Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve, A Meaningful Time

This is New Year’s Eve, the day before New Year’s Day. Congratulations, you made it!

Make this day (and the next) meaningful by taking time for personal reflection. Someone once likened our lives to be like a stirred-up pond--murky, cloudy. When the sediment settles, the bottom can be clearly seen. Perhaps you need to get to the bottom of something with God or with someone else. There is no better time than the present to take care of business, to work toward peace and reconciliation with someone. If you need peace with God, no work is required as He's already made the way by the cross of Christ if you will repent.

  • New Years 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. What freedoms do you need in your life?
  • While fireworks are a common feature of New Years, some magazine and newspaper publishers burn publications of the past year, really putting behind everything that happened the previous year. What do you need to finally put behind you on the cusp of a new year?
  • Ancient Romans worshiping “Janus” (from which we get the name “January”) gave us our New Year’s celebrations as a time of new beginnings. Some observed by closing and opening doors. The Lord Jesus Christ reminds us that He alone is the one who opens and shuts doors (Revelation 3:8). What open doors can He alone close and open for you?
Celebrate by making change with God’s help.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gift

The most memorable Christmas I can recall was the year we covered the Christmas tree with small gold-colored clips that held tiny red (unlit) candles. This was the year we discovered frosting in a can that permitted us to decorate our gingerbread men with particular fineness. This was the year I got a John Deere tractor, a gas station, Lincoln Logs and this may have been the same Christmas I got a small plastic case that folded out presenting a Western scene with a teepee on one side and a fort on the other. The scene was populated by tiny plastic cowboys and Indians and the hours of play turned into years of play.

I can’t say there is one particular gift that stands out as my favorite. I’ve had a few “screamers;” you know, those gifts you open and the only reaction is to scream and dance. “The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards” was a screamer a few short years back, and while those two volumes hold a special place on my shelf, in my mind, to my walk and for my life, they are not my favorite Christmas gifts.

A significant gift was the guitar--brand new, and I got to pick it out. Truthfully, I had no clue “then” how I would be using it “now.” Still love it.

Three gifts stand out as favorites, but in no specific order. I can’t rank them in order because each gift performs a unique task and makes a certain contribution--and not just to me.

The most recent gift was my Cello, “Elizabeth.” I’ve already described in another place the circumstance of her arrival, so I’ll not rehearse that here. I will merely say that every time I think of playing, my world begins to shift through the ritual of preparation: I have to set up the music stand, select the music, pull up a chair, uncover then rosin then tune, warm up. Something strange happens to time itself because I sit on a chair and to my listening ear, time is translated into deep tones and high pitches, chords, melodies and harmonies by means of whole, half, quarter and multitudinous subdivisions. An hour has metamorphosed into a Suite, and not just to me, but to anyone who sits to hear. There is a different world where there is music, a different state of mind.

The Microscope and the Telescope appeared the same year, when I was much younger. The gift here was not the tool, but what they exposed. My eyes have personally witnessed cellular and celestial bodies, paramecium and planets. This never gets old, viewing these ancient bodies. Breath-taking to imagine how our Creator must have held his breath for the day when one of the men made in His image figured out how to magnify. Not sure who giggled with most delight.

Then there was the typewriter. Not sure why it is so special except that I can’t stop writing. I feel all blocked up when I don’t. There is something so inexplicably mysterious about a typewriter, punching a key, watching that arm rise up and stamp the page with a pop. Every mistake an indelible mark.

I do have a favorite gift: Jesus. He is my Lord and my Savior, but He is more than music (“what our ears have heard”) and both subject and source of all that science confirms (“what we have seen with our eyes” and “what our hands have handled”).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Randoms

Mayan pyramids damaged by Apocolyptic Tourists. Didn't see that one coming.

John Piper's "Still Not Professionals" is available as free e-pub online.

2012: A Record-breaking year

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Take It All Away!

Over the weekend I came across yet another controversy regarding Christmas decorations which was rather unusual. The controversy concerned a woman who used Christmas lights to decorate her home, only the lights were arranged in the outline of a certain crude hand gesture. While I disagree with that particular arrangement, I find myself taking her point. Consider for a moment those who are offended at traditional decorations (to use an over-generalization to include biblical forms or otherwise)--what’s the big deal? I believe this woman turned the whole thing over on its’ head by being blatantly offensive.

Biblical imagery is slowly disappearing from public view and the outcry is heard the loudest during the Christmas season. The truth is that removal of biblical imagery is impossible. The world as we know it would not exist--but what would happen if it were possible? 

Let’s wake in the twilight zone where biblical imagery does not exist:

There is no such thing as Michelangelo's David. The Sistine Chapel does not exist. Bach, Handel, even Mozart would have written--what? Even the piece affectionately known as “that Halloween Organ music” does not exist. Halloween does not happen exist because there are no saints, nothing hallowed. No devil.

Don't look for William Faulker's “Absolom! Absolom!” in the library. Moby Dick would roam the seas unmolested by an Ahab or an Ishmael.The Hunchback has no sanctuary. Neither does The Daredevil. Every book that contains even a mere quote must be re-written: "The Old Man and the Sea" has a boat with no mast, "Les Miserables" would be just that. No "Apocalypse Now."


The vocabulary of curse words is fracking small.
A savior is unheard of, so the Matrix shuts down. Kal-El died on Krypton. The Engineers have no argument against the crew of the Prometheus. The Galactica has no journey.

Football games never culminate in David and Goliath-like battles.

No "good samaritans" help those in need. Charity has a new name.


No one hears Johnny Cash cry and Rush has a new introduction to 2112. James Taylor sings no New Hymn, but John Lennon would have to imagine a "heaven." Marilyn Manson and Iron Maiden are nice bands.

Islam has no root without biblical imagery. Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses and countless cults would not exist. Satanism would be of no regard. Atheists would have to find a new name and something else to do.


