Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh Crap!

Tornado and rainbow
This is kind of a case of mixed signals if you know what I mean. The rainbow is supposed to be a reminder that God wouldn't destroy the earth with water again. I guess tornadoes weren't excluded in the fine print! It doesn't look too good for that fine looking house....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't Know My Own Strength

Lately I have been slogging through a few hurdles. That's right, through, not over. I have been faced with a number of challenges that have rubbed on a some tender spots and frankly it is getting a little old.

The past two weeks have been spent helping with the estate sales to liquidate my paternal grandparents' belongings. It has been kind of tough. You see so many things that bring back memories and realize that you can't save them all. I'd have to say that of the entire process of letting my grandparents go this has been the toughest.

This has left me easily irritated and impatient. It doesn't help that there have been abundant other minor annoyances to keep me worked up. On top of that, many people that I know are very distressed.

I have one friend who is bipolar and is in the midst of a manic episode. I have another acquaintance who just found out that she has brain cancer. Another good friend has been suffering terribly with scoliosis and financial problems. I have an uncle who is probably in his last days' battle with cancer. I have friends with marital problems. I have friends with job problems. Many seem on the verge of calamity.

I have also been through a very severe trial over the past 16 months - one that has no obvious deliverance in sight. I wonder if this is how Hezekiah felt when Sennacherib was camped outside of Jerusalem.

I wish I understood it all. I wish I had an easy fix for it, but unfortunately I don't. It would seem that the prescription for the moment is bitter. For some it has been so bitter for so long, they have nearly forgotten what sweet tastes like.

Though I don't understand it all, I do have a hope that somehow God is using all of this calamity for good. That is the promise that His Word makes: "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." There are very few things that I am certain about these days. But two things that I know for sure are 1) God is sovereign and 2) God is good.

I wish I could say that I was handling all of this stress with flying colors. I am not. My temper gets the best of me too often. They say that the Lord won't give you more than you can handle. I sometimes wish He didn't think quite so highly of me! I guess I don't know my own strength.

Speaking of that, I had another annoying but vaguely funny event that happened to me today as I was trying to get ready to go to jazz band practice. I had gone out to the truck to get loaded up and something had fallen off the seat. Annoyed I went to pick it up and put it back where it belonged. When I shut the door the window shattered into a billion pieces (give or take a few). I swear it was just like something out of a Ben Stiller movie. I have no idea what caused the window to break. I really didn't shut the door that hard. I guess it must be those Wheaties I have been eating! Oh well...

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Book Cover - Satchmo: My Life In New OrleansI finished Louis Armstrong's autobiography last week. It was a great read. It seems fairly evident that he did most of the writing. The style was very warm and personable. This book made it seem as if you were sitting there chatting with Satchmo himself.

I would only have one criticism. The book ends rather abruptly. It ends at an appropriate place, but literally the last page of the text is the last page in the book. I found myself wondering if some pages were missing when I got to the last page. I don't think that any were missing, but that may give you an idea of just how abrupt the conclusion was.

It is clear from this book that Louis grew up in a very hard place. It is a wonder that he survived. Reading his story made me more grateful for my rather sheltered upbringing. I think that you will be amazed at the seeming negative turn of events that led him to taking up the cornet.

I was really amazed by his attitudes about some of the things that he had to endure when he lived in New Orleans. How much his attitude was influenced by the realization that the racist attitudes that brought about the Jim Crow laws were still very much present when he wrote this in the early 1950s (It was copyrighted 1954.) I don't know. You do get momentary glimpses that he did care about the way white people treated him, but you have to read between the lines a little bit. However, overall you do get the feeling that he tended to let most things just roll off of his back.

As you read you will find that he was no angel, but his story made it clear that he believed in treating people with respect and trying to get along with everyone. I feel sure that I would have loved to get to know him. Based on some comments that he made early in the book, it would seem that I may get my chance eventually!

Last Of The Freaky-Looking Vegetable Series...For Now At Least

Purple Dragon CarrotsAlas, this is the last in my series on freaky-looking vegetables. This one is really probably a second run after a fashion, because the purple carrot showed up in an earlier photo.

This is called the Purple Dragon Carrot. I don't know what dragons have to do with it, but there you go. I find it interesting that it is purple on the outside and orange on the inside. Kind of cool actually. I wonder how they cook? Do they keep the two colors, hang towards the purple or migrate to orange?

Dad plowed up a plot at his place for me to plant some corn. I plan on planting that Ruby Queen corn and some Silver Queen corn. (No it doesn't look silver!)

I suppose I'll probably get him to bring the tractor over so that I can dig up my plot here at the house. That will be for the other veggies. I still don't know what I will plant. I think that I will do broccoli, fordhook limas, green beans, and tomatoes at the very least. I'd also like some bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, and okra. I suspect that will keep me plenty busy. I may do some pea varieties too: sweet, blackeye, and maybe purple hull.

It would be great if we keep getting rain like we have been since winter rolled in. Here lately we have been getting rain at least once a week. It is really making the grass grow. I guess that is good. It serves as an additional source of income for me. Well, I have some other things to write about tonight and some general catching up to do, so I'll wrap this post up. Have a great week, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Great Outing

Well, tonight I was treated to another South Rowan High School Jazz Band concert. Once again they did a fabulous job. Tonight we got to preview their version of Sing, Sing, Sing! and It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing. Not bad at all. Both are very tough songs and they did a pretty decent job with them considering that they just started working on them recently. I can't wait to hear them at the final concert of the semester.

One of their Senior trumpet players wailed on his solo. I think his name is Nader. (Sounds like 'Mater, like TUH-Mater without the TUH!) Everyone was cheering for him.

The band leaves on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC tomorrow after school for a big jazz festival/competition that they are having down there. They won't be competing, but they will be playing. I'd love to go down there and hear them. Unfortunately, I think they have to play pretty early in the morning on both Friday and Saturday - I think. I look forward to hearing what the competition is like. I don't know if this is all high school jazz bands or if it is an open competition.

My hat is off to Justin Dickson, second year band teacher, who blew the doors off of my high school band teacher. I dare say that he is the best band director in Rowan County. If any of the others happen to read this and want to prove me wrong, then let them provide soloists from each section of their band that can improv over jazz and swing tunes and sound good. If they can do that then they may enter the discussion. Otherwise they need not apply.

If you live in the area and want to see what a high school band should be like, come out to the year end concert. I'll be posting the dates here as soon as I know about them. You WON'T be disappointed, but you WILL probably be shocked. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I wish I'd had a band teacher like that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Between Earth and Sky

Album Cover For Jason Upton's Between Earth and Sky
I've been enjoying a CD by Jason Upton today. It is called Between Earth and Sky and is a pretty good worship CD. I like his sound and there is some passion being expressed about his relationship with God.

They are streaming it on Worship Music Radio for the next few days. Perhaps you haven't heard of that website before, but I have enjoyed it. They preview a different album every week or so. So I get at least one place that I can go to and keep up with some of the cutting edge worship music. Some of it I don't like, but some of it is pretty good.

Check out the site. It's a great resource.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Body Smile

I just watched an incredible testimony of a fellow that had been hooked on meth over at Chris Elrod's blog. One of my favorite parts came when he described the feeling of being born again as being like a body smile. You have to check it out.

Gut Check

This weekend's outing for the StillWaters Jazz Band was probably our toughest so far. (Sorry, no pictures this week.) We played at the Brian Center of Salisbury this week.

To be honest, I think that we all expected a crowd similar to the one we had encountered at the NC Veterans' Home last week, however, it didn't take long for us to realize that we were playing for a much different group. In fact, by the end of the first song the differences became evident. Most of the folks didn't respond at all to the music. They just sat there. There was one fellow who clapped for us on most songs and another that tried to clap.

When we got to our break time we went out into the crowd and talked to several of the residents. I was able to have a pretty good conversation with the gentleman that I was talking with and Justin and Sara seemed to do all right with the folks that they were talking to as well. (Justin is excellent at the ministry aspect of our playing anyway. Not bad for a self-described introvert!) Most of the residents there needed skilled care. It was pretty heart-breaking to see the condition that some were in.

I wish I could say that we played our best this weekend, but frankly it was quite a challenge. I found myself getting lost a bit and just wasn't on top of my game. We ended up wrapping things up a little early to accommodate the dinner hour.

In the parking lot after the gig we all talked it over. It had been rough for all of us, but Justin did a great job of bringing us back around to the reason we are doing what we do. He said, "If we're just doing this to stroke our egos we're doing it for the wrong reason." Amen.

If the environment there was clinical and uninviting to us, how much more so must it be to the people who have to live there day in and day out? There is no one who needs what we are doing any more than the folks at the Brian Center. Therefore, you can bet that we'll be back. Hopefully we'll be better prepared for what we'll encounter when we get there, and hopefully we'll have a better strategy to make it fun, but we will be back. How could we do otherwise?

Sultans Of Swing...

Mark KnophlerToday I uncovered a CD my nephew had made for me that included the Dire Straits tune "Sultans of Swing." I have been wanting to figure out how to play the song for ages, but just haven't had the patience to get it worked out. I knew it must be fairly simple, but it goes so fast that it had been difficult to figure.

Well, I finally went to YouTube and found a couple tutorial videos on how to play it. I was right. It is pretty simple. What I discovered though was just how many different ways there are to play the same thing. This has given me a lot to play around with tonight.

I also discovered a great series of videos with Mark Knophler (Dire Straits' lead man and lead guitar player) working with a few English guitarists in a small session. It was really neat.

I have come to the conclusion that I am just not as internet savvy as many folks. It has only just begun to dawn on me that you can find literally ANYTHING on the web. It kind of takes away excuses!

Anyway, I learned a lot just watching him play and listening to the comments and suggestions that he was making to the other guitarists. I think that it would help me a lot to make it a regular practice to check out some of these guys and watch how they play.

I have been having a lot of fun playing guitar lately. I have been learning a lot. This is the most excited I have been about playing in years. I really feel like I am gaining ground for the first time in probably 15 years. Hopefully I can keep going with it and get to the place where I feel like I can hold my own with some of the better guitar players I know. It is going to take some work, but for the first time I am starting to get an inkling of how to proceed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lovely Vegetables...

Chioggia BeetI thought I'd share another of the interesting looking vegetables that I discovered. This is my next to last one I think. Perhaps I will go out and look for some more. But we'll just have to see about that.

This is a Chioggia Beet. It is supposed to be particularly sweet. The website where I discovered this picture said that it looks like a piece of peppermint candy. I can go with that. If you are looking for this variety you can find them on the Burpee Seed Company website.

I really don't have a whole lot of varied experience with beets. I have only had them pickled. They wouldn't make my list of favorites in that form although I do crave them from time to time. From what I have been reading, you can eat the greens and there are other ways to prepare the beets themselves. I may have to experiment with these this year.

Another thing about beets is that they are supposed to be better for producing ethanol than corn. Of course that will probably be a non-issue since everyone has decided that the ethanol route was a bad idea. I hope that people will continue to explore ethanol though. There really hasn't been enough research put towards it to find out all of the possibilities or to improve on production techniques and yield. And one thing is certain; we need an alternative fuel source for petroleum.

Well, that is all for tonight. Hopefully tomorrow I can update you on the SJB gig this weekend and perhaps get to some of those other posts that I have been meaning to do. In the meantime, have an excellent week!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The StillWaters Jazz Band Version Of A USO Tour

Justin Dixon talking with one of the residents of the NC Veterans HomeThis past Saturday the StillWaters Jazz Band had one of its most fun gigs so far. We got to play at the NC Veterans' Home on the campus of the VA Hospital in Salisbury, NC. None of us really knew what to expect as we began unloading our equipment. We set up in the front lobby of the facility and the crowd began to gather.

Right off the bat we could tell that these guys were different than the groups we had played for so far. They were asking questions and talking to us - genuinely interested in what we were doing and who we were. It didn't take long before our nerves had settled down. In the picture above you can see Justin talking with one of the residents. This particular fellow was really up on his jazz. He related one story about how he had the pleasure of seeing Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Al Hirt in concert with some other giants of the jazz world back in the late 60s. We were all envious!

Sara Dickson talks with one of her many admirers at the NC Veterans HomeUnfortunately, we didn't have any of our friends or family with us so pictures didn't get taken until after the fact, but in many ways these pictures really communicate the sweetness of the time that we had with these aging heroes. These folks were awesome! They interacted with us throughout the entire show, and as you can see, many hung around afterwards to talk.

Sara was a particular favorite of the crowd. I guess it is tough to be the only pretty girl in the band! One fellow in particular was quite vocal in his appreciation! (It isn't the fellow that appears in this picture though!)

We opened the show with Stormy Weather. We thought it fitting considering the weather that day. When we announced the title of the song one of the fellows asked which one of us was going to be singing. We told him that was HIS job! Well, he didn't sing it, but another fellow did, and he did a fine job I might add.

Jonathan Eller talks with one of the residents of the NC Veterans HomeThis week we were running a little short. Our bass player, Gillon wasn't able to join us. I think his insane schedule finally caught up with him! We really missed having him with us, because he adds a lot. Hopefully he'll be back in the loop soon!

