"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

And Speaking of Abominations

We conservative Evangelicals feel irate umbrage toward Sodomites and their socio-political agenda, as well we should; God’s Word says plenty about those who practice deviant behavior. We love to point out where God used the word, “abomination,” to describe such practices, especially the likes of Leviticus 18:22.

Too bad we forget to notice the dozens of other passages that mention abominations. Seems that homosexuality is only one of the transgressions that make God sick. Proverbs 6:16-19 mentions seven of them, and Proverbs 16:5 deserves special consideration: Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

That begs the question, “How many conservative Evangelicals harbor pride in their hearts? And woe to anyone who would suggest they remove the mote from their own eyes before tugging at the beam in the homosexual’s eye. Yes, the “gay” agenda hopes to destroy our society’s moral shorings, and we’re right to oppose the changes they propose, but let’s not make it a matter for a personal, moral crusade. We need too much eye surgery to even consider operating on them.

And besides, who set the hierarchy on abominations, anyway?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

He Touched Me

Truthfully, this wasn’t the first time, but was a very good time. Reading today’s Bible-in-a-Year passages, the following one struck me as my true prayer:

Psalms 13:1-6 MKJV
(1) To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. How long will You forget me, O Jehovah? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
(2) How long shall I take counsel in my heart having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall my enemy be lifted up over me?
(3) Look! Answer me, O Jehovah my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
(4) lest my enemy say, I have overcome him, and my foes rejoice when I am shaken.
(5) But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
(6) I will sing to Jehovah, because He has rewarded me.

King David had “How Long?” and “Why Me?” moments, just as I have. Here he expresses his peeve, his plea, and his passionate profession. (I’m sure a sermon is in there somewhere.) Bible passages such as this convince me more than anything else that God’s Word is true. If the scribes who wrote out the Word had really entertained sinister intentions of controlling the unwashed masses with a clever religion, they certainly wouldn’t have painted the heroes of faith as thieves, murderers, idolaters, liars, adulterers, doubters or gripers, shaking their puny fists at the Almighty.

The Shepherd King’s life is so entertaining that “Hollywood” has invested their tight funds in more than one movie about him—but of course they couldn’t leave his story as God’s Word revealed it. Without realizing, they affirmed a Biblical truth:

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 ESV
(12)  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
(13)  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
(14)  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
(15)  The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
(16)  "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

God’s word is not to be understood casually; it is God’s infinite mind, condensed, but not abridged, finite words conveying infinite depth. How can the fact that it’s truths evade understanding surprise, amaze, or astound anyone? Yet, His Holy Spirit deftly uses it to perform spiritual surgery on even the densest intellect, if we will simply “sign the permission form.”

Though the universe’s eternal, omnipotent Creator has shown His judgmental,  harsh side on occasion, He has always behaved the gentleman toward His people. Can’t you see that side of Him? Take another look, and observe how He never intruded on their personal autonomy, taking over their will to make them toe the line. They were always able to disobey, and to “enjoy” the bitter fruit of it.

Yes, God touched me with the thirteenth Psalm. I hope He keeps touching me with His gentle conviction, rather than painfully, with the broad side of His Sword.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Permission to rest, from Our Daily Bread

Once in a while I read an Our Daily Bread meditation that speaks to a common issue, so I callously plagiarize it on my blog. If you don't already get the ODB daily feed, you might consider it. No, they don't hit the mark every time, but they have a better record of relevance than most. Click one of the links below and give it a try.

If you are having trouble reading the Our Daily Bread devotional click here for the online version.
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Our Daily Bread -- The Gift Of Sleep

January 12, 2013

READ: Psalm 121
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late  . . . ; for so He gives His beloved sleep. —Psalm 127:2
Sleep is essential for good health. Scientists don’t know exactly why we need it but they know what happens when we don’t get enough. We put ourselves at risk of premature aging, weight gain, and diseases ranging from colds and flu to cancer. What God accomplishes in our bodies while we drift off to dreamland is nothing short of miraculous. While we do nothing, God replenishes our energy, rebuilds and restores our cells, and reorganizes information in our brains.
The reasons for not getting enough sleep are many, and some we can’t solve, but the Bible indicates that overwork should not be one of them (Ps. 127:2). Sleep is a gift from God that we should receive with gratitude. If we’re not getting enough, we need to find out why. Are we rising early and staying up late to earn money to acquire things we don’t need? Are we involved in ministry efforts that we think no one else is capable of doing?
I’m sometimes tempted to believe that the work I do when I’m awake is more important than the work God does while I sleep. But refusing God’s gift of sleep is like telling Him that my work is more important than His.
God does not want anyone to be a slave to work. He wants us to enjoy His gift of sleep. —Julie Ackerman Link
The love of God is my pillow,
Soft and healing and wide,
I rest my soul in its comfort,
And in its calm I abide. —Long
If we do not come apart and rest awhile, we may just plain come apart. —Havner

Monday, January 07, 2013

Have You Seen This Person?

Yes, it’s a ruse, a joke, a hoax, a gag. Especially a gag, as that was my first impulse when I found the photo. All jocularity aside, though, everyone knows over-aged babies, stunted in their emotional and spiritual growth. Most of us suffer from having one somewhere in our families, and hope he or she enjoys life—as far away from us as possible.

Such adult-size babies share a common issue; when they gaze into a mirror, they’re likely to see a tall, gorgeous, dude or dudette looking admiringly back at them. Of course, this sort of narcissism also stains many of us spiritually, but like this infantile caballero, they haven’t a clue—or maybe I should say, “we” haven’t a clue. But if the shoe fits, it’s an infant size 1.

Problem is, even if we were among these folks, we wouldn’t have a clue, even with a checklist of symptoms. Such folks are certain they have the inside track with the Good Lord, so they have no need to learn anything. I won’t say they aren’t “saved,” but one thing is true of them: Nothing they do glorifies God; if they happen to do anything right, they are sure to grab all the credit.

The Bible calls these people “fools,” and I’m glad it does, as God’s Word never gave us the right to judge people, even if the aforesaid shoe is an infant size 1.

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Rregarding Henry

Recognize the actor in the photo? The one on the left. That’s right, he’s a youngish Harrison Ford, playing the movie’s title role. And the young lady is Mikki Allen playing his daughter Rachel. In this particular scene, Rachel is teaching her brain-damaged daddy how to read. How did he get brain-damaged? Watch the movie

Okay, I confess I’m a sap, and this is a sappy flick, so I loved it. One reason I love movies is some of them—just a few—allow me to take something of value away from them. Of course it helps when the writing, acting and directing are well done.

Henry said something profound right at the end, when he and his wife Sarah, played by Annette Bening, removed Rachel from the boarding school she hated. As my memory stinks, I’ll paraphrase it. “You’re coming home. I’ve already missed the first eleven years of your life.” If that’s not word-for-word, it should have been.

What touched me is the fact that I’m missing my grand children’s childhood, not because I’m too busy and rich to pay attention, or took a bullet to the head and lost my memory, but because I’m lousy at keeping in touch. I was tempted to blame my geographical remoteness from my daughters’ families, but I’m trying to be honest here. I love those kids as if they were my own, and being separated from them—not to mention my lovely daughters and the godly men they crying sad smilymarried—tears me up. It also tears me up when I think about it. The emoticon I selected to relate my emotion should have red eyes and nose, and tear-smudged glasses, but I never claimed to be an artist.

Even though my family isn’t with me, my Savior is, and when I start feeling sorry for myself I only have to think of him.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Online Bible Study Tools

I've known about Biblos Bible Study Suite for some time, but today I really began to discover how deeply it plumbs Bible words, especially with Thayer's Greek Lexicon. As an example I searched "name" using the Dictionaries tab. After clicking on the link, select the usage you want from the list of links, and on the page that comes up, scroll down to Thayer's. If that gives you too much information, scroll back to Helps Word Studies or Strong's.

Today I've just scratched the surface, so next time you find yourself on the Internet with some time to redeem, use it to check out that Bible word that's been challenging you, or every word in one of your favorite Bible passages.

Also, BibleGateway provides audio Scripture readings at the click of a mouse button. I find listening to my daily Bible passage while following it in print helps me to give the passage the concentration it deserves. Al Gore's Information Superhighway can actually be quite useful.  ;^)

As a bonus, I just discovered this video:

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Hey brainiacs, try sorting this out, let alone creating it.axons and dendrites For the uninitiated among you, Brainbow is the process by which individual neurons in the brain can be distinguished from neighboring neurons using fluorescent proteins. By randomly expressing different ratios of red, green, and blue derivatives of green fluorescent protein in individual neurons, it is possible to flag each neuron with a distinctive color. This process has been a major contribution to the field of connectomics, or the study of neural connections in the brain.

Right, and if you think I came up with that spiel, your brain is tied in a bow. While trying to imagine the human brain’s staggering complexity is daunting, that apparently random mass of neurons, axons and dendrites is far from infinite. Imagine the feat of engineering required to design such an organic thinking machine, capable of drawing relational data from a lifetime of memories, visual and conceptual, nearly all of which only surfaces when needed for thought.

“But,” as the TV pitchman said, “that’s not all.” That same miraculous, thinking machine balances cognitive conclusions based on new, and remembered, perceptions, with emotional responses linked to said lifetime of memories, then intercepts those past emotional responses and moderates them for application to the new situation, and hopefully, if the brain is functioning as designed, takes all that into consideration and generates a neuromuscular order for arm to bring the finger to the edge of the nose to scratch that bothersome itch.

And the brain that produced that complex task came about through random mutation guided by the Law of the Jungle. Evolution? Yeah, right!

When Will I Learn?

Honest, I had the best of hopes for A Gifted Man, a short-lived, CBS medical/supernatural drama. Patrick Wilson did a great job as Dr. Michael Holt, while everyone else was competent. Scripts were well-written, and the overall scenario was kinda fun. Backstory has Anna, Michael’s ex, dragging him to Alaska to cure the Indians’ ills, but the two doctors part ways over money-management issues—and yes, that’s not exactly novel. So Michael returns to the lower forty-eight to create a prosperous neurosurgery practice.Rachelle Lefevre as Dr. Kate Sykora, and Patrick Wilson.

Time passes, and Michael happens to meet Anna, played by Jennifer Ehle, on the street, and they go to lunch for old-times’ sake. Later that day, a most curious discovery shakes Michael’s world: Anna was killed in a car accident … before they met and had lunch. Thus begins the strangeness of friendship with a ghost.

So I was sitting there doing my imitation of a couch potato—imitation, because I don’t have a couch—enjoying the show, when Anton Little Creek, a good-looking, smart, well-adjusted shaman played by Pablo Schreiber, demonstrates complete success in treating and eradicating a case of spirit possession. I asked myself, “When was the last time I saw that level of credibility given to a Christian minister’s character on prime-time TV?”

My answer? Decades. Many decades. In fact, I can’t remember such a thing happening. Imams? Yes. Buddhist priests? Yes. Aboriginal medicine men? Yes. Witches? Yes. Vampires? Yes. Serial killers? Yes. But never a Christian pastor. In fact, more often than not, the pastor character is the really weird guy who mucks things up for the normal folks.

If I were a conspiracy nut I’d say the media moguls are in this thing together, to make Christians look bad. But I’m not. Instead, I say the entertainment media’s remarkable Christian-bashing consistency can be chalked up to their almost universal hatred of Christ and his followers. You don’t have to conspire when most entertainment big-wigs share the same prejudice.

That said, I have to admit how well Christendom plays into the role of haters. In fact, loving, Spirit-filled Christ-followers are a minority among those who call themselves “Christians.” The Bible calls them, “the remnant,” because godly love and faithfulness is so unusual in churches.

But Pollyanna that I am, I keep hoping that Hollywood will one day get it right. I guess I’ll never learn.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

January 2: National Cream Puff Day

I really didn’t need to hear about this commemorative day. The best thing about cream puffs is everything. But the worst thing about cream puffs is … well, everything.

Yes, there is the crust’s buttery flavor and crispness, its flakiness, and its slight sweetness. And then there’s the cream filling’s rich flavor, its smoothness as it slides over your tongue and down your throat, leaving only its memory, and the compulsion to consume more.

The “more” part is what gets to this blogger. “Everything in moderation” works, unless one’s craving overcomes his self-control. That’s where the whatever-holic’s dogma comes into play: “Not even one!” The old Lay’s potato chip commercial comes to mind, “Betcha can’t eat just one.”

In Jesus’ time they enjoyed their locusts and wild honey, an epicurean's delight. How would Jesus have responded to cream puffs? Good grief, he was human. How would you respond to them? But Jesus enjoyed the power to back up his wisdom. I have no doubt he would have tasted it and declared, “Get thee behind me Satan.”

cdkitchen posted an article about this commemoration, including recipes and irresistible photos.

January 2: National Buffet Day

When I think about buffets, feasting and all other excuses for belt-stretching, I think of the Wedding Feast those who obey Jesus will enjoy. Indeed, we will be the guest of honor, as the bride of Christ. No need to worry about dieting there; we can have as much as we want, without guilt.

Jesus told us all we need to know about wedding table dress and etiquette:

Luke 14:7-24 ESV
(7)  Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,
(8)  "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,
(9)  and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this person,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.
(10)  But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.
(11)  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
(12)  He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.
(13)  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
(14)  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
(15)  When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
(16)  But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.
(17)  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
(18)  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.'
(19)  And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.'
(20)  And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'
(21)  So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.'
(22)  And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.'
(23)  And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
(24)  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"

Learn about Today’s Food History on John-Bryan Hopkins’ blog, Foodimentary.

Here’s some expert advice about stuffing yourself responsibly at your favorite buffet, complements of The Gazette:

Do your research: Before you even think about grabbing a plate, take a walk around the table. Check out all the offerings so you can plan accordingly.

Pick up a smaller plate: Instead of looking for the biggest plate at the event, choose a salad or a dessert plate. Studies have shown that smaller plates lead to weight loss.

Think appetizers: You can have a little bit of everything if you stick to the little bit part. One bite of several desserts won’t derail your diet, as long as it’s only one bite.

This is not a competition: There’s no need to pile your plate sky high from the get-go. Start off with something lighter at the beginning, like soup or salad, and move to the appropriate course from there. But don’t be confused! Healthy portion control is always important.

Break for it: A lengthy break in the middle of your meal will give your body a little room to digest. When half the food on your plate is gone, put down your fork, breathe deep, and take stock of how you’re feeling. During this allotted break time, take note of what how much you’ve eaten, your hunger level, and your emotional state.

Remember to hydrate: Forgo soda for water instead. You’ll feel less full and sleepy at your desk, which we all need after holiday vacations.

Check out out a foodie who spent 2011 honoring each food holiday with photos, recipes and fun food facts: http://nationalfoodholidaytour.wordpress.com