Monday, June 24, 2019

Making a unique contribution

Sometimes we end up with things on our To Do list that really should be on a To Don't list, especially for handling requests from other people.

Adam Grant has come up with a way to identify which items belong on which list. He simply decides if something is a way in which he can make a “unique contribution” or not. If it is, great. If not, “Sorry, but this is not in my wheelhouse.” For him, he feels he can make a unique contribution in directing researchers to relevant work and psychology studies.

I find this helpful. I also have some work to do in this department. I've done a variety of things over the years, and there are parts of them I can do well and enjoy, but are they really in my wheelhouse?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Determined to Rejoice

"My heart is fixed, O God" (Ps. lvii. 7).

We do not always feel joyful, but we are always to count it joy.

This word reckon is one of the keywords of Scripture. It is the same word used about our being dead. We are painfully conscious of something which would gladly return to life.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Constellations

In the spring of this year, I started noting which constellations are visible in a particular hemisphere for a particular season.

Northern hemisphere constellations visible during the summer include: Aquila, Cygnus, Hercules, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, and Scorpius.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Begin Teaching Doctrine Early

I know that some people will say that such doctrine is too deep for boys and girls. Paul Rader had an educator visit the Tabernacle, offering her the opportunity to survey our boys' work and give her opinion of the way we worked with the boys.

Her report was something like this, “Well, you certainly do a lot of things wrong. I observed a boy sixteen years old teaching some twelve-year-old boys. He was actually teaching them doctrine. At their age, they should be told stories. And yet,” she mused, “the boys were giving perfect attention and seemed interested. That I couldn’t understand.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Security vs. Curiosity

Our paranoid world does not reward curiosity. There's a saying commonly promoted: “If you see something, say something.” In practice, the rest of that line can end up as, “…so we can think it's you.” Don't get too curious about how security systems work. Too many questions are unusual and make you a target.

On the flip side, it's nice to be thought of as a responsible one, but don't expect someone to be responsible if you're going to be hostile to their efforts to ensure security if those efforts may exceed yours.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Gold-miner's compliment

Mark Twain once told the story of a 42-year-old gold-miner who was designated to introduce him for a lecture in a log school-house. The miner objected, saying:

“I don't know anything about this man. Anyhow, I only know two things about him. One is, he has never been in jail, and the other is, I don't know why.”

Monday, June 17, 2019

Energy Drinks vs National Security

The US military has even warned against troops consuming too many energy drinks since doing so has been associated with sleep disruption, leading to periods of fatigue during briefings or on guard duty.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

3 times in 84 years

A little nine-year-old boy approached me at Camp Awana one day. He was the he was only the third person in my 84 years, and 63 years as a Christian, to ask me if I was saved. I assured him that I was.

He then ventured, “Doc, I was saved a week ago last Monday. My, it’s wonderful to be saved. And to think that I’m going to walk the street golden streets. And I’m going to see Jesus face to face. I can hardly wait to see him.”

He had the right idea.
Source: Breese, DaveLance, A Testament of Grace, 1978. pp. 212.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Speaking Openly

Jesus said, “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” (John 18:20).

Sometimes I wonder how far this goes. Does this mean we should never speak in secret? Is this limited to teaching?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Following Jesus

In keeping with the evangelism messaging theme this week, today I want to look at another way we describe being a Christian: being a “follower of Jesus.”

I have nothing against following Jesus and becoming more like Him. That, however, is not what makes someone a Christian. Followers of Islam say they follow Jesus, too.

The question is not, Who do you follow?

The question is, Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cold War Memories

June 12 is a date with a few layers of significance for me.

On this date, in
1918, my grandfather, Ralph E. Hansen was born.
1924, President George H.W. Bush was born.
1987, President Ronald W. Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” speaking of the Berlin Wall.

For some of us these people are history; for others they are memories. I recently heard the claim that those born after 1980 have no personal memories of the Cold War. I was born in 1977, and I remember things about the Cold War from the 1980s.

In my family, a couple of us kids were born before 1980 and a couple after, so I had a ready sample to test this hypothesis. I asked my brother born in 1984 if he has any memories of the Cold War, and he does not. Just as I did last 9/11, it seems appropriate to share, and record for posterity, my memories of the Cold War.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Separation from God

This week I'm taking a closer look at some of the things we say when presenting the Gospel to others. Yesterday it was “changed lives,” and today it's “separation from God.” Yesterday was about what happens if you trust Jesus; today is about what happens if you don't.

