectively use the money and talents we have to further God's kingdom. These ministries are ones that sow as Jesus would, and reaping the benefits of saved lives. I see them as potentially being welfare-busters, getting the government out of the welfare business by helping young people onto the path of responsible, productive and fulfilling lives.

Breaking the cycle of dependency, whether it's government hand-outs and drugs, will not be easy or quick, but by getting to people early in life we may have a better chance of virtually eliminating the welfare class.

Posted by MarcV, 9:25 AM link

Parental Price
Have you read the Tony Woodlief post I mentioned below? If you haven't, quit dwaddling and check it out. I don't read all that many blogs, but I would be inclined to nominate his post as "Post of the Year" (if someone were to collect nominations). Yes, it's a little better than any one Bleat from Lileks. YOU WILL BE BLESSED BY READING HIS POST.

He puts into words the fear that I cannot speak, and he has survived past his great sorrow. As a parent, a small part of us dies each day as that precious baby grows: from the little infant learning how to smile and laugh, to the toddler taking his first steps then leaping into your arms, to the youngster who makes conversation and gets so smart. I thank God for each day he has blessed me with my child. There are times I miss holding my infant, or hugging the toddler, baby-fat and all.

I understand better how some couples want many children, to relive those precious times of a new life discovering the world around him, and giving back to you unconditional love. Women can be funny when they hold a newborn and smell the "baby aroma", then get the urge for another one, casually forgetting the pain of carrying and delivering a baby, as well as the challenge of raising them.

For the younger couples who haven't taken the plunge into baby world, be prepared. You will give your life over for your children, spending more money and time than you would have thought possible, but it's worth every penny and minute. After 4 years I am still overwhelmed by the love I feel as well as the love he gives me. I can't get back the days when he was very little, but I can look forward to loving him each day, preparing him to be the man that God wants him to be. God help us as we raise our children.

Posted by MarcV, 9:21 AM link

August 26, 2002

If you would like to see the power of the blogosphere in action, direct your screen to Tony Woodlief's post from Friday. It's long but worth the read, and unless you have a heart of stone, it will touch you. He probably will not be posting regularly for awhile, as he is looking at a +1000 mile move from Kansas to the DC(?) area. His writing can be very moving, and this one post is "extry special", as Sheriff Taylor would say. I pray that his family will quickly and safely settle in to their new residence.

Posted by MarcV, 1:21 PM link

In conjunction with Kevin Holtsberry, we will be maintaining a weekly contest of picking each NFL game winner. The picks and results will be posted on Kevin's pigskin site.

If you are interested in joining in, please send a message to nfl-picks@winning.com, and you will be included on the group mailing for picks each week. The picks will be straight up, with no consideration of point spreads. No prizes will be offered, just the satisfaction of being named prime pigskin prognosticator. Join in the fun if you would like to match wits with other bloggers/NFL fans.

Posted by MarcV, 12:11 PM link

Framing the War Debate
Time seems to be growing very short for Saddam's regime in Iraq, yet recent pronouncements by Pres. Bush and his administration would seem to be pointing to a slower approach. The President is still looking for support from various Western allies, and those besides Europe (Canada, Japan, Australia etc.) seem to back the US to varying degrees.

Russia is a concern, in that they still have a communist influence, as well as the fact that they have committed to $40 billion worth of trade with Iraq. I would not be surprised that after invading Iraq, Russia comes up with a bill to the US for "reparations" (join the line, buddy!). Pres. Bush has made good progress in diplomacy with Russia, so hopefully our ties can be continued to be strengthened in the future.

The decision to invade Iraq (again) goes against our democratic leaning of not invading a country that has not invaded us. Iraq has not invaded anyone else since '91, and their ties to terrorism are not overwhelming, like the Taliban link to al Qaeda.

Victor Davis Hanson, over at NRO, posted an excellent column on how the President should handle the "vision thing" with Iraq. He has some suggestions on handling the Wall Street woes, and then framing the war as an effort for liberation:

By the same token, the entire mobilization against Iraq must be presented in terms of liberation, not gratuitous attack. We seek to remove a dictator so that thousands of unfree can at last have a chance to sleep without a knock in the night, vote, write a letter to the editor, question a government policy — and not have their treasure and lives diverted to take that of others.

He also sees the need to make Iraq an example for the rest of "Islam". The US is the sole superpower to help oppressed people. The cost of liberation will include American lives, but the cost of not intervening will continue to multiply the world's misery.

More pressure is needed to convey the message to the Arab masses that there are vast changes going on in the world — no doubt all scary and subject to distortion, misinterpretation, and misinformation. But a good barometer of America's future intentions after September 11 will be our own unapologetic enmity to dangerous autocrats like Saddam Hussein, the mullahs in Iran, and the younger Assad, who kill and torture — and a growing intolerance of continual autocracy among "moderates" in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, who punish independence and silence candor. Only that way can our risky efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq take on any meaning that rises above "regime change." If we can alter the name of our war against terrorism from "Infinite Justice" to "Enduring Freedom," then surely we can modify the nomenclature of "regime change" to "liberation" or "emancipation."

He has many more good points, so please read the whole column.

Posted by MarcV, 12:10 PM link

August 23, 2002

I hesitate to post this, as the green-eyed jealousy monster might come to life for my two readers, but a week from now, here's my potential vacation highlight:

Cuzin Grumpy's
Pork Chop Review

Show daily at 12:30, 3:30 and 6:00 in the Kidz Zone Area
Dancing pigs in tutus. The Pork Chop Revue features the one and only "Oink, the singing Pig." These adorable pigs present a fun filled, fast paced, educational show for the whole family.

Incredible as it may sound, there is no extra charge, it's included on the admission to the Nebraska State Fair. Yes, we're headed to the Cornhusker state next week for my family reunion. I'm not looking forward to the driving, about 20 hrs. one-way, but I want to show off the yung'un to people who have not seen him, and maybe see a few faces for perhaps the last time.

Anyhowzitz, if they have any t-shirts/hats for cuzin grumpy, you know Mr. Mastercard will be aired out and ready for action!

Posted by MarcV, 4:09 PM link

Crucify the Fresh
Sometimes our brains can move faster than our mouths, and what is spoken comes out garbled. Last Sunday, in Bible study, someone mentioned "crucify the flesh" and it came out "crucify the fresh". We all knew what he meant, but the phrasing stayed with me.

I had thought about writing a "Heddle size" post on it, but the spirit does not seem to be moving me that way. So I'll just say that every day it's important to throw ourselves at the foot of the Cross, to put to death our selfish, fleshy desires and seek His will. This is similar to taking a bath regularly, where we have a chance to remove the filth of sin and selfishness.

There are some who look at salvation as a one-time event: OK, got it, can't lose it, onto other things. If we have the desire to be born again, anew each day, then we must first "die" and give ourselves to the Lord. With a "fresh crucifying", we are ready for the rebirth in Christ, cleansing by His precious blood, and yielding ourselves as empty vessels and blank slates ready to be filled by His Spirit.

