Monday, December 30, 2013

Skeet Shooting Over the Marshes


And she's rather good at it, if I do say so.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of Pastor Mike Atkins In 2013: What Is the Fear of the Lord?

Faith-Filled Living In Fear-Filled Times (Pt. 8) from River Crossing on Vimeo.

A RERUN SERMON FROM THIS PAST SUMMER. It's my favorite from Pastor Mike Atkins at River Crossing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on What Is the Fear of the Lord? I need to hear this more than once or twice or even three times. Everything he says here is worthy of deeply meditating on as we go into the last days of 2013 and then into the New Year....God Bless.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Taking A Short Break---Traveling To Narnia and Other Magical Places With the Giddos


If I see anything really interesting,  I'll report back.  Meanwhile, thanks for coming by and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is FACEBOOK Over For Teens? Obamacare Almost Over For Americans?



RHETORICAL QUESTIONS DESERVE ELABORATION.  But the short answers are Yes, Dead and Buried  for de-liking teens everywhere, and Yes, Unraveling for Americans of all political persuasions. 

Teens in the USA and UK aren't  just fleeing  FACEBOOK which is their parents' favorite way to snoop on them,  they're simply not signing up at all.  FACEBOOK is now for old people,  government snooopers, day traders (FB) and mass promotions.  Kids have long since moved on to hipper things. Here's the scoop at Business Insider:

What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried. Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.
Instead, four new contenders for the crown have emerged: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Speaking of moving on,  what about the inevitability of Obamacare now that it's a federal law, for heaven sakes?   John Cochrane at the WSJ sums up our (pleasant) predicament in What To Do When Obamacare Unravels?

The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act presents a historic opportunity for change. Its proponents call it "settled law," but as Prohibition taught us, not even a constitutional amendment is settled law—if it is dysfunctional enough, and if Americans can see a clear alternative.
This fall's website fiasco and policy cancellations are only the beginning. Next spring the individual mandate is likely to unravel when we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance. The employer mandate and "accountable care organizations" will take their turns in the news. There will be scandals. There will be fraud. It will go on for years.

Yes, it could go on for years.  But will it, really?  The key to going forward is for citizens and states to offer viable alternatives---new healthcare apps to unwieldy  federal law while doing everything in our power to make Obamacare as obsolete as FACEBOOK.  Cochrane continues:

There is an alternative. A much freer market in health care and health insurance can work, can deliver high quality, technically innovative care at much lower cost, and solve the pathologies of the pre-existing system.

The U.S. health-care market is dysfunctional. Obscure prices and $500 Band-Aids are legendary. The reason is simple: Health care and health insurance are strongly protected from competition. There are explicit barriers to entry, for example the laws in many states that require a "certificate of need" before one can build a new hospital. Regulatory compliance costs, approvals, nonprofit status, restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, limits on medical residencies, and many more barriers keep prices up and competitors out. Hospitals whose main clients are uncompetitive insurers and the government cannot innovate and provide efficient cash service.
So the choice is clear,  Obamacare is on life-support and our federal tenders may not pull the plug for years.  But we can move on and push for the most innovative companies in the country, and world, to find creative solutions that will leave the humongous federal beast  our rear-view mirrors.

We need to permit the Southwest Airlines, LUV +0.21% Wal-Mart, WMT AMZN +0.57% and Apples of the world to bring to health care the same dramatic improvements in price, quality, variety, technology and efficiency that they brought to air travel, retail and electronics. We'll know we are there when prices are on hospital websites, cash customers get discounts, and new hospitals and insurers swamp your inbox with attractive offers and great service.The Affordable Care Act bets instead that more regulation, price controls, effectiveness panels, and "accountable care" organizations will force efficiency, innovation, quality and service from the top down. Has this ever worked? Did we get smartphones by government pressure on the 1960s AT&T +0.75% phone monopoly? Did effectiveness panels force United Airlines and American Airlines to cut costs, and push TWA and Pan Am out of business? Did the post office invent FedExFDX +0.70% UPS and email? How about public schools or the last 20 or more health-care "cost control" ideas?
Only deregulation can unleash competition. And only disruptive competition, where new businesses drive out old ones, will bring efficiency, lower costs and innovation.

And John, we shouldn't leave CVS and Walgreens out of the mix with their efficient, low-cost minute, walk-in clinics.  There is so much money to be made in opportunities and apps ahead it makes my head spin.

We should all help pull the plug on OC by letting the free market do its magic and create lots of new healthcare APPS---to everyone's financial benefit and improved health. I mean, everyone has a cell phone.

When you think it can't happen, just remember the Prohibition amendment and carry on.  And remember,  OC is the world's bigges, most laborious bore.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Forever Does Away With the Idea of Cheap Grace


CHEAP GRACE IS THE ENEMY OF THE CHURCH. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general intellectual assent to that idea is held to be itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...grace without discipleship, grace without a cross....Costly grace is the gospel [of the real church]...It is costly because it costs a man his life, and grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God....When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Too many people think of Jesus as a glorified Santa who will give us whatever we want if we come to Him in an external and superficial way and just go to church and be fairly good---or not do anything really bad.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The reality is that before we can accept the incomparable gift of Jesus as our Savior, we must come to know, really know, that we need it. And Him.

In other words, we have to accept the really bad news about ourselves and begin to repent (a life-long process) before embracing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  And by the way,  we ALL are sinners in need of hearing the bad  news---and that's the main issue I have with Phil Robertson's message. Everyone of us sins daily in the eyes of God, if only in our hearts which is just as much sin as acting it out.

