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







Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Christmas Dilemma; Defeated!

A friend used to say, perhaps only half jokingly: "Life's a bitch, and then you die."  I say perhaps only half jokingly because within a year or two of his spouting what seemed to be a lighthearted quip, the 28 year old man, in the prime of his life, with a loving wife and two young sons, went out to the beach one night and shot himself.  Overwhelmed by life.  An impending lay off, rainy climate and light deprivation, chemical depression, car troubles, hang nails, sore feet, dirty dishes....whatever.

We all know the joys of life, but the hardships come more continually and in all shapes and sizes.  Tremendously difficult tragedies are rampant and if they are diluted down at all,  it is most often only by the medium mayhems, smaller sadnesses and ongoing obstacles of everyday, day-after-day, life.  If it weren't for the ability to find the bright side and see the glass half full once in a while; and without the near mental demand that we justify our troubles at least by listing hopes, we might all succumb to a night at the beach when the tide is lowest.

Now add the wonder and dread of the aging process to the mix and try not to despair because you will likely outlive your demented Grandparents by 20 or 30 years!  Of course we want to live as long a life as possible, but honestly, even in my 50's I have begun to recognize the inevitable crush of entropy upon my body, and am forced to imagine what its degrading influence will bring with more years.

To maintain a flicker of hope, try not to consider the race going on between our economy and the culture at large.  One is headed for the fiscal cliff (any current arrangement notwithstanding) and the other just might win, going over the moral cliff first, and never to regain what we then might call a high ground of rectitude, self-control and peace.

Even during the Christmas season, when smiles are expected and gifts are generously  given (if not prescribed); when commonly relished songs are beaten to death by planned delight, and white and silver and red and green should magically maneuver our moods, the reality of stress and poverty and disharmony triumphs, and we can only find solace in the lengthening of days.

I love the lengthening days, and have convinced myself that I can measure the nuanced difference by some sixth sense.  But my real comfort works equally well after the summer solstice when the days are shrinking.   This God-given comfort is one that overcomes culture's demands and personal shortfalls; one that holds me close through the hot and humid, the sneezy and rainy, the driving wind and rotten leaves, and even the depths of drifts and frozen finger mornings.  It is the simple birth of the Christmas Baby.

They can take away our manger scenes, and inhibit our "Merry Christmas" greetings all they want.  Friends may fail and brothers may die and joints will creak and groan.  Organs waver after so many years and even our minds may sink into a mire of forgotten recollections, but that baby, that Jesus Christ the Savior did come to us and in a form to which we can all relate.  He does not speak to us as through a vapid speech which may or may not have any truthful intent behind it.  Nor as a teacher, does He feed us facts and figures merely to be tested.  And not even as a dreamed of lover who may never really connect across the divide.

Jesus came to you.  And to you He can relate.  He came as a human being so that you could know, that He would know, what you already know  (That life's a bitch, and then you die.):  But knowing that He understands our plight, we might also believe in His Prescription!   The Good News (the Gospel) is that we can live our lives out despite all the disparaging and discouraging truths we are terribly familiar with, and rejoice in being reconciled to God through the Son!  Though our bodies are literally ravaged by time, we can choose to live renewed and forever with Him!  While our circumstances conspire to steal our happiness, His joy is made complete within, and can not be hindered!  He came, purposefully, that you "might live an abundant life"!

Many people suffer the most during the Christmas season because expectations are driven so high by outsiders, and delivered upon with such reality, by those who are the closest.  Jesus Christ came in the most humble of circumstances, but gave Himself for sinners, the most deserving of piles of coal, and seeks to deliver each of us into the wonder and beauty and glory of an eternal life in God's presence where we will be given imperishable bodies and where there will be nothing to cry about ever again!

My friend's line was understandable as far as he knew then, but a better summation of truth might be more like this: "Life is hard; God is good!"  Let your circumstances rattle and roar.  Let your body wither and die if it will.  But repent today of your own recognized sin and give your heart and life to Jesus Christ for His safekeeping and His good plans.






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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrum Cacophonous Conclusion

Since you endured all 21 Christmas Carol Conundrums, I thought I'd give you number 22 in the original style first established by speakers of real English.  Most of our songs have been dumbed down for the masses, and most people don't even realize that there was a time when language was more precise.  Even our beloved Christmas Carols have been reduced to the point of insulting simplicity.  "Jingle Bells" for example is only the pedestrian version of the original "Tintinabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic resonant cups" we used to sing up in the ivory tower.

So, for all of you Courageous Conquerors of Contemporary Conundrums who deserve a refreshing sample of how we used to sing these songs back in the good old days, may I present........





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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Seven!


In case you are asking yourself; "When will this stupid list ever end?"  I have an answer.  Whether you like it or not, today's post contains the concluding collection of chaotic Christmas Carol Conundrums.  So, whether you like it or not, here they are.  And these are the best!

A classic:

"Proceed forth declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation."

Perhaps you've been waiting for this one, especially celebrated by the secular culture,

"Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic resonating cups."

And finally this sacred lullaby which so embodies the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel!

"In a distant location the existence of an improvised unit of newborn children's furniture."


Well, there is ONE more, but perhaps I will try to compress its embellished verbiage into song and post the video tomorrow!  So, since you will probably not ever come back to MILLERWRITES again, let me say

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!




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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Six!

For extra bonus points, which famous singer of a few decades ago made this song his own?

"In awe of the nocturnal time span characterized by religiosity."

And here is another one I would rather "enjoy" for maybe only two or three days.  Like that's gonna happen!

"Geographic state of fantasy during the season of mother nature's dormancy."

This one should appeal to all of you English majors; if only you would admit who you are!

"The first person nominative plural of a triumvirate of far eastern heads of state."


(Did I mention that, sadly, I did not compose these CCC's?  Only wish I had.  And since I've had this list for a few decades, I have no idea where they came from.)


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Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Five!

This one will chill you good!

"Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals."

And is this your present circumstance?

"Expectation of arrival to populated area by mythical, masculine perennial gift giver."

Or tonight, will you be...

"Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me."?


(Hope not.  I really don't like to shovel!)



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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Four!

Had enough yet?  I don't think you have!

I like this one a lot but it makes me wish all the more that I had come up with these.

"Diminutive masculine master of skincovered percussionistic cylinders."

The unfortunate thing about creativity is that once someone comes up with something, it can never be "come up with" again!  But, we can share right?

"Omnipotent supreme being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males."

And especially for those suffering in Connecticut right now, we all wish them...

"Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere."



