The Bethlehem Star REMIX 6

**Note: This post has been updated with the latest mix (v.6)**

Over the years I’ve enjoyed recording new songs (as in, new ones for me), so that I can get a feel for what the song is really like -as well as giving an easy place to do experimental work on the same pieces (which is the funnest part anyway).

This year I decided I wanted to record something new, take time to patiently mix it (which I’m not very experienced in doing and often don’t do at all), and then share it. The song I chose comes from a new composition by Bob Chilcott entitled “The Bethlehem Star”. The small story behind why it was put into music by Bob Chilcott caught my spirit, and since it was also offered as a free download at the time, I decided to give it a whirl. Not being men’s music and I not being very much a soprano, I eventually transposed it (as opposed to simply singing lead an octave low which doesn’t work in this setting) and applied my own various interpretations to the song.

For this season this is my own small “sacrifice of praise”.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


On Christmas Eve 2012 Alan Greaves, a church organist from Sheffield, was attacked as he walked to church for Midnight Mass. Sadly, he died a few days later, and soon after we heard of this I happened to come across a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Bethlehem Star, that affected me in the light of this tragedy. I decided to set it in his memory. ~Bob Chilcott



The Bethlehem Star

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, O Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethl’em star may lead me
To the sight of Him who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou were lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin on Christmas day.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1899

The Doomsday Clock Has Always Been Ticking

Mark 13.7

“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but the end is not yet.” ~ Jesus | Mark 13:7

Recently I read this verse in Mark 13 in my morning devotions, and was struck with the simple comfort of this verse. In this day and age, especially, I think, for us young adults striving to serve the Lord, we look on the the future with doubt and fear. To us it feels like the world is on the edge of a knife, teetering on the brink of utter destruction -and in times like these, we need verses like these.

I have made several observations on why we should not spend our days in fear:

Continue reading The Doomsday Clock Has Always Been Ticking

White Road–Dark Sky

Sometimes our paths stretch on before us –and run straight for as far as we can see. But beyond that distant point, it may turn towards new places and new experiences. While dark clouds threaten us, we are followers of the Light and Word –the Word that is a lamp unto our feet…

Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the night

                                  ~Fernando Ortega / Take Heart My Friend


The road towards Santa Rosita with stormy weather approaching….

Methods of the Watch Tower

Today the Jehovah Witness stopped by the book store were I am attending. A very nice couple that I know and who work with the Testigo de Jehovah in Santa Rosita.

They asked me very little, read a verse from somewhere from the old Testament that I couldn’t follow, and then gave me an English tract of theirs. They asked if I would be willing to take it and read it -I said I would take it and look through it, though I didn’t promise to read it. They know that our doctrines differ.

Not being very educated on the Testigos (The Jehovah Witnesses), I didn’t try to argue with them. Especially not in Spanish. In taking the track and looking through it, perhaps I have acted dangerously -but I was curious to see what sorts of ‘arguments’ their pamphlet makes. I’m glad I did now -for above all things I feel I understand these people better, and it makes me very sad for them.

Their arguments are well laid, but in such a way as to be compelling. Like an advertisement. I have often been glad of a study in High School in Language Arts about ‘advertisement’ and the methods used, for it has allowed me to understand what I read much better.

It is not my intention to debunk the statements of the Jehovah Witnesses, but to reveal what I believe are discrepancies.

Continue reading Methods of the Watch Tower

Let Us Not Be Hasty


It was Treebeard, the oldest living thing in middle earth that said “Let’s not be hasty!” It was his motto. And Ellesar (i.e. Aragorn) who strode around with great strides who patiently awaited the day when he could come into his own.

Today, we have lost the blood of the men of Númenor, and we go about in a great hurry. Are we patient in waiting upon the Lord? The Bible is full of the examples and teachings of waiting upon the Lord.

The LORD takes delight in his faithful followers, and in those who wait for his loyal love. (Psa 147:11)

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.  (Psa 37:7)

This is one of my ‘photo creations’. I took the photo of the clock, and borrowed the background offline.

The Chocolate Bunnies Are Melting…

A rather different Easter message to all my brothers and sisters in Christ!

– – –

Part 1) Becoming Who You Were Born To Be (this has to do with you)


My heart is full. Not because it is Easter. Not because of who I am. But because God is at work in my life, changing me, disciplining me, and ever so patiently teaching me more of Himself and His will for me! My heart is full and rejoicing, because I know that God is not making me into the people I admire most: Joseph; David; Jim Elliot; Pablo Yoder; Nate Saint; Dad. Rather, God is making me into someone different. He is making me into N. Yoder –called by God for a special purpose. A purpose I am being built and Continue reading The Chocolate Bunnies Are Melting…

Working Together

Cher-i-os! Com’on boys, let’s do this together. These ants know how to work together to move an object many many times their size. Sometimes they didn’t quite move in a perfectly straight line –but they all worked together towards the common goal.

We too should work together. Our differences and disagreements may make us curve a bit at times –but with God’s urging, we should finally arrive at the same goal.


*these tiny ants move a cheerio fifteen feet to their home…..

Razor – – – – –

Not every string of razor wire is meant to keep things imprisoned. In this case, it is meant to keep people out. But it is always used for protection. Here, razor wire is used at a phone tower to protect expensive equipment from being ransacked –and to protect mischievous people from hurting themselves on the towers (I admit to having great desire to climb the towers to get a birds eye view). Prisons use razor wire to protect the people without from people within who have a habit of hurting other people.

In life we mistake God’s razor wires for things they aren’t. We say “God is holding something good from me” when really he is trying to protect us from what lies inside that boundary. Or, we feel that God’s laws imprison us from enjoying the real world –when really God is protecting us from this world so that we can pass safely into the next world.

When razor wires are crossed –blood and suffering are the result. When razor wires are respected –the peace of God is present.


*razor wire at our local phone towers here in El Naranjo

The Foolishness of Riches

3366720659_b746789dfd*this was originally a topic I shared recently with the local church here in Guatemala. The study blessed me –especially as I thought of the insignificance of life here in comparison to a life eternal. It was also challenging as I think about moving home to the United States and the materialistic traps that are there. This write up is an expanded and edited form of my topic notes and outline –and thus will read a bit choppy. You will have to make effort to look up the scripture references underlined. As an experiment, I tried using English notes to teach a Spanish message and found it much easier to keep my train of thought moving along smoothly. It also helped by pushing me to talk ‘from the top of my head’ about my train of thought instead of getting stuck on the words of my notes.

Luke 16:19-31

This is the story of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had everything he wanted. Every day he would dress himself in fine clothes and eat a splendid banquet. He had everything that he needed. But the poor man was sick and sat at the gate of the rich man hoping to eat even just the scraps from the rich man’s table.

Then they both died. The poor man went to a place of comfort and peace. But the rich man went to a place of torment.

This is a sad story –and I use it as my introduction ask a question. Why did the rich man go to a place of torment? What is interesting about this story is that they are really two rich men in this story. We have the ‘rich man’ that is mentioned –but we also have Abraham, who also was a very rich man in his time. If both men were very rich –why did one go to a place of torment and the other to a place of comfort?

Mark 10:23-25

It is hard for those who trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God. It is like a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle!

Why is it that it is so hard for someone with wealth to enter the Kingdom of God? Is it sin to be rich? If men such as Abraham, Job, and David were blessed with riches –what can be wrong with them?

If we explore the Bible we find various problems with riches.

I. The Problems of Riches

A. Riches are a problem because they absorb interest and occupy our time

1. When we have lots of money and lots of possession, we have to spend time thinking about how to use it –how to earn more with it –and how to protect it. It absorbs a lot of our energy.

2. Riches do not satisfy. The more we have, the more we want. (Ecclesiastes 5.10)

B. Riches are a problem because they are deceitful

1. While explaining the meaning of a parable, Jesus mentioned that riches are deceitful. (Mark 4.19)

2. Riches promise much, but in the end don’t offer much in return

a. Possessions rust and can be destroyed and robbers steal them ( Matthew 6.19)

b. Riches cannot buy any type of salvation (Psalms 49:6-9)

c. Riches deceive us into thinking that we don’t need God (Luke 12:19)

C. Riches are a problem because they cultivate pride

1. The children of Israel had a problem with pride because of their possessions (Deuteronomy 8.11-17)

2. This pride led to the destruction and captivity of Israel.

3. When we are proud about our riches we forget to seek God (Psalms 10.4)

D. Riches are a problem because they makes us selfish

1. This was likely the problem with the rich man in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus. He was in a position to help the poor man Lazarus –but he was selfish and ignored him.

Luke 12:16-21

In reading this parable we can see these problems coming out in this man’s life…

– His riches absorbed his interest and time (17,18)

– We see that he was deceived into thinking he needed no one else and that he was proud (19)

– He wanted to store all his grain. He was selfish. We read nothing of him wishing to give some to the poor.

II. What can we learn so that we don’t fall in the same trap as these men ?

A. We Must Learn That Love of Possessions is Folly

1. Why should we seek to make ourselves rich if it causes so many problems?

2. It is folly because our lives do not consist of riches (Luke 12:15)

3. It is folly because the love of riches is idolatry (Ephesians 5.5)

4. It is not wrong to be rich –but it is wrong to desire to become rich.

a. Those who Desire riches fall into temptation (1 Timothy 6.9)

b. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and causes men to lose their faith and causes many sorrows (1 Timothy 6.10)

B. We Must Learn Contentment

1. Someone who has real riches is someone who knows God and is content (1 Timothy 6.6)

2. We can cultivate contentment in our lives by having the right perspective(1 Timothy 6.7-8)

1. We can cultivate contentment by remember that we arrived in the world with nothing and we will leave with nothing.

2. We can cultivate contentment by remembering that we need only two things to be content a) food b) clothing

III. Putting Our Lives in Perspective

Let us think of perspective. For an illustration let’s take the universe. We can’t really comprehend how large the universe actually is –but we know the universe is around us and that it exists.

Nothing in the universe travels faster than the speed of light. Light travels 299,792 kilometers per second. Even so, it takes light 8.3 minutes to arrive at the earth. This means that the sun is roughly

149,000 kilometers away from the earth.

But the next closest star is much, much farther away. Let’s imagine that we could travel at the speed of light. This is impossible –if anyone traveled this speed it would cause a lot of problems and he would be dead. But, imagining that we are traveling at the speed of light, it would take roughly four and a half years to arrive at the next closest star! This star is more or less:

40,653,234,201,600 kilometers from us.

To travel that distance we would need to travel from the earth to the sun and back 136,000 times.

The earth is in a galaxy and we are on the edge of one side. If we could travel at the speed of light, it would take 81,500 years to reach the opposite side of our very own galaxy.

We can see much, much farther than this with our eyes. The farthest object that we can see with our eyes without any help is very, very far away. If we were to travel to this point, it would take us

2,540,000 years

With telescopes and other tools, we can even farther. If we could travel to the farthest point that we know exists in space, if we traveled at the speed of light –we would have to travel

15,000,000,000 years

Now, let us return our thoughts to perspective. Eternal life. Eternal life does not end in 15,000,000,000 years. To travel to the farthest edges of space, I would have to live

150,000,000 life times of 100 years each.

Eternity is much bigger than that. Much bigger.

The Bible tells us in Mark 8.35 that to gain the real life of eternity, we must lose our lives here on earth

Mark 8.35

This means that we must give up our lives to the control and direction of Christ here on earth. We must choose to lose the pleasures and riches of this world to follow Christ. But when we think in perspective about eternal life and our lives now –it seems foolish that we should even think of holding on to the world. Can’t we give just 1 of our 150 million lives to Christ?

We must also realize that everyone will exist in eternity. I hope that each one of you will be with God for eternity. But likely, some of you will be spending eternity in a place of torment. This tiny life of ours is a life of choice. We can choose eternity with God or we can choose eternal separation from God with no hope of a future.

Luke 12:20,21

Those possessions that fooled this rich man into thinking that he was something, were the same riches that fooled the rich man in the story of Lazarus –and they are the same riches that try to fool us today. Riches on this earth have little value –and, in fact, are very dangerous. Our riches exist in heaven.

Ephesians 3.8

Christ is the provider of true riches. Do you have those unsearchable riches of Christ?