Sunday, February 24, 2013

Smoke On The Water

This morning a smoky February mist hovered over the two acre pond that makes up our back yard, an ever changing stage where stories of great drama and occasional comedy play daily. From snips of conversation with various long-time residents of the area we can trace the pond’s beginnings to at least the early 1950’s as a man-made watering hole for cows. It’s not a deep water pond, perhaps no more than nine feet where the earthen dam holds it back. In the dry seasons the level drops dramatically but two small springs trickle into it via naturally carved rivulets so it never goes dry. All it takes is a single good rain to bring it back to full pool. 

It is a complete eco-system that successfully self-manages and has, for all these decades, and long before we owned it. We knew about the large catfish and the brim from the beginning. By accident, several years later, we discovered there are large bass as well and so we assume there are other species lurking in the muddy depths yet to be revealed. On warm sunny days, turtles line up on the banks to catch some rays. Frogs, of all kinds, lurk in and around the lily pads waiting for a dragonfly or some other bug to get within tongue-flick range. But the frogs are fair game for the hawks and the crane who also eats the unlucky bass fry that flit too close to the shore. The bass that survive fryhood slurp up the tadpoles and so the story rewrites itself every day. 

The Canadian geese are abundant and nest around the pond in the spring, the choicest spot being on the island in the middle, and raise their young, unless their eggs are raided in the dark of night by the raccoon or the goslings are scooped out of the water by a crow or hawk. In this drama no animal is dominant, not even the hawk; there’s a circuitous natural law that governs the population of the pond. 

We watch the melodrama from front row seats on our back deck; it never gets old. It’s the best kind of reality show with something new added every day. Sometimes a new creature will appear, like the all white snow goose that melded with the resident geese shortly after a huge storm. We assumed he was thrown off course and landed here, forever separated from his flock. Occasionally something peculiar shows up and I have to do a search online to find out what it is, which leads me on a quest to find more information about the inhabitants of our pond. Killdeer lay their mottled eggs in the open on the grassy slope. How do they survive? Truth is they don’t always. But those that do go on to play their roles like all the other performers.

Sometimes the drama is brutal and it’s hard to watch but we choose not to interfere with the natural narrative. A mortally wounded gosling languishes until it is snatched up by a hawk. Robin triplets, mouths open all day being fed by busy parents are gone without a trace the next day; dinner for the hawk’s brood perhaps? A black snake finds a duck’s eggs hidden in the rushes. A crow snaps up a snake. And a tiny brave warrior bird deters a hawk, five times its size, from taking too many goslings.

And so it goes, and so it goes.

The ongoing tale of the pond, original every day but forever the same, is a revelation of God’s perfect order. God issued the natural order but mankind, in great awe of its own intelligence, has determined that God does not know best how to run things. And that is the consensus from those who actually believe there is a God. He did a pretty good job designing it all but, really, things could be improved. So man, in his arrogant greatness, has managed to pollute and interfere with natural order, to disrupt, rearrange, manipulate and reengineer what was absolutely perfect. 

The way things are going, with great intelligent minds working so diligently to usurp God in every way possible, I fear one day, the smoke on the water will not be a gentle mist, but something much more sinister. And then the story will change–forever.

For Christ,

 (Genesis 1:20) And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  (1:21) And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good.  (1:22) And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Breaking News

This is incredibly bad, really, really disturbing breaking news. There’s nothing to do but report it and, hopefully, if we spread the word, avert complete disaster for an important American icon.

Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked into. The demented perp posted obscene messages gets worse...posted the McDonald’s logo! BK was forced to suspend their Twitter account. What else could they do?

Yes, I know this is probably rocking your world, and, again, all I can say is we need to band together to expose this reprehensible act and shout it out to the world. Clearly, Burger King is now dangerously teetering on the precipice of its Brand being forever tarnished. Who knows where this could lead? How could this happen? I mean, really, if you think about it any reasonable Twitter-er who frequents the dynamic Burger King Twitter exchange should be highly suspicious of activity like this but nowadays you just can’t count on people being reasonable. You simply cannot mess round with a company’s Brand which is, as anyone knows, sacrosanct. 

