Friday, August 31, 2007

Newborns in Trash Cans And Toilets... Why Are We Outraged?

I just read another story about a baby giving birth to a newborn and trying to kill it. This lady tried to flush her baby down the toilet at a McDonald's restaurant.

You can find the story here.

I find stories like this to be really sad. If she didn't want the baby, why didn't she drop the baby off at a fire station or a hospital? That seems to be the mantra of so many people that hear about stories like this. The answer, my guess is, lies at the heart of the abortion debate...

She didn't drop her baby off at the fire station or hospital for the EXACT SAME reason why someone would have an abortion rather than put their baby up for adoption.

When you ask someone why they would have an abortion rather than put their baby up for adoption, sometimes they'll reply with "oh, there are so many unwanted babies in the world!" Then if you press it further, bringing up information about how the waiting list is so long for people that wish to adopt newborn babies, and that there are virtually NO unwanted, healthy newborn babies out there (and most handicapped newborn babies get adopted as well) they often have another answer. My guess is that it's the same answer as the people that flush their babies down the toilet or throw them in dumpsters...

"I don't know how I could live with myself knowing that my child was walking around and I didn't know what kind of life they were living!" Or something like that.

There are so many people that say that they could never put a baby up for adoption, and that seems to be a common answer. Why it is better that someone is dead than put up for adoption, I don't know. I don't get it. Especially nowadays... with open adoptions you can pick the parent of your child, send them Christmas cards, etc.

I never really noticed the parallel between people who abort their babies and those who throw them in the trash before... but it seems so clear to me now. So now, the only other part of the equation is... why are we outraged when someone tries to flush their baby down the toilet, but don't share the same outrage when someone aborts a baby?

Something to think about.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Illegal Immigrants Are Leaving Arizona

An article in this previous Sunday's Arizona Republic talks about how the illegal immigrants in this state are beginning to leave Arizona, in anticipation of the crackdown on businesses that hire illegals that goes into effect on January 1st.

Although the law doesn't go into effect until January 1st, many small items of business have to be taken care of between now and then, which is why people are leaving now rather than waiting. Businesses are not supposed to knowingly employ illegal immigrants after this date, which means that if they know someone is here illegally, they have to let them go prior to that date. The immigrants themselves know that their jobs may be in jeopardy, so they are getting ready to leave now. Especially if they happen to own housing... the time to get the house on the market is now. It's not the best time to be selling because of the current housing slump, but the alternative of foreclosure is probably worse.

The article seems to have a somewhat pessimistic, the sky is falling attitude. Did anybody say that the short term consequences of this law were going to be easy? No. Sure some things are going to be tough. It's likely that there will be vacancies in the job market. All the immigrants leaving will also make the current housing slump a little worse. This is short term loss for a long outlook of gain.

The article almost makes me wonder why don't we let them stay? But then I started to ponder why they should go... and how if they were here legally things would be much different.

  • If all these people were here legally, we would know who was here. Seems like a no-brainer. We want to know who is here because of the big terrorism question. While the majority of our illegal immigrants are from Mexico and they're not a big terrorism threat, if Mexicans can sneak in the border, that means someone of any nationality that can get into Mexico, including terrorists from the Middle East, can get here.
  • If these people were here legally, they wouldn't be suppressing the wages of ordinary Americans. People always make the excuse that illegal immigrants are here "doing the jobs that Americans won't do" but that's not true. They do many jobs that Americans don't want to do under the working conditions that are imposed upon them. Many of these jobs are unsafe, unsanitary, or don't pay a decent wage. The employers know that they can get away with subjecting these employees to those working conditions, because illegals have nowhere to turn to complain. If they were here legally, that would change out of necessity.
  • They would pay the correct taxes if they were here legally. My husband used to work in a human resource company that did the payroll for many small companies, including many that hired illegals. While it is true that anybody that was employed and didn't work under the table had taxes taken out of their paychecks, the illegal immigrants would often claim a very high number of dependents so that very little money would be taken out.

If we need more workers here in this country, we need to increase the quotas and get more people here legally. If our country increases its quota of immigrants, then we can more evenly dole out the work visas to the people applying for them. Right now, if you are from Russia or Italy or Greece or Zimbabwe and want to come to this country, you get in line with all the other people applying to be given permission to live and work in this country, and you wait. If there were fewer people coming into this country illegally, we could allow more of these people that are waiting to come. Our country could choose the best candidates for work Visas, rather than have people barging in that may not be the best match for the job skills that we need.

Since Arizona is going to see some depopulation in the next few months, at least among the immigrant community, there will be some adjustments that need to be made, and some difficulties. But as the law of supply and demand work, eventually the market will work itself out.

Some advantages that we will see include less crowded schools, less crowded emergency rooms, and to some degree, less of a burden on social services. I do realize that illegal immigrants are not allowed to receive social services (as many realized this fall when they tried to return to the University system and realized that they were not eligible for in-state tuition), but many have children that are American citizens and can receive these services. While the government never likes to reduce taxes, with fewer people attending the schools, it might mean that it takes longer for the schools to ask for a new bond to build new buildings.

So while there might be some rough times in store for Arizonans, in the end it will be okay. Probably better even, IMO.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Homeschool, Grade Levels, and Dumbed-Down Education

What grade is your child in?

For most American families, there is an easy answer for this question. Their kids get up every day, get on the bus, and the school tells them what grade they are in. It's something along the lines of Kindergarten, first, second, and so on, all the way up to 12th grade. The children study with other children that are mostly within a year of their own age. They study the same grade level books for all of their classes. In some rare cases, a child might skip a grade, or a school might offer "gifted" classes where they might study a certain subject in a grade ahead of them.

For the homeschooling parent, this is a more involved question. My daughter officially started "Kindergarten" last year at age 4. Throughout that year, I came to the realization that it would not be a good thing to label her a year ahead of her peers, because I don't want to graduate her early, when she's 16 going on 17. I also wanted her in Sunday school classes with kids her own age, and when she gets to the age where she might be interested in entering competitions like the spelling bee or the geography bee, I don't want her arbitrarily assigned grade level to have her disqualified from competing several years before her peers. So for purposes of answering the question "what grade is your child in," she's going into grade K-5 this year.

But there's nothing "K-5" about her classes. Well, her music books say Kindergarten on the outside. But none of her other classes are designed for the Kindergarten child. She is doing first grade Bible, reading, and math classes (I wasn't sure about her reading level until recently, but she's shown me recently that she's reading at a level where I think she can handle the first grade course). Her history and science classes are grade 2, since she did grade 1 history and science last year.

I was thinking about this the other day. It sounds like she's advanced, but she's not a genius or anything. I think that probably half your 4 year old children could have done the work that she did last year. She completed Saxon Math K last year, which was so easy we ended up skipping some lessons. I'm not the only homeschool parent that finds Saxon Math K easy, either. Some of the lessons involve getting out teddy bear counters and playing with them. Towards the last half of the book I ended up skipping lessons very infrequently, and I don't think that I skipped any of the lessons in the last 2 or 3 months of classes last year... but in the first half of the year it was easy.

