Music Deferred

My apologies to my fans of my "Music Monday" offerings, but i have failed to get a song ready in time for today. My weekends are pretty much a blur right now, and i was focusing on a short story contest entry. Right now we have a Bible Study meeting every Friday night, DS1 has two soccer games over the weekend, church, Awana, and any other 'social' activities that try and get squeezed in. My beloved and i are working on trimming some things, but that takes time. At least the end of the school year is coming. \o/ Yea! I have never entered a writing contest on my own. When i was in grade school i remember a teacher submitting something i had written to some kind of local thing, but it didn't win anything and i remember being discouraged. But, recently i was searching the internet for a hobby of mine and stumbled across a writing contest this website was sponsoring. Now, it's not a huge writing site, and it is pretty much for niche type of group - and i was a full month and a half behind from when it was announced, but i thought, why not! So two weeks ago i dove in and came up with a really rough 1st draft. I tinkered with it, but in the end i really needed an outside pair of eyes. A good WWW/blogging friend was very, very kind enough to proof it and point some things out... ok, a lot of things, but i dove back in... reworked it, corrected some things... and sent it back. This is a first for me... i rarely edit things more than once (which is a bad practice for someone who likes to write by the way), in the end i had a total of four edits. The contest ends at midnight on Thursday so i am feeling pretty good that i have it turned in a little "early". Now, there are no prizes and i have no idea how many total entries there have been... but i am eager to know how i do. My little commuter car just flipped 144k miles on it this morning. I picked it up the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2000. It had only 1 mile on the odometer and it was literally fresh off the boat. I love this little car. Back when i was commuting over 100 miles a day i was averaging over 40MPG! Now that my commute is under 20 miles a day i am still averaging over 35MPG. I have never had any problems with this little car and all i've ever had to replace on it has been the wiper blades, tires, oil (includes transmission and such), brakes, and the clutch plate. God willing i will be driving this car for another 9 years. I know that it is not always wise to buy new cars because they are not investments and the depreciate rapidly once they are driven off the dealer's lot, but i knew i would be a long term owner, and averaging the cost of buying the car over the time i've had it so far has been less per year than i expected. If i am able to drag this on for another decade or so it will be even better. Well, the NFL draft was this past weekend. It is like an oasis in between seasons for me. Now, i am not a fanatic where i digest each and every player that has entered the draft. I rarely even read about other teams (other than the Panthers), but for some reason i like to follow and watch the NFL draft in April. To be honest, it's almost like watching paint dry or grass growing. It is a long drawn out affair with endless analysis of each team and player. But there is something that stirs hope in me. Something that makes me look forward to the next football season! Over all i am happy with Carolina's draft this year. I am never a big fan of trading away your lower level round slots in the draft, but it worked out OK (so far) when Carolina picked up Jeff Otah and Jonathon Stewart last year. Even with out a first round pick i like the first three choices from this years draft: Everette Brown (DE), Sherrod Martin (CB/s), and Corvey Irvin (DT). It is way too early to say how good these young men will do in the NFL, but i like the hype. Well, like I've said in the past... all i really want is a 9-7 season... anything more than that will be gravy... and i like gravy (in this context).


