Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fall Comes Reluctantly To East Tennessee

TREES ALONG THE WAY ARE ONLY CONSIDERING co-operating with the season turning.  But it's still a beautiful time of year along the SoHo and in my most favorite small city in America,  Bristol Tennessee/Virginia where State Street divides the more polished Commonwealthers from the rougher Volunteers. It's a marvelous blend.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

This search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of
others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is
elegant, simple and deadly:
Love things, use people.
... But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road
to misery. You want to be free of the sticky cravings of unhappiness and find
a formula for happiness instead. How? Simply invert the deadly formula and
render it virtuous:
Love people, use things.
Easier said than done, I realize ... [Because it] requires a deep skepticism of
our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor
and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness.
... Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or
Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary
— Arthur C. Brooks, “Love

Sunday, Psalm 90 Of Moses, Psalm 91


The Eternity of God, and Man’s Frailty   


90 Lord, You have been our [a]dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You [b]had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.
For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

PSALM 90,  A Place For Pessimism


Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

91 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the [c]fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [d]buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall [e]bear you up,
Lest you [f]dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will [g]set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With [h]long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

PSALM 91,  A Psalm of Safety

Friday, October 25, 2019

Are Meghan and Harry Enabling Each Others' Immaturity?

SURELY IT'S A RHETORICAL QUESTION. Another such question might be,  has this  'royal' couple just committed social suicide with his family in England who have treated them like, well, a king and queen?    Have they assured they will have an adversarial relationship with the fawning tabloid press from now on?
Whatever Meghan and Harry may have wished to achieve with their African trip interview, might they have found a more appropriate way to whine about how shabby their royal existence is in England and in the celebrity jet set of Meghan's other life than doing it with the backdrop of extreme poverty and child starvation in Africa?

Actually, it's doubtful that either Meghan or Harry could have done it differently.  Both are rudderless loose cannons and massively entitled (ungrateful), unrealistic,  immature kids.  Meghan's marriage to Harry was always about her and getting whatever she wants.  I suppose Harry marrying her was and is about reliving his mother's life and death and fighting straw men with fake heroism. There were many reasons for Diana's early death and as tragic as it was, she played a big role in it. It was not just the press.

 The Meghan/ Harry marriage was never about joining the royal family firm and taking on noble causes that focus on people and groups less fortunate than themselves. It's clearly about them, their hurts,  their hopes, their desires to bend and control reality to their unrealistic demands. It's about undermining everything royal protocol.  I can only imagine what the Queen must be thinking.  Thank goodness for William and Kate.  They are all right to be worried about Meghan and Harry.

If Meghan and Harry detest the dreaded tabloid press so much, then why not just quietly withdraw from so much contact with it rather than tossing it fresh meat every day?.  Why doesn't Meghan quietly mend her fences with her father and put that saga behind them? Why doesn't Harry get back to working on things that really interest him rather than letting Meghan lead him around by the nose so he can dutifully virtual signal?

Stop the blame.  Stop the ingratitude.  Lay low for a while and let the dust settle.

What's to become of Harry and Meghan in the years ahead?  I give their shifting sand marriage only a few years unless they set out to grow themselves up and start taking responsibility for their own problems both individually and as a couple. Otherwise, I don't see a happy outcome for either of them or their little baby boy.  Hope I'm wrong here, but there it is.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Sunday On Monday: The Holy Spirit In the Scriptures at The Bible Project


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday, Reclaiming Biblical Manhood, Learning from the Giants

FAR, FAR TOO MANY MEN TODAY are confused people-pleasers, woman-pleasers, boss-pleasers who go along to get along with various cultural and political mobs.  They are good followers yet lack the self-exploration and courage to master and lead themselves,  take principled stands and let the chips fall where they may. By living this way, they lose touch with themselves and  most importantly with God. They also fail to become real leaders and role models. What the world desperately needs now---what women desperately need now--- are more real, principled men and role models. The Bible shows us many examples, and shows us all The Way.

