2015FrancisIt was a pretty good year, sayeth the author. Read on and judge for yourself.

 As to the event of the year, most listings were disasters, terrorist attacks, murder, or natural disaster. The only benign event was Pope Francis' visit to the United States from September 22 to 27.

 

January 

About John 6:8-13 - Little Things Mean a Lot

The January 1 The Upper Room reading was about the mother who packed a lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish for her son to take with him as he went to see Jesus. He and almost everyone within walking distance went. As The Upper Room points out, that mother had no idea what was to follow from her small task.

The story caused me to think something like this; partly Bible, partly imaging what was going on -

The boy overheard Jesus talking with Philip and Andrew about feeding the crowd. He gathered up the courage to tug at Andrew’s sleeve and said, “Excuse me, Sir. I have five small barley cakes and two fish I was going to eat, but you can share them with everyone if that will help.”

Andrew smiled at the boy, knowing it was nowhere near enough but said, “I’ll tell Jesus.”

He turned and said to Jesus, “There is a boy here with five barley loaves and two fishes. But what are they among so many people? He freely offered them to us.”

Jesus said, “Ask the people sit down and bring the boy’s gift to me.”

You know the rest.

Think of that boy’s small contribution to history. He, an insignificant child, offered fives barley loaves and two fish, an insignificant gift, to Jesus and Jesus fed five thousand people with it.

We can do just what the little boy did and one of these days, the result may be very significant.

Every day we have a chance to make an insignificant gift to Jesus. It could be as small as a smile to some stranger, or a wave as we pass an oncoming car and driver. We have no idea what may come of it. It may truly be insignificant or it may be the start of something great. The gift does not matter as much as the thought behind the giving.

It is absolutely certain that nothing, significant or insignificant, will happen if we make no gift.

The story shows that good results can come from insignificant gifts. Insignificant results can also come from insignificant gifts. It is not for us to know. It is for us to keep giving.

The boy learned almost at once that his insignificant gift had a huge impact. We have no such benefit. We will likely never know the impact of our gifts.

I believe the same is true of significant gifts. Insignificant results or significant results can come from significant gifts as well. Again, it is not for us to know. It is for us to keep giving.

God’s does not use of our gifts based on size, but I think, on how and why we give.

For worldly folks, significant gifts are prized much more than insignificant gifts.

 

February

Neighbors; The Sunday School lesson of February 8 was centered around Luke 10:25-37. The study centered on a question asked of Jesus, “And who is my neighbor”?

His answer was a story about how three persons reacted to a wounded victim on a road known to harbor thieves and robbers. The story showed that a neighbor is one who help others. A lot of the discussion covered how dangerous it could be to stop to help someone apparently in need these days.

It sometimes sounded as if we were not neighbors unless we risked our lives to try getting along with and helping such people as ISIS.

I found Matthew 7:6 by accident and it helped me. It reads (NIV), “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

This seems to allow that not everyone we see is a neighbor.

The Apocrypha; I finished reading the Bible (on a day-by-day schedule) on January 14 of this year. I have done this several years now. After half a month vacation, I was ready to start again, but instead, I decided to read the collection of books (The Apocrypha) that appear between the Old Testament and the New Testament in some Bibles. This morning (still snowed in) I was reading Sirach Chapters 1 and 2.

When I came to Chapter 1, verses 22 through 24, I thought I should put them here and encourage others to read the Apocryphal books.

“Unjust anger cannot be justified, for anger tips the scale to one’s ruin. Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment, and then cheerfulness comes back to them. They hold back their words until the right moment; then the lips of many tell of their good sense”.

In other words, there are times to bite your tongueJ

My Deck When It Snows; I put out a lot of wild bird feed (seed) when the ground is covered with snow. The feeding population is mostly snowbirds, I think they’re called. They are small greyish with white breast feathers.

But often they are joined by redbirds, blue jays, a woodpecker, and some squirrels. There are no border clashes, territorial fights, or political arguments. They are all cooperating with common one goal, to fill their bellies.

Generally, they fly away when I walk past the sliding door but some, more and more every day, just keep on eating. People could learn from them.

 

March

More of Sirach; As I mentioned last month, I am reading the Apocrypha this year. I just finished Sirach. Its last verse (Chapter 51:30) reads, “Do your work in good time, and in His own time God will give you your reward.” It is pretty good advice.

