Thursday, July 31, 2014

Personal Life Update: I Give It A Year

In the upcoming week, I'll pass the milestone of having worked one year at my present workplace. It's an opportunity for reflection. I'm doing a fair job of saving my money, although the income is so small at minimum wage that it's hardly getting anywhere. This stagnation is giving me motivation to pursue change. I figured I'd give myself one year to see what I can accomplish, no matter how effectively or ineffectively I job-search, before I decide to take Desperate Action. The one thing that would keep me in my hometown past a year from now would be if I rise to a manager position where I currently am, or get some other job, that pays $30,000/year or more. If that can't be accomplished, why be a bottom-feeder here if I can just as well be a bottom-feeder where I'd prefer to live? So, I would move. Live in my car and start over in exactly the same place, in some other place.

I was interrupted as I wrote this (by myself), when the woman across the table from me in the library finished creating her schedule. She's a manager at a different restaurant farther up town, and she suggested to me that her company promotes more actively from crewmembers than the one I'm presently at. Seeing as my second 6-month evaluation period is about to pass, if I'm not given a hearty title promotion and a glowing recommendation, what would motivate me to remain? I would remain amicable with the general manager, and I know they'd still appreciate me being able to cover positions for people who call out and when shifts are short-staffed, but it wouldn't hurt to make my primary workplace into something different. An added benefit to this is that with more exposure to different bosses, I would theoretically have a better chance at getting a good recommendation letter for non-food-related work, in the event that a manager who does think I'm a good worker is nevertheless lazy, or their personality is unwilling to help, or if they aren't a good writer.

So it sounds like it wouldn't hurt to apply at this other location.

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Refusal and Proof

Picture post of a letter explaining my discovery of the truth that people don't fail to believe in God because they aren't told the truth, or because they are incapable of understanding it. They are first and foremost unwilling to let themselves consider the truth, because they don't want to face the possibility of being challenged to change their minds.


Sin. Love of sin.

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Alternative to Celebrating Birthdays

I had a short text epiphany I shared with a few of my friends yesterday. Not quite a 'treatise'; this'll be short:

"I was thinking about how people use their kids' birthdays as passwords and how that really isn't such a great idea for internet stuff, and as I pondered how to get around that, I relighted on my opinion that birthdays are not really that significant anyway (here and here): so I came to the interesting idea, rather than celebrating my children's birthdays, my wife and I would instead calculate our best guess as to the day of fertilization, and celebrate that week instead. I'm thinking of the symbolic significance of this, that it would attest to the fact that life begins at conception and only becomes revealed, if you will, upon birth. It's an excellent illustration of the relationship between justification and glorification in the New Birth: when we are saved, at first nothing noticeably significant happens. But inside us, enormous changes are occurring; and only at long last when we die or are caught up, will the dramatic revelation take place: others will now see what has already been ordained from the deep past. How we celebrate will teach our kids about the reality of salvation and how to be heavenly minded.

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, July 19, 2014

AWPATT VII: July 11-19 (Thoughts 41-49)

41 It would be a welcome discovery to find that she feels like I treat her differently than anyone else does, and that she likes it. When still not a couple.

42 A girl who’s never been in a relationship, or stayed in one when it became clear it wouldn’t lead to marriage, is a smart girl.

 43 It can’t be overstated, the value of clearly communicating your intentions.

44 Generally speaking, people’s voices don’t have so much variation that some is inherently jarring. It’s usually something that’s easy to ignore—when it’s working normally, you don’t notice it. that said, if on top of everything else, she has a beautiful voice, she can make me very, very weak—soft, rather, for her.

45 Does she like writing letters, getting and reading them? It would be a good way to stay connected, not to mention grow in our understanding of each other and be continually romantic.

46 Knowing that cellulite is easily treated by exercise, its presence would show that someone isn’t physically active. So it would be a warning sign to me that we have different lifestyle interests.

47 Devotion to God is of the utmost importance. If she takes her cues for moral and social behavior from any other source than Christian theology, as being of more importance than it, then her priorities are wrong, her actions are unreliable, and I can’t but keep my distance.

48 What are her keenest interests? Her priority reading list should be theologically relevant—the works of Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin rather than popular fiction, for example. It reveals a presence or lack of desire to continue to learn and grow in wisdom. In a very practical sense, it would suggest to me her willingness to “sit under” me and learn from my exposition of Scripture as the household pastor and Bible teacher [Ephesians 5:25-26]

49 An add-on to #41, to make sure I don’t confuse anyone as to my meaning. It would be fine if she thinks I treat her differently than other people treat her, not differently than I treat other people. A subtle, yet big difference. Should I be less respectful, less polite, or less pleasant toward others, implied if I am more so toward her? That would be favoritism: covetous of her, and deceitful to her.

~ Rak Chazak

Something to Weep About

From Ken Ham's blog:
The attack on CEF has included all sorts of wild accusations, such as claims that CEF’s message is psychologically harmful to children. Apparently, this charge stems from telling children that they are sinners in need of salvation.
In recent times secularists are increasingly accusing biblical creationists of “child abuse” for teaching creation to children. Now they are going a step further to show their real intolerance is of Christianity in general. The secularists are directly targeting those who teach the gospel message, which includes telling children that they are sinners. I have said for years that the devil has deliberately targeted the book of Genesis, the foundational book of the Bible, because, if he targeted the Cross, the church would quickly respond and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. But due to the decreasing spiritual state of this nation and increasing intolerance of Christianity, the attacks are becoming more overt against Christianity, and are on the increase.

