June 30, 2009

My wife—the cook


’ve mentioned before what a difficult time I have keeping my weight down since my wife is such a great cook. Well ... things haven’t changed. Okay, maybe they’ve gotten worse.

When my wife was at Target a few weeks ago she noticed a set of DVDs put out by the FOOD Network. They were incredibly low-priced sets of complete seasons of some of the FOOD Network’s series. So Kim picked up a copy of a full season of "Ace of Cakes" and a full season of Paula Dean’s show.

We’re southerners, so the Paula Dean show is yielding a wealth of potential recipes. So far Kim has tried two of them. And David and I keep pinching ourselves to make sure we’re not dreaming and we haven’t died and gone to an incredible banquet in heaven.

The first two pictures in this post are of the French Toast Casserole with maple syrup that Kim made for us this past Sunday morning for breakfast. Then on Sunday night she made something called Baked Garlic Grits. It was incredible and beyond description. I don’t have a picture of the baked grits, but here’s a picture of the rest of that meal—my son’s favorite: Polish keilbasa. The little pretzel looking things are actually snack pretzels wrapped in bacon. She added Parmesan and Romano cheese to ours; David wanted his without cheese and this picture is of his plate.

Jealous, aren’t you?

June 29, 2009

David Holmes - the rapping flight attendant

I saw this guy on Huckabee last night. This guy is great!

Serious guitar playing


have a few heroes in the guitar world—actually, quite a few. But when it comes to jazz guitar, there are just a couple of guitarists that rise to the top. Those two are Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour. You’ve heard Larry Carlton quite a bit, most likely. He has been the studio guitarist on myriad rock-n-roll albums—most notably, all the Steely Dan albums. He has also played on tour with a very long list of artists. But he really shines when he plays jazz and blues under his own name. He is an outspoken and dedicated Christian and a phenomenal guitar player.

Lee Ritenour is the quintessential jazz guitarist. He’s not nearly as eclectic as Larry Carlton in his musical genres, staying very close to the jazz scene and venturing not much further than a bit of fusion and jazz-rock.

So I was quite pleased when I ran across this video of my two favorites playing together—along with an incredible bass player. I hope you enjoy it.

And here’s another one:

And yet another:

June 28, 2009

Blog Header - June 28, 2009

A peaceful park at one end of
the Black Water Creek Trail

I took today’s header photo just yesterday when David and I went for a bike ride on the beautiful Black Water Creek trail. This bike trail/walking path is a flat paved trail that winds its way through the woods near our house, to the downtown Lynchburg City waterfront, across the James River and eventually ends up on an island in the river. The entire trail is about 15 miles and is gorgeous all the way.

Because the trail was originally a railroad track (circa. early 1800s), it is quite flat with very slight grades. This makes it wonderfully easy to walk and to ride bikes on. The forest all around is beautiful, and the local topography is hilly enough to give delightful contrast to the scenery. Sometimes the ground drops off dramatically on either side of the trail, making it a little scary if you look down the cliff-side as you pass. And in other places each side of the trail is solid rock face where the pathway was cut out of the mountainside in order to allow the trains to pass through.

David riding his bike along the trail

At one point the mountain was so big that they couldn’t just cut a pathway in it, but actually had to make a tunnel burrowing through the mountain. That tunnel is now lit with incandescent lights all the way through. This is good, because the tunnel is actually quite long and it curves so that when you’re in the middle of the tunnel you can’t see either of the ends. It would be quite dark without those incandescent lights.

Downtown Lynchburg - taken from the skate park
The diagonal incline is part of Black Water Creek Trail

Moss grows on the inside of the walls of the tunnel, making them look and feel a little fuzzy. Water that has traveled through hundreds of yards of earth and stone drips from the top of the tunnel and forms small pools of water along the trail. And in the summer, the temperature drops by 20 degrees or so inside the tunnel compared to the outside of the tunnel just a few feet away. It's a wonderful bit of “air conditioning” about halfway between our house and downtown Lynchburg.

We tend to stop when we get downtown becuase there’s a wonderful little skate park there that David like to watch. We buy Gatorade from the skate shop and sit and watch the people on their skateboards. Every now and then a train comes through, just a few feet from the skate park. David loves trains, so that is another bonus.

Watching the train go by

The Black Water Creek trail is part of a long-term project that plans to extend this walking trail the entire length of the railroad tracks from Peaks of Otter all the way to Virginia Beach—about 250 miles total. What a great ride that will be someday.

This trail is just one of the many things we will really miss when we move away from Lynchburg in the next month or so. We have really loved our time here. But God has new plans and new adventures in store for us, wherever he eventually takes us.

