Friday, May 30, 2008

Concerning the Final Frontier


Star we come! Particles making up normal matter also have opposite versions of themselves called anti-matter. An electron has a negative charge, for example, but its anti-matter equivalent, the positron, is positive. Matter and anti-matter annihilate each other when they collide and their mass is converted into pure energy by Einstein's equation E=mc2. Some futuristic spacecraft designs incorporate anti-matter engines. I know that Dr. Stephen Hawking has said that he is working on warp drive...I wouldn't put it past this brilliant fellow to at least get a start on it.

Space Station

The one and only commode on the Space Station went out early in the week. I haven't heard, but I am assuming that it has been fixed.


The Phoenix Lander has sent back some dazzling images of the surface of Mars. The surface has a checkerboard look to it, as the ice that lies just beneath the dirt and sand has cracked into certain "square" formations. But, I refuse to be impressed by Phoenix's work until I see some hard of evidence of Martians :-).

Don (no, I am not a space topic, although some might think so...just signing off ;-).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Write?


In relating the (a) purpose for blogging, the answer can be found in a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip on my wall. (By the way, "Calvin and Hobbes" isn't just funny, it is about life -- the greatest philosophers of their (our) day...particularly Hobbes). In this strip Calvin has a sidewalk booth set up with a sign on it that says..."Great Ideas, $1.00." Suzy Derkins walks up and says to Calvin, "this is the dumbest thing I have ever seen in my life!" To which, Calvin replies, "Yeah, well go soak your head!" Suzy leaves, and in the third frame Calvin is left to ponder (as usual). Then, in the fourth frame, he yells at the top of his lungs, "HEY, THAT'LL BE ONE DOLLAR."

Seriously, like with Calvin & Hobbes, blogging is about life (and it's generally not for a dollar...and not just about casting insults). But, there is a time and place for everything. In talking with a friend, blogs don't always "ride off into the sunset where everyone lives happily ever after." That may be a certain important part of life and blogging, but it is not all of it. In being an extension of who we are...we may blog to express happiness (concerning good happenings), or perhaps, sadness (at a loss) or anger/disgust (at an injustice) or shock (at something stunning) -- in essence, it is our reality. What I have found fascinating is just how irresistable blogs are to many people; they are either motivated by the Spirit or by the flesh to read. They either want to be encouraged and agree or they want to disagree and be vociferous. But, blogs are about the real lives of real is their story. If comics garner as much attention as they do, which are not always about real people and real situations, (even though, many times, they reflect such...and newspapers periodically relate just how serious people are about their comics) -- how much more so blogs(?). The point is, whether we are young or old, rich or poor, male or female, stories have been, are and always will be compelling. Blessings,


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Power of 1


I had a revelation the other day. (Can this still happen? ;-) I need a regular reminder -- 1 has meaning. Some say it is a lonely number...I believe that it is a powerful number. 1 is a number I chose to include in the title of this blog (out of necessity)...but, it reminds me that 1 person can make a difference for the Lord -- and that 1 person needs to be me. We are talking about evangelism on Sunday mornings...what we all can understand is that each 1 of us has an opportunity to make a difference for the Lord. God wants every 1 to come to an understanding of Him. He believes in each 1 of us and treats us all like we are #1. Besides THE Middle Man's job has been taken..."God gave His 1 and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). I thank God that He sent His Son for me (nearly) every day. I hope you have a great Lord's Day. Take care,


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rays of Sunshine


Yesterday morning, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team was in first place...a first for the usual bottom feeders (pun intended, perhaps) at this time of year. What is the difference? Of course, I have to believe it is because they "knocked the 'devil' out of their name." They were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from their inception (1998)...a nickname or description that I could never like, nor was it a team I could ever cheer for...even if I wanted to do so. Now, the new look Rays, with their new manager Joe Maddon (who?), mixture of young players sprinkled with a few good veteran players are on top of the AL East. What I wouldn't give to see these guys "hang on," put together a good year (win 90 to 100 games) and beat the stuffing out of the Yankees and Red Sox (just once, mind you, with the Sox -- I know I am on thin ice with family members here -- but they could beat the Yanks every year and most of the country would be happy). So...when your division leaders are Minnesota, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Florida, etc. maybe baseball is finally showing the parity of football where different teams have an opportunity to win every year. Well...we can't get too carried away, but it is refreshing that certain "small market" teams (with lower payrolls), like Oakland, Minnesota, Florida, who have good leadership (general managers, managers, scouts, etc.), end up in the playoffs, or at least with a winning record nearly every year. Perhaps, it is now the Rays' turn. Maybe the Mariners could take a page out of their book. :-) And...a final shout out -- to the Texas Ra(y)ngers who were being ridiculed (and their manager was on the hot seat) just a month ago and now are sniffing .500, pretty amazing. Blessings,


Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Perspective


I had a day whereby I was dealing with vehicles for much of the day...plenty of reason to moan and groan. It is usually an unpleasant task to deal with vehicles, and this day did not appear that it was going to be any different on this front....but Jehovah Jireh blessed (the Lord provides :-). I am thankful for a couple of people -- Carlton for helping get the church van going and Tommy who was such a great help in repairing our van...what a blessing they both were today. We have had a need to get the vehicle fixed and I am quite particular about my auto mechanic -- I wasn't certain what to do about a week ago. But, a friend told me about Tommy, and so I thought about it, fretted some and ultimately prayed about it (wrong order? :-). Tommy has been a God-send and if anyone needs any auto help, he is the man.

Yet, in the midst of this driving and striving, fretting and fussing...and being thankful, my mind kept going to another place -- Myanmar. As I was stumbling along today, I thought about the story of the man I read about today who lost half of his family...half a world away. I thought about 29,000 individuals who have lost their lives and more than this number (33, 000) who are still missing. It made me made me pray. And what does a person pray at moments like this(?). It is so difficult to know what to do and what to say sometimes...and it causes me, once again, to ponder Romans 8:26. Life and circumstances can be good and they can be challenging...people can be trying and they can be a blessing, but we must trust the Lord with everything.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Message for (My) Mothers


This is a special day where we are able to share thoughts and memories of mother. It is certainly an emotional day...and this is okay. We experience feelings of joy, feelings of sadness, feelings of love and admiration. It is a time which is sweet and stressful, thoughtful and wonderful.

I have had a number of Mother's Day sermons where my mom was in the audience...and this has always been a nice blessing -- and even though she is not here today, she is near, I know. We had a good visit the other day. We usually talk about regular everday things just to catch up on family life. Friday we talked and shared memories about more serious matters, which we do from time time, and this... regarding my friend and mentor Sonny. Mom always keeps me appraised of what is going on with church and community, family and friends back in Washington and it provides an avenue where we can continue to bless and encourage one another...and we are thankful for this.

Mom has always been sensetive. She is a Mom's mom, I like to day. She is in tune with feelings...and just has an understanding of my spirit. Even when we are talking on the phone -- she doesn't even have to see me -- she can tell if I am happy, sad, angry, you name it (which is pretty amazing). When I was younger that just used to annoy me so much, but as I have grown and matured (some), I now have a thoughtful and genuine appreciation of this gift. Perhaps, it is because my own girls are now in their upper teenage years and my son is nearly ten...and now I am her in so many ways.

Mom has always been a good protector. One time when I was five years old, she received a phone call at 10 PM one evening. It was from an irate mother in the neighborhood who was accusing her son (me) of beating up her teenage boy. Now, we're talking about a serious case of mistaken identity. Mom relatively calmly assured this other mother that I was 5, was in bed and therefore would not have been the one responsible (which was true...even though I may have been rough and tumble, I was Sesame Street friendly all the way). It was another teenage Middleton boy in the immediate area, whom we had no idea existed...until that evening. There was no way that this guy could be a relative! and he wasn't. Still, even as my sister and I have grown older, she has been and is always there for us.

Mom also is my our children. With all due respect to all mothers, I have not known or seen a better mother in action than my wife. She has taught me so much about life and godliness by the wise, thoughtful and loving way that she has taught and trained our children in life and spiritual concerns from her own motherly perspective -- it is impressive in so many ways. She has been a joy to grow in the Lord together with...and I thank the Lord every day for her being my wife and mother to our children.

Kim's Mom, Nainie has been my mother for 21 years now, but it seems like my whole life...and for this I am grateful. She is a wonderful, sensitive lady who dearly loves her family. We love to go and visit Nainie and Paw Paw John as often as we are able to do so, because we enjoy our time with them. We love to go out to eat Chinese food or go to Chili's...not to mention that Nainie does some wonderful treats like penuche fudge and graham cracker pie. Nainie is a great communicator and writer...and much of the reason why I am writing, even now, is because of her inspiration and encouragement to do so. We need more people in this world who are willing to share stories and blessings and connect with other people. Nainie does this better than anyone I know. Thanks for being our mother and grandmother.

I would be remiss if I didn't say something about my mom's mother -- my grandmother. She was and is very dear to me in so many ways. Even though she has not been with us for 23 years now, I have so many fond and wonderful memories of my times with her, visiting her home and enjoying the best roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy the world had ever seen before or since. Grandma always had candy for us and my sister and I always appreciated it...and so did the dentist. She just loved us and spoiled us (in a responsible kind of way), which seems like an oxymoron, but she was thoughtful about her time, her care and her gifts.

This is such a good day...a spring Thanksgiving. And like thanksgiving, to be thoughtful and thankful for the blessings that we have in and have received from our mothers. It is not really amazing to me that Mother's Day is usually the high watermark for church attendance. I can appreciate that family and friends come together to honor mom and spend time with her on this special day. Thanks for being here and God bless you.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Stars, Spurs and Other Sports Stuff


Now that the Mavs and Rockets have done their usual playoff swoon (unfortunately), the Spurs are still alive (as usual)...but barely. I mentioned to some friends at the beginning of their playoff series with the Hornets that the Spurs could very well get stung. New Orleans seems to be on a mission (2-0 lead in the series as of this writing)...does anyone remember the NFL Giants a few months ago? I am not writing off the Spurs -- how could you? They have been about as close of a thing to a dynasty that the NBA has had this decade. And besides, everything I have picked or touched this year has turned to stone, so I am not making any bold predictions -- go Lakers! Seriously, the Lakers have the look of Champeen, in my humble opinion. Even though I have always been something of a Celts fan, I just don't believe in THIS team from Boston. They had a great regular season, but barely beat the Hawks...and they struggled with the Pistons the first time they faced them last Fall...and I believe they will struggle against them again should they meet in the EC Finals, which they should.

Now to the Stars. (Am I actually talking about hockey? Yawn :-0). It is amazing to me how ridiculous that hockey is...I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out -- and yet still be so close to soccer, the sport of kings and nations. (Although, I am sure there are plenty out there that would say soccer is pathetic). Hockey and soccer are similar enough that most of the indoor soccer leagues I have known play in hockey rinks. Not too many folks expected the Stars to be in the semi-finals...after all, the Sharks were supposed to swallow them in one gulp. Yet, here there are...but, they are going to need another miracle to beat the heavily favored Red Wing Dings from Dingtroit. You never could happen, but I am not picking them, which means they have a good chance!

Micah Owings of Arizona could be Babe Ruth Jr. if given the chance. I blogged about him last year (see Big Man Pitcher post, 8/18/07) when he was amazing me and every one else. Remember, this guy is a pitcher...and he has the highest batting average and one of the highest slugging percentages on the D-Backs team. He's only hitting about .450. Play the guy in the outfield or at first every day, fer crying out loud. He is one of a kind...give him the shot to be something extra-special. Oh, and did I mention that he is 4-1 as a pitcher? The D-backs have to be the team to beat in the NL, although the Cubs and Cards are going to be tough. But, when you have Bullet Bob Melvin as your manager extraordinaire and a rotation with Owings, Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and my favorite pitcher of all-time, the Big Unit, Randy Johnson going for you, you could nearly bat our softball team lineup and do okay (well, probably not, but it was fun to consider it for a moment). So, here's to baseball, hotdogs apple pie and Ford...God bless,


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prayer Request


I just have to ask you to pray for some dear family friends in Washington...Joyce Smart, and children Annette, Amy, Jon, David, Mandy and Grant lost their husband and father, Sonny Smart, this evening after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Sonny was one of the greatest men I have ever known...a well-loved and respected leader in the church and in the community of Wenatchee. He was such a wonderful mentor to me as a young fact, it is a nearly a certainty that I would not still be in full-time ministry were it not for this families' love and wise counsel. I am sad that he is no longer with us, personally, but so relieved for him that he could be set free from this human existence that had been so difficult in recent years. To our Washington friends, take good care of this family...blessings,


Monday, May 5, 2008

Christianity Today 2


I have heard so many people lament over the years about "the good old days" as it relates to when our churches were growing leaps and bounds...and if we could just get back to that time, we would grow again. This is wishful thinking -- but, no. (In fact, Solomon says..."Do not say, 'why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions" (Ecclesiastes 7:10, NIV). In speaking about the "rebirth" of churches of Christ during the 19th century, it occured during a time where rationalism reigned supreme and emotion/passion was subdued. Rationalism was at the root of the "modern" societal movement. Churches of Christ (as well as other mainline religious groups) experienced great growth at the high point of the "modern movement" in the 1950's and 1960's because the "modern" thinking of those attending churches (and particularly those in our fellowship) walked hand in hand with the "modern" culture (as stated -- strict authority...including overstated emphasis on obedience, little grace, appeal to intellect, denigration of emotion, etc.). As culture began to shift in the late 70's and early 80's growth in churches of Christ (as well as in other groups) levelled off and, in fact, began to decline. (People came to counter the authoritarian culture of the day...with the "authoritarianism" of the church receiving the brunt of the exodus). There is virtually a (baby boomer) generation (now between the ages of 48-62) missing in our churches. Why? Our culture was transitioning to a post-modern mindset, whereas our churches were, by-and-large, still "modern" -- authoritarian, strict, lacking grace -- in their thinking and culture. It is hard to believe, but it is still so today (20 years later) in many places. It has been a very difficult transition for our churches -- as how do we overcome 100+ years of history where the same basic rationalistic scheme for evangelism worked?

All of this has a great effect on how we relate to the world today. In effect, we are still in many ways "modern thinking people" now fully immersed in a port-modern culture. What is the point of all of this? Evangelism in our day and time requires that paradigm shift in philosophy that I shared about in an earlier post (see Paradigm Shift). The days of mass baptisms as the result of the gospel meeting and door knocking are obsolete. In general, we are not going to win over people with superb rationalism and debate skills who want to "experience God with their whole being." We have to truly be willing to invest time and energy in relationship with people in this postmodern world...people who, as a whole, are skeptical of us. They do not want to hear a sermon...they want to see it. Most churches are 1). still trying to use modern techniques and utilize modern thinking in a postmodern culture...and it does not work, or 2). not willing to invest in others' lives, develop trust in building relationships that will make the difference with outsiders.

I have heard many people say can my wife and I go to work 5 (to 7) days a week (40 -60 hours), get home, eat, still get a little time with our family, then go to bed, get up and do it all over again...and you want us to evangelize??? We have to change our philosophy, our becoming MORE biblical with our evangelism. Jesus did not go out of His way for anyone -- it was His way. The Great Commission says... (As you) Go, make disciples, baptizing them... We need to bring people along with us in our busyness as much as possible. This is why we have seen such an outgrowth of small is a way to connect with people and build relationships that cannot and does not happen at other times (like Sunday A.M. worship assembly, which has its own culture and purpose). People want to know that we are "real"...that we not only think, but that we have real concerns, experiences, short, real lives. We can have the evangelistic campaign come to our church and go out and baptize 30 people, but how many of them do we typically keep?...not very many. I think that we have always put too much emphasis on "results" (i.e. number of baptisms), instead of number of converts that come from the leading up to and the following after baptism (i.e. number of relationships with the Lord -- and with us -- built). This all sounds so simple enough, but for many of the reasons mentioned above, as well as others, it is easy enough not to do. There is no magic formula, or sermon, or logic...just a conscious, genuine investment of time and energy -- getting real -- in the lives of people who need the Lord. God bless,


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Triumph and Tragedy


Per usual in the sports world, yesterday, we had the predictable and the unpredictable. Big Brown (aka the UPS horse ;-), the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, did so in mighty fashion...winning by five lengths, going away. No horse with only three starts (or less) had won the "big race" since 1915 -- pretty amazing. Equally remarkable is that only one (maybe two)other horse(s) had won from the 20 spot, which is the gate furthest out. Most owners/trainers prefer somewhere between the 3 and 5 slot, so 20 would be a big disadvantage (technically), but not for Big Brown. He had a clean trip and it worked out wonderfully for him and jockey Kent Desormeaux (whom I am glad won -- a likeable fellow). The sad portion of the day was when the second place horse, the filly Eight Belles, broke down after the race, having fractured both front ankles and had to be put down. (It was reminiscent of the filly Ruffian having to be put down during her match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975). This was the first time that this has happened in the 130+ years of the Kentucky Derby. It is tragic that a couple of prominent horses have died in the past three years (the other being Barbaro in 2006), but the statistics (1.5 deaths out of every 1000) bear out that horse racing is no more dangerous than at any other time during the past 40 years. Although, it was apparent that the horse's break down did not occur until well after the race was over, as on too many other occasions where there is no place for radical animal rights activists, they are going after the kid jockey saying that "this was all his fault," when he correctly did everything that he could to slow the horse down.

Dale Jr. has a 70 + race winless streak...and it looked like he was going to end that drought last night with less than ten laps to go -- then he a Kyle Busch collided (most would say Busch wrecked him) and the opportunity for victory was over for him (and for Busch for that matter). You could even hear the gasp and grumbling of the fans on the toob at such an incredibly unpopular happening, which prompted the announcers to say..."hope that Kyle has a police escort to get him out of town." Indeed.

I do not know very many Track & Field followers (are there really still any(?) -- about as popular as cycling with all the performance enhancing drugs) who would not say that disgraced track star, Marion Jones, has not received what she deserved, unfortunately. I, for one, feel a limited sympathy for her...just such a sad thing for her --I mean, who didn't love Marion Jones as a track star? -- and for the sport. She has been stripped of all of her medals from past Olympic competion and now the IOC is asking for her relay teammates to return their medals. I do not think this should be (in my opinion)...punish Marion, but do not rob her teammates of their hard earned hardware (unless they too have cheated, but I do not believe that there has been evidence that any of the others have done so). This should be a situation where grace is in order...and I hope that wiser heads will prevail.

How 'bout a little happier news :-) -- congratulations to Ty, Lori and Ian for beating "the three amigos" in b-ball (a total fluke ;-). However, Joey will never let us live it down :-( ha ha.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Sons" in Daniel


As I have been reading through Daniel in my quiet time, I found these two expressions quite interesting. I have heard some discussion over the years concerning who is the "son of the gods" walking around in the fiery furnace with Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:25)? Some have surmised that this would have to be Jesus, since it would be a fitting description. Personally, I have a struggle with the fact of a pre-incarnate Jesus being among us in a discernable earthly form. It just doesn't fit with my theology, although I would never be dogmatic about it (although we can explore this concept at a latter time). Yet, later in chapter 3 (v.28), the explanation is offered by Nebuchadnezzar that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego sent His angel to deliver these men...something to think about. In 7:13, Daniel is involved in a vision where "One like a Son of Man was coming." Now, I do believe that this is a reference to Jesus coming in order to set up His kingdom...and that the kingdoms of the earth would not be able to stand up against it, which is evidenced in the latter chapters of Daniel. In fact, the expression "Son of Man," which Jesus even uses concerning Himself in the gospel accounts is referring to the fact that He was going to come, in the spirit of David to be the spiritual fulfillment of what his kingdom represented on the earth...only this time, it would be in order to set up the heavenly kingdom. For many years, I have undestood "kingdom" to be a threefold concept -- first, in the person of Jesus Himself (He is the King), second in the establishment of the church, and finally when all will ultimately be fulfilled in the eternal kingdom. I find it ironic that one who would be called a "son of the gods" would, in my opinion, be (in all likelihood) a prominent angel, and that "Son of Man" would be in reference to Jesus...God bless,


Friday, May 2, 2008

Going Home


The story concerning the college softball player yesterday was great. If you did not hear about it, Western Oregon senior, Sara Tucholsky, hit her first home run ever (a three run dinger) against Central Washington. Gazing in awe as she was going to first base, she missed the base and as she turned around to go back, she severely sprained her knee and fell. She tried to stand, but couldn't, and ended up crawling back to first base in great pain. It would be illegal for her to get any help from her teammates, so she would have to get around the bases somehow in order for the run to count... and then a cool thing happened -- two of the Western Oregon girls came, lifted her up, and carried her around to each base and allowed her to touch each one on her way to home. There was probably not a dry eye in the house. What a great story of sportsmanship. It really illustrates what we are to be all about in the Christian walk...