In a post from earlier in the week, he reviews a new film called Persecuted:

The film ends with the possibility that there could come a time when Christians won’t be able at all to speak their minds. In a film that I recorded in the 1980s, The Genesis Solution, I stated that America was turning its back on the authority of the Bible and hinted that aspects of Christian teaching might be outlawed in the public arena. Recorded in 1986, the film even mentioned that gay rights might be forced on the culture and that the sanctity of marriage would be increasingly ignored as the nation rejected God’s Word. I was mocked by some church leaders at the time for making such suggestions, but I wonder what these leaders might be thinking now almost thirty years later as they see secularists taking over America with their own anti-God religion?

Secular movie reviewers will probably attack the filmmakers of Persecuted for paranoia concerning the government and its dealings with the church. But for Christians who have been following the state of the nation over the decades, this political thriller’s theme of a growing anti-Christian intolerance in America is not that far-fetched.

I think his observations speak for themselves. I can't add much of value to this without rambling.

~ Rak Chazak

Friday, July 18, 2014

In the Pipeline

I've been using the internet for an hour before work at the library, but this isn't enough time to create a thorough article, start to finish. Nevertheless, if I've worked on something offline, it's an easy matter to quickly copy-paste it, and then format it for an upload. But I have some longer projects that have been on my mind for a while, that I would like to round out and post sometime soon. So I think I'll be taking the time to do so, in the middle of the summer.

The two big ideas I'd like to work on next are:
A lyrical appreciation of Casting Crowns' music on Christian radio
A mega-treatise on the subject of whether Christians can be anonymous online, or elsewhere

And for Topical Bible Studies, I'm thinking about:
An analysis of the demon-possessed girl in Acts who does nothing but say that Paul is preaching the Gospel and people should listen to him.

And in the back of my head, an analysis of something I read earlier this year:
A commentary on the Noah movie and how the early pseudo-christian heresies have basically never gone away, just manifest themselves differently through history. Taking the words of the writer of the article I read that inspired this, I'm going to make the title, "It's the 2nd Century All Over Again."

I'll try to take some time off to get these done. I'm excited to produce good content.

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Theology Matters: Rejection and Selfies, from Wretched Radio

Since you need to be a member to listen to or download Wretched Radio's full-hour podcasts, I think it's a fair conclusion that it would be inappropriate to upload segments, even if I had the software and know-how to splice mp4's into smaller pieces. But I think that the goal of ministries like Wretched and others is to get as much of their content out to people as possible, so there's a tension between wanting to do this and wanting to stay above water financially. Knowing this, I think the content creators would be fine with me posting the text of a segment I personally transcribed this morning, but if I am wrong I will naturally remove it upon their request.

I just had to share this, because of how good it is.

What I passionately appreciate about Wretched Radio is the practical theology. It's not a sermon and it's not a current-events analysis. It's the best of both, and more. Hopefully when you read the transcript below, you'll understand why I try to get as much insight from this as possible. Wretched segments (1/6 of the day's broadcast) are available for free on the website:

Enjoy (broadcast from hour 2, segment 1, June 11 2014)

Don’t know if mentioned, I had the opportunity to be at the International Christian Retail Show, a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta, GA. Come and visit us if you love humidity—we’ve got it by the bucketful. There was a booth in particular that caught my attention: lots of charts, lots of graphs…I like that. There were some books by June Hunt. I’ve been intrigued by her, because I’ve read some good articles by her…Christian post…this one was called Rejection: Healing a Wounded Heart. And inside this little booklet, I wanted to see what her approach was, how she addresses healing the wounded heart…the heart that has suffered from rejection. And if the number of selfies that is being taken these days is any indication of the amount of lack of feeling loved, valued by somebody, is any indication of the amount of people that are hurting out there, then we have got ourselves a fair amount of pain going on in the US of A. By the way, speaking of taking selfies, there was a very thoughtful article,, why Christian girls post seductive selfies…it was written by Christian Clark. And she talked about how Christian girls are posting selfies that they aren’t even aware are seductive. They just don’t realize it. Why? These are girls who are going to church, they’re raised in godly homes—they’re home-schooled!—and yet you see some of these pictures of these Christian girls and it’s like…What is the matter with them? Why are they doing that? And Christian speculates, because that’s normal to them. It’s not seductive to them. That’s just the way that girls pose. It’s all they’ve seen their whole life. Every billboard, every model, it’s all in some way designed to be seductive.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Treatise Hub

These range from "a decent length" to "ridiculously long," meaning about 3,000 words for the most ambitious articles. Often, they're taken from my private Journal or transcribed from my cell phone, after texting a lot with a friend, and these tend to be somewhat shorter and are called "Texting Treatises."

Because they take place in a referential vacuum, the content is off-the-top-of-my-head, and not footnoted with Bible verses or links, and they tend to be very philosophical in nature. If that lies in your interest, you'll find these types of articles an enjoyable read.

Note, once again, that this won't be an exhaustive list of all lengthy philosophical articles I've posted on here, but the ones which are most characteristic of what I described above.