Flowers along the trail

Here’s a previous post about the Black Water Creek Trail.

Salty Christians

Mark 9:43–48

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”


n recent days I’ve heard many news commentators reference this passage in an effort to show that the Christian scriptures are as violent and bloody as the Koran. The thing that always amazes me about their assertion is that this passage is clearly pedagogical in nature and not meant to be taken completely literally, although I think Jesus meant it literally if, in fact, it is necessary to chop off a body part to avoid temptation.

The other way in which this passage is clearly not like the passages in the Koran encouraging violence against the infidels is that this passage is talking about what we need to do to personally root out and destroy sin in our lives. It is not about violence against others; it is about being ruthless in our efforts to remove any possibility of temptation.

But discomfort with the references made by the talking heads is a convenient distraction in this case. Jesus is saying something serious to his followers here, and it doesn’nt really matter what the news commentators and opinion makers have to say about this passage. What matters is whether or not I am doing this. And I must confess—I am not.

Matthew 9:49–50

For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

In my reading of this passage this morning, it also struck me that the passage ends with the discussion of being salt in the world. Jesus used salt to illustrate three qualities that should be found in his people: (1) We should remember God’s faithfulness, just as salt when used with a sacrifice recalled God’s covenant with his people (Leviticus 2:13). (2) We should make a difference in the “flavor” of the world we live in, just as salt changes meat’s flavor (Matthew 5:13). (3) We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay.

When we lose this desire to “salt” the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to him. I don’t want to be a useless vessel.

Then Jesus goes on to encourage his followers to “be at peace with one another.” Apparently all of these things work together in Christ’s plan for his people. We must ruthlessly root out temptation in our lives; we must impact our world as salt impacts meat; and we must try to live at peace with other Christians.

This is a high goal, but it is a directive given us by our Commander. I know I have a lot of work to do.

June 26, 2009

Blog Header - June 26, 2009


oday’s header photo was taken from the Sequioa Restaurant in Washington, D.C. This is a beautiful stretch of the Potomac River, very close to the infamous Watergate Condominiums and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As it turns out, it is also directly across the river from a building that may soon be my home office—if the rumors are accurate. We’ll see.

Time to clean house

Much that has existed, and that now exists, among the professed followers of Christ, cannot be contemplated by one who sincerely loves him, without deep distress. Different creeds, and different ecclesiastical organizations, have divided those who bear his name into hostile parties, and Christianity has been disgraced, and its progress retarded. The world has seen hatred and persecution where brotherly love ought to have been exhibited; and Christ has been crucified afresh, and put to open shame, by those who claim to be his disciples.
—J.L. Dagg

The Value of Remembering

Mark 8:13-21

So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake. But the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any food, so there was only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” They decided he was saying this because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “Why are you so worried about having no food? Won't you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?  ‘You have eyes – can’t you see? You have ears – can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all?  What about the five thousand men I fed with five loaves of bread? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. “And when I fed the four thousand with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. “Don’t you understand even yet?” he asked them.


his passage was so fitting for today. It amazes me that God hand picks tests for me and then grabs me with the text I need to read, even though I may be reading sequentially through the Bible.

Rich reminded me the other day about the “monuments” that the patriarchs would set up after an important event. It was a place to return, to remember, and a place to teach their young people about God’s faithfulness. For us, our markers might be scrapbooks or journals, or a “token” that reminds us of what God was doing at a particular point in our life.

The importance of those markers is what Jesus tells the disciples here. They remind us of the lessons we learned in the last storm, the last difficulty, or even in the last victory. They remind us of how God made the impossible possible. They remind us of how He turned pain into incredible joy. They remind us how very much God loves us and is involved in every detail of our lives to conform us to the image of His dear Son.

What storm are you in just now? Look back and find that marker of how God brought you through the last one. And while you are in this storm, or while you bask in this spiritual victory, lay out some markers now for the next one—to remind you of what God is doing just now.

Perpetuum Jazzile - Jazz!!

June 25, 2009

Exercise for health

I know I need exercise, but this looks a little painful on the thigh muscles. And not nearly as aerobic as it should be.

Our behavior as ambassadors


have lived most of my life in the shadow of Washington, D.C. Living in the nation’s capitol brings a mixture of many benefits and many things that are not so beneficial. I try to focus more often on the beauty of the district and the many educational and cultural things it has to offer. But today I am reminded of one of the negative sides of living near Washington, D.C.—the foreign ambassadors.

Although we have not heard recently about any serious problems with foreign ambassadors, living near them is a constant reminder that many of these folks live as though they are above the law. They drive at high rates of speed around the city, they often park in no parking zones, they pass the other cars backed up on the street by driving into oncoming traffic or by driving down the sidewalk or even across the grass.

