Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Month: February 2012


Even the Demons Believe – And Shudder

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19 ESV) As R.C. Sproul has said, “Faith isn’t believing IN God, faith is believing God” (paraphrase). Faith is believing what God has said and done in history, written in Scripture for our salvation. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV) In true, real faith, there is an assured, hopeful, anticipatory rest in the promises of God. And this faith is a God-wrought work. A faith of our own making will not last, because you struggle in your own power to maintain your conviction. This cannot stand in the wake of the world’s belief systems. You need God to give you new life, to be born again, in which He grants this very divine faith that is of God, not yourself.

Ultimately, the promises of God have been fulfilled in history and will be brought to completion in the completed, finished work of Christ at His return; His perfect life lived, His perfect sacrificial death for us, and His resurrection, all for His glory and the salvation of His people. We wait, in faith, for His Day when He returns to consumate His Kingdom and bring judgment on His enemies. He is the King of kings, the Master of masters, who fulfills all in all. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 ESV) What a joy and hope of salvation! And He imparts the faith necessary to be saved, the faith that holds these promises in assured hope. He receives all the glory and His people get to participate in His glory for all eternity!

AT&T Re-Blocking Outgoing Email Port 25 for Uverse Customers?

(FYI: When I first had Uverse setup, they allowed me to open SMTP port 25. This problem started when it was inadvertently blocked again recently. Long story short, there were other reports of this happening. Below is the process of trying to get it unblocked again.)

I have come to the realization tonight that my mail server has not been sending out emails since February 17th. I hopped on AT&T’s Uverse chat support and was informed (after connecting to a second tech for a possible different answer because, you know, not all techs know the same things) that AT&T is now blocking outbound SMTP port 25 for Uverse customers. I initially had the port opened on my account to allow outbound email for my mail server. But it doesn’t work now as of February 17. And if you want to have this port opened now, you must contact their Connectech team to unblock it. The number, as of now, is 1-866-294-3464, or you can apparently connect with their chat service here: https://chatnow.att.com/. If you send me an email directly right now, I’ll try to respond another way in the mean time.

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UPDATE 1: Okay this is rich. So I contacted Connectech via the chat app (which is an exe download, similar to TeamViewer), chatted with the tech about the problem and was asked if I had purchased a support plan. I said, no, I just need my port 25 opened again. He said, I can’t help you unless you have a package purchased (paraphrasing all of the aforementioned).

So let me get this straight: I already pay AT&T Uverse a larger amount of money for their technology (okay fine, whatever) than the other guys. I pay for support too when I have a problem, support that comes with my service. AT&T decides to block outbound port 25. To get it open, I can’t just call the regular support anymore. I have to call their outsourced “professional techs” to flip a switch. And in the process, at least pay them $20 more a month. You’ve gotta be kidding me? This is a new low for AT&T customer service. Ever heard of corporate communism? With their level of bureaucracy, red tape and hoops to jump through to get something done, for the one’s they’re supposed to be servicing, I can’t think of a better term. Or how about inefficiency?

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UPDATE 2: So after having blogged and tweeted this issue, I have received two responses from AT&T techs saying they can help. They asked me to direct message them on Twitter now with my account information. And although they are still tweeting others with issues, they will not respond. I don’t get it. Still waiting though …

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UPDATE 3: A social media guy (Mike A) from AT&T contacted me directly about the issue and is getting the ball rolling. Appreciate it!

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UPDATE 4: After receiving a call, I have yet to hear anything about a possible resolution or whether it is even still being looked at. I’ve called twice, left messages, with no response. Benefit of the doubt: could be very busy.

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UPDATE 5: Received a call from Mike A a little while ago at the social media team at AT&T and they let me know they have resolved the problem, port 25 is not being blocked anymore. There were apparently other reports of this happening and they are handling it on a case by case basis. Appreciate the help, Mike A, at @ATTTeamNatasha!

 

The Ratcheting Up of Anti-Christian, Vitriolic Rhetoric Toward Christians

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13 ESV)

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)

This is something I’ve been noticing as of late (at least from what I’ve personally been reading and seeing on a national and personal level, meaning it may not be what’s going on in the totality of things): that the sustained clamor of secular, anti-Christian, vitriolic chatter is kicking up a notch in terms of the audacity and indecency of it, publicly and in private conversations, among friends I have in the social networking world, even among supposed Christians oddly enough sometimes. The cynical bashing (not just criticizing) of Christians by (sometimes alleged) Christians for holding steady to the faith in practice seems striking to me and at odds with John’s doctrine of love for our brothers expounded upon in 1 John.

From the Nicki Minaj spectacle at the Grammy’s (and the subsequent lack of outrage), to personal conversations I’ve had, to the increasing level of hatred generally toward Christian notions and doctrines informing life at any level, whether in op-eds, interviews on the news, everywhere almost: Christianity is becoming a less tolerated belief system that informs public policy and of course morals.

I had an atheist friend who said recently in our chatting, quite chillingly (since he really meant it), that in the next several decades, Christianity will simply become “obsolete” and go the way of the Dodo bird. Now 1) some may just merely dismiss this as mere chatter and 2) I certainly know that Christ will build His church despite the odds and even through persecution.

But nevertheless, it’s statements like that which kind of put you back on your heals a bit, because it wasn’t just loose talk as a result of defending his atheism. This is something he really believes.  The implication coming from him is that Christianity is so backward and narrow that it can’t possibly survive in the wake of science and human progress. In the course of the conversation, how and why it came up is what gives it the context too.

All of this to say: we’re not moving toward a post-Christian era, we’re in it. He’s not alone in his thought on this. I have quite a few other friends, from high school and whatnot, who think exactly the same thing. And it’s quickly turning from just (truly) tolerating Christians to opposing them actively it seems.

I’ve been recently disturbed by some of this because the slide seems to be accelerating. I’m not surprised, but in my human frailty, it is slightly fearful. And for the record, no, I’m not referring in any sense to Elephant Room 2, though that was certainly instructive to be sure and possibly correlative. That’s another discussion though.

I guess all of this is not that much different (in principle, notice) than the hatred experienced by Zechariah from his own people (Israel), who was then murdered by the same in a climax of fury. The Old and New Testaments are always instructive for present times, especially when it comes to persecution at all the varying levels, shapes and forms it takes.

What I’m curious to see is how “missional-ism, and [what I’m calling] Seeker 2.0, that is the merging of the two methodologies of seeker-ism and missional-ism” (broadly speaking, not necessarily the better examples and parts producing lasting fruit) and all this talk of “relevance” and “attraction” pans out in the face of rising persecution and deals with subordination by a culture bent on removing us from the public square, at least at first.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how trendy we are toward culture, in staying “up with the times”: if you support certain hot button issues (and believe me, a time is coming when you won’t be able to hide it), or claim Christ alone for salvation, or attempt to evangelize in any sense, that’s all outsiders are going to see and hear. That’s not to say Christians should be culturally irrelevant. I’m just making that point that it doesn’t matter whether you’re into Radiohead, organic food or whatever when it comes to persecution of a belief system. Someone coming from an ingrained secular humanist mindset could care less about your subjective tastes. I’m just not sure many of us Christians (actual and especially nominal) are prepared for the secular onslaught.

Thoughts? Am I just paranoid? Or do others see a dark cloud approaching in terms of where society is moving? I’d be curious to hear what others think on this, agree, disagree, whatever.

Eco-Fascist Dystopia

Whereas the authors of these videos paint the scenes as the ultimate utopia of sustainability and green living (minus Sprawl-ville which paints what will happen if we don’t move to sustainability), the reality to me is one more of dystopia. Global centrally planned food, government, told where you can and can’t go, certain amount of calories one can use in a day. These would be funny and ridiculous if there weren’t actual plans in the works to convert major cities throughout the world into some along these lines. Those plans go under the United Nations name Agenda 21. These videos try to paint a nice face on that while creating fear if we don’t. For me they’re just chilling.

And last of all, if you don’t know what Agenda 21 is, here is a quick run-down; otherwise, read it for yourself:

Carl Trueman on the Nature of ‘Celebrity’ and the Church

Carl Trueman has posted some very insightful thoughts on the nature of ‘celebrity’ in culture generally and its impact on the church specifically. He had a good bit of push back while making many good points. I’ve included Thabiti Anyabwile’s push back. As I find them I am posting them here for future reference since this is a very fascinating subject. This has made me consider the many ways in which I fall victim to this thinking at present and affects my argumentation (i.e. appeal to authority, that is, whoever is a well-known voice rather than arguing it on its own terms). This is an important subject in relation to the church, because the craving for being known and accepted by the larger world is strong. The onslaught of ‘celebrity’ has engulfed evangelicalism to a great degree to where we rely now on lesser popes and personalities instead of the ordinary means of the local church for transformation: the word preached, prayer and the sacraments.

