Why Politics And History Do Not Mix

July 18th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares.  She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words:  “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?  For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” – Proverbs 1:20-22 (NKJV)

Ever notice that one political party in the U.S. seems to never pay attention to what has worked or failed throughout history when it comes to the basic philosophies of governing while the other major political party never learns from history when it comes to strategy and messaging?  Ever wonder why we keep repeating the same mistakes of the past over and over again, departing from what works to what feels better?

Have people fundamentally changed over the last ten millennia?  No.  Do people still want all the same things from government they have wanted throughout history?  Yes.

There will always be a dangerously large part of every population that hears what it wants to hear.  They see what they want to see.  Combine this with the fact that most people find it in their base human nature to want to be in power or be on the side of lopsided power and you have what we’ve always had – beloved governments that last a very short time until moral depravity, debt, or both does them in.

As long as we have one party fighting against Judeo-Christian values at every opportunity, spending and taxing its people into oblivion and another party so motivated by fear of the next election that they can’t speak the truth that a majority of active American voters will resonate with; we are screwed.

Until we decide as a nation that empowering bad behavior, subsidizing sub-standard living situations, catering to entitlement mentalities, and punishing productivity is not a good idea…we are screwed.

Until we recognize that a hand-up by charitable people is superior to a hand-out by administrations that benefit from their dependence…we are screwed.

Until we recognize that perceived “rights” at the expense of another’s inalienable rights are merely misguided preferences…we are screwed.

Just my observation for the day…

My Brief Review of Ooma Phone Service

July 16th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

I got real sick of paying Mediacom insane amounts of money for a home phone with no voicemail.

So I quit paying Medicom for TV and phone and now only have their internet service (at 20 mbps it isn’t East Coast fast but it’s enough to run our new phone, stream multiple 1080p movies, and still run our iOS devices when we get email, play with apps, etc.).

Rachel and I wanted to make sure the kids had a home phone, however, in case they needed to use it, as they get older and spend time in the house alone more, etc.  At least until we all have cell phones.  So we settled on Ooma.

Image of Ooma TeloI chose Ooma because Consumer Reports said it was a good buy and that they were happy with the call quality and the equipment.  Overall, I concur.  I am very happy with the Telo box, the customer service has been very good, and the call quality is great.  My current cordless phone system works by plugging the base station into the Telo box and I got a wi-fi adapter so I can place the box anywhere in my house I want my home phone to originate from.  I ported my home phone number over to it which cost $30 but the service was great.  I received multiple emails from Ooma letting me know where they were in the process and I didn’t have to do anything but fill out a simple form online.

There are problems, however.  The basic service is free and is plenty for anyone that just wants a basic home phone.  Just want voicemail and a phone number?  You got it!  I wanted, however, to use their mobile app to make calls from my house from anywhere in the world via wi-fi so I spent the $10 on their iOS app and figured I’d use the Premier trial period during our trip to Europe to call home for free when at the hotel.  Didn’t work.  I could get my mother on the phone to talk to my kids for 1-2 minutes tops before the app would cut out, crash, or the quality would get so bad I couldn’t understand them.  It didn’t seem to matter which city I was in, how great the wi-fi spot was, etc.  It just didn’t work very well.  $10 down the drain.

I might have kept the Premier Service for some of the really nice features it has (like $60-99 per year) but one of the biggest draws of Premier are services that I understand would be best used with the Telo handset paired with the Telo box.  You can’t get a Telo handset.  Out of stock.  For months.  So, until they have them available and I can get one cheaper than they were selling them when they first came out, I’m not going to be too excited about upgrading.

I then call to cancel my Premier service as the trial period is ending and I want to keep it free (only pay $3 and change for taxes/govt. fees) but the phone number doesn’t work very well for Ooma.  If you know the options you need to push already, it’s fine.  But if you pull the phone away to push “1” for “customer care,” by the time you get the phone back to your ear, the next set of directions has fast forwarded to the last option (that you won’t need) and it just gets quiet………………no repeating of the options………….silence.

