Big News!

We’re going to be a family of 4!  We found out yesterday that Jessamy is 5 weeks pregnant!

Praise the Lord!  Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning. According to his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a certain first-fruits of his creatures.  James 1:17-18

Rob

Published in: on July 15, 2008 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Siena’s Biggest 5th Birthday Present

PaPa Ron Brinker gave Siena his Z50R dirt bike for her birthday.  Siena’s other grandparents and her parents got her all of the riding gear.

Here are a few pics from her first ride.

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

For all you restless sleepers

Due to back problems and other issues, I often have difficult sleeping through the night.  Sometimes wake up 4-6 times – 2am, 3am, 4:30am 6am, etc. . .  It may also be due to not being physically tired enough on some occasions – work takes it out of me mentally, but my intense exercise tends to be in 2-3 hour spurts once or twice a week on the MX bike.

Anyway, Dr. Westmoreland prescribed me Restoril/Temazepam several weeks ago.  The generic version costs only $9.00 for 30 capsules and it is amazing.  It has a light muscle relaxer in it, which resolves any back stiffness issues and it comes in 3 strengths of the sleep portion of the drug.

If I take a Restoril, I sleep almost exactly 8 hours – it’s so precise that I hardly need an alarm clock if I time the taking of it right.  I wake up a little groggy for about 5-10 minutes and then feel really good.

The drawback is that since it’s a benzo (and thus prescription only), it can be addictive and on the other hand, it loses it’s effectiveness if taken too often.  Thus, I usually stick to 2-3 nights per week.  I highly recommend Restoril as a “dead to the world” sleep supplement – particularly if stiffness/soreness are issues for you.

However, it recently occurred to me to look up scriptures promising sweet sleep in order to focus on what is written and to pray for the Lord to increase my sleep whether Restoril is involved or not.  Here’s what I found (various translations):

Proverbs 3:24
When you take your rest you will have no fear, and on your bed sleep will be sweet to you.

Ecclesiastes 5:12
The sleep of a working man is sweet, if he has little food or much. . .

Job 11:18
And you will be safe because there is hope; after looking round, you will take your rest in quiet.

Leviticus 26:6
I will give peace in your coasts: you shall sleep, and there shall be none to make you afraid. . .

Numbers 24:9
His people lie down [and] rest like a lion. They are like a lioness. Who dares to disturb them? Those who bless you will be blessed! Those who curse you will be cursed!”

Psalm 4:8
I will take my rest on my bed in peace, because you only, Lord, keep me safe.

Psalm 139:3
You keep watch over my steps and my sleep, and have knowledge of all my ways.

Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sorry for the lack of posts recently

For those who visit regularly – sorry about the lack of posts recently – the family and I have been quite busy with work, activities, etc. . . and I just haven’t taken the time to work on anything here.

I do have a couple of posts brewing, but it may be a couple days before they get up.

Rob

Published in: on May 7, 2008 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

1000 times smaller than mp3

Wow – this will eventually transform the mp3 player – a 1 gig player would hold more music than I’ve ever had. . .

 http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3136

 Music File Compressed 1,000 Times Smaller than MP3      

20-Second Clarinet Solo Fits in a Single Kilobyte

Researchers at the University of Rochester have digitally reproduced music in a file nearly 1,000 times smaller than a regular MP3 file.

The music, a 20-second clarinet solo, is encoded in less than a single kilobyte, and is made possible by two innovations: recreating in a computer both the real-world physics of a clarinet and the physics of a clarinet player.

The achievement, announced today at the International Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing held in Las Vegas, is not yet a flawless reproduction of an original performance, but the researchers say it’s getting close.

“This is essentially a human-scale system of reproducing music,” says Mark Bocko, professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-creator of the technology. “Humans can manipulate their tongue, breath, and fingers only so fast, so in theory we shouldn’t really have to measure the music many thousands of times a second like we do on a CD. As a result, I think we may have found the absolute least amount of data needed to reproduce a piece of music.”

