Monday, September 12, 2016

Samsung Note 7 Replacement Fiasco

Monday, 9/12/2016

Note 7 originally purchased from: Best Buy
Carrier: AT&T

9:30AM: While waiting for Best Buy to open, I re-read the email they sent that mentioned 3 options: 1) Be put on replacement list (no mention of a temporary replacement phone), 2) Get the Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge and accept that as a permanent replacement, 3) Get a full refund. However, their updated website (linked within email) completely removed option 1.

10AM: Walked into store and asked to hear the clerk’s understanding of the situation. She mentioned options 2 & 3. I asked why option 1 was no longer available. The answer was that they were being told that it may be up to 6 months before Samsung could be able to re-supply non-defective phones. Best Buy didn’t want to be left “holding the bag” that long.

10:30AM Drove over to the AT&T store and asked them what policy they are using. They said I could get the S7 or S7 Edge as a “temporary” replacement. AT&T personnel were told it may be anywhere from 2 weeks until some unknown future time before working Note 7 devices were available. I was told that to avoid upgrade charges and plan changes, I would have to pay for the phone outright. Between what I spent on the Note 7 and the potential cost of the S7, that would be nearly two thousand dollars until the refund on the Note 7 came back. I left the store to have time to think. I drove over to talk to a friend who also is facing having to replace his Note 7. He said he spoke to his carrier and to Samsung through the special 800 number that was setup to handle the issue. Samsung told him to deal with his carrier. His carrier (not AT&T) didn’t have the same options.

11:00AM: Drove back to AT&T and bought the S7 Edge outright. Tried to transfer (phone to phone via cable) my apps, but not all came over. Samsung's transfer app is NOT as good as claimed by others. (It took me 3 days to completely setup the Note 7 when I originally transferred from the Note 3 a few weeks ago). Samsung absolutely has shot themselves over and over again in the foot over this debacle.

12:00PM: Drove to Best Buy and returned Note 7. For some odd reason, even though I bought it on my credit card, they weren’t able to refund the whole amount to the card. I had to take over $100 on a gift card. I tried to merely cash out the gift card -- not allowed. I spoke to store manager and explained situation. He chopped up the large gift card in smaller $10 cards and then cashed them out. What an absolute fiasco! All this because of their policy not to cash out gift cards. I didn’t want any of it on a gift card in the first place.

Because I decided to do things the way I did, I did not qualify for the $25.00 apology gift from Samsung. That’s okay, Samsung. I will never forget this. If it weren’t that nobody had the Asus Zenphone 3, the Honor 8, or the One Plus 3, I would not still be a customer of yours. Do not ever expect me to be a customer of yours again. Do not expect I will have any kind words for you. If anyone asks, I will absolutely advise against buying Samsung products. They are overpriced, over-hyped, and not worth the hassles. Although Best Buy also holds some accountability here with their anti-customer policy about cashing out gift cards or even refusing to reimburse the whole amount to my credit card, I hold Samsung responsible for this whole event because if it weren't for their shipping defective phones in the first place, none of these other issues would have come up.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Matthew 18:23-35 Debts and Forgiveness

Regarding Matthew 18:23-35, I have heard many monetary conversion rates to help us appreciate the debt the unforgiving slave had in comparison to his peer. But probably the absolute best reasoning point I’ve ever heard that not only drives home the point in a timeless way, but is easy to grasp is the following.

Quoting from the Insight on Scriptures, vol.1, starting on page 1179, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, under the heading “Illustrations,” we read: “A denarius equaled a day’s wages; so 100 denarii, the smaller debt, equaled approximately one third of a year’s wages. Ten thousand silver talents, the larger debt, equaled 60 million denarii, or wages that would require thousands of lifetimes to accumulate.”

To expand on the above, according to Matthew 20:10, a denarius (singular for denarii) was equal to a single day’s wage in the times when Jesus walked the earth. A drachma is also equal to one day’s wage. (We need this information to continue with equation.) A single mina is worth 100 drachmas. And a single talent is worth 60 minas. We need to break that back down now to determine the difference between a denarius and a talent. 100 (drachmas) times 60 minas is 6,000 denarii. But the unforgiving slave did not owe his ruler merely 1 talent. He owed 10,000. That is 60 million denarii. If a denarius is one day’s wages, then the slave owed 60 million days. If an average working life is about 60 years, that equates to 21,900 days. So that slave would have to live and die 2,739 lifetimes before being able to pay his debt and that doesn’t even count the debt he would incur during each subsequent life.

