Friday, November 4, 2011
I thought I had seen and heard just about everything. But I was wrong. Again.
Richard Dawkins, one of the Smartest People around - at least in his own mind that those of his admirers - said one of the absolutely Stupidest Things I have ever heard.
What he said was, "... that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”
Really?! The arrogance of some men simply knows no bounds. Maybe Mr. Richard Dawkins is the Nimrod of our day - full of himself even when standing before God (see Genesis 10:9).
One request: Mr. Dawkins, please don't be a Nimrod (again), you are just a man no matter how smart you are, while Jesus is God.
Deal with it.
What is it like to be brought back to life?
What is it like to live in a coma for 10 days?
What is it like to be in recovery with instructions to always try to “do more,” but not “too much?”
What is it like, days later while walking about, to see the one, “I take one look and know the man, as well as I know my brother. This man was my “respiratory therapist.” His was the first face I saw on waking from my coma.”
One of his thoughts, “To say what you feel towards these people and all the others of your friends and family is a sense of "gratitude" does not even begin to get on the scale of what you feel.....”
This is Gerard Van der Leun's story. It happened to him. You may read his story/essay here. It is a great read - as are the comments.
More importantly though after reading Gerard's story, wonder how it be when we finally recover from this life and meet Jesus in the eternal next life.
The author of the above article gives us a glimpse of what it will be like to meet the man who gives us eternal salvation.
Perhaps, (paraphrasing) “To say what I will feel towards the people and all the others, friends and family, who never stopped praying for me and my salvation is a sense of "gratitude" that does not even begin to get on the scale of what I feel. After all, I am in heaven and could have ended up in hell."
My gratitude? Boundless.
You don’t know (maybe you suspect) the number of times I have hoped and prayed you would quit and give up your dream of making a living from handmade jewelry and hand dyed yarn.
Tonight is a different story. Don’t Quit! Don’t Give Up! I was wrong. I think I knew I was wrong in my heart of hearts (you know – the place sealed by the Holy Spirit) and that’s probably the reason I never voiced my concerns to you. Now I won’t be voicing them, except to say (with a great deal of humility), “I was wrong.”
Just watched two videos on “made by hand” and the first one was on handmade kitchen knives (kitchen knives!) of all things. Something gritty inside me really responded to that video. Maybe it was time spent around machinery in a machine shop, working in my Dad’s garage a few times, or working in my own garage when I used to do my own automotive maintenance.
Maybe it was something else. I don’t know.
I do know something in me responded deeply to the video.
Then I watched the second video on a startup micro distillery. It was part way through the second video I began to understand you and your passion for almost anything handmade.
To tell the truth, I still don’t get all of it. But I get enough of it now to say to you Dear Daughter, “Don’t Quit! Don’t Give Up!”
I love you and as always wish you the greatest success in your endeavors. Now fill up your website, DaharaDreaming.com, with handmade products ready for the market.
PS: One day you may have to give up, but only after you have tried your best and your hardest.
(h/t americandigest.org for initial links)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Now one billion is a big number (really big as one billion seconds is approximately 31.7 years) and seven billion is obviously seven times greater.
Many people are already in despair and claiming the sky is about to fall because we now have seven billion people on our planet. They are asking, "What are we going to do about this incredible population explosion before we are all lost and drown in this sea of humanity."
First of all a little perspective is called for here.
Let's just answer one question first, "Where in the world could we put so many people?"
Answer: "How about Texas? It is the second largest state in the USA with 268,820 sq. miles which computes to 7,494,271,488,000 square feet (sf) or about 7.5 Trillion sf."
A little division and that comes out to about 1,071 sf available per person in Texas alone for all (every single person) seven billion.
Imagine that, everyone in Texas and the rest of the world vacant, empty, devoid of mankind.
But few people will live alone in their 1,071 sf (lots of folks, like married couples and families) will share 1,071 sf or a bit more. If apartment buildings are used for most people, then half or more of Texas would be vacant as well. Or would it be vacant?
Probably not. The rest of Texas would be full of roads, shopping centers, restaurants, manufacturing and anything else 7,000,000,000 people might be interested in.
Heck, if the apartment buildings for all seven billion are Texas sized (many stories high) and made available for most people, then all 7 billion people could fit in less that 33 percent of Texas leaving 67 percent vacant ... along with the rest of the world.
