Apr 11

Fixing Education

Fixing Education

Yeah, it is no real surprise: the US educational system needs fixing.  So how do you fix it?

Well, how do you fix anything that is so steeped in socialism, it hardly knows what to do any more except require more money?

That is a simpler question.  You create competition at every level.  You weed out corruption in the government complex that runs the show – and if government is a necessary component, you create a watchdog that is strongly incented to find and reduce favoritism.  You reduce the regulatory overload that bureaucracy naturally creates. You get information out to the market so that the competition can do it’s job most effectively – with an informed consumer.  And then you let the free market system do what it does best – create a better product at lower cost.

So let’s apply those principles, and make it obvious what the US needs to do.

Create competition at every level. That means that every teacher, every school, every district competes against every other one for the students that will keep their school in business.  That means that every student and every parent will need to compete to get into the schools that best promote the student’s objectives.  And that means that every community and every business will have a vested interest in financially investing in their own future – the students going through their schools.

So let’s get to hard decisions.  What should education look like?

First, you pin a check for $10,000 (to pick a random number in the right ballpark) to the shirt of every child in the US on September 1.  That means that the ingenuity of American educators everywhere would be leveraged to create the best opportunities for their potential clients – kids from age 5 to 18.  Schools would be required to publish information on their students’ standardized test scores, acceptance to various colleges, placement into jobs of various incomes, and other relevant information, allowing students and parents to choose among schools that are succeeding and those that are not, weeding out the poorer schools and increasing the profitability of those models that are helping more children.

Next, you let a school make its own enrollment decisions to promote its approach and image, creating a second layer of competition.  A school can cater to students with certain strengths, particular desires, or certain needs.  Schools could focus on vocation, science, business, or liberal arts. Students or parents who are motivated to attend a certain school will compete on the basis of parent volunteerism or student effort or ability.  Schools would not be required to retain students who create disciplinary problems unless the student or a parent is willing to take immediate remedial action.  Businesses could invest in vocational schools, even guaranteeing employment for successful graduates.  Universities could make agreements with the academically most competent students for rapid advancement similar to current 3+2 expedited masters degree programs.

As a side note, urban centers can have numerous specialized schools, but even students in rural areas could attend schools of their choice via Internet “satellite schools” in which (perhaps volunteer, or other low-cost) room monitors and computers connect the students to a variety of schools taught by central educators online (or via video).  Note also that any student in any location could in principle be part of such a distributed educational classroom – suddenly we do not have to move inner-city kids out or suburbanites in to mix things up; let the Internet do the bussing.  This approach can level the playing field and make opportunity proportional to effort or aptitude instead of location or caprice.  Given the $10K check, only the human imagination is the limit to the educational approach, and many would be willing to provide powerful novel approaches to education.

By catering to older students with special scheduling or family needs, special schools providing alternative schedules – say, weekends and/or evenings – could provide a route to increase graduation percentages.

Schools could be privately held or publicly traded corporations.  In either case, the profit motive would be sufficient to both increase the effectiveness and decrease the cost of American education.

What is the role of the government? The government does not do a good job of most domestic services, but it has two excellent roles here, as well as a few other smaller functions.  First, it can assemble and distribute the funding.  (I would like to discuss the way that the government should fund things, but that’s a bigger question than I want to address here.)  Even in this role, government cannot be trusted and it would be to the taxpayers’ benefit to have a watchdog that is financially incented to find and eradicate corruption.  Second, the government should maintain a minimum level of acceptable output.  Given the dismal state of education in our current system, it might seem that the government could not do even this job well, but it is important that there be care against abuse of children or gross negligence regarding their education, and it is a role of justice that the government can fill.  We need to beware, however, lest the government place so many requirements on the education of student that the businesses become unprofitable – government bureaucracy has a real tendency in this direction – so the real requirement is basic justice and an advocate for parents as the parents and students exercise their choice to maintain real educational accountability of the schools.

