Wednesday, October 29, 2003

 

A TALE OF THE ANCIENT FOREST

In the days of yore, when Leo the lion didst roam the forest primeval, There stoodst a great tree in the center of that ancient forest.

And upon that tree was a lever; a great switch. And all of the animals of the forest didst fear that switch, for all didst know that to touch it or to disturb it meant destruction. Yea, all creatures trembled at the thought of the switch that would destroy the forest primeval.

Alas, the day of horror came upon them, when from the mountains there didst come a great rumbling. An avalanche of rock and stone came forth, and with a mighty shake didst fall from the mountain.

A great stone, not unlike the size of Leviathan, tumbled down from the heights towards the forest. Indeed, its' path was directed toward the great tree!

And all of the creatures trembled with fear.

But The old grizzly bear, who's name was Nate, knew that there was only one hope. The great stone must be stopped. Verily did he run to the stone to stop it. In desparation, he flung himself upon the stone...

...

And was crushed beneath its' ponderous weight.

But this was a great grizzly bear, and though he did not stop the stone, he did change its' course, and the stone did just barely miss the great tree. And the forest sighed with a great relief.

All of the forest animals owed a great debt to their sacraficial freind, and they gave unto him a great funeral. Leo the Lion gave the eulogy. He said, "Oh, what a tragedy! How terrible that we would loose such a great servant to the forest, and to us all, in such a gruesome manner! We shall all remember him, his sacrafice, and his love for us all. But, I must say, it's better Nate than Lever."

Theognome

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

 

A REQUEST FOR PRAYER

I live and work in Southron California, which is currently on fire. The regional office that I work out of is in San Bernardino, and many of my co-workers live in the mountain communities above the city. Several of them, including our manager, have lost their homes in the flames, and there is no end in sight. My home is not in jeopardy at this time, but please lift up our communities in prayer. We've got quite a look at what the fires of hell may be like right now, and this whole scenario is a reminder to all that The Lord is God. He is the author of even this, and through it He will strengthen His people. I pray that through this calamity that many will come to know and trust in Him.

Theognome

Monday, October 27, 2003

 

TRICK OR ENTREAT

October 31st marks the anniversary of the reformation. For it was on that day some 500 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the church door.

So, how about we celebrate Reformation day? We could all dress up as monks, and nail gospel tracts to peoples doors. You won't get any cavities from doing that.

Theognome

Saturday, October 25, 2003

 

BIBLICAL SPHERES OF LAW: OF GOD AND GOVERNMENTS- PART III

We have looked closely at what civil government is (and is not) in the second installment of this series. With that portion behind us, we’ll now be seeking to understand ecclesiastic government. This is an important sphere of government, one that, unfortunately, has been largely ignored in modern America. With any government comes authority, and with authority comes accountability. Many, if not most church bodies, have eschewed all forms of accountability and authority, rendering themselves merely Sunday social groups, and not functioning governments of the body of Christ. This is unfortunate, for the Lord is not silent on the subject of unfaithfulness, which is exactly what this kind of governmental abdication is. So, let’s look carefully at what exactly is expected of ecclesiastic government, what it is and what it is not.

(*Note- When exegeting the Old Testament concerning the ecclesiastic sphere, it is important to separate general teachings on ecclesiastic government from specific teachings concerning the Theocracy of pre-monarchical Israel. Theocracy as a civil government will be addressed in part IV.)

An ecclesiastic government is established by God to exercise reconciliatory authority amongst His covenant people. Acts 15:23-29 gives us a good example of this kind of authority in practice:

“They wrote this letter by them:
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
Greetings.
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘you must be circumcised and keep the law’-to whom we gave no such commandment- it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Farewell.”

There is no compulsory requirement given here, but rather an exhortation to godly living. Unlike punitive authority, reconciliatory authority does not coerce. All ecclesiastic governments have reconciliatory authority, but do not have punitive authority. The opposite is true of civil governments, as discussed earlier. In the example above, it is teaching and correction given, rather than a punitive judgment. The ecclesiastic government appeals to wisdom rather than law.

Since an ecclesiastic government does not have the authority to punish, the highest price that it can exact for non-conformity is separation. However, there are a number of levels of discipline that an ecclesiastic government is called to exercise before such action is taken. Matthew 18:15-20 outlines those steps, with expulsion from the governmental influence being the final stage of discipline as described in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.

Through reconciliatory authority, ecclesiastic governments exercise dominion over its members in two ways. First, the ecclesiastic government has earthly dominion over sin. This means that the ecclesiastic government has the responsibility and authority to rebuke sinners, to call them to repentance, and even to expel those who are unrepentant. Unlike civil governments, the ecclesiastic government performs these functions in order to reconcile sinners to God and one another, rather than to retribute between offenders and the offended. Thus, it is morality that the ecclesiastic government teaches and defines. This leads to the second aspect of ecclesiastic dominion, that of discipleship. Ecclesiastic governments are called to positively influence its members to moral living through exhortation and teaching. Civil governments, on the other hand, can only influence negatively. For example, An ecclesiastic government can teach its members about the goodness and blessings from obeying the Ten Commandments, whereas a civil government can state what it will do to you if they are disobeyed, and nothing more. Any ecclesiastic or civil government that crosses those lines is exercising authority that it simply does not possess.

As we can see, the primary differences between civil and ecclesiastic governments rest in the principles of authority that the each exercise. A civil government does not possess reconciliatory authority, and an ecclesiastic government does not possess punitive authority. Obviously, both governmental types have violated these throughout history. This, however, does not validate such usurpation.

In the next section, we will look at the familial sphere of government, as well as Theocracy.

Theognome

 

SO, WHERE'S PART 3?

I know, I know. Part 3 of the spheres series is long overdue. I'll hopefully have it posted Saturday evening, or possibly Sunday evening. Sorry for the delay.

Theognome

Friday, October 24, 2003

 

DOCTOR KILLPATIENT

I brought a new client on board yesterday, a doctor who runs a small family clinic. He decided to decorate his waiting room for Halloween, and it is filled with skeletons, witches, jack-o-lanterns and other such ilk.

There is only one door that leads from the waiting room to the examination and treatment rooms. The doctor decided to decorate that door as well. Here's how he did it...

There is a gruesome looking gargoyle high upon the door, who sits atop a faux-stone sign. The inscription on the sign reads:

"Abandon all hope ye who enter here."

Now is this what you want to read as you go in to see the doctor?

I asked him aboout this, and he laughed heartily. "I've had that there for almost two weeks," he said, "And you're the first person who has said anything. I thought I'd have more than a few comments by this time."

I've got to hand it to the good doctor; at least he's got a sense of humor. I just hope that his patients do as well.

Theognome

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

 

PRACTICING BLOG EGOTISM

I do get a kick out of watching my blog's rising up the ranks on The Truth Laid Bear.

I discovered the site a few days after I started Theognome's Thoughts, and have been watching my linkmanship go from an 'insignificant microbe' to the current status of 'slithering reptile'. A brilliant work of macro-evolution fiction.

I have no idea how his site works. It's techie programming stuff that leaves me quite baffled, but I'm fine with that. I still find the whole concept amusing.

Last week, I entered this blog in his new blog contest, which I lost hands down. But during the contest period I went from a rank of 1850ish to the low 1300's. Gee, I'm so loved. Or possibly my enemies are gathering evidence against me here. Either way, I'm cool with it.

I also added a site meter thingy. Gee, this blogging stuff is so complicated! I'm glad, though, that folks a whole lot more capable than I are taking care of that portion of the work, leaving me free to babble endlessly about meaningless stuff like being a slithering reptile. Who knows? I may become a flapping bird someday... Ah, to dream.

Theognome
 

SOMETHING STRANGE IS HAPPENING

I just added some transworld articles and another post on the main blog, and although everything looks okay on the edit screen, when I go to the blog about six days worth of stuff is mysteriously gone. Wazzup with dat?

Theognome
 

WORDS OF FAITH

We worship a God that talks. He spoke the universe into existence. He spoke to Moses on Sinai; He spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus. The word of God is power… Truth... Wisdom… Holy… Just. When the Lord speaks, Mountains fall, men are healed, and the sheep are brought to pasture. The prophets of old spoke in the name of the Lord, and plagues were brought to the people, widows’ sons were raised from the dead, and bounty was brought to the land. The apostles spoke in the name of the Lord, and dead were raised, deceitful hearts were slain, and men were healed. Oh, how the great and mighty power of the word flowed in the awesome word of the one, true almighty God!

