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Monday, August 18, 2014

Why Dating, Courting, And Generally Just Finding Someone To Marry Are Fundamentally Flawed

Because there are sinful people involved. Yep.

(Written in response to this article and its waves.)

But in seriousness, there are many ways men marry women, and one is not more fundamentally flawed than another. Dating, courtship, arranged marriages and betrothals - all have worked to produce both good, godly, and bad marriages. The whole thing itself always has been a mystery. But God is the one that brings couples He wants together, ultimately.

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord."
Proverbs 18:22

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, Yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; The way of a serpent upon a rock; The way of a ship in the midst of the sea; And the way of a man with a maid” 
Proverbs 30:18–19

About the article itself, it does make good points, but is overshadowed by bad observations and assumptions. I wouldn't say I wholeheartedly support his recommendation for traditional dating or condemnation purely on his grounds.

There are many Biblical principles that can be applied to any system of marrying. Particularly these important ones:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
2 Corinthians 6:14
Principle #1: Christians should marry Christians.

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
Amos 3:3
Principle #2: Christians should marry Christians whom they agree with. Whether in theology, finances, children, etc.

There are more principles.

Rather than prescribing a system to marry or challenging the article's points, I will address what the article calls the problem: high divorce rates (presumably among homeschoolers, Christian homeschoolers that is).

The Bible is clear that fornication before marriage and adultery (which counts as fornication if it is practiced consistently and not repented on) after marriage is forbidden. Guess what? Those two things are the only things that the Bible allows for divorce.

"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Matthew 19:9

So, to keep a good marriage, avoid those things. But enough about the negative, there are positive things to avoid divorce and have a loving marriage, whatever system of marrying you used. Such as:
"21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5

Really, what I'm trying to say is, if you want to avoid high divorce rates, teach unmarried couples to apply Biblical principles to their pursuit and  married couples to have good marriages before and after they get married.




Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Questions at a Split Session #SBCYC14

Some say the split sessions at the conferences do not have as much impact as the main sessions. I object. The split sessions offer more practicality and a more personal direction and depend less on emotional response. I place them in more or less equal importance as the main sessions. My main summary of the conference can be found here.

A little background: Bro. Reno Likins, before preaching a sermon on Tuesday, went into a matchmaking deal. He called up some of the single youth workers and chaperones that were guys and matched them with girls in the audience. I was pushed onstage, and I was matched with a lady named Genna.

I guess that's the IFB version of Christian Mingle?

Anyways, the following day at the split session, Bro. Dean Miller got me up front to ask me some probing questions about it.

"What was going in your head when you sat by Genna?" or something through that effect. The guy is hilarious, by the way. New favorite comedian preacher.

I said I prayed. And I did pray. But that's not the whole story. I chaperoned at this conference because the times I was at Shawnee YC and the Indian Creek Camp were some of the times where God's will was most clear to me. I'm a 20 year old in my senior year of secular college, and I have no/some idea what I will do afterwards. I have a record of past decisions, but my current situation and emotion makes me question.

Preachers always say that the one whom you will marry is the second most important decision after salvation. As much as I looked cool, confident, and debonair in the conference, I was terrified at the possibilities of what might happen next.

I'm not a Calvinist. I believe because there is free will, possible alternate universes/timelines (at least in the mind of God, not physically existing, mind you) where every decision except where God willed otherwise (that is, there are no universes or timelines where Jesus did not come down on Earth and was crucified and rose again, but there are timelines where I picked Reese's Puffs instead of oatmeal for breakfast). In that same vein, each girl that one might possibly marry represents a possibility, a new universe, a timeline, a possible will of God.

"Was she the prettiest girl you sat next to?"

No. (A gasp from the audience, probably one of her friends.) Probably not. Just being honest. Besides, I didn't have much time to study her.

"Top 5?"

I couldn't name top 5. I've sat next to some of the most beautiful girls. Some of whom have broken my heart.

