Category Archives: Religion

Sabbath MiniPost: “Finding Your Passion”

Ozone Falls in Middle Tennessee

“You need to find what you love doing, and then make a career out of it.” – I have a strong sense that this advice is the advice that so many in their 20’s and 30’s received growing up, just like I did. I have also heard it summarized as, “You need to find your passion.”

After years of searching, I think I found my passion, but when I heard a minister a few Sabbath’s ago say, “You should not be ruled by your passion,” I was rather perplexed. “What did he mean?” I thought to myself. Could it be that by finding what makes me excited – like presenting ideas or working out puzzles or writing or being creative – was that wrong? Continue reading

Dedication to My Friend Ms. Applegate

My 88-year-old friend, Ms. Thelma Applegate, was a ‘tell ya how it is’ kind of woman. This was filmed just a month before she passed away in January. This video was created for her family since they had her celebration of life a couple of weekends ago – and they thought it would be nice to share.

I got to know Ms. Applegate when she moved Continue reading

Now is the Time to Address the Elephant in the Room

King Kong sitting in a movie theatre snacking away on popcorn kernels as big as your head while you try to enjoy and focus on a movie with your date is a ridiculous example of “an elephant in the room.” However, rather than focus on macro issues such as King Kong or the global trend of giving God no credit for anything, this thought is really about our own personal elephants in life – the things that are awkward to bring up, address, or otherwise deal with.

[Personal Aside: I made the mistake the other day of Continue reading

Confirming Our Beliefs

I can tell you a million reasons why 'NOT' to go climbing ...

On the way to a very fun, scary, and exciting climb up one of the hills/ridges that are near the family stead, my sister Sierra was reading her Social Psychology textbook to me in the car. What she read made me stop and say, “Wow, I’ve seen that happen before at work, at church, at school, even in my family!”. Social Psychology is the study of how groups affect people, and how people affect groups.

Here is what she read – it was in the heading titled “Our Beliefs can Generate their own Confirmation; Do we get what we Expect from Others?” Continue reading

What to call the first decade? (and my ‘Golden Voice’)

Cover of "Robin Hood - Men in Tights / Sp...

SpaceBalls helped me find my Golden Voice - and remind myself of the best name for the 1st decade in 2000

You have surely heard of the golden voice homeless guy. While thinking about him and working on my own Golden Voice, I remember that I solved the puzzle of what to call the first decade of 2000 (’00-’09) a few years ago and wanted to share. (Though amusing, I don’t agree with the BBC’s ‘noughties‘ nomenclature for the first decade.)

You have surely heard how radio announcers say on the classic station ‘the best hits of the 80’s, 90’s and today’ – but now that we are officially in the second decade, ie the ‘teens’ of the century – you can not just use ‘today’ for the name of the first century. What do we call that first decade? The zero’s … the oh’s? Those don’t have the ring they need. Continue reading

The Stages of Grief

Whenever I deal with grief, I usually do not even recognize it for what it is, probably because I have some strange concept that “big boys don’t cry”. Rather, I just feel the roller coaster of emotions and ask myself “What is wrong with me?” I find it helpful sometimes, though, to put a name to those emotions. Some scholars call these feelings the ‘stages of grief’. Below is such a list.

If your life has a religious component to it, then I urge you to turn to your inspired book or teachings for help through times of grief. For me, it’s the bible, with old and new testaments comforting those people who have experienced events that are mind-boggling. If you believe your book is the very word of God, that it does contain the Way of Life, then if your nose is not in said book, you are not being honest with yourself. It’s time to study it.

In addition to the book, maybe a read through the Stages of Grief, Continue reading

THE easyDATE video

I was chatting with my sister Sierra on the couch last week after Sabbath – we had just finished a movie – and we got on the topic of how complicated dating is. And that is when it hit me – a hilarious idea for a video about THE easyDATE (see finished product below).

Ah! - it's THE easyDATE

There is a lot to be frustrated about in life – that is, IF you are anything like me and are a perpetual ‘fixer’ for things, even when they are out of your control. But for a topic that falls within your control, dating has always bewildered me. Why does dating have to be complicated? Well I’m here to tell you it doesn’t – you just have to know about THE easyDATE!

All the complications stem from one word – Continue reading

Thank God for Swing Dancing (Music: 3 of 3)

Listening to Music on the Train

Is the music noise or something we are 'listening' to?

When are we going to get tired of living a life that is not up to the snuff of God and do something about it? This is the last part of a 3 part series (if you have not already, please start with Part 1).

3 – I’m thankful for music – because we must not forget to listen to it.

It was another great ‘follow’ I was dancing with that congratulated me by saying “You are doing a great job with your steps – you have definitely got the steps down.” And then she paused looking at me as if she was going to say something more, but held back. I asked her, “What else were you going to say?” She was a good follow, so she asked, “Are you sure you want me to say anything else?” Since I was here in class to learn, I told her to please proceed knowing it was going to be something that would tarnish my otherwise ‘glowing review’.

She told me, “You are forgetting to listen to the music.” [my reaction: Doh! *heavy sigh*]

Let me explain what she meant. The Lindy Hop steps are an 8 count step – and it goes like [1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8]. Or you could hum it [hmmm, hmmm, hm hm hm, hmmm, hmmm, hm hm hm] or breath it [hooo, hooo, huh huh huh, hoo0, hooo, huh huh huh] (where hoo0 is a breath out, and huh is a breath in]. Now it may not sound that hard – but when you add turns and twists and spinning, you have to keep that step going. What my friend was telling me was that I had the steps down – but they didn’t sync with the music. I was so-called ‘off-beat’, even though I was doing the steps, 8 counts each time, but my steps would drift out of line with the music. I was not in-tune.

I was following my own beat.

This caught me off guard because I was so worried about stepping wrong I forgot to remember that the reason I step in the first place is to dance with the music; with the music’s beat. Does this sound familiar? – getting bogged down with details and forgetting the reason behind it. It’s similar to the situation Jeremiah found himself in.

Jeremiah 17 is another chapter I encourage you to read. Jeremiah 17 is a decent summary of Jerusalem’s seeming impossible situation: The people of Jerusalem where not in-tune, even though they were doing the 8-count beat of sacrifices and listening to prophets – it wasn’t the music of the bible and Jeremiah’s message that they were in tune with. Jerusalem was humming it’s own beat – and quite oblivious to the melodic music of the marching Babylonians and God’s warnings. If you read all the way through chapter 17, God does give Jerusalem a potential way out of impending doom if they start by looking at the Sabbath day as a day for God. What caused most of this was what is found in Jere 17:5

Jere 17:5 For thus says the Lord: “Cursed is ‘the man’ who trusts in ‘man’ and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”

Re-Saying that verse with my analogy in hand – cursed is the man who dances to his own beats, whose ears have departed from the music of God.

I am thankful for the music of God – for the sheet music we call the bible. But as Christians we can not let the music be unheard, we have to listen to it, and let it change the steps we are dancing. Our steps must be in tune and on beat with God’s music – but we can’t do that if we are not listening.

Conclusion

I started learning how to do swing dancing because I was tired of going to church dances and not knowing how to dance to swing music. I got a lot more than I bargained for, though, because I never expected for it to be as hard as it is.

When are we, myself included, going to get tired of living a life that is not up to the snuff of God and do something about it? We will get a lot more than we bargained for, and it’s a lot harder than anything we expected. But God’s Kingdom is worth it.

I am thankful for good leads – because leading is hard. (James 3)
I am thankful for good follows – because they help tremendously. (Eph 5)
I am thankful for God’s music – we must not forget to listen to it. (Jere 17)

From all these points, hopefully now you understand why I say the following.

Thank God for Swing Dancing.

[Part 1: I’m Thankful for Good Leads]

[Part 2: I’m Thankful for Good Follows]

Thank God for Swing Dancing (Following: 2 of 3)

Dancing the Lindy hop in Atascadero, Californi...

Good 'follows' are vital to empower their 'leads' - and it definitely ain't just for women.

Huh? Out of all the things you could thankful for – why Swing Dancing? (see here for introduction). This is part 2 of a 3 part series.

2 – I’m thankful for good follows – because they help tremendously.

After dancing with a good follow, I thank them for a good dance. But what they almost always say is, “It’s not me – it’s the lead. I just follow what you tell me to do.”

Comments like this are encouraging, but they are slightly misleading. From the surface, you might get the idea that ALL of the responsibility of the dancing resides on the lead – and that simply is NOT the case. Most of the responsibility does reside on the lead in swing dancing, but there is a big difference in good follows and bad follows – they have to be willing to follow.

There was this one young lady who I have danced only once with in the class part of the dancing. As we switched partners, she came over to me, we shook hands. She said this was her first or second class and that she had ‘so far not been able to find a lead that knew what they were doing’. I kinda puffed out my chest without saying anything, because I knew that with the other follows I was pretty successful. But as soon as we tried the move, it was an EPIC FAIL. As the instructor counted out the steps, all of a sudden her feet fought my feet, my feet forgot what they were supposed to do, the gentle spin I tried to move ended up with her ignoring me completely. She wasn’t willing to follow.

Contrast that with the dance I had with one particular instructor, who was patient with me when I messed up. It was this instructor that led me to my other discovery about ‘how to lead’ – that I must not be shy with my right hand and I must put a positive pressure on the follow’s back (and get over my ‘awkward engineer disease’). She told me this and then encouraged me to try it with her by her basically completely submitting and not pre-guessing what I was about to do, even though she was 100x times better than I was. She forced me to be the leader by trusting me, but in a kind way that encouraged me to rise to the occasion. She knew I wasn’t that good, I knew I wasn’t that good, but she trusted me anyway, and I learned about how to lead.

