The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

While I'm on the subject...

clean kitchen; new dish drainer from ikeaImage by cafemama via Flickr

So many dish washing memories are coming to the surface.

When I was a kid (number 6 out of 8) there were always a lot of dishes to wash, and we each had to take our turn being in charge of that chore. It seems that the one around 10 years old was responsible for the task, and of course, there always was someone around that age.
I kind of think that I probably got really gypped by this system. When I was 10, there were still 4 or 5 older siblings in the house, and two younger ones! By the time Barb (the youngest) was 10, who was around to make dirty dishes? Not too many!
The up side to that problem was that I got to practice my engineering skills to the max. Let me tell you, the dish drainer did NOT look like the picture here! 10 place settings plus all of those serving bowls and pots and pans? It was a veritable mountain of delicately balanced trip wires. With a well thought out foundation of plates and bowls, one could achieve quite the megalith. Pity the poor kid who was assigned to disassemble the monstrosity, though he could use this training to be on the bomb squad!

Once that intricate pile was established, however; I found it to be a great place to send in the troops. Dozens of my little green army men could find refuge in there, scouting and taking aim over the low country of the mesa (table) far below. They were perfectly safe in there until some uncaring troll of a sibling came along and reduced their sanctuary to orderly stacks of plates and bowls!

Ah, the good ol' days!
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Ok, the coast is clear...

Dirty DishesImage by eiratansey via Flickr

Did I say that I love to wash dishes? I did. So now I'll have to explain.

I like any job that lets me take it from chaos to order, from messy to neat, or from dirty to clean. There's just so much satisfaction in such a process! Washing dishes (by hand of course) is the prime example. The used dishes are a dirty, disorderly pile of germs and useless clutter, but within short order can be transformed into a ready stack of practical, hygienic utensils.

The real value in all of this for me is the analogy potential. I think about washing, and what it means, and what it means for me. Washing, according to merriam-webster(definition 6a in the link below), is separating.

When I apply soap and water to a dirty plate the stuck on foodstuff gets separated, and goes down the drain. So as I wash, I think about how Christ separates my sin from my spirit! It is said that we are 'washed in the blood'. My first thought there has always been 'yuck!'. Wouldn't all that blood just make you stained red? And that's not very clean. But when an ore is 'washed' in a chemical bath the valued mineral is separated out while the washing agent flows away with the waste.
The same holds true for we who submit to being 'washed in the blood'. It is only the shed blood of the sinless Savior that has the capacity to separate the dirt of my sin from the image of God created in me. The blood doesn't just pour over me and soak me till I'm stained red; it does a separating, and thus saving, work in me that makes me new and prepared to go into God's presence.
So yeah. I like to wash dishes. But I would also like you to wash the dishes!
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Saturday, July 18, 2009


CalvinImage via Wikipedia

OK, question. IF REAL magic/sorcery existed... Could it, would it "save" the world? No more hunger, no more genecide, no more misery?

No, this question wasn't directly directed to me, but I thought I'd steal it and attempt a good answer. My nephew posed it on Facebook and most of the answers were some form of 'NO'.

My answer also was no, and I will explain.
First of all I would define 'real magic/sorcery'. The real part simply separates out the fictional. And if this question was inspired by the latest Harry Potter movie, then we all know what that's about. Mysterious powers using mind over matter; telekinesis, levitation, transmogrification (to borrow a term from Calvin and Hobbes), etc. We might enjoy seeing it portrayed with special effects technology in the movies, but then there are still claims of genuine sorcery out there. But how can it be? Where does it come from?

Even fictional magic must have an explanation behind it. Usually, however, the answers referred to in the books and movies are about the same as the ones given in real life: vague and mysterious. The 'underworld' or the 'dark side of the force' seem to get a lot of credit. The word occult itself means hidden doesn't it? So the mystery itself, it would seem, is intentional.

