Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hugging the tornado


The Bible just blew my mind. Again.

When Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name", (Matthew 6:9) I have been taught well that the word Jesus used for "Father" is the word "Abba." It means "Daddy" or "Poppa." It's a term of close endearment. Of intimacy with a GREAT dad. It's the word a trusting child uses when he crawls up in the lap of a gentle and good father.

I have relied upon this concept many times in prayer. The concept that I have a good dad I can call upon in times of need radically changed my attitude in approaching him. It dramatically changed my perspective in times of difficulty. Instead of seeing a harsh ogre or an uncaring deity that is upsetting my happy little world, I now see Him as a good Dad who is allowing difficulty into my life for immensely wise reasons: for discipline as a good Dad would, (Hebrews 12:5-11) for training as a good Dad would, (James 1:2-4) etc. And yet as a good Dad I know He would never, ever abandon His child. He always walks through hardship WITH us: "When you pass through the waters, I [the God of the Universe, your Daddy] will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." (Isaiah 43:2 ESV)

So I have come to deeply depend on the fact that He is my good Dad. So what blew my mind just now?

The next words: "Hallowed be thy name." In other words, may you be regarded as holy. Set apart. Transcendent. Pure. May there be reverence for you.

In Jesus's simple and compact prayer, which is to serve as a model for our own prayers, nothing got left out. He wanted to ensure that we both have a nearness AND a respect. A closeness AND a deference. Endearment AND esteem.

He is leading us to be ready at all times to both hop up in His lap AND a bow at His feet.

As far as I know, this combination of concepts is unique in all the religious world. And I would say it's even very rare in Christendom. Many who claim to be Christians act chummy-chummy with the Father but have little apparent respect for His authority, Law and wrath. "We are not under law but under grace" they quote from Romans 6:14, dancing irreverently in their sin as though they have a kind but blind father who only doles out candy and kisses.

And then there are many who claim to be Christians who have no concept of the Fatherhood of God, who only think of His authority, Law and wrath. "Sin will have no dominion over me" they quote from Romans 6:14, cowering at the thunderclap of His displeasure against unrighteousness, or casting the lightning bolts themselves against their fellow man.

Both of these groups of people would do well to read the entire verse, and the next: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" (ESV) How well they would be served by meditating on both the kind Fatherhood of God AND the immense wall of glory belonging to the King of kings and Master of the universe.

And now for application: Both of these groups of people are extremes in the church, but they represent extreme ends of a spectrum of belief about God. So where do you lie on the spectrum? Would it do you well to spend time in the gentle Father's arms? Would you be served by asking yourself, "If God appeared in my living room -- and I didn't die -- what would change in my life?"

Go pray. Go hug a tornado.

(Photo source)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 Reasons Why Isaiah's Prophecy Probably Doesn't Refer To Physical Healing

This is in response to an article, "10 Reasons Why Isaiah's Prophecy Refers To Physical Healing." His assertion is that Isaiah 53:4-5 "by his wounds we are healed" means physical healing.
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Cornel,
Grace to you!

I'm on the fence about these verses and am researching the opposite points-of-view. I'm a charismatic Christian, but these verses don't seem to mean physical healing. I searched on the subject and read your list to see if I'm wrong, but I'm still not convinced.

I'm exploring the option because I can't think of anywhere that the Bible commends going to doctors; it seems to expect we'll be healed miraculously. But I can't conclusively say I am promised physical healing based on this Scripture.

Here are my observations on your ten points:
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1. "Jesus healed real people of real diseases in order to fulfil that prophecy. (Matt 8:16-17). If it were only for spiritual healing, apparently Jesus didn’t know about that interpretation…"

GREAT point. I don't think I'd ever heard this taught. Good call. May be the verse that makes me change.

It should be noted, however, that Matthew has the strange habit of reinterpreting OT verses to suit his own purposes. I don't know why that is, but I'm sure there's a good reason for it. See for example Matthew 2:15/Hosea 11:1.

I only mention it becase it could mean Matthew has reinterpreted this verse.

Richard L. Mayhue stated, "Matthew 8:16-17 uses an illustration of physical healing to demonstrate a spiritual truth about the Christian's resurrection hope of being sinless and thus in perfect health."

Could be. We should both meditate on this some more, and proceed with caution.

2. "Nobody needs spiritual healing. Your spirit wasn’t sick, it was dead (Eph 2:5). Hence the fact that you needed to be born again. You were raised in newness of life, not in an improved version of the old life."

Great point. But shouldn't the "healing" be understood the same as Luke 5:31-32 "sick" is understood? I say that because even though those verses use the words "physician" and "sick" when talking about "tax collectors and sinners." As you rightly pointed out, we don't need a physician, we need a mortician -- or a resurrector! Yet Luke uses "physician" and "sick," likely as metaphor. I don't think he intended this to be strictly interpreted.

In the same way, "healing" in Isa 53 is likely to be understood as spiritual.

3. "Your new spirit, is united with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:17). If you need spiritual healing, does that mean the Holy Spirit is sick?"

I don't see why that has to logically follow. Does the Bible say we can't be one with the Spirit and yet need "healing" (or resurrection)? Further, aren't there sick Christians who clearly have the Holy Spirit such as Joni Earickson Tada?

Would you consider backing up your assertions with verses?

4. "Even if it only refers to sin, physical healing is still available. Death entered through sin (Rom 5:12) and if sin has been dealt with, then it automatically makes death and its infant forms of sickness illegal. You don’t acquit a prisoner and leave him in jail. If you have been set free you don’t go on serving your punishment. Sickness was punishment for sin. Your sin has been forgiven therefore you punishment comes to an end also."

Are you sure the Romans 5:12 "death" is physical? When I read verses that follow, it looks to me that the death Paul has in mind is spiritual, as contrasted with the life Christ brings.

To take your logic to its conclusions, wouldn't it also mean that Christians will never physically die?

5. "If Isaiah 53:4-5 refers only to spiritual healing, why did Jesus have to suffer physically? The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), not beatings and floggings."

I don't see why that has to logically follow. Why does the Bible say He had to suffer physical pain?


Would you consider backing up your assertions with verses?

6. "The word 'griefs' in our English translation of Isa 53:4 is actually a Hebraic word, 'choliy' which means sickness. The same word appears 24 times in the old testament and in the majority of cases in reference to physical sickness."

First, are you saying that Isa 53:4 has no idea of emotional grief? Because if 'choliy' only means physical sickness, I think you'd have to say there's no room for a spiritual dimension. I know a God who heals the physical and spiritual. I hope your view of Jesus isn't too narrow.

Second, it's true that in the majority of cases the word refers to physical sickness. Good call. But does that therefore mean that it always means physical sickness?

Top Hebrew scholars disagree. Out of 17 different translations, nearly all chose to translate the word here as a type of emotional grief. That's hundreds (thousands?) of scholars:
http://bible.cc/isaiah/53-4.htm

So just because it is translated that way much of the time, does it follow that it always means that? In at least five instances, it does not appear to mean that, and one of those instances is in Isaiah (1:5).
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2483&t=KJV

Third, if "choliy" is better translated "physical sickness," then the previous verse would read, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with physical sickness."

