All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Economics of Time

Today is the day when economists look at how the markets finish for the year, and look ahead to the next.

There are people who deal with money who like to say, “Time is money.” What if that were reversed? What if economists measured value only in terms of time, time that people spend and have? How would that change their perspective on value?

It's most likely only a thought experiment, but it would point to things of value beyond the value of money.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Oh What Will the Answer Be?

A Cry, as of Pain

"Come over to Macedonia and help us." Acts 16:9

Verse 1
A cry, as of pain, again and again,
Is borne o'er the deserts and wide spreading main;
A cry from the lands that in darkness are lying,
A cry from the hearts that in sorrow are sighing;
It comes unto me; it comes unto thee;
Oh what—oh what shall the answer be?

Verse 2
Oh! hark to the call; it comes unto all
Whom Jesus hath rescued from sin's deadly thrall;
"Come over and help us! in bondage we languish";
It comes unto me; it comes unto thee;
Oh what—oh what shall the answer be?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Where the fire has already burned

A wagon train was one day making its way across the western plains of our United States. The trip had been pleasant, and the travelers were filled with hopes of a new day in Oregon and California homesteads.

One fateful afternoon they looked with mounting terror at the onrushing scourge of the western traveler, a prairie fire. They watched, numb with fear, as the distant flames roared down upon them, fanned by the west wind, leaping dozens of feet into the air.

The cry went up, “We are lost, what shall we do?”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Nonfiction in Fiction

I've not been much of a fiction reader. I read some as a kid, and have enjoyed fiction in 2-hour formats, but when weighing the amount of effort required in the form of hours reading a book, nonfiction easily wins over hours reading something that feels like a fabrication.

I've been reading Chapters from Mark Twain's autobiography, and there have been more than a few references to the people in real life whom he was representing as characters in his fiction books. Based on the colorful characters in his life, Twain felt comfortable writing the sometimes outlandish tales of people he actually knew, just with a different name.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Joseph, Dreams, and Egypt

The first book of both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible include accounts of a man named Joseph who had dreams related to Egypt.

In Genesis, Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, occupies almost the last third of the book (37-50). After dreams of greatness, he goes from being the most favored, and thus most despised, to being ruler of all the land of Egypt, a fulfillment of those dreams. Neither the dreams nor his greatness were of his own making. His life was a type of Him who was to come.

In Matthew, Joseph, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David, was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Accounts of him are much shorter (1:16-2:23), but Matthew tells us of no less than four dreams he had, one of which involved fleeing to Egypt until a threat on Jesus life had passed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas, Later a Controversy

For as much as people can criticize the commercialization of Christmas and the busyness of the season, in some ways, the original Christmas was itself rather hectic and bore a strong resemblance to what we think of as tax season. Politics would most certainly have been a widespread and hot topic of conversation: Caesar had given a word, and everyone had to move accordingly.

For Joseph and a very pregnant Mary, this meant going “up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (Luke 2:4). The hospitality industry in Bethlehem was not prepared for the influx of visitors, so people stayed where they had to stay, even among the animals, if necessary—and it was necessary. While they were there, Mary's pregnancy reached its fullness and she delivered Baby Jesus right there (2:6-7).

In reading Luke's account, it sounds like they did what the law of the Lord required (because they weren't just rendering to Caesar), and then went back home “to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth” (2:39). That's true. That also leaves out several intervening events, but even just this one is enough to stir controversy for Jesus later.

Monday, December 24, 2018

An Energizing Purpose

“Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

The Hebrew for order is kun which means to stand upright firmly established. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Romans: “Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (14:4).

The Hebrew for establish is saad which means to support, uphold, sustain, refresh, energize, nourish.

Jesus is going to set us up for a specific thrilling purpose, and then energize and motivate us to fulfill it. Relative to eternity, we still sit on the eve of these great and exciting things to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Ultimate Birth Announcement

One of the most obvious, visible, supernatural parts of Jesus' entire life was his birth announcement.

Not far from where Jesus was born, there were shepherds guarding their flocks (Luke 2:8). Some have noted these may have been sacrificial sheep for use in the temple. They were with them day and night, and this was just another night until suddenly the darkness was replaced by light, a glorious light from God's messenger (2:9). (Very often this is depicted as an angel high in the sky, but the messenger actually “stood in front of them.”) The messenger makes the announcement (2:10-12), and then one angel was joined by thousands of others, and they sing! (2:13-14).

At no other time in Jesus life on earth do we have record of thousands of angels appearing to him or anyone else about him. Of all the significant events in and recorded of Jesus life, the one time thousands of heavenly messengers fill the earth with the glory of God is at his birth.

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Scripture-Loving Home

I read the Magnificat this morning, and some commentaries on it. I like Charles Ryrie's comment the best: “There are 15 discernible quotations from the OT in this poem, showing how much the OT was known and loved in the home in which Jesus was reared.”

You could also say the same about the home in which Mary was raised, too.

The New Testament is built on the Old Testament. You can tell by how often it's quoted.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Insufficiency of Human Strength

When something really needs to get done, it will take the backing of God behind it to happen.

This is true for nations, for individuals, and how individuals affect nations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lies of Debt

I'm not sure which time of the year may be the most likely for people to go into debt, but the holidays, with all of the social pressure and all the retail messaging, seem like a prime time for people to be susceptible to the temptation of spending more than they have.

Debt tells us that our work is worth more now than it actually is, or at least more than we're getting paid. It allows us to pretend we got paid more than we did and live accordingly.

Debt tells us that our time later is worth less than our time is worth now. We reap what we sow, and eventually the bill becomes due. That means while we got to enjoy a little extra now, we end up enjoying a lot less later because then we're not only paying for then, but also the past that wasn't paid for in the past.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Monday, December 17, 2018

News for All People

Our culture has a voracious never-ending appetite for news.  If local reporting is slow, we have several news wires to keep “the news” supplied with news. We even have news about the news. Despite dissatisfaction with the news that has become increasingly public in the last few years, the flow of headlines shows no signs of abating.

The pace of news production and consumption has accelerated ever since the invention of the telegraph. In the last couple decades, the internet has caused a reshuffling of news business models that news organizations are still trying to work out today. Large macro news organizations are struggling to redefine their identity with these new hyperlinked circumstances.