For the time being, it is important that the decentralization of the school bureaucracy be unhampered; thus, it is essential that educational businesses be empowered to combat dominant centralized unions.  Businesses naturally resist the inefficiency of unions, so unless the government interferes by requiring them or unduly enabling their continued existence, competition will drive them to the fringes unless and until they become necessary.

Finally, an independent informational service should be created to enforce truth in educational advertising and to provide an information infrastructure for legitimate decision-making for the customers (students and their parents), businesses (the schools), and their collaborators (communities, businesses, and institutions of higher education).

Our educational system has become increasingly socialistic – liberal government bureaucracy and unions opposing any real reform.  And because of its socialistic bent, the system’s costs continue to rise while its effectiveness continues to plummet — that is how socialism works!  It is time to return to our American roots –giving our people opportunity to succeed or fail, leveraging market forces to create a better product at lower cost, and saving our country’s future from the dwindling returns of mediocrity.

Mar 11

Is God Illogical?

I read some atheists decrying the illogic of God, and in some ways I can understand their frustration.  A search for God that expects Him to be a black box which responds consistently to a set of stimuli is bound for frustration.  (In fact, I do think it is illogical to begin a search for God according to my own rules instead of His, considering the presumptive nature of the former and the assumptions which must underlie the search.   Be that as it may…)

But is God illogical?

In my experience with God, it is not so much that He is illogical, nor that I am.  It is much more that every time I think I understand something about Him I discover that there are more dimensions to Him than I had previously understood.  He is not internally  inconsistent, but higher-dimensional than my previous experience.

Think about this for a moment… There are no integers which are the average of two adjacent ones, but then there are rationals.  There are no rationals equivalent to the square root of two, but then there are irrationals.  There are no irrationals equal to the square root of negative two… but then there are complex numbers… and then there are doubtless mathematicians who could carry this sequence on ad infinitum.

This is the sort of thing that I have discovered.  Not that God changes or cannot be understood but is infinitely more interesting, real, and alive in an infinity of dimensions than any doctrine or definition….

Aristotelian gravitational theory gave way to Newton’s, and Newton’s to Einstein’s, and doubtless there is something (or perhaps some string) beyond Einstein.  This is similar to knowing God in my experience, except each of these models suggests something few-dimensional in the progression, whereas interactions with God are necessarily far more multifaceted.

In some sense, it appears to me that an interaction with God is somehow sort of quantum mechanical in that an infinite-dimensional wave-function collapses upon measurement, but it is difficult to fully predict its behavior a priori because of the computational complexities inherent in integrations over infinitely many dimensions.

I surmise that He is just a bunch bigger than my head.  Not surprising, I guess, given the ontological relationship.

Just my experience.  Just reality.

Mar 10

The Union Onion in Wisconsin

Truth is so often difficult to find… sometimes you have to peal back the layers of the onion to find out what is in the core… and then what you find stinks and makes you want to cry.

The stinky issue at stake:  Should taxpayers be forced to support liberal politicians’ re-election campaigns?

You probably didn’t know that this is the real issue in Wisconsin, not that the media wants you to know… but it is really pretty simple:  If you want to be a teacher (or other public employee in numerous roles) in Wisconsin, you are forced by law to be a part of the teacher’s (or other… etc) union.  If you are part of the union, you pay union dues.  So a portion of the teacher’s paycheck never hits the teacher’s bank account because the government sends it directly to the unions.  And a portion of the union’s income goes directly to re-electing the liberals – check out the NEA’s contribution reports.  Hmmm… sounds hardly American!

More generally, the union dues pay for several union functions:

  1. Negotiate for better contracts
  2. Keep your job
  3. Keep the liberals in power

The first one seems benign, so let’s deal with that one last.

The second and third points are the real reasons why there is such an uproar in Wisconsin.  The union bosses and the liberal democrats don’t want to lose this cushy taxpayer-funded gravy train, so they incite fear via lies and get the rank and file out in force.

