Monday, December 20, 2010

Being A True Friend

I wrote the following as counsel to myself more than decade ago. I had reason to review it again and thought I'd share it...

Have you ever had a friend that made you feel constantly guilty because they claimed you did not call  frequently enough or take the initiative to say hello as often as  they  felt you should?  Eventually you probably stopped  dealing  with  that   person because  all  they did was  make  you feel obligated to them.  You may even have felt like telling them: "Get  a life!"

By using the above example, we begin to see the difference between a selfish love and a selfless love.   A selfish love feels self-pity when others do not respond to our love the way we want them to and at times even goes to the extreme of imposing guilt on others when they don't act like we want/expect them to.

So when we become discouraged over a relationship problem we can  consider this:  Upon  becoming  a  responsible adult,  did  we not feel we  had  the right  to  choose  our  friends   and terminate  relationships?   Why then should we make others feel they have any less right to make the same decisions?   Why  should  someone  be obligated  to us whereas we  are  not likewise  obligated  to others  in  a similar situation?

What viewpoint will aid us in having a positive attitude in our relationships with others?  An attitude of selflessness.  Selfless love looks to enhance  others' lives and  by  doing so,  we  may reap the  by-product  -- mutual and requited affection.  If the love is not returned or is deceived, the selfless one, strong of character, has the choice to discontinue the relationship or to attempt an understanding/reconciliation.  But Godly love need not dwell on failed relationships.   Instead, it carries on attaching itself to other prospects for expressions of love.

Realize that the only absolutely lasting friendship is with God himself.  He can not and will not fail us as long as we are faithful.  With this relationship as  our primary  friendship,  central focus and benchmark, human  relationships  become an enhancement  to  our lives  for the present time,  a  gift from  Jehovah, an encouragement  from God  to  help us meet  current  challenges.   So just as when a child receiving a gift from a parent should realize  that  the  gift  is  not  as important   as  the parent's love, likewise we need recognize that human friends  are  not the center  of  our lives -- only Jehovah is.

Yes,  imitate Jehovah  with generous love  but also remember that  Jehovah allows  even the wicked to  pursue their  life  and this  doesn't  "ruin God's day."  Though Jehovah pointedly condemns wicked acts, he does so as a statement of what his standards are for those that want to be his friend.  He does not use guilt as a tactic to discouragingly torment other’s with their shortcomings.   He encourages all seekers of truth and right to put forth their personal best.

So too, the best we can do for others is  to sincerely love them and  share our lives with them without  smothering  their personal growth nor  obligating them beyond what is  scriptur­ally supported.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold Season: Reducing Nasal Congestion Discomfort

First of all, if you've never heard or seen this, it may sound/appear gross. However, what is worse--going through a box of facial tissue in less than a day and having your nose sore or using this & saving yourself from relentless nose blowing. THIS REALLY HELPS!

Here is an excellent video on how to use it.

I keep two sheets of paper towels, one each to use for blowing my nose after rinsing each side.

Bought the Neti-Pot at Bed Bath & Beyound
This is what the one that I use looks like:

Depending on how much water the one you buy holds, you will use anywhere from one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt per fill of the pot. What i do is pre-mix about a couple pints worth, heating in the microwave to ensure the salt is dissolved. Then, as the need arises, I fill the neti pot with the pre-mixed solution and heat in microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds. That is plenty "warm" enough to be comfortable and not burn your nasal passages.

You don't have to buy their special salt. Any non-iodized salt (ice cream freezing salt) will do.

Update here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dignity-Elusive Definition

What is Dignity? How do we dignify ourselves & others & even ideals? I was researching material for an upcoming talk  titled: "How may we display dignity in our worship of Jehovah" when I realized that a definition was hard to come by.

In my research, I was surprised to find that professionals in various fields have actually contested (debated) the definition. The main problem seems to be that they want to define it in secular/social context but no matter what they come up with, someone else disagrees because it infers some degree of morality. They want to remove any inkling of morality from a definition of the word.

That got me curious. If we leave morality IN the definition, where does that lead us? I was surprised how utterly simple the solution was. Before I give the answer I came up with, I'd invite you to offer your reflections. Keep in mind that the definition must include dignifying not only humans, but animals and even concepts such as "service to our God, Jehovah."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Smart Phone in your future?

I never intended this blog to be exclusively religious discussions, so we’ll take a break from that and discuss something hopefully interesting to those of you considering getting a smart-phone. I was recently comparing two Samsung phones: the new “Focus” (running Windows7 on AT&T) and the soon to be released “Samsung Nexus S” (of which I am uncertain but hopeful will be on AT&T).

Specifically, at the time, I was interested in understanding video specs. I’ve never understood frame rates and interlaced verses progressive. Both the phones shoot progressive. The Nexus is WVGA 480p whereas the Focus is 720p HD. The Focus has a higher resolution. However, I would buy the Nexus (if offered by my carrier when it is released) for a few reasons:
It runs Android
It has a front-facing camera which I would use for wifi video calls (which the Focus doesn’t have)

As of today, the Nexus does NOT have expandable memory, but comes with 16 gigabytes of space, which is plenty for me. The Focus only comes with 6.9G but DOES have expandable memory. Another “plus” for the Focus is that it has a built-in FM radio, which the Nexus doesn’t. But I rarely listen to radio anyway.

