Russell and Duenes

Archive for January 2015

They Had No Word Processors

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“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” These have been some of the most comforting and sustaining words in all of Scripture for me. As John Piper remarks, Jesus promises us grace for whatever comes at us today,  and only today. Yet we can also have confidence that the grace we will need for tomorrow will show up tomorrow, which will then be “today.” I have loved these words because they keep me from thinking too much about all of the supposedly “big things” that can tend to haunt and torment my soul. Trusting Jesus for the day seems so much more doable than trying to think about what my faith is going to look like on into the future.

I am continually amazed at the things that Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and others of their generation accomplished, given that they had no computers or other so-called labor-saving devices. They did not have the “access to information” that we have. I have sat around with attorneys and wondered how lawyers in the pre-computer age were able to do all the things we do today. I simply cannot imagine doing my work without word processing capability and computer-based research. Yet these men of the past wrote extensively, kept up tremendous personal correspondences, managed estates, commanded armies and engaged in wide-ranging political and administrative activities. All without our vast technological apparatus. Yes, most of them had slaves to help manage their domestic affairs, but those affairs still had to be supervised and administrated. It’s incredible, and doubtless there is a lesson here about diligence, discipline and using one’s time well. It also puts the lie to the notion that we need computers to help us learn well. We are “busy” in today’s world, but in our busy-ness, we do not accomplish even a fraction of what these men of old accomplished.

And now, from the Office of Ridiculous and Unnecessary Government Meddling (ORUGM), the City of Seattle has decided that its residents must never put food waste into their garbage cans. Instead, the food must be separated out into compost bins, (along with all of the other things I imagine must be separated out, as I had to do when I lived in Berkeley, CA). The city will then haul away your compost, for a fee, of course. If you don’t obey, your garbage can will be tagged with a red tag. As The Week puts it, “those who put food in their garbage are being shamed by having their bins affixed with a bright red tag visible to the neighbors.” And according to NPR, residents who fail to comply will start incurring fines come July of this year. This is another example of a bogus law that imposes on the average person the ever-increasing burden of feel-good, leftist, do-goodism. It’s preposterous, to say the least; and I can tell you what I would be doing if I lived in Seattle. I’d be making up bright red signs for my garbage can to announce to all my neighbors what I think about such a stupid law. I would do the city one better than their red tags; I would proudly plaster my garbage can with all sorts of colored tags so that my can could be seen all the way down the block. Apparently, according to one Seattle garbage collector, about every fifth can is being tagged. And no wonder. People already have plenty of things to busy themselves with in our harried modern lives. They don’t need another assinine assignment imposed on them from bureaucrats who can’t mind their own business. Nor do they need to be shamed as if they are some kind of moral inferiors because they happen to not properly sort all of their garbage. If people want to voluntarily compost, I’m all for it. We’ve done some of it ourselves.  But Leftists can’t stop with that, because as Charles Krauthammer says, liberals don’t care what you do, as long as it is mandatory!

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

January 31, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Deflate-gate is the Dumbest Sports Story Ever!

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Could there be a stupider story than “deflate-gate?” This has to rank as the dumbest story ever, and shows the level of twaddle we are willing to accept. The Patriots destroyed the Colts by over five touchdowns. The idea that the air pressure level of the ball had anything to do with the outcome of the game defies all logic. Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of Belichick or Tom Brady. I hope the Seahawks dismantle New England. But as far as the AFC Championship game was concerned, it didn’t matter if the balls were inflated to the bursting point or if they were dead flat, the Colts were going to lose, and lose big. Are we really this desperate for a story that we have to keep this ridiculous one going?

