Reality Check

An important topic came up in this weekend’s Sunday morning conversation.  “Your generation needs a reality check.  Kids believe in playing games all day.” The topic was idols and the generation’s dependency on them.

Let me quote Isaiah 44:9-10, 15-17, and 19, an explanation of what God thinks of idols: “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.  Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing?…It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill.  He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down and says, ‘Save me; you are my god.’ …No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” (NIV)

Isaiah tells us that the items themselves are worthless.  We needn’t defend them against harsh words.  They aren’t sin. But at the same time, they can lead to sin.   Anything that you love unconditionally which gets in the way of your service for God is considered an idol.  If you love something too much to set aside when God calls, you should check your priorities.  That’s an idol: not the object itself, but your level of respect for it.

Anything can be idolized.  Do you love something that’s important to you? Ask God in humble prayer if its ok to feel your heart’s involvement.  Promise your loyalty to Him.  Check your life.  What’s important to you?  Do you love video/computer games, politically pushed values, or hyped movies? Youtube? Is personal nit-picks, team loyalty, or lucrative money-spending of high caliber in your life? Do you consider PhDs, pledges from trendy celebrities and TV publicity, or searches on the internet as a reliable source of information?  Listen for God’s answer: does any of this get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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To Infinity and Beyond! (From Abstract to Absolute)

You must have felt, the air is chilly, when that craving for hot, steamy satisfying tea appears, where you crave that comfortable heat to fill your body, your hands, your head, your heart; you don’t want to freeze, so you want hot tea. Your favorite flavor may be zesty lemon, fresh mint, or spicy cinnamon. “Ahhh” would be a natural reaction your lungs have when steam fills yours nostrils, cheeks begin to rosy up, and your nose gets runny.

That’s how I feel when I get tea. You?

At least with the leading brands like Yogi, tearing back the paper and pulling out the stringed teabag lately brings the reading of a wise proverb. One tea stated,

“Love without trust is like a river without water”.

I like that one. Another tea stated,

“The gate to happiness is self-compassion”.

(What is happiness? …self-compassion?)

Wise sayings like these are usually harmless. Mostly they hold some truth, take them as they are. However, the second message (about self-compassion) can be interpreted both to harm and not to harm, due to its abstractness. For example:

A mother’s interpretation might be: “I should care about me this weekend. I’ll soak in a long bath while the hubby’s home.” Mostly harmless.

A painter’s interpretation: “Heed not the family business. Instead, do what makes me happy and go to art school.” Maybe harmful, maybe not.

But then a troubling interpretation from an angry teen: “To protect myself, I should get rid of the bullies. Tomorrow the gun goes in my backpack.” Mostly harmful!

Do you see where I’m going?

There’s no need to blame the teabags for sinister influence. These sayings are far too short and vague for the granting of ill intentions, and it’s entirely the responsibility of each person how he thinks, how he plots, or how he reacts. Right?

With that said, what concerns my writing today is the manner in which we consume abstract thoughts like these – even if each person is responsible for their own living and own behavior, it is the responsibility of a society, or a community, to provide the ambience needed for people to produce good thoughts each on their own.

It is a matter of how we habitually think and live. If we make a habit of consuming messages that are vague and abstract, our lives will be lived in the same abstractness. Our lives will be lived for the general purposes of “happiness”, “wellness”, or “productivity”; that is, the persons that we are will become bounded to the finite. The predictable. The limited. The temporary. Without the eventual consumption of that which is deep, unlimited, and endless, we will never find the absolute truth that sets us free.

As I have taught from week to week for more than a year now on my blog, I teach again: we can find that absolute truth by reading the entire Bible. It allows us to live a life boundless and free, unpredictable, unimaginable, and everlasting. Partly the purpose of my blog has always been to discuss again and again the Scriptures so you will come to know the Bible without having to read it alone and in cold, hard truth. I pray you come to see the burdens-lifting message of the gospel.

The inspiration of my writing today came from a teabag message I have not yet shared with you. I believe it is my favorite, because it brings to my mind the entirety of Christ. Quote:

“Love is an experience of infinity.”

What Yogi meant by putting it on its product I don’t know. Maybe,

God is love.

Love at its fullest mends all hurts.

Love shared by two people has an out of this world feeling.

Lovers are metaphorically stargazers who will never see every star no matter how long they gaze.

Love literally does not stop when completely unconditional.

Love has no ending of explanations.

Christ, however, reveals the quote much less abstractly, in fact, as Paul states it, there was a mystery and that mystery is now seen in Christ. All that was abstract is now absolute in our Lord and King who reigns on heaven and in earth. Read this passage in Ephesians 3:14-21 to get a true taste of infinity!

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

 

 

Happy 1st Anniversary, Art and Learn

11:51 PM my time, and for 9 more minutes it is a Happy Anniversary to my blog’s 1st year up and running, or shall I say up and writing? Hmm. ^^ Above there is a slideshow Kat and I made for our parents’ 40th anniversary. Included are some beautiful pictures from their honeymoon on a Holy Lands cruise. I also arranged my song “Kind Words” on piano for the special occasion. Enjoy!

The Lion and the Lamb, by Lacy Andrews

Slain, on a cross, crucified,

Treated like a lamb, sacrificed,

By the very people who should exalt Him,

He was spit upon, punished.

 

Born to die, pure and true,

He was treated so badly, so cruel:

The Way, the Truth, and the Life,

But they didn’t listen, and He was sentenced to die.

 

They thought they were rid of Him, relieved,

But three days later He had victory,

A Lion transformed from a Lamb,

And Satan lost to God’s glorious plan.

 

Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb,

Our very Savior, the very hope of every man.

Now we can stand our ground against evil,

And never have to face that eternal destiny of Hell.

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 3

COCOA: Detective Snowy, Detective Snowy, where are you?  (sniff, sniff) I smell trouble.  (sniff, sniff) Something is wrong.

(HAPPY and FABLE enter)

COCOA: Has anyone seen Detective Snowy? We need to make tracks and find the last clue. I can’t find my detective.

HAPPY: No, Cocoa. I haven’t seen her anywhere.  It’s not like Snowball to be late for VBS. Something must have happened.

FABLE: She was going to the mouse alley earlier this morning to visit her friends.  But she should be back by now.

COCOA: Detective Snowy is not here. I’ve sniffed everywhere. I’ve got to get busy and find her.

HAPPY: I’ll help you find Snowball. She might need some help.

FABLE: Yes. Let’s go to the mouse alley and find her.

(SNOWBALL enters “mewing”, without her spy glass and hat.)

COCOA: Detective Snowy. There you are! But, what happened to you? You look like you’ve been in a cat fight!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, don’t call me Detective Snowy. I’m just plain old Snowball.

COCOA: Snowball, what happened?

SNOWBALL: I went to the mouse alley this morning. I was with my friends Stuart and Fival, telling them about VBS, when the mean cats showed up.  The cats started chasing all the mice in the alley.

FABLE: It’s not nice to bother the little guys.

SNOWBALL: Those mean cats hurt Stuart and Fival. I got really mad. I tried to hold on to my temper like Jesus would, but I got so mad.  I started yelling at those other cats.  They had no reason to be mean to my friends. And I got madder because they wouldn’t stop it when I told them to. They started calling me names and THAT did it! I started throwing things around. I scared all the ugly old cats away, and I don’t think they’ll be coming back; but I broke my spyglass and lost my cap.

COCOA: Wow, you’ve had a rough time!

HAPPY: We should have been there to help you defend the mice.

FABLE: Are you okay, Snowball?

AllFour

SNOWBALL: I’m okay, Fable.  You all are such great friends.  You are loving and caring, and so faithful. You’ve got the characterprints of Jesus. I wish I had found the last characterprint before I got so angry. I don’t feel like I’m very much like Jesus. I didn’t find anybody who was brave and courageous.

COCOA: Snowball, Jesus did act like that in the temple. You missed our Bible story today. The Bible says that Jesus got angry with the ones who were being mean to others.  God doesn’t like it when someone hurts others. Jesus showed us how mad God gets.  He threw the table down and ran the mean people out of the temple.

