Friday, October 31, 2008

Lisa of Longbourn's Colorado Voter Guide - Amendments and Referenda

This may be a little belated for anyone trying to decide how to vote around here. Then again we have a lot of procrastinators in this country. Whether you’ve already voted or not, or even if you don’t live in Colorado, I hope that this little study of the ballot issues and why I am for or against them will educate you on my views about government.

Amendment 46: Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Governments prohibited excepting federal programs, existing court orders or other legally binding agreements and bona fide qualifications based on sex.

The text of this amendment prohibits government discrimination FOR or against people seeking public employment, education, or contracts. It lists race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin as the categories protected against discrimination. I do not believe that this is any threat to our liberties as a nation, nor an affront to our morals. The language prohibits affirmative action, which is one of the most frustrating forms of intentional discrimination practiced in our country. I’m glad to support an amendment restricting this injustice.

YES on Amendment 46.

Amendment 47: Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues (as a condition of employment; including government and private employers)

For my thoughts on this issue, I am grateful to a friend who works in businesses where membership in a union is the only way contractors are connected with work. The bidding process is handled by unions, or something like that. So if membership in a union were not mandatory, then either there would be no work for them or some employees who are union men would carry the financial load for their coworkers in an essential part of their business.

Secondly, this law places restrictions on the employer, which is not healthy for an economy. I believe that the owner of a business has a right to do as he will with his business, and if employees don’t like the way they’re treated or the conditions of their employment, they can look for a new job. This is the free market system. I almost always side with employers and owners.

NO on Amendment 47.

Amendment 48: Definition of Person

I have covered this topic at length on this blog. The Colorado Constitution guarantees certain rights to all persons in this state. We in the pro-life movement believe that this law, which includes the right to life and due process, should have been applied all along to all persons, no matter how small, including the unborn. The fact that over 40 abortions are performed in Colorado every day is evidence that this law is not being enforced this way. Thousands of innocent babies are being deprived of their fundamental and legal right to life because judges have declared this word “person” to be ambiguous. The campaign argues that medical science and common sense make it clear when life and personhood begins, and it is at fertilization. There is no other possible and logical place at which to draw the line. We believe that defining personhood will uplift the value we as citizens of Colorado place on life, from the smallest among us to the strongest and healthiest adult to the sick or the elderly.

Arguments against this amendment center selfishly around the repercussions of acknowledging the inescapable fact that these tiny lives are persons. Opponents would rather deny the personhood of these babies so that they can continue to murder them for any and every reason. These campaigners, who stand to lose a profitable industry in abortion, threaten that this law will force mothers to sacrifice their lives for terminal preborn children in cases such as eptopic pregnancies. However, the law will not assert the rights of one life over another. If a woman’s life is at risk, or the life of a twin is really threatened by a child, nothing in this law prohibits the defense of the endangered lives. Do not let these tragic instances keep you from defending 40 babies a day or more by defining them in the law as we already know them scientifically to be: individual living persons.

YES on Amendment 48.

Amendment 49: Prohibit the government from deducting things like union dues from the paychecks of public employees.

This law will protect public employees from deductions not endorsed by the government. At present employees must take extra action to prevent the deductions. This would put the burden of collection of union dues or other contributions on the unions, relieving the government from the burden of collecting the money for them. We shouldn’t make the government the middle man for other agencies.

YES on Amendment 49.

Amendment 50: Return decisions about the limits on Gaming (gambling) in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to the respective communities, including casino hours, types of games offered, and limits on bet amounts.

I am morally opposed to gambling, and thus believe that it should be illegal. This is not the case in Colorado, but I do not want it expanded. Additionally, this law directs most of the potential additional revenue to State community colleges. I believe it is none of the government’s business to be involved in education in any way, let alone in funding. And I always vote against increases in taxes until the government can prove themselves good and law-abiding stewards of the money already entrusted to them.

NO on Amendment 50.

Amendment 51: Increases the state sales tax and directs the revenue to services for people with developmental disabilities.

Again, I always vote against tax increases until the government can prove themselves faithful stewards of our money. However, if they were to use part of their existing budget to fund social or charity programs like this, I would consider them failing in their trust. Charity is best done privately, without government middle men. I do not want my government taking the privilege of administering help to my neighbors away for me. When they do this, the people begin to view the government more and more as the savior and provider. They will continually vote themselves largesse, as Alexander de Toqueville warned. I believe we should help these people, but I believe the help should be private, led by individuals, charities, and churches.

NO on Amendment 51.

Amendment 52: Use severance tax (which has nothing to do with our normal use of the word severance) revenue for highways.

This law takes budgeting into the hands of the people. However, it is a narrow-minded and inflexible law not allowing for changing and competing needs of things other than transportation. Not only does the law limit the use of this revenue to highways; it specifies which highways, which is not at all a fair deal for all of Colorado. The legislature is responsible for directing money to important projects like government highways and water storage. Though I have little confidence in our legislature at the moment, I believe the solution is to elect men of integrity to office, who will be competent representatives in our state; not to take responsibility away from them in one of their few legitimate spheres.

NO on Amendment 52.

Amendment 53 has been withdrawn per proponent’s request and no votes for or against will be recorded.

Amendment 54: Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors. This law would do three things: 1) prohibit contractors working for the government, whose contracts are worth more than $100,000 and whose award of the contract was not the result of solicitation of at least three competitive bids, from contributing to political parties or candidates during the contract’s duration and 2 years after. 2) Encourage government entities to solicit 3 competitive bids for each contract. 3) Set up an online, publicly accessible database of all government contracts awarded to companies for which there was no competitive bid.

I am not opposed to requiring governments to welcome competitive bids for projects. This is the responsible and honest thing to do. The online database is a little over the top, but their heart is in the right place. HOWEVER, I am 100% opposed to prohibiting a company or individual from contributing to a candidate or party of their choice. The way to prevent corruption is to elect honest officials and to pay close attention to the government, not to restrict the rights of free men in this state. An honest contractor can have interests in seeing one candidate elected, and ought to be able to do his part to ensure that victory without being accused of paying for the privilege of government contracts. (For example, a small businessman may want to contribute money to a candidate who says he will lower taxes on small business versus an opponent who will raise them. The businessman if he is smart will realize it is in his economic interest to help the lower tax candidate to be elected, and ought to be free to contribute money to that candidate.) We cannot ask our contractors to surrender their right to political involvement simply so they can have work. Fight corruption other ways!