Take a moment to view this video by HumanLight and ask what they, too, would need to change (for example, could they properly refer to the "proverbial candle in the dark?":



What would the world be like with all biblical imagery removed? Arthur C. Clarke came very close, by Ford.

Since we can't do away with it, what should we be doing to "clean it up" and make certain the imagery is correctly understood?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lessons Learned at the End of the World

Douglas Adams four-part trilogy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, includes a curious setting where at the edge of the universe, one is able to sit down to a nice restaurant meal and watch the oscillating beginning and end of all things. Reflecting on this last year leaves me with the impression that we’ve had the appetizer and salad, now awaiting the arrival of the main course (or at least one of its features). Take a moment and think through the headlines: how many times has the world ended?

There is the first lesson I’ve learned: think. Think about the source of the information. Some may quickly say, “ religion and religious fanatics are the source.”

The second lesson I’ve learned is this: God can be trusted.

Now, let’s process this. It takes not much thought to agree there will be an end to the world and it will happen in two ways: our personal death and the leaving of it; and, the actual cessation of all things as we know it. One will happen before the other, and should the latter occur first while we yet live, the first would still be in order. This takes no philosophical, theological or scientific thought. This is simply thinking.

Certainly the loudest voices are of those religious, but what connection is there between religious voice and what God has said? The difference is that “religion” does not mean that one actually represents God. God has made it clear that 1) many will speak in His name that will prove themselves to be untrue; and 2) no man knows the day when all things will come to an end. Let’s consider the record:

Jehovah’s Witnesses have proclaimed the end of the world and Jesus’ return in 1878, 1879, 1880, 1886, 1888, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1902, 1903, 1914 (when it was declared that 1874 was the year), 1915, 1916 (when it was declared that Oct. 1914 was the year), 1922, 1923, 1925, 1931, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1966 (be ready for Oct. 1975), 1968 (be ready for 1985), 1980 (the world would not see 2000), just to name a few. I quote from the April 15, 1990 Watchtower, “Some set their hope on a date when they were sure Armageddon would come. When nothing happened on that day, they felt let down.” (p. 27)

"Does this admission of making mistakes stamp them [Watchtower] as false prophets? Not at all, for false prophets do not admit to making mistakes." (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1972, p. 644)

The Mayans were much less specific. The non-thinking that has driven the most recent hype is just that: non-thinking. The hype also demonstrates the danger of blind open-mindedness.

Who has proven to be true, so far? The one who says that only He knows, or the one who presumes to speak in His name? Personally, the more people talk, the more I understand the wisdom of God in not revealing the last hour. Either He will be trusted, or He will not. The record stand, that everything that has been predicted as recorded in scripture has come true, so we can expect that when He says it is time, it will happen just as He says.

Interestingly, scientists and certain philosophers are waiting for the end, only with less enthusiasm. Scientific law confirms the function of the created order: everything is winding down-- they simply cannot circle the date on the calendar.

This morning, I did not roll out of bed and shout that the The Doctor delivered the world (once again--although it would have been fun). Instead I give thanks that I have a brain, use it and live in expectation for the day the world does in fact end, for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Randoms

Here are some amazing facts about McDonald's McRib sandwiches.

Send your children to school with body armor. Maybe there was a reason this child did not want to go--but spray him with mace?

These Texas teachers pack more than just a lunch box.

Will the President take Joe Biden's Baretta?

Oh, how we need The Prince of Peace!

Books I'm reading (with my journal):


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tragedy, Evolution and Christmas

Someone posted photographs of the school children lost in Sandy Hook. The pictures were unexpectedly difficult to view. The difficulty came when a seemingly random thought reappeared--a thought I had the other day, then forgot as it wandered off to wherever it is wandering thoughts go when they wander. Well, this particular thought decided it was time to return home, and it slammed the door upon arrival.

The thought was this: if we are a the outcome of evolution process, a mass of tissue responding to chemical reactions and impulses, then why does tragedy matter? If evolution were true, then those who cause destruction on others are demonstrating strength and the power necessary for survival. Yes the question remains: how can this be survival when the assertive ones destroy themselves? Ernest Hemingway was a man who lived powerfully, strongly, assertively then took his own life because he was convinced that even in death, he was still in control, living life to the final moment. The difficulty is that life did not really matter, which is why death was no threat to him. Then.

There must be another option where people do matter, and the evidence of this option is seen in the reaction of those behind left in the wake of tragedy. I am not making light of events like Sandy Hook, nor am I making light of the nearly 107 deaths per minute, worldwide. The point is that we mourn when people are lost because we are living souls. We seek justice because we are living souls. If we were not, then tragedy and those who cause them must be shrugged off. Evolution sees no tragedy. Evolution sees process.

Here’s another thought: over 2000 years ago, a king named Herod ordered the execution of babies. Not unborn children, but living children. This was not the first time such an order was carried out, nor would it be the last. Herod was after one specific child, born and receiving worship as King of Kings.

The Sandy Hook event suddenly becomes more important because the world Jesus was born was no better than today. It may have been worse, actually.

Jesus was born because people matter to God and those who see people as God sees them, then other people are significant. People are not merely “matter” but living souls facing an eternity. This is why we can see that God did not permit Sandy Hook. A man did not obey God nor see others as God sees. Any love that remained in him flipped itself over to apathy toward fellow human beings and hatred toward God.


Christmas has a new light this year and events such as this should drive us to the Savior, the Prince of Peace.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Thing of Beauty

The approaching Christmas day has me thinking about one nearly overlooked facet of God’s attributes: His Beauty. The dark of night is twinking bright with colored lights of stars above and homes below. Whatever Christmas may be, we all agree this is a time of beauty so as creatures made in God’s image, we creatively add attractiveness to that which would otherwise be dreary with light and color and sounds and smells and warmth and laughter. Consciously or otherwise, this time of year we reflect outward that which draws us to Him: beauty. Attractiveness.

