Friday, July 18, 2014

Positives to Negatives

In 1970 there was smog creeping across almost every landscape and cities like Louisville had a blanket. The water ways were also badly polluted and some rivers even caught fire. If you could find fish in the river they were too toxic to eat.

In 1970 the clean air act was passed and was a very positive thing so that now our air is safe to breathe. Then in 1972 the clean water act was passed and our rivers are now safe to use. Both of these acts were and are positive actions by our government for the general good of the country.

Today we have a senator running for re-election who refers to these two very positive laws passed in the 1970's as Obama's War on Clean Coal. He has taken a positive action and rephrased to as a negative for purely political reasons. I am not buying it at all. Clean air and clean water are important for all of us. No matter how much the coal industry contributes to his coffers it doesn’t change the facts.

The coal companies have saturated the media with the term “Clean Coal” which is a contradiction in terms. Coal is not clean by any stretch of the term. The best coal is still dirty and pollutes our air and water. Coal may be an economic giant in Kentucky and is loosing ground to natural gas for electric production but it is not more important than clean air and water.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Loving Liberty

I do love my country and on this past Independence Day I rejoiced in celebrating our freedom. Loving our country is a lot like loving our family; it is something that we grew up with. I know people who chose to come here from other countries and become citizens but I did not choose my country in the same way that I did not choose my parents. I have chosen to remain a loyal citizen because I truly love the idea of the "United States of America." Our many freedoms have fostered in me a spirit of personal growth and optimism.

My love of country like my love for my family is not blind. I know that we as a nation have many problems to be solved. I believe that we are one of the best able to solve them. I love the idea of the "USA" so much that I wish the whole world lived under the same concept. Since I was a High School student working on a paper about the United Nations, I have thought that a "United States of the World" would be a very good thing. I know that the idea of a one-world government drives some people crazy, but a world at peace with justice is a wonderful idea.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Contrary Opinions

Now and then I encounter someone who holds very strong opinions that are different than mine. That is OK with me but sometimes it is not OK with the other person. If an opinion is contrary to their opinion then it is all wrong and a barrier goes up. One must be able to listen to contrary opinions and carefully compare the facts with ones own opinion. A change may be in order.

My eldest darling daughter wrote a note expressing her opinion in response to one of my puns and then added “In point of fact, the combination of my mother and father could only lead to children not afraid to voice any opinion, on anything.”

I am very pleased that both of my darling daughters have excellent logical minds that are able to form opinions and then defend their positions. They are both loquacious and competent communicators. Their father is very proud of their abilities.

As one who loves a good turn of words, including puns, I am not surprised that they also enjoy reading and exploring ideas. I firmly believe that learning is a life long occupation in an effort to expand our minds.

Our own opinions are important but we need to be able to examine new information and if it warrants a change of opinion be willing to make the change. It has been said that where three are gathered there are four opinions. There is the opinion of each person and the group opinion. I always believe that my opinion is correct or I would not hold it. I have always been willing to reflect on new information and reconsider my position. I have to admit that it is not always an easy process.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Real Atlantis

Lately I have watched three different so called documentaries about Atlantis. They each place the fabled city in a different place, one was near Japan. They can not all be true and I suspect that none of them are true. Even the original story by Plato was likely a fabrication.

The story of the Isle of Atlantis first occurs in Plato's two dialogues the "Timaeus" and the "Critias." Plato's story centers on Solon, a great Greek legislator and poet who journeyed to Egypt some 150 years before Plato. While in the Egyptian city of Sais, Solon received the story of Atlantis from some priests. According to Plato the priests respected Solon's reputation and cordially welcomed him. They also respected the Athenians, whom they regarded as kinsmen, because they believed their deity Neith to be the same deity as the Greeks called Athena. Therefore, she was believed to be the patroness and protector of both Greece and Egypt.

