Music Monday - 20080428

Well my beloved got home from Chicago early Saturday morning. It was supposed to be at 6:42PM on Friday, but a chain of events that sitcom writers would have a field day with kept pushing it back. We both climbed into bed at 5:30AM on Saturday morning. On Friday I managed to get a case of heat exhaustion. Probably a minor case, but it wore me out. I did this to myself as it took me four hours to mow my lawn! And I don't have a very big lawn, but with every pass I had to empty the bag of my walk-behind mower. Then I had the bright idea of trying to plant the tree I bought for my beloved - a weeping cherry tree (see the pic above/right of what what such a tree looks like, just not ours yet - LOL). I managed to get the layer of sod off and relocated before I realized the folly of that, took a shower, and collapsed for a brief (15 min) nap before the demands of the house took over again.

Oh, and one last note before I move on to my regularly scheduled Music Monday post. I have a new (second) favorite NFL football team! The Detroit Lions! Why? For drafting Caleb Campbell out of West Point. I know the guys is a 7th rounder, but I am pulling for him. Not for the same reason many might (to "save" him from going to Iraq or Afghanistan), but because he is Army and he is getting an opportunity to play in the NFL.

Ok, on to my regular post. I had a hard time picking out a song for today. It is not really an upbeat melody, and the band tried to play towards a Hard Rock Christian tempo, but seeing how the sins played out I am not sure I would label this a Christian Band, but I believe that is their goal. Since the split up of this group, the core of them went on to form a band called Alter Bridge. I don't know if 'eclectic' is an accurate term, but I really do enjoy a wide range of music. What I listen to has a lot to do with what I am feeling at the time.

Please come now I think I’m falling
I’m holding on to all I think is safe
It seems I found the road to nowhere
And I’m trying to escape
I yelled back when I heard thunder
But I’m down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say

Hold me now
I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking
Maybe six feet
Ain’t so far down

I’m looking down now that it’s over
Reflecting on all of my mistakes
I thought I found the road to somewhere
Somewhere in His grace
I cried out heaven save me
But I’m down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say

[Chorus x2]

I'm so far down

Sad eyes follow me
But I still believe there’s something left for me
So please come stay with me
‘Cause I still believe there’s something left for you and me
For you and me
For you and me

Hold me now
I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking

[Chorus x2]

Please come now I think I’m falling
I’m holding on to all I think is safe

There are times when the ache of Heaven is more acute than others. I am not talking about taking a proactive course of action. I am saying that I am grateful that today is one day closer to that day.
Verse for today:
Psalm 37 : 3-7, ESV
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. [2]
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!


Single parents are heros!

My beloved has been gone only three days and I already miss her terribly. I miss her when our separation is my fault (annual training, etc.), but it feels more so now. I was fairly bummed about her working evenings, but I am really unhappy now that I've not seen her at all.

I have been keeping the heads of our three children above water, as well as my own, but the little things are starting to catch up with me. LOL Things like dishes, and dirty clothes. Now, I help with these chores when she's home, but now that she's not I have to get it all done. Things like helping with homework (ever try and help an Aspie with his homework! It took me almost two hours the other night, and that was just two worksheets!), getting dinner on the table (can you say McDonald's! I knew you could), make sure showers are done, etc., etc., etc. And this has only been three days.

Tomorrow is a teacher's planning day so I am planning on getting the laundry caught up, the lawn mowed, and the carpets vacuumed. :) I know, don't be jealous.
Verse for today:
Proverbs 31 : 10-31, ESV
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself [5] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet. [6]
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.


I spaced out yesterday

Totally ;)

Anyway... between trying to adjust to playing a single parent this week, getting back into the routine at work, and trying to crunch out a short story for an upcoming rules article for Necromunda, I completely missed the opportunity to blog yesterday. But that's ok because I have kind of been in a funk lately.

I kind of go through cycles, almost monthly (no smart alack remarks ;-) ). I don't do well with change, and life is full of things that change. My beloved is out of town for a few days at a conference that is addressing special needs within children's ministry this week. I submitted my letter to finally make my retirement from the National Guard official. And the ever changing nature of IT in the work environment. None of these things really help me feel 'safe' or 'peaceful'. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe in the providential hand of God. I know that He is in perfect control of all. It's just that my mind (aka my flesh) does not respond well to change. Like I have to process it all before I can get back to 'level'. I don't even necessarily need to understand it all. I just have to be able to somehow process it.

Funny story - back when I was commuting almost 90 minutes each way to work I would call my beloved just before I would walk out the door to head home (before we had cell phones) and go over what we were doing that night. By the time I would get home my beloved would make changes and it would throw me through a loop. Unfortunately this has led her to believe that I can't handle change at all (and maybe she's right). I know she's nervous that the kids are going to end up in school without their shoes on, or I will leave the house wide open so strangers can "help themselves". And none of this helps my own "self esteem".