Do we need this every day? You'll need to ask a higher authority than me for your personal answer. The "daily death/rebirth" sounds easy enough, but our head-strong ways can interfere with this process. I pray for His forgiveness each day that I fall short.

Lamentations 3:22-26

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

[You ever get the urge to break out in hymn? All I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness ...]

Posted by MarcV, 10:09 AM link

da Bears Catchers
Saw this at Pro Football Weekly about Dez White, who had an excellent game last week:

Some scouts around the NFL believe Bears WR Dez White will be an impact player this season after a very strong training camp. One reason for White’s success could be his improved vision. White had trouble picking the ball up until it was right on top of him in the past, which was evident in his repeated drops. Due to corrected vision, that is no longer a problem.

It's that old receiver adage: see da ball, catch da ball, run da ball.

If Marcus Robinson (Pro Bowl 2 years ago) comes back healthy, and he should, along with Marty Booker (break out year last year) and White, Jim Miller will have a multitude of targets to throw downfield to this year. The Bear D looks as nasty as last year, so if anyone else wants to hop on the SuperBowl bandwagon, come on up! Like most other teams, the team depth is weak, so hopefully injuries won't derail the wagon.

Posted by MarcV, 10:09 AM link

August 22, 2002

Blogging Blahs
The last few days I have noticed several bloggers musing on "why I blog" and if their blogs are worthwhile. There have been some good answers, and some of mine are in my FAQ (link to right), although I should call it ATQ, answers to questions. Joshua C. stated some good points of knowing your mission and to post on things that interest you.

For the other side of the coin, I point to two examples of blogs gone awry. The first is Joyful Christian, where Jeffrey Collins has been battling an illness and is in need of prayer. When at full strength, he maintained a very good site, but now he is on the "physically unable to perform" list. We can have the best intentions but sometimes things beyond our control prevent us from blogging.

The second is what, for now, I consider a shrine to "Blogging Blahs", the site for Louder Fenn's Whirligig. When I was starting out about 6 months ago, he seemed to be one of the "big boys" on the block, writing good posts and engaging other prominent bloggers. He even locked horns with den Beste over at USS Clueless. Something inside of him said "No mas", and he turned his back and logged off.

He may surprise folks and come back stronger than ever. If you ever get a case of the blogging blahs, check out his site and ask yourself if this is how you want to end it. In a way it seems like the blogosphere is life in overdrive: friends come and go quickly, explore new areas and continually learn at "Net speed".

Blogging friendships are tenuous at best, connected by only a 4 wire cable and the desire to reach out. This continues to be enjoyable for me, and I keep looking for the greater purpose that God has intended for this (can't say why for sure, just a hunch). I am looking forward to seeing how social scientists evaluate this blogosphere phenomenon twenty years from now, and remembering that I was a tiny-speck part of it.

[Update: I should also mention Alice in TV Land, who was kind enough to help me out when I first started. For awhile, she was also "physically unable to perform", then she came back, but now is in the "lose the muse to blog" category. I hope she and Louder Fenn are doing well wherever they are at.]

Posted by MarcV, 1:53 PM link

Blogosphere blabber has been bubbling concerning Ms. Ann Coulter and her #1 best selling book, Slander. It's kind of funny to see the type of reactions she inspires. NRO's John Derbyshire gave a link at the Corner for this article in the NY Times website. When asked if she will only write books:

"That’s right," she said. "That’s right. The American people like me; editors don’t. I’ve arranged my life so that I am unfireable. I don’t have any bosses. The only people who can fire me are the American people. That’s part of the reason I’m not anxious to have a TV show. Who’s gonna give me a TV show? I didn’t work for an impeached, disbarred President who was held in contempt by a federal judge. That’s what they look for in objective reporters."

Have not read her book, but from what I can gather, she makes direct references to various "famous" people, usually using unflattering terms. Rather than making oblique or veiled references, she flat-out says whats on her mind, like calling Jim Jeffords a "half-wit".

Posted by MarcV, 8:51 AM link

David French has not one but two, two good posts on attack Iraq. Yeah, we don't like war and invading another country is "distasteful", but the consequences of not invading are potentially too terrible to contemplate.

Posted by MarcV, 8:51 AM link

August 21, 2002

Die Happy?
This caught me eye (wonder why?) today in the Yahoo news roundup today:

Rolf Eden, a 72-year-old west Berlin disco owner famous in the German capital for his countless number of sex partners, said he could imagine no better way to die than in the arms of an attractive young woman -- preferably under 30.

"I put it all in my last will and testament -- the last woman who sleeps with me gets all the money[~$240,000]," Eden told Bild newspaper Wednesday.

"I want to pass away in the most beautiful moment of my life. First a lot of fun with a beautiful woman, then wild sex, a final orgasm -- and it will all end with a heart attack and then I'm gone."

Eden, who is selling his popular "Big Eden" nightclub later this year, said "applicants" shouldn't wait long because of his advanced age.

"It could end very soon," he said. "Maybe even tomorrow."

From the 70 virgins of the terrorist's dream of heaven, we now have the dream for an "under 30 attractive young woman". Who knows, he could end up with a +50 year old big fraulien and get smothered to death. Yah, take that, girly-man! I am here to dump [clap] you out!

What a lottery! If you make the cut and he decides to select you, you then take a chance of having sex with him (and who knows what diseases he harbors) hoping he gets a heart attack. Actually, I wonder how Rolf will be able to sleep afterwards if he doesn't get the heart attack. You would think he would have to sleep with one eye open if his "consort" wants to collect the cash by any means possible.

Would justice be served if he suffered a stroke and lost the use of his body from his waist down? I would not want to wish that on anyone, but it does make you wonder...

Posted by MarcV, 12:21 PM link

WorldCom's Internet
For those who may not know, WorldCom and AT&T are the two big players in the Internet connection business. WorldCom is estimated to carry nearly 50% of Internet traffic through UUNET's (subsidiary of WorldCom) fibers. So if WorldCom goes down, will that choke Internet traffic? Possible but not probable. From the NewsFactor network via Yahoo News

Yankee Group's Libby pointed out that many UUNET customers have made backup arrangements. Unless service was shut down suddenly, he said, service degradation would probably be inconvenient rather than disastrous. "It would be like trying to log onto an Internet news site after 9-11," he told NewsFactor.

I remember that. It was frustrating to get denials of service, and then you had to figure out which lesser-known sites may have had updates. I still ended up watching FoxNews on the TV.

WorldCom is too big to let it flounder. The US governement does $2 billion worth of business with them.

Pointing out that in a Chapter 11 scenario the creditors effectively own the company, Melanie Posey, program manager for Web hosting at research firm IDC, noted that it is in the creditors' interest to keep the network functional. "The business is the network," she stated.