The story that the priests told Solon was unknown to him. According to ancient Egyptian temple records the Athenians fought an aggressive war against the rulers of Atlantis some nine thousand years earlier and won. These ancient and powerful kings or rulers of Atlantis had formed a confederation by which they controlled Atlantis and other islands as well. They began a war from their homeland in the Atlantic Ocean and sent fighting troops to Europe and Asia. Against this attack the men of Athens formed a coalition from all over Greece to halt it. When this coalition met difficulties their allies deserted them and the Athenians fought on alone to defeat the Atlantian rulers. They stopped an invasion of their own country as well as freeing Egypt and eventually every country under the control of the rulers of Atlantis. Shortly after their victory, even before the Athenians could return home, Atlantis suffered catastrophic earthquakes and floods until it disappeared beneath the sea. All of the brave men were swallowed up in one day and night of horror according to legend. This is why the Egyptians were ever grateful to the Athenians. Also in the story Plato gives is a history of Atlantis that shows how the rulers eroded to such a state were they wanted to conquer everyone. This history had been recorded by Solon in notes that were handed down through his family.

Today the best archaeological site for the fabled Atlantis is the island of Santorini which is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera. Some of the houses in ancient city of Akrotiri are major structures, some amongst them three stories high. Its streets, squares, and walls were preserved in the layers of ejecta, sometimes as tall as eight meters, and indicating this was a major town. In many houses stone staircases are still intact, and they contain huge ceramic storage jars, mills, and pottery. Noted archaeological remains found in Akrotiri are wall paintings which have kept their original color well, as they were preserved under many meters of volcanic ash. The town also had a highly developed drainage system and, judging from the fine artwork, its citizens were clearly sophisticated and relatively wealthy people.

Pipes with running water and toilets found at Akrotiri are the oldest such utilities discovered. The pipes run in twin systems, indicating that the Therans used both hot and cold water supplies; the origin of the hot water probably was geothermic, given the volcano’s proximity. The dual pipe system suggesting hot and cold running water, the advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of the Akrotiri find resemble Plato’s description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis, further indicating the Minoans as the culture which primarily inspired the Atlantis legend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Civil and Religious Weddings

There are many religions in America and they each have their own traditions concerning the wedding ceremony. There is also the civil wedding ceremony to consider.

In the civil service a couple needs a license and an authorized person to sign the document. The authorized person only has to verify that the two people before them are the ones on the license and ask them if they want to be married. When they answer in the affirmative the license is signed and they are married. All cut and dry and legal. This is the type of marriage that does not involve religion and is a civil right according to law.

A Christian Wedding and weddings of most religions is quite different and in the United States it involves having the same license of the civil wedding but also much more. In my church a groom and a bride come to make vows to each other and God. They come seeking a blessing on their marriage and home. It is the making of vows that makes all the difference.

When a marriage vow is made the couple actually make two vows at once. They make vows of commitment and fidelity to one another and they make those same vows to God! It is this act that makes the wedding ceremony sacred in every religion. Each religion sets its own standards for weddings and are not bound by equality under the law as civil weddings are.

In a Christian wedding the vows are binding until death do us part. Jesus made only one excuse for divorce and that was adultery. When a person breaks the marriage vow a double sin is committed. The first sin is against the spouse and the second is against God. I count it a very serious event to make a vow to God. Breaking a vow to God is not something one does lightly and I always stress that to couples about to get married in the church. There is an eternal aspect to a vow made to God and it stays with you that long.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Math Terror

I know people who freeze up when told to do some math. Balancing a check book is more than they can do. Math is a life skill that escapes them and they must rely on others to do it for them.

There are other people – most of us who develop math skills as part of our education and consider it just part of life. We may not of have majored in math at collage but we understand the concepts enough to get by in life. Math does not scare us nor does it entice us to do more than necessary.

Then there are those rare people for whom math is their first love. Not only does it come easy for them but they are truly gifted when it comes to numbers. It starts early in life when they learn to count and actually play with numbers the way other children play with toys. Strange as they may seem society needs these math gifted people.

So my friends are you gifted, skilled or in abject terror when it comes to math?\

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Life, Liberty and Pursuit

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

These words for the Deceleration of Independence are often quoted on the fourth of July and should be. They are declared to be our God given rights for all humans even though the “men” who wrote them thought of them as rights for only men and at that did not cover their slaves. Still it was a beginning for the idea of God given rights of individual people.