NO on Amendment 54.

Amendments 55, 56, and 57 have been withdrawn by their respective proponents. No votes for or against will be reported.

Amendment 58: Increase the amount of state severance taxes paid by oil and natural gas companies, and allocate that revenue to college scholarships, wildlife habitats, renewable energy projects, and transportation projects in energy-impacted areas. And exempt all oil and gas severance tax revenue from state and local spending limits.

I am against raising taxes. In some campaigns this season tax cuts for oil companies has been thrown around like a slur, but it is not. Tax credits are the way that the tax system is designed. I don’t like it, but until you change the whole thing you can’t just eliminate one part of it. Oil companies are not bad guys. The reason people don’t like them is because we were paying $4 a gallon for gasoline earlier this year. The government took a large portion of that amount in taxes. If we raise taxes on the companies that supply gasoline, they will either have to cut spending (and reduce supply!) or pass on the price hike to us the consumers. What’s more, the tax credit is an incentive for oil and gas industries to do business in Colorado. We do not want the jobs and revenue they provide to leave our state for more competitive areas.

I do not want revenue to go to colleges, to wildlife habitats (since when is this a legitimate concern for a government?), renewable energy (get the energy companies to invest in these technologies themselves; they will), etc.

NO on Amendment 58.

Amendment 59: Eliminate the rebates that taxpayers receive when the state collects more money than it is allowed, and spend the money on preschool through 12th grade public education.

No to tax increases. Do not eliminate TABOR, the main pillar of which is essentially to balance the state budget by requiring refunds to taxpayers when we are taxed over budget. No to public schools. Schooling is a private responsibility, dangerous and inefficient in the hands of the government.

While I’m at it I’ll throw in the State Referendums, too.

Referendum L: lower the age requirement for serving in the state legislature from 25 to 21.

Why not? The fact that we have so many ages defining maturity in our state is ridiculous. At sixteen you can get a driver’s license, at 18 you can vote. When you are 21 you can drink. And at 25 you can be a member of the legislature. (There are ages for adopting and renting cars, for buying lottery tickets and being out after curfew. It’s all a very confusing mess.) You may say that there are very irresponsible 21 year olds. Yet 21 year olds can vote, and a stack of voting 21 year olds can do a lot more damage than one 21 year old who must be duly elected before holding office. If a 21 year old is counted qualified for the job by the people, he ought to have the job. My brother is 20. If he did a little research on government and wanted to run for office, I would want the privilege of voting for him. Because while there are admittedly immature 21 year olds (and 25 year olds, and 50 year olds!), there are also mature and capable ones.

YES on Referendum L.

Referendum M and Referendum N are about removing obsolete provisions from the laws. I am not opposed to this, but read them; they constitute a mini-history lesson.

Referendum O: Change requirements for citizen-initiated State laws.

Right now citizens (as opposed to government officials/legislators) can initiate state amendments or statutes that must meet certain requirements to make the ballot, and even then must be approved by voters. And amendment is part of the constitution, originally intended to describe the rights of the people and the limits of the government. These laws are permanent unless repealed by the people with another constitutional amendment. Statutes are laws as well, but refer more to the practical application of principles (traffic laws, etc.) Statutes may be made or altered by the legislature without reference to the people in an election. Or they may be citizen-initiated. By nature, statutes are less permanent. Presently the requirements for getting either an amendment or a statute on the ballot are the same, and they are relatively easy compared to other states.

Referendum O seeks to make statutes easier to put on the ballot by reducing the number of petition signatures required.

The referendum would make amendments harder to get on the ballot in two primary ways: 1) increase the required number of signatures. 2) require that eight percent of signatures be gathered from each congressional district

I’m up in the air on whether I want it to be easy or hard for citizens to initiate legislation. I’ve heard arguments on either side. HOWEVER, I am completely opposed to this referendum because of the 8% requirement. An amendment could be blocked from the ballot by a minority, by one section of the state. I’m not sure what the lines are for congressional districts, but this referendum would say that if Boulder residents didn’t want an amendment, even if Pueblo, Grand Junction, Greeley, Bennet, Denver, and Estes Park wanted it, the petition would be rejected. This is not republican government. It is rule by a minority. This would prevent legislation that would be in the interest of the state as a whole from being even introduced in ballot form because one district decided it was not in their interest. We cannot do this.

NO on Referendum O.

I’m welcoming you to interact with this “voter guide” for educational purposes. Please do not campaign in the comment section. Comments are moderated, and I’m giving fair warning that I may choose not to post some comments. However, if your comments are gracious and profitable for the conversation, I will post them even in disagreement that we all may be sharpened.

To God be all glory.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Case Against Russia's Invasion of Georgia

It’s been several months since the Russian aggression against Georgia. Though the media has entirely abandoned this story, some of us continue to think about and discuss the implications of the situation, which as far as I know remains fairly tense and problematic.

A friend argued that in invading Georgia, Russia is only doing the same thing the US has done any number of times for oppressed countries. The rebels of South Ossetia are like the 13 colonies of America at the Revolutionary War.

My argument, (certainly not made so persuasively in person and on the spot) is as follows:

- Russia chose this summer to invade Georgia, though South Ossetia has had its share of rebels since the Soviet Union fell. This summer was a time when world attention was on other things. The invasion happened just before the start of the Olympic Games. Economic times were hard and more pressing to most of the world than foreign affairs. America was and continues to be engaged in a close and important election, while its sitting government has proved impotent.

- Only after Georgia sought to join the NATO alliance did Russia act against them. Russia is less interested in revolutionaries than it is in bullying smaller nations out of alliances with the democratic West. Russia is engaged in a new Cold War with the West, though the West seems unaware of this development. Russia is testing the strength of the NATO nations’ friendship with Georgia, much as Hitler did by stepping into Austria, the Sudetanland, and Czechoslavakia before the free world decided with Poland that enough was enough and Europe was in danger.

