November 30, 2008

I Am Back

Got back into town late yesterday and have been trying to figure out how to catch up on things. It is going to take some time.

To my blog friends, I will try to read your posts over the past ten days as soon as I can, but I have a backlog to work off. If you see comments from me on two week old blogs, i apologize, but you know I am working my way up to current status eventually.

I will let you all know when I am current. I really do enjoy reading all of you and I do not want to just blow everyone off.

Going to go look at my traffic for the past 10 days and see how bad things are. But first church and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Christmas show, so it might take a while longer to get started on catching up.

Learn: To Earn

Feeling pretty good about all you have done? Think you have a lot coming you way because you deserve it. If so, you have mastered the learn to earn mentality.

And that is bad news.

This one is easy. You cannot earn that which you should be seeking, Do not fall into the trap of thinking you can, and waste your time trying. What you do, you should be doing out of love for God, not pride in self.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

You are not saved by works, you are saved unto them. You should be doing good works,learning to learn, yearn and turn. You should be tearing down that which is harmful to your walk with Christ, learning to burn. But you can never earn any of this, so do not bother trying to earn.

Lord willing, I will be back home and posting. And starting to think about Christmas.




November 29, 2008

A Bacon Driven Life

I have often thought that if I opened a restaurant, I would like it to be a concept restaurant called "Everything Tastes Better Wrapped in Bacon". I do not have the best dietary habits, I admit. There are certain foods that transcend good eating habits. Pasta, pizza and peanut butter are high on the list. Cheetos would be, but they are not food. Ice cream (soft serve preferred). And bacon.

Bacon is the most versatile, I eat more pasta and pizza, but you cannot wrap something in pasta and pizza. Try it with a scallop. Only bacon passes the grade. Cold pizza is great for breakfast, but try ordering it with a plate of eggs and see what kind of looks you get. The noble pig is committed to giving you a great breakfast, the chicken is only involved. And nothing has the ring of poetry,
nothing has the meter quite like ordering "Bacon, extra crispy".

But when I wax rhaposodic about bacon, I think of the chart on the left.

The sad thing is the chart also works for all the other foods I mentioned, fortunately only the bacon chart is fixed in my mind.

A dog's life, maybe, but even dogs love bacon.

But even I draw the line at soft drinks.


November 28, 2008

Learn: To Burn

Sometimes using your ability to focus, to turn to something is not the answer. Sometimes you have to use flame.

There is some stuff in your life that probably has to go. Fire sale time. You do not want to, but there may be family, friends, relationships, careers, habits, hobbies or dreams that are just getting in between you and Jesus. You have to get anything in the middle of you two out of there. Quickly. If you cannot move them out of the direct line of sight to Jesus and still keep them in your life, they have to go.

If so, the sooner, the better.

"But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." 2 Peter 3:7 (NASB)

If it is all going to burn anyway, isn't it better that you be the one to burn out of your heart all that which is keeping you from Jesus?

"If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:15 (NASB)

I'd rather get rid of it now, then get to the end all smoky and soot blackened because I built out of things He did not place any value in. As I said in the last post, I need to learn to yearn for what He values. Why is that? Go back a few verses:

"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid,which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work." 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 (NASB)

Learn to burn because it is going to happen sooner or later. Learn to burn, but also learn to build with the imperishable so that it withstands the fire.






November 27, 2008

I Give Thanks

I give thanks today, although I should give thanks each and every day for the fact that:

  • That the Lord has called me as His own
  • That He has given me a wonderful wife and partner in life
  • That He blesses us continuously
  • That He has given us family and friends to love
  • That He has given us a piece of His heart
  • That He provides shelter and comfort
  • That He loves me, an unlovable person
  • That He makes worship so joyous
  • That He provides His Word to study and learn
  • That the list of thanks is never ending
  • That I will be in His presence someday and forever

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

It Ain't Einstein, But Is It True?


This one hits close to home. Some would say right on the mark in my case, as far as my blogging efforts go. Anyway, a picture is often worth a thousand words, and this equation seems to fit the bill to a T. You can probably write volumes about the worth of a lot of stuff that is put on the internet. But I like the simple and elegant appproach this equation lays out.

November 26, 2008

A Glorious Day

I am enjoying today immensely, a day with family in Virginia. it will probably be in the 40s today(almost Arctic conditions for a guy who has spent the last five years in Texas). A crisp, sunny day.

It was a year ago today that I made the decision to pursue study at seminary based on changes in my business career.

And what a year it has been. I am ensconced in my studies (similar to immersed, but with the arms of a loving God wrapped around you) and getting near the end of the first term. I am heading into a Christmas season soon and looking forward to times of worship and prayer with my Lord. I am tinkering with ministry ideas and am excited about what the future holds as far as the Lord's plans for my life.

A glorious day, all in all.

And I want to share a verse that stuck in my mind a year ago as I read the Word in the morning:

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James1:27 (NASB)

Staying unstained, helping those who would be helpless without others. Sounds like a divine plan to cwork towards on a glorious day.

Learn: To Turn

In your yearning for and towards God, you may think you are clearly focused. Trust me there will be times when you are not.

I will not always immediately realize that I am off His narrow road. But when I do, I have to quickly drop that which is causing my continental drift and get back on top of things.

The key is staying centered in Christ, making Him the plumb line that drives you straight down the center of the path. And at times, the path of life narrows, making being centered in Him all the more important, making so much easier to drift off the path into the brambles of life.

"Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (NASB)

It is clear, He is the divine road map, whether it is the short or the scenic route you wish to take. The shorter path may seem to get you there quicker, but you will probably lead a richer life on the scenic route.


