A single spark

Ever notice how, in the right conditions, a single spark can light a really serious fire? That works fine, in August, when there's been no rain for six weeks, with plenty of 'fuel' to spread to. But what happens to that same spark in the middle of a parking lot? It quickly dies out. I've also noticed that when I am trying to start a nice fire in my fire place it takes a little more preperation. I need to 'prime' the chimney (warm it up), then I need to make sure I use more easily igniteable kindling/paper, and allow it to get the logs ready. The logs take longer to catch when I've just brought them in from outside where it's cold. But once the fire's been going it is fairly easy to get new logs to catch because the embers are warm and sustainable. In many ways I feel like a single match. My 'fire' does not seem to be contagious. More than anything it seems that I am just not ready to be caught up in such things. Only God knows the future but I am eager to move myself closer to such a fire that my own desires for God would be sustainable - even to become warmer. Then, and only when I am ready from God's perspective, to be used to start other 'fires'. updates: New stories posted. Verse for today: Matthew 5:13-16, ESV “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


Prayer requested

I have been meeting with my pastor in regards to getting some more formal discipleship. I've been working on this for sometime, but last night it was sort of interesting. For some time (like since I was saved) I've been feeling a desire to be a form a teaching pastor (until last night I've never really had a term for it). My Pastor basically encouraged me to "explore this calling". He's not talking about me quiting my day job or anything. More like stepping up to teach a short seminar session at our church (in the coming months we are going to be doing quarterly seminar like things for those wanting to delve more into certain things). He asked me to pray and see if there is a topic that the Lord might lead me to speak on, and he will help me "get my thoughts together". Although I am nervous about this to some degree, I am more concerned with how my beloved will take this. Since we have been married any time this subject has come up she basically responds "I am not going to be a pastor's wife!" I know that no matter what the Lord leads me in I will need her by my side - and not kicking and fighting, but supportive and encouraging. I also know that I know enough to get in to trouble. Standing up to teach is one thing but to stand in front of God's people to lead and to teach is something more entirely. A teaching error in a 'secular' class (for lack of a better word) is a finite mistake - to make and error in the ways of God can have eternal consequences. I need to rely totally on the Holy Spirit and not my own ways... and trust that as long as I am doing what God is leading... then I can trust in His grace to cover over the rough spots. I don't know where this will all lead, but I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and to share. Please pray as you feel led - and may His glory be proclaimed and revealed. Verse for today: John 3:27-30, ESV John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” [10]


Do everything as if unto the Lord

I enjoy writting. I like to get things done around the house. I like to things with, and for, my friends. But I often find myself checking up to see what kind of response I get. Maybe not so much with my friends. But I want to know if what I did blessed them. If they appreciated the time or effort. I am not sure if my motives are for them to think more highly of me, or if I want to know what I really did was effective. Did it increase their joy in some way. I'd like to think that it is more of the latter. There is nothing like a sense of accomplishment. To see a project get done. Maybe even just maintenance. Sort of a sense of fulfillment that I am taking care of the things that the Lord has given me. If it was just me at home I'd probably be doing something from the time aI got up until the time I went to bed. Probably a lot of circles being run. But there are times when I do have a few hours all to myself at home amd I hitting the 'to do list' (honey-do or my-do)? No! I will usually take every advantage to just do nothing. Veg, watch TV or even just sleep. But then I am left with a feeling of disapppointment. Like I know I needed to do something else - and I waisted the chance. With my short stories (you can read them here: samurai's yarns, if you are interested) I post them on several websites. One is sponsored by the parent company that produces Necromunda, another is a fan-based site of Games Workshop games. I will often revisit those sites frequently (much more often than I should) after I've posted a story. I want to know how it was received. Was it a good story? Are people really liking the work or am I just a person cranking out words on a page? I've never had aspirations for publication. I like to write the stories. For myself mostly, and I doubt that many would pay for what I write. Just rambling here... but I should do all that I do as if unto the Lord. Verse for the day: Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, ESV There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment [2] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him [3] who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.


