Friday, September 29, 2006

Blog fart

I don't know if it was something I fed it, or if I said something wrong, but my blog farted at me this morning. It was quite upsetting, as the entire front page was demolished before my sad, sad eyes. The left side-bar: partially there. The right side-bar: nothing. The posts: gobbeldy-gook and random HTML anf Blogger coding. What happened, I do not have a clue. I I did was go in to twek a post, adding bold to two words. Two words! I republish, and whammo: trash. Due to my semi-brilliant skills at web design (and some handy partial backups) I was able to quickly get the blog readable again within about five minutes. Then I spent the morning in one long meeting and, at lunch, finished fixing the rest. I still don't think it all came out like it was before - just doen't feel right to me - but its close enough to run with. From now on, I keep a full copy of my template backed up daily.

On another note, I've been wondering about RSS feeds. I like to watch the traffic hit my sight (the Blogflux Mapstats on the right) and see where people are coming in from. But RSS is a bit more subtle. I don't know who may be subscribing to my RSS feed, if anyone, but I'm curious if what I went through the trouble to set up is being used at all. If you are a feedreader, now's your chance to step forward and tell the world why you feed rather than surf.

Werehavingababyanditsa . . .

face frontWe went in for another ultrasound today. As mentioned previously, it was all done for free (still, sweet!). To the left is a picture of Baby Euphrony at 17-weeks, with a frontal view of the face. What a beaut!

Once again, we got the nice pictures and spent a little extra time letting them practice. It was actually a lot more hustle and bustle than last time (being a weekday rather than a Saturday). We were a little more hurried ourselves (Curses to Sonic for never getting us our lunch! A pox upon their skate-clad feet!) and getting there turned into an
adventure of it's own right. But, this time, we got more then one picture. (The picture to the left is a profile view of the face and abdomen.) They even checked us out one two different machines, one a little fancier, to let the class get some hands-on work on both. They even asked me if I wanted to volunteer to hope on the table myself (I won't mention what it was they talked about checking out for practice - I was a little shell-shocked to answer at the time).

So, by this point, you are probably wondering if we found out the gender of Baby Euphrony. Well, they told us they though they could see on the less fancy machine, but didn't want to say anything because it wasn't that clear. However, when they moved to the bell-and-whistles ultrasound, it all became quite clear. This little exhibitionist was giving them a "full moon" and we got a picture of that, too. So, we asked, and they said "Congratulations, you're having a BOY!"

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A prayer to Jehovah

Bless me indeed, Lord; lay your hand on my life.

Will you bless me as you have blessed Abraham, with a legacy of faith to children of faith?
Will you bless me as you blessed Isaac? He had kings and nations in fear of him, an individual, because of the evident presence of Almighty God in his life.
Will you bless me as you did Solomon, with wisdom and wealth and life?
Will you bless me as you blessed Bartimaeus? You silenced those who would have dismissed this blind beggar; you gave him sight and honored the faith he held.
Will you bless me as you blessed Cornelius and his household? You gave hope and salvation where once there had been none.

Or, will you bless me in the way you blessed Abijah, son of the first king of divided Israel, Jeroboam? You allowed him to die in illness, the only one of his family with a heart for the Lord, rather than live to see the calamity and shame that would befall his family for their sins.
Will you bless me as you blessed David, spending half his life fleeing enemies including his best friend’s father and his own children?
Will you bless me as you showered Job with blessings? Through his suffering he was able to at last say to his Master "My ears had heard of you; but now my eyes have seen you."
Will you bless me as the righteous man in Isaiah 57? Perishing, unmourned; no one understands that his death is a relief from the evil that besets him.
Will you bless me as you blessed Paul and Silas? Beaten and imprisoned, the God in their hearts overflowed and changed the lives of those around them.

