Credit Card Traps

Okay, I’m an oddball, but I’ve never been burned badly by the credit card traps. There are three that I know about.

ONE: The WAY to high interest rate. My credit card history is good. I don’t keep a large balance on them, but I’m still considerably over 20% in my interest rate. That’s steep. I can’t and don’t want to know what those numbers would be on a person with BAD credit history.  Solution: Don’t spend money you don’t have and pay off your credit card every month. IF you cannot do this destroy your credit cards and live by cash. (Oh, and grow up.)

TWO: Late Payment fees and credit history dings. The late fees for even a few days are annoying. Missing payments also goes on your credit report–which is the data that banks use to offer you loans for homes, cars, etc. Solution:  NEVER be late on a payment. Pay it on time in full each month. IF you cannot do this destroy your credit cards and live by cash and debit cards.

THREE: Spending more than you normally would. Most people will spend less if they use cash for everything. They start to be frugal since they see the dollars go bye-bye. But credit cards remove that from the equation so you spend more and save less. Solution: Develop a habit of frugal spending on every type of money–Cash, debit, credit, frequent-flyer miles, and Coke points. It’s is all money (which is only a means of exchange), so treat it with the attitude of frugal spending. IF you cannot do this, shread your credit cards and then purposely find the knowledge and maturity to grow into a responsible frugal spender and saver. I suggest Crown Financial Ministries, their website is Crown.org.  

Anyway, I thought I’d throw this information out for you. I’ve escaped these traps and want you to as well.

I’m beginning to hate the messed up characters

I like to write; which comes with other statement, I like to read. Lately, I miss the competent humans in books. It’s like the whole world has resigned itself to the fact that mankind is REALLY messed up. Many (if not all) the modern books I’ve seen are about–“Oh, wow, some horrible thing beyond my control has really messed me up and will continue to do so; but I must fight for something by creepy bordering-on-committable stalking and obsession.”  (I am thinking of Twilight by the way, but also basically EVERY other book in recent years.)

I like Dean Koontz; Now his characters are often (always?) messed up beyond reason; and, even though the bad guys usually get it in the end, I have a complaint. 

Here is the thing: I am a Christian–and as such, I have a world view that allows me to make sense of every given circumstance that I will ever encounter–This includes the supernatural, natural, normal, paranormal, kind, cruel, nasty, freakish, and quiet. So, I in my reading I have to muddle through the emotional angst of characters that come from the other side of the track.

These characters represent the nonsensical contradictory veiws of the humanist, the atheist, the pantheist, the Buddhist, or nature worshipper. And those are just the worldviews –add the usual self-destructive, lustful, self-loathing that comes with the worldviews and OUCH! I get headaches thinking about it.  

I like Characters that are not messed up by circumstances; I like the conquerors–the characters that look at the problem, and solve it. That take their problems and improve themselves by them. I like hope, confidence, respect, and courage. The Fellowship of the Ring that against all odds launches an attack at the greatest evil of their day. Aslan offering himself for Edmund. Miss Who as a star exploding-driving back the darkness. I like the people that don’t resign them to defeatist modern attitude.

I guess, like Jack, if I want books that I like to read, I’m gonna have to write them. (P.S. Anyone know who Jack is?)

The Weapons of Christian Warfare

Islam uses violence and fear, and they aren’t the only ones. Lies, manipulation, vice, and other weapons of mass and masses destruction destroy the truth out of spirituality and mankind faster than Kevorkian did away with his patients. What can a Christian do?

Well, for one thing, I stand firmly with those that say we must stand up and fight for what is right! (And if that means more than tough talk {and it does}, so be it!) But before I go off, I have to check the armory. What are my weapons? Hmm.

One: The first and most important item in the arsenal is…….Tada! TRUTH. Pure simple truth. It doesn’t get used that often. But it really helps morale to know that though you may be unpopular, slandered, hated, persecuted, etc, that YOU ARE RIGHT! ” So dust off that Bible and learn the truth. That’s what this fight is about after all–the father of lies against the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Two: This one is hard–You see the Bible (that’s the truth, remember) says “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Ouch! Loose the anger, that “righteous indignation” isn’t going to accomplish anything worthwhile. Uhh, I know! I absolutely despise the works of the wicked–I hate it with a perfect hatred! But that’s not the weapon–it’s joy

JOY!? Huh, the Bible (that TRUTH again) says “The Joy of the Lord” is our strength.” Well, that makes sense, people aren’t going to care about a “religion” that offers just more things to be angry about. The world is plenty angry and hopeless. Imagine total hopelessness; wouldn’t ANY joy and hope attract you like a fly to honey or a starving man to a sandwich. But when we’re angry, when we’re bitter–the world has all that; why would they want our version? 

