Ephesians 1:13-16 

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"

1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

Having been adopted into the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ, we have been destined to receive all of the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness He earned while He was here, submitting perfectly to the expressed will of the Father, where it climaxed at Calvary. One of the great blessings we have inherited is not only the very righteousness of Christ, made possible through the cross, but also that we have been destined to be conformed to His very image. In this passage, we find that there is a command given. We are commanded to set our hope on the grace that will be revealed to us. It then goes further to say we are commanded to "not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" When we typically hear the word command, we can sometimes have the immediate thought, "Oh here it is again, another thing I must dutifully commit to doing or else I'm not doing what's right." But there is something else at work within this passage. While this is a command, it is more than that. It is a privilege! When we believed in Christ (those of us that have), working in and through our will was God's will for our entire existence. We find out that we were destined to be made into and conformed to the image of Christ. What an honor! This should empower us to live holy lives, because God is for us. We have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, to be vessels of mercy, and a special affection has been set on us to live in a way that glorifies God. So when we hear these commands to abandon our former way of living (before we believed) and to not be conformed to our former way of life, though it is in fact a duty and a command, these things should not burden us or weigh us down as if we are relying on our own strength to carry out these commands, but we fully rely and lay back on Christ and His strength, displayed so magnificently in the cross, His death and resurrection. When we go to the cross and see the wonderful act that Christ performed, the great exchange where He bore our sins and our punishment that we earned, took it on Himself, died, and rose again, and gave us in exchange the very righteousness He earned, should our desire not be now to gratefully please the One who bought us? So at the foot of the cross, duty now turns to delight, it becomes the desire of our heart to please Him, because we see how much the Father loved us that He would give His one and only Son to the be the ransom for the wickedness in our hearts and its resulting punishment. When we hear these commands, let it soak in that having believed in Christ, you have been set aside by His good pleasure to bring glory to Him and honor Him with your life, your entire way of living. As a result of this, out of the love of our hearts, we then joyfully cast off our former ways of living in unrighteousness. In all the aspects of your life, school, work, studying, marriage, alone time, time spent with friends, time spent with unbelievers, let it be out of the abundance of love Christ has shown you that you pour out into all the areas of life to bring Him glory, and so also to preach the Gospel to those who don't know Him, that they may be won to salvation as the Sovereign Lord sees fit.
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My Brother is Gonna Jump Out of a C-17! 

I'm really excited for my bro. On Monday, he'll be doing exactly what you see above, out of the same type of jet. He sounds a little scared and pumped at the same time. He's been through some amazing adventures already in his time of training for the Army. Talking to him tonight was really good and I really see how Christ has taken this and used it to incline his heart toward Himself. He's really pumped up about sharing Christ with his fellow soldiers, but it's also really cool to see how he's becoming more excited about and falling in love with Christ. I can see that he's finding his greatest and ultimate delight in Christ Himself, seeing how God has sovereignly answered many prayers (mine personally) and seeing him just become fired up for the sake of God's name and glory. To check out how he's doing, go to his blog at stephen.westerfunk.net/blog.
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Almost done with school ... 

By God's grace, I am coming to the end of my undergraduate career. It has been a long haul, I took about a year and a half off after my mom passed away, but I finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I started out in the Business program at the Univ. of Texas at Arlington, which I really loved. I enjoyed delving into economics, marketing, finance, accounting, and all the other business courses and found all of it extremely fascinating. But during my time there studying business, I found myself dinking with computers, figuring out how they work, and my interest in technology over-shadowed my interest in business (though that is still there even now). One piece of knowledge led to another, which led to another, and so on. It started out with my Dell laptop having issues, me calling into support, and them walking me through DOS commands, which really got me interested in how all of it worked. I began studying how the internet worked, networking, and some basic programming. During this time, I started hanging out with my future wife, Courtney, and by God's providence, we were engaged on October 12, 2000, and married on June 8, 2001. I was planning on getting right back into school after getting married, while working full-time in IT at a financial company, but my mom's sudden passing three weeks after Courtney and I were married put things on hold for a little while. After dealing with all that, I then started back at the University of Phoenix in August of 2002, where I am about to complete my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BS/IT). I have finished all of my core classes for the IT program and just have two electives left, one of which I am in right now and about to finish. All I have left after Ethics in Management (the one I'm currently) is Geography of World Commerce. Should be fascinating, but man, I'm ready to be done; December 12! That's what's going on in my life at the present ...
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What is Happening to Journalism? USA Today Blunder ... 

