No matter where you go, there you are

It doesn't matter how far you travel the one constant thing is you. You may be in a new environment, a new town, or even a new country - but you can never get away from yourself. Even when your friends or family are not around, you are. I bring this up because i've seen many people act in totally different ways when they think no one is around and/or watching. One can put on a 'face', but they will have to live with themselves in the end. What got me thinking about this today is the game i have been looking forward to for so long has finally hit the shelves. One of the big selling points is that the player can act like either Luke Skywalker (a good guy), Han Solo (a kind of Neutral guy), or like Count Dooku (a real bad guy). The game even keeps track of your 'karma' and it will change how you can interact with the rest of the game world. I have never been one drawn to games like "Grand Theft Auto" or things like that, but i know many are. I don't even begin to know where to try and understand why so many people are. My boss and his son came to an agreement. Do not play any games that you would not do in real life. Now, that's an over simplified statement - but i think the concept comes across. If i need to go on a business trip i should behave as if my beloved is right there with me. If i am playing a video game, or any type of game, i need to behave as a Christian. Just because it's not real does not mean it that it is a moral choice you are making. Just because it is easy (like copying movie DVD or music CD's) does not make it acceptable. Just because you disagree with a law does not mean you are free to violate it. The only exception would be when it crosses with what God says is right and wrong. I have been voting for... well let's just say this is not my first election. ;-) The candidate that i voted for does not always win the election (big surprise there), but i need to keep in mine just Who has established the "king". While i was on active duty my team and i got to interacting with a man who was on his way to a formal function at the Officer's Club. I had noticed a Bible on his dashboard and made a comment about the Good Book (probably not an acceptable thing to do in uniform). Some how he turned it into a tirade against the administration of the time. I let him go on for a good two minutes before i said to him that it is God who established the rulers of all times, and in all places. He stopped, thought for a moment and said, "I will have to give that some thought". The point i think i am trying to make is that we are to be good and seek to follow Him, no matter where we are, or who is elected. We may not agree with those who are elected, or the laws that are passed, but we are to be good citizens and act as if it was God Himself sitting on the seat of government - for He is. For He has ordained all things for His greater glory and purpose - wether we understand it or not. Verse for today: Romans 13 : 1-7, ESV Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.


A work in progress

Self discipline is hard! When i was in basic training discipline came easy. You did what you were supposed to or you did push ups. Pretty much a no brainer. But as we get older, and we have to actually do things for our selves it gets harder. Why? Because there are fewer boundaries. You can do pretty much what you want. If you don't feel like going to work you don't have to - but there will be consequences. The consequences can help you make the right choice (like the push ups did in basic training), but what about the times when there are no apparent consequences? At least not immediately. I found a verse of scripture referenced in a place i did not expect - but it sort of struck a cord for where my mind has been of late:
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6, ESV)
I have been becoming more "thirsty" (I think, i hope, and i pray this is so) of late. This is a very good thing in my opinion. But as i look around i am not sure where to go to attempt to quench such thirst. Draw from the wrong pool and a poison can set in. By God's grace i have such a wealth of resources to turn to... but i am not sure exactly how to do it. That sounds... odd i'm sure. I'm not exactly sure how to pursue this on my own... and i am even more unsure if/how to approach someone to try and mentor me... especially as it's probably going to be over the web. Verse for today: Revelation 21 : 1-8, ESV Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place [1] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, [2] and God himself will be with them as their God. [3] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”


Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Listening to the news this morning you would have thought the end was near. "Oh no! the weather will be cold and windy today!" I know it's only October and all, but come on people this is the Fall after all. Winter is coming and the weather is bound to change. There's not even any snow coming our way! Relax people, we will have snow soon enough. For now just enjoy the opportunity to snuggle in your living rooms and enjoy someone's company. I took my lunch break to run down to GameStop to pick up my pre-ordered copy of Fallout 3 (PC) and the "Prima Collector's Edition Game Guide". I still do not have the laptop to play it on, but that's ok. Anyway... i walk into the mall and what greets my eyes but Christmas decorations! Now, i am not one who is turned off by this in general. For me it is a welcome diversion to all that is Halloween. I love Fall, i think i mentioned this before, but the one thing i am not fond of during this time of year is all of the Halloween things. I am not fond of horror movies, and i am not particularly fond of trick-or-treating. But that is me. I know there are many who enjoy the festivities, etc. so for the most part i keep my opinions of these things to myself. But when i saw the Christmas decorations i was, slightly, filled with joy. Not because of the mad retail season, but because we are ever closer to the season of celebrating the coming of the Christ. So dread not my heart - the Yule is coming! Verse for today: Luke 1 : 26-33, ESV In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed [2] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” [3] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”


Music Monday - 20081027

What a weekend! I am very grateful to get back to work so i can recuperate. :) I got nothing done to move the deck project forward, but i was able to do so many other things with the family that it's all good. :) A quick safety tip: DON'T SHAKE WARM SODA CANS! By God's grace neither i, nor DS2, were injured while working on his science fair experiment. Part of it was seeing how much pressure a can of soda has when it is shaken at various temperatures. Long story short, the Coke can blew its top. I had soda in my hair, my eyes, my clothes. It was everywhere. We aborted the rest of that series of tests for safety reasons. I was lucky... i only received a slight cut to my hand. But my son LOVED it! LOL - boys Last week i mentioned in passing my concern over the possibility of my deceiving myself in regards to my relationship with Christ. I don't know about any readers out there, but i am concerned about my lack of 100% certainty in this regard. I've grown up seeing how "certain" people have been in various things. Certain that such-and-such was going to happen. Certain that they were going to do something. Then, in the end, the thing they were so certain was going to be... wasn't. I include myself in being certain of things. I mean, if one Jesus' disciples could do things like sell Him out after being with Him and see Him heal the sick, walk on water, feed the multiples, speak with such authority about the things of God... how can i be so sure that i would not do the very same thing? I feel love for my God Jesus Christ... and yet i feel my failures too... and there are times... sometimes whole "seasons"... were i feel i fail Him more than i please Him. Over the weekend the song i've picked for this week gave me some comfort...
My Savior My God from the album Anything Worth Saying I am not skilled to understand What God has willed, what God has planned I only know at his right hand Stands one who is my savior I take him at his word and deed Christ died to save me this I read And in my heart I find a need For him to be my savior That he would leave his place on high And come for sinful man to die You count it strange, so once did I Before I knew my savior My savior loves, my savior lives My savior's always there for me My God he was, my God he is My God he's always gonna be Yes, living, dying; let me bring My strength, my solace from this spring That he who lives to be my king Once died to be my savior That he would leave his place on high And come for sinful man to die You count it strange, so once did I Before I knew my savior My savior loves, my savior lives My savior's always there for me My God he was, My God he is My God he's always gonna be song journal - from the website

I was reading my "One Year Book of Hymns" and stumbled across a hymn entitled "I Am Not Skilled To Understand" whose words blew me away. I didn't bother searching for the melody: its obscurity indicated antiquity. So I started from scratch and sang it without the chorus for over a year at our church, which seemed to embrace it as it was. But I wanted to take it over he top. Sitting at a red light one night, a melody of excitement and a lyric that seemed to pull together the concept of Christ, my Advocate, always pleading my case, was born. And the song finally exploded on the chorus like I always knew it should. i do not understand everything, but I know that Jesus Christ loves me and is alive defending me. That calls for a big chorus.