Long-Form Treatises:

Private Letter: Falling In and Out of Love and the Transformative Power of the Holy Spirit
Journal Entry: A Theology of Evangelizing Discussion Forums
The Atheist Fallacy of Imputing Motives on Actors Motivated by Religious Ideology
Silly Obligations
Journal Treatise: When Was I Saved?
Journal Treatise: Why I'm Not Baptized
Journal Treatise: Maturation
Journal Treatise: Oort Cloud
Does Sanctification Come Through Experiences?
Treatise: What Made the Red Planet Red? A Theory of Planetary Colonization and What Could Have Been
When Open-Air Preaching 'Clicked' For Me
Treatise: Married Women, Turn-offs, Turn-ons, and Plato's Forms
A Comparison of Single People to Young Children
General Disinterest in Valentine's Day
Proof of God: The Argument from Possibility
Impassioned Prayers
Intimacy in Heaven
Irrationality in Regeneration: A Source of Relief
Treatise: Confessions of A Smart Guy
Treatise: A Monument to All Your Sins

In a theme by themselves, my 3 Treatises on modern feminism from a Biblically Christian perspective:

Journal Entry: On Feminism, "Male Privilege," and "Rape Culture"
Treatise: Third-Wave Feminism's Irresponsibility Double-Standard
On the Word "Slut" and "Sexually Liberated" Third-Wave Feminism

Texting Treatises:

Text Epiphany: Recent Thought on Prayer
Choosing to Break Up or Break In A Relationship: Risk-Reward Calculus
Texting Treatise: Flirting
Phreniology: Theory of the Mind-Brain Interaction
Text Treatise: Suicide's Real Victims
Texting Treatise: Pride, Lies and Murder
Text Treatise: What God Taught Me About the Innate Sinfulness of Man Through My Experience of Being Cyber-Bullied At College

And there we go. I'll place a link in the sidebar and this hub page will be modified to include future additions to my collection of Treatises which I post on this blog.

Subsequent Additions

Always Happy to Reconcile with the Repentant

Texting Treatises:
Meta-Talking: Talking About Talking
Texting Treatise: Pure Fantasy?
Not 1 Corinthians 13
All About that Alto, No Soprano

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Topical Bible Study Hub

Here's another hub. I'm going to do more Topical Bible Studies from this point on, and by having a permalink on the sidebar for them, they can be accessed instantly by anybody visiting the blog.

I : Righteousness and Goodness
II: Word Study: Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me
III: Elihu
IV: About that Scarlet Thread (Judah interceding for Benjamin)
V: Solo Scripturo

There are also some which are not identified as "topical Bible studies," yet which do meditate on an insight gained from Scripture. Something of a "Bible Study Lite". But note that these don't include all my more philosophical posts, and ones which don't make extensive use of Bible passages (not much of a Bible study, then, would it be?). Those are what I would call 'treatises,' or 'thoughts,' depending on the length, and I'll be sure to make a hub for them the next time I come online.

The Simplest Scriptural Case for a Young Earth
Jesus, King of Insults
Be Careful What You Pray For
Does Sanctification Come Through Experiences?
What About the Jews? -- a poem, yes, but a thorough study of the question of whether we should pray for Jesus to return soon, with an ending that might surprise you.
7 Deadly Sins:No Such Thing, BUT...

This constitutes the blog posts that have been uploaded *to the date of this hub being posted*. Any further Topical Bible Studies will appear below this text:

[coming soon]

~ Rak Chazak

Owl City Commentary Hub

I'm going to fix a link to this page to the sidebar, so that all the different articles I'll eventually end up writing can be reached from one place with ease.

Below are the posts that exist to date:

The Introduction
Owl City Music Isn't "Christian Music" In the Usual Sense
Interpretation of Beautiful Times
Interpretation of Meteor Shower

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, July 10, 2014

AWPATT VI: July 1-10 (Thoughts 31-40)

31 Burning oneself through sun exposure is foolish and a repellent. The only point of cooking meat is to eat it, so why sear your shoulders and walk around with medium-rare leathery skin? If getting cancer is so important to you, then our interests are not aligned. I want my LIFE partner to stick around for a while, and myself for them also, and being fair-skinned is incidental to that. Someone who wants to live fast, die young, and doesn’t plan things out more than 20 years into the future is a fundamentally selfish person. Selfishness doesn’t translate well to healthy relationships.

32 Ditto for smoking. And seriously, with all the information there is about it, for someone to even start that, they’d have to possess a level of stupidity and/or arrogance that would put them in a completely different playing field than the one I’m in. I’d never consider a relationship with a current or past smoker.

33 Anyone who I would seriously consider a potential partner, I will at some point act noncommittal toward and push them away. Not to be self-destructive, mind you, but to weed out the insincerely committed. If I like you, I will not fail to try to make you doubt that I do. I want to see what happens when attractive qualities in the other person that could potentially motivate you are removed, and you are left with nothing but your own choice. Will you love without condition or expectation? This is where the rubber meets the road, and I believe that I won’t ever be married until I’ve put someone through this and they’ve persisted to say that they want me, “warts and all.”

