Archives For Clint Archer

My first job after college was as a high school Computer Science teacher. To further my usefulness to the school they paid for me to attend an advanced computer hardware course. About half way through the twelve-week course I was summoned to the headmaster’s office. He informed me that the lecturer of the hardware course happened to be a parent of a kid at our school. This dad had told the headmaster that the grade I had gotten on the first module of the course was the highest grade in the (four year) history of the computer school, namely 99%. I began basking in the proverbial pat on the back I presumed I was about to receive, when the whole experience took an unexpected turn.

the-theoryThe headmaster then held up two sheets of paper for me to inspect, and said, “I was wondering if you could explain this: here is one bill for your computer course tuition which we paid in full on your behalf. And here is another bill, payment pending, which has been authorized by you, for hiring an outside computer technician to install and repair the computer network in the school’s Computer Science lab.”

So that’s where this pat on the back was going! Blushing from embarrassment, I then had to explain that the first module, which I had aced, was the theory part of the course. It consisted only of facts and diagrams that had to be memorized.

I had regurgitated the text book and aced the exams, but I still had never actually seen the inside of a computer. I had never laid eyes on a network card, never installed a program, never as much as plugged in a monitor!

But I assured him that the following week we were starting the practical module where I would be taught how to install and repair the items I’d read about. (I barely passed that module, which was evident in my incompetency as a network administrator, and I was presently transferred to teach in the English department).

Often Christians score highly in the theory module of faith. We can memorize verses, recite creeds, debate deep theology, and explain complex doctrines. But unfortunately we frequently fail to actually apply what we learn to our own lives.

Doctrine must always produce practice.

3 parts of the practical module of the Christian life…

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destinationSome time ago my wife and I flew to Europe from our home in South Africa. We first had to take a domestic flight from Durban to the international airport in Johannesburg. Everyone on that domestic flight was appropriately dressed for the blazing heat and oppressive humidity of midsummer—shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. We were wearing jeans, boots, long-sleeved tops, and were carrying sweaters and snow jackets.

We disembarked at the uncomfortably warm domestic terminal and we made our sticky, sweaty way to the international terminal. That’s when we started seeing more folk with the northern hemisphere in mind. It was easy to tell who was leaving and who was staying by their clothing. The travelers were not concerned about appearances at the airport because they would only be there for a few hours, and in a short while would be grateful for their warm clothes.

Why? Because they had set their minds on a European winter, not an African summer.

Can onlookers tell what your final destination is by the way you behave? Or do you live like this life is your final destination?

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letterBefore e-mail it was rare to mistakenly send a missive to the wrong person. But these days it is a gaffe people make with great frequency and sometimes dire consequences.

In January 2014 Oxford University College accidentally sent a broadcast e-mail to all students, instead of just the academic staff, listing the names and grades of the 50 worst performers.

In 2000, 15-year-old Claire MacDonald in Devon UK began receiving classified e-mails from the Pentagon. Her address had erroneously been added to a list of security council officials with top secret clearance. One mail included New Zealand’s entire naval defense strategy. Another mail, ironically, was the American security council offering advice to the UK on how to prevent the leaking of sensitive documents.

Stipulating to whom your letter is addressed is as important as its content. This is a lesson we learn from Jude 1b. Here we discover in whose inbox Jude intended this mail to land. And it may shock you to learn that one of the addresses in his list may well be yours…

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2 point 0Here’s an idea if you ever decide to play a sadistic but entertaining prank to humble your precocious young nephew. I’m not saying I’ve done it (my sister might read this), but if I did, this is how I would:

Start by supplying him with an innocuous “spot the difference” challenge that he can easily conquer. The two pictures should have several obvious differences. Then you hand him one where the differences are more subtle, and take longer to notice. Then, once his confidence is primed, you raise the stakes with an incentive of a sugary reward, say, one M&M per difference he spots. When he greedily accepts, you hand him two pictures that unbeknown to him are actually identical, and then leave him to stew in his frustration.

Just be sure the photocopy you use is of high quality. In my experience estimation, a determined enough youngster will exploit the minutest discrepancies in the print-quality to garnish his chocolaty bounty.

