copyright 2013 by Jane Reinheimer

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This has to be at the top of the page! http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120710.html It's such a joyful video and I like to play it regularly. It's fun to watch people having fun. Just a reminder that the world is place for each of us to enjoy one another and live a life without the strife of war.

And this, Starry Nights. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?feature=player_embedded&v=FgBF3sIPm4c



Check out this video of a mountain biker going down a mountain: http://clashdaily.com/2014/04/brass-balls-video-insane-bike-trip-mountain-will-make-puke/ -- wild two minutes!

 

It's April 2014 and I have to say that Quint and I are feeling much better - still trying to get up and out of the anemia which is left over from the cancer treatments. Quint is on an iron supplement. I'm not. He's more anemic than I am.

I'll be glad when I can comfortably stand for at least a half hour. Quint does better with that than I do.

But all things in stride. At least we feel ambitious enough to work out in the flower beds and take care of the yard this year. We had people come in an mow the last couple of years -- just so the yard looked presentable.

 

August 20, 2013

This is the most amazing bit of choreographer I've seen in a long, long time -- and I love university marching bands: 
http://www.youtube.com/embed/MjPmmCtHmfE?rel=0

It's a tribute to branches of our military.


August 18, 2013

Hey, people -- have you found Duck Dynasty yet? If you start watching this series, you'll understand why it just broke gynormous viewer records of 11.5 million! 

It's a reality show about the Robertsons. If you've ever spent any time down South, you'll just relish the whole thing - from the brothers who tease each other unmercifully. Like the episode in the first season where a big old snake drops out of a tree and lands in the boat with the Robertsons. One of the brothers jumped out of the boat and into the river. Then the other one picked up the snake and threw it into the river. The other guy jumped back in the boat. Just good humored funnin'.

But I can relate to all that hunting and fishing. I remember watching my daddy making a net. I guess I was about six years old. I asked him how he learned to do that and he said, "Well, June Bug, (that's what he called me) it's just a bunch of knots tied together." He started out on mama's clothes line. Walked back and forth making those knots until he got it the length he wanted. 

He used to run trot lines in the Red River. His heart was in hunting and fishing. Work was something he tolerated. His job was what was called a "rough neck" in the oil fields in southwestern Arkansas. He'd take off every night if he could. Whatever he caught and brought back was what we ate for supper the next day.

But back to the Robertsons. I found this clip of one of the Robertsons 'plainin things about God to an audience. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qop_3ocgqlo

He tells a story of how he challenged a man who called to order a duck call who kept taking the Lord's name in vain. It's worth a listen. I think.

What I like about the Robertsons is that they are congruent people. They say grace before they eat -- just to remind them of where all that goodness in their lives comes from. They've become multi-millionnaires with their duck calls that must be some kind of special; otherwise, why wouldn't someone just go to a sporting goods store and pick up a duck call? Beats me. But then, I'm not a duck hunter. I wouldn't know the difference between one from another.

So they started out poor but they aren't poor anymore.

I'm a little familiar with that story. We weren't just poor. We were dirt poor. I've survived all the unpleasantness of where poor puts you. But I'm here to tell you that you don't have to stay down in that pit of poverty. Each of us can figure a way out of that horrid place. For me it was going to college. 

First an undergrad, then a masters, then a license to practice as a mental health counselor. 

But I'm here to tell you that when you reach some point of success, don't ever indulge yourself by being proud. Pride will get you in trouble. But you can be pleased with your accomplishments. I'm pleased with what God has gifted me to do. I'm pleased that I can go out on crisis intervention events for insurance companies. I'm also pleased that I have a busy private practice of helping a lot of people. I'll never sell duck calls like the Robertsons and I'll never be a millionnaire. But then, that was never my goal. As Si Robertson would say, I'm "happy, happy, happy." He also started almost every sentence with "Hey."
 
And when I look around and see the false pride that others have with what they think they got all by themselves, I shudder to think that I could have been there right with them in that little thought cave. Rather, owing to God alone, everything we have is a gift of His grace. So I don't need a big fancy house. The one Quint and I have is a far cry from where we both started as poor kids long, long ago. Our house has electricity and running water for starters. And if you've ever lived in a humble little house without those two things, you'll understand that they are the foundation of everything else that's nice about a house.

The very first thing you have to do is get right with God. If you do that, He'll keep an eye out for you.

I start every morning with that thought. 

Plus, God is watching me so I'd better not mess up.

August 17, 2013

In case you've never seen a copperhead up close enough to recognize what it looks like, here's an unbelievable video showing the snake biting itself after its head has been chopped off. 
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/08/17/Decapitated-Snake-Head-Bites-Its-Own-Body

If you have an interest iin rocketry, the video 2nd in line shows a rocket ascending -- then coming back to its launch pad and either shutting itself off, or someone turned it off.


August 7, 2013

Hilarious! Here's 12 minutes of Ronald Reagan's best: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=wrRTau5jusU

August 6, 2013

Who says animals can't make a plan? Take a look at this bear stealing an entire dumpster. Watch how deliberate the bear is. The bear even looks around to make sure his traffic path isn't cluttered: 
http://zanylol.com/bear1.html


July 27, 2013

Delta Honor Guard receiving remains of a fallen soldier: 
http://www.youtube.com/embed/c_VGxfmDmEo

I did not know that Delta had an honor guard! Hard to watch this without getting a bit emotional. 

And this, a soldier returns to Oklahoma to meet his widow: 
http://www.youtube.com/embed/c_VGxfmDmEo


July 23, 2013

A full peal of the bells at Westminster Abbey greeted the royal baby's birth. The bells rang for 35 minutes, they say. If that's true, this is going to be one noisy baby: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok8Lp7dgd_g But those who have never heard a full bell peal, enjoy! A full bell peal at our church sounds more like "ding dong."


July 21, 2013

Uh oh! A 6.5 mag hits New Zealand. 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-21/strong-earthquake-near-wellington-shakes-new-zealand/4833724 -- Definitely not a good sign.

Here's a happy welcome home from a dog whose master just returned from a 6-month deployment. You can just tell that the dog wants so desperatevly to speak English - way too much joy for Bugaboo to hold. And this is not a lap dog! 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waSMjQ-lc74

Here's a clip of a beautiful golden lab being ever so gentle with a Downs baby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA8VJh0UJtg -- oh my goodness - the miracles of love that God creates.

Reminds me of a metaphor I got from the pastor at church today. He began with, "What are you going to do now that everything has been done for you? You can just sit on your salvation!"

I absorb metaphors like a sponge and I really like this one. It fills me with courage when days don't go right. It fills me with joy when I see little things that are going right. 

And what am I going to do now that Jesus died for my sins? My salvation is complete. I don't have to worry about a thing because Jesus already sweat blood for me in Gethsemane. 

My life has to fill up with little pebbles of trust and love for others. These little pebbles will pile up into one big mountain of faith.

Blessings to each of you --

 

 

July 20, 2013

Shadow dancing -- familiar with it? This troupe is from Hungary and this is their dance routine. Absolutely amazing! 

I could make lots of comments about the talent, dexterity, etc. etc. But what amazes me is something we call "muscle memory." When these folks are behind the "curtain," they have little else to rely on except what their bodies are supposed to feel like when in a certain position. Otherwise, Stonehenge would have little pieces of rock sticking out in places where it wasn't supposed to. Or any of the other poses and movements could really look funny or strange if the dancers did not have really good muscle memory.

Take a look: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=CvQBUccxBr4

It was especially poignant for me -- and to the audience as well -- to see the soldier being carried home. Reminds me of Quint's losting his brother when he was the U.S. Army. Noticed a few others dabbing at their eyes too.

Oh my -- what talent and how generous of the troupe to share their art with the rest of us. 


July 19, 2013

Funny rendition of what happens, according to Fr. Guido Sarducci,  when we die: 
http://www.youtube.com/embed/0AKvRvL5r3A?rel=0


I don't think that's a real priest though.

Here he is on David Letterman: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kL8Ti1BMNc

And did you know that Fr. Sarducci founded the thought of the 5 minute university: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLAd4NzuqYM


July 18, 2013

Check out this gymnast. She's 86! I couldn't do what she is doing when I was 16. 
< http://safeshare.tv/w/cdaBSBkGKr >**


July 14, 2013

If you have plans to see the newly released movie, Copperhead, you can get a quick overview of Civil War battles at: 
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=civil+war+timeline&mid=E42761EAE9357F7B40BEE42761EAE9357F7B40BE&view=detail&FORM=VIRE2

I did not realize that Paducah, Kentucky, my home town, was the site of some Civil War battles. Grant even built a pontoon bridge across the Ohio River at the landing place that we call "the foot of Broadway."


July 9, 2013

Snakes on a train! Check this out: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07/09/snake-on-a-train-reptile-slithers-onto-flooded-toronto-rail-car-disastrous-commute-gets-even-worse/ 

July 7, 2013

Here's a clip showing the flight coming in for landing and also showing the moment of impact: 
http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/07/us/plane-crash-main/

Just a word of caution for your fliers -- always, always keep your seat belts fastened even when you're sitting in your seat and the plane is en route. Just an extra precaution, but one that could save your life. Wind shears and sudden air pockets could send you careening out of control and maybe make contact with the ceiling. 

This clip shows an animation of the plane coming in for landing. You can see how the tail came off at the sea wall: 
http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2013/07/07/nr-sfo-crash-animation.cnn.html


July 6, 2013

News unfolding - plane crashed on landing at San Francisco Airport. Early thinking is that the plane experienced a hard landing which broke the tail of the plane off. I heard that there were 293 people aboard and it appears that all survived. But then, I just heard on the tv news that the U.S. Coast Guard has pulled someone out of the water. Also heard on one news report that there will be casualties because of smoke inhalation and burns. Also, reports on Fox News say that there have been two deaths. Prayers lifted for all.

For those who are interested in what a hard landing looks like, take a look at these clips: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj_LatoDv0w -- We had a hard landing going into Heathrow Airport in London several years ago. It was spooky and made us quickly realize that the old saying that any landing you walk away from is a good landing. But then our landing didn't damage the aircraft. It just sounded like the landing gear had come through the floor of the plane (it hadn't).

And here's a series of landings in Dusseldorf -- what do you get when you cross an icy runway, crosswinds and 747s? 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la-hSjKP2TU  you know there was some heavy duty praying during those landings.


July 4, 2013

Having a wonderful 4th of July! How about you? 

Gotta listen to the Voices of Liberty sing the Star Spangled Banner: 
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/07/04/Voices-of-Libert-Sing-The-Star-Spangled-Banner

Have a safe Independence Day.


June 30, 2013

Want to know what you could see from a drone at 17,500 feet? Talk about the latest in technology! https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/AHrZgS-Gvi4?ytsession=QJjeRrVzzKDXJ54RgHkPil8o4Zi8RJuy1Zn7rXNaXIQwTD4is2hEZ9cCRkklE-nwfHKPHulQmf-lMY3OliowXWivYmoX8WD7bzDLJt-B7ce2sHnif4jCFUN-O_Nsg-nhE1_K00v6jW-JUn1d5NXe5w


June 29, 2013

Oh wow! 

Before you go see Copperhead, you might want to review what happened at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg is the first movie of a trilogy produced by Ron Maxwell. God and Generals is the third, and now Copperhead.

Quint and I have decided to go back and re-review our knowledge of the Civil War. And this link will take you to the Battle of Gettsburg. It's done by the Smithsonian and shows who was where during that bloodies of battles. What the generals saw and includes a map of the area. 
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/A-Cutting-Edge-Second-Look-at-the-Battle-of-Gettysburg.html

Prepare to be amazed. It was a lot of work to put the battle plan together so that we can understand what each one of the generals saw.


June 23, 2013

Now this is what I'm talking about! Just listen to the fans' reaction to the National Anthem before a game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks: 
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/06/22/chicago-city-big-shoulders-national-anthem-tops-charts/nzUfXZBmP5zmDKA79ZtI6M/story.html Thanks to the Boston Globe for the link.

Here's a little philosophy lesson from my good friend Cody: 
http://play.simpletruths.com/lp/store/?mid=406

June 19, 2013

Here's a great video that strikes a happy chord in my heart. It's called "Putting up the Flag." 
http://puttinguptheflag.com/

Hard to believe that it's been more than a week since I sat down here at the computer. Been running. And today I'm continuing to make biscuits for the Father-Son Breakfast at church on Saturday. So far I've made 8 dozen. That leaves 8 dozen to go before Friday night. Love homemade biscuits. Am making them from scratch too! Another lady is making the sausage gravy to put ont the biscuits. Bon appetite.

So let me ask you a question. Do you think a snake could learn to open a door? Think not? Then this video will scare the beegeebers out of you! 
http://vimeo.com/9841493

 

June 11, 2013

Prayers lifted for all our friends and readers in Europe who are experiencing the devastating floods! We keep you in our prayers daily. Be safe.

Got this quiz from Cousin Mark. See if you can guess how many of these statements are true. 

(Answers are   below.)  1. Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in   the morning.
                            2. Alfred Hitchcock did not have a belly button.  3.   A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 years..
                            4.   People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot   more.  5. When you sneeze, all bodily functions
                           stop, even your   heart!  6. Only 7% of the population are lefties.  7. 40-people   are sent to the hospital for dog bites
                           every minute.  8. Babies are born   without kneecaps. They don't appear until they are 2-6       years old.  9. The average
                           person over 50 will have spent 5 years   waiting in lines.  10. The toothbrush was invented in 1498.  11.   The average housefly
                           lives for one month.  12. 40,000 Americans are   injured by toilets each year.  13. A coat hanger is 44 inches long when 
                            straightened.  14. The average computer user blinks 7-times a   minute.  15. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than any
                           other time   of day.  16. Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep.  17. The   REAL reason ostriches stick their head in
                           the sand is to search for   water.  18. The only two animals that can see behind themselves   without turning their heads
                           are the rabbit and the parrot.  19. John   Travolta turned down the starring roles in 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and   'Tootsie.'
                            20. Michael Jackson owned the rights to the South Carolina   State Anthem.  21. In most television commercials advertising
                           milk, a   mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the   milk.  22. Prince Charles and Prince William
                           NEVER travel on the   same airplane, just in case there is a crash.  23. The first Harley   Davidson motorcycle built in 1903
                           used a tomato can for a   carburetor.  24. Most hospitals make money by selling the umbilical   cords cut from women who give
                           birth. They are used in vein transplant   surgery.  25. Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were   7th cousins.
                            26. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be   green.   Now, scroll down for the   answers...        They   are
                           all TRUE  Now go back and think about 16 ! 

 

June 2, 2013

With all the tornadic activity in the central United States, and particularly Oklahoma, thought you'd like to see some footage shot by Tim Samaras and his son Paul. 
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/02/the-stunning-tornado-videos-of-storm-chaser-tim-samaras-who-has-died/ Sad to say that Tim died this most recent Friday was storm chasing. Carl Young also died on Friday while chasing tornadoes. Here's that story: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/02/us/midwest-weather/index.html

We also lost a sheriff in Arkansas, I believe. The sheriff was trying to rescue some people who were stranded. 

 

May 26, 2013

I don't know who said this, but I agree wholeheartedly:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.  

We thank all our soldiers and sailors and coast guards and marines and air force people and everyone else who ever served in our Armed Forces. We thank you for your bravery and your sacrifice that you have gifted the American people. And the sacrifices your spouses and children made in sharing you with a grateful nation. Thank you. 

Today I am "playing" in the food lab that I call my kitchen. I am making ice cream sandwiches. To do this, I'm using a red velvet cake mix and baking a thin layer of batter. Then I will use a 50/50 mixture of cheesecake flavored cream cheese and vanilla ice cream. Then put another layer of thin cake batter on it and freeze it. When it is frozen, then I will cut into ice cream sandwich sizes and put in baggies and stash in the freezer. Sound yummy? For the layer of batter, I'm using a square pyrex baking dish and putting a thin layer of batter in it. Then I baked the first layer for 12 minutes. The second layer is in the oven. I only have one square pan so it will take several steps to get it all done.

 

May 20, 2013

Inside fo women's handbugs are filty. At least one in five are. That's the news from a medical report released recently. And who would have thought that we had to wash out the inside of our handbags? More likely, maybe we ought to dunk the bags in pools of antiseptic. Oh yuk! But filthier than a toilet? C'mon, it can't be that bad. But apparently it is. Read more here: 
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/260728.php

Not only that but who designed those handbags to have a dark interior? I mean, how can I find anything if the inside of my purse is black? I made a vow not too long ago that I would not buy a purse of any king, shape or design unless it had a light colored material on the inside. Fortunately I'd guess that I'm one of the 80 percenters who have a clean handbag interior. That's mainly because I wash my hands a lot. And I use soap while I'm at it. But it still aggrevates me to no end when I have to just about touch everything in my purse before I find what I was looking for.
 
 
Ever been to the Sistine Chapel? Neither have I. Italy/Rome/the Vatican are not countries we made our way into when we went over there. So I am thrilled to find this link to a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel: http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

Oh my goodness -- is this ever adorable! http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/pfxB5ut-KTs?ytsession=1yGLseHhiBEYDQ0lmNazMknvaqKAHS6uE4oU3T2Cn0uWl3QxkNwt68-scJuCBNrDHXDKebqWoRVdWA_XhYsSf64EOndZpEEzBCri15nc6v8PikbN--F_yGAFC4XFEpJV6jB63ELxJd_rHhhp1jQeUg Look at all those little babies dancing to their hearts content!

 

May 18, 2013

Funny little skit about Lutheran Airlines: 
http://minx.cc/?post=340122

I've mentioned solar cycles and solar flares fairly often around here but you need to know that we are going to be in this sun cycle until 2019. And just during this next week alone, there's supposed to be some pretty disruptive stuff going on. Read more here: 
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/increased-solar-flares-disrupt/12488287

We've never given up our land line just because of something disruptive like this -- as a possibility. The other reason is that in case of any national emergency, there's a very strong likelihood that all cell phone service would be interrupted  kind of like what happened during the Boston Bombing Massacre. No cell phones because there was a fear that, at least until the perps were caught, there might have been a likelihood that someone using his or her cell phone could have triggered another bomb explosion. 

There's a lot of other things I'll give up before I kiss my land line goodbye.

 

May 13, 2013

Ukraine's Got Talent! You bet they do. Just watch this amazing young acrobat -- 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLmImBUBRdc

Britain's Got Talent too -- take a look at these Shadow Dancers: http://www.flixxy.com/britains-got-talent-shadow-theatre-group-attraction.htm#.UZJgPhzvvh8

It happened yesterday -- Monday. It was one giant huge magnanimous burst of energy on the sun. Look at this article and bask in the marvel of the star in the middle of our solar system: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22525233 
 
 

May 12, 2013

How'd he do that? Good magic trick: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=nZM4Iu0sosM&vq=medium

This is a song by Jackie Evancho -- an amazing 11 year old girl -- what a voice!! 
http://www.staged.com/video?v=NtK

May 6, 2013

Interesting animated cartoon about the history of money: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mII9NZ8MMVM

 

May 5, 2013

Check out Metallica playing the national anthem: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iADXhG5MUj8

DeMint says immigration reform will cost Americans trillions: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/5/jim-demint-immigration-reform-will-cost-americans-/ 

 

April 29, 2013

This is a hilarious Jeff Gordon taking an unsuspecting car salesman for a test drive in a 2009 Camaro: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q5mHPo2yDG8


April 25, 2013

So let me ask you something - when you see a deer crossing sign, do you think it's there for the deer, or for the drivers? Apparently this woman thinks it's for the deer because she has had several accidents at or near a deer crossing sign and thinks the signs ought to be moved so that the deer won't think it's a safe place to cross the highway!?? 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFCrJleggrI

 

April 24, 2013

We're read about sinkholes in the news recently -- especially in Florida. But those sinkholes have to go a long way to rival this whirlpool in Latvia. My goodness, I've never seen anything like this before! Absolutely amazing. 
http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/whirlpool.html

April 25, 2013

Want to see something absolutely amazing? I know -- everything amazes me. But this is really, really amazing. It's a 3-year version of the Sun's rotation speeded up into a 3 minute video: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/25/watch-the-sun-burp-boil-and-roil-in-this-mesmerizing-video-capturing-three-years-of-solar-activity/   It's from NASA and it shows the sun boiling, rotating really fast and lots of solar flares. And for those who say there is no God, I say, "You do that."

And speaking of solar flares, watch this one: 
http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/25/watch-the-sun-burp-boil-and-roil-in-this-mesmerizing-video-capturing-three-years-of-solar-activity/ Good thing the sun is 93million miles away; otherwise, we'd all be fried with that spewing forth of hot plasma!


April 22, 2013

We need to celebrate the achievements of people who overcome outstanding odds. This young 16 year old sings the National Anthem at a University of Kentucky vs. Ole Miss basketball game: 
http://zanylol.com/anthem.html 

She was born with a virus that kept her optic nerve from forming. She hummed before she could talk. She taught herself to play the piano before she was two. And yes, she apparently taught herself how to sing the National Anthem. Her name is Marlana VanHoose and if she isn't a national treasure, I don't know what is!
 
Beautiful voice! Andrea Bocelli sings The Lords Prayer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/bocelli_lord_prayer.html

 

April 21, 2013

Narrated by Fred Thompson, this video is entitled "And God Made A Patriot" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dAV8cfmawPk

Building the Three Gorges Dam in China: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwca1aka62w

 

April 10, 2013

Forget the snakes. What this link offers is a bunch of little kitties in awkward sleeping positions: http://newzwars.com/offbeat/15-cute-photos-of-kittens-sleeping-akwardly/

I picked daffodils this morning. Such a sweet fragrance from a big, big bouquet in the middle of the dining room table. I also have some tulips but they're still buds. People who know about such things recommend that if you want to keep squirrels out of your tulips, plant them among your daffodils. I tried it and it really works. Two years ago, I planted a bunch of tulips. I thought they'd be pretty in their own little bed. Unfortunately, I have some Master Gardener Squirrels living around here and they decided that the tulips would look good just about anywhere else. I spent a lot of time digging them up from the middle of the yard and other unlikely places. Apparently they even moved some of my tulips to other places n the neighborhood because a couple of neighbor ladies mentioned that tulips seemed to be sprouting in their yards all by themselves. Hmmm. Yeah, right.

April 8, 2013

So let me see now. A rattlesnake was found in a backpack at a school bus stop in Texas. Big snake. It was 42" long. Not likely that it would slither into the backpack all by itself, then zipper the thing shut so it could have a little siesta. I mean, nearly 4' long! Are you kidding me? Rattlesnakes are pretty close to the top of my list of unwanted critters. So the police, being the nice conservationists that they are, took the thing to a snake farm and it will apparently be returned to the wild after the investigation is complete. Check this out: http://www.kens5.com/home/NB-police-say-rattler-left-in-backpack-may-have-been-on-purpose-202024871.html

April 3, 2013

What do you know about atomic bombs? Here's an interesting link that shows how the mushroom cloud forms. I did not know that the temperature got to be 20,000 degrees -- that's hotter than the surface of the sun!

 http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/abombs.html 


Here's a real heart warmer. A Mama Duck had lain her eggs on the ledge of a bank in downtown Seattle (I think it was). Problem is, when it came time for the little baby ducks to go with Mama Duck to get into the water, Mama could fly but the babies couldn't. So this very big-hearted guy catches the babies as they drop off the ledge, one by one: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=9hnbmml8fOY&hd=1

Now isn't that just about the sweetest thing you ever saw?

April 2, 2013

Whether you call it irony or coincidence, check out the photos in this link:
 http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/most-ironic-things-that-have-ever-happened
-- At the very least, they're comical.


If you had happened to be in a Catholic church in Miami for the Easter services, you would have enjoyed Andrea Bocelli sing Panis Angelicus during communion. If you weren't there and want to hear him sing, click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHKQYFgkcB8 
Absolutely beautiful!

Here is Bocelli with Ana Maria Martinez in a duet Time to Say Goodbye -- incredible! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=dtt1XyWKAnM&NR=1



April 1, 2013

Check out these dangerous mountainous roads from various places in the world:
 

 http://www.mediadump.com/hosted-id108-the-most-dangerous-roads-in-the-world.html 

You'll probably have to cut and paste the address into your web address spot to get the link to work.


 

March 31, 2013

Another disastrous side effect of wind turbines: a golden eagle flew into one of those humongous blades and died. Never mind the bats that have met their untimely demise -- this was a golden eagle. The owner of the wind turbine farm is looking at a $200,000 fine. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/31/nevada-wind-farm-could-face-hefty-fine-over-eagle-death/?test=latestnews 

One of my favorite "must see" sites when I'm on the web is the NASA site. Here is a video of travels around the earth at night from the ISS: http://129.164.179.22/apod/ap130331.html Amazing!

Did you hear about the bomb scare at the Eiffel Tower? Somebody called in a bomb threat and said explosives were put around the tower and were set to go off at 9:30. Along comes 10 pm and nothing happened but in the meantime, in an abundance of caution, the tower was evacuated. Take a look at these photos of what I think is one of the neatest landmarks in the City of Lights. We were in Paris in 1990 as the first stop across the pond as we embarked on our tour to see the Passion Play at Oberammagau but we landed in mid-morning, so we didn't get to see the spectacular Eiffel Tower all lit up. Quint did get credit for taking me to Paris for lunch on my birthday, though. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2301676/BREAKING-NEWS-1-500-people-evacuated-Eiffel-Tower-anonymous-phone-claimed-explosives-placed-landmark.html

And speaking of views of landmarks, this is a photo of the destruction of Meigs Field in Chicago, Illinois. Happened 10 years ago today. What I like about this photo is the Chicago skyline. The other is the runways at Meigs Field after they had been bulldozed with big x-es. And for why? Not really sure. http://pylonplace.blogspot.com/2013/03/ten-years-ago-story-of-meigs-field.html

Here's something not to do on Sunday afternoon -- unless, like this climber, you want to take a big slide down a snowy, rocky hill. This climber was one in a group of three climbers. The climber above him sent a chunk of frozen stuff down the hill and knocked Climber #2 down the hill. Quickly. Fortunately he only broke his leg: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/helmetcam-slide-snowdonia-accident-llanberis-mountain-rescue

March 25, 2013

Some of you may remember this crash of a B52 Stratofortress -- was in 1994. No one survived the crash. Story goes that it was a hot dogger flying the plane and he was practicing for an air show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjFIB1L3BPU

He flew too close to the edge of the air.

And here's a MIG pilot who was at the edge of the air on the tarmac and, of all things, pulled up the landing gear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Cunaek9W24

And on another matter, if you've been following the financial crisis in Cypress and wondered if such a fiasco could happen here in the U.S., you might want to take a look at this article by Roger Lowenstein. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/business/deposit-insurance-and-the-historical-reasons-for-it.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& He traces the origins of finances, federal reserve, etc., in the U.S. Interesting reading if you're into the curiosities about how the banking industry has unfolded since practically the beginning of time.

I just have a question about the FDIC insurance in this country. According to this article, http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/changes.html if you have an account that bears interest, you don't have any unlimited coverage. That would include money market accounts and NOW accounts, if I read the article correctly. If you are fortunate enough to have amassed a nestegg, you'll want to check with a financial advisor to make sure your account/s are safe.

What happened in Cypress, apparently, is that there's an insurance on deposits up to 100,000. The hefty tax on those accounts is on funds over the 100,000 euro balance.  Withdrawals in Cypress banks now are limited to 100 euros per day.

And so it begins. Maybe. This just out -- the UK Independent Party is urging Brits living in Spain to pull their money out of the Spanish banks. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9950083/Ukip-urges-Brits-to-withdraw-their-money-from-Spanish-banks.html

Folks, be very careful. Do absolutely what you need to do to make sure your retirement nesteggs are safe and your funds on deposit are safe. If you have an interest-bearing account in any kind of financial institution, check to see what your safety net includes.

And how about the new research that says parents are introducing solid food to their little babies before the babies are developmentally ready. Developmentally ready? What's that? Well, the baby needs to be able to sit up. The baby needs to be old enough to make those good bacteria that help digestion of solids take place. The baby needs to have developed a chewing mechanism. And the baby needs to be able to swallow the solid food. Here's an interesting article that's going around the news outlets today: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/health/many-babies-fed-solid-food-too-soon-cdc-finds.xml Read it and take care. If your baby is fussy, it doesn't necessarily mean the baby is hungry.

March 23. 2013

This has got to be the best Elvis impersonator I have ever heard: It caps off a week of the David Letterman Show where he did a week's worth of Elvis. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=G8fjHJbF9Es 

Remember Steve Martin? Here's one of his best comedy stints ever: http://rubytooth.com/link/323819 It's a repeat of a 1992 guest appearance on the Johnny Carson show. I did not know he could play the banjo, did you?

Here's a link showing how our military made a pipeline in WWII so that the banks and trucks and jeeps on the continent could get the fuel they needed. I mean, after all, they couldn't just pull up to a loal gas station.   http://www.youtube.com/v/Nv9lBqPVuoE&feature=uploademail



March 19, 2013

One more day 'til Spring. It feels warmer already.

If you have pets, you'll want to check out this article. Here's a link to some things you can find around the house that can be very dangerous - even deadly to your little four-paws: http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/26-household-items-poisonious-cats-38-dogs-130200299.html Be especially careful with Easter coming if you have Easter lilies in the house.



March 17, 2013

You've probably never wondered what Lutherans do with their beer bottles -- but just on the off chance that you might have, here's something from St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k26nt3Y4cmg&feature=related

What fun!

If you're missing George H. W. Bush yet, here's a re-run of the White House Correspondents'dinner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4N93jLVPIA

Here's Carol of the Bells played on beer bottles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbEFLrcE6RU

This is a fantastic video of a gentleman who goes around the world compiling videos of dancers. Unbelievable. And such happy events that all the dancers shared: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120710.html -- Thank you, Joyce, for sharing.



Jim Carrey does a funny job impersonating Clint Eastwood at a roast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vaa28xicJDE&NR=1&feature=endscreen

Some commercials are interesting: http://vimeo.com/61275290 -- Emmmmmmma!


March 15, 2013

A coronal mass ejection occurred today about 3 a.m. EDT. It has directed particles heading for the earth and should "hit' us by late Sunday or early Monday. Take a look at this "incredilgusto" photo of this CME: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-earth-directed-coronal-mass-ejection-sun.html NASA warns us that we can expect some geologic events as well as possible electronic problems. Stay tuned, as they say.  It will either be a big dud or something magnanimously out of this world.

You heard that there's going to be a competition for pole dancers right here in the good old USA! Only in America. Well, here's what a "pole dance" ought to look like. The Polonaise is just so exquisite. Why do we have to look at women who are grotesquely underdressed? Why can't we have some since of class and elegance? Look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3e1OH1BpjA In my view, this has real wow factor.

Here's something you don't see every day - a video of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. This is a mean snake, I don't care what they say. Anything that long and that venomous is on my Run From list. The Eastern Diamondback's strike speed is 92 mph. That's faster than I can run so my best bet is not to be in the same state where they live. And venomous? OMG This thing can kill four people if they shoot out a full load of venom. I'd say that about the only thing they'd be good for is to vacuum out all their venom and make anti-toxin out of it. Well, actually they're good for keeping the rat population down too. Otherwise, we'd have a run on the plague. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRtWT7OMyTQ

Just to keep you up to date on what's happening to the politics in the US, today the House defeated that minimum wage bill. And you know that if it doesn't get out of the House, it goes nowhere. The vote was 233-184. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/15/house-defeats-minimum-wage-increase/ It's just not a good time to raise the minimum wage by any amount with the economy racing toward a bubble burst. My concern is when the Dow hits $15,000. I think that, at that point, the economy will hit the slippery slope and the unsustainable climb will just go pop! By how much? I think I agree with a couple of the economists I've been following who are talking about a 4 or 5% slide into hell for some vulnerable investors. (That's what economist calls a "correction.")

March 14, 2013

Here's a wonderful quote from Francis I  -- the new pope: When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.

Thank you, Francis I. Another of his strong convictions is that all politicians who support abortions should be denied communion.

March 10, 2013

Feel like taking a virtual 360 degree tour of what you'd see if you could enter the Sistine Chapel? Click this link: http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html 

It's particularly appropos since the Conclave of Cardinals will begin meeting on Tuesday.

March 9, 2013

It doesn't happen very often but here's a video that is less than a minute of what will be agony for the rest of this high school basketball's memory. The player took his team out of the running of a semi-finals contest in Oklahoma just becasue he put the bball into the wrong basket: http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2013/03/09/video-the-worst-play-in-basketball-history/

Oops. "My bad" doesn't even cover that one.

March 8, 2012

For all those folks who are really really worried about global warming and the earth melting, good news is here. It has to do with a greatly reduced amount of sunspot activities. I realize that there have been some incredible sunspots recently, but take a look at this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2290289/NASA-warns-unexpected-happening-Sun-year-supposed-peak-sunspot-cycle.html See -- hardly any activity at all. Do you think all those proposed carbon taxes will disappear when we go into another mini ice age?

March 6, 2013

Hobby Lobby may close.
Hobby Lobby is filing suit as a last ditch effort to gain release from the mandates imposed by health care rules. In fact, here's the statement released by its Christian president:

With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court,but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

Stay tuned.


March 3, 2013

This link is to an amazing story of a young man who walked ten miles in snow and ice to get a minimum wage jog: http://www.viddler.com/embed/70d1d214/?f=1&offset=0&autoplay=0&secret=48017121&disablebranding=0 -- I may have put the link on last week, but it's well worth another look. Besides, it wasn't this depiction of the story.


Here's some animals that aren't necessarily the cute, adorable little things we've seen in other links: http://www.viddler.com/embed/70d1d214/?f=1&offset=0&autoplay=0&secret=48017121&disablebranding=0

 

I have just had one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It was a live broadcast on Facebook. The president of the national LWML hosted the broadcast and this week's event focused on an article I had written some time ago about the blessings of stress for The Lutheran Women's Quarterly. People from all over the country were on live this morning asking questions about stress and how to wrap solutions about stress around a life with God.

Each week Kay, the LWML president, is inviting a different article author to join her in the live discussion.

My prayer is that God used me somehow to reach other people. You can also download the article that I had about stress at the Facebook site www.facebook.com/TheLWML -- it's a Bible Study about the blessings of stress.

I also got friend requests from hundreds of new people. From Hawaii, to Texas, to Iowa, to Wisconsin -- to name a few.

I truly believe that within each of the countries that have readers to this web site are pockets of people who hunger, as I do, for a firm relationship with God. We seek out those people who can held solidify that relationship on our journey to get closer to Him. In so doing, we share each others burdens.

People are awesome, aren't they? I got this video from my cousin Mark. It's a video about amazing people doing amazing things. http://awsom.tv/post/41196204035/people-are-awesome-2013-via

Grandparents are awesome too. Mark sent me these comments from little tykes:

1.   She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her
young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before . 

After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But
Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I will probably never put
lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye....

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how
old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he
asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and
a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting
more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel
around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern
warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling
voice,
"Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was
like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung
from a tree in o ur front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the
woods."
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish
I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and
God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?''
"You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor.
She told him she was writing a story.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to
test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me
and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for
the door, saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these
colors yourself!"

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off
until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies
followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa.
Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure."
"Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6."

10.. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma,
guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a
little surprised, tried to keep her cool. "That's interesting." she said... "How do
you make babies?"
"It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," sa id a teacher.
The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant." The teacher took
the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked.
"Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire
truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog.
The children started discussing the dog's duties.
"They use him to keep crowds back," said one child.
"No," said another. "He's just for good luck.."
A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she said firmly,
"to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the
airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her
visit, we take her back to the airport."

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don't get
to see him enough to get as smart as him!

February 26, 2013

Want to know the real source of global warming? Hint: It's not from driving SUVs around. http://129.164.179.22/apod/ap130226.html

Reading the caption, you will note that the time lapse says that the video took place over many, many hours. Global warming is not man-made. No doubt it's happening though. But man is just a tiny little being in the scope of things. There's a bigger hand at play out there in the universe and He's watching us all the time. One plasmic zap from the sun could wipe out our satellite systems in a flash, so to speak.

Changing the subject, we send our condolences to the families and loved ones of 18 folks who lost their lives in a horrible hot air balloon accident as the balloon was flying over the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The balloon exploded and crashed. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284548/Egypt-hot-air-balloon-crash-2-Britons-dead-2-critical-18-tourists-Luxor-killed.html

Here's a heartwarming story about a young man who walked ten miles through snow and ice to get a minimum wage job: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/25/restaurant-owner-finds-dedicated-teen-walking-10-snowy-miles-for-job-interview-guess-where-hes-working-now/ - Congratulations to the restaurant owner, too, for getting a real winner for an employee.

February 25, 2013

And they call the wind Mariah. Check out this link to a wind map of the United States: http://fm/wind amazing!

February 23, 2013

That was some crash at the Daytona 500 this afternoon. Wow! Cars were flying everywhere -- engines came off and went through the fence and got up into the stands. A number of injuries but miracle of miracles -- no fatalies. Check out this link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2013/02/23/huge-car-crash-mars-nationwide-series-race-at-daytona/1941529/

And this video link takes you to an IMAX Fighter Pilot Operation Red Flag event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V30f88a8OTA -- I'd love to see this video at an IMAX theater like the one at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Those videos are on 80 mm film. What an incredible experience. This is a good experience too. All 48 minutes of it. Enjoy!

February 19, 2013

Do you know how much it hurts when you laugh so hard coffee comes out your nose? Take a look at this video - without any coffee in your mouth: https://www.youtube.com/v/IQfZY5rvXX0%26rel=0%26hl=en_US%26feature=player_embedded%26version=3

February 17, 2012

Are you ready for a little history? Mark sent me this story and if you ever get to Chicago, zipping through O'Hare Airport, you'll know why it was named as it was:

Two Stories BOTH TRUE - and worth reading!

STORY NUMBER ONE

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn't famous for
anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything
frombootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed 'Easy
Eddie.' He was Capone's lawyer for agood reason. Eddie was very good! In fact,
Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the
money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.
For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with
live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day.
The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little
consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved
dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars,
and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to
teach him right from wrong.
Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he
couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to
rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al
'Scarface' Capone, clean up his tarnished name,
and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would
have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be
great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a
lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest
gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay.
Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious
medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:
'The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to
tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no
faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.'


STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant
Commander Butch O'Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in
the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was
airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had
forgotten to top off his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back
to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he
dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned
his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way
toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but
defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to
save the fleet.
Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only
one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the
formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he
charged in,
attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in
and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as
possible
until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to
clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible,
rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.
Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to
the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his
return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.
It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.
He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became
the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the
Congressional Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His
home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and
today,
O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this
great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some
thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal
of Honor.
It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER? 

Butch O'Hare was 'Easy Eddie's' son.


Prepare to melt away your heart. Here's a link to a little 5 year old girl who called 911 when her father was apparently having a heart attack. Just listen: http://www.maniacworld.com/stay-calm-dad.html Wow!
Big discussions about raising the minimum wage here in the United States from $7.25 to $9.00 per hour. Lots of studies are out there that show raising the minimum waige has a deleterious effect on employment. Take this for instance: http://confoundedinterest.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/vat-is-das-minimum-wage-unemployment-and-investor-driven-housing-recovery/

I'd just like to take the thought of a small business owner.

Let's say that I can only to afford to hire enough 1/4 time employees (after school students) and pay no more than $1500 in the aggregate every week.

At $7.25 per hour, that means I can buy 206 hours of employment.

Taking that same $1500 at $9.00 per hour means that I can only buy 166 hours.

The difference is 40 hours. I can compute that without my handy dandy little calculator. Forty hours spread over 1/4 time student employees if 4 real people who won't be able to work at my establishment. That means that you could work for me, but your three favorite buddies couldn't.

So, given that scenario -- will someone please tell me how raising the minimum wage helps improve the employment picture?

On another subject: this is about how you can set up an experiment to test for psychological stress and not let the subjects of the experiment know you're intentionally stressing them out. Stress is, after all, a continuing concern no matter where you live. How can you research how much stress a person is feeling when the "victim" is "in on it" and knows it's a scripted stress that will be over with when the research is done.

Some research, in fact, was halted by the American Psychological Association when the research went too far even when the stressed subjects knew about the experiment.

However, in Germany recently, someone at an airport walked around taking pictures of people at random. Then, very quickly, the photos were inserted into wanted posters and distributed throughout the airport. Then the posters made headline news on the overhead TV monitors. The people who were shown had no idea they were part of a big experiment on stress.

Watch the outcome here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gWk_yKtEdo&feature=youtu.be

February 16, 2013

And then there was the Super Bowl. Where would the halftime be without the Clydesdales? Take a look at this precious ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPG7PcI67dE

This is one of my all-time favorites : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Xb4kLo4Gp0&NR=1&feature=endscreen I realize that it's a scripted commercial but don't you wonder how much animals really communicate to one another? I think they communicate much more than humans give them credit for.

I love to watch people who are enjoying themselves dancing. And I equally enjoy watching children dancing. When these two are combined, here's an incredible combination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqb3z2sQ6PM -- You think they don't feel the rhythm? !!

I never rode a subway when in New York, but I can only imagine. Then Mark sent me this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=47e3vjA_4uc Who knows, maybe someday this is what the Chicago subways will look like.

I did read some while ago that a "good" panhandler back in the early 90s was making some $50,000 a year. Lived in a better condo than I did. Lost my benevolent spirit for street moochers. I mean, I can help more people by donating to human care agencies who help people who are in need. And, of course, the church.

Here's a compilation of what's supposed to be the best commercials of this year's Super Bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65t7LSknGdE&feature=endscreen&NR=1


February 15, 2012

Amazing footage of a big meteor hitting the earth. Happened in Russia. It was big and it exploded in the atmosphere before it actually struct the earth. Lots of damage, mostly from breaking glass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXvrNUXxm9E

If you love cats, you'll get a kick out of these felines showing how they amuse themselves. The folks over at Cheeseburger put a new video out every Wednesday. Remember, laughter is a good way to say good riddance to burnout. http://cheezburger.com/47540993

February 13, 2013

A little mini-factoid that I found on my way to looking something else up. Some late research says that one of the most effective "cures" for burnout is laughter. So laugh until your sides ache, my friends. Something else you might want to know is this: Involve yourself in creative pursuits -- even if it's just observing a view that strikes your fancy. Creativity has a lot to do with dopamines that attach to pleasure centers in your brain. If you can't take a hike, then go on these visual excursions that Shirley sent. Enjoy life and life enjoys you!
Feel up to taking a little trip out west? Shirley sent clips to some incredible photos from Utah. But it isn't just the photos. You can hold your cursor down and move the view to the right, left, up or down:

http://www.utah3d.net/utah-travel/canyonlands/grand-view.html -- Canyonlands National Park - Grand View Point

http://www.utah3d.net/utah-travel/capitol-reef/sulphur-creek.html - Capitol Reef National Park - Sulphur Creek

http://www.utah3d.net/utah-travel/arches/double-arch.html - Double Arch in Arches National Park

http://www.utah3d.net/utah-travel/wasatch-mountains/payson-canyon.html - Wasatch Mountains -- Payson Canyon

  

A little language trivia from my cousin Mark:

UP

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word,
and that word is ' UP .' It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj],
[n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP , meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but
when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP , and why are the
officers UP for election (if there is a tie, it is a toss UP ) and why is it UP to
the secretary to write UP a report?We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room,
polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the
house and fix UP the old car.

At other times, this little word has real special meaning . People stir UP trouble,
line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP .

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty
mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look UP the word UP in the
dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can
add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP , you may wind UP with
( UP to) a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out, we say
it is clearing UP . When it rains,the earth soaks it UP. When it does not rain for
awhile, things dry UP . One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now . . .
my time is UP !

And then, there's these funny little vignettes, also from Mark:

No one believes seniors . . . everyone thinks they are senile.
An elderly couple was celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. The couple had married
as childhood sweethearts and had
moved back to their old neighborhood after they retired.. Holding hands, they walked
back to their old school. It was not locked, so they entered, and found the old desk
they'd shared, where Andy had carved “I love you, Sally.” 
 
On their way back home, a bag of money fell out of an armored car, practically
landing at their feet. Sally quickly picked
it up and, not sure what to do with it, they took it home. There, she counted the
money - fifty thousand dollars!
 
Andy said, “We’ve got to give it back.”
 
Sally said, “Finders keepers.” She put the money back in the bag and hid it in
their attic.

The next day, two police officers were canvassing the neighborhood looking for the
money, and knocked on their door. “Pardon me, did either of you find a bag that
fell out of an armored car yesterday?”
   
Sally said, “No”.
   
Andy said, “She’s lying. She hid it up in the attic.
   
Sally said, “Don’t believe him, he’s getting senile”

The agents turned to Andy and began to question him.

One said: “Tell us the story from the beginning.”
   
Andy said, “Well, when Sally and I were walking home from school yesterday ...”
 
The first police officer turned to his partner and said, “We’re outta here!”

And --

And Then:
Earl and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing,
chewing tobacco and drinking beer when suddenly
Bubba says, "Think I'm gonna divorce the wife - she
ain't spoke to me in over 2 months."

Earl spits overboard, takes a long, slow sip of beer and says, "Better think it
over..............
women like that are hard to find."


Oh my goodness, will you just look at this! The other day Quint and I were just talking about the newest, biggest, baddest TV screen. "How could anything be worth a half million dollars?" I asked. Then I saw this clip: http://www.cseed.tv/design/movie.html -- It's wild. Now I know. That's some house. Probably doesn't come with the Porsche though. And wouldn't they worry about rain dripping down into that hole that the LED screen came out of? Just wondering. Thank you, Mark. I'll bet you don't have one of these in your back yard. I'm going to check next time I come see you.


I'm so lucky because I got this clip from both my cousins. http://www.wimp.com/christianlion/ It's about a lion cub that was raised from infancy, then returned back to the wild. This clip shows their meeting after some time has passed. They were warned that their pet lion had reverted back to being a wild animal and wouldn't recognize them. But you just watch!

And thank you, Mark and Al, for sharing this with all of us.

My final link for today is this one from Mark. He says it's about some masculine moments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvlQYi5LoYM&feature=youtu.be




February 12, 2013

One of my favorite favorite places to go to on the web is www.ted.com - a most amazing place. To give you an idea, here is a link to a photographic excursion in the womb from conception to birth. Absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=fKyljukBE70 -- and especially to a microbiology student, Elizabeth, who is studying at Eastern Illinois University. Say hello to Elizabeth, everybody. And Elizabeth, watch this video if you have time or inclination. You will enjoy it. I suspect.
And today is the day we remember Abraham Lincoln, America's Civil War President. Happy birthday, Abe!

Got this funny -- or at least cute -- video link from cousin Mark. It's called The Green Side of the Grass: http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/6dbBfXCMbH4?rel=0%22

February 10, 2013

And just who is this Dr. Benjamin Carson? Well, if you haven't looked him up in Wikipedia, let me tell you that he is a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University. He was the first surgeon to successfully separate twins who were joined at the head. He is a "pull yourself up out of poverty" kind of guy. He was invited to address the nation at the National Day of Prayer not too long ago. And in case you haven't heard his speech, here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyyHegP255g

Reminds me of my own childhood. We had next to nothing in money. And when I would go to my grandmother and complain that I hated being poor, she'd tell me that we weren't poor -- just broke. Big difference. And I've never forgotten it as I've gone through life. Sometimes broke; sometimes not. But poor? Nope. Poverty is a state of mind and I do not want to go there.