The reading that we ended up actually doing and completing is a workbook designed for 3-6 year olds. We also worked from the "Now I'm Reading" series, which also is geared towards young children, ages 4-7. She wasn't doing anything beyond her age level, as you can see.

Millions of parents around the country spend a lot of time immersing their children in a home full of learning. They buy alphabet toys for their children, have them practice workbook pages like the ones my daughter did, sit them in front of Sesame Street every day, and send them to preschools where they are taught their shapes, numbers, and colors. And then what happens to them when they turn 5 and go to Kindergarten?

They are taught letters of the alphabet, counting to 20, shapes, parts of the body, how to use the VCR and turn on a computer, and how to identify parts of the computer like the mouse, monitor, and keyboard. They basically start all over again. These are actual objectives from the elementary school district where I live, and I think that they are part of the state standards as well.

Do we wonder why kids get bored in school? Most of the children at Kindercare learn their shapes and colors before they get into the three year old room... then they are taught shapes and colors again when they get to Kindergarten. Most of the three year old children at Kindercare learn their letters... only to be taught it again in Kindergarten. Some parents spend more than $100 a month to have their child be tutored using the Hooked on Phonics program at Kindercare... they often learn how to read a little, and write many of their letters. But what good is it, when they are forced to start all over again once they reach Kindergarten?

I suppose that we have to start somewhere. In addition, teachers only have so much time with each student. But it doesn't do the children that have learned their numbers, letters, colors and shapes any good to have to relearn them all over again. Similarly, schools usually spend several weeks to more than a month at the beginning of each year, every year, reviewing what they learned the previous year. For students that have retained the information, it is mind-numbingly boring. That's how I felt, at least. I love to learn things... but learning the difference between nouns and verbs for several years in a row gets old after a while.

Children used to learn a lot more in school than they do now. There is a test floating around somewhere on the net that students had to take in the 1800s when they graduated from the 8th grade... most high schoolers and even many college students would have difficulty passing it. What did they do differently? Well, for one, they didn't teach about sex, drugs, and alcohol. They probably didn't waste too much time in school assemblies either. But the biggest difference was that those children were taught in a one-room schoolhouse. With all the grades mixed together, it allowed people to learn at their own ability level. I'm sure that Kindergarteners who already knew their shapes and colors didn't have to relearn it. People that remembered the difference between a noun and a verb didn't have to spend several weeks out of their year being taught it all over again.

My church has a Christian school attached to it. It has about 26 students or so. They only go to school 4 days a week. They get every Friday off. I only teach my daughter 4 days a week as well. We take Fridays off. Lots of homeschool families either take Fridays off, or they might only do reading and math on Fridays and skip the other subjects.

Perhaps the answer to our nation's educational woes isn't more money (which so far hasn't helped) but finding some way to allow children to develop at their own pace. We're really just wasting a lot of time for many children otherwise.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What Should We Do With Anchor Babies?

The subject of anchor babies has been in the news lately, as Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant known for taking sanctuary inside a Chicago church, has been recently deported. She has already been deported once, and has an 8 year old son, Saul. Saul is an American citizen, and his mother chose to leave him in the United States rather than take him back to Mexico with her.

Some people think that Ms. Arellano should have been allowed to stay in the United States, since she has a son that is a United States citizen. However, doing so would only encourage more people to come to the United States to have children, because doing so would give them a free path to living in the United States.

The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868, and was originally intended to give citizenship to all former slaves and children of slaves after the civil war. It was never intended that people desiring their children to have US Citizenship could just show up here and have children. A further unintended consequence of this law is that parents of these so-called "anchor babies" are more likely to be allowed to stay here.

I realize that Mexico isn't the greatest place to live, but then again, it certainly isn't the worst place in the world to live in. Iraq, anyone? How about Darfur? Maybe Ms. Arellano truly believes that having her son living away from her in Chicago while she lives in Mexico is the best life for him. It is also possible, that she is just having a snit in front of the cameras and trying to tell the world "poor me, I can't be with my son!" The truth is, she can be with her son, she just has to have him come to Mexico to be with her. As a US citizen, Saul would be free to return to the United States when he got older.

The whole concept of automatic citizenship for anybody born within a country's borders is not a universal principal. My daughter was born in Italy but she is a United States citizen, and does not have dual citizenship. She has both an Italian and an American birth certificate. That is probably a good thing, because there are some countries where children holding dual citizenship have problems if they ever decide to return to their country of birth. I can't remember what country it was, but one country required military service or something from all its citizens, and if a dual citizen ever came to visit, they would have to fulfill their obligations.

So what should we do with anchor babies? I think that we should amend the constitution to override the provision in the fourteenth amendment providing citizenship to anchor babies, for one. That would be a start. If we pass that law, we still have to deal with the anchor babies that we do have.

However mean it may sound, if the parents are supposed to be deported, they should be deported. Having a child should not usually be a consideration. I suppose there may be some extraordinary circumstances. Let's say a child was very ill or disabled and needed life-saving care that could not be provided in the country of origin. I'm not talking "oh there are no doctors that can treat my son's ADD in the country I come from" because a child is not going to die or anything near that because they don't get their ADD treated. But some children have heart conditions or other organ problems that can not be treated in certain countries. I might make an exception in that particular case. But in most cases, a child can live if they go with their parent to the parent's home of origin.

Military families are sometimes forced to leave their children with grandparents, friends, or other family members while they go off to serve in other parts of the world. These people are not being punished because they broke a law, rather they are making a sacrifice so that we can be safer. Ms. Arellano, like the military, left her child in another country after she was deported. Unlike the military, she had a choice to take her child with her. Also unlike the military, she is not leaving her child in another country because she is a law abiding citizen making a noble sacrifice... rather, she broke a law (more than one actually, she was working at the airport using fraudulent documents) and is suffering the consequences of it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

WhoIs Database: Dangerous?

My husband and I have had our own domains for several years. Today he looked up his domain on the WhoIs Database.

It's pretty scary. There you could find his name, address, etc. That's pretty scary. Especially when you consider that some people post controversial stuff up. Not everybody likes it when you say some Christian things (especially when you start talking about sins or telling people they're going to hell).

I don't know of any case where someone was assaulted or killed because of this information, but it could happen, and that's what's scary.

Dh has since put false information on our whois registry. In these days of identity theft, you never know.

Have Faith

I was doing some thinking today about recent events in my life. Since things are starting to look up, I can almost look back and think that it's funny. Really, so many bad things have happened recently that it's hard to believe it actually happened:

- Dh lost his job
- A few days after our health insurance ended, dd was in the hospital with a 105 degree temperature. Turned out to be an infection that we killed with antibiotics.
- We applied for state assisted health insurance (that we had lost when dh got the job that he just lost)
- Dh got a new job

- Haven't been approved for health insurance yet. Ds ends up in the hospital with dehydration and vomiting. He lost more than a pound in 1 day... the doctor had told us a couple of days before that she was worried about his weight and he was in less than the 3rd percentile.
- Get denied for health insurance because we didn't apply for food stamps and unemployment. Nobody in that system can keep up with our changing income, I guess. We reapply because we are still eligible with the new job.