Fill my life with your Spirit; let your Mighty Hand never depart from me. Jehovah, bless me. Indeed.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Quote of the Week

From Little Euphrony to Mrs. Euphrony:

"Cake is time and time is cake."
I couldn't have said it better.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Weekend Retreat

In the next two weeks, I will be a very busy beaver. I will be presenting an interim report on a project for some people from Norway. Once that is polished off, I will finish a presentation and fly to Portland, Maine to present it at the Society of Rheology annual conference. All while managing a couple of other projects at critical points. So, as part of an effort to keep sane we have taken a short weekend retreat to Galveston. And we are trying to do it without having to pay. (Okay, so we can be cheap. You gotta problem with that?) So, we are staying at a time share that "invited" us for the weekend. Right on the beach. Kinda nice. We even ended up passing on some tickets to see MecryMe and Audio Adrenaline tonight to go ahead with the vacation. (We really appreciated the offer, though.)

Since the wind is coming in off the ocean pretty strong today, we decided not to hit the beach with a three-year old who would just get sand in her eyes, stumble around, fall into the ocean, and get sucked out to sea by the undertow. Instead, we went to Schlitterbahn. For those unfamiliar with Schlitterbahn, you're missing out. The original, in New Braunfels (between Austin and San Antonio), has for
years been rated the #1 water park in the nation, with good reason. Most of its water is supplied from the Comal River (so, its not heavily treated, but pure and fresh). The newest Schlitterbahn park is in Galveston. For this one, they tried to add a little flair: its a year-round park. No, seriously, rain, shine, snow (it happens!), hot or cold this park is open. The trick is that they have a retractable roofing system that covers a large part of the park, which can provide a climate-controlled area of fun. The picture to the left is of the roofing in the process of retracting. Pretty neato. If a sporting stadium can do it, why not a water park?

It has some nice kid pools, like the two shown here. Lots of fun for all the ages. One good thing about the Schlitterbahn parks is that they do not charge you to rent inner tubes like some places. Pirate ships, wading pools, big frogs with bigger tongues that you slide down, lazy rivers, wave pools; yeah, Tabitha had a blast out there. Played and swam until she just nearly fell asleep in an inner tube. And, they actually let you bring food into the park so you don't have to pay the crazy prices for a burger and fries.

Not to leave you thinking that its a kids-only park; there are some great adult rides. I got a chance to go down the body-slides pictured here. (Its funny: I hate roller coasters, but I do just about any water slide.) Then even have some "water coasters" that actually have you going up-hill and down-hill like a normal coaster. Very fun.

Now, we're exhausted and trying to get into bed. We're also trying not to think about the fact that we have to pay the piper in the morning. We'e got our 90-minute sales pitch to get us to try to buy a time share at 9 a.m. It's not like we are fundamentally opposed to buying one; we just know that it ain't gonna happen tomorrow.

Tabitha at the beach

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Music Report

So, I went to Lufkin, Texas last night - a two hour drive from my humble abode in North Harris County - to attend the Sara Groves concert at the Texas State Forest Festival. (In fact, I even got my lovely bride and little princess to come with me, tempting them with a petting zoo and carnival.) As I previously mentioned, besides Sara Groves (who said she didn't believe them when they told her before leaving chilly Minnesota that it would be 90oF here) the show opened with Leeland, Ana Laura, and Anthony Evans (in that order). I'll give you a brief report on the show, what of it I can convey.

First, I'll rate the audience. Having seen my wife in many plays, and gone to countless others with her, I know that the audience is half the show. The people on stage can poor their hearts out, and if the crowd is just sitting on their hands the show will come across dead. There is only so much a group can do to wake up a dead crowd. This crowd, it wasn't dead, but it was definitely on its way to hospice care. You must understand, there was a carnival, chainsaw carvers, an alligator wrestler, pig races, and a petting zoo in addition to the music festival: the crowd changed after practically every song, with people coming and going, eating kettle corn, sausage on a stick, and turkey legs, and chatting amongst themselves all the while. There were only a few people who stayed in place for the entire show so it was hard to keep a vibe going through all this.