Tear Strips; Maybe I did this before. I know I did one on opening crackers. Packages with re-sealable zip strips have a tear strip to open them. It turns out there is usually an easy direction to tear. There are all told four ways to tear but only one is easiest. There four ways are:

With the package front facing you
     tear from the left to you,
     tear from the left away from you,
     tear from the right to you,
     tear from the right away from you.

Two of the tears are probably easier to do with the package facing away from you. I tear many cat treat packages. Temptations packs tear one way and Party Mix another. The zip strips zip much easier in one direction than the other, too. Some do not want to zip no matter what you do.

Prosperity; Prosperity is buying things we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. From the March 2014 issue of Kentucky Explorer.

World’s Smallest Package; A man wrapped up in himself. From the March 2014 issue of Kentucky Explorer.

But Wait; Don’t you just love hearing, “But Wait” in the middle of a commercial?  You know you are going to be offered two or more of what you have already decided is not worth what they want for it and much less the value they claim it is worth. Also, you know the S&H will be almost as much as the product itself.

Question Everything; Perhaps it’s my engineering background, but the words ‘question everything” that the Science Channel uses quite often are perhaps the two most unused combination of words in modern life. I strongly recommend you tell yourself to do that almost constantly.

The ‘But Wait’ paragraph above is a result of it.

Group Names; While looking for names for the three Easter egg hunts we are having next week, I found there are no really good real names for Preteens or for Preschoolers. Both are named in terms of what they will be, not what they are. I ended up using  -  ? to 6, 7to12, and 13 to- ?. Does anyone have good words for these age groups?

 

April

Question Everything; Perhaps it is my engineering background, but the short sentence ‘Question everything’ with the implied subject, YOU, is perhaps the most powerful sentence in life. The Science Channel uses it quite often. I strongly recommend you tell yourself to do that almost constantly.

Lauren Bacall ; I recently talked to someone (I forget who) about whether or not Lauren Bacall ever sang in a movie. Well she did. The movie was To Have and Have Not with Humphry Bogart. It was her fist movie and she was 19. The song was How Little We Know with Hoagy Carmichael playing piano. Unsure of how she would sound the producers hired Andy Williams to sing it for dubbing. She did fine and the Williams' version was never used.

Three Legged Squirrels; I was told by someone that a three-legged squirrel often visited them.

I started feeding birds on my deck beginning during the snows of February. Squirrels often helped themselves, too. Then one afternoon there was what I thought was a three-legged squirrel on my deck railing. I watched to make sure and was surprised that when he scampered off he had four legs.

I started watching my squirrels more carefully. It seems they often sit with one leg tucked up against their chest appearing to have only three legs.

I watched more carefully then. Three squirrels seem to get along while eating, but when more show up none get a chance to eat. They spend their time running each other off.

Shipwreck Aftermath; There were two men who survived a disastrous shipwreck and managed to swim away from the rocks to a beach on the island. After gaining their composure, one of them began screaming and yelling. "We're going to die! We're going to die! There's no food, no water! We're going to die!"

The second man was propped up against a palm tree and acted so calmly, it nearly drove the first man crazy. "Hey, don't you understand? We're going to die!!” he said to the second man.

"You don't understand. I make $100,000 a week," said the second man.

The first man looked at him completely dumbfounded, and asked, "What difference does that make? We're on an island with no food, no water, no means of communication, and hardly any shelter! We're going to die!!!"

The second man answered, "You don't get it. I make $100,000 a week and I tithe to the very cent. My pastor will find me!"

 

May

Ill feelings, a Confession; Last month someone did a ‘something’ I considered wrong and hurtful to me. It bothered me no end. I harbored ill feelings and worried about the relationship after what had happened.

This morning I woke with a realization that I was wrong. The ‘something’ I did not like was not hurtful; it was simply not what I would have done. It was well intentioned; it was just not what I would have done. Being different is not wrong; it is just different.

I feel so much better now knowing that ‘bad’ thing was really an attempt at a ‘good’ thing. I like that someone even more now.

Pagan, the word; A few lessons ago the word, pagan(s), was in the Bible passages (3 John 7) for the lesson. Someone asked what the word meant.