“But it’s so hard to be joyful in this world!” you say, “Don’t you know about _______________.” Yeah, I know.  It is hard, but that’s because we have the wrong perspective. Is God on the throne? Is the world out of God’s control? Is perfect justice going to happen? Guess, what? The answer–from the TRUTH–to all those questions is YES. So, that means, We are winning. Pssst. FYI. I said we’re winning. We should live from the perspective of JOY–We’re winning! Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, sin is disgusting, hurtful, horrible, and nasty. BUT WE ARE WINNNING!–smile, God loves you. You know how I know? He said so, in a book, a book about How much God loves you! If you can’t have a private revival service thinking about how much God loves you and how He proved it, you’re synical to the point of nauseating. (Excuse me, I need a tissue.)

 Okay, I’m back. WEAPON 3: I kind of gave it away already. Are you ready? This is powerful stuff, handle with care, oh, and use this liberally–Love. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that ye love one another.”

(Oh, time out! This is not that rather weak ridiculous stuff that you hear about it songs and poor movies–we’re not talking about romantic nonsensical smooshy sentimentality, but the robust, strong, passionate Agape Love that God has. Okay, sorry to slow you down. Time in!)

We should tangibly love one another as Christians and the lost world–they are the true victims of sin after all.

FOUR: Don’t forget to take a sanctified sense of humor. It really helps to be able to laugh at life. Remember, we have not been given a spirt of fear but of power, love, and a  sound mind.

So, Christians get out there and FIGHT! But remember, we dont’ fight like the world–cuz’ were not of this world.

You, Philosophy, and a Nuclear Reactor.

I’ve am reading great books this summer, City of God by Augustine, How should We then Live by Schaffer, Miracles by C.S. Lewis. Either from over exposure to great Christian Philosophers or some other reason, I wish present to you this illustration.

You are stuck, alone, in the control room of a nuclear reactor. No one can get to you for hours, at least. The control panel starts beeping, and the screen says, “Error 412: Meltdown in 20:00.” It then starts counting down; you have twenty minutes before the reactor goes critical.

Before you can scream and panic, a voice comes over the intercom, “Hi, this Frank, how are you doing up there?”

“The reactor’s going critical! How can I stop it?” You yell.

“Okay, don’t worry about it okay, I know just what to do.” Frank says calmly. “I knew this would happen today. On the control panel in front of you, there is a big blue button. Push it.”

“Okay,” you say marching over to the panel, there are a dozen buttons on the panel, one  is blue. “Are you sure?”

“Oh, yeah, positive, the monkeys told me last night,” Frank says.

“Monkeys?”

“Yeah, the flying monkeys on the wizard of oz. If you listen real closely you can hear them talking to you. They told me to tell you to push the blue button.”

QUESTION: Would you push the blue button? No, why not? Frank could be right. You could need to push the blue button. But you would have no reason to believe that was true. From irrationality, you cannot assume that you can get rational advice.  You disregard Frank’s advice because behind his advice is an irrational idea. This is similar to saying that mankind’s reason came from random forces of nature. IF this were true, we would have no reason to believe that mankind was indeed rational. He would be like Frank, basing cool reason on the gruntings of flying monkeys.

Similarly, if Joe got on the intercome. “Hey, we got everybody together down here. There’s 12 buttons on the panel. Let’s assume you need to press one of them.”

“Thank you!” You say, breathing in trying to remain calm. The timer is now at 15 minutes.

“I’ve got a twister spinner here, lets see.” Joe says, “Okay, we spun it. Push the red button.”

“What?!”

“Push the red button. I spun the spinner; it landed on the red button.”

“But that’s idiotic, get me a nuclear scientist!”

“We’re all scientists down here; there’s twenty of us. We agreed that we should just spin the spinner and see what comes up. Now push the red button.”

You would probably have some very unkind things to say to those scientists, but QUESTION: Why do you disregard there advice? Is it because reason doesn’t come from random chance processes? No matter how many people jump on the side of random chance, are you willing to push a button that could kill you and everyone in twenty miles? Now, they could be right, but you have no reason to believe that they are.

“Is anyone else up there?” you yell at the intercom.

“Hello, this is Philip. What’s the problem?” a voice responds.

“The reactor is going critical! It has ten minutes left!”

“What’s the error?” Philip asks.

“It’s error 412.”

“Oh, my. The coolant is down. Okay, to the control panel. Push the blue button. That will start pumping cold coolant into the reactor. Then wait one minute and push the red button. That will start venting the old coolant. And tell me if anything else happens.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. I built this reactor.”

QUESTION: What would you do? Do you trust this reasoning? Because he built it, he knows how it’s suppose to work. Would you trust that? I hope it’s obvious what that’s like. If you can’t trust irrational reasons for rationality, or random chance to produce rationality, can you trust the Creator to be the source of rationality?

Cube World–Coming Soon

Starting this coming month, I plan on posting a monthly serial story. The title is CUBE WORLD. The title may be in use, most great titles are, but so what. Coming ONLY TO CREATIVE ZEAL MEDIA website, JUNE 1st is CUBE WORLD episode one! With episode 2 to follow, July 1st. Comments and criticisms are welcome. Enjoy the world that IS the box!

Tron:Legacy

Tron Legacy—A Criticism.

 Ah, Disney once again gains millions of dollars from the vast uneducated or undiscerning movie going public by washing off a mediocre film of the past and ruining it completely.

Where to begin? The movie was painful assault on the intellect with NO perks that usually accompany movie watching.

Let’s look at the ridiculous assortment of characters that attacked our senses with little to show for it. Like Avon Flux we have an interesting world populated by unbelievable characters who interact with each other in something barely recognizable as a plot. Unfortunately, I have to say Avon Flux made a better showing and that is SAYING something.

The HERO Sam—is one ridiculously clichéd contradiction after another. He is teleported to another world, nearly killed a dozen times, betrayed by his dad’s best creation, abducted by a mysterious lady that refuses to answer any questions, meets his dad after being abandoned for 20 years! And then in a ridiculous scene that NO human tolerate—sits down to dinner and talks about HIS life—NOT insisting to be brought up to speed in the situation that is staring him in the face and on multiple occasions tried to KILL him. Then for the rest of the movie delivers all of his lame dialogue in a ridiculously subdued whisper—even when his father is about to die or when he is fighting to save the girl.  

The DAD—unable to actually ACT human—is trying to come across as some sort of ridiculously incompetent costumed Jedi. His motivations are so fickle and again clichéd that only seven year old boys would be amused and that is only because he has somekind of magic powers.

The GIRL is a nonentity—barely having enough lines to get the plot (if that is not insulting the word) going. She comes across as an enormous BLANK. I suppose this is intentional; because she is supposed to be a niave spontaneously generated life-form. But this makes no sense; because she is also supposed to be able to save mankind from all of its problems. So acting as little as she possibly can—she manages to be the clichéd girl on the arm of the clichéd hero. (Vomit noise inserted here.)

ENTER the villain. Woops, I can’t find one! The shallower than the drip of syrup in an empty can of peaches villain is insult to the clichéd villain. His motivation, to fulfill his creator’s commands, has somehow caused him to think this accomplished by trying to kill his creator and everyone else. He lashes out violently for no reason, killing Zeus and Zeus’ girlfriend and his secretary for no purpose. He has little to no motivation; hardly coming across as bad, he is more like a resounding “huh?” He hates without hating—plots without plotting—and in the end is destroyed by an unnecessary sacrifice of dad.  

 TRON—Hidden in a suit of armor, the namesake of the movie works for the bad guy until the LAMEST line of turning (with the least motivation to go with it) where he (in spectacular special effects) fails to take out the villain. He goes blue and drowns? (until the sequel. {May it never become a reality})

ZEUS—behaving like a sane and sober version of the Joker—he betrays the hero, barely, (which the audience knows is going to happen), in a fight scene that would make the Power Rangers cringe in embarrassment. Somehow in this fight, the girl gets injured, dad somehow using physic powers to stop the bad guys, and then the daring trio, Dad, hero, and girl escape; and by daring I mean how dare they insult our intelligence so badly. Oh, then Zeus, refusing to do anything clever, hands the disc over to the villain and waits patiently for the villain to blow him up.

THE PLOT: I use the term loosely. Tron: Legacy is one stupid, overdone cliché after another. The most offensive line, Dad, in the tone of someone reading soup ingredients, says to his son, “I would give it all up for just another day with you.” FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Are Disney movie writers now ripping off lame titles of County songs for their intimate dialogue? None of the dialogue is really believable. The characters are as flat as the DVD the movie comes on, and the plot is so thin it makes water look like beef stock! Added to that, the believable or cleaver moments are non-existent—from greedy corporations to villains trying to kill everyone on earth (for no reason whatsoever) the movie moves from cliché to cliché without stopping. At over two hours, the CIA should look into using this drawn out monstrosity to extract information from uncooperative prisoners.

I only have this to say, if this trash is making money, how come I’m not already famous and providing reality with better entertainment. I sincerely apologize to the movie going Americans who spent ten plus dollars to see this in the theatre. I will endeavor to get some REAL stories into the hands of movie makers so this insulting hogwash is removed from circulation.

Hands Up

I am not, I certainly hope, picky or finicky about other peoples style of worship. I don’t fault others for doing what they do when they worship God. If they want to stand, raise their arms, shout Halleluah–go for it. (As long as they aren’t being obnoxious or fake–Like the man that shouts Amen every three seconds.) But for some strange reason, raising one’s hands has always bugged me. 