November 25, 2008

Decoys

On the drive to Virginia yesterday, we passed a sign on I-95S, just north of Havre de Grace, MD for the Decoy Museum.

So my question was whether this was a museum dedicated to decoys or a fake museum to keep the real museum hidden from prying eyes?

If it was the second, why tell everyone?

If it was the first, who would go to it?

Seems like a no win situation to me.

Money Changes Everything

I had a boss once who made the statement life was easier if you had a lot of money or no money than if you had some money. Sounds strange, but here was his logic:
  • Lot of money - decisions are easy as you can say yes to just about everything
  • No money - decisions are easy because you have to say no to just about everything
  • Some money - decisions can be agonizing because there is an element of choice but not of plenty
I used to shake my head at the craziness of it, but there is a kernel of truth to it. Life is not easier with no money than some money. If you do not have enough to take care of life's necessities, life can be brutal and grinding. But he was onto something as far as making a decision goes. No money means you have to say no to a lot of things. Unfortunately a lot of what you have to say no to is very hard to have to do.

A little money opens up some possibilities to spend on things beyond basic needs. And that is where our greed, or our pride in keeping up with the neighbors can enter the picture. We can put ourselves on the treadmill of consumerism faster than just about anything else in life. it seems to be wired into our natures.

Money does change everything. And a little can mean a lot of change.

November 24, 2008

On the Road

Today we drive down to Virginia for more family visiting and to spend our Thanksgiving holiday before heading back to Texas. We like road trips and look forward to taking them. This one will be relatively short-250 miles-but it gives us a chance to spend some time together without the usual distractions of our daily life.

I think that is why I like them so much. That, and the fact that air travel seems to get less pleasant every time I do it. It probably is not the experience itself as much as it is that my tolerance level decreases in direct proportion to my aging. Another thing to look forward to.

I like visiting family, but I do miss my home. I guess you cannot have it both ways. The one thing that surprises me is that as much as i enjoy my classes at seminary, I really am enjoying the break. I hope the transition back to finish the semester is not too difficult. Makes me wonder how I will deal with going back to the spring semester after a 5 week break. Another issue for another day.

The one thing I am pleased with is that I find the time alone with the Lord that I feel I need daily. I always wonder whether I will be in the Word enough when I am traveling, but God does make sure I stay in touch. I am thankful for that.

I think it is so easy to get distracted when out of your regular routine. I am glad he does not get as easily distracted as I do. That would make life a lot more difficult if He did.

Learn: To Yearn

If you have accepted the need to learn, you want the process to be as focused as it can be.

I have committed myself to pursuit of personal growth in my Lord, but how do I manage to cut off pursuit into dead ends, down rat holes or through mazes?

I have to be prayerful in my pursuit, learning to yearn for that which is of the Lord, not of this world.

I believe prayer, focused, diligent, intentional, deliberate and continual prayer can lead to the discernment necessary to quickly determine that which is good and that which is harmful to my growth.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

Clearly, if I make this all about me, I will fail, falling into a morass of my own making. This proverb clearly point me at Jesus, relying on Him to steer me onto the proper path of personal growth.

The challenge is pursuing that which He would want pursued, not what I would want. And the times that I am wasting time chasing after false knowledge has had to have been when I listened to the strident braying of my own pride instead of the gentle Spirit filled whisper urging me closer to Him.

God's symphony drowned out by my one note cacophony. What a waste. How much better to yearn for what He has to offer so that I pursue the world with the intent of mining out His goodness. Although at times that might seem like a needle in a haystack problem to me.

Yearning is worth the effort of going through the hay.

November 23, 2008

What Do You Remember First?

I have been thinking recently about what we all remember earliest in terms of national or international events. Not just childhood memories, but things others would remember as well. And not based on some timeline in a book or on a website, but actual memories one would have.

For me it is the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. I remember sitting in my second grade class and our teacher, Mrs. Headley telling us the news. I do not remember much else about about Mrs. Headley.

I do not know why this sticks in my memory. Nothing on the early space flights, nothing with Cuba in the news, nothing about the Cold War, nothing sports related predates this memory. This is the one rooted in my mind.

I remember watching scenes on TV: coverage from Andrews AFB when they brought the body back to DC with Jackie still in the bloodstained suit; the funeral procession, watching the horse walk down the street with the boots backwards in the stirrups, watching JFK Jr., even younger than me, standing there saluting his father's coffin on the horse drawn carriage. I remember how upset the adults around me were.

It had quite an impact to visit the The Sixth Floor Museum 5 years ago when we moved to Dallas, to see events in a museum that I had personal memories of as a child. However, it was an event that I remember with sadness, but without any political or societal ramifications. I understood the occurrence, but not the event that happened.

I cannot say how this shaped my thinking or worldview, I was 7 at the time. My worldview centered around getting out of school at 3pm, summer vacation, ice cream and candy. But it sticks with me, and I review it in my mind from time to time. Especially around this time of year. Hard to believe it was 45 years ago that this happened in the city I now live next to.

November 22, 2008

God is Good

We checked out an assisted living place yesterday and it was very nice. We are ready to start the process of seeing if we can move my parents into it.

And God is good. After we left the place, we went over to my parent's apartment. We had not seen them since February. My Mom, although happy to see us, was very upset. She was finding the day overwhelming, taking care of my Dad more of a burden than it had been in the past. There are days like this, we all have them in dealing with what is going on in life.

After she calmed down, we were able to broach the subject of assisted living, of the place we had visited and wanted them to consider moving into. She was very open to the prospect, and said OK about us starting the screening and application process.

I thank my Lord on the timing of our visit, of our seeing the place we would have our parents live, and on Him opening my Mom's heart and ears to listening to the option.