And here are the photos of Richard III's remains: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21063882

Everyone is buzzing about both these topics, from what I hear in my galloping around the internet.

Here's a link to a cat that I could just love. Cat-cat got run over and after many surgeries, has become a lesson of style and grace, not to mention grace. I just love cats! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2275887/Caffrey-amazing-moggie-survives-legs--theyre-side.html#axzz2KX21lwCl


Pink hair? So how many women do you think could pull off pink hair? Dame Helen Mirren seems to be doing just fine with it. But most of all, I love the dress. Elegant and very ladylike: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2276596/BAFTA-Awards-2013-Dame-Helen-Mirren-shocks-debuts-new-dyed-bob.html#axzz2KX21lwCl

More photos of dresses, hairdos, tuxedos, etc. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2276515/BAFTA-Awards-2013-Caroline-Flack-leads-red-carpet-glamour-stunning-beaded-black-gown.html#axzz2KX21lwCl 
Oh, so those little peepholes in the ladies' dresses are called keyholes? Did not know that. And what's with that one yellow dress. It looks like half a dress that had the bottom half tacked on somehow. The woman who's wearing it should keep her arms down to her side so she doesn't give the dress' secret away. I could tell it if was supposed to be a mini that lost its identity at the last minute and had a bottom half added quickly in the dressing room. Guess those $gadzillion dresses are lost on me.


February 9, 2013

Found this beautiful rendition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It's 42 minutes so I'm guessing it's all four seasons. Play it in the background while you're doing something else on your computer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=GRxofEmo3HA&NR=1

February 8, 2013

We've been watching a Netflix production, The House of Cards. It's Kevin Spacey at his best even though the story is about corruption and greed and politicians in Washington, D. C. However, in one of the later episodes, Spacey's character goes back to his alma mater because they are naming a new library after him. Francis Underwood, I think. Point is, he and three of his buddies sang Shenandoah. Nothing like good harmony for this wonderful song. This isn't them, but it's a wonderful glee club doing the same song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QvoqvX2VPE

Not the same group, but a wonderful group of harmony singing Finlandia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDXNHPeRB0k

Here's the same anthem set against some beautiful photography: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5zg_af9b8c

This anthem is also set against photography, with the lyrics as well as some of the history of Finland and its quest for independence from being a duchy of the Russian empire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XojVmivqDrA

Here is a beautiful choral presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGgu5iwP5Z8 -- Finlandi, Hymni

Even a flash mob offers its rendition at an airport: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO63xt2jWtc  What a celebration of joy and peace and pride for a very young nation that has nourished its soil with the blood of its patriots. The world salutes you!

So for all our readers from Finland, enjoy. Our hearts are with you in your independence and freedom and liberty.

Adding one of my all-time favorites, Ode to Joy, here is a group from Japan -- all 10,000 of them -- giving us Ode an die Freude. Absolutely beautiful.

And this, I'll bet, you've not seen anything like it: http://www.youtube.com/embed/XlyCLbt3Thk?rel=0 

 

 

January 30, 2013

My, oh my. This link shows a sinkhole that swallows up buildings! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9833738/Sinkhole-swallows-whole-building-complex-in-China.html

Fortunately, no one was reported injured. But whole buildings?! Wow!

January 28, 2013

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's powerful message at the National Day of Prayer: http://robcunninghamusa.com/2013/01/28/video-pastor-confronts-obama-america-is-a-christian-nation/

I pray that his message will be a wake-up call for many sinners who need to take that first little step toward regaining faith, or gaining a faith they may never have had.

It's simple. It requires crossing a threshold into a new beginning for your life. You don't have to make a big project out of it. Just find a church and walk through the doors. (I use the word church to mean any house of worship.)

Don't wait until you are doing "better" in your faith. Whatever that means. You are never going to get clean from your sins by yourself. Church is a place to go where you can get clean. It's where you metaphorically get cleansed by the blood of Christ.

If you feel like your sins have made you ill, then you need to know that the church is a hospital for sinners. You can exchange all those sins for a new life in Christ.

Just go through the door and feel the embrace of Christ's love.

If you believe that the church is full of hypocrites, then you ought to feel right at home if you think that at least you're honest enough to know you're a worthless piece of doodoo. But you're right -- as sinners we all live hypocritical lives. There's room for one more so come on in. Walk through the door.

Come on in and know the full salvation of Christ's love and what He did on the cross to save you and me alike. Just walk through the door. The Holy Spirit will guide you to faith and introduce you to the Savior of the world.

January 27, 2013

Want to see the five top scariest places on the planet? Take a look: http://www.cracked.com/article_19705_the-5-most-spectacular-landscapes-earth-that-murder-you.html

Here's a bear surprising a camera crew trying to set up a commercial in the frozen tundra north: http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/walking.html

And to change the subject: 

Lent is about increasing consciousness.

The story of Easter starts at Christmas because there would be no Calvary without Bethlehem.

From Ash Wednesday, it's a forty-day journey of mindfulness. It's about a growing awareness of just exactly what Jesus Christ's death on the cross means to each of us as Christians.

So, how many of you out there would quietly lie down on a cross so that Roman Soldiers could nail your hands to the crossbar? Everybody who would be willing to do that, raise your hands.

Not many hands up. In fact the number is somewhere between zero and negative 10. The negative numbers are those people who are sitting on their hands just to make sure they don't spontaneously shoot up in the air.

How exactly do you increase your mindfulness about salvation. That's what the trek through the Lenten season is all about. It's about become more and more thankful for the tremendous sacrifice that our Heavenly Father made by sending His only Son to die for the wrongdoing of all sinners. As a parent and as a human mother, I can tell you that I could not have done that to any of our children. This was absolutely, positively certain death for Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ was not a clone off another brother. God could have done that too. But He didn't. Nope. Jesus Christ was His one and only.

The willingness of Jesus Christ to lay down His life is something we need to think about during this trek through Lent.

In my view, how could anyone participate in gleeful festivals and parties?! At the risk of those of you out there who'd tell me to lighten up, I say go ahead. Just count me out. I'm thinking about other things while you're engaging in your not-so-mindful Lent festivals and parties. I have a right to practice my faith in ways that are deeply meaningful to me. You do too.

Does it mean that I go to heaven and you don't? Probably not. But for me, observing Lent is more about Sunday morning and midweek Lenten services. It's about an everyday-trek through my heart and mind. It's one long moment from Ash Wednesday to Easter. I'm not that good at multi-tasking where I can do that and also go to festivals.

So have at it. I'll see you at the cross.


January 26, 2013

Late Night Catechism -- very funny nun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jrh_uuPmd0  There are other vignettes at the link which you can watch.

Here's a link of a father and son team: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=9xwCG0Ey2Mg The son is blind and wheelchair-bound. And thanks to his father, he is part of the University of Louisville Marching Band. Seeing is believing! And thanks to our friends, John and Sherre, in Wichita for sending the link. It just reminds me that God gives us talent, but not necessarily fame or fortune.

What could be more adorable than a half dozen Scottish Terrier puppies? Well, watching them "eat" in a common puppy bowl and moving around it like a pinwheel. You're just not going to believe it: http://uvideo100.com/pinwheel.html

I just love this video -- it's a little boy in who can't be more than 5 or 6 years old driving a front loader! He actually does a fantastic job and is so serious. I'm really impressed with his coordination: http://uvideo100.com/labor.html

After you watch it, answer me this question: do you think this young man would ever be satisfied playing with a Tonka truck? Not!

It seems to me that what makes these little boys so adorable is that they are doing big people stuff. Take this little tyke who crashed his dad's concert. Dad was singing Brown Eyed Girl and little Mr. Twinkie comes running over and decides to show off some of his moves to the crowd. Crowd went wild with appreciation. Baby takes pacifier back to his mom. Don't need this anymore since I'm out here playing with the big boys. http://uvideo100.com/concert.html

Want to see one good example of poetry in motion? Look at these Friesians. Beautiful black horses coming into their own in the field of dressage. http://uvideo100.com/friesian.html


January 24, 2013

Here's a link to a beautiful train ride. Oh the beauty of the trip! Ride along with Floyd Kramer's piano: http://www.openmyeyeslord.net/Train%20Ride.swf

Got this warning from my dear friend Norma:

WARNING FROM POLICE**
>>>
>>>        THIS APPLIES TO BOTH WOMEN AND MEN**
>>>
>>>        BEWARE OF PAPER ON THE BACK WINDOW OF YOUR VEHICLE--NEW WAY TO
>>>        DO CARJACKINGS (NOT A JOKE)
>>>
>>>        Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating.. You walk
>>>        across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You
>>>        start the engine and shift into reverse..
>>>
>>>        When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your
>>>        parking space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle
>>> of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors,
>>>        and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it
>>>        is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the back of
>>>        your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere,
>>>        jump into your car and take off. They practically mow you down
>>>        as they speed off in your car.
>>>
>>>        And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car.
>>>
>>>        So now the carjacker has your car, your home address, your
>>>        money, and your keys. Your home and your whole identity are now
>>>        compromised!
>>>
>>>        BEWARE OF THIS NEW SCHEME THAT IS NOW BEING USED.
>>>
>>>        If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, just
>>>        drive away. Remove the paper later.  A purse contains all kinds of
>>>        personal information and identification documents, and you
>>>        certainly do NOT want it to fall into the wrong hands.**


This is a prayer that comes by way of my good friend, Cody, from Warrensburg. Thank you, Cody. I am especially happy to share with so many readers who live so far away -- many in countries that  persecute Christians. I lift each of you up in prayer for your physical and spiritual safety:

Prayer is one of the best and most powerful free gifts we receive. Read the prayer
below.


Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.


May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been
given to you.

May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

>>>       

January 22, 2013

Remember when I was talking about over-learning yesterday?

Today I'm thinking about over-thinking as part of that path to learning. Remember that learning is defined as relatively permanent and leads to some sort of behavior change. That behavior change can be something as simple as realizing that you're different because you've learned something new. That is to say, you don't have to go back to hula hoops for self-entertainment.

Today I am thinking about a physics idea. Not even sure you can call it a theorem yet, so I'll settle for an idea. It's called Higgs-Boson. It's an interesting thought - an idea -- and I want to understand it. So I found this link that was prepared by a physicist at the Fermilab. I figure if I listen to it over and over, I'll get a handle on Higgs-Boson. I do question the example of the portly gentleman going through the water with difficulty where the barracuda did not. In truth, all of the man was not in the water -- only half of him was, whereas all of the barracuda was moving through the water. But I'll have to study that thought some more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIg1Vh7uPyw 

Here's a web site for some basic physics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnMIhxWRGNw&list=PLED25F943F8D6081C&index=10

My point is, we'd better be learning this stuff if we ever want to understand the world around us instead of having someone understand the world and explaining it to us. I mean, how do we know they'd be correct? We need to keep over-thinking and over-learning.

After all, my technique did get me through understanding some perplexing and difficult math structures in high school and my undergrad.

And my brain didn't even melt.

So I'm going to put this link about quantum physics here kind of as a bookmark because when I want to find it, I probably won't be able to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1TVZIBj7UA&list=PLED25F943F8D6081C 

But then, I could always ask Quint and he could explain it all to me.

January 21, 2013

January 21st already. Wow! How time goes flying by.

I received this link from my dear friend Linda in Lawrenceville: http://www.youtube.com/embed/8TT1XFS1LA0

If ever there is a story of the need for closure, this video poignantly points to the need. This is the story of a WWII widow who searched and searched and never gave up. And all the time her late husband was found in a grave at Normandy. But it's more than that. That would be too simple a story. Just watch and see what the little town in France has done to commemorate her husband all these years.

Linda also sent a link entitled The Beauty of Mathematics. If you have not seen this before, prepare to be amazed: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=h60r2HPsiuM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

It reminds me of when I was a little kid and used to "count letters." Don't know where I learned to do that but it was just fun. I counted the letters in my name, and words at school. For no good reason except as a mental exercise.

And thank you, Linda, for sharing this link with our readers.

While I was at the links, I noticed a video called Late Night Catechism. I knew the nun was Catholic. I mean, her habit was a big clue, right? So I clicked on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=h60r2HPsiuM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Oh how funny she is! The above link takes you to catechetical lesson #2 -- and there are others at the site. Enjoy!



January 19, 2013

We watched a Neil Young concert - Prairie Wind -- on Netflix last night. His signature song, at least as far as I'm concerned, is Heart of Gold. So while I was listening to that song, I really wanted to hear Horse With No Name. I was so certain that it was a Neil Young recording too. But it wasn't. America recorded it and here's a link, if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQzW6wz2JQk

At one point, Neil Young asked, "If there a guitar in the house?" Next thing you know, he's got about 8 guitars lined up playing with him on stage. Having taught guitar years ago at a park district up north, I am amazed that all the guitars were so in tune with one another, and the guitarists were so synchronized.

I watched a TED talk about sychronicity not too long ago. It seems that "all" things in nature try to synchronize with each other. So I put on my mental health hat and wonder if, for whatever reason, people can't synchronize with one another it's doom for a relationship from the start.

Anyway, if you haven't discovered TED talks yet, go to www.ted.com and listen to some of them. One of the criteria is that the talks can't be longer than 15-18 minutes and the speaker has to talk about an idea that will change the world. There are all sorts of categories to plug into. Go ahead. It's an easy way to learn something new.

My grandmother used to tell me that a day was wasted if I didn't learn one new thing.

She didn't have to lecture me much about that either. I loved studying and learning when I was in school. Loved it so much that I made up practice tests for myself when I was an undergrad. I would pick parts of the text that were particularly difficult to grasp and make "fill in the blank" exercises. I made a key with the answers as I went along. I would only do 50 blank questions or so at a time. Then I would test myself. I was amazed that even after reading the text, then writing it down with an important word replaced by a line to fill in, and writing the correct word or term on the key, the first time I took my little practice test, I would only get 50% or so correct. So I'd keep taking my little test until I got 95% correct. Then I would move on to another part of the textbook and do the same thing. And that is how I aced my tests.

Was it a lot of work? Yes!

Was it worth it? You bet!

Later when I taught psychology classes to undergrads, I told them what I did. Believe it or not, several of the students duplicated my "system." They were amazed to add such a simple method to their toolbox of learning skills.

Students often make an assumption that if they read something, and take good notes, then review their notes the night before an exam, that's all they need to get a good grade on tests. Some people can do that. Most can't. Most people need a few other techniques to help them out.

But for all those people who say, "I never was good at taking tests," I say, "Of course not because the secret to taking tests well is overlearning. It's going over and over and over the material until you can practically recite the information."

One thing that we've all over-learned is the alphabet. Another is the multiplication tables. That is, if you memorized the multiplication tables.

On another matter not related to anything above -- here's a link that shows ships in their rustic rusty final states lying on beaches at various places around the world: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2264903/Rust-glory-Poignant-pictures-capture-tragic-beauty-worlds-haunting-shipwrecks.html



January 17, 2013

One of the benefits I have enjoyed over the past several years after doing some genealogy research is finding a long lost cousin of mine in southeast Texas. We are related through my father's sister. A side benefit is that Frances has as much a sense of fun-loving human as I do. She sent this and I think you'll enjoy it too:

Why I Like Retirement !!!

Question: How many days in a week?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday
and you know when it's Sunday
that's when the heavy paper comes



Question: When is a retiree's bedtime?
Answer: Three hours after he falls asleep in the recliner.


Question: How many retirees to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day.



Question: What's the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There is not enough time to get everything done.


Question: Why don't retirees mind being called Seniors?
Answer: The term comes with a 10% discount.


Question: Among retirees what is considered formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.


Question:Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer:They are the only ones who have the time.



Question:Why are retirees so slow to clean out the basement, attic or garage?
Answer:They know that as soon as they do, one of their adult kids will want to store
stuff there.



Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal.


Question:What is the best way to describe retirement?
Answer: The never ending Coffee Break.


Question: What's the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree?
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents.



Question: Why does a retiree often say he doesn't miss work, but misses the people
he used to work with?
Answer: He is too polite to tell the whole truth.




And, my very favorite....
QUESTION: What do you do all week?
Answer: Monday through Friday, NOTHING..... Saturday & Sunday, I rest.


Thank you, Frances, and stay warm. I don't think the Houston area is getting all that many blessings from Mother Nature these days. I'm bracing for a predicted 5 degrees on Sunday. Brrrrr.

January 15, 2013

If you like cats, you'll enjoy watching these two felines "sharing" their dinner: http://uvideo100.com/bowl.html

I like cats a lot more than politics. Apparently they share. But I don't think they are compromising all that much, to think about it.

January 15, 2013

From our good friends in Wichita comes this suggestion of how to cook a turkey dinner. Something to keep in mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=niegc7QcilM Now, isn't that hilarious?

January 14, 2013

I can remember sitting around the radio when I was a kid -- kind of like we sit around the TV nowadays - to listen to the Bob Hope Show. What fun. I understand from listening to interviews with him that he also wrote his own material.

Got the following snippets from cousin Mark. So for those of you who are too young to remember the Bob Hope Shop, here are some funny bits from this wonderful comedian who passed on a number of years ago:

For those of you too young to remember Bob Hope, ask your Grandparents..
And thanks for the memories. WHAT A WONDERFUL E-MAIL.




I HOPE THIS WILL PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE AND IN YOUR HEART.

Tribute to a man who DID make a difference.




ON TURNING 70
'I still chase women, but only
downhill'.

ON TURNING 80
'That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.'

ON TURNING 90
'You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.'

ON TURNING 100
'I don't feel old. In fact, I don't feel
anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.'

ON GIVING UP HIS EARLY CAREER, BOXING
'I ruined my hands in the ring. The referee kept stepping on them.'

ON NEVER WINNING AN OSCAR
'Welcome to the Academy Awards or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'.

ON GOLF
'Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees.'

ON PRESIDENTS
'I have performed for 12 presidents and entertained only six.'

ON WHY HE CHOSE SHOWBIZ FOR HIS CAREER


'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother,
Congratulations, you have an eight pound ham.



ON RECEIVING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
'I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it.'

ON HIS FAMILY'S EARLY POVERTY
'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.'

ON HIS SIX BROTHERS
'That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.'

ON HIS EARLY FAILURES
'I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the
stuff the audience threw at me.'

ON GOING TO HEAVEN
'I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a
technicality.'


January 14, 2013

Here is a link to a video about interment about the USS Arizona that is carried out even in the present time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgE2KiPd3xg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Quint and I the opportunity to go aboard the Arizona when we went to Hawaii on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. It is, even after all these years, a moving experience. And a reverent one, just knowing that there were sailors still entomed beneath us.

January 13, 2013

Watch this clip of a golden lab trying to very gently interact with a young boy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA8VJh0UJtg

I'm fortunate to have had a golden lab when I was much younger. They're the gentlest dogs on the planet -- in my view. Dogs are amazing -- as you can see when this video shows a dog going onto a busy highway to rescue another dog that has been run over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=_nkadPBEKFk&NR=1 Amazing. And the injured dog lived! That's the best part.

The link to this video shows an incredible affection from a cat trying to revive a cat friend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=3g-JcebQyyI&NR=1

These compilation videos are always interesting. I personally think everyone should take a Physics class in high school just to learn about forces of nature and what works and doesn't work. And apparently a shooting course too so you can know what to expect in a recoil. Or at least to hold onto the rifle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gng3sPiJdzA

But then, it's nice when everything works out all right too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=yKWoPlL2B8I

I guess we can talk about doctors and medicine in the new year. These funny vignettes come from my cousin Mark who is always funny!

MY NEW PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN Love this Doctor!   

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.  Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste on exercise. 
Everything wear out eventually.  Speeding up heart not make you live longer;

it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster.  Want to live longer? 
Take nap.  

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?   
A:  Oh no.  Wine made from fruit.  Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take
water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way.  Beer also made
of grain.  Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.  If you have two
body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry.  My philosophy: No pain...good!  
   
Q:  Aren't fried foods bad for you?   
A:  YOU NOT LISTENING!  Food fried in vegetable oil.  How getting more vegetable
be bad?

Q :  Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A:  Oh no!  When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You should only be doing
sit-up if you want bigger stomach. 

Q:  Is chocolate bad for me? 
A:  You crazy?!?  HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another vegetable!  It best
feel-good food around!

Q:  Is swimming good for your figure? 
A:  If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q:  Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle? 
A:  Hey!  'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food
and diets.

And  remember:  
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in
an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay
in one hand -

chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming
"WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"   
   
AND.....

For  those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and
health.  It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional
studies.   

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than
Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than
Americans... 

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer
fewer heart attacks than Americans.

 
CONCLUSION:  Eat and drink what you like.   Speaking English is

apparently what kills you.

Quint's cardiologist has a food philosophy that I like. He says we don't have to endure all that gravel-tasting food. Like that guy1

January 9, 2012

Today would have been my brother's 68th birthday. RIP, Al. Hope you were finally able to quit smoking wherever you are up there.

Under the general heading of "Are you kidding me?" is an activity called "zorbing." Not sure where that word came from, but a zorb is a big inflatable ball.

Well, these two Russians decided to get inside this inflatable, which is what youdo with a zorb, and roll it down a ski slope.

It did not end well. In fact, one of the zorbas was killed when the zorb rolled off a cliff, instead of sticking with the path it was "supposed" to take.

Here's the linkhttp:// www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/09/ride-down-ski-slope-in-giant-inflatable-ball-turns-deadly-in-russia/?test=latestnews 

Not serious like the antics of zorbing, but here's reactions from fast food drive-up window people who try to serve an order to a car that doesn't have a driver in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVrJ8DxECbg Reactions are really interesting.

January 8, 2013

Eons ago when I was young and dirt was just a technological dream, I took a Psychology of Advertising course. How attitudes of the public are shaped by advertising was a new thought. How advertising reflects the social mores of a culture was also embedded in there somewhere. So I found these ads -- supposed to be the funniest ads of last year. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7_LfUeSWWE

What do the ads say to you? Some of interesting, others downright funny. Ads have come a long way since the early days of television when it was all about a catchy jingle and a kind of in-your-face message. Nowadays, ads are more subtle and a whole lot funnier. And now with the ability to lip sync babies talking, and other computer gyrations, we get some pretty comical antics. Babies and animals still rack up the best sales.

This link takes you to "Top Tracks of Enya." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0NoHN1TU5I&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CxvLgtPVLEHEK_wTvvFbqd Lots of beautiful graphics. Enjoy your respite.

Didn't get enough commercials in the Super Bowl? This link takes you to a big collection. Funnnnnny! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cidAbexlHTE


 

January 7, 2013

Oh the curse of unintended consequences! Take the electric cars, for instances. Notice how quiet they are. Peace, aren't they?

Apparently there are lots of problems where pedestrians are concerned. So much so that highway safety people have now developed a list of sounds that will have to be engineered into the oncoming electric car so that you will know they're around. You can listen to these sounds just so you will recognize there's a car nearby when you step off into the pedestrian walkway at the intersection. Here's the link: http://www.nhtsa.gov/SampleSounds

January 6, 2013

Today is the Feast of Epiphany Sunday. It's the day that Christians celebrate the Magi who came to see the Baby Jesus. They brought expensive gifts which certainly came in handy when Joseph had to take his new family into Egypt for safekeeping because that mean old King Herod was looking for all the first-borns to be killed. Someone had told Herod that a new king of the Jews had been born and Herod, being the paranoid type, couldn't handle that kind of rivalry. So, he'd already killed his wife and his father-in-law and his mother-in-law and now was going to launch a genocide of innocent little babies.

At church we do our undecorating of Christmas trees and adornments after our Epiphany celebration. And even though it's called the Feast of Epiphany, we didn't have anything to eat. Not even one little cookie. Seems like this would be a good time to have one of those yummy Lutheran potlucks. Instead, we just put everything away for another year. Pretty much the entire congregation stays after church and gets that job done. We're done in less than an hour because just about everybody pitches in. Many hands make light work.

I have a link to a hilarious juggler. Michael Davis at the Ford Theater is one of those people I should know about. But I don't. He's really funny though. Loved the way he introduced his act -- juggling water. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6mbW-jMtrY&feature=player_detailpage

Here he is in one of his Johnny Carson routines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq0YjR11bx8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2w-ZbCp6uM -- again. He's too funny.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Booteei-k0 is another link to Michael Davis.

Everybody needs a good laugh. At least once a day. Did you know that you change your body's chemistry when you laugh out loud? It's good for you.



January 3, 2012 pt. 2

Ever wonder why God invented machetes? Watch this video of a cottonmouth eating a rattlesnake and you might come close. The snakes are big too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ2l4owxC7s

January 3, 2012

If I live to be as old as Methuselah, I will not be able to make all the "must have" recipes that I pull out of newspapers and magazines. So, since it's the New Year and I only allow myself one new resolution for the year, I am going to get out all the recipes that I thought we couldn't live without and decide which ones are all that glorious.

It's my "Do Something Terminal" technique. And it's foolproof. Here's how it works: for 15 min tackle any job that needs doing. But for only 15 minutes. By doing something terminal, I mean I will either throw the recipe away, or clip it to my grocery list for next week or toss it.

By limiting myself to 15 minutes, I assure myself that I won't get tired of the task. I mean, we can do just about anything for 15 minutes, can't we?

I do that with my desk too. And house cleaning which is my most unfavorite chore.

I know it sounds like I have the attention span of a snail, but I have to concentrate on what works for me as I go through life. Besides, I suspect that if I were to tackle that entire stack of recipes, it would probably take me months and months and months. And not having that much free time in any given morning is why this task got so big in the first place. I could change my own rule, though, and say that if I really want the recipe that bad but don't want to cook the dish next week, I'll copy it onto a 3x5 card and put the card in a little file box that's just for that purpose. Might only get a couple of recipes off the pile in 15 minutes, but the pile of recipeswill  get shorter anyway.

In the United States, this is the day that the U.S. Congress gets sworn in, including 90 freshman reps. It will be the 113th Congress for the United States. Might just watch. There's been fireworks threatened to unseat the Speaker of the House. Not sure if a "palace coup" will work. It was in 1923 that was the last time this happened. Only 17 people have to withhold votes for the Speaker to be unseated. The Republican party is not as conservative as it used to be, and that's what the fuss is all about. I think. Then there's all that pork in the disaster aid package that has been delayed. A vote on a $9 billion part of the aid package will come to the floor on Friday. It's sure to get a yes vote. The other $59 billion in aid will come later. It includes a lot of stuff like $336 million for Amtrak, a couple of million to do something to a room at the Smithsonian. Supposedly all these items have to do with disasters of some sort of other, even the fisheries in Alaska.

I think maybe -- and I could probably get outshouted on this -- but just maybe the House ought to just do one bill for one item. They ought to figure out exactly how much disaster aid the Hurricane Sandy victims need and that's the extent of the bill. Nah. That would never work. That would mean the congressionals would have to work all day, every work day. They might even have to come in at 9 am and work til 4 pm. Instead, bills seem to have all become giant bills that covers everything from soup to nuts.

But don't get me started on politics. What's going on in Washington, D.C. right now is pretty mean-spirited. Same could be said of state capitols. I think it has more to do with human dynamics. Seems like whenever you get more than 3 or 4 or 5 people together, the game of King of the Mountain becomes the name of the game.

Which reminds me of an excellent book of human dynamics -- for those who might be interested. It's called Games People Play. Not sure if it's even in print at this point. A used book store, or maybe even Amazon, might have copies.

A gameis defined as a set of transactions. In other words, if I do this, what can I expect you to do? Then, when you do that, what's my next step going to be?

This is a fascinating book and it's one that i read in my undergrad years when I was taking a psychology course called Transactional Analysis. The book called Games People Play is a lot more readable and enjoyable that a psychology course textbook though. There's also a book called Games Alcoholics Play. And Games Grandparents Play (I think).

If I had the extra  time, I would like to write a book called Games Abusive Bullies Play. Since I did my masters research in domestic violence, I think such a book would be helpful for both victims and abusers to get some good tools for their emotional toolbox.

January 1, 2013

We stayed up all the way 'til 10 last night. Figured it was 2013 somewhere in the world so we went to bed.

Fortunately we didn't get any snow but it's cold. Enough of this winter already. Now I'm starting my countdown to Groundhog's Day, that great little harbinger of spring.

Why the big fuss about Groundhog's Day? When I was a little girl -- oh, about 4th grade -- we used to get coloring book pages to celebrate Groundhogs Day. All of us thought it was just wonderful.

It has been many years since I was nine years old, but it dawned on me when I got into high school that the Groundhog was not all that great to color. After all, he's just a rat. And I had to use up my brown color crayons too fast. Blacks too. Crayola boxes didn't have various shades of brown in those little boxes. So after I got the groundhogs colored in, there wasn't a whole lot of brown left over for tree trunks and such.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of a 4th grader.

Maybe that's why I trekked on down to the library in the middle of Paducah and got a job putting books away.

On another subject, Quint and I are enthusiastic fans of Tom Sellek so we are enjoying his new series, Blue Bloods. He plays a police commissioner in New York City and his oldest son is a homicide detective. His younger son went to Harvard and Tom thought for sure he was going to get out of the "family business." But not so. He came back home and signed up for the police academy. Oh, and Tom is a widower. Not sure how his late wife Mary died. He also lives with his father who is a retired police commissioner. And Tom lost a son in the line of duty. He was trying to infiltrate a gang of some sort. Tom's daughter is a District Attorney and her daughter wants to be a police officer too. Just like her beloved grandpa.

Good story. And it's one of the reasons we really enjoy our membership in Netflix.

December 31, 2012

This is a funny piece of humor from my dear friend Shirley who's out there in Arizona until she returns with the snow birds in the spring.
Subject: Protestant humor

Ole is the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church and Pastor Sven is the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road. 
>   
One day they are seen pounding a sign into the ground, which said:  
>  
>DA END ISS NEAR!  TURN YERSELF AROUNT NOW  BAFOR IT ISS TOO LATE! 
>
  As a car speeds past them, the driver leans out his window and yells, "Leave people
>
>  alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!"  
>   
From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.  
>   
Shakin' his head, Rev. Ole says, "Dat's da terd one dis mornin'." 
>   >
Pastor Sven agrees, then asks, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say, 'Bridge Out?'" 
>
>
Thank you, Shirley, I'm still laughing.


Happy New Year to all! Won't be writing 2012 much longer. If you're still writing checks, you might want to open your checkbook and "pre-date" a half dozen or so checks to 2013. Several years ago, I forgot to use the new year's date and the check was returned as "stale dated." I had to go to the bank and change the date and initial my change.

We are supposed to be having a winter storm watch again here in middle earth/Illinois. It's 35.8 F now. Looking at the radar on the weather page, it looks pretty bad. There's a huge blue snowdrift, then a band of pink weather -- icy stuff -- then green green. It's actually supposed to be raining here now but I guess we're in the 40% that's okay since there's only a 60% chance of precip.

Not sure if the roads are okay to get to the church where I'm supposed to spend the afternoon. When I left on Friday, I watched a pick-em-up-truck lose control on the ice road about a mile ahead of me. Oh brother. He wrestled with his truck on the icy skating rink that was the road and finally got straightened out again so I didn't have to do anything like change steering or speed or anything. Just watch him and pray for him to recover before I got down there. He did and all was well. Thanks to no one but God who continues to watch over me.

Quint did a really good job of getting the snow off the driveway and sidewalks. He now uses the leaf blower and it works like a charm. And is much faster too.

Prayers for your safety no matter where in this world you may be.

And keep your celebrations this evening down to a slow roar and don't get inebriated. We're not going anywhere. Much prefer to do our celebrating safely at home.

God bless!

Before I leave this year behind me in the dust, I have to tell you about an experience I had with a couple of people in the last few months with some women who tried to bully me. Yes, even when you get up in years, as I am, and because I try to always be a nice, friendly person, there are still people who perceive that as an attitude of weakness and try to get at some imagined underbelly of vulnerability.

It happened in, of all places, a church meeting. Big surprise, right?

Not for me. I've been around church groups for years and years and years and I know that the devil works the hardest when he crosses the threshold of a church group. So if you think that bullying is something that just happens on a playground and involves just children, think again. Bullying happens whenever there is a person who tries to even up a power game with someone who is perceived as vulnerable.

It happens when an abusive person tries to make a victim out of someone else. The problem is, in order to be a victim, you have to give the abuser permission to pick on you. 

There's nothing she can do to me that God and I can't handle.

What I will do is continue to pray for these individuals. What I know as a mental health counselor is that bullies are insecure people who are trying to gain some balance of power within their psyche. Their imbalance of power has its roots in childhood when they were overpowered by someone who made them a victim. 

An act of love and compassion levels the playing field. We are, after all, children of the same heavenly Father. As such, each of us is a child of God and we share a common communion when we interact with one another and with each and every other child of God.

But when we mistreat another child of God with whom we are supposed to have communion, then we have mistreated the very God who shares an inheritance with us because He adopted us into His family.

God levels the playing field. Bullies don't.

December 25, 2012

Quint and I are hoping that each and every one of you are having a beautiful Christmas.

And in keeping with the season of joy -- bringing joy to others, here's a link to the Christmas Drop Operation of the US Air Force as they deliver a lot of joy to the folks in remote villages in Micronesia. Good job, Santas! http://airman.dodlive.mil/2012/12/christmas-drop/ I had no idea that this was being done in places like Micronesia. I just love the little hut with a "room addition" on it. And the little girl wearing flip flops that would fit someone three times her size. but just try to take them away from her.

Another link is a message about life. Love life. Enjoy life. Share life with those you love. This is a "public service message" that was designed and developed by the man who's playing the dad in the "commercial." It brings a tear to my eye to watch it because life is so precious and something not to squandered by foolishly not wearing a seat belt. http://www.youtube.com/embed/h-8PBx7isoM

If you've ever had any doubts that animals jump around just to have fun, this video will dispel that rumor: http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/b4_EdJ-XkUA?rel=0 These little guys look like they have springs in their feet, don't they?

And so at Christmas, all around the world, we think of joy and life. Those gifts were given to each of us by someone who loves us dearly. His greatest gift is the gift of salvation.

Don't squander a minute of your life without Jesus Christ and the love of His Heavenly Father in your heart.

We enjoyed an ongoing Christmas tradition at church this morning. All the members who are present join each other in the altar area and sing Whose Child Is This? We are given the words to the song. I mean, who remembers all three verses? The only person not up there is our faithful organist, Joan Eirhart. We all manage to get ourselves shoe-horned into the altar area and are standing very close together and sing our little hearts out. It's a wonderfully close feeling to be there with our fellow Christian friends.

I cooked a ham for Quint's Christmas dinner. He made me promise when we got married that I'd never put a dead bird on his plate. It's an old childhood memory of pouring boiling hot water onto a hen I think it was. The smell was gaggy, he says. So there's a lot of other things to eat if he doesn't like fowl. And I treat myself to turkey and dressing, or duck, or some other favorite chicken dinner whenever we go out to eat. Works out just fine. But the ham today was a hickory smoked ham from Kentucky that was out of this world.

There will be plenty left over for ham and eggs, and of course there will be plenty for our New Years feast which, also a southern tradition, is to have Black Eyed Peas on New Years. The legend is that if you start out the year with a humble meal, your new year will go well for you. I actually believe that all our gifts are from God's gracious providence, but I cook the peas anyway. And it's always good to be humble too.

God bless you all,
Quint and Jane

December 24, 2012

With all the fun I was having yesterday skipping my way through videos, I neglected to put a link to the original Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simione Chorus. So if you're a Little Drummer fan enjoy. But first, here's the toned down Mannheim Steamroller's version of the drummer boy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsrgFaRQ6h0.

And back to the Harry Simeone Chorus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfk5nOnDQuI Enjoy to your little heart's content. It's as beautiful as it ever was.

If you enjoy Neil Diamond, as we do, here's his rendition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-EvztpO17A

This is a link to the recording from the Johnny Cash Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yYHN9pVohc


December 23, 2012

Today was Lessons and Carols at church this morning. It's a special service that we've enjoyed every year. Christmas Story is read from the Bible and we head all our favorite Christmas Hymns sung by some very talented people in our congregation -- even sing some carols ourselves.

I have a beautiful song and one of my favorite Christmas carols sung by a 7 year old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhcZ6b2FSsk She is awesome!

Another beautiful song by a 7 year old -- Rhema Marvanne -- singing Hallelujah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-fgJbrbFIg 

Mary, Did You Know?
from Big Apple Futon reminds us of who Jesus is and why He came to earth in the first place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiaZYZor6vI

He Came is a little more than a minute and a half that tells the Christmas story in words and music from Thrve Media. Beautifully done! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u65m__-LLfs&NR=1&feature=endscreen

This isn't our church, but I just love to watch 2 and 3-year olds presenting the Christmas Pageant. One little boy keeps breaking loose and going off script to run over to his daddy -- no matter how many times he's brought back to the fold. And Mary takes off with the Baby Jesus a couple of times. It's absolutely precious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npCP9jCKOVk Brings a little humor to the day, don't you think?

Have you ever been in a food court in a shopping mall and had a "flash mob" start singing? Neither have I but just watch this! The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. Wouldn't that be a treat beyond your wildest dreams? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE I'll bet my last ten dollars that this is not an amateur choir.

This has nothing to do with Christmas but the Cumberland Oratio surrounded a soldier on Father's Day and sang America. He was just walking through the mall, but what a wonderful tribute to a special army guy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jJyq69TWug

And from Antwerp, we can see how they do flash mobs in Belgium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQLCZOG202k

Another flash mob dancing up a storm in Singapore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6-fHQZU9vk

Coming back to Christmas, here's Kenny Rogers and Wynona Judd singing Mary, Did You Know? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xywbWxF4pZM

A snare drum ensemble presents Little Drummer Boy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sKmHiGOv70 It's totally awesome!





December 22, 2012

With a sense of humor, I watch the annual Christmas Goat in the little town of Gavle, Sweden. Every year since 1966, the Swedes in the little town of Galve have built this really humongous goat. Even put a fence around it to discourage the favorite activity of people in the area -- that of burning the goat down. It's been an ongoing tradition to see if anyone can burn the goat down. Some fear that if the Christmas goat isn't burned down, then all the Christmas presents will go to Finland. This year we have a video of the goat burning down

Watch this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryF6_89BYJE You'll probably have to do a cut and paste of this link to get the link to open. The goat is very, very big!
There - now doesn't that sound like Merry Christmas to you? Merry Christmas to all our Scandinavian friends this fine bright sunny day here in Middle Illinois.

Hint: Maybe you could build a bigger fence. Think that might work? Probably not. The pyromaniac would just bring a taller ladder. I do think the person who shot the goat with a flaming arrow was a bit inventive.


Oh, this is so funny! At least I think so. Thanks Mark for sending:

It was Saturday morning as Jake, an avid hunter, woke up raring to go bag the first
deer of the season.

He walks down to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and to his surprise he finds
his wife, Alice, sitting there, fully dressed in camouflage.

Jake asks her, "What are you up to?"

Alice smiles, "I'm going hunting with you!"

Jake, though he had many reservations about this, reluctantly decides to take her
along.

Three hours later they arrive at a game preserve just outside of San Marcos, Texas.

Jake sets his lovely wife safely up in the tree stand and tells her, "If you see a
deer, take careful aim on it and I'll come running back as soon as I hear the shot."

Jake walks away with a smile on his face knowing that Alice couldn't bag an elephant
- much less a deer.

Not 10 minutes pass when he is startled as he hears an array of gunshots.

Quickly, Jake starts running back. As Jake gets closer to her stand, he hears Alice
screaming, get the #$%^ away from my deer!"

Confused and frightened, Jake races faster towards his screaming wife.

And again he hears her yell, "Get the #$%^ away from my deer!" \ followed by another
volley of gunfire!

Now within sight of where he had left his wife, Jake is
surprised to see a Texas game warden with his hands high in the air. The game
warden, obviously distraught, yelled, "Okay, lady! You can have your #$%^ deer, just
let me get my saddle off it!" 


Oh, man, what a trooper! Bob Welsh. Great videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxjZB5S_g7s&feature=youtu.be

All police officers and troopers have stories to tell, and Trooper Bob is no exception. So heartwarming. The world is a better place because people like Trooper Bob are in it.


And apparently, watching news bloopers are everybody's favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KThBCn_xJOY&NR=1&feature=endscreen
Some are incredibly hilarious!


In a tug of war between a cat and a snake, which one do you think would win? http://world.plidd.com/battle-between-cat-and-snake/ -- This cat looks a lot like daughter Teri and her husband Rick's Maine Coon -- Rocky Lee. Rockly Lee is the most ferocious cat ever to draw breath. When Rick and Teri go out for a walk and leave Rocky at home, he somehow gets out of the house and follows them down the street. They know he's behind them and when they turn to look, he darts behind a little tree -- sideways -- with much of him sticking out on either side of the tree. Then when they turn to continue their walk, he stealthily sneaks back into his walk. It's so funny to watch Rocky. I could swear that he's the cat in the above video.



 

December 19, 2012

It always seems like Christmas gets here especially fast when there are only three Advent services. Today was the last one. This time next week, Christmas 2012 will be just a memory. We put our tree up this year. Didn't last year or the year before. We just didn't have the energy in the aftermath of chemo for both of us followed by radiation for me. We're well on the mend now and in remission from all that stuff. We thank God every day for the miracle of modern oncology and so glad that we have an oncology center here in town. I met a lot of people who drove 70 to 90 miles just to come for radiation every day. The "session" only lasted about 15 minutes so it was quite a sacrifice for them. We thanked God that the oncology center was only 3 minutes from our door.

I found this really exciting video this evening. It's a guy going down a mountain on I have no idea what. It looks like it could be a little skateboard type of car that fits on a rail of some sort. It would be one thrill of a ride to actually be on it, but it's still awesome going with the rider from his helmet camera: http://uvideo100.com/coaster.html Prepare to be amazed!

I found this hilarious Snowman on a sidewalk scaring people as they walk by: http://uvideo100.com/snowman.html Kindly note that people remembered who God is and who Jesus is. The reactions of the passersby is really funny.



December 18, 2012

People take risks unnecessarily. Then they expect to be rescued. Here's a good example of a helicopter pilot making a rescue on top of a rock pillar. http://uvideo100.com/rescue.html

There are so many things that could have gone wrong with that rescue. Side winds. Thermal updrafts that were hampering the pilot's efforts to set the helicopter down, etc. etc. etc.

Do you think hikers have a right to expect someone else to put his/her life at risk to make these kinds of rescues? Bravo to the pilot but I hope the Search and Rescue Department of the Utah State Troopers charged a gadzillion dollars to the hikers who went up there to play on a rock top that day.

Did you ever wonder how those trains get through heavy snowfall in the northern climes? Well, here's a train clearing the tracks of that white stuff: http://uvideo100.com/train.html Amazing! Absolutely amazing. The plow is taller than the train.

Okay, when it's really really windy out there on the highways, slow down. Take a look at this truck trying to drive through some high winds and look at the trees on the side of the road. They don't look like they're blowing all that much, do they? I know when it's a little breezy on our trips, Quint and I try to guess what the wind speed is. Not that we know for sure, but it increases our mindfulness. Those big rigs are like driving a billboard, wouldn't you say? http://uvideo100.com/wind.html I was wondering what the second truck was going to do since it looked like he might try to pass the first truck. But prudence won out on that one.

What do you think one tiny little drop of snake venom could do to the blood in your body? Here's the answer if it's a Russell's Viper: http://uvideo100.com/5.html Good grief! But you can see the medical implications for people whose blood won't clot and they just bleed and bleed until they run out of blood!



December 17, 2012

This is an unbelievable video! It's supposed to be the largest calving ever of an iceberg. The actual event lasted 75 minutes. http://uvideo100.com/iceberg.html

Reminds me of how very tiny we are as human beings and how absolutely magnamimous God is. You do believe that He can move mountains, don't you?

And you can tell I'm kind of getting used to the idea that winter is coming and I'm going to have to learn to drive on ice and snow all over again: http://uvideo100.com/winter.html

But my favorite is this little guy who is 6 years old and autistic, playing the piano like no other! http://uvideo100.com/autistic.html

December 16, 2012

It's no secret that I brake for children - especially children who overcome all sorts of odds to do something wonderful in their lives.

You are just not going to believe what children who live in a slum in Paraguay do with some of the trash that they find. They make musical instruments! And play them very well too. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXynrsrTKbI

They call themselves the fillharmonic.

On another note, prayers continue for the children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, and the families and friends who loved them dearly.

It's warmed up here in Central Illinois for a few days at least. It's now 53 degrees. A bit unseasonal for mid-December but I'm glad. After the longest day of the year, which is December 21, the countdown for me begins for Groundhogs Day, which is the first day of Spring in my heart. I'm told that this is the end of the Mayan calendar and there's this big debate about it possibly being the end of the world. But for crying out loud, it's the end of the Mayan calendar. They didn't make any more calendars because they were getting killed off by the Conquistadors and the Aztecs. So far, the Aztecs haven't figured out how to make a Mayan long count calendar yet. But then, Julius Caesar also made a calendar didn't he? So what's all the bother about?

If the world ends on December 21, I guess I won't have to worry about Groundhog's Day because I'll be in heaven with Jesus. No need for a calendar then, because it will be living in eternity.



 

December 15, 2012

Oh geez, you may wonder where in the world I've been for the past couple of weeks.

And I have to tell you that I don't remember having readers clock on from Kazakhstan or Croatia of Macau and a long time from Austria. Welcome, welcome!

In the first place, I found a really funny -- absolutely hilarious -- video to a link to the world's worst Christmas decorations. http://reaganiterepublicanresistance.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-very-worst-of-bad-christmas.html

I think my favorite is Santa being naughty. If you are reading this and wondering what Santa could possibly be doing that's naughty, you'll just have to look to find out. It's too funny for words.
At least much
I volunteered to help with a program that's dedicated to mildly handicapped people this morning. It was a Happy Birthday Jesus party. Some of the people were more handicapped than others. But everybody had a good time and ate a lot of cookies, drank a lot of punch and watched a nativity skit put on by some high functioning members of the "school." It was wonderful. And I'm glad to see these kinds of programs being successfully offered up through church congregations.

Quint is busy being my favorite Christmas elf making the world's best chocolate fudge for our friends and loved ones. And I have figured out a recipe for a hot sauce that is to die for. I like a lot of heat on my food and finally made one up that I dearly love. It's first ingredient is vinegar, followed by tomato ketsup. The rest is in the spices. Good stuff. At least, much to my liking.

And juxtoposed to that story of the horrible massacre in Connecticut was another story about 22 children stabbed in China. Funny, though, no one is trying to outlaw knives in China, where we're trying to outlaw guns again in the U.S. How about this? It's just plain sinful to kill innocents no matter what your weapon is.

 

November 28, 2012

Hard to believe that 2012 is rapidly drawing to a close. And then there goes that first month of the year when I really have to consciously write 2013.

One year I pre-dated the year on about 15 checks just to be sure. The bank we had actually returned checks that had the previous year on it as "stale dated." We don't write that many checks anymore but it's still handy to have the year predated on the handwritten checks just to be sure.

I have been fiddling around with my favorite barbecue sauce recipe for some time. I've tried to get as close as I can to the Starnes recipe in Paducah, Kentucky. Starnes is one of those places from high school that I remember fondly. And every trip to Paducah to visit friends includes a trip to Starnes for an open pit treat.

The recipe is different from all that stuff you get at the supermarket. In the first place, the main ingredient is vinegar; the second ingredient is tomator ketsup. So I started with 1 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup ketsup. The rest is spices. We like a smoky sauce, so God invented liquid smoke for us. And we also like a lot of heat so in goes the cayenne. Add a pinch or two of onion powder and garlic powder and it's good to go.

