Showing posts from January, 2006

Devotional Thoughts: Hosanna = save now

Am looking at Matthew 21:1-11 tonight.

Jesus is about to arrive at Jerusalem.

There is an interesting little story of Jesus telling the disciples to go look for a donkey. One Bible teacher I heard on this topic speculated that the donkey might have belonged to Mary, Martha and Lazarus' family. It is possible as they lived in Bethany which is very close to Jerusalem. The text in v. 1 refers to Bethphage which is believed to be close to Jerusalem as well.

Certainly, if a total stranger showed up saying, hey, lend me your donkey, it would seem odd that they would obtain the donkey just by asking for it. So perhaps Jesus was getting a donkey he knew of. On the other hand, it could be the powers of suggestion a la Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars - Episode 4 - A New Hope, "These aren't the droids you are looking for. Move along."

Anyway, Jesus obtains a donkey which is a symbol of humility and rides into Jerusalem in triumph.

In the New Living Translation, v. 9 is rende…

Culture: Libertarian take on Intelligent Design and Public Education

Intelligent design is in the news these days.

Interestingly, there were three links on the main page of the Cato Institute.

Each one was written at a different point in the recent legal developments regarding Intelligent Design and Public Education.

This one was written after a court ruled the stickers in Georgia were unconstitutional. Here is an excerpt:Lynn Hogue, a Georgia State University constitutional law professor, made clear that the issue is bigger than just a "critical thinking" controversy. "Anti-evolutionists can take their case to the pulpit, but they have no business making it in public school classrooms through stickers in textbooks paid for by taxpayer dollars."

Of course, a very large percentage of the people living and paying taxes in Cobb County are Christians. Why is it acceptable to force them to use their tax dollars to teach their children something to which they strenuously object, but unacceptable to place a sticker on textbooks that asks othe…

Sports: Bruins sweep Oregon schools

UCLA 63 OSU 54 in a solid win on the road.

Winning on the road is usually about defense and rebounding. UCLA out rebounded the Beavers 36-24. UCLA also held Oregon State to 35% shooting.

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus and healing

Am looking at Matthew 20:29-34 this morning.

Jesus is faced with the usual huge crowds and two blind men call out to him, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

Jesus notices them and says, "What do you want me to do?"

They say, "We want to see!"

Jesus healed them and they started to follow Jesus.

This is part of what Jesus did while on this earth.

Go all the way back to Matthew 4:23 when Jesus started to travel around Palestine. He was described as doing three things: (1) teaching in the syngogues (and later more or less where ever there was a crowd), (2) preaching the good news of the kingdom and (3) healing.

Healing is the most straightforward. Blind can see again. Lame can walk again.

But humans have other needs besides the physical and medical and Jesus addressed them.

What is teaching?

Jesus explaining how to live a right life. He would draw upon the Hebrew Scriptures which all Jews would have some familiarity and give its meaning. The Sermon on the …

Devotional Thoughts: Growing in giving

A break from the usual devotional thoughts from Matthew.

Instead, for some reason, I'm thinking about financial giving as an act of worship and service to God.

I know some people have very strong views about 10% (the tithe) while others say it is a guideline and a worthy goal for those giving less than 10% and certainly not an upper limit for those who are able to give more.

I think the amount is less crucial than the character development that takes place while deciding to give.

When I say character development, I am thinking of four phases of growth. Step one would be going from not giving at all to giving some amount. At this stage, the giving might still be with some reluctance but it is a starting point. If I'm giving 0% then it is growth to start giving 2%. Step two growth would be to give cheerfully. Okay, I once was giving 2% with some grinding of teeth but now, I am cheerfully doing so. Step three would be to up the percentage. For instance, I could look at my bu…

Sports: Bruins hang on for the win

UCLA goes on the road and takes the victory at Oregon 56-49.

With the Cal Bear defeat of the Washington Huskies, the Bruins stand atop of the Pac-10 with a 6-2 record. Washington, California, Arizona and Stanford are right on their heels with three losses.

