Friday, August 31, 2012

Bible Answers About Homosexuality

I was recently asked how the Bible feels about homosexuals (aka “gay” people).

Below, I consider the following three questions:
  1. Does God discriminate against homosexuals?
  2. If people can’t choose to live the way they want, how is that “free will”?
  3. Some say homosexuals are “born that way.” How do you respond to that?
Lets start with an illustration: In "free countries" (my experience is only with USA), no matter which race or ethnic background, no matter which religious affiliation, no matter what your financial situation is, you can be equally accepted and respected as a citizen as long as you obey the laws. But say someone of a certain religion is caught in illegal financial ventures; or say that someone of a particular ethnic background is repeatedly arrested for reckless drunk driving? Or what if either a rich or poor person is caught shoplifting? In each case what got the person in trouble is not their skin color, beliefs or status, it was their actions, their conduct.

The same goes with our relationship with God. Acts 17:30 says that whatever past experiences we had in life, he is willing to overlook our past conduct as our having acted in ignorance of what God required. The apostle Peter (at 1Peter 1:14) wrote that those who have come to know God, need to conduct themselves as obedient children, transformed from their former life styles. What were some of those lifestyles? Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 mentioned four different sex acts that were disapproved, two different financial wrongs as well as being greedy, a drunkard and other things. But then Paul wrote "but that is what some of you were." Yes, regardless of a person's past, if they truly want to be accepted by God and are willing to obey "the laws of the land" (the  Bible), he is willing to accept them on equal standing as anyone else.

So just as a former alcoholic or a person given to fits of anger can be accepted by God if they control themselves, so too a person who used to be actively homosexual can be accepted as a friend of God. I am not discounting that sexual urges and attractions are very strong and are different from being a drunk or brute. I know that controlling or changing sexual desires is not like a light bulb or light switch. For some I've known, they are never able to get over their attractions to the same gender. But the point is that they keep those feelings controlled by reflecting on how merciful & loving God has been to them and how much they appreciate being accepted by Him in spite of their inward desires. Note this statement by one of Jesus’ apostles recorded at Acts 10:34,35 "For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him." Yes, if we are willing to conform to God's direction, we can all be equal in his sight.

What then about the question: If God gave us free will and freedom of choice why can't someone choose to be homosexual? Again, by illustration, lets say a loving & caring parent tells their child to play only within fenced area of their yard and to stay out of the busy street. The parent doesn't put a dog chain on their child--they have freedom of movement. A child could choose to disobey and go out in the street. But would that be in their own best interests?  Also, how would the parent feel about the blatant act of disobedience? The child is risking his own life by being in the street & is straining his relationship with his parent. Similarly, God gave us sex & wants us to enjoy it--within the fenced area of heterosexual marriage. But he doesn't prevent us by turning us into robots and he doesn't chain us by preventing us from choosing wrong. If we want to go onto the streets of moral danger, away from the safety outlined by our Father, we can do it.

Question: I heard that people are born that way. What does the Bible say?
God wants to give everyone a chance to be at peace with Him, otherwise it wouldn't be fair. So since the Bible says that those practicing homosexuality cannot get God's approval, it would be unfair if God made them in such a way so that it would be impossible for them to win God's favor. There have been many reported instances of both men and women who were homosexuals and changed. True God did not make each of us individually. We are imperfect offspring from a long genetic line. But even people with strong dispositions toward sex, substance addiction and even mental diseases have successfully come to know and serve God. So it is not impossible to do what God and Jesus ask of us to prove our love for them.

So to recap the questions and answers from the beginning:

  1. No, God does not discriminate against people based on their background. He does discriminate against acts of which he disapproves. However, those willing to conform to his direction, whether they were previously gays, drunkards, thieves, or whatever else the Bible says God frowns on, can be accepted as his friend.
  2. Free will means that God does indeed grant people to choose their own course in life. However, just as drunk speeders choose to drive, doesn’t mean their conduct is without consequences. Rejecting God’s loving direction has consequences. It is much better to accept that what God wants of us is for our own good.
  3. If it were really true that we have no choice in our sexual preferences, and that a homosexual has no choice, then, since God in his Word, The Bible, condemns the act, that would mean that God is not fair and intends to punish them even though they can’t help themselves. But God IS fair and anyone can change to meet his requirements.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How Useful Are Smartphones?

If you have a smartphone, you appreciate all the various ways you can use it. But just how many actual, practical ways are there? I've enumerated at least 41 of them along with the 30 things (many of them are actual physical devices) that the smartphone replaces.

In this spreadsheet, I walk through a "day in the life" of a smartphone user. Read across the rows. The spreadsheet is designed with the headings: Activity, Before Smartphones, Since Having A Smartphone and Notes. As you read each row, I try to progress the Activities as if they were happening all in a single day.

As to the 30 tangible and non-tangible devices it replaces:
  • Clock or watch. (For local & world time)
  • Alarm clock
  • Calendar / Day Planner
  • GPS navigation device
  • CD or MP3 player
  • Audio recorder
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Computer (in some cases)
  • Radio
  • Fax machine
  • Restaurant guide
  • Yellow pages
  • Maps
  • Camera
  • Notepad
  • Flashlight
  • Level
  • Small ruler
  • Art guide
  • Grocery coupon system
  • Mirror
  • Egg Timer
  • Stop Watch
  • TV
  • TV Remote (requires phone with IR)
  • Photo Album
  • Compass
  • Dictionary
There are probably more, but these are the ones I could think of.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Understanding Sin

Ask most people that read the Bible what sin is, and they will respond by enumerating various vices. While the Bible does address that matter, that is not the full definition of sin from God’s standpoint. Case in point. Notice the following quote from Paul’s writing to the Hebrews at Hebrews 11:24-27.