I enjoy writing, and I enjoy my job, but I still feel like a failure at both. At work I struggle to keep up with the constant changes, and not just to the technology. When I went to college I took the placement exams and scored high enough to be invited to join the 'honors society', but I still placed low enough that I had to take English 010 (no, that is not a mis-type). Not only did I have to take the pre-college English course, but I had to take it four times before I passed it! (I currently do not have a degree of any kind.)

So, during these "low cycles" it is hard to keep up. All I can see is all of the tasks around the house not getting done, all of the opportunities missed with the kids, the mistakes I make with my beloved. I ache for heaven, especially during these times. I know that I do a lot of things well. I am able to support my family on my single income (a miracle in today's economic situation), I have been picked above my peers to fill in for the First Sergeant at my unit while he has been away (this has been a reoccurring thing through out my military career), I have been blessed with a mind that can grasp things like IP routing and filtering, I have been blessed with children whom I am often given compliments for, and I have a woman in my life who really does look past my faults and loves me deeply.

But it is hard to look to the horizon, when all you can see are hillsides. I guess that is why I take such deep pleasure in Psalm 23, and the book of Job. My Savior is not hemmed in by my doubts or failures. His staff does comfort me. He does light my paths. He does lead me by still waters and anoints my head with oil. The same God who tells the ocean that it may go only so far, and places the stars at just the right place, is the one who reaches down and speaks to my mind and my heart. He holds me and gives me comfort. Even when I am trying to process change.
Verse for today:
Isaiah 12, ESV
You [1] will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God [2] is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you [3] will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known [4] in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your [5] midst is the Holy One of Israel.”


Musical Monday

Welcome to an earlier-than-usual-edition of Musical Monday. This weekend was my drill weekend and getting up at, or before, the crack of dawn makes it hard for me to readjust back to normal routine. So, I let my beloved turn off her alarm clock and got up and help DS1 out the door for school. Thus the reason I am up and posting this earlier than usual.

God has been using the song I am choosing for today, in my life lately. I go through cycles where it really feels like I am not doing anything right. And truth be told, if you look at the world as a series of absolutes, black and white if you will, like I tend to do you will see that those 'feelings' have merit. In my personal life I really like to do things right. I want people to like me, I want the things I do to have the maximum affect and always be spot on. When I am put in charge of things/soldiers I want things to run smoothly and by the book. For the most part God has really helped me to allow grace, to allow for the fact that things will no always go right, things will not go by the book. But when it comes to sin, God is black and white. "If you lust in your heart you are committing adultery." "If you call your brother a fool (even in your own mind), you are guilty of murder." (Both quotes are paraphrased, the exact wordings can be found in Matthew 5:28 and 5:22 respectively.) And I have many sins, and one that pains me every time, and yet I enter into it with eyes wide open, I repeat my 'mistake' over and over again. I question if this will be the time God's grace will be pulled from me. I pray for His forgiveness, His strength to change, His grace and mercy to continue, I pray that God would just reach down and touch my heart and mind and that I would be dramatically changed. But so far all I hear is (and this is powerful), "My grace is sufficient for you," 2 Corinthians 12:9. Anyway, both on the way to srill, and then again on the way home the song "East to West" by Casting Crowns was playing on the radio.

East to West
by Casting Crowns

Here I am Lord and I’m drowning, in Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me, I yearn for peace and rest
I don’t want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight
I know you’ve cast my sin as far as the East is from the West
And I stand before You now as though I’ve never sinned
But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus can you show me just how far the east is from the west
‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
‘Cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
from You leaving me this way

I know You’ve washed me white
Turn my darkness into life
I need Your peace to get me through
To get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel
About the truth Your word reveals
I’m not holding on to You
But You’re holding on to me
You’re holding on to me

Jesus You know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been
rising up in me again
In your arms of Your mercy I find rest
cause You know how far the east is from the west
from one scarred hand to the other

I so long for the day when I no longer struggle with sin. I want to be face to face with my Savior and no longer pain Him with my sin.

I hope and pray you all have a wonderful day in the Lord. May His rich and abundant mercies and blessings pour out overflowing in each of your lives.
Verse for today:
2 Corinthians 12 : 8-10, ESV
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

* I am no Paul, and I am not comparing myself to him. But God is using these passages in my life of late


My best friend since High School

Set the "way-back" machine to the end of my sophomore year in High School. I was even more geeky back then, if you can imagine that. My two other friends at the time had a different 'final exam' schedule than I did so I was sitting by myself in the cafeteria. Back then we took our exams for the entire week, well for four days. One in the morning, and one in the afternoon, with a pretty sizable lunch break in the middle. On the Tuesday (I think I am remembering this right) lunch break this kid comes up to me and asks if I'd like to come over his place and swim in between exams. I don't know if it was because he was lonely, or because I was alone, but I appreciated the gesture as any selfish high schooler that would love to have a friend with a pool to spend the summer with could be.

