Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Multifarious Avocation Affair

multifarious: having many different parts, elements, forms, numerous & varied, greatly diverse or manifold

avocation: something a person does in addition to a principle occupation, especially for pleasure, hobby

I haven't blogged much lately,  life is busy but it's good. In my spare time I've been working on a Music Room/Recording Studio at my Church building. Since I've been installing Linux on some pcs & researching new software for recording, I thought I'd take some time here to tell you about my 5 favorite Linux distributions (distros for short) that I personally use & love:

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a great distro, set up much like Windows XP/Vista/7, everything is user friendly & just works out of the box. 

Linux Mint Cinnamon is elegant & powerful. 



Linux Mint Mate (pronounced MAH-TAY), my personal favorite, is fast & resource friendly. 



Linux Mint XFCE is the lightest of the bunch, ultra-fast & the most customizable. 



I have Cinnamon running on my main desktop, Mate running on my main laptop & XFCE running on my netbook which is powering an external monitor + external USB hub + external keyboard + external mouse & still flies like the wind.

I recently tested & played around w/ LMDE (which is the Debian edition), I liked it & when I get a spare desktop, I'd like to install that on it & explore it a little more deeply… 

The thing that makes Linux Mint so great is that everything works right out of the box, all the codecs are there & everything just works, it's my distro of choice.   

Linux Lite



Don't let the name fool you, Linux Lite is an incredible distro, based on XFCE it's true to it's name, one of the lightest distros but still packs a powerful punch. Perfect for older pcs/laptops but will run like a cheetah on newer ones. I've installed it on several pcs & everything has been flawless: installation, performance, updates. It's very much like Windows XP in it's layout so 20 seconds in & you're settling in like old times... 

I highly recommend Linux Lite; like Mint, everything works out of the box. Installing & uninstalling programs is a breeze & the user interface is crazy-friendly & bottom line = it's clean & simple.      

LXLE



LXLE stands for Lubuntu Extra Life Extended, based on Lubuntu which runs LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment), another light-weight, user/resource friendly distro especially for older pcs. Lubuntu has the default taskbar at the bottom whereas LXLE has it at the top & it took a page from the Ubuntu Mate handbook & added another taskbar at the bottom.

I had to do some tweaking though, the screensaver/screen blanking issue had no immediate or clear cut solution, so a few hours doing some 'net research fixed that, which is a few hours I could have been doing something else… also, after running the first update, it removed VLC & left behind a couple of broken packages/discrepancies which did not allow me to re-install VLC so again, after a few hours of research, everything was eventually fixed w/ some terminal commands & VLC successfully re-installed. 

Apart from that… the more I play around w/ this distro the more I really dig it, in fact it's pretty much tied w/ Linux Lite in the resource department, speed, user interface, etc.

Ubuntu Mate



The one I love to hate & hate to love…

This distro is gorgeous, it's simply beautiful.

I love the fact it's resource friendly, very light indeed & very fast but like every Ubuntu-based distro it doesn't come w/ all the codecs so when I install VLC I have to use the terminal commands & add restricted extras, etc, etc… even then the video playbeck is sometimes choppy, laggy, etc, etc.., so I have go into VLC & do some tweaking there which doesn't always work :(

This was the first distro I had seen that had dual taskbars on top & bottom built in & I was crushing on it from that moment on; for me dual taskbars (like dual monitors) helps my work flow & doesn't clutter up just one taskbar w/ all my open programs on it, it's spread out & I can find things easier. 

I like playing around w/ it though & it's a perfect fit for some pc's. Perhaps part of it is that I simply like the Mate environment or “all things Mate”.

Ubuntu Studio 



I had originally written this distro off as something that I thought was a good idea but was bloated & too complicated to install & use but once I installed it & dug into it, I was kinda blown away.

Based off XFCE, it's lightweight & highly customizable but boy does it pack a punch! It comes pre-installed w/ several audio & video programs to immediately get you going on any project. I'm still playing around w/ it & haven't fully explored it yet but it's quickly become one of my favorite distros; in fact I have installed on the pc in the Music Room at my Church.

I will tell you this though: it's not very good handling wireless very well (on a desktop). I used a desktop pc that had Mint XFCE installed on it, I inserted a wireless USB dongle & it recognized it immediately & connected to the wifi network. I wiped that pc & installed Ubuntu Studio on it, inserted the wireless USB dongle & nothing. It read the USB & tried to connect to the wifi but never did, after several attempts it gave up! So now I have to insert an ethernet cable to get any kind of updates which is a pain but not critical at this point.

So those are my favorite distros! I ditched Windows long ago & have zero regrets. Linux is free & does everything Windows can do, why would you not take advantage of something that's free? To each his own I guess...  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Quotidian Extrication

quotidian: daily, usual or customary, everyday, ordinary, commonplace

extrication: to free or release from entanglement  

There's something about monotony & routine: it's safe; boring but safe. 

I remember my Grandpa Pratt, he's been gone a few years now & I miss him but there's one thing I'll always remember about him: every morning he got up early & had a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. 

Growing up, I watched my dad execute his own routine: made coffee, grabbed his Bible & concordance, read for an hour then made breakfast; that's how he started his day, every day. He was very disciplined in that way…

When I'd take my Grandma Cooper to the Chinese restaurant, she'd always get the same food, every single time. I'd say, “Grandma, try this food” & she'd reply, “I don't want to! I like this.”

Millions of people are creatures of habit, they do the same thing every day/week/weekend/year, year after year; it bothers some, others have just gotten used to it.

Some work the same jobs for 30, 40, 50 years while others change jobs every 5-10 just to do something different.

Here's some ideas to break the monotony of life that most of us fall into:
  • Try replacing breakfast & lunch w/ a brunch once a week; if you really want shake things up, invite someone over to join you.
  • Take one night a week, clear your schedule & watch a sunset in a different place each time: a park, the beach, the town square, etc. Maybe grab your guitar or mandolin & quietly close out your day w/ some intimate worship
  • Once a week, wake up early, grab a cup of coffee & watch a sunrise on your deck or patio. Close your eyes for a minute & listen to sounds of nature, listen to the birds in their morning worship service… it's a perfect time to pray in tongues.
  • Maybe twice a week, leave 15-20 minutes early for work & take a different route… there's so much to see in the world & sometimes we miss it because of our routines.
  • If you usually have morning devotions switch it up once a week & have afternoon or evening devotions. It's great to read your Bible every day but switch it up 2-3 times a week w/ listening to the Bible, a chapter here, an entire book there… something that really brought freshness to me was listening to the different letters in the NT in their entirety.
  • Even playing guitar can get monotonous: learn new styles, new scales, new chords, chord voicings, alternate tunings, play w/ a capo or even a cut capo, play around w/ some different effects, shake it up, break it up
  • When writing songs, try to avoid the usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus format, chop that song up w/ different arrangements 
  • Once a month, go to a retirement home & play some games w/ the folks, listen to their stories, learn something from them…
  • Once a month, go to an orphanage & play w/ some kids or get a group together & visit the children's ward at your local hospital.
  • In your fellowship, maybe forgo a sermon once a month & have 4-5 youth share for 5-10 minutes on a certain topic
  • Have an outdoor service once in a while, either in the parking lot, the beach or at the park where your church picnic is held then morph right into food & fellowship

These are just ideas to do something different, shake up the monotony of life that we all fall into from time to time. What are you ideas? How do you break free from the mundane? 

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Royal Etiquette Complication

I'm sure you're aware that there rules/guidelines for meeting w/ a monarch, right? Say you were going to meet the ruling monarch of England: there's protocol on what to wear, how to enter their presence, what to say, when to say it, how to leave their presence, etc… 

I've been thinking about this lately in correlation to worship.

If you look through the Bible, there's countless verses on God's presence & the proper protocol on how to “enter in” but did you notice there's zero verses on how to exit His presence? Zero. I cannot find one verse on the proper protocol for exiting God's presence.

Now that's mind-blowing.

In my online conversations w/ different worship leaders across the country, no one has been able to answer this. Perhaps there's zero verses on exiting God's presence because... oh I don't know… He doesn't want you to exit it!

There's an implied mindset/attitude that you obviously do [exit God's presence] because most every Sunday in every fellowship across the globe you hear about “entering His gates w/ thanksgiving in your heart, entering His courts w/ praise” but then what? If you can tell the exact the second you enter in would it not also stand to reason that you could tell the exact second you leave His presence? Do you leave His presence at the closing prayer? In the parking lot? At the restaurant? When you awake from your Sunday afternoon nap? Monday morning when you're getting ready for work? 

So the question is this: 
Just when do you leave His presence 
 (that you have to enter in again at some point) 
& why would you even leave it?

I've really been pondering this… 
  • if you're “joined to the Lord & one spirit w/ Him” & 
  • He said He'll never leave us nor forsake us & 
  • He's w/ us always 
Then where does “entering in” fit in?

Now, I've been saved for 43 years & been in worship ministry for 30 years, so I'm familiar w/ the presence of God, the manifest presence of the Lord, the shekinah glory, etc… so I'm not a novice when it comes to Biblical things/concepts but the more I study the Word, the more I soak in worship & the more I dwell on Him these questions/concepts challenge me in regards to what I do & why I do it.

Lately I've been so much more aware of my identity in Christ, my position in Him & His constant presence in my life, so much so that once I “enter in” (per se) I tend to remain “in”. Even in the daily conversations, interactions & business of life my thoughts, my mind, my heart, my spirit is in a state of continual praise & worship that I often feel as if I have never left His presence.

Under the Old Covenant, God's Spirit came & went... His presence came & went… Moses even said “unless Your presence goes w/ me I won't go”. Under the New Covenant we can go because Christ is w/ us always & where Christ is, His presence is. 

I love what the Psalmist wrote recorded in 139:18, “If I could count them (God's thoughts [toward me]), they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You”. Now here's someone under the Old Covenant who had a New Covenant revelation of the constant presence of the Lord.

According to Psalm 22:3 does God inhabit the praises of His people? Absolutely He does. 

The Hebrew word for inhabit is yâshab (yaw-shab') = to dwell, to remain; causatively, to settle, to marry...

According to Psalm 34:1 are God's praises continuously in the mouths of His worshipers? Absolutely they are (or should be).

The Hebrew word for continuously is tâmîyd (taw-meed) = constant/constantly; the regular (daily) sacrifice: always, continual, daily, evermore, perpetual.

Look at these words: dwell, remain, marry, always, continual, evermore... are these words that denote coming & going, entering & exiting?

How would your life/Christian walk change if you focused not so much on “entering in” but on “remaining in” knowing that because there's no protocol for leaving His presence that perhaps He doesn't want you to? Perhaps He wants you to be so God-conscious, so aware of His presence that it changes everything in you & everyone around you... 

Questions? Comments?   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The DISC Test

So I've been a little bit sidelined lately w/ my car issues; first I replaced the fuel filter (well, my brother did) & my car took out on me, then I replaced the fuel pump (again, mainly my brother there) & will take the car for a test spin later today… but the last couple of weeks have given me the opportunity to pause, think & pray about my gifting(s) & my purpose.

Years ago I took the DISC test, you know that personality test that was all the rage back then; it's still pretty useful in narrowing down what type of person you are & where you fit in a group, fellowship, etc. Back then, I was a C Personality (actually I was CSI in that order, I'd joke about being forensic & working w/ dead things, etc); I retook it again recently & guess what I am now? A solid C Personality, which is characterized by the following:

  • accurate, precise, detail-oriented, conscientious 
  • think very analytically, systematically 
  • make decisions carefully w/ plenty of research & information to back it up
  • very high standards for both themselves & others 
  • because they focus on the details & see what many other styles do not, they tend to be good problem solvers & very creative people
  • brings perspective to groups & tend to be the "anchor of reality" in team thought
  • think through every detail of how it works & the process
  • will make realistic estimates & will voice the problems that they see with the plan or already existing system 
  • is conscientious & even tempered 
  • will avoid conflict rather than argue
  • will complete tasks they've committed to & will be very thorough 
  • take great pride in doing their work accurately
  • are excellent people to analyze, research, or test information
  • are very effective trouble shooters
  • desire independence & autonomy
  • are instinctive organizers, who can both create & maintain systems
  • have a tendency to focus on tasks more than people & to want to work alone
  • will need to push themselves to be decisive & take risks, even if all the research isn't there to support it

That's just a general description of what the C Personality is; I do fit most of that though at times I do like a good argument & sometimes I like to just shake things up.

I've been alone most (well, all) of my life so working alone doesn't bother me: I've written songs by myself, recorded entire projects alone, etc but lately I've been feeling the need/desire to collaborate as in songwriting, music projects, etc, perhaps that's just God stretching me out of my comfort zone. 

There's quite a bit of talent in my fellowship & I have a burden/desire to unlock that talent, maybe my personality type will help me find where I belong...

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Credenda Variance II

credenda: a doctrine that requires belief; article of faith (from credere = to believe, related to the word creed)

variance: the fact or quality of being different, divergent or inconsistent… a discrepancy between two statements or documents

So I had another interesting conversation w/ a fellow Christian about titles, he was fairly arrogant & adamant about what he believed so I thought I'd feel him out a little, press him on his beliefs & see how far he'd take it; here's the discourse as follows:

Me: So tell me again why you call your pastor “Pastor ___________”.
Them: I'm just showing him respect. You need to call him “Pastor” too, he deserves respect; calling him by his first name is disrespectful, he's a pastor, not your best friend.
Me: Hmmmm….  Well, I'll be honest, that's just about the dumbest thing I've heard in some time. There is disrespect present but it's on your part, not theirs.
Them (angry & incredulous): What did you just say?
Me: You heard me, you're the one being disrespectful.
Them: How is it disrespectful in honoring your pastor? 
Me: I didn't say you were disrespectful in honoring him, you're disrespecting Jesus.
Them (just about to explode): I do not disrespect Jesus!
Me: In this case you are.
Them: I love Jesus, I would never disrespect Him!!!
Me: Do you believe His words & follow them?
Them: Of course I do.
Me: Obviously not in this case.
Them: How so? 
Me: You completely disrespect Jesus when you call a pastor “Pastor _________”.
Them: I do not!!!
Me: May I ask you a couple of questions then?
Them: Sure.
Me: Who's the Son of God?
Them: Jesus.
Me: Was He God?
Them: Yes, fully God, fully man.
Me: So He's God.
Them: Yes, what does this have to do w/ what we're talking about?
Me: What's His name again?
Them: You know His name! JESUS! What does this have to do w/ anything?!
Me: Everything. So, you admit that Jesus is the Son of God, God Himself. Right?
Them: Yes, of course. Jesus is God. What are you getting at? 
Me: In Matthew 23, Jesus instructed His Disciples (& by extension all those who follow Him) to not call anyone Father, Master, Teacher, etc… He specifically said “it shall not be so among you”, in other words, to paraphrase this passage/teaching He's saying “drop the titles”. You have zero problem calling God by His first name but have major problems w/ anyone not calling a pastor, a mere human, by the title of “pastor” when God told you not to. Can you see the problem here? Can you see the inconsistency, the variance in your thinking?
Them (walking away): You're trying to confuse me & I'm ending this conversation right now. I'm going to continue honoring & respecting my pastor by addressing him as one, regardless of what you say & how you try to twist Scripture.
Me: I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'm not twisting anything, all I'm doing is telling you what Scripture says; what Jesus Himself said & asking you to re-examine your mindset on this, that's all...  

I've had this conversation so many times w/ different people, you'll hear them talk about Jesus & they never, ever use the term Pastor Jesus, Apostle Jesus, Prophet Jesus, etc it's always just one name: Jesus. Like this person I was talking to, they have no problem calling the Son of God by one name & one name only yet they insist on calling people by titles & berate those who don't.

Note: Sometimes I'll completely agree w/ someone on some theological point but I'll approach the conversation from an unbeliever's point of view, 'just to see if they truly "have an answer for the hope that is within them" or they're just spouting some doctrinal/denominational belief. It's probably not the nicest thing to do but I do like to see where people are at & how they handle opposition, differing views or a challenge to their beliefs.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Case of the Copious Lexicon

I've been taking a short hiatus from reading books by Christian authors & thought I'd delve into the first two Ellery Queen novels; little did I realize I'd need both a dictionary & a thesaurus to understand/enjoy them.

So, here are words I learned from  “The Roman Hat Mystery” & “The French Powder Mystery”:

aesopian: conveying meaning by hint, euphemism, innuendo, or the like
amanuensis: a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary
appurtenances: something subordinate to another, more important thing
avocation: something a person does in addition to a principal occupation, hobby; diversion or distraction
betokening: to give evidence of; indicate
blatherskite: a person given to voluble, empty talk; nonsense
brusqueness: abrupt in manner; blunt; rough
captious: proceeding from a faultfinding or caviling disposition, faultfinding
celerity: swiftness; speed
cicatrix: new tissue that forms over a wound and later contracts into a scar
cudgel: to try to comprehend or remember
evince: to show clearly; make evident or manifest; prove
habiliments: clothes as worn in a particular profession
ignominious: discreditable, humiliating, contemptible
imperious: domineering in a haughty manner; dictatorial; overbearing
imprecations: to invoke or call down (evil or curses), as upon a person
insectivorous: adapted to feeding on insects
intelligentsia: intellectuals considered as a group or class, especially as a cultural, social, or political elite
invective: vehement or violent denunciation, censure, or reproach
moue: a pouting grimace
myopic: lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded
nacreous:  lustrous; pearly
nascent: beginning to exist or develop
nebulous: hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused
nonce: the present, or immediate, occasion or purpose
penury: extreme poverty; destitution
peremptorily: leaving no opportunity for denial or refusal; imperative
peroration: a long speech characterized by lofty and often pompous language
piscine: of, relating to, or resembling a fish or fishes
profundity: a profoundly deep place; abyss
prosaic: commonplace or dull; matter-of-fact or unimaginative
punctilious: strict or exact in the observance of the formalities or amenities of conduct or actions
ratiocination: the process of logical reasoning
redolent: having a pleasant odor; fragrant
sententiously: given to or using pithy sayings or maxims
sepulchral: of, relating to, or serving as a tomb
sotto voce: (of singing or a spoken remark) in a quiet voice, as if not to be overheard
stolidity: not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive
surreptitious: obtained, done, made, etc., by stealth; secret or unauthorized; clandestine
toque: a brimless and close-fitting hat for women, in any of several shapes
tremulous: characterized by trembling, as from fear, nervousness, or weakness
vagary: a whimsical, wild, or unusual idea, desire, or action
virago: a loud-voiced, ill-tempered, scolding woman; shrew
viscid: having a glutinous consistency; sticky; adhesive; viscous
volubly: characterized by a ready and continuous flow of words; fluent; glib; talkative

That's quite a few new words, for me at least...

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Credenda Variance

I had an interesting “discussion”  w/ another single man in a Bible Study recently, I write “discussion” in quotes because it was anything but & it actually tied into a another “discussion” I had online w/ a worship leader recently.

The topic(s) were [separately] purity then reverence in worship but ultimately it was all about integrity & consistency. There were actually three interesting conversations I've had recently...

The First Topic: Purity

This Believer I was talking to said he wouldn't watch any movie that had nudity, sex scenes, adultery, etc, citing the verse “I will put nothing wicked before my eyes”.  Though I secretly agreed w/ him in principle, I thought I'd test him & see how far he was willing to defend his beliefs, so I responded, “you're a hypocrite”.

“What? I'm not a hypocrite!”
“Yes you are, you're a first class hypocrite”
“How I am a hypocrite?”
“You just admitted you were”
“I did not, how am I a hypocrite?”
“You just said you won't watch any movie or tv show that has this stuff (sex, adultery, etc) in it, does that apply to books to?”
“Of course”
“You hypocrite”

The conversation took a decidedly heated turn…

“I AM NOT A HYPOCRITE!!!”
“You read your Bible every day, right?”
“You bet I do”
“The Bible contains the following: nudity, sex, incest, rape, adultery, seduction, witchcraft, human sacrifices, demon worship, even cannibalism & you allow that in you; so you either apply your standards across the board, 24/7 to everything or your standards are fluid which makes you a hypocrite. So which one is it & which one are you?”
“THAT'S THE WORD OF GOD!”
“I'm not arguing that. The topic at hand is your standards; do your standards apply to everything you watch & read? Either they do or they don't”

So before fists & Bibles started flying I diffused the conversation by saying I agreed w/ him that we need to be careful what we allow in us but if I was an unbeliever or a new Believer, how would he respond to me & how would he come across?

The Second Topic: Self–Control

So I was talking to a married elder of a fellowship I know of in the area & the topic of self–control came up, I started it & it went something like this:

“So is the fruit of the Spirit temporary?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean is it only for certain people at certain times?”
“No, it's for all Believers all the time”
“Seriously?”
“Seriously”
“So you're saying that single Believers have to have self–control but married Believers don't?”
“Well...”
“So once you're married self–control goes out the window? You no longer have to practice it?”
“I would never deny my spouse… do you have a problem w/ self–control?”
“No, I tap into grace but why don't you?”
“I don't have to, I'm married”
“So you're saying self-control is temporary, it's conditional; it's based on your condition: single it's essential, married it's optional”
“Something like that...” 

The conversation got more & more uncomfortable but it got him thinking about some things: the freedom he has in marriage & the pressure/standards that single people have to live up to. Sometimes I think single Believers are so much more stronger than married Believers are, they have to be, they have no choice...

The Third Topic: Worship

Worship, whether individually or corporately, is a very touchy topic; everyone has their own ideas of what it is/isn't, what it should/shouldn't be. Visit a few online Christian forums & you'll the see spectrum of views, it's interesting…

People who wear suits or dresses on Sunday mornings look down on those who don't.

“You wouldn't dream of wearing jeans when you meet the President, would you? You would wear your best clothes to a wedding or funeral right? Why would you think it's okay to dress casual in the House of the Lord? Why would you come in late, sipping coffee?”

vs 

“Do you wear a suit or dress when you're having your home devotionals or personal worship time? Are you drinking coffee or tea during these times? If you're not doing something personally why are you doing it corporately?”

I've been waking up around 3:30 am lately & my favorite time of the day is 4:45 am; I sit in the semi-dark, sometimes just a candle as my only light, w/ a hot cup of coffee & just sit there in my bare feet & jammies... in the quiet, quietly meditating/worshiping… gently sipping my coffee…  do I do that in corporate worship? No, but I don't condemn those who do drink coffee while worshiping in a corporate gathering. I don't pass judgment either on those on the worship team who take their shoes off.

So this worship leader was having a fit over what he perceived was a lack of reverence in the modern worship setting.

People in other countries are literally losing their heads over their faith in Jesus & some people here in America are losing their minds over bare feet, jeans & coffee in corporate gatherings of Believers.

I highly doubt that any Believer is going to put on their best suit or best dress for their personal morning or evening devotionals.

Reverence is a matter of the heart & only God knows who reverences Him. So I asked this worship leader if he applies his standard to only Sunday mornings or if it applies 24/7. He was incensed at the question & went ballistic on me. 

I'm finding these mindsets in many Christians nowadays, their standards & beliefs appear to be inconsistent, rather fluid & when their beliefs are challenged, they become unnerved or unhinged; don't be fooled, people pick up on that, especially unbelievers & it comes across as hypocrisy.

Are your standards/beliefs/practices active 24/7 or are they fluid?
Are they conditional (based on your condition) or apply across the board?
Are you passing judgment on people who worship in a different manner than you?

Any thoughts on this?