Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rants / Friday Photos

The Oklahoma House and Senate recently passed HB 1804 (the Senate vote was 41-6); I blogged about HB 1804 here, so I won't go into all the details. Our Governor, Brad Henry, has yet to decide whether he will sign the bill or not.

Why do I talk so much about illegal immigration? I live in a town that has seen a HUGE influx of immigrants--not all of them illegal I'm sure--but I encounter alot of them that don't speak English at all or very well (my neighbors--although they do seem to have a handle on "English profanity"). They also seem to be intent on NOT assimilating into the American culture.

In recent years, our property value has decreased over 20%! Talking with several realtors in the area, I've been told that the decrease in property values is directly related to the influx of immigrants into certain areas of town--ours being one of them.

Our local paper prints the "police blotter" and court docket for each week; this week there were 81 cases listed. Of those, 30 were for no drivers license on person and/or no proof of insurance. Going merely on last names--and I'm sure I'll be accused of being racist, but I can't figure any other way to work this--I counted over half of the offenders as probable "immigrants", i.e. last names of Rodriguez, Ramirez, Gonzalez, etc.¹ According to a police officer friend, no license usually means "not legal." See this recent post.

I don't consider myself to be racist. The fact is, my sister-in-law and her family are Philippino and one of my good friends is Hispanic. Both families are here in the USA legally. My "beef" is with illegal immigrants that come here, use our services, and don't pay their fair share of taxes. And before you start down that road, I've already heard the argument that they pay taxes whenever they purchase something, but I've got ten bucks that says they didn't file a 1040 and send in a check like I did a couple of weeks ago! The point is: if you're gonna live here, you should live by the rules; if you're not willing to do that...get out!

Here's a couple of examples that really set me off:

  1. Federal officials raided a discount mall in a predominantly hispanic neighborhood in Chicago this past week. They arrested 22 individuals suspected of "being part of one of the nation’s largest operations to produce counterfeit identification documents." The raid upset some immigrants/immigrant advocate groups who claimed the raid was "carried out to intimidate the immigrant community just days before a May 1 rally on proposed changes in immigration policy." Are you kidding me?! This has nothing to do with intimidation--these people were COUNTERFEITING DOCUMENTS! That's against the law, "amigo!"
    Click here for the whole story

  2. The ACLU (gosh, I can't stand that group) has filed a lawsuit in San Francisco on behalf of six-year-old Kebin Reyes, claiming his civil rights were violated when Immigration Agents took him into custody on March 6 this year. Why was Kebin taken into custody? Seems his dad, Noe Reyes, was one of 65 illegals arrested in a San Rafael raid. "The father was arrested and there was no one to take care of the boy at home, so they had the boy come with his father," said ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley. "He went with his dad so he wouldn't be left home alone." For crying out loud! The dad is illegal--has been for at least seven years since the implication is Kebin is a U.S. citizen, and I'm supposed to be upset because the Immigration Agents showed enough compassion to NOT LEAVE THE KID HOME ALONE!? Sounds to me like they were trying to help out, even though the father is a lawbreaker.
    Click here for the whole story

Governor Henry, PLEASE sign HB1804 when it comes across your desk!

Friday Photos

Some severe thunderstorms moved throug our area this past week. I took this shot from our front porch as the sun was setting. I liked the way the colors reflected off the clouds.

Nothing really significant about this shot. I was playing with some of the effects on my camera. I'm trying to learn how everything works on it before we go on vacation to the Grand Canyon. I hope to take some great pics there.

More great photos by people why more talented than me at:
flickr: Friday Photo Group

¹ Source: Owasso Reporter, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

America Mourns

Rosie O'Donnell has announced she is leaving "The View." Do you remember where you were when you heard the tragic news?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Limited Atonement

The boys over at the Fide-O blog recently noted Jerry Falwell's contention (my word) that the doctrine of limited atonement is heresy (click here).

