3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679821480

865132823066470938446095505822317253594081284811174502841027019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659

334461284756482337867831652712019091456485669234603486104543266482133936072602491412737245870066063155881748

815209209628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841469519415116094330572703657595919530921861173

819326117931051185480744623799627495673518857527248912279381830119491298336733624406566430860213949463952247

371907021798609437027705392171762931767523846748184676694051320005681271452635608277857713427577896091736371

787214684409012249534301465495853710507922796892589235420199561121290219608640344181598136297747713099605187

072113499999983729780499510597317328160963185950244594553469083026425223082533446850352619311881710100031378

387528865875332083814206171776691473035982534904287554687311595628638823537875937519577818577805321712268066

130019278766111959092164201989380952572010654858632788659361533818279682303019520353018529689957736225994138

912497217752834791315155748572424541506959508295331168617278558890750983817546374649393192550604009277016711

390098488240128583616035637076601047101819429555961989467678374494482553797747268471040475346462080466842590

694912933136770289891521047521620569660240580381501935112533824300355876402474964732639141992726042699227967

823547816360093417216412199245863150302861829745557067498385054945885869269956909272107975093029553211653449

872027559602364806654991198818347977535663698074265425278625518184175746728909777727938000816470600161452491

921732172147723501414419735685481613611573525521334757418494684385233239073941433345477624168625189835694855

620992192221842725502542568876717904946016534668049886272327917860857843838279679766814541009538837863609506

800642251252051173929848960841284886269456042419652850222106611863067442786220391949450471237137869609563643

71917287467764657573962413890865832645995813390478027590...

Now, that’s a mere 1,999 digits out of an infinite number of digits.  Anybody care to guess what the 2,000th digit is?  Here’s a hint: It’s somewhere from 0 to 9.  OK, so that’s not very helpful.  Here’s another hint: The number is x, such that if x  I (“I” represents the set of integers), for any y  I, x + y = y.  Still don’t get it?  OK, here’s a hint you can’t possibly miss: If the so-called “progressives” in government have their way, how much money will you have left in your bank account after paying all of your taxes?

And by the way, π is an irrational number, meaning that it cannot be expressed as the quotient of 2 integers and that the number of digits is infinite and without pattern.  And, contrary to popular belief, 22/7 is an approximation of π (22/7 = 3.14285…) but not quite π.  Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC), Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer believed that 22/7 was the maximum value of π but not its actual value.

OK, so why is today, March 14, 2013 “Pi Day”?  Well the year has nothing to do with it but the month and the day do.  See, “March 14” can also be expressed as “3/14” or even “3.14”; it’s this latter expression of today’s date which signifies the first three digits of π. 

So, how is “Pi Day” celebrated?  Well one way is to bake—and eat—“π pies” such as this delectable “apple π pie” (left) or, for you cheesecake fanatics such as myself, this luscious “cheesecake π pie” :

But there’s more…

As I understand it, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) sends out their admissions acceptance (or rejection) letters on March 14 each year.  Want more?  Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879.  Coincidence, I think not! 

What about Scripture?  Is π mentioned anywhere in the Bible?  Ah, now there’s a challenge!  In 1 Kings 7.23-26 (also reiterated in 2 Chronicles 4.2) it says,

23Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.26It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, as a lily blossom; it could hold two thousand baths. (1 Kings 7.23,26)

The “he” in this passage is Hiram, king of Type, a Phoenician

Now, let’s do the math (this is, after all, “Pi Day”).  Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  In this case, it appears that π = 3, “thirty cubits in circumference” / “ten cubits from brim to brim.”  We could let it go at that and simply say that this is simply an approximation.  After all, 1) a cubit is the distance between a person’s elbow and the tip of their finger, a non-standard unit of measure which varies from person to person but is generally considered to be about 18” in length, 2) the Bible is not a math book, and 3) this is a blog, not a Bible commentary.

I could let it go at that.  But if I let it go at that, well, I’m not letting it at that.  Note that it also says that the circular sea of cast metal was “a handbreadth thick.”  This is another non-standard unit of measure generally accepted to be about 4” in length.  So, here the math:

  • Outer diameter = 180” (10 cubits X 18”/cubit);
  • Outer radius = 90” (180” / 2 [d = 2r]);
  • Inner radius = 86” (90” – 4”/handbreadth).

Now, I will need to make an assumption here, namely that the given circumference of 30 cubits is an inner, as opposed to outer, circumference (it does not specify which one it is as it does with the “brim to brim” diameter).  If so, then:

  • Inner circumference = 540” (30 cubits X 18”/cubit [C = 2πr]);
  • Inner circumference = 540” = 2π(86) = 172π;
  • π = 540”/172”;
  • π = 3.139534… or 3.14 @ three significant digits.