Governor Walker, in his recent article in the WSJ, pointed out that Indiana public employees are doing better after the end of collective bargaining for public unions in that state.  Could it be that point one above really does not work out as everyone assumes it would? Do extra added layers of socialism actually multiply the inherent inefficiencies in socialism? Perhaps that last question is a bit of a jump, so let’s review…

Reality being what it is, socialism does not work out well.  Those that work hard discover that it doesn’t help them out.  Those that don’t work hard find out they do just as well as the others.  Everybody loses incentive.  Everybody loses work ethic.  Everybody loses.  As many examples as there are… that is how many times socialism has produced poorer product at higher cost.

So let’s put government in charge and socialize our education!  And we do… more expense, poorer product.  And then let’s add another layer of socialism – government-corrupting unions!  And we do… more expense, poorer product.  Is it any wonder we get a decreasing quality of education in the US for an ever-increasing cost?

So do extra added layers of socialism actually multiply the inherent inefficiencies in socialism? Of course they do!  Socialism squared is worse than just plain socialism.

So when the union layer gets pealed off, when there becomes a modicum of accountability, when good teachers can be retained and inferior teachers can be let go, when millions of taxpayer dollars are not being siphoned off to pay the union bosses and re-elect the liberals… you can save your state money and there is still a bigger pie to share among the people who are actually productive!

Once you get the unions out of the way, once there is some level of competition in education, once we have pealed back one layer of socialism, MAYBE we can peal back another layer and actually introduce competition into education, and then maybe the real excellence in our teachers can make itself felt and America can retake the lead in education, and then retake the lead in innovation and creativity.

But you gotta start by pealing the onion.

Mar 10

Dilution and Delusion

The gospel is so very frequently diluted in America.  And when it is, people end up deluded in the worst possible way.  The travesty is twofold – not only are people believing lies and living in false comfort while putting their eternity at risk, but also people are living within the limits of false boundaries and empty religion – there is so much more!  God’s reality for you is beyond your wildest dreams, but so often we settle for a diluted, deluded substitute…

Here are some examples:

Just pray this prayer and you will be saved. Dilution and Delusion.  Why?

It is not about a prayer.  It is about belief – a belief that continually and literally changes everything in your life.  It is about believing in Jesus, the Savior, and God our Daddy.

Please, oh please, don’t dare to put your faith in a prayer.  Put your faith in the One to Whom we pray, and not some iconic representation of Him, but the real, living, speaking, empowering, leading, loving Savior.  Even if you put your faith in some partial image of Him, you are in idolatry – instead you must know Him personally!  If you don’t know Him personally, you do not know Him at all… and you have put your faith in faith, or faith in a prayer, or faith in your leader, or faith in some creed.  That is not saving faith!

Either your faith is placed securely in a living, knowable, known Lord and Savior or it is a diluted believing that is not really believing at all.  And not believing at all is delusion and death.

Did you know that being saved is not a one-time happening?  Here is a Scripture:

1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB 18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Many of the other places in the New Testament where the Greek is translated “be saved” it would be more accurately translated “be being saved.”  The Savior keeps right on saving us, as we know Him, know Him better, and keep on knowing Him better!

You see, it is not a magical incantation that saves us.  A perfectly worded prayer just does not do the trick.  Salvation is the portion of the one who believes in and interacts with a real person – not one who believes in a religion about Jesus.

Just believe in the Scripture and try to live accordingly and you will be saved. Dilution and Delusion.  Why?

It is not about the Scriptures, but about the Person Who is the Focus of the Scriptures, even of life.

John 5:39-40 NASB “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

These days, many supposed Christians know the Scriptures better than tons of true Christians.  They look good, sound good, speak confidently, and sadly are going to hell.  Knowing the Scriptures never saved anybody.  Having figured out good doctrine never saved anybody – hell will be littered with good doctrine.  Even living “good doctrine” is not good enough.

Galatians 3:22-24 NASB But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Often, you pastors out there, it seems that you may be more worried about how your people act in some specific dimension than whether they know the voice of the Savior.  If your people think you are more worried about what they do than Who they know, then they are missing the point!  Dealing with sin in our lives is important.  Good doctrine is helpful.  But without the voice of the Savior in each person’s life, none of that matters!