By Greg Morse, Staff writer, DesiringGod.org


Many continue to ask, and many offer new answers. Confusion blows across our land, exposing the feeble bridge between technological advancement and self-understanding. Mysteries of far-off galaxies unravel before high-powered telescopes while the face gazing back from the mirror lingers more distant than ever. With a world lying in his palm, modern man remains, to himself, a stranger.

Some imagine that two men can marry. Some see no problem with males acting like women or telling us that they are, in fact, women. Too few mourn the sink into egalitarianism distorting womanhood and attempting to dress man’s abdication in virtue’s garb. Some say that God is dead; others, man. Low standards in the family, and low visions even in some churches, let honor, righteousness, and holy dominion seep from our ideal like heat through old window panes.

We have ground to reclaim. The church, the world’s lighthouse, must not dim as the spirits of confusion wash over her shores. God calls his people to speak clearly, repeatedly, and without apology, for, as the men go, so goes the world.

Dwell with Giants

The confusion indicates that we have forgotten our roots. Too many men live isolated — not only from each other but from our ancestors. We need not reinvent what a man is, but only rediscover him. How? By forsaking the uncertain sounds of society and hearkening to the war drum of Scripture. God calls us to fellowship with giants — or those who slayed them — great men who have run the race before us and offer their strengths, weaknesses, and sins to instruct us on how to walk before God this side of heaven.
“God calls us to fellowship with giants, men who have run the race before us.”
Only recently have I realized how we (myself included) have been sawing at the branch we sit on. In an effort to avoid clich├ęs and moralizing, we abandon men of old. Disavowing “Dare to Be a Daniel” sermons have effectively stolen Daniel from us. This is a mistake, not only because God preserved their lives with great detail in the Old Testament — which “was written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4) — but because the New Testament calls us to imitate those such as Abraham, Abel, Isaac, Moses, Noah, Enoch, Elijah, Job, Gideon, David, Samuel, Isaiah, and more.

In the absence of such men of old filling our minds and fueling our faith, we find different men to esteem — athletes, celebrities, intellectuals, musicians. Mel Gibson with a sword. Russell Crowe in a coliseum. But shrubs cannot replace the family tree. As Abraham’s offspring, we need to know our roots and wake the ancient giants that we might see clearer, and farther, standing upon their shoulders.
Most recently, Joseph has captured my gaze as one I want to emulate. His story has as many layers as his coat had colors, but let me highlight three ingredients, among others, that make up a godly man. Like Joseph, the men of God we need in every generation will learn to rule themselves, lead others, and bow before a mighty God.

He Rules Himself

The godly man achieves mastery over his most unruly subject: himself. Paul saw it too: “urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). While Joseph displays rule over anger, greed, and vengeance, he displays mastery over self where many today do not: his lust
Rising from the slavery sparked by his brothers’ betrayal, Joseph now rules at Potiphar’s right hand. Joseph, we learn, was “well-built and handsome” (Genesis 39:6 HCSB). His physical prowess did not go unnoticed, especially by the most powerful (and presumably beautiful) woman in the household, Potiphar’s wife. She looked longingly at him (Genesis 39:7). Blushing glances soon became fixed gazes; thoughts grew to fantasies. One day she purred seductively to the young Hebrew, “Sleep with me” (Genesis 39:7 HCSB).
He faced temptation many of us don’t experience. He did not go after her; she came after him. He did not flex; she enticed. She beckoned through a door on which he never knocked. Her whispered kisses threatened to caress his lust and his pride — a potent combination. In response to her invitation, God summarizes his response in three glorious words: “But he refused” (Genesis 39:8).
And he did not merely triumph once.
“The godly man achieves mastery over his most unruly subject: himself.”
We read, “Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her” (Genesis 39:10 HCSB). Resisting such temptation once is admirable. To hear the Siren sing and plainly reject her promises of pleasure is commendable. But to withstand day after day, season after season, whisper after whisper, smile after smile, seduction after seduction is behemoth. Every day, with each passing hour, he faced a decision. And every day he halted her advances.
Man of God, have you resisted Potiphar’s wife? Are you, like Joseph, continuing to resist?
How many of us can learn from Joseph, not just in that he refused, but why he refused?
Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8–9)
He knew others trusted him, relied upon him, conferred good to him — and none more than God. How could he repay Potiphar with such cruelty — and his God with such treason? How can we repay our wives with pornography, our brothers with adultery, our God with homosexuality? We who have troubles with gusts and breezes have much to learn from him who withstood a whirlwind.

He Leads Others

Eventually, the ruler of self became the ruler of Egypt. He who proved faithful with ten talents was entrusted with one hundred more
Yet his promotion would take a horrible detour. Alone in the palace with Potiphar’s wife, the lusty mare burned with desire and harassed the young man, groping at his outer garment which he had to abandon to escape (Genesis 39:11–12). Evil she, in a similar ilk as Shakespeare’s Iago, took the forgotten garment and accused the innocent of treachery (Genesis 39:13–18). Incensed, Potiphar threw Joseph in jail (Genesis 39:19–20). Joseph sat in another pit unjustly.
“As the men go, so goes the world.”
But the theme continued: God showed him steadfast love, and he again ruled as the second in charge of the prison (Genesis 39:21–22). As with Potiphar, the warden had no anxiety concerning all that Joseph presided over, because God was with him (Genesis 39:23). Even from a cell, Joseph exercised dominion, blessing all in his trust.

After two additional years in prison, the cupbearer finally kept his word and told Pharaoh of Joseph. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and proposes a fifteen-year plan for Egypt’s flourishing amidst famine, to which the pagan ruler proclaimed, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38). Pharaoh then set Joseph over Egypt, to answer only to Pharaoh himself. By the time he turned thirty, the beautiful coat he received in Jacob’s house changed to the garment he left behind in Potiphar’s, which now was replaced with fine linens in Pharaoh’s.

Manhood that leads from the front has fallen on hard times. Our modern beatitude reads, “It is far more blessed for men to be led than to lead.” But Joseph stands in contrast. He exercised benevolent dominion in all the spheres God placed him. From Potiphar’s house, to the prison, to the right hand of Pharaoh, to his own household in Egypt, Joseph stewarded what God put in his charge. He administered. He made decisions. All were blessed under his care — including his long-lost brothers when they eventually came calling.

Like Joseph, God calls men to manage their affairs with equity and acumen. We need men like Joseph, filled with the Spirit and recipients of God’s steadfast love, to regulate their spheres for the benefit of others. Both elements are crucial: the willingness to rule, aimed at others’ good. We do not volunteer to be heads of our households and have our spheres of influence; we are heads that either bless or tear down, uplift or destroy, ignore or empower.

Few of us will rule an Egypt like Joseph did. Yet how many are prepared — being manifestly a man of God — to govern a household, a church, a community, a nation?

He Bows Before a Mighty God

Joseph served a powerful Master. So do men who have truly “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
“The men of God we need in every generation will learn to rule themselves, lead others, and bow before a mighty God.”

Joseph explains his journey to his brothers this way: “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). Twice he says this (see also Genesis 45:7), and then a third time, “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8)
Beaten and betrayed by his brothers: God was sending me. Resisted Potiphar’s wife and subsequently jailed: God was sending me. Received an unfulfilled promise, leaving him in prison for two more years: God was sending me. Standing before the men who sold him as a slave and stole from him years with his father and younger brother: God sent me here, not you.
This God exalted him as a “father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). This God saved the nation by his hand. This God foretold all that was to come and moved an entire empire to make it happen. This God controls all things.

And this God fulfills his promises. In his last act of faith, Joseph instructs his bones to be buried in the land God has promised his people — centuries before they possess it (Hebrews 11:22). We have much to learn from this man who foreshadowed the greater Joseph to come. Here is one of the giants who can help a confused generation regain what it means to be a man.