Friday, April 29, 2005

Back with updates.

I'm back. Stress knocked my energy level way down, and I just couldn't find the energy to post.

One challenge has been a work related. I'm in a technical field, but the recent demands have been more for adminstrative than technical effort. My difficulty is that I'm not good at administrative stuff, and I'd frequently come home weary from filling out forms, and missing the satisfaction that the technical work frequently gives. What's more, the stakes have been raised, and people are now getting disciplined for mistakes that used to be tolerated. The stress this generated was very tiring.

Another more pleasant but still taxing effort has been putting our house up for sale and looking for a new place. The market is amazingly hot right now, and our home has hugely appreciated over the seven years we've lived there, so things look pretty good for sellers. Homes are getting snapped up almost as fast as they hit the market, so there are no houses for sale near us. After doing a lot of cleanup and some minor repair (which should have been done years ago in some cases), we put the place on the market, and within less than a week had two offers at our asking price. Right now we're in escrow with one of the buyers, having asked the other to stand by as a backup just in case.

But what helps us as a seller makes it harder as a buyer. Our first bid we made was $25,000 over asking price on a beautiful house that attracted seven other bids after being on the market less than a week. We ended up being #2 due to the contingency of the sale of our house despite the fact that we had two offers on the place. The next house we looked sold after less than two days on the market. So we have started looking at less desirable places that can meet our needs without attracting such a bidding storm.

One of the main contributors to the tremendous speed of the market is the Internet, which allows the news about a new home on the market to get to interested people with great speed. But we've realized that we cannot allow ourselves to be dragged along at such a breakneck speed because we will be totally overwhelmed by the effort needed to keep up with all the options. Instead we pray, believing that God can and will keep track of all the offers out there, that He will keep for us the home that He wants for us, and that if we simply do our best to follow His lead that He will keep us from missing the place He has for us.

This conviction has played out in some interesting ways during our search. When we first visited the house on which we made our first offer, I was immediately attracted by its beauty, but at the same time I had this inner feeling of uncertainty and darkness that I couldn't account for. Knowing my proclivity to depression, I thought that I could simply be overreacting to the stress of all the real-estate transactions we were involved in, so we went ahead and made our offer on the place. But during the following few days the darkness deepened, to the point when one day as I was driving home I was crying out to God not to let us buy the place if it wasn't what He wanted for us. So it was with a sense almost of relief that I learned that night from our realtor, a sweet woman and longtime friend, that our offer hadn't been accepted. I ended up comforting her, for she was very disappointed, and not the other way around.

This sense of God's guidance has continued to keep us through a number of other bumps in the process. We are confident that we'll our place will ultimately sell at the right time to the right people for the right amount, and that we'll be able to get into the right home when we need to for a price we'll be able to afford. So as places come and go on the market, we don't feel driven to check every one of them out, and don't fret as much if others get there first. It's not stress free, that's for sure, but I'm much more relaxed than I would be on my own. Hopefully I'll be relaxed enough during the process to have enough energy to post here on a more regular basis than I've done in the past.

God bless!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How evil can grow in society

Here's an incredibly insightful account of one man's experience of the growth of evil in society. His experience is in England, but it's not so far from us that we couldn't learn a lot.

Thanks to Belmont Club (this is the backup site) for the pointer.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Good news for Mae Magourik (and us).

Dawn Eden reports good news for Mae Magourik. The battle for her life is not over yet, but at least some sense is being heard on the issues. Pray for the stamina of those fighting to defend her; it is so easy to grow tired in these struggles, and so wrong to give up. As Paul urges us, "do not grow weary of doing good." (1 Thess 3:13)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Another Terri Schiavo - despite a Living Will

If you thought that a Living Will would resolve the issues that made Terri Schiavo's case so painful, you may be wrong. Here is a situation where the Living Will has been made and would appear to guarantee food and water, and yet a woman is being starved and dehydrated...

Spread the word - perhaps Mae Margourik can yet be saved.

It is terrifying how easy it is becoming to kill of the weak among us.

Thanks to Dawn Eden for raising the red flag.