Smaller trade publications, on the other hand, are thriving. As people work in increasingly specialized ways, their need for news also becomes increasingly specific. Even the large news organizations that aim for mass appeal still split up their news content among various interests. After a section for general news, USA TODAY splits off its content into areas for sports, life, money, tech, and travel. The reason for this is pretty simple: not everyone cares about all of the news. Not all of it applies to everyone.

This is why it stood out to me this year when I read again about news “for all people.” It turns out this is a strange and bold statement.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mouse vs. Pen

It seems that even the sturdiest off-brand laptops have their limits in terms of durability. When a keyboard's circuit board cracks after three years and a frequently used number key becomes significantly less reliable, it's time to shop around.

I had not been aware of Microsoft releasing its Surface Go line of products this year. Apparently it's an attempt to win an increasing slice of the student market. I saw a deal for one on Craigslist and picked one up this weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Future of Value, Travel Edition

Travel options are becoming increasingly granular, both in time and space.

Just as one person once owned a vast amount of land and now a smaller area is home to more than a million people, so, too, travel options can become increasingly small.

For instance, Hilton has launched a micro-hotel chain called Motto. “The average Motto guest room will be 163 square feet, which is about half the size of a room in Hampton by Hilton.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Future of Value

There are two trends in employment of which we would do well to maintain awareness in the decades to come.

The first is increased specialization. People don't just go into the law anymore, they become a specific type of lawyer. People don't just work in technology, IT, or even Web development anymore. They focus on and specialize in very specific parts of those things which have grown into fully developed and established positions. Expertise has become more granular.

This extends down the chain, too. Some things that paralegals once did may now be broken up into eight different specialties. Sometimes these specialties may be part of a process, so, like circuits, they may not just be parallel areas of expertise, but may operate in series at times.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Drifting Into Monarchy

Human nature being what it is, I suppose we must expect to drift into monarchy by and by. It is a saddening thought, but we cannot change our nature: we are all alike, we human beings; and in our blood and bone, and ineradicable, we carry the seeds out of which monarchies and aristocracies are grown: worship of gauds, titles, distinctions, power.

We have to worship these things and their possessors, we are all born so, and we cannot help it. We have to be despised by somebody whom we regard as above us, or we are not happy; we have to have somebody to worship and envy, or we cannot be content.
Twain, Mark. Chapters from My Autobiography (Kindle Locations 1408-1412). Kindle Edition.

This is why vigilance against tyranny is always necessary.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nothing More

I came across a description of a beloved form of work:

“The definition of superb animation is that each character on the screen makes you believe it is a thinking being. Whether it’s a T-Rex or a slinky dog or a desk lamp, if viewers sense not just movement but intention—or, put another way, emotion—then the animator has done his or her job. It’s not just lines on paper anymore; it’s a living, feeling entity. This is what I experienced that night, for the first time, as I watched Donald leap off the page. The transformation from a static line drawing to a fully dimensional, animated image was sleight of hand, nothing more, but the mystery of how it was done—not just the technical process but the way the art was imbued with such emotion—was the most interesting problem I’d ever considered” (Creativity, Inc., Kindle Locations 270-275).

There was a familiarity to me in this description:

“They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat” (Psalm 115:5-7). “They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:16-17).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

John Chau's Lingering Question

Missionary and martyr John Chau wrote in his journal that he didn't want to die, and then asked, “Who will take my place if I do?”

It's a powerful question because the North Sentinelese people still need to know about Jesus.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gene Editing

I once read there was a time a couple thousand years ago when the great ethical question in medicine was whether or not piercing the skin was morally acceptable or not. Since then we've discovered and become quite familiar with various internal organs. Surgeons who operate on them are internists.

The great ethical question in medicine during our time seems to center on our arrival at the cusp of being able to modify and control the human genome. Will the human genome become as familiar to medicine as internal organs are today? Will we even have a name for specialists who can reprogram human development?

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Sports is not the only place competition is useful. It's useful in business, too.

Competition keeps prices down. It also gets work done faster, too. Competition creates a sense of urgency when work getting done is needed right away.

Watch how fast a vendor will work and come up with solutions when there's a very present possibility they might lose the business if they don't.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Surprise Raise

Have you ever had one of those days where you got a pay raise on one of your jobs and hadn't realized it right away? At first it seemed like a previous paycheck came tax-free, and then later I realized the rate had officially risen.

When that raise also pushed that job ahead of another, that may also shuffle the deck as to how I prioritize my work, too.

It's good to know rent and food aren't the only things on the rise.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Further Than Listening

Tonight I went to a community meeting hosted at a church for civic leaders to discuss their plans for development, transit, roads, and other matters. Public meetings can still start and end in prayer in Jesus' name in Northern Virginia.

Affordable housing is a popular topic in this area. While I have questions about the role people want the government to have in that matter, I still find it valuable to listen to people. One can go further than listening in helping people ask their questions better and explore data that speaks to their argument. In doing that I found I did not just learn about their perspective, but the process helped shed greater light on the wider questions and matters at hand.

Building relationships is valuable inherently and perhaps down the road when there may be opportunity to explore additional sides to questions and issues explored only in part today.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Memories of President George H. W. Bush

My maternal grandfather shared a birthday with George H. W. Bush. He was six years old on the day the 41st President of the United States was born.

I was too young to remember President Reagan's first presidential election but I remember his re-election. It was years before this elementary school student understood that the Bush in “Reagan-Bush Administration” mentioned in the news referred to the vice president.

I don't remember understanding President Reagan encouraging George Bush to “win one for the Gipper,” but I remember when he did.

I didn't understand the significance of Iraq invading Kuwait other than it seemed like a case of international bullying. Among us middle school students the most significant part of the news was the President of the United States threatening to “kick Saddam Hussein's a--.” Such words among world leaders seemed to be a first in living memory for anyone we knew.

I remember President Bush's decisive and effective action to liberate Kuwait, and afterwards him riding sky-high popularity in the 90 percent neighborhood.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jet Lag

Even in the same time zone, it's possible to suffer from jet lag. Visiting family and playing games is fun. Starting the fun when your day is normally ending, not so much—especially later.

