Hey Culligan Man!

Mary and I were driving through the Hwy. 115 canyon
between Penrose and Colorado Springs, going the speed limit, 60 mph.
Suddenly the car in front of us slowed to 45 mph
because it was blocked by a box truck crawling along.

Impatiently, without being able to see what was coming,
the car started passing the truck.
My heart raced because I could see three cars looming fast on him.
It looked like they would hit head-on!
And the highway dubbed “ribbon of death” would wrap up more victims!

But thankfully, the three cars hugged the right shoulder and the foolhardy car slipped in, leaving it our turn to deal with the turtle truck.
Mary cautioned me, really pleading at the same time:
“Let’s be patient—there’s a passing lane just up a few miles.” 

Culligan Man truckThe back of the truck said “Hey Culligan Man!”
It seemed like we were staring at that old familiar commercial jingle forever!
Maybe that’s why the other car bolted—
couldn’t take it any more!

At last as we neared the passing lane,
I pulled up on the truck’s left rear, ready to zoom by
as soon as he started to move over to the right lane.

But he just kept going straight—down the left—chugging 45!
My mind was whirring—what was the perfect thing to say
to this annoying driver!!
Hold that thought …

James 3 is the Tongue Chapter and verse 2 tells you how you can tell if you’re perfect:  “If anyone can control his tongue” (Living Bible).

If you are perfect, you will be speaking like God the Father & Jesus Christ speak.  Everything you say will be aligned with the Bible.

Confession time

If somebody starts talking about how we need to stop gossiping, slandering or criticizing, my spiritual mind would agree but my carnal mind would argue back:  You know as hard as we try not to, we’re going to keep right on gossiping!

In verses 5 and 6 James says our tongues are going to start raging fires just as surely as Colorado will burn this summer.

tongueJames flat out says in verse 8:  “No man can tame the tongue.”

Is it hopeless?   Good news is that a forecast was just released saying that fires in Colorado are expected to be average or below average for the third straight year.  And James says God can help us control our tongues!

In verse 13 James asks:  “Who is wise and understanding among you?  He says we need “meekness of wisdom.”

Verse 17 gives God’s solution for controlling our tongues:  “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield [to a Culligan Man truck!], full of mercy and good  fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”  It’s obvious all of these characteristics, guided by God’s Holy Spirit, would help us control our tongues.

What an interesting surprise:

James doesn’t say “first love.”  He says purity is the first descriptor.

Note Psalm 12:6:   “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified 7 times.”  This is a definite impression of carefully choosing every word in every situation—with loving consideration to the impact on all concerned.

To comply with this, the translators of the King James Bible had six panels of 54 translators work separately—two panels on the Old Testament, three on the New Testament and one on the Apocrypha.  Each panel’s work would be sent to the other panels and then chief members of all six panels would consider final revisions.

I could give you lots of time-tested advice for controlling the tongue perfectly:

think before speakYou could “think before  you speak.”  But by the time I’d get to N—is it necessary, it wouldn’t be because the person would have given up waiting for me to say something!

Because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34), conversion and God’s spirit in you is the best solution for speaking good words.

I want to leave you with

A concept that has helped me more than anything else:

The first resurrection may not be that far off, when in the twinkling of an eye we become members of the God family—you and me suddenly expected to have every word we say be god-like.  We should be preparing to speak like that now.  After all, 1 John 3:2 says “now we are children of God.”

So it’s really helping me to ask myself, “If I were God now, would I say that?”  It has never worked for me to ask, “What would Jesus say?” because He said many things in the Bible that would never come up in my conversational circle.  I don’t have occasion to call anybody “Whitened sepulchers!”  Or inform anybody that “Before Abraham was, I Am.”

But it does work for me to evaluate whether what I’m about to say would be godly and up to the standards of the Word of God.

Jesus as the Word said “Let it be” and the whole universe came into existence out of nothing!  Imagine if you had that kind of power at the tip of your tongue today as you seek to have the mind of Christ.  Where anything you say goes!  You’d want to watch what you utter!

Back to the annoying truck

“Hey Culligan Man … get out of my way!”  So the truck would go flying across the landscape!

One of my favorites:  “Anyone who drives like that ought to be shot!”  So the driver would be lined up by a firing squad and summarily dispatched!

