Friday, October 30, 2015

Is Jehovah Cruel?

One of the more sophomoric arguments against the G^d of the Old Testament is that He was cruel.  A common example is that he commands the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites.  An example, closer to home, are the death penalties for things that we would think to be minor infractions such as disrespect for parents.

How could anyone love a G^d who is so mean?

This raises a response questions.  So what is your standard for G^d and, "sez who"?

If G^d doesn't exist, you have no one to critique.  If G^d does exist, who are YOU to question Him?

But I wouldn't really LIKE a god who didn't meet MY expectations!!

What?  Hmm, your concept of god seems a bit limited if G^d must meet your requirements.

A second response relates to time.  We humans are LOCKED into time.  We cannot escape.  We cannot conceive of eternity, or of a G^d who is pre-existent, not created, and operating beyond time and space.  We just have insufficient mental capacity.

And that should be no surprise.

From G^d's perspective, possibly, who doubtlessly can see the future quite clearly, does it matter if a human dies in sin this year or next year?  In a day as a thousand years to G^d?  If you divide two years by infinity  it equals 0.  If you divide 40 years by infinity  it equals 0.  If you divide a hundred years by infinity  it still equals 0.

Well, it doesn't matter to ME, but how about to the created pots?  O yeah, G^d created mankind and each individual- as He wished and for His purposes -which purposes might NOT be to make us comfortable.

G^d isn't cruel - but He is G^d!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's Really Important?

What's Really Important?

That's a dumb question!  All kinds of stuff!  I have bills to pay, places to go, people to see... all sorts of really, really important stuff!

As I sit here typing this, the lawn in front of our building is sprouting tents like crazy.  Across the street the quadrangle is FULL of tents and coolers and all sorts of stuff and the football game is still over 36 hours away.  People will spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on what?  a football game?

We Americans seem to have a hard time determining what is really important, and what is NOT important.  We abort babies, we take drugs, we neglect our children, we waste our time and money, but we get all excited about the Khardashians and Kanye.


Are we whack?  How do YOU explain this unusual prioritization?

Here's a hypothesis:  We are either crazy, or there is a force in this world that makes us whack.  if we are crazy, then why can we stop for a moment and recognize our own craziness?  That leaves only a force in this world.  Some might call that force Satan.

Odd hypothesis eh?  I think so too, but it's the only logical explanation I can discern.

So what's your hypothesis?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Too Good NOT to Share

I stumbled across something that is too good NOT to share.  A young parent was concerned because passersby were always complimenting his young daughter on her beauty.  As mighty be expected, after hearing this for some time, the young girl not only believed it but unabashedly let it swell her pride. 

Yes, we can do that, but even I am shocked that it can happen in a youngster under 5 years of age.  But the parent asked for some guidance on how to deal with this pride-in-her-beauty challenge.  The grandmom wrote the following.

“I am still thinking of our conversation last night.  What a wonderful little lady you have been trusted with to raise and what an excellent job you are doing.

One thing for sure, she is a beauty and G^d made her that way.  It is always important for her to know that her father thinks she is a beauty.  As she grows up, she will be drawn to guys that admire her and we would want her to be drawn to someone wonderful like you :).

G^d has given her such wonderful qualities and, like it or not, people are drawn to pretty people. They seek them out to talk with them. Folks are always going to be drawn to her so G^d can use her beauty to reflect Himself.

I think if you can get her to focus on those around her, helping, caring, serving, encouraging, sharing, etc.  she will not be thinking so much about appearance.  She is a delightful little girl and I'm not just saying that because she is my granddaughter.

There are so many things in which to encourage kids.  She is still quite young.  At this age you might write all these things down that she is saying because in a few years you will most likely be laughing about them. She is wonderful and she has two wonderful parents who love her. You are both doing a great job. I know it is hard not to be critiquing your own parenting but look at the amazing children that you have raised so far.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  You are doing far better than I did as a parent.

G^d picked out exactly the parents for the kids that could do the best job for them.”

Pretty good observations and advice, eh?  Now I need to go and apply these principles!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Now That's Professionalism!

Remember the pilot who did such a great job after that bird strike over the Hudson River?  Capt. Sullenberger did a super job landing US Airways flight 1549 under extremely challenging conditions.  Professionalism!