First up, as I said, was Leeland. These young fellows from my neck of the woods have been getting a lot of hype over the last few months. They open with a nice, rockin' number - "Reaching". What really came across about these guys was 1) boy do they look young (or maybe I just look old), 2) they want to lead in worship, not put on a performance, 3) they've got some talent and I think we'll keep hearing about them, and 4) from chatting briefly with a couple of the guys after their set, they are nice, humble guys - really interactive with their audience. If you haven't heard their music, check it out soon.

Next up were Ana Laura, followed by Anthony Evans (neither of which traveled with a band). I would love to give a better review of their sets; however, a three-year old girl can be pretty demanding, especially when we walked by a petting zoo to get to the seats for a concert that was (in her words) too loud. So we adjourned for a little while to hit the petting zoo and the carnival. I did manage to hear one song from Ana Laura and three from Anthony Evans, and I enjoyed what I heard.

After the three half-hour "warm-up" sets, Sara Groves came out. Or, I should say, Kirby Groves came out. Kirby is Sara's oldest boy and has the pleasure of introducing his mom at every show. Usually, Sara's other son, Toby, introduces Kirby; alas, he fell asleep a little too early this night. Sara came with a small band - herself on keyboard, her husband, Troy, on percussion, a bass player, an a backup vocalist. Her show was very intimate: she shared her goofy sense of humor, the things that inspire her in her writing, what she tries to convey in her music. My wife is correct that I really like "talkie" music, and this is what Sara Groves does best. She is very conversational, and her music is just one form of conversation that she employs. She talks about God, seeking Him and living in Him, what it means to work for God (not in big things, but in the little, daily things) and, through her openness and honesty, draws you into the conversation with her. Very warm, very friendly, her show was what I drove up to see.

Overall, apart from a what I would consider a lack-luster crowd, the evening was well worth it. I heard some very good music, was drawn into worship and reminded of who God is and who I am supposed to be. Beautiful.

(On a side note, please pray for Erin. While we were at the festival, she twisted her ankle and its been sore and aching since.)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Living for God

Are you perhaps familiar with "", proposed by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal in the mid-1600’s. It's basic premise is that, mathematically, your chances of a good return are better if you believe in God than if you do not – thus belief in God is a safe bet that all logical people should make. This is true: siding with God is always a safe bet. However, I keep asking myself if this was any way to live for and serve Jehovah?

Blaise PascalI believe that this principle has affected most of us in our acceptance of Christ as Lord; we may not know a lot about God but we know that we don't want to end up in the Hot Place, so we decide to believe in God. But we cannot remain in that kind of belief. This is service out of fear of consequences and has little to do with actually living for God. We cannot serve Jehovah because we do not like the alternatives. We should not obey God because he has blessed us (He has not promised earthly blessings, but heavenly ones, and so we may not be physically blessed here on earth). Our life for Christ is not motivated by His blood shed for our sins. No, these are all excellent reasons to love and be awed by Jehovah but they are not reasons to live for Him, to believe in Him, and to obey Him. I say this because these are not the reasons the Jehovah gives us in His word.

There is only one reason to live in God: "Be holy, for I am holy." This is stated six times in Leviticus (11:44, 11:45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, 21:8) and is repeated by Peter (1 Peter 1:16). It is not because of what the Lord has done for us that draws us to love Him, but simply because He has commanded it:

4"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
--Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NASB)
A life that is truly lived for Jehovah is not done out of motivation for one's own personal interests. When the prime motivator of a life or lifestyle is personal gain, living for anyone but oneself is precluded; this is utter selfishness and is not that to which God has called us. While we may first come to and know God in fear of retribution, we cannot grow in Him while we remain there.

The problem is that so many of us never go past that spiritual point. We never come to know and serve God simply out of acknowledgement that He is God and commands and deserves such respect. I would encourage everyone to come to know God, not in lip-service but in your heart. We may have first turned to Him out of fear, or because it was expected of you or it was what everyone else what doing (the bandwagon effect), but that does not mean that we must stay there! We are called to live a life for God, and there is joy and peace to be found in obeying God because He is Jehovah, the Great I AM, God of Creation, Lord of Hosts, Almighty! He is Lord; let us serve Him and love Him as such.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Tomorrow, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrgh! Well, shiver me timbers! I must spread the word of this. Hide yer booty and pull out your eyepatch. Let's all talk like a pirate, mateys!


