"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Almost Speechless

What happens when classical education, reason, and logic are no longer required subjects in school and the leftist moonbats are in charge of government education?

You get this:

In His Name

This is the next installment in the series that began with Why I Am Not A Christian.  You can return here to click on the subsequent essays: Two, Three, Four, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10.

Lots of Christian denominations in the breathless "charismatic" wing will go on wild rants about invoking the name of Jesus.  Such rants, er, I guess I mean "sermons" are usually a mile wide and an inch deep.  And since it brings the subject to mind, it usually compares to the practice in many independent congregations to engage in what I call "broken-record" worship.  Now, before someone accuses me of being too critical, let me ask God, right here in front of the witnesses (No, not you JWs) who read this blog, to correct me if what I am about to say is wrong.  I just don't see how taking a little chorus of a song and repeating it over, and over, and over for a thirty or forty minute stretch at 110 decibels is somehow honoring to God.  To me, it invokes images of new age cults engaging in repetitive chants in order to empty their minds and achieve oneness with their navel or whatever.  I'd rather sing some stodgy old hymns that have great and meaningful lyrics that you have to actually think about and tell an important story or attribute of God than to sing the same line, "I am a friend of God" or "Better is one day in Your house" eighty-five times or for thirty minutes, which ever comes first.

If that isn't bad enough, imagine a preacher who spends 40 minutes talking about what the five smooth stones were saying to each other in David's pouch about which one of them get's to kill Goliath.  No, my imagination isn't good enough to come up with a whopper like that.  I remember being stunned by being surrounded by people shouting "Hallelujah!" and "Preach on!"  and wondering for the life of me what could possibly be edifying about any of this.  The reason it comes to mind over fifteen years later is because of the sheer stupidity and spectacle of it.  It wasn't like I walked out of that service (probably long before he was finished) thinking to myself, "Wow, this is understanding that is going to make such a difference in my Christian walk."

In a world that is hurting for answers, the last thing they need is mindless nonsense being associated with the Real God.  People need to hear the evidence for why they can trust the Bible.  They need to hear reasonable answers to skeptics about the Bible being just a bunch of myths invented to enslave people to a religious system.  People need to know that science doesn't conflict with anything the Bible says about history or anything else it addresses.  Real advances in the hard sciences show that the Bible can indeed be trusted.  There are facts and evidence that explain why the universe appears to be so old while the Bible claims an age of about 6,000 years.  People should have the opportunity to hear the logical, systematic explanations for why the atheist position isn't just illogical, but downright stupid.  By the way, I distinguish between atheists who don't really care about the argument, versus those who are militant in their religious fervor against God.

There are many, but not all of those associated with charismatic congregations who have this idea that if they simply attach the name of Jesus to whatever they are doing, and it seems like a good thing, God will bless, condone and sanctify it.  This stems from a serious misunderstanding of what it means from the ancient Biblical concept of "in My name."  We need to have the proper understanding of the phrase.

From the time Yeshua inaugurated His ministry and chose His disciples it was clear that he was no ordinary Rabbi.  But the modern, western, Christianized mind should never make the mistake of thinking that He did not teach in the exact same manner as all the sages who came before Him.  In case you haven't been keeping up with this series, let me pause here to fill in some things and repeat some things because they are well worth making clear.  There are Rabbis and there are Sages.  Sages were the top Rabbis.  They weren't appointed by anyone (unless you want to count the Holy Spirit).  They reached their status because they were recognized by the people as exceptional Torah scholars who practiced what they preached.  Just as a catholic nun would hold up Mother Teresa as a standard for piety and devoutness, a sage was the Rabbi everybody was hoping would be willing to take you on as a disciple, because everybody around knew that this guy had the answers and lived out everything that he preached.  The thing that probably shocks the mind of a modern westerner is the fact that when a Rabbi took you on as a disciple -- from the time of Noah until maybe a thousand years ago, the disciple lived with their Rabbi or Master.  It was nothing new or weird or different that the disciples of Yeshua of Nazareth spent all of their time with the Master.  It was a twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week deal.  They slept in the same houses, they ate all their meals together.  Every waking moment was spent learning how to do everything exactly the way their Master did it and memorizing the words that He spoke. Keeping in mind that you first had to have memorized the Torah and pretty much the Prophets and the Psalms.

That is such a foreign concept to modern people.  Imagine living and learning in such constant closeness that the only things you don't do together are bathing and defacating.  Sorry if that seems too graphic for you, but I want to be faithful to the facts.  No wonder that the gospels tell us that Yeshua spent a lot of time finding a solitary place to pray. So, what does this have to do with the point about "in My name?"

In order for anyone to have any respect for a man invoking the phrase, "in the name of . . ." the listeners would have to know that the person was a disciple in good standing of the Rabbi whose name they were using for authority.  Otherwise, what you were saying had no more importance than the sound of a chicken clucking.  Today, there are people in the churches who use the name Jesus as if there is some kind of celestial voice recognition software floating in the ethersphere and if you just say that name you get some kind of spiritual respect.  But we are given a wonderful real event in the book of Acts which demonstrates that such would be faulty thinking.

In Acts 19, Paul has come to Ephesus, a city in western Turkey and greatly devoted to the worship of Artemis.  Paul used the synagogue as his local base of operations, reasoning from the Scriptures about Messiah with the local Jews who had settled there after the big Babylonian diaspora.  Adonai was giving credence to Paul's message by performing extraordinary miracles through his hands.  Knowledge of this activity naturally spread through the area to the point that even some Jewish exorcists were willing to try using the name of Yeshua "whom Paul preaches."  Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva tried to do this to a man who was possessed by a demon, and with disastrous results.  The demon says to these pretenders, "I recognize Yeshua, and I even know about Paul, but who are you?"  Then this demon-possessed man beats these guys badly enough to send them running, naked and bleeding.

Before I move on, please note the wording by the demon.  "I recognize . . ."  This isn't a casual phrase.  The demon is acknowledging Yeshua's identity in the same way that the demon in the man at the Capernaum synagogue cried out, "I know who you are -- the Holy One of God." (Luke 4:34)  This title is one repeatedly used in the book of Isaiah to refer to the God of Israel.  It doesn't easily translate from the Hebrew because there is no equivalent word "of."  English translators stick "of" in there to make it read better for us, but those Jews in the synagogue on that day heard a demon recognize that they were all standing in the presence of God Almighty.  They all knew what it meant and they were amazed at His power and authority.

Back to Acts 19: Let me give you an analogy.  Let's say a bunch of thugs take over a small town.  A couple of guys from the neighboring town decide to take it upon themselves to go save those poor people from this oppression.  They are outnumbered and out-gunned, but they decide to try to look official and when they ride into town they even announce themselves as being there "in the name of the Law."  Problem is; the thugs already know who are and are not the duly appointed law men in the land and they know that these guys are just playing vigilantes.  The thugs simply make sport of these guys and send them off wounded.  The thugs know that they can get away with this because those guys lacked both the power and authority to get the job done.