John 10:14-16 NASB “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

Every sheep of His fold hears His voice.  Every sheep in His flock knows Him even as He knows His Father (i.e. is ONE WITH HIM!).  Your job as pastor is to disciple people, to lead people, and to train people to hear His voice and to know Him. Themselves.  Personally.

Ever notice what the Apostle Paul did with people having poor doctrine?  After writing extensively to his audience, he said,

Philippians 3:15 NASB Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

See, he is not so worried about imperfect doctrine as he is about not living in a real relationship that is ongoing, ascending, vital, life-giving… REAL. Unfortunately, most American “Christians” don’t know that you can actually know a real living Savior Who talks with you and walks with you and is more interested in real relationship with you (like, a better relationship, and more personal and intimate and real than with your best friend, your spouse, whoever).  Instead, they have a diluted notion of relationship that is no more than religion… reading and studying the text, believing the text, being right… dilution and delusion!  And this delusion is every bit as dangerous today as it was in the day of Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees – it is death to those “believers” – no matter how good they look.

Just swim in the emotional current of worship to know God. Dilution and Delusion.  Why?

Many who think they have faith have dead faith.

James 2:17-20 NASB  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

There are many who want to worship and love the wonderful lift of emotional worship, but don’t understand that a key element to worship is obedience… belief and obedience are absolutely intertwined – and worship is fundamentally more an expression of the Savior’s Lordship than joyous praise and song.

John 3:36 NASB “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Believing changes the Lord of your life, and a trading in for a new Lord means that your life is not your own and your world will be forever altered – by the power of God in you.

John 14:12 NASB “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

If you think you believe and you don’t do the greater works, either you are deceived about your believing or Jesus was wrong about those who believe.  Argue if you want, but your argument is dilution and delusion… and ultimately death.

Now, I love to pray, and frequently pray for salvation.  I love to read the Scriptures, because they lead me to the Word, Jesus Himself.  And I love to worship God with all of who I am.  But the center of all of life is knowing Daddy and knowing His Son, our Big Brother, Lord, and Savior Jesus. True faith and true prayer and true knowledge and true worship emanate from true personal revelation of God.

No dilution.  No delusion.

Mar 04

Your Life in My Driveway, etc.

Your Life in My Driveway

If, for some reason, somebody bound and gagged you and then laid you across my driveway, would ownership of my own property give me the right to run you over?

A foolish question indeed. Your right to be unbattered supersedes the normal exercise of my rights of ownership. But I could just untie you and then I can be on my way…

What if with some amazing feat of technology, someone made it so you would explode if you were removed from my driveway before a year had expired… how long would I have to put up with the infringement of my rights of ownership? Would I have to allow for further intrusion based on your need for food and care?

More foolish questions! Your right to live would definitely supersede the normal exercise of my rights of ownership. So just make a second driveway to access the garage.

What if instead of being vitally connected to my driveway, you were vitally connected to my body – in 9 months you can be separated, but until then, you will die if you move away or disconnect from my body…. Should my right to move freely and freely associate be more important than your right to live?

This is all silly. The answers are all obvious. It is not your fault you are connected to my driveway or to me. And I should not turn my back on your life because of my various less important rights. Sure, I should let you live, but must I let you be vitally connected to my body?

Then suppose instead that I personally took the steps to make you utterly dependent for your survival upon me and my body. I chose to get you into that position… then am I morally obligated to see it through to the end… and let you survive? What if I made you dependent on me with the help of someone else? Is my right to my body enough to let you die in that circumstance?

The implications to the question of abortion are obvious and immediate.

Fetal Humanity vs. Fetal Personhood

A fetus is every bit as human as you are. In fact, as soon as fertilization is complete, the genetic signature of that embryonic creature declares its humanity. The DNA also clearly demonstrates that the fetus is a different human individual than either of his or her parents – an embryo is a unique human being. (Neither a zygote nor a sloughed off human cell can be said to be a unique human, although each has the potential of becoming – through fertilization or through cloning.)

A fetus is every bit as alive as you are, and killing a fetus is killing a unique human being.