But how in world could any man amass such debt? Again, this was an illustration that Jesus made. In the book of Psalms we discover a point that makes Jesus illustration very plain. In Psalm 49:7-9 we discover that we are incapable of redeeming our sinful lives. If it weren’t for God’s willingness to forgive us through the value of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, we would indeed be as hopeless as the unforgiving slave. Yes, God forgave us all what he considers to be a huge debt. Since that is so, would any of dare to anger God by not being forgiving to our fellow man, even if what they owed us was a mere single lifetime!?

Anxious vs Eager Matthew 6

God knows we not only have needs but also legitimate concern to acquire them. Nothing wrong with that. What is unhealthy is anxiety which can lead to lack of trust in our Creator, God of all things, and the one calling himself our "Father." Think for a moment about the title “Father.” Although many men today fall very short of the strength of character and yet tenderly gentle man that “father” should evoke, that is indeed the image scripture paints of our creator. To a child with such a father, there is no need for fear, anxiety, uncertainty. Although a small child may hide behind his father if something frightens him, the fact that he chose his father instead of running demonstrates his trust in this father’s ability to protect him.

In my mind, there has always been a distinct difference between being anxious and eager. Eager is like a small child beaming with joy for the ice cream cone they are about to receive. Anxiety (anxiousness) is the joy-robbing fear the child has that the ice cream will fall off the cone or melt before he eats it. Just as a loving parent tries to assure and comfort their child when things go wrong, we likewise have a Father of tender mercies and therefore don’t need to be anxious that God doesn't care or that he will not fulfill his promises to us. We can eagerly expect to receive his care and the promises his has made.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Focused On Our Purpose

To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “"The way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air." (1 Corinthians 9:26, other translations) This is a good reminder to all who feel compelled to preach the Word of God.

True faith was never meant to be a battle of wit and words. To those who accept God's Word as Truth, it is a real beacon to guide them to safe shores. To those that reject it, they remain adrift in tumultuous waters. Our efforts to save those who are "at sea," is to encourage them to let us help them. But what of those that adamantly argue things are not the way we claim? Spending time arguing or debating with them is time wasted that could be more productively spent on those ready and willing to be rescued. But what of the arguers that "keep getting in our face"? They seem to fall into three categories.

The first are those whose only intent is to disrupt and distract. The second are those who honestly feel we are the ones who need saving. (These baffle me because they honestly feel they have something better when it is obvious they don't.) The final group that comes to mind is one that just needs more gentle but firm convincing.

In some ways and to some extent, I fell into both the first and third groups when I first encountered the Witnesses. Now, looking back, I am glad I found a patient and insightful man that saw past my argumentative and arrogant demeanor. When I adamantly would assert that the scripture he was teaching didn't mean what he claimed, he'd ask me what I felt it meant. Then he would patiently reason with me. After a while, rather than offer his thoughts first, he'd have me read a passage and then ask what it meant to me. I was surprised how often I said exactly what the scripture intended. Then, when he would reference the JW material, I had no recourse but to agree it was right. (On occasions when I wasn't correct, he would have me read a few more scriptures and then ask me to tie them altogether.) But he never ever argued with me. If I became obstinate, he would kindly ask me to think about it, pray and research. There were so many fine qualities of this man that I need to remind myself of and strive to imitate.

But for the purpose of this article, I have two points to make. First, debating is fruitless and frustrating. Free Will allows others to have a viewpoint that differs from ours. Second, it’s not our place to judge the intent or motives of others. God is judge of all. Our obligation is to fulfill the preaching commission Jesus gave us. Yes, there are times when we need to use "the sword" to overturn wrong teachings, but that is not license to be unkind. What we are destroying are falsehoods, not people.

What Color Is This?

Perhaps you remember the controversy around the “what color is this dress?” internet post. Each camp claimed their perception of the dress was the correct one and could not understand how others did not see what they saw. The same can be said for anything that one group of people insist is right, while another (just as adamantly) claims differently. 