Think about that.

7. "This is not the only prophecy Isaiah made concerning physical healing and Jesus. See for example Isaiah 35:3-6, and Isaiah 61:1-2. Incidentally the latter passage is what Jesus Himself quoted in Luke 4:18-19."

Hmm. I checked all 17 the translations at Bible.cc, and Isa 61:1 doesn't speak of physical sickness. Same with Luke 4:18-19. Can you explain why you included these?

Isa 35:3-6 is very easy to understand in a spiritual sense.

8. "The events of the cross were foreshadowed long before Isaiah made this prophecy. In Numbers 21:7-9 the Israelites were attacked by snakes in the desert because of their sin and they became sick and some even died. Moses was instructed by God to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole. Whoever looked on the snake got healed and lived.  This is a picture of Jesus becoming sin for us. He became the cause of our distress so the effects of it could be dealt with. He became sin to free us from not just from sin but also the punishment for it."

Hmm. But doesn't John 3:14 and following tell us that Numbers 21:7-9 is intended to teach us that Christ gives spiritual healing?

Don't forget, this also includes the world-famous verse 16 "for God so loved the world..."

9. "Jesus refers to His flesh as the Bread of life (John 6:51). When we take communion, we remember His body broken for us. For our what? Our sins? No. That’s what the blood is for (Matt 26:28). His body was broken for our healing because His flesh is the bread of life."

I don't see why that has to logically follow. Does the Bible tell us anywhere that the bread of life is for physical healing?

Would you consider backing up your assertions with verses?

10. "The Greek word for salvation and healing is the same word: 'soterio', as is the Greek word for saved and healed: 'sozo'. Jesus also saw them as inseparable because He healed a lame man in order to prove He actually forgives sins (Matt 9:2-7). If physical healing was not what Isaiah was talking about, then Jesus could not offer it as evidence of forgiveness."

If Jesus intended physical healing to be inseparable from forgiveness of sin, would I have been sick for the past for years? Wouldn't all Christians who were forgiven be immediately healed of everything?

Further, the lame man in Mat 9:2-7 was forgiven before he was healed, and Jesus was content to leave the man lame.

So as far as I can see, they are seperable concepts.

It's more likely that Jesus intended to show He had the authority to forgive, and the ability to do pretty much anything else he wanted, because He was God. It does seem to me that Jesus saw them as inseparable.
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I fear that some charismatics have what has been called an "over-realized eschatology." Without a doubt, I will have a perfect body -- after the resurrection. And without a doubt, God heals today, some of the time.

Another I fear some charismatics make is to forget that God has a free will, too. The leper said to Jesus, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, 'I will; be clean.'" (Matthew 8:2b-3a ESV, emphasis added)

Jesus decided to make the leper clean. He used His free will to make a choice.

I'm asking Him on a regular basis to make the same choice for me, but if my thorn in the flesh is not removed, I can be content knowing that "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)

This PDF gives solid reasons to doubt that Isaiah 53 has physical healing in mind:
Isaiah 53:4-5 raises the question, "For what did Christ atone?" or more specifically, "Is physical healing in the atonement?" Outside Isaiah 53, Scriptures touching on Christ's atonement in Leviticus and Hebrews deal only with sin, not sickness. The context and language of Isa 53:3-12 address sin alone. A broad range of Scriptures teach that Christ died to deal with humankind's sin dilemma. Matthew 8:16-17 uses an illustration of physical healing to demonstrate a spiritual truth about the Christian's resurrection hope of being sinless and thus in perfect health. First Pet 2:24, studied in both broad context (2:18-25) and narrow (2:24-25), reasons that Christ atoned for sin, not sickness. Therefore, the conclusion is that physical healing is not in the atonement, but rather comes through the atonement after resurrection, because only then does the atonement eliminate the moral cause of physical infirmities, which is sin in one's personal experience.

Finally, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 alludes to something that some charismatics miss: God's purposes in allowing sickness to come to pass. Have you ever read John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer"? That is POWERFUL! POW-ER-FUL!!


In my suffering of fatigue for almost four years, I hope that I suffer well, and I am looking to see if there are any promises in the Bible that I can claim for physical healing. I do know my God can heal, I've seen Him heal others, and I'd be delighted to tell of His glories if He heals me.

But I cannot claim the promise of physical healing from Isaiah 53 based on your list. You've got some questions to answer before my conscience will allow it.

If you would, please pray for that I be healed. It's tiring being tired, and I'm sick of being sick, and it seems my only hope to lead my family is a miraculous healing. Thanks.
Grace be with you,
Christopher

UPDATE: I'm embarrassed to say that when I first wrote this, at times I got arrogant and spoke unkindly toward Cornel. I have corrected these things, and asked his forgiveness.

Friday, June 17, 2011

10 Reasons Some Give Not to Tax the Rich. And Why Some Think These Reasons Are Bad. And Why Both Sides Are Misguided.


Before I begin, I'd like to state that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat nor a Libertarian. I'm a born again Christian, and I vote likewise, in ways that don't neatly fall into any of these categories. So it's not possible to pigeonhole me. I love ALL of the Bible, especially the commands to feed the poor. But those are not the only verses in the Bible. I'll explain later.

Also, I pledge not to be contrarian for the sake of being right. If Mr. Buchheit has a valid point I will definitely say so.

======================
We hear them all the time, the reasons for unrestricted capitalism, minimal government, lower taxes for the rich. So often that many Americans start to believe them. But the facts and common sense reveal good reasons NOT to NOT tax the rich.

(1) The rich deserve what they earn because of hard work and initiative.

They use other people's money to create assets that don't exist and then bet on them to fail. It seems like twisted humor, but it's real, all part of the murky world of derivatives and credit default swaps. Those who make the most money avoid taxes by calling their income "carried interest" instead of income.

Others not directly involved in financial chicanery still make out well. The stock market has grown 7 times faster than America's GDP since 1981, and two-thirds of the country's stocks are owned by the wealthiest 1% of Americans. That's not enough for some CEOs, though. For many of them it's 'legal' to backdate their stock options to a time in the past when the price was higher.

My response: Yes, there are some who are criminals. But if you tax them all, wouldn't you punish those who legitimately work hard as well? Isn't that what the justice system is for?

I fear that many who would be compassionate toward the poor feel as though the justice system isn't working, so without realizing it they take justice into their own hands by manipulating the tax system. Wouldn't you agree this is true?


(2) It's not fair to "soak the rich."

It's been just the opposite for the past 30 years.

Based on Internal Revenue Service figures, if the average middle-income family had just maintained its share of America's productivity held in 1980, it would be making $10,000 more per year ($45,000 instead of $35,000). Some estimates are much higher, up to $30,000 more per year based on Bureau of Labor statistics.