A fetus is every bit as much a person as you are, unless someone decides that it is more convenient to define this particular set of humans as less than a person. Certainly there are numerous examples of this in history, although most who define a fetus as less than a person would prefer not to be associated with Nazis (like Hitler) who dehumanized Jews or other racists (like Margaret Sanger) who selectively targeted humans with darker colored skin as less desirable members of the human race. People are killed for many different reasons, and some of them may even be just and appropriate reasons, but if we dehumanize the target human so that the reason for destruction can be as significant or as insignificant as an individual chooses, and so that a single individual renders verdict on a human’s life or death without hope of appeal, we surely cannot conclude that we are just.

Does a fetus need to have thoughts or emotions to be worthy of human protection? Ask someone who’s been in a coma for 9 months and lived to tell about it. Is someone in a coma a “potential human”?

Does a fetus need to be independently able to survive to deserve human protection? Ask anyone with a medical condition that made him dependent on someone else for 9 months. Is a paraplegic a “potential human”?

If I were temporarily implanted into an obese man’s excess, would I cease being human and become a “potential human”? An obnoxious mental picture, but one that makes the question of location a silly one.

Does the existence of the necessity of triage under certain circumstances dehumanize every person in every situation? Of course not, so neither should the rare necessity of triage requiring the life of the fetus instead of his mother.

The strong, the influential, the rich, and the powerful all have ways to protect themselves. True justice should defend the weakest humans against the strong. The truest injustice is for the powerful judge to protect the right of the influential and strong human to kill the defenseless one.

But What About Choice?

But what about the choice of a woman? Certainly, the scenarios above have their clear judgment. But a woman does have a choice! She can decide whether or not to engage in sex.

By the time a woman is pregnant, she has made her choice.

You see, choices do have consequences. Do we have the right to choose both a choice and the negation of the consequences of that choice?

I know that this concept is lost on many of our day, but choices do and even justly should have consequences.

One of the consequences of engaging in sex is that you might get pregnant. If you don’t want that consequence, then don’t engage in sex. This is simple, but apparently too complicated for the liberals among us. Certainly, many of us make choices that have undesirable consequences, but we all need to begin to take responsibility for our choices and their consequences, intended or otherwise. This includes justly taking responsibility for the decision to be sexually active and its consequences.

Feb 25

Justice, the Rule of Law, and President Obama’s DOMA Stance

It is essential in the pursuit of justice that the government play by its own rules.  The reason a country has a constitution is to establish those rules, and to establish how those rules will be created, judged, and enforced.  When a government turns its back on its own rules, it willfully creates injustice by its own definitions.

This brings us immediately to the situation regarding our current president’s position on DOMA.  Apparently, he has been reticent to defend or enforce this law since coming into office and has recently announced publicly that he will no longer defend it.  The media, which is apparently party to this act, portrays this as President Obama denying the constitutionality of the law itself. But President Obama does not have the position to make that claim, as anyone even barely educated in the US form of government clearly knows.

The constitution states that, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

What is executive power?  Black’s Law Dictionary provides this definition of “executive” for us: “As distinguished from the legislative and judicial departments of government the executive department is that which is charged with the detail of carrying the laws into effect and securing their due observance.”

The US Constitution creates a President for the purpose of vesting executive power in him – i.e. power to secure the due observance of the law.  He is not in a place to pass judgment on the law, but simply to carry the law into effect and secure its due observance.  If President Obama were an American patriot, he would uphold his duty or remove himself from the position of responsibility he currently occupies.

When he decides to undermine the law, he violates both the letter and the spirit of the constitution he swore to uphold.  ”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

When the president comes out of the closet against a law, he demonstrates his arrogant disregard for America and exposes himself as a law-breaker.  He breaks the law of the constitution and, in so doing , he undermines the American system of justice.  This president has perverted justice and undermined the integrity of our nation.  It is a sad day for those true to America.

Feb 23

Is Welfare Just?

