"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Already Did It

Done: completed; finished; through: Our work is done.

"Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:28-30

There is not a parent on earth that has not heard the phrase; "I already did it" uttered from their child's mouth. There have been no words spoken in humanity with such authority and confidence that has been backed with so little evidence and support. Whether we are discussing the cleaning of one's bedroom, to taking out the trash - all of it - to completing homework, the response is almost always the same: "I already did it."

The last couple of days I've had the great pleasure to speak with my college roommate from my Wittenberg days. We have been best of friends for over 25 years. The truth of the matter is that there are few people I've encountered that display a stronger commitment to their faith and who consistently live a life that embodies a belief in Jesus Christ, and who He says He is, than Todd.

Billy Graham says; "that Jesus Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or He is who He say's he is." Revered Graham went on to say that at the age of 17 he decided by faith to believe in who Jesus Christ says He is.

Like Mr. Graham, Todd is a man of tremendous faith. 

There are times I'm so touched and encouraged by his bold faith that I can literally sense the presence of God, while at other moments insecurity and inadequacy creep in and I'm overwhelmed with becoming acquainted with a type of embarrassment I wish not to become accustomed to.

Both feelings are a blessing. One has the ability to encourage, the other has the ability to inspire. I will leave you to decide which one does what.

In the end, Todd makes me want to be a better man. He always has and I'm confident he always will. 

And it was during our discussion that Todd shared with me that the Hebrew language is considered the "language of faith."

He said that it was during his visit to Israel last year with his mother that he heard a man by the name of Joseph Prince talking about the work of Robert Young. Young was biblical scholar who lived in Scotland during the 1800's. His greatest work was his Bible translation effort entitled; "Young's Literal Translation."

In studying Young's work Prince discovered that he talks about the Hebrew language having a past tense and a present tense, but not a future tense. And it's because of this, Joseph Prince calls the Hebrew language the "language of faith", because the Lord doesn't look at things potentially happening in the future, but considers them done already:

"The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are."
-Romans 4:17

Prince went on to say as a side note, that in some of our translations of Bibles we may read verses that speak of potential or future possibilities, when really they might be more accurately translated as present or past (having already been done). Joseph Prince teaches we need to speak and act as God sees us -- already having been blessed, healed, etc...

We need to recognize he has already did it... It is finished.

In closing, Isaiah 53:4-5 shares this with the reader:

 "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: 
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: 
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; 
and with his stripes we are healed."
What is important to pay close attention to in this piece of scripture are the words: sorrow & peace.
When the word sorrow is used it literally speaks to our infirmities; our sorrows speak to the spirit, soul, body and our CIRCUMSTANCES! The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom refers to happiness, friendliness, peace, rest, health, safety, prosperity, welfare, restoration, and favor. With these definitions and meanings revealed to us we immediately become acquainted with the hope we are longing for; the good news in every circumstance that we endlessly search for.

God has already worked in our suffering, pain; our sorrow. 

He has already provided the peace. 

All we have to do is acknowledge him as the source (Ephesians 1:3). Our outward circumstance might not change, but inwardly God has completed his work concerning our suffering... he took up our pain and bore our suffering. And with that we have the knowledge that we are provided with His peace in each and every circumstance. 

Out of suffering we can grow in our faith, in our maturity, and yes we can grow in God's peace. 

Once we experience that type of growth we are free to share and to give it to others in their time of need. Remember, anything that draws us closer to God is always a good thing for us, and for others.

All we have to do is acknowledge and invite Him into our hearts; into our lives.

God has already done everything.

It's done... for real this time, it really is done.

sbb 30.11.12

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just As I Am

 Sufficient: adequate for the purpose; enough: sufficient proof; sufficient protection.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 
 – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In 1822 there was a 33 year old woman that was as beautiful as any women could ever hope to be. Her name was Charlotte Elliott. She was the grand-daughter of Reverend Henry Venn who was well known for supporting William Wilberforce to abolish slavery. 

