Thursday, October 31, 2013

Songs Developed Directly From the Psalms

Since this went so horribly when my Dad tried to do it spur of the moment at church a few months ago, I thought I would do it in a series of posts.

I'm eating Psalms with my breakfast and, as I go through, I keep noticing lines that have been turned into devo songs or hymns. So, periodically I will share those that I have found. Maybe someday we can have a Sunday/Wednesday night singing service and go through some of them.

I'll put the portion that's a direct quote from the verse in italics.

From Psalm 3:3

Thou, Oh Lord, are a shield about me,
You're my glory, You're the lifter of my head.
Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah
You're the lifter of my head.

From Psalm 3:6 and 7
I am not afraid of 10 thousands of people
who have set themselves against me.
(Continue repeating)
(After the first group has sang the above twice, another group comes in with the following)
Arise! Arise! Deliver me, O my God.
(Repeat once and then the groups switch or the song comes to a close)

I know that probably made no sense but, despite being a simple song, it sounds pretty cool with a big group of people.

From Psalm 8:1
O Lord, our Lord
how majestic is your name in all the earth
O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is Your name in all the earth

O Lord, we praise Your name
O Lord, we magnify Your name
Prince of peace, mighty God
O Lord, God Almighty

O, Lord, our Lord
How majestic is Your name in all the earth
O, Lord, our Lord
How majestic is Your name in all the earth

O Lord, we praise Your name
O Lord, we magnify Your name
Prince of peace, mighty God
O Lord, God Almighty, Almighty

O, Lord, our Lord
How majestic is Your name in all the earth

O Lord, we praise Your name
O Lord, we magnify Your name
O Lord, we praise Your name
O Lord, we magnify Your name

Prince of peace, mighty God
O Lord, God Almighty
Prince of peace, mighty God
O Lord, God Almighty
We magnify Your name

From Psalm 18:3
I will call upon the Lord,
who is worthy to be praised,
so shall I be saved from my enemies.

The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock,
And let the God of my salvation be exalted.

Jesus Christ He died for me,
And He took away my sin.
I will live with Him for eternity!

From Psalm 19:7-10

The law of the Lord is perfect,
Converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
Making wise the simple.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea than much fine gold,
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea than much fine gold,
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

The statutes of the Lord are right,
Rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure,
Enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean,
Enduring for ever;
The judgements of the Lord are true
And righteous altogether.

From Psalm 19:14. The last time I sang this was in Nigeria (a long time ago) and, as far as I can remember, these were all the words.

Let words of my mouth
and the meditations of my of my heart
be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord

From Psalm 23...the whole Psalm

So far, in my reading, those are the ones I've come across. If I skipped over any, feel free to point me to them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Open Letter to the Makers of Flintstones Vitamins

A few weeks ago I started an open letter to the President of the United States. It had to do with the state of the American educational system, the plight of our teachers, and how taking much of play, art, and music out of schools threatens that which I think makes America truly America; but I thought this issue with Flintstones Vitamins was more pressing, so I decided to write about it. Okay, maybe it's actually because I haven't had time/haven't made time to do the research required for the other letter.

Dear Makers of Flintstones Vitamins,

I am a man of simple pleasures and small delights. Through a combination of intent and happenstance I have lived a very transient life with few constants. Since graduating from college in 2007 I haven't lived in one place longer than a year and, before college, I was a missionary and preacher's kid, so we moved around a lot then, too.

From the time I was a little kid I've always loved Flintstones Vitamins, the taste of them, the texture of them; there's always been nothing quite like them. I may not have been the most loyal and consistent customer throughout the years, there's been many times when I forgot to buy vitamins; but with every one I've chewed, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who has been more appreciative of the experience.

Every time throughout the years I've put a Flintstones Vitamin in my mouth, it's been a highlight of my day. Almost every time I've thought, “Why can't there be a candy this good?” Sometimes, even when I've grown to an age when I should know better, I eat a second vitamin, just to experience it again.