Taking care of the needy:  it is a command of God to every compassionate man’s heart.  God requires His people to give to the needy widow, orphan, and foreigner.  Anyone with a modicum of humanity recognizes the mandate to take care of the needy people in his own sphere.  Do you?  I do.

But now let us look to the role of the welfare system.

It does not take a genius to recognize that there is an American caste of welfare dependency.  If it were simply that people chose dehumanizing beggarhood over self-sufficiency and preferred unceasing adolescence over adult personal responsibility, one might simply sadly allow this to proceed – it is a free country.  But this cultural prison of ignorance and depression is encouraged (dare I say imposed?) by those who benefit politically by the codependency of this welfare system.  Liberal government is driven by politicians who want the government to be the big daddy provider for the needy, and big daddy liberal government pimps the needy for their votes, abusing their humanity, enticing and/or forcing them to remain unfulfilled and beholden by their difficult-to-escape welfare policies, pretending to care while providing the solution of an abortion center in every neighborhood.

Did you know that minimum wage laws reduce the numbers of low-end jobs?  (Take microeconomics 101 and you can easily prove it.)  Minimum-wage laws say unequivocally that we would rather dehumanize you by taking away your job than allow you to work your way up, that we would rather give you free money (which would be less than minimum wage) than let you work for less than minimum wage.  “We want to dehumanize you.”  This is not justice, but it does promote a welfare codependency culture between the government and the poor.

Did you know that our laws make it difficult for people who want to better their condition to do so legally?  Make too much money and your benefits are cut off.  Better not try a job you might be able to do, because if you do, you will lose your disability status forever.  Wouldn’t it be better to structure things that would motivate someone to try to move ahead?  How could it possibly make good sense for a government to cut off benefits for someone trying to work his way out of dependency?  Only if that is where your political power comes from.  This is not justice.

Did you know that putting together a nuclear family – a stable, ordered home in which to raise the children – puts the needy at risk of losing benefits?  So our government financially encourages people to live together without commitment, to lie about their situation, and to teach their children to do the same.  This, in spite of the clear and mounting evidence that demonstrates that children have less success emotionally, educationally, socially, and economically when raised in single-parent homes.  I see: let’s invest in generations of downtrodden to maintain our liberal power through the decades!  This is not justice.

Did you know that the government fights against the entrepreneurs among the needy?  Yes, I am referring to the pimps and drug dealers.  What other opportunities can the downtrodden access?  First, the opportunity has to be under the table so that benefits are not at risk.  Second, the males that cannot get additional free money by having additional dependents need to be able to profit.  Third, the opportunity must be associated with a product that the “haves” would be willing to purchase from the “have nots” which can’t be stocks or high-end products or food or any other good thing.  So we provide them with lucrative illegal business opportunity and then put them in jail for it whenever we get a chance.  By providing the monetary incentives, we can surely destroy the moral fiber of the needy and perpetuate our liberal codependency through the generations.  This is not justice.

Please don’t give me your snide liberal “you conservatives look down at them” crap.  I serve these people.  I care for these people.  I could help these people more than they will let me right now.  But you liberals want to keep them on the dole and therefore down-and-out.

I believe that individuals have a responsibility to reach out to the less fortunate.  So I do that.  Conservatives generally do much more of this than liberals.  Liberals want to reach out to the less fortunate with other peoples’ money and leverage that money to maintain liberal influence.  The government is not the ideal entity to provide for the needs of the needy; according to the Mosaic law, it should be the people and the church.  Currently, neither the church nor the people are in a position to do it, and the governmental codependence is in the way.

Realistically, the government should not just cut off these programs.  But neither should we simply perpetuate this evil system – there are obvious better ways and ways we could make dramatic positive impact within months.  I will write on that later.  But the big daddy liberals don’t want to lose the votes when someone moves out of dependency into the satisfaction of personal responsibility and self-sustenance.  The system serves to perpetuate the system at the expense of the downtrodden.  This welfare system is not justice – social welfare as it currently operates in the US is oppression and injustice.