I don't claim to be some kind of theologian or expert, but I do consider myself a "thinker." My understanding of the doctrine of limited atonement is that Christ's sacrifice on the cross purchased salvation only for those that would believe, put their faith in the blood of Jesus Christ for their salvation. Jesus didn't die for EVERY man, woman and child that would ever live. David Steele/Curtis Thomas¹ put it something like this:

Jesus only bore the sins of the "elect."² Christ's redeeming work was intended to render complete satisfaction for certain specified sinners; it actually secured salvation for these individuals and for no one else. Christ did not die simply to make it possible for God to pardon sinners.

Now why would I believe in something like that?

One - Well, first of all, it makes sense to me just on a "logical" level. If Jesus died on the cross, and we know that everyone DOESN'T make it to heaven, then it seems that a portion of the sacrifice was "wasted" so to speak--if Jesus died for everyone.

Two - God/Jesus being omniscient, why would He die for people that He KNEW WOULD NOT believe in Him; people that would not trust in Him and His sacrifice for their salvation? If God already knows something will happen, it seems to reason that it WILL happen exactly as He knows it. No one will "trick" or "surprise" God by suddenly embracing Christ at the last minute. God will never say: "Well, I'll be...I never saw that coming!"

Three - If...and I mean IF...Jesus died hoping that people would be saved, then that doesn't sound much like an all-knowing, all-powerful God to me. How can an omnipotent God not know who will be saved? And why would he die if there was only HOPE? If that were the case, then there must have existed the possibility that NO ONE would be saved! (And that doesn't make sense to me.)

I believe that from the "foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4), God chose for Himself a select group of people from all the people--from various tribes, nations, eras, etc.-- that would ever exist. He chose them based upon nothing but "His purpose" (Eph 1:11). His choosing had nothing to do with their deserving or earning His grace (Rom 9:11). He owes salvation to no one; He owes no explanation for His actions--"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy..." (Rom 9:15)

It's usually right here where someone will say: "Oh, yeah! What about John 3:16?! It says God so loved the world...that's EVERYBODY!!!" What about it? I agree that God loves the world He created. I believe He loves men/mankind. He created them. BUT, John 3:16 does not say or imply that God loves everyone with a saving love. In fact, continuing on in the verse, Jesus states "whosoever believes will have eternal life." That statement in and of itself implies limitations. Only the "whosoevers" have eternal life--and those "whosoevers" are the only ones that believe and receive salvation. Of course, I believe the "whosoevers" are those God has chosen and given the ability TO believe in the first place! (No, I don't believe men have a "free will" in which they choose to believe. Maybe that's another post for another time.)

NOTE: Go back and read John 3 in context. Jesus' statement of God's love for the world is actually an indictment against Nicodemus and his manmade belief system. Nicodemus believed that God loved only the Jews. Jesus' words were designed to shock Nicodemus and to inform him that God loved both Jews AND Gentiles and that Messiah would come and save people from ALL races.

If believing in "limited atonement" makes me a heretic according to Jerry Falwell and others, so be it. I'm in good company (i.e. John MacArthur, Arthur Pink, Charles Spurgeon, R.C. Sproul, Loraine Boettner, to name a few).

¹The Five Points of Calvinism by David Steele/Curtis Thomas, (1963), Pg 39
² Suffice it to say, I believe in "that", too.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Five Things Jesus Did / Friday Photo

"America's Pastor", Rick Warren recently stated in an interview on ¹ that there were "the five things Jesus did when he was here on earth:"

  • The first thing he did was he planted a church.
  • The second thing he did was equip leaders. He spent three years training these disciples.
  • The third thing he did was he cared for the poor. In fact, in his very first sermon, he says, "I am here to preach the good news to the poor." He cared for the poor.
  • Fourth, he healed the sick. One-third of his ministry was a health ministry.
  • The fifth thing is he taught. Particularly he cared about the next generation.