All I could say was that she wasn't bad at all. She is beautiful in her own way.

After sitting down, he preached on Ruth. Or was it Esther? Probably Ruth. I didn't name the speakers in my sermon notes.

But what rang in my head was that the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to me. I remembered the earlier sermon on Ephesus. I remembered how they lost their first love. I then remembered Bro. Miller speaking on falling asleep in God's will,  and then waking to find his wife. Neat story.

"Fall in love with Me, first," He said.

But, but-

"Fall in love with Me."

This thought is what rings in my head after all the sermons have almost been forgotten. And within that thought encapsulates my conference decision.

Actually, there's still more to it than that simplification.

Being in a secular college through a Christian college program called College Plus, I meet many, many good Christian girls. Good, yes, but most of them are not the strain of Baptist I was raised in. Some are non-denominational, Reformed, Baptist, all very good Christians and I'm very blessed to be one of their friends. I started to wish I could date/court a couple prospects, because I can't find any girls within my circles of fundamentalism.

Remember that part where each girl represents a possibility of the future, a possibility of God's will, a possibility of an alternate, parallel universe? With one girl I see myself being a rich scientist of a corporation or even an entrepreneur. With another, I see myself as a leader in a non-denominational missions organization. Others still represents the veins of political power or educational standing or high society.

What if I married one of these good Christian girls who are not the same exact faith as I have? If God wants me to be a Baptist preacher as I surrendered myself years ago at Indian Creek, then... they don't represent the future, the timeline, the will God wants for me.

And my heart aches, because I have to wait. But that thought still rings in my head.

"Fall in love with Me."

I pray I surrender to this thought every day.

Thank you, Bro. Miller. I know your questions were in jest.

Shawnee Baptist Youth Conference '14: Power Up #SBCYC14


Quick Rundown:
The Shawnee Baptist Youth Conference is the best youth conference I have been to, many times. I've been to Hammond and Grace Baptist Teen Skitacular and a host of many smaller ones, but I love Shawnee's.

My public Facebook album for this year's.

I believe the last time I was in Shawnee was in 2009. Here is the welcome video.
The first time I was in Shawnee was in 2008.

Summary.
Monday:
After piling up the suitcases, we left around 8 am in the morning towards Louisville, KY.
Funny orientation video.
First split session. I was at the College & Career class. Bro. Moon preached.
Kenny Baldwin ended the evening.

Tuesday:
Hurricane Bay are belong to us. The wave pool and lazy river were my places to swim.
I met VDP Chief Justice Joshua Speer in the evening service.
Deal or No Deal game.
Bro. Miller preached. Speer left as it ended. Got to meet the family first.
I was arranged by Bro. Reno Likins to have a church date with a lady named Genna before he preached. Apparently, he has some mad matchmaking skills.
I gave Genna my VDP business card. At the end of the sermon, we went our separate ways.

Wednesday:
The last day of the preaching part of the conference.
Split session with Dr. Miller. He dubbed me "Sam the Man". People kept on asking me if I had a good date or if I got Genna's number yet.
Larry Chappell preached on "All Systems Go".
Dave Delaney ended with the sermon "Power Up".
Chaperoned the guys to McDonalds. Nick yelled at them.

Thursday:
The last official day of the conference, held at Kentucky Kingdom. Free drinks with a wristband.
Met some new friends. A couple Whovians. People who kept on asking me if I had made a move yet.
Rides. All you can eat lunch that ended abruptly. Sea lions. More rides.
I saw Chinee, old friend of mine from Grace Baptist of Delaware, Ohio.
Preached a little sermon in the bus.
Toured the creepy tunnels under the church.
Cici's in the middle of nowhere for dinner... and two other churches chanced upon the same one.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Short Story: Stepping Back from The Nail

Stepping Back From The Nail
by Samuel Garcia

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The day I stepped on a nail was the worst day of my life.

