Monthly Archives: May 2013

Led Into Temptation – Again

cnn

I confess, I was weak. I saw the story on CNN about “Famous Atheists and Their Beliefs” and after ignoring it for several days I peeked.

Look, I also confess that we believers make fools of ourselves and one another. Christians despised Jews for centuries, conveniently forgetting that the early Church met in the synagogues. That before Paul got knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus Christian membership was limited to Jews. That the Apostles were all Jews, and, oh by the way, Jesus was a Jew, of the House of David and He was the Messiah promised to the Jews.

After the schism, Protestants aired their grievances (and very legitimate grievances they were) about the Catholics. As time went on, the various flavors of Protestant began to differentiate from one another and rejected each other for reasons real and imagined.

And then there are the Muslims; sons of Ibraham, whom we call our ancestor  Abraham. They suffer as much infighting as Christians, and suffer lunatics who have successfully hijacked the title if not their beliefs.

The Atheists seem to have a solidarity with all not believing in the same thing and supporting each other’s disbelief. The believers, on the other hand, are not nearly as supportive of one another.

Maybe we believers should agree on a few things:

  • We are all seeking God.
  • As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we humans don’t have the answers.
  • God seems to open doors, paths and ways to reach Him.

Most importantly

  • God loves us.

We won’t see an article about “Famous Believers and What They Believe.” But as believers, we don’t need to.

Why I Like the Bible Better Than the Internet

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On one hand, the Bible is a slow read. On the other hand, it has everything – poetry, stories of adventure, cleverness, succeed, failure, and a fair amount of sex and violence.

But that’s not why I like it.

When I read the news on the internet I get angry, depressed, upset and frustrated.

When I read the Bible, I always find at least something that applies to me – to make me a little better or a little wiser.

It’s not by accident that the word “gospel” means “Good News.”

Memorial Day

 

This morning I read an article telling how many memorials built to honor those who died or served in the First World War are falling into disrepair. With a tight economy, many can’t be repaired. World War One was known as the Great War and the “War to End All Wars.” Little did we know.

Men and women have always gone off to serve, prepared to give what Lincoln called “the last full measure.” They should be remembered, but memorial buildings and monuments aren’t necessary. The second most impressive memorial I’ve ever seen is Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknowns. We don’t know names, but we know their spirit. We remember.

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By far the most impressive memorial that too many of us have seen is very temporary. Combat boots with an inverted M-16, dog tags and a helmet. This was the memorial for the service members we had lost from our base. It seems like there was always more than one.

The base theater/chapel was where these were placed and as the military members entered, the placed their rifles under the pews – bumping the boxes of tissues that had already been prepositioned there. The lost member might be from any service – we all were working together.

Friends spoke of the fallen. We’d file past the memorials and render a slow salute; commanders would leave their unit coin as a tribute to each of the fallen.

An hour after the troops left, the memorials were gone.

It’s what comes from the heart that remembers these heroes, not necessarily buildings or stadiums. So today, remember – from the heart.

Time and Money

time-and-money-by-shadphotos

The old saying, “Time is money” resonates with many people. After all, those of us who work for a living exchange our time for our wages.

But there’s a huge difference between the two. First and foremost, you can bank money or you can inherit it, but the time you are given is all that you will ever have.

You can, and should, do good things with money through your church, the Red Cross or whatever, but contributing your time is more heartfelt.

You can spend money on your kids to send them off to a world class boarding school, but spending time with them on school work and after school activities is more precious. Kids may not like to hear that you can’t afford a particular item, but they understand. However, if you don’t share your time when it would be possible to do so, that’s very different.

I think when we face our God, He will but much more interested in how we spent our time and be less interested in what we did with our money.

Lights! Action!

Sorry – it’s been busy around here. As I get older, the medical types seem to find more things they can poke, prod or test.

And to think I used to be on the OTHER side of the examination spectrum.

Poetic justice? Perhaps.

free-shipping-3528-led-strip-christmas-decorate-light-high-quality-led-string-lamp-life-long-led-lamp-tape

In the meantime, my wife found an idea online on how to convert a regular lamp to a cordless one. They sell LEDs (light emitting diodes) on tape; you just cut off what you need and save the rest for later.

So we took an old table lamp, placed the handy self-sticking led tape to the top and bottom of the lampshade (on the inside, of course), ran it through the lamp to some batteries, and voila! A cordless lamp.

Actually, more of a very bright night light.

However, it fits in with all my hurricane preparation stuff, but does so with style.

And my wife likes it.

Sex and Marriage in the Future

It was a very nice meal at one of those restaurants that people save for special occasions. It had included Cloned Breast of Duck with a delightful artificial orange flavoring, genetically engineered hydroponic rice and even a very nice bottle of Ohio’s finest hybrid sugar beet wine. Afterwards the couple walked along one of the main thoroughfares, down the escalator and into the public transportation dematerialization chamber.

