The Answer is Jesus Christ Coffeehouse Rehearsal

Recorded 29 August 1975

These are unreleased recordings as opposed to a polished production. But some explanation is necessary.

The Answer is Jesus Christ was started by M.B. Flippen (that’s right, “Flip” Flippen, the motivational speaker) as a Christian counselling centre in College Station, Texas, in 1972. At the same time it was a coffeehouse outreach to the students of adjacent Texas A&M University. The centrepiece of this was the Saturday night coffeehouses, which usually started around 2000. This not only attracted those seeking the truth; it attracted a good number of talented musicians who made up the group that played for the coffeehouses. The Answer also featured artists from Maranatha such as Karen Lafferty.

To my knowledge, there are no extant recordings of an actual coffeehouse session. This recording is an “open mike” recording of a rehearsal. The recording used a less than optimal cassette deck and the Answer’s acoustics (it was an old bank) made matters worse. The songs themselves are edited in an attempt to replicate an “actual” performance. The one exception is Dr. James Stocks’ “Isaiah 40:31,” the only “Answer original” composition in the group. This moving rendition of a favourite passage of Scripture includes some explanation of the repeats and the chording in the hope that others will take on performing it.

The Answer Coffeehouse group, like many in the era, were torn between the style set down by the Keyhole down in Houston (the region’s premier coffeehouse ministry in the estimation of many) and a more “rock-like” style. The group sticks to the former, as did many coffeehouses. Nevertheless, as was frequently the case in the era, it was evangelistic and made an eternal impact on many of its listeners.

The Artists:

  • Tom Kayser — Piano
  • Vickry Kayser — Vocals
  • Pat Ballard — Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Bass
  • J. Michael Seerey — Twelve String Guitar
  • Mark Halliwell — Vocals

The Songs:

  1. Jesus Is The One Who Saves
  2. The World Needs Jesus
  3. Isaiah 40:31
  4. Oh Jerusalem (the original title was “Glory to God”)
  5. God and Man at Table Are Sat Down
  6. We’ve Got a Long Way To Go

If Anyone Needs to Skip D-Day, It’s Obama

The Queen, participant though she was in the original festivities, is not amused at being left out of the D-Day commemoration:

Indeed, she is decidedly displeased, angry even, that she was not invited to join President Obama and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, next week at commemorations of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, according to reports published in Britain’s mass-circulation tabloid newspapers on Wednesday. Pointedly, Buckingham Palace did not deny the reports.

The queen, who is 83, is the only living head of state who served in uniform during World War II. As Elizabeth Windsor, service number 230873, she volunteered as a subaltern in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and a mechanic. Eventually, she drove military trucks in support roles in England.

The Brits plan to send Gordon Brown, which will only work if he doesn’t come back.

The off and on spat between Obama and the British–especially the monarch–is the strongest reflection of his Kenyan heritage.  One thing that one discovers in talking to just about anyone who grew up or lived in a former British colony is a basic resentment of the Brits and British rule, rivalling the resentment that, say, the Southern Scotch-Irish feel towards their new masters in Washington.  I think that’s transferred to Barack Obama–a dream of his father–and explains the many things that people feel threaten the “special relationship” between the US and the UK.

But, from a personal standpoint, I think that Obama should have skipped the celebration altogether.  To start with, it’s not a “round number” celebration, but forced by the fact that many of the veterans won’t be around to celebrate the next one in 2014.

One of those was my father-in-law, who was almost blown to pieces near Utah Beach, spent the rest of his life 100% disabled, and died before the last one in 2004.  When one looks at the current administration and its agenda, one wonders, FDR notwithstanding: is this really the same country now that he (and my father for that matter) fought for in 1941-5?  And if it is now, will it be when Obama gets done?

Who’s this idiot? That’s me!

Our family business’ first trip to the then Soviet Union was an interesting experience. Our objective was to sell the Soviets (as they were called then) our offshore pile driving equipment for their offshore oil production work. Their idea was to get us to sell their diesel pile driving equipment and other Soviet technology in the U.S. (We eventually got there, but that’s another story altogether.

