Monday, January 30, 2017

Working in the dirt

Early on Christmas Eve I set about the task of putting 85 larirope (monkey-grass) plants into the ground at the Northport house. I had tons of it at the old Bellwood home, and I love it.  It has lots of qualities that appeal to me:

  • It's very hardy- lives through challenges like drought,
  • It handles deprivation well- it needs very little light,
  • It is relatively inexpensive as nursery plants go- good value for money,
  • It is an appealing appearance,
  • but MOSTLY, it saves me work by forming a lovely border that does NOT require continual edging!

It was this last quality that motivated me most.

It was a LOT of work, setting all these out, plus, I ran out of the commercial ones before I ran out of places I wanted to put them, so I transplanted some plants from a patch of them already growing in a corner of the yard.

At the end of the day, despite help from my son, Andrew, I was tired!!  But, it was a good tired.  It was the tired that comes from working hard physically, and at the end of the tired, I could look back and see that I had accomplished something.  Actually I had invested in something.  I had put $$$ and labor, and was expecting a return on my investment.

There's nothing like planting something and looking forward to the harvest- or in my case, the landscaping improvement.

Jesus talked a lot about this general topic- the lilies of the field, the seed on stony ground, the vineyard, the vine and the pruning of it, and lots more.  Of course, Jesus was speaking to a population with an agricultural economy.  But Jesus was also speaking to us.  The harvest will come.  We are every day planting seeds-  some for good, some for ill.

And, one day, one day soon I think, we shall reap a harvest!  For some it will be a joyous day, for others, not so much.

How about you, what are you sowing?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson Posits G^d- Really, he did!

Here is an excerpt from a YAHOO story on 24 Dec 2016.

"We haven't been able to figure out how to simulate a universe — yet. But it's not too hard to imagine that some other creature out there is far smarter than us.

Tyson points out that we humans have always defined ourselves as the smartest beings alive, orders of magnitude more intelligent than species like chimpanzees that share close to 99% of our DNA. We can create symphonies and do trigonometry and astrophysics — some of us, anyway.
But Tyson uses a thought experiment to imagine a life-form that's as much smarter than us as we are than dogs, chimps, or other terrestrial mammals.
"What would we look like to them? We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence," he says.
Whatever that being is, it very well might be able to create a simulation of a universe.
'And if that's the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just the creation of some other entity for their entertainment,' Tyson says. 'I'm saying, the day we learn that it is true, I will be the only one in the room saying, 'I'm not surprised.'
And maybe that means there's some chance of doing a reset at some point."

I have some good news for the atheist Dr. Tyson.  YES!  There is indeed a Being that is, "a life-form that's as much smarter than us as we are than dogs, chimps, or other terrestrial mammals."
His name is Jehovah!   I am not sure you would call our earthly dwelling a "simulation", but I am sure you can call it temporary and a preparation for the REAL Thing.
Yes, Dr. Tyson, I can imagine that G^d exists.  In fact I am sure of it!
The article also says this, "But most physicists and philosophers agree that it's impossible to prove definitively that we don't live in a simulation and that the universe is real."
Yep, it's called "faith" and indeed is inevitable.  A relationship with the G^d who created the universe is possible by faith.
Check it out!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Denying Science -- by a Scientist!

Yes, folks, I need to come out and admit it- I am a science denier!

And, I might add, any intelligent scientist is ALSO a science denier.  It's virtually impossible to be a scientist without being a science denier!

Let me explain. As I have stated before, in any good science there is controversy.  And, in all science there are mistakes, misunderstandings, and even fraud.  YES- there is a lot of money in scientific research, and it doesn't take very much money at all to precipitate fraud.

Wait you say, scientists don't deny science!  YEs they do.  I just read that a paper was withdrawn from a journal because the data were discovered to be too good to be true-- really- they were too good to be true, and they weren't true they were fabricated!

But, you say, you are misusing the term "science denier" too broadly.


So what's your definition?  Are you suggesting that anyone who questions global man-influenced climate change is a science denier?  Really? Do you really think that there is NO evidence against climate change?  Really?  And your scientific basis for your faith in human-influenced climate change is what?  Your evidence is that a lot of folks- who happen to make a lot money from climate change- say that it is real. Think back there are plenty of scientific theories that are eventually shown to be wrong.  It's no big deal.

Perhaps people who doubt man-made climate change are correct. Maybe they are wrong, but scientists are quick to point out that science gets corrected all the time.

Think about that.

If science gets corrected, then at some point it was wrong.  If you deny wrong science doesn't that make you a CORRECT thinker, not a science denier.  Think about it.