Today, we have a new word. A new power; and, unfortunately, a new god. This god is the words themselves. This god has no gender, no plan, no dominions… simply speak, and this god empowers your words to accomplish your means. The words themselves supplant the holy God of Israel. What this god wills is of no significance, for this god has no will. Where did this god come from?

Like all idols, this god came from us. Gone is the man who walks in the paths of righteousness. Before us is the man who walks in his own path, believing in the power of his words. He trusts in what he says. His faith is in his speech. His idol is his own heart, believing his will to be sufficient to grant him the same power of Yahweh. What the Creator wishes is of no consequence to him. This creator owes him something, and he plans to get it with his own power.

And what does the scripture say to such a man? Nothing at all. The bible is a means to an end, nothing more. It’s a good place for him to hide his motives with a few select verses. This tactic is well known. Satan used it too, when he tempted the holy Lamb of God. The word of God is foolishness to the unregenerate heart, and a fool can make it say what he wishes. Take a verse by itself, remove it from its’ context, change a word slightly here and there, and presto! A new gospel for a new age!

“I want to do what Jesus did!” they cry. “I want to do miracles too!” Like Simon the Sorcerer, they seek power for powers’ sake- a new and exciting tool to market. They are not aware that the greatest miracle that our Lord ever performed was to die on the cross… and to be raised from the tomb. They neglect the ministry of Christ. To do what Jesus did is to spread the gospel. No greater miracle will a man perform than to be a messenger in the hands of God, to turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

And they dupe many. Oh, the faithful that have been led astray with their wild, ungodly, and yet alluring teaching. Think of it man. To simply speak riches into your wallet, health into your body… peace into your soul. Trust in your words, and lean not on understanding. Don’t pray! No, don’t pray. Prayer leads to godliness, and we won’t have any of that! To pray, you must think, and the Lord offends the mind to reveal the spirit! Don’t think! Just speak, laugh, and be merry. (For tomorrow we die).

Oh, they hate prayer. They hate a man who knows the word of God. For the godly man trusts not in his words, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. To have faith is to trust, and to have faith in the Lord is to place our trust in Him. If we trust only in God, then our own words our powerless- unless we seek the will of God. To seek the will of God, we must learn the nature of God. To learn His nature, we must read His word. Oh, how they hate His word! His word is truth, and truth is bane to such error. “Keep the truth far from me!” they cry. “I am god! I can make truth for myself! You are gods too! You can make your own truth and reality! Speak your new self! Speak your new reality! And all things will be gathered unto you!” Such is the braying of the goats.

Be strong, you of little faith. Such faith can move mountains. It is like the mustard seed. Your faith must be in the Lord. You must seek His truth. Turn to Him in prayer, learn from Him in truth, and test all things by His holy word. The Spirit of God will germinate within you, and sanctify you to walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do as Christ did on earth- spread the gospel! Speak boldly the truth! Bear the fruit of the spirit 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown!

Theognome

Sunday, October 19, 2003

 

A TALE OF TWO LASAGNAS

Amongst my friends, and even amongst my enemies, I am known for making lasagna. I have many tales of my lasagna adventures, including the one about the person who ate herself to death. That tale can be found here.

But I must admit that of all the Italian dishes that I’m known to prepare, lasagna is without a doubt the best of them all. And, I have received not a few requests from all over the blogosphere to post my lasagna recipe.

There does exist already a recipe for my lasagna, but I do not possess it. Here is the tale…

When I returned from the first Gulf War, I was stationed at the San Diego naval base, where I went to a tech school for almost a year learning a new radar system. Rather than living on base, I shared an apartment with four other squids in National City, which was only a few miles from work. Brett, Ken, TJ and Bill #2 (I was just ‘Bill’ among us) were my roommates.

Bill #2 was about as mama’s boyish as they come, complete with an utter inability to cook for himself. This guy could not make macaroni and cheese from the box. I kid you not- he was that inept. Cold cereal was the absolute limit of his culinary expertise.

Anyway, one weekend, while my other roommates were off elsewhere, I began to make my lasagna. By Saturday night, when they all came back, the apartment smelled of fresh pasta and simmering sauce. Sunday afternoon, which is when I served it up, over 40 persons, most of then neighbors who smelled it all weekend, showed up to eat of this pasta perfection.

Now Bill #2 was beside himself. He simply could not conceive that something like this was made at HIS apartment. So, he asked me for the recipe. I told him that I didn’t have one; I just made it.

“Bill,” he asked, “Could you make it again next duty free weekend, and write down your recipe as you do it?”

“Dude,” I replied, ”I just spent $150 bucks on this, and when I cook, I cook. I don’t write. If you want the recipe that bad, then you can buy the ingredients, and I’ll tell you the recipe as I do it. You can follow me around, and write down what I do as I do it. Then you’ll have the recipe.”

Unbelievably, he agreed to this. Three weeks later, I took his shopping, and we got everything I needed for another batch. And so, he wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Some dozen or so pages of instructions on how I made the lasagna. As I did something, I told him what I did. Now it did not occur to me at the time that cooking terms are a foreign language to some folks, and he had no idea what it meant when I said to blanch this or to mince that. He just wrote it down with sadistic glee.

The following weekend, we all went to the beach… all, that is, except for Bill #2. He played sick, and instead decided to make lasagna. But, as he could not understand his recipe, ha made a few shortcuts. He bought noodles, and didn’t know to cook them first. The sauce was ketchup. He bought breakfast sausage, and cheddar cheese. And, once he put all of this together, he baked it… for 5 hours.

We all came home to a fire alarm. The apartment was filled with smoke. Bill #2, beaming with pride, presented his culinary gem- a pan filled with charcoal.

Now understand that Bill #2 was a very sensitive kind of guy; his feelings were easily hurt. And he was expecting us to eat this thing of his. I told him that I was full from ice cream at the beach, but to save me some for later. Brett said that the cat would die from that, much less he eat it. Ken simply shook his head and repeated, “dude, dude, dude…” TJ offered to take it to class to share with his instructors. Thankfully, Bill #2 took him up on the offer.

Now what I’m about to post here is not for Bill #2’s lasagna, but rather the one that inspired it. So, here ya go.

THEOGNOME’S LASAGNA

*Note- I typically make huge amounts of the stuff, assembling the lasagna’s in turkey basking pans, and making enough to serve 60 persons or more. The stuff freezes extremely well (like most pasta), so if you follow the proportions here, make sure you’ve got freezer room. Otherwise, divide the recipe by 5.

1. The Sauce

*note- You will make new friends while this sauce simmers. The aroma fills a neighborhood.

A. Blanch, peel and seed about 10 pounds of fresh, homegrown tomatoes, and make about a gallon of tomato sauce. If fresh tomatoes are not available, get a gallon of tomato sauce. Don’t buy pre-made red sauce. That’s pure blasphemy.

B. Slice up a pound of Portabella mushrooms and toss them in.

C. Slice up another pound of regular mushrooms and toss them it, too.

D. Chop three large onions and throw into the pot.

E. Mince a whole lot of garlic. 40 or 50 cloves worth. Put it in.

F. You’ll need to add about 12 oz. of sliced black olives.

G. ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil needs to go in.

H. 1 ½ cup of brown sugar gets added.

I. Chop 2 pounds of Roma tomatoes and throw them in.

J. Add three to four tablespoons of celery salt.

K. I sometimes put in a cup of pickled artichoke hearts.

L. About ½ pound of red bell peppers, finely chopped, will do fine.

M. In a pot bigger than life size, bring this to a simmer extremely slowly. If it takes less than an hour to get it to simmer, you went too fast.

N. Once it’s simmering, add your fresh herbs- oregano, basil, cilantro, savory, rubbed sage, thyme, cracked fennel, marjoram and rosemary. Be generous with all, and spice to taste.

O. Hot stuff. Black and Cayenne pepper. Add to taste and then, once it’s as hot as you like it, add half again the amount of peppers you put in. Don’t worry, just do it.

P. Take a pound of mild Italian sausage, remove the skin, and lightly brown it nice and loose. Do not drain, but add whatever’s in the skillet to the sauce.

Q. Cover and simmer on incredibly low heat for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

R. You may want to check it for spices/sweetness at the six hour mark, to see if it’s to taste. Remember that it will be spicier hot than you’d prefer. This is normal. The final product will be perfect. Trust me. Don’t make it too sweet, though.


