Updates and Improvements

Some long awaited improvements here at salguod.net. I had issues with my database encoding that prevented me from implementing some of these, but I successfully converted my database from latin-1 to UTF-8. What does that mean? I’m not really sure, but it’s now fixed.
What does that mean for you, my loyal blog readers?
First, I’ve added a feed of my activities elsewhere on the web, mostly at Twitter and Facebook, on the lower part of the right column. Now you can see what’s been distracting me from blogging.
I’ve also added ‘Subscribe’ forms to the main blog page, the category pages and the entry pages. Enter your email address and you get a notice of new posts to the blog or to a specific category or of new comments. The comments subscription will be the most appreciated, I think, since it’ll let you know if others comment on a post you did. As of now, the form is only at the top of the right column, I plan on integrating it into the comment form as well.
I hope to have more improvements to come soon.

Five for Friday – Christmas Day Edition

Barlow Girl Home for ChristmasAn “Occassional Series” here at Salguod.net. Inspired by Daniel at Alien Soil, I fire up Media Player on random and post the first 5 songs here.
Last week I said that it was my last Friday opportunity to do a Christmas themed Five for Friday. OK, so I’m calender-ally challenged and I didn’t realize that Christmas was on a Friday, so here’s a bonus Christmas FfF for you.

  1. Barlow Girl – Angelic Proclamation (Medley) from Home for Christmas
    A nice medley of Hark The Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful. Gotta love the Barlow Girl harmonies.
  2. Simon Wynberg – Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine from The Narada Christmas Collection, Volume 2
    Nice orchestral piece. Melody reminds me of ‘Good Christian Men Rejoice’.
  3. Mark Schultz and Nichole Nordeman – Silent Night from WOW Christmas [Red]
    Not sure who Mark Schultz and Nichole Nordeman are, but this is a nice version of the song that manages to fit into the ‘Christian Contemporary’ genre without being completely bland. If it wasn’t a Christmas song, it would likely not succeed there.
  4. Vince Guaraldi Trio – O Tannenbaum from A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Awesome piano, bass and snare drum jazz version, as you’d expect from the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
  5. Straight No Chaser – the Twelve Days of Christmas from Christmas Cheer [Deluxe]
    No, I didn’t orchestrate this based on Dad’s comment from last week, it came up on it’s own. Srsly. Great harmonies and funny stuff. “I have a little dreidel …”

Your turn, fire up your MP3 player, put it on random and give me yours in the comments.

Five Six for Friday Saturday – Christmas Edition

Barlow Girl Home for ChristmasAn “Occassional Series” here at Salguod.net. Inspired by Daniel at Alien Soil, I fire up Media Player on random and post the first 5 songs here.
Yeah, I’m a day late, sorry. I wanted to do Christmas music yesterday and I forgot. We have over 20 hours of Christmas music in our digital library.

  1. Barlow Girl – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year from Home for Christmas
    This is a new one this year, and pretty good too. This is a great version of an old classic with their great harmonies.
  2. Bing Crosby – White Christmas from The Perfect Christmas (White Barn Candle Co.)
    Is it really Christmas until you’ve heard bo-bo-bo-bo Bing Crosby sing this? No, I don’t think so.
  3. Unknown – Carol of the Bells from Contemporary Holiday Classics (Coca-Cola & Speedway)
    This version feels like a cross between Narada and Mannheim Steamroller. No info on the disc at all on who these folks are.
  4. Tingstad & Rumbel – Silent Night from Star of Wonder
    Not sure who these folks are, but it’s a nice mellow arrangement, again in the style of Narada.
  5. Trick Pony – Winter Wonderland from The Perfect Christmas (White Barn Candle Co.)
    A country version of a Christmas classic. Singer sounds a lot like Dolly Parton.
  6. Trans Siberian Orchestra – Siberian Sleighride [Instrumental] from The Lost Christmas Eve
    A bonus since I’m late and I love TSO so much. Getting the Trans Siberian Orchestra out is one of my favorite things about Christmas.

Your turn, fire up your MP3 player, put it on random, select Christmas music this time, and give me your Christmas list in the comments.

Five for Friday

Styx - Return to ParadiseAn “Occasional Series” here at Salguod.net. Inspired by Daniel at Alien Soil, I fire up Media Player on random and post the first 5 songs here.

  1. Styx – Too Much time On My Hands [Live] from Return to Paradise
    I got to see Styx live here in Columbus shortly after we moved here. Great show. Styx was the first band I went nuts over, and i still love them.
  2. Nat King Cole – Stardust from Sleepless in Seattle Soundtrack
    No one sings like Nat King Cole.
  3. Spin Doctors – What Time Is It from Pocket Full of Kryptonite
    I love this funky, jazzy rock track.
  4. Kieth Green – To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice from The Ministry Years, Volume 1
    I love the popular Keith Green songs like The Sheep adn the Goats and Asleep in the Light so I bought his complete collection. So many of the songs are like this one, light and fluffy. Inoffensive, but not that listenable. Still, the good stuff is real good.
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – Mama, I’m Coming Home from No More Tears
    Another fantastic segue from Media Player, Keith Green to Ozzy. I suspect this isn’t one of Ozzy fans’ favorite discs, but I like it. This has to be one of the few Ozzy ballads out there. Are there others?

Your turn, fire up your MP3 player, put it on random and give me yours in the comments.

James 5 – Wealth and Sincerety

James 5:1-6 – This passage ought to cut to the heart of Americans who, largely, live in a level of wealth. We may not feel it, but we are wealthy compared to much of the world. Look around at what our main complaints are. High gas prices when most in the world will never have a car. Cel phone coverage, internet speeds, road conditions, traffic and other problems that much of the world only dream of having. most of our laments are about luxuries. Few in this country worry about food or shelter. So what James says in James 5:1-3 ought to be read with sobriety:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.

We are the wealthy, what are we doing with it? Are we primarily taking care of our selves, looking for more comfort and more ease, or are we using it to help others? Frankly, it’s very easy to justify ourselves in this matter, as it is to condemn others with even more than we have. I believe that modest living has different meaning in different cultures. Those in 3rd world countries can live on far less than we can here, but that’s does not excuse us from living simply and being generous.
The bottom line is, as far as I’m concerned, God is going to hold American (and other first world0 Christians accountable for what we’ve done with our wealth. Are you prepared for that? Am I? Scary to think about.
James 5:12 – James calls us to be genuine, let our yes be yes and our no be no. I’m amazed at how much scheming and hedging goes on in the world.
We watch Survivor at our house. We enjoy the competition of it, and the gamesmanship. The game, however, brings out one’s character. Many a player has commented that ‘in the game’, the rules are different. The claim to do things there – lie, betray allegiances – that they would never do outside ‘the game’. They say they have to, to be competitive.
Folks tend to live that way every day it seems. The rules are different, depending on the situation or the game being played. There’s the work game, the school game, the family game and even the church game. Each one requires a different version of themselves. It has to get exhausting, putting on each of these roles and keeping track of the rules in each. Which one contains the real self?
James calls us to play no games. Be true to who we are, let our genuineness shine and let everyone see us for who we really are. Let not the promise of money or fame or power trick into abandoning our rules, his rules, for their sake. We follow one man, and his way applies to us wherever we are.
James 5:16 – This goes hand in hand with verse 12. We need to be open with our lives, sins and all. Let other Christians in that we can be healed. People like to pretend that they don’t have sin, or they give it lip service with a chuckle. James calls us to open wide our hearts, and to bare all to our brothers and sisters, that we may be known and be helped. It’s hard, it takes a tremendous amount of trust. When we are that open, we are quite vulnerable to being hurt. The benefits are enormous, however.

James 4 – Warning Against Arrogance

James 4:2 – “You desire and do not have, so you murder.” Was murder really a big issue here? I suspect that James was exaggerating.
James 4:1-3 – I recently read a posting (OK, part of it since I was too disgusted to finish it) claiming that to doubt that God was going to give us what we desire (healing, in that context) wasn’t even faith. In fact, it was sinful to consider that perhaps God wouldn’t heal when we ask Him to, according to the writer. I’m not going to look it up to link to, because it was, frankly, evil – a heretic interpretation of this passage and others that promise that God will grant our requests.
it is a simplistic interpretation of James 4:2 to say if we ask for it we will receive it. Note the next verse where James says it is possible to ask wrongly, for our own desires. God is not our servant, like some almighty Jeanie there to simply grant our requests. No we are His servants, created to do His will, not the other way around. We are top submit our will to His, and to interpret this passage in any way outside of that context is evil and preys on the desperation of people in despair.
To claim that healing (or anything else) is there for the taking if our faith is strong enough, our prayers sincere enough or any other such nonsense is not only a bastardization of James’ intent, it’s a viscous slap in the face to righteous, God fearing men and women who have suffered and endured hardships and illnesses.
So, what is James’ point in James 4:1-10? Almost the exact opposite. When we think in the ways of the world, concentrating on what we think we need or what we want, we stand opposed to God. James calls it adultery in verse four. It’s our selfish, worldly thoughts that drive us away from God. Get humble, submit to Him, don’t audaciously assume that He will submit to you.
James 4:13-16 – The entire chapter,in some ways, is about arrogance. We assume that we know what we need or that we know better than another. We follow the ways of the world instead of submitting to God. This passage really drives that point home, everything we plan to do is subject to the will of the Father. If He is willing, we will work, get married, have a family, grow old. It’s humbling to consider how easily God can change the course of our lives, even end them. The old line that Mom would give us “I brought you into this world, i can take you out.” brings on a sobering new meaning when God is speaking.
Do we live with that knowledge in our minds?
James 4:17 – So, James ends this chapter – OK, he didn’t write in chapters, we imposed that on his writings – he ends this section with “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” At first, this appears to be a bit incongruous to me. What does this have to do with the preceding verses?
Clearly, James’ audience was busy perusing their own interests, making plans, and battling each other in their attempts to achieve success. Along the way, they were passing over opportunities to do the right thing.
How many times along the way in life is there opportunity to do the right thing, yet we are too busy to even notice, let alone act? Many times, too many times. The old adage about stopping to smell the roses comes to mind, but instead we need to slow down and look away from our plans and our desires and humble ourselves enough to see what God sees along the way. There are many opportunities to do the good we ought to do, if we’d only be aware.

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