HAPPY: That’s right. God gets very angry at evil.

SNOWBALL: Yeah. But I still didn’t find the last character print. I’m not good enough to be a detective.  I needed to find someone who is brave and courageous.

FABLE: Snowball, I think we know who is brave and courageous.

SNOWBALL: Really? Who? Please tell me. Who is it?

HAPPY: It’s you, Snowball. You defended those poor little mice from the mean old cats, even when they insulted you.

FABLE: Jesus did the same thing.

COCOA: You are very brave, Snowball. Just like Jesus.

SNOWBALL: You guys can’t be serious! I can’t believe this. I have a characterprint like Jesus? Are you guys playing a joke on me?

HAPPY: No, Snowball. We really mean it.

SNOWBALL: Wow! I never thought I’d find any characterprints in me. I was surprised to find Cocoa was humble and loving, but me!? This is more than I ever expected! Are you guys positive I’m like Jesus?

FABLE: Yes, Snowball. We’re positive.

COCOA: So, Snowball. How do you feel now that you’ve found all the characterprints of Jesus? Are you proud of yourself?

SNOWBALL: Well, yeah. But not as much as I thought I would be. You all get the credit, too. A little. I did do most of it myself.

COCOA: What!?

SNOWBALL: Let’s review the character prints we found. Cocoa, you were humble when you took a flea bath, and you were loving when you let me change your name. Okay, it was ridiculous to change our names.

FABLE: Happy was faithful. He didn’t stop liking you when  you changed your names. He didn’t make fun of you either.

HAPPY: Fable was forgiving. He forgave Cocoa for what Cocoa said to him.

COCOA: You don’t have to  bring that up, do you?

FABLE: Don’t worry, Cocoa. I forgive you.

SNOWBALL: And I was brave and courageous. I saved the poor lSnowball-ENDittle mice from the mean cats.

COCOA: Yeah! You’re not Detective Snowy – you’re Catgirl, champion of mice!

SNOWBALL: Catgirl?

COCOA: Yes, you can be a super hero….and….I’ll be your dog!

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa. Let’s just be friends.  Let’s help each other be like Jesus. He’s the real super hero. Jesus Christ is the champion of the whole world.

COCOA: That’s right! Jesus loves everyone!

FABLE: And Jesus is forgiving.

HAPPY: Jesus is faithful.

SNOWBALL: Jesus is brave and courageous! He helps everyone who needs his help. He saves us all!

HAPPY: I hope everyone enjoyed VBS.

FABLE: I sure did.

SNOWBALL: So did I. I learned a lot and I hope I can come back next summer!

HAPPY: Well, bye everyone!

SNOWBALL: Yeah, bye everyone!

FABLE: I hope you continue to have the character prints of Jesus all your life.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, why aren’t you saying goodbye to everyone?

COCOA: I’m thinking about changing my name to Champion.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, say good-bye to the audience.

COCOA: Good-bye to the audience. Oh! Bye everyone. I hope you will go into all the world and make tracks for Jesus!

SNOWBALL: Hey, Cocoa, Fable, Happy, let’s go eat! I’m starving!

COCOA: Yeah! Let’s make tracks to my house! I’ve got some mice in the freezer!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! Don’t make me mad!

COCOA: I’m just kidding, Snowball.

(All puppets leave stage.)

(Behind curtain) COCOA: Ow! I’m just kidding Snowball.

THE END

VBS & Puppet Skit Fun

As a kid, I loved playing with puppets.  I would always write my own puppet plays and play them out for Lacy or for my stuffed animals or parents (depending on if Lacy wanted to play puppets with me or if she wanted to just watch.)  In 6th grade my best friend and I were the puppeteers for the school counselor, although that wasn’t much fun because the voices were pre-taped and we just moved the puppets’ arms around and their mouths according to the voices talking.

In Sunday school, I was a puppeteer when my parents taught the children’s Bible hour.  It was loads of fun, and I loved helping my mom write the plays that would speak to the younger kids each Sunday.  I would have even more fun playing the voice of one or two of the puppets.

In the summer of 2000, my church was holding a 3 day VBS, “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus”.  There were 5 lessons:

Lesson 1 – Jesus was humble.

Lesson 2 – Jesus was forgiving.

Lesson 3 – Jesus was faithful.

Lesson 4 – Jesus was loving.

Lesson 5 – Jesus was brave.

The point of the VBS was to encourage the kids to be detectives and find out ways to be like Jesus Christ.  I remember, the instigator of the VBS was trying to come up with a fun way to close out each day’s activities, and so my mom offered us to make a puppet skit and put it on for the rest of the kids (and adults, too).  I had so much fun with VBS that year.  Mom played the cheery Happy the bear, Lacy played the lighthearted Cocoa the dog, I played the sassy Snowball the cat, and we got another gentle-voiced woman from church to play the amiable Fable the panda.  Needless to say, our skits were a hit.

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Chivalry, Vileness, and Death

An armored Knight galloped on a horse so fine,

A white horse: that milky, pale mare,

And the Knight, pure and refined,

He portrayed heroism, indeed.

~ ~

Dark eyes watched enemies at abroad horizons,

Surveyed lands: lush, green grasslands,

Emitting a bright sword, so pious,

Its appearance was crimson-free.

~ ~

His cape draped over the back of his mare,

A strong shield: a firm, polished helmet,

Those were all attributes he handled with care.

He had a character that was careful and clean.

~ ~

His heart was saddened, though,

From an attempt, an awful, fatal attempt,

That a Princess had sworn by, she chose

To be bound by a deadly creed.

~ ~

Dragon was fierce; he cared for no one,

Angry feelings: angry, livid rage,

He had a personality feared by everyone.

This Princess was a prisoner of his greed.

~ ~

She had what he wanted: she had what he needed,

Her beautiful heart: a kind and gentle heart,

Yet timidity, her one weakness,

She was Dragon’s key.

~ ~

The door to life, everlasting riches,

Promised to those who contained kind hearts,

He planned on killing her, hence,

To obtain what he needed.

~ ~

Dragon had forced the Princess to surrender

Her life: Her precious and wholesome life.

So that he could be the one to live on forever.

He didn’t once take heed.

~ ~

The Knight on the horse, that milky, pale mare,

Was going to tell Dragon what he should hear.

So he galloped on his horse, that milky, pale mare,

Day by day, battling both cold and heat.

~ ~

He raced across plains, dashed through valleys,

The horse was always weary, but he was always brave,

Night after night for strength he prayed,

Dear Father, I don’t want to be too late.

~ ~

As the Knight arrived closer, every step at a time,

Dragon pined for that lovely immortality.

He laughed and mocked, but the Princess never whined;

She tried holding onto her faith.

~ ~

Dragon hated waiting, so he would linger no more!

Her heart he would take, that precious, pure heart,

From her, so he could live forevermore.

There would be no more wait.

~ ~

The Knight galloped on, so fast and never stalling,

When envisioning death, of his beautiful Princess,

How could he even think about stalling?

No, it couldn’t be too late!

~ ~

Dragon leered; he moved his claw across her skin.

The cackle was there, that crude, blunt cackling.

He began by pinning his claw to her chin,

And he knew then, that her skin soon wouldn’t be crimson-free.

~ ~

As he neared her chest with his sharp weapon,

A noise, an approaching, tedious noise,

Like the prancing of hooves, it startled Dragon,

And he turned to look and see.

~ ~

“Who is he?” Dragon sneered.

As he saw a bright and shining Knight.

He was mounted on horse, a milky, pale mare,

It was like this Knight was cloud sailing.

~ ~

“I am a knight,” he replied, “and this is my bride.”

“You think you can take her away?”

“Snatch her from my side?”

His hands were bruised, from much laboring.

~ ~

Even so, his bravery increased,

And he unsheathed a sword, so pious,

He dismounted his horse, and neared

The Dragon, who was glaring.

