Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lookie what came in the mail today! :) It's not even available on Amazon yet. I almost never buy paper books since getting my Kindle, but I couldn't turn down a copy signed by the author!

Lookie what came in the mail today! Dr. White's new book!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two deaths, and trouble on the home front

The guy living in his van in the parking lot (Mike) died this morning. Someone found him and called 911, but they couldn't save him. The van is already gone. I guess the city towed it.

And then the Campingite who killed himself. Why oh why? I found out he wasn't married, but he leaves behind literally a dozen brothers and sisters, all raised on Camping's teachings.

On the home front, the HOA is claiming that Stanley Steamer broke the gate, and Stanley Steamer claims the maintenance guy let them in the gate and they did nothing. The gate IS broken, but I have no way of knowing when that happened.

Trying to get ahold of the maintenance guy, but he's unreachable and no one will give me his number because he's on the board and board member's phone numbers are not available. We don't know his unit number either.

Stanley Steamer is coming out tomorrow to work on my rug again and they said they would send a manager with the truck to talk to me. It boils down to he said-she said. Somebody is lying, but I don't know who, so the HOA will probably take up the case and assess us to pay so they don't have to pay.

I'm getting my camera and recording whatever happens tomorrow. :-p Pray for me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 – An Adventure in Faith

Where do I even start? 2011 has been a really rough year, stress at work and stress at home. I had no place to escape.

I could laugh at my stupidity when I got poison oak in January from hiking unprepared and encountering mud that forced Brad and I into the bushes. I suffered for a couple of weeks, then finally went to the doctor and got a Cortisone shot and a Prednisone prescription, which made me feel 90% better and kept me from wanting to crawl out of my skin. That was January and I can laugh at myself now.

Then, one Saturday morning in late February as Brad and I were getting ready for church, I received a call from my sister. She said Dad had a heart attack on Friday night, was in a coma, and dying. I hurriedly bought airlines tickets while Brad arranged for time off for me. I flew out Monday morning and Dad died that Wednesday, March 2.

In mid-March I bought an iPhone (had to wait for my current contract to run out). I am still in love with it!

On March 27 I completed my first (and so far only) half marathon! I covered 13.1 miles in 3:08:45, even though I am quite overweight and had to walk a lot. It was hard as heck, and I can’t wait for next year.

In May was the annual 12k Bay to Breakers run. A fun race as always and a badly needed break with all the stress this year.

May was also supposed to be the end of the world (May 21 per Harold Camping). I work at Family Radio. I knew I felt broken over what I saw being taught, but I didn’t know how broken. I tried to kill myself via an overdose of Xanax in the early morning hours of May 18. Brad didn’t know, but when I was acting weird later that day he called 911. The hospital checked me over, then sent me on John George, the local psych hospital. I was there for two days, finally being released Friday afternoon (May 20). I was off work the entire next week and burned through all but four hours of my sick time.

The May 21 prediction didn’t come true of course, and since Camping had two dates in mind (the May 21 rapture and October 21 end of the world), he just moved all events to October 21. By the time the second date rolled around, even Family Radio no longer believed their own hype.

I think it was June when my sister April suggested I use the money Dad left to us to buy a condo or townhouse in my area. Brad and I went looking and found the perfect condo on only our second weekend of searching. Escrow didn’t close until the following month, and we had to deal with the leak in the bathroom ceiling before we could lay carpet, and we had to lay carpet before we could move in. We finally moved toward the end of July and the HOA was kind enough not to charge us for that month.

In September I went back for a visit at my old church, which I left 12 years ago. It was good to see everybody.

On October 18 I finished the project I has started on January 1 - reading the Bible in chronological order. It was my third time through and very worthwhile.

October is also the month we got the bathroom ceiling fixed. It has been partially torn down before we moved in, and it took until October before I hired someone and arranged for the time off work.

It’s been a very long year.

I have wondered how I have made it through this year with my faith intact. There have certainly been times when I have railed against God and said all sorts of horrible things that I didn’t really mean (I hate You, I want You out of my life, etc.). He never abandoned me, and is big enough to take my anger and give me love in return. That is grace.

My second night in the hospital I couldn’t sleep (couldn’t sleep more than 3-4 hours a night for a week afterward either), and I laid in my hospital bed unable to pray much more than “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.” At that time I didn’t know if He would answer my prayer or not, but I knew He heard me. In the end, He not only gave me the mercy I pleaded for, but gave me grace in the unexpected gift from my sister of two days at a spa in the wine country.

