Brownie tithe…..

Yesterday while working from home I was given a treat by my daughter K. She had made a batch of brownies for her class for their Christmas party (note how I said Christmas party – you’re allowed to say that at a Christian homeschool school). And she knew I wanted one after she had made the plate for her fellow classmates. However, she called me into the kitchen and proceeded to slice out a very generous piece from the middle. You see, while some in our house fight over the brownie sides – the hard brownie crust that circumnavigates the baking dish, my favorite brownie section lies right in the middle where it is moist and soft. And my daughter knows this. And she wants to please her dad. So she proceeded to cut a triple size brownie section from exactly in the middle to give to me because she knew it would bring me joy. She did this before any of the other brownies had been cut for her or her classmates. She did this not out of obligation, but out of a generous heart. And she did this to please her dad who loves her so much.

Before she scooped out that prime brownie piece for me, I spotted a learning opportunity. I asked her to visualize replacing the brownies with her time, money, and talents. And then to visualize replacing me with God.

Because she voluntarily selected that prime brownie as the first one to serve to me, she did what we are all called to do with our time, money, and talents. We are called to give a tithe, literally translated to 10%, to God in the form of offerings to our church. And this tithe is to be off the top. The Israelites called it “first fruits”. We pay God before we do anything else. And we do it out of gratitude because God is what has given us everything – from our lives to our families to our jobs to our material possessions to everlasting life through accepting his son Jesus. And we do this because we know it pleases God. Just like K knows that I like the middle brownie, we know in Scripture (2 Corinthians 9:6-15) that God loves a cheerful giver.

The lesson sank in and really hit home, both for K and for me. It was a perfectly scripted way to look at God, our tithes, and how we should be returning to Him our time, money, and talents. And in this season of Christmas what better way to honor God’s gift of Jesus by giving back to Him and to others in need.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Remember: A Day That Will Live In Infamy…..

5 Facts About Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona

Excerpted from http://www.history.com/news/5-facts-about-pearl-harbor-and-the-uss-arizona

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time (12:55 p.m. EST) on December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, launching one of the deadliest attacks in American history. The assault, which lasted less than two hours, claimed the lives of more than 2,500 people, wounded 1,000 more and damaged or destroyed 18 American ships and nearly 300 airplanes. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers

  1. Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona.
    There were 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Of these 77 men, 62 were killed, and 23 sets of brothers died.
  2. The USS Arizona’s entire band was lost in the attack.
    Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers and eventually sank. Among the 1,177 crewmen killed were all 21 members of the Arizona’s band, known as U.S. Navy Band Unit (NBU) 22. Most of its members were up on deck preparing to play music for the daily flag raising ceremony when the attack began. They instantly moved to man their battle positions beneath the ship’s gun turret. At no other time in American history has an entire military band died in action.

  3. Fuel continues to leak from the USS Arizona’s wreckage.
    On December 6, 1941, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel—nearly 1.5 million gallons—in preparation for its scheduled trip to the mainland later that month. The next day, much of it fed the explosion and subsequent fires that destroyed the ship following its attack by Japanese bombers. However, despite the raging fire and ravages of time, some 500,000 gallons are still slowly seeping out of the ship’s submerged wreckage: Nearly 70 years after its demise, the USS Arizona continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day. In the mid-1990s, environmental concerns led the National Park Service to commission a series of site studies to determine the long-term effects of the oil leakage. In fact, the oil that often coats the surface of the water surrounding the ship has added an emotional gravity for many who visit the memorial and is sometimes referred to as the “tears of the Arizona,” or “black tears.”

  4. Some former crewmembers have chosen the USS Arizona as their final resting place.
    The bonds between the crewmembers of the USS Arizona have lasted far beyond the ship’s loss on December 7, 1941. Since 1982, the U.S. Navy has allowed survivors of the USS Arizona to be interred in the ship’s wreckage upon their deaths. Following a full military funeral at the Arizona memorial, the cremated remains are placed in an urn and then deposited by divers beneath one of the Arizona’s gun turrets. To date, more than 30 Arizona crewmen who survived Pearl Harbor have chosen the ship as their final resting place.

  5. A memorial was built at the USS Arizona site, thanks in part to Elvis Presley.
    After the USS Arizona sank, its superstructure and main armament were salvaged and reused to support the war effort, leaving its hull, two gun turrets and the remains of more than 1,000 crewmen submerged in less than 40 feet of water. In 1949 the Pacific War Memorial Commission was established to create a permanent tribute to those who had lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it wasn’t until 1958 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to create a national memorial. The funds to build it came from both the public sector and private donors, including one unlikely source. In March 1961, entertainer Elvis Presley, who had recently finished a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, performed a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor’s Block Arena that raised over $50,000—more than 10 percent of the USS Arizona Memorial’s final cost. The monument was officially dedicated on May 30, 1962, and attracts more than 1 million visitors each year.

May they rest in peace.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Yes, they actually let you do that…..

My Dad has sent me many of these videos of Bill Whittle. I like him because he seems like a common sense guy who also has a word sense of humor about him.

The video below reminded my Dad of his visits to us here in Kentucky where he knows we do things described in the video…..and then some. I’ve shared some of those moments with you here on these pages. Here is one of the biggest representations of that personal freedom — Thunder Over Finchville. Yes, right in the front yard. But we’ve also enjoyed other special moments from gun range firing to bonfires to 4 wheeler riding to model rocket launching to hosting a wedding. Again, yes, right there in the front yard.

All of this bantering makes more sense when you watch the video.

I thank God for these blessings. And I am happy to share with all my oppressed brothers and sisters who still haven’t escaped their respective nanny states.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Thief…..