I came back to two very full days, and that took me to my limit. I cleared the deck for this weekend to get back on track.

In other news, I've scheduled daily blog posts on my Bible observation blog into next year. A lot of that is Twitter-sized, but Twitter doesn't make it easy to highlight key phrases like a blog post title does. Blogger could still stand to make scheduling posts more efficient.

Friday, November 30, 2018

One Second Every Day

Today I met someone whose last day of work was today. Final days of a month are useful for that kind of thing. She plans to travel the country right away: Florida, Tennessee, California.

She also plans to document her journey in the mold of 1 Second Everyday. If one were to do that for an entire lifetime (~30,000 days), it would run for about 8 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

News of Interest

Rush-hour delivery: Woman gives birth in DC traffic — next to the Ellipse & White House

NASA is ready to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 40 years. It won’t be doing it alone, however. The agency is enlisting nine companies, large and small, to compete for a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

As a result, the average life span in America dropped to "78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016," said the report.

Note: The report attacks “a supposed Garden of Eden in East Africa.” To make a true comparison to the record in the Bible one would compare it to migrations after the Flood, which probably destroyed the Garden of Eden.

Speaking to CCTV state television, China’s vice minister of science and technology, Xu Nanping, said the government is strongly opposed to the project. Xu said the experiment “crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable,” as reported by AP.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Flying Back

Today is a return travel day.

On the one hand, it's a bit odd how driving 850 miles and flying 850 miles can both become the dominant part of one's day. Driving is significantly more draining, and leaves less margin for comfortably starting and ending one's day. In returning to the Washington, D.C., area, I'm thankful to avoid driving for 12 hours, and then hitting another 1.5 hours of stop-and-go traffic.

While I looked at the savings on air fares by delaying my return by a few days, in the rush to book the flight four weeks out while rates were still good, I forgot to run that calculation by the opportunity cost of what I could be making these days by returning earlier. I've set reminders for next year to check earlier, and to take more of these things into consideration.

This was a good trip. It actually turned out to be two Thanksgiving celebrations, one on Thursday and one on Saturday, full dinner and all. It was good to see family, see nieces and nephews who have gotten bigger, meet new members of the family, learn more about my parents that I didn't know before, and enjoy some games along the way. Thanksgiving is a blessed time of year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Day for Planning and Family

Sometimes it's important to make the most of time you have with family while you can.

I remember in 2006 I visited my grandparents in Wisconsin, and four days later, my grandmother had a stroke. Communication was very limited with her after that until her passing in 2013.

I expect this is my longest trip to Florida this year. I looked at my writing ideas, and today seems to be a good day to either schedule some ideas for future dates, consolidate ideas from Trello to a Google Doc, and in general trim down my Trello boards.

Earlier it was just time to help my dad a little with some of the extra work for disposal needed. You know you're in Florida when in late November after a cold front came through, a jacket and shorts are sufficient outerware for a brief stint of outdoor activity.

Monday, November 26, 2018

It's time for Congress to stop choosing death

As Congress returns briefly to end the year, an important question remains.

How is that with two years of Republican control of both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, the United States federal government is still giving millions of dollars every year directly to abortion providers?

I think there are two answers to this question.

First, the filibuster rules in the Senate mean without 60 pro-life votes for a super-majority in the Senate, those in favor of abortion can block legislation that would de-fund abortion providers.

Second, any serious attempt to pass legislation that removes abortion provider funding would face serious opposition. That would get as much attention as the Kavanaugh confirmation smear campaign.

Are pro-life members of Congress ready and willing to take on that fight? Some are. Others would prefer their pro-life positions get less attention. Some may wish to appear pro-life, but actually are not. Wherever one may think the votes are now, it's time for choosing.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Evacuation Day

Some holidays endure in American history; others are no longer celebrated with regularity.

For more than its first 100 years, America celebrated the final departure of the British. Evacuation Day was November 25, 1783. It was celebrated annually until World War I.

Friday, November 23, 2018

2 Things the Bible Says About Climate Change

Whenever the topic of climate change comes up, there are often two things from the Bible that come to my mind.

First, what we're seeing now or on the horizon is not a threat.

After the Flood, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease’” (Genesis 8:20-22). For those who predict disruption to ecological systems due to climate change, this rules out some of the more severe versions of that. We've still have droughts and floods, but nothing permanent on a global scale.

From around that early time in history we can read, “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’” (Job 38:8-11). In other words, sea level rise is not a threat, at least not of any catastrophic uninhabitable proportions.

Second, major global warming is coming.

At the other end of time on this earth, the book of Revelation talks about when there will indeed be climate change, but it's not from man or CO2.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


I'm thankful I don't have to measure my worth or my state in life only in terms of finances. Yes, one needs money to live, and I'm thankful my ends meet right now. If one were just to look at my income or my job titles, they wouldn't be all that impressive. I'm not trying to impress anyone either. Loving one another requires an outward focus anyway. I'm thankful for the many people I've gotten to know over the last few years.

I'm thankful we've been able to accomplish several major physical needs at the church building this year. Some of these were not planned like large sections of the roof which were damaged by wind in march and an office that got damaged by a leak exposed during excessive rain in May. The new boiler is in and operating, and the sanctuary is repainted.

One can also be thankful for the things one does not have. I'm thankful I don't have internet access directly in my home as that encourages me to read more books.

I'm thankful for time I'm able to spend with family, and meet new family members I have not yet met. I'm thankful I don't have to watch the news or be online in order to enjoy time with them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Traveling Light

When I booked my travel a few weeks ago, I didn't fully realize the airline based the price on having only one “personal item” and no carry-on. I didn't realize Orbitz included those kinds of carriers and mixed the apples with the oranges.

That's ok, though, because I had somewhat planned for travel like this at some point anyway, just not from a major airport. I already have about four days' worth of clothes at my destination, so I just need to pack for a couple days more and a few essentials and I should be all set. Without carrying anything for lunch and with only a backpack I may actually be traveling lighter to Florida than I do to work in a usual day, albeit with a different subset of things in tow.

