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. . .  that I should be mindful of daily.

In situations where you are waiting for information or activity results required to proceed with other decisions or work, ask yourself:

 

“What will I do if A happens, and what will I do if B happens?”

 

Perhaps the answers to both of these questions are the same. In any case, if the next step is actionable before the awaited result happens, do it now.

(Roughly in the order that they appear to us yearly)

 

1. The pieces of the 7 inch base of ice on our driveway begins to break off and melt.

            (This year our oldest helped it along with our sledgehammer)

2. Our kids start to wear shorts

            (and walk outside barefoot – “Kids! Get back in here!”)

3. Removal of the Christmas Wreath

            (we are wise enough to remove the pumpkin while it is still frozen)

4. The large body of melted water 50′ by 40′ in our back yard begins to form.

            (We have entitled it Lake JamFam – the kids go slide around on it)

5. Warm Enough weather to go on our first picnic.

(The Ten Month Battle to beat last year’s picnic record begins)

6. Maple Sap Buckets on the trees

(And boiling sap on the porch)

7. Seed Planting is begun!

            (In preparation for square foot gardening)

8. Our neighbor replaces his flags (including a US Flag and a Marines Flag)

            (This isn’t done yet – they are looking pretty ragged)

9. Jamsco begins to wonder if the lawnmower will work after a winter of not being used.

            (Should I get it to the repair shop now?)

10. Lake JamFam finally begins to recede.

            (So we can finally get to our camper trailer again)

What are signs of spring at your home?

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Calvin (# 13)

 

You know, the world should’ve been designed so everyone didn’t have to eat each other to survive. There should just be fewer people and animals to begin with. And the world certainly could’ve used a more even distribution of its resources, that’s for sure. *** My junior scientist book says not to get discouraged by temporary setbacks. *** I’ve been thinking. You know how boring Dad is? Maybe it’s a big phony act! Maybe after he puts us to bed, Dad dons some weird costume and goes out fighting crime! Maybe this whole “Dad” stuff is his secret identity! Maybe the Mayor calls Dad on a secret hot line whenever the ciy’s in trouble! Maybe Dad’s a masked superhero! *** I’ve decided not to go to school this fall. I don’t need an education. I don’t need to learn things. I don’t need to develop skills. It’s too much trouble.  I’ll go on talk shows and hype myself. ***  Hold it. What’s the matter? Has this book been a best seller? Has the author won a Pulitzer? Did the New York Times like it? I only want stories that come highly recommended. Are there any laudatory quotes on the dust jacket? ***  There’s nothing like a good sneer to dry up conversation. With this sneer, I hope to be an unbearable burden at any social occasion. *** It’s only work if somebody makes you do it. *** There are just four simple machines to alter force. The lever, the pulley, the inclined plane, and, um, the internal combustion engine. *** Boy, when we’re the cover story of popular mechanics, I’ll have some choice words to say about family encouragement. *** Robots should be RESPECTFUL. *** All I’VE got to say is they’re not making ME learn any foreign languages! If English is good enough for ME, then by golly, it’s good enough for the REST of the world! Everyone should speak English or just shut up, that’s what I say!  *** They can make me go until grade eight, and then, FFFT, I’m outta here! *** Is it? It IS! It’s SATURDAY! Oh boy! No school! No homework! Just cartoons and fun the whole day long! HOORAY! Turn on the TV! Get out the cereal! IT’S SAAATURDAY!

For this week’s Friday Challenge:  Write a new Myth

==

One Little Word

 

A high-ranking demon moved through the city, carrying a black blade and wearing a black cloak. As he walked, more than a few of his fellow fallen recognized him. Some saluted. But one called out.

 

“Commander Knifeweed!”

 

It was Lerpser, a former subordinate from a few decades ago. The commander turned to face him and regarded him soberly.

 

“Lieutenant?”

 

“If you will follow me less than a minute, I will show you something that you will find inspiring.”

 

The Commander nodded his assent and they began to walk. Lerpser escorted him along a high and adorned wall and to a gated doorway. As he beckoned him through the gateway Lieutenant commented, “We often speak of the glory of great battles, but most often we win or lose in a situation such as this – simple decisions made by individual humans”

 

They walked through the doorway into a courtyard with a small garden and a fountain. There were three demons there, none of whom he recognized.  They were all huddled around a point near the fountain, whispering words of despair to a lone mortal who was sitting alone. She was perhaps 20 years old. She was weeping.

 

Your life is only going to get worse.

 

There is no love for you, and you deserve none.

 

All that you have done in your entire life is meaningless.

 

Knifeweed could see amusement on their faces and they were chuckling.

 

Off to the side he noted two other demons with swords out and ready, preventing an angel, presumable a Guardian, from getting near the mortal. When the angel saw Commander Knifeweed, he recognized him and, moments later, fled. Knifeweed wondered if he would see him again.