Scented Candles

Does anyone else like these things? I have two on my desk here at work. One is "pumpkin spice" and the other is "sun ripened raspberry". These along with my little water fountain really give a nice atmosphere while I'm working. :) At home I have a few others here and there. My all time favorite is the one that smell like the Christmas stores. Do you know what I'm talking about? Verse for today: Proverbs 26:1-9, ESV Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. Like a lame man's legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.


The longest journey...

... begins with one step. I have a weakness. Whenever I tell someone that I am doing such-and-such - whatever it is seems to fade. I don't know how many times I've started a runing thing, or training for my Cisco certifications, or a writting project, whatever - only to have my efforts wane once I've made the announcement. What is that? Does that not undermine my own integrity? What about my own ambitions? Pride is a deceptive and sneeky git. What was my motivation for even mentioning it in the first place? Apparently it's to toot my own horn and build up other people's impression of myself. *sigh* Verse for today: Proverbs 25:2-7, ESV It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable. Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.


Our brother's keeper

Of late I have been thinking about this. I have always known that in order to grow in Christ that I need to be discipled. That I needed to seek out others within the body of Christ. To learn with, to talk about the things of God with, to come alongside and encourage and be encouraged, to - on occasion - talk to them about something I am concerned about (i.e. a sin I think they may be doing) and for them to do the same to me. But this is much easier said than done. I know I have had problems getting consistant fellowship with other men. I am by no means blaming all the other men that God has brought into my life. I know I am as much to blame (if not more) for our lack of fellowship. It is also hard to get others to hold me accountable. There is also a sense of my own responsibility in this as well. Secrets are sometimes easily kept and unless I am maintaining fellowship and being open with others it would be hard for them to know anything different. Some very big men in the faith have tumbled because of these kinds of things. Another is people (in general) do not want to be held accountable. "Judge not and you will not be judged" is a verse I often hear quoted. There are entire ministries based on these precepts. I guess I want more than just mediocrity. I know that I will not reach my full potential unless I have other men (and at least one woman) in my life to help me see my blind spots (both natural and constructed). And I want to be used of God to help others. And it is a Biblical concept (read 1 Corinthians 5:12)... but just as all things of God it can be abused. Entire periods of history are overshadowed by extremism - the crusades, the inquisition... but the same verse that shows me to be my brothers keeper also shows me that I am not to do the same with those outside of the body. May God bring each of us to a level of humility that we are able to give and receive correction without pride getting in our way. The ultimate goal is not to elivate ourselves over our brothers and sisters, but to help one another grown and conform into the image of our Lord and Savior. There can be no higher aspiration... Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, ESV I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges [2] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”


Changes, changes, and changes

Have I ever mentioned that I don't do well with change? Even when it is beneficial. I finally got DSL at home, which has been a huge blessing. But now I am needing to set up a wireless network and it not just a plug and play - which shouldn't be a problem seeing as I am a tech geek and all, but I hate learning new things. Add to that that I recently got new laptops for both the company I work for and the agency I am contracted to... more learning. One PC also has a slightly differnt keyboard layout... now I know when I get used to it - it will be sweet... but until then it's just different. Too much change. LOL but the world does not sit still does it? I really do like the new gadgets and all... it's just a learning curve. Verse for today: Psalm 111, ESV Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!


Heroic Courage

This will be the final instalment of my samurai attributes... gripping stuff...
Yu - Heroic Courage: Rise above the masses of people that are afraid to act. Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A samurai must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is dangerous. It is living life completly, fully, wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong. Replace fear with respect and caution.
What does this mean? Most of us have read about the heroes who pull people form burning automobiles. What makes that person so different from the others at the scene? The took action. One thing I have learned in my time with the military is that in times of stress (usually in the context of military conflict) the most important thing to do is to act. In an ambush you do not let your unit sit in the killzone - you absolutely must act. Either take action to move away or assault the attackers - but to do nothing is to die. This can, and is, true even in non-combat type situations. If the Lord is showing you something that needs to be done it is most likely not so that you can sit and point it out to others. It is because He has brought you to that situation to act. Either as a leader, or as a part of the team. There are no useless parts of the body. But I like the last sentence of this statement as well. To act is not to rush in and "damn the torpedoes" (although there is a place for that at times). But to quickly asses the situation and take appropriate action. If possible do not contribute to the problem. If in the course of taking action you find that your actions are not helpful don't quit, but be willing to make the necessary changes until the deed is complete. Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, ESV Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


We interupt your regularly scheduled program for this announcement

All I have to say is WOW... Check out the art work of this 12 year old.