Needless to say, this was a recipe for confusion. One good thing that came out of it was our visit to the Monastery of Trinity-St. Sergius in Zagorsk, the administrative centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.

We did finally meet with the offshore oil people. It was strange too; when the babushka receptionist asked where we were from and we told them we were from the U.S., she jolted upward in her seat and exclaimed, “Oh, my God!” (this in an atheist state!)

Finally we had our closing meeting with our Soviet counterparts. This was during the age of perestroika, which simply means restructuring. This ministry was doing its own shuffle, so the chief negotiator unfurled the new organisation chart for the ministry. He spent a great deal of time going through everyone’s new title and position. Our agent got impatient with this presentation, so he thrust his finger at the centre of the chart and demanded, “Who’s this idiot?”

“That’s me!” the answer came back.

It doesn’t take being in a socialist organisation to make us feel that we’re “lost in the shuffle,” just another cog in the machine or just another “idiot” working in an structure that neither knows or cares whether we stay or leave. We get to the point where we look at ourselves and life in general in this way.

But that wasn’t God’s plan for us. We have a God who loves and cares for us, who created us and had a purpose for us from the beginning (“negative infinity,” as we say here.) Just because others who have their own purposes–if they have any clear objective at all–try to define us as part of their machine doesn’t mean that the God of the universe agrees with their assessment. He does not and neither should we. If we make him first in our lives, we will find his purpose for us and then we will never again be “this idiot.”

“Oh but he’s a born-again Christian, he doesn’t count”

Ruth Gledhill, in the course of her coverage of the scandal of expenses by British Members of Parliament, observes that journalists are no prize at keeping their expenses down.  Her own experience “on another newspaper” (she currently blogs and writes for the Times) runs like this:

I remember many, many years ago, and on another newspaper, being taken to one side by a senior colleague and being told that my expenses were far too low and to secure a good future there, I had to bring them up to everyone else’s level so they didn’t look, er, whatever. I pointed out the famous reporter on that paper at the time who cycled everywhere and claimed about 50p a week on exes. ‘Oh but he’s a born-again Christian, he doesn’t count,’ I was told. To my shame, I remained silent while being advised on how to inflate my expenses while remaining within ‘the rules’. If this was the kind of pressure that was put on MPs, many would have found it extremely hard to resist. I say this not to excuse, but to understand, and to confess the beam in my own eye while examining the beams in theirs. (Can’t quite bring myself to call them ‘motes’.)

We’re always told as Evangelicals that our behaviour is a witness to others.  While this is generally the case–and there’s Biblical backing for that–we should be aware of the fact that many in the world simply mark us as cranks and go on.  But I’m sure that many of the MP’s that are caught up in this wish they were “cranks” instead of where they’re at.

My mother was a fanatic on proper regulation and reporting of travel expenses at our family business, and it’s interesting to note that I’ve carried over the habits developed under her regime in my work for the church, which has earned the notice of the bookkeepers who process these expenses.

Sonia Sotomayor: Obama’s Harriet Miers?

Some of Jeffrey Rosen’s comments on Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court make me think of that:

I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths. It’s possible that the former clerks and former prosecutors I talked to have an incomplete picture of her abilities. But they’re not motivated by sour grapes or by ideological disagreement–they’d like the most intellectually powerful and politically effective liberal justice possible. And they think that Sotomayor, although personally and professionally impressive, may not meet that demanding standard. Given the stakes, the president should obviously satisfy himself that he has a complete picture before taking a gamble.

This the mirror image of a persistent gripe–especially by the likes of Ann Coulter–against Harriet Miers, i.e., that she didn’t have the intellectual horsepower to go up against her liberal counterparts.  Sotomayor does address another gripe that Coulter had about Miers, i.e., she isn’t an Ivy Leaguer (Sotomayor certainly is.)

Obama is obviously unperturbed by this, and it’s part of his greater strategy.  By nominating an Hispanic, he puts the Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to oppose a representative of the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. (unless our economy collapses and immigration becomes unattractive.)  Since they’ve already botched the immigration issue, it’s another opportunity for them to fall on their sword re the Hispanics.