You may think that it’s only women who need know how to be a follow – but I realized while preparing this that there are lots of times when us men need to know how to be a good follow. As an example, I have not always been that good of a son to my parents – sometimes I would do what the swing dancing community calls ‘steal the lead’ because I didn’t think they knew what they were doing. My approach, though, was downright wrong. There is a right way, a special way, one that is subtle but direct that follows can use to empower their respective lead to rise to the occasion – no matter what sex the lead and follow are.

This reminded me of the dynamic that exists in marriage – that is further explored in Ephesians 5. I encourage you to read this chapter – as I’ll just quote it rather quickly. Ephesians 5:1 really sets the tone for the whole chapter by Paul writing ‘be imitators of God as dear children’ – which I immediately realized ‘imitator’ is another word for a follow. Through this chapter, Paul explains what being an imitator of God is, how he loved us, and how we should submit to one another in the fear of God. And that is when Paul goes further by explaining the dual submission of husband and wife. Eph 5:33 is the one I want to quote directly which sums up how the husband/wife relationship is meant to work.

Eph5:33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This relationship is a two way road – the husband has responsibilities, the wife has responsibilities. It is not all up to the lead, there is vital part that follows play – and they can make a world of difference.

That is why I am thankful for good follows.

[Part 1: I’m Thankful for Good Leads]

[Part 3: I’m Thankful for the Music]

Thank God For Swing Dancing (Leading: 1 of 3)

Large group, mostly men, surrounds couples jit...
Swing Dancing: Just fun? Or a platform to learn from?

“WHAT?” you may ask. Most people around Thanksgiving would be thankful for family, the bible, or God’s love – not swing dancing of all things. But the neat thing is, these subjects are exactly why I am talking about my subject.

Here in town, there are free Swing Dance lessons offered by the local Swing Dance Association every Monday and Wednesday. I have attended them for the past few months. I am only a beginner – but I am learning lots of lessons. I’d like to share with you three of the most important lessons that have impacted me through 3 separate posts – and how they have each increased my thankfulness. Through this, hopefully you will come to realize why I thank God for Swing Dancing – and what a wonderful analogy it is.

1 – I’m thankful for good leads – because leading IS HARD.

In swing dancing, the male is called ‘the lead’. The woman is called ‘the follow’. The lead is the one that guides the follow into all the steps, twists, and turns that we call Swing Dancing. In case you didn’t catch it the first time – being a lead is hard!

Part of the problem, besides getting the basic steps down, is figuring out ‘how to lead’. I mean when I started, I would awkwardly take a lady by the hands and push her and pull her and try to make her do things (sounds kinda wrong, eh? it was). This might partially work if we both know what is going to happen, like in a class-environment. Out on the swing dance floor, though, there is no script for the two people, so one of them has to take charge. A good lead can help a follow do spins and moves that she has never done before in her life. This is an amazing opportunity and a huge responsibility. But in this same sense, I want to highlight that each of you is a lead of some sort – but they go by different titles – like Dad, Mom, Supervisor, Husband, Pastor, Elder, and one we all fit in: ‘Friend’.

How do you, as a lead, help your follow do a move? One lesson I’ve learned is that the biggest tool we have is usually one that we tend to ignore – in Dancing, it’s the right hand of the lead that is put on the follow’s back. I was ignoring the right hand because I felt strange touching someone I didn’t know – call it the ‘awkward engineer disease.’ This right hand, though, is the small rudder that turns the ship this way or that. And in thinking about the rudder example – it reminded me of James 3 which also speaks of a rudder. I am going to just quickly review James 3 -I recommend reading the whole chapter.

James 3 is the chapter about the tongue – a small tool we have that can build up or tear down – and sometimes we forget its power. But in studying it, the reason James talks about the tongue, is that he started with ‘let not many of you become teachers since we shall receive the stricter judgment’. Another term for teaching is leading – and James is warning that the more leading you do, the more you are held accountable. When James wrote this chapter he connected teaching, which you do with words, which are driven by the tongue, which produce fruits, which display whats in our hearts. James is connecting teaching and leading with our heart. With our tongue, the tone and direction we lead them is a sign of where our heart is. We can be negative – or we can be positive. It’s the lead’s decision. It’s our decision.

If the tongue is our version of the lead’s right hand on the follow’s back – do we have control of that hand (i.e. our tongue)? Is it just limply there and not providing direction (i.e. babbling)? Or is that hand too-rough causing bruising? Or does it have a finesse which tells the follow what it needs to know to become a better dancer.

This is not an easy task – and I thank all of you leads that are using your tongue in the right way. James explains in his book how the cards are stacked against us in regards to our tongue – he calls the tongue “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. But he also says that we, leads, should rise above this – because the reason our tongue does this is because of what is sitting in our heart. If we find ourselves leading our follow into a swing dance of hopelessness, we need to step back and re-evaluate what is going on inside ourselves. Leads will have the stricter judgement – and we must remember there is always hope – because God is really in control.

[Part 1: I’m Thankful for Good Leads]

[Part 2: I’m Thankful for Good Follows]

[Part 3: Be Thankful for the Music]