Featured Posts

Free xmltv EPG Data for EyeTV, save the $20 from TV... code {border:1px dotted gray;background-color:white;padding:10px;display:block;} I wanted a free programming guide for EyeTV, and while I had some time to tinker, it's better to waste your time tinkering...


Jelly Bean (OTA) on Droid Bionic with Page Plus Yes, it's working. I have no idea if data is working or not, but frankly I don't care. I started with a Droid Bionic that was running the stock Verizon ICS build. I did not use the automatic update...


Install Windows 7 x64 on a Mac (beat the Select CD-ROM... Having trouble installing Win7 x64 (Windows 7 64-bit) on your mac? Keep getting a Select CD-ROM Boot Type" message when you go to install? Boot Camp have you pulling your hair out? Some googling...


File compression primer (With .jpg examples for Adobe... Compression Compression typically looks for patterns and stores references to them. So, imagine you're storing the following text which is 151 characters long: He went to the store.  She bought...


  • Prev
  • Next

“Sent from my Apple iPhone”

Posted on : 04-26-2012 | By : Andy | In : pop culture, random, tech

Tags: , , ,


Sometimes pop culture grabs on to something that I just find so annoying or ridiculous that I can’t help but point them out. Why? Because people often get suckered into doing things that make them look rather foolish, all the while thinking they’re cool, or not having a clue how to fix it.

Case in point: the automatic advertisement posted at the end of all your emails that says:
“Sent from my Apple iPhone”
“Sent from my Apple iPad”
“Sent from my Asus Pad”
“Sent from my Android Phone”
“Sent from my 4G LTE HTC Incredible Smartphone with Google Android and Haptic Feedback technology enhanced by Verizon’s Next Generation network”
“Sent from my TRSDOS-80”

Now I know that you may want all your friends to think you’re cool because you have an iPhone, but that email signature does not accomplish such a goal. When your email program shamelessly broadcasts that fact to every family member, friend, acquaintance, business contact, or stranger you email, it screams “PRETENTIOUS JERK.” We don’t care that you have the same smartphone as half the rest of the world. You announcing that to me does not inspire respect, or awe, but rather scorn. In case you missed this lesson in preschool, announcing your accomplishments or possessions to the world in order to make people think you’re awesome is called bragging, and it really just makes people see you as shallow (and definitely not awesome). They may be jealous of your iPhone, but they’re certainly not jealous of your personality.

The other alternative is that you don’t know how to get rid of that message, since every smartphone, tablet, and pc manufacturer in the world sets it as a default these days (don’t get me started!). If this is the case, Google it. There are instructions out there that are easy to follow and take next to no time to find and implement. Quit being a sheep, offering blatant, unpaid advertising free to the manufacturer who overcharged you for your device in the first place. If this is still too hard, ask a neighbor kid to get it off your phone and they’ll have it done before you can say “Jack Robinson.”

I don’t care what phone, tablet, laptop, mainframe, or cerebral implant you’re sending your email from. So quit telling me every time you send an email. It makes you look bad.

Desiring God = Utilitarianism, plus a new “greatest commandment.” (Part 1)

Posted on : 04-18-2012 | By : Andy | In : books, religion


Today is my second attempt at reading Desiring God by John Piper. I say second, because the first time (about 8 years ago) I only got about 1/3rd of the way through it before I couldn’t take it any more. As one who leans Arminian (there is a great tension in Scripture), his take on Sovereignty was overwhelmingly annoying and frustrating.

Since then, however, some things have happened. I earned an M.Div from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I got some life experience. And I read C.S. Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy,” along with part of his “Reflections on the Psalms.” I realized that my own pursuit of Christ was somewhat lacking in Joy. Since I loved those works by Lewis, I thought that maybe another stroll through Piper’s well-known (and well-loved) work might be better received.

The introduction inspired hope in me. I knew I’d run into the whole Sovereignty bit again, but I had hopes that it would be more palatable to me this time around (maybe even paradigm-changing?!). I’m planning on teaching a series on Joy this month with our Senior High Youth, and I figured that this would be some great material to get me rolling in the right direction. I launched into the book…and after finishing the first chapter, I’m already tempted to give up.

Why? A couple reasons.

The first is a perspective that Piper adopted from (or at least shares with) Edwards (a note on Piper + Edwards):

Utilitarianism. That’s right. That (failed) philosophy championed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill which says the right thing to do is the thing that brings about the greatest possible good–the maximum happiness. Edwards sets up God with two different wills: a will of command (essentially the basis for the Law, what is the “right” thing to do) and a will of decree (a “sovereign” or “secret” will, essentially a Utilitarian will). Sometimes, those two wills contradict each other, in which case the sovereign/secret will of God wins out. In other words, God decrees what is “good,” and then acts in opposition to that.

