He Works All Things

He works all things according to the counsel of his will | Ephesians 1:11

Is monogamy worth it?

Posted by Richard on October 28, 2009

“Is monogamy worth it?” was the headline on CNN’s home page to this article.  Other questions posed in the article are

  • Is monogamy realistic?
  • Do they (adulterous affairs of recent celebrities) just illustrate the realities of modern life?
  • Is it still reasonable to expect people to pair up and stay monogamous until death do them part?

The mere asking of such questions shows exactly what form the answer will take:  pragmatics.  When we ask questions about worth, we are doing a cost/benefit analysis from a personal material perspective.  When we ask if something is realistic, we are weighing the convenience of something with respect to ourselves.  When we ask if something is reasonable, we decide if something is likely given the nature of the factors involved.

When we talk about marriage, it is unbiblical to even ask these questions.  Romans 11:36 tells us “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (NASB).  Our perspective cannot be personal, private, or with respect to ourselves but with respect to God.  Each of these questions assumes an inward focus.

I cannot answer the question “Is monogamy worth it?” since it assumes that monogamy is based on some condition that may differ from one person to another.  If you ask me “Why do I believe in monogamy?”, I can answer that on a couple of levels.  First, marriage is a picture of the love of Jesus for the Church.  When I love my wife and am faithful to her, I show how Jesus loves believers.  My faithfulness is a picture of Jesus’ faithfulness to the Church.  If I were unfaithful to my wife, then I have maligned Jesus’ character, because Jesus will not be unfaithful to the Church!  Secondly, monogamy is honoring to my wife.  Unfaithfulness would be humiliating to my wife and a betrayal of her trust.  The CNN article addresses this by suggesting that American culture is too wedded to the idea of monogamy.  Everyone else is doing it….

Finally, Tim Challies has written a series of articles on sex, and his third installment is the best yet.  He observes that our sexual appetite is a gift from God; it “nudges” us to get married if we are single, and to the married it promotes unity and intimacy.  Let me add that our sexual appetite is not a nudge to be unfaithful to our spouses.


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Here’s one to the critters

Posted by Richard on September 28, 2009

o I’m in Kingston, Jamaica, for the week.  I won’t name the hotel, but if you nose around just a bit, you’ll find that there’s only a couple that it could be.  The first room I was put in had one or two sugar ants on the wall.  The grounds guy came in and found that they had nested in between the wall, and showed me where there were a couple of hundred.  He leaves and comes back and says, “I’m not going to spray today, but put out ant food.”  He shows me a tube of Combat ant poison.  “They will eat it and take it back to the nest and kill all of them.”

To which I respond, “And you’ll put me in another room, right?”  “Oh, ah, let me make one phone call”.  I’m thinking to myself, “It had sure better be to the front desk.”  I mean, he’s going to put out ant hors d’oeuvres and expect me to be the maitre d’?!?

Sure enough, he informs me that they are getting another room setup.  In the Towers.  My current room is a “garden” room, which is what they call their small ant-infested rooms with water-damaged drop ceilings.

So I pack up my stuff and off I trot to my new room on the fifth floor where ants can’t reach me.  I unpack, watch LOTR, and go to bed.  This morning, I returned from my jog (another story in itself) and go into the bathroom.  What do I behold on the floor, stretching its antennae and letting go a big ol’ Jamaican yawn?  A roach.   Flush.

Room number three is on the tenth floor.  Perhaps they think that the roaches don’t go this far up?  Or will I find larger vermin?  So far so good.  In fact, Guest Services just delivered complimentary cheesecake and red Jamaican wine to my room.  Hmmm…now that I think about it, perhaps they are hoping that I’ll drink the wine and not notice what’s lurking under my bed.

Oh well, until then, I’m going to toast the ants and the roaches for their help in upgrading my stay in Jamaica.  I’m going to start my Greek lesson before the second glass.

Just kidding – two glasses and I’ll be asleep.