I need help

How many of you out there have seen the movie Office Space? Raise your hand... come on, don't be shy. Ok, hands down. How many of you remember the scene where Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) is getting chewed out for not taking to heart the "Flair" concept?
Joanna: You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair? Stan, Chotchkie's Manager: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
Well, way back somewhere my friend "Big Mama" sent me my very first piece of flair, and it has been all down hill since. That was March of last year. It was slow at first. I was able to control myself. I'd add one or two pieces of Flair, maybe share a piece or two. Then the "makers" of the flair app on Facebook added a second flair board to display your flair. So, all of a sudden i didn't need to pick and choose which pieces i could put up. Now i had enough room and i could expand my collection. Later on, i found out i could not just collect other people's flair, i could create my own! WHAT! So far i have created 28 different pieces of flair. Some i have shared with my fellow Facebook addicts, some i haven't. My most popular creation has a mere 70 adds, while the least popular (and still listed in the search engine) have just 1 add - mine. But that has not stopped me from searching for new pieces of flair from time to time. For example, i took some "which ____ are you most like test" for fun. Afterward i thought the result funny enough i searched out a piece of flair that matched the result and added it. Other times i will just search through the top 10-20 pages of flair for that day. If something reminds me of one of my Facebook friends, i send it to them wether they have the flair app or not. *snicker* Or, if i spot one that strikes my fancy i just add it to my collection. Here is a peek of some of my favorites... Each one of them has some meaning to me. Counting from left to right (1-5), top to bottom (A-D)... A1 - DS2 struggles with Aspergers. I love him so dearly, and he tries so hard. A2 - I love music and if i am doing any kind of project i HAVE to have some kind of music playing. So much so that it is fairly common for me to have a song pop into my mind first thing in the morning, and throughout the day. This is sort of my incentive behind my Music Monday entries. A3 - I enjoy Celtic 'weaves', and i am also fond of the 'trinity' symbol. A4 - Come on, you chuckled when you saw this one too. Admit it. A5 - This one just made me smile. I don't really have voices in my head. Yes you do! No I don't! Now be quiet! B1 - There is just something about the rain. I love being out in it, i love running in it. I enjoy doing almost anything out in it. B2 - Fallout 3, enough said. B3 - This piece says it all. Jesus is my Lord. B4 - I LOVE flute music, and my most favorite music from when i was in my late teens and early twenties, was Jethro Tull. B5 - This piece of flair is a picture of the passion i feel for my beloved. C1 - This is a rune symbol combining Tolkien's initials. I love his books so... C2 - Love Kanji - again, it expressing my love for my beloved. C3 - This was the first piece of flair to represent my beloved. She loves Monet. C4 - In the Artillery we had a saying, "Once you pull the lanyard you can't get the bullet back". This is true with the words that come out of the mouth. C5 - I love to write, and when i really get going my fingers fly as fast as they can, but of course mistakes occur and i've found that i've even left out whole sentences/ideas. D1 - Have you ever just gone for a walk with no destination in mind? I love those kinds of walks. D2 - This is a snapshot of one of the statues outside the Carolina Panthers stadium. I love those statues, and i love the Panthers. D3 - This was made from a snapshot of my Honorable Order of St. Barbara award. D4 - I love music... like i said before... and this represents my desire to actually learn how to play the irish whistle D5 - This one was one of the first pieces of flair given to me... also given to me by "Big Mama", and it makes me smile. I am a little concerned... the application's developer is working on even more flair boards! So, then i will have even more room to display my flair!


This is not A La Carte people

There are things in the Bible that we are not going to like, maybe not agree with, but they are there. I once heard second hand of an acquaintance saying that he believes God lied. Back in Genesis, when God told Adam and Eve that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die he lied because they did eat the fruit, and they didn't die. I nearly choked when i heard this. I wanted to ask this young man where exactly Adam and Eve were presently. By now i am sure everyone has heard of what happened at the Miss U.S.A. contest. I did not see it live, and i really don't have a desire to look it up on YouTube, but i have read a few articles on it. While i think Carrie Prejean could have been more poised in her answer, i feel she did an OK job answering what she believed. Since then there has been a little tit for tat going on back and forth as to what is Biblicaly correct and this, to me, is fairly clear. Sexual immorality includes male-on-male or female-on-female "relations". (1 Corinthians 6:9 is one) The questions was if she (Ms. Prejean) felt that the other 46 states (that do not currently allow gay marriages) should change. She did that. The reaction by the judge has been extremely harsh and "intolerant" to say the least. Look, we live in a country that espouses the separation of church and state, and while that has come to mean no 'religious' influence upon the government, it was originally written so that the Government should have no influence on religion. I am sure that many other states will eventually legalize such unions. I do not have to agree with it, but that does not mean i have to endorse it either. If the state wants to legalize same sex marriage, that does not mean the church has to agree with - nor should they be required to perform such ceremonies. This post today is not supposed to be a reflection on government, or gay rights, or gay marriage. What i really want it to be is a reflection on how different our society and Fundies, such as myself, are becoming. We (Chrisitans, and not just fundamentalists) are to be in the world, but not of the world. It is becoming clear to me that although i have a right to worship as i please, i really do not have the right to voice my opinion. Sure, in this context what is the worst i might expect? An angry commentor (unlikely since so few actually read this blog) exercising their right to disagree? It has gotten to the point where i feel that my Federal government no longer represents me. And i am ok with that because i am but 1 in over 300 million. Such a body of government cannot possibly represent each and every individual, but more and more i am seeing where vocal few are dictating policy. Both our past President, and our current President are inacting policies that they feel are in the best interest of the country - even if that means doing things that are not necessarily popular. That is what being in charge means - making the hard decisions. Man, my ADD must really be in high gear because as i read over this blog... it is all over the place. The end example i really wanted was to give the picture of Job (i know, i know, but stick with me for just a few moments more). Job wanted to protest to God about how he felt things should be. In the end God answered Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action [1] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken."

