Sunday, December 20, 2015

Never Let Emotion Control Your Words

Aren't you glad you aren't the standard for what is right when interacting with others? Seriously, if my emotions were the standard, communication would be crazy!

Sometimes I feel like knocking some sense into someone (or just giving them a piece of my mind), but God says: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

Sometimes when in controversy I want to say my side of the story and not listen to anyone else, but God says: "The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him." (Proverbs 18:17)

Often when I'm in a negative attitude I just want to complain to others, but God says: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Proverbs 29:11)

After hearing a negative report about someone, I might want to share it with someone else, but God says: "A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter." (Proverbs 11:13)

Thank God that He has made a standard, and that we are not that standard!

There are so many scriptures on communication -- saying how we need to be honest, not listen to lies, promote health and not hurt others, and so much more. (Just search for the word tongue in the Bible.)  God's word is so rich!

I'll conclude with Ephesians 4:29-32:
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Stand Alone on the Word of God; Update on Life

I'm guessing most Christians have heard the B-I-B-L-E song before. It's a nice little song, but the words are more than nice little words. They are crucially important! (I suppose that the song could mean standing alone for Christ, but I took it as having the Bible as what we take our stand on.)

The other day I was watching a free video from a college course on engineering. Near the start of the course the professor stated that this generation of engineers will face great challenges because of global warming (once he even said something about "if there are still fish in the seas") and overpopulation, because we already are producing the most food possible to produce without technological advances, and because things are not sustainable. Of course, I disagree with all of that. But wow! I had assumed (even though I should have known better) that the course would generally be neutral. But everything is done based on our worldviews.

If we view things from the Bible (which says that the earth will not be destroyed until the judgment and that we should be fruitful and multiply) we will live our lives one way, but if not, our lives will be completely different.

Increasingly, I've seen that when Christians compartmentalize their lives so that God's word does not guide them in everything, they have poor and sometimes tragic results. It's sad, but it seems that often Christians are living their lives based more on emotion and on trends than on the word of God. We ought to embrace God's word, not reject it.
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
God gave us existence. Before creation there were no people, money, government, relationships, or anything else! He gave us tons of freedom and so much to discover that we'll never be bored, but He also gave us clear instructions.

For example, let's think about economics. We don't have to try to figure out what type of economic system is good based on logic or experience. Of course, because God is the author of HisStory and logic, logic and history will confirm His word. Nevertheless, ultimately God's word is where we learn what we should do.

God prohibits stealing. Therefore Communism (involving forced redistribution of wealth, a.k.a. stealing) is wrong. God tells us that work is good. In the Bible there are many examples of unrestricted trade. God gave civil government authority to have certain, specific, and very limited taxes for certain, specific, and very limited tasks, but other than that the government doesn't have authority to take people's money.

I could write more about economics or write more examples, but I think it's already clear that God has spoken in the Bible, and we are to listen and obey.

Let's stand on God's word alone in every area of life. God is holy. He knows what is best.

A question I frequently receive is if I am in college or will be going to college, and because I mentioned that I was watching the lectures from a college course I thought I would provide a summary of my recent past and my current plans:
  1. 2014 was a somewhat difficult year for me; I graduated from high school in the second half of it.
  2. Prior to graduation I had thought that I probably wouldn't go to college, or at least would take a gap-year. This was based on college being expensive, long, and having a somewhat bad environment.
  3. During the end of 2014 I prayed and read a lot of materials about choosing a career and also about college and its alternatives.
  4. Mechanical engineering seemed quite interesting to me and thought I should at least explore college options.
  5. In early 2015 I studied for the ACT; in April I took the test and received a decent score, high enough to possibly receive a full-ride scholarship at some schools.
  6. During the middle of 2015 I kept studying (homeschooling after high school?), asked for advice from others, and gained some more real world experience by doing some handyman and other work.
  7. Several months ago I asked some colleges questions and it turned out that most colleges only offer scholarships if a student applies during high school. (I'm afraid I that in my planning I had sort of boasted about tomorrow.)
  8. So basically I decided that college wasn't an option financially, and that I wouldn't seriously consider it unless I was able to afford it.
That might sound a bit negative, but I'm really not disappointed. To be honest if someone offered me college for free I'm not sure I'd go, because the opportunity cost is so high. Of course, only God knows the future.