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Making a Greek Verb Parsing Worksheet

Posted by Richard on August 11, 2009

Using Bibleworks 8 and Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice.org Calc

Dr. David Alan Black is teaching Greek at his home church, and I am grateful to be a student in his class.  We have just finished the indicative verbs, and for extra practice, I used Bibleworks to pull all the indicative verbs from 1 John to make a parsing worksheet.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Search for the indicative verbs
    1. Choose a morphologically tagged Greek text, such as GNM
    2. Set search limits unless you want every indicative verb in the NT.  To limit to just 1 John, type “l 1jo” without quotes.
    3. In the command line window, type “.*@vi??????” without quotes and hit enter.  This will pull all indicative verbs.  As you type, you’ll get a pop-up help window that tells you what morphology codes to use in case you want something other than all indicative verbs.
    4. Next open the Word List Manager and click “Load or Generate Word List”
  2. Get the verbs in a list
    1. For Version, choose the non-morphology version, such as GNT.  The morphology version has the lexical forms, but you want the forms that actually appear in the text.
    2. Choose “Load highlighted words from last query”
    3. Check “Use Search Window Limits”
    4. Click “Create List”
    5. Choose File | Export to RTF file
  3. Move the verbs into a spreadsheet
    1. The exported file will open automatically in the BW editor.  If not, you can browse for it or open in a word processor.  Do CTRL-a to select the entire file, then CTRL-c to copy the contents
    2. In a spreadsheet (works for both OpenOffice.org and Excel), click on cell A2 and do CTRL-v to paste the word list to the first column.
    3. Do Data | Text to Columns and have it make columns based on space (default is tab).  You should now have Greek verbs in column A and their frequencies in column B.
    4. Delete column B.
    5. On the first row, type the following headings:  Verb, Tense, Voice, Mood, Person, Number, Source, Translation

As you fill out the worksheet, you check yourself by switching back to Bibleworks and searching for the verb form in a non-morphologically tagged text (i.e., GNT).  Mouse over the verb to get the parsing information.

I’ve created a spreadsheet with all the words in the Greek New Testament.

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Posted by Richard on July 20, 2009

Dieting — Little Things You Can Do to Change

Water — drink water instead of anything else.  There is some evidence that suggests that artificial sweeteners (i.e., diet sodas, etc) can actually increase your appetite.
Sweeteners — use fructose instead of sugar.  It’s sweeter than sugar, but not refined.  Use 1/3 the fructose than the amount of sugar you need.  Also, aguave nector (liquid) and stevia (Truvia or Nu-sweet).
Fruits — they help satisfy a sweet tooth.  Just be wary of pineapple, which has more sugar than most fruits.
Yogurt — easy to replace puddings and ice cream with yogurt.  You can also mix in fruit or healthy cereals.  Make sure you get low-fat or lite (should be ~ 60-80 calories for 4 – 6 oz).
When to Eat — only eat when you are hungry.  Not when you are bored, excited, mad, happy, sad, or any other emotion.  Food is fuel.  Also, eat until you are satisfied, not till stuffed.  Don’t save up your hunger because you’re going out — eat to be satisfied all the time.  Not more, not less.
Turkey Bacon — no, it doesn’t taste like pork bacon which is 104 calories per slice, but it is still very good at 35 calories per slice.
Whole Grain Breads — replace any white bread with wheat or whole grain.  Check the calories — I’ve got a honey wheat bread that’s only 50 calories per slice.  It’s very good and provides plenty of fiber.
Stay in Control — If you can’t stop at just one (like me), then don’t eat one at all.

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Bible giveaway

Posted by Richard on July 2, 2009

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

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Fitness Ridge – All done

Posted by Richard on June 21, 2009

So this morning was pack up, weight out, eat breakfast, and leave.  As hard as this week was, I’m sad to go.  Joy and I have had a huge adventure together and can feel the difference in our bodies.  The challenge will now be to stay away from the buffets in Vegas.