“Hey Culligan Man, you must have been told a million times to not drive like that.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it.   Stop it.”  [And this blog would go on and on for 999,995 more!]  Mary has been after me for a long time to stop exaggerating and I would argue back that it’s just colorful English.  But God says what He means and means what He says.

NO!  “Maybe the truck can’t go any faster … maybe he’s British …”  What needs softening far more than water is our words.

ThumperTo paraphrase Thumper from Bambi, “If you can’t think of somethin’ godly to say, then don’t say nuffin’ at all!” 

And you’ll be on the road to perfection.

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Tenor Finds His Pitch

& Hopes it Might Help Other Choir Members

tenorIn 1975 Director King Findlay asked me if I’d like to be in the Church choir.
The first song we sang was “Sine Nomine.”
About a year later we sang the song again,
and to my chagrin,
I discovered that I had been singing the soprano line!
For me the song should have been called “Sine Pitch!”

 

On top of that, it turned out that King had only invited me to sing in the choir because he mistakenly thought I had sung in the Church’s college choir.  Actually I was a choir wannabe without star credentials who you’d want tenor twenty feet away!

Forty-one years of various choirs later, including singing in the Pasadena Centennial Choir, festival choirs and in foreign lands, and 37 years dabbling at the piano, I still have a challenging time finding my opening note of a piece.   When the helpful pianist plays the four part notes and the director says “Find your note,”  no matter how hard I stress or strive, the note I find is the last one played:  the soprano/melody line.  Warmup exercises in four parts leave me cold turkey unless there is a strong tenor nearby.

The nicest situation is when I have a right-on-pitch tenor on both ears.  Then I can sing confidently right on pitch and loud.

Trouble is, in practices I am often the only tenor and have to find the pitch for myself.  That usually means practicing the piece over and over until the opening tenor part becomes the melody line for me.  Even then it doesn’t take much to lure me off pitch, challenged to find my way back.

BUT … recently I found

A breakthrough solution

which might benefit other pitch-deficient choir members.

The sheet music said the melody line for the very familiar song, “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” starts with middle C and G.  But tenors start A below middle C and then sing the C.   Sometimes I can hear harmony going up but never going below.  I’d play the notes on my piano again and again but still couldn’t consistently find them when the piano would play the intro.

BacharachThat is, until I just happened to notice that the opening tenor note was the same sound as the word “Spread” in the song “Message to Michael” by my favorite composer, Burt Bacharach.  I can hit that pitch anytime I feel like singing “Spread your wings to New Orleans, Kentucky Bluebird, fly away.”

So now I can think “Spread” in my head and then make that my pitch for “The … Lord is my shepherd.  At the end of the song, at “the quiet waters by,” I can double check that I am still on pitch with the A by thinking of “Spread.”  One verse through I’m tuned in for all four verses.

This new “comparative” pitch technique should work in all the songs that come this tenor’s way.

It’s interesting to me now that John Schroeder, a Pasadena choir director, had used this same technique on me in the ’80s when he was trying his best—futilely—to help me pass his audition to be in the choir.  He would play four notes for me to sing back to him.  When I’d argue that I couldn’t do it, which I actually could have but was refusing to do because I was fearful of singing solo, John would say “C’mon, these are the same four notes in ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’”

Maybe this will help other choir members find their pitch.

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What Are These Peculiar People Up to Now!

Most people like to read a  newspaper article or watch a Facebook video
about people who have strange customs or celebrate unusual days.
They’ll be thinking “How peculiar”
but maybe they will think “How interesting!  I’ve got to try that!”

Lamb in ExodusIt all begins with Passover Thursday night.  On that very night of Abib 14—3,463 years ago around 1446 BC—the death angel passed over the homes which had the lamb’s blood smeared on their doors.   Today it’s common for homeowners to paint their front door a bright red to attract attention, but who is so peculiar to do just the doorposts and lintels in blood!   The Israelites did what they were told and spared their firstborn males.

On that very night in 31 AD— 1,985 years ago—Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) instituted the New Testament Passover.  Thousands of years of lambs became The Lamb.  God with us as Emmanuel would the next day die for us.  So our sins could be forgiven.  If God opens your eyes to understand, you realize that you killed Him.  He would have had to die if you were the only one alive.