- Russia has economic/oil interests in disabling Georgia or in annexing the small country. Georgia has the only oil pipeline to northeastern European countries that is outside of Russian control. Russia wishes to control those NE countries, many of which were formerly part of the Soviet Empire. Controlling the supply of such an essential resource essentially holds hostage any dependent nations.

- Russia is busy forming an alliance with Iran and the Islamic states. Georgia is in the way.

- The revolutionaries in S. Ossetia are Islamic troublemakers, not interested in freedom. If they wanted to be free, they would want to be independent, not to join Russia. Like Iran supplying insurgents in Iraq with weapons and training, so has Russia been backing these rebels for over a decade.

- The claim has been made that because the South Ossetians and the Georgians are of different ethnicity, they cannot get along sufficiently to live under the same government. America has done this for its history as a nation. Russia does this, and South Ossetia is seeking to be annexed into Russia, which has much more ethnic diversity than Georgia. Local South Ossetians and Georgians get along just fine when there is no battle line drawn between them. (See the American Civil War)

- Russia did not only invade South Ossetia; their troops pushed all the way to just outside the Georgian capital. If helping the South Ossetians throw off an oppressive regime was their only interest, Russia should only have occupied South Ossetia.

- Russia has been dishonest in its invasion of Georgia. Russia promised to withdraw its military troops, but has not. It simply renamed the occupying forces as “peacekeepers.”

- South Ossetia says that Georgia’s rule was oppressive. There are three possible explanations for this: 1) Georgia is abusing its power and depriving South Ossetians of their rights based on ethnicity. If that is the case, the best first move is a demonstration of these “atrocities” to the world. America did this with its Declaration of Independence. 2) Georgia is engaged in a military conflict begun by the rebels themselves. A sovereign nation has the right and responsibility to quell insubordination within its borders. 3) South Ossetians are lying in order to justify their rebellion.

- Georgia is a small country still wobbling towards maturity as a democratic republic. In the interest of discouraging the return of Communism or totalitarianism, the US is justified in making alliances with this nation. It was proposed as part of a potential NATO treaty that Georgia allow the US to post technology military in nature on their land and directed at the aggressively posturing Russian nation. Many young nations with democratic ideals look to the US (successful in these very pursuits) for help and example in establishing their governments.

- If the US or any other nation has a defense treaty with Georgia, it must be honored less the validity of any treaty made by said nations be weakened and doubted. A treaty is like a contract, each nation receiving a needed good or service. One party cannot withdraw on its agreement.

- The free world must take a strong stand against Russia lest they, growing confident, invade more countries in Europe and Asia.

- If the US has unjustly invaded other countries, this is no argument for Russia to do the same. However, in many cases the US has invaded countries in order to honor treaties it has with threatened nations. In other cases, the US has engaged in preemptive or retributive strikes against countries whose military/weapon technology has threatened us directly.

- Whether the US should militarily support Georgia is dependent on at least two things: Have we made any official promise to Georgia to do so? and Are we nationally threatened by this move Russia is making?

In conclusion, I believe that Russia’s motives are suspect in a large way, its methods are inappropriately aggressive, and its response to world denouncements chillingly indifferent or dishonest.

Georgia is a little former Soviet ‘republic’ with ethnic tensions, economic precariousness, and threatening neighbors. Whether right or wrong in its treatment of the northern province, the country ought to be esteemed as a sovereign nation, not as a child-state of Russia. As such it has the right to international relations and to addressing its own civil order.

The US needs to pay more attention to world events, especially Russia. Russia is quietly rebuilding its empire, reducing the freedoms within its boundaries. It is also allying itself, including through the sale of weapons, with professed enemies of the United States. Watching is not enough; the US needs to take a stand. In this age of global technology, we must be very careful lest those who wish to destroy us get the weapons capabilities of doing so. We are engaged in a global war on terror, declared first by the terrorists on us. Failure to engage our enemies means defeat.

We as Christians need to give careful thought to prophecy and the roles of countries such as Russia, Iran, and Iraq. It is written in the Bible that they who bless Abraham and his heirs will be blessed. Essential for our preservation in the world is that we side with Israel, not only in word, but in diplomacy and force. Also important at this time is evangelism: in America, in the closing country of Russia, and in the Middle East. I believe biblical prophecy predicts that a revival is at hand.

To God be all glory.

Do Women Have a Place in Ministry?

I am fascinated having read chapter 197 of Godcast. In it Dan Betzer makes a point from silence (not the best foundation for doctrine, but making for an interesting story). Where the Bible is silent, we see a point being made. Michael Card writes that when John is silent on events of Jesus’ life that the other gospel-recorders included, we should pay special attention. John was substituting something else, a living parable. In John 8 as John records Jesus’ encounter with the convicted adulteress, it mentions Jesus silently stooping to the ground before requesting that those without sin cast the first stone against the sinful woman. What impact in his silence!

So this Assemblies of God pastor communicates the impact of the silence covering 33 years of Abraham’s life after Sarah’s death. Though they had their rough patches, during Sarah’s life Abraham was the faith father, involved in all sorts of actions, journeys, acquisitions, encounters, prayers, promises, and fulfillments. Immediately after her death Abraham sends the head of his household (not just any old servant) to great distances to find a wife for Isaac. This was very important to Abraham. Why? Maybe because his wife was very important to him. He wanted Isaac to be blessed by a woman whose worth was far above rubies.

And after that, we have a paragraph recording the last fifth of Abraham’s long life. He married again and had more children. But as far as we know he was the spiritual giant during his marriage to Sarah. I caution again putting too much credence in this narrative factor.

