You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.
On my day off I decided to commit myself to accomplishing something productive. After all, I knew that if I wanted to play in the evening I would feel so much better if I had done something useful during the day. I took a deep breath and entered into my office.
With Christmas music on to while away the project, I slid open my closet doors. They slid easily on their tracks and unveiled what I love to ignore for weeks on end. Piles of boxes of TBCL: to be considered later.
Two boxes with a volume of 1.5 cubit feet were heavy. They were solid inside with content. There was nothing soft about the treasures that were hidden away.
I opened each to find what I knew I had to sort, toss or use. These have a track record of my life’s history. It was boxes of a my music.
Scores and scores of CD’s. Music from favored artists: Steve Green, Garth Brooks, Crystal Gayle, Point of Grace, 4 Him, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, James Taylor, Michael J. Smith, Manheim Steamroller, Shania Twain, Van Morrison, David Meece, Steven Curtis Chapman, Promise Keepers, Avery Stafford, Johnny Cash, Scott Wesley Brown, Canadian Brass, Chuck Mangione, Wayne Watson, DC Talk and many more. Can you see my varied taste?
I had to figure out a way to put these all in digital form. My i-touch could hold them. But, I have to figure out how to load them.
Once these are digitally stored I can donate the CD’s to the Salvation Army. That’ll clear my room of several boxes. Moving around my office will be much more effiecient too.
At first I thought that I would count all of my CD’s and add up how much money I have spent on them over the years. But, when I got up to the price of new motorcycle I decided that this was a very bad idea. Furthermore, great music is never about the money.
Years of tranquility and meditation are represented in these discs. Fun times of joy and celebration are a deeply embedded in them as well. How many times have we slipped away into a world of friendliness and cheer just by putting on our earphones and cranked up the volume?
At the same time it’s not the plastic discs that are the memories. It is the music. If I can store the same music in a miniature i-touch and free up living space, how sweet is that?
photo credit: google image
My day is filled with activities. We go to our first destination. I check my watch. It’s only 9AM and I’m feeling tired. Rats, that’s an ugly moment.
We head out to cheer on good friends who are embroiled in an athletic endeavor. It’s fun. We cheer and laugh. Now, I’m really feeling tired.
My suspicions drag on as we finish up the day with a lot of miles, family celebration, errands that take me from one location to the next. I know that I am feeling the invasion of a bug. My throat is starting to get scratchy.
My longing eyes gaze at my wonderful in-home health care provider, my wife. She has seen my tired body dragging from one event to the next. Several times I was hacking away with a dry cough.
She looked suspicious. “Are you getting sick?” “Afraid so.” Then, she lined up all of the suggestions to fight this malady while I still could.
Cough drops, hot tea, pushing liquids, plenty of rest and keeping warm. After that I had to look over my schedule and cancel activities. It was time to rest and attack this cold with aggressive options.
God lets us get sick to slow us down. I’m convinced of this. Sometimes we cut corners, multi-task and over commit. That’s when He touches us in a way to get our attention.
Phooey! I know the theology behind it. The TLC that Yvonne gives me is fabulous. But, I still despise it when my body is not at my immediate disposal. Get out of my body you evil little buggers!
photo credit: google image
My ride was on time. At 6AM sharp he rolled up and we threw my gear into his rig. The morning sky was just starting to gather some light.
I don’t ever recall seeing a sunrise that was disappointing. When the night is chased away by the dawning of a new day, there is something that is always invigorating about that moment. God created a very good thing when He designed the beginning of a new day.
Miles rolled underneath our tires. We had great conversation especially when we talked over the day that we were anticipating on the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Fishermen have an unending optimism about every new adventure.
Our buddies showed up on time. We all boarded the boat. The Captain and his deckhand introduced themselves.
The massive diesel engines fired up. All of the lines were cast off. Each of us heard the Captain call out, “Let’s go fishing!”
Into the mighty Pacific Ocean we cruised. It wasn’t long before the word came to us all as the boat engines slowed down, “Drop you lines. Let’s catch some fish.” That instruction did not need to be repeated.
For half of a day we pulled in a variety of rockfish. Some caught Black Rockfish. Others drug in Vermillion. There were Blues, Browns and Grass Rockfish mixed in the day’s catch.
I was thrilled to feel the pull of a real fighter. My pole bent over and the line was taut. Even against the ocean current and pull of the diesel engines this fish was giving me a battle.