There is another side to beauty but before we quickly say, “oh, that would ‘ugliness,’” let us first discover where beauty resides and then the source of un-beauty (whatever that is).

I turn to an experiment that recently took place on the streets of New York. If I had not seen this with my own eyes, I, too, would think I had made this up. A small group of “someones” rolled an old upright piano out onto a sidewalk then pointed a camera from the window of a nearby building to capture what happened. The camera recorded people walking by the piano, looking at the piano, looking around, touching the piano, playing the piano. Some plinked with fingers, others found entire tunes. Music filled the air, smiles grew on faces and people left the piano changed people. Some people pushed the piano, tried to move the piano. A car pulled up along the curb and the driver tried to push the piano into the backseat.

The beat up piano sat on the sidewalk all day, drawing people near with their bags and carts, cameras and pets, then sending them away with smiles and laughter and wonder. A few brief moments on the keyboard drove away the chilly weather. Car horns and engine noises were dressed with Chop Sticks and perhaps a Sonata.

All day, all night. People coming. People touching. People going.

The next day, something happened. Some men appeared with sledge hammers. They destroyed the piano, right there in broad daylight. Nobody stopped them, not even the photographer. The photographer was not even there. We know this because later, after the piano was reduced to toothpicks and swept away--yes, the men who destroyed the piano actually swept pieces into a pile and put them in a bin while other larger pieces were thrown over a fence--two other men came with a piano dolly to collect. They found an empty sidewalk, empty except for other trash that sat unmolested on the curb from the day before. What happened to the piano? The camera recorded it all, including the discovery of the owner.

Some people are not attracted. They are blind to beauty. Beauty simply is, but some will not recognize it for what it is. This is why, for reasons unknown, a man will turn a gun on school children. This is not beautiful, and when beauty is destroyed, it is nearly indescribable un-beauty.

God, the source of Beauty, laid aside His glory and in being born a man on this earth, still attracted shepherds and so many others who came to him in all their unbeauty and left changed. Scripture says that he was not one of physical attraction, but people were drawn to Him. Then men came along with hammers, to wreck Him and sweep Him aside . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Landfillharmonic

I can't wait to see the documentary in its entirety:

La Vega Christian School Would Like Your Help!

Randoms

Ralphie and George. James E. White explores the great divide between "It's A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story."

Pioneers released a short film narrated by Columbia International University alumnus Steve Richardson, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the gospel among the Sawi, originally captured in the book, Peace Child. Steve and his family revisit the Sawi and see how God is transforming their culture.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a neat graphing tool charting unemployment rates since 1948.

Could Texas REALLY secede from the Union?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photoblog: Mystery photo

Can you guess what this is, what it does or how it's used? Everyone at Calvary Chapel Blythewood knows!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Randoms

Here's a compelling reason to skip the "Christmas Season" !

One state seceded where the others failed.

This writer suggests "Four Reasons Men Don't Read Books (with a practical suggestion)."  What would be your thoughts on the matter?

Bomb the moon for bragging rights. Yeah.

Here's a fun one! State and local law enforcement want wireless providers to store your text messages for at least two years. You know, for evidence.

This brilliant person assigned each number of Pi to a musical note. Here is the result (in the right hand):



The video just goes to show that "All Creation moves in a cosmic danse before the Lord her King . . ." (Kemper Crabb, "The Danse")  

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

17 Reasons Why God Never Received a PhD

Someone thought up 17 reasons as to “Why God Never Received a PhD.” While my initial thought was “who would award it to Him?” here are my responses to each point. One can easily see how well the objector did his research--and most likely will not get a PhD, either:

1. “He had only one major publication.” This is like saying a Library only has one book. There are sixty-six books of the Bible, each “published” over the course of time.

2. “It was in Hebrew.” There are doctoral students who do publish dissertations in languages other than English. (I can’t believe I actually had to mention this).

3. “It had no references.” What is one to do with Ancient Near Eastern law code (such as “the goring ox” law) and the other books mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles?

4. “It wasn’t published in a refereed journal.” The quotations of scripture in the works of early Christian writers alone are so extensive that the New Testament can be reconstructed without use of any actual manuscripts (over 32,000 citations of the New Testament are recorded before the Council of Nicea, in 325 A.D.)

5. “Some doubt he even wrote it himself.” The burden of proof lies on the objector in light of the internal evidence alone.

6. “It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?” Do you mean aside from holding everything together and ordering everything by His direct and permissive will?

7. “His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.” How, and compared to whom?

8. “The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.” Perhaps is unfair that nature does not have flasks of pure ingredients to pour out each in each step of process; that a real primeval pond has no screen to protect fragile amino acids from destructive wavelengths of sunlight; that nature is not equipped with traps to protect compounds from others. All that’s left for Science is to provide positive evidence that the origins of life requires a personal creator.

9. “He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.” The question of ethics is answered by the human subjects themselves.

10. “When one experiment won’t went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.” If by definition an experiment is the verification of validity, then outcome confirmed the hypothesis--the soul that sins will die.

11. “When subjects didn’t behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.” The subjects were given a choice and by that choice the subjects deleted themselves from the sample. God’s will is that subjects remain in the sample.

12. “He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.” Perhaps if the objector had actually read the book, he would learn the proximity of the teaching professor. Must he always be in the room for learning to take place?

13. “Some say he had his son teach the class.” What’s the point? Team teaching, guest lecturers and teachers aids are a feature of higher education.

14. “”He expelled his first two students for learning.” What was the lesson?

15. “Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.” What grade did you get?

16. “His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.” Wow. Sure you had the right office?

17. “No record of working well with colleagues.” It’s the other way around, actually. Take this list, for example . . .