They rematerialized several hundred kilometers away and walked from the station to her home. He followed her inside and sat down as she removed her coat.

“What a nice night,” she offered. “I know lots of girls have sex with their dates just because it’s expected, but you really went out of your way to make me feel special, so I’m actually looking forward to it.

“Uhh, I’d rather not,” he replied.

“Are you breaking up with me?” she asked.

“No,” he replied. “But, we’ve known each other ever since we were kids, we’ve been spending a lot of time together and I think you’re special – really, really special.”

“You think I’m special so you don’t want to have sex with me?”

“Not exactly.” She looked at him puzzled as he continued.

“You know I’m working on my dissertation in anthropological history, and as I was doing research I came across some very old data files. I mean these date from before the twenty-first century. They were so old that they had originally been printed on paper in a form called a magazine.” He paused.

“You could at least come over and sit by me,” he offered. She hesitated and sat next to him making sure to leave space between the two of them.

“Anyway,” he continued, “They used to have a custom in which one man and one woman would make an agreement to spend their life together and share everything. They promised to stick together through the good and the bad. The only people they had sex with were each other.” She looked at him with interested amazement.

“Did that arrangement work?”

“Not always. Some couples parted when life got challenging. Some got bored with each other. Some had sex with other people – they called that ‘cheating’ and since it negated the exclusiveness it seriously endangered the marriage.”

“Why did they stop this marriage thing?”

“As near as I can tell, the celebrities were the trend setters and didn’t value marriage, so people lost interest. The definition of marriage changed and eventually marriage could include two or more people of whatever combination of sexes. Once it lost the sense of commitment, it eventually just faded away.”

“So how did this marriage thing originally work?” she asked.

“Well, a couple would date for a while – like we’ve been doing – and decide if they loved and liked each other enough to commit to each other exclusively. This led to something called an engagement, a period when they let others know that they were planning to be married. Finally, they would have a big ceremony with family and friends at which they would be declared married, followed by a huge party. Then they’d start their life as a couple.”

“That sounds wild and radical,” she began, then paused. “And very romantic.” She tried to move closer to him on the couch, but to her surprise he suddenly stood up, turned to face her and knelt on one knee.

“The engagement usually started with the man proposing and offering his intended partner a gift.” She watched as he opened a small box that contained a diamond ring. He asked her a question, but she didn’t really hear his words. All she knew was she answered with a yes.

When Jesus Was a Kid

From time to time, like all parents, I get frustrated with my kids. You know the drill – dirty socks in unlikely places; sudden disappearances when chores need to be done and convenient bouts of selective memory.

It makes me wonder what Mary and Joseph experienced when Jesus was a child. Although always divine, Jesus was nevertheless human, and as such needed to learn, just as every child does, by making mistakes.

I can picture Joseph searching his workshop for a tool that young Jesus had borrowed and not returned.

Mary wiping up Jesus’ spilled milk, bread crumbs or perhaps honey dripped on the table.

Mary probably wondered how one kid could get his clothes so dirty and Joseph was amazed at how quickly He outgrew sandals.

Makes me feel like I’m in good company.

Governments Around the World

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All of us studied civics in school during which we learned about the three branches of the United States government, the difference between a republic and a democracy, and why we have the Electoral College. Other countries have different systems, of course, so it might be useful to understand how some of their systems work.

North Korea: The guy with the goofiest haircut gets to be in charge.

Italy: The male who throws the outrageous parties wins.

France: The man with the prettiest mistress, but of course.

Somalia: Actually, Somalia has no national government but it is doing far better than when It had one.

Ancient Israel: Whoever the high priest anointed with oil was in charge.

Modern Afghanistan: Whoever the CIA anoints with money is in charge.

Venezuela: The president of the Che Guevera fan club is also in the country’s president.

Russia: If you’re Vladimir Putin, you get to be in charge – regardless of what title you or anyone else are currently using.

The Cicadas Are Coming!

insects.tamu.edu

insects.tamu.edu

The online news media has been anticipating the arrival of Brood II cicadas since the first daffodils bloomed. Here’s the coverage in a nutshell…

“There will be 30 million of them!”

“They’re coming! They’re coming!”

“Hundreds have been spotted in North Carolina” (which probably means an anonymous phone caller asked “I found this weird bug. What do you think it is?”)

“Really! They’re coming!”

“They’re hatching in southern Virginia!” (I live a few miles from the North Carolina border, which to me means southern Virginia. Ain’t seen, heard, nor smelt any yet.)

However, I like cicadas.

Anything that bumps politicians and celebrities off the news is a good thing.

Part Time Americans

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I got sucked in by one of those online “news stories” that actually was at least 6 months old. The article purported that wealthy Americans were giving up their citizenship to avoid paying taxes particularly on money earned, kept or hidden overseas.