He was also known as a man of God. 

The story has it that in 1822 invited guests had the privilege to hear Charlotte recite verse and prose. Her voice was as beautiful as she was physically, and the clarity of her voice was crystal clear. Following the performance a Rev. Dr. Caesar Malan met Ms Elliott: “Young lady, your talent and beauty are a thing of wonder. But, without Jesus, you are no better than the lowest prostitute out in our streets!” Nice introduction!? 

Our words have power. They can hurt and they can heal; at times they can accomplish both.

The young lady was understandably shocked and hurt by his words. At the end of the day, religion wasn’t a topic she wanted to discuss. That night Charlotte was troubled, restless, and could not sleep, she had been very ill and was bothered with severe pain. During this time of physical pain, emotional hurt and spiritual darkness Ms Elliott knelt beside her bed and prayed. 

It was during this time Charlotte realized the depth of her pride and her alienation from God.

A few weeks later, she saw Dr. Malan and shared with him her desire to come to Christ; “I would like to come to Christ, but I do not know how to find him.” Dr. Malan replied, “Come just as you are! You have only to come to Him just as you are, and with that statement she accepted Jesus as her savior. 

Little did Malan know that his simple words would reverberate throughout the Christian world and in churches for centuries to come! See, twelve years later in 1834, Charlotte was in poor health and reminded of the poignant words Dr. Malan shared earlier; “Come just as you are.” As she poured over his words, she sat and penned the poem entitled “Just as I am”. 

Again, our words have power.

The poem would be published two years later in 1836 and thirteen years later, in 1849, Just as I am would become a song composed by William B. Bradbury. He was the same musician that composed Jesus Loves Me”

The words written by Ms Elliott and composed by Mr. Bradbury would become the great alter-invitational hymn that would be forever associated with Billy Graham’s ministry. The fifth verse states:  

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve, Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come! 

Those are beautiful words of redemption; forgiveness and proof that the shed blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient

The good news is two-fold: God is all we need and He takes us just as we are without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

sbb 29.11.12


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks, Black Friday & Walmart

Sacred:  devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated. Entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.

 "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the
healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads."
-Revelations 22:1-4

In the winter of 1620 a group of 102 pilgrim pioneers began an adventure that had no turning back. When the journey came to it's end the following spring fifty-six pilgrims were left standing.  Because of the harsh winter conditions and illness forty-six died. It was an extremely difficult time. Surrounded by the land's native people, whose intent they could not know, they buried their dead by night so the tribes wouldn't realize how quickly their numbers were dwindling and prayed by day that they would live to see another day.

So with that being said, when the fruitful harvest and late fall arrived in 1621, it was natural that the weary settlers and their native benefactors should gather in a great feast of lobster and goose, turkey and venison, duck and pumpkin, fruit and corn. These Pilgrims, sorely tested, gave thanks for surviving a brutal winter and for the help of friends. I truly believe that it would be impossible for all involved not to count their blessings when thinking of the trials just endured, the terrors of their strange new land and the loss of their dearest comrades. The original 102 pilgrims, lived and died, bravely in the face of danger and most likely prayed daily for the strength and safety to carry on.

That day, a day that was set apart to give sincere thanks in 1621, was sacred.

Fast forward 392 years...

Many of us are familiar with "Black Friday". Retailers and shoppers alike would agree it's the busiest shopping day of the year because it has been since 2005. Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving, traditionally signifying the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season. 

Black Friday is not an official holiday.

I realize that last statement is not only a shock to some, but a downright revelation to a many.

The term "Black Friday" found its origin in the year 1869. It was in that same year and on the day of September 24th our country experienced it's first major financial catastrophe. This was caused by two speculators’ efforts, Jay Gould and James Fisk, to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. It was one of several scandals that rocked the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.
Fast forward 92 years to 1961.

Today, the term millions of American's use originated in Philadelphia in 1961, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. The term grew in appeal and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: "Black Friday" indicated the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black".

Ah, Profit... the wonderful six letter word.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000's many slowly began to open as early as 4am. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohls, Macy's, and Best Buy) opened at midnight for the first time.

In 2012, Walmart led several other retailers in announcing it would open its stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, rightfully prompting calls for a walkout among some workers.

Few things are scared anymore.

"Walton's five and Dime"

Walmart was founded in 1962 by Sam Walmart. His first store was located in Bentonville, Arkansas and was named "Walton's Five and Dime."

Today Walmart has over 8500 stores worldwide in 15 countries. They are the largest private employer employing over 2 million people and are recognized as the worlds 3rd largest public corporation. In the United States alone Walmart has 3,971 stores, employees 1.4 million people (that number represents 1% of the US working population- 140 million), and in 2009 created revenue in the amount of $258 billion (63.8% of it's total sales), 51% of that being generated from their grocery segment of business. Walmart is the largest grocer in the world. In 2011 Walmart's global sales surpassed $400 billion.

It's profit exceeded 15 billion.

Profit is good; greed, on the other hand, is not.

In the US stores alone Walmart earns over $706,849,315.17 million a day; $29,452,054.80 million an hour.

Walmart on the other hand pays it's hourly associates $11.75 an hour. That's $20,744 a year. The national retail average wage is $12.04. They are well above the national minimum wage which is currently at $7.25.

What has become sacred is revenue and profit, at all cost.

Just a sidebar... I believe that Walmart should take half of the profit they generate on "Thanksgiving Day" and give it to charity that aids feeding the homeless year around. I really do. I know that Walmart is extremely important to our domestic economy and I have no doubt that they provide support for many a charities "but" the fact they are open on Thanksgiving night is wrong. Make the contribution public and develop a national advertising campaign each year outlining the plans for the Thanksgiving Day profits and who it will benefit.

I wonder if Mr. Walmart's "five & dime" was open on Thanksgiving night back in the 1960's? I can almost bet it wasn't. Most likely his store was closed on Sundays too.

Scientists from RAND Corp. show off their computer in 1954.

Finally, there's no denying we live in a different world than we did fifty years ago. Change has been grand as we've all witnessed unbelievable advances in the areas of medicine, technology, and race relations.

But we have also failed tremendously.

We have failed in the worst way.

We no longer hold sacred the things that truly are sacred.

Our country has displayed example after example that the only thing that is sacred is our wants; our needs. We have decided to irrigate unto our self the right to terminate life under the guise of reproductive rights and to redefine marriage because many believe the definition to be out dated and up for debate, with numerous American's concluding that the institution of marriage is in play to be reinterpreted and reinvented. Unfortunately, our country has "seen the light" in terms of God and prayer too, deeming it the right thing, the progressive thing, to remove both from every region of public life because many find it's importance in a public forum to be fading, offensive, and archaic. All of this has been accomplished because many conclude that it's their sacred right to do so.

And with all these "revelations" we as a society are told we must not just acknowledge and tolerate these progressive movements, but we are to celebrate them.

And if we dare not to celebrate the wanted changes that promote a secular society we become the problem in society, not the moral decay and decline that is engulfing our country. And somehow I'm to become a man without a conscious, a man without a heart, all for the purpose of supporting this marvelous illusions of secular progressiveness.

No thanks. 

Os Guinness defines secularism as the process of religious ideas, institutions and interpretations losing there social significance. In the end, if you must claim in a secularized society to believe in God and to be a Christian who is guided by your faith in Jesus Christ, it is alright as long as you keep those beliefs out of all public debate and any national conversation. Those beliefs are to be kept private. In today's society we are free to do almost anything except share our belief in God in any discernible or tangible way.

If I do so I do so at my own risk opening the door for me to be labeled a do gooder moralist, bible thumping hypocrite that is a closed minded non progressive relic from a post modern society.

In the end, we are a free people that will fight for, and celebrate, our freedom. The irony, and tragedy, is that our freedom is killing us.

The greatest enemy of freedom is freedom itself. 

So, as business' are free to open their doors allowing millions of free American's to freely purchase goods that most of us can not afford (America is currently $21 billion behind in credit card debt with the average credit card at $15,328) and to operate, and participate, in the free market that is called capitalism we are slowly dying a slow death. Black Friday turns into Black Thursday to Black Wednesday and so on and so forth.

In the end, it's of no real difference because nothing is sacred anymore, we are all free to do what we want.

OK, I'm done. I need to get to Starbucks. I hope there open today, being that it's Thanksgiving and all.

sbb 22.11.12

The average Walmart "associate," Wake Up Walmart reports, makes $11.75 an hour. That's $20,744 per year. Those wages are slightly below the national average for retail employees, which is $12.04 an hour. They also produce annual earnings that, in a one-earner household, are below the $22,000 poverty line.
On the other hand, these wages are far above minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. They also aren't THAT FAR below the national retail average (only 2.5% below). In a two-earner household, moreover, these wages would produce a household income of $40,000+, which, in some areas of the country, is comfortably middle-class.  Walmart offers benefits to some of its employees, as well as store discounts and profit-sharing plans

Read more:
global sales crossed $400 billion last year. Its profits exceeded $15 billion. Its market value--$200 billion--has weathered the Great Recession and market crash and remains near all-time highs.

Read more:
global sales crossed $400 billion last year. Its profits exceeded $15 billion. Its market value--$200 billion--has weathered the Great Recession and market crash and remains near all-time highs.

Read more: is not bad; greed, on the other hand, is.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Costume Change

Cloak: a loose outer garment, as a cape or coat. Something that covers or conceals; disguise; pretense: He conducts his affairs under a cloak of secrecy.

"Seeing is Believing"

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them." ~ Prov. 11:3

"Integrity not only calls us to live inside-out, it keeps the outside from coming in. Consistency in our walk and in our talk becomes a transportable cloak of protection around us, going anywhere we go. Life becomes so much simpler when there aren't so many costume changes." 
~ Beth Moore

...consistency has been the toughest treasure for me to obtain in my Christian walk. When a dear friend sent this to me this morning the words jumped off the screen at me and said; life can be so much simpler. I constantly need to be reminded of this truth. If I lived a thousand years I would still need to be reminded of this truth. Be encouraged today... there is a simple way to live a full life. Simply obey God and leave all the consequences to him.

sbb 21.11.12

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Voted...

Privilege: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich. A special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.

 Pledge of Allegiance (History)

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

It's a privilege to live in American. 

One of the best privileges this world has to offer.
Yesterday, I, with millions of my fellow Americans, was able to cast my vote in this years election. For a few minutes I had the privilege to give my "educated" opinion in a civil, respectful and mature manner. Yesterday our voices were heard; America listened.
I voted the other way yesterday. For many of us, the Beatles hit song Yesterday is now very appropriate: 
 Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday
I believed, along with millions of other Americans, that Mitt Romney could change things economically in this country. Not enough people felt the same way. In the end, it was an unbelievable race! But like all races there is a finish line; a winner, loser.
This race was no different.
The good news is that one man lost the race, not an entire country. We are all winners today because the best election process known to mankind worked. Some enjoyed the outcome more than others, but in the end victory belongs to all.
We have one choice now: move forward.
Let us now move on and support the man that's in office. Our country must move forward and rally around the mission of becoming less divisive. Let us as a country march toward a land that it's inhabitants believe it better to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. If we meet this challenge, and calling, we will become a better country, a better country indeed. We all must remember that Republicans and Democrats have far more in common than they don't. 
Let's support American
Let's look at this differently and realize that we must become one. We are stronger that way. In the end, both men are "good" men... let's support them both. Besides it could be worse, Al Gore could be President. 
I'm sorry... I couldn't help myself. 
Many of these words I posted on Facebook this morning. They were the first, and will be the last, comments I make on Facebook concerning the election. I don't know about you, but I want to get back to the roots of why fb was created for in the first place. I want to see who's kid made the all star team in "preschool", inappropriate pictures of women that are 45 dressing like there 25 and all the quotes from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin to Jay Z
I miss those days.
We are shallow people; Facebook reminds me of this fact. Let's embrace our shallowness, long live Facebook! BTW, Bryce made Honorable Mention (should've been 2nd team selection) in football this year. I will update you later on my other "13" children. 
Anyway, our country's election, along with Facebook, is part and parcel why our country is so great; so grand. Going forward, I hope our country decides to contemplate, and acknowledge, civilly our differences, embrace our commonalities and grow as country while doing both.
It's a process but we can do it... if only we choose to.
OK! I feel better. See it's not that bad. 
Our TV's are no longer hi-jacked by political ads, Facebook will once again become a playground for our narcissistic ways, and Al Gore wasn't elected President.
See, don't you feel better already?
I know I do... 
sbb 7.11.12

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Equals ONE

Relationship: a connection, association, or involvement. Connection between persons by blood or marriage.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”
-Isaiah 12:2

Relationships are tricky. Always have been, always will be. The sad thing is much of the difficulty we experience is our fault. Many of us struggle in relationships, walk away from marriages and sabotage both because we often underestimate the power of sacrifice, freely entertain selfishness and lack knowledge of a relationship's purpose. 

We don't know what we don't know in the area of relationships. 

When discussing relationships, specifically marriage, I think it's important to acknowledge the very beginning, the genesis if you will, of the marital institution. In the beginning God created and ordained the institution of marriage. Genesis 2:24 states:  

" That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."  

Marriage finds its foundation in God with the intention of two becoming one. In the same vein of having children versus raising children, it is much easier to get married than to stay married. Statistics conclude that 48% of all marriages end in divorce. We often hang ourselves in the area of marriage and relationships.

Like I said, we don't know what we don't know.

The miserable statistics surrounding marriage and divorce speak to importance of educating ourselves in the area of building a successful marriage. I've found "five" truths to be helpful in empowering us to live better lives with the one we love. 

I know a little about this topic; I've failed tremendously in this area. 

Allow me to share.

Number one; little things add up. Read Galatians 6:7-9. It reminds us to never give up doing the right thing; doing what is good. If we do so we will reap a harvest in due time. It's our responsibility to "do good" to one another and to keep winning our spouse's heart. The little things really do add up. They can add up in our favor or not. The choice is ours.  

Secondly, expect conflict. Ephesians 4:26 states; "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Conflict is normal and necessary. Conflict resolution is the key. When there is a conflict stay on point. Tackle the problem not the person; remain issue based not person based. 

Thirdly, communication; good communication is essential. Communication is the key to unlock our greatest relational future. 

Number four, develop true intimacy. The best way to do this is to pray together as a couple. Do it everyday. There are different roads that lead to intimacy. For women, talking leads to intimacy. Men starve their wives soul when they don't communicate or talk with them. Listening is vitally important too. Sex leads to intimacy for men. I know, "shocker". Men are physical creatures that respond to touch, sight and sexual gratification. Sex is important to men. With all of this its important to remember the number one need for all people, whether communicated or not, is to be unconditionally loved and accepted. True intimacy can only develop where unconditional love is present. 

The fifth point is to choose commitment. Don't wish, hope, fantasize or dream; just choose. Choose commitment to one another over all else.

In the end, I believe all these points to be significant, but none individually, or collectively, are more essential than a married couple having a faith in Jesus Christ. A faith that is the cornerstone of their relationship and foundation of their marriage. Sadly christian couples divorce too, but those that devoutly, and consistently, attend church, are involved in a "small group" and pray together have a much lower divorce rate than those who don't. When a couple adds God to the equation they become as strong as a three stranded rope; they become three that equals One

sbb 5.11.12
Do You Love Me?  .  Jonathan Butler