All posts by Nick Norelli

Dueling Series

If I may give a brief summary of how Peter Enns’ “Aha Moments” series and Michael Kruger’s “Does the Bible Ever Get It Wrong?” series read to me.

Enns’ Series: I came to the Bible with the wrong idea about how the Bible should be. Now I know better. I’m so bright.

Kruger’s Series: The Bible’s not wrong. You are. You should have considered that you were wrong before you lost your faith.

B”H

iPhone 6: First Impressions

I’ve never been an iPhone fan. When they first came out I was still using an LG flip phone and I was anti-Apple. When I finally got a smart phone it was an Android device (a Samsung Galaxy SII to be exact). It just so happens that my first smart phone was a fantastic phone. The 4.3″ screen was ideal; it’s 480 x 800 resolution was better than anything I’d ever had; and it was a nice looking and sturdy phone. Honestly, I like its actual body better than my Galaxy S5.

The iPhone on the other hand was small. Too small. Plus the one button never appealed to me. It was such a strange experience trying to navigate an iPhone that I never thought I’d get one. For the record, I’m still not sure that I will. However, Apple is catching up to its competitors in releasing two big phones. Today I had the opportunity to play with both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 plus at both an Apple Store and Sam’s Club.

Now just to backtrack, Apple recently released iOS 8, which I’ve updated to on my iPad air. It’s okay so far as it goes, but it doesn’t seem much different than iOS 7 save predictive text when typing and a recent contacts icon list when you double tap the home button. There’s more going on but the changes are subtle. I’m expecting the upgrades to be felt when OS X Yosemite releases next month.

But back to the iPhone 6. I had to go to the Apple Store today to pick up an extra charger for my MacBook Pro. I travel with it quite a bit and it’s a real hassle to get up under my desk and unplug everything every time I need to leave the house with it. So now I have one to keep in my bag and I can leave the main charger plugged into the wall. Anyway…

While I was waiting for my receipt I was playing with both new iPhones. The first impression was that the iPhone 6 Plus was way too big. It’s similar to a Galaxy Note III, which I hate. Forget how ridiculous it looks having such a large phone next to your face when you’re talking and just consider that most folks with normal sized hands or smaller will most definitely have to use two hands to do most things on this phone. It’s impractical (just as it is with the Galaxy Note series and especially the Galaxy Mega!).

The iPhone 6 is a good size though. A 4.7″ screen is just about perfect. My S5 has a 5.1″ screen, which is a hair too big for me. It works but I’d prefer something a bit smaller. The phone is incredibly thin though and it’s really light. It makes the device feel cheap. I thought much the same when I got the S5. Very thin, light, and cheap feeling. My Spigen Tough Armor case completely changed the experience for me, and for those interested, they have a nearly identical case for the iPhone 6.

But aside from the physical issues with the phone (btw, a lot of people complained about the antenna lines on the back of the phone; I actually like how they look on the space grey model), iOS 8 just feels behind the times for a smart phone. Don’t get me wrong; I think iOS 8 is great for the iPad. But an iPad doesn’t do all the things we expect our phones to do. The operating system seems limited although I’m sure enthusiasts would attribute my opinion to my inexperience with iOS.

iPhone enthusiasts like to say that iOS is superior to Android, but I can’t see how. No widgets; no multitasking; not an especially attractive UI; I just can’t see in what ways it’s better. And when I went through some of the apps they seemed stunted. I’m sure Apple will work the kinks out in the coming months but right now it feels clunky, which is odd seeing how the same things seem okay on the iPad.

In addition, the technology seems dated. Forget for a moment that the iPhone 6 doesn’t sport a 1080p display (that’s almost forgivable, but seriously, why doesn’t it?); it’s the actual functionality seems to be behind even what my SII could do. If one hasn’t ever used anything other than iOS then I’ll bet it feels downright futuristic, but to come from Android to iOS 8 seems like a step in the wrong direction. Apple is playing catchup. They traded on their name and on nice hardware for a long time but now that the time has come to give the consumer what they want; they’re trailing.

The only thing that still has me considering an iPhone 6 is how iOS 8 will work with Yosemite once it’s released. I’ll test it out with the iPad before I make any rash decisions. But if all I had to go on was my experience with the phones today then there’s almost no chance I’d make the switch.

B”H

Tech Wars

As a longtime user of Windows machines and a new user of Apple machines I can honestly say that one machine is not necessarily better than the other, or put differently, one operating system is not necessarily better than the other. In terms of hardware my MacBook Pro blows my Toshiba Satellite Pro out of the water. But it’s 5 years newer and I bought it with better specs and spent nearly twice as much for it. But there are plenty of Windows machines out there with comparable or better specs.

