Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lent Devotional for HCC on Ps. 42: 1 & 2

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Even if you’re not a naturalist, you may have noticed that deer do not carry bottle waters: not Evian, not Arrowhead, not even the twelve bottles for a buck at $1 tree. (I’d like to say the buck pun was not intended, but…)
My point is, and I do have one, that though we have a wide variety of sources to fulfill our thirst, from the kitchen sink to the office drinking fountain, a deer probably just knows one place to quench its thirst. It knows where to find that one stream. When thirsty, it will probably make every effort and risk any danger to reach that stream. The chance of a mountain lion or hunter in wait will not keep the deer from seeking out its source of water.
We have only one source for spiritual refreshment. Sure there rival claims for refreshment. People look for satisfaction from material goods, achievement, sensual pleasures or within themselves. But these sources do as much good as giving a dehydrated man a Coke or a Bourbon straight. Perhaps a better analogies would be a poisoned well or a full glass from the Pacific.
God alone can thirst the quench the thirst of the soul. At this time of lent, we are wise to take every opportunity, take any risk, sacrifice to seek Him.

Favorite Legal Films (as opposed to the illegal films I watch)

I was watching an old episode of Perry Mason, and you’ll never guess what happened!

Someone hired Perry to take care of a minor legal matter. Then someone was murdered and Perry’s client was arrested for the crime!

In the court, Perry eventually Perry proved his client was innocent and even got the true murderer to confess!

What’s that? You did guess what happened…. How? Oh, that’s right. Because Perry handled hundreds of murder cases in books, TV shows and even movies: and pretty much the same thing happened every time. (Well, Petty did lose one case, but that was his client lied about everything, so that doesn’t really count.)

I find there is something reassuring about the show, thinking that if I was ever in trouble, there would be a perfect advocate by my side. It’s a Biblical desire. In Job 16: 19, Job tells his “friends” who accuse him of some great, but unnamed great crimes that he “Even now my witness is in heaven, my advocate is on high.”

Considering the important (but not primary) role that the Law has in Scripture, it’s not surprising that lawyers, courts and lawsuits all can be found in the Bible.

So if you are looking for a legal story with a little less predictability than is found in Earl Stanley Gardner’s mysteries, you might want to consider Netflicking (or library ordering) one of my five favorite legal films.

5) “My Cousin Vinny” (1992)

This legal comedy, according to many lawyers, gets the legal details right telling the story of a young man from New York traveling through the rural South accused of murder.He calls his cousin to defend him, who is, well, almost a lawyer. Joe Pesci playing Vinny for the Defense is rude and abrasive in genteel court room, but proves an effective advocate.
We need a good advocate when we’re innocent but even more when we’re guilty. (I John 2:1, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”)

4) “The Verdict” (1982)

This is drama about a medical malpractice case brought by a lawyer (Paul Newman) intent on recompense for his clients as well as redemption for himself. (Directed by the late Sidney Lumet, who directed one of the films below.)
God is very concerned about this type of justice as we see in Exodus 23:6, “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.”

3) “The Fortune Cookie” (1966)

This Billy Wilder comedy shows how the legal system can be abused. When photographer Jack Lemmon, he sees an unfortunate minor innocent; his shyster brother-in-law Walter Matthau sees dollar signs.
The Apostle Paul was concerned about this kind of abuse of the legal system, especially among believers. He argued in I Corinthians 6: 7, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

2) “12 Angry Men” (1957)

We still hope that truth will prevail in the legal system, especially in the jury room. We hope for a Juror #8 (Henry Fonda). (John 14: 16 Jesus promises, “He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth.”)

1) “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)

But justice is not always done on the courts of earth, even when the great Gregory Peck represents the defense. This wonderful story about justice (and race and family and childhood) reminds us that ultimately, only God will make things right. (Dueteronomy 17:8 If case come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge… take them to the place the Lord your God will choose.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Course Article


Friday, April 8, 2011

Lent Devotional for HCC

John 13: 34 – 35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you happen to be in the mall and you see a young woman wearing a red, white and blue cap; and a red, white, blue and yellow blouse; and blue shorts; and tennis shoes; there is no doubt in the world that that woman works for Hot Dog on a Stick.

Not Macy’s or Panda Express or the Gap or Burger King. Hot Dog on a Stick has perhaps the most distinctive uniform in the world. If you walk up to their kiosk or store in a mall, you don’t need to see the sign, only the person and the outfit.

Jesus wanted His followers to be just as distinctive. He wanted us to stand out in the crowd. He wanted there to be no doubt about who we worked for. But He didn’t demand us to wear a special cap or name tag. He wanted us to love. Love as He loved, selflessly, spectacularly, sacrificially.