As I lay in that bed, God reminded me of Scriptures, and He reminded me of an article I read saying to thank God for something you have never thanked Him for before. What better place than a psych hospital to practice praise? So I thanked Him for the clothes I was wearing (even though they were not my own), and bed I slept in (even though it wasn’t mine), the food I ate (even though it tasted terrible), and the roof over my head (even though it was the roof of my prison).

I know exactly what God has been doing this year. He’s telling me it’s time to get serious and grow up. Get serious in prayer and Bible study. Understand that He is good no matter what my circumstances are. That’s one thing that I finally got through my thick skull – God is good even when life is bad. My circumstances do not change His essential nature. How many years have I wasted getting angry at Him for every bad thing that happens? My entire Christian walk – too many years. No more. I will praise Him even when the storm surrounds me. He is worthy of praise simply because He is my Creator. He is the Potter; I am the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6), the work of His hands (Isaiah 19:25).

It was December one year ago when a John Piper sermon challenged me to get serious about my faith. The first 2 ½ months were great – then the shit hit the fan, and it’s been a wild ride since then. But if He has seen me through everything so far, He will see me through whatever lies ahead. I have to say, the last year has been an adventure of faith, and if I have learned anything, I have learned that God is faithful when we are weak. He has enough faith for both of us and holds me up even when I doubt. He is the only one who has been able to tame my rebel heart and get me to rest quietly in His love. O, how peaceful those moments are!

This year has been a test of my faith. Dad’s death sent me into a spiritual tailspin, though truth be told, most of the questions I asked were questions I would have asked whether I was Calvinist or Arminian – they were human questions about God’s justice in sending anyone to hell, not questions of human choice or God’s choice. It was God who got me through, patiently helping me to ask the right questions so that I could discover the right answers. I didn’t really expect Him to give me answers, and am humbled that the God of the universe would work with me one-on-one to get me through Dad’s death and answer my questions.

Thank You for seeing me through all the trials this last year, God. Thank You for making me get serious about my faith right before my life went into a tailspin. Thank You for hearing me when I knew I didn’t deserve it. I will never understand why Your name is so important, but I am thankful that Your zeal for Your name and Your glory has made me an object of mercy whom You will never give up on. Yours is a love that I do not deserve and will never fully understand. Thank You for YOU.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The hospital bill from May...

Lovely. The hospital had no clue where I lived. The final billing notice from September arrived TODAY, and it's already in collections. Everything on the bill was wrong - my name, my address, my phone number - everything. They got my birth date right and that was it. This is from my short time in the ER in May.

The hospital was willing to talk to me, but the collections agency told me to talk to an answering machine. The total for my few hours in the emergency room - $3100! I never got the ambulance bill - that's probably also in collections, and God only know what else.

Things just keep getting worse. Can we please just get to 2012 already? This year has been a lost cause.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book review - True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In

I'm not sure if the title "True Story" fits for a novel. But a lady at church gave this book to me and wanted me to read it. I looked at the back cover and saw it was endorsed by Brian McLaren; then I looked at the front cover and saw it was endorsed by Rick Warren. I set my expectations accordingly. I found the book little more fun that a trip to the dentist, but at least the dentist benefits me at the end.

The "faith" in this book is just the social gospel dressed in new clothes with a new diagram explanation.

First, the pastor character is flat and plastic. No one is that stupid. And his about-face at the end of the book is unbelievable. In fact, the entire end is unbelievable. If you are going to tell me a story, please make it plausible.

Now for a few comments about the text of the book.

(pg. 38)
"He (Caleb, the main character) felt like he'd roamed through a dense, overgrown jungle and finally found a wide path; he didn't know where it would end up, but at least it went somewhere."

Didn't Jesus have something to say about the wide road? Oh yes - Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:24.

(pg. 68)
"'Before the world began, the Designer existed,' Caleb said. 'Like a loving artist, he created the world out of love, with love, to show love.'"

Really? Is this what the Bible says? See Isaiah 43:7 and then do a Bible search on the word "glory." Then decide for yourself whether love was the motivating factor behind creation, or if the world was created for the glory of God.

(pg. 88)
"He (God) won't ever force us to do something, but he'll try to win us over and hope that we love him back. He won't step on our free will or he would be more manipulative and less loving."

Tell that to Jonah. Go ahead and read that book (it's short) and then tell me how much God respects our free will.

(pg. 100)
"(The confusion of languages at Babel) wasn't a curse. It was helping them along to their calling (to multiply and fill the earth)."

The story is in Genesis 11:1-9. Verse 6 shows that what God did was out of judgment, not love. He wasn't helping them along to their calling. They were exalting themselves and rebelling against God, and He put a stop to it. Has the author ever read the biblical story?

Further on down the same page, the book says "We'll speak different languages (in heaven), but understand each other perfectly."

It's a nice thought, but where is this stated in the Bible?

(pg. 134)
The author admit that there is more than one view on atonement, but presents only one, the ransom theory, where God has to trick Satan into taking Jesus in place of humankind. Other theories are named on the next page, and only in passing. The subject never comes up again so we are left with only the one view that's explained.

The problems with the ransom theory are twofold. First, if Satan takes Jesus and releases humankind, then all humanity must be saved because Jesus died for every single person. But the Bible is clear that not everyone will be saved.

Two, since when does Satan have so much power that God has to trick him? That is a weak view of God and makes him impotent, subject to Satan's power. The author presents this as a "simple" view, but it's a view in which God is lucky because Satan fell for His ploy. This is not the God of the Bible!

(pg. 147)
"All evil and its consequences died with Jesus on the cross."

Then why do Christians who sin still suffer the consequences of that sin? We are released from hell; that does not mean that we do not suffer temporal consequences.

Further on down the page, the author likens sin to a disease, and Jesus as the antidote. He immunizes us. The Bible paints a far different picture - we are not merely sick; we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5 and Colossians 2:13).

(pg. 196)
"Christians...must insist that interacting and growing with God in everyday life has the same if not more value (than the afterlife)."

Really? So heaven and hell matter less that this temporal life? This life is more important than where someone spends eternity?

(pg. 217)
"The followers of Jesus have a track record of leaving behind the kind of good that lasts."

Since that's all this book is about, and the followers of Jesus have been doing this for centuries through reading the Bible, then why do we need this book?

I will also point out that the author's idea of the Sinner's Prayer is on this page.

(pg. 221)
This is the last and probably worst error of the book.

"But then one older woman spoke up. 'I like this. I don't have to make my friends feel like sinners to share the gospel with them. This is something I can share with my neighbors.'"

So we are going to fail to tell people the truth - that we are all sinners - and somehow still make them feel that the gospel is good news? How is good news good if we don't first share the bad news?

Why do you need Jesus to preach the social gospel of this book? In the end, I see no need of Jesus to live out the "faith" presented here. It's the same old social gospel that gives little more than a hat tip to Jesus. It's the same old social gospel that is more concerned with temporal things than eternal things.

This book is a serious waste of time and, honestly, one of the worst books I have ever read in my life (yes, really - I do not usually waste my time reading bad books when there are so many good ones. Please don't waste your time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

I'm sure by now everyone has heard about his death. Word travels quickly on the internet. I heard about it on Facebook. I just wanted to share a couple of links - a well-written blog post and a news story tracing Jobs' life. I have used Apple computers since I bought my first one in college. I currently have a MacBook Pro and an iPhone.

Steve Job's death blog post

ABC News story

Go to www.apple.com. Then click on the front page graphic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Blessings of the Church

Trying to pray and I kept bursting into tears, and not just over Family Radio. Going back to my old church Sunday just reminded me of how much God used them to help and bless me during the 1-2 years I was there. I understand now why He dragged me into that church kicking and screaming and how they helped lay the foundation of Jesus Christ in my life that I still have today. "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" -1 Corinthians 3:11 (NASB). That is firm bedrock.

They discipled me (a huge help to a baby Christian), helped me when I had no money for groceries, and gave me worship, fellowship, and good teaching week after week. I came to believe in the Bible as God's inerrant and infallible word while I was there. All this is a huge blessing I could never repay. They were so good to me, and God was so good to use them. I broke down in tears.

Then I thought of my current church and all the good they have done in the 12 years I have been there. They have seen me through some pretty dark times, and have stood by me through it all. They even seem to like me, even if I can't fathom that. Yesterday I spent a restful Sabbath in worship and fellowship, ending with a movie night. Over the years I have been there they have been so good to me, and God has used them to show me His goodness. I broke down in tears again - I have received so many undeserved gifts. I can't get through a single day without sinning, yet over and over God has blessed me. How can I do anything other than cry?

If you've read this far, great. Because here's the other thing that I kept thinking of all weekend - all the Campingites (former or current) who are missing out on this great blessing! Living in community is not always easy, but it is something God calls every Christian to, and He uses it to bless us in ways we will never experience as long ranger Christians.

Please, my Campingite friends, don't miss out on this great blessing that God wants to give you - His church! And thank You God for all the blessings You have used both these churches to bestow. You are good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I Better?

I listened to the August 18 "Radio Free Geneva" program today, reviewing Micah Coate's new book, "A Cultish Side of Calvinism" (shouldn't that be "Cultic"?).