In replaying the music, a computer literally reproduces the original performance based on everything it knows about clarinets and clarinet playing. Two of Bocko’s doctoral students, Xiaoxiao Dong and Mark Sterling, worked with Bocko to measure every aspect of a clarinet that affects its sound—from the backpressure in the mouthpiece for every different fingering, to the way sound radiates from the instrument. They then built a computer model of the clarinet, and the result is a virtual instrument built entirely from the real-world acoustical measurements.

The team then set about creating a virtual player for the virtual clarinet. They modeled how a clarinet player interacts with the instrument including the fingerings, the force of breath, and the pressure of the player’s lips to determine how they would affect the response of the virtual clarinet. Then, says Bocko, it’s a matter of letting the computer “listen” to a real clarinet performance to infer and record the various actions required to create a specific sound. The original sound is then reproduced by feeding the record of the player’s actions back into the computer model.

At present the results are a very close, though not yet a perfect, representation of the original sound.

“We are still working on including ‘tonguing,’ or how the player strikes the reed with the tongue to start notes in staccato passages,” says Bocko. “But in music with more sustained and connected notes the method works quite well and it’s difficult to tell the synthesized sound from the original.”

As the method is refined the researchers imagine that it may give computer musicians more intuitive ways to create expressive music by including the actions of a virtual musician in computer synthesizers. And although the human vocal tract is highly complex, Bocko says the method may in principle be extended to vocals as well.

The current method handles only a single instrument at a time, however in other work in the University’s Music Research Lab with post-doctoral researcher Gordana Velikic and Dave Headlam, professor of music theory at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, the team has produced a method of separating multiple instruments in a mix so the two methods can be combined to produce a very compact recording.

Bocko believes that the quality will continue to improve as the acoustic measurements and the resulting synthesis algorithms become more accurate, and he says this process may represent the maximum possible data compression of music.

“Maybe the future of music recording lies in reproducing performers and not recording them,” says Bocko.

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

On becoming like children . . .

Bible in Basic English
And said, Truly, I say to you, If you do not have a change of heart and become like little children, you will not go into the kingdom of heaven.

 GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Then he said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

King James Bible
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3

 I was recently given an opportunity to learn what children are like.  Siena, our nearly five year old, is constantly teaching this lesson and all one has to do is pay attention in order to learn what children are like.

 Jessamy and I have been married for for six years and we’ve never bought a new piece of furniture.  On Saturday, we picked up our new couch and chair – nothing particularly special and we got it at a furniture store closeout, but it’s much nicer than what we had.

On Saturday evening, we discovered that Siena had taken a BLACK sharpie to the new couch in an attempt to make the pattern on the new couch match the plaid pattern on the old couch.  She did a pretty good job in a 1′ x 1′ area – lines going north/south and east/west (she really is becoming quite the artist).  Jessamy and I were obviously upset – Siena had been previously instructed not to use sharpies for anything, ever, for any reason.

The punishment was a spanking, going to bed immediately, no music or story to listen to while in bed, no TV for a day and no treats for three days.  After I spanked her and was giving her a lecture about her “crime” and her three days without treats, she asked, “How many days are you going to be mad, daddy?”

I responded, “I don’t know. . .”.  But, of course, the next morning it was all over.  Fortunately, Jessamy and I used acetone on the marks and they are barely visible now.

Anyway, the next day Siena had virtually forgotten the incident – it was totally put behind her.  So much so, that (as I discovered 24 hours after that) she took her apple and banana and hid it between the couch cushions.  That following day, I woke up to discover a strage whitish mark on the couch and found the gross, sticky banana and apple remnants.  Siena had told Jessamy that she was done with her fruit the morning before.  Lying, of course, merits another spanking.

Anyway, again, once the spanking was over, Siena went on with her life as if nothing had happened.

So, what I’m learning is that children do some really dumb things.  Even at age 4 1/2, they think they are more clever than their parents and that dad and mom won’t discover their hidden fruit.  But ultimately, once they’ve been chastened, they learn their lesson, take it to heart and move on.