Feb 20

God and Reality

First, a few obvious statements:

  • There is information and reality accessible via scientific research. These are very useful to humankind and I personally truly enjoy the scientific process.  Rational process is a wonderful approach to many realms, and we as people have benefited greatly by it.
  • There are realities beyond those reachable by scientific means. This is well understood by most physicists.  Even in the space-time in which we exist, there are portions of space-time inaccessible to those of us currently living on planet Earth.  But beyond that, most cosmological models (e.g. Big Bang-ish stuff) have time and space and stuff all being spewed out in parallel.  (In other words, the first moment of time and the first infinitesimal of space were things created – and populated with stuff – in the context of this cosmic bang.)  There is something beyond space-time (a higher-order dimension?  a super-reality?) into which space and time are created.  “Before space-time” and “after space-time” seem like funny phrases, but are not unreasonable things to consider, but words like “before” and “after” require something of a different reference point, a different unit of measurement, and even perhaps different rules than our typical space-time-like understanding.
  • It is unscientific to posit without proof that there is nothing super-natural. And further the very notion of the supernatural clearly indicates that science may very well not be the tool to access the supernatural.  Certainly, one can state that God is not necessary for a harmonious perspective on life (see below), but many other well-accepted truths are also not necessary for a harmonious perspective on life.

Next, let me confess that I know God, so I that God is real, and that His reality is central to mine.

  • God the Creator exists/existed/will exist beyond the extent of His creation in both space and time, i.e. eternally. That He pre-existed His creation is a presupposition of the present active tense of the verb.  Biblical perspective on creation clearly has a pre-existent God and also One Who will continue after time.  Given that space also is a creation, one could hardly expect that it housed the pre-creation Creator.  (It is fascinating that the Scriptures declare that it would happen that “no place was found for” the earth and the heavens – I wonder if space-time no longer exists.) The above notion of a “reality beyond” is a notion well-suited to a real understanding of the spiritual realm, one that can legitimately be referred to as “eternity.”
  • God does not require people to acknowledge His existence. In fact, He seems to be pretty determined that anyone that desires to ignore His existence be allowed to do so (although at some cost).  This is not very surprising, given His purpose with man, but that is substance for a future post.  Let it suffice for now to note that there will never be a time (sic) in which man is required to acknowledge God, so in time, there will always be a place for realists, theists, and atheists.  After time, however, it will be otherwise, since anyone or anything that continues to exist after space-time is discontinued will be forced to live in that outer matrix of the eternal.
  • It is to the benefit of the created to know the Creator and His purpose in creation. In a Creator-centered existence, this again seems obvious.

Feb 19

Just Knowing God – A Necessary Miracle

Did you know that actually knowing God is what life is all about?  Did you know that “but I thought that the Bible meant…” is not the way to start an admissible excuse in the courts of final judgment?  Did you know that “Don’t you know that I did all these great things…” is not a useful comment on Judgment Day?  Did you know that “But I was taught this…” does not actually absolve you of the consequences of your life choices?  Only ONE THING holds any water on that last day: personally knowing the Savior and being personally known by Him.

It is called “relationship” and it is not a euphemism for religion.    It is intimate personal connection, not an abstract belief or even simply a willful act of faith.

Most religious people are going to find themselves pretty disappointed on Judgment Day.  People that put their faith in putting their faith in (sic) some abstract belief will come up empty.  “I prayed a prayer of salvation.”  Really?  And then what?  Was it a magical incantation?  “I believe in Jesus as my Savior.”  Really?  Who is this Jesus?  You know, He is a person, not an abstraction.  He is either known as a real live “person” or He is misrepresented as an empty theory.  Either He is known personally or the faith is a counterfeit lottery stub.  Either you relate to Him as He really is, or you relate to an idol representing Him.

“So how do you know if you know Him?”  Everybody knows these days that it is a relationship, not a religion, right? But how do you know if you know Him?  Someone is asking this question, thinking it is reasonable, justifiable.

Then let me ask you… how do you know that you know anybody?  Either you know the person or you don’t.  If you are asking the question in the previous paragraph, then you probably don’t know Him, and you are very likely looking for a religious answer to your question.  I know that sounds harsh, but if in your offense (despite your offense) you find that you want something more than religion, let me assure you that God is truly knowable, but the way forward is most definitely NOT more religion.