In some ways, the challenge makes it fun. How much can I live without for a few days? And by “live without,” on some counts I may mean without packing things I usually pack and don't use on a trip anyway. For instance, if I want to take books along I'm not going to read, it's better to have them just taking up hard-drive space on a Kindle than having the physical books themselves.

Traveling light also shortens the amount of time needed to pack, too. It doesn't, though, necessarily shorten the amount of planning needed for packing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Characteristics of Progress

In The Third Wave, published in 1980, Alvin Toffler described world history in terms of three types of cultural arrangements, each successively displacing and replacing the previous.

After creation, and later expulsion from the Garden, men simply hunted and gathered what they needed. Some suspect Job may have lived during this time as housing structures were susceptible to major damage.

The first wave Toffler identifies is of a shift to an agricultural-based society. “Settling down” would have been much less defined prior to this time.

The second wave was the industrial age, as brought on by the industrial revolution. Mass production made things more accessible to everyone.

The third wave was his prediction of what technology, specifically that which can be controlled by software and language, would bring next: the information age. Why mass produce everything the same for everyone when you can customize goods and services for individuals?

I am interested not just in identifying the waves and their characteristics, but what the changes in those “waves” may have in common. From when I first read this book a couple decades ago, I remember two.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Whether it's to meet demand or fill a void, relationship assistance has proliferated. Many services tout their ability to profile people and carve them up into various factors and attributes which can then supposedly be matched with others for “compatibility.” The higher the percentage ranking of compatibility, the higher the likelihood of your relationship lasting “till death do us part.”

I remember a college chapel message in which Dr. Brown told us that he and his wife had been told they had one percent relationship compatibility. He then explained, it's not about how compatible you are, but how you handle the incompatible part. He is still married to the same woman as far as I know.

Even marriages with 99 percent compatibility have to face the other one percent at some point. That's when one's commitment is tested. Every relationship at some point will require endurance for a time. Even in those times the words of Paul, in concluding his words for husbands and wives in his letter to the Ephesians, are still true and wise advice: “let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Many Christs

A book excerpt on Matthew 24:3-5…
Coming In His Name

I believe the Bible contains an important passage, which clearly indicates a change of times and seasons may indeed be at hand. In Matthew 24:3-5, which is a chapter dealing with the tribulation period, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples concerning the signs of His coming and the end of the age:
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.
I have heard two interpretations of Jesus’ reply. The first interpretation asserts various individuals will claim to be the returning, incumbent Jesus Christ. The other view says a number of messiah figures will appear and gather followers to themselves in a similar fashion to cult leader Jim Jones or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the guru leader who set up his idea of utopia in Oregon. I now believe neither of these interpretations encompass the bigger picture. It is in light of numerous New Age statements that Matthew 24 takes on new significance.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Essence of Economics

In his forward to Wealth and Poverty, Steve Forbes wrote, "Economists ill-serve themselves by describing economics as being about the allocation of scarce resources. It is about the creation of resources."

He then gave an example: "Oil, for instance, is described as a natural resource. It isn't. In and of itself it is simply sticky glop. It was human ingenuity that turned this goo into something the world can't live without."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Salt in a Wound

It seems in time of abundance, understanding of the healing power of salt has been lost.

These days, most references to “salt in a wound” are meant something is taken as an insult. It's the sting at contact and nothing more.

After reading Salt: A World History several years ago, there's a reference to soldiers dying during the Civil War because they did not have salt for their wounds. They had nothing to arrest and stop the spread of infection.

It was a fascinating read about when salt was a rarity instead of a commodity for most of world history.

Jesus told his followers, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). I've often heard this preached describing salt as a seasoning—make things taste better—or as a preservative—make sure things don't rot. I've not heard it really taught as a healing agent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Having worked on managing a couple buildings now, I've learned how established a threat asbestos is to the cost of renovation projects, and its largely due to its health risks. It's still a high-revenue search term for Google.

In Mark Twain's essay on “The Turning-Point of My Life” he made reference to “Martin Luther and Joan of Arc” as having “temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos.” Having been written more than a few decades before many of the buildings I knew with asbestos, that led me to look up the word. In the definition I discovered why asbestos was used so commonly before its health risks were known: Asbestos is a fire retardant.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Economic Foundation of an Empire

In Life After Google, George Gilder makes the argument that Isaac Newton laid the economic foundation of the British Empire by establishing that gold was an irreversible element. Newton's was an accomplishment in information theory, specifically “the information theory of money.”

Having previously been one to dabble in alchemy, trying to make gold from lead and mercury, “The failure of his alchemy gave him—and the world—precious knowledge that no rival state or private bank, wielding whatever philosopher's stone, would succeed in making a better money.”

The result was, “The little island of Britain governed an empire larger and incomparably richer than Rome's.” Newton was appointed to the Royal Mint in 1696, and the value of the British pound was pegged to the value of gold. The gold standard came into effect.

Monday, November 12, 2018


I tend to be an iterative decision-maker. On matters of high consequence and high visibility, I like to take my time and make sure I get the decision right, including on all matters of detail.

During the Apollo 11 mission, I read that Neil Armstrong took his time on deciding where to land on the moon, and that process went on much longer than anyone expected. It helped that lunar gravity wasn't pulling them down as fast as it would have on earth. Not having bodies of water or liquid also may have helped in the process.

While iterative processes hopefully lead to a better final product, they are also not for the faint of heart. It can be an exhausting process, especially when it includes navigating lots of opinions, variables, sources of input, and options. Hopefully in the end it will lead to a satisfactory outcome.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

I had occasion to thank several veterans for their service today, this Veterans Day. I had two grandfathers who were veterans of World War II.

Several of our Awana Club directors are veterans, and we had a chance to thank them for their service, both to our country and to the Lord.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Handwriting Analysis

The first time I encountered someone who knew about handwriting analysis, I was very dismissive. One of my professional coworkers had some kind of experience or training with the subject and after only a few examples of the specifics one can infer from a person's handwriting, I found its claims to be overly detailed in the extreme, and she made no further attempts to be informative on the subject. I still owe her an apology, though I don't remember her name.