During the past year I've learned a lot about myself. I've found that I seem to be gifted in giving/service and related gifts. My two biggest areas of interest are probably engineering related (inventing, problem solving, analysis, etc) and being an entrepreneur (investing, real estate, etc).

So where am I going from here? Ultimately I'm here to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. The three things I'm especially doing right now are:
  1. Seeking to grow closer to God and more obedient to Him. He has been sanctifying me a lot recently, and I'm glad for it. Lately I've been learning that I need to rejoice always, and not let problems take my joy.
  2. Seeking to do more work so that someday I can provide for a family. I really want to make a big impact for God's kingdom by working where He has gifted me, but I realized that I tend to be too careful, and sometimes lazy. Even if exactly how I advance God's kingdom isn't completely clear, it is clear that someday I will be called to be the head of a household. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and in all labor their is profit. I'm currently working as handyman, and am saving up so I can perhaps invest in real estate (and be a handyman in my own house(s); the skill is certainly useful!), invent things, or do other productive things. But I have to start somewhere.
  3. Learning more. As silly as it may seem, for some reason I kind of thought that not going to college meant I really couldn't keep learning but would have to immediately demonstrate (by making a lot of money) that not going to college didn't mean I was going to waste my life. At the beginning of this week I decided to set some goals for learning. This week I've listened to several sermons, started learning about programming and CAD (computer aided design; it's cool), studied physics, learned more about engineering, researched what makes startups successful, looked into what steps to take to turn an idea into a product, brainstormed about several entrepreneurial ideas, and more. Learning is fun!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Problem with Bitcoins and Other Virtual "Money"

Recently I heard that someone who knows somebody I know bought a form of "crypto-currency" that is similar to Bitcoin, and was recommending that others buy also buy it.

When I first heard of Bitcoins I thought they were silly and an extremely dangerous thing to invest in.

Bitcoin is something that doesn't exist; it's virtual. It's a lot like Federal Reserve Notes, but when you posses them you don't even get a piece paper.

It's hard to comprehend, but imagine that I had a website where you could play checkers. I could then make a virtual currency on the website where people pay 20 "checker-dollars" for a game and receive 40 "checker-dollars" if they win. I could then charge people to buy "checker-dollars" because even though no real money is created, I did create a nice gaming website for people to play.

With the Bitcoin (and other virtual "currencies") people pay money to buy Bitcoins but they only get a number on their screen; they don't get to play a game or anything else of true value.

So why aren't Bitcoins free? Because whoever made them only made a certain number of them and for whatever reason a lot of people bought them. This increases the price of it because of supply and demand. Prices continue to change based on the ratio of people buying or selling them, just like any other product.

It is possible to make money by trading them, but only if other people will buy them. People trade something that doesn't even exist because it can fluctuate so much (because its "value" is only determined by how many people are buying into it) and they hope to make money, or they are ignorant and simply think, "It works so it must be real." The problem with this seemingly pragmatic thinking is that it will only work for a time. Eventually you have to sell the Bitcoins, and eventually people will no longer want to buy them.

I personally think the whole idea is rather insane. People have made millions of dollars and others have lost millions of dollars...over nothing. Something cannot stay away from its real value forever. Bitcoin and other virtual "currencies" will come crashing as soon as people start becoming logical.

Of course, on the other hand, powerful people might try to make all currency virtual, but even if they would, you shouldn't encourage it.

But, you may argue, Federal Reserve Notes are not backed by anything either. True indeed. And eventually the USD will crash (unless it gets backed by something). But for the moment it's what the government uses and people respect it and so you probably don't have much choice but to use it. With Bitcoins and other virtual "currencies" you have a choice. Use it! Don't spend your dollars on something that doesn't exist.

Although it sounds good to use something that is not operated by a central bank, why use something nonexistent?

Another reason you might want to use Bitcoins is because you think that people will have confidence in them and Bitcoins will not lose value. I disagree, but for the sake of argument let me ask a question: why couldn't someone else who has the technology simply create another form of virtual "money" tomorrow? What makes Bitcoins so special?