A couple of observations here: first, I believe the Bible is pretty clear that if all the things Jesus did were written down, there wouldn't be enough room on the planet to contain all the books that would be written (See John 21:25). So, I'm a little skeptical that Rick Warren can boil it down to "five things" and do the works of Jesus any justice at all.

Second, of the "five things," I believe there's one important thing he failed to mention. Can you say "sacrifice?" No mention of the cross, death, burial, resurrection, atonement...well, you get the idea. Nope, Jesus was just a great CEO with a large staff (11 dedicated guys plus one just along for the ride) and a plan for world peace that would one day be revealed to a pastor in California.

Honest to goodness, I was suckered by the line: "The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost" --Luke 19:10. The whole time I was thinking Jesus' mission was about salvation, He was really just putting together a five-step program for welfare and world peace. I feel like such a sap!

Friday Photo

I took this picture of my oldest son, Ryon (yes, he really spells his name with an "o") on his 19th birthday. Green background was added in Corel PhotoPaint. This picture actually looks better on the flickr website-- I think because I resized it here. Click on the photo for better look.

flickr: Friday Photo Group

¹ The "beliefnet" link should take you to page four of the interview, then look three paragraphs from the bottom of the page. There is also a link to an audio file of the same quote. Rick Warren in his own words.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

They Don't Get It

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you... 1 Peter 4:3-4

A couple of stories caught my attention last week: one featured a new trend in weddings- wedding gowns for pregnant brides; the other story involved a principle and teacher that were videoed having sex in the principle's office. A DVD of the "activity" was anonomously mailed to parents right before a hotly contested school board election.

The interesting thing about these stories (for me) was the response of some people that commmented on them. Rather than being shocked at the behavior or the lack of morality portrayed in the stories, commentors were more inraged that anyone would question something like a "maternity wedding gown" or why the privacy of the principle and secretary was infringed upon. Commenting on the wedding gown story, one commentor said:
Some of us really don't see this as a problem, and would really appreciate it if you would take your 'morals' back to the Victorian Age they crawled out of. Put your misplaced values back into your house, and quit wagging your finger at people you honestly don't care about.

Commenting on the "principle" story, one individual wrote: " least they were doing each other instead of the kids."

They don't get it.

Wedding gown story
Principle and teacher story

Monday, April 16, 2007

Let Me Get This Straight

Let me get this straight...rappers and comedians are hereby on notice to clean up their acts because a cranky old white man in a ridiculous hat lost his job??!!! Uh-huh... Could I see a show of hands?

That's what I thought.

I was commenting last week about a guy at work that rubs me the wrong way. Well, as God would have it -- and believe me, HE does -- we've been studying the book of 1 Peter in our Sunday School class while, at the same time, our pastor has been going verse by verse through Ephesians on Sunday evenings. As divine providence would have it, the study in Peter fell at the same time the Pastor was covering Ephesians 6:5-9, applying the passage to work relationships.

I have loved and hated it. I am encouraged as I see God working in my life; I've hated the "side" of me that this study has exposed. I have made a commitment--and with God's help I will succeed--to not allow this man or anyone else or any circumstance dictate how I feel or how I respond to others. So far, God has been very gracious; the past week has been much less stressful. He has given me MULTIPLE opportunities to speak and act kindly when my more human tendency would be to lash out. ("Count it all joy when you face trials of variuos kinds...") My wife has even noticed a difference.

I'm not naive enough to think I've got this thing licked, but so far, it's been a good start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus is an Idiot

Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hos" on his radio show last week. A few thoughts:

  • I don't listen to Don Imus
  • He has some really bad hair
  • What he said was uncalled for
  • If Chris Rock had said something about the St. Edwards University (Austin) Women's Basketball team (picture below) like: "those are some cracker-head bit*hes!" would have been labeled comedy

To be honest, I don't know anything about the St. Edwards basketball team other than there appears to be more whites than blacks on the team. Just thought I'd clear that up.

