Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alpha and omega... or at least delta or sigma or something?

I've been reading the book of Genesis lately, and I came across chapter 40, wherein Joseph interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh's imprisoned cupbearer and baker... and I thought, wow! Did Joseph just predict the death and resurrection of Christ? It seems a bit of a stretch, but there is the reference to bread and wine (baker and cupbearer), just as at the Last Supper, and the baker (remember, bread = body, according to Jesus) winds up being hanged, while the cupbearer (wine = blood, spirit) is released from prison three days after his dream is interpreted! That sounds an awful lot like a prediction of Jesus suffering bodily and spiritually, only to return in 3 days to vindicate humanity...

Wow... all the way back in Genesis... almost 1900 years before Christ... That is pretty darn amazing! Makes me wonder what other "historical coincidences" will turn out to actually mean something in the end... Or maybe I'm way off base here... John MacArthur and all those Bible scholars who write biblical commentary seem to catch and explain just about every sort of coincidence possible; how could I have possibly caught something new? I'm sure someone's thought of this connection before... hmm, my friend was telling me the other day how I'm one of those people who tries to see things from every possible angle, and that while it causes me great anxiety at times, it really is a gift from God... maybe I should be a Bible scholar myself! It would take some intense studying though... hmm... would have to learn Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek... would definitely be rewarding though! Many people have achieved the "impossible" with help from God... the pastor at my church was saying the other week how he never thought he'd be able to stand up and speak in front of people back when he was in college!

But to avoid getting too grandiose here, I think I'd better keep doing what I can at the moment, and only plan ahead a LITTLE bit, just enough to remind myself that life does have meaning after all...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Insert Douglas Adams Quote Here

It occurred to me the other day... God could have created a really small Earth, consisting of nothing more than the Garden of Eden and some nice scenery to look at, or maybe a square block a few hundred miles on a side for people to settle over a few centuries - but isn't it a testament to the wondrous generosity of God that he didn't only create that, but also created the Earth as big as it is, that it took millennia to explore? And not only that, but there's space out there too... which is vastly bigger than the Earth... Isn't God amazing?

Sometimes I also think about whether there are aliens out there in space... I used to think that there were lots of aliens out there, like in Star Trek, only with more variety than could be shown on a sci-fi show with a limited budget. But (this has been debated by philosophers many times over I'm sure) if there ARE aliens out there, then are they made in God's image? And do they need divine grace? And if not, why not? So I've come to the conclusion (for the time being, barring any further evidence) that if aliens do exist, they are probably one and the same as "angels" as described in the Bible - beings of unimaginable splendor which cannot be put into words, created by God for some unknown reason (at least I don't know, maybe someone else does?) and with a limited degree of free will (Satan was capable of rebellion, of course, but the rest of the angels seem to be rather subservient to God - is this their intrinsic nature, or is it a choice they make, made obvious due to superhuman wisdom?) and not needing (or perhaps not capable of responding to?) divine grace.

Speaking of aliens, I saw in my neighborhood a statue on someone's doorstep of a beady-eyed green alien holding a globe, and that got me thinking... The true appearance of God is supposed to be so awesome that only on rare occasions can someone see him face-to-face and not die of shock, right? Such as the ancient Jewish high priests having to go through elaborate rituals in order to enter the Holy of Holies, and even then only once a year? And in the book of Revelation, where Jesus appeared to have a sword (yes, a SWORD) dangling from his mouth? Well, what if that's because the "true appearance" of God is something that human beings would find repulsive? And speaking of frightening, vaguely human-shaped creatures with power over the whole world and things dangling from their mouths, what about Cthulhu??? Could it be??? Nah, that's about as silly as comparing the pope to Emperor Palapatine just because they have both been seen to make the same facial expressions at certain points in time - just an eerie coincidence! Maybe, though, the appearance of God changes depending on who is looking? Such that those who believe in him in a mature manner see him as a comforting heavenly father, while those who might be less mature in their beliefs see him as a harsh taskmaster, and those who completely oppose him see him as something even worse? I suppose it's possible... or maybe I'm thinking too much of this Japanese RPG I never got all the way through, where there's this church which worships this god (by the name of Zehaal... wonder if there's any significance to that name?), and opposing the church are these witches with various natural powers, and the witches claim that Zehaal is attempting to destroy the world... never did get to the end of the story though, and I'm not sure I ever will... besides the fact that I hardly ever finish anything I start and drop for a while, and the fact that the game was getting kind of annoying (ok, WHICH crystalline platemail was that again in my inventory? the one that's enchanted with +5 vs. fire, or +2 vs. darkness? oh, I have to check EVERY LAST ONE to find out!), I seem to recall the plot going in the direction of "OK everybody, we've got to stop Zehaal from destroying the world!"... and unless the plot has any more surprising twists, I kinda expect the final confrontation to be with the creator of the world, and I'd really rather not have to kill him, even in a fantasy game, you know?

Well, that's enough for now... hope someone's reading! ;)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First post... OMG I am so nervous!

So I suppose if you're reading this you have made it through the seemingly non-sequitorial (is that even a word?) title... well, since you were that brave, I will explain for you!

