Thoughts for a Fall Monday


It’s amazing to me how much I had to bundle up on a 63-degree day while I was out on my tractor. Something about that tiniest bit of chill in the air and being on a moving vehicle, that while not a motorcycle, still generates a breeze while one’s atop it. Also had to take the warmth precautions because I wasn’t feeling well, yet still had to do the work, as I am slammed this week and rain is forecast.

Five hours on a tractor will get you thinking…

Ox Gored: It never fails to amaze me the responses I get when I simply bring up the Acts 2 and 4 passages included in last week’s “Jumping from Bridges.” My main point was not to talk about alternative economies, but man did the folks come out of the woodwork who didn’t like the idea of sharing their stuff with anyone else. Hmm. Methinks I need to write more on this.

Hacking Me Off: I installed some software of the Cerulean Sanctum site to monitor hack attempts against its MySQL database. All I will say is this: It’s the computer equivalent of D-Day—and all day, every day. Also, I set up a server last week to do some testing and forgot to adjust one security item before I walked away from the computer to grab a bite to eat. Within 20 minutes two hacker sites were up and running on the computer. Unbelievable.

More Convenient Government Adjustments: Seems the feds’ method for tracking unemployed workers has got some holes in it, as they now admit they failed to account for an additional 800,000+ job losses. Though I recently talked about avoiding conspiracy theories, I’m forever annoyed at these convenient negative adjustments the feds make that come a year after the fact. “Oh sorry! Everything was worse than we said it was! No harm, no foul, because you’ve already forgotten about the past!” They’ve been doing this for years now with economic figures to the point that I’m not sure how anyone can trust them to get the tally right. Which is why all this “recovery” talk rings hollow.

In the BTW Department: It’s only a recovery when the jobs come back—which I have yet to see happen, especially when 800K+ unemployed were just added to the rolls.

Holy Grail Found: After two years of searching, I finally found a free WordPress theme that combines minimalism, good SEO, easy tweakability, threaded commenting, and bulletproof operation. Though this is my busiest quarter of the year workwise, I hope to have the new look for Cerulean Sanctum up by the end of the year. Expect an emphasis on the text, faster loading, more accessibility, and a stronger Google PageRank so you can find older posts more easily.

Church? What Church? I did something today that I don’t often do; I skipped church. I woke up not feeling well, didn’t have to play on the worship team (which is rarely the case), and had a few other reasons for not attending yesterday. When I ended up having to run an errand for my wife at a time when most people should have been in church, I was stunned to note the packed local Kroger grocery store. Packed. As in hard to find a parking spot. Seems to drive home the reality that we Christians are dropping the ball on evangelism. I mean, I don’t live in a very large town, but it seemed like half the town was at Kroger at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, and they weren’t in their “we went to the 9 a.m. service” clothes, either.

So Much for the Simple (Cheap) Pleasures: Rode in the county fair parade last week with my son’s Cub Scout pack, so we got into the fair free. Still, by the time we’d left, we’d dropped close to $45 on a bare minimum of food for three people and a ride pass for my son. Yikes!

The Difference Between the Rich City and Poor Country: While riding in that parade, I noted an extraordinary amount of clearly mentally disabled people of all ages along the parade route as we rolled by. I would not be exaggerating if I said that every twentieth person was mentally challenged. It makes me wonder if we in the country simply cannot afford to send such disabled family members to expensive group homes, so they end up living with us instead. In other words, our broken people are part of our community and are not tucked away somewhere out of sight. Makes for a lot of soul-searching. A week later, I’m still thinking about this.

My Two Cents: Everywhere I turn, it seems people are talking about tithing. I wonder how much of that talk is linked to the recession and a downturn in giving.

Two, Two, Two Bibles in One! Last week, I killed two birds with one stone by buying the one type of Bible I do not own in one of the few translations we don’t have in our combined collection: a New Living Translation (NLT) chronological Bible. While the chronological part is extremely handy, my one-word review of the NLT is “dull.” And dull is not what a translation should ever be. I mean, the Phillips Translation is simply worded, but it’s definitely active and gripping. Still, I keep holding out hope that someone will do a modern translation of the entire Bible that really makes use of the breadth of the English language, something that caters to a demographic other than sixth graders. I think the closest we have gotten is the one that J.R.R. Tolkien provided English wording for, the original mid-’60s Jerusalem Bible.

