Thursday, August 17, 2017

Timeless Truths: Who, Me? or A Fish, a Worm, and a Wrong Direction - Baccalaureate 1984

This is number 2 in the series of 5 baccalaureate blog posts.
Originally presented June 10, 1984
Program Cover
My name is Charles Downing. I teach Biology at Monte Vista. I am probably best known for the pig dissection I direct and the pig collection I have. No, I am sorry, but I did not bring any sample specimens to cut up today.

Being asked to speak before ANY group brings both a privilege and responsibility. It is my privilege to bring this address today. More of a privilege than in other years because there are some of you 0ut there, well, ONE anyway, that I have known for at least 10 years. There is a great responsibility I feel, also. There are so many things I would like for you all to hear.

I was a co-advisor for the Class of '84 for a couple of years. I have worked closely with several of you. I have had many of you in class as students. 

I hope you liked my advising (at least some part of it), and I hope that you liked Biology. Whatever the case in the previous two instances, it is my sincere prayer that today you will receive something you can look back on as a positive force in your life. 

But, enough of this maudlin—English vocab word—sentimentality.

As you looked at the program for today, you might have wondered about the titles of the address I am giving. The reason it has two titles is that I used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle. On that show there were Professor Peabody's History Lessons, Fractured Fairy Tales, oh, just lots of good things. Anyway, many of these features had dual titles that might or might not have had any relationship to each other or the story. THAT is why the title is like it is—I mean in two parts.

The title is WHAT it is because of the subject matter. Pretty profound, huh? Today, I’ll be talking about JONAH. He is the WHO in the "who me?" Other members of the cast in today's story include his FISH, his WORM, and his WRONG CHOICE or—maybe choices. But, enough of this explanation, let's get on with the program.


Here we have a plain old book cover from school. (Hold up the cover and show both sides.) Now I will fold it in half and lay it on the table. (Fold the cover· and place it on the table.)

I also have three cards. I’ll need your help with the colors. (Point out each card and have the audience call out the colors.) 



Very good.

I am going to place the card inside the folded book cover. (Push the cards into a neat stack and place them inside the cover.)

We will be back to these cards later.
Unfortunately, I don’t have this trick any longer. The “new” version I can find on line won’t support this use. I can’t even find a video of the old school version. Therefore, I offer you an alternative.

Jonah’s Poetic Diary

Dear Diary:
I heard God talk to me today.
I didn’t like what he had to say.
Go and preach? No way!
I think I’m going to run away!

Dear Diary:
I found a boat to ride the sea.
Tarshish is the place I want to be.
No Ninevah in plans for me!
I’ll sail away across the sea!

Dear Diary:
This boat’s a joke. The sailors reek.
If it gets more stormy, it’s going to leak.
I think I’ll nap, no need to peek.
I’m going to go and go to sleep.

Dear Diary:
The sailors were so scared, they woke me.
They think a god is going crazy.
I told them it was my fault, probably;
They begged God, they all did plea.

Dear Diary:
Finally, they tossed me in
The sea with foam and froth and wind.
A fish God sent to reel me in.
And now I find myself within.

Dear Diary:
I write this from inside a fish,
A place I never thought I’d wish
To be. But here I am without a dish
Eating who stuff indigestible to a fish.

Dear Diary:
It’s been three days. I really smell.
I know these fish guts really well.
I never thought I pray until
I pray just to see a window sill.

Dear Diary:
The guts are dark. The guts are dank
They threw me in. I sank and sank.
The fish swallowed me, like in a goldfish tank.
Wait! Now he’s puked me on the bank!

Dear Diary:
In Ninevah, for God I preached.
I walked and preached and preached and preached.
Three days and finally I reached
The end of Ninevah’s city streets.

Dear Diary:
God spared those Ninevian folks.
I kid you not! This is no joke.
It seems the King’s a sensible bloke,
“Repent! We’re fools!” were words he spoke.

Dear Diary:
So I did my job, and now I’m done.
My work is Ninevah wasn’t fun.
God showed His mercy’s number one
And I am baking in the sun.

Dear Diary:
The plant I chose to shade my head
A worm came and ate, so now it’s dead.
It’s so awfully hot, I could bake bread
I think I’ll pout and leave instead.

(Now back to the original . . . )

         1.   Jonah sleeps through the storm (See also Matt 8: 23-27)
Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 
The disciples went and woke him saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Jonah’s story has several parallels with episodes of the life of Christ. This is one of those parallels. The outcome of the episode recorded above is drastically different than the Jonah version.

