Friday, February 26, 2016

Expressions of Faith: Personalization

Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
(Colossians 4:17 NIV)


I wouldn't want to hear this addressed to my name in a letter from Paul.

Who knows what Arch wasn't doing that he had been?

Maybe he just stopped doing his ministry.

What would Paul write about my/your ministry in a letter to the city in which we live?

It is fitting that this is the last Expressions of Faith post from Colossians. For the next while, we'll explore some of what Peter had to say in his first letter.

Next Friday's Expression of Faith Series: Chosen
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Timeless Truths: What Christians believe about… #1-The Bible (Part 1)

7. What Christians believe about… #1-The Bible (Part 1)
February 25, 2016
All Scripture quotations are from the NIV.

14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15) and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,17) so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

If you grew up attending church, you probably have more than one Bible. You’ve also more than likely heard the Bible described as:
  • rules to follow
  • an/the Answer book
  • encyclopedia or history book
  • science book
  • roadmap for life
  • owner’s manual

While some of these descriptive terms work well at times, they often lead to the Christian defending God’s Word in ways that alienate the listener.

So, what’s the answer? What’s the real description of the Bible?
The Bible is a conversation between God and humanity.

The Bible describes itself in several places. Some include a mental picture.
  • Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalms 119:105
  • Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
  • For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b]soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 [The Amplified Bible]


a.   In addition to “sword,” the word in Greek was used for the knife used by the priests to slit the throats of the sacrificial lambs and for the knife (scalpel) used by a surgeon.
b.   “soul and spirit” used here to emphasize the whole person, not two separate entities as in other passages.
The Bible is alive because of what it does in our lives. The power comes from the authority we give it. It is life-changing for all generations.

Other descriptions don’t require a mental picture.
Jesus prays for His disciples in John 17, that God would Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth. (v15). You can’t have a true relationship with God without truth—the Scriptures.

Next week we’ll look deeper into this topic.

Thanks to Rev. Scott Peterson for the central teachings used in this blog.

Next Thursday's Timeless Truths Series: What Christians believe about… #2-The Church
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Monday, February 22, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac #18. Year 2. A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 2

A Science Guy’s Almanac #18. Year 2. February 22, 2016
A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 2

When last we left our intrepid hero, that’d be me, I was sent by gurney from the ER to the pediatrics floor. I was only 18, so I qualified as a child chronologically. Just by looking at me, though, I’d have thought someone would have noticed that I was 6’ tall and weighed around 205 pounds. Neither of those dimensions is stereotypically pediatric.

The whole “you’re how old?” thing began early in life. I was the biggest kid, or in the top two, in my class from kindergarten through 6th grade. I had to start shaving in 7th grade because it was against school rules for students to have facial hair.

By the time I graduated from Junior High I was 5’9” tall and weighed 165 pounds. I was also the school record holder in the 100-yard dash and the long jump. Both those records still stand today—52 years later. Of course, they don’t run any races in yards anymore, so that’s safe in perpetuity. Since my record jump was 18’ 1¾”, I’m not all that surprised that it’s still on the board in the boy’s locker room.

Another digression. There are others to come. Now, back to the pediatric ward.

Beds in pediatrics are 6’ long. My head touched the headboard. My feet were at right angles against the footboard. The blanket almost made it to my chin. Since I was on heavy-duty pain meds, none of those were an issue. But, even the largest pediatric hospital gown was an issue.

If you’re familiar with hospital gowns, the adult ones are far from modest. Imagine wearing a hospital gown whose bottom hem ended just about 6” below my navel. I’ll wait while you look down and see what’s 6” below your navel. Modesty was not an option. The gown was also too narrow to meet anywhere along my dorsal surface. The combination of lack of length and lack of horizontal cloth left nothing to the imagination.

I woke up in the miniature hospital space. Just after 7:00 AM a stern-looking nurse entered my room. In an equally stern-sounding voice, she demanded, “What are you doing here?”

I had no answer for that. So, I kept quiet.

“You need to be on the 5th floor in orthopedics.” With that, she tossed me a pediatric robe. “Put that on. I’ll send an orderly in with a wheelchair.”

Once again I ask you to imagine. The pediatric robe was about 2” longer than the pediatric hospital gown. For those of you math-phobes, that put the bottom of the robe 8” below my navel. Hold that thought.

