Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Oddities of Bloggitying

I started this blog back in Feb. of 2012, when Brenda and I moved to Ostersund, Sweden to live for a semester.  We decided I should write about the events around us, chiefly so we could be reminded of our experiences- hence the name of the blog and the url.

This particular blog allows me to see how many folks have visited the blog each day, and offers a graphic of from where it was viewed.  This is interesting.

I am writing because the viewership has fallen of late.  Back a month ago, over 30 views a day was common giving monthly views of over 1000. The viewers were mostly from USA, but included China, Western Europe including Sweden, Mongolia and Russia, with occasional views from South America. We have friends all those places, and more, so this was not that strange, except maybe for Russia.

On some strange days the viewership would spike up over 100.  Strange. And those spikes have now stopped.

It is amazing how I lose sight of the prize.  I write for us to remember, so why does it matter how many folks view the blog daily.  Rationally it doesn't matter, egotistically it does.

So, if you are a regular reader, thanks muchly.  I appreciate you, and your occasional comments.  Pls be patient.

But I am amazed at how I become competitive with myself.  Why?  What's the point?  There is NO reason, yet I do it again and again.

Thanks be to G^d for His grace and mercy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Day in the Woods

Last week (Week before Thanksgiving) I did something I had not done in over 25 years. I was deer hunting with a friend, who agreed we should hunt all day long... daylight to dark!

This is a long time in the deer stand, but in my old age, it is not has long as it used to be. Indeed the day went by surprisingly fast. First the pre-sunrise beauty of the sky lit by the coming sun.  then, the glory of the sunrise, seen almost exclusively with those whose work requires them to be early to work and work in a place that can see the sun.  Get up early over the next few weeks and see what I saw.

The area was rich with squirrels and chipmunks.  In deer hunting, you must be alert for the flick of a deer's tail, or the twitch of an ear. So, every squirrel hop, every shake of the tail, draws my attention. The gray squirrels are relatively big and bold.  The tiny chipmunks are maybe a tenth the size, and are very shy.  Squirrels may hop casually here and there, but the chippys run at full speed most of the time.  One chipper had a burrow in front of my stand. Late in the day, he made several trips along a log that led from the scattered acorns to his burrow just beyond the roots of the log.

Surprisingly there weren't that many birds, one here or there.  But there were two birds that I loved to see.  Frist was a small hawk.  It may have been a Ssharpshin, or maybe a Cooper's, but my woods were part of his hunting area, so I saw him a couple of times. Near dark a young turkey gobbler decided to roost in a tall oak in front of my stand. He flew up, moved up the limb a bit and scouted out his surroundings. I was afraid to have a turkey in clear site of me.  If I saw a deer, and moved to get my rifle on it, the turkey would surely spook. So I didn't want to turkey sitting so close.  Fortunately, he was equally unhappy with me, so he flew east and left me alone.  to the east, was his flock mates, and I saw several of them fly up and pick their roost.  I am not sure why, maybe this is typical, but several of the big birds changed roosts a couple of times.

I saw several deer from that stand, and I LOVE seeing deer in the woods, which is why I would spend a day afield.  But there is so much more to see, in a day in the woods.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

On the Road Again

By the time you read this, I will have been to, and returned from, a business trip in Washington DC.  The last time I was here was last June, when I ran into that family from our church.

I am not sure why, but I am not thrilled to be making this trip.  It pays well, and it is challenging, but it is also stressful. My flight will be at 1018 Monday, which means I have to be at the airport a bit early to avoid the morning rush hour.

I will stay in the same hotel as last trip, and my two meetings will be in places I have previously worked. My job will be about one-third as long. It will be stressful anyway, but it is part of the job.

This particular job has been much more stressful than most. It is a contentious job, and my colleague on the other side has been difficult. But it pays well.

I have solicited prayer.  I am praying that G^d will use me to be salt and light for Him. And, that is always true- whether working or vacationing.  L^rd keep us in the center of your will, and use us for Your kingdom.  Amen.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life Review: School and Sacrifice

My four brothers and I did NOT attend the elementary school for which we were zoned.  We went to Canton Elementary instead.

So what?

Well, my mother did NOT drive.  The School bus for Canton Elementary did NOT service our home, because we weren't in the school district.  This meant that our parents had to figure a way to get us to and from school every day.  And, this was more trouble than it might sound.

Regardless, why would our parents do such a thing?  In those days there was NO HOME SCHOOLING, and in our town, there were NO private schools.  So, because our parents wanted us to get the best foundation for education, they did what they could to get us in the best school available, Canton Elementary.

It paid off, I think.  My older brother got a four-year scholarship to the US Naval Academy, as did I. My next brother got a scholarship to a fine private college, Berry College.  My next brother didn't go to college, and my youngest brother went to a couple of colleges before graduating with a teacher's degree.  And that was all from a poor family before student loans were available.

Most of us have graduate degrees, some of us more than one.

Education, is a dangerous thing, as I have written before, but it can also be a very useful thing.

Thanks mom and Dad for making the sacrifice that gave us the foundation of education we needed.  And, thanks to all those teachers a Canton Elem.

If you can read this, thank a teacher, and your parents.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bishop's Law of Minimums

I recently had met up with a colleague, Dr. Wes Fondren, who I dearly love, but had not seen in a long time. He mentioned "Bishop's Law of Minimums", so I thought I should preserve it here.  It is a bit long, but some may find it worth the read.