Of course, that kind of love will stand out. It can sometimes be misinterpreted. But Jesus talked to women in a misogynist culture; healed foreigners in a racist culture; kissed the man about to betray Him.

In other words, don’t be embarrassed by the uniform of love – just wear it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Family Feud

Have you ever had your kids come in while something rather embarrassing was on the screen? I don’t know what you were watching, but my TV was tuned to the “Family Feud”.

Yes, the insipid game show that left the networks and has been in syndication since the invention of the cathode tube (actually thirty years since it began with Richard Dawson on ABC and syndication).

I know what you’re thinking: “Family Feud” makes even “Deal or No Deal” look like the good stuff squeezed between pledge breaks. But I have my reasons. They may not be good reasons, but what excuse do you have for watching “ER” past its prime? So at the very least, after reading this, you may feel a little better about your mindless viewing.

1) “It can hurt your chances as a contestant if you are smart.” I find this fascinating. Since the answers are culled from a survey of random Americans, it is best to be of average intelligence. Any brilliant singular answer has been tossed, since at least two people must respond in the same way to make the survey. And in the initial showdown, you need the most popular answer. Which means “Homer Simpson” beats “Homer’s Iliad” every time, just as “Pamela Anderson” beats “Marion Anderson” in the category of female entertainer. Even more amazing, your answer may need to be factually incorrect to win, such as “whale” in the category “big fish”.

2) “The changing hosts say something about our time.” I’m not sure what it says, but it sure is interesting. Can you imagine Richard Dawson trying to lip kiss every contestant today? (He must have hung out with Bob Crane far too long.) Ray Combs sadly took his own life after his 1988 to 1994 run on the show, so that might not speak well of those years. Louie Anderson was hired in the midst of the whole Clinton-Lewinski thing, which seemed appropriate somehow. Surely the switch from Richard Karn (“Home Improvement”’s Al Borland from 2002 – 2006) to John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld”’s Mr. Peterman) foreshadowed the Democratic House and Senate in some weird red/blue state way. I haven’t given this a whole lot of thought, but surely some thesis papers are in order.

3) “The really dumb rituals.” The audience reading along with the revealed answers, “TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS”, and the handshake that starts the round. Something reassuring about a feud that starts with a handshake.

4) “You can watch it in Spanish.” And if you are willing to travel, you can see it in a number of other languages. This can be helpful in your language studies. But here in the good old U.S. or A. you can see it in Espanola as well as English. But the dollar amounts played for are less, and if they’re talking pesos, it’s really pathetic.

5) “ ‘Family Feud’ has provided the best ‘Saturday Night Live’ fodder of any game show outside of ‘Jeopardy’ with Will Farrell’s Alex Trebeck.” I forget, did John Belushi get an Emmy for the skit where he was a contestant that answered ‘chicken necks’ for everything? If he did not, a grave injustice was done. I believe Steve Martin was his father, whose only answer was the Romaine lettuce heads he farmed.

6) “Occasionally there are very attractive contestants that jump up and down in excitement.” ‘Nuff said.

7) “It has a home game.” Sure, they have the computer and DVD versions. But you want one of the classic old editions with the plastic sliders and the card with the red ink so the answers can’t be seen through the red plastic. It’s an investment that will pay off on “Antiques Roadshow” someday.

8) “Wouldn’t you rather a pollster called to ask your favorite red food or who’s the sexiest movie star rather than ask who you plan to support for Lieutenant Governor in the next election?”

9) “Really dumb answers.” For instance when someone is asked for something in an operating room, and then answers, ‘an operator,’ any previous tedium is worthwhile. Or when people answer ‘Nixon’ or ‘Adolf’ for one of Santa’s reindeer. Or when asked for an animal with three letters in the name they say ‘frog’ or ‘alligator’. (Though I guess, technically, they do have three letters in their names, and then some.) Or ‘Spring cleaning’ in response to a household chore done in the Fall. (These are, of course, all actual answers that may be found at the Family Feud Dumb Answers website [http://brandon.ikevin.net/feud/].)

10) “A more personal reason for watching ‘Family Feud’.” About twenty-five years ago, my dad had a stroke. He was in the hospital and most of the time was not very responsive. But for some reason, when ‘Family Feud’ came on, he perked up. I hadn’t remembered the show being a particular favorite of his before the stroke (he had preferred viewing any sports activities, up to and including televised bowling). But during those long days and evenings in the hospital, it was a joy to see him liven up and try to answer what America’s favorite breed of dog is according to 100 people surveyed. My dad recovered, and enjoyed many active years before passing away in 2003. Maybe this is the only real reason I stop at “Family Feud” when flipping the channels and have difficulty shutting it off till after the fast money round.