It is delicious. And it will tide me over until we get back to Paducah. The recipe above fits nicely in the Starnes 10 oz. container.

November 25, 2012

Wow! Here's a link to an awesome site that shows an animation of the phases of the moon through the year 2013. http://www.universetoday.com/98588/take-5-minutes-to-see-what-the-moon-will-do-during-2013/

I have never seen the moon wobbling on its axis before. In fact, I didn't even know that happened.

OK folks. Here's the recipe for what is supposed to be a Twinkie filling. I'm sure it has some changes to the real deal. Just can't imagine the twinkie filling not being proprietary information. But I will say that it tastes a lot like the real thing.

I made it last night and made sandwich cookies with it. Then I stored the unused part in a glass canning jar. I expected it to be rock solid when we got home from church today but it wasn't. In fact, it was still very spreadable without having to warm up to room temperature at all. And easy? Oh my goodness. You really can't miss with this recipe. This would be a good recipe to frost a cake with and then put coconut on it. Yummy.

Ingredients:

2 tsp very hot water
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
7 oz. jar of mashmallow cream
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the salt in with the hot water. Stir really well until the salt is dissolved. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In a mixer bowl, mix marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well until it's fluffly. Then add the salt mixture and mix it in really good.

That's it.


Awwww - people, people, people! About those PIN numbers. Want to know what the most popular PIN number is -- out of about 3.4 million? Ready for this: 1234. Also in the top ten is 4321. Now that takes a lot of imagination. No wonder people have their goodies stolen from credit cards to debit cards. Wouldn't you think that if there was anything of value in your checking account -- anything at all -- that you could do better than 1234? You probably went all the way through school and couldn't come up with a better PIN number than that, could you? Couldn't you use your grandmother's birthday or something just as easy to remember that a thief or hacker would not be likely to guess?

But then, 1111 is also popular. More popular than 2222, actually.

November 24, 2012

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. We spent turkey day with a kind of adopted family from church and had a wonderful day. The food was delicious and the conversations that went way into the afternoon were also great.

But did you ever wonder what cats might be thankful for? Here's a link from Furball Productions that has some furry clues: http://cheezburger.com/44694273 -- Great music too. Pachelbel's Canon in D.

November 15, 2012

Quint dug up all the canna lily bulbs this afternoon. He dusted them off and stored them in a plastic bag in the basement. They'll get a nice winter's nap. Then I went next door to tell the new neighbor that she needs to dig up the canna lily bulbs that I gave her last summer. They didn't bloom that robustly this summer but I'm just thankful that the drought didn't get them. I did start out the summer watering the outdoor flowers but then decided that the city water supply was more important than flowers. I mean, if our house caught on fire, I sure wouldn't want the fire department to run out of water.

It was in the high 20s today. That's a sure frost. My roses haven't given up though.

I made another batch of three dozen cookies this evening. These were gingerbread cookies. So far, I have 6 dozen cookies of the 70 dozen that I will need for church festivities. I'm hopeful that some of the other women at church will pitch in and help out. We're sending out 24 "care packages" to our college students, military folks from the congregation and shut-ins. That's a lot of cookies.

Tomorrow I'm going to make a chocolate cake cookie recipe and put peanut butter chips in it. That ought to be just dandy. I really like the convenience of using cake mixes to make cookies out of. If you don't have the recipe for using a cake mix and want it, drop me an email at jane@janereinheimer.com and be sure to put "cake cookie recipe" in the subject line so I'll be sure to open your email.

I got a note from Irma in Tulsa. She says she uses the cake mixes all the time too. Heck, I can get an 18-1/2 ounce cake mix at Save-A-Lot or Aldi for about a buck. Hard to beat the convenience too.

I even made a "passable" macaroon with a white cake mix and about 1/4 tsp. of orange extract. Then I kneaded in some coconut before I put the cookies in the oven.

I like to roll the drop cookies up into a little ball. Kind of like making a dough ball. Then the cookies are all nice and round. Cookies with jagged edges don't taste as good, you know.

I have been working on getting a lot of clutter out of my office at home. One of these days I want to delve into another Bible Study I've heard rummaging around in my head. It will be about the Book of Daniel. He's one of my favorite Old Testament guys.

Well, Quint just called me. He's on his way from a Lutheran Brotherhood meeting at church and I promised I'd pour the milk. We drink our milk every night. The tryptophan helps us get to sleep. It's the same chemical that's in turkey, in case you wondered why eating a big Thanksgiving dinner makes you sleepy. Then we go to bed and open up the windows. Good to let fresh air in even if it's chilly. But then, we turn the electric blanket on and let it warm up the bed before we dive in for a good night's sleep. Fortunately Quint and I both enjoy a cool bedroom. It's an important compatibility area. Couples need to think about those little preferences when they're courting.

And that's about it for today.

November 13, 2012

We had a hard freeze this morning. Finally got my rose bush that was blooming its little heart out until yesterday. The roses that are closer to the house and more protected will last a bit longer until it drops down into the low 20s.

Well, after all, it's November. What can I expect here in central Illinois.

Quint is at church this evening. Since he went off the church council last year, he joins the Nominating Committee to finalize a slate of candidates for the election later this month.

When I look at the new countries that have added readers since I last updated the list, I notice that a lot of the countries are my darling niece Karen's favorite places to junket in Europe. So, Karen, Aunt Jane sends you lots of love and I hope you are enjoying yourself and that you and Alex are going to be able to get back to Germany around the Christmas season. Wish Uncle Quint and I could join you, but we're not going anywhere for a while.

We have been going back to the gym though. We used to walk a sassy three miles before cancer bogged us down a couple of year ago. So we started back a couple of months ago. Forget the three miles. That was far too ambitious. I worked my way up to a half mile. No kidding. It took me about three weeks before I could go a full mile on the treadmill. I can go a mile and a half now and still gaining on my old record. Then there were those strength training machines. Our doctor suggested only four that he said would be good for us. The rest would be too strenuous for now.

Exercise is good for us. And we feel so much better coming out of the gym. We're spoiled. Our gym has individual TV sets on each treadmill. How awesome is that? And since Quint and I both are newsies, we get a full dose of the news while we walk.

November 2, 2012

Hurricanes certainly have a way of messing things up! Take a look at this link and see just how the damage went: http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c3#/video/weather/2012/10/30/sandy-raw-vo-national-guard-aerials.national-guard

Some of you may remember Paul Harvey. I really miss his radio voice, and his astute observations about life and what's going on around us. Here's a link to one example that my good friend Shirley sent me: http://stg.do/9LDc

I found a new vocalist today while I was on my way to looking something else up. His name is Wintley Phipps. Here's a link to him singing It Is Well With My Soul: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1JmN6dsHu0&feature=related

October 31, 2012

Do crashing waves interest you? Here's a short video of Lake Michigan crashing against a sea wall. Wow! http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-868280?hpt=hp_bn1

And today marks the 7th year after my mother's death. Rest in peace, Mom! Miss you.

 

October 25, 2012

Beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner: http://www.starspangledbannerchallenge.com/

Riverdance has always held a fascination for me. First of all, I can't even dream that I'd ever be able to dance like this. And secondly, Michael Flatley has the fastest feet in the world. He grew up on the south side of Chicago, I'm told. Then when he got really good at Irish dancing, he went to Dublin and taught Irish dancing there. Watch this stunning and absolutely amazine finale of Riverdance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8EXDtoGfrs&feature=related

Changing the subject, I have enjoyed my rest for quite some time now.

I mentioned that Quint and I have headed back to the gym for daily workouts. Today I walked 1-1/2 miles. Quint walked 1 mile, then went off to do some strength training. Mind you, I'm only walkng at the rate of 2.1 miles an hour but I'll get back up to the three miles a day that we used to walk when we hoofed our way around a lake in the middle of our condominium complex up north. The gym is fine. I work out on that machine where I have to pull something down, then send it back up. It kind of feels like traction when it stretches me to go back up.

Then I do some rowing. And some other machine where I have to stretch way back. It feels wonderful on my spine.

One other machine is good for the thigh muscles. It has helped tremendously because one of the medications I take really makes my thigh muscles ache to high heaven. I think it's spelled Anasterzole. It inhibits the manufacture of estrogen in my body. And since the breast cancer cells were Estrogen positive, this keeps me from running the risk of the breast cancer returning. But oh the aching muscles. It's getting better with this machine workout and the walking.

Quint's lymphocitic leukemia also continues in remission. He did have surgery this summer, though, for a skin cancer eruption on his face. Hopefully he's done with that.

At least that's our prayer.

And speaking of praying, if you and your partner do not join hands every day and go to the Lord in prayer for all the things you want to talk to Jesus about, it's time you started. For Quint and me, it's a perfect way to start our day. We each have a list of things to pray about and we pray out loud. It's absolutely profound and let me tell you, if you have any doubts whatsoever that God and His Son Jesus answers prayer, you are in for one big surprise. They are here with us, in the same room, listening intently as we pray for all the people we care about, and situations that sometimes nag us -- like interpersonal relationships at work where haughty, insecure people make ridiculous demands on me. Quint and I pray that God will keep a hedge of protection around me and it works. Believe me, it works.

And one of my all-time favorites is Susan Boyle singing I Had a Dream from Les Miserables.

Here's the Celtic Women singing You Raise Me Up. That's sent out to each and every one of you if you think you don't matter anymore. If you think you're going through trials and tribulations all by yourself. Just remember, you're never alone. He is always nearby, wanting you to reach out to touch Him. This life is not for the chicken-hearted, but you need big help too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md5LL6PwXwY&feature=related

Blessings to all of you. -- Jane

October 11, 2012

There was a spectacular coronal mass ejection (CME) on October 4-5 that I believe I posted a link to. Now we have a sky photo looking down on earth at the northern lights "floating" across Canadian nightscape. Also noted are the little points of light in the United States that are cities peppered here and there. And Lake Michigan is clearly visible, with Chicago hogging lots of photons on its shore. Check it out: http://129.164.179.22/apod/ap121011.html

Thank you, cousin Mark, for the link to an incredible flight over America. Get a chance to look at some of our nation's monuments up close and person from a small plane: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=KcuDdPo0WZk

October 2, 2012

This is an absolutely amazing video of a young women who rescued an 84 year old lady who ended up in the ocean: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=785_1349086723 And the rescue happened with split second timing before the car dropped out of sight!

October 1, 2012

May I be the first person to welcome you to Autumn, if you haven't been welcomed before. And to all our readers down under, that would be a welcome to Spring!

I found this amazing video showing some very talented Spanish flyers harvesting water and flying over a forest fire to dump their big loads of water: http://vimeo.com/48642618

 

September 30, 2012

Here’s the link to the fantastic baseball play where the hit knocked the pitcher’s glove off but he caught the glove and then the ball: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/blue-jays-pitcher-chad-jenkins-catches-ball-glove-002614760--mlb.html

September 17, 2012

Unbelievable photo of a coronal mass ejection (CME) on the sun: http://129.164.179.22/apod/ap120917.html Totally awesome -- and listen to this: our cute little sun is going to be particularly busy for the next couple of years!

September 21, 2012

Quint and I celebrated 34 years of marriage yesterday. After I got home from the Effingham/Shelby Zone Fall Rally for church. We had some 75 people in attendance. Percentage-wise it could have been a lot more, but I am thankful for the ladies and pastors who came to be spiritually uplifted by the fantastic devotions by Pastor Gillet, Pastor Becker and a powerpoint presentation by Pastor Janssen, who was in the hospital. We all need times when we can isolate ourselves fromt he world and go into a retreat of spiritual calm and rejuvenate our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. It was a great day that was hosted by the Ladies Aids from St.. John and Grace Lutheran in Dieterich. Officiants at Holy Communion were Pastors Gillet and Fortkamp.

Changing the subject, here is a link to a NASA video that shows some giant eruptions, or explosions, on our sun: http://news.discovery.com/space/solar-dynamic-observatory-nasa-explosion-sun-120905.html

Amazing! I am always awestruck by the raw power of the sun. I don't know how long it takes for the plasmastic outbursts to reach earth but I'll just bet it's sooner than later. They are so ferocious.

September 11, 2012

Never forget what happened on 9/11! Prayers lifted for all who lost their loved ones, and for those who died so suddenly.

Here's a time lapse photograph of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2012/09/11/Stunning-Video-Time-Lapse-Rebirth-of-World-Trade-Center

Feel like taking a little respite going along I-70 in Utah through the San Rafael Swell? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMHnGzqTIVY&feature=related Oh my, my, my! Beautiful scenery. At one point, we are reminded that this is the longest stretch of interstate that exists without services.

And the Virgin River Gorge along I-15 in Arizona is totally awesome! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=mCU9iCRxI0g

If you want some vista visuals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxTUz1j-weE&feature=related I really don't feel comfortable driving in the mountains -- unlike Quint who grew up in Colorado. "Aw, shucks, it's nothing," he'd say. Then when he gets down to sea level, talks about how jittery it was for him. That's when I felt like clobbering him. But didn't.

This is purported to be the most dangerous jeep trail in Telluride, Colorado: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYssaJ7zfkM&feature=related I'll tell you one thing: I wouldn't want to walk down that trail. In the first place, it's not even paved. Just a lot of shifting rocks. And they call that a road? I don't think so.

This one comes under the heading of "There's not enough money in the world ..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uShVGxXmSFU&feature=related

Goodness gracious -- people do this for fun and excitement. I mean, it's not like they have to deliver medicine or something like the Iditarod to commemorate the run from Anchorage to Nome to re-enact the run made decades ago when children were dying in Nome of typhoid fever and the mushers took off from Anchorage with medicine for them. Oh no. These guys are just having an adventure. Question is, are they testing the torment on themselves or their jeepies? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uShVGxXmSFU&feature=related

And just in case you were thinking they never roll these things over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0LU1Ho4dsY&feature=related

September 10, 2012

Here's a video of a four year old in Thailand playing the violin. Actually the violinist has to be around 9 or 10 now but this was the first expo of this talent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3bW9P5Z6sI&feature=related Well done!

Beautiful video of "Somewhere My Love" -- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=FKhVnAgt0EY

This guy goes into his bank to get an increase in his debt limit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li0no7O9zmE

September 9, 2012

Here's a link to the most watched video of the 9/11 tragedy: http://www.frugalsites.net/911/attack/

Funny music video of Wal-Mart shoppers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YvxNgdFeWqM

Ever heard of a magician of Piff the Magic Dragon? Well, watch this funny man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk5xfK0ovrk&feature=related

Here's another one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuhgTgqIuos&feature=related

Piff with bunnies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bCZv2ozQD8&feature=related


September 6, 2012

We got really good news from the surgeon. He took one look at Quint's face and said the cause was using a razor, not an electric one. So off we went to Kohls to buy an electric razor. And sure enough, the inflammation disappeared and what felt like a tumor under the skin was not a malignant growth at all. It was just a bump from the inflammation. Whew!

We've been getting much needed rain in Middle Illinois. Now the grass is growing like crazy and my roses have started blooming again. Beautiful little creatures that they are.

I'm going to share some links to some videos that I find much to my liking. Hope you enjoy them too.

Here are the top ten videos of babies -- hint: laughter is so contagious  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWHpcKXt-qQ 

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/twins.html twins dancing to Dad’s guitar

We love to watch little children - and the younger the better.

August 30, 2012

It looks like another skin cancer is on Quint's face. Fortunately, we have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow morning that was supposed to be the final post-op checkup. That will most likely change with this new event. Stay tuned and please keep Quint in your prayers.

I did want to share this link with all of you who love to watch children. These are twins who take advantage of the fact that Mom had just emptied out the refrigerator. It looks like she had given it a pretty good cleaning out but first the twins decided to dance in it a little bit: http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/twins.html

August 6, 2012

We had some rain. Big deal -- nearly an inch. It was enough to revive the greenery left in the grass in the front yard. Enough for Quint to mow this morning. And the Red Bud that I planted a few years ago as a memorial to my mom when she died is holding up rather nicely. I have been letting the water trickle ever so slightly out of the hose for about a half hour. It was enough to get the little tree through the worst of the 100+ temperatures. Problem is, there's this lush carpet of green grass in a circle underneath the Red Bud. The rest of the yard is just in little patches of green here and there. I think Quint just wanted it all to be the same height.

Hope all of you are surviving the drought. We've heard from the newsies that if the drought continues, there's a strong possibility that we'll lose about 20% of our trees. Don't even want to contemplate that.

We pray that all of you are weathering the drought okay. It's a disaster, for sure, and our hearts go out to you.

Remember that you are responsible to God first. What if you woke up today and the only thing in your life was what you thanked God for yesterday?

Great weather map comes from friends John and Sherre in Wichita: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/zoa/mwmap3.php?map=usa --  All you have to do is put your cursor over one of the dots or crosses on the map and you'll get the weather for that location.

http://www.speedtrap.org/ to find location of speed traps across the United States

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Ephesians 4:1-16

Curious that Paul says at the beginning of this chapter the same thing he said at the beginning of the third chapter, namely, that he was a prisoner for Christ.

When I looked at Matthew Henry's commentary for some clue of this apparently redundancy, I was greeted with this insight: ...There is work to be done, even when we are suffering. Amidst all their trials they gave thanks to the Father of our Lord Jesus, whose special grace fitted them to partake of the inheritance provided for the saints.

To bring about this change, those were made willing subjects of Christ, who were slaves of Satan.

All who are designed for heaven hereafter, are prepared for heaven now.

Those who have the inheritance of sons, have the education of sons, and the disposition of sons.

By faith in Christ they enjoyed this redemption, as the purchase of his atoning blood, whereby forgiveness of sins, and all other spiritual blessings were bestowed. Surely then we shall deem it a favour to be delivered from Satan's kingdom and brought into that of Christ, knowing that all trials will soon end, and that every believer will be found among those who come out of great tribulation.
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=59&source=2&seq=i.58.1.2


So Paul is sitting in prison in chains and yet he still wants to continue the education of Christians.

He wants Christians to come to a deeper understanding of just what Christ did.

He wants Christians to live a life worthy of the calling they received. As he says in verses 2-3: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. NIV

Paul then says that we are called to one hope -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.(verses 5-6) NIV

It is this hope that all Christians share. And Paul reminds us that this hope is sealed through one baptism for this baptism brings us into God's family as his children.

Matthew Henry says that in baptism we put on Christ; therein we profess to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, so we should die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness of life.

The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consists not in outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change. He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them.

Therefore our care must be to do the duties that belong to us, and all other cares we must cast upon God. And our special care must be for heaven; the things of this life are but trifles...

http://sitebuilder.myregisteredsite.com/sitebuilder/f_edit_blog_post.jsp?return_url=f_edit_page.html&entry_id=1206988282315

Paul then quotes from Psalm 68:18 at this point: When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.

There are a couple of powerful points to be made with Paul's quotation from the Psalm at this point.

First, the reference to Christ's ascending into heaven. A cross reference to John 3:13 says: No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

It's true that both Enoch and Elijah ascended -- that is, they did not know human death -- but the distinction is that they did not descend to earth again. Only Jesus Christ has done that.

Paul says in verse 10: He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.

It is Jesus Christ. Paul rests his faith on Jesus Christ. Christ comes to fulfill the old Levitical law, not to enforce it.

I love the way Matthew Henry puts it: ...We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God.

To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word to complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. ...We are in him, by the power of the Spirit. We have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in oru hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law.

Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrectioon is the quickening of our souls.

The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled.

...Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.

Wow!

And oh, for sure, we can't just sit and do nothing. Oh contraire'. Christ has jobs for us to do. He wants some of us to be preachers. Some of us ought to be teachers. Some of us are to be evangelists. And some are apostles and prophets.

And why does Christ have all these jobs for us to do? Easy answer: so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (verse 12b-13) NIV

When we get to that point in our faith -- that point of unity where we all become mature Christians, not faith babies tossed about on the waves of new heresies and new apostasies designed by crafty schemers, then we grow into the body of Christ where Christ is the head and the rest of us are the ligaments and muscles and bones. We're all held together by Christ. One Christ.


Discussion:

The heresies that were flying around the towns and countryside where Paul's missionary journeys had taken him to grow and develop churches became a bigger and bigger threat to the infant churches. This was a serious threat to the new believers and it was something Paul battled from his prison cell.

In this discussion, think about the ways that the new Gnostics are trying to frustrate Christianity today.

What do you know about the New Age/Spiritistic Theology and Philosophy?

What do you know about Scientology?

Both of these "new age" religions make promises about enlightenment and God that is no more founded on the Bible than the Gnosticism that was running rampant through Macedonia during Paul's time. And yes, make no mistake about it, these new age theologies attempt to confound Christianity.

New Age Gnostics: An excellent Biblical response to the New Age Movement can be found here:

http://www.carm.org/nam/naresponseto.htm

I have two verses that I find comforting in that they say all I need to say about the new age theology:

1.) Ephesians 2:18 -- For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

2.) John 14:6-7-- Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

I urge you to take six minutes of your time and watch this video of Oprah as she launches the New Earth Webcast -- and be mindful of her words: ...there are many paths to what you call God... and ...there couldn't possibly be just one way...

   http://youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA


We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you would send your angels to guard and protect your church here on earth from all false teachings. We are under attack and need your help. I pray that your Holy Spirit would wrap around the heart of each and every Christian so that we can all rest on you for our faith and find strength in your gospel message of salvation. Amen.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Ephesians 3:14-21

Paul prays for the Ephesians. He tells them he prays for them. He tells them that he kneels before God the Father and prays for the entire family of God -- all of God's children.

Paul prays power and love from God to the Ephesians.

Well, my Concordia Study Bible offers this footnote on page 1807: God's key gifts are "power" (vv. 16, 18, 20) and "love" (vv. 19-20).

In verse 16, Paul writes: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And in verses 17b-18: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...

And in verses 20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

And in verse 19, we see the extent of the love that Paul prays for the Ephesians: ...to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Matthew Henry offers this commentary: Blessings were made known to believers, by the Lord's showing to them the mystery of his sovereign will, and the method of redemption and salvation.

But these must have been forever hidden from us, if God had not made them known by his written word, preached gospel, and Spirit of truth.

Christ united the two differing parties, God and man, in his own person, and satisfied for that wrong which caused the separation. He wrought, by his Spirit, those graces of faith and love, whereby we are made one with God, and among ourselves.

...What a gracious promise that is, which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask him! The sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit seal believers as the children of God, and heirs of heaven. These are the first-fruits of holy happiness.

And who among us would not want to be a child of God?

And if we were assured that we could God talking to us, who among us would not want to hear God. We have his Word. We can hear God talking to us down through the ages.

The same message that God breathed onto the paper through the fingers that held the pens of the early prophets, and disciples, and apostles. That's the same God today as he was back then. His Word is printed in our Bibles. The Bible is at our fingertips. Who among us would not want to read the Word of God?

And who among us would not want to be heirs of heaven? That is God's promise to us -- through Christ's death on the cross for the forgiveness of all our sins, we are heirs to the Kingdom of God.

That's grace. Good works won't get you into the Kingdom of God. Entrance is restricted to those who are blessed with God's grace. And who among us would want to disqualify ourselves by not claiming this gift of grace?

It's not about good works. It's about grace.

Sometimes I think we get confused about what we think good works are. Good works like good deeds that we do for other people. Or good works like not being over-indulgent. Good works like not losing our temper. Good works like sending care packages to college students and military people and other loved ones who are far away from home. Good works like driving our neighbor to the doctor. Good works like mowing our neighbor's yard.

Good works don't buy forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is not for sale. But it did come with a price. The heavy price of Jesus Christ's death on the cross. Forgiveness is yours and mine for the asking.

So all we need to do is ask for forgiveness -- there, hold out your hand. Unlock your heart. Pray for the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and take up residence within you.

Discussion:

Think of all the things you do in a week's time that would be considered good works.

It isn't that God doesn't want us to do kind things, for this is what we do in the name of love.

Remember the verse that says, "Good trees bear good fruit?" We do good works because we are loved and want to show our love for others. So we do things that we hope will please others. That's what good works are all about.

And God smiles when he sees us doing that, I think.

So we ought not to stop doing good deeds. Rather, we need to be careful in what we think those good works are going to get us. After all, good works are about good will. That's what we get from good works. We get the good will of the person or organization that we do them for.

Not even close to what God's grace will gift us with.

We pray: Oh Lord, my heavenly father, I thank you for the gift of forgiveness of sins and salvation and heaven that comes to me through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

I pray that the Christian faith will continue to spread far and wide around this globe. I pray that Christians everywhere will be rejuvenated in their faith practices and seek you out.

I pray that you will bless our work and everything that we do for others. Thank you for all the abilities that you give each one of us so that we can serve you better. Amen.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ephesians 3:1-13

In these first couple of verses, Paul is reminding the Ephesians that he is in Rome under arrest because of his preaching the gospel message. Paul says, in verse 2, surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

Paul had been in Ephesus for an extended period so it is likely that most of the Ephesians that he was writing this letter had either met him or had heard of him. However, since this letter was written as a letter to be read to a number of the churches, Paul takes no chances and reviews his spiritual biography briefly.

And again, starting at verse 4, we have a message that I believe was directly addressed to the Gnostics in the area. Paul wants these people to know that he, Paul, had been given the solutions to great spiritual mysteries.

Here's what Paul says in verses 4-6: In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members in the promise in Christ Jesus.

It is Paul who knows the solution to the mystery. It is Paul who had been given this spiritual insight by none other than the Holy Spirit. It is Paul who wants the Gnostics to drop away from their heretical leanings. For it is Paul who speaks with the authority to the Holy Spirit.

And it is Paul who is also telling the Jews and Gentiles alike that they are both brought together as children of God. Together the Israelites share a common heirship with the Gentiles through the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for all.

This is the gospel message that Paul reiterates time and time again -- to the Colossians, to the Corinthians, to the Philippians, to the Romans and now to the Ephesians. It is this gospel that Paul says he is a servant to in verse 7. And this message became Paul's insight as a gift from God. It was God's grace that brought this insight to Paul.

What is amazing about all this, Paul says in verses 8-9 is: Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

This is the exact same message that Paul had said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:9 -- For I am ... unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

When Luke was writing the Book of Acts, he remembers it this way in Acts 9:15 -- But the Lord said to [Paul], "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel."

So what exactly did Paul mean by "the unsearchable riches of Christ?"

Matthew Henry has a commentary about that: The apostle Paul knew the mysteries of the kingdom of God as well as ever any man; yet he confesses himself at a loss; and despairing to find the bottom, he humbly sits down at the brink, and adores the depth.

Those who know most in this imperfect state, feel their own weakness most.

There is not only depth in the Divine counsels, but riches; abundance of that which is precious and valuable. The Divine counsels are complete; they have not only depth and height, but breadth and length
(Ephesians 3:18) and that passing knowledge.

There is that vast distance and disproportion between God and man, between the Creator and the creature, which for ever shuts us from knowledge of his wages.

What man shall teach God how to govern the world?

The apostle adores the sovereignty of the Divine counsels. All things in heaven and earth, especially those which relate to our salvation, that belong to our peace, are all of him by way of creation, through him by way of providence, that they may be to him in their end.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=53&source=2&seq=i.52.11.4

Paul tells the Ephesians that God's intent was to bring the knowledge of his mysteries to them through the church.

These mysteries had been hidden up until this point for it is through Jesus Christ that this was all accomplished according to God's own purpose.

And now the time had come -- the cosmic clock had struck the minute hand of destiny and it was time for God's mysteries to unfold. They were revealed through Jesus Christ, and brought to the Ephesians by Paul himself, as unworthy as he claimed to be.

None of us is unworthy. Paul says in verse 12: In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

This reminds me of the time when my sister and I had gone to a carnival. We must have been in high school at the time. Anyway, Cookie wanted to go into this tent where a fortune teller was, so she dragged me in there.

The fortune teller started out by telling us that someone had placed a curse on us and we needed to buy some of her special candles which she would light during the next seven days while she murmured these special incantations.

Well, eyes got about as big as silver dollars. She wanted $80 for all this. The money was not so much for the candles as her prayer intercessions.

I told her that the God I prayed to didn't charge anything for my prayers and I wasn't required to light candles. He could see my prayers just fine without them. We got out of there in a hurry, I can tell you that!

But my point is that we can approach God anytime we want to. In fact, he wants to hear from us all the time. He'll stop what he's doing to hear us.


Discussion:

Have there been times in your life when you felt as if you were looking into the brink? Were those awesome moments that made you think of deep inquiries into your soul? Or were they despairing moments when you thought for a tiny fleeting moment that your problems were too small and inconsequential to matter to a God who fills up the universe?

If your response is the latter, than I would encourage you to write verse 8 on a slip of paper and carry it in your pocket. Take it out when you feel small and unimportant for you know that God has something that he wants you to do. In fact, in Ephesians 2:10, he says that he prepared a project just for you to do.

(Verse 8, again: Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace as given to me...)

God's grace comes to us. My experience has been that it comes by way of a job that he hands me to do. I task that wakes me up in the morning. If I try to put it off, it becomes a nagging thought -- a kind of "just do it" nag.

And so I think I might just as well go on and get out of bed. Not going to get much sleep anyway with nagging thoughts jumping around in my head. Then I realize that I have much to be thankful for -- just being able to get things done.

We pray: Oh Lord, I thank you that you let me get near you and that you hear my prayers. I thank you for all your blessings you have given to me -- for health and happiness and the wonder of intellect.

I especially pray for all the victims of the floodings in the vast center of this country. Please be with these people who have lost so much. I pray that you will give them strength as they rebuild their lives and homes and churches. Amen.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ephesians 2:11-22

Can you just imagine how difficult it was for Paul to unite the Jews with the Gentiles? What were some of the most challenging aspects, do you suppose?

Well, first of all, the Jews believed -- in fact, they had been told by none other than God himself -- that they were the chosen people.

Down through the generations, the Jewish people honored the traditions that their forefathers got from Moses. These were actually more than traditions. Instead, they were big Rules! An entire book of the Bible -- Leviticus -- is devoted to those rules that were wrapped around the how-tos of worship and living. The tribe of Levi was given the responsibility of keeping these rules holy and seeing to it that the Jewish people were strictly governed by, guess what, Levitical rules.

The rules were a big deal. Nothing to tamper with!

Now here comes Paul who's telling them that Jesus Christ came to fulfill this law. And Paul wants them to think about these old time-honored rules that he calls "ordinances."

I suspect the Gentiles may have been wondering what all the fuss was about. For instance, if it's true that Jesus fulfilled these old laws for everybody, then why wouldn't the Jews lighten up just a bit? After all, the Gentiles truly believed that Jesus was the Son of God. He had come to earth in human flesh, died as a gift of forgiveness from his father for all mankind. 

The Gentiles may have been most willing to worship together with the Jews. In all likelihood, it was the Jews who wanted to keep their faith and worship practices segregated from the Gentiles.

And why would that be? Well, for starters, the Gentiles weren't circumcised. And Paul was telling them they didn't have to be. This business about circumcision had to do with the Levitical law.  This circumcision was a way of being obedient to God -- following his rules, the Jews believed, brought them into a covenant relationship with God.

Paul tells the Gentiles this in verses 12-13: Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

The Gentiles were no longer separated from God because Jesus Christ brought a new covenant for all people. He did this by dying for all mankind on the cross.

It is belief in Christ and his forgiveness of sins that brings this new covenant relationship to Gentiles and Jews alike. The old covenant relationship with God that was signified by circumcision was replaced by the blood of Christ.

"I don't know," the Jewish people probably thought. "This sounds like disobedience to us."

And they'd heard stories that were passed down through the generations of their people about what God did when the Israelites were disobedient.

So that's the mind set of the Jewish people in Ephesus, Colosse, Phrygia, and the rest of Macedonia and Galatia and the middle east as well.

The Jews balked at Paul's message. The Gentiles didn't. And there's the reason why Paul said, "Fine. I'll go preach to the Gentiles, then."

Except that Paul is always trying to get these groups of believers merged together. He really wants one cohesive group of believing Christians. Oh sure, the apostle Peter was working on the Jewish believers as well.

And don't forget from our studies that there is now another group of people settling in the middle east. Those are the Scythians. They'd gotten themselves booted out of Persia. (That's Iran in this day and age.)

As if Paul didn't have his hands full, the Scythians come into this area with the notion that people went to paradise if they had enough experiences that brought them knowledge about the great mysteries. These experiences allowed them to develop insights that would solve the mysteries and when that happened, the gates of paradise opened for them. These were the heretics running around the middle east. They were having trouble giving up the idea of Gnosticism.

But did Paul waver? No.

Was Paul frustrated? I'd just bet that at times he was.

But you see, Paul had the Holy Spirit with him. And because Paul spoke with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, he could out-shout all these home-grown philosophers. He could out-maneuver them intellectually. His great passion for preaching to all of these people sprang from the very depths of his soul.

No. Paul was not about to give up. He was fully equipped for the call of Jesus Christ who, with the Holy Spirit, shot holes in Satan's arguments every time!

Listen to what Paul says about these Levitical laws in verse 14: For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.

Uh, those commandments and regulations were those rules that were written down in Leviticus.

But there's an important distinction to be made here, for Paul wasn't advocating that the Jews should stop obeying the Levitical laws, but rather, the separation between the Jewish believers and the Gentiles was removed. The Jews couldn't use the laws of old as a barrier -- and a hostile one at that -- to keep the Gentiles from receiving the blessings of salvation.

I have a cross reference here to Matthew 5:17 where Jesus makes this point clear: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

And here is what Paul said in his letter to the Romans in the 3rd chapter, verse 31 -- Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By now means! On the contrary we uphold the law.

So you see, it wasn't that Paul was trying to do away with the law, but rather, that he wanted both the Jews and the Gentiles to understand that through Jesus' death for the sins of mankind, the covenant relationship with God had a new definition -- namely, the gospel message.

As Paul closes this chapter, he tells the Gentiles that they are no longer foreigners or aliens to this citizenship of heaven. They are members of God's household (verse 19) and Jesus himself is the cornerstone of this new spiritual home.

We see the culmination of this thought in verse 22 -- And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Discussion: This is a wonderfully welcoming message from Paul to the Gentiles. Can you restate the whole premise of Paul's position of the Levitical law, in your own words?

In review, how is Jesus' death and resurrection important in how the laws of old were defined? How do you see these two important positions, side by side?

We pray: I thank you, Lord, for the gift your grace. I pray that all who come to study your Word will be enlightened, strengthened and renewed through these messages.

I pray for all pastors, ministers, teachers, counselors and all who work in your service. I pray especially today for all the missionaries around the world who put themselves in harm's way to bring your message to unbelievers. I pray that you will bless their work and send the power of your Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of those who have doubts about the truth of the gospel message. Amen.

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2:31 pm          Comments

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ephesians 2:1-10 (continued on 3/26)

Paul reminds the Ephesians of their former lives when their transgressions and sins kept them separated from God, and in verse 2, he carries a warning to beware of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

He speaks of none other than Satan himself.

I have a cross reference to Revelation 9:11 that reads: They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

[Note: Abaddon means destruction, and Apollyon means destroyer. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%206:12;%20Rev%209:11;%20%20John%2012:31%20&version=47)

And from Matthew Henry's commentary, we read: Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. When we look upon a corpse, it gives an awful feeling.

A never-dying spirit is now fled, and has left nothing but the ruins of a man.

...A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan.

Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men.

...God's eternal love or good-will toward his creatures, is the fountain from whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy.

And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus.

Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul.

A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul; he lives a life of holiness, being born of God: he lives, being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace.

Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.

All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power. It was his purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of his will, and his Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness.

Paul explains to the Ephesians, in verses 4-7: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

And then Paul writes in these words that have been indelibly written on the hearts of Sunday School children the world over, in verses 8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.

So just in case the Ephesians were getting the idea -- and we don't know if they were or not -- but Paul wanted them to be very clear about this: There is no way in heaven or in earth that any man can "earn" his way into heaven. Good works will just not get your there. It's as simple as that. No man can make that claim, and certainly nobody can brag about it as if they could get to salvation by their good deeds.

Just not going to happen.

But, if you call on the name of Jesus Christ -- then you can come to the Father. You must believe that our Heavenly Father paved the way for you on streets of gold and he did this by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.

Forgiveness is yours for the asking. Heirship in the kingdom of God is yours for the claiming. It's just that simple -- and it's just that complicated.

It's all about grace. God's grace to mankind because he loves us all that much.

But look at what verse 10 says: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Make no mistake about it, God likes it when we are kind to others and do our good deeds -- this pleases God very much. I refer you back to Colossians 1:10 which we read only a short time ago: ...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

I believe that God sends people to us, to cross our paths. Perhaps they come to us with needs that we can supply. Perhaps they cross our paths by bringing us opportunities to minister to them.

Pay special attention to the second part of verse 10: ...God prepared in advance for us to do.

There are no coincidences where God is concerned. There are no accidents when it comes to opportunities to do good deeds, to forgive others, to be kind, to love other people just like we love ourselves. These scenarios in our lives are put there by God. We run through the scenes of our lives too quickly sometimes. As if we were just reading our lines.

But keep in mind that there are only three persons in the audience watching us: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is watching to see what we do about the scenario he set up for us. The plot -- the characters -- did we show our Heavenly Father that we exercised our free will by making the choice that would be pleasing to Him?

And God the Son is watching us. If we continue to behave in ways that are less than kind, or if we continue to live our lives in sin, then Jesus Christ is thinking about his anguish on the cross where he died for our sins, perhaps. If we continue to willingly live our lives filled with sin, then haven't we turned our back on Christ and everything he did for our salvation?

And then there's the Holy Spirit watching us. Oh my goodness. Here is the person in the Trinity who knows what kind of corrective life experience we need in order to become disciplined children of God.

Free will -- it's about making choices that are pleasing to God.

Because God is watching us from his vantage point in the audience of our lives.

(I will continue Chapter 2 in the morning.)

8:41 pm          Comments

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ephesians 1:1-23

This letter to the Ephesians was most likely written while Paul was still in prison in Rome, most likely around 60 A.D. (Concordia Study Bible note on page 1802). Some scholars place Paul's writing at 62 A.D.

Paul had long experiences with the church at Ephesus.

His first visit to the Ephesians is recorded in Acts 18:19-21: And  he came to Ephesus ... entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, "I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem; but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. KJV

Paul returned to Ephesus on his second missionary journey, as we read in 1 Corinthians 16:9 -- But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

Keep in mind that at this time in Ephesus, there were many who worshipped Artemis. The Ephesians made all these little silver statues of Artemis which were a hot seller in the marketplaces. Artemis was supposedly the daughter of Leto and Zeus. She was the twin of Apollo. She became the goddess of fertility and childbirth even though she was supposedly a virgin goddess. Making statues of her was a very successful industry in Ephesus so when Paul was talking about an "effectual" being opened up for him, he was talking about going after all these idolaters.

It was a mission field fertile for planting the gospel message of Jesus Christ. I mean if the Ephesians had pinned their hopes on a little silver statue, just imagine what they would do when Paul brought them to great news of salvation that was real.

Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years on this journey. The statue makers were not happy to have him there because he was interfering with their source of income, and bankruptcy was not what they had in mind!

Paul was successful in converting many believers to Jesus Christ and establishing churches. While he was in Ephesus during these three years, the gospel spread throughout Asia (Acts 19:26).

On Paul's last journey to Jerusalem, he landed at Miletus, an old city dating back to Hittite days. Miletus is a near neighbor of Ephesus and Smyrna. We have this account in Acts 20:17-19: And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said to them, "Yeknow, from the first day that I came to Asia, after what manner I have been with yo at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the laying in wait of the Jews. KJV

So you see, from these accounts, we can surmise that Paul had many established relationships with the church in Ephesus as well as the surrounding areas in Asia.

He begins this letter to the Ephesians with what I would call a "general opening" to all the saints in Ephesus. And at verse 3, he begins what we call a doxology -- that is a recitation of worship and honor, and a recounting of the blessings that the faithful enjoy.

My Concordia Study Bible lists these as blessings through the Father (verse 3), blessings coming from the Son (verse 4-13a), and then blessings we have from the Holy Spirit (verses 13b-14). (page 1804): Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. KJV

I compare verses 7-10 above to the New International Version: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the time will have reached its fulfillment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. NIV

These early verses of this chapter strike an inquiry in my mind about sinners being chosen to live with God from the beginning of time. But man falls into sin and this sin separates mankind from God. Through Christ we become pardoned sinners and are restored to the privileges that sin had taken away from us. Through his Son, Jesus Christ, our loving Heavenly Father restores us through grace.

And remember that the Gnostics who were seizing every opportunity to disrupt this flow of grace from God in the early churches were hard at work through the minions of evil in Ephesus.

So Paul against reminds the Ephesians that God has revealed his great mysteries to believers and this wisdom and understanding comes to them according to God's good pleasure (verse 9). This is a direct message to the Gnostics to stop stirring up trouble -- the church at Ephesus was secured for Christ.

Matthew Henry has this to say about the closing verses of this doxology: Blessings were made known to believers, by the Lord's showing to them the mystery of his sovereign will, and the method of redemption and salvation.

But these must have been forever hidden from us, if God had not made then known by his written word, preached gospel, and Spirit of truth.

Christ united the two differing parties, God and man, in his own person, and satisfied that wrong which caused the separation. He wrought, by his Spirit, those graces of faith and love, whereby we are made one with God, and among ourselves. He dispenses all his blessings, according to his good pleasure.

His Divine teaching led whom he pleased to see the glory of these truths, which others were left to blaspheme.

What a gracious promise that is, which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask him! The sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit seal believers as the children of God, and heirs of heaven.

These are the first-fruits of holy happiness. For this we were made, and for this we were redeemed; this is the great design of God in all that he has done for us; let all be ascribed unto the praise of his glory.

I have a cross reference to Deuteronomy 7:6 -- For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

And another reference to James 2:5 -- Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him

In Matthew Henry's commentary, we are warned to ... deal decidedly with our lusts that war against our souls; let us not show them any mercy, but mortify, and crucify, and utterly destroy them. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/mapsgreeceparts/p/Miletus.htm

Henry also adds this comment -- God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer. Even the best Christians need to be prayed for. and while we hear of the welfare of Christian friends, we should pray for them. Even true believers greatly want heavenly wisdom.

... Here is signified that it is Christ the Savior, who supplies all the necessities of those who trust in him, and gives them all blessings in the richest abundance.

And by being partakers of Christ himself, we come to be filled with the fullness of grace and glory in him. How then do those forget themselves who seek for righteousness out of him! This teaches us to come to Christ.
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=57&source=2&seq=i.56.1.4

Again, in verse 17, Paul says that he continues to ask the God of our Lord Jesus to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. Paul tells the Ephesians that he wants the eyes of their understanding to be enlightened so that they will know the hope that they have been called to and the riches of the glory of their inheritance.

Notice how many times Paul uses words like knowledge and understanding and wisdom and revelation through this letter and the other prison epistles as well. This is a direct confrontation to the beliefs of gnosticism that held salvation comes through knowledge that comes from life experiences, not salvation through grace from God.

Paul wants the believers to know that salvation is theirs through Christ, whom God raised from the dead and set him at his right hand in heaven, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. (verses 20-21)

God the Father has put all things beneath the feet of his son Jesus Christ, and God the Father gave Christ to be the head over all things to the church. (verse 22)

To this end, Matthew Henry offers this: Nothing is pressed more earnestly in the Scriptures than to walk as becomes those called to Christ's kingdom and glory.

By lowliness, understand humility, which is opposed to pride.

By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul, which makes men unwilling to provoke, and not easily to be provoked or offended.

We find much in ourselves for which we can hardly forgive ourselves; therefore we must not be surprised if we find in others that which we think it hard to forgive.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=57&source=2&seq=i.56.4.1

Discussion:

The church, in its full glory, is a collection of believers. Our Heavenly Father puts Jesus Christ over the church to be its head and to bring the church to its fulfillment in Christ. And because the church is of holy origin, we ought to make sure that we keep it holy. To that end, Paul addresses the sovreignty of Jesus Christ in the church in the prison epistles. Paul outlines rules of how we are to behave in churches, how we are to treat the church, and what we are to supply to the church. He lays down the rules for the church. 

In a letter we haven't studied yet, Paul reminds Timothy: ...if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5)

Paul refers to the church as the body of Christ. How if this reverence for Christ observed in your church?

What are some of the rules observed in your church?

How does your church help others through their hardships?

How does your church teach others to follow Christ?

We pray: Oh Lord, our Heavenly Father, I pray that others will recognize my faith in you by my walk through life.

I pray that you will give me the courage to approach others with information about the power and joy of your love.

I pray that you will bless the church of Faith Lutheran in Shumway so that we can minister to those around us in need, and welcome those who are hungry to know you.

I pray that you will bless the work of all pastors and ministers, teachers and counselors who bring the Word of God to unbelievers and believers alike. I pray that your Holy Spirit will flow through these ministers as they enrich the lives of others. Amen.

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10:07 am          Comments

Friday, March 21, 2008

THE APOSTLE PAUL'S LIST OF THINGS TO DO FOR HEAVENLY LIVING

Paul's encouragers for this "heavenly walk" include:


Colossians 3:1-10

-- set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (verse 1a);

-- set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (verse 2)

-- you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (verse 3)

-- put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (verse 5)

-- you must rid yourselves of all things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (verse 8)

-- do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (verses 9-10)


Ephesians 5 through 6:9

-- live a life of love, just as Christ loved us (verse 2)

-- there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people (verse 3)

-- there should be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving (verse 4)

-- no immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (verse 5)

-- let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them. (verses 6-7)

-- live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (verses 8-9)

-- find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. (verses 10-12)

-- Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (verse 15)

-- do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (verse 18)

-- Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (verses 19-20)

-- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (verse 21)

-- Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (verses 22-23)

-- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (verses 25-28)

-- Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (verse 6:1a)

-- Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (verse 4)

-- Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (verses 5-8)

-- Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (verse 9)


1 Timothy 2:8-15

-- I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (verse 8)

-- I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (verses 9-10)

-- A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (verses 11-12)


1 Timothy 6:1-2

-- All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. (verse 1)

-- Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them. (verse 2)


Titus 2:1-10

-- You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. (verse 1)

-- Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. (verse 2)

-- Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (verses 3-5)

-- Encourage the young men to the self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (verses 6-9)

-- Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please the, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching aobut God our Savior attractive. (verses 9-10)

Discussion:

The apostle Peter also compiled a list for living in Christ. (1 Peter 2:13 - 3:7)

In the references above to slavery, substitute the word "employee" since slavery has pretty much been outlawed in the world. And "employer" instead of the word "master."

Lots to discuss here, as Paul outlines the way we ought to live.

Keep in mind that Paul's pen was guided by the Holy Spirit, so this isn't really a list from just a man, but rather, someone who spoke with the full authority of God through the Holy Spirit.

For this reason, this list is not to be minimized as something that is 2,000 years old and out of date. It most certainly needs to be fresh in our hearts and used as a guide in our lives today.

We pray:  Oh Lord, I thank you again for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins and for the sins of all mankind. It just boggles my mind that you could love me that much.

I pray that you would guide me through my days so that I can live to please you and to serve you. I pray for strength and diligence as I go through my days here on earth.

I pray for all missionaries, pastors, teachers, counselors and other church workers who bring the gospel message to others, some overtly, while others in most subtle ways. I pray that their messages of truth and love will bear fruit in the hearts of those they minister to.

I pray for a Christian leader to be elected to our United States presidency. I pray that this person will be someone who can calm the unrest in this country and bring us to a more centered focus on Jesus Christ.