Tonight's news (9-9-2015) related a story of a British Air fire on the Las Vegas runaway.  An engine failed and burst into flames as the big aircraft was attempting to take off.  What some might NOT realize is that wing, under which the fiery engine was burning, was full of jet fuel.

The TV featured the pilot's call of a Fire Emergency.  He as totally calm and professional, and did just the right thing.  Once agian, Professionalism.

I was fortunate to train as a Naval Flight Officer with the US Navy.  I then flew in VQ4, amassing some 2500 flight hours in a single 3-year tour.  That's a lot of air time.

But the Navy, and all military aviation, put enormous emphasis on safety.  We trained, and trained, and worked on safety. Aviation uses checklists, because no one wants to trust memory in the midst of a life-threatening emergency. Each month we issued a summary of accidents, and near-accidents to make sure the same mistakes weren't repeated.

A pilot would quiz a pilot-in-training with question after question.  What would you do if...?  How about if this happened...?

There is a lot is danger in launching a big aircraft full of people into the air.  We take for granted that it is a safe enterprise, and we calmly board planes all the time.  We assume safety because most aircarft accidents make sthe news.  But it is rare enough to be newsworthy.

They anticipate, plan, practice, and practice some more.

Now that's professionalism.  And it makes me proud.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Death… And other topics

Written 21 July 2015

My second youngest brother, Danny Michael bishop, died this past week at age 59.  He will be buried tomorrow at the National Veteran’s cemetery in our home town of Canton, GA.

Most readers know that I think about this subject, death, quite a bit.  At my age, it is something that comes up with some regularity.  Most months, someone I know passes on from this world to the next. My Dad died in ’97, my Mom in 03, and now one of my brothers.

It is good, and wise, to consider ofen one’s mortality.  No one gets out of life alive, as the saying goes.

So, I pause again to reflect.  My brother Danny, was a likeable guy.  He was a highly skilled carpenter.  He was gifted.  In his latter days, he was a bit of a recluse living in his small house on the hill above his 6 acres of rolling Virginia terrain.

There is nothing, really nothing, wrong with solitude.  I enjoy a bit of it myself every deer season. I want to learn from Danny.  I want to invest my time, my resources, my life in something bigger than houses, money, vacations.  I want to invest in eternity.  I want to impact the world for the L^rd Jesus Christ. I want to follow, follow closely, the Christ.

I have no idea when or how this earthly life will end.  Life ends abruptly, or slowly, but should NEVER end surprisingly.  We will die… we all surely will.

In what will you invest yours?

Friday, October 16, 2015

There Ought to be a Law!-- NOT!

As I watch the various rantings on the minimum wage- when imposed, how high - it strikes me as a bit odd.  I just saw a NY Times headline arguing that free-lance workers should have employer-sponsored unemployment and health benefits the same as for those receiving a fixed wage.

To be fair, the author begins by saying that freelancers report to no boss, have no fixed hours, take off hours and days whenever they choose.  But the resulting irregular wages should be taken care of by some new government program.  Also some government law should also take care of the fact that free lancers get stiffed from time to time.

I understand their concerns.  In addition to my paid wages, I, on occasion, earn some money in freelance writing and consulting.  for those gigs, I have to withhold enough taxes to cover the state, federal and social security demands.  I figure all self-employed people retain about 50-60 cents on the dollar.  (15%+5% +15% +no medical subsidy).  And, the work is NOT steady in the least.  It's pretty much feast or famine - but I also have a wage job, so the freelancing for me is more of a lucrative hobby than a living.  So, of course there is no pressure, unlike those making their entire living on freelance money.  I work for other professionals sometimes, and I am always a bit concerned that they will pay me, and pay me on time. I have a contract that calls for my pay to be provided within 30 days of billing.  I time my bills recently so that my final signed work wouldn't be sent until I had the bulk of my pay.  I trust people, I just try to hold them accountable.  And remember, my gigs are "extra" income, not primary.

So, perhaps I am not as sympathetic as I ought to be, but the NY Times piece reminds me, that we ought NOT rely on the government to resolve all our problems.  Freelance work has unlimited pay and great freedom, but it also has some drawbacks.  I do NOT want every tiny aspect of my life regulated by "Big Brother".  Already too much is regulated in too many ways in my view.  Our  healthcare, fluoridated water, and infant car seats are already tightly supervised.  Do we really want the government to regulate a lot more?

