Friday, August 31, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: my understanding inspires me to reply

Previously, in Job 1-2 the stage is set for the drama of Job's sufferings.

Job 3-14 is the first set of speeches where we hear Job followed by a friend in dueling monologues.

This pattern is continued in Job 15-21 with a second set of dueling monologues.

Here in Job 20, we hear Zophar give his second speech ...

Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.
I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
and my understanding inspires me to reply.
Surely you know how it has been from of old,
ever since man was placed on the earth,
that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.
Though his pride reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds,
he will perish forever, like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, 'Where is he?'
Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
banished like a vision of the night.
The eye that saw him will not see him again;
his place will look on him no more.
His children must make amends to the poor;
his own hands must give back his wealth.
The youthful vigor that fills his bones
will lie with him in the dust.

Do you think what Zophar says is true?

Indeed, death is the great equalizer. The good and the bad, the great and the lowly, the rich and the poor, all of us share the same fate.

True enough. But does it address where Job is at?

Job knows this is true. What he is complaining about is, where is God?

Job's concern is: I've really tried my best to live a right life and my situation seems just as bad or even worse than the fate of wicked people. What gives?

Zophar goes on ...

Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
though he cannot bear to let it go
and keeps it in his mouth,
yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.
He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.
He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.
What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;
he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure.
Nothing is left for him to devour;
his prosperity will not endure.
In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;
the full force of misery will come upon him.

Do you think Zophar is taking a jab at Job?

One could say that Job was "In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him..."

Indeed, distress and misery overtook Job. In Zophar's paradigm, it is the price to be paid by the wicked.

When he has filled his belly,
God will vent his burning anger against him
and rain down his blows upon him.
Though he flees from an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.
He pulls it out of his back,
the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors will come over him;
total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire unfanned will consume him
and devour what is left in his tent.
The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.
A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters on the day of God's wrath.
Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God.

Zophar mobilizes very vivid word pictures to describe the fate of the wicked.

I think this passage, along with a lot of other ones where Job's friends speak, illustrates the perils of making judgments about people's lives.

In isolation, what each of Job's friends say is mostly true. But in the context of Job's life, what they say is not pertinent.

The wrong lesson to draw from Job is to say we never make determinations about people's lives.

In life, we are asked to be discerning. After all, Jesus, in one of many picturesque statements, says, Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Jesus could be as tough as nails as he was with the religious leaders of the day. He could also be compassionate like he was in the various people he healed. And in some interactions, he was a mix of both.

So indeed, it may be cliche to say, what would Jesus do?

But he is our example.

We have to be honest and admit Jesus did have tremendous advantages in that he had a hotline to God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit!

We have access as well through prayer and the filling of the Holy Spirit, but humility demands I acknowledge that my heart isn't always pure, nor is my mind constantly focused God-ward and I'm a broken and leaky vessel for the Holy Spirit to be poured into.

Thus, I come to exercise discernment about people's lives with great caution and humility. Yet, we are asked to help each other in life and when necessary helping may mean reading someone the riot act. Hopefully, we will do a better Job than Job's friends.

Lord, clear the clutter of my mind so I focus on you. Keep working on my heart clearing away things that are wicked within me. Strengthen my will to want what you want. Nurture the coals within me that burn for you and stamp out the ones that lead me away from the paths of righteousness. Help me to be wise in how I lead others onto that same path. Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: Art and Spirituality


A few months back, I posted this item.

I did get to see the exhibit and took my digital camera and snapped a few shots.

Here is one for contemplation ... What do you think of the art object to the right?

And how about these random questions about art and spirituality ...

How much of the spiritual message is dependent on the context of the art exhibit?

Would this item (or any other art work) invoke spiritual thoughts if it were NOT displayed at a church as part of an exhibit with the title, "Spirituality in Contemporary Art?"

In the post-Christian era, to what extent do traditional religious symbols (like the Cross or a Lamb) have meaning to a viewer?

If you are interested in my thoughts on this art work, go to the comments.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Travel: wonderful little quote

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
-- St. Augustine

Found that little gem in this article about personal finances.

Non-Profit of the Month: August 2007 - Feed the Children

Heard about this this morning on the radio while driving to work.

Here is the blurb on the fund-raising effort:

Homeless children learn to go without lots of things that most of us take for granted... but expecting them to go without school supplies is simply too much to expect. That's why talkradio 790 KABC has teamed up with the Feed the Children Foundation to make sure that thousands of homeless kids in the LA and Orange County area will have a backpack filled with school supplies.