I’ve read that with our progressive tax system about half don’t pay any income tax and/or may receive a credit from the government. Likewise, reports indicate that the top one percent pay 30% of the taxes to the federal government. (I’m not saying these are correct, as Mark Twain reportedly said, “There’s lies, damned lies and statistics.”)

At first I thought it might be worth our while to try to induce these folks to stay around in order to catch the tax revenue, but then I dug a little deeper.

It appears that most of them don’t actually live here. I’m guessing many have dual citizenship, so they’re more like part time Americans.

Since money is more important than their citizenship, I figure they’re at best fair-weather Americans; at worst, American in name only.

I prefer us normal, not wealthy, plain old every day Americans, anyway.

To the rich who are turning in their passports, “Don’t let the bank vault door hit you in ass on your way out!”

Mothers’ Day Message

animals.nationalgeographic.com

animals.nationalgeographic.com

Yesterday was my first Mothers’ Day after the loss of my own mother. It was very strange not picking out a card for her or hearing her voice on the phone.

Regular readers may remember that when she died, I wrote about how she loved hummingbirds. If there was a tchotchke in the shape of a hummingbird, she had it. I had decided back then to plant some hummingbird friendly flowers in a particular part of the front garden. One of the kids’ schools had a fundraiser with “seed blankets;” you know, “just lay on the ground, cover with a little soil and in a matter of weeks you’ll enjoy the flowers.” I planted several of the seed blankets, including one for the hummingbird garden.

So far, nothing.

Mothers’ Day morning it was cold and raining. As I was leaving for church, I looked across the yard, and there was a hummingbird hovering over my neighbors’ flowers.

As soon as I saw it, it flew away.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom.

Planning for the Future

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Feeling better, the young mother walked down the hall to look into the nursery at her newborn, when she noticed the well-dressed gentleman.

“Which baby is yours?” she asked. The stranger laughed.

“Oh, no, I’m not a parent,” he replied. “I’m a talent scout.”

“Scouting newborns?”

“Absolutely,” he replied. “I’ve got two positions I need to fill, and by the time children reach their first birthday, it’s far too late for grooming.” The new mother looked puzzled.

“Each generation needs to have its pre-teen heartthrobs, and that means the entertainment industry needs to identify candidates early. I’m currently on retainer to find both the male and female pre-teen heartthrobs this time around.”

“Pre-teen heartthrobs?” asked the mother.

“Oh, yes,” the talent scout replied. “Someone for the young girls to gush over; In the past we had Rudolf Valentino, Frank Sinatra, Donny Osmond, boy bands and now, Justin Bieber.”

“And the boys?”

“We take care of them, too. Over the years we provided Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Annette Funicello, Lady Gaga. Hmmmm. That baby, third from the left might have potential.”

“No!” the mother stated firmly. “I didn’t go through 18 hours of labor so Hollywood could make a nutcase out of my son. I think it would be best for you to leave.

“Now!” she insisted as she walked into the nursery, picked up her son and held him tightly.

Things You and I Wouldn’t Really Say

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There are some wonderful quotes throughout history. However, what some people would say would be very different from such wonderful literary quotations.

“I want to die with you, Wendy, on the streets tonight in an everlasting kiss.” – Bruce Springsteen; “Born to Run”

“Hey, baby, you’re like, not-too-bad,”

“I came. I saw. I conquered.’ – Julius Casesar

“General, in accordance with reference (a) [OPORDER 12345], objective achieved 23hours 10 minutes Zulu.Over.”

“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country!”- Nathan Hale upon being hanged as a Yankee spy.

“Ngggh”

“The torch has been passed to a new generation…” John F. Kennedy, Inaugural speech.

“Hey, dude, you’re old, go away.”

“That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armsrtong, the first man on the moon.

“Ha! Take that Madonna, and Kanye and everybody else. I did it! Me! Ha! Take that you losers!”

Maybe that’s why we look up to those people who said it first, and better..

Forgotten Hero

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“America’s Greatest Flag Officer” by Chuck Steele which appears in the June 2013 issue of Naval History magazine, is fascinating. When most people thing of World War I they immediately think of John “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing’s success and reputation is no accident; he chose assignments based on how well they would benefit his future success. While stationed at Fort Russell in Wyoming, he married Frances Warren the daughter of the most powerful politician in the state (also named Francis).

Pershing used his political clout with Teddy Roosevelt to be promoted from captain directly to brigadier general, skipping over 3 ranks and 860 senior officers. He achieved the highest rank ever awarded – “U.S. General of the Armies” equivalent to a six-star general. It was such a unique honor that Congress in 1976 posthumously promoted George Washington out of courtesy.