I finally called back a third time after having someone manning their online chat tell me to try option 2 at the beginning instead.  Same fast-forward skipping to the end and silent treatment.  I just hit a “1.”  I hit a “1” again.  Finally got help.  Very friendly, offered me a discount on Premier Service which I politely declined.  I told her about their customer service automation trouble on their phone lines.  I believed her when she said she’d pass it on.  Then I find out I don’t need Premier to use the mobile app so I’m hoping they update it and make it work because that has the potential to be AWESOME!

So I’m sitting here typing this with a good home phone.  Great quality, virtually free, nice box.  If I need technical help or advice, their online chat feature is great.  The price is unbeatable.

So I highly recommend The Ooma with a few caveats – don’t rely on their mobile app (it probably won’t work), be patient if their customer service phone line is quirky (just hit numbers…someone will help), and perhaps wait ’till the Telo Handset is back on the shelves if you think its feature set may be useful.  It’s a young company with a well-designed product, great quality, and it’s almost FREE!

If you really want to cancel your home phone service but just aren’t quite sure, get Ooma.

Irresistible or Efficacious Grace

July 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

If you look at the “five points” of Calvinism as a timeline or storyline of how salvation works, then I believe they are easier to understand and appreciate than if you look at them in a disjointed or segregated way.  Consider that “Total Depravity” describes our disposition as sinners before regeneration, that “Unconditional election” is the Father’s choice to engage in our lives, that “Limited Atonement” honors the effective and purposeful death of Christ, and that “Irresistible Grace” is the Spirit’s sanctifying work within us to author the state of being “born again” within us.

The Scriptures paint a very clear picture of predestination, redemption, and the Spirit’s never-failing transformation of those whom He called.  David Steele said it best in the book I often quote from (The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented):

The gospel invitation extends a call to salvation to every one who hears its message.  It invites all men without distinction to drink freely of the water of life and live.  It promises salvation to all who repent and believe.  But this outward general call, extended to the elect and non-elect alike, will not bring sinners to Christ.  Why?  Because men are by nature dead in sin and are under its power.  They are of themselves unable and unwilling to forsake their evil ways and to turn to Christ for mercy.  Consequently, the unregenerate will not respond to the gospel call to repentance and faith.  No amount of external threatenings or promises will cause blind, deaf, dead, rebellious sinners to bow before Christ as Lord and to look to Him alone for salvation.  Such an act of faith and submission is contrary to the lost man’s nature.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit, in order to bring God’s elect to salvation, extends to them a special inward call in addition to the outward call con tainted in the gospel message.  Through this special call the Holy Spirit performs a work of grace within the sinner which inevitably brings him to faith in Christ.  The inward change wrought in the elect sinner enables him to understand and believe spiritual truth; in the spiritual realm he is giving the seeing eye and the hearing ear.  The Spirit creates within him a new heart or a new nature…”

So the general call of the gospel is God’s way of demonstrating to us that nothing saves outside of the power of the Spirit utilizing the tools of election and His Word and redemption to create a new heart within us!  The lack of ability of the non-elect to respond to the gospel and the irresistible nature of the Spirit’s work within the elect demonstrate the nature of Sin and the power of God!

Some of my favorite Scriptures that help paint the picture:

II Corinthians 3:17-18 – “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Ezekiel 36: 26-27 – “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.”

John 5:21 – For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”

Matthew 11:25-27 – At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'”

Luke 8:10 – “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”

I Corinthians 2:14 – “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

[Interesting how Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18 describe conversion as being given or granted repentance…]

Acts 18:27 – “And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him.  When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed.”

Romans 9:16 – “So then [it is] not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”

I Corinthians 3:6-7 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

There are countless other Scriptures that place the work and responsibility for regeneration squarely on the shoulders of God.  Why would we, when there is no evidence in Scripture for it, place any responsibility on ourselves or other men or pretend that we have the power to approach God in our depravity or resist the power of God when He has determined to redeem and regenerate us?