Once I saw “color” the crew get excited. Word went out, “Ling!” It was a nice sized Ling Cod. Yum!
That mighty fighter was landed. But, I held my breath. The Captain took the fish to get it measured.
Ling Cod have to be 27 inches or longer in order to a legal catch. After years of fishing this was my first Ling that I ever caught. But, the bad news came.
My first Ling Cod was one inch too short! Back into the ocean it went. As it swam away, I just dropped my line into the salty seas and kept on fishing.
Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world is nothing less than a treasure available to any who is willing to receive it. There is no stronghold of sin that is able to withstand the power of God. This “line in the sand” should encourage every human that God is able to surpass any obstacle that might keep someone from turning their hearts toward God through Jesus.
In contrast to this message of transformational truth is the messenger. The contrast is not one comparing good and evil but amazing and humble. We who carry the good news to others are nothing but a clay pot compared to the contents that we transport.
This contrast has a purpose. It is self-evident. The gift is far more precious than the wrapping that is around it.
Another contrast that is just as significant is the emphasis on source. The precious content contained in every humble vessel shows off a simple fact: this gift is from God. There is no human origin for the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is ALL God.
Ministry for Paul and his team was extremely difficult. It is for all who are called by God to be in His service. Only those who serve can understand the intensity of such pressure and burden.
Paul felt the stress of ministry. There was no human solution for the burdens that weighed heavily on his soul. Yet, he could just as boldly say that he was not crushed. He has not given up nor was he beaten.
There were many features about ministry that had him stymied. Opposition, pain and complications eluded his rational and spiritual mind. But, he also confidently could say that he was not discouraged.
Persecution seems to be an extreme term. Yet, it was appropriate and accurate for Paul to use the description here. He was experiencing pain. People were hurting him while he was doing the work of the Lord.
Nevertheless, while people betrayed him and did wicked things against him, Paul knew that he was not alone. It hurt and the pressure was excruciating he nevertheless was not defeated. This was realism and optimism at its best.
Jesus and the good news was about the Resurrection. That fabulous truth is at the center of being encouraged in tough times. His life seen through us is a taste of what all believers will enjoy for eternity.
2 corinthians 4.7-12
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The gathering details took on shape in my mind. I remembered that it was a Hof Brau. Surely, that had to mean that a varied fare was awaiting us and not just BBQ.
Our journey had us laughing. As we cruised down the freeway, Karen, our GPS guide had us exiting the freeway, doing u-turns, jumping back on the freeway and taking a general tour of neighborhoods on either side of the interstate. We both just laughed and kept on course.
Finally, she must have gotten her circuits clear. We started to converge on the same route together. But, I got there a lot faster.
For us Bay Area types the first thing that I noticed was the ample parking. Yvonne noticed the pleasant warm weather. Both of us got a deep sense of the “hungries” when the aroma of the German food filled our nostrils.
The front doors welcomed our entry. What was spectacular was the side-show next to the entrance. A large turkey was on a spit and slowly turning as it browned, simmered and dripped with flavorful juices. Yum!
When I was a young boy our family would visit a Hof Brau in Sacramento. It was a treat. My parents would splurge and order me a turkey drumstick all to myself.
That was a memory that is deeply imbedded in my psyche. Holding on to that drum with both hands and burying my face into the succulent tender meat was a boy’s dream. Aren’t memories grand?
Like a little kid reliving a favorite experience, I scanned the menu board. This Hof Brau offered those amazing options of Pastrami, Roast Beef, Turkey and a few creative options that my eyes never took in. Instead, my attention was locked into the turkey drum stick meal.
When the chef asked for my order, my smile must have given me away, “Turkey drum stick meal, please.” His response was reminiscent of shared childhood delight, “Excellent choice, sir.” I shared a knowing smile with a complete stranger.
My plate was handed to me on a tray and the aroma was heavenly. Our grace spoken over this meal was sincere. My last bite on a clean bone was as delicious as the first.
photo credit: google image
I am a dragon. It was the animal sign designated to everyone born in the season when I first drew breath. According to my cultural tradition I was born with the traits of the most magnificent of the Chinese animals.
Unlike the dragons of Europe, the Asian dragon is good. It is full of promise, hope and productivity. More than the strength that is physical, a dragon also connects the world with the spiritual strength from heaven.