What should be used as money? Gold and silver (or other precious metals) or something similar. There is a limited amount of gold and silver; no one can create them (and thereby reduce the value of other people's money (A.K.A. stealing)), and they will always be around.

For more details and a much better explanation of why Bitcoins and other virtual "currencies" are a poor investment, I highly recommend Dr. Gary North's article, Bitcoins: The Second Biggest Ponzi Scheme in History.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

War Room Review

I've gotten out of blogging and I think maybe it's because I've been trying to be too formal. So I've decided to keep the formal posts, but also add some more casual ones.

Anyway, last Friday my family and I went to see the Kenrick brother's newest film, War Room.

The Kendricks have made several awesome movies in the past and so I was excited to see War Room, but to be honest I wasn't exactly sure what to expect because from watching the trailer I wasn't quite sure what the storyline of the movie would be. Also, while it seems relatively easy to make many captivating films from their other movie's themes -- honesty in business, surrender and trust in God, marriage, and fatherhood -- I wasn't sure what would be the best way to make a movie about prayer.

***Just got back from saying goodbye to my parents who are leaving on their date and the chicken is out of the oven so I must make this quick because it's time to eat and I don't like to be late and I like to make long silly sentences goodbye.***

Of course, prayer is extremely important. It's a strong spiritual weapon that is often neglected. I just thought there were a lot of things that could go wrong with a movie on prayer.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by War Room. It had a great storyline. It had excellent actors. It had tons of humor. It conveyed a great message.

I was very happy that it showed spiritual warfare, something a lot of Christians tend to shy away from.

The one thing I would have changed (***Just got back from praying for the meal with my siblings and I just have to quickly end this because I'm so hungry it's an hour after I usually eat after all!***) is that some of the girls had too short of shorts. Also, I wonder if maybe I would have included a prayer that is clearly answered with a "no" so that people do realize God cannot simply be manipulated by prayer. On the other hand it's probably just a matter of preference and isn't necessary; the point of the movie is good as it is and you cannot caveat every single thing all the time.

Overall I enjoyed this uplifting movie very much. It encouraged me a lot and built my faith. It also inspired my to increase the amount I pray. It's very easy to forget to pray, and this movie gave me some great reminders.

I'm quite pleased that the Kendricks have made another great film. I'd be very hard pressed to decide which of their movies I like the best.

***Bye bye now I get to go eat and I'm glad I forced myself to finish this because I had the idea of posting this but I've been procrastinating for nearly a week bye bye now I get to go watch Flushed Away :P with my wonderful younger sibs now bye bye for real this time I'm tired can you tell?***

Friday, June 26, 2015

Civil Government and Power vs Authority

Several months ago I was listening to a recording of a leadership conference. One very interesting and important distinction the speaker, Dr. Kayser, brought out was the difference between power and authority.

Someone might have power to force someone to do something, but this does not mean they have the authority to enforce their command.

For example, the Nazis had the physical power to force many Jews into concentration camps, and did so, but of course they did not have the authority to do so.

So where does authority come from? The shifting opinions of people certainly does not decide. If someone believes in majority rule, what happens if I'd convince most people that majority rule is wrong?

Ultimately the only firm foundation for anything is the Bible, God's word. In Romans 13 the Bible says that "there is no authority except from God." Authority does not originate from people. It comes from God.

When the courts rule that homosexual "marriage" is legal, does that make it right (or even possible)? No. God already ruled on the matter. In Mark 10:6-9 Jesus said:
“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.' ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
God said it. That's all there is to it. It doesn't matter if you believe it.

Murder did not become right when Hitler said it was. Murder did not become right when the American Supreme Court said it did. Homosexuality did not become right when the American Supreme Court said it did.

How exactly should the government be structured? What does the government have to do with marriage, if anything? Those are questions worth answering, but that's not the purpose of this post. I don't have all the answers, but I know Someone who does.

What is the point of this post? To affirm that God rules. His rule is ultimate. There is no right and wrong unless God decides. That's all.

Oh, and let's pray :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Multitasking: Good or Bad?

For most of my life I've thought of multitasking as a good thing. After all, doing multiple things simultaneously increases productivity, right?

