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The eloquence of 1 Corinthians 13 reflects the beauty of language and the high esteem that love possesses.  This quality is the hallmark of the Christian faith.  It is not only the turnkey feature of the Greatest Commandment but also the second.

True love even surpasses hyperbole.  If we could have the imagined ability to speak in many foreign languages, including the language of angels but do not have love, our communication would be useless and in reality annoying.  Even if we could express the spectacular gifts of prophecy or faith without true love we would be a underachiever.  Not even phenomenal generosity can be noteworthy if love is absent.

True love has the character that does not retaliate when wronged.  That is, the ugly side of life and evil people will falsely accuse, be mean even be devious but those with true love will not seek revenge or return evil with evil.  Instead, true love lives above the bad and rests in the truth.

This love is kind.  That is it, with an amazing control over selfishness true love will be gentle even when accosted with all sorts of wickedness and falsehood.  Kindness is that quality that is gracious, calming and instantly responsive to the Spirit in all difficult circumstances.

A list of what love is not helps us focus on the details of this spectacular description.  Love does not act selfishly.  It will not seek for itself what is rightfully owned by someone else. 

True love does not have to defend itself.  It does not make self claims of “caring for others” because if true love is present, then, this is obvious on its own.  Those who validate in their own minds what is true because they listen to themselves talk are far from true love.

Nor does love puff itself up.  It is not nasty in tone nor judgmental in spirit.  Self righteousness is contrary to true love. 

Love does not advance itself through anger nor lists of wrongdoing.  There is no initiative to fabricate evil reports.  The simple truth is sufficient and in that true love rejoices. 

True love steps in the way of danger on behalf of the one loved.  It will risk through trust.  Hope is its longing.  This kind of love will never give up but always believe.  

God’s love is durable.  It lasts longer than anything that is spiritually spectacular.  Love that is true is the best.

1 corinthians 13

photo credit: brucefong photography

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A good friend included me on an email notice. Raul Midon was coming to town. He was on the concert ticket at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

This would take a little explanation. I never heard of this artist. But, that isn’t a testament to Midon’s lack of notoriety. Rather it is a revelation that I don’t know jazz.

My friend sent me a short explanation. I was intrigued. Mostly, however, I greatly respect my friends musical talent. He would not give me a recommendation for a night of music if it wasn’t going to be special. I was very very pleased.

Midon is a one-man band. That doesn’t just mean that he does a solo act without accompaniment. It is true that he is on stage without any other supporting musicians. However, the moniker of being a one-man band hints at his versatility and expansive talent.

In his musical presentation he not only plays amazing guitar he also adds brass support, percussion and bass lines all while singing with a soulful velvet voice. During my introduction to Midon I not only thoroughly enjoyed the concert, I kept cocking my head with the reaction, “How’s he doing that?”

Several times during the concert I closed my eyes and imagined what I would be seeing if I didn’t know that this was a single artist on stage. A small ensemble made more sense to my ears than what my eyes told me was happening in my very presence. How can one man add layers of sound and mix those sounds all by himself. It was remarkable.

Midon is a self-proclaimed genre bender. I liked that. There was so much story in his lyrics that I easily tracked with the episodes in life that he was painting for us. I’m not musical purist. So I am attracted to something enjoyable that is also something easy to relate to.

Oh, by the way. Midon is blind. He has been from birth. As a premature child he was a victim of the early light treatment that caused his blindness.

Yet, with this handicap he clearly has a winsome personality. He is positive about life. Humor is a feature in his concert that gives him a great appeal.

Overcoming adversity and demonstrating amazing impact on others is truly commendable. So, the soul inside of me clapped in syncopated rhythm with Midon’s music. My bride and I were transported into one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation, the world of rapturous music.

photo credit: google image

When a menu for movie selections is placed in front of me, I skip over most genres until I find Action & Adventure. Yeah, it’s a guy-thing. A chase scene, a battle, a threat, an explosion, a gun, a knife, an arrow or simply a fight and I do admit that I pause.

Ip Man 2 was put into my hands. Like Spock’s idyllic left eyebrow raising, my interest was won. Like a trailer playing in the recesses of my mind Ip Man played through my head.

The first film started slowly, took a few odd turns but ended up a fascinating experience. Wing Chun is a remarkable Kung Fu style and Master Ip puts it on display with modest bravado. There is as much humility as there is dominion.

This sequel was better than the first. It told the story better. The progression of the story made sense. Any twists and turns were reasonable.

Now, the story of Master Ip continues in Hong Kong. He attempts to establish a school to advance his art. The tension with economic hard times, competitiveness with local martial arts teachers and the international bully of British Imperialism escalate through the film.

Historians might laugh at the portrayal of the Foreign Devils. But, there is no mistaking the bitter feelings spawned by British rule. The Chinese felt exploited, disrespected and abused.

