Posted by: T. Boyd | August 26, 2018

“I would have told you.”

That’s what Jesus said as part of “I go to prepare a place for you…if it were not so, I would have told you.”

This morning as I read chapter 14 of the gospel of John, I was suddenly struck by this truth (at least I think it is true):

We believers and lovers of Jesus have a strong, persistent longing in our hearts for His return. It is a very sweet longing that helps grow our fondness and love for Him.

If, say, He had returned when I was young in the Lord, and this longing had not grown over the years where pain and distress have been common, then I would have missed that period of yearning, of that hunger and thirst which will be assuaged when He does finally come.

Mary that could not stay away from the garden where the body of her Lord lay experienced a moment in history that no one else got to see. It was the result of her strong longing for Him to return from death, even though that hope was not really in her head, and she was overwhelmingly surprised when He did show Himself as fully human again on that Resurrection morning.

The bottom line: I am glad that the Father has delayed His return so that I, too, could experience something that I would have missed – it makes the suffering all worthwhile. Amen.

Posted by: T. Boyd | February 15, 2018

Why the Theory of Evolution is so Shallow

For years I have been wanting to say that – but it such a loaded statement.  It is obvious to lots of Christians why it is dumb to believe in what the atheists and agnostics believe: that there was no creator involved – it was just the “force”, Luke.  Or the pressure of nature’s determination to create life from amino acids, etc.

Just now, I walked outside in the backyard, and looked down at the ground.  There I saw tiny blue spots:img_1646.jpg

I looked closer to the ground, and zoomed my cell phone camera on the tiny flowers:


And I noticed how similar the “orchid -like” gems were to the Valentine flower I bought for my wife yesterday:


And I rejoiced in knowing how much fun the Creator had in designing all of the flowers, the birds, the millions and millions of different forms of life in the world.  An impossible feat, and yet it is true.  I enjoy that thought so much – it brings a thrill and happiness to my heart every time I break out in praise to our Father and His agent of creation: His Son, Jesus Christ, at experiencing something new in the wonderful, magnificent creation, even though it is a fallen world, and death entered in as a result of man’s sin.

But there is hope for it to be made whole again – I join the creation as it groans:

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23 

How dull it would be to not be able to rejoice in the creater, to miss that joyful moment – the world would lose much of its color – it would be like in black and white and gray tones – to believe that it all happened accidentally!  I pity those (un-) believers.  And I pray that they will open their eyes, their hearts, to know God loves them and He has a purpose in life for each one.

Posted by: T. Boyd | December 7, 2017

Diary of a Cochlear Implant

(If you wish you can follow my blog with Bloglovin)


NOTE: Rechargeable Battery Life -In the early days of this diary, I reported that the MedEl Rechargeable battery only lasted 4-5 hours.  That was wrong.  They regularly last 8 to hours, all 3 that are sent with the CI processor.  I think the first time, it was after they had been charged and set aside for a week or more.

Here is a date index of the pages in this diary:

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments
Appendix: Home Hearing Test

Note: the details in this diary are probably only of interest to those that may be getting the surgery in the future.  I am writing all of my impressions to help remove any fears that those persons might be experiencing.  I found lots of stories of how well the implants work after the recovery and after all the therapy of learning to hear again, but little about the details of the days right after the surgery.

The Surgery
December 5, 2017, 5:00 A.M. – report to VCU for surgery – kept overnight – huge bandage on head – little sleep through the night.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 8.32.54 PM

December 6, 2017 – the doctors removed the bandage and said it looked good – the stitches are internal ones that will dissolve – arrived back home mid-morning.

December 7, 2017 – after a good night’s sleep I start my diary.

The cochlear implant surgery was successful, the doctors told me – they actually activated the internal part while I was still unconscious, watching the EEG (?) scan – and said it performed like it should.  Anyway, I have a lopsided right side of my head – the ear is swollen and sticking out in some kind of unsightly salute. And the area around the ear and for a few inches above is also swollen.  That will all go away (so they say!).  😎

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 8.36.33 PM      Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 8.35.56 PM   Photo of the incision (ugly)

But all the surgery was done through a incision behind my ear – no incision up on the side of the head where the inside flat disc is imbedded under the skin. This is a magnetized disc, about 1.25 inches (3 cm) in diameter to which the outside attachment will stick magnetically. The inside and outside units will communicate through electric-magnetic waves.  And also, the electrical energy for the internal unit will be powered from the outside through that method. There are no batteries inside my head to be replaced.  Isn’t physics wonderful?!!

However the external unit will not be “attached” until Jan. 4 – silence in that ear till then. Actually, when the surgery internal fluids drain, I should have some residual hearing, and can wear my hearing aid for that ear and hear a little bit, I hope.  The main consequence right now is that I have absolutely no clue of the direction of sound – an important need for looking at who is speaking to you.

By the way, the tinnitus is undiminished – still loud, and new occasional sounds are being caused because of the internal probe that has been inserted into the spiraling cochlear channel.  The ENT folks predicted that the residual hearing will probably be 20 dB down from my previous level.  (I was already 40-50 dB down from healthy ears in my best frequencies – much worse in the upper frequencies), but even a little bit will help detect direction of the sound.

They kept me overnight, but I got very little sleep both Monday night at home (anticipating the 4:15 a.m. alarm, hoping I would hear it), and Tuesday night at VCU Hospital.  Leslie was also away Sunday and Monday night at St. Mary’s Hospital with an upper GI infection, with awful pains – we called 911 Sunday evening to get her there.  And she got home Tuesday afternoon, and couldn’t sleep that night, probably because she was concerned about me.  She is doing well in recovery. So it’s been a crazy few days here.

The Lord hovered over us, and the saints have rallied and met all our needs, and are bringing food.  We got good sleep last night (Wednesday night) – Leslie is still in bed (9 a.m.). When I wrote the friends that I would drive myself into the VCU hospital at 5 A.M. Tuesday morning, one of them said she would pick me up and take me so I wouldn’t have the complication of parking then trying to get that car home.  I had thought, well she probably gets up that early everyday, but, no, she goes to her job between 8 and 9.

That was such an outpouring of love.  A brother had also volunteered to do it but I had already accepted the sister’s offer.  The Lord fills us with His grace and love with which we can bless others, and that brings praise to our hearts.  Lord, we praise You and bless You – “You are a good, good Father – that’s Who You are;  And we are loved by You, that’s who we are”!  Amen.

It looks like I have started a diary here, so I will keep adding to the narrative as the days go by.  Someone asked me to do that, and maybe it will encourage others to have the operation.

Assuming the ordeal is successful, and my hearing will be so much better (as others have experienced it), I can add to the testimonies that encouraged me to go ahead with it, and be able to ask, as so many others have, “Why didn’t I get it done sooner?”

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix: Home Hearing Test

December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery

Notes: the frequent, insistent, in the background, brain- generated sounds are fascinating.  There is, as I have mentioned, the high pitch tinnitus which is just like the one on my left ear.

Then there the 2-tone sequence which I have simulated in this clip – before the operation it would occur every few months for a few hours, almost always with the same 2 tones.  And it would “play” for about 4 seconds at a time, with about a 10-30 second break between the “songs”.  But for this past week, when they are present, the “song” is much shorter and repeated without a break between.  In addition, within a day or 2 of being back home, other tones were added, especially in the lower range.

Today (Dec. 13) I hear almost like a brass band in the far distance playing random staccato notes – like a tuba followed by a baritone home toot. The pitches are like a low  F below the bass staff followed by a short note about a seventh interval (E) above – actually they are like the tones you make by blowing on a gallon jug.

I think it’s like my audio nerve + brain section that interprets sound, is anxious to get going with this new possibility.

At this time, I still have no hearing at all that I can tell in the right ear.  I thought at one point a couple days ago, by playing my oscillating (feed back) hearing aid in my right ear, that I could sense a sound there, but it may have been just leakage to the other ear.