Because of my workload this week, I may not be able to post much or reply to comments, but your comments are deeply appreciated. Have a great week. And don’t forget to bless others in the name of Jesus!

15 thoughts on “Thoughts for a Fall Monday

  1. Sulan

    What a column!

    At least two times a week, my best friend and I go to Books a Million, and as we sip our coffee: we air thoughts like these, discuss Bible Scriptures, and our interpretations of such.

    Just this week in the mail, I received two letters from a minister I have only watched once — never wrote to him, or called him — but here he has my NEW address.

    Stuff like this irks me on more than one level. First he seems to think I am going through some very hard painful time, and if I send him money, he will pray for me, which should make all things better.

    As I read letters like these, from alleged christians like these, I wonder if they read Job, or the writtings of Paul, or about David, or Moses, or Jeremaih, or Isaiah. Heck, I’ll be honest, I even wonder how well they know God.

    In the second letter, he implies I have just come to know the Lord, and if I buy his new book, I will be able to access the miracles I need daily. Amazing, huh?

    Bottom line? It’s all about the money. To me it is an abuse of any power they have. As far as I am able to understand the Scriptures, if God sends you — He supplies what you need.

    Just sad. And yes, I am composing a letter to him. Why? Because as a Christian, his letters insulted me!

    Thanks for allowing me to stand on my soap box and expound!

  2. Dan,

    Hopefully I’ll get a respite from writing about NT tithing, but some things need to be addressed.

    A buddy of mine, a godly man, just got the left boot of fellowship (I live in Texas) from his church and pastor because he believes that tithing isn’t New Testament. He had faithfully given his time and money to the church for over two years.

    • Peter,

      I just hate hearing stories like this. I’ve heard others say that the tithe has to go to the local church first, too, which means that even if you tithe, you can’t simply give out your 10% to anyone you please. The legalism in that is just crushing.

      It bugs me so much that so many charismatic and Pentecostal groups are stuck in the OT. It’s as if no one ever reads Galatians, no one understands the legal definitions behind being baptized into the death of Christ, no one gets the true freedom from the Law that we have as Christians!

      I am also sad to read your tale on your site about what happened to you.

      It makes me wonder if the Church as a whole in this country is just too far gone. I don’t want to be critic; I want to be hopeful. But I sure need a dose of hope in regard to some of these issues. I see so little that is positive going on in so many of our churches, and this return to Law in some groups is one of the worst trends I’ve seen. (What amazes me is that this return is most common in churches that claim to be Spirit-filled, which seems at total odds to everything the Law is about.)

      • Dave Block

        “…even if you tithe, you can’t simply give out your 10% to anyone you please.”

        I don’t believe that tithing is mandatory under the New Covenant, but 10% is a pretty good baseline. (Probably too low a percentage for the upper middle class and above.) I do think it’s important to give consistently to our local church, and not to substitute “anyone you please.” You can think I’m being legalistic, but really, it’s just the responsible thing to do. Give a certain percentage to your church (which can vary as life circumstances change, I suppose) and when you feel called to contribute to other needs, give beyond that amount. It doesn’t sit right with me to take what I would have given for the needs of my church and donate it elsewhere because another cause tugged on my heartstrings that week.

  3. Yeah, my comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks for goring my ox. 🙂

    A dude bought a book to prepare for the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam. Huh? That seemed weird, I told him. But it’s a real certification. I have a wireless server with good security on it, as far as I know. I don’t know if I’m interpreting its internal log correctly, but it seems like you’re right: every day is D-Day. My little wireless router seems to be pounded by incoming packets every few seconds, which it must block. I wonder how much faster it would be — it already is blazingly fast — if it did not have to waste so much processing power on security?

    Government crunchers: It reminds me of the story where the GAO gave a bunch of IRS agents the same return to process, and so many of them got it wrong. So many, I thought, how do we know the GAO has the correct answer? The tax laws are so screwed up, how can we ever know if our taxes are filed correctly? Did Geithner really evade taxes?

    One figure I don’t understand about unemployment: the one about the people who “give up” looking for work. Huh? How does one give up? I can think of three instances: One retires on pension, Social Security, or savings, and does not go back to work, though one might want to. I think this situation is not common. Second, one goes back to college. But how do you go back to college if you can’t pay for it? I don’t think you can get a free ride from the government, even on grants and loans and such, unless you really play your cards right. Third, you lose your house and are homeless. It happens, but I don’t think this is a large percentage. So I don’t get it: How does one “give up” looking for work?