I thank you, Lord, for the gifts of your blessings to us and I pray that I will be given opportunities to share these gifts with others in building your kingdom here on earth.

Amen

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11:27 am          Comments

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Colossians 4:1-18

Just a reminder: if you do not have a Bible and would like to read along, go to this web site for a Bible online: http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/index.php?action=getVersionInfo&vid=47

Paul closes down this letter to the Colossians with these words of encouragement in verses 2-5: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

My goodness, Paul's message in these early verses dovetail so beautifully with the message of Christ at the Last Supper -- his new commandment that we love each other as he has loved us.

Paul says to make the most of every opportunity when we meet outsiders (unbelievers) and always be gracious to them and our conversation is to be "seasoned with salt" so that they know how to answer everyone. That, to me, would be the hard part of missionary work. What do you say to unbelievers who just will not be convinced that their salvation is a gift of grace when they have been raised and indoctrinated that they have to be good, do good deeds, live a life as sin-free as possible so that they can go to heaven.

All the suppositions come to the surface with questions like, "Well, then, if I don't have to earn my way to heaven, then can I just do any old thing I want to, because I'm going to be forgiven anyway?"

There are some who actually believe this. So Paul prays for opportunities to interject the gospel message into the hearts of these unbelievers and he asks for prayers from the Colossians as well so that these will not be lost opportunities.

The fact that he was able to discuss this gospel message in meaningful ways so as to bring unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ is a testament to how the Holy Spirit works through us to reach out to others and bring them to faith.

Remember the words I've quoted from a former minister: Remember the life you lead, you may be the only Bible someone will read. So even if you don't have the courage of an evangelist, you can still lead your life so that others will know you are a Christian just by the way you behave.

Paul was a great encourager of having an active prayer life. This is the power of the Christian's faith.

And if you can't think of anything you want to pray for, then pray for missionaries.

And if you don't think you deserve to ask God for anything, then pray a prayer of thanksgiving that you are so blessed that you have what you need. Pray for those people who have many needs.

But above all, pray. Get into regular conversations with God throughout the day. You will be amazed to learn that God does care and he does answer. Many times through the day, I whisper in my head, "I need help with this." And then I get this little lightning bolt of a thought that is just the right answer at just the right time.

Sometimes, if I keep my mouth shut and quiet down all those busy thoughts running around the inside of my head, I can relax and actually feel a conversation going on. It happens when I'm quiet and I listen. Funny how that works.

I have a cross reference to Mark 9:50, which also talks about salt: Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Salt not only is a preservative, but it also adds to food a delicious flavor enhancer. Salt makes food more palatable.

So when the Christian talks to an unbeliever about faith and the gospel message of Jesus Christ, I think Paul wants us to keep in mind that we need to be mindful of what we say and how we say it.

Metaphorically, too much salt could be a turn-off. Too little salt would leave the taste buds wanting. The Holy Spirit will help you find just the right amount for the perfect recipe of bringing someone to Christ.

Paul then tells the Colossians about the people who are surrounding him while he is in prison.

First off, there's Tychicus. We hear about Tychicus in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (6:21) -- Paul refers to Tychicus as a beloved brother and a faithful minister in the Lord.

Then there's Onesimus, the slave that Paul was returning to his master in Colosse. They are carrying this Letter to the Colossians with instructions from Paul that the letter is also to be read at the church in Laodicea, a town about eleven miles from Colosse.

Paul mentions Aristarchus as a fellow prisoner. My Concordia Study Bible has this to say about this fellow traveler with Paul (p. 1830) -- A Macedonian, who is mentioned three times in Acts: 1) He was with Paul during the Ephesian riot (Acts 19:29); 2) Both he and Tychicus were with Paul in Greece (Acts 20:4); and 3) He went with Paul on his trip to Rome (Acts 27:2).

Aristarchus was a Jew from Greece (Eerdmans' Handbook to the Bible, page 613).

Make a special note that Mark is also with Paul. Remember him? He's Barnabas' cousin. There had been a falling out between Mark and Paul when Mark had deserted Paul at Pamphylia (Acts 15:38). We learn from these verses in Colossians that this rift has been reconciled.

And then there's Jesus (called Justus). Paul says that these are the only Jews who are his fellow workers.

Epaphrus is mentioned in verse 12. He is a Colossian. Paul says that Epaphrus prays for the Colossians that they will be firm in their faith. Paul says he vouches for Epaphrus that he has been working hard for you and for those in the church at Laodicea and Hierpolis.

And Paul mentions his beloved friend Luke in verse 14. He stayed with Paul until the end. (Eerdman, page. 613)

Paul sends greetings from Demas also, even though Demas later defected. A cross reference to 2 Timothy 4:10 reads -- For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

Paul acknowledges a woman named Nympha and the church she has in her house. These early churches frequently met in peoples' homes since they had no constructed buildings in which to meet. The early Christians frequently relied on the invitation of hospitality of people who opened up their homes to receive worshipers.

A reference to Archippus says that he may have been Philemon's son (Eerdman, page 613). Paul wants the Colossians to tell Archippus in verse 17: See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.

Paul then closes the letter with the assurance that he has put his personal signature on it.

And so, dear friends in Christ, we close another one of Paul's letters. Rather than start another letter tomorrow, I would like to discuss the other instances of Paul's "lists" or "codes" that I mentioned in yesterday's study. There are four in total, including the one in Colossians 3:18-4:1.

The others are in Ephesians, 1 Timothy and Titus.

Discussion:

Draw this Letter to the Colossians into your hearts and discuss the many parallels to the commandment of Christ that we are to love one another.

What is the most powerful lesson you have gotten from this letter? Discuss these topics:
-- the supremacy of Christ?
-- the need to pray prayers of thanksgiving?
-- to pray for spiritual welfare of others around you?
-- can you recognize false teachers in this modern age?
-- rules for holy living?
-- rules for Christian households?

We pray: Oh Lord, I thank you that I am able to worship you out in the open, surrounded by fellow believers. We live in a society here in the United States where we take the freedom to worship so much for granted. I am so thankful that I can worship and that I don't have to hide in someone's house for fear of being seen. Thank you for keeping these freedoms alive in the United States.

I pray for the many readers around the world who do not enjoy such freedoms. I pray for so many people who worship you in fear of discovery. I pray for their safety and I pray that you would bless their study of your Word. Amen.

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12:24 pm          Comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Colossians 3:1-25

In Colossians, we see Paul's heritage as a Greek come to light. In this chapter, his writing takes on a Hellenistic quality as he weaves a call for a moral code together with a Christian demeanor. More about that when he begins his "code" in verse 18.

Paul starts off this chapter with the words "since, then, you have been raised with Christ..."

He didn't say "if you have been raised with Christ..."

If he had used the word "if" instead of "since," then there have been a condition that would make something else happen. Rather, Paul used the word "since" which carries the certainty of a heavenly union with Christ.

And in Unger's Bible Handbook (page 698), we are told that since we are risen with Christ, then our walk or manner of life is also to be heavenly.

Paul's encouragers for this "heavenly walk" include:

-- set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (verse 1a);

-- set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (verse 2)

-- you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (verse 3)

-- put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (verse 5)

-- you must rid yourselves of all things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (verse 8)

-- do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (verses 9-10)

And when you are able to do all these things, then you will be walking the "heavenly walk."

Take special note that in verse 10b, there is a reference to being renewed in knowledge. This is another reference for the Gnostics to realize that our self-knowledge brings us back to the truth that we are created in the image of our Creator.

Knowledge from earthly experiences will not bring us to salvation, but claiming the gift of grace through Jesus Christ will.

In verse 11, Paul makes the point again that as God's people, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free.

This is a series of contrasts and I want to tell you a little about who the Scythians were, since Paul compares them as opposites of barbarians.

The Scythians used to be nomads. They lived in old Persia -- what we'd call Iran today. They were known far and wide as great warriors. They were also super horsemen. Some say they were the first to tame the four-legged beasts into something useful like riding.

The Scythians ruled far and wide. Their dynasty went all the way from southern Persia through Syria and Judae and to the border of Egypt. Things were going along pretty good until the Medes ran them out of Persia. The Scythians then hightailed it on up to southern Russia, what we call Crimea.

Since the Medes thought that it was so easy to run them out of Persia, they'd go on up to Russia and take the newly conquested land away from the Scythians. Didn't work. The Scythians were onto the Medes' fighting tactics and bested them. Ran them off, right and proper. That would be the Persian king Darius I. And if you were looking up an article in the Persian News Gazette, that would be about 513 B.C.

Well, it must have been a long, long ride from Persia to Crimea because, along the way, some of the Scythians intermarried with the Greeks. Got a little refinement, they did. And that is why Paul contrasts the Scythians with barbarians. Their Greek wives probably smoothed out some of the warrior-encrusted edges of the fierce soldiers. Warriors they were. Barbarians, they were not.

http://history-world.org/scythians.htm

But it raises the point of how these Gnostics got to this corner of the world in the first place. Remember that the Gnostics originated from middle Asia where enlightenment and all that meditative pondering time was thought to be the superhighway to heaven.

So here comes Paul, going from one missionary journey to another, preaching that none of that stuff was going to get you to heaven. Paul was preaching the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

And Paul was preaching in the big middle of Scythians and Jews and Greeks. The Jews were trying as hard as they could to hold onto their old traditions and holy days and Paul is telling them to go ahead if they want but it's not going to get them to paradise.

The Greeks weren't going to get their with their "codes" either. Greeks like to make up what we call "to do lists" in this day and age. They had a formula for everything.

We're going to see in a few minutes that Paul uses the code method, starting at verse 18. But nowhere in Paul's writings does he make the claim that a codified style of living will get you to heaven. In fact, Paul very clearly comes back to the gospel message every chance he gets.

In verses 12-13, Paul makes it perfectly clear what we are supposed to be doing: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Okay, so it's pretty easy to be compassionate and kind. We just plain old like helping people who have been thrown down by catastrophes to get back on their feet. We send gifts and food and write checks. We just love to be compassionate and loving and kind -- to show we care.  

Humility might not be so easy. Especially when we're proud of our compassionate, kind, loving nature. Need to be careful with humility, just so we don't get to be proud of our humility.

And then comes the biggy. Forgiveness. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And what did the Lord forgive? Everything that we have ever done. Even our very being is sinful. He forgave that too.

So here's the potential stumbling block: not forgiving others. If our Lord forgave us because we are sinners, don't you think we can forgive others if they are rude to us, mean to us, not-wrapped-too tight-annoying to us?

Forgive as the Lord forgave you -- take out a big diamond bit chisel and carve that onto the granite of your unforgiving heart if that verse applies to you.

And what a great Bible Study Colossians is in this Holy Week just before Easter. Just think about how the Lord has forgiven you when you go to church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and the great joy of Easter Sunday when you hear the message of salvation anew.

And then Paul says, in verse 14: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

These verses remind me of our dear departed mother. The greatest gift she gave me was teaching me to forgive. Over the course of many years, she disinherited me, angrily had her attorney rewrite her will -- writing me out, of course. What I had done was not known to me on many of the occasions. On other occasions, the incidents seemed minor -- certainly not anything that would warrant disinheriting a child.

But so she did. And a letter would come that if I called, she'd hang up on me and if I wrote her, the letter would be forwarded back to me, and if I came to visit, she have the police escort me off her property. With her taking that position, there was no wiggle room left for me at all. Except I could pray. And pray I did, because I loved her and I wanted to have a relationship with my mother.

Then would come a letter, or a note, or an "event card" like Thanksgiving, or Easter, or Christmas or Mothers Day. And the card would be signed, "Love, Mom."

But my forgiveness was wrapped around my love for her. And I was glad that I was with her during her final days and weeks, and then her last hours. I wanted her to know that I loved her and that I had forgiven her. But love superseded all of that. I learned, through her, how God feels when he forgives us, because he says "What sin? Don't remember that sin. Whatever are you talking about?"

That's the way forgiveness is. I don't remember all the details of her not being happy with me. Forgiveness is like a big giant eraser that resets the machine of love again.

If you can jump over that big stumbling stone of a stubborn, unforgiving heart, then you will know the peace that Paul is talking about in verse 15. And you'll be able to sing songs of joy because your heart will be filled with gratitude to God.

So then comes the "code" I mentioned earlier. And there was a "code" earlier. But make no mistake about it, these codes were not stepping stones to salvation. Rather, I think this was a technique in the culture that Paul grew up in. He learned to be a list-maker from his early education. And if you've ever learned to make lists, you know what I'm talking about.

I can relate to that somewhat when I remember my training as a paralegal. And even to this day, I enjoy reading legal documents and case notes when I can get ahold of them. It's a part of training and thinking. It will probably always be with me, just as critical thinking became operative in that training.

Paul was a list-maker. No doubt, it was a technique he used to organize his thoughts. The Greeks called these lists a "code." These lists were meant to be encouragers, or persuasive notes on how to behave.

Paul offers this list:

Wives, submit to your husbands (verse 18);

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them (verse 19);

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (verse 20);

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged (verse 21);

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything (verse 22); and

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.

Discussion:

So if you knew that Christ was watching you -- whether from where he sits at the right hand of our Heavenly Father, or if he comes down here to the earth and walks through the shadows not quite visible but still around us, watching us -- would you act differently?

How so?

I wish I were clever enough to be able to say to you that I timed these Bible Studies so that we'd be walking through Colossians as we get ready for Easter, but I'm not that clever. But this Letter to the Colossians is rich with Paul's persuasions of how we are to walk a "heavenly walk" while we are here on earth.

How has it helped you as you prepare yourself during this final week of Lent and for the message of Easter this coming Sunday?

We pray: Oh Lord, our Heavenly Father, I pray that you would stay in my heart and keep me ever close to you. I know I drift off and don't think about you as much as I should, or pray to you as often as I should. I thank you, Lord, for bring me back to the fold of your embrace when I wander.

I thank you Oh Lord for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. As a mother, I just don't know how you could do that as a parent. But thank you. I pray that you will never regret saving me from my sins. I pray that you will help me when I need to be forgiving to others. Amen.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Colossians 2:1-23

Paul gets to his point right away in these very early verses. And his point is to restate as strongly as he can that salvation comes by grace from God through Christ. It is a heresy to believe that salvation can be had just by delving into mysteries and gaining knowledge (as the Gnostics were trying to get the Colossians to believe).

Paul takes an affirmative position and he speaks with the full authority given to him by the Holy Spirit.

He begins this chapter by telling the Colossians that he fully empathizes with them in the struggles that challenge them. There are heretics trying to infiltrate the fragile young churches. These heresies include such false beliefs as asceticism (practice of self-denial), Gnosticism (see notes from March 17), and worship of angels.

Paul is just not going to stand for this interference in the truth of the gospel message that he wants the believers to know is the real truth. Not like the Gnostics who believed that salvation was theirs through some kind of special knowledge they received when they figured out answers to mysteries. And then there was the ascetic variety of Gnostics who believed that the body was evil. It had to be dealt with harshly, punished.

It is this ascetic brand of Gnosticism that Paul is going after. Because, you see, if the body is wicked and evil, it doesn't matter if you break the law or not. Immoral behavior didn't have anything to do with breaking God's law. There were no consequences for misbehaviors since following the law didn't lead to anywhere. Not following the law went nowhere either. It was the human being that was evil, not what the person did -- so said the Gnostics.

So that's the background of this message to the Colossians. Heretics were trying to get a foothold.

Paul uses the pristine power of his logic. He also used the beauty of poetic metaphors that appealed to the highly literate Greek people. This letter to the Colossians is rich with the glory of the gospel message he brings from the Holy Spirit. Paul is in good form and he is more than up to the challenge to refute the heretics! He was not about to let them run fast and loose in the new churches.

Listen to Paul's choice of words in verses 2-4: My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.  For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

So you see, Paul goes right to the heart of the matter when he says that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge can be found in Jesus Christ. In and through Christ we will know the mystery of God.

As you read this letter to the Colossians, pay special attention to how often Paul uses words like knowledge, mystery, and understanding. These words are what the Gnostics put their belief in, not in the faith of Jesus Christ.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit said through Isaiah in 45:3 -- I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

and in 1 Corinthians 1:24, Paul wrote: ...but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

From Matthew Henry's commentary, we read: Paul had been bred up in Jewish learning; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we live. The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, if explained and faithfully applied, appears foolishness to those in the way to destruction.

The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and ambitious, alike see that the gospel opposes their favorite pursuits. But those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works.

God left a great part of the world to follow the dictates of man's boasted reason, and the event has shown that human wisdom is folly, and is unable to find or retain the knowledge of God as the Creator.

...The message of Christ, plainly delivered, ever has been a sure touchstone by which man may learn what road they are traveling.

Read more: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=54&source=2&seq=i.53.1.3

So Paul is telling the Colossians to continue to live in Christ, the same Christ they received as their Lord and Savior because it is this strength that will flow into their lives.

Paul especially wants them to be aware that they need to be careful not to let anyone take them captive with hollow and deceptive philosophies which depend on human tradition and worldly principles rather than on Christ (verse 8).

In verses 9-10, Paul gets to the very core of Gnostic teaching when he says: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

In a nutshell, here's how Paul refutes the Gnostics' arguments (Concordia Study Bible, page 1828):

"Paul declares that the Christian is complete in Christ, rather than begin deficient as the Gnostics claimed. This completeness includes the putting off of the sinful nature (v.11),

resurrection from spiritual death (vv. 12-13)

forgiveness (v. 13)

deliverance from legalistic requirements (v. 14),

and from evil spirit beings (v. 15).

In verses 16-18, Paul adds these cautions: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.

So then Paul argues why would anyone who belongs to Christ worry about submitting to all the earthly rules that are dictated by these other false teachings, like "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!

Paul says these are all destined to perish with us, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with the self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence  (verses 22-23).

I see an interesting footnote in my Concordia Study Bible on page 1829: A rather detailed analysis of the Colossian heresy:

1. It appeared to set forth an impressive system of religious philosophy.

2. It was, however, a system created by the false teachers themselves ("self imposed"), rather than being of divine origin.

3. The false teachers attempted to parade their humility.

4. This may have been done by a harsh asceticism that brutally misused the body.

Paul's analysis is that such practices are worthless because they totally fail to control sinful desires. The false teachers themselves had created the regulations of their heretical system. They were not from God.

As far as the worshiping angels is concerned, it is because the Gnostics put knowledge at its foundation of belief, not the gospel message of Jesus Christ. This knowledge sometimes included the Word of God, and also information that was given to them, they believed, by angels. And astrologers. And chemistry. They drew a spiritual significance on this information that led to their belief that justification could come by works of the law. This was a popular belief among the Judaizers who tried to work their "yeast" through the faith held by believers in the early churches.

Because of the belief that the spirit of a person was trying to get back to heaven, worship of angels and astrology was a common tenet of Gnosticism, since angels and the patterns of stars and planets were believed to hold keys to this spiritual journey. The Gnostic system happened to include an emphasis on the Old Covenant at the expense of Jesus Christ's life, death, and teachings. (http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/76/Angel-Worship.htm)

Discussion: Gnosticism philosophies had their source in the religions of Persia and India (Zoroastrianism and Hinduism) and that these ideas were brought into the West via Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia. These Eastern thoughts blended with Greek culture, producing a heady mixture that profoundly influenced the Jews of the time and Christians centuries later. However, the ultimate source of this "falsely called knowledge" -- as well as the one responsible for perpetuating these anti-God philosophies throughout time is, of course -- Satan.

Discuss other heresies that Satan used in the Garden of Eden when he tried to sow seeds of doubt that God could not be trusted. ("Did God really say....")

Satan's second heresy is in Genesis 3:4 -- "You shall not surely die" -- Satan wants us to believe that we are already immortal, so death has no real power over us.

The third heresy of Satan is found in Genesis 3:5 -- that by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, human eyes would be opened -- implying wisdom and enlightenment allow a person to know good and evil -- just like God.
 
The Gnostics, then, believe that because they advance through knowledge, they are the ones who will get up to the spiritual realm because they have the key to eternal life.

How do these three heresies undermine God's truth and plan for mankind?

We'll be hearing more about Gnostics later as we study the writings of John, for it wasn't just Paul and the early Christian churches who were exposed to these heresies. They were everywhere. And the disciples and apostles were at war with these false teachings.

We pray:  I pray, Oh Lord, that you would keep me safe from Satan and all that is evil.

I pray that you would guide these studies for all who participate and desire to learn more about you through your Word.

I pray that your Word would reach to every little corner of this world, so that all living persons can know you. Amen.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Colossians 1:1-29

We are not going to get through these four power-packed chapters of Paul's letter to the church at Colosse without at least an elementary understanding of the heresies that were beginning to plague Paul's ministries.

These heresies included: ascetism, ceremonialism, angel worship and gnosticism. Paul addresses them all pretty much head-on.

The Gnostics believed that salvation was achieved through experiences that added to what a person knew. This was arrived at through a growing intuition, rather than lecture type information being handed out to students.

Like Buddhism, Gnosticism begins with the fundamental recognition that earthly life is filled with suffering.

Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin, but rather sin as a consequence of ignorance.

Knowing what you know of Paul and his passionate strength in the gospel message we can see where Paul would have a strong disagreement with the Gnostics. He didn't want them anywhere near the faithful followers of Christ.

It would not be until the 5th century when Christianity would become the state religion of the Roman Empire. Gnosticism seems to have reached its peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, then started dwindling down. This was primarily because there were a great number of heresy hunters out there looking for them, as well s the Roman Army.

We'll look at the other heresies as we go along here, but if you'd like to read more about Gnosticism, here's a web site: http://www.webcom.com/gnosis/gnintro.htm that will get you an introduction to this heresy.

Paul sends greetings from himself and from Timothy who is with Paul in Rome. He also tells the Colossians that he is thankful for their congregation and remembers them in his prayers. Paul tells them that when he prays for them it is because he has heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and of the love they have for all the saints -- the faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up for them in heaven... (verses 4-5a)

Matthew Henry makes this comment in a cross reference to 2 Thessalonians 1:3 -- Where faith grows, love will abound, for faith works by love. It shows faith and patience...when trials from God, and persecutions from men, quicken the exercises of those graces...

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=61&source=2&seq=i.60.1.1

From where Paul is sitting in Rome under house arrest, he wants the Colossians to know that word has reached him all that way that their church has a wide reputation of the gospel bearing fruit and growing, just as it had been doing since the day they first heard about the gospel from Epaphras who Paul describes as a faithful minister of Christ (verse 7).

Paul then offers this most beautiful prayer for the Colossians (verses 9-14): For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul is aware of the underlying heresies that are flying about the region of Phrygia where Colosse is located. He takes a firm stand against these heresies in verses 15-18:

Christ is the image of the invisible God. This is actually the first time that Paul describes Christ in this way. Not "in the likeness" of God. Paul wanted people to know that when they had looked at Christ, they were looking at God. Christ became a visible person.

Christ is the firstborn of all creation. And because he was the firstborn of all creation, he had priority over all mankind.

The "thrones, powers, rulers and authorities" listed in verse 16 refers to a hierarchy of angels.

All things, including the angels, were created by Christ and for Christ.

Christ is before all things. And he holds things together.

Christ is the head of everything and because he is over everything, he is supreme.

The fullness of God dwells in Christ.

Christ reconciles all things -- on earth and in heaven, through the shedding of his blood.

Paul reminds the Colossians of just how far they have come in their journey of faith, in verses 21: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

Matthew Henry writes this: A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan. Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men.

Paul then says that Christ has reconciled us so that we are holy in God's sight, without blemish -- and we are free from Satan's accusations and lies.

Henry continues with this: A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul...Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above this world by Christ's grace.

Read Matthew Henry's comments about these two verses at: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=57&source=2&seq=i.56.2.1

In verse 25 Paul talks about his suffering for the sake of Christ. Paul's sufferings were because he brought the news of Christ's atonement for all our sins. This verse does not minimize in any way what Christ did for sinners. The atonement was complete. Paul's sufferings, though, were not complete. Paul was willing to suffer to bring Christ's gospel to all the world. And in this way, he made Christ's suffering complete in him.

Paul then restates his apostolic authority as a commission he received from Christ himself. Paul wants the church at Colosse to know that he is a servant to this commission from God and wants to bring this gospel message in its fullness to the Colossians.

And again, in verse 26, he gives a sublet message against the Gnostics when he says that the word of God is presented to them to undo the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

Recall that the Gnostics thought they were the "keepers" of many big secrets and mysteries. The low man on the street just weren't gifted with these treasured secrets about God.

And here comes Paul who demystifies the mysteries and even talks about salvation as a gift of grace from God. This was not what the Gnostics wanted the Colossians to believe! Not even close. The Gnostics believed that people could get to salvation intuitively. Kind of like thinking your way to heaven.

Paul says in verse 27: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

So these Gnostics -- who had made a religion out of mysteries -- got out-debated by none other than the powerfully intellectual Apostle Paul who had become a willing vessel of the Holy Spirit, who assured the Colossians in verses 28-29: We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

And there's the one-two punch for Christianity!

Discussion:

Can you see how Paul's prayer for the Colossians counters the Gnostic beliefs, especially where salvation is concerned? Look to verse 12 to help you solidify your answer.

Take a few moments to talk about how Christianity went from a few close followers of Christ to become the state religion of the Roman Empire! How in the world did that happen in just a few short centuries. What role did the martyrdom of all the disciples, except John, play in this?

We pray: Dear heavenly Father, I pray for the safety of all your ministers who carry your message of grace and the gospel message of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the world. I pray that you would guide them in their work and keep them safe. And I pray for the safety of their families also.

I pray that your message will continue to flow through your missionaries. And I pray for all those people here in our own country who know of Christ but who do not live their lives according to his will. Especially now, in this holy season, I pray that the love of Christ and the knowledge of his death on the cross will touch sinners everywhere and that they will claim the resurrection truth of forgiveness. Amen.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Philemon 1:1-25

This is a short letter -- only one chapter that contains these twenty-five verses.

Philemon is a citizen of Colosse, Phrygia (now part of Turkey), and it's generally held that this letter was written about the same time as Paul's Letter to the Colossians, and that this letter to Philemon was carried by the same person or persons.

The letter surrounds the matter of Philemon's runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul had met Onesimus and converted him to Christianity. Exactly how they came to know one another is not certain. But since Paul is imprisoned, it could well be that Onesimus had become a captured slave and that he met Paul while he, too, was in prison. Onesimus, in accepting that he was a slave, is returning to his owner, Philemon. But Paul is asking Philemon to accept Onesimus as a son of Paul and as a brother to Philemon.

Note though that Paul did not ask Philemon to free Onesimus and truthfully, we don't know for sure how the story ends once Onesimus gets back to Colosse. But Ignatius of Antioch does mention Onesimus as the Bishop of Ephesus in the early second century. It could well be that Onesimus is given his freedom and begins a journey that expands Paul's missionary work by preaching the gospel of Christ.

It's always been curious to me that this short letter is included in the canon. I mean, were there other such letters that Paul may have written to other people in other churches that were not included. Perhaps because the letters were lost?

But this letter has survived and because it makes a profound statement about reconciliation as well as a belief in Christ bringing a changed relationship within the individual believer, it is included in the Bible texts.

After telling the Philemon that Timothy is still with him while Paul is imprisoned, Paul identifies the recipient of this letter as Philemon, a dear friend and fellow-worker, as well as Apphia (thought to be the wife of Philemon) and Archippus, a fellow soldier and to the church that met in their home. Archippus is widely supposed to be either a son or sibling of Apphia. Tradition has it that Philemon, Apphia, Archippus and Onesimus were stoned to death during the reign of Nero. (Lockyer, Herbert, All of the Women of the Bible,Zondervan Publishing Company, p. 31)

If this is true, and since Nero died in 68 A.D., then it is at variance with Onesimus being the Bishop of Ephesus in the early second century. It could also mean that Onesimus was in Ephesus when the Nero-thugs rounded up Philemon and his household for execution in Colosse.

What we do know from this letter to Philemon is that Onesimus is a runaway slave who has been converted to Christianity by Paul. And Onesimus is going back to his master Philemon.

Paul intervenes with this letter and appeals to Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother, just as he would accept Paul as a brother, because Paul and Onesimus were fellow soldiers.

Let's listen to what Paul says to Philemon in what Martin Luther called "Holy flattery" in verses 4-7: I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

In verse 8, Paul goes to the core of his purpose in writing this letter -- and that is to ask for a re-entry for Onesimus into Philemon's life.

Note that Paul does not plead for Philemon to free the slave. But Paul does say he could be bold and order Philemon to do so. Rather, Paul says he's appealing to Philemon out of love.

In verse 11, Paul says, Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

A play on words? "Onesimus" means "useful" in Greek.

Paul says he's sending this slave back to Philemon even though he would have liked to keep Onesimus with him to take Philemon's place while he was in chains.  Paul isn't demanding that Philemon do anything. Paul isn't making any claims that his spiritual mission gives him any civil authority in this matter.

Ah, but there's the appeal to Philemon in verse 14: But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.

Then Paul adds this as perhaps a purpose, verse 15-16: Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good -- no longe as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

But here comes the strength of Paul's appeal: So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back -- not to mention that you owe me your very self. (verses 17-20)

Well, I don't know about you, but it would be very difficult for me to turn away from this thought.

And then, Paul adds in verse 21: Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

Well, Paul didn't actually come right out and make a direct request for anything. But it was stronger than a "Just think about it," thought. And then, if Philemon had the idea that he'd just forgive Onesimus and welcome him back as a slave -- rather than press charges against him as a runaway slave -- which was punishable by death in those days -- that idea was flying out the window pretty quick.

Paul had great diplomatic skills, don't you think? I'll just bet Philemon did exactly what Paul wanted him to do.

And before you know it, Paul is telling him to get the guest bedroom ready because Paul had every plan to come for a visit as soon as he got this little legal entanglement behind him and was out of prison.

Then Paul closes this short letter and adds some other prisoners to the list of people who send greetings to Philemon. These workers include Mark and Luke as well as Aristarchus, Demas and Epaphras.

Discussion:

What impresses you as you read this short Letter to Philemon?

I am always reminded when I read about Paul and his missionary work and pastoring to the early churches that he was tied to real history. Nero was very much a living being who died in 68 A.D.

There's some debate as when Paul actually died, but there are probably more references to 67 A.D. than any other date. To me that means his death was Nero's doing.

Do you think the outcome of spreading the gospel message would have been different if all the disciples and apostles had been willing to go into hiding until there came a safer time to come back out into the open?

How do you think it would have been different?

What do you think it says about a truth that's being preached when everyone is willing to face even death rather than give up the message of Christ?

We pray: I thank you Lord for prospering Quint and me and for allowing us to do your work. I thank you for your grace which shines through our lives. I pray that you would bless our friends and relatives -- we love them all and we thank you that you have put them in our lives. I pray that we may be a blessing to them and to all who cross our the paths of our lives this day.

We especially pray for our son Dean for a return to health. He has so much to offer so many. We pray also for his wife Diane so that she can return to the health of physical robustness too.

We thank you Lord for the rich blessings our our daughter Teri and her husband Rick who are shepherding groups at work on a rebuilding project in New Orleans. We pray for each of them who are working so hard for the people who have lost their homes and everything they had before Hurricanes Rita and Katrina roared in from the gulf winds and wrecked their lives. We pray for a safe return to their home church in Sand Point, Idaho.

We pray for our daughter, Sharon, and her husband Ron and their children -- Jerry and Heather -- for peaceful journeys through life together.

And for our son, Vern, and his wife Erin as well.

We pray for continued blessings in the building project at our church, Faith Lutheran, in Shumway, Illinois. We pray that this addition will be used to grow your kingdom here on earth and that many people will be blessed by an expanded ministry in this added space.

Amen.

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10:55 am          Comments

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Philippians 4:1-23

Paul continues his assurances to the Philippians that they are honored and much loved in Paul's memory. As Chapter 3 closed, Paul admonished the Philippians to follow the course that he had set for them in their faith practices. 

One of these faith practices was prayer.

Matthew Henry makes these comments: Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. Inward peace springs from a sense of divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings.

At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. ... People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear to one another.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=58&source=2&seq=i.57.1.1

But there appears to be some discord between two women -- Euodia and Syntyche. Paul pleads with these two women to find some common ground for an agreement between them. After all, they had worked side by side with Paul when the apostle was in Philippi. Something happened. Perhaps one of the women was too headstrong. The passages that refer to their are not clear.

What we do know is that their disagreements are very disturbing to Paul. Paul wants these two women to focus their energy on the work of Christ's gospel message. There had been a time when such was the case when they worked right alongside Paul, as did Clement, as did other workers who are not specifically named. These workers' names are written in the book of life (verse 3).

This Clement in verse 3 is traditionally thought to be the same Clement who became the pope and Bishop of Rome in 88 A.D. He died in 99 A.D.

Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice and continue in prayer. It's a message that is just as powerful for us in these modern times -- Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayers and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of god, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds Christ Jesus. (verses 4-7)

This admonishment of Paul's is clear in this cross reference to Psalm 37:5 -- Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Paul then gives the Philippians a kind of "laundry list" of how to behave and closes his admonition with this thought in verse 9: Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul had been the gold standard of role modeling the Christian life and he wanted the Philippians to go forward in their faith practices, using him as a benchmark.

And now comes the Philippians -- the people from the church in Macedonia -- who finally are able to make a trip to Paul bearing gifts. For whatever reason, they had not been able to make their way to Paul before this time, but now they are here.

Do you remember how Paul made such happy references to the church in Macedonia when he wrote his second letter to the Corinthians? Here's the reference: 2 Corinthians 11:9 -- And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need...

Paul then tells the Philippians that he knows all too well what it's like to be in need and that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (verse 12)

Then comes this capstone verse that we all so familiar with as Paul restates his great faith in Christ, in verse 13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Oh to have Paul's faith!

And now Paul reminds the Philippians of his thanksgiving and gratitude for their support of his missionary work, for even when Paul was in Thessalonica, the Philippians sent aid again. Now the Philippians have sent Epaphroditus with yet more gifts. Paul says these gifts are ...an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Then Paul closes the letter and sends greetings, as is customary in the tradition of Greek letter-writing. These tidings come from Paul and the brothers who are with him, all the saints, and especially those who belong to Caesar's household (verse 21).

Discussion:

In your discussion with this chapter and the Letter to the Philippians as well, talk about your prayer life.

Are you reluctant to ask God to bless you? Remember that God wants to hear from us about what we need. It's true that he is all-knowing and you may think he has your needs all figured out, but he really wants and needs to hear about that direct from you.

Do you thank God for all the blessings he has given to you? Paul says we should constantly be praising and thanking God for what he does for us.

Above all, remember that God wants to hear from you. If you are a parent, do you remember the times when you made a favorite meal for your kiddos? And you watched with such glee when the children obviously were enjoying the meal.

Did your child or children get up from the table and just walk out of the kitchen? Would you feel the same way about the whole meal if they came up to you and gave you a big hug and said, "Thank you for making my favorite supper for me."

You knew they were enjoying the supper. That was obvious. But it still felt good to hear them say it.

I remember when my mother was still living -- how she'd spend the best part of a week getting everything lined up for our arrival. She'd make sure she cooked my favorite foods that she remembered from when I was a kid. And she'd spend a lot of time preparing as much in advance as she could so that she could sit and visit with me.

Do you think I acknowledged her effort and gave her thanks? You bet I did.

Thanking God is like that too. He sees us, watches us, but still would like to hear us give thanks.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that I can come before you direct. I thank you that you want to hear from me and that I do not have to go through an intermediary.

I pray that you would bless all our children as they make their way through their lives. Be with them and watch over them, for they have challenges they are working through also.

And Lord, I thank you for all you do for me and for all the blessings you gift me with. Most of all, I thank you for the gift of your son Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross guaranteed my salvation. That must have been so hard for you to send him to earth to die for all of mankind, me included. I thank you so much for that. Amen.

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10:22 am          Comments

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

BIBLE STUDY: Philippians 3:1-21

"Rejoice," Paul says as he opens this chapter.

Matthew Henry says this: "We should rejoice more if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for good, though we at present see not how they tend to it."

Then Henry says, "We should abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it."

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=60&source=2&seq=i.59.5.4

So Paul is going to restate some of the things that he has talked to the Philippians about when he ministered to them in their presence, so he says in verse 1: ...It is not trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

Well, sure. Reiterating or restating something is generally a safeguard. Just in case a person might have misinterpreted or forgotten some little detail, restating a point makes sure that nothing gets lost. 

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh, Paul says in verse 2. 

I have a cross reference to 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 -- For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles for Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Paul uses a strong comparison to these false apostles by calling them "dogs." Paul then describes himself in verses 3-6 when he recounts his being a Hebrew from the tribe of Benjamin, and a Pharisee who was a zealot -- how he hunted down the Christians and persecuted them. In essence, he was saying "So what? None of that got me anywhere and it wasn't even important because having faith in Christ is what it's all about."

See what Paul says in verse 7-8b: But whatsoever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

Paul then says that he figures everything is rubbish unless it helps him gain Christ.

Paul says he doesn't come to righteousness on his own from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (verse 9)

Actually restates this powerful message of righteousness many times in this letter and other letters as well. It is through this restatement that Paul says, in verse 1 of this chapter, that there is a safeguard for the Philippians and all believers.

I take that to mean that we must never ever get the idea that we can earn our salvation. But because we are gifted with the grace of salvation, we will want to work for Christ and for building God's kingdom. We are saved by grace whether we ever host a Bible Study or a Prayer Group, or prepare an altar for worship on church services, or for that matter, never even attend church.

Going to church on Sunday doesn't make you a Christian any more than eating at McDonalds makes you a cheeseburger. But because you are saved, you will want to get yourself to church where you can worship and praise God in an assembly with other believers.

Paul speaks words of encouragement to the Philippians when he says in verse 10: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Paul absolutely believed that because Christ rose from the dead, that we who die will also be resurrected. Paul must have wondered if he were nearing the end of his life for he was imprisoned, though he had not been brought to trial yet. Christ had been brought to trial much quicker and put to death. But here Paul sat, month after month, in prison.

Because Paul was a ponderer, a contemplater, he must have wondered if he would be martyred for his faith in Christ and for preaching the gospel message. I wonder greatly what his deep, private thoughts were when he came to his deep meditative moments of union with Christ. I wonder if the same Christ who once said, "Paul, Paul, why are you persecuting me?" would now say, "Paul, Paul, have faith. I'm with you. All will be well for you."

He wants to assure the Philippians that he is ready to die for Christ because he believes that death is not the end of the story. After death comes resurrection, and he's ready to be with Christ, or ready to continue his ministry -- whatever it is that God wants Paul to do, Paul is committed to doing.

Although Paul does not consider himself as perfect, (verse 12), he does think that he is a mature Christian (verse 15). Because of his mature faith, then, he is eager to go press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus (verse 14).

Paul often refers to the Greeks' athletic prowess in his writings. There are races to be won and prizes to be had. After all, it was the Greeks who gave us the Olympics. But the prize, in Paul's view, was not the laurel wreath, but rather, the grace of heaven's gift. That was the prize worth having!

He says this in verses 20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Matthew Henry brings these comforting words in his commentary: The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him.

...He is able to bind up the brokenhearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others.

He send comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=55&source=2&seq=i.54.1.1

Discussion:

When I think of someone dying, I often have a view of God sitting on his throne in heaven, looking down at the folks who are grieving. And wondering why such tormented anguish when a dying person is finally able to get out of a cancer-saturated body, finally being free to run about with no pain or hindrance of any kind. And being reunited joyfully with Jesus Christ and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

When we mourn, we mourn because we have lost someone we love -- and the loss is ours because there's an empty spot that the person left behind.

I recently lost my sister, and a couple of years before that, my mother. Yet both of these women were overjoyed in their last days of living that they would soon be with Jesus Christ. After I had, in essence, said goodbye to their physical selves, I could almost get a sense of their spiritual selves taking charge when they talked to me.

I no longer anticipated their deaths with the fear of losing them, but rather, I sensed their excitement for their journey to heaven's other shore.

When Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians, he is within his last decade of life. Tradition has it that Paul died near 67 A.D. That would mean death would come to him within five years of the time that he writes this letter.

Do you get a sense that Paul is closing in on the subject of his death more and more -- that he is getting ready to close out this phase of his life where he worked so hard to further the gospel of Christ -- and on into heaven where he would spend his spiritual life worshiping and praising God?

Keep this in mind that Paul may be getting ready to cross a threshold of thought at he sits in prison, wondering if his time is getting nearer and nearer.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you so much for bringing us these powerful messages from your servant Paul.

I pray that you would send me encouragement when I feel frustrated by the things that cause anxieties in this life.

I pray that you would bless me and all whom I love so that we can grow in the strength and knowledge that -- in the final analysis -- life here on earth is nothing compared to the joy that awaits us in heaven. But life here on earth is filled with trials we must all endure so that our faith will be tempered with the wisdom that your Holy Spirit gives us. Amen.

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1:30 pm          Comments

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

Today's the day -- your congressionals at work. The House starts debate on the hugest, most magnanimous budget ever!

And in this election year when all the candidates make claims to reduce taxes, to raise taxes, to leave taxes in a flat line -- let me remind you that everything done to taxes must begin in the House Ways and Means Committee.

This new budget bankrolls billions of dollars in pork projects, reinstates the marriage penalty and reduces the child tax credit by $500 per child (is this through the SCHIP line item). 

And if you think gas prices are high now, there's a new 50 cents a gallon hike to fund a plan to eliminate global warming.

What's ridiculous is that global warming stopped in 1998. Global warming is a climate cycle change. John Coleman, the meteorologist who initiated and later sold his interests in The Weather Channel says that global warming is not caused by man. He is joined by an increasing number of scientists around the world.

Coleman calls it the greatest scam in history. http://media.kusi.clickability.com/documents/Global+Warming+is+a+Scam1.pdf It's Coleman's position that global warming is a function of sunspot activity, not man's cause.

And an extra nickel in federal gas taxes to fund repairs to bridges and roads.

Eliminates the home mortage deductions. In essence this amounts to a tax increase on all homeowners since the feds want to take away an already-in-place deduction.

http://johnboehner.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=3943 -- John Boehner is House Minority Leader.

In total, this new budget increases the federal budget by $392.5 budget.

Now, keep in mind that this budget belongs to the 110th Congress which is a Democrat majority. So the blame can't be laid at the threshold of the White House. Maybe I ought to watch C-Span today. Make a big bowl of popcorn and just watch these yokels debate this budget request.

And somewhere in there is probably a big juicy raise for themselves.

Since most people, including me for sure, do not sit in front of their TVs watching C-Span, we rely on the news of what's going on in Washington, D.C. to be delivered to us through the news. Except that we don't get news news anymore -- it's mostly predigested and spit out as political rhetoric and it gets filtered through biases of the media owners. 

This is called "managed news" and it's something that all politicians deny deny deny. 

But what are you going to do? Telling the truth may get you sued. 

Take for instance Lisa Presley -- the King's daughter. She's pregnant and more than slightly overweight. The Daily Mail, a UK paper, said she was "fat." She says she was just getting ready to announce her pregnancy when the newspaper made all these comments about her weight. That hurt her feelings and now she wants an apology. And, oh yes, money for damages. For what, tissues?

Hey, Lisa, call Jenny. Being overweight is not caused by being pregnant.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080311/ap_en_mu/lisa_marie_presley

We made such good progress on the guest bedroom yesterday that I'm inspired to continue today. Just remember -- anytime you have a big project, break it down into half hour segments. Just work for a half hour on any big project -- then quit for the day. You'll be motivated to continue the next day. (Except for my desk, which I work on in 15 minute blocks.)

Quint has also announced that we are out of his favorite Soda Bread, so that will be an afternoon project. And more knitting.

Quint also wants to go looking at another car. He wants to change cars before we go interstate surfing again.

As far as the Gov. Spitzer sex/prostitution scandal is concerned and whether I was surprised, all I can say is that I'm never surprised when it comes to what politicians do.

Just remember the old rule of psychobabble -- be wary of what people accuse you of. It very often if them projecting what they dislike most in themselves. So what has Spitzer been running around yelling about for his entire career? Corruption and vice and "Elect me and I'll clean up this mess!"

That's all well and good, but first, get the plank out of your own eye. Or, as someone once said, "People who live in glass houses should change clothes in the basement."

So, if someone calls you a liar -- or if someone vehemently accuses you of just about anything, pay close attention. They may just be telling you what they dislike most in their inner core beliefs.

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HERE'S SOME HISTORICAL SNIPPETS I HAVE RECEIVED FROM KENTUCKY BUDDIES -- PAT, BILL, and CAROLINE

Everyone who knows me knows that I grew up in that beautiful part of western Kentucky known as the Jackson Purchase. It hugs the Ohio River as it heads west and blossoms in the spring when the Dogwood and Red Bud explode into full court bloom. Jonquils and tulips are everywhere -- all over town. Hydrangea and spirea bring feasts of visual pleasure every time I come back to my hometown in the spring.

The only journalism course I ever took was at Paducah Tilghman High School where I was feature page editor of The Bell.

So, here are some other things about Kentucky that you may not know:

Mammoth Cave -- 336+ miles of mapped passages -- making it the world's longest cave. It is 379' deep and contains at least 5 levels of passages. It's second only to Niagara Falls as the most popular tourist attraction.

First enamel bathtub was made in Louisville in 1883.

Bibb lettuce was cultivated by Jack Bibb in Frankfort in 1896.

The Chevolet Corvette is manufactured only in Bowling Green.

Kentucky was the first state on the western border to join the Union -- 1816.

Fort Knox holds more than $6 billion worth of gold -- the largest amount stored anywhere in the world.

And there's more for tomorrow and the next few days. Thank you Pat, Bill and Caroline for sharing so many things about Kentucky that I'm proud of!

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BIBLE STUDY: Philippians 2:1-30

Paul starts off a wonderful message in this chapter -- verses 1-2: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Matthew Henry has a cross reference to these passages to Romans 15:30 -- I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.

Matthew Henry offers this comment about these passages: ...If we have experienced the Spirit's love, let us not be wanting in this office of kindness for others. 

Those that would prevail in prayer, must strive in prayer. Those who beg the prayers of others, must not neglect to pray for themselves.

And though Christ knows our state and wants perfectly, he will know them from us. As God must be sought, for restraining the ill-will of our enemies, so also for preserving and increasing the good-will of our friends. 

All our joy depends upon the will of God . Let us be earnest in prayer with and for each other, that for Christ's sake and by the love of the Holy Spirit, great blessings may come upon the souls of Christians, and the labours of ministers.

Well, this answers the question I've heard a lot from spiritually disconnected people who say that if God knows everything, then he ought to know what they need -- so why bother with prayer? The truth is, God wants to hear from us. He wants to know what we want. He wants us to talk with him.

Prayers don't have to be stilted and formal. How many times I've started out with, "You know what I need" or "I can't do this by myself," or "If you really want me to do this, please give me strength -- because I'm so tired" or "Are you sure I can do this?"

I think God likes those sincere prayers that come up out of honest questions. And I've been amazed many, many times by God's answers to my prayers. He delivers lightning bolt solutions that seem to say, "But you didn't consider this, did you?"

Paul continues his message with an admonition that believers ought to refrain from selfish ambitions and vain conceits -- but rather, adopt a behavior of humility where others are concerned. Paul says to look after other people and not be so focused on ourselves.