There is this passage in Matthew 7 that always bothered me when I was calling myself a Christian.  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"   Matthew 7:23

What law was he talking about?  He seems to be clearly saying that invoking his name and even doing very good things and even miraculous things is not good enough if I am practicing lawlessness.  Which laws?  Who's laws?

Problem was, I hadn't yet learned to take the Bible as a whole.  The answer was right there all along.  Not even in another book or epistle, but in the very same sermon that the Master was giving at the time.  All I had to do was go back to chapter 5 of Matthew, early in this sermon.  "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law . . ."  Matthew 5:17  So, how do we define those who practice lawlessness?  Those who deny that we need to keep Torah.  If I were to try to define Matthew 7:23 as referring to any other law and especially man-made law, the verse would not just be meaningless, it would be stupid.

By coming to the understanding of Scripture as a cohesive whole, I can see that in order to legitimately operate in the authority of God, I have to follow His rules and guidelines.  Notice in Matt 7:23 the assumption is that, come the judgment, there will be such people.  I don't want to be one of them.  I would rather risk having God say to me at the judgment, "That was nice of you to observe and keep all those commandments and teachings of Mine, but it really wasn't necessary."  rather than hear Him say, "You've got no excuse.  I think I made myself pretty clear  in that sermon on the mount, and in Luke 16:17 and in plenty of other places in My Word."

Choose carefully.  Choose wisely.

In the next installment, we will ponder the meaning of Yeshua's sinlessness.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oil of Madness

Quick.  Which country in the world has the most oil beneath it's land and territorial waters?

Which country in the world has enough coal for generating very affordable electricity for the next 200 or more years?

Which country in the whole world has not built a single nuclear reactor for generating power in over thirty years while many other nations produce as much as 90% of their electricity that way with no safety problems?

Yep.  Same country.

Which country in the entire world has such a perfect safety record with nuclear power at sea for over half a century, that all of its aircraft carriers, submarines, and now cruisers and destroyers are all being run on nuclear power?

Yep.  Same country.

Source article here.

If you think that "Big Oil" is to blame for you not being able to afford fuel at the pump, you probably also believe that movie actors want to see the prices at the box office get ridiculously expensive as well.

If you believe that it makes sense to shut down all drilling and oil recovery in all the coastal waters of the U.S. because of one rig exploding, you probably think it's a good idea to recall all cars made by GM because one had a mechanical failure that caused an accident.

You probably also believe that carbon dioxide causes earth's atmosphere to heat up.

You probably also believe that your plants understand you when you talk.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Upset The Jews?

In Acts chapter 22 we have the scene of Paul's last time of making a public statement before becoming a prisoner of Rome until his death.  His arrest was the result of the Roman military commander's fear that an insurrection or riot was breaking out.  It would be his head that would roll if order were not restored quickly.  What exactly caused the uproar?  It was assumed that Paul had brought uncircumcised gentiles into the area of the Temple forbidden to them by Torah.  Why was Paul there?  To prove that the rumors about him teaching against obeying Torah were unfounded and untrue.  Keep that firmly in mind.  A second thing you need to consider is the fact that the body of believers led by Peter and James and the other Apostles had stayed in Jerusalem and were enjoying much success bringing more and more fellow Jews into the congregation of believers in Messiah.  They wouldn't have been able to do that if they were preaching that Torah was no longer in effect.  Quite the opposite.  The Sanhedrin would have had the support of the people in dragging the Apostle out of the gates and stoning them to death.

Remember, it was Paul's missionary efforts to the Gentiles and the revelation of the Holy Spirit that adult male Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in order to be saved that had the die-hard Judaizers in an uproar.  Such men were insisting that, according to their interpretations and their dictates that salvation came according to what they considered the right way.  Stop and think.  If the Apostles in Jerusalem were teaching people that Torah had become void, all the Jewish leaders and the people would have been after them to destroy them.  Why did they only go after Paul?

Now that Paul has been arrested, he appeals to his Roman citizenship to have the commander of the Roman cohort to let him speak in his defense to the Jews who have attacked him.  Let us examine carefully this speech to the Jews and make sure we are clear about what it is that makes them angry.

"Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you."  And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly  according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today.  And I persecuted this Way [this Way being belief in the Messiah, the Pharisee from Nazareth] to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify.  From them I also received letters  to the brethren [Jews living outside the Israeli territory], and started off  for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.  And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'  And I answered, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And He said to me, I am Yeshua the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.'

Anybody start screaming yet?  No.  Remember now, this crowd is full of men who were present to hear Yeshua of Nazareth with their own ears and beheld all the events regarding His death.  They no doubt knew about the miracles.  They no doubt knew all the reports by people who had seen the man after His resurrection.  Not a man in this crowd who was listening to Paul speak could shout out that he was lying.  Nobody in this crowd could accuse Paul of advocating belief in a false prophet, or a Torah breaker.  They remained silent.

Paul was relating to this crowd that several years back,  Yeshua [Jesus] appeared to Paul and struck him blind and made it abundantly clear that he was claiming Paul for His own.  I have to stop and marvel at this point.  If Yeshua's main point was about bringing about a whole new religious system and way of thinking, why in the world would he choose Paul to be the guy who pens most of the New Testament?  Paul: an intellectual Torah scholar and student of Gamaliel who was so influential with the Sanhedrin that they put him in charge of hunting down those who were preaching about this Yeshua the Nazarene.  Paul was a man who would end up writing his letters to the believers from prison, quoting Scripture because it was all in his head.

I want you to take special care to think about this next verse.  You don't get to just read over it and go, "well, isn't that nice."

Acts 22:12:  "And a certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there."

Ananias was a man who kept Torah.  He kept Torah so well that all of his friends and neighbors were willing and ready to say that, "Hey, that Ananias guy, he's the real thing.  He keeps the Torah.  He's a Holy man."  Paul was using Ananias as a known standard.  Paul could have as much as said the following:   "The way we know that he's a Holy man is not because he has some free-floating, amorphous concept of loving his neighbor. He keeps the knowable, measureable standard of Torah.  I know the Law and you know the Law and if anything I am saying isn't true, let someone come forward and prove me wrong."

Let's not just gloss over this point as if it has little weight in the story.  If every word of Scripture is supposed to be breathed out by the God of the universe, we should think about what makes the choice of words important.  Why did God decide that these particular details are important for us to know?  Paul defends himself before all of these Jews by making a point that he is just as zealous for Torah as those who are trying to find reason to kill him.  He makes the point that he has had an encounter with the very entity whom he was persecuting.  At this point in time, no one has been able to deny the events of just a few years earlier regarding the Nazarene, the only remaining sticking point for some of the Jews was whether or not followers of the one they proclaimed as Messiah were advocating breaking from Torah, because on that point alone they would put down any follower of Yeshua of Nazareth and it would give credence to the idea that Yeshua was a false prophet as described in Deuteronomy 13.