- Dd apparently has a UTI. We ply her with cranberry juice as we are waiting for health insurance approval.
- Dd apparently has an ear infection. More cranberry juice.
- The transmission in our car goes out. We can still drive the car on the streets, but not on the freeway.
- The engine in our car goes out. We go get a new car.
- Dh loses new job.

- Dh gets new job.
- Dd apparently seems to still have UTI and ear infection. More cranberry juice.
- Dd seems to be suffering from temporary hearing loss due to ear infection. I google it on the internet and it seems that as soon as we can get the infection to go away, her hearing should come back.
- Health insurance approves us for our old income with old job (our rates will go down with new job). They approve dd, me and dh, but not ds. Coverage starts September first, but we can probably get eligibility backdated to pay for our stack of ER bills... at least for dd.

So most everything has been resolved. I'm sure if I bug them enough and call around enough, they will add my ds. I think why he's not covered right now is because he's under a year old so he needs coverage under a different program. I just need to squeak enough until they get him covered. I will be taking dd to urgent care on September 1st to get antibiotics for her ear infection.

This isn't a poor me story, but a story about how great God is. Throughout all of this, he has taken care of us. Not once did our cupboards even go remotely bare. I use The Grocery Game to make up my shopping lists, so we always have plenty of food in our house, even for the couple of weeks in this time period that we didn't have money to shop. We have made our mortgage payments on time, as well as the car payment. The electricity stayed on and so did the water and the sewer. He has been very good taking care of us. For the last few months, there have been some times when I've wondered how God was going to come through, and he always did.

We are all relatively healthy. We are alive and well. I am thankful for that. Of course, some people can not say that. Please continue to pray for Bingomama who lost 2 children and a husband or ex-husband last night in a fire.

God will take care of you if you put your trust in him. He has with us.

ID Theft Expected To Increase Because of New Law

Arizona passed a new law recently that should make most of us jump for joy. In order to get hired for a new job, employers have to search for your social security number in a federal database, and it has to match up with your name. This will probably have the effect of having fewer illegal immigrants get jobs, because right now it's quite easy to come up with fraudulent documents. This law goes into effect on January 1st.

That's the good news. However, the unintended consequence of this new law is that there may be more incidences of identity theft as a result of this law. People that want to work either have to do one of several things: work in another state, work under the table, or steal someone's identity. Working under the table will probably happen less often, because the penalty for hiring someone this way is quite stiff. They could lose their business license on the second offense.

So if you live in Arizona, make sure that you check your credit regularly. The AZ Republic, which had an article about identity theft in Sunday's newspaper, had a really good suggestion that I had never though of: instead of getting all three free credit reports at once, get your credit reports at different times of the year, and stagger them. That way you have less time between the times you check it. Don't forget to check your children's credit reports as well. My children have fairly unusual names so it's not as likely that people will want to use them, but you never can be too careful. Since this whole ID theft thing became common, I decided to check theirs at the same time I check mine and dh's.

One last thing I feel I should add: if you do have your identity stolen, you can clear it up. You don't need to hire anybody to do it for you, you can do it yourself. Some companies offer identity theft insurance... it isn't necessary, but whether you get it or not depends on you. Could you be organized enough to send out letters and follow through on them? Would you be willing to spend the time to write letters to creditors to clear up your identity? A few years ago, I did some work to repair my credit. There were some items that didn't belong on my credit report, some addresses on there where I had never lived, etc. I was able to get all the questionable items off my credit report, and so could you. I did have to send off a few Certified, Return Receipt Requested envelopes, which cost a little money, but not as much as it would cost me to pay for identity theft insurance for any meaningful time period. It took a little organization: I kept a portfolio with all my credit correspondence in it, I kept photocopies of all the letters I sent and all of my return receipt stubs. I followed up on people that did not respond. It wasn't that hard. If you need more information about clearing up credit for any reason, I recommend that you visit It is a very helpful resource, with sample letters and people that are willing to help answer your questions.

Life Is Short

Since I'm not playing Warcraft any more, I've been spending more time on Pogo. I joined a league and am playing in some tournaments in the league. It's a lot of fun.

Well tonight, I played against a lady called Bingomama (with some numbers after her name). A little later that evening, she started chatting with another person on our league. He reported to us that two of her children, ages 4 and 5, died in a fire tonight. Also either her husband or ex-husband (I couldn't figure out which) died in the same fire.

So hug your babies (if you have any) or your honey (if you have one) a little bit tighter tonight. You never know how much time you have with them. Even more important, if you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, make sure you get that figured out. Don't put it off. You don't know if you have another day.

If you have loved ones that are not saved, talk to them as well. Life is short.

And please pray for Bingomama and her much-smaller family at this time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More Reasons I Love Homeschool

My dh is starting college this fall at Arizona State University. Friday they had a special welcome student day, with an evening barbecue. We decided to take dd and ds and drop them off at grandma's so we could go. While we drove over there, we noticed the school bus dropping off kids. Since dd is now Kindergarten age, I just had to make a mental note that if dd was in school, we would have had to wait for her to get home from school before we could head out.

Dh starts his new job tomorrow. He has three weeks of paid training, and then he will be working from Tuesday to Saturday. In order to maximize the kid's time with daddy, we're doing school from Tuesday to Saturday as well.

When my ds was born last fall, we took a week off the week before he was born because I was just too tired to teach, and we took the week that he was born off as well. Even though I had hospital appointments twice a week for the last couple of months, we still managed to have school four days a week (we have park days every Friday, and will continue to have park days on Fridays even though we'll be doing school on Saturday). We had school at the park and at the library. Our two weeks off when the baby was born was our fall break. Most of the schools around here have fall break... I don't remember having them when I was a kid, then again we never started in the beginning of August either. We will probably not take fall break this year. We took spring break the week that my parents came to visit.

Of course there are some advantages to regular school. I have to actually do the work of teaching, for one... although I like that job. I don't get a break during the day like schooling parents. But then again, I don't have to spend my evenings checking up on homework like schooling parents either. I will probably assign independent work (it's all homework, right?) and assigned reading when dd is older, but I will still know what she is supposed to be doing. But I like my flexibility and the ability to change things on a whim if I have to.

I was thinking the other day about all the school options available now. Back when I was a kid there was public school, private school (which was a little weird), and a few people homeschooled (but that was really out there). Now we have more acceptance for private and home schooling, charter schools, public school charter schools where students learn at home, public school courses where children spend most of the day at home, and private homeschool coops where children go to private school a couple days a week (where all parents volunteer) and spend the rest of the days homeschooling. Even though not all educational establishments are passing with flying colors, at least we have more choices.

I'm signing up my dd for soccer this fall. Should be an interesting experience for her. Since most of my time right now is spent with family and church members, it will be interesting to spend time with some people who are outside that circle.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stock Market Turmoil: Could This Lead To Something Big?

