Memories of our school years never totally fade, regardless of how many years we spent there. But, for those of us who spent four decades in school... from the age of 5 to 45 for me... the sharper memories are from before the chalkboard.
Who was the General for the South in the Civil War?
1. George Patton
2. Ulyses S. Grant
3. Betsy Ross
4. Robert E. Lee
     History was probably my favorite subject in school. I loved reading, so the grand story of human history, and of God has always filled most of my mind and imagination. In the cracks in between, I stuffed Homer's Iliad, Dante's Divine Comedy, Aesop's Fables, Hans Christian Anderson & the Brother's Grim Fairy Tales, Charlotte's Web, The Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking Glass, George MacDonald's At the Back of the North WindMoby Dick, Treasure IslandThe Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brier Rabbit, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Little Women, Little Men, Little House in the Big Woods, The Littles to the Rescue, the Pecos Bill tales, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, A Wrinkle in Time, The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, ... and all the way back to Winnie the Pooh,  Curious George and Frog & Toad Are Friends. I read of Pirates, Cowboys, Wizards, Warriors, and Space Travelers who never really existed; along with scores of biographies and memoirs of people who lived all around the world. Despite the variety and number of books that I read; I was amazed that I could never read it all. 
     I learned much from much reading. And, I value that. But, my experience with the Bible was just the opposite. I found that while I could read the entire Bible through and through easily, and did many times, I could never read this one book enough. Unlike the fiction and non-fiction books, I wanted to read it again and again. I discovered that it is not only the "Good Book," but it is the best book yet read by mankind. And, the only book I would care more to read is the Book of Life in Heaven, where I hope to find my name written. 
     There are stark differences between fiction and non-fiction. The biggest difference is in time. Non-fiction takes place either in the past, the present, or the future. Fiction takes place only in the imagination, or you could say never, in terms of real time. The Bible is often referred to as literature, and though it is well written, it goes beyond the realm of literature in that it is historical, modern, and futuristic all at once. It centers around one penultimate series of events, the events before, during, and after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, who died over two thousand years ago to restore man to God. The Bible begins with Creation, and ends with the return of our world to the place that God ultimately created it to be... when all things are made new. So, the Bible is a Guide book, or answer book for this life.
     My interest in Music is one-sided... and that side is the message. I enjoy the rhythm and cadence of the blues, soul, R&B, some rock, some classical, old hymns and Spirituals, but mostly Contemporary Christian and Worship music. So, why do I say my interest is one-sided when I like some genres that are very different? It's because I like music for the message side... the lyrics, the words. And that, of course, explains why I jumped from books to music, just in case you hurt yourself when we made that leap :))) I like music that speaks of life, love, hope, passion, dreams, God, Heaven, Hell, and my place in each of them. Yes, these are all places, and I have a place in life, love, hope, passion, dreams, God, Heaven, and even in Hell. I've never been one to think about Hell very much, in the same way I don't think about death or hate much. I think about life, and love, and Heaven quite a bit. I am a Christian because of Heaven and who I will find there. I never fear Hell because I know it is not on my itinerary. So, I never talk about it much, until lately it seems to come up everywhere I read. And, in almost every instance, it is the subject of disbelief and scorn. Well, you know, I believe in Heaven and Hell. You can't have Heaven without Hell. My reservation in Hell was canceled when I gave my soul to God. Yes, that was where I was headed, as we all are if we don't change our hearts, and our ways. So, I have, or had a place in Hell. 
     There is a message for each of us in God's Word. We all have questions. I gave a question above from History. This question was on the chapter quiz during the unit on the Civil War in the years I taught Fifth Grade Social Studies. And, since I loved history, I was irked by the fact that most kids seemed to dislike history, and most of them could not answer this silly little question even halfway right. :) How can a multiple choice question like that with only one right answer be "halfway" right, you ask? It could be halfway right if you picked a halfway plausible answer, in the realm of realistic non-fiction. 
     So, I spent some time at the beginning of each year with that question, modeling for my students how you would narrow down the choices based on which answers are absurd, and which are plausible. The answer 'Betsy Ross' was a woman's name, of course and totally impossible, since women did not go into battle in history. That is an absurd answer choice for American History. Then there are the names of three men left. One of those is totally unfamiliar to most, if not all, Fifth Graders during the unit on the Civil War. That would be Patton, because we've not yet arrived in the 20th Century or the World Wars. So, we can leave this unknown name out of the choices. Now, we only have two names left: Grant and Lee. Both of these choices are plausible theoretically, since they were both soldiers, had their photos taken with weapons of war, and are dead old white guys... the subject of most history lessons. Not only that, but most of the Fifth Graders have heard those names mentioned in class repeatedly. So, if the teacher has been droning on and on about Grant and Lee, they are both reasonable choices. To choose Betsy Ross would just make the teacher cry at night grading the test papers.  :))) But, wrong answers are not always funny. 
"My Love Is Your Love" -From the album My Love Is Your Love, by Whitney Houston.
If tomorrow is Judgement Day
(Sing mommy)
And I'm standing on the front line
And the Lord ask me what I did with my life
I will say I spent it with you