In 1980 the richest 1% got one out of every fifteen income dollars. Thanks to tax cuts and deregulation, they now get THREE out of every fifteen dollars. They already had a big slice of pie, then they cut a second piece, and then a THIRD piece.

My response: I don't understand why the "fair" argument matters on either side, except that as stated before, it's not fair to punish those amongst the rich who are hard workers. Isn't it far more important that tax loopholes be closed (more on that later), that the government's budget deficits be met, that those who legitimately work hard not be punished, that the poor not be oppressed unjustly, and that the government not become a bloated, far-reaching nanny state?


Meanwhile, every U.S. taxpayer contributes about $600 a year to pay for the tax cuts that give $34,000 a year to each of the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

My response: Hmm I'm not clear on this one. This statement should have been backed up with facts.


And now a trillion dollars of public money is used to bail out the failing banking system

My response: I don't like this, either. I am not a fan of bailing out banks. They are NOT too big to fail; that's socialist thinking from Republicans. Let the poor performers fail; we'll all suffer in the short run but my grandchildren will have a more hopeful future.


(3) "Spreading the wealth" and "redistribution" are other names for socialism.

Not socialism, but social responsibility. Taxes support public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water treatment systems, railroads. Public money is used to invest in research and development for science and technology.

My response: Not social responsibility, but socialism! Redefining terms doesn't change what it is. Just call a spade a spade.

This is a misdirected answer, I think by mistake. The question is about redistributing wealth to the poor, not about building water treatment systems. When you force people to be generous toward the poor it is essentially socialism, no matter what you call it. I'm betting that Mr. Buchheit simply wasn't aware of this.


Much of the tax burden disproportionately benefits the rich: property laws protect private property and capital investment; trade pacts and national defense policies are designed to protect wealth. Bill Gates, Sr. explains, "The government that protects their business activities...that's what creates capital and enables net worth to increase."

My response: My respect to Mr. Gates Sr. for his charity. I want to be like him in that way. He's correct, the government does pay the rich back in benefits.

But are there are less oppressive ways to achieve the same ends?

It is those same property laws which protect private property and capital investment, and trade pacts and national defense policies which give people the comfort level needed to invest their money in the first place. Consider the growing prosperity of Singapore, considered one of the world's easiest places to start a business. The business world is gravitating towards this small country thanks to their unoppressive policies and low taxes. The once poor of Singapore are finding more opportunities to get ahead with so many businesses in their back yard to work for. (Though I'm sure not every poor person has benefited.)

You want to make people comfortable enough to invest. It is a good idea. If you take away the comfort, they will vote with their feet. Would you rather open a business in North Korea or South Korea?

(4) The great wealth of the rich stimulates the economy.

Low-income earners have a higher "Marginal Propensity to Consume," which means that they spend a greater percentage of their overall income on consumption. High-income earners, on the other hand, will save more. The very rich in our country have put much of their money into mansions, yachts, jewels, and art.

My response: And buying a mansion doesn't employ low-class construction workers? How about low-income drywall factory workers? Hungry lumberjacks and struggling marble craftsmen?

Buying a yacht doesn't provide wealth for a boat builder, harbor workers or a yacht pilot?

Does the money which diamond mine workers make go back into a bottomless pit somewhere in the mine?

Are there no starving artists?

Does eating a hamburger stimulate economic growth more than building a boat?

Statements about mansions and artwork don't go far enough.

And yes, high-income earners do save more. But does that necessarily drag down the economy? It gives them flexibility in rainy days. Good foresight.

The money they save is typically deposited in some interest-bearing account. The bank re-invests these assets elsewhere. The rich do not usually have a giant mattress; they're usually smarter than that.

The rich aren't stupid. They're either smart or they hire smart people, so as to make the most of what they have. The poor do benefit from their spending and saving. Mr. Buchheit is misdirecting here, I believe by mistake. Everyone needs the resourceful rich and the hard-working middle class and the poor who are hungry for opportunity.


Besides, placing an emphasis on consumption has dragged our nation into deeper debt and reduced the finite resources we have. Read about Peak Oil/Soil/Water/Phosphorus/Coal/Uranium/Everything sometime, it'll scare the pants off you.

The world needs more savers. It is a smart idea.


An analysis by the Congressional Budget Service ranked 11 strategies to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Cutting taxes for the rich was ranked lowest.

My response: This may be true. But it must equally be noted that, while this strategy maybe the lowest ranked, it is still a viable, working strategy, so don't think it won't work at all. The best approach may be a balanced attack on many fronts.


The top 500 non-financial companies are currently holding $2 trillion in cash that could be used to create jobs and stimulate new business.

My response: So these responsible companies hold on to their money. Good. They're savers for a rainy day. It is perfectly within their right to hold onto their own money. When times get harder for them, as I predict they will, that money will then begin to flow.

They're not saving that money to make paper hats, are they?

And, I'm sure the money is on deposit in some interest-bearing account, which does in fact benefit others. See above.

The U.S. government could learn a thing or two from these top companies. They didn't make it to the top by being stupid.

(5) Large incomes provide incentive for success.

Some hedge fund managers 'earned' enough money in one year to pay the salaries of every police officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in Chicago. A system that allows one man to divert the salaries of 50,000 public workers to his own pockets has gone well beyond "incentive-based."

My response: Mr. Buchheit is mistaken.

For those rich hedge fund managers, obviously the greater and greater and greater wealth is an incentive, else they wouldn't continue pursuing it. Maybe they want to drive a Lamborghini? Maybe they want to ensure their children and their children's children are well taken care of?

I'm not going to argue that it's not greed or pride pushing them on, but that's another debate. The point is, there's obviously an incentive.


Reputable studies show that life expectancy and 'happiness' increase very little after a certain threshold is reached. That threshold is about $75,000 per family.

My response: Isn't it up to the individual to determine whether he's truly happy? Aren't you glad that the government isn't in the business of regulating happiness?

As I will explain in the addendum, these studies, with their "threshold of happiness and life expectancy," can't possibly be the same for everyone. I'm grateful this isn't dictated to me by some bureaucrat.

And what if I wanted to earn more to save up to pay for the life expectancy and happiness of my children and grandchildren? That threshold wouldn't apply at all. I'd need to make much more than $75,000. I draw the usefulness of such studies into question.

(6) The very rich pay it back through taxes.

They pay less than 23% of their incomes in federal income tax. If state and local taxes, social security tax, and excise taxes are included, the lowest-earning half of America pays 24% of their incomes in taxes, almost as much as the richest 1%.

My response: Here's a fact I find no problems with.


The top tax rate has gone from 90% in 1960, to 70% in 1972, to 50% in 1984 50, to 40% in 1996, to 35% in 2008. But much of billionaires' earnings is subject to only a 15% tax because of a loophole that allows hedge fund income not to be called income.

My response: Maybe this is true, but are there some such as the elderly who live on hedge fund income?