 34 One way it’s important to have your theology straight is who you submit to. Daughteràparents, church memberàpastor, citizenàlaw enforcement/judges. Not womanàman. You don’t just act submissive to any ol’ guy, or guy you like, even. If  I never see you say no to anything, it’ll raise my alarm.

35 Because of the culture these days, someone who’s already had romantic relationships is probably not a match for me. On the one hand, they can give you the wisdom of experience, and teach you to treasure the good things, but they can also ruin a person’s understanding of what love is or looks like, and leave them jaded

36 I want to see that she’s passionate for evangelism

37 It can be attractive when someone lets you know that they’re aware that they’re attractive, just not if they make efforts to draw attention to themselves. One comes across as confident, the other as insecure and egotistical.

38 Using a smile to signal contempt or a touch to signal condescension cheapens and sullies the usually-benign meanings of those gestures. It’s too much like cruel sarcasm for my taste. It’s rude because it’s dishonest. It hurts more because it strings people along only to ridicule their trusting nature.

39 Like with touch, someone saying my name is something rare for me, and so when someone takes the special care to address me by my name, rather than just speak to me directly without the personal greeting, it makes my ears perk up. It strikes me as noticeably more formal or polite, and if it’s outside of a formal context, especially if it’s one-on-one, it makes me wonder if they’re saying my name to be more intimate, and telegraph interest.

40 Speaking of which, there was one time at college where I was killing time, hanging out with a freshman in her room while we waited for her friends/roommates, and she determined to say my name several times, dare I say seductively, after I had said I didn’t think of it as very special. ‘First time in my experience that I was aware of someone saying they liked my name, or for that matter showing that they liked saying my name. That would certainly be something that falls into the category of increasing desire but nevertheless superfluous in terms of whether I think someone would be a good wife. The memory is something my ears won’t soon forget.

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Topical Bible Study: Solo Scripturo

Sola Scriptura: Scripture is our highest authority on theological truths.

Application: we can learn valuable truths from sources other than the Bible, and even learn more about what Scripture says by utilizing sources such as commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, maps, study tools, etc.

The Bible gives us what we absolutely need for our soul. It does not give us everything we could need in any way across all contexts and circumstances. It is completely true, but it is not a complete compendium of all truth of all kinds in existence.

Solo Scripturo: Scripture is our only authority on any truth.

Application: no other source of information is of any value whatsoever, because it's all totally unreliable. No theological truth can be learned from books, radio broadcasts, tracts, commentaries, footnotes (etc), only from the Bible itself.

If it's not in the Bible, it's not true. There is no redeeming value in seeking to learn anything from anything outside of Scripture.

*     *     *     *     *

Solo Scripturo does seem a bit silly, doesn't it? You'll see views like this touted by KJV-only-ists, who have latched on to a translation of the Hebrew and Greek original documents, and refuse to accept different ideas of what a Bible passage might mean, by study of newly discovered (Dead Sea Scrolls, not incorporated into the original KJV, but used by the ESV and others) source documents.

This is sheer ignorance. Verbal Plenary Inspiration is only for the original message, it doesn't extend to every copy of that message and it certainly doesn't extend to the translations of those copies. This is why we find differences between the manuscripts that exist, and why some translations are less accurate in their rendition of particular verses. Hence why it is helpful to have multiple Bible translations to refer to, to get the best idea of what a difficult verse means. Sola Scriptura, not Solo Scripturo.

Solo Scripturo is also demonstrated by Bible critics who insist that you "prove it from the Bible" why some charge they've made is false. They claim that if you show using Strong's Concordance or a Bible dictionary or a series of commentaries or simply a different version, that you fail to disprove their allegation that the Bible has an error. Fanciful, ignorant folly, borne out of defiant misuse of Scripture.

Solo Scripturo is also seen in Islam. Caliph Omar ordered the destruction of the Library of Alexandria on the grounds that "if what is in the library agrees with the contents of the Qur’an, then it is redundant. And, if the contents of the library do not agree with the Qur’an, then such contents are heretic[al]."

Solo Scripturo. Scripture alone has any value. All else is garbage, fuel for the fire.

So, does the Bible actually take one side or the other, within its pages, or do we have to impose our own opinions on the text to make it say what we want it to say?

I was excited as I read my study Bible (happens to be KJV, but a 1980ish publication, not an unreadable 1611 one), to find a footnote containing verse references to all the places where the Bible acknowledges source materials. You read that right: the Bible used source documents. The information contained in it didn't just fall down out of the sky, like the Quran and Book of Mormon allegedly did. It was compiled by men who researched historical documents and were led by the Spirit to include that which was true and leave out that which was unimportant or errant.

Click the link below to read these examples after the jump break.

Personal Life Update: Books, Letters, DVDs and Hands

One of my friends has a habit of sending me stuff. Sometimes I'm not sure if all her asking me for my opinion on things over text is more for her benefit or for mine, but mailing me books she's read can only be a one-way gift. Very kind of her, since whereas she has more resources at her disposal, I don't think either of us is necessarily in a position to spend lots of money buying all the books we want to read. She's nevertheless decided to start somewhere. Last fall, she sent me a book which did a great deal to help me understand the nature of political persecution far better than I had up until that point. Before then, I'd had trouble visualizing it, and could only think of it in terms of being a totally free society or a totally persecuted society, down to the micro level. The differences described between the various Eastern European communist countries of the 1950s and 60s (when the book takes place) were an eye opener. It was called God's Smuggler, and was the story of the founder of Open Doors USA.