In the meantime, William S. Sims career was unfolding in somewhat a similar manner. The difference was that he tended to seek assignments that would better the ability of the Navy, taking chances that could have hurt his career but were nevertheless the right thing to do. He accepted assignments that exposed him to the British, French and Russian Navies, and when he realized that the US Navy was not an equal, he pressed against the bureaucracy for years to bring about improvements. It’s testimony to his ability that he was able to take on the establishment and still be promoted.

American entry into the world war was critical to its outcome, and it ended a year and a half later. During that time, Sims was a most effective officer, while Pershing managed to infuriate his French counterpart.

Today, history remembers Pershing and has all but forgotten Sims. However, Sims made his choices based on what was best for the Navy, and did not seek glory, so I think he’d be fine with that.

Status Report

Stardate 2013.05072013.19.10

Came home from work, tired.

wx.findu.com/ke8yn

wx.findu.com/ke8yn

Scanners indicate potential meteorological event consisting of precipitation, changes in barometric pressure, surface winds and possible deadly electrical activity in the atmosphere.

Indications are that home surrounding of fescue (festuca) Pooideae (lawn grass) is growing outside of optimal parameters. Quickly utilized lawn tractor (shuttle) to ensure compliance to conform with regional norms.

Consulted with representative of other species (Alex – Monk parrot) and he advised me that upon completion of fescue mission, I should withdraw and conduct restorative maneuvers.

Poured wine.

Blogged.

Good night.

What Am I Missing?

 

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I must be missing out on a great part of life without even knowing it. While I know I’m missing “it,” I don’t know what “it” is. Others seem to be massively engaged, while I’m left out of the excitement.

I speak, of course, of the people who must constantly be talking on their cell phones. They drive with their phone to their ear, walk while talking on the phone and even shop while similarly engaged.

It must be important, because they seem to speak loudly and with great excitement.

I suppose a top legal expert or a neurosurgeon might have to consult at a moment’s notice, but since I see a lot of this activity at Wal-Mart, I suspect that these are not necessarily among the highest paid in-demand professionals.

Are they getting advice on which breakfast cereal has the highest fiber content? The best canned asparagus? Which box of wine is most highly rated?

Whatever it is, it sure must be important, and I feel left out.

Who Speaks for Me?

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The Bible
The History Channel
http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible

When we see family or tribal based societies, we have difficulty appreciating them. Many Muslim countries adhere to these relationships just as the Jews did throughout the Bible. The father, as head of the family could speak on behalf of the whole family – and the extended family. All who lived as part of his family were subject to his decisions. Joshua could, therefore, commit his entire household to serve the Lord God.

Imagine how such a commitment might play out today.

“I have committed this family to serve the Lord,” said Joshua as he walked into his suburban home outside a major American city.

“Now, Joshua,” replied his wife. “We’ve talked about you committing me to things without me agreeing to it, first. You can say whatever you want, but don’t expect me to blindly follow.”

“Dad!” replied his eldest son. “All the kids are into worshiping the Baals! I’m not going to be a social outcast, just because of you.”

“Hey, don’t look at me,” replied another child. “I’m your stepson. When I talk to my REAL dad, he’ll be honked off.”

Today the dynamics are different. In a faith centric family, the husband and wife are hopefully already on the same page. Two committed adults are stronger than one and better able to guide the family together. It’s different, in that each of us has more of a voice.

But that means each of us is called upon to commit ourself to God and his way individually as opposed to relying on someone else to commit us.

DO NOT READ THIS BLOG!

I warned you not to read this.

 

Put the tablet down. Step away from the computer. Show me your hands – and I don’t want to see a smartphone.

 

Go outside and look at the flowers, or new leaves, or the melting snow, depending where you live.

 

Walk over to your significant other, look them straight in the eye and just enjoy what beautiful eyes they have.

 

Hold hands with someone, unless you feel compelled to give them a hug.

 

Look at your kids and realize what a miracle they are – even if they do drop everything on the floor.

 

Compliment someone on something you enjoy about them.

 

Isn’t that better than reading a blog?

Is Knowledge Power?

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We are a data driven society. Polls are taken regarding virtually any subject and consume far more of the media than the actual events they attempt to predict. Reliable instant communications allows twenty-four hour news to feed us information on scandals far and wide. We are shocked by the collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh or by the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria. We have access to unemployment data, Gross Domestic Product and how each affects Wall Street in real time.

We believe that if we decode all the data in DNA, we could recreate mammoths, or even dinosaurs.

Satellites feed us data to allow us to accurately predict the weather days in advance (except when the surprise severe storm appears.)

Does that make us powerful? I think not.

Knowledge is only powerful when it is used to make a decision and then execute that decision. If we read about a disaster and it causes us (and countless others) to make a donation to an organization that is helping out, that’s powerful. If knowing about a house fire causes us to check our smoke detectors and buy a fire extinguisher that means something.

Merely knowing is inconsequential. Knowing what to do with what you’ve learned is wherein the power lies.