Sometimes, stories just seem to write themselves.  This one was a juxtaposition (probably from Computerworld) from a few years ago.

inadvertent

I don’t believe that the two stories are connected – but the suggestion is there, as well as the humor.

I was surprised tonight to see something in a similar vein from the New York Times.  I subscribe, and I read with a grain of salt.  But this seemed blatant.

doomsayers

Three links to the same anti-Christian article?  And another one higher on the page.  C’mon, NYT.  I understand there’s a liberal bias.  But put away the sledgehammer.

I got a fortune cookie a couple weeks ago. It said, the whole fortune said “You deserve the best”. I didn’t like it. I don’t like all the commercials telling me what I deserve. I’d be more inclined to believe it if they weren’t pitching that new car, or a two-week vacation, to a million of my best friends at the same time. I get the sense that there might be an ulterior motive.

The thing is, I read my Bible, and I know exactly what I deserve.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Romans 6:23 starts out “the wages of sin is death”.

And at the end of when Jesus was talking about the sheep and the goats, in Matthew 25:46, He says the goats “will go away into eternal punishment”.

So that’s what I deserve – and incidentally you do too. You are part of the “all” in that first scripture.

But God . . . But God the Father sent Jesus the Son, wholly man and wholly God, to live a sinless life and die an undeserved death on the cross, so that I wouldn’t have to go to Hell.

John 3:17 says ‘For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.’

His death, His resurrection, that’s what we’re celebrating right now. Not what we deserve, but God’s gracious gift. Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, You give good gifts. The gift of Jesus on the cross, the gift of eternal life – that isn’t what we deserve. It’s what You chose to offer us. Your ways are not our ways, and Your thoughts are not our thoughts. And I thank You for that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A big meal can make you sleepy

Just outside our house Friday evening.

Sunday morning. Summer’s almost over.

This past Monday was a change of seasons – we moved from summer to fall.

And we can see it, too. Days getting shorter, night arriving earlier.

It made me think of one of my favorite Bible verses – James 1:17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

That phrase – “no shadow of turning” – that’s a beautiful phrase, and it’s true. God doesn’t change, ever. The Jews of that time knew about shifting shadows, whether from a sundial or watching a building’s shadow walk down the street. The day changes, their month was based on the noon’s cycle, and the yearly changes – they were familiar with all of that. They knew about change.

And they knew about God. They knew that He never changed. Pretty easy for them to figure out. The first part of Malachi 3:6 says “For I am the Lord, I do not change”. Pretty black and white.

And yet after Malachi, there was silence from God for 400 years. No prophet, no new word. And then Jesus arrives, claiming to be God. And He was, and *is*, God. Some of the Jews didn’t like that, and crucified Jesus. That’s what we’re remembering now, with the wafer and the juice representing His body and His blood, that we call communion. And three days later Jesus arose, triumphant. God is not dead, and God has not changed.

James reminds us of this with his “no shadow of turning” phrase, and this week I realized that there is no shadow because God is the source of light, and Jesus is the bright and morning star, the light to the world. Hallelujah and amen!

Let’s pray. Father God, Father of lights, thank you for illuminating us. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

My 11-year-old mobo died. Sad day.  And I wasn’t going to replace the board to preserve the old CPU, memory, and graphics card. I was ready for a new toy.

This toy is a beast. A Dell Precision Tower 7910, outfitted with 2 x 8-core Xeons.  128G memory. 500G SSD and a 10T spinning metal drive for slower things.  I’m planning on running a bunch of VMs on this, having them talk, setting up a house wiki, etc.  Much etc.

The first box got lost (lifted?) between the local package delivery service and my house. The nice folks at MET Servers shipped out the new one while still fighting with the shipping company over what happened to the original.  Plus, they got me overnight shipping tossed in! Thanks, Edwar.

Came in this morning, and I took a break from work to unpack it.  Started it up, made sure it worked, and had to power it off because it was distracting me from my regular job.

Since then, I have installed Fedora Server 30, installed the virtualization software (KVM), added and mounted the spinning rust drive (a NewEgg purchase).  I’m keeping the base machine a command-line box.  GUIs will be for the VMs.  So I had to use lynx to download the graphical workstation ISO – and it worked.  I’m still doing my Google research on another PC, but it’s working.

