Damaged Goods

NCIS is off to  a great start in season#7. Good ole surprises and a number of where did that come from and wonder where they will go with thats. At the en dof last night’s episode, Ziva petitions or requests  to become  a full fledged special agent and even resigns from Mossad. We note Gibbs’ hesitation as the show ends. Previews show Director Vance referring to her as “damaged goods” which he has done before.

This really set Mrs THT off  since she is more pro Ziva and  particularly since she did not like  the term  goods as referring to an individual. I tended to agree with her on both counts. But, having reflected a  bit today, i wonder if the description is more apropos than we realized at first glance, not to Ziva, but to us all.

I do not want to go too far theologically,since my son and his wife ae better versed in that area than I. But I do want to toss out an idea or two. I think that based on scriptural teachings,an excellent case can be made that we are all damaged goods. And, by that, I don’t mean it in the way that the NCIS writers probably  did.

We are not taught to do wrong, rather it seems to come  somewhat naturally. We are taught to do right.We must learn right from wrong rather it being innate. I am less inclined to believe in the effects of surroundings  or environment on how we act but instead it is just our nature that we bring into the world.

The astors and theologians  can expound better than I but I would just toss a scripture reference or two to illustrate. There is none good  from the New Testament book of Romans and from the same source, all have fallen short.

Just a few thoughts to ponder.



October 7, 2009 Posted by | Christian living, Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gone But Not Quite Forgotten

In reflecting on the media coverage  Senator Kennedy’s death received, I  was  reminded about the premature death of a young musician some 12 years ago. Let me add this. To a degree, I understand the difference in the two from a quantity standpoint. One was an extremely well known United States senator who lived his life in the public eye. The other was a relatively obscure singer/songwriter of  whom the majority of Americans  knew very little. This individual was Rich Mullins and it so happened that died tragically on my birthday in 1997 in an automobile accident.

I remember seeing a small newspaper article the next day announcing his death and  thinking how few would notice or realize the extent of the loss. In some ways to me, his loss has been mitigated by the prolific nature of his songwriting. Not being really  qualified to evaluate anyone’s singing ability, I still thought that his greater gift lay in his words  rather than his singing.

He wrote over 100 songs and was  said to have written a page  of  prose every day. Some of the songs like “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” are a bit more traditional while others seem to be telling the story of a gifted , spiritual man, but a man who did not claim to have all the   answers. There   are words like this when speaking of his relationship to God. ” The climb can be so steep I may falter in my step, but never beyond your reach.” Simple but profoundly moving. I have many times found myself singing along(although I cannot really sing)  with tears in my eyes. He was a great  supporterof Compassion International and  worked with the Navajo Indian Nation in Window Rock, AZ where his spent his last two years. He was a     guy who co-wrote songs with someone identified only as Beaker. Quirky seems too plain a description of such a man.

He was not the norm even in the world of  Christian music. My wife has in recent days began to introduce his music to  our  two young grandchildren. Although he never had children or was married, I believe it is something to which he might have  smiled in aproval.

I can think of no better close than the title of  one of his albums- “A Liturgy, A Legacy and  a  Ragamuffin Band.”

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Christian living, Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Your Typical Gator QB

Even a nominal sports fan has heard of Florida QB Tim Tebow. The young man has a Heisman Trophy from 2007 and has led Florida to 2 national titles. If you have ever watched him play, he is more like a fullback than a QB. Of course, at  6ft 3in and 240 pounds he is well equipped to be the battering ram type player. Whether or not it translates to  pro football stardom remains to be seen, since he does not play an NFL style game.

But somehow I don’t think he minds  a whole lot. His  story is  rather  well known, son of a missionary to the Philippines, who survived  a  potentially life threatening birth to become a star athlete. But I like his non football side even more. His dad considered him a miracle baby since had prayed diligently for a preacher. Although God gave him a  quarterback, he could very well end up being both a preacher and a  quarterback. He makes mission  trips  to the Philippines and elsewhere and has an active  and somewhat effective prison ministry.  Perfect?  Of course not  and makes no claim to be.   A good representative of his school and college sports in general, to be sure. After all, the cover article  in last week’s Sports Illustrated by Austin Murphy had very little in the way of negatives.

Here  is what I find interesting . One of the blogs that i read regularly is Get Religion. Their focus is on how religion and religious topics are treated in the media, for good or bad. Their post on the SI article wasn’t bad although they noted that more critical questions could have been  asked  and that    it was almost a  fawning piece. Some of the comments I read made a similar point. True, the article was overwhelmingly complimentary, but so what? All too often, both college and pro sports stars make off the field news for other reasons. (Fill in your own choices here. ) And interestingly enough, if the “bad boy” in question produces results on the court or field and draws fans, i.e. makes the team money, this boorish behaviour or worse is often overlooked.

So, here we have an All American QB at a famous party school who writes scripture verses in his eye black- a problem, not for me. Guess I won’t have  a  problem  if  Florida has a successful season, unless they beat the Tar  Heels in the national championship game. I would have to draw the line there.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Christian living, Sports | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kay Yow

For some, the name above is unfamiliar unless they are N C State fans or women’s basketball fans in general. And that is truly a shame. Ms Yow died  a week ago at age 66 after a 20 year battle with breast cancer. I know her only from what I have read , both in recent days and over the years. It must have truly been a privilege to know her and count her as a friend or coach or colleague. She was an excellent, probably a great coach and yet that pales in comparison to how she both lived and died.

I have read a good bit of that written in recent days(today being her funeral) and am humbled by much of what I have learned. She planned her funeral, as many people do but took things somewhat further by recording a video that was shown at her funeral. I would like to quote just a bit from her comments for they are exceptionally moving and profound.

“‘…. I hope you won’t be really hearing Kay Yow speak, but you’ll be really hearing the Lord speak through me. I hope that he opens your ears, your eyes that you might see him in a very special way.” She went on to talk about heaven and encouraging all to rejoice with her in the realization that she was at rest.  Bear in mind that this was prepared by one who  knew her time was very short, but was assured of her final destination.

She was an  individual who lived  courageously, even smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union in 1986 when coaching Team USA.  However it could be that she has touched more lives in the last 2 years and even the last week  than ever before.

Even though I see sports through a Carolina blue filter, I join the N C State family in saluting one of the best. May her legacy live on.

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Christian living, Life and Death, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Have a Favorite Style ? ( And Should You ) Part II

Continuing with yesterdays subject of worship , I want to go beyond music to other elements of a service of worship . This one is not as significant , I guess and perhaps not even an issue  to most folks  . Does what one chooses to wear have an impact on worship, one’s own or someone else’s  ?

Growing up in a very traditional albeit very rural church you can imagine the type of clothes that people wore . For the most part , our church was composed of blue collar folks who looked forward to Sunday and wearing their  Sunday best . My mother was a classic example . She worked in  a textile mill and came home covered in cotton most of the time . But on Sunday , it was the dress , the shoes , the hat ( yes, the hat ) and the pocketbook all color coordinated . Did it make her more worshipful than some one who didnt go to those lengths, probably not . But , to her , it was the only way .

The ” dressing up ” approach was generally the approach I followed for many years and I never thought much about it since virtually everyone did the same . But I can remember a few folks in  one of the ” First ” churches we attended dressing somewhat casually and not being appalled but feeling that they probably should know and do ” better ” .( Now , bear in mind that I am not by any means criticizing the dress of those who dont have choices . )

Over time ,  the more casual attire has become more and more common except in the more traditional churches . In some places a coat and tie are  more or less out of sight, out of mind .

Now , does this mean that anything goes since after all , God  looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart ? Now  , funny though it may sound this is an issue that I have wrestled with from time to time with no clear answer . Having said that , I have reached a conclusion of sorts that makes a bit of sense, at least to me . One should dress for church in a way that makes  him or her comfortable or that is appropriate for the type of church that they attend . But , dont dress in such a way that one calls undue attention to oneself thus  drawing attention and focus away from where it needs to be .

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, church | , , , | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving = Thanksliving

I thought it best to say something about the 4th Thursday  of November before it arrives since I consider it  a day worth far more credit than it gets . We have all read about Pilgrims, Indians ( Squanto ) and the early celebrations . Today  I suppose a mention of Thanksgiving produces images of turkey and dressing , my personal favorite of pumpkin pie , maybe football and maybe even the dreaded feeling of being as stuffed as the ole turkey himself .

First a bit of history , courtesy of thehistorychannel.com . The ist Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 and includes some surprises . First those present:

  1. Venison , seal and turkey among others
  2. Cod and eel
  3. Goose, duck and swan
  4. Indian corn

Not present :

  1. Pumpkin pie
  2. Cranberry sauce
  3. Corn on the cob

President Lincoln declared  a national day of thanks during the Civil War  but the day did not become an official holiday until  1941 . Now , alas its probably known best as the day before Black Friday , that most American of days, the biggest shopping day of the year ( and u can have it )

So can we reclaim it as a day of thanks , doubtful, and do we need to ? The Scriptures tell us the following in I Thessolonians 5:18

In everything give thanks , for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus .

Now that can put us in a bit of a quandry . Lord , what about ? Yes , my child . But you cant mean for  me to be thankful that I’m sick or mistreated or unemployed or 100 other things , can you ? Can He and does He ?

The key to me is a little word – in – . Perhaps some will me as oversimplifying and perhaps I am . I generally taught that way . Not give thanks for everything but continue  to give thanks no matter the circumstances .( contentment vs happiness ) He is there for us and with us no matter and for that we really can give thanks .

Happy Thanksgiving !!!!!!!

Shalom .

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Holidays | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Talk or not To Talk

My apologies or thanks to Shakespeare for the title . One of my tongue-in- cheek hopes for this blog was that my wife would not have to burdened with listening to my various and sundry rants and raves on whatever topic happened to appear on my radar . When I mentioned this to her recently she ” sorta laughed ” and said now she gets to listen before I write , read what I write and then listen again later . Sounds almost like a qualification for sainthood does it not ?

Anyway, for a number of years , perhaps even until early in our marriage , I was a very quiet person . You know the type – try to be invisible in school ( please dont call on me )  poor in groups and and heavens above , no speaking in public . When a group of young people in one of our Sunday School classes was told this they were to say the least , incredulous . Him, quiet ? Impossible ! And so it is now. I dont know exactly why or when this transformation occurred but it did .

Now , I fear that I have the opposite problem . When to be quiet , when not to share my opinion, when to realize that I dont always need to have the last word . Scripture as it is wont to do has much to say on this subject – James 3 , in its entirety ; Proverbs 10:19

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise (KJV)

Ouch and double ouch .

Finally , what I call my 3 S verse- …be swift to hear , slow to speak, slow to anger — James 1:19

This is a verse that I often quote to myself at the beginning of the day, sometimes it is effectual, other times not so much . Gotta keep at it though, perhaps I will reach that needful balance.


November 17, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Family | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy and Shunny ( uh Sunny )

The above title came from a phrase that I was ” reliably ” quoted as using often as a young child . It says a couple of things , I guess . First, that I had a small problem with words ( here’s another – Esso spelled Pepsi -Cola ) and that I was a happy child which reportedly I was . As we age , it seems to become harder to be happy and even harder , nigh impossible to stay happy for any length of time . I am gradually and too slowly coming to grips with the idea that happiness is not the end all that some ( even preachers ) would have us believe but rather we should seek joy and/or contentment whichever speaks more to you . In church , we just finished a four week series on Habakkuk , who learned that happiness aint where its at , so to speak . Read through those three chapters sometime and specially focus on the last three verses in Chapter 3 . When we arrived at them today, I noticed numerous notes in my Bible that I had from a well done sermon from about 6 years ago from my then pastor, Dr Glynn Dickens . He and my current pastor , Mike Gothard approached the topic from different angles but with similar and well put conclusions . As Mike said , scripture abounds with lessons on contentment and joy but not so much happiness – see Hebrews 11 and Philippians 4:13 . So , I seek , not always successfully , to focus not the circumstances that change but on the realities that do not – Hebrews 13:8 .
Shalom .

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Christian living | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Didn’t I See That Before Now ?

I will never ever cease to be amazed at the levels of meaning in the the Scriptures . One can read a passage dozens of times and then all of a sudden ” see ” something that is new to you .  Of that I will never tire . The latest example of that phenomenon happened to me just a day or so ago . The New Testament book of Romans is packed with lots of heavy theological  concepts but also with practical teachings that can apply to many areas of our lives . Romans 12:9-21 encompasses by my count some 29 examples of  those practical dos and donts . My focus for this post is the latter part  of verse 19 ;   Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord , which is a partial quotation from Deuteronomy 32:35. Not that I am in a vengeful mood or out to get even with anyone mind you but this  is what hit me from this verse . God says that vengeance is His and if it is His , it cannot be ours and we neednt worry about the old bugaboo of getting even . I know that is such a simple concept but this time it  sank in as never before . So , as I am going to endeavor to do,  lock in this truth so that when the time comes for it to be apropos and come it surely will you and I will be prepared.


September 22, 2008 Posted by | Bible study, Christian living | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trust the Shepherd

I wanted to make a final ( for now ) visit to Psalm 23 . This is doubtless a rich portion of scripture whose truths are not only timeless but perhaps cannot be explored to their fullest depths . The more time one spends with Mr Keller’s little book the more alive the Psalm becomes . One sidenote, we must remember the cultures in which Scripture was written and although its truths are timeless , the imagery is somewhat foreign to us , along with the languages of Hebrew and Greek ( for most of us ) . Good study tools including concordances, atlases etc can greatly enhance our study and appreciation of God’s word . I had a Bible study leader who likened insights to gems discovered by a diligent miner and I have always liked that . Anyway, back to the Psalm . A quote or two from Keller :

” It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep…. Our mass mind ( or mob instincts ) , our fears, our stubborness and stupidity,our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance. Yet, despite these adverse characteristics Christ chooses us, buys us , calls us by name, makes us His own and delights in caring for us . ”

That is such cool stuff to keep in mind and meditate on . There are so many lesson to draw, I suppose I could  post far longer and more often than necessary . Anyway, the chapters of the book are organized by phrases of the psalm, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ( that may be the one we need the most ) etc . I shall close with a middle phrase in the psalm; He restoreth my soul. This seemed to speak as much to me as any other. Keller writes of the cast down sheep which is an old English shepherding  term for, yes, a sheep  that for various reasons , virtually all of its own making, has fallen and cannot get up . For the shepherd, there is alas, no humor since a cast down sheep will die without the shepherd’s assistance. Furthermore, even the strongest and healthiest sheep are subject to this problem, perhaps even more so .  The  comparisons to us are painfully  but delightfully close. As we think about the Good Shepherd’s care for us it is just so wonderful . Again, one last lesson for our Western mindsets , ” Material success is no measure of spiritual health ” . Verses to reflect upon, I Corinthians 10:12-13 .


September 14, 2008 Posted by | Bible study, Christian living | , , , , | Leave a comment