Friday, October 30, 2015

Vital Way Christian Families Should Do Halloween (In Houston and Beyond)


GOT TO HOUSTON YESTERDAY, JUST IN TIME FOR MORE TORRENTIAL RAINS AND HALLOWEEN.  I have to admit,  Halloween has never been my favorite cup of tea.  But with the Gs,  I buck up a bit.  Anyway, orange is one of my favorite colors, especially with denim. And homemade pumpkin pies are everyone's favorite.

How should Christians do Halloween, if at all? It's a great question which Mike Hamilton asks and answers at PJMedia today in an elegant way:  We do it like we do the rest of life by asking the same important question---Does this celebrate the culture of Life or death? In a culture inundated with death masking as glamor and freedom, this question and the discernment required is not optional.

Some highlights of Hamilton's wise piece:

A critical question that accompanies much of what our kids watch, read, see, and hear–and how they dress up on Halloween–is, “Does this belong to a culture of life, or a culture of death?”

Our reason for asking this question is simply that our family belongs to the former. In many ways our society celebrates that which “is passing away”–things like materialism, lust, and fame. These are hopeless substitutes for people who have hitched their life’s meaning to its own star, which, like every human’s, is fast falling to the grave.

Biblical Christians regard “the grave” not as the next step, but as a step backward–the just reward for sinful creatures (which my wife and I definitely are). As Christ-followers our family celebrates the new life God has given us. On Halloween our culture asks, “Isn’t this dead, hopeless, rotting, trapped, terrified, terrifying figure funny?” Our family instead celebrates life by asking, with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

We don’t assume that every 11-year-old with a “Scream” mask consciously celebrates the culture of death. More likely, he has no idea what narrative he is wrapped up in. Dark though the grave is, it serves as a setting for some of the world’s greatest stories, from biblical truth to Medieval epics to the canon of Greek and Roman mythology, which we delightedly teach our children. The walking dead figure prominently in more recent classics we will read with our kids–“The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and even “Harry Potter.”

Over each narrative looms our question: culture of life, or culture of death?

Our kids pick up on these distinctions: “Dad, there was a skeleton on the Magic School Bus today, but it was for science.” Science is good. So is history. Soon our kids will associate October 31 with religious-historical markers, such as All Hallows’ Eve, and the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Meanwhile, we will happily dress them up (usually as heroes), take them begging on Halloween–and talk with them. So leave your light on. 

So, Yes!  Please leave your lights on in West University.  We'll most likely be coming by rain or shine. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Links With Russian Cavier


First, I've never been a big fan of Marco Rubio. Think he's too young and not seasoned enough to be president. Yesterday, Michael Walsh writing at PJMedia wrote a take-down of Rubio with all the reasons conservative voters should be wary of him. Entitled Marco Rubio the GOP's Very Own Barack Obama, it's well, well worth a read or re-read.

Second,  I recently  linked on my sidebar to a Russian news site called RT.  Today, there's a featured news story of cops apprehending a Russian speeding hearse  illegally transporting and concealing a huge stash of black cavier (without the cold vodka).  Cavier-filled coffins?  Nice try, fellows, but no cigar.

Third,  here's a local Nashville story I find interesting and wickedly politically incorrect involving Tennessee State University, a predominantly black university, being criticized by a former black Metro Councilman undoubtedly speaking truth to power in the face of protest.  Good for Mr. Jerry  Maynard.

Fourth, Stuart Scheiderman @ Had Enough Therapy asks and correctly answers the question, What's Wrong With This Text?

Sunday, October 25, 2015


HAVE I REALLY BEEN TOO BUSY TO BE ON THE COMPUTER FOR OVER A WEEK?? THIS WOULD BE UNHEARD OF 5 YEARS AGO. I have been keeping up on my phone a little bit, however. What an incredible, incredible week it's been! Now I'm trying to catch up with myself on many different levels, which may take a while. Thanks for coming by.

