You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2011.

Copy of WY 2008 006Paul offers instructions to those who have never had a sexual experience.  This dialogue is not lesser in quality.  Nor is it contrary to Jesus’ teaching.  Rather, it is expanded inspired Scripture.  He merely notes that Jesus did not address the issue during His time on earth.

Present status is important.  Change during a time of stress is not advisable.  It will alter a person’s focus on spiritual matters.

This is a matter for wisdom.  Marriage is good.  But, it must be entered into with understanding.  Responsibilities increase with marriage. 

We all have less time than we think.  The world is temporary, it is terminal and our values must adjust accordingly.  Marriage is included in this real-time reality.

Marriage forces concern for our partner.  Those who are single can focus their attention on the things of God.  Rightly a husband gives a great deal of his attention to his wife’s concerns and what will please her.  That is effort and energy that a single person can give to the things of the Lord.

Similarly, a wife is thinking about how to please her husband.  Paul’s interest is to help believers avoid undue stress and concern.  He wants to help Christians enjoy the concentration of pleasing God and not being distracted from that expression.

A practical reality superceded Paul’s advice on remaining single.  If passion is a distraction when someone is in love then, marriage is the right option.  That decision is a good one.  There is no sin involved when decisions are between what is preferred and what is necessary.  Marriage is a good choice.

Some are gifted with a settled matter in their minds.  They have no compulsion to marry.  His choice to remain celibate is also a right choice.  How God has wired a person is individually determined. 

While both decisions are good, that is, to marry or not to marry, the one who is able and chooses to remain single in order to concentrate his attention on the Lord has made the better choice.

Marriage is a binding relationship dissolved by death.  When death dissolves a marriage, then the surviving spouse is free to marry again. However, the instruction is to marry a fellow believer.

The apostle points out that someone who is now single due to the death of a spouse now has the option to choose singleness.  That is a good choice, in fact the preferred choice.  Paul admits that a special gift of celibacy is necessary to make this choice viable.  He claims that he is so gifted.

1 corinthians 7.25-40

photo credit: brucefong photography


Hump Day: what a name for Wednesday, eh?  It’s in the middle of the week.  People who have a hard time going to work and enjoying the work that they do, find some encouragement that they have made it half way through until the highly valued weekend comes around again.

Getting over the hump in the middle of the week gives some people a psychological edge to downhill it to Friday.  I find that funny.  It is just a great day to pick up momentum of the week for me.

Yes, I am blessed since I love what I do.  It energizes me to have the responsibilities that rest on my shoulders.  Creativity and productivity and supervision are all a part of what I do. 

But, Wednesdays are more flexible that some other days.  If meetings don’t fill up my day then, I hit the books, surf the net and study hard.  To keep me really going I do a simple lunch, just to keep me in the office.

Several overriding principles governed my lunch today.  First, I wanted to dine in order to keep working. Second, I wanted the meal cheap.  Third, I was hoping to find something that was good tasting, at least something fun to eat.

At noon I gathered my amazing meal on my desk.  I paused to thank God for the meal.  After that there is no complaining allowed, only cheerful delight.

I had a 12 fl oz of Pepsi Max.  It was refrigerated to just the right temperature.  The can was frosted and wonderfully cool to the touch. 

Next to the beverage of choice was a bag Frito’s.  I like corn chips.  They are ideal for scooping.

Then, the central focus of my meal sat distinctively alone.  It was a can of sardines.  But, these were not ordinary sardines.  They were enhanced with mustard sauce and kissed with dill. 

Once the pull top of the sardines was opened, the fragrance was distinct.  The corn chips served as chunk separators and food scoops.  Each bite was delectable!

Washing the meal down with a bubbly cola was very satisfying.  Choosing a mustard sauce kept the normal sardines aroma down to a minimum.  I wasn’t expecting that side benefit.  I’ll have to file that piece of information in my memory banks.

I stuffed my used napkin into the sardine can.  Then, I pressed the pulled-top back in place and tossed everything into the garbage can.  Simple, delicious, satisfying and a snap to clean up.

photo credit: google image

My philosophy in life is simple: “Any reason for a party!”  There is a serendipitous joy in celebrating, especially with people you love.  When we ratchet up the happiness, there is something about the depth of life that we experience.

Today is my birthday and I am celebrating.  It’s more than a one day phenomenon.  This kind of reason to go berserk lasts around a week.

Yvonne and I had a quiet celebration last night.  Together the two of us went to a restaurant of my choice.  It is a place in Pacifica, by the ocean.

The parking lot rests on the raised rock wall.  It is located near Rockaway Beach.  When you park along the seawall, get ready to meet the Pacific Ocean up close and personal. 

Strong waves wash into the wall and send up tall plumes of salt water spraying over your vehicle.  squealing children race back into the arms of their laughing parents who knew to stand 20 feet back.  First-time tourists stand in shock, soaked and dripping with a baptism by the sea.