He had a nice place, and he had MTV (back in the early 80's that was a BIG deal). We kind of hit it off right off the bat. I found out a little bit latter that, by the time we met, he had already had three open heart surgeries to deal with a defective valve in his heart (since then they have replaced it once more). We've done a lot of things together since then. We hung out past high school. He was the first place I went after I enlisted in the National Guard. We both met our wives at the same college (his wife actually was instrumental in leading my wife to the Lord). I was seated next to him in church the day he gave his heart to the Lord.

In many ways he is a personal hero of mine. He has fought through a lot, and he continues to fight today. He likes NASCAR, and the Minnesota Vikings. He does NOT like to go bowling, but he will bend over backwards to help a guy out. For some reason one thing I had not known about him until last year was that, his favorite comic book hero growing up was Iron Man. It had to do with the fact that Tony Stark, the man behind the suit, had heart problems just like him. Well, two weeks from tonight is opening night for the Iron Man movie. We are going to get a bunch of friends together, eat at a steak place, and watch the movie. I've sort of kept up with the hype leading up to this movie, and I have no idea how the critics or the general population will react to it, but I think I am going to like it a lot.

If you like superhero movies, I highly encourage you to go see this one. :)
Verse for today:
Psalm 86 : 1-7, ESV
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.


There are fewer days ahead, than there are behind

That is true for me in at least in the sense that I am counting down the days until my National Guard days are over. When all is said and done I will have served the Army National Guard, for 22 years. I have loved every moment. My early days were as an Infantry man (notice the crossed muskets - not rifles! - to the left). I have a deep sense of pride at having been an Infantryman. Despite what might be generally perceived, it takes a good deal of intelligence to be a 'grunt'. You have to know the effects or your men and equipment, you have to have a general understanding of those whom you are facing, you have to know how to shoot, move, and communicate effectively. And you must constantly be aware of your surroundings. I did more traveling, and the hardest training of my military career as a "leg". I also went and passed Air Assault school. It's a long story, but that year the TOW platoon had the bragging rights over the Scouts (we sent me, and they sent 3 - I was the one who passed). I still remember the recruiter asking me what I wanted to do. He listed off the available jobs, and when he told me about being an anti-tank infantryman - I was hooked.

My next job was that of a Military Policeman. To be honest I was not happy as an MP, I only transferred to that unit because I was trying to go to college and they were the closest unit. Eighteen months later I was so bored I transfered back to an Infantry unit that was over 50 miles away. Unfortunately I had not kept up my overall physical conditioning and I did not do well, so I went back to the MP's. I did make friends in that unit though. They were a good group of men and women. I also had the opportunity to visit the Panama canal with them. Not once, but twice. I also served on my first state mobilizations there and I found a deeper reason to be in the guard other than the military aspect. When I finally attended an NCO school, I met a recruiter who talked me into seeking a 'career' change. The timing was perfect because my beloved and I were getting ready to move. It was then I became a "Red Leg" (Artilleryman).

I have served as as Red Leg for almost nine years - the longest I have served in any MOS (military occupation specialty). I served with this unit when I was deployed (as MPs ironically). I have also served as rear echelon support, and was deployed for Hurricane Katrina and Rita. If it were not for the increasing angst of being away from my family, I would serve with this group of men until I was told that my services were no longer required.

As I was typing this blog entry up I was also thinking about the days that I will be walking the Earth. I am still fairly young, and only God knows the number of my days. My paternal Grandfather outlived two wives of 25 years plus an extra decade (after the second). He was a sharp man. To my shame I missed his funeral. He is buried with honor in Arlington. May the Lord grant me as many days as he saw, and may I have an impact on my beloved, children, and God willing - grand children's lives.
Verse for today:
Psalm 90 : 12-14, ESV
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.