It was then discussed in the context of current pagan religions. The word pagan was not in common use until around the 13th century AD. Where it has been used as a translation of a Hebrew, Greek or Roman word of Biblical times, the original word mostly likely meant non-Jew or non-Israel.

For 3 John 7, the NIV uses pagans; the KJV uses Gentiles; the NRSV uses non-believers.

Seniors; Today is Seniors Sunday. We have several Seniors being honored today.

They are starting the fourth most important years of their lives; some would say the most important. I see the first years as most important as they form the character of the person. I see the grade and middle school years as second in importance as they allow learning of lifelong traits and habits. During the high school years, fundamental and essential learning in getting along and surviving are learned.

The next years, those now beginning, are either career forming or career beginning years. They are the first years of being truly self-sufficient. Our Seniors are well grounded and ready to begins and continue their now fully adult lives. Their good grounding is due in large part to their relationship with God.

Memorial Day; Today is also Memorial Day, a day to remember and thank those who have made Senior Day possible, our Servicemen and Servicewomen.

Their work in war and in peace has guaranteed a free environment for our newborn to grow, achieve, and reach Senior Day. We should be forever grateful to all them. Those from our congregation have special meaning to us.

For some of our Seniors, the next years will be as Servicemen and Servicewomen to help insure the future.

 

June

Harmony; I have just finished a novel by Phillip Gulley. The title is, “Just Shy of Harmony,” and is one of several books about the small town of Harmony. The last three paragraphs are interesting, I think. The paragraphs are:

“Isn’t God good,” Deena said. It was a declaration, not a question.

Sam smiled and nodded his head in agreement.

God is good he thought. Bewildering, but good.

I think we all feel bewildered at times, by how God responds to our prayers. Just know and believe that God knows more than we do and always does or allows what is best for us.

Fred Allen Radio Show; I just listened to a radio show from the WW II years. One joke was as follows:

Woman: You’re only marrying me for my money.
Man: That’s the only way I can get it.

The Koran; I finished my read-the-Bible-in-a-year reading a few weeks ago and decided to read the Koran the same way, a chapter a day. I discovered some interesting information along the way.

First, some Christian religions consider it a sin to read The Koran. All Islamic groups consider it a sin for a Muslim to read a Christian Bible.

Second, The Koran was written in Arabic in the early 600s. There are no translations of The Koran, only interpretations.

Third, you cannot truly understand the real Koran unless you read it in the original Arabic with the words meaning what they meant then. That seems to be an impossibility, even for someone who can read Arabic.

Over the years, English words change meaning and I’m sure Arabic words have changed, also. As a friend  pointed out one day; in our youth it was OK for us to have a gay old time. We can’t do that today.

Lastly, it is a hard read, but it shares much of the Old Testament folks with us – Adam, but not Eve, Noah, and others I do not remember. A version named “The Noble Quran” is the most often recommended interpretation for us infidels.

Five Minutes; Thursday’s Upper Room reading suggested we take five minutes a day to notice our surroundings. I am going to try spending five minutes a day on my deck just looking, even the hot ones and the cold ones.

A recent Pastor sat on my deck for maybe 15 minutes about one day a week. He said it brought peace to him.

 

July

Misleading Advertising; Sometime ago I noticed my cat and I make a lot of dust from the litter in his litter box; he covering stuff up and me digging it out. The litter I was using was marked 99.6% dust free. That sounds pretty good until you figure out that a 14 pound bag, the ordinary size, box of litter has almost an ounce of dust, 0.896 ounce to be more precise. That’s a lot of dust. How Much?

Parmesan Cheese Jar Lids; A cousin  just Facebook-ed that Parmesan Cheese jar lids fit Mason jars and thus are really good to cover jars of flour, cornmeal and sugar, and maybe some other stuff like oats and rice.  I just checked and the lids fit Maxwell House Instant Coffee jars, too. I use the large (12 oz.) size jars and plan to convert them to storage jars.

I hazard a guess that there are many mating jars/lids out there. I plan to check the fit of jars and lids for any jar or lid I think might have another use.

I suspect there are standard sizes/threads for jars/lids because of the expense of designing and making the machines that make jars and lids. Example: The machine that screws Parmesan Cheese lids on their jars could also screw Maxwell House Coffee lids on coffee jars.

