Monday, May 29, 2017

That Squirrel Story

In a previous post, I alluded to "the Squirrel Story.  A foreign friend requested to hear it.  So, at risk of repeating the story to those who have heard it over and over, here it is.

A Sunday School teacher was teaching his group of 5th graders, and asked this question,

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

No one answers, so the teacher repeats the question.

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

No one answers, so the teacher repeats the question.

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"
One little boy timidly raises his hand, and the teacher happily calls on him.

Ok Johnny, tell us, "What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

"I know the answer must be 'Jesus', but it sounds like a squirrel to me." replies Johnny.

Just like these youngsters, we sometimes learn the "correct" answer, and fail to see the true answer.

And that, my friends, can be a grave mistake!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20? Part 2

A few days back you read my advice to myself at age 20.  Here is Brenda's take on it.

Things I would tell myself about life if I could speak with my 20 year old self.....

Don't spend so much time thinking about what other people will think of the way you look, in actuality.....folks aren't looking at you. :)

Show more hospitality and don't be afraid that my "things" (home, cooking, etc.)  don't measure up to theirs......the things that folks remember is how you showed love to them.

You just can't please some folks, no matter what  you say or do.....just love them anyway.

When things, relationships, don't go as I think that they should, don't stress so much over them.  In looking back God has used those hard people/times to knock rough edges off of me in my own life.

When things don't go as I think that they should, it's because God has a far better plan for me, that I most likely won't realize for several years.

Marriage won't always be holding hands and love letters.  Decide that you are committed to make it work, and love unconditionally, forgive quickly, and laugh together a whole lot. :)

If your spouse has a crazy idea of where he wants you to go, say yes!  Make tons of wonderful memories and go on great adventures when you can.

Accept forgiveness and restore relationships as quickly as you can.  Don't give time for bitterness to grow.

Let things get dusty in your home, spend more time playing with your kids, than trying to show that I can keep things in order.

Seek God's plan for your particular life, live your life using what gifts that God has given to you and stop beating yourself up that you can't do what others can do.

Show love and acceptance to others, even those that are difficult to be around.

As an introvert, it is OK for you to get the rest that you need.

It is OK to say "No" to things that you aren't called to do.  You don't have to feel guilty about saying no.  

Say "Yes", and serve when you are asked to do things that you are called to do.

Pray for your kids, it's the best thing that you can do for them.  Show unconditional love for each one.  Don't try to run their lives but let them know that you are there for them and can be counted on for love and support no matter what.

Call your Mom and Dad more as they age, and let them know how much you love them.

 Pray that God would give you ears to hear His voice and a heart that desires to be obedient to Him as He guides your life.

Show God's love at every opportunity.

I could go on and on.  These are the things that come to mind off the top of my head.   It was fun to think about this.  

So what's YOUR advice?

Monday, May 22, 2017

It Ain't the Letters that are Blurry!!

Our preacher this Sunday morning made a brilliant observation.  When you are sitting in that chair in the Optometrist's office, and she asks you to read the line of random letters, it ain't the letters that are blurry.

This impresses me.  We all too often think that the letters ARE indeed blurry, whereas we think our vision is perfect.  But, it ain't the letters that are blurry.

We are so quick to find fault with others.   They are too hasty, too slow, too smart, too dumb, too conservative, too liberal.

On the other hand, we are near perfect!   If EVERYONE ELSE simply saw the world like we do... with OUR clear insight, I mean sight.

But,  it ain't the letters that are blurry.

Think about it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When is Spring Break- not a Break? Bishop Style!

Just last week we were on my final Spring Break.  It went something like this:

Saturday- Drive to Natural Bridge, spend several hours looking around, and catching an early queen snake.  Then to lunch in a place we ate over 37 years ago.  Then to Natural Bridge Caverns for a great tour underground.
Sunday- SS, Church, dinner with neighbors.  Rest.
Monday- drive to Jamestown, VA and tour the OLDEST continuously occupied English settlement in the USA.  Then to the Yorktown Revolutionary War Battlefield.
Tues- Historic Williamsburg visit until they closed it down.
Wed.-  Half a day at the Newport News Maritime Museum, then a tour of the Yorktown Battlefield until it closed.  Then drive back to Lynchburg.
Thurs.-  Visit the Highlands, home of President James Monroe, then to Monticello, home of President Jefferson.
Fri- Visit Lexington, VA, tour home of TJ Jackson, an outstanding Christian, tour VMI Museum and then the General George C Marshall Museum.
Saturday- catch up on what we hadn't done before- fixed smoke detectors, changed furnace filters, etc.
Sunday- SS, Church, shepherding group.  Rest.

Yep, we need a BREAK from Spring Break. Thank you L^rd for rest!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Why We Need Emoticons in Scripture

I have written before about some of the missed/misunderstood humorous gags in The Bible.  I was reminded again about this after this mornings sermon.  Our preacher is a very well educated man who doubtlessly used many good, competent Commentaries in putting together the morning sermon.