Thursday night baptized brethren will wash feet to teach humble service but also to be cleansed by Christ, who said “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8).  Then they will eat a small piece of unleavened bread to represent the broken body of Christ and drink a small cup of wine symbolizing His shed blood.  Christ tells His disciples:  These two symbols are a type of Me!  Paul said we do this annually to “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).  A most peculiar way to picture complete healing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Friday night is always special because of starting a Sabbath, but this week’s is a special one called “The Night To Be Much Observed” (Exodus 12:41-42).  This night will be a glorious full moon because it was on this night that Israel led by Moses—really by Jesus as the God who guided them as a cloud by day and as a pillar of fire by night—walked out of Egypt, a picture of sin.  Today Jesus helps us walk as He walked (1 John 2:6) on our way to the Promised Land.

This Friday night begins a double Sabbath because it is a “high day” (John 19:31)—the first Day of Unleavened Bread.  For seven days we will have all leavened products, picturing sin, out of our cars and homes and avoid eating doughnuts, pizza, cookies and bread.  Sometimes you Wonder if it’s bread anyway!

Instead, each day we will eat some unleavened products.  A favorite of many is egg and onion matsos.  Incredibly, you must be careful that you don’t buy matsos that have some leaven in them!   Being blessed by a rabbi does not make that okay!

These seven days (April 23-29) focus on the resurrected Jesus Christ as the Unleavened Bread of Life (John 6:35) leading us out of sin, so we can put on the new man daily through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Exodus, all the attention was on the lamb.  Lamb in NTToday all attention is on Christ our Passover Lamb and our Unleavened Bread of Life.  We’ve been examining ourselves, as to whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Praise God we are!  But all the examination in the world won’t save us.  We look to Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and we will follow Him wherever he goes (Revelation 15:12).

These Holy Days should

Not be kept just out of curiosity

of what some people might be doing.  The God who sanctified them (Leviticus 23:2) was the one who became Jesus Christ!  These Holy Days are Christish!  And as you’d expect, Jesus kept them while He lived on the earth and set us an example.

These Holy Days picture the saving work of Jesus Christ.  They reveal the plan of God.  You’d think we’d all want to know that!  And keep these wonderful days.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9—KJV).

You become one of these peculiar people?  Then people can wonder what you’re up to!

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This Guy Can’t Spell But He Seems Happy

spelling beeOur celebration day is spelled D-U-D! 
The happy bee has inflicted his sting!

Our nearly three-year situation seems like it’s determined to become a full three years.

We were going to close on the sale of our investment house on April 5, a good month short of the three-year date of May 7.

But then:  The buyer was on the way out of the house, having just approved of all the changes we made after the inspection and ready to proceed with the appraisal and loan, when an unfortuitous encounter put some serious doubts in her mind.

So we had to arrange for an official mold test at a cost of $350.  The house received a clean bill of health,  but it looked like closing would be delayed until April 14.

But then:  The appraiser came about a week early!  It looked like we could be back on track for April 5.

But then:  When early April arrived and our agent had heard nothing, she called to ask the appraisal why he was delaying.  He said he had sent the report long ago to the mortgage company!  Yes, they located it, but closing was moved to April 15.   Very appropriate because it’s all very taxing!

It seemed forever but that’s today—we were closing today!  The whole day would revolve around the 1:30 p.m. closing.

But then:  We find out about 10 a.m. that the mortgage company needs more time for paperwork so closing has been rescheduled for a few more days of wondering what else can rear its ugly head!

What do you do when all the miraculous Master Timing is resulting in bad not good!  And you’re feeling more like Haman than Esther?   More like mortified than Mordecai?

Well, you have to spell BAD as G-O-O-D because Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

And you have to spell TRIAL as J-O-Y because James 1:2 says “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of  your faith produces patience.”

Right now I would have to spell patience as P-A-T-I-E-N-T.  We ought to be committed—and you’d probably agree that I should be!

You’ve heard it:  don’t sweat the small stuff … and it’s all small stuff.

What you think is a BIG DEAL is spelled G-O-D-‘-S   G-O-T   I-T   A-L-L   U-N-D-E-R   C-O-N-T-R-O-L!

Right after the bad news hit today, we were going to go to Subway to take advantage of a bargain coupon for a footlong turkey sandwich.  I mentioned that I would much prefer a hot pastrami.  But a hot pastrami six-inch would cost almost as much as the footlong turkey.