Yvonne and I timed our exit.  “Are you ready?” I chuckled.  “Ok, ready!” Yvonne responded like a pilot ready for an airplane take-off.

We both raced across the lot and to the safety of the restaurant.  An empty table by the window awaited us.  The sun was still high off of the horizon.

These are times when reminiscing is fabulous.  The stories we rehearsed are familiar to us.  But, like warm fuzzies, our memories gave us a chance to relive wonderful moments.

The food came.  It was delectable.  Yvonne had scallops.  I was suffering through prime rib with the bone in.  The bone was all that I needed.  Do you understand that?

Our dessert was not eatable.  Instead, we sat inside of Bubba, my trusty pick-up truck and watched the sunset.  Periodically, I turned on the windshield wipers so that we could have the drops of sea water removed from the windshield and enjoy God’s creative brushstrokes of color painted on the canvas of the darkening sky.

Colors brightened on the clouds that huddled at the horizon.  They captured the fading sun rays and enhanced their final hues for human eyes to enjoy.  Then, the sky grew dark. 

It was time to start the engine and head home. This was a great way to spend the beginning of a lengthy celebration.  I love a good party!

photo credit: brucefong photography

Monday is my day-off.  But, this Monday would NOT be a day for fun and frolicking.  Instead, today would be a work day; we are moving.

We have a new place to call home.  For the last couple of weeks we have been collecting boxes, packing boxes and organizing boxes.  Our garage is our staging area with categories ready for loading.

Over a number days we moved boxes and boxes of our earthly possessions downstairs into the garage.  Regularly, I would scan the mounting mountain of stuff and marvel that we were Costco, Wal-mart, Target, Marshalls, Home Depot and Cabela’s all wrapped up into one distribution warehouse. We  could open our own discount small box distribution center.

But, moving is a side matter.  We are excited about moving or maybe we are motivated to do so.  The past robberies have us in a suspicious state.

whenever an unsavory sort walks by our complex, we watch them with an eye of suspicion.  We live on a block in the city of San Francisco that many use as a walking corridor to catch the bus into downtown.  Most of these pedestrians used to look normal. 

Since we became victims of a common city crime we are tackling every suspicious person who even glances at our apartment.  We frisk them, take their picture, water-board them until they confess every sin in the past year and then we invite them to church.  It keeps us busy.

In between population wrestling, we load Bubba with another load of our worldly stuff and head off to our next home.  We download everything that we just loaded a mere 9 miles away.  Then, we carry them up the stairs.  Will there be elevators in heaven?

It struck me during our ascending of the stairs that each time we have moved I have gotten older.  Now, I huff and puff then sit and rest when I am moving boxes.  Maybe a large dumpster should park on the driveway and I’ll pause and ask do I want to carry this up the stairs or save a climb and dumb this load?

Yeah, I’m just musing.  I’m afraid that if I did order a dumpster, I just might jump in it and take a nap.  Hey, leave me alone. I’m tired and ache all over.  I didn’t even know that I had muscles where I’m hurting right now.

photo credit: google image

San Francisco is an amazing city, a fabulous metropolitan area, an adventuresome place to explore.  Don’t bother making an exhaustive list or you’ll never get out to see it all.  Instead, keep a short list of collected ideas that could fill your day-off.

But, be careful.  On any given day-off with our list in hand we get so excited about exploring, experieincing and enjoying that we overlook a necessity of great importance.  This kind of oversight can add to the odessey of the day.

Yup, you have to remember where you parked your car.

When we set our GPS to lead us to our priority destination, we are excited when we weave through the streets of San Francisco and hear our “Karen” announce, “You have arrived.”  Then, it is a scramble to find a parking space.  It has not been unusual for us to roam the area in ever widening circles looking for a space.

When a space appears, we grab it. Sometimes we stop traffic to push our way into a designated curb spot.  San Franciscans all know about this exercise and demonstrate unusual patience for others who are in the process of parking.

There is a lilt in our step after we feed the meter and walk toward our objective.  But, that satisfaction quickly disappears when we replace it with our enthusiasm for the reason we are there.  So we laugh with gusto when we shop, eat or sightsee.

When our first stop is completed and it is time to move on to our next destination, we are startled.  Yvonne asks, “Don’t we go that way?”  My response is non-verbal but confidently definitive, “Hmmm…humph…er…uh…um”

Then my homing pigeon navigation instincts kick in, “No, I think that we go this way.”  My uncertainty is enough to make the rotation of the earth to hesitate.  “Is that our car over there?  Where did we park that thing?”