Saturday's game against Oregon State will be a big test for the Bruins as the last two losses for the Bruins were weekend games after a weeknight victory. In the loss against Washington on Saturday January 14, they ran out of gas in the 2nd half. In the loss, last Saturday, against West Virginia on January 21, they had a bad 1st half. In fact, going further back into the schedule, the Saturday January 7 game was a 1-point win over ASU. The week before that, on Saturday December 31, the Bruins lost to the Cal Bears.

Politics: Theology and Foreign Policy

A friend of mine sent me a link to this essay on Iran. Here is the key quote:Iran's president is a disciple of the Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, an obscure Iranian cleric who preaches a radical strain of Shiite liberation theology. Ahmadinejad, like his mentor, believes fervently in the return of the Mahdi, or Twelfth Imam — a second coming that many are convinced will occur as a result a regional conflagration.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Ahmadinejad is actively courting a crisis with the West.I have little familiarity with Islamic theology. Thus, I went to the internet to check out this idea. The material in Wikipedia says the following:According to the Islamic view Jesus (Isa, in Arabic) is not the Son of God, but was a prophet and will return to Earth. It is believed that Jesus never died and he was not crucified; instead he was raised into heaven still physically alive, where he lives now. At the time appointed by Allah, Jesus will physically return …

Devotional Thoughts: A life of service to others

Am looking at Matthew 20:20-28 this morning.

James and John and the mom of James and John came to Jesus and asked, "Will you let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one at your right and the other at your left?"

I don't know about you but the word that came to my mind was chutzpah!

Anyway, Jesus responds to them, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?"

Indeed, the request seems all the more bold in light of the fact that Jesus had predicted his death in Matthew 20:17-19. I suppose maybe the James and John heard the part about raised from the dead and figured that Jesus was going to set up the Kingdom right away. So a positive spin would be to say they had great faith and that they heard Jesus talk about the suffering part and felt it would be worth it. On the other hand, sometimes, we only hear what we want to hear and they skipped over the suffering part.

The other disciples h…

LA Dining: Korean BBQ - Dong Il Jang

My latest is up at LA.foodblogging.

I was happy and content after dinner!

Dong Il Jang Restaurant
3455 West 8th Street
at Hobart
Los Angeles, CA 90005-2517
(213) 383-5757

LA Dining: Rooibos Tea Time

Not exactly food (can go with it) and not LA but it is in

Certainly a lot of the Asian teas have gotten press for their health benefits.

Rooibos is from Africa and there are claims for it being healthy stuff. reader Cathy tells us there is a store in LA devoted to African Red Tea!

I'll have to check it out!

Science: Space, the final frontier ...

Really good news for NASA in the successful recovery of Stardust. Hopefully, some good and interesting data will come from the comet and stardust they collected in the aerogel.

I have to confess though, the project did remind me of the sci-fi thriller, Andromeda Strain!

Tuesday, the launch of the New Horizons probe to Pluto had to be scrubbed due to high winds. They will try again Wednesday.

Meanwhile, an astronaut from the space shuttle program is in the news for his comments about the vehicle. My feeling is that perhaps it is time to retire the ships and devote money to the replacement.

UPDATE: Wednesday's launch of New Horizons has been delayed. According to the NASA web page, the problem was a power failure in Maryland where the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory flight control center was operating on backup power. Mission managers decided not to fly under these circumstances. An attempt will be made to launch on Thursday. The launch window is open until F…

Devotional Thoughts: If Jesus is the answer, what is the question?

Am looking at Matthew 20:17-19.

Jesus once again predicts his death and resurrection.

Some people will claim that all of this is invented.

Certainly, that is the idea behind The Da Vinci Code.

So the options are invention or it really happened?

The empty tomb is evidence in favor of its reality. Christianity collapses if Jesus is found dead and buried somewhere. Christianity has staked its survival on this ridiculous claim.

