I was delighted to run across two excellent posts about joy from blogger Elizabeth Moore at Study.Quiet.
The first post gives Biblical definitions of joy, while the second gives reasons for joy and ways to show it.
You can also read my posts on joy: Joyful Life and The Joy of Eternal Life.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Posted by the traveler at 9:30 PM
Monday, February 27, 2006
Sunday found Senator Bill Frist claiming credit for diffusing the hostilities of the deal with Dubai Ports World. According to BBC News, Senator Bill Frist had previously threatened to move a blocking law if the US government didn’t delay a deal with Dubai Ports World.
President Bush and the White House feel that the ports deal should go through although some people fear the deal is a threat to national security.
An article from the New York Times said that Frist took credit for the decision to allow 45 days for a national security review. Today’s White House press release explained some of Bush’s reasoning for his support of the ports deal.
“The President believes very strongly that we shouldn't be holding a company from an Arab country to a different standard than a company from Great Britain. So it's a principle that is involved here…It's also something that we have to look at in the broader context of our foreign policy and the war on terrorism that we're engaged in. The United Arab Emirates is a strong and good partner in the war on terrorism.”
While Bush feels strongly that the Dubai ports deal is not a risk for the US, Frist seems considerably more concerned, going so far as threatening to block the deal.
Posted by the traveler at 7:24 PM
Sunday, February 26, 2006
About a week ago I came head to head with an ugly monster. However, I had managed to avoid seeing it until my dad pointed it out.
Some of you may have read the Canadian comic strip, "For Better or For Worse," by Lynn Johnston. The early strips are endearing in their depiction of the ordinary troubles of a homemaker. However, Johnston later introduces a gay character.
In a book compilation of her strips, titled Never Wink at a Worried Woman, Johnston brings in yet another gay character, who is easy to talk to, kind, fun, and sympathetic. She makes it seem as though there is nothing wrong with this young man.
In this increasing tolerant culture, the homosexual agenda is worming its way into society. Truth is, I read the comic compilation, giving but little thought to the ugly truth about homosexuality.
The Independent Gay Forum (IGF) echoes Johnston’s sentiments,
“Being gay is simply a natural characteristic like having blue eyes or brown hair…Gay Pride is a healthy and reasonable response for gays in a society where many people still view being gay as something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about or discreetly silent about.”
IGF is saying that being gay is natural, normal, and certainly nothing deserving of censure. I am concerned that I have become so used to hearing about how being gay or lesbian isn’t wrong, that I am not reacting strongly enough to this abominable sin.
Besides that homosexuality defies nature, God has a lot to say about it.
The creation of man and woman speaks for itself. God wants a couple to become one flesh, be fruitful and multiply.
In Genesis 19, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because of the great evil in the city. When two angels come to visit Lot, homosexual men accost them, and the angels blind these men. After Lot and his family leave the city, God destroys it.
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” -Genesis 19:24
Romans 1:26 more specifically addresses the issue.
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
A few verses down it says that God considers these sins as “deserving of death.” In 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul points out the consequences of this evil behavior.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
God has clearly condemned homosexuality as evil. As Christians, we ought to view it as such and be disgusted. We should not buy into the idea of being tolerant towards gays and lesbians.
I am resolved to be more aware of what kinds of ideas I am allowing to be put into my head, and to examine them carefully, so that no monster will camouflage his way into my thinking.
To learn more about this from a Christian perspective, try:
Homophobia or Holiness?
Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective
Posted by the traveler at 10:24 PM
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I’m afraid of my opinion. So are you. Consider this situation. Spring quarter, I became involved in a political debate with a couple friends during a class break. It started calmly enough until I realized the opposing views that we represented. A couple of us supported Dino Rossi, and one of us supported Christine Gregoire.
The tension grew as mild statements turned into bald faced assertions. We were in deep water before long, discussing pro choice versus pro life views, and Bush versus Clinton. I knew we couldn’t go much further before one side would be seriously offended, and I didn’t want to risk a friendship over the issues. We swept the entire debate under the rug. It hasn’t come up since.
Still don’t believe me? Have you ever listened to a teacher say something you completely disagreed with and just sat there? Have you ever said ‘uh huh’ just to avoid a dispute?
I would contend that we’ve become so afraid of our opinions that we can’t even discuss elections with other people in a civil manner.
More than a few times I’ve kept my mouth shut simply to avoid an argument. I didn’t speak because I feared someone’s opinion, thought that the ensuing conversation wouldn’t be productive, wasn’t prepared to defend my position, or simply had no desire to have a conflict.