You see, we have a dilemma if God has two such wills: one maintains an objective, unchanging standard of good (the “will of command”), yet a second will also exists wherein what is morally wrong from the objective, unchanging standard actually becomes “good” because God has decreed it (via the “sovereign/secret will”) to fit into some bigger mosaic. In other words, to call God “good” is pointless, because anything He does, including ordaining the suffering and eternal condemnation of those predestined to hell, is automatically considered “good” because of its contribution to the “greater good.”

This is Utilitarianism, plain and simple. Now, granted, God is capable of seeing how all the dominoes fall, so such wouldn’t be that big of a problem, except that Piper’s/Edwards’s system assumes God creates the very “moral dilemmas” by which some evil must be done in order to bring about a greater good. Which is all nice and good if you just play the trump card (“It was necessary in order that God be maximally glorified”) that no one will dare argue with (“Are you saying God doesn’t deserve all glory?”)

And yet all orthodox Christians are fond of referring to the fact that any sin, no matter how small, is worthy of eternal damnation. (Romans 3:23,6:23; James 2:10; Isaiah 59:2) Among other reasons, God is perfect (though I might argue against that if Piper’s view on Sovereignty is true) and thus cannot tolerate sin. Any sin corrupts all our deeds (Isaiah 64:6). The bottom line is that sin corrupts, it doesn’t make things better (least of all God’s glory). God can’t look on sin and be pleased. Nevertheless, Piper would claim that He does (“This mosaic in all its parts–good and evil–brings Him delight.” (p.39))

If you think I’ve got Him wrong, you haven’t read Piper–He truly believes that God’s sovereign will creates evil (though He will say indirectly enough that God isn’t guilty of wrongdoing) so that God can maximize happiness. On page 39, he quotes Edwards: “Though he hates sin in itself, yet he may will to permit it, for the greater promotion of holiness in this universality” (emphasis mine). Sin increases overall holiness?! The quote continues “though he has no inclination to a creature’s misery, considered absolutely, yet he may will it, for the greater promotion of happiness in this universality.” (For my thoughts on this, consider 1 Jn. 4:7-21 and 1 Cor. 13:6)

This is something that I just simply cannot see in Scripture, nor reconcile with the idea of a God who is “good.”

The second reason occurred to me as He began to talk about God’s supposed obsession with His glory. By the time I got to the end of the first chapter, it struck me:

Piper has contradicted Christ. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, what did he say? “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt 22:27-29, NIV) You read it there first. He didn’t say “glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” Yet Piper claims that “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

Now Piper might argue that to love God fully means you will glorify God by enjoying Him forever, but even if that’s the case (and a more fitting way to phrase the command), then why didn’t Jesus put it that way? What if it’s not an “A = B” relationship but an “A includes B” relationship? What if loving God includes glorifying via enjoying Him, but also includes something else? Imagine that the greatest possible geometric shape was a quadrilateral. Then to say that the greatest possible geometric shape is a square would be less than true: for a trapezoid or a rhombus would be equally included in that greatness. True, the greatest possible shape would include squares, but could not be fittingly described as a square. Maybe the greatest possible thing is to love God, which includes enjoying Him (to his glory), yet also cannot be rightly described simply as that enjoyment.

Why write an entire book based around re-wording what Jesus has already (and quite clearly) stated: that the greatest thing we can do is love God? Even worse, why (in doing so) begin your argument with a catechism not explicitly found in Scripture?

So there you have it, or at least the beginnings of “it.” I know that it’s poor form to criticize part of a work before you’ve read it all, but lest this train of thought leave the station and never come back so clearly, I had to write it down now. (I’m unlikely to return to reading this book a third time!) I sincerely desire that the rest of the book somehow corrects the errors I’ve found here, but given that chapter 1 is over and chapter 2 has found it sufficient enough of an introductory treatise that it is building on it (rather than clarifying it), I must admit that I don’t maintain much hope.

Now, for the promised note on Piper and Edwards.

It is no secret that Piper reads Edwards a lot. In fact, read anything Piper and you will find a plethora of references, footnotes, and quotes concerning the guy. And while I’m glad that Piper has been so encouraged towards pursuing God by Jonathan Edwards, I also think it bears noting that Edwards was not as perfect as you might expect given all of Piper’s praise (Piper writes, “Again and again when I am dry and weak, I pull down my collection of Edwards’s works and stir myself up with one of his sermons.” p. 38). Edwards’s writings are not Scripture, nor should be considered as such. Just because Edwards wrote it, or said it, (however clearly or profoundly that might be), that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

Edwards is said to have kept a habit of studying 13 hours a day, although as a father of 11 children he spent only 1 hour each day with them. While others may idolize his devotion, I rather pity the fact that he did the greatest commandment so well and by comparison neglected the second. I write this not to vilify Edwards, but to encourage you to accept Scripture because it is God’s Word, and to accept the writings of others based on their agreement with God’s word rather than the fact that they came from a “great man” like Edwards.

In all fairness, I have far less trouble with Piper’s frequent quoting of CS Lewis, probably because I love Lewis’s writing. It bears mentioning that Lewis was not perfect either, and in fact in many cases states things that I believe to be contrary to Scripture.

Again, all this to say: before you go falling in love with Piper, or Edwards, or Lewis, fall in love with Scripture. Then read (and enjoy!) Piper, or Edwards, or Lewis, with a discerning heart and mind, always keeping in mind that Truth is found in Scripture, not pithy or profound statements by fallible human authors. Good preachers and authors may well help clarify it for us, but they ought not to add to or take away from it.

Note: Citations of page numbers refer to the 2003 Multnomah printing of “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist,” by John Piper.

Sacrificing grammatical precision for political correctness (Scripture Edition)

Posted on : 11-27-2011 | By : Andy | In : pop culture, religion


In preparing to talk with some of my teens at church about sexual purity, I was jotting down some notes. Rather than type out all of 1 Corinthians 6:18, I jumped over to Biblegateway and searched for “sins against his own body” so I could copy and paste. No results were returned!

Obviously, the 2011 revision of the NIV has changed the verse I was looking for. Immediately the question popped into my mind: how did they revise the masculine pronoun out of that sentence? Surely they didn’t write “sins against his or her own body,” did they? I searched for 1 Corinthians 6:18, and lo and behold…

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

Did they really just do that? In case you missed it, “their” is a plural pronoun, where as “whoever” is a singular one. To be gramatically correct, it should either say “those who sin…sin against their” OR “whoever sins…sins against his or her” OR “whoever…his”. The original greek here doesn’t mix singular and plural, nor should the english.

What’s happened is that we’ve traded grammatical correctness for political correctness. The simplest way to write this sentence would be (as in the 1984 version), “he who sins sexually, sins against his own body.” To get closer to the actual greek would be something along the lines of “the one sinning sexually sins against his own body.” But those options use masculine pronouns only, so it’s not good enough, and instead we must use shoddy grammar. Granted, the 2011 NIV corrected a number of other passages to be closer in meaning to the original text, but in this case it seems they’re moving away from precision in favor of political correctness–a very dangerous road to start down.

Makes me even happier that our church is moving to the ESV next spring!

(How does the ESV render this verse? “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”)

Win a Macbook Air

Posted on : 09-19-2011 | By : Andy | In : fun, religion

Tags: , , ,


Shameless plug here, but the publisher of Accordance Bible Software is giving away a Macbook Air. I’d love to win it, and if you click on my referring link here, you help me earn chances to win…and also can enter to win yourself.

Speaking of which, Accordance Bible Software is just plain awesome. I love using it for sermon prep and original language work. If you’re looking for some hardcore Bible Study software, I definitely recommend it! Their library is not as fully developed as something like Logos, but the Hebrew and Greek tools with it are worth the price of admission.

…but you came here to win a macbook air!

Heaven is for real. (For realz?)

Posted on : 08-13-2011 | By : Andy | In : books, news, pop culture, religion

Tags: , , ,


I had a few people angry at me for dissing on Heaven is for Real, that oh-so-popular book by a kid’s dad where he talks about his trip to Heaven. Why was I dissing it? Because I’d read the first chapter, lost all interest, and decided that the review Tim Challies had posted must be right (he calls it “not a good book.”).

I really needed to read it to assuage the offended individual, to stop being a punk who judges something he hasn’t experienced, and because I happen to be affiliated with a church where I live: in North Platte, Nebraska, where the miraculous visions took place and everyone in town knows about the book.

Again, the first chapter turned me off immediately, because Lisa and I had been reading The Lord of the Rings immediately before this, and the difference in writing quality was like stepping from the classical art of Rembrandt to the slapstick entertainment of Ingrid’s poo adventure…and I’m not saying that the book should be compared to poo. My point is that the poo video is funny, fun to watch–it’s entertaining and people are more likely to get a kick out of it than looking at a Rembrandt. Such it was with Heaven: from the minute you begin reading you realize there’s going to be a lot of flowery language and emotional fluff. It’s “heartwarming.” If you want something deep and challenging to be enriched by, look elsewhere.

I will say though, if you’re going to knock on this book, you’d better read it first. But for those of you who just want to know “should I read it?” or need to hear what a youth pastor thinks about it, here we go:

1) I have problems with his description of Jesus as a guy with blue eyes who wears a purple sash and has holes in the center of his palms. Sounds rather Americanized to me, rather like the Sunday School Jesus we’ve all seen all over the place. (Maybe that’s ‘cuz Jesus has shown himself to so many people that the got it right…or maybe Colton’s memories are suggestible [pdf link]).

2) The whole deal with people fighting with Jesus against Satan is a bit questionable. (Page 136) Revelation chapters 19-20 describe Jesus with an army, but all who are killed are killed by the sword coming out of the rider’s mouth or consumed by fire from heaven. Nowhere do we get the picture that this is even close to the type of hand-to-hand combat Colton speaks of. Let’s face it, while our fight here and now might be against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6), God is supremely sovereign, Christ has already won, and Satan doesn’t even really have a chance.

3) Perhaps my biggest gripe: Todd talks about people needing to be saved to go to heaven, and how that’s Colton’s greatest concern for those dying. But in this book there is no clear, straightforward explanation of the gospel. There’s no primer on sin, atonement, repentance, and salvation by Grace alone through faith. Heck, there’s not even the shallow “just repeat these words to be saved” prayer in the back. All you find is Colton yelling “he had to have Jesus in his heart!” (Chapter 11) To a non-Christian reading this, what does that even mean, anyways? There are blurbs in the back to explain the timeline and to tell you more about the Burpos…but nothing about knowing God.

4) Read the review by Tim Challies that I already linked to above. He says a lot more that I don’t feel the need to repeat.

Bottom line: do I think Colton is a despicable liar? No. Do I have a good way of explaining everything in this book in a completely rational way (eg. miscarried sister and “Pop”)? No. Do I think that much of what Colton experienced could have been suggestible or distorted memories? Likely. Is it good to read this book and ask yourself where you’ll end up after you die? Yes. Does that mean I think you should read this book? No.

If you want to know about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, heaven, and eternity, read your Bible or ask a Pastor, elder in your church, or someone who knows the Bible better than you do.

Of course Heaven is for Real. We’ve known that for 2 Millenia. How much of Colton’s story is for real? I guess you’ll just have to ask God someday–assuming of course, that you know Him. You don’t? You need to hear the Gospel. (Read the Romans Road if you’re not feeling the other link or need more info!)

Facebook is the Devil. So is Twitter. (Seriously, well, kind of)

Posted on : 07-07-2011 | By : Andy | In : pop culture, religion, tech

Tags: , , , ,


So Mr. MG Seigler over at TechCrunch thinks he’s avant-garde for deciding to quit emailing for a month. His reasoning has something to do with it being a waste of time. And the idea came from…wait for it…some Tweeting. Yes, Twitter, that endless fount of useless information.

I’m not here to rail on Mr. Seigler though, other than to point out that Facebook and Twitter will either a) destroy our society, or b) die, just like MySpace. Why’s this? Because both Facebook and Twitter are founded on the premise that you can easily make your thoughts, opinions, and (private?) pictures instantly available to a whole host of people who don’t really care about you.

I tried Twitter, and it was a complete waste of time, and endless roll of pointless drivel (“enjoying some jameson on the couch, sit up unable to follow along with my own timeline”) and links to articles I don’t care to read (and don’t have time to read). Mr. Seigler is annoyed at the time spent sifting through and reading endless emails, and yet he’s thrilled at the usefulness of Twitter because the President used it once? Sanity, please. (The link tries to make a point about how you, too, can be heard, by mentioning that the Pres answered a handful out of 169,395 Tweeted questions?)

Let me break it down for you: life is not about spewing your opinions to the unwashed masses (yet, how hypocritical it is for me to blog this…). It’s about relationships–with God and mankind. You don’t maintain any sort of real relationship facebook stalking someone. You don’t know others and be known by them in 140 characters or less. All you do is waste time, wishing you lived someone else’s life or trying to re-write yours by hooking up with old flames. In the process, you work less, live less, and get fatter sitting in front of your computer.

To be fair, we could say the same thing about many other popular things such as Netflix instant streaming, except Netflix lacks the narcissism of Twitter and Facebook. If you’re constantly updating your status, let me just tell it to you straight: NOBODY CARES. If they DO care at all, it’s because of how well they already know you offline, in the real world, or because your dietary habits are really the most important thing in their life (which is either really sad or really scary). Log off and pick up the phone (txting doesn’t count). Better yet, go grab a coffee with someone. Even better yet, have them over for dinner.

So here’s your choices, America: become so self-involved that society self-destructs, or realize what’s important in life and go build yourself into a self-strengthening community.

Quit wasting your life and start sharing it. Spend some time with God. Spend some time with the people He’s put in your life.

Thankfully, many of you already figured this out.