In terms of operating systems, I like OS X Mavericks. I also like Windows 8.1. I liked Windows 7 and Vista and XP too. I really don’t know why everyone trashed Vista so much. I still use it on my Toshiba and it works perfectly fine. Anyway, I probably like Mavericks the best right now but that’s because of how it’s optimized for my hardware. Windows 8.1 on the Mac is cool, but it’s better on a touch screen, which I’ve used it on, so I’m speaking from experience.

At the end of the day I think it boils down to workflow and which system is going to aid the user in getting their work done most efficiently. If all I needed was a machine to browse the internet with and check email then I’d be fine with a Chromebook or a tablet. If media consumption was my main computing task than most any tablet would do the job. But the stuff I do requires a bit more power and speed.

I’ve found that out of the box my MacBook Pro is able to handle pretty much everything that I throw at it. Sure, it’s not customizable in terms of the hardware (pretty much everything is soldered down to something on the inside), but for my tasks I don’t need upgrades. The beauty of many Windows systems is that when you’re workload increases you can change your machine to handle it. That’s a huge plus for many users.

So I’ve said all this to say that I don’t think the question is ever as simple as “which machine/system is better?” The questions are better for who and better for what? The answer will inevitably vary. BTW, I’ve lovingly corrected a number of Mac enthusiasts on this point since becoming a Mac user. I really do like the machine but I’m not drinking the cult’s Kool-Aid just yet.

B”H

Looking for an Excuse

All of my coworkers are extremely saddened and distraught over the death of my sister Nicole. As co-owner of the business we work in she was our boss. One coworker in particular pulled the old problem of evil card. He—a believer in the existence of God and a nominal non-practicing Catholic—asked how it was just for God to take her and leave her young 5 year old son without a mother. I explained that there are things we just can’t know. It looks one way to us because our perspective is limited but God stands above everything, seeing exactly how all the pieces fit together.

But the bottom line is that my coworker is the type of person that Paul refers to as having a carnal mind, or a mind governed by the flesh, which is to say that he’s hostile to God, or put more strongly, he hates God. He’s looking for a way to feel justified in his rebellion. Had Nicole not had a young son he would have asked how it was just for God to take her so young. Had she been old he would have asked how it would have been just for God to take her so unexpectedly. Had she had a long drawn out illness that resulted in her death he would have asked how it would have been just for God to allow her to suffer for so long.

No matter the details, the unbeliever wants to feel justified in their rebellion. They’re looking for an excuse to hate God. The irony is that evil is only a problem if a good God exists and is Lord over all. Complaining about injustice only has force in a world where there is a universal standard of justice in place. Without a just God who is Lord and judge over all that exists we have no such standard. But if God raises her from death today, tomorrow, or in a thousand years, I wonder what his excuse will be.

The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them about the awfulness of Hades. Abraham replied that they had Moses and the prophets and that if they didn’t believe them then one rising from the dead wouldn’t make a difference. The scriptures contain the antidote to his complaints, but also the medicine for his soul. They contain the message of God’s love. It’s the love of God that changes his enemies into his friends. It’s God’s love for the very people who hate him that makes the difference; that’s the real miracle. God’s love nullifies every excuse.

B”H

The Most Difficult Post I’ve Ever Written

My pastor, friend, and sister, Nicole Rosato has gone on to be with the Lord. That’s a Christian euphemism for death. She’s dead. And my eyes are welling up with tears as I write this. If you know me then you know I don’t condone crying but for three reasons: a broken bone; the presence of the Holy Spirit; and the loss of a loved one. I’ve lost a loved one, although in reality she’s not lost since I know exactly where she is: in the presence of the Lord.

I’ll spare everyone the details of her passing other than to say that her brain ceased functioning this past Sunday night, a few hours after I left her and her husband to go down to Delaware with our friend and brother. We shared a nice meal together, went back to their house, joked for a while, and then we left. I didn’t get the news about what happened until Monday night because my other pastor, her husband, didn’t want to bother us on our sabbatical. It wouldn’t have been a bother. The next morning we drove home and went immediately to the hospital to pray for a miracle.

We prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. We laughed and joked and praised God, confident that he’d raise her to life. Even as I type this, saddened by her passing, I haven’t lost hope that she could get up. It ain’t over ’til it’s over. We held a prayer meeting at the church and people showed up in force. On the one hand it was a wonderful sight to see so many gathered to pray for the recovery of my pastor, friend, and sister. On the other hand righteous indignation stirred within my bones as I half considered rebuking the crowd for showing up to pray for a woman of God while hardly every darkening the doorways of the church to worship God himself.

It wasn’t the time though. It was a time to petition, give thanksgiving, and rejoice in the hope that we have as believers in a resurrected Lord. President Obama wrote a book called The Audacity of Hope. I haven’t read it. Probably never will. But the title speaks to me. In a world marred by sin and inundated with evil, we have the audacity of hope; the audacity to hope. Audacity could mean a willingness to take bold risks or it could refer to rude behavior. We’re bold enough to believe a story that the world deems foolishness. We risk all in the service of Jesus, or at least we should. We’re rude to the prevailing powers of the world; willing to spit in the face of despair in order to say, along with Job, that we know our Redeemer lives, and in the end he will take his stand on the earth!

I had the opportunity to minister to more people today at work than I probably have in the last two years combined. People were calling my phone, the barbershop phone, and showing up in droves to ask what happened. The sadness they all shared was combatted by the joy I exuded. I explained that the same God who raised Christ from the dead was able to raise my pastor, friend, and sister Nicole if he saw fit. I haven’t lost hope that he will. But even if he doesn’t do it now, he will some day, because the Christian has the hope of resurrection. The resurrected Christ is the firstborn of many brethren. As he is, so shall we be. So I miss my sister at the moment but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will see her again.

Qohelet tells us that to everything there’s a season. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted. My dear pastor, friend, and sister has experienced the first three of these seasons and she will experience the fourth, as will we all in the resurrection. Right now it’s a time to weep/mourn and a time to laugh/dance. We weep because the death of a loved one reminds us that the world we live in is the result of the fall. Death wasn’t on the menu until Adam and Eve started ordering off the menu. But that tree of life that they were denied access to will be made available to those in God’s kingdom at some point in the future. I look forward to enjoying that fruit with my pastor, friend, and sister.

It’s a time to laugh and dance because we can remember all the good times we’ve had with our departed loved ones. And the believer can laugh because we know that death is an enemy who has already been defeated. O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting? Under Jesus’ foot, that’s where! We laugh, and dance, and rejoice in the presence of our God because we have the audacity to hope; the hope of resurrection!

Now as you read this you might be wondering why I’ve consistently referred to Nicole Rosato as my pastor, friend, and sister. The short answer is because she was/is! It’s that simple. But it’s more premeditated than that. She’s been one of my pastors for a few years. She’s been my friend for more than a dozen. But above all, she’s my sister; as much my sister as the one my mother gave birth to. My entire life I grew up with a sister who was close in age and who I’ve known well and have been extremely close with. I can honestly say the same of Nicole, who is the same age as my biological sister (35), and has been with me my entire Christian life.

We’ve laughed and argued and done just about everything in between, just like me and my biological sister. We have always been painfully honest with one another and have never been afraid to offer a sharp rebuke when needed. In fact, the day before her death, we got into an argument over something stupid but made up immediately after it happened. We were both exhausted from operating on little to no sleep and cooking a ton of food (which neither of us was completely satisfied with if I’m honest). But in the hours before her death I stood in her kitchen and ribbed her with a smile. She ribbed me back and we parted company laughing.

Even as I stood in her hospital room I joked that I might punch her in the face in a fit of Wigglesworth inspired faith. I took selfies with her as she laid hooked up to a breathing machine. Some might see my behavior as insensitive; others may think it crass; but that’s the kind of relationship we had. I know she would have laughed if she woke up and saw the pictures. I have no idea if pictures will be allowed in the new earth, but if I can manage to get my S5 into the kingdom we’ll have a laugh about it then.

I miss my pastor. I miss my friend. But most of all I miss my sister. I love her and await the day when I’ll see her again in glory, whenever that may be. May her memory be for a blessing! Requiescat in pace!

B”H

In the Mail

An embarrassment of riches today. First, I came home from work to discover that Wipf & Stock sent along a copy of Daniel Castelo’s Confessing the Triune God, which is a part of the Wesleyan Doctrine Series, for review. Eerdmans sent a copy of the Study Guide for Jack Levinson’s Inspired. Then I went about my business and after some last minute school shopping with my daughter, I arrived home to find that UPS had left a copy of the Zondervan published Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity edited by Jason Sexton. 

I plan to start the Zondervan title immediately! 

B”H