We were playing in outside. Somehow, just somehow, it was protruding from the ground.

I screamed.
Then came an onslaught of infection, surgeries, amputation, atrophy, innumerable doctor and therapists, bedstays, quarantines... friends left, family died off...

I did what anyone would do after years and years of focused determination to overturn these events.

...

I built a time machine.

...

After a jump to the left, a step to the right, and madness after the warp, and almost falling a down, I dropped into our old family barn. I heard the children playing and laughing. Me.

I thought. And thought. I leaned onto my cane. The crutch of my existence.

I just stood there.

I glanced at the place where the nail was supposed to be. It was not there.

I grabbed a nail from the barn, hobbled while they were gone, and stuck it upwards in the soil. And warped away.

I stepped back from the jump and planted my cane to set myself.

While I do not walk the space of this universe, I walk time. That nail was my first step.

Time is fixed.

...

After a jump to the left, a step to the right, and madness after the warp, and almost falling a down, I dropped into our old family barn. I heard the children playing and laughing. Me.

I thought. And thought. I leaned onto my cane. The crutch of my existence.

I just stood there.

I glanced at the place where the nail was supposed to be. It taunted me with it's rusty shine.

I yanked it from the mud, hobbled while they were gone, and dropped in by the barn. And warped away.

I stepped back from the jump. No cane. My leg is back.

I will walk to right the wrongs of the past, present, future.

Time is plastic.

...

After a jump to the left, a step to the right, and madness after the warp, and almost falling a down, I dropped into our old family barn. I heard the children playing and laughing. Me.

I thought. And thought. I leaned onto my cane. The crutch of my existence.

I just stood there.

I glanced at the place where the nail was supposed to be. It taunted me with it's rusty shine.

I saw myself yank it from the mud, hobble while they were gone, and drop in by the barn. And warped away.

But if I saw myself here, is there more than one line of time?

I slide to each universe, looking for my equivalent selves, wishing their time and observing their sadness and happiness. That time when I stepped on and stepped back from the nail.

Time is parallel.

...

And on and on and on...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On Thee Subject O' Shipping : Wishful Matchmaking

Some recent thoughts about the same subject from She-Who-Doesn't-Want-To-Be-Named prompted me to write my own thoughts (I was the acquaintance in the post, woohoo!). Also, give her blogs lots of views and comments and things!

Basically, shipping is wishing. As in, wishing for certain two people (fictional or not) to become a couple in a romantic relationship. So it's a step below active matchmaking. More like passive matchmaking, or wishful matchmaking(?).

The word is usually used in a "fandom" context, which is the general term for the fanatic fan bases of fictional works. Yes, I just described "fans" as "fanatic".

Apparently, I'm the President of the CP Matchmakers Club, by the Founder of the Club, C_____ Thompson (first name removed to protect identity). So I have a lot of expertise regarding this. I did bring a couple into a long term relationship. (But really, that was more of things working out rather than I having some invisible hand in it, I think. Meh. I'll take credit for it).

My friend here, She-Who-Doesn't-Want-To-Be-Named, points out that shipping friends is, well, awkward.
Especially when you are at the receiving end. There goes "So-and-So with So-and-So", and so on. Thing is, people, even our best friends, don't know their own friends that well. Or they are just bad at judging.

Or maybe, the friends don't know who they are shipping you with. They may know you, but they don't know the other person well enough. At least, you know things they don't know. It can range from superficial differences to deep rooted doctrinal belief systems.

Or maybe they do know their friends well, but the "opposites attract" principle actually applies to the people you like. I get tired of people pairing me with short girls, or girls with glasses, or girls with dark hair, or fill in the blank. Just because I am one way doesn't mean I want my future mate to be like that!

Gianna Jensen, an abortion survivor and pro life activist with cerebral palsy, sums it up well. I heard her say the following at the home school convention in Cincinnati. She may be a survivor, but she is a victim of shipping.