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Get to know me!

Calvin animated gifHi. My name's Euphrony. Thanks for stopping by today. We're going to have a little meet and greet. Please, pull up a chair, sit down grab some chips and dip, and lets talk. I'll tell you a little about me and you can file it away for later use in a lawsuit or restraining order.

  1. I am genetically incapable of being late anywhere. As the agreed-upon time of arrival approaches, my head begins to explode if I am not already there. (Mrs. Euphrony has fun with this.)
  2. I cannot attach a suction cup to anything and get it to stick for more than a minute. Who ever thought up using these as methods of attachment, anyway?
  3. I cannot find people in a crowd of any size. I will wander around like a lost puppy until found and returned to my owner.
  4. I love music of all kinds and follow music news and events actively.
  5. Same with movies.
  6. I listen mostly to "talkie" songs. This is according to Mrs. Euphrony, who says she prefers to listen to "singie" songs.
  7. I always have a song running through my head. A former coworker took advantage of this by planting jingles periodically. His favorite: "What would you dooo for a Klondike bar?". I will now hum this until it is supplanted.
  8. The one song that dominates my life is "The Girl from Ipanema", not because I love it so much, or connect with its bossa nova groove on some deep spiritual level. This is #7 again; I cannot ever get this song out of my brain! Bye bye , Klondike bar song (do, do do, do di di do da da do . . . please make it stop!)
  9. #8 should become very interesting in about two months, when I will likely have a business trip that takes me near (possibly on) Ipanema beach. I may go mad. Tee hee hee.
  10. In my life I have played guitar (briefly), piano, and percussion instruments galore (though mostly tympani and xylophone). I have recently taken up playing the recorder to amuse my 3-year old daughter.
  11. I work in the field of rheology. I get sick of Bill Gates and spell checkers everywhere asking me if I really meant to type "theology" instead of "rheology". Yes, I know the letters "T" and "R" are adjacent on the keyboard, but they are two different fields, both of which I study and both of which I will type about. They are distinct words, so give me some credit for knowing what I'm typing, already!
  12. If you haven't figured it out by reading my blog, I have a passion for Christ and His church.
  13. I am rather "Monkish" - i.e. I am very obsessive/compulsive and I can develop unhealthy fixations (music, games, TV, reading - I do them all or nothing).
Well, that's a piece me for you to mull over. Thank you for coming to today's confessional. I feel better having gotten these things off my chest. Maybe by sharing some of this with you, I will become a better man (take that infernal song out of my mind! it burns! it burns!). Feel free to schedule your own confessional. This room is open for such a use.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Blankety-Blank Blank

Okay, who hasn't at some point used a "colorful" word. I just slammed by thumb in a door - @#!&!. That $@#!$# driver just cut me off. This world is seriously !@$#!$ up. Whether in anger or through deliberate choice, just about everyone has let slip the unspeakable. Think of Ralphie in A Christmas Story, bar of soap firmly implanted in his mouth. Think Sarge or General Halftrack in the "Beatle Bailey" comics. We are taught that it is wrong, both by society and by parental advice. And yet, both society and parents act hypocritically and used the verboten words. At best, we grow up confused as to the appropriateness of certain words.

Of course, as Christians, we are called to be above this all. Paul implores us to let to "unwholesome talk" proceed from our mouths in Ephesians 4:29. The use of such foul language is more than socially inappropriate, it is sinful and disgraceful before God. But, there are multiple cases of rather frank descriptive words in the Bible. For example, Paul (half in jest, I think) wishes that those who demand circumcision would just go all the way and castrate themselves (Galatians 5:12). In
Isaiah 64:6, our righteousness is described as "filthy rags" (NIV) or a "filthy garment" (NASB) as compared to God's righteousness - yet the accurate translation of this toned-down passage would be to say our righteousness is like a dirty Tampon (literally, a menstrual rag - yuck!).