Precursor article:

Series of articles that got it rolling:
Seperate from the stream above but related:
A case-in-point and response to Mark Driscoll over his comments to a UK radio talk show host ( < don’t endorse the aforementioned site, BTW, just had a few good illustrations about how not to engage someone and the ensuing response in the interview and on the blog itself):
More case-in-points related to the Elephant Room 2 debacle:

T4G Conference Panel:

Things That Make You Go, “Ouch”

It started with a friend calling me out on being too wrapped up in the whole ER2 thing, seeing as how I’m on the sidelines anyway (my own observation). Point taken, though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly put off for a while, in my pride. Then along came an article that drove it home for me a bit more, heard through Nathan W. Bingham.

Joe Holland writing at Ligonier makes some great points.

I would offer one qualification though (in my theological superiority, kidding :)): Jesus is God, had a specific mission, separate and distinct from ours, and could see everything in people’s hearts. We can’t. He was bringing and effecting redemption itself or bringing hardness. We can’t do either of these, other than resting upon what the Spirit does through our actions. For Jesus, there was no need to debate. He told the truth, in such terms as, “Verily I say unto you.” He didn’t “reason” with people, He just told them what they personally needed to hear to either be saved or turn away. And it was always right. It is He who had the words that brought life or condemnation. Certainly his silence does speak louder than words at times. Other times it didn’t. His words speak for themselves, coming from the great I AM become man. The times He is silent, the message is, “What more could He possibly say or do?” He is who He is, and they killed Him for it.

Certainly Jesus should be emulated in action, no doubt, in terms of His approach and words to people. However, for Jesus, He is the Savior whereas we are the saved and proclaiming Him, fallibly, as Savior to people. In distinction, just to show the difference, Paul “reasoned” with those in the Synagogues, on Mars Hill, and so on. He debated, he pursued people in tearing down their idols and offering Christ. At times this meant publicly rebuking, though certainly not to the excess we’ve seen on the “interwebs” as of late. He was called all kinds of things as a result of his pursuits in discourse.

Regardless, Joe Holland’s points are good albeit painful since I’m all too prone to excess and obsession when it comes to either controversy or theological discourse. If there is one thing I need more of in my life, it’s balance and humility.

Debate: Dr. James White versus Dr. David Bernard, Trinity versus Oneness

In this radio debate, Dr. James White (Trinity) and Dr. David Bernard (Oneness) debate whether the trinity is a biblical doctrine or not. Good stuff:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Mr. Bond Market Himself Endorses “Ron Paul-ish” – Zero Hedge

“I’m Bill Gross And I Endorse Ron Paul For President”

Well well well, looky there who supports Ron Paul fellers: Bill Gross, Mr. bond market himself, CNBC’s mainstream goto man for all things related to the treasury market … I wonder if he’s a conspiracy theorist too 🙂 So let me get this straight: we have former CIA officers, one of which who worked for Reagan and briefed him daily on intelligence matters, a former DIA officer (Able Danger anyone? Look it up), former CIA chief over the BIN LADEN unit in Afghanistan (you heard me), scores of military personnel giving campaign contributions adding up to more than any other candidate combined, nationally renowned law scholar Jonathan Turley giving hints on C-SPAN and elsewhere (if not right out endorsement, haven’t searched for one) … and scores of other high profile individuals who support Ron Paul.

What am I missing here when people call him “kooky” or “loony” or “old man conspiracy theorist?” Yes, I realize some of his ideas are not tenable or, if we’re honest, even possible in terms of support. But as with theology debates, those are secondary issues, if you get my drift. The guy supports freedom more than anyone, something under assault in our day, he’s a true conservative (not a neo-conservative, there is a difference), something none of the other candidates seem concerned about, and he’s pro-life. Yes, he has a different way of going about addressing that, but his pro-life stance is clear.

I just don’t get it. The fear-mongering over Iran is an exact mirror of the Iraq situation, in which we now have Colin Powell saying if we knew they didn’t have WMD’s we wouldn’t have gone in. The intelligence was skewed, either intentionally (many people’s contention, mirroring what we now know about the CIA in the 1970’s and intelligence related to the USSR in terms of their capabilities) or by pure negligence. But I digress.

It’s unfortunate the Romney’s, Gingrich’s and the Fox News’s have essentially hijacked any chance this great man might have had. If Bill Gross endorses Paul, the writing is on the wall in terms of what he thinks of the US debt situation. We’re in deep … well, debt. A debt-to-GDP ratio of over 100% must have pushed him over the edge.

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