Showing posts from August, 2006

Devotional Thoughts: Do I need to fast?

In chapter one, we see the locusts swarming through and eating everything in sight.

In Joel 1:13-20 we get a picture of some of the response to the devastation.

Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
wail, O ministers of the altar.
Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
are withheld from the house of your God.

What is sackcloth?

A Google search yields this item. Excerpt:Term originally denoting a coarsely woven fabric, usually made of goat's hair. It afterward came to mean also a garment made from such cloth, which was chiefly worn as a token of mourning by the Israelites. It was furthermore a sign of submission (I Kings xx. 30 et seq.), and was occasionally worn by the Prophets.

As the Old Testament gives no exact description of the garment, its shape must be a matter of conjecture. According to Kamphausen, the sa? was like a corn-bag with an opening for the head, and another for each arm, an opening being made in the…

Non-profit of the month: August 2006 - Friends of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl

I went to public school a number of years ago. I do vaguely remember a music teacher coming by about once a week. Eventually, the music program got cut back and the only way you got music was by joining the band or orchestra. Unfortunately, my ability to master even the simple recorder proved illusive.

However, I have retained a fondness for music and in particular classical music.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has its share of swanky events for the well-heeled such as the annual opening night gala.

However, they also take community and educational opportunities quite seriously.

So for this month's spotlight on non-profits consider support for Friends of the LA Phil.

Here is a rundown of other non-profits I've mentioned on this blog:

NIckels for Nets

Avenues Crisis Pregnancy Center

Faith in Christ Ministry

Habitat for Humanity

Culture: Pop music and the Bible

I wonder how many pop songs come from the Bible?

Off hand, I can think of Turn, Turn, Turn written by Pete Seeger and most successfully recorded by The Byrds in 1965.

The lyrics aren't an exact match with the Bible text but it is pretty close.

How do you feel about the pairings in the song and in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8?

It is life!

Boring? Pointless? Angry?

Ups and downs of life.

Pop songs are often very good at shining a spot light on the human condition and in this case taking the observations right out of the good old book!

Comparing the song with the Bible passage it is drawn from, what’s the difference?

Interestingly, Pete Seeger opted out of mentioning God.

I have no idea what his religious view were.

But clearly, God would not be content with just giving us a realistic picture.

Instead, God wants us to see more.

The key is Ecclesiastes 3:11-14:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from be…

Devotional Thoughts: the Locusts are Swarming

Image source: 2005 article in Sudan Tribune

Joel 1:2-12 relates the story of a massive locust invasion.

Hear this, you elders;
give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation.
What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.
Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.

As a 21st Century dweller, it is something outside my experience. Living in the USA, I don't know if in recent memory there have been any locust swarms.

A quick Google search yields this item from the University of Florida describing the largest locust swarm on record. Excerpt:The Desert Locust, Schistocerca gr…

Travel: Am back!

Image author Phil Hawkins described where I went as "Vogelsang! This is where the angels spend their summers ... "

It was truly God's beautiful country up there.

Plan to share more but will pique your curiosity with this photo of Fletcher Lake.

Travel: Going on holiday

Am going here!

Will be doing some backpacking ...

Hopefully, won't be looking this wiped out at the end?

News: Cease fire appears to be holding for now

At the moment, the cease-fire is holding but it won't take much for things to get hot again.

Dean Barnett thinks the cease-fire is delaying the inevitable and possibly to the detriment of the Israelis. His breakdown of the situation:As this struggle rages on, I’m often reminded of historian Paul Johnson’s description of European Jews during Hitler’s ascendancy. For millennia, Jews had been persecuted, but they had always found a way to placate their persecutors and survive. Maybe they had to make tributes or confine themselves to shtetls or undergo conversions, but European Jewry had never faced a truly existential threat until Hitler.

When Hitler came along, collectively the European Jews could not recognize the fact that here was an antagonist who could not be bargained with. He did not want their money or their professed loyalty; he wanted them dead. Period.

It seems the American and Israeli power-structures find themselves in a similar position now. As murderous and cruel as th…

LA Dining: Bossa Nova

My latest post is up at LAFB.

Where's the beef you say?

Give Bossa Nova a shot. It is Brazilian style though they offer pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and salads in addition to the tradition meats!

Bossa Nova
7181 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046-4417
(866) 299-5326

Devotional Thoughts: Ever heard of the book of Joel?

image source:
The image is from the Sistine Chapel as painted by Michelangelo.

Ever heard a sermon from Joel?

If you have heard a sermon from Joel, what was it about?

I've taken a quick read and here are some quick impressions.

Let's start at the very beginning, Joel 1:1:

The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel.

When we see "LORD" in our Old Testament, the Hebrew word is YHWH, the divine personal name of God. It was a name the Jewish people would never say. When they would come across YHWH, they would instead say adonai which appears in our Bibles as the word, Lord.

FYI, when the word God appears in the Old Testament, it from the Hebrew elohim. And of course, when you see Lord that is the Hebrew word adonai.


We know nothing about Joel from other parts of Scripture. There are other people named Joel but there is no clear connection to the Joel of this book.

He is the son of Pethuel. We know nothing abo…

Sports: go Dodgers!

I confess, I gave them up for dead when they promptly collapsed coming out of the All-Star break.

Here's hoping that the mix of vets and rookies can keep it up this weekend series against the dreaded Giants!

News: Hats off to the British Intelligence Services

They got the job done!

It also sounds like there was pretty good international cooperation in breaking up the plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives.

One has to wonder though about the legal dimensions. It would appear the Brits engaged in domestic spying (gasp!). They monitored British citizens on British soil (oh, no!).

Obviously, there is a lot we still don't know about the story. However, at first glance, one wonders if such a group was operating in the United States, would our intelligence services be allowed (legally) to monitor American citizens on American soil?

Anyway, a tip of the hat to the UK for a job well done!

Religion: Devotional Thoughts - Messiah Complexity Revisited

Several months ago, I had a post with the title, "Messiah Complexity."

The other day, there was a comment posted onto it by Adam Pastor of ADONI MESSIAH blog.

I always welcome thoughtful posts and his was certainly in that category.

He makes the point that Psalm 110:1 which says, "The LORD (YHWH) says to my Lord (adoni) ... " is mis-translated.

He said that the Hebrew word adoni should always be translated lord (non-divine) versus adonai which should always be translated Lord (divine).

Following that logic, he then points out that since Jesus used Psalm 110 to describe himself then he must be lord (non-divine). UPDATE: A Jewish rabbi makes essentially the same point in this item. Additionally, certain schools of thought in the Unitarian stream would agree with this analysis.

What do you think?

First, I'm am molecular biologist not a Hebrew scholar!

However, using what skills I have as a web surfer, I went ahead to check out this idea.

Indeed, I looked up the Hebrew…

Devotional Thoughts: Language of love - gift giving

Am looking at Philippians 4:10-23 this morning.

As I read it, I found myself thinking of the book, The Five Love Languages. If you aren't familiar with the idea, the author believes that love is expressed by five different languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

In this Letter to the Philippians, there are Word of Affirmation a plenty throughout. Here is a good example.

In Paul's plans to send Timothy and his hopes of eventually seeing them, he shows the desire for Quality Time.

In this last passage, we see a lot on Receiving Gifts.

Take a look:

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any an…

Politics: Writing to

This morning on the Dennis Prager radio show, he encouraged his listeners to call and write to the White House to thank them for the support given to Israel and to resist the critics.

So below was the email I sent:Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 14:55:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: thank you for standing by Israel

Dear President Bush:

Just wanted to add my voice in support of your steadfast support of Israel.

The war against extremist Islamic terrorists is being fought on many fronts and I want to thank you for backing Israel. Please stay firm despite what the critics say.

I'm an American of Asian ancestry and a Christian so my support of Israel is not based on my being Jewish or having some ties to that part of the world.

I've seen in the news recently some attention being placed on Christians who support Israel because of their vision of the apocalypse thus trying to draw some moral equivalence to the Iranian President's view of the end of the world.

My support of…

Devotional Thoughts: Keeping a cool head and a warm heart

Am looking at Philippians 4:2-9.

In this passage we get to see some final thoughts from Paul as he winds up the letter.

The church at Philippi was a real church with people with names and alas some conflict!

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Euodia and Syntyche's names only appear here in the New Testament. From here, we find they were part of the ministry team with Paul, someone called "true companion" (loyal Syzygus is in the footnotes), Clement and "rest of my fellow workers."

The fact that Paul, in a letter to the church which would be read publicly, brings up all these names and asks them to all get involved in solving the problem suggests the disagreement was rather large and of long standing.

We know from Matthew 18:15-17 the pattern …

LA Dining: Rita Flora

My latest is up over at LAFB.

I report by live blogging breakfast at Rita Flora which is a florist-restaurant with free Wi-Fi.

Rita Flora
468 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3524
(323) 938-3900

Politics: Iraq is war for oil?

I hear that a lot.

Let's face it, there is some truth to it. After all, if Iraq wasn't sitting on top of all that oil, Hussein would not have had the wealth to be the dictator he was. Imagine Iraq without oil. What kind of damage would Hussein be able to do? Probably he could still oppress his people but he probably wouldn't have had the resources to wage a long war with Iran nor invade Kuwait. He wouldn't have had the money to dabble in chemical, biological or nuclear weapons technology.

We also have to face the fact that Iraq is neighbor to other big oil producers Saudi Arabia and Iran. Thus, all the nations that depend on oil have an interest in what happens in that part of the world.

Just how much oil are we talking about?

According to the CIA World Factbook, Iraq produces 2 million barrels of oil a day.

If oil is sold for say at $60/barrel, one can buy all of Iraq's production with $120 million/day. That means you could buy all that oil for $43.8 billion/y…

Religion: All this Jesus was married stuff

Just caught a part of a GMA interview Diane Sawyer had with Kathleen McGowan who claims to be a descendant of Jesus and has written a novel about the whole Jesus was married to Mary phenomena.

For an extended discussion of this topic, check out Mark D. Robert's analysis.

In brief, his point is that the well known four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) don't indicate that Jesus was married.

So where did the idea come from?

It came from non-canonical gospels. There was a whole slew of less well known documents that claim to be about the life, times and teachings of Jesus. However, their historical reliability is relatively weak.

Imagine if you are an alien from outer space and you wanted to know about life on earth and the only thing you read was those magazines at the grocery store check out counter!

You'd get a pretty strange picture of life on earth!

Seen on the web: the fighting llamas

See the photo of the special forces llamas of the IDF! HT: DR.