Not always. It is good to multitask certain activities. When exercising why not listen to something you need to listen to anyway? It saves you time.

There are other tasks that are done best by themselves, however. So why exactly wouldn't you multitask?

A few months ago I was studying for the ACT test (my score was quite decent, but I remain unconvinced that college is the path for me, but that's another topic altogether). I was looking at some sample essay prompts and responses. Although a lot of the questions were very strange, one asking whether students should multitask was very thought provoking.

There were two reasons not to multitask:

  1. Some things require full attention to be accomplished best. If you multitask these types of activites you will probably not do either task very well. For example, if I tried to write this while listening to Hebrew I doubt I'd learn much Hebrew and you, my dear reader, would not have a great blog post to read ;D
  2. A lot of "multitasking" is really an excuse to allow distractions to stay. If you try to watch television while doing homework, as was an example of multitasking mentioned in the essay prompt, you will probably not learn much.
I've often found that I allow distractions, cloaked under nice words such as "productivity" or "multitasking," to get the best of me. When I get on the computer to do some work I often find myself opening my email and social media sites. Why? There's no need to. Then after awhile I find I've hardly scratched the surface of whatever task I set out to do and my brain is getting those dizzy or numb feeling that arise when one stares at a computer screen for too long while being unproductive. Instead of accomplishing something useful, much less two useful things, I leave the computer feeling slightly depressed.

So, is multitasking a good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what you're trying to multitask. Sometimes it's wise; other times it is foolish. It's not very hard to identify the times multitasking is useful and distinguish those times from the times you shouldn't multitask--if you simply watch and think about what you're doing.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" - Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What Does the Bible Say about Money?

What does the Bible have to do with money? Everything. The Bible is the foundation for all of life. It shouldn't be surprising that the Bible talks a LOT about money. Here are a few of the things that are clear:

God's usual means of provision is work:

"For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." 1 Thessalonians 3:10

God commands fathers to provide for their households:

"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8

Coveting (greed) is bad:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

Money should be be real (silver, gold, copper, etc):

When Jesus sent out the twelve, He told them to “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts," (Matthew 10:9)

"Your silver has become dross, Your wine mixed with water." Isaiah 1:22

God has control over all money:

"For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills." Psalm 50:10

Financial planning is good:

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’" Luke 14:28-30

Investing is good:

See Matthew 25:14-30.

Worrying about money is not good:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25 (see also the rest of the chapter)

We are to tithe:

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3:10

God calls for us to be generous:

"The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself." Proverbs 11:25

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Money will not last forever, but we can store up eternal treasures in heaven:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

God has established some taxes:

"Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." Romans 13:7

God has given the civil government limited authority and shown how it may tax; it may not simply follow the whims of the leaders. This will be covered in a future post on civil government and authority. Another thing relating to civil government and money is restitution; this will also be discussed.

We are not to steal:

“You shall not steal." Exodus 20:15

God has given us clear economic instructions:

Just read the scriptures above. Communism has the government stealing from the people and is thus prohibited. Capitalism seems to fit well with the Bible. The Bible makes it clear that people are to work and trade freely with each other.

God can show His blessing through money:

"The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22

When we're faithful in little things, God gives us bigger things:

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10

See also Matthew 25:14-30. It's when we've shown faithfulness in little things that God will reward us with more.

Using some money for our pleasure is not bad.

"I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

In conclusion, let's be productive with everything we have, whether it be a smart mind, a strong body, or material possessions. Let's give generously, enjoying God's creation but not squandering what He's given to us. Trust Him.

"Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 34:7

To learn more, read the Bible. I also recommend Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn. Although I disagree with Mr. Alcorn's ideas that tithing is no longer required and having money is no longer a sign of God's blessing, this book is an excellent reminder to keep our priorities straight. It's a great book on money.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Do You Believe It?

Every belief rests on something. For example, I believe the world is round. I believe this because smart people told me so and I trust them. I've also seen pictures of the earth from space and heard of people who have traveled around the earth. But all this rests on some more basic beliefs, namely, that the earth's shape doesn't randomly change, people can communicate logically, logic exists, I exist, etc. Why do I believe these things? Read on!

