Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Am I the Rich Man?

In case you're not familiar with Jesus' story about Lazarus and the rich man, you can read it here (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2016:19-31;&version=31;).

All my life I've thought that if I had been the rich man, I would've been appalled that a poor beggar, covered with sores, was at the end of my driveway, needing help, and I would then do something to help him.

But this past Sunday, when the story was mentioned again, I realized that reality may not mesh with my self-righteous imaginations.

For one thing, I'm thinking from a modern, middle-American lifestyle point of view, where the beggar is at the end of a 30-foot long concrete driveway, sitting on the curb. However, as I got to thinking about it, this rich man probably had a long winding drive, which was gated at the street. If I had been the rich man, I would not be quite so likely to notice the beggar with him that far from the house, except when I'm coming and going, and by the time I got [back] to the house, I would have forgotten about him.

Until my guests arrived, that is. The rich man was probably receiving all sorts of wealthy guests. So if I had been him, I now have to concern myself with the comfort of my incoming guests; they're not going to want to be bothered by a bum, no more than you like getting stopped at a traffic light next to a panhandler.

For another thing, if I feed this bum, or send some medicine out to treat his sores, he'll tell his friends, and tomorrow there will be four bums at the end of my drive looking for a handout.

For a third thing, aren't there places in town that are designed to take care of this bum? Don't the priests at the Temple have some sort of system to take care of the poor?

And it began to dawn on me that I'm not sure I would have acted any different than the rich man did.

Wow. What a revelation.

This was all brought home to me last night as I was sitting in the car downtown waiting for someone. A beggar lady came up to the car, asking for a handout. I had seen her before, and knew her story to be a lie. And I was glad I didn't have any money on me, telling her that nowadays I pretty much only carry a check-card (which is true).

But as she walked away, I wondered if perhaps she was Lazarus, and I was the rich man.

A couple of days ago I read part of the blog of a homeless man (it's in vogue now for homeless people to be given old laptops and to blog from their local public hotspot). He said that typically homeless people have some sort of "issue" that prevents them from having a job or functioning in society. Sometimes it's mental illness, sometimes it's alcoholism or drug addiction, sometimes it's an intermittent physical condition (like migraines) that might allow a person to work for months, but then might require a month or two worth of sick leave - what employer will keep an employee that needs to take off two months out of every nine?

My self-righteous attitude thinks, "Well, they shouldn't be addicted to drugs", or "It's their own fault for starting to drink alcohol in the first place."

I also tend to think, "Our society has safety nets for people like this; if they really need help, they can seek out the safety nets."

What horrible condemnation awaits me from the rich man, who didn't hear a story like his as a warning all his life?

Someone else, a former alcoholic and drug addict, warns me against giving to people like this, as it feeds their addiction. This, of course, just adds to my self-righteous justification of not giving a dollar to these people.

Another reason to not give is that I've heard that these intersection-located panhandlers make two or three hundred dollars a day. Wow! That's pretty good money.

So I'm really torn. Am I feeding the addictions of con-artists if I give them a buck, or am I the rich man, bound for torments, if I don't?

Friday, June 23, 2006

My brother Darrell, and my other brother Darrell

In reading the books of Chronicles recently, I kept coming upon lists of brothers who had very similar names. I'm not enough of a scholar to know for sure that these are brothers rather than more distant relations, but the first impression I'm left with is that some folks in those days used the same name, or nearly the same name, for different children. Here's some examples from 1 Chronicles:

1 Chron 1:33 - the sons of Midian, Ephah and Epher

4:15 - the sons of Jehallelel, Ziph and Ziphah

4:20 - the sons of Ishi, Zoheth and Ben-Zoheth

7:16 - two brothers named Peresh and Sheresh

7:30 - two brothers named Ishvah and Ishvi

14:3 - David's sons, Elpelet and Eliphelet (both named "Eliphelet" in 3:6)

25:4 - Heman's sons, Hananiah and Hanani

It seems there were others, but I'm not finding them now. I just found this interesting.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Worship Service" vs a Life of Worship

Over the past few years I've come to realize that worship is not something to just be done three times a week during the formal assembly times of the church. As this idea has developed, I got curious once and went looking through the New Testament for the purpose, the reason, for Christians to assemble.

Lo and behold, I discovered that the Christian assemblies are never referred to as "Worship", or "Service", or "Worship Services".

I further discovered that the only "black-and-white"-provided reasons for assembling are for building up and edifying and encouraging one another, and for the Lord's Supper.

This topic came up during class this morning at church. The preacher, and I daresay most of the class participants, haven't yet made this paradigm shift; they still believe that worship is a dedicated period of time that must follow the pattern laid out in the New Testament, and by applying the jigsaw-puzzle mentality to a host of scriptures, come up with the "Five Acts of Worship".