I have worked for various entities.  The Federal Government is by far the MOST wasteful, the least fiscally efficient, the most wasteful employer I have ever seen anywhere, anytime.  I think that is because Fed money is "Someone else's money" and because taxes and fees can always be raised to make up for these inefficiencies.

You may recall my election motto:  "Don't re-elect anybody!"  or the parallel, "Never vote for the incumbent - regardless."

My newer one, derived from our history, "He who governs least governs best!"  Whereas this may not be true in the extreme, we seem to not notice, that the government, and it's power, grows steadily.

Come quickly L^rd!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Upside Down

Early in the Creation story of Genesis we find that G^d as Supreme Creator creates man in their (plural) image.  Man is to lead and protect woman, and they are to have dominion over the animal kingdom.

Pastor Eric Mason points out that in the fall (Gen 3) things are turned upside down.  Satan, in the form of an animal (serpent) tempts Eve, who in turn shares with Adam, all the while ignoring G^d's Divine Commandment.   It is exactly upside down from G^d's design.

I never thought of that.  did you?

The point is that G^d has created a world with order and with hierarchy. When we confuse the hierarchy, we mes up everything!  When we sin we put our own will for us above G^d's will for us.  We turn things upside down- and we again pay the consequences of our bad decisions.  G6d paid the ultimate price for us int he sacrifice of Jesus - but we still will reap what we sow, even when we desperately pray for crop failure.

Le me, and all of us, strive to keep things turned right-side up.

Amen- L^rd make it so!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Manhood - Not a Goal of Mine...Yes, and HOLD your Snide Comments

I am currently reading a book called "Manhood Restored" by a pastor, Eric Mason. It is not very well written, for which I blame his editor.  But, as I have read the book it has occurred to me, that manhood is not a goal of mine, and I don't recall it ever being a goal.

Pastor Mason's premise is that many of us men are "daddy deprived", and that along with culture and circumstance has made us less manly than we ought to be.  In fact, this premise and this book are foundational to a Sunday School class I and two others are teaching for men in our congregation this semester.

As I have readt his book, I have come to the conclusion that I have NO interest in striving for manhood.

"Good thing!" some of my critics might offer.

No, I care little for manhood, but before you make a smartalec comment, let me add, I do strive to follow Jesus, The Christ.  As my grandad used to say, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14)

Yep, I don't think G^d is going to welcome any man into heaven with a statement, "Good manhood there my boy!"  I think my goal is "Well done my good and faithful servant!" (Matt 25:21)  And, more importantly I think we best achieve this by striving to be more like The Christ, with little regard for manhood, citizenship, achievement, or success.  Jesus was an extraordinary man, who did extraordinary things.  He prayed, obeyed G^d, served others, was willing to give up his life for our sake.  That's pretty manyly - and it's what I want to emulate.

Ok good men, go and do likewise!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Hypothesis: Individuality

I am fairly certain that in my posts over these last 3.5 years, I have mentioned the individual differences I have seen in human physiology.  This has led me to a conclusion, that could be important.

Conclusion:  People are so different that every health intervention works for somebody, NO health intervention works for everybody.

So, what?

What is that the way we practice medicine and health, in general, is simplistic and pretty often WRONG.


As a scientist, I am compelled by scientific convention to report my results in terms of "group means" or "treatment means".  Which is to say we talk about average responses.  In about 2001, it struck me that "average" applies to very few people, and NO athletes.  Consequently, in our research reports on athletes since 2003, we have reported individual results.  This is in addition to treatment averages, because those, as I said, are mandatory.  In fact, to do this, I had to invent a statistical approach that uses the group standard deviation (variability) to determine who is far enough from the average to be considered a "responder" or a "non-responder".

I am quite aware that the "mean" characteristic is most common in the population, but the mean may end up describing only a small sample when it comes to the complexity of human physiology.

So, two people with the same symptoms of an illness go to the doctor.  The M.D. scarcely knows them, but she/he knows the symptoms, and on average, this looks like the flu.  The M.D. quickly writes a prescription, which the pharmacist fills.  One patient responds quickly and very well to the medication.  The other doesn't improve at all.