The dragon is a symbol of a free spirit. He does not conform to rules; those are arbitrary limits for others. Creativity is his priority and restrictions cramp his style to be innovative and uninhibited.
As a dragon I feel what is descriptive of us. Energy is constantly racing through my veins. When I wake up, my mind is racing with things to do, ideas to test, thoughts to write down and options to weigh.
We think big. As a follower of Christ, it is never acceptable to accept modest results. Instead, we are always looking to see what God will do in His indescribable massive style.
Utterly irrepressible, the dragon doesn’t worry about details. Whatever is the big picture is his bread and butter. Ambition is key, not for show but a match of his faith in what God can do, what possible challenges are available and the progress that comes from success.
Dragons are independent creatures. They will help others generously but are very reluctant to accept help from others. Their friends benefit from their bountiful help and assistance.
Those who have a dragon as a friend, know that their loyalty is premier. But, dragons err when they expect that same loyalty from others. When they are betrayed it is a painful wound.
Several characteristics mark the dragon. They are flexible, courageous and passionate. Each dragon embraces honor, loyalty and optimism as their life values.
Dragons experience disappointment when betrayal touches their lives. But, they grow in wisdom from those violations. These grand creatures do not desire the spotlight.
If you have a friend who is a dragon, then you have a friend indeed. Watch as time grows that friendship more deeply. Then, you will be family.
Keep up with your lifetime of loyalty. He will keep you looking up, trusting in the spiritual strength from the Almighty. A dragon knows that what counts is from God alone.
Happy Chinese New Year!
photo credit: google image
Criticism is a reality for those who dare to step up into leadership. Accusations fly from the opposition camp. The objective seems to be to discredit people who once held positions soon-to-be-vacant and seed the atmosphere with doubt over the next human to fill that gap.
This is true in our political season. There is precious little that is commendable when it comes to the ugly strategy of character assassination among the political pundits. The self-righteous judgmental disposition of those eager to influence the favored and disfavored is piled high ad nauseum and quite frankly wearies the soul of good people.
As accusations fly, innuendo multiplies and mud slings wildly, I imagine the hurt that falls on the souls of the innocent. The spouses, children, friends and honorable bystanders become victims of the vicious and dirty-minded. It is ugly.
The nature of an accuser is a filthy examination. Why do people find it necessary to throw dirt? What’s eating at their lives that drive them to hurt others?
When I was growing up, it was a bad thing to tattle on someone else. But, back then the shady character of the nosey and those flinging criticism about someone else was established. Today, the one who points the finger gets a pass or at least the benefit of the doubt that they are telling the truth.
I have looked into the shifting eyes of accusers. They are obsessed to justify their subtle violence. Most of the time they even attempt to fortify their dastardly deeds by playing the victim.
Then, I look into the eyes of the accused. There is hurt, helplessness and bewildered. Reason, logic and truth are elusive when the emotional drive of the accusers reveal their singular desire to inflict doubt, cause suspicion and raise questions.
Critics are not complicated. They are simply base beasts. The only truth represented in their lives is exaggeration.
Admittedly, they have a grip on some truth. But, it is not worth the damage that they often cause. It is called “piling on”.
Before long the truth is replaced by suspicion. The shocking allegations are a downer. Accusers don’t accomplish much with their lives that rival the pain that they impose on others.
Why people get off on being a negative influence as their greatest contribution to life is a mystery. The good thing is that true integrity is not the same as reputation. Politics, it is so frustrating!
photo credit: google image
Who is qualified to represent God on this earth? Each of us has flaws and have made mistakes that could be held against us by those who are obsessed with their own biases. But, God’s mercy trumps all.
When God brings His grace and invades our hopeless lives, we are undone. As recipients of His goodness, we are stunned, realizing our failings more than ever, especially as we become aware that Jesus died for those sins. It doesn’t bring us to neutral but brings us to eternal significance.
Then, among those who are forgiven, He taps some to step into service. We who are among those given that special privilege are humbled that He considers us faithful for that calling. In Him alone do we put our confidence and trust for service.
We live lives that are open to scrutiny. Sin is all too real to us. As such we live without fighting back, never defending ourselves against human accusations nor causing a ruckus but instead, trusting in His defense alone for our lives. That is not easy. Human allegations and insinuation are without mercy and unending.