I've been watching with interest the volatile stock market for the past week or so. Some people are getting a little nervous. Some are selling off their stock and losing money, others are picking up bargains and may or may not end up making money long term. This is all on top of a housing market that is quickly losing steam, banks making it harder to borrow money for a house, and people stuck in adjustable rate mortgages with rising payments.

For those without God, this could be a scary time. I suppose that I might be a little worried too, if I didn't know that God was in control. My husband starts his new job on Monday. Starting a new job in a time with an uncertain economy has it's natural risks... although we didn't really have a choice since he lost his last one due to cutbacks.

I personally don't think that America is mentioned in Revelation or any of the prophetic passages of the Bible. There is a passage somewhere about an eagle getting it's wings clipped or something along those lines, but that's the only one that I can think of, and that's not pretty. I know that some people think that America and Babylon are one and the same, but my opinion is that Babylon is actually Babylon... that city in Iraq. I don't think that God would use the name of an actual city if he really meant something else. Feel free to disagree with me, it's not a matter of salvation or anything else of vital importance.

America itself seems to be in a perilous time. There are so many countries in the world that hate us for one reason or another. That wouldn't bother me so much, if our country wasn't in such moral decay. Sometimes it's difficult to even discern right and wrong, even with reading your Bible and going to church on a regular basis. There are games and books out there that aren't the most wholesome, it's so easy to steal songs over the internet, even just going to the mall for tennis shoes leaves you bombarded with images that it's better not to see. Earlier this year, I was reading through Leviticus, I noted with particular interest chapter 18, which lists all these sins, saying that the land will vomit one out for these sins. The whole chapter easily described our country. Could America be in trouble for its sins?

Me and my husband have discussed moving to Australia. It's a nice enough country, that doesn't seem to be like the Roman Empire in its state of decline. I spent 5 weeks there in 1997 and it seemed like a second home to me... I have been fond of it ever since. It's quite expensive to just pack up and move to another country, so for financial reasons, God has told us we can't go right now. Perhaps we will not ever go.

I do not wish ill on my country, but I try to prepare in case we do see a downfall. I stock up on nonperishable food, a little at a time. You never know when you might have to be quarantined to your house during a bird flu epidemic, or the economy goes haywire and food becomes an expensive luxury.

But most of all, I try to prepare mentally for the possibility of the tide of prosperity turning in America. I try to keep in mind that God is in control, and no matter what happens in this life, it is only temporary and better things await for those that love God. I try to realize how fortunate I am right now... to have enough to eat, a place to stay, a nice computer, great kids. I try to enjoy the blessings now, and not take them for granted. I try to think of all the Christians around the world today, and throughout history, who were killed or forced into hiding for their faith. God helped them through the worst circumstances we can imagine... if we are ever put in a situation like that, I try to trust (and pray) that God would give me the strength to deal with it.

So I watch the stock market with interest. I don't wish for it to drop (especially since I have an inheritance that is bound up in Microsoft stock), but I realize that God has a plan for this country, for good or for bad, and he is in control.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chinese Recalls: How Can You Even Avoid Their Products?

I saw that there were even more recalls of Chinese products. This time it's Barbie toys or something like that. It's getting to the point where you really can't trust anything. Some people on a homeschool forum I go to was asking whether or not you let your babies suck on their toys. Well, it's kind of a natural thing for babies to want to put toys in their mouth... kinda hard to do.

Anyway, I went high chair shopping yesterday. We've been feeding our baby in his swing, and now that he's eating more table food, we thought it was about time. They had some really nice high chairs, most of them are adjustable and have these really cool trays that you can put the food on and take off to wash. We got the Rainforest one with this monkey toy that they can play with while they're sitting there waiting for you to finish getting their dinner ready.

While we were at Babies R Us looking at high chairs, we looked at all the boxes to find out where these high chairs were made. Made in China. Made in China. Made in China. Every single high chair at Babies R Us was made in China. Even the wooden ones. What have we as a society gotten into?

There is a much greater problem with finding all these products made in China than the fact that there are so many getting recalled. What if our relationship with China sours? What will we do then?

We depend on China so much, for almost everything. Obviously high chairs. Toys. A lot of our clothes. Even things like tires, baby food, and pet food have been recalled lately, so I guess that some of those things are made in China as well. What would we as a country do if one day we woke up and all trade with China was cut off? Not a pretty picture.

Why can't we make more things in America? There are so many people fed up with the toy recalls lately, I think that there is a growing segment of the population that would be willing to pay a little more to buy something made in America. Not only could we oversee the standards that the products were made with, but we could also help out local workers. These workers in turn go out and buy more products, keeping our economy humming.

I'm really tired of companies outsourcing jobs to India and other places. I once tried to validate a Microsoft product and I got India. Most of the people were nice enough, but this guy was breathing heavily into the phone and it was driving me bonkers. Maybe I just ended up with a rare gem, but maybe that's a cultural thing and is okay there? I know that the Indians have to work too, but I'm not so sure that working 3rd shift over there to answer calls during US business hours is great for their family structure over there.

I'd much rather talk to an American. By the way, if you are looking for someone to host your web site and would like to have an American answer the phone, please consider giving your business to I know they hire American, because my husband just got a job there and starts on Monday. They have tons of American people working in their call centers, web designers, etc. They seem like a good group of people who treat their people well, so at least look into them if you need web hosting.

Enough of that commercial. I really do find it disappointing that we can't find some company that will make toys that children want to play with (my daughter does not want to play with a corn cob doll, thank you) in America. Not only does it make us feel better to support Americans, it also makes us feel safer when it comes to things like lead paint, the company could still get products to us no matter what happened with our relationships with other countries.

Not to mention, the likelihood of buying a product made in America made by a prisoner who was sent there because of his religious beliefs is slim to none. Can't guarantee that with China. But that's another post.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In A Stop Snitchin' Culture, Those Who Talk Are Brave

In certain segments of society, there is a "Stop Snitchin'" code. That is, if you see a crime happening, you shouldn't talk to the police, or "snitch." This leads to a very low percentage of crimes, even murders, being solved. Even murders where there might be 25, 50 witnesses.

I can see why some people might be distrustful of police. I for one, don't really believe in giving any stranger my blind allegiance just because of their job. There are corrupt cops out there, just like there are unjust judges that make egregious decisions. My husband grew up in the inner city area of Los Angeles, and even though he's never gotten into trouble outside of a few traffic/parking infractions, he certainly does not have an affinity for them.

You have a segment of society that is afraid to speak out if they witness a crime. People like rapper Cam'ron say that they wouldn't even tell the police if they knew that a serial killer was living next door. ??? I think that he later said it was a joke or something, but some joke. This is not a society that I want to live in, where anybody can get away with murder and the only type of justice is vigilante justice.

Busta Rhymes witnessed the murder of Israel Ramirez, but has refused to cooperate with police to bring justice to the killer. And of course Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were both murdered where there should have been plenty of people that could have testified. Somebody knows what happened in all three of these killings.