No sooner had I agreed that it wouldn’t make sense to insist on a hot pastrami, we get a text message on the cell phone offering a 6” pastrami for only $3!

spelling treeTime and chance?  Or the loving Master Timer providing a little needed encouragement!

Living God’s way spells B-L-E-S-S-I-N-G.

God?  That’s L-O-V-E.

OK, so it looks like a guy who fancies himself a good speller can’t spell.  But the hot pastrami tastes good and he’s happy.

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That’s Why Try!

light darknessGod says “Therefore you shall be perfect,
just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

People say, “Nobody’s perfect,
so why try?

When it’s God vs. people, guess who I want to go with every time!  Because I know there’s great reward in doing what God says.

But wait a minute!  The Apostle John tells us flat out “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).  And the Apostle Paul admitted in Philippians 3:12:  “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected.”

So what to make of this?  God says be perfect and two of his Apostles say we won’t be while in this human flesh.

The Greek word for “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 is TELEIOS and can be translated “mature.”  This isn’t referring to growing older and grayer; it’s talking about spiritual development and character because there is a

“Close relationship between character and destiny”

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words says that’s what God is talking about plus “an end accomplished as the effect of a process.”

BibleTELEIOS also means “complete.”  The purpose of the Bible is to help the man or woman of God become “complete” (2 Timothy 3:17).  Our Christian life is a lifelong test, but thank God it’s open book!  And we can consult with others for the answers!

The Greek word in Timothy is a different one—EXARTIZO—and means furnished completely.  When we complete the process, we are going to receive new digs that will be furnished more than we can imagine:  a spiritual body with “all the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  This will happen in the resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says “It is the duty of Christians to desire and aim at and press toward a perfection in grace and holiness.”

Paul concurs in 2 Corinthians 7:1:  “Therefore having these promises, beloved let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,

Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Paul said he strives for excellence and that means the standard of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8-15).   Developing the mind of Christ by thinking and living like Him.  Luke concurs that a disciple who is “perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

For that joy unspeakable goal, Paul forgets those things behind and reaches forward.  “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call for God in Christ Jesus.”

God doesn’t expect giant leaps; rather, steps no matter how small, reaching forward and looking upward.  Not mired in the past, paralyzed in the present or fearful of the future.

Paul concludes in verse 15 “as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise God will reveal even this to you.”  And so this time of year we do what Paul advises and “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

So why try to be perfect?

Our blindness keeps us from seeing what Matthew said:  Our destiny is to be perfect like God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother!  We are going to become their perfect sons and daughters!

Who wants to be changed into a perfect spiritual being with all the fullness of Christ at the resurrection when He returns!  This is the better resurrection—double portion for a firstborn (Deuteronomy 21:17)—because you will be part of His Bride and be in on the ground floor of His Kingdom on earth.

C.S. Lewis said Matthew 5:48 is

“Not idealistic gas”

In Mere Christianity Lewis counters naysayers:  “He is going to make good His words.  He will make the feebleist and filthiest of us into a god or goddess.  Nothing less.  He meant what He said.”

There’s more!  In one sense you can be perfect now!  Thanks to Jesus Christ being our Passover lamb and our living Unleavened Bread of Life, He is able to ”present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:22-23).

perfect reflectionWhen the Father looks at us, He sees the reflection of His Son and sees perfection that is not yet as though it be (Romans 4:17).

Perfection in resurrection.  Imputed perfection now.

That’s why try!

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The Green Is Gone!

green screenFor months probably stretching into a year,
my Toshiba laptop has displayed an annoying problem. 
You want to watch a video in Facebook or a Netflix movie
and you can hear the audio but the picture goes solid green! 

Turning green is natural for the earth this beautiful time of year but not what you want your laptop to spring on you every day!

Not being a techie whiz, the best I could come up with is to restart the laptop.   Thankfully it works but it seems like eternity before you have Facebook or Netflix back up and ready to view.

My brother-in-law Terry to the rescue

Terry really knows computers so first he ran CCleaners to “clean the crap off your laptop.”  He was surprised at how long it took and how many files were clogging and bogging my Toshiba.  My wife doesn’t like me to use crude words but I’ll make an exception this once because Terry said the CC is known as “Crap Cleaner.”

Lo and behold, since Terry left, the green is gone!  All the videos run like they should.