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Rethinking The Cat

Never been fond of cats. Never. Never had a reason to. Then I stumbled across a poem titled “Jubilate Agno,” by Christopher Smart penned between 1759 and 1763 that caused me to rethink this animal. The title, by the way, means “celebrate the Lamb.”

Here is a summation of this unusual poem and three points that spoke most loudly to me:

1. He considers God:

My cat is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving Him, worshipping in His way. Having done duty and received blessings, he begins to consider himself by inspecting, washing, stretching and extending; he fleas and rubs himself; he looks up for instruction; he goes in quest for food.

2. Having considered God and himself, he considers his neighbor:

If he meets another cat, he will kiss her in kindness; when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.

3. When his day’s work is done, his business properly begins:

He keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary, counteracting the powers of darkness, the devil, by brisking about the life. He purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he is a good cat.

[Perhaps the cat is a better Christian than I.]

Monday, December 03, 2012

Photoblog: Garden of Reading

Another pic from inside our local library.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Photoblog: Umbrellas


Our local library is so photogenic! A local artist filled spaces with umbrellas.

Photoblog: Leaf-boy!


A couple of years ago we found this curious leaf, so we had a little fun with perspective.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Randoms

"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy." (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

The Pentagon asks (and the Washington Times reports): "Did Jesus die for Klingons too?"

Why does the United States government top the list for disclosure of user data from Google accounts?

How To Develop Sherlock Holmes-like Powers of Observation and Deduction.

The Earthquake Rose. Quite Beautiful.

I sure do miss the good ol' Barber Shop.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Moonlight

Richard Adams in his novel “Watership Down” paints a rich picture of the full moon, providing a fresh glimpse of the landscape at night. By the way, “Watership Down” is not the name of a sunken submarine. “Down” here refers to treeless, rolling hills (the Downs of Southern England).

“The full moon, well risen in a cloudless eastern sky, covered the high solitude with its light. We are not conscious of daylight as that which displaces darkness. Daylight, even when the sun is clear of clouds, seems to us simply the natural condition of the earth and air. When we think of the downs, we think of the downs in daylight, as we think of a rabbit with its fur on. Stubbs may have envisaged the skeleton inside the horse, but most of us do not: and we do not usually envisage the downs without daylight, even though the light is not a part of the down itself as the hide is part of the horse itself. We take daylight for granted. But moonlight is another matter. It is inconstant. The full moon wanes and returns again. Clouds may obscure it to an extent to which they cannot obscure daylight. Water is necessary to us, but a waterfall is not. Where it is to be found it is something extra, a beautiful ornament. We need daylight and to that extent it is utilitarian, but moonlight we do not need. When it comes, it serves no necessity. It transforms. It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves from a single heap to innumerable flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile. Its long beams pour, white and sharp, between the trunks of trees, their clarity fading as they recede into the powdery, misty distance of beech woods at night. In moonlight, two acres of coarse bent grass, undulant and ankle deep, tumbled and rough as a horse’s mane, appear like a bay of waves, all shadowy troughs and hollows. The growth is so thick and matted that even the wind does not move it, but it is the moonlight that seems to confer stillness upon it. We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity—so much lower than that of daylight—makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.” (page 148)

(Adams, Richard. “Watership Down.” New York: Macmillan, 1972.)

Photoblog: Cello Suites

This is the title page to my copy of Janos Starker's arrangement of Bach's Cello Suites (with personal notes on interpretation and technique). The golden nugget of wisdom is found in the top-left: "Break your cello! It is better to have character in what you play than to have a beautiful sound." (Pablo Casals)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photoblog: Foot Bridge

Foot Bridge at Riverwalk Park, Columbia, SC

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photoblog: Statue

Near the State House, Columbia, SC

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Look Back on the Election

First, this graphic illustrates how the President won. Click on the graphic for an intriguing explanation.

Now, Al Mohler writes:

"Looking back at the election, The Washington Post offers a detailed analysis of the results with a keen demographic perspective. The data points to the fact that worldview is often tied to contexts and conditions.

First, gender matters. Men favored Mitt Romney for President, with 52% of men voting for him, while 45% voted for President Obama. Women flipped the equation. 55% voted for Obama, while only 44% voted for Romney.

Second, marriage matters. Married women favored Mitt Romney (53%) rather than Barack Obama (46%). Non-married women, in contrast, favored Obama (67%) over Romney (31%). Note the scale of that reversal.

Third, theological convictions matter. White Roman Catholics favored Romney by a huge margin, 59% to 40% for Obama. But white evangelicals preferred Romney by an even greater degree, with 78% voting for Romney and 21% for Obama. But, from the opposite direction, voters with “no religion” as preference preferred Obama, giving him 70% of their votes, leaving 26% for Romney.

As a recent Pew study indicated, fully one in five American adults is now a “none,” registering no religious affiliation of any kind. All this affirms the vital importance of worldview, but we are also reminded of how worldview is related to gender, marital status, and theological conviction. That lesson is right there in the numbers."  (Source: “The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview", first posted on November 13, 2012.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Randoms

From barbarism to civilization requires a century; from civilization to barbarism needs but a day.”  (Will Durant)

“A little science estranges a man from God. A lot of science brings him back.”  (Francis Bacon)

A Letter to the Country from an Emergency Physician. Entitlement vs. Real Need.

Gas Rationing: 1979 or 2012--can you tell the difference?

Go paperless with Crowder Family Living.

Beatrix Potter pictured with her rabbits. Who knew?

Happy to be a Bearded Gospel Man.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Conservative Rock?

"The entertainment industry is known for its liberal ways. Musicians and performers, like their actor counterparts, generally embrace left-of-center politics. Performers like Pink!, The Dixie Chicks, Madonna and Green Day, among others, have made their allegiances known. But what about their conservative counterparts?" 

Friday, November 09, 2012

What Now?

I have a Bible reading plan and try to stick to it. Wednesday morning I picked up a devotional book (I use them mostly for reference) and started reading about a particular incident in 1 Samuel 26. Here’s the scene: David is running for his life as Saul is chasing him with 3,000 chosen men of Israel. Saul camps just off the road not far from where David is camping in the wilderness.

I like v. 4, “David sent out spies, and he knew that Saul was definitely coming.” Hard to miss 3,001 men a place like this. Yep, they’re coming.

So Saul camps on David’s doorstep. David wants to go down into the camp of his potential assassin and takes his nephew Abishai with him. They get down there and find Saul asleep and surrounded by all these people. No, I don’t know what he was thinking either; but, we do know what was on Abishai’s mind: “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike with him the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him a second time.” (1 Samuel 26:8).

David denies the request giving two reasons: “‘Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt.’ David also said, ‘As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish.” (1 Samuel 26:9-10)

Here’s what grabbed me: Saul had been the hope of the people, a physical and visible leader that offered deliverance. Saul proved himself disobedient to the commands of God, a man after his own heart. He demonstrates so much uncertainty that other leaders back away from him. Now the king is galavanting around the land on his own agenda with no regard for the people of the land nor for the Philistine threat against them. The state of the nation is (in short) “a battleground.”

I believe I can safely say that there was no person on the planet more disagreeable to David than Saul. David had the opportune moment to take Saul out, and what does he do? David calls Saul names--“the Lord’s anointed.” What do you imagine David was feeling, looking down at the man who single-handedly changed the lifestyle of a nation--and him as an individual? What was he feeling? What about those who agreed with how the king was thinking, the direction he was taking the country?

Now look at what David says: 1) touch “the Lord’s anointed” with guilt; 2) God will take him out on His agenda.

God is up to something and we can be certain it has everything to do with His glory. David was on God’s time, watching this crazy king from over his shoulder as he jeopardized the entire kingdom; but it was not time for the king to leave office. David must wait in a manner that preserves his integrity--albeit in exile. He could have taken what was rightfully his, but is this the way to achieve God’s will? God’s will for whom?

I sort of feel like I’m in David’s sandals right now, walking away from the camp of sleeping Saul. I am frustrated, disappointed, angry, frightened, tired, grieved. But I could do no better job. Could someone else? David sure had a lot of backing. Did David walk into Saul’s camp thinking, “I can do a better job for this country--and stop running” a thousand times before breakfast--but could he force God’s will? What would be the outcome?

Perhaps there is someone who could do a better job, but right now. Much more terrible people are on their way and God will take them out in God-glorifying ways.

Something else to think about: God was not finished with the leader-in-office and God was not finished the nation, either. They had to carry out what God's plan involved for them.

Keep reading God’s unchanging Word and find that things are not going to get better until God is ready. Watch the skies for The King, who is coming. He will do the job the best way, as only He can.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Randoms

The shortest verse in the New Testament is NOT the one you think it is!

Here is the real Maria Von Trapp (1905-1987).

This is the theme park we were looking for.

This video on The City of London (and its evil alien reptilian queen) makes you feel pretty darn good to say, "I did not know this!"

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What To Do After An Election

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” (John Wesley, journal entry, October 6, 1774)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Tony is Bored.

"I don't care about the liberal agenda anymore. It's boring. Boring. I'm giving you a boring alert." (Tony Stark)

Let's do something different this time.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Hey, it matters to me

A number of years ago, we visited my grandparents. I don’t recall the precise details of the trip, but it may have been a Thanksgiving visit. The scene: a restored log cabin built in the 1880’s sitting on the shoulders of Tennessee hill country a mile and a half from the nearest neighbor. I was about high-school age, late junior-high. I recall it was nighttime when a visitor came. I paid so much attention to the visitor, I honestly can’t say if the person was a young man or a young woman. What I do remember is the visitor was cellist, and may have been with the Nashville Symphony.

This is significant because I played the cello then. Matter of fact, I played until our third child, our first son was born. I stopped playing after he was born because I sold the instrument because we needed the money. I may return to this later.

The visit that night was pre-arranged. This person was invited to come for a private performance (as I remember it) that centered mainly around Bach’s Cello Suites. I recall the person playing, but could not say which of the six Suites particularly. I am going to guess at least the first suite.

I relate this because I feel horrible that I did not pay attention. Truth is, I could not pay attention to the performance. Part of the reason is because for most of my life, I’ve always felt Bach’s Cello Suites were for the kings and queens of the instrument. I’ve always loved Jacqueline Du Pre because she was most down-to-earth to me. Then there was Pablo Casals--I could never cast my eyes his way--too great.

Bach intimidated me, scared me. My teachers tried to get me to play at least the first Prelude, but the bar was just too high. That poor cellist that night gave an outstanding performance, but when Bach filled the air, I just felt so unworthy that I disconnected.

Lately I’ve revisited that night, time and time again. If I could, I would go back to that night. If only I could at least sit on the top of the hills behind the house where the sounds of heaven drift from a cabin up through the night and into the woods. Just to be at the border of earshot where the song of bowing string just kiss the ear.

What does one play after a twenty-year hiatus?

I’ve been listening and researching, reading and practicing. Something is happening that I never dreamed would happen. I am getting to know Bach and the Suites in ways I never thought possible. Did you know that within the Cello Suites lies a window into heaven? I really can’t explain what’s happened, but the music is coming together. My teachers are still alive:

I’m listening, Pau. I’m getting the character now, not just the notes. They don’t scare me anymore. I just need more character development, that’s all. Keep talking, I’m getting it.

Dear Jacqueline--oh, my dear Jacqueline--show us the dance again, the joy.

Starker, I feel it--in my chest, but it’s not enough.

Dearest Rostopovich and Queyras, may we please slow down? I hear the dynamics, and hear the “touch,” but may we please take the time to feel? I need to breathe.