The second time I encountered expertise on the subject was from someone who I knew to be highly credentialed, intelligent, and thoroughly knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects including many beyond his specific area of advanced education. I was very receptive to what he had to say. Learning about the range of knowledge one can glean from a person's handwriting far exceeded my expectations.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Language Learning

Spanish was my first language. My parents were missionaries in Venezuela, and as part of their practice and learning, they spoke only Spanish in our home. Some of my first words as a one-year-old were about things like turning the light on, turning the light off, etc.

Just before I turned two, my father died of an aortic aneurysm. This cut short our time on the field, so we came back to the States. Later my mother told me how at two years old I could tell we weren't talking like the people around us anymore, and I told her “Talk like they talk”; (“Habla como ellos”). I don't recall speaking any Spanish in our home until I formally studied Spanish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reverse Conversation Origins

85% of all believers ages 18-29 agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers

25% look for ways to share the gospel

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4, citing Christianity Today

At first it's tempting to point out that in nearly any conversation, there is some kind of topic that comes up which can be used to turn the conversation toward God and the Gospel.

And then I remind myself this is the same generation that struggles with conversations in general.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Sometimes these posts are scheduled ahead of time. Others are written the same day. Today was a day I had left open thinking I would have a bit more free time than normal to work on writing.

Today was also a day on which I had piled everything else for the last several days, too. And then some things that normally happen in a week also landed on this afternoon.

I'm excited about several writing ideas to come, and given that we're back to standard time and closer to solar time, I'm ready for today to be done.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Match the Nature of Problems to their Solution

“Don't spiritualize management problems, and don't manage spiritual problems. Management problems have to be hit on the head with organization and excellence. Spiritual problems must be dealt with by prayer, God's word and faith.”

Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4

This sounds like really wise advice and perspective.

Not every problem is a “heart problem.”

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Generosity Evangelism

Pastor Roesel is speaking at my church this week. He is a big advocate of ministry evangelism, that is, meeting people's needs to help them see and come to know Jesus.

This man embodies a generosity mindset. When he retired, his church was giving away 65 percent of its budget and meeting the rest of its operating expenses with the remaining 35 percent.

He wrote a book called It's a God Thing: The Powerful Results of Ministry Evangelism. The Kindle version is free. I read it a week or two ago leading up to his coming.

Friday, November 2, 2018

News of Interest

'Colossal collapse' in gas prices expected heading into midterm elections

Millennial Men Leave Perplexing Hole in Hot U.S. Job Market
Ten years after the Great Recession, 25- to 34-year-old men are lagging in the workforce more than any other age and gender demographic. About 500,000 more would be punching the clock today had their employment rate returned to pre-downturn levels. Many, like Butcher, say they’re in training. Others report disability. All are missing out on a hot labor market and crucial years on the job, ones traditionally filled with the promotions and raises that build the foundation for a career.

5 countries—Russia, Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Brazil—contain 70% of the world's wilderness (excluding Antarctica).

Global Warming Damage
For many of the entities driving the global warming debate, the goal has never been about climate. Their long-term goal is to unite the world under a single socialistic government in which there is no capitalism, no democracy, and, ultimately, no freedom. United Nations’ treaties such as the Paris Agreement on climate change are the flagships of the global governance agenda. By controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they are in fact controlling the world’s energy since over 80% of our energy comes from CO2-emitting fossil fuels. And controlling the world’s energy effectively controls the world.

World's longest DNA sequence decoded
The advance is a technological one - this is about reading the DNA rather than the discovery of a particularly large genome. The DNA used for the long read came from a human. But the scientists hope the work will make it quicker and easier to sequence genetic information because, currently, DNA has to be chopped up into smaller pieces and then reassembled during the process of sequencing.

Roscosmos: An assembly error doomed our Soyuz, but we promise it won't happen again

Thursday, November 1, 2018


In his chapter on Interrogations, Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn described dozens of simple methods the communists would use in the Gulag to break a person. Some were psychological, some physical. Some would leave no mark on a person's body. And then there is number 23, the bedbug-infested box.
In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner's jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.
Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr. The Gulag Archipelago. Harper and Row, 1973. Page 113.

This reminds me of Jesus' description of hell: “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48). He used that phrase three times in a row which is a method of extreme reinforcement in the Scriptures.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Music Mission

To get myself into a music learning mode last night I pulled out some music I had on my shelf. One was a hymnbook, Tabernacle Hymns Number Three. This was an encouraging time.

I recognized several of the names of lyric writers and music composers. I was impressed with the number of high-caliber names among the lyric writers like Lance B. Latham and William R. Newell. I don't come across many Bible teachers writing songs today. Perhaps this was a feature of the times. Before everyone had a screen, homes often had pianos.

One particular song caught my attention. “What Will You Do With Jesus?”
Jesus is standing in Pilate's hall
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all:
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call!
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Sometimes The Washington Post likes regulation (and doesn't like them being rolled back).

Other times The Washington Post doesn't like regulation (viewing it as industry protecting its interests).

Maybe it just depends on the agenda at the time or the issue.

What I found most striking about the latter is the concluding statement:
“Any new technology requires regulation and legislation.”
Really? Why is that?

Legislation is for the purpose of creating law, and laws are for the purpose of punishing evil. Does technology inherently contain or encourage evil that must be punished?

Regulation is for the purpose of transferring power from the legislative branch to the executive branch. How does technology require that? If that's because technology development moves faster than the legislative process, then this transfer of power also escalates the risk of accelerating power accumulation beyond the people's ability to control it.

Either way, I'm not seeing inherent justification for regulation or legislation just because a new technology is brought to market.

Monday, October 29, 2018


Some days seem sufficiently full of indicators that it's best to not push things too far, and instead know when I've hit my limits and call it a day.

Today is one of those days, especially after it was more draining than it was expected to be.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Free Time

For some of us, certain questions are more difficult than they are for others. For me one of those is, “What do you do with your free time?” I've been asked this before, and I find it foreign to my normal thinking. Free time is something to be filled, and my backlog of activities is usually long and seldom thoroughly tapped.

A friend of mine and I observed recently that one of the reasons he and I get along so well is because neither one of us really has any idea what free time is.

