The Gospel - The Foolishness of What We Preach 

From the way many teachers teach and many pastors preach nowadays, you would think the Gospel was something that just makes sense to people, that it's like a lay up explanation that will solve all of people's various urgent problems. "First, all you have to do (as if the demands of the Gospel were in our own power to achieve, namely faith and repentance that only come from God to begin with) is 1, then 2, and then 3, and bingo! You're saved and all your problems will be fixed because God wants you to live life to your fullest potential!" If we can boil the Gospel down into this nice little package, maybe people will more easily accept it, at least so the thinking goes.

Yet, the Scriptures indicate that to the natural person, the Gospel, and the cross in particular, is an utterly foolish message, or a stumbling block. Why is this? Well, for one, we are dead in sins. It is a foolish message to a spiritually dead man until God creates light and faith in the heart of the unbeliever. The Gospel is the opposite of what the world expects. Our culture looks for what's practically relevant for their problems in the here and now, something they can do. "How can I overcome my stress?" "How do I get a better marriage?" And so on. Preachers like Joel Osteen address this message loud and clear that God's main goal for your life is to live it to the fullest now, all you have to do is A, B, and C, because God helps those who help themselves, so they say.

The Gospel message is counter to this though. Whereas the world's gospel is do 1, 2, and 3, and then God will accept you or bless you or whatever, the Gospel message comes in and states that you were so bad off in your sin and innate rebellion against God that He had to do the work Himself in the Person of Christ to redeem you. And He did this not out of compulsion, but out of pure, divine, premeditated love for His people.

Yet many teachers nowadays seem to think that the former message, that God just wants A, B, and C from you before he'll accept you, is the Gospel of Christianity, when that is actually antithetical to the message! Even the obedience of faith, if not seen as the work of God itself, lends us to the conclusion that we must achieve something apart from the work of God in us, that we must dig ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in before God will lift a finger. But in ourselves, we can't see Christ, can't believe the Gospel unless God reveals Christ to us, creating in us that which was not there: belief. This is the new birth. And it is necessary not only to see the kingdom of God, but also to enter it (John 3). Read More...
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Quality Tops Roofing - A Review 

Update: 08/14/2008:

I called them today to explain the situation with others in the neighborhood, what they were getting as a deal, and I will give them credit: they trimmed $200 off the total price. They were not happy to do it though, they made that abundantly clear to me, very defensive. Next hail storm, David Palafox Construction it is. Customer retention does not appear to be on their list of priorities.

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I really don't like it when others take advantage of my ignorance. It chaps me, to say the least. Kind of a pet peeve I struggle with, as far as holiness is concerned. And there is still much work in my heart to be done with my complaining tendencies. This experience has definitely been a test in my patience.

I'm an IT guy/nerd. I don't have a lot of knowledge of the construction profession (much in the same way many construction folks may not have a lot of knowledge of the IT profession), as to what a good deal is or not. I'm not what you would call a handy-man I guess. There are a few things I do know though. If I go and do computer work for someone and they know jack squat about how much I should charge them, I do not use that opportunity to grossly take advantage of their lack of knowledge for the sake of a profit. Now I definitely do computer work to make a profit for sure, but taking advantage of people who are thoroughly unknowledgeable of my field? That is simply dishonest.

I've learned a lot about the roofing profession today: do your homework, get multiple quotes, and check with your neighbors especially after a hail storm when everyone is getting their roofs redone. Don't just go with the first guy you find. I guess I need more construction profession wisdom? Well I've obtained quite a bit after this experience.

I've never had to have a roof replaced until the hail storm back in April came through and tore mine up. I finally got it done this past week. Quality Tops Roofing in Arlington, Texas was the roofer. They were recommended by someone I know. And though the results were professional (as in the actual work was well done), I came to find out once I arrived at my house after work that it looked totally different than everyone else's roof on the block. I (hate that I did this) assumed my roof was going to look like everyone else's. Don't assume anything. Ugh. Ask questions. Many questions. Make lists of questions. Think through every possible aspect, even if it seems absurd. Read More...
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A New Kind of Family? 

After you have a child, you begin to look at the world, entertainment, television, community, family, all sorts of things in a totally different perspective. At least I have. I noticed the other day in flipping TV stations that the ABC Family channel has a new slogan: A New Kind of Family. Maybe it's not a new slogan, I don't know. Regardless, it seems to me as if they are marketing to the millions of viewers who live in what our culture calls "non-traditional" or "progressive" families. Unfortunately now in this day in age, we live in a society of these kinds of families that are totally dysfunctional, where priorities are all askew, parents divorce and remarry like they are in middle school dating relationships, people in their teens, 20's, and 30's are having kids out of wedlock intentionally (and unintentionally through promiscuity), and what the culture calls a "traditional" family is now the minority. I myself grew up in a highly dysfunctional home. My wife did as well. We are still feeling the effects of that dysfunction to this day. Yet Christ has been gracious to reverse a majority of the damage through His power alone and continues to sustain us. All that to say, the individualistic tendencies within our culture are now getting the best of us. The very fact that ABC Family would go this route in their marketing points to this sad reality: their main tool for bringing in viewers is to make shows targeting this breakdown in the family unit, because that is now the majority of people in this country.

