Category Archives: Current Events

Did You Understand the Message of Arrival Before They Departed?

arrival_movie_posterHave you seen the super highly rated, PG-13, 2016 sci-fi thriller, Arrival?
Or, maybe first I should ask if you watched the Academy Awards last night.arrival-posterArrival was nominated for 8 Oscars (although it’s only win was for sound editing), not to mention 184 other nominations in other venues,
and it already had 34 wins going in to the 89th Academy Awards. trying-to-decipher-language-in-arrivalMy son Joel
(who’s an editor at a local publishing house and is fascinated by language) arrival-dvd-2016enjoyed it so much that he bought a copy shortly after Arrival was available,
and we watched it as a family.arrival-amy-adams-as-linquistics-professorWithout spoiling the end (if you haven’t seen it), I can tell you that the story
is about a linguistics professor, Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), arrivalwho is asked to leave her position teaching linguistics at a university arrival-jeremy-renner-as-ian-donnellyand join physicist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner) base-camp-for-studying-aliens-in-arrivalas part of a special army task force assigned to a military base in Montana arrival-space-shipin response to a world crisis, where 12 extraterrestrial spacecraft appear hovering just above the earth at various locations around the globe. arrival-what-are-theyAlthough throughout the world people feel threatened by this extraterrestrial presence, and some nations prepare to attack in hopes of destroying them,amy-adams-in-arrival-2Louise and Ian work together for months trying to decipher the aliens’ language in the hopes of understanding why they have come to the earth. trying-to-understand-the-aliens-in-arrivalAre the aliens friendly or dangerous? arrival-hetapodWhat are they trying to say? arrival-louise-banks-enters-the-sphere-of-the-aliensWill Louise and Ian survive their encounters?extraterrestrial-spacecraft-in-arrivalWill the earth survive their encounters?

arrival-space-ship-landingThere’s a lot of suspense, a fascinating plot with a good twist at the end, and a subliminal message that the viewers are left to ponder for themselves. Without saying too much that might spoil the experience for those who haven’t seen it yet, the message I took from the movie is that of transcendence. To me, God is the timeless, transcendent One who knows the past, present, and future. He sees all and knows all, from the beginning to the ending.

This goes beyond the movie, but I believe we can know some things about the future even in our present if we’ll only study to decipher God’s handwriting on the wall. God tells us in the Bible that He’s the great “I am,” the beginning and the ending.

Is God friendly or dangerous? Although many people fear God as a potential threat (just like many of the nations feared the aliens), God is actually friendly now. God is Love, and God loves us!

What is God trying to say? He has come with a message:  There is a Day of  Judgment coming in the future, for which we need to prepare now.

Will we survive our encounters? Only you and I can answer that for ourselves by trying, but it’s scary to try before you know, isn’t it? Just like Louise and Ian demonstrated, it takes a lot of faith, courage, and hope. God entered time and space in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, who came to die in our place, making reconciliation with God possible if we are willing to repent (change our ways) and accept the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ.

Will the earth survive our encounters? There is an answer in the Bible. Do you know it? (If you don’t, try reading the last book in the Bible, called Revelation.) Finding the answer is a lot more thrilling than watching Arrival! arrival-skyNow unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,  To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

In the Spirit of the Ides of February

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Maureen Churabrutus-and-the-ghost-of-caesar-public-domain-wikiMost people know about the Ides of March, March 15, which was made infamous by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and continued in infamy by Shakespeare’s famous play, Julius Caesar, written some 1643 years later.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

However, did you know that February 15 also has special significance historically? February 15 was the date of an ancient ritual of purification, particularly washing with water, to purify people and their city from any evil spirits, which would allow the blessings of health and fertility to flourish as the citizens prepared for spring. februar_leandro_bassano-public-domainI don’t know about you, but I find all the dissension in America deeply disturbing, and I’m wondering if we might honor today as a day of personal purification coupled with earnest prayers for the healing of ourselves and our nation. It’s so easy to be critical of others…to make ourselves and our own values  into a gold standard for the way things should be. Can we instead humble ourselves and ask God to purify our hearts and straighten our thinking, so that we can see clearly and become a positive influence for good instead of adding to the cacophony of discord? There’s an old saying that “Charity starts at home,” and I think it’s just as true that “Purity starts with me.” Are we casting stones because we’re perfect and angry, or are we throwing mud because we’re frustrated that life is unfair and things aren’t going the way we think they should? Instead of adding to the problem, let’s pray that God will make us part of the solution by purifying our hearts and the hearts of our people. We can’t change others, but by God’s grace we can change ourselves. Then, I do believe God himself will rise up and move to work all things together for good…something no amount of fighting and anger will accomplish.mourning_mingrelians_pranishnikoff_1884“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” (James 4:7-9)

New Records Set in Super Bowl 2017: It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over!