So, forgive me, but no cries of despair here.
However, there is one question that keeps bothering me, "How is the world are we to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to all 7 billion people on this wonderful earth of His?"
It would surely be easier if they were all in Texas.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Things changed in July 2011 when I began breaking down, which I wrote about here. I also wrote about my initial rebuild efforts here. Progress was being made, but I was circumspect in my reporting then.
Not so now. I started out 67 lbs. overweight. That was stage one obesity and I was at the high end of stage one, headed straight towards stage two. Things were not good. Today, I am no longer obese, but I am still overweight – 16 lbs. overweight. I have lost 51 lbs. in just over 12 weeks.
How did this happen? In the second week of the Part-1 Rebuild I was walking across the Great Miami River on the Main Street bridge and stopped midway across. It was then I realized my efforts were doomed to failure.
Even though I had my weight going down and was doing what was necessary I had not asked God to guide my efforts. I am able to do a lot on my own, God has given me great strength of will, but I believed that would not be enough for the task at hand – a return to real health.
My thoughts were guided by a study of Genesis and the trouble Abraham got into time after time when he went off on some direction or action either without involving God in the decision making or not seeking God’s approval. This turned out to be true for his offspring as well until Joseph. My thoughts were also guided by Matthew 12:43-45 where by strength of will a man drives a demon out of his house (out of himself), but the man does not bring God into his heart – the demon returns and brings along seven others. Things end up worse than where he began.
So in the middle of that bridge on a hot (very hot) afternoon, holding on to the railing, looking over the river, I prayed God would involve himself in my seeking for spiritual strength to pursue the weight loss and health as He would have me pursue them and to change in such a way the effort would focus on Him and remain focused there.
God has been faithful throughout the process. I have tripped a few times as I have moved forward on the “Eat Less and Do More” program, but with God as my partner in all I do I have not fallen down. He has always been there to help me avoid eating a single sweet in this time period. He has also provided me with an incredible helpmate – my bride, Sharon. She has walked with me almost every morning and evening.
The program itself has me eating fewer calories than needed to maintain my weight (sufficient to lose some weight) and also to walk 2 to 4 miles of a morning and 2 to 4 miles of an evening. And in my (our) walks, I have reinterpreted WWJD from “What Would Jesus Do” to something new and wonderful “Walk With Jesus Daily” and it works and continues working.
I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it feels to have His strength when sweets are placed in large number before me. The season for snacks and sweets is upon us now. My likely failure during this season is turned into an expected success with the Dietician I am working with day in and day out.
Bottom line: include God in your efforts and let Him give you the strength and ability to succeed. What do you have to lose (literally)?
On our walks together Sharon and I normally hold hands, building intimacy over our normal three or three and a quarter miles. It is an amazing blessing to us. Lately however, I have taken carrying a 10 lb. barbell in each hand for two to 4 mile. Now the blessing is a real increase in muscle tone and strength in the arms and shoulders. Not bad for 63 rapidly approaching 64. God is Good – All the time.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Just how bad?
Ask yourself how many Jews live and work in the area that wants to become a Palestinian state? Take your time, actually look it up.
Okay, time is up. The answer is zero, none, nada.
If you are a Jew in Egypt it is not as bad, but you are actually subject to attack at any time. And if you are attacked because you are mistaken for a Jew, the response is, "Sorry, we thought you were a Jew" as if that explains everything and makes it alright.
It doesn’t .
Since turnabout is fair play, let’s ask how many Palestinians or Arabs work and live in Israel, homeland of the Jewish people?
The answer is approximately 20% of the population of Israel is made up of Arabs or 1.5 million. They live in freedom under the protection of the Jewish state, they and their families living in peace.
And it is Israel that is reviled, not Palestine.
Bad move Mr. President.
So to get the last movie out of our minds/heads, we decided to watch Battle Los Angeles. Not bad, not great, but real entertainment with real (albeit fictional) heroes. We enjoyed it on a few different levels. Especially the acts of heroism within the film, but they seemed somewhat overacted.
Still, we learned a new wartime phrase, “Retreat, Hell!” In the movie it was explained as a USMC motto, especially for the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines according to Wikipedia, when a Marine officer was ordered to retreat and replied “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!”