The problem becomes one of who will get to pick up the pieces. The government blocked WorldCom from acquiring Sprint 2 years ago because of concerns that the two companies would have overwhelmingly dominated the world’s Internet traffic.

From an article in Wired:

The critical issue for most customers isn’t long-haul Internet capacity — where the much-ballyhooed glut of fiber capacity is real — but direct fiber connections to major office buildings, where WorldCom and AT&T rule. Duplicating those connections won’t be easy, but it may become imperative. “The service aspect, at least for a while, will get very confused,” says David Farber, a telecom expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “If I want new access, if I want to increase capacity, it’s going to be tricky. And what happens if the government decides it can no longer do business with them? There could be chaos.” It’s not hard to imagine WorldCom becoming the Arthur Andersen of the Internet, shriveling daily as customers and key employees defect.

... [the] most troubling scenario: WorldCom’s demise triggers a consolidation — seamless and perhaps barely noticed by the masses — that ultimately leaves a handful of companies controlling the Net.

We have come to look at Internet access as a type of utility, but it seems the rules are being made as we go along. Just as websites try to make a profit, so too do ISP's and the big telecom's. The telecom's are in a similar economic situation like the airlines, where a shakeout will lead to a few survivors. Will the survivors tighten the screws on consumers, or will big-daddy government try to save us from these cruel profit-takers?

As we are riding out the current difficult economic times and stock market woes, I hope we can also let market forces take care of any airline or telecom trying to shake customers down. It can be a painful short-term ride, but the long-term aspects of government intervention are usually disastrous.

Posted by MarcV, 12:17 PM link

August 20, 2002

More Miller
No, I'm not Larry Miller's publicist, but I like his writing style and sense of humor. He does it again at Weekly Standard this week. At first he has a few funny insights on hospital visits, and then goes on to describe his visits to hospitals in Israel. He helps put a human touch on how lives are affected by the freedom fighters suicide bombers. Be sure to unclench your jaws after reading about the cheering Arabs. The spirit displayed by the Jews to keep going and reach for peace is inspiring.

Posted by MarcV, 4:17 PM link

August 19, 2002

Blog to the Left
Tony Woodlief had a long but good one on dealing with social science academics and their left/liberal leanings. For those of you who did not persevere to the end, he made an excellent point at the end of his post:

There's a common thread here: many people to the political left seem to enjoy making little jabs at their favorite targets (Christians, America, free markets, etc.), but are quick to hide behind walls of decorum and appropriateness when challenged. In short, they behave like intellectual cowards. They parade their insipid opinions in front of captive students, toss out their views in safe domains, and scurry like mice when they discover there's a thinking person standing in the corner with a broom in his hand.

And perhaps that's why the Blogosphere is virtually devoid of leftists. And a leftist who provides his real name, an email address, and a "Comments" feature on his page is rarer than reasoned commentary in the journal of the Modern Language Association. Posting opinions and tolerating responses is, it seems, beyond the purview of the average leftist. Once a bastion of free speech and debate, the radical Left has become a self-righteous little tribe of Pharisees. And this is why, thankfully, they are becoming decreasingly relevant in modern political life.

From the little blog-hopping I have done, I tend to agree that you don't see many "Leftist" blogs in the blogosphere. Michael Moore and Wil Wheaton seem to have generated their own little communities, and there are probably other "celebrities" generating blogger traffic. While many of the young people tend to make their blogs extensions of IM sessions, you will have the occasional young conservative, like A-lister (who gets linked by Instanpundit - oohhh) Joshua Claybourn and Ben Domenech, making good points about the political scene. Sometimes even their views get challenged, but they don't scurry like mice.

The radical Left may be decreasing in relevance, but they are still a force to be reckoned with, particularly because of their great influence in urban areas and mass media/news sources. I have heard Rush Limbaugh say in the past that he wanted to get the number of leftist Liberals down to one, just to keep as a museum piece, but that might not happen in our lifetime. Their emotional appeal can be difficult to fight against, even when you have good logical arguments to back you up.

Posted by MarcV, 11:26 AM link

Weekend Musings:
- Da Bears, da Bears, DA BEARS! Great showing first quarter Friday night, when da Bear's A-team stomped on the Rams starters. Jim Miller looked sharp, and the pass defense seemed to be improved, but obviously it is still only pre-season. I picked the Rams 13-3 this year, but now I'm not so sure...
- Funny how kids will mimic the things we do. Sunday morning I got my 4 year old out of bed, he hopped into my arms, and I carried him to the living room. He was a little sleepy, but he still patted my back gently with his little hand, then rubbed it in a circle like we do for him. Difficult to describe how good that felt. It's something that I will miss in a few years, but thank God I have the chance to experience it now.
- Someone in my Sunday school class mentioned "Crucifying the fresh" when he meant flesh, but it has stuck with me. More on this later.
- Who was pulling for Tiger? Well, I was (finishing a major tournament with 4 birdies at the end is awesome), but I am glad to see Rich Beem stare him down and come out on top. The long birdie putt that Beem made on the 16th didn't seem significant at the time, but it may have made a big difference on how he played the 18th. His eagle on the 11th was the difference in the tournament, and his approach shot could be nominated for "shot of the year", like David Tom's hole-in-one last year.

Posted by MarcV, 10:24 AM link

Weather Woes
Floods in Europe and drought in my neck of the woods have the "greens" trying to relate these weather troubles to global warming. Nick Shulz at Tech Central Station has a good response for them. Some people have gone so far as to blame Pres. Bush since he did not go along with the Kyoto treaty! We need to be on guard that emotional responses do not replace scientific facts when dealing with federal mandates to supposed global warming.

There was also some complaining on the laxity of American aid to affected people in Prague and Germany (where are the blankets?). Well, get in line, take a number, and we'll call you as soon as possible. There's a few others in front of you, like Afghanistan, Africa, and India (did you see that polio is starting to raise its ugly head again there?) to name a few, but somethings coming.

Posted by MarcV, 10:24 AM link

Mark Byron goes into much more good detail on the Michael Novak article that I posted on below. John Derbyshire from NRO mentioned a quote from ole Silent Cal that I meant to include in my previous post:

Calvin Coolidge: "We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp."

Posted by MarcV, 10:24 AM link

August 16, 2002

Moral Capitalism
Michael Novak, the "celestial physicist" at NRO, shares his opening statement from the past economic summit in Waco. He starts out with this bedrock statement:

The business corporation is the strategically central institution of social justice. If the business corporation fails to meet its moral responsibilities, the odds against the rest of society doing so shrink to next to zero.

I hope this article can be used to start each business class in universities and colleges throughtout this land.

The foundation of our society rests on truth, honesty and the practicing of good morals and ethics. Mr. Novak's article clearly delineates this. It hurts to hear folks badmouthing corporations because of a few bad examples. Big and small companies may not be perfect, but, "The corporation is the main creator of the wealth that makes the works of civil society achievable." Be sure to read the article - very powerful writing.

