Saturday, September 21, 2019

Black Conservative Candace Owen Unapologetically Unloads In Congressional Hearing On White Supremacy


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Late


Forth in your name, O Lord, I go, my daily labor to pursue, you only, Lord, resolved to know in all I think or speak or do.

The task your wisdom has assigned here let me cheerfully fulfill; in all my work your presence find, and prove your good and perfect will.

You may I set at my right hand, whose eyes my inmost secrets view, and labor on at your command and offer all my work to you.

Help me to bear your easy yoke, in ev'ry moment watch and pray, and still to things eternal look and hasten to that glorious day.

Then with delight may I employ all that your bounteous grace has given, and run my earthly course with joy, and closely walk with you in heaven.

 (A Hymn-Prayer by Charles Wesley, the great hymn writer of Methodism and younger brother of John Wesley)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday, When NFL Success Doesn't Make You Happy

NOW THAT THE LONG FOOTBALL SEASON IS UPON US,  it's fascinating to read how one NFL player came to terms with a gnawing sense of emptiness and despondency in his successful life and career:

BY AUSTIN CARR @ The Gospel Coalition

Early one morning after a win last season, I sat in my chair during my quiet time with God feeling empty and despondent.

It was odd to be feeling this way because the team was rolling, I was getting good on-the-field experience, and the likelihood of a playoff run was climbing. After some prayer, it became clear that I was unhappy with my individual performance.

My role in the previous game had been mostly the blocking that goes unnoticed and scores you few high-fives from teammates on the sidelines. If only I had scored last night—or at least made a big catch—then I’d be happy, I thought to myself.

In my heart, I had dethroned God and put career success in his place. Achievement on the football field had become my functional idol. I couldn’t point to the moment or day that this became true, but my frustrated mood was clear evidence that God needed to do some heavy lifting in my heart to reorient its affections to orbit around Christ again.

Flame of Worship

The pull of idolatry on our hearts is stronger than we’d like to think. The world stokes the flame of worship for all gods except the one true God.

In my younger days, a teammate shared that the name brand Adidas stood for All Day I Dream About Sports. That turned out to be false—Adidas is named for founder Adi Dassler—but I’m convinced the Adidas acronym actually diagnoses the natural bent of every passionate athlete who loves the game he or she plays. This is a tragedy!

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller defines idolatry: “What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

The marketing campaigns in the sports-entertainment industry call me to give more of my heart’s affection and mind’s imagination to sports, sports, and more sports. Whether it’s the 24/7 Watch ESPN app or the Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket package, I notice a war for my attention and affections. This world disciples—even indoctrinates me—to give my best attention to, place my highest hope in, and lavish my greatest affection on my sport.

Ethic and Excellence

That said, any serious athlete knows that excellence doesn’t come without relentless attention and dedication. Just one look at Kobe Bryant’s journey to historic greatness reveals that a dizzying work ethic likely has as much to do with high achievement as talent.

But often, if we’re honest, an exemplary work ethic can come at the expense of excellent love for Christ. In the pursuit of greatness, our hearts can salivate over the prospect of glory-collecting rather than glory-reflecting. And the alluring possibility of greatness, popularity, riches, or comfort make for fast-and-ready idols waiting to bait our hearts away from the Lord.
Achievement on the football field had become my functional idol.
Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that we ought not go to great lengths to become excellent at our craft. I’m saying that the journey to excellence is rigged with self-constructed booby traps that—when missed, tolerated, or ignored—lead to self-destruction.
This self-destruction upends families, strains friendships, and encourages sinful compromise. These sad outcomes aren’t glamorized on social media, so they rarely serve as effective warnings. Instead, self-destruction begins with but a subtle yet deceptive reorientation of the heart away from God’s glory and goodness.

Main Thing

So, Christian, we must strive to keep the main thing the main thing: Love God above all else. Jesus is clear when he defines the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

It’s tempting to say this command is easier said than done, but when one pauses to consider the beauty of God’s love shown for us in Christ, it’s easier done than said! How could we not give all our love to a God who rightfully could have condemned us, but instead died in our place to give us eternal life with him? To exchange living in his truth for fame or follows reveals how deep our sin runs and how prone we are to wander.
To exchange living in his truth for fame or follows reveals how deep our sin runs and how prone we are to wander.
So what do you do if you find yourself like I did that fall morning, frustrated and wandering? The answer is simple: turn to the beauties of Christ to be drawn back to him. Or as Thomas Chalmers argued almost 200 years ago, the antidote to spiritual sin is spiritual passion.

In his famous sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” Chalmers contended that the only way to break the hold of a beautiful object on the soul is to show it an object more beautiful—and the most beautiful thing is the good news of salvation in Christ.
So when you find success in your sport—or even the idea of success in your sport—shining as the object most worthy of your love and affection, reintroduce your heart to the gospel truth of Christ in fresh ways such as fasting from social media, praying through a psalm, and cultivating spiritual disciplines. In time, you will watch your idols shrink away.

Center of the Solar System

Consider comparing your life to our solar system. The order and harmony of everything in it depends on the reliability of the object at its center. In the same way that all the planets would go completely haywire were the sun to be replaced by a star half its size, our lives go haywire when Christ isn’t at the center. The “planets” that fill our lives—finances, relationships, energy, interests—all are in their proper place when orbiting Christ. What or whom is at the center of your life’s solar system?