~ ~

“You can’t take what’s mine away,”

“You’re fate still remains the same, Dragon.”

“Even if you take my bride away,”

“You are still dying.”

~ ~

“Steal a heart, but you’ll remain in death,”

“Even if that heart’s full of kindness.”

“Change your own heart, and you’ll be free,”

“Life will be yours, and immortality.”

~ ~

Dragon refused to listen, and the Knight shook his head.

The Princess would be set free, but Dragon’s fate was death.

The Knight cast his sword forward, a tear slipping, and falling,

He was hoping Dragon would change his mind.

~ ~

But because of his stubbornness,

His foolish, stupid stubbornness,

Dragon would reap what he sowed.

His own vileness would heap and teem.

~ ~

It would become millions of times worse,

Than it was before: all the evil he had boasted,

Would bounce back, and be his curse,

Dragon would gnash his teeth.

~ ~

So it was done, the Knight pierced him:

Dragon cried in pain, a loud and mournful cry,

And he knew then, there would be no one to save him.

The knight blade was not crimson-free.

~ ~

The burning fire he had treated others to,

That seething, potent pain they felt,

Was now engulfing Dragon, who,

Had the choice to surrender and yield.

~ ~

The Knight bent down, and checked his bride,

To see if she was still humble.

He had saved her from death, and the Dragon’s pride,

Her heart, he had tried to steal.

~ ~

Microscope Eyes vs. Atoms, by Lacy Andrews

 

Vast,

Void, and abyssal,

Infinity is in the palms of God.

 

God,

Beyond infinite,

Our diminutive minds strain to see Him.

 

Man,

A speck, an atom,

But God’s microscope eyes can perceive us.

 

We,

Can see His glory,

Through the Creation: God’s Infinity.

 

That,

Is nature: cosmos,

The universe is a mirror of God.

The Crux at Paradise

INTRODUCTION

At one point or another, I’m pretty sure everybody wonders what being filthy rich feels like. I never believed my mom when she said “Big pockets belong to big liars”, but after spending a week at the Bahamas with the richest scamp on the planet, I think I’m a believer.

As if that’s not shocking enough, this “rich scamp”? He might just be the ghost of a ruthless pirate.

I’m not crazy! Bahamian legends foretell about all the murderous things pirates are capable of. I have lots of evidence to back up my theory.

My suspicions all started after sitting in a squeaky clean limousine…

 

Read more

WordPress & the Forgotten Ham

For anyone who knows me, they will tell you that I’m a meticulous person. It comes in handy sometimes, it’s not always a bad thing, to look at the details, but it can be annoying for my friends. On any given day, you can find me checking Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIN, Deviantart, and so on, for anything new that I need to read or check. New tweets, follows, likes, etc.

But WordPress truly cuts the cake. It broke the mold. It has a bulky interface that makes it difficult to track everything (follows, likes, comments, and email subscriptions), and now I feel a bit sorry that so many comments have gone unread. There’s nothing I can do except write this post saying sorry and asking for all my commenters to come again to sign the guestbook and comment!

What’s the point of having a guestbook if readers are barred from signing it? That’s exactly what I feel happened with my blog. Very sad!

I’ll explain.

I’ve had my blog since August last year. For 5 months, all comments were going to the spam inbox where they awaited moderation, which means if I do not approve them, each one individually, they automatically get deleted after 30 days. Since I didn’t realize this fact, and I didn’t know I had a spam inbox because I didn’t frequent the WP Admin part of my WordPress account, I just now learned that 112 comments got deleted without me ever seeing them!

Now maybe some of them were spam, although some of them were labeled under ham (the word for messages marked as non-spam). I feel a little horrible inside knowing I got over 100 comments that I was never able to read. Surely it would have made my blog experience less lonely, and it would have helped me be more encouraged to write.

As a result of this lesson, I am going to open up commenting on nearly all my past posts, and I ask for you to please try commenting again if you left a comment before that was never seen. Tell us how we’re doing, we’d love to hear from you. Hugs to all the commenters that posted forgotten ham.