21
Sep
09

Living To Be 100

Over the last year or so I have been seeing a doctor concerning my cholesterol levels. This came about when my father suffered a minor, nonfatal, heart attack which resulted in his requiring bypass surgery. This made me very concerned for him and in turn made him very concerned for me. Our mutual concern was caused by a single fact: poor heart condition is hereditary among the Hornes. My paternal grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack in his forties. He fell dead in the yard in front of my father and his sisters—completely unexpected and unforeseen. This prospect scares me and is the reason that I exercise 4 to 5 times weekly and why I monitor what I eat. I currently take medication to help control my cholesterol and triglyceride levels however I am working toward being able to sustain proper levels through diet and exercise only (I hate taking medicine as much as I hate paying for it).

But I have decided on another lifelong goal that I have only recently shared with my wife. I would like to live to be 100 years old. As far as I know, no one in my family has ever reached 100 years of age. Granted my familiarity with my family only goes back about five generations, but I feel fairly certain that it has not been done (at least not in a very long time).

Now I do not know how much say a person has in his years on earth. I believe wholly in the sovereignty of God and that He knows (and maybe even determines) how long a man will live. I am not sure how set a man’s years are or if he can affect the number of years of his life. I am going to strive for my goal and leave the result in God’s hands. If I have to go to be with the Lord before I have reached 100, I can not really complain for everyday in His glorious presence will be greater than the day before. Furthermore even if I die when I am 60, I can at least be happy that I was in good health and kept up my strength as best I could for the time that I was alive. If I am going to pass away after only 80 years on this earth I want to be sure I lived a life of health and happiness, enjoying God and my family and friends.

It seems that the degradation in health and life that people experience in the twilight years of life is due to poor health choices and, by that point, a lack of motivation to do anything about it. I encourage you to also set a goal of living to 100 and strive toward and see what positive changes you can make in your health. I am reminded of quote by C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity:

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

I say, aim at longevity of life and you will get strength, good health, and enjoyment thrown in. Aim at simply losing a few pounds or fitting into last year’s jeans and you will likely get none of those things.

Not sure if I will make it to 100 or not but I will make a good go of it and at whatever age my life ceases I want to be able to say I passed with strength in my members and my wits about me.

11
Sep
09

Why Is Healthcare a Important Moral Issue & Not Abortion

In the wake of Senator Ted Kennedy’s passing, President Obama (using the death of the Senator as a political tool) said:

[Kennedy] repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that ‘it concerns more than material things.’ ‘What we face,’ he wrote, ‘is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.’

Pro-lifers have been saying the same thing about abortion for years, but liberals turn a blind eye to that grotesque, inhumane practice and pretty it up under the guise of personal rights (of the mother, that is, not the baby who’s having his/her life ripped away prematurely).

It is a strange and twisted day when we call reforming healthcare (the access to which is not a right) an act of “social justice” while at the same time we are tolerating the wholesale discard of human life (which is an inalienable right along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness).

31
Aug
09

Once Upon a Time, God…

Here’s a story:

Right after my parents divorced my mom was living in Atlanta and was taking care of me by herself. I was around two years old. Mama had barely ever lived on her own much less with a child. She had applied at numerous jobs but nothing was happening and she was running out of options, and money, and food. She knew she was on the verge of getting kicked out of her apartment. We had run out of food. She was feeding me eggs for supper each nite while she ate nothing. One night (and she was not particularly religious at that time) she got on her knees and prayed and told God that her money was gone and she just about out of food and she didn’t know where the next meal was coming from or where we’d live if they landlord kicked us out. She asked Him to intervene.

The next day Lithonia in Cochran (one of the places she had applied) called her to give her a job. The same day she was going through some things looking for clothes she could wear to her new job and found a check that she had never cashed. She could not recall where it came from or why she had stuffed it in that drawer.

I always think of that story when we’re falling on hard times or when I know that others are. I pray that this story about my mama will encourage you if current economic conditions have taken their toll on you. And may “my God…meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

27
Aug
09

Finding Christian Ethics in WWII

End Is Not EndSome time back I wrote an article about a band I had discovered called A Rotterdam November. The reason the album was so interesting to me is because the backdrop against which the stories of the songs were written was the Second World War. I am intrigued by history and this war particularly stands out as a hinge, a turning point in the society of the world. It was a war of ideologies. It was a war in which sides were chosen, not for allegiance or commonality per se, but because one’s chosen allies were less hated than one’s enemies. A case in point would be the Soviet Union joining the Allied powers (though Stalin’s politics and means of rule differed greatly from, say, Great Britain) simply because Nazi Germany was a greater enemy. The only potential exception might be the alliance of the United States and Great Britain.

 Now another band, a favorite of mine, has put out an album that uses this unbelievable war as the vehicle for its themes and lyrical stories. The band is House of Heroes and the album is “The End Is Not the End.” Let me say that I have not yet purchased this album (though I intend to) but I have listened to all of the tracks online and I am very eager to get my hands on it.

 The music of House of Heroes on previous albums has been strong, loud, riff-oriented alternative rock with some Beatles-esque pop sensibilities worked in at times. But for the most part wall-of-sound is the order of the day. The songs recorded for “The End” are no different however there is a common theme due to the WWII references. Themes include loving one’s enemies, courage, living and dying for something greater than oneself, finding God through adversity, and finding redemption. 

 The cast of characters for these lyrical tales include a man who wrestles with God in Jacobean fashion (“In the Valley of the Dying Sun”), two brothers called up to fight a war in which one does not survive (“By Your Side”), a man who’s homeland is overrun by the enemy but he stays to fight for his way of life (“Codename: Raven”), a person who finds himself a political prisoner in his own country (“Leave You Now”), and, in one of the stranger, more cryptic songs, a man and a woman who love one another yet the woman is the citizen of a Communist country, however the man’s nationality is not given (“Baby’s a Red”).

Musically, the overall sound on this album is similar to what is found on previous HOH records with loud guitars and plenty of cool riffs.  But the dynamics within each song on “The End” are more varied. A song may go from a driving rock chorus to a shuffling, clean, falsetto-laden verse at any moment. Vocally, this album uses a lot of layering and multi-part harmonies to deliver a very Queen-like vocal mix (think Bohemian Rhapsody but less operatic). Lyrically, the timeless themes of faith, hope, and love are delivered in a unique way with the WWII imagery.

 If you like modern alternative rock, at least listen to a few clips of this album on iTunes, Amazon Mp3 or YouTube and check out “The End Is Not the End” by House of Heroes.

20
Aug
09

Theological Problems (If Any) With “Come Thou Fount”

Not too long ago I was discussing hymns with some friends and how we miss them sometimes and we were discussing our favorites. During the conversation someone brought up “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and the person said something to the effect of “I can’t stand that one” and acted quite disgusted at the thought of the song. But I responded “Oh, that’s my favorite hymn!” And that’s true, it is.

What rubbed my friend the wrong way about this great worship song of old is a stanza which comes in the latter half of the song:

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

More specifically it is the line “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love” that was the major point of contention. My friend declared that she had never felt that way as a Christian. Furthermore she believed that such a sentiment would indicate that a person may not be saved. How could you be securely and soundly saved through Jesus’ shed blood yet be prone to leave the God you love? A just question, I think.

So how about it? If you are ever or have ever sensed an inner wont to wander from the fold of God, does that mean there is something wrong with your spiritual life? I would say no.

Who among us is prepared to testify that “from the moment of my conversion right up until the present time I have never faltered or departed from the ways of God in thought, word or deed, nor have I ever been tempted to do so?” I have never gossiped, I have never criticized unjustly, I have never entertained an impure thought.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

We who are saved have been converted into the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We have been reckoned sinless and without blame for He has washed our garments white as snow with His own blood (it is because of Jesus blood and righteousness and NOTHING that we have done or could have ever done). We have been declared righteous, sinless, blameless by grace through faith. But to say we never sin? I believe that we who are Christians are being conformed to the image of God’s Son and so as we proceed and grow in our Christian life we are to become less and less prone to sinfulness. We will indeed become more like Jesus. But this occurs by dying to ourselves, by taking up our cross daily and following Him. Everyday we must cry out “Lord! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Take my heart, seal it up for yourself in your courts above; bind my heart to thee this day so that in thought, word and deed I might live a Christ-like life!”

I see nothing wrong with such a prayer, therefore I see nothing wrong with this great hymn’s third stanza. What say you?

11
Aug
09

Going To a Land Down Under: Kiwi? Aussie?

Who’s been a very naughty blogger? Who? WHO? (You, Joshie Joshie, You)

Actually it is true that blogging has greatly lost its luster for me (but, no, this blog did not die with Michael Jackson). Facebook and Twitter are way too time consuming and pretty much fulfill my longings for pontification. But I think the ol’ Smoak House still has a few good ones in her. Let see what we can conjure up today.

Here is something Lyndsay and I have talked over and thought about a lot lately. Nothing major is going to happen in the very near future but it could happen one day. No, I am not talking about parenthood.  I am talking about moving to another country.

We have not packed our bags yet, but the reason we have discussed this is for the very simple fact that HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. I refuse to be one of the foolish ones who forget that. You all know where I am going with this. The Obama administration has made great and frightening strides toward Socialism in the last seven months.  I could not have predicted the swiftness with which he would put the hammer down.  Now I love studying history. In so doing I have seen what happens when governments take over the everyday aspects of commerce and people’s personal lives. I read of a Hitler who plunged an entire nation into ruin and hatred (Nazism was a Socialist movement); I have studied a Stalin who oppressed and murdered his own people. I have seen Socialism and Communism destroy, maim, oppress, and murder. I have never seen them actually work. I refuse to live under any version of either system. I will not subject my wife or any of our future offspring to such evil and tyranny. I can not let my family suffer under the type of single-payer healthcare system Obama wants to implement. I can not let my family suffer through a dead-in-the-water economic system that could result from the impending collapse of the U.S. dollar. I would rather leave the country. Chances are there are some who would rather I do so. 😉

But on a lighter note, what country should we move to if it were to come to that? Well by most accounts New Zealand and Australia seem to be good choices. They are ranked high in the world in terms of personal freedom, low government intrusion, and free market capitalism. There are a few differences though. New Zealand is a small island with some great natural resources, but not many. Kiwis must import many, many goods and thus they are more subject to dependence on foreign nations. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to consider. Australia on the other hand is in a little bit better position on that front. Also it stands to reason that more jobs would be available in a larger country like Australia. Plus it is its own continent. That’s just awesome! Keep in mind that I do not know minute details of either, only what I have read on the internet and heard from talking to people. So I would love to be educated by anyone who knows more.

There would be some non-economic/non-political details to consider as well. First of all, there’s the speech of those who live down under. A Georgia boy would tend to stick out like a sore thumb in a conversation. After living there for a time there’s a good chance that I would pick up some of the accent. I would rather maintain my southern speech but I am afraid there is just no way around it. The way I talk would most certainly change. Can you imagine me saying “g’day, mate?”  Oh brother.

Then there’s the problem of Christmas in the summer time. Yes, the seasons in the southern hemisphere are flip-flopped. Our fall and winter here is spring and summer down under and vice-versa. That means that December 25 is right smack in the middle of summer. It would be hard singing Jingles Bells while applying sunscreen.

What do you think? Australia? New Zealand? Some other place?  Let me hear from you.

26
Jun
09

Michael Jackson

It has been a long time since I have followed any of Michael Jackson’s music. The last album of his that I remember is the one with the song “Black or White.”  However when I was young (preteen or so) I really liked Michael Jackson’s music. For Christmas one year my mom gave me the cassette tape of his album “Bad.”  I must have listened to it in its entirety everyday for nearly a year. I loved that album.

But by the time I was 14 rock n’ roll had fully taken my attention. But even though I have not been a fan of the King of Pop  in a very long time, I was still saddened at the news that he had passed away yesterday (Thursday, June 25), the day Lyndsay and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary.  We suddenly lived in a world without Michael Jackson. The world felt different.

I have seen great music artists pass in my time.  The most impactful perhaps was the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994. I have also seen the passing of Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon and Alice In Chains’ Layne Staley. But none of these had the influence on music and popular culture that Michael Jackson had. I suppose the only other artists whose deaths would be of the same magnitude would be Elvis Presley and John Lennon. The passing of both of these music legends marked the end of an era.  Regardless of how you feel about Jackson’s lifestyle, strange behavior, or music, his passing is the end of an era.




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