Our culture now not only views marriage in a distorted way, but is presenting this distorted viewpoint as what is normal. That is kind of frightening to me. God created us male and female and instituted a covenant marriage relationship between the two sexes as what is fitting and normal. Families just don't work in the way God intended them to work unless they are structured in this manner. Any other ordering of a family unit is trying to perfectly fit a square peg in a round hole. Sure, people can make you think what they want by presenting their disordered family as something that is normal and as something that is "working," much in the same way you can force the square peg into the round hole, but forcing it in still doesn't make the square peg a perfect fit because the corners will get stripped off of the peg.

ABC Family is an example of the media presenting this distortion as normal, acceptable, because clearly their target audience is no longer the traditional family, but the new, progressive family. They feel that is the norm now, otherwise, wouldn't they still be marketing to the traditional family? But the reality is families are dying from the inside out and this has adverse effects on the culture. Mothers' and fathers' lack of commitment to each other and their family's, and their lack of God-honoring actions are ripping lives and relationships apart, particularly their children's lives, whose relationships with their (married, not divorced) parents are necessary for proper mental, social, and most importantly, spiritual development. Living in a covenant marriage "'til death do us part" with one man and one woman is not just a preference for how we want our family's to be, but rather it is the way God Himself designed it and sovereignly set forth as the way it should and must be. And not only is this so, but it is the only logically functional way for it to work in our lives. Any other way is a distortion of the picture a family was meant to point to: the reality of Christ and His bride, the church, whom He has purchased with His own blood. Read More...
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Top Webcam Email Alerts 

I'm a nerd. I'm not afraid to hide it, clearly. As a nerd, I love technology. I have a webcam setup at home for security reasons, pointed across my front yard to catch possible intruders that wish to invade my property or cause other harm. I have a threshold setup on the software I run along with my webcam that, when hit, sends an email attached with a picture (or series of pictures) to an offsite email account.

Most of the time, I just get cars passing by, lightning during a storm, really any kind of movement or light change that causes enough of a fluctuation to trigger a webcam picture alert. Sorting through the emails on partly cloudy days is not always fun and many times, I just delete them all because it is too many to sort through. However, there are some rare occasions that I actually get something good, funny, or odd. Here is a sample of some of the best shots from the past two years that I have kept: Read More...
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Matthew Henry Commentary on Psalm 53:1-6 Pertaining to Sin 

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad." - Psalm 53:1-6

This psalm was opened before, and therefore we shall here only observe, in short, some things concerning sin, in order to the increasing of our sorrow for it and hatred of it.

1. The fact of sin. Is that proved? Can the charge be made out? Yes, God is a witness to it, an unexceptionable witness: from the place of his holiness he looks on the children of men, and sees how little good there is among them, v. 2. All the sinfulness of their hearts and lives in naked and open before him.

2. The fault of sin. Is there any harm in it? Yes, it is iniquity (v. 1, 4); it is an unrighteous thing; it is that which there is no good in (v. 1, 3); it is an evil thing; it is the worst of evils; it is that which makes this world such an evil world as it is; it is going back from God, v. 3.

3. The fountain of sin. How comes it that men are so bad? Surely it is because there is no fear of God before their eyes: they say in their hearts, "There is no God at all to call us to an account, none that we need to stand in awe of." Men's bad practices flow from their bad principles; if they profess to know God, yet in works, because in thoughts, they deny him. Read More...
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The Natural Inclination of the Heart of Man and The Power of Christ to Save 

"God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." - Psalm 53:2-3

I read through this chapter today as a part of my Bible reading plan, thinking about how different the presuppositional statements within these verses are from what we hear coming from the world's various religions, which is essentially this: man is basically good and inclined to do good at any given moment. But then also I thought about how, unfortunately, we hear essentially the same thing coming from within the church many times: you are all basically good people because you give so generously and also God loves you. This message, in itself, is a disservice to the glory of God because it fails to deliver the entire message of His Gospel that He has so graciously declared to us in the pages of Scripture. Yes God loves His people. But how is that He has loved us? Why is His love so amazing?

Unless we understand what it is that we are being saved from, and understand the depth of our depravity, we will not understand how great is the love of Christ in sacrificing Himself in our place on the cross. The Scriptures are emphatically clear about our natural moral condition. We need to be honest about Scriptures' assessment of our condition before God, lest we miss the heart of Christianity: the Gospel. And even after our conversion, it is necessary to see ourselves as, "simul iustus et pecator," that is, simultaneously justified yet sinful, otherwise, to grow in Christ, we will trust ourselves instead of Christ for the power to progressively change (the only way to change in the way that glorifies God).