If I wake up in World War III
(World war III)
I see destruction and poverty
And I feel like I want to go home
It's okay if you're comin' with me

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

If I lose my fame and fortune
(Really don't matter)
And I'm homeless on the street
(On street oh Lord)
And I'm sleepin' in Grand Central Station
It's okay if you're sleepin' with me
As the years they pass us by
(Years they, years they, years they)
We stay young through each other's eyes
(Each other's eyes)
And no matter how old we get
It's okay as long as I got you babe

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

'If I should die this very day
(Very very very day)
Don't cry, 'cause on earth we wasn't meant to stay
(Don't cry)
And and no matter what the people say
(Really don't matter)
I'll be waiting for you after the Judgement Day
'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us
Duplessis, Jerry / Jean, Wyclef

Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
     As I've mentioned before in blogs, I enjoy Whitney Houston's music. This is one of my favorite of her songs, though I don't agree with her answer. I like to listen to it because it is a poignant reminder of how we can come up with the wrong answers, if we choose wrongly. Whitney is singing this to her daughter, as the lyrics reveal. The message is very real, and timely for most of us. Whitney has asked herself what she will answer to God for the sum of her life when she stands before Him in the end. Whitney Houston was not a shallow person. She had some deep thoughts and emotions, as you can see in this song, like many of her best. It hurts to know that she was like so many other people who try to drown out the truth and reality they see in life with drugs and alcohol's mind-numbing power.  
     Besides the God Q, we see that Whitney asked some other important questions: the meaning of life, war, homelessness, poverty, fame & fortune, slavery (the Amistad was a slave ship with the spanish name meaning 'friendship') , youth & age, eternity, love, single parenting, and family. Whitney Houston was pondering the meaning of all these issues in this one song. She came to the answer that she would point to the fact that she was a good mother to her daughter in answer to God's questions about how she dealt with all these issues and how she lived her life. 
     And here I cry. I weep for her wrong answer. I ask myself how many of the circumstances of my life really answer the big questions. The fact is, whether good or bad, circumstances can not change eternity. In sickness or health, in ability or disability, in education or ignorance, in love or alone, in wealth or poverty, in our own homes, nursing homes or homeless, childless or single parenting or grand-parenting; in all these circumstances God is the Giant stooping to take the grain of sand from my palm, or replace it with another of his choosing when He answers my prayer.
Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. Luke 23:4 
     Resurrection Sunday approaches. And eternity is always with us. Have your answers ready as a quiz will follow.
     I woke up again this morning, thinking it was 4:30. That's what my phone said when I woke the daydream screensaver. But, realizing Larry was already gone and the coffee on my nightstand was cold, I refreshed the connection on my phone and saw it was 6:30. Ouch! How did I fall back to sleep. How will I ever get moving? Ouch!
     As Travis brought me a fresh cup of java, and helped me into my recliner, I moaned about "having to pay the power bill before I could get ready to go. Then it hit me. I get to pay my light bill! That's a good thing to have things to pay for. Travis agreed with me, and added that at least we can pay it online nowadays instead of more driving. This frees up more time on days like today. And, there is a good side to most everything.
Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