A naïve, no-conflict attitude seems to be common among my peers, leaving us unprepared for a vocal onslaught. We perceive an argument as something to be avoided at all costs, which causes a lack of communication, and an inability to support our arguments.
Because many of us haven’t learned how to debate in a civilized manner, feedback often turns into an ill considered combination of sweeping generalizations and accusations. During a discussion with a coworker, I mentioned that I thought public school teachers were overpaid. My coworker immediately responded defensively, telling me I was wrong.
It wasn’t a debate—she thought I was attacking her. She didn’t perceive it as a learning opportunity—she thought my motivation lay in destroying her argument.
I don’t like the implication of this, because it assumes that conflict is a bad thing. Not necessarily. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington presents an interesting take on conflict in their paper, “When Conflict Helps Learning.”
The paper targets conflict in a learning environment specifically, but emphasizes two ideas. They write, “Conflict motivates learning because people do not like to repeat frustrating, embarrassing, or painful experiences.” Approached with the right attitude, conflict can be an ideal opportunity to understand an opposing viewpoint.
Expanding on this idea, the paper continues, “Conflict inspires innovation by illuminating areas of misunderstanding, invalid assumptions, personality or value differences that, when explored, can result in greater value to everyone involved.”
Ideally, Americans should have a free exchange of ideas, especially among college students, who vary considerably in backgrounds and beliefs. A debate should not destroy a friendship or relationship, but should be approached non-combatively and with a desire to understand the other point of view.
I’m still afraid of my opinion, and you probably are too. However, if you are willing to share frightened opinions with me, I will do my best to use our conflict to learn and understand.
Posted by the traveler at 8:16 PM
Friday, February 24, 2006
Literature classes can be maddening. The professor usually has some convoluted explanation for what looks like a simple story. For example, my literature professor pointed out that the open boat in Stephen Crane’s short story, predictably called, “The Open Boat,” symbolizes life and the hindrances a person must overcome.
I didn’t think the story had any mysterious meaning. Four guys. One dingy. Huge chance of drowning. It just seemed like another shipwreck adventure. Just goes to show what I know.
That is one of the reasons why I’m a journalism major and not a literature major. However, this quarter I’m taking a second literature class and I’m again reminded of its importance.
The most significant benefit that great books, poems, or short stories provide, what makes hours of mind-numbing reading worthwhile, is their ability to provoke a flow of inquisitive thoughts and ideas.
For example, a recent reading of “The Awakening,” by Kate Chopin, which wasn’t a particularly diverting selection, inspired me to ask weighty questions and mull over the ideas in the story. Reflection of personal fulfillment in life could be contrasted to how Edna, the story’s main character, seeks to find fulfillment. One can hypothesize about what depresses people and about the responsibilities of couples in a marriage.
In my political correctness column last issue, I mentioned the importance of thinking, “If it can’t be thought, it can’t be done.” One of America’s greatest assets is her living, breathing, thinking Americans who use their cognitive functions to make sense of life.
College students are in a position to make the most out of new ideas, and the careful consideration of culture and philosophy can provide answers for a purposeful existence.
When reading a novella like “The Awakening,” or a story such as “The Law of Life” (Jack London), the reader might ponder the ideas and moral dilemmas the characters face.
Is man a product of his environment? What should a person do when they don’t feel fulfilled in life? Asking oneself these questions forces evaluation of one’s own life.
In his book, The Closing of the American Mind, Alan Bloom confronts the dangers of not thinking and reasoning, “The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.”
Historical proof exists showing that thought and logic can be a powerful threat against tyrannical government. The former U.S.S.R used the Glavlit, the central censorship office, to repress, “domestic writings of just about any kind—even beer and vodka labels.”
At a time when government continues to expand, Americans should vigilantly think and reason, ready to fight thought suppression.
The very fact that literature exists evidences the power of thought on humanity. Hundreds of books are published yearly, yet only a few survive for any amount of time. So, before dissing an agonizingly long, arid piece of literature like Crime and Punishment, you might want to think about it.
Posted by the traveler at 6:57 AM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
This morning in American literature, my professor took a brief hiatus from an off topic lecture and said something I thought was significant. We were discussing a short story by Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal,” a horrible short story in which a young man is faced with intense pressure to conform to what society wants.
My professor said, “The crime is in losing your uniqueness. Don’t lose track of your own individuality. . . Part of knowing yourself is knowing your place in history.”
The idea boils down to an identity crisis. Society says, “Who are you? Discover the real you. What is your purpose? Find the inner you.”
I believe there are three important questions: Do you know your identity? What/who determines your identity? What do you do about your identity? The question following these is: why am I here on earth?
At one point or another, humanity must ask themselves this question. In a secular world this question is so important that over 4 million copies of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life have been sold.