Someone like Cam'ron, if they "snitched", could lose their street credibility, lose some record sales, and perhaps have people call them all sorts of mean names or even write nasty songs about them. These sorts of consequences aren't exactly trivial to them, but to me it speaks of a great cowardice to not do the right thing in order to avoid losing record sales and being mocked. Either that, or great selfishness.

The average person might suffer worse consequences for snitching. Someone might try to take revenge. They might lose their friends. It's not an easy thing for them either.

Heroism and bravery isn't making a rap album talking about how great you are. Heroism and bravery is not making a lot of money, or being adored by millions. Doing what is right, no matter what the consequences, makes someone a hero. It is within the realm of the brave.

I'm not a fan of Curtis Jackson, A.K.A. 50 Cent. I don't care for his music. But he did supposedly cooperate with a police investigation, despite the fact that as a result he's had derogatory songs written about him. Maybe he lost record sales as a result. I don't know too much about him in other areas, so I can't comment on anything else, but his action in this instance was a form of bravery.

When I was pregnant with dd, there was a drive-by shooting outside my mother-in-law's house, where I was staying at the time. The first thing that I remember happening was there was a rattling on our door, as if someone was trying to get in the house (it was locked, fortunately). Then we heard some commotion and the gunshots. We didn't look out the windows to see what was going on, that would have been foolish on our parts. So we didn't really have anything to say to the police other than what I just wrote here. But we did say what we knew. And there were people there who saw what happened. I hope that they talked.

Snitches don't talk either because they have a mixed up sense of right and wrong, or they are cowards. In a subculture where snitching is seen as a form of selling out and is strongly frowned against by friends and neighbors, those that do talk show true bravery.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are Modern Psychology and Witchcraft Related?

This sermon on Harry Potter has a lot of good information in it. It's two hours long, but I really enjoyed it and learned some things.

Anyway, one of the things that Dr. Scott Johnson, the preacher who gave this sermon, went over was some quotes about why kids loved Harry Potter. Much of what the kids said went along these lines... "if I could go to Wizard School and be like Harry Potter, I could make my friends, parents, and teachers do what I wanted to do."

The whole sermon, along with another sermon my pastor gave the week after I listened to this one, got me thinking. Why do people practice witchcraft? I'm not a witch, nor did I conduct a poll of witches to get accurate scientific data, but from observation, it seems like people practice witchcraft because they want to have some control over their surroundings. It may be for good reasons... maybe they want good luck or want to find love. I'm willing to guess that most practicing witches do so with good intentions.

Another word that I thought about that I find to be related is manipulation. People practice witchcraft because they want to manipulate their environment. They want to manipulate the man of their dreams to love them. They want to manipulate their surroundings to achieve their objectives. Rather than wait on the Lord, seek out his will, whatever it may be, and be content with the answer.

Most Christians know that God forbids witchcraft.

As far as I know, he doesn't forbid any of the following like he does witchcraft. But I wonder if our attitudes towards these ideas may add to the general acceptance of witchcraft.

  • Self-help and other modern psychological practices. "How To Win Friends And Influence People". The other day I was listening to somebody say that you can get your husband to do stuff like taking out the garbage by flattering him into it... or in other words, manipulating them into it. A lot of parenting is done this way nowadays. Get your child to eat their peas by turning them into a pea boat. Get your kids to behave at the grocery store by bribing them with treats if they're good. In other words, manipulation.
  • Word Of Faith, Name-It-And-Claim-It preaching. Just have enough faith and your bank account will be full in no time. If you have enough faith, you'll always be healthy and nothing bad will ever happen to you. If you say a prayer the right way with enough faith, and maybe send the preacher some "seed money" God will bless you out your ears. So does that mean that Chinese Christians lack faith? What about Job? While God often answers prayers, he also has a perfect will and sometimes his will forces you to go through trials. Word Of Faith, I'm afraid, seems to me to be a way of trying to manipulate God into doing what you want him to do, rather than what he wants to do.
  • The Secret. If you just think good thoughts, just think about the life you want, you will attract the good things that you want. Isn't this just another form of manipulation?

God has a will and it will be done. I'm not sure if manipulating anybody is really necessary.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Homeschooling: I Guess It's Final Now

Yesterday, me, dh, dd, and baby ds went swimming over at my mil's house. At around 3:30, I heard the school bus dropping off kids. Wow, did school start already?

So today, just for fun, I decided to find out what would my dd be doing if she weren't being homeschooled. To see how the other half lives, I guess. I looked at the map to find out what elementary school she would be attending, and then went to their web site and looked at their calendar.

Kindergarten orientation was last week. Schools started on Wednesday. So our fun day spent swimming and enjoying life would have been impossible.

Since her peers have already registered for school and are already attending, it all seems so final now. I suppose that we could change if we wanted to (not that I do), but we are officially in the realm of being a homeschool family, rather than a family that spends time at home doing school work for fun. This is real now.

I did discover that the school I thought my dd would attend if she were in Public School is not the underperforming one that I thought that we lived in the boundary of. Our school district is actually one that is above standards or whatever terminology NCLB uses to describe a good school. That's good, I suppose. If we ever want to move somewhere else, I guess that's a selling point.

I downloaded the kindergarten curriculum from the site to see what they expected to learn. After a year of homeschooling full time last year, dd has most of it down. Some of it is downright simple, like identifying human body parts like the head, shoulders, knees, and toes... identifying components of a computer like keyboard, monitor, mouse. This one is funny... start and shut down basic technology like computers, tape recorders, VCRs. What child of today that isn't either impoverished or Amish doesn't know how to use that stuff? My daughter has been able to find her favorite TV shows on the Tivo for a year now, lol. Since we're in the big time now, I suppose I should go through this and make sure that she knows everything in it by the end of the year. I can already check off most of it.

Dd will still be on her summer vacation until September 5th. Last year we started on August 22 and finished on May 10th. So we've been on break for a while. But don't think that we've been slacking. Just today, we practiced one-to-one correspondence, music (sang three songs), read several sentences, drew pictures, categorized pictures as to whether they belonged in the sky, land, or water, wrote the numbers from 36 to 40, figured out how many dimes we'd need to pay for things, matched upper and lowercase letters, found hidden pictures, and figured out the beginning sounds for pictures. This is our vacation schedule!

So while we, as a homeschooling family, might be playing at the pool while all of her peers are in school, I shouldn't feel too guilty, because learning gets done even in the summer. And in a few weeks we'll be studying our six subjects a day just like everyone else. But then again, it only takes a few hours a day to do all our work, so you might find us out at the pool anyway.

I love being able to homeschool. Which is a good thing, because I'm not just playing homeschool any more.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Living With Regret

I have a friend who lives with regret. I'll call him John (not his real name). Years ago, he was married to the love of his life and he didn't realize it. He was a little lazy, took things for granted, and she left him.

Fast forward nearly 10 years in time. They both remarried and moved on with their lives. John loves his wife... I think... but he's not extraordinarily happy. They really don't have too much in common... she doesn't get into his hobbies, and he goes along unwillingly to a lot of her activities just to keep her from nagging. If he had the opportunity, he'd probably have an affair.