"White believes the act of receiving God's grace is a type of work that takes away from the sovereignty of God." (Micah Coate)

Dr. White replies: "No, what I've always said is - if that is not the result of the work of God's grace, if it is an autonomous free act outside of God's decree, then God can attempt to save all He wants. It's always up to man. And once you take that position, in eternity to come, those standing around the throne will always have something to boast about. Not a work, but there was something better about me. I was more sensitive, I was more spiritual. I'm the one that allowed the grace of God to succeed in my life. And those people who didn't - well, they just weren't as good as me."

And I have to be honest, it's this that bothered me from the very beginning. I realized this logical conclusion 15 years ago. I just blocked it out and tried not to think about it too much.

I believed that God drew all people (yes, this contradicts John 6:44, where all those who are drawn are raised up to eternal life). If you responded to that drawing, He would draw you more, and so on until you were saved. I took "all" to refer to every single person on earth, never allowing for the nuances of meaning in John's writing.

What I believed made no sense in the context of the whole of Scripture, and I never bothered to look at the contexts of the passages. I had to rush through passages that seemed to contradict what I believed - Romans 9 was a big one, but also parts of John 6, and many other verses scattered throughout Scripture. I didn't want to think about it because that was a God I could not worship. I was afraid of losing my faith if I explored it.

It was only last year that I came to the point of being able to accept it, and that only after a true work of God in my heart (and I am so grateful). I can now see what I believed for what it is - there is something better about me than someone who does not respond to the same drawing given to me. And I do not see that as a God-honoring position. I see that as taking some of the glory due to God unto myself. He says He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11), and trust me, when I have tried to take some of that glory, it has not ended well for me.

The whole point of Calvinism is to give all the glory to God and take none for myself. There was nothing more spiritually sensitive about me that was not given to me. I have been more sensitive since I was little, but do I suppose that is something I did? Or was it a gift of God that I can now look back and see His hand on my life, guiding me, since I was a little child? That is why, in my flesh, I searched for Him in all the wrong places. I knew He was there, but rejected the one way to Him through Jesus. And so I got involved in all sorts of silliness, looking for that fulfillment everywhere but the one place it could be found.

He is the one who broke through. He is the one who revealed Himself to me, turning my world upside down and pursuing me relentlessly until I was too worn out to fight any more. He is the one who saved me, with no help from me. That is a God I can worship because that is a God in control of this world. That is a God who glorifies Himself through the outworking of all His attributes - His mercy as well as His justice, His grace as well as His wrath. This is the fullness of God that shines through both testaments. If I am a Calvinist it is simply because the Bible constrains me to be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soli Deo Gloria

I posted a quote: "God saves some because He is merciful. God damns others because He is just." ~Philip Stallings

K. said: "(J)ust hope you're one of the lucky ones who get mercy. If you are, you can rejoice."

I replied: "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice."

This is not an abstract concept to me. Last year, yes, it was. It was a fun intellectual exercise. I've been very upfront about that. But all that changed this year. When Dad died, everything changed. Abstract concepts became all too real. I was left to try to fit my new theology into a world of pain and sin and suffering and death and hell. I reeled as a drunk man trying to find my way through the maze I was confronted with. I am forever grateful to the people God used who helped me through by answering my questions

So when I say "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice," I mean it. If my Dad died unsaved (and he probably did), then God had His purpose in not saving him, a purpose that will work to His glory.

If God judges Family Radio for her sin instead of saving us through mercy, He will not only be totally right in doing so, but He will derive greater glory from judgment than from mercy. I may not see all the ways that will happen, but it will. Everything - EVERYTHING - will work for the greater glory of God.

I pray for mercy for FR. God uses means to accomplish His ends, and prayer is one of those means. It is a privilege to be involved in God's work through prayer.

I say all this as I see judgment fall against FR. I say that as my job of 14 years is in jeopardy. God will be glorified in anything and everything that happens at FR. I rejoice in His receiving glory, even if the outcome for myself is not so good. His glory matters much more than my momentary happiness. My joy is in Him, and seeing glory being brought to Him.

So yeah, this Calvinism stuff isn't theoretical to me anymore. My Dad is dead, my job of a decade and a half could be gone in a moment. I am living this stuff, and I can still say, "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice." My joy is founded in His glory, not on changeable things of the world. Soli Deo gloria - all glory really does go to Him.

God's Foreknowledge

You know how it feels when something you never quite got suddenly "clicks." Yeah, that feeling. :)

I get it! I finally REALLY "get" it! I have wondered about the foreknowledge of God being active or passive. Calvinist says it's active (it is an active verb); Arminians say it's passive. Then I read in my book, The Sovereign Grace of God, "God's 'knowing' of us is a personal thing." I thought back to Adam "knowing" Eve. That is the way that God "knows" me - intimately! I get it! I think I finally understand those "foreknowledge" verses! He fore-knows us! Thank You God! It finally "clicked."

I've read the arguments before - it's covered in The Potter's Freedom - but last night it finally "clicked" in my mind to where I can see it. "God's knowing us is a personal thing." That sentence did it. Having the argument brought down to a personal level helped me to see. He fore-knew me, intimately fore-knew me. That helps me see Romans 8:28 in a new light. :)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Quick update on condo

I got a call this afternoon from our real estate agent saying that we should close on the condo tomorrow! The paperwork will be signed and it will be official! Hopefully we can get the key tomorrow. :) I will officially own my first home!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Can I Scream Now?

I didn't want to write anything until things worked out, but what can I say? Everyday is a new adventure, and not usually a good one.

We are still in the process of buying the condo. I have no idea when escrow will close so we can lay the carpet and everything. We are now on the other end of a long holiday weekend and still nothing has been done. I seriously want to bang my head against a wall.

The agent will not let us lay carpet or have electrical work done until escrow closes. She may also hold out for the money for the furniture, but I don't know yet. I only know that we should have had the keys last week and instead everything is crazy because the bank is being stupid.

I went to my ING account to pay for the condo (a joint account with my sister set up for this purpose using the money Dad left when he died). I found I cannot wire money. What kind of bank doesn't allow that? Red flag #1. I send two checks because checks have a max amount and the condo is more than the max of one check. So I overnight two checks. It takes two days for the checks to arrive. Red flag #2. Then I find out these are NOT cashier's checks, just regular checks! What crazy ass bank sends regular checks to buy a house? Red flag #3. Do not ever bank with ING!

Needless to say, regular checks take forever to clear. The money was gone from the account on Friday, but the title company still doesn't have confirmation.

So I call the real estate agent and ask her if we can install carpet and have the electrical done while we are waiting for everything to clear. She says no, and she has the keys. So we can't even begin to do anything until she decides we can have the keys!

Meanwhile, my computer died again and Brad's watch. The keyboard is broken and simply won't. I can do everything else, but not type. I do not know if the heat fried it or Brad sweated all over it and fried it. Either way, it's fried.

So today I suddenly realize that maybe just a new keyboard will make my current computer accessible. I was in San Francisco so I stopped at the Apple store and bought a new keyboard. I'll try it out tonight when I get home.

As of yesterday, I still couldn't cash Dad's life insurance check, but I went ahead and bought a new tricked out Mac computer. I'm going all out this time because I can with the life insurance money. April called me today and said to go ahead and cash the reduced check. Evidently, Dad owed them money, and they will take their pound of flesh from his heirs if need be. So I get less, but still a good amount, and plenty to spare for a new computer.

Then Discover Card calls me today. They think the huge amount might be fraud and had declined the transaction. They cleared the transaction, but Apple has to process it again. So I have to call Apple and they put it through for me. What a headache!

Meanwhile, I was lucky to see the call from Discover because I had accidentally turned my ringer off. Brad figured it out and when I checked, sure enough, I had accidentally turned it off.

So...recap. We still don't have the condo or any of the work that has to be done before we can move in. :-p My computer is dead long before it's time. Whether or not Brad did it, it has always broken on his watch. He is not touching the new one. I have a new, separate keyboard that I hope will give me control of the computer again. Discover wouldn't let me buy a new computer until I talked to them and then called Apple.

It's been nothing but one headache after another and I want to SCREAM!

+++++

This year has been a year of learning to trust in God. I know that He is just making me live out the radical theological changes that took place last year. He is drawing me close, and making me finally grow up. I am finally beginning to learn that God is worthy of praise and glory whether or not my computer works, no matter who dies, no matter how much the bank holds up my ability to buy the condo. His worth is not dependent on any external circumstance!

And I am now beginning to see this as a good thing.

For the longest time I have allowed myself to slip and fall in my Christian walk every time external circumstances turn against me. If things don't go my way, I blame God. I am finally beginning to truly "get" the fact that God's worthiness does not rise or fall with what happens in my life. God's worthiness is based in who He is, not what He does. This is a big discovery for me! It's something I've always known, but only on an intellectual level. Now it is becoming a real knowing on a heart level.

I'm falling in love with Him again, unbidden as always. In the words of the wise owl from the Bambi movie, I am twitterpated. I am getting another glimpse of Him as He truly is, and praise is the only possible response to that. He is God. He is sovereign. He is good. I love Him and I want to follow Him with all my heart and soul.