The Adjusment Bureau, a quick look

March 10, 2011 – 9:52 am

Since this movie came out so recently, I will keep my comments brief so as to avoid spoiling anyone.  If you want a longer one ( with spoilers ), and don’t want to wait for my more thorough analysis ( which will hopefully come in the next few months ), go here.  I often only skim the plugged in analysis for fear of spoiling myself, but that is a personal decision on my part.

Anyway, first of all, I did enjoy the movie.  I thought it was entertaining.  I also thought it brought up some interesting questions that I enjoy thinking about as a Christian.  Not saying I agree with the movie’s conclusions, just saying it was thought provoking.

Here are some positive points:

  1. People risking everything for the one they love.  Now, this sacrifice is not the par of our Savior, of course ( Jn 3:16 ), but it worth noticing.
  2. Persistence against impossible odds.

Here are some negative points:

  1. David Norris and Elise Sellas have sex outside of marriage ( 1 Cor 6:12-20; Heb 13:4; 1 Thess 4:3-8; etc )
  2. I will need to be vague here, but beware of who they portray “God” as in this movie.  There is one statement in particular that concerns me.  One character says “You know him by many names”.  Despite what people think, the God taught in the Bible ( New Testament and Old Testament ) is not the same as, say, Allah.  The God of the Bible says that you come to Him by grace through faith in Jesus, not by works ( Rom 3:24; Rom 4:16; Eph 2:5,8 ).  All the other religions teach that you have to do good things in order to get into Heaven and be with God ( whatever heaven is for that religion ).  In my fuller analysis, I will try to explain this more thoroughly.  Right now I just want to warn people to be careful.

As one can expect from the trailers and the title, much of the movie is a discussion of human freewill and the “sovereignty of God” ( they don’t really mention a divine being, but such a being is implied ).  As stated above, I question whether the God of the movie is the God of the Bible, but those are two major questions in the movie.  Christians have been discussing these things for a long time, and one short blog post won’t even be able to do the discussion justice.  And it would spoil the movie.  I will say that the people who focus on human freewill,  to the the exclusion of God’s sovereignty, will have major problems with some aspects of the movie.  Also, the people who focus on the sovereignty of God,  to the the exclusion of the freewill of man, will have problems with other aspects.  I will save this discussion for later, though.

Like I said, I want to avoid spoilers at this point, thus the vagueness.  Keep watching here for a more thorough analysis.

Bones – Hannah vs Brennan and thoughts on worldview

February 10, 2011 – 2:40 pm

This has been my first post in quite some time.  I don’t want to do one of my normal analysis type posts on the show Bones as whole just yet.  I just want to comment on one aspect, from a Christian perspective.  I know there are some morally questionable things in Bones, so this is not a wholesale approval of this show.  Just some thoughts on one aspect.  Total side note, but you can go here for one review from a Christian perspective.  They often have some good thoughts.

Anyway, in recent days I have been watching some dialog about the TV show Bones, and especially the “Hannah/Booth” relationship as opposed to the “Brennan/Booth”.  So, what occurred to me was that American society in general, and Hollywood specifically, does not seem to think that worldview is that important when considering who to marry ( or at least who to be with in a committed relationship ).

When this season first began, I honestly wanted Brennan and Booth together.  That said, I always had this feeling that, from the perspective of the worldview, they should not logically pursue anything beyond friendship.  They just don’t believe the same way.  For instance, Booth believes in God and is semi-committed to the Christian moral code.  Brennan does not believe in God, and seems to even consider it rather inferior to believe in a divine being.  Also, Booth believes in marriage, while Brennan does not.  These are just two rather major aspects of their respective worldviews that differ.  There are probably others.  Anyway, what struck me as so interesting is that no one really cared about these rather large differences.  I did not even notice them as a problem until we “met” Hannah this season.  Hannah has a much more similar worldview to Booth than Brennan does ( this may change in the episode tonight, of course ).  So, while I wanted Booth and Brennan together at the beginning of the season, I realized when we “met” Hannah that I was ignoring the worldview differences between Booth and Brennan.