“Retreat, Hell!” and the movie theatrics had me looking at the movie as a recruiting film for the US Marine Corp and a bit for the US Air Force. The real focus of the movie was clearly on the USMC throughout and the brotherhood of the Marines. Was it overdone? I thought so then but no longer.
Why not any longer?
Well, this past week I read about a real life USMC soldier who has become the first living Marine in 38 years to win the Medal of Honor. Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer while a Corporal serving in Afghanistan, from his citation, received this Medal “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Embedded Training Team 28, Regional Corps Advisory Command 37 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September, 2009.”
That doesn’t tell the half of it, read the citation here or here and find out what conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty really is.
One thing that jumps out at you in reading the facts within the citation is an understanding of why no living Marine has received the Medal of Honor in 38 years. It is nothing short of a miracle that Sergeant Meyer is with us today. The facts of going into battle solo against overwhelming odds three times, the last two while wounded, in the same battle with three different vehicles, gun trucks, saving two dozen Afghan soldiers, is almost too much to believe.
Corporal Dakota Meyer is an incredible embodiment of the spirit of “Retreat, Hell!” I hope you take the time to read the full citation.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
But John is here stating the inverse of the truth he first stated eight verses earlier (1 John 4:8), “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
So how do we go about living in love? A few other verses provide a glimpse at the answer. For instance, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” and “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself” (Hebrews 5:28 and 33a). The more I love my wife, the more I live in love, the more I live in God.
Then there’s “love your neighbor as yourself” first in Leviticus 19:18b as a commandment from YHWH and then from Jesus, his second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Mark 12:31. This is not just for the neighbor I like, but also for the neighbor who has done me wrong, who I could reasonably bear ill will towards. This is not near so nice or as easy as loving my wife as myself. Still, if (big IF) I persevere and “love my neighbor as myself” – the more I do so the more I live in love, the more I live in God. Not so hard if I remember my wife, my bride of 40 years, is my closest neighbor and I begin there.
Finally (for the purposes of this entry) there is the command to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” or “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” first in Deuteronomy 6:5 then in Mark 12:30. Note the addition of “all your mind” in Mark when Jesus give this as his first command.
How can we do this, “Love the LORD our God with all of our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength?” Deuteronomy 30:6, provides a clue, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts … so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
But that was Old Testament, how do are we to do this now, circumcise our hearts? I don't know, but I think Jesus provides the answer in Matthew 18:3, when “he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
As an adult, I need to somehow circumcise my heart to have a heart like that of a little child. I think that is the answer. The first disciples, hard bitten fishermen, did this when they dropped everything to follow Jesus. They, at that time, had the hearts of little children.
With the LORD circumcising my heart, I become like a child living in love, living in God, with God living in me.
To be sure, this was not a movie in the normal “movie” sense. Instead it was a selection from www.chessvideos.tv that was free for public consumption. I titled it “Knightmare!” as it was a case of an eventual good Knight against a bad Bishop where the play with the Knight resulted in a Knightmare for the player with the bad Bishop
Peter Lumbaers with the Black pieces provides solid instruction on how to win with the smallest of advantages – in this case a good Knight vice a bad (but not too bad) Bishop – against Anne Haast with the White pieces.
He is very frank about the position being a draw, until Ms. Haast made an error resulting in amplifying Lumbaers’ Knight’s mobility as well as that of his King.
If you care to watch 25 minutes of quality instruction for free, you may find the game here. I have seen it three times and enjoyed it each time as well as learning something each time.
Watch, learn, enjoy, and be entertained - all at the same time.
Monday, August 29, 2011
What an eye opener.
When he discusses economic lessons he mentions the shortcomings of both management and labor sovereignty. Both management and labor sovereignty, in a competitive market, are trumped ultimately by Consumer Sovereignty.
To make his point he uses his “chart of the day” to lead off the article where you can see in 1980 Ford had over 300 times as many customer complaints per 100 vehicles as Toyota with 195, while GM was much worse with almost 400 times as many customer complaints as Toyota. No wonder Toyota and similar brands took over much of the U.S. market.
However, as of four years ago (2007) there is a much different story to tell from the same chart. Toyota still has the lowest complaint per 100 cars with 110, but GM only has 1.23 times as many (135) – a vast improvement on both companies. Ford did even better with only 1.13 times as many (124). The companies are now in a virtual statistical tie with the American models coming on strong.