Sin is about so, so much more than sexual sin.  It's so much broader, deeper and more pervasive.

Merry Christmas!  And thanks for coming by.

Thanks to Redeemer Presbyterian, Manhattan, Eastside


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tis The Night Before Christmas....


The Second Coming will be an entirely different matter, according to the Scriptures.  Entirely different matter.

Those who can  know and are fortunate enough to accept the bad news of mankind are able to grasp the Good News of Jesus coming in a manger.  We are ALL sinners in need of a Savior.  Blessed are those who are sinners and know it and therefore can embrace the greatest gift that is offered today by the Triune God.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Santa On A Sleigh Or Jesus In A Manger?


IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE SON OF GOD, LIGHT OF THE WORLD AND LORD OF THE UNIVERSE, then look down to a dimly lite stall in a stable, not up.

Otherwise, carry on.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weighing In On the Phil Robertson Flap



MANY YEARS AGO,  I had a near religious 'conversion' experience around the meaning of the FIRST AMENDMENT.  Until then, I just thought I knew what it all meant.  I began to see the light soon after I became a neophyte newspaper reporter for a big morning daily---and started getting knocked around by my editors on one side and the reading public on the other.

My editors, big First Amendment  guys---in the John Kennedy sense---- were mostly old-time liberal Democrats who were determined to instill in me and all of us a triple dose of what the First Amendment means to America and the freedoms we so often take for granted.  (Years later,  the publisher of my newspaper, one of my personal 1st Amendment mentors, became the first head of the First Amendment Center established by Gannett and the late Al Neuharth right here in Nashville, Tennessee---and you thought Nashville was only about country music.)

In retrospect,  I look back on this difficult learning experience with a great deal of gratitude and humility, in spite of my sometimes tears and trepidation.

It was then and there that I learned in no uncertain terms that the First Amendment means that everyone has a inalienable right to speak their minds---however wise or seemingly crude or depraved--- and to contribute to the marketplace of ideas. (That of course comes with rare exceptions, including an imminent threat to kill oneself or someone else.) 

More importantly,  I learned that embracing the First Amendment also means that in a free country each of us will be offended early and often. Let me say that again:  the 1st means, we all will be offended at some point and usually at many points.  If we're not offended, then we're not breathing or don't have a pulse.

I personally am offended everyday when I visit each and every of my favorite sites.  I wonder,  what is it that Kim Kardashian has to offer in another string bikini expose?  I think, how so many of our low-life icons are dumbing down the global conversation on every front?

But the good news for all of us is that poor taste is covered under the First.

I also was taught in the city room that most people give only tacit support to the 1st, as long as they mostly agree with what's said,  and  are cruising with people, places and ideas within their comfort zone.  Unfortunately, when most people hear a horrifying message, they want to banish the message AND the messenger.   It's off with their heads!  It's human nature.  But, it's not what the 1st Amendment is about.

In spite of all this learning, the most important thing I learned about the 1st is that in a responsible (adult) society, each individual self-censors what he hears, reads, sees.  This is an important leap from  government censoring in communist/socialist countries and it presumes an adult society where individuals accept the freedom of expression along with the responsibility of self-censorship. That means if we don't like what we read, hear or see, we  turn off the TV,  turn the page,  refuse to support the sponsor and click to another site.  We can also start a blog, write a book, make a comment, write a letter to the editors or make a FACEBOOK rant.

The marketplace of ideas has gotten bigger, louder and much more open, even as our society is regressing and wanting daddy government to do everything for them/us.

Fast forward  several decades to the end of 2013.  Enter the incredibly immature, crass Miley Cyrus. And the crude Phil Robertson, my brother in Christ. On both ends of the spectrum---either way, both offer offense, and an opportunity for adults of all persuasions to self-censor or cry to daddy government to censor freedom of speech.

So what do I think of the Phil Robertson flap?

First: I think Phil expressed himself honestly but in an extremely crude, tasteless and counter-productive way, even for a duck guy.  If he's trying to win souls to Christ,  as he says he is,  he's being ineffective.  I'm embarrassed by both his style and substance.o  However,  Phil is totally within his First Amendment rights both in what he said and the way he said it.  As a listener or reader my recourse----if I disagree--- is to walk away,  turn off the computer or TV or to write a comment or rant wherever I like.  In other words,  to self-censor.  Again, the First Amendment covers red necks and poor taste.

Second,  I understand the gay radicals righteous indignation over Robertson's remarks.  However,  I think it's unrealistic  and  reverse bigotry to think the PC Police can scream loud enough to subdue each and every opposing opinion and into its radical agenda.  It's never going to happen. Of all the regressed parts of society,  I think the radical gay left is the most immature and unrealistic when it comes to the First Amendment. It's won many battles, like gay civil unions and more.  However,  it doesn't want to stop there as it demands total acceptance while refusing to give one iota up  to opposing views in the marketplace of ideas, especially traditional and biblical worldviews.  In spite of the political victories, its total search-and-destroy mission  will never work.  Its in-our-faces attitude is just as offensive as  Robertson's poor taste.

Finally, the A&E  channel:  OK,  it has a right to knee-jerk fire Phil Robertson for the sake of political correctness.  But what does that accomplish?   Camille Paglia says it's Utterly Facist, Utterly Stalinist and I agree.  Not much except a sense of self-righteous indignation, a lost successful cable show and a lost opportunity to further a mature conversation instead of the immature decision of cut-off.   Its action also adds to Phil Robertson's good ole boy mystique and popularity.  Still A & E's politically correct censorship is its right also even if it cuts off its nose to spite its face.