In my view, we live in a supernatural world. It was created by a being, God, who is above and beyond our everyday, 'natural' world. In fact, there is no ultimate 'natural' explanation for our existence or that of the solid objects around us other than that we and they were created 'ex nihilo', out of nothing, by a super (above) natural God. For that to happen, then, there must be some type of 'magic' or 'sorcery' if we define these as the ability to interfere with, or interrupt, the natural, physical laws we find so otherwise resolute. These powers are safe in God's hands.

When God intervenes in our world, it is always for our good, and usually in answer to a prayer made according to His preexisting good will. So if we see evidence of some good outcome where only bad was expected, or even already established, we call that a miracle, and we give God the positive credit. We don't call that magic, or sorcery, because it was God acting like Himself.

Magic can be defined as man's attempt at imposing a godlike power on a situation or circumstance but without the agreement or support of God. Rebellion against God, refusing to obey His simple instructions for our own good, is one thing. Usurping His authority and trying to control nature as if one were God, is quite another step down that dangerous road.

So what follows when a man tries to impose a supernatural effect where it doesn't belong? Bad things only can result. Just as when man attempts to impose an ungodly order on society through politics or tyranny, or when a man uses violence to take what he wants from his neighbor or wife, the sorcerer who hopes to overcome God's order with some form of 'power' will only end up producing suffering and calamity.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Now I get it!

Joe Biden, U.S. Senator from Delaware.Image via Wikipedia

Joe Biden, the Obama administration's automatic gaff machine has done it again. Yesterday he claimed that the US must spend money so crazily to stave off bankruptcy!
Well I finally figured out why he regularly goes out to say such stupid things. He is Obama's number one shield from assassination! Even the most demented killer would think twice before sending Joe Biden into the oval office to set policy for America.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Now you'll never know...

I fixed the typo (the one I noticed) in Michael on Michael, so if you haven't read it before today you will have missed it! THAT is the reason to check in here right away, every day!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blessings and Cursings

Did you ever think that maybe God is serious? Ok, so maybe you don't believe in God at all, but let's just pretend for a second that He is there (after all, He believes in YOU), and that He means what He says...and that everything He ever said or did was with your good in mind. If you're still with me then you have surpassed a lot of supposing barriers that have been unfairly set in your path!
This culture is so good at taking things for granted that we suffer immeasurably and unnecessarily. We too often take a pass on the good things like personal salvation (!), and we absorb the ridiculous, like the junk science of man made global warming (have you even heard that the earth's temperature has not gone up now in 8 years!?).

So let's keep supposing, just for a minute, that God a) exists, b) speaks and c) means what He says. I think that most Christians espouse a and b, but weaken at c. It is very inconvenient to the lazy and the lax, to acknowledge God's Word, and to live accordingly (talk about an 'inconvenient truth'!).

But as long as we're supposing, let's look at Deuteronomy 28, and Mark 14, two chapters I read today. The interesting thing about reading a bit of Old and New Testament together is that since both are from God and both are true, so they often correlate rather nicely.
Deut 28 is about God's blessings and curses. About 15 verses elaborate on how God will Bless Israel if they simply obey His instructions and 'carefully observe' His commands. So much like the way I talked to my kids when I had to teach them about life. And then God spent about 50 verses on the curses; the natural consequences of not following His commands 'carefully'.
He gets very specific but I've copied a few near the end which describe the general result.

Deuteronomy 28
65 .Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.
66. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.
67.In the morning you will say, "If only it were evening!" and in the evening, "If only it were morning!"--because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.

From Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to Hitler and Hamas, Jewish people have suffered so. Remember that as God's chosen people they were to demonstrate for the rest of the world, just who God is, and what He is like. And that God is serious.

Our choices have consequences. The fruit of our disobedience, or outright rebellion against God that we bear during our life on earth (an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart) are not just nothing compared to eternity removed from God's presence. These pains can prompt us to repent, and so return to God for the safety and freedom He wants for us.

