Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Sunday Meditation on God's Word

Today I want to take a break from the usual commentary. Please join me in contemplation of Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses and one of my favorites . . .

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

That last line, "confirm the work of our hands," really makes me think. How many years do we spend working and doing things as believers, and how much of what we do is what He wants us to do? How much of what we do matters in an eternal perspective? Worth contemplating, isn't it?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dark Times?

I had a black and white photo posted here yesterday to lend a "noirish" quality to this post, but today I discovered the photo gone with a big blue ? in it's place. Some Blogger bug, I guess. I tried re-posting the photo, but all it did was "sit and spin." So I just reposted the text sans photo. Then later, I tried again and the photo is now back. Go figure.

The link below will take you to a Fox News story about the Democratic candidates' recent response to a public school flap out East. This particular school allowed a homosexual "fairy tale" (my, THAT's a fitting label!) to be read to second grade schoolchildren.

Aside from the usual doubletalk of how the Dems oppose gay marriage (not that they see anything wrong with it), I want you to read the comments of John Edwards. This is a window into the soulless. He is so afraid of actually guiding his children's moral upbringing to the point that they might make a traditional, biblical value judgment. The situation with his non-guidance of his younger children is sad enough, but note also what he says about his grown daughter's inability to understand his position. If this is what lies ahead for this country in terms of leadership, we're in deeper trouble than I thought, and coming much sooner than I thought. The remaining candidates aren't much better, but Edwards was especially vehement in his defense of these sodomy-light tales for tots. So I'm whacking him with more asperity.

Fox News

Before I close today, thanks for your patience in terms of my relatively sparse posts of late. It's been unbelievably busy. I hope to do something of more substance down the road.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Episcopal Schism

Below is a link that will take you to today's commentary by Southern Baptist theologian Dr. Al Mohler, who discusses the sad situation in the Anglican Communion (specifically the American Episcopal Church) over homosexuality. In a meeting held here in the U.S. -- and attended by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams -- the schism was delayed for the time being when the American church agreed to stop ordaining practicing homosexuals to the priesthood. For the time being.

This situation is another great indicator of the wrong kind of unity. True Christian unity is always, and I mean ALWAYS, to be around truth. Homosexuality is sin according to God's Word. There is no dancing around that issue. Instead of sweeping this under the carpet yet again, there should have been a clear call to repent. Instead, we have "dialogue" and "compromise." And it will only delay the inevitable when Bible-believing Episcopalians will see no other alternative but to "come out of her, My people." I have a word of warning here.

You need to understand the type of people with whom you are dealing. Homosexual activists both inside and outside the church will not give up on this. They are very similar to Marxist, communist activists. They approach this issue with a zeal that ought to put true Christians to shame in terms of having equal zeal to proclaim the Gospel. These activists will keep coming back, and keep coming back, and keep coming back -- until they finally wear everyone down with their carping and get their way. The only way to deal with this is to bring the rod down hard. A command to repent, and then biblical discipline if they will not relent. Call it excommunication, call it disfellowshipping, call it what you like. There can be restoration IF there is genuine repentance. But if you're determined to dialogue, dialogue, debate, debate and more dialogue, rest assured that you've lost the battle. About some issues, there need be no dialogue. Wrong is wrong, and I really don't care much who doesn't like that terminology.

Dr. Al Mohler Blog

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Knew It!

If you've been paying attention to the news of late, you'll no doubt have heard of a town called Jena, Louisiana. Listening to the coverage, and hearing the mouth-frothing reactions of "Reverends" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, you'd think a race war was in the works. I had a hunch at the beginning that you'd get a different picture if you actually talked to residents of Jena -- both races included. And the link below will take you to a story that confirms my original hunch.

My advice to the people of Jena? Band together and make it plain to attention-seeking, power-hungry rabble rousers like the "Reverends" that they are not welcome. What tensions that do exist can be resolved with your own efforts, aided by local, GENUINE pastors who have the peace and reconciliation of the Gospel at heart. I have yet to hear either Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton preach a Gospel sermon. If they did more of that instead of race-baiting at every opportunity, they might actually accomplish what they say they want.

