Monday, September 27, 2010

Dont buy a TomTom GPS. Tax cheats.

They are trying to evade US taxes. So they send emails offering $30 off TomTom XXL550. I purchased it for $176 and found additional charges. They did not tell me that it is a foreign currency transaction. It was listed in US dollars. My credit card company has charged me an additional $5.30 as foreign currency fees.

They have billed it to their Netherlands office even though they are registered in Massachusetts.

I want to return the product for a full refund but they make it impossible to do so. If the package has been opened, they charge 15% restocking.

I have complained to the Federal Trade Commission - they are doing this to evade US taxes. This is cheating.

I want everyone to be aware of their illegal actions.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pastor-driven churches are an Old Testament model.

In my 15 years in America, I have been a regular attender at 4 churches, of different denominations, all of them pastor-driven. I have also visited a further 8-10 churches.
It seems to me an Old Testament model, where the pastor is like Moses (or David), the praise and worship team is like Miriam.
The congregation is only expected to tithe and volunteer (serve). This is because the anointing was only on the chosen few.
So in the Old Testament, the leader was the go-between between man and God.
However in the New Testament, we are all anointed because we all have the Holy Spirit.
We are all priests. (numerous passages).
We are Living Stones in the Temple. (1 Peter 2:5).
It is participatory. "What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. " 1 Corinthians 14:26
We are the Body of Christ. (numerous passages).
Yet, in our services, there is such tight control. It is exactly like the Old Testament.
The congregation is only expected to tithe and volunteer (serve), to sing in praise and worship, and make up the numbers.
Where there is tight control, there is also manipulation - for money and power.
Only one person teaches. The elders seem like titular figureheads.
The body of Christ is like a teenager - constantly attending classes and stuck between baby and adulthood.
Gifts are not exercised.
When I asked a visiting leader (and pastor) about this situation, I have been told that it is in the small group that one exercises one's gifts.
However this seems like putting your child in the sandbox (or the family room) where he can safely get dirty, make noise, without disturbing the adults in the living room (main sanctuary).
The leader also told me that this was to ensure decency and order as in 1 Corinthians 14. However, this goal of orderliness can still be achieved in a participatory congregation.
A pastor-driven church does not reflect the New Testament model of the body of Christ.
Pastor-driven churches gradually become pastor-centered and from then on, degenerate into corruption and abuse.
The Reformation fought to remove the Papacy with its abuses and wrong model. However, this itself seems like a new papacy.
Is this tight control reducing the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking says, "God did not create the universe"

News report:
God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.
In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
So do the laws of Physics exist independently of and outside the Universe? and where did these laws come from? I wonder if anyone will ask him.

Why did Jesus use spit to heal a blind man?

In all societies, human spittle is disgusting, contaminated and germ-laden. Spitting on someone is a grave insult and shows that you consider him despicable. When someone is spat upon you can be assured that he will become very angry.

John 9:1-7
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
 6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

I have heard some strange theological explanations: that it was a symbolism of the creation time in Genesis, that it was a medicinal (huh?) poultice.

For a clue to the answer, have you wondered why he insulted this Samaritan woman who asked him to heal her son?

Matthew 15:21-28
21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."
 23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
 24He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
 25The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
 26He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
 27"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
 28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
A dog in eastern cultures is despised and unclean. So why did Jesus insult her?
The answer is simple: Jesus was asking every one of them,

"Are you willing to give up your dignity in exchange for a miracle?"

Notice that they had a choice to feel insulted and leave, or to remain, press closer and obey. This is also seen in an Old Testament healing where the prophet Elisha asks Namaan the general of Syria who had leprosy to wash in the lowly, muddy Jordan river - not once, but seven times. Again the question:

"Are you willing to give up your dignity in exchange for a miracle?"

Finally, Jesus himself was faced with that question.

"Are you willing to give up your dignity in exchange for a miracle?"

Jesus was spat upon, beaten, mocked, insulted, whipped, and crucified. His final dignity was removed when he hung naked on the cross. He did this in exchange for the miracle of salvation for you, and for me.

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