Desensitization and oversensitivity

Last night was the season premier of "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel. My beloved and I have been addicted to this show since season 1! It is just amazing what those guys do. I especially love the guys that head up there with something to prove and get humbled by what it is really like out on the Bearing Sea. I have known two fishermen in real life. One was in basic training and he too was from Alaska. The guy was small, but a rock. He humbled the Drill Sergeants when they tried to 'smoke' him (get him to burn out) in push-ups. He could do them all day. The other was my step-father (for all of four weeks). That man was a mountain. He used to go out with the fishing boats out of Chincoteague Island (MD/VA). I never got along with him real well - but I digress from what I wanted to blog about. Before I move on, I am man enough to say that I am not man enough to do that job! LOL

Last night I only watched the highlights from Season 3 because I wanted to wait to watch the premier with my beloved. One of the highlights was when the Ocean Challenger sank with four men on board, before the crabbing season had even began. Well, one the captains was quoted as saying that he wasn't sure if it was "desensitizing" him to death in general. I don't think that was the case with him, because he sort of broke down right there on camera (I say good for him, such things should be sad). But it made me think about some things.

We have video games that are "first person shooter" types of games. And blowing up aliens is one thing, but the ones like "Grand Theft Auto" make me nervous. I am no scientist, but I see what happens at places like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the recent YouTube beating - and I think we as a society (at least American society) is becoming desensitized to death, or at least violence. I have a lot of theories as to how we got to this point, but I don't think I have enough time to type it all out, but it makes me nervous for my children, and (eventual) grandchildren. We can't protect them from everything, but we can help them guard their hearts and minds.

But then there is the other side of the coin. We have inane laws and reactions to some of the most mundane accidents, and maybe my view is skewed because I have become desensitized but, where is the balance? Where are the parents teaching/training their children to obey and respect authority? Where are they teaching them to think about consequences? And it's not just teaching our children when they are young. I mean there are some really crazy thought processes used by adults. But when something that should be common sense is not followed, and some sort of accident occurs, why is it that there is a knee-jerk reaction to have some law passed to prevent such a tragedy?

One thing that is true, you cannot legislate common sense, or morality. You can have laws, and enforce such laws, but it does not change the individual. The laws govern the action, but do not shape the (wo)man's heart/mind. The best thing we can do for society (especially as parents) is to teach things like common sense, personal accountability, respect of authority (so long as it does not go against God), and that there are such things as right and wrong.
Verse for today:
Psalm 103 : 8-13, ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.


The day to pay the piper

Well, for us here in the United States anyway, today is the day we have to settle our accounts with "Uncle Sam". Many states also use today as the deadline for their tax deadline.

Last night I had a really good idea (at least to me) to blog about, but once the day got started... right out the window it went. Because I can't remember it. ;)

Well, I need to run off to an IEP meeting at DS2 school. God Bless...

Before I forget... yesterday was the most comments I had received in a long time. It's nice to know that there are still some readers out there. :) Thank you all for dropping by... and won't it be nice when the church is no longer run by humans. ;)
Verse for today:
Proverbs 15 : 1-5, ESV
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
A gentle [1] tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
A fool despises his father's instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.


Musical Monday

Today's selection has come to me as a result of me being reminded just how gracious my Lord has been to me. Despite my sin. Despite my seemingly constant struggle (often with the same sins) over and over, God has shown incredible patience, mercy, kindness, and grace towards me. I don't think I can ever grow tired of marveling at His mercy and kindness.

Haven't You Been Good
By Steve Earl
This song is from the I Stand In Awe album.


Thank You for the cross
Thank You, Lord, for drawing me
Out of millions lost
Thank You, Lord, for saving me
Haven’t You been good?
Haven’t You been so good?

Glory to Your name
Glory to Your holy name
Thankfulness and praise
For grace and mercy never changing
Haven’t You been good
Haven’t You been so good to me?

Favor on my life
Always watching over me
My darkness turned to light
And heaven’s arms enfolding me
Haven't You been good?
Haven't You been so good?

© 1998 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).
Click here for a sample

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) has been a consistent source of grace to me. Recently I was approached to join a group called "SGM Survivors" by a member of the forum (discussion board). After reviewing their forum, and several posts there, I have decided I am not really in agreement with most of those who post there. I cannot (nor will I try to) vouch for all of SGM. I do not know either the people who have experienced such wrongs, nor those who have 'allegedly' (to borrow a news term) inflicted such abuses. I do know that no church is perfect - and that includes the group of churches affiliated through SGM, but I do know that this family of churches have been a consistent source of God's grace in my life. I will not cease my endorsement or encouragement of those (few) who seek my advice.

No one church is perfect for everyone. No one church has a perfect understanding of God. No single, or group of, man is perfect and above the occasional sin. But when someone can produce such songs and preaching as I have experienced there - they will have my attention. As such, even there my mind is tempered by what I read in scripture, and the realization that I am still talking to/with/about a human being.