Associated Press

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Solameanie Advisory

Just a note to say forgive me for not posting since Wednesday. I've been very, very busy. Hope to be back at it before long, hopefully within a day or two.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mike Huckabee Wins Values Voter Poll

The link below will take you to a recap of the straw poll taken after the "Values Voter" Presidential debate in Florida the other night. While attended by most of the Republican "second tier" candidates, the media darlings — Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson — blew it off. So did the Democrats.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee won by a large margin, as I expected. Even at the other mainstream debates held recently, Huckabee consistently gets high marks from the media and the attendees, but for some odd reason, it makes little news. Makes you wonder if this whole thing isn't really a stage-managed dog and pony show, with the nominee predetermined.

I don't agree with every position taken by Gov. Huckabee, but he is rock solid on the majority of issues that count. Consider this my formal endorsement of his candidacy.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I am going to make a brief prediction based on my years of covering trials . . . with this proviso. I could be wrong. But let's see, given past events. But even before I do this, let me state the following.

I am sick of 24-7 coverage of O.J...Britney name the strumpet of the hour. Our news coverage these days is really becoming "Bread and Circuses," and if you need to know what that means, do the studious thing and look it up. I won't tell you. But there are FAR more important things going on in the world.

Now that I've said that. let me make my prediction for the latest O.J. Simpson contretemps. He stands a good chance of skating, like he has on all the other run-ins with the law. First, the case of racism will be made, as ridiculous as that is. No jury will find him guilty because no one wants to be seen as a racist. I also hearken back to when Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson. The news media showed plenty of blacks waiting outside the courthouse, and they cheered like banshees. Guilt or innocence didn't matter. Strike a blow for protecting racial politics. That's obscene. (Prove me wrong, please!) Let's see if Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton get involved.

Finally, at the end of the tape played on national news, we hear this statement: "This is a setup."

That's all it will take for either a jury to say "not guilty" or an appeal to throw it all out. O.J.'s guilt or innocence is academic. Loopholes are all that matter.

In the meantime, I will be largely watching old movies. The news will be worthless for the next six months.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Whacking the Emmys

Not much time for commentary today, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to once again ask a nagging question. Why do so many in the entertainment community seem to revel in the offensive? Let me ask it more bluntly? Why do so many seem to think a dip in the septic tank passes for entertainment?

This week's case in point -- the Emmy Awards. It seems this year's show gained attention, not so much for the shows and actors winning awards, but rather for the networks needing to use the "bleep" button time and again. Apparently, the language this year was more in-your-face than ever.

You know, I was raised to be a gentleman in public. There were certain things a gentleman (not to mention a lady) just didn't do. It seems the days of being ladies and gentlemen have died the death of 1,000 screams. Today, if one wants to gain the approving attention of society, one must be as base, vulgar and lowbrow as possible. Women must look and act like hookers, and men must act like boorish Neanderthals. Who cares if children are watching? We want to raise the next generation of men and women to be even more like animals than we are.

It is a pity to watch society rotting at warp speed. When will people finally raise up and say enough is enough? When will we make our feelings known by refusing to watch the product in question, or to buy the products of the advertisers who sponsor it? That is the only way outside of direct divine judgment to make an impact.

I am really getting tired of it? Isn't anyone else?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thomas L. Davis
A Heartfelt Tribute

I have long wanted to do this. But as many other “tribute writers” will attest, it is no easy task to do a tribute to someone for whom you have immense respect and affection, and about whom there are so many stories you could tell. It is also hard when the person to whom you are paying tribute is no longer with us. In the case of Thomas L. Davis, who passed away a few years back, I never did get the opportunity to really tell him how I felt — something I deeply regret. Somehow, though, I think he knew.