Also, we had an amazing day in Chancery Court this week.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday, Simplicity In Christ With Pastor Mike Atkins


BELOW IS ANOTHER WONDERFUL SERMON FROM PASTOR MIKE ATKINS. The enemy is always at work to corrupt our simplicity in Christ, attempting to make it complex and confusing.  Satan loves to whisper, God didn't really say that...if you do what I say, you will be like gods.....

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hiking Holston Mountain



I love to hike this mountain because of the 1,000-2,000' elevation gains in only a few miles of trail makes for a terrific workouts.  No better preparation for trial stuff than engaging high trails in the mountains.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coming Soon to Nashville Courts--Erin Andrews In Circuit Court (Naked Peephole Video, Feb) and Webutante in Chancery Court (Oct, Nov) Against Abe's Garden


ERIN'S PEEPHOLE CASE AGAINST MARRIOTT SHOULD BE INTERESTING.  I'd be furious too.  Almost as furious as if someone seized your precious land and all semblance of privacy with it, making a peephole as big as the sky.

Next Tuesday morning in Chancery Court we get rolling again in the case against Abe's Garden at a  hearing.  Stay tuned. It will be interesting.

Both of these cases, ironically, started in 2008.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sunday: Two Serious Misconceptions About Divine Wrath


THERE MAY BE NO THEOLOGICAL TOPIC more controversial than divine wrath. While most of humanity is eager to acknowledge the existence of God, and while most love to acknowledge his traits of grace and mercy and kindness, very few want to acknowledge his wrath. Yet wrath is a consistent theme in the Bible and a defining characteristic of the God we meet in its pages. Divine wrath suffers when we fail to understand it aright. Here are two serious, common misconceptions.

The first misconception is that God’s wrath is cruel. Too many people associate God’s wrath with human anger which, indeed, is often arbitrary and mean. The truth is that God’s wrath is always the wrath of God as Judge. Thus, God’s wrath is always a measured, just, judicial wrath.

According to J.I. Packer, “the explicit presupposition of all that we find in the Bible … on the torments of those who experience the fullness of God’s wrath is that each receives precisely what he deserves. ‘The day of God’s wrath’, Paul tells us, is also the day ‘when his righteous judgment will be revealed.’ And in that day ‘God will give to each person according to what he has done’ (Romans 2:5ff).” Just as our justice systems dole out punishments fitting for particular crimes, Jesus himself taught that God’s retribution will be proportionate to the individual and his offense (see Luke 12:47ff) .

Of course that is precisely why God’s wrath is so fearsome. No one will suffer beyond what he deserves. But what he deserves is unspeakably terrible. “If it is asked: can disobedience to our Creator really deserve great and grievous punishment? anyone who has ever been convicted of sin knows beyond any shadow of doubt that the answer is yes, and knows too that those whose consciences have not yet been awaked to consider, as Anselm put it, ‘how weighty sin is’ are not yet qualified to give an opinion.” God will serve as Judge and will judge justly.

The second misconception is that God’s wrath is something God inflicts upon ignorant, innocent people. This misconception teaches that God inflicts hell upon people who would have chosen God if only they had the option or the appropriate understanding. But
God’s wrath in the Bible is something which people choose for themselves. Before hell is an experience inflicted by God, it is a state for which a person himself opts, by retreating from the light which God shines in his heart to lead him to himself. … The decisive act of judgment upon the lost is the judgment which they pass upon themselves, by rejecting the light that comes to them in and through Jesus Christ. In the last analysis, all that God does subsequently in judicial action towards the unbeliever, whether in this life or beyond it, is to show him, and lead him into, the full implications of the choice he has made.
Packer goes on to say, “Nobody stands under the wrath of God save those who have chosen to do so. The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give people what they choose in all its implications: nothing more, and equally nothing less. God’s readiness to respect human choice to this extent may appear disconcerting and even terrifying, but it is plain that his attitude here is supremely just, and poles apart from the wanton and irresponsible inflicting of pain which is what we mean by cruelty.” And then he provides this memorable line: “What God is hereby doing is no more than to ratify and confirm judgments which those whom he ‘visits’ have already passed on themselves by the course they have chosen to follow.”
God is not cruel in his wrath. He is not arbitrary. And his wrath will never extend to the ignorant or innocent. He will apportion his wrath with perfect fairness upon those who have chosen to face it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Peggy Noonan Nails It In Latest Column: Shows of Strength From Trump and Putin

THIS IS A TERRIFIC PIECE BY NOONAN and well worth a read to the very end. Whatever you think of Trump and Putin,  both comport themselves as strong leaders.  And there's a definite attraction to that that can't be denied or taken away:


 Donald Trump has entered his second act. His polls, sometimes characterized as weakening, are in fact strong. As Bloomberg’s John Heilemann said on “Morning Joe,” if Jeb Bush had Mr. Trump’s numbers everyone would declare the race over.

This week Quinnipiac had Mr. Trump solidly leading his GOP rivals in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A national poll from Reuters/Ipsos had Mr. Trump in the lead with 31%, followed by Ben Carson with 17%. Public Policy Polling had Mr. Trump holding steady nationwide since late August, coming in first at 27%. His support is ideologically broad—35% of tea-party voters and 29% of moderates, according to PPP.

He did better among younger voters and among men (31%) than women (23%). Clever people once said of George H.W. Bush that he reminded women of their first husbands. I never thought so, but Mr. Trump would remind some women of a blustery first husband, or a loudmouth uncle holding forth at Thanksgiving while hogging the sweet potatoes. He continues with high negatives. But for all the dopey, damaging dramas he’s gotten himself into the past few months he’s maintained his position.

Imagine if he’d been disciplined.

The first act was “I’m Here and I’m Yuge.” Now Act II: “I Mean It and I’m Staying.”

He has unveiled a tax plan and come forward as a family man with a seven-page spread in People. He’s emerged as a noninterventionist on the Mideast—“Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. . . . Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?” He apparently has decided to stop certain media wars.

To me the virtue of his tax plan is that I can understand it. A friend said, “It’s a total rip-off of Jeb’s plan!” It probably is. But Trump explained Trump’s plan, so people paid attention, and Jeb explained Jeb’s, so they didn’t. Mr. Trump’s economic policies seem to come from indignation—the poor need a break, the rich have a racket. Jeb’s seem to come from a desire for good government. In the current climate indignation beats good government every time.

 More than any candidate Mr. Trump has to hold on to what he has and grow out—steadily—from there. Everyone has to do that, but he most of all because he has to prove every day that he’s not a passing aberration, a wigged-out expression of voter rage. Here is a mystery question. Mr. Trump has been the Republican front-runner for three months. The first voting, in Iowa, is in just more than three and a half months. If Mr. Trump does well in the early contests—if he retains his lead and it starts to look like he can really win the nomination—then at some point it will come down, sharply, to him versus the party establishment. And that establishment, such as it is, will presumably try to kill him. The question: What will that look like? We’ve never seen that before. What will it be to have a party establishment try to kill the guy who’s No. 1 in that party’s polls?

Maybe they think they’ll have golden oppo, but opposition research doesn’t really work on Mr. Trump, mostly because no one has illusions of probity about him. His supporters don’t think he’s a sweet, sinless businessman. They love it that he’s not. The wisdom now, and it’s not stupid, is that as time passes the field will narrow. More candidates will drop out, voters will begin to coalesce behind other front-runners, and suddenly one of them will be polling at 27% or 32%. Various powers will throw their weight behind front-runner No. 2 or 3 or 4. But this year has reminded us to expect the unexpected. Maybe not enough candidates will drop out to make a difference. Maybe the splintered field stays splintered. How then do you stop Mr. Trump? Maybe—again—only Trump stops Trump

The second strongman is Vladimir Putin of Russia, who made a striking impression in a revealing 100-minute interview with Charlie Rose. It took place last month in Mr. Putin’s residence near Moscow, and ran Sept. 27 on “60 Minutes” and in its entirety on Mr. Rose’s PBS show. I speak frequently to those who know or have met Mr. Putin, and the Rose interview captured the individual the most insightful of them have described.

Mr. Putin was confident in his command of information, clever, at times droll, sometimes insistent. He posited himself as a friend of world stability. Russia is in Syria to keep it from becoming what Libya is, a nation in which “all the state institutions are disintegrated.” The Syrian government of Bashar Assad has “the one legitimate conventional army,” and “I want you and your audience to finally realize that no one except for the Assad army is fighting ISIS and other terrorist groups now in Syria.” U.S. efforts have been wanting: “It has to be said frankly this is a very low level of effectiveness. I’m not trying to be sarcastic here. I’m not trying to call someone out or to point fingers.”

Mr. Rose asked if Mr. Putin saw ISIS as a unique terrorist organization. “Well yes, it’s turned into a unique organization because it has become global. Indeed they have the aim to build a caliphate from Portugal to Pakistan.” They are not the jayvee team.

Is he exploiting a vacuum in American leadership? No, said Mr. Putin, he’s trying to prevent a vacuum where the government of Syria should be. “As soon as government agencies are destroyed in a given state . . . that’s when a power vacuum occurs. And at that moment it will be instantly filled by terrorists.” Is Mr. Putin driven by a desire to have Russia play a bigger role in the world? “I’m proud of Russia, that’s true,” he said, but such pride is not an end in itself.

Then an oblique slap at the U.S.: “But we don’t have any obsession with being a superpower in the international arena. We’re involved in only one thing, defending our fundamental interest.” Mr. Rose, noting Mr. Putin had been in the KGB, said, “Someone in Russia told me there is no such thing as a former KGB man.” “You know, not a single stage of our lives passes without a trace,” said Mr. Putin. “All this knowledge we acquire, all the experience, will always remains with us and we carry it further and will use it somewhere. Well, in a sense they are right.”

Asked what he thinks of President Obama, he deflected—coolly. “I don’t think I’m entitled to give any views regarding the president of the United States. . . . Our relations are businesslike. I believe that’s quite sufficient to comply with our functions.”

 Do Mr. Obama’s foreign policy actions “reflect a weakness”? “I don’t think so at all,” said Mr. Putin. “I don’t think that’s the case and I don’t intend to get involved in a domestic American skirmish.”

One got the impression he wished it understood that he doesn’t outfox weaklings, he only beats champs. It was in its way Trumpesque.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On the Fringe of Trendy Nashville, Real Guys Gather for Informal Community On the Fringe of Town


THEY'RE THE GOOD GUYS AND KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT MOST EVERYTHING THAT GOES ON HERE. They bring their chairs in pick-up trucks to sit in front of Drew's Market and talk about everything.  They're all down-home conservatives too.

Though they asked me to join them in their make-shift circle of tall  tales, as usual,  I was trying to get back to White Bluff before the traffic on I-40 West got too bad.  Maybe some other day soon though.  Would have loved to have talked about what they think of The Donald, the Iran nuclear deal and gun control---Ha!  As if I didn't know.....

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Satan's Subtle Art of Destruction--My Dear Wormwood

By Burk Parsons @ Desiring God

IN RECENT MONTHS,  I have found myself reflecting on twenty years of ministry in the church. 

The reflection has inspired me to ponder future years of ministry, if God should sustain me in it. The lessons he continues to teach me are, I believe, not only for pastors and those engaged in vocational ministry, but for all Christians. It is my hope to offer some of these lessons and cautions in a way that is similar to how C.S. Lewis offered his concerns in The Screwtape Letters.

Lewis wrote through the lens of the fictitious Uncle Screwtape, a senior demon who mentored his nephew, Wormwood, in order to tempt and destroy Wormwood’s Christian patient. While we can rest assured that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) — he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4) — we also know that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). So, I offer the following thoughts to the end that you would not be outwitted by Satan, or be ignorant of his schemes, as you fix your eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:1).

My Dear Wormwood

First, encourage your patient to make a name for himself and build his own kingdom. Inspire him to believe his own press — fondle every good thing he hears about himself and his ministry, especially flattery. It shouldn’t be too hard, since we have almost won the battle on this front. It is almost universally accepted now that Christians, and especially pastors, should try to make a name for themselves, build their own kingdoms, and cultivate cult-like followings — always commending their own books and ministry activities, praising themselves, and getting others to do so as well. In sum, convince your patient that our Enemy didn’t really mean what it seems when he said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1).

Second, seek to persuade your Christian patient that being cool, dressing cool, talking cool, and acting cool really matters. That just the right hair style and just the right look is what can make the difference in the church and ministry, and that being holy and modest is not cool. Acting, dressing, and speaking in a way that doesn’t bring extra attention to yourself is for ordinary people, for uncool people — in short, for losers.

Third, do everything in your power to keep your patient from regular communion with our Enemy, and convince him that being busy in life and ministry is an acceptable excuse not to spend regular time in prayer. If you can, get him to rationalize that because he offers short prayers to the Enemy throughout the day, he doesn’t need to have a dedicated and disciplined time of prayer. And if you can get him to the point where he tells people he prayed for them, without actually praying for them, even better.

Fourth, our Enemy calls himself the “chief shepherd,” and he has called our patient to be a shepherd — a pastor — but you must get this notion out of his head. The Enemy has called him to shepherding, and we must distract him from it. If possible, cause him to despise mundane work. Convince him that he only needs to be a “pulpiteer” or talking head — not a shepherd. Convince him that “preacher” is a legitimate office in the church, and that the daily hard work of pastoring is something from which he can graduate with just a little bit of ministry success. Get him to think that he can someday move beyond dealing with little things and little people in life and ministry.

Fifth, use every scheme available to you to help your patient rationalize the sins in his life that no one sees. Get him to think that keeping up appearances is what matters — not guarding his heart, not caring about what he does when he is alone, or not considering how he treats his wife. Convince him that his public Christianity, his public ministry, is really just a stage play. Convince him that he’s an actor and that he simply needs to act holy, humble, loving, and repentant. He needs to act like he really prays for people, act like he really cares about people’s problems, and act like he is passionate for the Enemy. If you can do all this, you have him right where you want. Get him to think he doesn’t have to examine his heart and that all he has to worry about is not getting caught in secret sin. After all, he’s one of the Enemy’s “special ones,” so he thinks, and too big and important to fall. Rationalization guarantees our long-term success in this regard.

Sixth, persuade him that the ordinary Christian life and the radical Christian life are mutually exclusive, and that he needs to choose a side. Convince him that ordinary is boring and that radical is excessive. Convince him that being ordinary is beneath him, and then convince him that being passionate is amateurish. Thus, leave him slightly bewildered and vacillating. In the end, convince him that he needs to act like and look like the world in order to fit in with the world and win the world. Obscure from him the truth that a radically ordinary life is a great threat to our purpose and mission.

Seventh, convince him that grace is for other people, but not for himself — that grace is for really bad people, but not for pastors. Make him pompous so that he not only thinks he has all the grace he needs from God, but also that he is above receiving grace from others — particularly those he serves. Persuade him to stop fighting for joy in his life, to stop praying for joy, and to think that God doesn’t care if he is joyful because, after all, life is hard and full of complexities and miseries. Be sure to help him realize that not to be joyful is actually a way to trick people into thinking that he is really quite holy and wise.

Friday, October 2, 2015