Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can You Find It in Scripture?

Raised as a fundamentalist, if it can't be found and proven from Scripture, it isn't a part of the Christian faith. And yet, Scripture feels so out of tune with the reality of day-to-day faith. But this is so not because it is true per se, but because of the narrowness of application. It is unfortunate that the fundamentalists who have struggled to maintain Sola Scriptura end up using that Scripture to codify their own vision of church and social life, turning the Scriptures into an out-of-touch, out-of-context, irrelevant text.
The Apostle Paul proclaimed the Good News not because he exposited it from the Old Testament, but be because he was an Apostle and witness to the glory of Christ. He expected his followers to search the Scriptures to see if it was so. Perhaps we need to get back to that today. Yes Scripture is important, but instead of judging teaching by the understanding of Scripture we have already attained, perhaps we should judge teaching by whether it is at all possibly consistent with the Scriptures. In other words, don't ask if what someone is teaching matches up with what you believe the Scripture to teach. Ask if it is possible that the Scriptures can be shown to possibly be consistent with what an someone teaches.
Exposition is important, but so is an ability to induce Scriptural truths from the realities of Christian life. I've seen groups go too far in both directions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Apartment Hunting Stories

You know it's not the right apartment for you when:

You schedule a showing and 7 other people show up too. The agent is 20 minutes late and doesn't have a key. This was the same place that tells you they don't schedule showings in advance; you have to wait for them to call you the day before they are ready to show, and you must accept whatever time of day they come up with.

You love the apartment until you check out the bathroom and find the painters left a "present" in the bowl.

You call the number listed on the advertisement and get the voicemail, just to find out that if you are having an emergency, to hang up and dial the number you just called.

It's Saturday so you decide to check out two places that have office hours on Saturday. They're both closed.

While you are out on Saturday, you drive by another place that interests you. The office is closed, but you have no way of knowing when they are open, because while Mon-Sat is on the board, the times are scraped off. Apparently they don't staff that office?

This all happened to me within the last few weeks. I have never met with as much complete inflexibility as I have when dealing with property management. For example, I have a dismissed eviction on my record due to a clerical error, because it should have never been filed. I have actually been turned down over this.

All you people looking for an apartment- how they treat you as a prospective tenant is a
pretty good indicator of how you'll be treated once you move in.

All you landlords out there- please try to be professional.

Some Thoughts on Prayer

Lately, I have been reading a book on prayer by Steve Brown titled, "Approaching God." Prior to this, the best books on prayer that I heard about (but never read) were from E.M. Bounds. I had a friend of mine who read that author and told me that basically, Bounds argument for prayer comes down to the fact that God tells us to pray, so we should.
Brown's book definitely doesn't not try to push prayer on the basis of commandment. I like the title, "Approaching God." When we think about prayer, a lot of things flood into our mind, such as eyes closed, hands folded, "thees" and "thous", King James English--which is unfortunate, because they hinder what prayer is really all about, approaching God and not being at a distance from Him. Brown challenges the reader to re-conceive the idea of prayer in more approachable terms.
He relates a time when he felt self-righteous in prayer; because of this, he considered not praying at all. However, he said God told him that while He can deal with self-righteousness, He can't deal with distance. What is it about you, your Christianity, or your prayer life that tempts you to stop? Whatever it is, God loves you and will deal with you on the matter, but He wants you to keep coming to Him no matter what the imperfection.
Another important point in the book is that prayer can take many forms, because prayer is merely communicating with God. You might pray in a traditional way; you might pray in the car; you might choose to write out a prayer. It's all ok! The important point, again, is that you are actually going to God in some way.
Brown encourages people to not shoot for long hours of prayer if they can't do it. He suggests that you set a time limit of, say, 5 or 10 minutes, that you must finish before. Only set a higher time limit when you get to the point that you absolutely can't stay within your current time limit any longer.
These principles strike at some Christians' legalism regarding your "walk with God." I can imagine one such person chafing at the idea of setting a time limit for prayer. Well, you have to start from where you are at. The heart of Christian sanctification is continually coming to the Lord "just as I am, without one plea." If you are a five-minute-a-day praying Christian, that's great! If you need to pray more, that's the Lord's job to grow you into that. If you are a little selfish and irreverent in your prayers, don't worry! God will, in His time, make you more unselfish and fill you with the awe of His glory. It is not your job to force yourself into rules and roles that you will only fail at in your own strength.