I think almost all cleaning product pump lids fit almost all cleaning product bottles.

Teddy Bears; A recent article in the Lewis County Herald mentioned a Teddy Bear display at a local shop running until August 15. For an unexplained reason, I took my 80 year old Teddy Bear to see her display. The display is worth the time it takes to visit Tollesboro. Her shop is on the Maysville end of Tollesboro on the river side of the main drag.

August

Anniversary; The morning of August 4th marked the one-year anniversary of God’s miracle to me. I have been alcohol free for over a year now with no desire at any time or place or circumstance.

A Good Thing About Dentists; At a recent visit to my dentist, I was looking through Boy’s Life, the Boy Scout Magazine and found these.

A boy says, “Doctor, people keep misunderstanding me.”
The Doctor replies, “No they don’t.”

And this title of a book never written;

A Good Life
by
Justin Joyit

Misleading Advertising (repeated and finished); I forgot to look up data and finish the paragraph last month. Here is the whole thing; this time it is finished.

Sometime ago I noticed my cat and I make a lot of dust from the litter in his litter box; he, covering stuff up and me, digging it out. The litter I was using was marked 99.6% dust free. That sounds pretty good until you figure out that a 14-pound bag, the ordinary size, of litter has almost an ounce of dust, 0.896 ounce to be more precise. That’s a lot of dust. How much is 0.896 ounce? It weighs out to be an eighth cup. That is the same as two tablespoons of dust. That seems like a lot of dust.

I wanted to recheck the percentage and could not find any claim on the new container. Does that mean even more dust now?

Uncle Sam Day; September 13th is Uncle Sam Day. His image was first used in 1813. It was probably used most often during World War II for recruiting (Uncle Sam wants you) and to sell War Bonds

Good Advice, Unfamiliar Source; I found this in verse 19 of chapter 31 of the Koran. “And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of asses.”

 

September

 

Odds and Ends; While hunting I ran across these two page fillers.
The first – Only the living can say they will fight to the last breath.
The second – We should learn that people are not what we want or expect them to be. They are themselves. This came from an essay by O. W. Holmes.

An Odd Event; Shortly after my garage door was installed, I forgot the code for the keypad that controls it. I learned to operate the door from the remotes. Then I had a visit from two Jehovah’s Witnesses selling reading materials. For some reason we needed to get into the garage. I told them I could not open it as I had forgotten the code. Then all of a sudden, I remembered the code. What was that all about?

Worrying About Living; I ran across this page from The Upper Room while searching my notes for words to fill this page. Matthew 6:25-34 is very calming scripture.

 

October

A Must Read; Pass it on; Recently during a regular six month visit to my dentist we found what turned out to be a Squamous Cell skin cancer under my tongue. Thanks to God and UK HealthCare it is a thing of the past.

On a more humorous note, the CT scan to see if my cancer had spread showed no spreading but did indicate something odd about a bone in my head. It showed a strange growth; maybe serious, maybe not.

That brought on the MRI. Once the noise (MRIs are very noisy) had died out I was told I had an arachnoid granulation on one of my head bones, nothing serious. I now live with the knowledge that I have a spidery something or other on one of my head bones.

The important thing to learn is that real and serious problems are often found while being examined for something completely unrelated. Others have probably had similar recent experiences.

Don’t let something serious escape being discovered by ignoring it or some other unrelated health problem. If something has changed or seems abnormal, get checked out by an expert. Some changes come along just naturally with age. I can vouch for that. Other changes can be because something serious has started.
If in doubt; check it out!

A Huge Surprise; The Damascus synagogue was jammed. I found a seat and was sitting down when the Priest said in a loud voice, “It is my pleasure to introduce Saul of Tarsus, the man who almost singlehandedly is ridding us of the Christian sinners.”

I watched the stranger walk up to the lectern. All of us were cheering and applauding as loudly as we could. Here was our champion ready to lead us. He stretched out his arms indicating we should quiet down. We did. There was almost instant silence.

He began to speak, “This will come as a surprise but I am here to tell the officials beside me and all of you that the Christians are right and we are wrong.” He paused to let his words sink in.

My mouth dropped open. What did he just say? The priests were looking at each other, as surprised as I was, wondering what to do. One rose and tried to push Saul aside. Saul brushed him away and continued. “You must believe me! I, the man who once delighted in destroying Christians, have come here to say I was wrong. I now say that Jesus is the Son of God and He is the only way to eternal life. I stake my life on it.”