Posted by MarcV, 4:08 PM link

OpenOffice.org application that I wrote about before was reviewed and hashed out again at the PC Mag site a few days ago. After reading the 74 comments, I came away feeling the same as before, that for most people you can use OO and do most of the things you would do like in M$ Office. The compatability may not be 100%, but its free and gets pretty close (94%?). Some power users may not be happy with OO but could give StarOffice (from Sun Microsystems) a look-see, as StarOffice can utilize macros and has e-mail.

Posted by MarcV, 2:28 PM link

August 15, 2002

Pastor Tithing
The statistician lady's Journal posted on tithing. I got to the party a little late, put my 10 cents in, and wanted to bring up another point. But first, Rachel's husband responded to my comment by wondering if the tithes from 30-40 people (enough people to support a pastor and overhead) could build a house for a family or feed some people. Yeah, suppose so, but I believe the example Jesus set for us was to teach people how to fish, rather than just giving them a fish. A church organization can do both, but without the building and administration, it is more difficult to effectively disciple people long-term.

I understand the urge, particularly by the 20-somethings, of shaking things up and ministering to people in a new and improved manner. If you come up with something, by all means try to convince others to join you, and tend the flock. The church building/administration system is inherently flawed because you can get personal politics and agendas in the way of ministry, but it has been the traditional way for the "body of Christ" to assemble, and people will continue to utilize it as long as the Holy Spirit leads them to it.

My other point: Why does a pastor tithe, and how should the tithe be used? Logically (human?), it seems like the pastor puts his envelope in the basket, then turns around when the offering basket gets to the row behind him and makes a "withdrawal". Nothing seems to be accomplished by his offering. Some might look at it as the pastor setting an example, giving his vote of confidence in the church. When we give to a church we are making a statement that says we endorse this place and want it to continue.

At one church I used to attend, we actually had a business meeting after a Sunday morning service to vote on letting the senior pastor take his tithe out of his gross pay, in order to ease his tax burden. It was one of the most uncomfortable meetings I ever attended, and it took me a while to figure out why. Besides discussing his salary out in the open, we were letting worldly influences affect a spiritual matter.

Although it is too late now, I would have suggested that the church refuse to take the pastor's money, and let him distribute it to any other charity as the spirit moves him. He would then have to go through the same thing that the rest of us do, tracking our donations and itemizing them if possible. If anyone should know the needs of the community and where help is needed, it should be our pastors.

Should every church make their pastors give their tithe outside of their home church? I don't want to get "legal" over it, but I think the elders/deacons (or whoever the lay leadership is) should encourage it. If a church has to rely on the pastor's "kickback" to survive, then there are much more serious problems than what to do with the pastor's tithe.

Posted by MarcV, 9:48 AM link

Like other bloggers, I enjoy checking the referral log. Yesterday brought 3 goodies, so here goes:

free arab egyptian movie newmar
Once again, if I had Julie Newmar on-line videos, a PayPal button would help me rake in the dough. Julie Newmar as Cleopatra? Rrrowwwr!

cutters bug spray swimming blue numb
The management of Spudlets wants to assure every visitor that all possible steps are being taken to keep this site West Nile Virus-free (let's see the counter start spinning now that I have mentioned WNV!). For more information, please refer to your favorite anti-virus site.

Prophecies Of Father Sudac
I posted on him about two months ago, and I still get google searches for him on my site every 2-3 weeks. He's the padre that keeps giving.

Posted by MarcV, 8:40 AM link

August 14, 2002

Funeral Songs
Bene Diction has a post (credited to Blithering Idiot that he got from the BBC) on Britain's top ten funeral songs and asked for other's choices. Thought "Candle in the Wind" would be #1. "Unchained Melody" made the list (I've had the time of my life?). What would be yours? Leave a comment here or at BD's site. I hope you can come up with something besides "Amazing Grace" (on bagpipes), because that one seems to have been a little overdone.

BI also has a good post on the new slogan/sign for the Episcopal Church, as well as some that didn't make the cut. Here's a sample: "The Episcopal Church: No Molesters, Just Druids and Witches". I'm sure David Heddle would get a chuckle out of them. I've always been partial to: "The Episcopal Church: Catholic Lite - Lots of Liturgy, Less Guilt".

Posted by MarcV, 11:41 AM link

Larry Miller over at WeeklyStandard online usually has an article on Mondays, but this week we had to wait until Wednesday. The delay was due to his travel to Jerusalem. In today's piece, he has a few funnies as well as good observations on how El-Al implements security. He had no trouble spotting the sky marshall:

...as you hand your boarding pass to the smiling ticket agent, and walk past the smiling flight attendants making coffee and handing out pillows, you come face-to-face with a guy standing right in the middle of everything who is built almost exactly like "Oddjob" from "Goldfinger." Only bigger. He was wearing an El Al uniform (or five) and you knew three things very quickly: (1) That the bulges all over his sport coat probably weren't wallets; (2) That, most likely, he was not the guy you would later be asking for an extra sour-dough roll; and (3) It would be an immensely bad idea to run over to him suddenly, grab his lapels and scream, "Death to Israel."

He got the usual warnings from his friends prior to the trip (dangerous, war going on, etc.), but found things pretty much normal when he got there.

He then relates the view from his hotel room:

I walked over to the window to open the doors, still staring at the television, and then turned around and looked out, and that was the amazing part. Right outside the window. Down a small valley--"Gehinom" ("Gehenna"). Up a slope. The sun just rising. The walls of the city. The old city. There are no words for seeing that, or, at least, I don't have them.

Just the thought of having the privilege of visiting Jerusalem leaves me a little misty-eyed. My wife and I have discussed visiting there as our "ultimate" vacation, and as much as she hates flying, she would go. Affording it? Right now I'm having a hard time figuring out how we can afford to drive to Omaha and back. I know that the Lord will provide our "pilgrimage" to the Holy Land as we are faithful to Him.

Others who have gone always urge me to go. You may have that nagging fear in the back of your head about safety. If anything has changed over the last year, it's that no place/country is really safe anymore. The terrorists have won in at least that respect for now. So if you trust in the Lord and feel like He is leading you to visit Jerusalem, by all means go (and I'll be a little jealous) and strengthen your walk of faith as you walk the same streets as our Lord and Savior trod about two thousand years ago.

Posted by MarcV, 11:38 AM link

August 13, 2002

Got my Note Tab Light (wrote about it here) set up and working "comfortably". They put so much stuff in there, I ended up making my own library and copying over the HTML tags that I typically use. I still have not been able to change the spacing of the text on the workspace, but did increase the font size to make it a little easier to view.

Now all I have to do is get used to clicking on the tags in the library, rather than starting to type them. Andrea, webmistress at Spleenville, was kind enough to remind me that using caps in tags in the code will screw up the validation. So, for writing posts to paste onto blogger, no problem, but changing the template with Note Tab will be a problem. I'll have to figure out how to squeeze $10 out of my wallet for the spelchekker (maybe cut back on the Little Debbies snack cakes?).

