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Archive for August, 2010

Tourist Grand Canyon Fall Near Mather Point
Published: Aug 7, 2010

While taking photos of the Grand Canyon, a tourist slips and survives a 75-foot fall.

Tourist Grand Canyon fall news update. A tourist visiting the Grand Canyon slips and survives a 75 foot fall near Mather Point. The Grand Canyon is a large place, but the tourist is very lucky to survive such a fall.

It was a French teen who was taking pictures at the Grand Canyon. The 18-year-old tourist was injured Thursday when he slipped and fell 75 feet below the south rim around scenic Mather Point. Park rangers spotted the conscious man and rescued him.

The unidentified tourist was airlifted out of the canyon and transported to Flagstaff Medical Center. He’s being treated for a variety of non-life threatening injuries. A park service spokesman says the incident is a good reminder for tourists to stay on paved trails while visiting the area.

Grand Canyon Park officials say the man is stabilized. Information about the French teen has not been released. However, he was treated for wrist, ankle and neck injuries.   (web-based published report)

If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, you realize what an amazing sight and experience it can be.    At first, your first reaction is “no way”.    How is anything that deep, wide, and amazing?     Upon staring into it further over time, you begin to be taken in.  The air is still, and there is an indescribable silence in the space before you.  The sensation is as if you are staring into a larger than life full color mural.    It can’t really be that deep.   At two different particularly deep spots, my son Alec wanted to throw large rocks over the side and hear the sound of them hit the bottom and echo against the sides of the canyon.   In the first area he threw into, we got a sound and an echo after about 10 to 15 seconds.     In the second area, there was no audible sound for us of the rock hitting the bottom.    On more than one occasion, while being absorbed in the moment, I actually found myself getting uncomfortably close to the edge, and that’s how people get hurt. 

Heroes fall when carelessly skirting the canyon ledge.

So where’s the application for us?   For me?   Maintain your focus.   Don’t be fooled by false horizons.     Keep your head up and looking toward God.    The depth of the canyon is awesome, and you wonder intently what it is like at the bottom.    What richness of color and mystery it presents.   Beware, the slope is slippery near the edge, and the abyss is deep.     Very few survive to recover from their falls into such depths.

Heroes fall when carelessly skirting the canyon ledge.    On more than one occasion, while being absorbed in the moment, I actually found myself getting uncomfortably close to the edge, and that’s how people get hurt.     I’m not talking about the Grand Canyon, in this instance.    I’m talking about life, fascination with the world and all it has to draw us close and captivate our minds and hearts.     God calls it sin, and it comes with a cost: spiritual, mental, emotional, and social “wrist, ankle, and neck injuries”, even potentially more severe life altering injuries, and ultimately, death.

In prior writings in this arena, I’ve briefly touched on vices.    I don’t believe I have many behaviors that would be called “vices”, per se.    That’s not to say I don’t have plenty of struggles, temptations, hurts, etc in life, but not patterns of risky or potentially damaging behavior; things that even the world brands as “sin”.         

I have had an attraction for years, probably 25 or so, to the TV show “Saturday Night Live”.    I don’t watch it often.     Sometimes funny, often times not, and always irreverent; on occasion, however, it crosses a strong line and my immediate urge is to turn it off quickly.    Slip, fall, bruise; or is the mental/spiritual injury worse?    I’ve seen some things on the show I would categorize as abhorrent that have been burned into my memory, likely never to fade away.    Some I found funny, many I did not.  My wife’s urge to turn it off usually is 30 seconds before it ever starts, basically when she sees me turn the TV to NBC at 10:28 Saturday night.   Smart woman.

Some will believe I am overstating the issue here and the potential damage from “walking close to the edge” and the related slips and falls.    Maybe I am, maybe I am not.     My point, however, is that where our mind goes often could take us farther down the path, deeper into the canyon of love for the world.      Even if you don’t fall hard off the edge of the canyon rim and hurt yourself, a slow methodical progression down into the canyon can be equally dangerous and damaging.     Fatigue, dehydration, blisters, turned ankles, snake bites, lack of food.     Ultimately, if you choose to turn around and go back up, you have a significant amount of work ahead of you: an uphill climb, facing some of the same challenges and risks, or more, that you encountered on the way down.

