For My Love

Filed in PersonalTags: Photos

I have never been one to care much for Valentine's Day; mostly, because I have almost always been single in mid-February (with the exception of one, solitary year). However, this year - and every year hereafter - I have great reason to celebrate what has always been merely a "Hallmark holiday" in the past.

With the timing of all the things involved with our pending marriage and birth of our baby girl, I didn't have the free resources to go too overboard monetarily in lavishing my amazing, beautiful love in the manner she deserves; still, I hope I have been able to show her how much I love and appreciate her, and how grateful I am to God for brining us together.

Valentine's Day 007

Nothing fancy or extravagant, but every girl should get flowers on Valentine's Day.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Valentine's Day 002

She said she wanted a heart filled with chocolate - so I got her two!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Happy Valentine's Day, honey. I love you!

OYB February 14

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 37-38
NT: Matthew 28
Ps: Psalm 34:11-22
Pr: Proverbs 9:9-10

Gospel Thread - OT:

They made the lampstand of pure gold and hammered it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms were of one piece with it.

Exodus 37:17 (NIV)

This comparison might be a stretch, but perhaps the lampstand is symbolic of Christ. The lampstand provided light, and consisted of seven lamps - seven being the number for perfection, holiness, and completion: in other words, the number seven represents God. Note that, in heaven, the Lamb is called the lamp for the City of God (Revelation 21:23), and it is the glory God Himself who provides light in the City (Revelation 22:5).

Gospel Thread - NT:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

The Great Commission: the charge Christ has given to every believer, to spread throughout all the world and among all peoples the truth about man's need for a savior and the good news of God's grace in providing Christ to fill that need. It is at this point in history that a great turn begins - a turn that we will see completed as we move later into the book of Acts. The first part of God's great Plan for salvation is complete, and Jesus has just given His followers the responsibility to preach the gospel - in order that God might usher in the completion of His great Plan: Christ's triumphant return!

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalm 34:20 (NIV)

This verse is perhaps a messianic prophecy fulfilled by Christ on the Cross: none of his bones were broken during His crucifixion.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB February 13

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 35:10-35, Exodus 36
NT: Matthew 27:32-66
Ps: Psalm 34:1-10
Pr: Proverbs 9:7-8

Gospel Thread - OT:

and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.

Exodus 35:21 (NIV)

God has always asked only for those who are willing, and whose hearts move them to act: to give, to accept salvation, to do anything (see II Corinthians 9:7). God does not force anyone to accept salvation any more than He forces anyone to sacrifice or to give. Granted, all of us will be held accountable for the decisions we make; but we are free to make the decisions as we will.

Gospel Thread - NT:

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Matthew 27:35 (NIV)

According to the NIV footnotes, this verse fulfills Psalm 22:18.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

According to the NIV footnotes, Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

Some believe that Old Testament uses of the term "the angel of the Lord" refer to a pre-incarnate Christ.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB February 12

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 34, Exodus 35:1-9
NT: Matthew 27:15-31
Ps: Psalm 33:12-22
Pr: Proverbs 9:1-6

Gospel Thread - OT:

The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock.

Exodus 34:19 (NIV)

God claims His right to the firstborn offspring of every womb. I do not think it coincidental that God sacrificed His firstborn - and only - Son, Jesus Christ.

Gospel Thread - NT:

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.

Matthew 27:27-30 (NIV)

As previously discussed, this is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:7.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

Psalm 33:12 (NIV)

As we saw in God's great promise to Abraham, God made Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into a great nation - a nation He called His own, and to whom He promised great blessing and through whom His Messiah would come. Also a part of that promise, God declared that He would bless all nations through this nation of Israel. Through Jesus, His Messiah, God chose to adopt all who would come - to graft all believers into the family of Israel. Therefore, we indeed are a part of the nation whose God is the Lord - we are the people He chose for His inheritance!

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB February 11

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 32-33
NT: Matthew 26:69-75, Matthew 27:1-14
Ps: Psalm 33:1-11
Pr: Proverbs 8:33-36

Gospel Thread - OT:

And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

Exodus 33:19 (NIV)

The humbling truth of the gospel is that we have salvation only because God chose to have compassion for us, and to have mercy on us. Not one of us deserves anything other than physical and spiritual death and eternal separation from God because of our sin. How great is our God, that, though not all will choose to accept what He has freely given, He chose to offer His mercy to every person who will accept it!