Polite Courtesy

Wow. After going back and reading my post from yesterday... I am not sure I said what I meant to say. What I was trying to say is that my walk with the Lord is my honor. Although I am the best judge of it (because I see my true motives better then others - hopefully) I should not be unapproachable. I need to allow God to move through the Holy Spirit and other people around me to show me my blind spots. My honor is not found in myself and my deeds, but in my wallk with the Lord. Ok, now on to todays topic. :)
Rei - Polite Coutesty: Samurai have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. A samurai is courteous even to his enemies. Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than animals. A samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle, but also in his dealing with other men. The true inner strength of a samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.
I know I have been guilty of not always showing respect to others. My own pride is my biggest stumbling block. Think about it. The battle is already won. Our Lord has won it, and not just in my personal life but in this world. We may have to endure until the end (either our own or His return). What would it serve to be rude or cruel to another? Am I not my Lord's embassidor? When I bare His name as Christian I am His personal representative. Therefor I should be compossed. "Though he slay me, I will hope in him" (Job 13a, ESV) Is there any circumstance that I find myself in that is either not directly performed by Him, or allowed by Him? Do not all things work for my good? (Romans 8:28) If I display cruelty, or anger, or I am rude isn't that railing against what my Lord is doing/allowing in my life for His glory and my on-going sanctification? Verse for today: Job 38:1-7, ESV Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action [1] like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? For me the Lord's rebuke to Job speaks to my own pride. The entire book of Job is my favorite book in the entire Bible. -s4G


A matter of Honor

Yesterday I was able to participate in the Governor's inaguration for Maryland. Governor O'Malley was sworn in and all went well. It was pretty cold but the new 'snivel' gear the Army issues is not bad. I was able to stay pretty warm for the most part. If I get copies of any of the pictures taken I hope to post them later. To continue on my little thread of samurai attributes I strive for...
Meiyo - Honor: A true samurai has only one judge of his honor, and that is himself. Decisions you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom you truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.
Honor is one of those things that smacks of pride. Examples are eluding me as I am typing this blog entry this morning, but I am sure that any readers of this entry can come up with several examples without much effort. Several stories from the Civil War come to mind now, but I will not post them here. To me this word, Honor, speaks to me as not a matter of pride but my walk with the Lord. It is true that the only judge (in this world) of my honor (or walk with the Lord) is myself. That is not to say that a brother cannot come alongside me and share an observation or concern of this or that. As a matter of fact I need this because no one can see everything. But no one sees my heart as I do. The only other person that can see into my heart and its motives is the Lord. And I am grateful that He sees it better than I do. Verse for today: 1 Timothy 1:12-17, ESV I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. [4] Amen.


Complete Sincerity

Man what a weekend. The stereo-type of sleepovers if for a room full of girls staying up all night talking. Well I am here to tell you that boys do it to! LOL Friday night we had a sleepover for my oldest and a small number of his friends. At 2 AM I walked downstairs and threatened to start calling parents! And they were all up at 7:30 looking for breakfast! My body is reminding me that I am not a young man anymore. :) Overall a wonderful weekend. We spent time together as a family. Ok, on to the continuation of the samurai ideals...
Makoto - Compete Sincerity: When a samurai has said he will perform an action, it us as good as done. Nothing will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not have to "give his word." He does not have to "promise." The action of speaking alone has set the act of doing in motion. Speaking and doing are the same action.
This is yet another area that I struggle with from time to time. The Bible is pretty clear on this area as well. "But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." (James 5:12, ESV) I struggle with this because my desires often out pace my reality. There are times that I want to just make people happy. But in the end we are to be a people of our word. We, as Christian, represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, ESV Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin [5] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.