Breakfast was waffles with pecans, syrup, strawberries and blueberries on top, and half a grapefruit.  I’m telling you, we never went hungry here.

Weight-out was ok.  I only lost 2.5 lbs, but I did lose 4% body fat.  Hiking everyday from 3000 feet up to 4000 feet has really increased my lung capacity, too.  I lost inches off my waist, hips, and arms as well.  It’s hard to look past only 2.5 lbs, but I really did get a more well-rounded result than simple weight loss.

Here are some general thoughts about our experience:

Getting there

St. George Executive Shuttle takes to/from the Vegas airport to FR.  Love this van.  Four leather captain chairs, iPod touches for everyone, AC power for your laptop, and internet service.  In fact, I’m in the van right now on the way back to Vegas as I type this!  Very comfortable.

Fitness Ridge Facility

Incredibly clean, very comfortable, and very accommodating.  Our room was much like a standard hotel room with two full-size beds, and a sink both inside and outside the bathroom.  The AC was easy to control, only the fan in the room was loud enough to wake you up at night.  Everything was in good condition and looked new.

FR Trainers

The trainers do not seem to be fulltime employees of FR, but they really take their job to heart.  They have a genuine interest in seeing you do your best (which means attending class), working hard, and making sure that you have a plan when you leave.  They are your cheerleaders, and everyone needs a cheerleader.

FR Staff

From the cafeteria staff to the front desk to housekeeping, I can’t say a single negative word.  FR is well-staffed, and the staff is keen to making your time at FR enjoyable.  Everyone always went the extra-mile to provide for guests, and I don’t say that lightly.

FR Program

FR is structured, make no mistake about it.  We meet for hikes at 6:15am and our day is planned out through 7pm.  If you stay longer than one week, you don’t attend the lectures, so you day would end at dinner which starts at 5:30pm, plus the mid-day lectures would be replaced by gym time.  Regardless, your day is planned out for you, including your meals.  That was a big attraction for Joy and me.

Regarding the lectures, you might think it’s a waste of time at first — learning what to eat, how to eat, and how much to eat.  You’d be surprised at how hard that can be.  It’s easy to just keep eating what you’ve always eaten because it’s so hard to think of something different.  Even though we already knew a lot of what was said, they were still well-worth our time.

One last note about lectures and classes:  I checked Red Mountain Spa, which is just down the road from FR, and I want to stress one important difference between RMS and FR.  RMS is not as structured, not as rigid health-wise, and they are off the spiritual deep-end.  This I get from their website, not personal experience, but their website clearly shows their openness to eastern hoo-doo.  At FR, the closest we got to that was one speaker who said we need to let go of our past to avoid guilt.  If I tell you I have a severe headache with loss of vision, I want surgery, not Advil and glasses.  Godly guilt leads to repentance, as it should.  I know, I know, sometimes we feel unnecessary guilt, blah, blah, but you can’t talk about “letting go of guilt” without making the distinction.  Anyway, the point is to say that FR is really about physical and emotional fitness without delving into the wack stuff promoted at RMS.

Would I go back?  Yup, I think I would.  I don’t know that I actually will, but it’s been a great trip, and I’m glad that Joy and I could share this adventure together.  And now, Vegas!

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Fitness Ridge – Day 6: WE MADE IT!

Posted by Richard on June 20, 2009

We did the stop sign hike again today.  Joy took five minutes off of her time!  It was a tough walk, but not as bad as sand, and not as bad as it was the first day we did it.  My time was actually 2 minutes longer than my first hike, but I recovered much quicker.

After breakfast, we did circuit training, although I didn’t do cardio, only weights, then stretch, and then lunch.  That means we are finally done with FR classes!  Lunch was roasted pepper soup (yum) with tilapia tacos (not yum).  Fortunately, if you don’t like something, you can always get a bowl of cereal (yum) instead.  That’s what I did.