Pastor Betzer titles this chapter “Do Women have a Place in Ministry?” If you think about Sarah’s support of her husband as her place in ministry, or if you consider the impact that her presence had on her husband’s faith, you get a beautiful picture of what I believe is a woman’s place in ministry. (Sarah is also held up as an example to other women, especially in the way she submitted to her own husband. I believe that women have a more direct ministry to other women as “teachers of good things.” – Titus 2)

I shouldn’t be surprised that the semi-charismatic denomination has produced a man who, rather than interpreting the significance of the Sarah factor in Abraham’s life in light of biblical directives to women to submit, nor to teach or have authority over men; takes this beautiful picture of helpers meet for their husbands and finishes with a praise of the female ‘ministers’ and ‘pastors’ who founded very large, spiritual and missions-minded churches. These women, he says, have positively impacted him. Though he often mentions his wife in other chapters, this author fails to mention here her help in his ministry, which would be a more honest and biblically sound application of the Sarah principle.

To God be all glory.

Excellence

Excellence is something that has been part of me for at least 15 years. Of course, it came easy to me to be excellent in academics, or in Bible memorization. In Awana as a third grader I joined my first Bible Quiz team. At the time I was completely na├»ve, unaware of the competition or the tension or even of the possibility of winning. The thought never crossed my mind. After finishing both segments of the quiz, speed (like Jeopardy) and multiple choice (with paddles we raise into the air), my team sat clenching each others’ hands in nervous anticipation. To our utter astonishment they called our team for first place. The group of us screamed our way to the front to receive our medals and trophy. And excellence in Bible quiz was my goal from then on.

In a history of grace, God granted that I be on a winning Bible Quiz team for six years straight, unprecedented. Everyone wanted either to be on my team or to finally beat me. I didn’t stop working hard, because each year I desperately wanted to win. There were no assumptions that I would win no matter what. But I did think that if I kept giving it my all, I would be rewarded. There was no second place, no third, no fourth – and certainly there was no place between fifth and fifteenth. So when as a freshman I suffered my first defeat, it felt as though I had crashed into a lightless chasm. It didn’t matter in the slightest that we had placed third. The fact was I went to win, and I had failed.

There’s more to the story, of the journey God continued leading me on through Bible Quiz until my senior year – and how I got to share the lessons as a coach. But today I want to write about that concept of no place but first. No success without the best. This is a definition of excellence.

I’m reading a book called Godcast (review coming soon of course), a collection of single-page devotionals written by an Assemblies of God pastor and radio/tv host. In chapter 196, Dan Betzer writes about mediocrity in the house of God. Now I’m no advocate of demanding perfection in the worship performance each Sunday, or of dazzling buildings on which no expense was spared. Nor do I think that God always wants us to have a well-polished speech to deliver as Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, or sermons. Sometimes He wants us to be the humble vessels through whom His message can be spoken. And whether you know the words you’re going to say or not, every teacher should have properly studied, meditated, and prayed for what he is going to say.

Yet the message is inspiring. As a teacher, do I say, “Well, I read over the passage a couple times, and I have an illustration, so I’m all set”? How many times have I as a blogger decided I didn’t feel like revising my post? And what about as a Christian? Do I consider myself good enough as long as I’m not really bad?

Every Monday night I attend a Bible study. Presently we are going through Galatians, and I’m wrestling with the implications of grace and Christian liberty. What is legalism, and how should we reconcile Christian holiness with Christ-given grace? One answer that seems clear at this point in my life is that legalism says “If I follow the rules, I am good.” But isn’t that what Judaism proved impossible? Grace is the other side, the side that so delights in the life bought through Jesus’ death and given through His resurrection that it delights to please God, not flirting with the line of trespass, but safe and free well inside the bounds of God’s righteousness.

I can’t help but mention that this doctrine of Galatians meets a complementary parallel in Romans, wherein is found the association between faith, grace, life, and righteousness.

God calls us to excellence, to the extraordinary experience of walking in the Spirit, turning aside neither to the right or to the left, each action born of faith and love and Christ alive in me.

To God be all glory.

Chocolate Pudding

Have I ever mentioned that I think chocolate pudding is theworld’s perfect food? I always forget to list it with my favorite foods, but it really is. Just recently I realized that the temperature of the pudding is a significant factor in its quality.

For years my family has teased me about my chocolate obsession. One of my favorite places to eat was Country Buffet (a treat usually reserved for visits from Grandpa and Grandma) because there I could get my pick of this feast of desserts. Instead of choosing, however, I put them all together. Start with a brownie or hot fudge cake. Add a helping of chocolate soft serve topped with chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, oreo pieces and hot fudge. Beside that add a spoonful of thechocolate pudding (the sugar free dessert offered there; but I really don’t recommend the sugar free variety). The mixture of chocolate flavors was exceptional, and usually filled me up for the whole day afterwards.

I say all this in past tense like I’m over it.

Anyway, one of the highlights was the pudding, super-chilled by way of its proximity to the ice cream.

When I took lunches to school or work, for years I brought along a snack pack pudding cup, those highly preserved room-temperature servings of the world’s perfect food. They’re good, oh, yes, and far better than nothing at all, but nothing beats cold pudding.

I still remember a happy day when Pizza Hut still had dine-in locations everywhere and they even had a lunch buffet. Including salad and a variety of pizzas, it was always a close tie whether I preferred the best pizza in the world or the heaping piles of cold chocolate pudding.

So even if I were to refrigerate the little snack cups, where would be the seemingly bottomless portions of my buffet-spoiled childhood?

Recently a few developments have made my life considerably happier. (Amazing what dessert of the chocolate variety can do for a woman’s mood!) The first was getting a car, which actually occurred about four years ago. With this advantage I can go shopping by myself for things I want. Secondly, the office where I work acquired a refrigerator, which currently houses the third and final innovation of my recent life in the direction of blissful foods: a six-pack of chocolate pudding cups, the creamy refrigerated kind with an expiration date – which means it’s healthier. This way, unfettered by the watchful portion control of parents, grandparents, teachers, or lack of supply, I can have as much chocolate pudding as I desire.

Happy day.

To God be all glory.

Spaniel Excellent

A man came into my office today, and told me a story of his cocker spaniel.

As a puppy, he trained it with treats to fetch his paper each morning. On Sunday the doggy didn’t because the weekend paper was too heavy. Actually he subscribed to the two Denver papers, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. Each morning the dog faithfully retrieved his papers.

