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Sunday, April 5th, 2015 - 2:30 AM

"What Happen?"

Oh look, an insanely old blog that is somehow still out on the internet. It would be funny to randomly write a new blog post, years after the whole thing has been announced as a dead project. Nah, but who does crazy stuff like that?

I probably shouldn't do that. I'll just think about doing it. I hope the super old website I hand-coded years ago hasn't become sentient. Then I would run the risk of having all my thoughts telepathically projected into published blog posts. How embarrassing and revealing might that be, especially since I don't ever check my old blog anymore. If a new post suddenly appeared, I probably wouldn't know. No one reads it anymore, so probably none of my friends would tell me of the odd A.I. glitch either. Oh no, I think it's happening right now as I think! I can feel the words being sucked out of my head! Aaaaaah!

Oh, and Happy Easter while I'm at it. Jesus is alive, and eternal hope is offered to all mankind through Him alone. He has what we need.

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Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 - 8:42 PM

"All Good Things Must Come to An End"

After approximately four and a half years of onlinedome I with some hesitation and melancholy announce today the impending dissolution of this here web site, fondly come to be known as Esotropiart. I should qualify that "fondness" I suppose, for in reality I think I was the only one who was ever "fond" of such a strange name.

In reality, I never really liked the name Esotropiart. It was more of a forced choice. All the domain names I really wanted were already registered. I always wanted this particular site to be called "crosseyed.com" or something like that. Every decent variation of that theme I could think of was claimed. I researched more thoroughly my desired theme using a thesaurus and through general web searches. I learned that "esotropia" is a medical condition that is often described as "cross eyed". Esotropia.com was taken, so I settled for esotropiart, which obviously indicated my initial intention to speak my message by way of "artwork", if mine can be called that.

I added a number of features over the years, most significantly perhaps being EsoBlog. Of course everything is hand-coded in PHP/MySQL/XHTML/CSS/Javascript. In the beginning, Esotropiart was my playground, where I employed the latest and greatest web technologies and tricks I learned. The last couple years have been exceptional in this regard. I haven't made any significant technological advances to my own web site, and the scripts have stagnated. My attention has been demanded elsewhere

All along, the message or theme of Esotropiart has always been "Life is a process". It was my original dream to show every single piece of artwork I ever created, which sums to probably a couple thousand to date. I never found the time to add all that artwork and fill in the database fields for various information about the artwork. I wanted the complete set of my works to show a development of skill and technique over the span of a lifetime, from early childhood to "maturity" (I'm still not there!). I have never considered myself a greatly talented or gifted artist. I fall somewhere in the line of "above average", but I'm no prodigy or naturally born genius like some people I know.

The focus of my site's content shifted largely to my blog in the second half of Esotropiart's existence. I felt that my ability to communicate verbally, though also no master's craft, was more effective than mere random drawings in illustrating the message, "process of life". I shared much from my heart, starting with "trivial" things like movie reviews and graphics articles. Later I shifted more and more to divulging the inmost parts of my being, trying to communicate the profundity of the great and powerful work the Holy Spirit of God - the image of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior - has worked in me.

While I can't promise I will flee from having a "web presence" forever (sorry, if you were hoping!), for now my decision is to allow Esotropiart to vegetate for a while. I never really achieved any of the goals I wanted to with it. Of course perhaps prime among reasons for this failure was a lack of time and energy invested to the degree I had originally hoped. At any rate, it is a fairly final decision to bring Esotropiart to an eventual, anti-climactic end. I'm still mulling it over, but I don't feel it will be much of a loss as far as the internet community is concerned. I wish I had vast crowds of disappointed fans to apologize to. If you are reading now, you are among about 10 or 15 faithful readers - and I think you'll get over it :)

Even so, thank you for your faithful reading and viewing over the years. Don't worry, I'll back it all up. If a time comes to revive it some day in the future in some other form, you can be sure it will be something I'll consider. I may have plans already in the works, but that would be "giving too much away" :)

God bless you all,

I love you with the best dose of Christ's love that is capable of being displayed through this broken vessel of self known as Phil. May the Spirit of Christ enrichen your life as He has mine, yet two or tenfold if He wills. His "blessing" will not likely be riches or fame or constant cheer... but it will be good. Your life's journey will not be wasted, not a single tear or heartache, if you allow Jesus Christ, His comforting Spirit and the Almighty Father to enter your life and reside in you. I know it is His desire. What is yours?

Some "Historical" EsoLogos

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Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 - 12:28 AM

"Beveled Cross Design Realized"

I came up with a simple cross design for the upcoming Stations of the Cross event, presented by Ethnos Church (my community, my people, my family). Our Thursday night community group is putting together a few stations, and for one of them we needed a cross.

I could have waited to build it with someone from church, but wasn't sure how the logistics would work out since I don't have a car. Plus, I was a little antsy. I figured it would be a good chance to spend some time with my dad anyway and asked him if he had the tools I might need.