What is the point of this meandering on vulgarity? I'm glad you asked. It so happens that, lately, it seems that every time I turn around I am hearing or seeing something about cussin' Christians. Whether it is President Bush letting it rip when he thinks he's off the air, the Christian artist peppering lyrics with harsh or vulgar language, or the brother or sister I know so well whose tongue is loosed, it has been a topic of conversation lately. There was even a recent article about this in
Christianity Today's Music section. The bulk of contemporary Christian artists toe the line, and avoid controversy, by keeping their lyrics unobjectionable. Then you have a few like Derek Webb and Todd Agnew who incorporate words and phrases that, while not vulgar, are certainly considered impolite because of the frankness of their description. Christian stations avoided Webb's "Wedding Dress" (from She Must and Shall Go Free) because he described us - we sinful, frail people - as "whores" and "bastard" children. Todd Agnew's song "My Jesus" talks about how Jesus spent his time with "thieves and sluts and liars" and was passed over to avoid the controversy of one word. Both artists used the words as defined, and were truthful in the pictures they painted with these words; and yet, these are not the words of polite society, not the words we want to be used in description of ourselves, and not the words we want to hear from clean artists.

And then there are the Christian artists, both in CCM and in secular music, who intentionally (with the great thought and consideration that goes into the writing process) include vulgarities in their lyrics. An occasional f-bomb here, the s-word there, all used to punctuate their point. Artists such as Over the Rhine, U2, Bruce Cockburn (a founder of the Jesus music revolution in the 70s), and Pedro the Lion all profess their spirituality and devotion to Christ, fill their music with heavenly themes, and pop in the odd cuss word. What are we to make of these? What of their stated devotion to Christ if their well-honed words embrace the ways of the world?

The basic question for some comes down to what is a curse word. What is a vulgarity, if not something that is not used in society? So some will say that these words find such common use that they no long are tainted, dirty, but are simple words. The Christianity Today article gives results of an on-line poll they conducted asking the question of the appropriateness of profanities and found that "64 percent of voters feel that profanity is always inappropriate in the music they listen to, while 29 percent said it depends on the context, and another 6 percent are completely unfazed by profanity." So, it basically comes down to about a two-thirds split among (likely predominately Christian) voters believing that profanities can be appropriately used in music. And then their is the issue of "soft" profanities, such as that alternate word for either a donkey or your rear end or that female-dog word. These find much more common acceptance in both secular and Christian circles.

To make a case for the colorful artists, come would say that the have the right to express themselves in a way that most accurately conveys their thought. But I would ask, as professed Christians, who should they be expressing? The author of the Christianity Today article (Russ Breimeier) does take a stand in the end. He concludes that some words, such as the f-bomb and s-word, simply have no "correct" use, as in Webb's choice of "whore" and "bastard." Their definitions are widely known and are not "nice ones"; they are used for their shock value rather than description.

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to argue with me, but I would concur with Breimeier that profanities have no place in Christian lives, much less in Christian music. I would also concur that the uses to which Derek Webb and Todd Agnew have used impolite words is warranted - this is stripping the veneer off of our white-washed tombs to let the dirt and filth be honestly seen. I would also say that the use of soft profanities is not the sign of a changing cultural acceptance but the misuse of words properly meaning something entirely different; thus the soft profanities should not proceed from the mouths and hearts of sons and daughters of Jehovah.