With so much uncertainty and change in my life, you have been a constant I can depend on. A thing I can look to for a little comfort and enjoyment. When I lived in Ukraine and was in an unfamiliar place, with no other Americans around, eating a Flintstones Vitamin was like a little piece of home. They helped to brighten my day.

Imagine my surprise at the new “Tasti Smooth” registered trademark when I looked at the bottle the last time I saw Flintstones Vitamins in the store. I looked at those two little words with suspicion, with dread. I almost didn't by the bottle, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Makers of Flintstones Vitamins, when I put one of my vitamins in my mouth this time and began to chew it up, the world began to crash down around me. Something that has been the same since my childhood, something I've held onto in this uncertain world gave way beneath my feet and I fell. What have you done!?! What has changed and why did you change it!?!

I just wanted to let you know that I'm very disappointed in you. Something that I used to love, now I just like a little bit. Thanks for ruining something great by trying to improve it. You've supposedly been the number one selling children's vitamin since forever, why would you change what's working?

A Heartbroken Consumer

P.S. Did your vitamins used to contain an artificial sweetener? If that's a recent development, I think that's what changed their goodness.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Innocence and Purity of God and Those Who Can Truly See It

This, and probably other posts in the future, are pure speculation. They aren't based on any Scripture but are rather shaped by my view of God, what I know of him, and, perhaps, a little by my overactive imagination. When I've written different things in the past, I've been a little nervous that people will think me a heretic, and yet, I write. I figure if I am too far wrong someone will, hopefully lovingly, correct me. :)

I don't know how God will manifest himself in Heaven, I lean towards thinking that he won't be one single being seated on a throne in front of us all the time, but rather sometimes will be multiple (somethings?) so he can be more personal with those he has gone through so much effort to save. If he is simply always seated on a throne in front of us, with us in constant praise, I think that will be enough, but that is a post for another time. In this post I want to talk about babies and those with developmental issues. I've been wanting to write this for a few days, but during the lesson tonight, my dad said, “If you stop to think about it, there's going to be a lot of babies in heaven,” which caused me to want to write it more. Why? Because it's about what I think those babies are doing when they get there, when they get Home.

When babies go to Heaven, when those who are developmentally challenged go to heaven, those who are innocent and pure; when they see God, I think there is a squeal or yell of delight and a rush to hug God's knees or jump into his arms. Why? Because their soul sees an echo of themselves in God's soul, actually more than an echo, they see that upon which their soul is based, that which their innocence and purity is an echo of. If they made it to earth, if they lived here for a time, and their eyes had sight to see, all adults are but a shadow of that innocence and purity which God's soul radiates like the sun. They can look into the face of God, with eyes unclouded by any type of fear, and see themselves most reflected back. They recognize God because they can know in a way, that will perhaps take us an eternity to learn, that he and they are one, they are copies of him. They will look at him with the delight of a child, as only a human child can delight, and he will look back at them with equal or even more delight in his eyes.

I think children and those who are developmentally challenged will see God in a way that they will have to teach us, for their purity and innocence was never marred by sin and filth. I know we are fully purified by Christ's blood, I know we are made new, but I still think they will have lessons to teach us.

That's not to say their way of seeing God is better or more perfect, because I think our experiences here on earth, our joys, sufferings, loves, and struggles with hate and other things, will allows us to see aspects of God in ways that I'm not sure we will ever be able to truly teach those innocents, especially those whom have only known the perfection of heaven. But this is covered in a blog I did a couple years ago, so I'll dig that up, improve it, and share it, for this was not the primary thought of this post.

I know we will all be joyous in Heaven, but I think that all the children there, children in age and children in thought, might just have us beat by a few degrees in terms of expressing that joy, for they will fully recognize their Abba as they first look upon his smiling face.

