Calisto MT – “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.” Noah Webster – a founding father, writer of the Dictionary, and devout Christian.

I have a nagging feeling that we’ve been disarmed because of what we don’t know. Have you seen that ad where Jay Leno asks a woman, “Who lives at 1600 Pensylvania Avenue?” She doesn’t know. He then asks her, “Who lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea?” To which she glefully replies, “Spongebob Squarepants!” Sure, we have access to pretty much every important founding document and some obscure refrences found in letters written by the architects of Amerian Government, but that doesn’t really mean this stuff is getting taught. In fact, a recent survey says those representatives and senators up in D.C. didn’t score any better on a civics test than the average citizen. Not only that, some of said documents are hard to read, not just because of its age, but those words don’t fall into American lexicon as they used to.

I’m pretty sure that if we really knew the ins and outs of the American Revolutionary War like we do our favorite sports teams, the government would be rightly afraid of us and what we’d do to them for hoodwinking us. So here’s my challenge, read the quotes, the anecdotes, and know the people on both sides of the revolution. Choose a favorite of each and simply talk about our historical figures and compare them to their modern counterparts. After all, knowledge is power, perhaps the most dangerous kind of power there is.


Wounded by the Sims Clock

Californian FB – To be honest, I’ve played the Sims II before and I could not understand why your friendship was contingent on timers. Now I understand. You see, I’ve come to understand that while I am set on default to avoid people, I’m also set on default to be quite loyal to the few friends (okay, okay, one friend) I have.

Yesterday I decided to see what was going on in Xanga by looking at the sites of my friends and the sites that are their friend’s. Big mistake. As it turns out, my friend’s friend stated that our mutual friend had been up in this area and talked about some of the developments in her life. As I read, I was quite happy for my friend, after all, her life is going great. Neither of us have been in regular contact and so that Sims II Friendship Timer ticked away. I just feel a little left out at the moment. How could my only friend not bother to mention she would be up here? Would it be too much effort to ask her to see me for even one hour? Were this the Sims II then our friendship would be greatly wounded, but it’s real life. Her life is wonderful and I feel like I’m not a blip in her life. All this time I’d often think of her and considered her a friend. Perhaps this is a taste of what it’s like for her to be a friend to me.

I’m not rich enough to know the people behind the counters of the local mall on first name basis. In fact, my philosphy of shopping can be summed up in two words: scavenger hunt. It’s been quite some time since a newly released movie was a must-see. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do in this town or the one I’m moving to. I don’t have to be given gifts if you don’t mind me not giving them. All I require is a little conversation, and it doesn’t have to be daily. Tell me how you are, what Bible concept perplexes you – perhaps we can hash that out, how I can pray for you, put up with my stories about my family, how I’m feeling (usually emotionless – but I want to fix that.), help me figure out how I can do better. Care about me. Know how to keep in touch with me as I seem unable to keep in touch with others no matter how hard I try.

I feel like I’m a little kid again, the new kid and everybody seems to already be in their own little cliques. I feel like I’m on the outside asking, “Will you be my friend?” I feel like I’m being rejected again and again for writing notes the wrong way or not keeping up athletically or for some unknown reason that everybody else can plainly see and understand and I cannot. It hurts. Even here on Xanga, the correspondance that is my friendships have lessened.

People are just not willing to invest in each others lives. It’s a costly thing to care when they are hurting. It’s a burdening thing to be needed by them in the midst of a busy week. It’s an inconvenient thing to have to stop whatever you’re doing to tend to a friend. In fact, friendship is in decline in America, both in number and quality. People are afraid of what others will think of them. Friends don’t just take from you,  but a true friendship gives back to you, too. So yeah, now I understand why friendship is contingent on timers in the Sims II.

