Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Growth Engine

This week is quite busy for me, and I'm not ahead of schedule on writing, so this is going to be another brief post.

Suffice it to say, God is using this little book in a couple people's lives today. He is, of course, a step of me, and it's fun to see that firsthand. He may be bringing the story in that book to real life, too. Stay tuned, and in prayer! Thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Almond Trees

Almond trees are among the earliest to bloom and the latest to bear fruit.

A friend of mine was applying the latter to me and a situation of mine today, but in looking up the analogy, and also in seeing the reference to almonds in Jeremiah 1:11-12, I'm wondering if the former isn't more applicable to how I should consider next steps for pursuing my purpose.

Monday, May 20, 2019

How do you measure success?

Do you measure success by…

• how much money you make?

• how content you are?

• how effectively you can do things?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Rejoicing in Routine

There is nothing that tells more of Christ than to see a Christian rejoicing and cheerful in the humdrum and routine of commonplace work, like the sailors that stand on the dock loading the vessel and singing as they swing their loads, keeping time with the spirit of praise to the footsteps and movements of labor and duty. No one has a sweeter or higher ministry for Christ than a business man or a serving woman who can carry the light of heaven in their faces all day long.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Abortion's ‘hard cases’

This is a reprint of one of the most compelling things I've ever read about the difficult question of rape and abortion. Links added.

Abortion’s House of Cards
Victims of rape and incest speak out
By Pamela Pearson Wong
January/February 2001

They’re called the “hard cases”: those situations that may cause even “pro-life” people to waffle on their opposition to abortion. A 12-year-old is the victim of incest by her brother. A 16-year-old, the only child of a hard-working single parent, is brutally raped by a stranger. A man overpowers a recent high school graduate on their first date.

Abortion supporters abuse tragic circumstances like these to gain sympathy for abortion-on-demand. When a woman or girl is the victim of sexual abuse, they say abortion is a way of escape. They claim that “forcing her” to give birth in these situations will cause more trauma than she can handle. What could be crueler, they ask, than insisting a girl or woman must bear the child of her rapist or abuser?

Pro-life supporters counter that, while they are tragedies, rape and incest should not be automatic grounds for abortion. A child conceived in abuse is still an innocent bystander who does not deserve to suffer for her father’s sins. Further, they say, abortion harms rather than helps women.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Plans and Steps

Tragedy recently hit the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia.

This hits a bit close to home for me because I've met some hikers from the Trail before. Four of them in Virginia had once gone into town to get supplies for a couple weeks, and we're heading back to the trail.

Trail names are a thing. I never knew about that until these people introduced themselves with names that sounded like they were characters out of Peter Pan. I don't remember them all now because they were so far out of the normal names I was expecting during introductions.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The presence of God is not a practice

The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence, is an old book about which there is renewed popularity and consternation. It's good to read something for oneself, and it's short.

Here are some quotes (in bold) from the book I found noteworthy. I also include Scripture references for comparison.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Rise of Vanity

Key cultural transformations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the rise of letter writing, the development of photography, the mass production of mirrors, and the repudiation of religious teachings that portrayed humans as inherently flawed, slowly accustomed individuals to public self-presentation and self-promotion.

Before these psychological labels emerged, Americans thought of high self-regard as a sin, and they used the words “vanity,” “pride,” and occasionally “egotism” to describe the trait.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A mother story to cherish from the Bible

One of the most beautiful stories portraying motherhood in all the Scriptures is the story of Hannah.

At first she could not have children. She sought the Lord diligently about this, and He answered her request. In expressing her thanks for the child, Samuel, she dedicated him to the Lord and, as he was growing up, saw him once a year.

The part of the story that gets me the most each time is 1 Samuel 2:19: “his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.”

Children grow up fast, and I imagine she would be surprised at how much he had grown. I’m sure she took that into account for calculations on his new size the next year.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Connecting Threads

Warren Wiersbe passed away early this month.

I remember his name from my family connections to ministries out of the Chicago area from years ago.

I recently bought his commentary series and outlines. I bought it especially because it presented Wiersbe as having been very effective at finding lots of threads connecting different parts of Scripture together. Even if he didn't go verse-by-verse, his was a form of expository preaching. Recently I included one of his examples in my teaching preparation on John 12.

I'm grateful for his life and testimony.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Divide and Conquer

Yesterday I read in Proverbs 30:27, “While locusts live without a ruler, they all know how to move in formation.” Some translations render that last word, “ranks.”

On it's face, today's anti-individual culture in the Church could use this as another example of “the value of ‘small groups.’” In looking up the original Hebrew word, however, the meaning seems to be the exact opposite. Ranks are formed by separating off sections of a larger group. Why your whole army get defeated at once when you can divide and conquer?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Scriptures used to advocate for contemplative prayer

There is a movement in the church today to advocate for prayer without words. Usually not much Scripture is involved in the presentation off these ideas. I came across one recently that did. I found it helpful to look up the Scriptures claimed to support the ideas.

What follows are the claims with Scripture references cited, and then the actual text of those Scriptures. The question to ask in considering these is: Do the Scriptures cited back up the claims? Links are added which can be used to look at them in context.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Fall of Jericho

BY C. H. SPURGEON, 1852.
THE day is come, the seventh morn
Is usher’d in with blast of horn,
Tremble, ye tow’rs of giant height,
This is the day of Israel’s might.
Six days ye mock’d the silent band,
This hour their shout shall shake your land.
Old Jordan’s floods shall hear the sound,
Yon circling hills with fear shall bound.

Thou palm-tree’d city, at thy gates,
Death in grim form this moment waits;
See, hurrying on the howling blast,
That dreaded hour, thy last, thy last.

Lo at the leader’s well known sign
The tribes their mighty voices join,
With thund’ring noise the heavens are rent,
Down fails the crumbling battlement;
Straight to the prey each soldier goes,
The sword devours his helpless foes.
Now impious! on your idols call;
Prostrate at Baal’s altar fall
In vain your rampart and your pride
Which once ,Jehovah’s pow’r defied.