I'm a little disappointed by this, I can't convey how wonderful I think it will first be when children see him, the joy I think will radiate off their faces. Just try to picture it and Someday it will be more than imaginings.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Review for Mistborn and The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire is a world during a medieval-type era ruled by an immortal self-proclaimed god. It is a society consisting of nobility, slaves (Skaa), and those slaves brave enough to break free to become thieves and black market merchants. Some of the nobility and those with the mixed blood of Skaa and nobility can “burn metals,” which allows them to have powers that enable them to control the emotions of others, increase their strength, push or pull metals, heighten their senses, or shield those whom are burning metals from the prying eyes of those who can sense it. Most do not have any powers, of those that do, the majority only have one; then there are the Mistborn, who can burn all the metals and, thus, make the perfect assassins.

The Final Empire is a world shrouded in nightly mist and falling ash. A world whose sun is veiled, where the plants are brown and only the oldest legends hint at their once being green. Most are scared of the nightly mists, but that is where the Mistborn like to live and go about their work, for they can more easily hide their identities and the mist seems to embrace them as they use their powers.

Sanderson does an excellent job of creating a world a little different from our own, a world containing mists with things shrouded there that are different than anything we know. He does a good job of creating interesting characters that continue to deepen as you “get to know them” and who continue to better get to know themselves, as well. The fact that I cannot really come up with another story to compare it to speaks to its originality, for I have read quite a few stories.

Though Mistborn and The Well of Ascension have a main character who is a teenage girl, I would not consider them “young adult” books (though young adults would probably enjoy them, too). I guess they're a little deeper than most young adult books.

Mistborn is about Kelsier, a madman bent on overthrowing the Lord Ruler, the god who killed his wife and enslaved his people. He may be mad, daring, and reckless but he trusts his thieving crew, his friends, those he loves; even though his wife may have been the one who betrayed him. Even though the one he loved the most may have betrayed him, he chooses to trust, for he knows life is better that way.

It's also about Vin, a girl who tries to stay in the shadows and go unnoticed, who grew up on the streets and drifting from thieving crew to thieving crew with her brother who, above all else, tried to instill in her a sense of distrust, because he thought that was the best chance of her staying alive. To instill this lesson even further, he would beat her and finally abandoned her in a thieving world dominated by men of less than noble character. Kelsier finds her, suspects she is Mistborn, and takes her under his wing. Even though Vin thinks Kelsier is mad and that his plan will never work, because Vin is all about survival and Kelsier can show her how to be stronger, she decides to accept his mentorship. Also, Vin is attracted and bewildered by this thieving crew who seems to trust each other, she wants to wait around to see if it's real.

Mistborn is about a girl discovering her powers, it is about overthrowing a god, and making a 1000 year empire fall to the ground.

The Well of Ascension is about Vin growing up a little more, stabilizing a newly born society, and fighting off previously unknown enemies. It's about help from unlikely places and betrayal from others. It's about changing perspectives and trying to befriend others who are very different from ourselves.

What are these two stories most deeply about? Trust. Learning to trust and how a life filled with trust, though it makes you more vulnerable in some ways, is a better and more fulfilling life. In Mistborn Vin learns to trust her friends, to trust those she comes to view as family. In The Well of Ascension she continues to learn of this trust and also the trust which must accompany a more exclusive love.

These stories are about how trusting relationships can allow you to grow, discover who you are, to laugh freely, and let your guard down both physically and emotionally. They are about overcoming a very dark past, full of mistrust and valid reasons to distrust. They are about questioning whether we are being used, whether we can be loved and be useful, and being willing to be used because we love the one who needs us.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from The Well of Ascension concerning love (unfortunately I don't have access to Mistborn, because it was a library book):

“Honestly, Saze, sometimes I just think we're too different to be together...”
“At first glance, the key and the lock it fits may seem very different,” Sazed said. “Different in shape, different in function, different in design. The man who looks at them without knowledge of their true nature might think them opposites, for one is meant to open, and the other to keep closed. Yet, upon closer examination, he might see that without the one, the other becomes useless. The wise man then sees that both the lock and key were created for the same purpose.”