And you can spot them quite easily because their cars are often emblazoned with stickers of their national flags and their license plates always say Diplomat. Unfortunately, quite often their behavior would not be described as “diplomatic”.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

So as I was reading this morning in Matthew 17 about the need to be good citizens and pay our taxes I noticed a cross reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20. I looked it up. And it struck me that what Jesus was explaining to Peter in the Matthew passage, is also being addressed in 2 Corinthians. We need to be good citizens while we live as ambassadors in a foreign land.

Our citizenship is not here on earth. We are ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven. But we are encouraged by our king to follow the local laws so that we will not become a stench to the people of this land. If we become a stench, the message our king has sent us to proclaim gets lost and obscured by our bad behavior.

Christians have a reputation for many things that are not good. We are known for leaving bad tips, for acting egotistical, for not following the laws that pertain to the workforce and the fire and safety laws. Many Christian leaders even defend such misbehavior by saying that “as a tax-exempt organization we are not bound by the same laws.”

This is not the way to be winning ambassadors. May we all strive to be good citizens as we sojourn in this foreign land.

June 24, 2009

Summertime fun


y son loves summertime. He loves being out of school and being able to play all day. He even loves the hot weather. But he gets bored within minutes on the first day of summer break.

So we are given the typical responsibility of trying to direct his energies.

Of course, we try the same things our parents tried even though they never worked for us either. If you’re bored you can clean your room. Or why don’t you read a book. Nope ... they don’t work any more with David than they did with us. In fact, they probably work less.

But David has always enjoyed dressing up. So today he decided to dress up—with no direction from us. He pulled out his cowboy hat and bent one side of the brim up at a sharp angle. He inserted a peacock feather into the band around his hat. He pulled out his old Renaissance festival cape from when he was about three years old. He pulled out my Renaissance sword. And he became D'Artagnan.

After running around (using his wooden sword) for a while, he came in to ask me if I could take a few pictures of him in his get-up and if I would allow him to use my sword. I consented and we took a few pictures out in the front yard.

Then, a little bit later in the day, we decided to cut his hair to help him stay cooler in the hot weather. Part way through the hair cut he decided he wanted a mohawk. So we gave it to him. He was quite excited about it until he realized that we thought he looked pretty cool with it. Then he said that we could take a picture of him with the mohawk, but he wanted us to finish the hair cut after we were done with the photographs. Kids these days.

I just thought you might like to catch a glimpse into life at the Gelina household during summer vacation. It’s never dull.

Blog Header - June 24, 2009

Today’s header was actually a header I created as a prototype for a women’s ministry blog. I offered five or so examples and the blog owner chose a different one. So this one, which I really liked, went into my collection.

June 22, 2009

Soul's Spring

The snows are melting; dripping refreshing, life giving water down into roots of seemingly dead trees.
The wind has been warmed by a healthy dose of radiant sun.
The birds are returning from their southern flight.
And I can feel this in my heart.

Rays of sun chase away the bitter frost of winter’s cold blast, waking up the buds.
They emerge, hope-filled, and ready for that first refreshing rain.
The hum of buzzing bees signals the approaching spring.
The thaw has begun.

Now, the refreshing spring rains arrive, and with them, new life in places I’d forgotten existed.
Over there, a shoot rises from the previously frozen earth—
A soon-to-be tulip pushing up toward the warming sun.
And its beauty is overwhelming.

The trees, which have been resting in the cold winter blast, burst forth with lacy, waving leaves,
Applauding the arrival of this season of refreshing and renewing.
Everything around sings praise to their Creator.
And I heartily join them.

Thank you, my loving Heavenly Father, for the necessary rest of the winter now past.
Yet I thrill with expectation of what lies ahead in the renaissance of spring.
I see Your beauty, Your creative wonders, and marvel
That I am one of them.

June 21, 2009

Fathers Day Outing

Mennonite farmer listening to his customers

Today is Fathers Day. But because Mothers Day and Fathers Day always fall on Sundays, we usually do any celebration on the prior Saturday. So yesterday we did just that.

We went to two of my favorite Lynchburg places—the Lynchburg Market and the White Hart cafe. I, of course, took my camera with me. Unfortunately, I didn't take an extra battery and didn't notice that my battery was almost dead until it was ... well, dead. So I ended up taking five photos within the first five minutes or so of our arrival at the market and then I had to put my camera back into the trunk of our car and walk around in a totally useless state. Or at least that’s the way it felt to me.