In my spiritual journey, I have had many mountaintop experiences…..and just like everyone else, many times were spent in the valleys of life. And while we might thoroughly enjoy and seek out those mountaintop experiences, if you count the number of days we spend on top of a mountain, those days pale in comparison to those days we don’t spend on top of the mountain. That is not to say that we necessarily are in the valley — it is just meant to point out that you are either #1) on top of a mountain or #2) in a valley or on your way to or from the mountaintop. #2 is where we spend most of our lives.

I have several posts brewing that highlight certain times of revelation, growth, challenge, struggle, or mountaintop. Some people call these “testimonies”. I call them God’s fingerprints on my life.

For background and foundation, I was raised in a very Lutheran-centric home. My grandfather was a Lutheran pastor. My great-grandparents were Lutheran missionaries to China (where my full Norwegian, white-bread grandmother was born). I attended Lutheran parochial schools as well as college. One of my first memories was singing “Jesus Loves Me” in Sunday School and with my grandma — it was her favorite song. Another early memory was my grandma teaching me the Lord’s Prayer and me having to recite it by memory. I remember the extreme pleasure when I could recite it back to her when I was 7 or 8 years old. So I know doctrine and I know being Lutheran.

However, I did not “feel” Jesus until I was about 10 or 11 years old. Here is that story.

My neighborhood friends and I really liked our bikes. We rode them all over the neighborhood and beyond. They were not only our transportation, but they were also tools.

Tools for status. My friend Freddy had the nicest Redline BMX bike I had ever seen. Other friends had Mongoose bikes. My BMX bike didn’t have a brand because it was cobbled together. I scavenged the frame somewhere and painted it maroon. A friend gave me a pair of cool gold colored BMX forks. The rims were anodized blue. Together it looked more Franken-bike but it was steps above the K-Mart Huffy that kids had pinned as the basement floor of approval.

Tools for respect. Our BMX bikes allowed us the opportunity to gain skills and earn the respect of our peers. We did this through minor accomplishments like bunny hopping curbs, pitching out to crush cans, or most frequently by setting up a street ramp and seeing who could get the most air and land the farthest. I still remember the day when the pothead high schooler up the hill saw our ramp on his way to somewhere and said “Hey little kids, get out of the way. Here I come!”. As he careened his ten speed bike down the hill he probably hit that ramp at 20mph or so and took off like an eagle. We were saucer-eyed as he vaulted past all of our best marks still pointed heaven-ward. However, what goes up must come down. And ten speeds weren’t made for that stunt. He easily doubled our best jumps but landed in a crumpled mess heap way down the hill. His back tire immediately taco-ed and the rest just collapsed and he tumbled in a bloodied mess of flesh and metal. We were speechless and silent thinking he may be dead. He got up and said “Wooh, I taco-ed my bike dudes”. He proceeded to get up collect his bike and head up the hill home. I don’t think the pain hit him because he was so stoned.

Tools for freedom. Our bikes were transportation, not only to school, but to the world beyond. This was still the time where kids would be out “until the street lights came on”. We took full advantage going to the drug store for dime candy, hitting the many rogue dirt tracks, and frequenting video arcades. It was during these times where I picked up a bad habit. I stole.

The targets of my sin were not the candy from the drugstore nor the blips and beeps of the video games. My error was much less insidious, much more mundane, much less evil than any of those. Which made a perfect trap for this little church boy to fall into. I stole chrome caps off car tires. You’re thinking “What?” because you either don’t know what chrome caps are or you are thinking that it is such a minor offense. Well, first off, stealing is stealing so let’s get that out of the way. Whether it is money, candy, or chrome caps, if it belongs to someone else and you take it, you are a thief. I was a thief. I stole the little chrome caps that screw on top of the air valve on a vehicle’s tire. And so did my buddies. We adorned our bikes with them and were always on the lookout for better ones, nicer ones, shinier ones. The thing is you can only put two on your bike at a time. And I had dozens all stored away in little plastic 35mm film containers. Chrome caps had become my proverbial potato chip. I couldn’t eat just one.

Having been raised knowing right and wrong, I knew what I was doing wasn’t right. At first it started with my buddies and I would join in. We used to skateboard across a parking lot scouting the cool vehicles for caps. We looked for Camaros, Corvettes, Cadillacs, and Mustangs. Those were usually guarantees. Once we spotted a vehicle, we would then skateboard by it and pretend to fall. While down, we would quickly remove the chrome caps from that side of the car and move on. Later, however, I would be scouting on my own and collecting caps alone — absent was the peer pressure…..but I did it anyway. And it was wrong. But at that point I was powerless to make any changes.

It was at this point that I was in my sin, doing something wrong, and unable to stop it. In my prayers, I finally reached out to Jesus to help me; to keep me from doing wrong; to keep me from stealing something of someone else’s that I clearly did not need. Even though I knew right from wrong I could not stop and I knew I needed Jesus to help me. And then, that was it. I went out and “sinned no more”. I mean, I did have a little temptation here and there but once I said that prayer of repentance and seeking help, I was able to walk the straight path. And I knew Jesus was with me. I could feel Him with me.

And that is the first time this “raised in the church” boy felt the reality of Jesus. He was no longer words to a song or doctrine or a famous historic figure or someone the pastor spoke about. He was real!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

It’s a life…..

Yesterday’s video of the Little Drummer Boy was one of beauty and entertainment. The link to today’s video is one of truth and light. Our culture doesn’t want any of us to see that, but it still doesn’t make it any less than truth.

.

What a redemptive story.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net