There are benefits to having enthusiastically worked in the computer field for decades.

And I’m having fun.

Bettie and I went to the jewelry store a couple weeks ago – not to buy something new, but to get something fixed. In her engagement ring, one of the prongs that holds the diamond had broken off. It’s fixed now, and we’re thankful that the diamond didn’t get lost. But even if it did, or if the ring was lost or stolen while getting repaired, it would have been sad, but we still would be married. The ring is wonderful, it’s preciousand it is only a symbol.

Then I thought of our country’s flag, the stars and stripes. It’s the same type of thing – the flag is not the country, it’s a symbol of the country. Respect the flag, honor it – but don’t defend the flag with your life.

And you see the direction I’m headed with this – the wafer and the juice we partake of as we celebrate communion are a symbol of Jesus’s body and blood. That’s true, but not the whole of the truth. Mark 14:22-24 says

And as they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is My body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Jesus never sinned, so He wasn’t lying. I think He meant it in a spiritual way – that *spiritually* it is His body, His blood. And yet it’s more. Philippians 3:10-11 says

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

So there is both the spiritual and physical aspect to communion, both symbol and reality. I don’t understand it all, and I don’t have to. There is a place for mystery. Ephesians 3:20-21 says

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,  to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Let’s pray. Lord God, the wisdom, the knowledge, the love that You have for us – sinners – is still a mystery to me. And yet I know that I am a sinner saved by grace, through the body and blood of Jesus. Thank You for that indescribable gift. In Jesus’ name, amen.

We went to the mall today. Heading back to car, we were gobsmacked.

Apparently somebody thinks that a blind person driving a car should be able to get close enough to this sign in order to touch it.

The mind boggles.

I have written about my weight on here before, but it was always a losing battle (well, yeah/no). I’m happy to celebrate my 60th birthday today by announcing that I have lost over a half-million dollars, assuming that I’m worth my weight in gold.

My company has a contract with Omada to help employees improve their health. I started right around Christmas 2018. The focus is on meal size/healthiness and exercise rather than counting calories or carbs. And it works – in the last year, I’m down 26 pounds. On July 2nd, I dipped below 200 for the first time in (maybe) decades. Hitting that number by the time my birthday hit was a goal I set with my Omada coach Lauren (hi, Lauren!).

There are other benefits, too. My BMI is down from 34 to under 30. My A1C went from the 9 range to 6.4.

The only downside is having to buy new clothes. Jeans, anyway. I am discovering shirts that I haven’t worn for a long time.

And I’m liking it.

There are many ways to read the Bible – straight through, like the church is doing, or reading some from the Old Testament and the New Testament every day, or even chronological – in the sequence it happened. One thing I have heard, though, is that you should always look for Jesus in whatever part of the Bible you’re reading.

So Jesus’ first miracle, turning the water into wine – let’s take a quick look at that.  We have a wedding, and His mother, and there’s Jesus.  Boom!  Found Him.  We’re done!!

But let’s look a little deeper.  Let’s look not just at what happened, but at what it could mean – the symbolism, the story behind the story.

Here’s what happened, on the surface.  While Jesus and His mother were at a wedding, the wedding ran out of wine for the guests. Mary urged Jesus to – essentially – “do something”.  From John 11, verses 6 through 10:

Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

A good miracle – Jesus didn’t do any bad miracles – but what does it mean?  Helping the wedding reception, sure.  Deeper, though, the jars were for purification – for the Jews washing themselves.  Not cleaning up at the end of the day, but for becoming ritually pure. Jesus turned that water into wine – good wine, but still just something to drink.

Except that at the last supper, in Matthew 14:23 and 24,

Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks He gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”

So at that wedding in Cana, Jesus took something that was external – the water for purification – and turned it into the wine that represented His own blood, that would be shed for the forgiveness of sins.  An internal cleansing.  The change that Jesus did *then* with the water and the wine, He would go on to make that change available for us.  Not external any longer, not legalistic and ritualistic, but internal and life-changing.  *That’s* where Jesus is found. And that’s what we are celebrating now.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, Jesus was aware of what He was doing when He changed the water into wine – both the physical action and the meaning.  And He was aware of what He was doing by dying on the cross. Thank you for offering Him as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.