28 July 2008

Our Baby Girl

Ella Rhys Whaley,
Born in Austin, Texas,
July 28th, 12:22 PM,
6 lbs. 4 oz., 19 inches long,
Beautifully made!!!

Ella: foreign, . . . torch, bright light
Perhaps the old German meaning “foreign” is appropriate since Ella is the first child of parents who fell in love while both were foreigners in a strange land. Perhaps also because of a sense of affinity with Abraham and Sarah in the Bible who both lived as sojourners and waited for a child through whom God would bless all foreigners. May she seek by faith a lasting city.

Perhaps the Greek meaning torch gives the sense in which we hope Ella will be a witness to the The Way. Perhaps she will testify concerning the bright light that is Christ.

As popular a name as it was in the 1880s . . . “Ella” is back again!

Ella Fitzgerald was an African-American jazz singer with a beautiful gift for music.

Jason likes the name because Ella has the “El” sound, which means “god” in Hebrew. For example, the Bible begins with “B’reshi’t barah Elohim . . .”, “In the beginning God created . . .”

Rhys: enthusiasm for life
The English word, enthusiasm, comes from Greek—breathed-by-God—but the name Rhys has a Welsh origin and is popularly used for boys’ names in Wales after some strong rulers in the country’s history. Jason’s ancestors were from Wales, hence the family name, “Whaley”.

Perhaps “Rhys” is more commonly a boy name, but don’t be confused; let her first name make it clear since “Ella” also means “she” in Spanish. ☺ And, Rhys is a girls name according to one of our baby names books.

Another Welsh meaning has been used for this name in recent times and applied to girls as well: a stream. Of course, we hope this is a reminder of the natural power and grace of the Holy Spirit, sometimes thought of as a stream of pure water.

Other meanings include . . . ardent, fiery, zealous . . . eagerness, love, and passion . . . We have confidence that she will be a zealous doer, not merely a hearer of the Word . . .

Reese Witherspoon is a famous actress, but apparently “Rhys” seems to be an unpopular spelling for girls. It gives a unique sense to “Ella”, which is a much more popular name.

Ella Rhys . . . both names seem to fit together well and fit our daughter and give her lots of room to grow as well. We think Ella is going to be a sweet name for one sweet and joyful little girl who will grow into a woman with a sweet disposition and a joyful heart. May she seek a lasting city by the light of the Son of God.

Scripture that has Ella Rhys Whaley in it:
Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning Elohim . . .”

Hebrews 11:8-16, “Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner . . . Faith enabled Abraham . . . and Sarah . . . [They] were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.”

Galatians 3:8, “ . . . So Scripture announced the Good News to Abraham ahead of time when it said, ‘Through you all the people of the world will be blessed.’”

Ephesians 5, “ . . . Live as children who have light . . . Light exposes the true character of everything because light makes everything easy to see . . . ‘Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ . . . be filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs . . .”

Isaiah 66:12, “This is what the LORD says: I will offer you peace like a river and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream. You will nurse and be carried in Jerusalem's arms and cuddled on her knees.”

Amos 5:24, “But let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Micah 4:1, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD's house will be established as the highest of the mountains and raised above the hills. People will stream to it.”

Habakkuk 3:4, “His brightness is like the sunlight. Rays of light stream from his hand. That is where his power is hidden.”

20 July 2008

Justice Wears a Heart

I really want to see the new Batman movie and hope I can find time and a friend soon to see it with me.

I remember just before Batman Forever came out in 1995, they showed the movie trailer and one of the lines was, ". . . but justice wears a mask . . ." referring to Batman who wears a mask and fights crime. Does God care about justice? What does/would he do about injustice? Would God wear a disguise and slaughter bad guys?

Recently, I got the chance to be in class with a group of recent high school grads and college freshmen. We read Leviticus 19:1-37 and asked, basically, four questions and took notes as to some of what they all said. (Nicole chimed in, too.)

What does God do?
brings people out of oppression
saves people
delivers people

What is at God's heart? What does he care about most?
Sabbath, reverence, holiness,
caring for the poor, justice--fairness,
the stranger in the land,
worship (not to false gods),
life, supporting life,
compassionate (e.g., the deaf and blind),
honesty--don't steal

What information or knowledge is God most eager to share?
about himself--"I am the Lord"
"be holy"

What's the use of the Old Testament?
we're not slaves to the law . . . but it shows us what's right/wrong
it teaches us to care about what God cares about

There's a lot I would probably add in answering the last question, but that's another post.

19 July 2008

I've Always Loved Tusken Raiders

Rescue from Diabetes

I copy/pasted part of an article from www.mercola.com. If you are like me, pre-diabetic, perhaps you can adjust your lifestyle according to some good sense. My good friend Song Sun died a year and a half ago due to type 2 diabetes complications. He found it very difficult to change his lifestyle in order to reverse things before the dominoes began to fall on his organs. I hope that you and I are able to change ours. God, bless us.

. . .
Why is Diabetes Such a Dangerous Disease?

Diabetes has become so common that many don’t even bat an eyelash anymore. It’s almost as if diabetes has become “ok.” Just take your meds and you’ll be fine.

Not so!

Aside from the potentially deadly side effects of diabetes drugs, which I’ve covered in previous articles, the additional health complications that diabetes fosters are multiple, and quite serious, including:

Heart disease and stroke – Death from heart disease and risk for stroke is two to four times higher among people with diabetes
High blood pressure – 75 percent of diabetics have high blood pressure (130/180 mm Hg or higher)
Blindness -- Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20 to 74 years
Kidney disease – Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. In 2005, more than 45,700 people began treatment for end-stage kidney disease in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and another 178,700 were living on chronic dialysis
Nervous system disease -- About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage such as: impaired sensation or pain in hands or feet, poor digestion, carpal tunnel syndrome and erectile dysfunction
Amputations – In 2004, 71,000 lower limb amputations due to diabetes were performed in the U.S.
Dental disease -- Almost one-third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease
Pregnancy complications -- Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy among women with type 1 diabetes can cause major birth defects in 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies, and spontaneous abortions in 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies
Putting a Price Tag on Diabetes

There’s yet another updated study that warrants mentioning here: the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) study on Economic Cost of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2007.

The total estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. in 2007 tallies up to $174 billion. This includes $ 116 billion in excess (read: unnecessary) medical expenditures, and $58 billion in reduced national productivity.

Having diabetes not only plunders your health, but your pocketbook too. People with diagnosed diabetes incur an average medical expense of $11,744 per year, almost 2.5 times higher than those who do not have diabetes.

Follow the Bread Crumbs

The concept that diabetes is NOT a blood sugar disease is one that I keep striving to make well-known. As you can see by the numbers above, understanding the TRUE underlying cause of diabetes has the potential to save hundreds of thousands, even millions, of lives.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease caused by insulin resistance and faulty leptin signaling, both of which are regulated through your diet.

Until that concept becomes well-known in both the medical community and by the public at large, the misconception about what diabetes is and the appropriate way to treat it will continue to be promoted.

Conventional treatment that is focused on fixing the symptom of elevated blood sugar, rather than addressing the underlying disease, is doomed to fail in most cases. Treatments that concentrate merely on lowering blood sugar while raising insulin levels can actually worsen rather than remedy the actual problem of metabolic miscommunication. It just trades one evil for another.

Since most treatments for type 2 diabetes utilize drugs that either raise insulin or lower blood sugar, the tragic result is that the typical, conventional medical treatment for diabetes contributes to the additional diseases and the shortened lifespan that diabetics experience.

For the last 50 years or so, Americans have followed the dietary recommendations of a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet.

As an example, WebMD; one of the most visited medical information sites on the web, states that people with diabetes, who also have abnormal cholesterol levels, would be well advised to follow a diet that calls for 50 to 60 percent of your daily total calories to be in the form of carbohydrates.

That’s absurd.

They also state that table sugar is okay, as long as you readjust your medications to compensate appropriately (i.e. take more drugs to increase your fat cell storage capacity). Using toxic artificial sweeteners in lieu of sugar also gets the green light.

Folks, many of these recommendations are not based on what’s nutritionally healthy. They’re based on industry lobbying – just like the USDA’s Food Pyramid, which is fraught with industry conflicts of interest.

The proof is in the pudding as they say, and concomitant with the standard nutritional recommendations the incidence of diabetes and obesity has skyrocketed, and has become one of the worst epidemics the world has ever seen.

Eating a high "complex" carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet for health and longevity has been shown to be wrong. Minimal common sense would say to try something else.

How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic

Getting appropriate and regular amounts of exercise, and adopting an eating plan that emphasizes good fats, and reduced non-fiber carbohydrates and starches as outlined in my Total Health Program, can place you on the right path. Doing so will greatly improve and even reverse type 2 "insulin resistant" diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, many other chronic diseases of aging, all without the use of potentially dangerous drugs.

Excerpted from www.mercola.com.

08 July 2008

God and Country

A good friend and leader in the Park Ave church of Christ in Memphis wrote an excellent, I think, short essay in July 2006 on patriotism. So I thought I would share it:

I always look forward to the Fourth of July. It means good food and good times shared with people I care about.

Expressing one's patriotism is the thing to do on the Fourth! And I have no trouble doing so. I am glad to have lived in a country that grants me the freedoms that this one does. I acknowledge an inestimable debt to those who have sacrificed, some ultimately, to preserve the freedoms I hold so dear. I root enthusiastically for our Olympians. I get as riled as most when I hear the U.S.A. unjustly maligned. My response to such is this: How many people are doing everything they can to get out of it, preferring to live elsewhere? I rest! And finally, I'm a Viet Vet! Convinced? I hope so, for I don't want to be misunderstood as to what follows.

I get a little nervous at this linking of God and country. There are all sorts of "good Americans" who are not "God's people" in any way. And, of course, there are believing English, Russians, Japanese, and such. Don't we share something with them that is far more significant than a mere common citizenship?

And though there is much in our country that is good by virtue of the influence of Christian values, this country can by no stretch of the imagination be accurately described as "Christian". A quick look around should convince you of that.

One can be both a "good American" and a Christian, but they are entirely separate things, the latter being of infinitely greater significance than the former. God is God. He is not the representative of any particular nation, not even such a wonderful one as ours. We Christians would do well to remember it, even on the Fourth!

- Tank Tankersley, July 3, 2006

Also, there are these words at the close of an essay by Charles Marsh, © Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company :
. . . I am certain that it would be better for Christians to stand in solidarity with compassionate atheists and agnostics, firmly resolved against injustice and cruelty, than to sing "Amazing Grace" with the heroic masses who cannot tell the difference between the cross and the flag.

- Charles Marsh

I wonder if anyone has additional or critical thoughts about this subject they'd like to post as comments here.

05 July 2008

Holiday Weekend

4th of July at the Abuzeide's house, the guys outside with the hot grill, one of the kids, and a puppy dog. At the time telling basic training stories and how we got to be in the Round Rock church of Christ.

Chuy's, the King of Tex-Mex.

Nicole and our friends, sisters Sammie and Abby.

The only pillow I've ever loved.

04 July 2008

1 Peter 1:13-21

Therefore, your minds must be clear and ready for action. Place your confidence completely in what God’s kindness will bring you when Jesus Christ appears again. Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” So if you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth in fear. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done, and he doesn’t play favorites. Realize that you weren’t set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold which can be destroyed. Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the lamb with no defects or imperfections. He is the lamb who was known long ago before the world existed, but for your good he became publicly known in the last period of time. Through him you believe in God who brought Christ back to life and gave him glory. So your faith and confidence are in God.

01 July 2008

Good 'Ol Søren

Maybe you've heard of Søren Kierkegaard. A Christian philosopher, he was a critic of the Danish church. It just so happens that his country is now mostly atheist--at least that's my impression. We met a couple of exchange student girls a few months ago in Memphis. They came to church with us and one night had ice cream with a group of us and our friends. Corey and I, fans--is it fair to say?--of Kierkegaard asked the girls if they had heard of him. One of them had. Neither girl believed in God, but one of them really enjoyed the singing in church. They were very polite and open to friendships with Christians. Corey and I got a big kick out of the Danish pronunciation of our admired philosopher's name.

Anyway, here is a little reflection on Kierkegaard in Overhearing the Gospel, but Fred Craddock:

[Kierkegaard's] charge was that the clergy and the professors did not trust the word of scripture, but were constantly building around it the scaffolding of eighteen centuries of dogma, tradition, ecclesiastical machinery, and claims of authority. Whenver he had opportunity to preach, invariably it was an occasion for sharing the promise and judgment of a text of scripture. Quite unlike the sermons and lectures of the church, the Bible for Kierkegaard had the quality of a conversation, between God and God's people.

Here are a few neat quotes from Kierkegaard's writings regarding what I would call the risk of faith:

If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe.

It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.

During the first period of a man's life the greatest danger is not to take the risk.