This blog is basically a writing outlet for me to put my thoughts on paper (well, virtual paper at least), because God made people to be part of a community and interact with each other, but I'm so inept at oral communication sometimes that it's a hindrance to me - but me is to be writez good! ;)

So first off, let me explain the title.

Why is this blog "of Divine Grace"? Well, that's because as the cliched song goes, "twas grace that got me safe thus far and grace will bring me home" - I'm a Christian; though I left the Catholic church for a while as a young adult, I came back (though not to the Catholic denomination) through some seemingly miraculous (well, at least it seems that way to me!) turn of events which perhaps I'll explain in another post, or in the comments should someone care to ask.

But "+9 to Save vs. Demons"? What?! Isn't that from D&D? Isn't that "Satan's game, which whether you like it or not is initiating your children into the bowels of the OCCULT, and deeper and deeper into the ranks of EL DIABLO"?

Well, OK, I'm not much of a D&D fan lately, but I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, etc. lately... just picked up Chrono Trigger for the DS... definitely a classic! Not to mention "roguelikes" (Angband, Dungeon Crawl, etc.) So I am a gamer most definitely! Yes, it is possible to be a Christian and a gamer... yes, games are a temptation, but everything in moderation... the Bible doesn't say to NEVER drink alcohol, it just says not to get drunk on it and make a fool of yourself! And if you can't control yourself, THEN you shouldn't be drinking it at all, but that's another matter. Bottom line, pretending to cast "Blizzaga" at the darkness is OK... actually thinking it will have any EFFECT outside of your game is not!

And the third point I wanted to make regarding the title is simply that the juxtaposition of gravity and levity (whew, try saying that three times fast!) indicates my style of humor... *wonders if Sam is reading but forgets if he ever actually TOLD him the joke about the kiwi smoothies that he'd get a subtle reference slipped in*... ;) Oh, there was the one about "we know there are forests (and brothels) in Poland because..."(*) but I kinda stole that one (well, the forests part at least) from the roguelike wiki...

(*) No Poles were insulted in the making of this joke! Honest! Heck, my dad's side of the family is Polish... *gets pelted with rotten kielbasa*

SOOOO... why did I want to post this blog in the first place? Well, simply put, it was another incident of "amazing grace"... I was on the way from "home church" (if you don't know what that is, it's basically a Bible study / social gathering held at someone's house) and I was discussing with my friend (the one I met in such an amazing way who helped me come back to communion with God) the topic of assisted suicide, on which we held opposing viewpoints - his view being that assisted suicide is morally reprehensible and should be treated as murder, my view being that it is merely a means to end unreasonable suffering, and that (hey, why not?) if the whole "but doctors can take ADVANTAGE of people" argument is proposed (as my friend did), well, why not require assisted suicides to take place with a certain number of witnesses... say 2 or 3 as prescribed in the Bible for testimony? Sounds crazy I know... but if that's not enough (craziness OR witnesses), why not require the suicides to be publicly televised or posted on Youtube or something? Then there will be NO doubt of any malfeasance on the doctor's part - talk about the ultimate jury of peers!

Then on the way home as we discussed this, I came to the conclusion that if I have such a reckless disregard for human life, maybe I am the next Nero, the next Hitler, the next bin Laden... the Antichrist! I'd wondered about that before - would the Antichrist KNOW that he is the Antichrist? And if so, would he FEAR being thrown into the pit of fire as I then did? Why would God allow this to happen? If God can forgive all sins, why can't he forgive the Antichrist's? Why is there one person who is SO sinful that even God can't forgive him? And COULD I BE THE ONE???

But my friend reminded me that I CANNOT be the one... since those who seek truth/God will find it/Him. And I definitely seek truth and God, though I have not always been that way, so clearly "the one" will be someone who has complete disdain for truth and God throughout his entire life. Who that might be I don't know - I have my theories, but I'd best not share them here... suffice it to say if I did I would likely receive death threats from, well, the sort of unpleasant people who send death threats to bloggers who don't know what they're talking about!

So, yeah, if there even IS someone so evil that God can't have compassion on him (perhaps God WILL? but only after time in the pit of fire? I'll have to reread that passage to see if the fire is truly eternal...) then that person would DEFINITELY be beyond the limits of HUMAN compassion, since God is infinitely more compassionate than any human being. So I don't have to worry about feeling sorry for that guy, whoever he might be, because I won't be capable of it!

Oh, and what I was TRYING to say about grace here is, what was the subject of this teaching tonight about? It was about doubt! And I was pretty comfortable throughout the entire teaching... I didn't feel like there were any significant areas of doubt in my faith at the moment. Then all of a sudden I get into this discussion on suicide and WHAM it hits me like a ton of bricks! Doubt everywhere! But all this was just a reminder from God: "Hey Ed, you might THINK you're in control here... but you're not. I'M in control. And remember that saying you brought up at home church - 'God won't throw anything at you that you can't handle'! See, you handled that! Now your faith is stronger because of it, just like when I tested Abraham or Job or Paul. Who knows, maybe someday you'll make a big difference in people's lives like they did... Just trust me and we'll go someplace good together!"

So thanks, God, for that lesson... and thanks to anyone who took the time to read this! May you be blessed with the gifts of the Spirit, may your joys be plenty, and may your sufferings be not in vain!