About the higher rates. Let's take the example of 90%. Would you really want to struggle to the top, only to find that you get to keep one out of ever ten dollars you earn? If it takes ten times as much effort to increase your income by one unit of measure, is it really worth it? You'll find that those who aren't driven by greed (they are out there) will simply stop working harder, thus dragging down the economy. Heavy top tax rates create a plateau.

Perhaps the 70%-90% top tax rates were one reason why the 1970s were such difficult times, financially?

This statement actually demonstrates to me that, in general (not just for hedge funds), tax loopholes need to be closed. More on that later.


Furthermore, about 500 people a year renounce their U.S. citizenship and repatriate themselves to countries such as Belize and the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes entirely.

My response: Don't they have the freedom to vote with their feet? I'm glad our nation doesn't have a Berlin wall :-) Maybe the rich find the conditions more favorable elsewhere. Isn't that their right?

Doesn't this fact more demonstrate that conditions are becoming hostile to the rich in America, which is leading them to vote with their feet? I too had considered relocating to another country. I can see there's a coming onslaught of oppressive socialism, with the government micro-managing my life for me. I'm not alone.

I don't understand how this statement helps Mr. Buchheit's arguments. All it demonstrates for me is that America is becoming more hostile to the wealthy, and they know it. They have the freedom to leave, and they're doing so more now than ever. Taxing the rich will only increase the rate of expatriates.


(7) The very rich lost massive parts of their fortunes in the recession.

They lost money, but no more, percentage-wise, than average mid-level earners.

My response: First, I don't see why this argument belongs in a list of reasons not to tax the rich. I'd have dropped it.

But that aside, this is a good fact. It is a fact which exposes how some Republicans twist the facts. The concern is not with the amounts, but with the percentages. The Republicans who quote this should be ashamed.


Wealth data from the Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve show that the richest households have INCREASED their median incomes relative to other earners since 2006.

My response: Good for them. I'm very glad they didn't have to suffer loss. I'm sure a number of these households were prudent and saw the opportunities to invest in the midst of the crisis.

I'm equally sure that some manipulated the system. But we cannot punish everyone for the actions of some; that's what the justice system is for. See my response to point #1.

Interestingly, it was recently reported that Nancy Pelosi also had her net worth increase by 62% during the recession. Good for her. Smart business sense.


(8) "Income mobility" shows that the poor can get rich, and vice versa.

This argument relies on a 2007 U.S. Treasury Department report about income mobility that states "Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996 - the top 1/100 of 1 percent - only 25 percent remained in this group in 2005." But nearly 9 out of 10 of those in the top 1% remained in the top quintile of earners over those ten years. They may have dropped out of the most elite 1% group, but they remained close. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

My response: As with the last reason, I don't see why this argument belongs in a list of reasons not to tax the rich.

But that aside, could not falling far from the tree have more to do with the fact that the rich are successful by nature; wise, resourceful, and intelligent? Unless we forget, some poor people are poor because they consistently make foolish decisions. Not every poor person is oppressed from the outside.

And also, I don't see how taxing the rich fixes this problem? Why don't we work on the core problems instead of punishing hard workers and removing some of the incentive from the poor? What do the poor have to look forward to if there is effectively a plateau above a certain level?

Unfortunately, Mr. Buchheit would (without realizing it) have us be a nation of mediocrity, where no one is a shining star. I'm sure he isn't aware of these implications.


(9) The rich support worthwhile causes.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the wealthy "give their biggest donations" to colleges, hospitals, and cultural organizations and "rarely make large gifts to social-service groups, grass-roots organizations, or nonprofit groups that focus on the poor or minorities."

My response: Are Mr. Buchheit and the Chronicle of Philanthropy actually saying that colleges and hospitals are worthless causes? I think they are saying so without realizing the implications. Hospitals and colleges help the poor heal, and study so that they might get ahead.

And supposing that they did give their biggest donations to these; it wasn't explained in what proportion this generosity is to the entirety of their generosity. The statistic isn't given. Mr. Buchheit may be making the same mistake the Republicans make; the question is not about raw dollar amounts but percentages.


And as noted by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, hundreds of millions of dollars are being contributed to congressional and state election races. Especially since the Supreme Court ruled against limits on corporate contributions.

My response: Is Mr. Buchheit saying that doing everything you can to advance a political cause which you feel passionate about is not a worthwhile cause? I wonder how Misters Jefferson, Washington and Franklin might have felt about this. I think he's saying so without realizing it.

He may respond that some use their contributions as a way of manipulate politicians to pass laws which benefit themselves in the creation of wealth. But again, isn't that what the justice system is for? See my response to point #1.

(10) Inequality is necessary to sustain a healthy and productive society.

This may be the worst reason of them all. Not only is it not necessary, but it's dangerous: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have documented the numerous studies that correlate inequality with shorter life expectancies, increased disease and health problems, and even higher murder rates.

The statistics clearly indicate that rates of illness in an unequal society are higher at all levels of income, even for the very wealthy.

My response: Great! Now that's an argument that I can agree with! I imagine that those who say inequality sustains a healthy and productive society, say so because they think that the spending of the rich makes it into the hands of the poor. But if that were true there would no longer be an imbalance, would there?

Those who say inequality sustains a healthy and productive society need to do a little thought experiement by pushing their logic to its logical ends. If there were ten individuals who each had one hundred billion dollars, and the rest of the world each had one dollar a day to live on, how many would be alive in ten years? Likely all ten rich people, and likely less than half of the rest.

Such thinking, is somewhat akin to a different kind socialism, by the conservatives; it's just a replacement of the government for business and individuals. But there is a better way, as I will soon explain.
======================


==Addendum==
It mustn't be forgotten that some who are classified as "rich" on a purely blind scale of numbers also have a higher cost of living. I myself make an above-average salary, but all five members of my family have expensive health problems. So I'm happy to spend the extra money on quality foods which improve our health, the best doctors to oversee our healing (and not simply manage the symptoms), and the best vitamins, minerals and medicines to bring about the healing process. I'm grateful to God to be so privileged that I can afford quality care for all of us.

We have the most modest home amongst nearly everyone we know, which is a great thing as we can contribute more money toward our health and other, more important needs. Because I have been sick, I've taken some of our extra disposable income to hire my needy friends and neighbors at very generous rates to repair our house. It's good to know I can afford to pay someone to be useful, that we may both benefit, rather than simply giving a handout. Our house is repaired, and my poor neighbor keeps his dignity.

The items I listed above (health, home repairs) are not tax-deductable, nor should they be. On a purely blind scale of numbers, we will suffer greatly as our taxes increase. There are others like me. Increasing taxes is simply not a good idea for folks like me.


Or suppose that the only employment a person finds is in an expensive city?

We've contemplated moving from Jacksonville, FL to Seattle, WA, for reasons that would be too complicated to explain here. Doing so would require an increase in salary, more than six figures, just to keep the same standard of living. But I'm not likely to find a job making that much, as the average salary in that city for my position would not be proportionate to the increase in cost of living.