He found his ex-wife on recently. The guy that she's married to is quite well off, and she still enjoys all the same things that they used to do together. I'm pretty sure that John still loves her. I know for a fact that he regrets not getting his act together back then and keeping her.

I'm worried that John might end up with another regret in his life. He's one of those people that is probably saved, but still wants to live like the world. He doesn't understand why people would spend every Sunday morning in church. He wants to look at the ladies at the mall and lust after them. He's an overall good guy, although a worldly one.

My husband has tried to talk to him, convince him that God wants more for his life than just living and partying. He tells John that if he doesn't change how he's living, he'll end up with a shack in Heaven, when he could have a much bigger house or mansion. John doesn't care. He has his fire insurance policy to keep him out of hell, and that's all he wants.

It's hard to think of this life as the temporary and ridiculously short span of time that it is. But if you think of the 100 (if you have a long life) years or so of life that you may end up with on this Earth, it is such insignificant in the grand scheme of things. In 1000 years, do I want to look back on this life and regret that I wasted so much time? I'm sure that I will to some degree, but I do try to put a little bit of effort to live a good life and do what Jesus wants. In 10,000 years, 100 years on earth is going to seem like a couple months do now. In 1,000,000 years, or 1,000,000,000,000 years, or even a google years from now (that's 1 with 100 zeros after it that I'm talking about, not the search engine)... we'll still be around. What we do today will seem so insignificant, but the time that we waste or live displeasing to God will make a difference in eternity.

I'm sure that Heaven will be great for anyone who ends up there, but will some of us have regrets there? There is no upward mobility in Heaven, and it is for all eternity. In this life you can't control what hand you are dealt. Probably everyone reading this blog is lucky enough to live in a country where many people have computers and almost everyone has electricity. Some people might be rich by their country's standards, some may be poorer. Maybe you were dealt a hand where you are ill all the time. Maybe your parents abused you. Maybe you were born with a brilliant mind and everything always seems to go your way. You can't control those things. That's the hand that God has assigned to you.

What you can control, however, is what hand you will be dealt in eternity. We can't all be missionaries to Uganda. Not every one of us can be a famous preacher. Not all of us can anonymously donate a building to a church. But we can all seek out God's will and do it. What we do today... whether we do what God asks us to do... will determine how we live for all eternity. I think that if God is a fire insurance policy and nothing more, we may have some regrets in the end. Just like my friend does in this life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This Makes My Blood Boil

Have you heard the story about the firefighters suing the city of San Diego?

Evidently, they were ordered to march in a gay pride parade, against their will. They were ordered to go to the parade, and were made to believe that if they did not comply, they would be fired or suspended.

While at the parade, some of the spectators taunted the firemen with vile sexual comments. This article goes more into that. Also there were anti-homosexual demonstrators, thinking that the firefighters were going along willingly, who were making negative comments towards them as well.

This whole situation makes me so angry, I just want to spit. Not at the firefighters, but at the people that thought that they had the right to force someone else's morality like this. And not only that, but putting them into a situation where it was likely that people would make comments like the ones they heard. I hope they win big time. If I was on the jury, this is one case where I'd feel like awarding the big bucks. Normally I think that juries award way too much.

I don't think that I could have marched in that parade, no matter what my boss said. I would have probably disobeyed the order, allowed them to fire me, and then I'd sue their pants off for religious discrimination. But I really can't blame these firefighters for wanting to keep their jobs and doing what they were told. I feel so bad for them. I really hope that they win in court.

Don't know what the world is coming to these days. Some days you just want to pray for the rapture.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

All Day Kindergarten

The Arizona Republic reported that nearly every school in Arizona is offering free all-day kindergarten. For the most part, the article seemed quite positive. However, I tend to be against all day kindergarten. I think that it is a bad thing for our state.

For most of the article, the AZ Republic went on and on about how 1/2 day kindergarten did not allow time for children to learn things like reading, etc. How 1/2 day kindergarten was mostly just play time, blah blah blah. But then halfway through the article, I found this little quote:

a recent Rand Corp. study said the nearly 8,000 students enrolled in all-day classes did not score higher in either math or reading when they were in fifth grade compared with students who had not gone to all-day kindergarten.

The education of a child is a long-term process. So if the long term results make no difference, then why do my tax dollars have to pay for it? While it is likely that all day kindergarteners will have better reading skills in first grade, it evens out in the end. So why do we have it? Why do we have to pay for it?

I'm guessing that the hidden agenda behind all of this is that parents don't want to pay for half day day care, when they can pay for before and after school care instead. I worked in a day care, and I know that there is a significant cost difference. Hey, if you can get someone else to pay for your kids day care, it's a great deal, right! It costs taxpayers about $8000 per student to send them to public school, as opposed to $7040 to send them to Kindercare full time for 40 weeks at $176 a week. Never mind that many Kindercares have accredited Kindergartens in them, and include breakfast, lunch, and snacks... let's pay more to send them to public school instead.

Parents still can send their kids to half-day kindergarten... for now. But I'm guessing that that option is likely to go away in the future. The AZ Republic points out all the benefits of all day kindergarten:

  • Students get more personal attention from their teacher. And less personal attention with mommy at home.
  • They can practice writing more. Which I guess is something they can't do at home with mom?
  • They will develop better social skills. Myth. Children do not need to spend all day out of the home with other children of the same age to develop social skills. How often do you go to work and only work with people of your same age? While it probably helps to get the kids out of the house regularly so they can meet people and make friends, it needn't happen in an all day school setting. 1/2 days work just as well. Besides, after working at Kindercare for 2 years and watching children move from the 2 year old room to the 4 year old room... the children that were shy at 2... are the same children that are shy at age 4. Same goes with the outgoing, popular kids.
  • Teachers can integrate instruction for all subjects And they can't do that in 1/2 a day? I spent 2 hours or less every day teaching my 4 year old, and I would often integrate her classes. It's just a matter of planning and using curriculum that works well together.
  • Children can make better use of school resources, such as libraries and art rooms. Nevermind that many schools had to cut art out of the curriculum because of the lack of money. I'm guessing that some of the libraries might not be so hot either.

I suppose with all-day kindergarten they will have more time to teach classes like sex ed, read stories like Heather Has Two Mommies, Daddy's Roommate, or King and King. And they will have more time to read the children stories about dinosaurs that begin something like "Billions of years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth." Evolution fairy tales begin at the preschool level, I'm afraid.

My daughter is 5. And no, she will not be going to all-day kindergarten. I will be sending her 1/2 days to (my last name) Christian Academy, where she will learn Bible, music, math, reading, history and science, all in less than 3 hours a day. Can she learn that much in only 1/2 days? Yes she can! Today my daughter read the writing on her baby brother's shirt, "zoo pals." Something she learned at the lastname Christian Academy last year. And we only have lessons 4 days a week, allowing us to have park day and field trips every Friday. I'm planning one field trip prior to the start of school... I hope to arrange for her and my nephew to visit the fire station prior to a lesson that I will be teaching on firemen.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sin Is Like...