I just realized that the format I had planned on will not work, so I'll not use it; the content will be the same, just not ordered how I thought it would.

Ultimately, without believing in God, nothing makes sense. Why does logic exist? Why can we talk logically? If atoms just randomly bounced together to make my mind, why should I trust it? There is no coherent explanation for reality without God. An epistemology (theory of knowledge, i.e., how we know what we know) without God is absurd. The fact that someone would try to logically argue against God shows that they believe the universe has order, and there is no way to logically account for this order from the perspective that the universe is here by chance; if the universe is here by chance, then tomorrow the universe my not be here, or it could all turn green, or the logic might cease to be logic. As Van Til said, Atheism presupposes Theism. The Bible alone can account for reality.

"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Psalm 14:1a

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:18-21

Without believing in the Christian God, nothing makes sense. So there's obviously some "deity" out there somewhere, huh? But who's to say that Christian theism is right and other religions are wrong? God does. False faiths are man-made and, since they are wrong, will not be consistent. An internal analysis of non-Christian worldviews will prove that these worldviews collapse upon themselves. For example, the Koran says that Jesus was a prophet. The words of Jesus contradict the Koran. Christian theism is the only worldview that survives an internal analysis and makes sense of the world.

The verses from Romans quoted above don't just speak of people suppressing the knowledge of "some" deity, but of the true God who made heaven and earth.

See also Isaiah 44:13-28.

The Bible is the only true foundation for how we should live. How do we know what is right and wrong? Ultimately, an atheist has no basis to say murder is wrong. At best, he could say that most people think it is wrong. Even in this he is borrowing from the Christian perspective because he's assuming language can be intelligent. Really, if someone says something is right and wrong without basing it on the Bible they have no foundation to say it's right or wrong. God has created this world and He's given us directions for how we are to behave. The Bible says what's right, what's wrong, how we are to live, etc.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Things to Remember:

People often argue because of implications. For example, you could logically prove that without the existence of God the atheist has no foundation to believe that logic exists, but the unbeliever might be stubborn because of the implications of there being a God. If there is a God, the unbeliever will have to repent. They will have to radically change the way they see everything. They'll have to cease looking at themselves as the standard. They'll have to give up sin. Thus, someone may hold to a point because of the implications of changing.

God is sovereign. As stated, you can take any non-Christian worldview and show it to be internally inconsistent. Then you can contrast this with the Bible. However, it may seem like some people are blind. That's because they are. They are "dead in trespasses." It is the rich grace of God that raises people, not our arguments, though God may use us as a tool.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

God is loving, wise, and kind. For some reason Christians sometimes seem to have trouble with the fact that the Bible gives us the path for all of life. Maybe that's not stated well, but for some reason or another it seems they don't fully trust God or are nervous that He doesn't have the best in mind. Man is not wiser than God. God is awesome! He is loving, kind, gracious, all knowing, wise, powerful, just, etc. He created the whole universe, so why should we wonder if He knows how to run it? God created us to be able to fulfill His perfect will, so why should we be apprehensive about it? If He truly is loving (and He is) then let's trust Him. He certainly is worthy of it!

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28


God's word is something we can trust; it is solid. In it God has revealed who He is, how creation began, why there is suffering, and much more. Most importantly, He has revealed how we can have a relationship with Him. The Creator of the universe has revealed Himself to us. How marvelous! How can we not want to know what He desires of us?

Where to Learn More:

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Series on What I Believe

My posts have been somewhat random, so I've decided to start blogging more systematically.

I'm beginning a series of posts on what I believe.  I tend to shy away from any potential conflict, but most of the posts will probably be on controversial issues.  Why?  There are two benefits of this:
  1. I'm forced to clearly articulate what I believe and, very importantly, why.  As I get closer to being "grown up," this becomes crucial.
  2. You can be encouraged and/or challenged.
So, here's a list of a few possible posts/topics:
  • Introduction: Presuppositions and Foundations
  • Money
  • Eschatology
  • Government
  • Courtship vs. Dating
  • Creation vs. Evolution
  • Calvinism vs. Arminianism
  • Entertainment
Of course, this list can be added to.  If you have any suggestions or requests I'd be happy to include them.