Keep in mind that Paul's whole purpose in going to the Temple was to disprove the rumor that he was advocating any departure from Torah.  He also makes the point that the man who was sent to restore his sight and instruct him on what to do next was also considered a righteous man based on keeping the Torah.  The problem arises because those who still didn't accept the proofs that Yeshua was the Messiah wanted any evidence they could that would discredit this "Way."  Also keep in mind that the detractors couldn't find any fault with the believers who remained in Jerusalem, and their really big problem was due to this idea that Paul was taking the message of conversion to the Gentiles.  In fact, that point was where things got ugly.

"And He [God, Messiah] said to me, 'Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" And they listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!"  Acts 22:21-22

They listened to him "up to this statement, . . ."  Notice that they couldn't argue with anything else that he said.  Paul's "crime" in the eyes of these Jews was not that he was violating, nor was he advocating that anyone violate Torah, but that he was letting them know that if they didn't want to believe in God's one and only Messiah, then the Gentiles would be given the opportunity to repent, receive salvation and learn Torah.  Such a concept was outrageous to "The Chosen" ones.  Centuries of tradition was being turned on its head.  As long as anyone could remember, Gentiles who wanted to become followers of God needed to come to the devout Jews to learn the ways of God, be circumcised and then baptized.  But now Paul was correcting their bad assumptions, (which he also held until his Damascus road experience).  Just like the children of Abraham who walked out of Egypt, God would save His children from bondage first, and then out of gratitude, they would learn His ways (Torah).

Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus The Christ) is inseparable from His Word, the Torah.  John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  You can't have one without the other.  You can lift a verse out of one of Paul's letters to try and make it sound like believers don't have to keep Torah, but in so doing, you do violence to the rest of Scripture.  We do well to remember that we are very imperfect human beings, and that if our understanding of a passage doesn't harmonize with all the other passages, it is we who are in error.  There are not two Gods.  There is not a God of the Old Testament and then a different God of the New Testament.  Those who think so have merely a god of their own understanding, which is no god at all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Planting

Feeling good.  Feeling fine.  Spring is here and I get to get some sun.  I spent most of the day yesterday in shorts and no shirt, running around the yard doing various things.  We had 100 straw bales delivered two weeks ago and they are ready for planting.  We have our tomato starts and some more Swiss chard and other cruciferous types.  I've got some more strawberries; six more plants.  Most of the ones we had from last year wintered over nicely

Straw bales arranged for planting

I even got a couple of grape vines from the feed store and I'm going to plant them along the driveway.  I will need to put up a fence rail there for them. I got the only two vines left at the store.  One is Concord and the other is Fredonia.  Fredonia. Reminds me of the Marx brothers movie, "Duck Soup," and the mythical country of  Freedonia.

This time we doubled the straw bales side by side to achieve more stability.  Only one little row at the back is still single.  I also kept a couple of bales for the backyard for more herbs.  Then two more bales went under the porch for alternate bedding for the chickens.  Speaking of chickens, there are dandelions and other wild edible greens that are busting out all over and the chickens are loving it.  I will snatch up handfuls of dandelion and feed them through the wire.  I wish I could still let them free to eat what they wanted to, but I have to protect my plants, so we are back to bringing the food to them.  As I was digging out my corn and bean area I must have gathered a dozen or more grubs which I fed to the chickens and, of course, that is like candy to a little kid.
Leafy walkways that will smother the weeds

This season I am doing much better with the walk areas by piling on the leaves in a very thick fashion.  They will smother the grass and other weeds and as they decompose they will help hold in even more moisture between the bales and further condition the soil for next year.  The other advantage in doubling the bales is that we can do more of the companion gardening.  Twyla has been reading up on it and we will be planting marigolds with the tomatoes. I'll post more about that after we get more things planted.

I also plan to get some good things done along the steep slope in the back yard to have more things planted in the next few days.  I still have a couple of berry plants that were given to us by an English woman in North Carolina.  I planted a McIntosh and a Gala apple tree in the two front corners of the property and it is so nice to see the little green buds starting to sprout.

Even though it means lots of hard work for the coming days, I'm really excited about getting it done and seeing all of these things growing.  We went out to dinner with some local folks who are also big into gardening and we were talking about how there just is no comparison between the stuff you pick fresh out of your own garden versus the stuff from the supermarket. You have no idea how many days or even weeks that produce has been in transit or sitting in a warehouse or distribution center somewhere.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I've shared one of my own homegrown tomatoes with someone who claimed to not like tomatoes, only to hear them say with surprise, "You mean THAT's what a tomato is supposed to taste like?!  Wow!"  And the same is true for lettuce, spinach, cabbage, peas, beans, and corn.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going Down

In the James Cameron [*spit*] movie "Titanic," there is this great scene that illustrates a point about our current economic situation.  The iceberg is struck.  Because of the glancing blow, the more primitive metallurgy that resulted in brittle steel of the hull, a long gash was ripped across three of the main watertight compartment sections of the front of the ship. With the first three main sections rapidly filling with water, the engineer/ship designer, played by Victor Garber, lays out the side view plans of the ship to show the captain that there is no doubt that the ship is going down and there is absolutely no way to stop it.  It may take an hour or so for the ship to disappear below the waves, but no amount of bilge pumping or anything else is going to stop the inevitable.

That's what is happening with our economy.

Joe Huffman has done the scaling down of the math for us to put it in a way that most Americans who would rather be distracted by the idiot box can understand.  Well, at least I hope so.  Of course, I'm not talking about the "Hopey, Changey" drones who believe that government can produce actual wealth.  Washington will simply tickle the unicorns they have behind the White House to produce streams of rainbow skittles that we can sell to the Chinese.

Here is the example that Joe provides us:

It is predicted the Federal budget deficit will reach $1.65 trillion this year with a $14.1 trillion debt and about $2.1 trillion in income. Yet the House cannot reach agreement on spending cuts. The House Republicans want to only cut $60 billion in spending and the Democrats only want to cut spending $6.5 billion. If you were to scale this down into numbers people might be able to relate to it would look like the following.

If your family income were $50,000 then:

•Family debt is $335,700 
•Family deficit is $39,300 (spending is $89,300/year) 
•The head of household wants to cut $1,430 in yearly spending 
•The spouse wants to cut $154.80 in yearly spending 
The children should cut up the credit cards and sell everything that isn’t the bare minimum needed for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and communication. If the debt still isn’t being paid down they should consider selling their parents organs.—Joe

The RINO Speaker of the House, John Boehner, along with the rest of the Republican leadership is fiddling while Rome burns, or they've chosen to go along with the Cloward/Piven strategy and are hoping to gain positions of power in the new Socialist Totalitarian state that is being planned.  Either way, we are screwed.  You had better have lots of hard assets, tools, food, and other tangible things to survive the economic melt down.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Was Paul Crazy?

This is post number nine in the series: Why I Am Not A Christian.

Outside of those laws that directly pertain to Temple service and worship by the priesthood (Kohanim), you really can't point to any of Adonai's laws in Torah and say that it makes no sense to follow them, or that by following them you will not be upholding the two greatest commandments, and again, I point to what the Master Himself said in Matthew 5:17-19:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.  For truly I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Instead of seeking out the opinions of people who lived hundreds or thousands of years after the resurrection of Yeshua, doesn't it make more sense to search the Scriptures to find the correct view on how to obey God's commands?  If you are a Christian who claims to believe in the authority of Scripture as inspired directly by the Holy Spirit, should you not then read the New Testament and take its instruction as having more weight and authority than any church tradition?  I find it rather ironic that there are Protestant churches who only exist because Martin Luther said that his conscience was held captive by the Scripture, which gave rise to the Latin phrase: Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria. (by faith alone, by Scripture alone, to God alone be the Glory),  but all that really served to do was allow a breaking away from the horribly corrupt Roman Catholic tyranny.  As Luther continued on, he fomented horrendous hatred against the Jews and gave rise to the concept of "replacement theology."  The new Protestant church beginning with the Anglicans or Church of England kept the vast majority of traditions of pagan origin.  Maybe some of the clergy understood what they were doing wrong, but the churches had all pretty much become political structures with immense power and most of the masses simply did not question such authority.

We simply refer to it as the book of Acts.  Its complete name is the "Acts of the Apostles."  I've heard more than a couple of people say it should more properly be called the "Acts of the Holy Spirit," and I agree with that sentiment.  Luke, the author of the gospel that bears his name, was a careful and thoughtful historian.  No one in any of the sciences dealing with history or archaeology has ever found a flaw in any of Luke's work, but then what would you expect from someone writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit?  The last time I referenced Acts was in regard to the misunderstanding I often encounter about the tenth chapter, as if that was to tell us that believers no longer had to worry about the dietary laws of Torah.  Regarding Acts chapter fifteen I pointed out that the elders and Apostles simply assumed that the new converts from the gentiles would begin learning how to obey Torah.  It was rather shocking to their system that gentiles could have received the Holy Spirit without first learning Torah and engaging in circumcision and ritual baptism, but the Holy Spirit made it obvious that they could be received first and learn later, just like what happened to the people at Mt. Sinai in Exodus.  In other words, the leaders of this new body of believers in Messiah had to reach back for the lesson that had been given in Torah and realize that the precedent had already been set.  God wants sincere seekers and believers who are willing to learn His ways, rather than those who think they already know.

Therefore, with the idea in mind that we should look to the example and words of those who actually walked with and were disciples of the Master, let's look at what the 21st chapter of Acts has to tell us.  At this point in time,  Paul finally got back to Jerusalem after travelling around and evangelizing and he reports to the elders of the congregation, apparently led by James.  This account can be found in Acts 21:17-26.  This is an event that you just won't hear preached about from any Christian pulpit, because what it really teaches just throws a monkey wrench in the typical Christian interpretation of how we are to live.  I'm going to paraphrase this in plain modern English.

Paul returns after what might be a couple of years of travelling around to the synagogues.  This is well after the leadership of the body of believers in Messiah or "the people of The Way" have swollen in numbers to several thousand, having observed the Holy Spirit perfoming miracle after miracle through these men and women who walked with Yeshua.  The Temple is still standing, but the Talmud records ( I love a hostile witness proving my case), that ever since they crucified that troublemaker from Nazareth, the scarlet cord that they cut from the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement no longer turns white as a sign that God has accepted this offering.  The doors to the Temple swing open by themselves, and disturbing voices will continue to be heard until the Temple finally is destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.  The Sanhedrin and other skeptical Jewish leaders are probably beside themselves because it's even worse now than it was when the upstart from Galilee was walking around.  This body of believers is an enigma to everyone outside of belief in Messiah.  These believers in the Nazarene continue to come worship and pray in the Temple and even bring sacrifices and offerings.   . . . .  .  er, . . . uh . . . .  what?   Yeah, what it says.

Luke writing:  "And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And now the following day Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present.  And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many  thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law [Torah]  ----   [Yep, that's right.  Go check your own translation.]   ----  and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs."   Acts 21:17-21

Read it again and let it sink in.  Does it sound like they think this is a good thing?  If there is any question in your mind, let's continue on in the text, and let the text, the Words of the Holy Spirit, speak for themselves.

"What, then, is to be done?  They will certainly hear that you have come.  Therefore do this that we tell you.  We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law [Torah]."   Acts 21:22-24

And Paul did exactly as he was told.  Yep.  That Paul.  The guy who single handedly wrote almost half of the New Testament.  The guy who wrote the letter to the Romans, which gets twisted into whatever meaning any particular preacher wants to give it by lifting select verses out of context.  Notice that Paul didn't reply to them by saying, "Wait a minute, you guys.  You've got it all wrong.  We no longer have to worry about all that stuff.  We are now under grace and don't have to worry about keeping the Law."   Is that what Paul said?  No.  So we need to stop and think.  We need to make up our minds on this issue.  Was Paul schizophrenic?   Was he crazy?  If he was, then we should just forget all this stuff about wanting to be disciples of this Jewish Messiah, because this religion makes no sense.

I will choose a better way.  I will choose to believe that the Scripture is right in all that it says and that I need to correct my human, fallible thinking by conforming my thoughts to Scripture.

Now, as if that wasn't enough to make the case for Torah observance, the story continues.  Paul goes to carry out the very thing that will prove that he is also zealous for the Law and it creates an uproar in the Temple because those who accuse him of breaking the Law and teaching the same, are there assuming that he has brought uncircumcised men into the Temple area beyond the court of the Gentiles.  Paul is arrested for his own protection and to prevent a riot.  Asking for an opportunity to speak to the crowd, Paul appeals to them on the basis of having always been a Torah observant Jew, "educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today."  Acts 22:3  

Paul doesn't take this opportunity while under Roman guard to tell the Jews that Torah observance is no longer important now that Messiah has shed His blood.  On the contrary, he appeals to his own zealousness for Torah and to correct the misconception that he would ever condone the breaking of any of the commandments of God in order to have righteous standing before these men to then proclaim the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah.

Let's become mature in our thinking when it comes to understanding Scripture. God is not a God of confusion or capriciousness.  He didn't give us all those commandments only to later on say, "Just kidding."  And you can find nothing, anywhere, in all of the New Testament to prove that the Torah is no longer in effect.  Oh, you can certainly take individual verses out of context to try and make such a case, but you would be engaging in eisegesis, or "reading into" the text what you want to infer.

In the next installment, I hope to bring to light what really upset the Jews and has been twisted to mean something entirely different.  Click on "What Upset The Jews" to go there.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Did God Mean Forever?

This is post number eight in the series: Why I Am Not A Christian.

In my studies and teaching of Biblical apologetics, I was always troubled by the fact that I couldn't reconcile a couple of ideas.  Why did Adonai give these all of these commandments to the Children of Israel and anyone who desired to become a God-fearer, and tell them that they are permanent and eternal?  Why didn't Adonai explain when He gave the Law that these things would only be necessary until Messiah showed up?  Over and over in Scripture we find that when we make a serious error about doctrine, it is because we did not pay careful attention to the wording that God used.  Let's look at some of these verses.

Exodus 12:14  "Now this day [Passover] will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance."

Exodus 12:17  "You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance."

Exodus 12:24  "And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever."

Exodus 27:21  "In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel."

Exodus 28:43  "And they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister  in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him."

Exodus 29:28  "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons as their portion forever from the sons of Israel, for it is a heave offering; . . ."

Exodus 30:21  "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they may not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations."

Exodus 31:16,17  "So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed."

Leviticus 10:15  ". . . so it shall be a thing perpetually due you and your sons with you, just as the LORD has commanded."

Leviticus 16:29 - 31  "And this shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls, and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; . . . It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute."

Leviticus 23:21  "On this same day [Shavuot/Pentecost] you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations."

Deuteronomy 5:29  "Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!"

Deuteronomy 11:1  "You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments."

Psalm 119:160  "The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting."

Do you notice the words, "eternal; permanent; perpetual; everlasting; forever; always?"  Do we mortal human beings somehow think that we understand better than God Himself?  Was poor old God confused about the meaning of those words?  Did He not think that it might seem inconsistent to say one thing now and then later say something else?  Was Jesus confused about His own mission and about the Law that God had given through Moses?  If God meant for us to disregard all of His laws, commandments, statutes, and ordinances as stated in the Torah once Messiah came, why didn't He just put that little addendum in all of those statements?  Why not say, "This is what you are to do until Messiah comes"?

Even after the first destruction of the Temple and the displacement of the Jews, none of the prophets or people of God believed that God's Laws had changed or become void.  God had actually foretold that punishment would come for disobeying His commnands.  When the people repented and returned to Torah, the blessings returned.  But it wasn't complete repentence, at least not on a national scale, and so God did exactly what He said He would and multiplied the same punishment sevenfold, which is why Israel did not become a nation again until May 18, 1948; the exact day that God said it would happen. (You have to do the math and convert from God's calendar to our present Gregorian calendar, but it works out exactly.)  Thus proving that He never changed His mind about anything He said in the Torah.

 When Yeshua (Jesus) chastized the religious leaders, it was because they had either created themselves, or learned to use traditions from the Oral Law to get around obeying the clear cut teachings of the Torah.  They had not stopped to question their own motivations and thought carefully about the very thing they recited every day in the "Sh'mah":  "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength."   Yeshua admonished the Jews for ostensibly, and outwardly obeying certain laws in the Torah for the express purpose of violating the spirit of the Law which first and foremost is about loving God and by extension, loving other people.  Let me give you an example.

It's Saturday morning.  I'm doing my best to be a Torah observant believer, so I'm resting on Shabbat, the sabbath.  My unbelieving neighbor knocks on my door and informs me that his wife needs to get to the airport, but his car won't start for some reason and if they can't leave in the next few minutes, she's going to miss her flight. Should I allow some heathen to interfere with my observance of God's Holy day of rest?  Some might say I should politely and lovingly explain to my neighbor that it is Shabbat and I can't be traveling that far and that acting as a taxi service constitutes work; that  I would be sinning against God by breaking His Holy sabbath.  In actuality, I would be committing a greater sin to do such a thing.  My neighbor is in need.  I can fulfill that need, which is a greater good than merely breaking the sabbath.  This was just part of the lesson that Yeshua was teaching in his parable of the "Good Samaritan."

All of the other laws of Torah were given by God to be a framework and edifice to support the two main purposes of the Law:  Love the Lord, and love your neighbor as yourself.  But how does it make sense to tear down the whole structure that was designed to support the centerpiece?  That would be like tearing down a cathedral and then pointing to the cross that used to stand behind the altar, but is now lying on a heap of rubble and talk about how nice it is that the stupid cathedral is no longer in the way of us seeing the cross.  I will readily admit that I simply kicked my mental incongruities to the curb in order to go along with the common "Christian" understanding of the Law versus Grace, until God backed me into a corner and demanded that I simply read His Word and dismiss human commentary on the matter and let the Holy Spirit guide me.  There is one iron-clad rule.  No verses of Scripture can be in contradiction to any other verses of Scripture.  What eliminated apparent contradictions was to dismiss interpretations that originated from Roman Catholic and Protestant anti-Jewish thought.  You cannot understand properly the words of Yeshua, or Peter, or Rabbi Paul by ignoring thousands of years of Jewish understanding and then reading their words through the lenses of men who had no history or training in Judaism or the Oral Law.  When these men spoke or wrote, they did so under the assumption that their audience had basic understanding and context.

One more thing.  Lest you be inclined to make the claim that those verses above only applied to the Jews, think again.  Paul makes the point in Ephesians 4:4-6:  "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one LORD, on faith, one baptism, on God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."  You don't get to claim that because you weren't born Jewish  the Torah doesn't apply to you.  God doesn't have two distinct flocks with two different sets of rules.  If you want to hold to such an idea, you have no claim to be a disciple of the God of the Bible.

I will be further buttressing this point when I pick up with a study of the 21st chapter of Acts, where I start by asking: "Was Paul Crazy?"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Administration and Law

Sorry if the title seems a little misleading.  This post is not about current politics in the United States.

This is another installment in the series on Why I'm Not A Christian.

The thought of an analogy came to me while reading something at another Messianic website.  The author was making a point about Hebrews chapter 7.  But to give a bit more background, I think I will go back to reiterating my main contention that the reason the church gets so much doctrine wrong is because of the lack of a good hermeneutic and taking the Scriptures as a complete whole, in obedience to 2 Timothy 3:16: "ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; . . ."

In order to really get a handle on what the Holy Spirit is communicating through the author of the letter to the Hebrews, we have to keep a couple of things firmly in mind. First is that this is a letter written by a Jew who is deeply educated in all the Torah and the Oral Law.  I still suspect that the author is Rabbi Paul.  I believe that the tone and style of the letter are different from his other epistles simply because of his audience and the subject matter.  Other criticisms aside, plenty of authors can and do change their style of writing depending on audience and subject.  The second point is that this letter is for the purpose of explaining to Jewish minds why the coming of Messiah changes the administration of the Law, but doesn't change the Law.  Let me remind my gentle readers that this is important in order to keep the rule of non-contradiction and the admonishment of Yeshua in Matthew 5:17-19, and in Luke 16:17.  If we take any other verses of Scripture and interpret them to mean that which contradicts these other two, then there is something wrong with our understanding.

My analogy comes from what was provided by the founding fathers of the United States.  They drew up the Constitution because nearly all of them understood that men are inherently sinful and cannot be trusted with very much power, that they must be restrained.  "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," as Lord Acton put it.  The Constitution was written for the express purpose of putting chains on the power of government and those who would wield that power.  The Constitution does not grant or give people any rights whatsoever.  The Constitution and its original ten amendments simply recognize the God-given rights inherent in mankind and tells the government, "YOU cannot cross these lines."

The founders understood that the law needed to be in the form of a contract.  The law could not be something that any one man or group of men just arbitrarily decided to do.  Not even under the pretense of doing it for the "common good" or the "general welfare."   They understood that nothing tramples an individual's rights faster than democratic rule or opinion.  Freedom and democracy simply cannot coexist.  What the founders knew was needed was a contract that embodied the law and put restraints on anyone serving in the government.  When you take elective office, or are commissioned as an officer, you take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, not any man, group, or political party.

The idea here, is that people will come and go from the offices of power, but the law remains.  If the restrictions of the Constitution are actually followed by those in power, then legislation would not be passed that endangers the rights of all individuals.  The law of the land says that government doesn't get to decide what you can or cannot say about issues.  The burden of proof is on the government to convince a jury of your peers that you have broken the law.  No one has the right to deny you the use of arms or self defense and so on.  And ultimately, the founders understood that nobody should ever get elected and then claim that the popular vote gave them a mandate to violate the Constitution.  Yet this is what has gone on since at least Abraham Lincoln.

What does this have to do with the Bible?  Let's look at Torah in this light.  First of all, when did God's laws begin?  When was man given the laws of God regarding behavior, of clean and unclean things, tithing, making offerings, etc?  If you said Moses, you'd be wrong.

From the time that God Himself (Christ) walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, God has revealed His laws.  The Jewish sages have believed through their study of Torah, that God created the universe through Torah.  If that seems odd to you, consider that John 1 tells us that, "In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was with God and the Word was God."  The Master told us that Torah is eternal.  The Psalms say the Torah is eternal.  He was trying to get us to see that He, as God, and His Word, are inseparable.

Cain and Abel knew the standards for offerings.  Abel obeyed and Cain did not.  Noah was simply told to gather two of every unclean animal and seven pairs of all the clean.  How did he know which was which long before Moses came along?  Abraham tithed to God through Melchizedek and participated in communion with bread and wine.  Abraham trained disciples, and God stated that Abraham kept all of God's laws and commandments.  We are not told it directly, but we can infer from the text that Abraham knew Torah from what was handed down and from God Himself visiting with him and speaking to him directly.  Somewhere along the line, Christians have assumed that the Law didn't exist until Moses, but the fact is; Moses simply wrote down in systematic form, everything that had already been known to the men who walked with God. Up until that time individual men and the families that they led were the guardians of the ways of God.  Moses came to deliver a whole nation made up of the Children of Israel and a mixed multitude whom Adonai saved out of bondage in Egypt.

In that event, please make careful note of the order of the events.  God hears the cry of his chosen people, on the schedule that he had already told Abraham about in Genesis 15, when Adonai unilaterally established His covenant with Abraham and Abraham's descendants forever.  God had arranged it so that Jacob and his sons would end up in Egypt, being delivered by a beloved son who was left for dead, betrayed for some silver coins.  (I think I see a pattern there.)  The Children of Israel by this time were mere slaves and we are not told that they were following anything close to the Torah.  Otherwise, why the need for Moses to receive them from Adonai?  Does the LORD tell Moses to go to the sons of Jacob and get them to start obeying the ten commandments and then He would save them?  No.

HaShem ("The Name") tells Moses that he has a plan and what to expect from Pharoah.  I'm going to paraphrase this for simplicity, but I won't violate Scripture.  Adonai set out to show the world who the One and Only True God was by taking down the most powerful empire  at the time.  And he wasn't going to do it just any way.  He was going to make a mockery of their false gods and sorcery tricks. When He concluded everything with the destruction of the entire Egyptian army, word would spread from there to every populated place.  From Sudan to beyond Persia, from North of Turkey to across the Mediterranean, people would hear about this event.

Then, not because the children of Israel's righteousness, but because of His covenant and the sake of His own honor, He would save His chosen people.  Note this.  Salvation came first.  It would be many days before Adonai would place the choice before the people about obeying Torah.  Think about that for a moment.  From the time of the first Passover until the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was 50 days.  From the time of  the ultimate Passover, or the crucifixion of Messiah until the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentacost was 50 days.  Ah, that repeating pattern thing. The history of the world is God's unfolding revelation.  Each new cycle contains foreshadowing of events to come

So, going back to Hebrews chapter 7 and what the writer is trying to convey.  That Messiah has come and established a new administration.  The Torah is still valid and in effect but under a new management. Because the ultimate sacrifice had been made, we could all be in the priesthood and appeal directly to God for atonement.  When understood in this light, we see that harmony exists in all Scripture.  Yes, Torah is eternal and we can believe what Yeshua said about it.  Yes, what Paul said in Romans about us not having to suffer the penalty of the Law is true, but we still establish the Law.  Apparent contradictions fall away to dust.  We can now understand how the Law continues to be in effect and true and good, yet at the same time we have an advocate in court who makes atonement for us when we come in contrition and brokenness.  You can admit that you violated the Torah, but instead of having to sacrifice a bull or goat or doves, you appeal to the ultimate sacrifice for your atonement.

Now imagine you get hauled into court and when charged with a crime, you decide to take the attitude that the law just doesn't apply to you.  How do you think the judge would react?

Just because the Torah or Law of Moses was given to be administered at first with imperfect men who had to atone for their own sins before they could atone on behalf of the people, doesn't mean that when the perfect Messiah came to atone for us that the Law or Torah just disappeared.  It is still there.  Just as the One who gave His life for it said it would always be.  He just made a way for us to appeal to His perfect atonement without needing a Temple or having to kill animals.

In the next installment, I ask the question: "Did God Mean Forever?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lil' Bit Too Sad

I could say that I'm a little bit too sad today, but that wouldn't really capture it.  I'm very sad.

All the rational and understanding that stuff happens, and that stuff happens for a reason don't do a whole lot to comfort me right now.
Lil' Bit visits with the chickens

This little creature jumped and pranced around in our house with a little diaper on and brought a lot of joy to us, even though we knew she would have to eventually stay out at the farm and become a full sized goat.

Lil' Bit and Casspurr in the office.

She was a runt, rejected by her mother.  Momma had twins and then her and momma didn't want three to deal with or whatever.  Problem is, one of her sisters died two days ago and there wasn't a mark on her.  That was the one that Twyla named Lily.  She has a special place in our garden now.

I guess I'm gonna have to get more used to losing an animal occasionally.  I dispatched a rooster not long ago because I was tired of fooling with him, and Brewster is not long for this world either.  But Lil' Bit was something special and I had such hopes.  I had bragged about how imprinted she was on me that I could just take her out of the barn and set her on the ground and she would follow me anywhere like a trained puppy.

The last time I took her home, I brought her with her other sister Rose, and nearly the whole ride, I had her sister on one side sucking on one ear lobe and Lil' Bit had jumped up from the bench seat to find my left ear lobe.  I was laughing the whole time with these two hungry goats that had to wait until I made it home because I didn't want them peeing inside my truck.

I suppose I will bury Lil' Bit just a couple of feet from where I just planted a new Gala apple tree.  

What Are We Missing?

A while back, either I stumbled upon her blog, or she stumbled upon mine, but another blogress whom I read regularly, recommended to me that I consider switching to Wordpress.  I was still learning a few things about publishing in Blogger, but I was pretty happy with what I was doing so far and didn't give it much thought beyond that.

My lovely wife, Twyla, currently runs two of her own blogs:  Green Acres With Twyla and My 316 Notes in this same venue of Blogger.

But recently, she was asked to post for another blog, due to her wonderful writing and artistic skill. Problem is, whoever runs the blog decided to go with Wordpress.

Now, let me state up front, that I claim no real or imagined expertise at running a blog.  For all the reasons of life happening while I was planning something else, my being some kind of computer geek ended somewhere back in the early 90's.  I used to write batch files in DOS, and I can, er, somewhat basically, understand and use some HTML code when I really want to learn how to do it.

Now, I don't think my lovely, talented, artistic wife would be offended if I made the point that I've probably forgotten more about file management, computer software, patches, and workarounds than she would ever have two seconds of patience to hear about.  But can somebody who uses and understands Wordpress, please explain to me what is supposed to be so all fired good about it?  We use Blogger and have had only a few hitches in the learning curve, but the damned Wordpress has been absolutely maddening.

Is there some site on the web that can help us get more out of the program?  I'm looking for suggestions.  I reckon that the people who can't even figure out how to leave comments here won't be able to help me, but if you are a user or a fan of Wordpress, please tell me how to use the damned thing. How do I change the font or resize the font?  How do I change background or background colors?  If I have to know a whole slew of HTML code, why use Wordpress?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Silence Is Consent

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."   -- Edmund Burke

I have to quote from a post I read at House of Eratosthenes.  Mark often speaks well and completely on the subjects he covers, but this is one area that I feel the need to bang a gong on until my conservative friends understand it.  The fate of our nation hangs in the balance.  Stop and read the quote from Ronald Reagan in the right side bar.

Mark said, "The left needs constant reassurance about following their agenda."  This is why they continue to parrot the talking points that have absolutely no substance, as reflected in this next statement:

"But still the relentless campaign continues, like a juggernaut. At Thanksgiving, in the office, on Facebook, it’s always reminder-time. Bush stupid, Obama awesome, Palin a dimwit, Iraq a mistake."

I have experienced so much of this in the past.  It always comes from people who's only connection to "news" comes from the Comedy Channel, CNN, or one of the three broadcast agencies who might as well collectively be the public relations or advertising agency for the Democrat National Committee.  I can always count on the fact that if I ask them basic questions about the Constitution or the structure of the government or just who various cabinet secretaries are, or about important historical rulings by the SCOTUS, all I will get is the look of a fish out of water.

Yet these are the people who squawk the mindless sound bytes that they acquired from the far left cheerleading section for the leftists who want to take over the country and impose Marxist rule.  And they get away with it because we conservatives don't counter their stupidity at every turn.  We want to keep the peace at Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever reunions we have.  We don't want to offend co-workers.  We don't want to get the elbow in the ribs by our wife at some gathering when we hear some kool-aid drinker gush about some politician who by all rights ought to be in prison.

This has got to stop.  This has to stop because of the very polar opposite results of conservative ideology and where it leads, and leftist ideology and where it leads.

When conservatism reigns, people are left alone to either succeed or fail on their own in freedom.  If you don't like the fail part, then you don't understand the value of failure.  Ray Kroc was nothing more than a mediocre paper cup salesman until he discovered and bought the restaurant from the McDonald brothers.  Walt Disney failed over and over to find the right people to financially back his ideas for most of his life.  Edison tried a thousand different ways to create a lightbulb before he found the right design.  The common denominator to success in this country has always been freedom and a rule of law that protects individual freedom.

When leftist ideology reigns, there is no point in striving or failing.  If you succeed, the fruits of your labor will be taken from you and given to those who don't care to strive for anything beyond playing the lottery and watching American Idol and believing that anybody who has wealth must have gotten it by nefarious means.  This is what produces countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.  Equality is celebrated and encouraged until everyone but those at the top of government have become equally miserable.

This has got to stop.  But it isn't going to stop if conservatives just stand by keep their mouths shut.

Now let me make another important point.  Do not cast your pearls before swine.  In case that phrase isn't clear to you, let me elaborate.  Do not get into a one-on-one argument with a leftist or with a group of leftists with no other audience around.  It's a waste of time.

But by all means, if you are in a mixed group of other conservatives, moderates, or just people who claim to be bored by politics, speak up.  Understand and polish your arguments.  Speak boldly.  You might be giving encouragement to fellow conservatives who were also afraid to speak up.

Always remember that when you stay silent, the opposition not only perceives your silence as agreement, but they will point it out to the uninformed, ignorant and stupid people around them.  They win the argument by default.

If you don't want to end up living in a country like Cuba or China, you'd better start using your mouth to fight these battles.  If we lose the battle of ideas at the ballot box, the alternative is not going to be fun.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nip It In The Bud

Ever use that phrase?  Know where it comes from?  So many of our cliches in life come from agrarian sources.

This phrase speaks to stopping the growth of something you don't find desirable.  I used to grow a lot of roses in Florida, and I took great care doing it.  It involves an almost constant pruning to produce nice long stems and big showy blossoms.  You nip a lot of small buds in order to get nice ones where you want them.

When it comes to weeds, anybody trying to grow nice stuff knows the difficulty of controlling weeds if you don't take precautions early on.  The trick to keeping yourself from being frustrated to death by out-of-control weeds is to not let them get started in the first place.

This post was prompted by a post written by Oleg Volk.  It's very short and worth the read, but it made me realize that we need to deal with how the problem arises in the first place.

Losing your personal and individual liberties is very much like the weed problem.  With the exception of the military, collective punishment has no place in a free society.  In the military, the teamwork necessary to survival in battle is ingrained by both collective reward and punishment.  But in the civilian population of a country based on freedom and rule of law that protects individual rights, collective anything is a very bad idea.