To conclude, I would like to present a skit that was often performed by my college group, the Aggies for Christ. In it, a father and young boy are sitting in a living room, with the child playing with his toy truck and the dad engrossed in the paper/work/TV/whatever. In his play, the child rams the truck into daddy's foot, to which the father responds "Blankety-blank blank cussword obscenity!" The scene continues with the child playing and again hitting dad with the truck. The response is the same; "Blankety-blank blank cussword obscenity! I've told you to be careful and don't do that!" The boy then goes on playing, ramming his own hand with the truck and exclaiming "Blankety-blank blank cussword obscenity!" The father is shocked and angry at hearing this from his son and tells him "Only a man can say those words." The son, with confusion and innocence on his face, asks his father "But, daddy, wasn't Jesus a man?"

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The joys of car ownership

Its time to do a little routine maintenance on my wife’s car, the mini-van we love so well. We’ve had it nearly a year, and it needs some of the basic stuff – oil change, front-end alignment – and two tires need looking at (one picked up a nail, the other I think has a bad wheel). So I planned to swap cars with her today and take the mini-van in to the shop. Plans have a way of changing. God laughs at plans, in fact.

As I drove my car yesterday, basking in the cool air blowing from the A/C, I heard a thump. Instantly, my comfy cold air turns into searing hot air. Now, being the astute person that I am, with boundless knowledge about cars and how they operate, I began to suspect their might be a small problem. After a few minutes of consultation with my inner child, I decide the best course of action might be to delay the work on my wife’s car in lieu of repairing my car. What tipped my decision was the fact that driving, without A/C, in Houston, when it is 95oF, 100% humidity, and raining (thus, I had to keep the windows up) is near impossible due to the inch-thick layer of fog that builds on the inside of the windows.

I dropped my car off at the shop near our house on my way home, and they called me this morning with the damage. (Semi-technical stuff follows. If you’re not interested in the what, skip to the next paragraph.) Apparently, the clutch on the compressor decided to take a permanent vacation – as in it was not where they looked for it.
redneck carNot a good sign. So, I need a new compressor. Oh yeah, in order to have a valid warranty on the new compressor I need to replace several other parts with new parts. And, while they have my beautiful car ripped apart, they might as well replace the timing belt that has 133,000 miles on it. It just seems logical that they do this rather than have the belt break in a week and destroy all the new parts recently installed. The car you see pictured on the right is not my car – this was just a suggestion from a guy at work as to how I could get the A/C fixed on the cheap.

Luckily, all parts are normal and in stock. The repair should not take too long, and I can get my car back either late today or tomorrow. All at a walk-out price of $1300. Seems like a good deal. I actually expect to put another 100,000 miles on this car without having to do too much more work, so a little over a grand for cold air is fair enough. I had even budgeted about that much for repairs on my car this year (knowing that some work would need doing), so the money should not be a problem (I thank God for preparing me for this).

I would like to give a big THANK YOU to James and Carol. Erin had called to ask if Carol could give her a ride to ladies bible class, and drop of Tabitha at her pre-school (since Carol would already be going both places). Instead of giving Erin a lift, they offered to let us use one of their cars that they did not need until my car was repaired! God is good, and so are James and Carol. Besides, I got to browse through the CDs in the car and I listened to Crazy Train driving in to work this morning. That song starts a day off with a bang (but no thumps, thank goodness)!

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

In search of . . . TRUTH

Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe

I have been dwelling a lot lately on the need for honesty and truth in all of our doings. I’ve been involved in a couple of blog discussions on the marketing of music in general, and specifically Christian music, in the age of MySpace. One thing that kept coming around was that for the marketing to be done in a manor pleasing to God, it must be done in honesty, lacking deception or misleading promises. This is what God asks of us, but is increasingly what we find lacking in all aspects of life.

If we look at the Gospel of John, we notice that it is very different from the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. One of the big differences can be found in John’s emphasis TRUTH. In the three synoptic gospels, we find truth mentioned a total of six times (this does not include all the "I tell you the truth" or "verily, verily" statements). However, John writes about the truth a total of 25 times in his gospel. We even find Pilate asking Jesus "What is truth?" (John 18:38). The basis on which John writes is the reliability, the honesty, the truth of the message the he brings. With this underpinning, he takes us on a journey through the amazing life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God; a journey we can follow and hold to because of the truth to which John held.

We should also consider Zechariah and the passage where God decries the hearts like flint that the Israelites display. We read in chapters 7 and 8 of the things that Jehovah wants from his people. In Zechariah 7:9-10, Jehovah calls the people to

  1. practice true justice (i.e. honesty),
  2. be kind and compassionate,
  3. not oppress others, and
  4. not devise evil in one’s heart against others.

Then, in the same conversation with His people, Jehovah reiterates in Zechariah 8:16-17 that the people should

  1. speak the truth (honesty),
  2. judge with truth and judgment (again, honesty and integrity),
  3. not devise evil in your heart against others, and
  4. not love perjury (even again, honesty!).

For God to present virtually identical lists of good actions that He desires to see from His people, almost in the same breath, speaks to the importance of the message. And the message that Jehovah is conveying is to live and act in honesty and truth and integrity.

So, how does this all come around to the above-mentioned conversations on the marketing of music, and specifically Christian music? We must present God’s word and God’s heart to the world: we are His ambassadors, offering the world reconciliation with God. The very basis of our ability to do this is rooted in the honesty which the world can find in our lives. Just as John wrote his gospel on the foundation of Truth, so that it could be accepted as trustworthy and reliable, we must found our message in truth. When we shroud ourselves with illusion and trickery, our message is not longer found trustworthy by the people needing to hear it. A life established in truth is the life of a servant of God. A life that mixes truth with deception is lost to the man of lawlessness who comes "in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, NIV)

I’m not good at posing questions to others, just at recording my own thoughts. Where do these thoughts impact you? What are your thoughts on the matter?

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Music Spotlight

So, my wife says I’m crazy, but I think I have a friend on board with me on this. On September 21st, at the Texas State Forest Festival in Lufkin – a mere two hours from my home – there will be a Christian music festival, sponsored by the local Christian station KSWP 90.9. Though this is a weeknight, and two hours away from my home, I plan on going. Drive up after work to make the show at 6:30 and then drive home only to get up and go to work the next day. So, Erin's always known I was crazy anyway; this just proves the point to her.

Sara GrovesBut I just can't pass up this opportunity - the show will headline Sara Groves, my favorite artist. Over the last couple of years, I have absolutely been stricken with Sara's music. In it I hear deep spiritual and scriptural messages, but somehow she manages to answer the "So what?" question and apply her lessons to life. There is an openness and honesty in her music that is lacking in many artists. The real stories she tells are so easily transferred to my own experiences, and never fail to bring me to my knees to prostrate myself before the Lord she sings about. The show will also feature a couple of other, newer artists. Also in attendance will be Anthony Evans, who has been doing some pretty good music, and also Ana Laura will be there. She's been getting some decent press and I look forward to hearing her music live.

LeelandBut, besides being excited about seeing Sara Groves there, I am also excited about Leeland being there for the music festival. This band has gotten a real buzz about their music and the talent of their 17-year old front-man. What I've heard on the radio I have liked. They should make for a good addition to this show. Incidentally, you can read a recent interview with Leeland at Christianity Today. Considering that Ana Laura, Anthony Evans, and Leeland are all Texas groups (from Brownsville, Dallas, and Baytown, respectively) it will be interesting to see how Minnesotan Sara Groves will fare among so many Texans.

Jimmy NeedhamAnd, also looking at another new artist, Jimmy Needham has a recent interview with CM Central that was interesting to read. I first heard his music when I caught the free-download promo CD iPop 2006. This is a collection of a dozen songs, some from more established names on the inpop label (newsboys, Tree63, Superchic[k]) and some from a few newer groups (Matt Kearney, Jimmy Needham, and Foolish Things). Another thing, it seems Jimmy is also a Texan - from Houston - and is currently trying to finish a degree in history at Texas A&M (take that, all you Baylor Bears who occasion my site) while getting ready to get married. Busy guy.