Now Israel, spare not, strike the blade
In heart of man and breast of maid;
Spare not the old, nor young, nor gay,
Spare not, for justice bids you slay.

Who shall describe that dreadful cry,
These ears shall hear it till they die.
Pale terror shrieks her hideous note,
War bellows from his brazen throat,
Death tears, his prey with many a groan.
Nor earth itself restrains a moan.

Ho! vultures to the banquet, haste,
Here ye may feast, and glut your taste;
Ho! monsters of the gloomy wood,
Here cool your tongues in seas of blood.

But no; the flames demand the whole,
In blazing sheets they upward roll;
They fire the heavens, and cast their light
Where Gibeon pales with sad affright;
A lurid glare o’er earth is cast,
The nations stand with dread, aghast.
The shepherd on the distant plain
Thinks of old Sodom’s fiery rain;
tie flies a sheltering hill to find,
Nor casts one lingering look behind.

The magian scans his mystic lore,
Fortells the curse on Egypt’s shore;
The Arab checks his frighted horse,
Bends his wild knee, and turns his course.
E’en remote behold the glarer
And hardy sailors raise their prayer.

Now in dim smoke the flames expire
That lit the city’s funeral fire,
The glowing embers cease to burn:
Haste, patriot, fill the golden urn!
In crystal tears her dust embalm.
In distant lands, in strife or calm,
Still press the relic to thy heart,
And in the rapture lose the smart!
It must not be; her sons are dead,
They with their mother burned or bled;
Not one survives: the vip’rish race
Have perish’d with their lodging-place.
No more lascivious maidens dance,
No youths with lustful step advance,
No drunkard’s bowl, no rite unclean,
No idol mysteries are seen.
A warrior stands in martial state,
And thus proclaims her changeless fate.
“Accursed city, blot her name
“From mind of man, from lip of fame,
“Curs’d be the mail, and curs’d him race,
“Who dares his house on thee to place;
“He founds it on his firstborn’s tomb,
“And crowns it with the brother’s doom.”

Thus God rewards the haughty foe,
Great in their sin and overthrow.
He ever reigns immortal King;
With Israel’s song the mountains ring.

Yet ‘mid the justice dread severe,
Where pity sheds no silv’ry tear,
A gleam of golden mercy strays,
And lights the scene with pleasing rays.

One house escapes, by faith secure,
The scarlet thread a token sure,
Rahab, whose seed in future time
Should bear the virgin’s Son sublime.

Thus when the thund’rer grasps his arms,
And fills our earth with just alarms,
His hand still shields the chosen race,
And ‘midst his wrath remembers grace.
Charles H. Spurgeon (2010-04-18T23:58:59). The Sword and the Trowel Volume 1. Kindle Edition.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Post-Teaching

To teach is to take others on a tour of new territory.

To review is to help students navigate that territory themselves.

There is an art to integrating tools into teaching.

There is an art to integrating no tools into review.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Getting Fit

Our Father is fitting us for eternity.

A vessel fitted for the kitchen will find itself in the kitchen.

A vessel for the art gallery or the reception room will generally find itself there at last.

What are you getting fitted for?

Friday, May 3, 2019

17 years ago

It's hard to believe my great-uncle Dave Breese passed away 17 years ago today. He lived for 27,595 days.

His widow is still alive. I call her now and then. Today would be a good day to do so again.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

To End or Extend

First we make our decisions, and then our decisions make us. I once heard that.

Sometimes our past decisions break down or reach their endpoint. Sometimes we can extend those, too.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

New month, unexpected new challenge

Getting unexpectedly thrust into a market for a necessary, large, and not-exactly-affordable purchase can have a way of derailing one’s plans. This would include a daily writing commitment.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

2 things have made price matching very consumer-friendly

1. Store's providing WiFi for customers facilitates their customers saving money off their own prices.

2. Competitor apps that can scan UPC bar codes on the physical products in the store make it super easy to find a competitor price on exactly the same product. Even better is one can choose between the competitor's online price and in-store price for the most savings.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Our land of intelligence

No one in our land of intelligence is excusable for growing up under the dark shades of ignorance. The sun of science has risen, and all who will, may bask in its genial rays. The field of knowledge and path to glory are open to all. The means of acquiring information are far superior to those enjoyed by Sherman and Franklin. Let their bright and shining examples be imitated by Columbia’s sons, and our happy republic will live for centuries.

Let ignorance, corruption, and fanaticism predominate, and the fair fabric of our freedom, reared by the valour, and cemented by the blood of the revolutionary patriots, will tremble, totter, and fall. Chaos will mount the car of discord, sound the dread clarion of death, and LIBERTY will expire amidst the smoking ruins of her own citadel.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

What a small slender thread life is

If we would only drop all the needless things and simply do the things that absolutely touch and require our attention from morning till night, we would find what a small slender thread life was; but we string upon it a thousand imaginary beads that never come, and burden ourselves with cares and flurries that if we had trusted more, would never have needed to preoccupy our attention.

Wise indeed was the testimony of the dear old saint who said, in review of her past life, “I have had a great many troubles in my life, especially those that never came.”
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 81—March 21). Kindle Edition.

Friday, April 26, 2019

300 Days

Daily commitments are hard. I recommend not making too many of them. I'm 30% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing every day.

I have a brother who married 11 years ago today on April 26, 2008. I remember traveling to Chicago for that.