This chapter also made me think about this verse: "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). Unless God moves in me by His Spirit, I do not properly feel and view myself like this and I can't stand it. My own heart is so inclined and prone toward evil, I cannot even begin to comprehend it. Jeremiah affirms this: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9-10). I certainly cannot. I am not supposing to know my heart exhaustively, but am proclaiming that we can know our hearts truthfully from God's Word. We need God's Spirit to show us, increasingly, the offense caused by our hearts in relation to the glory of God. These verses are a great place to start. Read More...
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There is No Such Thing as Fortune and Chance - John Calvin 

Excerpt from the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 16, Section 2, by John Calvin.

That this distinction may be the more manifest, we must consider that the Providence of God, as taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous causes. By an erroneous opinion prevailing in all ages, an opinion almost universally prevailing in our own day, viz., that all things happen fortuitously, the true doctrine of Providence has not only been obscured, but almost buried. If one falls among robbers, or ravenous beasts; if a sudden gust of wind at sea causes shipwreck; if one is struck down by the fall of a house or a tree; if another, when wandering through desert paths, meets with deliverance; or, after being tossed by the waves, arrives in port, and makes some wondrous hair-breadth escape from death - all these occurrences, prosperous as well as adverse, carnal sense will attribute to fortune. But whose has learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered, (Matt 10:30) will look farther for the cause, and hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to inanimate objects again we must hold that though each is possessed of its peculiar properties, yet all of them exert their force only in so far as directed by the immediate hand of God. Hence they are merely instruments, into which God constantly infuses what energy he sees meet, and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure. Read More...
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Christian > Protestant > Evangelical > Reformed 

When I say I'm Reformed, I'm associating myself with the Gospel doctrines as recovered in the Reformation that I believe to be true for all people, whether they assert the truth of these doctrines or not. Reformed theology is the understanding of Scripture I believe to be the clearest systematized explanation of the faith.

What is it exactly that was recovered in the Reformation? To put it in no uncertain terms: the Gospel was recovered. This is what Luther fought for at the Diet of Worms, which is the picture I have posted along with my entry here. I have no reservation with affirming myself as Reformed for that reason alone, the Gospel, on top of the hundreds of other reasons.

In addition to the Gospel, when I say I'm Reformed, I'm also saying that I'm a unreserved five-point Calvinist and Covenantal (as opposed to Dispensational). These things are extremely important because I believe they affect where we stand on a host of other doctrines. But at the same time, I want to be careful to also say that I do not hold out at arms length those who disagree with me who also love the same Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who through faith alone in Him are saved.

With that said, recently, Lee Irons in this entry made comments that on the surface can seem like they are not a big deal. But upon digging through the surface to see what the heart of the issue is, there are things that I cannot assert with him.

I classify myself in this manner: Christian > Protestant > Evangelical > Reformed. There is a reason for this, which I have explained in this entry before, so I won't go into it here. This is the same manner in which Irons classifies himself as well. However, I do not classify myself in this order for the same reasons that Irons does in his entry, nor do I share his explanation.

Steve Hays brought these issues to light recently in his blog entry found here. Seeing that Irons had the same classification system I did, I responded to Hays and asked if my ordering along with the explanation of it sounds right. The issue at hand with Irons entry, as Hays says in response to me, was this: "The problem is that Lee Irons sets these [labels-that is Evangelical and Reformed in particular] in potential opposition," as if being Reformed is an accessory to being an Evangelical or being a Christian. As Irons says, "Iím not a Reformed person who happens to be a Christian. Iím a blood-bought Christian who happens to believe in the Reformed understanding of the gospel."

But my question is this: is the Reformed point of view merely our opinion, or is it what the Scriptures have said? Are we not asserting that the Reformed understanding of the Gospel is the clearest, Scriptural articulation of the faith once for all delivered to the saints? That's not to say Reformed theology itself is infallibly authoritative, whereas only the Scriptures are, but it is definitely authoritative as claiming to assert the truth of Scripture. Is it not? Read More...
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Major DNS Internet Server Flaw - How it Affects the Average User 

(Original): http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id ... _article=1
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/secu ... et%20flaw/

(Original): http://isc.sans.org/diary.html?storyid=4780
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/secu ... ervations/

Most of you will more than likely have no clue about this major flaw unless you read any of the tech headlines. Even then, there really should be no reason why you would know about it, or why it is important to you. But the consequences of this giant hole, if the internet servers are not patched, could potentially be devastating. And I would like to try and explain, to the average user, why this is a not a small problem by any stretch of the imagination. I emphasize the word "try" because I'm attempting to break the language down and make it easier to understand.

The flaw has to do with the internet servers you may have heard of called DNS servers. DNS stands for Domain Name Server. DNS servers function as a hostname to IP address resolver (e.g. www.google.com translating to 64.233.167.104, for arguments' sake). So instead of looking up Google's home page using an IP address (64.233.167.104), you enter in a name you can remember and it points to that particular IP address for you (www.google.com). That is a very simple description, but it will suffice to explain the issue at hand.

In comes the flaw: a hole exists within the widely used open source (i.e. free) DNS server software called BIND that allows an attacker to poison its DNS cache to change the hostname from it's original IP to a different one. You say to me now, "what the ... what are you saying?" Read More...
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Hurricane Dolly Chorpus Christi Webcam (Updates Every 5 Seconds) 


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