Talkin’ about the Weather

I wonder how many people can hold a conversation without saying something about the weather.

And why not? It’s something that’s with us constantly. We can’t get away from it, although when we’re snug inside our homes during winter or enjoying the air conditioning in summer, we can pretend the weather isn’t affecting us.

I’ll never forget Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the effect it had on us personally. Like thousands of other Virginians, we were without electricity for almost two weeks. We visited Winn’s Baptist Church that Sunday because we’d heard they were holding a service even without power. Uh, without electrical power, that is.

But it was a spiritually powerful service, and we were really impressed at the end when Pastor Brauer asked people to divide up accordingly:

  • Those having power and willing to let people come take showers
  • Those having chain saws who would be willing to help remove problem trees

Then he told the people who needed take a shower or have a tree removed to go meet with one of those groups and get help.

Kathleen and I didn’t belong to Winn’s yet, and we didn’t realize how much longer we’d be without power, but the church was filled with such a loving spirit that I’m sure we would’ve felt comfortable asking for help.

We definitely couldn’t get away from the effects of the weather those two weeks. Probably every conversation included a lengthy discussion of Isabel.

When I was young(er), I used to say I preferred cold weather. When it’s cold, you can always put more clothes on, but when it’s hot you can’t legally take but so many clothes off, and even then you might still be too hot.

Now that I’m old(er), I find cold weather to be more debilitating. I don’t know why unless it’s just an age-related problem.

Yesterday we enjoyed a temporary heat wave–mid-thirties Fahrenheit, but it’s twenty degrees right now and only going to the mid-twenties. Even though we have heat tape on the pipes, we don’t trust it, so that means leaving a tiny bit of water dripping to keep the pipes from freezing.

See what I mean? I couldn’t even post a “normal blog post” today. I was so weather-conscious that I couldn’t keep from talking about it.

What’s your weather like? Do you have any particular preferences or dislikes regarding the weather? How about leaving a comment.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

 

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

Advertisements

Almost You’re Smiling

Since tomorrow is Christmas Day, I wanted to share one of my original songs with you. A Youtube video of me singing “Almost You’re Smiling” can be seen here.  A free lead sheet is available here.

If you’re like me, you’ve often wished you had been around two thousand years ago to witness Jesus’s life and ministry in person. But wishing doesn’t change the fact we were born two millennia too late.

Rather than fret about it, let’s imagine we were among the shepherds who saw and listened to the angels’ spectacular announcement of Jesus’s birth–no Super Bowl commercials could come close to matching it!–and have come to the stable, where we’re looking at Jesus as a newborn.

Hmm. No matter how special the angels said He was, He looks pretty much like any other baby, doesn’t He? Or does He look a little bit more peaceful than a regular baby as he lies there sleeping?

He opens His eyes. He appears to look first at you and then at me. Strange. Newborns aren’t able to focus that way, are they? More amazing still, He appears to be deep in thought. But babies can’t think yet; thought requires a knowledge of language, something  babies aren’t born with.

Of course, we know He’s both human and divine. So isn’t it possible He can observe things a normal baby can’t observe? And think or feel things babies shouldn’t be able to think or feel?  Alas, the Bible doesn’t tell us.

I speak to baby Jesus, aware that He shouldn’t be able to understand me. Yet He appears to be listening to my words. Perhaps even comprehending them. As if He might truly be more than just an ordinary baby. After all, fully human and fully divine is a strange and powerful combination. Not to mention a unique one.

Yes, Jesus is unique. Even so, I’m certain He won’t be able to answer my questions or comment about my observations. But I’ll ask and comment anyway.

“Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.
Can it be You feel the coldness of the world You’ve come to?
Do You somehow miss the warmth You’ve left at home in Heaven?
Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?

Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.
Can it be You feel the joy of those who wait Your coming?
Do You somehow know what hope You’ve brought to earth from Heaven?
Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?”