(Job 38-1:15, ESV)

God continues on, but the gist is that man is not the end all judge of right and wrong. As Christians we must read the Bible. We must be about our Father's business. When presented with the opportunity we need to share our understanding, and allow for differences of opinion - especially when it comes to relating with the world. Do not expect the world to accept the things of God with gladness. I pray that God will give me the strength and courage of Ms. Prejean if i am called to make such a public statement.
But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers [3] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12-19, ESV)


Music Monday - 20090420

I seem to be on a Casting Crowns kick of late. When i pick up a CD i tend to play it until the laser has burned in an impression. Over and over and over. The song i am using this week though was a close second place last week. God's Word is the foundation of what we know about God. It is amazingly consistent across copies of text in both actual text (the words) and the over arching theme.
The Word is Alive Written by Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman Special guest – Tony Nolan Looking out from His throne, the Father of light and of men Chose to make Himself known and show us the way back to Him Speaking wisdom and truth into the hearts of peasants and kings He began to unveil the Word that would change the course of all things With eyes wide open, all would see The Word is alive And it cuts like a sword through the darkness With a message of life to the hopeless and afraid Breathing life into all who believe The Word is alive And the world and its glories will fade But His truth, it will not pass away It remains yesterday and forever the same The Word is alive Simple strokes on a page Eternity’s secrets revealed, carried on from age to age It speaks Truth to us even still And as the rain falls from Heaven, feeds the earth before it returns Lord, let Your Word fall on us and bring forth the fruit You deserve With eyes wide open, let us see The Word is alive His Word is alive © 2007 My Refuge Music/Club Zoo Music/SWECS Music (BMI) / Sparrow Song/Peach Hill Songs (BMI). All rights administered by EMI CMG Publishing. God’s word is infallible, inerrant, inspired and alive. This song was inspired by a personal study on how the Bible came together. I would encourage you to study through John Piper’sWhy We Believe The Bible” and Voddie Baucham’s “Nothing But The Truth.” ~2 Timothy 3:16-17 / Psalm 1 / Isaiah 55:10-11 / Isaiah 40:8 / Hebrews 4:12-13 / James 1:22-25 / John 1:1-5 / 1 John 1:1-4; 14-18 / Romans 1:16 / Psalm 119:9-11; 33-40; 105-106


