Friday, July 28, 2017

PPP (part 2) - Psalms, Proverbs, and the Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot/wikipedia.com

David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, when he looked up at the dark night sky, wrote these words..

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
 
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
Psalm 19:1-2 (NIV)

And David's son, Solomon, also expressed this proverb in his wisdom writings:

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding He set the heavens in place;

by His knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Proverbs 3:19-20 (NIV)


In the late 20th century, Carl Sagan brought science and astronomy to the people in his series, Cosmos (1980). Before he slipped the surly bounds of earth, Sagan was moved by the photo of our home (above). Taken almost 4 billion miles away from Earth from Saturn. Known as...

The Pale Blue Dot

As the probe finished its primary mission, Carl Sagan had requested NASA to take one last picture of Earth as it was leaving the Solar System. That became the iconic photograph the Voyager 1 space probe had taken of Earth on February 14, 1990. A pale blue dot, the Earth's apparent size is less than a pixel among bands of sunlight.

 And such inspired his poetic tribute:



Definitely awe struck, Sagan's tribute expressed a more humanist philosophy. As well as overwhelmed by our seemingly insignificance  in the vast universe. All the politics of our short lifespans seem petty. Nothing. {reference: Carl Sagan gave us an incredible perspective on our planet }

Again, David has his words of the greatness of the universe and the smallness of humans and life on earth with the Divine perspective in mind.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!
You have set Your glory
in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants
You have established a stronghold against Your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which You have set in place,
what is mankind that You are mindful of them,
human beings that You care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.

You made them rulers over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under their feet:

all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:1-9 (NIV)


The Pale Blue Dot ... in Psalms and Proverbs.

It makes the Politics of the Earth pale in comparison to the vastness of space....

And beyond, the Greatness of our Creator.

But in His greatness, He cares for all His creatures and put mankind to care for the handiwork of His creation.

And that is awesome.


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Other post in series:

PPP (part 1) - All Men are Liars (2017) 


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Photo:  Pale Blue Dot/wikipedia.com

Friday, June 30, 2017

Faith (part 2) - Founding Fathers' Faith and the Fourth of July

Declaration of Independence (1819)/wikipedia.com
It's summer, again.

And July is in the middle of it all. School's out. Vacations. Picnics. Holidays. And important dates in American history. Such as...

1776

A watershed year during interesting times.

Our country was born that year on the Fourth of July. And the John Trumbull painting above captures that iconic moment with this description from wikipedia commons:

"John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Congress. The painting can be found on the back of the U.S. $2 bill. The original hangs in the US Capitol rotunda."

[reference: Declaration of Independence (1819)/wikipedia.com ]
 
And this painting, in the public domain, is a favorite graphic for articles about American history and the first Fourth of July. Such as in this US Independence Day video, which most elegantly gives their tribute:



With the YouTube video are the comments of its creator:

"The Fourth of July is more than just a date on a calendar. It is the celebration of an event which transformed a nation and eventually changed the world. It is the day on which our founding fathers declared their independence and forged the way for fledgling nation to become great. 

"As the Independence Day video announces, 'Freedom is not a work of men alone. It is a gift from the Almighty God.'

"This spiritual freedom is the freedom that the patriotic video celebrates. Using memorable images of Christian history and heritage--such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington's crossing of the Delaware--the video tells a message of our freedom and focuses upon God, the source of true freedom and deliverance. 

This short July Fourth video will tell a message of hope and deliverance, while at the same time expressing appreciation for the United States of America."

I cannot say it better than that.

But as the quote above says - Freedom is not a work of men alone. It is a gift from the Almighty God. 

But whoever looks intently 
into the perfect law that gives freedom, 
and continues in it—
not forgetting what they have heard, 
but doing it—
they will be blessed 
in what they do. 
James 1:25 (NIV) 


Since the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers expressed Faith in the Foundation of the Bible and the Judeo-Christian values for the new republic and for governing the nation, as seen in the montage below:




And without faith
it is impossible to please God,
because anyone
who comes to Him
must believe that He exists
and that He rewards those
who earnestly seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

It's been over 240 years...
As we celebrate this holiday in the 21st century, may we heed the advice of  Krista Branch's song, Remember Who We Are.



This Fourth of July may we remember the blessings of God and be thankful for the Faith of our Founding Fathers.

As we look back, St. Paul's words can apply to them...