-more thoughts in cd jacket


While running from one thing to another yesterday i was able to follow along with the Panthers game. For the first 3 quarters i was not a happy camper. The Cardinals were walking all over the Panthers. Then something happened... i was smiles. I was even able to watch the final three plays (William 16 yard run to secure a first down, and the two kneel downs by Jake). I know it was not much, but i really enjoyed watching that run. I looked over the Buccaneers and the Panthers schedule for the rest of the year. I am not going to judge who has the tougher schedule - but i am grateful for the one game lead the Panthers currently enjoy. The NFC South might come down to the final two weeks or so of the season! It makes the Monday night game the Bucs come to Charlotte all the more exciting for me! I have decided to not get my hopes up for the Super Bowl... i just want one thing for Christmas... and that is an NFC South championship for the Panthers! Verse for today: Isaiah 55 : 6-9, ESV “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


I am just ramblin' man

As most of you have probably figured out... it's election season again. I am not posting to stump for any candidate in particular, but i get irritated at the news outlets and all the political commercials. Maybe i am just cynical but it's practically impossible for someone who is employed full time to wade through a really decipher what is true, what is exaggerated, and what is false. And there is no party that is exempt from it. And i don't feel that it is necessarily the candidates fault in all cases. No one person can be fully informed on all subjects at all times. It is not possible for them to read every line of every ad that is being placed in their name. In the end they have to rely upon those who they have surrounded themselves with - that is what we eventually judge them on. I think the debates are good, and if you are fortunate enough to listen to the candidate early enough in the campaign you might actually hear what they think on a certain subject. In the end i vote my conscience. Does this person believe in similar things that i do? Because i don't care if the world is promised to me, they will be lucky if they get half of the things they promised even before Congress, let alone passed. There are things i have heard about both the Republican and Democratic candidate that distress me - and I will not elaborate on that here. In the end my trust is in God. God allows rulers to rise, nations to fall (or succeed). I pray for this country, i will pray for things i feel are good, against things i feel are bad, but in all things i just pray for His will to be done here, as they are in heaven. Tomorrow i am driving out to get together with a couple of other old soldiers. Guys that i used to drill with but are now retired like me. It's been like pulling teeth. Fortunately we all still have ours. ;-) If everyone shows up it will just be four of us. It's not that we are too old, it's just that we've not kept in better touch with some of the others who have retired. Now that i am thinking about it... not many did retire. They just let their contracts run out. One of the guys coming tomorrow though - didn't retire, he's just old enough to actually seem like he did! lol I'm not sure how much i am going to get done on the deck this weekend. With rain and church events there's just not very much time. I might be able to swing the hammer a couple of times, or possibly just pick up the nail gun offered to me last weekend. We'll see. Verse for today: Proverbs 24 : 17-22, ESV Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?


Odds and ends

For the past week or so i've had, what i feel, to be a pretty good blog subject - i just can't seem to pull it together. Both my home and professional life have shifted into a higher gear. At home the deck is coming along. I've already updated the status on that not long ago, but suffice it to say that if things keep going as they have been it should be completed by Thanksgiving. Last night i mowed the grass for what i hope to be the last time of the season. I also trimmed back the bushes so that the branches were not as full to catch snow and damage them over the winter. Once this is done i need to move indoors and paint both of the boys bedrooms. All these projects, plus the routine of all three kids being in school and some after school activities has left me "dizzy" for lack of a better word coming to mind. At work one of my co-workers moved on to "bigger and better things" leaving us a man short. Another co-worker has so much vacation time that he has to take every Monday off from now through the end of the year so as to not lose any. My boss is in a similar situation - who i cover for while he is out. I am very grateful to have a job, but it keeps one busier than usual. Two things i am fairly happy about... one is that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been 'renewed' for an entire season. That is originally Fox only ordered 13 episodes, but it was announced last night that they have ordered another 9 episodes. Yes! lol I have enjoyed this series as it continues to develop across the series. Sarah is learning that John is growing up - and as parents don't we all have to come to this realization some time? Our job is to prepare out children to stand and go out on their own. John is learning how to spread his wings. Even Cameron (the terminator assigned to protect John seems to be 'evolving', learning. Even some of the 'background' characters are growing. The other thing i am somewhat excited about is that Fallout 3 is released next Tuesday. It has been a very long time since i was able to sit down and just play a game - and that will not be changing all that much after Tuesday either. That's ok, but i hope to get a chance to play and explore the game some. One delay in my anticipated participation of the game has been that this has been a 'bad' month in my savings account. My anticipated purchase of a personal laptop is going to be delayed. I am not bummed about this as i am hoping to take advantage of some 'Black Friday' deals. I was excited to learn that the system i would be looking for was going to be within reach of my budget, but i've been told that the prices should drop even more as the economy woes start affecting the Christmas shopping season. Good for us "consumers", not so much for the retailers. Verse for today: Psalm 109 : 26-28, ESV Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it! Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!


