Jesus spoke of the difference between Shepherds and hired hands. He was referring to the men who lead the flocks of God, by this analogy to Pastors. His insinuation was that the "true Shepherds" would watch over the flock of God with their heart and soul, while the "hired hands" were only concerned with making a living. It can be similar to the way football players play football. When a player has a contract, he knows the team has a set amount invested in him, whether he gets hurt or not. If he gets hurt he may not be able to play, but he'll still get paid. He tends to give it his all, to improve the demand for his game. Meanwhile, players who are still looking to make a contract will just be out of the game and out of a job if they are injured and can't play. They are less likely to take risks in a game. Jesus was speaking of the concern a shepherd would have for his sheep, if they were his and his livelihood depended on them, rather than the man just hired as a day laborer who would move on to the next job if something happened to the sheep.
This idea of leadership extends to nations, as well as businesses. Typically, Kings rule for life. They have a vision for the Kingdom, and hope to pass the crown down through generations of their sons. They have much more at stake than a President who only has the office for one or two four year terms. The first term's vision is often to get re-elected. The second term's vision is to repay the folks who got him there, and grease as many palms as possible to ensure his rise to wealth when leaving the office. There is no carry over, no personal investment in the country, no heritage to leave for future generations in the minds of many career politicians.
It was not so in the Kingdom of Israel, particularly in the reign of King David, who was promised by God Himself that the dominion of his throne would endure forever. Many of the Psalms were written by David, though people disagree about how many. One which is certain to have been written as his last, according to tradition, and even says that it was written as a prayer for Solomon as he was taking over the throne and David was dying, is Psalm 72. Yet, some still say it was written by Solomon, though that contradicts the internal evidence. This Psalm is a lovely prayer for Solomon as a leader of the people, and more than that, for the nation to endure as a godly people.
Keep in mind that the Psalms were grouped into 5 books, much like CD Albums, and were not grouped in order of writing. Many include the authors' names, and the occasion of writing, as does "track 72," in the second "album" that extends from 42 to 72. This "album," o collection of Psalms is called the Exodus section, because in it they sing of the nation in ruin, and call out to God for deliverance. They speak of how God is able to rescue His people. Psalm 42 begins by crying out for God’s presence in a dry wilderness experience. The singers plead with God for deliverance from enemy oppression. The book finishes with Track 72, a prayer of David for Solomon. The final verses also praise God for His power and might, and His glory. Also, notice that this book (album,) like the first three books of Psalms (albums) ends with a double "Amen, and Amen."The last two books end with "Amen. Praise you the Lord."
I've given quite a bit of background for a purpose. This reveals a structure to the Psalms. The structure points out the purpose. Nothing God has done was done without purpose. So, now to wander gingerly into this jewel of a Psalm, which was after all, David's last song. I will paste the song in below, and substitute a few words as the whim strikes me. Substitutions are bold capped, and extra inserted words are in bold red caps. If you are troubled by my substitutions, don't think of them as taking license with the Scripture, but rather applying them to the here and now.
Give the PRESIDENT your judgments, O God, and your righteousness unto the VICE PRESIDENT. He shall judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. CONGRESS shall bring peace to the people, and the GOVERNORS, by righteousness. THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE shall judge the poor of the people, DFACS shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the TAX CODE. THE POLICE FORCE shall fear you as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. INFLATION shall come down like GAS PRICES: as UNEMPLOYMENT RATES DROP TO the earth. In his days shall the GNP flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion also from sea to SHINING sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of THE MIDDLE EAST: IRAN, IRAQ, SAUDI ARABIA shall bring presents: the kings of YEMEN AND OMAN shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and him that has no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their souls from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of YEMEN: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised. There shall be a handful of grain in the earth upon the FARMS of the BREADBASKET STATES; the CROPS thereof shall TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD and THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST shall SPREAD like the grass of the earth. His name JESUS shall endure forever: his name JESUS shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call JESUS blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, who only does wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name JESUS forever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
I picked up my eyeglasses today, and was surprised to see how much I hadn't been seeing. I was prescribed trifocals about 3 months ago, and then so was Larry not long after. I wasn't going to get the glasses, until Larry urged me. I was quite surprised at the hi-tech quality of the lens. It provides 3 levels of prescription with no lines. I just thought my eyes were blurry. I guess they were blurry and having focusing problems the doctor said. But, it is amazing how the simple tasks of reading at different distances is so much easier.
