Friday, March 31, 2006

Prayer Study Sabatoged

ScrappleFace reports that now the truth is coming out about the prayer study. It was sabatoged. Turns out that those asked not to prayer for thier loved ones actually did pray and thus the study was all a mess and meaningless, even though 2.4 million dollars was spent.
"The scientists also noted that their work was “sabotaged by religious zealots” secretly praying for study subjects who were supposed to receive no prayer."

Furthermore, Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston vents:
“It really burns me up that we worked so hard, only to be undermined by an anonymous army of intellectual weaklings on their knees,” he said.
Read the whole news report here.

A Study Has Found Prayer Doesn't Work

This article is garbage: Prayer for the ill may do more harm than good

"Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer," it said.

The study was designed only to try to measure the impact of intercessory prayer on heart surgery patients, not to address the existence of God.

Postmodernism most of the time doesn't try to attack God's exisitence, it just tries to fabricate how impotent he is.

April Fools Resolutions

This morning I found a voicemail on my Blackberry from my good friend and brother. He called at 7:03, speaking through a long sigh he said "We'll Pat, I know tomorrow is April Fool's Day and everything but I really am going to get back on The Program. It is time to start working out and eating right again. You with me?"

Wow! Just for the sheer irony of it, April Fools Day is the perfect time to begin resolutions. So, I am going to partner with my brother and his wife and my wife and get (back) on The Program. Although the subject will not rule this blog, you'll have to find ways to cope with the occasionaly posting I'll be doing about it over the next 12 weeks or so.

My friend enlightened me to another reason why April Fools Day is a perfect resolution day. He is a strategic thinker and so he figures those people who started resolutions on New Years have now fallen and will be out of his way. The New Years crew will be gone and we'll have more room to shine.

Faithless Idealism

What bugs me most about my cynicism is what it says about my faith in God's providential care over the world. The depths of my cynicism reveals how little I choose to remember and live by the fact (it is a fact) that God actively commands everything under the sun. In the end, among all the ways to define what cynicism is and how it manifests itself, ultimately, cynicism describes people who have given up believing and hoping in God’s activity in the world. I have not given up hope.

A level of cynicism is understandable. My cynical attitude has its roots in idealistic desires which are frustrated daily because things in this world are not as they ought to be.
Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not conten. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)
But the fact that God sovereignly rules the good and evil of this world cannot be denied. Understanding and living by His providential rule of the world leads me back to Him and His grace. I am called to repentance and obedience and to swear my alligience to Him.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Newness Addiction

I have lived with my trusty Blackberry for the last year and half. I've been into reading everything on the web from my Bloglines account. I live in the info world called "push". I have info pushed and force feed to me every second of the day. I am not at a loss for the latest headline or greatest blog posting and I've probably already replied to the email you're going to send me - and I did it while driving to the post office. It is truely amazing!

I have noticed in myself though a new habit and addiction for new news. I never had this addiction before I went "push". I don't read beyond headlines anymore. I flip back short emails to my loved ones and friends. I am more impatient and want people I work with to talk faster.

This article describes the emerging dysfuntions of living in "push." Read it and learn why you don't want to come to a point where you call your Blackberry a Crackberry. If you don't own a Blackberry, you will some day because only those people with a Blackberry will rule the world.

This Bunny Trail Has A Bad Odor

It is time to get off this cynicism bunny trail - it stinks! It has really brought me down and it was not all it was suppose to be. Sure it goes without saying but the jaunt was necessary.

I will post one last time on cynicism though to wrap things, but before I do, here is one more resource I found for either perpetuating my cynicism or laughing me out of it. These "de-motivation" posters are for sale at the same site.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Info Age Success Factors

  • Follow Through
Read Michael Hyatt's, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, answer to What's The Secret To Your Success

A Cynic's Hang Out

This is a helpful place to learn about cynicism.