Lord, please do pour out a comfort and a peace that can come from nowhere else.  And forgive us our debts.  In Jesus name.






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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Three!

Getting the hang of this puzzle now?

To which orthodox Christmas Carols are the following twisted phrases referring to?

"Twelve o'clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival"

Huh?  No, it has nothing to do with Clementine's coming around a mountain!

What about....

"The Christmas preceding all others"?

Or...

"Small municipality in Judea southeast of Jerusalem"?

Are they getting easier or harder?  Let me know your interpretations as a comment below!







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Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums Two!


Got brains?

Well Merry Christmas, let's see how they're working today!

Here's a Carol we sang in church last week to kick off the season:

"An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere"

That's a tough one to sing in one breath, but this one is a little easier to manage.

"Embellish the interior passageways"

When was the last time you used the word "hearkened" outside of the Christmas season?

"Exalted heavenly beings to whom hearkened"

Can you interpret these titles?  Leave your results in the comment section.






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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Carol Conundrums!

So who is up for some MILLERIFFIC Christmas Caroling?  Not that MILLER thought of these, but he is sharing the fun!


How about let's get together and sing this old favorite?

"Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief"

Or this classic made so infamous in It's a Wonderful Life?

"Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds"

You don't recognize these carols?

Well what about this one?

"Nocturnal timespan of unbroken quietness"

Leave your unwoven song title in the comments below.  We shall see what we shall see.







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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Free Of Me


I stood on top of that hill and watched. It was ice cold and the wind blew strong in my face through the whole day.  Yet I stood still and looked, till the sun set in the west one more time.  As night came on, the last thing my eyes saw through their weak tears was that my hands had turned blue, and I found that my legs ached and were stiff with frost.

She had not come back, nor would she, this time.  Filled with gloom and with a shirk of grief I tried to turn and walk back to my "home", which had been turned by me to a real hell.  But I tripped, and fell, and bled.  I fell hard, like a tree that falls to the dread ax, but I was cut by my own ax; I had made it wide and I had honed it so sharp, that once it turned back to meet my roots, I knew that I could stand no more.  I beat my wife once too much and now, in her strength, she was gone.

Laid on the hard rock ground, bared to the now black sky of doom, with no one who should think of me or care for me or save me, I could but wait to die.  I knew that she would soon be free of me.  My one last vain hope was that in death, I, would be free of me.





Did you notice the pattern in this story?  The challenge today was to write something using only one syllable words.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Regarding Rachel Maddow's Rant; Part II

In the previous post on MILLERWRITES, I went through the first 10 of the 18 statements Rachel Maddow made, as given below.  This copy is how it came to me, and this is enough material for me to address without getting too much of a headache; though I have since seen the video where RM goes on from here with a  longer, and continually disjointed speech in which her undying loyalty to Barack Obama's presidency is unwavering.

I will start here with the eleventh statement. 



11
"And nobody is taking away anyone's guns."
TRUE
But is it not clear that liberals/progressives/Democrats want to take away everyone's guns?  Of course they do.  That's what "gun control" is all about, and only so far, has that intent been stymied.  To point out that it is not happening now, as if that means nobody wants such controls to be enforced, is simply dishonest.

12
"And taxes have not gone up."
TRUE
Again Rachel.  Are you suggesting that taxes are not about to rise through the roof?  Now that the election is over, and what people in the know are calling "Taxmageddon" is just around the corner, and Obamacare is soon to be implemented (Such a coincidence that its staggering costs will only become apparent to the masses after the election!), taxes will be going up and up and up.  I gave RM a "TRUE" here, but I also have to give her a "DISHONEST" for the amazing two-sided falsehood she includes.  On one hand, she implies that she believes taxes not going up is a good thing (otherwise, the claim would not be listed here as a reassurance), and on the other hand she knows full well this supposed positive state will not last long.  A truthful dishonesty is a lie.

13
Yipes!  I just went back to the picture above and noticed that I skipped one of RM's "facts".  Sorry about that folks.  Here it is, albeit out of its proper order.

"And Climate Change is real."
TRUE
Not sure why the words are capitalized in the picture, as if "Climate Change" deserved the same respect as a proper proper noun, but that was probably some transcriber's idea, not RM's.

Yes Rachel, climates do change.  That is true.  I remember when global cooling was feared by our best meteorologists.  They tried to teach us that we all would soon be freezing to death.  Too bad they were not smart enough to attach any and all weather phenomenon to their fear mongering as our modern marketers
scientists have done today.  If we had listened to them, perhaps we would have turned up the smokestacks and reduced auto engine efficiency so that the green house effect would save the planet from the looming ice age.

Back to the point.  Is "man made" climate change real?  We know that man made political posturing is real, and man made scientific peer pressure is real, and that man made attempts at economic control are real, but has anyone proven that the minuscule temperature change observed is man caused?  NO.  Average temperatures have gone up and down in cycles for many decades.  The same scientists alarming us now (with political incentive) tell us the earth has been through multiple ice ages.  What caused those many back and forth shifts in climate?  Did someone simply forget to blame mankind for those variations?

Yes, "climate change is real" but just put your coat on or take it off, and you'll be OK.  Don't let them get you with the old "bandwagon fallacy".

14
"And the deficit is dropping, actually."
WHAT?
I don't know what she is talking about here except for the small blip on the graph, but I'm impressed with the ending qualifier; "actually".  That's like the "actually" a fifth grade liar tacks on to his lie about whether he did his homework.  He thinks it makes the blatancy of his claim more credible, but it just draws attention.

Again RM suggests that she believes lowering the deficit is a good thing, but would she not advocate for everything "worthwhile" like Big Bird being federally funded, even IF he (she?) effected the deficit upward?
If in fact the deficit is dropping (and how in fact can it be measured since the country has been working without a budget to measure it by?), isn't that only accomplished by raising the national debt?  Actually?

[Another point:  If the small drop in the deficit is reassuring enough that we can continue with our present economic leadership's policies, then why turn the world upside down over the minor changes we see in the climate?]

15
"And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction."
UNKNOWABLE
You can not prove a negative.  Such WMDs were not found when we searched Iraq, this is true.  But much evidence remains that they were there. Ask the poisoned Kurds what they think.  One Iraqi General testified that they were transferred to Syria just before our invasion.

Even so, I would call RM's reference to this subject very childish.  Are there people using Saddam's WMDs as evidence that Obama did not win Ohio?  What is the connection here?