Eventually the man canceled his subscription to one paper, and sent the spaniel out the first winter morning about six AM, in the fresh fallen snow, to get his one paper. He watched it run out into the snow, and disappear behind a drift to get to the driveway. But the dog didn’t come back. A little annoyed, he went back into the house to put on appropriate clothes for snow-trekking.

When the man came back, following the markings in the snow from the dog’s pounces, he had to follow his dog half a block away to the top of the hill on which his house sat. The faithful dog had searched in the snow until it found one driveway in which the second paper was visible, and had the news obediently between its teeth.

Think if we did that. Given a task, our determination and loyalty was so great that we would go through any trouble and keep going until we accomplished our assignment. Do you see the above and beyond excellence exemplified by the little spaniel?

Philemon 1:21, "Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say."

“Approve what is excellent.”

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Breastplate of Righteousness

In high school Awana (Journey 24-7), students are required to read through the Bible in four years. For each book they read, they most also give a summary to a leader. I'm a leader (strange - I feel like a teenager still, even though I'm almost twenty four - unbelievable!), and tonight I listened to a young man summarize Ephesians, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I don't know if I mentioned studying the book this year to where each chapter explodes with meaning now (the word of God is living and powerful - energes). Anyway, as a leader I get to ask questions to see if the student has really read the book or just the provided summary. My leaders loved this privilege, and I follow their example.

"What does 'breastplate of righteousness' mean?" I ask.

This is from Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness."

The most annoying thing about this passage of Scripture is commentaries. I open a commentary and the most common observations are the purpose of the pieces of armor - as though we needed help to understand that a helmet protects the head and a shield is to defend ourselves. I believe the focus of the text is on the virtues listed, and the study ought to be 1. How they protect us. 2. How to implement them.

Much has been said about the grace issue here. I believe in grace. Righteousness is not something of our own. Nor can it possibly be referring only to Christ's righteousness imputed on our behalf in this verse. Righteousness describes a way of life. How do we live that life? The New Testament is filled with the message: grace, faith, abiding in Christ. "For I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:20-21)

How does righteousness serve as armor? How does it protect our hearts?

Earlier in Ephesians, Paul writes: "(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." (Ephesians 5:9-10) What is righteousness? Strong's says it has to do with "integrity, virtue, purity, correctness of thinking and feeling and acting." The figure of a breastplate is often associated with sobriety. Sober is, also according to Strong's, "1) to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit 2) to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect." Purity of thought and action, truth over passion are all consistent with righteousness. And these are conditions of the heart, or things which may affect a heart. Think of this: if a heart is unprotected by truth and integrity, why shouldn't it demand that its passions rule? Why should it check its passions and prevent some that are not pleasing to God, not pure? How would it even know to do so?

Ok. So most of us know mentally about purity and right from wrong. We even know the truth. But our hearts forget. Some teachers rightly advise wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God against heart temptations. Paul suggests an additional strategy. A life built on reality, a life meet for the God who created us and the way He created us, is the best way to condition and exercise our hearts to submit to the truth. What does James say about sin? James 1:14-16, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren." The heart and the righteousness go together. Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." This goes back and forth. The heart must be kept to maintain our walk. Our walk must be maintained to keep the heart. And none of these are our work.

This is my experience. When I neglect my relationship with God (even if it is when I get caught up in "doing" things for Him), I slip up. The temptation-induced lust in my heart births disobedience. And then I don't care in what category I put that sin, inevitably my heart is more vulnerable. I experience more spiritual attack on my heart (desires, imaginations) and am more likely to get more and more distracted from my walk with God. Once my focus, in fact, is on the things my heart wants and senses, my tone towards God gets accusatory, and for the silliest things I doubt His love. This is because my heart thinks love equals worship and submission, but is not interested in loving anyone else, including God.

Yet my experience with walking with God is so unaccountably opposite. I believe these are spiritual realities. But logic does not say how spending time in conversation with and dependence on a Being I cannot physically see or hear could so much affect my life.

I have marveled so many times: "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." (2 Timothy 2:13)

To God be all glory.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates

One of my good friends smiled when I told her I was reading a book about aliens. “You read such varied subjects,” she laughed. And I do, but I definitely see them as connected. In the same way that there are so many points in which I am disappointed with traditional (as opposed to biblical) church because they are all connected to a basic definitional idea of church, these varied subjects (Iceland, aliens, church, relationships, history, biography, philosophy) are part of a worldview. You may call it the homeschool culture. Or maybe it is the Christian bookstore (I doubt it). A lot of my connections come from being a Creationist. I’m a fan of logic and words (logos), two indivisible concepts. The history of God, the world, science, cultures, languages, laws, and on and on all fascinate me.

In this case I can trace my reasons for reading this book (Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates) to several things. First of all, when I was in grade school my dad got Chuck Missler’s newsletter from Koinonia House. These newsletters promoted edgy concepts of apologetics and Bible interpretation/prophecy such as the Bible code, Edenics, a variable light speed (he’s big of physics, and smart enough to handle it), and aliens. Chuck Missler has tapes on the Martian Monuments, the Nephilim, and the alien phenomenon in general. Though I haven’t read or heard much from him on the subject, the impression I get is that Alien Intrusion is in majority agreement with Missler’s position.

Secondly, who is not fascinated by accounts of alien encounters and UFOs? I’ve seen the TV specials, watched Star Wars and Star Trek. I read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy in which he invents a population on Mars and another on Venus in order to delve into the idea of free will. Stars and astronomy and theoretical physics all hold that appeal for me, too. And I cheer for the underdog. All these ordinary people have experiences that the official authorities deny or deride. HOWEVER, whenever I watch a TV special about aliens or read an account purported to be true, I get the chills. I am assaulted by fear and nightmares, and a sense of spiritual attack – doubt.

Answers in Genesis advertised Alien Intrusion on its website, a Creationist, Christian investigation into the phenomenon. I knew what to expect from the book just from things I’d heard suggested as explanations for the alien phenomenon in Christian circles. Intrigued to get one well-researched, relatively safe treatment of the subject, when I saw the book at our Christian bookstore several years ago, I picked it up. The cover is a pretty, typically alien teal with the curvy shapes and stark glaring brightness contrasted with shadow (covers – I’ll admit – are big sellers to me). And initially I took some casual Sunday afternoon time (commercials during a Bronco game) to flip through the contents. What I read so disturbed me that I once again got chills and fear, and had to set the book aside.

