Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Find God's Will for Your Life

It's a little something I've heard that's stuck with me over the years. First of all, you have to distinguish between the two wills of God. There are not more than two, nor are there fewer than two. One will of God is the preceptive or revealed will of God. This is the Bible, pure and simple. Then you have the decretive or secret will of God. This is whatsoever comes to pass. You can see already that I believe in predestination, foreordination, etc.

Now the key here is that there is no category called the "perfect will of God" distinct from what I have already mentioned. Both the preceptive and decretive wills of God are perfect, in their own ways. Some people don't want to "miss out" on the "perfect will of God", because that would deprive them of happiness. They're thinking of the "perfect will of God" almost as a subset of the "will of God", and they want to aim for that center. But this is an incorrect way of thinking.

So now that we've defined the two wills of God, you might well ask, "Adrian, if you believe in predestination, then aren't you always following the decretive will of God whether you want to or not?" Answer: Yes! So, evidently, when I'm talking about "finding God's will for your life", I'm not talking about the decretive will. I'm talking about the preceptive will. We don't know the decretive will of God (hence the other name, "secret will"), so the best we can do is attempt to align ourselves with the preceptive will.

I'm really asking this question: what does the Bible say about wisdom in living your daily life? There are five aspects of which I am aware, that I've found helpful in finding godly wisdom in making choices. Let's consider the aspect of choosing a vocation. What questions are valuable to ask? I would put forth these questions:

1. Is this vocation in accordance with the law of God (and therefore the laws of the land)?

2. Is this vocation something I like doing?

3. Am I good at this vocation?

4. Do other people think I'm good at this vocation?

5. Do I have the opportunity to do this vocation?

When all of those point in the same direction, I say go for it!

Question Number 2 includes all those little promptings of the Holy Spirit nudging you one way or another. God does change our desires from time to time, and this question encompasses all of that.

Also note that these questions presuppose a few things. Most importantly, you must know your Bible. Secondly, you must be in prayer. It is in prayer that God most often changes our wills to align with His revealed will. Also, you will note that the Holy Spirit never, ever contradicts Scripture. If God wrote the Bible, and He did, and God is utterly consistent, and He is, and if the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Trinity, and He is, then it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to go against Scripture. That would be equivalent to the Holy Spirit telling Jesus Christ (the Second Person of the Trinity), "We don't need you anymore - you're kind of superfluous in this whole salvation thing. Leave." It wouldn't happen: God does not change.

You'd have to modify the questions a bit for different situations in life. There are analogies for other situations.

I hope this proves helpful to people struggling with how to choose godly paths in life.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Math Help Boards

Now that my readership is down to zero, I'm going to post! This is a post about an online forum for which I am an administrator: Math Help Boards. You can find it here. There's an amazing amount of raw mathematical talent there that you can tap into for math help. I'd highly recommend it!

Cheers.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What do you do when...

... there are literally no good candidates running for even one office for which there is a vote? I've thought about possibly voting for the worst, most extreme candidate on the grounds that they would be more easily ousted later. The problem is, how can I justify voting for a pro-death candidate? I could also think about a write-in candidate, but the fact is, if someone isn't on the ballot anywhere, they have very little chance of getting elected.

I had no problem voting for the Constitution Party candidate in the last presidential election, because he was on the ballot in a lot of states, though not CT.

This sort of thing kind of ticks me off, because now my voice can't be heard. I have no good option.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Book Out

So there's a fascinating new book out. It's hot off the press, and guaranteed to become a Times Bestseller. The plot is gripping, and the character development deep. I think everyone ought to go right out and buy one in order to support the poor struggling author.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Clever Abortion Clinic Tactic

It is my opinion that abortion clinics should be harrassed in every possible legal method. Here's a very nice one served up in Virginia: simply requiring that abortion clinics provide the same standard of medical care that a hospital does. Apparently, according to the pro-death people, this would force 4 out of 21 clinics to shut down. That would be fantastic! Not as good as simply outlawing abortion, as should happen, but a step in the right direction. This would hit them where it hurts: the pocketbook.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wilson's Recent Pilgrim's Progress Post

Douglas Wilson has recently posted some quotes from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. You can read Wilson's post for the context. Or will you get all the context? I think there's something missing there. The Pilgrim's Progress quote, in its entirety, reads thus:

TALK. That is it that I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the vanity of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Thus, in general, but more particularly by this, a man may learn the necessity of the new birth, the insufficiency of our works, the need of Christ's righteousness, &c. Besides, by this a man may learn, by talk, what it is to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like; by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and consolations of the gospel, to his own comfort. Further, by this a man may learn to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth, and also to instruct the ignorant.