So the two of us wander around aimlessly trying to retrace out steps.  Neither of us remembered to bring the bread crumbs to leave trail on the sidewalk.  My mind drifts toward the parable of the lost coin.  I reason, “If God could help someone find a lost coin, surely He could help us … there it is!  See dear?  Just trust me and I will never lead you astray.  Are you OK? It sounds like your gagging.”

photo credit: google image

Godly living is a matter of consistency.  God’s sovereignty determines our life decisions.  Marriage or celibacy is included in this application. 

Our place in life with others is an assignment made by God Himself.  He calls us to our status in life when it comes to marriage.  We participate but he mystery of His guidance is a Biblical declaration.

The local church must teach this connection between the heavens and life on earth.  Mankind is not independent of God’s will.  He determines our steps.  It is not impersonal robotic control but instead amazing personal involvement. 

Living life in recognition of this dynamic keeps us from frustration.  There are very few rules for the church in an age of grace.  This recognition of God’s direction in our lives in a vital decision for us all is essential.

It is helpful to consider our initial spiritual renewal.  Our journey into justification does not require a visitation with legalistic or regulatory actions.  Cultural observances need to be distinguished from spiritual truth.  Human limitations must be kept in their place.

Circumcision is an example of this distinction.  It is inconsequential in either situation.  If religious reasons resulted in circumcision then that condition should neither be changed nor be pursued. 

The physical sign of circumcision is nothing in itself.  It was a sign for Israel that they were a part of the covenant people.  Following that pattern expressed a national spiritual identity. 

Now, that Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law and Gentiles are grafted into the family of God by grace, old patterns are now obsolete.  Instead, on an individual basis each life now approaches God on their own.  True faith is now lived not by community practices but personal obedience to God’s commands.

Whatever situation a person was in when God called him to salvation should be where he remains.  Our salvation experience does not give us a reason to expect a privileged status in life.  Salvation is a gift to anyone in any situation in life.

In the first century, when slavery was a part of the social culture, salvation that comes to a slave is wonderful.  But, even then justification does not follow with a right to live a different social status in life.  Remain where God has sovereignly placed us. 

Pleasing God not men is our objective.  His standards are ours.  Bloom wherever we find ourselves and accept our life status as a part of God’s design.

1 corinthians 7.17-24

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My morning began with eager thoughts of an exciting day.  Lists were forming in my mind while I slid out of bed.  Routine matters of hygiene and refreshing queued up one after the other just like clockwork.

Quietly I stole out of  our bedroom so I wouldn’t disturb my bride.  She deserves the rest.  I’m the one with skid marks beside my bed not her.  Steadily I padded down the hallway and took a quick look outside.  It was raining. Dark clouds filled the sky. 

The refractive sunlight assured me that it was day time but there would be no shadows caused by the sun any time soon.  The water-laden clouds were hanging low with shades of grey shifting with the strong winds above.

Our window was decorated with droplets.  A pattern was imperceptible, instead the splashes of H2O were evenly distributed across our pane.  With a steady beat of showers, droplets combined with others and together broke the limit of surface tension and sent a dribble racing down the clear glass.

I did not stop to look much longer.  Instead, I confirmed the amount of rain by scanning over our rain-soaked street.  Puddles filled many impressions along our asphalt street. 

My office was my next stop.  After filling my pockets with my daily necessities I descended our stairs.  That’s when the weather of the day had its primary impact on my routine.

The handle to the door of our coat closet fit neatly into my hand.  A swift thrust and the door opened without a struggle.  A cavernous closet opened with a choice of outward garments to measure up to my whims.

For years my raincoat had served me well.  My travels in different countries and many states in our union all have shared that same weather phenomenon called rain.  This coat had protected me with warmth and dryness.  It would do so again for me today.

After slipping it on I realized how comfortable it felt.  This was not an unusual abnormal emergency-only garment.  Instead, it was a familiar friend, well-travelled buddy and constant protection against the rain.

Nothing changes much when the rain begins to pour.  My routine and appointments stay the same.  This stand-by rain coat has insured that life goes on in spite of the weather patterns.

Let it rain, let it shine or let the winds blow.  The life that God gave me to live will press on.  I only regret that I washed the car yesterday.

photo credit: google image

If I were ever pressed to give testimony on how many times that I have been through airport security, I would not have a clue.   Even if I could get close to that historical number, I would forget to double the number since that departure usually includes a return.  Of course there are additional scans in airports that serve as connecting flights, some times.

International flights are even more complicated. I have travelled through the UK several times. They speak English, sorta.  When they give instructions, I try not to look lost or annoyed but I really don’t know what they want me to do. 

The Israeli security is the most thorough.  Their staff is multi-lingual, paramount professionals and highly efficient.  With them I have understood every detail of their instructions.  There was no misunderstanding.

It is shocking to me that while I have gone through the process again and again I don’t always not know what I need to do to make the process smooth and trouble-free.  This experience should be instinctive by now.   