In fact, Paul says Christians should be more Christ-like. Just think about what Christ did. Here he was, holy and perfect and without sin. And yet, down to earth he came when his father told him to. And even though Christ is God himself, he came down here as servant -- and he stayed in this servant role all the way til his death on the cross.

This person was none other than the Son of God. And what does God want us to do?

Paul says, in verses 9-11: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I have a cross reference to Matthew 28:18 -- And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. ESV

I also have a cross reference to Daniel 7:14 -- And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Christ's kingdom is forever. His kingdom will not be destroyed.

So Paul admonishes the Philippians to continue to work in his absence. Paul uses the term in verse 12 to ...work out your salvation with fear and trembling...

Now some will say that this verse 12 means that we can get salvation through good works. Even despite Paul's vehemence to the contrary, there are those who would insist. However, this clause is a dependent clause that rests on the rest of this verse: ...for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

That is to say that once we are saved, we no longer behave the way we did before salvation was gifted to us through God's grace. We act the way God wants us to act. We do kind things for others. We forgive others who have been pestering our sense of spiritual comfort. Their silly little antics don't bother us anymore because we become more tolerant of others when we take Christ into our hearts.

So, for sure, work hard in your salvation. Because it is hard work to be a Christian. It's a lot easier to just puff up and blow up and think we're better than some people. Some people find it easier to nurse a hangover on Sunday morning than go to church. But that refusal to over-indulge in the first place is about making a choice in favor of acting like God wants. Making the right choices -- that is, the choices that God wants, is often challenging.

But back to our story. Paul is commending the Philippians for being obedient -- whether he's there to watch them or not. And he wants them to know that he's proud of them -- so very proud of them.

These next couple of verses sound like they could be about us today: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life -- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (verse 14-16) NIV

Read Paul's message here and take it to heart, lest we all become part of a "crooked and depraved generation..."

Paul closes this chapter with the message that he hopes to send Timothy to minister to the Philippians as soon as things go along to where Paul can release Timothy for a bit. Paul says that he really doesn't have anybody like Timothy who as such an interest in the church at Philippi and for the welfare of the people as well.

And lest there be any doubt, Paul says that Timothy has treated him like a father and has served in the work of the gospel (verse 22). Paul even says that he's confidence in that Lord that he will be able to get back to Philippi also.

Then there's this matter of Epaphroditus. I believe that this is the only reference to this individual in Paul's writings. We aren't given any real details as to what has been going on that would make Paul tell the Philippians that Epaphroditus almost died in his work of Christ.

Apparently Epaphroditus has worked hard and long -- burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. To the point where he may have neglected his physical health and become ill in the process. It sounds like word got back to the Philippians that their good friend was very ill and they became enormously concerned about this. Paul, therefore, wanted Epaphroditus to go back to Philippi to show the folks that he had recuperated and was doing just fine.

Discussion:

Does this chapter help you forgive yourself for your humanness when you tend to complain or get into mental positions where you think others are acting kind of dumb?

In your discussion, whether you are alone or in a group, think of ways that you can build others up -- you know, find something kind to say to them.

What does being "Christ-like" mean to you? Do you think others would describe you as Christ-like and if they do, what qualities to you have that make them think that?

We pray: I pray, Oh Lord, that you would bring me closer to you and help me to behave in ways that are more to your liking. I know -- in my heart of hearts -- that I don't always do this and I need your help so that I can cast off the grumbling side of my nature.

I know I can't get away with just saying, "That's the way I am." Help me, instead, to say "That's not the way I ought to be because it's not Christ-like." Amen.

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8:10 am          Comments

Monday, March 10, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

And here we are starting a new week! I'm excited because it looks like the web site is going to go past 104,000 hits in about an hour. Not sure why that matters to me, but it does. Validation, maybe. We're all looking for affirmation in our little corners of the world.

So thank you. Each one of you. I am humbled by your presence. And right now, as we speak, readers from the Czech Republic, Russian Federation, Brazil, Spain and the UK are logged on and reading us.

I used to post a list of countries from which I had visitors. Then I got an e-mail from someone in a country in the far east that is not friendly to Christians and they asked me not to list their country -- for reasons of safety for them.

So it just goes to show you how much I take the freedoms we have in the United States for granted. And all those freedoms would be owing to our United States military. So thank you to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. You're keeping us all strong and free. -- I am proud of each one of you and I lift you all up in prayer a couple of times a day.

I'm also excited because Spring is getting closer and closer. As far as our weather goes, here in the middle part of Illinois, this truly must be winter's last blast. I know I've said it before but this time it's different. The temperatures are actually going up to the high 40s and 50s starting this afternoon and will stay that way for the rest of the week. I just may take a peek at the roses that are under those ugly cones. If I see new foliage, I may just take the cones off. That would let the roses start to harden off. And during the night I could drape them in a big plastic drop cloth to protect them from frosts. We're not going to be frost free for at least a month or so, but the plastic sheets would be protection enough.

This week is going to be devoted to unpacking, rearranging, and taking stuff to the resale shop. We're finally going to get at a lot of the stuff we brought down here and just parked in the guest bedroom and hallway and office upstairs. I mainly want guests to feel welcome. We have a number of friends who know all about Lake Sara, which is not too far from here. In fact, it's practically on our way to church, so if friends decide to come down from Chicago for a weekend of fishing, I want to at least have a bed that they can get to.

I have a thought that a great deal of the stuff that's over across the hall in the guest bedroom is going bye bye. We got to a point when we were packing stuff up and sorting through that we just decided to move it down here and we'd sort it out later. Well, now later has arrived and it's starting to encroach on my peace of mind. That means it's time to do something about it.

I've been spending too much time knitting anyway. Need to move around more. And get this folks, I'm embroidering an apron. That means, Quint says, that I've made the complete transition. He didn't say to what. And I didn't ask. But the apron is white and is the color of flour. It's one of those embroidery kits that has canning jars full of pickles and jams and says "Eat, Drink and Laugh." So now I can make bread and get the flour on the apron, not on everything else I touch. Guess I'm not the neatest cook. I need to work on that.

##

WARNING TO OUR FRIENDS WHO LIVE IN PHOENIX, AZ

And especially if you like to go out into wilderness areas for big hiking adventures.

A rabid mountain lion attacked a 10 year old youngster while the family was out on their ATVs in the Tonto National Forest.

Okay, so this mountain lion was shot by one of the adults in the fun party. But my question is how this mountain lion got to be rabid in the first place. Did it eat something that was rabid or was it bit?

I'd like to know how extensive the rabies problem is with other wildlife.

In the meantime, beware. Everybody! Stay safe.

Here's some information from the Arizona Game & Fish Department: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/game_lion.shtml

Oh, wait a minute. Isn't Phoenix in Maricopa County. And isn't that where Sheriff Joe has all those bad guys spend their jail time in tents out in the desert? (wearing pink undies, at that)

After reading about these really big bad cats -- the four-legged ones, not the rapists and armed robbers who are convicted felons -- I wouldn't want to be out there in the desert for any reason whatsoever!

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BIBLE STUDY: Philippians 1:1-30

Paul's Letter to the Church at Philippi is a rather small letter -- only four chapters. But it is powerful in its joyful message of faith in Jesus Christ. This letter does not have any quotes from Paul of Old Testament scripture. This could mean that he did not have access to such scripture because he is now imprisoned in Rome.

Just as a review of how Paul ended up in Rome, by way of Jerusalem, we go back to Luke's Acts of the Apostles, Acts 20:22-24: And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

So Paul goes to Jerusalem. Remember that he has a great amount of funds that the churches had collected for the poor people who were suffering from famines that were ravaging the countryside at this time. They had been collecting these funds as an extra offering every week for a year. Just carrying the money from Corinth to Jerusalem was dangerous!

While Paul was in Jerusalem, he was seen in the company of an Ephesian named Trophimus. The Jews deduced that Paul probably had brought Trophimus into their temple and thus defiled it since Trophimus was a Greek, therefore a Gentile and Gentiles were not supposed to cross the threshold into the synagogue. They brought Paul up on charges. This led to an uproar and Paul found himself before the local governor. Things got worse. The Roman chieftain was going to have Paul flogged. And the members of the Sanhedrin kept the crowd excited to the point where they wanted Paul killed.

Then Paul asked the Roman in charge, "Oh, by the way, you do know I'm a citizen of Rome, don't you?"

This flabbergasted the Roman in charge of his flogging. It was one thing to bind a rabblerouser in chains and get him ready for flogging. But a Roman citizen? Absolutely not! In fact, the Roman in charge could get in a heap of trouble for just treating Paul that way.

Well, there were hearings -- back and forth between magistrates and potentates. Finally, Paul appealed to have his case heard before Caesar. That was his certain right as a Roman citizen.

It's now 62 AD. Paul's in Rome. He's coming to the end of his first imprisonment. Timothy is with Paul at this time and apparently Paul has the liberty to dictate letters which Timothy transcribes. Paul wants to write to the churches he started on his missionary journeys. In Acts 28:30, we read: For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. This would seem that Paul is under house arrest, waiting for his trial to begin "one of these days," and not actually imprisoned. 

So Paul writes this collection of letters we refer to as the Prison Epistles -- there are four: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. 

We turn back to Acts 16:11-15, to learn more about how this church in Philippi got started: From Troaa we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who ws a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.


Timothy is with Paul when he writes this letter. We see that in the salutation at the very beginning of this letter when Paul sends greetings from himself and Timothy.

Paul begins his message very warmly, verses 3-6: I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel form the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul tells the Philippians that even if he is in chains, he has them in his heart and he wants them to know that they continue to share in his ministry of the gospel. Paul also wants the people at Philippi that he longs for them and holds them in great affection.

Then he offers a prayer in verses 9-11: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of God.

Paul then brings them a comforting word about his being in chains. In fact, his detainment has allowed him to bring the gospel message to many Roman guards who most willingly accepted Paul's message of salvation. For that reason, Paul says that what has happened to him has turned out to be a good thing because it has allowed him to preach to the whole palace guard. And also, because of his arrest and detainment, other church leaders are inspired to preach even more courageously and fearlessly (verse 14).

For those people who preach Christ out of goodwill, they know that Paul is in Rome because of his defense of the gospel.

And even those people who are preaching the gospel message for less than a loving motivation, Paul says in verse 18: But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Paul even goes so far as to say that Christ will always be exalted whether Paul lives or dies. He explains in verses 21-22: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.

On the one hand, Paul yearns to be with Christ, but he also knows that if he remains in the body -- that is, as long as he continues to live -- he will be able to continue to minister to all his churches, and particularly, to the Philippians.

He tells them that no matter what happens to him, he wants the Philippians to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (verse 27). If they do that, then Paul will know they are standing firm in their faith. If Paul is able to go to them, that would be great. But if that can't happen and Paul only hears about the Philippians, that's okay too because he will know that they are standing up to those who oppose them and are not scared of those who would try to frighten the Philippians.

Then Paul reminds the Philippians of this in verses 29-30: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Paul was referring to the time that he and Silas went to Philippi and were imprisoned.

Discussion:

Philippi was named for Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It's a short distance inland by about ten miles from the port city of Neapolis.

Philippians is filled with messages of joy and thanksgiving. Can you think what would cause Paul to be thankful (1:5)?

Why do you think Paul believed that his imprisonment was helping his ministry?

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you guard and protect your servants around the world who work diligently to bring the saving message of your salvation to so many people. They work in harms way, as you know, and yet they do so with such joy in their hearts, even while they are mindful of the dangers to their lives. I pray that you would keep them safe from harm.

I pray that you would help the delivery of food supplies to those people who suffer from the ravages of famine and who go to bed hungry every night. I pray that you especially keep the children in your loving care and bring an end to their suffering and hunger. Amen.

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10:15 am          Comments

Friday, March 7, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

I think it may warm up a bit today. Quint says it was 28 degrees when he got up. That was at the crack of dawn. I prefer a more civilized time -- like, say 7:30 am or thereabouts. It was 30 degrees when I got up. I hope that trend continues til about noon!

My daffodils aren't anywhere near blooming yet, so they need lots of sunshine and lots of cuddly warmth. I have an entire bed of daffodils by the back door. They're supposed to be pink. They didn't look very pink last spring, but it was their first year so I'm hoping it was just because they were newly planted. One of the daffodils grew right through a big oak leaf that had blown onto the bed during the winter. It looked like a collar. Should have taken a picture of it. Oh well, another photo op memory lost forever.

Our pinochle evening turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to visit with some folks we only just slightly know from church. So we played six-handed pinochle. The cards fall quite a bit differently with an extra couple playing. There were a couple of hands when I didn't have a card higher than a king. But I did have one hand where I actually have four aces, but no meld. The bid had gotten up to 21 and I chickened out. There's only 25 points if I would have caught every trick. Since I had no idea what, if anything, my partners could be melding, I let the bid go. Was just as well because the three of us together could only meld one card -- a nine.

But it's all in fun. There's a lot of good hearted visiting that goes on during a card game. And that's the point. Good marriages need good friends. Couple friends.

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BIBLE STUDY: Romans 16:1-27

Paul has gathered to Cenchrea (sen-kree-e), a port about ten miles from Corinth. In this first verse it appears likely that Paul is entrusting the brilliant theological treatise of his Letter to the Romans to a Christian woman named Phoebe. He calls her a sister and a service of the church.

I want to share a cross reference to Galatians 4:3-5: So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

So when Paul calls Phoebe a "sister," he is referring to her as a member of his spiritual family in which their relationship is based on the redemption of Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. (All the Women of the Bible, by Herbert Lockyer, p. 121.)

Lockyer expands his thought to this: "How and when Phoebe became a Christian and a sister in the Lord, we are not told. What is evident is the manifestation of her sisterly love and labors among her sisters and brothers in Christ.

In Paul's reference to Phoebe as a "servant" of the church, he uses the Greek word diakonos, from which we have "deacon" or "deaconness." (Lockyer, p. 121)

From that description of Phoebe, we can deduce that she could have been one of the first, if not the first, deaconness in the Christian church. I think this description by Paul is important because much has been made of Paul's view of the role that women should play in the church, namely, that they should be silent.

Now, I can't pick words apart and give you the technical Greek translations of the Bible, but what I am curious about is that perhaps there has been much ado about Paul's wanting women to be silent in church. Clearly, there were important roles for women in the churches. And in Phoebe's instance, Paul was entrusting her with this most valuable letter that he had written to the Romans.

And in verse 2 he is asking the Romans to receive Phoebe in the Lord and "in a way worth of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me."

In the third verse, Paul also asks the Romans to give a good greeting to Priscilla and Aquila, his fellow workers in Christ Jesus. Paul tells the Romans that they had risked their lives for him. But not just Paul, but also all the churches of the Gentiles who are grateful to these two. (verses 3-4)

I have a cross-reference to Acts 18:2 -- And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. ESV

Lockyer brings us a note on P. 125 of this couple whom Paul loved so much -- "While the last mention of Aquila and Priscilla is to be found in Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy where they were back at Ephesus about the year A.D. 66 (2 Timothy 4:19), there is a tradition to the effect that they ultimately laid down their lives for Christ's sake. The 8th of July is the day set apart for them in the martyrology of the Roman Church when it is said the faithful couple were led out beyond the walls and beheaded. If this is so it is not difficult to fill in the details of the pathetic picture. Aquila and Priscilla had loved each other through the years, and together had served the Lord so loyally. Now with eyes so full of unfading love, as if to say to each other, 'Farewell, fear not!' they were ready for the flash of the blade that sent them home to God, and to eternal fellowship with Paul, Apollos, and others they had so signally helped.

Lockyer continues, "Paul gives us a still fuller insight into the passionate desire of Aquila and Priscilla to bind the saints together in fellowship. To the Corinthians he wrote, 'Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church in their house.' In Romans, the Apostle sent his greetings to them and to 'the church that is in their house.'

"In those apostolic days, poverty and persecution made separate buildings for worship almost impracticable, and so private, sanctified homes became the house of God. Aquila and Priscilla consecrated their home to God, as a gathering place for the saints."

Paul continues through verse 15 with a list of Christians whom he wishes the churches in Rome to greet. And in verse 16, Paul says this: Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Matthew Henry offers this -- "Here are several good exhortations. God is the Author of peace and Lover of concord; he hath loved us and is willing to be at peace with us. And let it be our constant aim so to walk, that separation from our friends may be only for a time, and that we may meet in that happy world where parting will be unknown. He wishes that they may partake all the benefits which Christ of his free grace and favour has purchased; the Father out of his free love has purposed; and the Holy Ghost applies and bestows."

(Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible is in the public domain.)

Paul begins a strong exhortation in verses 17-18: I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

These are powerful words from Paul and they bring a most sincere warning to stay away from false teachers. These false teachers bring a doctrine that is not centered around Christ but they sound so sure of themselves. Of these false teachers, Paul tells the Romans in verse 19b: I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

In verse 20, we read: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

My Concordia Study Bible has a note to this verse: "Satan, the father of lies, is behind all false teachings. This is a reference to Satan's final doom." (p. 1742)

Paul closes this Letter to the Romans with this most powerful message in verses 25-27: Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him -- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

When Paul refers to "my gospel" he is talking about what has been directly revealed to him.

There is a cross reference to Galatians 1:11-12: I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

This mystery that was made known to Paul by revelation is explained more fully in Ephesians 3:2-6: Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

This concludes our study of Paul's Letter to the Romans. I pray that it has enriched your faith greatly.

On Monday we begin another letter that Paul wrote. I believe that, in chronology, it would have been his letter to the Galatians, but we have studied that letter earlier, so I will have to check the records that I am using to see which would be the one following Galatians.

Discussion:

If we cannot be great, by God's grace we may be the means of making others great, says Lockyer.

As you think back to Paul's being surrounded by so many wonderful people who took him into their homes and cared for him, can you think of a time when you have been blessed with an opportunity to share your generosity with someone not as blessed as you are.

Depending on where many of you live in the world, this may be a fairly common occurrence, but here in the United States, we have become more guarded under most circumstances.

The exception to this happens when choirs come out from church universities, or faith-based groups gift us with evenings of ministry. Without the generosity of people sharing their homes and tables, these people could not afford to travel about from church to church the way they do. Truly, if you ever have an opportunity to welcome one or more of these travelers into your home, I hope that you do it. You will be blessed for your giving.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity to study Paul's Letter to the Romans. It brings such a richness to the tapestry of your gospel message. The power of your love and grace flow through the words of Paul and reach the depths of me. I thank you for this message.

I pray for all the missionaries around the world who work to bring your message to nonbelievers, or unchurched people. I pray for their safety and health.

I pray for all believers everywhere who put themselves in harm's way to assemble together and learn more about your great gospel message. I pray that you would bless their studies as they grow in faith and minister to others around them.

I pray for Teri and Rick and their friends who have travelled to New Orleans to refurbish homes for those who have yet to be able to reclaim their homes lost to Hurricane Katrina. Bless their work that they do in your name. I pray that their ministry will be one of presence and caring as they work in your name. Amen.

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9:18 am          Comments

Thursday, March 6, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

Today I am moving to the Eagles Nest -- that's the name of the office on the second floor. It has my beautiful desk that Quint made me when we first opened the practice in Tinley Park. And my poor cousin, Butch, happened to be in town that weekend so he got the pleasure of helping Quint put the top of the desk in place. There were 21 little knob like things that went into holes that Quint had filled with carpenters glue.

The desk and matching lateral file survived the move very nicely. After Quint put the desk together, I promised him I'd never order another kit that had the ill-fated words "some assembly required" on the instructions. What a bear it was to put together! It is a testament to Quint's patience.

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IF YOU HAVE CURIOSITIES ABOUT WHAT THE CANDIDATES ARE SAYING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ABOUT THE HIGH PRICE OF GASOLINE --

CLUE: IT HAS TO DO WITH THE RISING PRICE OF CRUDE. NOW, WHO KNOWS THE REAL REASON WHY THE PRICE OF CRUDE IS GOING UP? --

NO, IT'S NOT BUSH'S FAULT!


I know there are a great number of readers who don't care much about the garbage that's on the news -- mainly because it's not news. It's political rhetoric that doesn't have much basis in fact.

But there are some things that you should all know so I'm going to share them with you today. That way you won't have to wade through what I'm not even going to say to describe what I think of the political promises that are presently in orbit around the moon.

Remember those romantic promises of "Elect me and I'll give you the sun, moon and stars?"

So here's what -- in my opinion -- you might want to think about.

I'll be the first person to admit that I'm not an expert on foreign relations.

But I'm getting a little tired of our president getting blamed for everything that goes wrong in the world. Remember a few years ago when there was a huge eruption in oil prices that made the price per gallon go through the roof? 

Well, the knee jerk reaction was that it must be George Bush's fault. After all, that was why he wanted to go into Iraq in the first place. Right? 

Couldn't have had anything to do with the giant population countries of India and China needing more oil for their newly acquired thirst for fuel? 

Well, I looked it up. And here are some real data and places where you can read more, then you'll have facts on hand.

China, with its 1+ billion population has been increasing its needs on Middle East oil. Its oil consumption hunger is increasing by 7.5% a year -- that's 7 times the growth as the US. China is able to find much of its own oil, but it still imports 32% of its oil needs -- and more than half of that import figure (58%) comes from the Middle East.

It all started in the 1990s when the Chinese folks moved from bicycles and mass transit to private cars. As China moves toward industrialization (progress?), private cars become more affordable. In 2010 China will have 90x more cars driving hither and thither than in 1990!

http://www.iags.org/china.htm

India also has a billion plus population. In 2002, India became the 5th largest energy consumer in the world. (They had to bump Germany out of the way.) Whereas India's energy needs were 1.168 million barrels per day in 1990, it now has sailed past the 2.4 million barrels a day to keep its industrialization needs going.

http://www.teriin.org/events/iogc/about.htm

Currently only 7 in 1,000 people in India drive cars. (In neighboring Pakistan, that stat is 12.) Just wait until these two countries catch up.

India is the 11th largest energy producer in the world. It's sitting on a huge oil field that is just starting to be developed.

http://www.cslforum.org/india.htm

http://www.teriin.org/events/iogc/about.htm

In 2002, Iraq was producing 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. (Iraq was producing 3.5 million barrels a day when it invaded Kuwait in 1990.)

Read more: http://www.cfr.org/publication/7707/#2 (CFR=Council on Foreign Relations)

So how does the Iraq stockpile of reserves look? It has 112.5 billion barrels in its reserves. That compares to 300 billion that the Saudis have stored up.

(According to Brookings Institute, the Iraq number is correctly at 78 billion barrels. http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2003/0512globalenvironment_luft.aspx)

In 1995 the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq which curtailed its sale of oil on the international market. This was when Clinton was president. These sanctions were eased somewhat in 1996 because -- guess what --here's a country that sitting on all these oil reserves and they can't even buy food and medicine for their citizens. The sanctions were terminated in 2003 when Bush was president and humanitarian functions in Iraq were turned over to Iraq's provisional government.

The only way that Iraq was supposed to sell its oil was through a program known as the oil-for-food program and it was overseen by the United Nations. It was through this oil-for-food program that the United States became a consumer of Iraqi oil.

Well, you don't get that many billions of dollars swirling around such a finger smacking program without attracting corruption. But that's another story and has not what this inquiry is about. Suffice it to say that there's a lot of finger pointing going on. Still. Even though the United Nations led oil-for-food program was dismantled in 2003.
 
Iraq is now working its way through the cumbersome process of getting in as a supplier nation in OPEC.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/jan-june02/mideast_5-14.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil-for-Food_Programme

And in our own corner of the world, we have our own program going on out in the Gulf of Mexico. To our delight, we found a huge oil field out in the Gulf of Mexico. It's a 300 square mile area that promises to deliver between 3 billion and 15 billion of barrels of oil.

That's right in our own back yard! Of course, those big rigs sitting out there on the pond are vulnerable to hurricanes and fires and things. But there are more days when they're pumping than when they're not. So it's still a good deal.

Then there's all that oil up in Alberta, Canada. 174 gigabarrels to be exact, if those kinds of estimates could ever be exact. Problem is, it's expensive to get at. It wasn't even profitable to hunt for it and dig it up until oil started selling at $40 a barrel. Now that oil has come up to $100 a barrel, you can bet there's going to be a hurry to start pumping and building new pipes, and saying "Hey, you got bucks?" to us friendly neighbors down here in the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves

Which brings me to what I perceive as the real problem.

It isn't about where we buy our oil from. It's more about where we store it and refine it.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/05/business/main1969353.shtml

The United States started its oil reserve program in 1975 after the oil embargo in 1973-74. Remember those lines when you stayed in line to buy a $2 limit of gasoline? Well, at last count, the US has 698.6 million barrels of oil in its stockpile. And since we use 20 million barrels of oil EVERY DAY, that won't last a really long time.

We import 12 million barrels a day so that supply in our stockpile would last about 57 days.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Petroleum_Reserve

That won't even get us through spring break when the college students up north head for southern climes. Where do the southern students go? To Chicago? New York? And since we have a love affair going with our cars, come summer, we're going on vacation and we'll be driving to somewhere!

Just keep in mind that Bush is going to get blamed for everything. As President Truman said, "The buck stops here." And all these presidential wannabees better pay attention because one of the three of them will get to be president.

Then everybody will be blaming them for all the problems of the world, regardless of what the facts are. And if you think Bush asked Congress for a declaration of war to invade Iraq -- which he got approval for -- because of oil, think again.

Oh, for sure, you can think that if you like. But it's just your suspicion. Facts won't back you up. Wouldn't you rather have an opinion based on real information that's factual? That's the difference between political rhetoric and rational thinking.

My point is, if you consider the data, all these debates started parboiling in the early 1990s. So even though it's tempting to blame increasing oil prices on Bush, he wasn't president in the 1990s. Bush can't be held responsible for the industrialization of China, India, or Pakistan either. Or even for building the indoor ski resort in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

He says he's longing for the day when he can get back to his ranch in Texas. Probably won't keep the place cleared of rattlesnakes though. If you do that, then the rat population increases. And when that happens, you get an outbreak of the plague because the fleas that infect you with plague are carried on the rats. Rats are lunch and afternoon snacks for rattlesnakes.

So you see, only I could tie an article about global oil consumption to rattlesnakes.

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BIBLE STUDY: Romans 15:1-33

In the very first verse, Paul says that we, who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

This verse has a cross reference to Galatians 6:1 -- Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

"We, who are strong ..." -- Paul is referring to mature Christians, to those who have made the commitment to live their lives as Christians.  

But if there is to be a ministerial confrontation, Paul again says that it ought to be done in a loving manner. I think we can understand that. I mean if someone is starting to slip away from the truth of the gospel, it might not be the best idea to hit them over the head with a theological hammer.

It's about building people up -- it's about edification. And so, in verse 4, Paul says: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Paul is applying Psalm 71:20 to his lesson to the Romans on this day: You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.

Paul then goes on to that this encouragement and endurance that is gifted from God gives a spirit of unity among them as they follow Christ Jesus (verse 5).

In verses 7-9b, Paul admonishes the Christians: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy...

There is a thought from Paul that relates to Christ coming to focus on the Jewish people in his ministry. A note for these verses in my Concordia Study Bible puts it this way: He was sent to the Jewish people and largely limited his ministry to them. God gave a special priority, so far as the gospel is concerned, to the Jews --" ...promises made to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)." -- From the beginning, God's redemptive work in and for Israel had in view the redemption of the Gentiles. (page 1740).

And a cross reference to Matthew 15:24 makes this clear: He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Paul quotes from 2 Samuel 22:50: For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.

And from Deuteronomy 32:43: Rejoice with him, O heavens. There's more to this verse that Paul does not quote. Whether he was working from memory or from a library copy of these passages, we don't know. But since the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Bible -- were used in worship at synagogues, there may well have been a copy available for Paul to use as he writes his letters from Corinth.

I'm going to quote the rest of this passage from Deuteronomy because it gives a completeness to what Paul started with his quote: ...bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people's land.

And from Psalm 117:1, Paul quotes: Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples.

Paul adapts Isaiah 11:10 to message to the Romans: In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples -- of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

(These quotes are from the English Standard Version.)

It's interesting to see how Paul takes these various Old Testament verses and weaves them into a seamless thought as he writes his Letter to the Romans, verses 9b-12:

Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.

Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."

And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples."

And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him."

Now Paul reassures the Romans that their hope comes from God above, in verse 13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul then tells the Romans that he thinks they are competent to instruct each other. Then, in verses 15-16, he says: I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
 
We get an idea of the scope of Paul's ministry when he writes to the Romans that he pretty much doesn't want to talk about anything else except the glory of God and God's accomplishments through him, namely, leading the Gentiles to obey God (verses 17-18).

Then in verse 19b, he says that ...from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (Albania and Yugoslavia) I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not know, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.

There is a cross reference to Isaiah 52:15 for this verse: ...so shall I sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.

Paul then tells the Romans that he basically is finished with his ministry in this region, and since he has been longing to visit the Romans for many years, he plans to do just that when he goes to Spain.

Lest there be any doubt as to whether or not Paul intended to take his ministry to Spain, verse 24 affirms his intent to do just that. Paul says he plans to go on to Spain after he has enjoyed the company of the Romans for a good little while.

But first, Paul says, he needs to take the contributions and gifts from the Macedonians to Jerusalem so that these gifts can be distributed to the poor.

Then in verse 28, Paul says: So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

Paul then asks the Romans to keep him in their prayers. Paul asks for prayers so that he will be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea. And he asks for prayers so that his service in Jerusalem will be acceptable. And he closes this chapter with God's blessings to the Romans.

Discussion:

What strikes you the most about this chapter?

Is it in the quote from Isaiah? Does this quote give you assurance that Paul was, indeed, hand selected by Jesus Christ, on the road to Damascus to do the wonderful things that he did in his ministries?

For sure, we see the selection process of the prophets in the Old Testament. There was no doubt that God picked special people that he wanted to send out in the world.

Look at how God used King David. Despite the fact that David committed adultery and even send his lover's husband out to the front lines in a battle where he'd be sure to get killed. And he was. Then David married his heart's desire. And they had a baby. And the baby died. Then David realized that what he had done was a grievous sin and he begged for forgiveness. And all he had to do was ask.

As for Paul, here was a man -- a pharisee -- who went around the countryside looking for Christians that he could kill. He carried execution warrants on his person so that he could kill Christians on site.

The point is, God selects the people whom he wants to use to spread his story of salvation. God doesn't always pick people who are pure in heart and transgression-free.

God wants each one of us to tell others about the great gospel message of salvation. And he equips each of us to do this by granting us spiritual gifts.

Do you use your gifts to bring others to Christ?

For sure, we can't all be great evangelists like Paul was. But we can do many things that let others know we are Christian and put the message of faith in front of them.

One very easy way to do this is to send birthday cards, anniversary cards, get well cards, etc., that have Bible truths included in them. It's not a big thing but it's a way of thinking that takes us down a different path if we aren't doing this already.

What else can you do?
 
We pray: Dear Heavenly Father -- I pray that you would show me how you want to use me in building your kingdom.

I know this may sound silly to you, but I'd like to be your servant but I don't have a clue as to what you would have me do. What can I possibly do to dedicate my life to your glory?

I pray that you would show me your way. Amen.

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8:26 am          Comments

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

Interesting what's happening in the Democratic primary race. Had it not been for Obama taking Vermont, Hillary would have had a clean sweep in the four state Super Tuesday II of Texas-Ohio-Vermont-New Hampshire.

So what does this mean? That for the first time in her adult life, Michelle Obama is disappointed? I will admit that it was most curious that she made the statement "For the first time in my adult life, I'm really proud of my country..."

Huh? Can't think of anything that has made her proud? When exactly did her adult life begin? Well, for starters, she was born in 1964. That would make her an adult in the decade of the 80s.

How about being proud of the opportunities she has enjoyed as an American? Like, for instance, being able to get into Princeton University -- where she graduated cum laude. How about graduating from Harvard Law School?

How about passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- landmark legislation that allowed her to reach the heights of her educational goals which, in turn, brought her the really big bucks working at the blue chip law firm, Sidley & Austin, in Chicago. And then on to bigger bucks at the University of Chicago Hospitals where she commanded a mountain of moolah of $273,618 a year!

Then she married Mr. Obama in 1992 and his senate salary added to hers, plus all their other "miscellaneous" income from book royalties and her board positions brought them to $991,296! That doesn't make her proud of all the hopeful opportunities she's enjoyed?

For starters, how about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It almost seems as if it was passed in your birthday year for your own hopeful enjoyment, Michelle Obama!

I mean, I'm not even an African-American and I'm very proud of the courage that Rosa Parks exhibited on a bus in the south many years ago.

I'm proud of American technology every time our space shuttle goes up to the International Space Station to take food and supplies, then turns around to  bring the trash back to earth.

I'm proud of each and every American soldier, whether they're Marine, Navy, Coast Guard, Army or Air Force. They keep our great country safe and I'm proud of them!

Yeah, you're audacious all right. Even arrogant. It's almost like you took your comment right off the front of your husband's book. But you ought to be careful because "recklessly bold in defiance of convention," or "unrestrained," will not get you a measuring tape for the White House drapes.

You guys have eight months to go before the election. That's plenty of time for every voter in America to discover that you and your husband make nearly a million smackaroos a year. And you're not even proud of the opportunity that living in this great nation brought to you so that you could do that?

It's just a thought, but I'm wondering if American voters would rather pull the lever for a presidential candidate whose spouse is proud of this great nation?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Obama

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BIBLE STUDY: Romans 14:1-23

Paul continues his theme in these closing chapters of the Letter to the Romans about how people ought to live their lives in such a way that would be pleasing to God.

In today's chapter, Paul is talking about what people should eat and how they should be treating each other. It isn't that Paul cares all that much about the preferences of cuisine. Hardly so.

In verse 1, Paul says: Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

And what might these disputable matters be? My Concordia Study Bible says that this is most likely a reference to the fact that the early Christians had difficulty giving up their traditional diet restrictions that were outlined in Leviticus, as well as other mandates of Levitical law.

And Matthew Henry says, most eloquently: He is the most advanced Christian, who is the most conformed to Christ. ... He bore the guilt of sin, and the curse of it; we are only called to bear a little of the trouble of it. He bore the presumptuous sins of the wicked; we are called only to bear the failings of the weak.

And should not we be humble, self-denying, and ready to consider one another, who are members one of another? The Scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first written....

The comfort which springs from the word of God, is the surest and sweetest, and the greatest stay to hope....

Our Divine Master invites his disciples, and encourages them by showing himself as meek and lowly in spirit. The same disposition ought to mark the conduct of his servants, especially of the strong towards the meet.

The great end in all our actions must be, that God may be glorified; nothing more forwards this, than the mutual love and kindness of those who profess religion.
 
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=53&source=2&seq=i.52.15.1

Paul uses the example of how one man may be a vegetarian, while another may eat everything present at the table. Just because each man chooses differently does not give one the right to condemn the other.

In verse 4, Paul says: Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

I'd like to refer you back to Matthew 10:28 -- And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

So it doesn't really matter what the person to your right is eating. Or to your left. It doesn't matter if you're eating anything at all. Rather than paying all that attention to what's on someone's plate, Paul says to pay attention to whether or not your actions are pleasing to the Lord, not what you're eating.

This reference to Levitical law repeats itself in verse 6 -- He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

This is clearly the same admonishment that Paul gave to the churches at Corinth -- 1 Corinthians 10:31 -- So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

As to the special days, a footnote in my Concordia Study Bible says that some believe that this is a reference to keeping the Sabbath, although there are others that believe this refers to all special ceremonial days that are outlined in the Old Testament (p. 1738).

Paul wants the Romans to consider that all days are to be dedicated to God through holy living and service to others (p. 1738) -- because -- continuing in verse 8: If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Judging each other -- condemning each other -- total waste of time that leads to displeasure in God's eyes. In verse 13, Paul writes: Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

There's that stumbling block again. This is a strong message that we are not to lead our brothers to transgress against the Lord.

Paul then says he's absolutely convinced that there are no foods that are unclean. After all, God made everything. And what could God make that would be foul?

Keep in mind that God made all men too. And because we are all children of God, we shouldn't judge others. We may think that we know what someone is thinking deep down in their heart, but we don't.

God knows what's in the heart of man. Acts 1:24 -- Then they prayed, "Lord you know everyone's heart... 

Paul makes a very strong distinction, however, in verses 20-21: Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

And just as important, in verse 22: So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Put more plainly, if whatever you do is offensive to someone, then you ought not to do it. This isn't about "if it feels good, do it." Paul is making a strong warning that by doing what you want to do just might cause someone else to sin. 

That would most certainly not please God. There are still religions that don't allow certain foods -- like pork -- to be eaten. And I have attorney friends who are Jewish. Years ago when I worked in a law firm, I became acutely aware of their response to the bacon/lettuce/tomato sandwich that someone had ordered at lunch. It isn't that the BLT was offensive to them. Quite the contrary. The attorney I'm thinking of was mightily tempted to order one for himself. 

So you see, just ordering a BLT in the presence of someone whose faith tradition requires abstinence from certain foods would place a stumbling block in front of my friend, so I ordered some other sandwich. 

Discussion:

How often I have heard people say they wish that God would just give them a clue as to what he wants them to do.

"What's God's plan for me?" they ask.

But God does not have an agenda for our lives. Not for mine. Not for yours. He has a purpose and that purpose is to bring you to salvation.

But a plan? I don't think so. If God had locked you into a plan, how would he ever know you freely choose to follow him? How would you ever exercise free will if you didn't have it?

How would you ever be able to make a choice of sleeping in late on Sunday morning or going to church if God zapped you out of bed and shouted at you to hurry up because church would be starting! No -- what God does is gives you instructions -- the Ten Commandments -- and then sits back and watches to see if you choose to obey them.

What are some things that you do that you think are pleasing to God in how you live your life.

What choices do you make that may not be all that convenient for you, but you make them anyway because you want to please God?

We pray: Oh Lord, I thank you for the gift of your Word. I pray that your Holy Spirit will speak to me as I read your Word. I pray that you would give me the strength to do what is pleasing to you as I dedicate my life to you at the beginning of each new day. Amen.

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8:13 am          Comments

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

We were awakened before daylight by something mean-sounding hitting the north window in our bedroom. It sounded like that little movie start garden gnome throwing handfuls of popcorn at us.

Well, it wasn't a whole lot different except that it was Mother Nature in another one of her late winter snits. And it was sleet, not popcorn. And no popcorn means there won't be any movie marathons today.

That's what I used to do after finals week. That's when my brain had turned to moosh and I thought I'd never have another rational thought in my entire life. That was the time when Quint and I would get a whole bunch of videos and just sit there, motionless and thoughtless, and let all that fatigue and stress just ooze out of the pours. Into the air. Into the soft cushions. Anywhere. Just relax.

Today is Super Tuesday #2 -- and Mother Nature is just not cooperating for a hoped-for grand turnout in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and New Hampshire. Only the die-hard voters who really really care will go out in weather like this.

And yesterday, Obama had his reporter-searing at a press conference. Can't really call it a baptism of fire but the reporters were sure going for the burn. They kept pushing him on this NAFTA deal that he's been so critical about. 

NAFTA has become Obama's "Elect me and I'll bring the outsourced jobs back home." And he made some other disparaging remarks about NAFTA -- mainly because Hillary supported it -- that is, if you count her husband's years in the White House as being experiential for her, vicariously.

Well, our neighbors to the north came after Obama. They wrote him a letter supporting the NAFTA position; that NAFTA is a good thing. Obama said he never got such a letter. Then someone produced a copy. Okay, maybe he got a little letter.

And then he said what ALL politicians say when they've been challenged by the reality of truth in a compromising position. He said, "When I gave you that information, that was the information I had at the time." That' s what the Daily News  reported at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/03/04/2008-03-04_angry_barack_obama_bombarded_by_media.html

The other standard political answer is: "I don't remember." You can never be charged with perjury is you don't remember, then later are able to recall. Like when someone produces a letter you wrote that you didn't remember writing. Or a conversation, etc. Amnesia is a great political ploy.

What we need is to elect governors, not politicians. Governors get things done. Politicians don't. They hire people who supervise people who call in people to get things done.

But back to Obama's news conference. Then came the tough questions about Tony Rezko and his relationship with Obama. He did not like those questions at all! Rezko's corruption trial started in Chicago. Rezko did some fundraising or donating to Obama.

The press conference ended abruptly at that point. Now Obama is starting to act like a politician.

Rezko has become to Obama what Peter Paul is to Clinton. And neither of those election corruption trials are going to go away. And both of these candidates are going to get their hands dirty. Hmmmm. Maybe that's why they're campaigning their little hearts out. Just maybe they absolutely have to get elected -- that way they can pardon their corrupt little buddies.

After all, Quint says, you can't count on a President McCain to pardon either Paul or Rezko.

With almost two dozen "each delegate counts" primaries to go, it's now going to get interesting. Now we're going to see two senators from the Democrat side of the aisle going at it like two bullies on the playground. The only thing that could make it more interesting is if Harry Reid announced he was going to run.

For president, not out of town. But you know what, on second thought, we may not have a movie marathon but this is primary day. It's almost as entertaining. Especially that Texas vote. After the primaries are finished down under -- that is, in the big land mass called Texas, then they have their caucuses. More than a thousand of them.

Some newsy anchors say to make a big pot of coffee and wait for Texas. Well, maybe. And just maybe the news channels will call the vote after 12% of the returns are in. Then we can watch some real entertainment instead of these presidential wannabees who are even resorting to being on Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. And the late night talk shows. That tells me how serious they are about what the Oval Office is all about.

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BIBLE STUDY: Romans 13:1-14

Paul tells us what to do with children of men in this chapter -- that is, the rulers of earthly powers and authorities.

We're supposed to pay our taxes. We're supposed to pay our bills. We're not supposed to commit adultery; We're not supposed to murder anyone. We're not supposed to steal. We're not supposed to covet. Whatever other commandments there are, we're supposed to mind them.

Because when we do that, we are heeding the one big rule that Jesus Christ has given us: Love one another. (from verses 1-10)

In fact, we're supposed to love other people just like we love ourselves. Unless you have a self-esteem crisis going on, that would be a lot of love. Without being what Matthew Henry would call "vainglorious," we tend to think pretty highly of ourselves. I don't mean that in an arrogant way. If you don't think this might be true, just watch out for your reaction when someone steps on your human little toes.

Keep in mind that at the time Paul wrote this Letter to the Romans in the early spring of 57 A.D., Nero had been emperor of Rome for some three years. Nero was declared an adult at the age of 14 and ascended to the throne when he was 16. Rome burned in 64 A.D. Nero's caesarship ended in 68 A.D. when he is reported to have committed suicide. The revolt of the Jews against Rome was in 70 A.D.

That's just to give you an idea of what was happening in Rome during this time period. I don't think that Paul was holding a politically savvy point of view when he said to obey the rulers and authorities.

In the first place, Paul wasn't intimidated by the local rulers. Even the ones who, like Nero, were persecuting the Christians. Paul was perfectly willing to die for Christ. He has said more than once in his writings that his sufferings on account of Christ was a way of honoring Christ and upholding Christ's memory.

No. What Paul was reminding us is that God is the kingmaker. There is a cross-reference in this chapter to Daniel 2:21 -- He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding... ESV

And another cross reference to John 19:11 -- Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin." ESV

Paul tells the Romans to "wake up folks". In verse 11b-12: The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

My Concordia Study Bible says that this passage refers to the early Christian's belief that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ had ushered in a new time. This new time has to do with a period of waiting for Christ to return. We go into the end times, not knowing exactly when Christ will return -- because only our Heavenly Father knows that -- but warned that we should be ready at any given hour of the day. (p. 1738)

We should live our lives out here in the light -- not doing skulking about things that are done under the blanket of darkness.

He closes the chapter with this thought in verse 14: Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Discussion:

No matter where you are living in the world, there is political upheaval at this time. New elections. Regime changes. In light of today's Bible Study, can you see where God could be placing leaders -- good or bad -- positive or negative -- for spiritual growth within those countries?

Why do you think God would purposely set about a political change that would be a negative influence on citizens within a country? If you agree with the premise that we need conflict so that we can crystallize our point of view, does this help in your resolution of God's influence in the political arena?

We pray: Oh Lord, I pray for a God-fearing candidate to be successful in a bid for the White House. I pray that the new president of the United States will be someone who does not worship himself or herself as a self-made little god. Rather, I pray that someone who lives to serve you within a political arena will surface as the front-runner.

I pray that you will restore a strong Christian faith to the congressional leadership of the United States congress.

I pray that you will grant a Godly peace to form the relationships with all our allies. I pray that this peace will permeate the governments throughout the world.

I pray for our military personnel who serve us around the world. Keep them safe, Oh Lord. And I thank you for each and every person who has come forward to protect our country. Amen.

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8:30 am          Comments

Monday, March 3, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

I was so disappointed that Emma wasn't on, as promised, last night.

Instead, what I got was Masterpiece Classics shorter program on how the Jane Austen novels were recreated for the screen. There are six Austen novels in total. I learned that since the time the first one was published, back in the early 1800s, she has never been out of print.

What happens is every once in a while a blockbuster film is remade and people go read the book. Then, because it's so delicious -- not that I'm a bookworm, mind you -- that people then go looking for her other books.

And pretty soon, you've read all her books, then start re-reading them. I would think that if a modern writer wanted a sure-fire success "formula," Jane Austen's intrigue would work.

The only modern writer who has even remotely come close is Victoria Holt. My mother had ever Holt novel that was written and the collection was a favorite item from her library. It was fun to read all the Holt novels because I could imagine my mother's reactions as I read the books.

But I squeezed reading Emma into last week. And also went over the highlights of Pride and Prejudice. Strained my poor little eyeballs so much that they looked like the interstate highway system by the end of the week.

I'll be running over to church after lunch for the Ladies Aid meeting. Don't know for sure what's on the agenda. We had the Altar Guild training meeting yesterday after church. So that's taken care of. That was mostly to show us new people where everything is and what to do if, for some reason, we run out of communion wine on the Sundays when it's my turn, and where the dripless spring-loaded candles are stored. And not to wad up the fair linen cloth and put it under the floral arrangements on the altar. (Somebody actually did that, which is what prompted the need for the meeting.)

We finished our stint as greeters before church on Sunday. We thought -- silly us -- that we just needed to be there fifteen minutes or so before the Sunday morning service. I mean everybody knows that Lutherans arrive at church within the last five to eight minutes before the service. And since there is practically assigned seating, it's a simple matter of dashing on in to the sanctuary to sit where they have always sat. Well, we were gently told that greeters should arrive before Sunday School because most families arrive then and they like to get their bulletins then.

See, it's all the little things that new people have to learn. And those traditions change from congregation to congregation. I mean, we always sit on the lectern side. Always have. No matter which church we've belonged to. That used to be called the "female side," mind you. That was because the old wood stove was on the right, or pulpit side. Word is that women, with their long skirts and petticoats, were plenty warm and didn't need heat from a stove. But men wore knee breeches. Maybe their stockings left their spindly little legs shivering. Don't know.

Anyway, just to shake things up (for ourselves) we ought to go over to the pulpit side one of these Sundays. We could arrive just a bit early and see if it feels all that uncomfortable. Nah. Third pew, lectern side is where we belong. It's the Reinheimer Lutheran way.

We had a kind of theater in the round new modern church where we used to go. We liked to sit in the tenth row, center section. Always did from the first Sunday that we attended.

Anyway, we like to sense of community that belonging to a church brings us. It's important to associate with friends who believe the same things we believe. Oh, I don't mean we're rubber stamps of each other. All you have to do is come to Pastor's Sunday Morning Discussion Group to realize that.