 

“I have brought a visitor,” stated Lerpser, obviously proud of his guest.

 

A young demon named Slinny, one of the three, eyed Knifeweed with obliviousness and doubt. “Should we care? See our project here. We would like to get on with it.”

 

“Do you know not know?” asked an incredulous Lerpser, “Here we have a hero! He has worked many victories. He has done much to rid our world of the human vermin and escorting them to our Father’s city in the depths. He was present at the battle for the soul of Israel when they were under King Zedekiah. He even had a hand in the slaying of the Son of the Enemy!”

 

The others looked at him with awe and reverence. Knifeweed judged them soberly. They don’t know, do they, he mused, the damage that we did to our cause with that act. Well, I will not disabuse them of their confusion.

 

“I have invited him here to allow his to make the last play in your human’s choices.”

Knifeweed looked at the young women. A few tattoos and a piercings told him that her short life had been hard. She held a small knife. It was pressed against her neck.

 

Lerpser eyed Slinny, knowing that this would grate against the younger demon sense of pride. Slinny remained silence, but all could see that he burned.

 

Lerpser turned back to Knifeweed, “So what say you? Will you finish our work here? I guarantee you’ll find amusement in the task.”

 

The Commander considered her more deeply. An innocent – as innocent as any of these creatures could be. Still, she deserved Hell. He looked at Lerpser, “I will”

 

“Ah, good. Soldiers, prepare to see a master at work.”

 

Knifeweed moved towards the girl. “What is her name?”

 

Slinny was troubled by this question, “Why do need -”

 

Lerpser put a hand on the younger demon’s chest to calm him and stop his insolence, “Obviously he wants to personalize her ordeal,” and then to Knifeweed, “Her name is Priscilla.”

 

The commander knelt down and looked at her.

 

“One little word shall fell her,” said Lerpser, triumphantly and cheerlessly.

 

“I desire space” he stated boldly. Lerpser nodded to the others and they all moved away.

 

Knifeweed looked into her eyes. He put a hand on her shoulder and he whispered his word.

 

No.

 

Here eyes widened as if she was considering something new. But they held no hope and no joy.

 

Knifeweed leaned over again.

 

You shall not do this thing. Are you not a human? And does not God love all of his creations?

 

She put her hand in her face and wept again.

 

Lerpser whispered with excitement, “She has learned a new dread. Truly he works wonder. He’s given her some new torment for her before the end.”

 

There is hope, it’s just been kept from you. There is beauty and joy and One who can give it to you. Throw away the knife, Priscilla.

 

The blade clattered against the stone pavement 15 feet away.

 

All smiles left the demons’ faces. Lerpser was at a loss. Had Knifeweed failed utterly? The commander’s words must have backfired – that happened to the best of demons on occasion. But he saw Knifeweed leaning over again – he would make things right. She needed to retrieve the blade.

 

Help will come. You can believe. God calls to you.

 

And then she sat back and closed her eyes and there was a flicker of a smile on her face before she was overcome again with emotion and tears. But the smile lasted long enough for the demons to catch it. And Slinny was the first to react, pulling out his sword: “Betrayal!”

 

Knifeweed stood upright, turned around, stood between the girl and the demons, squared himself and lifted his blade just in time to meet Slinny’s as it bore down on him. 

 

“I have decided” yelled Knifeweed, “I will not be a part of this evil work anymore.”

 

Lerpser jumped up next to Slinny.

 

“Then leave her to us!”

 

“No, I will not!” And he twisted his sword and sliced Slinny in half. A flash of light and then there was only five demons facing him. He saw that two of them were trying to get around him to gain access to the girl. He jumped over to intercept them, getting closer to where she was sitting – still troubled, but obviously more at peace. Swords rang out.

 

This will not last long, Knifeweed thought grimly. God help me.

 

Suddenly the blackness of his blade crumbled as it crashed against Lerpser’s sword, a white blazing sword emerged. And another flash and his black outer-garment had flashed white and now was shimmering silver.

 

Lerpser fell to the newly born angel’s blade in the next moment. But the four others were closing in.

 

As the battle went on, a slightly older human woman walked into the courtyard, looked around as if searching for someone and when she noticed Priscilla she made her way over to her quickly.

 

“You’ve been crying.”

“I . . . yes, I have.”

“Do you need help?”

“I need hope. I need God.”

“Then I think I can help. I know Him. I am confident he will save you. My name is Talitha”

 

Right after the older woman had entered, two angels followed. They bolted towards Knifeweed and the three of them stood guard over the two women. This was too much for the three remaining and now leaderless demons. They jeered one last time and took flight.

 

“Why . . . are you here?” asked the young woman asked her helper.

 

 “I have no explanation. I just felt I was needed here.”

 

“We are in your debt,” one of the angels, the one who had seen his arrival in the courtyard, said to Knifeweed, “But I don’t know you. And I thought I knew all of the knights in the city.”