So we would likely have a significant decrease in our expendable income, as we'd be squeezed from both directions (increased cost of living, decreased salary proportionate to the cost of living). We'd have to sell our affordable home and greatly increase our monthly housing costs, transportation costs, food costs, etc. This would likely mean we would give up some of our health purchases. Our health would decline.

I'd make more money, but would I be richer? No. But it may be the right move for our family, so we may move anyway.


All that to say, some of the so-called "rich" have higher expenses of living that are not truly optional, making them poorer than they seem. Blind numbers aren't sufficient to gauge whether someone is truly "rich." Does $250,000 in Billings, MT go as far as in New York, NY? Are there some families with higher costs of living, such as having a child stuck in the hospital for many years? It's not so simple.


==What should we do==
What is more important than taxing the rich is to fix the root problems for poverty so that more people can succeed. Socialst programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unsustainable, and will ultimately ruin this country. The Republicans won't have to kill these programs. They'll die of natural causes, and the Republicans will be there to shovel dirt on the face of them.

(By the way, the same is true of overseas military intervention, a policy I'm not in favor of either. But that's another debate. The Democrats will be there to shovel dirt on this policy's face as well.)

First, the byzantine tax code offers too many places to hide. It needs to be scrapped. Quickly. The rich will always be able to afford to pay intelligent people to find loopholes. You cannot avoid this, no matter how many rules you create.

There's a better alternative. After having read the pros and the cons of a national sales tax, I'm convinced it's the right move. In fact, most of the cons against the national sales tax read more like arguments in FAVOR of it. Judge for yourself:

(Note: I'm not necessarily in favor of the so-called "Fair Tax," just a national sales tax of some kind.)


Second, forced generosity is unsustainable. Beginning this year, the Baby Boomers have begun to retire, many of them placing pressure on the already overburdened Social Security and Medicare. Estimates of the promises made through these socialist programs are anywhere from $50 to $150 trillion dollars. Unless these policies are IMMEDIATELY reversed we are headed straight for bankruptcy. But for politicians to perform such painful surgery would likely cost them their jobs.

The American people want something for nothing, so they have consistently voted socialistically. America the Titanic is headed directly for the iceberg, and it's nearly too late to turn the ship around. The American people need to change the way they think, and fast, or we're going to suffer greatly.

I fear it's already too late. I fear this whole article is a moot discussion.


Third, forced generosity is unacceptable. I agree that the rich should be more generous, and I have a solution to that in a moment. But forcing them to be generous is unacceptable, and here's why:

Suppose you have a friend named George; you've known him all your life. A mutual friend named Oliver is down on his luck and approaches you both for money to help pay for his kids' college tuition. You give some money because you want to be generous, but George doesn't want to. You try to convince George to do the right thing, but he still disagrees.

Is it right to threaten George with physical force to do the right thing?

Now imagine ten of your friends take a vote, and six out of the ten decide it's right to threaten George with physical force to help Oliver.

Does this democratic process make it OK to threaten George with physical force to do the right thing?

Now imagine that many thousands of people use a democratic process to create an agency, let's call them "The Agents," to ensure that they do everything they can so that George helps Oliver. George knows what will happen if he doesn't pay; soon, The Agents will come to George's house with guns and take him away. So he pays.

Is it right for The Agents to threaten George with physical force to do the right thing?

I'd read about this problem at GeorgeOughtToHelp.com. Watch a short video which explains the problem better than I can. They offer a solution called "Stateless Society," which is a type of Libertarianism. I'm not a fan of this solution, but I do agree that forced generosity isn't acceptable.


Fourth, some who feel compassion for the poor may think the only possible answer to help them is forced generosity. No wonder socialist-like thinking is heavily promoted by those who are compassionate!

I think there is a better option, the Christian option: Hearts can be changed to be voluntarily generous by the promise of knowing Jesus better as a reward for obedience. The Bible has a six-sided, balanced seesaw when it comes to providing for the poor.

On one side, you have property ownership, even in the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not steal." (Exodus 20:15) This discourages socialist thinking.

The second side is protection from abuse due to laziness: "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV) This promotes the idea of hard work and enterprise and again, discourages lazy people who want something for nothing, who often vote socialistically.

The third side is the very heartbeat of God to be generous: "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy." (Luke 12:33 ESV) This is the command of action, but it's balanced out by the other five sides of the seesaw.

The fourth side of the seesaw comes immediately before the previous verse about giving to the needy. It protects you from fear that if you are generous, you will lose too much money and starve or be naked as a consequence. The verse is a little long, but all of it is important:
"And he said to his disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy." (Luke 12:22-33 ESV)

The fifth side, my favorite, comes immediately after the verse about giving to the needy. It provides great incentive to give, far greater than the promise of wealth. The Bible gives the immense promise of enjoying the Treasure that is Jesus by seeing His kingdom and rule spread through all the earth:
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:33-34 ESV)

The last side of the seesaw is that we are to reproduce Christians, both amongst the poor and the wealthy. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19 ESV) We are not to simply care for the poor and send them on to hell; that wouldn't be loving at all. We are to tell them about Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world and gives us powerful motivation to be generous; namely, the joy of enjoying the resplendent Savior, the knowing of whom comes through obedient lives.

We are to replicate Jesus' heart and mind amongst the world so that people will no longer be tempted to steal, but work hard in order to give to the needy: "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." (Ephesians 4:28 ESV)

Both the poor and the rich are tempted to idolize money. Yes, the poor also idolize money; I should know, I've been both poor and rich. The Bible helps both groups of people find the superior Treasure, and when finding it, former idols are let go.

"Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, 'Who is the Lord?'
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God."
(Proverbs 30:7-9 ESV)

"Money is the currency of Christian Hedonism." -Doctor and Pastor John Piper


So that's the six-sided seesaw. There may be more sides. I have never found such an astonishingly balanced seesaw anywhere else. The Bible works so well with the human condition, which is one reason I remain a Christian. "If I ever find a worldview which works better with the human condition, I'll take it!" -Piper


So Jesus wouldn't put a gun to the head of others, forcing them to give. As the fifth side of the seesaw demonstrates, He would put a desire for Himself in their hearts, and, living for the joy of making Jesus look good, they are happy to be generous as a byproduct.

Consider Acts 4:32-35:
"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." (ESV)

One implication: Caring for the poor, the way God intended it, is freedom and a delight. Forced generosity (socialistic-like thought) is slavery and a drudgery. Consider 2 Corinthians 8:1-3: "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord..." (ESV)

My historical hero George Mueller understood this better than perhaps anyone else in the world. Without asking a single soul for a penny, he prayed in support for the poor in the equivalent of $177 million dollars (in today's money). Numerous atheists couldn't refute his life testimony and came to Jesus as a result.

In summary: Heart change on a global scale is needed. That heart change comes about through the promise of knowing Jesus better, and enjoying Him for the treasure that He is, the knowledge of whom comes through the obedience of generosity. Then money will flow to the hands of the needy in record volumes, and being so impressed by love, they too will change, living for the glory of Christ and giving generously. "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7 ESV)

Oh, how I pray for global heart change!

