Friday, November 30, 2007

Remembering Thailand

It’s been three weeks since I returned home from Thailand. I should have sat down when I first got home and wrote while I was still under the spell of exotic Thailand. Thailand rapts one away with its intoxicating charms. It is a land of many sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Whether I was walking down a small town street or in a tiny village, there is a never ending array of sights. The people are simple, busy about making a living in any way they can. They are industrious and are free to go into any kind of business they can without government interference. Matt and I were sitting in a street side cafĂ© when a man in his eighties walked by with a handful of baskets in his hand. The kind you might find bread sticks in when dining; When he passed by again I motioned him over to us and Matt asked him if he was selling them and how much. He was thrilled at our interest and told Matt he bought them for seven Baht and sells them for ten Baht. Seven Baht is about twenty two cents. I asked if I might buy a couple, which he promptly laid down and I paid him. He continued to talk with Matt for a minute or two, with much enthusiasm and many smiles. He was tall and thin with a rugged appearance. He then went on his way with a few baskets left. Not long after he walked by with all his baskets sold, he looked over at us and gave us a thumbs up signifying his successful marketing.
We also met another woman, very old, in the farmers market area with two large baskets, each one hanging from a 4’ stick, they were filled with herbs she was selling. Matt’s wife Thanita went over to her and bought a variety from her. Thanita told me later that she offered the woman more than she asked but the woman politely declined. I admired her dignity.

Floating Market

We visited the floating market where down narrow waterways, merchants bring their canoes filled with food, goods and woks, where they will cook your meal on the water and pass it to you by long-handled baskets

When I was at the floating market, a woman about 35 and her child, came up to me offering a beeswax looking product. I had no idea what it was and when she saw I was perplexed, she dabbed a bit on my temples and the back of my neck and began giving me a shoulder and neck massage. I sat there, not truly knowing what was going on, and enjoyed the massage and when she finished I gave her some money, she smiled and walked away. I was told later she sold massage oil? Beats me but later when she saw my wife Sue fanning herself and I had no fan, she brought me one to use as we waited for our ride.
She seemed to have no agenda other than to be nice. She was.

Thailand's spell

Much of my trip was spent simply under the spell of Thailand, art galore, an unending display of markets, far more than you ever have energy to explore, filled with handmade goods. Farmers markets with such an array of foods, Thailand is know to have the biggest variety of food in the world, and yes, I did eat an insect, a cricket. I had to choose from large larvae, huge roaches, grasshoppers, beetles and crickets. I thought the cricket seemed the most harmless and probably would be salty and crunchy—wrong! They have a very distinct taste, a taste that ten minutes of swigging iced coffee couldn’t remove. But I did it, once.
Little hidden restaurants, in out of the way places, more like gardens than eateries. Highways with heavy traffic that rival any large US city but jolted back to Asia by the presence of a man riding an elephant down the street.
Ethnic clothing nothing short of a riot of color with jewelry hand beaten out of silver adorning the wearer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Your Thirties

The Metabolic rate that allowed you to burn through supersize burritos in your 20s is slowing-- dropping by 1 percent every 4 years. And even if the number on your scale isn't rising, it's likely you're getting fatter. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that men who managed to maintain their weight for 40 years still gained 3 pounds of fat each decade-- while losing 3 pounds of muscle. The likely reason: after you pass 30 your testosterone levels decrease by up to 1 percent a year. This means it becomes harder for you to build , or even maintain, metabolism boosting muscle. See the connection?
Men's Health

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chariot of the Devil

Ps. 120:2 "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips..."

I read this little blurb from Edward Reyner, out of the Treasury of David. Such poignant language!

An unbridled tongue is the chariot of the Devil, wherein he rides in triumph. Mr. Greenham doth describe the tongue prettily by contraries, or diversities; "It is a little piece of flesh, small in quantity, but mighty in quality; it is soft, but slippery; it goeth lightly, but falleth heavily; it striketh soft, but woundeth sore; it goeth out quickly, but burneth vehemently; it pierceth deep, and therefore not healed speedily; it hath liberty granted easily to go forth, but it will find no means easily to return home; and once inflamed with Satan's bellows, it is like the fire of hell."

The course of an unruly tongue is to proceed from evil to worse, to begin with foolishness, and go on with bitterness, and to end in mischief and madness. See Eccles. 10:13 The Jew's conference with our Savior began with arguments; "We be Abraham's seed," said they, etc.; but proceeded to blasphemies; "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" and ended in cruelty; "Then they took up stones to cast him out." Jn. 8 - 33,48,59

This also is the base disposition of a bad tongue to hate those whom it afflicts. Prov. 26:28

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life is but an empty dream

One of my favorite scriptures of late is Psalm 45:1
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme”.

My Godly ambitions are like the tide with ebb and flow. I seem to be in a continual state of need; need of a noble theme to urge me along to fulfill my responsibilities in life. When I was in my twenties someone told me, “Life expects more from us than we are willing to give”. I have found that to be true. I may be more stubborn than the common lot, but I find that if I don’t have a combination of prayer, Bible reading and inspirational thought, whether it is from pulpit or pages, I begin the easy slide backwards. I think Paul mirrors the thought of David in Philippians 4:8 as he sums up how to live at the level we have already attained.”……..Think about such things”. So whether deeply spiritual or highly practical, I seek the noble theme.
With that I’ll pass along these thoughts from a book called “Beaten Paths”…

"You can always forecast the future of a young man by his disposition and ability to overcome circumstances. If he dreads trouble, if he shirks hard work, if he is continually stipulating for the least amount of labor and the greatest amount of remuneration, if he seeks the easiest, softest places in life, and looks for success to “turn up” through some favorable freak of fortune, he is almost sure to be a nobody as long as he lives. But where a young fellow takes hold of his work, resolved not to spare himself, but to win an honorable place against all costs and obstacles, that young man is going up, and no power on earth can keep him down."

These sentiments were put to poem by Longfellow---

“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
‘Life is but an empty dream!’
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not the goal;
‘Dust thou art, and dust returnest,’
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Finds us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, -- act in the living present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”
By the way, the pictures are of two warriors, the girl is the church, the other a decorated English officer

Thursday, November 22, 2007

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I like the way Orison S. Marden puts flesh to this verse with some practical applications in his chapter “Useful obstacles”. –

“Will he not make a great painter?” was asked in regard to an artist fresh from his Italian tour. “No, never,” replied Northcote, “Why not?” “Because he has an income of six thousand pounds a year.” In the sunshine of wealth a man is, as a rule, warped too much to become an artist of high merit. He should have some great thwarting difficulty to struggle against. A drenching shower of adversity would straighten his fibers out again.
The best tools receive their temper from fire, their edge from grinding; the noblest characters are developed in a similar way. The harder the diamond, the more brilliant the luster, and the greater the friction necessary to bring it out.
Only its own dust is hard enough to make this most precious stone reveal its full beauty.
The spark in the flint would sleep forever but for friction; the fire in man would never blaze but for antagonism.
From an aimless, idle, and useless brain, emergencies often call out powers and virtues unknown and unsuspected. How often we see a young man develop astounding ability and energy after the death of a parent, or the loss of fortune, or after some other calamity has knocked the props and crutches from under him.
The prison has roused the slumbering fire in many a noble mind. “Robinson Crusoe” was written in prison. The “Pilgrims Progress” appeared in Bedford Jail, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote “The History of the World” during his imprisonment of thirteen years. Luther translated the Bible while confined in the Castle of Wartburg. For twenty years Dante worked in exile, and even under sentence of death.

Chickens, hogs and a spinning top

The weekend following my return home from visiting my son Matt in Thailand, I went to a birthday party for a relative held at "Big Al's". This modern recreational wonder, hosts two bowling alleys, countless buzzing, ringing, exploding video games, cakes, pizzas, bubbly drinks of every type. Deafening rock music dancing on multiple huge screens throughout, with enough neon, tinsel, and glitz to put Wally World to envy.

I doubt this would have made the impact if I had not just the week before been, deep in the hills of Thailand, visiting an impoverished Hill Tribe of Hmong people.
The village was silent but for chickens clucking, a few hogs snorting and the peals of laughter from the playing children. I was captivated as the children from this dirt poor village ran and played with such enthusiasm and glee. They spun large wooden tops, ran along-side spoked tires, spinning them with a stick, made mud bridges in the dirt and hunted dauntingly with sling-shots. The little girl in the picture so charmed me with her broad smile and endless giggling and laughter as she demonstrated her prowess with her spinning top. With sunshine in her face, clear mountain air to breath and all of outdoors to run in, it seemed to me she had all the ingredients for childhood happiness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Masonry Quilt

I took this picture in a garden restaurant while visiting my son Matt in Thailand.
I was looking at the beautiful foliage when I looked at the path I was on and the contrasts and directions of the tiles caught my eye. What was the builder thinking when he laid these differing tiles? Three or four different patterns within a few feet. Was it patch-work or intention? A masonry quilt? The applications are many and I hope you enjoy it as I do.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I was reading in Pushing To The Front in the chapter
called "The Might Of Little Things", where he
encourages us to consider the importance of details
and all the little things that life is made of.
I liked the following illustration--

"I cannot see that you have made any progress since
my last visit," said a gentleman to Michael Angelo.
"But," said the sculptor, "I have retouched this part,
polished that, softened that feature, brought out that
muscle, given some expression to this lip, more energy
to that limb, etc." "But they are trifles!" exclaimed
the visitor. "It may be so," replied the great
artist, "but trifles make perfection, and perfection
is no trifle."

The application of this is endless; our marriage, and how we treat our spouse, our studies, rearing children, our pursuit of holiness, and just about every other life endeavor.