Obviously, the problem is one with many factors but the choice is between doing nothing or trying to do something. Maybe by trying to do something, the forces will be set in motion to do more!

Please consider giving to this effort!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Technology: 911 and Cell Phones

Saw this item in the Los Angeles Times.

The reporters studied the challenges of the 911 system having to field so many calls many of which come from cell phones.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life: and another summer winds down

So school sounds start soon
Long hot days start to fade away
Leaves fall yet new times

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sports: Dodgers sing, send in the 40somethings

I stuck a fork in 'em a week and a half ago. Since then they have gone 6-4 which is an improvement that keeps the team treading water. They need to make a statement against the Mets and sweep as they are 5.5 down in the NL West and 2.5 down in the Wild Card.

The Dodgers have signed 44 year old David Wells to bolster their injury depleted starting rotation thus joining 42 year old Roberto Hernandez who was picked up off free-agency to help the overused bullpen.

I saw David Wells pitch when I recently visited San Diego. He can't break tissue paper with his fastball! Okay, slight exaggeration. He threw a lot of 67 mph curveballs and that night it was breaking well and the Mets were missing it and so he won going 6 innings.

Have nothing against 40+ year old people, I'm a 40-something! But it does say something about the situation the Dodgers are in that two of their playoff run acquisitions are on the plus side of 40.

Go Geezers ... err Dodgers!

Devotional Thoughts: Who may dwell in your sanctuary

Been reading in Job for some of my times of reflection. But sometimes, I feel it is "too heavy" and I'll do something else like think about a song with meaningful lyrics, try to write poetry, jot random thoughts that come to mind or read a thoughtful book.

In my mind, the idea is to "reboot" my mindset back onto God and there are many ways to try to do this.

Another way I do this is to read in the Book of Psalms. I'll either read one Psalm or one page in my pocket Bible that has the New Testament plus Psalms plus Proverbs. So today, I read from Psalm 15.

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Talk about rebooting my mindset!

Lord, forgive me for how often I DON'T live up to what is in this Psalm. Please give me the courage to follow you in a world that ignores you and your ways even if keeping my promise to you and others hurts me. Thank you that you welcome home those who fall short but admit it and call to you for help. I want to be righteous and blameless and enjoy your presence on that holy hill in that sanctuary. Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Space: Welcome home Endeavour

Isn't she a beautiful sight!



Image source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

I have to admit, I was nervous and had the NASA TV internet streaming video going.

Many years ago, two decades ago, I was driving to school listening to top-40 pop music when the DJ broke into the music with the first reports that something had gone terribly wrong with Challenger shortly after launch.

A few years back, it was an early Saturday morning when I listened with sadness on the radio that contact had been lost with Columbia on re-entry. As a high schooler, I had gotten up early in the morning to watch Columbia lift off in STS-1, the maiden voyage of the space shuttle program.

This morning, I was aware of the landing and the concerns about the dented tiles. The heat of re-entry is one of the dangerous parts of the mission. It was great to hear the NASA announcer report they were in touch with the shuttle as it punched through the fiery re-entry phase and began its moves to reduce speed for a Florida landing. There is nothing quite like seeing those images when the first long-range TV cameras picked it up and seeing it coast onto the runway.

Well done to the crew of Endeavour and all the NASA people at the various centers!

Welcome home!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Elsewhere: Stuff I've come across

Speedsters in stiletto high heels ... whoa, look at the determination in their faces!

Oprah.com's 20 questions to ask before you get married ... amazing how many questions are really practical ones!

I occasionally catch Krista Tippett's Speaking of Faith radio show on the radio. More often, I'll hear it via podcast if the topic sounds interesting.

Really was moved by their recent program on L'Arche which are communities of faith where mentally disabled individuals team up with assistants who help them. As a "high functioning" scientist type of person, it is so easy for me to define my life by what I do. Listening to the show reminded me that humans have an intrinsic dignity and worth regardless of what one is able to do.

I also heard on podcast, Krista's discussion about Marriage, Family and Divorce from Jewish and Christian traditions. Not surprisingly, a lot of the thoughts were highly pragmatic compared to the idealized vision our Western media-soaked culture has.

