Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Grandpa in Pictures

See part 1 for the story of Grandpa.

Grandpa and me

Grandpa, Jen, and me

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Being Preserved

all verse links are to the Recovery Version for comparison

In a copy of the NIV with footnotes written by Charles Ryrie:
Gal. 3:16
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. (NIV)
The note on this verse says:
seed. Since Paul's argument here is based on the singular form of the word in the OT (Gen. 22:17-18), he must have believed in the accuracy of the very words of Scripture.
Ryrie goes on to use this and another example from Matthew to explain the inerrancy of every word in the Bible—even singular, plural, or tenses of words are important.

However, when we come to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 or Hebrews 4:12,
spirit, soul and body should not be understood as defining the parts of man, but as representing the whole man.
Such is the contradiction by those who insist that man is merely two parts—body and soul (which is supposedly the same as the spirit)—and ignore or explain away the many verses in the Bible that speak of the three parts of man. In Greek, spirit is pneuma and soul is psuche, two distinct words. So according to the fact that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and inerrant, soul and spirit should refer to two distinct parts of man. The tendency to confuse the two is even apparent in the translation of the NIV in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 referred to above—the conjunction and is removed from between "spirit" and "soul," although it is unquestionably there in the original Greek text.

More important that simply being correct on this doctrinal point, however, is the idea put forth in the verses from 1 Thessalonians 5 that we must be preserved in all three parts of our being. Verse 23 uses two marvelous words, "(sanctify you) wholly" and "(be preserved) complete," to speak about this preservation. From the footnote, and explained in more depth in Life-study of 1 Thessalonians messages 23 and 24, wholly is quantitative and complete is qualitative. Therefore, we must not only know that we have three parts—spirit, soul, and body—but we must go on to know our three parts and open to the Lord that they be sanctified wholly and preserved completely.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Creative consultation by Jolene

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She lived in the woods with her father, who was an inventor. One of his inventions was a time machine. But she wasn't allowed to play in it. However, Goldilocks didn't always obey, and she was very curious.

So one day, when she was playing with her dog, her dog jumped into the time machine, and she climbed in to get him. But he jumped out to go chase his ball. She was about to climb out of the time machine, but she noticed that there was a spot on one of the buttons. Not wanting to leave it dirty, she started to wipe the spot off, but as it came off, the button accidentally depressed and started the time machine. Before she could climb out, the time machine went back 150 million years to the Age of the Dinosaurs.

Goldilocks climbed out of the time machine and heard a noise coming from the trees to her left. As she poked her head through some bushes, she saw a clearing, and right in the middle was a small Allosaurus. He had his leg caught in some logs and was trying to get it out.

Goldilocks walked over to him and said, "Hello." the Baby Allosaurus replied, "Can you help me get my leg out?" Goldilocks said, "Sure," and proceeded to wiggle his leg loose from the logs in which it was trapped. Just as the leg came loose, there was a terrible crashing and two larger Allosaurus came through the trees, roaring loudly. Goldilocks began to be a bit frightened, but the Baby Allosaurus looked at the larger dinosaurs and called, "Hi Daddy, hi Mommy, this person just helped me get my leg out." Goldilocks looked up at the fearsome predators and said, "Nice to meet you, my name is Goldilocks."

The smaller of the two adult dinosaurs replied, "I am the Mommy Allosaurus and this is the Daddy Allosaurus. Thank you for helping our Baby Allosaurus free his leg."

"You're welcome," said Goldilocks.

"We were about to get dinner," said the Baby Allosaurus, "would you like to join us?"

Goldilocks said she would and she followed the three carnivores as they stalked and caught a stegosaurus. After a delicious meal of stegosaurus steaks. Goldilocks said she had to be going and made her way back to the time machine. After getting in and going back to the instant she left, she realized that she had forgotten her camera and hadn't taken any pictures of her new friends.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


8/28/1919 to 11/26/2009

While many pages could be written about what Grandpa accomplished in his lifetime of over ninety years, one memory stands out to me.

Jen and I were visiting him and Grandma Dorothy several summers ago, about a year after we had finished the full-time training in Anaheim. On our way to Corning, I asked the Lord how Grandpa was with Him. I didn't know how to bring up the subject with someone so much older than me, and whom I respected to the uttermost. So as he and I were sitting on the sofa while Jen and Grandma Dorothy were off doing something else, I wanted to say something, but didn't know what.

That's when Grandpa turned to me and said something like, "You know, Ben, I feel like the Lord has been taking care of me my whole life."

I was first amazed, and then thankful to the Lord for answering my earlier prayer. Grandpa proceeded to tell me of an experience he had while in the Air Force, flying a large cargo plane. While flying in formation, the pilot to his left began to roll right too early, heading directly for Grandpa's plane. Grandpa gave it power and pulled up as fast as he could in a plane that large, causing the two to miss by less than 50 feet. Once on the ground, the other pilot was devastated thinking of the accident he had almost caused, but Grandpa was stern yet forgiving.

What was even more impressive than this story was how Grandpa's comment reflected the end of the life of another man of God, Jacob. Genesis 48:15-16 says:
And he blessed Joseph and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has shepherded me all my life to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; And may my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they be a teeming multitude in the midst of the earth.
Praise the Lord who both shepherded Jacob all his life, and who took care of Grandpa his whole life.

Every time we visited Grandpa in the last decade of his life, he always had a new story to tell me, one I had never heard before. And the final time we saw him, this past summer, he got to meet his Great-grandson, who shares his middle name, Jesse, and who is the first boy of his generation to bear the last name Gallarda.

Thank You, Lord, for Grandpa.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Windows 7

...or 6.1?

I skipped Vista (except for one machine in the lab that we have to run it on because a certain bit of microscopy software won't work with anything else). By the way, even on a pretty high-powered Dell Precision 690 workstaion with 12 GB of RAM and a medium/high-end Nvidia graphics card, Vista (64-bit) is still slow, annoying, and about as painful to use as Windows 98 on Jen's 233 MHz Pentium laptop she used in college. But this post isn't about Vista, it is about how much better Windows 7 is than Vista.

Since the Windows 7 Beta was released to the public on 1/9/09, I've ignored the advice not to run this on production machines and installed it on the second partition of my MacBook Pro. Through the Beta, the Release Candidate, and now with the RTM freshly installed, I've gotten the feeling that Windows 7 is finally giving Mac OS X a run for it's money (that is, until 10.6 came out). A few observations:
  1. Windows 7 is way faster than Vista, and is even faster than Windows XP on my machine.
  2. From the Beta through the RTM, it has been the most stable version of Windows I've ever used. I even ran a data analysis loop using IGOR Pro overnight and it didn't crash.
  3. The windows management—docking right, left, and top; aero previews, etc.—is actually a bit superior to the Mac. I really like being able to throw one window to the right of the screen and one to the left in order to compare their contents side-by-side. This works especially well on multiple monitors.
  4. Taskbar and Start Menu search make organizing and finding applications and files incredibly easy—comparable to Quicksilver on the Mac.
  5. Much like Mac OS X, there are just a lot of incremental changes that show that the developers paid good attention to detail to enhance the overall experience.
I'm still convinced that running Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro is best. The Mac still has a few design advantages over PCs that make it easier to use (like two-finger scrolling on the touchpad instead of that annoying side-scroll strip). But Windows 7 as a product is easily as good as Mac OS 10.5. With the advent of 10.6, Apple still seems to be one step ahead, integrating higher performance features into the OS in a user-friendly way—just check out the new services for an example. Not to mention that it is way easier to backup Windows from another partition (the Mac OS X one) on the same machine than from within Windows itself.

In sum, Windows 7 is a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft and upgrading from Windows XP was a no-brainer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Snow Leopard

Or Mac OS X 10.6.

It's out, it's been reviewed, so I'll add a simple comment.

Perhaps this is Apple's way of compromising with PowerPC users. If you have an older Mac, you are still able to run Leopard (10.5), an awesome operating system with great features and performance. You can't upgrade to Snow Leopard though, because it is Intel only. But, Snow Leopard doesn't include all the new features that differentiated 10.5 from 10.4; in fact, most of it's touted features are aimed at the higher-powered Intel-based machines (Grand Central Dispatch, OpenCL). Therefore, if you are still using a PowerPC Mac, you shouldn't be too put out by not being able to use Snow Leopard, and should stay happy running one of the best operating systems ever, Leopard, on an older machine.

Finally, the last PowerPC-based Macs were made around 2006, so by the time 10.7 or whatever is next rolls around, it will be high time to buy a new machine to take advantage of it.

Image by Ltshears;
and can be found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Snow_Leopard_Louisville_Zoo.jpg

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Matthew 28:19

Apparently, there is some controversy about the actual reading of Matthew 28:19, which I read as: Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (RcV)

But the arguments surrounding this verse are misleading for two main reasons. First, there are plenty of old texts of the New Testament, both Greek and translations, that contain this verse as written, some of which predate AD 300. There are no manuscripts or versions (i.e. translations) of Matthew that contain a different reading. This is easily verified by studying the critical apparatus in Novum Testamentum Graece 27th ed. compiled by Nestle and Aland. God sovereignly arranged for the existing manuscripts of the New Testament to be preserved, discovered, and studied, and I appreciate the scholarship that gives us an amazingly accurate text of the New Testament. Furthermore, difficult readings (such as this one) are actually somewhat common in the New Testament, and it is a tenant of textual criticism to take a more difficult reading over an easier one.

Second, and more importantly, one of the items of our Christian faith is that the Bible is the Word of God. Based on our being infused with Christ Himself as our faith when we believed into Him, we similarly believe God's Word as we have it. Advancing ideas that require one to doubt the actual text of the New Testament, replacing it with unsupported alternative readings undermines this belief. Unfortunately, such "analysis" is usually based on a certain theological predisposition, which does not match the Christian faith at all.

So in sum, those who are healthy in the faith should have no problem with such arguments, as they spontaneously believe God's word and reject alternatives to it. But, as believers, it doesn't hurt to be aware that both according to the historical record (Biblical manuscripts) and according to the faith delivered once for all to the saints (our Triune God embodied in Christ realized as the Spirit infused into us), Matthew 28:19 will read as it does for eternity.

Matthew 29:19b-20a; Codex Vaticanus (ca. 4th century). Courtesy of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts - www.csntm.org and images.csntm.org/Manuscripts/GA_03/GA03_024a.jpg for the text.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Language and Thought

What comes first, language or thought?

If thought comes first, how is it interpreted subjectively before words are known to express the thought? For example, if a baby wants a ball, they might perceive a visualization of the ball in their hands, when in fact it is several feet away from them. Then, as they begin to learn a vocabulary, words replace the image—"I want ball!"

But if language comes first, that would imply that learning language governs our thought processes; that our ability to think is dependent on the language we have. Back to the ball example, the baby may not even know they want the ball until they have learned the words "want" and "ball"; not that they could speak them per se, but that the thoughts in their head are expressed as these words. This second option would suggest a great deal about our ability to think, create, and invent, and even to learn new languages. It is rather difficult to learn a new language when your thinking patterns are expressed solely in the originally learned language.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


While taking a break from The Two Trees, I thought to provide a brief intermission. But not to go without any content, here is the results on looking into the meaning of the word good as it is used in the New Testament.

Kalon is a Greek word used in the New Testament, commonly translated as "good." After looking into it a bit more, I was impressed that good means more than simply "not bad." It means "...beautiful applied by the Greeks to everything so distinguished in form, excellence, goodness, usefulness, as to be pleasing; hence beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable" (Thayer's). It is translated in the Recovery Version of the New Testament as: good, fine (Matt. 13:45), better (Matt. 18:8), noble and good (Luke 8:15 – kalon is translated noble here; good in this verse is the Greek word agathos, where we get our name Agatha), beautiful (Luke 21:5), Fair Havens (Acts 27:8), honorable (Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21), approved…good (2 Cor. 13:7), respectable…good (Titus 3:8), excellent…good (1 Pet. 2:12). Finally, in an entry on synonyms in Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament, it is implied that Kalon is more than just being the best one can be, but rather is the best anything can be. This made me consider that although anyone can live a human life that is not bad,it is only by receiving Christ as our life and living Him out that we can actually have a life that is described as Kalon. For this, we need a heart as good earth to receive the word as the good seed (Matt. 13:19, 8, 24), to bear good fruit as good trees (Matt. 12:33), and we need to receive and hold the good teaching (1 Tim. 4:6), so that we'll be the fine pearl, so precious to the Lord that He sold everything to buy it (Matt. 13:45).

In today's age, when good for many describes doing the minimum required and staying out of trouble, it is refreshing to see that for others, good describes something much higher.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Two Trees I-3

Act I, Scene 3

Nabal: Ok, I'll humor you, what is the Bible about, other than shepherds and camel traders?

Abel: The Bible is an amazing historical document. It proves that God exists and that Judaism was His revealed religion before Christ came and that Christianity is His revealed religion after.

Nabal: Why would God, if He is so great and almighty, care about petty human religion? And why would one of many religions be any better than the others when they are all the same?

Abel: All those other religions aren't God's revealed religion. It's His will that we follow His revealed religion...Stewart, you said you read the Bible, isn't that God's will?

Stewart: The Bible does talk about God's will, but I think His will is mainly related to Christ.

Abel: See Nabal, Stewart's right, and Christ revealed that Christianity is God's religion that we should follow so that we can go to heaven when we die. Right Stewart?

Stewart: Uhh...

Abel: Maybe it will help if we explain the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Brian: Yeah, I've always wondered why there are two parts to the Bible. And why are they called "Testaments"?

Stewart: A testament is like a will—various accomplishments bequeathed to the inheritors.

Abel: Right, and in the New Testament, God gave us Christianity and the way to go to heaven, and in the Old Testament, God gave us Judaism and the Law, which was replaced by Christianity, and certain facts about creation and the world.

Nabal: Certain facts? Like what?

Abel: Well, the Law tells us about good and evil...

Nabal: Those are just societal constructs to keep us from behaving in antisocial ways.

Brian: Are you dating a sociology major? Where did you learn that psychobabble?

Nabal: She's just a friend...it's not my fault she's not into the hard sciences.

Abel: ...and Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament tells us that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Nabal: Come on! Everything we've studied and everything we know shows the earth is older than that, by several orders of magnitude... next you're going to tell me the earth is flat too.

Abel: When it comes to the Bible versus science, I'll take the Bible, since it is infallible. Every word in the Bible is accurate and precise, and the Bible explicitly says the earth is only 6,000 years old. Evolution is...

Brian: Speaking of science, even if you don't believe it, we're going to be tested on neuroscience tomorrow and might want to finish up our studying before the library closes.

Stewart: All we had left was the electrophysiology chapter. Can we maybe go over how an action potential works and call it a day?

Brian: So, I think there are two main types of ions involved in the membrane voltage changes during an action potential, sodium and potassium...


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Two Trees I-2

Act I, Scene 2

Voice: Attention all students and library patrons. The library will be closing in thirty minutes.

Brian: Before you guys get into this, are we finished studying?

Nabal: I'm good, let's have this discussion Abel, no, I haven't heard of apologetics. But I definitely think you should apologize for reading the Bible.

Abel: That's not what "apologetics" means, the term refers to the systematic defense of God's existence and the truth of Christianity. It is the fundamental theme of the New Testament of the Bible.

Stewart: Are you guys sure you don't want to study for a few more minutes.

Abel: Well...

Nabal: I'm done, you guys study. What do you mean by "defense" of God's existence. How can you defend a falsehood. Don't you know that Darwin proved God didn't exist. You should really read some of the latest books on this, they'll clear you up in no time. Back me up here, Stewart, Brain, haven't you guys read Dawkins' latest?

Brian: Richard Dawkins?

Nabal: Yeah, now that guy knows the Bible—what a load of rubbish it is anyway.

Stewart: I beg to differ.

Nabal: What?

Stewart: That Richard Dawkins knows the Bible. He makes some mistakes in discussing it in The God Delusion. For example, in trying to assign motives to Matthew and Luke in writing each of their Gospels, he claims that Luke included kings worshiping Jesus as a child in order to impress the Gentiles who would read his Gospel.

Nabal: So?

Stewart: So, the Magi, or kings, coming from the east to worship Jesus was detailed in Matthew's Gospel, not Luke's. Dawkins made a mistake.

Nabal: Ahh, that's just a technicality.

Stewart: Also, I'd like to clear something up from before. You implied that I wouldn't be someone who reads the Bible. Well, I do read the Bible. Science is interesting and intellectually stimulating, and I'm glad we are studying it. But in order to satisfy something deep in me that longs for more, the Bible is just what I need. It sounds like Abel knows this as well. If you've never read the Bible, Nabal, you should at least give it a try. That's what any open-minded scientist would do, right? At least read something you want to disagree with to find out for yourself why it is wrong.

Nabal: That's why I read books by Richard Dawkins...

Brian: But that's just his point Nabal. If Stewart is right, Dawkins didn't even get all his facts straight when talking about the Bible in his book. I've never read the Bible either, but as a scientist, I would never dismiss something until I understood it's main point, and why that point is wrong. Isn't that what science is about—forming hypotheses, then testing them. It seems to me you've formed a hypothesis about the Bible, but are unwilling to test it.

Nabal: You guys are crazy.

Abel: No, they're just saying you need to read the Bible and understand it before you dismiss it. And when it comes to understanding the Bible, I'd be happy to help you.