 

 “Indeed I don’t know, myself.”

 

“You are no longer Knifeweed – now you are ‘Tychaneos’” said a voice, clear and strong. The new angel and his new compatriots looked around to see who was speaking, and they were surprised to find out that it was the older woman, Talitha, speaking to them as one blind, for she couldn’t see them. “And I bring a message from the most high. You have been rewarded. You are fallen no longer.”

 

“May I ask, rewarded for what? I have done so much evil.”

 

“You chose to not overlook an injustice. You took pity on one who was helpless. This you did against her strong oppressors at your own peril. And what you have done for one of the least of these, you have done for the Son.”

 

“I am not worthy of this honor. . . . this gift,” protested Tychaneos.

 

“No, you are not. But He is a God of Mercy and Grace.”

 

“I am grateful” he replied. He was tired, he began to sit down. “But if I may. . . .”

“Make you request.”

“I ask for the honor of being this young woman’s protector.”

“This is granted. You have already proven your worthiness in this regard. But I warn you, she will need significant protection in the coming months and years. They will not let go of their prey easily.”

“I understand.”

 

Talitha sat down. She had heard the words she had spoken, but she had no idea where they came from.

 

Priscilla had heard the words, also.

 

“What was that about?”

“Truly I have no idea. I was speaking to an invisible being. My guess is I was given words to address an angel.”

 

They sat in silence. And then Priscilla stated, “I have no idea what I’m going to do now.”

 

Talitha smiled. “I do. You are going to learn. I have much to teach you. And then you will teach as well.”

 

They walked out of the courtyard, speaking of good and noble things. They left the knife behind.

 

No demon ever got within two hundred feet of Priscilla for the rest of her life.

We bought our new home three springs ago. Two springs ago in the middle of March I was doing a chore outside and realized that the large maple tree was dripping on me, despite the fact that all of the snow had melted off of it. I realized it was sap.

 

So I drilled a hole and pounded in a tube from our kids marble game and sap started dripping out.

 

We have three of these trees in our yard so I drilled and pounded in two more tubes. That was a Saturday. By Sunday night we had gathered seven gallons. So we got our large turkey roaster and started boiling. We took in more sap and it took awhile, but by Tuesday we had a half gallon of real maple syrup. We also did it last year (with actual taps) and we’re doing it again this year. This Monday we finished the boiling down to finish our first half gallon. We hope to get more.

 

Some comments:

 

- The experts say that it takes 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to make one gallon of syrup. Our trees are silver maples, not sugar maple, and these officially require more boiling. But we have found that boiling 20 down to 1 ratio results in syrup that is thick enough.

 

- If we actually wanted to save money, we should build a fire and use that for the boiling. Perhaps in later years.

 

- Maple sap runs primarily when the temperature is below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. We have not had a lot of those days. It’s been too warm. I find myself wishing the crazy wish that it would get colder for a little while. Please don’t curse me for this.

 

- It’s a good project for kids. My oldest especially likes to go around to the trees twice or three times a day to collect the sap.

 

- One thing we learned is that you should not pour cold sap into the boiling pot. This stops the boil too quickly and we think it gives it a not so great tasting aftertaste.

 

- We have been told by neighbors that these trees were planted in 1895 for a road that used to go through our backyard.

 

- Real maple syrup tastes good.

 

 

Photos By Carl (Or Oldest – Age 11)

I thank God for gifted Christians.

 

- There’s two kinds of swearing – Name in Vain (NIV), and Coarse Language (CL).

 - I try not to do either of these, but NIV is a greater sin.

 

- I have judging issue with swearing. As soon as I hear someone swear (either kind), I immediately think “Not a real Christian – probably not saved”. I’m pretty sure this could be seen as sinful judging on my part.

 

- It seems to me that for all Christians, of all swearing, JC should be considered the most offensive (and blasphemous) utterance.

 

- I’m pretty sure that I haven’t uttered a swear word (either kind) in the last 15 years, and perhaps less than ten times in my entire life. I can tell you the story behind either of them.

 

- For example, I got my mouth washed out once for saying H in the wrong way.

 

- One or Twice I have sworn accidentally – not the word I meant to say. This is reminding me of the time when my extended family was playing Pictionary, trying to guess words and my aunt (who I have never hear swear) was unwittingly but repeatedly yelling the F word.

 

- Vox Day is occasionally extremely coarse and this troubles me, but I have never seen him NIV swear. This is to his credit. There are a few people like this. It is at least consistent.

 

- Whenever I hear a nominal Christian NIV swear, I want to ask him – It’s one of the Ten Commandments – what are you thinking?

 

- Am I correct in this statement? Of all of the Ten Commandments – NIV swearing is the only one that is not shown narratively in the entire Bible. In other words, people murder and commit adultery and worship idols in the Bible, but they never take the Lords Name in Vein. This seems to be to be pretty significant.