Well, it was 53 degrees outside when I started this blog an hour ago. Now it's 44 degrees and dropping. Something blowing in.

ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH: That way you don't have to worry about what you said to whom. I'll bet that's what Chef Robert Irvine wished he'd done. He's the chef on Food Network's Dinner: Impossible. He claimed that he had once cooked for Princess Diana. Not! You've been found out, there guy. I liked that show too. Food Network isn't going to renew his contract and in the immortal words of The Donald: You're fired!

BIBLE STUDY: Romans 12:1-21

Paul begins the third theme of his Letter to the Romans in chapter 12. This theme now turns toward how we can live a life that is pleasing to God. Though we are sinners from the moment of our birth, we can, however, live a godly life that is a reflection of our faith in God.

No longer are we required to kill a sacrificial animal and put it on an altar in order to please God, but rather, we are to live our own lives as a daily sacrifice because we have the Holy Spirit alive within us. In that sense, our bodies become "living sacrifices" of faith by everything that we do.

This message is a repeat of one he brought to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 6:20 -- for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body...

Matthew Henry puts it like this: ...if the soul be united to Christ by faith, the whole man is become a member of his spiritual body. Other vices may be conquered in fight; that here cautioned against, only by flight. And vast multitudes are cut off by this vice in its various forms and consequences. Its effects fall not only directly upon the body, but often upon the mind.

Our bodies have been redeemed from deserved condemnation and hopeless slavery by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We are to be clean, as vessels fitted for our Master's use. Being united to Christ as one spirit, and bought with a price of unspeakable value, the believer should consider himself as wholly the Lord's, by the strongest ties. May we make it our business, to the latest day and hour of our lives, to glorify God with our bodies, and with our spirits.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=54&source=2&seq=i.53.6.3

And how many times have I heard the question asked that they want to know what God's plan, or purpose, or will is for their lives.

Listen to what Paul says about this in verse 2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God's will doesn't include lust of running after wealth or egotistically looking for applause or compliments. God's will doesn't include thirst for power. All these things will die away eventually.

What will not die is God's love.

Matthew Henry says that unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain an unfruitful professor. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the god and prince of it.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=70&source=2&seq=i.69.2.4

Incidentally, Matthew Henry's complete commentary of the Bible can be found at this site: http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/MatthewHenryConcise/

We want to keep renewing ourselves. This regenerates our spiritual nature. Paul would tell the Colossians in Col. 3:10 -- ...put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.ESV

Paul brings this strong word of caution to the Romans in verse 3: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

There's that warning not to get too uppity again. After all, these gifts have all come from God, so how could anyone get any kind of a superior attitude about a gift that has been received. It's not like we can create these gifts for ourselves. No. They are given to us to build God's kingdom here on earth. And we are to look at ourselves with sober judgment as we use these gifts.  

But what is this measure of faith that Paul is talking about? These measures of faith are not ours to keep for ourselves. God has given them to us so that we can help others restore their lives.

This is what we are called to do.

This is why we are given a measure of faith. What that measure is depends on the abilities we are challenged with.  

Christ used the metaphor in his parable of the talents in Matthew 25. If you recall, a man was going on a journey so he called his servants to him and gave them a kind of power of attorney over great amounts of funds.

In Matthew 15:15-17 we learn: To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

Eventually the master came back and called the servants to him. He wanted to know how the servants had made out in the management of the money. The master was happy with the two who had gotten a return on the money, but the guy who put his one talent in the ground?

It could come under the heading of "What were you thinking?"

The master was so unhappy with this  lazy servant who didn't even make an effort to work on appreciating the money's value that he took the talent away from him and gave it to the servant who had ten talents.

Then the master had the whiny servant thrown outside into the darkness. I'm guess outside the city walls where there weren't any streetlights. Out there in the loneliness of utter darkness, there was "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Maybe wolves or wild animals. Anyway it wasn't a safe place and this is where the story ends.

Except to say that a "talent" is a lot of money. It was worth about the same as twenty years' salary for a laborer. In today's vernacular, it takes about 7 years for an investment to double. But the guy who dug a hole in the ground was foolish indeed.

But what does that say about us when God gifts us with a measure of faith and we don't even try to bring people to Christ?

I've heard people say things like they could do a better job if they had "that person's" talent, etc.

Well, Paul had an answer to this kind of thinking, for in verses 4-5 he compares the different gifts to different parts of the body. The brain has a function that is uniquely different from the feet, and the stomach's assigned chore is much different from the lungs. Just watch a doctor get excited when the lungs and stomach get their roles mixed up! Food is not supposed to get into the lungs. It could even be deadly if it does.

It's the same with the the gifts of grace, Paul says, in verses 6-8. If a person's gift is serving, let him serve. If it's teaching, let him teach, etc.

We are to keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord, Paul says in verse 11.

Paul then says, in verses 12-13: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

In verses 14-16 are things that we are to do:

Bless those who persecute you...
Rejoice with those who rejoice...
Mourn with those who mourn...
Live in harmony with one another.

That's a challenging list. Have you ever tried to bless people when they are making fun of you or bullying you or being a kind of in-your-face pest?

Being happy with people who are happy is easy but how many times have you avoided going to a funeral or a wake because you just didn't know what to say?

But living in harmony with our neighbors includes all those things. It also includes things Paul says we shouldn't do in verses 16b-17:

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

This last one is a tough truth to live by. We're humans. We like to get even. Somewhere in the back of our sinful little brain, we even think we have the right to get even.

But think about this -- whatever it is that has been done to us -- or not done for us -- is a human condition. It's a flesh and blood anguish that pulls us ever closer toward Satan.

And flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God. That heartache that you feel is not going to heaven with you. That revenge you feel is your right to pronounce and deliver is not going to heaven with you either. Those are flesh and blood indulgences.

Let them go. Give them to God because this is what he say in Proverbs 20:22 -- Do not say, "I will repay evil" -- wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

So answer me this: Do you truly believe God is the Lord of your life? When you say that God is in charge of the universe as well as your life, do you really, honestly believe it?

If you believe that, then give up this revenge that you neither have the authority nor the brilliance to deliver. Revenge is not your job. It will only magnify your heartache. 

It will keep you from growing the talent that God has given you. And when you have to explain to God why you only have that one little measly talent that he left you with because you were too busy nurturing a heartache instead of multiplying the talent (that is, growing the kingdom of God), prepare yourself to see a God who is disappointed in you.

Discussion:

We walk our lives on parallel paths. On one path is the worshipful, earnest Christian who wants more than anything to use all those talents that God has gifted us with.

Then there's the other path that we, in our humanness, stumble along on. It is the treacherous path that Satan trips along with us. The more talents we have -- the more spiritual gifts we have -- the more hurdles Satan puts on this path. He'd like to see us fail completely.

Can you think of any obstacles you may have that are keeping you locked up with vengeful thoughts? What would it take to let these thoughts go. Do you think God could handle this one problem in your life if you'd turn it over to him? Or do you think that God won't be vengeful enough? What would you truly like for God to do?

We pray: Oh Lord, I have some real problems with people that you have put in the path of my life. I often wonder just what you had in mind with all that because I know there are no coincidences in the way you line things up. Give me a forgiving heart, O Lord, and where I have not forgiven, I pray that you will send your Holy Spirit to my heart and sweep out all those ugly, sinful cobwebs that are stumbling stones in my relationship with you. Amen.

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9:20 am          Comments

Saturday, March 1, 2008

MY LIFE IN INK --

Soups on! The cooking fragrances wafting out of the kitchen come all the way down into the office in the basement. This is a 7-bean red cabbage medley. I saw the Barefoot Contessa making a cabbage soup the other day that looked absolutely delicious, then she added white beans just to top it off.

I don't know what she called it, but the fragrances from her kitchen food lab just about popped through the TV. This is going to almost be a vegetarian day, except for the fudging I did with the bacon pieces in the skillet the gave just enough lubricant for the onion and celery chunks to sweat out their flavorful goodness.

It ought to be good for our cholesterol count. We don't eat a fraction of the meat that we used to. Quint and I both fight genetics on that one so we're pretty careful. But once in a while, there's just nothing that can beat a good old steak on the grill. We're saving up cholesterol credits for that since the weather it starting to be more welcoming.

It's going to get up in the 60s today -- rumor has it.

Quint had to go to the car dealer first thing this morning. Freddie's (that's what we call our Focus) passenger door handle decided it was going to be contrary. So he's sitting in the back seat for most trips about town. I do a great deal of the driving -- mainly because I get really bored just sitting over there on the passenger side. But then, I could knit. That would be good when my hyper self kicks in.

But for now, it would look too much like he's being chauffeured about. We tried it yesterday on the way from the IGA. What a back seat driver he turned out to be! He ought to just watch it. I have a command central button on the driver's door that locks everything down. I could leave him sitting back there for hours. That is, unless he tried to climb over the seat and get out on the drivers side. But I wouldn't want to do that to him. He'd probably get mad and pout and all that stuff.

Besides, I've never seen Quint really really upset, like out loud mad, but I don't think I would ever want him to be mad at me. He'd probably blow up. Then I'd have a big mess to clean up. Better to keep him happy, I always say. I know -- that's taking the easy way out, but it's how our marriage has wonderfully survived all these thirty some odd years. There's just not that much going on that's worth a hill of beans, my grandma used to say. Happy is a lot more fun!  

##

BIBLE STUDY: Romans 11:1-36

This chapter completes the second of three themes that Paul brings to the Romans in his letter.

The first theme, in chapters 1-8, is focused on righteousness from God, justification through Christ, and sanctification.

In this second movement, so to speak, Paul is focused on tearing away this divide between the Jews and the Gentiles, and the Jews rejection of Christ being Lord of all -- Jews and Gentiles alike.

And the third theme (which we'll begin on Monday that will continue through the 16th chapter) will be about how we can all practice a righteous life.

As we go through this chapter 11, I want you to think about the present-day mess that the world is in. There are civil wars on the continent of Africa. There are despots claiming to be the most powerful ruler in the world. There are many little "king tuts" running for president here in the United States, each one claiming to be "the enlightened one."

Except for his amusement, I have to wonder why God even allows all the shenanigans to go on. Part of the answer to that question is embedded in Paul's writings here in the 11th chapter of this letter to the Romans.

So put your thinking cap on, sharpen your pencils and get your tablets out. This is going to be an quick-step adventure! Paul is at his best in this chapter. He's rested. He's sharp. He's about to bring all his points together into one big Spirit-driven mountain of a point.

From the first verse of this chapter, Paul uses his own biography to point out that God does not reject his people. Paul says, "I'm a descendant of Abraham too." Specifically, Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.

And then in verses 2-3, Paul says: God did not reject his people whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah -- how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me."

The emphasis on "foreknew" is mine.

Paul was talking about "foreknowledge" back in 8:29 -- For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

There is a strong clue here that God knew who was going to be born on this earth before he even made the heavens and the earth.

I am talking about the creation of our souls; not our bodies of flesh. Our soul is the very essence of our peopleness.

I have a cross reference here to 1 Samual 12:22 -- For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.ESV

This bible reference enjoys an explanation in Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible: At Samuel's word, God sent thunder and rain, at a season of the year when, in that country, the like was not seen. This was to convince them they had done wickedly in asking a king; not only by its coming at an unusual time, in wheat harvest, and on a clear day, but by the prophet's giving notice of it before. He showed their folly in desiring a king to save them, rather than God, or Samuel; promising themselves more from an arm of flesh, than from the arm of God, or from the power of prayer.

So here were those obstinate Israelites again. God sent Samuel to bring them back into his fold. But how in the world could Samuel do that? These Israelites were asking the king for help. They were worshiping the king. Pure folly, says Samuel!

Then Samuel tells the Israelites that he's going to show them the real power -- the power from God. God is going to bring a thunder-clapping huge big old storm right out there in the fields on a bright sunny day!

Will that make believers out of you?

The Israelites wondered all right. Was their human ruler going to be able to do as mighty a thing as Samuel could do just by praying?

Back to Matthew Henry's comments: It startled them very much. Some will not be brought to see their sins by any gentler methods than storms and thunders. They entreat Samuel to pray for them. Now they see their need of him whom shortly before they slighted.

Thus many who will not have Christ to reign over them, would yet be glad to have him intercede for them, to turn away the wrath of god.

Samuel aims to confirm the people in their religion. Whatever we make a god of, we shall find it deceive us.

Creatures in their own places are good; but when put in God's place, they are vain things.

We sin if we restrain prayer, and in particular if we cease praying for the church. They only asked him to pray for them; but he promises to do more, to teach them. He urges that they were bound in gratitude to serve God, considering what great things he had done for them; and that they were bound in interest to serve him, considering what he would do against them, if they should still do wickedly.

Thus, as a faithful watchman, he gave them warning, and so delivered his own soul. If we consider what great things the Lord hath done for us, especially in the great work of redemption, we can neither want motive, encouragement, nor assistance in serving him.

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=26&source=2&seq=i.9.12.3

Curious, don't you think, that every time there is a rejection by the Israelites, God sends a powerful spokesman to get them back on track.

God sent Samuel to help the Jews and now he's put Paul in the big middle of them.

In so many instances, as we read through the Bible, we see how God overruled the Israelites in their unbelief. He put them out there in the desert to wander around until they could come to the power of their belief again.

And in this first century of Christianity, God is again in a position where he needs to powerfully overrule the Jews' lack of acceptance of the Gentiles.

For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage -- Psalm 94:14. ESV

God did not let harm come to Elijah when he prayed for help and God was not going to let the Jews overcome the Apostle Paul either. 

God said to Elijah, in verse 4b: I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

Not to worry then. There was always a remnant remaining. There was always this incredible ability to start over, if need be. Same is true in Paul's time. Listen to what Paul says in verses 5-6: So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works: if it were, grace would no longer be grace. NIV

So this is the thought that God must now overrule -- a remnant has been chosen by grace. That remnant is extended to the Gentiles. They didn't earn it any more than the Jews earned their grace. 

Grace is a gift. You can't earn a gift. If you get a gift because of something you've done (works), then you have to call it something else. It would then become a supplemental benefit, like a bonus for a job well done. 

This acceptance of God's gift of grace will become a stumbling block, as Paul says when he reads the quote from David in verse 9: May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. NIV -- Psalms 69:22-23

Paul then turns his attention to the Gentiles. He says in verse 11b: ...because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

Paul gives a fuller explanation in verses 13-14: I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy. NIV

Paul is referring back to a passage in Acts 9:15 -- But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. ESV

Matthew Henry says: A good work was begun in Saul, when he was brought to Christ's feet with those words, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"

And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that.

Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proud infidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are these to all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of such prayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of free salvation!

Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done; before, he had said his prayers, now, he prayed them.

Regenerating grace sets people on praying; you may as well find a living man without breath, as a living Christian without prayer....The teaching of the Hoy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and rice from the understanding; then the sinner becomes a new creature, and endeavors to recommend the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions (Acts 9:23-31).

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=52&source=2&seq=i.51.9.2

Paul then likens his ministry to a kind of horticultural lesson when he talks about the Gentiles being grafted onto the trunk of the wild olive tree which represented the Israelites, in verses 19-21: You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."

Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.

For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. NIV

Paul then warns the Gentiles not to get too uppity because their continued favor in God's eyes is based on God's kindness. And it's true that the message that Paul is bringing them is because the Jews rejected Paul's message. But they could be cut off too. The matter of the Jewish question rests on whether or not they persist in their unbelief. If they don't, God can graft them back onto the trunk again.

Paul brings the promise of God to all the Jews in verses 26b-27: The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.

Paul says in verse 29 that God's gifts and God's call are irrevocable. After all, Paul explains in verses 30-32: Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. NIV

Paul then wraps up this chapter with a doxology which is a short expression of praise to God. Doxologies were in wide use both in the Jewish synagogue as well as in Christian worship services. They continue to play a large part of the worship in liturgical churches, for hymns of praise are based on Biblical passages set to music. 

Most common of the doxologies today is the Common Doxology:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Go to this website and click on the box in the upper left corner for music to this doxology: http://www.joyfulministry.com/doxolf.htm

This particular doxology is based on Psalm 86:12 and has remained the most frequently sung words of praise for more than three hundred years. The words were written by a seventeenth century Anglican Bishop named Thomas Ken.

Paul's doxology is found in verses 33-36:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who have ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Discussion:

We are so blessed to be one of God's chosen people. What are some of the things you pray for when you pray for the church every day?

Here are some suggestions:

Pastor
Church leaders (trustees, elders, deacons, other lay leaders)
Musical leaders
Prayer partners
Children to come to the Lord
Believers to renew their path to faith

What can you add to this list?

Discuss what you think is meant by a "stumbling block" as Paul quotes from Psalm 69:22-23. We might use the phrase "tipping point" as a similar expression today.

Can you just imagine the challenges that Paul faced in trying to reconcile the Jews and Gentiles into one worshiping group of believers? If you were faced with such challenges, how would you go about it?

Fortunately for Paul, he had the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide him in his challenging work.

So do you. Every day of your life, you have the availability of the Holy Spirit to be with you, to guide you, to equip you for all that God wants you to do here on earth. Like Paul, pray the prayer, "What do you want me to do, Lord." But pray the prayer -- don't say the prayer. There's a big difference. When you're praying your prayers, you won't feel like you're talking to a blank wall, like when you're just saying them.

We pray: O Lord, no matter how much I try, I just can't seem to get it right. Please come into my heart and give me a glimpse of what it is you would have me do. I want to serve you. I pray that you would guide me so that I will serve you -- not just when it's convenient for me, or when I want to -- but when you need for me to do what you want me to do.

I pray for all the pastors and teachers and counselors who guide others to you. Keep them strong and always in a working faith. I pray for strength and health for them so that they can perform their work diligently. Amen.

##

WE ARE LOSING THE GREATEST GENERATION -- from A. Stubbe -- USN, Ret.
written by: CPT. Stephen R. Ellison, M.D., US Army

I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military Level One - Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX and they care for civilian emergencies as well as military personnel. San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work.

Most often, it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash.

Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed. With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient. Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brought in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what citizens of this age group represented.

I saw Saving Private Ryan. I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage, but by the sacrifices of so many. I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he'd been a good man.

I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Dept. and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless.

Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences. They would never bring up the subject without the inquiry. I have been privileged to an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Dept. encounter. These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital.

There was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line in her arm. She remained calm and poised, despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins. She was what we call a "hard stick." As the medic made another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes. She simply said, "Auschwitz." Many of later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic in his many attempts. How different was the response from the person who'd seen unspeakable suffering.

Also, there was this long retired Colonel, who as a young officer had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific Island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor cut on his head from a fall at his home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high priority ambulance patients. Still spry for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a taxi to take him home, then he realized his ambulance had brought him without a wallet. He asked if he could use the phone to make a long distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles away. With great pride we told him that he could not, as he'd done enough for his country and the least we could do was get him a taxi home, even if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only regret was that my shift wouldn't end for several hours, and I couldn't drive him myself.

I was there the night M/Sgt. Roy Benavidez came through the Emergency Dept. for the last time. He was very sick. I was not the doctor taking care of him, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand. I said nothing. He was so sick, he didn't even know I was there. I'd read his Congressional Medal of Honor citation and I wanted to shake his hand. He died a few days later.

The gentleman who served with Merrill's Marauders,

the survivor of the Bataan Death March,

the survivor of Omaha Beach,

the 101 year old WWI veteran,

the former POW held in frozen North Korea,

the former Special Forces medic -- now with non-operable liver cancer,

the former Viet Name Corps Commander.

I remember these citizens.

I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, but now I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.

I have seen a Congress that would turn their back on these individuals who've sacrificed so much to protect our liberty. I see later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties, won with such sacrifice.

It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing individuals when I encounter them in our Emergency Dept. Their response to these particular citizens has made me think that perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.

My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation, and this nation knows not what it is losing. Our uncaring government and ungrateful citizen populace should all take note. We should all remember that we must "Earn this."

##

WITTY INSULTS -- from Rickey Roux

The exchange between Churchill and Lady Astor:

She said, If you were my husband, I'd give you poison. And he said, If you were my wife, I'd take it.

Gladstone, a member of Parliament, to Benjamin Disraeli: Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.

That depends, sir, said Disraeli, on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.

He had delusions of adequacy. -- Walter Kerr

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. -- Winston Churchill

A modest little person, with much to be modest about. -- Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. -- Clarence Darrow

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary. -- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? -- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it. -- Moses Hadas

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. -- Abraham Lincoln

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. -- Mark Twain

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. -- Oscar Wilde

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend. If you have one. -- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

Cannot possible attend first night, will attend second. If there is one. -- Winston Churchill, in response to Shaw.

I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here. -- Stephen Bishop

He is a self-made man and worships his creator. -- John Bright

I just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial. -- Irvin S. Cobb

He is not only himself, he is the cause of dullness in others. -- Samuel Johnson

He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up. -- Paul Keating

There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure. -- Jack E. Leonard

He has the attention span of a lightning bolt. -- Robert Redford

They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. -- Thomas Brackett Reed

In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily. -- Charles, Count Talleyrand

He loves nature in spite of what it did to him. -- Forrest Tucker

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it? -- Mark Twain

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork. -- Mae West

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. -- Oscar Wilde

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts -- for support rather than illumination. -- Andrew Lang

He has Van Gogh's ear for music. -- Billy Wilder

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it. -- Groucho Marx

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11:08 am          Comments


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We welcome July readers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam and United States

This video is the most beautiful depiction of what happens in the womb when the baby is developing and growing. The video was developed by Yale professor Alexander Tsiaras. Just beautiful. Warning, though. Some of the images are graphic. But nothing gross. It is just a reminder to me that life is a beautiful baby and life is absolutely precious.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70&feature=player_embedded#!

July 29, 2012

Update on Quint:
He is making an incredible recovery. The skin cancer is essentially gone. When we met with the surgeon for a post-op appointment on Friday, we learned that the biopsy of the frozen section shows all the cancer was removed. The incision is healing nicely. It's about a 6" incision down the side of his face in front of the left ear. The doctor put so many stitches in that any scar is hardly visible. Thanks to all for prayers you have been lifting up for his health. The surgeon says there are dissolving stitches in three levels of tissue. We also met with our oncologist last week and he says the lymphocitic/leukemia will continue to make Quint vulnerable to skin cancers. Please keep him in your prayers so that all his cancers, and mine as well, will remain in remission.

I received the following about a child's reason for why he believes in God from our friends, John and Sherre, in Wichita, KS:

Little Boy's Explanation of God

                                He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment,

                                to 'explain God.'

                                I wonder if any of us

                                could have done as well? 

                                                          

                                'One of God's main jobs is making people.

                                He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there
will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I
think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable
time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'

                                'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some
people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to
the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in
his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'

                                'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you
shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you
couldn't have.'

                                'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista [California]. At least
there aren't any who come to our church.'

                                'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles
and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him
preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his
father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'

                                'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him
he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps
his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of
and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more
important.'

                                'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of
them is on duty all the time.'

                                'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to
make happy, it's God!

                                Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And
besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach untilnoon anyway.'

                                'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your
parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when
you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big
kids.'

                                'But. . .you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can
take me back anytime he pleases.

                                And...that's why I believe in God.'

July 13, 2012

Quint is recuperating from surgery on July 11, 2012. Surgeon removed a growth on left cheek that turned out to be squamous cell cancer. Prognosis is good because doctor says he got good margins. Please continue to pray for him. He has a 4" incision on left cheek from about the corner of his eye all the way down to jawbone. Looks worse than it is.

In another matter, this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2172551/Art-genius-Nine-year-old-painter-tipped-greatness-buyers-world-snap-work.html shows some incredible artwork that a young, 9-year old in England, artist has painted and his work is beginning to sell handsomely.



July 1, 2012

I'm a Lutheran and I sure wish the Lutheran Church had authored this video or one like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=D9vQt6IXXaM&hd

No matter, it's a message that needs saying so hats off to the Catholic church!

On another subject, the temperature here in Middle Illinois at 6 p.m. as 102.8 degrees. That's really hot.

Stay safe out there. If you do not have air conditioning, or if your AC goes out in this heat, sit in a tub of cool water. It will do wonders pulling heat out of your body. And let's remember in prayers all those folks on the eastern seaboard who don't have electricity. They don't even have fans to plug in.

Kind of reminds me of going to church when I was a kid. Oh, was that hot. And remember those hand fans that funeral homes gave out free to churches? We wore ours out.

June 24, 2012

The heat is the story here in the Midwest part of the United States. I can't tell you when the last time there was rain, but the corn stalks are starting to look pretty wilted. The word "parched" comes to mind. The beans don't look any better either.

So the big conclusion that some people have arrived at is that God is punishing the United States because so many people have turned away from Him?

Oh really?

Who said.

And how many?

These gloom and doomers pontificate about how we're all going to die and go to hell can't give any numbers. Can't offer any hope.

Well, folks, don't you believe it. God is a God of love. He wants all of us to be saved.

And to those people who think they can define the reasoning of God are being sacrilegious. They are talking when they should be listing to God.

My God is a God of love. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for our sins. Because of that, we are assured of salvation and life eternal.

But there are those who are going through these crises of faith. They're noisy. When God talks to you, listen to Him. It's that still, small voice inside you. And don't believe the naysayers who think they have he last word on what means and what God intends to do. They don't know. They just don't know.

Your faith is what will bring you closer to God. Let Him into your hearts and listen to Him.

June 6, 2012

We don't laugh enough. We are not light hearted enough. Way too serious. Oh, there are times when serious is good for you, but there are many more days when we just are not enjoying a good laugh.

So someone sent me a link to Mark Lowry. He's a Christian comedian and good for a real belly laugh, I can guarantee you.

Here's the link: http://jesus-loves-you.org/?p=6641

I'm going to You Tube and search for him and see if he's got other material. He's really funny.

May 15, 2012

Our U.S. Constitution is not flawed. It's not dead. It's not irrelevant!

Those who think it's out of touch with today's "modern thought" fail to realize that the U.S. Constitution is modernized each time the United States Supreme Court reviews a law or an incident and decides whether the rights of our citizens are abridged or impeached.

The language of the U.S. Constitution does, in fact, reside in a little book small enough to fit inside a man's jacket pocket or in a lady's handbag. However, volumes and volumes of interpretive material fills libraries. Interpretation by the sitting Justices keeps our Constitution up-to-date.

May 12, 2012

Our God is awesome! God controls the waters and the seas. Take a look at this video of the angry sea. http://www.dump.com/angryseas/

May 10, 2012

http://www.civilwar.org/maps/

I am in the process of researching the involvement and the role that the National Road (U.S. 40) played in military activities -- specifically troop movements. If you know of any such movements, please email me at jane@janereinheimer.com and put "National Road info" in the subject line. I'd be ever so grateful. If you do not want your name used, be sure to tell me. Otherwise, I'd like to share that you found the information. This is for a funding opportunity for Effingham County and it will focus on the role that the National Road has played in the significance of Effingham.



April 27, 2012

Well, that was a nice little rest.

Since I've last posted, I've fretted that frost would get my lovely irises. It didn't. Nor did the frost chip away at my roses. I have never had roses blooming in April before. They have exploded into full bloom. Bright red blooms against our white house. Wow!

And the irises are just as beautiful. I have some really deep purple irises, light lavender, some two-toned purple and white, bright yellow, a lighter lemon chiffon color, a pink iris and a peach colored one that is a double.

The spirea finally decided it would bloom too.

All in all, considering that I did absolutely nothing last year in the flower bed, it's amazing that my little troopers have done as well as they have. The irises apparently are no longer upset with me for snipping them back at the end of January and early February. Again in March when they started sending up things that looked like they'd bloom.

We've still had frost tucked in between 80 degree days but nothing serious enough to hurt my darling little flowers.

Quint and I are doing well. We continue to see our oncologist every three months and get blood work to check markers for cancer that might have decided to invade us again. So far, so good. Platelet counts are coming back to normal and we're working on our stamina.

I do have to take some medication for five years -- well, four years now -- that inhibits estrogen. It will keep breast cancer from recurring. Problem is, it makes the long bones in my legs and muscles in the thighs really ache. Nothing that can't be tolerated though. Compared to the benefits of what the medicine does for me, I'd say I came out the winner at this point.

Quint's lymphoma is still in remission too, so we're pretty health for the shape we're in.

And now I'm going to fix us a snack of yogurt, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas and walnuts. Then we're going to watch some spy thrillers on Netflix streaming.

Nice to be back and thank you for not giving up on me.

April 10, 2012

I am getting over the grandaddy of all colds. I expect to be better by morning, after having laid around all day today. Finally just gave it up and stayed in bed.

Until now, that is.

And you know how I love kids and their entrepreneural spirit. Well, here's a video of a young lad in east LA who build an arcade out of cardboard boxes in his dad's auto parts store. His name is Caine and he's 9 years old. It's just precious! http://games.yahoo.com/blogs/unplugged/nine-old-cardboard-arcade-launches-college-fund-182844242.html

Oh, and one other thing before I head back to my comfy easy chair. We have frost warnings for tonight. 30 degrees! My irises and roses are blooming. Wonder how that's going to set with them.

I just thought I'd mention something about all those spam emails and telemarketer calls you may be getting. Even if you're signed up for "do not call" lists, you still can get calls. Here's how. If you take part in an online voting request, or if you call to participate in a TV vote, you are setting up what is known as a "special relationship." Special relationships with a state allows any advertiser of that station of promo outfit to put you on their callers who are exempt from the "do not call" status.

If you live in Illinois and you get a telemarketer call, just tell the caller that Illinois is a "do not call" state and you do not want to be on their lists. They are required to hang up at that point. I've tried it and it works.

Also, here's a tip for getting rid of all those preapproved gimmicks that find their way into your mailbox. When I get the offers, the first thing I do is draw a big diagnonal line through the offer and write VOID on it. Then I stuff the document back into the self-addressed postage paid envelope that they provide. The advertisers are going to stop sending you stuff pretty quick rather than pay postage twice.

April 5, 2012

It's Maundy Thursday - the first part of the Easter trilogy.

Maundy Thursday was the night when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and commemorated the event that we've followed in the Lutheran Church for ages since that time.

When I was confirmed on Palm Sunday many years ago, Maundy Thursday was the first opportunity I was given as a new confirmant to take my first communion. It was an awesome experience then, and it continues to be every chance I get.

I hope that it is the same for you as you draw near to the Easter story.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. Part 2 with the significance of Christ dying on the cross for our sins.

And then, of course, there's Easter Sunday when we celebrate Christ's resurrection.

Sin and death no longer have a hold on us because Christ died for our sins.

April 4, 2012

Ready to watch a miracle? Here's a video showing a woman in an SUV sinking. She couldn't swim. The SUV sank. But the miracle is not that she was somehow pulled from the SUV but the after-story: http://salesianity.blogspot.com/2012/04/woman-drowning-in-her-suv-is.html --

May the blessings of Easter catch you up in the miracles going around you every day. Life is a miracle. God brings miracles to us today just as He did thousands of years ago when Jesus died and rose again. I pray that you will get caught up in the miracle of the Easter story all over again. Christ died for our sins and rose again, and because He rose again, we have eternal life guaranteed to us by our Heavenly Father.

April 2, 2012

Want to know what video of a couple of famous dancers has gotten more than 118 million hits? None other than the big routine from Dirty Dancing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpmILPAcRQo&feature=related

Another trivia question that some of you may know the answer to has to do with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's failure at sea. April 15 is the date of this tragedy. If you thought most of the folks on board perished in the icy waters, you'll be surprised to learn that only half died. Well, maybe "only" is not a good word. One would be too many on a ship that was touted as unsinkable. There were 2,223 passengers and crew. 1,517 died. A little more than half.

April 1, 2012

If you haven't heard this song by the Barn Again Gang -- On My Father's side -- am sure you'll enjoy it. And thanks to you, Joyce from Frankfort, IL for sending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5ddoyfn6g4

And here's Kaitlyn Maher, a 4-year old, singing in America's Got Talent. Mind you, she's had 26,585,501 hits on her debut on the national stage. She is absolutely adorable! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwAbtizFCzo&feature=related

Kaitlyn Maher again, this time singing Ave Maria - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR0AXNtwqZE&feature=related

And she got to sing for President and First Lady Laura Bush: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpt_UU96EG8&feature=related

Here she is singing the National Anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhD9kKb3hSM&feature=related



I have not ever heard the story about the "Praying Hands" so I am especially thankful to Cody in Warrensburg, MO for sending Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with
eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob,
the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost
eighteen hours a day at his tradeand any other paying chore he could find in the
neighborhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the elder children, Albrecht and
Albert, had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew
full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them
to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally
worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby
mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy.
Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he
would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or,
if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and
went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his
brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's
etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his
professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees
for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive
dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and
memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored
position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the
years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing
words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you
can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream,and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat,
tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while
he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no....no ..no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long
table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek,
he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look
... Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every
finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from
arthritis so badly In my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your
toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush.
No, brother ....for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful
portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, water colors, charcoals, woodcuts, and
copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great
that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works.
More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction
hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer
painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers
stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire
world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed
his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

March 30, 2012

I have to share with you that the operators of this web site have become increasingly frustration to work with. The way I see it, I have two choices: (1) shut down the site altogether and discontinue the blogs, or (2) find a site that is more responsive to what I want from a web site.

In the meantime, one of the questions that Jesus asked is #80 -- If you do not believe Moses' writings, how will you believe me? (John 5:47)

Old Testament writings often come under fire as being "irrelevant" or "out of date" or just "too old."

All of those excuses are flawed, in my view.

In the first place, the Word of God is eternal.

Because the Word is eternal, it transcends time and space.

For that reason, when you read the Bible, the breath of God is still on the paper; still on the words. The Bible is the Word of God. It will never get "too old" or "out of date."

Get into the Word. Absorb it; take it in. If you find any challenge whatsoever about understanding what some passages mean, then the Counselor will be sent to you, just for the asking. Just pray that Jesus will send you His Counselor to assist you in your readings.

Blessings to you in your spiritual journey through the Word of God.

March 27, 2012

Here is one of the most precious tapes I've ever heard of a child: http://www.maniacworld.com/stay-calm-dad.html From my friend Shirley in Arizona. It's just precious!

This is a video I found on my own. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rtt-TmReaw&feature=related I love the innocence of this little girl. I pray that she will hold onto her dreams all her life and never let anyone snatch them away from her.

God keeps the dreams of children in his right hand pocket. And woe be to those who steal the dreams of a child.

Today I am going to discuss Question #66 from Luke 18:7 -- Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?

In the first place, I consider myself one of God's chosen ones because I claim the inheritance of being a child of God.

And how did I get to be a child of God? Simple. I believe that Jesus Christ, God's only Son, died for my sins and offered me salvation. By doing this, He names says that I share in the inheritance of God's richest blessings.

And you most certainly can enjoy this same inheritance and become a Child of God by believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins too.

It's just that simple. You have only to believe.

This is my right, in God's own words. He says: Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? I believe that because I know that God does not lie. He's good for His promises and when He says He's going to secure my rights, what do I have to fear?

And do I call out to God day and night? Yes. In my car when I head out to work. I pray that some idiot does not plow into me head-on. I pray that I don't get tee-boned by someone running a red light or a stop sign.

I pray that when I enter that miraculous place of empty thoughts of what seems to be unconsciousness, that the veil will be lifted in the morning and I will re-awaken to a new day. Sleep itself is a miracle. We fall into a mindless abyss every night and awaken refreshed to a new day. Is that a miracle or what? How does God do that?

I remember reading or hearing this "what if" thought that when you awaken in the morning, what if the only things you had in your life were the things you thanked God for yesterday! Kind of put a new perspective on things for me. Instead of just nagging and nagging -- which I can be pretty good at -- for things I think I want, or things I think I need -- I stop every day and thank God for what He gives me. The gifts are enormous and I only get them because He is a gracious God. I certainly deserve nothing.

But all day and all night I talk to God. We have an ongoing conversation. Help me with this, please. Oh, and thank you for that. Or how about all those problems that you just can't seem to solve. Then He says, "I can help you with that." Or, after the problem is solved and I nod a quiet thank you, He says "All you had to do was ask."

God is my friend. This King of the Universe took notice of me when I was about four years old. That's when I started talking to Him in my head. I knew it was God because I learned about Him in Sunday School. My Sunday School teacher told me I could just talk to God simply like he was an ordinary person. I took her at her word and have never thought of God as anything but.

Even though I know for sure, now that I have a few more years on me, that God is nothing ordinary at all. But I also know that He is never too busy to secure my rights as one of His chosen ones.

Enjoy your day and rest easy in your sleep, dear friends. God is watching out for you.


March 26, 2012

Question #32 that Jesus asked was, "Could you not watch for me one brief hour?" -- Matt. 26:40

There are lots and lots of ways to travel through the Lenten season on the way to Calvary. And the reasons for doing things differently are many and varied.

People offer up the thought that they can worship anywhere. They feel just as close to God, they say, when they are listening to a beautiful piece of music, or walking through the woods in the late afternoon.

Those things are true.

But it seems to me that if you want to go down that path to Calvary, you ought to do it the way that Jesus wants you to do it. Not the way you think, in your not-so-infinite pseudo-wisdom of coming up with these cute little excuses. Cute, you think.

Truth is, Jesus wants you to go to your church, or your temple and watch with him there, in that place.

This question that Jesus asks from Matthew sounds like a plea to me. Couldn't you watch with me one hour?

Well, sure you could, if you thought it was important enough.

Quint and I go to Lenten services and the church is not even half full. Where is everybody? Working? Playing? Doing homework? Driving around? Out to dinner? Where are you? Those who couldn't come to this worshiping place to watch with Jesus one hour.

What if I told you that I had learned that Jesus was going to make one of those rare earthly appearances for one week only. He was actually going to come to church because He wanted to talk to me.

I'd move heaven and earth to get there on time. I want to meet this man while He's still alive. You bet I'd watch with him an hour. In fact, I'll stay up all night if he stuck around to talk to me.

And talks to me He does. When I'm sitting in that pew, I can almost feel his eyes burning a hole in my skin. Kind of at the back of my neck. I can almost feel his hand on my shoulder while he bends around to look at me and whispers to me, "I'm so glad you came tonight. I'm doing this all for you, you know."

He's my Savior. We're connected. It must break His heart to see so many empty pews when they should be overflowing with people who are willing to give Him one hour of their busy schedules.

"Why couldn't you watch with me one hour?" He asks. It's a question you'll have all of eternity to answer Him one day.

March 25, 2012

Now this is precious! It's a two year old dancing to Jailhouse Rock. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wt824D1Bqg He's got some good moves too.

March 24, 2012

At this time of year, one of my favorite places on earth is Kentucky when the dogwood and redbud are in full bloom -- and nowhere are they more beautiful than my home town -- Paducah, Kentucky.

Just look at these gorgeous photos and you'll see what I mean: http://www.terragalleria.com/america/south-east/kentucky/

These quips come from my cousin who lives in a small town not too far from Houston -- well, in Texas, 200 miles is a "small distance" I think: THE POSITIVE SIDE OF LIFE:                

                        Living on Earth is expensive, 
                        but it does include a free trip   
                        around the sun every year.    

                        How long a minute is
                        depends on what side of the
                        bathroom door you're on.   

                        Birthdays are good for you;
                        the more you have,
                        the longer you live.    

                        Happiness comes through doors you  
                        didn't even know you left open.    

                        Ever notice that the people who are late  
                        are often much jollier
                        than the people who  have  to wait for  them?    

                        Most of us go to our grave
                        with our music still inside of us.    

                        If WalMart is lowering prices every day,  
                        how come nothing is free yet?    

                        You may be only one person in the world,  
                        but you may also be the world to one person.    

                        Some mistakes are too much fun  
                        to only make once.    

                        Don't cry because it's over;  
                        smile because it happened.    

                        We could learn a lot from crayons:  
                        some are sharp, some are pretty,
                        some are dull, some have weird  names,
                        and all are different colors....but
                        they all exist very nicely in the same box.    

                        A truly happy person is one who  
                        can enjoy the scenery on a detour.    

                        Have an awesome day, and
                        know that someone
                        who thinks you're great 
                        has  thought about you today!..    

                        "And that person was me.".....  
                        Please don't keep this message
                        to yourself.....send  it to those  
                        who mean so  much to  you.... "NOW". 

Thank you, Frances. I love the one about some mistakes. Hope you don't have too many people out there who are all to eager to point each and every little mistake you make. Those, I think, are the ones who go to their graves with the music still living inside them. It's just too much "vinegar energy" to look for flaws in people. And God knows I have more than my share, it seems. But here's the thing: I don't make mistakes on purpose and I never make mistakes with the idea of making someone's misery index go up. I just thank God that I am surrounded by true friends who cut me some slack. You know the ones. They really care about you. I like the idea that we are all living in a big crayon box. That has to be one of those lessons learned in kindergarten. But then, I'm old enough to realize that we didn't have kindergarten when I started school.

I celebrated kicking off my educational pursuits by going down the big slide on the playground with a somersault from the top. I was grounded from recess for the rest of the week. 


These beautiful thoughts also come from Frances:
  
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW THAT IT IS CHRISTIAN PERSON WEEK AND YOU SHOULD SEND THIS TO
ALL BEAUTIFUL CHRISTIAN PEOPLE 


When I say that 'I am a Christian', I am not shouting that 'I am clean living. I'm
whispering 'I was lost, but now I'm found and forgiven.'

When I say 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that
I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I'm
weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have
failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too
visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of
heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou, I'm just a simple sinner who
received God's good grace, somehow!

Today is Beautiful Christian Person's Day.
Pretty is as Pretty does but, Beautiful is just plain Beautiful..

I'm supposed to send this to Beautiful People,
and you are one of them!!!


March 21, 2012

From the sermon text at our 5th Midweek Lenten Service in Matthew 28:16-20 comes the command of Jesus that we are to go into all the world and make disciples of all men.

Well, I don't know about you but I can't go to the airport and get a ticket to go to some faraway place and work in a mission field. But those very words are the marching orders of the church.

What I can do is partner with the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and be a supplier of stuff that missionaries can use. Quilts, for instance. Quilts are made in Lutheran churches all across this country. They find their way into orphanages. In hospitals. In remote villages where they are placed over a low branch and become the roof of a home. If the villager is lucky, a second quilt could be a floor. We need more quilts -- more than the 355,000 that have been made this winter. That means there will be an unmet need.

Our church is going to put baby kits together. These baby kits will have a few diapers in them. Some tee shirts. Some tiny little caps. Diaper pins and little sleepers. We're making the receiving blankets and it will have a bunch of baby supplies in it, then pinned with the diaper pins. Missionaries can take these baby kits and go into villages and give them to new mothers who often don't have clothes for newborn babies. And if they have a receiving blanket at all, it was made from their old clothes that were too worn out to use anymore. Imagine the joy when a new mom gets a bright, colorful receiving blanket that has been made with so much love and joy and prayers!

Yes, the women of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League can partner with missionaries who are in a position to tell others first-hand what Jesus has done for them. They can ground others by bringing them the Word of God.

And how long are we supposed to do all this?

Jesus says "Until the end of the age." That is, we're supposed to keep on keeping on until Jesus comes back for us.

In the meantime, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of ways that I can reach out to people around the world and spread the wonderful message that Jesus Christ died for our sins and because of his death on the cross, we can claim salvation as a child of God.

So this is the reason I write this blog. It's my way of going around the world to talk to people about what Christ has done for each one of us. That would be you. And it would be me. My computer is my magic carpet and on it, I can ride through cyberspace to reach you in 23 countries so far this month.

God bless each and every one of you.



March 20, 2012

Election results in Illinois: http://www.wthitv.com/subindex/elections/results Not all results are in at this writing.

If you are anywhere near middle Illinois on March 23, you could do yourself a favor and go to the Effingham Performance Center at 8:00 p.m. and catch the show headlined by Scott Wattles of Blue Suede Crew. Tickets are $5. He's an incredible performer for those of us who wax nostalgia over Elvis, Roy Orbison, Marty Robbins, and a host of others. What a voice!

We had an opportunity to hear him for the first time on Sunday evening. All Gospel songs. And a standing ovation for How Great Thou Art!

If I tried that it would come under the category of making a joyful noise, but I am filled with appreciation for anyone who can sing really well. We are fortunate because own Pastor Rensner is also a wonderful vocalist. I love listening to someone who loves to sing. And both these gentlemen do!

Earthquake near Acapulco registers 7.6! That's a really hefty earthquake even if it is about 200 miles from Acapulco. God is sure rattling the earth these days. Two hundred miles is nothing when an earthquake ripples its way through the earth.

It is still 78 degrees in the house. And Quint mowed the grass -- or part of it -- yesterday afternoon. Don't remember that happening in March. Ever. We sure do enjoy having the windows open and soft warm breezes blowing across us when we're sleeping though.

We pray for God's blessings to all of you. Some of you are living in dangerous area and you are especially in our prayers.

And we thank you for prayers too.


March 19, 2012

An anonymous quote: PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU
SAID ~BUT~THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.


It's time for a patriotic song and this just arrived from Shirley, my favorite snow bird who has not returned from Arizona yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TPgJSZf5Vw&feature=youtu.be

And here's a cute little story sent by our friends John and Sherre in Wichita:
Subject: A New Pet



                  The Talking Centipede


                  A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet.



                  So he went to the pet store and told the owner
                  That he wanted to buy an unusual pet.



                  After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede,
                  (100-legged bug), which came in a little white box
                  To use for his house.



                  He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box,
                  And decided he would start off by taking his new pet
                  To church with him.



                  So he asked the centipede in the box,

                  "Would you like to go
                  To church with me today?
                  We will have a good time."



                  But there was no answer from his new pet.



                  This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes
                  And then asked again,

                  "How about going
                  To church with me
                  And receive blessings?"



                  But again,there was no answer
                  From his new friend and pet.
                  So he waited a few minutes more,
                  Thinking about the situation.



                  The guy decided to invite the centipede one last time.



                  This time he put his face up against
                  The centipede ' s house and shouted,

                  "Hey, in there!
                  Would you like to go
                  To
                  Church with me
                  And learn about God?"
                  ......

                  YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS ......


                  This time,
                  A little voice
                  Came out of the box,

                  "I heard you the first time!

                   I ' m putting my shoes on!"

March 17, 2012

Today is the day when the whole world is Irish. That includes my cousin, Mark, who sends this blessing. It's beautiful poetry by Phil Coulter and narrated by Roma Downey. I thank you Mark for this beautiful blessing and, in turn, send it along to all my friends: http://www.andiesisle.com/ThisBlessingIsForYou.html Looking at the beautiful photos, I am reminded of a wonderful vacation that Quint and I took to Ireland a few years ago. It's a beautiful country and I got an answer to why the green grass is so vibrant and emerald colored. Supposedly it's because of the high level of minerals in the soil, most particularly calcium. And that's one of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth sends here pregnant horses to Ireland to deliver. Munching on good Irish green grass makes for healthy bones for the baby horse in the mom's womb, and also when the little baby horse starts to grow and develop. The grass really is emerald colored. They aren't just kididng.


Ready for a little humor? This comes from my friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO:

Billy Graham was returning to Charlotte after a speaking engagement and when his
Plane arrived there was a limousine there to transport him to his home.

As he prepared to get into the limo, he stopped and spoke to the driver.


'You know' he said, 'I am 87 years old and I have never

Driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?'


The driver said,

'No problem. Have at it.'

Billy gets into the driver's seat and they head off
Down the highway.
A short distance away
Sat a rookie State Trooper operating his first speed trap.

