Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's All My Fault

So moral evil does exist, at least at the macro level. Anyone who would deny the reality of evil at the heart of Nazism, the Salem Witch Trials, the 9/11 attacks or the Killing Fields of Cambodia is naive at best. I don't doubt that the participants, for the most part, thought they were doing the right thing in these incidences. But they were unarguably wrong: what they did was evil.

But what, exactly, is this moral evil that differs from natural evil? Moral evil is, as this glossary defines it, sin. Moral evil is doing what we ought not do; turning away from God and doing our own thing for our own reasons.

As Jonathan Edwards asks, "for what is moral evil, if not the perversion of that which is naturally good?" Indeed. Moral evil is quite simply sin. Which causes quite a conundrum. We can all see the moral evil of Hitler. What we often do not see is the moral evil in our own lives. If we accept that Hitler was morally evil, then we must also accept that we are morally evil.

Hard to accept? Moral evil is sin, and Hitler committed moral evil - ergo sin. But all of us have sinned, and all of us will sin. To the extent that we have sinned, we are in the same boat as everyone's default standard of evil. And notice that God does not differentiate between us and him. How so? We have all earned the exact same wages. God doesn't say the wages of some sin is death, and some sins is a stern talking-to. The wages of all sin - any sin - is death. Eating the wrong fruit was sufficient disobedience to curse the world (hence natural evil) and bring death to a creation that was very good. All of us have done much worse than that in terms of volume if not level of malice. Evil is evil is evil - all sin is evil, and all of us have committed acts of evil. I certainly have.

We like to compare ourselves to others, and thing we're not so bad. In real life, I'm a pretty decent guy. I don't know anyone who thinks I'm an evil person; even people with whom I disagree tend to at least act like I'm likable, if misguided. But the truth is that my nature, before God gave me the gift of redemption, was pure evil. Not the evil of Hitler, but the evil of Ron. Yeah, I'm a nicer guy. I do less malicious and heinous things. But even my relatively small sins (though compared with some people, I am a large sinner) are enough to bring about suffering.

So when we ask why suffering exists, it's because we exist and have the free will to sin - and use that free will to sin. We can't blame natural evil on God; it's here because we choose moral evil. If Hitler was evil, so are we. Maybe not to the same extent, but evil enough to curse the world. We can't blame others without taking responsibility ourselves.

That's not the end of it, of course. Though moral evil is real, and it is widespread, it is not all there is. Goodness exists, and we can be redeemed despite our own evil ways. A God who didn't love us wouldn't have given us free will, or having given us free will would have left us to our sin. Our loving God gave us a way back - through His Son.

Moral evil exists. It is everywhere. But it is ultimately going to end. It may not be much comfort now, for some, when suffering seems unbearable. But as real as evil is, and as real as is the suffering evil causes, goodness will ultimately win out. That is the thought that keeps me going when things seem bad. Hard yes. But it's the truth.

God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 9/29 Edition

Christian Carnival is up at In the Spirit of Grace. Lots of good entries, I'm sure, though I haven't yet read them (I know, slacker.) The carnival is organized around a triune mind/body/spirit theme that looks good. Let me know if you find anything particularly interesting.

Interesting article on a topic I touched on a while back: biblical illiteracy. This time the POV is cultural, but the point is well made. Our culture owes much to scripture, even for those who don't believe it is true. (HT: LaShawn Barber.) Could it be things like this that contribute to a lack of biblical knowledge in this country?

Shermblog hopefully dispels the nonsense that global warming is causing more/more powerful hurricanes.

I've always found Iowa's locker room issue to be amusing. I never saw it, though, the way some new critics do though. Unfortunately, the Gophers play at Iowa, so if there's anything to this "pink" thing, I hope the complaint leads to something else being on the visitor's locker room walls come November 19.

Happy blog-iversary to Cross Blogging, who has a new symposium this week: Government Insurance.

May not have time to blog tomorrow (though maybe I will?) so am posting this tonight just in case. Regardless of whether I'm here tomorrow,

God bless!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Moral Evil...Does it Really Exist?

Yesterday I made a rough transition from natural to moral evil. Today I'd like to continue that thought with a question on whether moral evil really exists.