Friday Ramblings

My mind is all over the map today so, sit down, strap in, and enjoy the ride... In these rough times i have considered adding "Ad Sense" sense here to my blog. I have no idea if it will really generate any income because i really don't have too many readers. Besides, i think it may interfere with my hyperlinking to everything under the sun. If anyone has an opinion on this please take a moment to share it with a comment below. I need to confess something to my readers here... i am addicted to Facebook Flair! Perhaps you've noticed that my pictures have all been round - well, at least mostly round of late. That's because i love flair! I have almost 200 pieces of flair on Facebook, and over 2200 credits. It's become an obsession. LOL I have even created over a dozen individual pieces. My most popular has 70 adds so far... not anywhere near the top 10, but... i check on my creations at least once a week, think of new ones to try and make, and search the top ten pages probably at least once a day. The next time i fast something i think i seriously need to consider facebook flair. 8) Recently i was invited to come on a battlefield tour of Sharpsburg (Antietam for my Yankee readers) with the officers and senior NCO's of my old unit next month. Unfortunately my beloved has a Ladies' crafting day scheduled with several of her friends. I actively encourage her to take such days away from the house. It helps her unwind and spend time with people in adult conversations (because we all know how well we men do at it). Well, i had also been invited on a similar tour of the Gettysburg battlefield last month. Unfortunately that weekend my beloved was on a Ladies retreat getaway, and i was also only given a single days notice. Well, this time i made arrangements for my wonderful children to spend the night at friend's houses so that i would get the opportunity to go this time. I have been wanting to do a non-self guided tour of these battlefields since i learned about them in my grade school history classes. I replied to the young man who invited me and told him that i'd be there. I started to look into getting a replacement battery and memory card for my Kodak z740. Then yesterday i realized that one of the homes that my children were to spend the night and day at was that of one of my beloved's friends who will be going to the crafting day. *sigh* So, as of right now i am back to not going... but i am not going to give in yet. On Tuesday the NFL released the regular season schedules for all of the teams. The Carolina Panthers have three prime time games, plus one game against the Washington Redskins, so i will be able to watch at least four games. There are a lot of things going on, but i am not an insider - nor am i a prognosticator. As a Panther fan from the beginning, all i want is a 9-7 season. That would give the Panthers their first back to back winning season - ever. Last year i was wanting an NFC South championship and they delivered! So, here's hoping for at least a 9-7 season. Last night i hauled my laptop out to DS1's soccer practice, hoping to get another 250-500 words done on my story for the competition (mentioned earlier this week). Well, i stared at the screen for about five minutes and realized i needed to just clear the head and brought up the games folder to play a round of solitaire when i saw the icon for Virtual Villagers. Bad move... that game is highly addictive. It's not a really face paced deal, but it has problem solving and little bit of Sim-like interaction. In the end i got NO writing done. 8( Wow... well, i will probably pay the $9.99 to download the full blown version... but for now i have to study for tonight AND get the last 500+ words done on the story so that i can get it turned in on time. Ok, i was all set to wrap up today's blog when a co-worker sent me the link for a YouTube clip. I had heard about this new singing sensation in the UK, but i had never bothered to try and track down the clip everone was talking about. Well, there it was before me and so... i clicked the link. The guy who sent it to me said that he cried when he watched it. Me, being the tough sceptic thought, "whatever". I am here to say that i was proven wrong. I admit it... my eyes watered up some. I was not able to embed the clip here because that option was removed by request - but... i highly recommend you click on the link here: Susan Boyle - You Tube Click from "Britans Got Talent" - I have watched this clip three times already. I cannot endorse this clip enough... WOW!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, ESV


Why do i do these things to myself?

I think i mentioned earlier this week, or late last week, that i entered myself into an amateur writing contest. It is not a very large contest, and there are no prizes. But this is not what vexes me (because i really enjoy writing). I am also (temporarily) leading our Bible Study (home/care/small group) and i've not yet fully prepared for tomorrow night. Obviously the priority is to be prepared for the Bible Study, so that will need to be my focus for at least the next 36 hours or so. Last night i had set a goal to add only 250 words to the first draft of my entry in progress (for the competition), and i managed to crack out over 500. I was very happy. My process for this story was, 1) come up with the setting, 2) create the main character, 3) have 2-4 "big rocks" that i want to have in the story, 4) just start typing. I don't have the experience or luxury of time to be more thorough, but i am hoping that this experience will give me a fresh set of eyes on my work. Mostly in the past i have written my stories, maybe give it a pass over edit once (maybe a second time), but that's it. I've been too concerned with some kind of rejection - that the mistakes i've made would somehow ruin all of the 'passion' i've put forth creating the story. The sad thing is, if you don't polish off the gem when you first pull it from the ground - it will forever only look like a rock. It will never glitter and shine unless it is cut and polished. So, for this endeavor i have asked an Internet friend to help me. Once i reach my desired length and conclusion (between 1.5k and 5k words) i am going to send it off for her to highlight and mark all up with a "red pen". Then i will go back over it and try and clarify things as best i can. I need an outside objective person to look it over because i rarely see my own mistakes. Especially so close to when i first put it "on paper". Sort of like my blogging... i know there are a lot of mistakes, and maybe it keeps regular readership away, but these are most definitely first draft posts. An idea comes to mind, i blog about it - hopefully in a coherent way - and i post it. Not much editing once the blog is posted...