No one is saying that large chunks of science are wrong.  Newton's laws are always... wait- Newton's laws are actually wrong on a sub-atomic scale.  Well, some other vague parts of science are always correct.  Take nutrition science for example.  Remember eat margarine- not butter- no wwait, I mean eat butter, not margarine.

Well let's stop talking about science and let's make up some more derisive names to call those who disagree with us on some point.

No really.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jesus and the Mundane

Jesus is G^d, and when he was on earth, was the smartest man who ever lived.  He was the greatest speaker/teacher, the greatest physician, the Greatest Savior.  When he says something that seems a bit odd, pay attention!!

Here's an example.' Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “[d]Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”


What is astounding is that this is Jesus' perfect response to the question, (vs 10) what shall we do (to follow G^d)?  

What COULD Jesus have said?  He could have said:
1) "Sell all you have a give it to the poor, and come follow me!"
2) "Keep the Commandments!"
3) "Love the L^rd your G^d, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!"

And lots more that, many of you noted, which He did say on other occasions.
At least one of Jesus' points is that we ought to do EVERYTHING as an honor to the L^rd G^d- nothing is mundane if it is done to honor G^d.  Another potential point is that there is NOTHING really mundane.  Our every activity is either done in worship of G^d or for some MUCH lesser reason.
Do GOOD in the name of Jesus!  It isn't rocket science, but given our fallen nature, it's still very challenging.
Now get out there and do GOOD in the name of Christ!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bible Translators Beware

Get ready for a theory about Bible Translation from a person who has NO knowledge of Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew.


Here 'tis.  It is my theory that Bible translators will CHANGE a word that they don't "think" fits the text.  That's it.

So what?

Consider this.  In Matthew 6:27, "27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] "  YOu may be asking, what about that footnote, "g"?  The footnote says this, "Matthew 6:27 Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters".

Now, from a totally ignorant me, BOTH of these translation are wrong.  The original text most clearly says, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit (unit of material length) to his life span?"

You may be saying, that original text is using a material length unit to describe a unit of time (life length).  Clearly either it was talking about height or about life span, but the units surely matched the noun.


How about the book of Jude, v 5?  "Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe."   Early manuscripts said Jesus.  But surely the best translation is "Lord" not "Jesus" in reference to the Exodus of the Jews!


Take a look at vs. 25, "25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and [t]forever."


Jesus IS the Savior, not God, and Jesus acted through the Lord God, not God acting through Jesus, right?  Nope!

Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, was deliberately making a point, as was Jesus in Matt 5.  Jude's point was the Trinitarian nature of Jehovah- Father, Son, Holy Spirit which are 3 persons rolled into one G^d!  Jude was making that point in saying that JESUS was there leading the Exodus as part of the Trinity.  

Jesus was, in my view, deliberately using "inappropriate" units to get the listener's attention. As I have blogged before, it was a verbal gag that likely elicited some good smiles.

Here's the point.  When reading Scripture, when you come across something odd, pay close attention- G^d might be simply making a point.

But that's just ONE uniformed view.  Think about it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Glory Revealed!

By now, the autumn season may be forgotten.  As I write this the leaves are beautiful. I am surprised by the color, because this has been a extremely DRY fall, which often makes the leaves turn brown early and fall off.  Instead for about the last 5 weeks there has been at least some beautiful leaves.  I do suspect that at this point, the Friday after Thanksgiving, the end of the color is near, especially up in VA.

I am not sure how well known it is, but the leave colors are there all year long.  The bright yellows, red, golds are there from the time the leaf unfurls.  The chlorophyll simply obscures the brilliant colors.

We are kinda like the leaves.  We were originally created beautiful, like the leaves, in G^d's image.  However that beauty is sometimes, maybe often, concealed.  We conceal our G^d-endowed beauty be sin, by our very falleness.  Sad isn't it.

But like the leaves, our covering of sin can be stripped away.  As the chlorophyll is removed each fall, for deciduous trees, our sin is stripped away by the blood of Christ.  As His blood cleanses us, our beauty is revealed.  And, though I am unsure, perhaps in Heaven we will be able to really truly see the beauty of each of our fellow Believers.

As beautiful the autumn, now THAT will be Gorgeous!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Now that's a Good Question!

As most readers would realize by now, I love questions.  I have written about questions many times in this blog.  I tell my students that they need to learn the SKILL of asking good questions.  We miss many great opportunities to learn, because we don't know how to ask questions, particularly GOOD questions.
I recently read a Breakpoint blog post about.. questions.  Here are some of the questions they suggested we practice using, especially when dealing with contentious topics.
Here they are:
  1.  What do you mean by that? 
  2.  How do you know that’s true? 
  3. Where did you get this information? 
  4.  How did you come to this conclusion? 
  5.  What if you’re wrong? and What if you’re right? 