His chosen text, part of a series from the Sermon on the Mount, was Matt. 5:38-48.  The final verse, 48, is one of my favorites in Scripture.  It reads, "Therefore be ye perfect, even as your father in Heaven is perfect."

Well, is seems that many well-studied commentators are perplexed by this verse.  Our pastor did verbal gymnastics to try to suggest that Jesus was telling his Jewish audience, numbering 5k men, plus women and children, that we ought to see our relationship with G^d as "whole and complete" the intended meaning of "perfect".

Whereas, the pastor, and all his commentators may WELL BE CORRECT, I have strong doubts.  The audience is listening to the GREAT Rabbi, Jesus.  He is preaching in Aramaic, recorded by Matthew in Greek.  Back a bit over 20 verses earlier, Rabbi Jesus had said, "Unless your RIGHTEOUSNESS exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter heaven."

What?  Yes, we ought to scratch our heads over both these admonitions of Exceeding the righteousness most religious people of their religion and being Perfect as is G^d.

But a simpler explanation would seem to fit the approach and philosophy of the Son of Man.  Jesus, G^d became man, is telling us that His listeners- the Jews there and us today- are in BIG trouble.

And I repeat, we, and the Jews, are in BIG Trouble.  And,- this is crucial- there is ONLY one solution for our big trouble.  And that solution is...

The RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ himself, imputed to us by G^d's Grace and Mercy.  Yes, read this literally.  Our righteousness must be perfect- better than the MOST religious folks we know to enter into heaven.  AND, we ONLY attain this level of RIGHTEOUSNESS if it is imputed to us by the shed blood of the ONLY PERFECT sacrifice, Jesus our Savior.

We need emoticons!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20?

One of my friends recently posed this question, “What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20?"

It’s a good question and I like it because I am guessing most everyone has a different answer.   For example I am guessing us late-60 year olds will answer differently than 21 year olds.'

Have pondered the question a bit, I am happy to report that I have very few regrets.  G^d has provided for, protected, and guided me for these ensuing 47 years.  Here are a couple of things I am still learning but didn’t fully comprehend at 20 (or 30 either):

  • 1.     Plan for the future.  I don’t mean next year, or 20 years from now, I mean plan for eternity.
  • 2.     Invest in things with long term benefits.  I got a great undergrad education at the USNA, and it has paid off ever since.  I read Scriptures daily, and that has long term benefits.
  • 3.     Learn Spiritual disciplines like Prayer, Bible Study, and Fellowship and PRACTICE,PRACTICE, PRACTICE! (See the one above).
  • 4.     Don’t sweat the small stuff, or the medium stuff, or the large stuff.  G^d is Sovereign.  When I look back now at frustrations and disappointment in the past, I can see G^d’s hand directing me and keeping me from some stuff… and NOW I’m glad He did!

So, one of my BIG disappointments is that I have made so little progress in becoming like Jesus the Christ.

Some readers might notice that most of my discussion is oriented towards spiritual issues, and not “practical” issues.  I HOPE you noted that, since I noted it too.  And that brings me to my conclusion.  In Matthew 6: 19-21 Jesus says (my paraphrase), “Stop being SO preoccupied with money and houses, and stuff.  Instead pay attention to your Spirit, to being obedient to what G^d is calling you personally to do.  Watch yourself.  Don’t focus exclusively on this life, for NONE of us is on earth very long.  From the beginning look to the eternal future.  Otherwise, the affairs of this world will totally capture your heart!”

So look ahead 40 or 50 years.  What can you do NOW that will make you happy then?  Hint, think in terms of eternity!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Danger! Danger! Danger!

I asked my undergrad class last week to whom should we attribute the quote, "Danger! Danger!  Danger!"?  they quickly identified Steve Irwin, the Australian Crocodile hunter.  I asked them about that quote because I was about to talk about using the WWW to do research on devising new measurements.

The WWW is a boon to information.  The WWW is a bane of information.  The WWW makes tons of info available, and tons of MISinformation available.  The problem is that is very challenging to know the difference between the two!!

Some of the information on the WWW is about my own field of study, exercise physiology.  Let me assure you, the ratio of good information to bad information may be <1.0, which is to say, there may be more bad info than good on the web.

I speak only for my area of expertise, but the bad thing about the MISinformation is that it usually has a grain of truth from which a misconception, misunderstanding, or deception arose.  One of my favorite WWW red herrings is one titled, "Your Cardio Routine is making you fat."

Don't believe me, go to:   and check it out.

It was written by best-selling author, Jim K.  It is mostly baloney, but there is a shred of truth on which it is based.  The truth is:
  1. We tend to lose muscle mass with aging, for a few reasons, but it does happen,
  2. Our total muscle mass chiefly determines our resting metabolic rate, and,
  3. Our resting metabolic rate accounts for the majority of calories we burn in a day for most of us, even if we exercise pretty hard.