“Fire and brimstone” have fallen out of favor as ways of presenting the consequences of not being a Christian, of rejecting God's loving gift of His Son. (The most recent popular use of the word “brimstone” I remember is from Shrek, and it was in a much-diminished sense of the term.) Despite being in older translations of the Bible and having been a significant part of spiritual renewal in the past, few church leaders today mention, much less dwell on, the the severity of God. We prefer His goodness instead. The Bible speaks of both “the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22).

As heard from Bible-teaching, Gospel-preaching churches and pastors, the consequences of not trusting in Jesus are usually described as a person being “separated from God.” This is true: “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). This is also not a complete or vivid description of the full eternal consequences of not trusting in Jesus as your Savior.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Changed Lives

This week I want to take a closer look at a couple evangelistic invitations that have become popular in the evangelical Church today. The first is “changed lives.” It may go something like, “Come to Jesus, and He'll change your life.”

For some people, a changed life would be a good and welcome thing. They have lots of problems, may feel the weight of their sin, and so putting their trust in Christ and having the Lord fix their mess would bring much relief. I have no complaints about appealing to needs people feel in this way.

For other people, they may see no need for change in their life at all. They may be quite well-to-do, have learned self-reliance, have been successful, have means, and have much this world has to offer. For them, they may see a “changed life” as a lateral move at best. Where's the upside for them?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

10 times Jesus asked about desires

“Why did you seek Me?” (Luke 2:49context) — Jesus first recorded question

“What do you seek?” (John 1:38context) — Jesus first ministry question

“Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6context)

“What did you go out to see?” (Luke 7:24-26; Mathew 11:7-9; context)

“Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67; context)

“Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:19; context)

“What do you want Me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:21; Mark 10:36context)

“What do you want Me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41context)

“Whom are you seeking?” (John 18:4,7; context) — to Judas' detachment

“Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15; context) — to Mary

Friday, June 7, 2019

Simple and Tender

I love Lew Wallace's description of the shepherds that were keeping watch over their flocks by night:
Such were the shepherds of Judea! In appearance, rough and savage as the gaunt dogs sitting with them around the blaze; in fact, simple-minded, tender-hearted; effects due, in part, to the primitive life they led, but chiefly to their constant care of things lovable and helpless.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Flow

I had a chance to talk to a young man today, and he admitted he had made some unwise choices in recent years. He said while he can't go back and undo those choices, he wanted to get back on track and “go with the flow.”

I told him, “Don't go with the flow. That's the way of destruction.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Challenging Question

Dave Breese asked a question for the ages: “Are we presenting to our young people, in the name of Jesus Christ, a clear purpose worth living for?” The question implies a need for a clear purpose, and I wholeheartedly agree there is a need.

Young people have unique additional needs beyond the same needs as everyone else. They must learn how to manage their needs and desires. We provide a lot for young people, as they cannot provide for themselves, yet we also require them to learn how to provide for themselves and others, too. How they do that, that is, learning who they are, who they will become, what they will do for a living, and what they will do for eternity is their great challenge to explore. Uncle Dave called this discovering your destiny.

To the extent that we can help them on that journey, let's help meet that need and present a clear purpose for them in Jesus Christ. Next step: How do we present to our young people a clear purpose in Jesus Christ? There are several things to know:

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Billionaires vs. Death

Tech billionaires apparently want to live forever. They're trying to do so in several ways.

1) Cure for ageing
2) Computer chip in your brain
3) Apocalypse insurance
4) 'Young blood' transfusions
5) Digital consciousness

The question is: Why would you want to, at least in this world? I know the climate folks talk about how this planet is the only livable one we have, and I'm sure folks could easily say, this life is the only one we have to live.

Except it's not.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Party!

Everyone likes to have a good time. Add food and/or music to an informal gathering of people, maybe some friendly competition, and you've set the stage for a memorable event.

When I was in college I got to know a guy who had been known in high school as someone who could easily gather people together for a good time. He told us his friends back home used to say, “If you want to throw a party, just buy Pepsi, order pizza, and invite Micah.” It helped to have a large apartment off campus to accommodate those gatherings.