So, that's what I've got on my mind musically at the moment.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Prayer Updates

If you’ve noticed, my left sidebar is pretty much dedicated to presenting some of the current items for which I am in prayer. I invite you to pray for these, as well (inviting others to pray is, after all, why I place them on my blog). Some of these I change infrequently and some may be updated daily or weekly; but I can assure you that there are no stale items on this list.

Prayer has always been an important part of my life – okay, a lot of Christians may say that, but I really mean it. It has always been a burden God has placed on my heart to be in prayer for my life and for others around me. Through the years, I have learned (and relearned) what is meant by pray without ceasing. This attitude was refocused a few years ago when I discovered Samuel’s words to Israel in 1 Samuel 12:23. After the people are convicted of their sin in seeking an earthly king and they ask Samuel to pray for them. Samuel responds

"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you." (NASB)
Wow. It still hits me. To not pray for my brothers is a sin. On top of that, I am not sinning against my brother that I neglect, but against Jehovah! This verse constantly reminds me the importance of prayer; prayer that is so necessary that its absence is tantamount to an absence from God’s presence.

So, here are a few updates on prayer these prayer items:

  • I’ve been asking you to pray for two sets of friends whose marriages are in trouble, both having been separated for several weeks. There is mixed news on these. One couple spent the weekend together, with their kids, at a big family gathering. Their separation has not been much of a secret, so their being there together may be a good sign. The other couple, though, continues to have problems. The husband moved out one month ago (just days after their 9th anniversary) and last week presented her with divorce papers. I do not know how much hope there is left in this marriage. Please continue to pray for both.

  • Our friends, Jeff and Erin, have safely return from Vietnam with their new daughter, Selah. She is precious and the entire family is excited at the addition of this little girl. It may seem the hard part is over (huge expenses, weeks of travel to remote areas) but the long-term adjustment of the family, especially Selah, is just beginning. The signs so far show that she is adopting and bonding to the family that has adopted her.

  • I had asked you to be praying for Will, a young boy (11, I believe) who has had multiple health problems throughout his life (cancer, heart, etc.). This week, he and his family are on a Make a Wish trip, actually a pirate adventure argh! They are celebrating his current good health and I think they all enjoy seeing some of his hair starting to grow back.Thank you for considering these people in your prayer time.
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Where were you when . . .

This morning I made a quick trip up to Dallas for the finalize the adoption of my niece to by brother and sister-in-law. She was born six months ago, and entrusted to them with the standard six-month evaluation period by the state. This morning we all met at the courthouse in downtown Dallas, stood before a judge, and celebrated as she awarded permanent custody to my bro and sis-in-law.

While they waited for the actual decree of adoption paperwork to be produced, my parents and I took a stroll around the block outside the courthouse. This may sound odd if you do not realize that the courthouse sits on Dealy Plaza. So, we strolled by the Texas Book Repository and it's infamous sixth floor. We walked over the grassy knoll and saw where Kennedy was assassinated. My parents talked about where they were when they first learned the impossible news. Mom was working over a drafting board when a coworker came in from lunch and frantically turned on the radio. Dad was working at the bank - same situation. While this occurred about a month before my parents had their first date, and a decade before I was born, I began remembering the defining world events of my (remembered) lifetime.

I was in class, and it was show and tell day. Someone had brought a novelty radio that looked like a can of shaving cream. We were listening to this radio when they broke in with the news that Reagan had been shot. She quickly turned off the radio, but the news was sinking in to these young minds.

I was in forth period math class. The teacher was a coach, and by happenstance the class was all guys – not a single girl. Naturally, there was generally a little bit of cutting up going on. So when the real clown of the class walks in and announces that the shuttle Challenger blew up, none of us believed him. That took a few minutes to sink in.

It was a Wednesday night. I was driving to church on the other side of town. All they were talking about on the radio was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. This was the start of many years of a modern era of blood, sweat, and tears involving that region of the globe.

So, what about you? Where were you? There are others I could have mentioned, that are indelibly burned into my memory, but these are three of the strongest from my memory. What event has stuck with you the most?


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