Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Proposal

When I proposed to my wife, she knew I was going to propose. Our relationship had progressed naturally and marriage was an obvious next step. We had even looked at wedding/engagement rings together. She was taken with a unique matched set that wasn't beyond my means to purchase at the time. All three rings have 5 diamonds in a row in a gold setting formed in a rock pattern. The center diamond in the engagement ring is larger with a raised setting distinguishing it from the rest.

I spoke with our friend, Sheryl, and she informed me that the Drs. Petrozza were leaving town for a weekend in a few weeks and that we could use the house. I formulated a private evening of dining, music and dancing. Sheryl was invaluable in this process. Knowing that Lois was expecting a proposal, I didn't try to hide the fact, but intentionally misled her so the evening would be a surprise. I had Sheryl make a hand-calligraphied invitation for a formal Saturday night at the Petrozzas. I spoke with her friends and had them schedule a "girls night out" for the Friday evening prior with the understanding that they were going to deliver her to my little party. They got together with Lois and found out what she planned to wear. I explained to Lois that I was spending Friday evening at the Petrozza's to set up. When her friends came to pick her up, they worked together to divert her attention as they secreted her clothes and accouterments with them in the car. The coordinated participation of friends represents our need to maintain external friendships throughout our life together: people to help us in times of need, people with whom to minister and people to whom to minister.

Her friends then brought her to the Petrozza's ostensibly for one of them to bring something to me. When they arrived, they got out and produced her clothes and explained that "tonight was the real night." Then they took her into a bathroom to change for the evening. they emerged to a reception by me in a tux. Then all of them left except for Sheryl and Lois' best friend, Alysha, who was to be our matron of honor.

Sheryl also had prepared the meal. I worked out a seven-course meal with her. We had hors d'oeuvres, soup, salad, entree, dessert, chocolate and coffee. I know the chocolate and coffee went together, so there must have been something else in there. The entree was garlic pork chops with those fancy green beans you always get in those high-end catered meals. The portions were appropriately sized and each course until the last was spaced and timed to produce a longing for the next course. Seven, of course, represents the number of complete perfection. The meal was to represent our life together as we progress from one stage of our life to another, we would continue to long for our life together in the next stage.

We sat across the table from each other. Between us was a single red rose in a bud vase flanked by two tapered candles. The combination represents the influences on our lives. The candles represented Lois' late sister, Lori, who strove to be light to the world. My mom always encouraged people to stop occasionally and smell the roses. In her last days, her hospital room was filled with roses from people who had gotten the message. The rose, of course, is as of the Rose of Sharon, a representation of Christ. Between the two, the rose and the light, we have represented Christ and the Church. From Ephesians, we see that the relationship between husband and wife is to represent the relationship between Christ, the Head, and His people, the Church, the Body of Christ.

I had earlier spoken with Emma Foster, mother of a girl with whom I had graduated high school. Emma owned and operated a small floral shop in Statesville at the time, Love Blossoms. Taking my cue from the name, I went in and asked Emma if there were a way to cause a rose to bloom over the course of an evening - a few hours. She thought about it and placed a fresh rose in a sleeve to keep it from blooming. Then she aged it. I can only guess as to precisely what happens in the petals of a rose, but it pretty much worked. As the table was set, the sleeve was taken off the rose and throughout the course of the evening, the petals did indeed open somewhat. This is important later...

I had made tapes (burning CDs at home was not widely done at the time) of soft instrumental music to serve as background music when we ate and slow dance music between courses. I had written a song with which to propose and recorded the background accompaniment with a couple of synthesizers, a drum machine and a shakuhachi onto my old reel-to-reel. It was timed to play just after the chocolate and coffee. I don't have the words with me, but I'll have to dig them out and post them. I titled it, "The Rose". Sheryl had made a small red velvet pillow to use when I proposed. As the accompaniment music began, I took the rose and kneeled before her where she sat. I sang and at the end tilted the rose forward to reveal the engagement ring I had placed in it earlier.

The history is still being written...

I include this photo of the wedding. (No, we didn't get married the next day.)

Bob and Sheryl are each just behind the best man and matron of honor respectively. One other note - for the wedding, to continue the symbology my brother (best man) and I placed a rose on the altar and we called for the windows of the church to be lighted with candles tht had been donated in memory of Lois' sister.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Britain's Got Talent

The proposal will have to wait a post. I had to include this...

I admit it: I don't watch American Idol. I don't watch Britain's Got Talent either. I saw this at Justin Taylor's blog and was captivated by the affects on a crowd when a humble man sings opera. Having been trained in music, I recognize that this man is a raw talent. He would yet benefit from some training. Nevertheless, he has an incredible ear and is gifted with a responsive tenor voice. Mostly, his demeanor captivates an audience with what I call the "Gomer Pile Effect". Watch and listen as Paul Potts exposes a modern pop audience to a sample of opera.


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Falling in Love

In my previous post, I posted some photos from my recent hike over Stone Mountain. NC. This is where my wife and I started to fall in love. Let me tell you the story:

I had just come home from UNC-Charlotte and was bound for Columbia Bible College in the fall. Having secured a day job through a temp agency I had evenings off for normal activities. So I joined the choir. Lois had been singing in the choir for a few months already. She had just her first year of college. Sheryl Merritt was a nanny and had only joined the church, and the choir, recently. Bob McCanless had felt the call to ministry and was bound for seminary in the fall. Bob and I both sang baritone and sat next to each other. Lois and Sheryl both sang soprano and sat next to each other.

One Wednesday evening at choir practice, I shared with Bob my plans to go hiking at Stone Mountain that coming Saturday. I was going to pack a lunch and a Bible and do some studying on the rock. I had no one to go with and Bob asked if he could join me. I thought that would be a great idea. After choir as we came down from the back row to put our music up, we passed Lois and Sheryl. On a whim, Bob asked if they wanted to go hiking with us Saturday. They both liked the idea. Suddenly, my trip alone turned into a trip of four.

We agreed to meet at church that morning and make driving plans then. None of us had a car big enough to seat four comfortably with all our gear so Bob and I decided to drive our cars and each take one of the ladies. Lois rode with me and Sheryl rode with Bob. I've never been a big country music fan, but I happened to have a couple of Garth Brooks albums with me. Lois listened to country music some in those days and plugged one in. We sang along to the likes of "Papa Loved Momma", "I Got Friends in Low Places" and "Shameless" all the way up. We got to the mountain, hiked up it and sat down for lunch and some Bible study. We prayed and ate and I led a discussion of Proverbs for a good two hours before we decided that we ought to get back to hiking. On the trail, there was plenty of time for good talk.

As great as this was, we didn't really pair up until movie night a couple of weeks later. Sheryl was a live-in Nannie for the Drs. Petrozza. Occasionally, the whole family would leave for the weekend and Sheryl would have the house to herself. They had a home theater in the basement, so Sheryl invited us all over to watch a couple of movies.

For the first movie, Bob sat in the sofa on one side, Lois sat in the sofa on the other and Sheryl and I sat in the double recliner in the center. During the course of the movie, my hand slipped off the side of the chair next to where Lois was. She had scooted up to the armrest of the sofa and was drooping her hand off into mid-air toward my chair. An hour or so later of millimeter-by-millimeter edging ever closer, our hands finally touched and gradually clung to each other.

The intermission brought a slight change in where we sat. I moved over onto the couch with Lois and Bob filled the seat I vacated next to Sheryl. By the end of the second movie, Bob and Sheryl were holding hands and Lois and I were comfortably snuggled together.

The rest is history...

By the way, Lois just posted her first photos from Venezuela. She shows what she and the kids are doing with some of the children from the poorer neighborhoods.

Next post, the proposal...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hiking Stone Mountain, NC

Here are some photos of my hiking trip yesterday. My wife was concerned that I was going alone. Dr. Walter Gessler, for whom I was best man, broke his arm only a few weeks ago on this very trail - and he was with his wife and baby son. I'm experienced enough not to be cocky on unsure footing - and Stone Mountain in North Carolina is no place to mess around. They are constructing stairs and bridges in a few areas that are difficult for most people. I hike with a 7 foot pole capable of providing a third foot on the ground and long enough to use to vault over various obstacles and help steady myself crossing water on slick rocks. Here are some photos I took yesterday:

This is pine tree I passed on the way up the mountain. Pine trees normally have roots that go down into the ground. However, because it has grown in shallow soil on the rock, the roots are spread out like that of an oak or maple. It appears to have been laid down by the rangers to clear the path.

Further on up, I looked down the path behind to see a family hiking up the mountain behind me. They had paused to enjoy the view. At points like this, the path is marked with dots painted on the rock.

You can see the orientation of the trees to the path. The trees are growing straight up. There are sections where one needs to climb on all fours with the rock inches from one's face. I just dragged my pole along - at a point it loses it's usefulness. Any steeper and you'd need ropes and spikes.

This is the view from which I rested and studied for a while. This is the tree under which I found shade.

This is a section of the stairs that make hiking the big falls possible:

This video is from the center segment of the falls. Because of the curve of the rock across which the water falls, one cannot see the top or the bottom of the falls from the center.

This is the bottom of the falls:

These aren't the only falls at Stone Mountain. There are the Middle Falls and the Lower Falls. The Lower Falls had a long trail and weren't very accessible. Here is a patch of some wild ferns en route to the Lower Falls:

The Middle Falls had a shorter trail and were more accessible. Here's a video of them:

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Music and the Body of Christ

Our music ministry is discussing John Piper's Ambushing Satan with Song. I've been considering this...

The first thing that occurred to me was an observation from my time in the Marine Band. With modern communication technology and the particular evolution of music in our culture, the role of the band as a musical entity is traditional. At one time, military musicians served two roles in warfare. The first was to broadcast commands to troops on the battlefield. This is the origin of bugle calls. The second was to conduct psychological warfare by motivating friendly soldiers and discouraging enemy soldiers. This still happens some today, but not by the band. When faced with an organized army, American forces will establish speakers near the enemy to discourage them with exceptionally loud rock music. This has obvious parallels to Piper’s message.

While Piper’s message delves into the importance of the role of leaders of music, I was considering this in general today (Tuesday). I went to Stone Mountain to go hiking and sat on a rock on top of the mountain to rest, consume some refreshments, and study some passages Lois had sent me. In going from one passage to another, I came across a familiar one and decided to re-read it and discovered something I had never noticed before. The passage is From Ephesians 5. With this passage Paul exhorted the Ephesians toward a lifestyle of righteousness founded on their relationship with God. In this context he wrote the following:

17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

In verses 18 and 20, Paul invokes each member of the trinity. Smack dab in between in verse 19, Paul writes the famous line regarding the use of music in corporate worship – arguably a representative trinity itself (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs). So we are encouraged to “be filled with the Spirit” and “give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”. And how are we to do this? By “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord.”

Another observation is that preaching and teaching aren’t mentioned. It is only given to some to preach and some to teach. It is given to all to produce music.

Then he includes this addendum: “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” I had the passage that follows read at my and Lois’ wedding:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.


32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

My take on this comes from verse 32, which is to say that the marital relationship, through submission, is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. This can be applied to music as well. Where musicians aren’t unified, the music is discordant and unpleasant. In order for musicians to be unified, they must submit to a director. If two musicians perform together, at any given time it is clear that one must lead and the other follow. If many musicians play, they must all submit to a designated director and the director must submit his requirements to the capabilities of the individual musicians.

With respect to the Body of Christ our response to Christ is submission. This submission is demonstrated through music in worship. Music encourages us to trust one another for healthy function of the Body of Christ. When we commit ourselves to submission to one another and behave in worship this way, the lies of Satan that would destroy our right fellowship are thwarted. These lies tell us to be suspicious of each other for various reasons. This cripples the Body of Christ and makes us fail to function properly. While solid preaching, teaching and direction are necessary for proper function, music is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to unify, align and motivate members of the Body to effective use and purpose in the will of God.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Personality Profile

Another good lead from fathersonandholyspirit.
This pretty well pegs me:

Myers-Briggs Type Descriptions
Updated 02/27/01 - John Lortz ( and Susan Leavitt (
A Brief Description of the Myers-Briggs Types
with Typical Occupations
INFp (introverting, intuiting, feeling, perceiving)
Devoted, compassionate, open-minded, and gentle. Dislikes rules orders, schedules, and deadlines. Likes learning and being absorbed in own projects. Has passionate convictions, and drive for ideals. Sets high standards for self. Idealistic, sensitive, and creative. Can be reserved and contemplative.
Typical Occupations

actor massage therapist teacher
architect musician writer
artist occupational therapist
composer photographer
consultant psychotherapist
editor religious educator
holistic health practitioner researcher
interpreter or translator scientist
journalist social scientist
librarian speech pathologist

Get Your Own Personality Profile at

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sermon Jams

Perhaps you've never heard preaching like this. I heard about this from the Founders Ministries Blog. Recordings of some of the best preaching set to musical tracks. As a musician, I'm impressed with how they've managed to match up speaking with Bachian tonality and American rhythms. The goal is to put solid theological teaching in the ears of young people.

Visit the web site of Relevant Revolution to listen to their offerings for free.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From Venezuela: June 5, 2007

Lois has posted about her day of traveling to Venezuela Saturday. Here is the post:

I IM'd with her briefly today and she recounted that they went out on visitation last night to pray with shut-ins and share the gospel with some people. She recounted the image of Pastor Darwin walking down the street holding hands with Paul and Hope. He's a godly man and a capable pastor. Here's a photo of he and his family from last year:


You. Can. Only. Type. One. Word.

Not as easy as you might think.

1. Where is your cell phone? Box

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend? Wife!

3. Your hair? Brunette

4. Work? Computer

5. Your father? YHWH

6. Your favorite thing? Jesus

7. Your dream last night? Argumentative

8. Your favorite drink? Coffee

9. Your dream car? M1A1

10. The room you're in? Office

11. Your pet? Zoo

12. Your fear? Infidelity

13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Alive

14. Where did you hang out last night? "Rosie's"

15. What you're not good at? Normalcy

16. Eyebrow rings on the opposite sex? Unimportant

17. One of your wish list items? Friendship

18. Where you grew up? America

19. The last thing you did? Rehearse

20. What are you wearing? Casual

21. what aren't you wearing? Tutu

22. What are you doing today? Multitasking

23. Your computer? Plural

24. Your life? Christ

25. Your mood? Hyper

26. Missing? Family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

27. What are you thinking about right now? Snickelfritz

28. Your car? Focus

29. Your work? Ministry

30. Your summer? Lonely

31. Your relationship status? Married

32. Your favorite color? Purple

33. When is the last time you laughed? Yesternight

34. Last time you cried? Sunday

35. School? Home

I have to tell you one reason why purple is my favorite color. It's extraspectral, which means that it doesn't exist as a single spectral wavelength. It is a combination of red and blue wavelengths and has a spectrum of its own depending on any different combination of intensities of the red and blue. Violet is spectral, which means that it has a single wavelength all its own. Etymologically, purple comes from the dye made from a rare snail from the Mediterranean. It was used to make garments for royalty, but most importantly it was used in the making of a special thread woven into the garment of the Hebrew high priest in ancient times.

Aside from this, it's just plain pretty. I particularly enjoy the lavender variety.

BTW, this isn't tag or anything. If you want to play, just cut and paste and update the answers. I got this from fathersonandholyspirit.


A Few Moments of Timeless Faith

I have a few little things to post today. Incorporating them into the same blog, I decided on a general title that is apparently an oxymoron. To wit, if something is timeless, how can it have "moments"? Nevertheless, when we have faith granted to us by an eternal Creator and yet must work this faith out in a temporal context, we will invariably have "moments"...

Answers in Genesis (AiG) Responds to Protesters

The opening of the AiG Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio, came with an organized protest that published a set of reasons for the protest. Interestingly, the protesters have attracted good press for the Creation Museum. Nevertheless, AiG has been kind enough to answer this list from their wealth of intellectual resources. Scroll down to the bottom of the article and there is a set of links that allow you to read their answers to each item from the protest. The article is entitled Responding to protestors’ propaganda.

King of the Jungle Video

In practicing for improving my capacity to generate and edit multimedia resources for missions, I edited clips from two cameras with a common audio track that I filmed of a recent Equipping to Praise program entitled "King of the Jungle". This "teaser" is actually from clips from the rehearsal the night before the program.


Photos of the Kids

Here are a couple of photos my wife took the day before she and my kids left for Venny:

This first is of the kids fishing at my brother's pond.

This next is my youngest son with his friend Rachel. She is a fellow pre-homeschooler. They're like two peas in a pod - only cuter.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Departure to Venezuela

After staying up way too late last night (3am) packing and putting together last-minute details, my wife and children have departed for 10 weeks in Venezuela. I'll get to join them for the last week, but I'll have 9 weeks alone.

Michael and Peggy Furr arrived at our house just after 10:30 this morning and loaded up the luggage into the back of their SUV. Then we departed for the church for a prayer and send-off by the Venezuela team. We then left for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Lois and the kids checked their luggage and got off without a hitch.

After a tearful goodbye, the Furrs took me to lunch and back to their house for fellowship. Tonight we met with the Venezuela team at the Bowman's for turkey burgers and plenty of dessert. Lois called when they got to Miami and informed us that the flight to Maracaibo was delayed. After shuffling terminals and gates, the flight left two hours after the original plan. Lois called from the plane just before taking off. I haven't heard from them in Maracaibo yet, but expect to soon after they get through customs. She has a satellite phone with her, so connection shouldn't be any trouble.

I have some photos, but need to shower and rest. Perhaps tomorrow I'll update with some photos of their departure and word from their arrival in Venezuela.

Edit 6/3/2007 12:53am..
Lois just called from Maracaibo. They had a problem with a passenger and didn't get into the air until 9pm. After going through passport check, they are in line for customs. Ised, Adriana, Keny and Martin are visible in the lobby awating them for transport to Cabimas.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Questioning God

Human beings in all the stupor of our fallen condition often ask sophomoric questions of God. After considering some act of evil one may ask, "Where was God?" Why, He's omnipresent, of course. He was there. We may also ask, more to the point, "Why does God let bad things happen?"

To answer this, we must ask the question, "What is a bad thing?" Certainly if we break God's law a bad thing has occurred. However, how bad is it? Has God been harmed by someone breaking His law? We can say that Christ was crucified and that certainly counts as being harmed. But is it? God has His ends in mind and He is not thwarted by our measly disobedience. There is no power against God in sin. Sin does harm to us, not God. In fact, He can use it to His advantage - to glorify Himself. Before whom is God glorified? Over whom does he require an advantage? He is God. He has the glory and the advantage without our faithless praise and vain prayers. That we have any proper inclination toward God is due to His condescension toward us, not our attempts to please Him. If we seek His face, we do so for our benefit, not His - for how can we benefit God? Nothing we can do in the world is untainted by sin.

So what do we say of people who are murdered or killed for no apparent reason? "They are innocent and undeserving of death," many are inclined to declare. No. All of us deserve death. We have an unfaithful view of God and His promise of eternal life if all we see is the function of our bodies in this world. There is more that this mud hole. It is a mere shadow of what God has for us. All whose bodies cease to function in this world for whatever cause are in the hands of a God who is both just and gracious.

Can we then do anything of worth? Yes, all things have worth and are redeemable by our Creator. However, God is not unconcerned for us and desires that we should do those things that benefit us. What most benefits us is a relationship with Him. This relationship in a fallen world is best fostered by our obedience to Him. He therefore gave us His law to reveal Himself to us, protect us, and provide a context to save us.

May God grant us wisdom to have faith and the power to obey.

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