One other website comes to mind when mentioning consumer sovereignty although I do not recall it ever being used there, Gary North’s Specific Answers.
While I don’t recall Dr. North ever using the term, he has given advice many times reminiscent of the term. When a subscriber writes in and wants to know how to “get rich” or “get rich quick” Dr. North often advises them they have chosen the wrong website and then offers the following advice on obtaining wealth – find something you can offer to the consumer/customer at a lower price or of higher quality or even a product the consumer/customer doesn’t know they want or need yet.
Indeed, his advice always acknowledges the sovereignty of the consumer/customer who is always looking for a better price or higher quality at the same price.
Let’s hope the marketplace stays open and free enough to let us – the customer – reign supreme. For an example of a state run or controlled marketplace take a look at page three (3) of the free downloadable book The Vampire Economy as an example of the alternative.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Working our way through Isaiah found us in Isaiah chapter 30 today. Very interesting, very powerful material. There is so much there, but I want to comment on what jumped out at me there in chapter 30 and some of the discussion.
It was the very first sentence (verses 1 and 2a) where my attention was first drawn: “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me;”
Here I saw a repetition of Abraham traveling to Egypt without first consulting with the LORD and all the trouble he got into. It is the same in my life as well. When I consult with the LORD about my plans, doors open and close in very different ways. If I see doors closing after asking for His advice or approval, I take that as His answer. If the doors open after asking, then I take it as His approval or lack of disapproval. I have found I do not want to “go down to Egypt without consulting” God.
What follows in Isaiah is God’s curse on Israel for “look(ing) for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge” (v2b). The consequences go on for a number of verses, but in verse 15 we find “The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel says, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’” Our Heavenly Father once again shows His love and mercy offered to Israel and by extension to the rest of the world – if only we will accept it. Israel at this time did not for the verse concludes, “but you would have none of it.” Like so many of us today (including me) Israel refused this wonderful gift from our LORD and they literally ran away (see verses 16 and 17).
Nonetheless, God through Isaiah makes sure Israel knows of his love even after they have run away, in the very next verse (18) “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Like a loving husband or wife who forgives a spouse who has failed in their covenant vows, God demonstrates his unfailing love.
The measure of that love is noted in verses 23 and 24 after Israel rids itself of all its false idols as He blesses Israel greatly when, “He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful.” Even the animals of Israel will be blessed for “In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel.”
Take away: Wait upon the LORD, consult the LORD in prayer if you (I) want to experience the blessings and mercy in your (my) life through His unfailing love.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
During creation, “God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper fit for him’” (ESV, Genesis 2:18).
It seems God wanted to make sure Adam knew it was not good to be alone and needed a helper, so He brought every living creature forward for Adam to name and Adam would have been hard pressed not to notice they always came in pairs – male and female. God also had Adam name them as Adam had dominion over them. The Bible says it this way, “And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him” (Genesis2:19b-20).
The symbols above occur in the Genesis 2:20 and are commonly translated as helper or help meet and you will find it in Strong’s Concordance with a transliteration of “ezer.” It is the very first time it occurs in the Bible. In Strong’s it is preceded by and followed by “Ezer.” In the entry that follows in Stong’s, it has the same exact markings below the letters, while the preceding entry has the three dots under the third letter as under the second letter above. Nonetheless, in both cases we are told Ezer = “treasure” and operates as a proper noun – a male name.
In Psalms 33:20, 70:6, and 115:9 the help provided is by or from God.
This is important because the woman, Eve, is a gift from God to Adam. She is his treasure. She completes him. She is no ordinary gift. She is a divine gift, from God to Adam.
When God made Adam, He formed him from the dust as a potter would create a pot from clay. When God made Eve from Adam’s flesh and bone, He built or erected her as a house is erected, so Eve was created much differently than Adam was. Perhaps because she would give birth to new life – this is implied in the use of the same word for her to build a family by giving birth (Gen 16:2 and 30:3).
Adam seemingly gets that Eve is special, built by God for him because when God brought her to him, Adam said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:34a) is here. Note how he makes the statement, “This (Eve), at last, finally, is here” (paraphrasing). He knows. To state “at last” tells me he has been waiting for her, his treasure and helper given by God.
I believe the above has tremendous implications for us men (me) when it comes to how we view and treat our wives. It has changed how I look at my bride of 40 years and how I treat her now that I recognize her as a divine gift from God.