I pray He keeps her heart open to this going forward and over the next few months, we can move them into a place where they can get the help they need. I thank God that my brother and sister-in-law are there to see this through and keep an eye on my parents. they are a blessing to the whole family.

God takes care of the big things, the little things, all things if we come before Him in prayer and with an obedient heart.

Learn: To Learn

I thought I would start out with the need to learn how to learn.

We need to be open to new experiences, but in a way that preserves the truth of our past. We should not be afraid that new things are going to shake the bedrock of our beliefs. I do not believe anything I learn going forward will ever shake belief in Jesus as Lord of my life and Savior. Everything flows from that,it is foundational to my worldview,to my thinking about, well everything.

If your beliefs are not that solid in your life, you need to question why.

But a solid belief system should not stop you from pursuing new things, learning new ideas and perspectives. It should lead to growth in and not away from your beliefs, if these beliefs are founded in truth.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

If we are a work in process, should we not expect opportunities of growth to pass before our path? I pursue this kind of growth, as I expect it to keep perfecting me each and every day that I pursue it. And I know I am not smart enough to know the growth until I experience the situation in which to grow in. If it turns out not to be the growth I am seeking, I will reject what does not fit my beliefs in Christ.

Maybe it sounds simple or simplistic, but I find it hard work, but so rewarding when I mine out each nugget of growth.


November 21, 2008

Guest Blogger---Me

I know that this is my blog, but this is the first time I have ever done a post on other than my laptop from home. So I may not be a guest blogger, but I am definitely on a guest computer.

The trip back east was uneventful and that is the word I like best to describe my air travel. Pretty much on time, no weather issues, no traffic snafus, no one needed to be sedated. The way I like it to be when I am in the air (I was in the air on 9/11, so the world being relatively calm when i am travelling is not always something I have experienced). We are in NJ, and it really is a lot colder here than Dallas. Although I am a born and bred New Yorker, I am no longer used to cold weather. I have forgotten how wintry weather feels. And it is only in the 30's, so it really is not all that cold and I am being a bit of a weather wimp.

It is great seeing family, but today I have some family business to attend to that is less than pleasant. My brother Tom and I need to look at assisted living arrangements for our parents. Not pleasant but something that will be necessary soon to make sure they get the care they need. And it is not something that will be easy to broach with them if we decide to do so this trip.
That is the only unpleasant thing we have to do, and I am glad we are getting it done early in the trip. After that, I look forward to time with family and the opportunity to talk about my faith and my Lord. I'll let you know if there are any interesting conversations. Talking about faith with family is often as difficult as talking politics. They know too much about me, and I them. But speaking in love is something we are called to do. And so we will.

Besides that, I'll just be eating way too much food.

Sales and Marketing 101


As a retired executive, there were times I felt like this was what was going on. Here is an example of what can actually happen in customer interaction in the corporate world. This is a sales and marketing organization at its finest, meeting customer service at the cutting edge.

Only kidding.

I think.

November 20, 2008

The Holiday is Upon Me


I will be gone for some family visits back East over the next week or so. No taking the laptop on planes, trains and automobiles for me. I thought I would leave some stuff to post in my absence. They include a series entitled "Learn To" and some random musings.

These posts are on auto-pilot and will run in my absence. I dread thinking of the number of emails in my inbox and items in my Google reader when I return.

I hope you find it worthwhile reading.

See you in a bit. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday with the Lord, family and friends.

May it be a blessed time for each of you.


Going for the Gold

I am in a race now of Olympic proportions.

I have invested $25 for a Starbucks Gold card. So I have a year to work that off in the 10% discount that I will get. It should be a no-brainer for me. I bought it November 8th and already have $2.30 in savings or 9.2% of the way to break even. This is what happens to CFOs when they retire. They start tracking silly stuff like this.

I expect to make money on this deal but there are at least four things I expect to occur:


  • I will be more than happy with the money I "saved" by this decision
  • I will be more than annoyed about how much I spend on coffee
  • I will be more than properly caffeinated by next Christmas
  • I will be more than torn with the decision to renew for another year


I will keep you posted. Anyone else care to track along with me?


November 19, 2008

North by Northeast - Pt. 3

As I get ready to head out to the east, I keep seeing weather forecasts of snow flurries and decidedly colder weather than Dallas is experiencing. So now, the chore is what to pack to wear. I always feel a little silly when I am wearing a winter coat to the airport and it is in the 50's or 60's. But you have to be ready, so foolishly I go.

I do not know who Gary is, but he appears to be a genius. Simple, yet effective weather forecasting technology is now at my fingertips in a low tech, high touch sort of way. I hope they sell these at the airport.

The Conquering Zero

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith." 1 John 5:4

So I have overcome the world , have I? So how come I still struggle daily with it? How come I do not always feel like a winner when I go out into it and up against it?

I have overcome by faith in Jesus, and in that faith alone. When I am struggling it is because my faith is just not strong enough at that moment to overcome the trials, temptations and tribulations that life has thrown at me. And God forgives me but at a cost:

"God does forgive, but it cost the breaking of His heart with grief in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so." My Utmost For His Highest - 11/19

So when I get full of myself I need to remember how it is I overcome, how poorly I do it alone, and what the cost was for me to prevail through Jesus.

Yeah, that's me. The conquering zero. I get nothing done on my own. I thank my Lord that He put me on the winning team.

Traffic - It is Nothing Personal

One of the things I have come to expect is that some days will be good, some days not so good regarding traffic to my blog. The other thing I figured out quickly is that lots of blogs have way more traffic than I'll ever have. I do not know if it is marketing, more effective use of tags, topicality, seasonality, whatever. I muse over traffic from time to time, in an abstract, philosophical way. I've also talked about traffic here.