Music Monday - 20081020

Another week of Fall... Ah! The smell of fireplaces and the sound of football. The explosion of color and the cool crisp air. I absolutely love this time of year. This weekend was a busy one. I was able to get the trenches for the deck support beams finished as well as the cement poured for the posts. I will need to make yet another trip to Lowes, but this time to make a return, and pick up some gravel to put around the beams to help prevent rot. But progress was made! \o/ This morning i got back to the gym for the first time in seventeen days. :/ That too felt good, but there are other things that have my beloved almost wrapped up in knots. :( I am unable to help her see through these trials of late. As I pondered this over the weekend i finally relied that her sense of peace does not come from me ultimately. It comes from our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have been failing her in trying to lead her in my own strength, and not through prayer. :( I will be working on this one... For some time i have pondered my salvation. I mean, i am a fairly intelligent guy (and i don't mean that in a boastful way) and i can recite passages out of the Bible, i can participate in a Bible study. But i still found myself wondering... when the day comes... will i be on the right, or the left. Will i be welcomed into the wedding feast or be left standing on the doorstep where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. God is no respecter of persons. My deeds and abilities are not what determines whether i will be welcomed in. And i struggle with sin. Anger, selfishness, pride. I often fail not only my Lord, but my beloved, my family, my friends, my church. I know my acceptance is not based on my own works, but on what Christ accomplished on the cross. This morning it was nice to run into a local Pastor at the gym, whom i had never met before. We had two brief conversations and he told me that he "knew" i was a believer. I asked him how he "knew", and he said "I'm not sure, maybe it was the Holy Spirit". Now, again, he is not the be all and end all determination of my entrance into heaven, but it was good to hear something like that. Ok, enough about me... my song for this week...
On My Cross FFH How wide is Your love That You would stretch Your arms And go around the world And why for me would a Savior's cry be heard I don't know Why You went where I was meant to go I don't know Why You love me so Those were my nails That was my crown That pierced Your hands and Your brow Those were my thorns Those were my scorns Those were my tears that fell down And just as You said it would be You did it all for me And after You counted the cost You took my shame, my blame On my cross How deep is Your grace That you could see my need And chose to take my place And then for me, these words I'd hear You say Father no Forgive them for they know not what they do I will go Because I love them so Those were my nails that was my crown that pierced your hands and your brow those were my thorns those were my scorns those were my tears that fell down and just as you said it would be you did it all for me and after you counted the cost you took my shame, my blame on my cross those were my nails that was my crown that pierced your hands and your brow those were my thorns those were my scorns those were my tears that feel down and just as u said it would be u did it all for me and after u counted the cost you took my shame my blame on my cross after u counted the cost u took my shame, my blame on my cross
The truth of it all is that this world is fleeting. We can never be 100% certain of anything except in God. Man will fail, friends will fail us, institutions, even organized religion can fail fail us - but in the end God endures. I may fail Him, but He never fails me. Verse for today: Ecclesiastes 3 : 9-15, ESV What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. [1]