Friday, October 26, 2018

News of Interest

Scientists discover oldest intact shipwreck in Black Sea
They found a Greek trading vessel whose design had previously been seen only on ancient pottery. The group says the vessel has been carbon dated to more than 2,400 years ago. Farr said the trading vessel has remained in good condition because the water is anoxic, meaning it's free of oxygen.

China opens world’s longest sea bridge and tunnel to connect Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland
The 34.2-mile bridge and tunnel that have been almost a decade in the making for the first time connect the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai by road. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge spans the mouth of the Pearl River and significantly cuts the commuting time between the three cities. The previously four-hour drive between Zhuhai and Hong Kong will now take 45 minutes. One section of the crossing dives underwater into a 4.2 mile tunnel that creates a channel above for large cargo ship containers to pass through.

Hubble Telescope’s Broken Gyroscope Seemingly Fixed After Engineers Try Turning It Off and On Again

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thanksgiving Travel

Thanskgiving is four weeks from today!

I searched for flights from Washington to Orlando today to compare travel prices during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I was surprised to find Thanksgiving travel to be significantly more affordable than Christmas travel. (Others have already figured this out.) It also helped to be willing to delay my return until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.

I have opted for a Wednesday-to-Wednesday trip. Turns out there's a greater likelihood of seeing extended family during November than December this year anyway.

It also appeared that crossing the less-than-four-weeks-away threshold brought a jump in price today, even as I was searching. I've accordingly made a note on my calendar to send me a reminder in subsequent years for five weeks prior to Thanksgiving to check prices on travel. (Even that may be late, but I've also heard it's possible to be too early in booking flights.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Taking inspiration from a lecture by David Brooks, in Leaders: Myth and Reality, Gen. Stan McChrystal wrote a book modeled in structure on Plutarch's Leaders. I found it interesting that he specifically noted he and his fellow authors were specifically not intending to study whether or not the leaders were virtuous.

He wrote, “We offer accounts of those who have led and, importantly, also their context and surroundings, with the hope that these stories will help frame a deeper understanding of what it means to lead and what we mean by leadership. Where Plutarch asked, ‘What sort of man was he?’ we start by asking, ‘What sort of leader was she?’”

As he had just explained, Plutarch “was focused on matters of personal character … to study virtue so that it could be imitated.” Instead, McChrystal claims “Leadership is itself neither good nor evil.”

It seems a sign of the times that virtue is not only no longer our priority, but has specifically been rendered secondary. I also wonder if leadership is truly that agnostic in terms of good or evil.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Not by Sight

William Wilberforce on the character of Christians:

“First then, it is the comprehensive compendium of the character of true Christians, that ‘they are walking by faith, and not by sight.’ By this description is meant, not merely that they so firmly believe in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, as to be influenced by that persuasion to adhere in the main to the path of duty, though tempted to forsake it by present interest, and present gratification; but farther, that the great truths revealed in Scripture concerning the unseen world, are the ideas for the most part uppermost in their thoughts, and about which habitually their hearts are most interested.”

Wilberforce, William. A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. (pp. 126-127). Kindle Edition. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Administration vs. Productivity

In Deep Work, Cal Newport cites an interview in which Richard Feynman explained an anti-administration productivity strategy.
To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time… it needs a lot of concentration… if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t do anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, “no,” I tell them: I’m irresponsible.
Feynman was adamant in avoiding administrative duties because he knew they would only decrease his ability to do the one thing that mattered most in his professional life: “to do real good physics work” (pp. 61-62).
The name Richard Feynman always catches my attention. I enjoyed his book, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. In one essay therein he described how his father was very vivid in his descriptions of things when reading to him as a kid. If he was talking about the size of a dinosaur, he told him while standing on ground floor level, he could poke his head into a second-floor window of their house. As a scientist he also was continually unsure of things, and did not embrace faith for that reason. He was on the team investigating the Challenger explosion incident. Interesting guy.

His comments cited here set up an extremely clear distinction between work and busywork. While I can do administration, it's more of necessity and as a means to an end. I see the value of deep concentrated work. For me, it's more just a question of economics right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Am I Called?

Dave Harvey wrote a book called Am I Called? for those considering if they should go into ministry or not. Matt Chandler summarizes:
Chapter after chapter, Dave does a phenomenal job of outlining what needs to be considered for all of us, regardless of life position or background, to answer the question: Am I called? The book’s first section sums up what the call is and how that call comes to us. The second section is filled with questions, most of which you must continue to ask even after you enter pastoral ministry (Kindle Locations 121-124).

  • Are you godly?
  • How's your home?
  • Can you preach?
  • Can you shepherd?
  • Do you love the lost?
  • Who agrees?

Friday, October 19, 2018

News of Interest

New experiment: I'm going to collect news I find interesting each week here.

I went looking for a good weekly news summary last Saturday and didn't find one. Everyone wants to be daily in my inbox. I just want weekly. I've wanted weekly for a lot of things. Enough explanation, on to the headlines.

Another NASA space telescope just went into safe mode
The Chandra X-ray Observatory joins Hubble in going into protective mode to deal with a system complication.
Related: We're still years away from the Webb Telescope launch in March 2021.

Purging long-forgotten online accounts: Worth the trouble?
Perhaps a better approach is to focus on the most sensitive accounts. It might not matter than a news site still has your log in, if you never gave it a credit card or other personal details (of course, if you reused your bank password you might be at risk). Rich Mogull, CEO of data security firm Securosis, said people should think about what information they had provided to services they no longer use and whether that information could be damaging should private posts and messages inadvertently become public. Dating sites, in particular, can be a trove of potentially damaging information. Once you’re in a relationship, delete those accounts.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Borrowing ebooks

I had downloaded Libby before, but never really used it. It did not survive a previous round of app purging from my phone. However, after a mention from a friend yesterday, I downloaded it again, re-entered my (rarely used) library card number, and this time I downloaded a couple books to my Kindle: Hidden Figures and Deep Work.

I'm not entirely sure the practice of borrowing books when there's nothing being physically transferred entirely makes sense, and I'm not going to complain about being able to read full books without paying for a copy either.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Six Words

A few years back I heard about the Six Words initiative by Smith Magazine. I didn't read about it directly, and it seems I may have misunderstood the plan. Apparently they wanted six-word sentences to encapsulate a memoir. I used it more as an exercise to find six words as categories into which I could put everything else.