When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher. - Frédéric Chopin
So much truth in the execution of that idea. Chopin is one of my favorite classical pianists, along with Debussy, who was born more than a decade after Chopin died. For me, they both resonate the sounds of water: lakes, streams, and brooks, flowing melodically, yet punctuated and deep with some real essence that can not be defined.
This idea of Chopin's that we judge our actions good, or else we wouldn't have done them holds a lot of water, aye? Only reflection usually reveals the truth of the assessment. We usually need a lot more reflection than we imagined.
The sky seems to have opened up outside; the thunder is rattling the walls, and the rain is pouring lavishly against the roof. But, from where I sit in my recliner, listening to my audio book, and the occasional piano piece, the view is peaceful. It's what I see in my head: the provision and care of God for those who are His, that wraps each piece of our day in peace.
Isaiah 9:6 ...Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I glanced over my shoulder as I made the 8th circle around the track that morning. There was no one behind me. I spun my gaze back to the asphalt spread before me. No one in front of me. I began to ask myself, "Why am I here?" Then I raised my eyes and spoke to God, "I need a miracle of strength right now to finish this last mile today, God." As the words rolled off my tongue in the seconds I was raising my eyes, I saw the sun raising before me. Daybreak!
I thanked God for the miracle of a new day. I was reminded of how my life had been before I began to run. I remembered why I was there. I began running to lose weight. I continued running to relieve stress and to build endurance. I ran for life... healthful life. I ran because I wanted to be fit.
That would be strange if I wanted to be unfit, now wouldn't it? I've heard of Mothers and Fathers being declared "unfit." Some teachers are unfit to teach. If I wanted to be a fit Mother, and a fit teacher, and Spiritually fit, why should I be content to be an unfit person? No one would verbally choose to be unfit. But, that's what I do if I fail to make the right choices. Fitness, endurance, life, those are enough reasons to run. It doesn't matter who's watching.
I love the ocean. The weekend after the 4th that year, after Summer School, Travis and I would be headed to Tybee Island. I already had my lawn chair and beach towel in the car. If you're going to be lazy, the beach is a great place to do it! Otis Redding's classic soul tune, "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay" below, reveals an odd philosophy that many of us take, even if we don't realize it consciously. It's like as a student, though I always had the same potential, year by year my performance changed, based on whether or not there was anyone who cared if I did well in school or not.
Otis (singing) feels as if it doesn't matter; he sees no reason. So, he does nothing. that's strange. If it doesn't matter to anyone whether Otis does or doesn't, then he could just as well do or don't. So, why does he choose to do nothing? I don't know, but that's the nature of the beast.
Who also has made us able ministers
of the new covenant; not of the letter,
but of the spirit: for the letter kills,
but the spirit gives life.
But if the ministry of death,
written and engraved in stones,
so that the children of Israel
could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses
for the glory of his countenance;
which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation be glory,
much more does the ministry of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect,
by reason of the glory that excels.
For if that which is done away was glorious,
much more that which remains is glorious.
2 Corinthians 3:6-11
Paul is speaking here of how glorious the ten commandments were to the children of Israel, while they were just rules written in stone. Paul is comparing those stones of law to the grace and salvation written in Jesus' crucified flesh. He asks how much more glorious the "Thou shalt's" of grace are, than the "Thou shalt not's" of the ten commandments.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this
thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 1 Timothy 4:16
To do is much better than to not do... with or without reason. I figure, since I can...I will.
***Running With Angels on Golden Candlelit Streets: The Longest Night!
Since I have already written about the Greenville Candlelight run in a previous blog last year, I will just share the link for your reference. Even though I had moments of doubt about running a race when no one would be there to see or care, I did it. I was there. Travis was there. And, God saw. Those are enough reasons to reach for a dream. Later, my Mom went with us to the Run in Dalton, and Travis actually ran it with me. That was an awesome experience, running with my son. The photo below is from the Greenville newspaper of the runners lined up ready to run. I'm in the 2nd row in the red Jesus Christ teeshirt. Below that is a picture my Mom took of me and Travis that day in Dalton before the race.
