About the moment I hit “SAVE” on my last blog entry I noticed I had written the wrong date for the Newtown, CT tragedy.  I had put “12/13…” instead of the actual date of the event which was “12/14…” As soon as I noticed it, I tried to go back to edit it and found THAT isn’t an option – at least not for someone like me with limited power and authority.  In a sense, you could say my mistake is forever recorded in this “electronic book” unless someone with greater power comes along and changes it.

Today, I was reading 2 Samuel 14 – the story of David and his son, Absalom.  Absalom had killed his brother Amnon and out of fear of retribution from his father he’d run away and was gone for three years.  It says, however, that David “longed for Absalom.”  Strange to think that a father could love his child so much and would want to be with him even though he'd done something so wrong..

In verse 14 it says”Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.”  You know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life that bring a lot more shame than a typo in a blog.  Things that I cannot go back and “undo.” They were far worse – bad enough to “banish” me from God’s presence.  If you are reading this, maybe you are looking at your past mistakes and wishing they could be “undone.” The reality is they too are like water spilled on the ground. Once they happen, there isn’t anything YOU can do to take them back.  Our sins are like that, too.  And just like Absalom was cut off from David beause of what he had done, our sin cuts us off from God. Yet, I believe that God does "long for us" - He is "David" looking for his son, He is that Father waiting for his prodigal son to return.

So He (God) has devised a way (the Way, in fact) so that you and I don’t have to be estranged from Him. That Way became flesh over 2000 years ago.  And we celebrate His birth in just a few days. He is the way – and the ONLY way – to bring a sinful child back into the presence of his Father. For me and my family, this gives us something to celebrate.  And I hope you, too, have a Merry Christmas in the presence of your God!

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9/11… 12/13… These are dates that will always be linked to tragedy.  Like a lot of people, I was (and am still) really shaken by the events of last week when a gunman took the lives of 20 children and six adults before killing himself in a small elementary school in Connecticut.  Last night, a vigil was held in the town of Newtown, CT in which the President addressed an audience of grieving people and pledged that he would do everything in his power to prevent something like this from happening ever again. (http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbc-news/50220190#50220190) I appreciated his words, not just that pledge, but much of what he said especially because he book-ended his speech with scripture – very meaningful scripture.


And as I listened to what he said, I was just thinking that here is the most powerful man on this planet who is actually powerless in effectively changing the source of the problem.  Jeremiah 17.9 (NIV) says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Other versions use the phrase “desperately wicked…” instead of "beyond cure."


The “heart” of man IS the problem – a problem that governments cannot affect – social programs, mental health professionals, laws – these things might have a minor impact, but they’re like putting Band-Aids on a cancer.  They do not and CANNOT address the root problem.


Today I was reflecting on that thought and thinking, we could legislate gun control – we could take away all the guns, and the “desperately wicked heart” will use a knife to do something heinous.  So, we need to take away all the knives, right?  It will just find another way to do it.  Shortly after I had that thought, I read another headline: “Children hurt in China attack – More than 20 children are recovering after a man attacked them with a knife.”  Hmmm? “Desperately wicked…”


The most powerful man on earth cannot affect a change of the heart.  But Jesus can.  And we, the Church, hold the “keys of the Kingdom” (Matthew 16.18-10) Are we willing to use them?  Are we willing to do everything in OUR power - the power that Jesus has given to us? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and help people in a dark, dark world?  Not preach to them, not witness and walk away, not condemn them for their blindness – but offer the only REAL hope and solution that people have? A solution that cannot come through a president, or legislation, or a social program.  A solution that only comes when the heart is changed – a change that begins with knowing Jesus Christ. “3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1.3-4)


Church – we’ve got the understanding…WE know the light.  Let’s help those in the darkness to see it.

You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Bob Dylan, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” 1979

Each year about this time I take a moment to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new year.  And this time around it's no different.  Sort of...

2012 was, to quote from the opening sentence of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, “…the best of times…the worst of times.”  But why dwell on the negative, I say.  By faith we agree with Paul that “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8.28).  And then after making mentioned that we were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ he adds, …if God is for us, who is against us.” (Romans 8.31).  So, even the seemingly bad stuff is in reality all good stuff—from the perspective of faith, that is.

2013 is a mystery to me.  In my quiet time this morning I asked God, “Is this the year You will take me home?”  Not that I’m asking Him to give me an answer, mind you, just one of those quiet, reflective moments even guys like me have now & then.  And if there’s ever a good time for a quiet, reflective moment, then New Year’s should be it (I’ll be glad when this day’s over so that I can get back to my old ornery self). 