Gospel Thread - NT:

7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."

Matthew 27:7-10 (NIV)

According to the NIV footnotes, this passage fulfills the prophecies of Zechariah 11:12-13, Jeremiah 19:1-13, and Jeremiah 32:6-9.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 33:11 (NIV)

Already, not even 1/6th of the way through the Bible, it is obvious that God's plan for man's salvation were woven into the very creation of the world, and that God has remained active in carrying His plan through to completion. It is a blessing and a privilege to have such a candid view of God's plan and His working to fulfill that plan!

For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 8:35 (NIV)

Proverbs 8 is a proverb about wisdom. Thus, this verse tells us that whomever finds wisdom finds life. An overall reading of this chapter reveals a strong allusion of the Holy Spirit as wisdom. This verse also connects the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ, who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The point is clear: the way to life - to wisdom, to the Father - is a renewed spirit through Jesus Christ, who bestows upon us the Holy Spirit and life and wisdom.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

Daylight Saving Time: the 2007 Y2K

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Geekery, Technology

As far as tech nightmares go, this one might be worse than Y2K.

The US Congress changed the rules for Daylight Saving Time, starting in 2007. This year, rather than spring forward the first Sunday of April and fall back the last Sunday in October, DST will begin on the second Sunday of March, and end the first Sunday of November.

Growing up in the then-non-DST-observing Indiana, I still find the whole DST process foreign enough that I don't have a set routine. So for me, I make the change when I'm told, and move on. However, many of today's advanced consumer electronics have programmed algorithms for DST - and reprogramming these devices might be impossible, potentially requiring manual changes four times a year. Worse, as with Y2K, legacy computer systems and software may not account for the new changes properly, leading to potential - and unknown - consequences.

Microsoft has established a help center to deal with the change as it impacts their products.

Substitute Incrimination and Computer Injustice

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Computers, Education, Internet, Technology

The other day I read this article on PC World about Julie Amero, a substitute teacher convicted for exposing students to pornographic material on the computer of the teacher for whom she was substituting. In summary:

The story is short: On October, 19, 2004, Amero was a substitute teacher for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School. A few students were crowded around a PC; some were giggling. She investigated and saw the kids looking at a barrage of graphic, hard-core pornographic pop-ups.

(Follow-up stories here, here, and here, with local newspaper coverage here, here, and here.) The prosecution alleged that Amero had used the computer to visit adult web sites, while the defense countered that the computer was already infested with various malware programs that caused the illicit pop-ups. The analysis of the case is drastically different, depending upon which story is true.

The prosecution alleged that Amero intentionally visited various adult web sites, but this report by the defense's expert computer witness refutes that claim. This expert was prepared to re-enact the events in the classroom with a clean laptop in the courtroom, but the prosecution objected to this defense, and the judge did not allow it. (And from the conclusion of the report, it appears that the judge also did not even allow the expert to present the results of his forensic examination of the computer.

This whole story appears to be a case of 1) the school using the substitute teacher as a scapegoat for its own failure to ensure the security of its students and its computer resources, and 2) the prosecutor, judge, and jury acting from a position of complete computer/internet illiteracy.

The computer in question was running Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 5, with no firewall, was infested with malware, and had outdated anti-virus signatures (according to an op-ed piece written by Alex Eckelberry). Thus, the first entity responsible for the incident is the school administration, for not having and/or following a procedure or policy for computer administration that would include ensuring that computers are protected against malware, and that antivirus signatures are maintained. In fact, the school admitted that their blacklist filter was not kept current during the time in question.

Also, school computers were allowed to be used for personal internet use, with only a blacklist filter in place. As this blog points out, this policy is a recipe for potential disaster, since blacklist filters that are not kept current are easily bypassed, and many malicious or illicit web sites intentionally use a practice called typosquatting (using typographic-error URLs in order to lure visitors who intend to go to one website but are instead directed somewhere else due to an incorrectly spelled URL - think "google" vs. "goggle").

The prosecution alleged two things: one, that Amero intentionally visited the web sites that served the illicit images, and two, that Amero did not prevent the students from continuing to see the images by immediately turning off the computer.