A comparison of sorts

Last night while i was trying to fall asleep i decided to put on an old Nova special - Secrets of the Samurai Sword. Fascinating stuff, at least to me. Before i had first seen this show i was not aware that the sword smiths actually merged two types of steel, and that part of the cooling process causes the two parts to cool at different rates and thus creating the signature curvature of the sword. But it struck me as i turned off the tube and slowly drifted off to sleep that it is sort of an image of God's Word. You see, the outer part of the katana is made with the harder higher carbon steel. It gives the sword its sharp edge and allows it to hold that edge while being used to perform it's function. Meanwhile the inner core is made with the 'softer' lower carbon steel. This allows the steel to flex and absorb hard impacts. Hebrews 4:12 states, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (ESV) . And isn't that so true. I like to substitute [katana] for [two-edged sword], especially in the example i am thinking of. God's Word is sharper than any katana. It is His voice speaking into His creation. There are parts of His Word that are sharp and cut deep, and yet other parts have a softer tone. While His Word never changes, we as humans are seemingly in a constant state of flux. We can read the Word and see one thing and how it applies in our lives, and when we revisit the same sections days/weeks/months later, we see how it can also apply in another. A samurai trained endlessly with his katana. He strove to make it instinctive and in essence an extension of himself. As a samurai of Christ i should do the same. Not to be wielded as a weapon, but to know my Lord and how He is working in me.


The writing process

I go through seasons... and i don't think that i am the only one. It starts with beginning projects. You know, looking to develop interests and hobbies - agreeing to take on more things for work/church/friends. Then, as the projects pile up a sense of being overwhelmed. Then, a purging so to speak - where you allow the plates to crash to the ground. Then a general retreat into the "countryside" to isolate and recover. I am in the "gathering" phase so to speak... i really do try and regulate myself on how much i take on, but i am not very good at it. Especially since i am an involved father and husband, so there are times when "additional duties" are assigned to me. Well, recently i tossed my "kabuto" into the ring of a writing contest. It's not a big deal, no prizes (that i know of), and it's only for a maximum of 5k words, but the handicap is that it is due on the 30th... while all of the other contestants have had a month and a half head start. I am not concerned about my chances of winning, i would just like to get some constructive criticism from a new source. My main concern right now is that a book that i've been using to try and self teach myself has received a pretty harsh critique from a source i am not all that familiar with. Being such a noob/outsider to writing i am concerned that i am steering myself wrong. Aside from the harsh review of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, i find myself struggling with the very basics of English. Things like verbs, adverbs, adjectives... i honestly could not dissect a sentence if my life depended on it. I have submitted a few small pieces to various sources for critique and in general i receive favorable reviews and some helpful remarks, but i don't have a mentor. Nor could i afford a tutor, or to go back to take a college course. So, in the meantime i will plug alone and self-teach myself as best i can. If anyone can suggest a ground level, basic English grammar and structure book... i would be indebted to you - thank you in advance. Another "plate" i've started spinning is a nearby battlefield tour of Sharpsburg will be taking place on May 2nd. My 'problem' is that i have already encouraged my beloved to take a day and go out and be with her friends that day. Now, i am not trying to shirk my responsibilities of being a father, but i've never had a professional tour of any battlefield and it's been something i have longed to do. With the opportunity of going and spending the day with some old army buddies, touring the Sharpsburg battlefield i have been trying to find some friends of my kids who might be interested in having a sleep over. Coming back to the topic of writing... i think i would need the following basic reference materials... 1) A basic grammar reference. You know, to teach me about things like verbs, adjectives, punctuation, etc. 2) I could really use a citing reference. Something that would help illustrate how you are supposed to reference titles of books, articles, magazines, movies, etc. I am most definitely clueless on this. 3) Last but not least, a beginners reference to writing style. Maybe something that helps me know what kind of sentence structures to avoid... something to help me know about passive, present tense. Perhaps something that would help me improve upon my subject references so that who/what i am talking about in my writing doesn't get lost. Again, thank you in advance for any helpful references... Well, i have more to ramble on about... but i am out of time for today...