The number six also reminded me of the six days of Creation, so I also tried to organize them in an environment and filling pattern.

1. Word — As we sing in Awana Clubs, build your life on the word of God. This includes reading the word, memorizing it, studying it, etc.

2. Lead — As we learned in Summit, leaders are readers. This is mostly about leadership preparation, specifically reading books.

3. Form — This is the category for work. “If a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “Develop your business first before building your house” (Proverbs 24:27). Work and making a living are essential to being able to do everything else, so I borrowed the word from the creation pattern observation. However, it's subordinate to living a life to honor God, so that's why it's not first.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Age of Data

Sometimes one can check the news, not for the latest happenings, but for a sense of where we are as a culture.

I came across a headline that seems ripe for subjection to mockery by The Onion. (In fact, that prompted a visit to The Onion that featured a rather inspired work of satire. Reader discretion advised if perusing other headlines on that site.)

The headline was this: “What is a smart display and do you need one?

Get this: It's an amazing new internet-connected device, and it actually has a screen!

Wait, don't we have those already? Yes, but this screen doesn't do much. It just displays current status for things like the weather or your music playing. Dumb is the new smart. (I'm not saying it has no place; I'm just noting the irony.)

One of the samples shows a screen saying, “A light is on.” One the one hand, this sounds like it should be obvious enough, so why do we need another screen for that?

On the other hand, knowledge of your light being on is no longer limited to you. The Internet of things may redefine the internet and make it synonymous with your information being known beyond you.

Monday, October 15, 2018


There are two kinds of unity. Godly unity is good. Godless unity is bad.

At both the beginning and end of the Bible there are instances in which unity is considered by God to be a profoundly bad thing.

In Genesis 11, the people were united at the tower of Babel. They weren't uniting around God, but were in fact trying to make a name for themselves without him. In order to disrupt their plan, God confused their languages, and we still have 6,000 languages in the world today to remind us not to use unity as a form of rebellion.

In Revelation 13, we can read about how the world will unify around the beast and his mark to the point where people will not be able to buy or sell unless they participate in this one-world government system.

Mankind trying to be unified without God is bad. This why Christians rightly tend to oppose international government organizations like the UN and other entangling alliances.

Unity with God is good.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Junior Theologians

From a message I sent to Awana leaders today:

Today would have been my great-uncle Dave Breese's 92nd birthday. He was a longtime friend of Awana back in its early days. Then it was the Awana Youth Association. He wrote the introduction or forward to one of its history books. When he passed away 16 years ago, they asked that any gifts in his memory be given to Awana. I called my aunt Carol, his widow, this afternoon and she thanked me for remembering his birthday. She once described Awana as “raising up little theologians.” That's exactly right.

Awana leaders are raising up young theologians. If that sounds like an overstatement, believe me, it's not. Compared to the spiritual darkness and desert in which we live right around us, we are raising up a Gideon's army of people who know the truth and are storing it up in their hearts.

Friday, October 12, 2018

October 1992

26 years ago today my biological paternal grandfather passed away. I was 15. That was the most difficult time I've had with grief. I had been fine all the way through the funeral up until they closed the casket in front of us all, and then I lost it. Only as of 5 years ago have all my remaining grandparents passed away, but there was something unique about that time which I still remember.

My great-uncle Dave Breese was always the family speaker at life events on that side of the family. He preached the message at my biological father's funeral in 1979. He officiated my cousin's wedding. He preached at the passing of his brother-in-law, my grandfather, in 1992. I don't remember his message, but I remember something he said afterwards at the reception: “There's no better time to preach the Gospel than at a funeral.

I agree with that because when are people more ready to think about what happens after death than when they are faced with death?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Value of Uncertainty

We tend not to be fans of uncertainty in our personal lives. Uncertainty can be very valuable in public life.

Uncertainty spurs on more competition and brings prices down. Whether it's prices at fast food restaurants or prices of oil on world markets, uncertainty makes prices lower and saves people money. Sarah Palin was ridiculed for saying “Drill, baby, drill,” yet even if one only looks at the potential for that to create uncertainty, uncertainty on the cost side of the ledger is a good thing.

Uncertainty reduces crime. Let's say a criminal has a choice between three counties.

In county A no one is allowed to have a gun.
In county B people may or may not have a gun.
In county C people are required to have a gun in the home.

Who would disagree that in County C the risk of crime would be lower and in County A the risk of crime would be higher?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Courage in Culture

In his book Take Heart, Matt Chandler suggests Christians have four possible responses to a cultural moment he calls “the age of unbelief.”
  1. Converting Culture
  2. Condemning Culture
  3. Consuming Culture
  4. Courage in Culture
He doesn't like the first three. It's in the first approach of converting the culture that I take particular interest. About that option he wrote, “In this mindset, what matters most is that our nation’s culture reflects biblical principles and values.” With that I agree. The question is how does that happen?

I think this comes by a move of God, people seeking him, teaching His Word, and people seeking to apply Scripture to every area of their public, organizational, and private lives.

Though a pastor in Texas, Chandler instead sees this option mostly through the lens of politics.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Christians in Politics

The New York Times recently published an essay by Tim Keller about Christians and partisan politics. Keller opens with a question, “What should the role of Christians in politics be?” He quickly answers his own question by writing, “Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors.” He concludes claiming loving our neighbors through political processes is an inevitable requirement.

Politics is all about how we control the government, or as the Bible calls it, the sword (Romans 13:1-7). Government by its very nature creates a duty to obey. Love by its very nature is about things not done out of duty. There are inherent, built-in problems with the idea that the government can be used to force people to love one another.

Keller claims “most political positions are not matters of biblical command” and “The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions” about how to approach government. The Bible gives more than Keller indicates. In 1 Peter 2:14 and Romans 13:3-4 the Bible describes God’s intended purposes for government for every time, place and culture: punish those who do evil, and praise those who do good. The Bible has a lot to say about what is good and what is evil, even in the context of civil law. Oppression is evil, but being poor or being rich is not.