Demonizing Condi

I thought journalism was supposed to be a profession that just gives you the news and lets you analyze it. This "profession" is dumbing down more and more everyday. USA Today, if you haven't heard, took a photo of Condoleeza Rice and doctored it to give her a rather sinister appearance, making her look sort of possessed. What ever happened to just good old news reporting? Just give me facts, don't give me your spin on it. And with pictures, why not try to get a decent image and leave it as is. Even major news sources (newspapers, internet, TV, radio) are beginning to go the way of the tabloid, becoming more and more sensationalized to bring in readers, listeners, and viewers. They are sacrificing quality for quantity, attempting to make a story something it isn't to get more devoted people, in order to raise their revenue through advertising. It's all about the dollar and the political agenda ... and it's driving me nuts.
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Self-Deprecation (A Puritan Prayer from The Valley of Vision) 


My every sense, member, faculty, affection, is a snare to me, I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me, or despise those below. I covet honour and riches of the mighty, and am proud and unmerciful to the rags of others; If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust, or see deformity, it stirs up loathing and disdain; How soon do slanders, vain jests, and wanton speeches creep into my heart! Am I comely? what fuel for pride! Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining! Am I gifted? I lust after applause! Am I learned? how despise what I have not! Am I in authority? how prone to abuse my trust, make my will my law, exclude others' enjoyments, serve my own interests and policy! Am I inferior? how much I grudge others' pre-eminence! Am I rich? how exalted I become! Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself. I bewail that my apprehensions are dull, my thoughts mean, my affections stupid, my expressions low, my life unbeseeming; Yes what canst thou expect of dust but levity, of corruption but defilement? Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, but let me not forget my heavenly title, or the grace that can deal with every sin.

Author Unknown. (2003). Self-Deprecation. The Valley of Vision (pp. 132-33). Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth Trust

This prayer is a very clear picture of what it means to be poor in spirit. It is coming to end of yourself, coming to an end of your own righteousness, being fed up with trying to gain any approval from God on your own (because you can't), throwing it all away and throwing yourself in reverence and awe at the cross where Jesus died. It is humbly admitting you are broken, dying, sick, disabled, and have nothing to offer the Savior at all. It is being honest about your sin, your deceitfulness, the wickedness of your heart, that every corner and crevice of your life, exposed and hidden, is laid bare before the eyes of the Lord. It is then confessing these things in the sincerity of your heart and throwing your trust on Jesus Christ, everyday, that He paid for and covered all of these deeds by His blood in His covenant of grace (that is if you believe in Him). Apart from Christ, all the consequences of these deeds, even the secret things no one knows about, will be dealt with for all eternity because the offense is infinite. I plead with you by the grace of Christ to believe in Him and He will wash away all of your filthy stains and make you as white as snow by His pure, undefiled blood.
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Monergism / Synergism Debate - John Hendryx 

A Bulldozer Against Synergism: Monergism / Synergism Debate - John Hendryx (Absolutely Excellent!)

I cannot stress the importance of understanding what is at stake here in this debate. Many believers set this debate aside as a "non-issue" or that we're just arguing over theological semantics that have no real significance in the believers life. What is at stake is a correct and truthful understanding of 1) man, 2) God, and 3) how a person is saved, which inevitably affects your Gospel presentation. What you believe concerning these things has ramifications in your life all across the board in regard to your dictation of the Gospel to unbelievers, what you believe about God, and how you live out what you believe in your life, just to name a few. It has to do with coming to a true, scriptural understanding of our nature as humans being so exceedingly corrupt and God's unsurpassable holiness, justice, love, mercy, grace, perfection, sovereignty, and righteousness. This is one of the best responses against synergism I have read. John Hendryx does an excellent, loving, and tactful job of presenting synergism for what it is: holding up man's will over against God's will (which isn't this the very thing that caused the fall to begin with?). It's a little long, but well worth the read, so print it out if you need to. To sum up the issues in a very generalized manner, synergism states that man cooperates with God in the regeneration (born again) process, that faith precedes regeneration; and monergism states that there is no cooperation between God and man until God regenerates the soul, that regeneration precedes faith (i.e. gives us the eyes to see, the ears to hear, removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh). If you haven't figured out where my convictions lie, I believe in monergistic regeneration. My personal subjective experience backs this up too. I have no other explanation for the change that occurred in my life. It was literally an overnight change (ask my dad, brother, or anyone else that knew me at that time). I pursued drugs and wickedness of all kinds, and yet in the midst of those very things I found myself strangely drawn to scripture where God unlocked my chains and set my soul free from the destructiveness of being enslaved to sin and self, even in the midst of drug use (Ephesians 2:1-3)! We are so in need of God and His Spirit, in real, personal fellowship with Him. If we were to see our true selves as we actually are, we would be appalled beyond words, on our knees trembling in fear of God at how far we really fall short in the light of His infinite holiness. But we are so blinded by our sin that we can't see that we're sinful. I have no righteousness of my own. I can boast in nothing but the cross of Christ. Thank God that Jesus came into this world to live the life we couldn't live, die the death we should die, and rose from the grave by the power of God, just as we will if we believe in Him for salvation. Thank You Father that You did not spare Your only Son but gave Him up for us all ...
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Hilarious ... Halonen / Conan 