In the end,  Phil Robertson and family will stand together and go on in new directions and probably get stronger as he preaches to his  loyal band of followers. The radical left will carry on too and probably be as strident as ever as it appeals to its radical followers.   For now,  the gaps of co-existence seem to be getting wider and more tense, in our fallen world even as Matt Drudge gets ten million more hits a day from headlining this fray.

What needs to remain strong and firm in all this is the First Amendment---our freedom of self-expression as well as our responsibility to self-censor, not asking the government to do it for us, or to try to totally wipe out the opposition.  We cannot let the PC police take over our free country with intimidation upon intimidation.

Again, the First Amendment assures that we'll be offended early and often and if we want to keep a free country, we'd better get used to it, no matter what our political, religious and cultural point of view.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ending Spending Inc. Making Incumbants Squirm

SHAMEFUL: THIS BUDGET DEAL IS NOT CONSERVATIVE Conservatives do not have to choose between demanding fiscal restraint and opposing Obamacare. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Today, we vocally oppose ending spending caps because sequestration is working as planned. Since 2011, it has limited the size of government in a real way. Government spending had fallen for two consecutive years for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, according to CBO numbers. HOPEFULLY, THIS GROUP WILL BE UNRELENTING IN KEEPING UP THEIR GOOD WORK IN EACH AND EVERY STATE.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scrooge Blogging The Holidays



THINK IF I HEAR EVEN A LITTLE BIT OF O HOLY NIGHT OR HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS ONE MORE TIME ON MY CAR RADIO IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, I'll go into a fit of apoplexy.  I might even get out of my car and go screaming down the street... Please no more of this nonsense until Christmas eve!  Guess I'll have to turn the radio off.

So here's a little antidote---a welcome change of pace---to way too much sentimental, high drama music way too soon.  Love this high-energy percussion piece.   It's performed by Top Secret Drum Corps in Edinburgh, Scotland and seems like a festive way to introduce the Christmas season.

More on Top Secret

Back Into the Fray----Sorta


I ADMIT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR IS NOT MY STRONG SUIT.  Normally high-energy,  I find myself becoming quiet and more self-contained in spite of the activity all around me.  I did go to a fabulous Christmas party last  night and had a good time.  Still this happens like clockwork every year. After a lovely, mostly quiet weekend at Sewanee,  I came home with less to say or read or opine about.  It's a  welcome dullness  which I don't want to do anything about.

On my way to do some errands and exercise in the fabulous  morning sun.  Will do a couple of links I find interesting today:

Multivaitamins have no health benefits. In fact, over the years when I tried to take supplements, I felt worse instead of better, so my own experience tells me this study is probably true. We get nutrients from real foods, unencumbered with chemicals, flavor enhancers, preservatives, sugars, gluten and MSGs. Period.

Stuart Schneiderman @ Had Enough Therapy? has a piece this morning about how many high-profile stars are now eschewing botox---Saving Their Faces From Botox. I've never had botox and never will. I mediated a botox case in Teton County Court, Wyoming several years ago and if it ever even crossed my mind, all thought of it vanished forever when I took this vitriolic, bitter case.  It's just another addiction with lots of unintended consequences.  Thank God the negative effects are temporary.

Camille Paglia was featured on Drudge yesterday with her pronouncement that---in spite of it all---It's  A Man's World, and Always Will Be. Can't tell you how much I agree with her piece. Second and third wave feminism, like second, third wave environmentalism, brings a more strident, nazi-like attitude into public discourse. These people, while decrying real men and attempting to elevate women to superhuman status ironically digress into magical thinking that demands the American taxpayer pay for all birth control, abortion and whatever else they say goes along with their reproductive rights. They continue to beat the drum for rights, rights without any responsibilities. It's a regressed, entitled attitude that makes these women---like Sandra Flukes of the world---look immature and just plain crazy.  How insane is that?

Finally,  Wesley Pruden @ Washington Times----The Global Warming Scam That Won't Die. Nobody says it better than he does.

Will be back to add some more links if I see some.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Into the Silence For Weekend Advent Retreat

ONE OF MY FAVORITE WAYS TO PREPARE FOR CHRISTMAS----AND THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD---is to go into the deep silence, stillness and starkness of the new winter season for a few days. No  better place than the community at St. Mary's Retreat Center outside Sewanee. 

No computers, cell phones (okay, I will have mine in my room), TVs or talking (except for the evening meals). May even do a partial fast. Just wish it were a bit longer. But this time of reflection will indeed be a gift at a time given over to over-the-top  consumerism, over-eating and drinking and non-stop activities.  It's a great time to take stock of the past year, meditate on Scripture, pray and give quiet thanks to God in the community of fellow believers for His greatest gift to the world of His Son.  Below is a wonderful psalm to meditate on at such an occasion:

Waiting for the Redemption of the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

130 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Photos From Down Under: Perks of Power In A Selfie World



ALL FUN AND GAMES, INCLUDING WARMLY WELCOMING THE CUBAN DESPOT'S BRO.  Nonetheless, these kinds of celebrity events have got to be among the most boring global get-togethers of all---long waits, jet-lag, bad food, public preening, exhausting small talk not to mention addictive cell phone using and drinking.

BUT,  at least we can be grateful for small favors---Anthony Weiner wasn't there with his cell phone. Whew!

Above, President Barack Obama yuks it up with Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British prime minister David Cameron  during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

More photos with names.  Michelle was not all that amused during this little photo op, was she?  Actions in poor taste are never really amusing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Book Review On 'The Book of Matt' @ PJMedia


HAVEN'T WRITTEN MUCH FOR PJMEDIA LATELY with weddings, grandchildren and more travel coming into this chapter of my life.  Still, when I recently read Stephen Jimenez's amazing, myth-busting  new book---The Book of Matt,  released this fall,  I decided it was time to send a query to Aaron Hanscomb, managing editor @ PJMedia.  He graciously accepted my idea----including the ordeal of my spelling indiscretions---and here is the finished piece. Thanks,  Aaron. It's always a privilege to write for you and Founder/Writer Emeritus Roger L. Simon.  In addition,  thanks always go to Gerard Vanderleun  @ American Digest for giving me my first chance to write for PJMedia years ago.  What a lucky girl I am!

Remember the horrific hate crime committed against Matthew Shephard in Laramie,  Wyoming 15 years ago?   You may be shocked at the real story in this new book and how wrong the MSM got it from the start.  Another glaring example of fast-fiction in the days of sloppy, politically correct journalism---or what passes for journalism. Law enforcement got it mostly wrong too and made far too many mistakes, including suppressing many salient  facts---chronicled by Jimenez.  Among many other things,  this book shows that jumping to conclusions usually produces untruth upon untruth that then gets crystallized---pun intended---into, I mean myth.

The real story is in Jimenez's book which I highly, highly recommend.  Take a look at my review  and see what you think. Then give thanks that there are still journalists and critical thinkers in America like Mr.  Jimenez, a gay writer who took 12 years to research, write and publish this stunning, meticulous book. Thanks Stephen for truly raising the bar of real journalism in America in the age of fast news fiction, and politically correct news morsels.  It is a privilege to give Mr. Jimenez a review worthy of the long, persistent work he did on writing The Book of Matt.

But don't stop here.  Get the book for the full blown-away reading experience with shocking surprises too numerous to mention.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent, A Time of Preparation: The True Gift of Christmas


THE CENTRAL EVENT of Christmas is that Jesus Christ was not just born. Jesus is the one great personage who wasn’t simply born.

 The teaching of the Bible, of course, is that he had an existence before he was born, and therefore, Jesus was not just born; he was given to us. He’s the gift Christmas is about. You see what Paul says. ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’

This is the one gift that, if you have it, you have all the other gifts That’s what Paul is saying. This is the one gift that, if you reject it, you lose all other gifts. That’s what Paul is saying. This is a theme of the Bible. There are some other Christmas passages that talk about this. For example, Isaiah 9. It’s one of the texts on which the Messiah is based.

 For unto us a Child is born
 Unto us a Son is given

It’s a gift. John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …’ Here we have Paul saying God ‘… did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all …’ Therefore, as Paul says elsewhere, Jesus Christ is the inexpressible gift. Inexpressible he says. ‘Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!’

---Tim Keller, Pastor Redeemer Presbytrian Church,  NYC

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Life Well Lived, Greatly Purposed

  REMINDING US THAT FREEDOM OFTEN COMES AT A VERY HIGH PRICE. A cost that few are willing to pay, especially in a way that's inspirational to the entire world.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turn.It.Off. Utah


Here are a few details on the town of Bluffdale, Utah making a 'sweet' deal with the feds and NSA on water. Chances are, Bluffdale will never cut the water off  because it wants the NSA deal to bring economic development and jobs.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jesus Speaks to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, About The Need of Being Born Again

SO HERE IN NICODEMUS YOU HAVE AN INSIDER, an altogether admirable person---pulled together, successful, disciplined moral, religious, yet open-minded. (from John 3)

And what does Jesus say to him?  He uses a different metaphor with the Insider (Nicodemus) than he one he used with the Outcast (the woman at the well). Rather than pressing him on his lack of satisfaction by saying 'I can give you living water', he's pressing him on his smug self-satisfaction.('You must be born again'). What did you have to do, Jesus is asking, with being born? Did you work hard to earn the privilege of being born? Did it happen due to your skillful planning? Not at all. You don't earn or contribute anything to being born.  It is a free gift of life.  And so it is with the new birth.  Salvation is by grace---there are no moral efforts that can earn or merit it.  You must be born again.

This is an astounding thing to say to a man like Nicodemus.  Jesus is saying that the pimps and the prostitutes outside on the street are in the same position, spiritually, as he is.  There is Nicodemus, flush with his moral and spiritual accomplishments, and there is someone out on the street who is homeless and addicted, and as far as God is concerned they are equally lost.

How dare Jesus say that?

Jesus can say it because he is working on a deeper understanding of sin than most people have.  Let me bring the word back now with all its cultural baggage. Look at the woman at the well---the Outsider.  Most people probably understand why Jesus would regard her as a sinner in need of salvation.  But most people can't understand why Jesus treats the Insider, Nicodemus, they way he does. Why would Jesus tell this good man that he has done essentially nothing to earn a place in heaven?

Here is the surprising answer:  Sin is looking to something else besides God for your salvation.  It is putting yourself in the place of God, becoming your own savior and lord, as it were.  That's the biblical definition of sin---the first of the Ten Commandaments.  One way to do this is to break all the moral rules in your pursuit of pleasure and happiness, like the woman at the well. This makes sex or money or power into a kind of salvation.  But then there is the religious way to be your own savior and lord.  That is to act as if your good life and moral achievement will essentially require God to bless you and answer your prayers the way you want.