This special time of year with the spring holy days just about two weeks away, I know I could use

Some spiritual CC 

2 Corinthians 13:5 commands:  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Prove yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

The solution is not a software utility. The solution is Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The solutions is Christ the Unleavened Bread of Life (John 6:48).

The solution is to pray and fast with Bible open, asking our merciful Father to help me  see my true spiritual condition as His child.  My spiritual house needs to be unleavened and uncluttered.

Rather than a universal software utility, we all need a personal relationship with our God.

green mushroomHarmful thoughts and habits mushroom and need to be purged—forgiven and justified by the blood of Christ and helped to overcome them by the life of Christ (Romans 5:10) through the power of  His Holy Spirit.


Maybe it’s turning green with envy

Or it could be a mix of blue and yellow hues from being puffed up like a helium balloon full of self-righteousness needing only a tiny prick from God to explode?  Forget the question mark!  This malwear is installed in all!

Or maybe a pride—with more Simbas and Nalas than a blockbuster movie can feature if you’re done lyin’ about it to your Maker?  We all prance around with this nature, thinking we’re king of the jungle!

In 1 Corinthians 11:28 Paul also wrote:  “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.”

green heartSo we examine ourselves as God directs and, rather than be discouraged by that, once again find out that we are more solidly in the faith than last year.  We see ourselves more clearly than last year, and we appreciate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice more fully.

And so we eat of that bread and drink of that cup.  Clean!  Then we eat unleavened bread rejoicing in the purging work of our risen Savior.  Being made clean and imputed clean!  The love of God conquers all!

The green is gone!

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If You’d Like to Be Hidden

hiding from terrorI’m not talking about from Donald and Hillary.
Or global warming.   Or terrorism at the mall.
We will all want to be hidden from God’s wrath
in the Day of the Lord!

The book of Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets—because of its small size of only three chapters, not because of its significance—is a special message to you and me that we likely don’t pay attention to like we should.

It has one amazing verse of special significance.   Imagine trying to write one verse that includes all 26 letters of the English alphabet.   It would have to include the challenging letters of playing Scrabble including X, Q, Z, J.   Zephaniah 3:8 is the only verse in the Bible that contains all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

This is similar to some key chapters in the Bible where each of the 22 Hebrew letters starts a line or more.   Acrostics were indications of perfection and completeness.   For example, Psalm 119 describes God’s perfect law; Proverbs 31 the perfect woman.   This literary technique indicates that a section of Scripture is of special importance.

So we should take note of Zephaniah 3:8: “’Therefore wait for me,’ says the LORD, ‘Until the day I rise up for plunder; my determination is to gather the nations to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.’”

Zephaniah uses the term “Day of the Lord” seven times, more than any other prophet.   He uses variations 23 times. His message is unmistakable.

Zephaniah’s name means “The Eternal Hides” or “Hidden of the Lord.”

We joke about wanting to be hidden from politics! But wanting to be hidden from

God’s wrath in the Day of the Lord

will be no laughing matter.   People will cry out for the rocks to fall on them and end their misery!    Amazingly, they will blaspheme God because of their pain and sores when He is their only hope for rescue.

Zephaniah was a call to repentance to Judah in King Josiah’s day but also for Christians today:   “Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you!   Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility.   It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:2-3).

It would be good for us to read and respond to all of this short but powerful book.

We’re not talking about hiding our eyes.   Luke urges: “Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (21:36).

If we fulfill God’s instructions to the Philadelphia Church, He promises “Because you have kept My command to persevere I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).

God promises He will take His Church to a Place of Safety for the 3-1/2 years of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:14).   What a blessing—to be spared from the time of Jacob’s trouble that will be the worst the earth has ever experienced! (Matthew 24:21-22).   Unless those days are shortened, no flesh would be saved alive!   The Great Tribulation, the fifth seal of Revelation, is Satan’s wrath against physical and spiritual Israel.

As bad as that is, the seventh seal brings the Day of the Lord as the last year of the 3-1/2 years of chaos.   “Who is able to stand?” asks Revelation 6:17.  It’s asking us!

Before the seventh seal begins with its seven trumpets and seven last plagues, God seals “the servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3).   An innumerable multitude “who come out of the great tribulation” will be rescued” (verse 14).   Revelation 15 shows how “those who have the victory over the beast” (verse 2) are spared the seven last plagues.

Now is the time for us all to submit to our Loving God … if you’d like to be hidden.

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