It doesn’t take a preternatural eye for detail to spot the differences between Israel and the Church. And yet, many Christians ignore the clear distinction in favor of an emphasis on a vague similitude.

Perhaps you’ve heard it phrased this way: “The Church has replaced Israel as the recipient of God’s covenants,” or more bluntly “The Church is the New Israel.”

What I am arguing is that the Church has not replaced Israel and is not the modern day recipient of the blessings made to Israel. Promises made to Israel (e.g. land, cursing such as exile for disobedience, and restoration after repentance), are not now promises to the Church because Israel 1.0 has been replaced by a new Israel 2.0 like an old operating system that gets deleted to make room for a new one.

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In the afterglow of the Rio 2016 Summer Games, I thought I’d reprise this quirky piece of recent Olympic history. The 2012 London Olympics saw a scandalous badminton debacle, which provides an apt metaphor for many Christian lives. Our Lord was fond of these types of real-life snapshots of poor stewardship and its consequence. The New Testament parables are peppered with stewards who weren’t faithful to their assignments (e.g. Luke12:45; Matt 25:26-27).shuttlecock

Here’s a quick recap of the farcical fiasco. At the London games eight of the ladies’ doubles badminton players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia were disqualified for, in the words of the International Olympic Committee’s VP, Craig Reedie, “not using one’s best efforts to win a match.” I love it.

The players had all made it through the elimination round and were apparently attempting to lose their games in the hopes of attaining a more lenient placing in the next round. Can you imagine the spectacle of expert athletes trying to lose to each other? These national superstars (evidently badminton is big in Asia) weren’t simply lagging a little in their enthusiasm, they were all willfully playing terribly.

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Have you ever waited so long for a promise that you when it arrives you don’t believe it? Perhaps your boyfriend promised to propose when he felt “ready.” But half a decade later, you’d lost hope, and when he finally did get down on one knee you thought he was tying his shoe-lace.me cynical

I had such an experience some years ago. I had ordered a landline from our country’s only (monopolized) national telephone service provider. With no competition to rival it, this service provider was not known for its promptness or customer satisfaction. So, I ordered the line about three months before I was ready to move into my new house, thinking I was beating the system.

After moving in, early in March, and without any trace of a telephone connection, I began a weekly routine of calling to ask about the progress of my line. I was repeatedly assured that the line would be installed by August.

August came and went—twice.

Then, one fine day, out of the blue, I received a call on my cellphone from a lady who claimed to be an employee. She casually asked if I would be home the next day, because my landline was to be installed. There was an awkward pause as I considered which of my friends was playing a cruel joke on me. I decided to play along and assured her in a sardonic tone that I would be eagerly awaiting the workman the next day.

To my bemusement, the very next day—two and a half years after the order—a pleasant gentleman arrived wearing coveralls and an air of nonchalance. He effortlessly completed the job, which took all of twelve minutes. By this point I had cycled through all the normal stages—denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance—and so I expressed my genuine gratitude for a job well-done. He smiled knowingly and chided me for my doubt with a hackneyed line he’d proffered countless times, “We said we’d get to it, we just didn’t say when.”

That is why I have sympathy for Zechariah. Continue Reading…

Nadia-CWe usually think of perfection as an ideal for which athletes aim rather than a goal anyone seriously expects to achieve. After all, nobody’s perfect. But that all changed at the Montreal Summer Olympics when a young Romanian girl achieved the impossible.

On July 18, 1976, fourteen-year-old Nadia Comăneci represented Romania in the gymnastics team event. Spectators watched in riveted silence as she confidently completed a mesmerizingly ambitious and astonishingly flawless routine on the uneven bars . . . until the instant her feet planted an unfaltering dismount, which generated an avalanche of applause. But the jubilation dissipated suddenly when her result appeared on the digital display: Comăneci’s brilliant performance had scored only 1.0.