    The First Church at Kroger! Dude, a lot of those folks go there b/c Sunday is the only day left in most parts of America where pros have off, and most other businesses are geared down with skeleton crews, if they’re open. They go on Sunday morning because it’s the only chance they’ll get to grocery shop before the Monday morning grind starts again, and they go back to their two or three jobs. At work today, I sold three copies of “Quitting Church” by Julia Duin, and I had another customer who remarked that I had recommended it to her, she bought it, and read it, and loved it. And the day before that, a pastor came in who said the book was part of the foundational philosophy of his new church.

    My friend had free tickets to a football game. Over $75 later, and that didn’t include gas to her house and back home again, I got home from the “free game.”

    • Michael,

      The IRS thing drives me insane. Yes, how can anyone file his taxes correctly when the pros can’t even do it. We need a VAT in this country ASAP.

      Unemployment: They stop tracking people after six months. The average job search (pre-recession, mind you) is nine months. So what does that automatically say about the figures? Government unemployment figures are always lower than reality. Always. And you give up looking for work when you give up looking at the same salary range in the same industry as the job you once had. Or you were dual income and are going to try to take a stab at a single income.

      As to the Kroger explanation, we Christians have got to start speaking about work issue. It is the one subject about which we keep the most mum.

      The last sports event I attended was a Reds game about three years ago. I won some tickets and invited a bunch guys to go. I spent about $9 for food and drinks. Pro baseball games are manageable–at least they are in Cincinnati–even when the tickets are not free. Pro football costs everywhere are out of control. I don’t get some of these ultrafans who are spending what must be a day’s wage each week in a great-paying job to go to a game.

      • You may get your wish about a VAT. But will this mean a lessening of income taxes? VAT chance. Of course, when Democrats say they will not raise taxes on the middle class, they mean income taxes. They’ll raise taxes on everything else, with the higher prices passed on to us, the middle class consumer. But income tax? No.

  4. David

    Don’t piss off the Ox: Far too many of us consider what we have to be necessary to life. Threaten the income level that keeps up that degree of “necessity” and see who screams first.

    Hacked Off: I’ve spent hours and hours of time that I should have spent doing my assigned job fixing the computers in my office that have been infected with rogue “security” programs, and watched the bandwidth on our dedicated T-1 shrink down to dial-up speeds due to increases in illegitimate traffic. Grrr. If there was ever a reason for capital punishment it would be for hackers.

    Government Accounting: Ditto for “Productivity” “Poverty Levels” and “GDP”

    Holy Grail, really? Was Indiana Jones still vainly reaching for it?

    What Church? Where does it go when Monday rolls around, ’cause I don’t see it at work, on the road, or at my local Kroger on Thursday evening…

    Simple Pleasures? There’s no such thing as a free (fill in your activity of choice here)

    Rich Country/Poor Country: I was always amazed at how many mentally ill/physically deformed people I saw in Africa and Asia compared to here, and I always put it down to 1)Abortion or 2) Plastic Surgery. Rural communities have many of the same issues that Third World countries have, resulting in higher levels of medical/psychological issues that go untreated. On the other hand, there is a higher degree of personal responsibility that often keeps people poor. “I could have gone to the big city and gotten a good job, but then who would take care of little Jake?” “I could have gotten a job and put little Amanda in the care of professionals, but she’s my daugher, so we moved to where things are a little cheaper and I stay home.” How many of the people who lined your parade route are there out of the selfless decision of a caretaker, and not mere circumstance?

    Tithing is for the faithless. Give 100% and see what happens. Paul told the Colossians to “Do everything, whether in word or deed as unto the Lord” We are far too focused on money, and forget that our lives belong to Christ, not just 10% of our income (gross or net, depending). “Giving unto God” doesn’t begin or end at the offering plate.

    I like the flow of words. Call me a lover of purple prose, but a well turned phrase turns my head as fast as a well turned…Well, continuing on…Sometimes I love how the King James flows, sometimes the NIV, sometimes NASB, sometimes it’s the more modern translations…But I try to read several, just to remind myself that there is no one translation that is perfect, and that God’s Word is not the paper books I have, but is written across the sky and etched in my body.

    And, just to add my 2 cents…Why is the “Health Care Reform” debate more about “Health Insurance Reform”?

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