On a more humorous "note," credit for "bird-dogging" the video below goes to the guys at Fide-O. If this weren't so funny, it would be sad...or is it the other way around?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday - Friday Photos

Today is "Good Friday"-- our plant is closed, so I'm home working on my Sunday School lesson, playing on the internet. The president of our company is agnostic (his own classification), so I asked him one time:

Me: None of the principles of this company are particularly "religious," so why are we off on Good Friday?

Prez: Because it's a good Friday...any day you get to take off work and play golf is a "good Friday."

And there you have it...the meaning behind "Good Friday" from a non-Christian perspective.

I sing in an ensemble at church from time to time. We are singing tonight at the Good Friday Communion Service.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

(In Christ Alone - by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty)

Friday Photos

There are a couple of cranes sitting at our plant, waiting to load some very large pieces of equipment. I took this picture looking up through the base of the crane.

Pretty simple. Orange cone sitting next to an out-rigger on one of the cranes. I did a little editing of the background in Corel PhotoPaint.

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Some People Just "Grate" On You

There's a guy at work that really rubs me the wrong way. He knows EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. No matter what you do, he knows a better way to do it. And your way is just dumb. "Why are you doing it THAT way?" He seems to spend more time reviewing, critiquing, and belittling the way everyone does their job instead of doing his own...and the aggravating part is that the president of the company thinks this guy is the greatest thing since sliced bread! The "irritant" is constantly in the president's office bragging about his latest idea or discovery of someone else's mistake (my office is across the hall from the president's, so I hear quite a bit). He is rude, arrogant, deceitful, manipulative, and condescending.

I don't like him...and yet, I am commanded to pray for him and show him the love of Christ.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." (Matt 5:44)

Scripture is pretty plain. I'm going to pray for the guy at work...if you're reading this, will you please pray for me?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Rosie Metallurgy 101

Not only does Rosie believe the United States was in on the 9/11 attacks, she also reveals her expertise in the area of metallurgy. What an idiot.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Give to Caesar...

The conversation went something like this:

Guy: You paid your taxes yet?
Me: No. I figured them the other night, but haven't written the check.
Guy: You mean you gotta pay? We're getting a refund. Pretty nice one, too. You know, my wife is a [ fill in name of service industry here ]; she claimed $16k in income, which is about half of what she actually made since most people pay in cash. Then she claimed $14k in business expenses. I'm figuring we're gonna get about $4k back. You need to get YOUR wife into [ name of service industry ]!

I guess my copy of TurboTax needs to be updated because I don't recall any part of the "interview" process asking me if I had any cash income that I would like to NOT REPORT! I was amazed at how easily my "friend" defended his under-reporting of income. (I was even more amazed to find out later that he and his wife are regular church attenders where they BOTH teach Sunday School.) I'm sure I've missed or forgotten to report something on my tax return, but the amount this guy's talking about is pretty significant. I've heard other people make similar statements. "No, I don't report everything. Why should I? The government takes too much to begin with. I'm not cheating, just getting even. They've got plenty of money anyway. My measily 'couple o' hundred bucks' isn't going to hurt anything."

I actually worked with a guy at one time that reported contributions to a church that HE DIDN'T EVEN ATTEND. According to him, included in his itemized deductions, he always reported some "odd" amount ("the IRS won't question an odd amount--it looks more legit") on his return, usually several thousand dollars. This man had NEVER attended the church; in fact, he didn't even believe in God, but he--as far as the IRS was informed---was a faithful tither to his local church.

There's nothing wrong with taking all the legitimate deductions you're intitled to; look for those expenditures that can lower your tax liability. We itemize our deductions and it helps, but the bottom line is: we owe more than we had withheld, mainly because the company I work for had a good year and my year-end bonus was bigger than we anticipated. That's a nice "problem" to have, but I guess I'm just naive...or maybe the Bible means it when Jesus says: "...give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Luke 20:25)

I'm going to pay what I owe. I'll sleep better...and I won't have to worry about what the IRS considers a legitimate amount to NOT give to to the church I DON'T attend.