Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taking It On The Chin - Oct 26

Ah yes, the end of the baseball season. Not only does the first snowflake sighting remind me of winter, the real clincher is when the final out of the World Series is recorded. As of right now, Philadelphia leads Tampa Bay 3-1 with Game 5 going tomorrow. I've noticed however that it's been more than baseball players that've been getting chin music more than recently.

America: Land of the Free. But for how long?

There's a definite case of schaedenfreude going around the world as America's finances look a bit wobbly. The Chinese are a prime example. The Russians have got their mojo back and are bumping up their strategic nuclear capabilities. I do fear that however assumes the White House will be walking into a hornet's nest. As Pat Buchanan notes: With U.S. markets crashing and wealth vanishing, what are we doing with 750 bases and troops in over 100 countries? Good question Pat. More importantly, how does this fit into God's plan? It is becoming more and more obvious that America's power is receding. Daniel's vision of a revived Roman Empire must mean that America must fall.

Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
(Daniel 2:40-43)

'The people will be a mixture and will not remain united' is the perfect description of Europe. It appears that a new financial order is taking root amongst the EU. A second Bretton Woods (named after a town in New Hampshire) is being proposed that would put greater oversight on American finances. I feel for those investors who've been good stewards of their money only to get hurt in this latest catastrophe. They diversified their portfolio, they've not made hasty decisions and yet still they take it on the chin. Nobody said life was going to be fair! If there's any lesson in this, it is that God and God alone is the only thing that guarantees a return on investment. The things of Man can often fail, such as his monetary policy.

On a Personal Note

I'm moving - again! - to another place in Brampton. This post may (or may not) be the last post for October. As soon as I get my internet connection going at my new place I'll be back at it once more. Therefore there will not be a post next weekend, perhaps mid-week after the election. So much packing to do! I dread moving day. I remember my time as a university student moving from home to Hamilton in September only to reverse the process in April. I definitely feel like a foreigner in a foreign land. When God calls me home, whenever that might be, it will be then and only then I can truly say that I'm home. In the meantime I'm just going to have to suck it up and deal with it on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Johnny Cash

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The F Word - Oct 21

Naturally I'm referring to flurries here, not some other vulgar word. It happens every year. We see strange flakes falling around us and we look skyward, astonished at this white miracle. Raining at first in Brampton, it turned to snow as I was hitting Aurora on my way to Newmarket. 'Winter has arrived' I said to myself. Now apart from driving in really bad weather, I love the cool air that winter brings. I never sleep better at night than I do this season.

Giving Praise to God for Winter

Why not? To believe all the doomsayers we are headed for a climate catastrophe. While we humans love the summer for the good times we like to spend outdoors, think of what the world would be like if the polar regions didn't have their share of winter. The massive icesheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica would melt, flooding our coastal cities. Crops would likely fail, creating famine worldwide. Rain would fall unevenly, drowning some places while drought would create desertification elsewhere. Yet despite all the handwringing, winter arrives as it always does.

Canada: No Wimps Allowed!!

The snow gives the ski resorts a reason to celebrate too. A lot, and I mean A LOT, of tourist dollars flow into southern Ontario and Quebec as skiers and snowboarders flock to our gentle slopes. I think of the winter sports that Canadians love to play. While we still did rather well at the Beijing Olympics, I always look forward to the Winter Olympics to see our men and women strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Without the snow and ice, hockey wouldn't be played outdoors either. While I myself was more a baseball fan, I did appreciate Canada's unofficial national sport (Lacrosse is our official national sport). Unlike bears, us humans don't have the luxury of hibernating. Yet I wouldn't trade this changing of the seasons for anything!

Speaking of No Wimps .....

Reminds me of my time spent in the army. If it was cold, damp, dark and windy, chances are we'd be out there doing our training. This weather always brings back the memories that I had while I was wearing the uniform. My first exposure was in basic training in Camp Borden before it became a cadet camp. Even though it was summer, crawling out of your sleeping bag in a tent at 5:30 in the morning to put on a t-shirt, shorts and running shoes was a wee bit traumatic. A second belly button followed by a cold shower is not what I had in mind when I joined at CFRC Hamilton. Now I did survive my basic training (it was only six weeks after all), but when I got to my unit it was more of the same. Army weekends. Oh how I dreaded that weekend every month. Now this might not have been so bad if I was in a service battalion (I was a supply technician), but I was in an infantry unit. This had mixed blessings of course. Firing a .50 cal machine gun, lobbing a live grenade, firing a mortar and other cool infantry weapons was something that very few individuals could boast of. But did they make you work! Not only did you have to qualify in your basic fieldcraft, you were tagged to do other support tasks such as meals or ammo pickup. Driving was a chore too. Fridays were bad enough after a long work week but Sundays were worse due to lack of sleep. Unloading the truck, cleaning equipment AND your weapon were chores that awaited us when we got back to Georgetown armouries. Do I have regrets? Thankfully not one. I'm proud of what I accomplished as a reservist over my twelve year tenure. However I'm just as equally glad I'm no longer doing it. So I've learned not to complain this time of year. After all, it could be worse. I could be in Meaford. HA!