I try to keep in mind that the paths of the Lord lead to life, joy, contentment, inner satisfaction, peace, steadiness, freedom, hope and power to truly love others, even one’s enemies. It may not seem so in the short-term, but in the end, “he who does the will of God abides forever.” God intends to bless us in His ways, and thus, He is never defeated in them. Not so the paths of disobedience. Though rebellion against God’s unchanging commands and promises may provide a certain pleasure or happiness for a season, it ultimately plunges individuals, communities and nations into ruin, misery, futility, weariness of soul, despair, desperate grasping for new experiences, disloyalty, and hopelessness. It may also lead to awakening, to an ability to see the howling wasteland that is a life of rejecting God’s grace and truth, to a hunger for holiness and righteousness. It may take time, even generations, for this to dawn on people, but we can be sure that God’s purposes for His Word will ultimately win out. We do especially well to remember this when the purveyors of “sexual liberty” and “freedom” are gaining the upper hand, so to speak, when they are silencing dissent. “For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.” (2 Peter 2:18-19). Slaves of corruption cannot build or sustain any kind of culture which leads to human flourishing over the long-run. 

It is always interesting where conversations can go when I am willing to ask people questions. People are generally interesting, and there is always something about their life stories that you would not expect. If we would ask people questions about themselves in our conversations, we would find that often even the mundane details of others’ lives can pique our interest in who they are. When I have been intentional about asking people questions in my conversations with them, I almost always look back on those conversations and ask myself, “Why do I not do that more often?”

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

January 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm

It Refers to Christ and the Church

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R-20101018-0029.jpgGod teaches us that marriage is primarily about displaying the saving love of Jesus Christ our Lord. The apostle Paul tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love His people? He gave himself up for her, that he might make her holy, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” One’s marriage, a man and woman’s love for one another as husband and wife, is meant to display for the world Jesus’ redeeming love in laying down His life for His people. Jesus gave himself up to death so that he could win a people to himself forever, a people who would be holy and righteous before Him, a people to whom He would give the grace and power to enjoy God forever. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for the world. Husbands, you are to display this same kind of sacrificial love toward your wives, seeking to lay down your life for her so that she might know Christ’s love even more profoundly. And my own experience is that this is where husbands will find real joy in marriage. When you try to find new and creative ways to lay down your life for her, you are thrown back into dependence on God, which is the best place to be.

And the apostle Paul tells wives that they are to submit to their husbands just as the church submits to Christ. Wives, your submission to your husband’s leadership is no mere human thing. God calls you to it so that you might display the loyalty and joy that God’s people know by trusting Christ and putting their lives under His good authority and command. It is an unpopular thing today, but it shows that the wife’s ultimate allegiance is not first to her husband, but to Christ and His promises to take care of her in all circumstances.

Indeed, this display of the fervent love between Christ and His people is what marriage is all about. Paul writes at the end of Ephesians 5 that “this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.” What one man and one woman enter into in marriage is a covenant relationship, that is, a relationship built on mutual promises of love and faithfulness, where there is now an actual union of two people. This union is not a fiction, but a spiritual and physical reality. And it is a beautiful and wonderful thing.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

January 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Duenes, Marriage

Have God’s Touch On Your Life

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zechariahGiving free reign to impure lusts, dishonoring our bodies, proclaiming and trusting in lies, giving our ultimate allegiance and loyalty to human beings, being consumed by degrading passions, women giving themselves sexually to other women, men burning with desire for other men and committing indecent and lewd acts with each other, offering no acknowledgement of God, giving in to depravity in our thinking, rebelling against parents, envying others, deceiving others, proving untrustworthy in our dealings, gossiping and slandering . . . these are the evidences of God’s anger and judgment. We need not look, in particular, for fire coming down from heaven or particular “bad” events happening to people before we may say that we are under God’s wrath and judgment. The practices listed above do not lead to God’s judgment; they are God’s judgment being worked out among us.

My wife and I are reading a book on “chores” right now. I think most parents believe in having their kids do chores, but I have never read anything before that so persuasively commends chores as a way to teach one’s children to serve others and develop a life of discipleship, of taking up one’s cross. It’s really a compelling vision for our children. The book is called “Managers of Their Chores,” by Steven and Teri Maxwell.

The new legislative session has begun in Kansas, and working for a government agency, I’ve been involved in the process of introducing legislation this year. What has struck me more than anything is the tremendous level of human energy and infrastructure that goes into creating laws to govern us. You walk into the capital building and you are surrounded by congressional leaders whose main job is to work on laws. You then run into the myriad lobbyists who seek to propose and influence laws. Then you see the people who work on getting the laws properly written into law books. And then there are the administrative staff that engage in the ancillary work required to keep the whole process moving. All this so that we can have laws. It’s astounding.