LIFE: We have the right to be born and live out our lives with out threat from the government. Life itself is sacred and should be protected. There are times when governments do take lives when a jury of our peers convicts someone of murder or other capitol crimes and inflicts the death penalty.

LIBERTY: We have the right to move about at our own discretion with out hindrance of our government and to do as we please unless it interferes with the rights of other citizens. That right can be curtailed by the courts if we violate the law and are convicted of it.

PURSUIT: We have the right to pursuit of happiness but that does not mean we have to find happiness. We can look for it in what ever way we choose as long as we do not violate the law or the rights of others in the process.

All of our God given rights are precious but come with responsibility for our actions in exercising them in a civilized society. Lives were given in the past for the support of these rights and are being given even now. Let us dedicate our selves on the forth of July to preserve them for ourselves and our fellow citizens now and in the future.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Long Church Fight

In 1054 AD The two main parts of the Christian Church had been squabbling for years and then the fight began. The Greek speaking Greek Orthodox and the Latin speaking Roman churches could not settle their differences and excommunicated each other. The each declared that they were the only true church. It was not the first church fight nor was it the last.

The fight lasted for almost a thousand years when Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI met in Jerusalem and thawed things a little. In May Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis also met in Jerusalem fifty years later and settled the fight. They removed the excommunications and lifted the Anathemas directed at each other and made peace.

Perhaps if these ancient theological enemies can love each other so can some of the newer splits in the church. The United Methodist have started their fight and may split so we can pray that they will heal the wounds. Many other church groups have split over the years over truly tiny differences of opinion like having musical instruments in the worship service or not.

I pray for the unity of the church every day! Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Living in Grace

When Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, in second Corinthians Chapter eight verse 1-7, he spoke to them about the Generosity of the Christian Churches in Macedonia. It seems that the First Christian Church in Jerusalem was in trouble and needed help. Now the Christian churches in Macedonia were made up of mostly poor people with big hearts and they lived Gracefully.

But they had a generous spirit for they were rich in love. They gave Paul money to take to Jerusalem to help them in their time of need. They understood the stewardship of graceful living. This may be the first evidence of Christian outreach. Paul encouraged the wealthier First Christian Church of Corinth to be as generous. The told them of the First Christian Church of Macedonia, "... Begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints.

And not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first.” Our stewardship is one of first giving ourselves whole heartily to Serving Jesus the Christ. Gracefull living in God’s presence. The second is to accept our personal ministry as part of our gift and take action on it as a high priority to notice Lazarus.

People need to beware of worshipping Jesus as the professing of your faith in Him as Savior of the World and then on the other hand blaspheme Him by the actions and evidence of your daily life with poor stewardship. Witness with Grace FULL living in the presence of others.

Monday, June 16, 2014

For the Love Of

I heard it once again when a man in a group of people I was standing near said: “The bible say that money is the root of all evil.”

How often do people mis-quote the bible with great self assurance. He likely had heard one of his parent say the same thing and never bothered to look it up. I told him and the group, “That is not exactly how the bible states it.” I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Paul never condemned money itself rather the love of money or greed for riches leads people down the path of evil. Some people will do anything for money. The other side of that coin is that the proper use of money can provide all kinds of blessings. Paul goes on to tell Timothy to be rich in good works and to be generous with God's gifts. It is really the focus of our lives that matters most and it is always a choice between doing good and doing evil. One can make a good deal of money and be OK if there is a love of God as the life focus and then the money is a blessing used for blessing others.

If your life focus is on acquiring money for the sake of having lots of money then you are tempted to do anything necessary to build up your supply of wealth. At that point you are driven to destruction of your soul. Meditated on the sixth chapter of first Timothy and seek the things that are good and pure.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Deep Roots

There is a tree that grows well in the arid lad of west Texas where I grew up called the Mesquite tree. It is a very hardy tree that can live a long time with out rain because of its interesting root system. The tree has two sets of roots that provides it with water. There is a shallow set of roots that spread out around the tree and soaks up any recent rain fall. Other plants around the tree have little chance of using rain water because the tree is so good at soaking up the water. The Mesquite has a back up root system for times of no rain and that is a tap root that can grow up to almost two hundred feet deep. This tap root reaches down into the water table and can sustain the tree through the worst drought.