Beyond that, Obama’s long term strategy is to erode the rule of law in the U.S., as evidenced by the way he handled the Chrysler bondholders.  By turning the judiciary into an appointed legislature, that agenda is certainly forwarded.  But Saul Alinsky’s disciple will find out that eroding the rule of law blunts the use of that instrument to forward his idea (Alinsky advocated the use of the law as a means to forward a leftist agenda)–that is, if his opponents will ever see the forest for the trees.

If his opponents don’t, someone will…

What We Need is a Light Trailer

At one time my old family business, based in Tennessee, opened a fabricating facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Across the street from our new plant was “U and Me Transfer and Storage,” (see photo) which we hired to move a lot of our machinery. We sent one of our supervisors to Florida to help set the shop up. The shop foreman in Florida told the Tennessee man that “U and Me would move this in,” and “U and Me will deliver this tomorrow,” and so on. Finally the Tennessee man threw his hands up in exasperation and asked, “When’s You and Me going to have to time to do all this?”

The plant was formally called the “Special Products Division;” one of those special products was a light trailer, shown at the left. This is useful if you want to do construction work at night; just set it up, turn on the generator, turn on the lights and work. In the U.S., with the problems of doing road construction during the day, these handy devices get a workout while crews attempt to repair or rebuild our roads at night.

Back in Tennessee, the company’s main product line went on, which was building pile drivers, many for the offshore oil industry. These machines are most easily put together vertically; you put the base on the ground, stack the ram and the columns on top, then the cylinder, tie the hammer together, lay it down on a flat bed truck and ship it (the stacking is shown at the right.) Because the hammers got so big, we did a lot of this outside, using truck cranes.

One evening we were stacking yet another hammer for shipment. It got dark; the truck was waiting for us, there was no question of waiting until the morning. The supervisor got the light trailer out, fired it up and turned it on so the men could see what they were doing and finish up. Unfortunately the plant was in a residential area. When we turned the lights on, the residents didn’t like it, so they started shooting at the plant. Needless to say, our employees and the poor truck driver found it hard to work with bullets whizzing past them.

Most residential areas like some additional light, but there are always exceptions, and obviously this was one of them. Unfortunately many people and areas don’t like the light being shined on them–any kind of light.

“…though the Light has come into the world, men preferred the darkness to the Light, because their actions were wicked. For he who lives an evil life hates the light, and will not come to it, for fear that his actions should be exposed…” (John 3:19-20) In a world where privacy is evaporating, people still don’t like their deeds to be known. In some cases this is due to the shifting sands of our legal systems; what is okay one day is punishable by life imprisonment the next. But much of our aversion to the light is because we know that what we are doing is wrong, legal or not. We make excuses like “I’m not a bad person,” not really understanding what that means or how it might be fixed if we are in fact a bad person. We know we are hurting others–we know we are hurting ourselves–but our main motivation is not to get caught, not to have the light shined on our deeds.

“But he who acts up to the truth comes to the light, that his actions may be shown to have been done in dependence upon God.” (John 3:21) Our God doesn’t need to turn on his light trailer to find out what’s going on in our lives and in our selves; he has “night vision” so to speak, and he knows what we are doing even if no one else does. But he doesn’t want us to just go on in the darkness until we stumble and break our neck. “Jesus again addressed the people. ‘I am the Light of the World,’ he said. ‘He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life.'” (John 8:12) It is his desire that we walk in his light and live in his love. Just as we used a light trailer to do our work outside the plant, so if we have Jesus Christ in our lives we can live as God’s child even under less than ideal circumstances. If you need to make him first in your life, click here.

For those of us who have been in the light, there’s a warning in this story too. We’re always talking about shining the light in the world, but this story illustrates that, even if we’re just shining the light on ourselves, others may not like it. Making religion a “private matter” may not help. Think about it: if you’re in an office, say, where everyone is having affairs and shacking up and you’re not, if you think your colleagues won’t come after you sooner or later, you’re not living in reality. No matter how low of a profile you take, the fact that you will not go along with what’s going on around you will make you a target, one way or another. That goes for churches too; that’s the main reason why churches are forced to go on the offensive whether they really want to or not. (Most don’t; that’s why church people are referred to as sheep.) But there’s encouragement for that too: “That which came into being in him was Life; and the Life was the Light of Man; And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness never overpowered it.” (John 1:4-5)

Use What You Have…But Use It

This site proclaims itself as “the online perch of an elitist snob.”  Part of that snob’s background was in yachting, and this story comes from that experience.

