Thursday, October 25, 2007

A delightful language lesson...

Aloha (ah-LOH-hah): Aloha means hello, love, mercy, compassion, pity, or goodbye. More importantly, it is an expression of the heart. Aloha is shown in numerous ways. A person who gives a lei to a visitor is sharing aloha. Aloha is also a spiritual recognition of the physical person, and thus, is sometimes expressed through an embrace or handshake or other form of physical contact because for many, it is important to feel the other person.

Mahalo (mah-HAH-loh): Mahalo means being thankful. In Hawai`i, mahalo is more than a polite expression of appreciation. Mahalo is often expressed in action rather than words, by making a contribution, being courteous to others and respectful of the host culture. For some of Hawai`i’s cultural experts, visitors who take the time to understand and be aware of who Hawai`i’s people are, and who share that knowledge with others – that is a tremendous way of expressing mahalo.

"Way down below the ocean, that's where I wanna be..."

Molokini Crater on the Horizon

Coconut Beach (on Maui)

Day Five of Gene and Ellen's Excellent Hawaiian Adventure: Today, Nina (Ellen's sister) sent us on a snorkeling cruise. We left our Hotel at 5:30 am in order to reach the boat harbor by 6:15. We cruised out to the world-renowned Molokini Crater for some snorkeling. Providentially the wind came up (you should be singing Psalm 29 here) and we had to exit the water sooner than planned. But soon we were motoring back across the strait to reach the calmer shores in the lee of Maui. As it turned out the barrier reef off of Coconut Beach was even better than the much vaunted Molokini reef. Wowsers! Myriads of tropical fish, abundant coral in almost every color of the rainbow and even a few sea-turtles, all within a couple arms' lengths. Ellen got a little chilled after the first dip and so didn't make the second swim (which kinda makes you wonder how the Vikings ever made it across the channel to plunder England, "Excuse me, Sven! I'm getting a little cold here, could we go back to the fjord?") The wind continued to rise and so the ride back to the harbor brought to mind images of those Alaskan crab boats crashing through waves, water splashing up on to the foredecks. Pretty cool actually. In defense of my little Viking, her stomach weathered the trip without a flutter, while mine was extremely grateful to pull back into the slip (it's after 5:00 pm now and the room is still swaying beneath my chair!) Aloha.

P.S. Can anyone name the song in the title to this post and the performer who made it famous?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aquarium on Maui

Aloha y’all. Day four on Maui: Today’s highlight was our visit to the Maui Ocean Center. Wow! This aquarium rocks! Although all the exhibits were very well done, they saved the best for last: Two scuba-divers hand feeding three species of enormous rays, amidst 24 different kinds of fish, and a dozen or so sharks. Of course the obligatory placards next to the windows all assured us that what we were seeing was the result of four billion years of evolution, but the eye of faith saw nothing but evidence of God’s infinite creative genius and playful sense of humor. Soli deo gloria!

Mai-Tais at Sea

Aloha. Day three in Ka’anapali: Today’s highlight was a sunset all-you-can-eat-and-drink catamaran cruise. At 4:00 pm we waded a short distance through to the surf, boarded our vessel and sailed northwest towards the island of Molokai. According to our (typically friendly/gracious) first-mate, Molokai has less than 8000 residents (compared to Maui which has about 125,000.) The historic leper colony of Father Damien is located on a remote shore of Molokai, and the island is, in general, difficult to get around on. The Molokai folk are very friendly but quite averse to any development of their pristine island. A few years ago, a cruise ship line obtained the state’s permission to dock on Molokai. When the first (and only) cruise ship attempted to do so it was met with jeers, catcalls and not a few rocks. The only franchise fast-food restaurant on the island is a Subway. The main town on the island boasts two NAPA Auto stores, which for some strange reason are located across the street from one another. Hmmm. It sounds like my kind of place. Hang loose.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Everybody's Gone Surfin'...Surfin' USA!

Here are a couple of surfing pics. The reason the photographer was able to get pictures of us standing up on our boards: His camera shoots eight frames per second. A normal camera would not have been able to catch the random nano-seconds that we were upright and "surfin'."

Hang loose.


Aloha from Kaanapali Beach just north of Lahaina on the Island of Maui! Through the extreme generosity of Ellen's father (Henning Boe) we are enjoying a week on the beach in Hawaii. We (Henning, Ellen's sister Nina, Ellen and I) are staying in the Penthouse of the Quest Resort Hotel (the pictures are the views from our balcony.) For a boy who grew up back-packing, camping and riding motor-sickles, this is quite deluxe. I am so very glad to be a card-carrying member of a religion where you don't get what you deserve. Too glad to be true, but true nonetheless. Hang loose.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kneeling in the Assembly, Part III

Ezra 9:5-6) And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Luke 5:8) When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

John Wesley once noted that “the angle of knee determines the attitude of the heart.” This adage is surely an overstatement, but nonetheless true in large measure. We are not disembodied spirits, and we are commanded by God to worship Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. And to offer up to Him our bodies as living sacrifices. Therefore, in our weekly Lord’s Day Service, do we stand to offer our praises to the King of Glory, and at one point even lift our hands to bodily demonstrate our enthusiasm in worship, our eagerness to embrace God as our Father, and our readiness to receive, open-handedly, all that He would give to us. When God’s Word is preached we assume the posture of students learning from their master. And at the Table we continue to sit, not as disciples, but rather as honored guests at the Lord’s Feast.

But what is the Biblical posture of contrition? What is the angle of the knee most frequently adopted by those who are confessing their both their sinfulness and their unworthiness? You know the answer already. The knees are bent in a bodily indication of abject humility before the throne of Him who is perfectly holy. And the head is bowed in a bodily display of the heart’s remorse, anguish and sorrow over sin and wickedness.

“But I can do all of that between my two ears” the Gnostics will surely object.

“I know its in the Bible, but it’s not a part of our tradition” some Pharisees will certainly chime in.

“But kneeling is a very uncomfortable position for me to assume” some who don’t get it at all will proffer.

But some will say, “Let me take my place beside Ezra, Peter, and the myriads who have gone before me in Christ’s church, and allow me to assume their posture as I confess my sins. Sharp rocks and gravel would be preferable, but in their absence, this plush carpet will do. For regarding my transgressions, I covet the opportunity to preach to my stony heart with my buckled knees. And regarding my confession, I would have the Lord know my shame and grief.” Welcome to the court of the King pilgrim…

Kneeling in the Assembly, Part II

Psalm 146:8) The LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:

In the Kingdom of God, the way up is the way down; if you want to save your life, you must lose it; if you would be great, you must be the servant of all, and if you would receive glory, then you must humble yourself before the LORD.

As Paul taught, God delights to justify everyone whom He calls, and to glorify everyone whom He justifies. As strange as it may sound, we ought to crave the glory that God has promised to bestow upon those whom He has redeemed and is fitting for worship before His throne and service in His kingdom. We just need to be careful to crave this honor in the way, and through the means that He is pleased to give it.

And here, as always, Christ is our model and guide. For whatever God does to us, He does to us in Christ, who took the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And because the Son was pleased to humble himself, the Father was pleased to exalt him and to give him a name which is above every other name.

Therefore the true worship of Jehovah must include both an exaltation of His person and a heartfelt humbling and debasing of our own. If we insist upon clinging to our dignity, poise and self-respect, then we set ourselves against His purpose to glorify Himself by raising us up. But if we come before Him with our knees bent, our heads bowed and our hearts filled with the knowledge of our utter unworthiness, then He is pleased to glorify Himself by exalting us and adorning us with the beauty of holiness, and the comeliness of Christ’s righteousness.

According to the scriptures, fitting ways to humble ourselves in His presence include prayers of confession, bent knees, bowed heads, and a constant marvel at our invitation into the Lord’s household, expressed in the sort of hymns where we wonder aloud, “Why was I made to hear thy voice and enter while there’s room, when thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve then come?”

Kneeling in the Assembly, Part I

Exodus 34:5-9) And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

This narrative in Exodus is rife with divine glory. At God’s command, Moses had prepared the second set of stone tablets, upon which God Himself would again inscribe the Ten Commandments of the Covenant. After Moses had ascended to the heights of Mount Sinai, the LORD descended to him in a cloud and stood there with him, declaring His own name, goodness, grace and justice.