Without the cross all our works is like dust. It is for naught. But because God condescended to humble Himself and reveal Himself to me, and not only reveal Himself but to restore my relationship with Him, I can call Him Lord and Savior.
Verse for today:
Zechariah 7 : 8-10, ESV
And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”


The World is overflowing with complainers

Ok, I realize that this post is really just contributing to the problem, but listening to people complain all the time can get on your nerves! If half of the energy spent on complaining about things was spent on doing something about whatever it is they are complaining about, a lot more would get done, and whole lot less complaining would take place.

There are a few forums that I will visit from time to time. Most of the time there is constructive conversations taking place, or general Q&A. But often there are those who just want to complain. To be honest I will usually just tune people like that out because they usually don't want to fix it, they just want to complain about it.

My beloved and I know a family that is struggling to make ends meet. When ever we see them, no matter what we are talking about, the conversation invariably turns to them having a hard time. The husband works in a job that is partly seasonal/cyclical. That is, there are boon times where overtime is plentiful, and times when the factory just needs to lay about half the work force off for about four weeks until the orders pick up. Now, the company will try and lay off half for two weeks, and then the other half for two weeks so that no one family gets hit harder than another. BUT, this family hardly takes the company up on the overtime (it's totally voluntary), and instead of saving up for the lean month - or possibly looking for a temporary handyman type of job - the husband just sits at home. Now, there are families out there that are trying and still not making it - but when the opportunity is there, but not taken advantage of, I have very little sympathy.

I have also noticed that when people have relational problems they would rather talk to someone other than the one that they are having the issue with. Instead of trying to work/figure out what is wrong between the two things get distorted and exaggerated to the point it becomes gossip.

I am a high school drop out, so I cannot really speak with a lot of authority on book learning (in my opinion), but one thing I did learn in school was that communication takes two, and that if the sender is not communicating with the receiver, communication is not taking place. This is a complicated process - especially between two human beings. Just because a speaker is talking to someone (it doesn't matter if it's one or a hundred), doesn't mean there is communication taking place. For communication to take place the sender (or speaker) has to convey they message in a clear format that is shared with the receiver (aka common language such as English) AND the receiver has to correctly understand that which is being conveyed. If the listener (or receiver) mis-understands the speaker, then communication is NOT taking place.

This spills over into our local churches as well. This is made even more complicated when the senior leadership speaks to the junior leadership, who speaks with the "lay" leadership, who then works with the individual (or family) who sits in the pews each Sunday. And we being fallen and sinful human beings will not always give those who we are speaking with (and this goes two ways) the amount of grace to possibly oversee things. We humans each have our own preferences. We prefer certain types of music, or preaching styles. We prefer certain traditions (or lack there of). We prefer a certain type of clothes, or time limits on the sermons that are given.

I am so sick of hearing people complain that I am getting upset when I hear it now. I now I am sinning because I am not bestowing the other person with grace to either just be a listening post for them, or some other form of help to them. Instead I am getting upset about the inconvenience being forced upon me. And what am I doing here but the very thing that I despise! *sigh*

If anyone is still reading this, I encourage you to take action. What is it that is bothering you? Take the time to not complain about it, but think about it. Bring it to the Lord, not to complain or even to ask Him to take it away from you. But ask for God to show it to you more clearly. Ask God if there is something that you can do about it. Is it a thorn to be 'suffered'? Is it something that is being used as a lesson in your life so that God may conform you more into the image of His Son? Is there something that you can do about it? Or is it something that God might be using to move you on to something else?

One more thing before I move on. Sometimes things are not always what they seem on the outside. Sometimes, just because something is not our preference, does not mean that it is a bad (or wrong) thing. Sometimes, it is just what it is.
Verse for today:
Job 40 : 6-9, ESV
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Dress for action [1] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?

*** I would encourage an in depth reading and meditation of the entire book of Job - and I include myself in that statement.


And now for something completely different

Yesterday I was playing with my "Pet Dragon" over on Facebook (shocker, I know), who I loving call "Tron", I got to reminiscing about my youth. Specifically my days spending my quarters in the local arcade, and then about the video game "Dragon's Lair".
Well, to make a long story short, I kind of consolidated some of my geekiness I guess. I will name my "Pet Dragon" there 'Tron: the Singe Construct'! LOL

I was never very good at that video game because it was $0.50 - which was a lot of money to play one game - and I just never got good enough in the timing of the controls. Besides Pac Man, it was one of the earliest "pattern" games out there. There were books on what you needed to do for each screen. That is there might be a pattern of; left, left, up, sword, right, back, jump. Once you had the pattern, and the timing down you "owned" that screen. Once you knew all of the patterns it was just a matter of time. Sometimes the game would "mirror" a scene to throw you off though. LOL Still, this game is available for my son's Gamecube. Hmm.... lol

I was mostly a Pinball player in my day - which was pretty old fashioned for a kid growing up in the early 80's. One of my favorite Pinball games was "Black Knight" by Williams. When I ever I spied one out I would drop in a quarter even if I didn't have time to play a full game.