We had two dinghies; the smaller of the two was an 8′ fibreglass cathedral hull boat referred to as a “dilly boat,” depicted with a larger than normal crew below.

It was normally powered by a 3 hp Johnson outboard with an internal gas tank. For recreational purposes it was “mine;” it was my first powered conveyance of any kind. (The second was a 1971 Ford Pinto, which didn’t have much more power than the dilly boat.) When I was awarded this command, I made two requisitions:

  • I asked for a dipstick so I could check the gaugeless gas tank and fill up before running out in the middle of Biscayne Bay or whatever body of water I found myself in. I was awarded a teak dipstick (we did live in Palm Beach, after all.)
  • I asked for a tiller extension so I could steer the boat from midships. Sitting in the stern, the squat of the boat was so bad I couldn’t see where I was going. This request was complied with also.

But that was it. Let me assure you that navigating open salt waters with an 8′ boat and 3 hp motor took a little nerve and a lot of patience, especially when faced with wakes from craft several times my size (which was just about everyone else.)

In the meanwhile, my brother and mother went their way in an 13′ Aluma-Craft with a 7.5 hp motor. More power and speed, but the motor had the unnerving habit of conking out when furthest out. When this happened, I ended up being their tug boat, bringing them back to our yacht.

One year we were at Chubb Cay in the Berry Islands. They had been gone for a long time, and I had too but had come back. I was taking my ease when my father asked where my mother and brother were. Needless to say, I didn’t know. He ordered me to go back out and find them–he was all too aware of what could happen at sea, having served in the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific during World War II. So I drug myself out and went out to the “point.”

Sure enough, there they were, rowing around the point. They were out fishing in the open ocean when the engine quit running; they had spent the last 30-60 minutes frantically rowing to keep from crashing into the rip rap on the jetty. Had this happened, it would have been a disaster. They were glad to see me, underpowered and all, because 3 hp was better than 2 human oar power.

Today we–and I’m primarily addressing this to the Christian church–have a job to do. Many of us would like to have all kinds of things available to carry out that work, most of which cost more money. We spend a lot of time worrying about not looking “first class.” But if we look at places where the Gospel is really spreading rapidly–in Asia, Africa, and Latin America–we see that the work is being done with very primitive means and limited material resources.

In Exodus 4:1-4, we read the following:

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.

Moses was making excuses as to why he could not do the work. God answered, “What is that in your hand?” That simple staff is where God started the work of His power in the release of his people.

Moreover there are many people who themselves are about to go “on the rocks” of life. If we’re a little speedier “to the task” we might be able to keep them from foundering, even with the marginal resources we feel we have.

There are always times when more resources applied to the task are better. But our challenge is to do the work we have been commissioned to do with the resources we have and trust God to furnish the rest. As was the case with Moses, He will.

The Symphony of Prayer

Again, I tell you that, if but two of you on earth agree as to what they shall pray for, whatever it be, it will be granted them by my Father who is in Heaven. For where two or three have come together in my Name, I am present with them. (Matt 18:19-20)

When we think of this verse, we don’t usually think of music but of belief and prayer.  So it’s something of a head scratcher to find Origen, when discussing these verses in his Commentary in Matthew (written around 250), launches into an extended discussion about the “symphony.”  We are not terribly well informed about ancient music in general, so it’s an eye opener to read him talking about the “harmonies of sounds in music…among musical sounds some accordant and some discordant.”  What gives here?

In commenting on the New Testament, Origen had the distinct advantage of having Greek as his native tongue.  The Greek word for “agree” used here is in fact sumfonesosin, “sound together,” from when we get our word “symphony.”  Many Greek words have taken on connotations unknown in Classical or Koine Greek, but in this case the word for “agree” had musical connotations as well.

“Symphony” in the New Testament

The word sumphonos (soom’-fo-nos) and its variant forms appear nine times in the New Testament; citations for all of these appear below, with the word itself italicized.  Although most uses of the word in the New Testament pertain to “agreement” or “concord,” the one specifically musical occurs in Luke 15, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

  • “He agreed with the labourers to pay them two shillings a day, and sent them into his vineyard.” (Matt 20:2)
  • “My friend,” was his reply to one of them, “I am not treating you unfairly. Did not you agree with me for two shillings?” (Matt 20:13)
  • Then, as an illustration, Jesus said to them: “No man ever tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old one; for, if he does, he will not only tear the new garment, but the piece from the new one will not match the old.” (Luke 5:36)
  • Meanwhile the elder son was out in the fields; but, on coming home, when he got near the house, he heard music and dancing, (Luke 15:25)
  • Then Peter said: “How did you come to agree to provoke the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The foot-steps of those who have buried your husband are at the door; and they will carry you out too.” (Acts 5:9)
  • And that is in harmony with the words of the Prophets, where they say… (Acts 15:15)
  • Do not deprive each other of what is due-unless it is only for a time and by mutual consent, so that your minds may be free for prayer till you again live as man and wife-lest Satan should take advantage of your want of self-control and tempt you. (1 Cor 7:5)
  • What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial? or what can those who accept the Faith have in common with those who reject it? (2 Cor 6:15)

In this parable the Prodigal Son had demanded of his father that he receive his inheritance before death, to which his father consented.  So he left for the “far country,” only to waste his inheritance on hard living.  Broke, he fed pigs for a living until he realized that he would do better as a servant in his father’s house.  So he set out for home; when he got within earshot, he heard what was literally “the symphony and dancing.”  (Luke 15:25) Whether this was the Jerusalem symphony or just another collection of underpaid musicians is hard to say, but it sounded fine after feeding the pigs.

The rest of the uses of this family of words speaks of agreement; we will deal with these momentarily, but first we must look at the symphony itself.

Aspects of the Symphony

Any symphony orchestra, or any group of instruments intended to play together (fr. ensemble) must be in harmony with each other on a number of levels.

  1. The notes they sound must be equivalent to the same notes played by the other instruments. This is not entirely straightforward, because even though notes can be defined by their fundamental frequency, each instrument sounds different because the mixture of the fundamental frequency and its harmonic frequencies is different.  This difference can lead to having to make some judicious allowances in tuning from one instrument to the next; this is especially true with percussion instruments such as bells and marimbas, because their harmonics are not even multiples of their fundamental frequencies.  This all comes together when the conductor has the orchestra “tune up” before the beginning of the performance; it is then time for the symphony to get any out of tune dissonance taken care of before the actual performance starts.
  2. The performance must take place in harmony with the “leadership.” There are two forms of leadership.  The first and most obvious is the conductor.  While conductors are a relatively recent development in group playing, most any group of musicians has someone who is the “lead;” with a conductor there is one individual who is solely dedicated to this job.  The members of the orchestra must follow the lead of the conductor, both in terms of the score itself and how it needs to be interpreted.  This leads to the second form, namely the score itself.  All members of the symphony are facing the portion of the score which pertains to their particular instrument.  Until Clara Schumann solo performers did likewise; it was considered disrespectful to the composer to perform without the sheet music.  Adherence to the score is essential for proper symphonic performance.
  3. The notes must sound good with each other. Ever wonder why musical scales are configured the way they are?  This subject of temperment is rather complicated, but it relates to the interaction of the frequencies of the notes with each other as they vibrate the air.  These heterodyne effects can produce results that are dissonant; this dissonance is minimized both through the spacing of the notes and the use of note relationships such as fourth, fifths, etc..  The whole system of notes, both in their basic form and as they are put together in composition, must properly interact for music that is pleasing to the ear.
  4. The tempo of the playing must be uniform across the symphony. One of the real challenges of music pedagogy is to develop a proper sense of rhythm and timing in performance.  Problems with this are glaring in solo performance, but varying tempos amongst the various instruments create problems with group performance as well.  The flip side to this is that, since there are multiple performers in symphonies and bands, mistakes by one performer tend to be covered up by others.

Application of the Symphony

Now that we have considered the various aspects of the symphony as far as its harmonisation with itself is concerned, we can find some spiritual lessons as well.

  1. We must follow a consistent plan for our lives. Modern people have a habit of compartmentalizing their lives.  They live one way at work, another at home and still another when away from both.  They want their relationship with God to be the same way — something they do at certain times that does not affect their lives in general.  The New Testament consistently challenges such an approach to life: “What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial? or what can those who accept the Faith have in common with those who reject it?” (2 Cor 6:15) and “Then, as an illustration, Jesus said to them: ‘No man ever tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old one; for, if he does, he will not only tear the new garment, but the piece from the new one will not match the old.'” (Luke 5:36)  If our lives are to be a part of the universal symphony of life, they must be both internally consistent with each other and with their Creator, who has set forth a consistent, successful plan for life: “And that is in harmony with the words of the Prophets, where they say…” (Acts 15:15)
  2. We must follow the lead of the Conductor.  We consider our lives to be an autonomous affair.  But unless we submit them to God, the creator and designer of the universe, we can expect dissonance and difficulties.   Moreover our Conductor has a well written score in his Word — both written and his own Son — to follow.  This following of leadership must be when it suits us: “He agreed with the labourers to pay them two shillings a day, and sent them into his vineyard,” (Matt 20:2) and when it does not: “My friend,” was his reply to one of them, “I am not treating you unfairly. Did not you agree with me for two shillings?” (Matt 20:13)
  3. We must be in harmony with each other.  As we have seen, a successful symphony consists of musicians whose performance is successfully integrated with the rest of their colleagues.  God expects this kind of harmony to exist at all levels of the Church.  Starting with husband and wife: “Do not deprive each other of what is due-unless it is only for a time and by mutual consent, so that your minds may be free for prayer till you again live as man and wife-lest Satan should take advantage of your want of self-control and tempt you.” (1 Cor 7:5) this symphony must extend to the entire family and ultimately to the church as a whole.  This last of course is the place where the passage we started with is operative; harmony in prayer produces a symphony that ascends to God.  When we are in symphony with each other we can draw closer to God and have our prayers answered.

The journey from the symphony to the totality of our lives is not as far as we would like to think.  It is our task to become a part of the symphony that God himself has both written and conducts so our universe can be filled with beautiful music.

All New Testament quotations are taken from the Positive Infinity New Testament, which includes an explanation of the shillings as well.

Fulfillers of the Promise

I’m not exactly sure how old this is; I think it goes back to 1998.

A Good Bargain

It took a long time for my schedule to open up but at last I was able to attend my first Promise Keepers stadium event (arena event, to be exact.) During the lunch break our group decided to take in the book store tent just outside of the arena.  This is a risky move for some but for those of us who have successfully accumulated stuff (not necessarily good stuff but just stuff) the temptation to part with large amount of hard currency at a place like this is seriously diminished.

My wife and I have been married long enough to have mutually integrated many of our habits and one of them is her shopping technique.  When she enters a store, her first activity is not to buy either a) what she needs or b) what happens to be on the list, if one exists but c) what items the store has decreased the price on, and not just, say, 10% or 25% but 75% or 90%.  So when I entered and my eyes fell on the sign “Clearance” I know I had found what I was looking for.

One of the items I found was a Spanish “Promise Keepers” golf shirt, in an acceptable size and colour.  The fact that it wasn’t in English was irrelevant because of a) the seriously reduced price and b) the fact that I can somewhat read Spanish.  So I bought it and took it home.

I got to looking at it more carefully; PK has rendered their name in Spanish as “Cumplidores de Promesas.”  The Italians say that “to translate is to betray” but in this case there was an enhancement in store.  Spanish can be specific where English is vague. The title “Cumplidores de Promesas” when translated back really comes out as “Fulfillers of Promises” rather than those who just “keep” them.  If you think about this long enough what this really conveys is a person who

  1. Makes a promise.
  2. Takes whatever action is necessary to fulfill it.

We are so used to saying things we don’t mean in our “big talk” culture we really don’t realize it, even when we mean to be truthful.  But it really shouldn’t be that way.

A Done Deal

An example of what the Spanish name means in a secular sense comes from my brother’s last job as a car salesman in Houston, TX.  He was recovering from serious cancer (it came back to take him before the year was out) and had just started the job.  An Hispanic gentlemen from McAllen was in town to fulfil another one of those important promises men make, i.e., to buy a car for his daughter.  My  brother showed him around, they agreed on a car and the price, and then the man told my brother, “I’ve got to go to the bank and get the money.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

The rest of the rather jaded sales force told him, “Yeah, right.”  They couldn’t believe it, though, when the man came back in a few minutes with the money, purchased the car and drove away.  It was my brother’s first car sale and he was very proud of it.  (My brother discovered that this was the usual idea with Hispanic customers, i.e., that they were very deliberate to commit, but when they committed, it was a done deal.)

God’s Promises — Man’s Commitments

In Heb 10:19-25 we read the following:

Therefore, Brothers, since we may enter the Sanctuary with confidence, in virtue of the blood of Jesus, by the way which he inaugurated for us–a new and living way, a way through the Sanctuary Curtain (that is, his human nature); and, since we have in him ‘a great priest set over the House of God,’ let us draw near to God in all sincerity of heart and in perfect faith, with our hearts purified by the sprinkled blood from all consciousness of wrong, and with our bodies washed with pure water. Let us maintain the confession of our hope unshaken, for he who has given us his promise will not fail us. Let us vie with one another in a rivalry of love and noble actions. And let us not, as some do, cease to meet together; but, on the contrary, let us encourage one another, and all the more, now that you see the Day drawing near.

We see that God is described as faithful to his promise.  All of the events described in the first part of the passage, the salvation which Jesus Christ wrought for us, was predicted in the Old Testament and then provided for us by God himself in the New.  He made many promises concerning the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus and came through with those.

We cannot do what God has done for us.  What we can do is what we are able to do.  We can lift each other up and positively motivate one another rather than spending our time cutting each other down, for it makes more sense to make a good life by filling it with good activity rather than to define ourselves by what we don’t do and end up with a vacuum.  Unless when are shut in somehow, we can assemble ourselves together to worship God and to strengthen each other in our fellowship.   And of course, we must be fulfillers of our own promises, from the basic commitments we make in life to everyday things where “big talk” is so easy.

The day is drawing near when Jesus Christ himself will return to set things straight.  This also is a promise of God.  Will we have fulfilled our end of the bargain?

Bob Corker is a Great Presidential Candidate. Except…

Zach Wamp speaks of Tennessee’s junior Senator in glowing terms:

Rep. Zach Wamp told members of the Chattanooga Pachyderm Club on Monday that Sen. Bob Corker is gaining clout around the country as a potential presidential candidate.

He noted that Sen. Corker was chosen to deliver Friday night’s Silver Elephant Banquet speech at the convention of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Rep. Wamp said, “They could have had Palin, but they chose Corker. That is a big, big deal. It is a landmark beginning into the national political environment for our senator.”

He said the choice of Sen. Corker for the speech “was a high compliment and shows the stature that many around the country now regard him.”

Zach is justified in his assessment.  Bob Corker turned a tough election around in 2006, and his stand against blind obeisance to the trade unions–a stance rooted in Chattanooga history–is admirable.

Problem: he’s not an Ivy Leaguer.  And there’s no evidence that Americans will elect a non-Ivy Leaguer to the White House.  They haven’t done so since 1984 (Ronald Reagan.)  I’ve gone on this rant before.

Many in the Republican Party complain that the Party’s failure is due to its not articulating and standing for conservative principles.  That’s a problem, but the bigger problem for the party is twofold:

  1. The Republicans need to convince the American people that it doesn’t take an Ivy League educated elitist snob to run the United States properly.  Electing Ivy Leaguers is like eating comfort food; it feels good and is an easy habit to get into, but the results are a waist.  It defeats the whole purpose of “diversity.”
  2. The Republicans need to make the case–especially to a new generation raised on nearly forced consensus–that our country needs a competitive two-party system, and not just everyone “getting along” under one totally homogeneous idea.
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