I used to believe this way; the shift to a different paradigm was a very subtle, gray shift, not a 180 or anything obvious like that. Accordingly, it's very hard to see how to explain the shift, and therefore to help others to see it. Yet the end results are so different.

This different paradigm manifests itself in so many different ways at church. I have wrestled for almost a year with becoming a part of the church I'm currently attending. On the one hand, I'm comfortable there, and really like the people, and feel like I'd have an influence there. On the other hand, the influence I'd have would likely either turn everyone against me, or would cause dissension in the church. I've prayed a lot about it, that God would guide me one way or the other, but it seems that it's just a decision I'll have to make on my own, with my own human wisdom and/or fallibility.

One thing about attending here is that I've been very regular. Elsewhere I'm not sure I'd be so regular. I'd have a hard time getting plugged in; or there'd be too many people and I'd get panicky; or there'd be too few people and I'd feel like the church is dead.

I think a HUGE difference that could be made in this church would be new song books. Huge. Absolutely gargantuan. This church is stuck in the 1950's, and I suspect a large part of that is the song book.

But I'm rambling. The basic point of this blog is that I don't really fit in at the church I'm attending, and I believe they are teaching as doctrine some commandments of men, but I don't know what to do about either issue.

Today I came across this page which goes a long way toward explaining my thoughts concerning worship.

Drivin' Through History

I've recently discovered a 30-minute show on the local "Christian" television channel called "Drive Thru History, with Dave Stotts".

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. I love this sort of stuff. I think Christians would benefit greatly from this program. It should be shown in the adult and high school classes on Sunday mornings.

Last night's episode had Dave visiting the towns of Hieropolis, Laodicea, and Colossae. Hieropolis has hot springs, and was a popular tourist spot; Colossae was known for its springs of cool, refreshing water.

The third town, Laodicea is interesting in relation to the book of Revelation. Aquaducts from the two towns mentioned above carried water about 20 miles into Laodicea, but by the time the water got there, the hot water from Hieropolis was no longer hot, and the cool water from Colossae was no longer cool; this tepid water, being neither cold nor hot, had a bad taste. Also, the town of Laodicea was known for its banking industry (making the town rich), it's clothing industry (providing clothes), and a medical industry that produced eye salve (for healing eye problems).

The church in Laodicea is the only one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation about which nothing good is said. Instead, we read the following from Rev: 3:14ff:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
But you do not realize that you are ... poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

What If New Scriptures Were To Be Found?

I've often wondered what the church of Christ would do if some archeological dig found a forgotten lost book of the Bible. Oh, I know there have been many so-called "Lost Books of the Bible", but I'm talking about the genuine thing.

For example, Paul writes to the Colossians in Col 4:16:
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Here we have a God-inspired account of the existence of a letter written by Paul to the Laodiceans, apparently carrying equal weight as the letter to the Colossians as regards inspiration, which we do not have today. What if that letter were to show up, here, nearly 2000 years later? How would it be received?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Young Eutychus

I always thought Eutychus was young, as in 8 to 13 or thereabouts. Apparently not:
As Paul extended his speech, a young (neanias - signifying between the ages of approximately twenty-four to forty - Arndt, p. 536) man named Eutychus was borne down with “deep sleep.”
From http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/eutychus.htm

Seek Truth

Nobel Prize-winning French novelist Andre Gide had a point when he advised, "Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
as stated by Tom Harris of the National Post.

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Vision

Over the past few years I've developed the vision that this physical Earth on which we sit is not just something to be ignored while waiting on the much better home in Heaven. There are lots of indications in the Bible that Jesus wants us here, being salt and light; there are indications that sin actually, physically, corrupts the land where sin occurs. Some deep stuff that I'm not wanting to go into at the moment.

But I just came across an interesting verse, in Revelation 11:18:
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.
Notice that last line? Yhwh's not happy about us destroying our Earth; I suspect He then would not be particularly happy about us ignoring it either, allowing it to fall apart around us while we look to a new Heaven and a new Earth (which is a Biblical concept, just not, apparently, to the exclusion of taking care of this one and keeping it running as long as we can).


This morning I had an epiphany.

I was thinking about a man I know who has typically had great success meeting women and, um, "dating" them. (Yeah, that's the term; "dating".) He's married now, and has been married for about 5 years. He's been married before, I think twice.

It struck me that he's great with meeting women, but has not been so great with keeping them. I really hope he keeps the current one, because she's a dandy.

Anyway, on to my epiphany. It struck me that there are two skillsets involved here:

1) meeting women (and one-night standing them)

2) keeping a woman

I've never been good with meeting women (and refuse to one-night stand them, hormones notwithstanding - women (in general, and that one woman specifically) are more valuable to me than that). But perhaps I have that second skill of maintaining a long-term relationship. This thought encourages me somewhat.