If you wanted to invent a religion would you stake everything on something like that?

Another thing to consider is that conspiracies tend to work "top down." One has to have tremendous amounts of power to foist a conspiracy on people. Hence, ideas of powerful alliances of business and government in notions of Illuminati.

UPDATE: For the record, I think the idea of the Illuminati is entertaining in an X-file-ish sort of way but I don't believe in that conspiracy.

Christianity started in the obscure backwater occupied territory of Palestine in the Rom…

Sports: UCLA basketball limping

Went to my first basketball game this season. Unfortunately, they lost to the Huskies.

They did have the lead but they seemed to run out of gas as the 2nd half wore on. Also, down the stretch it was clear that Farmar wasn't able to do much on his ankles.

The starting lineup had 3 freshman (Roll, a Moute and Wright). Abboya subbed in at center and power forward but tweaked his knee in the middle of the first half and didn't return. Hopefully, he will be able to return for tomorrow's game against USC. Fey and Hollins got in a few minutes but aren't quite in game shape yet. Rubin also subbed in for a few minutes. Freshman Collison got a lot of minutes.

There is a huge logjam in the standings with many teams with two losses. Hopefully, the Bruins will be able to get healthy very soon and be able to stay in the top tier of the Pac-10.

Devotional Thoughts: Day Laborers

Am looking at Matthew 20:1-16.

The Kingdom of Heaven is compared to a man hiring workers for his vineyard. He hires at 9AM, noon, 3PM and 5PM.

At the end of the day, he gives all the workers a day's wages.

The ones who were hired earlier complain.

The owner replies, "Friend, I haven't been unfair! Didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take it and go, I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?"

Jesus then gives the punch-line: And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then.

People come to have faith in Jesus at different points. Some make that commitment early in life while others make that decision much later. But in the end, whether one has an early start or a late one, the start is only possible by the gracious invitation of Jesus.

And so the early believers like the 9AM hir…

Sports: Shipp out for season

UCLA's small forward is done for the season. Bozeman who filled that spot while Shipp was recovering earlier in the season is also out. I'm not sure who is going to take the 3 spot.

Some experts had UCLA as a team with Sweet Sixteen potential. Shipp was an important part of that puzzle.

I suppose UCLA might have to run a three guard offense with Farmar, Afflalo and Collison with Abboya, a Moute, Mata and Wright taking the two front court positions. I suppose in some occasions when the Bruins need a little more size they will have three of their "big" guys (they are hardly big by most standards) in and go back to two guards.

We shall see what Howland sends out tonight.

UPDATE: UCLA escapes with a 63-61 victory over WSU!

UPDATE: Mata will be out six weeks due to a fractured knee. Mata was the undersized but aggressive presence in the middle with seven-footers Fey and Hollins out due to injury. In the WSU game, freshman Roll took the 3 spot for Shipp. Freshman W…

Culture: Postrel on Megachurch Christianity

Postrel takes aim at Megachurch Christianity.

Excerpt:Today's suburban Christianity is all about accessibility. It's been dumbed down.

Now I'm not a Christian, let alone an evangelical. If megachurches want to play bad-to-mediocre rock instead of great hymns, that's their business. But the spread of Christian pap does have spillovers, not the least of which is that devout Christian faith no longer brings with it a deep familiarity with what's actually in the Bible, as opposed to a few verses from the preacher's PowerPoint.
Megachurch Christianity may hone organizational and business skills, but it isn't teaching believers to think about abstractions or communicate in higher than "everyday" language. No wonder megachurches combine their up-to-date media with fundamentalist doctrine. It fits well on PowerPoint--no paragraphs required. Leaving aside the validity of what they preach, today's most successful evangelicals are spreading pa…

Politics: Check out

Liveblogging of the Alito hearings.

So far, from what I've read, heard on radio reports and end of the day TV stories, it would seem that Alito is doing fine.

Devotional Thoughts: Why Devotional Thoughts?