Of all the things I most fear my children falling into, it’s the widespread false Christianity (which is really not Christianity), dubbed by sociologist, Christian Smith, as “moralistic therapeutic deism,” that is, “a vague, vapid approach to religion, one that can be summed up as: ‘God exists, and he wants us to be nice to each other, and to be happy and successful.'” (See Rod Dreher, “Christian and Countercultural,” found here. This is a fantastic piece, by the way.). This “moralistic, therapeutic deism is, in Dreher’s estimation, the dominant civic religion today, and has massively infected young “Christians” in particular. I agree, and am keen on avoiding it and on raising my children to avoid it. Our infinite, eternal and sinless Lord Jesus did not die to purchase this shriveled false religion for His people.

A few years back I read a little piece of advice by Gordon Fee, namely, “have God’s touch on your life.” I didn’t know what all this meant, and I still don’t, but I think it has to mean something akin to Jesus’ command to “abide” in Him. I have thought about this advice frequently over the years since I read it, but have it before me even more so now. I find that I often come to the end of my work day and do not feel that I have had, in any specific way, God’s “touch” on my life. It’s not that I feel I am consciously disobeying God, or trying to ignore Him, but I am obviously not sitting around at work reading the Bible, and I have to devote serious mental energy to my work, so I wonder what it means to have God’s touch on my life as I do this. I am committed to trying to find out, but I’m a novice, for sure. I’d like to experience a level of conscious awareness of God’s touch on my life (and on the lives of others) as I go about my daily labors.

-D

 

Written by Michael Duenes

January 24, 2015 at 7:51 am

I’ve Never Bought a Song on iTunes

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A11288.jpgI cannot remember the last time I actually bought some new music. I’ve never purchased a song on iTunes, and of course, I haven’t bought any music CD’s in years. Most of the music I listen to, I listen to on free Spotify, free Pandora or youtube, and I listen to it in my house on my computer or my iPod stereo, not while I’m out doing things. I suppose this makes me an oddball these days, but I don’t listen to much new music. I prefer the old stand-bys. It’s just weird to think about listening to so much music, but buying none of it, particularly when I’m old enough to remember buying lots of it.

“Delight,” “consumed with longing,” “love,” “sweet,” “joy of my heart,” “love above fine gold,” “wonderful,” “rejoice,” “love them exceedingly” . . . these are all words used by the author of Psalm 119 to describe his love and affection for God’s inerrant and inspired words. The word “delight” is used numerous times.

ESPN’s “30-for-30” episodes are a great example of the power of well-made films. My first introduction to them was the episode on the invention of the “high five.” And then I by chance came across the episode recounting the horror of humans being crushed at the Hillsborough soccer stadium in Sheffield in 1989. I don’t really follow soccer, but I was riveted by the gripping tragedy that occurred there. I was almost ready to read a book about it, the film was so engrossing. You owe it to yourself to catch some of these episodes, even if sports isn’t your thing. They’re just so well done. Go here for a flavor.

I have always enjoyed writing handwritten notes, but I think such notes take on added emphasis in our day of texts and emails. Handwritten notes let the recipient know that they are valuable enough to you for you to take the time and intention to sit down and write something out in your own hand. They give that personal touch which says, “You, in particular, are someone of unique importance to me, and I want to show you that, in some small part, by giving this part of myself to you.”

I think it’s important to remember that the marital union, the promises that husband and wife make to each other, these are the foundation of love, not the other way around. In other words, our frail and fleeting human love does not give rise to the union or the promises. It’s the promises, in the power of Christ, that allow the love and union to grow and flourish. This is something the world rarely, if ever, acknowledges. We are told that when the storm of emotions which we call “falling in love” is gone, the relationship is as good as dead. But this is a lie. The truth is, it’s the commitment, the promises, that give rise to love, and that allow it to grow and flourish even in the midst of struggles, conflict, losses, and suffering, which will inevitably come.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

January 19, 2015 at 7:55 am