Posted by MarcV, 3:58 PM link

Ya'll be sure to visit here and place your vote for the '85 Bears. Yes, da Bears! Led by da Coach, the most awesome football force ever unleashed on the gridiron.

Posted by MarcV, 3:57 PM link

August 12, 2002

Ecumenical Equality
Some recent posts at Veritas, the Blogistan Theology Department, and He Lives (sorry, link lazy) have presented some good viewpoint on ecumenism. As Christians we tend to make our personal faith so important that we get our underwear in a bunch if someone challenges our beliefs. If we can agree to lift the name of Jesus and on His status as God the Son, then we can disagree on some other things and still be brothers in Christ. Meeting together and sharing community projects is different then actually worshipping together.

Now, ecumenism can get out of hand. I am pulling this all the way back from last year, when Jesse Jackson (wow, 2 posts including him in one day!) wanted to "reach out" to the Taliban:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday[9/25/01] that he is working through intermediaries to start a "clergy to clergy" dialogue with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. . . . Jackson said he has previous relationships, characterized by what he called "ecumenical respect," with some leaders of the Taliban, Afghanistan's fundamentalist Islamic government.

I would have a tough time getting "ecumenical" with Muslims.

One area that ecumenism can help is the public perception of Christians advancing God's agenda in the political realm. It can be difficult, but it is necessary for Christians to have a voice in government. David French at Culture Curve has a good checklist for legal advocacy, in response to the uproar caused by Univ. of North Carolina's inclusion of an objectionable Quran study. We might not like the study, but trying to prevent it by a lawsuit is shortsighted.

From a legal perspective, I think the vision can be summed up in one word: Equality. In other words, when considering litigation or facing a government (or private) action that implicates Christianity or Christian expression, we should ask ourselves: "Is the government discriminating against the Christian viewpoint, or favoring the nonreligious over the religious?"

We might not like considering Islam equal to Christianity, but if our arguments are persuasive enough, and the lives we lead exemplary, then we should prevail when we advance the Gospel in a public forum. Didn't Jesus give us this example?

Posted by MarcV, 2:51 PM link

Went to see SpyKids II yesterday with the youngster and wife. Saw the review at Plugged In and seemed OK for the yung'un. We may have been the only people there to have not seen the first movie. It was pretty good (3 out of 4 stars), and now wife wants to rent the first one, so she seemed to like it. As a concerned parent, I kept wondering throughout the film what type of parent would allow their child to be a SpyKid. It is "Hollywood-vision", but I have a hard enough time worrying about mine banging his head onto a sharp corner of a table or whatever, and now you have SpyKids with jet boots, helicopters and other ordinarily dangerous items. It would seem like SpyKids would be one or two good lawsuits away from folding.

[Update: Ooops. Looks like the Possumblogger didn't quite give it 3 stars, although Roger Ebert did (ha!). Yeah, now that I think about it the "unbelievability" factor was a little high, but it was supposed to be summertime mindless entertainment. Perhaps what was most annoying about the film is the subtle message of kids being smarter and more resourceful than parents/grown-ups, not like that is anything new from Hollywood.]

Posted by MarcV, 12:18 PM link

Rev. Jesse
No, this isn't about the Jackson that fronts the Rainbow coalition. This is about Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a brave conservative activist who spoke out at a National Association of Black Journalists meeting (found it at FoxNews PC Report today). He is the founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, and he had the "audacity" to speak out against slavery reparations.

I thought this topic had been buried already, but it appears to still be gasping. He debated Michael Eric Dyson, an author and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who also writes a column for the Chicago Sun Times, and had this interesting blurb:

"If you've ever wondered what a self-hating black man who despises black culture and worships at the altar of whiteness looks like, take a gander at the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson," Mr. Dyson wrote. "In Peterson's mind, black rates of teen pregnancy, the breakdown of the black family and black people's addiction to civil rights advocacy are the unerring symptom of our moral failures."

That is a right on and amen for Rev. Peterson. According to Dyson, you hate black culture when you point out what is holding people back and criticize anything that the liberal Black establishment is trying to advance. I hope more people can support men like Rev. Dyson, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly (to name a few), who want to bring honor and respect back to a segment of society that has been made to feel like victims for far too long.

Posted by MarcV, 12:09 PM link

Invasion Force
Call out Homeland Security! We are being invaded by army worms. The battle is upon us.

Local farmer, Herschel Hockett, with a 500 acre dairy farm has to try to harvest his corn crop about a month early due to army worms attacking his farm, according to a local news report. He can only harvest about 5 acres a day, while the worms are going faster.

He says Army Worms started nibbling on his corn crop yesterday and have already chewed there[sic] way through eight acres.
"There's so many, so fact[sic again] and so quick,"Hockett told WFMY News2."They suck the life out of the corn. It's frustrating to see what we've got and how fast they can wipe us out."

I had heard rumors about locusts in the Midwest, grasshoppers out West, floods in W. Va, and we all know about the forest fires this year. With rumors of war, could it be ... end times?

For those who want a more thorough covering of bugs from A to Z, try here, or just go to the main page for End Times Now, a "Site Devoted to Today's Biblical End Time Prophecies!", and you may find out more about this:

Worship Allah, adopt a Muslim name, dress like a Muslim, and even hold your own Jihad at a school near you if you live in Byron, California. This unfathomable course is a requirement in our country? Believe it.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse. Well, everyone has their view on how close we are to "end times" and what (if anything) we should do about it. We can do our Chicken Little imitation, or we can do what Habbakuk (chap. 3:17-19) suggests:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

It is interesting to see some of the Biblical "signs" coming true, and if you enjoy prophecy, have at it. Let's just all remember to take care of the things we can, and that starts with praising the Lord, rejoicing that He has chosen us to be His children, and that He will never forsake us, no matter what plague might occur here on Earth.

Posted by MarcV, 9:10 AM link

August 09, 2002

Note Tab Light
I am writing this using Note Tab Light, some freeware that Fragments from Floyd linked to on his site. It uses caps for HTML code, and I thought that blogger only likes small letters, so I'll try posting this post and see what happens.

I ordinarily use WordPad for writing posts, but with the popularity of blogging, you would think that there is something available for bloggers to use on their posts.

Note Tab Light has so much stuff in it that it will take a bit of dinking to figure out how it could help me.

They also offer upgrades at $9.95 that adds spell check and thesaurus(spelling?), and then the $19.95 upgrade which might make your posts more interesting.

You also have the chance to open different documents and move between them by tabs underneath the toolbars. Like OpenOffice.org, it's incredible what you can get for free.