I also know from personal experience that I have done some really dumb, evil things.  Even at age 35, I’ve thought that I’m more clever than God (and Satan) and that God won’t discover the hidden “fruit” of my sins, transgressions, etc. . .  I am learning to repent, receive my chastening, learn my lesson, take it to heart and move on.  Just as Siena’s question about how long I’d be mad melted my anger, God’s anger is also melted by a repentant, broken and contrite spirit.  Even though the chastening and effects of our sins may extend for longer than that hour (i.e. three days without treats in Siena’s case or the death of a child in David and Bathsheba’s case), reconciliation to God is available immediately – if one will acknowledge their sin and ask forgiveness.

Time since the sin has no effect on the situation.  It doesn’t matter if it’s been 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year or 1 lifetime.  Sin requires a Savior.  The thief on the cross had ZERO good works to point to and he had a lot of sins.  The thief had very little time to feel bad for his sins – he was dying while hanging on a cross.  He probably didn’t have 24 hours.  Yet, Jesus Christ told the thief that he’d be with Him in paradise.  All have sinned. . . but even if you had committed only one sin 70 years ago, you still MUST have a Savior or you will die and go to hell.  And if you have truly repented from that sin that occurred 30 seconds ago, that sin has been put away from you as far as the east is from the west.  Psalm 103:12

Children don’t spend a lot of time feeling bad about their sins once they’ve been corrected.  Siena has rarely been sorrowful about something for more than an hour.  The sorrow is good:

 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret . . .  II Cor. 7:10

But that is it’s purpose – to produce repentance.  After true repentance we are instructed to:

King James Bible
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Bible in Basic English
Let your change of heart be seen in your works:

From Matthew 3:8

Darby Bible Translation  

1 But Jesus went to the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down and taught them. 3 And the scribes and the Pharisees bring to him a woman taken in adultery, and having set her in the midst, 4 they say to him, Teacher, this woman has been taken in the very act, committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses has commanded us to stone such; thou therefore, what sayest thou? 6 But this they said proving him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Jesus, having stooped down, wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 But when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them, Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her. 8 And again stooping down he wrote on the ground. 9 But they, having heard that, went out one by one beginning from the elder ones until the last; and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing there. 10 And Jesus, lifting himself up and seeing no one but the woman, said to her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Has no one condemned thee? 11 And she said, No one, sir. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

From John 8.

 And finally. . .


If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:11.

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 2:23 pm  Comments (1)  

The Love of God

Here’s a long one. . . From “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis:

By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right.  And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness – the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or taht, but just happy.  What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, “What does it matter so long as they are contented?”  We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven. . . whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.” . . . I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines.  But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

. . . Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. . . there is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are no coterminous. . .  Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object – we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer.  Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering.  As scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished.  Hebrews 12:8.

It is for people who we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms:  with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptable and estrainging modes.  If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness.  And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us . . . He has never regarded us with contempt.  He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.

The relation between Creator and creature is, of course, unique, and cannot be paralleled by any relations between one creature and another. . .  Such a unique relation can be apprehended only by analogies: from the various types of love known among creatures we reach an inadequate, but useful, conception of God’s love for man.

The lowest type, and one which is “love” at all only by an extension of the word, is that which an artist feels for an artefact.  God’s relation to man is pictured thus in Jeremiah’s vision of the potter and the clay, or when St. Peter speaks of the whole Church as a building on which God is at work, and of the individual members as stones.  I Peter 2:5. . .  Here again we coem up against what I call the “intolerable compliment.”  Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be.  But over the great picture of his life – the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a mna loves a woman or a mother a child – he will take endless trouble -and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient.  One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute.  In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.

Another type is the love of a man for a beast – a relation constantly used in scripture to symbolize the relation between God and men; “we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” . . . Its great merit lies in the fact that the association of man and dog is primarily for man’s sake: he tames the dog primarily that he may love it, not that it may love him, and that it may serve him, not that he may serve it.  Yet at the same time, the dog’s interests are not sacrificed to the man’s.  The one end (that he may love it) cannot be fully attained unless it also, in its fashion, loves him,nor can it serve him unless he, in a different fashion, serves it.  Now just because the dog is by human standards one of the “best” of irrational creatures, and a proper object for a man to love – of course, with that degree and kind of love which is proper to such an object . . . man interferes with the dog and makes it more loveable than it was in mere nature.  In its state of nature it has a smell, and habits, which frustrate man’s love: he washes it, house-trains it, teaches it not to steal, and is so enabled to love it completely.  To the puppy the whole proceeding would seem, if it were a theologian, to cast grave doubts on the “goodness” of man: but the full-grown and full-trained dog, larger, healthier, and longer-lived than the wild dog, and admitted, as it were by Grace, to a whole world of affections, loyalties, interests and comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny, would have no such doubts.  It will be noted that the man takes all these pains with the dog, and gives all these pains to the dog, only because it is an animal high in the scale – because it is so nearly loveable that it is worth his while to make it fully loveableHe does not house-train the earwig or give baths to centipedes.  We may wish, indeed, that we were of so little account to God that He left us alone to follow our natural impulses – that He would give over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves: but once again, we are asking not for more Love, but for less.