If you're reading this and you claim to be a Christian, but you don't have a strong desire to know Jesus better and make Him look better through the obedience of generosity, you've got some serious praying to do. Read Luke 12, then get on your face and cry out for help here.


In closing, I did a Google search for "tax the rich" and found Mr. Buchheit's article. I read it as I wanted to see if there were good reasons that I was not aware of to tax the rich. But he's only demonstrated the terrible folly of socialist-like thinking. I'm sure he wasn't aware of the implications of his article. I hope he considers that there may be better solutions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blogging break

The Lord is leading me to take a blogging break. Not that I lack blog article ideas, just that I need to focus on some other issues for a short season. I do plan on covering a tomato/gardening experiment soon, but that'll be it for an undetermined length of time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jehovah's Witnesses, you missed a verse

Jehovah's Witnesses, you forgot to change a verse in your bible:
But on catching sight of Jesus from a distance he ran and did obeisance to him, and, when he had cried out with a loud voice, he said: “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I put you under oath by God not to torment me.” For he had been telling it: “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.” (...) However, he did not let him, but said to him: “Go home to your relatives, and report to them all the things Jehovah has done for you and the mercy he had on you.” And he went away and started to proclaim in the De·cap´o·lis all the things Jesus did for him, and all the people began to wonder. (Mark 5:6-8, 19-20 in the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation)

Can you see that Jesus equated Himself with Jehovah, since He Himself did that kind deed for the man? And that the man understood the message and told everyone that Jesus Himself did the deed?

Witnesses, your view of Jehovah is so very different than mine that I think we can both agree that you and I have a different Jehovah. You have a history of changing your bible to line up with your beliefs (for example, see these scans of a 1961 New World Translation: scan 1* scan 2 scan 3 scan 4).

* By the way, I didn't misspell Jehovah in that first scan, my friend did.

Interestingly, you say the trinitarian translators of changing the texts to suit their theology, but one wonders if the opposite is true. Besides, if they really were dinking around with the text, wouldn't you think Colossians 1:15 would have been the first target? I would.

That's why I believe the trinitarian translators are the more believable ones. They saw the difficulties that Colossians 1:15 would cause if they translated it the way it appeared in the Greek text, but they kept it the same anyway. They trusted Jehovah that He would guide us even with Colossians 1:15 in there. They seem to be the more honest ones. Nearly every trinitarian translator has kept the word "firstborn". I think they are just being faithful to the original Greek text. If they were really interested in promoting a myth of three god worship, that text would have to go, and yet they have kept it there. Changing key words seems to be unacceptable for trinitarian translators. It does, however, seem to be acceptable for Jehovah's Witness translators.

Given that it seems we have two different Jehovahs, you realize that if you're serving the wrong Jehovah you are going to be destroyed. You realize that, don't you? It is that serious.

You have a more severe problem than just having the wrong Jehovah; you believe you have basically kept the Ten Commandments. If that is the case, go here and claim your prize. That is a legitimate offer to anyone who can prove they have kept the Ten Commandments.

So go to the site above and claim your prize :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fundamentalists, Repent! Hmmmm...

I just found something that made me smile at FundamentalistsRepent.com. They begin:
Fundamentalism is a style of Christian belief that begins with the position that the Bible is inerrant and literally true. This is not only an erroneous approach to scripture, it also leads to numerous difficulties of doctrine.

I guess that classifies me as a Fundamentalist, though I have some issue being called that because the group who is typically labeled "Fundamentalist" does some un-Biblical things themselves, but anyway... the important part that made me smile was next:
In the essays herein, Fundamentalists are called to reconsider their approach to the Bible, and the nature of doctrines shaped by what is demonstrably an un-Christlike view of life, of God, and of human nature.

The problem is this: How do you know if one's doctrines are truly Christ-like if they are not precisely as Christ spoke them? If they are someone else's ideas of what Christlikeness should be, then they should be called "Boblike" or "Cindylike" or "Johnlike," but to call their doctrines "Christlike" is simply not true, and it actually made me laugh out loud.

Now I think I know what they're actually trying to say; I think they're trying to say that to take the Bible literally means you have to come to some conclusions that seem unloving. But the point of reference is their own opinions -- they, not God, have to become the judge of what is actually loving or unloving.

This cannot be. Let the Bible interpret the Bible, as I did in my last post.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Go up, you baldhead!

Boy, this scripture really puts the fear of God in me:
[Elisha] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. (2 Kings 2:23-24 ESV)

While the commentators have given some interesting (and doubtful) interpretations of this verse, the most reasonable and helpful comment I've seen is why the boys used the term "Go up... go up..." It was most likely a reference to Elija, who was Elisha's mentor, who went up into the sky to be with King Jesus, rather than die. Possibly these boys were expressing their desire that he leave the earth and never come back. Might as well wish him dead.

Secondly, it must be noted that it was God, not Elisha, who actually sent the bears. Elisha did not send them.

Finally, the best interpretation of this verse came earlier in the Bible as a solemn warning to the parents of Israel:
Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 ESV)

This Scripture really puts the fear of God in me. DO NOT MOCK GOD OR GOD'S ANOINTED. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,
and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
with which your enemies mock, O Lord,
with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. (Psalm 89:50-51 ESV)

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 ESV)

World is awash in porn

Another brilliant quote from you-know-who:
One of the main reasons that the world and the church are awash in lust and pornography, fornication, adultery, masturbation, exhibitionism, homosexuality, bestiality, rape, and endless sexual innuendo in all media—one of the reasons we are awash in all this is that our lives are intellectually and emotionally disconnected from infinite, soul-staggering grandeur. Inside and outside the church we are drowning in a sea of triviality, pettiness, banality, and silliness. Television is trivial. Radio is trivial. Conversation is trivial. Education is trivial. Christian books are trivial. Worship styles are trivial. It is inevitable that the human heart, which was made to be staggered with terrifyingly joyous dread and peace by an infinitely untouchable, embracing God—it is inevitable that such a heart, drowning in the all-pervasive, blurry boredom of banal entertainment, will reach for the best buzz that life can give: sex. (Source, emphasis added)

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28 ESV)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Christianity a crutch? Yes, period.


Matthew 5:3-4
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Back in 1978 I spoke in Aspen, Colorado, to a gathering of Inter-Varsity students and people off the street. At the end of my talk one of the students asked a very common question. He said, "Isn't Christianity a crutch for people who can't make it on their own?"

My answer was very simple. I said, "Yes." Period.

What's Bad About a Crutch?

I can't remember how the conversation went from there. So let me just pick it up here. My return question would be, "Why is the thought that Christianity is a crutch considered to be a valid criticism of Christianity?" People don't usually look at a crutch and say, "That's bad. It's just a crutch." People don't in general think that crutches are bad things. Why does a crutch become a bad thing when it's Christianity?