Our friend, Kiera, from church

But we saw one of our friends from church at the market. We purchased some wonderful sour dough bread from the Mennonite farmer and his son. We also purchased some fruits and vegetables and even some Mayan chocolate (dark chocolate pieces with cinnamon and chili oil). The cinnamon gives a quick burst of hot and the chili oil gives a long-lasting hot bite in the after taste. Very good stuff.

One of the things I love at the market is seeing the families who take their produce to the market working together. Families working together was the norm in our society many years ago, but it is a very rare thing these days. I love to see the interaction between the family members and watch the children play behind the produce stalls. David loves meeting those children and asking them about their toys and about what they’re playing.

Young boy peeking around his mother

At the White Hart I picked up a great book titled Meltdown: A Free Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and the Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. Okay, it’s a really long title—but so far it’s a really good book.

After we came home, David wanted to play a board game, so he pulled out our Monopoly game and set it up in the living room. Then he proceeded to whip his parents in the game. He really enjoyed seeing each of us fall out of the game due to bankruptcy. You just have to appreciate the closeness of a family set on bankrupting each other for the sheer entertainment value.

June 20, 2009

Roger Rabbit - revisited


t has been quite some time since I’ve posted any photos of our delightful pet cottontail rabbit. Roger has been in our family for 14 months ever since David rescued him as a newborn baby bunny. We think he was the runt of the litter. He’s still pretty small even though he’s now full grown.

Since Roger knows and trusts us so well, we get to see him do things that I don’t think most people ever get to see wild cottontail bunnies do.

During hot weather, Roger likes to stretch his body out to cool it down. We've seen other bunnies do that in our backyard in the shade under one of our big trees. But since Roger is nocturnal, he needs to sleep during the day. So in the warm weather, he stretches out to cool down and then falls asleep. His head gets lower and lower until his chin rests all the way down on the bottom of the cage.

In the picture here, Roger just woke up (because I picked up my camera to take this picture), but he has not yet raised his head up or gotten up on his feet. I just had to share this picture with everyone. He’s just so adorable!

June 19, 2009

Toto’s Africa

They say music is the universal language. This performance by an acapella choir from Slovenia makes me understand that statement. From their web site:

When the voice becomes the instrument...
... and when the instrument becomes the voice, you hear the beat of fresh rhythms and close harmonies of Perpetuum Jazzile. Our repertoire would not be OURS without the typical Brazilian bossa nova, swing, close harmonies, funk, pop and gospel.

Today, when music is moving into the digital sphere, WE are passionately returning it to the analogue!!"

This is phenomenal:

And Stevie Wonder’s “As”:

June 18, 2009

Blog Header - June 18, 2009

Today's header photo is a picture I took during our summer vacation to Dollywood last summer. This blacksmith was a great guy. We had a blast watching him work, but it was really great to talk to him during one of his breaks.

Dollywood is such a fantastic place for families. We thoroughly enjoyed the week we spent there. As much as we love Disneyworld, David said that he'd rather go to Dollywood every time. I think it might be nice to switch back and forth, but Dollywood really is a wonderful place.

What is our nation's heritage?

I know there are many opinions from all sides about the status of our nation as regards religious heritage. No matter where you come down on this issue, these questions from Senator Forbes are worth considering:

June 16, 2009

Our God is in control...


y father co-authored a book on evangelism. The book project was put on hold a while back, but I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of the first few chapters. What really jumps out at the contemporary reader from this manual is the solid theology needed for a true evangelistic outreach.

Postmodern man vilifies those he disagrees with. In the arena of evangelism, this has mainly been done by those who reject God’s total sovereignty over his creation. The line goes that Calvinists don’t believe in evangelism because they think God is going to handle everything and man doesn’t have a choice. Not only is this wrong, but it is a complete misrepresentation of Calvinistic belief.

We Calvinists believe that man has a choice—he has always had a choice. The problem is that man will choose the wrong thing every time. Only when God has removed man’s “heart of stone” and replaced it with a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19) will man seek fellowship with God through repentance of his sins and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. (Notice I didn’t say the potential saving work—Jesus’ death on the cross did not create a potential for salvation; it completely paid the penalty for the sins of those who would believe.)

I am very proud of my father and of his strong stand on the truth of God’s Word. My father is the most evangelistic man I know and he is a 5-point Calvinist. In fact, by John Piper’s definition, my father is a 7-point Calvinist. The straw man is exposed and has been burned up by the pragmatic proof. If we believe that God is in complete control of his creation, not only will we share the gospel to all, but we can rest in the assurance that he will draw to him those for whom Christ has shed his blood.

    Our part: evangelize the world.

