24 January 2014

The fine line between wisdom and scorn?

Yep. Check out TODAY 's Daily Devotion

Usually when I need it, my namesake, Jimmy Josephson, comes up with something that I am in need of considering (either him or Sol Davidson or Paul Hoganm├Ącher). It boils down to gittin' too smart for your britches:10   Out of one mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11   Doeth a fountain send forth at one place sweet water and bitter?
12   Can ye fig tree, my brethren, bring forth olives, either a vine figs? so can no fountain make both salt water and sweet.
13 ¶   Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom.
14   But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars against the truth.
15   This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
16   For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works.
17   But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, and without hypocrisy.
18   And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.

(If that sounds strange, it's because lately I have been using The Geneva Bible. It is the last English translation before the "Authorised" Version, aka King James, bestowed on a crown of glory by so many well-intended individuals. I say if you can't read Hebrew and Aramaic, and Koine Greek, then you really can't read the "original" version, so rely on as many sources as possible. Remember, Martin Luther (the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther) got perturbed with the Latin vulgate translated into high German.

But that's an aside. The main point of the Short Daily Devotion today was based on verse 13, translated in the ESV as Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  Going to my go-to The Message: Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. And, my absolute go-to, the NASB: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

I roll on the megachurches, although I must certainly say that through them I am inferring that many souls have been saved. After salvation, though, I wonder where the flock is led by their shepherds, so I tend to rant about some of the biggies. But, as you know, I really like Charles Stanley. What's the difference?

Dr. Chuck is like my dad: he knows so much about everything that it becomes obvious when he merely shares essence with his flock, and then with the world, not caring to show off how smart he is. God knows how smart everyone is; He doesn't care. He cares about what everyone does with the wisdom He has given us. In that regard I consider First Atlanta to be exceptional. My home congregation, Gloria Dei in Urbandale, is a considered a megachurch though not equivalent to Lutheran Church of Hope in numbers. There is a level of personal lost in this church, and although there are myriad activities and "missions" going on, I don't seem them as ultimately fulfilling and rewarding endeavors to the flock or to the community.


Maybe in a fine sense it is. That is why I say the fine line between wisdom and scorn. But God also has been certain to emphasize that He wishes us to be able to discern, and that means it is up to each of us individually to make these decisions.

So, when Daily Devotional writes: "

In what ways have you been overly critical of other Christians, churches, or ministries? What does this tell you about the good you should be doing?"
it strikes home. We are each to do good. I have always relied, again, on James: 1:15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16  and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
and, over all: 1:27  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
I should follow my own practice of interpreting scripture with scripture, though, and in particular read 1:26 -- If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. That does NOT leave anything to imagination or misinterpretation.

I guess, then, that instead of speaking out against megachurches I should be speaking in favor
of good works, regardless of the branch from which they spring. If I "find fault" with a given congregation, what I should really be thinking is that "here is a congregation that does not choose to interpret the Word as I do" or "here is a congregation whose good works aren't easily fulfilled by what I have found to be my God-given talents and my spiritual gifts". And, more than being critical of a congregation, I should find ways, as so many Christian writers have said, of blooming where I have been planted.

08 January 2014

Freezing Poor People

Today I want to think about freezing poor people.

I never really lived in the east - I figure Virginia and Pennsylvania are like Middle Atlantic and above the fall line. I have only ever visited New Jersey and Delaware briefly, spent time eating seafood on the dock in Annapolis (lovely place), and camped at Shenandoah National Park to go into D.C. itself in the summer. I do have the dubious distinction of having slept on the same floor of the Park Central that John Hinckley did. That was a nice hotel, had rooms at the government per diem rate and had a Blackie's Jr. steakhouse in it where a steak dinner and your first beer for free was, in like 1978 or so, only $8.99. But, never having actually lived there, I cannot really imagine how this winter storm is affecting the East Coast.

When I think about that it helps me realize how totally differently people in the major cities live and feel. Living in Evanston was not really the same as living in Chicago by any means. I am sure you spent enough time in DC to understand a bit more about life in the city. This weather is just devastating to many people, I am sure.