After lunch we went to Coyote Gulch, an artsy little village a couple of minutes up the road.  If you like art, it’s cool.  If you don’t, you won’t.  Guess which one I was.

We had a “graduation” ceremony where we saw a short DVD of our stay, plus we got t-shirts if we went to all the classes.  That’s not as silly as it sounds!  We worked incredibly hard this week, and that t-shirt represents all we’ve done.  Plus we’ve seen plenty of people goof off, skip class, leave class early, etc.  We earned these shirts.

Supper was pretty good.  We had teriyaki ricebowl:  rice with chicken, bean sprouts, and teriyaki sauce.    I didn’t eat all the rice since I’m not hiking tomorrow.  More importantly, I’m weighing out tomorrow.  Frankly, I don’t think I’ve lost weight.  I do, however, think my Body Mass Index (BMI) has dropped.  I’m getting close to my goal weight, so losing weight isn’t as high as a priority, but it will be good to see either my BMI dropping, weight dropping, or both.

Weigh-out is at 7:10am tomorrow morning, then breakfast, then a shuttle to take us to Vegas at 9am.  I’ll post again sometime laster offering more than just the here’s-what-we-did this week.

And now, the pictures.

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Fitness Ridge – Day 5

Posted by Richard on June 20, 2009

Today was tough.  Really tough.  I decided to do an intermediate hike called White Rock.  There were only two of us signed up to go, and then she dropped out leaving me.  When I told one of the guides, thinking I would just take another hike instead, they were thrilled.  They put two new guides with the experienced guide and the four of us went on the hike.  Normally a private guided hike costs $35/hour, and here I had four guides!  Lucky me — or so I thought.  Remember that these guys can walk up a vertical wall and still carry on a conversation.  I’ve definitely improved since my stay here, but steep steps still take my breath.  And that’s what White Rock was, one steep red mountain after another until you get to the end where there’s a white rock, and lots of sand.  Uphill in desert sand.  Sand sux.  Really sux.  I slogged through 45 minutes up sand uphill, and when I was done, I was whipped.  I did burn 1860 calories in 2.5 hours, had spectacular views from the tops of three peaks, but it was after lunch before I really felt better.

Having taken such a beating on the hike, I took it easy for the rest of the day.  Stretch after breakfast, circuit, stretch again, and pool after lunch.  It turned out to be a really fun day.  In fact, I haven’t taken any Tylenol since yesterday!

There was no lecture after dinner, so Joy and I got in the (public) hot tub.  The tub was really hot, but there was a nice breeze blowing.

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Fitness Ridge – Day 4

Posted by Richard on June 18, 2009

Joy and I hiked Chuckawalla Ridge this morning.  The view was incredible.  We hiked over red rock for about two and a half hours.  Breakfast was french toast with bananas.  We had a choice of yoga or gym class before lunch.  Joy did yoga yesterday and really liked it, so she did it again today.  I felt I really needed time in the gym, so I did that.  Gym was five minutes on cardio, then weights, then repeat.  It was kind of like circuit training only more time at each station.   We finished with plyometrics, stretches, and some very hard yoga.  Good stuff.

Lunch was a BLT, the “B” being turkey bacon, which is really good.  After lunch we had a cooking demo.  The chef, by the way, is Cameron Payne, worked for Wolfgang Puck.  Watching this guy cook is like watching a magic show.  He does unbelievable things with ingredients you wouldn’t think to use to make incredibly good meals.  I have his cook book for the stuff we’ve eaten, too.

Treading.  Treading.  If you’ve ever done treading, then the sound of the word should strike fear into your heart.  You start on a treadmill or elliptical for five minutes going as hard as you can.  For me, that was six miles per hour.  Then you recover for five minutes at something like two to three miles per hour.  Then you repeat for four minutes full tilt, four minutes recovery; then three minutes, two minutes, one minute.  I ended up doing between five and five and a half miles per hour for the all out phase.  The point is to build up your endurance and to improve recovery time after exercise.  It was very difficult, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards.