My friends would always tell me that they found a great guy for me. He's smart, handsome, etc. whatever.

And the clincher.... he also has cerebral palsy. (Gianna makes a distraught face)

Just because someone is going through the same thing as us doesn't mean we want our future spouse to be going through such things. Maybe we want them to have already overcome those things. Or not have to worry about them. Or we just prefer not to be reminded about ourselves and our shortcomings.

Also, just because a pair are really good friends does not mean they will make a great, or even a good couple. Friends at work, friends at church, or anywhere. They may make a good time, but in the end, you don't want to spend the rest of your life with them. Having romantic notion will kill some friendships. There is a good reason for friendzones. Sometimes, they are just there to preserve that relationship. Personally, I keep girls I like to an acquaintance level before dating them. I do not want to be close friends with them. I will not date any girls that are close friends with me, currently. If I consider you my sister, or something, I definitely will not date you.

It's also coupled by the fact that really good friends sometimes fall for the ones you do like, because they see that person perfect for them, not you. Many a rivalry have been started between friends because of love triangles, simply because the friends were so alike. It makes me sad, bu also, I've experienced friends fall for girls I like enough that I don't have that many close friends who are of the same gender.

It boils down that there are a lot of factors one must consider for that perfect pairing, not only in paper, but naturally, as well. What looks good in theory, will not always work in practice. I guess that's where dating comes in.

I do wish someone would accurately ship me with people I do like. Haha. ;) Also, if I do not recoil from your ship of me and another person, she might have a chance! XD Usually, it would be a person I have not met yet that I would give a chance.

In the end, some of my ships have been wrong. Shipwrecked, as one would say. But looking at the couples today and how happy they are, I'm glad I was wrong. Still, I have a reputation for matchmaking, so... all hands on deck!

To conclude, here are some of my "ships":
Artemis Fowl series: Artemis Fowl and Minerva. I think an Artemis/Holly pairing is way too mainstream.

Doctor Who:
The 10th Doctor and Madame Pompadour. I love Girl in the Fireplace! There is no reason for the Tenth to simply time travel back to take her again to be a companion.

The 10th Doctor and Astrid. If not Madame Pompadour, Astrid is my second ship for the Tenth Doctor.

The 11th Doctor and River. This is canon and OTP (One True Pairing). (I had to look that acronym up, too)

Sherlock (BBC): Sherlock and Molly, hands down.

ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) comic strips: Ace and Christi, of course! Stop being so platonic! (Granted, I don't know anything that happens after the 6th grade PACES)

Real-Life: Initials only for privacy, but you can guess. Ask me privately, and I'll confirm if you are right. There's a mix of church friends, college friends, online friends....
D M and L M.
M S and C M.
J M and A T.
L G and B P.
H S and J G.
E K and R M.
A S and J G.
B P and P K.
J G and T H.
A Y and B J.
Will edit as I think of them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Short Story: I Can't Wait Until the Last Minute to Conceal Too Much

I Can't Wait Until the Last Minute to Conceal Too Much
by Samuel Garcia
(May or may not be based on a true story.)

You know when you're trying to clean your room, that you get that devious idea to hide everything in your closet?

Because you're getting visitors?

Yep. Well, I did that once, and never stopped. You heard that right. The collection thrived.

Stuff just piled on and on. I stuffed in a washing machine and a dryer. I think there was a dead body in there, too. Probably one of the bandits who tried breaking in our house back then. Nothing a little Febreeze could fix.

A couple of months later, the closet burst and filled up my whole room. So I started to sleep on the couch on the living room. And more stuff I piled on as the days went by. I did manage to get my laptop and my iDevices out of the mess, don't want those missing.

Time passed, and for some reason, the walls of the room collapsed. The debris was now in every room. It doesn't matter, though. I did have to swim a few times to retrieve a few useful things. I can live with it.

I called a friend over for pizza. She berated me for keeping such a messy apartment. I shrugged, so I went over to the fridge to get her some soda. I came back, and could not find her. I found her scarf and coat on the wall of things. I tried calling her, but she won't answer her phone.

I plopped down, ate a slice, and drank what was supposed to be her Mountain Dew. Mmmmm, cheesy.

Wow, she must have been really miffed. Oh well, remember, always have friends that will not judge you for your stuff, because true friends will always be there for you, regardless.

Even the living room collected too much to sleep in. So I took my sleeping bag and put it in the hallway of my apartment building. My neighbors looked on at me, but never muttered so much a word or two. Whatever, mind your own business.

Everything is fine and dandy.

Ugh, it's the landlord. I could hear him stomping up the stairs. I guess I have to find the payment for my lease. I opened the door to my apartment and scaled down the cliff face. I waved down at the small village over the horizon. They are such nice people, if primitive.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

MindWrap: Why Are Humans Afraid Of An Artificial Intelligence Rebellion?

I'm still grieving today from the Tittle's loss, but due to a couple recent articles in the news about a subject I've always wanted to touch, I will analyze this question, "Why are humans afraid of rebellion from super artificial intelligence?". Movies like the Terminator and Matrix popularize the idea: that man will be ruled by machines.

The Butlerian Jihad, a fictional artificial intelligence uprising in the Dune series


On May the 1st, "Mayday", Stephen Hawking, the acclaimed thinker, warned us about the implications of highly advanced artificial intelligence and it's possible threat to humanity. To him, we aren't taking artificial intelligence seriously enough.

One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all. ~ Stephen Hawking

Today, an article comes out on Neurogrid, a chip that is modeled after the human brain's parallel processing power. While not specialized as traditional supercomputers in that it can run purely mathematical computations, Neurogrid is important step in that in reflects brain activity as is understood.

But the fundamental difference between the way traditional computing systems model the brain and the way Neurogrid works lies in the way the computations are performed and communicated throughout the system.
Most computers, including supercomputers, rely on digital signaling, meaning the computer carries out instructions by essentially answering "true" or "false" to a series of questions. This is similar to how neurons communicate: they either fire an action potential, or they don't.

Indeed, interesting technology. It does seem we are headed to some kind of singularity, but not one imagined by transhumanists in my opinion. But I digress. We come back to the original question. Why are humans afraid of a revolt by computerized beings?

As a Christian, I believe that the created are no greater than the creator(s), and there is no evolutionary process that creates something greater than itself, though I believe there are only at best, horizontal changes, not anything significant vertically upwards. I also believe the Bible is literal and completely true.

With those assumptions, my argument is simple. Humanity remembers his rebellion against God in Eden, and we fear our creations will do that to us.

In Genesis, God, a Superintelligence far beyond comprehension, creates intelligences according to His image: Adam and Eve. They were not greater than their Creator. And yet in their desire to become like God, they fell.

In our remembrance, we falsely think that mere computers will become self-aware. Unfortunately, self-awareness is only available through spiritual means. Even animals are not self-aware but are ruled by instinct.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

I subscribe to Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, in regards to the mind and brain. Only the spirit can bring self-awareness. No amount of software programming or advancement in hardware will create something greater. Yes, computers are very specialized and efficient in what they can do, whether or not be it mathematical computation or chess, but it will only be mere reflections and only statistical advantage, not a qualitative one.

In our primal memories and fears and sinful nature, we create the robotic Skynet boogeyman. We fear that computers will be corrupt because we are corrupt.

And that is true to an extent. It would make sense that everything we make is fallen. Humans might program or manufacture devices to have evil purposes. But machines will never be inherently sinful or purposely, self-awarely corrupt, because they will be at best, tools, not life.

Though maybe the statue of the Beast in Revelation may be an exception. Who knows? It's possible that demonic presence or counterfeit intelligence may manifest itself.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. Revelation 13:15