Resolving Chrome Slowdowns

Are you using Google Chrome and has it become intolerably slow now? Is Chrome always hanging up on webpages saying "Waiting for (page)" or "Waiting for cache"? Try the following steps until the problem is gone, making sure to restart Chrome after each step:

1. Wrench>Options>Under the Hood, uncheck "Help make Google Chrome better..." then restart Chrome
2. Wrench>Options>Personal Stuff>Clear Browsing Data, only check "Empty the cache" and then choose "Everything" from the dropdown, click "Clear Browsing Data"
3. (Windows) Wrench>Options>Under the Hood>Change Proxy Settings>LAN Settings and uncheck everything.
4. Wrench>Options>Under the Hood, uncheck "Use DNS pre-fetching..."
5. (Windows) Close Chrome, go into the Control Panel under Internet Options and then choose the "Advanced" tab, and click Reset. Allow it to reset everything.
6. Uninstall the AdBlock extension. Perhaps use AdThwart instead.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Rebounding Economy

So the economy seems to be getting better. Granted, America still doesn't make anything, and can't provide decent middle-class jobs for high school graduates without a college degree- this will bite us in the butt HARD one day. But with time and massive stimulus we seem to be going back to the status quo, more or less.
I have said before that I expected a double-dip. It is still a possibility, especially if government intervention/stimulus stops in 2010. If we don't have a double-dip by Jan 2011 it won't happen, at least not for another 3-4 years.
Here's what I mean. Most companies do quarterly reviews, but the big review is usually in January of every year, where they look back and see how they did the previous year, and adjust accordingly. Everything went crazy in 2008, and companies adjusted drastically in the first months of 2009 to compensate. (Many companies laid off sooner.) 2009 has been difficult- the word my own company used for it was "stale." Companies are seeing now, in Jan 2010, how poor 2009 was, and are adjusting downward again, even though things are on an upswing. (The difference this time is, the early 2009 adjustments were about survival; these early 2010 adjustments are about profitability.) 2010 is going to be a better year, and provided there are no major negative shocks to the system (quick end to gov't intervention, high spikes in fuel prices, etc.) companies in Jan 2011 will get the message and start expanding again, cautiously. If this happens, 2011 will be even better than 2010, and within the first few months of 2012 we will be out of the woods. It will still take a few years to drag unemployment back down, but the engine to get that done will be in gear and steaming along.
The recovery (to "status quo") is fragile. One can only cross their fingers.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Losing Your Home? Two Pitfalls to Avoid

I was unemployed for a long stretch in 2006-2007 and lost a house I had just purchased. Let me share with you two important points to remember if you find yourself heading for foreclosure. Mind these matters and you will truly be able to walk away free (more-or-less).

1. Eviction. Once the lender has set a foreclosure date, call them and let them know you plan to be out of the house by then. Get instructions for where to send the keys, and do this so that they receive them before that date. Lastly, remove all items from the house... do not leave anything behind. Presence of personal items can trigger legal eviction proceedings even if you have vacated the property.
This is important because even a dismissed eviction action (unlawful detainer) will show up on rental check reports for 7 years, and seriously imperil your ability to rent an apartment. Apartment management can get over bankruptcy and foreclosure if you have a paycheck, but even a dismissed eviction action will cause many managers to automatically reject you.

2. Foreclosure deficiency. Your lender will likely not be able to sell the house for what you owe. The difference is what you will still owe even after foreclosure, unless your state does not allow it. If you avoid foreclosure through deed-in-lieu or short sale, enlist some legal help to get the lender to agree to forgo or waive any foreclosure deficiency. If it goes all the way to foreclosure, you may be on the hook for this amount, even if the lender does not come after you right away. Call the lender after the foreclosure date and find out the amount the house sold for and the loan amount, so you know the amount of the deficiency. If it is beyond your ability to pay, you will need to file for bankruptcy to protect yourself.

This is a grim topic, but if you are in this predicament, dealing with these two issues properly will help you make the best out of a bad situation.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Welcome Chrome!

I have made to switch from Mozilla Firefox to Google Chrome. I am getting more speed and less bloat, which are always good things. Chrome is now on version 4, which allows you to install extensions to add new features to your browser. I had tried version 3 but without extension support I couldn't jump. Now I can and it's great! Chrome still has a little catching up to do. For instance, I can't right click and reload an individual frame in a webpage. I can't turn off animation for GIF images in a webpage. And while Chrome saves my passwords, I can't have it auto login with HTTP authentication (the password boxes that pop-up). But these are minor and add-ons will probably be written soon.
It made me think about the history of web browsers. The internet has been around for a long time but the web for much less, and it wasn't until 1994 that the web went mainstream. The popular browser was Netscape until 1999. Then it was Internet Explorer until 2004. Then it was Firefox, and I think the tide is now changing again to Chrome. At this rate we can expect Chrome to be overtaken by something even better in 2014/15. We will see.