As a society, we've allowed the weeds of collective punishment to permeate our lives.  It mostly starts in the government schools (nothing public about them).  Children are taught to conform early on to all kinds of standardization and individuality and talent is not only not nurtured, it can be downright squashed.

It starts there and then it migrates in society to all levels and age groups.  I would never live in a neighborhood that has "Deed Restrictions"  or "Covenants."  You can do it if you want to, but you better pay close attention to all the fine print in that 200 page contract that will attract the nosiest busybody who really will pay attention to what kind of patio furniture you have, what color you paint the house, and what brand of trash receptacle you use.

We teach our children that if you excel, you are hurting the self-esteem of someone else, so don't excel.  We let the world, media, television, the indoctrination centers (school) tell our kids that we should all have the same stuff, and that if someone else has more, he must have gotten it because he's greedy and evil, not because he worked hard and provided other people with things that they needed or wanted and was thus rewarded for his effort.  Children are treated like idiots when they are allowed to play soccer, so long as they don't keep score.  Little boys can't possibly be allowed to be little boys and trained to control their energy and enthusiasm without the use of drugs.  No.  They must have some mythical condition called ADD or ADHD, which never existed until the late 20th century and doesn't exist anyplace but the U.S.

Not everyone who reads this will feel the same way I do.  I know that there are plenty of people out there that will go along with the collective ideas like sheep or lemmings, simply because it makes them feel safe.  Not one shred of real thought goes into it.  It's all based on feelings.  They can see a guy with a gun on his hip out in public and just start freaking out.  But if they see a uniform, a radio, a handcuff holster and twin magazine holsters holding an additional thirty rounds of ammunition, that's okay.  Never mind that the person with the gun is still a human being,  or that cops have gone to prison before for murder.  But I digress.

We need to fight this collective indoctrination at every turn.  This is why I hate unions so much.  Unions are for losers who don't want to excel.  They want to hide in the anonymity of a large group and just get by with doing enough to be passable or less.  It is absolutely criminal that anyone working for taxpayer money has anything remotely like collective bargaining.  Of course the only thing that is going to bring that to an end now will be the financial collapse of all the government entities that allowed it to go on.

It's one thing for the teacher to not allow gum chewing in class because it interferes with the child's ability to speak clearly.  It is quite another to not allow it because a few children were irresponsible and stuck their wad under the desk.  That teaches the child that a few bad people can just mess it up for the majority.

We live in such an upside-down world.  We subsidize those who choose to do nothing to improve their own situation.  We punish those who seek to be the best that they can be.  Then the media laud and celebrate those who denigrate the values of those who made the right choices and champion the so-called "rights" of the dregs of society to demand the fruits of the labor of the productive.

Whenever individual problems are dealt with by collective means, the result is loss of freedom.  From chewing gum to alcohol or drugs and even guns.  The founding fathers were right.  The government that governs best, governs least.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Is That?

Okay, all you city slickers, it's time to play: What Is That?

This piece of farm machinery has probably not been used on most farms for several decades.  I would guess that only a handful of self-sustaining type farmers would still be using something like this.

 I spent part of the morning yesterday ripping out the old, rotten, wooden floor of this thing.  I spent part of the afternoon coating the new pine boards with linseed oil in preparation to be bolted in tomorrow.

One clue is that I'll bet that Gene Logsdon not only knows what this thing is, but I'll bet he loves what it does.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eshet Chayil

Eshet Chayil.  A woman of valor.  Thus begins the prayer of blessing that I say over my wife as part of our Shabbat ritual on Friday night before sundown.  I should say it every day.  Twyla is the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman.  She puts passion into whatever she does.  Her artwork is amazing.  You really need to go check out her blog and take the time to look at her watercolor page.

Ready to party
Twyla's doctor banned her from working years ago when her condition became just too much for her to try to keep working.  Her condition had her nearly crippled and there were times when she had to literally crawl from her car to the house at the end of a workday.  Being a nurse with a keen medical mind, she studied her own condition and learned all she could about natural remedies and therapies to bring some functionality back into her life.

She is allergic to pain medications, and so she lives in nearly a constant state of pain to some degree. In spite of all this, she works to keep a clean house, and take good care of her hubby.  She cooks delicious food for me every day.  Twyla has a laugh that is contagious and she laughs often and loudly.  She is so sharp that she comes up with the wittiest remarks at the drop of a hat.  She is deadly at Scrabble.  I know it's hard to imagine Scrabble as a blood sport, but trust me, you'd better be very good to want to take her on.  She is a beautiful woman.  Her beauty is way beyond skin deep.  The smile that radiates out of her and puts people at ease comes from a life of optimism in spite of suffering, and a deep abiding love for God.  Few people will ever get to experience the mercy and grace of such a woman as I get to experience on a regular basis.

Two new friends and two old ones at a Tea Party
Since I have taken on managing a farm for someone else, she has stepped up and taken on more.  She sees to it that the chickens get food and water as needed.  She has also taken on writing a blog on behalf of someone else in order to bring in more money.  She puts her incredible artistic talent into it for very little money, but she does it with the hope of being appreciated more down the road.  The quality of her work is worth far more than what she's getting paid.  That's the danger in doing something so well and making it look so easy.

My wife is someone who loves to be a hostess and give people an experience they will always cherish.  You should be so lucky to attend one of her "Tea Parties."  We recently made new friends via some other friends, and their first encounter with us was a Tea Party.  We don't have many real friends, but I think that's because we both won't just settle for mere acquaintances, or people who we will pretend to impress  and vice-versa.  Life is too short for such stuff.

So that's who I'm married to.  Whatever faults I think she has, her assets far outweigh them.  I'm very blessed by God to have her, and I think everyone else should know about it as well.  I love you, Twyla.  Thanks for being my wife.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Whining

That is, on my part.

I took on this job managing a farm for someone else.  I did it out of a desire to pick up a few dollars.  I almost feel like I'm the main character from "The Grapes of Wrath."

I don't know how long I will do this.  How in the world do you work for someone who has a Lord/serf mentality, yet claims to believe in the sovereignty of the individual.

I am fully aware that I can only describe the world from my perspective and that I am an imperfect human being. But I am amazed how I can be lectured to by someone who demands excellence but wants it from virtual slaves.

Some people will never aspire to excellence, simply because they are incapable.  Some people will never aspire to excellence because they just flat out don't want to, and no amount of incentive will make them desire to strive for excellence.

But when you find someone who desires to strive for excellence, it is usually tied to an understanding that there is some kind of reward forthcoming.

You may be able to hold a carrot out in front of a mule's nose and get it to walk for a while.  But it doesn't take a human being too long to figure out that no matter how hard or fast they walk the carrot will get no closer.

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else.  I'm just venting.  I really want to get back to posting about stuff without being worn slap out.

Yeah.  I really did whine.  So sue me.