For example, some of you might need to read the Bible (I do, regularly), but then again, maybe some of you have read it too much and received it too little.  Jesus said that the Scriptures are not the way to eternal life.  He said that you need Him personally and that searching the Scriptures can be a deadly substitute.  The Scriptures may lead us to a living Savior, but if they don’t they can lead us to something horrible – religion.

So then what question can I ask?  The only right question is, “So, how can I get to know Him better?” and incidentally, literally everyone can ask that question every day… and really should ask that question every day.  The answer to that question is good news/bad news… just like all of true Christianity… or maybe it is bad news/good news….

The bad news is that you can’t do it at all.  The bad news is that it would take a miracle for you to know God.  But there is some good news.

The good news is that if you really want to know Him, He will show you Himself.  If you are willing to give up your own life and ways, He is willing to be found by you.  If you search for Him with your whole heart, He will Himself cause Himself to be found by you.

You see, He did buy the right to be your Daddy.  He bought us each an infinite get-out-of-jail-free card and is ready to test its limits.  The jail is sin, and the jailor is your own ways and thoughts inspired by your enemy.  But He purchased a total freedom for you.  And you can have this, but your jailor (your thoughts and ways) will lead you right back into jail if you let them.

So when you seek Him and find Him (i.e. He is found by you!), you will see Him.  And when you see Him as He is, you can become like Him, or choose to stay like you.  Things about you (that you think of as actually being you) are parts of the ways and thoughts that keep you away from knowing and seeing Him.  But progressively, continuously, serially (and often in parallel!), He will show you Himself – and you will know Him!  You will know Him as He is, and when you really see Him as He is, you become like Him, giving up your old “you” and becoming the new “you” that is just like Him!  That is why it is not a partial heart that finds Him… if you only kinda want to see Him, you are better off not seeing Him and rejecting Him.  So out of His goodness, He does not show Himself to you!

But you see that even finding Him is bad news/good news.  Bad news for all the “old you” things and ways and thoughts.  And this can be truly painful – it is tough to give up the “old you.”  But the good news is that the “new you” is better, more real, more alive, more knowing Him than the “old you” can imagine.  So progressively, and at the pace that your pain tolerance and your <<whole>> heart for Him allows, you can know God.

But this does not happen all at once.  He is infinite, and infinitely infinite.  Rather than destroying me by exposing me to His infiniteness, He shows me a little part of His back… and I know Him more and become like Him more… and then He shows me a little more.  Really, as you get to know Him, you will find it truly delightful!  It is a delightful process to know and become like… know and become like… know and become like….  It is delightful, painful, amazing, harrowing, awesome, dying, wonderful, beautiful, purposeful, life-giving knowing God!

But it is a miracle!  It is a miracle of grace… freely given grace… but did you know that humility attracts grace?  God gives grace to the humble!  So, “how…?”  Just humble yourself before Him, and decide in your heart that knowing Him is the most important thing, and then ask Him to show Himself to you.  And He will.  But it will be a miracle.

Feb 18

Justice – Foundation of Freedom

Legal, moral justice is necessary if one is to exercise his moral freedom without needing to have the personal strength to enforce it.  (Put another way, if I can exert political, financial, or military power to insist on the unhindered exercise of my freedom, that is no more than “might makes right.”  If we expect true freedom as a hallmark of our society, the proof (and even the only necessary element) is in providing unhindered exercise of freedom to those without political, financial, or military means.) To the degree the weak or those lacking influence cannot obtain justice, this is the degree to which our “freedom” is a fiction.

Legal, financial justice is necessary if one is to exercise his financial freedom.  Note that financial freedom is not wealth per se, but the freedom to free succeed or fail in the financial realm.

Freedom without justice is simply an exercise of one’s power, and it is freedom of the few, not the freedom of a people.  Justice that can be impacted by one’s power is encroachment on American freedom.

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