It has been a a long time

...since I felt 100%. :( For almost 4 weeks now i have been fighting a cold... but some have asked if it's allergies. To be honest, that would make more sense because colds just don't last so long! An unfortunate side affect has been me getting an upper respiratory infection, that and I've not been able to get to the gym in over a week. I was all set to go this morning until my "electric leash" went off at 0120. Then I couldn't get back to sleep until around 0230. I just reset the alarm and will try again tomorrow. I've also noticed that my blogging has slacked off lately. Oh well... it is, what it is. Last week i was getting more and more excited about the up coming Panthers vs. Buccaneers game. I really felt like, IF the Panthers could clear this hurdle, i could allow myself to get excited and perhaps get my hopes up for a post season, maybe even a NFC South title. But alas it was not to be. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers totally dominated the Panthers. Since i predominately "watch" the games through my cell phone it is hard to really see how these things play out, but even reading the play-by-play i could tell that the Bucs owned this game. The next test for the Panthers will be as they host the New Orleans Saints. Now, i have a slight confession to make - the Saints have always been a team a root for, when it does not conflict with my other team (Panthers now, Redskins in the past). There is just something in me that really pulls for the underdog - and the Saints have been bad for a long time, and the last few years they seemed to have pulled themselves up. So, even if the Panthers lose (again) this weekend, i will not be too all disappointed. Still - i really want the Panthers to win. Susan, i would like to make it a point of saying thatnk you for not rubbing it in! :) I have continued to follow the happenings of Fallout 3 as it gets closer to its release date. They finally released the recommended system specs for the PC version so i am keeping my eyes open for good deals on a laptop. I want to use the laptop for personal data keeping, story writing, the occasional vacation trip so the kids can play games and watch movies on the road, and for me to play Fallout 3. :) However, after looking around and asking a few people who are more savvy than i am, this purchase will wait until around Thanksgiving time. Nothing like trying to get in on the bargin shopping of Black Friday. Last week i decided to hire a handy man to help me get past a hurdle on my beloved's birthday present - a deck for the house. Some may remember that a couple of months back i was all excited about getting the post holes dug, but since then i have been "paralyzed" with trying to figure out how to do the posts - how high to pour the cement, etc. This guys was great and we were able to get all eight post holes (it is a free standing deal) prepped. My next step is to get the cement mixed and poured, and to dig four 12" trenches. Once that has been accomplished i will give my "handy man" a call back so he can square me away on the next phase. I will have to box out an access to a sump pump, but other than that it will be pretty straight forward. I really hope to get this finished by Christmas. :) I need to run for today... but it feels good to blog again. Verse for today: Proverbs 15 : 3-11, ESV 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. In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked. The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. [2] The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die. Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!