To continue my 'series' on the samurai attributes I strive to live in...
Jin - Compassion: Through intense training the samurai becomes quick and strong. He is not as other men. He develops a power that must be used for the good of all. He has compassion. He helps his fellow man at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, he goes out of his way to find one.
This is another area that I wish did better. Even Jesus says, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, [6] you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40, esv) and vice versa. Lately God has been helping me share my extra "cloaks". On a few instances when my National Guardf unit has left over food I am able to pack it up and bring it to the local mission. I have been blessed in that I am able to provide for a family of five with my single income. And over the years we have accumulated extra 'things'. I have been working with my beloved to look for opportunities to give them to those without. But I do not stop and give money or food to every beggar I see on the street. Side note: I have written several short stories over the past few months for an upcoming gaming article. I've posted them on my short story blog. Verse for today: Matthew 25:31-36, ESV “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’


Justice & Morality

After I read through my post from yesterday it struck me that it probably comes across as self serving - or self promoting. It really was my not my intend, but as the Lord says, "what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person". I guess things like will reveal the matters of the heart. Well, I hope this is still uplifting and encouraging...
Gi - Justice and Morality: "Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. To the true samurai, there are no shades of gray in the question of honesty and justice. There is only right and wrong."
If a liar is telling you that he is telling the truth, how will you know? To my shame I struggle with this. My pride or selfishness get in my own way at times. Of late the Lord has been giving me the strength to run the race and tell the truth - even when it gets me in trouble. And I pay the consequences. I see others struggle to believe me, the struggle to have faith that I will do what I have said - or have done what I have said. Mostly I see this in my beloved. It is so true that it only takes once to ruin a confidence. Don't misunderstand me. I do not go around telling people that I've won the lottery, or that I am well establlished writter. Or even that I am God's gift to ___________. There are many who have asked me a question and I have told them my answer, and they have taken it for the gospel. But I want to share that just as it is with sin, once it is commited there is no going back. God's Word is truly black and white - and that is how we need to apply it to our lives. We need to seek God and the Holy Spirit to see what He is revealing to us in His Word - and then we need to walk it. But we also need to walk in grace. God does not reveal the same things to everyone. There is no one on Earth who could bear such a burden. There are some who, for example, should never take a sip of wine - and others need to use it for truly medicinal purposes. If I do not extend grace to others around me in things that God has revealed to me am I not in a way judging them? That is not to say that I should not share what the Lord has shown me - but it is not my place to condemn them if they are not in the same place. But just like we are not responsible for other people's salvation (it is Christ alone who saves), we are not responsible for other people's response. And who knows - maybe it is permissable for that person some how. It is only our responsibility to walk out our salvation (that is our sanctification) as He has laid before us. And that is what I see in there being no shades of gray - there is only right and wrong. Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 6:12, ESV “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. Note: this verse is in reference to sexual immorality. I know it has been used out of context, and I am in danger of doing so myself here. I encourage those who read this to follow the link and read it in its full context. -s4G


Duty & Loyalty

I am not really sure what to write about today... so I thought I'd jot down what 'Chu' (Duty & Loyalty) mean to me.
For the samurai, having done some "thing", or said some "thing", he knows he owns that "thing". He is responsible for it and all the consequences that follow. A samurai is immensley loyal to those in his care. To those he is responsible for, he remains fiercly true.
I am not really sure where I learned this. I cannot recall some one sitting me down, or coming alongside me to share these ideas. I can remember when I first realized that I held them though. In regards to being responsible for something I had done I remember it being in basic training for the Army. Although the exact instance is a little fuzzy I remember the Drill Sergeants calling people out for something or other. More often than not the recruits would blame someone or something other than themselves. They would be rewarded with doing push ups until the Drill Sergeants got tired. One time I had screwed up. I can't really remember why by when I was asked about it I basically said that I had screwed up. I still had to do pushups, but it was significantly less than my compatriots. From then on I knew that if I was to get through the rest of Basic training I had to own up to my mistakes. "The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters." In regards to loyalty of those whom God has placed around me... growing up I sort of always took that to heart. My brother and I were left alone - a lot - and my friends were all I really had. I know I am not perfect in this regard. I know that I have failed many a friend (to my shame), but if a friend ever calls me and asks for a favor I will do what I feel is best for them. In one instance I had a friend ask me for money to buy some paintball gear that was being cleared out. I told him that I would not do that, but I would loan/give him money to fix his car that needed repair at the time. Those whom have been brought into our sphere of influence are there for a reason. Verse for today: Luke 12:42-48, ESV And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant [9] whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.