New Words

In an earlier post I mentioned watching a Woody Allen flick, "Anything Else", from which I learned several new words. Here's my list:

typhlosis / lotic

I'll leave it up to the reader to learn what these words mean. (A couple I was familiar with, but didn't really know.)

The phrase "vino veritas" was also mentioned, in contrast to "eros veritas". I still haven't gotten around to looking that up. (I hope I didn't just say something offensive.)

Woody's character also ranted at one point, if my memory serves me correctly, about people always going to psychologists and psychoanalysts, etc, trying to find answers to Life. He wrapped up that little rant by saying that people should just learn that "Life is what it is". Somehow that resonated with me, but I'd have to see that scene again to figure out more about why it resonated. Still, thought I'd mention it, because, after all, this is a blog, which means I can rant all I want about meaningless nothings.

Vox Day uses an interesting word: "omniderigence". Apparently it's a voxism, meaning:

Performing universal action, providing sole and total motivation; all-acting.
It refers to the idea that God is a micro-manager, not only knowing how many hairs are on your head, but also being responsible for when each one falls out. (Vox believes this is a non-Biblical concept.)

Lots of fun, learning new words.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Roget's defines veridical as:

1. Conforming to fact: accurate, correct, exact, faithful, precise, right, rigorous, true, veracious. See CORRECT, HONEST, REAL, TRUE. 2. Consistently telling the truth: truthful, veracious. See TRUE

This was one of the words used in the Woody Allen film, "Anything Else".

The other day I got an email from a friend who said, "Though your extreme honesty is sometimes a shock to my system, it's mostly refreshing and often admirable."

I'm afraid my friend isn't claiming that I'm veridical; I'm afraid she's claiming that I tend to open my mouth when perhaps I should keep it closed. Still, I think I'll follow Homer Simpson's example when he got stuck in a doggie door and bemoaned, "Oh, why did I have to be so voluptuous?"

Oh, why must I always be so veridical?

Paradise Found

I mentioned watching recently the Woody Allen movie "Anything Else". In it, Woody's character, Dobel, says something to the effect of "I believe it was Camus who said that women are all we're ever going to know of paradise on earth." I've been unable to find this quote by Camus, but this site purports to record this line as part of the movie's transcript.

I found this line interesting because months ago I wrote to a friend that "Women are my favorite thing in the whole wild world (cupcakes are nothing, nothing, in comparison)."

I just wanted to take this moment to publicly state that I believe the quote above speaks truth: you women, as inscrutable as you often are, are a magnificent gift.

On another topic mentioned previously, a word used in that film with which I was unfamiliar was "amphigories". This word refers to meaningless writing, particularly nonsensical verse. The old song, "I'm My Own Grampa", would probably qualify as an amphigory.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Merrium-Webster's Online Dictionary ( http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=hebetudinous) found hebetudinous for me. It means lethargy or dullness.

My life is somewhat hebetudinous. What can I say? I'm a couch potato.

The Second Adam

I woke up this morning with a thought.

As per the idea that Jesus was resurrected without any clothes handy (see Streaking Through the Garden), I realized that the First Adam had no need of clothes in the Garden, before Sin came into the world, and now the Second Adam had no need of clothes in the Garden, after Sin had been dealt with.

Interesting ....

Lucy!! Ju got some 'splainin' to do!

Someone please explain to me why I have to blog the most boring details of my life . . .

Today I played chauffeur for Mom, Dad, and Dad's sister, Leta. I drove them to Lipan, where lives Mom's sister, Billie, and Billie's two sons Lane and Jerry, with their respective families. I visited with Lane a few minutes, then Dad and Leta and I went on, leaving Mom at Billie's; they were going to join up with their third sister, Jewel, and spend some time together.

Dad and Leta and I went on to Granbury. Granbury High School, from whence Dad graduated in 1947, was having a multi-class reunion, and Dad wanted to stop in and speak to some of his friends. He didn't have time to stay for the whole thing, as we had a trip to Fort Worth planned, but he did get in a few minutes of visiting. Before going to the reunion, he had me drive to the private house of one of his class-mates who is stuck at home with health issues (connected to an O2 tank, etc) so he could visit with him briefly. Dad later talked to this man's wife at the reunion, and told her he had stopped, and she was very glad for that, saying that he needed that visit. When Dad told us about this later, Leta mentioned that maybe a few others had stopped in likewise, but I think we all doubted that. Dad gave voice to that doubt, and said something to the effect of "People tend to be wrapped up in their own little capsules." Just before he said that, I was thinking that his actions served as an example to me, and that I spend way too little time thinking about other people; once he said that, it struck me that, yes, I'm in my own little capsule. "Self-contained" is the way I've expressed it before.