We’ll finish this sermonette next week.

Next Timeless Truths: Who, Me? or A Fish, a Worm, and a Wrong Direction - Baccalaureate 1984 (Conclusion)

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thoughts on Hebrews Study Questions from 8/13


My Sunday School Life Group is studying Hebrews. Every Monday, I post questions that were discussed the day before in Sunday School. I invite you to ponder/think about them and jot down your thoughts.

On Wednesdays, I post some of the ideas that came up in the Life Group's discussion for you to consider and compare with your thoughts.  

Make yourself comfortable, this is most likely going to be a year-long experience.

These questions were discussed in my Life Group yesterday. Take time to reflect on them. I'll post thoughts from the class discussion on We

Chapter 5
Vv 1-10

V3. Oops! What do we find out about human High Priests in this verse?

  • They are sinners, too. 
  • They have no choice but to offer sacrifices for themselves and the people. 
  • They are subject to weakness.

Not really in verse 3, but . . . Human High Priests were called by God. Human High Priests were descendants of Aaron.

How did Christ become “High Priest?”

He was appointed by God. He was God's Son. 

What does the quote of Psalms 2:7 mean?

Oddly, all I have written is "quote all of Psalm 2:7." Here it is
 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (KJV) because of what follows. I know we said something, but I can't find it so, here's John Wesley's commentary on this verse:
[7] I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
The decree — The will and appointment of God concerning this.
My sin — Which tho' it may in some sort be said to, or of David, yet much more properly belongs to Christ, who is commonly known by this title both in the Old and New Testament, and to whom this title is expressly appropriated by the holy ghost, who is the best interpreter of his own words, Acts 13:33Hebrews 1:5.
This day — This may be understood either, 1. Of his eternal generation. This day, from all eternity, which is well described by this day, because in eternity there is no succession, no [yesterday,] no [tomorrow,] but it is all as one continued day or moment without change or flux; or, 2. Of the manifestation of Christ's eternal son-ship in time; which was done both in his birth and life, when his being the son of God was demonstrated by the testimony of the angel, Luke 1:32, and of God the Father, Matthew 3:1717:5, and by his own words and works; and in his resurrection, which seems to be here mainly intended, of which day this very place is expounded, Acts 13:33. When Christ was in a most solemn manner declared to be the son of God with power, Romans 1:4.

Genesis 14:11-20 provides some of Melchizedek’s background. Just who was he? How is that relevant? 
More on Mel in Ch 7.
We'll explore Mel much deeper in Ch 7. Here's a photo of the main thoughts for this week. I was tough on them and made them stick to just this chapter's reference.

He met Abraham as King of Salem (Jerusalem in Christ's time) and Priest of "God Most High."
He was the first High Priest.
The bread and wine he offers Abraham is a preview of communion.
While some claim that Melchizedek is Jesus before His incarnation, that's not supported by the text. (
As a "type of Christ" (see early discussions in Hebrews for what "type" means),  Melchizedek represented God/The Messiah.

Why did Jesus have to pray? 

  • Because God was the only one that could save Him from the cross. 
  • Communication with the Father as the Son--that's us, too! 
  • He wanted to pray. Psalm 22:1-3 (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
  • He needed to know that God heard Him.

If He didn’t have to pray, why did He?

  • He prayed in Gethsemane because, as a Jew, He didn't want to die a Gentile's death--on a cross. 
  • Jesus' human side wanted to converse with God. 
  • To give credit to the Father. 

We stopped here this week.

If you'd like a PDF of the pages of questions in table form with room for you to write answers, email me at 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Authors, et. al. Why nominate my book for publication through kindlescout?

Current iteration of the "full cover" for when the book becomes "Patterns on Pages."

Nearly two years ago, I learned about the kindlescout program. It was just what I was looking for.

If you don’t know about this Amazon program, this is from The highlights are mine.