16
"And the Moon landing was real."
TRUE
Again with the capital!  Oh well.
And again with the weird reference.  Is she seriously associating the kooks who suggest the moon landing was a fake with those many world wide intelligence services who concluded that Iraq had WMDs?  I wish I were more up on identifying logical fallacies, but even though I don't know all their names, I do recognize their faces, and this type of argument is in the fallacy of relevance family.

17
"And FEMA is not building concentration camps."
PROBABLY TRUE
If I were to give this one a TRUE I would be violating my own stated principle that one can not prove a negative.  But, FEMA is probably not building concentration camps anyway (If they were, they would probably be unsafe!).

This is still another fallacy of relevance that RM is using to control the reaction of her audience.  This type of ad hominem attack on all who are not her backers should be shunned as divisive and bullying.

18
"And UN election observers are not taking over Texas."
TRUE
And I would wish them luck if they did try some kind of actual military type "take over", as RM is reprehensibly suggesting is the topic.  When noting that the UN did actually send observers to watch polls, did someone say they were "taking over Texas"?  I don't think so.  And if such a phrase was used, did it not simply mean that the UN was confronting the state's (and the country's) sovereignty in an unprecedented and offensive manner?  And that none of us should abide such actions?

If so, then isn't RM denying, or seeming to deny the validity of such objections?  I would rather hear someone discuss the facts and reveal his/her stand, than see them leave such uncomfortable implications on the table.

19
"And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism."
TRUE
But Rachel, though I give you credit for making a TRUE statement, you must give me credit for recognizing the straw man nature of the statement.  You use the word "moderate" as if that were the same word we would all use to describe new regulations imposed by this administration.  It is not.  You set up a moderate straw man, so that you can knock it down in public, but others are trying to address the very liberal, and yes, communistic (overreaching, unreasonable, government controlled) regulations that take too much management authority away from individuals.  Your tone is derisive and dismissive of real concerns held by people who would rather discuss real time effects of overblown regulations, but it seems you would rather shut them up by misrepresenting their concerns.  If I may be so bold, I would say, that's not very nice.



Thanks for wading through all this with me.
To all who hold to the idea that Rachel Maddow is like the Queen of intelligent argument, and that her views are unassailable, I don't get it.  She is likely convinced of her own positions because of such fallacious thinking as is represented here, but I suggest that we should be able to identify such weaknesses and find a better path to a better discussion.

By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

About Rachel Maddow's Careless Rant


A friend of mine recently reposted the following statement by Rachel Maddow on her Facebook page and I, as is my wont, had to chime in on its legitimacy.  Not that Rachel can't say anything she wants to, legitimately, but that this list was given over as "Rachel Rocks the Facts".  A legitimate list of "facts", it is not.  Rather than go back and forth bothering a FB friend about something she was so excited about (She deserves to be happy that the candidate she fought for won the election!), I thought I would generalize my views to a larger audience (?) and get specific about Rachel Maddow's "facts" here, on MILLERWRITES.



1
"Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win."
TRUE
Perhaps she is alluding to the way Karl Rove embarrassed himself on Fox News by second-guessing the decision desk at Fox.  They gave the Ohio race, and thereby the national victory, to Obama when only 75% of the votes in that vital state were reported, and Rove made a point of arguing they may have jumped the gun.  Fox decision desk was right.  Ohio went for Obama, and so he held the Presidency.

2
"And he really was born in Hawaii."
GRANTED
Only a few kooky people think this is a big issue.  Instead of being careful who she paints this kooky color, RM is using a broad brush to paint as many political opponents as possible with a tinge of absurd.  That is weak, and certainly unfair.

3
"And he really is legitimately president of the United States again."
TRUE
Of course, if someone was not born in the US, as the Constitution requires, he would not be a "legitimate" president right?  Let's be careful that we don't ignore or dismiss that legal test in the future.  Or, let's change the Constitutional guidelines so that whatever new guidelines we deem appropriate are in place and enforced.

4
"And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month."
GRANTED
Nor did they this month, when it went back up a tenth, to make it higher than it was when Obama took office.  (What exactly did he do well for us, again?  And how will his policies be different/better this time around?)

5
"And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy."
SO?
What is the point of picking the view of one source to reference, Rachel?  Why not instead try to refute the specific evidence in history, when it has been done?  JFK cut taxes, and Federal revenues multiplied.  Ronald Reagan, did the same thing and had the same result.  Citing a negative ("...can find no evidence that...") is meaningless.

6
"And the polls were not skewed to over sample Democrats."
RIGHT / WRONG
As I understand it, many polls did over sample Democrats, on the assumption that an overabundance of Democrats would turn out to vote again in 2012.  Most conservative analysts thought THAT was the critical "skew" that would surprise the pollsters when the results came in.  SURPRISE!  The pollsters guessed correctly and the conservative/hopeful/optimistic pundits were wrong.

7
"And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad.  Nate Silver was doing math."
PASS
I do not have any knowledge of Nate Silver or of what was said about him, nor about his math skills.  I would surmise, however, that this relates to number 6 above.  Yes, conservatives (mostly) got projections and predictions all wrong.

8
"And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes"
OF COURSE
Todd Akin's foolish comment was obviously foolish to all (except him, even when confronted by the absurdity of his idea and challenged to withdraw by every conservative who could get his ear).  If he did have to say something about rape and abortion in this campaign season which was actually focused on the fiscal cliff that is looming, he might have been better off to stick with more solid facts.  For example: A pregnancy represents an independent life.  The little person's conception circumstance does nothing to change his or her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Romney's pandering notwithstanding, children conceived and born, even through rape, should be allowed to live.

9
"And evolution is a thing."
WOW
(And I saw many comments left by people who are in awe of RM's great intelligence!!)
Who could disavow this profound claim?  Yes, evolution IS a thing.  But what is it Rachel?  I do think I know what it actually is.  It is a theory.
Perhaps you meant to suggest that evolution is an absolute, set in stone, scientifically proven fact of life.  Perhaps you meant that, but I don't want to insult your intelligence.  It's still just a theory.  And as time passes, its proponents are weakening and its detractors are gaining a larger thoughtful support.  Ask yourself this question:  Can I name ONE thing about the theory of evolution that has been scientifically established as an absolute fact?  (Not, "what one thing is asserted or claimed or surmised")

10
"And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us."
RIGHT / WRONG
This one makes my blood boil!
Thank you RM, for correcting the President.  He claimed repeatedly that this was not a terrorist attack on us on 9/11, but stated that it was a simple protest in the street by some people who were upset about a movie trailer that had been online for months!  And you are right again.  The terrorist attack on the consulate and the CIA annex were NOT "a scandal by us."  If you want to parse words, fine.
But now that you are on a roll, you might pause to describe the administration's decisions BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the attack as being rife with scandal!
Only a determined ideologue, and not an intelligent, unbiased journalist, could refuse to acknowledge this truth.  But a good journalist will go on to seek answers no matter which vested interest they impugn. Will your admirers remember your trite belittling of these events when the questions do get answered?




