October 31, 2008

Party Hardy Marty Luther and the Reformers

Martin Luther's music is well-known. His most famous hymn is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," but he wrote other wonderful hymns of the faith as well. On this famous day, October 31 – Reformation Day, I would like to present you with a less known great hymn of the faith written by Martin Luther as performed by his worship team, Party Hardy Marty Luther and the Reformers.

The tune for this song is lost to the dust of history, but the words live on. Since Martin Luther named his song, "You Don't Own Me," perhaps it would be best to read these words thinking of the tune to the song of the same title made popular in the 1950s by Leslie Gore. In case you don't remember this song, I present first a video of Leslie Gore singing her cover (with new words) of Martin Luther's You Don't Own Me.

by Marty Luther

You Don't Own Me

You don’t own me—don’t push me around like your papal punks
You don’t own me—I’m no longer one of your beer-bellied monks
So don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say
And don’t tell me when to kneel and don’t tell me how to pray

You don’t own me—I’m not just another one of your toys
You don’t own me—I won’t ring your bell just like your altar boys
So don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say
And don’t tell me when to kneel and don’t tell me how to pray

For sola scriptura is my way
And sola gratia and sola fide
And solus Christus is my king
So I won’t bow to kiss your ring

You don’t own me—go read the note that I nailed to your door
You don’t own me—I’m not taking your papal bull anymore
So don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say
And don’t tell me when to kneel and don’t tell me how to pray

For sola scriptura is my way
And sola gratia and sola fide
And solus Christus is my king
So I won’t bow to kiss your ring

This might be a dunghill covered with snow
But I know when I die that to heaven I’ll go
For I am a Christian warrior
To defend soli Deo gloria.

You don’t own me.

Reformation Polka (by Martin Luther?)

Most watched election video

This video is the most watched election related video on YouTube. After having met some of these vets, I have great respect for them and what they've done—regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. I think it would be good for all of us to listen to what they have to say.

Further wounded veteran posts:


Iraq War Vet's McCain Endorsement Rockets to Top of YouTube

Blood, guts, and gore - fine dining at its best

Happy Halloween

Bleeding heart brie in preparation

My wife is an awesome cook. My wife is a great party planner. My wife loves to entertain guests. My wife has an off-kilter sense of humor. Beware when they all come together.

For the past few months we have been inviting some young people (college age and newlyweds) over to our house for dinner on Wednesday nights. These young people are all involved in service in our church on Wednesday nights and this offers them the opportunity to get a good home-cooked meal on a night when they are pretty busy. We also live directly across the street from the church, so it makes it very convenient for them as well.

Apple cider with floating ice severed hands
and floating gummy eyeballs

Kim enjoys making unique meals for our guests and she has fun with thematic events, so with Halloween being tomorrow, this past Wednesday night's meal was horror themed. And it was a blast.

She made the most amazing collection of very tasty, really gross foods you could imagine. The bleeding heart brie was brie cheese with strawberry preserves wrapped in crescent rolls. The photo at the top is of this brie wrap before it was actually wrapped. It looked amazingly disgusting when you cut a piece off of it. It actually bled.

Body parts salad

She put apple cider in a fancy punch bowl and floated frozen severed hands and gummy eyeballs in it. She made the frozen severed hands by pouring cider into unpowdered surgical gloves and then freezing them. It looked quite disgusting.

The body parts salad was black cherry gelatin with mandarin orange pieces and other small fruit pieces in it. It tasted great and looked quite disgusting—especially with the skeletal hand serving ladle she used.

Pork tenderloin mummy

The main course was a delicious pork tenderloin wrapped in some sort of very thin dough strips to make it look like a mummy. The effect was actually quite good. She separated a small part of the tenderloin and put it on the opposite end so that it formed what looked like a head on top of the body.

Even the condiments were thematic. My wife used large glass vials filled with ketchup that had been darkened with food coloring. She placed them in a skull, which she used as a centerpiece on the table. Of course, with so many people at our small table, centerpieces end up getting pushed to wherever there is an opening. But in this case, should the centerpiece fall of the side of the table it would only contribute to the overall effect when the vial would break and the bat's blood would flow out. That didn't happen, but it probably wouldn't have hurt the evening.

Vials of bat's blood in a skull

We have so much fun with these young people and really enjoy our short time with them each Wednesday evening. I hope they enjoy it as much as we do.

I also love bragging about what a great cook my wife is. She's been keeping me warm and well-fed (maybe a little too well-fed) for more than 22 years now and I still love each creative new idea she has.

Check out The Chosen Child for my wife's take on the evening. It was great fun.

One of "our kids"

Blog Header - October 31, 2008

Today's blog header is a photo my wife took of the daughter of one of my coworkers. This friend asked us to come over to her house to do a portrait shoot of their family and especially of their young daughter. We set up my wife's portable photography studio in their garage and then got to work.

Kim took some outdoor portraits to show off the gorgeous landscaping this couple had done in their yard. Then she took the studio portraits in the garage. After she was done taking portraits of the daughter, I took some indoor and outdoor photos of the parents, the full family, and a few of the mother and her sister. All of the pictures turned out great.