I’ve found that when my biggest dreams, sincerest intentions, and highest affections are orbiting around Jesus, I’m most filled with joy and most effective as a tool for his kingdom. Oh, how worthy the cost of giving up my idols if my heart is to be absorbed with the goodness of God, singing with the psalmist, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8)

Then it doesn’t matter whether I’m being thrown touchdown passes on the field or not; my satisfaction in him is guaranteed.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Praise the Lord and His Creation, Full Moon Rising Over Cliffs Above Missouri River Near Rochport

Bikinis and Modesty with Pastor John Piper

Shadows and Streams

Solid Joys: Message of Creation


Psalm 146
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday---Albert Mohler: Is Religious Liberty Truly At Risk? A Warning


That question was debated recently in dueling articles published in the Wall Street Journal. David French, senior writer for National Review magazine argued that religious liberty is indeed endangered in America. Marci Hamilton, a former clerk for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, who now serves as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, makes the counter argument. It was a genuine exchange of ideas, viewpoints, and divergent worldviews—the arguments are very revealing.
David French made his case by tracing back to April 28, 2015, which marked the oral arguments before the Supreme Court regarding Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court’s decision in Obergefell would legalize same-sex marriage across the country. The most ominous and telling moment in those oral arguments came during an exchange between Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito.
French wrote, “Justice Samuel Alito asked President Barack Obama's Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. whether constitutional recognition for same-sex marriage would lead to stripping federal tax exemptions from religious colleges that oppose gay marriage, in the same way that federal law strips tax exemptions from colleges that oppose interracial marriage or interracial dating. Rather than immediately answering, “no,” the Solicitor General of the United States responded, ‘It’s certainly going to be an issue.’”

Indeed, it will be and has proven to be an issue, and not just for tax exemptions. It will be an issue when it comes to any form of social recognition. The big issue at stake is whether Christian colleges will be able to continue to operate under any semblance of the Christian faith. Moreover, the issues have spread far beyond the college campus—including ministries, adoption and foster care agencies, religious organizations and even hospitals that are now confronted with the realities of diminishing respect for religious liberty.

In reflecting on the oral arguments, French eloquently states: “And just like that, millions of American Christians could easily and quickly imagine a future where the law held their traditional, orthodox religious beliefs—the beliefs of the Catholic Church and every significant evangelical denomination in America—in the same regard as it held the views of vile racists. But Christians who had been paying attention knew of this risk well before Obergefell. Christians who had been paying attention had seen a trend where legal activists at all levels of government had been aggressively expanding their regulatory and ideological attacks on religious liberty.”

The reality is that religious liberty is in peril in the United States and we have known it for a long time. This is one of the reasons why in the 1990s, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with overwhelming support from both parties and in both houses of Congress. The bill’s vast public support made it noncontroversial. Now, however, one of the most cherished liberties in American history is threatened by increasing secularization and the sexual revolution.

French highlights the chief threat against religious liberty, namely, the administrative state. The vast bureaucracy of government can effectively channel a political agenda set out to malign and reduce religious liberty without any legislative or congressional deliberation. Consider the infamous Obama contraception mandate. The administration forced its moral agenda through the bureaucratic powers of the Department of Health and Human Services. With one executive mandate, the federal government demanded that religious employers violate conscience, demanding that they provide contraceptive health coverage (including some forms which may be abortifacients) in direct violation of their own consciences. This encroachment led a group of nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor to file suit in federal court, precisely because of the violation of Christian conscience.

That episode marked a calculated and deliberate attempt by the administrative state to dismantle the liberties and rights secured through religious freedom. President Obama could have accomplished the same policy measure without violating the consciences of Christian ministries or companies managed from Christian principles. The threat of the administrative state, furthermore, extends beyond health-coverage mandate. The same kind of policies have come from the Department of Justice or the Department of Education. Just about every dimension of the vast administrative state presents such dangers.

French argues, “The list could go on, but more disturbing than the individual cases is the deep inversion of America’s constitutional principles that has empowered this legal assault. If governments ultimately prevail in these efforts, the resulting precedents would upend the constitutional order, rendering religious Americans even more vulnerable to future legal attacks, like the threatened loss of tax exemptions for Christian educational institutions.”

French then turns to the Bill of Rights, which enshrines religious liberty as a core American liberty. He rightly argues that U.S. constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights does not merely limit the federal government from establishing a religion, but also guarantees the free exercise of religion.

He then writes, “Every other American law—whether a federal statute, state constitutional provision, state law or university regulation—is subordinate to and subject to review under this Bill of Rights.” That argument has enjoyed a nearly unquestionable status of American constitutional order ever since the Constitution was ratified. This is an important argument to maintain because, as French points out, many opponents to religious liberty dismiss its importance by arguing that religious freedom is merely a pretext for bigotry.

The format of these dueling articles in the Wall Street Journal provides space at the end of each author’s argument for the opposing writer to respond. After French makes his case that religious liberty is besieged, Marci Hamilton responded, stating, “David French says that our constitutional tradition does not give religious believers absolute rights—even as he argues that they should be free, in most instances, from laws that they consider incompatible with their beliefs. But there is only one absolute right in the Constitution, and that is the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to believe anything you want. The government may never prescribe beliefs.”