Because it may be:
  1. Two totally different causes precipitate almost the same symptoms in two different patients. OR
  2.  The drug does nothing, or worse, does damage in this patient or disease. OR
  3. This patient's physiological nuances are such that the drug does nothing, or does damage.  OR
  4. The combination of #1, #2 and #3 explain the differences.
Likewise, two people go on a diet, two people start and exercise routine, two people face the same stressors...

For centuries now we have assumed that all of us are pretty similar and that most of us are pretty close to average.  The normal distribution on any particular measure of humans suggests that we are more like the "average" than like anything else.  But, a lot of very small differences can really add up to something big.

Maybe always focusing on the "mean" response or characteristic isn't such a good idea.  Maybe individuality is more the rule.  Maybe G^d is Big enough and Creative enough, that we all are indeed, individuals.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Love... it's All You Need, if You Recognize it When You See It

One of my good buddies, Craig Vail wrote this post.  It was so good, I wanted you to get to read it. Here's what he wrote:

Most of the dysfunction in my life and in the world as I see it stems from this one quest, "The desire to be loved"....The desire for interaction, the desire for community. We are created to be relational beings.

When the serpent beguiled Eve, what really happened? Didn't the serpent cause her to question God's Love for her? Wasn't the seed of doubt he planted, about being loved? Wasn't it God is holding something "Good" back from her? So Eve turned to the one dark place she couldn't afford to go to find the answer; the place where innocence will always be destroyed...her carnal mind. The rest is history as they say. We all follow suit, and no one has to teach us either.:)

Every insecurity (destroyed innocence) I have developed over my life span, has grown, or been destroyed, based on this relational premise,"Our perception's of how we are Loved will always be connected to our emotional wellness or lack thereof."

The problem with being human and having insecurities, baggage, and faulty thinking is that we really don't always recognize healthy Love when we experience it. And our ability to give healthy love is always in question because of these same reasons.

By observation of innocence, nature, and children we can learn a lot about our own needs. If a Down Syndrome child will live longer and healthier in a environment of Love, security and social engagement...Why not us adults?

Psalms 103:14...For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Blessings this fine day, friends...        Craig Vail

Thanks Craig!

Monday, October 5, 2015


Over these many years we have birthed 5, count them, 5 children.  All are now grown and on their own.  All seem to be doing well.

If you are a parent, you know that this is much cause for rejoicing.  Parenting is a tough row to hoe!  Christian author James Dobson wrote a book, "Parenting isn't for Cowards".  I never read the book, but do agree with the title.

As I have mentioned herein before, whenever I learn of a new parent, I encourage them to memorize Psalm 127.  It tells us that we have little to do with how our kids turn out!  It reminds us that children are a blessing- something that can be easily overlooked in the midst of temper tantrums.

Parenting is not innate.  I think we can learn some good parenting ideas from good parents around us.  G^d gives us some instruction in Scripture, though not as much, nor as specific as I would like.  I'm sure there is a reason for the paucity and generality of this advice, and one day I'll understand.

So, let me offer a word of encouragement to all parents.  Hang in there.  Do your best, and leave it in G^d's hands.

Remember, "Children are a gift of the L^rd, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

Friday, October 2, 2015

You Favor Gun Control? So You're a Prohibitionist eh?

My son Andrew made an interesting observation about deaths in the USA.  He noted that deaths from alcohol substantially outnumber deaths from firearms.

“Interesting point.” I said.  I began to investigate, and this is what I found:

"Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death. This dangerous behavior accounted for approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006–2010, and accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20–64 years. Excessive alcohol use shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years."

"Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control has data.

(We won't even mention the 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke) from smoking ( and the quarter million people who die annually from smokeless tobacco.)

250,000 people die each year from using smokeless tobacco, researchers at the University of York have concluded - See more at:
Although auto deaths roughly equal firearm deaths, we would NOT argue against the use of cars because automobile travel is highly utilitarian, whereas firearms use is NOT utilitarian. Firearms possession is mostly for hobby, hunting or self defense- hardly necessities.

Fair enough, but what about alcohol?  Is alcohol use utilitarian or mostly  recreational- not really very much different from firearms ownership?

Sooo, it looks like to me that all of those interested in protecting American lives from guns, ought FIRST to protect lives from alcohol.

But most alcohol death is self-inflicted, whereas most gun deaths are… wait a lot of those are self-inflicted too.  Guns kill others…but so do DUI drivers.

OK, when does the big PROHIBITION of alcohol campaign begin??