It seems important to me to express appreciation for some people who’ve made helpful contributions to my life in the past year. I’m coming up on my one year ‘anniversary’ as a ‘blogger.’ Many of you who visited the site, or contacted me personally, have been a source of great encouragement. I just hope some of the things I’ve written have caused you to think, and have been helpful in your own spiritual quest.
Incidentally, when one of us “ole timers” wondered about the use of the term ‘blog,’ I took a little time to acquaint myself with a relatively unfamiliar term to my self, in my never ending struggle to become adept in the use of an ever expanding technology and vocabulary of the computer and the Internet. I found it (“blog”) is a sort of shortening of another relatively new word, ‘weblog.’ ‘Web,’ I could understand fairly easily, is the ever expanding Internet (sort of like a spider’s ‘web,’ you know. Reaching out in all directions, making connections, with everything always having a relationship in some way to everything else. ‘Log,’ as I understand it, is simply a continuing record of activity or observations, sort of like a diary I suppose. You know truckers keep a ‘log’ of the mileage, destinations, contents of their deliveries, expenses, etc. And the folks on board ships keep ‘logs’ of their activities. So, a ‘blog’ is simply a continuing record, or conversation, between or among lots of people sitting at lots of computers wherever they may be in the vast Internet. Now, there.
But, please note: Any time you catch me talking about computers or computerese, you will know I’m out of my element. Please feel free to correct me when I’m wrong and help a poor computer cripple limp his way in the right direction!
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Among those whom I especially enjoyed meeting via the Internet are some folks I wish you could meet:
Ebby Dickens. That’s a pseudonym (She’s told me her real name, and we’ve exchanged some correspondence. We’ve also become friends.). She just stumbled on the site one day, and wrote a note of encouragement. Since that first exchange, she’s visited the site as faithfully as anyone. That includes my own family. Frequently I sent her advance copies of ideas I was about to post, asking her to proof read, critique my thoughts, etc. She’s never refused, and has often offered valuable insights and posted meaningful comments on the site. I sort of felt the Lord had a great deal to do with the way our paths crossed. **
Neil Simpson is probably the first person I found when I went “surfing” and searching for any sites similar to what I had in mind. What I found, for the most part, was disappointing. The “Bible” studies seemed to me to be “grinding some axe,” or “strumming some string” ad infinitum and ad nauseum, or selling something. Neil’s site was different. He has a widely varied site which deals with lots of issues: current events, apologetics, Bible Study, some of his family events and lots of other things as well. He’s a Christian businessman in Texas, and among other talents he is an excellent photographer. His filming of his daughters’ ballet troupe performing “The Nutcracker Suite” was so beautiful you could almost swell with pride just as the proud “Poppa” did. He will be worth your visiting for a number of reasons. When you visit my blog, click on his photo to your right. It will take you to his site. Enjoy your visits and know that you’ll always be welcome. His blog is http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com.
Robert Sutherland is an attorney in Canada. I’m still uncertain about how we found each other. He first began to comment when I was studying Job. I discovered that he’s not only a lawyer, but also a Bible scholar/theologian. He and his wife have two Saint Bernards (Thass right, TWO!). And I thought my wife and I liked pets!! In a position of great responsibility, Robert is taking his commitment to Christ very seriously. Dealing with some of the harsh realities that come to light during litigation, we should thank God for and pray often for those who fight for justice while retaining their integrity and compassion. In addition to his work in court, he’s written a scholarly book on Job. It examines this ancient document from the perspective of an attorney. The work is going to be used in the States as a supplement to a text which will be used teaching the Bible in the U.S. public school system. I want you to know more about him, but I also want to be sure my facts are straight. He’s documented his writing and his case studies correctly and in good form. Also, as soon as I hear from him and have his approval, I want to give you some facts about his book and where and how it will be used in the U.S.
My sons, Paul Timothy and Mark Jonathan, helped me get the site up and running. They continue to monitor and mentor ‘ole dad.’ I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their expertise. Tim does his own site entitled ItsaboutTim.wordpress.com. He and his wife (who’s doing her Medical internship just outside NYC) are both cycling enthusiasts and the best chance I have of having grandchildren via that union is a Cockatoo. Both Tim and Jon are ‘high techies,’ and they’ve encouraged and enabled me to continue this enjoyable effort (I almost called it “work.”). I love ’em both and am fortunate to have them around. They also have a way of gently, firmly, keeping ole dad on track. Occasionally, very occasionally, they say something. . . but ‘occasionally’ is the operative word. Guess they took me seriously when I used to tell ’em: “Donchoo sass me, boy. Or I’ll mash youah mouf!” Jonathan and Heather (who recently received one of the prettiest engagement rings I ever saw) are scuba diving enthusiasts and are talking (not seriously, I hope) about selling everything and going to live on an island. They take their scuba diving seriously, apparently. Looks like the closest proximity I’ll get to grand parenting anything with their names on it will be grand kittens. But I think “Titters” has already been deprived medically of his masculinity, and the other one is so darned scared or lazy I hardly ever see it when I visit. I get the impression that the very idea of reproducing anything would require more energy that it’s willing to invest!
Some of the folks who write me just “happen” upon the site. Or my wife mentions it. Occasionally, I’ll get brazen and invite someone myself. And some of you have invited others (Thanks. When anyone shows any confidence in what I say, or me I’m grateful and feel responsible. If someone has enough confidence to recommend me to someone else, I feel doubly grateful and doubly obligated. I don’t want to disappoint them, and I sure don’t want to embarrass anyone who recommends me to someone else!). For whatever reason they come, I’m grateful and feel I should always speak and write the truth in love.
In Jacob’s case, one night I’d been doing my own amateurish “surfing” and somehow came across his site. He’s only sixteen or seventeen years old and a relatively new Christian. But his writing showed such enthusiastic sincerity I wanted to encourage him and invited him here. Now, between us, I’d be really ‘blessed’ if some young, impressionable students found their way here and I could be of some consequence for Christ in their lives. I’d be particularly gratified if he began approaching the Scripture and read it like it’s fresh and new. Jacob’s testimony, like Neil’s, made me know we’re “kin.” In his case, also, if you click on his photo on the right in my site you’ll be taken to his site. He’s bright, young, and enthusiastic. We need more young folks like Jacob. Pray for him and encourage him to grow in Christ. His blog, incidentally, is called “THORNTREE.”
Marie N is a writer and translator (specializing in English and Bulgarian) who lives in Massachusetts. Her site is devoted to a variety of issues, but her heart beats most strongly for the persecuted Church. Wherever her brothers and sisters in Christ are caused to suffer for no other reason than their faith, Marie speaks out in strong protest. And reminds all who listen to her of our obligation to pray for them, support them in whatever ways possible, and be grateful for the freedom we have in our loved country.
Mark is the talented pastor of a historic little Quaker Church which I attended (Vacation Bible School) as a youth and where some of my relatives still attend in the little town of Graham, North Carolina. He has a very sharp intellect and a warm heart. He’s extended the church’s ministry to reach many of the police officers (Didn’t stop one of them from giving me a ticket not too long ago, though!). He also has developed an impressive website which attracts attention from all over. He’s a very dedicated, serious student of Scripture, and is undertaking a commentary of the entire Old Testament which he hopes will serve as his master’s thesis. He then will tackle the New Testament for his doctorate! If you think his ambition is admirable, you’ll be equally impressed with his ability. His site is http://www.markyman.com. He’s very careful about Bible Study, and has become quite well acquainted with many of the leading theologians in Church history. If you pay attention to what gets published, I expect you’ll be hearing from him in the future. You may also enjoy visiting his church’s website. It’s one of the best I’ve seen as far as Church communicating is concerned.
Mary Ellen Bowman came to my attention several months ago when I learned of the work she does with the Christian Women’s Job Corps in Wilmington, N.C. She’s the Director of that group and emphasizes their mission is to give a helping hand up. . . not a “Hand Out.” They concentrate on battered women, or those just leaving the prison environment. Often with children, most frequently without jobs or transportation, and almost always without a safe place to live. I sometimes wish I were independently wealthy so I could concentrate on finding people who need help. . . and just help them. Mary Ellen is doing that, with very, very limited resources, a very, very modest salary, and a few valiant volunteers. The group doesn’t have a web site, but Mary Ellen has an email address which you can reach for more details. . . and please feel free to do that, especially if you will take time to pray or have a few extra dollars lying around that need to be invested in a good work! Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. if you care to contact her. If you’re unsuccessful in that effort, please let me know and I’ll get you some more information. She’s a really wonderful lady, doing good work for ladies who really need a helping hand.
Judith is an attorney and long time friend. She’s sort of quiet and doesn’t verbalize her opinions often (She’s accustomed to getting paid for that!), but her observations and comments to me via email have been very insightful, very helpful, indeed. She also knows if I get anybody riled up and taking me to court I’ll need lots of free advice and help!
Mark Fox is Pastor of the Antioch Church in Alamance County. He was my Mother’s Pastor and the last time she and I were able to attend worship together, it was in his church. That morning, knowing Mom had prayed and invested so much in me, and knowing she’d be ‘going home’ very soon, I rededicated my life publicly to Christ. It must have been there that I began my “journey back to faith.” Mark has written a devotional column for the Burlington Daily Times News for years. He has also served students at Elon University as a faithful witness for Christ. He can be reached at antiochchurch.cc.
I also gained inspiration from visiting the site of Dr. J. L. Williams, founder and president of the international ministry of The New Dimensions ministry based in Graham, North Carolina. When I first knew of their work, it was primarily a modern, upbeat musical ministry with great appeal to youth. As they grew, their outreach expanded to include practical, helpful ministries in many places. The core of the work these days is the solid teaching and preaching of Dr. Williams as they continue to reach some who would have otherwise been overlooked. His internet address is: jlwilliams.net.
Very soon I’ll resume the studies of God’s “Comeback Kids.” If you haven’t been able to find one of them with whom you can identify, stay with me. I can assure you someone a long time ago faced challenging and life changing conditions almost exactly like yours. For some time now I’ve been reviewing the life of Jacob (a cunning con man) who became Israel (founder of the proud nation.).
** Before posting this, I secured consent from the people I mention. I will always respect your privacy and will not ever publish or divulge anyone’s personal information. . . certainly without your knowledge or approval. I place a premium on confidence and mutual trust and respect.