Midweek Lesson

We’ve been studying, as a church, the greatest commandment from Mark 12:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

In the Sunday lessons, we’ve covered many aspects of this scripture outside of the four parts of ourselves that we are to love God with. Of those, the lessons have covered two – our hearts and our minds. Lessons on our soul and strength are yet to come.
Q – Looking at the things mentioned in verse 30, which if those do you feel is most important? Why?
An argument could likely be made for each of the four:

  • Heart – Our heart is the essence of our devotion and consciousness.
  • Soul – It represents our very being. It’s what will live on in heaven for eternity.
  • Mind – Our intellect, our reasoning power. It can overcome the ups and downs of our emotional heart.
  • Strength – It is with our strength, through prayer, study, charity, etc, that we act on the convictions of our heart and reasoning of our mind.

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Some might be logical and find that makes it easy to give our mind to God, but hard to invest emotionally. Others find that hard work for God comes easy, but deep thinking and study is challenging.
In reality, the question was a bit of a trick. In my view, the most important thing mentioned in verse 30 is ‘all’. The point is that God wants all of us, period. No one aspect is more important than the others.
All of these aspects work together to draw us nearer to God as we practice them. Focusing on one over the others may actually not accomplish what God intended.
Q – Can you think of some ways that might that be?

  • A focus on the heart might lead to an emotional, rollercoaster faith
  • A focus on the mind may lead to a cold, legalistic faith. Bible worship instead of God worship.
  • A focus on our strength may lead to a performance based faith where our worth to the Father is determined by our deeds.
  • A focus on our soul is a little more challenging. Perhaps it may manifest itself in the ‘God created me like this, so it must be acceptable to him’ philosophy.

These aspects of our selves are intertwined and inseparable. God intended that we devote all of ourselves, every aspect of ourselves, to him. We must be careful to not let our preferences, our strengths or our weaknesses make our devotion to God one or two faceted.
Q – What areas do you find it easy and hard to give God all of? Why?
I feel as though God is teaching me this very lesson. I tend to be ruled by my thinking and reasoning and my emotions. (Perhaps a strange combination, but there you go.) I tend to give God all my heart and mind, but neglect my soul and strength. I tend to think about spiritual things quite a bit but neglect the actual spiritual work of Bible study, prayer, relationships.
Recently, I’ve felt him calling me to give all of my strength in these areas. A renewed call to study and pray – to give Him all of my strength as well. It’s a realization that the acting out of our faith is not just items on a check list, they are real spiritual activities. They work together with my emotions, mind and soul to draw me closer to God. They complete the work of my mind and heart.
In closing, I thought it would be good to turn this around and think about how God loves us.
Q – How would you describe God’s Love?
There’s a song by Matthew West called More (Windows Media clip on his website here) played on The River that just blows my mind each time I hear it. The lyrics are sung from God’s perspective:

I love you more than the sun
And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are mine and you shine for me too
I love you yesterday and today
And tomorrow I’ll say it again and again
I love you more

I don’t know of a verse that teaches that explicitly, although Jesus did say that we are worth more than many Sparrows.
But …
What mountain, star, planet, galaxy, ocean or continent was made in God’s image?
What tree, flower, vine, weed or grass was given the emotions and reason of man?
What tiger, eagle, dinosaur, chimp, dolphin or whale did God send his son to Earth to die for?
Read those lyrics again and picture God speaking them to you. In my mind, God doesn’t speak, He simply observes. Every time I hear that song, I see him singing to me and it gives me chills.
God loves us with everything. He’s only asking the same from us in return.

Ezekiel – Chapter 1

Ezekiel 1:4-14 – This kind of ‘fantasy’ type of stuff is challenging for me to read. My mind tends to wander as the description goes. I try to sort it out in my mind so I have an accurate picture of what he saw. Then I get to a sentence like this:

As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces.

Ezekiel 1:10-11

I find myself trying to figure out where the eagle face was. I assume the human face was in the front, but it doesn’t actually say. If so, then the eagle would be in the back, right? But maybe not, I wish he was more clear. But I guess the point of the vision was to get his attention, to say by how shocking and awe inspiring it was that this is from God, pay attention.
I guess I wouldn’t have made a good prophet, eh?
Ezekiel 1:28 – “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Hmm, a storm with lightning and fire, 4 mythical creatures, each with 4 faces and wings, each with some sort of a wheel within a wheel next to it with eyes all over it (“tall and awesome“) all supporting a crystal like expanse with a sapphire like throne with a human like figure on it. All of this moving and hovering around, up and down with no visible means for it to turn and change direction, yet it was. All gleaming as if on fire.
Yeah, falling on your face seems like the appropriate response.

Ezekiel – Introduction

I’m returning to my Quiet Times after too long an absence. In the past I’ve returned out of obligation or guilt, but this time I’m actually excited to get back into it, God has been working on me. More on that later. I’ve decided to jump into Ezekiel as I haven’t done a good OT study in a long while. That ought to keep me busy for a while.
I’m starting, as I did with my Ephesians study, with some background info on Ezekiel.

From Wikipedia:
Prior to the 12th century, the debate was about whether it should be in the canon because of concerns that it would be misinterpreted. No reading chapter 1 in synagogue and no reading in private before you’re 30. Later debate centers on whether Ezekiel was the only author. Most acknowledge that Ezekiel was involved, but that it may have been edited and added to by scribes and other followers. It was delivered orally at first.
Ezekiel is said to be descendant of Joshua through Rahab.
According to midrash Canticles Rabbah, Ezekiel was who Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo went to for advice on whether to defy the kings edict and risk being thrown in the furnace. God’s first revelation indicated that they would die. It was only after Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo left to their fate that God revealed to Ezekiel that He would rescue them. It is also said in Jewish literature that the raising of the 3 from the dead in chapter 37 happened on the same day that Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo went into the furnace.
Ezekiel contains three distinct sections.

  1. Judgment on Israel
  2. Prophecies against various neighboring nations.
  3. Prophecies delivered after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II.

Ezekiel was originally written in the 25 year period between 593 to 571 B.C
From the NIV Study Bible:
The environment & political background Ezekiel lived in:

Ezekiel lived during a time of international upheaval. The Assyrian empire that had once conquered the Syro-Palestinian area and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel (which fell to the Assyrians in 722–721 b.c.) began to crumble under the blows of a resurgent Babylon. In 612 the great Assyrian city of Nineveh fell to a combined force of Babylonians and Medes. Three years later, Pharaoh Neco II of Egypt marched north to assist the Assyrians and to try to reassert Egypt’s age-old influence over Canaan and Aram (Syria). At Megiddo, King Josiah of Judah, who may have been an ally of Babylon as King Hezekiah had been, attempted to intercept the Egyptian forces but was crushed, losing his life in the battle (see 2Ki 23:29–30; 2Ch 35:20–24).
Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah, ruled Judah for only three months, after which Neco installed Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, as his royal vassal in Jerusalem (609 b.c.). In 605 the Babylonians overwhelmed the Egyptian army at Carchemish (see Jer 46:2), then pressed south as far as the Philistine plain. In the same year, Nebuchadnezzar was elevated to the Babylonian throne and Jehoiakim shifted allegiance to him. When a few years later the Egyptian and Babylonian forces met in a standoff battle, Jehoiakim rebelled against his new overlord.
Nebuchadnezzar soon responded by sending a force against Jerusalem, subduing it in 597 b.c. Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin and about 10,000 Jews (see 2Ki 24:14), including Ezekiel, were exiled to Babylon, where they joined those who had been exiled in Jehoiakim’s “third year” (see Da 1:1 and note). Nebuchadnezzar placed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, on the throne in Jerusalem, but within five or six years he too rebelled. The Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem in 588, and in July, 586, the walls were breached and the city plundered. On Aug. 14, 586, the city and temple were burned.
Under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, Babylon dominated the international scene until it was crushed by Cyrus the Persian in 539 b.c. The reign of the house of David came to an end; the kingdom of Judah ceased to be an independent nation; Jerusalem and the Lord’s temple lay in ruins.

He was eligible to serve as a priest because he was from a priestly family. His prophesy and message therefore had much to do with the temple and its ceremonies.
His message, primarily, was not one of hope but of judgement. God was judging not only his people, but the nations around them as well. That judgement was manifested in the fall of Jerusalem and only after that fall, and God’s judgement, was complete did God allow Ezekiel a message of hope for Israel.
Ezekiel contains more dates than any other OT book of prophesy, and so is easily dated (see above). His time of ministry coincides with Jerusalem’s darkest hour, spanning it’s destruction.
The themes of Ezekiel’s message are that God is sovereign over all, not just in Jerusalem, and that he longs to be known. The phrase “Then they will know that I am the Lord” or some variant occurs 65 times in Ezekiel. Ezekiel reveals God through his judgement on Jerusalem (chs. 1-24), on the other nations (chs. 25-32) and, eventually, through the restoration and spiritual renewal of Israel (chs. 33-48).
While other prophets deal with Israel’s Idolatry, immorality and reliance on things other than God, Ezekiel’s message focuses on these things through the lens of a holy people with a holy temple, holy city and holy land. Israel had defiled her worship and thus defiled the temple, city and land. God could only withdraw from such uncleanliness and judge his people with national destruction.
But God is faithful to His covenant ultimately longs to save and would revive his people, cleanse them and rebuild them as a perfect expression of His kingdom. His glory would be displayed among the nations through them.