We remember
before our God and Father
your work produced by faith,
your labor prompted by love,
and your endurance inspired by hope
in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)


Amen.

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Other post in the series:

Faith (part 1) - Star Trek and Christianity 

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photo: Declaration of Independence (1819)/wikipedia.com

Friday, June 16, 2017

PPP (part 1) - All Men are Liars

Proverb Scroll/wikipeida.com

Remember this childhood taunt on the playground?

Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Nose as long as a telephone wire.
[ reference: Liar Liar ]

And how many have heard this joke?


How to tell a politician is lying...his lips move. 
[ reference:  How to tell...]


And there is much said about this in Psalms and Proverbs about Politics.

Here we go....

Psalms:

King David once said -

I said in my haste,
All men are liars.

Psalm 116:11 (KJV)

And I've heard it said, after giving it a lot of thought, many of us come to that same conclusion -

Everybody lies

So did House, the surly doctor in the TV series named after his character, House (2004 - 2012).




"It's a basic truth of the human condition
that everybody lies. 
The only variable is about what."

Indeed that's a proverb. And there's many like them.

Proverbs:

King David's son Solomon gave this nugget -

The lip of truth shall be established for ever:
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 12:19 (KJV)

But what about this moment? The politically expedient.

Politics:

We've seen this play out in the various types of media. Below is a clip that could be the playbook for many a politician from the old movie, A Guide for the Married Man (1967)

It is described as: A man gives his co-worker a series of lessons on how to cheat on one's wife without being caught. 

Like who are going believe, me or your lying eyes as shown in this scene below:


Deny, Deny, Deny

In thousands of years, human nature hasn't change.

And as King Solomon once said:
...
and there is no new thing under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV)

And the words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah about lying are just as true today.

For your hands are defiled with blood,
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies,
your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Isaiah 59:3 (KJV)

The song below contain those words of the prophet as a lament, but also hope as offered in the Gospel:



( reference: https://youtu.be/62p_JWGBRlM    )


Here are the full lyrics from the The Liberated Wailing Wall - I Am Not Ashamed

* The Arm of the Lord

* I Am Not Ashamed

And as our country is so divided and evil seems to be unleashed, a look at Psalms and Proverbs along side Politics can illuminate the Sign of the Times as well offer some hope for troubling days.

So begins the new thread ...

PPP - Psalms, Proverbs and Politics

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Science 101 (part 6) - June's Strawberry Moon

Strawberry/wikipedia

Coming June 9, 2017 is the full moon. And as EarthSky reports, the year's smallest moon.
[reference:  Year’s smallest full moon on June 9 ]

But such beauty in nature deserves a more than just the scientific facts.

The June full moon of Native American folklore is the Strawberry Moon. Its European counterpart, the Rose Moon. Where the sky and earth meet in the eye of the beholder.

Its story is told below:




For more information where science meets folklore, check out:

*  National Geographic article: Full Moons: What's in a Name? 

*  The Old Farmer's Almanac: Full Moon for June 2017


Science written  in earth and sky. 
Spring to Summer.
It's June.

The time when flowers come to full blossom.
Earth's fruits to fruition. 

And a favored month for marriages.
New beginnings on earth.

  
Blessings....
And enjoy the strawberries!

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Previous posts in this series:

Science 101 (part 1) - Vernal Equinox  (2013)

Science 101 (part 2) - The Sound of Music? (2013)

Science 101 (part 3) - From Galileo to Apollo (2013)

Science 101 (part 4) - Cosmos Continued ... (2014) 

Science 101 (part 5) - August Meteor Showers (2016)


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Photo: Strawberry/wikipedia

Monday, May 22, 2017

Write Stuff (part 1) - Give them Hope

Auschwitz - Rose left on a stone/wikipedia.com


 A rose left at Auschwitz. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. As the rose above symbolizes hope in the dark pit of despair. And it's hope that makes or breaks the story.

End of April, I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs. One of the prequel workshops I attended was  The Emotional Craft of Fiction. Bringing emotion into our novels.

The author, Donald Maass facilitated the workshop. He started by stating that he saw more emotion in the short ads of last Superbowl than many of the manuscripts he was reviewing at the time.

Here is one such example from Superbowl Ad 2017, a 60 second beer ad, which may be what he was talking about:




The workshop was intense. And I would do it again. But in this short post, I can only convey a key point .