I don’t know how Jesus differed from ordinary babies while–at the same time–still being quite ordinary. It doesn’t  matter. Even as a baby, He deserved and deserves my praise and adoration–during the whole year. Not just at Christmas.

Please share a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

Why? Why? Why?

Guest post by James N. Watkins

If you have children,nieces and nephews, or younger siblings, you know that a three-year-old’s favorite word is why.

“Johnny, hold my hand while we cross the street.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to run out in front of a car.”

“Why?”

“Because if a car hits you, you’ll be hurt or killed.”

“Why?”

“Because if it’s a contest between a thirty-five-pound boy and a three-ton SUV, the truck is going to win every time.”

“Why?”

“Because the laws of physics state that mass plus momentum equals . . . Just take my hand!”

And on itgoes-right into adulthood!

“Why didn’t God heal my friend?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why do I still have acne at 50?”

I’ve worked up way too much spiritual perspiration trying to answer why my second-grade Sunday school teacher committed suicide, why I was laid off from the perfect job in publishing—twice—or why bad things happen to such good people as you and me.

I have learned that while why is often a futile question, God is more than willing to answer other questions. But, like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are in the form of a question.

What can I know?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

So, while I’ve struggled with hundreds—probably thousands—of questions about God’s workings, I have grown in my knowledge of who he is. While agonizing about an estranged relationship, I burst into tears—for God. I had described to a friend my pain: “It feels like my heart has been cut out with a chainsaw, run over by a logging truck, and then fed through a wood chipper.” If I was feeling this excruciating pain for one broken relationship, how was God feeling about billions of heartaches? It was one of the few times I actually felt I understood God.

I can also find the answer to . . .

How can I grow?

I’ve always leaned into Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

But what is that “purpose”? The very next verse answers: “To be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). So do other verses:

“And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1).

That’s our purpose! So ask, how can I grow more like Christ through this difficult time.

Who can I show?

Second Corinthians 1:3-6 has become one of my favorite passages in encouraging me while I’m going through terrible times:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (NLT).

The Greek word translated comfort isparaklesisIt is a calling near, summons for help; a prayer, a plea; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace, refreshment; or a persuasive speech, motivational talk, instruction. And it’s feminine case. No one comforts like a mother.

We offer our best comfort to those experiencing what we have personally gone through.

So, sorry, we can’t always answer the why questions, but we can answer these three.

Condensed from The Psalms of Asaph: Struggling with Unanswered Prayer, Unfulfilled Promises, and Unpunished Evil by James N. Watkins. Browse and buy at jameswatkins.com/asaph/

 

I want to thank Jim Watkins for that guest post. I look forward to reading his book.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

        

Links you might be interested in:

 

The Newest “Pet” — Revisited

A year-and-a-half ago, I published “The Newest ‘Pet'” included below. We still love our Roomba. No complaints whatsoever, and lots of praise.

I recently received a message from someone who had read the original blog post and offered me a link to an online review of robot vacuum cleaners. It was a great review, and the study seemed to have been conducted sufficiently scientifically to be accurate and worthwhile.

I won’t try to summarize it–I couldn’t do it justice–but the link is here. If you’re considering a robot vacuum cleaner–or simply want to see how yours stacks up against the competition–you’ll find the review to be informative and well done.

Reading my original blog post is optional. *G*

 

Roomba   Roomba2

My wife and I recently spent a wonderful week with my daughter and her family in Florida. This was an exciting time for all of us. They have a new baby (their second child), a new house (their first), and an actual bed for us to sleep in rather than an air mattress on the living room floor. Oh, and did I mention that the new house, like so many in that part of Florida, has a pool?

But they had something else that caught my attention.

I was sitting in the living room working on email when I heard a low roaring sound coming from another room. When I glanced beyond the doorway, I spotted a thirteen-inch (diameter) round gadget moving from place to place on the floor. At one time it moved directly along the base of a wall. At other times it moved away diagonally and sometimes at a ninety-degree angle towards the other side of the room.