In this case, you are looking to your moral goodness and efforts to give you the significance and security that nonreligious people look to sex, money and power to give them. What is insiduous about thsi is that religious people constantly talk about trusting in God---but if you think your goodness is even contributing to your salvation, then you are actually being your own savior. You are trusting in yourself. While you may in this case not be committing adultery or literally robbing people, your heart will increasingly be filled with such pride, self-righteousness, insecurity, envy and spite that you made the world a miserable place to live for those around you.

So you see, Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman are equal sinners in need of Grace.  And so are well all. In every case, you are trying to be your own savior and lord, trying to put God in your debt, or at least trying to tilt the odds of the universe in your favor.

Either way, Jesus calls it sin. He says that you---we all---need living water and that you need to be born again to get it.  You need to repent, admit your need, ask God to receive you for Christ's sake, and be converted.

-----Tim Keller,  Encounters With Jesus

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Means Just That---Prayerfully Giving Thanks for All Our Many Blessings



Rather than running to the mall later today or Friday with the horrific traffic and crowds---my idea of hell, by the way--- why not take a slow, grateful walk in the woods after Thanksgiving turkey, roasted brussel sprouts and a sliver of apple crisp?

It's freezing cold here in Nashville, and will be in Manhattan when I get these tomorrow.  Long silk underwear  and a good roasting pan are a girl's best friend today.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Will add a couple of links for our edification:

Tom Blumer   wirtes a lovely Thanksgiving tribute to his late mother who just died and decries the absense of the sentiment of prayers in the phrase my thoughts are with you.

My thoughts and prayers are indeed with him and his family.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pruden: Obama Does the Full Grovel To Iran In Geneva


THERE'S GOOD NEWS AND BAD news in Barack Obama’s sucker deal with Iran. The Iranians get all the good news, and the West gets all the bad news. The only good news for the good guys is that the deal, like Obamacare, is President Obama’s baby.

Sometimes, the baby daddy has to pay up.

 The president and his administration, having done the full grovel in Geneva, is now into full defensive mode. Stung by the cries of disbelief in Washington from a growing number of his partisan allies in Congress, the president insists that his handiwork “halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.” But it has done no such thing. The deal, or the “interim accord” as the Western deal-makers insist on calling it, does not even meet the requirements of several United Nations resolutions insisting on suspension of all enrichment of uranium before it gets relief from the sanctions that were driving the mullahs in Tehran to cry “uncle.”

Mr. Obama, the crafty Chicago politician, is counting on the maxim that “all politics is local,” that the talk of centrifuges, the plutonium reactor at Arak, and oxidation of 5 percent against the enrichment of 20 percent, will quickly make everyone’s eyes glaze over and we can get back to the important affairs of state that everyone understands, such as whether to change the name of the Redskins.

The deal, signed at 3 o’clock in the morning, when diplomats are supposed to be in bed, was meant to distract attention from the spectacular collapse of Obamacare. But the point of “all politics is local,” as any Chicago alderman could tell the president, is that if you fix the pothole, the suckers will pay no attention to the mischief at hand, but you’ve got to actually fix the pothole. This pothole — the Affordable Care Act — is unfixable, a pothole without a bottom.

 Mr. Obama sold himself as the man who could charm the Muslims into the 21st century because he understood the Islamic mind. Hadn’t he grown up in the Islamic world, listening to the call to evening prayer, “the prettiest sound in the world”? He would make nice with the Muslims, and they would make nice with the West.

 But they’re not even making nice with Barack Obama. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, who decides whose deal gets ratified and who loses his head, couldn’t resist playing the game by his own rules. He spent the weekend crowing, not bothering to hide his agenda. “I thank God that … the new government … was able to legitimize the Iranian nation’s nuclear program on the international stage and take the initial step in a way that the nuclear rights and the enrichment rights of the Iranian nation are acknowledged by world powers.”

The new president, Hassan Rouhani, did a little taunting himself. “No matter whether the world wants it or not,” he said, “this path [to the bomb] will, God willing, continue to the peak.” The “peak,” as everyone with eyes and ears understands, is the development of the nuclear bomb to destroy Israel and intimidate everyone else in the Middle East. For all their comic bluster, meant for the Muslim street, the big ayatollah and all the little ayatollahs in Tehran have always believed that America and the West have no choice but to accept Islam as a nuclear equal.

 “Looking back at the past decade,” wrote Mohammad Mohammadi, regarded as an Iranian authority on his country’s nuclear affairs, “all the red lines by America and the West over Iran’s nuclear issue have now been transformed into acceptance. America has always adopted radical actions at first that have changed to symbolic measures later.”

After that, the acceptance. He’s right about that. The governing elites in the West have trouble recognizing deep belief and conviction as calls to action. Having abandoned religious faith themselves, except for the convenient rituals of weddings and funerals, the elites do not understand those who act on religious conviction, however perverted the convictions may be.

The threats and boasts by the mullahs in Tehran, like the braggadocio of the fanatics in Pyongyang, can sound like the stuff of “Saturday Night Live.” But despite the promises of the leaders of the West that it could never happen, North Korea has the bomb, and Iran is well on its way to raising the dust and making the noise of the big one. The Israelis, so scorned by Mr. Obama and his friends, stand alone as the West’s last hope.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pastor Tim Keller Answers the Question: What Hope Does the Promise of Everlasting Life Hold for Us?

REMINDING US, the present fallen world is not all there is. There's so much more than we could ever imagine or fathom.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Advent App


Friday, November 22, 2013

Priceless: What's in A Name Now That It's Not Working?