Suddenly I thought, “I need to rethink what I believe.” I watched as the Priests hustled Saul off the platform and out of sight.

We got up to leave. I could tell everyone was just as surprised as me.

 

November

KJV or NIV Sunday School Class Study Guide?; Last year the Men’s class used the NIV based study guide and the Ladies' class used the KJV based guide. This year, in the interest of bulk buying to save money, we decided to just use the KJV based guide.

I am sorry we did and will urge us to switch to the NIV based guide next year. I am aware there are folks who believe the KJV was divinely inspired without the suspected spin to please King James and, despite being based on translations with errors, is the only true version.

In favor of the newer version, I would like to say that English sentence construction, word meaning, and grammar have changed a lot from the 1600s to now. Further, it is certainly possible to express God’s word in current English. A version reflecting the here and now, providing that it is correct, is far easier to read and understand.

Some examples from our Nov1 and Nov 15 lessons follow. When the time comes I will recommend and vote for using the NIV version. Should the Men’s class pick the NIV and Ladies' Class wants to continue with the KJV then we should pay the added expense to do so.

 

KJV Act 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
NIV Acts 12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.

KJV Act 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
NIV Acts 12:2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.

KJV Act 12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
NIV Acts 12:3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

KJV Act 12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
NIV Acts 12:9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.

KJV Act 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
NIV Acts 16:3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving is a word that appears before the word Thanksgiving Day and after thanksgiver in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. One of the definitions of the word is “a prayer expressing gratitude”. The first use of the word dates all the way back to 1533. The Old English word from which it is derived is “pancian” (to give thanks).

One of the beautiful things about the Thanksgiving holiday is that it gives us a specific time to reflect on the wonderful blessings we all enjoy. While we may not have as many things as other people have, we can all be thankful for friends and family who love us and the life God has given us.

A Moravian Blessing;
Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be
And bless these gifts
Bestowed by Thee.
And bless our loved ones everywhere,
And keep them in Your loving care.

I found a discussion of Thanksgiving on the web and extracted the paragraph and the poem from it. You can find all of the write-up at: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-great-thanksgiving-prayers/

 

December

Last Sunday’s Dinner – Many thanks  all the chefs and all the donors for a wonderful Christmas Dinner last Sunday.  As a nearby Pastor once said, “Swallowship is a good thing.” Another name for such a feast was "Eatin Meetin,"

Christmas Card; The staff at The Chatter is too lazy to send individual Christmas cards to all of you. Instead, there is one card on the bulletin board for all of you. 

Page Filling Trivia - Gunsmoke; I just started listening to CDs of the old Gunsmoke radio show. The original pilot episode of Gunsmoke was entitled "Mark Dillon Goes to Gouge Eye" and was recorded twice. The first was on June 11, 1949, with Rye Billsbury as Dillon and the second on July 15, 1949, with Howard Culver in the lead. Neither pilot was aired. The hero’s name was Mark, not Matt, Dillon. I just finished hearing the two pilot recordings.

Full time broadcasting began on April 26, 1952 on the CBS network. It ran until June 11, 1961. The series featured William Conrad as Matt Dillon. William Conrad is probably better known to you youngsters as either Cannon or the fatman in Jake and the Fatman.

The Gunsmoke TV series began in 1955 with James Arness as Matt Dillon and ran for 20 years.

Commercials on TV; Back in the 60s there were 51minutes of program and 9 minutes if commercials per hour on the average. In 2013 there were 42 minutes of program (not very good, I might add) and 18 minutes of commercials per hour on the average.

Some channels often run movies at 35 minutes of movie and 25 minutes of commercials (usually 7 minutes of movie/5minutes of ads) per hour. Hallmark is a prime example of this ratio.

Another trick that is used on reruns made at the 51 min/9 min ratio is to run the program 7.5% faster to shorten the program time and lengthen the ad time by 4 minutes per hour.

Another trick is to run the end credits along with the next program's opening credits. The credits are also quite often cut a lot.

The changes are an attempt to get more ads in front of viewers. Offhand I think they are defeating themselves. I now tape movies and fast forward through all the commercials.