Discipleship – is a matter of extremes

As many know, the lowest elevation in the continental U.S. is Badwater, Death Valley, California, at 280 feet below sea level.  And the highest is Mt. Whitney, whose spikey summit soars to 14,508 feet.  Most know that Mt. Whitney can be seen from Badwater.  Fewer know that Badwater and Whitney Portal (the peak) are parted from each other by 135 road miles.  Even fewer may know that each July—this year July 10-12—some 100 elite runners will dare the 115 degrees of furnace-air heat, shimmering asphalt temperatures, hallucinations, emotional lows and a 48 hour time limit to run 14,600 vertical feet to the summit of Whitney.  AAA Westways Magazine, July/August, 2017, pp. 59ff

But how many Christians in all America know that faith in Christ demands the extreme in discipleship?  While only those with a proven record of long-distance running qualify for the Death Valley ultramarathon—participants must have run at least one hundred-mile race in the previous year, and at least three 100 miles over all, everyone can be a disciple of Christ only at the extreme cost of self-denial.  And no discipleship exists without accepting that condition.  We can be church members under nearly any condition:  in our degraded age, almost ANY condition.  But Jesus set self-denial as the basic condition of discipleship in his kingdom, and he’s never reduced it.  That extreme condition makes demands that church membership won’t and can’t.  Maybe that’s why Jesus has so few “extreme Christians.”  But isn’t the term extreme an oxymoron?  For since only those living in self-denial belong to Jesus, the word “extreme” is superfluous.  Self-denial is the natural state of a disciple of Christ.

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Self – no limit to what we can spend on

An article in Saturday’s U-T, 6/24/17, revealed the latest home-improvement idea:  create outdoor living that compares with indoor luxury.  That way you can be simultaneously homeless in comfort while free at any time to seek indoor security.

Of course you need the accouterments of successful outdoor living.  Perhaps the most important is a sound system and flat screen television.  That way you can be a nuisance to the neighborhood. They can call the cops who’ll come and tell you to “turn it down.”

Then you’ll need a fire pit to keep the chill away after Old Sol sets in the West over the great Deep.  And what would the outdoors be without comfortable furniture, rugs, carpets and/or tile? To say nothing of a daybed when you can nap (a good idea), or read (OK also), while zephyrs float lazily by.  Then, when you awaken or tire, you rise and reach the high tech grill on which you can cook a meal or snack.

To complete the outdoor-indoor delight, build a bar at the end of one wall.  Then you and your guests can booze up the place.  What’s America for if it isn’t to drink alcohol?  Oh, and don’t forget…string some lights along the perimeter.  So Cal doesn’t have much trouble with bugs, and people do need to SEE.

Your Eden in lifestyle awaits.  Just overlook the thousands of dollars you’ll pay for the things “you must have” to be a complete indoor-outdoor afficianado.

Jesus told us to crucify self, to live in self-denying discipleship, to spend little on what constitutes any kind of self-indulgence.  Against his every refusal to tolerate us if we disobey, we continue in self-absorbed conspicuous consumption.  Our every failure to succeed as Christians without him fuels our desire to remain self-willed.  We consider every demand for self-denial a permission to live self-indulgently.  What perverse people even disciples are.  And how much more so those who don’t recognize Christ’s ownership of life and his right to order our obedience.  Listen to him when he speaks.  Obey when he commands.  Or we’ll be useless to him now and sorry for ourselves forever.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com        

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Memories – bittersweet

Nick Canepa writes his sports column for the Union Tribune.  Disgusted and disgruntled with, and disrespectful of the San Diego Chargers he rightly calls Judases, he wrote some of his memories.  Being a Chargers fan since 974, this writer can understand Canepa’s bittersweet remembrances.

Here are a few.

Canepa first went to the old Balboa Stadium with his dad.  How could he forget that? he asked.  Our family remembers seeing Old Balboa Stadium just east of downtown.  In 1982 he covered his first Chargers training camp as a member of the late “lamented Evening Tribune.”  Who doesn’t miss that paper?

He said famed coach Don Coryell would be so deep in concentration on game day he wouldn’t recognize him, though he had covered the Chargers for two years.  Once in Seattle on game day Canepa boarded the outdoor glass elevator for a trip to the dining room for breakfast.  A few floors down Coryell got on.  He didn’t notice Canepa, the only other person aboard.  All the way down the two of them descended.  At the bottom Coryell got off, not having seen Canepa.  “I cracked up,” the Greek wrote.

He also remembered Dan Fouts.  What Chargers fan doesn’t?  After one practice he met Canepa and took him for a ride.  To talk.  To get acquainted.  The great Quarterback, the Rookie writer.

No doubt who ran the Chargers when Fouts came on the field.  He also had a game face.  Once, in San Francisco, after Fouts and Montana dueled each other all game long, each throwing over 400 yards, the Chargers won.  Fouts sat at his locker.  A reporter approached.  Stuck his microphone out and asked a question.  Fouts replied with a profanity that underscored his demand to get the microphone out of his face.  He then realized it was his dad, longtime announcer for the Niners.  U-T, 6/19/17

There were more memories in the column, but you see how it went.  Memories…football, football players and football teams, years and years—56 in all—painful, joyful, disappointing—more of that than anything for Chargers fans.  Septembers won’t be the same in San Diego.  Memories don’t play within those yard markers.

Have any memories that still delight you?  Humble you?  Challenge you?  Swell tears or bring a chuckle?  Memories:  what’s gone and won’t return; they last but can’t be made into more.  Thank God Christians have memories.  And thank God, we have greater golden joys coming than the good memories now embraced.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com      

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time – swiftly passes

It wouldn’t have been so bad to know that 50 years ago this past winter a Crew Team from Pacific Lutheran University had rowed their crew boat from Seattle to Tacoma, Washington.  The problem to surmount was WHEN 50 years ago was:  1967!  Lance was 8 years old, Brooks was 6 and Scott was 5.  Judy was 29 and this writer 31.

50 years ago; half a century!  Where has all that time gone?  How could anything that creeps along by seconds accumulate so quickly to 50 years?

Every younger person thinks that “there’s plenty of time.”  Older citizens subconsciously think “I still have time.”  Let’s instead awaken to scripture’s appeal:  “The time is short”—I Corinthians 7:29; “Now is the time of God’s favor”—II Corinthians 6:2; “Make the most of every opportunity”—Colossians 4:5, Ephesians 5:16.

We can’t STAY while time FLIES.  We can at least “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.”  Kipling

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com     

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

Christian – lost in the presence of Jesus

Howard Pyle had his nativity in 1853 and his death in 1911.  Between the two dates he became the “father of American illustration,” writing and illustrating “19 books and dozens of short stories.”  He also drew 14 murals.  Young students traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina to study under him.  They carried his spirit into their generation.

Pyle himself lived so completely in America’s past that he created art so realistic it hasn’t been duplicated since.  He spared no effort to make his paintings accurate.  American history Illustrated, April – February, 1966-1967, p. 35

His life in America’s past challenges Christians to live so thoroughly in God’s word that we instinctively respond to any value or belief with, “how does that correspond with Bible teaching?”  To live so completely in Jesus Christ’s Presence that we can say with Paul, our life is hidden with Christ in God Colossians 3:3; with Paul that we consider everything in life rubbish compared to living with him Philippians 3:8; and with Paul that we want to evidentially and experientially KNOW Jesus Christ,…becoming like him in his death…and attaining “to the resurrection from the dead”  Philippians 3:10.

How “lost” in Jesus are we?  Or are we “found” in this world adopting its values, reflecting its morals?  What would we rather have than Jesus?  Or what will we gain or surrender to hide ourselves in him so that one day he will let us share his glory? Colossians 3:4

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com   

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

Bible – in-depth useful information

The Black Holes of the universe are hot items of interest in the scientific community.  Astronomers are excited about “ripples in space” they have again discovered.  They figure they originated from the collisions of massive celestial bodies that created even more massive black holes in the universe, causing the “ripples” in sound waves.  While Einstein suggested they would be detected, the first discovery didn’t come until 2015.  San Diego U-T, 6/2/17

Not qualified to comment on that, this writer will emphasize the Biblical truth from the scientific theories.  And that is…any information gained by studying the universe will be of intense interest to a few, intellectual interest to a few more, but of practical value to hardly anyone.

However, if even the youngest child hears stories from a children’s Bible; if the most mature spiritual mind reads Bible texts, colossal lessons of practical value will be learned.  Things about God as Creator through Jesus Christ.  About Jesus loving people and helping them with everyday problems.  About apostolic labors teaching doctrinal truths useful in everyday life.

The relative value of any teaching or belief is how close it is to God’s eternal truth in Christ; how it offers solutions to everyday-life problems; and how it positively impacts the greatest number of people for life here and hereafter.  On every single issue God’s word scores perfect marks.  It engenders wisdom as it shares information.  It embodies practical answers to everyday problems and eternal questions.  Why would we be so interested in what benefits a few and have so little time for what benefits so many every day and eternally?

Yours for a Christian life that seeks God’s wisdom in his word, God’s Son in his glory and discipleship deepening in FACTS that impact every single person ever to live.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

Worse – things could always be .

San Diego County housing has topped off lately at around $600,000 median price for a stand-alone house.  The whole state has gone real-estate crazy.  Though realtors keep telling us that “such-and-such is still a great bargain”—just because it’s listed a few thousand less than top-market value—it’s unaffordable time in the Golden State.

But things could be worse.  And are in Hong Kong—yes, the former British Crown Colony.  For while $664,000 could get you a vastly overpriced domicile in San Diego County, in Hong Kong it will buy only a 17ꞌ x 11ꞌ concrete slab on which to park your CAR!  San Diego U-T, 6/18/17

Even local real estate moguls there are scratching their heads.  Even they admit the prices are nutty, crazy and stupid.  The usual ramifications exist:  young buyers can’t afford a home, let alone a place to park a car.

California dreamin’ is the same.  Multi-generational houses are appearing here to make it at least possible, but still not affordable, to buy a house.  Naturally, the multi-generational houses cost far more.  Builders won’t diminish their profits just because people can’t afford to buy.

Count on it in both Hong Kong and California:  developers, real estate brokers and politicians discuss ways to alleviate the problem while protecting the ballooned prices that make them rich.  Those profiting won’t threaten their profits.

It’s like the traditionalists in Israel when Jesus preached.  They wouldn’t diminish the traditions that kept the laity in their debt.  And they attacked Jesus when he charged that traditions violently drew both clerical and lay people from God’s word.  Back to Moses he drew them—to Moses, not to the traditions centuries of scholars had built around Moses.  Then, to their deeper chagrin, Jesus drew all Israel beyond Moses to himself.  That daring independence stirred lasting, growing animosity in the leadership.

The real estate boom in California and Hong Kong will have its bust when prices can no longer be sustained.  It took the Savior’s death, burial and resurrection to clarify his right to change whatever he decided needed to change to benefit God’s people.  To this day, with evangelism of Gentiles still in full throttle, and Jews still outside the Kingdom looking in, it’s obvious that Jesus was right and his generation of leaders wrong.  Jesus will always be right; and every mortal wrong. 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Past – keeps coming back

Well, the old saying may be true:  the more we change, the more we stay the same.  Indeed, the more innovative and impersonal life gets, the more people long for a time when individual to individual communication meant something.

Old-school typewriters offer one such renaissance.  Who would have thought a 1920 typewriter would have any value today?  Or the 1950 antique Hemingway used to bang out his novels?

The “Digital burnout” occasioned by smart phones, really-smart phones and brilliant-beyond description smart phones has aroused an interest in the past.  San Diego U-T, 6/15/17

Who knows:  should the trend continue long enough—and as of 6/15/17 it’s far beyond the fad stage—church boards, church planters and Senior ministers will reach back into the past and seek out older and old Ministers as leaders and associates.  If they do, they’ll find they have much wisdom, and surprising energy, to share with those presently in charge of Kingdom growth.  If only there’s enough time for the trendy and techie ministers to catch on!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

Experience – valuable in sports and life

Three veteran pro baseball scouts, living in San Diego County, and all in their 80’s, scouted baseball talent for major league teams.  They have 150 plus years of experience among them.  An interview with a Union-Tribune writer revealed the changes in major league baseball since they started.  San Diego U-T, 6/9/17

A few points got my attention.  The first was their use of ears and eyes when judging prospects.  For example, where speed guns now tell how fast a pitch is, they listened and watched carefully as pitchers offered.  They could tell by the sound of the ball on its way and its impact on the bat how hard the pitch was.  They also learned that velocity itself could be misleading.  It didn’t determine the ball’s movement in the 60 feet, 6 inches between mound and plate.  The eyes could see that.

The second was the value of experience when youngsters are drafted.  Of course now that agents are involved, and they never have small sums in mind—they intend to get rich by getting rich off prospects who have never thrown a pitch at Busch Stadium or Wrigley Field.

While a player like Mike Trout, of the Anaheim Angels—oh, pardon me—the Los Angeles Angels—signed right out of high school, he’s the rare exception.  The trio of scouts noted the difference is vast between a senior in high school and a junior in college.  And the teams seeking to build through the draft fare much better signing the college kid.

They also noted the desire a young man had to learn.  Since being a student of the game is as important as being a player, only players who never stop studying the game last.

Experience in the Christian life is like baseball scouts tuning their eyes and ears to watch and listen as pitchers pitch.  No scholastic degrees rival it.  No lack of experience in a believer, however gifted, compensates for it.  No Christian, and no Christian leader, can ever stop being a student of the Master.  Service and learning go together and can never be separated.  Should we make service the all-in-all, we become shallow.  Should we make study the all-in-all, we become isolated.  But together…now that’s Christ-likeness!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Dead – finding more than remains

A U.S. bomber soared into the air over Kunming, China, January 25, 1944 headed to India.  It never arrived, for whatever reason; it crashed on a mountain in the dreaded Hump—the Himalayas.  No one searched for it since no idea existed where it crashed.

In 2006 a hiker in northeast India spotted the plane’s ruins.  In 2007 the family of one crew member learned that the wreckage had been found.  In 2008 the Defense Department confirmed the find.  In 2015—yes, all those years later—a team got to the site and found the remains of only that one crewman.  The other seven weren’t found.  His remains were returned in June, 2017 for burial.  San Diego U-T, 6/11/17

In that vast wilderness eight young men met a violent, fiery end.  Alone except for God.  No one knowing.  If caring, no one searched.  From small American towns or large cities.  Casualties of war.  And whose remains alone were found and returned.  Remains:  the leftover of life.

Thank God that, wherever the remains of the dead lie, in whatever condition, however deprived of identifying marks…THAT is NOT the END.  God won’t be transporting human remains into his Presence at the Shout of Christ and the Last Trumpet blast across the universe.

Out of graves everywhere the remains of believers will rise to be re-clothed in flesh-and-bone-bodies, every mark of personhood identified, every trait of personality refined and perfected.  And in once-mortal bodies turned immortal; in once perishable bodies turned imperishable by the eternal Christ, we shall live forever and ever, world without end.  Amen.  Amen!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741