tom-brady-wiki-by-jeffrey-beallSuper Bowl LI set nearly 25 new records and tied another 7, making it the most startling and exciting in Super Bowl history! A sampling of the firsts included:

* First Super Bowl ever to go into overtime

*Tom Brady appeared in 7 Super Bowls, the most by any one player

*Bill Belichick won his 5th Super Bowl, the most games won by a head coach

*Tom Brady won his 5th Super Bowl (at age 39 no less), the most games won by any quarterback

*Most points scored: New England’s James White set two new records for a running back, 20 points and 14 receptions

*Tom Brady set a record for most receptions completed: 43

*Tom Brady also set a new record for most yards in Super Bowl history: 466

*New England Patriot’s set a new record for the largest deficit to overcome: 25 points (biggest before that had been just 10 points)

*Patriots set a new record for offensive plays: 93

*Tom Brady set a new record for most passes attempted: 63

super-bowl-51Talk about an exciting game!! Did you watch the Super Bowl? I didn’t.  Alan watched until near the end of the fourth quarter when Tevin Coleman received the six-yard pass that left the score at 28 for the Atlanta Falcons to only 3 for the New England Patriots. In all of Super Bowl history, no team had been able to recover and win with stats like that, so Alan didn’t want to stay up just to watch the bitter end. Fine by me. I was getting sleepy anyway, and I didn’t know one team from another.

Imagine our surprise the next morning when we heard that the Patriots made an unbelievable comeback, tied the score at 28:28 by the end of the game, and then went on to win 34:28 in overtime. As the beloved catcher for the the New York Yankees, Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And, he should know, because he had a lot of exciting comebacks over the years after his games looked lost. He was a fighter! Did you know that Yogi’s record of winning 10 World Series Baseball Championships and being an 18-time All Star hasn’t been broken in the 45 years since he retired? Talk about never giving up. Super inspiring!1953_bowman_yogi_berra-wiki

To me, this Super Bowl is also super inspiring! Are you struggling with something? Feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, like you’ll never be able to climb out of the hole you’re in? Your life and my life ain’t over ’til they’re over. Let’s keep fighting and never give up! Recovery from the “largest deficit in history” may seem impossible, but don’t give up and fall asleep! Victory is possible, whether it’s financial, moral, physical, emotional, spiritual, or whatever! By the way, if you’re over your head and need help, God is here; He loves you; He’s available! Just ask! It probably won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be pretty, but it’s possible. Know it. Do it!

superbowlliA bruised reed he will not break,  and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory (Matthew 12:20, ESV).

The Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3, ESV).

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV).

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Corinthians 15:57, ESV).

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4, ESV).

 

Chasing Slow All The Way To Hawaii

chasing-slowErin Loechner is young. I am a senior citizen. Erin Loechner is a blogger with a fan base of over a million women. I have yet to have half a million people even view my blog and no “fan base” at all! Erin Loechner’s new book, Chasing Slow, just hit the market three weeks ago. I’ve never had a book hit the market! One thing we do have in common: She has no clue who I am, and I have no clue who she is…or at least that was true until I accepted the offer to read and review her book on my blog.

Chasing Slow arrived just before we left for Hawaii, and I chased slow all the way there and back, as the deadline is today! Do I recommend her book? Yes, for these people:

*Women who feel a lion roaring inside them or are feeling dizzy on their merry-go-round. (If this makes sense to you…you’re in.)

*Women who own a Millennial, love a Millennial, or would like to understand the pressures on this now largest living generation, born sometime between 1980 until 2000 or so. Millennials are a cohort of 75± million precious souls who are the major target of massive marketing efforts. They live in a world of cyber connection, averaging 250 friends on Facebook and a median of 50 phone texts per day. They tweet, instagram, pin, blog, linkin and are expected to measure their self worth on the yardstick of what the world-wide web deems perfection.

There’s the reason the “web” is called the “web.” It’s sticky and few escape. Erin found herself trapped in the vortex and has been trying to find her way out.

But it seemed impossibly hard, because she kept feeding the lion, and he was never satisfied. Feeding the lion? I grew up eating the Word and brushed my cut my teeth on 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t feed the lion, resist the lion, and cast all your cares on God, who will care for you and deliver you from the lion (1 Peter 5:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:17). Sounds simple, but I know it’s hard. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to keep the lion fed. Both sooner and later he’ll just keep devouring you.

Feeling dizzy or empty? “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). That works better than yoga, brambleberry lip stain, or a double chocolate latte with whipped cream. Seeking fame and fortune—which comes standard on most Millennials—isn’t the endgame of life. Love and connection with God, family and friends is. Erin’s struggle to figure that out will inspire you if you’re a Millennial and probably distress you if you’ve stayed out of the fast lane, but she’s a very entertaining, openhearted writer, and she salts her mismatched analogies with lots of pepper, so if you can keep from crying you’ll be laughing as you read along her wild ride Chasing Slow.