I know if I had a Twitter account and I had spent hours tweeting about BK’s Whopper with other Twitterites, I’m sure I’d be shocked and disappointed to see bad words and the competition’s logo. And indeed, I might pause and wonder, I might say, “Hey, wait a minute...that doesn’t look right! Why would BK do something like that?” And then, getting a righteous head of steam up,  I might get incensed and offended. I might want to shoot off a nasty tweet to the nasty corporation that dared to post such nastiness. Yeah, and and and I might post that I AM NEVER GOING TO BUY ANOTHER WHOPPER!!! and I’d have some characters left so I might tweet something else, I don’t know what, I am so mad I can’t think right now.

Where was I? Oh, yes, we have a moral obligation to protect the Brand of corporate entities we support and talk about incessantly in our social media with our friends, neighbors and complete strangers, so please pass it on. The future of Burger King, nay even the world, depends on us.

Stay tuned for further updates.



For Christ,

(2 Corinthians 6:14) Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness?  (6:15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?  (6:16) And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (6:17) Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Way back in 1999 I wanted to learn how to create websites. I optimistically bought a copy of HTML For Dummies and two pages in realized that HTML Speak was not a language I could learn without a one-on-one instructor. It had to be someone who knew HTML coding but was also familiar with a MAC, which back then was something of a challenge to find. But, fortunately, an IT consultant whom my husband used in his business turned out to be the man for the task. By the end of three weeks and a total of nine hours of intense personalized tutoring, I was ready and able to code together simple websites. For awhile, as I tested out my newly acquired skills, I knew just enough to be dangerous. 

In those days, a new software, Dreamweaver, had just begun to make significant waves in web design circles. Dreamweaver 2.0 was the next big thing, and, in the beginning, was more design-side oriented than code-based, thus it was simple and even non-geeks like I could use it. In fact, you could only see the design and if you wanted to work on the code you had to copy/paste your work into another program–BBEdit. But eventually the upgrade to 3.0 made it possible for the designer to work both in the design and the code, visible side by side. Whoo-hoo!

Let’s fast forward fourteen years to the here and now and marvel at how fast things have evolved, how complex and dynamic the programs have become, how the changes, which come almost monthly now, not only do not always make things easier or better, they often cause more problems and slow down design work. Why? That’s the question I’d like answered. Call me a cynic but sometimes I think the best, most accurate answer is just to maintain job security for software designers. Creating a program that works well and does the job and can effectively do the job for quite some time leaves software geeks with time on their hands. Thus we have weekly upgrades and changes, many of which require another learning curve and more updating of other software to keep everything compatible.  Where does it end? When the upgrades must be done every morning before you can begin your work? Twice daily, then hourly? 

Is hyper-mode really better?  

I’m still designing and maintaining websites but I am considered an old-timer now. I’ve  kept up with and followed all the little rabbit trails for the past fourteen years. The flash and dash, the animated gifs, through the evolution from frames to tables to divs. I’ve sliced and diced code to coax pixels into doing all manner of fancy visual effects. Through it all I’ve managed to stay afloat on the tsunami wave of innovation and lots and lots of change. 

But in spite of all the technological transmutations there is one thing that has remained the same for me and I am now clinging to it like a life-raft: simple is still best. Simple works. Simple is clean and user-friendly. The one solid, non-negotiable function any website should have is known as the Two-Click-And-Done rule that allows the user to be able to get to the information desired in two clicks. And that should be the ultimate goal of any good website designer. Trending, current, cutting edge–these are terms that reflect a modern view but do not necessarily insure best practice.

The irony is so thick here you could build a battleship. In spite of all the hoopla and clever name tags for all the emerging scripts and elements, and rationale for each and all of them, that the designer can incorporate into a web page, simple still works best. And, amazingly enough, even works well across all the different platforms and devises as well. But for those who have been dazzled by the shiny message and are determined that the only way is the newest way, the concept of simple is just a bunch of dumb old trees blocking the view of the enchanted forest. 

One could always ask first, does it work? But apparently, if it isn’t today’s latest edition, it needs to be changed/updated/revised/converted. Huffing and puffing, and peddling as fast as one can, that’s still a tall order, even for the young and vigorous. Don’t misread me, I am not opposed to change and growth and innovation, so long as it adds to, rather than subtracts from the ultimate goal. Change as the only goal rarely adds anything and often creates more problems than it solves. While there are many good reasons to refresh and renew now and again, none of these include change merely for the sake of change.