A nobler analogy . .  is that between God’s love for a man and father’s love for a son.  Whenever this is used, however, it must be remembered that the Saviour used it in a time and place where paternal authority stood much higher than it does in modern England.  A father half apologetic for having brought his son into the world, afraid to restrain him lest he should interfere with his independence of mind, is a most misleading symbol of the Divine Fatherhood. . .  It will become even plainer if we consider how Our Lord regards His own Sonship, surrendering His will wholly to the paternal will and not even allowing Himself to be called “good” because Good is the name of the Father.  Love between father and son, in this symbol, means essentially authoritative love on the one side and obedient love on the other.  The father uses his authority to make the son into the sort of human being he, rightly, and in his superior wisdom, wants him to be

Finally we come to an analogy full of danger . .  which happens to be the most useful for our special purpose at the moment – I mean the analogy between God’s love for man and a man’s love for a woman.  It is freely used in scripture.  Israel is a false wife, but her heavenly Husband cannot forget the happier days; “I remember theee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thy espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness.”  Jeremiah 2:2.  Israel is the pauper bride, the waif whom her lover found abandoned by the wayside, and clothed and adorned and made lovely and yet she betrayed Him.  Ezekiel 16:6-15.  “Adulteressess” St. James calls us, because we turn aside to the “friendship of the world,” while God “jealously longs for the spirit He has implanted within us.”  James 4:4-5.  The Church is the Lord’s bride whom He so loves that in her no spot or wrinkle is endurable.  . . When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul?  Do we not rather then first begin to care?  Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking?  Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost.  Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.  Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved . . . Of all powers he forgives most, but he condones least: he is pleased with little, but demands all.

When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God LOVES man: not that He has some “disinterested,” because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His loveYou asked for a loving God: you have one.  The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the “lord of terrible aspect,” is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.  How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator’s eyes.  It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring. . .

To ask that God’s love should be content with as as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us, He must labour to make us loveable. . . when we are such as He can love with impediment, we shall, in fact, be happy.

Published in: on March 19, 2008 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Ron Paul on Freedom and Homeschooling

From “Homeschooling Today” magazine:

 http://homeschooltoday.com/articles/SowingLiberty_HST_MarApr08.pdf

 [The following article is by Rep. Dr. Ron Paul of Texas. Dr. Paul is currently serving his tenth term in the U. S. House of Representatives and appears here a public servant and statesman. It will not escape the notice of many that Dr. Paul is also a contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.  He is an honorable man who has been a champion of freedom and personal liberty for many years. Liberty in Christ is something we are very passionate about at Homeschooling Today magazine, especially as it relates to parents’ freedom to be the sole authority in the direction, content, and goal of the education of their children. For these reasons, we have invited Dr. Paul to teach us why and how to train our children up in liberty. In the tradition and manner of that other great statesman, Gen. George Washington, Dr. Paul is a Christian, but not a theologian. His teaching on personal freedom, however, can be supported by Scripture, so we have taken the editorial liberty to include the Scriptural arguments and supporting passages along with Dr. Paul’s valuable teaching. We exhort our readers to be as the noble Bereans: to study the Scriptures to see if these things are true. —Eds.]