Another qoute by Sazed (one of my favorite characters):
“I simply offer counsel. Those who take lightly promises they make to those they love are people who find little lasting satisfaction in life.”

Both books are a decent length, but if you enjoy reading, I think they are enjoyable and worth the read. I would rate them PG-13 for violence, gore, sexual references (it doesn't go into details, but a lot of the nobility take mistresses from the Skaa) and some disturbing elements (Vin gets beat up a few times and the Skaa mistresses, by order of the Lord Ruler, have to be killed before they can have mixed blood children). Because of the violence, I would maybe place it between a PG-13 and an R.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Little Note About Intelligences

As most of you know who bother to read my blog, I was a psychology major in college. I remember one of the things we discussed in, I believe, Psychological Testing was the fact that their has been some debate concerning the biases of intelligence tests and that they, perhaps, only test a certain type of intelligence. This is really something I should have followed up on the research through the years, because it was something I found very interesting at the time. The idea surfacing then was that there are different kinds of intelligence and that someone brilliant in one may not be in another. I'm not sure where the issue has come to rest or if it has come to rest at all, but, personally, I think there are different kinds.

Right now I'm working as a Maintenance Assistant at a hotel. There's one full-time guy and then there's a guy, probably in his early sixties, that comes in a couple days a week. These guys are both “country boys” with thick accents and, sometimes, bad grammar. Well, the older guy got kind of embarrassed during one of our breaks because he was trying to tell us about eating in a restaurant and he got mixed up on the proper usage of “eat” vs. “ate” (and some pronunciation/variation on those words that I'm not even sure what it was). We didn't call him out on it, he did. Anyway, the way he was acting made me sad because he was making it seem like I was smarter than him since I use proper grammar and went to college (some who've read multiple posts may disagree on the proper grammar:).

Guys and gals, I may have graduated Magna Cum Laude from college, but I can't fix my own plumbing, wire my house, fix my own car (without getting a detailed manual), and so many other things that both of these guys can just figure out. I know a lot of this know-how comes from experience, but none of these things are simple, they're all complicated and require a lot of intelligence.

Anyway, just wanted to share that. Whenever you're tempted to judge someone as less intelligent than you, stop and wonder a moment about all the things they can do and know of, about which you are clueless. That's not to say I don't think everyone should try to learn, better themselves, and speak as properly as they know how (or strive to speak more correctly), but perhaps our definitions of what we should learn and how we should better ourselves should widen. I suppose what I am saying is that I believe we should all strive to be well-rounded individuals in various areas of life, instead of strictly experts. This is something I need to work on in my own life, because I am simply dismal in math and I don't read/watch as much non-fiction as I should.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Some Ways in Which I Am Old, Some Ways in Which I Am Young

Some Ways in Which I Am An Old Man:

  1. I love prunes, I think they may be my favorite dried fruit and probably one of my top four, in general.
  2. I love looking through old magazine issues of Reminisce: The Magazine that Brings Back the Good Times (written by its old readers for other old readers) and Birds and Blooms
  3. I love rocking chairs (preferably rocking chairs on a quiet porch) and porch swings
  4. Though I am very aware of how the present is better in many ways (technology, in some ways, less prejudices, freer travel, better medicine, etc.) I miss “the good ole days.” Yes, I am aware it's hard to miss something I never knew, but I miss them all the same. I miss kids running around the neighborhood (which I did get to experience when I was a kid), people sitting out on their porches and knowing their neighbors, swimming holes and rope swings, family game nights, sitting around and reading aloud together, taffy pulls, sleigh rides, and ice skating on a creek or local pond. I know some of these are still attainable and I'm going to try my best to provide them to my future kids.
  5. I love handwritten letters, yes, I know I'm horrible at writing back when people write me, but I still love them.
  6. My joints have creaked for years and I already get a few hairs that grow out of my ears (I pluck them, of course).
Some Ways in Which I Am a Child:

  1. I still like climbing trees and jungle gyms.
  2. I still like playing in the rain (I've been called a “duck” by a dear friend)
  3. I still like catching lightening bugs and stopping to look at other bugs
  4. I like to experience my surroundings by multiple senses. When walking in the woods, I touch trees and moss as I go by, I stop to smell flowers, I like to shut my eyes to listen to waterfalls and brooks, and I love to close my eyes when it's really windy and just feel. Oh, and I love to put my head out the window (when someone else is driving), but I guess this is more like a dog than a child.
  5. I like to show and/or give little things to people who are special to me. You know, like little kids enjoy showing you rocks or leaves or a piece of lint they found in their bellybutton (I may or may not show you the last one).
  6. I have a poor concept of time, other than always being a little early for things, time doesn't mean much to me, days, months, years...some days are longer than years are, at least sometimes a year seems to drift away more quickly than some days pass.
  7. If people 10 and up (most kids younger than that are horrible hiders) wanted to play hide and seek in the dark, I would love that. Looking back I probably wasn't that fun to play with, sometimes I would find a really good spot and just stay hidden there for multiple seeker switches (maybe that's the introvert side of me coming out, I was content to listen to the other people hiding and going to seek).

I could probably think of more to put on both lists, but I don't want to bore any who bother to read this. I guess I just wanted to share a little bit more of me. I know most of these things are things which are stereotypically associated with one age group or another but many on both ends may enjoy something I've mentioned. I guess "age," just like extrovertedness/introvertedness, beauty, and so many other things in our life is actually on a spectrum, is somewhat relative, and you cannot judge everyone based on a simple measurement. I firmly believe the passing of time is relative in multiple ways.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Communion Thought

I did the devotional thought for Communion on Sunday, I thought I'd share on here what I shared then. I originally wrote it for a Communion thought I did in Ukraine in 2009.

When I am thinking and praying as I take the Lord's Supper each week I do not always just think about Christ's death and resurrection; but also sometimes think of the life he lived and remember the fact that he did live a life in the flesh on this earth.

We serve an Almighty God and, though he knows everything, sometimes, when we are suffering, we may be tempted to think he does not know what we are going through and that he cannot know how we feel because he has never experienced it. But as well as coming to earth for the obvious reason of saving us, I also think Christ lived a life in the flesh for this reason, so that when we cry to him and say God cannot not know how we feel, he can whisper gently back to us that he does, for he has felt it, too.

While on this earth Christ actually dwelt among us, the Son of God lived day by day feeling sometimes hungry and sometimes cold, feeling the hard ground beneath his back as he slept in the wilderness and the warmth of the sun on his face in the morning. And he did not live in a palace while here, being served by humanity, but was born to a somewhat poor family and continued to live in poverty his whole life, even when he could have charged so much money for the thousands he healed.

While Christ was here he was tempted and tried; he was doubted and ridiculed by the very ones he loved; he was made fun of and called names which where lies; he was shunned and rejected by the very nation of people who should have recognized him as their Savior; and then, then the most innocent man to have ever walked the earth was beaten because of jealously and died a lawbreaker's death because he was hated by those who claimed to serve his Father most faithfully.

The most pure Being to ever walk the earth took the sin and filth of those hypocrites upon himself, he took our guilt and failings upon himself. And as Paul says in 2 Corinthians, he who had no sin became sin for us. We serve a God who was not only willing to die to save us but was also willing to live to save us, to dwell among us for a time so that by seeing Christ and his actions, we might see the Father. So that through seeing Christ' blood, sweat, and tears and hearing his words of love, we could see the kind of God we serve and the type of God we are loved by. Finally, he lived here in the flesh so that we may look at his life and see how God wishes for us to live and love and strive to serve him.