The Pasta

*Note- If you make your own pasta, this whole process will take about two days to make. However, if you buy lasagna noodles in a box, you’ll never know what true lasagna heaven tastes like. Choose this day whom you will serve…

*note- if you make the amount of sauce that I spoke of above, you’ll need five to six batches of pasta. The following is a single batch.

A. Put a coupla cups of flour in a mixing bowl.

B. Put a coupla pinches of oregano, dried basil, sage and marjoram in with the flour, along with a healthy pinch of salt. Mix it together.

C. Beat two eggs, and add to the flour.

D. Add a tablespoon of olive oil.

E. Throw in about a half-cup of water.

F. Mix this all together real good.

G. On a floured counter, kneed this mass until it is nice and smooth. Then, cover it and let it sit for ten minutes or so.

H. Cut the dough into 4 portions.

I. (I always used a pasta machine) pass each portion through the machine repeatedly until it is about 1/16th inch thick. Then, cut the strip into equal lengths. Dust the dough with flour as you pass it through.

J. With fingers well floured, hold pasta end with one hand while with the other, run your fingers pinched along each edge. It’s kinda like using curling ribbon. This gives the lasagna its curly edges.

K. Hang the pasta to dry on a rack or even some clothes hangers if that’s all you got. Let it dry overnight.


Meats, cheeses and such

*note- I am a fanatic. Cheese is the stuff that the Israelites lived off of for 40 years in the wilderness.

A. 3 pounds of mild Italian Sausage. Skin and brown loose.

B. 3 pounds of Mozzarella cheese. Grated.

C. A pound of Ricotta cheese, too.

D. A pound of cottage cheese.

E. A wedge of Romano and a wedge of Parmesan both finely grated.

F. Muenster. ½ pound, medium grate.

G. Provolone, ½ pound, medium grate.

H. Monterey Jack is good, too. 1 pound.


4. Put it all together

*Note- boy, will you need counter space.

A. I a really huge pot, bring about two gallons of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of Olive oil and about 20 fennel seeds to the water.

B. Boil some of your pasta al dente

C. Once cooked, using your lasagna pan, lay down pasta in the pan.

D. Ladle some sauce until the pasta is lightly covered.

E. Sprinkle sausage over the sauce.

F. Liberally apply mozzarella, and then add the other cheeses. Add them proportionally to the amounts you have. Romano and Parmesan should be used the least. Don’t go overboard with these two cheeses.

G. Repeat until the pan is full. Then, grab another pan until you’re out of stuff.


5. Cook and eat!

*Note- This stuff is really good. We (the roommates mentioned above) would get ‘pasta fuzzies’. That’s where you have eaten so much carbohydrates that the hairs on your arm stand up, but you’re so full that you can’t move. You just sit there, groan and watch you hairs dance. It’s a good feeling.

A. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

B. Cook the lasagna for 35 minutes if you’re using a lasagna pan. If you’re using a turkey-roasting pan like I do, cook for one hour.



…And that’s it. Lasagna to die for. Enjoy!

Theognome


 

PLEASE HELP THE CLUELESS

Okay. I'm having permalink conniptions here. I've turned on the title function in my blog settings, but still it is not doing the permalink thing. It would seem that the title is part of the H2 field, and in my template the script for the permalink goes as follows:

*note- usually, the '<' and the '>' are used, but when I tried to post this, it wouldn't display properly. So, I'll be substituting '[' and ']', respectively.

[BlogItemTitle][h2][$BlogItemTitle$][a name="[$BlogItemNumber$]"] [/a][/h2][/BlogItemTitle]
[div class="blogPost"]

The anchor seems to be correct... but being clueless (as the title of this post implies) I'm not certain of this. Any suggestions out there?

I just tried to post this, and the template script was all kinds of goofy... Ugh. How do I make this work?

Theognome

Saturday, October 18, 2003

 

TO PERMALINK, OR NOT TO PERMALINK

That is the question. I hope that this change has made them work, but I really don't know if it has. Also, I'm not sure exactly what a permalink is. Some kind of anchor I suppose in the title of the post.

Gosh, it's folks like me that make Democrats write licensing laws. Ugh. Blogging without a license. The ultimate crime.

Theognome

Thursday, October 16, 2003

 

PAYING A PRICE

Back when I was a card-carrying, God-hating pagan, I thought that Christians, generally speaking, were a bunch of ignorant fools.

So, now that I am a Reformed, professing Christian, I'd like to say this- Christians, generally speaking, are a bunch of ignorant fools.

I call them ignorant because the vast majority of Christendom has never read the Bible. Oh, most have read little scraps here and there, and can even quote a few of those scraps. But they are just that-scraps: Crumbs of God's word completely removed from their context. Biblical illiteracy is pandemic, and few are those believers who actually know their Bibles.

Thus, they are fools as well. The average Christian, when asked about their faith, sounds no different than any tolerance loving, clueless liberal except that they sprinkle the name 'Jesus' here and there at random. When Christians sound just like the pagan world, they are fools. No, they are worse than fools, for they have the truth, but ignore it and follow Satan's ways in the name of Christ.

Look around folks. How many Christians have you heard claim that God's word is full of errors, inconsistencies, or is simply not relevant? The answer is- most of them. And for anyone that actually has read the entirety of the Word, such nonsense reeks of pathetic unbelief. Note that the Bible also claims the same, it is unbelief; a mark of non-Christianity. Perhaps that is why we hear these kind of criticisms. Since the Bible condemns such faithless idiots, the faithless idiots condemn the Bible, and oh, do they do it with such great self-righteousness.

This scenario is nothing new. Go read the book of Jeremiah (oh, that's right. It's *gasp* Old Testament. That was the mean, wrathful God, and so you can throw away that whole section of the Bible) and you'll find the same kind of stupid, faithless false teachers puking the same kind of unbelief into the ears of the masses. And the masses love that stuff! "Tickle our ears", says the masses, "and we'll follow you anywhere!" Well, they're leading you into the pit of hell. But at least the masses will go there smiling and smug, convinced that they are above reproach. Idiots.

My regular readers will remember that in my own testimony, I was a pagan when I first read the Bible cover to cover, twice. Even as an unbeliever, I could see just how stupid, foolish and ignorant Christians were and continue to be. And, since God's Word clearly states that such faithlessness leads to curses and oblivion, Old Testament or New, as a pagan I could also see those very curses in action. As a believer, I also can see them... And weep. We will pay the price for unbelief and foolishness.

There is no greater cure for Christian complacency than the Word of God, yet that is the place few dare to trod. So, here's my tiny little voice crying out, "Wake up, you who claim the Lord, and start to learn His truth! Read your blasted Bibles! Stop living like ignorant fools!!!"

Theognome
 
DRIVING DIRT

Some folks are quite fastidious about keeping their cars clean. I'm not among them.

For one thing, my car is tan in color. Being that it is the color of dirt, I can leave it unwashed for weeks or months before it becomes extremely noticeable. Of course, I do have to knock the chunks off of the windows on occasion so I can see where I'm going.

The inside, however, is constantly trashed. Papers, catalogs, files, food wrappers left over from my dashboard dining... The interior barely has room for the driver, much less passengers. I dare not open the sunroof, for if I do my paperwork goes flying elsewhere. Also, the inside is quite dirty and dusty. The dashboard is covered with dust about 1/8 to 1/4 inch think. The carpet on the floor (at least in those very few places where it can be seen) is also full of gravel, dirt and other debris. Verily, it is one of the most trashed Benzes out there.

The funny thing is, my car is about the only thing I keep this way. My woodshop is a 'there's a place for everything, and everything in its place' kinda thing. The house is also well kept, and this is not just because of Toni; though she is one excellent, fastidious wife. Even in my bachelor days, my cars were trash cans, but my home and workplace were very clean. Perhaps this is some kind of mental disorder. (I'm certain that some of my readers have already presumed that I have some kind of mental deficiency by now.)

So if you see a car going down the road that is just absolutely filthy, keep in mind that the driver may not have all of his or her stuff that way. Some of us just don't clean our cars. Bummer.

Theognome

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

 
THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT OF FREE WILL

We have all heard the term ‘free will’ many times throughout our Christian lives. Even non-Christians appeal to it. But what is it? When we hear the term, what does it imply? How is it defined in the scripture? The bible does speak about free will, and goes into great lengths to define it. First, let’s look into how we see this term used in contemporary Christendom and pagandom.

1. “You choose what you believe, I’ll choose what I believe.”