There!

So, the Phoenicians, who also gave us our alphabet (hence the word “phonetics”) had determined that the value of π was around 3.14.  Whether they came up with this on their own or got it from another civilization it is not clear, as the value of π correct to a handful of decimal places has been around even before Solomon’s temple was built around 1000 BC. 

Next up: Square Root Day!  That’s the day when the digits for the month, day, and the last two digits for the year all have perfect square roots.  The last Square Root Day was on September 9, 2009—get it, 9/9/9 with perfect square roots of 3-3-3.  The next one is coming up on April 4, 2016, 4/4/16 with perfect square roots of 2-2-4.  And if you’re hoping I won’t write another blog until then, you’re being as irrational as π.

God bless!

CalvinCuban

 

Why is the media acting so surprised that Pope Francis is Catholic?  What did they expect, that he would promote abortion or some other liberal/leftist agenda?  This could only mean one of two things with regards the media:

  1. Sheer stupidity, or
  2. Grandstanding.

And the winner is--#2!

That the media is 1) biased and 2) liberal is the "duh! factor."  Of course they knew that Pope Francis would be pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and such.  He is also pro-poor people and anti-oppressive government.  But do they report that?  Of course not; that might actually make him appear favorable--and we wouldn't want that, now would we?  

Long gone are the days when the media accurately and fairly reported the news that we needed to know.  They now report the "news" they want us to believe.

If only we Christians were as good at gospel-proclaimimg as the media is at BS'ing!

God bless

CalvinCuban

 

 

Seeing isn't believingnot always, at any rate.  Consider the following illusions:

Stare at any one white dot ant an intersection and watch the others disappear:

Stare at the crosshair long enough and the pink dots seem to disappear:

The overlapping black arc segments appear to form a spiral; however, the arcs are a series of concentric circles:

The red-orange lines are strictly horizontal/vertical, and fullyparallel/perpendicular to each other, but may appear otherwise:

This is my all-time favorite...  

The square A is exactly the same shade of gray as square B:

Don't believe me?  Here's proof:

Once you isolate the squares in question from the others their true colors become apparent.

To see more click here.

No doubt you are thinkng...is there any spiritual significance to any of this?  Sure there is.  I find that, just as these images are misleading, the reason many of us are misled by so many falseor no-so-great, at bestteachings, doctrines, ideologoes, and the like is that we either don't know, don't believe, or don't apply the truths of the Scripture.  Consider these warnings from Paul,

14As a result [i.e., of being equipped in the church], we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Romans 4.14)

6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. (1 Timothy 4.6)

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4.1-4)

So, there you have it.  Seeing isn't always believing, and neither should we believe everything we see, hear, or read.  Take advantage of the equipping your church makes available, be it a small group, formal classes via Rio West University, Sunday morning teachings, and so on; then be a good Timothy!

God bless

CalvinCuban

Any Moody Blues fans (or former fans, such as me) reading this?  I used to love this group, attended one of their concerts back in ’73, still have an LP (that’s “long-playing,” as in an analog, vinyl disc of yesteryear) somewhere in my garage.

Question of Balance was their sixth album, released in 1970.  It was less psychedelic and orchestral than their previous albums, and less dubbed over so as to be easier to perform in concert, and aimed as a protest to the Vietnam War (although none of the songs directly addressed the war).  The lead song, “Question,” was written by lead singer and guitarist Justin Hayward and, in a later interview I saw, he claimed that it was originally intended to be two separate songs, one “fast and furious” challenging the establishment, “Why do we never get an answer, when we’re knocking at your door, because the truth is hard to swallow, that’s what the war of love is for…” and the other, soft, mellow, and reflective, “I’m looking for someone to change my life; I’m looking for a miracle in my life…”  And if you want to hear the song you can see it here:

Warning: the video is kinda cheesy & obnoxious (features a revolving/rotating album cover) but the soundtrack is good.

But that’s not why I’m writing this blog entry.  I’m writing because I have been questioning the notion and veracity of balance lately.  It appears to me that the word is idealized as though it were synonymous with truth and excellence.  And something which happened this past weekend (that would be March 22-23, 2013) brought it to the forefront of my mind.

Four of us from RWCC drove down to El Paso for a regional GCLI (Great Commission Leadership Institute, GCC’s leadership program) meeting.  We have these meetings twice a year and we normally rotate between El Paso, Phoenix, and here in Rio Rancho.  At these meetings we normally have a time of prayer, reports from the different churches, and a couple of presentations by one or two of the pastors on the most recent GCLI position paper (documents reflecting where GCC pastors stand on a variety of issues).  Last spring we were supposed to discuss “Arminianism & Calvinism,” to be presented by me, but the paper was not available in time and I was asked to hold off on it until it was published.

In June, 2012 at the Pastor’s Conference a panel of four GCC pastors presented their views on Romans 9.  One pastor gave a Calvinist interpretation (i.e., Paul is addressing the predestination of individuals), two pastors presented an Arminian perspective (i.e., Paul is addressing nations and not the predestination of individuals), and the fourth pastor was somewhere in the middle.  It is the middle perspective which I want to address here, the so-called balanced view as it is generally referred to.  

Back to this past weekend…  I gave my presentation on Friday evening on the subject of Romans 9 and the broader issue of Arminianism and Calvinism.  I provided a 14-page handout which included a comprehensive list of definitions on the issue as well as the content of the presentation.  The presentation itself consisted of a synopsis of what the pastors stated on Romans 9 back in June of last year followed by a historical perspective on the issue ranging from the fifth century through the Reformation, rhetorical questions on why we have so many disagreements over this and numerous other issues, and an appeal for unity.  In that last regard I used the story of George Whitefield and John Wesley (same one I used in a previous Sunday teaching a few months back on the “Unity of the Church”).  What I did not do was to take sides, even though I made known my Calvinist leanings up front.

Because my presentation did not end until 9.15p (I was told I had an hour and I was faithful to that request—for once), there was no time for discussion that night; rather, we decided to have a question-and-answer-and-comment session on Saturday morning.  It appears that the presentation was received well even though at the start there was some apprehension from some folks (this is what I was told) that it might turn factious.  It did notat all.  Towards the end of the discussion time the pastor of the host church in El Paso asked the attenders (about 40, mostly from El Paso but also a handful from Phoenix and the four of us from RWCC) where they stood on this issue.  The results did not surprise me: three leaned towards Calvinism (I being one of the three), none towards Arminianism (I had expected at least one or two), and practically everyone else smack dab in the middle (which as I just stated, did not surprise me one bit).

You see, in the minds of most folks it really is a question of balance.  There is something safe about being in the middle.  Penguins in the Antarctic who keep to the middle are more likely to survive the freezing temperatures.  In politics being in the middle is considered fair and balanced—and wise, conciliatory, peacemaking—taking into account all issues, maintaining a proper perspective, and acknowledging that there is some truth on both sides of an issue; what could possibly be more balanced than that!  Even with respects to nutrition most dieticians ask us to be balanced, not too much fat, not too much protein, not too many carbs.  There’s even a buttery spread called “Smart Balance,”

I mean, how can anyone go wrong when they’re eating something that’s balanced, and smart-ly so, at that! 

But wait…exactly what is balanced here?  Certainly not the fats with the carbs and the protein (the latter two are 0g/serving).  Are the chemicals balanced?  And if so, with respect to what?  And the only thing “smart” about this product is that you have to be a biochemist to even read some of the ingredients, much less know what they are.  Seriously, when’s the last time you said, “please pass thedl α tocopheryl acetate at the dinner table?

Obviously, this is nothing more than a marketing ploy to get folks to buy it.  Most folks, you see, want to be balanced and to avoid extremes.  Madison Ave. understands this quite well.  And yes, this fact can be proved mathematically.  In fact, it is widely used in statistics in a whole range of disciplines (e.g., sociology, psychology, business, engineering).  I believe you’ve seen this before; it’s called the bell curve.

For you math geeks reading this, here’s the formula:

It is also known as the normal distribution curve, as it applies to all sorts of statistical measures (e.g., distribution of IQ points, blood type, public opinion on a whole host of issues, return on investments).  Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not in the Bible!

Now, looking at the generic bell curve chart up there you can imagine that in a typical American evangelical church about 15% are Arminians and 15% Calvinists, with 3% in each case being more committed to their respective doctrine.  And then there is the middle majority, the balanced bunch, about 70%, who see some good points and some things they’re not too comfortable with on either of the two sides. 

