Acts 12:21-24

So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.  And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”  Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.  But the word of God grew and multiplied.

So Herod gave a speech, and the people loved it. They praised Herod, calling him a god. Herod ate it up – he loved the attention and the accolades. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lived for it. I know he died for it.

It’s easy to get used to the praises, and come to expect them. Herod expected the praises that should have gone to God. Essentially, he took what wasn’t his, and he paid for it. Seems proper. What I want to focus on is the people. The ones who called Herod a god for his speech. I have heard or read some good speeches – “Four score and seven years ago”. “A day that will live in infamy. ” “Ask not what this country can do for you.” “I have a dream.” You can identify those – and you can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were spoken by men, not by a god. The people in that scripture passage had a mighty low bar for being a god. I want a God who has more than pretty words. And I have one.

I have a God who created me, who loves me, who sent His Son to die for me, who filled me with the Holy Spirit at baptism, who guards and guides me every day.

That’s a God I can devote my life to, a God I can worship. My God speaks to me daily.

And that same God is Jesus, whose death and resurrection we are now celebrating with the wafer and the juice. Not a human who can spout pretty words and loves the praise. Jesus was fully man, and fully God, who inhabits our praise, and is worthy of our praise. He was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day. That’s my God. Let’s pray.

Father God, we approach Your throne boldly. We know that sitting on that throne is the real God, with ultimate power and ultimate love. We know that Jesus, perfect and sinless, paid the ultimate price for our sins, and now sits beside You in glory. Thank You for Your love and for the gift of Jesus. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

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Zero degrees in the carport. Picture lightened, but the lens flare was in the original. 

I like crossword puzzles. I like filling them out, as long as they aren’t too hard, and I really like finishing them. I get a feeling of satisfaction about doing something and doing it all the way to the end.

Sometimes, though, I disagree with the guy who created it. Might be the hardness of the overall puzzle, might be a place where I would have picked a different clue, or every once in a while the theme of the puzzle. Sometimes I just get bothered at the guy.

Then I realize it’s his crossword puzzle, not mine. He gets to choose the size, the contents, the clues, everything. It all belongs to the creator.

And then, God, as He often does, draws me to the spiritual application. It does all belong to the Creator. He *is* the guy. He gets to choose everything. If He chooses to write ten laws to show how perfect He is, and what He wants us to live up to, and which we can’t, it’s His choice. And if He wants to send His only begotten son Jesus to die on the cross because I can’t follow ten simple rules, it’s His choice.

And that’s what He did – and that’s what we are celebrating with the wafer and the juice. The body and the blood of a perfect man – the one who did His life’s crossword puzzle all the way to the end. And He didn’t use a pencil. He didn’t even use ink. He wrote out the answers in His own blood, and He did it perfectly.

Let’s pray. Father God, You are the creator of all things. You made us with free will, and every one of us chose wrongly. So, as part of Your perfect plan, You gave us Jesus. Thank You for the answer to everything. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for 2017-12-03)

I have a bit of free time today.  I was keeping up on The Register, one of the best (and snarkiest) IT sites.  I came across this security story on the dangers of unsecured container ship loading protocols.

The comments, as usual, expanded greatly on the story.  I read a lot about the MV Rena failure from 2011/12 (and page 2 gets even worser).  And then somebody pointed to a page on parametric rolling

Parametric rolling 0

which I don’t understand, aside from the high-level “badness comes in waves”, but which provided a stunning visual.

Parametric rolling

Reminding me that some 7/10 splits are worse than others.

(pictures from Learn Ship Design, where it is claimed “Images and videos used in the article donot belong to LSD and full credit goes to their respective owners”, without identifying those owners.)

I’ve gotten email recently from a Japanese chap.  Not reading Japanese and not knowing anybody who speaks only Japanese, I have been deleting them.

Tonight, in avoiding the work I need to do, I translated the latest message.

Japanese

According to my friends at Google Translate, this comes out to

Ōburī sensei sei-gai ofisu no Yamamotodesu. Osewa ni natte orimasu. Hyōki ni tsukimashite, sonogo ikagadeshou ka? Chōsei no ue go kaitō itadakimasu yō onegai itashimasu. Nao, satsuei ni tsuite wa, kōho-bi to jikan ni tsuite mo go shitei itadakimasu yō onegai itashimasu. Dōzo, yoroshikuonegaītashimasu.

and in English,

Mr. Aubrey

It is Yamamoto of the office of the government.
We become indebted to.

Regarding the markings, how about after that?
Please adjust after adjustment and thank you for your reply.
For shooting, please also specify candidate date and time.

Thank you very much.

He is indebted to me, and trusts me to make adjustments after someone else makes adjustments. And wants to shoot someone of my choice.

So I’m not sure whether to be honored or scared.  But give it up, Tetsuhisa.  Either way, it’s not worth it.  Trust me on this one.

 

Today marks the 500th anniversary of a Catholic monk rebelling.  I don’t know if the door of the church at Wittenberg was red, black, natural, or “other”.  It was capable of accepting Luther’s 95 Theses, and that’s what kicked off the whole Protestant Reformation.

I don’t have a lot to say about it (the Reformation, not the door).  I’m glad it happened, and I’m pretty sure that Brother Luther wouldn’t recognize what the church has become.

Rather than spend a lot of words saying nothing, I’ll point to Wes King’s commentary.

I enjoy reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. I probably shouldn’t – these things are violent. The hero and the bad guys leave a trail of bodies and bruises from one end of the book to the other. 

I was surprised to find out that the genre is not new. I probably shouldn’t be – there is nothing new under the sun.

I recently finished reading a big book of all Dashiell Hammett’s novels. There are five of them, including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. (side note: those movies are great. The first Jack Reacher movie was OK. Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher. End of discussion.)

The first of Hammett’s novels is 1929’s Red Harvest. Given the body count of around two dozen, you can guess what makes the harvest that color.

The later books are not as gory as the first, but his short stories are very reminiscent of Reacher – smooth and understated, strongly masculine without being macho, and slyly humorous. In one short story, a policeman comes into money but doesn’t change his habits, including very low end cigars. The unnamed narrator, working for Continental Op, calls it a “cigar-thing”. That’s funny.

I found Lee Child before I found Dashiell Hammett. I’m glad I kept going. 

A week ago, back when it was still summer, Bettie and I stood outside at 2AM and watched the Orionid meteor shower. We didn’t stay long, and it was chilly, but we each saw a couple shooting stars. Fun.

In the week before that, around the middle of October, I was still seeing lightning bugs. Not flying around, but resting on the ground. That’s the same way I saw them back in February, which was extraordinarily warm this year.

The two events aren’t related, not directly. One looking up, one looking down. One fast, one very slow. One cold (a dirty snowball, except for at the very end), one doing much better in the heat of high summer rather than either cooler end.

But they are connected. As James Herriot quoted, “The Lord God made them all“. I’m in that bucket, and so are you. We are all creatures, created beings, and we have a Creator. Rather, He has us. What is He going to do with us? It depends on what we do with Him.

I’ve seen a lot of death recently. A coworker’s husband lost both his mother and his father this year. Another coworker lost his teenage son unexpectedly. A third coworker died from cancer after winning a serious battle against another disease. One of Bettie’s former coworkers, younger than she was, died a week ago. The end of life came for each of them, and it’s coming for me. Not a dire announcement, just a recognition that we’re all going to die eventually.

And after that comes the judgment. We’ll be judged on how we lived our lives and spent the blessings we have been given. I have been very blessed, from my parents being who they are to growing up in a family of faith, from attending a church college to finding a wonderful wife, from losing my way to finding solid ground and a well-grounded church and pastor. And still, though I am not perfect, the blood of Jesus makes me so in the eyes of God the Father.

I don’t know what led you to this site. I encourage you to think about your past, and your future, and eternity. Pick up a Bible and read the book of Romans. Take your time, make the investment, decide what matters.

I did, and it has made all the difference. In the world and the next.

While I was growing up, I wanted to be a race car driver. I’d still like to do that, but the realistic option is gone. It was pretty well gone when I realized that race car driving was dangerous – I could get hurt!

Still, I like racing. Pretty much anything going fast, but focused mainly on NASCAR. My first hero was Richard Petty – the king. He won 200 races, finishing in front of President Ronald Reagan.

After he retired, I moved to supporting Darrell Waltrip, #17. He had a mouth, he had an attitude, and he had the championships to back it up.

When he retired, Tony Stewart moved into my top spot. He had a temper, he would sometimes sometimes cross the line, but he also had the skills to win championships.

Tony Stewart retired a year ago. For me, nobody has taken his place. Some don’t make the list – Logano and Keselowski, I’m looking at you. Jimmy Johnson – nice guy, but no passion from me (maybe because he exercises). The replacement in Tony’s car, Clint Boyer, doesn’t have a spark.

The racing itself has changed, with stages and weird end-of-race rules, not to mention artificial cautions to bunch the field up.

Bottom line, I’m done with NASCAR. it just isn’t worth the investment of my time. I’ll still watch a few races – Daytona to start the season, the World 600 as part of the Memorial Day triple header. The Indy 500 is the only Indy-car race I watch.

The first race in that triple header is the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco. It’s always been fun to watch, with the long underground chute leading into the blinding sunlight, the tight corners and the water right there!

This year, I watched that race with different eyes. I saw internal struggles, man against machine and man against man. The incredible power and incredible fragility of the cars. The money spent and the technology used.

And I started watching F1 races, enjoying them more than I expected. Even the practices are fun, with David Hobbs mentioning the occasional “argy-bargy” in his understated English way.

So in 2018, I’m dropping NASCAR and switching to F1. It isn’t necessarily permanent, but it will take a lot to turn me back.

I have been thinking lately about how I see things. Not visually, not the optics of my eyes, but how things go together. Where do they fit? What is the framework?

Usually, and unfortunately, my framework is too small. That might be in distance, in money, or in time.

Here’s an example: you’re walking down the street and you see a twenty dollar bill. You go over to it and pick it up. It’s your lucky day! Now expand the framework – that twenty dollar bill is out in the middle of the road. Different factors apply – maybe you wait for traffic to stop – a red light. More to consider, and maybe you don’t get that money.

Different situation: instead of getting something good, you avoid something bad. Nobody likes pain, and none of us would stick our hand in a fire voluntarily. But each and every one of us would rescue a child who had fallen into the fire. The bigger picture of saving a life overcomes the knowledge of imminent pain.

Hebrews 12:2 says about Jesus “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And Jesus knew the pain, the shame that was waiting. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays to the Father: “Take this cup from Me”.  It was going to hurt, physically and spiritually, more than we could ever know.

Jesus knew that imminent pain, and He knew the ultimate glory. He saw the biggest framework – eternity.  He paid the price to keep us from the fire of hell. We celebrate his death and resurrection now with the wafer and the juice. Let’s pray.

Father God, I thank You for Jesus, His perfection, His sacrifice, His example. It’s in His name I pray. Amen.

 

Communion meditation October 15, 2017

 

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