Faith and service

I could not think of a title that I really liked. In the end I went with what seemed to go with what I was thinking about.

When I go to drill, and the unit is allowed to go home at night on Saturday, I usually stay at the armory over night. It's just too long of a drive to go home and then drive back in on Sunday morning. As a result I am left to my own devices for food and entertainment. A dangerous prospect to be sure. :) Somewhere along the line I purchased a small portable DVD player. Nothing fancy, but sufficent. I took along the movie "The Last Samurai" to watch again this weekend. There were a few times when I was reminded of some Biblical truths...

There was a scene where Katsumoto is talking to Capt. Algren in the garden of his family's temple. Katsumoto is talking about how his ancestors had made the garden and that he had come to realize that "we are already dying". I failed to get all the details sorted out in my head as to why this "turned on a light" but isn't it true? Once sin came into this world it immediately started to die. This body we live in will die, so instead of worrying about the when or the how just know that it will eventually die and come to accept it. (Note: I am NOT talking about seeking a way to hasten that event.) But this truth then tied into another truth the samurai strive for...

"To know life in every breath, every cup of tea..." to, in essence, seek to live each moment to the fullests. Captain Algren writes in his journal earlier in the movie of how he is struck that "from the moment they wake up, until the moment they go to bed, they (the samurai and the villagers) seek to perfect themseleves in whatever they set out to do" - there is some paraphrasing there as I did not write it down verbatim. But this is at the core of why I consider myself a 'samurai' to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24, ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

But I also wanted to note that as Katsumoto lay dying he looked at the cherry blossoms and said, "pefect, they are all perfect". And this is profound (to me) in that earlier in the movie he mentions that one could spend a lifetime in search of the perfect blossom. But as he lay dying he realizes that they are all perfect. To me this was profound in this way...

God has made them all. Our view of what is perfect or imperfect is subjective, but God's objective. Each blossom, each trial, each instance of creation is perfect - even if it is in the process of dying due to sin - in that God made it for a purpose, and it can not be anything but perfect. This does not do away with my sin. Sin is not perfect except in its one goal. To rebel against the Creator and thus cause its seperation from its Creator.

How can I not want to serve the Creator who not only created me but then also took the initiative to reconcile with me - when I was perfect in my rebellion against Him? He restores my soul (Psalm 23), He restores my mind, He restores my relationship with Him. If it where not for Him I would have remained perfect in my sin and ultimate seperation. But because of Him I am now perfect in my relationship with Him and I will some day walk in His gardens and feast at His table. He deserves my best every day - and I am grateful that where I am weak - He is strong (1 Corinthians). That I am completely justified, even as I work out my sanctification.
No verse for today as I incorporated them into my thoughts above. :)


Joseph A. Farinholt

"Lightning at Bourheim" by Larry Selman
I had drill this weekend. It was an administrative time. Prepare for a maintenance inspection, get the sections to practice together for the upcoming section certifications, and learn more about the 'recruiting assistance' program. While I was there my unit received copies of the above print. It is of Joe A. Farinholt, a member of the 3-175th infantry. During WWII this man earned four Silver Stars. it is believed that no one else has accomplished that feat. The last one, the one earned for his actions portrayed above, had been submitted to be upgraded to a Congressional Medal of Honor but had been turned down. Joe was a real hero. Joe, his wife, and several fellow members of the 29th Division Association continued to serve me and my fellow National Guard members. They came out several times a year (dispite him being in constant discomfort for the wounds he received) to grill us hotdogs and hambergers, they would run fund drives for our family support group, and they would always come out for the holiday meal. He continued to serve us until his death in 2002. My unit was on active duty at the time, and when the request went out for volunteers to attend his funeral (we were inadequate to serve as his color and/or honor guard - he deserved the Army's Honor Guard) there was no shortage. Everyone who did not have to work used their leave (if needed) to do this small thing for him and his family.
I was able to get a copy of this print, and thought it would be a nice thing to share. My time with the National Guard is winding down (only twelve more drills). I know I am going to miss it. Men like Mr. Farinholt make me proud to me a Guardsman, proud to be a member of the 29th division, and proud, and proud to serve in uniform. My deeds are nothing compared to many of those who serve today, let alone what Joe has done. But I played the part that God has given me - and that is enough.
Verse for today:
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”