“ By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward. By faith he left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king, for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible. “

Note that there is no mention of Moses rejecting vices--although they must have been present and available to the royalty in Egypt. But that is not Paul’s point. Instead, the “temporary enjoyment of sin” was directly equated with being associated with the pagan royalty in that he “refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh.” But why is it wrong to accept wealth, prestige, power and royal heritage? Why is that considered a sin?

Two thoughts come to mind here....

"O man, who, then, really are you to be answering back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him that molded it, 'Why did you make me this way?'" (Romans 9:20) Yes, God made mankind and has the right to define and designate our purpose. Regarding our assigned purpose in life, Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness,” and our material needs would be taken care of.

“It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” -Matthew 19:24 Once we start to focus our efforts on our own desires and our own will, it becomes increasingly difficult to submit to, to trust in, God’s will for us.

So coming back to Moses, sin is more than vices. It is failing to put God first in our life, to have complete confidence and trust that he does and will care for our needs. Sin of this sort can seem so innocuous, so innocent—“we’re just trying to make a living, get ahead in life, make ourselves comfortable.” Yet that is exactly what Moses rejected. In general then, sin is failing to meet up to our God's expectations, a falling short of a mark as if our lives were arrows and our direction in life missed the bull's eye.

Index of Blog Articles

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wild Dogs and Patent Meat

Do you remember the old western movie bar fights? One jerk starts it and then its a free-for-all. You sort of wonder how in the world everyone got into this fight. It seems staged and absurd. But then I reflect on the current round of lawsuits between just about every wireless manufacturer in the world! But to me that resembles something even more animalistic, like wild dogs fighting over a kill--that's my patent! No, that's my patent! No, that's his patent!

There has been much discussion on the web (I follow PhoneDog, DroidDog, PhoneScoop and a few others) about who the winner will be and what the losses will be. Everyone seems to agree that the biggest losers will be the consumers. After considerable thought (and I'm sure someone will refine this), what really needs to happen is:

1. The patent system needs to be overhauled.

2. Vague and/or generalized patents (square device, swipe gesture, etc) need to be revoked. At some point the whole issue of "look and feel" needs to be re-examined and refined. If a potentially patentable item has truly unique characteristics apart from shape, texture or color, consideration needs to be given to just how truly new, unique and inventive the item is. I've seen episodes on Shark Tank where people come in with little more than pencil with a twist--and the Sharks immediately point out the absurdity of it.

3. An arbitrator needs to be delegated by the various international trade commissions and that person(s) needs to sit down with ALL the players & decide an amicable solution to the remaining REAL patentable inventions. Since this is a world market, standardization needs be reached to keep the world players (device OEMs) on a fair playing field across the globe.

4. Fair compensation for any true infringements that doesn't kill any of the game players is determined and distributed over a l-o-n-g course of time, reducing the weight of the load.

5. A new competition business-model is created by the arbitrator and all players are required to sign it. This will include a new international consortium of technical operations that is developed to review claims of abuse going forward.

At some point in the process above, pending patents need to keep flowing through the process. In order to accomplish that and yet not be undone by future decisions as the arbitrator's office gears up, a task force can be assigned that works closely with the arbitrator's office. (For example, I know that recently one vendor submitted a patent request addressing the design of flexible screens. I don't know where that is at in the process.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Coming Soon To A Phone Near You

Its not often we're given a peek into the future with any reliability. Recently PhoneScoop interviewed Sprint regarding how they (Sprint) select and deploy new equipment. One of the most intriguing items in the article was Sprint's "Key Focal Areas For Roadmap Selection" chart. It is reproduced below.

You will note that the grid shows a short timeline of approximately 24 months (across the top) and, down the left margin, what we can expect to see for 1) Displays, 2) OS, 3) Cameras, and 4) Processors.

I am very impressed with the "Displays" section. Although we have yet to see it, supposedly Sprint is preparing to deploy one or more devices with color e-ink screens. In case you are not aware of the technology, e-ink was made popular in e-readers. The benefit of this technology is that it can be read in direct sunlight. (Perhaps you remember this commercial.) As a sample of one vendor's progress, watch this YouTube video on Fujitsu's latest technology in this field. Another benefit of this technology is that batteries can last up to a month before recharging. How does that compare with the smartphone you're now using?

The next major item in Sprint's timeline is Flexible Display technology. While their chart shows a scroll-like sheet coming out of pen-like tube, there are other ways of doing flexible displays.

The last mentioned was Tactile Screen. This is not something I'd heard about before seeing Sprint's chart. Here is one video demonstrating the technology. It is really exciting in that it could replace physical keyboards on phones and still give users that tactile feedback they want.

Regarding the rest of the progressions, I really wasn't that excited. You'd pretty much expect those things to take place. I have just two observations that may be notable: 1) Regarding OS, did you notice "Tizen"? It is an OS written completely in HTML5. Will that make customization even easier? Time will tell. 2) Regarding camera technology for phones. The chart shows that by the end of 2013 or possibly beginning of 2014 we will see 16 megapixel cameras. While some may drool over the idea, anyone who knows the technology will tell you that it is not necessarily a good thing. Instead of just introducing higher resolution images, it also introduces greater noise in the image. What would be more exciting is to see larger sensor chips, bubble lenses, and other advances that receive no attention from phone manufacturers.

Other news regarding e-ink manuafacturers
Plastic Logic
Triton Color
Mirasol (This last one is not e-ink. It is yet another new technology.)