If I was looking to make this into an analogy, I’d say modern Christianity has followed a strikingly similar course right along with technology. If it isn’t the latest/greatest, the most up-to-date, exciting, invigorating, most revised version of the Gospel, then it needs to be upgraded. It needs to be optimized to make it fit and cover the most number of ways it can be accessed. 

On all levels I think this is a bad sign that speaks to a world on a runaway train. Simple, even if it still works well, is rapidly being replaced in the modern world, whether we’re talking about the secular or the spiritual side. Simple is nearing irrelevance in this time when constant change is the focus and more important than substance and function. 

For Christ,

(Hebrews 13:8) Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and to-day, [yea] and for ever.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Evil Is As Evil Does

evil |ˈēvəl|

1 an evil deed: wicked, bad, wrong, immoral, sinful, foul, vile, dishonorable, corrupt, iniquitous, depraved, reprobate, villainous, nefarious, vicious, malicious; malevolent, sinister, demonic, devilish, diabolical, fiendish, dark; monstrous, shocking, despicable, atrocious, heinous, odious, contemptible, horrible, execrable; informal lowdown, dirty. ANTONYMS good, virtuous.

A re you as confused as I am? What is evil? What does evil look like? Do we even know anymore in this culture where good is bad and bad is good? Where vampires, witches, warlocks and demons like Hell Boy are admired as heroes. Where raging narcissism is the new normal. Where the core family unit, a concept which has been the foundation of all successful civilizations, is mocked and vilified. Where abortion is a demanded right and the basest, most vile, contemptible behavior is celebrated as “diverse” and promoted as entertainment. Where up is down and down is up and everything is relative.

It would seem the natural progression would be to redefine evil in the dictionary to better represent the new paradigm but that won’t be necessary because who uses a dictionary anymore? And, anyway, evil has successfully infiltrated every nook and cranny of life in such a clever way that no one has noticed the subtle shift between good and bad, right and wrong. Evil’s minions seem to be revved up to a frenzy and working overtime in every angle, easily tapping into the feel-good side of human weakness from crack houses to mega-churches.

Who cares? Everyone is so happily distracted by “sharing” and connecting and texting and keeping up with the Kardashians, no one has noticed that evil officially has the upper hand–for now. But life is good, you know. Oh sure, relationships are impossible and breaking up by texting is the new standard. More people are alienated from each other and “de-friending” is the cutting edge insult. Obsession is a perfume. Health, fitness, and beauty are billion dollar demi-gods. Lies are better received than truth and one can say anything so long as it sounds like good is perceived to be and it doesn’t mention Christ Jesus. Everything that isn’t illegal is mandatory and thinking, not just doing, counter to the mainstream consciousness is a hate crime. 

And Evil looked at the progress, smiled and said, “It is good. I am good.”

Welcome to our brave new world. Where depravity, addiction, perfectionism, sexual deviations, religious legalism, oppression, bondage, greed, persecution, subjugation, domination, and general godlessness prevails. 

So, what does the new face of evil look like if it can’t be a blood-sucking vampire? Does it have grotesque features and pointy teeth dripping with blood?  It is repugnant and revulsive? Does it growl and roar?

Not hardly, that’s the stuff of fiction. True evil whispers and coos. Evil is a shape-shifter that knows how to dress itself in light and goodness. Evil convinces there is no such thing as evil. Evil coaxes and confirms that anything and everything is okay. Love is the thing but what is love? Evil says everything is good and love means doing what feels good to oneself; what self wants, self can have. Evil says there is no such thing as sin, so what is there to repent of? Evil says that the best way to bring others into the light is to compromise and get rid of all the unpleasant rules that make people uncomfortable. Evil says, embrace the goodness of SELF. Evil says, no one will perish because God is good and a good God would never let that happen. Evil says we are all gods and each a part of the great everything god. Evil promises that the world can at last become Utopia when everyone accepts his/her godship and evolves into worshippers and doers of love.  

Evil also whispers, “Thou shalt not surely die. Thou shalt not surely suffer. Thou shalt not be held accountable.”  Welcome to the not so brave new world where Evil is allowed to have its way with us–for now. Evil has a history though, if one wanted to pay attention. Evil destroys everything it touches and does so with the sweetest most pleasant deception. 

Perhaps a new entry in the Webster's Dictionary should say: "Evil is as Evil does. Ignore this at your own peril."