In gymnastics, a panel of judges rates each performance according to its difficulty, creativity, and the technical proficiency of its execution. The highest and lowest figures are discarded and the final score represents an average of the remaining numbers. The highest number a judge can give is a perfect 10, and every judge would need to give a 10 in order for the cumulative score to be 10.

one-point-o

Because this is so unlikely, the electronic score board only allowed space for a single digit on the left side of the decimal point: the maximum number it could show was 9.9, which means it displayed Comăneci’s score as 1.0 instead of the perfect 10 the judges had awarded for the first time in Olympic history. An apologetic voice over the public address system explained the error and the crowd roared to ovation.

Little Nadia was—gymnastically speaking—the world’s first perfect woman.

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sporkIn November 2015 Glamour Magazine named, as its “Woman of the Year”, Caitlyn Jenner. The audacity of this selection sparked a seismic social media commotion of polarized opinions about the magazine’s bold move to name as its woman of the year… a man. Yes, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is a male.

His erstwhile fame was well-earned by winning the gold medal in the men’s decathlon event at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games. His newfound celebrity comes from simply declaring that he believes he is actually a woman. What makes him a woman is that a) he says he is one, b) he dresses in feminine clothing and make-up, c) he had some cosmetic surgery to give his face the appearance of femininity. And that was enough to become a covergirl for Vanity Fair and so validate and celebrate his delusion.

If a man believes he is Napoleon Bonaparte, we recommend therapy. It would be a cruel joke for anyone to suggest putting him on the cover of Leadership Magazine as dictator of the year.

As followers of our compassionate Savior, Christians need to demonstrate a sincere compassion for people who are so confused about who God made them to be that they resort to cross-dressing. But that sympathy does not mean we should ignore what the word of God says about gender roles in the family, in society, and in the church.

I don’t know of a biblical topic on which there is no debate, but women’s roles are one of the most controversial. And of all gender-related matters, the question of women deacons is the one on which there is the most disparity of application in churches that otherwise agree on gender issues. Gender wars have no place in the church, because God has left us with clear instructions on the topic. But this is one issue that still causes great confusion.

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baconBefore I travel to a new country I investigate if there are any peculiar laws I need to observe. Luckily I have never had to verify any of these for myself – but they are on the internet so they must be true, right?

In Thailand it is illegal to leave your house without wearing any underwear. In Israel it is illegal to bring bears to the beach. Ireland has prohibited its citizens from pretending to perform any type of witchcraft, enchantment, or occultic practices. It’s not against the law to actually perform them, just to pretend to perform them.

In Canada you may not pay for an item that costs 50c using only 1c coins, you may not water your garden if it is raining, and citizens may not remove bandages in public.

The local law in Chelsea, UK prohibits impersonating an elderly person. (That’s not preventing rude youth from mocking old people, it’s because pensioners are entitled to a housing subsidy, so pretending to be one is considered fraud.)

There’s much confusion among Christians as to which laws in the Bible apply to us. When we decry homosexuality (which was condemned in the Mosaic Law) but still eat bacon (which was also condemned in the Mosaic Law), are we just being arbitrarily selective?

THREE QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND LAW CODES & HOW THEY APPLY TO US…

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Buyer’s remorse often grips people just after they indulge in an expensive purchase. It’s a cognitive dissonance of the “what if” factor. What if what I bought isn’t as good as what I didn’t buy; what if I can’t afford it and will regret the expense later? Marketing pundits have come up with ways to ease the buyer’s distress. There are two main ways to do this.a bag of regret

The first tactic is to offer a reasonable exchange policy. If you regret your choice and change your mind you can simply return the item or exchange it for a different one. It’s the old “take the puppy home and if you want, just return it in a couple of days” routine.

The other method is a bit more crude, but just as effective: you remove the chance of buyer’s remorse caused by too many choices by limiting the choices. Apple does this. They don’t have 100 different laptops they have the Macbook –Air or –Pro in one color and two sizes. And when a new model hits the rack, the former choices evaporate into oblivion. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. But for this to work, you need a superior product.

In your spiritual life God has made your choice simple: the true, living, loving, all-powerful saving God, or dead idols who can’t save.

Joshua’s parting words to the nation of Israel was a simple case of choose your love, and then love your choice.

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