This seems an odd question. Most of us use the term evil at various times, and at least nominally accept the existence of moral evil. It seems that the existence of moral evil isn't disputed; what's in dispute is how to define moral evil. However, there is a large portion of the population who hold to a moral philosophy called relativism. Adherents of this philosophy cannot, logically, believe in objective evil since that is in direct opposition to relativism. Right and wrong, morally speaking, are matters of preference which cannot be judged. Since "evil" is a morally judgmental term, it doesn't fit the relativistic paradigm.

Likewise, there is a set of people who preach tolerance and non-judgmentalism. This crowd, for example, chided (at best) President Bush for his axis of evil speech of a few years back. "We can't call people evil" they say, for no reason other than to pay homage to tolerance. This, too, an offshoot of relativism cannot logically agree that objective evil exists.

These people, quite frankly, are in denial. Evil does exist, and is very, very real. Scripture makes this clear. In the story of the fall of man, God points out that man knows good and evil. We couldn't know what doesn't exist. From the very beginning of creation, evil has existed.

But we know this too because we live in the real world. If we don't believe scripture, we should very well believe reality. Hitler is the prime example, but hardly the only one, that proves moral evil is commonplace. The Salem Witch trials and the Inquisition are incidences related to Christians. The killing fields of Cambodia and much of Soviet Union history are atheistic examples. 9/11 and Al Qaeda do acts of evil in the name of another religion. Evil is all around us and comes from any movement or human-created belief system. Yet these are large, systematic examples of evil; those are obvious, and we don't need to worry too much about them. After all, we can deal with those and the rest of us - those who aren't evil - can get along in life peacably.

There are two problems with this line of reasoning. The first is that we can deal with evil on a large scale. Some people refuse to deal with evil and instead insist we can negotiate with evildoers, or they look the other way and say "nothing to see here." The second is that large-scale evil isn't the only evil with which we need to deal. Without addressing the more insidious, and less obvious form, we will never live peacably, even if we somehow rid the planet of macro-evil events.

That's the subject of the next post, which will get into a definition of what evil really is.

God bless!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bad to the Bone

Wow. Lose your dsl modem for a week (actually, I knew where it was, it just didn't work) and your posting frequency drops quite rapidly. Plz pray the new one holds up:)

A mere 10 days ago, I posted on natural evil and God's sovereignty. Since then we've seen more of that in Hurricane Rita, and some local bad weather here (not to mention an earthquake that thankfully left Alice et al okay. And Alice, please put a moratorium on quakes this fall as we're planning to head to CA.) All of these affected people in the impacted regions. Yet I will not say (though it is possible) that these were directed at certain people or certain sins. Natural evil "happens" because we live in a fallen world, and because God has purposes in disaster and suffering that we cannot fathom - though we often times judge as unfair with our imperfect and limited knowledge.

When I posted last, I said that God is sovereign over the disasters that strike, the suffering we endure. But this does not leave us without culpability in the manner. Frankly, disaster and pain would not exist if we had not sinned. As a species and as individuals, we have sinned. This affects nature, and leaves us with a world struggling to be redeemed; in the meantime, we have disasters.

But this sin manifests itself in other ways, too, and results in a different kind of evil: moral evil. This is pure sin, and for this type of evil we are 100% to blame. All that God created was very good. What we have created is a litany of problems. In my next post or two, I'll be examining a few questions about moral evil. Who is rightly called evil and who is not? What does our differntiation of different levels of moral evil (i.e. lying vs. murdering) have to do with reality? Does moral evil even really exist? I'll probably lead with that last question, since the first two assume it does.

If you have other questions about moral evil, post 'em in the comments or email me. No promises I can answer them; the problems of pain and evil have been around a lot longer than I have, and much smarter folks than I have failed to provide answers that satisfy everyone. But I'll at least give it a try.

God bless!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 9/22 Edition

Apologies for the lack of posting this week. Would've been here last night, but nasty weather came through. Monday and Tuesday were focused on studying for (and passing, PTL) my PMP exam. I'm now PMI certified, as well as certifiable, in my profession.

Christian Carnival is up at Digitus, Finger & Co. Early favorites include:


Hip-hip-hooray for Catez who is celebrating the two-year anniversary of Allthings2All. May God bless the next two years too!