The posts will be broken into several sections.  Note that some of these will have to be divided into subsections, depending on the topic.
  • Summary of what I believe
  • What the Bible says about it
  • Important things to remember
  • Where to learn more
It seems most of the topics are on ethics (how should we live).  Every belief rests on some other belief.  Ultimately, the only logical foundation for ethics comes from the Bible.  Anyway, more on that next time!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'm too Busy

Our decision process can be frightening.  Sometimes our minds are minds made up before we even begin to think.  Then, as we start considering what to do, we conveniently find reasons to support our choice.  In other words, we reached our determination by emotions.

Awhile ago I read that people sometimes complain how their families are falling apart, but, due to busyness, they can do nothing about it.  In reality, they don't want to face their problems and used their schedule as an excuse.  How often do we do this with smaller issues?

It's a question of priorities.  Are we willing to face tough challenges?  Or will we come up with a lame excuse to push them our of our minds?  While there are good excuses, many are lies in disguise.

Think you're too young?  Read about past and present stories of what teens have done.  Is something too hard, perhaps out of your comfort zone?  Jesus has called us into a battle, not a bed of ease.  I frequently use the old "I'm too busy" excuse.  Then I later find myself spending hours of time on things that are unimportant.

Let's take our minds captive.  We need to think through our choices logically, realizing that God's plans may not always be what we have in mind.  Instead of creating excuse after excuse, try to find reasons why your excuses might be wrong.

It's very hard to examine our choices critically, especially when we have emotions pulling us in one direction.  Not being willing to consider options objectively is a sure sign of an excuse.

Let's honest with God, others, and ourselves.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review of What Color Is Your Parachute? (2013 Ed.)

What Color Is Your Parachute? is a book that attempts to help job seekers learn more about themselves, what type of job they should choose, where to locate jobs, and how to get hired.  Though several different topics are covered, the main part of the book gives information and exercises for finding out more about yourself.

Richard Bolles has been writing this book for forty years.  Sort of.  Each year a new edition comes out.  He claims that "it's morphed into something very different, over time.  The 2012 edition is quite different even from the 2011."  Therefore this review is only for the 2013 edition.  Reviews of other editions may be very different.

Unique is the word that comes to my mind when trying to describe this book.  Though it's a book for people seeking employment, it uses a different approach.  In fact, I doubt that someone who knows with absolute certainty the exact kind of job they want will gain much benefit from the first half of the book.  What Color Is Your Parachute? approaches the job hunting question by first asking you and giving you exercises to help you find out who you are and what jobs would you be interested in and then using this information to help guide you through the rest of the search for employment.

Before reading it, what were your first impressions?

When I finished high school it was not quite clear to me what type of further education or job I should get.  There were lots of fields that seemed interesting, but nothing that stood out.  So I decided to take what I called a gap year to try to discover what I should pursue.  Mom got me several books.  Some of them were about what to do in a gap year.  Others were about jobs.  Among them I found What Color Is Your Parachute?

Interestingly enough, it turned out to be the last book I read.  After quickly glancing at the cover and skimming some pages, I assumed it was a boring book that was basically an index of job after job with description and salary after description and salary.  However, when I finally stopped judging it by its color, I was very surprised.

What's good about it?

If someone is going to do something well, it helps to be passionate about it.  Work can be tough, so it can be tough to maintain a positive attitude.  However, you have one less worry if you're doing something you know you should be doing.  What Color Is Your Parachute? helps readers to understand what it is they're good at, the conditions they enjoy working under, the kinds of people they like working with, and more.  This, in turn, makes everything more exciting.

Simple interactive assignments are quite frequent in the book.  For example, one of the exercises Bolles' has you do is write several short stories in which you accomplished something you're pleased with or overcame some obstacle.  Then he gives a list of skills and asks you to analyze your stories for where these skills may have been used.  You note which skills were used most frequently.  A grid is then given where you can prioritize these skills.  Finally, you note what category they fall into.  For example, I found that, of working with people, ideas, or things, I almost always worked with ideas.

Though a lot of the book seeks to help workers learn what they really want to do, What Color Is Your Parachute? does not neglect the other aspects of job hunting.  Among other things, the current job market, resumes, interviewing, and the impact of social media are discussed in detail.