The year of sequels

It has been a hectic day for me today... whew. With my mind so cluttered I thought I'd just blog about the firsdt thing that came to my mind... movie sequels. Spiderman 3, Fantastic Four 2, I'm not sure about Batman... Eragon will probably have a sequel out... I like Super hero movies for some reason. Probably the same reason I like Sci-fiction. Oh... I want to go see Children of Men. Maybe this weekend as I have drill... Well, I have to run ... May the Lord give each of you a great joy filled weekedn. Verse for today: Psalm 24:1-6, ESV The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, [1] the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [2] Selah


Winds of Change

I don't do well with change - and yet God has set things in motion (or at the very least allowed things to move). I refinanced my house in order to get out from under a ballon mortgage. The interest rate was slightly higher, but still below 6% and now I know it is locked for the term of the loan, and I will not have to worry about it all coming due too quickly. The only changes from now on will be the insurance premium and the taxes. One thing we did do was to take some equity out of the house to replace our aging minivan. It was eleven years old, needed brake work, cooling and exhaust system work, and had several cosmetic things wrong (sliding door would not lock in place - caused a few bruises). Just to fix the mechanical things would have been about $2k, so for peace of mind in the short term we replaced it. There are some other things, but I'd prefer to not post them here. The valleys can be long and dark, but when we hit those hill tops walking with the Lord - the view is spectacular. And my valleys are nothing compared to what some have to deal with. For me I try and focus on what God is showing me where I am at. Just like I try not to compare my blessings, I try not to compare my hardships. God has His own plan for each of us. How he molds me into the image of His Son is not the same how he will mold another. His ways are not my ways... and for that I am very, very grateful. Verse for today: Ecclesiastes 8:14-15, ESV There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.


It's good to be back

I kn ow how much I said I enjoyed the vacation - but I enjoy getting back into a regular routine too. I like having some sort of routine. That's probably why I enjoy the military. :) Lately I have really been rolling the passage about being known by Jesus (Mathew 7). What does it mean? How do we realy get to know God? He is so far above us - His ways are not our ways. And yet He desires to be known. Of course He knows us. There is nothing He does not know. Spending time with Him we get to know Him... This is something we should all strive for. :) Sorry it's so short... too much going on (again)... :) God Bless... Updates: none Verse for today: Matthew 7:21-27, ESV “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”


Happy New Year!

Welcome 2007. It's not that I am especially fond of 2006. It was a decent year, but it's now history and life goes on. How does the old song go? "Another day older and deeper in debt." Technically I came out ahead, but when you factor in inflation and the fact my salary has not kept up with inflation since before 9/11 the belt is a little tighter - but by God's grace the only debt I do have is the mortgage on my home. The one thing about being on vacation is that it really is revitalizing. Granted I do not always get a lot of rest, but it's a change of pace. A chance to get away from the daily grind and just be with family. I only got on-line once while away and that was to respond to an 'urgent' e-mail. no blogging (which I really enjoy doing)... not story writting... no Hiku writting... and the only e-mail I looked at was on the cell phone so that I could trim the in-box. Man I missed it. Lol... :) So many things happened in the past week and a half... We had a nice visit with my brother in law and his family and learned a new card game (golf), enjoyed a Christmas Eve service at church (the first in memory since having children), had a very nice Christmas at home with just me and my family, spent times with friends that we've not had a chance to keep up with the past year, spent time with the kids playing games and going to the movies, the Panthers were officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs this year. I could easily make a several thousand word post, but it would all ramble together and not make much sense. Not to me, and especially not to anyone who might 'stumble' along this little blog. I am looking forward to catching up with the blogs I read regularly, and I am praying that each of you had a wonderful and Merry Christmas. May God bring to each of you a peace and joy filled year in 2007. God Bless you all. Verse for today: Philippians 3:7-16, ESV But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.