****This is 5th in a series of ten on "Blogging by Faith." As you read one each night, remember that nothing lasts forever. I do not know how or when God will heal me. But, I know I am healed by His Word. I will be healed for whatever purposes God has for my life. Time is irrelevant. Believe with me!
In the way that one stumbles upon a hidden creek in the woods, by stepping out of the overgrowth, I came across the work of the Scripture to Music Collective. Having feasted in the past on the work of Michael Card, more specifically the album, "The Word," I knew what it was like to hear music that didn't just refer to the Bible account, but brought it to life. (Yes, she said "album" because she is from a different generation.) So, it was like a welcome surprise to find this effort to transmit the entire Bible story in song. I like it, simply put. It is a worthy goal.
LYRICS: Had a dream I was alone
A vast expanse of complete unknown
Sea of glass so clear it shown,
Then a voice like thunder clapped,
As a dead man I collapsed
I am the first, I am the last,
Now rise my son
Then behold ten thousand kings,
And every creature worshiping
Every eye was on one thing,
He’s like a lion like a lamb,
As though slain he holds the plan
To make war and peace with man,
And reign on earth
Holy, Holy, is the One,
Who was and is, and is to come
In a robe as red as blood,
He comes forth
Ride like lightning in the sky,
Upon the war horse he draws nigh,
The same one we crucified,
Will come again
No matter what generation you are from, you can appreciate the sound of Josh Garrels. He has a voice like no other I have heard. It has the ability to highlight the Spiritual element of the experience of the Revelator, and draws us into the realm of fantasy and reality that combine in a vision. Such a welcome transport, such a rapturous escape from Earth, and the chains of Patmos, to find yourself floating suspended between the ethereal and the corporeal, as the beloved Apostle John finds himself transported to the sea of glass. And, there we are with John, thanks to this delightful song. Josh's song is part of the Scripture to Music Collective. As a matter of fact, he has about five songs within the collective. The Collective is building a database of songs that transmits God’s Story as it’s laid out in Scripture. many of the songs are told from the first person perspective of individual Bible characters, like John above, or Cain, or Abraham. Others are almost word-for-word from a Scripture passage. The aim of the project is to emphasize Scripture, not rewrite it; to engage believers in the Biblical narrative, and to encourage Christians everywhere in God's Word. They hope to build a complete database of songs from every book of the Bible so that the entire Gospel could potentially be transmitted in song. An amazing goal, that is. Be sure to check out the work of the Scripture to Music Collective online. Also, if you are not familiar with Michael Card, I will leave you a taste of his best in a six minute sampler below. No wonder I have so many reasons to believe the Bible, growing up with faith inspiring music like this on the radio.Transmitting Faith in Grace- yesterday and today. Nothing has changed. Faith lives.
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Sampler Medley of Michael Card's Best: 6 min.
The Word CD-
The Valley of Dry Bones
Songs From the Book CD-
Angels in shining clothes, heavy stones moved, empty grave, unused burial spices, scattered reports, unbelieving shock, faithful amazement; all the things that make up Resurrection Sunday. That and a risen Lord. But, they found Him and a fire was relighted inside each of them, and it spread across continents, into the very rooms we sit tonight. Bread, the broken bread. No longer was He the unleavened bread, but He was now filled with new life.
The cartoon above is poignant on multiple levels. How many times have you felt like you were hanging on by a thread? But, the little bird buddies are not just wondering if he is going to be ok. No, they are marveling at the fact that he is holding on, afraid to fall, when all he has to do is let go and fly. Have you ever considered what Easter means to us? There is more to Easter than a 2000 year old funeral, and even more than a miracle resurrection from the grave. Jesus' resurrection validates your resurrection from all that has you defeated, buried, held under. In short, death can not hold us, not in the ground and not in life. Nothing that is dead in our lives can stay dead. Jesus is the living God of the resurrection. Our battle is won, and death can not hold us. With the words of Mark Snyder and Jeff McCullough, remember that you are freed from death. Let go and let God.
Death Could Not Hold You,
From the One Redemption EP
Produced by Tree Hill Collective
Written by Mark Snyder & Jeff McCullough
Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others came with them.
Notice in Luke 24:1 that some disciples were at the tomb early... prepared. They were prepared to finish embalming with spices. They weren't expecting a resurrection, but were prepared. And, so they received. And, so will you my friend. Happy Resurrection Sunday! God has blessed you!
