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