Monday, September 30, 2013

Flash Weather: 2013-14 Winter Weather Forecast (Part 1)

This is the first installment of an ongoing series this fall concerning the winter weather season ahead. Although the meteorological elements are still coming together, there is a convergence of signals indicating this winter will be one heck of a ride...

Note: With respect to the video, I forgot to mention the difference between El Nino and La Nina when discussing the ENSO forecast for the upcoming winter. If you note the image to the left, you'll see a general map depicting the variances we see during both occurrences (ex: the northern Pacific low during an El Nino versus its high pressure counterpart in a La Nina).

Thus, the greatest opportunities for a colder winter in the southeast take place during a weak El Nino or weak La Nina, as the jet stream is allowed to buckle down further south to promote colder temperatures. If the ENSO is notably displaced from neutral territory, the jet streams tend to not engage each other, thus, keeping the moist air from merging with the colder air.

For this winter, I expect the two jet streams to collide with each other at times, with the more consistent jet stream being the pacific jet, which should supply an abundance of moisture to the Tennessee and Ohio River valleys. The wild card is how the AO/NAO cooperates, as this has a large influence on the movement and position of both jet streams.

                   Image from NEWXAction
The most ideal ENSO setup for middle Tennessee has historically been a weak El Nino, as this allows the subtropical jet stream to collide with the dip in the polar jet over the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys. As lows ride the active southern branch of the jet stream, it interacts with the cold shots coming down from Canada. The combination of polar, continental air from the north with the moist flow supplying above-average precipitation to the southeast, provides a promising setup for wintry conditions in the mid-south. If the jet stream position is compromised as a result of the Bermuda high and sneaks a ridge into the southeast, lows (like the Colorado Low) coming out of the four-corner region can take a I-44 track, leaving Tennessee in the warm sector, preventing any snow or ice to make an impact.

You can see how the storm track is dependent upon jet stream placement. If an omega block pattern can develop and establish itself off the coast of Alaska, this can likely lead to the polar jet bending further south, allowing the eastern two-thirds of the United States to receive more arctic blasts. The area of high heights in the northern Pacific is partially influenced by the region of warmer than normal sea-surface temperatures. When the jet responds to western ridging caused for the sea-surface temperature anomalies, this is known as a +PNA (Pacific-North American Index), which coincides with a colder pattern for the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast.

It's interesting to note how the American Ensembles are picking up on an imminent cool down for our part of the county later this month, which could have lasting implications as we approach winter. If this pattern continues into late fall, we may see weak-El Nino conditions last into the first month of winter, which part of the reason I expect a colder December than the past two years for the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys. Although I do not expect moderate El Nino conditions, I still believe we can have a couple weeks of merged jet stream action, which could lead to some interested winter weather for the eastern two-thirds of the nation.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Awkward Rain

Has anyone noticed when awkwardness rains, it pours?

Like that moment when you order a Chicago dog and a drink from Sonic and they happen to throw in an unordered vanilla cone...

But you're not in the mood to bring it up, let alone eat it up...

So you just accept it despite the fact you don't have the room to consume an eight-inch tower of spiraling decadence...

And you're a downtown TDOT employee, which by default, requires a seven-minute walk from parking lot to main entrance...

So you're on the clock to contain what is now a melting eight-inch tower of drooping decadence...

And as you finally make your way into the break room…

A stranger asks you if you're married...

And instead of being predictable, you emphasize the glorious fact by flashing the hand laden with bling, forgetting to utter words as you make the hastened gesture, which in turn, appears to offend the person…

But you don't really know for sure...

So you then decide to say something to the tune of "Why yes! Yes, I am", prompting a half-hearted laugh to soften the burn of inelegance...

And as the stranger exits stage left, wondering what the shrek just happened, you plop what's now a cascading stream of vanilla stew into the freezer...

But you don't want the situation to get you you tell yourself, "I'm going to be so happy right now...I'm going to make people jealous...they wish they had some of this!"…

So you wisp away with a bright smile on route to your office, giving yet another stranger coming off the elevator two very awkward thumbs up, which thoroughly confuses them to the point of a double take...
Like did that really just happen?...

And the waning moments of the workday is spent peeling brown Sonic paper and white napkins off the vanilla cone as if peeling a raw potato…

Maybe this hasn’t happened to you verbatim. But let’s get real: we’ve all been here before. We’ve all tripped on shoelaces, expelled brain farts in public speeches and prompted enough awkward starfishes to populate a large fish tank at the dentist’s office.

Yet, in spite of this fact, isn’t it refreshing to know everyone encounters embarrassment like this? Isn’t it even more refreshing that tomorrow is a new day, and we don’t necessarily have to wait until the clock strokes midnight?

For someone who commits his fair share of blunders on a daily basis, I find supernatural satisfaction knowing wisdom permits me to push the 'refresh' button at any point. Such strategy is not confined to wishful thinking; contrarily, it's a life-sustaining tactic that keeps the enemy at bay and allows God to come in, "reposture the hand" (see picture above) and ultimately realize just how amazing life is with Him...

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” ~ Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.” ~ Ecclesiastes 11:7 (NLT)

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."~ Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

So regardless of what the world says, we’re not inferior for provoking face palms. We’re not sub-par when the cheeks light up. Sometimes, we’re going get caught in a downpour with no escape route in sight. Sometimes, the bucket is going to spill what it may and there’s absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. But blessed is the man who dances in the rain, who is not intimidated by the storm. For his hope is secure and not easily swayed by inevitable clumsiness or social mishaps.

For today was meant to be faced and embraced, not shaked and baked.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fully God, Fully Human

Last week, a LEGACY youth asked me if Jesus was 100% man and 100% divine. Without hesitation, I answered: He was most certainly both, for Christ's nature can't be divided (To help drive this point home, I used an illustration of how men and women are 100% human when they are married and become 100% one flesh); however, I couldn't help but wonder if a better analogy existed as I plunged deeper into the question.

After all, the query is one of the most divisive in the 21st century church. And though many would agree in the bottom line - Christ did not forsake his divinity in the incarnation - the route to the conclusion is notably spread out among believers (see graphic below). Yet, despite the denominational divide, there is a foundational truth we can all adhere to: the duality of Christ's nature was accomplished through the laying down of His prerogative, by yielding to the same Holy Spirit we all have the privilege of yielding to on a daily basis. 

Several scriptures, especially in the Gospels, support this truth:

*For example, Jesus claimed, "before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58), alluding to Exodus 3:14. He also claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30-33). He acknowledged that he was the Christ, or Messiah (Mark 14:60-64; compare with Daniel 7:13-14). He also claimed that our eternal destinies hinged on our response to him (Luke 12:8-9).

In addition, Jesus is said to be the eternal word of God incarnate (John 1:1-3, 14). He is called the Creator and head of the church (Colossians 1:15-20). These are just a few of the passages which speak of Christ's deity or divinity.

Other passages speak of his humanity. For example, Jesus was conceived and born of a woman (Matthew 1:18-25). He thus had a human body. He experienced hunger, thirst and fatigue (Matt. 4:2; John 4:6; etc.). He suffered and died (John 19:34). He could be heard, seen and touched (1 John 1:1). He evidenced the emotional and intellectual qualities of a human being (see Matt. 26:37 and Mark 9:21).
It's also interesting to note how Jesus' favorite name was 'Son of Man', and how beautifully this reference illustrates the prophesy of Daniel 7:13-14 and Christ's distinction as being the only being who knew flesh AND omniscience.

**Note: If you read Daniel 7, you'll see that the Son of Man is a very exalted figure: not just a human figure but an exalted figure. 

If you do a study of the term "Son of Man" in the Gospels you'll see that he didn't refer to himself most often as Son of God but as Son of Man. He said things like, in Mark 10:45, "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." This is why 'Son of Man' was Jesus' favorite self-designation.
The reason he did so is because, on the face of it, Son of Man is an ordinary phrase for "human being." He was born of a man. And there's no offense there: who isn't a son of man? But those with ears to hear could hear Daniel 7, in which he was claiming a very exalted role in the history of redemption. And he meant to do it.

Although many christologies out there emphasize one aspect of Jesus' nature over the other, what's ultimately important for us to realize is how the Holy Spirit bridges the divide between prerogative and identity. With the Holy Spirit standing in the gap, we can experience the full nature of Christ in accord with the full nature of the Trinity. In other words, we, too, can lay aside our rights and entitlements and feel the empowering freedom of being tempted and resisting. We, too, can learn obedience through suffering. We, too, can take up our cross and encounter the supernatural joy that comes with daily dying to selfish ambitions, just as Jesus did. 

Note how this truth sets up 2 Timothy 1:8-14 (ESV):

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."

*From Michael Gleghorn
**From John Piper

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Parable of a Parody - "Ho Hey"

Previously, we looked at Pink’s “Try”, and discussed how trying can only take us so far - how trying should lead to doing because of our being (i.e. 3D Principle meets 3B Principle). But while we may know and believe this fact, often times, it’s the application – the real-life troubleshooting that provides our toughest challenges.

This week, we’re focusing on “Hey Ho” by the Lumineers, and as we listen to the song, note some of the repeated words and themes laced throughout the lyrics.

Upon further review, it’s no secret the Lumineers capitalize on strong emotional conditions, especially the desire to belong and be loved. And as the case with many songs streaming through the airwaves of pop culture, the Lumineers hit this popular tune in pulsating fashion.

Let’s face it: some of us don't know where we belong. We don't know what true relationship looks like. We’ve heard hundreds of sermons on what makes a good person, yet we haven’t learned how to sustain them over the course of a meaningful relationship. Perhaps this is due to the lack of role modeling, a lie we’ve chosen to believe or circumstances bottling us in loneliness. Whatever the case, there are many who are breathing, but are spiritually asleep. And some of us have wound up asleep because we placed our sense of belonging over the fact we already belong.

It’s no surprise we were made to be passionate (“All the blood that I will bleed…”). In Matthew 22:37, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” So we know a passionate God created us with a need to be wholehearted. Yet, God didn’t create passion to stand alone, but rather to be “the meat” between knowing God’s heart AND walking it out.

Without the “meat”, the line between love and passion can become blurred. Why? Because the world is saturated with the tall tale that says: We need love now (“So show me family…”). It inundates us with the idea we’re not complete until we fit in somewhere; however, when we turn to the Word, we find a polar-opposite reality.

Evidence: In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul trumpets the supremacy of love. Note the first attribute he assigns love: “Love is patient…”. Talk about an immediate contradiction to culture!

However, look at how Paul segues into this in v. 1-3: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

So why is Paul’s introduction so important? Because it testifies the truth that we were formed with love in order to love. We are not born into the world as “nothing”, waiting to become “something”. God created us with love, so everyone has an identity rooted in Him. Again, we live how we are, not the other way around.

Yes, the world says you got to blaze your own trail to find love and find it fast (sees second stanza), but what it doesn’t say is we already have love! Thus, it makes no sense to think we have to carve out our own path to what we think we want, when God already has a path for us based on what He wants for us. The fact we’re empowered by God to receive and give love back to Him, allowing us to overflow with love to others, speaks volume on the nature of God.

Application: Since we were made with love to love, it’s no wonder why sexual sin is arguably the biggest problem facing our generation. Unbridled passion to be loved and to give love can lead to big problems when one is living for the self. When we become our own gods, our hope is no longer anchored to anything. For how can hope be anchored to anything when our hope is in ourselves? When we call the shots, we give ourselves permission to lose control. We give ourselves consent to pave our trail, but which only leads to death. Why? Because we take perfect and stick the I’m in front of it (i.e. “IM-perfection).

The world is skilled in painting a deceptively enticing picture of how we feel in the immediate aftermath of giving into what we want. Yet, it completely ignores 99.9% of what we experience once that feeling is gone. It doesn’t care about your future, because it waters down the necessity of wisdom (Prov. 24:14). It doesn’t value your identity, because it claims God does not exist.

The world says, “What plan? What future?” It has no vision, nor can it give us direction.

But the truth is we do have vision; we do have direction. And the more we live, the more God wants us to provide these elements to us. In Jeremiah 17 & 29, we see the value in investing our trust in God, since He has confidence in us to accomplish His vision. So if we align our passion to His vision, we can experience the love we so desperate want the right way.

Power Up: How do you think God feels when He sees us chasing after the wrong thing to find our belonging and community? How do you feel knowing God never stops calling us, never stops seeking us to turn to Him?

God wants us to love, not because He has a love deficit, but because He wants us to experience the gain of being filled by Him to give back to others. God wants you to know that you belong to Him and He belongs to you - He is our heart

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