Posted by MarcV, 4:19 PM link

August 08, 2002

Aftermath of Discipline
Looked like Possumblogger's shirt buttons may have been straining from pride/satisfaction as he described his yung-uns first day of class (or maybe that was the big breath you take in before you go WHEW! and wipe your brow in relief). Especially liked the clothespin discipline scale - hadn't heard of that before (don't make me reach for that clothespin!!). All of his are in school now. Won't be much longer (only 12+ years) until he's an empty nester!
I have a ways to go myself, not that I am in any hurry. Went through a milestone the other night, where I am hopefully starting the "wait 'til your Dad gets home" fear. My "yoot" punched another boy in the stomach, hard enough to make him cry. His mom didn't see it happen, but just sent him to his room. Don't know why it all happened, but it does not matter as much as getting home the point that punching kids is wrong. So we had the "serious" discussion backed up by a little "discipline" to give the situation its proper gravity.

Usually he will cry for a few minutes and forget about it. This time he wouldn't pray with me before bedtime, and I could tell he was still mad at me. The next day he was sleeping when I left for work, and napping when I got home. He woke up crabby, then his mom took him to swim lessons while I went to church. Without my usual dose of yung-un hugs, I was starting to suffer from withdrawls and was a little worried on the way home. Fortunately, I was able to get a refill after I returned home. So far he hasn't really learned how to hold a grudge, but that will be a bridge to cross probably sometime soon.

Does God hesitate when He disciplines us? He does not need our love, but He seeks it. Some might say that He already knows how things are going to turn out, and He loves us unconditionally in spite of our reaction to Him. Like other fathers, God disciplines us to help us improve. I pray that I can keep that in mind each time a certain youngster is in need of discipline.

Posted by MarcV, 3:06 PM link

Media Reviews
Saw the dust-up that Esteban got over at Dead Yet Living, and I "feel your pain" (tuck bottom lip underneath top teeth with look of sadness), bro. He came at 'em with both barrels, questioning their faith and taste in music. Well, we like what we like, and we believe what we believe, and others don't particularly care for it when someone questions it. Go figure.

I have found a site that gives reviews for music, films and TV shows: Plugged In, a Focus in the Family publication targeted for "yoots". Yeah, they may be a teensy bit conservative, but they do warn you about objectional content. They have a review of Eminem's latest, and should have something on their site about Nelly next month. They are pretty tough (they wouldn't give a blanket approval for Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, G-rated!) in their reviews, covering most everything in "popular" entertainment.

Posted by MarcV, 3:06 PM link

August 07, 2002

Has anyone plucked the tail feathers on the Orbitz (pop-up ad) chicken - what happens? I'm curious, but also afraid that I will have to clean up a bunch of chicken litter (been there, done that, and stretched a few necks!) from my hard drive if the chicken takes over. Note to city slickers: after you've seen one chicken run around with its head cut off, the thrill is gone, and you just tend to hold them by their feet inside a bucket until they stop flopping around (minimizes the mess). Well, where did you think chicken nuggets came from?

Posted by MarcV, 3:31 PM link

Someone had an interesting Google search that came up with this humble site: chef darrell evans. I don't know how good he is with a pesto sauce, but Darrell Evans can cook up some awesome songs! Anyone else out there anxious to hear his next album? I heard that it was supposed to be out last fall, but he may have held it back due to 9/11. Last rumor I heard is that it should be another month or two, and the project (combination live show and studio cuts) will also come out on DVD. First a fridge with ice/water dispenser, and now maybe a DVD player? Whoa, that 21st century is moving fast! It would be a good excuse to get one, though (besides watching Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius). Mr. Mastercard would have to come out if Darrell Evans came touring out in this neck of the woods. If anyone has seem him in concert and could leave a comment, I would like to hear your impression of his show.

Posted by MarcV, 3:30 PM link

August 06, 2002

Priming the Pump
North Carolina, along with Georgia, offered a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shoppers. Anybody know of other states making similar offers? Consumers could buy clothes and computers without the sales tax (6.5% in NC). I went to Best Buy (toys for adults store) last Friday, for my modest contribution to get the economy back on track, and semi-purchased a refrigerator (picking it up Thurs., 18 months to pay no interest). Our current model has 16 years on it, so we are living on borrowed time.

We have decided on some "high-cotton" living, so we will have a water-ice dispenser in the door (whoo-hee!). The TV show "The Jeffersons" was on the other night, and they had a fridge with ice/water dispenser (25? year old), although they did move on up to the "East Side". I don't know how we will live without having to fill ice-cube trays, but we will find some way to persevere.

Anyhow, one of the clerks at the Best Buy thought they had sold the most computers ever for a single day. Combined with news stories showing the malls and Wal-Mart being swamped, I have a hunch the economy might show a positive bump at least for August. Might this be enough "pump priming" to get out of our economic malaise? I suppose the back-to-school spending is factored in each year, but alot of the people buying computers and clothes didn't look like the academic types.

Posted by MarcV, 3:22 PM link

Possumblogger missed out on the Possum Festival, but had an excerpt posted about it. They actually serve possum for people to eat (yummy!), and auctioned off possums, which the politicians usually snap up for publicity shots. There was a line at the end of his excerpt that impressed me:

Another Democratic candidate for governor, Bill McBride, couldn't make it, but his wife, Alex Sink, was there, handing out fliers and competing in the hog-calling contest.

Now that's answering the call for duty! She could probably get in a subliminal message (vote McBride) in between the SUE-EE's. Who says politics isn't glamorous?

Posted by MarcV, 3:20 PM link

Passenger Side
Mark Byron put out the bait, and I had to bite when he brings up Romans 7 and one of my favorite verses: "Wretched man that I am!" Every day. Every day. By His grace He puts up with me and blesses me beyond belief, yet I still fall short.

MarkB brought up some good points about thinking that we are free from sin, and that prompted me to return to 1 John 1:8-10:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

He concludes his edifier with an excellent analogy to driving:

I think we're free from sin to the extent that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Our flesh, our worldly man, will occasionally take control, grabbing the wheel away from the Holy Spirit. However, the closer we walk with God, the fewer times we grab the wheel. We have to learn how not to be backseat drivers in our own lives, for we're used to being behind the wheel.

So instead of actually trying to grab the wheel, we should also consider just sitting in the backseat and not even give our "helpful suggestions". I hope we can get to the point of being passengers next to Jesus, once we figure out how to behave like a good backseat passenger (and that includes not kicking the seat - note for my son!).

Jesus offers to exchange yokes with us and he calls us friends. It also brings to mind the "Footprints in the Sand" story, where He carries us. Passengers might slip and offer an unwanted helpful suggestion (just ask my wife!), but I can't think of a better driver and travelling companion than our Lord.

Posted by MarcV, 9:44 AM link

August 05, 2002

Kevin H at Ideas, Etc. has solicited my opinion on baptism. In previous posts I have touched on infant baptism, and this seems as good a time as any to wrap up a few loose ends. I just saw his post on baptism and appreciate his views and where he is at. Before I start, the first 12 verses from 1 John chapter 5 (NIV) will be helpful for the rest of the discussion:

1JN 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1JN 5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

This may sound like a stretch (or even wacky to some), but I propose consideration of 3 baptisms: water, blood, Holy Spirit (from verses 7-8).

