Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mark 1: 1-11

THE GOSPEL OF MARK HITS THE GROUND RUNNING IN TELLING THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST.  The first chapter alone is so chocked full of Jesus life and miracles, it could almost stand alone in showing Christ's deity, if there were nothing else Of course there is much, much more. For that we can be eternally grateful.

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (See Isaiah 40:3)

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

News Flash! He's Not Dead Yet Former Dem TN Governor Phil Bredesen Is Running For Napoleon's Senate Seat

WHAT CAN I SAY except it's now ONLY a two person race for Napoleon's seat in the Senate between Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former governor (and Nashville mayor) Phil Bredesen?  It will be quite a horse race since Phil is very rich and can self-fund his campaign.  But is he too old and over the hill politically?  He will flat out carry liberal Nashville, but past that,  only time will tell Phil won't get my vote or much of anyone in the country....

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Billy Swan On Roy Moore, John Conyers et al Theme Song

GREAT OLD SONG....Who knew---Every child needs a daddy...I got two strong arms....

That was then, back in the early days of the sexual revolution. Who knew it would all come to this...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Supermoon Rising With Clouds In the Country

Advent: Piper On The Long-Awaited Miraculous Visitation Prophesied Over a Thousand Years Earlier


“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” (Luke 1:68–71)
Notice two remarkable things from these words of Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, in Luke 1.

First, nine months earlier, Zechariah could not believe his wife would have a child. Now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming Messiah that he puts it in the past tense: “he has visited and redeemed his people.” For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done. Zechariah has learned to take God at his word and so has a remarkable assurance: God “has visited and redeemed!” (Luke 1:68)
Second, the coming of Jesus the Messiah is a visitation of God to our world: The God of Israel has visited and redeemed. For centuries, the Jewish people had languished under the conviction that God had withdrawn: the spirit of prophecy had ceased; Israel had fallen into the hands of Rome. And all the godly in Israel were awaiting the visitation of God. Luke tells us that another old man, the devout Simeon, was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Likewise, the prayerful Anna was “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

These were days of great expectation. Now the long-awaited visitation of God was about to happen — indeed, he was about to come in a way no one expected.

Listen to the devotional @ Desiring God


The Back Story of Zechariah, his wife Elizabeth and the miraculous birth of John the Baptist:

 Answer: Zechariah (also called Zacharias or Zachariah) was a priest from the tribe of Levi who served the Lord during the reign of Herod in Judea. Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, was also a descendant of Aaron, and the Bible says they were godly, devout people (Luke 1:5–6). When the Bible begins their story in Luke 1, they are both old and childless (verse 7), although they had prayed for children.

Luke 1:8–9 records that it was Zechariah’s turn to enter the temple and burn incense as part of his priestly duties. This was a once-in-a-lifetime honor. While Zechariah was in the holy place, the angel Gabriel appeared to him “standing at the right side of the altar of incense” (verse 11). Gabriel told Zechariah that his prayers had been answered. God had chosen him and Elizabeth to bear a son who would be the forerunner of the promised Messiah (verses 13–17). They were to name him John, and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit and dedicated to the Lord’s service even before birth.

But Zechariah doubted the angel’s words, and he reminded Gabriel, “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Because of his lack of faith, Zechariah was struck mute until the time when his son would be born (verse 20). When Zechariah exited the temple, he stood before the crowd unable to speak. From his gestures, the people understood that he had seen a vision while in the temple (verse 22).

Zechariah returned home, and Elizabeth became pregnant, just as the angel had said. When she was in her sixth month, the angel Gabriel also appeared to Mary, her relative, and told Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus (Luke 1:30–31). Mary went right away to spend time with Elizabeth, where she received further confirmation of the angel’s words: at the sound of Mary’s voice, the baby John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb (verse 41). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! . . . Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (verses 42 and 45).

When Elizabeth gave birth to her son, the friends and relatives assumed he would be named after his father, Zechariah. But Zechariah made motions asking for writing tools, and when he received them he wrote, “His name is John” (Luke 1:63). Immediately, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he praised God for His redemption (verse 68), for His faithfulness to His promises (verses 69–73), and for His salvation (verse 74). Zechariah then prophesied concerning his son, John: “You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him” (verse 76). Zechariah closed out his inspired utterance by returning to the messianic theme, praising God for His “tender mercy” and anticipating the Christ: “The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (verses 78–79).