One interesting section was a discussion on the familiar notions of love as eros, phileo and agape. If I heard him correctly, the guest put it this way, eros is the love of a man and woman looking into each other's eyes. Phileo is of two people side-by-side looking at the same thing. In marriage, eros will wax and wane but if phileo is gone, the marriage is dead. And he also, of course, talked of agape love and illustrated by describing what should he do when he is working in the study and his daughter interrupts him. He said, if I always respond to my daughter, she becomes a tyrant! If I never respond, she stops wanting to interact with me. Agape love is never easy; it is finding the right response for the situation so that the receiver of agape is bettered.

Came across this sweet story about a 42 year old football mom from Florida who spearheaded a fund-raising effort to build a football field for Barrow High School. Barrow as in the town at the Arctic circle of Alaska!

Diane has some strong feelings about the whole "emergent" church movement. Here are some of her bottom lines.

In this item, Dan Kimbal tackles the question of what is "core" and "not core" in the emerging church conversation.

Enjoy!

Devotional Thoughts: whom I shall see for myself

Job 19 was this morning's reading.

Then Job answered and said:
How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?

The old cliche is sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. I suppose in some situations that may be so. But when you are in pain and your friends are saying hurtful things, it can be pretty tough to bear.

Job said "10 times you have cast reproach" reflects how badly beaten down he feels by his friends. He could be counting specific insults given by his friends in which case maybe there were 10 zingers that he has counted. If you are keeping score at home, up to this point Eliphaz has spoken twice, Bildad twice and Zophar once. Zophar is about to speak in Job 20. Thus, the friends have spoken five times which would make 10 an exaggeration. But I think the point is taken in any case that he feels broken up by his friend's lack of support.

And even if it be true that I have erred,
my error remains with myself.
If indeed you magnify yourselves against me
and make my disgrace an argument against me,
know then that God has put me in the wrong
and closed his net about me.
Behold, I cry out, 'Violence!' but I am not answered;
I call for help, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped from me my glory
and taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
He has kindled his wrath against me
and counts me as his adversary.
His troops come on together;
they have cast up their siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.

Job's recitation of his woes used word pictures of battles and nature torn down. As he saw it, it was as if God was at war with him. The next part of his monologue took the pain to another level as he felt abandoned by the people in his life ...

He has put my brothers far from me,
and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives have failed me,
my close friends have forgotten me.
The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger;
I have become a foreigner in their eyes.
I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy.
My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?

Brothers, relatives, close friends, guests, servants, wife, children, intimate friends ...

Job feels everyone close or far in relationship have abandoned him.

Is there any hope in Job right now?

Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
If you say, 'How we will pursue him!'
and, 'The root of the matter is found in him,'
be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
that you may know there is a judgment.

Probably the most famous part of the Book of Job!

The great statement that God redeems and that those whom God redeems will stand before God in the flesh.

There are many ideas of the afterlife: there isn't one, only the soul survives but the body is destroyed or the soul migrates to another body. But here, Job in this life will die (my skin has been thus destroyed) but Job, as himself, will meet God (yet in my flesh I shall see God).

And what might Job feel upon meeting God?

"My heart faints within me!"

We only know God partially right now and at times we glimpse the greatness of God but I admit a lot of times God seems hard to figure out. But one day, I, like Job will meet God and will fall down before him!

What else does Job say here?

" ... wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment."

Justice. We all feel there is something not quite right about the way things are and so we work to make them right. But we know for those who "get away with it" in this life, they will have to face the God of Justice.

Lord, Job was battered by the suffering of this life and wounded by the words of his friends. Yet, he kept seeking you however imperfectly. In the final analysis, what is the alternative? To take the path of Job's wife and say curse God and die? You are the author of life, you are the righteous judge and you are the redeemer. Where else am I going to go for true life? Lord, help me to lay my sin before you for you to take away. God, help me to lay before you my burdens and sorrows for you to weave into my life making me a more holy and loving person. Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Youth: World Premier!

Can you name that movie in one image?



The Artime home was decked out for a world premier viewing party!



You know something huge was going on when sports talk radio hosts are talking about a movie that has nothing to do with sports.



Friday night, August 17, was the world premier of this movie the eagerly awaited sequel to this surprising sensation.

Here were some of the Route re-watching one of the memorable scenes from the film.



Hooray East High Wildcats!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sports: A fan is what a fan does and "My favorite Martin"

So despite the dismal play of the Dodgers of late, what was I doing lasts night?

I turned on the radio to see how they were doing and voila, they were winning!

The tag line for the game by the headline writers on the radio was "My favorite Martin."

Martin hit two homers to power the Dodgers to victory!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: My heart will choose to say

One of the songs we sing at church a lot that I like a lot is Blessed be Your name.

I like how the lyrics alternate between the happy and difficult circumstances of life yet through out upholding our desire to consider God worthy of blessing and praise.

Here are some of the lyrics to give a taste of the song:
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
.........
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Heavenly Father, whether I'm in the highest places filled with joy or in the dry desert you are there. Jesus left the 99 to look for the 1 lost sheep. You have come to look for me. So I ask the Spirit to fill me today to mold me and use me an imperfect vessel to advance your love and truth in this world and help point the way for other lost sheep. Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Youth: a recent evening together



Tonight, our time of praise and prayer was guided in part by these two passages:

"After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet ... " -- John 13:5

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me ... " -- Isaiah 61:1

Lord, remind and challenge our young friends to be servants to one another and to people You bring into their lives. Help them know and have confidence that they belong to You and are enabled by You in unique ways for the people and places You have put them. Amen!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: How not to do an intervention

Job 18 tonight.

I link to Biblegateway.com because with ease you can change to another translation and you can even get translations into many languages other than English!

I've tended to post using NIV, TNIV, ESV, NKJV. I've occasionally gone with the NLT and once in a while the Message. I personally like the NASB because I grew up with it. But cutting and pasting it from the Biblegateway.com is tough because I have to remove so many footnotes!

On the spectrum of more literal to less literal, I believe the order would be NASB -> NKJV -> ESV -> NIV/TNIV -> NLT -> Message.

For personal reading, I've been going with the NIV/TNIV. But for more serious examination, I'd supplement with the NASB. Within this blog, I've mostly used NIV/TNIV but have and will occasionally use one of the other ones to keep things fresh!

But back to Job 18 ...

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
How long before you stop talking?
Speak sense if you want us to answer!
Do you think we are mere animals?
Do you think we are stupid?
You may tear out your hair in anger,
but will that destroy the earth?
Will it make the rocks tremble?

Paraphrase: Job, shut up, you think we are dummies?

There is a time and place for "an intervention" when you whack somebody with a frying pan to knock some sense into them. I think this might not be one of those occasions!

Surely the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.
The sparks of their fire will not glow.
The light in their tent will grow dark.
The lamp hanging above them will be quenched.
The confident stride of the wicked will be shortened.
Their own schemes will be their downfall.
The wicked walk into a net.
They fall into a pit.
A trap grabs them by the heel.
A snare holds them tight.
A noose lies hidden on the ground.
A rope is stretched across their path.

Paraphrase: the wicked will get their just punishment in time.

Generally true but irrelevant to Job because he is not wicked. He has sought as fully and sincerely as possible to keep a right standing with God. Bildad is giving knitting instructions to a guy trying to land a plane in rainstorm.

Terrors surround the wicked
and trouble them at every step.
Hunger depletes their strength,
and calamity waits for them to stumble.
Disease eats their skin;
death devours their limbs.
They are torn from the security of their homes
and are brought down to the king of terrors.
The homes of the wicked will burn down;
burning sulfur rains on their houses.
Their roots will dry up,
and their branches will wither.
All memory of their existence will fade from the earth,
No one will remember their names.
They will be thrust from light into darkness,
driven from the world.
They will have neither children nor grandchildren,
nor any survivor in the place where they lived.
People in the west are appalled at their fate;
people in the east are horrified.
They will say, This was the home of a wicked person,
the place of one who rejected God.

Paraphrase: Look Job, if you don't turn around and fly right, this is what is going to happen to you. I didn't flap my gums with all this poetry just because I like the sound of my voice (well, maybe I do). I'm telling you all this because you are going down this path!

Application question: When do we do "an intervention?" How do we know if a situation warrants taking a frying pan to someone to get them to see straight? Jesus definitely did that on some occasions! And once we decide an intervention is necessary, how do we do it?

I'm sure Bildad and the others think they are helping Job see things more clearly. But of course, we know they are wrong!

So I suppose we can learn the "negative" lessons here... how not to do an intervention!

(1) Saying things that aren't even applicable to the situation. The friends keep insisting Job sinned but Job has declared that he has tried his best to be in good standing before God.

(2) Strong words are sometimes necessary but personal attacks don't help. The beginning part of Bildad's statements are way too sarcastic!

(3) Say your piece and leave it at that. In the end, people have free will. You can take a horse to water but you can't make her drink. Some of the poetic rhetoric by Bildad is just that: a way to be emotionally manipulative. We can't control people. If we think they are on the wrong path, you tell them so but in the end if they are adults, they are responsible for their lives.

Lord, give me wisdom when I even dare think about giving advice to people. And give me humility should I share that advice. And give me love that is seeking the welfare of the other person and not trying to prove a point. And indeed, sometimes, the wisest, humble and loving thing to do is just listen. Help me to know when to do which. Amen.

Sports: Stick a fork in 'em, Dodgers are done

They are 6 down in the NL West and 3 down in the wild card and the team is showing no signs of getting off the downward elevator.

Certainly, part of the problem is the injuries to the starting pitchers.

Lowe is clearly not himself with that hip injury. They may need to shut him down to prevent that injury from causing injuries to other parts of his body.

Wolf is out with a shoulder injury and is probably down for the season as well.

Schmidt was done very early in the season with shoulder problems.

Penny is the only one of the original starting five who is still going strong.

Various other pitchers plugged into the starting role were either ineffective (Tomko) or erratic (Hendrickson) or injured (Kuo).

Billingsley has come on strong as a new addition to the depleted starting corp but it must be disheartening to lose two 1-0 games!

Post-game Dodger talk fans are saying it is time to plug in the young players.

I agree.

The current team isn't getting the job done and it is time to roll the dice on the "kids" to see if they can turn the team around or at the very least, get them ready for next year.

It's time to plug in Young, Kemp and Ethier in the outfield and use Pierre and Gonzo as the occasional subs instead of the other way around.

I don't know if the Dodgers have any pitching prospects in AAA but they should consider bringing them up to test them out instead of going with the worn out arms of the older guys in the bullpen.

Being a baseball fan is truly the triumph of hope over reason. The Dodgers have won ONE playoff game since the magical ride of 1988. The last few years have shown some promise but in the end, it is heartbreak hotel for fans like me. A springtime of hope is followed by the frustrations of the summer and then the disappointment of the fall.

People cringe or laugh at "baseball fans" thinking them old fashioned for loving such a slow game. It is a classic case where those who understand no explanation is necessary and for those who don't no explanation will suffice.

To some the "speech" in Field of Dreams is cheesy and to others it is part of the reason why we love this game.

Of course, for those who love the movie, they know it isn't really a baseball movie but a movie about life.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Travel: Hot, hot, hot - Palm Springs July 2007

Recently went to Palm Springs for a brief get away from Los Angeles.

After lounging around in the hotel for a bit, went to the Palm Springs Art Museum.

There is free admission every Thursday from 4-8 p.m. during downtown Villagefest. And so since it was Thursday night, can't beat a free visit. It was 105F outside so going inside for the art and the air made a lot of sense!
Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 325-7186
Closed Mondays and major holidays
Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Thu 12 pm-8 pm
$12.50 adults
$10.50 seniors 62 and over
$5.00 youths 6 to 17 years, students and active military personnel with I.D.
Free to children under 6 years.



The museum leans toward modern and contemporary art though it had a small number of old classics.

One of the displays at the museum was the Russel Wright exhibit.



In another section, they had various glass works. Here was one of the really colorful pieces that caught my eye!



These aren't real people! But from a distance you would think they were real people just sitting on a bench looking at a piece of art across from them on a wall.



How do you decide where to have a meal in a town where you don't know anything about the options?

You can ask a local!

Was in the mood for fish and there are plenty of swanky upscale places for fish but what about something more affordable?

Check out Fisherman's Market and Grill.



The quality of food to price ratio was very good. As you can see the setting isn't fancy but its cool which is what you are looking for when it is 90F+ outside!



One can order any number of fresh fish on the chalkboard and have it grilled. I asked the lady at the counter to suggest something and she liked the fish tacos and that was what I ordered. I thought it would be lighter fare but the portions were actually quite generous. Or maybe in the heat, I just wasn't that hungry!



Fisherman's Market and Grill
235 S. Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (760) 327-1766
Fax: (760) 416-8641
Mon-Sat 11:00 am-9:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm-8:00 pm

After dinner, I walked up Palm Canyon Drive to check out the downtown Villagefest. It was their weekly street fair every Thursday night. There were many arts and craft vendors, food carts and musicians.



If I hadn't had the delicious fish tacos, I would have had some of the grilled meat from this vendor below ...



The crowd wasn't very large as the sun was still out. I went back to walk by all the booths again when the sun went down and the crowd was much larger. With the sun down, the tourists ventured out from their air conditioned hotels and lots of the local kids were buzzing about in packs of their friends.

What to have for breakfast?

Plenty of hotel dining options but why not get out and about? A local recommended Rock Garden Cafe.



I bet the locale is really packed when it isn't broiling out! But even with the misters going, most people went inside for breakfast/bunch that morning.



I enjoyed the omelette!

And reasonable prices too.

Rock Garden Cafe
777 S Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264-8126
(760) 327-8840

There are many art galleries and specialty stores in Palm Springs. One you may want to check out is Bon Vivant.

Disclaimer: my parents know the owners. Nevertheless, Bon Vivant has been around for a while and is doing pretty well and clearly to survive in that kind of business you have to have a good eye for stuff to sell to the customers who are usually interior design people.



Bon Vivant
457 N. Palm Canyon
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 12-5 pm and by appointment
psbonvivant@aol.com

I suppose one of the iconic tourist destinations of the area is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.



In about 12 minutes, one is transported away from the hot desert to 8000+ feet where it is nice and comfortable!



It was really nice to take a leisurely walk in the woods where it was so peaceful and quiet.





Hmmm ... is this a natural formation or did some park rangers put that there to cause us hikers to stop and contemplate this sight!

Going back to the question, where do you eat when you don't know any of the local options?

Well, one can go where there is a huge crowd... they must know something!

Had a wonderful burger from Hamburger Mary's. Its more expensive than your typical fast food burger but it was really good and good sized with all the fixings. Also, the fries are terrific!

Hamburger Marys Bar & Grille
415 N. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: 760-778-MARY
Fax 760-322-7466

Where do you eat when you don't know any of the local options?

Well, one can go where there is a modest sized crowd.

It was a Friday night and some of the restaurants had people spilling out into the streets. Didn't want to wait forever for dinner. Some restaurants looked way too swanky inside for my budget. So I came across Backstage Bistro. I suppose everyone was inside the showroom for the evening event so the streetside dining was not too crowded.

I had a delicious salad with cheese and fruit. I must say though that the slices of beef on it were a tad overcooked. The bread was great too!

Backstage Bistro
200 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 864-9293

One observation I have to make about all the restaurants I visited was that I found the customer service to be a bit under-whelming. It was not the most attentive nor friendly. But I wonder if the fact that it is 90+ at 9pm and 100+ the rest of the time had anything to do with it? With that in mind, all us diners should cut them some slack.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Space: "The classroom is now open ..."



With those words the NASA launch narrator reported that external tank separation had occurred and Endeavor was well on its way to achieving orbit.

Shuttle launches are never routine though in the public consciousness they have become so. However, yesterday's launch was special because it was a promise kept from 21 years ago.

Congratulations to Barbara Morgan, educator-astrounaut!

Now let's all work real hard to bring her and the rest of the crew home safe in two weeks.

Devotional Thoughts: tapping into the creative side of the mind



One of the things the new "emergent" type churches and people who have some affinity for them like to do is incorporate art into their quest for spirituality. I'll leave the whole is emergent and postmodern debate kosher for another occasion!

The other day, in youth group, we did some using of our imagination to spur us to thinking about our walk with God.

Above is art (my attempt!), poetry (I'm not setting my sights on that poet laureate gig!) and Bible passage that spurred my reflections.

Your grace renews me like the wings of the morning
As your Spirit restores praising from mouring
May your light lead me to the truth of You
And the assurance You are good and make all things new
May I walk through the day looking all around
For the glimpses of beauty that can be found
Psalm 139:9-10
If I rise on the wings of the dawn
If I settle on the far side of the sea
Even there your hand will guide me
Your right hand will hold me fast

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sports: 755, 756

Post Script: Bonds hit 756 in front of Giant fans on Tuesday night August 7, 2007. Here is the press statement by Hank Aaron and message in his recorded video remarks:
I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader. It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.

Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.

My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams.
Update: 8/1/2007

Watch for the flashes as Barry Bonds is at bat!

I was at Dodger's Stadium to see the Giants play the Dodgers in the 2nd game of the series. LAPD was out in force and the Dodger blue security guys were quick to kick out unruly fans! Anyway, Bonds flied out, grounded out, flied out (a very dramatic catch by the CF Juan Pierre that had the crowd going crazy!) and his fourth a bat was an intentional walk. Dodgers were down 4-2 when I left and while walking to the car, the crowd went crazy as Gonzo drove in the tying 2 runs and then Garciaparra hit a two-run homer to get the lead. Saito closed it out for a 6-4 Dodger win!!!! One more game Thursday night and we shall see what happens!

UPDATE: 8/2/2007 - No homers for Bonds. Dodgers falter in a 4-2 defeat. Tomko spotted the Giants a 3-0 lead in the first inning and the Dodgers were trying to dig themselves out. In the bottom of the eighth they had bases loaded 1 out but the Killer Tomato struck out and Martinez grounded out weakly. Those two guys are seasoned vets and they provide a valuable clubhouse presence I'm sure, but between the lines, they may well be past their prime (both are sub .200 hitters). Veteran Garciaparra gave up first base so youngster Loney could be an everyday player. Perhaps Saenz and Martinez should give way to a AAA or AA prospect? Problem is sometimes the youngster are so "deer in the headlights" facing major league pitching that they would even do worse! What is a GM and manager to do!

***

Well, the Giants go on the road to play the Dodgers and then the Padres.

If you are the manager of the Dodgers, do you pitch to Bonds?

If you are the manger of the Padres and the record has still not fallen, do you pitch to Bonds?

The Dodgers have the longer history of battles with the Giants.

As a Dodger fan who has been to a number of games in the last few year, there is no question the crowd is especially vocal when the Giants are in town.

The Padre fans seem to be a mellower crowd but they too are divisional rivals and would loath the idea of having Bonds break the record in their park.

Speaking of how riled up Dodger fans can get, the other week, I sat in the left field bleachers and heard some fans heckle Marlon Anderson. Marlon Anderson? Is he really deserving of heckling? So I would imagine the crowd will be in full voice heckling the far more famous or infamous left fielder Barry Bonds. Weisman wonders aloud what will happen at Dodger's stadium if the record falls there on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

So if you are Grady Little, do you order your pitchers to issue the walks or do they go after Bonds and let the chip fall where they fall?

We shall see!

TUESDAY 7/31 - Giants vs. Dodgers, game 1 of this home stand. Penny is penciled in to start but he will have to test his muscle strain and could be a late scratch. Plaschke has an item about the disdain for Bonds among Dodger fans. Excerpt:
It was Sept. 17. The Dodgers had arrived in San Francisco with a two-game lead over the Giants with 11 games remaining.

It was a traditional Dodgers team, filled with five rookies of the year and immersed deeply in Dodgers culture.

The general manager was Fred Claire. The manager was Bill Russell. The stars were the likes of Mike Piazza, Karros and Raul Mondesi.

They had made the playoffs the previous two seasons, losing in the first round each time, but were ready to go further. The kids had grown up. The manager was finding his niche. A return to greatness beckoned.

Four players finished the year with at least 30 homers. Five pitchers won at least 10 games.

"This was a very good team on the verge of something very special," Claire remembered.

All they needed to do was survive San Francisco.

Then, Bonds stepped up in the bottom of the first inning of the first game against a withering Chan Ho Park and changed everything.

With Darryl Hamilton on first base after a walk, Bonds crushed a Park fastball into the cheapest seats in right field for a two-run homer.

Just as the ball disappeared, Bonds' legendary tackiness appeared.

He dropped his bat and pirouetted in front of home plate.....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: he who will shake hands with me

Job 17 this quiet Saturday afternoon while the laundry is going.

My spirit is broken,
My days are extinguished,
The grave is ready for me.
Are not mockers with me?
And does not my eye dwell on their provocation?

As a young person, most of the time I am filled with a "fighting" spirit... BRING IT ON ... and other such Die Hard-ish kind of bravado.

But there have been times when I feel so beaten down that I can relate in a small way to Job's despair here. He wants to raise the white flag of surrender, to throw in the towel, to tip the king over in resignation.

Now put down a pledge for me with Yourself.
Who is he who will shake hands with me?
For You have hidden their heart from understanding;
Therefore You will not exalt them.
He who speaks flattery to his friends,
Even the eyes of his children will fail.

For today's reading, I clicked on the NKJV text. The phrasing ... Who is he who will shake hands with me? is interesting. Too bad I don't read Hebrew. I wonder what it says because in the NIV the phrasing is ... Who else will put up security for me? I wonder which is the more "literal" translation? Or are they both trying to bring into our language and culture an idea from the Hebrew language.