I just can't stop cracking up at this when I see it. I was watching Conan last week and he presented the audience with a picture of the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen. Next to it he put a picture of himself and the resemblance is amazing. She could seriously be his mother or even him dressed up as a woman. He has gained some serious viewership over there from this whole thing ... as well as here.
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Knoppix 4.0 - Sweet OS 

I downloaded the latest version of Knoppix, ver. 4.0 (Live Linux Operating System CD, meaning you can boot-up straight to a Linux desktop off of the CD) and I have to say I'm very impressed. I currently have version 3.7 and it is really awesome. But not only is this new version faster and more efficient in its execution of the applications, they've also packed in a lot more sweet open-source programs to where you basically have everything you need right at your finger tips without having to install anything. In addition, it picked up every single one of my devices without me having to install a single driver. Although the Linux community has shot itself in the foot by keeping much of the functionality within the operating system rather cryptic, Linux is well on its way to becoming more user-friendly in my opinion. At the present time, you still need to know some of the basic commands to install many applications, connect network devices, and other various things, but hopefully in the future, they will make it all "point-and-click" (GUI) based so that it will catch on more with the non-nerd and non-IT people.
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Isaiah 50 

I've been reading through the book of Isaiah the past couple of weeks, and it is endlessly fascinating to see all of the imagery of Christ in it. From chapters 42, 43, 47, 50, 52, 53, and many other places particularly in this book, the sufferings of the Messiah are clearly shown. And once Jesus came into this world to carry out the will of the Father, namely the justification and glorification of His name as well as the redemption of His people, everything written of Christ beforehand came to life and was filled full of meaning (this being the definition of fulfillment). Psalm 22 is another place where the sufferings of the Savior are shown. In Isaiah 50, there is some very striking imagery of Christ bearing His back to those who would strike Him. It says in verses 5 through 6, "The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting" (ESV). My purpose in showing this is not so much to try and prove that Jesus is the Messiah from Old Testament scripture (though it does clearly show that to be the case), as it is to show that the God of the Old Testament, the great I AM, YHWH, is this very Jesus that came in the flesh, that lived in our lowly state with our very sufferings and yet without sin, lived a life in honor to the Father, offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb for all time, that He died, was buried, and rose from the grave proclaiming victory over sin, death and hell, in order to 1) vindicate His name (show that He is just after having passed over sin in times past), and 2) purchase salvation for His children. I just love going back to these Old Testament Scriptures to see that this great, awe-inspiring God who loves righteousness and justice, that wiped out hundreds of thousands of people for their wickedness, is the very God who took on our form in the lowly state of a baby born in an animals feeding trough, the lowliest state one could be, and humbly gave Himself to be the ransom for many, that He freely "gave [His] back to those who strike (i.e. the Roman floggers), and [His] cheeks to those who pull out the beard," a sign of complete disrespect and hatred toward another. Oh what a great and glorious God we serve that He would set aside His heavenly dwelling to serve us, love us, give Himself up as a ransom for us who believe, regenerate us, give us the eyes to see, the ears to hear, to give the finite the ability to discern that which is infinite by His Spirit. And how amazing is it that the Old Testament scripture is laden with imagery of the sufferings of Christ, that the Messiah would undergo such infinite torment for sinners who deserved eternal wrath? Oh God have mercy on me in my sinful state, change me to love what You love, and hate what You hate, but to be truly loving, serving, merciful, kind, patient, and generous to all I come in contact with, to the glory of Your name, that Your Gospel would be proclaimed, and that many would be saved.
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Able Danger - Possible Prevention of 9/11 

There's something I'm just not getting here. Okay, Sentor Curt Weldon has come out with several witnesses stating they were a part of the Able Danger program (Archived News Articles). Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI during the Clinton administration, has stated that if the Pentagon (i.e. Able Danger) had not been barred by White House lawyers from giving over specific information about 4 of the 19 hi-jackers, the FBI would have been able to possibly prevent 9/11. Whoa. So what I'm not getting here is why isn't this front page news? They now have several witnesses who state they were a part of this program starting back in 1999 and say they were barred by lawyers with the claim that it was unlawful to hand over that specific information pertaining to those 4 hi-jackers. Man, if this stuff is on, this is the scandle of our time, and yet oddly enough, it's barely anywhere to be found except on random news sites by searching Google News. Even more strange is that none of this was reported in the final 9/11 Report by the 9/11 commission. Hmm. Here's an interview with Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Intelligence Officer for Able Danger (Video Interview). The reason this is a big deal to me is that there are two types of calamity: man-made, and natural. With natural calamity you have absolutely no control over it. If a hurricane is coming, what are you going do? But with man-made tragedy and terrorism specifically, you can gather as much information as possible, take that information and put it to use to try and thwart an attack. In this instance, we had very specific information concerning these attacks and were barred by our own government from doing anything about it.

Another video interview with Rep. Curt Weldon
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