The internet to me is this huge ocean with the tide lapping up against the shore of my blog. Sometimes the waves come in stronger than others, washing up higher on the sand. Then I get to walk along the shoreline and look for the nuggets of treasure washed up and left behind for me to behold. Comments, something to respond to, some evidence that someone has not just been to your page, has not just read it; but has taken the time to process your thoughts and respond to
them. Someone has left behind a seashell, you pick it up and hear echoes of the internet in it. That vast ocean just reaching out from you standing on its edge, going out across and beyond the horizon.

I have also convinced myself that traffic is not personal, it comes and goes and really does not think about you all that much in the process. Maybe that is a cynical position, but I would love to hear your thoughts, your personal echo of the internet I pick up as a seashell out of the sand at the feet of my blog.

I listen to your thoughts on my thoughts as the sun begins to set.

Sunset is my favorite time at the beach and on the internet.

Based on those last two lines, I have no idea where this post is going so I am stopping now.





November 18, 2008

Jiglu Tags

OK, I cannot decide if this is annoying or not. I added Jiglu tags to my blog, and it goes through and makes tags for me. The ones I make are highlighted. The ones Jiglu makes are highlighted and underlined. It has a mind of its own and does it with no intervention, highlighting other posts where I used the same term, also offering that term in other blogs using Jiglu tags.

I need to know if this is annoying to people reading or not. Please let me know so I can turn off if it is.

UPDATE: It's gone. Sorry for the confusion.

The Pace Is Slowing


Yes it is, and I am relaxing outside my doghouse. have gotten about everything done school wise that I need to before my vacation time, and it feels good.

Now I need to pray about the upcoming trip and being bold to share Christ with family, friends and acquaintances over the Thanksgiving holiday.

But right now I am just kicking back and thanking Him for getting me through all I needed to do.

Losing the War

The Podcast war, that is. I listen when I am driving alone, to school or on errands. Here it is mid-November and I am only up to mid-April on the ones I listen to regularly and falling further behind every week. I listen to:

I listen to the DTS chapel services I miss because I am only on campus two days a week and chapel is four times a week. This goes to the top of my list, so I am never really behind on these. You can watch these as well. It is worth watching or listening to some good sermons. I listen to the 121 sermons I am not at church for and that does not happen more than a few times a year so I am up to speed there. The Fermi Project podcast is not as regular so it is easy to stay on top, they have some interesting stuff about what is going on as far as new ideas within the church.

The problem is the other three I have been listening to. There are lots of sermons on Podcast, I have been listening to these three guys for a while. My problem is that they are more prolific in putting these out than I am diligent in listening to them. I do not know how long these gentlemen will continue to Podcast but I need to do something, here's what I have thought about:

  • Spend more time alone in the car
  • Spend more time stuck in traffic
Neither of these are appealing to me. I like my wife too much to spend more time alone, and I do not like being stuck in traffic, even with my wife.

  • Plan a long road trip vacation and listen as a couple
That actually has potential. We both like all of the speakers

  • Run more errands
  • Go to school full time
  • Listen for several months after I die
The first two leave me cold, I like the balance in my life. The last one leaves me really cold, but it wouldn't be my decision as to availability in any event.

  • Cut back on who I subscribe to listen to
  • Wipe a bunch of back sermons off the iPod
Neither of those is even the least bit funny.

I guess I will struggle along until I can get on the road more.


November 17, 2008

North by Northeast - Pt. 2


I am hearing that there could be snow flurries later in the week where we are heading to. Flurries may not seem like much to you, but we have had like 3 inches of snow total in 5 years where we are in Texas, so yeah, it is a big deal for us now.

I've Joined With Some Fine Folks

I have recently joined the community at HighCallingBlogs.com If you are into blogging and are also into high standards and values, give it a look. I think you will enjoy it immensely.


HighCallingBlogs.com Christian Blog NetworkHighCallingBlogs.com Christian Blog Network


Fire and Rhinestone

Men are not normally comfortable talking about sexuality, usually worrying about saying something that will expose us as the gutter dwellers most assume we are. I am no exception to that rule.

So I figured a safe approach was one that was biblical in nature and short in duration. So I will quote an interesting passage in Scripture that I believe shows that God does not have a problem with our sexuality, given it takes place in a one man, one woman marital relationship:

7"Your stature is like a palm tree,
And your breasts are like its clusters.
8"I said, 'I will climb the palm tree,
I will take hold of its fruit stalks.'
Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
And the fragrance of your breath like apples,

Song of Solomon 7:7-8 (NASB)

It is pretty descriptive language. So I will leave it at that. Saying anything else is likely to get me into trouble as the gutter animal most would assume I am under the surface.

November 16, 2008

North by Northeast

This is not about a missing Hitchcock film. It is the direction i am heading later this week, Texas to New Jersey to visit family. They are not having snow yet, but it is definitely colder there than in Texas, so some winter themed posts seemed called for.
clipped from huhwow.com
http://huhwow.com/cgi-bin/add-watermark.cgi/data2/Sync/200802/26/amazing-pics/75503460.jpg

Chambers Today

I read him this morning and it has been with me all day long. Two quotes from today's devotional really have really stuck in my mind.

"It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go
through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no
limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us."


Living everyday for Him without regard for what others think. Doing what is right in the Lord's eyes even if it is not in those of anyone else. He would have made quite the blogger.


"The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life."

He really looked at Christ and Christ alone. If others walk with you great. If not, you have Jesus as a companion on your narrow road and how can that be anything but the best?

We are that his widow, Biddy put all his notes together in book form for us to enjoy and be convicted by over and over. God is good, so good.