Ramblings of the first order

A few weeks back i was sent an e-mail about the upcoming movie about Billy Graham. It looks very interesting (at least to me). I went to the official website for this cool widget: It's not in what i would even call a limited release, but i would encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in this man i would encourage you all to search out a movie theater and watch. This is a man who amazes me. I am looking forward to watching this movie. For the first time in several weeks i picked up my notes for my "long" short story. I actually would like to go "full length" (about the size of a 250 page paperback) with it, so I am taking my time. I have five characters i am 'fleshing' out. I have three main 'sections' roughly outlined. I have the background worked out. I know the end that the characters will be moving towards, and i have a rough idea of how they are going to move in that direction. The one thing i noticed about 'full length' books is that they are flush with details. Often a page worth of writing is used to set the mood and describe the environment... all the while keeping the reader interested. Not an easy task to be sure. One bad thing though... almost every time i review the main characters, i dislike the names i've chosen. I dunno - maybe i will just settle on them and move on. I could just me now... i have the hundreds of pages completed and edited, i actually am going to get published and the deadline looms to be submitted and 15 minutes before i send it up i run through the whole thing and change one or more of the names! lol (note, the picture i used above is from the released pictures for Fallout 3... which i am looking forward to very, very much) Speaking about Fallout 3, it is now only 2 weeks and 6 days away. I am still looking forward to this game's release. I am also tempering my excitement by the fact that my 'free' time will most likely not take any steps to grow between now and then, nor after. The more i read about this game (the latest is from the guy who wrote the Game Guide) only makes me think that it is unlikely i will ever fully explore the game. Which is fine, but i just know that in the years ahead i am going to be researching ways how to make the OS of my computer backwards compatible. :) Something i have been banging my head against the wall recently with my own home PC. I was able to make several of my kids older games work, but not all of them. To make matters worse my printer no longer works! After a couple hours of searching, etc. i finally stumbled across a note that Vista does not have a driver, nor does the manufacturer. *sigh* Maybe I should just create a disk image when i get everything the way i want it... and then reload it on a separate drive partition or something. :) In closing... last week at our Bible Study meeting we talked about 'abuse' within the church and i sort of came to a conclusion. All my Christian life i felt called into some form of leadership role within the body of Christ. But lately it seems like the Lord is showing me that this is not the case. Not that i can't, or won't, be in such a role in the future, but that my place is more in the support variety, which is not a bad place to be. Not just that is now, but that may have been always the case. My own pride and assumptions may have led me to believe that a leadership role was for me. It does not matter what role i play within the body, i just want to be associated with the body! I am more than willing to be a street sweeper in heaven, so long as i am there to worship my God and my Creator, and not left out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Verse for today: Proverbs 8 : 12-21, ESV “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. [1] I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.


Music Monday - 20081006

The past week has been a blur, and the coming week does not promise to be anymore in focus. :( So, instead of a 'deep' song i though i would share an instrumental... Fall is my favorite season of the year, and having grown up in the Washington DC area it usually does not wane until after the Christmas season. Christmas in turn is my favorite holiday season. Growing up in a family where presents were fairly sparse helped me curb the natural greed instinct (despite my mothers truly heroic efforts). I have always been captivated by the birth of Christ. I know He was not born on December 25th and all that, but that does not stop me from being in wonder of the whole thing. God's condescension to take on human form, not just our form, but in to begin in our weakest and most dependent state. How God the Father sent the angels to announce His birth. The reaction of the shepherds. The wise men from the east. How He then grew into a man and proclaimed the Good News. And then, how He willingly went to the cross to die for me. I 'suffer' through the Halloween season, i feast my way through Thanksgiving, but for me Christmas season began five days ago. Verse for today: Luke 2 : 1-7, ESV In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when [1] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, [2] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


Football and/or Fallout Fridays

Ah the smell and feel of Fall. This is my absolute most favorite time of year. The colors, the temperatures, the knowledge that soon i will not have to cut my grass again for several months, and the sound of football on Sundays. When i was younger i loved sitting around and watching the Washington Redskins play. My first memory of the game was from when i lived with my father in Brooklyn, New York. I still remember pictures in my mind of seeing the game being played on his black and white screen. Not long after that he took me and my brother to our first NFL game. The Redskins had come to town to play the New York Giants. This how i became an NFL football fan. :) Now, as i grew older and moved to live with my mom i learned what it was like to be a ravenous football fan. I mean, the whole body gets involved, the emotions, the muscles, the whole body! It was too much for me and i started to 'fall away'. Until the NFL announced their decision to expand to 30 teams starting in 1995. I thought, "this is my chance to follow a team from its inception. No one can accuse me of being a bandwagon fan". Thus my 'love' for the Carolina Panthers. :) This weekend the Panthers play host to the Kansas City Chiefs. No offense to the Chiefs, but i really hope the Panthers are poor hosts and pretty much take the game to them. The Panthers have not done well at home under Coach Fox. I have no idea why this is the case, but there it is. And with the Panthers being a 9 point favorite, and the Chiefs having a hard time winning so far this year, it is the perfect opportunity for a Panther let down. :( May God grant each of you a peace and joy filled weekend. Verse for today: Psalm 11, ESV In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” [1]

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.