I think the answer that most critics would give is this: if Christianity is a crutch, then it's only good for cripples. But we don't like to see ourselves as cripples. And so it is offensive to our self-sufficiency to label Christianity as a crutch.

But Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). In other words, the only people who will ever come to get what Jesus has to give are sick people, people who know that they are spiritually and morally and very often physically crippled.

Everybody Has a Creed

Everybody has a creed. All people believe in something and shape their lives around it. Even agnostics believe very strongly that you ought not believe anything very strongly (which is why it is so hard to be a consistent agnostic). We all have a creed that we live by, whether we can articulate it or not.

What is the creed behind the conviction that if Christianity is a crutch, it is undesirable and unworthy of acceptance? I think the answer is this: the creed behind this criticism of Christianity is the confidence that we are not cripples, and that real joy and fulfillment in life are to be found in the pursuit of self-reliance, self-confidence, self-determination, and self-esteem.

Any Messiah who comes along and proposes to replace self-reliance with childlike God-reliance, and self-confidence with submissive God-confidence, and self-determination with sovereign grace, and self-esteem with magnificent mercy for the unworthy—that Messiah is going to be a threat to the religion of self-admiration. That religion has dominated the world ever since Adam and Eve fell in love with the image of their own independent potential when they it saw reflected back to them in the eye of the serpent: "You will not die; you will be like God."


From another outstanding Piper sermon: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit Who Mourn

Also, check out The Goal of God's Love May Not Be What You Think It Is: "Does anyone go to the Grand Canyon to increase their Self-Esteem?"

And a recent show on G3 radio called Self-Esteem vs. the Gospel. I enjoyed this one.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't blindly follow the church fathers

Freddie Knapp wrote, "Most of the Church fathers (for example Iraeneus and Clement) were known heretics. (...) The church was corrupt in Paul's day, so appealing to what a heretic believed in 150 AD is really weightless."

Great quote. Many of the oldest Christians who immediately followed Paul are great Christians and deserve our attention, but they're still human and fallible. And as Freddie pointed out, even those in Paul's time were corrupt.

Follow the church fathers as far as they followed Christ, no further.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Steps preventing small business adoption of Linux

I've been thinking very hard about how to get into the small-to-medium business (SMB) market with some fresh software alternatives. Microsoft has a HUGE chunk of this business with their Small Business Server.

They seem to be excelling in this market for three reasons: relatively low cost of startup (comparatively speaking), a comprehensive suite of software that small businesses need, and a high degree of integration. Microsoft's comprehensive suite of software is well-integrated, combined into a (relatively) seamless package, means that a small business owner can hire a single IT consultant.

And the package scales nicely; with enough money, Active Directory and Exchange can scale up to thousands of users.

If one is to compete with Microsoft in this arena, he would need to do the following:
1. Identify top point solutions that can compete well with the Microsoft point solutions. For example, Zimbra looks like an excellent Exchange alternative.
2. Install them into a test environment.
3. Integrate them, and make note of changes needed to make integration possible.
4. Write scripts and web interfaces which make those necessary changes. For example, if the domain name for your test environment is Example.com and the DNS server is 1.2.3.4, these would need to be changed on a per-customer basis. The web interface would ask for this domain name and then change it in each application (Zimbra, etc.). Respect any hand-coded changes.
5. Use one interface to make all system-wide changes, for a seamless appearance to the IT administrator.
6. Package it all up.
7. Advertise, advertise, advertise!
8. Sell support services.

There's probably a few other meta-steps, and of course countless micro-steps, but this should be enough of an overview.

For scalability, three things:
1. Use OpenVZ to containerize/separate each application (such as Zimbra) into individual virtual machines. The overhead for OpenVZ is FAR less than VMware or Xen. This lets you move the virtual machines around the enterprise later. For instance, if the Zimbra server is using too much CPU, simply buy another machine, install Linux+OpenVZ, then migrate your virtual machine over to it. It would be hard to make scalability simpler than that.

If you do this, create many small virtual machines, separating out as many applications as possible into individual VMs (OpenVZ can handle it). This way you can separate individual applications as-needed. Exchange does this, with its differing roles; you can (relatively) easily scale Exchange up to hundreds of servers by splitting the roles on to different servers.

2. Add extra redundant servers right at the front; for example, when you create a DNS server, create a primary server in one virtual machine and a secondary in another, even though both would be running on the same host server. That way, when you're ready to scale outward, simply move one of the DNS servers to a new host server and you're back in business. Set up as many redundant servers as possible (database, email, etc.) with this end in mind.

Use clustering/data replication when redundant servers are not available (Linux-HA, DRBD, etc.), initially within the single node. When the user is ready to scale up, he simply moves the VM to another host and he's immediately got a cluster. Instant scalability and clustering out-of-the-box.

3. Integrate a terminal server, which not only gives nice scalability but also solves some other problems as well: Desktop hardware costs, management costs, security, remote access, etc.

All of this would be ready-to-go on a DVD ISO, perhaps in a LiveCD format for demoing.


Over time, this company would want to offer more virtual machines such as: VoIP, firewalling, blogging, CRM, ERP, etc. Or maybe these would be integrated up-front to give an edge over Microsoft. One wouldn't want to bite off too much at first though.


This would be a very ambitious project, but I think that a project manager and a few software developers could get it started in their spare time. A project like this may take up to a year before the first release, but the long-term potential income is interesting, with things like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). By hosting some of the virtual machines in a cloud such as Amazon's EC2, you can rent services to small businesses and let them skip housing the server locally. You can offer backup, monitoring and security services as well. Enterprise-level phone support would of course be needed, and could put some Linux aficionados or consultants to work. This company could also sell its own consultant services for further integration, scalability and development.

I've got a few irons in the fire, but this may be an interesting project. All of the pieces seem to be there, someone just needs to be the first to integrate them all.


UPDATE: After much searching, I discovered an open source company called DataSync who is doing many of these things. Since it's open source, I can just jump in and contribute. I wonder how much I can contribute? They don't do out-of-the-box clustering+instant scalability using VMs, perhaps I could start there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interesting post by Charice

Charice dropped an interesting post on her blog yesterday, I was very encouraged to see that she is able to meditate upon God's Word during this time of pregnant difficulty in her life.

Oh by the way, I don't know if I told everyone but she is pregnant again :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

No post-modern atheists

Atheists are very strong in their opinion that there is NO God. Not Christian, not Muslim, not Hindu, NOTHING. They are unbending in this conviction.

I'll bet there are no post-modern atheists; post-modernism says that all opinions are valid. (By contrast, the Bible seems to indicate that even though all opinions are not valid, all opinions deserve to be heard. This is because all people are God's image-bearers and as such they deserve our respect.)

What do you think?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Brrrr... cold in Florida

Tonight as I was taking out the trash, I noticed something you don't see very often here in north Florida: Ice. I saw ice on the trash lids. I noticed it this morning as well, so it's been there all day as far as I know.