I have one goal when I approach this inevitable part of any air travel journey.  No matter what airport or what the situation I want to go through security like a consummate pro, unflappable and down to a system.  It hasn’t worked yet.

Once I choose a line I don’t look at other lines. Historically,  I choose the slowest line of any options. The only time that this doesn’t apply is when there is only one line to choose. That’s when TSA agents take a lunch break just as I strip off all of my outer garments.

Now, I have to take off my boots too.  It’s fine.  They come off easily.  There’s enough bling on my boots that would set off the alarm.  So, my heart can hope for a clean bill of health.

But, that all depends on the level that they set the sensitivity.  Once, I went through unscathed but noticed that I had left my Western belt buckle on.  That happened only once. 

After hearing that buzzer sound so many times I have a list of items that will trip the alarm.  My money clip will set it off.  Also, my rubber watch has enough metal in it to trigger the annoying metal detectors.  Every belt I own sends back a sonar wave back to the reader.  I feel like such an international criminal every time that machines screams with its sinister scowl.

photo credit: google image

Our new home is wonderful.  Yvonne and I have enjoyed its location and close proximity to many shops, restaurants and markets.  It also gives us easy access to the freeways making our once laborious journeys swift and easier to manage.

But, before we can really call it home, we have to unpack.  Yep, we are living in a forest of boxes again.  It seems like it was just a year ago that we were in the woods of stuff packed into neat 1.3 cubit foot corregated storage containers.

Then, it was just a year before last year that we were moving boxes from one place to the other.  That’s three moves in three years.  You might think that we are experts at this and it gets easier and easier.  Ha!

Moving was very efficient this time.  We had far more less to move this time.  With each of our past relocation moments we substantially reduced our earthly possessions.

We both had a good idea of how to pack our stuff, at least what we had left.  There was no need to write out lists.  We don’t have that much any more.

But, maybe we should have made a list.  I have been looking for a few important items.  First, it was my electric razor.  It was missing for a long time.  For a while I was sporting the lumberjack look.

Second, I was looking for a rain jacket.  Of course it has been raining for the last several days.  Finally, it was found!

Now, I’m still looking for my power cord for my cell phone.  There are now a dozen boxes that I have opened hoping that my power cord would be there.  It has not materialized. 

There are a few more boxes left to open.  Before I can get to them, however, I have to find some place to put everything that I have taken out of the last dozen boxes.  But, I’m tired.

I was so pooped that I looked up the stairs and wondered if there was another option to climbing them.  Oh, I forgot to mention that to get to the boxes that I opened I had to move solid oak dresser down the stairs, a rolltop desk DOWN the stairs, two full sized solid wood bookshelves down the stairs and a few other large furniture pieces into our garage.  Moving is not my favorite passtime.  Digging through a haystack would be much more desirable.

photo credit: google image

Paul answers a question posed to him by the Corinthian believers.  They ask a question about the most popular subject among humans.  The Corinthian believers want to know about sex.

Sex was God’s design.  Therefore, it must be good. So naturally, Paul says that if a person does not have an active sex life that is good but not better than another who does.

What changes the discussion is promiscuity among people in our environment.  Marriage and fidelity give a person a protection and satisfaction that has no other equal.  Sexual satisfaction is a benefit to both husband and wife.

Relationships need to be nurtured.  They do not automatically synchronize into unity.  In fact selfishness can still rule in them where a spouse will deny sexual expression from their partner. 

A sign of a healthy marriage is one where both partners find a respite necessary and mutually there is an agreement to abstain.  Imposing a restraint on your partner is inappropriate.  Spiritual priorities however serve as one option for mutual agreement for abstinence.

When a spiritual purpose is complete, then, coming back together is proper.  Too long of a hiatus allows Satan to come in and wreak havoc.  Jesus never commanded this instruction but Paul is expanding the purity instructions that had already been given.

Paul acknowledges his own God-given capacity of self-control.  He is not the norm but the exception among believers.  It is as unique as it is a gift from God.

 In his description Paul identifies himself as “unmarried”.  He does not include himself among the “virgins” but among the “unmarried”.  Also, he recognizes the enormous temptation among the people and highly recommends that they marry to avoid this temptation.  

Paul expands on what Jesus instructed regarding marriage.  The advice is stern.  Marriage is to be preserved and protected.  It does not mean that marriages don’t have challenges.  However, when they face difficulty they should attempt reconciliation.

The apostle is practical and realistic.  Trying to justify divorce based upon spiritual grounds of being a believer married to a non-believer is not a legitimate grounds for divorce. A believing spouse is the most powerful evangelistic influence in the life of an non-believer spouse.

No one can make a decision for their spouse.  They are under no obligation to pursue the marriage is the spouse chooses to bolt.  Under those difficult circumstances we can only accept the inevitable.

1 corinthians 7.1-16

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