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby grew up to be the man we know as John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1). The repentance John preached prepared people’s hearts for faith in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Supermoon Sunday, Sensational Moon Rising Tonight

Remember this from long ago?

Friday, December 1, 2017

In Spite of the Mueller News Hype Regarding Flynn, It's Still a Dud, A Tempest In a Teapot


THIS MUELLER MADNESS MAY BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST BOONDOGGLES OF MY LIFETIME. Try as I might, I simply cannot find one iota of evidence that the Trump campaign did anything wrong. Time will obviously tell, however. Glad other writers/pundits far, far wiser than I have come up with the same conclusion after reading Mueller's complaint against Michael Flynn:

 John Hinderaker at Powerline blog writes:

NEWS MEDIA are breathlessly reporting that Gen. Michael Flynn has agreed to plead guilty to lying to the FBI. You can read the Statement of the Offense here. The false statements alleged by the government seem rather pathetic: 1) Flynn falsely told an FBI agent that he didn’t ask the Russian ambassador to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions” the U.S. had just imposed, and 2) that he didn’t recall the ambassador subsequently telling him that the Russians had moderated their response per his request; 3) Flynn falsely said that he didn’t ask the Russian ambassador to delay or defeat a pending U.N. Security Council resolution, and 4) that the ambassador never subsequently described his country’s response to that request. (Flynn tried, unsuccessfully, to convince several members of the Security Council, including Russia, not to proceed with an anti-Israel resolution. This is to his, and President Trump’s, credit.)

That’s it, after a year of huffing and puffing. Nothing about the election, nothing about the long-awaited “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia. I have no idea why Flynn apparently lied to an FBI agent, assuming that he did. But the communications described in the information are exactly the sorts of contacts that a national security advisor to an incoming president should be having with foreign powers.

In short, the allegations against Flynn suggest that Robert Mueller has nothing significant against President Trump or other members of his administration. 

The press, of course, is gleeful. ABC‘s headline blares, “Flynn Prepared To Testify Against Trump, Trump Family, White House Staff.” Really? Testify to what?
Here's Mueller's statement of Flynn's offense.

Andrew McCarthy weighs in:
For all the furor, we have a small-potatoes plea in Flynn’s case — just as we did in Papadopoulos’s case, despite extensive “collusion” evidence. Meanwhile, the only major case Mueller has brought, against former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an associate, has nothing to do with the 2016 election. It is becoming increasingly palpable that, whatever “collusion” means, there was no actionable, conspiratorial complicity by the Trump campaign in the Kremlin’s machinations.
Finally, Ed Rogers writing today in the WaPo says Flynn's plea doesn't prove collusion, and the Dem's collusion outrage is running out of steam:
Friday morning’s guilty plea from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is a major disappointment for Democrats. Flynn admitting to having made false statements is nowhere near where the Democrats want this to go. Of course, the story is big and the fact that a former White House official has been charged with anything and pleaded guilty is consequential, but it doesn’t suggest any collusion occurred and it doesn’t even get close to confirming that Donald Trump or his campaign was somehow complicit in a nefarious scheme. Democrats are already straining themselves trying to suggest that Flynn’s plea is just the beginning and that there is more to come. But as far as Flynn is concerned, that is unlikely. It is just wishful thinking on their part. It’s not as though he pleaded guilty only to leave unresolved matters for later. Commentators are saying Flynn’s plea couldn’t come at a worse time for the president. As Republicans are on the brink of passing this administration’s most important legislative initiative with the GOP-led tax reform bill, some in the media have gone so far as to suggest Flynn’s admission of guilt may disrupt the tax bill’s vote count in Congress. Well, a note to the political geniuses in the liberal mainstream media: There isn’t one Republican member of Congress thinking, “Gee, Flynn pleaded guilty to something or another. Maybe I won’t vote for a tax cut.” It just doesn’t work that way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Matt Lauer Interviews Bill O'Reilly--Then Fired From Fox--With A Straight Face


OH BROTHER, is this interview ever interesting and ironic. Here's the unvarnished latest on the Matt Lauer sexual improprieties and allegations.