On Monday, Dec.11, I felt a lot better and drove myself to the post-op appointment.  The Dr. said my incision looked good with no problems.  I had no dizziness that day to speak of, just a little weak, and was tired when I got home.

But Tuesday, Dec. 12, I got really dizzy and mildly nauseated – I realized it would only stop if I kept my head perfectly still – it was any sudden motion that would set it off.

Today, Wednesday, Dec. 13, the dizziness was gone, but I still felt light headed somewhat and wanted to just rest.  But I still took my wife to 2 doctor appointments that she had and had no trouble driving to those destinations and back.  And I also did my regular video editing for our church site on Youtube.

By the way, the right ear is still swollen, and is sticking out a little bit, but it is gradually going back to normal.  Feeling my scalp, I can’t tell where the imbedded attach point is.  I moved a boy scout compass around the area and I can see the needle swing toward something about even with the top of my ear, and about an inch (2-3 cm) behind the ear.  It seems to be about where the incision ends.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix: Home Hearing Test
December 30 – 26 Days after surgery

It has been a pretty rough recovery these past 3 1/2 weeks.  I have felt really well only about 4 or 5 days.  Most of the time, a little dizzy from the middle ear fluid, I would guess,  and tired most of the time.  I think it has to do with my age (77 in January coming up), and being overweight and out of shape.  I tend to suffer from mild depression as well, so I can easily talk myself into doing nothing.

We called the ENT surgeon’s office, and was told that the dizziness is fairly normal for quite a while.  I was also told by a lady with experience with CI patients that it sometimes takes months to get completely over the general anesthesia.

My wife is a great encourager, so overall I know it will all work out and the new adventure coming up next week. My CI gets activated with the beginning of learning to hear again; I am pretty sure that the excitement from that phase of the process will help me forget these few days of mild suffering after the surgery.  It helps that I am at heart an experimental scientist who loves new adventures and research, looking forward to the challenge during the next few months.

In the meantime, I will mention that one night about 10 days ago I tried for the first time to sleep on my right side resting my right ear on the pillow.  Suddenly the room seemed to start whirling around me and I turned back over.  I didn’t try to sleep that way again for several days at which point I did not experience that effect any more.

Also, the ear swelling has just about disappeared, and my hair growing back has pretty  much disguised the surgery scar.  And I can now feel where the internal disc is located – it seems to be closer to the ear than the other few people I have seen wearing the devices on their head.  So I think that will mean the appearance will be less distracting to persons who see me wearing the external attachment.

I wish everyone a great new year and for those who are considering the CI operation to be brave and very courageous, as the Lord told Joshua when he was about to enter the promised land.  Be blessed!Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 11.12.39 AM

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix: Home Hearing Test

January 4, 2017 – The processor is activated!

Well, today my CI (cochlear implant) got activated!  So exciting to hear sounds in my right ear for the first time since December 4, 2017, although a little weird, as expected, but better than for some patients that I have read about. At first, because of the snow overnight, our audiologist office called to allow us to wait till tomorrow, we said, “That will be fine.”

But then the sun came out about that time, so I told my wife that I was going to try driving around the block to see if we would be able to make it;  I came back with the report that we would be fine and we were then able to re-establish at 1:30 p.m. the 2 p.m. appointment!  We are so glad that happened.

IMG_1552 Here the audiologist, Sean, is turning it on for the first time with the computer attachment.  I heard some kind of sound, but this stage was just the one where the electronics are being tested in the internal processor.

Sean was not surprised that I thought the internal disc would be closer to the ear – he said that is because the slight irregularities I can feel through the skin is the internal parts besides the disc.

Here is a video of the first session with Sean

The next thing he did was to put together the external unit (the cable and the battery compartment), placed it on my head, and gradually turned it on while my left hearing aid was turned off.  He was speaking to me during this time, gave me a chart to help me tell him when it got too loud – so we settled for “loud, but not uncomfortable”.


During this part of the activation, I could actually understand Sean’s words with a few misses, but it sounded like he was speaking through a long, metal pipe with a hollow, resonant sound with echoes.  After letting me get used to the new sensation for about 5 minutes, he then let me turn on my hearing aid in the other ear.  And, wow! I started understanding his speaking quite well which got better and better during the next 1/2 hour or so of the appointment.

And on the way home, I could understand my wife’s, Leslie’s, speech sitting to my right better than I have in a long time.  And she told me that I finally quit talking so loud to her and how wonderful that was. (I am finding that even my “quiet voice” is too loud in my own ears).

Back home.  I just turned on a TV show, and for the first time in years, I can actually almost understand it at a volume level that is comfortable for my wife!  That is so amazing.  I still need the captions right now, but I can see that in the near future I will not have to have them all the time.

With the CI already helping this much after 3 hours, and things are only going to get better, I am already forgetting the uncomfortable month after the surgery, and at this point, I am hoping that the normal 6 month’s minimum wait time for the second surgery will be shortened.

I go back tomorrow for the next adjustment.  Very wisely, Sean is stalling in letting me start experimenting on my own with the remote and other attachments.  So I am seeing that I will have to have great patience in the next few weeks and months. 🙂

I will add a video recording that I made of the first session when I get it edited.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment>
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix – Home Hearing Test
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!

Tomorrow I go back for my 3rd session with the audiologist.  From then on it will be once a month starting on February 14 (Valentine’s Day!).  The things I am hearing for the first time in years are amazing!  I went outside a few minutes ago to scold a squirrel away from the bird feeder.  And he (she?) scolded back with that high pitch protest, or it might have been a bird scolding me, but anyway, I haven’t heard that high range of sound in years!

For the first time, ever, I heard the rice cooker signal when it had finished cooking – again a high frequency beep that my ears (with modern hearing aids) could not pick up. (I never used a rice cooker back before my hearing loss began).

Last Friday, with much of Richmond shutdown from the snow storm on Wednesday night, and probably with lots of audiology appointments canceled, I had the attention of most of the VCU audiology team.  It was wonderful!  I got my second adjustment of the CI processor – I hope to soon simulate with an audio track what it sounds like when I am only hearing through the implant – and Sean and Lisa added more range to the hearing, I think. (They won’t tell me exactly what they are doing. – Sean is very experienced in dealing with Techies like myself that think they can hurry the process along if he would just let me do some of the adjusting! He says the more I vary other inputs, the more it will slow down my brain’s learning curve – I really appreciate how he gently, but firmly handles problem patients like myself.)

So, I am being unusually (for me) patient so far.  After that session, then Amy, Lisa, Janet, and one or two other staff persons worked in getting my Resound hearing aid (HA) back on track – it quit working with the Resound iPhone app, Smart 3D, and I wanted to get that control back.  After an hour or more of Dr. Janet’s time on line with Resound, they finally declared the HA was asleep (we think they meant “dead”) and to return it to the factory.  Then the staff supplied me with a digital Phonak HA which restored my left ear hearing so that I had stereo ability once again.

Although I can understand speech with the CI alone, it is still not very clear, especially with female voices.  I can understand Sean, I would say, about 75% of the time – with women, it is more like 40%.  They said that was because his voice is a lower pitch, and was typical at this stage of learning.  But with the HA in the left ear working in conjunction with the CI, my speech understanding improvement is astonishing.

Sean said, the process of my brain fully adjusting will take maybe two years to fully complete which sounds like a long time, but after 20-30 years of hearing difficulty, that doesn’t seem to be too long to me. (At my wife’s and my ages, we are amazed how the years are flying by, anyway).  And this adventure that I am on, with daily discoveries of new sounds, has brought an excitement that I am looking forward to experiencing for the months ahead.

I understand now how other recipients talk about the first thing they do upon waking is to put on the processor and activate their implant, which I now do as well.  Before I would sometimes go all morning without putting in my hearing aids, but no more!