Although it seemed to be happy with the bare floor, it soon took an interest in the dining room, which is carpeted. Here’s a video I took in the hallway.

What in the world was this crazy spinning gadget? It obviously was NOT one of Robert Austin’s (the four-year-old) toys, but it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

Hmm. This critter seemed to be eating dirt off the floor and carpet. A vacuum cleaner? A human-less vacuum cleaner? So it appeared to be.

I grabbed the camcorder and followed it around for a minute or two, occasionally moving out of its unpredictable path. When I got brave enough, I remained in its way one time to see what it would do.

When this robot vacuum cleaner determined that it couldn’t climb over my shoe, it worked its way around it. I could only shake my head in amazement. I’d heard of robot vacuum cleaners, but had never believed they could possibly be worth the investment.

You have to understand that I’m the guy who went to Target and bought the next-to-the-least expensive human-operated vacuum there and faithfully uses it once every two to three weeks, whether the carpet needs it or not.

Uh, I must be honest here. It always needs it.

Our week-long visit gave me plenty of chances to observe my daughter’s robot cleaner. She had it on a day-and-time schedule; I believe it ran every day. I wouldn’t be surprised, since I never saw one speck of dirt on floor or carpet during our visit. And that’s in a house with a four-year-old!

Oh, and did I mention that this little critter is smart enough to know when it’s finished and return to its charger base? The thing also has enough sense to back onto its base.

Boy, did that get me thinking. It normally takes me about an hour to vacuum our place. And that’s not counting cleaning the filter and emptying the whatever-you-call-it-where-the-dirt-goes-when-a-vacuum-is-bagless.

My wife and I discuss even some small purchases, and a robot like this–not the highest priced Roomba–would need a LOT of discussion. But I sowed the seed by showing great interest in the robot and complaining about my inability–okay, my unwillingness–to keep up with vacuuming as much as it’s needed.

When we got home, we barely talked about it. But by the end of the week we’d determined that the line item we have in the budget for home-related stuff could cover that purchase. Especially since we had a 20% Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon that could be used on this model. (It specifically excluded the more expensive models.)

I’m not sure why my wife was so agreeable to the purchase. Maybe she was just tired of waiting for me to vacuum. No matter what her motivation, however, I think she’s as thrilled with our new “pet” as I am.

Has some type of gadget attracted you so much that you considered getting it, even though it wasn’t an absolute necessity? Or are you still trying to justify such a purchase? How about sharing?

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

        

Links you might be interested in:

 

A Perspective on History

When I was a kid, I sometimes played Civil War in the marshy area near my home. I’d lived in Virginia and North Carolina all but the first few months of my life, so of course I pretended to be a Confederate soldier. What else could I have been? Certainly not a Yankee!

I suppose I should be embarrassed about those memories. But at least I never would’ve approved of slavery or the mistreatment of any group of people. Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always done my best to view (and treat) everyone equally, and I’ve liked or disliked specific people for who they are as individuals, not what group they’re a part of.

America is suffering enough diverseness without glorifying  the tragic conflict between the North and the South.  No Confederate flags on my car or my house. Even though I have some genuine Confederate money, it’s in a drawer somewhere. Out of sight because it’s not relevant to my outlook .

Nonetheless, history is still history. Removing or destroying statues related to the War Between the States doesn’t change history or make the bad from the past go away. Not anymore than doing away with a Holocaust museum would bring back the millions of Jews Hitler put to death.

I’m thankful that Richmond’s Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are still in place. And intact. When I look at them again, as I did a couple of weeks ago, I think only of the fact that those men stood for what they believed was right. Not because I agree with them.

The Civil War happened, and it needs to be remembered. Perhaps memories of that event will help to prevent a future civil war.

I’m especially pleased that Richmond’s Museum of the Confederacy is now the Civil War Museum . I think that change helps to put history into a more realistic perspective without making any effort to alter or to glorify it.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

 

         

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

A Challenging Thought

As the son of a Baptist minister, I grew up knowing and believing in God, and I always believed in Jesus’s divinity.

