Framulator Instructions

With a nasty cold to comfort me on Christmas Eve, I made sure to hug as many people as I could who were crazily flying around the malls and shopping places on last-minute shopping binges here in Lexington.  Of course, I didn’t leave out all our friends in our church, and shook as many hands as I could after each sneeze!  ‘Tis the season for giving!

With my head feeling like it was in a vice all day Christmas Day, we attended a church service . . . Hey, Whose birthday are we celebrating, anyway!?  Again with the hugging and hand=shaking, and I ate some of my wife’s delightful porridge to help me endure the affliction of my cold, and went to bed.

So instead of my intended diatribe about all that we get wrong in Christmas celebrations, let me pass along Ned Crabb’s amazing find in 2007. For my ESL readers, you may want to skip this blog, or at least recognize you will never be quizzed on any of these words!
And Merry Christmas to all . . .

Twas the Day After Christmas

December 26, 2007

The following instructions, coffee-stained and torn, were found in a box amid a jumble of tools and mechanical parts on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan apartment building along with discarded trees and other holiday trash. Just visible inside the box was a gift tag that read “Merry Christmas to Johnny. Love, Mom and Dad.”

Congratulations! You are the lucky owner of the Model ZVZ156 Vangplotz High-Digenation Wide-Scringe Framulator, Series 7000, with fernillated quick-response Worzel and 20,000 zurlebytes of scringe-view quorms. Follow these simple instructions and soon you will enjoy untold hours of pleasure.

IMPORTANT: Begin by lifting out the plune-wrapped section marked “Lithinode Distrillitor” and refer to the blue-colored picrochit-regulator intensity chart on the side. If the chart has the fuchsia-colored code BRZ3434, your unit requires an AC4(x2z3) power influrger. Extract the influrger pack from the distrillitor’s surge-protection splange and check the code. If you have an AC5(x3z4) influrger instead of an AC4(x2z3) model, or if the intensity chart is colored burnt orange instead of blue, then call your local Vangplotz “Speedy Geek” home service provider at 1-800-UONHOLD.

WARNING: If the intensity chart is colored silver with pink stripes, then your distrillitor must be activated in person by a Vangplotz lithinode technician within 48 to 72 hours. Vangplotz service centers are conveniently located in the Yellow Dog, Ala., industrial campus and the six-story Grendel Mall-City in Frozen Badger, N.D.

Next, lift out the tray marked “Tools” and check the inclusions against the following list:
One 7¾-inch extenulator
Two packages of ¾-inch fribbets
Four packages of 1½-inch fribbets
One six-jointed revolving spangler
One Spurgel-head grommel
Six fandles
One swigel-headed flonge
One multi-pronged grallup
One soft-COR elasticized squiller

Unpack the main components: Scringe, MO-DOR qualblanz scrambler, disk-o-later insertion whindler, zagenator, gridger board, Wooflang biceptor, varnicle inhibitor, Worzel.

Remove plune-wrapping from the scringe. Using the 7¾-inch extenulator, calibrate the number of inches spanning the scringe-gripper aperture on the MO-DOR scrambler. The ZVZ156 scringe must have a 14-inch aperture to successfully interflex with the MO-DOR picrochits. If the aperture exceeds 14 inches, insert and turn the soft-COR elasticized squiller. Upon completion proceed to:

First, insert the lithinode distrillitor pack into the scringe under the panel marked Varnicle Reflexelator Chamber. A flinged graffler at the bottom of the chamber will connect the distrillitor to the varnicle. Next, lower the scringe into the MO-DOR scringe-gripper aperture using the swigel-headed flonge to secure it onto the varnicle nodes, which conduct 20-zilihurtz magnifiers to the varnicles. Use the multipronged grallup to secure the pink wooplers to the orange varnicle nodes and the four triple-pronged green wires to the varnicle inhibitor.

WARNING: Even one woopler-varnicle node misconnection will cause xurls to disrupt the scringe-view quorms once the framulator is plugged in.

On the gridger board, align the zagenator, whindler and biceptor units 2.725 inches apart, calibrating the distance with the extenulator. Place the gridger board on top of the units and secure with 1½-inch fribbets using the revolving spangler. Stabilize the units by installing fandles using 1½-inch fribbets.

Go carefully; this is a narrow space: Attach the Spurgel-head grommel onto the wronchle prong of the multi-pronged grallup and position it directly over a fribbet.

Next, extend the revolving spangler to the fourth joint, attach the bludgger head and release the sping-grip. With your left hand, carefully lower the spangler and clamp the sping-grip around the grommel handle while turning the spangler speed valve to “rapid” with your right, and pressing the oscillator button with your other hand.