As I write this, it is 34 degrees and a hard freeze warning is in effect. We've had several of them in the last month. I believe this morning it was in the twenties.

So much for global warming... If it gets any colder, I'm moving to Florida... I've heard it's warm there LOL

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Calvinist Non-Debate with Arminian Author Roger Olson

A few weeks ago I wrote that I'd get a chance to talk with the famous Arminian professor and author Roger Olson. To give you an idea of the scope of this interview, it'd be like the radio show for a local high school football team interviewing the offensive manager for the Steelers. Roger is BIG NEWS, we are not.

Interestingly, though we disagree on a sensitive subject (which usually gets people angry), we didn't debate. We had an hour-long discussion about how to discuss Arminian/Calvinist theology (and other doctrines like Semi-Pelageanism or Hyper-Calvinism, etc.) without disobeying Jesus' words:
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35 ESV)

It was a GREAT show. I loved doing it. Please have a listen: Gospel, Gifts and Grace - The Clash of Calvinists and Arminians

We showed an unbelieving world that even people who vastly disagree can still love each other. Wonderful!

UPDATE: Abortion is human sacrifice

This is an update on Sunday's article on abortion.

Some of you who read Sunday's post may think, "What a jerk! This guy has no clue just how difficult it can be to face an unwanted pregnancy. How insensitive."

First, I will admit that it was a hasty post. I didn't put much time into it. And I deeply apologize, it probably seemed insensitive, because it probably WAS insensitive. I can be insensitive at times.

Now that I've had time to think about it, I confess that you are indeed right; Indeed, I cannot know how difficult it must be, but I can speculate: NINE months of torturous living; headaches, back pain, swelling, misshapen figure, weight gain, swollen ankles, cravings, nausea, constipation, constant prodding of your body, all climaxing into several weeks of sharp, painful contractions, diarrhea, hot sweats, painful weight gain, followed by many hours of terrible pain in labor, IVs, spinal taps, difficult body posture, excruciating final labor. Or possible C-section surgery, or even threat to your life.

And then there's the costs: Delivery time off from work, painful, exhausting recovery time, who will help out (if you have no husband or faithful boyfriend), who will pay the hospital, the doctors, the pharmacies, the formula, the baby food, the clothing, the late nights, the early mornings, the bigger car, the car seat, lugging twenty-eight pounds of equipment everywhere you go, constant diapering, worrying that someone will harm it...

And then there's the toddler years: Getting into everything, feeding, diapering, clothing it with increasingly-more-expensive clothing (which is rotated in size well before it is worn out), the rebellion, the screaming, the crying, the hitting, having to discipline, getting a bigger house to fit your growing family, feeding it, the added expense of health care, doctor bills, groceries...

I could go on. Elementary years with its bullies and school programs. Teen years with all of its worries and rebellion, "I HATE YOU MOM!" College years with its expenses and concerns. To say nothing if the baby is born handicapped. Oh, the challenges that mothers of handicapped children must be facing! My ponderings on the burdens of childbearing have probably only touched the surface of the iceberg.

NO WONDER A WOMAN WOULD WANT TO ABORT HER BABY!! A quick, $500 procedure can eliminate ALL of that misery before anyone even knows you are pregnant. I can understand the draw and attraction of abortion, believe me I can. My wife is about to have her third child, and I can tell you that the first two weren't cake, and neither will number three be.

But is that all there is to it?

Many people today speak of abortion as though it is cutting out a painful tumor. And if that were all to it, why in the world am I getting so upset about it? It is because a baby in the womb is a life, a human being. The Maker of heaven and earth wrote a book called a Bible, and He uses the same word "baby" for the child in the womb and the child out-of-the-womb. See this five-minute video, which gives a short Biblical defense: It's a Baby!

If you went door-to-door and asked one hundred people this one-question survey: When is it right to take an innocent person's life, the overwhelming answer would be, "never."

NEVER!

Consider this: People just one-hundred years ago were beginning to have the opinions that are common today: There are too many people in the world, children are a drain on an economy's resources, we need to promote some sort of birth control, etc. Have you considered that if they were successful and unrestrained in their campaigns, that there is a significantly good chance that you would not be alive today? YOU are the life they were seeing in their future. Some day, people -- yes, real people -- will come out of wombs and live their lives.

It is NEVER right to take an innocent person's life, no matter HOW painful or costly.

So... what's a woman to do? Where will she go for the support that she will need for (oh my... this is staggering) the next twenty years? (Or fourty, if you consider the burden that grandchildren also can be.)

She goes to God's very promises!

* God promises to provide for His children. Read Habakkuk 3 and Matthew 6:19-34 out loud. Go ahead, read it out loud, I'll wait :-)
* God promises to comfort us in our difficulty. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 out loud.
* Jesus went through difficulties that were not unlike child bearing; see Hebrews 4:15. Indeed, if you had been innocent but drank your loving Father's wrath against you for what someone else did, you would be facing temptations, pains and difficulties far GREATER than child birth.
* God says that children are a blessing, no matter how you feel about them. Read Psalm 127 aloud. It is true that while children are a burden, the blessing does indeed outweigh the pain. I speak for my wife, but she would say the same thing. When I consider that I am raising future men who may become soldiers for the glorious army of King Jesus, I am given strength to press on.
* God says that the pain of childbearing is because we have rebelled against Him, NOT because we are basically good people. Read Genesis 3 aloud.
* When she makes mistakes, God promises to give her His own "goodness" (righteousness) as though she had never made a single mistake in her life. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 aloud.
* God promises to reward those who faithfully, humbly, and persistently serve their children as Jesus served us. Read Hebrews 11:6 and Matthew 6:19-21 aloud again.

And on and on. God's Word is RICH with promises. I can tell you that He has never failed us, but if you need a stronger testimony, listen to or read the biography, "George Mueller of Bristol, and His Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God." In it, you will read such testimonies as this:
One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school." Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it." Mueller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!"

Secondly, she can go to God's people for strength, refuge and support. She should seek to find a GOOD church, one where the pastor practices these nine principles from the Bible. Yes, I am aware there is hurt and hypocrisy inside the church, but generally speaking, the more a church practices those nine principles, the better they are. God's people have become for us like our extended family. We are deeply blessed to have them. If you are in Jacksonville, consider joining us at Grace Covenant Church.

Therefore I plead with you: Do not murder. Do not encourage anyone to murder. Do not lust after someone else, which is as Jesus said, adultery (see Matthew 5:27-28). If you have lusted after someone else, or even hated them in your heart, you will stand before God on Judgment day; not as Father, but as Judge, guilty of adultery and murder (see Jesus' words in Matthew 5:21-22). You know it's wrong to hate, you know it's wrong to lust after what God did not give you through marriage. I urge you, repent and trust in His promises before it is too late!


So to summarize, I'm not taking back what I said Sunday, it is true. Abortion is as human sacrifice to the gods of convenience and fornication. But truth needs to always be a companion with grace, and I made a mistake.