Now I like to collect P/C pinball sims. Some of the best out there were by a company that used to go by "Pro Pinball", and I have found out that some of their sims may be out for one of the game platforms. Hmm...

Who am I kidding. I don't get to play games anymore.

But my all time favorite game was "Cyberball". It was a game that I would sink quarter after quarter into. It combined some of my favorite interests... Football (American), Video Games, and Sci-Fi/Robots.

Ah, but we can never go back.
Verse for today:
Philippians 3: 12-16, ESV
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.


The Perfect Church

It is my opinion that there is one more myth that can join the ranks of things like the Holy Grail and the Fountain of Youth. That would be the Perfect Church. I don't believe it exists. At least, not this side of Heaven.
A little over ten years ago my beloved and I were going through a "church crisis". Our first child had been born and we were seeing things that were disconcerting. Not only a lack of fruit (Gal 5:22-24), but on a few occasions I found the Pastor taking verses out of context. Like he was trying to cram in scripture to back up whatever story, or point, he was trying to make. After meeting with a Pastor on the staff of the church we began to look for another church to call home. While on a mini-retreat to try and seek out where God would have us go I remember looking down into the Cumberland valley and trying to grasp how many churches there were down there. Then I remember feeling like God was telling me that He was at work in each and everyone of them. It did not matter if it was Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, or "non-denominational". It did not matter if it was large or small, 'alive' or 'dead'. I was worried about leading my family to a spiritually 'dead' church, or something much worse.

We ended up going back to the church I was saved in, Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. For almost three years we commuted over 50 miles while I half heartedly looked for another local church for us to attend. Finally we moved to Frederick, MD. But even there we had a hard time being involved more than on Sunday's. Even for our bi-weekly care group we had to drive down. Although we never felt very well connected the church itself supported my beloved and I when I was deployed in 2002. Although our care group started out well, their support seemed to wain after only about a month. Shortly after I came off of active duty in '03 we moved to where we now live.

We found a church we loved, and one that had many more activities for our children and family, as well as one we could serve in (as we now lived less than five miles from the building). It has come to pass where I am now seeing some disconcerting things within this church that has brought me to where we are now praying about what to do. If we are to move churches again or not. I am mostly grateful that God has me and my family where we are not able to just up and leave. With our current obligations within the church we need to be patient, pray, and seek God. This will help us really be more responsive and attentive to what God would have us do.

I guess what has prompted this post is that I am at the very least a little discouraged. The first church I mentioned was torn apart (over a long period of time) by a Pastor who was very good a deceiving those around him. When his sins came to light it caused a huge rift, as well as leaving the church in a very bad spot (by God's grace it is well on its way to a good recovery - so much so we are considering going back).

The second church was a Sovereign Grace Ministries church. While I know there is no perfect church out there, I really liked the accountability that the Pastoral staff had. The integrity was palpable. That being said there are apparently people that have been hurt by this group of churches (SGM 'Survivors' is what they call themselves). While my family and I did not experience the things these people have seen/experienced, it is only fair to mention it here. Where my family felt the disconnect was in the lack of family activities for us to participate in, and an overall air (if you will) of "why would you want to go to any other church?". We also felt isolated because we lived so far from the church. While the Pastors we interacted with were concerned with our eventual move we never felt condemned for our decision. (SGM has since planted a church in Frederick, MD. The senior Pastor there was a man whom personally ministered to me and my family.) In many ways I am the Christian I am today because of this church.

I am not going to go into what is causing my current angst where we are going now. But I want to say that it is not a SGM church. I say this because my blog of 2-April inspired the invitation for me to check out the 'SGM Survivors forum. I know there is much that can be said about the Christian Church, but unity among the denominations is not really one of them. I do not have the answer to that dilemma, but I pray that God will show me and my family what we are to do.

If any of you should find the "Perfect Church" please let me know on the 'down low'. I promise not to attend. I'd hate to ruin such a thing, but I do look forward to attending The Perfect Church - once I am called home.
Verse for today:
Mark 3 : 23-27, ESV
And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.


Dreams continued

I had another dream last night. The only reason this is seems 'blog-worthy' is that I rarely remember my dreams - if I have them at all (and since I am told that we all dream every night, I can only assume I just don't remember them).

Last night's dream had me, and several unknown friends, running around in a junkyard. I was there to meet with someone (a 'known and trusted friend' apparently) who was going to be doing some repairs for some kind of VIP (this person had several body guard types). Then as the dream ended I was back out int he Junkyard again getting ready for... something.