Now as to the New Testament correlation I found, it is Jesus Himself who is suffering with the despairing heart, bleeding and dying on the cross. Not because He failed to obey the Father, as we all have, but because He was sacrificed BY the Father as a substitute for us! (The LAMB of God, as it were) On the cross, He suffered through all of the curses designed to prompt our faithfulness, and all of the punishment we deserved for our sinfulness.

Mark 15:33
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ""Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? ""--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Yes. God is serious. Serious about the blessings that come with your obedience. Serious about the pain that follows from walking on your own. Serious about what he would sacrifice to regain your fellowship. Serious about all of the joys and delights He has in store for you.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael on Michael

Two Juglans regia walnuts.Image via Wikipedia

Life is fatal. We are so often bombarded with junk science ideas on how to improve our well being (I saw a whole list of foods that are supposed to benefit particular parts of our bodies based on associated characteristics: walnuts, for example, are encased in a 'skull' and are wrinkly, so they MUST be intended for good brain health. Pomegranates apparently are no good for women because they grow in pairs and are full of tiny seeds!) that we forget the big stuff. Eat well to be sure, but take a pass on the surgical anesthetic before bed and you might at least wake up in the morning!
If we can sort of get along while we are slowly dying, and manage to produce some good fruit that will last beyond our time, and bring some glory (weight!) to God as we go; then good enough. I still like Michael Jackson's early music the best. Rockin' Robin, and ABC were a lot of fun to sing along with. I think he was a great singer, and I found pleasure in recognizing God's gift in his voice.
His childhood, however, was stolen in a way that crippled the rest of his life, it would seem. His life then, is a 'type' of all lives. We are each born having been made 'in the image of God', with a unique mix of His characteristics. But we are also born in a fallen state where our own inherent tendencies detract from the good and drag us toward self centeredness and pride (rejecting of God).
Some lives are lived out in the hinterlands where the simple lack of attention seems to mask this inner drama of life, but some are out in the limelight where the mix of giftedness and depravity are fully revealed. Which aspect of such a public life gets the most public attention reflects more on the nature of the society. Will we honor the talented entertainer despite the apparent pedophelia? Or disparage the selfish reprobate despite his great contribution to a musical genre?
Ultimately God only can judge between what we have done with what we have been given. Some have so much talent and secure upbringing that God expects more than from those who were weakened or damaged by life's trials.
Luke 12:48b
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The moral of the story? When you become the new King or Queen of Pop, don't let it go to your head. Enjoy the prosperity, but give away the excess to do the most good. Do all you do for the glory of God and you'll be able to sleep nights. And if you still die young (yes, 50 is young!), it'll be ok.
I have to work at synopsizing my morals, I know.
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On bringing happiness...

Yesterday I mentioned that somewhere down the line in Deuteronomy there's a verse about the newly married man, and today it was in my scheduled reading! Here it is; better to be quoted distinctly than referred to off the cuff.
  • Deuteronomy 24:5 NIV

    If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

I hadn't remembered that it excused the guy from 'any other duty' as well as from being sent to war!
When Kiki and I were married we had both just started working for a Christian school in Ketchikan Alaska. She worked with the Kindergartners while I was a school bus driver and roving teacher's aide. Anyway, school started about one week before the wedding and Kiki was introduced to the kids as Mrs. Miller to help them avoid unnecessary confusion. We were married then, on September 11 BTW, and I think we got like 3 days off of school.
Seeing as how it was a Christian school, I think I should have taken this verse from Deuteronomy to the board and demanded relief from duty to take my wife home and make her happy, for a year! Oh well.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

AGAIN with the Will Smith??

James Stewart (actor)Image via Wikipedia

Last night we saw The Legend of Bagger Vance, another WS movie. It's fun to be in on the contemporary making of a legend. He will be one of the all time favorite actors for several generations methinks. Not unlike Jimmy Stewart was to his era, WS and TH (Tom Hanks) will go on and on. Smith in particular seems to make a lot of movies with something good to say in them.