This is the most revealing paragraph in the entire exchange. Note carefully what Marci Hamilton is doing. She has reduced the constitutional right of religious liberty to a right merely “to believe anything you want.” This is a radically reductionist argument, which undermines the broad and crucial protections guaranteed and respected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment secures more than a mere right to believe, in private, anything you want.

Hamilton’s definition of religious liberty is now divorced from any public action or significance. In her view, the First Amendment only protects your individual, private thoughts. That protection ceases once those thoughts enter the public square.

During the Obama Administration we began to hear references to religious liberty reframed as “freedom of worship.” The freedom to worship is indeed included within the free exercise of religion, but to deliberately use this language is to imply that worship is where the liberty ends. That is not true.

But now, in Marci Hamilton’s argument, we see religious liberty reduced even further. It is as if this new version of religious liberty is restricted to a citizen’s cranium – merely a right to believe.

In Hamilton’s own article, she refers to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 negatively, stating that “it didn’t ‘restore’ First Amendment law; it created a new version of extreme religious liberty on demand.” This is astounding. Hamilton construes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] as legislating an “extreme” new understanding of religious freedom. It did no such thing. Interestingly, the President who quite publicly signed the law was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Moreover, many of the most liberal members of the Democratic Party not only voted for the bill but were co-sponsors of this supposedly “extreme” bill for religious freedom.

What changed in the last 25 years? The culture changed. The culture that once honored religious liberty and respected it as a bedrock freedom for civil society—that culture is no more. Religious liberty now attracts the glare of the cultural left who see religious liberty as an obstacle in the path of their social transformation. They view this freedom as a socially-constructed institution of bigotry from which we must liberate ourselves. Moreover, the rise of the LGBTQ movement now pits religious liberty against the newly constructed sexual liberty—these are two, incompatible freedoms that necessarily collide. The sexual revolution believes it’s time for religious freedom to give way to its higher, newer, morally coercive “rights.”

Hamilton, after lamenting the present state of religious liberty proponents, states, “The good news is that the next generation rejects this extreme idea of religious liberty. Younger Americans are not so sanguine about organized religion. According to the Pew Research Center, the fastest-growing religious cohort among Americans is the “nones,” who either don’t believe at all or believe in God but reject organized religion.” Hamilton openly celebrates the decline of religion, not just religious liberty. This development is apparently, “good news.”

Note carefully that Hamilton presents the decline of religious faith as “good news.”
This project in the Wall Street Journal was a genuine exchange of ideas. It featured two major essays presenting two contrary arguments, and those who made the arguments had the opportunity to respond to one another. It was calm, it was respectful, it was substantial. substantial. It’s a tribute to the Wall Street Journal that it actually published this exchange.

Nevertheless, the debate comes as an ominous warning. Just consider Marci Hamilton’s arguments, especially her assertion that freedom of religion essentially only guarantees the freedom of privately held, privately expressed belief. In this rendering, religion has no respected place in the public square. Your cranium is the only viable real estate for religious expression.

Writing a letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to Marci Hamilton's article, Don Meindertsma, writing from Annandale, Virginia got it just right when he stated: “Ms. Hamilton opines that the only absolute right guaranteed by the First Amendment is the right to believe anything you want. We hardly need a constitution for that. I can sit in my house and believe whatever I want, whenever I want despite any law (or woke bureaucrat) that instructs otherwise. Rather, the First Amendment's protection of the exercise of religion is what envelops us when we leave the home to carry out our calling.” He then concluded, “That right might not be absolute, but it is literally the top of the list in the Bill of Rights and should easily trump so-called fundamental rights that the constitution doesn't even mention.”

This debate carried out on the pages of the Wall Street Journal has massive implications for American public life, especially against the backdrop of the 2020 Presidential Election. Indeed, the Democratic contenders for the nomination need to be confronted with the real questions raised in these dueling articles. The candidates need to be asked if they, as President, would use executive authority through federal departments to force a secular orthodoxy on religious groups, organizations, and businesses. The candidates need to be asked if they will protect the rights of Christian colleges to educate their students and hire their faculty in accordance with the tenets of faith, without being threatened by the state.

I dare someone to ask the Democratic candidates those questions. All the evidence surfacing in this Democratic Primary campaign indicates that none of the major candidates would do anything to upset the new sexual orthodoxy. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that if one of these candidates were elected, the administrative state would reengage and expand its campaign to dismantle religious liberty, with even greater hostility and ferocity.

One way or another, all the candidates must answer this vital question: will you or will you not uphold the most precious liberty of our national order?

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sunday, What Sudden Disasters---Natural and Manmade---Preach and Teach Us

After two mass shootings Saturday,  this seems like a very timely message and warning:


MY SECOND SUNDAY as a full-time pastor came five days after the worst tornado outbreak in American history afflicted our city and its surrounding region. I preached from Job 1–2, and we put the sermon title on our marquee: “Where Was God?” Attendance that Sunday doubled and a couple of media members, intrigued by the existential question on our sign, interviewed me.

Natural disasters and tragedies, particularly those that fall on us like a lightning bolt, provoke thoughts in all kinds of people—both the religious and the irreligious—of death, eternal realities, and deity.

Many of us remember the aftermath of 9/11. There was a large ecumenical prayer service held at Yankee Stadium a few days in its wake as a shadow of fear blanketed our country. Similarly, the assassination of national leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy spawned myriad solemn gatherings for prayer and reflection on ultimate realities.

In Luke 13:1–7, Jesus faced a crowd of people who sought the meaning of two tragic events—one an atrocity that brings to mind some of the unspeakably evil activities of Nazi Germany, another that summons the gut-wrenching images of crumbling towers that September morning in 2001.

In the first event, Pilate displayed his brutality by murdering Galileans in the midst of worship and then mingling their blood with the sacrifices—a cruel, blasphemous act. The crowd’s tacit question for Jesus was: What did they do to deserve such a fate? Jesus knew as much, asking them: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?”

In the second event, a tower in Siloam—an area in south Jerusalem near the pool of Siloam—toppled to the ground, killing 18, likely injuring more. The tacit question was the same: Did those victims somehow deserve their fate? Were they especially heinous sinners? As Jesus put it: “Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?”

Repent or Perish

Jesus responded to both situations with the same pointed, sobering answer: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In other words, the Galileans were murdered at the altar, in what they no doubt viewed as a holy place, but they had no time to repent. Similarly, those on whom the tower fell were taken out of this world in the blink of an eye without warning, with no time to repent.
Jesus’s warning may come off as terse, even slightly harsh, but it is a word of grace: Turn to the Lord while there is still time. The point is simple, but we miss it to our peril.

Here are four additional applications we can draw from Christ’s brief encounter with this crowd.

1. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ is not the right question.

“Why do good things happen to bad people?” is perhaps the better question. Jesus didn’t deny the connection between catastrophic events and human wickedness, and it’s true that such events occur because of humanity’s fall into sin. Nevertheless, Jesus was clear: “Unless you repent, you shall surely die.”

Every human born in Adam’s wake, except Jesus, is a rebel against his or her Maker. That God heaps mercy on undeserving sinners like us, then, should mystify us every bit as much—if not more—than why bad things happen to “good” people. We are all heinous sinners. We all need grace.

2. Today is the day for repentance.

We never know what a given day will bring. No one’s guaranteed time to prepare for death. Those on whom the tower of Siloam fell were presumably going about their business when tragedy suddenly struck. Workers in the Twin Towers of Manhattan, as well as the fire and rescue workers, expected a normal day at the office. But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes puts it like this:

Time and chance happen to them all. Man knows not his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Eccles. 9:11–12

On the highway of life, death lurks like an evil shadow around the next bend, hidden from view. It’s true for the Christian as well as the atheist. Is today your day?

3. We must speak only where God has spoken.

Attempting to read providence is unwise and dangerous. As we tend to do, the crowd Jesus addressed apparently made a judgment as to why Pilate committed his atrocities and why the tower fell. In the aftermath of 9/11, some presumed to speak on God’s behalf, assuring listeners the terrorist attacks were divine retribution for national sins including abortion and homosexuality. Might that have been true? That’s up to God. We simply don’t know, for God never told us. And what would be our condition if each of us got what our sins deserved? Had Christ not shouldered my debt, I would be in hell.

In his provocative book God’s Judgments: Interpreting History and the Christian Faith, Steven J. Keillor argues that temporal events may indeed be acts of divine judgment for public sin. God hasn’t been pleased to tell us, however, the particular tragedies that result from particular national transgressions. Christians usually wind up looking foolish when they predict specific dates for Jesus’s return, as well as when they try to read providence. Jesus’s words in Luke 13 demonstrate the folly of the latter.

4. Natural disasters are powerful preachers.

On August 31, 1886, the most powerful earthquake to ever hit the East Coast pummeled Charleston, South Carolina, killing 150 and reducing to rubble nearly 90 percent of the historic city’s masonry buildings. More than two-thirds of the city’s 40,000 inhabitants were homeless. Baptist pastor-journalist H. H. Tucker told readers of the Christian Index newspaper that the earthquake was a preacher sent by God to, consistent with Jesus’s words here in Luke 13, rouse a spiritually drowsy culture. He said the awful event preached several doctrines, including the sovereignty of God, the moral responsibility and guilt of man, the uncertainty of life, the value of prayer, and the necessity of repentance. Tucker wrote:

When the continent trembled, millions of people thought of God. A large proportion of these were of that class in all whose thoughts, from day to day, God is not. Millions of people were impressed with a sense of human helplessness and insignificance. . . . In the heyday of prosperity, men invent arguments to disprove [the existence of God], but when appalling danger comes suddenly upon them they forget the arguments and remember [God], showing that deep in the human heart there is an intuition which acknowledges God, and recognizes our proper relations to him.

Jesus took the opportunity to use a human atrocity and a natural disaster to preach both the danger of life in a fallen world and also the need to repent. We should soberly and humbly look for opportunities to do the same. God does not owe us tomorrow.

Time Is Short

Above all, Jesus’s brief warning in Luke 13 ought to remind us that we bear a message the entire world desperately needs. Until Jesus returns in glory, natural disasters will occur. There will be a tornado outbreak worse than the one I lived through. There will be atrocities, because there will always be despotic leaders. Towers will crumble at the hands of terrorists.

And because man knows not his time, it is fitting in every season and on every occasion for Christians to gently lead unbelievers from “Why me?” to “Why not me?”—and to lovingly channel Jesus’s words: “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday---Waking Up In Old, Real Wyoming At the Home of Great Friends


We've shared so many, many adventures over the decades and recalling only a small portion of them over a late night glass of wine Sunday was too much fun.   I am grateful to be here in a place that is a part of my deepest DNA forever.  How blessed I am!

Now for KJV of Psalm 121:

I  will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that kept thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that kept Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Looking At Satan's Deceitful Promises of Sin

By  Marshall Segal @ Desiring God

NOTHING WILL HELP US FIGHT TEMPTATION like intimacy with the promises of God. To overcome the seductive force of sin’s deceit, we need to know the sweeter, stronger, and surer voice of our Father in heaven. One way he trains his children to escape the entanglement of sin, however, is to study the awful and intoxicating voice of our enemy. He wants us to know our enemy’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11), and recognize temptation wherever we find it
When the sage of Proverbs imparts wisdom to his son, he begins with a warning: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs 1:10). One mark of godly maturity and wisdom is a heightened awareness of, and vigilance against, temptation. But how will the boy know when he’s being enticed?
“Satan seeds the disturbing idea that we deserve so much more than we have.”
What would you say to your own son? How would you prepare him to recognize and reject temptation when it inevitably comes? Sin preys with subtlety and ambiguity, even when the sin itself is not subtle or ambiguous. The wise father wants his vulnerable son to be able to discern enticement in all its disguises, so he goes on to rehearse several of the promises of sin:
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
     let us ambush the innocent without reason;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
     and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
     we shall fill our houses with plunder;
throw in your lot among us;
     we will all have one purse . . .” (Proverbs 1:11–14)
Do you hear the enticement — the seductive power of this kind of corruption? Do you recognize the deception — how each honeyed promise hangs on some lie? Ask yourself what makes these evils appealing to the human heart, to a heart like yours. God, in his word, teaches us to meditate on the promises of sin, so that we are not fooled, allured, and destroyed by them.

“You are the lord of your life.”

The first temptation may be the hardest for many of us to relate to: “Let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit” (Proverbs 1:11–12). Who secretly wants to ambush and murder anyone, much less the innocent? How would such a violent and vile thought ever entice someone?

When King David writes about the wicked, he provides a key for understanding this kind of temptation:
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
     all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” . . .
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
     throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” . . .
He sits in ambush in the villages;
     in hiding places he murders the innocent. (Psalm 10:4, 6, 8).
Pride has the power to make even murder intoxicating. Only a heart who says, “There is no God,” can plot, and hide, and wait to harm the harmless. Do you hear the exhilaration in his monstrous voice? “I shall not be moved.” I can kill an innocent person for no reason, and still not be punished. Nothing will happen to me. There is no God — no god but me. The height of wickedness is believing God will not have his vengeance against our sin, that he will not judge our every thought, word, and action with perfect justice.

As I began to see how violent pride can be, I thought of a mystifying headline I read about a horrible viral video of a gang attacking an innocent, unsuspecting stranger. Why would anyone ever do that? I thought. “There is no God. . . . I shall not be moved.” The wicked relish doing the worst they can imagine to prove no one can punish them. They even recorded the crime, and then posted it for all to see, including the police. Pride desperately tries to prove itself.
“The height of wickedness is believing God will not have his vengeance against our sin.”
Worse, even still, we are all grossly acquainted with the murder of innocents in our day, at least in America — millions of innocents. Abortion persists because of the prideful illusion of anonymity. Planned Parenthood (and others) survives on this gospel: No one will know, and there are no consequences. “You are the god of your body” — not the God who composed the masterpiece playing in your womb (Psalm 139:13). Pro-choice preachers may not recite the words of Proverbs 1:11–12, but the merciless insanity is written across every pretty pink ad and billboard: “There is no God.”

But there is a God. He sees every speck of our evil, and we will all meet him. On that day, he will call every ounce of wickedness to account until he finds none (Psalm 10:15). Solomon highlights the irony in the wickeds’ cruelty: “These men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives” (Proverbs 1:18). When sinners lure us, saying, “You are the only lord of your life,” they are enticing us into an ambush of our own making. Our pride whispers us toward self-destruction.

Do you see this impulse in your own heart — to pretend that God does not see your secret sins, or that he will not really do anything about them? How quickly have we murdered in our hearts (Matthew 5:21–22), telling ourselves that no one knows the anger we’ve nurtured? How often have we draped the flag of grace over our shoulders while we plunged back into lust, or greed, or selfishness, assuming God must forgive us? If God must forgive us no matter what we do, then we believe we are god. Perhaps the horror in this temptation is not so foreign after all.

When Satan whispers otherwise, remember that God will account for each and every sin we have committed, either in the blood of his precious Son or in unrelenting waves of wrath. He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7), and the cross will not be prostituted. If God has forgiven our pride, it will and must die.

“I can give you more than God.”

Having fueled and inflamed our pride, temptation turns in the next verse to our desires, where greed and covetousness often disguise themselves. “We shall find all precious goods,” the wicked say, “we shall fill our houses with plunder” (Proverbs 1:13). The allure here is more obvious: We can satisfy all your secret desires for more. The chorus is as old as it is familiar. As Satan slid up to Eve in the garden, he held out the precious good God had forbidden: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

This is one of sin’s favorite promises: I can give you more than God. How many of our besetting sins are rooted in the twin beliefs that we’re entitled to more than God has given, and that God alone cannot satisfy our souls? Satan seeds the disturbing idea that we deserve so much more than we have. That God will hold back his best from us. That holiness and purity are safe paths to boredom and regret. Our flesh desperately chases that sinful fantasy, but we will lose everything in our search for more than God.

The wise man warns later in Proverbs 1, “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors” (Proverbs 1:19). Greed steals even more than it promises. Instead of satisfying the restless hunger in our hearts, it cuts off all the oxygen. Just like pride, when the wicked give in to greed, they set a deadly trap for themselves:
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
While they lie in bed, with their eyes closed, imagining themselves indulging in the next comfort or luxury, they stab themselves over and over and over again.
“God teaches us to meditate on the promises of sin, so that we are not fooled, allured, and destroyed by them.”
As I write, another billionaire is in the news for this wicked, insatiable search for more. Unsatisfied with enormous success, wealth, and fame, he preyed on dozens of young girls. And when the United States Attorney agreed to a horrifically soft plea deal in 2008 (the attorney has since been forced to resign over the case), the billionaire thought he had gotten away with his evil — “There is no God. I shall not be moved.” He did not stop plundering the innocent then, and so he’s back in court for charges of sex trafficking. Enticed by sin, there was no price too high — even his soul. The only consolation is knowing that God, unlike human justice systems, can and will punish every evil committed. The billionaire will realize then that the price for abusing those girls — for ignoring God to steal sinful gain — was far higher than he ever imagined.

The secret to discontentment — in plenty or in hunger, with billions of dollars or without — is to place our hope and joy in something or someone other than God. To believe that precious good lies anywhere outside the beauty of God’s commands. For followers of Christ, death, not sin, is gain (Philippians 1:21). Because in his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures — real, intense, unrivaled pleasures — forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

“You never have to feel left out or alone.”

One of the easiest phrases to overlook in the father’s warning is also one of the most revealing. “If they say, ‘Come with us . . .’” (Proverbs 1:11). Loneliness quietly terrifies many of us. And the plague is spreading in America, not only among Baby Boomers, but across younger generations too. Satan spreads the plague in a thousand ways, separating the weak from the rest of the pack, and then feasting on our fear and self-pity.

The wolves in Proverbs 1 circle back to this vulnerability in us: “Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse” (Proverbs 1:14). The lie should be so obvious — why would we entrust ourselves to the ones murdering the innocent to satisfy themselves? — and yet the promise is undeniably enticing: You never have to feel left out or alone again.
It’s not simply the appeal of community, but of community without judgment or boundaries. We can hear them whispering, “We won’t judge or reject you. We won’t confront you over sin; we’ll sin with you!” Their “friendship” makes sin feel so safe (we’re hidden and protected by one another), satisfying (everyone else is doing it and loving it), and even sentimental (we’re enjoying this together). Sin’s promises weave a stronger and stronger fabric of lies that become harder and harder to discern.

We need not avoid our fear of loneliness, because God told us we were not made to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In fact, to the degree we try to deny our need for others, the words become even more enticing: “Come with us.” No, we need to know our need well, and recognize the counterfeit community sin offers — the kind that falls apart when trials come.
Sin’s promises weave a stronger and stronger fabric of lies that become harder and harder to discern
Everyone who follows Christ will feel left out and alone at times in this life. If others shared the gospel with you and failed to ever mention that, they did not prepare you well to walk with Jesus. Jesus says, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). We will not only be ignored, neglected, and left out; we will be hated — not by some, but by all. Again, he says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Being chosen by God means being rejected by man. Even Jesus’s promises remind us we will feel snubbed and shunned: “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22).

So, we should expect to feel left out and alone — even by our families (Mark 10:29). But not ultimately alone. Jesus also says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Even when we feel the most alone, we are not alone if we are in Christ. And along with him, we are adopted into a deeper, wider, and forever family. Christ says, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

Expose the Promises of Sin

As part of your war against sin, meditate on its false promises. Don’t live there, but don’t let them catch you by surprise, either. We can confront the enticing lies head-on, without insecurity or trepidation, because we have far better promises — and because we have a Savior who has already fought and won the war against temptation.
 When sin says to our starving desires, “I can give you more than God,” we can say with Christ, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). When sin says to our lonely hearts, “I will keep you safe, and you never have to feel left out or alone,” we can say with Christ, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). When sin says to our pride, “You are the lord of your life,” we can say with Christ, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

Having memorized the promises of sin, we conquer them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), which is the word of our God.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Sunday Late, The Prince of Peace Comes Not to Bring Peace To the Earth but Divine Division To Households

Matthew 10:34-11:1

JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities."

Thought for the Day From Richard Kew, 7/15/19

These are puzzling words spoken by the Prince of Peace and Matthew recorded them for a Christian community that was already experiencing harassment and persecution. The point he is making is that the gospel draws a dividing line between those who do and those who do not follow him - and that walk is a Via Dolorosa. As one theologian puts it, "To follow Jesus is to embrace martyrdom." We have seen this again and again in our world. Christian churches in Sri Lanka were recently blown up on Easter Day, and Christians in many parts of the Islamic world are treated terribly. We, for the moment, are fortunate, but the call is there for us as well: to take up our cross and follow Jesus - in that way we truly find life.
Thanksgiving for the Day
Let us thank God for the example of those who have suffered for their faith.
Intercession for the Day
We pray today for Christians who are suffering because they are followers of Christ. Christianity is the most persecuted of all the world's religions.
Collect for the Day
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people
Who call upon you,
and grant that they may know and understand
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power
faithfully to accomplish them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Collect for the Third Sunday after Pentecost)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday---Proverbs On Friendship, 4, with Dr. Tim Keller

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

COUNSEL. The fourth mark of a true friend is counsel. Friends give 'heartfelt advice' (27:9). Friends sharpen and challenge one another, being vulnerable and sensitive to one another but also making proposals for how the other should change. Friends regularly have constructive clashes that sharpen each party's understanding of the world and of themselves.

Therapists give you advice, but you don't do it back.  A supervisor may offer criticism, but it would not be appropriate to give equal criticism back.  The mutuality of the deep counsel that friends can give is rare (!) yet something everybody needs.  Sometimes it is sweet and pleasant and sometimes sharp and perhaps painful.  True friendship is both reassuring and bracing.  If you can have this kind of exchange and growth in a romantic relationship or in a family relationship, it is because you have incorporated this aspect of friendship into those connections.  But you're never going to become the person you need to be, or that you can be, without it. It sharpens you the way nothing else can.

With how many people do you share a relationship in which there is mutual counsel and critique?

PRAYER:  Lord, today to 'friend' someone is to 'like' rather than dislike.  I have not been conditioned to have friends who dislike things about me and tell me so!  But my heart knows---and your Word says----that I need them.  Lead them to me and give me the willingness to be open to them.  Amen
Dr.  Tim Keller,  A Year of Daily Devotions In the Book of Psalms

Friday, July 5, 2019

Tucker Carlson Special, July 4, 2019, He Doesn't Mince Words---Absolutely Must See

INTRODUCING THE CONCEPT OF ECONOMIC PATRIOTISM.  From our trade agreements to our tax codes,  economics across the board favor multinational corporations and big banks that have less and less allegiance to America and middle class workers in the USA. Middle America and its problems are ignored by Congressional elites in both parties.

Did You Hear the News About Nike?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Thankful, Blessed 4th of July from Food City In East Tennessee, Deep Red Country

ALMOST ZERO CONNECTIVITY FROM WHERE WE ARE ON THE South Holston River.  So in between fishing,  I run into Food City to catch up and pick up.  This is one of, if not my very, favorite holidays.  So, very much to be thankful for!

Yet, so much utter nonsense to guard against in our country in the years ahead, as many of the left of liberal---far, far left of sanity--- candidates want to wreck our Constitution, the Electoral College, our brave history and traditions and our families. They would do more for illegals than our own American citizens. They want to do it against our will, rob our pocketbooks for many dark, nefarious reasons.

We can't let them.  Ever. God Bless America! And may God keep watch and keep blessing America. We have to stand up to this, whatever it takes.

Above,  Jackson,  Patriot Cat,  guards our flag,  keeps the faith back in Burns.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday----Proverbs on Friendship, Part 3 with Dr. Tim Keller

If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. (Proverbs 27:14)

SENSITIVITY.  A third mark of friendship is sensitivity and tact.  Why does someone show inappropriate heartiness when others are just waking up?  Why do they use humor inappropriately or speak lightheartedly to grieving people with a heavy heart? It is because they are emotionally disconnected and therefore clumsy.  They don't know the other person's inner topography well enough to know what hurts or helps, what inspires or bores,  what stimulates or irritates.

If I can be content when you are sad, I'm not your friend. Friends voluntarily tie their hearts to one another.  They put their happiness into their friends happiness, so they can't emotionally flourish unless their friends are flourishing too.  Jesus  tied his heart to us so that even in his suffering he know joy because of the salvation he was bringing to us (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Isaiah 53:11).  The friendship connection may not be as emotionally intense as that which comes in romance, nor always as enduring as family ties, all the more reason friendship is so valuable, because such a link is both deliberate and voluntary.

Are you putting in the effort to be a friend?

Prayer:  Lord, our sin causes you pain (Genesis 6:6)  and our broken hearts draw you to our side (Psalm 34:18)  You love us more tenderly and sensitively than a nursing mother does her child (Isaiah 49:15)  Let me be so moved by your love for me that it makes me highly sensitive to the needs of those around me.  Amen

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Congratulations To Vanderbilt Baseball Winner of College World Series Tonight!

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT,  Vandy baseball Coach Tim Corbin is one of the finest---if not THE finest coach of any sport in the nation. Way to go Vandy boys!   So well done as the Vandy team takes down Michigan 8-2 in game 3.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday---Proverbs on Friendship, Part 2 with Dr. Tim Keller


Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiples kisses.  (Proverbs 27:5-6)

TRANSPARENCY.  A second requirement for friendship is transparency. The King James Version renders the first part of Proverbs 27:6 as "faithful are the wounds of a friend."  What are "faithful wounds"? The phrase means that real friends do open rebuke, they tell each other things they need to hear even if they are painful. If you are too afraid to say what needs to be said, you are really of your friend's soul.

Have you ever listened to a recording of yourself and thought, "I don't sound like that."  But yes,  you do---you can't hear from within your body what your voice really sounds like outside.  And without the perspective of others we will never know our strengths and weaknesses. If you have a measure of status in the world, or if you have chosen friends poorly,  you may just be surrounded by flatterers. (29:5)  Transparency is scary, but we need it.  And to get courage,  look to the one who became so vulnerable for you that he died on the cross.  How faithful were the wounds of this friend for you!

How many real friends do you have----friends who will speak the truth in love to you?

Lord Jesus, you became a vulnerable human being to show us the truth about ourselves. You were faithful and constant even to death on the cross. Now, Lord, reproduce in me that same character and let me be a friend to others as you have been a friend to me. Amen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Greatest Show On Earth---Trump Dazzles In Orlando

TRUMP WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS ONE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST PRESIDENTS.  I cannot imagine him not winning a second term.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Proverbs On Friendship, With Dr. Tim Keller

IN HIS BOOK OF DAILY DEVOTIONALS ON THE BOOK OF PROVERBS,  God's Wisdom For Navigating Life,   Dr. Tim Keller does a series on friendship  which occurs in his book during the month of June.  It is wise and well worth pondering.  I believe real friendship takes in person contact and proximity to grow and deepen.  E-mails, texts and social media contact just doesn't get it for very long.  So old fashioned friendship today, as opposed to fast friendship, needs more than ever to be disciplined and intentional because of myriad distractions in today's hectic world. Real friendship is reciprocal though at times one person carries more of the load.

The best marriages are at their core deep friendship.

I'll be posting for the next few Sundays on some of the traits of real, long-term friendship from Proverbs.  Hope it's inspirational to you, as it is for me:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.---Proverb 18:24

INTENTIONALITY. This says that a friend can be better than a sibling---quite a statement in a culture that was far more family oriented than ours. But how so? Your family may be there for you but they may not really like you or understand you. And there can be long stretches of life in which you have no romantic partner or spouse. A friend, however, may stick with you over the years closer than a brother.

In the early stage of your life, you were shaped most by your family.  But for the rest of your life you will be shaped largely by your friends. You become like the people with whom you spend the most time.  As we will see, you can't live without friendship.  But remember how deliberate friendship must be. Erotic attraction and family relationships push themselves on you in various ways, but friendship will not. It must be carefully, intentionally cultivated through face-to-face time spent together.  And in a busy culture like ours, it is one thing that is often squeezed out.

How have your best friends over the years shaped and influenced you? Who are your best friends now?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you befriended a handful of disciples and through those friendships you changed the world. Help me choose my friends wisely, cultivate them carefully, and learn all I should learn from them so I can grow into the person you've called me to be,  Amen.

Fathers Day Sunday


Monday, June 3, 2019

Sunday, Monday: The Enticing Sin of Empathy---How Satan Corrupts Through Compassion



DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL DAYS WHEN YOU DID EVERYTHING MOTIVATED BY FEELINGS AND EMPATHY?  I sure do.  Feelings-based decisions are a national epidemic and regressing society, our culture and our families.  Here,  Joe Rigney shows how too much  empathy can twist and warp the best of intentions and cause more problems than  it sought to solve.  Please don't get me wrong:  feelings are important and can sometimes guide us. Yet when they become the ultimate force for living, rather than critical and principled thinking and acting,  feelings can take us down many  painful dead-ends.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

OF ALL THE PLACES I'VE BEEN IN EUROPE AND THE BRITISH HOMELAND,  THIS CEMETERY AT NORMANY, France is the most compelling and beautiful of them all.

It is truly a memorial to the men and women who fought and won the victory of good over horrific evil.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday: Strength To Wait With Patience


May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. (Colossians 1:11)
“STRENGTHENED” IS THE RIGHT WORD. The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience

(Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength.

Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports — like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.

For the Christian, this strength comes from God. That is why Paul is praying for the Colossians. He is asking God to empower them for the patient endurance that the Christian life requires. But when he says that the strength of patience is “according to [God’s] glorious might” he doesn’t just mean that it takes divine power to make a person patient. He means that faith in this “glorious might” is the channel through which the power for patience comes.

Patience is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), but the Holy Spirit empowers (with all his fruit) through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). Therefore Paul is praying that God would connect us with the “glorious might” that empowers patience. And that connection is faith.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day 2019---It's My Job

A TERRIFIC GUIDE,  the right dry fly, the perfect stretch of river and viola!  a amazing day on the SoHo...I have been told by a good man friend, and former ad exec, never to put up a photo with my mouth open.  It's the height of unattractiveness for a woman.  Well tough.  Occasionally I make an exception!  Too much fun was had by all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Coolest Rooftop Bar in America

WITH DAVE EGGER FROM NEW YORK CITY on the supernatural cello.  But he loves it here where Tennessee and Virginia come together o Main Street.