     Take President Obama. (Please!) Let me explain. (Please!) It is obvious I am not pleased with the direction he has taken our country. I don't want to get into that. But, here is one of my favorite musicians, singing one of the awesome songs I love to sing. But, wasn't he so overjoyed?! And, it is worth overlooking the failure of his hopes just to see that he was so happy for a moment. Didn't he almost have it all?! makes an awesome sound. He has a magnetic, energetic personality, coupled with this extra energy that makes you want to get up and dance. So... I'm dancing in my heart and mind as I sip my coffee and... pay bills online lol. My feet just can't keep up. And, I am glad to be reminded that somebody is happy Obama is president, whatever the reason.
     Maybe you don't see my point... you're not looking at the "All is in vain!" side of this point are you???! I've noticed a fact. The more pain I am in; the deeper the sense of joy I feel at the simple pleasures. And, the bonus is that the pleasure overrides the pain. Our brains are made like that. Pain sensations are temporarily blocked while pleasure sensations travel through the "gateway" of our neurons. The path is blocked to pain sensation. Pleasure numbs pain. This natural euphoria is not equal to the numbness that comes from drugs or alcohol. It is a natural sense of accepting the bad with the good. And, God gives us what we need, though the rain falls on us all.
     It is not that I don't see the empty half of a glass. It is simply that I remember the taste of the drink I already enjoyed. So, today I pay bills, go to the doctor in Atlanta, and after that... I'm in Atlanta and who knows?! But, first I have to get moving :)
     What are you waiting on? Expecting something? Looking for something to happen here? Well, this is a blog, so I suppose there should be a message here. All right then, it is time.
     Angels proclaimed the first invitation to those awaiting the delivery of Emmanuel--God with us. Tomorrow, on the final Sunday morn before Christmas, messengers from heaven will deliver the word of heaven's Child. I hope you will be there to receive the glad tidings that Jesus Christ is born in our hearts and lives. And, yet he lives now.
     Who will these messengers be? Just the stars from heaven who appear behind the holy desk each week to speak the Word... whatever the price may be. Revelation 1:20 Close your eyes. Now picture this. Do you have your eyes closed? Then how are you reading these directions? I thought so. Ok, just read on first. Imagine just the blackness of night overhead; the sky in darkness surrounds you. Suddenly, the stars twinkle on through the darkness of the heavens, and you can see. Go ahead and close your eyes now, and just see this for yourself.
     What did you see there by the light of those sudden appearing stars? Whatever you saw there bathed in the starlight, chances are that is very important to you. Now, with your eyes open, picture your world without that which you saw bathed in the starlight a moment ago. Would it matter? This is what John saw on the isle of Patmos... nothing that mattered to him anymore on Earth. Everything that mattered here below was gone. All that remained worth seeing required that he lift his head... the stars and beyond. And, so it was with the Jews awaiting their Messiah at a time when men were counted.

On a day when men were counted, God became the Son of Man,
That His name in every census should be entered was His plan.
God, the Lord of all creation, humbly takes a creature’s place;
He whose form no man has witnessed has today a human face.

On a night, while silent shepherds watched their flocks upon the plain,
Came a message with its summons brought by song of angel train:
Lo, in Bethlehem’s little village has arrived the shepherd King,
And each shepherd to his Master must his sheep as offering bring.

When there shone the star of David in the spangled eastern sky,
Kings arrived to pay their homage to the Christ, the Lord most high.
Yet not all, for lo, there soundeth through the streets a fearful cry;
For a king who will not worship has decreed that Christ must die.