There are lots of parties in the Bible, too. When God originally created man, he placed him in the Garden of Pleasure. Much of the Old Testament Law was for the purpose of describing how to celebrate the accomplishments of God among his people. The New Testament describes these celebrations as shadows of things still to come. God is a good God, and He gives us much to celebrate and ways in which to celebrate His love for us.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Servant Delighted

Christ took upon Him the form of a servant, gave up His independence, His right to please Himself, His liberty of choice, and after having from eternal ages known only to command, gave Himself up only to obey.

I have seen occasionally the man who was once a wealthy employer a clerk in the same store. It was not an easy or graceful position, I assure you.

But Jesus was such a perfect servant that His Father said: “Behold, My Servant in whom My soul delighteth.” All His life His watchword was, “The Son of Man came to minister.” “I am among you as He that doth serve.” “I can do nothing of Myself.” “Not My will, but Thine, be done.”

Friday, May 31, 2019

Character

There are certain character traits I have come to appreciate in a person.

1. Passion. I get along best with those who deeply believe in something and know how to energetically share it with others. Even if we don't agree on everything, at least we can have in common a similar level of enthusiasm. My mother often called this animo.

2. Transparency. Sometimes people don't like to be too direct for fear of hurting someone. For some of us, opaque indirectness can actually hurt worse. What you see is what you get is helpful when it come to people, too. I'm not always very good at picking up on cues, and sometimes I just need things spelled out.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What child care can teach education

The Proverbs 31 Woman and the 1950s Woman are not mirror images of one another. In the classic presentation of the 1950s, the woman was the housewife and the husband was the breadwinner. The Proverbs 31 Woman is active in the home and in the marketplace.

In post-World War II America, women have become well-established in the marketplace. This trend has continued to the point that outsourcing part of early childhood parenting has not only become a viable business opportunity, but is now a growth industry.

With the President's daughter talking about the child care issue, Republicans are raising the issue and looking at ways to address the issue from a policy standpoint while still adhering to conservative principles. Whatever happens in Congress, demand shows no signs of slowing down or abating any time soon.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

One third complete

Today, I'm 15,333 days old, and that means I'm one third of the way through 1,000 days of writing.

I've found that this commitment has pushed me from social media, back to blogging. Twitter is still a useful outlet, and sometimes my writing here doesn't merit more than a Tweet. Nonetheless, it's useful in this format, too. One thing that you can do on blogging that you can't on social media is add hyperlinks to text. Yes, social media obviously handles links, but not directly from text of my choosing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Netflix vs. Pro-Life Movement

Netflix has announced it is working with the ACLU to overturn Georgia's heartbeat bill, the law that bans abortion of an unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected.

Netflix is working directly against the pro-life movement.

If you're pro-life and a Netflix subscriber, please know your subscription fees are working directly against your principles. I recommend canceling your subscription.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Destroyers for Bases

The Second World War changed everything. The United States was attacked by an increasingly militaristic Japan after Washington imposed economic sanctions on Tokyo that would have brought the country to its knees. The Americans came out swinging. They projected their now vast power around the world, and in order to keep things that way, this time they didn't go home.

As the world's greatest economic and military postwar power, America now needed to control the world's sea-lanes, to keep the peace, and get the goods to market. They were “the last man standing.”

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Grasping too strongly

Often we want people to pray for us and help us, but always defeat our object when we look too much to them and lean upon them. The true secret of union is for both to look upon God, and in the act of looking past themselves to Him they are unconsciously united.

The sailor was right when he saw the little boy fall overboard and waited a minute before he plunged to his rescue.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Tech News

NASA’s first-of-kind tests look to manage drones in cities
NASA has launched the final stage of a four-year effort to develop a national traffic management system for drones, testing them in cities for the first time beyond the operator’s line of sight as businesses look in the future to unleash the unmanned devices in droves above busy streets and buildings.

Contemporary internet shopping conjures a perfect storm of choice anxiety. Research has consistently held that people who are presented with a few options make better, easier decisions than those presented with many. It has also shown that having many options is particularly confounding when the information available on them is limited or confusing.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Universal Basic Income is a shortcut to hyperinflation

As more job skills are transferred to technology and parts of jobs in part or in whole get taken over by technology, some have pondered how those without high-level skills will make a living.

Some have suggested universal basic income as an option: regular money from the government to the citizens on a regular basis.

Let's think about what would happen with this.

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.

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