Following treading, I did the stretch class.  Good choice.  I’m extremely inflexible, and after so much cardio, I was getting pretty stiff.  I ended the day with a mix of upper/lower body workout in the gym.

Supper was a surprisingly good turkey-stuffed bell pepper.  We watched Cameron make it at the demo earlier, and now we were eating it.  I say “surprisingly” because I really don’t care at all for bell peppers, but it had been cooked for two hours, so the sharpness was gone.  Add a scoop of rice, and I was pretty happy.  For dessert we had banana cream pie, which we saw him make at another cooking demo a couple of days ago.

After supper we had a lecture from one of the trainers on how to put together a workout plan when we go home.

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Fitness Ridge – Day 3

Posted by Richard on June 17, 2009

We’ve survived three days at Fitness Ridge, and that’s no small feat.  Breakfast was a really good fruit parfait.  Fruit on top, crunchy granola cereal on the bottom, and what you would think is yogurt in the middle.  However, FR doesn’t do dairy products at all.  It’s too hard to work around the many people with bad reactions to dairy, so they use soy products instead.  Whatever was in between the fruit and cereal was not yogurt, and probably some sort of tofu stuff.  And, yes, it was delicious.

Speaking of tofu, we had a chocolate dessert the first night we were here.  It was a chocolate pudding over a crunchy crust.  Only it wasn’t chocolate pudding, but tofu!  Whodathunk?  I’m won over to tofu.

I did the stop sign hike again today.  I thought I might get a better time than Monday, but I actually added 5 minutes to give me 1 hour 14 minutes.  Not what I was expecting, but then again, Monday’s hike was the first think I had done at FR, and today’s Wednesday.

After breakfast, we finally had free time.  We had about an hour and 15 minutes before the next exercise class, so Joy and I slept.  I set the alarm, and we knocked out.   At 11:15am, we had to be in our next class.  Joy chose yoga, I chose circuit training.  I did circuit training yesterday and really like it.   You do two minutes of cardio on a treadmill or elliptical, then 2 minutes on weights, back and forth.  You are constantly changing what you are doing, and the 45 minutes flies by.

Lunch was a pizza, which was really good.  They offered a beet soup, and it sucked.  Not FR’s fault, just the beets.   There aren’t a lot of foods that I will simply refuse to eat, but beets are one of them.  I passed.

After lunch was a lecture on the psychology of healthy living.  It was actually pretty informative. It’s not like it’s anything you didn’t know, but actually hearing it said and having it clearly articulated sometimes makes a big difference in how these things play out in your life.

This afternoon was pretty grueling.  First was mountain, which is 45 minutes on the treadmill (Joy) or the elliptical (me).  You start at level one for three minutes, then increase by one level.  Repeat 12 times.  Then you back off about six levels for five minutes, then back to your base level.  That was pretty intense, but I really liked it.

Then we had the pool.  I hate pool class.  I can move around in the pool, but I’m not a particularly strong swimmer.  We had the dumbbells today, which I really didn’t care for either.  I’ve looked at the schedule, though, and I think I can avoid pool for the rest of my stay here.

Last was cardio intervals.  We switched between plyometrics, ball exercises, kickboxing, and a bicycle.  That bicycle, by the way, was made for someone with a large down pillow growing between their legs, which I do not.  It was like sitting on a fence rail.   Burned 540 calories during that 45 minutes, though.

Supper was a salad with rice, beans, and chicken, all wrapped in a piece of flatbread.  I added kidney beans and red wine vinegar.  Dessert was a piece of cake covered in strawberries.  Again, everything is really delicious.

I had gotten hooked on that mango passion fruit hot tea.  I’ve loved hot tea since my trip to the UK, but it makes me pee sooo much for the next couple of ours that I just quit.  Drinking tea, that is.

Joy did laundry tonight.

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