The Cynic's Sanctuary

How Others Have Described Cynicism

Based on these quotes, things are NOT looking good:

  • "Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be." ~ Ambrose Bierce
  • "Cynical is a word used by the frightened to describe the realistic." ~ Snog, Australian industrial rock band
  • "I once said cynically of a politician, 'He'll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it.'" ~ Oscar Levant
  • "I'm not cynical. I'm just experienced." ~ Anonymous
  • "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • "A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing." ~ Oscar Wilde
  • "Cyn-ic: An idealist whose rose-colored glasses have been removed, snapped in two, and stomped into the ground, immediately improving his vision." ~ Rick Bayan, The Cynic's Sanctuary
  • "There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing." ~ Maya Angelou
  • "Remember, beneath every cynic there lies a romantic, and probably an injured one." ~ Glenn Beck
  • "The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes - openly bad and secretly bad." ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • "A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin." ~ H. L. Mencken
Related Posts:

Understanding Cynicism

Realistic Negativism

Skeptic of Cynicism

Understanding Cynicism

I've highlighted (as indicated by the red text) the portions of wikipedia's description of modern cynicism that really concerns me:

Presently the word generally describes, somewhat pejoratively, the opinions of those disinclined to believe in human sincerity, in virtue, or in altruism: individuals who maintain that only self-interest motivates human behavior. A modern cynic typically has a highly contemptuous attitude towards social norms, especially those which serve more of a ritualistic purpose than a practical one, and will tend to dismiss a substantial proportion of popular beliefs, conventional morality and accepted wisdom as irrelevant or obsolete nonsense. Many cynics do not like the way the world really is, however, and wish it could be changed. They want to see the world for how it is (or how they perceive it to really be) rather than delude themselves.

In informal use, derived from the meanings described hereabove, cynicism may refer to heartless calculating behavior or thinking because someone who has no faith in the goodness of other human beings might have less restraints to behave without compassion. These multiple meanings can lead to the ironic situation of a voter accusing a politician of being cynical because they are alleged to be heartless, even though this means the voter is also cynical because he/she does not trust the politician.

Despite the negative portrayal of cynics, some would argue that such people simply "refuse to look through rosy-tinted spectacles" and do not fear to demolish popular beliefs no matter how sacred society considers such alleged misconceptions. Cynics themselves tend to take this view, regarding themselves as enlightened free thinkers, and their critics as deluded social pretenders who "bury their heads in the sand". However, an excess of cynicism in an individual can cause social or psychological difficulties when cynics see themselves as depersonalised and self-serving inhabitants of a meaningless, fictitious, and shallow world. It can be argued that an excess of cynicism actually leads to a disassociation from reality, because it leads to easy rejection of hard answers.

Related Posts:

Realistic Negativism

Skeptic of Cynicism

Realistic Negativism

Isn't cynicism as simple as a negative way of expressing what is true?

For example, ever been around when lightning strikes really close, I mean with in one hundred yards? You know what is about to happen because you can feel your hair stand up and there is no mistaking that sulfur smell. It is at that point when you make the comment to your friend, "We're about to get fried." What would give him reason to call you a cynical S.O.B?

Related Post: Skeptic of Cynicism

Skeptic of Cynicism

Over the next week or so I am going to take an introspective bunny trail with the goal of finding out the truth behind a razor-like comment that someone made about me:
"Pat, your such a cynical S.O.B."
I don't really care about the S.O.B. part because that is just juvenile name calling. I am concerned about the cynical label though. It is serious. Obviously, the person who slung the mud must know something about me and can see some connection between the meaning of cynicism and my character. I must rightly presume that they even know what they are saying and they understand the real meaning of cynicism. It is obvious, isn't it, that a person means what they say. (Did you get that? There is my cynicism shining through. I think. Now that is my skepticism. Uggghhh!)

I always have to start with a solid definition to lay the ground work. The dictionary says that a cynic is:
  1. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
  2. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
  3. A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
Yes to #1, Possibly to #2, and No to #3. I can already see, my skepticism has to do with #2. Am I really this way? Is it a serious character flaw or am I just in a rut? Am I cynical to everybody I know or is it just something I exhibit when I interact with the mud slinger name caller, in which case, it would be his problem because he acts in such a way as to cause me to be cynical of his every move? (There, my cynic self rising to the top.)

I will set out to learn more.