For Christ,

(2 Corinthians 11:13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ.  (11:14) And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.  (11:15) It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Love Story

(Mark 10:6-9) But from the beginning of the creation, Male and female made he them.  (7) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife;  (8) and the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two, but one flesh.  (9) What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  

On February 7, 1986, a man and woman braved the threat of a winter storm and eloped to the quaint mountainous town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Snow or no snow, it was the only weekend either could take this giant leap so they decided it was do it or wait which would further complicate already complex circumstances. They got a license from the historic county court house and walked across the street to the Photo Emporium. They had a three o’clock appointment with the proprietor who was also an ordained minister but sleet had already begun to blow in and they hoped they could get in earlier and back down the mountain ahead of the predicted snow and ice. 

There was another couple in the process of being joined in marriage so they sat and watched. The newlywed tossed her flowers to the waiting bride, unzipped the wedding dress and handed it to her. Everyone wished everyone well and the man and woman took their turn under the floral arbor. The minister’s wife snapped a roll of film during the ceremony and handed it to the new Mr. & Mrs. as a wedding gift.  
                                                                  + + +

Some would refer to how this unlikely pair met as luck or happenstance, but, in her heart, the woman knew from the outset that it was a uniquely creative work by the hand of God. Though the man did not claim to be a committed Christian, he was, unknown to himself at the time, an open vessel whom God could easily direct. In other words, he was as wet clay; God’s favorite kind.

He was a semi-confirmed bachelor, she was a single mother. He had a firm grip on his life, she lived day to day knowing that Jesus had the wheel of hers and she was just along for the ride. 

Thus, God determined that these two should be together in spite of what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. When the casual acquaintance quickly turned to the possibility of long-term commitment, she knew she had to be honest with him, tell him her testimony and her knowledge of what she had known all her life that would likely happen in her lifetime. The choice was then his to stay or flee. 

He took it all in stride and signed on without hesitation.

Much can happen in the time frame of just under three decades. Life is tough, on a good day. Moves, relocations to far away places, an unavoidable job related, agonizing separation for thirteen months. The angst-filled teenage years wherein it is a daily toss up whether or not the kids will live to see adulthood, financial struggles, aging parents–married life is mostly an ongoing challenge with a sprinkling of life affirming bright spots, like grandchildren, tossed in now and again to offer a ray of encouragement to carry on. 

But he was a grown-up from the beginning and a man of his word and he signed on, so through it all he stayed. 

He brought to the union good worldly common sense and an inexplicable devotion to her; she brought unwavering devotion to him, family, home and God. Over time he discovered that most of what he thought he had done on his own merit was really God blessing him for being pliable to His will.  And he, having a mature ego, accepted that. It is his most outstanding character trait. He is a rare individual in this day of self-serving interest. He has all the same instincts anyone should have in regards to self-preservation, but protecting his ego is not his first priority and therefore, for that reason, the good things he is able to accomplish, those whom he is able to help, whenever he is the champion of the moment, all comes down to emotional maturity and selflessness. 

This is a love story but it is a cautionary tale as well that exemplifies what to look for and even wait for when choosing a mate. Less can never be more. The most common reason that relationships fail in this era of immature self-centeredness is because when the child in self never grows up, there is no fertile ground for the seeds of mature love to take root, grow and bloom. When each party is determined to maintain the love of self first and at all costs, each remains rigid and cannot bend or flex with the winds of difficulty. 

Nowadays physical attraction and/or self-determined life plans take precedence over love and then those elements that should be the building blocks of real love are neatly compartmentalized. If these will not conform to schedules, habits, established disciplines and preferences, if they can’t be divided into manageable portions, easily filed and appropriately considerate of individual self-interests, a huge void grows instead of real abiding love; the void pretends to be love but is really only a cheap, empty substitute that is doomed to implode at the first little breeze of conflict of interests. 

Abiding, unselfish love is the foundation for long-term relationships and is established first in respect, each one for the other; each being curious and willing to find out what the other needs to feel loved. Without this willingness to step outside of ego, to set aside self need in order to lift up the needs of the other, love will simply wither from malnutrition. It cannot be one-sided either; it must be equally, willingly given so that when one sags or stumbles the other reaches out to hold everything up. Back and forth, each passes the load, from the one who is weakened in the moment to the one who can be strong enough to take up the slack. Thusly they share the burden together so that it is only half as heavy. 