The forensic evidence (which was not allowed to be presented) clearly proved that the illicit images came to the computer through clicks on what was ostensibly a hair-style web site, and were of a size consistent with pop-up ads, not intentional image downloads. This evidence proves that the computer experienced what is known as a "pop-up storm" - something with which anyone who has used a computer with software older than Internet Explorer 6 running on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (or better) is experienced. Further - and worse - the police software used to examine the computer (ComputerCOP Pro) cannot differentiate between an explicit click and a script-generated window-open. The prosecution proved that the computer made a connection to an illicit web site, but had no means whatsoever, using the police software, to prove how the site was accessed.

Also, while some hold the assertion as fact), it does not appear that the prosecution proved (or even attempted to prove) that Amero herself, and not a student or students, was operating the computer at the time that the sites in question were visited. Given that the computers internet history cache shows that kid-centric websites such as crayola and hair-styling sites were visited, the prosecution's first argument appears to be unproven at best, and specious at worst.

The prosecution (and others) assert that Amero should have shut down the computer. This assertion makes some assumptions, namely that Amero was expert enough to know what was happening to the computer, and that Amero had the authority to remedy the situation by shutting down the computer. The prosecution proved neither. At the beginning of the day, the permanent class teacher logged onto the computer for Amero, giving explicit instructions not to log off from or shut off the computer. So, to shut down the computer - as the prosecution contended Amero should have done - would have been a direct violation of the teacher's instruction not to do so.

Also, when the incident occurred, Amero attempted to get rid of the popups by closing each popup window. Anyone with any experience with popup storms knows that this action will only invite further popup windows, usually at a rate beyond what is possible to keep up with. Amero, who is by no means a computer expert, did make a good-faith effort to get rid of the illicit images and to prevent the students from viewing them. She even asked for help from the school administration - help that, over the course of the school day, never came. So, the prosecution's second argument is an unproven claim based on an untrue assertion of the proper course of action in the incident.

In short, students - not Amero - were using the computer when the popup storm happened, the popups were generated by a script on a non-pornographic website, and Amero did try to prevent the students from viewing the images.

Worse than the prosecution's ridiculous case, is that nobody involved in the case (except the defense's expert, who was not allowed to present anything near his full testimony) has anything even resembling sufficient computer/internet literacy or expertise: the school board, the police, the prosecution, the defense attorney, the judge, the jury, or the defendant.

Perhaps I should exclude the school board; it is more likely that the board needed someone to take the fall for the incident, and chose Amero. Parents were outraged over their children being exposed to illicit images at school, and the board was forced to act. This action, of course, came after the vice principal initially told Amero not to worry at the end of the school day in question, when she went to the office for at least the second time that day, to report the incident. The first time she reported it, she was promised help, but nobody ever came to provide the promised help. If Amero's actions had been sufficiently criminal to warrant her arrest, why did the school not call the police at the time of the incident?

The police who investigated the case didn't even search for spyware on the computer, and the police investigator testified in the trial that an image coming from a given web site proves that someone had to intentionally go to that web site in order to see the image. This assertion is patently untrue. The defense's expert witness had evidence that the illicit images came first through a malware javascript link on ostensibly innocuous hair style web site. Both Amero and the students testified that the images were on popup windows, not a website proper.

Even to pursue this case proves the prosecution's lack of computer expertise. The defense attorney admitted to Alex Eckelberry that he had no computer expertise. This fact alone should be enough for an appeal - if not an outright mistrial. The judge upheld the prosecution's objection of perfectly reasonable defense testimony, was reportedly falling asleep during trial, and reportedly gave instructions to the jury for an expedited completion of the trial. The jury clearly had insufficient computer expertise, and were reportedly violating sequestering rules by discussing the case outside the courtroom. Amero's lack of computer expertise has already been addressed.

This case was a trial that should not have taken place, carried out by a judge, jury, and attorneys who should not have been involved, regarding a criminal charge that should not have been filed, against a completely innocent victim.

More commentary: ComputerWorld's Preston Gralla initially lauds the conviction. Alex Eckelberry refutes his opinion, after wich Gralla issues a mea culpa, and Eckelberry praises the change-of-opinion. Eckelberry also links to an AlterNet story about the case, as well as a Digg comment storm.

If you want to help, go to this website set up by Julie Amero's husband for information on the case and defense fund contributions.

Coverage of the Julie Amero Case:

Substitute Incrimination and Computer Injustice
Julie Amero Update

OYB February 10

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 30:11-38, Exodus 31
NT: Matthew 26:47-68
Ps: Psalm 32
Pr: Proverbs 8:27-32

Gospel Thread - OT:

You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

Exodus 30:29 (NIV)

This consecration - both of the tabernacle implements as well as the priests - was accomplished by anointing with the sacred anointing oil. Again, any reference the anointing in such instances as tabernacle/temple worship and the priesthood remind me of the messiah. Especially in this instance, I am reminded of the messiah, since God explicitly states here that anything that is anointed with the sacred oil is holy, and that whatever touches them will also be holy.

Gospel Thread - NT:

But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?

Matthew 26:54 (NIV)

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.

Matthew 26:56 (NIV)

This passage appears to be a fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. Of particular note, though, is that Jesus knew what the scriptures foretold, exactly what would happen to Him, and how what would happen to Him would fulfill the messianic prophecies. Jesus had a choice of whether or not He would endure everything He suffered, and He chose to love mankind enough to endure it all.

63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Matthew 26:63-64 (NIV)

It doesn't get much more point-blank than this exchange: "Are you the messiah?" "Yes." Jesus' claim here is so explicit that those who do not believe Him consider His words to be blasphemy, for He claims to be both the Messiah, and also to be God.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Psalm 32:1-2 (NIV)

Forgiveness: one of the great blessings of salvation through Jesus! For the believer, sin is covered by Jesus' shed blood, and the result is forgiveness. God chooses not to count our sins against us, because those sins are covered in Christ. Anyone who has experienced this forgiveness can appreciate the emotions of gratitude and relief that David expresses in this Psalm!

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB February 9

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 29, Exodus 30:1-10
NT: Matthew 26:14-46
Ps: Psalm 31:19-24
Pr: Proverbs 8:14-26

Gospel Thread - OT:

For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. There I will meet you and speak to you;

Exodus 29:42 (NIV)

The shedding of the blood of the sacrificial animals symbolized the blood of the Messiah to be shed for ultimate and perfect atonement for sin and propitiation of God's wrath upon the sin of mankind.

Gospel Thread - NT:

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:28 (NIV)

Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Passover meal known as the seder, which consists of a particular order of events and rituals, including the recounting of the Passover story, the eating of foods reminiscent of and as commanded by God for the Passover, the washing of hands, the offering of various blessings, and, in particular, the partaking of four cups of wine: the First Cup, the Cup of Sanctification; the Second Cup, the Cup of Plagues; the Third Cup, the Cup of Redemption; and the Fourth Cup, the Cup of Praise. The entire meal is rich in messianic symbolism. Matthew here is recounting the part of the Passover meal centered around the Third Cup of wine. First, the eating of the afikoman, then the bareich, and finally the Third Cup of Wine.

The afikoman is a piece of bread, broken earlier, wrapped in linen cloth and set aside. It is the afikomen that Jesus breaks and distributes to the disciples during the Lord's Supper. The bareich is the blessing spoken over the Third Cup. It is this blessing that Jesus offers. The Third Cup of Wine is the Cup of Redemption (or Cup of Blessing). It is this cup that Jesus refers to as "my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus is indicating that His blood will be shed in order to establish a new covenant between God and man. His blood will be shed as a propitiation for the punishment due for the collective sin of mankind, as an atonement and forgiveness for that sin, to redeem mankind from the bondage of and slavery to sin, and to bring God's blessing to man.

I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.

Matthew 26:29 (NIV)

The Fourth Cup of Wine is the Cup of Praise, and this cup symbolizes the time when God will gather His people to Himself. It is fitting that Jesus should tell His disciples that He will not drink of the cup again until He drinks of it in His Father's kingdom. For Christians, this fourth cup represents Christ's second coming, when He will gather His people to Himself, and prepare His bride for the great wedding banquet in His Father's kingdom.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

No direct gospel/messianic reference in today's Psalms/Proverbs reading.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB February 8

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 28
NT: Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 26:1-13
Ps: Psalm 31:9-18
Pr: Proverbs 8:12-13

Gospel Thread - OT:

Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.

Exodus 28:3 (NIV)

The garments of the High Priest foreshadow and symbolize our eventual High Priest, that is, Jesus Christ.

Gospel Thread - NT:

a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

Matthew 26:7 (NIV)

This anointing symbolized Jesus as the Christ, that is, the Annointed One.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

This passage is again perhaps a foreshadowing of Christ's lament during His persecution and his affliction on the cross.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.