Due to the aforementioned storms, and the local stations' interruption of programming to cover the weather, my VCR (I know, I need TIVO) programming didn't succeed in getting me the first 20 minutes of Lost last night. So, please, don't tell me what happened (I'm trying to find it.) In the meantime, I'm having to settle for blog quizzes.

I'm 2-0 in the Blogger Football League, with a game this week against another 2-0'er, Kung Fu Mamma's Boys. I jettisoned a Viking player this week, so I may have a chance to improve my results. However, KFMB leads the league in points, so I may have a long weekend. (BTW, go Gophers!)

KFMB is run by Bill Wallo, who has this good post on Battlestar Galactica's insights into humanity at his blog. I love the show for the psychology and sociology more than the spaceships. Good read.

Running out of space (says he of the verbosity issue), so more highlights in flyby fashion: Good science blog, currently focusing on Katrina. Don't forget about the Carnival of Life and Cross Blogging Symposiums. EO announces WORLD Magazine's "WORLD's Best Blogger" contest.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Who's to Blame for Natural Evil?

As I mentioned Wednesday, God is behind natural disasters as He is sovereign. However, natural disasters are here because of the sin of humanity; we cursed nature through disobedience, and have to live with the consequences. I also mentioned that this doesn't mean that specific instances of such natural evil are judgment on a particular person or place. We are all sinners in need of grace and mercy. God sends sun and rain (and disasters) on believers and non-believers alike.

While I'm not going to say Katrina, or the tsunami last year, were specific judgments, I will say that there is a good end from any disaster. God works ALL things for good, even the bad things. Unfortunately for us, though, we have a limited perspective. Things don't make sense if a loving God is all powerful. But by faith we may see that the greater good is served through suffering now. It may be that had Katrina not happened, for instance, a worse event would have happened. We just don't know. That's what makes the question of evil so difficult.

But getting back to the issue of culpability. The question is often asked why we have evil in the world if God is good. The underlying assumption is that God would intervene if He were good. There are a few problems with the question, though, that should be addressed. Talking about moral evil will get us closer to answering that question.

God is indeed good. Scripture leaves us no doubt about that. We don't always see this, though, as we decide that we know what is good. When God acts in a way that we don't think we would act, we deem that evil on His part, or say He's too weak to stop evil. Neither case is true. The fault lies in our own perception and discernment. We can't see eternity or even the "big picture" of our current existence. It is the height of arrogance to tell God He shouldn't have directed Katrina as He did if we don't know His greater purpose for mankind, or if we can't see everything as He does. This is the petulant judgement of a child who says he should be allowed to skip his medicine because he wouldn't make medicine that flavor, when the parent and physician can see that the medicine is the only thing that can save the child.

So if God is good, He must intervene, or else He's not the omnipotent deity we believe, no? Well, no. Again, we need to be careful about telling God what to do. He doesn't need to intervene to retain His goodness and omnipotence. What He is doing is allowing us the growth that comes from suffering, the ultimate in free will, and the consequences we choose through that free will. In other words, when we sin we tell God we don't want His ways. So He says, "fine. Here are the consequences. You bring evil into the world, I'll work through it and still end up having my will realized. But you will have consequences with which to deal along the way." We are morally culpable because God gave us, out of His love, free will. We choose to do evil, and we suffer. God's goodness won't shield us from our own choices or else we'd lose our free will. In His omnipotence, He works through the evil times to redeem them for good. His goodness and power are revealed even in times of evil and suffering.

If God's not to blame for evil, though, that leaves us. I'll turn to the reality of moral evil next week.

God bless, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Newspaper Blues

I finally cut the cord. Despite my affinity for Backfence, Jim Souhan, and the decent - if not ever-changing - comics page, I had to cancel my Strib subscription.

When asked why, I short-handed my criticisms of the paper to "editorial content" (which vastly undersells the impression I get of incompetence.) Pointing out the recent addition of Katherine Kersten's column, as well as that of "the new guy," I was forced to get more detailed in my critique of the paper: I no longer feel I can provide money to any organization employing Nick Coleman as a columnist. That left the service rep speechless. Tuesday night I got a call from someone else at the paper who tried to assure me they're trying to get more balance into the paper. This after I told him cutting the price wasn't enough to re-sign for the subscription as long as the current editorial staff still worked there.