It needs to be noted that political, philosophical, and religious views change, providing new data and necessitating that the curve be redrawn to accommodate shifts in perspective.  Case in point: 20 or so years ago only a small minority of Americans supported civil unions, much less gay “marriage.”  Those folks were on one of the extremes (we’ll say the “left”).  Today, however, about half of Americans support gay “marriage” (75% among the 18-29 crowd), and an additional 30% or so are in favor of civil unions only.  In other words, the previous left is now the majority middle.  And a similar thing has happened with Calvinist and Arminian beliefs since the Reformation; first the majority were Calvinists, then the majority were Arminian, and now the majority are in the middle.  Not surprising.

But is the truth always to be found in the middle?  Well, obviously not when it comes to so-called “healthy” buttery spreads, and even less so when it comes to opinions on marriage.  Facts change, but the truth does not change.  “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3.6); “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14.6).  My first point here is that Truth = Jesus = God = “do not change.”  My second point is that the truth is to found only where God reveals it; that would be Scripture, first and foremost—regardless of public opinion.

In Revelation 3.14-22 Christ addresses a letter to the “church and Laodicea” and tells them this,

15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3.15-16)

I taught on this on the fourth/last of my series on “Seven Letters to Seven Churches” (last summer).  I find that by far most Christians misinterpret this passage to think that hot is good, cold is bad, but that lukewarm is even worse than cold.  Actually, a study of the history and geography of the area reveals that both the hot and cold waters which were piped into the city were useful, but that the lukewarm water was not.  Regardless, this serves as an illustration that being in the middle may be the majority perspective but not always God’s perspective.  Just a thought.

This analogy fits in quite nicely in the Arminian vs. Calvinism debate.  You see, the five principles or doctrines of each position actually form a solid logical system in each case.  My perspective is that Calvinism is truer to the teachings in Scripture than Arminianism, but I will grant my Arminian brothers and sisters grace, of course, but also acknowledge the logic of their doctrine as being fairly sound.  The middle, that is to say, where we pick what we like from each one, is more of a muddy middle, a non sequitur (i.e., “does not follow” or has faulty logic) and requires what I refer to as Herculean hermeneutics to make sense of it.  But the folks in the middle are also my brothers and sisters, and I love them, extend grace to them, and fellowship with them regardless.  And ultimately only God knows the real deal here.  In other words, I admit that I could be wrong.  But for now, and until someone convinces me otherwise, “either from Scripture or reason” (paraphrasing Luther), I must stay with what I find is most congruent with Scripture.

So, it’s not a question of balance after all; it’s a question of truth—and of which doctrine is closer to it.  It’s not about feeling comfortable but about believing the truth.  And it’s not about finding safety in numbers but about finding safety in Christ.  Just an admonition for all of us.

One closing thought…  I just read the ingredients on the carton of butter in my fridge.  Here are the ingredients: cream & salt.  That’s it, two single-syllable words.  Now that’s my idea of balance; there’s no question about it.

God bless

CalvinCuban

Today is “April Fools Day” and so I feel compelled to write something foolish (I know, I know…you are thinking that all my blog entries are foolish; won’t argue with you there).  Anyway, normally it’s a day for pulling pranks on other folks and Google is no exception; here’s their ad for the “beta version of ‘Google Nose.’” 

Actually, I would not be surprised if such a gadget were made available in the near future, complete with a slew of apps for creating your own smells.  Mark my words, if such a thing were ever invented and brought to market it would likely stir up a stink!

The word “fool” and it’s relatives (e.g., “fools,” “foolish,” “foolishness”) appear 186 times in the New American Standard Bible (more or less times in other translations), 76 times in Proverbs and 23 times in Ecclesiastes; that alone accounts for over half the mentions of the word.  Several Hebrew and Greek words are translated into English as “fool+” with root meanings such as “stupid,” “unwise,” “senseless,” “without reason,” “dull,” “empty headed” and so on.  There’s even a guy in 1 Samuel 25 whose name was Nabal or “fool” in Hebrew.  Read his story and you’ll conclude that he was aptly named.

My three all-time favorite verses in this respect include…

1The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God (Psalm 53.1a)

That one, by the way, is the universally recognized “Atheist Day” verse.

7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1.7)

I like that one as it contrast a healthy fear or respect for God, who He is, and what He has done for us, with a fool, who has no such fear.

25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1.25)

Of course, God is neither foolish not weak; He is actually both omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful).  But to a real fool (i.e., one who thinks he knows more than he actually knows or can do more than what he can actually do), God—and His followers—appear as fools.  For this reason Paul sarcastically wrote to the “wise” and “strong” Corinthians that,

10We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. (1 Corinthians 4.10)

So, on this April Fool’s Day let us be reminded that the real fools in this life are those who “think” they can get through this life and into the next without God.  Sadly, their own joke is on them!

God bless

CalvinCuban