IBM Spectrum Accelerate – Enterprise Storage in Minutes

For years, enterprise datacenters have been dominated by traditional disk arrays, things IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker would categorize as High-end and Midrange disk. Now, I don’t have anything against this kind of storage, in fact my company makes some of the most competitive offerings in these categories. But my last two posts Introducing IBM Spectrum Storage – Inside Perspective and IBM Spectrum Scale – Built for Efficiency, Optimized for Speed have centered on the idea that a shift is being forced by the scale, performance, and cost requirements of workloads like cloud, analytic, mobile, social, and Big Data. Infrastructure shiftThe storage industry needs a new way of doing things that utilizes much lower cost common building blocks with almost unlimited increments in scalability. I’m going to stay on that theme one more time as we talk about IBM Spectrum Accelerate, software defined storage that can help you construct enterprise storage in minutes.

The kind of datacenters being built by both enterprises and the public cloud pioneers for newer workloads are filled with much lower cost common building blocks. Imagine fields of identical computers each with some internal disk capacity. Cloud management software based on OpenStack dynamically schedules workloads onto hypervisors across this field of capacity. Workloads appear, storage is allocated, virtual networks are configured, workloads are dynamically scaled and relocated for optimization, and then they disappear when all the work is complete. This environment is hostile to the relative rigidity of traditional SAN storage. And yet it depends on many of the enterprise storage capabilities that SANs have matured over the years.

The genius of IBM Spectrum Accelerate is that it takes the complete set of enterprise storage capabilities available on one of the industry’s most competitive High-end disk arrays, and enables IT managers to leverage it on common building block hardware. You see, if you were to pull back the covers on the IBM XIV storage system you would discover that the forward-thinking engineers who architected it understood the demands that these newer workloads would bring. Inside the XIV you would find common building blocks – computers with disks – and intelligent software managing them.  IBM is the first company in the industry to extract intelligence directly from its traditional storage hardware products enabling clients to use it as software.

Think about the scenario. An IT manager has created a common building block physical infrastructure for new generation workloads. No SAN, no High-end or Midrange disk arrays. Just a field of low-cost, common building block computers – some with internal disk capacity – and a hypervisor. Workloads are being deployed in virtual machines, but these workloads need enterprise storage services. So the IT manager deploys IBM Spectrum Accelerate software into virtual machines on some of those common building blocks that have internal disk capacity. What happens next is the stuff legends are made of.

IBM Spectrum Accelerate forms those common building blocks and their disks into an iSCSI storage grid. Virtual volumes are spread across all the common building blocks so that all resources are used evenly, including memory in the servers which is formed into a distributed cache. Spectrum Accelerate storage gridFor robustness, each logical partition is stored in at least two copies on separate building blocks, so that if a part of a disk drive, an entire disk drive, or an entire building block fails, the data is still available. Since all resources in the grid are evenly utilized, all resources are engaged in quickly getting the system back to redundancy following a failure. If after the initial deployment, the IT manager wants to scale capacity, Spectrum Accelerate software can be deployed in virtual machines on additional building blocks. When the new building block joins the grid, data is automatically redistributed to maintain optimal use of resources. And this software defined storage system, deployed in minutes, includes all the enterprise storage capabilities IT managers have come to expect – thin provisioning, writable snapshots, synchronous and asynchronous replication with consistency groups, and failover/fail back.

If you are an IT manager, consider the rapid flexibility and potential cost benefits of this software defined approach to constructing enterprise storage.

And join the conversation with #IBMStorage and #softwaredefined

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IBM Spectrum Scale – Built For Efficiency, Optimized For Speed

The pioneers in the cloud movement have blazed a new trail when it comes to physical infrastructure. I briefly discussed their Pets vs Cattle approach in my post Introducing IBM Spectrum Storage – Inside Perspective. These guys thought about the scale, performance, and cost requirements that would be driven by workloads like cloud, analytic, mobile, social, and Big Data, and they decided that traditional infrastructures had to change. IBM Spectrum Scale Built for efficiency Optimized for speedWe needed a new way of doing things that utilized much lower cost common building blocks with almost unlimited increments in scalability. Something built for efficiency and optimized for speed. A software defined storage layer that crafts these common storage building blocks into massively scalable and deeply capable storage systems is IBM Spectrum Scale.

To do the job, this layer of storage software must have a couple of important attributes.

  1. Software defined storage has to cobble together common building blocks into a reliable storage system that quickly delivers data to workloads over a variety of protocols. The technology behind IBM Spectrum Scale began in IBM research over 20 years ago and earned its stripes with some of the most demanding scientific, digital media, and Big Data workloads on the planet. IBM Spectrum Scale common building blocksToday, it’s the software defined storage layer behind many of the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world. With the rise of cloud, analytic, mobile, and social workloads, we have been adapting additional file and object protocols to this extreme scale and performance. IBM Spectrum Scale can now deliver data over POSIX, NFS, a Hadoop connector and the OpenStack Swift object interface with more protocols being added regularly. I’ll talk about block protocols in future posts on IBM Spectrum Virtualize and IBM Spectrum Accelerate.
  2. Software defined storage has to deliver the kind of data management and security capabilities required to keep common building block infrastructures running efficiently. Snapshots, replication and encryption have become table stakes. IT managers now look for distinguishing characteristics like sophisticated tiering policies that can take disk-based data and move it ‘up’ to Flash storage or Flash cache on the computer where the workload is running, and ‘down’ to tape and the cloud. You can find all these capabilities in IBM Spectrum Scale and that’s good, but they are capabilities that have a somewhat single-site feel to them. “My data is here on-premises – make a snapshot, encrypt it, move it to another tier”. The cloud adds a more global dimension to storage. IBM Spectrum Scale AFMIBM Spectrum Scale capitalizes on this idea buy enabling IT managers to connect Spectrum Scale instances across an enterprise or around the world to create a single inventory of data with policies that define the location and flow of files – moving the right data to the right place at the right time [Learn more here]. Importantly, because this global namespace can house something like 9 quintillion files (did I mention high scale?) for varying workloads with different data management needs, IBM Spectrum Scale enables IT managers to apply data management and security policies to individual sets of files.

As the public cloud pioneers observed, a key is the ability to utilize common building block storage hardware. I’ll give you a practical example. IBM Spectrum Scale is software defined storage available as software, appliance or cloud service. IBM Elastic Storage ServerAn example appliance is the IBM Elastic Storage Server which combines Spectrum Scale software with dense, low cost, common building block disk drawers. The Elastic Storage Server also includes IBM Spectrum Scale RAID, a software implementation of declustered RAID where RAID is done at a block level as opposed to a disk level. As disks continue to get larger, traditional RAID begins to struggle and rebuild times can be measured in hours or days. IBM Spectrum Scale RAID measures rebuild times in minutes. Think about the implications for IT managers – a massively scalable and deeply capable storage system without a SAN or RAID controller, just software defined storage and a pile of dense JBOD drawers.  There is indeed a big shift taking place in the storage market.

Join the conversation with #IBMStorage and #softwaredefined.

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Introducing IBM Spectrum Storage – Inside Perspective

Blank Direction GuideEvery once in a long while there are discoveries that, well, change everything. Stuff like discovering the earth isn’t flat, it’s round. People talked about that possibility for centuries but it wasn’t until a Ferdinand Magellan expedition stepped out and circumnavigated the globe that everything changed. In some ways, today’s announcement of IBM® Spectrum Storage™  has done the same thing for the idea of software defined storage.

A good deal of the change we are experiencing in IT can be traced back to the advent of cloud computing. The pioneers in the cloud movement were public cloud providers like Amazon, RackSpace and SoftLayer. When compared to traditional IT infrastructures used by most private enterprises, these guys approached infrastructure in a completely new way. Microsoft engineer William Baker is credited for famously describing these two differing approaches as Pets vs Cattle. The analogy goes something like this:

In a traditional infrastructure, you think of machines as pets. You give them names and care for their well-being. When they get ill, you nurse them back to health. In a cloud infrastructure, you think of your machines as cattle. You give them numbers because they are all identical, and when one gets ill, you shoot it and get another cow.

The observation public cloud providers made was that cloud infrastructures should use cattle.

 

BOOM!  

 

 

From that point, the industry transition was on. Common building block hardware was on the rise. The ideas of availability and recovery, of scale and performance were being built into software rather than depending on a more expensive physical infrastructure to provide it.  Newer workloads for mobile, social, analytics and Big Data were being built with an expectation of software defined cattle infrastructure. For IT managers, it represented a big move that was going to take some re-thinking. For vendors like IBM who clients trust to help them through transitions like this, it represented an opportunity to focus.

compass 2014In 2014, you may have noticed a number of really bold moves IBM made that were all, in some way, tied to this transition. IBM’s System x server division joined Lenovo accelerating their journey toward becoming the #1 provider of x86 building block hardware. The OpenPOWER Foundation was established making IBM’s POWER microprocessor architecture and software available to open development. This is helping the industry build advanced server, networking, storage and graphics technology aimed at delivering more choice, control and flexibility to developers of next-generation cloud data centers. And GLOBALFOUNDRIES announced their intention to acquire IBM’s commercial semiconductor technology business allowing IBM to better focus on fundamental semiconductor research and the development of systems that will be used with the new cloud workloads. Innovation AheadCoupled with these moves, IBM has directed its considerable innovation in areas of client value where we excel, one of those being Software Defined Storage.

The industry has been talking about the idea of software defined storage for a while. For that matter, I’ve been talking about software defined storage for a while. But compared to today, this was all sort of like people talking about the world being round. Analysts proposed concepts, some vendors marketed their visions, there were even a few fairly successful point products…until today. Today, somebody stepped out and actually delivered the first comprehensive family of software defined storage offerings that can centrally manage yottabytes of data on more than 300 different storage devices – whether SAN and NAS “pet” infrastructure or common building block “cattle” infrastructure…  and everything changed.

The leaderAlready recognized as the #1 provider of software defined storage platforms, IBM’s introduction of IBM Spectrum Storage incorporates more than 700 patents and is backed by plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years toward propelling the use of software defined storage in any form – as software, appliance or cloud service. In coming weeks, I’ll be highlighting the members of the IBM Spectrum Storage software defined family.

Join the conversation with #IBMStorage and #softwaredefined.

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Adventures

Just over 20 years ago I received one of the three greatest gifts of my life – the other two being salvation and my sweet wife. For those of you who are fathers, especially fathers of a beautiful little girl, you know the feeling I had back in 1994 when I held my daughter for the first time. Indescribable.  You hold in your hands a life that has been uniquely created   for a specific purpose and it’s your job to help shape her for whatever lies ahead.

One of the character traits I determined I wanted her to have was the confidence to try new things, to explore, to reach, to go on adventures. It’s okay to figure out you don’t like something, but don’t be timid about trying. So, from early in her life I would take her on adventures – encourage her to try.

Climb high!

Climb highExplore a cave!

Explore a caveStand on the edge of the world!

Stand on the edge of the worldFly in a hot air balloon!

Fly in a hot air baloonVenture out into nature!

Venture out into natureLearn to ski!

Learn to skiBecome an expert!!

Ski blackMaster the mountain!!!

Ski double blackBe the gondolier on a Venetian gondola!

Be a gondolierExplore under the sea!

Explore under the seaDance with a dolphin!

Dance with a dolfinWhen she reached college a couple years ago I told her my job was done. She had developed a quiet confidence to explore. From here on out the adventures were up to her. Little did I know that after she had endured a lifetime of me pushing her beyond her comfort zone, she would be looking for a little payback. But that’s exactly what happened.

Last week while on an end-of-summer family vacation, my daughter said to me “hey daddy, look at that sketchy little plane over there… “

Skydive Kauai 1Then she said “Let’s go on an adventure!” The next thing I know I’m standing with her all strapped up to not only get in that crazy plane, but to jump out of it at 10,000 feet. That’s right, the ‘adventure’ she chose was skydiving. Good grief!

Skydive Kauai 2So we get to altitude, the door flings open, and there goes my daughter.

Skydive Kauai 3Now I’m thinking, “I’ve drug her on all kinds of adventures for most of her life, what kind of a dad would I be if I chickened out?” So the next thing you know I’m out the door after her!

GOPR8995The expert folks at Skydive Kauai brought us both down safely. The pictures I saw shortly after returning to earth confirmed that my daughter has indeed developed a genuine passion for reaching, for exploring, for going on adventures. In her face was pure joy!!

Skydive Kauai 5Skydive Kauai 6Skydive Kauai 7Skydive Kauai 9Skydive Kauai 10Skydive Kauai 11Way to go baby girl! Never stop going on adventures!!!

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The Pulse of the Cloud

baseball player hittingThose of us who live in the northern hemisphere generally love this time of year. We are on the downhill side of winter and about a month from the beginning of spring. Many of my friends here in the United States are already swinging baseball bats (or at least watching their children swing baseball bats). And at IBM, the smell of Pulse is in the air. Next week in Las Vegas, thousands of our valued clients and trusted partners will engage in a bold discussion on Cloud.

For those who are attending the Pulse Open Cloud Summit on Sunday February 23, or the main Pulse sessions beginning Monday February 24, one speaker of particular interest should be Jamie Thomas, General Manager, IBM Software Defined Systems. Take a moment to follow her on Twitter.

IBM CloudI was able to get advance copies of both Jamie’s main tent keynote Monday morning at 10am (session KEY-2550A) and her Cloud & Software Defined Environments (SDE) track kickoff Monday afternoon at 1pm (session CET-1463A). Jamie is a bold thinker and you should expect to walk away with good perspective on Cloud and SDE.

Jamie’s keynote centers on how cloud is changing the way work gets done. The lines between business leaders, developers and IT operations are blurring as they work in concert to compose new business models in a dynamic cloud. You’ll want to pay special attention as Jamie will be making some big announcements around IBM’s open community participation and a new composable environment to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications.

IBM SDE Open CommunitiesThe track kickoff lays the groundwork for a thorough week of Cloud and SDE sessions. Jamie will explain the business and technology dynamics that are pushing IT toward a new generation of infrastructure and she’ll give you a rich glimpse into how IBM is working in an open community context to make that infrastructure a reality. Some themes to watch for will be:

  • application aware – a great benefit of clouds and SDE is that they know something about the applications they are servicing
  • automation – SDE is automation for cloud
  • resource smart – you need to make the most effective use of you chosen hardware
  • openness – open source and open standards accelerate innovation and enable flexibility

Whether you are an IT decision maker, an architect, or a practitioner simply interested in the kinds of skills you’ll soon need to master, this session will help you organize your thinking.

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Prophecy Fulfilled

This is a follow-up to the post on My Story. For context, it’s worth a few minutes to read the original post. For those who are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

The Jewish Bible, what more or less corresponds to what most non-Jews call the Old Testament, was written over a 1500-year period and contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C.

Another two hundred and fifty years later in the person of Jesus Christ, every one of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah was fulfilled. And these aren’t just things that He could have read and mimicked. Most were beyond the control of a normal man. The New Testament records the fulfillment.

prophecy fulfilledHe was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.

Prophecy:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Fulfillment:
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

Prophecy
Speaking to Abraham; “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18
Fulfillment:
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Matthew 1.1
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ’and to seeds’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘and to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

Prophecy:
But as for you Bethlehem…From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2
Fulfillment:
“…Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea…” Matthew 2:1 also John 7:42 and Luke 2:4-7

He came because we have a problem.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.

Jesus was killed by means of Roman crucifixion, a method of execution that did not come into practice in the Jewish system for hundreds of years after the prophecies were written. Crucifixion involved hanging a person on a cross by hammering blunt spikes through the victims’ hands and feet. The legs were often broken to make it impossible for the victim to rise up and take a breath.

Prophecy:
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by his scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Fulfillment:
“Then he released Barabbas for them; but Jesus he scourged and delivered over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

Prophecy:
“…they pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:16 also Zechariah 12:10
Fulfillment:
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

Prophecy:
“…Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors,…” Isaiah 53:12
Fulfillment:
“At that time, two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.” Matthew 27:38 also Mark 15:27, 28

Prophecy:
“He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken” Psalm 34:20
Fulfillment:
“…but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” John 19:33

And darkness fell over the land.

Prophecy:
“And it will come about in that day, declares the Lord God, that I shall make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.” Amos 8:9
Fulfillment:
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45
Note: because the Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset, it would make the sixth hour near noon and the ninth hour about three o’clock.

And He was buried.

Prophecy:
“His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, yet with a rich man in His death.” Isaiah 53:9
Fulfillment:
“…there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph,…and asked for the body of Jesus…And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb…” Matthew 27:57-60

But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again. See:

Matthew 12:38-40, 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32, 27:63
Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:10, 9:31, 14:28 and 58, 10:32
Luke 9:22-27
John 2:19-22, 12:34

And He did!

Fulfillment:
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.
To Mary Magdalene, John 20:14, Mark 16:9
To women returning from the tomb, Matthew 28:9-10
To Peter, later in the day, Luke 24:34, I Corinthians 15:5
To the Emmaus disciples, Luke 24:13-33
To the apostles, Thomas absent, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24
To the apostles, Thomas present, John 20:26-29
To the seven by the Lake of Tiberius, John 21:1-23
To a multitude of 500 plus believers on a Galilean mountain, I Corinthians 15:6
To James, I Corinthians 15:7
To the eleven, Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-20, Luke 24:33-52, Acts 1:3-12
At the ascension, Acts 1:3-12

Posted in Personal thoughts | 2 Comments

My Story

I’ve been blogging for a while and from time to time I hear from folks who want to know more about my background. So, for those who are drawn to the personal side of blogging, here’s my story. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I expect you’ll find it worth your time.

popup1I grew up in a typical American family – mom, dad, brother, sister and a dog. I even had some fish for a while. My family was close. My brother and I shared a bedroom and would routinely laugh with each other into the night, at least until we heard our dad say something like, “Boys, don’t make me come up there.” We had a pop-up camper trailer and every summer we would go on long family trips. I guess that was one of the things that made us so close because when you cram a family of 5 into a small trailer, you tend to get to know each other better. My dad was fortunate enough to have a good job that allowed my mom to stay at home and, well, be a mom. She had a college degree in home economics and was doing what she had always intended to do.

One fall, though, our world changed. My mom went to the hospital with abdominal pain. The doctors thought it was appendicitis. However, when they went in to take out her appendix, instead of a bad appendix, they found inoperable liver cancer. They closed her up and told my dad that she had six months to live.

NJHSI only remember bits and pieces from those six months. My mom missed me being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, but I went to the hospital to show her the new suit I had gotten for the occasion. When she came home from the hospital, her friends from a supper club that my parents had been a part of for years threw her a party. Her back would hurt so bad that she would sleep curled up in front of a small space heater in her bathroom. One night, we were all sitting together in our den watching TV. My mom wanted to watch some TVshow – I don’t even remember what it was – but I didn’t want to see it. So I pitched a fit and went up to my room to do something else. That memory haunts me to this day because my mom fell into a coma the next week. What wouldn’t I give to have another opportunity to watch that no-name show? The doctors had given her six months. They were right. She was 38 years old.

Those events have colored a lot of the things I now think and do. When I got married, I realized that I had transitioned to being more than just a loved sibling and child; I was now someone that my wife was depending on being there for her. I became keenly aware of my health. In my early 30’s, when most of my peers still viewed themselves as young and invincible, I started going to an internal medicine doctor for routine checkups – EKG’s, chest X-ray’s, blood work, etc. – so that I would have a good baseline for any future health problems. I exercise regularly – mostly running and cycling. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, eat lots of fatty foods or red meat, or take in much caffeine. I do drink lots of water, take vitamins and eat a good deal of poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.

Then I became a father. Again, colored by the loss of my mom, I did something a little out of the ordinary. You see, when my mom died, I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate all Video letters smallthe things that must have been going through her mind. Now that I am older and more mature, I have often wondered what she thought of me as I was growing up. What made her proud? What were her happiest moments? Why did she cry? What did she hope for me? What did she wish she could have told me during her last six months? When I found out that I was going to be a dad, I started a video letter to my child – telling her all of my joys and fears, my dreams, the things that make me proud, the things that I hope for her, and most of all, that I love her.  She’s in college at Texas A&M University now, but I still continue that letter every time I get a chance.

Another thing I did was to prioritize my life. You see, I have found that with the demands of work, I have a real tendency to get sucked in to the urgent and lose focus of the important. To help me guard against that big sucking sound, I wrote the following on a small slip of paper many years ago and hung it in my office.

In my life, my priorities are

  1. my God
  2. my family
  3. my health
  4. my job

The first three I can’t replace and I can’t live without.
Conflicts will be resolved in priority order.

Those words have caused me to miss job opportunities and even to resign what many would consider the perfect job. But the priorities have stayed intact.

I hold my wife’s hand every time we pray together – and we do that every day. I have sung to my daughter almost every night that we have been in the same place since she was born, even now when she’s home from college. I tell them both that I love them – routinely.

Cath labThen, on December 21, 2001, my world changed again. I woke up that Friday morning to chest pains. I was having a heart attack.  For the next several hours, doctors and nurses aggressively tried to determine the cause but were not successful. As they rolled me up the hall to the Cardiac Cath Lab, all kinds of thoughts were flying through my head. What were the last words I said to my wife? Did I tell her I love her? Does she know it? Will my daughter be okay growing up without her daddy? Please let her find those video letters. Does my wife know where to find information on our insurance and investments? Will she be okay? God take care of them. Oh God, please let me come back down this hall!

I was blessed. I did come back down that hall. What they found was that all the preparation and attention I had paid to my health had paid off. My blood chemistry was perfect and my arteries were clean as a whistle. Some may say that this just goes to prove that it really doesn’t matter what you do. The view of those I have talked to, though, is that the preparation and attention may well have allowed me to survive and also to emerge with so little lasting damage. Interesting side note – like my mother, I was 38 years old.

The doctors still don’t know what caused me to have a heart attack. Cardiac enzyme tests showed definitively that I had a heart attack. Speculation is that I had a transient blood clot or a coronary arterial spasm. But I have been left with one inescapable reminder of two realities in life.

First, we must take care of today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
The questions that flew through my mind as I went “up the hall” told me that, even with a life experience that has caused me to pay special attention to the little things, I had left things undone. I sing to my daughter every night – true. But at the time I had started cutting her short so I could get back to something else – a computer game or a movie on TV. Each night when I go to bed I kiss my wife but I had been just grabbing her hand and kissing it instead of taking the time to hold her in my arms and do it right. Just two examples, but you get the picture.

Nike-Just-Do-it-Logo-Wallpaper-WideIf you are reading this and you have things that need to be taken care of, take the advice of Nike – “Just do it!” If you need to ask someone for forgiveness, do it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to tell someone that you love him or her, do it. Been a long time since you spoke to a parent, told a child how wonderful they are, told your spouse you adore her, do it – intentionally – routinely. Been spending too much time at work, go home. Don’t wait until you go “up the hall” to take care of today.

Second, we must take care of eternity because we may be entering it at any time.
One thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. Let me tell you why.

Light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnelThroughout history, there have been a great number of gifted teachers and religious leaders. Moses, Paul, Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, etc. Only one of the recognized religious leaders ever claimed to be God. His name is Jesus. The fact that Jesus claimed to be one with God leaves Him in a position with no middle ground. If He is not God, then one of two things are true. Either He was an outright liar or He was a nut case. Either way, He certainly is not to be trusted, much less worshiped. If, on the other hand, His claims are true, then you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him?

C.S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once was an agnostic, wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and poached_eggsaid the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

AD-BCI suppose that some people view Jesus as a mythical character in some religious book. But that’s not it at all. Have you ever stopped to think what B.C. stands for? The world records its time based on one constant. Things that happened before Christ (B.C.) and things that happened after Him (A.D.; anno Domini, Medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord”). Jesus Christ did live on this earth. He is the “Christ” in B.C. and the “Lord” in anno Domini. The question is, “Who was He?”

The Bible is broken up into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C. It contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The New Testament was not begun until after Jesus. It tells the most important story in history.

He was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

He came because we have a problem.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

And darkness fell over the land.
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45

And He was buried.
But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again.

And He did!
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.

That’s the story. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, were written with a primary purpose in mind.
“But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”; and more important, “that believing you might have life in His name” John 20:31

Jesus crossroadJesus Christ did live on this earth. That question still remains though, “Who was He?” Either His claims were false making Him an outright liar or a nut case. Or, His claims are true, and you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him? As one who has recently experienced an inescapable reminder that physical life is fragile, I would ask you not to go another day without answering that question.

MyStoryI told you earlier that one thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. You see, through faith, I have met Jesus Christ. My personal experience is that He is alive and that His forgiveness is real. Because of Him, my eternity is secure. And it has nothing at all to do with how bad I was or how good I have been. It has everything to do with the grace God showed when He sent His Son to die on a cross as the perfect sacrifice and the simple faith I have in His resurrection.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If you are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment in a follow-on post on Prophecy Fulfilled. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

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