More recently, she sent me a copy of a collection of Spurgeon sermons entitled Spurgeon's Calvinism, to show that he certainly affirmed those doctrines totally.

Speaking of Mbewe, it wasn't until I read a Wretched newsletter that had his name written that I realized it wasn't "Conrad and Beway." I had been continually confused whenever Todd Friel mentioned speakers at upcoming conferences and he seemed to be cryptically referring to what could be a Siamese Twin who happened to both be thelogians. Glad to have that cleared up.

I'm spending a lot of my spare time in the evenings before bed, when it's too hot to lay down on the sheets, writing letters. And recently I had the idea to, lest I swamp my friends with too much stationery, write the occasional letter to my wife, to practice thinking about her as a real person and not a fantasy.

I finally did it. I had recently bought 300 The Biggest Question's from Wretched and went to my town's fairgrounds for July 4th to hand some out. I took 200 with me in my pockets and a bag on my back, but I didn't pass out nearly that many. I did, however, get 44 into the hands of a wide assortment of people--it was far easier once I began targeting people sitting in groups on lawnchairs. I initially had the pre-start jitters, so I didn't hand any out in the first hour, despite walking around. When I finally stumbled upon the suggestion "you don't like free stuff, do you?", I was able to get comfortable approaching people in a conversational manner. I'm glad for the opportunity to, to be honest, practice giving out tracts. Like with exercise, it's hard to get up and go, but when you've done it, you feel satisfied--generally. And like with exercise, you get better and better at it with continual training. And no matter how awkward it feels or how lackluster you think your performance was, if you steeped yourself in prayer before and after, then you can be confident God will have worked through you to serve His ends no matter what--you can't save anybody. That takes the pressure off of you, and you can enjoy the experience of being obedient and exercising your faith. I'll be looking for other opportunities to do this, again. Maybe it will be easier if I bring another person with me the next time. Who knows? Now is my season to strike out, experiment and get used to witnessing so that I can hone whatever gifts God has given me relevant to this endeavor, to be more effective (insofar as any of it depends on me) in the future.

I had an appointment at a dermatology associate somethingorother, and the attractive, intelligent and kind physician's assistant confirmed my primary care doctor's suspicion that I've got a form of eczema on and between my fingers, one more than others. So now I'll be getting some prescription-strength topical steroids to deal with it, in addition to the 'intensive care repair Vaseline' I've been applying at night. I'll talk about this in another entry, surely. After all, this blog does exist to be a chronicle of my life's journey, sort of; the things that happen to me are as important as my detached thoughts about things, because both have a role in affecting how I develop as a person and in terms of my character, who I become.

And the summer continues!

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Letters To My Wife, Introduction

I'm exploring a possible theme, here, and that's to use my down-time to write real-live love-letters to my future wife/fiancée, and when appropriate, post them here. If I can induce others to want to write and receive the same, that would be a welcome development. Thoughtfulness in relationships is definitely something worth fostering.

This first one is appended to a letter I sent to a friend I met in college. I figured she'd like to read it, and if I write something I really like, I don't want to wait years to share it, you know? Nevertheless, these letters, as with portions of my private Journal written in the 2nd person, will be something I'll eventually share with the love of my life once I've found her.

Your Hakam Adam

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Treatise: A Monument to All Your Sins

Transcribed from Journal Brown, late 2012.

The explanation for the Mayan Long Count:

20 days
18 times 20 days = 360 days, one Mayan Year.
20 times that,
and 20 more times that = 144,000 days, one b’aktun, if I recall.

A number of astronomical phenomena converge at a point in the past, roughly 3100 BC; the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic of the sun and bla de bla de bla. The significance and reverence the Mayans gave to astronomical things led them to peg the date as the date of creation. Close, but no cigar. Anyway, since the Mayans liked multiples of 20 (and may have used a ‘base-20’ numbering system, whereas ours is base-10), they invented a longer calendar for keeping accurate track of dates over long periods of time. This was called the Long Count. It lasted 144,000 days, as shown above. The 13th round of that reckoning came to a close today (or started. I can’t recall). When you understand what the Long Count is, you realize it’s just a a calendar and not a prophecy of any sort. There’s no coincidence that the b’aktun came to a close on the Winter Solstice, either. The  solstice is directly tied to earth’s orbit and is one of the smaller, shorter cycles that made a circuit and converged today. The Mayans may have attributed religious beliefs to the conclusion of b’aktuns, because they, like many other cultures, had tied their religious beliefs to astronomical phenomena—attributed religious significance to conspicuous mathematical relationships in nature. In this way, they were very much like the Pythagoreans (Protagoreans?), who, though mathematically astute (supposedly), maintained many strange rules and basically worshiped the number 10 because 1+2+3+4 = 10 OMIGOSHITSMAGICK! Something like that.