        God’s part: save the elect.

We don’t need to do God’s part, nor can we. But we must do ours.

June 14, 2009

Blog Header - June 14, 2009


any years ago I watched the movie “The Color Purple.” I remember it as a good movie with a good message. But the most vivid memory I have from that movie is the line that gave the movie its title. Two young ladies were walking through an open grassy field. As they approached a small patch of wildflowers growing in the field, one of the girls stopped to look at the flowers. She said, “I think that God gets really pissed off when we don’t notice the color purple.”

That quote is stated a bit more crudely than I would prefer when talking about God, but I believe the sentiment it expresses is a very good one. God has created amazing beauty all around us and we need to appreciate it.

God created a world of amazing beauty and then placed Adam and Eve in the Garden where they were to enjoy this intense beauty while having a perfect relationship with God, whose beauty far exceeds that of the natural world.

When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the relationship with God was severed. But also the natural world began to feel the effects of sin. Just as we humans are not perfect as we were created to be, the natural world is not perfect as it was created to be. And yet there is incredible beauty all around us, as long as we take the time to notice. And noticing the world’s beauty should prompt us to praise the Creator, just as the young lady did in The Color Purple.

This past week has been a very full and busy week. We had planned on doing a lot of packing for our upcoming move—and those plans were fulfilled. But many other things came up as the week progressed and we had difficulty getting everything done. So yesterday was a day that we were able to slow down a little bit, wrap up a few loose ends and, at the end of the day, simply sit back and relax.

I had mowed the lawn and the lawn furniture looked particularly inviting. I had also stopped on my way home from DC this past Thursday at Pearmund Cellars Vineyard and Winery to pick up a few bottles of their outstanding wines. So I pulled a bottle of Pearmund Riesling out of the wine refrigerator, grabbed a book, and headed out to sit in the yard. But I never got to read the book.

I had been outside for no more than a few minutes (and read less than a page of my book) when a young deer bounded into the yard. I watched as he frolicked in the yard and looked for food around the apple trees. When he ran off behind our house a few minutes later I continued to look at the trees, the mountains, and the sky. And I had a Color Purple moment.

I went into the house, grabbed my camera, and returned to the yard. By the way, although I love to play around in Photoshop, none of these photos have been altered except for the header photo. The name of my blog was not actually floating there in front of the trees—I had to add it.

The sky was a beautiful deepening blue as the sun began to set. Different types of clouds—some bright, fluffy and white and others dark and whispy—floated across the sky in an ever-changing panoply of beauty. I noticed the wonderful gradations of green in the leaves on the trees, the myriad shades of blue in the distant mountains, and the vivid pink and yellow rims of the clouds as the sun fell further and further from its zenith. It was gorgeous.

And God orchestrated the entire thing—even the all-natural fermentation of the Riesling grapes as they became the outstanding wine I was enjoying—just as he does every single day. His artistry is intense and amazing. What a wonder our God is!

June 13, 2009

Take your guns to church Sunday

I’ve heard of some unique “special focus days” at churches, but this one has grabbed my attention. I think I may need to pay a visit to Kentucky for Independence Day.

I guess I need to exercise

I’ve been told many times that exercise will help keep weight under control. I’ve been told that exercise reduces stress. And now I’m told that exercise will improve my mood for about half a day.

I guess I need to get some exercise.

June 12, 2009

Blog Header - June 12, 2009

Today’s header began as a photo I took at the White Hart cafe in Lynchburg. I saw this couple talking next to the window and loved the way the light from the window outlined their hair and faces. But when I decided to convert the picture to black & white I tried using a black/white gradient map over the image and accidentally clicked the wrong gradient. I ended up with this photo. And I kinda like it.

Happy birthday, Kim


oday is my wife’s birthday. I think this will be a year to remember. Our son is headed into his first year in high school. My sister's son got married. My other nephew will head to college. We will be moving soon. The economy, our nation, and the world as a whole is in turmoil. The future is uncertain.

Kim and our son David

Through it all, we see the hand of God at work. And when things get real crazy and we can’t possibly make it on our own—that’s when God loves to show his power, his love, and his providence.

We think that now is one of those times and we are excited to see what God has planned.

So this birthday will be a little bit less celebratory than normal—at least for now. We don’t have the time or the money to do it up right. But when the storm settles a bit, we will revisit all of our birthdays, our anniversary, and many other things that are being held in check during these turbulent times.

But for now—Happy birthday, Kim. I love you.


A pastor was visiting in the homes of his parishioners. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door.

Revelation 3:20
Behold I stand at the door and knock

So he took out a business card and wrote Revelation 3:20 on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

When the offering was processed the next Sunday, he found that his card had been returned. Below the pastor’s Revelation 3:20, Genesis 3:10 had been scribbled. The pastor reached for his bible to look up this verse. Here is what he found:

Genesis 3:10I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.

June 11, 2009

On a Need to Know Basis

Romans 15:23-32

But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.

For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.



bout five years ago I had a unique opportunity to travel to Italy with my husband and several others in our church for a missions trip to serve the Western European Missionaries with ABWE. Lance and I were on the children’s ministry team. The conference was held at a resort on the Isle of Sicily in Terrasini. Our team flew into Rome for a two-day stayover on the trip in, and a one day stayover on the trip back. The first day we toured as a group and viewed a lot of the historic ruins in Rome. How incredible it was to see with my own eyes the places that the early saints saw! Some of them probably watched the construction of these ruins.

Early the next morning in my hotel room, I read through the last few chapters of Acts to get a feel for what the Apostle Paul must have felt upon his arrival. I read that the Roman believers met Paul on the Appian Way and they rejoiced together. The next day, instead of visiting the Sistine Chapel, Lance and I went alone to the catacombs, and walked down the Appian Way. I saw inside the catacombs and felt the determination and terror that many believers experienced in the early days of the church.

I can see why Paul was anxious to meet with these believers, because their legacy has endured for centuries. They still boldly proclaim their faith from the grave even today in the historic streets of Rome. It affected my faith greatly to be there be where so many believers stood strong for the gospel.

Not long ago I blogged about Paul’s shipwreck on the way to Rome. I postulated that Paul had a personal, emotional desire to go to Rome, more than a missionary zeal, and I think this passage from Romans supports that theory, especially this phrase, “so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”

There are some key phrases in this passage that are stunning when you look ahead to Paul’s journey to Rome. We know what happened, but Paul had not been given the full story about his trip to Rome when he wrote this letter. The only thing he confidently knew was, “when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.” He appealed to Roman believers, “to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea.” He had no idea how critical that prayer was, but think about it. The Roman guard that protected Paul was an answer to prayer as a result of this communication with the believers in Rome. WOW!

St. Paul in Prison, by Rembrandt

Paul was placed under house arrest for two years, but he was able to receive visitors and minister in the presence of these Roman believers, and receive their refreshment, for which they also prayed. No more beatings in the synagogues. No more riots. No more shipwrecks—just refreshment for two years. That morning in Rome, I wrote a note in the margin of my Bible: “God says to Paul, ‘You have worked hard for Me and endured much for the sake of the gospel. Now it’s time to rest and refresh.’“

Paul had no idea what he would endure, but God did. Paul did not know what awaited him on his journey to Rome: the arrest, the trial, the shipwreck. God only gave him enough information to make it to the next “layover.” I see that God does that with us, too. At times we scream for more information, don’t we? But do you suppose most of us would have the strength to continue on if we knew what struggles lie ahead? And we would never have the joy of exercising and growing in our faith if we knew the outcome, now would we? By His grace, and for His glory, He lovingly gives us what we need to know to get us to the next leg of the journey.

Take courage, friends, God has it all mapped out. We just need to trust and obey as we journey on a “need to know” basis.

Wise comments from P.J.

P.J. O’Rourke

Giving money and power to Government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

June 10, 2009

Caleb and Lyn

God provides precious gifts when we’re least expecting it.


iving in a family of missionaries has its difficulties. For the past few decades my family has been spread out across the world. My parents were planting churches in Durban and Richards Bay, South Africa, and my sister and her family are missionaries in Bangladesh.

Caleb and Lyn

My nephews Caleb and Luke attended a high school for missionary kids in the Philippines, where Caleb met and fell in love with a wonderful young lady named Lyn. Skip forward a few years and just a few weeks ago Caleb and Lyn got married. Unfortunately, we were not able to go to the wedding because the wedding was celebrated in the Philippines. My parents were not able to go to attend the wedding either. This is a very difficult part of the family being spread so far away from each other.

But this past Monday night we received a phone call from Caleb. He and Lyn were heading from their college to New Jersey to spend some time with his parents (my sister and brother-in-law). They asked if they could stop in to say hi and give us a chance to meet Lyn. Lynchburg is pretty close to the road they would be taking. We invited them to spend the night.

So last night we finally got to meet Caleb’s  girlfriend   fiancé  wife. She’s a wonderful (and beautiful) young lady and they seem so very happy to be together. We had heard this from my parents and my sister, but it was so wonderful to be able to see it with our own eyes.

God is good!

Congratulations, Caleb and Lynn. May God bless your union and may you, together, have a phenomenal impact on the spread of the kingdom of God.

An American Anthem - Don't underestimate US

This video was created by a...

Well, I’ll let his mother explain it to you. From the text of his mother’s email when she sent this video out to a few of her friends:

I asked Justin if he could help me make a commercial for my group’s Tea Party. He sat down at the laptop for about an hour and then brought this to me and asked “is this okay, Mom?” After I finished watching it, my stomach was in my throat.

June 09, 2009

Becoming a Man of God

My firstborn will turn sixteen this weekend. We’re having a big party to celebrate this milestone in her life, and there will be a great group of guys and girls at the party to help us celebrate. We are so blessed to have quality young people for our children to befriend! I really like these young people a lot, and as the mom of two teenage daughters, I’m a little fussy about the company they keep.

Of course, there are those budding romances around this age, and it’s fun to watch, but scary, too! One never knows whether these young people have found their potential mate, or just a really good friend who happens to be the opposite gender. And that means that I don’t know if my daughters have already met the guy they’ll one day marry. So, here’s an open letter to all the guys I already know, including any who I may one day affectionately refer to as “son.” Even though some of you may not have an ideal home, apply the general principles to your own life:


Treat your mom with the same consideration you would give to your “sweetheart.” A college professor of mine used to say, “Gals, if you want to see how your future mate will treat you, watch the way he treats his mom.” Make sure you tell her often how beautiful she is, and how glad you are that she is your mom. Leave her little notes, sincere ones, that highlight a special quality you appreciate about her. Tell her how her love has made your life so much different from what it could be if she weren’t in your life. Make sure you give her the highest honor of all women—she lovingly cares for you each day.”


Show honor and respect for your dad. Treat him the way you would want your own kids to treat you. My husband used to tell me, “You start training your kids twenty years before they're born.” That’s because your character will have the biggest influence on your kids. Think now about what kind of young man you hope to raise some day, then be that kind of young man to your dad.


Be completely honest in your relationship with your parents. Build a relationship of trust. You won’t be able to convince your future mate that you are trustworthy if your own parents can’t trust you.


Obey your parents, even when it’s hard. Make obedience your passion. This will be one thing a godly woman will look for in you. If you have the habit of obeying your parents, you will likely also be a man who obeys God, even when it’s hard. This means you will make a great leader, and that’s a really attractive thing in a guy.


Don’t try to grow up too fast. You will have many years as an adult, but only a few more years to be a “kid.” You will have the responsibilities that come with adulthood soon enough—don’t even “try them out.” Enjoy where you are now, and be all there. Don’t chase after “tomorrow” or pine away for the “freedom” you’ll have as an adult. Honor God every moment, and your life will be full, even if “tomorrow” never comes.


Although the world says that “opposites attract,” the reality is that “birds of a feather flock together.” You attract the kind of people you are yourself. If you want godly friends, be a godly guy. If you are, even your unsaved friends will respect you. They may not let you know it, but deep down inside, they will wish they were like you.


Chase after godliness the way you chase after a soccer ball in the championship game. Make it your focus. Run hard after it, and don’t let up. Then, not only will you please the people around you, but you will also be able to look forward to hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” No trophy could compare with that moment!!


Spend time becoming “the friend of God.” Get to know what God thinks better than you know what your friends think. Then you won’t be confused by the “logic” of this world. You will have an understanding of what the will of God is, and you will have the strength to do it.


And don’t forget to check in with me in a few years to let me know what God has been doing in your lives. I have no greater joy than to know that my children (in the Lord) walk in the truth.

Mama Fuller

June 08, 2009

Want higher gas prices?

If you’d prefer to keep your gas prices as low as possible, you’ll need to help fight against the “Cap and Trade” Bill currently being discussed by the Obama administration. Cap and Trade sounds like an attempt to get folks to use less energy by making it more expensive (through higher taxes).

Learn about it and sign a petition here.

Coronary Christians

William Wilberforce

“I daily become more sensible that my work must be affected by constant and regular exertions rather than by sudden and violent ones.”

I have just begun reading the third book in John Piper’s The Swans Are Not Silent series. The title of this book is The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverence in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. Last night I read the introduction and will begin the actual book tonight. But something in the introduction struck me as an area in my life that needs work.

Piper described two different types of Christians: Adrenal Christians and Coronary Christians. He explained that Adrenal Christians throw themselves into their committed Christian service in short and energetic spurts, like the spurt of adrenaline when we are frightened or otherwise motivated to quick action. Contrasting this is the “Coronary Christians,” which Piper defines as being similar to the heart muscle, which just keeps on doing its job day-in and day-out. It doesn’t speed up a whole lot and it doesn’t slow down a whole lot at any given time. It just keeps on going with steady progress.

I understand the analogy and I am convicted by it. I want to be a coronary Christian, but I fear I have been an adrenal Christian. Lots of work to do.

Will we ever wake up?


uring the presidential campaign I heard regular proclamations that Barack Obama is a good Christian and that people who worry about his alleged Muslim roots are “fear-mongering.”

The campaign is over. Obama has shunned essentially every opportunity to honor the God of Judeo-Christianity. He has made consistent efforts to reach out to the Muslim world. Recently he has begun emphasizing his own Muslim roots and even went so far as to call the United States of America a “Muslim nation,” even though he had just recently denied that we are a “Christian nation.”

When will we wake up? Here’s a very disturbing story about his recent speech to the Muslim community in which Obama uses an Islamic text urging war against nonbelievers.

June 06, 2009

The only acceptable divorce terms

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950s, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

  1. Our two groups can equitably divide up this country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.
  2. We don’t like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).
  3. We’ll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEOs and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood
  4. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters.
  5. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security.
  6. We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer be paying the bill.
  7. We’ll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Volkswagon you can find.
  8. We’ll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute Imagine, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.
  9. We’ll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we’ll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots. And if you do not agree, sorry—you’re likely in the minority.

In the spirit of friendly parting, I’ll bet you which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Tyler Wilson

The sobering beverage


Coffee, the sobering beverage, a mighty nutriment of the brain, unlike spirituous liquors, increases purity and clarity; coffee, which at length substitutes stimulation of the mind for stimulation of the sexual faculties!...

The strong coffee of San Domingo, which Buffon, Diderot, and Rousseau drank, redoubled the ardor of the ardent souls—and the prophets who assembled day after day in the Cafe Procope saw, with penetrating glance, the depths of their black drink the illumination of the year of the revolution.

Blog Header - June 6, 2009

Today is the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy. D-Day. I took the photo in today’s header at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The photo is of a brass plaque of General Eisenhower’s send-off speech to the troops.

We have so much to thank our military for. And a visit to the National D-Day Memorial will remind you of how much is at stake when our military is involved in protecting our liberty.

I added the "By His Grace - For His Glory," but the actual text of Eisenhower’s speech is inspiring and would be well worth reading for all Americans, but especially for our leaders today.

Read my wife’s blog post about the D-Day Memorial.

June 04, 2009

Resting in Jesus with Fanny Crosby

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Fanny J. Crosby, 1875

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well
    For I know, whate’er befall me
    Jesus doeth all things well

All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living bread;
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul a-thirst may be,
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see,
    Gushing from the rock before me,
    Lo! a spring of joy I see,

All the way my Savior leads me;
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above;
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages,
Jesus led me all the way.
    This my song through endless ages,
    Jesus led me all the way.

False charges

I have been reading a chapter from the Bible each night when we put David to bed. We've been doing this for many years, but recently decided to start at the beginning—in Genesis and work our way through the whole Bible. David has really enjoyed it and quite often asks questions about the stories and about customs in ancient Israel or Egypt.

Last night we read Exodus 23, and verse seven jumped out at me.

Exodus 23:7

Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.

I think we Christians like to pat ourselves on the back and recognize the things we’re so very good at, while overlooking some glaring sins that we don’t want to deal with right now. For example, when reading this verse I am likely to say, “I would never kill someone, so I’m okay with what this verse is saying.” But I have just passed over the first part of the verse that says, “ keep far from a false charge.”

How often do Christians knowingly voice false charges against others? I know that I have done it and it has been done to me many times. Sometimes we will proclaim these false charges against a brother in order to make a story more juicy. Sometimes it is to get back at a perceived affront from that other person. But recently I have seen this sort of thing used to manipulate the thoughts of other people and to poison their thoughts against the person about whom the false charge has been made.

I guess we figure that if we can get people around us to think the right poisonous thoughts about others, it will help us to accomplish our purposes—when we can’t accomplish those purposes as efficiently with the truth.

God finds this wicked. And God will not acquit the wicked.

We need to be careful.

June 03, 2009


Never before have so many people with so little to say
said so much to so few.

Blog Header - June 3, 2009

Today's header photo was taken at the Lynchburg Community Market. Of course, apples are a fall fruit so I'm a bit early in my use of this photo. But I loved the look of these Granny Smith apples. The farmer selling these apples had set up early in the morning and had just finished spraying his fruits and vegetables with a misting wand. The small beads of water on these apples makes me really want to bite into one of them. They look so refreshing.