In the intervening years, I have picked the book up a few more times, re-read the back cover, and scanned the contents page. Finally this month I had the guts to sit down and start reading Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection from the beginning. Some friends were discussing aliens and Nephilim; Dad and I attended a Steeling the Mind Conference at which the book was being sold again. And my walk with God is in a good spot, well-supported by regular Bible study (alone and with groups) and frequent prayer. I would not recommend that a Christian read this book outside of such precautions.

The content of this book is definitely for mature audiences as well, since it describes (with proper restraint, but also with enough detail to establish patterns in sightings and encounters) disturbing physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual occurrences.

There are several benefits of reading the book straight through. The first is perspective. Gary Bates starts slow and gradually builds, almost imperceptibly delivering the clues that led him to his conclusions. Another advantage is the tone. Rather than moving from intense moment to new revelation to intense moment, the book breaks up the information with summaries, inserts about sci-fi books and movies, and gradually more Bible verses. A final plus from reading the text is that the book is an apologetic for more than just an explanation of UFOs. Through descriptions from witnesses, historical comparison/research, and logic, the book defends belief in the supernatural, absolute truth, creation versus evolution; and the Bible as the reliable and honest account of history, supernatural beings and intentions, and even the future.

Alien Intrusion isn’t some wild call to a UFO cult or to buy gear from Roswell. It isn’t a conspiracy theory pamphlet (at 340 pages with so many footnotes, that would be a stretch of a definition anyway). Nor is Mr. Bates an indiscriminate believer in every UFO and alien claim made by anyone all over the world. He is interested in evidence, in logic, in corroborating witnesses – and he is out to find the truth.

One of the most interesting discoveries uncovered by this book (not that the author made the discovery, but he is surely one of the biggest providers of the information to the public) is in the field of alien abductions. The abduction responds to an abductee claiming Jesus’ name. In fact, researchers have collected descriptions of interrupted abductions, all of which ended when Jesus was spoken. Some abductees who experienced this said that the presence abducting them seemed pained by the name, and the abduction did not resume. Several claimed to be Christians, while others came upon the name by chance.

Abductions and alien encounters are universally acknowledged to be much more frequent among those who have at any point in their lives dabbled in the occult: in New Age, in psychics, witchcraft, or even Satanism. The after-effects of an encounter are typically deeper and more devoted involvement in New Age beliefs and practices. Even the crop circles hoaxes were, when infused by willing visitors, sites of unusual paranormal feelings, sightings, and events.

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin. Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us? The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible. The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense). They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion.

Are the aliens good? Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution? No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative. They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees. Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences. Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings.

Are aliens new? No. The history of the world is filled with accounts that, names and stories apart, tell of the same phenomenon of supernatural visitors with the same message, the same techniques, and the same affects as aliens today. These include elves, fairies, pagan gods and goddesses, and even demons. The world’s most reliable history book and document on spiritual realities, the Bible, also describes these phenomenon, giving the origin of these beings and their purpose. According to the Bible, men have worshiped these beings in conjunction with the starry hosts, sorcery, channeling, and witchcraft throughout history. These beings consistently reject a literal understanding of an authoritative and infallible Bible, though willing to plagiarize the Bible and to claim to be characters from it.

The Bible also warns against interaction with these beings, predicting the harmful results to individuals who do. It also warns against behavior and worship often connected with these encounters, the same behavior on which the New Age philosophy is built. Historically, every extra-biblical religion has incorporated some or all of these things, and many religions and cults have founding stories similar to abduction or channeling accounts (including Islam, Mormonism, New Age, and Scientology).

Why now? Why in this century is there a massive increase in the number of sightings? The Bible describes a time of deception and world unity under this deception. Given other biblical prophecies compared to the times in which we live, many Christians would agree that end times events are advancing towards the climax of the spiritual battle being waged for millennia over the souls of men. Another reason for the flood of alien sightings and paranormal encounters is the cultural openness created by people and by the church. The world has embraced relativism. It has reacted against two world wars and nuclear weaponry. Men and women have embraced lewd sexuality like never before. Evolution is the common theory of origins (universally taught by any alien visitor or proponent). And the Church, those who have been saved by Jesus’ blood shed as he substituted Himself to take our punishment for rebellion against God, has been silent and wishy-washy on truth. We have compromised the Bible, leaving truth up for grabs or a popularity contest. A world desperately seeking answers, craving authority, and coping with the inherent longing for purpose and connection with their loving Creator God has been left in the dark because the Church will not be salt and light.

Get informed. Accept the biblical description of a supernatural (spiritual) reality. Proclaim the truth. Live by it.

For my part, this book challenged me in my willingness to believe in a supernatural world. It’s all safe and comfortable to believe in a supernatural God if He doesn’t do anything supernatural. If He just sort of works circumstances out for the best, I’m ok with that. But what about miracles? What about angels and demons? What about supernatural judgment? Reminded of the spiritual war being waged, and of the power of the beings deceiving men who have no accepted the truth (found in the Bible, enabled by an “encounter” with Jesus that is utterly unlike the alien encounters), I am challenged toward compassion on the foolish people I see wandering my world. How can they believe abortion is ok? How can they give themselves over to extramarital sex? How can they not see that an economy built on debt is destructive? Why are cults and false religions so popular? The answer is that they are deceived. A battle is being fought in the “inter-dimensional” realm of the angels and demons. To these people, their senses are out of their control. Reality really does feel like it is relative or changeable or insignificant.

Like all of the Masterbooks I have read, Alien Intrusion includes a strong defense of biblical inerrancy and a frequent, well-explained and relevant description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Economics, Socialism, and the Demise of Constitutional America

Obviously there is an economic crisis. The world is unable to borrow money. As a result countries have stopped trading money. People have stopped spending money. Within weeks businesses will stop paying money to employees. Unless something changes.