January 19 notes:

  • My wife says I have quit “shouting” all the time – i thought I was talking in a normal voice – when the CI was first turned on I was shocked by how loud my voice was.
  • She says I am not having her repeat what she says nearly as much, but my communication skills in understanding the “female stream of consciousness” is not much better!  🙂
  • Hearing high frequencies in the right ear – for first time ever I could understand a video by one of favorite speakers: Ravi Zacharias.
  • While listening to earphones to spoken words, I noticed I am clearly hearing in the right (CI) ear the consonant sounds (sibilants) like esses, and distinguishing between “t” and “d”.
  • Did I tell about zero residual hearing in right ear?
  • Flu – side effects of dizziness, or is it still the CI surgery/fluid adjusting?
  • Batteries – lasting 3 days or so
  • Two things I want to add:
    • Edit the initial video with Sean
    • Simulate how the “filtered” voice sounds to me.
  • From the first activation, I could hear better and understand more with the CI turned on than I could with just the left ear hearing sound.  Maybe that’s because until Dec. 5, my right ear was hearing just as well (badly) as my left ear, so the brain was not surprised by the sounds, even if distorted.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment/a>
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments
Appendix: Home Hearing Test
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation

During this long part of the story, the day-to-day changes are gradual so it is not very easy to know  what is significant in the progress.  Already, I hear so much better with my CI turned on – I never go without it.  When I had dual hearing aids of the latest top-of-the-line Resounds Enzo 3D, my hearing was really good (compared to previous aids) in that I could pinpoint where a sound was coming from, and use the iPhone app to focus and adjust for the environment.  But I still could not understand the words being spoken except for certain speakers in quiet environments.

Now, I have good location ability of sound without the iPhone app, and  I am hearing high frequency sounds of birds chirping, for example.  And I can hear the the sibilants like “t”, “s”, “z” sounds in words for the first time in 20-30 years!  Some examples are words that depend on those sounds are: “sip, zip, ship, chip, and jump, and the second consonant in vision.” (from Wikipedia under sibilant).

BEST of all, the experience last Sunday:  my wife and I are active in a local church that meets in an old theater with concrete floor and walls, resulting in lots of echoes and very loud background noise.  I have never been able to carry on a conversation inside the meeting room.  And I can only hear and understand people speaking when I am wearing sound-cancelation earphones plugged into the sound system (which is why my main job for the church is doing the sound and video recording).

This last Sunday was the first time I had been to the large meeting since my CI surgery, having been under the weather for the last 6 or 7 weeks (not only the surgery rehab time, but also have been sick – caught the flu in spite of the extra strength flu shot.)

The amazing thing was, I could understand the conversation of friends in the noisy room for the first time in the seven years we have been attending the church!  Wow!  That is so encouraging.

I need to admit that men’s voices are easier to understand than women’s which the audiologist said is normal because my brain will take quite a while to understand how to interpret the high frequencies which I am hearing for the first time in years.  He also said the adjustment to the new sounds will continue for a year or more in the learning process, always getting better and better.

The battery life:

The special 675 batteries for implants are longer lasting than regular 675 hearing aid batteries, but the life is only about 2 days of wearing them all day.  The CI instrument uses 2 of these at a time.  So I am glad that the MedEl accessories included a large supply of these cells.  Also included are rechargeable which I have tried.  Three of these standard size batteries (you use one at a time) are included,  The manual says the standard size lasts up to 10 hours, but I have found only 4-5 hours of use. (The micro size batteries are said to last up to 7 hours, but I doubt that).  (See note added at top of the article).  MedEl Rechargeable batteries Here is an image from the manual.  However, that is a small complaint compared to not being able to hear in my right ear.

I am trying to “tell it like it is” including any negative sides of the story, of which there are very few thus far.  I only was able to get the CI surgery and pay for the technology because I am under medicare.  I was shocked to see the Medicare accounting for this operation.  Besides the surgeon fee, which was reasonable, the total cost of the hospital stay and the equipment was $120,000 or so!  Wow!  I had no idea it was going to be that much.  But all but about $1000 or $2000 will be covered, and maybe our supplemental insurance will cover even that part.

Virginia is one of the states whose Medicare benefits covers 2 implants; so I hope to get the 2nd implant later this year for the other ear while that benefit is available (with the government going through so many changes, you never know what the future holds).

Until next time… listening to the newly-opened-up world of sound.  🙂

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments
Appendix: Home Hearing Test
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment

I had my first monthly CI adjustment two days ago.  Not much changed except the Audiologists (Lisa and Jennifer) turned up the volume on all of the segments of the CI.

Just before that appointment I did a DIY (do it yourself) hearing test.  The results are added at the bottom of the page – Appendix: Home Hearing Test

Sean, the first audiologist, noted about those results: “Interesting information. Just remember that the CI frequency boundries are 60Hz to 8.5KHz. Pretty good if you picked up anything at 100Hz”.

I found out this time that all of the segments of the implant were turned on the first day, but just not as loud.  And as my brain gets used to the “sounds”, I think it gets less sensitive to the different frequencies.

This time, I let the volume for each segment get to the level of “loud and uncomfortable” – and then Lisa turned it back one step.  I think last month, I was so shocked by how loud it seemed that I didn’t get to the level of “uncomfortable”.

And during the conversation, with HA turned off in my left ear, I was able to understand Lisa’s and Jennifer’s talking much better than last time – so that was encouraging that my brain is really learning how to decipher speech.

With the CI alone, it still sounds weird – like I am standing in a small metal enclosure, like an empty water tank, with the resonance that such a surrounding would give.  I think that is what users describe as “mechanical sounding” or “artificial and electronic” sounding.

Another thing I am noticing is that I can hear high pitch sounds from speech – it is the “s”, “t”, “d” – the sibilants – that sound like “hissing” – especially the “s” at the end of words.  And right now,  these sounds seem disconnected from the rest of the sounds of the words – like there is a gap in the frequency response of my ears between the normal pitch of voice and the sibilants.  I imagine that is part of the learning process that my brain is adjusting to.

Since I have not heard those sounds in 20 or 30 years, it makes sense that I am  having to re-learn them.  On the other hand, the twittering of the birds outside, which are also new-to-me in my old age, (did I say I was 77 this year?), I was able to identify and enjoy immediately with the CI. 🤠

The more I read of the dual implant experiences the more sure I am of wanting to get the second one later this year.

That’s the news from Richmond, VA. More next time.  Please leave comments for me and I will be glad to answer any questions.  If you want the comment to be private, just mention that, and I will reply via email if you leave an address.

February 18, 2018  – (A funny aside)

There we were, standing outside at a friends home, looking at their extra car they wanted to sell.  Brad, our friend, was admiring the medallion type necklace that my wife was wearing.  She had had it for years.  “I think it’s made of tin cans,” she said.  I said, “It looks like silver to me.  Here, I have a magnet – I can test it.”

And I proceeded to remove my CI external device from my head and held the magenetic disk to her necklace.  “See!  No attraction – that has no iron in it,” I pointed out.

Everyone laughed.  “I had no idea that the CI would give you a new tool to carry around!” she said.  Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 12.00.02 PM

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
Appendix: Home Hearing Test
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments
March 9, 2018 – hearing in a noisy environment

There is not much new to report during this first part of the long learning season.  I definitely can hear better using the CI plus my hearing aid in the other ear, even in noisy environments.  By hearing better, I mainly mean being able to understand people speaking on a one-on-one basis.  I still have difficulty understanding when there any echoes as there usually are with PA systems, for example, at church.

As long as I can plug into the sound system and use noise-canceling earphones or my T-Coil ear hooks [ click here for the kind I bought years ago ] then I do very well.  The remote control for my Med-El CI device has a T setting which turns off the mic and just amplifies the T coil signal, or I can use the TM setting and leave the mic turned on as well as the T coil.  And my ReSound HA has the same kind of choices via my iPhone.

In my church, which is an old hard-surfaced floor and walls and has terrible acoustics, I prefer to use the “T” setting which cuts out all the ambient noise, and I can hear very clearly, but I can’t hear anything around me, like my wife saying something to me.  So I have learned to leave the mic on my HA side a little bit.

If I turn off the HA now I can understand a little better what is being said with the CI, but it still sounds like being in a barrel. The gradual learning is slow, so the day to day improvement is not noticeable.  Next week’s appointment at the ENT clinic will show how my implant is doing, and I imagine the channels will all be turned up some more.  Also, I will start using the “Roger Pen” from Med El which is a remote mic that feeds directly to the CI.  That will give me another story to relate next time.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix: Home Hearing Test

April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment

It has been a rough last 3-4 months – it started with the December CI surgery: “Doctor, why is it taking so long to recover my health?” “Well, tell me Boyd, when were you 77 before?” “Oh…”

Anyway, my wife went in for surgery on the night before my CI surgery; then she broke her foot a couple of days after the surgery; I got a stomach virus during mid-December; we both got the real flu in January; and I generally have not felt good until this last couple of weeks.

Sean, the audiologist at VCU who has been doing these CI follow-ups for 30 or more years, saw me two weeks ago. He is pleased with my progress. They do a hearing test on the CI every time I go. I think he said that the volume adjustment, even though it is “loud, but tolerable”, is still about 30 dB below the final goal.

I said, “Wow!”. Already I have to turn up my new ReSound HA (hearing aid) in my left ear to its maximum gain to match the volume of the CI. I have found the world as a noisy place – one that went quiet about 30 years ago for me. But I am so pleased that I am back into the ability to hear the noise. Last week I went to Lowes, to the gardening department, I was shocked at how loud were the many birds chirping in the high, outdoor, ceiling. I haven’t heard them in years!

Another example: we went to a going-away party in a noisy, hard surface, small coffee shop near us this week – with everyone talking loudly like they always do at parties. And I was again amazed how well I could understand my friends on a one-to-one basis in that room. I could never do that before the cochlear implant.

Sean also activated more features on the MedEl remote so I can adjust the volume (that was supposed to work at the previous adjustment, but it didn’t seem to work – I think they saw why that was). Sean set the default to be like at the 90% mark, and said he wanted me to always push the “reset” every day so it would start at that level. And he encouraged me to regularly push the volume up because the brain learning process speed would be increased that way.

Only at the loud party I mentioned above, and at our loud church service (young people really like it loud!!), have I sometimes turned it down. And also, at the church I almost always plug into the sound system and use the Telecoil setting on both my HA and the CI.

Because the hearing in my left ear seems to be deteriorating quite rapidly, I am pretty sure I will try to get the second ear implanted sooner than later – maybe within a year. In fact, at a recent MedEl social gathering of clients and potential patients, at least in one case, the person waited 5-6 years between the first and second implant, and he/she usually didn’t wear the most recent processor because of not really having gotten used to it.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

Appendix: Home Hearing Test

May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment

I am very encouraged about today’s visit to the audiologist.  It was Sean Kastetter who was my first audiologist I saw in January when the CI got activated.  He seems pleased with my progress.  He has the CI volume almost to the level of his goal.  His goal is that my hearing will be within 0 dB to 20 dB of normal hearing.  My default (the reset value on the remote) is still about 30 dB down from normal.  

He gave me 2 new programs out of the 4 to try in different environments. Before now, I could tell little difference in the 4 programs, but already I can detect the differences and look forward to experimenting with them.  He told me some of the details of how the CI processors work – I am impressed of how the engineering is done, and different ways they approach “fooling” the brain in how to hear and make sense of the sounds.

The process is quite complex.  One of the options is to use all the different sections of the implant simultaneously, or to use them in groups, for example to pair the sections together so the same signals are going to two of the adjacent sections of the implant.  He says that sometimes helps the brain to learn quicker with the less amount of information being fed through the hearing system.

One thing that made me glad that I went with MedEl is that as they improve and update the external processor, it is always backward compatible with older internal processors.  But the way that has been done is very clever.  They have been able to compress the huge data that is being transmitted by only sending the data that has changed since the last transmission – sort of like the way the compressed video is sent over cable for TV – the only part of the picture that is transmitted from frame to frame is the parts that have changed since the last frame – not the whole picture.

So what?  Well that is why the MedEl batteries last so much longer than (at least in the beginning) the other 2 major companies – they didn’t compress the data in that way, if I understand correctly.  They have moved in that direction, but the older internal processors are not compatible with the newer techniques.  (Again, this is all based on my limited understanding).  I’m open to comments of correction.  🙂

Back to today’s session:  Sean said in future visits he will explain more about what he can adjust, and do finer adjustments to fit my needs as I get better in distinguishing those details.

I told him I really don’t get enough practice during the average day because I am usually at home reading and not around people talking.  My wife is very active, but is away from home a good bit of the week.  So I asked about using TV to help learn.  He suggested watching talk shows, but doing so without captions.  I really lean on the captions, but he said in a week or so of steady watching a particular host I should be able to do without the captions and understand almost everything.

I will also try to learn to like audio books, not my favorite way of reading, but I know that would help my brain to learn faster the CI hearing.

This is Leslie, Boyd’s wife.  I go with Boyd to his appointments to write down anything we might need to remember.  Frankly, not being a science/engineer type, I don’t really attempt to follow the technology part of the visits (I do crossword puzzles).  What has thrilled me about the CI is that during a brief trip that we took to Houston last week to visit his relatives, Boyd was able to interact with his sister and cousins in ways that would have been unimaginable before the CI.  I see changes in his attitude toward people.  Now that he knows hearing is possible, he is much more patient with communicating, even when it isn’t easy.  That, for me, is the real blessing of the CI.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 9, 2018 – 5 days after activation!
January 26, 2018 – 22 days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment
Appendix: Home Hearing Test

June 11, July 9 – Forth and Fifth monthly adjustments

The last 2 visits have been kind of routine – guess the excitement phase is over for now. The learning is still advancing but it is slower, it seems, because it has been so long going. During this last session – Sean (the audiologist) always starts with a hearing test with and without my left hearing aid activated – he and I were both surprised that for the first time I could understand more of the test words and sentences without my hearing aid turned on, using just the CI alone.

I still don’t find the CI sound as natural sounding as I would like, but I am greatly encouraged at being to carry on conversations for the first time in years with a variety of people and in different settings. I still cannot understand persons at a distance in a group setting – it has to be one-on-one.

Also, I am realizing that the mental challenge to struggle to hear every word is tiring. For example, on most Sundays, our church has a large gathering for about 2 hours for which I listen on ear phones (since I do the audio/video recording). And then it is followed after about an hour with a small group meeting for another 2 hours or so. I don’t hear near as well in the second meeting and I think it is because of “mental” fatigue. The “strength” to go longer will improve with time, I believe.

Sean each time at the visit has adjusted the 4 settings in the CI to try out. He said that it’s all right if I can’t tell much difference right now – that it will become more obvious as time goes on. This week in one of the church meetings, as I tried the 4 programs, I could hear a slight difference, and since the CI records the history of my selections, Sean will be able to tell how to keep improving the programming.

I don’t go back again for 3 months – so the next report will be after the October 22 appointment.

Oh, I forgot to say, that my music hearing ability is so much better! That was my hope from the beginning. I am even getting geared up to tune a friend’s piano soon since I can hear the pitches again. And I played for a variety show last month which I would not even dared to think I could do ten years ago.

December 5, 2017 – The Surgery
December 13, 2017 – 9 Days after surgery
December 30, 2017 – 26 Days after surgery
January 4, 2018 – The processor is activated!
January 26, 2018 – 22 Days after activation
February 16, 2018 – My first monthly adjustment
March 9, 2018 – Hearing in noisy setting
April 6, 2018 – Second monthly adjustment
May 1, 2018 – Third monthly adjustment


Home Hearing Test

I was curious about how well I was hearing different tones across the sound spectrum.  So I did a test this morning – probably nothing new, but maybe it will help. I tested both the CI and the Resound Enzo 3D, through the mics and through the T-coil.

Hearing test using
On right ear (the CI side)
• T Coil only:
Using the T-coil hearing “ear phone” set: (the Mac computer is at about 1/2 volume)
Range: from about 280 Hz to 7000 Hz with 5% setting on tone-generator volume – noticeable peak from about 400 – 1000 Hz.
At 100 % setting, starting from 60 Hz – nothing till about 100 Hz.
• Microphone only: – The Macbook Pro is source of sound
About the same, but extends upper frequency limit to about 9000 Hz at the 5% setting (100% on the Mac volume)

Left ear (Resound Enzo 3D HA):
• T Coil only:
Again, using T-coil only, the test is almost the same as with CI except the upper cutoff is around 3300 Hz.
• Microphone only:
About same as T coil, but the upper cutoff is a about 100 Hz more.

To make sure the lower frequencies were not cutting off because of the small speakers in the Macbook, I hooked up to my Bose music system, and the ranges were still about the same, although I could hear tones down to 100 Hz or so, and sense even lower tones.  But below 280 Hz or so, the tone volume in my ears was faint, and fainter as the frequency decreased, of course.

Posted by: T. Boyd | November 3, 2017

The Cost of Scorning

Scar Tissue Develops

This morning, on our way to the eye doctor at Stony Point which we do every other Friday, I took our usual exit off the Powhite Parkway on to the Chippenham Parkway.  There are about 6 toll booth lanes that collect our fees, and we learned shortly after moving to Richmond that the EZ-Pass method was the best way to pay tolls.

Each of the lanes honor Ez-Pass, but also they are staffed for full service.  This morning, one lane was closed, and every other lane had a line of 2 or 3 cars waiting to pay.  Of course, the one I chose was being delayed – apparently the driver was not able to pay the 70 cent toll (maybe no small bills).  This happened to me once, so the procedure is that you sign an IOU to the toll company to pay it later.  Well, that was taking more than 1 or 2 minutes.

My wife was probably praying about me not getting upset.

I started being scornful of the design of the toll plaza, making it clear that someone made a poor decision not to designate at least one of the lanes as EZ-Pass only.

And then I caught myself – “I am complaining again.  I am sorry,” I said to Leslie.  She didn’t respond directly to that to that, but she told me that lately it was shown to her heart that there is a cost to the complainer when he scorns someone or something.  She said she feels like that adds to the scar tissue that surrounds our “heart” and makes it harder for the Spirit of God to speak to us.

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 2.12.39 PM

This was right after she had read our daily Psalm, which was Psalm 123 today:

Psalm 123 English Standard Version

A Song of Ascents.

To you I lift up my eyes,

    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

Behold, as the eyes of servants

    look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maidservant

    to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the Lord our God,

    till he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,

    for we have had more than enough of contempt.

Our soul has had more than enough

    of the scorn of those who are at ease,

    of the contempt of the proud.

I always thought that scripture was talking of the scorn shown by our enemies toward us, but I found, as Leslie shared her thoughts, that it also points to me – I am the one at ease, I am the one who is proud.

I am the one that has the “right” to complain because I see a better way of how things ought to be.  If they would just put me in control, then I could make it better, “make it great, again.”

My complaining, my scorning, helps no one; it does not bring change to the cause of the complaint.  All it does accomplish is add to the stoniness of my heart, the scar tissue that the Lord is busy removing by His power, by His determination to complete the good work that He has begun. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phillipians 1:6)

Lord, thank You for showing me this again.  You know how many times I have read the thoughts that align with this revelation.  For 30 years or so,  I have read Oswald Chambers in the daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.   On June 17, he writes:

It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.

And on May 3, Chambers concludes:

Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to fault finding.

Posted by: T. Boyd | April 14, 2017

The Beauty and Revelation Hidden in the Book of Job

After 60 years of serious bible study, I have finally awakened to the beauty and revelation that is hidden in Job. I think I had to get back to the outlook of the child with the eyes that are excited about the wonderful discoveries of beauty that are around me – the advantage of retirement and old age when the Lord has taught me to number my days.

There are 2 things that have opened my eyes about this  ancient book of Job.  One is this article by Stephen Cook about the structure of the book.  He thinks, and I think he is right,  because it is almost all poetry, the book is actually the script for an ancient play.  That helps me understand how it is a series of speeches by 5 men and God.  It may or may not be based on a true historical story — I have always thought it was and haven’t changed my mind about that.

The other eye-opener is something that happened to me just now as I was reading Job, chapters 27 and 28.  Since I failed to read the translators’ added heading of chapter 28, I was puzzled by the opening verses 1-11 which talked about the hidden treasures in the earth that have to be mined and dug to obtain.  And this was such a contrast to the previous chapter 27 which was talking about the “awards” to the wicked.

And suddenly, in verse 28:12, I understood where Job was going with his speech. He asks, “But where shall wisdom be found?”  And I had a wonderful epiphany of understanding and a thrill to see the advantage of writing in poetic style (poetry has never been something I have appreciated – I had to become an old man before it started speaking to me!).  The subtle way the writer hides the motive behind the beginning verses till you get to verse 12 is something easier to do, I think, in poetry than in prose.

This discovery has awakened in me a hunger for finding more such hidden jewels in the scripture, and especially at this time, in the book of Job.  I have learned that I need to slow down when the biblical passage is in poetic form, rather than reading in my usual way of kind of racing over those parts to get back to the “serious” prose.

So much to discover;  so little time.  I’m glad that Randy Alcorn’s books  are full of the idea that our time in heaven will be used as continuing the search and discoveries of the treasures that are ours in Jesus Christ.  I think (and hope) that he is correct – that we will be having an eternal, joyful, education learning about the wonders of our creator.

Posted by: T. Boyd | February 16, 2017

Life is Unspeakably Sad – part 2

From Larry Crabb’s book Inside Out to which I keep returning whenever I hear or see something tragic that tugs at my heart.  I will let the book speak for itself.

The illusion that life in a fallen world is really not too bad must be shattered.  When even the best parts of life are exposed as pathetic counterfeits of how things should be, the reality drives us to a a level of distress that threatens to utterly undo us. But it’s when we’re on the brink of personal collapse that we’re best able to shift the direction of our soul from self-protection to trusting love [emphasis by the author].  The more deeply we enter into the reality that life without God is sheer desolation, the more fully we can turn toward Him.

There is no place for sugarcoating in the life of a serious Christian.  Life is unspeakably sad.  But we’re more than conquerors over every cause of sadness.  Repentance means to accept the truth that life without God is no life at all and to therefore pursue God with all the passion of someone who has been rescued from unimaginable horror.  When hints of sadness creep into our soul, we must not flee into happy or distracting thoughts.  Pondering the sadness until it becomes overwhelming can lead us to a deep change in the direction of our being from self-perservation to grateful worship.

The richest love grows in the soil of an unbearable disappointment with life.  When we realize life can’t give us what we want, we can better give up our foolish demand that it do so and get on with the noble task of loving as we should.  We will no longer need to demand protection from further disappointment.  The deepest change will occur in the life of a bold realist who clings to God with a passion only his realistic appraisal of life can generate….

Posted by: T. Boyd | February 1, 2017

Study Finds Micrometeorites on Rooftops

A recent study dubbed Project Stardust found dozens of micrometeorites in dirt collected from urban rooftops in Norway and France.

Source: Study Finds Micrometeorites on Rooftops

That is good news – see my earlier, popular article, but note it is not easy to find them.

Posted by: T. Boyd | December 9, 2016

Gleanings from Fleming Rutledge

(Last Update: August 6, 2017)

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ


This is the most important book I have read this year, other than the Bible.  Mrs. Rutledge took over 20 years to write this, and it is a masterpiece – it should be read by every serious believer who wants to understand the true meaning of the Atonement by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I plan to write more about what this book is stirring in my heart – it is so profound and addresses so much of what is wrong with the Christian Church, at least in the affluent Western countries.  I want to help share these thoughts.

For now, I will quote some of the passages from the book (the Kindle edition), and will put some impressions in the comments section.

(Update: April 24, 2017 – have been too busy to keep this posting up-to-date with the reading, so there are gaps – hope to come back to the missed chapters)

Most churchgoing people are “Jews” on Sunday morning and “Greeks” the rest of the time. Religious people want visionary experiences and spiritual uplift; secular people want proofs, arguments, demonstrations, philosophy, science. The striking fact is that neither one of these groups wants to hear about the cross.
Rutledge, Fleming. The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ – (Kindle Locations 2458-2460). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.
“A Spirit who could derogate from the glory of Christ crucified in order to promote a more dazzling glory of his own, who passes by the sufferings of Christ in order to offer us a share in a painless and costless triumph, is certainly not the Holy Spirit of the New Testament [who] glorifies, not himself, but Christ, and therefore his mission is to reveal the full glory of Calvary, and to bring us into possession of all the blessings that by his death Christ has won for us.” 
– (Kindle Locations 2503-2507).
A feature of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion that is apparently Bach’s own invention is not only musically arresting but also of great theological importance. Jaroslav Pelikan describes it thus: 

[Bach uses] the “halo,” the string quartet that plays various chords to accompany each of the sayings of Jesus and, it has been said, “floats round the utterances of Christ like a glory” [quoting music historian and Bach biographer Philipp Spitta]. . . . Bach was apparently the only one [among composers of his time] to see that the absolutely appropriate place to suspend the “halo” leitmotiv was at the cry of dereliction, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. . . . The glory of the Father was withdrawn from the solitary figure on the cross . . . now he is all alone and forsaken.  – (Kindle Locations 2681-2688).

Sometimes it is objected that a father who would allow his own son to be cursed and abandoned must be monstrous. Trinitarian thinking is of the essence here, however. The Son and the Father are doing this in concert, by the power of the Spirit. This interposition of the Son between human beings and the curse of God upon Sin is a project of the three persons. The sentence of accursedness has fallen upon Jesus on our behalf and in our place, by his own decree as the second person. 
 – (Kindle Locations 2726-2730).
We have looked at passages from Paul’s Corinthian letters to show what happens to a church when it loses sight of the cross. Paul’s insistence on the “word of the cross,” then as now, causes offense, because a “Corinthian” church is self-congratulatory, certain of its own spiritual attainments, whereas the cross of Christ displays God’s leveling of all distinctions in his godless death.
–  (Kindle Locations 2804-2807)
The Corinthians were self-congratulatory about their spiritual (so-called) accomplishments, and tended to be antinomian (nomos, “law”). As we shall see, the Galatian church was the opposite, being led in the direction of a new legalism.
– (Kindle Locations 3124-3126).

If God in three persons is most fully revealed to us by the Son’s accursed death outside the community of the godly, this means a complete rethinking of what is usually called religion.

– (Kindle Locations 2813-2814)

Those who suffer most from injustice are the poorly educated, the impoverished, the invisible. Justice is involved with law and judges; the people most likely to suffer injustice cannot afford good lawyers, do not even know any lawyers, whereas lawyers and judges are the ones who have the money to buy books. In other words, those most likely to be affected by the issues raised in this chapter are least likely to be reading about them. This puts an extra burden on the privileged reader, but such challenges are not unrelated to Jesus’ teaching that the one who does not take up his cross and follow him is not worthy of him (Matt. 10: 38). Trying to understand someone else’s predicament lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.

– (Kindle Locations 3145-3150)

There are many things that we do not know about Jesus, but of this we can be sure: his mind and heart were shaped by intimate, continuous interaction with the Scriptures.

 It is not too far-fetched to compare Jesus’ total immersion in the Scriptures to the young person of today who is continually plugged in to electronic media.

– (Kindle Locations 3156-3157)

In a Newsweek article about heaven, Kenneth L. Woodward noted, “Missing from most contemporary considerations of heaven is the notion of divine justice.”  When affluent white Americans think of heaven, we tend to think of celestial serenity, natural beauty, and family reunions. Black Americans and other disadvantaged groups would be much more likely to think of God’s promise that there will be ultimate justice. For anyone who has suffered great wrong, it is important to know, as the book of Revelation promises so wondrously, that all wrongs will be righted (Rev. 21: 3-4).

– (Kindle Locations 3564-3569).

Personal note: I am a white, relatively affluent American male, whose view of heaven has been reshaped from the former to the latter, because I see injustice daily in the new location we moved to in the highest poverty area of urban Virginia.  It’s not just the crime rate, its the joblessness, the despair on the faces around us; it’s the trash in the alleys and on the streets; it’s the poor upkeep of roads, sidewalks, and even street signs;  it’s the rusty front of the U.S. Post Office and the poor service the customers receive there; it’s the poor education that the kids get because of so many problems, and the many fatherless families in the area.

And my heart cries for justice.  I join my Black friends, my loved ones, in looking forward to the rectification of all things in the Kingdom.

God does not possess his justice (righteousness, same word) far off in a remote empyrean [heaven]. The righteousness of God is not a static, remorseless attribute against which vulnerable human beings fling themselves in vain. Nor is it like that of a judge who dispenses impersonal justice according to some legal norm. God’s justice, as Desmond Tutu insisted, is not retributive but restorative. It is natural that many do not understand this, because “God’s love, resisted, is felt as wrath.” 

 – (Kindle Locations 3720-3724)

Only God Can Save from a Weight of Sin So Great

We can identify the center of Anselm’s logic in 2.6. Here, he urges that the weight of sin is so great (nondum considerasti quanti ponderis peccatum sit) that there is no possibility of atonement or satisfaction unless the price paid is “greater than all the universe besides God.” 

Boso. So it appears. . . . 

Anselm. Therefore none but God is able to make this satisfaction. 

Boso. I cannot deny it. 

Anselm. But none but a man ought to do this [he has already established that it is the guilty party, and no one else, who ought to make the restitution]. 

Boso. Nothing could be more just. 

Anselm. If it be necessary, therefore . . . that [salvation] cannot be effected unless the aforesaid satisfaction be made, which none but God can make and none but man ought to make, it is necessary for the God-man to make it. 

Boso. Now blessed be God! We have made a great discovery. 

– (Kindle Locations 4393-4407).

Hart is thus saying, from a quite different perspective, almost exactly the same thing as J. L. Martyn: the resurrection is God’s validation of his Son’s redemptive death, not the replacement of it. “The resurrection of the Son does not eclipse the Son’s cross.”

– (Kindle Locations 4467-4470).

I went through a period of thinking when I thought the resurrection is the most important historical event, but I see I was wrong.  Of course it is of great importance, but it is not where the emphasis of the gospel lies.

Anselm emphasizes that the “God-man” goes to his death in full knowledge of what he is doing. The crucifixion “is an event in God’s triune life.”  It should never be interpreted as a deed done to an unsuspecting Son by his Father.  

Anselm is at pains to show that the Son laid down his life of his own accord (John 10: 18). “The Father did not compel him to suffer death, or even allow him to be slain against his will, but of his own accord he endured death for the salvation of men” (1.8).

To the objection that the Son had no choice since the Father commanded him to obey, Anselm replies that this was not at all the way it unfolded:

[S] o precious a life . . . given with such willingness . . . the Son freely gave himself to the Father. For thus we plainly affirm that in speaking of one Person we affirm the whole deity, to whom as man he offered himself. And, by the names of Father and Son, a wondrous depth of devotion is excited in the hearts of the hearers when it is said that the Son supplicates the Father on our behalf. (2.18, emphasis added)

The Son had agreed with the Father and the Holy Spirit that there was no other way to reveal to the world the height of his omnipotence than by his death. (1.9)

– (Kindle Locations 4483-4496).

Although “The Shack” has been validly criticized by many, it does make clear to me how important it is to understand that the Father was fully involved in the suffering of the Son, Jesus Christ on the cross.

If acknowledgment of fault is difficult for individuals — perhaps especially for men, who have been conditioned not to show weakness — how much more so is it for groups. A nation, tribe, corporation, or other human collective will typically define itself as superior to its enemies, competitors, or antagonists. Think of how difficult it is for any country or national group, including our own, to admit that it has done anything wrong. The wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq will continue to haunt the United States. Even after all the pain and second-guessing, our tendency is still to hunt for exculpating factors. We continue to think almost entirely in terms of American casualties, as though the deaths of Vietnamese peasants and Arab civilians are of lesser consequence.

– (Kindle Locations 4875-4881).

 Since the Reformation, the sad divisions in the church have often been marked by bitter disputes about the nature of the atonement, with some parties insisting that only one explanation of it is correct and others are erroneous. This has been a difficult stance to maintain, since there was never a Council of Nicaea or Chalcedon to determine an orthodox position regarding the crucifixion, as there was about the nature of Christ and the Holy Trinity. The strong reaction in recent decades against “theories” of the atonement has actually been useful. “Theories” are spun out of human mental capacity, and we are dealing here with an event far beyond human mental capacity.

 – (Kindle Locations 5775-5781).

I never thought before about how much good the Council’s did in the first millennium to keep Christianity “on track”, something that was lost in the Reformation, viz. the unity of mainstream Christianity when a Council could speak for it. 

Memory (remembrance) in biblical thought does not mean “calling to mind.” “Remembering” means present and active. That is the reason for the statement in the Passover Haggadah that it was not our ancestors who were brought by God out of bondage into freedom, but we ourselves. The Seder supper is not a memorial of God’s saving action in the past, but an appropriation of that same saving power in the present.

– (Kindle Locations 5951-5955).

When we repeat Jesus’ words, “do this in remembrance of me,” in the communion service, we do not simply call Jesus to mind. Jesus is actively present with power in the communion of the people. Disputes about the Lord’s Supper have divided the Christian church, but understanding the biblical concept of remembrance can help us. We are not just thinking about Jesus’ actions in the upper room; we acknowledge that he is present and acting with the community gathered at the table in the present time. The doctrine of the real presence of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper can be understood in this way by everyone, from the most sophisticated person to the simplest.

– (Kindle Locations 5966-5971).

Viewed from a New Testament perspective, we see the impetus for projecting the exodus into the future as an eschatological event already present in the Old Testament. Eschaton in Greek means “last.” To speak of the eschaton, therefore, means to speak of the Last Judgment, the second coming, the new heaven and new earth — traditionally grouped under the heading of the last things. However, eschatology is not so much a cluster of topics as it is a thought-world. A good basic definition is that of C. K. Barrett: “In characteristically eschatological thinking, the significance of a series of events in time is defined in terms of the last of their number. The last event is not merely one member of the series; it is the determinative member, which reveals the meaning of the whole.”

– (Kindle Locations 5996-6002).

The words “eschatology” and “apocalyptic,” though future-oriented, are not interchangeable. The key apocalyptic idea, to be developed further in later chapters, is the sovereign intervention of God, with a corresponding displacement of the capacity of human beings to bring that intervention about. It must be said in the strongest possible terms: in no way does this emphasis on the divine agency mean that there is nothing for us to do, or that our activity is meaningless. What it means, rather, is that human activity points to the future reign of God and participates in it proleptically (prolepsis, “to anticipate”). It does not, however, make it come to fruition; only God can complete his purpose. At no time does the Bible suggest that we are, in the currently popular phrase, “co-creators with God”; rather, we are graciously called and moved to be participants in what God alone is able to create. 29 The word “eschatology” does not necessarily make this distinction clear; it is possible to refer to the “last things” and thus speak eschatologically, without being careful to show that God alone will cause those last things to come to pass — the emphasis that is the hallmark of apocalyptic. The role of the people of God is participation in what God is already doing.

– (Kindle Locations 6038-6049)

Surely the danger here is that Christians may be, and often have been, tempted to think that the constituting of Israel by God as “a peculiar people” (see Exod. 19: 5; Deut. 14: 2 KJV) has been invalidated by the Christ event. This notion should be decisively repudiated (Rom. 9: 4)…..If we really want to combat anti-Semitism, what better way to do it than to foster love of the Hebrew Scriptures? There is a gap in the mental furnishings of white Christians in America today. The thrilling story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt ought to make our collective hairs stand on end, but the mention of it is likely to be met with blank stares. We need more sermons on this central shaping story.

–  (Kindle Locations 6076-6087).

The first thing to remember is that these codes [the Levitical laws] were given to God’s people living in alien territory. This was true of the Israelites throughout most of their biblical history; they were “sojourning” in either Canaan or Babylon or the Roman Empire. The period when they were truly at home was all too brief. This is still true for Christians, or should be, because the people of God are always going to be uneasily situated. We live as exiles in territory that is either besieged or occupied by alien gods.  The church should always have a sense of being in a strange land, and if we are not feeling this tension, we are not really being the church: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6: 1).

– (Kindle Locations 6505-6510).

This distinction does not mean that Israel is allowed to disdain the people around her. In a particularly significant passage, Leviticus instructs, “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19: 34). Ellen F. Davis calls this a “destabilizing factor within Leviticus,” meaning that even within the strict Holiness Code, a future way is already opened up; “the Levitical vision contains the mustard seed that will grow to burst the limits of that vision . . . this is what happens with Jesus and his followers.”  Set-apartness is not meant to encourage a sense of superiority on the part of God’s people; it is God who is superior, not his servants.  The members of the community are not to look down their collective noses at the Canaanites floundering in their idolatry. If we take the whole grand sweep of the Old Testament into consideration, the ultimate design is for Israel to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. Looking ahead to Romans 4, concerning the promise made to Abraham, there is no one, however far gone in unrighteousness, who is beyond the reach of the crucified One who died for the ungodly (Rom. 5: 6). Therefore, the people of God both do, and do not, hold themselves apart.

– (Kindle Locations 6537-6548).

In a footnote for Chapter 6, Pastor Rutledge writes:

25. Philip Hughes, in his commentary on Hebrews, makes a nice distinction between “separation from” and “separation to,” which removes some of the problems associated with the idea of being “set apart.” He makes this point with reference to Heb. 13: 12-13, where Christians are called away from the sacred precincts to go “outside the camp,” where Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (12: 2). “By suffering outside the gate, Jesus identifies himself with the world in its unholiness. . . . On our unholy ground he makes his holiness available to us in exchange for our sin which he bears and for which he atones on the cross. . . . This following of Christ inescapably involves going outside the camp where the cross, too shameful to be placed inside the camp, is located.” He then quotes F. F. Bruce to great effect: “What was formerly sacred was now unhallowed, because Jesus had been expelled from it, and what was formerly unhallowed was now sacred ground because Jesus was there” (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977], 580-82).

-(Kindle Locations 7400-7408).

I was able to check out that Commentary by Hughes, and in reading it, I was thrilled to see something about Hebrews 1:3, written in the 8th Century by the commentator, Alcuin, where he points out “it is no less to govern the world than to create it; for in creating, the substances of things were produced from nothing, while in governing, the things that have been made are sustained, lest they should return to nothing.”  That was something I had never thought about.

A crucial difference between wrong and evil is that people are implicitly in charge of the universe in which rights and wrongs are discussed; people have systems of laws to right wrongs. But evil implies a different universe, controlled by extra-human forces. Wrong is a human offense that suggests reparation is possible and deserved. Wrong is not mysterious. Evil suggests a mysterious force that may be in business for itself and may exploit human agency as part of a larger cosmic conflict — between good and evil, God and Satan. 

— she quotes  here from Morrow, Lance. Evil: An Investigation. New York: Basic Books, 2003.

Rutledge, Fleming. The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 11410-11415). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.

 Wow.  The following excerpt is very disturbing, and in my sheltered world I didn’t even pay attention when it was going on.  So sad.

The Hidden Factor of Complicity As the twentieth century drew to a close, it was becoming clear that the extermination of six million Jews and several million Slavs, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, mentally retarded people, resistance leaders, and others at the hands of the Nazis was not to be the last genocide in our time, in spite of pious and defiant cries of “Never again.” The demonstrable failure of the Christian church during the roundup of Europe’s Jews was to be exceeded — if that were possible — in 1994 by the sometimes enthusiastic participation of Christian leaders and institutions during the Rwandan genocide. The insistent question that such events raise, over and over, is whether Christian faith really makes any difference when self-identified Christians participate in radical evil. Stephen R. Haynes, writing in the Christian Century, observes that Rwanda was the most Christianized country in Africa (90 percent), yet huge numbers of victims were killed in church buildings where they had sought refuge. “Like Nazi Germany, genocidal Rwanda is an exceedingly unattractive venue for Christian self-examination. Much of the evidence indicates that ‘blood’ proved thicker than baptismal water, that faith was powerless to overcome the interests of class or ethnicity. . . . Christians must ask what this and other episodes of mass killing reveal about the essence and extent of our fallenness.” 134

The Rwandan atrocities force us to reexamine our understanding of human nature. The manner of the murders has caused especial notice, since hundreds of thousands were hacked with machetes, burned in churches, and shot point-blank and face-to-face. This was not an industrialized, anonymous operation carried out at remote locations by a few fanatical officials “just doing their jobs”; it was a person-to-person massacre by people who in many cases knew their victims, and were even colleagues with them on the staffs of the same hospitals and members of the same parish churches. Anyone who cares about Christian witness must be haunted by the question: What would I have done?

Rutledge, Fleming. The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 11489-11507). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.


It is a new epistemology, a new way of knowing. When God reveals himself, the old arrangements become obsolete. The distinctive characteristic of Job, in the last analysis, is his consuming desire to receive a response from God. He got one. It was not the response he could have expected, but in an utterly strange way God was gracious to Job. The clue that we need is the detachment of the question about suffering from the self-revelation of God. The question “Why?” is not the right question and will never yield the right “explanation.” 152

David Hart, writing about The Brothers Karamazov, describes Ivan’s posture as “rage against explanation.” 153 Hart argues that we must not be persuaded into a position that requires us to make sense of everything that happens. It is premature to say to a sufferer, “There must be some reason for this.” The sufferer may (or may not) eventually come to this belief by himself, in and through the suffering; but it is a first rule of pastoral ministry that the would-be consoler must never put such words into the sufferer’s mouth. In many situations the best rule for the “comforter” may very well be silence. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the “explanations” offered are consoling only to the “comforter,” not the sufferer. There are only two possible responses to horrendous suffering. The first is to share the sufferer’s pain at length, in silence. 154 The second, as Hart concludes, is to “hate these things with a perfect hatred.” 155

Rutledge, Fleming. The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 11615-11629). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: T. Boyd | April 15, 2016

Last of the Mohicans

At Gold’s Gym I did a half hour on the treadmill in the “cardio cinema” theater while watching a portion of the 1992 movie, “The Last of the Mohicans”.  I knew nothing about the story, having never read the book nor studied the French-Indian War, and the retention of history is, alas, not a strength of mine.

But I started thinking about the small amount I know of the sad history of the natives of the Americas and how they were treated by the European migration to this continent.  And I wondered, if that had been done in God’s righteous ways, if it was under the Lord’s guidance and direction, what would it have looked like?

In this vast continent, surely there was enough land and resources to support all the new comers as well as the natives in a prosperous and fruitful, peaceful manner.  God’s original purpose was for mankind to spread out an occupy the whole earth in a good, righteous way, ruling over it – being caretakers of it.

If the kingdom of God had been continued without man falling  in the Garden of Eden, and then later, after the Flood, if Noah’s family had not continued the sinful pattern, then the ones that migrated originally to the new world would have done so under God’s hand; and so when the later explorers arrived, there would have been a peaceful settling into the “new” continent – it would have been driven not by greed, but by the impetus of the Spirit of God with a much different outcome.

So what?  Why think about this?   Maybe thinking through these scenarios could help us to know how to pray about our relationships with our neighbors, with new immigrants,  or even about how to care for the environment;  it could help shape how we should live and work now in this age before His return upon the Earth in bodily form.

Besides that, I just really enjoy anticipating the new kingdom and how glorious it will be when the Lord Jesus is on the throne on Earth, ruling over us in all aspects, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We cannot even imagine how good and wonderful it will be.

No more sickness or death, no hunger or thirst, no more war or crime.  Wow!  It blows our minds to imagine it.  Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus, come!


Posted by: T. Boyd | July 2, 2015

Holograms and Seeing Jesus

How is a hologram made? The light from a laser is used to illuminate some chess pieces in a certain way and a piece of photographic film is exposed to the reflected light as in the diagram below.

hologram setup

After the film is developed, in its transparent form, it looks like this picture under ordinary light, in other words, it looks like a nice pattern of swirls like water waves set up by a rock dropped into a pool of quiet water.

hologram film

But if the film is exposed to the same laser light that was used to make the exposure, then looking through the film like a window, with the laser light diffused so that it doesn’t harm the eye, you can see the original chess pieces as if they are placed behind the “window”.

hologram picture

The next image shows what happens as you move your head to the left and then to the right as you look “through the window”, and you can see the chess pieces shift around just like they were really sitting there.  In other words, the hologram is producing a 3-dimensional image of the original chess pieces. hologram pictures

Lots of science-fiction movies simulate what 3-d holograms can do in transmitting messages to look like the person is really present, floating in midair.  And there have been recent advances in trying to do this, but the best so far is being able to produce an image that seems to hover in front of a screen, but not really floating in the space like Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie.  And the image can only be seen from a limited range of angles in front of the projection.


Seeing Jesus

There are a couple of ways that this science discovery has analogies in the spiritual realm.  First of all, the image cannot be seen without special light, at least with this type hologram (there are such things as “white” light holograms that can be seen in normal light).

And as mentioned several times in the New Testament, it takes the special light of the Holy Spirit to understand the good news about Jesus, and to even be able to come to him and be born again.

The most interesting feature to me of holograms is how you can cut the film into a bunch of pieces: for example, cut a 2″x2″ square film into sixteen 1/2″ x 1/2″ little squares and each piece will still have a complete picture. Each little  square, when illuminated by the laser light will show all the chess pieces just like the picture above, but from different angles, different perspectives.

I see in this the analogy that every believer in the Lord Jesus has a unique perspective on the Lord, a different set of experiences and revelations about Him, that only he or her has seen.  And to get the total picture of our Lord, then it takes all of the stories of all the saints (God calls all believers saints) to complete the portrait of Jesus.

As the end of John’s gospel says, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”


The images and ideas for this article were borrowed from my long-time friend and Ga. Tech. college mate, Rod Nave, from his popular web site that describes all of the many areas of physics: Hyperphysics of Georgia State University.  They are used by his permission.

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