But anyway, using the NKJV imagery, is Job asking, God will you promise me to be with me? Will you shake hands with me on that God?

Job seeks vindication and the presence of God?

Job then takes a poke at his friends saying they don't understand.

But He has made me a byword of the people,
And I have become one in whose face men spit.
My eye has also grown dim because of sorrow,
And all my members are like shadows.
Upright men are astonished at this,
And the innocent stirs himself up against the hypocrite.
Yet the righteous will hold to his way,
And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger.

Job feels he is the object of derision. He is in the land of sorrows and shadow. Yet, he believes there are upright who see his situation and are astonished unlike his friends who assume he must have secret sin he won't release. Job believes the innocent are riled up by the situation. He believes the righteous will stick to their guns even in light of what is happening to him.

When I look at the world and see injustice there is the temptation to just toss up my hands and join in. You know, what the heck, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. BUT, if we believe there is a God who cares about righteousness then we can't do that. Job despite everything is still hanging onto this thread. It seems a thin thread right now but he is hanging onto it!

But please, come back again, all of you,
For I shall not find one wise man among you.
My days are past,
My purposes are broken off,
Even the thoughts of my heart.
They change the night into day;
‘The light is near,’ they say, in the face of darkness.
If I wait for the grave as my house,
If I make my bed in the darkness,
If I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
And to the worm, ‘You are my mother and my sister,’
Where then is my hope?
As for my hope, who can see it?
Will they go down to the gates of Sheol?
Shall we have rest together in the dust?

Job again slips back into despair talking of death as the next stop in the journey of life for him.

I'm not certain how certain the translators are about the paragraph divisions in these texts. But this chapter had four stanzas.

The first one is quite bleak. The second and third ones exhibit some glimmers of hope. In the second he calls on God to shake hands with him as a promise and in the third he takes comfort that there are some who are outraged at his situation and aren't assuming the worst like his friends. But in the fourth, the existential realty of death is a heavy burden on him.

I was at a church camp and the speaker made an interesting remark that has stuck with me. Part of the job of the people in the church is to help each prepare for death.

Job's friends weren't being much help were they?

Lord, sustain those saints who are long on years and experience the aches and pains of this life. In the proper time, release them from the bonds of this earth that they may experience the fullness of your healing and joy of your presence. For us younger saints, help us to use the vigor of our youth for you and not waste it on things that do not last. Amen.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Life: Dating article I found randomly surfing the internets

Up in the marquee of this blog is a straighforward mentioning of my single status.

As an observer of human behavior all my life (I'm okay at it; not great, but not bad), I have always wondered what the appeal of the "bad boy" was to what seemed to me to be pretty together women.

So when I saw this item I clicked over to read it. Excerpts:
I think that for a lot of women, guys in turmoil seem strangely fascinating, as if they are, by definition, more interesting than everyone else. There’s more of that clutter, so there’s more going on, and there’s more to sink your teeth into, and there’s maybe even more emotional depth to such a person.
......
You’re going to get plenty of emotional complications from anyone. Even people who have their lives very well pulled together are going to give you lots of opportunities to practice patience and understanding. There’s no point in starting out with someone who isn’t even trying.
.......
All that “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself” stuff? So true. And if you’re choosing to date guys with major issues, you’re just as guilty as he is. Yes, everybody’s got issues, but not necessarily deal-breaker-type issues. Which is why women often say they’re seeking men who can fit their baggage in a carry-on. Unfortunately, there are lot of men who try to sneak a 75-pound trunk onto the plane and protest that it has wheels so it’s technically a carry-on. Women with issues are the ones who choose these guys.
.........
But I’d bet that most are just willing to tolerate the drama, because, thus far, that drama comes attached to the “best” person they could find. Essentially, they’re saying, “Yeah, he’s inconsistent, selfish, and distant, but he’s all mine.” Just realize that every second you’re spending with the wrong guy is a second that you’re not out looking for the right one — the guy who gives, the guy who listens, the guy who learns.
What do you all think?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Technology: Yikes, this is an R-rated blog!

Saw this item at Vintage Faith who has an "R-rated blog."

So I had to try the rating for myself!

Voila ...



Why?

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

dead (19x)
pain (6x)
death (4x)
suicide (2x)
steal (1x)

Devotional Thoughts: A prayer of Mother Teresa

Did a google search with the key words: prayer Mother Teresa.

I figured I'd find something inspirational.

Here is the one I focused on this morning.
DEAR JESUS, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
AMEN!