Mrs. L: thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for opening the door to this heaven. Now, may I show you the way to Heaven, introduce you to the God of Bach?

Leslie, Holly, Al: what I am supposed to do with myself now?

Visiting cellist (whoever you are). “I’m sorry I did not understand.” Thanks for being there.

Martha and Otis: I can’t words. You know.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Randoms

Digging Graves is Hard Work!  “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. … If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

HMS Bounty sinks during Sandy. The Captain has yet to be found. Rescued sailor (and USC student) Claudine Christian dies. Brave young soul.

Gena Norris is much tougher than Chuck (he said so, so it must be true!) and she is fighting!

Music, borrowed from the birds.

Boeing offers an "optionally piloted vehicle."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Do Not Despair"

As we prepare to go to the polls, reflect on these words by Charlie Chaplain, playing the part of a Jewish barber mistaken to be the dictator of Tomania (from the film "The Great Dictator, released in October 1940 before the fall of France by Nazi Germany):

Death Beth Knows . . .

Find out if you're going to die . . . before it's too late.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Underlined

Anyone who knows me knows of my love for books. My office shelves are quite packed and no room is found on any shelf in the house. While I like books neat and orderly on the shelf (and I am not as ordered as some--often visitors are astounded that my books are cataloged, like in the library. I could be like one individual who arranges his books by size and color . . . ), I am finding there is a particular beauty in stacking them where there is no room. I am moving from “library” to “thrift shop” in terms of style. 

Isn't the (above) picture beautiful? No, they are not mine. :-(

Given my love for the bound word, believe me when I say I find it extremely difficult to pass by any stack of books for sale, particularly used books. Being that I am in an academic setting, boxes of books often appear in various places ranging from $1.00 or more a piece down to twenty--five cents or “Free.” I know these “free” books--books that never sell and need to be cleared out. True treasures to be found, even in free books (“one man’s trash” and all that).

Browsing a shelf recently I picked up a title I found intriguing. Never heard of the author. Without opening I correctly identified the to be of the 1980’s. Self-help-ish. The title matters not, nor does the author--the contents of the book make these details irrelevant when it comes to describing them.

Every line of every page, save the last ⅓ of the book, was underlined. Every line underlined.

Blue ball-point pen. Sentence after sentence. Phrase upon phrase. Paragraphs in their entirety. Page after page after page. Underlined.

Except for the last ⅓.

Suddenly, the subject matter of the book mattered nothing. I was intrigued by what must have been going through the readers’ mind. I can’t help but continue to wonder:

Why underline so much? Why underline at all?

Was the subject that interesting?

What was the most important?

What did the former owner get out of it?

Does he (or she) remember any of what was read?

Was underlining a tool to scan the page--was it read at all?

Why does the last of the book remain untouched? Were they finished at such-and-such a chapter? Did they lose interest? Die?

Should I buy the book and finish it?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Driving in the Dark

The sun had not yet risen but growing light was blooming color back into the world. My headlights pierced fog’s cloak, the friend of the night that wrapped trees and road in a cold gossamer veil. Sliding quietly up the road, a large dark shape suddenly filled the opposite lane. I did not see the vehicle except by the deep shade that blended in with the shadows of the banking curve and the trees. My headlight beams bounced off shiny surfaces as the driver of the other vehicle drifted on his way the other direction--no lights burning. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I slowed and watch the car until out of site, no signs of light anywhere, driving in dark’s diminuendo.

I watched the vehicle long enough to realize this fellow had no intention of turning on his lights. How could he see? Could he truly drive safe with the light he had? Perhaps, but the driving is slow and even poses a danger to other drivers--especially when the unspoken rule of driving around these parts is “when approaching a vehicle moving the opposite direction of your route of travel, steer into the center of the road.”

Curiosity got the best of me. I turned my lights off, to see what the other driver saw. Not much. I knew where I was going, but could barely see. I slowed down, cautious. The questions came flooding.

Why was he driving without lights? Did he just wake up? Did his headlights work at all? What’s the purpose of driving blind?

The spiritual principles collided head-on.

God is light and intends for life’s journey to be illuminated, which means there must be a relationship between God and the individual. The light must be “on” to the eyes that need to see.

When I turned my lights off and drove for a moment, the picture was clear that in these conditions, light was necessary. So why turn off what is needed most? If the world is without light and I have light, what is accomplished by quenching the light except that I now try to be like what I am not. This is dangerous to me and to others.

Can I keep it between the ditches of life if I hide my light?

How am I helping those who need to see? Sure, I may know where I am going--perhaps I could continue on with eyes closed, but God is not in that business: He is the eye-opener and intends for us to journey not by our “feels” but by what He plainly reveals before us.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kids and Classical Music

Great concept, but . . . couldn't help but could'nt help but lol a time or three:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Every Person Important

One reason many stop reading the Bible is the genealogies. The names are tough enough, but the smallest amount of confidence can lend to an acceptable pronunciation--a list of names is no reason to stop reading. The list of names is given for a reason and discovering that reason can be quite satisfying. Sudoku, crosswords, word searches and assortments of puzzles provide hours of entertainment, so why should a list of names slow us down? Isn’t is amazing that so many people have lived on this planet and are forgotten? These names are recorded in God’s Unchanging Word locate specific people at a specific time in a specific place. They must be mentioned for a reason even if all we have is a name.

We belong to a movement with the primary distinctive of teaching through the Bible book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse. Running the risk of sounding critical, one cannot help but wonder why when we approach many of these passages our teaches say to the effect, “see that list of names? Good, now let’s move on to where the action is.” Either we should change our distinctive, or do what we say and find what God would have us know concerning these elusive individuals.

