MY BRIEF TESTIMONY

BRIEF 5 min. PERSONAL TESTIMONY - BARRY BALLARD

On a warm summer day in Washington D.C., I sat in a small movie theater listening to a re-broadcast of a Billy graham crusade that had been previously given elsewhere. I was attending with a Christian group who ministered on the air force based where I was stationed, "Andrews Air Force Base". At the conclusion of the presentation, there was an invitation given to receive Christ and counselors were standing up front to pray with those who came forward. The house lights went up and I went forward and prayed to receive Jesus Christ into my life. This was not the moment of my true conversion, this was "preparation-of-heart", part one.

On a humid pitch-black night in 1969, my plane touched down on the Saigon airfield that was currently under rocket attack. Black-out conditions were in effect and we were rushed to trucks and then transported to our barracks and its inclusive bunker for protection. I was assigned an m16 rifle, two clips of ammo, and given a helmet and flack-vest. I spent my first night in Saigon standing in the bunker, wondering "why?" I was even here. I understood none of it, except that supposedly it had to do with communism and we were protecting democracy. But, I just felt abandoned to the most bizarre and remote assignment I could imagine. I worked "support", so I do not want to give the false impression that I was "combat"; but I did serve some time in the jungle. Only one man died in our group during the year I was there; and he told me beforehand that he wanted to die and never return home. He had received his divorce papers in the mail about a week before my arrival. He was shot down in a helicopter "one" day before he was to return home. My one year in Saigon was a lesson in the deterioration of the human spirit and soul. Eventually, I also learned to hate myself and "living" and could care less about what might lie ahead. I was returning to the states with a crushed human soul, devoid of all optimism. This was "preparation-of-heart", part two.

On a humid gray-dusk-like-evening, I found myself, in 1970, driving through the main gate of Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas. I soon settled into my tasks of working in the 7th bomb wing headquarters, in support roles again as usual. I also served on the honor guard for special occasions for fallen veterans funerals, or award ceremonies. Even though my personal psyche was "wasted“; I was considered an admirable employee and respected for my abilities. My inner life however was an absolute disaster that I did not "share" with anyone. Strangely enough; I was visited by representatives of the "Navigators"; the same Christian organization that had approached me in Washington D.C. I began attending bible studies two nights a week and felt a little better about life by receiving this follow-up. I'll call this "preparation-of-heart", part three.

During my term of service at Carswell, I met my wife to be, Beverly, who invited me to her church in River Oaks, "Trinity Baptist Church". They had a young pastor, John Hatch, who was just finishing his doctorate at Southwestern and the atmosphere attracted me. It was in 1973, “4” years after that initial "preparation-of-heart"; that I made an honest commitment to Jesus Christ and immediately followed that with baptism.

From there, the road did not get any smoother, but my “soul” began a healing process that eventually went from healing to true "Wonder and Discovery". The first thing that was revealed to me was my spiritual gift, which is "Teaching". While at Trinity, I ended up writing three commentaries: James, Colossians, and Philippians. All three helped me grow in my commitment to Jesus Christ.

True conversion was preceded by three moments of "preparation-of-the-heart" in my case. Over a four year stretch of time, God never gave up on me. I think the strength of my testimony must be given to the strength of God's loving patience; to lead me along the final path that would secure my faith. Thank You.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SPINOZA: THE "TRACTATUS"

click on link:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/4qb0oeok758e8nx/spinoza3.mp3

WRITING A "PHRAESEOLOGY-OF-PROVIDENCE", WITHOUT SUPERSTITION:
Spinoza is almost as misunderstood as Hegel; almost. First; where does the "TRACTATUS" lie? And what is its specific role in Spinoza's overall body of work?
Spinoza's body of major works reads in the following order:

1661: the Logic of Man & Well-Being. (Which essentially was written as a pure "logic")
1669: this "Tractatus" appears in Amsterdam (written as a preliminary necessity-of-infinity that would inform the "Ethics")
1677: the "Ethics" appears which is his full system, including its emphasis on Subjective-Spirit.

These three major works were separated by "8" years" in each instance. So we find ourselves, within this manuscript; looking at Spinoza's take on the necessity of all that has been prophesied, the necessity of the "FADE" of "substance" (I'll explain in a bit); and the necessity of the praxis of "human-law" extending out of "divine-law". And, in all of this, how we are to avoid the entrapment of superstition and false metaphysics & ritual; and instead, reach the ultimate goal of "blessedness", consisting of an overwhelming epistemological "love-of-god" that will allow us to minister to the general population in posited phrases, or narrative-phraseologies that articulate "divine-law" as the "NOTION" of the "rule-for-living? This is our ultimate intent!

The best way to approach this manuscript is to correlate the emerging moments of the development of the "law", with the emerging moments of the "intellectual-instruments" in Spinoza's "ethics. I will list these for you and then you can use it as a reference when you investigate the text yourself:

1. INSTRUMENT OF CLEAR & DISTINCT IDEAS: corresponds to the first appearance of the "prophetic-voice" of the "Mind-of-God"
2. INSTRUMENT OF SUFFICIENT ORDER: corresponds to partitioning aspects of "prophetic-voice" into "existential-voice" of "divine-law"
3. INSTRUMENT OF UNIVERSAL CONCEPTS: corresponds to unveiling aspects of FADE: fortune, assistance, direction, & election of infinite substance
4. INSTRUMENT OF NOTION OF EXTENSION: corresponds to notion of "rule-for-living", from definitions gained from our dialogue concerning FADE
5. INSTRUMENT OF POSITED FUNCTIONAL SIGNS: corresponds to "proving-law-through-experience" & the dialectic of writing narrative that reinforces divine and human law.
6. INSTRUMENT OF INFINITE-INTELLECT: corresponds to extracting a phraseology-of-providence from Nature & Scripture, without the distortions of superstition.

There are a total of "6" intellectual instruments in Spinoza's system of thought.

I am a sincere fan of Spinoza because of his influence on so many great thinkers, including Hegel. But I do recommend you read that little "Logic of Man & Well-Being". It will assist you a great deal in understanding Spinoza's system. 5 stars for this well-thought-out treatise.

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