Music Monday - 20090413

While i was out to pick up the ham for our Easter Dinner i popped in my Casting Crowns "The Alter and the Door" CD. It's the first album i purchased for myself from them, and i must say that i'd have the whole collection by now if i had more "extra" cash laying around. This is a contemporary Christian music group that lives and breaths the gospel. Because of where i live, and the location of the store where i was to pick up a scrumptious spiral cut honey glazed ham, i had the opportunity to listen to the entire Cd start to finish. There were actually two tracks that stuck out and i weighed which one to pick for my Music Monday selection this week. In the end i picked this video because it seemed more relevant for me, where i am today.
What This World Needs Written by Mark Hall and Hector Cervantes Special guests – Gunnar Miller, Madison Miller, Logan Miller, Tripp Weir What this world needs is not another one hit wonder with an axe to grind Another two bit politician peddling lies Another three ring circus society What this world needs is not another sign waving super saint that’s better than you Another ear pleasing candy man afraid of the truth Another prophet in an Armani suit What this world needs is a Savior who will rescue A Spirit who will lead A Father who will love them in their time of need A Savior who will rescue A Spirit who will lead A Father who will love That’s what this world needs What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside Have we become so blind that we can’t see God’s gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance Blending in so well that people can’t see the difference And it’s the difference that sets the world free Jesus is our Savior, that’s what this world needs Father’s arms around you, that’s what this world needs That’s what this world needs © 2007 My Refuge Music/Club Zoo Music/SWECS Music (BMI) (admin. by EMI CMG Publishing)

In my opinion the (American) church suffers from thinking too highly of itself. Thinking that all it needs to do is preach messages of "How to live a prosperous life", or "How to feel good about yourself", but rarely (if ever) preach about the gospel. Heaven forbid that a message about the sinfulness of man, or the Holiness of God be preached less we offend someone. A time of Christianity's prominence of influence in American culture has past. I am not sure if i will ruffle any feathers when i say this, but the church needs to speak the truth in love, be willing to point out that man is not inherently good, to identify sin as sin, and not just say "well that's how God made me". First off, God did not make man with sin, or to sin. Man has chosen sin, and the whole reason we needed the Scriptures and a Savior in the first place was because we do not follow Him on our own. I have never been a follow of the "Jerry Falwell" types. Rush Limbaugh irritates me to no end. We as Christians need to get our noses in the book, and our knees bent in prayer. Then, as the Spirit leads we can present our views on things - but in the understanding that God does not reveal all things to all people. Even me! I by no means claim to know all things... but, if we present something to others... and that message is rejected... we (and i am most definitely including myself in this statement) need to learn not to take it personally. It is not up to us to open up someone's heart or mind and convince them. We are only to spreed the seeds that God has given to us. God will "...have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Romans 9:15, ESV) I've recently began to reread the book of Romans. What a powerful book. It will humble the proud and give encouragement to the weary. It is my favorite book in the New Testament, and my second favorite in the entire Bible (right behind Job). Right behind the four Gospels, this book is the most important book for newer believers (IMO).


You can't get to Sunday without going through Friday

The quiet little manger scene with Mary and Joseph all huddled around the manger. The animals are all asleep, the stars silently watching from above. Even the shepherds and wise men from the East are all at a respectful distance in silent meditation. The baby become boy growing up and filling his parents with wonder, staying behind in the temple to discuss the things of God. Boy become man who begins to draw others around him and speak amazing things of God. Slowly a movement starts and those in authority begin to feel threatened. That is until they manage to get him arrested and executed. Then those who were supposed to guard the tomb report back that their "guardian" has managed to slip through their fingers and is who knows where. As Christians we observe today as "Black Friday". The main focus of the world in regards to the things of Christ are on Easter (or Resurrection) Sunday. The day Christ rose from the grave, defeating sin and conquering death - the penalty for sin. While Christmas is the celebration of God become man, and Easter is the celebration of the resurrection and the conquering of death, today is the day that is the linchpin that ties it all together. Why did God come to Earth? Why was Christ born? What is the significance of Christ's resurrection? Why are these things important? Because once sin entered into the world the law of thermodynamics was put in motion. The world as we know it began to decay and die. The resurrection is the evidence of death, the penalty of sin, being defeated. The birth of Christ is the evidence and beginning of God entering time to ultimate end with the resurrection, but today is the day of the why. Without death one cannot have a resurrection. Today is the day my sins were hung on another. The penalty of my actions, the penalty of my rejections, the penalty of my own pride were placed upon the very Being i worship and identify myself with... the resurrection means nothing if there was never a death in the first place. Thank you Father God for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ into the world, to live the sinless life and offer Himself in my stead - to pay the price that was mine to pay. Thank You God that His sacrifice was the perfect substitution for what was deservedly mine. Lord God on Sunday i will also rejoice with my fellow Christians in the celebration of Jesus's resurrection and defeat of death - because that reveals that His death leads to my life through Him.


Random thoughts on tools

Earlier this week i rediscovered my old hand held battery Dremel tool. In the box that i found it there were still several of the grinding and rotary cutting edges. No drill bits or the most important piece - the battery charger. An on-line search and then finally contacting Dremel's customer service has led me to discover that the battery charger for the old model 750 is no longer available (figures). However, if i am willing to mail in my old 750, they would gladly upgrade me to the new 750-02 (pictured to the right) for a mere $23.00. Not much less than what i've found that i could pick another one up independently, but i am going to send it on in and await the new upgrade. Mostly because this little tool is quite handy when it comes to doing detail work on little miniatures... or as my beloved calls them - my little toy soldiers. I already have an idea on some customization for a mini and perhaps i will post pictures someday. The other little tool i would like to talk about today is my little Gerber. I picked up the little guy (pictured to the left) in 2001 when i was at Ft Sill - the year i signed my second to last contract extension with National Guard. At the time i was the gunner for my section and i kept finding myself having to borrow knives or other little tools from the other troops. When i was in the PX i saw it and picked it. Since then it has been on my hip almost every day since then. I know that sounds a little odd, but i feel that this little tools is better than a swiss army knife. So much so that if McGiver had a Gerber instead of his handy Swiss Army Knife, i bet he could have established world peace! I have found this thing so incredibly handy that other people come to me from time to time to borrow it. It will never replace the larger versions but it sure does serve in a pinch. The little carry pouch that came with it is starting to wear out and i am considering getting another one. It's not the nylon that is wearing out, but the velcro from being opened and closed all the time. In my artillery unit we found these things so handy that when someone was promoted from Specialist to Sergeant we took up a collection from the other NCO's to buy the buck Sergeant one. That's all i really have for today... not my normal fare but...


Balance in all things

When i enlisted in the Army National Guard back in 1986, i had joined the 29th Infantry Division (Light). A division with a proud history that traces back to circa WWI, and the regiments that make up the division can be traced back much farther. At least one Maryland regiment had found itself fighting for both sides during the American Civil War, and on at least one occasion actually facing one another on the battlefield. That is how the division came to have a blue and gray ying yang symbol (pictured above-right). In a way this is what my blog is about today. Now, there may be some of the handful of people who come by this blog who might wonder, "what is a 'samurai' doing talking about a Chinese symbol"? A far enough question, but it has more to do with the concepts behind it - and in a round about way, a tie in to yesterday's blog entry. While there is a well known eastern philosophy based on opposing forces in constant conflict, and yet making the whole, there is at lease some Biblical agreement to it.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, ESV)

Yesterday i broached the subject of how i liked the background of Elves. I seemed to focus on how these mythical creatures live in harmony with the environment, but that had not been my sole intent. What i wanted to illustrate is that the concept of the Elven race is that they truly try to live in harmony not just with the environment, but within the world in which they find themselves. They pursue whatever they are trying to learn about and understand, not just at face value but in how the particular subject interacts with the things around it. In an ideal world i feel that is how we Christians should be living as well. Before i go much farther i also want to say that in a fallen, sin filled, world - it is impossible to live at peace with everyone and everything. There are some people, and some things, that just don't want to live at peace unless it is on their terms. Christians are not innocent of my accusations here either (the Crusades and the Inquisition come to mind). As i read through the Bible there are several things that speak to me about searching out balance in my walk with Christ. I am completely forgiven (i.e. fully justified), and yet i am to work out my salvation (i.e sanctification). While the husband has been made the head of the wife, they are equals in the sight of the Lord and the husband is to serve his wife. There are many other examples of how "bad things" are turned on its head and result in God glorifying things. I am in no way trying to twist the Bible to make it conform to a form of eastern philosophy. Nor am i attempting to make my understanding of the Bible filter through such a philosophy. But what i am trying to say is that - i am a finite being. I do not have insight to things that i am not directly involved with, and when i am directly involved - even then my point of view is skewed because it is strictly from my own. Even Paul talks about trying to live in balance with those around us:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, ESV)
While Paul is illustrating from the point of view of personal relationships, and i am sure that is the way he intends it, i feel that it lends it self to other areas of our lives as well. Because people interact with things and situations, our focus of being 'all things' needs to be more than just the 'thing' in front of us. How does this impact the things and people around it. Will we ever be able to do that perfectly? No. It is impossible to be "all things, to all people" because we are truly finite, but that does not mean we shouldn't try. That is what peaks my interest in the folklore of the elves... at least as they are portrayed in the world of Tolkien (and subsequent 'universes' based where he first trod). Ultimately we find our balance in Christ. He is our ultimate source of the balance that we need to seek out. Why? Because we are finite and it is not possible for us to be all things to all people, but He is. That does not prevent us from trying to adjust as God leads. Can we be what we need to be? Yes, because as we put ourselves in position to be used of God it is He who makes the changes, it is He who speaks through us, it is He who is at work in/through us, it is He who is putting us in balance. So, i guess in a way, not only do i try and live my life as a samurai in the service to my Lord Jesus Christ, i also try and live out my life as an elf would in regards to how i try and interact with my surroundings.