This question is so important that books, articles, and speeches have been devoted to it. It is so important that a big focus of today’s society is helping people feel good about themselves. Not knowing why you’re here, or who you are, can lead to depression. What is the point of life if you don’t understand your purpose in it?
These are questions I don’t have to ask, because I know the answer. I know who I am, because my identity is immutably linked to Christ.
I bear the legacy of Adam and Eve, who shortly after the beginning of the world, brought sin into the world. I am a sinner. There is nothing good in me.
Every act I do, anything I might consider “good,” doesn’t measure up. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”- Isaiah 64:6
That is depressing. No wonder anti-depression medications like Zoloft are necessary.
However, I have reason to rejoice. I have not been left to die in my sin. I am the recipient of mercy. I was dead in my sins, but I have been redeemed and set free.
Ephesians 2:1, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. . .”
Now I have a new identity. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”-Galatians 2:20
I am a new creation, born again, now a servant of Christ. “For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” -Romans 6:19
I know my identity. I am a daughter of my Lord and Savior. By saving me from inevitable eternal suffering, Jesus has determined my identity.
What can I do about this identity? I will glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
A Christian brother said something significant today. He said, “People wonder why I’m so happy, and I want to tell them why.”
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalm 16:11
Posted by the traveler at 6:54 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
"The living Constitution, which has performed innumerable feats of jurisprudential prestidigitation, has accomplished a miraculous new trick during the national debate over NSA surveillance. It faked its own death." -Jonah Goldberg
Goldberg's column "The U.S. Constitution: Dead or Alive" talks about the hypocrisy of the left as they twist the meaning of the Constitution to suit their own agenda.
Posted by the traveler at 8:42 PM
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
"Waiting to Go Home" What does it mean? Why did I choose that phrase as my site name? Why is this important? I will endeavor to answer these questions in this post.
"Waiting to Go Home" means that I, along with other Christians, am waiting to go to my true home—heaven. I chose this phrase as my site name because it reminds me of why I am here on earth. The true and catechismal answer: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Here on earth I have the responsibility to do just that, but I look forward to a greater, better, most fulfilling life in heaven. "Waiting to Go Home" reflects the idea that I have not yet arrived at home. I am waiting to ascend to my true home.
Why is this idea—waiting to go home—important? I will strive to answer this question in three parts.
This idea is important because: it gives me a reason to hope; it causes me to live my life in such a way as to prepare for heaven; and it causes me to look forward to eternal life with Jesus Christ. These three, the culmination, bring me great joy.
Reason to Hope
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” -1 Peter 3:15
As a Christian, I am responsible for being able to explain why I hope. God has promised that His children, myself among many, will sit in heaven with Jesus. Those who endure will “receive the crown of life.”
I hope because I believe what God has told me: that He will save me from my sins and grant me eternal life in heaven. Without the idea of an afterlife, life is hopeless. I believe that is the reason why so many religions include the aspect of an afterlife. However, only through Jesus Christ will someone enter into the kingdom of heaven.
When this life seems dark, sinful, and ugly, I can look forward, with joyful hope, to the next life in the presence of God.
Preparing for Heaven
With the knowledge that I do in fact have hope and that this life on earth is temporary, my chief goal lies in preparing myself for heaven. Although salvation is by grace alone, Paul states in Romans 6:15, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” Although I long for heaven, I must live my life for God here on earth.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19
While here on earth, I strive to lay up for myself treasures in heaven, obeying God and producing fruit.
Eternal Life with Jesus Christ
The ultimate prize, the ultimate reason why I am waiting eagerly to go home, is my anticipation of life in heaven with Jesus Christ. In a previous post I spoke of my excitement about spending eternity with my best friend, Jesus.
Not only has Jesus taken away my sins, but He also gives me daily joy with the beauty of creation, and the joys of life. There is beautiful imagery in the Bible about what heaven will be like, a place so wonderful we cannot fathom it. Not only will heaven be wonderful, but I’ll be basking in God’s eternal love.
Kingdom of Heaven
Paul constantly speaks of the ‘hope within us,’ because it is the reason to stay alive. It is the reason to live well, the reason to do hard things, the reason to hope for heaven. I can hope because I know that my God has forgiven my sins and will mercifully bring me into heaven when my time on earth is through.
I look forward to heaven with great anticipation, with intense joy, because I will be spending eternity with my Lord and Savior. He is the Alpha and Omega. He loves me unconditionally and like no other.
“Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:8
I’m still waiting---waiting to go home.