I’ll never forget something I used to think about during my childhood. Something so unanswerable that it never failed to challenge and boost my childish faith. I don’t recall when or how I started thinking about this, but my thought went something like this:

God is everywhere, and He’s made everything–the world and everything in it. He’s eternal. He has no beginning and no end. But where did God come from? Who made God? How can He have just always been? Nothing can come from nothing.

Some children–and many adults–would probably use a thought like that to dismiss the possibility of the existence of God.

Not me, though. No matter what a puzzle that was–an unanswerable question, an unsolvable mystery–that simply made me appreciate God all the more.

I’ve since read a little book called Your God Is Too Small.  Not my God, though. He was and still is too big for me to begin to understand. How could I worship Him if He was comprehensible to mere human beings?

 Now that I’m older–seventy-one–I find myself enjoying that childhood puzzle all over again. Now, however, I also ask a similar question about the Big Bang theory: how can something like our universe and everything in it have come from nothing unless a Greater Power–the God of the Universe–was responsible?

Impossible!

The last few years have brought a new thought to mind, one I’d love to write a novel about but which I know I’m incapable of doing justice to. Just writing it would require greater knowledge than any human being has been blessed with.

What if our world–the whole universe as we know it–exists within the mind of God? What if He created us in His infinitely creative and loving mind rather than as actual beings in what in God’s world would be physical?

Weird thought? Perhaps.

Do I believe it? No matter how much sense it makes to me–having the history of the world unfold within God’s thoughts rather than in what we think of as the world–I can’t say that I actually believe it.

Nonetheless, that’s one way of looking at Him as not being too small. And being infinitely bigger than I can imagine.

If thoughts like those help me to appreciate God more, then I’ll continue to enjoy them. He’s worthy of my best thoughts–my biggest thoughts–no matter how unconventional.

Please leave a comment.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

                

Links you might be interested in:

 

Decorations – Now or Ever?

I don’t know what the stores are like where you live, but the ones at the mall down the road from us started decorating for Christmas before Halloween.

And not just decorating. Penny’s has a number of Christmas-themed products occupying prominent places on major aisles. Presents for pets. Santa-themed sleepwear. You name it, they’ve probably got it.

          

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked at seeing the decorating starting so early. Not when it’s been this way longer than I can remember.

The decorating is really ramping up now. The mall has placed two trees at the ends of mostly empty hallways. Soon they’ll hang the huge fresh-looking wreaths that require special equipment to reach high enough to put them in place. Santa’s chair and the related setting just appeared a day or two ago.

With “Black Friday” coming this week, I can understand the need to get everything ready for all the Christmas shoppers. This is the one time of year our mall doesn’t look dead.

I can recall helping decorate the Christmas tree when I was still living at home. My parents were very particular. I wasn’t to simply throw the icicles over the branches, but to drape them carefully, one by one. How tedious!

But also how effective. The extra care showed.

And that was in the days when the Christmas tree lights were a real pain. Some of you may recall the times when a strand wouldn’t light if one bulb had burned out. Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I’m not interested in doing much decorating now. Fortunately, neither is my wife.

Back when we had two cats–even when we got down to one–there was no way to safely have a Christmas tree on the floor. So we downsized from a nice pre-decorated tree to one we could put on the dining room table. We tried a Norfolk Island pine several years, but since we always managed to kill them eventually, we switched to a reusable tabletop-sized artificial tree.

It got in the way. Too many presents, I suppose. So now we don’t have  a tree at all. Kathleen puts up a few decorations every year, but nothing elaborate.

People might accuse us of being Scrooges, but I say, “Bah! Humbug!” to that accusation.

Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. That’s the only thing that matters. And we don’t need decorations to do that.

Besides that, nothing can ever begin to match the original Bethlehem star.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in: