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Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the Holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Many Jews who are secular nevertheless observe this day, and synagogues often have to assign tickets in advance to the participants so that there is enough room.

This day follows Rosh Hashanah by ten days. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year, in which God traditionally records each person's fate for the coming year. In the following Days of Awe, the person confesses sin and seeks forgiveness for all sins against God and man. Yom Kippur, the day that the person's verdict is "sealed" for the coming year, is a solemn day of fasting, confession, and prayer.

Yom Kippur stands in contrast to the messianic system, in which Yeshua, the perfect lamb of God, has already been sacrificed and made atonement for all sin: past, present, and future. The believer has exchanged his own deeds for Yeshua's righteousness; HaShem has made the sacrifice.

Friday, September 25, 2009


To forsake Christ for the world is to leave a treasure for a trifle, eternity for a moment, reality for a shadow, all things for nothing.



William Jenkyn (1613-1685) was an English clergyman, imprisoned during the Interregnum for his part in the ‘presbyterian plot’ of Christopher Love, ejected minister in 1662, and imprisoned at the end of his life for nonconformity.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Acrobatic Swan Lake

Here's an amazing and beautiful performance of Swan Lake...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Promise of Prayer

***reprinted with permission***
The Promise of Prayer
July 2, 2009
by Kathi Macias

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Nearly thirty-five years ago, as a relatively new believer, I was getting ready to leave a Sunday morning church service when I noticed a newcomer sitting in the pew in front of me, a few seats down. As we all made our way toward the center aisle to exit the building, my eyes caught his so I smiled and introduced myself. We exchanged brief pleasantries, and then, as I turned to move on, I wished him well and promised to pray for him and his family during the week. I had no sooner climbed into my car, however, than I felt convicted of not having taken the time to pray for him on the spot. The feeling that I needed to offer to do so would not go away, though I argued with myself that he had probably already left. Still, I decided to go back into the building to check.

Sure enough, though the sanctuary was otherwise empty by then, the young man sat alone in a pew, his head in his hands, and I realized my sense of urgency had been God’s call to prayer. I went to him and told him I believed the Lord wanted me to pray with him, and he began to weep.

“I live just down the street a few houses from this church,” he said. “My wife left me a few days ago and took the kids, and I’ve been so depressed. This morning I decided to give life one more chance by coming here to this church. I told myself that if God would send someone to pray with me, I wouldn’t kill myself when I got home. I’m so glad He sent you.”

And I’m so glad I obeyed! How often do we say we will pray for someone and then forget our promise? And how important is it to obey God’s specific call to prayer? Sometimes that call to prayer comes as a nudge from the Holy Spirit, as it did for me that day more than three decades ago, but other times it comes through a command in the Scriptures. First Timothy 2:1-2 is explicit in its call to all believers to pray “first of all” for those in authority, whether political or church leaders. Are we heeding that command? Do we regularly pray for our pastors, our congressmen, our President, regardless of how we may feel about them personally?

I’ve been a part of the presidential prayer team since its inception in 2001, meaning that I daily prayed for President George W. Bush, those who worked with him, and their families. It also means that I now pray daily for President Barack Obama, those who work with him, and their families. As a believer I have no choice. If I fail to pray for those in authority simply because I don’t happen to agree with them, then I am being disobedient to God. And yet I have heard Christians complain about George Bush and his policies, as well as Barack Obama and his. We seem to be quite accomplished as complainers, but not so faithful as intercessors. In addition to being disobedient, that makes us poor witnesses to those who don’t yet know the One who issued the commandment to pray.

I for one have been guilty many times of promising to pray but not following through. As a result, I find myself becoming critical of others. Whether a young man contemplating suicide or individuals in positions of authority with nearly unfathomable responsibilities on their shoulders, people need us to be obedient and to intercede for them. Let’s commit together to use our words “first of all,” as the scripture instructs, to pray for and bless people, rather than criticize them. If we do, God will be faithful to fulfill His purpose.

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***Also, please visit, where I serve as Spiritual Director. Come as you are…leave with a new beginning! Drop us a note or prayer request while you’re there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Opportunity for Self-Published Books

If you have a self-published book, you may be interested in this...

There is a new service just forming, Vault, that is designed to get your book in front of traditional publishers and agents. They offer the first month of listing for the author free, and after that the cost is $10 per month. The publishers create an account, and can then troll the site to see if anything looks interesting.

But wait!

Since Vault is in its beta mode, the first three hundred authors to list get 4 months free. I don't know, but it looks interesting anyway. I've already created a listing, and figure I can d/c it if it doesn't seem to be working.