This is the synergy of genuine, sustaining love, each partner compromising enough, contributing to the whole that then becomes greater than the sum of its parts. 

This is a true love story, though, not simply because the man and woman love each other, regardless what life throws at them, but because they both accepted the responsibility to stand together, against all odds, when they recognized that God had blessed them with the mandate, however difficult it might be from time to time. 
Though they do love each other and never allow a day to pass without saying it, more importantly they show each other in a thousand unspoken ways. The woman loves the man for many reasons and thanks God for him every day especially because he stepped up, hung in and has made a positive difference in so many lives.  

And because he still knows how to make her laugh.

She just wanted him to know.

For Christ,

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!’  
    ~ Robert Browning

Sunday, February 3, 2013


(Daniel 3:16-18) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter.  (3:17) If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king.  (3:18) But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Have you been taught to pray as though God is either a wish-granting Genie, or gracious grandfather benefactor? We are told that we should boldly ask for whatever we think we want and then wait for it, believing we will get it. “Ask and ye shall receive” is the most often quoted Scripture in the plethora of religious self-help books that delineate the simple steps you can take to realize everything you have ever wanted. While this is the underpinning of the prosperity message, it’s also taken to another extreme, in some religious circles, as the definition of “having faith”–believe enough and ye will receive. 
However, if what we ask for does not materialize, this same doctrinal creed will defend its position by claiming that we did not receive because we did not have enough faith, and that’s why our loved one died or we didn’t get the job we wanted. It wasn’t God’s will, it was our lack of faith. 
This is where the limits of human understanding and skewed interpretation of Scripture let us down, and keep us at arm’s length from the simple liberating truth. Unfortunately, this also fails God as well, confining Him within the humanistically myopic boundaries we establish to keep Him neatly contained and thus easier for us to comprehend. 
At issue here is the draconian dogma of religionists who propose to define God for us, who draft lists of what we must and must not do in order to stay on God’s good side so that we can remain afloat above hard times, avoiding the trials and tribulations of life on earth and “prosper” because that is what they claim is all God really wants for us. 
This is when the act of “faith” is elevated to idol status and can be purchased by the act of adhering to a check list of devised behaviors or “works”. We are made to believe we can earn our way into favor by simply performing correctly, thereby proving that we have the correct kind of faith so that God will then bless us abundantly.
Eat, don’t eat, celebrate, don’t celebrate, how to dress, how to speak, how to think, how and what day to gather to worship. Worship who/what though? The Leader? The Rules? Performance Faith? This is where the water goes all muddy. Seems to me Christ is somewhat irrelevant in the modern representations of Christianity, whether in formal established denominations or errant off the beaten path fundamentalistic/charismatic incarnations.
If we are to accept modern interpretation, apparently good acting/performing is the key to avoid adversity and reap material blessings. All one must do is look and behave like a Christian. And the new definition of Christian is? Anyone who can successfully appear to be good, appear to say and do the correct things, to have the correct kind of faith, and who faithfully adheres to the list, the creed, the rules and forks over 10% of net. The problem is, where is Christ in all this good acting? When did the focus shift from what He wants for us to the importance of us, our performance, and heart’s desires? 
When we are looking through clear water we see that faith is believing that, no matter what, He knows what is best for us. Even Jesus prayed, “...not my will but thine...”. He understood, there in the quiet anguish of Gethsemane, that, though His fleshly desire would be to willingly skip the tribulation that loomed ahead, He knew His Father’s will was better. 
Are we grateful He didn’t argue, whine, wail and moan about what He had to endure...for us? 
In the simplest of terms, a “Christian” is one who trusts/believes that Christ and His will for us is where our heart’s desires should be; believing that by His strength, that we can freely draw upon, even in the worst of circumstances, is all we really need no matter what we think we want. When you truly understand this, you will never have to float above adversity because He will keep you shored up even in the middle of adversity. True faith is about Him not us.
Conclusion: There is no better place to be than in His will. If you didn’t get what you thought you wanted, thank Him.
“God can do it, but if He doesn’t, He is still my God. I will bow to no idol.”…Blessed are the saints of the If Nots!” ~Vance Havner

(John 16:33) These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
 The peace beyond all understanding comes not from getting what you asked for, but accepting that God knows better than you what you should have, even when it means passing through adversity to end up with what you didn’t know you needed.  ~T. Glady

For Christ,