Related Post: Realistic Negativism

Idle Idols

Last nights performances on American Idol fell short. Not one wannabe pulled off a better than average showing.

For me, the biggest thing, I just didn't believe any of the artists last night. I love live performances and I think the best artists are the ones who shine most in front of a crowd. Last night none of the contestants sold me as to who they really were.

Can you tell, I was dissappointed with everybody last night.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lazarus (and only Lazarus) Come Out!

This past weekend I taught a LifeShaping class using the story of The Death of Lazarus from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11. I personally love this story for the ramifications it has in the bigger Gospel story. I wish I could but I won't explore those ramifications in this post. Just as an interesting tidbit though, consider this:

In verse 43 Jesus speaks across the distance of life and death to Lazarus to come out of the tomb.

John 11:43-44
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
This is the same voice that said "Let there be light..." and the same voice that will be heard at the end of time.

1 Thes 4:16
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
I was blown away by what one commentator alluded to about Jesus' command - who (or what) would have come out of the grave if Jesus just said, "Come out!"?

Boy gets caught in toy-filled 'claw' machine

"Get In, Get Out, Get In, Get Out...It is that simple, I can do it, Let's roll."

Regardless of what the newspaper story says, I think the boy got caught in mid-plan and he knows his cuteness will keep him out of trouble.

P.S. Thanks for the tip Ron, my blogless brother.

Lean Into It

Being a fan of America's Funniest Home Videos I've seen many pet tricks. The gamet of skills displayed is wide. Stupid pet trick videos make me laugh more than any videos of humans. I've seen many dogs surf a skate board with dripping tongue hanging joyfully out. I've never seen this before.

No it is not just another dog on a skateboard. Watch it again and observe how fido strategically leans into his turns - that skill sets a new standard!

Drop Shipment

I work for a small, start up company. My role is that of Manager of Operations. I was told if I wanted a title greater than that, I would be held to it.

In reality, a small startup calls for every employee to drop whatever they are doing when urgent needs pop up, and they do a few times a day. In the spirit of Burton's post on business jargon, I think I may have come up with my very own contribution.

Drop Shipment - when a shipment of 4 pallets of plastics shows up (or whatever), drop what you are doing and get if off the truck.

Does this work? It does for me.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Movie Review: North Country

I watched North Country this last Saturday night. I have mixed feelings about the film. Although I like some of what Nehring says in his review, two specifics about the film stood out above everything else and really disturbed me:

1. The graphic violence against the women. I think the movie did a good job at conveying how horrible it must have been for the women to go to work everyday. Some put up with it for over 14 years. There was one rape scene that put me over the edge and I don't think it needed to be in the movie.

2. The very strong canadian accents of the rangers. This was overwhelming and took so much away from the story. I kept having flashbacks to watching Fargo, or Strange Brew, or a period interlude commentary of a Minnesota Wild hockey game. I may be too close to the situation but c'mon, some one please tell me, do we northerners really have that strong of an accent? Wow, it was ridiculous.

Rahman's Life Still At Risk

Muslim clerics are calling for followers to kill Rahman when he is released.

Payment Terms: Net 4 years

Today I am going to deal with an invoice I received last friday. The invoice was from a chiropractor I haven't seen in over a year. The amount is $364 for services performed in 2002. Four years ago!!! The reason for the invoice being "late" the accompanied letter stated is because the office had moved in Jan 2005 and they changed computer systems as well. I checked my records of previous paid invoices and statements to this chiropractor and found several of them with zero balances owed.
In addition, the latest invoice shows my copay's and payments from the insurance company. Where did this $364 come from? How do I know there is any accuracy in the chiropractor business records at all? This invoice can't be right and that is what I am going to argue when I go to see them today. It is sloppy bookkeeping on their part. I just chuckled everytime I looked at the invoice this last weekend.

Charges Against Abdul Rahman Dropped

Praise God! Abdul Rahman will not be executed.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Gifts of Fruit

I like the way The Message paraphrases Galatians 5:22-23 calling the fruits of the spirit gifts from God:

Love - Affection for others
Joy - Exuberance about life
Peace - Serenity
Patience - Willingness to stick with things
Kindness - Sense of compassion in the heart
Goodness - Conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people
Faithfulness - Involved in loyal commitments
Gentleness - Not needing to force our way in life
Self-Control - Able to marshal and direct our energies wisely

Look up and read the entire passage here. I like how the source of the gifts (fruit) is clear. In addition, the paraphase gives the accurate impression that the gifts are developed over time and not all given at once.