 

- Yet, people do NIV swear all the time in our culture. It seems to me that people who do this are being spiteful to God: “Oh, you don’t want me to say those five words? Well, then, that’s the words I’m going to say.” This seems like a very dangerous attitude.

Thought?

Later this week: Thoughts about Swearing in Literature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what Father, who had a free weekend evening, wouldn’t take his kids out in the lovely 52 degree weather on their bikes?

Not this one!

Notable*:

- My wife stayed at home with our youngest for a little peace and quiet.

- I found out when we got to our desitination that the funny noise coming from our newest biker’s bike was due to very low tires. She was really having to work.

- Our destination was the nearby elementary school playground (at the school where our kids would attend if we didn’t homeschool.) It appeared that they weren’t sobered by this, as I might have thought. In any case, it’s a pretty nice playground.

- 7:45 on the first weekend of spring is perhaps too late to finish a bike trip. A Passer-by suggested we get some lights. 

- While we are flagrant in our injury prevention avoidance when it comes with trampolines, not so when it comes to bike helmets.

 

* Depending on your definition of this word, obviously.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Indiana Jones

I don’t believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus pocus. *** I hate snakes. *** It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage. *** One of the great dangers of archeology, not to life and limb, although that does sometimes take place, I’m talking about folklore. *** I can only say I’m sorry so many times. *** Nothing shocks me. I’m a scientist. *** DON’T call me Junior! *** I’m going to continue to do things the way I think they should be done. *** I’m like a bad penny, I always turn up. *** “X” never, ever marks the spot. ***  Don’t get sentimental. *** In Latin Jehovah begins with an “I”!  *** I don’t like fast women. *** Nazis. I hate these guys. *** “X” marks the spot. *** Don’t be a child. Find something to fight with. *** You want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library! *** Be careful, you may get exactly what you wish for. *** Take it easy. *** When it comes to scorpions, the bigger the better. Small one bites you, don’t keep it to yourself. *** You don’t have to get sore all the time just to prove how tough you are. *** Dance on your own time.

My encouragement to someone who is experiencing difficulty (small to large)

 

Looking into the future, how will you remember this time? I think that depends not only on how difficult it was, but also on how well you handled it.

 

So if you look back at a difficult time and remember that you

- were irritable towards others (or worse)

- responded like someone who doesn’t know God

- were slothful*

- gave up

- responded in sinful ways

 

Then you will look back and think of it as a very bad time.

 

But if you look back and see that despite the difficulty, you

- were kind and generous to others

- prayed more

- trusted God more and trusted your own abilities less

- kept working at solving the problem (where applicable)

 

Then you will look back and think of it as less evil and you may even look back on it fondly (again where applicable**) and give thanks to God for the grace to handle it in such a way.

 

Does this seem reasonable? Those of you who have experience significant difficulty can let me know if I’m way off base here.

 

*I want to be careful here. There is a difference between being slothful and pulling back from certain kinds of work or activity. And some kinds of difficulty cause a person to require great amounts of rest. This is healthy, not slothful.

 

** I want to be careful here, too. Years after significant loss (a death of a near one, for example) one might reasonably look back at it as horrific, no matter how well you handled it. But maybe your God-honoring response might make your memories 5 percent better. And that is something.

I would think that all people with Arminian theology would fairly quickly evolve to Calvinism or devolve into Open Theism – like a raindrop that lands on a continental divide will go either east or west. Obviously there is some plateau that I can’t see.

Caleb Szajner, a 21-year-old college student from West Lakeland Township in Washington County, died Tuesday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul after being hospitalized since Saturday, when he was injured while attempting a back flip at Trollhaugen in Dresser, Wis.

Caleb’s family spent the past few days at his bedside, ultimately making the decision to donate several of his organs. They said their religious faith has been their source of comfort since the accident.

“He ended up leaving us doing one of the things he loved doing,” said his father Amos Szajner. “Our lives are in God’s control. Nothing happens without purpose, even in this case.”

All agree that the death of a child brings about a very difficult kind of grief. This family’s testimony in the middle of this grief is extremely God-honoring.  May He walk with them and grant them peace and (sooner than they expect) joy in the coming months and years.

Well,  it finally got into the upper 50′s and were able to finally enjoy Subway sandwiches in a large picnic shelter (in spacious and wooded Snail Lake Regional Park) and a walk through rivers of snowmelt.  It was beautiful and it’s only going to get beautifuller.