ThouShall Not Covet

cov⋅et

–verb (used with object)
1. to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property.
2. to wish for, esp. eagerly: He won the prize they all coveted.
–verb (used without object)
3. to have an inordinate or wrongful desire.

Origin:
1175–1225; ME coveiten < AF coveiter, OF coveit(i)er < VL *cupidiētāre, v. deriv. of *cupidiētās, for L cupititās cupidity

From: Dictionary.com

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you
shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female
servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your
neighbor."

Exodus 20:17 (NASB)

I was thinking about speaking with people or getting prayer requests in which the person asking for intercession states that they covet our prayers. That language always troubled me a bit in the context of the Decalogue. Looking at the dictionary definition #2 above doesn't sound terrible, but still it has you eagerly wanting what others covet.

So my question is whether I am being overly sensitive to the nuances of language, am I misinterpreting Scripture to apply it to a covetous desire for prayer or does this trouble anyone else in the least?


November 15, 2008

Three Days of Reflection in Three Years

As I look at my journal page for today (which I have talked about before here) I have recorded thoughts on the following verses over the past three years with my thoughts in italics:

"then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You."
2 Chronicles 6:39 (NASB)
...I feel inadequate to lead, I struggle daily to meet your standards... 11/15/06
"I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me."
Jeremiah 33:8 (NASB)
For without this graceful mercy, I am lost, I am helpless...11/15/07

"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."
1 John 3:18 (NASB)
He wants not just words which can be empty and cheap...11/15/08

I am seeing a pattern here. I am struggling with my own weakness year after year, but I pray I am making progress and am starting to focus on others needs as opposed to just my shortcomings.


Recharging My Batteries

It feels strange that I am just a two weeks from finishing out the semester. Two class weeks that is, although I will not be done until December 17th. But I am on a break from now until December 2, then two weeks of classes, then final exam week. Then I am done with the fall semester.

Where did it go? What did I learn? Will I remember any of it when I go back the end of January '09? Will I pass this semester? Am I enjoying it?

Where did it go? Time flies when you are having fun, or working on papers.

What did I learn? Foundation comes to mind (no, not the Asimov series). The foundation for further studies, what I call the survey courses in bible study and theology. Even though the lectures and reading has been very enjoyable,I am looking forward to next term in getting deeper into my studies.

Will I remember any of it when I go back the end of January '09? I think it will stick with me as I move forward. If not, I sure have
picked an expensive way to be baby sat during the week while my wife
attends to adult chores. I haven't written much about my studies so far this term because it seems so foundational to my overall education. I will try to elaborate more on my studies next term. But I find myself referring to stuff from class in conversations now, I hope I am not turning into the dreaded bible blimp.
Will I pass this semester? Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Am I enjoying it? Yes I am.

Magazine Review: Bible Study Magazine

I have been asked to write a magazine review on the inaugural issue (no, it isn't about the new president, it is the first issue of the magazine) of Bible Study Magazine.

I agreed to do it but I was a little skeptical: I have never done this before and I am wary of new publications in general.

Not sure how this review will turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised by the magazine. My initial flip through gave me a distinct sense that there was something in here for differing levels of interest and expertise. That was borne out when I did some in depth reading.

The magazine has some practical how to bible study tips and methods, some personal devotional material that you can relate to on your own level, some more in depth scholarly type reading and items of more general interest, including headline type blurbs on some more recent news.

There was a great article on Josh McDowell, an apologist whom I have enjoyed reading in the past and who is a Facebook friend. It was great to see him featured in the first issue. There was also an in depth interview with Dr. peter Flint on The Great Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea scrolls. It wasn't a puff piece, I was pleased to see it went on more that a question or two and explored his work. Both of these were good reading.

Daniel Wallace (a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary where I attend) takes you through various bible translations with some practical advice on how to choose between them.

There is plenty more in here (think Sennacherib for one and the Book of Hebrews for another).

It appears this magazine will have monthly study tips and aids, research from scholars and teaching from pastors and teachers. It is geared at differing levels of bible study and expertise, so I do not think it is over the head of the beginner nor is it too basic for a more seasoned bible student. All in all a well balanced magazine.

I enjoyed the articles and the vibrant colors and layout.

Check it out at Bible Study Magazine. I look forward to future issues and have signed up for a subscription.

Great job and best wishes to the team at BSM.

Click here to subscribe to Bible Study Magazine!

Freedom of Choice Act

I should have posted this when I signed the petition, but I did not. There is no excuse for laziness.
Thanks for Barry for posting it, and Laurie for reminding me with her post. It is good to have blog buddies that keep you on your toes.

November 14, 2008

We May Not Have Each Other, But We Will Always Have Lard

I do not know if this was an actual ad or not. I do not appreciate British cuisine enough nor understand British humor enough to distinguish the two in this case.

Your lips say love, but your hips say lard.
clipped from slackerpedia.com
http://slackerpedia.com/british-lard/images/couple.gif

From the Heart

I got to give a short, semi-public talk last night about my going to seminary, how I go there and where I see it leading.

My view of public speaking is similar to Jerry Seinfeld's routine stating public speaking is the number one fear of Americans, death is number two; so at the average funeral the average American would rather be in the box than give the eulogy. (After I speak I think most of the audience feels I should be in the box too)

I was told it was very effective because it came form the heart, and that was what they wanted, a heart speaker, not a public speaker.

That made me feel good and I was glad I could contribute to the ministry that went on yesterday evening. It also underscored a very important point for me; when working in my ministry, I need to make sure what I do and what I say comes from the heart. People will accept your ministry if it comes from the heart.

And since I have given my heart to the Lord, I know if it comes from my heart, He will be part of what comes out of me. So the heartbeat of any ministry I do, any missional activity I engage in has to be my heartbeat.

