Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Parable of the Weeds

If you were to ask most people my age the first word that comes to their mind when you say the word "Christian," the answer you'd get is "hypocrite." It's no secret that the words have become almost synonymous, even among people older than us. Usually, my reaction is to either try to agree with them (which makes me a hypocrite), or to defend myself (which holds no weight). Neither one works very well.

But consider this parable.
The Parable of the Weeds
Matthew 13:24-30 
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
   27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
   28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
   “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
   29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Wheat and darnel (false wheat)

I don't know if this has to do with being young or not, but it's very clear to many people nowadays that our entire culture runs on dishonesty. Insincerity and inaction make us angry, as they should. We instinctively know that if someone claims Christianity, they should live it out, or else something is seriously wrong. The hypocrisy of the American church keeps a lot of people—especially young people—away from Christ. That's why I find it so interesting that Jesus forthrightly allows wheat and weeds to exist in the same church and tells us not to disturb that. He is the Judge.

2 Peter 3:8-10
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Galatians 6:7-9
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Are there hypocrites in the church? Absolutely. No one denies it; even Jesus told us there would be. But if you're one who struggles with the idea of Christian hypocrites, consider the other side: there are genuine people in the church too. No one is claiming we're perfect—hypocrisy is a sin just like any other that people both in and out of the church are susceptible to. We need God's Spirit to help us overcome it. In the end, however, God will know who is genuine and who is not. Which one will you be?

Further Reading:
1. Sermon: What is a Weed?

Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani Sentenced to Death

I've been following this story for a while. According to Wikipedia, Nadarkhani, 34, was arrested once in 2006 and again in 2010. Charges range from "apostasy and evangelism" to the unrelated "rape and extortion." In the past two years he has been in prison, Nadarhkani has been given the three chances to renounce his faith prescribed by Islamic law. He has now officially been sentenced to death by hanging, although no one knows when, as the Iranian government usually does it on a whim and usually in secret. As of yesterday, he was declared to be still alive.

Yousef Nadarkhani

According to Iran's Constitution, freedom of religion is guaranteed. But under Sharia law, while persons of other religions are treated as second-class citizens in a myriad of ways, the harshest of punishments is reserved for those who leave Islam. Nadarkhani, who was born into a marginally Muslim family, converted to Christianity at age 19—four years after a boy is considered an adult under Islam. According to the courts, this means that he was a Muslim from ages 15-19 and is thus an apostate. His defense says that because he never really practiced Islam, he cannot be guilty of apostasy.

Nadarkhani's wife Fatemah was arrested in 2010 in an apparent effort to pressure Nadarkhani to renounce his faith. During this time, his two boys, Daniel (9) and Yoel (7), stayed with a relative, as the Iranian government threatened to remove the boys from the home and place them with a Muslim family. Throughout all of this, the Nadarkhani family's faith has remained strong.

The American Center for Law and Justice has headed an international effort to raise awareness of this case—one of many persecution cases in Iran—in an attempt to encourage the international community to put pressure on Iran and hopefully save Nadarkhani's life. The ACLJ's executive director, Jordan Sekulow, told Fox News, "The world needs to stand up and say that a man cannot be put to death because of his faith.” On Wednesday, the United States House will vote on House Resolution 556, condemning the Iranian government and calling for Nadarkhani's quick release.

As a Christian, I recognize that asking to save his life probably isn't the right response, although I would be happy if he were released. Jesus said that we would face persecution. I am praying that their faith remains strong and that God will give them all comfort and peace. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Friday, February 24, 2012

How Pinterest has Revolutionized the Way I Cook

Chances are that by now you've at least heard of the addictive website Pinterest. Well, now that I'm grown and married and stuff—and should learn how to cook and make things—a homemaker's haven like Pinterest was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing (and learn some new skills). I had no idea so many beautifully laid-out, uniformly witty food and craft blogs even existed. (I also suspect that most of their food pictures are fake, but that's aside from the point.)