We need a Mesquite like faith with roots that soak up spiritual blessings when times are good and a tap root that finds blessing when times are tough. It is easy to be a Christian when life is rolling along with no worries but it takes a deep faith to over come the trials that life can throw our way. The parable of Job reminds me that my faith in God can over come any adversity and that when trouble comes to me I need deep rooted faith.

Many of Job's so called friends encouraged him to give it up and his wife told him to just curse God and die. Many people are nominal members of the church in good times but fad away in times of adversity. Some change their religions as easily as they change their hats. Shallow roots will do in easy times but it take a deep tap root to go through the hard times. Send your faith roots both far out and way deep like the Mesquite.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Comfort Zone

Today we are faced with sever divisions in our country where people on the extremes of both political and religious arguments hate those who disagree. The idea of meet me in the middle is abhorrent and leaves no room for dialogue. Sometimes we are conflicted within ourselves. There are some areas of my thinking that are very conservative and other areas where I am very liberal. That confuses people who think I should be one way or another across the board. Some of them call me not so pleasant names.

Being hated or labeled for my beliefs is uncomfortable at best but is it not surprising in today’s world. The question to ask myself is, “What do I do with that discomfort?” I can hate them right back but that only makes me like them and I do not want that for my self. It is fortunate that my discomfort helps me examine my convictions and develop a positive response. As a Christian pastor I look to the scriptures for my guide and discover that Jesus faced the same kind of challenges both religious and political.

First I need to check my attitude. Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Good idea! Renew my mind by reviewing facts from all directions. If I watch only Fox or only MSNBC I get distorted views. By watching both and PBS Newshour I can sort out what is and is not. If I read only conservative religious commentary or only liberal commentary I am short on facts. Renewing my mind and seeking what is pleasing to God is a good starting place.

Second I need to accept the fact that what ever my beliefs are they will be ridiculed by someone somewhere. By accepting that concept and renewing my mind about my convictions I can live in peace with God and the people around me.

Third I need to check my actions by the teachings of Jesus who said to love your enemies and do good to those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you. Love is the real key to both my faith and all my other relationships.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Children and Guns

It seems like every time I turn on the news there is another insident of school children shooting other children. We are also faced with siblings playing with guns in their homes and killing a brother or sister with it.

I was saddened when I read of a five year old boy who shot his two year old sister. He will carry that pain with him for the rest of his life. The real shock came when I read that he shot her with his own gun, a 22 made for a five year old and painted blue. They make a pink one for girls. What is wrong here?

Right away the pro gun people were posting that it was just a tragic accident that could happen to anyone. In a sense it was a tragic accident from the point of view of the five year old who did not mean to kill his little sister. Many times my brother and I played cowboys with our cap pistols aiming and shooting at each other. They were toys and did not damage. A five year old has no comprehension of lethal weapons; he was playing with a new toy.

The anti gun group began a rant about firearms companies that produce lethal weapons made for such young children. There is also some truth to their concerns but that is not the real problem. Children shoot other children with guns left available by parents. In this case a gun made available as a gift by a parent.

My problem is with the parents who are guilty of negligent homicide by providing a loaded weapon to a child with out supervision. If you have guns in the house with children the said children need to be trained to know that guns can kill and assume that a gun is always loaded. It is OK to train a child to shoot on a target range and respect a gun but not to be left alone with the gun. In a home with a child all weapons need to be unloaded, the trigger locked and the gun locked up.

Where was the adult supervision in that home?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mowing in an Old Way

Mowing the lawn is one of those household chores that has always been one of “MINE” by the nature of the chore. Pointing out all the neighborhood women who mow their lawns has made no difference what so ever.

I choose to mow with an electric lawn mower because they are greener, quieter and I do not have the added danger of storing gas in the garage. Since mowing is a rote thing it often gives me time to think about things other than what to do next. You know like if I were king of the world things would be different. All was well until my electric mower developed an unexpected problem and finding some one to service it was another problem. Finding local service has never been a problem before but Louisville Kentucky is way short of people who do that. I took my mower back to the Sears store where I purchased it and they sent it off to their central service center and said it will take two weeks.

What to do for two weeks? Renting a goat is out of the question because of zoning. I did not wish to borrow mowers from neighbors and deal with gasoline and noise. A local hardware store had a sale.

A backup old fashion reel mower was an answer. I used one as a young boy so I forgot how much energy it takes to operate that thing. Lord have mercy! I guess I had a lot more energy when I was a teenager than I do at 72. Now I guess the lawn gets done in stages – read that many stages. It is a lot quieter and I am getting exercise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Troubles in Ukraian History

Ukraine has an interesting history and it's capitol Kiev was once the capital of Russia prior to 1240 AD when the Mongols invaded and the Kevin Russ moved to the area around what is now Moscow. Then Poland rulled from the 13th century through the 16th century. In 1596 the Ukrainian Orthodox church asked the Czar of Moscovy for protection from Poland and he took over Keiv and it became part of the Russian Empire.

After the 1918 revolution Ukraine declared independence and the fight was on with the Red Army victory Ukraine became one of the founding republics of the USSR. With the break up of the USSR Ukraine again became independent but is once again in a struggle with its eastern neighbor. There is a tension between western [Polish] descendants and eastern [Russian] descendants of Ukraine.

It seems clear that the new Czar of Moscow is trying to reclaim what was once the land of the Russ.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our Library

We have an extensive library with books all over the house. I have two books on my reading table that are giving me pleasure. As I scan our shelves I see books that are old friends from different time periods in my life. It is like they have bookmarked the pages of my life and remind me of things that have happened in the past.

Several time we have attempted to scale back on the number of books we have but both of us must agree on giving away any given book. We set up a table and put the books we are willing to give away and the other can remove the ones we want to keep. With that process in place very few books get donated to the local book sale fund raiser. We have run out of available bookshelf space so our reaction is to purchase a new book shelf. That is on my list for this week.

Rereading my old friends gives me a lot of pleasure and is one of my favorite pastimes in retirement. My darling feels the same way as I do so I can foresee a future home with built in bookshelves wall to wall and floor to ceiling all over the house. The up side of that will be no walls to paint but the down side is we have to hang our pictures somewhere. I guess we will have to figure that out.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Two Gifts

When God created Adam and Eve, He said: I only have two gifts: One is the art of peeing standing ...

And then Adam stepped forward and shouted: ME!, ME!, ME!,

I would love it please ... Lord, please, please! Look, it will make my life substantially easier.

Eve nodded, and said those things did not matter to her. Then God gave Adam the gift and he began to shout for joy. He ran through the garden of Eden and used it to wet all the trees and bushes, ran down the beach making drawings with his pee in the sand ... Well, he would not stop showing off.

God and Eve watched the man crazy with happiness and Eve asked God: What is the other gift? '

God answered: Eve,..... a brain ... and it is for you ...!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Daylight Savings Time RANT

It is time for my annual rant! Yes Tomorrow very early we spring our clocks forward an hour for Day Light Savings Time. This changing back and forth has never made any sense to me as we do not really save anything. There are the same 24 hours in a day and all they do is shift our clocks to loose us an hours sleep on Sunday. There are the same number of daylight hours to deal with which changes with the seasons anyway.

I recognize that I am more aggravated than others about this since as a preacher it has meant that my main working day Sunday is messed up twice a year. If you have to do it why not on Saturday? Then to make matters worse every so often some politician decides to put forth a bill to start DLST earlier and end it later. Sunday it will still be dark at 7 AM and light at 8 PM as summer approaches the sun sets around 10 PM.

