Sunday, December 27, 2009

Burning the Midnight Oil... For Nothing?

It's quite late, approximately 02:14 and as I write down the time I'm reminded that I never did figure out why my blog time stamp is off. You see? There I go again, I'm trying to write a deeply thought-provoking blog entry and all I can write about is the stupid time stamp. Might as well write about a guy who's up past his bedtime reading the most fantastic blog entries (which are not his own) and watching some rather mind numbing television shows via the Internet. Oh wait, that guy is me.

I can't pretend to have something really deep and note worthy to discuss when I don't have anything. Right now my brain feels like applesauce two months after expiration, but at the same time I'm looking at my leather-bound Bible and the embossed words, "Veritas De Facto" in the bottom right corner... Am I Truth in practice? It seems really hypocritical to me to have a blog and tote a Bible that would appear to make the claim that I am Truth in practice. Then again, today I read the second chapter of Joshua which tells the story of Rahab the prostitute taking in spies and hiding them from the king. God took the lowliest of people and used her to deliver the land to the Israelites. If God would do that for a prostitute, what would He do for me?

This isn't to say that I should sin and sin again as if His grace was stuck to me like my head is to my neck. By willfully choosing to sin repeatedly, it is my understanding and belief that I'd be rejecting God's grace. In Hebrews 11:25, it is said that sin is only pleasurable for a season. When we take that into our understanding of what a season is, although literal and limited as the metaphor maybe, we have four seasons. We get one season of pleasure, and then what do we get? Romans 6:23 tells that the wages of sin is death. We choose to sin and we get one season of pleasure and three seasons of death. When I think about it on a broader scope, one might see this life as merely a season, but eternity can seem like twice that or even triple. Perhaps, you could even say you get to spend this life in the pleasure of sin, but you spend eternity in death. Of course, I'm not talking about six feet under, but rather a death that one can never be resurrected from; separation from God. I would rather die a thousand deaths here on earth than suffer one death knowing I would separated from my Savior.

Anyways, coming back to my Veritas De Facto motto and persona... It seems that while I had picked it because it was a strong and powerful phrase, the responsibility that comes with plastering that everywhere is such that it requires character of a strong and powerful person. I, of myself, have no power whatsoever. Nada. Zilch. Zero ("Go ahead, read it, it's orders from 'The Voice.") I am just a human, though I am God's workmanship, I make my own choices and some of them do not reflect my Maker's perfection. I openly and humbly admit that I do not always do the right thing, but I also openly and humbly accept the grace of Jesus Christ who redeemed my sorry self from the punishment of my sin so that I might spend eternity worshiping Him before His throne. Leaving all doctrinal debates aside about whether I'll actually get to do that once I die, consider the notion which I put forth and examine the resolve of my desire to serve my King.

In John 14:6, "Jesus replied, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life[...]'" Jesus is the Truth and we are to be imitators of Jesus, therefore we are to be imitators of Truth. In claiming that I am Truth in practice is to claim that I am an imitator of Christ, the Truth. Looking at it that way, realizing that everyone should be, "Veritas De Facto" makes the title less grandiose and intimidating. Since it's not about the titles or about the peron(s) holding those titles, then having my clever little Latin catch-phrase suddenly reduced to standard by which all Christians of every denomination should be living by is really not a big deal.

Still, I thank God for my lovely new Bible embossed with this standard and I pray that as I begin my journey through His Word yet again, that He will reveal to me more and more of Himself.

Until next time,
De Facto

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Something good this way comes

I know that some people who have followed my blog entries about upcoming writings know that it's about 50/50 on the turn out rate. The thing is, regardless of whether I get to writing the story that's got me all fired up after watching the movie Avatar (2009), I'm still coming out with a language in its infancy development stages. I've already laid the groundwork for the grammar, structure, and alphabet (phonetic and characters.) My hope is that I can get a few dedicated people to actually attempt to learn and incorporate the language in conversation. This would most likely manifest in the form of letter written once a weekly or once every other week. These would not have to be hand written letters, however hand written letters would provide me with valuable feedback on the level of difficulty for others in reproducing the characters I created. I'm not sure which to be more excited about, the story, or the language I'm creating for the story and its sequels.

Just a couple days ago I went to the theater to see James Cameron's Avatar. This movie was 14 years in the making and is the most expensive project to date. James Cameron, in case the name doesn't ring a bell, is the guy who made the classic Titanic. If you're memory is a little spotty or you're not into trivial facts concerning film, Titanic was one of the most expensive but also the most successful film in the mainstream box office. No film, not even Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was able to surpass the gross income raked in for the Titanic. Now that you have an idea about this guy's track record, let me tell you about his latest film and possibly one of my favorite films of all time.

Avatar is set on the fictional planet Pandora. This planet is much like our own. Also like Earth, Pandora has valuable resources, one of which is so valuable that mere kilos of the material will make you rich. Our main character, Jake Sullivan is sent to Pandora to replace his dead brother as a special type of negotiator. Sullivan was selected because his genome was compatible the avatar built for his brother. An avatar, in context to the film, is an artificially developed body in resemblance to Pandora's only sentient life, the Na'vi, infused with the DNA of person who will remotely control this body.