This interpretation of free will suggests that all religions are the same. Man is free to choose to be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, or whatever. No single religion is more correct than another, being religious is simply a matter of taste. Someone who is a devout Roman Catholic is no different than a devout Calvinist or a devout Shintoist, since they are that way by mere choice. This version of free will denies absolute truth, since something ‘true for you’ may not be ‘true for me’. This viewpoint, though sometimes seen in Christian circles, is most often encountered among pagans.

2. I’m a Christian of my own free will.”

This view of free will differs little from the above description. The primary idea is that the person who is Christian chose to believe in Christ of his or her own volition. Proponents of this version of free will typically appeal to God’s love, for a loving God would not want anyone to be unsaved. Others also demonstrate scriptures that speak specifically about the will of man, and how men make choices by their will. It becomes difficult, however, to separate these two definitions because the root of them is the same: Man chooses his religion.

So, am I trying to say that man does not have free will? No, I’m not. We’ve looked at some of the things that it is not, so now let’s look at what it is.


The Nature of Man

God created Adam, the first man, with a free will. He was made innocent, and without knowledge of sin. However, man chose to disobey God. Adam and Eve were told that, if they ate of the fruit, they would be like God. Wow! Wouldn’t that be awesome! So they ate… and became like God, but not in the way that they expected. Instead of receiving godlike power, they realized their ungodliness; their sin, and were ashamed. No longer could man walk with God. So God cast them from the Garden, so that they would not eat from the tree of life and live forever. “But that was Adam’s sin, not mine!” True, but that is not what happened here. When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God (Gen. 2:17, 3:6) it changed their nature. If my father lost his leg in an accident before I was conceived, I would not be born one-legged. But, if my parents were Asian, I wouldn’t be born black. The heart or nature of man that was innocent was corrupted by sin, and therefore that nature passed on to all men. (Psalm 51:5, Gen. 5:3, Romans 5:12-19, 1Cor. 15:21-22, 49) Because of our sin nature, and our resultant banishment from Eden and the tree of life, we are born spiritually dead. (Romans 6:23, Eph. 2:1-3, Rom. 5:12) Due to this spiritual condition that we are born into, man is sinful by his nature, and left to his own devices, rebels against God. (Rom. 3:10-12, 7:18, 8:7, Mat. 15:19, Eph. 2:2-3, Col. 1:21)

The Will- a slave to the heart

We make choices every day. How? What drives our choices? When we choose to do or not to do something, we follow our strongest desire. Our heart determines that desire. What we do is a picture of who we are. When we decide on a school, a car, to take a dare rather than not, to play ball, or whatever, we obey our hearts. We obey our nature. Test yourself in this, and you will find, without fail, that you will choose to do what you desire most, even if it’s something that you don’t want to do. For example, let’s say that I want to be a Marine. However, I don’t want to go through boot camp. So, I join, and go through boot camp. I didn’t want to go, but my desire to be a Marine was greater. So our will is free to make choices, and those choices will be determined by our nature, even if those choices make no sense whatsoever. I have a friend who has a dog, and this dog likes to chase cars. His dog got run over, and hurt pretty bad. You’d think that his dog would have learned not to chase cars. But, as soon as the dog was recovered, back he was chasing cars. It’s in his nature. And so, man is a sinner. It’s in his nature. We make choices with our will, but our hearts are sinful. We can only choose sin. (Mat. 12:33-37, Romans 7:18-23, 6:20-22, 8:7-8, 1Cor. 2:14)

God’s Sovereign Choice

The only way that a man can seek God is if God changes his nature. Why? Because man’s nature is to rebel against God. A man cannot use his will to change his nature, because his nature drives his will. Old Testament or New we find references to God’s elect, chosen, or sovereign choice. When we look at these scriptures with the understanding of our sin nature, it makes sense. This is why the scripture talks about grace. God must do the work in our hearts, because we can’t do it ourselves. After all, all we can do is to follow our hearts. When the Lord changes our nature, He frees us from the bondage of our sinful heart, and by His grace allows us to seek Him and His goodness. (Romans 6:6-7, 17-19, 22, John 8:34-36, Phil. 2:13) Therefore, someone who says, “I chose to be a Christian” can only do so if the Lord changed their nature first, thus putting the work on the Lord and not the man. Of course, there are those persons who claim to be Christians but aren’t. How is that possible? Simple. Someone whose nature is still in sin can claim to be Christian, but they won’t be doing it out of truth. Confession is only half of the picture. To be a Christian, one must also believe in Christ, which no one can do unless God enables the heart. Of course, no man knows truly the heart of another, and so we are called to witness, and spread the gospel. (Mat. 28:18-20)

The point of this is simple. Yes, we do make choices every day, and as the Lord has expressed, we must choose whom we shall serve, whether it be the Lord, or out own nature. However, such a choice is simply not available to the unregenerate. If God does not change what we are, we won't, and indeed can't choose Him. But we, as finite, fallen humanity, are not privy to God's secret will. We must instead continue to preach His Gospel, sing His praise, and continue in hope for all who have not claimed the crown rights of His glory. That is the calling, responsibility and indeed the very nature of His people.

Theognome

Monday, October 13, 2003

 
THEOGNOME'S SINS

Here are some of my sins as of late.

1. I don't give a rip what Rush swallows, snorts or inhales.
2. Baseball is, for me, irrelevant.
3. So is football, basketball or any other ______ball out there.
4. I expect absolutely nothing out of Ah-nold, as I believe that's all he's capable of.
5. I'll shop in any darn grocery store I please, I don't care who strikes.
6. The next time a cop pulls me over, I'm gonna try to play dead.
7. I don't wanna hear about the latest casualties in Iraq. Just finish the damn job.
8. I lit up a cigarette in the county courthouse, just to see if they'd enforce the code.
9. They didn't.
10. I drove 97mph catching up to a minivan, just to see what elementary school their kid was student of the month at.
11. I called a 'how is my driving' number, just to tell them that their driving was okay.
12. I picked my teeth with a pen, and now my teeth are blue.
13. I'm glad that LA's mass transit busses are on strike. Now I won't have to be stuck behind a smelly bus in street traffic.
14. The cops in Corona are on strike, too. It's a good time to do some street crime out there.

But in spite of all of my sins, I know that the Lord has a plan for me anyway.

Theognome

Sunday, October 12, 2003

 
HEAVEN MIGHT TASTE LIKE THIS

After a morning of worship and an afternoon of being an internet troublemaker, I now am sitting at the computer with a platefull of dinner. here's what beckons me from upon it:

1. A calzone (from the calzone recipe)
2. Some spagetti that the Purdiest made. (seriously good stuff)
3. A fixin' of leftover Crab Tortellini Tuscany (also from a posted recipe)

Culinary ecstasy has been achieved.

This is a good summation for this weekend. Toni and Mama are still in the throes of quilting, and the whole house is covered with patches, squares, and other such evidences of domestic dominion being exercised by the Purdiest girl. Therefore, I can blog, surf and otherwise be a nuisance to cyberspace to my heart's content.

I can also reflect on what I did to my site. Toni mentioned that, "It's so earthy colored now." Most appropriate. Being male, I have an affinity for things earthy. I suppose it's a Genesis 3 thing.

Anyway, I reflect at this time upon how the Lord has blessed me so incredibly. I have some of the finest grub to munch this side of Eden. I have a home, in Southron California no less, sitting on about 1/3 acre and teeming with life and love. I have the most beautiful, godly and lovely woman as my bride that I can give my love to as much as I wish. I work with godly men, and can spread the gospel as I perform my work. I, Sir, am truly blessed of God.

Yes, it is true that I do have some obstacles and challenges before me, but they are truly insignificant when I gaze upon the richness of God's blessings before me. I am utterly unworthy of His beautiful gifts. I pray that the words of my mouth, the posts of my blog and my daily living in the home and at work would be a monument to His glory, righteousness and love.

Theognome
 
GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Millions of Christians went off to church this morning. Why? For some, it's just habit. Going to church is what their parents had the family do when they were kids, and so they just do likewise. For others, its so that they can be uplifted. It's a spiritual thing. They gotta get 'pumped up' for Jesus. Still others go to be entertained. Where else can you get a stage act, loud, live music and a screaming crowd to be amongst on a Sunday?

Those are the prevailing attitudes among churchers. Frankly, they are not impressive. Barnam and Bailey could fill a tent on a Sunday, and so can anyone willing to entertain or entice our idolitrous nature or help us keep our habits. When we're getting the kids into the car, or just loading ourselves, why are we going to church? What is it that we expect?

As much as I'd like to say that we go to recieve the Gospel, that's simply not correct. True, the Gospel of Christ should be part of a church service, but not the prime purpose. The Gospel edifies Christians, and we do need to be edified in Christ.

But Sunday services are for worship. Worship of God. We are to take our eyes off of ourselves and look upon our Lord.

Do we go to church expecting to serve, worship and adore the triune God of the universe? Are we so wrapped up in the struggle to get the kids, spouse and family pets ready to get moving that we don't even give thought to just Who it is that were off to visit?

If your worship service does not humble you, focus your day upon the sovreign grace of the Lord Almighty and fill you soul with selfless praise for Him alone then I must ask just whom did you go to see? Christ asked the same question concerning John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-8), and it would seem that much of American Christianity is off to see someone dressed in robes, or a reed shaken in the wind.

Should we not be those reeds? Should we not be the one in the robes, casting away the cares of the week to glorify the One who is the Alpha and the Omega? Let's remember this when we go off to church next Sunday: That it is the Lord Almighty that we are going to see that day. let us prepare our hearts accordingly.

Theognome
 
WOW! IT DIDN'T BLOW UP!

Okay. This here Theognome's Thoughts has completed its face-lift. I just didn't want it to look so cookie-cutterish. Let me know if you approve, disapprove or have any suggestions.

Theognome

Saturday, October 11, 2003

 
MORE GRUB COMIN' ATCHYA

With all of the quilting going on around the house, I once again took it upon myself to fix up a mess of grub for our dinner. So, here's another of Theognome's crazy recipes.

Now don't fret. This one doesn't take all day. Rather it can be fixed up in an hour or less. It's my own recipe (no, I don't actually have a recipe, but I made this one up myself) that has an interesting story behind it.

When I was a bachelor living in Tucson, I had a roomate for a while named TJ. One day TJ came home with a package of fake crab meat and said, "Hey Bill. Could you make beef stroganoff out of this?"

To which I replied, "Beef stroganoff requires beef. You got a fish product there. And I don't think 'monkfish stroganoff' would be a hit."

But he was insistant that I come up with something to do with the stuff. Luckily, I had some leftover tortellini, and came up with the following concoction. So, if you want something rich and yummy, here's...

THEOGNOME'S CRAB TORTELLINI TUSCANY

1. The Sauce

*note- don't be fooled. This is really easy to make.

A. Chop fine one small onion and about five or so cloves of garlic.
B. Slowly Saute them in a large skillet using about 2 tablespoons of butter.
C. Add black pepper, oregano, basil, crushed mint, thyme and savory to taste.
D. Squeeze in some lemon juice, too.
E. Once the onions and garlic are cooked through, add 1 pint heavy cream.
F. Add a cup or so of whole milk, too.
G. Throw in about a pound of fake crab.
H. Get this mess to a simmer.
I. Once it's all simmering, add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup flour to thicken it.

2. Pasta

*Note- although I used tortellini, you can use egg noodles, riggatoni or whatever pasta you have on hand. it's all good.

A. I'll assume you've either purchased pre-made tortellini, or have already made you own. Make cheese tortellini, and not meat. Boil pasta until it floats.

3. Put it together

*note- this stuff looks like restaurant food. The family will be impressed.

A. Place a helping of pasta on a plate.
B. Pour a helping of crab sauce over pasta.
C. Grate a bit of parmesian or mozzarella cheese over it.
D. Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the whole thing.
E. Serve to starving persons.

...And that's it. Easy, and extremely yummy. It also makes for good leftovers.

Theognome
 
HOPELFULLY NOT BAD FOR AN IDIOT

...And so, here is my first attempt at changing the look of Theognome's Thoughts. All I did was change the color scheme, make the blog post section a lot larger, and centered the title and logo stuff. After only a half of a day of study and practical application, that's all I was able to figure out. lemme know what you think.

Theognome
 
HIROSHIMA BLOG

Okay. Nathaniel was kind enough to provide a link to a site that gave basic instructions on what this html stuff is. So, armed with enough information to be dangerous and enough understanding to be a spot above completely clueless, I will attempt to fiddle with the template.

If you attempt to go to this site and find that you cannot, it is most likely because I have blown it up. Please collect any fragments of the blog that you find scattered about and email them to me in the hopes that it can be put back together.

Theognome

Friday, October 10, 2003

 
TEMPLATE? WHATZA TEMPLATE?

So far, I've proven to be a good copycat.

When I started this blog, I chose a template format, and have made no changes whatsoever. the reason is simple: I have no idea how.

I'm certain that all of those dashes, letters and strange code looking things have some kind of meaning, but what that meaning might be is beyond me. Heck, it took me quite a while to figure out how to make a word into a link. Boy, was I popping buttons when I managed that.

I hope that my ignorance is forgivable. I didn't grow up with computers, as I am a 60's model myself. the PC didn't come around until I was in the Navy, and there's not much room on a destroyer for a computer. Or at least not the destroyers of the Reagan era.

So, if anyone cares to point me to a site where I might find out what those letters, numbers and symbols in the template mean, I'd be most grateful. Then, I just might be able to figure out how to make this site somewhat more nifty looking.

Theognome
 
MATTHEW 21 THOUGHTS

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:21-22 NIV

As I was perusing the Gospel of Matthew, my mind wandered into this passage of scripture. I think that it would be safe to say that I’d never really given this particular passage any serious study or even thought before, and so I was really surprised when it became lodged into my skull. I admit that I must be a serious dullard to have passed this up with such a humanistic viewpoint before. It is so easy to equate this verse with man’s power, or man’s earthly authority or dominion. Believe in an action, a sign from heaven. Pray for it, and you got it. In retrospect, this is a really twisted view.

The same incident is recorded in the gospel of Mark, although a bit differently. And, my NIV has a rather unsatisfactory explanation of the incident. My Bible states that it was primarily a representation of an unfruitful Israel, and that the tree (Israel) will be destroyed by judgement. Baloney. It also says that as stated by Jesus it is an illustration of believing prayer. Again, missed the mark. (pun intended).

If this verse were an illustration of an unregenerate Israel, then why would it have taken place when the figs were not in season? (Mark 11:13) The only explanation I could think of was that there were no people of Israel that were bearing fruit and, since the Gospel had not yet gone out to the gentiles, they would obviously not have fruit either. Challenge: There was fruit in Israel. He hung out with eleven fruits and the fruits of the prostitute and tax collector genre were abound. Also let’s not forget godfearers. If there was no fruit to be found in all of Israel, then from what did Jesus build His ministry? Remember Elijah in 1Kings 19, to whom God revealed that yes, there were those in Israel who still trusted the Lord. John the Baptist did state that from these stones God could raise up children for Abraham. Let’s remember the Abrahamic Covenant as well. The Lord promised to be the God of Abraham’s children. By that definition alone we can safely say that only those who trust in the Lord are rightly children of Abraham. John B’s implication leans toward this interpretation. Paul also wrote of this in Romans 4, for in chapter 13 he states, “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. “ Paul continues to call not only those of the law the children of Abraham, but also those of faith. So, since Christ often throughout the gospels spoke of those persons that came to Him that had great faith, it would be safe to say that The children of Abraham, the true Israel, has never failed to be fruitful. After all, if there were no persons that believed, than there would have been no children of Abraham. If there were no children, then God would have violated his covenant. I don’t think so.

After ruling out that interpretation, it’s time to look at believing prayer. Sorry. I believe God, not prayer. Belief in prayer suggests that we should believe in the words that we speak. If we can dream it, we can achieve it. Pray in earnest for what we desire to accomplish or have, and it will be given to you. Although that sounds nice, and I must admit that this is how I viewed this scripture for a long time, it is simply not what Jesus is talking about. He was not speaking of man-centered belief.

Jesus first says, I tell you the truth. Christ only used this particular preamble for certain occasions. Parables aren’t one of them. For parables, our Lord typically used the phrase “What do you think?” or “For the kingdom of heaven is like.” When He started off with this phrase, it was to put you into parable mode, to seek the truth within the tale. I tell you the truth, however, is quite blunt. There is no beating around the bush going on. Jesus is not speaking so that ‘he who has ears let him hear.’ Jesus gave us truth in everything he said, and when he says, “I tell you the truth” it is to mean that his words are quite literal. Take them at face value.

So when we take this at face value, it is important to understand the value. There are three important points to this verse. First is faith. When Jesus said “If you have faith and do not doubt,” what kind of faith is he referring to? Is it faith in the mountain going into the sea? This would not be consistent with biblical faith. Faith is trust in the Lord. Paul in Galatians 5:6 stated that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Ephesians 2:8 describes faith as coming from God and not ourselves. Peter and Paul both began letters by claiming to have received faith. Faith is simply God-centered. Do you have faith in God and do not doubt?

The second thing to consider is the fruit of the faith. Jesus’ example of a mountain going into the sea seems rather extreme. Or does it?

Paul told us that those who live by the spirit have their minds set on what the Lord desires. Since faith is a gift from God, and our works are a result of this faith, then why would we ever doubt what the Lord puts into our hearts? Jesus told us in John 6:45 that we would learn from Him. Paul in Romans 3 not only spoke of our righteousness which comes from faith in Christ, but also stated that because of this faith that we uphold the law (Re Romans 3:21-31). So, faith in God, faith in spirit and truth, results in seeking the Lord, and to desire after Him. So, if the Lord needed a mountain moved, why not use one of the saints to accomplish this? Did not our Lord do this very thing with the prophets? With the Kings? With the Judges? With the patriarchs?

Belief. In this scripture, belief is nearly interchangeable with believer. It is important to remember that when Christ stated, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” does not even imply that we need to believe in what we are praying for. This sounds kind of silly to even mention, but I was duped for a long time into interpreting this as to mean that we need to believe in what we are asking for. As stated before, it is in the Lord, and His power, grace and will that we believe in. To believe in this sense is to be a believer, a child of Abraham.

And lastly we must consider the fact that this is yet another example of prayer. Jesus taught us how to pray, and in this passage reveals the power of godly prayer. A polemic on prayer could take several books, but it would be safe to say that the Lord’s Prayer or Matthew 6:9-13, is not a Christian mantra to be constantly repeated. Rather, it is a model to show us how to pray in spirit and truth. Seek the Lord, Praise His name, and seek His will, His blessings, forgiveness and grace. Within that context, Jesus is telling us that Christians who pray in spirit and truth will receive our Lord’s blessings. We will seek the will of the Father, and His will be done. Those that pray within the parameters that Christ defined will have their prayers fulfilled by our Father in heaven. I’m not going to pray for any mountain moving before bed any time soon (that I’m aware of), but I do have my own mountains. When I look at the tasks before me, I sometimes wonder if I am doing the will of God. Have I prayed about them in spirit and truth? If I have, then I know that the Lord will see to it that these things are done, and thus my yolk is upon Him. I may or may not be directly the instrument of His will, but His will will be done. And if I find that I cannot pray for what I desire in spirit and truth, as defined by scripture, then I have good reason to believe that what I desire comes from the evil one, and that really sucks. Yet another reason for prayer.

I’m not suggesting that the whole incident has nothing to do with demonstrating the condition of Israel. It is a picture of spiritual fruit in that sense. What I think is important is not to confuse the picture itself with Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question. Note that in Matthew 21:20 they asked how the fig tree withered so quickly, not why the fig tree withered. Jesus answered their question exactly as the asked it: How was the power of God, the power of godly prayer, the power of belief.

Theognome
 
WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY, THE MICE WILL PLAY BALL

While Pieter has been traveling about, some guests have run a foul on Deux Ego.

I'm talking about baseball. His political/Christian blog has suddenly become a sports blog. Even the only half-hearted attempt to be somewhat politically relevant wound up to be another 'my team's better than your team' thread.

I've never been a guest blogger on his site, and I probably won't be, as I'm simply not a political blogger. That's his primary theme, and Pieter strives to maintain that theme. My guess is that for Pieter, this is about relevance. Politics, for him, is not just a subject, but a calling; a passion that he pursues with vigor.

I would think that a guest blogger would respect that. Shouldn't someone asked to fill in at least maintain some semblance of the blogs purpose? What I've seen happen on Deux Ego is nothing less than an insult to Pieter: A blatant disregard for the work he has done to build his blog, his audience and his reputation.

I hope that when Pieter returns, he can swiftly get his blog back to normal.

Theognome

Thursday, October 09, 2003

 
A BUG BLOGGER

Speaking of interesting blogs, I ran across this blog through a link on the Rough Woodsman.

It's the Insect Journal, run by a guy who likes his insects. He has some great pics of creepy crawlies and stories to match. Way cool.

Theognome
 
SHATTERING THE PC BARRIER

Ho boy. Just when you thought it was safe to surf the blogosphere, here comes Badlands.

It is written by a fellow who goes by the name Badonicus. If you're a sensitive person, avoid this blog at all costs.

Theognome
 
HERE'S THE OTHER HALF

Since I was silly enough to post some musings about godly masculinity a while back, here's a few thoughts on Femininity. What are the marks of a godly, feminine woman?

Femininity in Submission

In the same way that husbands are commanded to submit to Christ, so wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. As the spiritual helper of the household, women are required to defer to their husbands on spiritual issues. However, this submission is not to be blind. The feminine woman also searches the scripture, and brings her questions and convictions to her husband, or to her father or church if she is unmarried. Her husband cannot exhort spiritually a wife who is silent in the home on such issues. She submits to his authority, and does not subjugate or bypass that authority. The godly woman submits to Christ’s Lordship in the home by submitting to her husband’s lordship. The scripture requires her to demonstrate her godliness in a passive manner, which is by example. The feminine woman grows in strength as she follows but one earthly man, who, hand in hand, follow Christ.

Femininity in Love

In marriage, there are three types of love. We have charitable love, affectionate love, and physical love. A feminine woman will love her husband in the same way that her husband loves the Lord- with affection. This love is personal. Service is key to affectionate love. Devotion is as well. A feminine woman loves freely, and is uninhibited in her outpouring of love. She loves her children charitably, willing to sacrifice herself for them. But for her husband, she will live to serve. For her Lord, she loves with devotion. She does not chaste her love or dishonor him, but raises him up as her hero on earth. The feminine wife trusts her husband in all things, and forgives quickly when he repents of his sin. Her love is a blanket that warms the home, comforting all that dwells within.

Femininity in Leadership

Submission and love tie into leadership. Feminine leadership is found within the family. Whereas men direct the family spiritually and earthly, women confer and advise their leader. The feminine woman never takes control of the family, or willfully bypasses the leader that the Lord has given to her. She submits to him in all matters. She cheers him in his achievements, and comforts him in his failures. She never says ‘I told you so’, but encourages him to carry on. She sees in her husband the man he strives to be, and submits to him as if he were already there. She raises him up from his own iniquity, until he stands firm.

Femininity in Providence

Women nurture and help. That’s what they’re made for. A woman that is not building up her household has abdicated her position. There may be times when she must provide for the home for a period of time, but when a woman simply does not care for her household and family and has no intention of nurturing her home, she has demonstrated a lack of submission and passionate love. The feminine woman is thrifty, and is willing to work to expand the family’s larder, but only if by doing so she does not usurp the leadership of her husband. She is never idle, and makes what she cannot buy. She does not covet what her household cannot bear. Her husband builds the house. She builds the home.

Femininity in Worship

The feminine woman defers to the church, and does not lead it. She teaches the young women to be godly wives, and the children to be obedient. She comforts the church. The godly feminine woman does not teach the men or preach, for to do so is to not submit. She demonstrates her position with humility and love. Her strength is in her silence, and through her husband teaches many. She studies the scripture, and praises the Lord. She sees the beauty in faith when the men see only the work. She adorns the body of Christ.

Femininity in Parenting

Feminine women teach by example. They teach their daughters how to be godly women, and how to submit to Christ, love their husbands, exhort in humility, nurture with faith, and worship in truth. They demonstrate by their love of their husbands the woman their sons should seek. A man who is married to a godly, feminine woman is a man who can be strong and joyful in his masculinity. Likewise, sons can rejoice in theirs as well by experiencing this godly household. The husband of a feminine Christian is free to teach his masculinity to his sons, and the wife is free to teach her daughters to respect his nature, by trusting her husband.

Femininity in Humility

The godly, feminine woman is humble. With the responsibilities placed on her, she must be humble to be cherished. The first point of humility is found in her submission to Christ and her husband. A woman of pride disrespects her husband and her Lord. Secondly is her godly love. A humble woman demonstrates her femininity when she devotes herself to the Lord and her family. Next is humble leadership. She remembers first who leads, then where he is leading. The feminine woman places others above herself. Fourthly she is humble with what the Lord has, through His goodness and grace, provided to her. She is thankful daily in prayer and deed for these gifts. Her humility is seen in worship. The feminine woman understands her submissive position within the body of Christ, and goes about her duty with a servant’s heart. She is humble towards her children, always pointing them to Christ rather than to herself.


Theognome
 
THE CALIFORNIA PUNITENTIARY

Now that the Peoples Socialist Republic of California has Ah-nold as Governor-elect, we shall no longer be known as the Golden State, the Liberal State, Homo State or any other label you'd care to paste onto our map. We will now be known as the Pun State.

With Total Recall, The Terminator, Kindergarten Cop and other blockbusters under his belt, Ah-nold has opened California up to a plethora of bad puns. They are already flowing forth like oil from the Exxon Valdez, murkifying the political pundit waters across the nation. Oh, joy.

Well, this will most likely be the worst damage that he'll do. There's still the state house and senate to deal with. I tend to think of Ah-nold as a wounded mallard- a huge, well-muscled lame duck. He may have some good ideas that his hired hands have placed into his head, but does he have a political savvy and might that equals his muscle mass? Not even close. Don't be suprised if his reign is terminated much the same way that Davis' was.

Theognome

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

 
TO LIST OR NOT TO LIST

Tell me, who reigns supreme in your home? If you are a typical American, the answer would be the telephone.

Whether you’re washing the dishes, changing a diaper, showering or watching a football game, when that little demon beckons, it’s a mad dash for the receiver. If you’re not alone in the house, the rest of the family then begins the interview process- “Who’s on the phone! Don’t hang up! I wanna talk to her!”

When a whole country is conditioned to grab the phone when it rings at any cost (does this remind you of Pavlov?) it’s no wonder that businesses selling wares would want to use this tool to get your cash. And, it’s also no wonder that they would call when they suspect you’re most likely home; when the dinner bell rings (does this remind you of Pavlov?).

I must confess that I am a telemarketer. No, I won’t call you at home. Rather, I call businesses during regular business hours. I sell to companies, not retail. But I can sympathize with the hapless dude whose computer is dialing numbers faster than you can say “drool” in the hopes of making a sale. Such a person will be informed several times an evening that their parents did not know each other.

So, now we’ve legislated those calls, and it has passed the first legal hurdle. But is it really right? Don’t get the wrong idea- I don’t want to be called in the middle of Toni’s Enchilada’s anymore than you.

If the Phone were used like a tool, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But we simply don’t use it like a tool in America. The phone is power here. It’s not a tool; it’s a lifeline. A device that living without for even a tiny amount of time seems unbearable.

My question is this. If the phone rings, are we required by law to answer it? Who’s boss around the house? Most phones have a switch that shuts off the ringer. Is it socially acceptable to simply turn the thing off when you don’t want to accept calls?

I see this No Call list not as a protection, but as surrender. It says to our friends in Washington, “We the sheeple of America cannot control our own telephones in our house. We are powerless before them. We need more freedoms taken so that we can be free from the responsibilities that phone ownership implies.”

Yes, folks, your phone does not own you. You own it. If you don’t want to be called, turn it off. You can get a message service that will record your calls for you when the thing is off, if you’re afraid that an important call will be missed. If someone really want’s to get a hold of you in this day and age, they can. Phone messages, email, cell phones… folks you need to talk to can find you. And those that want to sell things to you will someday use those methods too. Perhaps we should make a law that states, “It is illegal in this country to use any kind of technology to promote products. That is pure capitalism, and this great nation was founded on communist principles.”

Theognome

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

 
BIBLICAL SPHERES OF LAW: OF GOD AND GOVERNMENT – PART II

In the first installment of this discussion, we looked at some of the basic concepts of government, authority and dominion. However, much of those concepts are difficult to grasp when isolated from application. Also, these concepts are demonstrated in the Word of God, but not in abstraction. Rather, they are applied to specific governmental forms. For this portion, we will be looking at how these concepts are applied to the sphere of civil government, and also how this is demonstrated in the Bible.

(*Note- When exegeting the Old Testament concerning the civil sphere, it is important to separate general teachings on civil government from specific teachings concerning the Theocracy of pre-monarchical Israel. Theocracy as a civil government will be addressed individually.)

A civil government is established by God to exercise punitive authority over and on behalf of a nation of people. Romans 13:1-4 states this with reasonable clarity:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

Here we see one of the aspects of punitive authority that the civil government is called to exercise. The wrath spoken of here is punishment for lawlessness. The civil government is responsible to maintain order through enforcement of the laws that said government acknowledges. Also, the civil government is called to integrity. In other words, the civil authority must not be above its own law, and is called to righteousness in its’ ministering of punitive authority. This is demonstrated in the OT in the council of the elders, who were the civil arm of government prior to the monarchy as well as the instructions to the kings written in Deuteronomy 16:18-21 and 17:14-20. SO, the civil government must justly minister criminal punishment, and also not be criminal itself.

Punitive authority also encompasses the authority to wage warfare upon other nations. Moses praised God as a ‘man of war’ (Ex. 15:3) for His destroying of the army of Pharaoh. Notice that it is Pharaoh, the civil authority of Egypt and not Egypt itself that Moses refers to. War is a civil matter. King David wrote, “He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:34) It is the kings and princes throughout the Old Testament who shout the call to war, for warfare is under the authority of the civil government.

Please note that in the Pentateuch, there is some blending of these authorities between the civil leaders (elders) and the ecclesiastic leaders (priests). This is due to the Theocracy of Israel from the days of Moses through to the death of Samuel. These differences will be discussed in part IV of this paper.

Now the Civil sphere, having been given authority by God, exercises dominion over its constitutes in two ways. First, civil government has earthly dominion over law. Civil governments can create law and legislation, as well as interpret law and determine restitutions for disobedience of said law. Law is a tool in the hands of a civil government, for good or ill. A good example of this is found in the book of Esther. In chapter 1, verse 19 it is mentioned that once the king creates a law, it is imposed forever, unchangeable. This theme reoccurs in Esther several times. King Darius, in Daniel 6:26, set a law that all must tremble before the God of Daniel. That this decree was consciously made in all dominions of his kingdom is noteworthy, for this alludes to the second aspect of civil dominion as well as confirms the dominion of the lawful decree itself. Civil governments exercise their lawful dominion over a specific territory, and all inhabitants of said territory, whether they are native or not. An authority that does not establish law in a land cannot be a civil authority. Law and land are inseparable in civil government. The Pentateuch is replete with ‘obey my statutes and I will establish you in the land’ themes, and Proverbs and the Prophets chime this theme also.

With dominion comes accountability. Nebuchadnezzar understood this when he humbled himself to God. “…For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:34-35) Nebuchadnezzar cannot hold God accountable, but God can and did hold him accountable for his actions as king of Babylon. When a dominion is given to a civil government, said government is held accountable before God for the just rule of said dominion. Deuteronomy 17 speaks of this, as well as numerous Proverbs.

As was mentioned in part I, responsibility flows mutually between God, civil governments and their subjects. Accountability, however, is a one-way street. It flows from the top down only.

In the next section, we will look at the Ecclesiastic sphere of government, and how these two spheres, civil and ecclesiastic, differ biblically.

Theognome

Saturday, October 04, 2003

 
Saturday, October 04, 2003

WHAT'S COOKIN'

I do love to cook. I usually cook Italian dishes, though I do sometimes cook Tex-Mex and Chinese stuff as well. Tomorrow is the Lord's Day, and our church has a fellowship meal after worship on every first Sunday of the month. So, for the first time, I decided to make Calzones for the meal.

Now I learned Italian cooking from an 80-year-old, 300-pound Sicilian woman who went by the name, 'Mama Pietro'. She was never without a glass of red wine in her hand, and the phrase she spoke most often was, 'Shaddappi!" I worked in her restaurant for a couple of years, starting with sweeping the floors and eventually as a cook in her kitchen. So, I've been slapped in the face by Mama Pietro enough times to have an understanding of Italian cooking.

Now I made the Calzones tonight a bit differently than I usually do, and Toni was unable to stop eating them. "I can't eat another bite," she'd say as she started another mouthful. Mama (Toni's mom, Pat, who lives with us) was just as smitten by this Sicilian ambrosia. Toni suggested that I blog the recipe for these things, so that others may enjoy them.

This is not as easy as it would sound, as I have never cooked Italian food using a recipe. Mama Pietro didn't use them, as she taught me to cook by smell and feel. But, I'll try to relay here just how it is that I made these things. Please note that this is an all-day endeavor. I began cooking at 10 this morning, and just now finished (it's a little after 9pm), and I haven't even started to clean up yet. That will be another hour or two, as I destroyed the kitchen in the process. I always do.

Since these things take a long time to make, whether you make a few or truckloads of the things, I typically make tons of them at once and freeze them for later. We'll live off of the things for the next week or so. So, if you have a day to kill and a desire for some sinfully delicious grub, here's how I make...

CALZONES ALA THEOGNOME

1. The sauce

Note: Red sauce is art. An Italian cook is made or unmade by their sauces. Accept no substitutes!

A. Blanch, peel and de-seed about 10 pounds of tomatoes, and make about a gallon of tomato sauce. It's okay if you want to buy tomato sauce canned, but don't you dare buy pre-made red sauce. That junk isn't called 'Raw-Goo' for nothing.
B. Chop 4 large onions and toss them in.
C. Mince 30 or so cloves of garlic. Toss that in, too.
D. Mushrooms. Slice up a pound or so of them, and throw them into the fray.
E. Sliced black olives. About 7 oz. worth. Drain and throw into the pot.
F. A half a cup of so of a good red sherry cooking wine will help.
G. Celery salt. Add, ohh... I'd guess you could call it a tablespoon's worth.
H. Brown sugar. At least one cup. Maybe two. Uh, we'll call it a cup and a half.
I. Honey is nice. Drip in about two tablespoons worth, more or less.
J. Roma tomatoes. Chop about two pounds, and throw them in.
K. Pour in about a cup of extra virgin olive oil.
L. Pickled artichoke hearts need to be added. About two cups, drained, should do the trick.
M. Spices... you'll need oregano (fresh preferably), basil, rubbed sage, red pepper, black pepper, cilantro, thyme and savory. I shake until it looks right. I dunno just how much I put in of these, although I use more oregano and cilantro than I do the others. Don't be afraid to use the peppers. The total product will never be as spicy hot as the sauce is alone.

N. With all of this stuff in one helluva big pot, cover and bring it VERY slowly to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Use very low heat only. Don't rush this. Once the brew has been simmering for at least one hour, spice it to taste. You may wish to wait to add the spices until it is hot.

O. While the sauce is coming up, take one pound of hot Italian sausage, remove skins and brown light and loose. Once browned, do not drain. Pour whatever is in the skillet into the sauce.

P. Simmer this concoction for at least three hours, but the closer to six you are, the better. Sometimes I make the sauce the night before, and let it simmer overnight. I cannot stress enough to use the lowest heat setting on your range that you have, even to bring it up to a simmer. Trying to get it to a simmer too fast will cause the sauce to coagulate, and ruin the texture.

Q. Once it's cooked up and ready, remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Put it in the fridge if you have room, but I'd not suggest the freezer.

2. The dough

Note: Here's where I get silly. You can use a simple yeast dough, and it'll work. This dough, however, was compared to manna from heaven. Gee, I'm so humble...

A. Put 1 cup of warm water into a small bowl.
B. Add a dash of salt and about one tablespoon of brown sugar.
C. Add two heaping teaspoons of dry, active yeast (that's about what's in a packet, if that's what you've got).
D. Stir lightly to soften the yeast. Once it's all dissolved, cover it with a damp cloth and let it get real foamy (it takes about ten minutes).
E. In a big bowl, put ohh... I'd say three or three and a half cups of flour into it.
F. Once your yeast is ready, make a well or a hole in the flour that's in the big bowl. Into this well, add the following:
G. 1/2 cup brown sugar
H. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I. 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
J. twenty or so fennel seeds
K. about two tablespoons olive oil
L. 1/2 teaspoon crushed mint
M. 1 teaspoon (I think... I've never measured it, or most of this other stuff for that matter) cilantro
O. 1 teaspoon oregano
P. The yeast that is busily making a head of foam.
Q. Mix this stuff into a gooey mass. I always use my hands for this. It's messy and fun!
R. (I almost forgot what came after the letter Q... Gee, I am tired) Put this sticky mass onto a well-floured counter. Kneed, adding more flour, until the dough is stiff.
S. Pour olive oil over the dough, and rub it until coated. Place into a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise for about an hour, then punch it down. After another hour it should be ready.
T. If you made the amount of sauce that I laid out, you'll need five batches of dough to use up your sauce. I prefer to make the dough this way because I don't use a machine, and that much dough is simply hard to handle. If you want to quintuple the recipe, go for it.

3. Meats, cheese and such.

Note: Vegetarian is an Indian word meaning, 'lousy hunter'. You can substitute spinach for meats if you really have to, but don't say I didn't warn ya.

A. Brown two pounds of hot Italian sausage light and tight (skinned).
B. Coarse grate at least a pound of Mozzarella cheese. Be generous; for I am a cheesy kind of guy.
C. Grate fine a wedge of romano and a wedge of parmesian cheese.
D. If you like pepperoni, slice up a big stick of it. Slice thin.
E. Ham (also called Canadian bacon) is cool if you'd like. Slice it thin as well.

4. Let’s put it all together!

Note: You need lots and lots of counter space. If you've got a small kitchen, set up a staging table, You'll need it.

I hope that you made five individual batches of dough. Otherwise, I'll have a hard time with this.

A. Take a batch of dough and cut into eight equal pieces. You can make six or even twelve (tonight I did the twelve thing) but we'll use eight for now 'cause it's easy math.
B. On a floured counter, press and roll dough into a round about 12" in diameter.
C. Put a couple of scoops of sauce into the center (note- this is why you want your sauce room temperature. if it's too hot, it will melt the dough and make assembly almost impossible)
D. Sprinkle some sausage over the sauce.
E. Add some slices of whatever other meat (if any) that you wish to add.
F. Sprinkle a dash of romano and parmesian cheese. Don't go overboard with these two cheeses, or else it will make the calzone taste too sour.
G. Liberally apply mozzarella.
H. Fold dough over the mass in the middle, leaving about a half of an inch to go.
I. Dab the lip of the dough that you just folded over with olive oil. You finger will do fine, no need to brush.
J. Fold the bottom dough over the lip, and press into place with the tines of a fork.
K. Place on a floured pizza stone or floured cookie sheet, if that's what you've got. Use flour, not non-stick spray.
L. Fill up the stone with the little buggers!
M. Fire up the oven to 425 degrees.

5. Cook 'em!

Note: With the sauce simmering and the calzones cooking, you house will smell heavenly. You may find neighbors knocking at your door that you have not yet met. Don't laugh, this has really happened to me.

A. In a small bowl, separate two eggs, and save the yolks. Give the whites to your cat, if you have one.
B. Add two or three tablespoons of water.
C. Mix well.
D. Brush this yolk mixture over the calzones. This will give them a golden brown look.
E. Lightly sprinkle the calzones with mozzarella cheese. I mean, really lightly. It's really just for looks.
F. When the oven is good and pre-heated, bake these little dudes for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Eat these things!

Note: You will find yourself unable to stop eating, and could suffer spontaneous combustion. Be wary!

The calzones freeze well, and are ready to eat again after a minute or so in the nuker. It's a good thing, cause it's way too much trouble to go through for a one-night dinner.

...And so, there's my 'recipe' for calzones. Just be happy that I didn't give you my recipe for Lasagna.

Theognome



Thursday, October 02, 2003

 
A CLASSIC GREEK TRAGEDY

A man of Athens walks into a tailor shop and drops an armful of togas on the counter.

"Euripides?" Asks the eager tailor.

With an impatient glare, the man of Athens asks, "Eumenides?"

The End

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

 
TWO STORIES ABOUT COURAGE

Here's two persons that made serious decisions that took great courage.

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was nototious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed 'Easy Eddie'. He was his lawyer for a good reason.

Eddie was very good at what he did. In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago Mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly.

Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object and despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

yet, with all of his wealth and influence, there were two things he coundn't give him; he coundn't pass on a good name and a good example. One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al 'Scarface' Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against the Mob... and he knew that the cost would be great.

So, he testified. Within a year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the highest price he would ever pay.


Now, that's guts. here's another true tale about integrity and courage.

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold- a squadron of japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.

He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet, Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one suprised enemy plane and then another.

Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.

He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20th, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W. II, and the first Naval Aviator in history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.

By the way, Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.


Theognome

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