By the way our earliest picnic was March 6, in 2005. We are now on our way on our attempt to beat last year’s picnic count record of 81. We’ll see.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Calvin  – Part 12

It’s a half-hour later than it was half an hour ago! Run! Run! *** I wish MY bathtub had an agitator. *** In MY book, food should be nutrition AND entertainment. *** I’m so smart it’s almost scary. I guess I’m a child progeny. *** People think it must be fun to be a super genius. But they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world. ***  We super powers have it tough. *** There’s no delaying the inevitable. *** I’d love to start the week with a little hypothermia. *** Off to work, eh, Dad? Yep. It sure is a nice day. The kind of day just made for sitting under a tree and reading a good novel cover to cover, don’t you think? Too bad that’s a luxury at your age. Well, maybe you can do it when you’re 65. I’m sure you’ll be that old before you know it. Enjoy your day at work.  *** Dad sure is surly in the mornings. *** You know what’s weird? I don’t remember much of anything until I was three years old. Half of my life is a complete blank! I must’ve been brainwashed! Good heavens, what kind of sicko would brainwash an infant?! And what did I know that someone wanted me to forget?? Boy, am I mysterious.  *** Hey, Mom, did you know that gravity in outer space works as if space was a soft, flat surface? It’s true. Heavy matter, like planets, sinks into the surface and anything passing by, like light, will “roll” toward the dip in space made by the planet. Light is actually deflected by gravity! Amazing, huh? And speaking of gravity, I dropped a pitcher of lemonade on the kitchen floor when my roller skates slipped.

(since a couple people have asked) (without going too much into the specifics)

 

- He was guilty.

 

- I was surprised at how fast the trial went. Less than 24 hours. More than half of that was spent determining who was going to be on the jury.

 

- The promise of a free supper did not encourage anyone to deliberate longer. Our deliberation actually took about 2 minutes. Someone suggested that we put it to a silent vote (on paper) and all said guilty.

 

- It seems like the trickiest part of the judge’s job is to determine, very quickly (at the point of each lawyer objection) which data the jury should not hear.

 

- Similarly, the trickiest part of being a trial lawyer must be to know which questions not to ask. The defense lawyer clearly was restraining himself.

 

- I really wanted to ask a few questions before going into deliberation (to clarify some details of what happened on the night in question), but that can’t be allowed.

 

- The defense rested after bringing no witnesses to the stand. The defendant didn’t say anything during the entire trial.

 

- It is a sobering thing to think that you are a part of a group that will make a decision that may (at the worst) set a guilty man free, or put an innocent in jail.

 

- It is also sobering to realize that even if we were correct in calling him guilty, we are still rendering a decision that will ensure a human significant jail-time.

 

- After the verdict, evidently, a judge can be more free with his opinions. He came back to the jury deliberation room and without actually saying the words, let us know that we had made a wise decision. He also told us that this was the defendant’s fifth offense.

 

- Overall, it was a good experience.

 

 

It has been 129 days since our family has gone on a picnic.  This is too long.

. . . that Open Theism is Wrong

 

As I mentioned, it has been too long since I talked about my Calvinist leanings. It’s time to get back to it. But I will have to go slightly round about.

 

What do you think when someone says that a certain event is going to happen and then it doesn’t. You think a little less of him, right? And if he does this often, you begin to lose more respect for him. And if he more than once states “I am going to do that” and then doesn’t, you really begin to think, “Hey, guy! You need to start planning ahead. You need to see if you can carry through with what you say you’re going to do before you say it!”

 

In short, this person is not acting in a wise way. I think most people would agree to this.

 

So I wouldn’t want you to say that of me.

 

That Jamsco! He’s always saying he’s going to do this great thing and then it never happens.

 

If it’s true, tell me. But if it’s not true, it’s insulting.

 

Also, don’t say that about my Dad. Or my Pastor.

 

And don’t (here’s the point, finally) say it about my God.

 

I understand that Greg Boyd is a nice man. Loving, intelligent and all respect him, including those who disagree with him. I wish no ill against him.

 

But I have this to say against him. He claims that God makes predictions and then they turn out to be false – that God is Untrustworthy.

 

A while back, a friend of mine, knowing that I was Calvinist, suggested that I read Pastor Boyd’s book God Of The Possible (I finally got to it, Mike!)

This book does a good job outlining his views of Open Theism (simply put, that God doesn’t know the future). It is short read, fairly interesting and it is quite clear. The passages I’m talking about here are in the appendix, but they are also (helpfully) given here.

 

So, for example, Pastor Boyd takes this passage (from Numbers 11):

 

11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

 

13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, . . . . Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

 

20 Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word.”

 

And says this of it:

In response to Israel’s bickering the Lord says “I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than they” (vs. 12). Moses asks the Lord to forgive the people, and the Lord eventually responds, “I do forgive, just as you have asked” (vs. 20).

Unless the intention the Lord declared to Moses in verse 12 was insincere, we must conclude that he did not at that point intend on forgiving the Israelites. It cannot have been certain at that time (let alone from all eternity) that God would forgive the Israelites. Hence, it seems that either the Lord is insincere, or the classical view of divine foreknowledge is mistaken.