Well, there are eight more "facts" in this list to be addressed, but this post is getting long so I will break my answers into two blog posts.  The rest seem to be made up of simple insinuations of the type that would offend any one trying to carry on a reasonable argument, and should betray only weakness of position.
Like if you were just about to prove that your Father's car has more doors than my Father's, and I said "But your Mother wears army boots!"  But I will look closer at those later.

Thanks for coming by MILLERWRITES.  I hope you leave a comment.





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Sunday, November 4, 2012

About the Coming Black Exodus from the Democratic Party

Should a penguin give up his tuxedo to come to your casual party?
Would you have a leopard remove his spots if they clashed with your furniture?
Could you expect a tree to exchange its leaves for feathers, under mere pressure to conform?

Should a Christian give up his Bible to support your political party?
Would you have a believer leave his doctrine at the door because you deemed it intolerant?
Could you expect a marriage to exchange its defining attribute for meaninglessness, under mere pressure to conform?

This is my simplistic attempt to rephrase the amazingly powerful statements of EW Jackson, on why Christians of all colors, shapes and sizes should leave the Democratic party "en mass".  I hope you watch this for yourself, and see why Christians and Jews, especially African Americans, should not tolerate what that party has done to them.






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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stretching Question Five...of FIVE!



Every day in the shipyard workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch". Along with dozens of other fitters, and a contingent of invading welders, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day.  A QUESTION FIVE always comes to my mind on these occasions.  Finally, I am now getting around to expounding on this question.

Please read about QUESTIONS ONE ,TWOTHREE, and FOUR before going on.

MY QUESTION FIVE:

"How can I do whatever I do today for the glory of God?"

This question is based on an important Bible verse found in First Corinthians chapter 10.  Verse 31 says:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the                                 glory of God.

Yes, the shipyard's FOUR QUESTIONS are all important, and worth thinking about during the work day, but one might argue that they (and many others) are wrapped up and covered by my QUESTION FIVE.  How could I mistakenly hurt myself or my partner or our equipment or waste time, if I am deliberately working to honor my God all day long?  

This reminds me of the fact that the further people move from God's simplest instruction to "love your neighbor as yourself", or even away from His basic 10 commandments, the more detailed and picayune our self regulating rules must become.  In the wake of the Sandusky abuse case, Penn State just came out with new rules for the whole collegiate staff.  Now, each member is officially required (contractually!) to be sensitive and care about others!    And Florida now legally requires allegations to be reported to authorities instead of a school staff trying to deal with them in house. Oh good! (Perhaps the authorities will actually make a difference instead of as the courts did in Brookfield Wi. where a man actually violated a restraining order and killed his wife and two other women in a day spa.)

If only Mike McQueary or Joe Paterno or Graham Spanier had my QUESTION FIVE in hand, or, God's verse 31 above in mind, when deciding what to do about what was going on in the locker room.  Not to mention the self control possibly gained by Sandusky himself if he were committed to following Paul's teaching to the Corinthians.

But should I, for consistency sake, convert QUESTION FIVE to the same negative format used in the other questions?  Something like:  "How can I do everything I do today without ever considering God's foundational role and vital importance in my life?  Yes, I think I should.  For consistency sake (if not for brevity), and to make it much easier to demonstrate how we typically and actively disdain God's rightful place, or apathetically ignore His relevance every day.

So while you are stretching out that spine to one side and then the other, ask yourself QUESTION FIVE today.

"How can I do everything I do today without ever considering God's foundational role and vital importance in my life?

I could be planning how to spend my paycheck instead of noticing that the crane is swinging a load over my head.
I could think about my coming sandwich while my partner's pant leg bursts into flame.
I could let my grinder fall and break another $10.00 wheel. 
I could be thinking about where I'm going to hide until break time today.

I could stand and listen, even though I can tell the joke being told is about to go raunchy.
I could turn and walk away, even though a guy just mentioned his looming divorce.
I could ignore the guy eating his lunch all alone, again.
I could be ashamed of the Gospel, pretending that my life as a believer makes no difference.
I could complain about the long day, the weather, the boss, management and/or my wife.
I could decry Mondays and celebrate only "hump days" and Fridays.

I could make sure Saturdays and Sundays are all about me.
I could focus on myself for the rest of my life, and still hope to commune with God comfortably for eternity.

[Ouch.  It was way too easy to come up with these answers to QUESTION FIVE!]

What does "glory" mean anyway?  Not bright lights and angels singing.  Glory means weight.  To give God glory means to recognize and proclaim that He is IMPORTANT.  That His existence has MATTER, or does MATTER.  

I check my various pockets in a little patting routine before I leave the house every day:  Cell phone? Pat; Wallet? Pat; Keys? Pat.  And I perform a conscious survey of the rest of my VITAL requirements:, boots, proper clothes, LUNCH BOX.  These are all weighty considerations, because I can't get to, get into, or perform my work if one of these is missing.  But most importantly, do I have the right attitude ready?  Instead of being anxious, am I trusting God?  Am I dreading another day of hard work, or looking for opportunities to serve and minister to people God loves?  Will I come home worn and selfish, or ready to bless my family with grace?  Will "whatever I do" be an affront to my God, or lift up His name?

  



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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stretching Question Four...of Five



Every day in the shipyard workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch". Along with dozens of other fitters, and a contingent of invading welders, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day.  A QUESTION FIVE always comes to my mind on these occasions.  I will get to that in good time.

Please read QUESTIONS ONE ,TWO and THREE before going on.

QUESTION FOUR:

"How can I waste time and effort today?"

This may seem like a no brainer for most of us who use Facebook!  Trolling through line after line of other people's timelines and photos and status updates; watching YouTube and WIMP videos; posting dumb jokes and leaving inane comments.  What?  That's just me?  OK, but you know what I mean.  It is so very easy to waste time online.

