Thursday, September 27, 2012


  • 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


  • 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


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.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Favorite Food

I can’t remember how old we were but we were young enough to speak with puppy-eyed honesty, watch the adults laugh at our innocence, and continue on with our minuscule lives with blinders on, oblivious as to what just happened.

We sat in dolls chairs around our Lilliputian worktables coloring, eating paste and cutting our hair as the teacher drifted around the room with note pad in hand, interviewing each child how they would prepare their favorite food. The result was a collection of recipes for our darling mothers to cherish forever, the May-time school prize for keeping our noses clean and our pants dry. Art Linkletter would have been proud to see how our submissions were printed exactly as they were spoken. Each contribution mimeographed, trimmed and glued onto a sheet of construction paper, the cover hand-decorated with a half-chewed crayon in an expression of love, causing our mothers to keen and coo all the way home.
Now, if you don’t know what a mimeograph machine is, imagine a container larger than a coffee can turned on its side and filled with ink. A stencil made of the original document was placed on the drum. As the copier turned a hand-crank with purpled fingers, the drum spun on its side printing the image of the document onto individual sheets of paper (these most often crinkled and folded than passed flat between the drum and roller). The result was a rank berry-juice colored spoltchment often passing as a copy of the original document. The smell is difficult to forget. Perhaps this is the problem for those of us who grew up before copy machines became more widely used. Every time the teacher passed out a document, we pressed the paper against our faces and inhaled deeply. Ahhhh, the smell of mimeographed paper in the morning . . .

Our collection included maybe five entries of Grilled Cheese or Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammiches, Sqwambod Eggs, Omblettes, Bhasketti and Meatballs and the like. My entry was for the best dish ever made across all time. Ever. This was not a dish prepared by my mother, but by my grandmother and to my recollection, when she made it prepared not one bowl, but two: one for me and one for everyone else. That big old green glass bowl was the right size to hug, to sit on the floor with the bowl between my legs, spoon in hand, and have not a care in the world.
Banilla Pudding.

Sometime early in marriage I received a delivery of some of my grandmother’s things (she died before we were married). You should not have to be told how among the pots, pans, Tupperware and goodness-knows-what-else, there was that green glass bowl. Seeing the bowl sent one sole thought rocketing through my stomach: my grandmother loved me.

Banilla Pudding still remains my favorite food and I wish the lady in cafeteria or the chef at Ryans would spell the placard right (it‘s a national chain, for crying out loud)! I could not tell you what I said on that particular day in Kindergarten on how to prepare it, but I am confident there should be at least one apron-full of love.

Then some clown had to discover how to make an ice-cream version. You know, I’ve thought long and hard about how I would react if I ever meet this person face to face. I would take him (or her) quietly aside and tell him (or her) about the secret ingredient. I might even lick their hand.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


Monday, September 03, 2012

"Mending Their Nets"

It's a tedious job. Fishermen sit for hours going over their nets, looking for places to repair, to untangle if necessary, in order to get them prepared for the next day of fishing. The necessity for such work is obvious if fish are to be caught in the nets and the day of fishing is a success.

During our Lord's time on earth, as He began His earthly ministry, He was on the lookout for disciples whom He could make to become fishers of men. Is it not significant that He called hearty, faithful fishermen to the task of fishing for men? Many of the natural qualities and techniques for successful fishing are pointedly suggestive of spiritual qualities needed in service for Him.

In Matthew 4:18-22, the expression, "mending their nets" is found. We read, "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him."

The word "mending," in the expression "mending their nets" is an interesting word in the Greek language. W.E. Vine, in his "Exposition of New Testament Words," tells us the word is "KATARTIZO." It not only means to repair, or mend, but also to arrange, to adjust, to complete, to furnish, to equip and to perfect. These various thoughts are seen where the writers of Scripture use the word.

If the necessity of "mending their nets" is obvious, in order to catch fish, can we not see that we are taught by this fact that there is a necessary spiritual preparation in service for the Lord to men? Without a doubt, there is an arranging, an adjusting, a repairing and an equipping first of all ourselves before we can be of helpful spiritual service to others.

By the Ascended Christ, gifts are given to the assembly for this purpose. In Ephesians 4:11,12, we read, "He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." The Greek word translated "perfecting" is the same word translated "mending in Matthew 4:21. In order to carry out the ministry each believer is appointed to fulfill as a member in the body of Christ, he must himself be perfected, adjusted, equipped, or if need be mended by the ministry from the Ascended Head, through the gifts He gives to His assembly. This ministry is the ministry of the Word of God by the enlightenment and power of the Holy Spirit. This is what God has given for arrangement and order according to His mind to be guidelines and directions with instructions and corrections for our life in fellowship with Him and His people—His Assembly—here on earth. Only as we follow His Word in His order and arrangement ourselves, can we function according to His mind for His pleasure and become contributors to the "mending" or "perfecting" of others.

God Himself is engaged by His Word and Spirit to "make you perfect" (the same word) in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:21). Not only does God desire a good work done, He desires it to be done according to His will. It is doing a good work in a right way and manner that will please Him. To answer to this, how imperative it is that God does work in our souls in the "mending" of our thoughts and ways to conform to the thoughts and ways of His beloved Son! He lives in us for this purpose. This arranging, adjusting, and equipping is actually the forming of Christ in us by the power of His Word and Spirit manifested in practical ways.

With this "mending" accomplished, it is then that fitness is rendered in order to reach out in helpful"mending" of others. In Galatians 6:1 we read, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore (or, mend, adjust, repair, equip) such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted." The spirit of meekness is produced by God's "mending" of our own souls. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work. It is the very quality seen in the One who said, "I am meek and lowly in heart." It gives us proper thoughts of ourselves through the comprehension of the gracious work of God in us, and puts the one overtaken in a fault in proper perspective as one not more needy than ourselves of the gracious ministry of God's Word and Spirit. "Mending their nets" is truly labor. But, it is labor not dependent upon our own ability. Rather it is a result of yielding to His adjusting ourselves and then, as clay in His hands, being used by Him as His instruments by His power for the "mending" of others.

—D.T.J. (Moments With The Book)

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