So the astounding irony of all this is that the guys who made fairly noteworthy mathematical, astronomical, and engineering discoveries in earth’s past basically wasted their potential by directing all their energy into the babbling nonsense of false religion and foolish, vain spirituality. Much like how the Egyptian pyramids were built to serve as the tomb for one man! At least the Great Wall of China had a practical application. Stonehenge and Göbekli-Tepe were large stone structures for religious ritual/festival. If you think about it, the huge Roman temples are the same thing: huge concrete engineering feats, massive building expenditures, all to build houses for idols built by man’s hands. What. A. Waste. To be honest, huge Catholic Cathedrals and “evangelical” mega-churches also fall into this category. There seems to be something innate in Man, that he has a tendency to try to erect extravagant structures to impress weak-minded people into becoming followers, and really, to impress himself, also—and convince himself that his false deity must be right, because “look how cool this is!” It’s the age-old “dick-measuring” shtick. It’s the short man overcompensating with a big/expensive car. (Contemporarily, they even call it “short man syndrome.”) When you have nothing truly impressive or remarkable to be confident in, you try to hide that fact by outwardly making a show for others, lest they see you for who you really are, and you be ashamed.

Wikipedia image
Flickr image
 If this is true for individual men, why would this not be true for religions as well? After all, religions are made by men, and their following is made up of men. It’s the same insecurity, played out in equally sinful ways, on a much larger scale, compounding the effect….which is what makes it so atrocious. To borrow a phrase I heard in Halo 2, spoken by the Gravemind, “I am a monument to all your sins.” This is what all those construction marvels are. Chichen Itza. The Great Pyramid. The Temple of Jupiter. St. Peter’s Basilica. Notre Dame. Angkor Wat. Taj Mahal. Vertsailles. The Masjid Al-Haram, “Dome of the Rock.” Easter Island. Stonehenge. The Mahabodhi. The Kashi Vishwanath. The Church of the Nativity. The Forbidden Palace. The Sistine Chapel. The Hagia Sophia. The Vatican. The Mormon Temple. The Ka’aba. These variations on the Tower of Babel all have one thing in common: they were either built for ONE MAN (“idolatry of self-worship”) or they were built for the worship of a false deity (idolatry by other means). They are the rotten fruit of thousands and millions of individual sins, compiled and amplified, manifest in enormous man-made structures which echo Babel, both in its form, scope, and intent: Man-made beacons of idolatry for the glorification of man and idol. No wonder God is so furious with idols and idol worship throughout the Old Testament: “behold, you are nothing, and your works are less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.” (Isaiah 41:24)  Good grief, I am angered, exasperated and frustrated by this myself! How much more so the Holy God of the universe, who has no tolerance for sin as I do?

Treatise: Confessions of a Smart Guy

Originally posted in late December 2012 in Journal Green. Names have been changed.

In Journal 8 earlier, I was writing about how I mistakenly overestimate people’s capacity to understand me (and in many cases in online arguments, the ability to think clearly and reason logically). I’m averse to thinking about this, because I realize I’ll have a tendency to be dismissive and “look down on” their intelligence. This is rather arrogant, since I’d be acting as if I’m so much smarter and wiser and more knowledgeable. But then, experience has repeatedly proven to me that I AM smarter than most people I encounter, and this makes things confusing for me. In theory, I realize acknowledging that you’re smarter or wiser than someone else/others isn’t inherently arrogant or presumptuous, if it happens to be true. So the danger then is in thinking highly of oneself for being smart. If I want to tell myself that I’m more intelligent than the vast majority of people out there, in order to make sense of reality (mind you), then I must do this in such a way that I do not think of myself as being better than others because of it. Pan out for a bit and consider that this is difficult or impossible to do if you don’t believe in God. If your universe is naturalistic and materialistic, what is your standard for determining if something is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ or if one thing is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another? Your estimate of worth would likely be pragmatic or merit-based. Without God, if you are smarter than someone else, then clearly you are better than they are, at least in that one sense! This kind of reasoning is inevitable when you pay no heed to the Cross and what it means—in this context, what it means about human goodness and the question of what makes one thing ‘better’ than another.

Consider briefly some evidence to confirm my reasoning here. Men without the Spirit—or men denying the Spirit’s power—will inevitably reveal that they think they are better than you (if not you per se, then at least someone). Christlessness is arrogance, because the fruit of the Spirit is humility [note: I checked and this one is not directly mentioned by name in the Galatians 5 passage, but it certainly wouldn’t be inconsistent]. Atheist Libertarian Guy thinks he’s better than me because he has more money—was born into more privilege. Grumpy Old Man thinks he’s better than me because of his age and life experience (and strangeliest, his daughter’s accomplishments). Depraved Greek Orthodox Guy thinks he’s better than me because of his academic accomplishments and (supposed) intelligence (Grumpy also boasts of his two Master’s Degrees). These are the more obvious blokes of which I have recent memory. I posit that their desire to assert themselves as being better than me has its foundation in their lacking theological views. Both Grumpy and Depraved would claim to be christians, but assuredly believe in a works-based soteriology. Libertarian Jerk, not having the luxury of pretending to belong to the Church, naturally has only the works-based option open to him. But the Cross says that there are none who do good—none, then, who are good. We are all in the same bucket, believers and unbelievers alike. God the Father looks down from heaven and sees two kinds of people: bad people, and Jesus. That’s it! Being a Christian does not mean nor make (by definition) you a better person. It means you are better off.