These are some good questions!  Defining what we mean is essential to true, useful discussions, so Q1 is a great place to start.  Some clever debaters will define terms particularly, because he who defines the terms, wins the argument.
Q2 is a great question, because a lot of what we BELIEVE to be true, a lot of what we WANT to be true, and MUCH of what we SAY to be true, is simply bogus.  How do you know that's true?
Q3 is really a variation on Q2.  We may make a claim, and suggest that it is true due to the quality of the source.  But what exactly WAS the source, and what was their source, etc., etc.
Q4 is a challenge to one's logic and biases. Often we conclude too early, and learn too late.
And the two opposing parts of Q5 is a great reflective place to wind up.  What difference does it make?  Really?
I pray that you will deepen your relationship with the Christ!  What do I mean, why do I believe this, where did I get the info, and how did I come to my own conclusions?  I'd love to answer these for you.  But the real kicker is Q5!  What if I am right about this?  Yes, the consequences are ENORMOUS!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Little Traffic Snarl - and a Big Lesson

Brenda and I decided to return to VA a full day earlier than originally planned due to the threat of snow along most of our route.  We ran into rush-hour traffic in Birmingham, but made if very well up past Bristol, VA.  Just north of Bristol, it started snowing.  It wasn’t snowing hard, and it was cold enough that I didn’t even have to turn on my windshield wipers.

I was marveling at how well things were going.  It was a bit after 1 AM when I saw some tail lights ahead, nothing abnormal about that, but these were stopped in I-81 all lanes going north.


Uh-oh indeed.  I was maybe the 20th car lined up in my lane, but traffic was totally stopped.  As in totally stopped for over 2.5 hours!!

A professional driver of a big rig had managed to turn his truck on its side, and block all three north-bound lanes.  As we sat, we saw wreckers and ambulances and one fire truck all heading to the scene.

So, we sat.   And sat… and sat…and sat.  We did a LOT of sitting.  This was one of those situations wherein we can do nothing.  Well, we did pray.

This is a parable for the age.  We control very little in this world.  We don’t control the weather which sent us up early.  We don’t control the driver who turned over his truck, nor the most inconvenient place where he did it.  Had we been 20 minutes earlier, we would have missed it.  Had we been 3 hours later, we would have missed it too.  Had we been stopped a bit further down the road, we could have exited the Interstate and gotten home via back roads, a little slower, but not 3 hours late!

We control but very little.  We are subject to the vagaries of life.  Except, of course, G^d is Sovereign. He controls all, and He is aware of our circumstances.  There’s no point in fuming, getting frustrated, or raging against the circumstances.

G^d is in Control and we are not.  Let’s not forget that!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

How Beautiful this world! Thoughts on a New Year

How beautiful this world?  My dear wife Brenda and I have had some great opportunities to see beautiful places in this old world.  Over these years we have seen:
  • Bermuda
  • Alaska
  • The American SW- grand Canyon, painted desert, petrified forest
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Coastal Rhode Island
  • Cumberland Island
  • Galveston Island
  • Lake Champlain in the Winter
  • Most of southern Sweden
  • Dog sledding in Kiruna, Sweden- N of artic Circle
  • Ostersund Sweden in fresh snow
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Trondheim, NO
  • Cancun, MX
  • The Okavango Delta
  • The great sand pans of central Botswana at sunset
  • Gettysburg Battlefield
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Old Sturbridge Village, MA
  • The Beaches of the Gulf of Mexico northern coast
  • The mountains of New Hampshire
  • The volcanoes of Costa Rica
  • The launch of the Space Shuttle
  • The wildlife of Northern Botswana
  • Niagra Falls
  • Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • The penguins of coastal South Africa
  • Cape Point Park, RSA
  • The rural karoo of RSA
  • The Great Wall of China
  • The Forbidden Palace
  • Hakone Japan
  • Most of Australia
  • The tea plantations of Kekugawa
  • The city of Taipei, Taiwan
  • The North shore of Hawaii
  • Florence Italy, along with Rome, Venice, Cinque Terra, and Bologna
  • Bath, England
  • Islands off Newcastle England
  • Buckingham Palace
  • The Cotswolds
  • Windsor Palace

And, probably some other places I will think of later.  My point is that we have seen a LOT of this beautiful world.  As Brenda and I were discussing the ways G^d has Blessed us in our travels, she noted,

"How beautiful this world- How about that one to come?"

Now THAT is a good point!!