There seems to be sort of a common thread - at least according to Dream Moods (a sort of on-line dream dictionary if you will). I am not one to really swallow up Psycho-babble without trying to think it through, but since I don't have a "Joseph" in my life, I am sort of left to pray to God for my answers. I also will use resources I feel God has led me to. If anyone who stumbles across this blog has an interpretation of these dreams I would be most welcome to hear it.

Anyway - for now this is what I have found out:
Radioactive (the type of 'toxin I was exposed to) items are suppressed emotions that will cause problems in the long run if not dealt with.

Vaccinations suggest the need to overcome vulnerabilities. Short term pain - long term gain.

Invasion is a need to be more assertive. To stand up for myself.

Air Raid represents a feeling of a lack of control/overwhelmed.

Airplane supposedly means that I will overcome my obstacles.

Police are a sign that I feel a sense of failure to fulfill some sort of honor or obligation.

Seeking shelter reveals a sense of helplessness of the trials I am facing.

A Father figure symbolizes authority and protection. A suggestion that I need to be more self reliant. Consider also my working relationship with my Father.

A Junkyard symbolizes fear, frustration, or a sense that I need to shed some old behaviors and/or habits.
Since last week I have been praying for God to reveal what I need to see. Last night (the junkyard dream) could be an answer of sorts. I may elaborate more in a future blog, but for now this seems to be a prod of sorts with something I have been dealing with since just before I was married. A feeling of being called for a kind of ministry - but an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and the recent "issues" at my church may be bringing this back to the surface.

One thing I am most concerned with is that there is only one true God. And I aim to follow Him. So I am also scared of being led astray...

All I can say is... "stay tuned"...
Verse for today:
Deuteronomy 13 : 1-4, ESV
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.


Musical Monday

The past week or two my daughter has really been wanting to watch the DVD of her year she practiced ballet. The woman who was running, and teaching, the school made a DVD because it was going to be the last year before her husband took a job in another state (very sad for us), so she wanted to give her students something to remember the school. DD3 has been wanting to get involved in something, almost anything, but she is at an in-between age where she is either not old enough, or the timing of when the classes, etc., are not available. Anyway, when I heard this song on the DVD it spoke to my heart (again), then last night as I was sitting in my car (reading "Living the Cross Centered Life" while waiting for Awana's to end), I heard this song on the radio and it was confirmed. I just had to use it for my "Musical Monday".

by Chris Tomlin

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

These verses really speak to the vanity of man's attempts to really describe God. Just how small man really is when we dare to look up and compare ourselves to Him. But in spite of all of this He reaches down, He makes Himself known to His creation, and He actually intervenes on our behalf. Words cannot adequately express...
Verse for today:
Job 38 : 3-7, 22-24, ESV
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?

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?



Ok, I have no idea if any of the small handful of readers that come by here will think, but I feel compelled to share something I dreamed. Not once, but three times. It changed on the last one, but it goes something like this...

I am at my home (I think) with what I think is my family. There are five other 'ghost' like people. They are real, it's just that there is little to no interaction with them, and I do not remember seeing their faces. One, though, is my "Father" (I refer to him as a father-like figure throughout all three dreams).

There is some kind of underlying tension in the 'air' if you will. In the dreams I remember being exposed to some form of radioactive toxin that required a shot to counter act. Here is where the dreams differ from first through third. In the first two I remember getting the antidote later on, but in the third dream it was practically right away.

There was also some kind of invasion taking place. I know I was trying to get my family to some kind of shelter. In the first two we 'engaged' the 'enemy' practically on our doorstep. In the third dream we had to travel and we never had to 'fight', the 'enemy was 'shot' by policemen who had set up a security check point (that we did not have to go through).

In all three dreams we made it to the door of the 'bunker', and I woke up.

I am nervous that I am not writing this down correctly, but it is to the best of my memory at this point. I've had other prophetic-like dreams before (one concerning the mobilization of my National Guard unit), and these 'feels' just like that. I just have no idea what to think about it. This morning I made myself stay awake to remember and jot down some notes - at least concerning the last one. I am going to try and keep turning this over in my mind. Maybe it's nothing, maybe it's something. Who knows.
Verse for today:
Genesis 41 : 32, ESV
And the doubling of Pharaoh's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.


Mid-week outing

Last night I had a rare 'slow' night with the kids. By slow I mean, no soccer practice, no Autism stuff, no music stuff, etc. So, instead of kicking back and taking it easy with the kids at home I took DS2, and DD3 out to see "Horton Hears a Who". DS2 has really been wanting to go and see this movie and he has really been digging in and trying to do a good job at school and his homework. Since he was rewarded with a "homework pass" for going the extra mile and doing some extra credit work on Tuesday, I thought it was a great opportunity.