Posted by the traveler at 8:16 PM
Saturday, February 18, 2006
With less than two years until the next presidential election, I hopefully look around for new leaders. If Bush wasn’t on his second term, he’d be the definite candidate.
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, hasn’t expressed interest in running even though she could make a good candidate running against Hillary Clinton. America’s Vice President, Dick Cheney, doesn’t seem like a strong enough leader.
The big question: Who is out there? In his column “Backing Away from Bush,” Robert Novak wondered if Senator Bill Frist might be eyeing the 2008 presidential race.
Senator Bill Frist came to my attention about a year ago when I wrote a paper about medical malpractice in America. Frist is a proponent of the medical health court idea.
In light of what I’ve learned, and the fact that Frist is the Senate Majority Leader, I’m going to be starting a “Frist Watch” to keep tabs on Senator Frist’s activities, voting record, and public statements. Check my sidebar for links to learn more about Senator Frist.
First and foremost, Bill Frist is an M.D., but also the 54th senator of Tennessee. “On November 7, 2000, Bill Frist was elected to a second term in the United States Senate by the largest vote total ever received by a candidate for statewide election in the history of Tennessee.”-from Frist's official website.
2000-elected chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee
2001-one of two Congressional representatives to the United Nations General Assembly
2002-elected Majority Leader of US Senate
Currently serves on these committees: Finance; Rules; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)
Has served on these committees: Foreign Relations, Budget, Banking, Commerce, and Small Business
Frist is married to Karyn and they have three sons. The Frists are members of the National Presbyterian Church.
Coming soon: Senator Bill Frist on America’s Issues
Posted by the traveler at 9:56 AM
Saturday, February 11, 2006
This headline caught my attention this morning.
The New York Daily News published an article titled, "Brownie's Revenge." Apparently, the recently fired FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) boss, Michael Brown, wants the last word. In the article, Brown claims that the White House had advance warning of the Katrina disaster.
" 'For them to now claim that we didn't have awareness of it, I think, is just
baloney,' Brown told the Senate Homeland Security Committee."
Ironically, Brown himself bungled the handling of the disaster. Michelle Malkin wrote about his mishaps during Katrina, including not preparing for the severity of the disaster and misrepresenting the success of relief efforts.
"Brownie's Revenge" also said, "Two Department of Homeland Security officials testified that numerous conflicting reports came in about levee breaches and that Brown was withholding information."
Brown's words yesterday seem to be a cheap shot at the Bush administration, a last minute attempt to redeem his own failures.
A Societal Drift
In regards to Brown attempting to shift blame, I am beginning to see a common link. Coretta Scott King's funeral should have been a day to respect and honor, but turned into a pulpit where the Democrats threw out several cheap shots at Bush. Not only am I disgusted at this display of childishness, but I now have an even greater respect for Bush, who acted like a gentlemen and a real man.
What I see, the common link, is a lack of willingness to take responsibility. Brown doesn't want to take responsibility for his own mistakes. The Democrats want to blame Bush and his administration for every bad or uncomfortable thing that happens in America.
The feminists fight for abortion to avoid taking responsibility for immoral behavior. Lawsuits such as blaming McDonalds for a weight problem drive licensing and insurance fees up, while relieving the public of responsibility.
It takes humility to be willing to accept blame for a mistake and face the consequences. It takes real men and women to accept responsibility for their actions.
Posted by the traveler at 10:15 AM
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The other night I randomly opened my Bible and read John 14:19-31. It's long, but certain passages just jumped out at me. Even though I've read the Bible through more than once, these verses seemed new to me.
"A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also."-John 14:19
For a long time now I've tried to verbalize this idea in my head--that I am eternally grateful to God simply for creating me. "Because I live, you live also." Thank you for living, God. Thank you for being there. Not only am I thankful that my sins have been forgiven, or that I will spend eternity in heaven, but also I am thankful to God for being God.
"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' "-John 14:28
Jesus is coming back. That's a promise. I should not be afraid because Jesus has promised he won't leave me here, he'll be back.
"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name."-Psalm 63:3-4
Posted by the traveler at 8:36 PM
Sunday, February 05, 2006
In his State of the Union address, President Bush said, "“Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well.”
Besides being a patriotic call to courage, this also has meaning for the Christian.
"We will show that courage and we will finish well."
I find two significant points in this sentence. First, to show courage is to have something hard to do. "Do Hard Things" is The Rebelution's slogan. We must have courage to do hard things. It isn't easy to lead a Christian life. The world constantly tries to break down our defenses and tempt us down the wrong path.
Second, we must finish our race well. Hebrews 12:1, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
The apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
We must strive to "finish well," so that when we have finished the race we will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Posted by the traveler at 10:31 AM