iPainting: The Bluegrass Trail

  

  I love digital watercolors.  They’re so delicate, and the hues are so soft.  This is an extra special, unscheduled, extra iPainting that we hope you enjoy. We call it “The Bluegrass Trail”.

Hisbits: The Road To Pixar

  When I say Pixar, characters flood your mind. Andy’s toys, Sully and Mike, a super family in witness protection, and a house filled with balloons parade through your mental horizon. The funny thing is, it all started with a divorce, a failed computer system, and a fired artist.

George Lucas, Yoda’s Dad, was in trouble. His divorce was truly costing him his fortune. He made the decision to sell his computer graphics division to a friend. A computer guy who had just lost the company he founded, named Steve Jobs.

The company sold the Pixar Image Computer, mostly to the government and medical facilities. They did have one other buyer, the Walt Disney Company. They planned to use the system to modernize two dimensional animation. It would replace the need of having a separate hand painted image for every movement Mickey made.

It didn’t sell well unfortunately, even though they had hired a former Disney artist to showcase the system’s potential. John Lasseter, had worked on Disney classics such as 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and The Tramp. He had lost his job due to pushing computer animation, and making a few corporate enemies in his excitement for his art.

Post Disney, John Lasseter was given a different title to work at Pixar. The man that hired him wasn’t supposed to hire an animator. He began to make shorts advertising the system. One of the characters from it is now the mascot you see at the beginning of every film. They did something right in the midst of all of this, Disney finally asked them to make a movie.

The year they did, they had to sell off the hardware division and lost thirty people. John had spent his time learning technology from two of Pixar’s three founders, company president Ed Catmull and Executive Vice President Alvy Smith. He had also taught them about telling stories. The result was a movie called Toy Story, and thanks to Pixar’s Chairman Steve Jobs, they didn’t just work for Disney, they were now partners.

Success wasn’t all that followed, CEO Michael Eisner and a battle for power at Disney almost ended everything. Pixar was severing ties with Disney, largely due to what they felt was mistreatment at the top. Bob Iger, the new president, reached out to Walt’s nephew Roy and his friend Steve Jobs.  

A new agreement happened, Pixar was bought by Disney, and John Lasseter now ran the very animation studio that fired him. Since then you may have heard of movies like Tangled and Frozen, and Inside Out. What started out in chaos turned into a beautiful story. Insert a cameo by The company’s good luck charm and frequent cameo star, John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of Cheers), and you’ve got the makings of … well, you know. 

Why Jesus Walked On Water

Israel_Tiberias2_tango7174Recently my wife Ashley and I were teaching the KidsPoint class on Sunday at our church, Point Of Mercy. The lesson started off with the storm on the Sea Of Galilee, and Jesus walking on water. I love kids, and I love their questions. Their very first question was, why did Jesus walk on water? They wanted to know more than the fact that it was cool, they wanted to know what it meant to them. This post was birthed from that question.

You are a fisherman, your life is the sea. It can make you or break you. Spouses have become either wealthy or widows as a result of it’s actions. It seems that it is your master, until you see someone independent of it, even subdue it, and then watch them walk over it.

That’s what happened to Simon Peter, and the rest of the Disciples. It’s such an amazing event that we are tempted to stand and simply wonder, and we should. Like the children in our class, we should also ask what it means to me. Jesus didn’t just do these incredible things because they were cool. He did them to show those that left everything for Him, that He could take care of them.

Jesus, unlike the sea, was not careless, or selective of who received a blessing. The Bible says He is doesn’t respect persons, meaning He doesn’t play favorites. What He promised to one, He will give to all. Christ wanted them to realize that He was powerful enough to save them, strong enough to keep them, and had resources enough to supply for them. He also wanted them to know individually that He was kind enough to care for each and every one of them.

[tweetthis]The Lord would trade His life for ours, water for vinegar, and unequaled agony for our freedom.[/tweetthis]


He still wants us to know the exact same things today. He used and uses analogies that we can understand. Water had been used by God to teach for centuries. Now Jesus was on Earth, pictures paled in comparison to the real thing. He spent a lifetime showing others that He was The One that could quench their thirst, supply their needs, and overcome their problems .

At the Cross, He uttered two words, “I thirst”, knowing three things when He said it. First, that it was a fulfillment of Scripture. Second, that according to the prophecy, they would offer Him vinegar instead of water. An third, that it was one of the greatest ironies in the existence of time itself.

The Water Of Life thirsted for something. He longed to see His creation freed from the chain that bound us. Jesus had walked on water to reveal to His Disciples that He could not only conquer their sea, but their sin. Now at Calvary, The Lord would trade His life for ours, water for vinegar, and unequaled agony for our freedom.

Jesus walked on water because, according to the Scripture, only God can. Just as only He could span the chasm between a perfect God and a fallen man. Before the sea had robbed wives of their husbands, sin had cost God His children. He would cross anything, subdue anything, and conquer all to get them back. Today, He wants to do the same for you.  Jesus wants to minister to your need, to help you with your problem.

Whether you’re in the middle of a problem, or sinking under the weight of it, let Him help you with it today. Everyone needs to know that someone is both powerful enough, and cares enough to attend to their need. It’s an old song, but the perfect way to bring this post to a close. “When the waves are over your head, they’re under His feet.” You and I are the reason that Jesus walked on water.

Hisbits: Ernest T Of The Bronx

  Did you know Ernest T. Bass was born in the Bronx? Howard Morris, the actor who made the mountain man famous was born to a Jewish family in 1919. He, Carl Reiner, and the future Commandant Klink of Hogan’s Heroes, Werner Klemperer, were in the same unit in World War II. It was a company of actors assigned to entertain the troups in the Pacific. Samantha Stevens father on Bewitched, Maurice Evans, was the company commander.
Howard was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, who found fame playing numerous roles on Sid Caesar’s Show Of Shows. Most people today aren’t familiar with the comedy sketch program, but Howard Morris delivered some extremely hilarious performances, viewable on YouTube. As I mentioned, this same man, comfortable with Hamlet and Macbeth, will forever be to us, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s Ernest T.” He picked up his southern accent while stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 
In addition to Ernest T, Howard directed episodes of the series, appeared on Broadway, and guest starred on series such as the Dick Van Dyke show. In the early 1960’s, Howard began to do voice work for cartoons. He was the first Mr. Peebles on Magilla Gorilla and the first Adam Ant. You may know him as the Gopher on Winnie the Pooh, Wade the duck on Garfield, or as the voice of the Hamburgler.

He continued to act and direct for most of his life, including reprising Ernest T’s role in Return To Mayberry. While Howard passed away at 85, his image has and will continue to entertain generations. All who love Mayberry will keep laughing at the smile that launched rocks, broke windows, and crossed Kelsey’s ocean.

Discovery

  Discovery, the action or process itself, keeps life vibrant. The possibilities are endless, and the joy is in the pursuit of knowledge. I would like to share with you three suggestions I feel will add value to your life, in a meaningful way.

Life should contain mystery, as well as opportunity. Men have explored continents, located cures for tropical diseases, and won Pulitzer Prizes for  two reasons. First, the need was both real and great. Second, the pursuit was noble and exciting. Your time on Earth can hold meaning and adventure, no matter what your age, situation, or circumstance.

The first topic I recommend is a very personal one to me, the study of Scripture. I believe that the combination of hearing the Word taught, and private study will enhance every day of your life. It’s this twofold application that will perform, and transform your life on multiple levels.

Chiefly of which is to enhance your spiritual journey. It will strengthen, comfort, and counsel you. Life is hard, your problems are serious, and you don’t have to solve them alone. His Word can insulate you from the conditions that surround you, and give you the peace to continue on.

The second topic is something that I’m also currently experiencing, learning a second language. If you’re like me, you don’t currently have time for a class, and many of the ways you’ve tried to learn haven’t worked for you. Recently I began something that, for me at least, is a wonderful solution.

The app I’m using is called Duolingo, a tool that has combined fun and function. It is designed somewhat like a game, and through the process of repetition, I’m learning French. Although there are several languages to choose from. I don’t expect to hop a plane to Paris anytime soon, but I am learning and having a good time.

Learning a second language has several benefits, but part of it is the challenge. It is working my brain, exploring an area of interest, and challenging me in a new and different way. As we get older, keeping engaged mentally will enhance our thinking, keeping us sharp.

The last topic may seem trivial, but in reality it really it’s not, and that is a personal interest. It could be most anything, a sports statistician, a mystery buff, or a sci-fi fan. Either way, you’ll learn facts, figures, and bits of trivia that you’ll be able to recall at a moments notice.

Why is that important? Because it not only keeps you sharp, it makes you happy. The pursuit of life was meant to be enjoyable, and even that has a side benefit. When you are happy, you’re more engaged. You’re plugged in to what’s going on around you.  

Life holds challenges and surprises that can seem overwhelming. That’s why personal devotion, learning a new language, and private interests can help you. They will give you perspective, provide a challenge, and being you joy. It’s the attempt as much as the find itself that makes us better. Today I encourage you, pick a subject you’ve not tackled before, and start the process of discovery. 

The Sea Horse: New In Town

  Mimic had chosen a costume.  He wasn’t unaccustomed to them, having acted all his life. This would be different, it was his first public persona as a Baronet of The Society Of Thieves. Prior to now, he had worked in the shadows, preferring to build his public reputation as head of the Almeric Group.

Leonard Almeric would have to learn to juggle two faces. One legitimate, and the other totally opposite.   His costume needed flair, it needed class, it needed “an ascot.” He laughed at his own style.  He was a Baronet, a General of con men, he would mimic famous leaders and disarm others with his flamboyant but dangerous image. 

He wore a bronze metal mask with the features of a skinny Henry VIII.  A Napoleonic crown topped the mask, while a shogun’s robe covered his torso, exposing the red ascot and black camouflage jumpsuit underneath.  His weapon of choice, a small rifle fashioned with the same coloring and pearl accents as Patton’s prize side arms. Black knee high boots finished the outfit. Mimic’s voice was disguised to give him a Swedish accent.  

He wanted to leave an impression beyond fashion.  So as his first public exhibit, he kidnapped the Mayor of Oceania in broad daylight. Dropping down from a helicopter during the Mayor’s press conference on the steps of City Hall.  “The ransom is one billion dollars or the Sea Horse’s freedom.  Oceania, you have forty eight hours to comply. If not, I suggest you hold a new election, and interview another hero.”