I was really blessed by most of the conversations that I had with the guys. The gentleman that I was talking to in the picture was wounded twice during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I learned a lot talking with him. I hope that he'll be able to join us the next time that we play there. And we will be playing there again. We all THOROUGHLY enjoyed ourselves. And the residents seemed to have a good time too.

In fact, one of the nurses on duty there came out to make sure that she got our card so that they could invite us back. She told me that if the guys hadn't liked us they wouldn't have wasted any time leaving. That made me feel pretty good. Most of the guys hung around for the duration. But as much as they seemed to enjoy our music they seemed to enjoy our company even more.

Another fellow used to play piano when he was in service. He worked with one of the chaplains and played hymns for the chapel services. He is blind now, but can still play. All of the residents were encouraging him to play some with us. I hope we can talk him into it when we go back.

Justin Dickson (foreground) and Jonathan Eller (background) talking with residents of the NC Veterans HomeWe even had a lady who got up and danced about halfway through the show. It was a great experience.

We had numerous requests too. Someone requested Amazing Grace and another wanted to hear Taps. OK, that one weirded us out a little bit, but hey, he was the one who asked! We also got requests for Stardust, Misty, and In The Mood. Unfortunately we couldn't just whip those out, but we plan to add them before we go back.

This week in practice we worked on Bye Bye Blackbird, The Preacher, I've Heard That Song Before, Little Brown Jug, and St. Louis Blues. I think that all of these will do well with our friends at the NC Veterans' Home next time. They will probably come in handy this weekend too. We'll be playing at the Salisbury Brian Center on Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00. I expect we'll be playing for a similar crowd. We are also hoping to schedule a couple shows for Trinity Oaks in the coming weeks. I hope that they will be as fun as the guys at the Veterans' Home.

As much fun as we have playing this music by ourselves, it is even more fun to be playing it for someone else. It was a blast giving just a little back to these men and women who gave so much for us. We can never adequately repay them for all of their sacrifice on our behalf, but it sure was fun beginning the payback. Justin said it well when he said, "One day a year isn't enough to tell you guys thanks."

Opening Tomorrow!!!

Go see it. Seriously.

Here's what Ted Baehr had to say about it:

In the brilliant documentary EXPELLED, actor and pundit Ben Stein takes on the Darwinian scientists who have become oppressive totalitarians. One by one, Stein introduces us to prestigious scientists at major universities who were expelled because they dared to mention Intelligent Design and open up the academic discussion to non-Darwinian viewpoints. He moves from there to questioning the institutions and administrators who fired them unfairly. Then he visits France and Germany and shows the Darwinian roots of totalitarian fascism and Communism. Stein also discusses the complex life of the cell. Finally, he questions Darwinist Richard Dawkins, who comes across as a smug pseudo-scientist who can't answer basic questions and doesn't know what he's saying.

EXPELLED is a wry, funny, well-crafted documentary. The juxtaposition of popular music, dramatic vignettes, documentary footage, and Ben Stein's quest for truth is often laugh-out-loud funny. At the same time, it is heart-rending, convincing and transformational. Like any documentary, however, there are very few moments where the tension relaxes, but the last third of the movie is extraordinarily captivating because of Ben's expose of the atheist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins points are easily refuted by rational scientific inquiry.

Read the entire review...

So there you have it from an expert...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Will Tease You Only...

Here it is nearing midnight and I still haven't told you about the StillWaters Jazz Band's concert at the NC Veteran's home. You'll have to wait just a little bit longer. But here is a picture to tide you over...

Ben Stein on Bill O'Reilly's Show

Here's an interview between Bill O'Reilly and Ben Stein regarding "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" and the debate about Intelligent Design.

Taxes Done...

Well, I got my taxes done today, so that's good, but I'm afraid that I won't be able to deliver the pictures and all the content that I had hoped to bring you today. I ended up spending most of the afternoon working with my dad to prepare for a big estate sale that we are having on Saturday. I'll likely be working on that the better part of the day tomorrow too. Hopefully, I will at least be able to post the update on the SJB concert this past Saturday.

Remember that the StillWaters Jazz Band will be playing this Saturday from 3 until about 5 at the Salisbury Brian Center. That reminds me... there is someone I should call to let them know about the gig.

Also remember the release of Ben Stein's movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." It is coming out this Friday night. The first weekend's receipts are the ones used to determine how many screens the picture will be playing on, so if you want to support this movie and are able to do so this weekend is the time to go. If there is any way possible I will be going to see it.

Well that will have to be all for tonight. Tomorrow we have to start sorting through all of the stuff in my Grandfather's shop and the outbuildings. I anticipate that it will be a pretty big job. Hope to blog more tomorrow! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coming Later Today...

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. I truly do have a lot to tell you about; however, I do not plan to try to cover it all tonight. Instead, I will probably take some time tomorrow (er, later today) to write.

The main thing I will tell you about is the fabulous success of the StillWaters Jazz Band's gig this past Saturday. I may discuss our rehearsal tonight and what you can expect if you see us in concert any time soon. It is likely that I will tell you when our upcoming concert dates are. There should also be some pictures. Unfortunately they are a bit scant because we didn't have any groupies there to take the pictures for us while we were performing.

I will probably also nudge you to remind you that Ben Stein's documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" will be out this Friday.

In addition to that I plan to give you an update on my sister's website. I may even give you a link so that you can check it out.

I still have a "global warming" post up my sleeve as well as a discussion about stewardship and environmental responsibility. There is also a diatribe about gasoline prices rolling around in my head too.

Whether or not you get all of that will depend on my mood, how much work I get done tomorrow, and whether I can get my taxes finished. Yes, a procrastinator to the end!

So, until later today, I bid you farewell!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thank You, Ben Stein

Ben Stein has done something very few have had the guts to do: he is taking on the religion of Darwinism. Check out this trailer:

In his documentary called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein explores the cult of Darwin and its worshipers in academia and beyond. The movie opens this coming Friday, April 18th in select theatres around the nation. It looks like a good one. I can't wait to see it.

Here's some of what Rush Limbaugh had to say about the movie:

Ben Stein has a new movie out. He brought it by my house Friday afternoon to screen it for me. It's called Expelled. It is powerful. It is fabulous. And here's the premise of his movie. The premise is that Darwinism has taken root, taken hold at every major intellectual institution around the world in Western Society, from Great Britain to the United States, you name it. ... But the point of it is that these people on the left are just scared to death of God. It threatens everything. We, on the other hand, recognize that our greatness, who we are, our potential, our ambition, our desire, comes from God, and as part of our Creation, this natural yearning to be free and to practice liberty. That is how we think this country came to be great. It is how we think this country will continue to be great and to grow.
- Rush Limbaugh

I have been in numerous debates with Darwin's acolytes and invariably they want to dictate the terms of the debate. They always want scholarly articles in defense of Intelligent design, and then sit back smugly, knowing that there are none that would fit their definition. This documentary will show you why these articles don't exist. If you are truly open-minded about the origin of life and would like to hear both sides of the argument, I double dog dare you to go see this movie.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Quick Update... And Some Lovely Swiss Chard

Anyone for some colorful Swiss Chard? I have a feeling that it probably wouldn't taste as sweet as it looks like it should. It kind of reminds me of rhubarb. I have never eaten Swiss Chard before. My best guess would be that it is like any other salad green or cooked green. Still, the colors are nice.

I have been able to spend a decent amount of time outdoors the past couple of days. I spent a little too long today and ended up with my first farmer's tan burn of the season. It doesn't hurt that bad and it is in about the only place on my body that will tan - my arms.

Today I mowed my dad's place. I have been in a mowing mode. Tuesday I mowed my grandfather's old place. Yesterday I mowed my yard - well, most of it anyway. And today I mowed my dad's place. I expect to finish my yard tomorrow. It should be a good day for it. Unfortunately, it sounds like it is going to get cold again this weekend. I could do without that. I've been without fuel oil for the furnace since January, and I'm tired of being cold. Still, it could be worse. At least I have ways of getting warm. There are plenty of people in the world who can't.

I nearly bought some oil towards the end of February, but at $3.52/gallon (with a 100 gallon minimum) it was a little too rich for my wallet. These folks don't even act embarrassed when they tell you the price. I asked the fella if it came with dinner and a show, and he laughed and said no. That's what I figured....

I don't know about y'all, but I have to throw the BS flag when they come on the news and say that we're not experiencing inflation. Everything is up except the housing market - and even that still is in many markets. There is just no way to avoid inflation when the greedy oil tycoons are pushing the prices up higher and higher with no end in sight. It is bound to effect everything else. All of our goods are shipped using some petroleum derivative. (THIS is the reason that we need alternative fuels!) Add to that the inflation in food due to the push towards ethanol and there is no way to deny that prices are going up, and it is getting harder and harder for folks to make ends meet.

In other news...

Yesterday I also began work on a website for my sister. It is amazing how quickly you can put one together once you have learned how! Hers is nothing too complicated, just a nice basic informational website for her interior design business. I am awaiting a logo device from a friend who is an expert with Photoshop and with about one more day's work I think that I can have her site finished. I'll give you a link when it is done. I think my layout is improving.

By the way, I have heard yet another confirmation of the story that I published a few days ago. This one was from a nationally recognized individual who hears from God quite clearly. Batten down the hatches, y'all, it looks like some stormy weather is approaching.

Saturday the StillWaters Jazz Band will be playing for the veterans at the NC Veterans' home in Salisbury, NC. I'm really looking forward to getting to serve these folks. I hope that they enjoy the show. I am humbled by the sacrifices that they have made on my behalf.

Well, that is about all the stuff that is floating around the front of my mind at the present. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Can't Wait

The third book of Christopher Paolini's Eragon trilogy is coming out in September. I just found out about it at Amazon.com. I can hardly wait!

The first two books of the trilogy (Eragon and Eldest) were very engaging reads. After watching a message from Paolini at Amazon it turns out that this is no longer a trilogy. There will be at least one more book.

So there you have it. You can be pretty sure that this one will be showing up in my "What I'm Currently Reading" column in the Fall!

Monday, April 07, 2008

These Clouds Are Getting To Me...

A Very Intense Looking ThunderstormIf you have been reading for a while you are aware that there has been a fair bit of discussion here about the need for rain in my part of the country. Since the unbelievable drought of the past summer, I have not complained about rain at all. Still, I have no intention of complaining about rain, but I must say that it has been way too long since I have seen the sun.

OK. It did come out this afternoon for a couple of minutes, but that was hardly enough to get my tanks stoked back up. I can't take this gloominess much longer. It makes ME gloomy!

Today it was so incredibly hard to get anything done at all. I have been melancholy all day. There were certainly many factors that went into setting that emotional state, and the cloud cover wasn't the least of them.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny. I plan to do some mowing. I hope that it will do the trick for my mood. I have to get out of my cave for a little while. I have been too much alone lately. Hopefully, getting out into the fresh air and sunshine will help me to clear my head and get it back on straight. I can't afford to get off track right now.

On another note, I got a call tonight from someone who read the warning post from the other day. He told me that not two hours after he read that he had a conversation with another friend who had been in a seminar with a financial professional who was predicting the very same thing: a stock market crash. This morning I published a comment from a friend who had seen the same thing on the 700 Club recently. I have seen several other confirmations of this prediction. I am more and more convinced that it is going to happen in the next 12 months if not sooner.

I hope that it doesn't, because many will be hurt by it, but I can see how it may be necessary for God to do this to either help set people free from their bondage to mammon or to bring deliverance to those being oppressed by American capitalistic greed and justice to those doing the oppressing. The greed of so many in our country is becoming more and more evident.

See? I told you I was gloomy today! Perhaps I'll do better tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

An Excellent Weekend

Huge Tornado Funnel Cloud Beginning To FormWhat's this picture about? Well, it has nothing to do with this post, but I found it online sometime last week and thought I'd share it. The caption that came with it called it "Heaven's Hammer." Seemed like a good name to me. I have always been fascinated by severe weather. Tornadoes are just plain cool-looking, and I love to watch thunderstorms. (I'm sure that the tornadoes aren't nearly as cool when they are barreling down upon you or your property.)

Sorry I have been away for a few days. I took a little trip up to Apex, NC to visit my friend DP and to do some work on the website. While there isn't a whole lot of tangible evidence of work done, I did pick up some good tools to use in my development, and I was able to have some very profitable conversations with DP about the use of PHP.

I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I have begun to learn PHP, and have not found the tutorials as helpful as the ones for HTML or CSS. I suppose there is only so much that you can convey in a tutorial. The hard thing is understanding how to apply some of the elements of what I am learning. DP gave me a really good flow diagram to help me to get a handle on how the various pieces fit together. He even gave me some rudimentary code to use. In addition to that he helped me to understand better the environment in which everything is going together.

The main forward progress this weekend was that I began to build the data collection forms for the website. It had been a while since I worked with forms, so I had a little bit of catching up to do. It is good practice. That's part of the reason I don't want to use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors. It gives me the practice that I need to learn to use HTML more instinctively.

Friday night DP, his wife KP and I had a great time talking about various things that the Lord has been teaching us lately. We reflected on the warning post that I made a couple of days ago and discussed what sort of response we should make to the warning it contained. I have had a couple of interesting discussions surrounding that post. We also watched and talked about a speech given by an expert in the physiology of the human brain who had a stroke. She described her experience from a clinical and experiential perspective. It was an interesting speech.

Saturday for lunch we dined at Char-Grill (spoken of in hushed and reverent tones around NC's Triangle.) We came back home and I worked for the better part of the afternoon. Then we got some snacks ready and watched UCLA and UNC get creamed in their semi-final games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It was painful to watch two teams get pummeled so.

I really hate basketball. I don't like games where the rules are not consistently applied. Everyone fouls in basketball, and the referees seem to only call it on a whim. I can't tell you how many times (especially in the Carolina game) I saw someone being brutalized in the paint with no call only to turn around and see someone get a foul for a hand check. My OCD tendencies just cannot tolerate that kind of inconsistency. I feel the same about the holding rule in football. 10 yards is too severe a penalty for holding. It happens on every play from scrimmage, but only gets called in the most flagrant cases or on plays with big gains. 5 yards is plenty for that. But I digress.

This morning I went with KP and the fam (DP had to work) to their church: CrossWay Community Church. It is a great little church. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday School (I usually don't get into Sunday School) and really enjoyed the worship. KH led a very talented team of musicians in a worship set that flowed well and seemed to come from a pure and passionate heart in pursuit of Christ. If you are in the Triangle area and looking for a church, this, I believe, would be a great one to visit. I know I plan to go there again next time I'm in the area.

I returned home to my parents' home this evening to celebrate my brother-in-law's 35th birthday. Mom made lasagna, salad, green beans, and bread. It was wonderful. But the piece de resistance was the Italian Cream cake that she made for dessert. (Actually, my nephew made most of the cake.) That's his favorite, and it's definitely in my top 5.

So there you go. My weekend in a nutshell. OK, it is a pretty big nut, but it was a good weekend. Much thanks to DP, KP, CP, and AP for their hospitality. It was very greatly appreciated. Also thanks to the folks at CrossWay for their hospitality today. It was a special treat to get to meet KH, DH, and TC over there today. I hope to see you all again soon!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tomatoes With Flames On

Red Lightning TomatoesI thought these tomatoes were pretty cool looking. It's like they are ready for race day. They are called Red Lightning. It is kind of hard to tell how big they are from the picture, but based on the size of the grain of the wood behind them they don't look much bigger than cherry tomatoes.

Unfortunately, I can't remember anything about them. I may not have read anything particular about them. I got the picture directly from the Burpee Seed Company website.

They look like they would really dress up a veggie tray though! OK. I have very nearly convinced myself to take the plunge and do a garden. Now if it will only stop raining just long enough for me to get the ground prepared. (Mind you, I'm not complaining about the rain. God has blessed us greatly this spring! Hopefully it will continue on through the summer.)

Last year's drought did a number on the trees and shrubs around my house. I came very close to losing one of my beloved dogwood trees. The blossoms have begun to come out and it looks like they are going to be tiny this year. Once they are fully out I will take and post pictures. It doesn't look like I will even have any blossoms on the tree that I nearly lost.

I have been thinking of trying to make a way to conserve rainwater for use this summer. I think that I'd like to find some barrels and run my gutter drains into them. I could also save gray water if necessary this summer. I hope to never see a summer as dry as last summer ever again.

A Very Important Message

This is a message that is targeted primarily to my Christian readers, but should be of benefit to anyone who reads it. It is largely an excerpt of a post that I wrote for the Conspiracy of Kindness blog, but I believe that its message is important enough to duplicate it here.

Very few Christians would deny that God still speaks to His people. This communication can come in various forms: from general impressions, to visions, to dreams, and to a voice that isn't heard with our ears but is instead discerned by our spirits.

One of my friends has a particular fluency in their communication with God. Recently, in the midst of a conversation that this individual was having with God about a situation that they are dealing with, God shared something that I believe is very important for many to hear. Based on my experience with this individual, my knowledge of their understanding of the subject matter of the message, and the context in which it was given, I believe that this is a bona fide message from the Lord.

The Bible tells us to "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment." While many in traditional and even evangelical churches are uncomfortable with calling someone a prophet today or even in allowing that prophecies are still given today, I hope that you will not be offended by this term. A prophet is merely someone who tells others what God has told them. It is our job as priests in the Kingdom of God to consult with the Holy Spirit to test the prophecy. It is with this caveat that I submit this message for your consideration:

If you have an abundance don't invest it in the stock market. That's going to crash later this year. It will be a lot like 1929, but for those whose investment is primarily in the Kingdom there won't be a problem.

Wealth, as America knows it is almost over.

Dave Ramsey's teachings about mutual funds work well in this season - this system, but the economic system is about to change dramatically. The same rules will not apply.

I'm getting ready for the great wealth transfer. Many will be saved. Those in debt will suffer the most. Many will lose everything. "But those who know their God will do mighty exploits."
Let me begin by explaining something of the context in which this message was given. What I have shared was an excerpt from a larger conversation between my friend and God. There was nothing before this in the conversation that even made mention of the stock market, although financial matters had been discussed. This is one of the reasons that I believe that this message is from God.

A second reason that I believe that this message is authentic is that my friend has no knowledge or understanding of the stock market or the economic factors that drive it. This individual has (as was indicated in the prophecy) listened to Dave Ramsey, but that is the extent of their knowledge. In fact, my friend hardly even listens to or reads the news. So I don't believe that this is an idea that could have come from this individual's own concerns about the economy or knowledge about it.

Where does this leave us then? One of the purposes of prophecy is to encourage God's people. The entirety of the context of this message served to strongly encourage my friend.

Another purpose of prophecy is to warn God's people of sin and/or impending events. Proverbs tells us "The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it." and "A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty."

I am no financial expert. I cannot tell you what to do in response to this message. Perhaps it would be wise to study the events of the Great Depression and look specifically to the areas that thrived in the midst of the collapse of the Stock Market. I have heard that when one type of investment falters there are often other areas that do well. This may be a time for God's people to be able to prosper because of this warning.

Perhaps it would also be prudent to move funds from stock market based investments to investments with guaranteed interest. (I'm thinking particularly of folks with 401-ks and that sort of thing.) However, once again, I don't really know what I am talking about. Your best bet would be to ask God what you should do with your investments.

I would also encourage you to ask God about expediting the payoff of any home equity lines and about refinancing your home if the mortgage is not locked into a long-term fixed rate.

Can I guarantee that this is a word from the Lord? No. But I felt strongly enough that it was that I felt a responsibility to warn as many people as I could about it. Please pray and ask God to show you whether this prophecy is true and to tell you what you should do about it.

One last thought... Christians are not to be motivated by fear. This message should not cause fear, but should encourage us to praise God for giving us a warning before this event takes place.

If you are heavily in debt this may cause you some distress. That is understandable, but do not operate out of fear. Cry out to God in repentance over your situation and ask Him how to fix it. Allow your faith to rise up and trust your God to take care of you and your needs. I can attest that He does and He will. That is not to say that you may not suffer loss, but God will not allow the righteous to be forsaken or their children to beg for bread.

For any of my non-Christian friends who are reading this blog, I hope that this information will benefit you too. If it does, my sincerest prayer is that you will give glory to God for giving you this warning and that you will submit your lives to Him because of His goodness. He truly loves you and wants the very best for you.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Great Outing

The StillWaters Jazz Band played at Dixie's this past Saturday. In spite of the cold, rainy weather we still had a good-sized crowd in attendance.

The band was the best we have been so far. It was a lot of fun playing and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I think that my favorite part of playing out is getting to see people who are really having a good time and really enjoying the music. It is very gratifying. I heard one woman say that our music made her want to get up and dance. That was cool.

I still botched about half of my solos, but I guess it is OK. It just gives me something to shoot for. The area where I seemed to improve most this time out was with rhythm. I really mixed the rhythms up even within the individual songs. It was a new level for me to step outside of things that were working and experiment with shaking things up. It made for some diversity in the music. I've never felt the freedom to try that before.

We had a good rehearsal last night and will be adding St. Louis Blues in response to a request that we received at Dixie's. We also worked on Bye Bye Blackbird, and for the first time we actually didn't stink it up. Hopefully, we will be able to add both to our play list soon. These songs have very tough rhythms and if they aren't just right the song is awful. We may also be adding The Preacher to our repertoire in the coming weeks.

The band has concerts coming up on April 12 and 19. We will be at the NC Veteran's Home in Salisbury on the 12th and we'll be at the Salisbury Brian Center on the 19th. Both shows are from 3:00 to 5:00. We will also be looking to schedule another date at Dixie's sometime in April. (It will probably be on a Saturday, which kind of narrows things down. Also look for us to play there in May.)

If you are interested in having us play for you or your group let me know by emailing me. The address is sjb at realsalisbury dot com. (The address is written that way to keep spammers from mining the address from this post.) Make sure to give me a contact number where you can be reached. Hope to see you soon!