Are you facing situations where you feel caught in an unresolvable situation? We can be sure God has a plan and He will provide deliverance. Tonight's podcast is available on the player below, or at my podcast site at http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/
Tonight I have a special guest interview with Songwriter Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective. Mark talks about the "God Quotient" and how his faith influences his songwriting. He has provided Worship Leader Kits to be given away to listeners tonight. Just let me know and we'll get them to you. You can reply in the blog comment section, or our feedback line phone number is 206-202-4087. You can send media files to my Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonight's Podcast can be heard on the player below, or at my podcast page at http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/
Links for Mark's Resources:
Resources for Worship Leaders: http://www.weekendwarriorworship.com/digital-hymnal/
Amazon.com Keyword Weekend Warrior Worship
Mark Snyder's Featured Song clips are:
-Death Could Not Hold You (1st Corinthians 15)
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5kanfPU_jE&feature=youtu.be
-I Worship You Alone (Revelation 4, 21:1-4)
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhYUJ3-6FWY&feature=youtu.be
-All Glory (1st Chronicles 16:8-36)
-Let His Name (Psalm 148:13, Hebrews 12:2)
-We Shall Overcome
-A Way to You
"I Choose to Praise You"
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective
Vocals by Helene Immel
Worship comes in many forms. A Swedish proverb says, "Those who wish to sing, always find a song." Just like the old song we used to sing in Sunday School, "...red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight..." today we find all kinds of praise filling the air waves and churches. Within the arms of Christian Music Genres we find: Acoustic/Folk, Alternative, Bluegrass, Contemporary, Dance/Techno, Gospel, Heavy Metal, Pop, Praise & Worship, Christian Punk, Rap Hip Hop, R&B, Christian Rock, and Christian Ska music. But, all in the range originates from the original desire of humanity to worship God and to sing their own song.
Christian Hit Playlist: 11 tracks-
A compilation of my own, with hits taken from the charts as well as one Fringe hit by Beckah Shae. It is featured as a playlist titled "Christian Chart Hits February 2012" on my YouTube Channel.
To visit the page directly go to
My playlist above does not go out into the fringe, and I chose these songs from the Contemporary genre mostly just to illustrate a few popular pieces for the purpose of looking at the function of music today in Christianity. I have seen a variety in my lifetime. First think of the "old hymns" which are not really old, but that's what they are called because the "older generation" sang them in church growing up. These include songs like Amazing Grace and Just As I Am, as well as I'll Fly Away and Victory in Jesus. Many of them are based on actual passages in the Bible and they have an excellent theology. Some, like Just as I Am, are beautiful and bring many people to conversion to Christ, though they really have no actual Bible basis. This song is taken from the idea that we should come just as we are. Though that idea is not in the Bible, it's beautiful and is a good starting place, because how else can you begin but where you are. But, the real "Old Hymns" were written in the 1800's and were mostly written with Scripture allusions. They can be found online at http://nethymnal.org and are a lesson in appreciation of our music foundations. The "old hymns" we sang as children were seen as scandalous to the previous generation, who listened to hymns on pipe organs.
From there and not in any time order, remember the country/Gospel tunes that are so popular in some small towns in the South. I personally have a hard time with many of these, simply because they are not my style. But, many people find much comfort in them. From there we can move all over the fringe ethnic groups, punk, rap, etc. The styles differ simply because the cultures differ that follow Christ. We don't look down our nose at a generation or ethnic group for the way they praise the Lord. So, that is not my line of thought here.
I look at songs from the perspective of the message that they carry. Some songs are what I see as worship songs. These are the ones that would be suitably sang by the congregation in church, and speak of worship and adoration directed from me to God. The focus of songs in this group is a God focus. Other songs are what I consider "message songs." They speak directly about a situation in our lives, such as Someone is Praying for You, by the Katinas, or Casting Crowns' We Are the Body, or Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood, or Jesus to the World by New Song, or My Own Little World by Matthew West. These songs we may hear as specials in church. They usually speak directly to our hearts about change and the focus is on the message and our hearts. Either type can be based on a Scripture passage, and both are wonderful expressions of faith. I particularly think My Own Little World has an excellent theology of message. And that is what it is all about, a theology of worship.
There are many songs that don't fit into either of these two categories. Some are just "feel good" songs that say things that are popular. Others have a popular rhythm or beat. Some repeat phrases over and over. For whatever reason they are popular, the focus is not really on God or the Church or the message. I see nothing bad about the songs in this group. I just see them as not about praising God, and not about effecting a heart change, and not really ready for prime time or the worship service.
Naturally, I am not labeling songs in this blog as outside the first two categories. That is not my purpose. I just want to open a dialog on what it is that we look for in music in the church today. I also think we should avoid looking at genres and stick to the message and tune that we are hearing. After all, the purpose of worship in church is not that each song would please everyone sitting on a pew or chair. It is not about entertainment. But, the purpose is to move hearts toward God, and to usher in the Spirit of God with worship. I believe that a good background in music is essential for the soul. I particularly remember my music appreciation class in college where we had classical music forced on us, till I could almost puke because the sound was so different than anything I had ever heard. But, afterwards, besides learning what music I hated, I discovered that I loved Chopin, Debussy, and even some of Tchaikovsky's work. So, the class exposed me to music that I would have never discovered on my own. Likewise with Christian music, if we open our hearts to the music others choose to worship with, we may just discover a whole new relationship with God, through someone else's ears.
I would like to give you a few questions:
1. What do you look for in the Christian music you listen to at home? In the car? While working out?
2. What do you like to sing in worship services?
3. What songs do you like to hear sung as "Specials" at church?
4. What songs do you not like to hear?
Please leave comments below or call them into my feedback line at 206-202-4087 and I will post audio comments in a future blog. But, keep in mind, I am not looking for genre, merely the focus of the song that you like, and/or individual song titles. If you choose to play the game, thanks in advance. Your response is very much appreciated :) God Bless you!
I was sitting at Agatha's in Atlanta, waiting on the next act of the show to start when I got the Breaking news Text that Singer Whitney Houston had died at age 48 years old. I will miss hearing her sing, and am glad her legacy of beautiful music will continue. I have heard the question asked many times in the past, if you were granted an interview or letter with any one human being who had ever lived, past or present, who would you want to meet or write? For me, it would be Whitney Houston. She had it all. Below I have attached my open letter to Whitney.
Your music has marked much of my life. I remember being pregnant with my first child, Matthew, sitting on the hillside watching the fireworks in Dalton, listening to the music from the bandstand playing, "Greatest Love of All," realizing the greatest love of all time was right at that moment living inside my womb; the love of a mother for her child.
But, earlier than that, I could relate to your voice singing the words... "Everybody's searching for a hero People need someone to look up to I never found anyone Who fulfilled my needs A lonely place to be And so I learned to depend on me. I decided long ago Never to walk in anyone's shadow If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe No matter what they take from me They can't take away my dignity..." I never had a hero either Whitney. I could see clearly that we are all human. And, there were years that I believed I could depend on me.
But, the song that I remember most, Whitney, is "One Moment in Time." This song has left me silent throughout, each time I heard it, throughout the past twenty-five years, as I relentlessly pursued my dreams. The song mentions reaching the pinnacle of your life, the fear of falling short, and the thrill that can only be explained if you have achieved your own dreams. You were the girl who had achieved her dreams, if anyone was, every little girl's dream.
Now Whitney, you have actually reached your one moment in time, the moment where your life is fulfilled in the truest sense of the word, since it is complete. Now, you are truly in a position to answer my deepest questions. How does eternity feel?
What do you see at this very moment? Are you alone, or are there people around you? What emotions are you feeling? Are you feeling pain? Joy? Exultation? Pride? Dignity? Do you hear your eulogizing below on Earth? Do you hear your family crying? Do you see the face of God? Do you hear His voice?
Sweet Whitney, I know that I too will one day reach this one moment in time when I will go the way of all life. I wish there were some words you could sing to prepare me for that final stage. Perhaps, you have already sang that song, more than you even realized.
Goodby Whitney. We will always love you!
Whitney as a child. She was an awesome performer, who dressed elegantly, with charm and style. She always seemed "modestly beautiful."
Each day I live I want to be, a day to give... The best of me.
I'm only one, but not alone. My finest day, Is yet unknown.
I broke my heart, for every gain. To taste the sweet, ohh I face the pain.