Otherwise it will not seem genuine and I am not that good an actor.

It was a good evening on several fronts.

November 13, 2008

Traffic

It is interesting to see where the traffic on your blog comes from. I do not have all that much, so it is easy for me to monitor and the unusual ones stand out. I do not get much international traffic, which is not surprising given I do not get much domestic traffic either.

Yesterday was different. I had traffic from Hyderabad in India, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia,and Aachen in Germany. (I would have also said Dallas, Texas but since I moved here 5 years ago I no longer consider it an international location as I did when I lived in New York)

I wonder why? My blog is categorized as a Christian site, so I wonder what is making it occasionally come up like this in these out of the way places. Looked over the stats and there doesn't seem to be anything that is attracting them specifically.

Not worried or losing sleep over it, just curious I guess.

I do not think the State Department needs to lose sleep over it either.


I Have a Few Old Questions

I was looking over some pictures and stuff from our trip to Russia in April, and I realized I had a few questions.

Question #1: What is going on here?

This is an actual candy bar I picked up just before our overnight train trip from Penza to Moscow. I did not get a chance to ask our hosts what it said, but I was intrigued by the packaging. I mean, what is the problem? Chocolate lovers with ED amongst the party faithful? I had never heard of such a thing.

I will not eat it. I will not open it for fear of fumes if it hits the air. Like I am going to start walking around the house saying things like "Who's your Dostoevsky?"

It seems like a most unusual product, and there were no other gender or age specific candy bars that I could find.

Question #2: Do people still need these?


You cannot easily tell from the picture, but this is a refrigerator magnet with the old USSR symbol on it. I bought it at the Moscow airport on the way home.

Apparently they do not need these anymore as they are selling them in the exit lounge as you are leaving the country.


Question #3: Would this be a cool cell tower on I-35 going into Waco from the south?


Now this ain't no refrigerator magnet. This was out in the middle of nowhere on a side trip to the home of the Russian poet Lermontov about an hour outside of Penza. Not sure why it was there, other than it was a holdover in an area where no one cared to spend money to take it down.

Maybe Verizon Wireless could use it. After all I-45 has that huge Sam Houston statue in Huntsville.

Question #4: Didn't they get rid of all these statues years ago?


Yes, that is Lenin in Penza standing in front of the City Hall. I remember news stories of statues toppling in Moscow, but he is alive and well and living in downtown Penza. Not far from where I almost got arrested for taking a picture in a no picture zone. Another story for another day. I guess there are some that still like Vlad and yearn for the old days. Same everywhere I guess.


However, if push came to shove, I am sure old Sam could take him in a fair fight.


November 12, 2008

Book Meme: Tag I'm It.

I was tagged in a book meme by my blog buddy Barry at who am i? (I'll figure out how to thank him later).

I have to pick up the nearest book with at least 123 pages, turn
to the 123rd page, find the 5th sentence and post the three sentences
immediately after that. The book I grabbed was Five Weeks In A Balloon by Jules Verne. Here goes:

Well sir, it's just a notion that's got into my head: we might hitch them to the car, and make them tow us along.

What do you sat to that, doctor?

Poor Joe! Another person had that idea in advance of you.


Now the five lucky people I picked are:

Go to it gang. I am now going to follow links back a bit and see what others are doing.

Cats and Dogs

When we had both, I am sure this is how they spoke to each other. I have always been a dog person (as you can probably tell from my profile photo), so I didn't look hard for a corresponding cat joke.

I will give equal time if you have one to share.
clipped from www.crazy-jokes.com
http://www.crazy-jokes.com/pictures/dog-cat.jpg

Basic Training For the Biblical Man



The attached audio presentation from Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church is about an hour long, so you need some time to go through it. But it is worth listening to. Mark does a nice job laying out how we should approach being a biblical man in today's world. It is from 2007 but a friend sent it to me to screen before we send to another friend. It is worth listening to when you have some time, maybe in smaller snippets.

This isn't really religion, this is about living your life based on the principles in the bible. A Christ centered man living a biblical life. And to me that is way more important than talking and living religion. Because religion was designed by man, but the bible was written by God. The bible talks about the only man who really knows how to design a worldview, Jesus Christ.

Being that kind of stand up guy, that is what it is all about. To me that is a real man. I do not want to be a religious man, I want to be a bible guy.

November 11, 2008

Oleology

For butter or worse. I am having a hard time believing there are 3 chemical butters on the market.
clipped from uncommonpics.com
Philosophies of butter

Veterans Day Chapel

We had a very nice chapel service today at seminary. It was uplifting to hear a military chaplain talk about his ministry, it was touching to recognize faculty, staff and students who are serving or have served in the military, it was heart-stirring to sing the national anthem.

It was great to honor the service of others with a patriotic show of feelings that still recognized Jesus as our Lord and Savior. A wonderful combination. We place God first, and honor all else we do by doing that.


The Leader Board

Yesterday I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the latest session of The Leader Board. These 5 half day sessions are an excellent chance to get some great bible teaching as well as hear from Christian business leaders.

This latest session included:

  • Bible Study - Dr. Howard Hendricks led us through Titus 3:1-15 covering three aspects of a Christian's life style. The Christian's Obligation, Motivation and Reaction to life.
  • Keynote Speaker - Carlos Sepulveda, President & CEO of Interstate Battery System International gave a great talk on personal and team effectiveness beginning with the individual. He gave us much food for thought: there are no business ethics, just ethics, why do some people not have them?; all of life is two activities-resource allocation and conflict resolution; you should pursue and lay hold of that which is good and identify and flee that which is bad. I do not do his talk justice.
  • Panel-Along with Carlos Sepulveda, Andy Horner (Founder-Premier Designs, Inc.), Lee Roy Mitchell (Founder-Cinemark USA Inc.) and Dave Ridley (SVP, Southwest Airlines) handled a Q&A regarding such things like living a Chrisitan walk in business, managing and coaching people, and learning from biggest failures. The panel had some great ideas: God call us to love people unconditionally, not emply them unconditionally; You build up people, they build up the company; Blarney is taking something uninteresting and making it interesting, my mother called it lying.
There was ample break time and breakfast beforehand for networking. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I hope I get to go again in 2009.