I know that my little rant will not change any thing but I feel better for doing it. SO how do you feel about this madness? You may post your opinions here. Change your clocks any way!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

From Out of the Blue

Sometimes trouble hits us from out of the blue when we least expect it. It could be be any number of things like our only car suddenly dies and the repair cost more than the car is worth. It could also be more drastic like the sudden death of someone we love very much. Our world can be turned upside down in a failed relationship and divorce or separation. Our heart aches with a pain that is deeper than words can express. We can feel that there is not a person on earth that knows what we are going though and we are so alone in our grief and pain.

That of course is not true on many levels. There are many people all over the world who are going through the same thing every day. If we allow ourselves to reach out to others we will find people who can empathize with us because they know how we feel. We are not truly alone in our pain. We also know that God is with us if we allow our spirits to reach out to the Holy Spirit in prayer and as Jesus taught us we will be comforted.

There was a time when a woman I loved very much broke off our relationship and left me devastated. I did not think that I could love like that again and I prayed for relief from my hearts pain. To my relief and joy the great love of my life and the truly perfect person for me reached out from a great distance to heal my pain. What joy has filled my life ever since.

Thank you Lord for sending her my way with more love than I have ever known.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Living With My Enemy

Yesterday I wrote about Sugar as my worst enemy now I am thinking about how I have had to learn to live with my enemy sugar. It is scary what too much sugar does to the human body and it starts early. To begin with even in children it rots the teeth. If you do not use it in exercise it adds fat to the body and clogs blood vessels. Over all it upsets the balance in the body.

Because of all the hidden sugars even in the most unexpected places I have to test my blood sugar levels every day and if they are high three times a day. This involves pricking my finger for a drop of blood and using a meter to collect it and test it. I got use to the prick but it still hurts. If I get high readings I have to go back and check on what I ate and see where the sugar came from. Then that item goes on my “Do Not Eat” list.

I have also had to up my exercise levels to use up excess sugar and sometimes that is not possible so I have to use creative efforts to do it. Lot of up and down the basement stairs. To day there is cold, snow and ice so I am not getting out for my usual walks and swimming. Living with my enemy is something I have to be aware of every day and I miss the good old days when I didn't think about it but should have.

People the enemy is all around us and is trying to kill us slowly. Be aware be very aware.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Worst Enemy

I became addicted at a very early age, most likely inutero as my mother was also addicted before I was born. Everyone thought that my now enemy was a good friend that was helpful but it was killing us all very slowly. Ads on radio and television touted its benefits and encourage more and more use of it.

If you think I am talking about smoking you are wrong. My worst enemy is SUGAR! Do you remember the cereal ads for sugar corn pops and sugar frosted flakes? The cereals are still there but they dropped sugar from the label. Now they do not brag about the sugar in our food, they try to hide its presence in ever greater amounts.

I grew up in a house that always had cokes and other soda pops in six ounce bottles containing two cups of sugar. Now you get two liter bottles and big gulp cups. Today there are several kinds of added sugars in almost everything. Check the labels and find them but you often have to know the technical words for sugar like dextrose and fructose to find them. To purchase food with sugar left out you have to pay more money. Imagine that they leave out an ingredient and charge you more.

Ten years ago I found out that I have diabetes and now most of the foods I loved are like poison to me because they contain so much sugar. I haven’t had a coke or big red in a very long time. We have switched to cooking using raw natural foods and no sugar. Still it is a hard battle against my worst enemy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Communion on the Moon

Many of us are not aware of this story. I didn't know this, but it's awesome!
Communion on the Moon: July 20, 1969 (This is an article by Eric Metaxas)

Forty-five years ago two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon. But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it. "I 'm talking about the fact that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. Some months after his return, he wrote about it in Guideposts magazine. And a few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask).

The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his minister to help him. And so the minister consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth's orbit and on to the surface of the moon.

He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, # $ whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way." He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened: "In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.'

"I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O'Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. "I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility.

