Pensées

Thoughts on the Meaning of Life…..by Todd Helmkamp

Archive for the ‘Questions for Debate’ Category

The Disconnect

Posted by Vogeler on October 4, 2011

We were made to connect with each other.  Even those of us who are introverts still have a need for deep, meaningful relationship.  Until relatively recently, the realities of daily life meant that people were dependent on each other.  People came together for social interaction, to help with large projects such as farming or building, and for mutual defense.  But now we have all of these new and wonderful technologies (most of which I do enjoy) that, while useful, often act as a substitute for true relationship, true community.  I’ve experienced this myself.  I have grown extremely close to a group of people on an internet chat board, while only having shallow and transitory relationships in real life.   And I have sat playing video games for hours on end rather than talking with my neighbors or playing with my children.

But lately I’ve become dissatisfied with some of the relationships in my life.  I’m no longer interested in friendships that bring no meaning or depth to my life.  I’m no longer interested in relationships with people who aren’t committed to growth, whether mental, spiritual, or emotional.  I’m no longer interested in relationships with people who aren’t interested in forming actual connections.  Quite frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to invest in relationships from which I get little to no return.  Thankfully, I have a small number of men with whom I am developing real friendships, but it’s a slow process, and I often feel like I am very alone in this.

I don’t know the answer to this problem, but I do know that many of the problems plaguing our society stem directly from our lack of “interconnectedness” and dependence on each other.  I want to strongly encourage you, dear readers (all 7 of you, haha!) to consciously look at your relationships, and work to deepen them (I said “work” because it is work, and hard work indeed!).  Even though it may be difficult or uncomfortable at first, I promise you the rewards will be well worth the cost.

Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 6 Comments »

“Happy Anniversary Baby, Got You On My Miiiind…”

Posted by Vogeler on November 19, 2008

The title of this post are lyrics from a great song, entitled, “Happy Anniversary” (surprise!) by the Little River Band.  Man, I love those oldies.  (The song is from 1977, the year before I was born, so it counts as an oldie.  So there).

But that’s not the focus of this post.  No, the focus of this post is that my blog is officially two years old!! (OK, two years and two days.  I forgot.  Sue me.  It’s not like I forgot my wedding anniversary, for pete’s sake.  Who is pete and why do we care about him?)

In honor of my two year anniversary, I will not be giving away free stuff.  If I made money from this blog, I would.  But I don’t, so I’m not.

Instead, I present to you…..   *drumroll*

Todd’s Favorite Posts from the Last Two Years!!!

*pause for cheers and applause*

(note:  these are my favorite posts, not necessarily the best or most profound.  You’ve been warned)

10.  It’s Official!!!!! /It’s A Boy!! (tie)

9.  Bye -Bye Myspace

8.  Passing Through

7.  Today’s Pictures

6.  My New Blog!! (shameless plug)

5.  Ten Years Later

4.  The Importance of A Christian Education

3.  Things I Learned From Reading Louis L’Amour Novels

2.  An Excellent Look at Early Church Relations and Discipline (link updated and fixed)

1.  Be Careful What You Read (I should be on Mythbusters!)

Are there any you would add?

Posted in Announcements, Fun Stuff, Questions for Debate, Ramblings, Things I'm Doing, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

All Hallows’ Eve

Posted by Vogeler on October 31, 2008

All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween in its modern incarnation, is a subject of much debate in evangelical circles.  Often, mostly due to incorrect propaganda from the early 20th century, Christians of many traditions consider Halloween a Satanic holiday, or wonder if it’s okay for their children to participate.  Well, before I give my opinion, let me give you some of the history of Halloween.

The idea of a harvest festival, at or near the Autumnal Equinox, is very old.  Many of our current Halloween practices can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced “Sow-in”).  The Celts were a race of people who lived in what is now Europe, and are especially known for populating Gaul (Western Europe) and the British Isles during the time of Julius Caesar.  Samhain was a time when the world “died”, part of the natural cyclic order of the world (similar to Greek beliefs about Persephone). The Celts did not worship a “Lord of the Dead” named Samhain, as I have read on other Christian sites, and it was not a festival worshipping death in any form.  Rather, it was a belief that at this time, the boundries between the spirit world and the human world were thin.  I’m certainly not saying that this is a valid belief, but it is worlds away from the assertions of some Christian writers.  There is not a single shred of historical or anthropological evidence that the Celts worshipped death (and I have studied them for the last 15 years).  They did believe that evil spirits roamed the earth more freely at this time, and took steps to try to protect themselves, not welcome the evil spirits.  They often wore masks or costumes at this time to try to frighten the spirits away, which is most likely where we get the current custom of dressing up.