The government of the United States has already acted. They passed a $700 billion bill that, along with unnecessary tax cuts to special interests, relieves stupid and irresponsible bankers and investment agencies of their risk. Initially confidence was back up, and the stock market regained some of its points. I don’t know what else to call it, because there isn’t inherent value in the stock market, or money.

Now the economy has regained its sense. The people of the United States, those whose money fuels the investments and liquidity, told the government not to pass this imaginary money bill (a huge loan taken out by the US Congress in the name of the US people). Now they are still not confident, still right that the bailout bill was the wrong thing to do. The Congress went ahead and stole our free market. So the stock market crashed more than it ever has before.

The world is in turmoil, because most of the world owns stock in our financial stupidity. Of course looking out your window no one seems to be in turmoil.

I have been in tears. Yesterday morning, watching news of voter fraud and financial collapse, an eerie thought crossed my mind. Much like the compulsion to watch the news all day on September 11, 2001 and remember every event and emotion, I thought I should remember these days and their news, as though recording the last days of an era, an ideology, or a country.

I’m generously predicting complete socialism in America in 3 months. My dad says it could be sooner. So, as a matter of fact, does President Bush. The government has acted and will continue to act, he says with regards to the economy and the failing markets. Our country may soon be socialist.

That is, if country still means anything.
Today the G7 world leaders are meeting to compose a unified plan for a unified global solution to the economic crisis affecting people internationally. "In an interconnected world, no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another. We are in this together. We will come through it together," Bush said. "There have been moments of crisis in the past when powerful nations turned their energies against each other or sought to wall themselves off from the world. This time is different."
My friends don’t know who to vote for in the presidential election. They’re discouraged with the options offered by major political parties. We all know that neither candidate will accomplish much of anything toward fixing the massive problems in our government and economy (financial markets and health care), nor will they actually do much of anything for the social interests of people (education, immigration, abortion, and marriage). The best answer I have is that it won’t matter what we vote. Our government is rapidly running away from republican principles, the Constitution, and even its national existence.
Have a good day.

(My personal philosophy is that whatever is out of my control is in God’s. He has the future thoroughly planned, and has revealed the end of the world in His word in several places. What’s more, my personal welfare and provision is securely in his good hands, not ultimately in the government’s. Whatever happens, however discouraged I may be by world events, I can trust His sovereignty, goodness, and grace.)

To God be all glory.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Brother Ford of KFC

You know the word "ford," right? Not the pick-up truck. As in a river. It's the shallow area where one can safely cross a river. To have a ford, you need a river. A river is a depression in which water flows. So you need a depression, and water, and then you need the shallows. Read on.

My oldest younger brother moved out last month, into a condo. Tonight for the first time I got to see it with furniture in it. Well, furniture and boxes and a general mess upstairs. He managed to fill the entire place remarkably well. So my visiting sister and I helped unpack for a while. He has a skylight, on which our majorest Autumn Rain of the season was pattering peacefully.

After an hour and a half of organizing and throwing things away, we decided we were hungry. So we piled into my brother's little white car that, due to a belt problem, squeals wildly whenever he shifts from reverse to drive. The rain still came down, and when we got to KFC for their $3.99 colonel strips deal, there was a miniature river glimmering in the parking lot lights. So our good brother dropped us off at the door. My sister and I, we were wearing shoes not made for wading. We wouldn't even walk through the wet grass. So we were grateful.

Our brother's renter met us there a little after 9 o'clock, and after my brother prayed, "Thanks for the chicken," we finished our meal. The employees swept and stacked chairs on tables around us, even though they close at ten. Anyway, we were ready to leave and the rain had let up so my sister and I thought we could jump the smaller river. We stood on the edge, and judged. I teased that my good brother might carry us over, or lay down his hoodie for us. There was no jumping. We would splash water all over our poor feet. So we moved upstream to search for a ford.

Which is when my brother decided to be the ford. He put his two well-shoed feet in the water, and we stepped one foot at a time across the current. It was a marvelous adventure, and we were quite dry. Heroe brother to the rescue!

The only time we were really wet was when we got into my car to go back to our house. My car leaks. See, when I got it several years ago the windshield was cracked. And the dealer promised replacement as a condition of sale. So he sent his pathetic contract crew to do it. They didn't come, and then they came the wrong time, and then they came with the wrong windshield so they came the next day with the right one. And finally I had a windshield, but my confidence was duly shaken. And as soon as it rained I realized I was justified. My windshield leaks at the seams. Maybe my car leaks in other ways, too. In fact I know it leaks through the rubber seal around the door on the passenger side, and it might leak through the sunroof, too (yes, even when it's closed). So my seat was wet, and the dashboard dripped on my sister's foot.

Safe and dry now, we're at home. My parents were asleep early, the house dark at the remarkably early hour of 10:30. And I trust my brother is safe, even though he was going to investigate several police cars with flashing lights near his condo. It's a nightly occurrence there. He and his roommate need prayer for safety and that their neighborhood will be influenced with the gospel. It can happen.

To God be all glory.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mary had a Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb,

What warm, comforting thoughts that line brings! Sitting in mama’s lap, holding close a stuffed animal, we dreamed of undifferentiated balls of fluffy white softness (for what child in the city has a true representation of a lamb at that young age?).

Whose fleece was white as snow;

Forget metaphor. Think of emotion, the emotion created by a child’s imagination stimulated by these words. Snow is not a familiar event to every child. But it is always a marvelous occurrence, to gaze out on a dazzling wonderland of tiny, soft flakes.

And everywhere that Mary went…

This little child of the tale is quite recognizable. She’s on the move, just as all of us can remember being from our earliest memories.

The lamb was sure to go.

Think of the glorious comfort of loyalty. Who doesn’t desire a constant companion? And better, one that follows wherever you want to go.

Do something unusual today. Sing as many verses as you can remember of Mary Had a Little Lamb. Do you appreciate more how much it meant to you as a child? Sing it out loud. Sing it to a friend or a stranger. Try not to get yourself a psychological evaluation.

You’re welcome.

To God be all glory.

What Shall We Do? I Have to Do More?