This was our first time using digital for a professional portrait session. My wife was confident that the digital camera we were using (a Nikon D70) would be up to the task. I was not so sure. And I was particularly concerned when my friend ordered a 20 x 30-inch enlargement on canvas. The cost of having an enlargement of that size made directly on canvas is astronomical. I was scared to death. But when the final product was revealed, it was amazing and beautiful. My friend burst into happy tears when we opened the package for her to see the large portrait that now hangs above their fireplace mantle.

That is the story of my entrance into the world of digital. I have been completely sold on digital photography since then.

My wife is still a fan of Nikon, although she no longer has the D70 SLR. I continued with the brand I was familiar with in my negative and transparency film days—Canon. So essentially all of the photos on this blog have been taken with my Canon 30D digital SLR. Some of the photos come from my wife's Nikon Coolpix or from our Canon digital video camera, which also takes amazing still photos.

October 30, 2008

What if....

Quote of the day - October 29

Rhodes Greece

"Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation."

sign in a Rhodes tailor shop

Matrix Ping Pong

October 29, 2008

TV Recommendation

I encourage you to tune your Television to the broadcast network ABC tonight at 8:00 PM. The show is Pushing Daisies (according to the ABC web site). I have never seen the show, but I encourage you to watch it tonight.

My reason for encouraging this is quite simple: ABC is the only broadcast network that will NOT be carrying Barack Obama's infomercial tonight during that time slot. I can't imagine a better use of your time than to watch something other than Obama's informercial. In fact, talk to your boss; tell him that you're taking the evening off. Call you pastor to tell him you won't be able to make the mid-week prayer meeting. Gather all your neighbors and tune your television to ABC tonight at 8:00 pm. This may be one of the best uses of this half hour that you could ever do.

Check here for more information about the show Pushing Daisies.

The death of American journalism

I have grown increasingly distrustful of American media outlets. As a teenager I saw the demise of the only Washington newspaper that seemed to fairly present the news, The Washington Star. As I followed the news over my college years, early career years, marriage, middle-age and up to now, I have seen a continual decline in the quality and honesty of the American media.

FOX News brought some encouragement, but I believe it also led to the mixing of serious journalism with opinion. FOX News maintains a clear separation between its serious news slots and its opinion slots, but the fact that both are available from the same source and that the opinion shows have developed huge followings has apparently prompted the other news networks to mix opinion with news, something they were already doing with a bit more subtlety than they do now.

An October 24, 2008, column by Michael S. Malone, directly addresses this issue. One of the things he has to say is:

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Read the full article here.

October 28, 2008

Blog Header - October 28, 2008

Today's blog header is a photo I took at the Roanoke Transportation Museum. This museum has an amazing wealth of trains, most likely because it is very close to the old Norfolk & Southern train station that helped to build Roanoke into the city that it is today.

The size of some of the engines at this museum is amazing. It gives us a glimpse into the days when size produced such transportation devices as the Big Boy and the Challenger trains, ships such as Titanic, and houses such as the Biltmore. It's an interesting place to visit.

Patting ourselves on the back

I have struggled with pride all my life. I expect others to be every bit as impressed with me as I am with myself. That's not how it usually works.

It seems to be worse in church, though. I try very hard to make things better in my local church in the areas in which God has gifted me. I volunteer for many projects and try to be involved in anything related to music, graphic design, editing, and teaching. I think I typically begin these quests in order to help out and to have a positive impact. But when it seems that my efforts are not appreciated, my feelings are hurt or I get angry or I quit.

Luke 17:7-10
“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

I have an exaggerated reaction when something I would like to do, for which I feel I am highly qualified, is given to someone else who is less qualified or whom I think is unqualified to do the job. I let this bother me greatly ... and I should not.

The passage in the callout box in this post was part of my devotions this morning. And it struck me that I am the one being addressed here. I have approached my service in the church as an employee and not as a servant (slave). An employee expects to get ahead with hard work and successful completion of projects. That is not necessarily the way it works for a servant. If a servant does what he is expected to do (hard work and successful completion of tasks), he has done his duty and should not expect to get a pat on the back—or a mention from the pulpit for his outstanding service.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I have trouble maintaining my personal bible study is because every time I pick up the bible and read it my toes get stepped on. But then, that's the reason I need to read and study the bible daily.

Can anyone say, "Catch-22"?

Election season halloweening

October 27, 2008

Fear Not

Isaiah 43:1–3

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire,
you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

Abortive genocide ala Margaret Sanger

Will history repeat itself?

Last night I received an email from my father directing me to WI Catholic Musings regarding a letter written by the blog author and responded to by a Jewish Holocaust survivor. This is chilling and I think deserves some attention. I think the points made by this Holocaust survivor are valid and, therefore, deserve our attention before the election.

First, to set the context, here is a video of some school children singing in support of Barack Obama.

The following is directly lifted from the WI Catholic Musings web site:

Lori Kalner speaks out on "YouTube Children Sing for Obama"

Last night, I found that the original youtube of the children singing for Obama has been made private, but I found it online, and I have downloaded it.

I wrote to Bodie Thoene, and asked her if she and Brock had seen/heard it, and sent her the url of where it IS still online. I asked her what she thought of it, and she wrote back not long after, saying she was going to speak to Lori Kalner.