My maternal grandparents were married April 26, 1941. They were married for 72 years. This year would have been 78.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Food Budgeting

In terms of spending on food, I've long thought of there being a natural and obvious division between eating out and buying groceries.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if there shouldn't be a third in-between category of snack food. That wasn't not as obvious, clear, or natural (no organic pun intended). Some snack foods either straddle a line between the two or inhabit a gray area.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Supplying spiritual destitution

From the inaugural issue of The Sword and the Trowel:
London needs to have its spiritual destitution supplied. We must all give a stone towards erecting new places of worship. By the united help of friends far and near, could we not build four new places in the year 1865. The country needs help; let us aid in forming Churches where there are none. The field of work is boundless; there is no need to pause for spheres of labor.

But a voice says, “Begin at home.” I agree with the suggestion, and will proceed to carry it out. The penny post is a great tax on our time, but now and then we get a letter worth the reading; here is one addressed to us by one of the elders of our Church; it will do all pastors good to read it, and will be of no small service to Church members also.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Software is given to extremes

The fall from grace by social media was baked in from the start. Social media is and is based on software, and software is given to extremes.

Extremes are found at opposite ends of a spectrum, and software, by its nature, only sees one extreme or it's opposite. Everything is binary. It's either on or off. One or zero.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Question for Islam followers

Follows of Islam are usually ready to acknowledge Jesus was a prophet.

This is problematic for them, and there's one question that drives straight to the heart of the issue: Would a prophet claim to be God?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Minimal Facts

Is Jesus alive today? Yes!

Gary Habermas noted we can base this on the Scriptures texts that critical scholars accept.

The argument is very basic and has two parts.

1. Did people see Jesus die?

2. Did they see him alive afterwards?

The answer to both of those questions is yes.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Not Missing Civilization

From Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on John 12:
I read about some Christians who visited a remote mission station to see how the ministry was going. As they watched the dedicated missionary team at work, they were impressed with their ministry, but admitted that they missed “civilization.”

“You certainly have buried yourself out here!” one of the visitors exclaimed.

“We haven't buried ourselves,” the missionary replied. “We were planted!”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Jesus claimed to be God

It has become popular for some in our day to say that “Jesus never claimed to be God.” The Scriptures say otherwise.

Jesus claiming to be God is largely what got him killed, and so it is a timely question for Good Friday.

What follows are some Scriptures which speak directly to Jesus' claims to deity.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

High Priest Confrontation Comparison

Jesus struck before the high priest (John 18:19-23):
The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.

Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.

And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Justice Ginsburg's reason for success in law school

Justice Ginsburg in her own words, emphasis added:
Advice from my father-in-law has also served me well. He gave it during my gap years, 1954–56, when husband Marty was fulfilling his obligation to the Army as an artillery officer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. By the end of 1954, my pregnancy was confirmed. We looked forward to becoming three in July 1955, but I worried about starting law school the next year with an infant to care for.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Record of Combat

Charles Spurgeon published a monthly magazine called The Sword and The Trowel. It was subtitled, “A Record of Combat with Sin & Labor for the Lord.”

The “Combat with Sin” part gripped me today. Reminded me of Romans 8:13 and 13:14.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Church is not a building

For those to whom Notre Dame was more than a landmark, the building being engulfed in flames is assuredly not what they expected for the beginning of Holy Week. And yet the singing of praises by people as they looked on the building still in flames reflects a deeper understanding by people of France.

19Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)

We, believers, the Body of Christ, are the building. The physical building is just where we meet.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Foretaste of Heaven

This word glory is very difficult to translate, define and explain; but there is something in the spiritual consciousness of the quickened Christian that interprets it.

It is the overflow of grace; it is the wine of life; it is the foretaste of heaven; it is a flash from the Throne and an inspiration from the heart of God which we may have and in which we may live.

“The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them,” the Master prayed for us. Let us take it and live in it.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 76—March 16). Kindle Edition.

Friday, April 12, 2019

4th to the Moon

Israel is “the seventh country to orbit the moon and the fourth to reach the moon's surface.”

Israel's Beresheet Lunar Lander Lost
The Beresheet lunar lander, operated by the Israeli non-profit SpaceIL, crashed into the surface of the moon this afternoon while attempting to land.
About 30 minutes after the start of SpaceIL's livestream, Beresheet began it's landing procedure 25 km above the surface, the lander descended at a rate of about 24 m/s and everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Original Context of Understanding the Times

A phrase that has risen in favor in recent decades is to “understand the times.” It, or a form thereof, has become part of several book titles. My first introduction to it came from Summit Ministries in Colorado. David Noebel named his book Understanding the Times. The phrase comes from 1 Chronicles 12:32: “of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command.” Another book also taking its name from this verse is Sons of Issachar for the 21st Century.

At one level, the phrase stands on its own in this verse. If you back up and take a look at the larger context, it can seem like a nugget tucked into a lengthy “list passage,” much like the prayer of Jabez (also good book material) appears in the middle of a multi-chapter genealogy. This nugget, though, is different, and its context is informative, disguised though its usefulness it may be.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Understanding Stress

Some years ago, I met a psychology professor from Oxford who told me that most people misunderstand what stress is. We typically think that it is having a lot to do. He thinks that’s wrong.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

3 languages of politics, and what each misses

Arnold Kling, author of The Three Languages of Politics, suggests that each of the three major American political persuasions filters the world through a particular lens:

Progressives see the world as a battle between victims and oppressors;

Conservatives see the world as a battle between civilization and barbarism;

Libertarians see the world as a battle between freedom and coercion.

Each group interprets events differently and comes to different conclusions in no small part because it starts from a different guiding premise.

Russ Roberts of the Hoover Institution, following Kling, shows what each group misses.

Monday, April 8, 2019

4 core truths about human nature and government

We’re flawed—and naturally inclined to fight.