The question for us today is how far do we go in terms of punishing what God calls evil with the punishments God prescribes? The Pharisees confronted Jesus with applying the law to evil, and Jesus introduced them anew to mercy. We are to both seek justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8). Seek justice for the oppressed and mercy (injustice) for the perpetrators who turn away from evil. There is, however, no justice or mercy if there is no law to punish evil in place.

Monday, October 8, 2018

100 Days

I'm 10% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Specifically this means a new item is posted on this blog each day. It may have been written earlier, but the daily nature is maintained.

At first I posted a lot of the low-hanging fruit—topics that had been on my mind, but had never really put into writing.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Sleep Cycles

I recently did an addendum on my daily calculations to figure out how many sleep cycles I need. While the average person needs 5, it looks like I need almost 6. Short of getting 42 each week, I'm not going to be doing well for long.

With this having been a busy week starting a week ago today and last weekend, I'm ready to call it a day. I'm either getting old fast, or I'm just on an early schedule when I'm yawning away well before 9 p.m. Tomorrow is also a full day, and I may cut that evening event short, too.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Honor Your Father

For a couple days now I've been working on a response to a published piece sent to me. I'm much closer to finishing it, but it still needs some finishing.

However, today is slipping away, and I still need to call my dad for his birthday, so today's writing shall be abbreviated. Hopefully I finish this other item soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Adoption Anniversary

35 years ago today I got a new father. I'm not talking about my heavenly Father. I already had a father who had gone to heaven. A year before, my mom had remarried. In 1983 the laws of Florida were such that parents were not allowed to adopt stepchildren until after a year of marriage.

On October 3, 1983, John Hamilton McGhee adopted Timothy Thomas Christensen as his son. It was a separate legal procedure to legally change my name to Timothy Thomas Christensen McGhee.

Whenever Dad told others about adopting me, he often expressed his emphatic wonder that “They changed the birth certificate.” That's true. They did. I thought I had my original birth certificate for some time. When I've looked for it in recent years, I've only found the one that's still the legal record of my birth.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Data vs. Evidence

Data is a factual point.

Evidence is data with an interpretation.


Data: The jar has two cookies in it.

Evidence: The jar has two cookies in it, after there were five in it. Dad interprets his instructions to wait until after dinner as having been disobeyed.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Golden Quarter

From back in my retail days many moons ago, I remember that October through December is known as the Golden Quarter.

If you work full-time in retail, then the rule is no time off during these months. Being the industrious worker I was raised to be, I took this literally, and did not see any better option job-wise.

If you don't live near your family, then this is a problem for the holidays, the season of high expectations. Black Friday work requirements mean it's impossible to travel out of town for Thanksgiving while still reporting to work by 5 AM the next day. Calling in sick on Black Friday was tantamount to calling in fired. The same was true for the days leading up to Christmas.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Rejoicing in Being Forgotten

It is related that Yao, the type of an unselfish monarch, while on a tour of inspection in the disguise of a peasant, heard an old man singing this song to the notes of his guitar:

"I plough my ground and eat my own bread,
I dig my well and drink my own water:
What use have I for king or court?"

Yao returned to his palace, rejoicing that the state of his country was such that his people were able to forget him.
Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (p. 50). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Friday, September 28, 2018


I am grateful for friends from whom I can seek wise counsel about how to handle a situation.

Sometimes it's better to forgo short-term gain in order to maintain previous commitments, especially when a change would be on short notice and could frustrate someone else's plans for a significant life event.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Have you ever had one of those situations where you think in meeting up with someone you'll have a chance to hitch your wagon on to their train, and instead come to find out they may want to hitch on to yours?

I had a bit of that kind of experience this evening. Turns out we may just try to hitch on to someone else's wagon for a couple weeks to see how it goes first.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Awakening of China

Said the High Commissioner Tuan Fang, in an address to the Mission Boards at New York, February 2, 1906:

“We take pleasure this evening in bearing testimony to the part taken by American missionaries in promoting the progress of the Chinese people.

“They have borne the light of Western civilisation into every nook and corner of the Empire. They have rendered inestimable service to China by the laborious task of translating into the Chinese language religious and scientific works of the West. They help us to bring happiness and comfort to the poor and the suffering by the establishment of hospitals and schools.

“The awakening of China which now seems to be at hand may be traced in no small measure to the hand of the missionary. For this service you will find China not ungrateful."

Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (pp. 263-264). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Make the Building Ring

One man's experience listening to George Whitefield preach:
An American gentleman once went to hear him, for the first time, in consequence of the report he heard of his preaching powers. The day was rainy, the congregation comparatively thin, and the beginning of the sermon rather heavy.

Our American friend began to say to himself, "This man is no great wonder, after all." He looked round, and saw the congregation as little interested as himself.

One old man, in front of the pulpit, had fallen asleep.

But all at once Whitefield stopped short. His countenance changed. And then he suddenly broke forth in an altered tone: "If I had come to speak to you in my own name, you might well rest your elbows on your knees, and your heads on your hands, and sleep; and once in a while look up and say, What is this babbler talking of? But I have not come to you in my own name. No! I have come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts," (here he brought down his hand and foot with a force that made the building ring,) "and I must and will be heard."

The congregation started. The old man woke up at once.

"Ay, ay!" cried Whitefield, fixing his eyes on him, "I have waked you up, have I? I meant to do it. I am not come here to preach to stocks and stones: I have come to you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, and I must and will have an audience."

The hearers were stripped of their apathy at once. Every word of the sermon was attended to. And the American gentleman never forgot it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kindle Paperwhite

I bought a Kindle off Craigslist this weekend.

Reading on the Kindle Windows app was using too much battery. I wanted to be able to read at length without affecting how much time I could using my laptop on battery. Yes, old laptop battery.

I also like reading without light shining directly in my eyes.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Awake to Righteousness

In that great chapter on the resurrection, Paul wrote, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Did you catch that? There's literally a trade-off between our sin and the eternal destiny of souls around us.

When we take our eyes off our mission—a rescue mission—to participate in sin instead, that puts not just people's lives, but their destination for eternity at risk.

Evangelism, witnessing, and telling people the Good News are all about saving people from their sin. It's hard to show and tell people they need saving from sin if we're joining them in sin.

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