The truth of the matter with the dress is seeing it in natural light, in “real life” (so to speak). However, with regards the matter of faith and religion, the final truth of the matter will only be inarguably clear when God Himself steps in and “separates the sheep from the goats.” (In my personal opinion, the truth of those who are real Christians ought to be apparent by, as Jesus himself put it, “their fruits.” But it seems in todays’ world, Satan has managed to becloud and distort the view of people so badly, that they are truly blind in a spiritual sense.)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Treated As Fools

In the last few years, I’ve encountered the following treatment twice so far. At first, I found it confusing and could not understand why the person was acting the way they were. The second time it happened, again I felt very uncomfortable. In fact, it has taken about 2 months of reflecting on the experiences for me to make sense of them. What is this treatment? It is one of mock sympathy. In both cases, the men treated me as if they felt sorry for me -- that I was some poor deceived sap that didn’t have the mental capacity to reach a correct decision on my own. They attacked the teachings and methods of Jehovah’s Witnesses as if because of my low mental state (the assumption of those feigning pity, not the actual facts), I had been deceived by the crafty ways of the organization. I have to wonder if this is something their churches and religions are teaching them, to wit: “The people who come to your door are just simple-minded common folk who don’t have the ability of critical thinking. Pity them, feel sorry for them.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by this treatment. Paul wrote “For you see his calling of you, brothers, that there are not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world to put the strong things to shame; and God chose the insignificant things of the world and the things looked down on, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one might boast in the sight of God. But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom, so that it may be just as it is written: ‘The one who boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31) Yes, those who arrogantly think they are so much better than Christians who are, in their mind, “foolish” and not “wise,” react to us in the way I described in the first paragraph.

Really, we are in very good company. Even Jesus was belittled as being nothing more than a carpenter’s son and from Galilee (not a prophetically significant town). Also, Paul, who is credited with writing most of the letters and by far the greater part of the content of the Greek Scriptures; who was educated at the feet of Gamaliel; and whose advancements were at the forefront of his peers, after becoming a follower of the Christ was belittled as being nothing more than a “chatterer.” So if the son of God, and a very intelligent man like Paul can endure belittlement, surely we can also.

(Note that I didn't even address the claim that our organization uses tactics that are twisted. That claim is so completely absurd, it is laughable. I immediately recall how even to this day the Jewish religion's official position on the person of Jesus Christ is that he was absolutely the biggest Jewish apostate of all times and his effect on the world has been despicable. So it is no surprise that the Christian group known as Jehovah's Witnesses would be treated the same way.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Do Not Take For Granted

I’ve covered the subject of “believe on the Lord Jesus” as being a crutch people use to excuse their lack of real commitment. In that article, I provided a number of scriptural proofs that true dedication and faith go much deeper and the requirements from God’s own word, the Bible, make this very clear. But one scripture I didn’t consider is 2 Corinthians 6:1 (other versions). It reads: “Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” The logical question would be, “If all a person has to do is believe, how in the world could they miss “its [God’s kindness] purpose”? Quite apparently, more is needed.

Let’s dwell a moment on the phrase “its purpose.” Whose or what purpose? Again, God’s undeserved kindness. So what is the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness? In the preceding chapter, Paul wrote at 2 Cor. 5:19, “God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not counting their offenses against them, and he entrusted to us the message of the reconciliation.” Yes, God wants us to be reconciled with him. But just maybe you are focusing on the action from God that he is “not counting their offenses against them” and therefore that excuses anything you do. If so, Jude 4 will disarm that idea. It reads: “certain men have slipped in among you … they are ungodly men who turn the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for brazen conduct and who prove false to our only owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

In Hebrews 3:12-16, Paul makes a case that those whom God saved out of bondage in Egypt turned around an incurred God’s anger because of their disobedience. This point is made in more detail in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians at 1 Cor. 10:1-11. In these examples of disloyal conduct, we readily see that merely believing is not enough. Surely those delivered out of Egypt believed. Surely those crossing through the Red Sea on dried ground could not argue with their own senses. Yet believing and obeying were two different things for them. The moment things did not go as they wanted, instead of trusting in God to help them, they murmured, complained and demanded to go back to Egypt.

Today, “going back to Egypt” may be a symbolic journey some take in their hearts and minds by choosing to live selfishly rather than truly obeying God’s direction.