Likewise, then, I can take this knowledge and apply it to my intellect. See, I only have this wonderful ability to think the way I do by the Grace of God. My intelligence is a gift from my Father. And salvation is also a gift from God. You can’t earn a gift, and receiving a gift is not because you’re better than those who did not receive it. A gift reflects on the character of the giver, not the recipient. And so, if all the things I have, salvation included, are free gifts from God, then in the same vein as of salvation, none of these gifts are an avenue for me to brag. They are not for me to think highly of myself, but of God. They are not occasion for me to boast, or to make my name great. What God has given, God can take away.

“Sleepy Hollow” on FOX: Spiritual Warfare? Review.

This needs little introduction. Below are three images, pictures I took from my handwritten Journal, this one “Journal Red,” (so named for the color of the binding). Setting the scene, this is from late December 2013, after having seen the episode of the Sleepy Hollow series where the typecast “creepy middle-aged man” from the Fringe television series [also not recommended television, let me add] makes a guest appearance as a “sin eater” whom Ichabod Crane seeks out for help.

Were you surprised? 

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monstrous Mosaic of Malevolence: A Synergy of Multiple Eschatological Predictions

I hadn't put in much thought when I was younger as to who the Beast system in Revelation could be. I remember initially reading through it in 6th or 7th grade and taking all of the symbolism very literally, to great imaginative effect, but total lack of clarity about what may actually occur. A short time later, I realized it would be a "One World Government" of some sort, but I didn't seriously recognize the religious aspect of it, and assumed, much like the Left Behind movies portray (never read the books, so I can't speak to that), that the Antichrist and his followers are essentially atheistic in orientation.

After delving deep into a study of Biblical Inerrancy, followed by Creation science, I was fully convinced of the truth of the Bible, but now had a few loose ends to tie up: what theological groups on the world stage are "with us," and which are not? Furthermore, I doubted that there would be any redeeming qualities to the religion of Islam, but I needed to study it to make certain. In the beginning of the summer of 2010, I came across the helpful website and spent some time on it and others, steeping myself in their thorough Quranic expositions.

One of the most amazing things I came across on that website was an online hosted copy of Joel Richardson's book, The Islamic Antichrist. Please take the time to read it, it was one of the key 'aha' moments in my journey that has shaped my views of theological matters: in this case, eschatology.

Immensely thoroughly researched, and without a sign of quackery, the book made me initially, completely convinced that Islam itself was from ancient days past destined to be the vehicle by which the coming Lawless One would conquer nations and arise as the solitary ruler of all nations on earth during the Tribulation.

The understanding necessitates the realization that America is not symbolic Babylon the Great. For much of the 20th century, after America rose to a "superpower" status, many predictions about the Tribulation have held that America is somehow identified with Babylon the Great, which meets sudden destruction in the pages of Revelation. On the basis of the fact that the Bible, in its prophecy, has always been very Middle-East-Centric, I doubt that America has any implied mention in Scripture at all. But the identity of Babylon the Great is another article's worth of writing. Suffice it to say, a lot of modern views about who the Antichrist would be have also been colored by the peculiar experiences of those people who held those views. The Reformers nearly universally thought that the Roman Catholic Church was sure to be the Antichrist future world government, or at least affirmed that at that time, it represented the most obvious manifestation of Antichrist spirit in the world as they knew it.

I had an epiphany as I contemplated the candidacy of the two religions: Romanism and Islam. Would the Beast come from Rome? Would he come from Babylon, whose ruins lie within 100 miles, give or take, of Baghdad? But what about the hundreds of millions of Hindus and Buddhists, what role do they play? Whether the Antichrist be Catholic or Muslim, would the other groups be subsumed into that religion, or would they be ignored at the periphery of prophecy (top score for that alliteration right there)?

Then I came to realize. The Man of Sin might hearken from one place to begin with, but how would he hope to unite all the peoples of earth underneath his banner?

There are two basic methods: Conquest and conformity, or Synergy.

 I was motivated to explain my current view on a recent post on The-End-Time:
The idea is basically that whereas the Antichrist will initially be some man from a definite place and with a definite persona, he will undoubtedly attempt to be "all things to all people" (in an evil way, opposite of Paul's motive) in order to reach all the diverse people groups of earth. Wouldn't the muslims be more responsive to a man who claims to be the Mahdi? Wouldn't atheists be more responsive to a man who claims to be the spokesperson for an intergalactic alien confederacy--which removed all those religious folks to pave the way for a naturalist utopia, a la Star Trek's view of the 22nd century? Wouldn't unrepentant Jews be more responsive to a man who claims to be the archangel Michael, their defender--since the Antichrist will initially bring peace enough for the Temple to be built? Wouldn't Hindus be responsive to a Shiva-the-destroyer figure who is coming to aid humanity to nirvana through destroying all 'discordant' thoughts and people? Etc etc and many etc.

Consider the world today. We don't get all our news from one place. One 'truth' can be told to America, one to China, one to Europeans and so on. I am nearly certain that the final Antichrist will utilize the world's-best-ever PR machine to present himself as the preferred messiah of each and every religious strain of thought on earth.