November 10, 2008

Drug Screening for Employees

clipped from www.funandmusic.biz
http://www.funandmusic.biz/funny-pic-pepsi-worker.jpg

The Even Darker Side of the Refugee Issue

I have to admit that until I signed up for the current Bloggers Unite event I was not all that familiar with the refugee problem.

Shame on me.

I asked a friend and staff member at my church what information she could share with me about our efforts as a church. We are planning to devote some church resources and energy around the theme of social justice in the world. I am quite glad that the people in my church are more knowledgeable than me, and are al;ready jumping into this.

As I read information about refugees in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur just to name a few locations, certain words keep coming up:


Human trafficking.

AIDS.

Starvation.

Disease.

Genocide.

Civil war.

It is horrifying as you look at what is causing refugee situations across the globe, and what these poor people are being subject to.

It almost makes the term refugee become a way of glossing over the real horrors, of making the situation palatable for prime time U.S. news coverage. Of letting us feel good about helping without really understanding the depth of human depravity that drives this behavior to other people, and the depths of human suffering endured as a result. This is not making little or light of what the refugee problem is, this is more about me not understanding the depth of the root causes behind the refugee problem. And wondering how many others are in a similar position (one of ignorant obliviousness) as I.

I am glad my church will get involved in some way to help in trying to alleviate this staggering problem.

I pray your church does as well. I pray that you do as well. But most of all, I pray that I get more involved going forward. Because I have not been doing anything up to now.

And we do it in a way that focuses on the bare, naked, brutal truth of the matter at hand. That we not hide behind any attempt to make it a more palatable issue to see and deal with around the dinner table. For there are so many who have no table to sit around and discuss the issue, they are fighting for their lives everyday.



Bloggers UniteBloggers UniteBloggers Unite


November 9, 2008

This Might Be A Useful Tool

We have all been on both sides of this one at some point. Works for blog posts, comments and replies as well.
clipped from xkcd.net
Listen to Yourself

Keeping a Focus

As I have mentioned earlier I now have four day weekends. This one seems busier than usual as far as scheduled, time-sensitive activities are concerned:

Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Monday
But it is all good. (OK, the homework links are not really homework, but more of what I look at to divert myself when I am supposed to be doing homework) I am enjoying myself, eating too much and not trying very hard to work it off.

But I am keeping my focus on what is important and getting it done. I find that the busier the weekend, the higher the energy level, the more satisfaction from accomplishment. I can always sleep in class on Tuesday.

Just kidding.

I have to try this again. I appear to have the cultural and culinary aspects covered. But maybe a low-carb version next time.


November 8, 2008

True Genius is Often Unappreciated

OK. This one looks like an answer I would give.

The student obviously understands the concept of Occam's razor ("All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."), whether they have ever heard of it (or even are old enough or need to shave).

It is a poorly worded question. "Solve for x" would have been better. The student found found x.

And yet they get no credit for it. Alas, the world is oft not fair.
clipped from www.masalatime.com
Collection of Funniest & Hilarious Exam Answers

The Legitimacy of Longevity

We went to see the King Tutankhamun (Tut to his friends) exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art yesterday. Good exhibit, very interesting. he may not be a household word, but he is certainly extremely well known. The Boy King ruled for 10 years, died before he was 20. A CT scan in 2005 noted he had great teeth, no cavities (it is good to be king). A short rule, no major monuments, no bible mention, nothing to really distinguish him other than he turned his people from the false religion of his father to the false religion of his older predecessors.

But it struck me that the were Pharaohs of greater import, but they lacked something Tut has. Stamina, longevity and a fair amount of historical luck. His tomb was intact, lots of priceless artifacts were found so he became a big. big deal in modern times. OK, his stamina and longevity came after death and took 3000 years, but come it did.

Think of how many people or things in our world today that were less than big deals years ago. But they have the legitimacy of longevity. Stay around long enough and people accept you as a bigger deal than you used to be.

It works for things of this world, but it doesn't seem to work for Jesus. I fear the world has His legitimacy going the other way right now. And if anyone has shown stamina and longevity after death, it is He.

He is still in this world, impacting lives in the most positive way unlike my buddy Tut. I pray that He gains a greater measure of the legitimacy of longevity so that more come to His name. He does not need the accolades, but He clearly wants the sheep behind them. Why treat a dead Boy King better than the living Eternal King?


November 7, 2008

I Imagine Some People Cannot Wait to Get One

Why not if it is free?

It's a Wonderful (Prayer)Life!

I have been reading a lot about prayer and the need to pray the past few days. It makes me wonder about a few things. I talked about prayer yesterday so forgive me if I am redundant. But I feel it in my heart to do another post. Here goes:

  • Has the need for prayer dramatically increased in the past day or so?
  • Why do we feel the need to engage in fervent prayer when things aren't going as we think they should that seems to outstrip the need for prayer at other times?
Hey, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, if I did, I would probably poke myself in the eye as well. But it almost seems that there is a shortfall of faith and trust in Jesus if we feel prayer needs to be ramped up since Tuesday.

We have problems to solve in this country, we have elected a man that the majority feels is suited to do so. Our prayers should be with him as strongly as with the sitting President.

And God was, is and always be sovereign, so His will was done once again. Surprised?

I hope not.

I encourage prayer, but with an attitude of humility and thankfulness that we can come before our Father's throne in supplication. Not with an arrogance that we had better pray up now because it is really needed now as never before.

And it will be needed in four years, and eight years, no matter who is elected.

November 6, 2008

Let Me Not Think Myself Better

...than others.

I have read quite a bit posted in blogs the past day and I want to say I need prayer.

  • That I think myself better than others because I am a sinner as all are who needs Jesus to redeem me from my sin
  • That I remain in prayer for those who do not hold my views that one day they may see the Lord as I do
  • That I love not less but more to match the turning of others away from Him
  • That I steep and soak in His word, not only for my own edification but to be used for His glory
  • That I am sold our for Jesus, my life to be used as he will
I worry about pride and arrogance, I yearn for faith and obedience.

It is so easy to assume your position is correct, that you are tolerant as others are not, that you have wisdom others should want.

All I have that others should want was given to me by another as a gift. I am no better than those who do not have it, nor better than others that have the same gift.

But I have what all should want and all can get. And it is available for the asking.

Belief

"To believe is to commit. In the area of intellectual learning I commit
myself mentally, and reject anything not related to that belief. In the
realm of personal belief I commit myself morally to my convictions and
refuse to compromise. But in intimate personal belief I commit myself
spiritually to Jesus Christ and make a determination to be dominated by
Him alone." Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest - November 6

What do you believe in? What do you place faith in? What do you take stock in?

Intellectual pursuits are not enough because they are based on what humanity knows and that will fall short. Moral convictions are not enough because that is based on what a person believes is right and relying on self will fall short or lead you astray.

Only faith and trust in Jesus will get you where you need to be in your daily walk through life. It is through Him that you can make sense out of your pursuits and convictions. It is through Him that the words and thoughts of others may sing as loudly for you as it does for them.

His is the music we need to play, ever more loudly in a world that would seek to drown it out.


November 5, 2008

On the Lighter Side

clipped from www.snorgtees.com
http://www.snorgtees.com/images/PirateEncyclopedia_Fullpic_1.gif

Reflections From My Past

I have for the past three years I have been keeping a journal on a verse from Scripture from my daily reading. The journal is a 5 year one, one page has a little space for an entry for all 5 years, my journal ends December 31, 2010. I am going to have a lot of space left on the February 29th page, but that is not the point.

I get to record a daily reflection and look back to a year ago (and now two and soon three years) and see what was in my mind and what grabbed my heart and head on that particular day. Here is what happened on November 5, 2006.

Here is what I read:

"For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light." Luke 8:17 (NASB)

Here is what I wrote:

"Nothing is hidden from God Almighty. He can and will reveal all. My life is an open book to Him, pages to be written on by Him, now that I have surrendered to Him the life I now live. Nothing is too small for Him to care for nor too big to handle."

Here is how I felt today:

God is in control and I have known it for years. He can handle the big stuff and I do not need to sweat the small stuff.


Things You Do Not Want To Hear

This is not a political post, this is about something else. My political posts are done, today I am going for the inane again.

There are certain things in life one does not want to hear:

  • Barry White melodies or Broadway show tunes running through your head if you happen to wake up at 3am in the morning (have heard them both)
  • The dentist saying "oops" when he is putting a crown in your mouth (happened to a friend). It was lost but found two days later. Just think about that a second
  • "We got a warning light tower. We are going to turn around go back down the runway and try again (heard on a small commuter plane flying out of Cleveland a few years ago)
  • "It's not you, it's me" (No wait, I used to say that 30 years ago when I was single and pagan)
  • "Bless his heart" in the middle of a prayer request (you know the type, aka, gossip)
  • "Where did everyone go?"(if you are pre-tribulational)
Let me know if you have some favorites.

November 4, 2008

Where No One Has Washed Before


As a big fan of the original series (even though I dropped "man" for "one" in the title) this one caught my eye. I just cannot decide if the sink being on is the phaser or the photon torpedo.

He is a God of Order

Today being Election Day, I have decided not to discuss politics. Which is not surprising given that you can count my political entries on one hand and have fingers left over to whistle for a taxi.

Sometime today we will elect a new President, and we will hear about it soon enough.

I am just happy that I have a God who is a God of order. The sun rises and sets, and so does the moon. The stars wheel across our night sky. But our God is sovereign and never surprised. Our God is gracious and merciful and never has an off day.

I accept that deeply within my heart and trust in Him. Yet I do seem to spend a lot of time planning and organizing for the future. Am I being unfaithful? I do not think so (tell me if you differ). I believe He is a God of order in how He has purposed the workings of the universe He created, and I think He wants us to order our lives as well.

I think I can plan for the future and ponder contingencies without being worried about the future. It comes down to a heart issue. I can plan for a future as long as I accept it is His to reveal as he will. He wants us not just busy but industrious and in service, ministering with love and empathy. Planning our activities and planning how to utilize the gifts and resources he bestows on us.

But with a heart that accepts that His will be done.

He is a God of order and today will unfold as he deems. Don't kid yourself about that. Time will tell me what he already knows. So I can plan to receive it when He reveals it. So I do not worry about how the results turn out today. This is probably why I do not write about politics more often.

November 3, 2008

Merger Mania

It probably will not happen, but the merger of two organizations: World Wrestling Federation and World Wildlife Fund?
clipped from apina.biz
6580.jpg

I Wish I Had Seen This Live!


I missed this on Saturday night, but it is great. My thanks to Caffeinated Thoughts for posting it after they saw it. My wife and I got quite a laugh out of a well done performance.





HT: Dave Price via Shane Vander Hart