If you're feeling lost by my run down, don't feel bad, because I'm going to catch you up real quick here. This film is excellent display of how real a CGI character can be. At times I forgot I that I was looking at computer animated characters, they blended in so well with the environment (granted many environments were CGI.) The fact is, if they hadn't done such a good job on the rendering, then I'd probably get really sick of looking at cheaply made CGI characters sloppily cut and paste onto a real forest background. The only other option would have been to make this film a motion-capture film like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and Jim Carey's A Christmas Carol. To me, and a lot of other amateur film critics, these motion-capture style films don't hold the same value as films that simply mix CGI with real characters and environments. With that, it should come as no surprise that it cost James Cameron over $300 million to make this film, and it stands to reason that someone who puts down that much cash for some renderings is going to get the most lifelike renderings you'll ever see.

What Christians going to this film will probably hear from their other Christian friends is that this movie is reminiscent of Manifest Destiny and Greenpeace's push to save Mother Earth. People who say this fail to see a major difference that Sigourmey Weaver's character points out quite vividly, Pandora's connection to the animal, plant, and sentient life is biologically explainable. While Native Americans might have claimed to have a connection to all of life through some power given to them by the Great Spirit, the Na'vi and James Cameron aren't making that claim for Pandora. The Na'vi have tentacles smaller than fingers hidden beneath a tuft of hair at the end of their braided hair which can connect to similar tentacles on the animals that roam Pandora. The plant life doesn't seem to have these tentacles, but they still can make that connection, if only a one-way communication. These connections are neural in nature, and therefore when the Na'vi connect to an animal they can temporarily conscript its service. The Na'vi, like most Native American tribes, worshiped a nature-related deity. For the Na'vi her name is Ewya, the goddess of nature and of Pandora itself, who actually turns out to be a large tree with branches similar to a weeping willow except that these branches are larger versions of those neural tentacles I was telling you about. By connecting neural-tentacle-ally to the tree, the Na'vi can retrieve the memories of their dead ancestors, which is also explained by their burial process which involves Ewya absorbing their "energy" (which is their neural synapses).

I say all that to show you that James Cameron's invented race and the mythology they subscribe to is actually, in its fundamentals, a sound religion backed by the science. The Native Americans and their Great Spirit had no such science to back up their beliefs. Try not to get too offended by nature-loving/tree-hugging message you might be receiving, it's just your oversensitive oil-drilling self getting a little trigger happy.

I would give this film a 4.5/5. I won't give a 5/5 simply because I don't give that out to any film but the ones that live up to the highest of high expectations and then exceed them beyond my wildest imagination. If you're wondering what films did that for me, I'd say Watchmen and The Dark Knight were just two action films that did that for me. Forrest Gump and Finding Nemo were two other films that also received a perfect 5/5 in my book. If there's one thing I might suggest when you go to see this movie which you now know is an film that you would be foolish not to see in theaters, is that I wouldn't recommend paying the extra $3 or $4 just to see it in 3D. I saw it in 3D and didn't realize what was 3D about it until about an hour into the film when things started falling from the sky and appeared to be coming from the ceiling towards the screen. Still, the 3D portion of the film did not live up to the expectations I had for it based on what my friends had told me, but that did not effect my opinion of the film.

Until next time and Merry Christmas,
De Facto

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life is a Mine Field

"It's no game, when someone lives without His grace,
Who's to blame? When it blow ups in your face!
It's a mine field, you'd follow Him through
God knows the way, you'd better stick like glue
It's a mine field, you'd better stay on His heels
'Cause the enemy steals, and the enemy kills
So keep your head down, and keep your eyes peeled
'Cause life is, life is a mine field

"Mine Field" - Petra, written by Bob Hartman.
Words inspired from Proverbs 3:6, 1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 16:24
You can listen to the full song: Click Here

I was uploading and transferring files into my iTunes about an hour ago, and while doing so I was listening to the song that I posted above among other songs, but the words really stuck out to me. What struck me the most was the line, "It's no game, when someone lives without His grace." When I think about the truth of those words, it brings me to tears. People are literally living life and spiritually walking through a mine field. They have no idea what's going on and those of us who do, are walking around so comfortable and complacent, it's ridiculous how many people slip through our fingers every day. We may not be able to lead them all to Christ, but we can at least plant the seed. I think about all the people I talk to, all the people I deal with whenever I go out somewhere, and I wonder if I just let them go.