Now if we take a very brief look at how fans address this issue ( see comments on http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281526&id=19097964496#!/photo.php?fbid=10150108525874497&set=a.10150108525849497.281526.19097964496 ), we see how many people want Booth with Brennan.  So my rhetorical questions are:

  1. Why is worldview so unimportant to people in general with regards to committed romantic relationships?  People seem blind to these issues in this small case of a fictional story in Bones.  If they even notice the differences, they don’t see them as that important when compared to the rule “follow your heart”.
  2. Why does Hollywood feel that the only thing that matters when finding someone to marry is that you love each other?  I am not saying “love” is unimportant.  It is.  But love is a choice ( 1 Cor 13:1-7 ), not just an emotion.  When society in general, and Hollywood in particular, says “love” in the context of relationships, they are normally talking about some emotion, not a choice to serve someone as described in 1 Cor 13:1-7, and by our Lord’s example on the Cross ( Jn 3:16 ).

I sort of wonder how much the divorce rate is impacted by people who don’t care about worldview differences when they marry someone.  Anyway, just some thoughts motivated by the TV show Bones.  Take them for what they are worth.  If I am missing something, write a comment.  There is a lot more that could be discussed on this topic in general, or the topic as it pertains to the TV show Bones in particular.

Side issue:  Since I like Hannah for Booth so much more now then I did at the beginning of the season, I guess the actress has done a good job from my perspective.  Granted, like I said above, this might change in the episode tonight.

Brain storming session on why Bible Study can be hard

May 11, 2009 – 9:00 pm

For my Psalm 119 study, I have found it quite difficult to do the study the way I want to.  As I have thought about this, an important question occured to me:  What makes Bible Study hard?  For me, it is not really the mechanics of Bible study ( although those can be tough as well ).  For me it is the following:

  1. The heart of Bible Study – studying God’s precious word devotionally, not JUST scholastically.  There is a place for a scholastic mindset.  But the devotional aspect should supersede the scholastic, I am thinking ( Ps 37:4; Matt 6:33; and the psalmist who is writing Ps 119 exudes a love for God that motivates his love for God’s word ).
  2. The discipline of Bible study – choosing to do it when other, more “fun” things are offering themselves.  Also, continue to prayerfully fight through it until God gives us the joy we desire.  Note that this is not to say that the Bible is boring, but in this world with all its distractions, we foolishly think that TV, for instance, will be more satisfying than spending time with God.  So we either choose to fight through this deception that is consuming us, or we give in and go to TV ( or whatever we go to instead of TV ).  The old adage “Pray when you do feel like it.  Pray when you don’t feel like it.  Pray until you do feel like it” applies here and that is where, in some cases, the discipline comes in.  While we should always “feel like it”, that is probably unrealistic considering the fact that we live in a sinful world and have the flesh to deal with ( Rom 7:14-25 )
  3. The prayer of Bible study – choosing to depend on God during the study for wisdom, understanding, and change of heart.

I write this mainly because I expect there are many people who deal with these issues.  I know I for one like knowing that I am not alone, so maybe some of you will appreciate knowing that you are not alone.  May we all press on to know God through His word.  I know I desperately need His help, and I know He is their, patiently helping me and guiding me, even when I do not see Him.  He is our hope.

On a related note, I saw this on Twitter today: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Questions/QA168

What I have

April 7, 2009 – 12:33 am

Well, I actually have quite a bit of information on Psalm 119:1-32.  The problem is I cannot decide how useful it is as most of it is just first draft thoughts, if you will.  Thoughts to get my mind working.  I will be putting some of it up soon, though.

Synonymous terms for God’s word – definition

March 10, 2009 – 7:23 am

Earlier I gave a list of these terms, now here are the definitions.

Words used as synonyms for God’s Law, God’s word:

  1. Strong’s Hebrew #8451 -
    • Definition ( in own words ): The law as defined by God to Moses.  It means, in this context, with the definate article, the instruction and direction of God for His people, His teaching of His people.  It refers to the set of regulations and to the whole of God’s teaching
    • Short definition: God’s written Law
    • English translations: law, custom, instructions, Law, laws, ruling, teaching, teachings.  Often translated as law/Law.
    • Frequency – 25 times – most frequesntly used
  2. Strong’s Hebrew #5713 -
    • Definition ( in own words ): A testimony, A witness, A precept of God.  This word always refers to things of permanence and fact, as in land ownership or a covenant with God.
    • Short definition: Particulars of our covenant with God
    • English Translations: testimonies, witness
    • Frequency – 13 times
  3. Strong’s Hebrew #1870 -
    • Definition ( in own words ): This words speaks of a path or a journey  that one  takes.  It can refer to the way of living or acting that one follows.  it can also refer to the way one worships God.
    • Short definition: The way one lives and worships God.
    • English Translations: way, toward, journey, manner
    • Frequency – 3
  4. Strong’s Hebrew #6490
    • Definition: This word refers to the commandments and precepts of God.  It refers to God’s mandate to us.  It can refer to things that are mandated to another, that that other must do.
    • Short defintion: God’s mandate to us.
    • English Translations: precept, commandment, statute
    • Frequency – 19
  5. Strong’s Hebrew #2706 -
    • Definition: This refers to something that is established and definate.  It speaks of a defined limit, statute, ordinance, or decree, especially of God.  It speaks of a prescribed task.  It can also refer to civil laws of God.
    • Short definition: God’s defined limits for us.
    • English Translations: statute, ordinance, decree, due, law, portion, bounds, custom, appointed, commandments
    • Frequency – 19
  6. Strong’s Hebrew #4687 -
    • Definition: This word is most often used to describe th conditions of God’s covenant with Israel, the Law.  It refers to a command or precept from God or man to others.  It can also refer to a precept of wisdom, something a teacher would teach his pupil.  It was the terms of the contract in the purchase of land.
    • Short definition: God’s command to His people and the conditions of His covenant with them.
    • English Translations: commandments, precept, commanded, law, ordinances
    • Frequency – 15
  7. Strong’s Hebrew #4941 -
    • Definition: Can refer to act of judging in legal matters.  Can also refer to that which is right, just, or according to law.  It also has the connotation of a law or statute, used to collectively identify all the laws in a body of laws.  It also refers to that which is lawfully due to anyone, what that person deserves by law.
    • Short definition: That which is just or right, which someone ( espcially God ) deserves by right.
    • English Translations: judgement, manner, right, cause, ordinance, lawful, order, law, measure, sentence
    • Frequency – 20
  8. Strong’s Hebrew #1697 -
    • Definition: word, words.  It can mean a command, edict, or promise.  Essentially, though, it has to do with words, utterance, or speech.
    • Short definition: God’s words, His commands, His edicts, His promises.
    • English Translations: word, thing, matter, acts, chronicles, saying, commandment
    • Frequency – 23
  9. Strong’s Hebrew #565 -
    • Definition: At its most basic level it refers to an utterance, speech, or word.  Most often it is used to refer to the word of God, the Torah.
    • Short definition: The word of God
    • English Translations: word, speech, commandment
    • Frequency – 17
  10. Strong’s Hebrew #5715 -
    • Definition: At its core it refers to testimony or witness.  It refers to a precept, a law ( as the Ten Commandments ), a revelation, a reminder, or a warning sign.  This is often used with reference to the testimony of God.
    • Short definition: God’s warning signs and reminders to us.
    • English Translations: testimony, witness
    • Frequency – 8
  11. Strong’s Hebrew #734 -
    • Definition:  Refers to a way, a path, or a road.  Figuratively it refers to the way of passing life, of living.
    • Short definition: The way of living, the path we take through life.
    • English Translations: way, path, highway, wayfaring man, manner, race, ranks, traveller, troops
    • Frequency – 1
  12. Strong’s Hebrew #2708 -
    • Definition: It refers to things that are established or defined, normally refering to a law of Heaven or of nature.  It can also refer to a right or a priviledge.
    • Short definition: The laws of heaven, which are established and defined.
    • English Translations: statute, ordinance, custom, appointed, manners, rites
    • Frequency – 1
  13. Strong’s Hebrew #4487 -
    • Definition: It is a verb and refers to appointing, allotting, assigning, and preparing.
    • Short definition: God’s allotment and assignment to His people.
    • English Translations: number, prepare, appointed, tell, count, set
    • Frequency – 6

These are just notes to help me study the text.  Obviously, we have to look at the context of each word as it is used to truly understand what the psalmist is saying, but this list provides a starting point.  Once again, I use the Strong’s numbers mainly because I don’t really know Hebrew, and I doubt many of my readers do either.  This just makes communication easier as people can look up these Strong’s words online in any good Bible website.

Psalm 119 reading plan

February 25, 2009 – 9:55 am

Book Chapter Start End Total Verses Verses Per Section Number of Sections
Psalm 119 1 176 176 16 11

This reading plan is loosely based on the Figure 8 system, found http://www.figure8scripturememory.com/.  I have modified it to be more  reasonable for a weekly Bible Study.

Goal:  To know Ps 119 and its concepts backwards and forwards so we can meditate on it day and night.

Hope: That we will memorize the actual words of Ps 119 to aide our daily meditation.

What to do:

  1. Each day of the given week, you will read the verses indicated for that week.
  2. Try to read them at least 8 times a day.  Use the “cells” to keep track of your reading, marking each time you read the passage indicated on the day indicated.
  3. Read the verses no more than once an hour.
  4. List any key words for the passage you are reading on the “Key Words” line for the indicated passage.
  5. List any key themes for the passage you are reading on the “Key Themes” line for the indicated passage.

One Essential:  Pray.  You will never be able to read any passage of scripture using the reading plan above without help from God.

Advice:  Stick it out.  The repetetition can get boring, but stick it out and read with emotion.  That makes it much more interesting for me sometimes, and also helps me worship God as I read it.

The dates below are approximate and each week starts on Wednesday because the Bible Study is on Tuesday.  Obviously if the Bible study was on another day of the week, the start of the week for our reading plan would be different.

<!– BODY,DIV,TABLE,THEAD,TBODY,TFOOT,TR,TH,TD,P { font-family:”Arial”; font-size:x-small } –>

Week Start Verse End Verse Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
1 ( starting 2/25/2009 ) 1 - 16
Key words
Key themes
2 ( starting 3/4/2009 ) 17 - 32
Key words
Key themes
3 ( starting 3/11/2009 ) 33 - 48
Key words
Key themes
4 ( starting 3/18/2009 ) 49 - 64
Key words
Key themes
5 ( starting 3/25/2009 ) 65 - 80
Key words
Key themes
6 ( starting 4/1/2009 ) 81 - 96
Key words
Key themes
7 ( starting 4/8/2009 ) 97 - 112
Key words
Key themes
8 ( starting 4/15/2009 ) 113 - 128
Key words
Key themes
9 ( starting 4/22/2009 ) 129 - 144
Key words
Key themes
10 ( starting 4/29/2009 ) 145 - 160
Key words
Key themes
11 ( starting 5/6/2009 ) 161 - 176
Key words
Key themes

Structure and Purpose

February 25, 2009 – 9:26 am

The purpose of Psalm 119 should be pretty obvious: to praise God for His word. What is less obvious is the structure, mainly because we are reading it in English. It is an acrostic, where the first letter of each verse is a character in the Hebrew alphabet.  Lets look at the first stanza to see what I am talking about.

1 אַשְׁרֵ֥י תְמִֽימֵי־דָ֑רֶךְ הַֽ֝הֹלְכִ֗ים בְּתֹורַ֥ת יְהוָֽה׃
2 אַ֭שְׁרֵי נֹצְרֵ֥י עֵדֹתָ֗יו בְּכָל־לֵ֥ב יִדְרְשֽׁוּהוּ׃
3 אַ֭ף לֹֽא־פָעֲל֣וּ עַוְלָ֑ה בִּדְרָכָ֥יו הָלָֽכוּ׃
4 אַ֭תָּה צִוִּ֥יתָה פִקֻּדֶ֗יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מְאֹֽד׃
5 אַ֭חֲלַי יִכֹּ֥נוּ דְרָכָ֗י לִשְׁמֹ֥ר חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃
6 אָ֥ז לֹא־אֵבֹ֑ושׁ בְּ֝הַבִּיטִ֗י אֶל־כָּל־מִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ׃
7 אֹ֭ודְךָ בְּיֹ֣שֶׁר לֵבָ֑ב בְּ֝לָמְדִ֗י מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י צִדְקֶֽךָ׃
8 אֶת־חֻקֶּ֥יךָ אֶשְׁמֹ֑ר אַֽל־תַּעַזְבֵ֥נִי עַד־מְאֹֽד׃

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia : With Westminster Hebrew Morphology. 1996, c1925; morphology c1991 (electronic ed.) (Ps 119:1-8). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.
This is why most translations begin each stanza with something like “א Aleph”.  This tells us that each verse in that stanza begins with the first character of the Hebrew alphabet ( they read right to left, which is why the text is right justified above ).  So, as we read this, we need to remember that the author organized it that way, probably to help his readers memorize it.
Something else that I think is interesting is that the author seems to jump around between topics.  There is always the main topic of God’s word, of course.  But he seems to jump back and forth between many of these sub-topics.  I hope to see the thread of his thoughts better as I study Psalm 119 this time around.

Preliminary list of essential synonyms for God’s Word

February 10, 2009 – 1:19 am

The major theme of Psalm 119 is God’s Word and love for His Word. Thus, the most important set of words in the psalm are words about God’s Word. Below is a preliminary list of these words. I say “preliminary” not so much because it is incomplete, but because I plan on defining them better. I also give a preliminary count of each word. I have not checked these counts in years, so will be confirming them later. But I feel they give us a good idea of the breadth of terms used. Lastly, I give the Strong’s concordance number, mainly to show that words that look the same in English are different in Hebrew. I figure the Strong’s number is more helpful then the Hebrew, and I am no Hebrew expert in any event.  These words originally came from the NASB, but in the future I will give what the NIV and ESV use to  translate these terms.

  1. law ( 8451 ) – used 25 times
  2. testimonies ( 5713 ) – used 13 times
  3. ways ( 1870 ) – used 3 times
  4. precepts ( 6490 ) – used 19 times
  5. statutes ( 2706 ) – used 19 times
  6. commandments ( 4687 ) – used 15 times
  7. judgments ( 4941 ) – used 20 times
  8. word ( 1497 ) – used 23 times
  9. word ( 565 ) – used 17 times
  10. testimonies ( 5715 ) – used 8 times.
  11. ways ( 734 ) – used 1 time.
  12. statutes ( 2708 ) – used 1 time.
  13. commandments ( 4487 ) – used 6 times.

So, almost all 176 verse have at least one of these words.  My hope is to define each of these words and compare and contrast them, but I wanted to list them out ahead of time so that we can be on the lookout for them as we read and study Psalm 119.

Common Topics/Themes

February 8, 2009 – 10:26 pm

One time when I read Psalm 119 years ago, I marked up my copy of it with different symbols for different topics/themes that I saw as essential to understanding what God is saying. Here are those topics and themes. I believe anyone should pay attention to these themes in Psalm 119 to maximize their time.

  1. Memorization of scripture ( marked with “mem” ) – there are many verses in Psalm 119 that discuss memorizing scripture.  For instance, sometimes the psalmist says that he meditates on God’s word during the night watches.  He would probably do that by knowing God’s word in his heart.
  2. Constant action ( marked with “C” ) – there are many places in Psalm 119 where constant action is encouraged.
  3. Seeking God ( marked with “S” )
  4. Walking in God’s ways ( marked with “W” )
  5. Loving God’s Word ( marked with “LW” )
  6. Understanding God’s word ( marked with “U” ).  This also includes the concept of just general understanding and wisdom for life.
  7. Salvation ( marked with “Sa” ) – Psalm 119 does discuss salvation and the psalmist goes to God for salvation.
  8. Telling others of God and His ways ( marked with a “T” )
  9. Meditating on God’s word ( marked with a “M” )
  10. Heart issue ( marked with “HI” ) – Many times in Psalm 119, the psalmist addresses a heart issue, not just an external issue.
  11. Guidance from God’s Word ( marked with “G” ) – On many occasions, the psalmist seeks guidance from God through His Word.
  12. Praise of God, especially for His word ( marked with “P” ) – This is a really broad category, on purpose, but quite helpful to look at.
  13. Request to God, often for understanding ( marked with a “R” ) – This, also, is quite a broad category, but quite helpful.  For instance, take note of how many times the psalmist asks God to teach him the Word.

I am quite sure there are other themes and topics, but these are the ones that my heart and mind often gravitate towards when I read Psalm 119.

Taken

February 4, 2009 – 12:11 am

I saw this movie tonight and really enjoyed it. It was great to see a father strive to reconnect with his daughter.  It was great to see him do everything he could to protect his daughter. People can say he was overprotective, but he ended up being right and knowing what was best for her.

The good:

  1. The main character ( Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills ) is trying to reconnect with his daughter, to make up for lost time.  His job with the CIA took him away from his family and ruined his marriage, so he is  trying to get to know his daughter.  He gives up a lot to do this, which is a great lesson.  Granted, you could argue that he should have spent more time with his family, BUT you can see that even when he was away, he was highly devoted to his daughter.
  2. The importance of family.
  3. The main character defends those in need, like a young lady sold into prostitution.  OK, admittedly, he does this in an effort to get information about his daughter, but he does show care for this young lady.
  4. The selling of women is portrayed as wrong, as evil.
  5. The daughter genuinely loves her father.
  6. Bryan Mills does anything to save his daughter, and I mean anything.

The bad:

  1. Girl lies to her father, and her mother lies to him as well.
  2. I admit that it seems he was a rather absent father, but his ex-wife and her husband seem to take him for granted.  I mean, at the end the step-father thanks the father for saving his own daughter, promising him anything he needs.  That just struck me as offensive.  I know the step-father cares for her, but did he really think her father did it for any other reason then a deep love for his daughter?

Well, that is enough for now.  Go here for a more thorough review.