FAITH. All this is true, and glad am I to hear these things from you.

TALK. Alas! the want of this is the cause why so few understand the need of faith, and the necessity of a work of grace in their soul, in order to eternal life; but ignorantly live in the works of the law, by which a man can by no means obtain the kingdom of heaven.

FAITH. But, by your leave, heavenly knowledge of these is the gift of God; no man attaineth to them by human industry, or only by the talk of them.

TALK. All this I know very well; for a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven; all is of grace, not of works. I could give you a hundred scriptures for the confirmation of this.

FAITH. Well, then, said Faithful, what is that one thing that we shall at this time found our discourse upon?

Here I have quoted the Project Gutenberg version.

If you compare this full quotation with Wilson's quote, I think it's true that the missing parts are rather important, especially Faithful's affirmation of what Talkative says that is true. Isn't it true that non-believers can get some things right? They can say truth? Common grace, I think they call it.

I'm not an English major (although I love literature, as evidenced by Cucumberland Island). But it does seem to me as if the missing parts greatly change the meaning of the passage. In fact, my impression of the passage is that Faithful is affirming everything Talkative says here, while providing a clarification that Talkative appears to agree with. Faithful does not appear to disagree with what Talkative is saying.

So the lesson here isn't that what Talkative says is wrong. The lesson here is that even unbelievers (Talkative, it becomes clear later on, is no believer) can get portions of theology correct. Another example of this is a professor of whom my father heard, who was an Orthodox Jew. He was, oddly enough, teaching in Romans. And he went point-by-point down the tenets of Reformed theology. One of his students raised his hand and asked him whether he believed in any of this stuff. "No," replied the professor, "But that's what the text says."

The fact that Talkative doesn't live out this doctrine doesn't mean the doctrine is incorrect. It means that that critical link connecting doctrine and practice was missing in Talkative's life.

I'm wondering if one possible implication that Wilson is trying to make is that confessionals tend to spout off on the doctrine, but fail to live it out. Sadly, that's probably true in far too many cases. But, if you reason that, as a consequence, the doctrine that confessionals believe is wrong, you'd have just committed the ad hominem fallacy. I don't recommend that you go there!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Comparing Computers to Pen and Paper

1. Fast boot-up time.
2. High bandwidth.
3. Programming language doesn't change very fast.
4. Durability (how many computers do you know last hundreds of years?).
5. Highly portable.
6. Low energy consumption.
7. Easy-to-use GUI.
8. Less eye strain than other models.

In Christ.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Confessional or Relevant: a False Dichotomy

Let me rant. I am sick of people claiming that confessions are old, outdated, or irrelevant to today's hip culture and Gen X. I am sick of people saying that doctrine is only for people with pointy heads and has no real value for Joe Shmoe; going along with that, I am sick of people putting up a firm wall of separation between doctrine and practice, as if doctrine isn't practical, and practice isn't doctrinal! (Note: I am NOT saying a pastor shouldn't make practical application in a sermon. I AM saying that we should not assume a doctrine has to be applied in order to be practical; I am ALSO saying that we should not assume that a particular practice does not have doctrinal implications.)

Here's an interesting quote:

Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.

By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.

They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.

From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

Could anything be more relevant to the world around us? Does not this explain so many things? It says man is not basically good, he is basically bad, though not as bad as he could be.

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

Wow! The first quote shows us the world has a problem. The second quote gives us the solution. Isn't that amazing? Oh, by the way, the first quote was the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 6, and the second was the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 14.