So far his logic is sound.  BUT, then he jumps to the conclusion that lifting weights will cause all of us to add enough muscle to cause us all to go into a net negative caloric balance every day.  His start was sound, his leap to his bias caused his downfall.

What he failed to recognize was:
  • Not very many people can add substantial amounts of muscle mass without the use of illegal drugs
  • He ignores that it is much easier to burn a substantial number of calories in cardio compared to weight lifting
  • Most real working people are extremely limited in the time available to work out.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the #1, or #2 killer of Americans, and weight lifting doesn't help this very much.

But, if you die of a heart attack whilst lifting weights, hey, your weight loss problem is instantly resolved.

Just think, if he were correct, wouldn't the majority of weight lifters be slim and trim?  (Don't confuse weight lifters with body builders who starve themselves for contests.)

Don't get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of lifting weights, but for most Americans, I am a stronger proponent of cardiovascular exercise.  I am the strongest proponent of doing something to be physically active!!

I am not going to start blogging on exercise and weight loss; hopefully we have a book coming out in a year or so that will do that.  Instead I am warning you that it is NOT just the whack articles that are whacko.  Even articles by "best-selling authors" can lead you astray.  In fact, a key way to gain readership is to simply go against what the conventional bona fide experts recommend and propose some elaborate conspiracy theory.

So the question we ALL need to ask ourselves is, "I read this on the WWW.  What are the chances it is true?"

The chances are lower than we think... and you just read that on the WWW.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Civil Disobedience!! In the Bible no Less

In Sunday School we were discussing 1 Peter and in chapter 2 we hit upon that classic issue (also in Romans 13) or submitting to governmental authorities.  Keep in mind that Peter wrote this epistle from PRISON, whilst Nero was emperor of Rome.  Yes, that Nero.

Paul writes of Nero's government,
"13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men."

Yes, but Nero?  You gotta be kidding!

Well the mere mention of this in Sunday School and a hand goes up.  But should Christians NOT speak out against moral wrongs?

Good question.  We would clearly encourage Iraqi Christians NOT to recant their faith and thus cooperate with ISIS "authorities".

Acts 5 comes to mind immediately, doesn't it?  Peter and John are thrown into jail.  An earthquake frees them, and they go back to what got them thrown into jail.

"The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men."

Or maybe you thought of Daniel 6. "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which [g]may not be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, [h]as he had been doing previously."

Here are two clear instances of NOT obeying authorities!  What's up with that?

Look back at Acts 5:19-20

" But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”  

Aha, a direct command of G^d trumps everything else.  Scripture lays out clear GENERAL behavior, but as Jesus himself noted to the Pharisees, there are plenty of exceptions to General commands.  In Matt 12, Jesus mentions the exception to Sabbath "rules".

 It would seem the key issue is the state of our heart.  We sin in disobedience to G^d's word, and we sometimes obey in disobedience to G^d's general commands.  

But where is our heart?  Are we following the L^rd or kidding ourselves.  Who are we serving?

Answering those questions sincerely seems to clear up the matter.

Oh well.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Mighty Nice Folk- I just found this one!

Back in 2014 I made a trip to the Left coast and wrote up this blog post, which inexplicably never got published.  I want to correct that mistake... so here's a BLAST from the PAST.

Out on the NW coast of the USA are several friends of mine.  I want you to know of them.  I had the opportunity to visit with two of my former Ph.D. students where they teach at CWU, Ellensburg, WA.  I spoke to some of their students and colleagues.
 Above are Kelly, Rob, Liam and Luke.  They live in a beautiful home that I will show you later.  They were super hospitable, housing me, feeding me, and making sure I got where I had to be.
These are the folks who invited me out initially.  This is Mark, Kathi, and Claire. Mark is an Aussie who came to the University of Oregon, met Kathy and the rest is history. He has been at CWU for 7 years and travels the world as a professor.

This is Ken and Diane. Ken is a highly committed Christian and a long-time faculty member.  They are exceedingly warm and welcoming.

There are many more characters in this story. The punch line of this story is the great number of wonderful people inhabiting this earth. These are some top ones, and they happen to live in the opposite corner of the USA, but the world has many more.

And that raises, in part, the Problem of Pleasure. If the anti-Christians are right, why are there so many good things in the world? Why is there pleasure and friendship instead of pain and competition only? Why are there so many people, like these above, who are hospitable, kind, serving, selfless?  Why is the world often a beautiful, pleasant, joyous place?  My evolutionists friends will guess that these have "survival value", but no more than the sad and painful things, so why would this explain the atheist's views?

Regardless of one's philosophy, there are some mighty nice people in this world.  Thanks be to G^d!