As in any writing, there are many ways and styles. No right or wrong way. The attendees spent the day exploring that. But in the end, the reader is sovereign.

Yet the mark of good fiction is that it changes us, the reader. And we care about the characters on the journey. We make an emotional connection with them. Their journey is our journey. Their struggles are our struggles. It becomes part of our long term memory.

What came to mind was the running theme in The Lord of the Rings movies. That emotional connection with the struggle is why this is my favorite scene.


In destroying the ring, Sam's impossible quest is our quest. His struggle is our struggle. As he sums it up:  There is some good in this world...And it's worth fighting for.

And to sum up the workshop in three words, what the author must do for the reader is...

Give them hope.

And so with hope, I start of another thread.

Write Stuff.

Our journey as writers is making the stuff to connect. And it's worth writing for!

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Similar Posts on topic:





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Photo from: Auschwitz - Rose left on a stone/wikipedia.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pray4America (part 20) - Australia still has our back!

kangaroo/wikipedia.com

Anne Graham Lotz, the chairperson of the National Day of Prayer, invites us to pray for the healing of America on May 4th, 2017.



And one of the themes  comes from from Daniel 9:19

Lord, listen! 
Lord, forgive!
Lord, hear and act! 
For Your sake, my God, do not delay,
 because Your city and 
Your people bear your Name.

And down under, in Australia, Warwick March announced their National Day of Prayer and Fasting team has set aside  this April 30 - May 4. 2017, to intercede for America.



And they continue with the theme, II Chronicles 7:14

If my people, 
who are called by My Name, 
will humble themselves and pray 
and seek My face and 
turn from their wicked ways, 
then I will hear from heaven, 
and I will forgive their sin and 
will heal their land.

For we have this promise...

Therefore confess your sins to each other 
and pray for each other 
so that you may be healed. 

The prayer of a righteous person 
is powerful and effective.

James 5:16 (NIV)

God bless Australia!
And God bless America!

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Photo: kangaroo/wikipedia.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nostalgia (part 8) - April Showers

April Showers/everystockphoto.com

April showers
Bring May flowers


Learned that as a child.

Still true.

And one of my nostalgic memories is when my dad took me to Disney movies in the drive-in as a kid. One of those movies was Bambi (1942). And he laughed at Thumper and Bambi more than I did.

But one of the scenes was Bambi experiencing his first spring - April showers.




As I look out my window, 
I see the April showers
come and go. 
Sometimes,
snow. 

But the wet weather doesn't last. The sun comes out.

The grass is greening up. The buds bursting on trees. Birds are nesting. And yes, the deer and the bunnies are frolicking in the meadows. Like Bambi and Thumper.

Bambi was awed by nature. Like the young ones born in spring find all things new and wonderful.

And Disney tapped into our inner child. So as we get older, we may still wonder, too.

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Photo from: April Showers/everystockphoto.com



Monday, March 20, 2017

Biblia Files (part 7) - Follow Me

The Good Shepherd/everystockphoto.com

As I write, we are half-way through Lent.

And below is a video of what it may have been like if Jesus walked the earth during the days some social media. Especially twitter. And hash tags. Such as #jesustweeters.



(reference: https://youtu.be/S-hW680pCLs )  


Follow Him? Where will He take us?

The Good Shepherd only knows. But we have His promise:


When Jesus spoke again to the people,
  
He said,
 
 “I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me
will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” 
 John 8:12(NIV)


Blessings to all who follow Him
and spread His Word in every wa
y,
including on social media.


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Biblia Files (part 6) - Crowns and Frowns (2015)

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photo: The Good Shepherd/everystockphoto.com


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Timeless Truths (part 7) - Fighting for that Inch

NFL gameball/wikipedia.com

I have a confession....

I'm not a sports fan. Especially of football.

In high school, yes. I played in pep band. Attended most of the games. Rooted for the home team. I knew all the players, the cheerleaders, the mascot, the pep club, and my fellow pep band members.

After high school, life got in the way. And I didn't pay much attention to sports.

But while on vacation, going south to the warmer climes, we rendezvoused with friend, who was a sports fan.  In the lounge of the motel room we hunkered down to watch the game:

Super Bowl LI

Patriots vs. Falcons

I enjoy the Super Bowl ads. Usually watch them over and over again on YouTube.  I wondered what Lady Gaga would do for half-time. And she did not disappoint her audience.