But it is not much harder to misspend valuable time in the shipyard.  A lot of the lost time is management's idea.  Like the "rollback" we had Friday morning.  For the sake of "slips trips and falls" prevention, hundreds of guys spent the first hour or so of the day rolling up every gas line, air line, welding lead, extension cord and  CO2 hose in the yard.  Fine.  And nobody was hurt in the process.  Then what?  You guessed it.  We then took all of those nice coils off the rack and once again, stretched out the lines we needed to get back to work.  I do appreciate the effort to keep us safe, but probably 80% of the gear went right back where it was .
Yesterday I went through a hundred yards of tunnel grinding off stars, as per orders.  I thought I'd be extra efficient as long as I was dragging the airline, by bringing a needle gun and prepping for a brace plate install (wouldn't you?) at the same time.  I even got a nice "atta boy" when I told the leadman what I had done.  So this morning I was told that I had to go through the same tunnel again because the mouseholes needed attention with a pencil grinder too!  I coulda woulda shoulda done that yesterday as well!

So much for management's contribution.  But none of us really need their help in wasting time or effort.  The attitude of workers everywhere (that I have been) is generally very self-interested, and not so much company-interested.  We find excuses to take walks up to the tool room.  We plead "safety" to get some one more "qualified" to move something or install a string of lights, when we could easily manage the task ourselves.  And each man knows exactly how many minutes he can quit early without getting in trouble, or where to hide out while waiting for the break time whistle to blow.

The instruction in the picture was meant for the object in the box.  It should not be "hidden" in the back of some rack.  But I took the picture, in a building frequently used as a hiding place.

How many months or years of our lives do we squander by pursuing pointless goals?  I like to challenge myself as much as anybody, and in a wide variety of ways, but can I really afford the countless hours it would take to excel at chess or singing or...writing, when there are real needs being left unmet all around me?

Jesus said one thing before He ascended.  "Go and make disciples."  Maybe he actually said "Go and watch Andy Griffith reruns till you have them all memorized" but something was lost in the translation?  I'm afraid not.  If there was something else He might have added to supplement His instruction, perhaps "Do Not hide" might have been it.

So while we reach out an arm and pull back on our fingers, let's think about QUESTION FOUR, and soon we will get to my very own QUESTION FIVE.


How can I waste time and effort today?

I could need a bathroom break, again.
I could stop and talk to everyone I pass.
I could do everything the way it's always been done.
I could always do things the easy way.

I could just do what I want to do.
I could think only of myself.
I could make sure I'm always "entertained".
I could trust that someone else will do the important stuff.

I could be careless.
I could be a perfectionist.

Spending time badly is probably worse than misusing resources.  There may even be a tipping point beyond which a certain amount of recycling is counterproductive (there, I said it) for that matter.



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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stretching Question Three of...Five

Every day in the shipyard, workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch." Along with dozens of other fitters, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking, and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day. A QUESTION FIVE always comes to my mind on these occasions.  I will get to that in good time.

Please read QUESTIONS ONE and TWO before going on.

QUESTION THREE:

"How can I hurt any tools or equipment today?"

Yes, things are people too! Or something like that.  Ok so it's people first and THEN things.  But you will notice that things do have an important place in the pecking order.  They come third.  People are second, right after GRANDKIDS!

The shipyard has an important interest in the tools and equipment they supply. And they let us know. On his first day each man is issued a basic set of tools necessary for the completion of his duties.  I remember feeling like I had won the jackpot!  I walked into the North Tool Room (NTR) in my brand new shiny red helmet and was assigned a fancy set of long blue fire retardant gloves, another pair of leather gloves, a flashlight, a striker, a hammer, a torch, a green face shield, a 9"grinder and a 4"grinder, ear plugs, a clear face shield, a welding whip, a welder's helmet, a stick ruler, a tri-square, a center punch, green sleeve protectors, a fairing lens, a paint marker, a soapstone, knee pads, a jitterbug, a needle gun, and a great big steel tool box in which to stash it all.  I stood there waiting for my very own fork truck to haul this pile awayfor me but they just laughed meanly and bade me go find a couple of old steel 5 gallon buckets.

These were all mine?  I love tools!  But my euphoria quickly turned to a watchful dread when I was told "Oh, by the way, if ANYTHING is missing when lay off time comes, you'll be charged twice the going price for each item, so don't let anything out of your sight."  Oh.

This deliberate policy transfers care of each toolular item from the company to the worker. Consequently, while some important work is accomplished every day, among the average shipyard worker, very little supersedes tool-watching!  The good care of each tool is easily measured by the amount that might be removed from a future paycheck.  Who wants to hurt or lose any tools?  I sure don't!

Some of "their stuff"
The other category of inanimate object that we are expected to protect from harm is the company's own equipment.  This is not supplied directly to any one worker, but is simply available for general use whenever or wherever it is needed.  Hoses for air powered tools, gas lines for torches, power leads for welding and electric extension cords fall into this department.  Such lines are dragged out and left running across decks, around sharp corners, and subjected to major streams of molten sparks.  Hoses are driven over, walked on, pinched and cut in two on a regular basis.  But who cares?  They just belong to the company and such abuse gives old Chuck, the hose repair guy, work until he's 105 just to get through the current mountain of broken, burnt and battered hosiery.

I might suggest, though it would be very impractical, that each man be assigned a number of hoses in each category.  The repair pile would disappear and Chuck would have to find another job.  All because people gladly take care of stuff that they have to pay for, or have paid for; but care very little about what has been given them cost free.

As you lean forward and slowly pull that hamstring, ponder QUESTION THREE.

How can I hurt any tools or equipment today?

My Tools
I could make sure I have no ownership.
I could stop guarding my stuff from thievery.
I could lend out my tools without regard to past delinquencies.
I could use whatever is in my hand as a hammer.
I could give and give and give and give...and never receive anything back.

Their Equipment
I could actually care less, and be careless.
I could remind myself that "this ain't mine!".
I could let the next generation of shipfitters pay the bill.
I could pretend that the rich company can afford anything!
I could simply imagine that nothing I can do will save the company resources.
I could go get a new pair of gloves every day.


Good stewardship, the Bible calls it, is essential for the maximum use of all important resources.  Whether it be heating oil, drinking water, electricity, jobs, hoses or even a pair of big blue fitter gloves; every item should be preserved and fostered and used to meet its utmost potential.  And whether something is "mine" or "theirs" must not matter; let everything we have or use be considered as a gift to be appreciated and cultivated.


Please leave a comment.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Stretching Question Two of...Five

Every day in the shipyard, workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch." Along with dozens of other fitters, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking, and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day.  I have come up with an additional QUESTION FIVE to ask myself every day, but first...

You might want to read about question one here before going on.

QUESTION TWO:

"How can I hurt my partner today?"

This question can more readily be taken wrongly by those who do not get along with their assigned partner!  But there would be SO much paperwork required, so I might as well go along with the spirit of the question and see what I can do to protect him from an accident.

Many jobs in the shipyard could be done by one person working alone, but we are almost always paired up.  Two heads are better than one, they say; two backs are stronger together than separately, has been said much more eloquently in the Proverbs; and most importantly, if one guy is on fire the other guy can put him out or at least let him know so he can put himself out.  Just the other day I put out a very small fire that was growing on my partner's shoulder.  He did not know (yet), because he was wearing his welding helmet, that a hot spark had landed in a cozy spot on his new sweatshirt.  Several times I have let people know that the frayed cuff of their jeans was ablaze, and at least once, I was kindly informed that my boot needed no more kindling.

We are told to "SLAM" our jobs every day.  Stop, Look, Assess and Manage the work in order to accomplish each task with safety.  This goes for myself and for my partner.  Oftentimes, the other perspective on a job is vital.  Standing back while he climbs or reaches or is buried behind a dark shield, I can see a potential danger before it goes kinetic on him.  (But what if I don't like my partner and I want to actually SLAM him?  Oh, never mind.)

How dependent on you is your "partner"?  Or your neighbor?  Or maybe a sibling that nobody in the world knows like you do?  Even that stranger texting and walking off the curb so carelessly.  The little girls playing on the dock without life preservers on.  Have you overheard someone say that they "just don't care anymore" and then stood by while their desperate apathy overpowers your otherwise caring heart?

Pull your left arm across your chest (one of our stretching exercises) while you think about QUESTION TWO.

How can I hurt my partner today?

I could stop paying attention.
I could focus on myself.
I could be careless.
I could neglect my duty.

I could ignore his pain.
I could do my own thing.
I could stop listening to her.

I could be rude.
I could be mean.
I could be unjust.

I could slander him.
I could accuse her.
I could abuse him.
I could hate her.

I could settle for enduring.
I could settle for waiting.
I could merely tolerate.




Even if we live alone, we do not live in isolation.  Someone depends on you.  Your kindness to a stranger, your encouragement to a close friend obviously weary and burdened, even your rebuke and your strong boundaries to those most intimate, are needed desperately by the people in your circle.  Ask Question Two this way: How can I help, and NOT hurt, my partner today?





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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stretching Question One of...Five

Every day in the shipyard, workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch." Along with dozens of other fitters, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking, and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day.  I have come up with an additional QUESTION FIVE to ask myself every day, but first...

QUESTION ONE:

"How can I hurt myself today?"

I know; this question sounds suspicious.  "Why should I be looking for ways to hurt myself?" I wonder.  But the real meaning of the query is not really too far hidden.  Our supervisors want us to ask ourselves again and again, "Will the job I am about to do hurt me in some way, and if so, how can I avoid such an unfortunate consequence?"  Less suspicious, but harder to say when you're trying to touch your toes (WITHOUT bending your knees!).

This is in fact a very good question to ask in the shipyard where a guy like me might step off the deck of a ship and fall 40 feet to the concrete bottom of the dry dock, or inadvertently walk into an open manhole, or even klunk my head going through a tunnel.  I could easily forget to flip my welding shield down before striking an arc and thus burn my little retinas, or potentially leave off my protective sleeves and catch some hot slag on my left forearm a few inches below my wrist on a Tuesday morning...for example (The burn would certainly be healed and resolved by now, thank you for asking.).

More importantly, we should all consider such a question outside of the ship yard's chain link gates as well.  Stuff happens. And we must pay attention. As adults we appreciate the lessons our parents taught us so long ago don't we?   I know I still look both ways before I cross the street because this issue of potential danger was so well ingrained in me by their realistic and protective tutoring. But there are so many more dangers, not so readily identified as those we learned of as toddlers, that we must be prepared to counter every day.

There are many terrible hazards we modern folk have trivialized.  We have dangerously dismissed the idea that anybody can actually be hurt by the choices they make.  Those who dare to give warnings are mocked.  Those societal pesks who spend their lives suffering from the dire consequences of bad decisions are ignored or minimized or judged to be weak.  Some spend years rationalizing the harm done by bad parents, and end up repeating the awful pattern.  Others resist following such trails but gird themselves with bitter hatred, and live their lives linked to perpetrators by chains of unforgiveness.

Stretch yourself a little and let's answer QUESTION ONE as if it were meant the way it sounds.

How can I hurt myself today?

I could disobey my parents.
I could ignore my teachers.
I could hate cops.
I could refuse to vote.

I could "experiment".
I could embrace pornography.
I could start smoking/drinking/gambling/using drugs.

I could drop out of school.
I could quit my job.
I could move back home.

I could marry carelessly.
I could disdain my vows.
I could commit adultery.
I could divorce my spouse.
I could abandon my kids.

I could believe whatever I wanted to.
I could listen to fools.
I could dismiss God.



Better to work in the shipyard blindfolded, than face life without heeding good instruction.
By not listening to important warnings, I have often "hurt myself," but thankfully, have found that God can, and wants to redeem what I have lost.





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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Inner Bottom

Have you ever taken a nose dive?  Come to the end of your rope?  Gone off the proverbial edge?  Is it yet to come, or have you already, hit rock bottom?  Perhaps that trauma at least gave you the comfort of thinking that "it can't get any worse".  Well I have some news for you, and it may not be good to hear.  There is a place below the bottom, and I have been there.  It is called "THE INNER BOTTOM"!




Working as a "shipfitter" requires much flexibility (in more ways than one, but more about that later).  Every morning in the shipyard we men gather outside at 7 AM, no matter what the weather is doing and no matter what the season, for the daily stretching routine.  Then we meet with our various foremen to be assigned a job.  This is the daily moment of truth.

I never know with whom I will be partnered, what I'll be doing, how long the job might take, which part of which ship (and whether I'll be inside or outside), or even (and don't tell my boss) what in the world I'm doing!  But seriously, the quality of the day, or at least the drudge factor of the day, comes clear in that moment. It's either an "All right!  I'll working with my buddy Ryan putting in exhaust supports in the generator room!", or "Oh crap!  I have to work with _____, while he complains all day as we climb around in ballast tanks cleaning up welding rod stubs and cigarette butts!  But whatever the assignment, I have learned to make the most of every day by getting to know a new partner, by being intrigued with a new part of the ship, or by learning and practicing another set of skills I've never known before.

It wasn't very long ago that I had no experience with cutting torches, air powered grinders, welding whips, dry docks, cargo holds, bulkheads, crops or conveyor actuators.   I have since worked on upper decks, main decks, quarter decks and even under the ship's shell in the dry dock.  I have been ordered to carry steel, cut steel, wash steel, tack steel and stitch steel.  I have worked in cargo holds, generator rooms, ballast tanks, engine rooms, conveyor tunnels and escape tubes.  I have had to chip ice, shovel ice, melt ice and slip on ice,  as well as fire watch, shower in sparks, burn steel, take the heat and nearly melt.

So far, so good.  So far, I have avoided being sent to crawl into the INNER BOTTOM!  The inner bottom is a small dark muddy place running along the very center of the cargo ship (in my case), that separates the very outside shell from a work space above, usually the "tunnel" where a cargo unloading conveyor belt runs the ship's length.  It is barely 2 feet high inside and is accessed either by crawling through the narrow manhole from the muddy bottom of the wide open ballast tank, or by dropping down through a manhole in the floor of the tunnel.  Either way, physical flexibility, and some bodily dimensional limitations (height and/or girth) are required to avoid getting stuck half way in.

No place to spend eternity.
Most often the work on a cargo ship is required elsewhere.  But once in a while someone is sent in to install a crop, snipe a bracket, or simply to meet their maker (I heard a rumor about a skeleton found...).  The only time I ever had to work inside the inner bottom was in dry dock, and the shell of the boat had been removed. At least part of the job could be done from standing on a short ladder, but then I had to crawl up and roll over the angle iron ribs dragging my torch line, air line, extension cord and lights, welding lead, grinder, various helmets and shields, fire blankets and other miscellaneous tools with me.  Only then could I begin to work all crouched and twisted and trying to keep flying molten steel from being strewn across my person.

But, it was heavenly!  People complain about being assigned such jobs, yet when confronted with an eternity in hell, they shrug and scoff and glibly claim that at least they'll be there "with all their friends", as if there could be ANY degree of comfort in a place chosen by rejecting the free gift of ALL comfort.  No.  The ultimate INNER BOTTOM will be faced alone.  No friends, no coworker just outside the manhole to drag you out if you are overcome by fumes or injured by accident.  No manhole or escape hatch.  No connections with power or light..  No satisfaction from facing a challenge or from completing a difficult task.  Not even a chance to shake a fist at God; the opportunity to get real with Him is given, and limited to, today.

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.                                                              2 Corinthians 6:2

A ship's inner bottom is a protective void.  Its upper deck provides the flat space needed to accomplish important work, while its floor is a structural resistance to the sea's intrusive power.  Hell was intended to be a place to separate Lucifer and the other fallen angels from God's presence forever.  Only those people convinced to join him in his rebellion need go there.   God's open home (all are invited to enter by the work of Jesus Christ, offered by God's amazing grace!) is the best place to meet friends, to enjoy God's presence face to face, to enter into meaningful and pleasurable work, and to live eternally, ever maturing and growing more and more "in His image".  Nobody will ever be glad they chose the ultimate inner bottom.



















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Monday, September 3, 2012

Already Seen Deja Vu

"Already seen" is the English translation of the French term "deja vu" we commonly use to describe that weird feeling most of us have had, that tells us something just happening has happened before.  Out of the blue, you suddenly experience the moment you are in but not in a normal way; it seems to filter through the memory and so you think you can just about predict what will happen next.  But, since it only seems to be a memory because your current perception is somehow pouring through your memory banks, you can't ever really make that prediction.

Have you ever had a deja vu experience?  I have many times, and always enjoyed that moment of realization and mystery.  Every time, I attempt to make it last; to try to use it to peer around the corner of time as I make the effort to "remember" what was about to happen.  You would think that by now I would remember that it never works.

Deja vu is one of those things that unites disparate members of this human race.  Two thirds of the population  say they have had the experience.  What's the first thing you say when it dawns on you that you have "seen this before"?  If you are like me, you announce your status (in French!) to anyone in range, knowing full well that they can not enter the mindset with you, but that they can definitely relate.



Now this assignment has me thinking, however, about the times in my life when an experience was actually experienced earlier and seems to be repeating.  I should, in such a case, be able to make valid predictions about what will happen next.  You would think.

Here are a few examples.

Buying a car.  Since I bought my first car about 33 years ago (a cool 1973 Maverick with a fuzzy shag white carpet glued to the doors and rear shelf under the rear window (what DO you call that?)) I have "already seen" myself buy about 33 cars and trucks!  Will I ever learn to buy a decent vehicle?  I did see myself buy a brand new 1990 Isuzu trooper once, but then I saw my darn kids grow out of it so fast we had to get a mini-van!

Saving cool scraps.  My wife still laughs at the giant wooden firewood box I made out of strips of mahogany I brought home from a job.  They were 3/4 by 1 1/2 inches by 5 or 6 feet long,  and I just could not see them thrown into the burn pile!  But at least I did make something out of them, AND sold it!

This wall cap (here not yet installed) was made with "scrap"!
Last week I installed a sink for a lady and she saw potential in the laminate cut out.  "What can I make with that?" she said.  I was repulsed!  I backed away and crossed myself, as I automatically deja vu'd the dozens of even larger examples I used to bring home, and store, and move, and restack, and even haul when our family moved across town.  Managing to leave it there when I finished that bathroom job was a victory for this old scrap collector, and I can assure you that the scraps I still do have in my garage, and my basement, are really really cool scraps that I really really will use some day.

Playing chess.  When my son Josh joined the chess club some 10 years ago and immediately excelled (filling our house with dozens of trophies (some gigantic)), my interest in the game was rekindled.  My childhood experience included continual losing to my genius brother and finally giving up.  As a mature adult it was more of continually losing to my brilliant but nonchalant son and then finally finding someone else to play.  Heidi, our Dachshund, has never beaten me yet!

But there is a pattern I still "see again (and again)" in my chess experience.  Win a game easily.  Win another game handily.  Get cocky.  Make a stupid move and lose my queen.  Turn red.  Repeat.

Maybe I should play the cat!






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PS
After watching two baseball players hit consecutive home runs, twice, Yogi Berra made the term even more surreal by proclaiming "It's like deja vu all over again".

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting July 10th on Proverbs 10:15-19


Got 31 days in the month?  
God's got 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs! 
What a coincidence!


For each date then, again this month, you will find commentary on a few verses from the corresponding chapter. There are 7 months in the year with 31 days, so I divided each chapter into 7 parts and spread them out so that each verse will be reviewed on the date related to its chapter by the same number name.  No, I am not deliberately trying to make this explanation complicated! (But, if you can explain my system any better than I have tried to do in the past three 31-day months, there is probably a proverb proclaiming your wisdom, and you will be recognized here for your high achievement!).

Below this introduction you will find the whole chapter representing today's date, with this month's verses highlighted in red, and my amateur comments for today low lighted in blue. Enjoy!

PROVERBS 10

Proverbs of Solomon

1 The proverbs of Solomon:


A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.


2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.


3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.


4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.


5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.


6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.[a]


7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,[b]
but the name of the wicked will rot.


8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.


9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.


10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.


11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.


12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.


13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.


14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.


15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

15) I sometimes fear for the rich.  Even in my simple life, I have recognized the tendency to rely on what I have: the furnace, electric power, batteries, gas stations, grocery stores, insurance.  These basic elements of life are so important, but so tenuous.  Things go wrong, and seem more likely to go wrong in recent years than in previous times.  But the rich get used to so much more going so much better that when it all falls in, how will they cope?  Poverty ruins the poor, but when it hits the rich, it will hurt all the more.  As a back-slidden Christian is so much more badly injured than a steady unbeliever, because he knows what he has forsaken.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

16) Why do the righteous get one thing (life) but the wicked get two (sin and death)?  Because the wicked include sin in an otherwise pure gift of life, and it is the sin that cancels life, leading to death.  We are all born into sin (as a fallen race) but if we do not repent and forsake the sin, it stays intact and does its deathifying work.  

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

17) It is interesting that accepting discipline shows promise and benefit in a passive manner, but declining correction has an active, corrupting result in the lives of others.  Might one say then that God the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and that the Devil is a bully?


18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.

18)  It must be better then, to reveal and even declare one's hatred as an exercise in truth telling.  At least then the air is clear and the hatred can only go as far as the subject of the hate.  But if it is hidden, hatred morphs into other perversities like gossip, slander, blackmail or murder.  It's import is lost and its potential justification is never tested.  Valid, but concealed hatred will be ineffectual in righting wrongs, and wrongful, undeclared hatred will go unchecked. 

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

19) Another proverbial indicator that speaking too much is a bad sign.  If not of plain foolishness, then perhaps of deceitfulness or some other sin.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.


21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.


22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.


23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.


24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.


25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.


26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.


27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.


28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.


29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.


30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.


31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced.


32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
[Anyone willing to author an explanation of my system, let me know, and if it makes more sense than my attempts (how could it not?) I will use it in October.]


By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting July 9th on Proverbs 9:7-9


Got 31 days in the month?  
God's got 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs! 
What a coincidence!


For each date then, again this month, you will find commentary on a few verses from the corresponding chapter. There are 7 months in the year with 31 days, so I divided each chapter into 7 parts and spread them out so that each verse will be reviewed on the date related to its chapter by the same number name.  No, I am not deliberately trying to make this explanation complicated! (But, if you can explain my system any better than I have tried to do in the past three 31-day months, there is probably a proverb proclaiming your wisdom, and you will be recognized here for your high achievement!).

Below this introduction you will find the whole chapter representing today's date, with this month's verses highlighted in red, and my amateur comments for today low lighted in blue. Enjoy!

PROVERBS 9

Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls
from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.”


7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

7) This sad truth is what makes honest debate and real societal progress so difficult.  There are two types of people in this world.  The wicked /mocker and the not-so-much (we are all born sinners, but some choose to practice and exercise the tendency more than others).  The trouble is that the mocker will not stand correction, and the wicked respond to rebuke with assault and battery!  The "corrector" then is faced with the challenge of deciding how to proceed without joining in the "mocker's" ways.  A fair debate requires both sides to follow the same rules of engagement, but the mocker, by definition, can freely mock such standards of conduct, and thereby shut down all hope of growth.

8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.

8) I believe here that the proverb is not really teaching that we should not rebuke a mocker; but that we should expect only vitriol in response.  On the other hand, a great comfort is given to those who must rebuke the wise, for they will only appreciate your words of warning and respond with actual love!

9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

9) This verse speaks as much about the wise only getting wiser in the same way we are taught about any other good seed a person may sow.  Just as saving money creates wealth, and laughing much creates health.  The benefits promised here are available to all.  Listening well, and having a teachable spirit have their own, built-in, rewards.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.


13 Folly is an unruly woman;
she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way,
16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.





[Anyone willing to author an explanation of my system, let me know, and if it makes more sense than my attempts (how could it not?) I will use it in October.]


By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting July 8th on Proverbs 8:17-21


Got 31 days in the month?  
God's got 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs! 
What a coincidence!


For each date then, again this month, you will find commentary on a few verses from the corresponding chapter. There are 7 months in the year with 31 days, so I divided each chapter into 7 parts and spread them out so that each verse will be reviewed on the date related to its chapter by the same number name.  No, I am not deliberately trying to make this explanation complicated! (But, if you can explain my system any better than I have tried to do in the past three 31-day months, there is probably a proverb proclaiming your wisdom, and you will be recognized here for your high achievement!).

Below this introduction you will find the whole chapter representing today's date, with this month's verses highlighted in red, and my amateur comments for today low lighted in blue. Enjoy!

PROVERBS 8

Wisdom’s Call

1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.[a]
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.


12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.[b]
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.

17) Standing alone, this verse might give the wrong impression.  If I were to say "I love those who love me" I think I would come across as very self-centered.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies, after all, and, that He died for us while "we were yet sinners"! (Romans 5:8)  But remember who is speaking in Proverbs 8:17.  It is wisdom herself, declaring that the power of her love can only be truly received by those who pursue, engage and devote themselves to, Wisdom.  Those who do not seek Wisdom will never know her love.

18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.

18) Then she lists her promises.  The fruits of her love that might be included in her dowry, as it were, to the one who seeks her out.  Nothing too special though: just riches, honor, (enduring) wealth and prosperity and stuff.

19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.

19) And then for emphasis, she claims that her "fruit" is better than the standard, sought after riches of this world.  And she is right.  Would you not agree?

20 I walk in the way of righteousness,

along the paths of justice,

20) If we would all walk with Wisdom on these paths.  What commonly endured ditches we would all avoid!

21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me

and making their treasuries full.

21) Let us together seek Wisdom.  Not just smarts, or knowledge, or stats, or facts, or trivia.  All of that, combined with God's revealed Truth in scripture, and applied to good effect and with love, is the work of Wisdom.


22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,[c][d]
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly[e] at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.


32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.”




[Anyone willing to author an explanation of my system, let me know, and if it makes more sense than my attempts (how could it not?) I will use it in October.]




By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?