 H/T WHD Thanks, Keith. A Washington classic.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Itty Ward's First Year

Ward Miles - First Year from BenjaminScot on Vimeo.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday: Pastor Mike Atkins @ River Crossing On the Need For Persistence In Prayer



11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Friday, November 15, 2013

For Your Viewing Horror---Gravity Spoof Of Being Trapped In..... IKEA

SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENED TO ME IN AN IKEA OUT SIDE D.C. When I finally found my way out, after getting separated from a friend whom I never reconnected with,   I searched 10 minutes for my car. The final hurdle was getting back on the I-495 beltway in time for the 5-o'clock  traffic.

Never Again! And I've never looked back.

NY POST Says It All: The Unaffordable Healthcare Fact

OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NANNY STATE HAS TRULY  OUTDONE ITSELF THIS TIME. The healthcare law is an unmitigated disaster that creates many more problems than it  seeks to cure,  at  much higher, unaffordable costs to everyone. Everyone.

“I’m telling you that the cure is the disease. The main source of illness in this world is the doctor’s own illness: his compulsion to try and cure and his fraudulent belief that he can. It ain’t easy to do nothing, now that society is telling everyone that the body is fundamentally flawed and about to self-destruct.” 

The Fat Man, The House of God, by Samuel Shem, p. 215

Review of The Dallas Buyers Club  and the murderous ways of government, by John Tamny

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday---Wonderful Reminder: Be The Smile of God To Your Children


HE'S A SQUIRMY ONE, HE IS.  If I don’t watch him, he’ll wriggle off the bed.

But he doesn’t want to. He’s enjoying the tickle fight too much. I can’t blame him. Those giggles make this father’s heart want to leap out of my chest. I wonder how long this laugh will last. Reflect on the tickle fight with me.

See the layers of reality at work. Triune Joy in Our Little Home On the surface: an adult male and a one-year-old of the species, smiles, laughter, darting fingers, kicking legs, squeals, deep breaths, rapid kisses on the neck, raspberries on the belly, and did I mention the laughter? Beneath the surface: emotional bonding, fatherly affection, wide-eyed childhood delight. A contribution to the child’s sense of safety and security in the world. Perhaps he’ll be “well-adjusted” (or at least better adjusted). This will, no doubt, help him on his standardized tests. Beneath and in and through it all, Trinitarian fullness is being extended.

The Joy that made the mountains is concentrated in my home. Fatherly delight is at the heart of reality. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” It plays on a looping tape in the back of my mind. Thus sayeth the Lord to his Son. Thus sayeth the Lord to all of his sons that are in the Son. Tickle Fights Are High Theology This is the pitch of fatherhood. This is the melody line of motherhood. This ought to be the dominant note in the familial symphony. Delight, Pleasure, Joy. This tickle fight is high theology.

This scene is a picture, a parable of a glory that existed before the world did. It’s a display and an invitation. Father and son are being beckoned into the divine life and joy. Only I will remember it distinctly. The scene will pass through my son’s mind and out of his memory. And yet, in a sense, it’s the most spiritual thing I can do for him. My delight and pleasure in him can leave a mark on him that will outlive the sun. “Father,” I pray, taking a breath in the war of laughter to go directly to God, “make it so.” How to Be His Smile This is our fundamental calling as parents — to be the smile of God to our children.

We are charged by God to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God himself has commanded us to communicate to our children what he is like. And God is fundamentally a Happy Father, a Well-Pleased Parent. And just as the Father communicates his delight in his Son through his words and deeds and demeanor and presence, so also should we.

Four suggestions for starters:

1) Be thrilled about what they are thrilled about. Join them in their joy, however simple and childlike. Whether it’s drawing a stick figure or building a castle out of blocks, be lavish with your “well-dones” and “good jobs.” Find the good and the glory in everything they do. When they pull out the pots and pans, and turn them into drums, there is imagination and creativity to rejoice in.

2) Recognize that an atmosphere of joy and delight is the only environment in which discipline is safe and good. Sin poisons the gladness of a godly home and breaks the fellowship of the family. Wise discipline quickly sets things right — clear explanations, swift discipline (whether spanking or otherwise), sincere repentance, prayerful repentance, and then restoration of the sweet gladness of fellowship.

3) Remember that the main way they experience joy is through laughter and play. Fun is joy in kid form. There are more complex joys that come with increasing maturity. But the only way that they will grow into them is if they are well-acquainted with the simple pleasures of play. So be a good missionary and contextualize. Translate joy into their language. This doesn’t mean that you should stay shallow or trivial. It does mean that family devotions ought to be marked by gladness and delight, by bright eyes, loud singing, and manifest affection. And if a tickle fight should happen to break out every now and then, count yourself blessed and see it as success.

4) Make the most of temporary separations and reunions. Communicate your pleasure in them as you leave and your excitement when you return. Leave with laughter and come home happy. Let the exuberance in your voice and the warmth of your smile and the brightness of your eyes reveal to them the God who joyously sings over his people, the father who runs to his son when he sees him on the horizon. And so again, to all moms and dads, embrace the joy of your calling. Your Father is smiling on you.

 So be the smile of God to your children.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hilarious and Adorable Tantrums: Halloween Candy Monster Strikes Again

WE ALL NEED TO LAUGH SOMETIMES. Jimmy Kimmel is brilliant on this one.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

'The Book of Matt' Author Stephen Jimenez Answers Questions About Explosive Revelations In His New Book

AS I SORT OUT THIS AMAZING NEWLY-RELEASED BOOK  ON THE 1998 MURDER OF MATTHEW SHEPHERD OUTSIDE LARAMIE, WY and the courageous, meticulous journalism that went into reporting and writing it over more than a decade,  I plan to say more.