Unfortunately, Ned never found the the remaining instructions, but if you’ve put this much together, you can probably figure out the rest on your own.

. . . and to all a good night.

How to Show Your Kids (and everyone else) Grace This Christmas

Well, another trip to ER at the university hospital and I forgot to post this blog yesterday.  Symptoms more like a heart attack than a stroke left me feeling weak and useless, but Father IS STILL GOOD! . . . all the time.  I’ll probably be home in a couple hours and tomorrow get back to the work I was doing when the light-headedness, weakness and chest pains started, and post this blog a day late.

In the meantime, this is a guest blog by Jessica Thompson, author of Give Them Grace, which  I “borrowed” from Crossway’s blog.  Its lessons apply to more than just parents raising kids.  Extend grace to the ones who need it most this season and find His grace extending to you.  Enjoy.

You Better Be Good, for Goodness’ Sake


He’s making a list and checking it twice, he’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice.  The clarion call of Christmas is loud and clear: Be good. Get good things.  And although this message sounds year round, it is amplified during this season.  We employ the Elf on the Shelf, we employ Santa’s list, we even employ the promise of better gifts if our kids will just behave for the month of December.  I mean, is it too much to ask?  Just go to every single holiday party, eat all the sweets, stay up way past your bedtime, and please still be the nice kid we have trained you to be!

In this season, the very message we have staked our lives on gets obscured by the message of the world.  Our message is and always has been that God has given the best gift to the worst people.  Our message is not and never will be that if you are the best people, you will get the best gifts.  Our kids need good news this holiday season.  They need to know that it is not all up to them, that God’s love isn’t dependent on their performance.

Beloved, I think we parents need to hear that message too.  Emotions run high during this extra-special season.  We want to get the present just right.  We want to get recipe just right.  We must have the decorations be just right!  And we must do it all in a timely manner, while being incredibly kind to every courtesy clerk in every single store because we want to share the happiness of Christmas with everyone.

In the middle of all of the rushing and spending, we sense that our hearts have strayed.  Guilt makes an unwelcome visit as we sit in our cars full of newly purchased presents.  We recall the unkind words shouted at children when they asked for one more present.  We remember the self-righteous annoyance we felt when we told them to “be more grateful,” and we knew that our hearts were as far from grateful as one could get.  The pressure to perform is multiplied during the month of December and even when you try your best, everything ends up being a bit of a letdown.

How do we extend grace to our children this season?  You remember grace for yourself.  You remember that your ability to make this season memorable does not determine your worth before God.  You remember that the only performance that matters eternally was the performance of that little baby boy born into this broken world to take away the sins of his people.  You recall that he purchased forgiveness on the cross for every sin you will commit during the most wonderful time of the year.  You share that good news with your little ones.  You extend and receive forgiveness for all the fighting and impatience and ungratefulness.

Beloved, remember the gospel: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  His love for us is not based on whether or not we can keep it together this season.  He love for us is not based on whether or not our kids are well behaved at all the parties.  His love for us is not based on our ability to perform as the best hostess.  His love for us is firmly fixed, it has been from eternity past.  Remind yourself of that, remind your kids of that too, and rejoice in Christ for us together.

My Old New Year’s Resolution

If this seems a bit premature to be writing about New Year’s Resolutions, just read on, and it will make sense by the end.  I made a New Year’s Resolution in 1969 that I have faithfully kept since starting my freshman year of college.  My old New Year’s Resolution:  “Resolved, I will never make another New Year’s Resolution!”

As we approach the end of 2016, it is appropriate to look back on the year and see what we have accomplished . . . or not.  If you made a New Year’s Resolution last January 1, it is more likely that you broke it than not, thus my commitment of 1969.  In fact, most resolutions do not make it to January 31!  And the “ghosts” of the past year can haunt us far beyond the end of December 31 even of the next year.  As William Faukner said, “The past is never dead. In fact, it is not even past.”

We still ate that extra doughnut, looked at that sexy magazine cover too long, slept when we should have risen, and lost our tempers inconsiderately.  We need to look back and consider what we should have done differently, and if we are honest, to repent of all the self-centeredness that dominated our lives through 2016 . . . even if we did not make nor break a New Year’s Resolution.
“Time is free, but yet priceless.
     You cannot own it, but you can use it.
You cannot keep it, but you can spend it.
     Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” (
Harvey MacKay)

But the more significant direction to look is always forward.  We can only rejoice over or regret the past.  We can do nothing to change it once that train has left the station!  That is why Bruce Koenig said, I’m going to try to look more toward the future and less at the past.  Where I am going is far more important than where I’ve been.”  And this lines up with what the Bible teaches about priorities.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

This is the wonderful grace of God: that He forgets our sins and really forgives us, never to hold them against us again.  We must not presume upon God’s grace, and simply go on sinning as though it did not matter.  We must not say in our hearts, “If I sin, I do not have to worry; after all, God will forgive me.”  This takes us into dangerous ground of unrepentance and hardens our hearts so that we become unable to receive the forgiveness He offers.  But when we do sin, we have this assurance that as soon as we turn from that sin and to Him, He is more willing to forgive us than we usually are to receive His forgiveness.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
     so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
     so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
     so Yahweh shows compassion to those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame,
     that we are but dust. (Psalms 103:11-14)

So let’s talk about what lies ahead, with hope that we will be better than we were last year; that we will be more sensitive to His Spirit and more aware of His Presence at our elbows, whispering into our ears. (See August 20, 2016)
“Stand by the roads, and look,
 and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
(Jeremiah 6:16)

Someone once said, “If you plan nothing, you are sure to succeed!”  One of the problems with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are plans that reach out too far ahead, without considering the intermediate steps.  So let me suggest a plan based on The Best Way to Plan Your Day by Edward Dayton and Ted Engstrom.  No matter how old we are, it is never too late to begin!  Write down your completion of these sentences:

  1. My greatest goal in life is to . . .
  2. Five years from now, I would like to be . . .
  3. By the end of 2017, I hope to . . .
  4. The first week of 2017 I will . . .
  5. On January 1, 2017, I want to try to . . .

This will take us from daily planning to life goals that can take us far past 2017, if we live that long.  Bruce Smith said, “We cannot recover wasted time. We cannot know how time well spent would have changed us or others for time or eternity. It is sobering.” (Living Translation)

So if this seems a bit premature to be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, begin planning now what goals you will set for 2017, and begin adjusting your life style to meet those goals, by planning one day, one week, one month at a time.  And see if you may have more rejoicing and less regrets at this time next year.

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but I am not what I used to be. (John Newton)

It’s not what you do; it’s Who you know.

“I want to be as one with Him. I could not be right with God by what the Law said I must do. I was made right with God by faith in Christ. I want to know Him.”   Paul, Philippians 3:9-10

Recalling a friend in high school who began reading in Genesis, he came to a couple of us with a blush and said, “Man, all those guys in the Bible sure got to know their wives!”  In the mid-60s this was as close as we got to describing the sex act.  He was referring, of course, to such passages as Genesis 4:1 and 4:25, where “Adam knew his wife and she conceived” and bore children.  We almost considered it Biblical porn, but the point was that to “know” someone had an effect.

This was more than just recognizing Eve across the forest and realizing she was not another animal; more than just mental assent to her identity.  This “knowledge” was experiential; a “knowing” like no other, an intimate intertwining of their lives in joy and ecstasy, and a feeling of completion.  This is how Father in Heaven wants us to know Him.

From the evening conversations Adam and Eve had with God in the cool of the day, men drifted away from knowledge of the Holy One so that by the seventh generation, “people began to call on the name of Yahweh.” (Genesis 4:26)   In other words, they did not know Him anymore, and had to seek Him.  They had to look for ways to interact with Him, because we were withdrawn from Him.

But the recognition of the value of knowing God, more than just a theology about Him, was never completely lost.  David, many centuries later, would challenge his son, Solomon with these words, And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you . . .”  (1 Chronicles 28:9)

The prophets knew this God intimately.  For example, Isaiah spoke on God’s behalf when he said, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)   This along with many other statements by the prophets revealed a relationship much deeper than mere religious practice, much more personal than a set of liturgical instructions.

Fast forward another thousand years and Jesus declared, This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)  Note He did not say, “This is eternal life, to get a seminary degree . . .” nor “. . .to live a clean and moral life.” nor “. . .to attend a church and do missionary work.”  Now if you interact with Him, He may tell you to do some of these things, but these are the results of knowing Him, not the other way around.  We do not get to know Him by doing good things, rather we do good things because He is living in us, and we know Him.

How do we get to know Him?  The same way you get to know a husband or wife; the same way you know your sibling or parent, the same way you know your best friend.  Once the introduction is made, you spend time together; you compare interests; you share with each other what you are doing. (see August 20, 2016 and August 28, 2016

Of course, you can read about Him, look at how He behaves in certain situations and what He has done with others, but that only tells you about Him.  I highly recommend that you inform your relationship with Him by reading the Bible, but never mistake reading an ocean chart for sailing on the ocean!  Read all about Him and those who knew Him while He was physically present on Earth; read and talk with others who know Him and share together what He and all of you talk about.  Get to know Him as Paul was desiring to do.

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now you have come to know God.” (Galatians 4:8-9)

“It is one thing to understand a theology of God. It is quite another to experience God in real life.” Bruce Smith