Therefore, there will be several rapture explanations. Your above suggestion is attractive as a "conspiracy-theory" one [the Christians got together, dug up their friends, and went into hiding]. I'm certain many atheists, especially atheist spiritualists, will buy into the "Wiser Alien Civilization Removed Those Pesky Christians to Bring Peace and Science to the Galaxy" explanation. Muslims will cheer as they hear the Mahdi exclaim that the enemies of Allah have been destroyed and the global Caliphate can now be achieved. After all, isn't one of the most common descriptions of the unsaved in the end times as those who turn their ears every which way and who believe what they choose to to suit their desires, which are opposed to the truth?

Synergy. I think the best eschatological predictions will all play out in the actual future, in some way, on some level. It will be a monstrous mosaic of malevolence.

I'm sold on the Islamic Antichrist being the primary vehicle for the Beast System to rise and take control over the world. But in order to control the People, operating on the assumption that Islam doesn't actually succeed in subsuming all other strains of thought in the world today: roman catholicism, atheistic spiritualism, rationalistic materialism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc etc; operating on that assumption, the Antichrist would have to work as a Centralized Federal government: he'd give marching orders to the Pope and Bishops, who would pass them on to their constituents. He'd give a slightly different set of directions to the Western Universities, and to the Islamic Imams. All would be marching in lock-step, but they'd be compartmentalized. I think there will probably be very many different explanations for who the one-world government's leaders are, as there will be many explanations for where the Christians went. In fact, as observed on another post, many people who are left behind will be considered "christians," and so one of the explanations will be that the Rapture didn't even happen, because look at all the christians that are still here.

It will be a time of unparalleled confusion. The main message of my article here is simply this: there are a lot of good scholarly theories out there for how the event may play out. We should not be so narrow-minded as to suppose that only one could be true. In a sense, yes, one will be true, and I anticipate it will be the Islamic Antichrist--but this need not mean that the Papacy does not also oppress the Saints as one arm of the Beast, and it need not mean that many other stories would not be offered as explanations for those still living. On this level, of what will be said, I think there will be a lot of people this side of the Rapture who were at least partially right. But the final orchestration will undoubtedly be far more intricate and in that respect amazing than what we even now can anticipate.

I wonder if God will let us watch from heaven, while we're partaking of the Wedding Feast? It would be quite a show to see.

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Arrogance, Not Depression or Weakness, is at the Root of Murder

I wrote on this subject in a previous blog post a few months ago, with regard to suicide. The essence of the criticism I had applies to any violent, attention-seeking, self-absorbed behavior. Consider this in reading the following.
First up, an excerpt from a booklet I came across that talks all about ego and pride:
“Up until the twentieth century, traditional cultures (and this is still true of most cultures in the world) always believed that too high a view of yourself was the root cause of all the evil in the world. What is the reason for most of the crime and violence in the world? Why are people abused? Why are people cruel? Why do people do the bad things they do? Traditionally, the answer was hubris – the Greek word meaning pride or too high a view of yourself. Traditionally, that was the reason given for why people misbehave.”

Daniel Greenfield, the prolific Manhattanite Orthodox Jewish political braniac writing at Sultan Knish, had a lot of the same to say, in harsher tones with more examples. It is well worth checking out his entire article.
"Evil wants absolute power over others. If it can't rule, it will destroy. If it can't control everyone, then it will enforce absolute control over a few victims by taking their lives. The narcissistic mass murderer is striving to eliminate everyone who is not made in his image. He is a frustrated little godling who wants to be worshiped. He rejects the presence of the rest of the human race because they are different than him. His preferred forms of worship are conformity and death. Evil is not limited to the occasional spree killer. In the last century Hitler and Stalin oversaw cults of personality built on this same model under which millions died. Stalin's Communism and Hitler's National Socialism were messy and contradictory ideologies. They ultimately existed so that one man could exercise his power fantasies and destroy as much of the world as he could."

Daniel Greenfield, Evil is the Motive of Evil, (May 2014)

Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, 10Publishing (2012)
In short, my view as expressed in "Text Treatise: Suicide's Real Victims"  is not peculiar to me. There are others saying the same thing, in more convincing ways perhaps, depending on what sort of approach a person is more prepared to listen to. The bottom line is that there are no excuses for murder, and the modern cause of trying to find "reasons" and deal with those as if their removal or reform would fix the problem utterly miss the point and that is that it is the heart of the individual that needs to change, not their outside circumstances. You can never control the stimuli, so that pursuit is a fool's errand. It's far easier to change one mind than it is to change the millions of things that can be dredged up as excuses for that mind's actions.
But there is only one way to really change a mind. And only God can do it.
~ Rak Chazak

High School Deja Vu'

These images are taken from my personal Journal. Seeing as they tend to include more sensitive information, such as people's names, locations, etc, (mainly for the benefit of my memory when I read the entries down the road) these will be modified to protect that information, whenever I post them. Yay Photoshop.

Referenced in this upload are two of my prior Journals, Journal Blue (first half of 7th grade) and Journal Footprints (second half, through most of 12th grade). These are where I developed a fair deal of my writing style, and are entertaining to read because of the charming obliviousness and confusion I display on the subject of young ladies. This is the background info for why the title of the post is 'Deja vu.' In a move to apply more maturity to my thought process, instead of fantasizing about a relationship which would be in many ways inappropriate, I decided to reflect on my brain's activity and consider what ultimate purpose it might be designed for.

~ Rak Chazak