Everyone follows the Law of Minimums out of necessity.  We cannot put all our energy and effort into low-value mundane tasks, or else there is nothing left for important demanding work.
As a prof, I intentionally follow the Law of Minimums.  I figure every class has at least three major groups:
1)      Those who will learn despite what I might do.
2)      Those who will NOT learn despite what I might do.
3)      Those who do NOT know whether they are in group 1 or 2, and that is where we have to focus most of our efforts.

Group #1 deserves more than minimum attention by merit.  Group 2 gets minimum by their own preference.  Group #3 gets the most attention, because they offer the biggest potential payoff.

University freshmen have figured this out, whether they realize it or not.

When students convince themselves something is WORTH the effort, we get more than minimum effort.

Ways I convince myself of the worth of some material:
Interesting presentations:  novelty, excitement, changing stimuli.  This can be done by:  a) small group tasks perceived as enjoyable, worthy, exciting; b) peer teachers; c) rotating teachers; d) using strategic videos (there are some good ones now).
Maxim:  Maximal learning requires Maximal Engagement.  Students have to be engaged.

But this must be founded upon topics of interest: 
·       Sex
·       Alcohol
·       Wealth
·       Social issues including social media.
(Dr. Fondren has a long student-generated list.)

There must be incentives including:
Rewards (e.g. perfect attendance and a B or better= no Final exam.  That works for me to get students in class).
I have a talk about how to raise your GPA 1.0 requiring NO nights or weekends working.  I can send if interested.
Crucial role of Relationship
As Dr. Fondren can tell you, building RELATIONSHIP with students is crucial to getting them to do what they need to do.  He is an expert at this and can give a lot of good direction.

To Be honest, I don’t know how to resolve this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An Exegetical Question on Evangelism

I was recently in a discussion with a dear Christian friend about evangelism.  I do NOT have the gift of evangelism.I FULLY understand its importance, its necessity, its preeminence in Christianity.  But that last bit, why is evangelism preeminent in the American Christian Church?

In my conversation, I related two passages of Scripture near and dear to my heart.  The first is Luke 10:25-37, and the second is the familiar story in Mark 10 and Luke 18, that we know as "The Rich Young Ruler" story.

The common point in BOTH stories is that the two key players (behind Jesus of course) come to Jesus and ask him pointedly, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Any trained evangelical in the USA would respond to such a question by sharing, "The Four Spiritual Laws (now called KGP - Knowing G^d Personally)", or "The Bridge Illustration", or, "The Roman Road to Salvation". But, take notice, Jesus did NOTHING remotely similar to these.  Instead he asked the lawyer, "What does the Law say?" and when the Lawyer responded with, "Love the L^rd your G^d with all your heart, soul mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus did NOT correct him, but merely responded, "Do this and you will live!".  Odd answer??  No, Jesus is saying that IF you could keep the law, you would inherit eternal life... but an honest and accurate response is, "L^rd keeping the Law is impossible, what's another option?"

When the Rich Young Ruler asked the same question, Jesus said, "Keep the Commandments!".  "All these I have kept from my youth up!", the young man replied.  One more thing you lack, said Jesus, sell all you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me...".  And the young man went away sad, for he had much wealth!

I gave those two stories as evidence that Jesus came to heal the spiritually sick, but those who were "perfect" already had NO need for a Savior.

My Christian buddy responded by summarizing three parables: one about a shepherd who left the 99 sheep to seek the lost sheep, one about the woman who lost 1 of her 10 coins and searched for it, and the last one, The Prodigal Son, where a man had two sons, and lost one temporarily.  My friend's point was that these parables ALL underscore the need for evangelism.  I know those stories, but have a wholly different interpretation.

In my view, the sheep refer to those following Jesus already, the lost coin, could be the same, but the Prodigal Son was a son!!  So, I think these parables all MIGHT speak to our diligence is seeking to rescue someone who is a Believer, but who has wandered from the fold.  Each of these parables seems more closely related to restoration of Christians into fellowship, not evangelism.

So what's your view??

Thursday, November 23, 2017

More Reflections on Luke 15

In the last post, I shared my struggles with the tensions between Evangelicalism and Discipleship. This may be our collective mistakes in attributing more value to those with the gift of evangelism, and less value on people who are gifted differently.  I am pretty confident this is a mistake and contrary to several clear Scriptures.

But looking at the three parables here, the Shepherd's lost sheep, the widow's lost coin, and the Father's prodigal son.  This last parable, it occurred to me many years ago, is badly titled, and this matters because the title takes us in the wrong direction.

So, the context is king, and what is the context that led Jesus to share these three parallel stories.  The Jewish leaders (Pharisees), were criticizing Jesus for eating with, fellow-shipping with sinners. A LOGICAL response would be stories explaining, not the sheep, the coin, the son, but Jesus, the Christ!  That is, Jesus probably would NOT be talking about evangelism, but his own heart.

Sooooo, let's re-read the story, and focus on:  1) The Shepherd, 2) The widow, and 3) The Prodigal's father.  What do we see?  NOT the lost sheep, coin, son, which may be Believers, but on Jesus.  Jesus who seeks the lost, Jesus who was "about His father's business", day and night, and Jesus who "killed the fatted calf" over one sinner who repents.  That sinner may be a Believer who repents, or a Poor Lost Soul, who repents of his sin, and accepts the Christ for the FIRST time.

So, in my view, the KEY story of Luke 15 is The Christ, his love and forgiveness for ALL- the Christian and the non-Christian alike.

What say ye?