A Forgiving Heart

Matthew 18:21-35, “21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23″Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26″The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28″But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29″His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30″But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32″Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35″This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””

Have you ever said you’d forgiven somebody for a wrong against you when deep down you were still simmering over the offense? I had always thought it strange that when our family got together on Sundays a certain uncle was never present, yet in a very old photograph, there he was. It wasn’t until after my grandfather had died did I learn that he had banished my uncle from his presence. Some fifteen years before, another uncle of mine complained that some meat had gone missing. He didn’t know that a neighbor – who was also kinfolk – took it for a barbecue, and so he blamed the husband of his sister and complained to his father. The result was that the situation was never resolved. My grandfather didn’t believe that my uncle was innocent. He wasn’t the sort to take the word of his daughter’s husband over his own son’s. So he died with unforgiveness in his heart. My uncles could have come to some sort of accord and put it all behind them, but they were too used to avoiding each other to settle the matter. Even though it’s been five years since my grandfather died and twenty since the original offense, the unforgiveness he started still lingers. Why’d I tell you this story? So you’d make sure your family doesn’t end up like mine. It’s better to be angry at the start than to carry that anger over five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Anger and unforgiveness isn’t going to keep them up at night, but it’s going to eat you away from the inside out.

Mark 11:25(-26), “25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.)”

A Beating Heart

Bookman Old Style – I’m trying to remember where I heard a sermon that was talking about how desensitization hasn’t done us any favors. I’m not quite sure of the whole point of the sermon, for that matter. I just remember this story, “And when they had put that actor on trial for murder, they had trouble with one of the members of the jury who kept on walking out when they tried to show that person the bloody pictures. That person had a beating heart.”

When we were watching a family movie on one of our fifteen channels, the scene showed a dog in the street and a man using his super strength to push a dumpster into him, The German didn’t understand why the movie didn’t actually show the dumpster hitting the dog. I could have told him that the standards set for family televison are different than those he was used to. I could have told him that in the old black and white movies, crime was shown as shadows on the wall and not the actual crime itself. Honestly, I’m so used to not being shown dogs getting hit by dumpsters and actual crimes, it’s not something I would have noticed or thought out of the ordinary.

Like many, I’m a fan of detective shows, but I prefer Monk and Psych over CSI and its spin-offs. The German, however, was a fan of CSI and so I’ve seen at least an episode or two. Whodunits just aren’t what they used to be, but the writers had to be imaginable to get a story together, weave in motivation, red herrings, and whatnot, I don’t quite know how they managed to write epiodes for Perry Mason, Columbo, Diagnosis Murder, and all those other whodunits without wanting to shoot in a thorough autopsy scene.

We watch murders almost every night on television, and when our favorite never-existed dectives aren’t enough to thrill us, we can always turn on true crime investigations. Perhaps detective shows don’t thrill us, but there are many options on the plate that is television. Then again, when we’re not rocking our video cames, we can go to war on them, live the life of a thug, and every now and then save a princess.

It’s just, I’m not sure I could be accused of having a beating heart. I can’t recall the last time I flinched when I saw violence on television. I don’t even shed a tear when teenagers make the news for being dishonorable in conduct and absent in morality. You see, I’m pretty sure that if I had a beating heart, I wouldn’t put up with the sort of things on t.v. in the area of things that I see in real life. My heart would compel me to feed people who aren’t going to walk off camera and help themselves to the crew’s snacks. My heart wouldn’t allow me to do nothing when I hear about the suffering of anybody when there’s something I can do to relieve it. So I’d have to agree that desensitization hasn’t done me any favors. Good thing I know a guy who knows a thing or two about beating hearts.

Luke 6:43-45, ” “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

The Next Day II

The events of the first two chapters are one after the other, as it is with the next two chapters. Words like while, the next day, when, and then time them in together. Here is the sequence of eventes:
1.) Peter and John went to the temple at 3 p.m., a.k.a., prayer time. (Acts 3:1)
2.) A crippled beggar asks Peter and John for money. (Acts 3:3)
3.) A miracle is performed. (Acts 3:6-7)
4.) The beggar, Peter, and John enter the temple courts. (Acts 3:8)
5.) Peter speaks to the crowd that has gathered in Solomon’s Collonade. (Acts 3:11-12)
6.) During the speech, the priests, captain of the temple guard, and the Saducees come up to Peter and John. (Acts 4:1)
7.) They seized Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. (Acts 4:3)
8.) The next day, the elders, leaders, and the teachers of the law meet in Jerusalem. (Acts 4:5)
9.) They had peter and John brought before them and questioned them. (Acts 4:7)
10.) Peter answers them. (Acts 4:8)
11.) The Sanhedrin deliverated, eventually deciding to let them go. (Acts 4:15,18, and 21)

Which brings us to:
12.) Recently released, Peter and John went home and told everybody what had transpired.(Acts 4:23)

Acts 4:23-31, “23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
   ” ‘Why do the nations rage
      and the peoples plot in vain?
 26The kings of the earth take their stand
      and the rulers gather together
      against the Lord
      and against his Anointed One.’ 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
 31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

So what do you do when two leaders of The Way return with news that they had just been released after spending the night in jail and the morning being questioned by the Sanhedrin? You pray, at least, that’s what the believers here did. It must have been quite a prayer as afterwards there was a bit of an earthquake and all of the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:32-37, “32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
 36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

The Acts 2 Church was about three thousands believers. The Acts 4 Church exploded to five thousand believers. They got along in a way that puts the churches to day, all of them, to shame. It takes the Holy Spirit to plant a church, put people in it, and help them along. Sure, it could be done without the Holy Spirit, but not with the same marvelous results.

The Next Day I

Acts 4:1-7, “1The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
 5The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?””

Peter’s speech reached about two thousand hearts, but his message about the ressurection of the dead in Jesus didn’t thrill the ears of those who lived and worked in the temple. So they seized Peter and John and had them spend the night in Jail. The next day quite a few of the who’s who in the religious community showed up for some serious questioning.

Acts 4:8-12, “8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is
   ” ‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the capstone.’ 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” “

This passage speaks for itself. Peter gives Jesus credit for the miracle and adds that if you want to be saved, go to Jesus.

Acts 4:13-17, “13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16″What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.””

Rest assured that the who’s who had not forgotten Jesus. They wanted to nip this in the bud. What would be said of them if ordinary, unschooled men took up their job saying that Jesus was the long-awaited messiah? Knowing that they couldn’t bury the truth of the miracle, their only option was to silence these guys.

Acts 4:18-22, “18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

 21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.”

The who’s who carry out their plan and warn Peter and John not to speak in Jesus’ name – or else. They let them go knowing that isn’t going to be the end of it.

One day at 3 p.m. II

Acts 3:11-16, “11While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”

It’s 3:00 p.m. at a place in the Temple called Solomon’s Colonade. Word travels quickly that a fourty year-old beggar was walking for the first time, ever. That’s something people have come a-running to see for themselves. Peter uses this oppertunity to speak to the crowd.

Peter reminds the crowd that during the Passover tradition of the realease of a prisoner, they chose that a known murderer be set free. This miracle that they were seeing was the result of God glorifying his servant Jesus and not his own doing. He was healed by faith in the name of Jesus.

Acts 3:17-23, “17”Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'”

He adds that it had to happen this way to fullfill the Prophets words that Jesus would have to suffer. Since Peter was preaching at the temple, it’s easy to picture the crowd’s look as they were listening and thinking back on the words of the Prophets. He continues to say that it’s importance to repent in preparation of a time of restoration. It was generally understood that this restoration would not be particularly soon, but that’s no reason to put-off repentance for another day. Peter finishes this part of his speech by quoting Moses. He goes so far to say that Jesus was the guy Moses mentioned and anybody who doesn’t listen to Him will be cut off.

Acts 3:24-26, “24”Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.””

Peter drives the point home about the Prophets by saying that every Prophet after Samuel and before Jesus, each and every one of them, talked about these days. This is the blessing that first goes to the Jews: that they may be saved by turning from their sins.