The point is, before Pinterest, I could only make stir-fry. And meatloaf, sometimes—but I can't even make real meatloaf, because I can't eat ketchup. This week, however, I made my first from-scratch cake, which is kind of a big deal since my boxed-mix cakes break in half more often than not.

Red (Wine) Velvet Cake with German Buttercream Icing

The recipe can be found here.

It might not look like much (mostly because I was too scared to cut the cake pieces to make them even—one step at a time), but it's rich enough to taste like something you'd order for dessert at a nice restaurant. Apparently the secret to this is about 5 hundred million times as much butter as you might consider edible. Also, don't ask me why it's on a pink plastic plate. Jacob wrestled with God; I wrestle with cakes. That's all you need to know.

Basically, Pinterest has revolutionized the way I cook. I'm finally comfortable making American food, not just Asian.

Here are the other things I've tried:

Homemade Snickers

Cheesecake-Filled Strawberries

Things I'm working on now:

DIY glass etching

DIY monogrammed dishes

While I try to make this blog about ideas, food and crafts can be ideas too. In the long run, there's no way I could have a craft blog; I need more depth than that. But you can look forward to more posts about my successes and failures in the domestic arena too.

While you're here, you're welcome to follow me on Pinterest!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doctor Denied License in Kansas Allegedly because of Political Views

Source: KCTV5.com (article + video)

Although Terrence Lee Lakin received a bronze star for his medical service in Afghanistan and Bosnia, has served in a medical mission to Honduras, is licensed to practice in both Colorado and Maryland, and has a spotless medical record, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts denied him an osteopathic license in Kansas allegedly because of his political views.

Sitting before a 15-member board, what Lakin thought was going to be a conversation about medical criteria ended up being a 16-minute interrogation session about his dishonorable discharge from the military and his belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Lakin served in Afghanistan in 2004, but in 2010 refused to go because of this issue and was dishonorably discharged and jailed.
Nearly two years ago, the then lieutenant colonel asked for proof that Obama was born in the United States. When he didn't get it, Lakin announced via a video posted on www.safeguardourconstitution.com, "I will disobey my orders to deploy because I believe all servicemen and women and the American people deserve the truth about President Obama, the office of the presidency and the commander in chief."
In April 2010, citing a possible break in the chain of command, Lakin did refuse a second tour of duty to Afghanistan. In December of that year, he went through a court martial for missing movement and failing to obey a lawful order – both violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When Lakin was found guilty of breaking military law, the Army gave him a dishonorable discharge, stripped him of his rank and sentenced him to a six-month prison term at Fort Leavenworth.
The dishonorable discharge had no bearing on Lakin's license to practice medicine in Maryland or Colorado. But the Kansas board ruled Lakin's refusal to deploy to Afghanistan "…potentially jeopardized the health, safety and welfare of the military troops for with applicant was employed to provide medical care."
The military dispatched another doctor to fill Lakin's mission.
Everything I read about this story leads the reader to believe that the board's decision was solely because of the man's Birther belief (which I think is nutso, FYI, but I want to explore this objectively). In addition, the board found that by refusing to go to Afghanistan, Lakin was potentially endangering troops' health and safety. However, if a dishonorable discharge is considered a felony in Kansas, that would be an acceptable reason to deny employment—I've just searched and searched and can't find anything about it on the Internet (and oddly enough, if you listen to the transcript, one of the questioners says she doesn't know either).

Ethically, I don't think it was right for the board to interrogate him based on his political views, no matter what they are. I don't care if he believes we were placed here by aliens and supports a police state, if it doesn't have anything to do with his medical capabilities, it should have been left well enough alone. I think it's right for people to be upset about that part. However, it seems by listening to and reading the transcript that their decision was ultimately based on his decision to bail on his military duties (i.e. his dishonorable discharge). I'm not sure about this, but if Kansas has no legal specifications of d.d. = felony, then it might potentially have been their free choice whether to approve or deny him based on that.

I have a lot of questions that might be able to be answered by some Kansas legal expert reading this. Until then, I'm willing to vote on this as half true.

Other Sources:
1. First Things
2. Kansas State Board of Nursing
3. The Blaze
4. Transcript