The pediatric wheelchair arrived. It was not quite as wide as my hips. I had to kind of wedge myself into the seat. It was awkward. But there was just enough room for squeezing and crossing of my lower body parts that I managed to make it to the 5th floor without being arrested for indecent exposure.

My arrival in orthopedics solved the wardrobe problem. I was given an adult hospital gown. Hmmm. Perhaps solved is a bit of an exaggeration, the gown being designed as it is. Nonetheless, male body parts that are covered by fig leaves in Roman sculptures but not by pediatric hospital gowns on adult-sized patients were now covered.

I hadn’t been in my new bed more than an hour when I was attached to a medieval torture device. A headgear was placed on my head with a strap beneath my jaw. A second leather strappy-thing was hooked around my hips. Metal cables were attached to both my headgear and my hip-gear. The cables were placed on pulleys. Weights were hooked to each cable.

The experience is known as traction. It’s an attempt to pull the vertebrae apart until the distance between them is restored to factory specifications. At that time, Dr. Laughlin, the Head of Orthopedics, wasn’t sure if one of my lumbar disks was compressed, herniated, or ruptured. The constant pull from the weights on my rack…
Ooops. The Rack was a medieval torture device. Traction is a medical procedure. Toe-may-toe/Tow-mah-tow.

The constant pull on my spine by the weights during traction is designed to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

I got to go on a field trip the afternoon of the first day on the 5th floor. A physical therapist with an adult-sized wheelchair entered the room.

“Time to go down to Physical Therapy,” she announced. After unhooking me from the traction setup, we headed down to the basement for PT.

Once in the basement room, she helped onto a thinly padded table. If you don’t know why I needed a wheelchair and help to climb up on the table, you should go back and read/re-read the face-planting description in Almanac #17. Just sayin’…

“Lay back flat,” she directed. I did.

“The first thing I’m going to check is how the damage is affecting your muscular control.” I nodded.

“Okay, then. I want you to point your toes straight up to the ceiling. I’m going to try and pull your toes down so they’re pointing at me. I want you to prevent me from doing that.”

Give it all you’ve got, I thought. You’re not pulling my toes in any direction.

That sounds overconfident. Remember: I was 18-years old at the time… and invincible! Or so I thought.

In my defense, my legs were strong. I had 24” thighs and 17” calves…

“Let’s start with your good leg.” She grabbed my right foot. “Hold them in place.”

She pulled. I held my toes up. After a few seconds, she stopped pulling. My toes were pointed straight up to the sky!

“Good,” she said.

Of course! I thought.

“Now let’s try the injured one.” She grabbed my left foot. “Hold those toes in place.”

She pulled. I held my toes up.

“No,” she said. “I want you to hold them up like you did with your right foot.”

“I did,” I said.

“Oh… Well, let’s try again.” She pushed my toes back up. “Hold them up.”

This time, I tensed every muscle in my body and willed those left toes to stay up.

She pulled. My toes pointed right at her. I’d watched. That stupid foot had ignored my mental command!

Let’s try something else,” she said. She held up what looked like a pizza-cutter with spines instead of a sharp edge. [I Googled it. It’s called a Wartenberg Wheel.]
The sadistic Wartenberg Wheel!
“I’m going to start at your little toe and run this up your leg. Let me know when you feel any sensation.”
“Okay,” I said.

“I’ll start with your right foot again.” She touched my little toe with the prickly wheel.

“Ouch!” I yelled and pulled my foot back.

“No problems there,” she understated. “Now the left.”

I waited. 

And waited.

“You can start anytime,” I said.

“I’m already past your knee,” she said.

That ended my only Physical Therapy session. 

Snow is now in the extended forecast!
Next Almanac post: A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 3

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Expressions of Faith: Conversation

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(Colossians 4:6 NIV)


Graceful conversation is lacking far too often in our world.

Unfortunately, I am embarrassingly too often part of that problem.

Salty conversation has come to mean laced with foul and profane terms. 

How clever of Satan to change meanings of words like that.

Seasoning, properly used, improves the dish. 

God, please help me to be more graceful in speaking…
and help me to use salt as God intended.

Next Friday's Expression of Faith Series: Personalization
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