A person who sins is like a baby in a dirty diaper. We all do it, but God still loves us anyway, even though sin makes us stink to God. When we cry out to Him for help, He changes us, and removes the filth from our lives. Then we do not stink any more. Until we sin again.

Been changing a lot of poopy diapers lately, and thought of that. Whenever my little boy has a messy diaper I still love him. I don't get rid of him because he stinks, I clean him up and give him a new diaper.

I Stopped Playing World of Warcraft

Today I said goodbye to my World of Warcraft characters. Probably forever.

It makes me quite sad. I started playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) in 1998, when my husband introduced me to Ultima Online. That was a fun game... I still remember the music, exploring the world, my cute little character. I had a little house that I decorated. I had a treasure hunter who would get treasure maps, go find the coordinates, and dig up treasure. I had a miner that would go out into the mountains and mine gold and other ores. I had a tailor that would make clothes. I even had a character named Jesus Christ who dressed in robes and was a carpenter.

Then we started playing Dark Age of Camelot when we lived in Italy. Since we lived overseas, we had my mother-in-law pick the game up and ship it to us international express mail so I could get the character names I wanted. We had a great time playing this game as well... most of my Ultima Online friends played this game with me as well.

I was planning on not playing any more MMORPGs after this, until my husband started playing World of Warcraft. I initially didn't play this game, but then he really wanted to play with me so he offered to buy me the game. So I tried it. Again, it was a lot of fun. I loved exploring the world, getting to level 70 with one of my characters, going into the dungeons and getting great armor...

So what made me stop? That darned conscience of mine. The whole witchcraft aspect. In Warcraft they have a Warlock class, who can have a pet known as a succubus... an S&M type demon character that helps fight for you. I never had one of those as I saw the obvious parallels to demons with that one. And I didn't really play a rogue, as I thought it was wrong to play a character that glorifies stealing.

Almost every class involved some sort of magic. Mages cast spells as their main source of damage. Clerics and priests cast both healing and damage spells. Hunters cast trap spells and spells to heal their pets. The warriors didn't really cast any spells, but they would drink potions and use spell scrolls to make themselves stronger.

Then there's the whole killing aspect. You had to kill to get treasure, to gain experience. Most of the creatures that you killed were monstrous, but then you'd go out and kill wolves or bears for some quests as well. That aspect struck me as well.

So I was going to not get involved in any more MMORPGs. But then I thought about the game some more... and I got scared. Could playing this game, knowing that there was witchcraft involved, be seen by God as sinful? Was my refusal to give this up a sin that I was not willing to repent of?

Most Christians know that adultery is a sin. But Jesus says that if you look at someone that you are not married to with lust, that is the same thing as committing adultery. Most Christians also know that witchcraft is a sin. The Bible says:

Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

~ Galatians 5:19-21

I started thinking... if lusting after someone is the same as committing adultery, because you are imagining committing adultery... is imagining that you are casting spells the same thing as committing witchcraft? The Bible says that people involved in sorcery do not inherit the kingdom of God... clearly that is something that someone should repent of, and not willfully do. What if I died today, or the rapture happened? What if I got before Jesus and he said "depart from me, I know you not" because I refused to repent of the sin of witchcraft by continuing to play these games?

I was scared. I know that we are saved through faith in Christ, and it is not through our own works that we get to Heaven. However, are people that continue willfully in a lifestyle of sin truly saved? Perhaps, I am not God. I don't know who is saved and who is not saved. I know that there are people that believe that all you have to do is say a prayer and "ask Jesus into your heart." But what about the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said that he followed the 10 commandments... when Jesus told him to go sell everything that he had to inherit the kingdom of God, he walked away sad, because he was not willing to give up his riches for Jesus. If it was a prayer that got your name written into the Lamb's Book Of Life, why didn't Jesus run after him and say "wait! All you have to do is ask me to come into your heart!" No, he did not do that.

Jesus said "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses himself, or is cast away?" (Luke 9:23-25) God doesn't want just an hour of our lives on Sunday morning. He wants us to live for him all the time.

But I'm rambling a little. There is a lot that I don't understand. I know that people have different beliefs on how you get saved. It's hard for my finite mind to understand fully. However, I do know this: eternity is an awfully long time. What would happen if I continued to play MMORPGs, casting spells with my characters, and then I found out that by doing so and not repenting, I was keeping myself from inheriting the kingdom of God? I can't say for sure. But as I thought on those things, I decided that I would not take the chance. I didn't want to put it off until November when my account that I paid for ran out. When people of the New Testament times gave up their witchcraft books, they burned an extraordinary amount of spellbooks. I'm sure that it probably hurt them to think of how much $$$ was being burned, but they did it because that was what they thought was right.

MMORPGs are very popular. I know why they are... they are fun. Daniel says that the Antichrist will cause craft to prosper... meaning witchcraft, not doily making. In Revelation the Bible specifically mentions that people did not repent of their sorceries. Which in the Greek is pharmakeia, which can also be translated as drugs... perhaps the Bible means both. But I'm sure that the popularity of books like Harry Potter, and the popularity of spellcasting in MMORPGs, is no accident.

It was a very hard decision for me to give up this game that I love. I have a lot of good memories with these games. It took me years to make this decision to give them up. But my conscience is now lighter.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Talking To Kids About Tragedy

Today Way Of The Master Radio was talking a little bit about responses to the bridge collapse. I guess some psychologists were talking on the radio, saying that you need to shield your kids from this sort of thing so that they don't get scared.

I've never really had that mentality with my daughter. She is now 5. During Hurricane Katrina, I didn't try to hide what was going on from her. I turned the television to Fox News, told her that some people might be hurt, and that we needed to pray for them.

I've always considered bad things happening to be a springboard for further discussion. Not to scare her, but to let her know how to behave. We were watching television once and they had a report about a guy looking at little girls in an inappropriate manner while they were at Toys R Us. It was an opportunity to remind her that nobody should ever touch her where her bathing suit goes, unless they are a doctor and they're supposed to be looking there (or someone is changing a baby's diaper).

So when the bridge collapsed, I didn't turn the channel when she was in the room. For the most part she is disinterested, and that's fine. As much as she's aware, I'm not going to hide it from her. Yesterday I asked her about who made the bridge collapse... "God" was her answer. It didn't seem scary to her, and if she asked me "why would God kill those people" I would have an answer for her... that everybody has a choice of whether they want Jesus to be their savior or not, and those that believe will go to Heaven.

If we don't let our children know that bad things happen sometimes, how are they supposed to know how to deal with them when they do happen? How are they supposed to learn not to put their hand on the stove if we don't let them know that it is hot and scary, or that walking out in the middle of the road is dangerous? When scary things happen, why not use it as a springboard to teach them? Children are not stupid. If we as adults are acting like something is amiss they will pick up on it.

My daughter looks forward to Heaven. She knows that one day Jesus is coming back, and that he might come back any day. She knows that the worst that can happen is if she died she would go to Heaven, which is better than Disneyland.