It's not enough to hope that someone else will reach them, or to let other evangelists reach out to them. It's true that there are those who have a passion and fervor for reaching the lost, but we are all called to preach the Gospel. We are don't even have to lead them to Christ, because in fact just by preaching the Gospel we are, the Holy Spirit can work the rest of it out in their hearts and minds. We simply have to say, "Yes, Lord" and do His will. Those of us who have been walking with the Lord for years, or maybe you were raised in a Christian home, know all this stuff. You know how to talk like a Christian, you can finish a Scripture someone is quoting, and you have everyone looking in from the outside thinking you're a good little Christian; I ask you, "Where is your faith?" It doesn't matter what you know in your head. What matters is in your heart, who is in your heart, who dwells within you. And if you have the Light inside, then let it shine, so that those who are empty inside can be made whole.

I cry out to God and ask, "Oh my God, how can I reach more people? More people, Lord! There's just so many people." It reminds me so much of the song, "Whether They Like It Or Not" by Disciple in which they sing about preaching the Gospel whether or not the rest of the world likes it. The fact is that things like college, blogging, listening to music, and things that we general put a level of importance on should be put on the back burner when opportunities come along to reach the lost. Or, you could make it easier on yourself and just preach the Gospel wherever you are. You don't have to whip out your 1688 KJV deluxe leather-bound pulpit Bible just to preach the Gospel. It could be something as simple as saying, "Jesus loves you" as you check out at the grocery store/department store instead of saying the expected, "Have a nice day." It's not politically correct, and thereby is not polite, but we're in the world and not of it, so that's just a little impoliteness we'll have to suffer through.

You wouldn't horde a cup of blood that contains disease, so why are you hording the cup of life? That's the blood of Jesus shed for all mankind that they might know of Him and be saved.

Until next time,
De Facto

Friday, December 4, 2009

Newton's Laws, God Bell Curve Grading, and Repentence

I was listening to some secular rock music and it for whatever it reason it sparked some thoughts about God. I really don't like rock music, particularly secular rock music because it's such a diluted form of music... I think rock could be a great genre, but as it is now... Well, it's crap. Anyways, I was thinking about sin, and how many people would like to think that God grades on a reverse-bell curve. As if somehow, the "evil-er" deeds of others justify your "inconsequential" sins. We humans, so simple-minded, look at individual acts and categorize them as if one were more severe than the other. Rape is worse than lying, hence why we don't put away liars for 25 years. Somehow liars justify their sin by looking at the rapist and saying, "It's not like I'm a rapist!" By that logic, I could justify nearly anything. One murder could be justified because it wasn't a genocide, a rape could be justified because it wasn't pedophilia, and so on and so forth. See how the foolishness of our own childish reasoning? We humans really are a child race of our Maker, only capable of seeing things from a limited perspective.

I was also thinking about how Newton's Laws of Physics seem to apply quite nicely to sin. One law in particular states that for action there is an equal and opposite reaction. With sin, there is some kind of pleasureable stimulus that keeps us coming back for more. We lust because it gratifies us in some way, but there is also that opposite reaction. Lust consumes us and if unchecked, can cause us to do all sorts of evil that we would have never considered when we started dabbling with sin. Which brings me to another one of Newton's Laws that is parallel to how sin works. That law is that a object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Although you may think you're in control, once you start sinning you will continue to do so until something stops you, like your willpower to repent. Someone might argue that that's not an outside force, and perhaps it isn't. The way I see it though is that free will is a God-given right, a gift to us so that we would not be like angels who chose their destiny long ago at the time of Lucifer's fall. In that respect, our free will seems more like an outside force than something that comes from within us.

I can't pretend to know everything, but after spending two years studying Biblical principles at an Institute hosted by church, I can say with some confidence that I at least have a foggy clue what I'm talking about. Speaking of outside forces, can you guess what isn't an outside force that stops you from sinning? Have you guessed it yet? If you guessed, "false humility" then you guessed right. You may fool your pastor, the priest your confessing to, or your friend who you're talking your sin through, but you cannot fool God. God sees your heart, and if your prayers of "repentence" are just lip service, then so will God's forgiveness. You reap what you sow; an empty sacrifice yields and empty reward.

When I think about my life, the way I live, and the things I do. How much of it sets the ball rolling of sin? What things in my life are fleshly things that keep me from living the life God has called me to live. I know that I can be slothful, a horrible habit bred by my upbringing, and that's not an excuse either. Often times I mean well when I set out to do something, but then I get overzealous and start many things at once and never finish any of them. Unfortunately, I do the exact opposite at times when I know that I can't handle multiple projects, in that I just don't do anything and say, "I can't handle that stuff right now. I just need to prioritize." If I prioritized with all the free time I had, I could prioritize the next 250 years of my life into the most structured and organized life... What a dull existence that would be... There's nothing wrong with be prioritized, in fact it's wise to do so, but being spontaneous is good in both battle and in everyday life. Bringing this back to focus, I don't want people to read this and get put off thinking that I'm out there with a Holier Than Thou attitude trying to condemn you all. I'm actually saying this because I look at myself and recognize a flaw and some symptoms of it, how it got started, and some parallels to the rest of the world that we can all relate to.

On an unrelated note, I am really sad and you can read a poem that I wrote, which explains why: Click Here

Until next time,
De Facto