Johnny Cash

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leftover Turkeys - Oct 15

I'm actually rather surprised Mr. Harper and the Conservatives did so well. In this article stratfor suggests this win will embolden the separatist movement in Quebec. Actually, that's nothing new. We've been dealing with that problem since confederation.

Johnny Cash

Canada: Risky Strategies and a Conservative Victory
October 15, 2008 | 1814 GMT

The Conservative Party of Canada has been returned to power, albeit with a much stronger minority, election results released Oct. 15 show. But in his electoral bid, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper might have reinvigorated the cause of Quebec separatism.


The Conservative Party of Canada, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has won Canada’s Oct. 14 election, results released Oct. 15 show. Though the Conservative Party fell short of winning a majority in parliament (which requires 155 seats), the 143 seats (up from 126) it did win give it almost 50 percent more seats than its main rival, the Liberal Party, which placed second with 76 seats. The Bloc Quebecois came in third place with 50 seats, while the New Democrat Party (NDP) placed fourth with 37 seats.

In winning the election, however, the Harper government pursued a strategy that might have far-reaching consequences in Quebec.

After the election, the Harper government has more seats than it had before, and it probably will be able to govern effectively — at least in the short term — as if it were a majority party. By contrast, the main opposition Liberal Party went from 103 to 76 seats and is facing calls for new party leadership. The NDP experienced a sizeable gain (up from 29), but its 37 seats still make it a small opposition party.

Harper’s win will allow him to carry on with existing policies. These include maintaining Canada’s military commitment to Afghanistan through 2011 (whether the Harper government will be able to extend the mission beyond that date remains in question), as well as managing Ottawa’s budget surplus to deal with fallout from the global economic crisis and a slowing economy.

But in the process of campaigning, the Harper government introduced a threat to Canada’s confederal system of government. In an effort to win a majority, Harper campaigned heavily in Quebec, a province whose internal politics are historically dominated by concerns for the survival of the province’s Francophone identity. Harper, an Anglophone Canadian who was born in Toronto and spent his adulthood in the western province of Alberta — a province as decentralist and anti-Francophone as one gets in Canada — aimed to gain the Quebecois vote by appealing to the province’s character as a “nation” (as he did in a speech in Quebec City on July 3).

Identifying Quebec as a nation distinct from Anglophone Canada is the strategy Quebec separatists have used to gain support for their goal of separating the province from the rest of Canada and becoming an independent state. Harper’s recent predecessors from both major Canadian political parties — including Paul Martin, Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau — all hailed from Quebec. They took a strongly centralist approach to the province, facing significant resistance from the province’s Francophone separatists.

Harper’s reaching out to the Quebecois “nation” threatens to undermine his predecessor’s legacies of federalism. The separatist-seeking Bloc Quebecois can be expected to use the 50 seats it won as a platform to champion pro-Quebec causes. Should Quebecois politicians propose another referendum on independence (one held in 1995 fell just barely short of a majority), they will have Harper’s usage of the term “nation” — by an Anglophone prime minister no less — to support their campaign.

Harper is not about to govern over the end of Canadian unity. But regionalism in Canada is clearly strengthening. The conservatives themselves had to regroup in the 1990s, bringing together remnants of the former Progressive Conservative Party as well as what was then the Reform Party of Canada (a Western regional party that morphed into the Canadian Alliance) to become a force in Canadian politics after the Progessive Conservative Party’s disastrous loss in 1993 elections. The Liberal Party, which appeals to very few voters west of Ontario province, might have to similarly regroup and create a new coalition to make a credible run for power again. Getting all the factions within the Liberal Party to agree on a new leader will be a first order of business.

The Harper government will likely counter any separatist challenge the old-fashioned way — by throwing money into Quebec and keeping it a loose, first-among-equals province. But that strategy risks having other provinces demand their share of federal monies, or, in the case of energy-rich Alberta, demand greater autonomy and a reduction in the share of its taxes that goes to Ottawa.

The net result of the Oct. 14 election might enshrine Ottawa as the arbiter of Canadian foreign and defense policy, while leaving economic and social policies to be determined at provincial government levels. This means coordination and cooperation among Canadian provinces could begin to unravel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giving Thanks Even in Perilous Times - Oct 13

The question we must pose to ourselves on Thanksgiving is not what we are thankful for, but to whom do we give thanks? Do we give thanks to ourselves or to our government? Not on your life! On this day we give thanks to the Father for His faithfulness.

Here are four reasons why we ought to be thankful. Romans 8:28-39 can be found here.

God Controls Our Circumstances

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

It is true that have free will but the ultimate control belongs to God. Satan is not in control. Though we see his demonic influence on people, God has not surrendered His authority to the evil one. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that everything is going to come up roses once you trust in Him. Whether it be prosperity or adversity, God will use our personal circumstance for His glory.

God Will Meet Our Needs

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31b,32)

There is a great deal of confusion about the difference between what we desire and what God wants to give us. If God gave us everything we asked for, would continue to follow after Him? Likely not. It is abundance and not deprivation that causes someone to no longer depend on Him. If we are asking for something from God and He decides to withhold it from us, He is not being cruel. Two reasons can be given for this. Either it is withheld from us permanently because it will do us harm or the withholding is temporary because we are not ready to receive it. God trains us up according to His purpose in His time.

God is With Us

Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

We cannot pick and choose which parts of the Trinity we like and which parts we don't like. If we want to know the Father, we must accept Jesus as His only Son and be willing to receive the Holy Spirit. Those CINO's (Christians in name only) who don't know Jesus or followers of other belief systems cannot boast that God is with them. They may be able to recite scripture but if they haven't acknowledged Christ as Lord then they're lost. Our human emotions have little to do with our relationship with Him. Faith that is emotion-based is one that will lead us to error. Though God may seem far off at times those whom He has predestined will receive their glory in due time.

God's Love is Eternal

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

As mature even at the age of 38, I realize there are two kinds of love out there. The first love is human love which is based upon our achievements, the accolades we've accumulated as well as our conduct and behaviour. Act accordingly we get rewards. Act in an untoward fashion and love and affection can often be withheld. A few men I know have felt the sting of a failed marriage precisely because of this reliance on human love. Performance-based love is a love that is doomed to fail. Then there's a Godly love based on His grace. God's love is based on who He is, not on what we are or what we've done.

To Whom (or What) Do You Place Your Confidence In?

We live in a fallen world. Things fail. People, even our own family, can let us down. Even when we exercise good stewardship our wealth can leave us in an instant. Our vitality and strength can be robbed from us at any time in the form of sudden illness or death. Where then do we anchor our confidence? Do we do it just on Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas? No! We should continually deliver our daily circumstance into His loving hands. This is the challenge I put forth to all those who do not know Him. Trust God and He will sustain and guide you, even in perilous times.

Johnny Cash

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

777 and Bible Numerology - Oct 8

I was floored recently when I received my weekly update from sitemeter last Monday. On the 29th I had 389 visits (450 page views) and on the 30th I had 307 visits (354 page views). Now I know for a fact that my last post on the geopolitical tensions in Pakistan wasn't the reason for my recent upsurge in traffic. As you may recall, the Dow Jones fell 777.68 points when Congress rejected the $700 billion bailout. Naturally, people googled the number 777 to see what they came up with. Many came across this post I wrote on June 6th, 2006 (6/6/06):

The Number 666, 777 - Jun 6

In that post both Jesus Christ and the seven churches of Asia Minor (now Turkey) were represented as the number 777.

Was This Financial Catastrophe the Work of God?

Given the fact that the stock market took a precise beating to the tune of 777.7 if we round up, we come across some interesting parallels in the Book of the Revelation. There isn't three sets of seven judgements, but in fact four of them:

The Seven Sealed Scroll (Rev 6, Rev 8:1-5)
The Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:6-13,Rev 9, Rev 11:15-19)
The Seven Thunders (unknown) (Rev 10:3,4)
The Seven Plagues/Bowls (Rev 16)

So instead of a mere 777, you have four sevens to contend with. Taking into consideration that this just so happened around Rosh Hashanah, whose theme is judgement, I found an interesting thing about the date 9/29/08. By adding the numbers together we get 9+2+9+0+8=28. The number twenty-eight can also be represented as 7+7+7+7=28. Four sevens again!

So Deep It's Meaningless: An Academic Rebuttal

What does this all prove? Sadly, not much. No sane judge in a court of law would even consider such speculative line of thinking. Numbers, like language, can be manipulated to prove whatever an individual desires to prove. The truth of the matter is we have no idea whether God weighed in with His divine authority on September 29th. In matters of faith you will never find the bloody thumbprint or other hard evidence to prove your theory. Faith is not silly superstition. It is a mystery standing above and beyond simple human reason.

Here's What I Do Know

That through this God managed to give Himself the glory. Basing my assumption that the sitemeter stats are trustworthy, many now have been exposed to Christianity and the Bible's teachings. Imagine if ten percent of the viewers on Monday and Tuesday gave their heart to Christ because of me! That would amount to 69 new souls being added to the Book of Life by sheer accident! Again, I'll never know. Maybe nobody gave their heart to Christ. Perhaps my figure of 69 is but a fantasy. Yet for those who stumbled upon my blog they now have no excuse. None can plead ignorance before an omniescient Creator.

A Quick Update: 10,000 Visits and Counting

Actually, it's over 11,000. Keeping in mind that I added sitemeter later on it's hard to guess how many have seen this blog - or care to admit to it! I am encouraged greatly by the world-wide participation of those precious individuals who have perchanced the X-Def. As my computer troubles have finally passed I intend to post as often as time allows. So please be patient with me. Doing the Lord's work is never easy!

Johnny Cash