You give:
·  An opportunity to consider your book for publication during a 45-day exclusivity period, starting as soon as you submit to Kindle Scout. You also give us the right to display an excerpt of your manuscript, your name and photo, and other materials you submit to us on the Kindle Scout site and distribute your work in order to solicit feedback.
·  If your book is selected for publication by Kindle Press, we'll have the exclusive worldwide right to publish it in eBook and audio formats, in all languages, for a term beginning on the selection date and auto-renewing every five years. If you do not earn at least $25,000 during any 5-year term, you'll have six months after the end of that 5-year period in which you can choose to stop publishing with us and request your rights back.
You get:
·  An opportunity to get paid for your writing. We're looking for never-before-published books of about 50,000 words or more. If we select your book for publication, you will be entitled to a $1,500 advance and royalties on net revenues at a rate of 50% for eBooks, 25% for audio editions and 20% for translations.
·  If your book is selected for publication by Kindle Press and you later want to stop publishing with us, you'll be able to get your rights back in a variety of circumstances.

Unfortunately, I did not have a book ready for publication at that time.

Today, I have a book ready for publication. It's not just "another" book.

Patterns on Pages – Secrets of the Sequenced Symbols – Traveler’s HOT L – Volume 4 is a story about disaster, aliens, curious young people, great teachers, more aliens, and books. BTW, Thomas Jefferson makes a cameo appearance.

  • The book is well-written. Solid plot, novel approach, edited appropriately, and proofed by many eyes. 
  • The story is compelling. Disaster strikes Earth. Humanity teeters on extinction. Aliens recruit two illiterates from the far future and two teachers from the present day. Together, future humans, teachers, and aliens . . .  You really didn't think I was going to give away the ending, did you? 
  • The characters are relatable and consistent
  • Readers from middle schoolers to seniors in life will enjoy it. If it was a movie, it would be "Rated G." Well, by the time Hollywood finished, it would probably be PG-13 for the way they'd computer enhance the disaster scenes.
  • It's a quality story that doesn't include profanity, suggestive dialog or situations, or inappropriate gratuitous violence.
  • It's a book worthy of publication. 

Until September 10, 2017, Patterns on Pages is in the 45-day exclusive period mentioned above. That time period ends on September 9th.

Part of the selection process is garnering “nominations” of your book. No one but the author (and Amazon) knows how many page views a book gets. Even the author doesn't know the actual number of nominations.

I’d hoped for 50-100 nominations per day. For days 1-3, Patterns garnered a total of 127 page views.

Below expectations.

If you were a student or colleague of mine—and possibly if we’ve been friends for any length of time--you know I like controlled situations. I’m not a control freak. Some of you are rolling your eyes at that sentence, but it’s true. I like to be in control, but I can survive—for awhile—in situations that afford me less than my optimum control level.

If you were a student of mine, you remember times when what I said, or what we did seemed unrelated to any science at all. That may have seemed out of control.

It wasn’t.

When I first started teaching, there were many half-hour long TV shows. After the opening credits, there was a commercial break, 12-14 minutes of the show, a commercial break, 12-14 minutes of the show, and closing credits.

It was soon clear that the attention spans of my students were 12-14 minutes long. I might be able to push to twenty minutes on occasion, but students performed better when breaks more closely aligned with TV schedules.

I might tell a story or joke. I might do some “voice” to emphasize a point. There were other tricks, but those were my top two. After the “commercial,” “the show” resumed. Just like on TV.

I know for a fact that I had students who paid attention to the science I taught because they didn’t want to miss a witticism. They learned science while waiting for stories and jokes. 

Oh, yeah, and I got to do what I love in a way that helped students learn and enjoy every year.

What’s that got to do with kindlescout?

I’m glad you asked.

I have no control over whether this book is chosen by Amazon.
I had all the control over the book: Title. Cover. Manuscript.
Once I submitted the book, control passed to Amazon . . .


Ultimately, you—the reader/nominator—have at least as much control as the author in this process.

My book hasn’t got a prayer of earning one of Amazon’s publication slots unless people nominate it.
Bottom line:
I need your help.

Writing that sentence was one of the most difficult writing I've ever done. 

I haven't given control away often.
I give control to you.

I’ve authored or co-authored 11 published books. I’ve invested thousands of dollars in those books. My royalties are not thousands of dollars. This is an opportunity to balance the ledger. 

More importantly, it's an opportunity for you to have a say in the kind of books that are published.

Since Patterns is Volume 4 in the Traveler’s HOT L series, there is potential for readers to read the predecessors to see what they missed. Since the original Traveler’s HOT L was
I’m hoping they do check out my other books.

If you’ve already nominated Patterns, bless you. If you’re going to nominate Pattens, bless you. If you haven’t decided, please nominate Patterns.

It’s easy to nominate. 
You must have an Amazon account to nominate.

Follow the steps below after logging in at
Click the turquoise  box!

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