Ip Man 2 shows the Master to be vulnerable, human. In combat, he gets hurt. That is real.

Nevertheless, his great personal strengths continue. He is still even-keeled, balanced, wise and discerning. Generosity, patience and mercy abound in the character.

While the storytelling is an improvement over the first episode, the martial arts sequences are scintillating. They show the speed, accuracy and anatomical knowledge that spans the limits of human ability, even the limitations of age. Like a detailed choreography, the fight scenes speed the film along and amaze the audience.

What I expected was a large part of the story showing the relationship between Master Ip and Bruce Lee. Instead, it was simply a small scene at the end. Master Ip meets a young Bruce Lee as a boy, a decade before any training begins.

Since this series is “loosely” based on a true story, there is a plethora of material for new screen writing. There must be enough for at least another sequel before the Bruce Lee saga begins. Marketing people are milking this one.

photo credit: google image

Ruth didn’t have it easy.  Whenever her name was mentioned her ethnic background was attached.  She was frequently referred to as Ruth the Moabitess.

Ruth 1 and 2 repeat this identity several times.  Reading it over and over creates a mental itch that screams for a scratch.  I am not satisfied until I track down this curiosity.

Joshua 22 adds some light to this mystery.  War in the Promised Land comes to an end.  After seven years of fighting Israel now enters into a time of peace. 

The two and a half Eastern tribes say farewell.  Joshua commends them for their valor and faithfulness in helping their brothers secure their lands in the West.  It is a touching parting.

But, soon the Eastern tribes build an imposing altar at the Jordan River.  The Western tribes misunderstand and assume that their brothers have broken faith to the one and only true God.  Phinehas confronts their apparently wayward brothers asking if the sin at Peor wasn’t enough to prevent spiritual apostasy.

Peor was where Moab had seduced Israel (Num 25).  The Israelites had taken the Moabite god and embraced their penchant for sexual immorality.  God’s holiness was violated and many Israelites died.

The Moabites had an unseemly beginning.  Lot was ordered out of Sodom and Gomorrah by God’s angel.  He took refuge in a cave with his two daughters (Gen 19).  His oldest daughter got her father drunk, had sex with him and gave birth to a child.  She named that baby Moab.

While the language does not suggest a pejorative use of Ruth the Moabitess, history certainly does.  Ruth lived above this.  That’s the kind of impact Naomi had on her. 

It is not clear when Ruth put her faith in Jehovah but  it is apparent that Naomi was influential in that choice.  It attracted Ruth even to the point of being willing to face whispers, slander and gossip when she came to a foreign land.  This amazing woman followed her faith and her devotion for her mother-in-law.

Then, Ruth impresses everyone around her.  She does not cower in anonymity but takes the initiative to glean for her and Naomi.  With no pride she does the work of the impoverished poor and picks up the leftovers.

Her diligence, selflessness and courage capture the attention of a kinsman redeemer.  Boaz takes notice.  God does His remarkable work of providence with a woman who breaks out of the horrid past of her people.

photo credit: google image

There is an interesting intersection in San Francisco.  OK, there are many interesting intersections in my adopted city of San Fran.  But, one comes to mind because it is often a part of my daily routine.

Head South on Sunset Blvd.  Your objective is the get on to Skyline, Highway 35.  At first the route is a bit circuitous but, trust your GPS and she will get you there safely…eventually…usually.

The common route from the Sunset District to points in Daly City uses a turn-off from Sunset Blvd to Yorba.  Then, in a short block your route intesects with 37th Ave. Your first reaction is to slow down.  It’s an intersection that siphons off the traffic from a busy boulevard on to a few jostles and turns. 

What is odd about this intersection is that it is a three-way stop.  Vehicles travelling in either direction on 37th Ave have stop signs at the intersection of Yorba.  Vehicles travelling East on Yorba havea stop sign as well. 

However, vehicles coming off of Sunset Blvd do NOT have a stop sign and have the right of way to turn North or South or continue West.  This oddity is worth paying attention since assumptions by other drivers could result in an accident.  Sunday afternoon we had a close call.

On the way home from church, we were driving South.   At Yorba we turned off and came to the 37th Ave intersection.  An on-coming car was travelling East on Yorba, committed a fast rolling stop and proceeded South on to 37th Ave. 

Unfortunately, that careless maneuver on his part put him in a collision course with my vehicle.  I’m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet even though a I work for a not-for-profit organization.  But, I guessed that this driver was going to do something foolish.  God spared us.

Braking firmly but not harshly I was able to miss the driver.  He was annoyed that I was so close.  He stopped his car, unbuckled his seat belt, opened his door and half exited his car with a loud lecture about how I had missed my stop sign … the one that does NOT exist.

Kindly I waved him on his way.  He kept driving eratically for miles, rolling through stop signs, tailgating other drivers and speeding from one stop light to the next.  It was sufficient that I had not retaliated, kept control and confident that I was not wrong.

photo credit: google image

The human body is an amazing unit.  While it is composed of many unique parts, it nevertheless, exists as one phenomenal body.  The Body of Christ is similarly both amazingly unique, decidedly one yet composed of many parts.

Each Christian is a unique person when compared to others.  Personalities and body types vary greatly.  Yet, through the amazing miracle of the Spirit’s baptism we are all made into one body.

The transcending oneness of the body surpasses both ethnicity and social standing.  Each one shares a common denominator far greater than their differences.  This unifying feature is the Spirit from whom we all have tasted.

While the body is made up of various parts, each part is designed for a special purpose.  Some might assume that they are more glamorous than others but that is foolishness.  No individual part either survives nor exists independently of others.

It is ludicrous to think that an individual claim would cause the separation.  God’s sovereignty isdetermines the purpose not an individual’s self-centered preoccupation.  Some might desire to be someone or something else but that option is not available.

Besides, every part is designed for a special purpose.  When we are more concerned about how we help the whole rather than the notoriety we received, the body works well.  If all of us were what everyone wants to be the body would be non-functional and atrocious.

Also, we should not only value our part in the body, we should also value what others bring to the body.  Honor, after all, is not what we gain through self acclaim but what others give to us.  This is a gift of encouragement that we can all give to others around us.

God’s goal is not to make everyone the same. Rather in our differences we can see our mutual value to each other and the oneness of the greater body of Christ.  Division is what we want to avoid. 

Personal identity isn’t nearly as satisfying as our collective identity in Christ.  We can all recognize the gifted people among.  Their skills and Spirit-blessed gifts win our admiration and even our appreciation.

Admittedly, some of the gifts are spectacular.  Ours may be mundane.  But, all are necessary.  Clearly none of us can imagine all people having the same spiritual gifts. 

Rather the beauty of variety in concert is God’s way.  Our part is essential.  That makes each one of us important.  1 corinthians 12.12-31

photo credit: google image

The collapsing economic changes have been merciless.  Gargantuan worldwide pressures are like a tsunami in my life.   Every week I am finding myself making adjustments to keep the pressure at bay.

I am brown bagging lunch more often in order to keep faithful to my financial commitments.  This lifestyle shift is actually very satisfying.  Putting some planning and effort into something small to impact something that will last into eternity is a strangely enjoyable change.

Cutting back is also key.  I have already cancelled two trips.  Both were worthy of the time and effort but they would be economic risks that would add even more pressure.  So, I pulled the plug on both.

Spending at the office obvious.  Now, we ask if we have the option to withhold the expense.  We never will stop growing or making changes but we will be very discerning about our expenses.

We question the validity of our training trips.  They must make sense and align with our strategic plan or the approval will not happen.  We in a not-for-profit organization treat every dollar like blood money.  All of us are committed to this value as good stewards of God’s generosity.

One of the other helpful changes is the decision is to lengthen my long-term plans.  This is the year when I would normally schedule a new vehicle purchase.  However, in light of the tough economy I will forego that choice, keep fixing and driving what I have.

This has not been common for me.  Having a dependable vehicle is essential to what I do.  Besides it’s a little bit of fun that spices up life when I climb behind the wheel of a new rig.  Oh, well, life has its good changes and not so good.

My vacation plans are dialed back as well.  We were looking forward to our first vacation to Hong Kong.  But, this overseas trip will have to be put on hold for another time. Some day we will make it to this fascinating destination.

There are other adjustments that I am making as well.  More often than not I choose water as my beverage of choice with a meal.  It’s free or at least it is cheaper than most other drinks.

Some things haven’t quite crept into my routine yet.  We still wash our clothes, shop for soap and fill our cupboards.  Change has come and is still manageable for now.

photo credit: google image

The sun was shining brightly.  Temperatures warmed the day.  It was time for shorts and a T-shirt. 

We grabbed our cameras and headed north.  On our San Francisco list was a special curiosity.  Spring would have been ideal since the plants would have been blooming. 

The weather never cooperated on my day-off.  One time it did.  But, when we found a parking spot and walked to the front gate, a notice apologized that the popular tourist spot was closed.

Finally, a great weather day coincided with my day-off.  Our obligations were minimal.  So, we again grabbed our cameras and headed north. 

A parking spot opened up nearby our destination.  That was a treat in itself.  A space for our car within walking distance to our final objective brings a smile to my face.

Together Yvonne and I walked.  The Japanese Tea Garden was just up ahead.  It is located in the East side of Golden Gate park.

Nearby are the Botanical Garden, the Natural Science Museum and the Art Gallery.  A grand landscaped open theatre is also located there.  People mill about along with joggers, cyclists, strollers and people just out for a relaxing time.

We paid our modest entry fee.  There’s something about this garden that is relaxing.  Serenity is all over this place. 

Is it the design?  Are the placement of the trees, plants and ground cover in harmony and then spread that peace to visitors?  Maybe it’s the well placed water features that quell the troubled soul.

A quiet little fountain, a koi pond with colorful massive fish or maybe a decorative babbling brook draws the spirit of all men and women to a time of respite.  Tall trees break up the heat-filled sun rays.  Benches are plentiful for a rest and a moment of reflection.

There are only a few blooms left to enjoy.  Even those left-over flowers are showing signs of wilting.  They are few and far between.

But, the shades of green that remain give an inviting variety that highlights the texture of the garden.  The red leaves of the lace leaf maples put the striking contrasts on display.  Both depth and softness have taken over the summer growing season.

The sun takes its place in God’s creative tapestry as well.  It is high in the sky.  The rays dance through the boughs of the tall trees.  Colors are not around but there is plenty of remarkable beauty for a tranquil time in the middle of the Creator’s garden.

photo credit: brucefong photography

An email notice flashed on my cell phone screen.  A few taps on the screen gave me a heads up that our dinner meeting would be at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.  Our rendezvous was scheduled for 630Pm and it would be at the Oak Restaurant on the main floor.

This was a first for me.  My guest and I arrived at the O’Farrell and Ellis parking garage.  It is a two block walk to the hotel. 

Revolving doors transported us into one of the plush destinations of our city.  Historical and elite art decked the walls.  Grand architecture surrounded us. 

Photographs of the rich and famous hung on the walls.  I only recognized a few of the faces.  Surely, I must travel in very different circles.

The carpet in this amazing facility is unique.  It is plush.  Colors on this exquisite flooring does what rarely occurs, I glance down, raise an eyebrow in admiration.

There in the corner of the lobby is the famous grandfather clock.  It stood strong and steady through the great earthquake at the turn of the century.  All of the great wars surged through the pages of history while it faithfully kept time.

Countless lives from every corner of the world have scheduled the meeting of clients, V.I.P’s and dates right at the foot of this clock.  Similar words over the generations have announced, “I’ll meet you at the clock.”  Some of those meetings were happy, some sad and some devastating, but this is where so many of them began.

A picture to my left caught my eye.  I had seen it on the internet.  It was a photo of the Bistro’s signature dish.  Featured on a plate was a delectable beef rib.

Garnish decorated the serving.  Lighting was perfect to make your mouth water.  There was not a pile of ribs, just one. 

However, the one was sufficient.  It looked more like a roast with a single bone sticking out from the side.  My attention had transformed into desire.  I wanted one!

The restaurant menu was to the side.  My eyes glanced down the offerings until I found a match.  If you thought that a high guess on the price was $35 or $50 you like me would have been way too low. 

What an amazing hotel.  It was charming to look.  But, I settled for a glass of water with a slice of lime.

photo credit: google image

Me? On this Father’s Day I am basking in the joy of being the proud father of five.  Is that a lot to you?  It all depends on your math.

God blessed Yvonne and I with three of our own children.  All three were born in Portland, Oregon.  The years that have gone by are filled with great adventures and moments that make a family uniquely the most cherished part of life, any life.

Or oldest two children are happily married.  They have found and committed their lives to their respective spouse.  We love our in-law children so much that we just count them as our own, hence FIVE kids plus a stealthy sixth! 

I enjoy and am honored when my children sing my praises on this day.  Four are many miles away so they send their greetings via cyberspace or give me a phone call.  It’s fun to hear from them.

But, honestly?  I am the one who wants to honor them.  Each of the five make me very proud. 

Our oldest has grown into a beautiful and creative daughter.  She makes us all laugh with her quick wit and charming nature.  Her initiative to help her mom and me in the simplest of errands or chores is amazing.

She chose a wonderful man who is her husband.  He loves her and the savior, that is our two-pronged prayer for each of our three.  He laughs at my jokes and helps whenever we need his muscles.

Our oldest son has brains that make me marvel.  He has the capacity to learn, remember and apply his knowledge in life skills that leave me wondering.  There is a devotion to his faith that was worth his Christian University education.

His wife is a jewel.  She shines with a bright smile, creative arts skills and a sweetness that melts our son’s heart.  They are a cute couple that are madly in love with each other and Jesus.

Our family is topped off with our second son.  He is the rock climber.  Neither Yvonne nor I know from where that DNA for the sport came.  Most importantly, he is serving Jesus, anticipating grad school and an active member in his church.

Father’s Day?  No, I am not the one who should be honored.  kudos to each of them for the remarkable lives that they are living.  Rather, I honor my children, all five of them for making me a very happy father.

photo image: google image

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