On the one hand, self-containment is good, as it means I'm not draining those around me by being needy towards them (well, except to my friends whom I need to send long, rambling emails to); on the other, so much of Christianity is supposed to be about looking out for the other person's benefit. I'm a horrible failure at that. It was good to get this reminder today. (Not that it'll make a difference, sadly, I'm afraid.)

After leaving Granbury, we went on to Fort Worth. The traffic was not bad, as FW traffic goes, but wow! I sure don't miss it.

We did a quick drive-by of Mom and Dad's old house. Other than a new privacy fence having been erected all around, it looked pretty much the same.

Then we went on to the nursing home where Dad's mom is. She's 103 and six months. She doesn't know a lot any more, but she recognizes and knows me every time I go. I kindda wish I would've had my guitar, and would've been able to just plink a bit while sitting next to her. But, in hindsight, it wouldn't have done any good, as she's only slightly less deaf than a post.

She complained about "what a hell" she's living in. I told her that yes, it's bad; that's just the way things are sometimes, but that it's temporary, and it'll get better. She asked how it'll get better, and as I held her hand, I told her that Jesus would give her a new body, and she'd be young, and strong, and vibrant. I have no idea how much of the message she heard, how much she'd comprehend, or how much she'd believe. But I think she could at least tell that I was making human contact with her; she glistened up in her eyes, but later Dad asked if she had teared up when I left (a minute or two after they had already left the room), so I reckon that's a normal response for her, and probably doesn't mean anything. Still, I'm glad I've been able to visit her a few times since she's gone into the home. I wish I could provide more of what she needed (just having a family member nearby, etc).

Speaking of nursing homes, Nesa's mom, Cherry, has deteriorated significantly in the past two days. She's been moved into the hospice wing, and the folks there are giving her a few days up to a few weeks.

I so look forward to when we can really understand, no, when we can SEE, the truth of the phrase, "Oh Death, where is your sting?"

From the nursing home, we went to KFC (a fast-food chicken eatery here in the States, formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken), where we met my sister Candy for lunch. Candy lives there in Fort Worth.

So it was good to see Grannie, and it was good to see Candy.

Then we headed back to Lipan, where we picked up Mom, then back to Abilene.

And that pretty much was my day.

New Words

I just watched the Woody Allen film "Anything Else", with Christina Ricci. I don't think I've ever watched a Woody Allen film that I really liked. They're all just, anh, okay.

And I've always wanted to like Christina Ricci. I fell in love with her as Wednesday Addams in the first Addams Family movie; she was so ... dark, in a comedic sort of way. I loved her line, "Are these Girl Scout cookies made from real Girl Scouts?" (perhaps not exact; I'm going on memory and I've only seen it once, and that a long time ago). And sometimes I do like her, such as in "Pumpkinhead". But usually, she's just a little, um, trampy, or something. And I suspect she's that way in real life. It's really sad. I wonder how many child stars in Hollywood wind up burning up their lives by the time they're twenty. Take Mary Kate and Ashley for example, or even Hillary Duff. Sigh.

Anyway, back to "Anything Else". Like I've said, the movie was okay, but I really enjoyed all the new words that Woody Allen's character used. I was stunned to hear so many words I did not know. I'll be looking them up in the next couple of days, and plan to use them in my next few blogs.

Or maybe not; I just tried looking up the first word, hebetudinous, in http://www.dict.org, and came up empty. Perhaps I'm misspelling it, or perhaps it's a made-up word. Oh, well, I'll try harder when it's not so late.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Streaking Through the Garden

When Jesus was crucified, he was presumably naked, or nearly so, as his clothes were divided amongst others (Matt 27:35). His body was taken down and wrapped in a clean linen cloth (Matt 27:59).

After his resurrection, the disciples went to the tomb, and saw the linen and the head piece laying there in the tomb (John 20:6-7).

Was Jesus running around the garden naked?

Did he take clothes from elsewhere (another dead body? a clothesline? one of the unconscious soldiers?)

Did he miraculously create clothing?

Did he "appear" to be wearing clothing?

I tend to favor this last item, as he was able to appear in a different form to the disciples walking to Emmaus, and he was able to pass through solid walls (indicating that his physical, raised, human body was not bound by physical constraints as ours are (and we shall be like him (1 John 3:2)! Woot!). So basically, he could think tux, or he could think jeans and a t-shirt.

I don't suppose this is terribly important, but I just found it interesting to realize that Jesus probably didn't have any clothes handy when he rose from the dead.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blog, huh?

Jonesy tells me I should quit spamming him and my other friends/family with all my rambling emails, and blog my ramblings instead.

(That's not actually what he said, but it's close enough to make him look unkind, and a great guy like him needs to be smeared a little every once in a while. He actually was trying to be helpful, not get me to quit spamming him.)

So I'm going to take this under consideration, and perhaps post more often here.