Lori is older, and is not well, but she has responded after watching the video herself... From the Thoene's, and then from Lori:

Last night Lori Kalner, of The Zion Covenant, heard an Obama political ad. The voices of innocent children were raised in a hymn of praise to Obama. The words of the song awakened a childhood memory, long dormant in her heart, and she has written a Word of warning to every Christian who is able to hear. History is repeating itself.



Posted by: Lori Kalner on Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Hymn to Hitler
by Lori Kalner

In Germany, when Hitler came to power, it was a time of terrible financial depression. Money was worth nothing. In Germany people lost homes and jobs, just like in the American Depression in the 1930s, which we have read about in Thoene's Shiloh books.

In those days, in my homeland, Adolph Hitler was elected to power by promising "Change."

He blamed the "Zionists" around the world for all our problems. He told everyone it was greedy Zionist Bankers who had caused every problem we had. He promised when he was leader, the greedy Zionist bankers would be punished. The Zionists, he promised, would be wiped off the face of the earth.

So Hitler was elected to power by only 1/3 the popular vote. A coalition of other political parties in parliament made him supreme leader. Then, when he was leader, he disgraced and expelled everyone in parliament who did not go along with him.

Yes. Change came to my homeland as the new leader promised it would.

The teachers in German schools began to teach the children to sing songs in praise of Hitler. This was the beginning of the Hitler Youth movement. It began with praise of the Fuhrer's programs on the lips of innocent children. Hymns in praise of Hitler and his programs were being sung in the schoolrooms and in the playyard. Little girls and boys joined hands and sang these songs as they walked home from school.

My brother came home and told Papa what was happening at school. The political hymns of children proclaimed Change was coming to our homeland and the Fuhrer was a leader we could trust.

I will never forget my father's face. Grief and fear. He knew that the best propaganda of the Nazis was song on the lips of little children.

That evening before he said grace at the dinner table, he placed his hands upon the heads of my brothers and me and prayed the Living Word upon us from Jeremiah 1:4-5…

'Now the Word of the Lord came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the
womb I knew you,
and before you were born I
consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to
The nations."

Soon the children's songs praising the Fuhrer were heard everywhere on the streets and over the radio. "With our Fuhrer to lead us, we can do it! We can change the world!"

Soon after that Papa, a pastor, was turned away from visiting elderly parishioners in hospitals. The people he had come to bring comfort of God's Word, were "no longer there."

Where had they vanished to while under nationalized health care? It became an open secret. The elderly and sick began to disappear from hospitals feet first as "mercy killing" became the policy. Children with disabilities and those who had Down syndrome were euthanized.

People whispered, "Maybe it is better for them now. Put them out of misery. They are no longer suffering…And, of course, their death is better for the treasury of our nation. Our taxes no longer must be spent to care for such a burden."

And so murder was called mercy.

The government took over private business. Industry and health care were "nationalized." (NA-ZI means National Socialist Party) The businesses of all Jews were seized. (Perhaps you remember our story in Berlin on Krystalnacht in the book Munich Signature)

The world and God's word were turned upside down. Hitler promised the people economic Change?

Not change. It was, rather, Lucifer's very ancient Delusion leading to Destruction.

What began with the propaganda of children singing a catchy tune ended in the deaths of millions of children. The reality of what came upon us is so horrible that you in this present generation cannot imagine it.

Our suffering is too great to ever tell in a book or show in a black and white newsreel.

When I spoke to Bodie about some of these things, she wept and said she could not bear to write them. Perhaps one day she will, but I asked her, "who could bear to read our suffering?"

Yet with my last breaths I warn every Christian and Jew now in the name of the Lord, unless your course of the church in America is spiritually changed now, returning to the Lord, there are new horrors yet to come.

I trembled last night when I heard the voices of American children raised in song, praising the name of Obama, the charismatic fellow who claims he is the American Messiah.

Yet I have heard what this man Obama says about abortion and the "mercy killing" of tiny babies who are not wanted.

There are so few of us left to warn you.

I have heard that there are 69 million Catholics in America and 70 million Evangelical Christians.

Where are your voices? Where is your outrage? Where is passion and your vote?

Do you vote based on an abortionist's empty promises and economics? Or do you vote according to the Bible?

Thus says the Lord about every living child still in the womb…

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you…"

I have experienced the signs of the politics of Death in my youth. I see them again now.

Christians! Unless you stand up now, you will lose your freedom of religion.

In America priests and preachers have already lost their freedom to speak openly from their pulpits of moral danger in political candidates. They cannot legally instruct you of which candidate holds fast to the precepts of scripture! American law forbids this freedom of speech to conservative pastors or they will lose their "tax exempt" status.

And yet I have heard the words of Obama's pastor Damning America! I have heard the words of Obama damning and mocking all of you in small towns because you "Cling to your religion…"

But I am a woman whose name is unknown. My life is recorded as a work of fiction. I have no fear of reprisal when I speak truth to you from the pages of a book. (Though the Zion Covenant books are mocked and condemned by the Left in America.)

I am an old woman and will soon go to be with my Lord. I have no fear for myself, but for all of you and for your children, I tremble.

I tremble at the hymns to a political leaders which your children will sing at school. (Though even now a hymn or a prayer to God and our Lord Jesus is against the law in public school!)