Another Terri Schiavo - but worse

If you thought that a Living Will would resolve the issues that made Terri Schiavo's case so painful, you may be wrong. Here is a situation where the Living Will has been made and would appear to guarantee food and water, and yet a woman is being starved and dehydrated...

Spread the word - perhaps Mae Margourik can yet be saved.

It is terrifying how easy it is becoming to kill of the weak among us.

Thanks to Dawn Eden for raising the red flag.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The weekly Bible study - question on the wisdom of God.

We weren't big enough for a regular weekly Bible study last week, but I was asked an interesting question about 1 Corinthians 3:20. If "the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise are futile," then what happens to our prayers for wisdom? Why ask for what is futile?

The distinction we need to make here is between the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God. In the previous verse, it says that God "catches the wise in their craftiness." Craftiness is a good term for human wisdom, for its goal is to circumvent the healthy limits of human life to gain some particular power or prestige. The crafty person manipulates situations for his own good rather than working within the situations to achieve God's intended good. Now God cannot be manipulated, so he catches the crafty, those who are humanly wise, and reveals the futility of their scheming.

The wisdom of God, however, seeks to accomplish God's purposes within the situations he has given us. It starts not with a desire for self aggrandizement but with a deep concern for God's character and purposes, described in the book of Proverbs as "the fear of the Lord," which, we are told, is the beginning of wisdom. This kind of wisdom looks at things not from the perspective of how they can make us happy (as Eve looked at the fruit of the tree in Eden), but how they can satisfy God. One person looks at a jar of perfume and sees how it can satisfy God by being poured out in love on Jesus' feet, another sees it as a vehicle for gaining some spiritual brownie points by selling it and giving to the poor (while perhaps taking a cut off of the proceeds for himself - John 12:1-6).

So if we pray for wisdom, God will not hear us if we are only asking for better skill at manipulating situations for our own benefit. However, if we are asking God to help us to see things better from His perspective so that we can better accomplish His purposes, we can expect Him to honor His own promise to give abundantly to those who ask for wisdom (James 1:5). By giving us this kind of wisdom, God equips us to do what He most wants done, so we should ask eagerly and then spend freely of what He gives for His glory.

What people really think about Terri Schiavo's death

A number of polls taken regarding Terri Schiavo's death seemed to indicate that the majority of Americans thought that forcibly removing her feeding tube was the right thing to do. But it's important to be careful about interpreting polls. Here's a poll that tells a different story. The most revealing question:
If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water.
When they actually knew what Terri's situation was and were asked directly what to do about it, 79% of the people surveyed said "no" such a person should not be denied food and water, while only 9% said "yes." That's the message our government needed to hear and respond to.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II has gone home to glory.

Here is a remarkable eulogy for a remarkable man, truly a giant of our times.

Thanks to Touchstone for the link.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Pope John Paul II is dying

Or perhaps he has died by now. As many people have noticed, it is a remarkable concurrence of events to see him moving towards death as Terri Schiavo was being forced in the same direction, and that in the shadow of Easter. God speaks to us in these times and helps us to see what we would have missed otherwise. As Pope John Paul said, we live in a culture of death, which seeks to conceal human weakness and frailty by killing those who can be killed and packing the rest off to nursing homes where they can safely be ignored until they obligingly die or reach a point where we can kill them off. But the Pope would not go that way, and the Schindlers did not allow their daughter go that way either. National Review Online has a beautiful article on what we can learn from the Pope's public silence.

The question is unmistakably before us; will we learn to see the value of those who are frail and cannot defend themselves, or will we find new ways to "mercifully" get rid of them? California is presently considering a law legalizing euthanasia. Some may consider this an improvement on the starvation and dehydration that Terri Schiavo endured, but wouldn't food have been a better option than murder? Joni Ericson Tada has been wearing herself out these days on behalf of those who cannot feed themselves on their own; she is a quadraplegic and cannot feed herself on her own either. If euthanasia becomes acceptable, how long will it be before the government decides that it is better to mercifully get rid of people like her than to allow them to continue to live?