.....Water Baptism
This is the one that people typically visualize when the term "baptism" is brought up. Jesus modeled it for us. He did not need to do it, because He had no sin to cleanse. I believe He was baptized by John the Baptist to fulfill prophecy, humble Himself, and publicly acknowledge the start of His ministry. We also should come to water baptism humbly, ready to declare publicly that we are ready for ministry. Can you be ready for ministry without baptism? Probably, but this is the example Jesus has provided.

I will also concur with several other folks at the Blogistan Theology Dept. that baptism is not necessary for salvation, as well as refer to the first 5 verses from the scripture quotation above. This may add further controversy, but I propose that the water baptism is not useful unless the candidate has first gone through the blood baptism.

.....Blood Baptism
Before someone gets the idea I am proposing some kind of cult ritual, the blood baptism is simply the profession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and Savior, as we submit our lives to him and seek repentance for our sins. The blood that Jesus sacrificed on Calvary is "sprinkled on our hearts" to wash away our sins. I did a simple search of just the Epistles (books between John and Revelation) and counted 17 references to Jesus' shed blood and salvation. Hebrews 9:22 simply states that, "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

We celebrate this baptism through the sacrament of communion, where the juice/wine symbolizes Christ's shed blood, and our drinking of it signifies our desire for forgiveness of sins. Christ's sacrifice was intended to be the final perfect sacrifice. It is up to us to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior.

Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Words seem insufficient to express my gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice, but I'll keep trying.

.....Holy Spirit Baptism
This is the third and final baptism. You have accepted Jesus in your heart, publicly acknowledged your readiness for ministry, and are now ready to receive supernatural power for greater ministry. Details for the Holy Spirit baptism are in the first two chapters of Acts, and the subsequent chapters give more examples. This baptism is a gift by God's grace, for those who have been blessed with talents and seek to serve God more effectively.

The baptism by "fire" is controversial, and some people view it as some kind of strange act when others start to speak in tongues, laugh, cry or do something out of the ordinary as the initial evidence for their Holy Spirit baptism. Pentecostal churches are a fairly new development in the history of Christianity, so the questioning by some is understandable. For more of my extended brain squeezins on this, try here.

From the scriptures I have studied, I believe that the baptism by the Holy Spirit is available for all Christians. I continue to be amazed that others do not hunger for it and want more of God by this baptism. We are all in different states of "readiness" to answer God's call, and I pray that we are all eager to seek the greater gifts.

Finally, I had planned on researching the question of what type of baptism (water vs. Holy Spirit) is referred to each time baptism is brought up in the New Testament, but lack of time and knowledge will prevent me from going further. If others would like to try, please do so.

Posted by MarcV, 3:23 PM link

August 04, 2002

R U Relationist?
Regular readers may have noticed a lack of scriptural references to posts on this humble site for the last few weeks. Besides personal struggles that I am going through, I am having a difficult time justifying how to present scripture on blogs in general. The debate on making sites "seeker friendly" continues, particularly with the ambitious blogs4god breaking onto the scene. Do we cause some seeker's eyes to glaze over if they see a sentence preceded by strange numbers and letters?

Some question the worth of even trying to make a site seeker friendly, since most unsaved people are not going to accept salvation by reading someone's blog, and may even be turned off by the "church-speak". So what other reasons are there for citing scripture on a blog?

Some sites, like He Lives, will take a theological topic and run with it, citing scripture and other interpretations from deep thinkers. Mark Byron has a daily scripture followed by how the verse affects him, while Joshua Sargent (when he finds the time to post) will just post the scripture that he happens to be reflecting on for that day. In the past I have taken off on a particular topic, including scripture and my experiences to make a point, and many other sites do this as well.

So what's the problem? Too often, the sword of the spirit (which is the word of God) is used to cut other people down, rather than attacking evil (which was Paul's intent in Ephesians 6:12 "F or our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ). Interpretation of scripture is also used to decide who deserves the Christian label. I will probably step on some toes here, not the first time, and offer my humble reasons for use of scripture on a blog.

The Bible is God's love letter to us, showing us how others responded to God's call in the past, and more importantly giving us guidelines to live by today. I will say again: without the Holy Spirit, interpretation of the Bible is left to our own weak minds, but with His Spirit God's word comes alive and is relevant. This causes the Bible to be personal: I believe what I believe as the Spirit enables me, and the Spirit may enable someone else differently. The Bible does not change, it is the believer's understanding of what the Spirit is telling him that is different between believers. The Bible is not written like some type of tax code trying to cover all foreseeable loopholes, but does give us a framework from which we build our understanding of God.

Our understanding of God and the guidelines we live by are personal, so that what works for one may not work as well for another. We find these guidelines by circumstances in addition to scripture, when the Spirit convicts us of whatever actions and thoughts we need to make.

How often have we used scripture to encourage others (a noble call), and found it degenerated into spiteful arguments? We need to consider each other's perspective, because someone who thinks they are reaching out in love may be perceived as judgemental or condescending. Using scripture to put someone down or cast them off may seem righteous, but does not advance His kingdom.

Several weeks ago I was involved in a debate about setting standards and the centrality of doctrine to salvation. One side wanted a legalistic, strictly scriptural interpretation, while the other side deemphasized legalism and elevate their love relationship with God. The legalists won't change, because they have scripture to back them up, while the "relationists" will just keep going along where they are at and be happy. The legalists see relationists as not "serious" Christians, then look for flaws in their theology and try to help the relationists by pointing the flaws out. A relationist can be a serious Bible student, but will typically use their acquired knowledge to strengthen their relationship with the Lord and help non-believers when possible, and usually not engage in extended arguments with legalists.

Thank God for legalists, with their dogged determination to advance a pure faith. Praise Jesus for relationists, with their squishy road to help weaker travellers along. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. It's a big tent, and we won't know until judgement day whether Jesus preferred one way or another, or even if it mattered.

So what does all of this have to do with scripture in blogs? It comes down to what side you are on. As for me and my blog, I will serve the Lord and try to avoid using scripture to cut down someone else's faith. If you want to believe in infant baptism, no Trinity, once-saved-always-saved, predestination, or whatever, God's peace be with you. If you are doing something which could affect your relationship with Jesus, then I may have something to say and hopefully try to help. Will I still have opinions about baptism, etc. and express them? Sure, but I don't expect to change anyone's mind.

Some might think that having "wrong scriptural interpretations" does affect your relationship with Jesus, so they are helping by adhering to legalism. Nice try, but it still goes back to personal faith, and the belief that only the Holy Spirit can change your "core" doctrines.

I believe that the use of scripture in blogs should be used for encouragement, theological (peaceful) arguments, explaining your own faith struggles, and just praising the Lord. Think of the blogosphere as an electronic Areopagus, where we are tickling each other's eyes and impressing our ideas on each other. If a non-believer happens to stop by and develops a hunger for God, hallelujah, but let's not make the blogosphere out to be more than it is.