Hansel and Gretel, on the other hand, scares her. So I don't read it to her. Evidently imaginary witches living in candy houses in the middle of the forest = scary, collapsing bridges... not so scary.

More Chinese Recalls

This time it's toys. There are many that have been manufactured with lead paint.

If you want to check to see if your child's toys are affected, you can check with this link.

I've written on China and all the recalls that have been coming out of there lately, so I don't think I need to rehash everything I already wrote. Follow the recalls tags to read my other commentary.

In a way, we are reaping what we are sowing in terms of who manufactures our products. Not that us regular people really have a choice where products are made, but we as a society kept buying toys even though they stopped making them in the US. We keep buying these toys and products even though we hear that the people making them are hardly paid anything, and some of the products are even made by prisoners.

Do we really expect top quality from people that are being paid $.50 a day? I guess it's something to think about.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Some of you may recognize today's title with a sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards in 1741. If you would like to read it, I am including both a link to the sermon in html and in pdf format. When it was originally preached in 1741, people were crying out to God. It caused quite a stir. Just the fact that people remember this sermon more than 250 years later says a lot about it.

The bridge collapse yesterday made me think of this sermon. Not because it made me think of how we are sinners... although we are all sinners. Not because God isn't angry at us... although he is. I don't think that the bridge collapsing really has anything in particular to do with the fact that we're sinners, or that he's angry, any more than my daughter waking up with a sore neck this morning had anything to do with us being sinners or that he's angry. Maybe it did, but I do not know the mind of God, it's not in my place to say why it happened. In Jesus' day, 18 people died when a tower collapsed. He remarked to the people of his day that the people in the tower were not worse sinners than anybody else. It was just something that happened.

The tragedy yesterday reminded me of "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" because of how Jonathan Edwards talked about the suddenness of how our lives end. How God keeps us alive not because we deserve it, but because He is so good. But it is also up to Him to decide when our lives will end. People who are unsaved are kept from the pit of hell on a thread so fragile... if God decides that it is time for them to go, there is nothing they can do to fight it. We might be able to fight a King... usually without success however... but there is nothing that we can do to fight God. We are just worms in his sight.

I reread parts of the sermon last night... it's really long so it's hard to read the whole thing all at once. But his description of hell and wrath really struck me. I found it a little scary.

We have to think of:

  1. Whose wrath it is. Wow. If my baby gets mad at me because I won't let him roll over on the changing table or chew on electric wiring... who cares, he's powerless. If my 5 year old gets mad at me because I won't let her eat candy for dinner, still not a big deal. If my husband gets mad at me, he can make me feel bad. If I get caught speeding and I make the police angry because I curse at them, they might throw me in jail. If I assaulted the president and he is angry, I'll get in even more trouble. How much more serious is it that GOD is angry with us?
  2. The fierceness of God's wrath. I'm a person, so I really don't understand God's goodness too much. But I suppose if I made someone, gave him life, gave him air to breathe and food to eat, gave him friends, clothes, a nice bed to sleep in, and in America wonderful little gadgets like televisions and computers... if I was God... and I was good, and I made someone and gave him all those things... and in return he broke all my laws, used my name as a curse word, hated me with a venomous passion, hated the people that loved me... I think that I would be torqued. And since I am not good and can not understand how good God is... I can't understand how fierce his anger is at us as a society (and everyone in the world, for that matter). I'm thinking that it's probably pretty bad though.
  3. The misery that people in hell suffer. I don't understand how powerful God is... but I know that it only took 6 days to create the Heavens and the Earth. If it only took 6 days to create the universe... that we in the thousands of years that humankind has been on earth have only begun to explore and barely understand... I do not want to even come near to imagining the misery of people in hell. It's scary to even think about.
  4. The wrath is everlasting. One person made this analogy about Heaven: if a bird picked up a grain of sand and flew that grain of sand to the nearest star, and then came back and picked up another grain of sand and carried it to the star again (and so on) until every last piece of dirt on earth was transplanted on the star, we wouldn't even be getting ready for breakfast yet. We would just be getting started in Heaven. Likewise, the people in Hell will just be getting started as well. They have no hope of ever escaping. No matter how old you end up being... no matter what you go through on Earth... it is nothing in the blip of time known as eternity... whether we are in an eternity of eternal paradise or eternal damnation.

So I was thinking about all that. It really scares me. Not that I don't think that I'm saved. I know that Jesus died for me. I have repented and I trust Jesus as my savior. What scares me is that there are people living and dying today who are not going to Heaven. There are people in Hell today that died in Noah's flood... they've been there for thousands of years already, but they have barely begun. There were people yesterday who died, whether by collapsing bridge, war, disease, accidents, or crime... and they do not have the chance to repent. It's too late for them. I am scared for them. I am scared for the people that are headed in that direction.

Those of us who are saved and have Jesus as our Savior do not get off the hook. What we do today will affect our entire eternity as well. Do we teach our kids about Jesus? Do we tell others about Jesus? Do people know that we are Christians? What will Jesus say to us when we arrive in eternity? Will Jesus be pleased with us? Or will he look at us with sad eyes, and tell us of the people that he placed in our pathways that could have gotten saved, but we never bothered to tell them about the love of God.

I know that I'm guilty. I could have done more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bridge Collapse In Minneapolis

If you keep up with the news, you might have already heard of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis over the Mississippi river. At least six people died... ABC has some pictures and information here.

There was no earthquake. It just happened. Bridges usually don't just collapse for no reason, but apparently, it did today. Now engineers may find a reason as they investigate, but there is no reason that jumps right out to the casual observer.

It just shows you how fragile life is. One day, you can wake up, go to work, and on the way home something like this happens. Perfectly healthy people, even professional athletes, sometimes have heart attacks right out of the blue. Your home can be robbed and during the robbery you can lose your life, or you could be hit by a drunk driver coming home from dinner some night.

Our lives are so fragile. Earlier this week, we lost four people in a helicopter collision in Arizona. Nobody could have predicted that. And nobody could have predicted this bridge collapse.

One day, it could be any day... it could be before I finish writing this... Jesus will be coming back for his people. He will come back for those of us who have repented of our sins and trusted him as our savior. Which doesn't mean that we don't still sin... we don't want to sin, and when we do, we feel bad about it.

Those that do not trust Jesus as their savior will be left behind to face God's judgement and wrath. Similarly, if we live our lives as we wish, and never repent of our sins and trust in Jesus, sudden destruction and wrath will come upon us eventually. It could come in the form of a heart attack, a freak stingray accident, or a bridge collapse. We just don't know. None of us know how many breaths we have left. Every second we get upon this Earth is a gift from God, and none of us are guaranteed another.

I pray for the families of those who were left behind in this bridge accident. I pray for the emergency workers who may still be out there trying to help. I pray for the entire community in Minneapolis, as I'm sure that this will effect them greatly. I hope that those who lost their lives had trusted Jesus as their savior, but whatever the outcome, it is too late for them to change it now.

As an aside note, I know that the Way of the Master Radio is based in Minnesota. I pray especially for all those that work at WOTM, and hope that none of them were hurt in the accident.