My dad didn't have a key ingredient, the table saw. I was talking to my best friend Dave about it, and he remembered his dad has a table saw. Well, his dad wasn't around but suggested Dave's uncle. So off to Dave's uncle's house we ended up going this evening (after stopping by my parents' for dinner and such). Dave's uncle was very nice and stopped in his tracks to help us rip some boards on his table saw.

For some reason every saw that I used in the whole construction of this cross had much trouble cutting these boards. Must be because I choose the "kiln dried" variety of 2x4s from Home Depot. Oh well, my bad.

Dad and I set to work trying various things to get my design to work. We made a few mistakes, trying to construct this really strong, proper way of securing the cross bar thing. Well, after realizing we'd have to cut at some REALLY weird angles to make our idea work, we ditched that plan. Normally I'd love the challenge of figuring angles because I used to love math... but it was getting late.

We made due with an original plan I had that ... and a yadda yadda yadda, no one cares about the details. So my dad and I finished the cross. It was fun working together. We probably poisoned ourselves with severe smoke inhalation on some of those cuts. It was amazing. The entire shop was incredibly hazy, as if the boards were actually on fire (or somehow worse?). So if I'm hacking and wheezing (or dead) when you see me next, that might be why.

Here's our finished product. I just have to paint it... probably white.

By the way, neither my dad nor I are experienced with carpentry, so don't make fun. We did the best we could as a couple rookies. I think it turned out pretty good!

Dad's and my cross

Dad's and my cross

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 - 11:51 PM

"Your Blessing Awaits You"

He did it. He accomplished it. He said it, and it happened. He declared it. His voice shook the mountains. The vibrations shook the core of the universe, and all things rose or fell in submission to His will. He did it. The impossible became possible, even the small task of moving a dead heart into motion. If you believe in miracles, why not believe His ability to affect your own soul, much less completely redeem and transform you from the inside out! Don't doubt He will do it.

This whole Biblical model of blessing is stunning me lately. I used to think it was just a cultural thing. I admit worse sentiments: I thought it was wordy rigmarole. For example, when I read about fathers blessing sons in the Old Testament, I thought it was boring and insignificant. I figured it was just an old fashioned practice of an ancient civilization. OK, I didn't think of it THAT negatively. I guess I just didn't think of it at all. As far as the New Testament blessings, I found them tedious to read and repetitious. For example, all of Paul's epistles start or end approximately the same way, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" and yackety smackety. I always considered that stuff as empty wind to package the more important content - kind of like a way to introduce or wind down the more relevant message in the middle.

A year ago, I was compelled by the Holy Spirit to reconsider the significance of Old Testament blessings. Just a few weeks ago, the New Testament ones also came alive. The account of how this happened is almost too lengthy to share, but I'll try to relate the gist of it.

My Grandpa has been a great inspiration to me. I know I've shared that numerous times, but there is a lot to the story. I still have yet to publish the video of his explanation for the "blessing" of his disabilities as well as the recording of his blessing over me. Much remains to be said. I've always greatly admired my Grandpa, the humble pastor with a great passion for the Word of God and ability to make it come alive through his sermons rich with wisdom and insight. I admire his authenticity in simple, childlike faith. He's a good man in spite of (or perhaps because of, as he would attest) his many difficulties.

A couple years ago, the thought seemingly randomly occurred to me that I'd like to somehow "inherit" some part of Grandpa's spiritual gifts and aptitude toward all things of God and His Word. I can attest to the truth that these thoughts simply "came to me". I don't know where from, seemingly from the Spirit, looking back in hindsight. The specific accounts of the patriarchal generational blessings (Isaac blessing Jacob, Jacob blessing his sons, etc) popped into my mind. Like I just mentioned, these stories didn't really mean much to me at all growing up until the connection to my Grandpa occurred to me. The other story that "magically" made it's way to my mind was when Elisha the prophet asked for a double portion of the spirit of his mentor, Elijah. For some reason unknown to me, I felt compelled to seek this sort of blessing or "inheritance" from Grandpa. I can't stress enough how "outside myself" the nature of these thoughts is, and I believe they were from God.

I kept these thoughts in the back of my mind for a couple years and didn't act on them. I wondered if it might be presumptuous to assume God would actually use such a transaction or sentiment to endow me with an actual tangible blessing. I figured it couldn't hurt, but was not overly hopeful for crazy stuff. So I put it off. Last August I could wait no more. I don't know what changed in my heart, but I suddenly felt pressured to ask for some sort of blessing from Grandpa. This feeling happened to coincide with a general drop in Grandpa's health, but several months before his very sudden decline that led up to his admission to the hospital and later to a nursing facility, where he resides currently. Even so, it was God's timing, for had I waited much longer, I probably would have missed the opportunity entirely. I wept a few times about it, and it was this emotion that drove me to finally step out in blind faith and ask for Grandpa's blessing. I figured there must be something to it.

Little did I know that God would use this simple act to completely rearrange the composition of my spirit. Something miraculous happened in my life that cannot be explained. I don't even know how to tell the story, I feel like I'm blabbing. Three stimuli changed my life at around the same time: 1) I confessed the full measure of all my sin and horrible plight to Ethnos my church body (or rather my beloved spiritual family) and was somehow miraculously healed from my infirmity by being exposed to the Light of God (still need to better tell the fulness of that amazing story), 2) I asked for Grandpa's blessing, and 3) I asked God to give me more of His Spirit, specifically the same type of Spirit interaction that inspired and empowered the early church. For whatever crazy reason, God did something amazing to me by way of this three step deal. The way I describe it is this: "The Holy Spirit has fallen on me, and there is nothing I can do about it!" Ever since that time about seven months ago, my life has been full of crazy interactions with God's Word, His people, and most importantly the Holy Spirit. This account may be hard to accept, and some skeptics surely discount it as my imagination. I know better than these. Something happened. I can feel it.

Now for the shorter story of how I learned to appreciate New Testament blessings. I just now realized as I was writing, I have to credit Elder Dave primarily for this appreciation. Quite often in the Ethnos gatherings, he will come prepared with a benediction that comes in the form of one of these New Testament style blessings. Hearing those over the last several months probably primed my soul to help me finally realize these blessings' significance (which I used to think were just fluffy verbiage to hem in the Apostle Paul's messages).

Not only that, but Elder Dave suggested reading Romans together a chapter at a time and discussing our findings. I started that out in my community laundry room and only got to verse 7 of chapter one, cuz I wrote too much (nothing new). This is the final conclusion to the findings of that first encounter in Romans (I've had others since).

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:7 ESV

OK, whooptie-do, right? Maybe like I used to, you also read such a verse and think, "Yeah, just an introductory or closing statement. No real power or anything to learn here." Ha! WRONG! Think about it. What is Paul actually saying or doing here? He is directing something from God toward another human being. In the same way that God did strange miracles through Paul by having a handkerchief heal people that Paul only touched, something is actually being projected out of God through these words. Grace is something we know. Peace is something we know. Paul here is somehow sending out grace and peace from God Almighty and His Son Jesus.

What? Really? Does God really grant power to men to dose out His peace and grace? Apparently so. Have you ever thought of that before? Each time you say, "God bless you" or "Peace be with you" and append it with a name of God, you are potentially petitioning the God of universe to action. That's AMAZING! It's not that God bends His knee to our will and performs our requests like a genie. However, He is the best Father ever known, and He chooses to act through our "benedictions and well wishing of others".

Why am I all worked up about this blessing stuff? Isn't it just hopeful, not guaranteed (like something to make people feel good)? Perhaps. I don't know for sure that my own weak and faithless words call God to action like these men in Scripture. I have to believe it to some degree, but my faith fails to expect 100% response (to my shame). Sometimes I feel my prayers go no farther than the ceiling. To say otherwise would be dishonest. I'm human. I doubt that which I can't see and touch like the rest of everyone has and will throughout the history of the world. Even so, God has blessed me with miraculous measure because I simply followed His Spirit to ask for the blessing. That's it. That's all I did. It just happened like that.

Don't trust my testimony? Trust Scripture then. What happened when blessings were meted out in the Bible? Were they just meaningless blessings like, "Live long and prosper?" No, in every case of a blessing declared, everything happened just as was blessed. These blessings were prophecies. When Israel (Jacob) blessed his sons, he dictated very specific details of where they would live, what their character would be like, how their lives and stories would play out, and so on. Isn't that nuts?

When you ask for the blessing of someone you respect, "Old Testament Style", you might be told something like this: "Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel!" That's what poor Simeon and Levi got as a "blessing" from their father! Just think, it is from the tribe of Levi that all the priests of Israel descended. Weird, huh?

In the same set of blessings, Jacob blesses his son Judah in an incredible way. Judah gets the longest blessing, filled with flattering prophecy. Judah was one of the brothers who in jealousy condemned Joseph to death. Joseph was the instrument of God's deliverance to the entire ancient world. However, Joseph's blessing nowhere near compares with the glory Judah receives. In fact, Judah became a separate nation after the reign of Solomon. It was Judah, and the rest of Israel. That alone is an amazing distinction. Interestingly enough, the kings of the tribe of Judah, and King David himself, were always on the throne, just as Jacob's blessing dictated. Not convinced yet? JESUS HIMSELF descended from the tribe of Judah. One of His esteemed names is "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah"! Let me tell you, when you ask for an Old Testament blessing from a man of God, you better watch out! Can I get an "Amen"?

Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.

Genesis 49:8-12 ESV

The kicker for me that really opened my eyes to the significance of Biblical blessings I found in Isaac's blessing of Jacob (who "stole" it from Esau... though God knew this would happen, and it was predicted from his birth and predestined long before that). After Esau, the firstborn, finds out his younger brother stole his father's blessing through deceit, he begged his father to bless him also. If these blessings were meaningless trifles or meaningless well wishes, Isaac would have gladly also blessed his favored son Esau, would he not? Instead, this is what happened:

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me." His father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" He answered, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing." Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?" Esau said to his father, "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:

"Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck."

Genesis 27:30:40 ESV

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