I've pasted a few FAQs from the site below. You can check out the site at

Happy writing!


What is the Publetariat Vault?

The Publetariat Vault is a searchable database of independent literary works for which the authors own all rights free and clear and are interested in selling those rights, with accompanying sales data and reader reviews, to take the guesswork out of determining commercial potential in the mass market.

Though publishers and content producers (i.e., film, television, game and online content producers) know a successful indie (self-published) book is a proven quantity and therefore a low-risk acquisition option, these books don't come to their attention until after becoming breakout hits. By that time, numerous buyers are interested and it's much more difficult and expensive to acquire the rights.

The Publetariat Vault solves this problem by providing a searchable database of indie books available for acquisition. The Vault makes it easy to locate indie books based on detailed criteria and keywords, and simplifies the process of identifying the most promising candidates by providing not only standard catalog information, but actual sales data, a full synopsis, excerpt, and direct access to all of the following: customer reviews from multiple booksellers, reviews on reader community sites, author websites, author blogs, author social media profiles, publicity the author and book have received, and additional author writing samples---all on a single listing page. With this trove of data at their fingertips, publishers no longer need wonder if a given book will sell well or be well-received by readers, nor if the author will take an active role in helping to promote the book or produced content.

Who are the publishing pros and content producers who will be allowed to search the Vault's listings?

Anyone who is in a position to purchase some or all of the rights to a given indie book, or who is in a position to make an offer of representation to authors, may sign up for a publishing pro/producer account. This includes publishing house acquisitions staff, independent or small imprint staff, literary agents, literary managers, film and television producers, game producers, online content providers, and anyone else who can offer authors either representation or a contract for some or all of a given book's content rights.

Once the Vault opens for pro searches, a list of registered pros will be posted to the site and updated regularly. We will also post any Vault success stories reported by authors or pros.

What information do I need to provide in my Vault listing?

At the minimum, you must provide Book Title, Author Name(s), Cover Image, Brief Description, Type (fiction, nonfiction, reference, poetry or art), Genre(s), Page Count (for print books), Word Count, Adult Content Yes/No/Not Applicable, Recommended Reading Level, Protagonist Gender (if applicable), protagonist age (if applicable), sales data, synopsis and excerpt. You also have the option to include links to any or all of the following: your book's product pages on bookseller sites, your book's pages on reader community sites, other reviews of your book, author website(s), author blog(s), author social media profile(s), buzz and publicity about the book or author(s), other writing sample(s).

You can view a screen capture of the listing form here, or register for Vault membership (it's free) to view the real form.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I came across this -- I guess it's a poem -- and thought I'd share it with you, my dear friends. It appeals to my darker, sadder, nature. What kind of story might this make?


This is a Photograph of Me
by Margaret Atwood

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.
I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Prosperity Gospel

I found this brief preview of Joel Osteen's latest book on The White Horse Inn blog. Osteen's prepub statement says that you can achieve your dreams with this new book.

Think about that for a minute.

Here are some other prepub statements released with the book. The WHI blog wonders, "how some of the following pick-me-ups would sound to believers in Africa, right before they are martyred for their faith."


Get your hopes up. Raise your expectations. Expect the unexpected. In challenging times, it may be hard to see better days ahead.

You may feel as though your struggles will never end, that things won’t ever turn around.

This is exactly the moment when you should seek and expect God’s blessings.

It’s your time to declare your faith, to look for God’s favor and to give control of your life to Him so that you can find fulfillment in His plans for you!

God wants to breathe new life into your dreams. He wants to breathe new hope into your heart. You may be about to give up on a marriage, on a troubled child, on a lifelong goal. But God wants you to hold on. He says if you’ll get your second wind, if you’ll put on a new attitude and press forward like you’ll headed down the final stretch, you’ll see Him begin to do amazing things.

Tune out the negative messages. Quit telling yourself: I’m never landing back on my feet financially. I’m never breaking this addiction. I’m never landing a better job.

Instead, your declarations should be: I am closer than I think. I can raise this child. I can overcome this sickness. I can make this business work. I know I can find a new job.

Take your dreams and the promises God has put in your heart, and every day declare that they will come to pass. Just say something like, “Father, I want to thank you that my payday is coming. You said no good thing will You withhold because I walk uprightly. And I believe even right now you’re arranging things in my favor.”

When you’re tempted to get down and things are not going your way, you need to keep telling yourself “This may be hard. It may be taking a long time. But I know God is a faithful God. And I will believe knowing that my payday is on its way.”

Whenever life grows difficult, and the pressure is turned up, that’s a sign that your time is near. When lies bombard your mind. When you are most tempted to get discouraged. And when you feel like throwing in the towel. That’s not the time to give up. That’s not the time to back down. That’s the time to dig in your heels. Put on a new attitude. You are closer than you think.

God promises your payday is on its way. If you’ll learn to be a prisoner of hope and get up every day expecting God’s favor, you’ll see God do amazing things. You’ll overcome every obstacle. You’ll defeat every enemy. And I believe and declare you’ll see every dream, every promise God has put in your heart. It will come to pass.

The WHI Blog ends with this statement:

"Just for the record, out of the fourteen free pages of teaser text about “faith, favor, and fulfillment,” there isn’t one, not one mention of Jesus."

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Reminder

Let us never forget.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 11

Let us never forget.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dale Carnegie

~ ~

Dale Carnegie was a believer in not putting limits on what you might be able to achieve. An intro paragraph from Wikipedia describes him thus:

Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (originally Carnagey until 1922 and possibly somewhat later) (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Born in poverty on a farm in Missouri, he was the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936, a massive bestseller that remains popular today. He also wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln, titled Lincoln the Unknown, as well as several other books.

Carnegie was an early proponent of what is now called responsibility assumption, although this only appears minutely in his written work. One of the core ideas in his books is that it is possible to change other people's behavior by changing one's reaction to them.

Below is a clip of some of Carnegie's thoughts:

Friday, September 4, 2009


NOTE: I'm not promoting drinking. I don't drink myself, although have no problems if someone wants to imbibe RESPONSIBLY. Just thought this was pretty funny.

Seriously...would you actually WANT to touch these lips???

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Road to Heaven

Polls asking about Heaven and Hell (a link to one from gallup is here) show that the majority of people believe in both, and furthermore that most people think they're going to the good place.

What do you believe it takes to get into Heaven?

There are of course many belief systems, ranging from Muslim to Jewish to New Age to Secular Humanism. I'm going to focus today on the Christian faith, since despite presidential pronouncements to the contrary I still believe we are largely a Christian nation, accompanied of course by the freedom to worship in ANY way we see fit, a doctrine I firmly support.

I also am focusing on Christianity because I believe it is true. As a skeptic I spent almost a year investigating the claims of the resurrection, without assuming the existence of God or miracles, and came to the conclusion that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. This truth has rocked my world and redirected the course of my life. You can read about how I came to this conclusion on my website HERE.

If you walk into a church or a revival meeting, it seems to be a fairly easy proposition to be assured a place in Heaven -- you simply say a prayer and you're set. Polls have shown a fairly stable estimate for North Americans questioned of about 40% saying they attended church (or other place of worship) at least 3 weeks out of 4, which suggests that many people are OK.

But wait a moment. Just because someone sits in a pew, and sings hymns, and says a few prayers, does that really mean he's OK? Many speakers make it sound so easy to be a Christian, but truly I haven't found this in my own faith walk. It is exhausting to wrestle with God and at the end to lay everything at His feet, day after day. Job in the Bible suffered the loss of all he had -- possessions, family, faith -- yet finally says, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face." (Job 13:15, NIV)

Jesus describes two ways:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matt 7:13-14, NIV)

The wide gate is the easy way, the way that says you can pray to God for whatever you want and, like the genie in Aladdin's bottle, He will grant it to you. The wide gate says that God wants you to be happy happy happy in this world, and he is an indulgent parent who will give you health, riches, honor, whatever, as long as you ask Him. He will forgive you even if you're not quite as repentant as you should be, because after all, He loves you. It's all about you, you, you.

The narrow gate is hard. The road to it is rocky and the way precarious. You need to squeeze through a difficult fit in order to focus on Him. You need to trust that He knows what He's doing, even when it doesn't seem like He does. This world will not necessarily be pleasant, although it can make you strong in faith if you let it. You need to give up all you have, and are, in order to be opened by Him.

It comes down to what sort of relationship you want to have with God, whether the center of that relationship resides on you, or on Him.

I sometimes listen to my ipod as I write, and yesterday ran across 4 Minutes by Madonna and Justin Timberlake. Yes, I listen to selected Madonna songs (she's amazingly talented), although 4 Minutes happened to be put on by my daughter so I hadn't heard it before. In the middle of the song there were these lyrics:

The road to hell
Is paved with good intentions, yeah

But if I die tonight
At least I can say I did what I wanted to do
Tell me, how bout you?


Wow, this scared me. The broad way, whether religious or secular, is basically about "doing what I want to do."