In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV created a special feast day to honor saints and martyrs.  It was called All Hallow’s Day (“Hallow” means “holy”; in Old English, Alhalowmesse) and the night before was called All Hallow’s Eve, from which we get “Halloween”. Many scholars believe that Boniface created the day to replace Samhain with a church holiday.

Immigrants to America brought many of their Halloween traditions with them, but some are unique to the US.  One such custom is “trick-or-treating”, where children dressed in costumes go door-to-door begging for candy (the trick part is still practiced in some areas, but has been frowned upon since the late 1800s).  Trick-or-treating began when young immigrants dressed up and wandered their neighborhoods, begging for food or money.

I think that a large part of the confusion about Halloween stems from, as usual, ignorance.  There is a world of difference between paganism ( believing in false gods) and Satanism (intentionally worshipping the Enemy of God).  Although the powers behind paganism are demonic, the intentions of the practitioner are not.

In case you’re wondering how I know so much about this stuff, like I said before, I’ve studied Celtic culture and history for years.  But, there was also a time when I practiced paganism, including celebrating Samhain.  Of course, I am not advocating paganism!  It is wrong, and a sham.  God alone must be worshipped!  But I, along with many others, worshipped out of ignorance, not with the intent to worship the Enemy.  And I think that’s important to keep in mind when considering Halloween.  Remember, the intent of the day was NEVER to glorify Satan.

All that being said, I still think it’s prudent to approach Halloween very cautiously.  Whether or not it’s intended to worhsip Satan, the fact remains that the holiday is all about death, and death is not natural, according to God’s Word (it was brought into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve).

I think that many of today’s activities are harmless.  Luke, my oldest, is dressing as Buzz Lightyear from Disney’s Toy Story. Brennan is dressing as an adorable little monkey.  We’re going trick-or-treating, then to a party at a local church (the party is open to the public).  There’s no harm in any of these activities.  But there are many activities associated with the holiday that can be harmful.

  1. Dressing up as a demon, witch, ghost, horror movie character, etc.  This is common sense.
  2. Seances, Ouija boards, tarot cards, and other methods of divination.  We are expressly commanded to avoid these things.  (Deut. 18:10)
  3. Pranks.  Don’t be a jerk to people.  Duh.

Overall, participating in Halloween is a personal decision.  If you feel the Holy Spirit telling you to stay away, then by all means listen!!  But please don’t judge those who feel that it’s ok to enjoy the harmless aspects.

*Most of the material here is re-written from a lesson I taught several years ago, but I did some
additional fact-finding and checking.  Some places that I used to check facts include the History
Channel's site and the site from the About.com Guide to Christianity.  Whatever you do, though,
always read more than one source before you form an opinion!  That goes for everything (except
Scripture)


Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

Posted by Vogeler on October 24, 2008

This is part of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  The full Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There’s been a lot of talk recently about firearms.  Hunters, anti-hunters, special interest groups, the political candidates, all have different opinions. I, too, have an opinion.

I strongly believe that each and every citizen of the United States of America over the age of 18 has the right to own, load, and shoot a firearm for recreation, hunting, or self-defense.  I strongly believe that this right is fundamental to the proper functioning of a Republic, for several reasons (although I think it’s a bit silly, and dangerous to legitimate authorities, for a private citizen to own such weapons as sniper rifles, assault rifles, armor-piercing ammunition, etc.  That makes me think they’re up to no good).

First, in case of attack by foreign or domestic enemies, it will most likely prove a great asset that many people are trained in, and capable of, the proper use of a firearm.  If it becomes necessary for the average citizen to resist, that resistance will be much more effective if he or she can use a firearm.  One of the reasons the American Revolution was successful was that most of the colonists involved used firearms on a daily basis, either to hunt or in defense against Native American attacks.

Second, if the security of my home is compromised by an enemy who is armed with a firearm, or even another weapon, my chances of successfully defending my family increase dramatically if I have a firearm.  Unfortunately, the 3-5 minute response time necessary for a police officer to reach my home to protect me may be 3-5 minutes too long.  Therefore, I must look to my own defense, which I will gladly do.

Third, a firearm may be used to hunt.  Legal hunting can help to put food on my table (very important during difficult economic times), and it is a great asset in managing animal populations.  In Northeastern Indiana where I live, there are many, many auto accidents every year that involve deer, many of which cause considerable damage and injury.  Out-of-control deer populations also damage farmers’ crops, and compete with agricultural herd animals for pasture and grazing.  Because there are few natural predators left in this area, many deer starve each winter.  By removing some of these animals, hunters help to reduce the risk of these problems.  Not to mention, when done properly and with respect for God’s Creation, hunting can be an intensely spiritual experience, as we reconnect with the world around us.

But the biggest reason I am a strong supporter of gun ownership is defense.  I do not trust my fellow humans, nor do I trust my government.  Unfortunately, human nature has demonstrated for the last several thousand years that my distrust is well-founded.  A man without a gun will have a difficult time effectively defending himself or his family against an assailant that has one, nor will a populace without guns be able to defend themselves from an unjust government that possesses them.  Governments throughout history have known that if the populace does not have access to weapons, they can be controlled.  I don’t think any of us truly want that (except for those who want to do the controlling).

On one of the blogs I read ( by Dave Duffy, from Backwoods Home Magazine) the question was recently asked, “What will you do, personally, if Government agents come to your door and ask you to give them your guns?” After a lot of thought, I have to say that my answer is, “Peacefully hand them over.”  As much as I would hate to give them up, as a Christian I am commanded to acknowledge legitimate authority:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”  (Romans 13: 1-2)

Of course, when the established authorities command something that goes against God’s Word, the Word absolutely takes precedence.  The problem is that God’s Word never mentions (to my knowledge; if I’m wrong, please correct me!) a right to own weapons.

That’s my take on the issue, and I have written my elected representatives to let them know how I feel and that I will vote accordingly.  And despite some media spin-doctoring, I do not believe that Senator Obama is a supporter of gun rights, as he consistently has voted against them in the past.  Although Senator McCain is far from perfect, his moral record, stance on abortion, and stance on gun rights make him my candidate of choice this year.

I am a peaceful man; I don’t go out of my way to cause trouble.  I have never been in trouble with the law, and would be absolutely content to live the rest of my life without ever having to fire a gun in self-defense.  But unfortunately, I may not have a choice.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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Did Jesus Always Know Right from Wrong?

Posted by Vogeler on May 9, 2008

Hey all,

Recently a friend of mine asked my opinion about Isaiah 7:14-16.  The text of verse 16, “But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” seems to indicate that there was indeed a time before Jesus was morally accountable.  Here are my thoughts:

My reading, in contrary to Matthew Henry et al, is that the context refers to the son born of the virgin, not to Isaiah’s son Shear-Jabesh, mentioned in verse 3. 

My friend tells me that some commentaries have said that v 16 was originally written “a boy” not “the boy”, but like he mentioned, every translation/version I’ve looked at including the King James says “the boy”.

 So, is “the boy” a more accurate translation than “a boy”?  It completely changes the meaning of the passage.

If the accurate translation is the commonly used “the boy”, judging by the context then there was a period when the child born of the virgin (Immanuel, the Messiah, Jesus) did not know right from wrong. 

I don’t see any problem with this, for a couple of reasons.  First, Jesus was fully human as well as fully God.  Brennan ( my 3 month-old) certainly doesn’t know right from wrong, and Luke (my three-year-old) doesn’t fully understand it either.  Second, we know that Jesus voluntarily limited Himself (“who touched Me?” to the woman with a hemorrhage, “Only the Father knows the day and the hour”, etc), so perhaps He limited that phase of His development.

Also, the first we hear of Him ministering in any capacity is at the age of 12, which is the Jewish age of accountability  (correct me if I’m wrong).

That’s my take on the issue.  Readers, what do you think?

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Daddy, I Want Shrek!!

Posted by Vogeler on March 5, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Luke and I went to the grocery to give Mommy a break (from both  shopping and us).  I’m not usually allowed to go grocery shopping because I always blow the budget with a bunch of junk food or other stuff that wasn’t on the list (“But honey, they had frozen pizza on sale, 10 for $20!!).  The irony of all this is that I am the one that originally, after much math and price checking at a couple of different stores, set the budget amount.  Oh well.