Yet more random thoughts

There are times when it seems that i just cannot get my thoughts all worked out. It doesn't help that my mind has difficulty staying focused on any one thing for very long as well. This has been extremely frustrating for me. I struggle to focus when reading my Bible, when trying to pray. In one sense that helps me keep to Matthew 6:7-8 ("And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." ~ ESV) - LOL it forces me to make sure i get to the point quickly, because if i don't what i am praying for/about has changed at least twice before i've reached "Amen". I joke, but this bothers me. I really do want to be able to stay on task - especially when i am at the feet of my Savior lifting something up in prayer, or trying to read His Word. I have been on medication for the past two months and that does seem to help... but there are times when i get distracted. Odd, i know. Taking medication that is supposed to help me focus and yet... Right now i am listening to my "Blackmore's Night" station on Pandora. Man i love this music source. I discovered this music site through Facebook, and have been hooked pretty much ever since. I currently have several "stations" configured... 'Contemporary Christian', 'Trans Siberian Orchestra' and 'Classic Symphony'. It all depends on the mood i am in while i "tune in" - and it sometimes changes while i am listening... i know, weird right? When i was younger i played a game called Dagorhir (a dark ages/Tolkien world battle re-enactment group). I knew several friends who were into it, and it sort of had deep roots in the area where i was living at the time. While these guys were not Christians at the time (neither was i), they were good guys who really looked out for me and kept me from getting into any real trouble. My game persona was that of a wandering Wood Elf. I never had the money to really get into character, but i wrote out a brief background and did the best i could with what limited resources i did have. I 'fought' with sword and spear and had an uncanny knack for running full tilt across wet logs across creeks, and dodging the 'arrows' (not really as lythe as it might sound... the arrows for this game do not fly all that fast - lol). It was in many ways a formative time of my life. I was heavily involved playing Dungeons and Dragons, playing Dagorhir and things like this. And while i would NOT recommend a similar path for my own sons, let alone other's children, God truly did bring men into my life to help make me into the man i am today through these games. There was a teacher at a middle school who helped run an after school club who was a Christian - and although he never once used the name Christ or Jesus, he lived out his life. The older high school students i played D&D with also had good work ethics and lived some good examples. One of these men i am still friends with - albeit just through Facebook right now - is a talented musician who plays for his church. I wish we were closer. There was also a group that simply called themselves "The Christians". The dressed up like the romanticised crusaders and lived out their beliefs within the context of the game. Although - in hindsight - it may not have been the best portrayal. :) In my opinion the Crusades were by far, not our finest hour. A lot of the foundation in how i see myself as a Christian Samurai were formed then. I'd like to believe that i was as regal and fantastic looking as the wardancer pictured above-right while playing. That is one of the great things about playing make-believe in any of its forms. We can picture the play any way we wish. I still like to fancy myself as an elf... or at least elf-like. In general the lore of Elves and their kin are ones who take great delight in pursuing excellence in whatever they take to study. They look to balance their existence within whatever environment they find themeselves in. I am not trying to say this in some form of mystical, new age sense either. God established Adam and Eve as stewards of the Earth. In the beginning God had said, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so." (Genesis 1:28-30, ESV) Note: This does not say dominate. As stewards we are supposed to be living in the world, not of it, and not destroying it. I am not a zealot when it comes to recycling, etc. but i am of the mind that we should be better stewards than we have been.