Tales from the Darkside

A longer time ago than i would care to remember i was in a car with two friends of mine. We were doing the "guys hanging out thing" when somehow the conversation turned into a banter of Star Wars and the faith of myself and one of the my other friends. We were witnessing to our friend using a contemporary "tool" if you will. For the past week or so i have been contemplating what it means to die to myself. I don't know if i fully understand the passages where Jesus is quoted saying "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, & Luke 9:23) There are many examples of people dieing for others outside of Jesus. Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon are two that immediately came to mind. But what is it that Jesus is calling ME to? In some regards a call to throw yourself in harms way can be easier to bear then the little things that all add up. Please do not misunderstand what i am saying here. I am in now way taking away from the incredible sacrifice of those who have given their lives for another. It is in the end the most that anyone can do for another. But it can be harder making those daily "little" sacrifices. The deferring of your preferences for others. Why do i consider this to be more difficult? Because, at least in my mind, the little things add up over time. The enemy whispers in your ear about the 'fruit' of taking for yourself. And it is in our sinful nature to want and to be selfish. We do not have to teach our children to be selfish. Some take to the teaching of giving and sacrifice easier than others, but even the most generous take for themselves from time to time. This is why things in life are hard. When we take the easy path down range consequences are sure to follow. And I struggle with taking the initiative in my own life. This is true in all things that are worthy of pursuing. In order to succeed routinely one must be willing to do the hard thing and take initiative. One reason Thomas Jonathon Jackson, aka "Stonewall", was so successful was that he was willing to work his men hard in order to seize the initiative and take decisive action. Early on his men complained about the workload. They did not see what he was doing. He has been quoted as saying, "I am obliged to sweat them tonight, that I may save their blood tomorrow." This is best understood by studying Jackson and his "Valley Campaign" of 1862.

YODA: Run! Yes. A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger… fear… aggression. The dark side of the Force are they.

Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

Ever notice how easy it is to succumb to anger? How quick we react when we have been "wronged"?

LUKE: Vader. Is the dark side stronger?

YODA: No… no… no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

LUKE: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?

YODA: You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

What is hardest is to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are things that need to be painstakingly nurtured, reinforced.

LUKE: I'll try

YODA: Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

LUKE: I can't believe it.

YODA: That is why you fail.

What is it that holds us back? We know these things (as Christians) intellectually, but why is it that we fail? Because we are inclined towards laziness and selfishness. It causes us trouble, it takes work. We succeed when we put off the old and take on the newness in Christ. When we die to ourselves we no longer care for what we want, but what we can do for others. There is a part in Eric Haney's Book Inside Delta Force that speaks volumes (to me anyway):
All day long, I crossed that mountain from one side to the other.... I would arrive exhausted and breathless at one RV (check point) only to be sent to the next back on the other side I had just come from. The mountain was too big to contour around, and the lay of the was such that I could never anything approximating a direct approach or maintain the hard-earned high ground for any length of time. Never getting anywhere, back and forth across the same mountain. It was a masterful torture. But then I had a revelation. What difference could it possibly make if I crossed back and forth over this mountain until doomsday? A mountain is a mountain, time was time, and route selection was route selection. The only that that mattered was speed and ground made good.... The frustration and mental torture I had been suffering were completely of my own making - and completely within my power to disregard.
- and -
I was physically spent and sore in every part of my body, But as I reflected on what I had undergone, I felt a calm sense of satisfaction and contentment. I had not just survived an ordeal, because survival in a sense if passive. No, I had conquered. But conquered what? I had to think about that a while, and then I realized: myself.
What had Eric Haney realized? That when he no longer minded, it no longer mattered. I think this post better describes yet another aspect of why i admire the samurai so much. The strived to die to themselves every day in order to serve their lord. "If by seeing one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in 'the Way'. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling." (from Haguakure) Am i perfect in this... not by a long shot. But i feel that it is a noble pursuit. Verse for today: Hebrews 9 : 24-28, ESV For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.