I rise and fall, yet through it all... This much remains.
I want one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be.
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm racing with destiny.
Then in that one moment of time, I will feel, I will feel eternity....
I've lived to be, the very best. I want it all, no time for less.
I've laid the plans, now lay the chance... Here in my hands.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be.
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm racing with destiny.
Then in that one moment of time, I will feel, I will feel eternity.
You're a winner for a lifetime, If you seize that one moment in time...
Make it shine
Give me one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away,
And the answers are all up to me... Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny. Then in that one moment of time
I will be, I will be, I will be free, I will be, I will be free...
Whitney's Gospel Roots:
At the age of 11, Houston began to follow in her mother Cissy's footsteps and started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano.Her first solo performance in the church was "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
Nature has always been a source of consolation. When I can get outdoors, I always feel better than when I am tied up indoors. Today has been a good day, with little pain. I was so sleepy because I woke up around 5 am before Larry left for work. But, I took a nap around ten and woke up feeling rested. I was able to walk around outside in the yard for about 20 minutes when the rain slacked off, and enjoyed the water world that a rainy day can become.
Otherwise, I am enjoying my new fish tank. Fish seem like such insignificant pets, but they are tiny bits of nature who hold you captive by the spark of life within them. Nothing is ever truly insignificant when it changes your focus. What may seem meaningless to others, may add meaning to your life. So, aside from the fish I already put in the tank: Anastasia & Sir Galahad (the pink & blue parrot fish,) Saphira (the fire mouth,) Jabberwocky (the Jaguar,) and John Caesar (the Black Convict); I now have five Tiger Fish and two Silver Hatchets. I discovered through research that the Tiger Fish can actually be identified as male by the layer of red on the dorsal fin and the red nose. So, it turns out all of mine but the smallest are male. I named them Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, and Barbara Ann, respectively. I just knew that would be the appropriate thing to do. LOL.
As to the Silver Hatchets, since they are so thin and transparent, and since they love to float above all the rest of the fish at the surface of the aquarium world, I gave them archangel names: Gabriel & Raphael. Gabriel is the larger of the two. The names seem appropriate to me, if you know anything about the angels in history. Only two "good" angels' names were recorded in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael. Of those two, we see Gabriel performing as a messenger most. And, it is he that is credited historically to be the one who will blow the trumpet one day. Though all angels are messengers, which is the meaning of the word angelos, Gabriel seems to be a direct harbinger of good tidings from God. I like that. We all need a little good tidings, don't we?
There are two other angels not mentioned in the 66 books of the Bible, but they are found in the apocryphal books of the Bible, Ariel and Raphael. Oral Jewish tradition carried the names down, even though they weren't recorded per se in Scripture. Ariel is mentioned in Isaiah 29:1-7, and is used metaphorically for Israel or Jerusalem, who is to be punished by God for the fall of the nation. But the angel Ariel is said to be a demi-urge type angel of the earth, creation, and healing. But, he was a fallen angel. Raphael is an angel of healing as well, though unfallen. God Himself is known by the title Jehovah-Rapha, which refers to His healing power. Rapha is the Hebrew word for healing. So, with the names Gabriel and Raphael, I have a harbinger of good tidings and healing. Those are definitely good names for such pretty fish.
Why does all this matter? It doesn't within the fish tank. It is in the world outside the tank, and inside my head that it matters. The Bible says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 I like to think about angels coming with healing in their wings, and about Messengers from God with Good news. For, it is God after all who gives us richly all things to enjoy 1 Timothy 6:17; not angels.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Corinthians 5:4-7
I have chopped this little selection out of a larger discussion on mortality and immortality, flesh and Spirit man. You see, whatever it is that ails you in the flesh, in my case my health problems, may cause you to wish to be "dressed" or clothed differently. Right now we are all dressed up in flesh, or mortality. We don't long so much to have this mortality taken off, so much as to have our new Spiritual bodies spring out of these earthly shells into new life, immortal and limitless. It is life we are wanting, not death.
If you watched the movie Avatar, you see the same idea. The protagonist is handicapped, and through the avatar he puts on a new body in a virtual world and is able to run and really live again. So you see, we love nature for the life that is in it. We love living animals because they have life within them. The natural world is bits of life all around us, messengers of the life that is within us, and that Spirit of life is our greatest gift.