Had heard rumors over the last few years of his possible affair with a co-worker. But then it all disappeared, until now. I confess, I haven't watched the Today Show in at least two decades and maybe three. Just don't watch daytime TV.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pastor John Piper Answers: Did Public Controversy Over 'The Nashville Statement' Hurt the Cause?


Part of Piper's Audio Transcript follows:

We now get over 1,200 emails a month from listeners. Thank you — please keep them coming in. And of course we got a few emails relating to the Nashville Statement, which was a public document you signed, Pastor John, on human sexuality. But we actually only got ten emails about the statement in total, and most of those emails were sympathetic. By far, the most articulate pushback came from a listener named Amy in this email. “Hello, Pastor John, thank you for this podcast! I’m sure you’re aware of the criticisms surrounding the Nashville Statement, released back in August from outside the church but also from within the evangelical world, too. It created quite a stir. I know of faithful, orthodox, reformed church planters and pastors working in larger metropolitan contexts who find this statement unhelpful, even as the document contains affirmations and denials that are completely true, biblical, and agreeable to them. It seems to be a matter of two related questions: (1) Is hot-topic orthodoxy, announced and affirmed in the wide-open public realm, appropriate in a ‘casting pearls before swine’ kind of way? and (2) Is it helpful or harmful for outreach to draw public lines in the sand over ideology, which, at worst, is seen as politically motivated by the world, or is at least something that adds a new wall of separation between the Christians in a local church from the liberal, unbelieving neighbors they are trying to reach within a neighborhood, first through relationship building? I hope this makes sense. Do either questions concern you?”

Maybe just a response to each of her two questions. I hear two questions in the second, so maybe three things to respond to even though there is so much more that could be said. I’ll just mention that at the end maybe. She’s asked her two questions; I’ll try to be faithful to those two questions rather than talking about things that I would like to talk about as well. There are so many criticisms and so many things that need to be said.

Preach Pearls

Yes, the questions do concern me because all questions that relate to serious dissensions among brothers and sisters concern me. First, I don’t think Jesus’s statement in Matthew 7:6 — “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” — was intended by Jesus to limit the public preaching of the whole counsel of God. Think with me about that for just a minute.....

Read or listen to the whole answer.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fabulous Weather For Hiking and Being Outdoors

SURE THE DAYS ARE SHORT AND GETTING SHORTER FOR ABOUT ANOTHER MONTH.  But the daylight we do have right now is simply glorious. It's too good to pass up and stay inside.   We had a wonderful day yesterday on our mountain property.  And a good time was had by all.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tremendous Gratitude on Thanksgiving

WHETHER IT'S TURKEY AND DRESSING or my all time favorite of wild quail sauteed in butter with wild rice and  sides of oyster dressing, tomato aspic, fresh asparagus and baked fruit,  whether you gather with a cast of thousands, only a few or even at a cafeteria,  it's a wonderful day to be grateful for our multitudinous blessings truly too numerous to count.

My ultimate gratitude is to Almighty God who has provided every bit of this.  My secondary gratitude goes to family and friends near and far.  This year, my daughter is happily near, but my son and his family are now living in Paris, France.  I am grateful that they wanted to fly me over for this most American holiday but I had to demur for now until the holidays are past and the days start getting longer. 

Meanwhile, my daughter is making her fabulous homemade mayonnaise with other things and a ham and turkey are being prepared at this moment by others.  This year,  I am doing non-starchy vegetables like roasted french green beans, grilled radicchio with roma tomatoes. I love seductive color on the plate.

I much prefer the day of Thanksgiving to Christmas---which has simply gotten grossly out of hand.  The older I get, the more gratitude I seem to have----for everything.

I also try to eat and drink differently now.  For decades I would eat far too much food, far too many starchy and surgery dishes, then feel catatonic and exhausted afterwards--- often needing to nap for several hours.  Today,  I've learned how to eat and drink for maximum, sustained energy  so I don't get that food and sugar hangover like I used to. Thank you, Mark's Daily Apple.

Need to stay fit and energized to take a group with our loggers up on our mountain property outside McMinnville.  We've finally almost finished a road to the top after so much rain over the past three years. The town mayor and historian are going with us and it promises to be a beautiful and warm day. 

Thank you so much for coming by here.  I pray that each and every visitor is blessed beyond all measure by God who gives us hope in this world and the next!  God bless America!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

One of the Bible's First Sexual Scandals---Abram, Sarai and Pharaoh In Genesis 12

HERE IN Genesis 12, we have the story of Abram, a married man chosen of God to one day be the father of a vast and great nation of God's people, succumb to fear and order his beautiful wife Sarai---then in her 70s---to pretend she's not really his wife but merely his sister when they enter the land of Egypt. Abram was trying to protect himself from being murdered by Pharaoh's men whom he feared would take Sarai for a wife and kill him if the Egyptians knew 'The Abrams' were married.

Did Pharaoh take Sarai and sleep with her?  Did Pharaoh expose himself against her will?  Did Sarai acquiesce in order to obey her real husband?  It's highly likely that all of this did happen.

In return, Pharaoh paid Abram in livestock for the company and companionship of his 'sister.' That is until God stepped in and interrupted this little ungodly peccadillo by punishing Pharaoh. Finally, it dawned on the head of Egypt that something was amiss and he returned Sarai to her rightful husband and ordered them to leave that land....but wait!  There's more sexual scandal with Sarai coming next Sunday with far reaching consequences.

Here Moses writes of this early Biblical scandal with Pharaoh in Genesis 12:

NOW THERE WAS A FAMINE in the land of Caanan. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife.
18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Turkeys at Montgomery Bell S.P.

THERE WERE ABOUT 25 TURKEYS IN THE ROAD WHEN I CAME UPON THEM. As I got out of the car to photograph them with my phone, they ever so quietly and quickly scattered into small little gaggles....or little flocks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Roy Moore Needs to Go...And Other Assorted Misfits Like Sen. Bob Corker and Carrie Underwood

NO QUESTION ABOUT IT,  JUDGE ROY MOORE NEEDS TO GO.  NOW.  How many more women who were assaulted and sexually pressured as teenagers by thirty-something Moore need to come forward?  I can't bear to hear anymore.  Truly. Case closed.  This man needs to disappear and find another calling , somewhere far, far out of the spotlight.

And while I'm at it,  Senator Bob Corker has completely fallen from grace here in Tennessee.  He's played the arrogant, narcissist swamp card once too many.  Time to go back to Chattanooga where he was a  successful mayor for a while.

Finally,  Carrie Underwood was completely out of her league (and being used) when she wagged her finger at our president during the CMA awards recently.  So puerile and inappropriate.  She's lost my good will and admiration.  Too many outfits, too much success and too little gray matter for me.

Factors in My Blogging Less

IT'S BEEN ALMOST 18 MONTHS SINCE I MOVED OUT OF NASHVILLE and into a good friend's guest quarters outside White Bluff, Tennessee. We are great friends and housemates. In addition, we are in a totally on the up-and-up relationship. It's great fun most of the time, economical and safe for living in the country. I never, ever want to move back into the city, and fortunately, to this point, am very welcome in the quarters I inhabit ( though we all know, living with other humanoids is often stressful.) I own a lot in a development nearby that I could build on. Nothing interests me less.

But here's the thing:  I have to listen to WSM am really loud from the time my housemate wakes up until I leave---flee---the house.  No amount of closed doors between us muffles the sounds completely.  Early morning is when I pray, used to think and blog.  At this point,  I often feel mentally frazzled,  before the sun comes up.  Some people love background noise and music all the time, others, like me,  love the sound of silence.  I don't understand the need for so much noise.  Silent, is where  creativity and gratefulness emerge for me.

The other thing is that my smart phone is taking the place of my computer which often lies fallow in the midst of early morning country music.  I now do quick Internet  surveys of my favorite sites on my phone.  I sometimes drop a quick comment from my phone, then flee the house to the gym, grocery store or  post office.

All this adds up to a loss of ability and interest in writing, thinking and blogging.  I don't like it---it's definitely a new and different chapter in my life, for better or   worse---as I weigh the pros and cons of living in community, albeit it louder community, as the days and months of winter move on.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday: Hebrews 11, Faith and Desiring A Better Country

HEBREWS 11:1-16 English Standard Version (ESV) 

1 NOW FAITH IS the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

 English Standard Version (ESV)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Luke's Acts of the Apostles, An Overview

SNL Hits Its Lowest Point Ever Last Night

I AND WE ALMOST NEVER WATCH SNL ANYMORE, though occasionally we turn on the first 5 minutes before switching to  Blue Bloods reruns. It continues to be an unfunny, liberal sledge hammer with Alec Baldwin being as unattractive as anyone I see in entertainment. Last night we did turn on the first few minutes SNL opening monologue after the UT football game. As we watched, I was overcome with incredulity as we watched the unfunny liberal hack Larry David open with a concentration skit about trying to pick up women he might ogle there but having a hard time with opening pick-up lines. It went downhill from there.

Unbelievable.   Astounding poor taste.  Unfunny.  SNL has gone so low as to almost not deserve any comment. I'm glad Drudge has put  the outrage the program spawned last night up this morning.  SNL should apologize profusely.

Truly appalling.

I'll be back with a Sunday post soon.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Space City Weather Congratulates the Astros 5-1 Victory After 51 Inches of Rain With Harvey

Posted by Eric Berger at 6:48 AM

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE HOUSTON ASTROS, the 2017 World Series Champions. This was the team the city of Houston needed after Hurricane Harvey to help lift us up. And what was particularly poignant to me was the final score on Wednesday night, 5 to 1. Hurricane Harvey dropped 51 inches. It’s almost as if this victory was meant to be.

And on top of that, Carlos Correa proposed to his shocked girlfriend! Adorable!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Before the Recent National Anthem Brouha, There Was This Amazing Artist/Singer Doing His Part


THIS WAS UPLOADED LAST YEAR, but I'm just now seeing it. It gives me cold chills. Thanks to Bill J, husband of one of my bestest friends since we were 2, for sending this last night. I visited them last week in Saluda, North Carolina, and we had such a wonderful time. We're true birds of a feather in so many ways.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sunday: An In-Depth Look At Babylon In the Scriptures From Genesis Forward

UPDATE: I CERTAINLY DO NOT AGREE WITH EVERYTHING in the below article. Evangelical Christians talk endlessly about The Second Coming of Christ. They often debate whether the Temple in old Jerusalem will have to be rebuilt or Babylon will rise again before these events will occur. For my part, I don't believe there are any unmet conditions before the Second Coming can or might occur.
IF YOU'VE EVER WONDERED ABOUT THE REAL MEANING OF BABYLON IN SCRIPTURES, or how Babylon compares to Jerusalem in real and symbolic terms,  or whether  the God of the Old Testament favors nationalism or internationalism (One World Government) just to name a few, then sit down and read this amazing commentary on Babylon and so much more by Hampton Keathley.  It's long and not for the casual looker.  However if you're drawn to this,  you will be rewarded with much insight and wisdom on the ancient city that, in many ways,  lives on today.

One of the best commentaries I've read in a very long time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

John Tamny: Stop the Pretense: Fraidy Cat Republicans Aren't Really Cutting Taxes As They Should

"We contend that for a nation to try and tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

---Winston Churchill 

By John Tamny

LAST WEEK Paul Ryan reiterated to Roll Call that a fourth tax bracket meant to penalize the innovators and those who invest in them (the rich) will likely be a part of the Republican tax bill. This was Ryan's way of saying there will be no tax cuts, particularly cuts that will actually have a powerful economic impact. Reductions on the rich do simply because they uniquely have the after-tax funds to invest (and create jobs). After that, Republicans can't have it both ways. They can't correctly point out that the rich pay the majority of taxes, then pretend they're reducing taxes despite leaving intact nosebleed rates on the rich.

The same applies to the alleged corporate tax cuts. If the "highest rate in the industrialized world" doesn't raise a lot of revenue, that's a sign that few (if any) U.S. corporations pay anywhere close to the 35% rate as is. The only bullish aspect of the GOP plan is estate tax repeal, but it's a safe bet that a Party afraid of being associated with the productive and their heirs won't have the courage to follow through. It would be better at this point if nothing passes, as opposed to what isn't a tax cut discrediting future reductions proposal put forward by politicians who can actually see the value of slashing the burden of government.

RealClearMarkets. The article can be found here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

John Calvin, The Reformation's Genius of Geneva


JOHN CALVIN /  1509–1564
In the fall of 1539, John Calvin wrote to Sadoleto, an Italian cardinal seeking to win Geneva back to the Roman Catholic Church: “[Your] zeal for heavenly life [is] a zeal which keeps a man entirely devoted to himself, and does not, even by one expression, arouse him to sanctify the name of God.” He goes on to say that Sadoleto should “set before [man], as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God” (Selections from His Writings, 89).
This would be a fitting banner over all of Calvin’s life and work — zeal to illustrate the glory of God. The essential meaning of Calvin’s life and preaching is that he recovered and embodied a passion for the absolute reality and majesty of God.
Mastered by Majesty 

Calvin was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France, when Martin Luther was 25 years old and had just begun to teach the Bible in Wittenberg. The message and spirit of the Reformation would not reach Calvin for twenty years, and in the meantime he devoted his young adult years to the study of Medieval theology, law, and the classics.

But by 1533, something dramatic had happened in his life through the influence of Reformation teaching. Calvin recounts how he had been struggling to live out the Catholic faith with zeal when “God, by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame. . . . Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with [an] intense desire to make progress.”

Suddenly, Calvin saw and tasted in Scripture the majesty of God. And in that moment, both God and the word of God were so powerfully authenticated to his soul that he became the loving servant of God and his word the rest of his life.
Genevan Pastor

Calvin knew what sort of ministry he wanted. He wanted the enjoyment of literary ease so he could promote the Reformed faith as a scholar. But God had radically different plans.
“The course of his life was irrevocably changed. Never again would Calvin work in what he called the ‘tranquillity of studies.’ From now on, every page of books, sermons, commentaries and letters that he wrote would be hammered out on the anvil of pastoral responsibility.
After escaping from Paris and finally leaving France entirely, Calvin intended to go to Strasbourg for a life of peaceful literary production. But while Calvin was staying the night in Geneva, William Farel, the fiery leader of the Reformation in that city, found out he was there and sought him out. It was a meeting that changed the course of history, not just for Geneva, but for the world. Calvin remembers,
Farel, who burned with an extraordinary zeal to advance the gospel, immediately learned that my heart was set upon devoting myself to private studies, … and finding that he gained nothing by entreaties, he proceeded to utter an imprecation that God would curse my retirement, and the tranquillity of the studies which I sought, if I should withdraw and refuse to give assistance, when the necessity was so urgent. By this imprecation I was so stricken with terror, that I desisted from the journey which I had undertaken.
The course of his life was irrevocably changed. Never again would Calvin work in what he called the “tranquillity of studies.” From now on, every page of the 48 volumes of books and tracts and sermons and commentaries and letters that he wrote would be hammered out on the anvil of pastoral responsibility. For the next 28 years (apart from a two-year hiatus), Calvin gave himself to expositing the word — to displaying the majesty of God in Scripture to his Genevan flock.

Glory Recovered 

The need for the Reformation was fundamentally this: Rome had “destroyed the glory of Christ in many ways” (Portrait of Calvin, 9). The reason, according to Calvin, the church was “carried about with so many strange doctrines” was “because the excellence of Christ is not perceived by us.” In other words, the great guardian of biblical orthodoxy throughout the centuries is a passion for the glory and the excellency of God in Christ.

The issue is not, first, the well-known sticking points of the Reformation: justification, priestly abuses, transubstantiation, prayers to saints, and papal authority. Beneath all of them — at stake in them all for Calvin — was the fundamental issue of whether the glory of God was shining in its fullness, or was somehow being diminished. From the beginning of his ministry to the end of his life, his guiding star in vision was the centrality and supremacy and majesty of the glory of God.

Unlocking the Treasures of Scripture 

Geerhardus Vos has argued that this focus on the glory of God is the reason the Reformed tradition succeeded more fully than the Lutheran tradition in “mastering the rich content of the Scriptures.” Both had “cast themselves on the Scriptures.” But there was a difference:

Because Reformed theology took hold of the Scriptures in their deepest root idea, it was in a position to work through them more fully from this central point and to let each part of their content come to its own. This root idea which served as the key to unlock the rich treasures of the Scriptures was the preeminence of God’s glory in the consideration of all that has been created.

The true genius of Geneva was not the mind of John Calvin, but passion for the glory of God. Every generation needs to unlock the treasures of Scripture for the peculiar perils and possibilities of its own time. Our generation no less than any. I think we will only do this well if we have been profoundly and joyfully mastered by the greatest reality the Scriptures reveal — the majesty of God’s glory.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

General Kelly's Incredible Speech Today

I AM in a motel tonight in Brevard, NC on my way to a church retreat tomorrow and this weekend in Balsam Grove with Mike and Patty Atkins, my pastor and his wife from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Only now have I had time to listen to the full video of General Kelly's fine, fine speech. Since I am posting from my phone, I am not going to try to embed it here tonight. But I urge you, urge every freedom loving patriot to listen to it in full, then get on your knees with me to give thanks that men like General Kelly still exist. Thank God he's in the White House and has Trump's back. The climate of hatefulness for Trump in this country is stunning and horrific. I shall be in prayer this weekend against the powers and principalities of the dark worlds of evil in the heavenlies over our country and especially over Washington, D.C. May God bless and have mercy on America.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cooling Off, Not Quite Fall

STILL,  humidity's down and fall is in the air.  Not a lot of color yet, but a good day to get outside and clear the cobwebs of news from our minds. The mast this year is astronomical. Old timers say it's a sure sign of a severe winter.  They're usually right.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On the Casting Couch With Harvey Weinstein, Waiting for the Next Naive Little Morsel of Piglet


WISH I HAD SOMETHING CLEVER OR INSIGHTFUL TO ADD TO THIS DISGUSTING, DEPRAVED STORY. I don't. I only wonder why more aspiring professional women don't learn the rules of the casting couch---in all professions and walks of life---at much younger ages. They're pretty simple: Keep your clothes on and aspiring body parts inside; stay vertical and at arms length to the object of your aspirations at all times; meet in an office or public place with people around; refuse any private tours of anything, especially of Harvey's 'kitchen,' bedroom, or hotel room; remember, business is never productive for the long haul when alcohol, drugs or physical contact of any kind are involved. Finally, most importantly, too quick, hyper- flattery is not ever about you, really. It's about Big Harvey starting to get hungry and tracking his next mess of slop piglet, so he can then go take a nap in his favorite mud hole.

We should also never forget---it takes two to tango and if you break these rules, you'll need to take responsibility for your side of the equation for enabling The Big, Insatiable Pig you're helping to create and perpetuate.   The call to the casting couch is in all professions and walks of life.  After Harvey, there's a legion of others.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Overlooked In History, Thomas Becon Was An Important Figure In the Reformation In England


THOUGH ALMOST ENTIRELY overlooked in church history, Thomas Becon was a prolific pamphleteer, popular bestseller, and godly cleric in sixteenth-century England during the Reformation. Living through the turbulent reigns of four Tudor monarchs, Becon served under the supervision of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and composed around fifty tracts with numerous subsequent editions that continued to be printed seventy years after his death.

His writings on godliness are relevant and helpful for all Christians, particularly for those who tend to partition their lives into categories of “sacred” and “secular.” Becon, recognizing no such divisions, exhorted Christians in his day to pursue godliness in the rhythms of their daily routines.

After his release, Becon kept a low profile in the forests of Kent, harbored by several evangelical men who were connected to the royal court. During this time, Becon produced numerous tracts under the pseudonym “Theodore Basil” in order to avoid detection from the local authorities. Under even heavier scrutiny and surveillance from the local magistrates at the order of Henry VIII, Becon fled to the Midlands of England, where he hid for four years in the mountains without publishing any works.
When the nine-year-old Edward VI, a friend and defender of the English Reformation, ascended the throne in 1547, Becon emerged from exile and returned to London, where he was appointed a chaplain in the royal court. Around the same time, he became rector of the prestigious parish in London, St. Stephen Walbrook.

With Mary I’s accession to the throne in 1553, however, many evangelicals, including Becon, were arrested. He was eventually released, but taking no risks, he immediately escaped to Strasbourg, where he joined a community of other exiled English evangelicals. From there he relocated to Frankfurt, where he assisted in developing a new liturgy for the English congregation composed of exiles. When Becon returned from the Continent after Elizabeth I came to power, he went through a series of clerical appointments, mostly in London, until his death in 1567.