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
—Proverbs 18:21

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. —Galatians 6:7

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  —Matthew 13:23

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. —Matthew 13:9

By Dr. Paul:

We live in one of the most difficult times in history for guarding against an expanding central government. We are seeing a steady erosion of our freedoms. We have arrived here because our ideas, our words—and the actions that follow—have consequences. Homeschoolers, by and large, understand that bad ideas have bad consequences, and even the best of intentions can have unintended consequences. We need to understand exactly what ideas brought us to this point. We can then, I hope, reject the bad ideas and reform our thinking toward a better set of intellectual parameters. Our goal should be to identify what ideas are now shaping our culture and work to sow the seeds of liberty for the generations who will come after us.

God hath not given us a spirit of fear…

Currently, the mood of our country is dominated by a powerful word: fear. Fear is not always the product of irrational thinking. However, once experienced, fear can lead us away from reason, especially if it is extreme in duration or intensity. This kind of fear is a threat to rational liberty. When people are fearful, they are more willing to irrationally surrender their rights.  The psychology of fear is an essential tool of those who want us to increasingly rely on “the powers that be” to manage the apparatus of the central government.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. —attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Clearly, people seek out safety and security when they are in a state of fear, and the result is often the surrender of liberty. We must remember that liberty is the ultimate security.  Our love for liberty has been so diminished by fear—of everything but God—that we tolerate intrusions into our privacy that most Americans would have abhorred just a few years ago. American history, at least in part, is a history of people who refuse to submit to the will of those who have no rightful authority over them. Yet we have increasingly empowered the federal government and its agents to run our lives, far beyond their jurisdiction to do so. The seeds of future tyranny are being sown and many of our basic protections from government oppression are being undermined.

We tolerate new laws that allow the government to snoop on us, listen to our phone calls, track our financial dealings, make us strip down at airports, and even limit the rights of habeas corpus and trial by jury. Like some dysfunctional episode of the Twilight Zone, we have allowed the summits of our imaginations to be linked up with the pit of our fears, all to serve man. Paranoia can be treated, but the loss of liberty resulting from the fear of man is not easily cured. People who would have previously battled against encroachments on civil liberties now explain the “necessity” of the “temporary security measures” Franklin would have railed against. This would not be happening if we had remained vigilant, understood the importance of individual rights, and refused to accept that the sacrifice of liberty is justified by a “need” for security—even if it’s just “now and then.”

As Americans, we must confront our irrational fears if we are to turn the current tide against the steady erosion of our freedoms. Fear is the enemy. The confusing admonition to “fear only fear itself” does not help. Instead, we must battle against irrational fear and refuse to succumb to it.  Fortunately, there is always a remnant who longs for truly limited government, maintaining a belief in the rule of law combined with a deep conviction that free people and a government bound by a Constitution are the most advantageous form of government.  They recognize this idea as the only practical way for prosperity to be spread to the maximum number of people, while promoting peace and security. Their thoughts are dominated by a different and more powerful word:  freedom.

…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty…

If we intend to use the word “freedom” in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: [political] freedom is living without government coercion.  If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog of rhetoric and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians often use to deceive us. We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule.  We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must also teach these truths to our children. 

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Freedom is not defined by safety.  Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a governmental false security blanket beckons. Self-reliance and self-defense are American virtues; trembling reliance on the illusion of government-provided security is not.

Many, if not most, homeschoolers have fought on some level for the freedom to teach their own children.  Most have had to stand against a tide of disapproval from friends and family. Some parents have dealt with strife in their church over the issue.  Too many have been questioned by local authorities who don’t understand the limits of their jurisdiction; some have withstood the scrutiny of state and federal laws, courts, and law enforcement who have overstepped their constitutional bounds. Still others have suffered fines, imprisonment, and separation from their children at the hands of a government that claims to be “protecting” the children. All homeschoolers have tasted a morsel of freedom that many others still can’t comprehend.

Homeschooling parents still regularly face questions such as, “Can you do that?” “Do they let you do that?” “Is that legal?” It all comes down to a proper understanding of jurisdiction and submission to delegated authority. Homeschoolers, by and large, maintain that the authority for determining the education of their children rests solely with parents. This spark of freedom must be fanned into a flame, not just among homeschooling fathers and mother but among the generation they are training up in liberty.

Ironically, the Constitution which protects our freedoms was conceived in a time of great crisis.  The founders intended to place inviolable restrictions on what the federal government could do even in times of national distressAmerica must stand against calls for the government to violate the Constitution—that is, to break the law—in the name of law enforcement.  America was founded by men who understood that the threat of domestic tyranny is as great as, if not greater than, any threat from abroad. If we want to be worthy of their legacy, we must pass it on to our children, showing them how to resist the rush toward ever-increasing state control of our society. Otherwise, our own government will become a greater threat to our freedoms than any foreign terrorist could ever hope to be.

Remember, a citizen’s relationship with the State is never voluntaryEvery government edict, policy, regulation, court decision, and law is ultimately backed up by force, in the form of police, guns, and jails. The problem is that politicians are not supposed to have power over us—we’re supposed to be free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence of government coercion. That is why political power must be fiercely constrained by the American people. We can’t wait for “our man” in Congress to do it. We must accept and take responsibility to keep government within its well defined boundaries, training our children to do the same.

The desire for power over other human beings is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn!  The worst tyrants of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were political figures: men who fanatically sought power over others through the apparatus of the State. They wielded that power absolutely, without regard for the rule of law.  Our constitutional system, by contrast, was designed to restrain political power and place limits on the size and scope of government. It is this system—the rule of law which we should celebrate, not political power. In a free society, government is restrained, and therefore, political power is less important. As defined by the Constitution, the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system to prosecute acts of force and fraud, and that’s all. In  other words, the State’s role in our society is as referee, rather than an active participant.

Those who hold political power would lose their status in a society with truly limited government. It simply would not matter much who occupied various political posts, since their ability to tax, spend, and regulate would be severely curtailed. This is why champions of political power promote an activist government that involves itself in every area of our lives, from cradle to grave. They gain popular support by promising voters that the government will take care of everyone, while the media shower them with praise for their bold vision.…while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption…

Political power is inherently dangerous in a free society. It threatens the rule of law and thus threatens our fundamental freedoms. It is the antithesis of freedom. Those who understand this should object whenever political power is glorified.  Our founding fathers understood this and endeavored to create the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else.

It is incumbent on a great nation to remain confident if it wishes to remain free. By no means should we be ignorant to real threats to our safety, against which we must remain vigilant.  We need only to banish to the ash heap of history the notion that we ought to be ruled by our fears and those who use them to enhance their own power. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society provides the incentive to protect the liberties we enjoy. The greatest chance for peace and maximum prosperity comes within a society respectful of individual liberty.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  —Galatians 5:13–14

It is important to know how we got where we are today. But, rather than focus on where we have failed, we should concentrate on the ideal of freedom. The freedom we enjoy today is the direct result of the commitment of men and women who refused to compromise their ideals. Certainly they failed at times, but they understood that the goal was liberty. We owe the founding fathers of our country a tremendous debt of gratitude. They created a society based on the radical idea that the purpose of government was to protect the rights of the individual—inalienable rights granted by God, rather than privileges granted by the State. Whereas God is “no respecter of persons,” the same cannot be said of the State, no matter how well-intentioned it may purport to be.

…I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts…

We can reclaim our independence, not with guns, but with our voices.  We can reject creeping statism and encourage the blessings of liberty for our land. It will require work and it will require commitment. It will also require a willingness to stand firm for our beliefs. It will not be done in one election cycle, nor will it necessarily be achieved in our lifetimes. Indeed, as others have done before us, it may require that we give our very lives. But that is a small price to pay compared to the sacrifices made by those who founded the United States of America and fought to give her birth and defend her freedoms.

Liberty. Freedom. Self-determination.

These goals are as worthy of our attention today as they were over two centuries ago in a hot convention hall in Philadelphia. Just as devotion to those goals brought forth this great nation, a renewed adherence to liberty, which we teach to our children, can save our nation today.  Our founding fathers felt it was worth pledging their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to secure and defend liberty. Do we?

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul tirelessly works for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. Known among his congressional colleagues and his constituents for his consistent voting record, Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.  His consistent voting record prompted one of his congressional colleagues to say, “Ron Paul personifies the founding fathers’ ideal of the citizen-statesman. He makes it clear that his principles will never be compromised, and they never are.” Reach him at: www.ronpaul2008.com

Published in: on March 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Human Heart Revealed in the Art of Writing

Translations of Jeremiah 17:9

King James Bible
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Bible in Basic English
The heart is a twisted thing, not to be searched out by man: who is able to have knowledge of it?

Douay-Rheims Bible
The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it?

Translations of Matthew 15:19

King James Bible
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Bible in Basic English
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, the taking of life, broken faith between the married, unclean desires of the flesh, taking of property, false witness, bitter words.

Translations of Matthew 7:11

American King James Version
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Darby Bible Translation
If therefore ye, being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much rather shall your Father who is in the heavens give good things to them that ask of him?

Translations of Hebrews 3:12

King James Bible
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Be careful, brothers and sisters, that none of you ever develop a wicked, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Weymouth New Testament
See to it, brethren, that there is never in any one of you–as perhaps there may be–a sinful and unbelieving heart, manifesting itself in revolt from the ever-living God.

Today I was reading portions of “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy L. Sayers.  One of the passages titled, “The energy revealed in creation” led me to the above verses.  Ms. Sayers stated concerning “creating” a character in a book:

BEGIN QUOTE “. . . a writer cannot create a character or express a thought or emotion which is not within his own mind.  Shakespeare is Iago as well as Othello; he can create the one as well as the other, because each is to some extent an expression of himself.

Actually what happens in the writer’s mind is something like this.  When making the character he in a manner separates and incarnates a part of his own living mind.  He recognizes in himself a powerful emotion – let us say, jealousy.  His activity then takes this form:  Supposing this emotion were to become so strong as to dominate my whole personality, how should I feel and how should I behave?  In imagination he becomes the jealous person and things and feels within that frame of experience, so that the jealousy of Othello is the true creative expression of Shakespeare.  He follows out, in fact, the detective system employed by [G.K.] Chesterton’s “Father Brown”: 

“I mean that I really did see myself, and my real self, committing the murders. . .  I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that, until I realized that I really was like that, in everything except actual final consent to the action.”

In this sense, therefore, Shakespeare “is” Othello; but we must allow that he “is”, in the same sense, Coriolanus and Iago, Lear and Cordelia and every other charachter in his plays, from Hamlet down to Caliban.  Or perhaps it would be more in accordance with reality to say that all these characters “are” Shakespeare – externalizations of some part of the writer’s self and self-experience.”  END QUOTE

I’m not much of a creative writer, and so I found it interesting that in order to create a quality character, the gifted author taps into the “dark side” of himself in order to come up with a believable character.

Interestingly, C.S. Lewis found “The Screwtape Letters” unpleasant to write because he felt that placing himself in the mind of a demon had been dangerous for his own character.

 The Chesterton quote above shows that Mr. Chesterton was creating in his mind a set of circumstances under the influence of which he would commit a murder.  In his honest efforts to do so, he was quite capable of coming up with a set of circumstances in which he would commit murder – at the point when he stated, “I realized that I really was like that. . .” he received a revelation that he, personally, was capable of such a crime – and he undoubtedly received a greater understanding of the scriptures above.

It appears as though the art of excellent creative writing reveals the potential wickedness of the heart of that specific writer – and of men’s hearts in general – as referred to in the scriptures above.  I find that to be fascinating.

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Success at the Supreme Court

On January 22, 2008 I was given the opportunity to argue the medical malpractice case, Westmoreland v. Vaidya before the West Virginia Supreme Court.  This is somewhat ironic, as in my practice I have not yet handled a trial, much less an appeal to the Supreme Court – I’ve only had about 15 total hearings. 

The weekend prior to the oral argument, the members of my church, Meigs Christian Center, prayed and fasted for the Lord to give me the words to speak when I was before the authorities of the Court.

 God honored our fasting and answered our prayers.  My argument went very well – so well, in fact, that opposing Counsel told me that I did a very good job and he could hardly believe it was my first time arguing in front of the Supremes.

 The end of the story is that this week the Supreme Court granted my request and reversed the case, which allows my client to have his day in Court.  Now off to find an expert witness. . .

Published in: on February 20, 2008 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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