Those who wield government power shouldn’t be trusted to resolve many fights or to declare many winners and losers.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Smallest Screw and Rivet

In the great factory and machine there is a place for the smallest screw and rivet as well as the great driving wheel and piston, and so God has His little screws whose business is simply to stay where He puts them and to believe that He wants them there and is making the most of their lives in the little spaces that they fill for Him.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 69—March 9). Kindle Edition.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Monday morning and Friday evening questions

Senator Sasse shares a poignant story from his political rival:
My colleague Chuck Schumer, with whom I wrestle on just about everything in our day jobs, puts this idea beautifully in the dozens of commencement speeches he gives each spring. He tells graduates entering the work world that, while their new diplomas are lovely, their happiness will depend largely on whether they can answer what he calls the “Monday morning and Friday evening questions”:

Thursday, April 4, 2019

How automation will affect jobs

Only a small fraction—perhaps one in twenty—job categories will be entirely eliminated in the next decade. Rather, the major action will take place at the level of the many individual tasks that make up any given job.

McKinsey suggests that most jobs (probably about 60 percent) have about 30 percent of their activities that could be automated. In other words, only a small number of today’s jobs will simply vanish. But most jobs will begin to look significantly different. It is more accurate, then, to speak not simply of jobs lost and gained, but also—and primarily—of jobs remade.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Number One Job in America

“Driver” is the number one job in America. And it is currently the number one job in thirty-seven of the fifty states. People serve their neighbors as UPS deliverers, cabbies, big-rig operators, school bus drivers, pizza delivery guys, and on and on.
Source: Them by Senator Ben Sasse

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. In an economy, ultimately everyone is moving something around. Some argue that the first form of this moving is transformation (like turning a tree into a rocking chair or paper).

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

4 Drivers of Happiness

Social scientists have identified four primary drivers of human happiness, which we can put in the form of four questions:

Do you have family you love, and who love you?

Do you have friends you trust and confide in?

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Rarest of Human Gifts

Mark Twain once wrote, “the happy phrasing of a compliment is one of the rarest of human gifts, and the happy delivery of it another.”

If one were to inquire into one's ability by age to deliver a complement, the proportions decrease in tandem. Also difficult for youth is an accurate assessment of age. (Differences in age are an increasingly large proportion of one's age the younger one is.) I was no exception to either of these trends.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Four Terrible Foes

A.B. Simpson divides up the difficulties in life four ways: “Christ has overcome for us every one of our four terrible foes—Sin, Sickness, Sorrow, Satan.”*

This is somewhat in contrast to a more traditional rendering of challenges in life: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

* Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 65—March 5). Kindle Edition.

Friday, March 29, 2019

When Cultural Fit works against an organization

The strongest corporate cultures are the most challenged. In Originals, Adam Grant got to know one of these companies well. Here are some of my highlights from reading about that:
it’s sometimes better to encourage people to complain about problems than to solve them

Dissenting opinions are useful even when they’re wrong.

The evidence suggests that social bonds don’t drive groupthink; the culprits are overconfidence and reputational concerns.

When I polled executives and students about the strongest culture they had ever encountered in an organization, the landslide winner was Bridgewater Associates.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Disagreeable = Supportive

Adam Grant wrote about creativity in Originals, and in the process discovered a lot about management's role with and affect on people. Here are some of my highlights:
the most supportive managers sometimes provide the least support

At work, our sense of commitment and control depends more on our direct boss than on anyone else.

Disagreeable managers are typically the last people we seek when we’re going to go out on a limb, but they are sometimes our best advocates.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

50 percent of English usage comes from only 135 words

In applying his method for rapid skill acquisition to learning how to touch-type with a different keyboard layout, Josh Kaufman noted that “only 135 words account for 50 percent of all English usage.” That's a remarkable number. (Given that “the” accounts for 7.5 percent and “of” accounts for 3.5 percent, that also speaks to possible inefficiencies of English.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

5 Things Teachers can do to encourage originality

1. Ask children what their role models would do.

2. Link good behaviors to moral character.

3. Explain how bad behaviors have consequences for others.

4. Emphasize values over rules.

5. Create novel niches for children to pursue.

Source: Originals by Adam Grant

Monday, March 25, 2019

What Sailing and Flying have in common

For purposes of rapid skill acquisition, in his chapter on windsurfing, Josh Kaufman corrects a common misconception about the sail itself. It's not because wind fills the sail and pushes the boat along.
Sails work by creating differences in air pressure on the front and back of the sail. In most conditions, as air flows around the sail, the flow creates an area of low pressure in the front (toward the bow), and an area of high pressure in the back (toward the stern). The combined effect of these two different pressure zones creates a force that moves the craft in the direction of the low-pressure area. As a result, the wind pulls the sail as much as it pushes it. Airplane wings work much the same way.
The commonality with aviation is especially intriguing, and all the more so considering how long principles of aerodynamic pressure were used vertically on sail masts for thousands of years before being applied horizontally on airplane wings.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Moses' First Visit to the Promised Land

But to the glory of the grace of God we can add that what the law could not do for Moses the Gospel did; and he who could not pass over the Jordan under the old dispensation is seen on the very heights of Hermon with the Son of Man, sharing His Transfiguration glory, and talking of that death on Calvary to which be owed his glorious destiny.

That grace we have inherited under the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (pp. 56-57—February 24). Kindle Edition.

Friday, March 22, 2019

20th Century History

I've been reading History of the Twentieth Century lately, and it is a long book. Apparently it's the condensing of three books into one, but at 1,000 pages, it's still running about 10 pages per year of history for a century. It feels a lot like reading weekly summaries on politics from The Economist in book form.

My main takeaway so far is that tension, conflict, and bloodshed have been happening regularly for a long time. After 100 years we tend to only remember bigger more consequential events, but there were many more along the way that are remembered less, but still were highly consequential in their own right for the people nearby affected.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hiring is aimed at the future, depending on the past

The hiring process in America is built to repeat the past.

The number one criteria for finding a job is how much experience you already have doing that job.

This makes getting a job in a newer field a bit mysterious. It feels a bit like saying you want someone with 20 years' experience in social media even though social media has only been around for 15 years.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Constellations

Happy spring vernal equinox!

Near the end of last year I read about astronomy and learned some basics. Worldwide, officially there are 88 constellations—one for every key on a piano. Some are visible only in the northern hemisphere, some only in the southern hemisphere.

Within those latitudinal limits, not all of them are visible all year long. During half the year the sun blocks are view of some constellations altogether, and then half a year later blocks the other half. There are a couple lists that show which is visible when.

Northern hemisphere spring constellations include: Bootes, Cancer, Crater, Hydra, Leo, and Virgo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Near-Earth Object Explodes

CNN: A meteor exploded in the Earth's atmosphere with 10 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb

We track near-earth objects, right?

Stories like this make me wonder which of these two conditions was met:

1. We knew about this object, but we thought it wasn't big enough to worry about.

2. We didn't know about this object even though we thought we would catch things like this.

Monday, March 18, 2019

39 Steps

I read the first part of Robert Kennedy: His Life, and therein is mentioned how the Kennedy brothers enjoyed spy novels like The Thirty-Nine Steps.

I subsequently read the short novel, and I can concur it is an engaging read. Near the beginning, John Buchan's character shows, at 37, he is on the cusp of a mid-life crisis: “I looked up into the spring sky and I made a vow. I would give the Old Country another day to fit me into something; if nothing happened, I would take the next boat for the Cape.”

Little surprise he captured the imagination of a generation for half a century including a future President.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Reckoning

A.B. Simpson once called “reckon” “one of the key-words of Scripture.”* Reckoning, or reconciling, is what one does when debts come due and it's time to even accounts.

In our society today, we've forgotten about reckoning. It's become a word that is associated with a drawl that means little more than a passing comment: Perhaps, “I reckon that's the way things are.”

This may be because we've been living on debt without end, seemingly without limit. This is true nationally and personally in many areas. We've been doing this long enough, few seem to have any sense of gravity that a day of reckoning is coming, much less having any sense of what that would look like. The days of “deficits don't matter” have their limit.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The shelf life of a Bernie Sanders argument

Bernie Sanders says he wants the U.S. to “guarantee healthcare to all people as a right” like “every other major country.”

That argument had more covetousness-inducing power when those other major countries known as the developed world were not struggling to actually pay for that “free” care. Now they are. The grass is not so green on the other side anymore.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Credibly Accused

American's are growing impatient, and this is a danger to justice.

There has arisen this habit of reporting not just that someone is accused of a crime, but is “credibly” accused.

This is a not-so-subtle attack on due process. Who needs to bother with evaluating evidence and witness credibility according to legal standards when they've already been found guilty in the court of public opinion?

If you think “credibly accused” can't have disastrous and very negative consequences, read The Innocent Man.

1970s work begins

It's a little ironic to hear people complain about proposing cuts to NASA's budget when NASA hasn't bothered to study new materials it's had for upwards of 50 years.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sound Discovery

For those who think there's nothing left to be discovered, look: a discovery about sound.

Phonons sound like the audio counterpart to photons.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Climatically Warmer

Ancient discoveries intrigue me, especially the ones that describe a time that “would have been climatically much warmer than the present-day polar climate” to the point where these creatures “all flourished” in that environment.

It sounds like climate change is less of a threat and more an adjustment of opportunities.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Resistance

Ever since President Trump was inaugurated in 2017, “resist,” “resisting,” and “The Resistance” have become ubiquitous. This is concerning for reasons that go beyond politics.

In one of the clearest and longest passages in the New Testament about the role of government, we can read, “whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:2).

Far worse than any loss in politics is the loss of one’s soul, even if one has gained the whole world (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36). I strongly urge those who oppose the President, even if they have valid points, to change their approach and pick a new word to describe their efforts.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Legacy of Kings

The first few kings of Israel are well known: Saul, David, and Solomon. After that, Israel split never to reunify, and most of the remaining kings are far less known. Some of them reigned for long periods of time, and others very short. Some of them started very young and reigned for many years, and others began when they were more advanced in years. Near the end of the Israeli monarchy, before the nation was carried off into exile, the accounts become increasingly scant. I’ve been amazed at how little we know of some of them. “Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:31). Imagine that: a king of God’s chosen people whose legacy is little more than a pair of timestamps!

Even in the midst of very short accounts (and also in the longer accounts) there are some consistent facts mentioned with each one. One of these is to honor women. We know the names of the mothers who raised many of these kings because the Scriptures include them. A bit of explaining is in order for understanding another of the facts mentioned.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Not So Decaf

A few weeks back I had a conversation with an elderly relative who told me I “should” drink coffee as it extends lifespans. I told her I have never been a coffee drinker as I didn't want to be hooked on the caffeine.

Nonetheless, the conversation got me thinking and taking another look at the coffee machine my building provides. After exploring several options and translating the Italian, I became a regular drinker of the decaf latte, sometimes multiple times in a day. The amount of cream it has is like getting a daily glass of milk included in my rent. No caffeine, no potential headaches, right?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Artificial Intelligence + Wisdom

Artificial intelligence basically works by pattern matching on a large scale.

Intelligence should not be confused with wisdom. Algorithms do not have an innate or inherent moral sense of right and wrong. That's why people can very quickly embarrass large-scale developers by turning a chatbot racist.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Two Ways to Save Money

(1) Sometimes we can spend more time than we think it's worth trying to save a few dollars or even less on an item. (2) On the other hand, sometimes that search leads us to other longer-term ways to save money by leading us to a cheaper source.

Take books, for instance. “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). This is true, and it feels like it also holds true for subsets of books like Kindle books, Kindle samples, free books, Gutenberg books, and Christian Classics.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Better Than Reinventing

We don't have to literally reinvent the wheel, but sometimes we still have to avail ourselves of it.

For me recently this meant laundry. I'm grateful for the machines we have to do it for us, and it's a magnificent upgrade from the old method. (Apparently even that method has seen improvement.) I'm also grateful to have an abundance of clothes to wash. In order to be more grateful for my laundry blessing, I recently added wheels to the process.