I found it telling that the default assumption by both representatives (before I got into specifics about which editorial content) was that someone complaining about editorial comment thinks the paper is too...leftish. I'm guessing their complaints from the other end of the spectrum are minimal in comparison.

But the bias isn't the problem. To be sure, I can live with bias. Everyone has it, and I enjoy interacting with liberal and conservative thought and philosophy. I read the Washington Post daily, which isn't viewed as a bastion of conservativism. I also read, and a number of blogs across the left side of the spectrum. I'm not afraid of opinions with which I disagree.

What I can't live with is incompetent bias, where facts in the public realm are actively ignored and lies spread to promote a worldview. Jayson Blair was the last straw for the NYT in my eyes. The Strib has finally done it too. There are just too many options out there for me to bother with the poorly informed or idiotic ones. (Not to mention the plethora of letters to Strib editors that show how little reason we have for confidence in the ability of the MSM to educate consumers rather than push a single view. Or how scared I am about the level of actual attention people pay to what's going on outside their windows.)

So, WaPo, Denver Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press and the handful of other papers I read online - you're on notice. You can be biased, but at least be competent about it. That shouldn't be too hard to ask of a news organization in an era where you have an entire blogosphere dedicated to fact-checking.

(Side note: odd that the customer service rep didn't know the name of the columnist who was supposed to assuage my concerns over editorial balance. You'd have thought she could have looked it up in the 28 minutes on which I was on hold after selecting the option to discontinue service. I hope the "new guys" does well enough the rest of the staff learns his name, whatever that may be.)

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 9/16 Edition

Christian Carnival is up at Pseudo-Polymath. Due to taking Monday off work, I was completely out of sorts on my schedule this week, and forgot to submit anything. Which I'm sure means the carnival has better quality! Please check it out...a lot of work went into this on short notice as it appears the blog orginally scheduled to host is no longer around.

Christianity is Jewish has a good post on unity. Good read in a time of divisiveness.

I'm looking forward to a couple of new movies coming out soon. Starting to hear decent (though entirely too early) reviews of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. And, Veggie Tales is soon to release another movie to DVD - The Lord of the Beans. Yep, a blatant vegetable-laden rip-off of my favorite piece of fantasy literature, but I'm thinking it'll be quite good.

Tired of getting pretty much only bad news from Iraq & Afghanistan? Check out the aptly named Good News from the Front. We need to know about the violence, yes, but there's a whole lot of context missing in the news most people get. And there's more as reported by Stones Cry Out - tied into Katrina.

If you want to comment on the war on terrorism in general, Cross Blogging's symposium this week offers the chance with some direct questions.

Could it be that conservatives have been right all along? Evidence abounds that government isn't the solution, the people are. Big government isn't dead, but we should be learning that there are profound limits to its eficacy.

And not to push too many carnivals on y'all, but a new one at ProLifeBlogs has great potential. Check out the blog for entry criteria and info.

God bless!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Does God Do Evil?

In yesterday's post I started talking about natural evil, or bad things (like disasters) that happen in the world through purely natural means. These events, like Hurricane Katrina, come about through non-conscious means; storms don't act maliciously or willfully. They just "are."

However, near the end of the post, I posed the question about God's involvement. This is a natural follow up since as a Christian I fully acknowledge that God is sovereign over nature. The Bible is quite clear that God is in control of His creation at all times.

Does this mean God is evil, therefore, since He causes hurricanes and tsunamis? Absolutely not. The Bible is equally clear that God is good. There is no sin in Him at all. Both the NT and the OT agree: God is good!

But how can we say and believe God is good if He brings about natural evil according to scripture? By noting the difference between natural evil and moral evil.

In light of this, it may be easier to look at these events as not evil, but rather as acts of judgement or of good. Counter-intuitive? Let's take these one at a time, in reverse order, to see what I mean.

First, natural evil may be in reality good. That is, what we perceive to be evil may benefit humankind much more than if the event had not occurred. This is difficult to swallow. We rarely see past the devestation of natural evil; when we do, even that perspective is usually limited to the point where we wonder whether the good outweighs the bad. Hurricane Katrina hits - we see millions giving of time and money, we see new buildings replacing old (or we will, soon), and we see changes in society that will help protect us "the next time." These are all good things that wouldn't have taken place had the hurricane not hit - but that is little solace to those who've lost everything they own even to their own lives. How, we ask, can the good outweigh the deaths and injuries? How can we believe it is better that Hurricane Katrina happened than had it not? Difficult, that. By faith is the only way I can do it. By believing that God is working all things for good, even those things that cause us pain. It doesn't make sense, but then again God's ways are on a completely different level from ours. The ultimate good is increased by events like hurricane Katrina, even though we don't see that from our perspective.

An example of this is found in John 9. A man, Jesus says, was blind from birth not due to sin but so that a greater good - the glory of God - may be revealed. The man was saved from a lifetime of suffering natural evil - would have have believed in Jesus had he been able to see all his life? From our perspective, blindness sucks. From Jesus' perspective, blindness allowed the greater good of one man's salvation to the glory of the Father. I think there's a man in Heaven right now very glad for the natural evil of his blindness.

Second, natural evil is used mercifully as judgment to bring us to a greater realization of our sins. This is a controversial statement, and I want to be clear that I am NOT saying that everyone who died in Hurricane Katrina, or the tsunami of last year, were killed by God as judgment for their sins. I don't see these things as specific judgments enforced by God for specific sins. I'm not saying New Orleans was devestated because of the sin in that city.

However, in a general sense, we should take a warning from Katrina. The earth is cursed because of our sin; natural disasters happen because our sin brought creation out of its good state and into a flawed state. God has used disasters to remind us that sin is unacceptable. We all deserve death, and it is by God's mercy that those of us who haven't died yet are still alive. Did the residents of New Orleans deserve death? Yes - but no more so than do I. Or you. They didn't deserve a hurricane and more than I did - but they didn't deserve the hurricane any less either. God is loving, and God is merciful - but God is just. Judging sin is good. Letting sin thrive without judgment is evil. Did God judge the U.S. with Katrina, or Indonesia with the tsunami? I don't know and I'm not going to claim that He did. But it is possible. Even if these were "acts of blindness" used to bring about a greater good, it would be foolish not to consider our sin against God's holiness.

This brings us to the issue of moral evil, with which I'll continue the series. Please, oh please let me know if you think I'm off-base here. Again, I'm thinking through things, and am very curious about your thoughts too.

God bless!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Evil, Naturally Speaking

Evil. Bad, bad stuff. Seems nowadays that many things are called evil by someone - hurricanes, wars, presidents, terrorism, religion, tsunamis...the list goes on. Yet at times when it seems a most appropriate adjective, the word is nowhere to be seen. I fear that we have lost a great deal of understanding of what evil really is, how real it is, and how dangerous it is. We ignore such things at our own peril.

As a starting point on how we often misunderstand the reality of evil, I listed on Wednesday some common usages of the word, all of which are flawed in some way. Some people call the 9/11 hijackers evil men, and others call them misguided. There are some who call President Bush evil, and some who call him good. I've heard Hurricane Katrina called evil, caused by another evil (global warming.) Somewhere we need to reign in all the hyperbole and relearn what evil is so we can properly understand the threat of it. When one person calls an action evil and another person calls the same action good, at least one of them is wrong. Evil is a real thing, and logic says something cannot be both evil and good. I'm hoping we can start to clarify the line, the other side of which lies evil.

So what is evil? Evil as most people understand it seems to fall into two categories: moral evil, and "natural" evil. The former is more dangerous, and more difficult to define, so I'll start with what I'm calling natural evil. The discussion on moral evil will start Wednesday, and probably consume most of the series.

Natural evil would be things that are perceived as bad, or very bad, but are not brought about through moral agents. An example would be Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes are not sentient creatures acting maliciously. Rather, hurricanes (and earthquakes, volcanos, tornados, floods, etc...) are natural events without any conscious intent. Disasters don't plan to do harm, they just are. These events leave behind trauma, death, destruction and pain: all results we rightly associate with evil. Yet there is nothing in the storm or disaster that equates to free will, malice, or consciousness. Natural determinism, following physical laws - not hateful spirits trying to pound mankind into submission. Mother nature is a concept, not someone wrathfully pushing natural evil onto the world.

That being said, that storms aren't conscious or willful, there is someone behind natural evil. This type of evil is the type often motivating the question "why would a loving God allow (or cause) evil?" To that question I'll turn tomorrow (will I solve it? tune in and see) before turning towards moral evil. Hint: God does cause what we call natural evil, but is natural evil really "evil"?

'Til then, God bless!

Monday, September 12, 2005

We Interrupt this blog...

Unfortunately, as a t-storm is about to hit I have to shut down/unplug the PC. So, the post on evil (which I should have started earlier today - my bad) will be posted tomorrow instead of an incomplete version now.

I'm beginning to wonder if someone doesn't want me writing this series...

...but I'm tenacious I guess. Apologies, but I don't control the lightning.

God bless!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - Sunday Special Edition

Well, I said I'd blog this weekend...didn't say I'd wait until the last minute:)

Lots of interest in Katrina, of course, and many posts this past week were relevant. Some favorites are:


Fun items, courtesy of Catez.

Too funny.

I guess this is sorta what I look like, for those wondering:

Not perfect...but it's in the ballpark. Want to make your own? Portrait Illustration Maker.

(Yes, I know it'd be better to actually post a picture. Maybe someday.)

Christian Carnival is up at Technogypsy. Lotsa stuff to read.

The series on evil starts in earnest tomorrow.

God bless!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Calling Dr. Evil

-Not like we needed a reminder, but bad things do happen in this world. Often to "good people." But, we're told, there is a loving God who manages the universe. How can bad things happen if God's good?

-People are inherently good, so we don't need God. Except, of course, those who think a different means would be a better way to reach a certain end, or those who back a particular political position with which we differ.

-Our president claims to be a Christian, but is really evil because he lies and invades. Or so the argument goes.

-There is no such thing as evil. Rather, nature is all there is, and what happens happens, and good/evil are meaningless constructs that help us make some sense in a purely naturalistic world.

Each of the paragraphs above deals with a current conception of evil. Each of them also deals with evil incorrectly to a certain extent. It is easy to throw the label of "evil" on someone, something, or some phenomenon and shorthand your way to debate victory. Who can possibly be on the side of something deemed evil?

Well, I'm going to do what so many have tried to do before, mostly as an exercise to help me think through the issues and clarify my beliefs in this area. I'm going to start another series (whoever just screamed in agony, it's not that bad) on the topic of evil. With the recent events of Hurricane Katrina behind us, and the anniversary of 9/11 before us, the timing seems appropriate. Along the way I'll be touching on what evil is, how we encounter it, why it exists and what to do about it. Sounds very easy when I put it that way, but I'm sure I'll confuse things here and there. If you have any questions/ideas on evil as a topic, please let me know through comments and I'll see where it makes sense to add them to the series.

Hope it's edifying - and most of all, hope it turns out to be true! Pray for me and this series:)

God bless!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Importance of Past-Your-Bedtime Learning

I am no longer the proud Daddy of two pre-schoolers.

My eldest daughter started kindergarten today.

It's a bigger milestone than I thought. She, of course, has been excited for months. She walked into class, saw a neighborhood friend and ran to sit next to him. No, "bye daddy!" hugs or kisses. Nope. My little budding Einstein took to her first day like a fish to water. Guess that's one of the joys of instilling confidence in your child, and ensuring she has had lots of opportunities to practice her social skills before embarking on her school career. Now she'll perfect the reading and math skills she's been developing too.

But in many ways she's still my little girl, uncertain and wondering. We returned from my parents' house on Sunday evening (so we could do the Fair thing yesterday - great time had by all, not nearly enough fat/sugar consumed by your humble narrator, but there's always next year. I did get to introduce both daughters to the joy of cheese curds, so that was something.) After a long weekend away, I expected her to be asleep within a few minutes of tucking her in. An hour later she called me into her room with a soft "Daddy...I need you." Specifically, she needed to tell me that she "doesn't want to die."

Proves we share more than blood - I don't want to die either. At the same time, I know that on the other side of death is Heaven. And I know that death is the inevitable penalty we choose when we sin.