 

So what Pastor Boyd is saying is that when God made his prediction of what he was going to do, he was wrong. And when Moses pointed out these things, God said “Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Well then, forget what I said earlier about destroying everyone.”

 

And then Pastor Boyd takes 1 Kings 21:21-29:

 21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, . . .

 27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days;

 

And says this of it:

Because of Ahab’s great sin the Lord tells him, “I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you…” (vs. 21). Ahab repents and the Lord responds by telling his messenger prophet, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days…” (vs. 29).

The Lord revoked his prophecy against Ahab and delayed his judgment on his family line because of Ahab’s repentance. If all of this was foreknown to God, his prophecy to Ahab that he was going to bring disaster and consume him could not have been given in earnest. If verse 21 expresses God’s genuine intention, then we must conclude that God’s mind can genuinely change in the light of change in people’s attitudes and action (something the Lord explicitly tells us is true in other passages, e.g. Jer. 18:7–10).

So again Pastor Boyd says that God said “I will destroy you” and has no idea of the possibility that Ahab might repent, so when he does, it is a surprise and God changes his mind and doesn’t carry out his curse.

 

Really, if I were God, I would be insulted. What, you think I had no idea this might happen?

 

Over and over as Pastor Boyd looks at these passages, he states that where God makes a prediction and they don’t come true, it is because he changes his mind based on how humans responded. I disagree.

 

So what are we to do with these threats that don’t come true? The answer is in Jeremiah, and Dr. Boyd should know this, because he quotes it in his book.

 

From Jeremiah 18

7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.

 

People who heard God’s curses knew this. They knew his statements promising destruction were conditional. So when they repented and the predictions didn’t come true, they didn’t think “Aha, we got him there!”  No, they thanked God that he was so merciful.

 

As I say, this is one way that Open Theism is wrong. But only one way.

JamFam, as guided by the inspired mind of my wife, turned our clocks forward on Friday night right before going to bed. Our whole Saturday was spent as if we were an hour ahead.  So going to bed early wasn’t a problem and didn’t feel strange and Sunday morning wasn’t a problem at all.

I recommend it.

Back in my high school days, ELO was one of two band that I seriously enjoyed and got all their albums.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Electric Light Orchestra.

 

Talk is cheap on satellite but all I get is static *** Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why you had to hide away for so long. Where did we go wrong? *** All I had to do was pick up the phone – I’m out in space, trying to talk to someone. *** Just on the border of your waking mind, there lies another time where darkness and light are one. *** As you tread the halls of sanity, you feel so glad that you’re unable to go beyond. ***  You want to stay out with your fancy friends. I’m tellin’ you it’s got to be the end. *** When you see the shadows falling, when you hear that cold wind calling hold on tight to your dream. ***  I’m never going to be the same again. *** It’s a living thing, it’s a terrible thing to lose. *** When you get what you want, it’s a long way down and you can see for miles around. When you lose it, nothing is for real. If you see my dream, send it back to me. *** You can do most anything. Now you’re a 21st century man. *** A flowing river of illusion running with confusion Never gone – it goes on and on. *** The city streets are full of people going nowhere making time. *** The change from night to day is really only hours. *** Let that song ring out. That’s how it’s meant to be. *** Feel that rhythm and it’s really going to thrill your soul. *** Mr. Blue, you get it right, but soon comes Mr. Night, creepin’ over – now his hand is on your shoulder. Never mind, I’ll remember you this way. *** Insufficient data coming through.

Another Entry for the weekly fiction writing contest over at The Friday Challenge

 

This week’s theme – Nihilists In Space. (Or Nihilism in Science Fiction)

 

A warning for my regular readers: Nihilism is depressing and harsh.

 

Note: I am doing something here and I’m wondering if you, the reader can figure it out.

 

Please let me know in the comments if you did.

 

== 

 

Old Story

 

2433 AD

I, the author, have been captain over the ship ‘Rusal Rae’ for 28 years.

 

I am the captain. That should feel good. I command thirteen hundred people. But my endeavors and travels have lost their adventure.

 

Nearly thirty years have I been on this ship – thirty years sailing through the galaxy – and quite successful, too, by any standards. But to what end? To what good?

 

People die on my ship as they grow old, and others are born. Someday I will die, too. For what purpose? The galaxy wheels on its axis – around and around it turns and it will be doing that for millennia, eons. Ten million eons.

 

My words aren’t enough to explain my boredom. The next time I hear one of my officers say “Hey, that’s new!” off they’ll go, to the brig. It is not! It’s been there since before humanity began.

 

==

 

2436 AD

I, the author have been captain over the ship ‘Rusal Rae’ for 31 years. I have seen all that there is to be done in space. It is an unhappy business this life given to men on voyages. I tried to gain wisdom. Again, I was successful. I read from many teachers. I deduced many outcomes. Men come to listen to my wisdom.  But it is all foolishness and does me no good; he who increases his knowledge increases his own sorrow.

 

==

 

2438 AD

I have been captain over the ship Rusal Rae for 33 years. I decided to try to gain happiness and peace by seeking after pleasure. So I’ve had women (I took them from their home worlds and made them my wives) and I have had my fill of liquors from two dozen planets and I have laughed. But what is laughter? When you’re captain, you can make anyone laugh. And when you’re drunk, anyone can make you laugh. There is no challenge!

 

==

 

2452 AD

I have been captain over the ship Rusal Rae for 47 years. I decided that I should put my hand to building a colony. My men reluctantly concurred. So we have spent 12 years on a serviceable and largely uninhabited planet – Modr. There was no difficulty in subduing the population. They were barely past the industrial stage. Selected and painful killings of the local leaders who defied us, (their deaths were performed publically by my hand, I’ll point out) and they submitted. Deal out acute and decisive pain and most any group of lifeforms is willing to submit.

 

We built cities (with Modrian slaves – they are strong) and developed food growing lands and we took the valuable metals and filled our storage bays. I can’t imagine that any other captain has done this well and this quickly with a colony. We took what we wanted. But the more I thought about it, I saw that it was like collecting the waste fumes our ship leaves behind us. What good will it do me, long term?

 

For I remembered that humans have been planting food for three thousand years. They have been conquering other races for nearly that long. All we have done is perfected the technique.

 

So I hated life, because what is done in all the galaxy is grievous to me – it’s all foolishness and I feel like I’m chasing after solar wind.

 

Because it’s still work! It’s not like I, as captain, ever get rest. I spend more time at work than the slaves – those idiot slaves who have never even seen a sun beyond their own.

 

So I gave up. What has a man gained from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the Modrian sun? Even during the night watch my mind got no sleep.

 

For behold, I will still die. Is this not sobering? Just like the slaves. And then they’ll cremate me and the molecules will end up floating in the Modrian atmosphere. This is zero percent better than ending my existence in the soil of a Modrian continent, where the slaves end up.

 

So I took a Singler down to one of our cities and watched the slaves. As I watched, one of them threw down his tool and refused to work.

 

I noted his name – it was Toorook.

 

Following orders I had put in place a decade ago, I watched as he was cut in half by the guard (another Modrian) using his lazer knife. And then in quarters. And the parts were laid in the gate of the city for all slaves to see.

 

And I saw that Toorook is better off than any living man. But better than Toorook is his son, for I looked into the matter and found out that his son died one day after birth – having not seen the evil deeds that are done under his sun. I had the entire family killed. I curse them.

 

The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

 

==

 

I put out notices to the Modrian natives:

 

Guard your steps when you come to my ship. To draw near to listen is better than to offer foolish gifts. When you speak, be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before me, for I am the captain and you are Modrian. Let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

 

What you promise me, do not delay in doing it, for I take no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. I am the one you must fear.

 

If you see in your city the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher official, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for your world in every way: I, the captain, am committed to cultivated fields.

 

==

2454 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 49 years. We have spent 14 years on Modr.

 

I am finding that the more we take from the Modrian, the less I am satisfied by it. And I require more guards, and more bribe money to catch the spies. The slaves get more peace than I do!

 

I learned from a weak and panicked Modrian corporal that he knew of a man that had successfully hidden some large quantities of the source minerals for the Deutrion we need to power our ship (they use it for fuel as well) but that it had all been destroyed when our EarthSpiter (working to create a roadway) disintegrated that part of the hill where it was hidden. The hider’s name was Ver’r. How foolish he must feel.

 

Ver’r was born into his world naked, and naked he will leave it. Maybe soon. He will leave it from the cell on my ship that he is now arms-up legs-down beambound. We took him that very day. His children will now starve. This is evil. I did evil.

 

I did evil. I do evil.

 

But all his days Ver’r will eat in darkness in much aggravation and sickness and anger. There is a time to weep.

 

One day I will leave naked. And unsatisfied.

 

Better the day of death than the day of birth.

 

==

 

2457 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 52 years. We have spent 17 years on Modr.

 

Surely there is not one person on our ship or on Modr, or indeed in all the universe, who only does good things. I believe this.

 

The Modrians are fighting us. They use the technology we gave them. Some of my own people aid them. Our guard patrols lost control of one of the cities for several hours before we sent 80 from our ship in Singlers and Doublers and destroyed whole segments of the crowd.

 

More warning posted to the Modrians:

 

I say: Keep the captain’s commands.

Do not work with those who fight against the Captain.

Listen to the word of the Captain. You are only Modrian slaves.

If the captain chooses for you to die, you will die. Do not ask for this.

 

The Modrians are no longer fighting us. ‘Punishment’ is perhaps too weak a word to describe what I did to those from my ship that helped them.

 

==

 

2459 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 54 years. We have spent 19 years on Modr.