Perhaps my intense interest in knowing the real----as opposed to the mythological, highly politicized storyline that became a massive gay-baiting industry and federal religion over the past 15 years----is that it takes place in  a state and on Interstate corridors I've known, loved and traveled for decades---in Wyoming, and specifically in and around the college town of Laramie.

I cannot recommend Jimenez's book  more highly. At the same time, the often explosive, complex  contents are extremely unsettling, especially in the aftermath of the highly charged and politicized Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman media circus.

More than anything else, media and law enforcement agencies are slowly seen and indited for not thorougly investigating this tragic murder as they got caught up in the national media frenzy, saying what news people wanted to hear rather than the truth they knew deep down.

Once the myth was made within days of the terrible murder, there was no going back.....until now.  Now is better than never.

If you dare to read The Book of Matt prepare to have your eyes opened about what you've been fed by the MSM and  gay communities.  Nothing got in the way of myth-making.

The Book of Matt is a story for and of our time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday: Mark Driscoll On Pretend Christianity From Exodus 20

DRISCOLL INTERVIEWED ON DEATH OF CHRISTENDOM, WHAT REFORMED THEOLOGY MEANS THE FOOLS PARADE ON PARADE. Pastor Mark Driscoll intends to offend everyone. Below Driscoll discusses on idolatry and worship---it's not just a Sunday thing:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting Mad At the Gym, Obamacare 'Substandard' Insurance Edition



But really, I have an excuse or two:  I got other stuff to do. I don't have time to sit down to read and write anymore.  The government nanny state's got my tongue. I'm in an altered state of big government/culture-shock consciousness.

Sometimes a girls gotta take a chill and try to forget everything but roasting brussel sprouts and making pumpkin pie, now that it's cool enough to turn on the oven. Why should I think or write or read anymore when the federal government wants to do it all for me anyway?

So after a good nights sleep, this rainy Thursday morning, I was minding my own business on some exercise machine at my little anytime Snap Fitness gym, when a clip of our president came on Fox News in front of my very eyes. Mr. Obama was expounding on health insurance and it went something like this:

Hey all you stupid voter vassels out there! It's OK if you really, really, really want to keep your sub-standard health insurance policy. But we in the elite/know-what's-best-for-you  federal government offer you a much better comprehensive coverage and think you ought to take it.

The  more this president talked, the faster and longer I walked,  truly offended to hear yet again that he and the liberal Congress know what's best for me.

How dare he tell me I ought to buy something I have no intention of buying just because he says so!  How dare he?  How dare them?  How dare we as citizens let it come to this?

I mean, how much more of this federal over-reach of our minds, our hearts, our pocketbooks, preferences and most of all our freedoms are we Americans going to stand for?  I happen to like my high-deductible, uncomprehensive  policy and don't want his ridiculous comprehensive coverage at any cost. It isn't insurance anyway, but total, mindless blind coverage for a population apparently hellbent on letting the feds---read that the few remaining tax paying citizens---cover everything  no matter how trivial. That's not insurance.   It's creating health care addiction ando ongoing culture of dependency.

As bad as President Obama is, and he's  the worst president in my lifetime, we, the American people, are worse for letting this happen. We're like frogs being boiled in oil, as the temperature slowly rises, imperceptibly so we don't know what's happening.

When in the name of heaven are we going to say ENOUGH!  If we don't soon, we'llrea ch the point of no return; our country will go the way of even more progressive destruction and degradation with no turning back.

Meanwhile,  I go to the gym and exercise it off as best I can wondering how we can rise up and upgrade from this substandard president.  And  Congress.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jefferson Bethke---Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two of My Favorite Writers On the Obamacare Rollout Fiasco--Eating Jalapenos Edition


Hard times, as a wise old friend of mine was fond of saying, will make a monkey eat red pepper. That’s why Democrats, who only yesterday vowed to hold the Maginot Line forever against Republican demands to delay the implementation of wise and wonderful Obamacare, are lining up now to burn their tongues with a dash or two of jalapeno. We can expect to see Barack Obama join the jalapeno line soon. His health care scheme is crashing around him, with debris falling on friend and foe alike, and the White House is in full panic mode. It’s fun to watch, even if it’s not nice to say so.
SECOND, STUART SCHNEIDERMAN @ HAD ENOUGH THERAPY WRITES ANOTHER NEAR-PERFECT PIECE, Kirsten Powers Lets Fly in which he points out how interesting it is to watch and read about the liberal Powers' anguish in seeing her high hopes for Big Government fixes come crashing down----no pun intended---with the failed rollout of the miserable online healthcare exchange:
Kirsten Powers is fast becoming every conservative’s favorite liberal. She has unimpeachable integrity and always tells it like it is. Yesterday, she explained the stakes in the Obamacare website fiasco. Only a true liberal could experience the anguish Powers feels when she sees that her faith in big government is being discredited by ineptitude. Powers wrote:
The rollout of the insurance exchange that is central to the success of the Affordable Care Act has been nothing short of a disaster. This failure is a double whammy: it puts the future of Obamacare in even greater peril while placing Obama’s case for activist government on life support. If the government can’t build a functioning website to support the most important initiative of the president’s administration, then how can it be trusted to do anything? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told The Wall Street Journal that the botched launch of the $400 million website was “another challenge that’s no worse than the near-death experiences” the health-care law has seen over the past three years. But it is a million times worse, because it’s self-inflicted. This time, Obama can’t blame Republicans.
Indeed, finally into his second term our intrepid yet inept president has finally succeeded in backing himself and his administration into such a corner, that he simply can't blame any Republicans this time.  Obamacare
is his signature legislation and with it comes the inescapable duty of taking responsibility, the inability of not passing the buck and the possibility of national awakening of epic proportions on the limits of good intentions and of what bureaucrats in Washington can and cannot do.