So, if someone says, "Yeah, but you're being confessional and I'm being relevant," you can make the comeback that being confessional is ALWAYS relevant. Human nature does not change over the ages. The problem has always been sin, and the solution has always been Jesus Christ. There is nothing more relevant to the human condition than the sentence before this one.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Bach

Today is Bach's 325th birthday, if you take the Julian calender date. What are you doing to celebrate? I'd recommend listening to the St. Matthew Passion or a cantata. Maybe play some yourself, if you're so inclined.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Landau: Mechanics, 3rd Ed., p. 32

On the page mentioned above in the book mentioned above, Landau makes the following claim, in the context of talking about motion in a central field; that is, the motion of two particles, where the only forces between the two particles are directed on the straight line joining the two particles.

Such cases are exceptional, however, and when the form of $U(r)$ is arbitrary the angle $\Delta\phi$ is not a rational fraction of $2\pi$. In general, therefore, the path of a particle executing a finite motion is not closed. It passes through the minimum and maximum distances an infinity of times, and after infinite time it covers the entire annulus between the two bounding circles. The path shown in Fig. 9 is an example.

A note to the reader: Fig. 9 looks very much like the graph on the front of this book.

Now, in classical mechanics, we have no tunneling or other means of teleportation. This implies that the particle must continuously traverse whatever path it is on. We should also note that a particle is like a mathematical point - it has no extension.

Now, mathematically, Landau is saying that there is a continuous bijection from the half-infinite line $[0,\infty)$ to the annulus $\overline{B}(0,r_{\text{max}})\setminus B(0,r_{\text{min}})$. Is this possible? The annulus obviously requires two continuous variables to locate a point in its interior. However, given the path of the particle as a function of time, we need only specify one variable (time) in order to locate its position.

So help me out, you topologists. Is there a homeomorphism between these two sets? I could believe that the particle's path is dense in the annulus, but I'm not sure about traversing every point.

In Christ.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Hard Numbers

According to the wiki article on Texas, its area is 268,820 square miles. Now, 1 square mile is exactly 27,878,400 square feet. Ergo, Texas has approximately 7.5 x 10^12 square feet. Now, according to the wiki article on World Population, the current population of the world is estimated by the US Census Bureau to be 6,808,900,000. Suppose we were to fit the entire world population into the state of Texas. How much room would each person have? Well, you'd take your 7.5 x 10^12 and divide by 6,808,900,000. According to my calculator, that gives about 1100 square feet / person. That's a small home with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and one bathroom. That's not too bad. If you do the same calculation, except that you use the area of the entire United States, you end up with approximately 15500 square feet / person. That's an extremely large mansion.

Have you ever noticed that the people who argue that the world is over-populated tend to be liberals/socialists? And have you also noticed that liberals and socialists tend to be concentrated in large cities? And have you ever noticed that in large cities, the amount of living area the average person has is considerably smaller than in the country? It makes you wonder, doesn't it, as to whether liberals are able to look beyond the confines of their cities!

To take another angle, let us consider wheat. According to the wiki on Norman Borlaug,

Biologist Paul R. Ehrlich wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over ... In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971," and "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980." - Ehrlich, Paul: The Population Bomb, 1968.

A little bit later, the wiki has the following: "By 1974, India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals." So, ok, maybe India took a little time to get there, but they did. Ehrlich's basic idea was flat-out wrong. Norman Borlaug has been credited with saving the lives of over a billion people from starvation.

When are we going to get it into our heads that Malthus and Ehrlich are wrong? It seems, in the face of such hard numbers as I've given above, that the over-population people are incorrect. So why would supposedly rational people ignore numbers such as these? There might be any number of reasons. Possibly one reason might be that science and hard data is not as important to such people as control over other people. We've seen this first-hand with the climategate scandal, which the extreme environmentalists have ignored to the best of their ability. Their support is waning, however.

I would issue a call to liberals and socialists everywhere to re-examine your philosophy and how well it matches up with your rhetoric. Do not invoke science and statistics when you intend to twist them for your own political agenda.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bach

It happened. Something I thought would never happen, but it has. My favorite composer has changed. It used to be Beethoven, and it is now Bach.