Moses’ response to God’s self-revelation is worth noting. Although the greater part of God’s declaration concerned the covenant mercies that would spill down through a thousand generations, it did not induce Moses to “kick back and relax” in God’s presence. Rather, Moses “made haste” to bow his head toward the earth and worship God for His divine patience and longsuffering, and directly following to beg God’s pardon for Israel’s persistent stubbornness and sinfulness.

We who ascend weekly to the heights of Mount Zion would do well to imitate Moses’ example of reverence, humility and supplication. As God reveals Himself to us in the assembly, reminding us of His covenant law and reaffirming its attendant blessings and curses, we too, should make haste to bow ourselves before Him, confessing our sins and seeking the mercy that He has already sworn with an oath to give us in Christ.

God Takes Our Name

Exodus 3:3-6) And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

One of the incredible benefits of baptism is that we are baptized into the name our God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And as a result we are known in this world as “Christians”, the christened or anointed ones; the ones who bear the name of the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously this is all to the good. God, in infinite goodness and mercy has allowed us to take His name; permitted us to be identified with Him in the once for all sign and seal of baptism and in the ongoing moniker of “Christian.”

But as wonderful as all this is (and it is truly wonderful!) there is an even a greater, more significant way that we have been identified with Jehovah, the Great I AM that I AM. At the burning bush, Jehovah revealed Himself to Moses, in part by naming Himself. But take care to note the very first name that God used to make Himself known to Moses: The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In so doing, God forever identified Himself with His people; He willingly bound up His good name and staked His reputation, as it were, with the wellbeing of the ones to whom He had pledged His love and favor.

So the next time you are tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness to His promises, remember this: He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember that He could no more renege on His promise to bless all the families of the earth, then He could cease being who He is and always has been. God will make Abraham’s descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky, because the only way the LORD could break this promise would be for Him to stop being who he is in His essence and who He has declared Himself to be.

Christian, always be grateful for the name that you bear; the name lovingly bestowed upon you in your baptism. But take care to rejoice as well that Your Creator and Redeemer has, for reasons entirely beyond our limited capacities to understand His sublime goodness, condescended to take the names of those He purposed to bless, and to include them in His own great name. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and by covenant association, of John, Justin and Cicilia; of Kay, Patty and Brynn; of Rose, Ken and Kayli; of Brent, Khiree and Zachary. Too glad to be true, but true nonetheless.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Four Handed Guitar

Wow. The title says it all.

Norwegian Hip-Hop Tuba Maestro

Take the dry wit and charming accent of a Norwegian tuba maestro and blend it together with hip-hop rythmns and celtic dissonance and voila! you have this clip. Please note at the end of the video that the sheet music is available to anyone who would like to try this at home on their own personal tuba (or whatever his horn-thingy is.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

500 Years of women in art

This is a very cool little montage of images for at least two reasons. Firstly, by showing a half-millennial, chronological progression of art, the failure of modern art is neatly and adeptly exposed. And secondly, it is a wonderful ode to the "fairer sex's" ability to enthrall the "not-so-fair sex." Enjoy.

They must have buried it too deep

This clip provides good motivation to pray for our troops in Iraq. Note: I abhor foul language, but am happy to extend the judgment of charity to the soldier you will hear, given the reason for his exclamation.

The Finest Chevy Ever Made

In my humble opinion, I think the finest car Chevrolet ever made was the '66 Chevelle Malibu. My first car was a midnight blue version of the car pictured here. It had a 327 with a four-barrel carb under the hood, dual exhaust with cherry bomb mufflers and sported the classic Cragar mag wheels. It was a four-speed with a "Trooper" rear end which meant that it would do 55 mph in first gear; up and over 75 in second; up and over 100 mph in third gear; and in fourth gear...well I never had the guts to let it all the way out in fourth. Fun to drive on the highway. Not so fun on the hills of Seattle in traffic.

The '65 Malibus were too boxy, and the grill-work and tail-lights '67 Malibus got too complicated. But the '66...perfection! Clean lines from front to back, tasteful accents, a roomy interior, power to pass and an engine that you could actually work on without a master's degree in electronics and environmental science. Ah yes, the good ol' days.

I later owned a red '66 Malibu with a 283 and a four-speed. And even later, after we started having kids, in an effort to blend aesthetics with practicality, we purchased and restored a '66 Malibu station-wagon. I loved it, but my dear wife was, shall we say, a little less sanguine about the ol' wagon.