I wish I could say that I’ve decided to take the time I normally spend online meditating or studying the Bible or reading sophisticated non-fiction or something, but the truth is just that my laptop fan is dead, so I’m sending it in for repairs… expect me to return about a week later.

Therefore, I’ll be (largely) offline starting probably Saturday or so.

Perhaps I’ll read my micro-ec textbook….

[Cross-posted on Xanga too]

My heart aches with longing newly released as I read.

 

O Kara, Hailey, i miss the well-hid flame of your soul-poesy.

 

but Kara, if you are not a poet and will not be, then what am i? a mere rhymester, i suppose, or perhaps—at most—a wordsmith, which makes me very sad.

 

i am as made.

Today I read a post by Gunner, my former RD at Master’s, about digging for gold in God’s Word.

I have two (sad) observations in response to that post, and a plea. Yes, a plea. First, the observations.

I’ve been a missionary kid for, well, my entire life, even counting the time between conception and birth. I’ve been in lots and lots of church services and heard more sermons than I could possibly count. But it is difficult for me to remember the few sermons that practiced what he recommends —digging for God’s deeper insights and the intricate details of the Word— when I remember all the “insightful teachers” who simply skimmed off the top, as he puts it. I have very rarely been around when gold was struck. And I’ve never seen anything that resembled a gold rush.

That’s probably why I don’t know how to dig for gold myself, what to expect, or when to expect it. I can tell when it’s only mica flakes or “salted” gold being extracted, to some extent, because I have a highly critical mind, but all too often I even let that slide or fail to notice. And in my own studies, while I’m aware that I skim and hardly ever strike gold, I’m not sure what to do about it. I feel mostly powerless.

Following the (admittedly uninspired) advice of Nick Malik’s recent post on not trying to make people both think and change at the same time, I’d like to ask —no, make that plead— for some “pre-thunk” thoughts to help the process of change. What specific things need to change in my life or habits (or your life or habits, or…) to dig for gold? It’s not enough to simply say, “It’s easy, just start digging” when I’ve been trying to dig for five or six years now. “Just try harder” won’t cut it either — I have OCD1, so I’m practically the prince of trying futilely harder. Perhaps “have patience” is closer, but it isn’t very encouraging or very specific, and I don’t think that’s really quite what Gunner has in mind here. After all, he says at the end of his post, “Don’t leave the riches of Scripture to the professors and the professionals.  Simply read it, study it, memorize it, and contemplate it, and God in His mercy will shed its light broadly in your mind and heart.”

Simply. Yes.

It’s simple once you get it, but I don’t get it, and though I’ve made some progress over the years, I never quite have gotten it.



1I will virtually guarantee that you do not have OCD. Trust me. You may have a few weird habits. That’s not the same as OCD. Not even close.

For quite some time I’ve been reading Judah’s blog at Kineti L’Tziyon, and I very much appreciate his balanced but passionate views on Torah, especially as its commandments apply to believers in HaMashiach* (Jesus of Nazareth). In particular, he’s willing to admit that he doesn’t know everything, and that his theology is not all quite as tidily sorted out as he’d like. Since my theology isn’t as tidily sorted out as I’d like, either, this strikes a chord.

What’s more, both he and I are .NET developers. (In point of fact, I found his blog from his profile on CodeProject.) Though he specializes in C# and I in (gasp! the horror!) VB, we still get along: I can write C# fairly well, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s at least conversant in VB.

So when I read that he was starting a big long ambitious project to map the traditional 613 commandments in Torah (using C# and a tool called GraphViz), I got all excited, and started plotting how I could get a piece of the action. As it happened, Judah was open to the idea of putting the project on CodePlex, so once it was up, I joined and began making changes (hint: scroll to the bottom to see the small piece I’ve done, or just go to the project’s homepage at commandments.codeplex.com for a sampling). My first SVN commit was this last Saturday, and I plan to be adding a commandment or so each week, along with occasional changes to the code proper.

Hopefully, this will enable Judah and I to finish up in something less than the originally foreseen year and a quarter.😉

And if anyone else wants to join in, there’s still lots of room! You do need to be able to write at least a little C# code, although it cannot be said that the coding side of it is all that complicated, and you need to be able to work SVN. If that describes you, come on in, the water’s fine!

 

 

*Note: I am not an expert in Hebrew – far from it – but to the best of my knowledge that is how one can, or might, or does, or at times in the past has, spelt that particular title, which translates to “The Anointed One”.

So a while ago (over a month, actually: the beginning of July), Facebook disabled my account for some reason. I’m not sure why, although I do have some ideas – such as one of my statuses being judged offensive or dangerous (it wasn’t, but oh well), a bug in one of my third-party programs or scripts, or just some random vandal coming along and flagging me for no reason. I do wish Facebook would tell me why they disabled me, or at least respond to my emails: I’ve emailed them at least half a dozen times, and I think various friends have also sent in a few, but I haven’t heard peep one from them. Facebook’s customer service – well, it would shame the bureaucracy of the United Soviet Socialist Republics, in my humble opinion.

Probably the most annoying thing about the whole affair is how helpless Facebook makes me feel. They won’t talk to me at all, much less tell me what I did wrong, much less give me another chance. I can see that I could have done all kinds of things that would technically be against the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and in point of fact I know of at least one technical violation, some months ago, despite my best efforts to keep my nose clean. (If you want to know, I logged on to someone else’s account, with their strong encouragement and in ignorance of the provisions against that, and played around for a few hours total.) Also, there’s a post on Get Satisfaction that lays out the sorts of things that usually get people banned or temporarily disabled, and the last item on the list was essentially “No Reason” – that’s right, Facebook can and does sometimes disable people for no reason at all. Technically, as in my case and likely in the case of 95+% of their users, they might have a reason, but just not know about it yet. Is that really just, or is it some kind of Inquisition-like “well, we don’t yet know what you’ve done wrong, but we’re sure we’ll be able to find something” system?

And finally, I’m especially helpless because Facebook has a monopoly in its niche – there is no other service (at least, that I know of) that has so many of my friends using it and so many useful features. Xanga, for example, has some of my friends, perhaps half a dozen, perhaps more. But it’s hard for me to find them, and it’s not really set up for the sorts of things Facebook excels at. No one on Xanga updates their pulses with anything like the sorts of stuff you see on Facebook. And Xanga photo albums just aren’t the same as Facebook’s, even though they’re technically almost as good. It’s just the way things have worked out.

“Dear Lazyweb,

Do you know of a way I can tell Facebook to go jump in a lake, without losing track of all my friends?

Sincerely,
Nathan Tuggy, ID#645503444, aka nathantuggy

I went to college, in essence, to have a good time.

But not just any old good time — no, I wanted to have a godly, extravagant good time that would teach me how to relate to others. So I chose Master’s, as being creationist (about which point I was perhaps excessively firm; I don’t know, though, as I’ve never attended a school that was not creationist), fun, extravagant (as all my friends still attending can attest, and still more those who have dropped out), and godly.

Socialization, in other words, is what I wanted, in a fairly safe place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tonight I was looking at a sibling’s post on a personality type forum (yes, there’s one for everything, isn’t there!) and noticed an interesting-looking link in someone’s signature.

Not only did it look interesting, it was interesting. So interesting was it that I got into the act with a so-called "Johari window", and added the further Nohari window as well. These two tools are used to help someone – in this case, me – figure out their strengths and weaknesses. I selected six words that I think describe me in each one, but the main power of these techniques is in what other people say about you.

Could you please go there and help me out by picking 5-6 words from each list? Thanks.

I needed to get this out of my system and written down. I’m not sure how much of this, if any, will make sense to anyone else, however; it’s just jottings-down of my reactions to and understanding of Dr. MacArthur’s sermon on the doctrine of Effectual Grace. (I said I needed to blog on this nearly two months ago, and that is the other reason this comes up now.) I’ve only recently come to grips with these truths, and they’re still a bit hard to nail down. Hopefully these ideas will be as helpful to others as they have been to me.

 

Like a court summons, God calls us into His presence, and we are unable to refuse. Unlike an earthly court, however, we are not called in for the purpose of condemnation, but of pardon. Predestination leads inevitably to this summons, and this summons brings us, still without chance of failure, to justification (Romans 8:30). And then through sanctification we are brought to glorification, in the same inexorable fashion.

I was going to say that, despite all this, no one is saved against their will, but I find that I cannot, at least if I am interpreting Romans 9:16 and similar passages aright. It is God’s power that makes a man even willing to believe and be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9 with I John 3:23). This was rather frustrating to me, to tell the truth, and I still feel that there must be some passage somewhere that gives the other half of the story. I just can’t find it.

Still, it is not merely that God’s power makes a man willing, it is God’s power that saves. Just look at Ephesians 2:1-5: we were dead. Dead people aren’t willing to do anything, dead people aren’t able to do anything, dead people are just — well, John White said it better than I can: “Oh, don’t be silly! Dead’s dead.” (Gaal the Conqueror, pg. 299) But God made us alive through His power.

And because it is God’s power that saves a man, it is not my responsibility to be cool, or to talk well. Just to be faithful. And God will save those He has chosen.

That’s nice. You know?

OK, so I know I intended to post about Dr. MacArthur’s sermon. But just now I was listening to Micah Lugg’s sermon from SP’08, and that was even more relevant, so I’m postponing the earlier one again.

I’m not really sorry, truth to tell. This is so important to me, and it might be to you too, so I’m just going to get it out there.

Micah preached this sermon last spring as part of Something-or-other Week, where three graduating Bible seniors preach in chapel. Just now, as I was listening to the chapel podcast, it was like I’d never heard it before. (Maybe I never did, actually: my attendance was a bit spotty that week, if I remember correctly.)

Right about 25 minutes in, he starts expositing "let us throw aside every weight", and he’s talking about things we do, songs we listen to, movies we watch, games we play (although he didn’t mention this, he should have). Specifically, things that may not be sinful — get that, they may not be sinful — but that distract us from chasing Christ. For example, just yesterday, I played several hours of generally harmless online games (e.g. Minions). But the problem with that isn’t that it’s sin, but that it takes my mind off Christ, and not just for the time I spend on it. I’m usually unready for service for several hours after I play, or after I watch a movie, or sometimes even after I read a book.

At this point, God’s sense of humor kicks in and He says, "Nathan, are you sure you get this yet?" So what do you think the subject of tonight’s Christmas Eve sermon at my church was? Bingo, following Christ without distraction.

So, I’ve pretty much decided that until further notice, I’m not going to play computer games without some other reason. I’m also going to take a hard look at the books I read. I don’t want to do something for fun that’s keeping me distracted from the God who created pleasure.

21 Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls….

25 The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:21b, 25-27, ESV (emphases mine)

The social gospel is the same as the saving gospel. That is, James here equates the salvation of one’s soul, through the meek and active reception of the Word of God, with the religion that causes one to visit widows and orphans, keep oneself unstained, and bridle one’s tongue.

So, what widows or orphans have you visited in the last month or so?