The long black limo went by him doing 70 in a 55 mph zone.

The trooper pulled out
And easily caught the limo
And he got out of his patrol car to begin the procedure.
The young trooper walked up to the driver's door
And when the glass
Was rolled down,
He was surprised to see
Who was driving.


He immediately excused himself and went back to his car
And called his supervisor.

He told the supervisor,
'I know we are supposed
To enforce the law....
But I also know that
Important people are
Given certain courtesies.
I need to know what
I should do because
I have stopped a
Very important person.'

The supervisor asked,
'Is it the governor?'

The young trooper said,
'No, he's more important
Than that.'

The supervisor said,
'Oh, so it's the president.'

The young trooper said,
'No, he's even more
Important than that.'

The supervisor finally asked,

'Well then, who is it?'

The young trooper said,


'I think it's Jesus,
Because he's got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!'

Smile - God loves you! I ask the Lord to bless you, as I pray for you today;
To guide you and protect you, as you go along your way
God's love is always with you, God's promises are true.

And when you give God all your cares, believe with all your might that God will see you through.

March 16, 2012

I see a lot of anxious people who come for counseling. And even though anxious people want very much to not be anxious anymore, they resist doing the very thing that un-anxious people know all about. That is, un-anxious people live their lives on a foundation of faith. Christ lives in their hearts. The Holy Spirit is used as a daily ever-ready counselor.

In going down the list of 100 Questions That Jesus Asked, I come to Luke 12:26 which asks: If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?

It's a humbling thought that we don't  have all that much control over the external events of our lives. For instance, there's that old Liar, Satan, who likes to poke his nose into every facet of our business. He'd like to think we're easy pickings for his nasty little harvest. And beware that you say such things as, "I'd give anything ..." Satan is the one who will seize that opportunity and yes, he can grant your wishes, too. Many times he does. Then he comes back for payment from you a nickel at a time.

You want wealth? Satan will give it to you. Then what? How many lives have been ruined by winning the lottery? But you say you'd like to just try it? Don't bother. Satan doesn't play fair. He wants to own you, lock stock and barrel.

The Lord, on the other hand, says, Do my work and I will prosper you. God is not against prosperity. It's not money that gets people in trouble. Rather, it's the love of moneythat leads to sin. The love of money leads to greed and corruption. People who are thousandaires strive to become millionaires. Millionaires strive to become billionaires. No matter how weather they are, they are never satisfied with what they have. Prosperity, on the other hand, comes with contentment.

When we are prosperous we thank the Lord that we have enough to spare and some left to share.

Lots of people are anxious about money because they have this idea that they want more and more and more, and never realizing that they don't have enough, and probably will never have enough to suit them.

But money isn't the only thing that causes so much anxiety. It's the fear that we're never going to be in control of situations or events in our lives.

When you look at your life, what is it that you think you do have control over? Your children? Your addicted spouse? Your job? Your ability to drive down the street and not have an accident? Your shopping for food and making the assumption that the food hasn't been tampered with by an idiot who has figured out a way to slip a poison into your food without it being detected until you get sick and are rushed to a hospital? Or you order and egg at a restaurant and get a dose of salmonella.

How's that control thing working out for you?

But here's what you do. First of all, get down on your knees and pray to God. Pray to Jesus Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and help you figure things out better. God likes our prayers better when we are reverent, I've found. That's why kneeling is best; it's humbling.

Don't want to do that? Well, you don't have to. Life can continue the way it's been going for you if you are filled with fears and anxieties. But if you want your life to change, let Jesus Christ into your heart. He has solutions for you that you can't even imagine.

He's the Master of the universe and it's Jesus Christ who is the agent of change in your life, not you.

March 15, 2012

Oh my, what a beautiful day we had today. It warmed up to a perfect 74 degrees. Soft, gentle breezes. Then there was this dark, ugly row of clouds that I had my eye on as I drove to work. It was about twenty miles away. Never did get a drop of rain. The clouds scooted east and stayed out of my way. The storm must have hit Detroit. I saw some pretty ugly video of tornadoes over there late this afternoon. Lots of damage and rubble. Hope there were no casualties.

On another subject, I have been thinking about compassion a lot these days. The people who are able to express and share it with others are so welcome in my world. Here's the deal. We all have to fashion our responses to other people similarly to what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would do.

Compassion and gentle tenderness. And love and kindness. And helping one another.

This comes from good friend Shirley all the way from Arizona:

This  is SIMPLY AWESOME!I’ve never seen this before! Whoever put “The Resume of
Jesus Christ” together is surelya  blessing to us all! Please share it!  The last
sentence says it  all...
 
The  Resume of Jesus  Christ
Address:  Ephesians  1:20
Phone:  Romans  10:13
Website:  The Bible . Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and  Jesus
_____________________________________________________
Objective
My  name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent  you my resume because
I'm seeking the top  management position in your heart. Please consider  my
accomplishments as set forth in my  resume.
_____________________________________________________________________
Qualifications
I  founded the earth and established the heavens, (See  Proverbs  3:19)
I  formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis  2:7) 
I  breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis  2:7)   
I  redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians  3:13)   
The  blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life  through me, (See
Galatians  3:14)   
_____________________________________________________________________    
Occupational  Background    
I've  only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49  ).   
I've  never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or  disrespectful.   
My  employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See  Matthew 3:15  -17)   
_____________________________________________________________________   
Skills  Work Experiences   
Some  of my skills and work experiences include: empowering  the poor to be poor no
more, healing the broken hearted,  setting the captives free, healing the sick,
restoring  sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are  bruised, (See
Luke  4:18).   
I  am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who  listen to me shall dwell
safely and shall not fear evil,  (See Proverbs 1:33  ).   
Most  importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to  cleanse you of your
sins, (See I John  1:7-9)   
_____________________________________________________________________   
Educational  Background   
I  encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge,  wisdom and understanding,
(See Proverbs  2:6).   
In  me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,  (See Colossians  2:3).
  
My  Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a  lamp unto your feet and a
light unto your path, (See  Psalms  119:105).   
I  can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See  Psalms  44:21).   
_____________________________________________________________________   
Major  Accomplishments   
I  was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting  of all times, (See
Genesis 1:26  ).   
I  laid down my life so that you may live, (See II  Corinthians 5:15  ).   
I  defeated the arch enemy of God and mankind and made a  show of them openly, (See
Colossians 2:15  ).   
I've  miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised  the  dead!   
There  are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention  here. You can read
them on my website, which is located  at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an
Internet  connection or computer to access my  website.  
_____________________________________________________________________  
References  
Believers  and followers worldwide will testify to my divine  healing, salvation,
deliverance, miracles, restoration  and supernatural  guidance.  
_____________________________________________________________________  
In  Summation  
Now  that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the  only candidate uniquely
qualified to fill this vital  position in your heart. In summation, I will properly
direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you  into everlasting life, (See
John 6:47 ). When can I  start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15  ).  
Send  this resume to everyone you know,
you never know who 
may have an opening!
Thanks  for your help.  

'Nuff said.







March 14, 2012

I just got this link from my friend in the Quad Cities area in northern Illinois. It's an eagle mom sitting on her nest. And the article points out that the nest if seven feet in diameter! http://www.alcoa.com/locations/usa_davenport/en/info_page/eaglecam.asp

Got this from Mary, a friend who lives in Springfield. It comes to her from an attorney. And just an aside, when your credit card is stolen, you do know that you have to file the report in the police department where the fraud/theft took place, don't you? There's lot of good advice here and I thank you, Mary, for sending this. I'm going to write "photo ID required" on each card as I receive new ones. That's a great idea!

All Credit Card Users Advice
- Tel Numbers

Advice for all credit card users posted by Bluwolf at Caps Corner
Sunday morning 03/11/2012
 
bluwolf] Read this and make a copy
for your files in case you need to refer to it
someday. Maybe we should all
take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent
the following out to the
employees in his company:

1.Do not sign the back of your credit cards.
Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'

2. When you are writing checks to pay
on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the
'For' line. Instead, just put the last four
numbers. The credit card company
knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it
passes through all the check processing
channels won't have access to it.

3.Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If
you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO
Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!)
You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get
it.

4.
Place the contents of your wallet on photocopy machine. Do both sides of each
license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of
the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in
a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here
or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
stealing a Name, address,Social Security number, credit cards..
 
Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my
wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive
monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line
approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my
driving record information online, and more.

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:
 
5.We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately.
But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you
know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
 
6.. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc.,
were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a
first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). But here's what is
perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

7.
Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud
alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had
never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an
application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means
any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they
have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.


By the time I
was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had
been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves'
purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no
additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this
weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their
tracks.
 
Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about
your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax:
1-800-525-62851-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
1-800-269-0271
 
We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along
just about everything. If you are willing to pass this information along, it
could really help someone that you care about.

March 13, 2012

It has been a really long day at an all day board meeting for Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML). The location of the meeting is some 95 miles from home. We passed a resolution for mission grants in the amount of $75,000.

The women of the LWML are amazing. They collect small amounts of change on a regular basis and add them all together and pretty soon, there are thousands of dollars in our district, and almost two million at the national level. Then the money is sent all around the world to help feed hungry children, start new churches, help church workers go to school, and a wide variety of projects that we receive.

One of the member groups, called Societies, is finishing up some 170 quilts they have been making this winter. Another group, from my zone, has made 127 quilts. These quilts will be sent to Lutheran World Relief and shipped to people around the world wherever they are needed.

It's a long day to meet for quarterly board meetings but it's refreshing to partner with so many other women of faith who share a single commitment to help make the world a better place to live in.

We had a mission pastor speak at our church last Sunday and he tells of the horrible poverty in Central America. Did you know that there are children who do not have clothes to wear. And they eat maybe once every two or three days?

Why aren't more people on fire with a passion to join in a partnership with churches that are working hard in these poverty-stricken countries? These are the groups that make sure almost 100% of any money that's collected goes right where it's needed. And much of that money is spent distributing the goods that are collected.

Pray for the hungry and the naked children who live in squalor and poverty.

God bless you, each and every one.

March 11, 2012

Today is the day when it feels like we've moved into another time zone -- one just to the west of us because the sun stays up longer. ha ha

My dear friend Joyce sent me this link to a video that is nothing short of adorable.
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=vJRDpTUIrJI&vq=medium

It's about a mother black bear and her three newborn cubs getting tagged in the wilds of Ontario. The commentator is pretty funny too. Thank you, Joyce.

Here's another one from Joyce. It's about a young woman who's talking to her grandpa about the ipad she gave him. He assures her that he's using it and knows all about the apps, etc. Watch this:   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0FVm_H_D18

 -- See, don't tell fibs.


And this comes from my cousin, Frances, in southern Texas:

How children perceive their Grandparents......

1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful
eyes of her young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before.
After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one
said, "But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I
will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about
kissing the toilet paper good-bye....

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday.
He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet
for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into
old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she
heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience
grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into
their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left
the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice,
"Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own
childhood was like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing
made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our
pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods."
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said,
"I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you
know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I
said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's
word processor. She told him she was writing a story.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I
decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it
was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I
continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, "Grandma, I think
you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!"

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept
the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky
insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I
did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are
coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm
not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says
I'm 4 to 6."

10.. A second grader came home from school and said to her
grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies
today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep
her cool. "That's interesting." she said... "How do you make babies?"
"It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant,"
said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder
pregnant." The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you
know what pregnant means?" she asked.
"Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one
day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the
fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the
dog's duties.
"They use him to keep crowds back," said one child.
"No," said another. "He's just for good luck.."
A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she
said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said,
"she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her.
Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the
airport."

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things,
but I don't get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

15. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks
and they blame their dog.

March 7, 2012

Got this earnest prayer from a dear friend, Diane, who lives in Hidalgo:

Hi Lord, its me.*   *We are getting older and things are getting bad here.*
*Gas prices are too high, no jobs, food and heating costs too high.* *I
know some have taken you out of our schools, government and even* *Christmas,
but Lord I'm asking you to come back* *and re-bless America .* *We really
need you!*   *There are more of us who want you than those who don't!* *Thank
You Lord,* *I Love you.*   *If you agree, send it on---if not just delete.*
*Only you & the Lord will know.*
*"Life without God is** **like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point."*


As a side note, there is a prayer group that stops to pray at 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. The prayer is for America to return to its Christian roots and rid Washington, D. C. of all corrupt politicians. People all over the country are joining together in this common prayer. Join in if you can.

Last night was Ladies Aid at church. What a privilege it is to meet with other women of like Christian values and to share God's word in a Bible Study, then our hostess for the evening, Melissa, made a wonderful spread of fresh fruit. She also made cookies but I didn't have any. It seems that sugar has become my enemy since learning that I have gout that settled in my lower back and my right thumb. The medicine that I now take is for people who specifically took Cytoxan as a chemo treatment for breast cancer. So, no sugary desserts. But then, since Quint is diabetic, Splenda has become my friend. And I can also get chocolate covered cherries from Figi's and have them shipped to me. Yummmmmmy!

It's really windy here. So bad that the windmill has blown over twice in the last day or so. I also heard that there were 90 mph gusts in Las Vegas. Not that anybody who goes to Las Vegas goes outside to stand on the sidewalks to enjoy the weather. I mean, they don't even have clocks in the casinos. They'd probably like it if people took their watches off, but that's not happening much either.


Got this from both cousins, Mark and Alan, so you know it's serious stuff:

  Seems Reasonable 
        

            Can't eat pork,

            Swine flu...



            Can't eat chicken,

            Bird flu.



            Can't eat Beef, Mad cow

            .....

            Can't eat eggs, Salmonella.



            Can't eat fish, heavy metal poisons in their waters.



            Can't eat fruits and veggies E coli, insecticides and herbicides.

             

            Hmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M

            M



            I believe that leaves Chocolate and ice cream!!!!!!!!

            

            Remember - - - 'STRESSED'

            spelled backwards!

            is

            'DESSERTS'

March 5, 2012

Got this poignant story from cousin Mark. Enjoy! Gratitude is a acquired pleasure.Have a great day full of love and happiness. 

Change Your Thinking

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain
the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement
in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass
the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the
window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world
would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world
outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young
lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city
skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the
other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye
as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the
lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to
the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was
comfortable, she left him alone. 

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the
real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.


And these quips from "kids in church" comes from dear friend, Cody, in Warrensburg, MO:

A little boy was in a relative's wedding.
As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps,
stop, and turn to the crowd.
    While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar.
     So it went, step, step, ROAR, step, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle.
As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard
by the time he reached the pulpit.
When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said,
"I was being the Ring Bear." 

One Sunday in a   Midwest City ,
a young child was "acting up" during the morning worship hour.
The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew
but were losing the battle.
   Finally, the father picked the little fellow up
and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out.
     Just before reaching the safety of the foyer,
the little one called loudly to the congregation,
"Pray for me! Pray for me!" 

One particular four-year old prayed,
"And forgive us our trash baskets
as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."

A little boy was overheard praying:
"Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it.
I'm having a real good time like I am."

A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church
service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"
      One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping." 
 
      A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination,
looking at the old pages as he turned them.
     Then something fell out of the Bible.
He picked it up and looked at it closely.
It was an old leaf from a tree that has been pressed in between the pages.
"Mama, look what I found," the boy called out.
"What have you got there, dear?" his mother asked.
      With astonishment in the young boy's voice he answered,
"I think it's Adam 's suit". 
 
          The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike,
and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform,
jerking the mike cord as he went.
     Then he moved to one side,
getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again.
     After several circles and jerks,
a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered,
"If he gets loose, will he hurt us?"

Six-year old Angie , and her four-year old brother, Joel , were sitting together in
church.  
Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud.
Finally, his big sister had had enough.
"You're not supposed to talk out loud in church."
"Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked.
Angie pointed to the back of the church and said,
"See those two men standing by the door?
They're hushers."

  My grandson was visiting one day when he asked ,
"Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?"
      I mentally polished my halo, while I asked,
"No, how are we alike?"
"You're both old," he replied.

A ten-year old, under the tutelage of her grandmother,
was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible.
      Then, one day, she floored her grandmother by asking,
"Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus ? The virgin Mary or the  King James Virgin ?"

 A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments.
     They were ready to discuss the last one.
     The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was.
     Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted,
"Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor's wife."

March 3, 2012

Please lift your hearts in prayer for the victims of this horrible rash of tornados today. These are killer winds. In addition to fatalities reported, there's dangers with houses being lifted off their foundations. It's a good night to stay in, be safe, and pray that God will embrace all those people who are suffering with heavy losses. Harrisburg, in southern Illinois, was particularly hit, it seems to me. But there are other areas, with just as deadly outbreaks. I heard on one of the news channels that this year would be as bad as the tornado season in 1978.

We pray steadfastly, also, that our nation will return to its Christian roots on which it was founded.

I look forward to going to church on Sunday and hearing a message from the Gospel lesson that, at least in part, says For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. March 8:38

I think there are a whole bunch of people out there who have kind of postponed thinking about what they're going to do with all this Christianity stuff. "I'll worry about all that when I get older," they seem to think.

Oh yeah?

Well, think of Andrew Breitbart, who now lays cold and quiet at the tender age of 43. He was one of my favorite reads. He was the kind of journalist that Pulitzer hoped to reward for courage through the printed word. I pray that he was okay with God before he took his last breath. I have a feeling that he was.

But what about all the other people out there? You know the ones -- they don't want the children to pray in school. They don't want to say the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. They don't want to hear anything that sounds like Christian talk. Woe be to those who turn their backs on God. This verse in Mark tells them exactly what God will do in retaliation. And don't think for one minute that they can appease God with some half-witted excuse like, "I didn't mean it. You know I wasn't serious, don't you?"

It's time to pray like you mean it. It's time to spend your days thinking about God. Oh, you don't have to jump up out of your chair screaming "Hallalujah." But you can think about the Great and Wonderful Creator of the Universe who allows you to take each breath throughout every day of your life. Be thankful for that.

I have always wondered about the people who want to go to heaven. Don't they realize that they will spend their time praising and worshiping God? If they are looking forward to the time when they are able to do that, wouldn't you think they could spend more time worshiping and praising God every day, in some way?

There are so many things a person can do to worship God. He sees us when we are kind to others. He sees us when we are compassionate and generous. He sees us when we try with all our heart to lead a life as free as sin as we possibly can - not that we'll ever be totally sin-free, what being human and all. But we ought to try as best as we can to avoid temptation and sin in our lives.

God likes it when we strive to do that.


February 29, 2012

Questions to ask yourself --

Can you tell the difference between being tested and being tempted?

Easy answer.

When you're tempted, it involved a sin of some sort.

Being tested is a form of discipline. Discipline makes you grow in faith. It enriches you and tempers your faith into a tool as strong as steel.

The passage that started all this thinking about being tempted was from the Epistle lesson a week or so ago. It's from the Book of James, and says: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. -- James 1:13-14

So if you feel like you're being tempted, who do you think might be the culprit?

Another easy answer -- Satan himself.

Satan is the author of evil. Not God. God does not tempt us, Satan does. Temptations involve sins. Testing involves love through discipline.

This notion that there is a person named Satan reared its head out on the campaign trail a few weeks back. Santorum made the comment that "...Satan had his eye on Washington." What a firestorm that set off. Here came the spindoctors who tried to make Santorum look like a religious kook. Until some organization did a survey and found that 70% of Americans believe -- truly believe -- that Satan really does exist.

Remember way back in Sunday School days hearing that the best trick Satan has going for him is that he convinces people that he does not exist. Well, that doesn't happen in the United States.

We're a Christian nation and we know he's real. And his favorite game is Gotcha!

If you want an inkling about who Satan is, take a look at the Book of Job.

In the very first chapter, in verse 6, we read: One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"

Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

Then follows a conversation recorded between the Lord and Satan. So if the Lord recognizes Satan and calls him by name, who are we to even think that he does not exist?

Rest safely in the arms of the Lord, my friends, and pray fervently for his protection from Satan and all that is evil.

February 28, 2012

Before I go off in a different direction, you have to watch this video of the Daytona 500. Talk about races, burning cars, fast bumps, and one big brewhaha. One spill took out six cars: http://news.yahoo.com/video/turnerweekendtop5-20497430/weekend-top-5-daytona-28446636.html#crsl=%252Fvideo%252Fturnerweekendtop5-20497430%252Fweekend-top-five-homestead-27337497.html

Here's a video that is precious. It's about Pastor Ed Dobson, who developed ALS. He talks about his new role as a different kind of pastor now that he no longer has an active church. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/18/tending-the-garden-one-person-at-a-time/

Pastor Rensner talked about how come God, who has the power to stop the storms in our lives, doesn't do that. Pastor said that sometimes God calms the person going through the storm rather than calming the storm. And why would He do that? His reasons are his own and they are not my ways.

I am working on a thesis of the difference between being tested and being tempted. I hope to have it finished by this time tomorrow, so I hope you'll come back to read it.

Blessings, prayers and hugs,
Jane

February 27, 2012

This story comes from Connie today. She says it will give you the chills....... GOOD chills. See if you agree.

A young man had been to Wednesday Night Bible
Study.  The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice

The young man couldn't help but wonder, 'Does God still speak to people?'

After service, he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed
the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started  driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, 'God...If you still speak
to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.'

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop
and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, 'God is that you?' He didn't get a reply and
started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God,
and how little Samuel ran to Eli. 'Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.' It didn't seem like too hard
a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the
gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, 'Turn Down that street.' This is crazy he thought, and drove on past the intersection.

Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street .

At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh.

Half jokingly, he said out loud, 'Okay, God, I will.'

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop He pulled over
to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi- commercial area of town. It wasn't
the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were
already in bed.

Again, he sensed something, 'Go and give the milk to the people in the house across
the street.' The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the
people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door
and then sat back in the car seat.

'Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going
to be mad and I will look stupid.' Again, he felt like he should go and give the
milk.

Finally, he opened the door, 'Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I
will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want
to be obedient. I guess that will count for something, but if they don't answer
right away, I am out of here.'

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A
man's voice yelled
out, 'Who is it? What do you want?' Then the door opened before the young man could
get away.

The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out
of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some
stranger standing on his doorstep. 'What is it?'

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, 'Here, I brought this to you.' The man
took the milk and rushed down a hallway.

Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man
was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming
down his face.

The man began speaking and half crying, 'We were just praying. We had
some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our
baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.'

His wife in the kitchen yelled out, 'I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you
an Angel?'

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him
and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears
were streaming down his face.
He knew that God still answers prayers. 

This is so true. Sometimes it's the simplest things that God asks us to do that
cause us, if we are obedient to what He's asking, to be able to hear His voice
more clear than ever. Please listen, and obey ! He will bless you (and the world).
Phil 4:13 

February 25 -- 26, 2012

I'm adding this video at the front. It's from my cousin Mark and it's a video showing an owl coming in for a landing on a security tower. http://www.dogwork.com/owfo8/ It's unbelievable footage showing the owl "putting on the brakes," so to speak. And look at those wing maneuvers! It's only a minute long, but fascinating.

Beautiful photograph by Paul Bunyard, set to music -- called Chasing the Light. It's a four and a half minute respite! http://www.dogwork.com/bnpcduk8/

One of my favorite videos -- this is a dog in a contest -- apparently the judges don't give him very high marks because he can't seem to get it right. But then, just wait until the amazing end! http://www.dogwork.com/tconmv8/

This is a video (1:40) of cranes flying over Venice, Italy. Fascinating photography of the landscape below, but also of the cranes communicating with one another while flying: http://www.dogwork.com/crafly9/

Here's a video, also from dogworld.com that shows a little bird coming into a bluegrass festival and sitting on the lead singer's guitar. Too funny! http://www.dogwork.com/blugrs9/

Now, before you watch this next one, please realize that dogs are not supposed to stand upright and walk, much less dance. But here's a cute little dog doing a Paso Doble. Yes, dancing: http://www.dogwork.com/psdqwk8/

Danica Patrick crashed intot he wall at Daytona today: http://www.breitbart.tv/danica-patrick-crashes-at-daytona/

Oh dear. This video shows someone getting creamed by an oncoming traffic. Just another reason why I don't do any road ranging during ice and snow and black ice weather: http://www.breitbart.tv/nissan-frontier-shattered-into-bits-by-oncoming-semi/

Here's a recently discovered amateur video of the shuttle that exploded. After watching it, the videographers didn't really understand what had happened. It seemed like they thought the crash was the booster rocket separating. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/02/24/vo-challenger-amateur-video.newscientist

And this final video is about a man named Omar and his seeing eye dog Salty. Omar was working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center when the building was hit. Watch this video of this remarkable dog rescuing and saving his best friend, Omar: http://www.dogwork.com/arfp8/

February 24, 2012

You do know that 2012 is a leap year, don't you? Just thought I'd bring that up, in case you overlooked the fact that February has 29 days in it this year.

So it's Friday night here at home. It's cold outside with the wind whipping around the corner of the house. And we're about ready to settle down to a good old mystery on Netflix streaming and Quint asks from the kitchen, "You want popcorn with that?" Who could say no? Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks.

I made 3-2-1 cakes for dessert. If you remember, I have a big plastic bag into which I mixed together a sugar-free yellow cake mix and an angel food cake mix. Really mix them well. Then, whenever you want a quick little cake, you mix 3 tablespoons of this cake mix and 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave that for 1 minute and you have this unbelievable little cake.

Well, I got fancy, I did. I put about 1/2 tablespoon of margarine and 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar blend (with Splenda). Microwave that for about 5 seconds until the butter is melted. Stir that up and put in 1/2 tablespoon of crushed pineapple. Then add the mixed up 32-1 cake mix and microwave that for 1 minute. Yummmy!

I'm going to see if sliced strawberries in the bottom of my little dish (which is about the size of a ramekin), then put the 3-2-1 mixed up cake mix and see if it passes for a strawberry short cake. It might. Or it might be close enough to pass for a suitable substitute.

Changing the subject, the weather here has taken a dive down to 36 degrees. This time yesterday it was almost 60 degrees. For those of you who just joined us from the United Arab Emirates, it probably doesn't matter that much. You have heat all year round. But you also have sand. I don't know if I could really get used to living on a sand hill. It just looks - well, dry.

But since readers are from all over the world, it's probably a curiosity for some who never experience snow. (You're not missing much at all.)

And as a side note, I'm so glad that you liked the blog from a few days ago about the man praying the Lord's Prayer. It's unbelievable how many emails I've gotten in favor of this prayer. And how it's made you pause and think about what you're saying when you pray. You know, God really is right around you every minute of the day. And he cares about you, so keep on praying.

My prayer for you is that you will be blessed with many wonderful people and opportunities that God will put in your life today. Enjoy each and every one of them.

February 23, 2012

Last night was Ash Wednesday service at church. It marks a time when we begin a remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection three days later at Easter. It's a somber time and as I sat in church and looked around me, I saw the usual faithful worshipers. I felt closer to them than I do at other times of the year. The imposition of ashes reminds us that we came from dust and it is to dust that we will return. In the meantime, we are to live our lives as Christians and walk through life behaving as if --

...as if Christ were right beside us, visibly point out pitfalls,

... as if Christ were steering us around the misdeeds we might otherwise get ourselves into,

... as if we remember that we are never alone,

... as if we realize consciously that Christ is watching us,

... as if we remember that it is Christ who sits at the right hand of God interceding for us on our behalf,

... as if we remember, also, that it is Christ who will judge us when we catch up with eternity,

... as if we always remember that we are to pray to God, our heavenly father, and we can only get there through Jesus Christ,

... as if we want more than anything to please God and Jesus Christ,

and finally, as if we are truly sorry for all our sins.

This isn't one of the questions that is listed as having been asked by Jesus, but sometimes, when I do really silly stuff, I have this vision of Jesus asking, "What in the world did you do that for?" It helps me not to do things anymore that I really don't want to do and know that I shouldn't do.






February 21, 2012

Did you feel the earthquake this morning? It registered 4.0 on the Richter Scale. I'll have to tell Quint that it wasn't the wind that was rattling the windows that woke him at 4:00 am, but rather, the temblor shifting around close to the New Madrid fault line. Here's a map that shows exactly where the earthquake was: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Maps/US10/32.42.-95.-85.php

But if you really want to see something, take a look see at this map of the United States -- 806 earthquakes in the last 24 hours. California and Alaska are always feeling a lot of shaking going on.

Stay safe out there, my friends.

Changing the subject, back to the List of 100 Questions that Jesus Asked:

Question #79 -- How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? John 5:44

Walk through this question with me for a moment. Remember the last time you went to get a new outfit? You found something that you thought would look good on you. You looked in the 3-way mirror to make sure the outfit draped across your body just the way you wanted it to. And why is that?

Simple. When we buy something new to wear, we're thinking of what others will think of it. Then they'll tell us how nice it looks.

We'll get praise.

But hold on here for a moment. The question that Jesus is asking is how come you're thinking about what others think?

How come you aren't all that concerned about what God thinks of you?

I think there might be a couple of answers to this question.

One of the thoughts I have is that because we don't physically see God, it's sometimes hard to imagine that he's right here, right now, in this very room, reading over your shoulder. Maybe watching you curiously to see how you get through your day. But, our humanness sometimes fails us spiritually because we aren't always consciously thinking that God is present everywhere at the same time.

How can that be? I don't know the answer to that. My brain can't get wrapped around that possibility, but I know it's true because the Bible says so.

I know that after Quint and I finish our breakfast and we join hands for our daily prayers, God is in the room with us. And I also know that it pleases God when his children talk to him. That's what we do. We let him know what we're thankful for because he does so much for us. We wouldn't have a thread to wear if it weren't for God's grace. Oh, I don't mean that he puts a hanger with clothes on it in our closet. But he makes provisions for us to get the things we need as we go through our lives. And it's been like that since the day we were born.

God has always been a stellar provider. He has never failed to provide us with what we need.

By the same token, he puts situations in our paths to see what we're going to do about them. He brings people to us to see how we're going to react to them.

We need to always think about what we are doing so that we live our lives in ways that please God.

To me, that's a lot more important than whether someone else likes a dress I bought.

I care what God thinks. I most definitely care what he thinks. And I hope that anything and everything I do in life tickles him. He is not a person I ever want to be displeased with at me!

February 20, 2012

And who couldn't use a bit of humor in these harried political days? Got this one from my cousin Al in Virginia Beach:

A female journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going
to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

      So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was,
walking slowly up to the holy site.

      She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave,
using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

      "Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith. What's your name?

      "Morris Feinberg," he replied.

      "Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?" 

      "For about 60 years."

      "60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

      "I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."

      "I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."

      "I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to
love their fellow man."

      "I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people
ahead of their own interests."

      The reporter then asked, "How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

      "Like I'm talking to a wall."  
    

And our good friend Joyce sends us this cost analysis of how much it costs to run a Volt. Can you tell that Joyce is a banker by trade?

Subject: Cost to operate a Chevy Volt

Take a few minutes to read thru this analysis. This is truly an economic failure,
until technology improves to change these costs! This is what the Obama
Administration is pushing in his new budget! Just another "cash sink hole", from our
taxes, and huge debt!
 
Eric Bolling (Fox Business Channel's Follow the Money) test drove the Chevy Volt at
the invitation of General Motors.

For four days in a row, the fully charged battery lasted only 25 miles before the
Volt switched to the reserve gasoline engine.

Eric calculated the car got 30 mpg including the 25 miles it ran on the battery.

So, the range including the 9 gallon gas tank and the 16 kwh battery is
approximately 270 miles.

It will take you 4 1/2 hours to drive 270 miles at 60 mph. Then add 10 hours to
charge the battery and you have a total trip time of 14.5 hours.

In a typical road trip your average speed (including charging time) would be 20 mph. 

According to General Motors, the Volt battery hold 16 kwh
of electricity. It takes a full 10 hours to charge a drained battery. 

The cost for the electricity to charge the Volt is never mentioned so I looked up
what I pay for electricity. 

I pay approximately (it varies with amount used and the seasons) $1.16 per kwh. 

16 kwh x $1.16 per kwh = $18.56 to charge the battery. 

$18.56 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.74 per mile to operate the Volt using the
battery. 

Compare this to a similar size car with a gasoline engine only that gets 32 mpg. 

$3.19 per gallon divided by 32 mpg = $0.10 per mile. 

The gasoline powered car cost about $15,000 while the Volt costs $46,000......... 

So Government wants us to pay 3 times as much, for a car that costs more that 7
times as much to run, and takes 3 times longer to drive across country..... REALLY
?????

- I have a question. After the battery just up and dies, how much will it cost to destroy it? I doubt if the batteries will be allowed in landfill. I mean, if you can't even put an old, dead cell phone in the landfill, what are you going to do with the Volt battery?

But what if you keep the Volt and decide to replace the battery. I read somewhere a couple of years ago that the battery alone cost $25,000. Can that be right? Does anybody know? If you do could you shoot me an email. Please.


And this from my dear cousin Frances in Broaddus, Texas:

                  We need to show more sympathy for these people.
                  * They travel miles in the heat.
                  * They risk their lives crossing a border.
                  * They don't get paid enough wages.
                  * They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.
                  * They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a
different language.
                  * They rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day
~ every day..

                  I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans ~ 

                  I'm talking about our troops! 

                  Doesn't it seem strange that so many are willing to lavish all
kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our
troops?

                  Wouldn't it be great if we took the $360,000,000,000 (that's
billion) we spend on illegals every year, and spend it on our
troops!!!

February 17, 2012

This is one of the best versions of an interactive Lord's Prayer that I've ever read. It's sent to us from my dear friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO. I do pray that it will enrich your life today and that you will think about this when you pray the Lord's Prayer:

THE LORD'S PRAYER- Rather cleverly done. This is in two parts,
The prayer(in blue type) and GOD(in red type)-in response.
It is very, very good.
   *********
"Our Father Who Art In Heaven.
Yes?
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
But -- you called ME!
Called you?
No, I didn't call you..
I'm praying.
Our Father who art in Heaven.

There -- you did it again!
Did what?
Called ME.
You said,
"Our Father who art in Heaven"
Well, here I am..
What's on your mind?
But I didn't mean anything by it.
I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day.
I always say the Lord's Prayer.
It makes me feel good,
Kind of like fulfilling a duty.
Well, all right.
Go on.
Okay, Hallowed be thy name .
Hold it right there.
What do you mean by that?
By what?
By "Hallowed be thy name"?
It means, it means .. . Good grief, 
I don't know what it means.
How in the world should I know?
It's just a part of the prayer.
By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Hey, that makes sense.. 
I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before.
Thanks.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing?  Why, nothing, I guess.
I just think it would be kind of neat if you got
Control, of everything down here like you have up
There. We're kinda in a mess down here you know.
Yes, I know;
But, have I got control of you?
Well, I go to church..
That isn't what I asked you.
What about your bad temper?
You've really got a problem there, you know.
And then there's the way you spend
Your money -- all on yourself.
And what about the kind of books you read ?
Now hold on just a minute!
Stop picking on me!
I'm just as good as some of the rest
Of those People at church!
Excuse ME..
I thought you were praying
For my will to be done..
If that is to happen,
It will have to start with the ones
Who are praying for it.
Like you -- for example ....
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups.
Now that you mention it,
I could probably name some others.
So could I.
I haven't thought about it very much until now,
But I really would like to cut out some of those things.
I would like to, you know, be really free.
Good.
Now we're getting somewhere.
We'll work together -- You and ME.
I'm proud of You.
Look, Lord, if you don't mind,
I need to finish up here.
This is taking a lot longer than it usually does.
Give us this day, our daily bread.
You need to cut out the bread..
You're overweight as it is.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this?
Here I was doing my religious duty,
And all of a sudden you break in
And remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing.
You just might get what you ask for.
Remember, you called ME -- and here I am.
It's too late to stop now.
Keep praying.  ( pause .. . )
Well, go on.
I'm scared to.
Scared?  Of what?
I know what you'll say.
Try ME.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
What about Ann?
See? I knew it!
I knew you would bring her up!
Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories.
She never paid back the money she owes me..
I've sworn to get even with her!
But -- your prayer --
What about your prayer?
I didn't -- mean it..
Well, at least you're honest.
But, it's quite a load carrying around all that
bitterness and resentment isn't it?
Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her.
Boy, have I got some plans for her.
She'll wish she had never been born.
No, you won't feel any better.
You'll feel worse.
Revenge isn't sweet.
You know how unhappy you are --
Well, I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Ann.
Then, I'll forgive you;
And the hate and the sin,
will be Ann's problem -- not yours.
You will have settled the problem
as far as you are concerned.
Oh, you know, you're right.
You always are.
And more than I want revenge,
I want to be right with You . . (sigh).
All right, all right . .
I forgive her.
There now!
Wonderful!
How do you feel?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad.
Not bad at all!
In fact, I feel pretty great!
You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight.
I haven't been getting much rest, you know.
Yeah, I know.
But, you're not through with your prayer, are you?
Go on.
Oh, all right.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Good! Good! I'll do that.
Just don't put yourself in a place
where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah. I know..
Okay.
Go ahead. Finish your prayer.
For Thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory forever.
Amen.
Do you know what would bring me glory?
What would really make me happy?
No, but I'd like to know.
I want to please you now...
I've really made a mess of things.
I want to truly behave like Christ
I can see now how great that would be.
So, tell me .. . .
How do I make you happy?
YOU  just did".

February 15, 2012

Taking a break from the questions that Jesus asked, I have to share with you that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) took Secretary (Health and Human Services) Sebelius to task today about whether or not she had consulting with any bishops before drafting the contraceptive order for the White House. Her response was that she had not, but assumed that the folks over at the White House must have.

Well, that wasn't quite good enough to Hatch who then made the statement that he believed all religious organizations should be exempted from the contraception demand. (See article at: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/02/15/sebelius-didnt-consult-bishops-on-contraception-deal/)

There are several layers to this argument, if you ask me. One is that of whether you believe women ought to be able to buy contraceptives.

The other is a question of honoring all religions who are opposed to abortion and believe that abortion is about killing an unborn child. In that event, then the "morning after pill" would make the trip down that slippery slope.

Then there is the constitutional camp which is inhabited by people who believe that the government has no right in tampering with freedom of religion. Forcing organizations, whether directly with religious organizations, or imposing on the insurance companies who insure employees of religious organizations makes no difference. The question isn't about who pays for the contraceptives -- the religious organization or its insurance company. It's about whether the government has the right to mandate any such behavior.

Clearly there is not a lot of wiggle room with folks who believe strongly that they have a right to hold onto their religious beliefs without interference from the government. And yes, of course, the fed have overstepped its constitutional boundaries.

Bet this one makes it to the Supreme Court.




February 14, 2012

The next question that Jesus asked is in Mark 8:12 -- Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?

This was when Jesus was meeting with the Pharisees and they wanted to test him. Guess they wanted to see if he could really perform some good magic tricks. They asked him in verse 11 for a sign from heaven. You know that Jesus must have been a bit perturbed because verse 12 starts out with Jesus sighing deeply.

Well, if you were the Son of God and you knew you could move a mountain if you just wanted to, wouldn't you get just a bit exasperated with people trying to put you on the spot all the time?

Why couldn't people just believe that Jesus was the Son of God? Would you? If you were expecting the promised Messiah to be more, well, kingly, would you still believe a person who arrived on the scene dressed in something that looked like a homespun robe? So he went around doing miracles. These were real miracles. They weren't magic signs that could be explained by a slight of hand.

No, no. Jesus healed the sick. He made the lame walk. He even touched the leper and made him clean. And he saved his best miracle to last when he raised a dead man back to life.

Was that sign enough?

Not really. Because the very idea that he had brought a man back to life was used to prosecute him.

If you were reading the Galilean Daily Chronicles and there was this banner headline about a dead man walking again, wouldn't you call to get a ticket to this man's next event?

Of course you would. And you'd probably try to get a front row seat so that when this guy Jesus asked if anyone in the audience would like to come down to the front and ask for anything they wanted, you'd hop on down there. What would you want? Win the lottery? Cure for your arthritis? A baby for your barren womb? A fairy tale, drop dead gorgeous superman for a husband? A shiny new Corvette to tool around the Galilean countryside? A big fancy yacht to troll around the Sea of Galilee, catching fish and stuff?

If you could have anything you wanted, what kind of a sign would satisfy you that Jesus is the true Son of God. In fact, he's the only Son of God.

Jesus must have grown weary of people who had to have this proof that he was who he said he was.

Do you think it's any different now -- 2,000+ years later? Aren't people still looking for a sign?

Can you just accept in your hearts that Jesus is Lord? No signs are needed for those who believe.

And for those who do not believe, there aren't enough signs in the whole world to bring the proof that they require.

It's all about faith. And believing.



February 13, 2012

I have my hands on a wonderful list called 100 Questions that Jesus Asked.

What a wonderful springboard for our conversations here on this thread.

Eventually I want to go all the way through the questions that Jesus asked. And the first one is from Matthew 6:27 -- Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?

My recent - and I call the last two years of my life as recent -- bout with breast cancer jumps up and out of the depths of that rusty barrel that houses my brain.

I will say that never during that entire ordeal did I feel desperate and anxious about living or dying. That was because of a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the verse quoted above. I know that somewhere in Jeremiah, there's a reference to the fact that God said he knew me when I was still in my mother's womb. In another verse way back there in the Old Testament, probably from a psalm, there's a reference to God knowing how many hairs I have on my head, and also how many days I will spend here on earth.

Some might view those cancers for both Quint and me as God specifically not answering our prayers. I take a counter view because we have both gone through that long, black tunnel of chemo. Radiation added for me. When we talked it through, all the way to the core, we came to understand that God had, in fact, answered our prayer. You see, at our age, if there was to be cancer, it was far better to get it out of the way, so to speak, before we got really old. Advanced age puts severe limitations on what chemo you can get and what you can't tolerate. We are blessed to have gone through all that and are now in remission. In fact, we just may be in better shape now than a lot of people who are incubating cancerous cells and don't know about it.

So, knowing that God knows all those details about my life, I have little to fear because I also know that he walks with me through all my days.

Besides, God doesn't seem to put the same sense of desperation on dying that we humans do. Perhaps that's because God thinks of death as the death of a soul. I figure that he's elated when a person's body dies because those persons get to come back home to be with him in heaven. Who could cry about that?

It doesn't mean we don't go through a grieving process when we lose our loved ones. And there might even be a few people who will be said when my creaky old bones end up in the fiery pits of a crematorium. But I hope they will be overjoyed when death finds me skipping through that tunnel that near-deathers describe.

After all, as Pastor Rensner says, "What are you going to do, threaten me with heaven?"

So, no worries. Enjoy each and every little sunbeam as you travel down the road of life. And get down on your knees and thank the good Lord above for all the blessings he has given you in this life, right now.

February 12, 2011

Navy Seal quote of the week

Dana Perrino ( Fox News) describing an interview she recently had with a Navy SEAL .
After discussing all the countries he had been sent to, she asked if they had to
learn several languages?

His reply:

"No ma'am, we don't go there to talk."

February 9, 2012

I almost ran over a hawk on the way home from work this afternoon. How could I ever explain how I could kill a bird on the wing! But sure enough, the silly thing flew right in front of me about a foot higher than the hood of the car. He got real close to the edge of the air.

That's Quint's reason for airline crashes. Planes crash when they go past the edge of the air.

Changing the subject, I'm making cookies for little kiddos at church. We have an after school program and offer the kiddos a snack when they get off the bus and come into the play area with tummies that have caved in from hunger. They get a half sandwich, a cookie and a piece of fruit. Then they go charging around the gym and burn it all off and go home starved for supped.

I'm making cookies from a cake mix. To do that, you out two eggs into 1/3 cup oil and mix well. Then, mix that into the dry cake mix. Makes a bit more than 2 dozen little cookies. The cookies are baked at 375 degrees for 6 - 8 minutes.

I got a confetti cake mix since little darlings adore confetti and sprinkles.


And I got this beautiful story from my cousin Mark:

Tell me this one doesn't put life in perspective.  

In Phoenix , Arizona , a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old son, who was
Dying of terminal leukemia.

Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of  determination.

Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all
his dreams. Now that was no longer possible.

The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's
dream to come true.

She took her son's hand and asked,

'Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted   to be once you grew up ?

Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life ?'

Mommy, 'I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.'

Mom smiled back and said, 'Let's see if we can make your wish
come true.'

Later that day she went to her local fire Department in Phoenix , Arizona, where she met   Fireman
Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix .

She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be   possible to give her
6 year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, 'Look, we can do better than that. If you'll
have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll
make   him an honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire
station, eat with us,   go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards !

And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform
for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy   one   with the emblem of the
Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear
and rubber boots.'

'They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix , so we can get them fast.'  

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital
bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck.

Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it
back to the fire station. He was in heaven.

There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy
got to go out on all three calls.

He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's' van,   and
even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program.

Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so
deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and
the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone, began to
call the family members to the hospital.

Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a Fireman, so
she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to
the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition..

The chief replied, 'We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will
you please do me a favor ?

When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing,   will you announce
over the PA system that there is not a fire? 'It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the   window to his
room?


About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its
ladder up to Billy's third floor open window --------  

16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room!

With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and
told him how much they LOVED him.  

With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and
said, 'Chief, am I really a fireman now?'

'Billy, you are, and The Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand,' the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and said, 'I know, He's been
holding my hand all day, and the angels have been   singing.'

He closed his eyes one last time.  



February 8, 2012

So there's this mountain of mud sitting at the edge of the yard. It's the residue from the sewer line repair the other day. Rather than spread it out flat with the rest of the yard, we were told that the spring rains would pound it down so that the trench would eventually be filled in. Sounds reasonable to me, but I think I'll get out there with a rake one of these days, all of the same. Otherwise, I'm going to go out there in the next day or so and find a ski lift with very little people using the little mound for their winter fun.

It got cold in the last day or so. Even had a dusting of snow. We are woefully behind with our snowfall. According to the old wives' tale, since we had our first snowfall on the 27th of December, we can expect 27 snowfalls in total. Last night's dusting was only #4. Now, mind you, I don't mind not having 27 snowfalls. It's not like it's a goal or something.

Oh, another thing. Changing the subject, NASA says that the oceans are not rising, but rather, the level of water went down a bit. According to the weather/climate change/global warming gurus, weren't we told that because of global warming, the ice sheets would be melting and we'd have so much more water in the oceans that our eastern coast would be flooded. So how come the water level is going down? Faulty theory = flawed results. But then, just maybe because the Russians drilled a hole in the ice sheet in Antarctica to get to an underground lake, maybe water is draining down into the hole. Hey, it could happen!

Quint took me to lunch at Cracker Barrel today. When we were coming out to go back to the car, we noticed that there had been a bunch of pansies in bloom before they got frosted. Now, who would plant blooming pansies in the middle of winter? Sure enough, they got frostbit last night. I love the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that I'm back at Grandma Stubbe's boarding house in Paducah. Cracker Barrel's meatloaf tastes just like hers. Maybe they found her recipe somewhere. It's delicious. So is their Cream of Potato Soup which is my favorite soup anywhere.

And now my client has arrived for a session. I see her pulling into the driveway now.



February 6, 2012

Want the world to be a better place? Then do something. Think about joining the huge group of volunteers in America.

I know this is old data, but it's the source I found when I went looking. It's a research article on volunteerism in America written by Richard D. Young. He cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that says 59% of people in the United States who are 16 years old or older volunteered for an organization in some capacity. And that was for the year way back in 2001 to 2002. that was 27.6% of the American population.