Anyway,  I grabbed some Spaghetti O’s to throw in the cart for lunch for Luke some day that week, and he told me I grabbed the wrong ones.  “Daddy, I want Shrek ‘Speggy O’s’!”

You could have knocked me over with feather.  Bethany had told me that he always asked for stuff with Shrek or Lightning McQueen (from the Disney/Pixar movie “Cars”) on it, but it never really sank in until he asked me for it.

He is not even three years old, and he’s asking for food with a cartoon character on the label?!

He doesn’t watch network, cable, or satellite TV (because we don’t have it), so he never sees ads at home (he watches a little bit at grandma’s).  But seeing his favorite characters on food labels is enough for him to want that particular can, even though it is twice the price of the regular can that has the same stuff in it.

I am appalled, to say the least.

I am a big fan of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.  They are an organization that has helped open my eyes to the fact that marketing is now aimed at children.  I don’t want my boys to become infected with the “gotta have more stuff” bug.***

I highly recommend joining the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and taking action against companies that market to children.  The things they are marketing are NOT consistent with the values that I hold dear, and I’m putting a stop to it.

Here are some other great resources about marketing in general and how it affects us:

Article on child marketing on Get Rich Slowly

Article about general marketing on Get Rich Slowly

So now I pose the question to you readers:

If you have children, are you concerned about the effects of marketing on them?  Why or why not?

If you don’t have children, are you concerned about the effects of marketing in general?  If you are planning to have kids, will you limit their exposure to marketing?  Why or why not?

I look forward to your thoughts!

***I am not immune to this bug.  I wanted the nursery theme for our newborn, Brennan, to be  Classic Pooh.  Sigh.

Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 6 Comments »

An Opportunity

Posted by Vogeler on February 11, 2008

Good morning, Dear Readers!

No baby, yet, but we have an appointment this afternoon.  He’ll come when he’s ready.  🙂

Anyway, a gentleman who goes by the of AtheistReader has invited me, and anyone else who is interested, to comment and give feedback as he goes through the book by journalist Lee Strobel, “The Case for Christ”.

He is, I believe, sincerely wanting honest discussion, so I have begun following his posts about it on his blog.  I encourage you, if you feel moved by Holy Spirit or are simply interested, to do the same (especially those of you who attended the conference with Dr. Blomberg with me.  You know who you are).  However, please do not be rude, do not call names,   and make sure that your comments are polite, concise, to-the-point, accurate, and above all, delivered in a spirit of love and truth.  Thanks!

You can read AtheistReader’s blog posts here.

Posted in Announcements, Questions for Debate | Leave a Comment »

Buttpaste?!?!

Posted by Vogeler on January 2, 2008

I read a lot of blogs.  One of my favorites is by a pastor named Perry Noble from South Carolina.

One of his posts is titled “Buttpaste is the Solution to Church Growth” and in it he asserts that there are many angry Christians, and they should be given buttpaste with which to soothe themselves (buttpaste is used to soothe a baby’s diaper rash).

Check out the post here.

Although the article is hilarious, I was a good bit humbled by the fact that many of the categories he mentioned fit me pretty well.  Apparently, I need spiritual buttpaste.

How about you?

—————-
Now playing: Vitamin String Quartet – November Rain
via FoxyTunes

Posted in Blogroll, Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 1 Comment »

It Amazes Me….

Posted by Vogeler on November 28, 2007

It amazes me that good, solid Christian men, who would never think of looking at pornography will go see a movie, on the big-screen, that has female nudity in it.  Huh?  How does this work?

Did God suddenly say it was ok?

I’ve heard some men say that it doesn’t affect them.

Seeing a nude, attractive female doesn’t affect you?  Are you human?  Are you a man?  Or are you just that much better than I am?

Seriously, men, please let me know what you think.  I am actually amazed by this.

Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 4 Comments »

If You Never Read Anything Else I’ve Ever Posted, Read THIS!!

Posted by Vogeler on November 26, 2007

Another great item from Cerulean Sanctum, this one about the role of the church in times of economic crisis.  Read about it here.

After you’ve read it, let me know what you think.  Do you agree or disagree?  What do you think the church’s role is in times of crisis?

Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 3 Comments »