I do find The Message to be a helpful devotional supplement. The Message is a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. It should not be the primary, and for that matter the only Bible translation a person should read - it is a paraphrase.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What Good Is God's Love?

This afternoon I've been preparing for a class I teach called the Goal of God. I've taught this class for four years now and it has been my favorite. This weeks lesson touches on God's love and the ultimate goal of his love. In reading some of John Piper's material I encountered the questions:

1. Are you thankful for the love of God? Why?
2. Would you want to go to heaven if Jesus wasn't going to be there?

And then what about this question: What good is God's love?

For this class period I go deep into the death and ressurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45. The goal of God's love is sprinkled all over this story of Life and the Life-giver.

These questions at first seem obvious and even stupid. Why even ask them? Here's why. With all three questions my initial answers were self-centered and focused on the benefits I either recieve presently or will in the future. My answers revealed a defective definition of love. In answering the questions I discovered that I live by a definition of love that puts myself or someone else at center stage. I used to think love makes much of me or someone else (that I love.) This is wrong thinking.

God's love is good because it puts Him on center stage. God's love makes Him the primary desire of my heart. God will do what ever he has to so that mankind is able to experience Him and enjoy Him. That is the love of God and His love then defines what my love should look like toward another. With my new definition of love, loving someelse should be that I will do whatever it takes to show them how great God is. I must show others how to experience and enjoy God forever.

Thank You Dr. Bruce Ware

Last evening the fortunate opportunity of being witness to theological excellence presented itself and I gratefully ceased it. My home church hosted a speaking engagement in which one of the countrys most esteemed theologians delivered a lecture on the doctrine of the Trinity. What a fantastic pleasure it was to watch and listen to Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, execute a passionate and finely tuned presentation of how the Trinity works and how the doctrine was developed in church history.

The Intersect event is actually a two day affair. My committments this weekend are too many for me to attend Saturday's lectures. Fortunately, all of the lectures (and outlines) are available for download here at Faith Community's website and I will be listening to them soon.

I left the lecture in awe of Ware's excellence and passion. I was reminded of the time I got to see professional football players practice within ten feet of where I was standing. They were professionals and it showed. The difference between professional talent and one step lower is so obvious. Same with Ware. I was also very encouraged to have faithful teachers like Ware and others I learn from.

All in all it was a great night! It was a fruitful step in the growth of my faith.

P.S. My buddy (and Pastor) Porter experimented with live blogging over at Convergence. It was pretty cool. I commented live directly from my blackberry!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Greatest Conjunction Ever Used

The events of the past, present, and future are all ruled by the coordinating conjuction used at the start of verse 24:

"23This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and
you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the
cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of
death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David
said about him:
" 'I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken."
(Acts 2:24 NIV)

Praise God!!!

Purpose Given

Since the beginning of time, humans are still looking for purpose, meaning, the reason for living. I believe it is in the blood of every human to seek out why they exist - it is a universal pilgrimage as well as an individual journey. This is a good thing. Ultimately, one will come face to face with the fact that all paths (in finding meaning and purpose) lead to God - the one and only God! Once man comes to God, the search for purpose is over.

The wisest man that has ever lived, after a lifetime of pursuing purpose and meaning, confessed the chief end to man's existence:

"13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man."
Eccl 12:13

The pursuit of purpose must stop and the mastering of how to live out that purpose to the glory of God is what must be the target in this life.

The purpose of man is universal - it is the same for every human. What a joyless burden it is to keep trying to find one's own personal mission in life. Man's neverending facination with purpose statements, vision statements, missions statements, etc. serves only to confuse, frustrate and make life meaningless.

Man's purpose and mission has been declared. What needs to be done now is to seek ways to live it out.

P.S. Did you catch that I said all paths lead to God? That is what I said, but what do I mean?