First half of the game, the Patriots were getting slaughtered. It looked like it was over.

During half-time, I wondered what was being said the locker room.  All the Falcons had to do was to run out the clock.The Patriots? I thought of Al Pacino's inspirational speech in  Any Given Sunday (1999).

Fighting for that inch.

(caution: language)


Maybe the Patriots heard a speech like that. 

In the last half of game, a miracle happened. The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. The game went into over-time. Never happened before.
 
The instant playbacks showed the players catching the ball within a inch of the ground, staying in-bounds by that inch, making the goal by an inch.

  
It was the inches that won the game. A real-time drama that was stranger than fiction. 

Other words....
  
The Best Game Ever!
  
 An inspiration to never give up. And fight for those inches. Even if it's never been done before.

That game was a great life lesson. Even made a football fan out of me. And that was a miracle.

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Timeless Truths (part 6) - Magna Carta - 800 years and still going strong (2015)


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

America's Story (part 21) - Is America Great?

Reagan 80/Wikipedia.com
Make America Great Again

That slogan can be read that America is no longer great. But we want to be. Again.

And that was Donald Trump's slogan in the 2016 presidential campaign. And it was used before. In 1980. By Ronald Reagan. As shown on the button above.

Both campaigns were decades apart. But in some ways very similar. Both were successful. Both candidates won the White House.

The zeitgeist (spirit of the times), was pessimistic. Angry. Dispirited. As many Americans perceived their country was in a downward spin into the dustbin of history.

In 1980:  We suffered a malaise from stagflation to the Iran Hostage Crisis.

In 2016:  A majority (up 70% to 80%, at times) believed the country was going in the wrong direction.Direction of Country polling ]

And during this zeitgeist, I remember getting email from a friend in 2012.  It contained video link, described as  The Most Honest Three and Half Minutes of Television

It still has been making the rounds in social media. And it comes to this conclusion...

America is not the greatest country in the world anymore

Oh, no. Not this again.

That case was made on the TV series, The Newsroom (2012-2014).

It begins, first of all, with the reporter, Jeff Daniel's character Will McAvoy establishing himself as a non-partisan journalist. Objective. Unbiased. A man we can trust. At least in this fictional world.

When asked why America is the greatest country in the world (after hearing the cliche answers of his colleagues), he hesitates.  Reluctant to answer. But he has a cheerleader in the crowd encouraging him with flash cards.

And the drama builds. The answer is finally dragged out of him. Like pulling teeth. It's torture. He finally admits it:

America is not the greatest country in the world. 

Then he peppers the audience with a bucket load of statistics to support this claim. Looking sad and even mourning his dismal conclusion. Yet offering a pearl of wisdom that recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it.

Here is the clip that had many of us (myself included) wringing our hands. Warning, some profanity:


Yep. Four years ago, I bought into this brutal honesty. Hook. Line. And sinker. I even blogged about it: AI (part 1) - American Ingenuity 

Here are some points I made in that 2012 post:

The anchor seems to mourn for what we Americans used to be. And here are a few nibbles -

We stood up for what was right ... we reached for the stars ... acted like men ... we aspired to intelligence ... we didn't scare so easy ...

He ends his rant ...

First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. ... Enough?

Then I heard a rebuttal to that scripted rant worth considering.

It's described as: A thorough slap down and rebuttal to Jeff Daniels' viral anti-America Newsroom scene, in which he claims that America is not the greatest country in the world.


Hmmm. Some fact checking here.

Other countries with freedom? Saying other countries have freedom, does not make it so. Not when speech, religion, self-defense, moving between the classes, access to education, opportunity is curtailed or defined by the state.

Statistics? Easy to lie with statistics. Mislead. Compare apples to oranges.

But with freedom comes responsibility. In absence of an overbearing "Nanny State" comes the freedom to make wrong choices. And that has consequences, which are not good. And are reflected in some statistics that point that we can do better.

It comes down to: Freedom vs. Tyranny. And I blogged about that in 2014: Too Weak to Live With Freedom?

Freedom wins. Because it's right.

And...

Is America is great?

You bet. As long as we are free.

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Other posts in this series:



America's Story (part 19) - Trinity and "The Long Peace"  (2015)

America's Story (part 20) - Patton's Weather Prayer (2015)

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