This weekend I started to put out the word that I'm here, with perhaps, something good to say (me and Will baby). As I thought about that, I realized that what good I might have to say, by definition, can only be a resaying of something God has already said, or at least implied, in His Word. In fact, Jesus is called THE WORD! A hugely interesting concept in itself.

Well I started a 'Bible in one year' plan in December last, but have not been very disciplined at it. It is July 6 and I am caught up to March 4 only! I decided last night, that before I dare to write anything in a blog, I should at least first read what GOD has to say in what might fairly be referred to as His blog! Especially so in the light of reading a few chapters a day as I intend to do. What 'wisdom' do I have to share that I haven't received from Him? NONE

My program includes about 2 chapters from the OT and 1 from the New. Now I am in Deuteronomy and Mark. Today I read the following from Deuteronmy 20:
  1. The officers shall say to the army: "Has anyone built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may dedicate it.
  2. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it.
  3. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her."
God is elaborating on the best way to manage a society. The '10 commandments' are only the basics. He spends a lot of time on the details as well. I love how He considers the simple things in life to be so important. Houses, fields, and family are to be honored, even by a nation at war, in need of every soldier. I think it was just a little further on that it says a man must not go to war within a year of his marriage, but should stay home and give pleasure to his wife. God thinks of everything!

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

SO glad!

So GLAD to read about this motorcycle crash?
Yes, for yesterday I was driving up 90 north when I saw this conclave coming up behind me. I pulled into the right lane and slowed to about 73 to let them pass without the hassle of swerving traffic issues, and to study the group.
I've never driven one, so the whole motorcycle thing always fascinates me.
I wondered about who would lead etc, and I noticed they were in two nice straight lines, each on the outside of the same lane. There weren't any stragglers or any bikes outside the group.
In the lead (leftmost) was a single guy, and next came couple after couple. I was beginning to wonder about the association between motorcycles and large, bald, tatooed guys with girls when the scene shifted to skinny guys all alone on their bikes, and then single girls all following (chasing?) behind.
Of the couples, I noticed one girl on the back of a smallish bike with her guy, but with just enough room to sit tight and hold on tight. She seemed especially vulnerable to falling off the back and I began to pray for them all.
Total stranger yes, but I saw just another example of we people in our common human condition We try to make the most of life, but we are all 'vulnerable to falling off the back', as it were.
I prayed for their safety in general but within 3 or 4 minutes after they passed on, my attention was grabbed by sudden brake lights just ahead, and mostly black clad people, not in vehicles, rushing about on the highway where I could see between the stopping cars just in front of me.
I remember yelling out "God I just prayed for them!". They were going over 75 mph!
Then I didn't know what to do. I could see bikes in the median, and people rushing around. I looked around my car to see what I had to offer. Nothing. Some band-aids, but what would that do? After only about 3 or 4 minutes, a couple of the bikers started directing traffic around on the right shoulder. This seemed unusual but I went along. I thought I saw 4 or 5 bodies strewn across the lanes as I passed slowly by, stricken and gawky; one was just off the shoulder and it seemed he was totally covered in jackets. Just beyond, the 'surviving' riders were parked on both sides of the highway, standing, watching, and waiting for whatever tally would come. I drove slowly through their ranks and then I began to cry, and to cry out.

What do we get to do with such experiences? The emotion and the pain, even for the stranger such as myself, are too much to live with continually: we must move on. But we must not ignore, or stuff, the facts of life as they are. I think that for his, God gives us lament.
The freedom, the right, the privilege, even sometimes the duty, to cry out to Him and to declare our misery, or our miserable condition, as it sometimes is.
The book of Lamentations is our example for such situations. God wants us to live in the Truth, and acknowledging things as they are, whatever they are, is essential.

At first, I thought people were just hurt, but as time went on I convinced myself by what I had barely noticed, that several people must be dead. And in several phone calls, I said as much. Finally after about 10 hours passed I was able to find this report and discover that none had died, and only one was critically injured! Now, if that one wouldn't object, I will pray for him; for his recovery, for his family, and for his future.

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