Some might choose to stay deep within the canyon, forever probing its depth and apparent beauty.    In the blogging and social media world, people share at different levels, each making a statement of some weight and each sharing varying levels of depth in their life.     I had a friend from high school that sought me out via Facebook a year or so ago, and I occasionally see updates from this person, although they are few and far between.    Very recently, this person’s status on the “news feed” said they had changed their religious view.     Interested, I immediately went to their wall to see the difference, excited by the potential.      The religious view listed was “hedonism”; living a life of pleasure.      Solomon pursued such a path for a portion of his life, and ultimately had much to say about it.      This topic is worthy of its own separate future discussion, now that it’s been introduced.

Back to the analogy of this post:  physically, canyons are stark, barren, and unforgiving places.      Exposure to harsh elements, predators, absence from food and water, absence from shelter and the security of being around others.    Spiritual canyons can be the same: exposure to harsh elements, predators, etc, …and absence from and a great distance back to, God, who was and is and is to come.     He is the creator of the beauty we see in the Grand Canyon, the painter of the mural, if you will.    He also created all that surrounds the canvas of our life; the colors we paint with and the mediums we choose to work in.    But we are free moral agents, just like Adam and Eve, and sometimes our decisions hurt us, even injuring to the point of death.

So, closing with the hero analogy.    Let’s all be heroes to those around us.    Let’s enjoy the beauty, mystery, and majesty life has to offer.    But let’s be leaders, to our friends, our family, and others.     Let’s stay a safe distance from the canyon ledge, avoiding some places altogether, and keep those we are leading safely out of harm’s way.    Let’s be heroes; heroes who prevail without a great fall.

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Who is this King of Glory
That pursues me with his love
And haunts me with each hearing
Of His softly spoken words

My conscience a reminder
Of forgiveness that I need
Who is this King of Glory
Who offers it to me

Who is this King of angels
O blessed Prince of Peace
Revealing things of Heaven
And all its mysteries

My spirit?s ever longing
For His grace in which to stand
Who is this King of glory
Son of God and son of man

His name is Jesus
Precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty
The King of my heart
The King of Glory

Who is this King of Glory
With strength and majesty
And wisdom beyond measure
The gracious King of kings

The Lord of Earth and Heaven
The Creator of all things
He is this King of Glory
He’s everything to me

His name is Jesus
Precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty
The King of my heart
The King of Glory

The Lord of Earth and Heaven
The Creator of all things
He is the King of Glory
He’s everything to me

His name is Jesus
Precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty
The King of my heart
The King of Glory

His name is Jesus
Precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty
The King of my heart
The King of Glory

The Lord Almighty
The King of my heart
The King of Glory, Glory

The King of my heart
The King of my heart
The King of Glory

His name is Jesus

The King of Glory
The King of Glory, Glory

The King of my heart
The King of Glory

His name is Jesus
The Lord Almighty
The King of Glory

Third Day. No commentary needed. Amen.

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A follow-up and tie in of the past two posts is in order.   Kudos to Wikipedia for the multi faceted definitions interspersed below…

Moral hazard occurs when a party insulated from risk behaves differently than it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk.   Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions.   For example, Bo and Luke Duke driving was a true case of moral hazard: every time they (or, more appropriately, the stuntmen) took a flying leap in the General Lee, they knew the show’s producers would have an undamaged carbon copy of that orange Dodge Charger sitting there ready to drive away in the following scene, no matter how badly the jump vehicle was damaged or destroyed to the viewing pleasure of the CBS audience.

More broadly, moral hazard occurs when the party with more information about its actions or intentions has a tendency or incentive to behave inappropriately from the perspective of the party with less information.  For example, the aforementioned Mr. Jeffrey Skilling, CFO of one Enron Corporation.   Not only did he create, craft, and conjure the multi faceted accounting fallacies that brought both riches and ruin to Enron, it also cost countless employees their livelihood and investors large sums of money, not to mention those who were impacted by the reckless tinkering with the energy markets.

Moral hazard also arises in a principal-agent problem, where one party, called an agent, acts on behalf of another party, called the principal. The agent usually has more information about his or her actions or intentions than the principal does, because the principal usually cannot completely monitor the agent. The agent may have an incentive to act inappropriately (from the viewpoint of the principal) if the interests of the agent and the principal are not aligned.    The relationship between God and Jonah and the situation in Nineveh falls within this “principal-agent problem” definition, don’t you think?    The agent, Jonah, had more information about his actions and intentions, but he neglected to accept that God knows all.    Likewise, the interests of the agent and principal were not aligned: why else would Jonah sit under the plant and eagerly await the destruction of Nineveh, angry when it did not come to pass?    But God had other plans.

It has long been recognized that a problem of moral hazard may arise when individuals engage in risk sharing under conditions such that their privately taken actions affect the probability distribution of the outcome.     King Solomon is a great example of this scenario.     Widely accepted as potentially the wisest man to have ever lived, Solomon engaged in an escalating pattern of ever riskier behavior, contrary to the advice and counsel of God, the One Who blessed Solomon with such wisdom to begin with.  

1 Kings 11 (Solomon’s Wives)

 1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 

 9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.

So what happened in these cases?    How did the falls occur?       Simple: the motivations were wrong, or they changed over time.     Pride.      Lack of focus.    Focus on a false horizon.     And fall they did.       

Jeffrey Skilling was focused on money, and overcome by greed, to the detriment of what had made him a success, that is his skill, experience, and acumen in financial planning and business.       Jonah was focused on his on wishes, his fear of the Ninevites, and his pride, to the detriment of what made him noteworthy, that is his relationship and standing as a prophet of God.     Solomon was enamored by women.      He could not have enough, and wanted almost every one he encountered.     That had to make for one contentious palace.    No wonder he built so many.    He had to keep these women separated so they could not gang up on him.

So where’s the application for us?   For me?     The other Jeffrey in this story, not Mr. Skilling, but Mr. Bingham?     Maintain your focus.   Don’t be fooled by false horizons.     Keep you head up and looking toward God.    The depth of the canyon is awesome, and you wonder intently what it is like at the bottom.    What richness of color and mystery it presents.   Beware, the slope is slippery near the edge, and the abyss is deep.     Very few survive to recover from their falls into such depths.

Heroes fall when carelessly skirting the canyon ledge.     More on that thought later.

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But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord…

Ever see those Southwest Airlines commercials? Someone does something really stupid or embarrassing, and suddenly the world is staring at them. Then you here the trademark “ding” that signifies that it’s time to fasten the seatbelt, because the plane’s about to leave.

We talked about Jonah in Bible class on Sunday a few weeks back. What a mystery this guy was.

Jonah wanted to get away, but he didn’t have a “Friends Fly Free” pass, so he took a boat, and missed the boat, all at the same time. Then the real turbulence started. You see, there was this storm…

 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

How many of the storms in our life are all our fault? How many times do we try to run away from them, and as they get worse, we “go below” and try to sleep thru them, as if they might just go away.

After playing the lead role in a big fish’s three day bout with indigestion, you think maybe Jonah has learned his lesson. “Ding”. Nope. Wanna get away?

Jonah 4: (Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Mercy): This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”   The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Suffice to say, the LORD did not destroy Ninevah, and Jonah learned a painful object lesson in redemption, forgiveness, and God’s mercy. Remember that next time you mess up, or someone else messes up as it relates to you.

You probably won’t hear the “Ding”….

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I’ve been reading a lot of stuff lately about the credit crisis, financial engineering, “shenanigans”, and the like, and the phrase “Moral Hazard” is often referenced. While all of the current literature is dealing with the current crisis (although a recent article suggested that we have a Wall Street “crisis” every 5 to 7 years), it made me think of one most recent past crisis’ and the rise and fall of Enron. Pushing the economy to take big, risky, jumps, most of them ending in “horrific crashes” where the vehicle is totally destroyed.

“The Dukes of Hazzard”, the cheesy bad movie from recent years with Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg, was on TV recently. I’ve never watched it, nor do I really plan to. This is a bad remake of a fairly weak concept for story, but as a kid I found the original TV series entertaining. Pushing their car to take big, risky, jumps, most of them ending in “horrific crashes” where the vehicle is totally destroyed.

Kenneth Lay (rip) and Jeffrey Skilling, meet Bo and Luke Duke.

Just two good ole boys,
Never meaning no harm.
Beats all you never saw,
been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born.

Straightenin’ the curves,
Flattenin’ the hills.
Someday the mountain might get ’em but the law never will.
Makin’ their wayyyyyy, the only way they know how.
Well, that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.

Just two good ole boys,
Wouldn’t change if they could.
Fightin’ the system like two modern day Robin Hoods.

Fiction meets real life? Kind of sounds like a bad TV series/movie, huh? What goes around comes around. Let’s just hope it’s more than 7 years before another dangerous jump leaves us watching Enron type news or another Duke type movie.

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It’s move in day at OC for Hannah Vaughn. After much anticipation, the day has finally arrived.

We spent last evening doing the expected, and a little of the unexpected. Mom fixed a special meal with a special dessert, all Gluten Free, of course. Hank and I then went out alone together to do a few final things to her car: a vacuum and wash, buying a few small fix it items from the auto parts store, and as she dubbed it “buying her one last fill up” before she left.

When we returned home, after the final work was done on her car, it was time to begin the packing of Mom’s SUV effort. As her brother and I reluctantly went about this task, he more reluctant than I, Hank and Mom sat down on the couch for one last read of “Miss Suzy”. This is one of the many, and I do mean many, childhood classics that fill a cabinet in our house. Sherry has always been great to read to the kids for hours when they were very young, and she still does today, when they will allow it. Miss Suzy, (“Miss Tuzzy”, from days gone by) however, is extra special. This copy of the book was Sherry’s, and was read to her at a young age by her mother and grandmother. If the Lord is willing and Gary England’s blood pressure does not rise (due to a pending tornado on Middleberry Road), I hope and plan to see these books being read to grandkids one day, especially Miss Suzy. “I love to clean, I love to bake, I think I’ll bake an acorn cake….”.

As written in this space in earlier times, the Bingham house is a “Chick Flick” venue deluxe. As Hannah was preparing to spend “the last night at home”, spending the last night in her room sharing time with little sis, they planned to watch a movie together. As fate would have it, the venue was moved to the living room, and all five of us stretched out together for another viewing of “You’ve Got Mail”. Seeing as how we’ve watched it probably a hundred times, I am not sure anyone was still awake at 12:15 when the credits rolled, myself included.

This is always a fun story to watch. A story of redemption, as discussed in this space before, but also a story of discovery. At the beginning last night, each of us commented on how we were looking for small details that we’d failed to notice before. Mine was the opening “walk thru Manhattan” tune that is such a familiar part of the movie. Only, this time, I listened to the words a little more closely. Seems like a good way to close this particular post, and give a happy send off to Hannah on this big day. Yes, we all acknowledge that it’s only across the street, but it is a life changing moment. Things will not be the same after 7:30 am today.

Hannah, as you begin your own “Journey of a Million Miles”, around the corner and around the world, these words seem to be an appropriate send off. We love you.

Oh, my life is changing everyday,
In every possible way.
And oh, my dreams, it’s never quiet as it seems,
Never quiet as it seems.
I know I’ve felt like this before, but now I’m feeling it even more,
Because it came from you.
And then I open up and see the person falling here is me,
A different way to be

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What’s my sign? Great question. In high school, a friend and classmate, a girl, informed me that “I was a Pices”. What does that mean? I have no idea, nor do I care. All I remember is her saying that two Pices could never date because they were too much alike and would explode, combust, or something. Whatever. Lame excuse, right? Yes, you guessed it: she, too, was a Pices!

Tonight was the final Wonder of Worship class at the Memorial Road church for the summer. As has become a tradition, tonight was “Cardboard Testimonies”. As the class sang tonight, people slowly
approached the stage, showed a side to their cardboard sign
reflecting the pain, problems, and sins of the past, and the flip side
of the sign showing what life in Jesus has done for them and how
their life has changed.

So, what’s my sign? Here goes. Control. Anger.
Resentment. Fatigue. Mistrust. Depression.

And side two? Rested. At peace. Greatful. Challenged to give
back and to make a difference. Forgiven.

We tend to be hesitant to talk about our signs and to hold them
high. And yet, people can read most of the dark side of the sign,
anyway, even if they are held low or are hidden away.

Hold your sign up high, proudly, and give thanks to the Father, the
God of all comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-4)

Hello, my name is Jeff, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.
I struggle with control, anger, and fatigue, but I am a child of the
God of all comfort.

God loves me, even if I am a Pices…

WOW

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