If one is a devoted follower of the LA Dodgers, you go to the sports page to check on how they are doing.

If you are a devoted fan of a certain movie star, one will go to see the latest movie she/he is in.

Well, if one is devoted to God then how much more should I seek out what God has revealed to us in the Scriptures.

Am not nearly as consistent and disciplined in reading and meditating on the Bible as I like but I try. And blogging about what I read is one way to encourage myself to think a bit more about what I'm reading.

I try to read from the Psalms on a daily basis to start and end my days. The Psalms in the Hebrew Scripture are poetic devotional thoughts from all experiences of life. There are Psalms that leap for joy and others that express frustration and despair. God isn't shocked by anything we might say and the Psalms tell us we can be that honest to God.

I also try to read from some other part of the Bible. I'm currently reading through Matthew and so blogging…

Sports: All eyes on Rose Bowl

I am 0-3 so far in BCS bowl game predictions.

USC's offense is one of those where you can't stop 'em you can only hope to contain 'em. USC's offensive brain trust this year has erased memories of Norm Chow, offensive genius.

USC's defense is suspect. Notre Dame and Fresno State showed some holes.

Texas offense is on the arm and legs of Vince Young. The Pac10 doesn't have QBs like that and so it will be interesting to see how USC's defense responds. If they pull back they risk giving him too much time to pick at the secondary which is what happened with Fresno State. If they go after him and don't get him, then he can run or pass as he likes. But of course if USC's pass rush traps him then it could be a 56-17 outcome.

Texas defense is key. If they get blown off the line then White and Bush run wild and again we look at a 49-10 result.

My guess though is that Texas defense comes to play and pushes the score down into the 20s and it will come …

Culture: Hmm, there must be a lot of Giada fans out there!

I've noticed an increase in blog traffic.

Most of it has been driven by searches that pulled up this post about Giada De Laurentiis.

That post has been up since April 2005 and I didn't see much traffic to it until recently.

I wonder why?

I suppose maybe her program on Food Nework - Everyday Italian is getting even more popular?

Or perhaps Google's rating of this blog on this particular search for some reason has risen?

The other blog post that got lots of hits at one time was a review of the film Exorcism of Emily Rose.

@ the movies: Munich

2.5 stars out of 4.

Thumbs up but be warned it is very violent and an emotionally draining movie to watch.

In 1972, Palestinian terrorists took Israeli athletes as hostages during the Olympic Games in Munich. German commandos attempted a hostage rescue at the airport but all the hostages and terrorists were killed.

The film has us see the hostage drama unfolding on ABC News by having us watch as the people of the time watch on television. I was old enough to have seen it on television so it was a bit spooky to see the footage again.

The story then moves into the inner circle of the Israeli government where they decided that covert teams would be sent to assasinate individuals Israeli intelligence identified as being part of the Munich hostage plot.

Lynn Cohen as Prime Minister Goldia Mier discussing the plans to find and kill the terrorist planners.

Eric Bana stars as Avner who is assigned leadership of one of the teams. He is "taken off the books" of the Israeli government a…

Sports: Its now college basketball conference play - Go Bruins!

UCLA is 11-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

The Bruins should finish in the upper half of the Pac-10. Wining the conference is unlikely as they have some deficiencies on the team - they are a donut of a team - nothing in the middle.

At the 1 spot, Farmar is in his second year. He is doing well but he has an injured ankle which is preventing him from playing his full potential and ankle injuries are often nagging ones. Collison, the freshman is getting more minutes to give Farmar a break and so far he seems up to the task.

At the 2 spot, Afflalo has been terrific and leads the team in scoring.

At the 3 spot, Shipp is finally recovered from off-season surgery and is getting the rust off and seems poised to develop further from his freshman season last year. His backup, Bozeman, was starting while Shipp was recovering and was doing a solid job. Unfortunately, Bozeman has injured his shoulder and it might be season ending. He has been the hard luck Bruin having lost one seas…