What Color Is Your Parachute? is easy to read.  The author's writing style is not hard to understand and what is writes seems to flow well.  The organization of the book is also generally good.  Those who love lists will be thrilled with Richard Bolles' frequent usage of them.

How it impacted me:

Besides giving many useful tips on how to land a job, this book helped me better understand who I am, what I'm interested in, and what talents I have.

There are many things that God has used to shape my life, but I think He used this book to connect several of the seemingly unrelated experiences I've gone through, desires I have, and skills He's put in my possession.

Currently I'm very interested in mechanical engineering (or closely related jobs), partly because of this book.  This book helped me realize that I love inventing, improving things, planning, and solving problems; prefer to work alone or with a team of honest people; like working with ideas; and lots of other useful stuff about myself.  Interestingly enough, I knew most or all of this already.  However, pulling all of this information together on one piece of paper made everything so much clearer.  When I researched mechanical engineering and the people who generally do well in it, it became apparent that engineering was something to seriously consider.

Of course, I don't have all the answers.  I could end up doing something totally different.  Yet now I realize that I was interested in investing as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.  As mentioned, learning how things work has always been something I've been interested in and generally grasp easily. I'm also interested in supporting/doing missions. Engineering could actually work well with that since engineers are needed all over the world and they usually make good money.  How all that will work out I don't know.  Also, I'm definitely not yet committed to engineering.  We'll have to see how God leads.  Nevertheless, it seems clear that I should pursue it for the time being.

Though this discussion could be continued, it seems that it is getting off topic.  Anyway, if you have any thoughts or questions about this please post them here or send them to me privately.  (Proverbs 15:22)

So is there anything bad about it?

Bolles' incorrect grammar may cause dizziness, insanity, and great frustration.  In all seriousness, he does make a lot of inaccuracies.  I'd call them mistakes, but he does them on purpose.  He has a note about this, saying that he uses commas where he'd pause when speaking.  Though technically incorrect, this should not impair the reader's understanding.

What Color Is Your Parachute? has several appendices.  One of them is about religion.  In the beginning of the book Bolles claims to be a devout Christian (and ordained in the Episcopalian church for fifty years) and he again asserts this in this appendix.  However, one of his early comments about "deciding" not to use the universal approach is disturbing from a presuppositional standpoint.  What does it mean if he's the one who decides whether or not to use one religious perspective over another?  Unfortunately, he later shows strong signs of being a universalist when he says that though he will speak from the context of his particular faith, the reader may be able to translate and apply it to theirs.  He continues by saying that he believes that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but that he also agrees with St. Peter "that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him."  In the context of Bolles' discussion, his reference to the "no partiality" is taken completely out of context.

Finally, the whole idea of learning more about yourself, though possible to be done in a biblical way, can be dangerous.  It's easy to fall into the "I, me, mine, and this is what I want" humanistic mentality.  If a reader is prayerfully seeking God's will, this book could benefit them greatly, but it's vitally important that they don't lose sight of God when examining God's gifts.  We should seek to learn the ways God created us unique, but always remember that He created us unique to reflect His glory, not ours.

What should a reader commit to before reading it?

Doing the exercises, not just skimming over them.  I frequently skip the practical assignments that are mentioned in books, but am very glad that I did the assignments in What Color Is Your Parachute?  Without them, the positive aspects of the book lose almost all their strength.  So invest the time.  Generally, the harder something is, the more rewards that result from it.


Overall, I'm quite pleased with the effect that What Color Is Your Parachute? had on me.  It's not hard to read and it's amazing what some of the tests can do.  Ultimately, if a reader can maintain the right perspective while reading this book, it can be very rewarding.

Oh, if you have any thoughts about my future feel free to share them with me.  If interested, I've always said that there are three downsides to college: time, money, and a bad environment (just look at some statistics).  However, if I want to get into engineering, I'll likely need to invest the time for college.  Assuming certain tests go well, it might be possible to get a scholarship.  Thus, money would be taken care of.  Finally, if I go locally and seek out other believers at the college, I should have plenty of accountability.  Thoughts?