Unlike previous years this year I did not make out a detailed list of resolutions.  Instead I resolve to do one thing only this year—to be a good servant of Christ (and everything that goes with it, of course).  I’ve been reading, studying, and meditating on the Gospel of Matthew for about 2 years and am up to chapter 26 now.  Last month while reading through the Parable of the Ten Talents and the description of The Judgment in chapter 25 I was convicted of my need to be a better servant to Christ.  It made me think that I should not be satisfied with what I already do but that out of a love for Christ and His church I should serve with a greater degree of love and devotion to Christ.  As Christ told His disciples, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'” (Luke 17.10)  Not much wiggle room for pride and self-satisfaction there!

I’ll be teaching on the topic of being a good servant to Christ and His Church later this month.  Please pray that I would convey my message well.

Oh, the Bob Dylan song, “Gotta Serve Somebody”…  Mr. Dylan recorded this song in 1979 during his “Jesus years,” as some refer to it.  Not sure where Bob is now (spiritually speaking, that is) but it’s a good song all the same.  Here’s a link to a clip of it: 

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 (unfortunately, it won't let me insert a vimeo.com clip here and I can't seem to find this video on YouTube)

God bless!  ¡Prospero Año Nuevo!




Great News!  A new prime number was discovered and announced on February 5, 2013, consisting of over 17 million digits!  What, you don’t share my enthusiasm?  Oh, I see, it’s perfectly fine to act like a hyper-caffeinated baboon at a sports event but not to get excited about the first prime number discovered in four years?  Seriously, folks, if 257,885,161 – 1 =  581,887, …, 285,951 doesn’t move your mojo then why don’t you just pull up a rocking chair to your front porch and spend your remaining days waving to cars as they drive by.  By the way, to see all 17,425,170 digits (which I highly recommend) please visit http://www.isthe.com/chongo/tech/math/digit/m57885161/prime-c.html.

So, why all the excitement?  Because…well, because it’s there!  Finding prime numbers is the mathematical equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, except that it’s safer and can be done indoors.  Sometime around 300 BC Euclid (yes, the same guy that Euclidian or plain geometry is named after) proved that there is an infinite number of prime numbers.  So you see, the fun never ends!  Another year, or two, or three, and the good folks at the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a computer program that networks PCs worldwide to collectively hunt for prime numbers, will thrill us all once again, and again, and again…with yet another prime number!

What’s a prime number, you ask?  It’s a whole number (positive integer) greater than 1 which is divisible only by one and itself.  The first four prime numbers are 2, 3, 5 & 7.  Prior to use of computer systems finding the next highest prime number was an arduous, yet rewarding, task.  In fact, the last largest known prime number prior to the development of the digital computer was found in 1871, 2127 – 1, a mere 39 digits long.  Beginning in 1951 prime numbers have been generated using digital computers.  In 1997 GIMPS was founded and to date the project has generated fourteen Mersenne prime numbers, culminating in the latest one and the subject of this blog—and my excitable state at the moment (I’m sure the espresso I just had contributed to my euphoria).

What’s a Mersenne prime number you ask (assuming you have not yet hit the “back” button on this blog)?  It’s the discovery of a 17th century French monk of the Order of Minims by the name of Marin Mersenne (pictured at the top of this blog).  He was one of the most prominent mathematicians of his day and a contemporary of the likes of Galileo, Descartes and Pascal.  Mersenne, like many other monks throughout the history of Christianity (e.g., 15th century Franciscan Friar William of Okkam, “Okkam’s Razor” and 19th century Augustinian Friar Gregor Mendel, “father of modern genetics”) puttered with all sorts of science stuff.  You might say that this was their way of “monk-eying around” (am I hilarious or what?). 

In Mersenne’s case he dabbled into mathematics and physics.  For instance, he studied the oscillation of the strings of acoustic instruments and derived the mathematical formula for the musical notes they produce.  But Mersenne is best known for his discovery of the Mersenne primes.  He attempted to find a formula for finding all prime numbers—but failed (so has everyone else since, by the way).  Instead, he discovered that some prime numbers have the form,

2p – 1, where p is a prime number

But not all, for instance, 11 is a prime number, yet

211 – 1 = 2047 = 23 X 89

Sad.  But the good news—and this is where it really gets exciting—is that it has been proven that if a prime number is a Mersenne prime (i.e., the result of 2p – 1), then p must be a prime number.  And although no general algorithm for determining prime numbers has yet to be discovered, we can sleep at ease tonight knowing that the Mersenne prime number formula helps us eliminate many would-be impostors.

OK, OK, this blog is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  Regardless, it needed to be posted simply...because it was.

God bless!