After seeing a neighbor with a fine contraption for easily rolling clothes down the hall, I discovered there's such a thing as a laundry sorter. After finding that a bit pricey but still upgrading my level of urgency, I then discovered adding wheels to the process doesn't have to get quite so fancy. Even laundry baskets can come with wheels now.

Monday, March 4, 2019

IFTTT - ESPN

I've had a very on-and-off relationship with IFTTT and alerts, especially for things like sports alerts.

I was prepared to set up simple sports scores alerts for local teams, and I noticed the ESPN channel is no longer there. Turns out ESPN discontinued its API a few months ago, so those alerts are no more.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Influence of the Church

How does the Church relate to government? We have a popular philosophy going in the world today that says there should be separation between Church and state. They carry that idea to the extreme, concluding that it means the state should not be influenced at all by the moral view of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Constitution says that the government “shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or inhibiting the free exercise thereof.” What that really means is, there isn’t supposed to be a state church. The people who said, “no state church,” were very wise, perceptive Christians. The state backing a religious design that somebody calls a church, like the Church of England, or the Church of Denmark, is not biblical. A human institution is no more the Church than is the man in the moon. The framers of the Constitution feared a government-backed religious institution, because they knew it would exercise, finally, coercive force upon the individual.

Rather, we must have with a nation, not a church controlled BY the state, but a church which is a powerful influence UPON the state. The Church should become a great beacon for the state to observe, so that the state will know the difference between right and wrong.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Google Sheets, the Google Reader of 2019

Google killed off Google Reader a long time ago, but one can get something even more useful than Reader today.

IFTTT can be used to send RSS feed content to a Google Sheet. This has several advantages over Reader.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Car insurance savings

I saved 57.7 percent by switching from my insurance agent to my insurance agent.

Data broker activity has been on full display for me this week. First, all the competitor mailers came about the same time this month, right when my six-month premium was coming due. Then, it became clear insurance companies can see anyone's complete auto insurance history once you're applying for insurance.

Once I started getting prices, not a single one was less than my current carrier. One was slightly lower, another was less than half, and another had a six-month premium that looked like a monthly price.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Four Basic Components of Weather

There are four main drivers of weather on earth.

1. The sun. This includes both how strong heat is leaving the sun, and arriving on one side of the earth. Solar activity and cycles contribute directly to whether or not temperatures are above or below average.

2. The rotation of the earth. This includes the 23° angle of the earth's axis. The tilt of the axis gives us our seasons. The rotation of the earth around this axis generates a lot of wind patterns. Land is moving fastest at the equator, and slows down to rotating in place at the poles. This speed difference explains why hurricanes rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Ruling the World from the Grave

I started reading Charles Darwin today. The full title of his book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

That's a very racially charged title for a book published 505 days before the Civil War broke out.

Reading his list of chapter subheadings was interesting. He repeatedly notes “difficulties” with his theory. He also notes “the poorness” of the palaeontological collection at the time.

Scientists leave room for the possibility that their theory is not complete.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Exploring Details

Sometimes when opportunities come your way, maybe unexpectedly, it's good to explore the details of how things would, or would be expected, to work out. Today was a day of exploring details in two completely different areas.

I also toured a couple apartments. Today has elapsed before accomplishing much writing, but I have collected a few ideas for writing I hope to bring to fruition here soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Boiling Water Christians

“Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. xii. 2).

There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.

So there are three kinds of Christians.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mourning the Celebrations in New York

Last week members of the House dedicated an hour of floor time to discussing the urgent need for legislation to prohibit infanticide.

Three moments stood out to me from this discussion:

1. Mrs. Hartzler (MO-4):

A lot of people are unfamiliar of how a late-term abortion is done and what these individuals in New York were celebrating. It is graphic, but people need to know what happens.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tax Reform Meets the 1040

In case you haven't seen the new 1040 yet, it's a lot different. No more 1040-A or 1040-EZ. It's all one form that looks quite simple on the surface.

It's a lot like the old full 1040 except various sections are now spread out over six new schedules.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When a child screams

In my apartment building about an hour ago a small child's hand got stuck to an elevator door and it got closed into the elevator door frame. There was screaming on the part of the child, the parents, and there arose in all an instant sense of urgency to rescue this child from harm's way.

It's snowy and possibly icy outside, and yet these parents sounded like they're on the way to the hospital to ensure their small girl's hands are not damaged in any permanent way or can get needed medical attention as soon as possible.

Inherent problems with filing taxes online

Many Americans like to file their taxes online. They think it's easier, quicker, more convenient and a good investment of whatever it costs, if it costs them anything at all. Some might even argue it pays for itself if it helps them “get more money back.”

In the short term, there is little basis for arguing with this point of view. All of those things may be true.

In the longer term view, what else happens? What does this convenience enable that could be damaging?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading books from 2020 candidates

It's Day 50 of 2019, and a small multitude of folks including half a dozen senators have announced their intentions to challenge President Trump for the U.S. presidency in 2020.

As much as I've found Twitter useful over the years, I'd like to get to know these candidates with a bit more depth than one will find in a Tweet or their latest reaction to whatever story or comment the news is chasing in any given day.

Most people who are serious about becoming President write a book, and the senators have. Having become a regular Kindle user, including of its free sample offering, I have downloaded several samplings from these candidates. I may see if my local library can loan a full copy if I find the reading engaging.

On the Kindle, free samples are better than library loans. Samples you can delete from your Kindle library; public library loans you cannot, even if you didn't highlight anything.

Time to see what these folks had to say, maybe even before they intended to run for President.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Meek slaves of a custom

Mark Twain on duels:
It is pathetic. There are other duels in my list, but I find in each and all of them one and the same ever-recurring defect—the principals are never present, but only their sham representatives. The real principals in any duel are not the duellists themselves, but their families. They do the mourning, the suffering, theirs is the loss and theirs the misery. They stake all that, the duellist stakes nothing but his life, and that is a trivial thing compared with what his death must cost those whom he leaves behind him. Challenges should not mention the duellist; he has nothing much at stake, and the real vengeance cannot reach him. The challenge should summon the offender's old gray mother, and his young wife and his little children,—these, or any to whom he is a dear and worshipped possession—and should say, "You have done me no harm, but I am the meek slave of a custom which requires me to crush the happiness out of your hearts and condemn you to years of pain and grief, in order that I may wash clean with your tears a stain which has been put upon me by another person."

The logic of it is admirable: a person has robbed me of a penny; I must beggar ten innocent persons to make good my loss. Surely nobody's "honor" is worth all that.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

National Repentance

God spoke to Israel and said, “Repent. Change your mind. Come back to the place where you used to live and walk with God. Your mind has given you over to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, the worship of pagan idols, and adultery. You’ve got to change how you understand life, or there is no hope for you.”

God said that to the nation of Israel, but He said it to the other nations of the world as well. Quite a number of times in the Old Testament, He addressed all the nations.

Every nation in the world, not just Israel, is under an obligation to do the will of the God who stands behind it all.
From “The Future of America—A Call to Revival, Part 1,” by Dave Breeese.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The most useful thing I taught a high school senior

It was once my privilege to mentor a young man. We studied James and then studied and memorized Philippians together. (Daily memorization gets you through a text faster than weekly study, FYI.)

Somewhere along the way he saw my system for naming files starting with the date in a particular format:

yyyy-mm-dd - description.ext

I told him if you do that, then an alphabetical list of your files is also a chronological list. Single-digit numbers must be two digits for this to work properly. For instance, today in February would be 2019-02-15.

At first he thought this was unnecessary because files already have date stamps on them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Changes needed to avoid school shootings

It seems the debate on the right to self-defense tends to take on one of two extremes.

Some people conclude the way to get rid of shootings is to get rid of the guns used to commit them.

That proposal has multiple problems. One, we have a Second Amendment. Two, the right to self-defense or the examples of oppression that come when it is denied is long established in the Scriptures. Three, the problem with people using guns to break laws is not that we don't have enough laws against using guns for evil.

The opposite extreme is to “arm teachers” in the classroom.

You don't have to start too many conversations in an elementary school before you find teachers who object to this proposal. Many of them don't want to be armed.

There's a difference between a government policy mandating and funding the arming of every teacher and allowing those teachers that want to arms themselves to exercise their constitutional rights.

One does not need either extreme in order to make a difference when it comes to preventing a school shooting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Until men despise patriotism

From the funeral for Matthew Fontaine Maury:
As long as the planets roll their nightly courses through the sky, his name will be inscribed on the starry firmament. As long as the ocean heaves, the winds blow, and men seek distant lands in commerce, his praise will not want a voice. Till men forget science, he will not be forgotten; and until men despise patriotism, his example will teach us to give up all at the call of our native land. And for our selves, we will be dead to the sweetness of friendship, the love of virtue, and the admiration of Christian piety, when we cease to cherish the memory of him whose death we here record.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Freedom, the goal

After having heard many good things about Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England over the years, I was quite pleased recently to discover an accessible readable version is finally available.

Apparently this work originated as a series of lectures, and after competing and potentially inaccurate transcripts were circulated, Blackstone formally published an official version of his comments.

It has not disappointed. Here's a taste, circa 1758:
…first, to demonstrate the utility of some acquaintance with the laws of the land, let us only reflect a moment on the singular frame and polity of that land, which is governed by this system of laws. A land, perhaps the only one in the universe, in which political or civil liberty is the very end and scope of the constitution.
The goal was freedom. Of course, history has taken turns since then, but the objective was clear and good.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mark Twain would have been a podcaster

From Chapters of his autobiography:
Not even yet have I really written myself out. I have merely stopped writing because dictating is pleasanter work, and because dictating has given me a strong aversion to the pen, and because two hours of talking per day is enough, and because—But I am only damaging my mind with this digging around in it for pretexts where no pretext is needed, and where the simple truth is for this one time better than any invention, in this small emergency. I shall never finish my five or six unfinished books, for the reason that by forty years of slavery to the pen I have earned my freedom. I detest the pen and I wouldn't use it again to sign the death warrant of my dearest enemy.
Twain, Mark. Chapters from My Autobiography. Location 3429. Kindle Edition.

I take that to mean his podcast would have been two hours long and I would not have listened to it.

Then again, maybe he just needed an introduction to the ballpoint pen.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Repentance

The word used in Scripture is metanoia.” “Meta is a “change”; noia means “the mind.” So “metanoia” in its original sense means “a change of mind.” “You need to change your mind about reality” is what the Bible says to a wicked and adulterous generation.

But the warning I would like to lift is, that when many people talk about repentance, they mean a great emotional thing. They mean people who are sorry about the past, and feel bad about it. They mean people who will turn their lives into another direction. These things do have their place under certain circumstances, but that’s not what repentance means!

Friday, February 8, 2019

How Video Changed Games

Book excerpt:
I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, during the golden age of “cheating” in video games. I first had an Atari 2600, then an 8-bit Nintendo, and eventually I moved on to (from today’s perspective) hilariously bad PC games. I’m not much of a gamer anymore, but I can appreciate how far video games have come. In some sense, I’m lucky that I grew up in the days when they were sophisticated enough to where I could play something that looked like baseball (or football or a spaceship that for some reason needed to shoot a bunch of other spaceships) on the screen, but primitive enough that I could figure out all of the game’s weaknesses and exploit them. I didn’t even have to go to the arcade and spend all my quarters. Everything was right there on my television. I don’t think people truly appreciate the impact that bad video games had on baseball or the world in general.

Maybe the most important cultural legacy of the video game is the idea of one-player mode. Most real-world games are multi-player. They pit two (or more) people against each other within some rule structure and the players compete until there’s a winner. While you’re playing the game—assuming that your friends actually want to win—there is no space to stop the game, back up, and try something a little different to see if you can get an edge that way. Before one-player mode, most games were social experiences. There was etiquette to consider. You didn’t take every last advantage and run up the score, even if you could, especially if you still wanted to be friends with the person after the game was over.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How to Innovate

There are two kinds of rules in business. One set includes the moral, ethical, and legal. These should be kept. The other set includes the unwritten rules of market and business operations expectations. These are where innovation opportunities lie, often hidden. It is in testing, probing, questioning, and sometimes outright breaking these unwritten rules that the most potential can be uncovered.

Take, for instance, radio. One of the most important rules in radio is not allowing a broadcast to go silent. This wasn’t the case originally, but as the business model has been optimized since the early days of radio, the most important way to retain listeners and maximize revenue is to ensure there is always something to which people can listen.

What if this rule were to be broken? What if silence in broadcasting could be turned into a competitive advantage?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Highlights from The Art of War

That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

Soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.

Rapidity is the essence of war.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How Sun Tzu Became General

Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch`i State. His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu.

Ho Lu said to him: "I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?"

Sun Tzu replied: "You may."

Ho Lu asked: "May the test be applied to women?"

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Redeemer of Israel

I recently learned that my sister's birthday, today, February 4, share's calendar significance with the days of purification for Jesus.

“When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named Jesus — the name given by the angel before He was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:21-22). “Forty days after Jesus' birth is the time of the circumcision (eight days) plus the 33 days of Leviticus 12:3-4 counted inclusively” (ESVSB). December 25 + 8 + 33 = February 4.

Two different people made reference to this event in a way that indicated this was not your everyday purification ceremony.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

1977 Athletes

Tom Brady was born a couple months after me on August 3, 1977. He is 59 days younger than me. While he’s in the spotlight once again today, this post is about a different athlete born in 1977.

David Ross was born on March 19, 1977. He is 78 days older than me. A couple years ago he and the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. With 108 years since their previous win, this was a long time in coming. Along the way, the team had fun with his age, and shared memories of what life was like in the 1980s, a decade I also remember.

I sampled a few books about the Cubs and their win, and Teammate by David Ross stood out. A lesser known part of David’s story is how he was cut from a different MLB team, and had a reputation as being a bad teammate. He determined to correct that, and Teammate is the story of his correction and the championship results he enjoyed from those efforts.

Ross lists the good attributes of being a teammate as Humility, Honesty, Reliability, Communication, Problem Solving, Sacrifice, Dealing with Change, Engagement, Being Positive, Accountability, Being Social, Toughness, Trust, and Fun.

As I read this book, I noticed some other attributes that are not described directly in that list.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Conversation

This is not the first generation to have difficulty with converation. In a testament to how rare and difficult conversation has become, one blogger has dubbed herself a conversation agent.

Bob Wilkin describes his difficulty with conversation: “I find it hard to talk to most people. I usually have to think about it. When I first met Abby, one of the signs whereby I knew she was the girl for me was that we talked easily and freely. No effort needed. It was perfectly and utterly natural. Normally, for me, it takes effort to talk to people. Even family.”

My great-uncle Dave Breese once described intelligent conversation as a source of knowledge “more readily available than any other.”
Intelligent conversation is free, it is fascinating, it is food for the soul and fine tuning for the fertile mind. The interaction between two intelligent Christian minds going in the same direction is one of life’s most precious gifts.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What do you want?

Before we leave this beginning month of the year, it’s worth noting another beginning.

Jesus’ first question of his disciples was, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). Jesus asked a question like this more than once (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41). It’s a beautiful open-ended question. It’s not a closed, directed question. It’s full of freedom.

His followers answered a question of what with an answer of where that was really based on who: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” (John 1:38). Maybe they could have gone anywhere, but they pegged their desires to being with Jesus wherever he was.

Jesus once asked a similar question once long before this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Experience

It's not a verb.

I learned that my senior year in high school when I did a research paper on the writer Bernard Malamud. It was one of his pet peeves.

If you think about it, using “experience” as a verb is about as substance-free of a verb as one can get. Verbs are about action, and if something is “experienced” (sic), that says absolutely nothing about the action other than there was action.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rediscovering the Value of Names

Names, especially in the English-speaking world, have taken on a nature unique in the history of the world.

In ages past, names were often descriptors. I learned this after I learned how to look up Bible words in the original Hebrew and Greek. In developing his exhaustive lexicon and numbering every word used in the Bible, Mr. Strong had a habit of giving a word a different number if it was being used as a name, than its normal use in grammar. However, if you look at the lexicon entry for a word just before or just after an entry for a name in his lexicon, sometimes it's the exact same word, explained as its other use.

What this means is that there was not a separate name category of words in those languages. People were simply given everyday words as names, often surrounding the circumstances of their birth or beginning. If someone was given a new name, that new name was similarly related to an event or circumstances in their life.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Approaching God

When teaching Sunday School recently, part of the lesson on Exodus 3:11-15 asked a question about how we approach God. The curriculum question was written in such a way that the “right answer” was that we should “never” approach God lightly.

Viewing my relationship with God differently, I instead asked, “Is it ever appropriate to come before God lightly?” Technically that's a closed question, but its nature is still one to open up discussion, and it did.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

God's Empathy

At the end of last year it was my privilege to substitute teach in Sunday School. Our lesson was on Exodus 3-4. The theme was on God calling Moses to his role in delivering God's people from oppression.

One of the lines from God's Word that really stood out to me was Exodus 3:7, “I know about their sufferings…” In many ways, that's the first step in dealing with people who are suffering under oppression—they need to know that someone at least knows about their predicament. That's the first step to understanding and feeling understood.

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin