Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Opus 2011-374, Discernment Watch: Is Discipling Biblical?

One of the great memes of the church for a time was the idea of discipling.  By some strange coincidence it came shortly after the culture was getting into small groups, sensitivity sessions, faith walks and all of that psychological paraphernalia. 

The idea was that we all need to be discipled.  We need to go through a period where we are trained one-on-one by someone more mature that we are.  It is not a bad concept.  It can work.  The problem is when we place too much emphasis on it or make it a litmus test.  One of the examples that is constantly referred to is Jesus and the Twelve.  Take this paragraph from a book of the era,
    “Christ Himself has set the pattern.  He spent most of His time with twelve - with eternal results.  He called the twelve that He might be with them.  He worked with them, trained them, and loved them, and He let them train each other.  There was a cross-current of the work of God’s Spirit as these disciples were together.

    “Discipling is as critical a need as there is among believers today.  Every Christian needs some older Christian he’s learning from, and some younger Christian he’s teaching.  It’s the function of the whole body to do this.”  p. 65
The issue is not “is this a good thing?”  The issue is the position that it is a requirement.

Think about it.  The disciples were personally trained by Jesus and it was the apostle Paul, who never physically met Jesus who became the great evangelist.  He learned how to be effective by studying the word, the work of the holy Spirit and a personal encounter with the living Christ.  This works against all out theories of discipling.

In fact the men who spent so much time with Jesus were pretty useless until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and got them moving.

What we as believers need is not more training, more books, more classes.  What we need is more power and more obedience.  We already know more than we are doing.  Our hearts and minds are reasonably full but our lives are not reflecting the contents.

Let’s get salty.  Let’s stand up and be counted.  Let’s speak up for truth in public meetings and private conversations.  Let’s seek our own personal Pentecosts to begin the revival that our world needs. 

Salt is used in grains, not blocks.

Ortlund, Raymond C.  Lord, Make My Life a Miracle.  Glendale:  Regal Books, 1974.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 30, 2011

Opus 2011-373, New Years Thanksgiving

My wife left this morning for therapy.  She has knee replacements in her future and pain in her present.  I took one of our cars and left it with out mechanic.  He has a hard time working because of joint pain.  If he could afford it, he might be having knees replaced.  Everywhere I go I see people in electric wheel-chairs, many of which probably need them through no fault of their own.  I went to dinner with a couple.  The wife had to stop half way through dinner to check her blood and give herself a shot.  I have a brother who died of a rare blood cancer.

These observations put the complaints I might have about life in a different context.  I have problems, yes.  Some are even real.  In the midst of that I am aware of how many blessings I have.  I am reminded today as I walked back from the mechanics shop, from one who aches to one in pain, that I was still moving freely.  I am grateful and took the opportunity to lift those up in prayer along with a lady who has an infant niece having brain surgery, a fellow blogger who has a wife going through brain surgery, and....  You get the idea.

Thanksgiving is not a day in November.  Thanksgiving is a daily awareness of the blessings that God touches us with.  It is also an opportunity to remember others who might need a special touch of grace.

Happy New Year’s Thanksgiving

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Opus 2011-372, Spiritual Gifts: Hospitality

(1 Peter 4:9 KJV)  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

I believe that hospitality (5382) is a spiritual gift.  It is not on all lists, but I think it is part of the building up of the body of Christ.  One reason I can see this as a gift is because of the verse that follows this one,
(1 Peter 4:10 KJV)  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Hospitality is an interesting word.  It is a compound word in the Greek made up of two words you would be familiar with.  The first is philios, or brotherly love.  We see it in words like filial and names like Philadelphia.  The second part is xenos which means stranger.  We use the word in xenophobia and such.

I think this word would be the direct opposite of xenophobia which is directly out of the Greek.  Xenophobia means “fear of strangers.”  philoxenos means “love of stranger.”  One is the standard of the world; the other, the church.  They are only a few letters apart.

There is a bit of confusion on this gift.  Once when teaching on spiritual gifts I had the class take a survey on spiritual gifts.  A large number of them came up with the gift of hospitality yet one of the big weaknesses of that church was that they did not reach out to new people.  Something did not add up.  Much of the incongruity came from understanding the meaning of the gift.  Hospitality is not knowing how to set a table and which fork to use.  It is more an attitude toward reaching out and caring about others.

A good example would be Mary and Martha.  The gift of hospitality is not the person who knows how to use the good china and who knows how to put a meal on time.  That was Martha.  She was concerned with the production.  Hospitality is in the hearts of people who make others comfortable in their home.  That was more Mary. 

When you are greeted by someone with the gift of hospitality, you come, you sit and you feel like you belong, not like you are an imposition.  If someone has the gift of hospitality the people eating with you don’t worry about the right fork or the quality of the food, but enjoy the fellowship that has been established along with the food.  Tuna casserole is enough when the gift of hospitality is present.  Of course the person with the gift would be sensitive to the fact that you hate tuna casserole and would not serve it, but that is another story. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Opus 2011-371, On the Street: Hypocrisy on Wheels

I few days ago I was following a pickup with a decal on the window.  At a stop sign I was able to get close enough to read it.  It said, “Gas Sucks, Ride a Bike.”  Okay, I get the message.  What I did not understand was why this decal was on a 4 wheel drive, raised frame, gas sucker. 

A bit of cognitive dissonance here?

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines, I think it is from The Princess Bride, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

homo unius libri

Monday, December 26, 2011

Opus 2011-370, Links: A Thought on Tithing

I was reading on the blog “Cross Eyed” and came across a link to another article on tithing.  The entire article was good but the author included a thought that had never occurred to me before.  I include the paragraph that struck me along with a link to “Money Matters: How Much Do I Give?” 

“So what do we do with the tithe? Does God tell us today that we need to continue giving 10%? Well, that isn’t ever expressed clearly in the New Testament. The tithe is never reaffirmed and it is never canceled. But what is clear is that all of the New Testament laws were not lowered but heightened after Christ. The Old Testament warned against adultery; Jesus warned against a lustful glance. The Old Testament warned against murder; Jesus warned against even a hate-filled thought. Those Old Testament laws were a starting point to a much greater kind of obedience. Out of obedience to Christ and because of what Christ has done, the stakes have all been raised.”
This presents a Biblical approach to an old question.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-369, Euphoric Epiphany

Christmas is a day.  Advent was a season leading up to Christmas.  Epiphany is still coming so the season is not over.  Our Orthodox brethren celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 6 which is Epiphany in the West, the coming of the Wise men.

Why is this important?  It means that you can still celebrate.  Most important, you can still play your Christmas music without being a heretic.  Actually I like to hear “Joy to the World” in June.

Remember that the first line is “Joy to the world, the Lord is come...”  It does not say “has come” or “did come.”  It is in the present tense.  In Greek we would have a way of saying it that makes it clear that it is an ongoing action.

So keep on celebrating until Lent. 

Emmanuel.  God is with us.

Euphoric Epiphany and Happy New Year.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Opus 2011-368, The Nature of a Child

If you have ever worked with children, you know some of the questions they can ask.  “Did the baby Jesus dirty his diapers?”  “Did the baby Jesus know He was God?”  Of course some of us still wonder about those things as we get older.

One of the mysteries I expect to research in the University of the New Jerusalem has to do with Jesus childhood.  On one side we have the indication that Jesus grew up as a normal child.  He lived in submission to His parents.  He was trained by Joseph to be a carpenter.  He had brothers who tried to control His behavior.

At the same time He was Almighty God.  This is what the incarnation is all about. 
(John 1:14 KJV)  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
So I wonder what Jesus was like as a child.

I know what other children are like.  I have experienced it.  I was a child.  I have dealt with it as a parent, teacher, uncle and member of society.  And I have read what the Bible has to say about children.  Like so many other great truths a child has different sides.  My first born was hideous.  He was covered with blood and a white chalky substance.  Underneath he was blue.  His face looked like a clay model that had run into a wall.  At the same time he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen:  He was my firstborn.

So on one side we have Jesus and children. 

(Matthew 19:14 KJV)  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus got along well with children.  They enjoyed being with Him.  He looked at the positive qualities of childhood and told us to grow up and become like children.

(Luke 18:17 KJV)  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

So we see that there is a side of childhood that is good.

We get a different picture if we read other places.

(Proverbs 22:15 KJV)  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Maybe part of the difference was that Solomon had children and Jesus didn’t.  Or it could be that both are true. 

We are touching on the Biblical teaching about Original Sin or Depravity.  As beautiful and wonderful as children are there is still a foundation of self-centeredness and rebellion that marks them as needing a savior.  This is one of the differences between the Biblical nature of humanity and the secular view. 

This is a vital difference.  The church is letting it go and we are paying the price.  Schools assume that children are not the problem, society is the problem.  Thus the vast majority of teachers think that all education needs is more money and slicker programs.  All we need to do is train teachers with better methods and children will turn into enlightened and benevolent adults.  Teachers are told to use methods such as cooperative learning and collaboration in order to let the wisdom of the child come out.  Much classroom time is wasted on such nonsense.

The Bible teaches that the child is a sinner.  He was born that way and remains that way until the grace of God is applied.

(Psalms 51:5 KJV)  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

You probably don’t like the idea.  The secular view is much more appealing.  Next time you are inclined to accept it, ask yourself what kind of inner goodness is being exhibited on the news when they talk about these mobs of young people running amok in malls and creating mayhem.  They have been told again and again that they are good and that society is wrong.

The message of Christmas is that man needs a savior.  The message of Christmas is that the Savior was born.  The message of Christmas is that He brings hope.

Pray that the message will break through.

May this year be the “fullness of time” in your life and the lives of those you love.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-367, Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.  May God’s blessing be upon you.

Now, turn off your computer and get back to your family.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Opus 2011-366, Agape/Chesed: It’s Over, and I Survived

My kids are home for the holidays.  One of the things my daughter and wife are doing is watching the videos we took when they were growing up.  I get called in for the key moments.  One clip they called me for was the kind of memory that you don’t want to have. 

My son was ten years old and having one of those moments.  Okay, it went on for years but this was a valley, not a peak.  I think the issue was cleaning out the dish washer.  I don’t know what possessed me but I had the video camera in my hand as the battle ensued and we moved toward victory.  There were times when I despaired that he would live to become an adult.  He was strong willed and intelligent.  Oh, yeah, also defiant. 

Only the grace of God got us through those years.  Intellectually I know we went through it but the video brought back the raw emotion and feelings of helplessness.  But we stuck to our guns and came through it.

I am telling you that if you have a child in that phase, victory is possible.  The rebellious hellion is still coming home and has turned into a fine young adult.

Prayer, patience and the power of the Holy Spirit will see you through.  It's what we call love, given and received.

Hang in there.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-365, Are You Ready for Christmas?

I am guessing that there is someone in your house that is running around frantically trying to put the finishing touches on Christmas.  Someone thinks that if they don’t wrap the presents perfectly then the day is ruined.  Another may think that the lack of something at dinner will destroy the effect of the whole meal.  Someone else may feel like the house is not clean enough.  It could be that the music isn’t Christmasy enough.  A dreadful reality may be that all of these thoughts are centered in one person.  I scary thought is that you are feeling them.

Relax.  Focus.  Enjoy.  The hard work has already been done.  Mary already went through labor.  By now she has probably written the thank you notes to the wise men and shepherds.  God has already managed to squeeze the fullness of the Godhead into the flesh of a man.

I know it doesn’t help but if the ham is a little over done, the truth is not changed.  Get it into your head and heart that the children came home to be with you, not because they could not buy a Honey Baked Ham themselves.  Give them the time, not the cheese balls.

Remember that Christmas is just the wake-up call.  It won’t be finished until we celebrate the resurrection.  Tomorrow is just the first act leading up to Easter. 

Merry Christmas.  Emmanuel.  God is with us.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 23, 2011

Opus 2011-364, Tax Dollars at Work: EBT

Have you seen the signs, “EBT accepted here”?  They are showing up in the most unlikely places.  On my way to work there is a liquor store that proudly announces it will accept EBT.  I have passed fast food joints that say they will take it.

EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer.  It is the new face of welfare.  It is a debit card that is given out instead of cumbersome checks.  It can be used two ways.  First, by replacing what used to called “food stamps.”  Second, it can be used for cash withdrawals under several different programs.  The money is deposited into individual accounts electronically.  It is a way of redistributing wealth without embarrassing those who are taking my tax money to buy their steak. 

For purposes of today’s point, I am going to pass on the topic of our government’s version of the Roman bread and circuses.  Let’s accept for today that we are going to make sure that no one goes hungry in America. 

That leaves open another big question.  Why are people allowed to use welfare subsidies to buy things at liquor stores, convenience stores and fast food outlets?  The first two charge much higher prices and are not good stewardship of my money.  That is what they are spending, my money.  They did not work.  They did not earn.  They did not produce.  The last purchase point is a recreational food source.  Why are the “poor” allowed to waste my resources in ways that I do not do myself.  Sure, I eat out.  Yes, I go to fast food places.  But not on other people’s money.

We need some serious adjustments on this.  With modern computer systems it would be very easy to limit where people shop with my money and what they buy.  It would be no problem to eliminate steak and pleasure foods and still allow them to get the nutrition they need.  Of course if we did that they might not vote for the same politicians.  O, wait, they aren’t citizens so they can’t vote, right?  You dreamer you.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Opus 2011-363, I Am Not a Burr Grinder

I was enjoying an Alistair Begg sermon on the way to work and then he took off on the Calvinist understanding of grace.  The first few sentences were good.  We are saved by grace, through faith.  Every believer knows the reference:
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
No believer can argue that.  It is a plain, clear statement.  We cannot earn our salvation.  We can never deserve it.  No Arminian, Roman Catholic or Orthodox believer who understand their own theology would disagree with that.  The problem is using that truth as a springboard for the mantra that nothing we do makes any difference.

Let me try to illustrate my problem.

I have come to enjoy a good cup of coffee.  In fact I enjoy many good cups of coffee.  I don’t claim to be a coffee snob.  As I tell my kids when they ask why I drink it, “I may not know what a really good cup of coffee is but I can tell when it is really bad.”  So I experiment but don’t base my life on it.

Recently, as part of my ongoing experiment, I found a burr grinder that I could afford.  A burr grinder chews up the coffee beans between gears or grinding surfaces instead of chopping them with whirling blades.  It gives a consistency to the coffee.  The grinder I got has about twelve settings from fine to course.  It has a hopper on the top for the beans and you can set it for how many cups to grind for.  It is a fun toy.  Now for the punch line:  Calvinists think of themselves as burr grinders.

The machine can do nothing on its own.  It just sits there.  When the Great Coffee Maker decides to make coffee, He puts in a precise amount of beans and sets the dials.  He then presses the button and wala, out comes ground coffee.  The coffee grinder has nothing to say about it.  It has nothing to say about the type of beans, the coarseness of the grind or how many cups are being made. 

I could live with that.  It gives a glorious picture of God’s love and provision, but....  What about the poor coffee grinder in the next house where the owner likes tea instead.  Through no fault of the grinder it gets thrown in the trash or put in a yard sale.  That is where this idea breaks down for me.  If I assume I am one of the ground (elect) I am happy, but what if I am not and want to be?  I hate being just a wannabe.  To me the picture doesn’t fit with verses like,
(John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Notice the “whosoever.”  And it is totally opposed to,
(2 Peter 3:9 KJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Notice that God is not “willing” that anyone perish.  Yet the road is narrow and few will find it.  There has to be an understanding that gives God and glory but allows us free will.

Am I just setting up a straw man?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Opus 2011-362, Agape/Chesed: Unprovoked Love, part 2

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NASB)  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Love is not provoked.  In a recent post I explored the type and frequency of response to provocation.  This post I have another question. “Do I develop this ability to unprovoked love by training and discipline or is it totally a gift that should arrive ‘ready to use’?” 

I see the place for discipline.  We often do things because of habit and lack of thought.  I am responsible to work on those.  Habits can be changed.  Thought can be engaged.  I am working on that.  Some people in my life have a special spiritual gift for punching my buttons.  I don’t know if it is deliberate or unconscious.  It doesn’t really matter, the verse above doesn’t limit my loving response to unconscious provocations. 

When I am around certain people I engage the Love.  I know what is coming and I prepare.  I call on God, get a different perspective, thicken my skin and put on a smile.  This helps me develop different habits of response. 

What about when I am blind sided?  I must confess my responses are not always the best.  Often they are not even unjustified, just unloving.  Here is where the love needs seen as a gift from God. 
(Romans 5:5 KJV)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
This would remind us that love comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  And of course we see love as part of the fruit of the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Someone pointed out that fruit is different than a gift.  Fruit is planted as a seed and grows to maturity.  This brings the two sides of the concern together.  When the Holy Spirit is in my life, He gives me the seeds of the fruit.  They do not mature overnight.  As I grow naturally and work on my discipline they are able to reach useful levels.  So I guess this is one of those both/and situations.  Love is both the product of discipline and a gift from God.