Yet it’s Christmas, and we greet Him, coming even now to save;
For the Lord of our salvation was not captive to the grave.
Out of Egypt came the Savior, man’s Immanuel to be--
Christmas shines with Easter glory, glory of eternity.
---On a Day When Men Were Counted; Korean Christmas Hymn
; Daniel T. Niles

The Census was taken during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – AD 14), when Cyrenius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of Judea and the imposition of direct Roman rule. The Carol at left was written about this time of taxation and census at the time of Jesus' birth, and how it relates to the fact that God is counting the souls of mankind today.
Luke 2:10-14 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
     An amazing message that night... was received by the shepherds there on the hillside outside Bethlehem. This message was an invitation. It required an action to follow it up. What should they do about this message from heaven... this invitation?
Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
     They wanted to see it for themselves. Had not the angels themselves said that they would find the babe? And so they did. And, they fell at the feet of the babe in a manger, giving a gift of worship to the newborn King of Creation. For now, you will hear the word of God only from earthly messengers, such as Ministers and teachers. But, there will come a day when angels from heaven will again proclaim the Word of God to men.
Revelation 14:6-7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
     Oh, but you can hear the Good News now! Don't wait any longer. The Word is very near you... even in your mouth. Romans 10:8 Just go for yourself to find the King of Glory, while you are still under the light of the stars.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
     He had never heard the word love. Born in captivity, Shin Hyon-Song grew up without hearing the beautiful melodies of his homeland. His only crime was his blood, guilty to the third generation for the crimes of two uncles. Having betrayed his own Mother and brother to guards, he watched their execution with mixed feelings of anger and hatred toward them for causing his own suffering.
Shen in prison after tortures. Screenshot taken from "Camp 14: Total Control Zone" Documentary
“Kid, you have a lot of days to live,” Uncle said. “They say the sun shines even on mouse holes.” -Harden, Blaine (2012-03-29). Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom inthe West (p. 61). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
      Shin had never heard the lovely Korean melodies and joyful music of his countrymen. He grew up without song, jokes, riddles, or literature. His father and mother had been rewarded for "hard work" in the prison camp by being assigned as husband and wife, and were allowed to visit each other about 5 times a year. Working 15 hour days as a "student" in the coal mines, and never having enough to eat, Shin competed with his mother for food and foraged for rodents and insects to survive.
Click image to open book page on Amazon
"North Korea’s labor camps have now existed twice as long as the Soviet Gulag and about twelve times longer than the Nazi concentration camps." -Harden, Blaine (2012-03-29). Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom inthe West (p. 4). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
     Shin was born and raised in a mountainous prison camp in North Korea. He suffered hunger, tortures, the total absence of love and affection, and grew up without moral training of any kind. When he heard of China: a place that sounded like heaven, he had no idea what the word love means, let alone forgiveness. He escaped at the age of 23 into a whole new world that he had never even known existed, without a song to sing. Now, the memories, the guilt he found in society, and the nightmares haunt him. Only eight years later has he found some level of self-acceptance and peace.
A view of the massive prison camp where Shen grew up in North Korea; between the Purok Mountain and the Thedong River
Psalms 88:2-6 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
     And yet, despite escaping from the darknesses Shin's life had meandered through, like the Thedong River he found himself drifting, lost in the free world through several years of freedom. The need for individual choices and making his own decisions, the pressure of dealing with paper money and holding a job, and coping with the new morality and the realization of his own anger over the past have all made life seem almost unbearable on the outside of a prison camp for Shin. Shin himself noted that during his initial free life in Seoul, South Korea, he began to notice that people were committing suicide almost every day. The suicide rate in South Korea is one of the highest in the world. But, among children born in the prison camps of North Korea, the will to live was strong even when they were starving. He attributes this to the fact that they didn't know a different life existed. They accepted the world as it was. There was no hope of free life anywhere ever. It was only when he began to talk to a fellow inmate who had lived outside prison camps that he realized there was something better, and began to plot an escape. We are all like that. We accept what circumstances dish out, unless we open our eyes to the fact that things can always be improved. Only when we realize that the sun even shines in our valley will we rise up out of the darkness! And, it is that hope that will propel us forward. I highly recommend Shin's story; the book and the documentary. Below, I have included several links for further information on this critical situation as well. Remember the inmates of prison camps all over the world when you pray.

      Is God in Nature? Or, is nature in God? It seems we all are looking for someone to save us… save us from the small sufferings of our own circumstances. But, if we could rise a little higher than our own eye level; we might see our needs as God sees them. That could be a shocking revelation.  Actually, the Bible has stories of believers who were taken in the spirit realm from where they were, to another place to see what God wanted them to see about their world, their country, and their own soul; like Ezekiel, John, and Paul. But, for our own purposes today, I’d like to transport you… via video… to a higher place.