(P.S.—Tomorrow I want to tell you about a Hawaiian we met last week named Larry Rivera. He played with Elvis Presley back in the day but passed him forty years ago by chasing slow!)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

Are You Tuned in to Donald Trump’s Inauguration?

donald_trump_august_19_2015-wikiToday is Inauguration Day… “the big day” that every American’s been waiting for, either with a sense of anxious dread or excited anticipation, or something in between. Are you going to watch Trump being sworn in at noon today?trump_rally_in_cincinnati-wikiWhether you’re lining up with the thousands of protesters in L.A. or have a room reserved in Washington D.C., there’s electric energy in the air across the country. I try really hard to avoid being political on this blog, although I am deeply grateful for every person who has invested his (or her) life in trying to make our country the best possible through serving in a public leadership role…a difficult calling at best and a heart-breaking disappointment at worst.  trump-caucus-wikiWould you like to be the president of the United States? Frankly, I would not. donald_trump-wikiApart from spending my life flat on my face praying to God Almighty for wisdom, I can’t imagine how I (or anyone) could possibly have the insight and courage to rule our country well. I have a few friends who are quite delighted with the prospects of Trump becoming president, and I have many friends and family members who vacillate between feelings of fear, anger, and despair.  electoralcollege2016-wikiNo matter how you feel personally, as Christians I know what the scripture teaches, and that is: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  donald_trump_laconia_rally_laconia_nh_4_by_michael_vadon_july_16_2015_19-1Over the years, I’ve done more complaining and less praying for our presidents than I want to admit, but I’d like to encourage all of us to take up our role as prayer intercessors on  behalf of those who are in positions of authority… especially Donald Trump. Do you want to be able to live a quiet, peaceful, godly, honest life? I do. Let’s put our prayers where our complaints have been and lift up Donald Trump to the throne of grace, so that we (and he) “may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

donald_trump_and_mike_pence_july_2016-wikiWhen the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn
” (Proverbs 29:2).

(All photos used by permission of Wiki Commons.)

Forks over Knives

forks-over-knivesOne of my health-conscious friends
introduced me to Forks over Knives last time she visited.

thomas-edison-quoteIt’s a documentary from 2011 that explores the potential for people to improve their health through choosing a vegetable-based rather than meat-based diet. In fact, Lee Fulkerson (the director) is so passionate about his research that you can now watch the entire ninety-six-minute movie online, apparently for free. (We used Netflix.)prostate-cancer-in-japanAlan and I watched Forks over Knives with interest, and I think they make some very compelling arguments for eating more vegetables and less meat. prostate-cancer-in-u-s                                When worded that way, I doubt anyone would disagree. cancer-cells-growingTo become a vegetarian is more extreme than most of us are likely to go, but the movie makes a powerful case for lethal links between processed and meat-based foods with various cancers, heart conditions, and other diseases.cancer-cells You might think it cruel to discuss such a movie during the holidays (or that I have no right to talk having shared a couple of recipes for candies lately), and I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, but as the year draws to a close and we reflect on what we might change in 2017, I think improving our diet is always one worthy goal. Lizzie said that she and her husband haven’t become vegetarians, although they’re trying to be “flexitarians”…using meat now and then rather than as a staple of their diet. Her husband mentioned that he’s been trying to eat whole grains and veggies for breakfast and lunch and then allowing himself some (smaller) portions of meat with dinner.

consumption-of-sugar-chartHowever we slice it, the typical American diet laced with sweeteners,
fatty and fast foods is not healthy! growth-in-use-of-refined-products-in-u-s

I don’t know if you make New Year’s resolutions, but on the eve of 2016, this might be a good time for all of us to take stock and reinvigorate our menus with more veggie-based dishes for 2017. I’m definitely attempting this, and if you have any vegetable recipes you especially enjoy, I’ll try them if you’ll share them with us. Thanks! (P.S.—Forks over Knives also publishes a cook book and has other resources available online.)

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:1-3, ESV)

Ode to Icicles

icicles-and-snow-fallingOde to Iciclesicicles-seen-from-insideBars on my castle
Iced drops of rain
Jack Frost was crying
Out my window pane.  rings-and-ridges-in-iciclesSnowflakes dissolving
Wept frozen tears
Ringed like a tree trunk
In hours, not years.  icicles-in-the-sunshineTransparent carrots
Grown in the wind
Sunshine to water
But no one to tend. icicles-like-stalactitesCrystal stalactites
Not from a cave
Born in the open
Where birds must be brave. sparrows-sitting-on-rail-in-winter

icicles-growing-in-a-rowSwords of Damocles
Hung from the sky
Begging the question
Is something awry?
icicles-formingFair jewels from snow
Sharp as a knife
More precious than bread
The Water of Life.
long-icicles-12-15-16The longer they hang
The longer they grow
The longer I know
My life must need snow.
(—Kathryn W. Armstrong, December 15, 2016)row-of-icicles-hanging-off-roof “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22).icicles-snow-and-sunshine