 

My first mate, Jonfert, has mated with a Native. Her name is F’rar. He says it is for life. There is no shame in this. There is a time for embracing. Still, cannot he see that it is madness?

 

It will not last forever. One day she will die and cause him great grief or he will die and cause her great grief. Does he wish that for her? Does he love her, as he says?

 

I briefly considered secretly having her killed, but now I think I will not.  For some, I’m told, a little joy is worth much.

 

==

 

2460 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 55 years. We have spent 20 years on Modr.

 

We had experienced success on the world of Modr. Obviously this success gave me no satisfaction, but it did please others, so I consider it not an entirely wasted endeavor. As I say, we were doing well.

 

And then they came.

 

In a ship ten thousand times larger than our own. From a nearby system – Naisre. Evidently they had been watching us. They began destroying. First the planet, since our ship’s defenses were strong when they arrived -

 

They destroyed provinces, they evaporated seas, they tore down mountains.

 

- And all the while (we learned later) they were studying our ship. And soon they began to dismantle it.

 

They gave us no reasons. No demands. But I perceived this and understand it: Who needs a reason to destroy? There is a time for tearing down.

 

The Rusal Rae is built like an onion. It’s defenses are in layers. The bridge is in the center. One layer was torn off. A second. Hundreds died.

 

And then a ridiculous thing happened. A slave – A Modrian – who had been trained to fly a Singler (and evidently in matters of science) approached me, secretly. He told me he could save our ship if I let him have a Singler. I didn’t believe him – what could he do? He was a slave. He made me promise that when it was over I would not tell anyone what he had done. I assume he didn’t want anyone to know he had helped me, the Captain. I will keep that promise.

 

So in the end I deemed the risk of treachery worth the potential gain. I myself brought him to the Singler bay and watched as he attached some device that I knew nothing of to its underbelly. He flew off. I watched his work.

 

My engineers (bound to secrecy) later watched the imaging footage and summed it up like this: He got very close to the Naisrean ship. They leveled their weapon at him. The device he had installed absorbed the energy and nearly quadrupled it. The resulting self-destructive detonation was angular in nature and focused back on the Naisrien ship. It was crippled. The Rusal Rae then easily destroyed it under my command.

 

I didn’t learn this slave’s name. I heard that his own people call him ‘Betrayer’ because he became absent at an evil time.

 

I ask – is this not an injustice? This man was forgotten about in less than a few months, but I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his actions are not known.

 

Still, I acknowledge that under the Modrian sun, and all others, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

 

==

2462 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 57 years. We have spent 22 years on Modr.

 

Recovery is ongoing.

 

I saw something today that was pure folly: One of the Modrians flying a Singler directly over one of our officers who was walking on the ground like a native slave. Is that not ridiculous?

 

I had them both killed that very hour.

 

==

 

Final words to the Modrian Natives

 

Happy are you, O Modr, when your captain is wise and works progress. He feasts at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

 

Bread is made for laughter, and your liquor gladdens life, and money answers everything. Work for it!

 

Even in your thoughts, do not curse the Captain, nor in your bedroom curse your captors, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell your evil words.

 

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to a women giving birth, so you do not know the work of your Captain who makes everything possible.

 

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. Expect them.

 

The words of the wise are like the encouraging whip, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are all given by one Captain. My children, beware of anything beyond these truths.

 

==

2469 AD

I have been captain over Rusal Rae for 64 years. We have spent 29 years on Modr.

 

By my orders, three cities were destroyed today. There is a time to cast away stones. It matters not that there were many humans among the dead. The thousands who died are better off. There is a time to die. More will die tomorrow.

 

I listened to the screams. It is all meaningless. Their lives and mine. . . .

 

The end of the matter; all has been heard.

 

I’m told that there was a time that humans believed in a creator God figure, and even worshipped Him. I have read of other strains of humanity – far disparate from us in this branch – that still do this – they seek after a deity. One hears things.

 

But not here – not for centuries. None believe now. . .or obey.

 

But that . . . now that would be something to do. If there was an all-seeing Deity and he gave out commands – I would do that. There would be value in obeying, more so than obeying a mortal overlord. There would be good in looking for His judgment of deeds. I would seek to be good in His eyes. And maybe He would bring every deed into judgment – every secret thing, whether good or evil. And I imagine that He would be just.

 

I could do that. I would obey.

 

But no, it cannot be. I would have heard.

 

In any case, it’s too late. I hear the First Officer outside my door with a group of armed men. His wife is counted among the dead. These are mutinous voices.

 

I am unarmed.

 

They will kill me. There is a time to die. And I will leave naked.  Amen.

 

==

 

 

For those who still wonder what I have done here:

 

King Solomon writing Ecclesiastes – but what if he was a non-theistic space captain?

 

I am using the ESV.

 

Did you figure it out?

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