Mind you, my favorite piece of music is still probably Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto. However, taken together, I like Bach better than Beethoven now.

What, you might ask, achieved this stupendous transformation in my thinking? (Ok, it might not seem quite so stupendous for some of you, but it is true that I don't change things like this very often.)

There are two books that achieved this change. One is Glory and Honor, by Gregory Wilbur. That was a book that shattered most of my misconceptions about Bach as being a money-grubbing grump. In fact, while he did stand up for the money due his office, he was one of the most genial composers ever. He was quite the husband and father, and his home was always open. Composers and musicians were always traipsing through his house.

The second book was actually one I haven't read, but heard about: Evening in the Palace of Reason, a very interesting book about the smack-down of Fredrick the Great of Prussia. You can read enough of it on Amazon to get the idea of it. Bach was simply unparalleled in counterpoint, and here is one of the proofs.

Ultimately, it was also the spiritual aspect. Very few composers have ever submitted all their work to God the way he did. And there, I think, lies the difference for me. Beethoven is great and all, and wrote some great stuff, but it's not so universally spiritual as Bach. Bach also appeals to the mind more than Beethoven.

That's all for now.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Letter to My Congressman - Concerning the Affordable Health Care for Americans Act, H.R. 3962

I was contacted by Meredith Dodson, encouraging me to urge you to vote yea on this bill. This email was rather frustrating to me, because it simply assumed that I would want this bill to pass. I most assuredly do NOT, and here's why:

1. It would increase governmental intervention in private lives, thus curtailing our freedoms. Why does the government think it can run our lives better than we can? No, the government should limit itself to law-making, law-enforcement, and national defence. This is what our Founders thought government should be, and I see no reason why their ideal should change. Human nature has not changed since they founded this country; hence, one of the best experiments in governance in the history of the world should not be changed.

2. The bill would support taxpayer-funded abortions. I am pro-life through and through; certainly abortion on demand should be highly illegal. I OBJECT to paying for the deaths of unborn human beings (to argue that they are just fetuses and not human is clearly a fallacy, since medical science has evolved to the point that "viability" occurs earlier and earlier. That's the argument of the beard. A fetus is a human being with a soul right from the moment of conception, and should therefore be protected by law).

3. It would eliminate competition, thus driving prices up and quality down. Far from creating affordable health-care for Americans, it would work very effectively against that goal. Why do so many people think that health care, education, etc., are immune from the laws of supply and demand? Or from other economic laws? Goods and services behave the same way: if you introduce competition, everything gets better for everyone.

In summary, there is not one redeeming feature of this immoral bill, and I urge you to vote NAY.

If you want to improve health care in this country, I recommend the following steps:

1. Significantly de-regulate the entire industry. I don't mean that the FDA should cease to exist (surely drugs should be put through the ringer before they are introduced), or that abortion should be legal. I mean that competition should be encouraged. In addition, it is simply impossible for the government to make all the nitty-gritty little decisions that make health care better, simply because the government doesn't know all the information it needs to know. There's way too much.

2. Make it harder to sue doctors for malpractice. America is a sue-happy country, and that drives health care costs up, in this case, because doctors have to pay so much more in malpractice insurance. The doctors, I'm here to tell you, are not going to simply absorb those costs. They will pass them on to their patients. I don't say make it impossible to sue, just make it harder. Have judges dismiss more trivial cases, for example.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Humility, II

So it gets even better. After learning from my last mistake to plug the alarm clock into an outlet not controlled by the light switch, I went through the same alarm-setting procedure as before.

This time, I woke up at 6:04 on my own. No alarm. I look over at the clock, and it's on. The alarm was set for 6:00am, the clock was displaying the current time correctly, including the am/pm, and the alarm was on. So what gives?

Apparently, this clock has been a favorite playtoy of my son Hans for some time. He must have rough-housed enough with it to disturb the internal workings, or perhaps the speaker, or whatever. Anyway, it didn't go off as planned.

So the moral of the story is never to use an alarm clock your 13-month-old son has played with. Also, since I was humbled the last time, I have no need of further humility. I can stop praying that most dangerous prayer of all: the prayer for more humility. Can I sell you a bridge?