Craig Ferguson

I’m a late owl, I regularly watch Letterman and I love The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson which comes on after. Craig is very funny and a huge improvement over that other Craig they had on before.
One of the things I like about him is that he sometimes slips into a somewhat philosophical mode. A couple of months ago, he made some jokes about Pat Robertson’s comments on God telling him there would be a terrorist attack this year. He then slid right into a couple of serious comments on how you can’t have certainty and faith at the same time. Good stuff, actually, watch it here on YouTube.
Monday night, however, he didn’t just make a philosophical comment or two, he spent his entire 12 minute monologue speaking openly and vulnerably about his own life and past. He confessed that he had perhaps gotten carried away recently in ridiculing celebrities and their problems.
What brought this on? Well, this past weekend marked 15 years for him being sober and it also revealed a young mother of two, Brittney Spears, rather publicly fall apart. His comments were along the lines that he understood where she was and what she was dealing with and that, although plenty of jokes were being made, frankly, it wasn’t a laughing matter.
Good stuff, very good considering it’s late night TV. Check it out here on YouTube (CBS doesn’t allow embedding their videos).

Ear Worm

Disney knows how to do an ear worm. You know, those songs like It’s A Small World that just run around and around and around in your head no matter what you do.
My 3 girls love the Disney channel, it’s pretty much all they watch when they watch TV. That’s OK with me as it’s mostly clean, harmless entertainment and there are no real commercials for stuff that they have got to have, except Disney movies and stuff, of course. But that means that I spend a fair amount of my time with Disney music in my head.
This song from Radio Disney and the Disney Channel has been hounding me all day long. Nothing too special, just a very well done pop tune. The lyrics are the cool part:

I’ve been to the year 3000
not much has changed but they lived under water.
And your great great great grand daughter,
is doing fine (is doooin fine).

Fun nonsense lyrics like so many songs of the 80’s like Our House, Whip It and that Blondie song about the alien that eats guitars which I can’t remember the name of. I love those kind of songs, anyone else?

MovableType From a Freeloader’s Perspective

For most of my regular readers, this won’t be of interest to you, but I’ve wanted to post this letter for some time.
Inspired by a similar letter from Jesse Gardner over at Movable Tweak, I present this open letter to Six Apart (6A), the company that makes Moveable Type (MT), the blogging software that powers salguod.net. Jesse’s letter was from the perspective of a professional using Movable Type and developing sites with it and dealt with where 6A should go with MT. Mine is from the perspective of a personal user and freeloader. In other words, an individual blogger using the free version of MT with no support from 6A. One might think that as a freeloader, I have no right to complain, that’s part of the deal, no complaints. In a sense, you’re right, but I think that 6A does itself a disservice by not taking care of the freeloaders, at least on some level with good documentation and easy access to online support info (which would benefit the paid users as well). After all, we have jobs at companies that might want to get into blogging and we know people that work at companies that might want to get into blogging – . I’ve been asked by people who only know me by my personal blog for advice on what blogging software I’d recommend for them or their company.

Continue reading “MovableType From a Freeloader’s Perspective”


OK, so I’m sitting here reading and writing while my kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney channel.
Did you ever notice that the animated Mickey’s ears rotate arount his head as if they were on some sort of GPS enabled turntable so they always face forward even if he’s looking to the side?
It’s kinda creepy.

Snow Day

Sorry about the silence of late. I’ve had a lot going on lately, no time to blog. How much?

  • 2 projects at work that are overdue and over budget meaning I work overtime
  • Maria’s been working overtime too, she’s an accountant an it’s tax time you know.
  • Family Dynamics classes with means 6 hours of homework each week.
  • This past weekend was a family birthday party for 2 of my girls (Jessica and Audrey) and 2 of my sister’s boys. That filled Saturday with planning and the actual party.
  • Maria and I are teaching the 5-6 grade preteen Sunday class this winter.
  • I do lead a family group, so I need to plan a couple of mid week lessons a month.
  • We’ve begun our regular Deacon’s meetings again and this week I have some research on the Biblical role of Deacons for our meeting on Thursday.
  • Oh and then there’s the matter of this head cold that makes me feel as though I haven’t slept in a week and someone pumped my head full of slime (sorry ’bout the mental image). Ugh.

No complaints, I got myself in much of this. Just an explination of the lack of blogging.
Anyway, that’s why there hasn’t been much around here of late. But, yesterday Columbus got about 8-10 inches of snow, about 3/4″ of ice, and then another inch of snow or two. It’s all done now, but school was canceled yesterday and today and my office is closed today too. I tried to get out before they called off work and only succeeded in getting both of my cars stuck within 50 yards of my driveway. After about an hour of work (and a close encounter with the garbage truck!), I got them both back in the driveway.
So, I get to stay home and catch up on my blogs, maybe write something (besides this :-D) and take a nap.

Super Bowl Parties

Is your church having a Super Bowl party today? It’s likely, I know several churches I’ve been a part of have over the years. We’ve rented rooms and big screens to do so and it’s always a lot of fun, even though I don’t care about football.
This year, if your church is planing one, you might want to make sure you have your lawyer on speed dial:

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said these gatherings are fine, as long as the churches stay within certain guidelines. That’s where Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis went wrong.
The church planned to charge admission to cover the food tab for its party and show the game on a big screen using a projector. It also promoted its “Super Bowl bash” on the church Web site.
Those are some copyright no-no’s. The league’s long-standing policy is to ban “mass out-of-home viewing” of the Super Bowl except at sports bars and other businesses that televise sports as part of their everyday operations, Aiello said.
Places are prohibited from charging admission to watch the Super Bowl, and the law prevents them from showing the game on a TV bigger than 55 inches. [link]

Question to the NFL: Is this really the message you want to send? That you are absolutely in favor of making money off of the game as long as it’s from alcohol and not to support the youth group? Really?
I’m sure you are well within your rights and that this is standard issue stuff, but come on. This is a gathering of friends – most of whom wouldn’t watch the game if it weren’t for these parties. Frankly, in these gatherings, in my experience they are often more interested in your advertisers than he game! In that sense, they’re ideal viewers. Do you really want to pull the law out here and shut them down?
So I guess many parties have gotten canceled. Some churches, however, don’t care. Thumbing their noses at the NFL, they are having their parties anyway:

The get-tough policy hasn’t moved officials at Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church.
Last year’s Super Bowl party for young people at the church, 1636 Graham Rd., attracted about 150, said Matt Holley, the church’s communication coordinator. It’s free and open to the public. Those who attend are asked to bring a snack.
“They’ve got bigger things to worry about,” he said of the NFL. [link]

Question for these churches (two others are quoted in the article): Is this really the message you want to send? That you could care less about the law and obedience if it gets in the way of what you think is best? Really?
I happen to think you have the moral high ground in terms of whether the parties are a good thing or not. But legally, you’ve got nothing to stand on. If the NFL wants to play hard ball on this, they have the upper hand legally. You are flaunting the law because you believe you’re right on some higher plane. But what you are saying to your community is that you are a church that stands for whatever feels good at the time. How do you expect to convert people away from their self-centered, self-directed ways to God’s when you show them that you have no bones about bending the rules to suit your pleasures?
Thankfully, the churches mentioned in the MSNBC article said they would not go through with their parties if the NFL was going to enforce the letter of the law. Sadly, the NFL seems to be doing just that.

Survey Says!

Not a lot of time to blog serious stuff lately. My wife and I are taking the Family Dynamics Dynamic Marriage Class that we got trained to facilitate a year and a half ago (but never did) as well as teaching the preteen class at church. It’s tax time at Maria’s job and there’s a family group to lead.
So I may or may not post much of depth in the next few weeks, including the remainder of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.
Anyway, I did get caught up in some goofy surveys. It’s Milly’s fault. 🙂
This one is so perfect …

You Are Cookie Monster

Misunderstood as a primal monster, you’re a true hedonist with a huge sweet tooth.

You are usually feeling: Hungry. Cookies are preferred, but you’ll eat anything if cookies aren’t around.

You are famous for: Your slightly crazy eyes and usual way of speaking

How you life your life: In the moment. “Me want COOKIE!”

This one I’m actually proud of …

You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock – you’re the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

I thought this would be higher …

You Are 8% Democrat

If you have anything in common with the Democrat party, it’s by sheer chance.
You’re a staunch conservative, and nothing is going to change that!

I actually thought this one would be higher too …

You Are 28% Republican

You’re a bit Republican, and probably more conservative than you realize.
If you’re still voting Democrat, maybe it’s time that you stop.

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