You see, Mr. Davis was my first radio employer when I was fresh out of high school. That in and of itself ought to tell you something. Many, if not most, radio stations prefer someone with at least a college degree, unless you are in a really, really small market somewhere. Now, WSDR 1240 AM in Sterling, Illinois, was in what you could consider a small market, but due in large part to the leadership of Mr. Davis and the team he assembled, WSDR at the time could never be considered a “small” station. Our city of license was only 16,100 in population, and our signal strength was only 500 watts during the daytime (1000 watts at night), but our coverage area was 4-1/2 counties and we billed more than $1 million a year in advertising revenue. We were considered the most successful “small market” station in the country, and made the national news several times due to various events in which the station was involved. By God’s grace, I had the great privilege of seeing it all and learning a great deal of life skills that have served me well into middle age — all thanks to Thomas L. Davis, WSDR’s owner and president.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into WSDR many moons ago, when I was in my mid-teens. I had gotten the radio bug at even a younger age, when a next-door neighbor who worked at a competing station came over one day with a cassette recorder. She wanted to use my child’s voice for a radio commercial. Unfortunately, I got a case of the giggles and we had to stop (a particular shortcoming that would get me in a significant amount of hot water later). Well, a few years later, a friend of mine in high school was going to WSDR to learn a bit of radio through one of the evening announcers, a man named Denny Farrell. You might have heard from Denny, who — while no longer at WSDR — is still host of the syndicated radio program, The Original Big Band Showcase. He was a nice guy, but rather stern with trainees. I would go along with my friend and watch, and occasionally try my hand at recording. But since Denny’s mode of training then was to knock people out of the chair if they hit the wrong switch on the air, I wisely elected just to observe.

After a while, I stopped going to the station as other things began to gain my interest, such as speech competition. But one winter day in 1978 a few months after graduation, I learned of an opportunity to work in what was called WSDR’s special events advertising department over the Christmas holidays. I had to compete with two older ladies for this position. To make a long story short, I didn’t get hired right then. One of the ladies was chosen. But to my surprise a few weeks later, I received a call asking me to come back and take the position. Apparently, the other lady didn’t work out. But before finally getting hired on, I had to meet the station’s owner, Mr. Davis. And that made me nervous.

You see, I had heard a bit about Mr. Davis over the years from stories some of the station employees would tell. He was respected certainly, and seen as a fair man, but very, very tough. If you got in trouble with him, you were in trouble. When working the phones a few weeks earlier, I had seen him walking around the station. He was a tall, imposing looking man with silver-grey hair that was much darker in the back. Just to watch him walk was a bit intimidating, as he had a confident, almost regal gait. Moving to Sterling from Chicago where he had managed WAAF radio, Mr. Davis and his family had purchased WSDR in the late 1960s from founder Sam Bartlett. The new owner didn’t waste any time bringing his major city market standards to this small station in a farming community.

I had to meet Mr. Davis, and on that fateful day, I walked into his office wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. That was smart, wasn’t it? Dumb kid. And there he sat at his desk, smoking an Alpine cigarette and gazing directly at me. After we shook hands, he asked me to sit down and then began asking me rapid-fire questions. “Why do you want to work here? What do you do for hobbies? Do you smoke? Do you drink? What are your long-term plans? Are you going to college?” And on it went for a while. I tried not to give monosyllabic answers and to be as forthright as I possibly could.

I got the job, and I remember asking someone later why. I don’t even remember who at this point. But I was told, “The old man’s taken a liking to you for some reason.” I was glad to hear that, and didn’t want to disappoint him. In retrospect, I probably would have fired me several times over for various mistakes I’d make through the years. As Mr. Davis (I never called him anything else although others called him Tom) told me once, “Joel, you don’t make mistakes very often, but when you do, it’s a humdinger.”

After working in phone advertising for a few months, I knew that I really wasn’t cut out for it. I wanted to be on the air and behind that control panel. Actually, the control panel attracted me more than actually having my voice on the air, but that was part of the package at a non-union station (and no, I don’t like unions). Mr. Davis’s younger son, Carey, was station manager at the time, and one day I asked him if I could transfer to an on-air shift. After asking me a few questions, he told me he’d talk to his father about it and let me know. The next thing I knew, I was called in to see Mr. Davis, and after another round of questions, he told me that he was approving my desire, and was going to give me my first lesson right then and there. “Don’t ever let me hear you say the word “disc jockey.” You can call yourself an announcer if need be, but what I intend for you is for you to become a broadcaster.” I have never forgotten that, but only in later years did I really appreciate what that meant.

So began my radio career on weekends doing music shifts of various styles. WSDR was largely a news talk station, but we did have periods of music that varied widely, from adult contemporary and country to Hawaiian, Hispanic and even classical. I don’t want this to become a Tolstoy novel, so I’ll abridge as much as possible. I served three stints at WSDR all together, between 1978 and 1988. I left the final time shortly after Mr. Davis and his family sold the station. I ended up in the news department for the most part, although my ability to do a board shift was called on quite often. As far as I am concerned, the news department was the station’s crown jewel. We boasted the largest news staff in downstate Illinois (outside of Chicago). And if I was going to work in this news department, there were things I’d better learn and learn fast. And it was an education, covering elections, school boards, city councils, hospital board meetings, fires, floods, accidents, snowstorms — you name it. My then-colleagues, news director Clark Kelly and his assistant, the late Ron Roebuck, taught me much on a day-to-day basis in that unique school, where a hard knock was necessary on occasion. As an aside, one thing I remember is that we did have quite a revolving door in the news department. There were many people who came and went, but for eight years in toto, Clark, Ron and I were the constants. But overseeing it all was Tom Davis with his sons, Lindsay and Carey (Carey left for greener pastures in New York City about a year after I began).

Mr. Davis was quick to praise when you did a good job, but if you made a mistake, you heard about it. I had witnessed (or heard through closed doors) some of his legendary dressing-downs, enough to know I didn’t want to be on the receiving end. But it was bound to happen, and it did. One day while doing a newscast, someone began making gestures at me through the studio glass, and I began to crack up on the air. Fatal mistake. If Mr. Davis had drilled anything into me since beginning in the news arena, it was this. “I want NO levity on the air! You’ve got to be credible!” After I got off the air, I was hoping that no one heard me laughing during the news. But no. My intercom line went “Buzzzzzzzz!” It was “the old man” as the newsroom guys called him. I was to be seen in his office, and he meant seen yesterday, front and center.

Boy, did he ream me out. I won’t repeat what he said verbatim, but to him, cracking up during the news was fecal matter out of a horse. You get the idea. By the time he got done, I felt like I needed a ladder to crawl out of the fibers of the carpet in his office. While I was sitting there nearly in tears, he stopped yelling and got up from his chair. He went to the door of his office and began to head down the hall, but he stopped himself and came back in. He told me to go back to work, and then said, “Don’t you worry. I’m gonna get the SOB that did it to you, too!”

I look back on this and chuckle with affection, although I didn’t feel too affectionate at the time. And I don’t want to say that I never got mad at Mr. Davis. Sure I did. We all did. We all did our share of grumbling from time to time. But Mr. Davis had revealed something to me in that little exchange that I would see time and again in different ways down the road. I came to learn that Tom Davis had a heart of gold underneath his occasional sternness, and he wanted me to learn how to be the best broadcaster I could be. He really did like me and thought I had potential. He had other little ways of showing his personal concern over the years that only added to my respect and gratitude toward him. And I learned a whole host of things that I never would have learned had not a sexagenarian, tough, seasoned broadcast veteran taken an interest in an odd, quirky, studious and religious kid who never was the popular one in school.

While there is so much more I could tell, I’ll close with this memory that makes tears well up to this day when I remember it. Mr. Davis had sold the station and the staff was giving him a farewell party at a nearby restaurant. We all contributed to a gift, and I got the chance to tell him briefly how much I hated to see him go. He smiled at me, patted me on the back, and thanked me for my service over the years. Then someone else came up and got his attention, and that was the end of that. The new owners took over the next day, and I would only see Mr. Davis one other time afterward for a brief moment. But a few days after the party, I got a card from Mr. Davis in the mail with a short note enclosed, written on his personal stationery. To my everlasting heartbreak, it burned up in a housefire that befell me back in 2003, so I can’t recall it verbatim. But once again, he thanked me for being a part of his farewell, and he told me of his own respect for me as an individual and as a man. Then he wished me well in the future, and signed the note, “Tom.”

Thank you, Tom. For everything.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Foul Would-Be Comedian

It's interesting. Whenever I run dry on things to talk about, someone on the national stage is bound to step in the cowpie for me. This time, it's some so-called comedienne named Kathy Griffin.

In case you haven't heard, this little spitfire decided to get cute and blaspheme the Lord Jesus at an awards show. If you don't watch Fox News much, you might not even hear about it since said awards show is supposedly going to delete the comment from their broadcast. I am not going to repeat what she said here, but it was vile.

As has been pointed out on Fox numerous times by the talking heads, if she had made the same reference to Muhammed or some other religious group, the hue and cry would be deafening. But with a vulgar, blasphemous reference to Jesus, nothing much is said except mockery of Christians for getting upset. "It's a joke. Get over it."

While such events certainly do anger me, they do not surprise me. I expect them and I expect them to get much worse. After all, didn't the Lord Himself warn us about it? He said . . .

You will be hated by all because of My name (Luke 21:17).

He also said . . .

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you (John 15:18).

And why does such hatred bubble up like effluent from a septic tank? Jesus said . . .

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22).

Today, we have a wholesale plunge into heresy and heteropraxis because a big section of the church wants everyone to like them. Quite frankly, I don't much care whether the world likes me or not. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, according to Scripture. That doesn't mean I don't love people, nor does it mean that I don't want to reach the lost with the Gospel. But I am not going to sugarcoat sin and the need to repent just because it makes people mad, or because it might make them hate me. They'll hate me much more in Hell if I don't warn them about it and urge them to repent before it's too late. That is what Christian evangelism is all about. Telling an unbelieving world that it is lost in sin, and that Jesus died on the cross to bring reconciliation with God to whoever would believe and repent, trusting in the Lord's shed blood on the cross as complete payment for human sin. But people don't like being told they are sinners. I sure didn't like it before I believed. But I am very, very glad someone loved me enough to point it out.

Some in the church have an awful lot to say about "love" these days. But leaving someone in their sin and substituting cheap entertainment for the Gospel is the most unloving thing a believer in Jesus Christ could possibly do. Are we ashamed of Jesus? Are we ashamed of the cross? Are we ashamed of the Gospel? Are we ashamed of the Word of God?

If we are, I have a hunch Someone Else will be ashamed of us before the throne of His Father.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Laughable Harry Reid

Late today, the news broke that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is vowing to block Ted Olson from becoming the new Attorney General if President Bush nominates him. According to Reid, Olson is "a partisan, and a partisan is the last thing we need as Attorney General."

Aside from the gratuitous insult to Ted Olson, whose lovely wife, Barbara, was killed in the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon, Harry Reid ought to be ashamed of himself. And I wonder that he could be that stupid in using the term "partisan." Of course Ted is a partisan. He's a Republican, for heaven's sake! Tell me, Reidmeister, if Bush were to appoint Ted Kennedy as the new AG, would that be partisan because Ted is a ravening radical left Democrat? Oh, no. Of course not. That would only mean that Bush has "grown." Don't make me ill.

Ted Olson is a fine man and a fine lawyer who has already argued several matters before the U.S. Supreme Court. He's a former Solicitor General and is superbly qualified.

The more Harry Reid opens his mouth, the more of a joke he is becoming. Rush Limbaugh calls him "Dingy Harry," and I assume that's a play on the "Dirty Harry" character made famous by Clint Eastwood. I think it's an appropriate jab considering his ridiculous behavior.

Who knows. If Reid and the Dems keep this up, the GOP might well win in a landslide in 2008.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Reflection on 9-11

As the country pauses to remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I find myself wondering about what has happened to the soul of the United States. When you compare the aftermath of Pearl Harbor to the aftermath of the World Trade Center, you'll see what I mean.

Watching the news coverage, the hot thing being discussed was the sentiment that it's "time to move on" and stop the memorials at the WTC site and other locations. No more news coverage, no more stopping what we're doing to pause and reflect. The families of the victims are understandably incensed at such an idea, and I wonder that we all aren't incensed. Is it politics? Does the left see 9-11 as a political disadvantage to their power aspirations, so they want to sweep it under the rug as quickly as possible? Does the right equally see 9-11 as their own political pawn? Can't both sides see that we were attacked as a nation, and maybe we ought to stand together?

And what about the debate over terrorism, Islam and the war itself? I am aghast at some of the things I hear being said. I am afraid my private concern is about to become my public one -- that this country has changed so radically from "the way we were" in terms of values that we will bring about our own destruction.

Has the postmodern mindset so infected us that we no longer think the American way of life is worth preserving? I am not talking about America's sins at this point. Yes, we have them as do all nations. Rather, I am talking about the best of American values as envisioned by our founding fathers. Unfortunately, the hard left's lock on education and the media have so impacted our national psyche that we don't think America is all that special any longer, unless it's to cater to our own personal whims. What is evil is celebrated, while what is good is mocked and denigrated.

Our churches are increasingly not doing their part either. Postmodernism has so infected our theology that nothing really matters any more in terms of what people believe. We want as many "options" for our churches and worship as we do at the supermarket. Flabby theology leads to flabby Christians who have little to no impact on our culture. Churches these days (should I say Christians) let their Republican or Democratic politics inform their theology, rather than letting their theology inform their politics.

Yes, today I remember 9-11 with a sense of profound sadness. I truly mourn. Not only for those who lost loved ones, but also for the lost soul of our country. Think of the scene in "Planet of the Apes" where Charlton Heston rides up on the shell of the Statue of Liberty, broken and lying askew off the beach. Then you'll understand how I feel today.

God is merciful and there is still time for America to repent. But I am not optimistic.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nazis in Israel?

The link below will take you to a very disturbing story -- one I thought I would never see. Neo-Nazi immigrants to Israel beating people up. Apparently, there is no law on the books dealing with Neo-Nazis, so they are being charged as Holocaust denyers.

I've got a better suggestion. If I understand Israeli law correctly, only Nazi war criminals from World War II can be given the death penalty. This law should be amended to include these thugs and anyone else who would replicate their abominable behavior. Barring this, they should be deported from Israel and anyone else spouting this ideology should not be allowed in the country. Harsh? Maybe. But Nazi ideology resulted in the deaths of millions. It is malignant and ought to be stamped out.

London Telegraph Story

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Ozark Photos

As promised, some more shots taken from my Arkansas Ozarks jaunt. Excuse my somewhat bloated appearance. I've been on medicine plus it was 105 degrees in the shade.


This barn is part of an abandoned old homestead. If I remember the story right, the late owner hanged himself in this barn.

These stones were washed here by flooding on the Buffalo River. These are small compared to some of the stones I saw lying along the riverbank and even up the road away from the river. The power of floodwater!

This was taken by Caleb with me standing on the Erbie Loop Trail up to Goat Bluff. The Buffalo River is in the background.

This is a shot of Caleb and I during a swim in the Buffalo. The water was great, as was the scenery. It's so cool to stand in a clear stream and be able to see your feet, plus the fish and occasional cottonmouth snake swimming by.

I'll post a few more photos on another day. It's nice to take a break from controversy now and then.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Way to Answer Democrats

While I am one who called for Senator Larry Craig's resignation early, and am one who thinks that Republican candidates ought to be above reproach, I had to have a belly laugh at some comments by Rush Limbaugh regarding the Craig situation. I have been wishing that some prominent Republicans would get the guts to slap the water out of the Democrats like this:

"Larry Craig was forced out," [Limbaugh] said, "because the Republicans are scared. The Republicans have been told they can't win the next election. They have been told that they have no chance and that they're going to lose even more seats. The Republicans accept the labels that liberals apply to them, and they refuse to stand and fight.

“Now, the most logical way for the Republicans to have responded to [Vermont Sen.] Patrick Leahy and other Senate Democrats on Larry Craig was to say this: ‘You know, Senator Leahy, when you leaked to NBC News and were forced to resign from the Intel Committee, we didn't call for your resignation from the Senate. When [Massachusetts Rep.] Barney Frank knew of a male prostitution ring being run from his townhouse, he didn't resign. When [Nevada Sen.] Harry Reid was involved in sleazy land deals, several of them in Nevada, he didn't resign from the Senate. So who are you to lecture anybody about any of this?

“You people have committed far more grievous acts of indecency than Larry Craig committed here by tapping his foot in a bathroom."

I would have added the name of Democratic Congressman Gerry Studds to the list. If you remember, Studds admitted to sleeping with a 17-year-old male page, and when the Democratic-controlled House reluctantly censured him, he arrogantly turned his back on the House during the vote. It's too bad a few of his fellow lawmakers didn't pull him into a cloak room and give him a military-style "blanket party" to help knock the attitude out of him. He should have been expelled from Congress and then promptly jailed.

Anyway, it's time for Republicans to both clean up their own house, and then to take off the gloves and begin gouging the Democrats in the eyes in a verbal sense. They've got it coming in spades.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Kind Word for Ron Paul

Let me state at the outset that there are quite a few areas where I disagree with Republican (libertarian) presidential candidate Ron Paul. There are also a few positions of his with which I sympathize, but see little likelihood of them gaining steam considering how our country has marched to the globalist drumbeat. But even in my strongest disagreement with Congressman Paul, I at least feel he needs to be treated with respect, and given an honest hearing.

I don't feel like Ron Paul was treated with much respect at tonight's Republican debate aired on Fox News. In fact, there was a strong element of mockery present if you listened closely to the snickering. I don't know who was doing the snickering among the panel, but it was audible. The commentators and candidates also did their share of implied sneering at him when they referenced him throughout the night. This is wrong. Ron Paul may well have some untenable positions, but he is no Lyndon LaRouche. Far from it.

In fact, the snickering and disparagement might well backfire. I also heard Ron Paul getting quite a few cheers in the audience, so his positions must be resonating with some people. It is easy to get cheers when articulating a populist position, and much harder to get cheers when you know the country has to swallow some bitter medicine and you tell the audience the plain truth.

So for what it's worth, I would advise the debaters to debate, but stop the mockery. If you disagree with Ron Paul, take his positions apart with facts and logic. That might be hard for a mind-numbed population to swallow, but the country will be better for it.
A Mini Arkansas Photo Tour

I promised to post a few photos from my recent trail hike/swimfest in the Arkansas Ozarks. Here are a few, with more to come later. Note: All Photos by Caleb Johnson.

Buffalo River

Old Ozark Homestead

More Buffalo River

Anticipation of Clear Water

Ozark Light Show - Better than Pink Floyd!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Sobering Indictment

I am not sure who wrote the following piece, which was forwarded to me by a pastor friend. However, it speaks volumes and I want to repost it here for your perusal. After reading it, it certainly does make one look toward the next presidential election with a bit of trepidation.


President Bush did make a bad mistake in the war on terrorism. But the mistake was not his decision to go to war in Iraq. Bush's mistake came in his belief that this country is the same one his father fought for in WWII. It is not. Back then, they had just come out of a vicious depression. The country was steeled by the hardship of that depression, but they still believed fervently in this country. They knew that the people had elected their leaders, so it was the people's duty to back those leaders. Therefore, when the war broke out the people came together, rallied behind, and stuck with their leaders, whether they had voted for them or not, or whether the war was going badly or not. And war was just as distasteful and the anguish just as great then as it is today.

Often there were more casualties in one day in WWII than we have had in the entire Iraq war. But that did not matter. The people stuck with the President because it was their patriotic duty. Americans put aside their differences in WWII and worked together to win that war. Everyone from every strata of society, from young to old pitched in. Small children pulled little wagons around to gather scrap metal for the war effort. Grade school students saved their pennies to buy stamps for war bonds to help the effort. Men who were too old or medically 4F lied about their age or condition trying their best to join the military. Women doubled their work to keep things going at home. Harsh rationing of everything from gasoline to soap, to butter was imposed, yet there was very little complaining.

You never heard prominent people on the radio belittling the President. Interestingly enough in those days there were no fat cat actors and entertainers who ran off to visit and fawn over dictators of hostile countries and complain to them about our President. Instead, they made upbeat films and entertained our troops to help the troops' morale. And a bunch even enlisted. And imagine this: Teachers in schools actually started the day off with a pledge of allegiance, and with prayers for our country and our troops!

Back then, no newspaper would have dared point out certain weak spots in our cities where bombs could be set off to cause the maximum damage. No newspaper would have dared complain about what we were doing to catch spies. A newspaper would have been laughed out of existence if it had complained that German or Japanese soldiers were being "tortured" by being forced to wear women's underwear, or subjected to interrogation by a woman, or being scared by a dog or did not have air conditioning. There were a lot of things different back then. We were not subjected to a constant bombardment of pornography, perversion and promiscuity in movies or on radio. We did not have legions of crackheads, dope pushers and armed gangs roaming our streets.

No, President Bush did not make a mistake in his handling of terrorism. He made the mistake of believing that we still had the courage and fortitude of our fathers. He believed that this was still the country that our fathers fought so dearly to preserve. It is not the same country. It is now a cross between Sodom and Gomorrah and the land of Oz. We even have the wicked witch of the west as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.

We did unite for a short while after 911, but our attitude changed when we found out that defending our country would require some sacrifices. We are in great danger. The terrorist are fanatic Muslims. They believe that it is okay, even their duty, to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam. It has been estimated that about one third or over three hundred million Muslims are sympathetic to the terrorists cause...Hitler and Tojo combined did not have nearly that many potential recruits.
We either win it - or lose it - and you ain't gonna like losing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Accurately Handling the Word

I want to begin this post with a couple of Scriptures. Read them carefully . . .

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken (Ezekiel 22:28).