Is Obamacare mortally wounded?  Probably not, at least not yet.  However like an injured chicken that's pecked to death by its fellow-chickens---no pun intended in the symbolism, or is there?---this grandiose law and massive intrustion by the nanny federal government may be chronically or even terminally ill.  We may not know the prognosis for a while.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prince George Christened At St. James Palace On St. James Day

FOR INQUIRING MINDS who've been wondering all day why Prince George, chubby, contented little  heir to the British throne, was christened today of all days, a Wednesday, at St. James Palace (  St. James the Less, one of the 12 apostles of Christ.

 Think I  might have  At least in the Episcopal Church in America, today is the feast day of St. James, one of the 12  Apostles. Or is it the feast day of James the half-brother of Jesus?  There are so many James in the Gospels and book of Acts that  I may be wrong  on this one.  However, I was at an Anglican/Episcopal service this mornig and it was noted that this was the feast day of St.  James.  I think it's St. James who is one of the original apostles.  Not to be confused  with St. James, the brother of John.

Are you confused yet?  I am, a little.

Anyway,  I would think that since the royals were having their little heir christened at the Palace of St. James, doing it on an Anglican feast day honoring one of the St. James---if not all of them---might be why they did it today.  However,  I can find no verification of this in surveying the news.

But makes sense to me...sort of.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Klavan On Worst Minority Group

KLAVAN ON THE CULTURE HITS ANOTHER HOME RUN.  Andrew is always clever and funny....sort of. Mercifully, he spared us of any mention of the Kardashians!

H/T American Digest

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, Musings On Truth Verses Relativism and the Loss of God-Centered Living


THIS IS AN ESPECIALLY POIGNANT SERMON BY PASTOR MIKE ATKINS OF JACKSON HOLE on the inherent differences betwewn a life founded on rock-solid standards and Biblical principles and those which are not---also known as moral relativism.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When Will Taxpayers Learn? An Embarassed (Freshly Self-Neutered) GOP Needs To Learn To Love the Idea of Default...


The one (mythological) issue that unites right and left is that federal default, even though the numbers involved would be token, would drive a massive recession; this despite the fact that we've defaulted before, not to mention that credit that migrates away from Treasuries would reach real economic ideas. This is the latest big lie unfairly foisted on Americans by the anointed; literally the same people who said failure to bail out Citi would lead to the 'Mother of All Great Depressions.'

By John Tamny @ Forbes

A Wall Street Journal headline from Wednesday in many ways told the ridiculous tale of a very minor federal government shutdown, and the subsequent cave by a scared-of-its-own-rhetoric Republican party.  “Uncertainty Chips Away at Prestige” was the headline, and the article alleged reduced prestige for the U.S. globally in light of a budget fight taking place domestically.

It all sounds very bad until we remember that the headline was mostly aimed at our political clout.  In the politics profession, one’s prestige is a function of how much he or she can fleece the taxpayers for highway systems, airports, space programs, and yes, healthcare on demand that’s ‘generously’ provided by the government.  No doubt in the ‘spending the money of others’ sense, U.S. political class prestige vis-à-vis its serial plunderers globally is well down in light of the just ended budget fight, but then isn’t that the point?

Quite unlike the rest of the world where political power is the rule, the U.S. was founded by very wise men who first granted the federal political class a government, then proceeded to severely limit that same government’s power and prestige.  In that case, a budget impasse driven by frustrated Americans surely is a blow to the political class’s international prestige among politicians. With good reason.  The ability to dole out big sums of other people’s money serves as the proverbial scoreboard in politics.  But then we’re not like the others, and that’s a good thing.

The Republicans gave in on their budget fight, they essentially did so for nothing in return to read the media accounts, and a common explanation for why is that the polls were moving against them.  In short, politics drove their decision to hand President Obama a victory, but by virtue of Obama winning, this wasn’t very good politics.  Either way, the Republicans talk a big game about limiting their time in very alien Washington, D.C., but then given a chance to risk their plush jobs in Congress on their professed belief in limited government, they quickly retreated.

To the above, the popular answer is that for the Republicans to truly shrink government they must control it through elections.  That all sounds nice, but as evidenced by a prescription drug benefit, Sarbanes-Oxley, along with nosebleed spending increases when they controlled Congress in the early part of the 2000s, the notion that Republicans would reveal government-shrinking prudence once in power isn’t terribly compelling.  Better it would be if the GOP had continued to keep the federal government shut down, thus revealing an ability to control as least parts of federal spending. This would have to be better than the post-shutdown headlines we’re seeing now describing how the Republicans lost to President Obama.....

The response to such a strategy beyond the supposed political hazards is that the Republicans would have been foolish to risk a federal default.  Comical here is that if there’s one thing that brings liberals (New York Times editorial page), conservatives (Wall Street Journal editorial page), bombthrowers for the right (AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis), and bombthrowers for the left (Paul Krugman) together, it’s that a federal default would be a “disaster” (Bret Stephens – Wall Street Journal), and that such an occurrence would be quickly followed by a recession.


READ the whole great thing and get ready for more, in January, 2014.