Your vote must put a stop to what will come upon America if Barrack Obama is elected.

I pray you will personally heed this warning for the sake of your children and your grandchildren. Do not be deceived.

The Lord in Jeremiah 1:7-8 commands every believer to speak up!

"Do not say, 'I am only a youth,' for to all whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you, declares the Lord!"

I am in Prayer for you, and for the Church!

Spoken to you in the authority of Jesus the Christ, the Name Above All Names,

Lori Kalner

October 26, 2008

An American Creed

  • I Do Not Choose to Be a Common Man
  • It is my right to be uncommon—if I can.
  • I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.
  • I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.
  • I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.
  • I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.
  • It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done.”

By Dean Alfange, The Reader’s Digest, October 1952

The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born December 2, 1899, in Istanbul. He was raised in upstate New York. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922.

Blog Header - October 26, 2008

Today's blog header photo was taken early one morning while we were camping with some friends at a park in Fairfax Country, Virginia. I left the tent before the sun was up to get some bike riding exercise before the day's events began. About two miles from the camping area I began to notice fog lying low on the ground as the sun began to rise. I turned the bike around and pedaled furiously back to get my camera and then quickly rode back to this location.

Much of the fog had dissipated, but there was still enough to produce an interesting photo and to show that in spite of the urban sprawl that is characteristic of Fairfax County, there are still some remaining pockets of beauty.

October 25, 2008

October 24, 2008

A Bag of Tools

Isn't it strange
That princes and kings,
and clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?

Each is given a bag of tools
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make,
Ere life is flown,
a stumbling-block
Or a stepping-stone.

R.L. Sharpe

Quote of the day

Mel Gibson– Genius

"I mean, it's a great story. It's got some great things in it. I mean, there's something like eight violent deaths."

actor Mel Gibson,
in a school video explaining Hamlet

October 23, 2008

Our God is in control

Top 10 Predictions No Matter Who Wins the Election

  1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
  2. Prayer will still work.
  3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
  4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
  5. There will still be God-anointed teaching and healing.
  6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
  7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
  8. There will still be room at the Cross.
  9. Jesus will still love you.
  10. Jesus will still save the lost

October 21, 2008

Blog Header - October 20, 2008

Disneyworld is amazing! And our favorite of the Disney parks, MGM Studios, is so fantastic it defies description. And one of the reasons for this is "The Tower of Terror."

This header photo is of the lobby to the Tower of Terror. The Tower is a utility elevator shaft from an old hotel. The story they tell you on the way to the ride is that this was a luxury hotel that was hit by lightning. The lightning caused the elevators to malfunction and drop all the way to the ground, killing the occupants who now haunt the remains of this old hotel.

After you enter the elevator, it rises a few levels and then runs down one of the hallways of the hotel where you can see the ghosts of these long-dead elevator victims. Then the elevator car enters another elevator shaft, drops a few feet at a time and then takes off straight upwards to the top of the 10-story or so tall hotel. When the car reaches the top of the elevator shaft, the shutters on the shaft open up so the people on the ride can see that they are actually way, way up high over the park. You can see the entire park from this spot. Then there is the sound of a cable snapping and the car plummets down all 10 stories. It drops so rapidly that my large, heavy camera was floating in front of my face as it dropped. When the car finally stops, it shoots back up again and the process is repeated a few times.

It is the best amusement park ride I have ever been on. And it's next to one of the best roller coasters ever—The Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster. My family could spend all day just in that corner of the park going back and forth between these two rides, if it weren't for the fact that the other end of the park has the equally awesome Extreme Stunt Show. And to get to that stunt show, which also defies description, you have to pass the Indiana Jones live show and the Star Wars ride, both of which are way better than anything found at most good amusement parks.

If you've never been to Disney's MGM Studios, you need to plan a family vacation there. You'll love it!

October 20, 2008

Chili, friends, chili, hay rides, and more chili

David tries out the tractor

This past Saturday one of the families in our church had a get-together at their home. This is an annual event that our family really enjoys. The hosts' home is in a rural area in Rustburg, Virginia. They own about 80 acres and have a tractor and hay wagon that they put to good use during these events.

A bowl of my chili [recipe]

One of the things we really enjoy about our church is that people of all ages love to fellowship with each other. At this event, there are people from every age except for the very elderly. And its fun to see the interaction between the various ages.

The property is huge and there is a large field in front of the house that is perfect for the annual touch-football game. There is a large rope swing hanging from a tall tree limb and a great log cabin clubhouse that the younger kids like to play in.

But one of my favorite things is the chili. Everyone brings their favorite chili recipe to share with those who are there. So when it is time to eat, the folks go through the myriad pots of chili and get a little of each. Then, once they have devoured that chili, they go back for more. It's a lot of fun to experience what each different cook thinks is important in their own chili. And they're all great! Of course, it's hard to go wrong with chili.

After the food has been attacked, anyone interested can pile onto the hay wagon for a hayride around the property. And then they build a huge bonfire to finish off the evening.

And since our church is just a few miles from the largest Christian university in the nation (Liberty University), we have quite a few college students who come to this event each year. Every once in a while, one of their parents is visiting and gets to come to this event with their college student. The picture below is of a wonderful young man, Ryan, and his mother on the hay wagon. I imagine that seeing the love of the people in the church that your college-age child is attending would be tremendously comforting. And it's a great opportunity for us older folks to get to know our college students a little better by meeting their parents.

It's loads of fun and I'm grateful to God that he has blessed our church with people who enjoy getting together with each other. It's the way church people should be.

October 19, 2008

Conservatism from an unexpected source

I'm reading Terry Goodkind's "The Sword of Truth" series of fantasy novels. Currently I'm reading Blood of the Fold, the third book in the series. I have no idea what Goodkind's politics are, but I found a particular passage in this book very interesting and I think it is right on the money with regard to income redistribution and welfare.

"My son," the old woman said as her eyes flicked down, indicating the girl, "and her mother, they've deserted us to stay near the palace, waiting for the gold promised. I told them to work, but they say I'm old and foolish in my ways, that they can be given more than they could earn, if they just wait there for what's owed them."

"How do they reason it's 'owed them'?"

She shrugged. "Because someone from the palace said so. Said they were entitled to it. Said all the people were. Some, like those two, believe it; it appeals to my son's lazy ways. The young are lazy nowadays. So they sit and wait, to be given, to be taken care of, instead of seeing to their own needs. They fight over who would be given the gold first. Some of the weak and old have been killed in those fights.

"Meanwhile, fewer work, and so the prices keep going up. We can hardly afford enough bread, now." Her face set into a bitter expression. "All because of a foolish lust for gold. My son had work, for Chalmer the baker, but now he waits to be handed gold, instead of working, and she grows more hungry." She glanced out of the corner of her eye at the girl, and smiled kindly. "She works, though. Helps me make my cakes, she does, so we can feed ourselves. I won't let her roam the streets, like many of the young do now."

She looked up again with a somber expression. "Them's the vermin: them who take what little we can earn or make with our hands so as to promise it right back to us, expecting us to be thankful at their kind hearts; them who tempt good people to be lazy so they can rule us like they do sheep at a trough; them who took our freedom and our ways. Even a foolish old woman like me knows that lazy people don't think for themselves; they only think about themselves. I don't know what the world's coming to."

October 17, 2008

Octoberfest chili

Some friends from church have a get-together at their house every October. They invite everyone in the church to come to their house to enjoy the (very) rural property, to go on a hayride (hay wagon pulled by their tractor), and to share everyone's favorite chili recipes. It's a lot of fun and we look forward to this event each year.

I have earned a reputation for bringing the hotter chili dishes each year, but this year the base recipe I have always used was not available. So I searched for another recipe and found a very unique one that I hope is not too much of a departure from my normal version.

This one contains some ingredients that I have never used in chili before, so it interested me simply by its uniqueness. We'll see how it tastes after it is warmed up tomorrow, but for now it is waiting overnight in the refrigerator (always a good flavor enhancer for chili). When it finished simmering for an hour and a half, I tasted it and it was quite good. Here's the recipe—I'll let you know tomorrow how folks responded to it.

Octoberfest Chili


  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3/4 lb beef sirloin, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can dark beer
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
  • 4 habanero peppers, chopped


  1. Heat oil.
  2. Cook onions, garlic and meat until brown.
  3. Add tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth.
  4. Add spices Stir in 2 cans of kidney beans and habanero peppers.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Refrigerate overnight
  7. Add 2 remaining cans of kidney beans and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Litmus test or voting for what's right?

In today's culture, some phrases are more equal than others. They are received with reverence and awe because they loudly proclaim that the person who uttered the phrase is a highly evolved, intelligent and civilized person.

One of those phrases is: "I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for yet." Apparently, this is meant to indicate that the person is very carefully weighing all the issues and is not making a snap judgment. But that's not what I'm thinking about today.

Another phrase that is greeted with much celebration and ballyhoo is, "I don't have a litmus test for my choice of candidate." And if all issues held the same weight, that would be a very good thing. But not all issues are the same.

And so I am proclaiming along with Ray Comfort and a host of other intelligent, civilized, and highly evolved Americans that I do have a litmus test. I will not vote for someone who supports the murder of unborn children!.

Read Ray Comfort's outstanding article addressing this issue.

October 16, 2008

Use it—or Lose it

Mark 4:21-25
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

As I read this passage from Mark, the phrase that jumped out at me is "pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In the context given by Mark, this is apparently saying that if I desire the Word of God and if I dig at the Word with large scoops, more and more of the Word will be dealt out to me. That's a great promise.

But the passage also goes on to show a contrast with "from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Again, this is in the context of hearing the Word of God. So if I cease to pursue the study of the Word, if I stop having regular devotions, if I stop meditating regularly on scripture, that which I have already learned will begin to be lost.

I have experienced both sides of this and realize in a pragmatic and existential way the truth of this passage. I am moved to recommit to regular study of scripture. May God bless my study (and yours) with greater volumes and greater depths of the Word.

Quote of the day

Sigmund Freud;– Genius (and Romantic)

"One special form of contact, which consists of mutual approximation of the mucous membranes of the lips in a kiss, has received a sexual value among the civilized nations, though the parts of the body do not belong to the sexual apparatus and merely form the entrance to the digestive tract."

Sigmund Freud, The Sexual Aberrations

October 15, 2008

Blog Header - October 15, 2008

Today's blog header is another of the photos from our visit to Natural Bridge, Virginia, three years ago. David has grown a lot since this photo was taken. He's now about six inches taller than Kim—and that's without her sitting down as she is doing in this photo.

If you're interested in some more blog posts on Natural Bridge, you may want to check out my wife's blog, The Chosen Child. Her two most recent posts (Natural Bridge and The Drama of Creation)will give you a little more insight into this wonderful place.

October 14, 2008

Another reason to love Lynchburg

Today began and ended with photographs of things I love here in Lynchburg. I realized that I had not written a "Why I Love Lynchburg" post in a while, so here it is—Another reason why I love Lynchburg.

This morning I took my camera with me when I walked with my son down to his school bus stop. In the Fall, the mountains across the street from the bus stop are covered with early morning fog. The leaves are just beginning to turn to their Fall colors. And the house across the street from the bus stop is one of our favorite houses here in Lynchburg. So I wanted to take a picture if the lighting turned out to be appropriate. It was—and I did.

David waiting at the bus stop

Then in the evening we decided to let David light our first fire of the season in our fireplace. My wife picked up the new Indiana Jones movie this afternoon, so we lit a fire and turned on the movie. David sat next to Kim on the sofa to cuddle with her. At least he cuddled with her until we heard sirens. David ran out the front door to see what was up with the firetrucks going by down at the end of our road (passing David's bus stop), but he didn't get far.

Very quickly, he quietly and excitedly came back into the house to tell us that a family of deer was in our yard eating apples from our apple tree. So Kim went out to see the deer and I grabbed my camera.

When I got outside, I found a large group of deer including seven or eight adults and one very young baby deer. I took 20 photos of the deer as they wandered around our property and then as they headed across the street to go back to the woods. They were not at all afraid of us and stopped to pose for the camera quite a few times. Well, at least it looked like they were posing. Perhaps they were just looking at the strange man that kept snapping pictures. That's kind of what my family does all the time.

As one of the deer walked across the road, she passed in front of a beatiful bush that has recently turned to its vibrant red Fall color. Although many of the other photos were nice, I just love this one with the deer walking in front of this beautiful bush. It's great to live somewhere that has such great sights to see, so close to our house, from morning to evening. We love Lynchburg!

Baby deer

Update Lydia asked me to post some photos of the baby deer. Unfortunately, I didn't get very many good ones of the baby, but here is one of them as the group of deer crossed the road to head back to the woods.

Here's another shot of the baby. Most of the other deer in the group had wandered into the woods at this point, but the baby turned for a final look at the weird camera-weilding man who was snapping photos rapidly.

The deer have grown quite accustomed to us and are not frightened at all by us, but rather simply curious. They still keep their distance to a degree, but they don't tend to run away when they see us, even if we get within about 50 feet of them as they eat apples from our tree. In fact, my wife has commented that it seems like Disney movie sometimes when she walks out into our yard because so much wildlife seems to enjoy gathering in our yard. And when we walk out into the yard, they simply look up at us as if they are waiting for us to break into song.

In this picture, two of the adults stopped on the edge of the hill leading down from the road to the edge of the woods to take a final look. I think they know that we leave apples and pears on the ground around our trees, so they recognize that we're not a threat. Probably the greater threat is the absolutely huge ground hog who has set up shop in a pile of tree limbs near one of our apple trees. When we've seen him standing on his hind legs eating an apple recently, we've often mistaken him for a medium-sized dog. I think he's very well-fed. No pictures of him yet, though.

A gift from my wife

If you bought something for yourself, could you claim that you had bought it as a gift for your spouse? I would never have imagined that this could be answered with a "yes" ... until now.

After my wife and I saw the movie Fireproof, my wife purchased the book that is at the heart of this movie. When she came home from the book store, she gave me a new book by my favorite author, John Piper. I noticed another book and asked her what it was. She showed me the book, The Love Dare, by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick. I teased her about getting me a book that lays out ways you can be a better spouse. She told me that she hadn't bought that book for me, but for herself.

So then, my wife bought herself a book—but it is a present for me. That is, it would be a present for me if the book has the impact that is indicated by the movie Fireproof.

So today I picked up the book and read the introduction. I realize that I, too, need to read this book and take each step seriously. Pray for me as I begin and continue this journey. It looks like a rough but rewarding path.

1 Corinthians 13:13
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The Scriptures Say that God designed and created marriage as a good thing. It is a beautiful, priceless gift. He uses marriage to help us eliminate loneliness, multiply our effectiveness, establish families, raise children, enjoy life, and bless us with relational intimacy. But beyond this, marriage also shows us our need to grow and deal with our own issues and self-centeredness through the help of a lifelong partner. If we are teachable, we will learn to do the one thing that is most important in marriage—to love. This powerful union provides the path for you to learn how to love another imperfect person unconditionally. It is wonderful. It is difficult. It is life changing.

This book is about love. It's about learning and daring to live a life filled with loving relationships. And this journey begins with the person who is closest to you: your spouse. May God bless you as you begin this adventure.

1 Corinthians 13:1–3

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

But be sure of this: it will take courage. If you accept this dare, you must take the view that instead of following your heart, you are choosing to lead it. The world says to follow your heart, but if you are not leading it, then someone or something else is. The Bible says that "the heart is more deceitful than all else" (Jeremiah 17:9), and it will always pursue that which feels right at the moment.

We dare you to think differently—choosing instead to lead your heart toward that which is best in the long run. This is a key to lasting, fulfilling relationships.

The Love Dare journey is not a process of trying to change your spouse to be the person you want them to be. You've no doubt already discovered that efforts to change your husband or wife have ended in failure and frustration. Rather, this is a journey of exploring and demonstrating genuine love, even when your desire is dry and your motives are low. The truth is, love is a decision and not just a feeling. It is selfless, sacrificial, and transformational. And when love is truly demonstrated as it was intended, your relationship is more likely to change for the better.

From the introduction to The Love Dare

October 13, 2008

What I'm reading this week


Today's Bible Reading Matthew 12:22-50; Luke 11

I'm also reading:
Spectacular Sins   John Piper
Solomon Among the Postmoderns   Peter J. Leithart

October 11, 2008

What if McCain had warned Congress ahead of time?

I am hoping that John McCain will win the upcoming presidential election. But with the current economic woes, many of the American electorate are turning away from John McCain. Well over half of the American public say that they trust Obama more than McCain in economic matters.

Imagine with me, if you will, what it would mean in the minds of the American public had John McCain warned Congress in stern tones that if they did not reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac economic disaster may result.

Imagine if McCain had sent a letter to the Majority Leader that said:

We are concerned that if effective regulatory reform legislation for the housing-finance government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) is not enected this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole....

With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would actually pay this debt if Fannie or Freddie could not?...

It is vitally important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that these institutions benefit from strong and independent regulatory supervision, operate in a safe and sound manner, and are primarily focused on their statutory mission. More importantly, Congress must ensure that the American taxpayer is protected in the event either GSE should fail. We strongly support an effort to schedule some time this year to debate GSE regulatory reform.

But you don't have to imagine. This letter was written, signed by John McCain and 19 other senators, and sent to Majority Leader Frist and Chairman Shelby on May 5, 2006—more than two years ago.

This letter was not signed by Barack Obama or any other Democrat. And you don't have to imagine because here it is in PDF format. Read it for yourself—and vote accordingly.

October 10, 2008

Blog Header - October 10, 2008

Three years ago we visited the wonderful Natural Bridge, right here next to Lynchburg, Virginia. As I was going through some of my photos today, I ran across this photo of the Natural Bridge Inn.

We were there in early July 2005 and we stayed in one of the cottages on the mountain top across the valley from the Natural Bridge Inn. Our visit to this fantastic place was sponsored by a pro-adoption organization my wife worked for at the time. The conferences the organization was putting on were held in the Inn. So we headed to the Inn early in the morning to eat breakfast before the conferences began.

The fog was heavy in the air and the place was absolutely gorgeous.

I wrote a little bit about Natural Bridge just after we visited. Read the post God of Wonders that I wrote in July 2005 about the amazing "Creation" presentation done at the bridge.

My son

I was going through some of my photos today and came across this photo of my son. I just thought I ought to post it.

David is a great kid with a wonderful love for life. You can really see his personality in this photo, which was taken in our enclosed porch with lawnmowers and boxes piled all around. Not nearly as exciting as a real photography studio.

He claims he's the most photographed kid in history.

Okay, so maybe he's right. A little more searching (and some help from my wife) came up with this photo from about 13 years ago.

Not much has changed. He still wants to go outside.

Well...photography has changed quite a bit. This photo was taken on a camera that used long rolls of plastic-type material the were held in a light-proof area of the camera until the light-sensitive salt solution on the plastic material was exposed to the light. Then that roll of plastic was removed from the camera, taken to a store and submitted for what they called "developing." After an overnight process, we would go back to the store and pick up our photographic prints.

At this point, about 12 hours or so later (if we had used the more expensive quick turnaround service) we could finally see the results of our photography and see if the exposure and focus were proper.

Remember those days?

Got blessing?

Jesus, of Nazareth

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

October 09, 2008

Additional quote of the day

I just had to add this one today—hat tip to SimpleGifts3 of Indelible Grace:

Host introduces Joe Biden as "John McCain"

Quote of the day

American Medical Association – Geniuses

"Many groups in America face health risks: children, adolescents, the elderly, the homeless, women. The AMA is committed to speaking out on their behalf ... establishing programs and policies that protect and defeat their rights to a long and healthy life."
—the AMA

From an American Medical Association letter sent to resident doctors

October 08, 2008

Not bad, for government work...

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in California when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?'


Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, Why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'

Cowboy Bud (okay, Cowboy David)

'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government', says Bud.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew,to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows...this is a herd of sheep. Now, give me back my dog.

October 07, 2008

Blog Header - October 7, 2008

Today's blog header photo was taken just about two years ago. One of the adult Sunday school classes in our church (Old Forest Road Baptist Church) organized a fall colors hike up the Peaks of Otter. This is a mountain near Lynchburg, Virginia, and it is gorgeous. It was quite a hike up the side of the mountain—with actual rock climbing involved in some areas of the path. We were all exhausted by the time we reached the summit. But it was well worth it.