I don't do a whole lot of formal preaching or teaching, but when I do I take it seriously. The ramifications are serious and have eternal consequences. It is a very, very serious thing to stand before people and claim to open the Word of God to them. It is incumbent upon the preacher/teacher to be accurate, taking great pains not to misrepresent the Lord or His intent in Scripture. I think it's because this weighs so heavily on me that I find it beyond irritating when I hear Scripture being mangled by a preacher, teacher or author to make some kind of point, even a good one. A case in point involves the parables of Jesus.

Perhaps due to the Emergent Church, we hear a whole lot these days about "stories." Jesus told stories, and the reason He told those stories was to teach the people spiritual truths. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Maybe, but it's false. That was NOT the reason Jesus used parables. Why did the Lord use parables? Why don't we allow Him to speak for Himself . . .

And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND (Luke 8:10).

To take the example of Jesus using parables and extrapolate from that a biblical template for teaching is to distort Scripture and to misrepresent Him. Now, are there spiritual truths within those parables? Of course there are. We have the benefit of the Lord explaining those parables to us in His Word. But teaching the people was not His paramount reason for using parables, and we should not jump to the erroneous conclusion that this is the way the Lord intends His truth to be proclaimed. One can certainly use a story to illustrate a point, but you'd better follow that story with the clear teaching of God's Word. The Word of God is the star, not your clever little story.

There are other examples I could use. I am sure that I have misapplied Scripture in the past, as have most preachers and teachers. However, it is to be hoped that we learn and grow, and stop doing that in obedience to the very Word we are supposed to be proclaiming. We are commanded to handle God's Word accurately, and we are not to put words in God's mouth. Ever.

The bookshelves, conventions and conferences are rife with the "latest, greatest thing" in ministry. If we're packing people into the seats, we must be having "successful ministry." I beg to differ. Full seats and an excited buzz around the building are not true signs of a healthy, biblical ministry. When God's Word is faithfully proclaimed and taught, the Holy Spirit will act on His Word and change people's lives. Being redeemed, growing in faith, and growing in our relationship with Christ . . . that is biblical, successful ministry. Throw out the books. Throw out the video series. Throw out the church growth seminar overheads. Dust the Bible off, open it up, read it and apply it.

Then watch God do His work.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thank the Lord That's Over!

Let me make a friendly recommendation. Avoid having a kidney stone that won't pass. Surgery isn't fun, except for the narcotics. (That's a joke, son)

I went in Wednesday to a local hospital and spent most of the day in the emergency room being "triaged." I am not sure why I wasn't admitted directly on doctor's orders, but I am going to assume it had something to do with the impending Labor Day weekend. Later in the evening, I finally made it up to the medical floor to await surgery the following evening. That's the soonest they could get me scheduled. So I spent all day Thursday on a narcotic I.V. drip and a liquid diet, and went into surgery at 5:30 p.m. All went well, and I was in the OR for about an hour and a half. They had to go in with a scope and then blast the stone to smithereens with a laser. It would have been a much faster procedure if the stone had been in the bladder, but it remained stuck in the ureter so they had to go up after it.

After I came to in the recovery room, I was apparently quite a handful. I wanted up out of bed and the nurses were equally determined that I not get up out of bed. I had to go to the bathroom and my innards were burning like fire. They handed me a bottle but wouldn't let me get up. I told them I can't go sitting in bed, but they weren't about to let me get up. I guess most people are so out of it when they're waking up from anesthesia they'll injure themselves. I, on the other hand, typically don't react like most others with narcotics. They numb the pain, but little else. Anyway, I went ahead and waited until they wheeled me back up to my room, where I immediately got out of bed and relieved myself. Bled like a stuck pig, and boy did going hurt.

Today I am at home, and feeling a bit better. I am still very sore inside from the procedure and the air they blew inside of me. Still bleeding a bit also, but not seriously. While in the hospital, I had my eyes opened to a few things that I might write about someday. However, I want to get back to theology, which I will do tomorrow. I'll save the horror stories for later. (Well, I'm exaggerating a bit. The hospital staff couldn't have been kinder, but I saw some definite "kinks" in procedures that urgently need reforming (and I don't mean Hillarycare either).

I am thankful to the Lord for His sure hand, and for all who held me up in prayer. I am glad to be back home and getting back to normal, whatever passes for normal these days.