One distinctive passage stands out that is worth investigating: 1 Chronicles 1 is a nice list, so go find your Bible and let’s make a few observations. The passage opens with no explanation, just names. So what? What is the author saying? What does he want us to know? In order to find out, one must slog through to Chapter 9 verse 1. This shows we have not asked the right question, but we did not know we were to ask this and now we can’t help but wonder about this “exile” business, can we? Let’s return to the Chapter 1.

What strikes you about verses 1-4? Who is mentioned and what do they mean historically? We have the history of all men, starting with the first man (Adam) and ending with Noah and his sons, the patriarchs of all nations. There’s our first clue on what to expect from the next verses. Notice: Japheth is mentioned last. I find it helpful to get out my pencil and start marking . . .


The last-mentioned son (Japhet) gets first treatment in verses 5-7. The reason why the last is first will become clear shortly (almost sound like a biblical principle, doesn’t it?). Here we find a list of everyone who settled (generally speaking) in the furthest reaches, as far North and West as Asia Minor, Cyprus, Turkey and as far East on the opposite side of the Persian Gulf. The genealogy goes no further because their mention only sets the world stage. The rest of their history does not fit the direction of the writer.

The descendents of the second-born son (Ham) are described in verses 8-12 describing those who settled in the general regions of Babylon, Canaan and Egypt (the Hebrew word is “Mizraim”). Speaking of Canaan, look who becomes the focus of verses 13-15. Sort of like zooming in through a microscope. As before, these are other characters on the world stage and their mention only helps to establish national relationships (no pun intended).

The first-born son of Noah (Shem) is the basis of everyone else that follows, so he gets the greatest treatment, through Chapter 8 as a matter of fact. This why he is mentioned last, not first. Verse 17 lists nine of Shem’s sons, one of whom is Arpachshad. One of his descendants (Eber) is serves as an eyewitness to the “days the earth was divided.” His brother was Joktan, now listed with his descendants.

Verse 24-27 reiterates the direction of the genealogy being recounted (in case the reader gets lost) going back to Shem, focusing on Eber and carrying us forward without incident to Abraham.

Verse 28 tells us Abraham had two sons. As before, the second-mentioned (who we also know is the eldest) receives first-treatment through verse 33. Verse 34 now focuses on the first-mentioned (the younger son, Isaac) and his two sons: Esau and Israel. Verse 35 is the head of the rabbit trail where we chase the descendants of only two sons of the five who are mentioned.

Are you paying attention? I hope so because if you are, coming to verse 28 we find a person who suddenly appears on the scene with no introduction--where did Seir come from? The descendants of only five of his seven sons are mentioned--what’s going on?

Please consider this:

verses 1-7 describe the genealogy of all mankind, verses 8-16 detail the genealogy of the nations, verses 17-27 explain the descendants of 1st-born of the nations verses 28-42 introduce the sons of Abraham among whom we find the Edomites, sons of Saul, the inhabitants of the land as described in Genesis 36:20-21.

Now that we understand this, we understand that this final section describes the Kings of Edom “before the sons of Israel reigned” (verses 43-51a) and their tribal chiefs (verses 51b-54). This is only the first chapter.

Every person is important and God keeps a record in books of His own. So much is packed into a list of names and the intrigue only grows! Don’t think for a moment that any person is insignificant. One need not be Abraham or Abraham Lincoln to make history. We each have a role in God’s plan.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Randoms

Time to meet your sole mate! Find the perfect workout shoe for your routine and find what to do after you make a purchase (where was this article when I needed it?).

Who do you luv?
(ht: cheezburger fail blog)

Think of it as a tribute to invention:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Photoblog: Wed Design

Amazed at the wonders of Creation. These two were found merely inches apart.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Randoms

  • Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. He is writing a "newe set of tales. Thinketh of this: the image of the viage of an erthely pilgrimage ys but a maner of shewinge the wey of thilke parfit glorious pilgrimage into the celestial spheeres of the skye, in which we shal weare awesome shinye clothes and have swooshie laser swordes and eek have snappye dialog and sweepinge orchestrale bakkeground musique as we flye arounde the sunnes and moones and thinges-that-are-nat-moones. And thus Ich am writinge nat of pilgrimes on erthe but of pilgrimes -- wayteth for yt -- IN THE STERRES!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Very Old Man with a Helicopter

If you are not inspired, please check to see if you still have a pulse. Sort of touches me in the same place as "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel García Márquez (1955).

Everything is Incredible from Tyler Bastian on Vimeo.

Friday, September 21, 2012

“The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece”

Eric Siblin’s book “The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece” set me free.

Siblin composes a history of Bach’s six Cello Suites that does not merely impart information, but cultivates a deep(er) appreciation for The Master and his masterwork that was nearly lost. Taking his cue from Bach, Siblin divides his book into six chapters (one for each movement) with their respective preludes, allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, minuets, bourees or gavottes and concluding gigues. He explains how, “Bach will occupy the first two or three movements of each suite. The dances that come afterward or earmarked for Pablo Casals. And the gigues that close each suite will be reserved for a more recent story . . . “ (p. 9)

While this framework helps the reader capture the mood of each suite, the writer also (perhaps unwittingly) delivers history in a manner that helps the non-cellist grasp the experience of actually playing. The Chord, utilized by Bach throughout the Suites is a stack of three or more notes that a pianist or guitarist would strike all at once. This is an impossible feat on the cello, so one must bow one or two lower strings and pivot up to the rest of the notes to complete chord (listen to the opening notes of Suite 1, No. 4 Sarabande for a sample). Siblin in this way performs the history, introducing a particular theme regarding Bach and Casals then while these “notes” reverberate in the mind of the reader, shares a present-day experience that closes the harmony in a way that compliments the tones Bach composed.

One notable feature of the writer’s experience should come to light: he is not a cellist. This is notable because while a music critic, he actually relates taking cello lessons in order to better understand and communicate. This akin to crawling into a cannon to write about war. Bravo, Siblin!

A copy of the Suites has been in my possession (as any cellist must have) since high school. I’ve heard selections played in sundry settings: private living room concerts, practice halls, recordings, movie soundtracks and (how dare they?) commercials. Siblin manages to tune the ear to hear the Suites in surprising ways. Since reading this book I’ve listened to recordings by various artists and am smitten by what I’ve never heard before. I’ve never felt worthy enough to play, but Siblin pulls back the curtain and revealing secrets that have not only changed my mind, but have freed me to play.

I sought out one specific recording by Pablo Casals (dated 1954) that settled the matter. I can’t describe what I heard, but this for the first time in my life I played through the Prelude to Suite 1 three times, played Suite 1 No. 3 Courante twice, Suite 1 No. 4 Sarabande twice and the Prelude to Suite 3 once. I nearly cried. My life is not the same. The first time in years I’ve gone to sleep at night with the music lilting through my head—I can feel it on my fingertips.

Permit me to part from the “book review” and make some acknowledgments. The first to one very good friend who made this possible: “Thank you” Second, to my darling beautiful wife, who orchestrated the whole thing (you know what you did--I kiss you forever). Finally, to Elizabeth . . .


One need not be a cellist to enjoy Bach's Suites. One need not be a musician to enjoy Siblin’s book, but you have not lived until you’ve heard all Six Suites (and Wagner. You must see Wagner's “Die Tetralogie der Ring des Nibelungen” in its entirety--but's that another blog).

If you have heard the Suites, you perhaps would never hear them the same again after reading Siblin’s marvelous book.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Randoms


  • This week is the Christian Life Conference at Columbia International University (CIU) with President Emeritus, Dr. Robertson McQuilkin. Dr. McQuilkin served as the 3rd President of CIU, headmaster of Ben Lippen School and a missionary in Japan. Chapel messages for the week can be heard online.
  • Shock Your Body. Jump-start your workout program!
  • Interested in your thoughts on this short film:


Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope you didn't look at your calendar but if you did, you would notice that today is Rosh Hashana. This holiday is one Israel’s calendar, one festival of three celebrated in the seventh month. Students of scripture would call this the “Feast of Trumpets.” Many today would call this “New Years” so if you need to “start over,” this is a great time to do it. Why wait for January 1?

The Torah instructs (the book of Numbers, chapter 29) that this is a day of worship, sacrifice and suspension of labor. Such a time of refreshment intends that one literally stop whatever is keeping one busy and worship. Lay down the tools, get your fingers off the keyboard, gather with others who love the Lord and worship. Each time we worship, we do a spiritual “check”, make certain we keep clean before the Lord by confession and repentance. Are you clean before the Lord?

How committed are you to the things of God? He gave us the best gift of Himself as the perfect sacrifice. Why not take this time to give Him all of yourself, let Him clean you up and restore you to fellowship with Himself and with others?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Randoms


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kingdom Man: Over to Unawareness

Sort of a strange phrase, isn’t it: “over to unawareness.” It means to moving from “awareness” to “unawareness.” We do it all the time, but we like to use the word “forget.” Have you ever thought about what the “forget” actually means? We commonly agree on “failing to remember,” and we use the word to signify the act of not remembering.

The word “forget” is actually a compound word (remember those from grade school?). The first word “for-” is the Old English term meaning “opposite” or “away.” The second (“-get”) is also Old English for, well, “get” or “grasp.” Combine “for” and “get” and we have “un-grasp.” This is what it means to forget. Orwell would be proud.

Is forgetting intentional or accidental? Perhaps the latter is the most common—who would intentionally forget? Is it even possible? Why do we fail to keep hold of things we are supposed to remember yet lose our grasp on things we are supposed to keep? Why do we so easily recall our regrets and have nearly no catalog of our successes? Unawareness is tricky.

Forgetting, becoming unaware, losing grasp is an elusive discipline for the follower of Christ. The Apostle Paul helps us put our hands on the principle in his letter to the Philippians, writing: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:13, NKJV). Paul speaks of “apprehension,” that is “laying a hold of” the high calling of God in Christ. Since this is the prize, one must let go of one thing in order take hold of another. What is Paul holding that he now releases? “those things which are behind.” The past.

What is Paul reaching forward to grasp? “those things which are ahead.” The future. I like what Tony Evans says in the Kingdom Man study: “you can’t change the past, but you can move into the future.”

How do I “un-grasp?” I keep this pasted in the front of my study Bible because me and my past are so intertwined, I have to refer to it from time to time (summarized and personalized from John Bettler’s article “Counseling and the Problem of the Past”):

  1. I believe that one’s personal past has a significant influence upon the development of his manner in life. I do not believe that a person is a helpless victim whose manner of life is determined by his past.
  2. I believe that a person creatively interacts with and interprets past events and incorporates his interpretation into his manner of life. I do not believe that a person so constructs his past that it has not necessary existence in history.
  3. I believe that the Christian should seek to interpret his past as coming from God and for God’s glory; the unbeliever will distort the event with an explanation that does not honor God’s truth. He will resist the truth and endeavor to believe the lie.
  4. I believe that a person is not always aware of the assumptions, values and habits which shape his manner of life. I do not believe there exists within the person an “unconscious;” that is, an unexplored and largely unexplorable entity which drive his behavior.
  5. I believe that exploration of a person’s past may help to reveal to himself his manner of life. I do not believe that such exploration is always necessary to produce biblical change.
  6. I believe that change occurs in the present. It involves “putting off” (repentance) from the distorted values and habits of a false manner of life, and a “putting on” of godly values and behavior patterns in the present. I do not believe that change occurs in the past through the reliving of past experiences or through emotional release of stored-up emotions (“catharsis”).
  7. I believe that God is sovereign over all events of a person’s life and works providentially through those events to make Christians more like Christ.

I pray you find this helpful.

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