Volunteers most often donate their time to religious organizations (33.9%). Second on the list is educational organizations who get 27.2% of the volunteers. But it's the old folks who are 65 and older who donate
the most time to churches -- 45.2%.

Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies several activities in which volunteers engage in consistently. The list below shows which activities are most predominate.

Teaching or coaching (24.4 %).

Canvassing, campaigning, or fundraising (22.9 %).

Collecting, making, serving, or delivering goods (22.2 %).

Serving on a board, committee, or neighborhood association (16.3 %).

Providing care or transportation (12.3 %).

Consulting or administrative work (14.0 %).

So this ties in with the Gospel lesson at church yesterday. It's from Mark 1:29-39 and tells the story of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law from a fever. What's the first thing she did when her fever went away? She got up and began to serve them.

Not because she had to, as Pastor Gillet said. But because she wanted to.

When it comes to serving in the Kingdom of God, it's something we get to do. We don't have to, but rather, we are allowed to serve.

In another article, again pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we read that ... nearly 63 million Americans, slightly more than a quarter of the population, volunteered for charities last year, providing services valued at nearly $173-billion. That’s down from 2009, when 63.4 million adults, or nearly 27 percent of the population, donated their time. The volunteer rate has not changed significantly since 2006, hovering around 26 percent. Volunteerism reached nearly 29 percent from 2003 to 2005 and has been as low as 20.4 percent in 1989, says a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is based on annual and monthly surveys of roughly 100,000 Americans age 16 or older, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What's neat about this article is an interactive map of the United States that compares the percentage of volunteers in a state and compares it to the national average when you move your cursor over the state. http://philanthropy.com/article/Volunteerism-Holds-Steady-in/128565/

So get out there and be a good neighbor. While you're at it, volunteer to help out at your church too.


February 4, 2012

Quint and I headed over to Culvers after closing up the junior quilting shop at church. When we started looking for a spot to sit down at, I heard a familiar voice say, "Jane." It was the vice president of the Effingham/Shelby Zone and she invited us to sit with her and her husband. They were just finishing up the flavor of the month (chocolate eclair) ice cream, so we sat down.

After talking about a dizzying list of favorite subjects, Chris and I then started talking about cake recipes. I told her I was going to start visiting churches in the Zone. Tomorrow is my first outing. It's at a church where the church council is making soup for lunch. I told her I was going to make a yellow cake with a peach pie filling and after sharing that quick recipe with her (it's on the recipe page over there on the left), she said, "I'll tell you how to make a cake."

She explained, first you mix a cake mix with an angel food cake mix. It can be any kind of cake mix you want, but it has to be with an angel food cake mix.

Then, when you get those two cake mixes mixed well, mix 3 tablespoons of the dry mix with 2 tablespoons of water and microwave for 1 minute.

She says it's easy to remember because it's 3-2-1.

When I got home I mixed a sugar free yellow cake mix with an angel food mix that I picked up on the way home.

Sure enough, it works! So I have this cake mix in a ziploc bag ready to make a cake in a minute.

I even bought one of those new cans of frosting mix that Pillsbury has. It looks like a whipped cream container where you kind of bend a plastic tip a bit and out comes the frosting.

What an amazing age we live in!

I remember when I was a little girl my grandmother would send me to the bakery to buy two layers of a yellow cake if she didn't have time to bake a cake for a church event. And she thought that was cheating. But no one ever knew. She always covered it with her famous 7 Minute Frosting so who would have ever been able to tell.

One of my other favorite memories of my grandmother was her little forest of African Violet leaves. She had a big pan of sand which she kept wet. Then she would take leaves from her African Violets and stick them in the sand. After some mysterious length of time, she'd know when to take the leaves out because they'd have roots developed. She'd plant them in little pots and after a while, little baby African Violets would pop their little faces up through the dirt. Eventually, she'd cut the big leaf off and put it back in the sand to make a new generation.

I got up enough nerve to try that this year. A nurse at the oncology center assured me that this method would work so I gave it a try. I now have a beautiful purple and another pink African Violet and when I get a little new plant, I give them to clients who want them.

Except that I only use African Plant Food water. That makes them bloom like happy little campers. Pretty much all the time too.


February 2, 2012

If the groundhog can be believed, we don't have to worry about winter weather so much. We had fog as thick as pea soup. Not only could the rat not see his shadow, I doubt if he could see his cute little paw in front of his face. Yay! Go groundhog.

I received this from my friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO:


One of the best I've seen lately........

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being
disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!

When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!


I read another article today on the web warning about yet another scam. This one has to do with jury duty. Supposedly someone sends you an email or calls you to let you know there's a warrant for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty.

After you pick yourself up off the floor and start to explain that you never got a summons to appear for jury duty, then the most helpful scam artist at the other end of the phone asks you for your social security number and birthday so it can be double checked against the list of warrants. Now, we aren't going to give anybody that kind of information, are we?

Please say you won't.

Scam artists are mean. They're usually crooks who need to go where other criminals live.

If you live in Illinois, you need to know that Illinois is a "do not call" state. That means if you get an annoying telemarketing call, immediately tell the caller that you are aware that you live in a "do not call" state and want your name taken off the list he/she is calling from. The caller has to stop the conversation immediately.

Also, there's a link on the Links page on this website to put your phones on the "Do not call list." I probably need to do that again because I'm starting to get calls again. Putting your phone numbers on the list is not a permanent solution but when you start to get calls again, just go back in and renew your numbers.

February 1, 2012

We're zipping through the Bible at an accelerated pace in our Sunday morning adult discussion class. It's an ambitious undertaking because we're actually going to go from Genesis to Revelation in a 10-week segment. Oh, for sure, we aren't going to do any really in depth stopping over points. We can always go back and focus on aspects of the textbook we're using individually at a later date.

One of the quick points that was made in an early chapter was that Genesis 15:1 was the first time that the term "the word of the Lord came to..."

In this particular instance, the reference was to Abraham. He was the first man to whom the word of the Lord came. Abraham was a prophet. In this particular instanc, the word prophet means one who receives the word of the Lord.

Don't you think it would be exciting to pick up the Bible and get into the Word? Page after page after page of the Word brings us richness and depth to our soul. It's a blessed journey to walk every day with the Lord.

There's mending to be done when we weep from heavy grief. Our soul yearns for healing and it's right there, in between the covers of the Book.

There's learning that jumps off the pages with so much history. The Bible is not a complete history of what was going on in the world. For instance, from 1250 to 1190 BC the Greeks and Trojans were fighting the famous Trojan War. It happened. We know that from recorded history. But it's not a Bible story.

And did you know that from 1750 - 1040 BC, China's Shang Dynasty had a system of writing. They organized a bunch of armies too.

There were earthquakes too. From 1150-950 BC, earthquakes rattled the area around Cyprus.

Accupuncture was first introduced during the Chou dynasty at 1030 BC.

For sure, there were people in other places doing other things. Their stories were not captured in the Bible.

What the Bible does bring us is the bloodline of Jesus all the way back to Adam and Eve. The Bible traces this lineage through the House of David, through his line of history to a little town of Bethlehem.

There's much in the Word to sift through and think about. Absolutely no other book in the history of mankind has had the impact as the Word of God. Nor has any one single individual, save Jesus Christ, had as much of an impact on civilization than the Son of God who came from heaven to become flesh and blood and to live among us. Then he died as a sacrifice on the cross for the sins of each one of us.

This month we recognize Ash Wednesday as the beginning of the season of Lent. It's a time when we stop what we're doing and ponder the miracle of God's great love which he so graciously gifts us with.

Let the Word of God come to you. Pick up the Bible and just hold it in your hands. Then open it and start to read.

Prepare to be amazed.



January 31, 2012

It's hard to believe that here in Middle Illinois, it's 58.1 degrees. Highly unusual for January 31. Only two days 'til Ground Hogs Day and this year, do I dare say, "Who cares?"

Actually, when you think about it, it doesn't matter whether the rat sees his shadow or not. Spring is six weeks away no matter what. Just count the days on the calendar.

When I left you last night I was talking about the bad rap that controlling and manipulating people have gotten over the years. We've put a negative connotation onto those two words when, in fact, they can be life-saving.

I mentioned that the reason people are controlling is because they want life to be predictable. And who doesn't want that?

But maybe we're asking for trouble in trying to control people, places and events that we don't have any business messing with. There's all kinds of attempts at controlling that could even land you in jail. For instance, if you forged someone's signature because you wanted to control your ability to get out of debt so you think stealing someone's identity and/or money is acceptable. Not.

That's not even close to be included in this discussion.

What you can control, though, is your behavior. How you react to events and people in your life can be a healthy way to control your environment.

Babies, for instance, who smile and giggle at you make it awfully easy and heartwarming to pick them up and cuddle them. They've learned at a very early age that positive behaviors get more favorable attention from the big people in their lives. In a small way, they've figured out how to control someone to come over and pick them up.

I remember when my daughter and her husband were trying to get back to Los Angeles when, for some reason, their flight was abruptly cancelled. No new flights were scheduled at that airline. So she went over to another airline and said to an already overstressed service attendant that she realized the burden that this lady was under and she certainly didn't want to push her for help, but she was hoping ever so much if there was anything that she could do to get them on a plane. She engaged the lady in a few light moments and the next thing you know, she and her husband were on a flight, with a "Thank you so much. You are a lifesaver." And off the went to the other end of the airport where the other airline's terminal was.

She learned when she was a little girl that when you're reasonable, you're more able to operate on your environment and more often than not, get the results you want.

Call it whatever you want, but being pleasant will get you farther along than being pushy and ignorant and belligerent and demanding.

When you wake up in the morning, look at the daylight and say, "Today is going to be a great day. I'm going to have some adventures and come in contact with people I enjoy being with." Then get up, get dressed, and put your very best smile on your face as you out to operate on your environment. Make things happen. But in a pleasant way that shows people you care about them.



January 30, 2012

I'm actually in between clients right now, so this will be a bit brief. I'll finish my thought tomorrow in a bit more detail.

What I want to discuss before the thought goes too far away is this whole idea that controllingness and manipulation is a bad thing. I say -- not necessarily.

The reason we need to control or manipulate things is to make life more predictable. We all need predictability in our lives. So the question really wraps itself around why we feel insecure when our lives are not predictable.

Jean Piaget, the psychological guru who developed the school of cognitive development, says we all learn how to "operate" on our environment and the people in it.

It does not make you a bad  person.

More about this after I've had a good night's rest.


About the time I think there's not much new under the sun, this comes to my email. It's from Linda over in Lawrenceville. Thank you, Linda!


Subject: Monday Morning Message

        This is SIMPLY AWESOME! I've never seen this before! Whoever put The Resume
of Jesus Christ together is surely a blessing to us all! Please share it!
The last sentence says it all... Send this resume to everyone you know, you
never know who may have an opening!   Powerful!
        Have a blessed day!
        The Resume of Jesus Christ
        Address: Ephesians 1:20
        Phone: Romans 10:13
        Website: The Bible . Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus
        _____________________________________________________
        Objective
        My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume
because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart. Please
consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.
        _____________________________________________________________________
        Qualifications
        I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19 )
        I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7 )
        I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7 )
        I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Gal at ians 3:13 )
        The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me,
(See Galatians 3:14 )
        _____________________________________________________________________
        Occupational Background
        I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49 ) .
        I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
        My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15 -17 )
        _____________________________________________________________________
        Skills Work Experiences
        Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor to be
poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing
the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are
bruised, (See Luke 4:18 ) .
        I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6 ) . People who listen to me
shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33 ) .
        Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of
your sins, (See I John 1:7-9 )
        _____________________________________________________________________
        Educational Background
        I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and
understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6 ) .
        In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians
2:3 ) .
        My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet
and a light unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105 ) .
        I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21 ) .
        _____________________________________________________________________
        Major Accomplishments
        I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times,
(See Genesis 1:26 ) .
        I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15 ) .
        I defeated the arch enemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly,
(See Colossians 2:15 ) .
        I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
        There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can
read them on my website, which is located at : www dot - the BIBLE. You
don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.
        _____________________________________________________________________
        References
        Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healing,
salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance.
        _____________________________________________________________________
        In Summ at ion
        Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate
uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation,
I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6 ) , and lead you into
everlasting life, (See John 6:47 ) . When can I start? Time is of the
essence, (See Hebrews 3:15 ) .
        Send this resume to everyone you know,
        you never know who may have an opening!


        Thanks for your help.

September 26, 2012

Got these one-liners from friend Cody in Warrensburg, Missouri:

Don't let your worries get the best of you;
Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited
Until you try to sit in their pews.. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
Many folks want to serve God, 
But only as advisers. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
It is easier to preach ten sermons 
Than it is to live one.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose,
But mosquitoes come close. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
When you get to your wit's end,
You'll find God lives there. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
People are funny; They want the Front of the bus,
the Middle of the road,
And Back of the church. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
Opportunity may knock once,
But temptation bangs on the front door forever. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Quit griping about your church; 
If it was perfect, you couldn't belong. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
If a church wants a better pastor,
It only needs to pray for the one it has .. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
God Himself doesn't propose to judge a man until
he is dead. So why should you?
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Some minds are like concrete 
Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
Peace starts with a smile. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
don't know why some people change churches;
What difference does it make
which one you stay home from?
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
A
lot of church members singing 'Standing on the Promises'
Are just sitting on the premises. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Be ye fishers of men. You catch 'em - He'll clean 'em.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Forbidden fruits create many jams. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
God grades on the cross, not the curve.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
God loves everyone,
But probably prefers 'fruits of the spirit' over
'religious nuts!'
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
God
promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
He
who angers you, controls you! 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats! 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
Prayer:
Don't give God instructions, just report for duty!
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
The task ahead of us is never as
great as the Power behind us. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
The
Will of God never takes you to where the
Grace of God will not protect
you. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
We
don't change the message,
The message changes us. 
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
You can tell how big a person is
By what it takes to discourage him.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* 
The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:
1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given . 


Do you think the US Navy would ever name a ship after an army guy, even if he is a Green Beret? Well, if your name is Roy Benavidez, it would. Benavidez got the Medal of Honor too. You have to see his story to believe it. This comes from cousin Mark: http://biggeekdad.com/2010/01/tango-mike-mike/

 
Oh my goodness - what fun! This letter from a New Orleans attorney provides, in addition to a good argument, a bit of history at the same time. Thank you, Mark:

You have to love this lawyer.......

Part of rebuilding New Orleans caused residents often to be challenged with the task
of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years. With a community rich
with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along
through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish
ownership. Here's a great letter an attorney wrote to the FHA on behalf of a client:

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be
granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered
as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer
three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received
the following reply:

(Actual reply from FHA):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that
the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able
manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out
that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803.
Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back
to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:

(Actual response):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you
wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present
application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly
those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by
the United States from France, in 1803 the year of origin identified in our
application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the
land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by
Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of
Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had
been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch,
Queen Isabella.

The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as
the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold
her jewels to finance Columbus's expedition...Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may
know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly
accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God
also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the
owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world
as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.
Now, may we have our loan?"

The loan was immediately approved.


September 24, 2012

Before I do another thing, I want to share a link with you from a friend of mine. It's an outstanding vocalist, a ten year old young lady named Jackie Evancho. You know how I love to watch and hear people who excel at anything, regardless of their age. Just listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foUrBztgzZA She was on America's Got Talent, and boy does she!

Changing the subject, today was the day when one of those mega-mega-zoom-zooms arrived from our sun to lay havoc with the Earth's magnetic fields. Even Delta Airlines re-routed some of its flights to dodge the solar winds from the Coronal Mass Eruption. http://www.space.com/12581-stunning-photos-solar-storms-flares-sun-weather.html

Wow! The northern lights must have danced quite a little Texas Two Step.

Now, on to other matters of some import. It's all about retraining your communications ability so that you don't fall victim to people who want to get and keep you on the defense.

In the first place, don't think you have to jump in and answer someone who demands an immediate answer. No no no. Take a deep breath and give yourself a bit of time to send a response back over the fence, so to speak.

Yes, it's more than okay to answer a question with a question. In fact, it's how you get out of all those defense-intended maneuvers that are being shot at you. You simply do not have to answer with all that immediacy.

For instance, when someone says to you, "Why don't you want to talk to me?"

Your response could be, "About what?"

Or, "Why didn't you call me?"

"Was I supposed to?"

"Yes."

"Who said that?"

Slow down a bit and give yourself time to frame your response.

Try it. It will take some time to get in the habit of allowing yourself to proceed slowly. In the long-run, it will help you set your boundaries and maintaining them. Especially if you get the inkling that someone is trying to invade your peace of mind by demanding that you defend yourself.

And how can you recognize defense maneuvers? Aside from your gut reaction, densive maneuvers usually start with the word "Why."

"Why" questions are not part of polite conversation. The intent is for one person to try to get and keep the upper hand over someone else.



September 23, 2010

This is one of those off the beaten path pieces of information that you may not have known. I didn't either until today's issue of American Profile arrived.

The there it was on Page 12. Yet another reason that Chicago can claim to be a winner at something.

The Field Museum in Chicago has won the 2011 America's Best Restroom Award.

So what, you may ask, does a "best restroom" have going for it that would beat out other competitors? Well, for starters, it has little people potties. And there's a nursing room complete with a sofa in it.

So congrats, Chicago. 'Nuff said about that.


Now it's official. Quint is in remission from his chronic lymphocytic/leukemia. We made our trip to the oncologist today and learned that the results of the CT scan he had a couple of weeks ago show that the lymph nodes have returned to normal. Thank you for answered prayers. We're both now on the once-in-three-months regimen. I did have a new medication to the list of what the doctor has in my file. That's Allupurinol. So when I told him, he said, "Oh, you've got gouty athritis."

Yep. That's me. The medication is specifically for people who has been given Cytoxa for chemo with breast cancer.

But then I found out that eating cherries -- only 6 a day -- will help out a lot. Sure enough, we found cherries in the produce aisle. Fresh from Chile. They are delicious. After only a week of cherry snacks, I've seen an improvement. I can now bend my thumb with no pain at all. That's the only place, plus my back, that seems to be bothered. Oh, it's just a nuisance. Nothing fatal. I'll take nuisances.

January 20, 2012

We are just jumping up and down for joy watching those pink icy, wintry mix patches float by on the weather map. And up north, oh my goodness. I remember those days when a six inch snowfall was kind of sort of ordinary.

We do not miss it.

Here is a link to a beautiful young girl who is a prodigy -- Akiane Kramarik. She has been painting since she was very young, age 4. Her paintings are incredible. And thanks to friends in Wichita, John and Sherre for the link: http://www.shangralafamilyfun.com/prodigy.html

Here's a link to Gene Simmons of KISS performing for the troops: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=5MtdIO23MKM Makes me want to stand up and march around the dining room. Thanks, Mark, for sharing.

January 20, 2012

We are just jumping up and down for joy watching those pink icy, wintry mix patches float by on the weather map. And up north, oh my goodness. I remember those days when a six inch snowfall was kind of sort of ordinary.

We do not miss it.

Here is a link to a beautiful young girl who is a prodigy -- Akiane Kramarik. She has been painting since she was very young, age 4. Her paintings are incredible. And thanks to friends in Wichita, John and Sherre for the link: http://www.shangralafamilyfun.com/prodigy.html

January 18, 2012

Okay, so here's my ignorance showing. I don't know where either of these teams are from -- Trinity and Millsap -- but this link that my cousins Al and Mark sent to me shows one of the most phenomenal football plays I have ever seen in all my born days: http://www.dump.com/2011/02/22/end-zone-angle-of-the-final-football-play-of-trinity-vs-millsaps-video/

Talk about teamwork! This one play won the game. Wow!

And Mark  sends these tips too:

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be toimmediately clear your computer
history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an
argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to
nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know
how to get out of my neighborhood.

I especially like #7.

As for the second point, I'll have to see if Quint can even remember a time when he was wrong. About anything. ha ha

Me? I try to keep my mouth shut unless I know pretty much what the answer is.

Reminds me of a fella in grad school who had a most unique form of discipline. He says it's more effective than time outs and has been using it since his kiddos were real little. He makes them sit down so that he can tell them the entire history of slavery. All total, it takes about 45 minutes.

January 17, 2012

We went from 61 degrees this morning to a cool 28 now. There's a raw wind blowing that makes it feel like 2 zillion below zero.

Thank goodness Ground Hogs Day is only weeks away. That's the day I first celebrate spring.

I remember when I was a little girl the teacher would pass around those mimeographed pictures for our class to color. After I became an adult, I realized that the ground hog is nothing but a big rodent and the whole thing used up all my brown color crayons. Big deal.

My irises did die back again though. Poor little things. I can hear them shivering under their little dirt shoes. I have a huge variety of colors. Some are yellow, a peach color that's really a double. Looks pretty and frilly. Various shades of purple, one almost black. And finally a pink iris. I like irises. They remind me of Vincent Van Gogh. He painted irises for the whole year that he was in the asylum. People sometimes comment about how they must have been Van Gogh's favorite flower. The truth is, they were the only flower planted at the asylum. So of course he painted irises. What else were there? Besides, by that time he was probably tired of doing self-portraits, being one ear shy of having a full face and all.

Thank you for all your "as if" comments. It was very interesting to hear about how you are using the same concept. Actually it's little more than positive thinking. But it works. People who are negative get dumped on a lot. They aren't any fun and they suck all the air out of relationships, out of the sky and out of their hearts. So lighten up everybody and live your lives as if you are the successful person you want to be!

January 16, 2012

Live your life as if --

It's a Biblical concept. Believe you will get what you pray for, and it is yours, we are promised.

It's the underlying principle of the best-seller The Secret.

So let's all put a whole bunch of positive energy out there. The idea is that if you send positive energy out from yourself, it will come back to you.

That's where you embrace the idea that you'll do better in life if you live your life as if.

For instance, married couples who live their lives as if can somehow keep a vibrancy alive in their relationship. Remember those days when you tried to do all the thoughtful, courteous things you could to attract this handsome guy, or gorgeous lady, into your life? If you're going to be late, do you call and let somebody know you're being detained? If you're living your life as if, then you're going to do such thoughtful things like making a call.

Or how about getting that dream job? What happens when you are sitting in your cubicle doing some grunt project and wishing the clock would advance a few hours so you could get out of there? Well, if you're living your life as if you'd just gotten into an interview and were trying to convince a prospective boss that you really wanted the job, you'd go ahead and do the best you could do, even if every day isn't always exciting and creatively challenging.

Or how about parenting. Remember those days when you couldn't wait for Little Baby Ten Toes to arrive? Live your life as if those days beckon you and you back to the days when you promised yourself that you'd be the best parent you possibly could be to the new baby yet to be born. Living as if will help you get through long, fright-filled nights when you're waiting for an errant teenage to wander on back home.

And most of all, live your life as if Christ were headed this way from the other side of the universe and he is just about ready to come down out of the clouds. Living your life as if he were just about here just may change your life choices.

Good luck with that. Think about ways you could live your life as if.


January 13, 2012

Yes, we got the snow. Not much. Just a couple of inches. Then it stopped for a few hours. I reminded Quint that when the snow started up again, it counted as a new snow. At least for my reckoning. He doesn't have to count the snows separately if he doesn't want to. It's just that if you don't, you end up with some extra snowfalls anticipated by the end of the season.

Yesterday I saw a red fox loping along across the neighbor's yard across the street. At first I thought it was a dog, but then, that tail is a giveaway. Red fox it was. Pretty good sized one too. We have some woods behind our house. Figure he lives back in there with the deer who come out every once in a while looking for good chow, like when the neighbor's beans are about ready to pick. I told her to get a bottle of Liquid Fence at the hardware store, last year. It works. It's kept deer, squirrels and rabbits away from my garden goodies ever since I planted a garden down here. Not too cheap, but it does the trick. You spray around the perimeter of the garden, not on the veggies. A quart bottle lasts most of the season.

It even works on those naughty dogs who like to hike up their legs and take a leak on my rose bush out front. Actually they're probably marking their territory. Doesn't matter, me and my Liquid Fence go out there and give the bush a squirt where the dogs squirted. They don't come back so much. Nothing to reclaim if they can't get a whiff of their aroma.

Tomorrow I'm going to my first meeting of the Christian Writers Group here in town. Looking forward to meeting others who are plying their craft too.

I'm anxious to see if anyone else uses what I call the Ernest Hemingway approach -- you know, three to four word sentences. He was a master at it and I figured if he made it work, so could I. Problem is, my spell checker does not like fragmented sentences. But hey, that's the way people talk. So I say I write "conversationally." ha!

Oh, changing the subject. What do you think the stock markets are going to do on Monday morning, now that Standard and Poors has downgraded the financial houses of Yerp? France and Austria lost their AAA ratings. A total of 15 European nations' ratings were cutting in the S&P slash and burn come-uppance move. One of these days, the US is going to get downgraded again if we don't get a grip on spending.

You can't spend all your money!

I watched one of those news interview programs, maybe a Jay Leno man on the street. Not sure. Anyway, the commentator was asking the people where they thought money came from. One lady said she thought the president printed the money in the basement of the White House. Unfortunately, she was serious. She even knew who the president was.

God said something about wasting the blessings He gives us. We'd better all listen up and pay attention, folks.

January 11, 2011

I'm so glad that Netflix survived the stupidest marketing debacle yet -- raising money on top of money by doing a double tier charge system. Never could figure out what they were going to charge so we canceled everything but the streatming, which we used mostly anyway. We do get one video still, though. What we have both come to really like is the video of a fireplace burning. That's all it is. Just a fireplace burning. It makes the living room seem warm and cozy. Okay, so it doesn't make the room actually warm, but the crackling fire and licking flames do okay by me.

Just in time, too, for a winter storm heading our way. I fear that this one isn't going to miss us. We might get several inches out of it. It's heading SSE out of Iowa and looks to cut a big swath across Illinois as it heads east. I guess that's the end of our 40 degree winters.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Now, on to Groundhog's Day which is February 2. Somehow I don't think the little groundhog is going to be a harbinger of spring. This is going to be one of those winters where it's going to be snowing for Easter, I'll bet. When the girls were little tykes I remember them hopping through snow on the way to the church on Easter Sunday. Didn't do their little patent leather slippers any good.

Not much news going on except politics, in case you haven't noticed. Politics in the US has become a mult-billion dollar business. So the ads and speeches and debates and spin doctoring are going to continue until November.

One good thing did come out of the Supreme Court today. Believe it or not, the justices reaches a unanimous decision that says churches can hire people of their own choice - whether it's a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam. The supremes said the government had to "butt out" in so many words.

Well, it's about time.

And my cousin Frances in Texas says the jonquils are sprouting and the bluebells are really thick, though not blooming just yet.

I will add that my irises are totally confused. I have cut them back twice now and could cut them back again but I'm not gonna. If they decide to bloom when it snows, I'll take a photo for posterity.

And with that, no matter where you are, please drive carefully. I know that some parts of the midwest are supposed to get 10" of snow or more, but the rest of us can expect 1 to 2 inches of the white stuff. I don't care if we only get one inch of snow. If it's sitting on icy pavement, it can still be deadly.

Prayers for safety for all of you.

January 9, 2012

Had he lived, today would have been my brother, Allison's, 67th birthday. His middle name was Wallace, probably named for some long lost relative I've never heard of. So we called him A.W. because that's what people in the south do. There's usually at least one first degree relative identified only by initials. So wherever you are, A.W., I hope you're enjoying the choirs of angels and that at the last moments on your deathbed you begged forgiveness for a life filled with sins. I suspect that you did get that idea as you lay dying of lung cancer. But I don't know that. I just pray that you did because I would love to see you in heaven.

Changing the subject, I have received more than quite a few emails about this Mayan thing and what's going to happen at the end of 2012.

In the first place, the Bible reference to the end of the world is very clear about who knows what. I believe it's in Revelation where the verse says that no one knows when the world will end except the Father. Even His Son, Jesus Christ, does not have that information.

Yep. It says so in the Bible. Look it up. Or if you don't have a Bible with a good commentary that can point you to the verse, go to www.ask..com and type in a question like, "Where in the Bible does it say ............................................" You'll get a reference.

That's exactly what I did this evening before I started this writing. I knew that somewhere in the Bible, there was an answer to some prophet who asked God how he would end the world the "next time" since he'd promised in a covenant after the flood that he would never destroy the population with a flood again. Then he put a rainbow in the sky. To this day, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise not to send a flood again.

But what about this point that the Mayans supposedly thought the world was going to end? Did they actually say that? Not really, unless you interpret their writings to fit into that concept. But what if it'd the Mayan calendar, not the world, that is supposed to end in December 2012? After all, we have Bible texts that say only the Father knows. If He didn't get around to telling His much beloved Son, Jesus Christ, do you really believe He would have told some Indians out there on the Yucatan Peninsula.  

So what did God tell the prophet?


In the New International Reader's Version, in Hebrews 12, we find:

25 Be sure that you don't say no to the One who speaks. People did not escape when they said no to the One who warned them on earth. And what if we turn away from the One who warns us from heaven? How much less will we escape!

26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake the earth. I will also shake the heavens."—(Haggai 2:6) 27 The words "once more" point out that what can be shaken can be taken away. I'm talking about created things. Then what can't be shaken will remain.

28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."—(Deuteronomy 4:24)


There are also references to God shaking the earth in Psalm 115:3 and Haggai 2:6.

I am reminded of the reference in Verse 28 that "...we can worship God in a way that pleases him." That pretty much takes care of people who say they don't go to church because they believe they can worship God in a forest, or somewhere else. In fact, God tells us that he wants us to meet in assembly with fellow believers.

So get up on the Sabbath, get dressed and make your way to church where you can "assemble" with "fellow believers." Just do it. Don't say "no" to God.




And then there's this Tebow guy. Don't you love him?! Over the weekend he rushed 316 yards. That was the accumulated passes he threw and I think he ran the ball some too. When he heard the stats broadcast with his last winning throw of the day that he was responsible for 316 yards that won the game for the Denver Broncos, what does he do? Did he swell up and sing, "How great I am?" Not on your life. He dropped to his knee and thanked God for his blessings. He later explained that when he heard that, all he could think of was John 3:16.

January 7, 2012

I'm stuck at the weight where I've plateaued so Quint and I headed for the gym today. That's how you get off those plateaus - either drastically cut back on calories or step up the exercise.

Well, since our life is pretty sedentary as it is, just walking out the door to get intot he car is an improvement on the sedentary lifestyle. So, since we're Silver Sneakers on our Humana insurance, we headed for the gym where we used to go faithfully before all this cancer nonsense started. We walked on the treadmill for a big fat 20 minutes. We got all the way up to a 27 minute mile. Then we did some work on the strength training machines. I got on the machine that works the hamstrings. I personally think my hamstrings have completely atrophied, but that could be just a bit hyperbolic. Truth is, I don't like needing to hang onto something just to stand up, for crying out loud.

Okay, so I don't expect to jump up out of my seat, but I would like to look less like an invalid. I'll work up to walking for an hour, or get up to five miles. I remember when I was a Girl Scout leader I used to go on five mile hikes with frequency. But then, those were called "all day hikes" for Brownies.

Oh well, we're expecting it to take some little while to get some semblance of stamina back.

On our way home, we stopped at Walgreens where I got my flu shot. The doctor only had one left when we were there for our last checkup, so Quint got it.

We also stocked up on sugar free candy. Russell Stover is my friend!

Changing the subject, I can always rely on my cousin Mark to send the Darwin Awards for the previous year. And here they are:


THE 2011 DARWIN AWARDS

You've been waiting for them with bated breath, so without further ado, here are the
2011 Darwin Awards:

Eighth Place

In Detroit , a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after
squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.


Seventh Place

A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned when he ran",
accidentally jogged off a 100-foot high cliff on his daily run.


Sixth Place

While at the beach, Daniel Jones, 21, dug an 8 foot hole for protection from the
wind and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom, when it collapsed, burying
him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels trying
to get him out but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment
almost an hour to free him. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.


Fifth Place

Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed as he fell through the ceiling of a bicycle shop
he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his
mouth to keep his hands free rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.


Fourth Place

Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed as he won a bet with friends who said he
would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the
trigger.


Third Place

After stepping around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door, a man
walked into H&J Leather & Firearms intent on robbing the store. The shop was full of
customers and a uniformed officer was standing at the counter. Upon seeing the
officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up and fired a few wild shots from a
target pistol.

The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, and several customers also drew
their guns and fired. The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics.
Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The
subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7
different weapons. No one else was hurt.


HONORABLE MENTION

Paul Stiller, 47, and his wife Bonnie were bored just driving around at 2 A.M. so
they lit a quarter stick of dynamite to toss out the window to see what would
happen. Apparently they failed to notice that the window was closed.


RUNNER UP

Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew
a person who had bungee-jumped from a local bridge in the middle of traffic. The
conversation grew more excited, and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the
bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge, they discovered that
no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered
and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable lay nearby. They secured one end
around Bingham's leg and then tied the other to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet
before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously
survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen.
Bingham's foot was never located.


AND THE WINNER IS....

Zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt ( Paderborn , Germany ) fed his constipated elephant
22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes
before the plugged-up pachyderm finally got relief. Investigators say ill-fated
Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when
the relieved beast unloaded.

The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr Riesfeldt to the
ground where he struck his head on a rock as the elephant continued to evacuate 200
pounds of dung on top of him. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents.

January 9, 2012

Had he lived, today would have been my brother, Allison's, 67th birthday. His middle name was Wallace, probably named for some long lost relative I've never heard of. So we called him A.W. because that's what people in the south do. There's usually at least one first degree relative identified only by initials. So wherever you are, A.W., I hope you're enjoying the choirs of angels and that at the last moments on your deathbed you begged forgiveness for a life filled with sins. I suspect that you did get that idea as you lay dying of lung cancer. But I don't know that. I just pray that you did because I would love to see you in heaven.

Changing the subject, I have received more than quite a few emails about this Mayan thing and what's going to happen at the end of 2012.

In the first place, the Bible reference to the end of the world is very clear about who knows what. I believe it's in Revelation where the verse says that no one knows when the world will end except the Father. Even His Son, Jesus Christ, does not have that information.

Yep. It says so in the Bible. Look it up. Or if you don't have a Bible with a good commentary that can point you to the verse, go to
www.ask..com and type in a question like, "Where in the Bible does it say ............................................" You'll get a reference.

That's exactly what I did this evening before I started this writing. I knew that somewhere in the Bible, there was an answer to some prophet who asked God how he would end the world the "next time" since he'd promised  in a covenant after the flood that he would never destroy the population with a flood again. Then he put a rainbow in the sky. To this day, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise not to send a flood again.

So what did God tell the prophet?

In the New International Reader's Version, we find:


25 Be sure that you don't say no to the One who speaks. People did not escape when they said no to the One who warned them on earth. And what if we turn away from the One who warns us from heaven? How much less will we escape!

26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake the earth. I will also shake the heavens."—(Haggai 2:6) 27 The words "once more" point out that what can be shaken can be taken away. I'm talking about created things. Then what can't be shaken will remain.

28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."—(Deuteronomy 4:24)  

January 4, 2011

Warning: this could be the beginning of a developing article about recognizing saboteurs within an organization. You know -- they're the ones we refer to as alligators. Every organization has them. And they show their true colors more prominently than you might think.

Here's an old maxim as you start your new year: If you want people to like you, you have to make yourself likable.

That takes care of the bossy ones. People run from these guys. They sit in their chairs and issue edicts and "fetch orders." "Get me this," or "get me that" seems to be their motto. You don't see these people surrounded by a big crowd of people, do you? Organizations are full of these little chiefs.

So what can you do to make people like you? Easy. If you want something, go get it yourself. That's for starters. The world does not raise citizens who wait for you to beckon them.

That is, unless you're a politician or a monarch, or something that gives your blue-blooded attitude the self-imposed right to sit on a chair and make demands.

Tied to likability is another maxim: Good leaders make good followers. You can spot the good leaders in your organization by looking around to see who the workers are. They're the ones who make the good leaders. The people who don't want to do any real work in a group are the same ones who will keep the organization at the status quo. No growth. They say, "I liked it better when we were smaller." All too often, these little-minded people have a secret agenda of their own. They seldom do anything to help the organization grow. Does the definition of passive aggressive come to mind?

Just remember, aggression is always a hostile act.

And passive aggression is disguised as sabotage. Each and every time. Passive aggressive people are on a perpetual search for power. And what do they want the most? Whatever strength you've got. They're trying to run a little micro counter-culture in your organization.
But there's good news. You reward (reinforce) the behavior you want to continue. That's behavior modification rule #1. If you find yourself surrounded by people who don't share your values, then for your own sense of well-being, find another venue. There are plenty of organizations and opportunities out there in this big, wide wonderful world that welcome hard workers.

It's even Biblical to shake the dust from your sandals and walk away. Whatever happened between the "shake the dust from your sandals" theory and the "turn the other cheek motto?"

Well, that thesis can be bridged with a good sermon. I'm not a pastor so I'll leave that one for theologians to wrestle with.

January 2, 2012

Therefore, be it resolved -----

I don't ordinarily make New Years resolutions. But this year is an exception.

I can trace my weight gain all the way back to 1985 when my thyroid was removed. I had what's known as a "thyroid storm" at work and was taken by ambulance to Northwest Memorial Hospital from the law firm where I worked. An endocrinologist diagnosed Graves Disease, an autoimmune nuisance. Problem was I had my daughter's wedding gown about half done and was looking down the barrel of her wedding in about two weeks. I finished the gown, had the thyroid ablated with a radioactive iodine. Quint said I glowed in the dark. The doctor released me much earlier than he would have ordinarily because I promised to return post haste after the wedding for quick checkups. That only entailed a quick cab ride over to his office from the law firm where I was back at work.

The problem was, my weight started to slowly rise. At about a 60 degree slope upward. I put on seventy pounds in a year!

I tried lots of diets. All the wrong ones. Low carb diets, for instance, are never any good. I don't care who recommends them, they are not good for your body's chemistry. The human being is meant to eat grains and grain products. Problem was, I wasn't eating anything differently than my pre-ablation days.

Then, in 2006 Quint and I moved. We bought a Cape Cod. People thought I was nuts to move into a house that had three levels when we had lived in a condominium that was all on one level. Not to mention that my knees were giving me fits. But after we moved I started to lose weight. Slowly. Ever so slowly. After about six months my knees were not giving me any problems at all. I wasn't doing anything much different except I was out from under the sedentary lifestyle that came with my counseling practice. I was walking around more. I enjoyed the physical activity. At the end of a year I was 49 pounds lighter.

But now is the year I'm going to take off the rest of the 25 pounds that I packed on. And how am I going to do this? Simple. Give up most of the flour products I eat.

Following a gout diet is not that difficult. Sugar is my enemy. Yeast products are also my enemy. Meat is my enemy too. No more bacon with my eggs. No more smoky links that are stuffed with cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers.

No more cookies. At least not more than two at one sitting. Ice cream is okay so it's a good thing that I really like Eskimo Pies -- sugar free that is. This afternoon I'm going to make a cookie that has a chocolate turtle stuffed inside. The cookie dough is a Pillsbury sugar free cake mix and the chocolate turtles are sugar free from Russell Stove. I'll cut the turtles into quarters to make them go farther. Does it cost more to make them? You bet. But it's cheaper than all the medicines that you have to take if you're diabetic. I can have a couple of cookies with impunity.

Low-fat cheeses and cottage cheese are also very good for me. And for some reason, tart cherries are also good for the gout diet. They are low in purines. The lower the purines in the bloodstream, the lower the risk of too much uric acid in the blood. Fresh apples and oranges and bananas are good for the low purine diet too. But I seldom eat bananas. Once in a while we'll put them on cereal for breakfast. (Did you know that a serving of banana is only 1/2 of the banana?) It has too much sugar in it. I learned that from Quint's diabetic diet.

Two weeks ago I started a lifestyle change that will allow me to get control of the gout. I've now lost 5 and a half pounds.

I'm looking forward to being at least ten pounds lighter by the end of January. That's the only resolution that I've made so far.

I'm thinking about slowing down a bit. Especially now that I'm working at a job that I really enjoy in the afternoons. It's working for a dual parish church office. Fortunately, the pastor I work with was a friend of mine before I started working with him.

I'm not willing to give that up. But I am willing to give up my "over-do" list. It's too easy for people to mistake my generosity with my time and energy. So I'm going to step back this year and let other people do some of the things that I used to do. In the meantime, I have joined a Christian Writers Group that meets here in Effingham County. It's a group of about ten people who are writing for publication. 

And I have a couple of grants that I promised to write for some business people here in the county. I like writing grants. It keeps my paralegal skills honed. And I like helping business people get their enterprises off the ground.

I also want to continue with my own writing projects.

And that should keep me busy and productive in the new year.

That's only two resolutions. They're two that I can commit to that I know I will follow faithfully. That's the key to success when it comes to re-inventing yourself. Pick a re-invention project that you are willing to commit to completely. And don't take on too many projects at the same time. You'll only frustrate yourself. Pick a project that you are motivated to work on. For me, it was the dreaded fear that if I kept on gobbling away, I'd hit 300 pounds. That's just something that I'm not willing to embrace. Besides, losing weight is all about math. If you eat more calories than you use up, you'll gain weight.

I've watched people who claim that they "just can't lose weight." They'd have you believe that they have tried everything. Yet, when you look at their plates, there's potatoes, noodles, and bread and butter. Then there's the entree and maybe, just maybe a little bit of green vegetable. Never ever eat potatoes and bread in the same meal. And I don't know what they think they're doing by dumping noodles or dressing onto the plate. After all, you're not required to eat everything on the menu. So, if you're an adult, make a fist. That's about a cup. Half of that amount would be a serving. If you're eating a closed fist size of mashed potatoes, you're eating too much. Oh, you could have that much in green beans. That's for sure. But not if the beans are highly seasoned with butter and bacon bits, silly.


I figure you've probably seen this letter that my cousins Mark and Al sent to me, but it's worth another read through:

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month.
The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking
about how much she missed Abbey.
She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God
would recognize her.
I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog?
She died yesterday and is with you in heaven.
I miss her very much.
I ' m happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her.
She likes to swim and play with balls.
I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog.
I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey & Meredith , addressed it
to God/Heaven.
We put our return address on it.
Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope cause she said it would
take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she
dropped it into the letter box at the post office.
A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet.
I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed,
'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand.
Meredith opened it.
Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.'
Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened
envelope.
On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:


Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized
her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore.
Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart.
Abbey loved being your dog.
Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your
picture in so I ' m sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and
have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it
and sending it to me.
What a wonderful mother you have.
I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I'm easy to find.
I am wherever there is love.

Love,

God

January 1, 2012

What a beautiful message I've received from my cousins, Mark and Al:

 WHAT HAPPENS IN HEAVEN WHEN WE PRAY?
>
> This is one of the nicest e-mails I have seen :
>
> I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We
> walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel
> guide stopped in front of the first section and said, 'This is the
> Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.
>
> I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels
> sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from
> people all over the world.
>
> Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
>
>  The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section.
> Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and
> delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how
> busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station,
> since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged
>
> for delivery to Earth.
>
> Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of
> a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated
> there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section, my angel
> friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.
>
> "How is it that there is no work going on here? I asked."
>
> "So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they
> asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."
>
> "How does one acknowledge God's blessings? "I asked.
>
> "Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord."
>
> "What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.
>
> "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof
> overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world.
>
> If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish,
> you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy, and if you get this on
> your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that
> opportunity."
>
> "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness.. You are more
> blessed than the many who will not even survive this day."
>
> "If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of
> imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... You are
> ahead of 700 million people in the world."
>
> "If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest,
> torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion
> people in the world."
>
> "If your parents are still alive and still married.... you are very rare."
>
> "If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're
> unique to all those in doubt and despair......."
>
> "Ok," I said. "What now? How can I start?"
>
> The Angel said, "If you can read this message, you just received a double
> blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are
> more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at
> all."
>
> Have a good day,  count your blessings , and if you care to, pass this
> along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are..........
>
> ATTN:  Acknowledge Dept .
>
> "Thank you Lord, for giving me the ability to share this message and for
> giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it."
>
> If you have read this far, and are thankful for all that you have been
> blessed with, how can you  not  send it on?
>
> I thank God for everything, especially all my family and friends.
>

(And do you know how many pearly gates there are? -- If you guessed 12, you'd be correct. See Revelation 21.)


And here's a profound story from my friend Linda, in Lawrenceville:

                    Read it before but just as powerful the second or third time.
GOD BLESS. Please do not forget the real reason for the
Christmas season!

                         This is so beautiful!
                       John 3:16

                       A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner, the people
were in and out of the cold.

                       The little boy was so cold that he wasn't trying to sell many
papers.

                       He walked up to a policeman and said,  'Mister,
                       you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could
                       find a warm place to sleep tonight would you?

                       You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down
the alley and it's awful cold in there for tonight. Sure
would be nice to have a warm place to stay.'

                       The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, 'You go
down the street to that big white house and you knock
                       on the door. When they come out the door you just say John
3:16, and they will let you in.'

                       So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked
                       on the door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said,
'John 3:16 .' The lady said, 'Come on in, Son.'

                       She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker
in front of a great big old fireplace, and she went off.. The
boy sat there for a while and thought to himself:
                       John 3:16 ....I don't understand it, but it sure makes a cold
boy warm.

                       Later she came back and asked him 'Are you hungry? 'He said,
'Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days,
and I guess I could stand a little bit of food,'

                       The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table
full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn't eat
anymore. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16...           
      


                       Boy, I sure don't understand it but it sure makes a hungry
boy full.

                       She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub
                       filled with warm water, and he sat there
                       and soaked for a
                       while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16 ...
                       I sure don't understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy
                       clean... You know, I've not had a bath, a real bath, in my
whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in
front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.
                       The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room,
                       tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up
around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the
lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the
                       window at the snow coming down on that cold night,
                       he thought to himself: John 3:16 .....I don't understand it
but it sure makes a tired boy rested.

                       The next morning the lady came back up and took him
                       down again to that same big table full of food. After he
                       ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom
                       rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible.

                       She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face..
                       'Do you understand John 3:16 ? ' she asked gently. He replied,
                       'No, Ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last
night when the policeman told me to use it,'
                       She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain
                       to him about Jesus . Right there, in front of that big old
fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there
and thought: John 3:16,“I
                       don't understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

                       You know, I have to confess I don't understand it either,
                       how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how
Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don't understand the
agony of the Father and every angel in heaven as they watched
Jesus suffer
                       and die. I don't understand the intense love for ME that kept
Jesus on the cross till the end. I don't understand it, but
it sure does make life worth living.

                       John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life....

                       If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow the
directions .

                       Jesus said, 'If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of
you before my Father.' Pass this on only if you mean it.

                       I do Love God . He is my source of existence... .. He keeps
me functioning each and every day. Phil 4:13 If you love God
and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things he has done
for you, send this on..

                       Take 60 seconds & give this a shot !  Let's just see if Satan
stops this one.

                       All you do is:

                       1) Simply say a small prayer for the person who sent you
this, 'Father, God bless this person in whatever it is that
You know he or she may be needing this day.  In Jesus' Name,
Amen ! '

                       2) Then send it on to other people.  Within hours many people
have prayed for you, and you caused a multitude of people to
pray to God for other people. Then sit back and watch the
power of God work in your life for doing the thing that you
know He loves.

(This is a good example of what I call Network Prayers. It really makes me feel great to know that people are praying for me, and I love to pray for others too. Thank you, Linda, for sending.)