It was interesting for me to think the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements." And of course, it's interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon - and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the "Love that moves the Sun and other stars." How many of you knew this? Too bad this type news doesn't travel as fast as the bad does.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

An Auspicious Prayer

I have marveled at the power of “The Lord's Prayer” every time I say it. Most Christians say it every Sunday during worship and sadly we say it by rote. Every Sunday we repeat it with the rest of the congregation without thinking about what it means. All the way through the words have great meaning and we just say them because everyone else is saying them.

There is a phrase that should stop us in our tracks and say “Now wait a minute!” It is that part where we ask God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others. Most of us need more mercy than that. How many people carry a grudge around all their lives. Unforgiving and angry we condemn someone who hurt us in some way. Often we hold others who are different from us as guilty of the sins of their people. Some hate other people only because their parents hated them.

Yet Jesus teaches us to pray “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” You can put in Debts or Trespasses as you are accustomed but it comes out to sins all the same. It begs the question “How can we be forgiven if we do not forgive?” The answer is we can not for the hatred, anger, grudge or spite put a barrier between us and God. The non-forgiveness becomes our sin that is not forgiven as long as we hang on to it.

Think twice before you say The Lord's Prayer for it is an auspicious prayer.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Always Be Prepared

The old Boy Scout in me remembers the motto: “Be Prepared.” There were never any limits for that motto we were trained to be prepared for anything and everything. We are to be physically prepared, mentally prepared and spiritually prepared for all of our life.

I was thinking about that for my worship and devotion experience and about how that motto would apply for me today. In my prayers I need to focus my thoughts and center my spirit and make it ready to accept God’s Holy Spirit.

As part of my preparations I open my heart to feel the love of God for me and all humankind. In my open heart I share that love and express my love for all of God’s children.

With my centered spirit and open heart I then can open my mind and clear it of all the noise of my life. Now I can be ready to listen to God.
Being prepared is something this old boy scout does every day in my walk of faith.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cain and Able?

I have been thinking about the many layers in the story of Cain and Able. I wrote about this sometime back in response to a question and thought it was time for an up date.

Is one sacrifice better than another? Perhaps it is more to the point of the attitude of the one offering the sacrifice. It says that Able offered the “First Fruit” or the best of his crop while Cain brings only an offering from his crop. This beggs the question for us today. "Do we give of our best – first fruits – in our offerings?" It does not matter what kind of offering if it is the best we have.

Able offered a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of his sin, so he did acknowledged his fault before God. We do not know what that sin was and it is not important. His relationship with God was at peace. He died not because of his sin but because of his brother’s sin. I receive from that thought the concept that though my brother's sin is different than mine both our sins are the same before God,

Am I my brother’s keeper? I note here that Cain used that question as a means to deflect God’s question. How often do we dodge the real question about our sin?

Answering a question with a question is an old and well used tradition. Here is a clue to Cain’s problem not wanting to own up to his own responsibility for his actions in the way his offering was made and for the killing of his brother. Cain was selfish and self centered and it corrupted his relationship with God and that is the real issue of the story.

It is important for us that we are more concerned about our own relationship with God than to condemn someone else.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who Was John the Baptist?

Sunday at Hurstbourne Christian Church Pastor Mike preached about the baptism from the Gospel of Matthew chapter three. The sermon was focused on Jesus but my mind went back forty years to my experience in seminary when I was assigned to write a paper on “Who was John the Baptist.”

At first I thought how am I going to come up with enough information about a wild preacher who eats bugs. I didn't think that there was all that much to know about the wondering preacher in the wilderness. But I was wrong! Between the Bible and Jewish history there is a lot of information for even a long paper. I was soon deep in historical research about John, his family and life. I looked at what all the Gospels said about him and was amazed.

According to to Luke, John came from a long line of priest and high priest of the family of Aaron the brother of Moses and the Hebrew's first High Priest. Even his mother was in the family of Aaron and was a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus. Looking carefully at the story of John's father Zechariah we find him in the temple serving as a priest and conducting a very specific worship service for Israel. He is described as going alone into the sanctuary of the Lord to make in incense offering while all the others waited outside. That description says volumes for that event takes place once a year on the day of atonement and is only preformed by the High Priest in the Holy of Hollies.

It was then that Zechariah had a vision and was informed that he would have a son and would name him John. The boy would be a Nazarite dedicated to God. As son of a priest John would have been raised to be a priest for he was a priest by birth. Though the Bible does not tell us about his service in the Temple it is safe to assume that he took his turn a few times before he traded his priestly clothes for a coat of camel hair and went out of Jerusalem and into the wilderness.

I had always wondered why so many high ranking people went out to the Jordan river to hear him preach. Now I knew that he was a priest and the son of a high priest who could have become a High Priest who was preaching and baptizing people in the wilderness. Of course they went out to hear him preach in droves as they knew he was sent by God.

I am so glad that I was assigned that paper for it deepened my understanding about John the Baptist.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Books

I received four books for Christmas and have read two of them. There are four Star Trek books and two historical books, those were the ones I read first. My family knows what I like to read. The two I have already read are “Agent Garbo” by Stephan Talty and “The Aleppo Codex” by Matti Friedman.

Agent Garbo is a really good true spy story and very well written. Garbo was the code name the British gave to a Spaniard named Juan Pujol a Barcelona poultry farmer. He was caught up in the Spanish civil war and developed an extreme dislike for Hitler and the Nazis. He became a double agent in favor of the British and was their mastermind spy during WWII. This is one of those books that is hard to put down once you start reading it.

The central character of the Aleppo Codex is not a person but a book. It is an ancient copy of the Hebrew Bible that resided in the Aleppo Syria synagogue and was smuggled out to Israel after the creation of the Jewish state. It is very interesting though sometimes trying to read. I picked it up and put it down several times.

Now on to my Star Trek books and the world of fantasy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Last night I was unexpectedly entertained and had a lot of laughs while helping my darling. My Chaplain wife needed to be at one of her companies nursing homes at ten thirty for a blessing of the hands of the late shift staff. I drove her down town for the service and waited in the lobby while she preformed the service.

The company providing security at the health center was training a new guard for the late shift. It was the young man's first night duty shift and an experienced guard was showing him the ropes. As she was quizzing him on the things he was taught it became clear that we was becoming more nervous by the second. Part of his job was to answer the phone with the name of the health center stating that he was security, state his name and ask, “How may I help you?”

That sounds easy enough but as she questioned him he repeatedly messed up one part of the phone message or another. He would ad words or forget the name of the health center. At one point he couldn't remember his name. It became a comic routine that soon had both myself and the trainer in stitches. Our laughter wasn’t helping the young man at all. Finally the trainer said that they need to take a break and come back to it in an hour and she led him on rounds of the building.

As I thought about that young man this morning I remembered that I use to get very nervous taking test and how being new at something is what all of us go through from time to time. I know that once he settles in that he will get everything right and may some day be training some one else for the job.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Exercising our Rights

To exercise our right to agree or disagree with our political leadership is part of what makes America great. Yet to treat leaders with outright hatred and disrespect dishonors our Nation and undermines the values that has made our Nation great.

President Obama and his distinguished predecessors are true Americans regardless of their political affiliations and deserve the respect of having been elected to office. If, on the other hand, some people choose to treat our leaders with hatred and disrespect, they will do more damage to our country than any individual President will ever do.

As an elected leader I am always willing to listen to objections and even expect them. Our form of governance is designed to seek the middle way though expressions of position, discussion of ideas and finding a path agreeable to all. It is not easy and often messy but it is how democracy works.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Here we are January 1, 2014 once considered in science fiction as the far distant future. Today we are blessed to live in a wonderful country with many freedoms and opportunities before us. The economy is improving and life seems good. This new year will be what we make of it by the choices we make regardless of the events of nature or the actions of other people. We can choose to live strong in the face of adversity of cower in fear of what might be. Either way it is our choices that will make the difference for us. I believe that being positive and aware of the advantages that show up every day I can make th4e world around me a better place to live. Being kind to others and helpful will also bring kindness and help to me. If I can see the good in others and encourage that goodness it will overpower darkness and evil. What will you make of your 2014?