Now I don’t for a minute think this was or is anything but a personal taste–but when I’m in services when people raise their hands, I get monstrously distracted by it. Why? I never figured that out until recently. I remember at teachers convention, a group of people off to my left raised their hands in the praise service. I can still picture them, and even though I shouldn’t have been I was distracted the whole time by it.

Finally, the answer came at my Brother-in-laws church. It’s a smaller church, Gallup is a smaller town, but when the pastor on the front row raised his hand in the song service–I had to stop myself from calling on him. THAT’S IT! I am a teacher–For seven years, I’ve trained myself to call on those that raise their hands–so when people raise their hands in church I want to call on them and answer theirquestion. Hmmm, go figure.

Tragedy

Tragedy. It’s an interesting thing. I watched an episode of Doctor Who. I like the show. A lot of thinking goes into the stories. But this episode was sad, in the end, the hero—oddly not the doctor—looses everything: his friends, his girlfriend, he even finds out that his mom died from some stupid alien thing. The only happy ending of it was that his girlfriend was turned into an immortal piece of tile—with whom he has a deep, although weird, relationship. I hated it. I wanted the villain to loose and good to triumph. I wanted the lovable character and his lovable friends to have a good ending.

 But they didn’t. I can’t even blame the British. Blast.

 But it got me thinking. (Which, as any fan of film can tell you, is a dangerous pastime.) I’m a Christian, and tragedy is a very, well not anti—because that word and Christian have VERY huge ties—but at least opposite-Christian. Tragedy is the fact that the hero or heroine has something taken from them by the villain whoever or whatever that may be and nothing can make it right again. Romeo and Juliet loose their families and each other. Caesar is murdered. Those two ladies drive off a cliff. The guy’s girlfriend is now a talking piece of tile and his friends are all dead. It’s great drama and all—the hero looses the girl. The villain though properly defeated still wounds, stabs, steals from the hero—and nothing can make it right again.

 In a way, the Christian story is very much like that—The villain, sin and it’s ridiculous underling Satan (Sorry, but I really hate the hyped up stupid nonsense of the Satan type—for crying out loud, he’s the drugged out drug peddler—he’s had a bit too much of his own product, and is the worst slave of sin the world has ever known. Still hate him and all, peeps, but don’t give him too much credit. He doesn’t deserve it. Anyway, back to my sentence.) The villain, sin, took what was best and bravest and most glorious—the perfect man Christ Jesus—and it brutally murdered Him. In the most gruesome way possible, sin destroyed the only one that made sense of it all—the only hope for mankind.

 That’s tragic.

 But on the cross, Jesus Christ won. If it was just a silly movie and not actual historical fact, it would be downright ludicrous—Imagine, the hero being stabbed in the heart by the villain and as he slumps to the floor, smiling and saying, “I win.” But on the cross, the Savior of the world did just that. He cried out, “It is finished.” It wasn’t “I am finished” or “game over” or “we lost.” As He died, He cried out in victory; in the face of sin’s greatest victory, He won.

 He proved it three days later; He rose from the dead. He raised Himself from the dead. Death, Sin’s greatest weapon and right hand man, was defeated as easily as a man telling his butler he’s going out for a walk. The enemies of man, sin and death, were defeated soundly in their moment of greatest triumph—and because of it, anyone can have that same victory. That’s the Christian message.

 Epic? Definitely. Loving? YES! Wonderful? Beyond anything in the world or universe! But tragic? Oh no, not even close.

 So you know what, Comedy—I think God’s behind that. He gave us a sense of humor and proportion. Drama—that too. God’s given us the sense of seriousness to life. Love stories—God is love. The Epic—HA! God invented it! The story in the Bible is about the Epic Love that transcends the wickedness of man and what it took for the righteous, holy God to bring wicked, sinful man back to Himself.

 But not tragedy. God is just—all wrongs will be made right again. All loses are temporary; the villains, even in their most depraved triumphs, are really defeated. And anyone that wants too can be part of the greatest story ever told, the story of how God has made a way for mankind to come to Him.

 But now that I think off it; there is a loss that is permanent. There is a Biblical tragedy: the rebels—real people; not those in a story book—who cry against the things of God and Jesus Christ. They don’t want the salvation offered to them—they won’t take it. They want God to work on their terms, to accept their sin, to not be just and true, like He is. And they are heading just where they’ve chosen too, hell. Now that’s tragic. And what’s even worse, it’s unnecessary.  

 So Doctor Who tried a tragedy; Shakespeare did too. There is a whole industry to the fact—but there is only one real tragedy—rejecting Jesus Christ. It’s pointless. It’s sad. I hate to see it. People, real live people, walking away from hope, freedom, salvation, and love! Each day they go off into a Christ-less eternity. It’s the saddest thing about this stupid sin-cursed world. I hate it!