What does all this mean to you? It means you need to decide what is important to you. Which features are more important? (Yes, I know in time there may be yet another new phone that has all the features I want, but as of Dec.2010, these are the two options that I am considering.) For me, 480p is sufficient for my video capture needs and won’t hog up my memory as much as 720p. I already have another device that shoots 1080p, so if I need anything that demanding, I’ll use it. But for everyday shooting, this is plenty.

I recommend using for comparing phone features side-by-side when you are ready to upgrade.

Here is an excellent video to understand frame rates and such:

Other sources for phone reviews:

And, if you want to see concept phones that are being proposed:
Hope you find this helpful.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Atheism Logical? NOT!

Index of Blog Articles

The website noted at the bottom of this article claims that atheism obeys the laws of physics. If they truly understood physics, they might feel differently. (Then again maybe not, given that the Bible makes this frank observation: "faith is not a possession of all people." (2 Thes.3:2)) The site also claims that people who choose to believe in a higher power ignore logic & knowledge. They aren’t specific in what logic & knowledge they are referring to. Perhaps the theory of evolution, but I wouldn’t put words in their mouth.

So are believers ignoramuses that are completely gullible and ignore the facts? Before I answer that, I do agree with one note, even believers have noted it—yes, religions & fanatics driven by misguided fervor have been guilty of atrocities, even wars. That has turned many people away from even looking at the Bible because they assume (incorrectly) that the Bible condones such conduct—it doesn’t. And speaking collectively of all false religions (pseudo Christians as well as all other non Bible-based belief systems) the Book of Revelation collectively calls them “Babylon the Great” a harlot that lives in shameless luxury. That actually completely agrees with the atheist’s observation about religions bilking the people—all religions, that is, except the one true religion, which is a small collective minority in comparison to the world’s religions.

So atheists have sized up Bablyon in complete agreement with the Bible, whether they know it or not. But what about believers being somehow uneducated about the facts? I recently read an interview of a professor, writer & scientist whose fields include biology & especially neurophysiology, specializing in the study of chemical and electrical properties of nerve synapses, and more. This man was “raised” an atheist by an atheistic father. He grew up in the 1950’s & 1960’s when “free thinking” (as the atheists call it) was gaining momentum. He himself readily accepted evolution as if it were a foregone fact. But he changed. What fueled that change?—His own research. After noting the intricacies of the human brain and other balances in nature & the universe, he saw design. He had to admit it was not possible for all this to happen by chance. He even cites a well-known verse (Hebrews 3:4): “every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God."

This gentleman went on to state that there are a growing number of scientists in all fields of study that are coming to the same conclusion, although many of them silently because of fear of retribution from those advancing evolution. This was pretty much the same case in Jesus’ day—there was those among “the rulers” (both religious & political) that were confident Jesus was who he said he was, but they feared peer pressure.

The atheists have put out a call to those of like mind “to come out of the closet” of being disbelievers & support the atheistic agenda. I would likewise invite scientists and others in advanced fields of study who have indisputable proof of design in nature (thus implying an intelligent maker) to come forward and stand up for REAL truth and not the mumble jumble of evolution as it tries to strong-arm others.

I remember when John Lennon’s song “Imagine” was released. He was of the same mind as atheists, “Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.” Yes, lets imagine that for a moment. Atheists claim the world would be a much better place without a belief in God (or gods). Really!? So with no foundation in what is right or wrong or that we are accountable to a creator, where would that lead? Does anyone remember communism? Really, atheists are guilty of their own set of atrocities, but they conveniently sweep that all that under the carpet.

And what would the world be like if everyone believed they had no accountability for morals? Well, actually pretty much the world we live in today but much worse. Since atheism would never dare dictate morality or ethics, any general sense of conscience or principals, our law books would have to grow exponentially to address what is lawful and what is not down to the point of dictating every move we make (in dogmatic & authoritarian terms). Fahrenheit 451 presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. In other words keep the people stupid and keep them all thinking the same hedonistic way. Sounds like an atheist’s paradise.

In short, atheists are right in sizing up the hypocrisy of the world’s religions. However, to throw the Bible in that heap is a huge mistake. And to say human misconduct is proof there is no God is as shallow as to claim that car manufacturers are guilty because drivers are reckless on the road.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rev.20:12 New Scrolls-What Content

What Will the New Scrolls Contain?
Scripture (specifically Revelation 20:12) mentions the future existence of new scrolls. What the exact content will be is not stated except to mention that “judging of the dead” will be based on what is in those scrolls. However, we have only to look at history to get a high-level idea of what it will contain. But before we do, we need to recall a precedent set in scripture: Hebrews 13: 8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” If this can be said of the son, surely the same is true of the Father, Jehovah; and, in fact, James does says the very same thing of God but in different words. He says that Jehovah is “the Father of the [celestial] lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” (James 1:17)
So God & His Son don’t change. But people do. At very least their situations, conditions, and attitudes all change. What is my point? Nothing God has ever told man has ever been different from one generation to the next. Confirming this are Jesus’ own words at Matthew 5:17 “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill.” Further explaining this, we read at Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus’ reply to the question “Which is the greatest commandment?” After boiling it all down to loving God completely and loving our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus said "On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets." These two quotes from Jesus help us to appreciate the nothing he did or taught was anything new. He didn’t change the meaning or intent of scripture.

Yet there are some that will argue that the God of the Israelites is radically different from the God of the early Christians. After I show them that both love & gentleness contrasted to firm and disciplinarian are in both sections of the Bible, they change their viewpoint.

What does the above have to do with what the new scrolls will contain? It sets the tone to help understand what has happened in human history and what will happen. So what from the past can give us an idea of what we can reasonably expect to find in those new scrolls?

There are three major conditions/situations of mankind that have come along in the past that required organizational, religious activity and daily life instructions. In the first one, mankind (Adam & Eve) were perfect. Nothing needed to be written, they had perfect memories. We have very little info on that period. Moses recorded merely that the human pair were to populate the earth and make it a global paradise. Also, they were to demonstrate their loyalty by keeping their hands off one particular fruit tree. Pretty simple instructions but in them it discussed their daily activity and what God wanted from them in the future. Seeing as scripture indicates that God spoke to Adam on a daily basis, if Adam had remained loyal, God would have likely continued to instruct him as the population of earth grew and realization of a perfect subdued earth became a reality. But the day that Adam sinned, God stopped speaking to him. So who changed, God or Adam? Adam did—his condition/situation changed from being a loyal perfect son of God, to a disloyal, imperfect one.

The next major situation/condition was the formation of the nation of Israel, from its exodus from Egypt until its establishment as nation in the promised land. The exodus included a vast mixed company which may have included both Egyptians and captives from other nations. At Exodus 12:49, Jehovah gave this rule: “One law is to exist for the native and for the alien resident who is residing as an alien in YOUR midst.” In setting up the Mosaic Law, the unique situation that had never before existed. A new nation was being born but it was not purely Israelites Jehovah used the situation to setup a worship that would foreshadow the things in heaven and the coming Messiah. The Law covered everything from daily living & social structure, to morality and worship. So again, God didn't change. The condition/situation of mankind changed and God gave them what they needed for the “now” and for the future.

The third (and current) situation/condition of mankind that changed was arrival of the Messiah and the subsequent formation of the Christian brotherhood comprised of both “Jew” and “Gentile.” So what was so different that these new writings (Christian Scriptures) were absolutely needed? A major event had happened—Christians were no longer looking for the Messiah, they found him. Jewish converts no longer were bound to the sacrifices under the Mosaic Law because their sacrificial lamb, Jesus, was a sacrifice to end all sacrifices. With that, just what would be expected of Christians to demonstrate worship? The public proclamation of the good news fills that need along with regular Christian fellowship. They learned how to teach other Jews by reasoning with them using the Hebrew scriptures to show how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. The writings also captured indisputable proof that God had abandoned the Jewish nation and setup a new nation (1 Peter 2:9) and his approval & blessings are recounted throughout the book of Acts. And finally, the addition of non-Jews to the new nation, a single brotherhood, was completely different from past experience. Organizationally, Christians were also setup a bit different. Jewish society had kings, priests, Levites and others. Since Jesus is King of Kings and a priest in the manner of Melchezedek, none of that was needed. However, the apostles became a central hub of decision making. “Older men” in each congregation were appointed to keep watch over the flock. All of this helped to unify the congregation. Further, the Christian writings gave far-reaching instructions on what to expect with the coming apostasy and future "coming" of Christ in his heavenly rulership . Once again (sorry to beat a dead horse, but) what changed was not God, it was mankind’s condition/situation.

So in each of the above cases, Jehovah provided what was needed for 1) daily living, 2) social structure, 3) religious activities and  4) glimpses into the future.

It is not surprising then, that the new scrolls will carry much of the same. So why are they needed? This is because once again, the situation/condition will change so dramatically that new instructions in response to the situation are required to help us through it. Consider the following situations that mankind (after Adam) has never faced before:
·         A world without Satan. Therefore we will need to know what will be expected of us individually & collectively.
·         Cleansed ecology: Instructions on the organization in cleaning up the earth and continuing with what Adam was originally tasked to do—make this earth a paradise.
·         Massive resurrection: Instructions for preparing for the resurrection. (How & where this will take place. How & what we will teach those resurrected ones.)
·         Guidelines on the stages that the 1,000-year reign will go through to get us back to perfection.
·         Preparation for the final assault of Satan at the end of the 1,000 years.

Someone had mentioned that our current Bible will be done away with. That doesn't seem likely, again, given the historical past. Jehovah intends for us to learn from the past. That is why he captured the event of Adam & Eve's disobedience and why he didn't throw out the Hebrew/Aramaic scriptures when Christianity was formed. (In fact, the Christian Greek scriptures quote extensively from the Hebrew writings.) Instead, he shows his harmonious and consistent teaching. Likely, in the new order, we will draw from the Jewish law and early Christian writings to help the resurrected see that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.