To conclude, I pray that we can reach the point that Paul writes about in Romans 14:19 -

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Posted by MarcV, 11:07 PM link

August 02, 2002

For my blog buddy Sarge, here's a clip from ESPN's site on Coach Spurrier:

They won't beat Spurrier by trying to out-offense him. In the end, they'll have to beat him by defending his schemes, and ---- few will be lining up to try that one.
So you want me to believe that, given equal personnel, Spurrier won't be able to find space in a Bill Belichick defense? Please.
It's the "given equal personnel" part that's a problem.
The Redskins are short on offensive personnel. On offense, they should be called the Gainesville Redskins. Or the Washington Gators. Roll all three of their quarterbacks into one and you still don't have one Donnie McNabb. Danny Waffle, Shunned Matthews and Slain Rosenfelds? Who are we kidding here?

You got 2 Bears rejects and a "hunh?" making it a long season just outside the beltway. Wiley predicts 8-7 for the Skins, pretty close to another "famous" spud-like prognosticator.

Posted by MarcV, 2:34 PM link

Attacking Hamas
Good bit of dismay in the blogosphere about the weak US response to 5 US students killed by the recent Hamas bombing. My gut tells me to wipe out Hamas, while my heart is troubled by answering killing with more killing. David French over at Culture Curve gives a clear response to what he thinks the US should do, and I tend to agree with him. If we are serious about dealing with terrorists, then it's time to start walking the walk on the Palestinians.

Posted by MarcV, 2:32 PM link

Victor Davis Hanson has another good article at NRO, this time about the love/hate relationship that people outside of the US have for this nation of freedom. He likens it to a war of the heart vs. the head. He includes some good commen suggestions towards the end, but concludes that we will always have some folks hating us, because they are the ones with the problem.

Posted by MarcV, 2:30 PM link

Still Applies
Charles Austin at Sine Qua Non, in one of his usually always great scourges of Dick Cohen, gave a quote from George Washington's Farewell Address that really hits home the point I tried to make yesterday on my post about Europe. Pres. Washington gave this over 200 years ago, yet it still rings true today. The more I find out about him, the more impressed I am of a man who got the most out of his God-given talents and sacrificed much for the benefit of his countrymen.

Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It's nice to be friends, but there comes a time when you have to take care of business. I hope this country can take whatever rejection and criticism that Europeans give us with grace and humility, so that we can continue good relations in the future.

Are Washington's and Lincoln's speeches taught in high schools, and would seniors be able to understand them and describe the points that they try to make? Here is a great link for Lincoln's speeches. If Illinigirl is reading (and others may be interested too), check out Charles' post from Wednesday on why he blogs.

Posted by MarcV, 9:15 AM link

August 01, 2002

Blogs 4 God - wow. I'm tempted to cite the Groucho Marx (think it was him) line about questioning a group that would have me as a member, but I wouldn't want to be trite. Curious to see where this goes, and if it impacts the nature of blogging in the Christian blogosphere. Guess I'll have to add a link to there. Saw that they are already turning down sites for listing. Also interesting that my blog buddy Joshua Claybourn is moderator for "Pundits", my home/category for now.

Posted by MarcV, 4:37 PM link

I felt a little guilty last night about the post Last Man Standing. The "post muse" has not been very active in me lately, so I have been checking out other sites. I try not to troll and steal other posts, but the column on the hand-a-thoner was just too good to pass up. Yes, I did credit Orrin Judd with the post, but there was still something that did not feel quite right about it.

In an attempt to assuage my conscience, I have provided a link to Brothers Judd, and put them in the rarefied air of the Blog Titans list. That site is consistently chock full of links to good articles and viewpoints. I don't know how he has time for it, but I'll enjoy it when I can. He helps to fill a blogging void, since I am no longer on the deck of the Clueless. The Judd site helps feed my political "jones", and I don't have to suffer through the denBeste view of theology.

I have also included a link for Girl on the Right. She has a great attitude and is a good post-er on current events (and a big fan of the First Lady).

Can a nice & quite capable girl in her 20's be a registered republican and STILL sleep at night? I haven't missed a wink yet.

I would say yes and amen - keep on bloggin'! If you haven't checked out these fine folks, show them some love and click on over.

Posted by MarcV, 9:48 AM link

Laws and Prevention
Jonah Goldberg at NRO had what looked to be another rant on Europeans (not necessarily a bad thing), but he went on to some philosophy about law. He was describing a debate on a Bill Moyer's show about the European predilection for talk/dipomacy vs. the US use of force:

There are very "sophisticated" people who believe that the U.N. Charter and a stack of EU regulations are what kept the peace for the last 50 years. And there are very "simplistic" people who think the arsenal of democracy — a.k.a. the Seventh Fleet, the 101st airborne, and the Marine Corps — had a little more to do with it. It's the difference between thinking the law keeps criminals from doing bad things and believing the sheriff keeps criminals from doing bad things.

This is vitally important to keep in mind as the shrieking from Europe over a war with Iraq intensifies. If we go to war with Iraq, the Europeans will shudder at our belligerence as if we'd used a cheese knife on a piece of fish. They will argue that the European way and the international system can solve everything without violence. And they will simply be wrong, but sophisticatedly so.

Have we tried diplomacy, as well as war with Iraq, and where are we now? We have the benefit of hindsight from the first Gulf War, with many still wishing we had finished the job and relieved Saddam of breathing freely.

We also hear the cry that Iraq is a sovereign nation, and you just can't waltz in there with your smart bombs unless they really deserve it. Europeans want so much to have some type of world court where they can decide on "important" matters and leave the US as the policeman to take care of fights that their meager armed forces cannot handle. I pray that we can keep saying no to the ICC and any use of American troops to the UN without our elected officials consent.

We can talk until we are red in the face, but the people out there who intend to do us harm are not interested in talking us to death, just bleeding us to death. They respect force, because force is the only thing that will stop them. Law without punishment is just wasted hot air and the paper used to write the regulations.

I believe we are at the end of the point of diplomacy with Iraq being effective. Afghanistan was the warm-up, but Iraq will be the test. Do we walk the walk and show the rest of the world, especially the Arabs, that we will not tolerate terrorism? I hope we could at least show other countries the consequences of supporting terrorists. While other countries might not like our interpretation of the law, we must keep in focus our duty to preserve the USA for future generations. That may include preventative measures.

Christians have Jesus' "law" written on their hearts, with the Judge (and Sheriff) waiting in Heaven. We break the law, yet sometimes we do not have a full appreciation of the consequences. What is our prevention? The Holy Spirit, who can guide us in each thought we make, each step we take, and each page we turn in God's Word, seeking His will. Those preventative measures that the Lord sometimes gives us can be painful, but He wouldn't do it unless He loved us, otherwise we would just be on our own (now that's a scary thought!).

Posted by MarcV, 9:34 AM link

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