What drives us is not our personal defense against the critics. Rather, we live with the hope of winning the lost. In their sin they are fearful of what the religious community will do them if their past is ever discovered and made a public spectacle. Therefore, we who serve the merciful God preach Christ, not ourselves.
Satan is a formidable foe. He has infiltrated the lives of unbelievers and blinded them. Only the merciful light of Christ can bring redemption into their lives.
This amazing power of transformation is the message we must preach. It is the hope of the lost. We who have been called to preach this message must do so faithfully.
It is all about light. This is more than a metaphor. It is an expression of the kind of hope that God gives. The contrast with the darkness where all believers have once been, is the stunning difference.
Why would we want to emulate the darkness from where we have come? Can any believer claim to be so righteous that they can become an obstacle to those who give their lives completely to Christ? It’s better to be gracious, that matches the mercy of God.
2 corinthians 4.1-6
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Yeah, I’m kinda embarrassed. The first half of the television finished up at the end of the calendar year. The critics published their opinions of the shows of the Fall but they did not match with mine.
Before I ever saw the reviews, I made my choices. There are only two shows that I watched regularly. Both of them happened to be on Monday night.
None of them are comedies. Nor are either of them reality shows. Those are two genres that I avoid.
I never have made a move to include animated shows in my adult life. There aren’t any game shows on my list either. Admittedly, I will check on some of contest shows when they get close to the quarterfinals.
Dancing with the Stars is fun. So is the Sing Off. When Idol gets toward the end I like to catch up and see what’s happening.
But, during the Fall season I liked to watch Terra Nova. What attracted me to it is a bit of a mystery. None of my family or friends saw what I saw. Weird.
Yes, I do like Hawaii 50. It started off a little cheesy from a plot perspective but the characters are terrific. Besides, seeing Asians in starring roles has a kind of special attraction to me. Surprise!
But, it is the Terra Nova show that has me a bit chagrined. The critics not only ignore it but take serious shots at it in their end of the season reviews. Not did the critics like other shows, they declared this one as one of the ten worst. Ugh!
That means that it might not make it back for a second season. The critics seem to have some pull with the network executives. Someone up there that I don’t know calls the shots.
Maybe I’ll never know what happens next. Oh, well, they cut themselves off from the future by blowing up the portal back to the future. Now, they will survive in the past in the pristine world so close to when it was all created in the first place.
Just for fun I called up the menu identifying the most popular TV shows. None of them are on my list. I guess I’ll check the TV listings and watch Fess Parker in the title role of Daniel Boone. Does anyone want to join me?
photo credit: google image
It has stealth capabilities that makes it virtually undetectable by most living creatures. This hunter can pad quietly at a swift pace, quickly covering ground between it and its next prey. But, when it needs to be, it can wait motionless for long periods of time, tuning its sense of hearing, eyesight and smell to pick up all the data it needs to make an effective strike.
When a mountain lion chooses its prey, that animal has entered into a danger zone that many creatures have never survived. Like a hundred tightly wound springs, this cat launches itself at its prey and systematically brings home its dinner with an efficient bite to the jugular. Razor sharp claws pins the animal down.
But, when civilization crowds the habitat of the cougar, a battle will ensue that the cat will never win. One cougar found how easy it was to slip and live among humans. It stayed out of sight and hunted only at night.
Townspeople noticed the disappearance of family pets. Dogs and cats were disappearing in steady numbers. Wildlife officials were suspicious of a rogue mountain lion.
Investigation with patrols and night vision goggles confirmed their suspicions. Citizens were warned to keep their children and pets indoors. Eventually the cat was hunted successfully and the threat was neutralized.
Another mountain cat in Nevada was heading for danger as well. He was a powerful beast. Swift-footed and skilled in hunting he clashed with humans too.
He was hit by a car while crossing the highway at night. His back hind legs were immobile. Veterinarians came into to help.
Today, this majestic beast is living out its life at an animal sanctuary. He is separated from the towns and suburbs where he was prowling for a meal. Nearly fully recovered his mobility keeps him out of trouble. He has a pass from further conflicting clashes with humans.
Yet, his majestic presence is unmistakable. He is still a lean hunting machine. It is part of his DNA. He can’t change that nor can it be changed for him.
Today he lies under his shade tree, spies the humans who visit the sanctuary and wonders why his life is so regimented. He wants to roam and hunt. But, that desire is lost forever. He gets to live instead.
photo credit: brucefong photography