So for a few minutes we talked about death, and in the profound way that only children can. I told her about how death really isn't the end; Heaven awaits because our punishment has been paid. I told her how someday we'd have new bodies that never get tired, sore, sick or hurt - and that never die. That we'd be together as a family forever, and more importantly we'd be with God. I even told her that some people won't die - that those who are alive when Jesus returns will be caught up to Heaven instead. She asked me to pray that Jesus would come back soon so she didn't have to die, but could go right to Heaven. She picks things up quickly, that one.

I love that she asks me to pray for things. I love that she has unshakeable faith in the power of prayer (and only slightly less shakeable faith in her Daddy to have answers to her questions.) Most of all I love how the important things of life will always be taught at home. School is a good thing. But the vital things are aren't in the public school curriculum. Rather, they come from God Himself. I pray that I'll always be willing and able to answer these questions on the oh so important things, and that she'll trust her questions to me and my wife.

Even if the questions are asked an hour after bedtime.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wrapping the Week

I don't know about you, but I really can't say anything above what's already been said about Katrina's aftermath other than please consider giving if you haven't. If you have, please pray. We can do much through prayer and giving even if we can't directly lend a hand to someone on the other side of the country.

Heading into the weekend, I anticipate the topic will remain the hurricane, and I encourage my readers here to explore the blogs of those who are providing an outlet to help those who need it most. I said my piece on it yesterday but will say again that I am confident in promoting the work of Samaritan's Purse. Mark Lee (of Third Day guitarist fame) is encouraging people to contribute to World Vision and offering an autographed Third Day CD for the first 25 to do so per the directions on his blog. I don't know how many he has left, but even if they're all gone, I'd heartily endorse World Vision too.

I'd also like to point out that the Christian Carnival is up at Crossroads. A lot of bloggers put some work into this, so if you need a break from hurricane fallout coverage, there are some good posts there to check out.

Finally, I am anticipating a new series coming up. Topic: Evil. I see many questions to discuss, from "why evil if there's a loving God?" to "how do we define evil?" Many more. I hope you'll come back to contribute to the conversation.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone.

God bless!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - Katrina Edition

On Thursdays I generally post highlights I find in the "blogosphere" throughout the past few days. Today I am taking my "trip" towards the idea promoted by Hugh, and oganized by Instapundit and Truth Laid Bear. Hundreds of bloggers are discussing their recommended charities for Katrina-related donations, offering commentary and sharing ways to help those who so desperately need assistance. I'm happy to add my (blogolically speaking) small voice to this chorus.

First, the charity I'd recommend (and to which I will donate) is Samaritan's Purse. While I cannot personally vouch for all the charities listed by other bloggers, I am proud to do so for Samaritan's Purse. And please note I am NOT saying other charities are unworthy; there are many, many good charities and if SP is not your cup of tea, there are other places to give. For info on what SP is doing, please check here.

For a list of which charities other bloggers are recommending, and why, Truth Laid Bear has a list of bloggers participating in this exercise, as does Instapundit. According to Michelle Malkin, donations are over $45M as of yesterday evening.

I can't disagree with this assessment of looters. I sympathize with those who have no food or water. I have NO sympathy for those looting weapons, electronics, clothes or cars. (HT: La Shawn Barber.) More on looting via Michelle Malkin.

I also have no sympathy for those trying to score cheap political points when they should be offering help. The right-wing equivalent, I guess, are those who try to score cheap points regarding God's judgment on a sinful nation. Can we all please focus on helping people and stop pointing fingers? After-action reports and lessons learned need to be done AFTER the immediate needs are met. The time for this is later.

Rob Wilkerson uses Adrian's blog to suggest a way to help refugees of the area. If you know of other such suggestions, please send me an email at rlswork *at* yahoo *dot* com or reply to the comments section and I'll add them.

I'm sure that my visitors are 'net savvy enough to know where more news about Katrina is, where pictures are (truly worth 1,000s of words, those), and where to find more commentary. There are truly many people more eloquent than I covering this. Please read them and use the information you learn to inform your prayers. When all else fails, and you're not sure how to pray, remember the words that comfort me often:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express - Romans 8:26.

Prayer is the most important thing to offer those who are hurting, though direct material aid is needed (and in fact an answer to someone's prayer!) Please give, but please don't forget to pray.

God bless!

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