Aerial Photo Collection, Vicky Hunt at Berry College Viking Trail
     I shot a buck! :) I was amazed at how close the deer allowed me to come with my drone! Surprisingly, the deer were just as inquisitive about the drone as I was about them. The fawns ran first, to the bucks and does. It looked as if they were given some type of, “Go straight to our hiding place!” signal from the adults, after which they ran along. But, the bucks stayed right there, glancing from the drone, to each other quizzically. They seemed to wonder what type of winged creature this might be with the whirring blades and blinking lights. Contrary to the opinion of many, we cannot prove that they were not thinking about, even wondering, what the drone might be. All we know is that they run in herds, and they are beautiful.
     Actually, we also know that they may prove great as dinner steaks, depending on whether or not you are a vegetarian. Personally, I am not above eating deer meat given to me by my hunting friends. :) But, as a personal preference, I don’t think I would ever want to shoot an animal with anything other than a camera. I cleaned a catfish my sons caught in a lake next door once, and had a difficult time since I had only watched it being done as a child. Once I got the hang of what I was doing, the one fish made a whole meal for me and my two sons. But, that one experience was enough, and I do love watching animals in the wild. I always called my classroom lessons on various animals, “living labs” because I never had my students hurt an animal. I brought in living creatures instead, assuming you could learn more about life that way than by killing, as I had to do in High School Biology. I didn’t enjoy dissection. And, I wouldn’t enjoy watching an animal fall under my aim.
     Noah's son Ham's grandson Nimrod was the first to be mentioned in the Bible as a hunter. But Nimrod's Uncle Lud's people became known for expertise in the bow. "He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD." Genesis 10:9 (That's Noah-Ham-Cush-Nimrod.) Adam was a farmer... but no livestock. Just fruit, nuts, and berries. Cain continued his Dad's farming work. Abel was a keeper of sheep, which leads you to believe he was a meat eater. So, there actually WERE meat eaters before the flood, just not named because the meat eating habit was something they had acquired on their own. God sanctioned it after the flood with the stipulation that the meat be cooked, and hunting probably became common, because Noah's sons all built cities. Cities have many residents, and all those people with no Kroger in sight... hunters had to be in demand lol! But, the point was that God only allowed meat-eating permissively. That was not His original design for us. He had better plans. We fall short of His best at the dinner table, and in health as a result.
     Many people throughout history came to view the living creatures, and even the living plants and trees, as a source of comfort and nourishment. Because of this, they came to be worshipped as gods, right along with God. The god of the hunt was one such god created by the hands and mind of man. These false gods were built as visible items to worship. For example, a man would cut down a tree, and build himself a house, and a warm fire with the leftover pieces of wood. He had a roof over his head, and a full stomach from the meal he cooked on the fire, and the heat it provided warmed him as well. So, he would take a piece of the tree and carve a god to worship for the food, shelter, and warmth. Some cultures developed the idea that nature itself had a spirit. The wolves were spirit gods. Trees had their own spirits. And, even the water and music had gods over them. The whole idea was that they could see this god with their own eyes, for they had made him with their own hands… from a dead stump.
     The one true God of the Universe created everything that we see around us, yet none of it created Him.  The fact is, it would be impossible for a person to create his own god. Anything that we can make ourselves is less than we are. God, however, is so much more than we could ever become. So, the natural world around us is beautiful, and useful, and good; a thing to be desired by all. The natural world was provided by the true, living God for our enjoyment. But, the gift is not to be worshipped instead of the Giver. God gave all. Shouldn’t He be the one to whom we bestow our thanks? Otherwise, try an experiment with the idle idol gods of nature. When you are hungry for dinner, go bow before a tree and ask humbly for dinner. When you finish praying to the deaf, open your eyes and take what fruits, nuts, and berries may be growing nearby, because that is all you will receive from your tree prayers. The same holds true for anything in this world that we worship outside of God; even American Idle Idols.
     Now, go ahead and forget about worshipping nature. It is beautiful and restful here with the deer, but come with me to the point of what it is that you and I really need and want from God. From a God’s Eye view on our own soul, our biggest problem is our sin problem. We sin against God’s laws. We sin against our fellow man. We even sin against our own body and soul. Everything that we suffer from is the result of sin on earth, and the fall of original mankind. This does not mean that if you are suffering, you must have sinned. No, it only means we suffer as a consequence of sin; our own, or the sins of others. An example is when one parent won’t work and provide for his children, those children will suffer for his sin. They did nothing wrong, yet they suffered with him for his sin. Another example is people who lose loved ones at the hands of drunk drivers. 
     “Where’s God in all of this tragedy and suffering?” God is right there in the field of deer. God is right here beside me.  Yes, God is there in the room with you now. The Spirit of God is omnipresent, or all around us. He has all power in heaven and earth to meet your needs. And, just as the deer long for the water brooks, our souls long to have a true God to worship. Go ahead and try that prayer to the living God now. You do not need to see Him with your eyes, to feel His presence in your life. Where’s God? He is everywhere the deer can run. So… stop running dear.
As the Deer lyrics:
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee

You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee

You're my friend and you are my brother
Even though you are a king
I love you more than any other
So much more than anything

You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee

I want you more than gold or silver,
only you can satisfy.
You alone are the real joygiver
and the apple of my eye.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee.
Psalms 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
Are we biting off more than we want to chew with Genetic Engineering?Technology is a bridge between man and robots. But, are we losing our life in efforts to create and destroy the life that God has already given us?
If you've given much thought to cloning and stem cell research, then you've probably considered numerous ethical questions. The movie, Multiplicity, with Michael Keaton starring as Doug, Doug, Doug, & Doug, is a hilarious look at some of the issues on the lighter side. Look for Dolly Parton, Dolly the Clone Sheep, and notes on the topic on tonight's podcast at the Podcast page. Or, you can listen on the player below. 
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Dolly Parton (center) with costars in the popular movie "Nine to Five," which ironically dealt with the issue of women being used without credit for monetary gain in the business world. Today, the womb is big business.
Professor Ian Wilmut with Dolly the Cloned Sheep
Theme Music:
"I Choose to Praise You"
Used by permission from Mark Snyder
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective

Vocals by Helene Immel

Tree Hill Collective’s music may be purchased at:

     And so, He reached the top of the ladder of success, achieved his life-long dream, and was the epitome of a rags to riches story. And, he never even had to lift a finger to wipe out his enemy, because it was taken care of by someone else. Then, there in his finest hour, he turned to his employees with a question.
 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake? -2 Samuel 9:1
     Did Saul have any grandchildren remaining who David could be kind to, in memory of Saul's son Jonathan? David and Jonathan had been best friends. Perhaps the saddest song in Scripture was the lament cried by David when he first heard of his friend's death...
The beauty of Israel is slain upon your high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. -2 Samuel 1:19-23
     Now, Jonathan was gone, and David wanted to find one person who came from Jonathan's family to show mercy, for Jonathan's memory. This moment is where we find Mephibosheth, another one of the mighty who had fallen in Saul's house. Yes, he was a direct son of Jonathan, and his name meant 'dispeller of shame' alluding to the fact that he might bring honor on his family and take away their shame. Obviously Jonathan felt shame at the deeds of his father as some point. But, during the war, his nurse had dropped baby Mephibosheth fleeing for his life. So, he had grown up crippled, but hidden safely from Saul's enemies. Now, a grown man with a young son of his own named Mica, Mephibosheth was handicapped and without a throne to inherit when he was called by the king.
     I will stop the story of Mephibosheth here, and point you to a page on my Sunrise Scriptures website for more on Mephibosheth. I wrote "The King's Table" there. I also have it in Spanish at "La Mesa del Rey" on my Donde Esta Dios? website, though I was unable to accurately translate the later update into correct Spanish ... (sheepish admission.)
     Now to get to a new point I only noticed tonight about Mephibosheth, namely that the town he was from was called Lo-debar, which is Hebrew for "a place without pasture." What's more, he was living in the house of a man named Machir, which means sold man, or sold into slavery. Machir was the son of Ammiel,which means a group of people or a flock, (as in a church congregation.) Of course, most people pick names that are meaningful to them, and in that day many picked names with symbolic meanings. But, regardless of the reason the names were chosen, here you had a sold man who came from a great flock, living in a land with no pasture. There is so much in that little bit of names that identifies the state the people were living in emotionally. But, there's more. Mephibosheth was literally now without estate, or pasture so to speak. Not only was he no longer in line for the throne, but he was unable to walk. You can imagine the unhappiness of a man who was told he came from the palace, and was a grandchild of the king, but he couldn't walk and he had no home of his own or surviving lineage. He lived in someone else's home.
     Needless to say, when David sent for him, he had to wonder if David was going to kill the surviving member of Saul's family, like he did the others after Saul's death. But, though the Bible doesn't mention that the servant Ziba told David Mephibosheth's name, David called him by name when he bowed before him. Perhaps there was some resemblance to Jonathan, and it may be that David had known Jonathan's boy when he was a baby, before the family's fall... and before that of Mephibosheth. Either way, Mephibosheth was called by the King, and given all the inheritance of his family for his father Jonathan's sake. David showed mercy on him simply to honor the memory of a friend. He called him out of a place of great misery to sit daily at the table of the king, as a prince.
...from now on you will live in the King's House, eat at the King's table, wear the clothes of the King, sit alongside the King, never know misery again... and say goodbye to Lodebar... your life will never be the same... -translated from the Spanish lyrics of "The King Called You" by Danny Berrios 
*** Note: I do not believe the song is available in English. Sorry. I could find nothing in English to compare to the song either. But, the story is in every language... in your Bible. :)
     As a young teenager, I would lay awake nights wondering if God was real. I had been searching for Him for years. In the limits of my 13 year old mind, I came to the conclusion one night that, "If God is real, He is so far away that I will never know Him." God must have been listening to me as I exhausted my limited knowledge of His whereabouts, for it was only shortly after I turned 14 that I met Him, at a Pentecostal altar in a campground open air tabernacle. The Preacher had preached the night before on how we all were like sheep gone astray from God, and all our attempts to find God were like filthy rags. But, God wanted us anyways. He wanted to make our lives clean.
     I had decided then that I wanted Jesus after thinking about that message a while. That night he preached about the red Heifer and how Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice to make us clean, and how He arose from the grave to give us a new life in Him. To hear the preacher speak, you'd have thought Jesus was thinking about us at that very moment. And, He was.
     I went forward at the call. As I prayed at the altar, and gave my heart to Jesus, I saw Jesus' face in a bright light, and heard Him saying over and over, "I love you, Vicky! I love you Vicky!" He knew me by name. He knew right where I was at. And, He was speaking to me.

Much has been written about a hummingbird's remarkable flight ability, which defies his size and bone structure.
For more on that topic see:
1. Answers in Genesis
2. The Good News
3. Good News Journal
See a Hummingbird's skeleton flapping at:

     Yes, God is thinking about you! He knows where you are at this very moment. Nothing is a secret or a surprise to Him. Go ahead and speak. He's listening. You have an audience with the Creator of the Universe!
     Mothers are nurturers... builders... gardeners. What are you building Mom? What is it you want to see nurtured and growing?
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
     Our goal is certainly to build our home. we've spent this week having a deck built, with an ADA Ramp for easy access, and for warm Summer evenings at home. I got a patio table set for Mother's Day, and can't wait to bring home Kentucky Fried Chicken today to try out on the deck. I recorded a time lapse video of the construction below, that is 2 minutes long, set to music, and includes info on the builders for those interested in having something built in this area of Georgia.
     Oh, but that's not the type of construction Solomon was referring to in the Proverbs, is it?! No. He was referring to the fact that Mothers build homes... the people and organization of the family institution itself, and not just the physical structure. So, what are you building Mom? Are you raising children? Are you building futures? Are you assuring maximum growth by weeding out thorns? Are you tearing down bad foundations and building something that will endure the storms of life? Whatever you plant will grow. Whatever you build will tower over you years from now. Think hard on what you want to see from your rocking chair one day. Consider the view and build accordingly.
     The dawn rises on a blank canvas; a scraggly tree, a lawn unseeded, a backdrop of mountains.  The picture is not what you think you see, but what is yet unseen. What is it that you do not see?
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Psalms 4:6 There are many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.
     You don’t see the sun, but there are its rays. First they reach their fingers across the yard, converting the foreground tree into a natural sundial, for the sun is rising behind us. As the light pours across the yard, and down through the tree limbs, something takes place. Something brings out more than the myriads of birds darting around the grass, busily collecting the seeds I threw out for the squirrel family. Something more than the light of day begs to witness to the thrift of the avian creatures; discontent to satisfy their beaks and stomachs and babes with the grain in the feeder, until they have salvaged the waste of their prodigal neighbors. After all, waste not, want not! Had the squirrel been too concerned, he would be here now to stake his claim, instead of darting there and yon. 
     Yes, something more I see, here on this blank canvas of browns and greens of every shade. Watch the cycle of the sunlight… the light from the sun that you don’t see. What is this now? The light itself is a canvas for the clouds you cannot see.  You insist that you see the weather, scant low earth clouds of mist and fog, scattered like glistening diamonds in the falling sunset, falling somewhere beyond the corners of your view. But, more than this I persist, more, so much more of Earth’s water stores fill those cumulus clouds in the sky. It doesn’t matter that you don’t see them, can’t measure their size or mark their dimension. They exist, brought to life by the light of the invisible sun. They, with the wind, are what is creating this light storm with the shadows they cast intermittently.
     As the wind blows stronger, and the barometer continues to drop slowly down, down, down, reminding me that a change is on the way; the cluster of light that hangs in the air, like some other cloud heavy with electrical charge, changes its step and motion. The light is shaken, as light waves bounce around the open hill sides, and it appears that Mother Nature is having power surges… as if we can see what a storm would look like if we could see the elements midair. The morning lightens, lightens, lightens; followed by the darkness, and the light, and the darkness again. While the wind dances around the canvas, the trees dance with their arms above their heads, and the shadows are swaying as the whole effect looks like a thunderstorm of light in miniature… but for the softly blowing wind of this quieter universe. There is no thunder… only the appearance of lightning. 
     But wait, there’s more… more than the power surges of light, like lightning bolts, and more than the clouds overhead darting back and forth between the sun and the canvas; creating this between-seasons crisis. There on the mountain tops out toward the horizon, the sun escapes the clouds; the mountains below are suddenly illuminated as with a flashlight shined from God. This beacon’s glow warms the edge of the little mountain peaks, lighting up the recesses, sharpening them for a 3-D light show of their own. Suddenly the canvas appears deeper, and extends farther back from my vantage point. No 3-D glasses required! “I’m on top of the world… looking down on creation,” as the lyrics to the old song go.
     There amid the light storm, the birds continue to dart madly around, preparing for the coming rain. Wild creatures, and stray cats of all sorts can be spotted briefly, here and there. Cars skid by in the quickly lapsing time. My husband arrives home from work. Two dogs chase each other across our view. But, I know these are not the picture God has painted for me today. They are only the visible canvas. I can’t find the words to paint the scene as it fairly crackles, like life itself. It is what is happening on that grass, those trees, those distant mountain peaks that tell the story of the unseen. Like the light, and the clouds, and the windy breeze playing the tune to which the trees dance; God is. He is alive, and there is something wild and untamed in His nature, and in His very being. We can’t lay hold on Him. We can’t tame Him; haul Him in and put a fence around Him. But, call His name Jesus, and there He comes; suddenly illuminating us with the light from God’s throne. Ezekiel saw Him, Isaiah saw Him, John the Beloved saw Him: sitting on the throne, and bathed in the light of the universe. And, what is this, a light storm from an unseen hand. And, in the end, those final seconds, God draws the night clouds over us like a blanket.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: