Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday--Prayer and Partial Fast

I'M NOW IN THE THIRD DAY OF A 7-DAY PRAYER-INTERMITTENT FAST. Many things have converged to convince me I need to do this at this time, and even early on I'm finding it extremely cleansing and healing. It's quietening my soul and slowing me down to a crawl. So I've been on the computer only occasionally these past few days and, at least for the moment, not missing it.

Since I'm devoting much of this time to prayer (as well as Bible reading, lifting some weights, making fruit and vegetable smoothies and fighting constant distractions and some hunger) I want to link to an article on Tim Challies's site, Prayer Is Hard Work that hits the nail on the head for me: prayer is often very hard work, especially when it's done repetitively as a spiritual discipline directed towards God, not the outside world. Here's a highlight, but read the whole article if you're inclined:

Instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.

“Dear Christian reader,” says Jacob Boehme, “to pray aright is right earnest work.” Prayer is the most sublime energy of which the spirit of man is capable. It is in one aspect glory and blessedness; in another, it is toil and travail, battle and agony. Uplifted hands grow tremulous long before the field is won; straining sinews and panting breath proclaim the exhaustion of the “heavenly footman.” The weight that falls upon an aching heart fills the brow with anguish, even when the midnight air is chill. Prayer is the uplift of the earth-bound soul into the heaven, the entrance of the purified spirit into the holiest; the rending of the luminous veil that shuts in, as behind curtains, the glory of God. It is the vision of things unseen; the recognition of the mind of the Spirit; the effort to frame words which man may not utter. A man that truly prays one prayer,” says Bunyan, “shall after that never be able to express with his mouth or pen the unutterable desires, sense, affection, and longing that went to God in that prayer.”

ALSO WANT TO QUOTE from another post on Challies' site on the subject of humility verses pride: It seems a very noteworthy subject to mediatate and pray on during this prayer-fast:

William Farley (Gospel-Powered Humility)

Humility is the capacity to see myself in God’s light, in the context of his holiness and my sinfulness.

Pride is spiritual blindness, a delusional, inflated view of self. It is unreality on steriods.

Let me also include a worthy quote: “Here is the great paradox: the proud man thinks he is humble, but the humble man thinks he is proud. The humble man sees his arrogance. He sees it clearly, and as a result he aggressively pursues a life of humility, but he doesn’t think of himself as humble. The proud man is completely unaware of his pride. Of all men he is most convinced that he is humble.”

C.J. Mahaney (Humility: True Greatness)

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him.

Thanks for coming by today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Magical, Festive Solar Lanterns

MY NEIGHBOR JACQUELINE JUST PUT OUT HER SOJI SOLAR LANTERNS into the perennial garden below my bedroom window and I tell you it's magic looking out on the scene at night after dark. The little solar cells pack heat in the day and when it gets dark, give it up glowing various colors for hours into the night.

I want several for my deck, but meanwhile I have hers to glow me to sleep with windows wide open and breezes flowing gently in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Knuckleball: Sport's Word of the Year and the Man Who Owns It

ANOTHER BUSY DAY. But I'll come back to write more about R. A. Dickey's fantastic new book. Meanwhile here's a 30 minute NPR radio interview with Dickey that gives some of the highlights of his pitching career and amazing life journey.

I highly, highly recommend Dickey's new book---Wherever I Wind Up---My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knucklball. It's almost more truth, authenticity and ultimately personal responsibility than any reader can stand. You will never forget it, I promise.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chuck Colson, A Man Redeemed Then Used Mightily By God


BEEN A RELAXING COUPLE OF DAYS away from the computer and around friends in the great outdoors. There's rarely any contest between priorities when outdoors opportunity comes along. I did see that Chuck Colson has died. He was a man fortunate to come to realize that he was a sinner in need of a Savior. And, by the enablement of the Holy Spirit, came to Jesus Christ, walked with him from then on.

Colson's new life with its global prison ministry is a testimony to the transforming power of Christ indwelling that has a saving ripple effect in many other lives as well.

I also read this weekend a powerful new biography by R. A. Dickey----starting knuckleball pitcher for the New York Mets---a local Tennessee boy who's finally grown up and made good in the major leagues. His, like Colson's, is another riveting story of redemption that you won't be able to put down. Will write more on this later.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to Work!


SO MUCH TO BLOG ABOUT, TOO MANY DIVERSIONS. Today on the South Holston with outstanding fishermen. Tomorrow hiking at Hughes Gap on the AT.

Monday, April 16, 2012

John Tamny: The Government Rip-Off of Lotteries

Lotteries are a deceptive form of theft by governments unable to live within their means. Voters should abolish them not because they're a rip-off or regressive, but because they're an extra source of revenue that allows governments to fund even more programs that will prove difficult to cut.


By John Tamny

AS IS ALMOST UNIVERSALLY known now, the recent Mega Millions lottery offered up a prize exceeding $600 million. Sensing the possibility that a life of leisure awaited them should they possess the correct numbers, ever optimistic Americans lined up to purchase tickets; last minute purchases the driver of a jackpot that reached nosebleed heights.

Lots of fun was had, even for the losers, though not discussed enough are the major negatives that come with lottery programs run by the State. If tax rate cuts are the gift that keeps on giving, then lotteries are the hidden theft that keeps on taking.

That's the case because lotteries are disingenuous ways that governments unable to live within their means raise extra revenue. Just as governments have historically devalued the currency in order to pay for wars the citizenry did not want, today governments use lotteries to cover that which besieged taxpayers will not.

Government spending is by definition a tax owing to the basic truth that governments can only spend what they've taxed or borrowed from us first, and lotteries are simply a soft version of the latter. At least with lotteries, we can delude ourselves into thinking we have a chance to get back some of what we've given through purchases.

Of course it's not just the near-term spending that should concern us. Even if readers believe what isn't remotely true, that government spending is an economic stimulant (quite the opposite, actually), not acknowledged enough is that government spending doesn't meekly occur without long-term, and very negative, effects.

Instead, once cash-rich governments deploy the money in the wasteful ways that continue to amaze even the sentient among us, for doing so they create programs that are difficult to sunset. Up front, government spending draws down our earnings, turns some workers into indolent takers, plus it weakens the economy overall for governments bidding for labor against the tautologically more productive private sector. Worst of all, it also doesn't go away.

Once a program is funded, a special interest is created; one with employees whose votes count every bit as much as those toiling in the real world, and who want nothing from government. In short, government spending serves as a tax on real growth out of the gates, and then the programs funded serve as an ever expanding tax as more and more money is needed to feed the eternally hungry beast.

Some will say that lotteries have historically funded education, but that's a false argument on two counts. For one, money is money, and extra revenues enjoyed by governments - even if earmarked for education - ensure that other non-educational programs will have more funds to consume (the definition of capital destruction) thanks to a larger revenue intake overall.

Second, investment in education has soared in modern times, far outpacing GDP growth in percentage terms. Much as politicians on the left and right might wish otherwise as they naively talk up the "correlation" between education and economic growth, the simple truth is that "smart" and "hard work" - the two essential success inputs - cannot be taught.

Notably, some suggest lotteries should be abolished for disproportionately preying on those who reside in lower economic strata, not to mention a history of lottery winners that's riddled with addiction, divorce, bankruptcy and suicide. Fair points, but assuming private entities desire to stage lotteries in place of the State, democracy that frequently takes the form of mob rule should not get in the way.

About fully privatized lotteries, it should be said that the State naturally creates a wedge that could be filled by private, for profit companies, staging what is a gambling exercise. Though participation would still be a waste of time, it's not the job of governments or voters to protect us from what are voluntary acts no matter how stupid they may be.

The above applies to the notion that lotteries should be abolished because they dupe so many low-income individuals. Maybe so, but once again, government should exist to protect our rights to do as we wish, not limit what we choose to do.

As for the horrific life track record of so many winners, this reality should - though it won't - remind politicians of how ineffective government redistribution schemes are. President Obama is the latest in a long line of politicians who has talked up the alleged good that comes from spreading the wealth around, but as evidenced by once again all the addiction, divorce and bankruptcy stories that modern lottery history is littered with, wealth is far more of a state of mind - think working hard and smart - than it is about putting money in people's pockets.

In short, winning the lottery and "wealth" in no way ensures that those allegedly lucky enough to have done so will also possess the values that so often correlate with wealth actually earned. Free individuals should once again be free to participate in lotteries, but let's hopefully use the myriad failures and tragedies that follow "winning" to remind ourselves of the folly of wealth redistribution.

Looking ahead, it would be wholly naïve to assume governments used to the revenues lotteries bestow on them will ever cease dipping their greedy hands in our pockets. Still, the economics of lotteries are bad for all concerned even if we leave out the horrendous odds, so voters should seek their abolishment with economic growth in mind.

Sunday, April 15, 2012



And they're not fame, riches, power, sex appeal and popularity.


The Christian is meant to understand that we have a mighty, living Friend in heaven, who not only died for us, but rose again, and after rising again took His seat at the right hand of God, to be our Advocate and Intercessor with the Father until He comes again. We are meant to understand that Christ not only died for us, but is alive for us, and actively working on our behalf at this very day. In short, the encouragement that Paul holds out to believers is, the living priesthood of Jesus Christ. We are not only to look to a Savior who died as our Substitute, and shed His blood for us, but to a Savior who also after His resurrection took His seat at God’s right hand, and lives there as his constant Intercessor and Priest.
J. C. Ryle

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Max Patch Here We Come


IT'S SPRING, SUNNY, STILL COOL, IRRESISTIBLE. The trail calls. The call-of-the-wild has my cell phone number.

Max Patch

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This is the first moment I've had to continue this conversation, Neo, since yesterday.

First I have not read the book or any of the books so my comments are based on the movie only.

I agree that the justification for the games was not well developed. And I scratched my head on several things we were to take on faith. But in the end, I considered it a sci-fi movie and took the premise for the games at face value. I don't think as much as you do.

In my experience this was a scary centrally controlled government event with central surveillance and standardized rules for the all the participants---'tributes'.

All 24 contestants were to live and die by the State's rules. And so it was every tribute lived and died by these top down rules...that is until the game had eliminated everyone but Katniss and Peeta who had become allies and friends.

It was at this point---where they were down to the undeniable reality that one of them would die next---that Katniss and Peeta decided suddenly to dispense with the state's mandate and finish by making up their own rules--they would both die together rather than being pitted against each other and fighting to the death.

By abandoning the State's rules and making up their own, a revolution was set in motion and neither of them met their demise. This had never happened in the history of the games.

While I have no idea what the next two episodes will be, I have a feeling that this revolution these two unwittingly set in motion will indeed gain steam and momentum in the coming sequels.

So to me, this is a movie, however ill-conceived, about the masses playing a game by the rules given them, until someone says enough! and makes up new rules no matter what the consequence.

And don't all revolutions start that way? Did the Boston Tea party tributes decide they would no longer play by ing George's rules? Didn't that also happen in Poland? And on and on.

Revolutions start when someone says 'No more!' And they do it their way, no matter what the consequences.

It will be interesting to me to see if and how this revolution Katniss and Peeta started will proceed. But proceed I'm willing to bet it will!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Senator Lamar Alexander Talks About the Boomerang Effects of Obamacare

WE'RE ABOUT ONE YEAR AWAY FROM A TICKING TIME BOMB FOR STATE GOVERNMENTS. As the federal government creeps into every nook and cranny of our lives.

Cell Phone Nation, Staggering Statistics

CAN IT BE TRUE THAT 20% OF THIRD GRADERS---8 YEAR OLDS---have their own cell phones and by middle school the market is saturated by almost 83%? Since these phone are smart phones with cameras and internet, one can only imagine the amazing amount of distractions for kids in every aspect of life.

Smart phones absolutely require smart parents and smarter schools to set boundaries for appropriate use and mighty consequences for misuse, including privacy and bullying issues.

More on recent studies @ The Atlantic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Evening: Gospel Glory, The Resurrection Advancing

MORE on Dispatches From the Front DVD series @ Tim Challies and how the Gospel is advancing mightily in Southern Sudan and Ethiopia, two countries loosening the grip of Islamic extremists. Progress is being made though there's still a long, long way to go.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One of Many Reasons Jesus Came to Die


Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ has offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:11-12)

One of the greatest phrases of Christian truth is 'once for all.' It comes from one Greek word (ephapax) and means 'once for all time.'

It was a gloomy reality year after year that the priests in Israel had to offer animal sacrifices for the relief of the people. I don't mean there was no forgiveness. God appointed these sacrifices for the relief of the people. They sinned and needed a substitute to bear their punishment. It was mercy that God accepted the ministry of sinful priests and substitute animals.

But there was a dark side to it. It had to be done over and over. The Bible says, 'In these sacrifices there is a reminder of of sin every year.' The people knew that when they laid their hands on the head of a bull to transfer their sins to an animal, it would have to be done again and again. No animal could suffice to suffer for human sins. Sinful priest had to sacrifice for their own sins. Mortal priest had to be replaced. Bulls and goats had no moral life and could not bear the guilt of man. ('It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away the sins of man.'--Hebrews 10:4)

But there was a silver lining around this cloud of priestly insufficiency. If God honored these inadequate things, it must mean that one day he would send a servant qualified to complete what these priests could not perform---to put away sin for once and for all.

That's who Jesus Christ is. He became the final Priest and the final Sacrifice. Sinless, he did not offer sacrifices for himself. Immortal, he never has to be replaced. Human, he could bear human sins. Therefore he did not offer sacrifices for himself; rather he offered himself as the final sacrifice. There will never be the need for another. There is one mediator between us and God. One priest. We need no other. Oh, how happy are those who draw near to God through Jesus Christ alone!

----John Piper, Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Martin Kaymer's Hole-In-One At Augusta



Martin Kaymer

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tornados In/ Around Dallas


Mr. Obama et al: Where the Founding Concept of Constitutional Checks and Balances--And 3 Branches of Government--- Goes to Die


JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT MR. OBAMA couldn't set the bar any lower for his presidency and his by executive-fiat administration, he went and lowered it again yesterday to ground zero.

Almost zero short-term interest rates as determined by our feckless fed chairman have nothing on the condescending, discounting, threatening, disrespectful comments made by this thuggish president regarding the healthcare law's review that he deems just fine (Because he says so! for heaven's sakes!) and shouldn't be changed by a couple of lower echelon unelected Supreme Court justices who don't know what they're talking about.

Does this man's hubris know no bounds?

Apparently not.

Any half-sentient American adult and voter should be horrified by this president's arrogant, presumptuous comments yesterday. I expect the SCOTUS justices are also shocked.  But can they be bullies?  I hope not.

I pray for our country to get through this dark phase of our existence with some modicum of democracy in tact. I pray that the tide of big government is turning and this SCOTUS ruling will be a landmark decision for freedom and return of individual responsibility with less federal government over-reach in the name of the anything-goes commerce clause.

May God have mercy on us all.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dear Matt Drudge


PLEASE, PLEASE TAKE ALL THESE CREEPY LOOKING MEN YOU'VE POSTED OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS off the top of your scroll immediately!  I love to come to Drudge first thing in the morning and late at night but can no longer stand looking at the likes of Al Sharpton, Jessie J and that creepy Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate in Egypt. I don't want to see his face. I don't want  to learn how to spell  his name. And learning to pronounce it is out-of-the-question.

And you can't make me.

Anyway, it helps me sleep better when I can see just an ordinary, garden variety criminal on the top---like Jon Corzine or Ben Bernanke. Or a beautiful conservative rabble rouser like Sarah Palin. Even an aging, photoshopped shot of Hillary in one of her global tunic pantsuits is preferable. But, please don't overdo that one either.

So please no more evil- looking men for a while. We'll all feel better in the long run. Surely you will too. Thank you in advance.

Carry on.

Sincerely yours,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday: Why Jesus Cursed the Fig Tree


THE MORNING AFTER JESUS TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM, on March 31, A.D. 33, as Jesus and his disciples were leaving Bethany, where they had spent the night, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree covered with leaves a little way off the road. He went over to the tree to see if it had any figs, but since it was early in the season, it had only leaves. Jesus said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat your fruit again!' (Mark 11:12-14)

Was Jesus having a temper tantrum because the tree had no fruit for his breakfast? Certainly he knew it was too early in the season for figs, so he used the opportunity for a visual parable. Several passages in the Old Testament liken Israel to a fig tree. Just as the beautiful leaves on the fig tree concealed its lack of fruit, so too the magnificence of the Temple in Jerusalem concealed the fact that Israel---and the Jewish religious leaders---did not have the fruit of righteousness God required. Both the fig tree and the temple looked attractive from a distance, but on closer inspection both had no fruit.

Jesus cursing the fig tree symbolized the curse that would soon fall on Judaism and its temple.

When Jesus and the disciples arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple and found the count of the Gentiles (the outer court) filled with merchants.

When Jews traveled to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple, they  needed to purchase animals for their sacrifices. They also had to pay a temple tax of one shekel to get in which often required  money changers to change Roman currency into Tyrian shekels.  For many years these money changing operations took place at four markets on the nearby Mount of Olives.

But around  A.D. 30, three years before Jesus' crucifixion, the Jewish high priest decided to set up a market in the court of the Gentiles to compete with the markets on the Mount of Olives. The result was the court of Gentiles looked like an Oriental bazaar.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple and saw all this commerce, he began to drive out the merchants and their customers knocking over tables of money changers and stalls of those selling doves, and preventing everyone from bringing in new merchandise. Jesus explained his actions by announcing, 'The Scriptures declare, My House will be called a place of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a a den of thieves.'  (Mark 11:15-17)

To Jesus turning any part of the temple into a market was an abomination. The court of the Gentiles was supposed to be the' place of prayer for all nation,'  but there was no place for them to pray when it was so filled with merchants. This was God's temple and Jesus was no about to allow buying and selling within it.

When the chief priests and teachers of Jewish law heard what Jesus had done, they intensified their plots to kill him.  Nevertheless they were afraid of him because the people were so enthusiastic about his teaching. (Mark 11:18)

The next morning as Jesus and his disciples passed by the fig tree he had cursed the day before,  the disciples noticed that its leaves had dried up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the day before and exclaimed, 'Look Teacher! The fig tree you cursed has withered.' (Mark 11:21)

-----from The One Year Christian History, Michael and Sharon Rusten

Post Script:  Jesus cursed the fig tree in A.D. 33 and saw it wither and die in one day.  It was  not until A.D. 70, some 40 years after Caiphas had set up the markets in the court of the Gentiles that Jesus sent the Roman army---the abomination of desolation---to completely destroy the temple and level Jerusalem..  Sometimes justice is quick but often it's delayed and seems slow in coming.  However long it is in coming, judgment is always certain to happen exactly as prophesied.  Always.


About five hundred years before Jesus' time, the prophet Ezekiel had relayed a vision of the "Shekinah" (the glory) of Yahweh leaving the temple, due to its corruption: "The glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house (the temple) and stopped above the cherubim. The cherubim rose from the earth in my sight as they went out. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them" (Ez. 10: 18-19).
This was one of the most devastatingtexts in the Old Testament. The temple of the Lord was seen as, in almost a literal sense, the dwelling place of God, the meeting place of heaven and earth.

Read more.