Lord, let my love be provoked less every day.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Opus 2011-361, Crazy Like a Parent

Our children have been able to arrange their schedules to be home for Christmas.  My son and I were discussing some of the lines I use at school.  For instance, when the kids tell me I am crazy, I tell them it is required for the job.  “In fact,” I tell them, “they have a box on the application which asks, ‘Are you crazy?’  If you don’t check it ‘yes’ they won’t hire you.”

I also tell them that I have hope for them because when my son was their age I tried to take him back to the hospital for a refund and he turned out fine. 

To that my son commented, “It might have had to do with parenting skills.” 

How can you argue with that.  But not being willing to let him have the last word I said, “Yeah, we had bad cop, good cop.”

Not being willing to let me get that last word (after all, I trained him) he observed, “Actually it was bad cop, worse cop.”

I can live with that.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 19, 2011

Opus 2011-360, Agape/Chesed: Unprovoked Love, part 1

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NASB)  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Love is not be “provoked” (3947)?  What does that mean?  On the surface it is obvious and we don’t want to ignore the obvious.  Love does not allow itself to be poked and prodded into a response of anger and hostility.  I guess you could consider it a combination of patience and kindness.  It is the application of turning the other cheek.

I understand that.  What I am struggling with is the repeated, day after day provocations that seem to never stop.

One question I have is, to quote David in the Psalms, “How long, O Lord?”  Or to ask the question that Peter asked,
(Matthew 18:21 KJV)  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
And of course Jesus gives us an answer,
(Matthew 18:22 KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
So it would seem that we are to keep on taking it on the chin, getting up again, smiling and going out to get hit again.  I am not satisfied with that.

First, it is the easy way instead of the loving way.  In Philippians Paul said,
(Philippians 2:3-4 KJV)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
After consulting other translations let me offer the Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase of verse 4
(Philippians 2:4 PPP) “You have a responsibility to do what is best for the other person, even when they don’t like it.”
Love is concerned with the other person.  When they are constantly practicing anti-social behavior it is not loving to grin and bear it.  We have the Biblical mandate to rebuke, reprove and correct.

So where does this leave us?  I think it might come down to the difference between reacting and responding.  Reacting is what we are warned against.  Someone pushes, we push back.  Someone attacks, we counter-attack.  Responding is a measured and thought out response.  It is not an angry retort but a careful statement of love.  One destroys.  One edifies.

The Highway of Holiness is not for the timid or the lazy.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Opus 2011-359, Christian Cliches: Scapegoat

Have you ever been the scapegoat?  This term has come to mean the one who is blamed for someone else’s failure.  It is a term from the Bible.

Look over Leviticus 16.  It has to do with the sacrificial system.  The first use of the term deals with the selection,
(Leviticus 16:10 KJV)  But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
This goat is not to be sacrificed.  It is to be let go, but a special ritual is to be performed first.
(Leviticus 16:21 KJV)  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
The goat is the one who receives all of the blame for the sins of Israel.  It is then taken out into the wilderness and released.  The goat did nothing.  It was chosen by lot.  It was blamed.

So when you are the scapegoat it is no reflection on you, but you will be blamed.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 16, 2011

Opus 2011-358, Tax Dollars at Work: How Many 911's to Change a Light Bulb?

Recently I was driving home from work and had an unusually long wait to get through an intersection.  When I got to the front of the line I could see what the hold up was.  Over at the side of the road a man sat on a bus stop bench.  Appearances are not everything but he had the fashion style of a homeless person.  Evidently he had been having some kind of problem.  The days of the Good Samaritan taking you to an inn are over.  Instead we had an ambulance, a team of paramedics with their truck, a fire truck, plus several police cars.  Because of the circus, a policeman was directing traffic.  His main purpose seemed to be to hold up the lane I was stuck in.  All of this for one man sitting on a bench.

He wasn’t laying on the ground.  He wasn’t writhing in agony.  He was sitting calmly answering their questions.  There did not seem to be any genuine crisis.

It is good that we live in a country that has safety nets.  The problem is that we have nets of gold.  One policeman with first aid training could have dealt with the problem.  The paramedics by themselves would have been overkill.  I realize you don’t know that when 911 is dialed but I think the fire truck was a bit much. 

You have all seen this going on around you.  It may make you feel secure.  It makes me feel sick enough that I almost want to dial 911.  Understand that nothing is free.  Each one of those highly paid professionals and those decked out vehicles must be paid for and you are doing the paying.  I have seen this at nursing homes.  All these vehicles for someone who is having a hard time getting up after a fall. 

We need some sanity.  We can take care of people without the overkill.  Keep the safety net but get rid of the gold grommets. 

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opus 2011-357, Is Life Sacred?

I am pro-life.  I believe that abortion is the killing of a human being.  Homicide can run the gamete from first degree murder to justifiable.  It depends on the situation.  The vast number of abortions are first degree murder.  A life is taken by calculation and planning for personal convenience.  At the other end you have an ever shrinking blip of cases where the physical life of the mother is honestly at risk.  With modern medicine this is rare, but it happens.  I believe one form of this is called octopic pregnancy where the egg lodges in the fallopian tubes and is guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman.  In these cases you must take one life so both don’t die.

Abortion is sin.  Abortion is evil.  Like all sin and evil it can be forgiven and grace can be applied.  The emotional scars can be worked with.  Life can go on and redemption is possible.

Why do I bring this up now?  We have the annual “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” approaching to draw attention to the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  I salute the purpose of the event.  We need to be reminded of how the Supreme Court opened the door to a blood bath and millions of babies have died for a right not mentioned in the Constitution. 

I have trouble with the title.  I do not believe that life is sacred.  That is what it means to talk of the “sanctity” of life.  To call something sacred puts it on a level that is above all else.  If life was sacred then risking your life to save someone else would be wrong.  If life is sacred then we would be free to lie, cheat and steal to protect it.  If life is sacred then all those who have laid it down in service to their country or community made a mistake.  If life is sacred then all those who gave up their lives as martyrs and witnesses sinned.  We might even go so far as to say that Jesus had no business going to the cross.

Life is precious.  Life is fragile.  Life is important.  Life is not sacred. 

Am I nit picking?  Maybe, but words are important.  Let’s take a stand against abortion, not because life is sacred, but because taking life for personal convenience is wrong.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 12, 2011

Opus 2011-356, On the Street: Glide, Don’t Thump

I was at a stop sign three cars back.  A jogger was crossing at the intersection.  I was impressed at how he was bouncing as he ran.  He had an energy that I could only admire.  I thump when I run.  I don’t know if I could glide like he did but I know I am not serious enough about it to try.  True runners spring and bounce when they run. 

There are parallels to true worship.  Some people plod through the motions.  Others soar with eagles.  I find that I get more out of it when I put more into it.

Don’t be one of those who complain because they get nothing out of worship.  Put something into it.  Concentrate.  Engage your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Glide this Sunday, don’t thump.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Opus 2011-355, Agape/Chesed: Key Words of the Faith

(1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Thus begins what has come to be called “The Love Chapter.”  The KJV word, “charity” (26) is the Greek word agape and is translated “love” in modern translations.  Even in the KJV it is translated “love” more than “charity” 84 to 28.

A little review.  I apologize to those who know this well.  There are at least five words in Greek that would be translated “love” in English. 

One Greek word, eros, is not used in the NT.  It refers to romantic, sexual love.  We are familiar with this is such English words at erotic.

A second Greek word referring to family love is not used alone but is combined with the next word as an adjective.
(Romans 12:10 KJV)  Be kindly affectioned (5387) one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
This is the only use of this word.

More frequent in the NT and very frequent in Greek was the word group meaning family love, philia.  This is the root of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. 

The most important word for “love” in the NT, agape, was not used much in Greek.  William Barclay believed that the early church used this word deliberately. 
“Christian thought fastened on this word agape because it was the only word capable of being filled with the content which was required.” p. 20
This is the word that is constantly being defined in the New Testament.  It is the word of I Corinthians 13.  It is the love of God that is placed in our hearts and controls who we are.  It is a word that I trying to understand so I will be coming back to it.

To me the OT Hebrew word that is the equivalent is chesed (2617).  I came to know and love this word because it is translated consistently in the NASB as “lovingkindness.”  It is used about 249 times in the OT and the NASB translates it the same way 176 times.  The next most frequent is “kindness” at 32.  The KJV uses “mercy” most frequently, 137, and “lovingkiness” only 26 times.  Either way it is a power statement about the love of God and how it moves in our lives.

Love.  Lovingkindness.  Two central themes for believers.

Barclay, William, New Testament Words.  Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1964.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Opus 2011-354, Discernment Watch: Santa Claus Is a Woman

Since I am writing about the season let me point out something that most people miss.  Santa Claus must be a woman.  How can this be? 

First of all, it helps if you live in the People’s Republik of Kaliforino.  English is almost a second language here.  It might actually be third or fourth, but who’s counting.  You pick up a bit of knowledge in this atmosphere.  One of the things you learn is that Spanish has masculine and feminine endings to words.

The masculine word for saint is “san.”  Thus we have San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Gabriel.  The feminine word is “santa.”  Thus we have Santa Barbara and Santa Ana.  Now, put two and two together.  Santa Claus uses the feminine ending, thus Santa Claus must be a woman. 

It seems to simple when you think about it.

Now who is going to tell Mrs. Claus?

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-353, Should-a-Beens: And a Frolicking FOT Day to you

Yesterday I read a post at Georges Grouse about the roots and rituals of the Christmas season.  Most people who read what I write have already read Georges but if you haven’t you might want to take a look.  Good stuff.  Consistently.  In my response I suggested different names for the day.  One of my suggestions was Fullness of Time Day, or we could call it FOT Day.  It is based on a Bible verse,
(Galatians 4:4 KJV)  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Certain facts are agreed on by reasonable men (and reasonable women).  One is that Jesus was born.  Another is that He was born of a woman.  Another is that she was a virgin.  And as it says here, the birth took place in “the fulness of time.” 

“Christmas” is a term from the Roman Catholic liturgy.  It is the mass of Christ.  All it really means is that in their attempt to cover all the theology of the church, on that particular day they taught about the Birth.  The date picked was arbitrary.  So let’s pick another one for those who have trouble with December 25 and the proximity of the Winter Solstice.  We could pick my birthday but I am sure someone would claim I was having delusions of grandeur.  So let’s pick your birthday.  It works for me.  Actually it might be more appropriate to pick April 15 since Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed.  It would make the IRS a church and get the government out of the withholding business.  Or we could celebrate once every 10 years because it was a Roman Census.  I sense another split in the Christians church here.  We could have 10th Year Adventists emerging. 

But let’s pick a Biblical name.  Georges points out that we should talk about “resurrection day” instead of “Easter.”  Good point.  So let’s celebrate FOT Day instead of Christmas.  Instead of an evergreen we could use a grape vine with branches grafted on and in the fireplace we could have a few symbolic branches that had been cut off for lack of faith.  We could still work in angels, the wise men and shepherds though because they are in the Bible. 

The possibilities are endless.  Maybe I will revisit this.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 9, 2011

Opus 2011-352, On the Street: We, the Tired

I was listening to a podcast discussing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  One of the gurus said that Americans were tired.  That the war was dragging them down.  I wonder, what are Americans tired about?  Granted, the soldiers who are pulled into repeated deployments are worn out.  But he wasn’t talking about them.  He was talking about the average American.  They are doing nothing to be tired about.  How can we be tired when we go about life the same way we would if we never heard of Afghanistan.  For that matter, most Americans could not find it on a map.   

One of the other voices had the answer.  He said, “Americans aren’t tired, only anchor men are tired.”  That about sums it up.  Americans are tired because the talking heads and chattering classes tell us we are tired.  Perhaps we would be better off if we would think for ourselves instead of listening to people who want to tell us what to think.

But then I guess I am telling you what to think.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-351, Discernment Watch: Moral, not Social

I am not sure if I have written about this before.  If I have, it bears repeating.  Often when we read or listen we hear the cultural gurus talking about the “social conservatives.”  This is another example of the talking heads redefining things to suit their desires instead of reality.  We are not social conservatives, we are moral conservatives.  We are not talking about social issues, but moral issues.

Abortion is a moral issue.  Inconsiderate use of cell phones is a social issue.  Homosexuality is a moral issue.  Tax breaks for the married is a social issue.  Drunk driving is a moral issue.  Not washing your car is a social issue.  There is a difference.  Don’t get it confused.

We need to start speaking up instead of letting people get away with watering down truth.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Opus 2011-350, Discernment Watch: Some Slippery Slopes of Synonyms

Recently our pastor was sharing a thought from a study bible that he liked.  It don’t remember what point he was focusing on.  What I noticed that the comment contained the word “humankind.”  I assume it substituted it for “mankind.”  The editors had obviously conceded the battle of gender neutrality to the feminists.  Another barrier has been breached and it happened in a Bible that was supposed to be solid and reliable.

In reality all they have done is add the letters “hu” on the front of “mankind.”  That is enough for one day but tomorrow will come.  Having won this they will need to push the line back further.  They might want to substitute “womankind” but that won’t work because the world also also includes “man”. 

I have a suggestion.  Let’s just move to "bi-genderkind” or something like that.  It will save a lot of ink and paper. 

If we are going to surrender, we might as well get it over with.

The King James Version looks better all the time.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Opus 2011-349, Tax Dollars at Work: The Lap Band

If you have not noticed the deluge of advertising for the Lap Band you probably are one of those people who still believes in hope and change.  It is everywhere; the advertising, not the hope.  At times I have seen three different bill boards at one time from the freeway.  I can get multiple junk mail pleas in one day.

My guess is that some government regulation has forced the insurance companies to cover this procedure.  If you read the fine print, you are reassured that your insurance will probably cover the procedure.  That is well and good but that probably means it is somehow being subsidized by your tax dollars.  Nothing is free.  Someone pays.  If the government is not paying through one of its many conduits of your money then you at least have the assurance of knowing that one reason your health insurance costs so much is because someone wants the doctor to help them lose weight.

Weight loss surgery.  Cosmetic surgery.  Sun glasses.  Electric wheel chairs.  The list can go on. 

And if you have a job, you are paying for the service, even if you are not using it.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Opus 2011-348, Tax Dollars at Work: Vocabulary Lessons

Monday was the principal’s day to indoctrinate our receptive minds.  Several years ago our district somehow got through a plan that added a work day every two weeks to the time we were at school.  Of course it was done with no pay and it was for the children.  The kids spend the same amount of time in class.  Four days a week are longer but they go home early on Monday.  We get to stay the full time so we can be trained to be better teachers.  Sounds good.

Monday part of the plan was a vocabulary lesson.  In a box labeled “Task #1" was the title “Three Rules at __________”  This was followed by three words, all caps:  SAFE, RESPECTFUL, RESPONSIBLE. 

I don’t mean to nit pick.  Well, yes, I do.  I am old school.  This looks like three adjectives, not three rules.  We spent a good deal of time writing things on sticky notes, walking around the room and placing our notes on butcher paper taped to the walls.  Then we had someone stand up and read the exciting things we had written.  This included revolutionary ideas like, “No running in the halls.”  I think the idea is that students don’t know they are not supposed to run in the halls.  Administrators think students have Alzheimer’s and can’t remember what they were told two minutes ago. 

Then we were given a list of sixteen innovative “management strategies” and we were to vote on the three we would all implement.  Are you ready for the three we chose?  1.  Show and repeat classroom rules and procedures.  2)  “Positive greetings at the door to establish a positive classroom atmosphere an precorrect problem behavior.”  3.  A visual posting of daily activities.  As you can tell, I can hardly wait to get back to the room to start doing the things that I have been doing for over 20 years.  I can feel the changes already.

Behind all this is a new program with the initials RTI.  Somewhere there is a federal grant behind this.  A select group were paid to go to training to lead us on the great leap forward. 

And remember, you are the one paying for this. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Opus 2011-347, Still Not a Bargain

Yesterday I went to the library.  I love public libraries.  I have cards in six local cities, Hawaii, Kansas City and I am looking at getting one where my kids live.  They open up worlds.  To give you an idea of how I feel, the only tax I can remember thinking as a possibility was one for libraries.  Fortunately I did not live in the city voting on it or I might have compromised my stand. 

They were having a used book sale.  Fifty cents for anything on the tables.  I think there were five tables and I managed to limit myself to seven books.  If my wife would give me more shelf space I am sure I could fill it quickly.

What I want to alert you to is that there were copies of President Obama’s Audacity of Hope available for only 50 cents.  I think I saw three copies.  Personally I think the price was still too high, just like the price of his presidency, but if you are on the lookout for a copy, you have your chance.  I am waiting for them to pay me to take one home.  I don’t want much, just enough to pay back tax payers all the money he has been giving to his friends.

I am not going to hold my breath.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Opus 2011-346, Do Your Toots Stink?

Can you call people on pod-casts “Talking Heads” or is there a better term?

Anyway, I was listening to the gurus this week and they were talking about how unhappy the American people are with the way the country is going.  I keep hearing this kind of thing but the same people get elected. 

While this was on my mind I was catching up on some reading on blogs I like and I came across this post by a Well Meaning Gentleman.  I like his label of “My Toots Don’t Stink.”  I could not put it better.  Check it out before you believe all the “talking heads” about how unhappy America is with what is going on.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-345, People of Hope

Advent began last Sunday.  We lit the first Advent candle on the theme of hope.  At this time of year there is a lot of concern, uncertainty and fear.  It is good to remember that we are people of hope.

I received a letter from a college that we support, Patrick Henry College.  In many ways it was a standard fund raising letter.  I know that but I also expect to read something encouraging from a college that is committed to making a Christian difference in this world.  I was not disappointed. 

The letter was signed by Michael Farris who is chancellor of the school.  He related a comment by a colleague in response to his concerns about the way the country was going.
“Look at all the good stuff that is going on around you here at PHC.  Look at what is being done now and what can be done in the future.  I don’t think that God would bless all of this preparation for the future of America, if He was finished with our nation in 12112.  We really have reasons to be encouraged about the long haul.” (Emphasis in original)
The reminder to me is that I am in this for the “long haul.”  God is the God of eternity, not just today.  As a servant, I am to be faithful, do my best and leave the long range planning in His hands.  If I can trust Him for eternity, I can trust Him for tomorrow.

Join me in hope.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Opus 2011-344, On the Street: Metrosexual?

I recently flew across the country and back.  I usually glance quickly through the magazines that the airline provides.  Sometimes I even read an article.  What caught my attention this time was how many of the men in the advertisements need a shave.  I have noticed it before.  I know it is done on purpose.  I think it is called the metrosexual look.  It is supposed to be seductive, I guess.  I find it silly.

One place it is universal is in the ads for men's smelly stuff and fashion duds.  Usually the unkempt guy is snuggled up with some babe who looks like she is in the midst of ecstasy just by being up close to his sand paper face.  That has never been the response of any women I have ever been near.

There are a lot of similarities between this and senile old men.  I say that as one who is beginning to be concerned about becoming a senile old man.  I see these guys who do not groom themselves.  They need shaves, showers, matching sox and someone to tuck their shirt in on the back side.  One of the models being praised as the latest style looked that way.  He was wearing some kind of hiking boot, blue jeans rolled up in three inch cuffs, a multi-colored long sleeve shirt that hung below the blazer he topped it all off with.  The cuffs of the shirt stuck out his sleeves like the coat was too small for him.  He needed a shave and had his hair sticking up in spikes.  If I did not know better I would think it was a parody.

All new fashions look strange at first.  Most I get used to.  I have been watching this for a few years now and it looks as ridiculous as it did the first time I saw it.

I can’t wait for the wheel to turn.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-343, Pumice Proverbs: Idle Hands

It is written,

“Idle hands

are the devil's

But I say unto you,

“Busy hands
are his
proving grounds.”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opus 2011-342, Christian Cliches: Salt of the earth

Have you ever been called “the salt of the earth?”  It is usually a compliment unless you happen to be in the anti-salt, health food group.  The phrase comes from the Bible.
(Matthew 5:13 KJV)  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
As you can see, the term originally referred to followers of Jesus.  It tells us a lot about what it means to be a believer.

Salt is never the major ingredient.  Even in things like bacon, salt is a small percentage of the total.  Are you a believer?  Do you feel like you are a minority?  You are.  Get used to it.

Salt adds savor as it says in this verse.  That can be good or bad.  Here it is pointing out how salt is added to food to bring out the flavor.  That is good.  Christians may be a small part of the population but we exert a tremendous influence on the direction society goes.  Or at least we used to do so.  I fear that we may be losing our savor.  The prospects for the world are bad, for us they are eternal.

I guess we could also concede a point to the medical gurus.  Sometimes salt raises the blood pressure.  This is obvious when we take a stand on abortion, abstinence, homosexuality or any other moral issue.  We get people’s blood pressure up.  Of course in society that can be a healthy thing.

Salt also preserves.  It was one of the few methods that ancient times had to preserve food.  The presence of believers goes a long way toward holding back God’s wrath and the decay that comes in godless society.

So being the salt of the earth means a lot more than the popular understanding.  Properly understood it means that we change the world around us.

Be salty.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Opus 2011-341, If Mama Ain’t Happy...

Today as I was listening to Alistair Begg he reminded me that my wife would be coming back tomorrow.  He wasn’t talking about my wife.  He was talking about how if we knew Jesus was returning tomorrow we would find it easier to live right today.  The problem is when you think you have plenty of time to get your act together.  You know, “Today I will party.  There is plenty of time to repent later.”  You have heard it.  Maybe you have thought it.

When judgement is eminent, we get more serious about reform.

My wife has been out of town for about a month.  In a month I have developed my own way of doing things.  Tomorrow I have to return to the adjustments of not living alone.  I am not talking about getting the laundry done and running the dish washer.  Those are no brainers.  I am talking about all the things that I never notice when I am by myself.  It is time to get out the vacuum.  It is time to get those coffee beans out of the corners in the kitchen.  It is time to put my multiple guitars someplace besides the middle of the living room floor, along with the guitar stands, chords, song books, tuners, picks and anything else that has migrated. 

I can no longer store the groceries I bought on the counter.  Now they need to be put on the shelf.  The salad material that is comfortably spread through the refrigerator will need to be neatly packed into the bins designed for that.  The unfolded clothes that are in convenient stacks will need to find their way to drawers.

You get the picture?  Or maybe the picture is too horrible to your organized, tidy mind.  Life is about to change.  I would say go back to normal but I am not sure I remember “normal.”  I am sure I will find out. 

What my wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her.  What she doesn’t know won’t hurt me either.  With Jesus it is a little different.  He may tarry in His return but He is here all the time.  When you are dealing with God you need to realize that you can’t hide anything.  You have heard it said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Change the name and take a look at your life, “If God ain’t happy,...”

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-340, Spiritual Gifts: Evangelism

(Ephesians 4:11 KJV)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

If you are around evangelical churches you have probably had some contact with the concept of a full time evangelist.  They are preachers who work full time in the field, going from church to church holding revivals.  Probably the best known to my generation would be Billy Graham.  Today we might look to Greg Laurie or someone else who hold regular crusades around the country.

Some of these might be demonstrating the gift of evangelism, some might just be good at persuasion and organization.  I don’t say that in judgement, just as a statement of reality.  The gift of evangelism is not limited to professionals who can sway crowds. 

The word “evangelist” is a compound word in the Greek.  The first part means “good.”  The second part is the word used for “angel” and means “message” or “messenger.”  Thus “evangelism” means “good message” or “good news.” 

One of the early evangelists was Philip. 
(Acts 21:8 KJV)  And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
The word “evangelist” is the same as the word for the gift so Philip had the gift.  He did do some traveling and was the one who spoke to the Ethiopian eunuch and led him to the faith, but notice the reference to the “seven.”  That refers to his official role in the early church.   He was one of the original seven deacons chosen by the church to supervise the food given to the widows. 

Paul brings up the gift when he is writing to Timothy.
(2 Timothy 4:5 KJV)  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Was this instruction to all pastors or just a word for Timothy to use the gift he had?  You can provide your own answer.

I think some people have a special knack for sharing the good news with others.  They have a timing and choice of words that are very effective in sharing about Jesus.  That does not relieve the rest of us though.  The role for all believers is the role of witness.  Only some have the gift of evangelist.  All have the responsibility to witness.

You may not be the champion evangelist but look for a chance to put in a good word for Jesus.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 28, 2011

Opus 2011-339, Monday Pulpit: Benefits of Age

At our church the pastor’s wife plays the piano and leads the musical portion of the worship service.  She does an excellent job.  I have begun to try to be early so that I can begin to worship during the prelude music.  I am able to tune out all the chatter and begin to focus on the things of God as she plays.

As she was going through song after song that I knew I was reminded that the young members of our congregation were getting little from this time.  Almost every song she played was one that I had been singing for years and often I knew the words.  They were saturated with meaning.  I began to think on the benefits of being older.  I think worship is easier when you are in the last quarter of your life.  You have the kind of foundation that makes things rich.

One benefit is the Familiar.  I was raised in a time when we had what is now called praise music, but we called them choruses.  We enjoyed them but did not let them set the agenda as is often done today.  I feasted on a steady diet of hymns and gospel songs that were sung often enough to cement them in my memory.  We used hymnals with four parts and I learned to sing the harmony and do a little reading of music.  When I hear something today I don’t need to try to figure it out.  It is familiar.  That is an advantage.

Another benefit is the Settled.  By this time in life I know what I believe.  I have made my choices and my commitments.  I know heresy when I hear it.  I know fluff when I see it.  I can listen for what God is saying to me without being forced to evaluate every nuance.

I know what is Important.  As an mature adult I don’t get sidetracked by every little trend that comes down the pike.  It doesn’t matter to me if the soloist has an earring in his ear.  I can roll with that but if he wants to sing nonsense, I know it for what it is.  I can bond with Calvinists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Independents, and even Catholics if they have trusted Jesus for their salvation.  I don’t bat an eye when they try to convince me I need to get the “gift” or be baptized a certain way.

And the End is in sight.  I was telling my children the other day that when they buy me books I don’t need the quality leather editions anymore unless they would like to inherit them.  I am old enough that a paperback will probably last as long as I will.  Or at least as long as my mind.  That doesn’t bother me because I am one who has the hope.  I am not packing my bags just yet.  I still have a lot to give and will do what I can for the kingdom, but I can see the finish line ahead.

Prelude music gets me in the mood to meet with the Living God in the presence of His people.  After the prelude we sing together, pray together and listen together.  What a glorious day.

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Opus 2011-338, Computers Are Stupid

The students I work with are always surprised when I tell them computers are stupid.  “How can this be?”  I point out that they are fast and have almost perfect memory but they can only do what they are told.  Maybe that will change someday, but the computers we interact with are dumber than middle school students.

A good example is the title of my last post.  As I was typing, my flying fingers kept typing “message” instead of “massage.”  My speed produced errors.  The computer’s speed simply reproduced them quickly.  Not once did the computer mark the word for being misspelled.  Why?  Because it wasn’t misspelled.  It was correct for a different word.  I knew that and corrected it through the body of the text.  I forgot to change the title.  If the computer was so smart it would have marked all of the words as wrong, including the title.  If I was so smart, I would have caught it in the title.  I also misnumbered one of my posts a few days ago. 

Publishing a blog can be so humbling.  But keep in mind that although my proofreading and spelling may be weak, my opinions are always gold.

If you don’t believe it, just ask me.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Opus 2011-337, On the Street: Foot Message

Someone dropped a business card on the ground.  I did not want to pick it up.  I don’t know where it had been, but I knew where it was.  I could read the giant print, “FOOT MASSAGE.”  That got my attention.  This is a part of life that does not cross my mind much.  So I bent over far enough to get a look at it.

All it was advertising was a foot massage for 25 dollars an hour.  It was not from a podiatrist.  If was from someone who gave foot massages (feet massage, feet massages?).  I wish this person success.  I salute their entrepreneurial spirit.  Creativity is important.  Niche markets can be successful.  I figure it is a good sign.  I thought we were in a time of recession.  It must not be as bad as I thought because in a time of economic crisis people have money for something like this.

I wonder if government subsidies are involved.  Is it covered by insurance?  Does Obamacare have a section with funds designated? 

The questions keep coming.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 25, 2011

Opus 2011-336, Basic Beliefs: Life After Death

Christians believe that life does not end when the body stops working.  We look forward to the resurrection which I have already touched on.  What happens after that?  One of the words we use is “heaven.”  It is usually a concept that is misunderstood and, frankly, wrong.

First, lets look at the average, everyday view of heaven.  It usually shows up in cartoons involving lots of clouds, white robes, wings and harps.  Sometimes it involves a guy playing Peter, God behind a desk or angels of some age.  There are often pearly gates and a big book.  Taken individually vague hints of each of these can be found in the Bible.  They don’t, however, generally come together as a description of what eternal life will be like for us.  When put together in the popular image they become totally false.

If “Heaven” in the popular culture is not a Christian concept, what does the Bible teach? 

First, we have the physical resurrection.  We will be resurrected to bodies that are superficially like the ones we have now.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples, He came in what seemed to be a normal body.  He invited them to touch the scars left by the crucifixion.  He asked for something to eat.  All of this was done to verify that He was a physical being.  Start there.

But it will be physical with a difference.  Jesus was able to move into secure rooms with locked doors.  The sci-fi concept of teleportation comes to mind.  It will be an existence with no pain.  It is safe to assume that the sex drive will be trumped by something better.  There will be no marriage.  If we live eternally there will be no need for children.  There are many indicators of a level of living we cannot understand now, but it will not be ethereal spirits floating around in an eerie void. 

The earth will be redone.  Part of the concept of the end times is the destruction of the earth.  It will be changed just as our bodies will be changed.  A New Jerusalem will be built on a new Earth.  This is where the carnivore lion will lie down with the herbivorous lamb.  We won’t need the sun because the glory of God will light everything. 

It is going to be an existence that is so wonderful and different we cannot comprehend it.  In trying to explain it to my son I pointed out that when he was two years old he could spend hours playing with his blocks.  Surfing the internet would have been beyond his comprehension.  Now he can’t remember what he found so fascinating about those blocks.  Take that difference, multiply it by infinity and you begin to approach what eternal life will be like.  Keep in mind it is being prepared by Jesus who is the creative God of the Universe.  We will not have a chance to get bored.

Compare that to what the Koran describes.  My memory has a picture of kicking back in a hammock under some palm trees with a stream of wine and lots of dates served by beautiful young women.  That might do me for an afternoon but not for an eternity.

The eastern religions have a long series of incarnations in which you strive to reach of point of goodness in which you pass into Nirvana and cease to be aware because awareness is misery.

We believe in an afterlife with our individuality intact as we surf the eternal internet with instant downloads, awesome interactions and the inventor of the whole thing cheering us on.  It will bring new meaning to intuitive.

Plan on it.  See you there?

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Opus 2011-235, Blessings on Top of Blessings

The problems with our culture and world have not gone away.  The focus is different.

Today we are reminded of the long list of blessings that permeate our lives.  I won’t bore you with my list.  I am reminded that even in the times of tremendous persecution in history, people have recognized the blessings of God.  I love to gripe.  Today God grabs my chain and shortens it.  It is kind of like He is saying, “Look at me, boy, when I talk to you.”

Focus on them today because you focus on Him.  Don’t lose the focus tomorrow.

I pray that God will give you the eyes to see what He is doing in you, for you, through you and around you.

Grace and peace.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Opus 2011-334, Plow and Crown: Another Approach

If you are interested the thinking in this series of posts you might be interested in a three part (so far) post from Mike-istan.  A key quote in the first of the series is, “It is an existential battle between those who are driven to rule over others, and those content to rule only themselves.”  His terms are different but the concern is similar.  Instead of Plow and Crown he calls it, “Concord Bridge or Fort Sumter.”  This is part one.  From there you can link to parts two and three if you find it interesting.  If not, then don’t.  In some areas I am an advocate of choice.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-333, Headlines: Republican Presidential Debate, Washington, D.C.

I would not usually comment on this but I knew someone with tickets so I was able to attend in person.  Did you see me?  I was wearing a blue coat and a red tie.  It was an interesting experience.  The format included questions from people involved in the sponsoring organizations, Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.  The questions were well chosen.  Wolf Blitzer tried to keep the candidates on track.  He did a pretty good job of involving everyone.  Some actually tried to answer the questions but there was very little chance for meaningful exploration of differences.  Perhaps these things should be called Presidential Sound Bites instead of debates. 

It was a frustrating experience.  I support the concept of including all serious candidates but it is too big a group for meaningful dialogue.  It went for two hours but if you take the 120 minutes, deduct 12 minutes for commercial breaks and another 10 for preliminaries that leaves 98 minutes.  Even if you don’t subtract the time taken to ask the questions that comes to about 12 minutes apiece. 

I don’t know that it would be commercially viable but it might be better to have a series of 15 minute or 30 minute sessions with combinations of two or three candidates with more freedom to interact.  More people might watch shorter sessions and more substance might be addressed.  The key word here is “might.”

On this day before Thanksgiving I am grateful to live in a country that still allows a wide variety of freedoms.  Let us hope and pray that the courts, politicians and unelected agencies are thwarted in their attempts to make liberty just a word on a coin.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Opus 2011-332, Healthy Insights: Exercise Is Good for You?

I was driving to work.  Along the side of the road was a health nut riding his bike to work.  I have always wondered if these people sweat and if the people that work with them enjoy being around them all day, but that is a matter for another day.  What I noticed was that he had both knees swathed with ace bandages.  You see this kind of thing all the time.  Athletic types seem to need to wrap their joints.  This made my wonder, “If riding the bike is supposed to be healthy, why is he wrapping his knees?  Is it necessary or does he think it adds to the “cool” factor?

You may not be reading the same stuff I read but everywhere people are telling us we need more exercise or we need to do this or that to be healthy.  Okay.  Then why do they all come with the caveat to talk to our doctor before we begin the regime?  Is it healthy or not?  Most of the time when I ask doctors questions like this they puff and blow but it becomes clear that they don’t have a clue either.  I noticed this when I started asking about walking for health.  How fast should you walk?  What distance should you cover?  Does it need to be every day?  You get different answers from different doctors and even from the same doctor on different visits. 

Let’s face it, there are no definitive answers to our quest for certainly.  Often we just have to get active and see what the results are.  We are all different.  Most people are not effected by salting their french fries.  Some have their blood pressure shoot up.  Which are you?  Your doctor doesn’t know any more than you do.  Experiment and find out.  If you have the kind of health problems that would require talking to your doctor before you ride a bicycle, I would suggest that you already know it.  If you don’t already know it the doctor’s advice won’t be understood either.

Oh, and be reminded that I am not a doctor or health care professional.  My opinions are for entertainment only and are not offered as a guarantee of success.  Or something like that.

Whatever happened to common sense?

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-331, Discernment Watch: Historical Gag Orders

One of the books I am slowly working through is Pensees by Blaise Pascal.  It is something that I can read in little bites and gives me something to chew on.  It is also one of those books that is part of our cultural heritage and it doesn’t hurt to build foundations.

I came across this statement that I thought was really interesting.
“786 On the fact that neither Josephus, nor Tacitus, nor other historians have spoken of Jesus Christ.—So far is this from telling against Christianity, that on the contrary it tells for it. For it is certain that Jesus Christ has existed; that His religion has made a great talk; and that these persons were not ignorant of it. Thus it is plain that they purposely concealed it, or that, if they did speak of it, their account has been suppressed or changed.”
This gives us insights into the way the modern media works.  Reporters and talking heads know the truth.  They know much about what is going on.  The problem is that they have an agenda and an ideology that dictates what they report and how they report it.  So when President Obama says something really ignorant, it is ignored.  When he does something that deserves impeachment, no one hears about it.  When Herman Cain has an anonymous, vague accusation hinted at, they are all over it.  They are reporters in the tradition of Josephus and Tacitus.

We may not know all of the contemporary truth because so much of it is hidden from us, but we can know the eternal truths because truth will find a way to express itself and because the giants, on whose shoulders we stand, risked their lives to get the word out.  Or in the final words of the Declaration of Independence,
“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
I pray that when we are called on we will be willing to also stand for truth.

Pascal, Blaise.  Pensees.  Project Gutenberg,  Kindle Highlight Loc. 4293-96.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 21, 2011

Opus 2011-330, Healthy Insights: Toxic Potatoes

As I adjust my life to diabetes I find myself perusing the literature involving the condition.  It is like reading the political or religious blogs.  People have opinions all over the spectrum and they are all right.  One site I go back to occasionally is posted by David Mendosa.  He had a post recently that reminded me not to take all these “experts” too seriously.  It was titled “Potato Poison.”

You can check it out if you want but the brief synopsis is that the potato is part of the deadly nightshade family of plants.  It contains deadly toxins that are ruining our health.  He also points out how many potatoes everyone eats a year but doesn’t explain why the life span is extending on this toxic diet. 

I don’t think you need to worry about the toxins in potatoes.  You might need to worry about the calories.  If you are diabetic you might need to consider the carbohydrates.  I say “might” because everyone is different.  For me it seems to have been enough to get my weight under control.  You are not me. 

Use common sense.  Think.  Act on what you know.  Enjoy the discussions of people who make their living getting you to read their blogs.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-329, Plow and Crown: Liberty and Property

(Leviticus 25:10 KJV)  And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

Even in the days of Moses liberty was equated with property.  This was a deliberate step away from the Crown philosophy of Egypt.  My understanding is that in Ancient Egypt all land belonged to the Pharaoh or to the temples.  Private property was not part of the equation.  That is a pattern that we see down through history.  When people began immigrating to the New World they were coming from monarchies that kept strict control of land.  Primogeniture was the policy.  That meant that great estates were not to be broken down but were to be passed on to the heir intact.  We saw the nobility closing off the commons of villages and taking away what little land was available.  Land was liberty.

In Feudal Europe the land belonged to the king.  In granting a fief he was loaning the land to the Lord as long as he agreed to serve the king.  It is much more complicated than this and the battle between Plow and Crown was slowly breaking it down but one of the freedoms that pulled people to America was the freedom to own land.

In the writings of the Founders you find frequent reference to property.  Even in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence the original three rights were “Life, Liberty and Property.”  This is why we have the protections against search and seizure in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution,
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”
And we have the concept of “just compensation” in the 5th Amendment.

Real Estate is the foundation of political power.  In the Roman Republic you could only be elected to a political office if you had enough wealth to qualify.  Only the very rich could hold positions of power.  In the England our Founding Fathers knew, you needed to have a certain amount of wealth in order to vote.  Often that was stated in terms of owning property.  When they were writing our Constitution some wanted to insert that as a requirement to hold political office but they were voted down.

In modern times we are seeing the Crown gnawing away at the sanctity of property.  It starts with simple things like zoning laws.  Who could be against that?  At least that is usually done by local elected officials who can be dealt with.  But it has gotten much more serious in my life time.  We see the War on Drugs making it possible for law enforcement to confiscate property without due process.  In a recent Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London, we see the right of imminent domain being extended to local governments who simply want to pass the land to their political supporters.  You have the laws about endangered species and wetlands making it impossible for people to build homes on land that belongs to them.  We see massive land grabs by the federal government as they declare new National Parks and National Monuments.  Just this week I was reading about the federal government trying to extend a ban on new mining around the Grand Canyon.  We see land being designated as U.N. Biozones.  The inroads into liberty are on the march. 

The Crown is on the move.  Will the Plow respond while it still has a chance?

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Opus 2011-328, Healthy Insights: Smaller Feet

I have noticed another result of losing weight.  My feet seem to have gotten smaller.

On me, smaller feet are hard to notice.  My shoes range from 15 to 18 depending on the style, when they were made, and where they were made.  I have large feet by any definition. 

But I have noticed that shoes that used to be tight now seem to be comfortable.  I never thought of having fat feet.  I guess it makes sense.  If my wedding ring doesn’t need a crow bar and grease to come off and my watch flops on my wrist, it makes sense that my toes have more room to wiggle. 

I don’t expect to be able to walk into the local shoe store and pick my style, but it is nice to know that my shoes fit better.

Count your blessings.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Opus 2011-327, Tax Dollars at Work: On the Road, One More Time

I will be traveling and staying with family for the next week.  That can mean anything from internet connections that fulfill all my dreams or a daily visit from the snailmail man.  I will try to post on a regular basis, but as much as I like you guys, blood is thicker than wifi.

One of the great things about being lined up at the public trough instead of actually producing wealth is the vacation time that is available.  I had to prepare work for the substitute filling in.  I will need to process it all when I get back.  I will have to clean up all the mess.  But, I get to go.  Seriously, thank you for all the taxes you pay.  I would point out that I pay taxes too, but I don't think that would reduce your pain.

Have a great Thanksgiving season and remember that this is another time of the year when we know the real Reason for the Season.  (Hint:  it wasn't the Indians)

Grace and peace.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Opus 2011-326, Tax Dollars at Work: Whatever Works

I recently posted some comments on a billboard with the theme “Whatever works.”  I finally got the internet address down and checked it out.  What I found was not surprising.  It is a site called "Let's Move."  It is paid for with your tax dollars.  It is pushing the agenda of Michelle Obama.  That in itself is not evil.  Most First Ladies have a theme.  We all remember the phrase that has become a part of our culture, “Just say no.”  My problem is the way in which the current first lady is willing to use the power of coercion inherent in the government to achieve her ends.  In addition to the bully pulpit she is trying to get laws passed and taxes imposed to force us to fall in line with her wisdom.