When we arrived DD3 was like, "I don't want to see this movie again" (she had seen it as a field trip with her kindergarten class for good behavior). *sigh* It took a little coaxing but she finally agreed to it.

It was a fun movie, and I liked how the writers, etc. extended this classic to about 90 minutes. Some people who might be sensitive to how certain things are portrayed might find some slights here or there, but I found that if you step back you will see that the "stereotype" was actually merged with a few others that are not normally found together. Overall though, we had a good time.

I wanted to touch back on two recent topics, one was about my Musical Monday concerns, and the other is a situation with my local church.

I received a note back from Sovereign Grace music who informed me that I was doing a good job providing links, etc. so they were ok with it. But they also let me know that they were not speaking for other music sources, so... I will just be careful to make sure I provide adequate credit.

The second item is a little more sensitive. I agree with PJ on her recent comment about secrets within the church. They can be like a cancer if untreated. But I am concerned that the probing around and bringing what little I know to light may cause more harm than good. What I am concerned about is enough to force me to consider changing churches, but I do not want to cause a division within the body of believers either. My beloved and I have moved because of (different) things we saw in another church we went to - but when we brought them up all that happened was were belittled and questioned. It took almost ten years for things to grow to the point where others finally saw it, the issue confronted, and a massive painful split occurred. Many of our friends continue to go to that church, and the leadership in place now is much better. So much so, that we are considering (well, at least I am) moving back there. Right now, I am still in prayer as to what to do. Our care group leader and I have talked about this, and have agreed to pray more about it. One 'scary' thing that came up was that we both thought about doing the 'Home Church'. I am nervous about such a thing - well, I may bring that up in a latter blog, but suffice it to say, that I have had 'inklings' about my involvement in some fashion or another. I always chicken out because of my own failings and sinfulness and pride.
Verse for today:
Psalm 119 : 25-32, ESV
My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart! [5]


Where to turn

My beloved and I have gone through this before. There is this underlying feeling that something is wrong, and we are left to try and figure out what God's will is for us.

I am not sure how much to write about here as there are some close friends who occasionally read these ramblings. It's not like I am trying to conceal a sin. A situation has come to light at the local church I attend and it has caused me some concern. So much so that I am considering taking my family away from that church and to another one. This is hard because we are deeply involved there. We serve in ministry there. Our children are involved in a lot of activities there. We have made a few friends there. But at the same time this issue has caused me to rethink our continued involvement there. And it is not just my family.

Should we stick it out? Should we bring these concerns to others? Right now it is not possible to bring this issue to the person as I should not know the situation.
Verse for today:
Titus 1 : 7-9, ESV
For an overseer, [4] as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound [5] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.


What a crazy day

My boss is away on vacation - which is good, because everyone needs a vacation from time to time - so I have been extremely busy. As a result I don't have a single theme to run with today.

The first item I want to mention is a cross shaped MP3 player. Personally I think this is pretty cool. It comes with the New Testament already loaded (KJV), and has 1GB of storage space so that you can upload more Bible versions, or the OT, or even praise and worship songs. According to the website (click on the image for more info - and no, I am not getting anything out of it) it sells for $59, which is a little steep for me right now, but not unreasonable considering the storage space, and the preloaded audio Bible.

The next thing is that I joined two more groups on Facebook (I know, I know... it's out of hand), both are fan pages. One is for TJ "Stonewall" Jackson, and the other is for Robert E. Lee. I know that both of these men are controversial in the light of the American Civil War, and all that goes along with that. But as I have studied these two men (in particular) I have come to know them both as God fearing individuals.

I know that General Lee was anti-slavery (read about him from the at the Arlington House website - or even better, visit the site in person) and freed those slaves that he gained when he married (not right away unfortunately). Lee was a man who struggled with what was the right thing to do, and in the end he performed his duty to the best of his ability.

I have admired General Jackson for a long time. Ever since I learned about his courage at the First Battle of Bull Run. A quote I found at the Facebook group page pretty much sums up why I respect this man;

"My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me"

This is how we should all live our lives when it comes to what God has called us to. But I know we (and I include myself in this statement) we too often do not. We weigh the costs a little too much. What both of these men 'suffer' from is that they both considered their responsibility to their homeland more important than their responsibility to man. I can say such things because I can look back over time and use that as my guide. But if I were to stand in their shoes I cannot honestly say I would have done anything different. The same could be said about those who stood in the crowd before Pilate calling for him to release Barabbas (Matthew 27) instead of the One I now call my Lord and Savior. To believe anything else is to misjudge my own sinfulness and tendencies (barring the influence and affect of the Holy Spirit who now dwells within me).
Verse for today:
Matthew 27 : 15-23, ESV
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”