The other thing that I come to realize as I contemplate the homeless and the jobless in the cities: here in Iowa, there is more than likely a place to find a roof and a bed on any given day, and there really are jobs available, not glamorous, barely enough money to buy smokes and clothing and a little food, but they are here so 6 months of unemployment payments is probably about right. But in the eastern cities, it's a real challenge to we the people. There is not enough in the "insurance fund", if there ever was, to pay extra unemployment benefits, but if we cannot help these people we are killing them as surely as if we poisoned them, drowned them, or threw them out the 14th floor window of their unheated walkup and likely condemned apartment. Now, we of the "middle class", whatever that is, have always felt taxed to death, although other countries certainly tax at higher rates. Local economy (supply, demand, worth, propensity, all that stuff) adjusts, kinda like in a family 2 people adjust to living with that 3rd little person even though there is really no more money. National economy cannot, from a logical perspective, "adjust", because the nation, as a whole, presents multiple niches that need to be adjusted.

Peg and I are really only a coupla checks away from who knows what. I suspect more people are than ever want to admit it. But "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way," as Roger Waters said.

The Bottom Line -
You are right to support your local homeless shelter. Anyone is. Far better to spend the money locally than to expect that by running it through the government bureaucracy, federal, state or local, it would be better spent. You get more there and you can see where you think it is most needed. What can, though, "we the people" strive for on a national level, what should we be encouraging our representatives and senators to do, should we make recommendations and comments to President Obama? They really do all see to it that everything they get is read. My congressman and senators always respond to me - they probably think of me as that eccentric old fat bald guy in Clive who complains about too many different things but occasionally stumbles across a good point. At least I hope that is the worst they think of me.

How can we do a Feed the Children or a World Vision or whatever IN the U.S. itself?
Should we?

02 January 2014

Creative Use of the English Language

I have been reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. If you think you have a pretty good vocabulary, give it a try -- good old Billy Shakespeare would probably have a run for the money with those books - I love 'em.

On the street, in the office, at home, people are insulted every day. Today, it's all guttural and obscene language that shows little, if any, class - back in the old days, it seemed to have even been possible to curse with class. Now, with all the swear words roaming around, I got this from a friend showing:


These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

Pay attention for Churchill and his wonderful dryness.
Too, you always have to admire Mae West's way with words:

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

*************"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the
dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the
gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or
your mistress."

************"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -
Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great
pleasure." Clarence Darrow

*************"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the
dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time
reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved
of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is
one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -
Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -
Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -
Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on
it?" - Mark Twain

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." -
Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts -- for support
rather than illumination. " - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho

29 December 2013

Time to Get my Kit Together

Truly, "back in the day", as we are now wont to say, rather than "when I was a kid", or "in the roaring 60's",  the phrase was


That's when guys carried "kit" bags, because kit became an easier word to use than "dunnage". This is a great historical explanation of my title and has nothing to do otherwise with today's blog, which is really about getting it together, picking it up and doing the right thing with it.

I try to listen to my favorite TV preacher (also is Alice Cooper's favorite, for a good trivia question), Charles Stanley from First Baptist Atlanta. Of course it is going to be Baptist flavored - he has been a Baptist pastor for over 50 years. My Bible does not tell me what denomination Christ is, though, so I figure after you know that he died for you everything else is rather optional and immaterial in many ways.


Every now and then Chuck will throw out a "squirmer", as my Dad used to refer to some sermons. This is akin to the Holy Spirit hitting you upside the head with a 2x4 or equally significant wakeup call. Dr. Stanley throws this kind of a squirmer about what God wants us to do about once a year; seems like I always catch it and it rattles in my head for weeks thereafter. I suppose that's why they call it the word of God.


do not bother to watch this video if you already know what your purpose is in the world, what God has asked you to do, how He is supporting you and exactly where to start and how to go about it. {God told me that, today, He wanted me to send this to you, so here it is}.



As always, we appreciate your support and welcome comments. Take 45 minutes to let yourself review, or learn for the first time, some fundamental truths that we tend to overlook in a world, today, that needs them desperately.

And, remember a few fundamentals:

12 December 2013

Custom, Routine or Faith?

Thought for the day:
We must be careful when our Christian disciplines become routines. They no longer exist as a part of our faith, but another thing to check off our list of Christian things to do.

We do a lot of things, even the rituals we go through at holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, that we do not consider "Christian disciplines", without really thinking of the why and wherefor. Faith is, among all else, peculiar.

Most Christians are familiar with, or at least have heard, Hebrews 11:
1 ¶  The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. 2  The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. 3  By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

This is likely in the same category as Descartes' "I think, therefore I am." And, as Geddy Lee sings, "if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." So, we believe in something - that is faith - regardless of if we do so consciously and actively, in fact despite our conscious and active attempts to have faith.

We don't make faith. Faith is, like it or not, ask for it or not. It is solely accomplished by the Holy Spirit; for non-Christians who don't believe in the Holy Spirit, any faith you have is accomplished by Him, still, although you think of and refer to him as something else.

 As you go about your "normal" activities of Christmas, then, remind yourself that you do this for reasons other than that you have just always done it this way. Tradition is fine, and remember what family faith originated and sustained that tradition, remember how God brings all these good things to us.

22 August 2013

Back just 3 and a half decades ago or so, I was an aspiring graduate student at Virginia Tech. My advisor was Larry Adler; he had started at Columbia University with a degree in math and went on for his master's and then a PhD in Rock Mechanics at the University of Illinois.

His mentor was Steve Boshkov from Columbia. [ http://www.aimehq.org/programs/award/bio/stefan-h-boshkov ] . Larry invited Steve to Blacksburg for a seminar presentation to the graduate and undergraduate mining students. That evening he invited me over for dinner and brandy, so there we were, student, mentor and ├╝bermentor. Being young and brash enough to get away with it, I dared ask Steve what was the most important thing in life.

Without flinching he spent 10 minutes holding my fascination and that of Larry as we both just sat listening to the anecdotes that came following this simple statement:

"In life, you do well if you can get along with people, and you do well if you can get along with money. If you can get along with both you do very well. If you can influence either one you are quite successful, and if you can influence both you are phenomenal. That's all there is to it, purely and simply."

Engineers do incredibly well with numbers, and good engineers are the ones who relate those numbers to money and the wealth of their company. Very seldom, though, do you find an engineer who is really good with people. If you do, you make him a manager. But, the engineer who is skilled with money and with people makes himself your manager and proceeds far beyond any expected level. That's why Steve stayed at Columbia, because he could influence the engineering curricula heavily inserting humanities and arts to give engineers what they really needed much more than another course in mechanics or mathematics.

That's about as far as my tired old brain wants to go this morning, especially with my cluster headache meds kicking in, but it should be food for thought for anyone who wants to bother researching the topic even casually. Think about it.
That is all.

08 August 2013


Call me crazy, but it seems to me like this would-be king is letting the power go to his head more every day. I can understand the legal discussion behind why he wanted to throw a gag order on the victims of the Ft. Hood heretic treasonal seditionist jihadist, Hassan, but the last time I read the Constitution it still said that the Congress shall pass no law restricting the right to assemble and speak; and, to me that points out fairly succinctly that it is, indeed, the Congress that makes laws, not the President. A king, on the other hand, is different, I suppose, in that what he says from the throne goes no matter how absurd it may be.

 I see that The President's city, Chicago, is rapidly taking a lead from Detroit. And, they are leading the league in dead African Americans (black people, persons of color? I never know any more how we are to refer to certain groups). I see that 3 black kids beat up a white kid on the schoolbus, but that the driver did not intervene and the mainstream media didn't report it. Notice that I did not say I was surprised by this happening. Things like this happen every day, more than once, and the only thing I see on TV is "pastor arrested for sexual assault on teenagers" which is about a guy, an assistant youth pastor (general flunky on the staff) that was fired from his position as a youth pastor and later was stupid enough to fool around with a couple of girls to whom he had "ministered" in days of yore. Our friends on TV can sensationalize anything they want to, or subdue everything they want to.

I see Brian Williams is getting a new knee. I see that every night. They certainly did not do 10 minutes with Dr. Nancy Snyderman when I got my new knee. Perhaps that was because it was my left knee and it's Brian's right knee, maybe it's because I am so old that it would not be newsworth, but Brian is so young (!) that we should feel sorry for him.

I could keep going all day. I won't. I'll sign off for now; but, I shall probably be back soon.