What a glorious planet God has given us. I can't wait to see what he's been working on for the past 2,000 years since Jesus told us, "I go to prepare a place for you."

October 06, 2008

You MUST see this movie!

My wife and I don't go to the theater very often. For the cost of a couple theater tickets, you can purchase the DVD and watch the movie over and over—as long as you're willing to wait for a few months to see the movie. But this past weekend we decided to go to the theater to see the new movie Fireproof, and what a great decision that was!

"Fireproof" was produced by the same church that produced "Facing the Giants." Facing the Giants was an enjoyable movie, even though the acting was not up to the quality level of the Hollywood productions. But the storyline was so compelling that the sub-par acting faded into nonexistence as soon as the story took hold (about a quarter of the way through the movie.

The acting is not nearly as noticeable in Fireproof. Kirk Cameron plays the lead role and, I believe, had a great impact on the acting abilities of the other players. No one, including Cameron, received any pay for their work in this movie. The whole movie was made on a budget of $500,000. And it is a phenomenal movie. With just over 800 theaters showing the movie in its first weekend, it pulled in the second highest ticket sales (more than $11 million in sales) behind the top-ranking movie, which was showing in more than 3,000 theaters. And it deserved to do better.

Clips, trailers, and more:

This movie doesn't pull any punches and if you are married and honest (and are a Christian), you will be convicted and even humiliated by what you have done wrong in your marriage. And you will be motivated to love your spouse, to correct your actions, and to recommit to your vows to your spouse and to God. If you are not a Christian, you may not understand much. But I pray that you will understand the movie's presentation of God's love and the absolute necessity of a relationship with Jesus Christ to be the foundation for human love to each other.

During the movie, the audience response was inspiring. I saw some couples move their children from between them so that they could sit next to each other. After the movie I saw multiple couples embracing and talking privately. As we left the theater, we saw a friend who had also just seen the movie with her husband. As I quickly wiped my tear-stained cheeks, I noticed that her face also showed evidence of tears. My son said, "I thought Mom was a fire hydrant" because she was crying so hard during the movie.

I don't know what else to say other than you MUST see this movie! Hire a baby sitter, plan a special night out together, grab your wife or husband and go see this movie. Now. While it's still in the theaters. It will be one of the best things that you could do for your marriage, for your church, for your community ... for yourself.

October 04, 2008

To-do list

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis

Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you.

This past week has been extremely full and busy. I have had very little time to attend to myself. And the weekend looks every bit as busy as the week has been.

So, hoping that I could find a little bit of quiet time in which to relax early this morning, I grabbed my copy of The Imitation of Christ, opened it to a random portion and began reading. And I found something that I obviously need to add to the top of my to-do list.

My pastor has talked from the pulpit about those people that just tend to rub you the wrong way. He encourages us to pray for them and to not allow bitterness to rise against a brother or sister in Christ. And he always reminds us that we are that person for someone else. That's a good thing to remember.

So much for the relaxation.

October 03, 2008

Modern voting technology

Probably not intended as a warning but, nevertheless, quite funny.

October 02, 2008

Blog Header - October 3, 2008

This blog header photo is actually a composite of two different photos that seemed to go well together.

The photo of the girl was taken in the downtown area of Lynchburg on John Lynch Day. This was the anniversary of the day that John Lynch completed his unique rope guided barge voyage across the rapids of the James River, allowing people access to the area of the mountain that is now known as Lynchburg. This young lady (and her family) dressed in period garb for the celebration. I took quite a few pictures of this family. They all looked great. And they said that the mom of the family had made all of the outfits from scratch. Pretty talented.

The other photo that contributed to this composite was a photo of the house in the background. The house is a fabulous old mansion known as Point of Honor. It sits atop one of the hills on the edge of the city of Lynchburg. During the War Between the States, it was the home of a local doctor who treated the wounded soldiers wearing both gray and blue. When questioned about his treatment of Yankee soldiers, this doctor said that he considered it a "point of honor to treat anyone in need." Thus the name of this house.

I took the Point of Honor photo about two weeks after the photo of the girl in period garb. When I realized how good they would look together, I layered the two and added a shadow cast from the girl onto the walkway and the grass. I kind of like the result. The sepia toning was the final touch and provided the final needed ingredient in this photo's recipe.

Quote of the day

Casey Stengel – Genius

"Line up alphabetically by height."
—Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel, baseball great

October 01, 2008

Martin Luther on bold proclamation of controversial truths

Martin Luther changed the world when his extremely controversial ideas were distributed by the new technology of the printing press. God used this man who was so grounded in scripture that he was willing to face death rather than recant to launch the visible reformation of the Church. And his impact is still felt strongly today.

One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther is his statement about the importance of standing for not just truth but for controversial truth:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.

I don't believe there has been a time more ripe than now for the repetition of what happened in Martin Luther's day. As the printing press allowed Luther's words to be distributed to the masses, the Internet today allows for the publication and distribution of thoughts and concepts in a way unimaginable just a decade earlier.

The technology is in place. The human inability and debauchery is in place. Now we need someone to step into the role that Martin Luther filled 500 years ago. May God raise such a person soon.