Whether I thought I needed it or not, the topic has continually reappeared in my life the past few months. This summer the theme was supernaturally empowered change – the change directed by spending time with God, devoted to prayer, majoring my life on the word of God. And now, with less change than I expected – or felt called to do, maybe God is wooing me away from my distraction and hitting this change from the other direction. “Spend time with Me,” He says.

I love my life. Most days are wonderful. My mind is always engaged. I read, and write, and get things done. Etsy has welcomed me into its world, even though I don’t have any sales yet. Church activities fill my week, and in the spaces I get together with friends: talking or doing ministry together. Some days are so filled with searching the Bible for answers that when I go to sleep after midnight and have energy to read only a short Psalm or less with my God, I feel that’s ok. And I sincerely don’t believe I have to be legalistic.

And then sin creeps in, little thoughts or words out of control or no energy for the priorities God has given me. Last night, well after the second or even third lesson from the odd place about filling up one’s own spiritual life in order to pour out love and grace to others, I had just enough energy to quickly read Galatians 6, finishing my book of the week. This was in between TV, movies, ice cream, internet articles, email… And I felt vaguely guilty putting the Bible away.

When I woke this morning, ambitiously early, instead I lay there realizing how little I’d been talking to God about my days and my life. We had a chat, but we need more.

God’s grace is amazing. Tomorrow I’m meeting with some co-Sunday school teachers about our next series, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (based on the book by JoAnna Weaver). It so happens that about a year and a half ago I purchased the book for about two dollars, recognizing the title as popular with friends. The topic didn’t really interest me that much, because I’m Mary. I’m lazy sometimes, and love to study and be with Jesus more than to work hard and get things done. So I was going to give the book to our church library, but never got around to it.

Since I conveniently possess this book, I decided to read the first couple chapters to be up to speed with the other ladies who are teaching. I’m on page 8, still feeling that Martha isn’t really me in general. And then all the past weeks’ lessons and hints towards “Be still and know that I am God,” come gently back, triggered by a word or a sentence or one of the author’s testimonies.

Sunday evening a friend offered to loan me her apartment for a week as a place to get away quietly with God, to worship. Friday I was remembering times in the past when I’ve worked through things with God by house-sitting for friends. Compared to my busy, noisy house, the quiet loneliness of an empty house is enticing. I have any number of getaways at which I can stop in the midst of errands, rebel against tyrannical schedules, and take time to pray. The library has a walk around the outside where I do lots of energetic discussion with God. And I have a membership to the center for evolutionary propaganda in our state, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science – which if you filter the comments about Darwin, evolution, adaptation, ancestry, etc. is a very peaceful place to focus on God’s marvelous creativity and design.

But to kneel and pray, to sing out loud, to sway to the chorus of faith scarcely held silent in rocks and trees and hills, one needs to be alone. To cry out to God about the confusion of life in the world, lifting up specific names of friends and situations – essentially to do anything sufficiently open as to derive any conclusions – privacy is important. Time is important.

Beyond that, though, there is the daily remembrance that God is there. I need to be aware of His presence, leaning on Him for every good work that He prepared for me to do. Where does my help come from, my peace, my joy, my attention to the needs of the world for a reason for the hope that I have – if not from Him? Does He not deserve my every breath, all my worship?

Yet again, God did not call us only to a list of works. What we do is an overflow of our relationship with Him. As though while walking with God, He lifts a table by own end and says, “Here, grab that end.” When I was little I would help my sister rearrange our room. (She still rearranges her room an average of five times a year.) I love to help and all, but I know full well that while she was investing all her strength in her end of dressers and beds and mattresses, I was only the balance point, contributing very little strength to the operation. This is what it’s like when I join God in work.

To quote from page 5 of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, ‘ “The better part!” I say to God in the midst of my own whirl of activity. “You mean there’s more? I have to do more?”
‘No, no, comes the answer to my tired heart. Jesus’ words in Luke 10 are incredibly freeing to those of us on the performance treadmill of life.
‘It isn’t “more” he requires of us.
‘In fact, it may be less.’

The same point was drawn out of John 6 in a sermon I heard when visiting a friend’s church plant this month. We were in John 6, and it reminded me of a blog post I did last year, This Grace is Made for Walking.

Verse 24 says the people went seeking for Jesus.

Jesus reveals their true motivation in verse 26: they wanted Jesus so that he would feed them again. Rather than eating of the bread of life, desiring Jesus Himself, which would leave them filled forevermore, they were looking for little doses of temporary food.

Verse 27 says that the food that endures unto everlasting life is what the Son of man shall give unto you. Give. Eternal life, the satisfaction of a relationship with God, is a gift.

But in verse 28, the people respond, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” They still haven’t gotten the point. What shall we do? Do? Work?

Verse 29 contains Jesus’ refutation, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The work is belief. The work is a gift. The life is a gift. Jesus was sent. He is near to those who would seek Him.

The pastor compared this to Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

We neither come to God by works, nor follow Him by works. The work of God is that we believe on Jesus. This is the food that endures unto eternal life.
To God be all glory.

PERSONALITIES IN THE READING OF BOOKS. a purely entertaining theory on style.

Personalities in the reading of books. A purely entertaining theory on style.

There is one personality that does not read books at all. They are busy doing, and know enough to excel in their lives.

Others read to get through it, but the words have no impact and no staying power. These people seek recognition (by themselves or by others) for accomplishment.

A social person reads the best parts aloud. They can’t stand to keep their experience to themselves.

Some read books with a pen or pencil, to underline the important parts or the best quotes. This is the person who wishes to reference the book in the future. A book becomes a harvest field for writing, teaching, or life.

Others fold corners. When no one else is around, the read aloud person intends to come back to the folded corner and read it to a friend.

Highlighter in hand, some readers turn their page colorful. More visual than verbal by nature, these people will remember more of the text because the background is yellow, orange, or pink.

A few scribble responses or tiny notes in the margins. Overflowing with thoughts on what they read, they must get the ideas down while they are fresh.

And some are completely unsatisfied until they have written a response, ranging from the casual book review to the essay twice the size of the reading. Feeling the world is not complete until their thoughts have been expressed, this reader is an intercessor between the book and the world.

To God be all glory.