I was not aware it was her website when I criticized it in a previous post.  Honest.  But looking back I find that my concerns about “Whatever works” are consistent with the political philosophy of her and her husband.

What really hurts is that I am paying for this.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opus 2011-325, Basic Beliefs: The Resurrection

One of the clearest teachings in the Bible involves the idea of the resurrection.  It has two branches.  You must believe both to call yourself a Christian.

The first is the resurrection of Jesus.  The Gospels clearly teach that Jesus died on a cross, was buried and on the third day came back to life.  The death is clear.  The Romans, who knew death when they saw it, pushed a spear up into his side just to make sure.  The return to life is also clear.  It is emphasized that it was a physical resurrection, not just a “spiritual” resurrection.

Jesus went out of His way to reinforce this.
(John 20:27 KJV)  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And in a longer passage it becomes clear that the gospel is underlining the fact of the physical resurrection.  You see, even the disciples, who were there, had questions.  Jesus answered them two ways.
(Luke 24:39-43 KJV)  Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.  And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?  And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.  And he took it, and did eat before them.
First, He let them examine Him.  He acknowledged their concern and answered it.  And then He ate.  Ghosts don’t eat.  We have all seen the cartoons with Casper the Friendly Ghost taking a bite of cake and having it fall to the floor.

And yet people still try to deny that Jesus was physically resurrected.  They are like fish the don’t want to believe in the existence of water.

The second branch is the resurrection of the dead.  Notice I said “the dead.”  This will involve both believers and non-believers.  Everyone will be resurrected.  Non-believers will be resurrected for the judgement.  Believers will be resurrected to live eternally in the presence of God.

For our purposes I want to underscore the resurrection of believers.  Read through I Corinthians 15, if you have any doubts about it.  Paul starts off talking about the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV)  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
That seems clear.  Why do people who call themselves Christian still dispute it?  But like most heresy, it is not new.  Even Paul was dealing with this issue.
(1 Corinthians 15:12 KJV)  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
And then he makes that statement that brings me to why the resurrection of Jesus is so important:
(1 Corinthians 15:13-14 KJV)  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Everything that involves being a Christian hinges on the physical resurrection of Jesus.  If He was not raised, out faith is “vain.”  That means useless.  Read the rest of the chapter and next time someone tells you some weird story about what happened at the cross don’t even try to be polite.  You can feel free to laugh.  And have pity.  They have no hope.

I trust that you do.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opus 2011-324, Discernment Watch: Whatever Works

I didn’t catch the product but the big letters were, “Whatever works.”  The billboard showed a little girl holding a piece of watermelon in front of her face with the caption, “She thinks it is astronaut food.”  I guess the idea was that you could get kids to eat healthy if you tricked them into it.  I guess the creative type that thought this up had not heard that they were shutting down the shuttles and there isn’t much market for astronauts any more.

The bigger problem is that this philosophy is the marching music in too much of our culture:  schools, government, church.  We have become primarily pragmatists.  I image that was the logic of Hitler trying for the final solution. 

“Whatever works” means that you lie if it gets you what you want.  “Whatever works” means you cheat, kill, betray, or destroy if it gives you what you want.  “Whatever works” sets aside truth, duty and honor.  “Whatever works” means that the ends justify the means.

“Whatever works” doesn’t.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Opus 2011-323, Healthy Insights: Wrinkles

So you want to lose weight?  If you are concerned because of your looks you might want to think again.  One of the results of losing weight is wrinkles. 

You see, your skin has adjusted to accommodate your mass.  You might even have some stretch marks to prove it.  When you get rid of the stuffing, all that extra skin does not go away.  Walla, wrinkles.  This is even more true when you get older.  Many people shed mass when they get older, that is why they become prune like.

I have lost weight.  I have gained wrinkles.  Many of them are in places that you don’t have to see but they are still there.

Of course, if you are losing weight for health reasons the wrinkles are secondary, or should be.  Such is the case for me.  I can deal with a few wrinkles if it means I don’t need to pop pills or give myself shots.

You need to weigh your priorities, not just you body.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 14, 2011

Opus 2011-322, Have We Turned the Corner, Part 2?

Is it over?

It is not a new question.  Western civilization was asking it in the late 1700's.  In America the answer was a revolution and a miracle.  In France there was a revolution and chaos.  In England there was a renewal.  Two of the responses were beneficial.  One was ugly.  What was the difference?  One key factor was the attitude toward the things of God. 

France rejected God.  They made no bones about turning churches into stables and mocking the creator.  Short-term, it resulted in the Reign of Terror and the justice of kangaroo courts and the guillotine.  Long term they paid for it with blood and the wars brought on by the ambition of Napoleon.   It is still demanding payment.

America had a war but it had a healing because its values were rooted in Biblical beliefs.  Were all the leaders Christians as we understand the meaning of the word?  No.  But they accepted the values and moral teachings of Christianity.  They may have rejected the theology but they embraced the idea of a God and Divine purpose.  That puts a limit on how far you can go into hatred and gives a reason to work together.  The turning point in the Constitutional Convention was the observation by Benjamin Franklin that when they met to declare independence they had started with daily prayer.  He suggested that maybe they should be calling on God again.  They did and we were given a Constitution.  People differ on where Franklin was spiritually but his words brought the leaders back to the feet of the Almighty.

England avoided war.  It was poised to go the way of France.  Enter John Wesley and what was called the Methodist revival.  They were laughed at and disparaged.  They were persecuted, beaten, thrown in jail and even killed.  They brought revival.  It was expressed in tangible ways from the end of the slave trade to the founding of the SPCA. 

Revival can happen.  Think about the picture of the valley of dry bones.  Read about Hezekiah finding the law in the ruins.  Consider Ezra and Nehemiah.  God can bring revival.  He has done it before, He can do it again.

It must start in individuals.  As individuals we must be willing to call on Him and respond in obedience.  Individuals make up groups and organizations.  Groups make up a nation.  Think of the discussion Abraham had with God about preserving Sodom and Gomorrah.  All it would have taken was ten righteous men.  Do you know nine more?

Where is your life?  Where is your country?  Where is our future?

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Opus 2011-321, Monday Pulpit: Means of Grace

Actually this should be called Thursday Pulpit because it was stirred up at the Wednesday evening service.  The pastor has been going through a series on basic beliefs.  The emphasis on this occasion was the place of scripture. 

About half way through he said something that made me want to say, “I knew that.”  True, but I had not stopped to consider it.  I don’t know if they were his words or a quote from a book he was using.  Either way it is not original to me.  He said we “should regard the study of Scripture as a means of grace like baptism or the Eucharist.”  We don’t look at the sacraments as means of grace like they do in the Catholic church but I understood what he meant.

When we study the Word it opens doors for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, minds and souls.  It becomes an avenue of grace.  This clicked in for me.  This is why my morning times of worship and study have been such a blessing to me.  It is not an empty ritual, it is a “means of grace.” 

I like that.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-320, Have We Turned the Corner, Part 1?

I was listening to a podcast and the concern was broached, “Has America turned the corner?  Are we beyond the point of recovery?  Are we in decline?”  I don’t remember the answer but the question is one that I have heard directly or indirectly many times.

At school we had just reviewed the fall of Rome.  This usually refers to the empire in the west and is said to have occurred in A.D. 476.  The date is a matter of convenience.  We want everything neat and clean.  It wasn’t quite that simple.  If you had been alive in 476 you would not have noticed any big change.  The date is picked because it was the date of the first non-Italian emperor.  From that point on the emperors were immigrants.  They dressed like Romans, spoke Latin and ate the Italian food of the day, but they were not “real” Romans.  The decline started long before 476.  Rome struggled on in the west after 476. 

In the middle of living life people don’t always recognize the significant events.  Ask yourself, “Has American fallen?  Has the acme of our culture passed?  Are we on a long downhill slide?”  Most people don’t care.  They have a party tonight and a deadline at work next week.  Don’t bother them with the status of civilization.

But some of us do care.  We obviously are in times of moral decay and aimless social priorities.  I have children.  I hope to have grandchildren.  As a reader who gets to teach history, I am aware of what a bright spot America has been in the struggles of history.  Never, nowhere, no way have so many lived so well for so long.  Is it over?

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Opus 2011-319, Pumice Proverbs: Question and Answers

This is the bit of advice on the back of my notebook at school,

Questions are answered

by the ears,

not the mouth.

The kids don't seem to be able to figure it out.   And they won't be quiet long enough for enlightenment.