According to God’s word, my wife, a divine gift to me, completes me and with her I am made complete. This is a game changer in our marriage.
Sharon and I just passed our 40th wedding anniversary, a milestone of sorts. Four decades after eloping from Bossier City/Barksdale AFB, LA to Marshall, TX on a Wednesday morning July 27, 1971 and we are somehow still together.
No small part of the why we are still together is that on our 25th anniversary we had a full wedding ceremony where her father got to give her away and finally forgave me. But that is not the why or our marriage success. The why is that on our 25th anniversary we formally dedicated our marriage to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That was/is the why.
But that is not what this is about – this is about Sharon. You see she retired from her civil service position with the U.S. Air Force after 31.5 years when we had been married almost 36.5 years. At her retirement ceremony in December 2007 I was permitted to speak. The following paragraphs reflect closely what I said about Sharon then followed by a few updates.
Some things you should know about Sharon.
She has worked in a directorate at Air Force Material Command (AFMC) Headquarters for a number of years in education and training. Specifically, she worked in education and education requirements for AFMC for many years. She did this with only an Associate’s Degree, but things are not always what they seem.
You see I got a B.S. E.E. degree at age 41, but there was a problem with the diploma. Sharon’s name was not on it along with mine. I would not have that diploma without her help and assistance. She took care of everything – the house, the car, our two children, our two dogs, and me – so I could chase that degree.
Prior to my graduation, Sharon became ill, deathly ill. We were afraid she would die. Feeling great guilt, I went to her in the hospital, poured out my heart about how I was going to quit school and be a real help at home and with our children.
She crooked her finger and motioned for me to come closer. I did and when I was close enough, she grabbed my collar and pulled my ear near her lips. Then in a dry raspy voice she said, “IF YOU QUIT AND I LIVE, I WILL KILL YOU.” I didn’t quit.
I tell you all of this so you will understand when I say Sharon has a PhD in motivation.
She also has number of Doctorates you may or may not be aware of and I would like to list them for you. She has
- A Doctorate in Dedication – she never does a job halfway
- A Doctorate in Character – she never compromised her values
- A Doctorate in Get It Done – she was never deterred by having to learn something new or acquiring new skills, doing whatever was required to get the job done
- A Doctorate in Caring – she always strives not to hurt others, even if …
- A Doctorate in Parenting – while working full time and helping me chase a degree and with me traveling often due to work, she raised (with some small help from me) two wonderful children
- A Doctorate in Love – For God, for Family, for Country and I would have to say the one defining Doctorate for Sharon Driver it would be her Doctorate in Love.
Since her retirement she ran the Dayton Chess Club for over a year by herself when I took a job in the sandbox. Afterwards, she also took on almost all the family and chess club duties while I earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies, even tolerating rising at one and two a.m. to proof read papers week after week over an 18 month period.
As we just celebrated our 40th anniversary, I think it is all right to provide my concluding remarks at Sharon’s retirement ceremony where I presented her with five individual flowers brought forward by our two grandchildren at the time – Ethan and Rheya. The thoughts behind the flowers still apply today.
First - A Yellow Rose to signify gratitude for the deep friendship God has granted us
Second - Another Yellow Rose to signify the promise of a new beginning that awaits you (us)
Third - A White Rose with Red Tip to signify the joy and happiness we have enjoyed together
Fourth - Another White Rose with Red Tip to signify the joy and happiness that awaits us in our future
Fifth (and final) - A Single Red Rose to signify my love for you and it is without thorns to symbolize “Love at first sight” from the first moment I set my eyes upon you, when God placed you in my heart.
(For those who want to know, just as different flowers have different meanings, the same flower may have different meanings for a given occasion.)
Sharon continues being Sharon – now accepting my plan/desire to Pastor a church or to go wherever God may send us.
In the interim she helps me with a Monday evening Bible study, running the chess club so I can play on occasion, running an online ‘bingo’ game for a quilting group, solving jigsaw puzzles online against the clock to see just how fast she can do a 48 piece puzzle, setting up a craft day at church about once a month, volunteering us (!) to cook lunch at church, she has also remodeled a mezzanine from office space to our new home and took care of the lion’s share of the move, providing incredible support to me on my new diet (no sweets) and walking regimen.
Oh, did I mention she quilts?