July 31, 2009

Fiscal irresponsibility

This is seriously frightening!

U.S. Debt Clock

New preamble to the Constitution

I just received this in an email from a friend. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

New Preamble to the Constitution


e the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights.

Recommended Bill of Non-Rights

You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone—not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training put before you to make yourself useful.

You do not have the right to happiness.

Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over-abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

This is an English speaking country. We don’t care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!

You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase “In God We Trust” is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!

July 30, 2009

The darkest time of the night

Habakkuk 3;17–19

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.


he darkest time of the night is the time of the night when your eyes have not yet adjusted, because it’s about to get darker.

At least that’s how it has seemed for us recently.

We have still not heard an answer as to whether or not the owners will see fit to rent the house in Front Royal to us. But we did get a phone call today telling us that it doesn’t look as good as it did a couple days ago.

God is still in control. And He loves to show his power when things seem hopeless.

I’m ready for the fireworks.

Caring for the elderly

I know, it’s sick. But sadly so, since this cartoon is not far from the truth of what is being proposed.

July 28, 2009

Blog Header - July 29, 2009


took this photo on our way back from Front Royal, just a few hours after we had applied for a rental property there. As I looked through those photos I was drawn to this one. I set it up as the blog header for this date. And shortly thereafter I began to see it as a break in the storm that we have been going through.

I had hoped that I would be able to report today that we have received the approval on the house we’re interested in. Unfortunately, that is not the case... yet.

But at this point, it looks good. We’re still in the running and I believe that God is preparing things for this move. I will let everyone know through this blog as soon as this break in the storm becomes a reality for us. For now, we’re still waiting. But it appears that God’s light is beginning to shine through the darkness that has characterized our path for these last few months.

Praise God—Jehovah Jireh!

July 27, 2009

3-step program from God

Psalm 50:15

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.


e have been looking for a new home for a few months. We have waited on the Lord to show us the path he wants us to take. Our efforts have born little fruit, but we know that ultimately God controls all things and moves things along for his greater glory and for our benefit and blessing.

But as our landlords’ move-out date has gotten closer and closer, my faith has begun to tremble. I know God is in total control, but I also really don’t want to move my family to the street or to a homeless shelter.

But this morning I was reminded of Psalm 50:15, which I have thought of as God’s 3-Step Program. To directly quote the verse, here are the three steps:

  1. Call upon me in the day of trouble
  2. I will deliver you
  3. You shall glorify me.

That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?

So, this past Friday we filled out an application for a small rental property in Front Royal, Virginia. I have asked many friends to pray about this situation—to pray that God would work these things out to his honor and glory and would see fit to open the pathway to a new home for our family.

We should hear an answer about this home by midweek. So I am entreating all of you to pray with me that God will work this situation out. His 3-Step Program says to call on him in the day of trouble—I believe that this situation qualifies as “the day of trouble.” He then promises to deliver those who call on him in this way.

And then he says, “you shall glorify me.”

So if you pray with us about this you will have a commitment to fulfill. When God answers this prayer and gives us a home, you must join us in glorifying God.

Will you make that commitment and join us in prayer?

I will update you all soon—and we will shout praises to our God together!

Forgiveness Part II: Forgiveness is spiritual

Mary Fuller

Forgiveness Is Spiritual

Unforgiveness comes naturally. (Eccl. 7:9 / James 1:20)

  • The natural (unregenerate) man, in the interest of “righteousness,” always tries to keep the scales balanced himself.

Forgiveness comes supernaturally, by means of the Holy Spirit.

The born-again believer (regenerate man), has been sensitized to a host of concepts and invisible realities which are spiritual in nature (e.g., a personal, loving, and forgiving God who replenishes losses; a sense of purpose; a sense of calling; etc.) It is all this which enables the believer, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to truly forgive.

Forgiveness Is Not:

  • Pretending it didn’t hurt or that it didn’t matter—(The offense or damage is a real matter to me. Forgiveness is not the same as pretending.)
  • An emotion—(If I wait until I feel like forgiving, I’m going to wait a long time!)
  • Getting over an offense by waiting it out—(Time does not heal all wounds; it merely covers over most wounds.)
  • Letting a person “off the hook” with God—(We don’t have the power or authority to relieve others of their responsibility before God!) (Rom. 14:11-12; 1 Pet. 4:5; Heb. 4:13)
  • Immediately trusting the offender again—(Forgiveness is granted; trust is earned.) (Eph. 1:7, Luke 17:3-4, Col. 3:13)

    Trusting comes only as we get to know someone and believe in their character that’s why I can trust God—because I am confident in His character (Psalm 18:30, Num. 23:19)

July 26, 2009

Blog Header - July 26, 2009


took this photo on our way back from Front Royal this past Friday. We stopped to take some pictures at a scenic overlook as we passed through the Afton mountains. As I was walking toward the railing with my tripod and camera, I took a couple quick photos. This was one of those and I liked the inclusion of the girl looking at the scene.

I love mountains. The weather conditions change the look of things so drastically in the mountains that in a matter of a few hours you can get many different looks. As we traveled to Front Royal we saw wisps of clouds along the roadway, hovering just a few feet above the road and trees. Then on the way home a few hours later, the clouds were high, the sky was an intense blue and you could see for miles. We didn’t stop to take pictures on the way, but decided it was worth the stop on the way home.

July 25, 2009

God's majestic creativity


esterday we drove to Front Royal to look at a potential next home. Praise the Lord! it seems as though things are moving along finally. We applied for the home and should hear about the results soon. Pray with us that God works things out to his glory and to our benefit.

On the way back to Lynchburg, we traveled through the Afton Mountains. This is a beautiful area along Route 64. We stopped at the scenic overlook on the top of one of the mountains and took a few pictures. It was fun to watch the folks get out of their cars and snap pictures with their cell phones. And we are grateful to God that we have cameras that are a little bit better than that.

The photos here are High Dynamic Range composites taken with my Canon 50D DSLR.

July 23, 2009

Blog Header - July 24, 2009

I love playing in Photoshop. This sepia toned photo with the black & white girl in the foreground was an experiment in Photoshop that I thought turned out rather nicely. I kinda like the blog title on the wall too.

Photoshop is such fun.

July 22, 2009

Alaska declares its state sovereignty


here are many reasons that I like and support Sarah Palin. Here’s another one.

In the final weeks of her role as governor of Alaska, Palin has signed a declaration of Alaska’s sovereignty over all matters not specifically slated for the federal government in the Constitution of the United States.

From Alaska’s declaration:

Be it resolved that the Alaska State Legislature hereby claims sovereignty for the state under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

Be it further resolved that this resolution serves as Notice and Demand to the federal government to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

You go girl!!

Yodh - Psalm 84:73-80

Psalm 84:73–80


    Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

    Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.

    I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

    Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.

    Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.

    Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.

    Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.

    May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

July 21, 2009

Forgiveness Part I: The relevance of forgiveness


have had the privilege of sitting in a Sunday school class with Steve Polen, a gifted teacher who fills in when our regular teacher (who is also a gifted communicator!!) is away. This particular series of lessons was so good, I wanted to share it with our readers. I thanked Steve Sunday night and asked for his permission to post this on the blog, and he was thrilled, too, to share it with our readers, and sent me the notes.

I’m breaking it up into smaller sections with Rich’s help, so you can meditate on it a bit at a time. There’s so much here for further study and thought. I’d love to hear your response to this material, so please share your thoughts.

Why forgiveness is relevant

Forgiveness is important because it removes a barrier to fulfilling several things which God wants to work in us:

  • the ability of the Holy Spirit to express thanks to God through us (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • the ability of the Holy Spirit to express agape love through us (John 15:17)
  • Born-again believers are the only place agape can be found on earth! (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:10-14)
  • Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires. (James 1:20)
  • The ability of a believer to “see” spiritually (1 John 2:9-11)

Unforgiveness is

a thankfulness blocker,


a love blocker,


a spiritual vision blocker!

When Forgiveness is relevant

Forgiveness is needed when I have been hurt (offended) or harmed (damaged).

Sometimes forgiveness is necessary when I fail to be able to get what I need from someone, but usually forgiveness is most relevant when I suffer some kind of a loss (often from some injury and/or injustice):

A Father’s Love

There’s a story of a Spanish father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13

  1. Tangible loss—loss of physical “goods”
    i.e., pertains to the observable
  2. Intangible loss—loss of emotional “goods”
    i.e., pertains to the soul

In both the tangible and the intangible realms, the “causes” of a loss can be:

  • the attitudes or actions of others (Acts 27:9-26)
  • the attitudes or actions of myself (2 Chr. 16:7-9; 2 Sam. 12:1-14)
  • the sovereign action of God (Lam 3:37-38; Isa. 45:7), ultimately for—
    • our good (Rom. 8:28-30)
    • chastening (correction) (Heb. 12:5-11)
    • testing of our faith (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
    • development of steadfastness (James 1:3-4)
    • His glory (John 9:1-3; John 11:1-4, 40; Rom. 11:36)

July 20, 2009

Just do the right thing

Genesis 4:7

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.


often tell my son that he just needs to do what he knows is right. It can be frustrating as a father to see your child chose the wrong thing when you know you have taught him the right way to act in this particular situation.

Our heavenly Father must have a similar reaction when, although I have learned from God what the right path actually is, I so often choose the path that I know is wrong. And yet, down the wrong path I go—time after time.

As I read Genesis 4 this evening it struck me how simple God’s statement to Cain really is. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” And the rhetorical assumed answer is, “Yes! Of course. I will be accepted if I do what is right.”

But as Paul ruminated, sin reigns in our mortal bodies and our flesh is in continual warfare against that which we know is right. So God further directed Cain, “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

May God help me to rule over the sin that crouches at my door. I don’t want to intentionally choose the wrong path anymore.

Life in Lynchburg, Virginia


his past Saturday we tried to get a little rest after a long, hard, grueling week. It was an enjoyable morning.

The day began with David noticing an adorable bunny standing in the yard cleaning his fur. I grabbed my camera and took a picture, but I think I spooked him because shortly after I took the picture he decided to sprint away through the woods.

It’s amazing and wonderful to see God’s wildlife frolicking around our yard. Of course, we have encouraged that behavior by putting out apples for the deer during the cold weather and by cultivating the clover that attracts the bunnies.

I had to work Saturday, so we needed to find someplace where I could log onto the internet. So we headed for the Lynchburg Market. It was a very busy day there with people everywhere. Piles of fresh vegetables were stacked everywhere. Breads and sweets were displayed by our Amish farmer, Amos. Bright flashes of color burst from the flower stalls. And people called to their friends when they saw them, walked over and hugged each other and inquired about their families and activities since the last time they had seen each other.

The market is just such a wonderful place and simply exudes the heart of Lynchburg.

Many times when we have visited the market we’ve seen musicians playing in the central courtyard area. This week, there was a solo guitarist playing and singing in the courtyard. We’ve found the musicians at the market to be quite impressive and this guitarist/singer was every bit as good as the others.

The musicians play for whatever folks are moved to place in their hats or guitar cases. This guitarist had a small box at his feet filled with bills when we walked by. He smiled and nodded at people as they passed.

Many of the sellers at the market bring their children with them on market day. The young girl in the picture to the left here was with her sister, brother, and mother. They own a farm named “Our Father’s Farm, ” a reference, I’m sure, to God, our Father—another one of the ways Lynchburg is desirable to our family. It is a city that is quite open and accepting of Christians, even though we often don’t put the best face forward.

After the market, we crossed the street to the White Hart for some friend apple pie, Italian sodas, and a latte.

You’ve seen my latte from this past Saturday in the blog header for the past couple of days. I love good coffee and there is none better than the coffee you can get at the White Hart.

I also picked up The Politics of Freedom, by David Boaz. The subtitle of this book is, “Taking On the Left, the Right, and Threats to Our Liberties.” So far, it is an outstanding book and it also carries the Libertarian flavor that we love so much in Lynchburg.

It is sad to see our time come to an end here. But it is time to move on now.

July 19, 2009

For His glory

Deuteronomy 5:24

And you said, “Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man and man still live.”

God’s great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are?

Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he bringeth his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance.

He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who “do business in great waters,” these see his “wonders in the deep.” Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man.

Morning and Evening, C.H. Spurgeon

July 18, 2009

Blog Header - July 18, 2009


he latte in today’s header photo is the latte I drank this morning at the delightful White Hart cafe in downtown Lynchburg. Their coffee is the best coffee I’ve ever had anywhere and their lattes are beyond description. I thought I’d share this one with you.

We spent the morning visiting our wonderful open air market and then enjoying our favorite coffee shop and bookstore. This has become a favorite activity of ours on Saturday mornings and we will really miss it when we move.

The father carrying his little boy on his shoulders was at the market checking out the fabulous local vegetables. The market was really slamming today and it was fun to watch the interaction of the people. I’ll post a few more photos tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!

He who must not be named

This is great!

July 17, 2009

Buy a truck - get an AK47


need a new vehicle. Perhaps I should look for this dealer, who is willing to include a new AK47 semi-automatic assault rifle as a standard upgrade. He sells trucks. He believes in God. He stands by the 2nd Ammendment. And he makes CNN talking heads look like morons. What’s not to like?

Blog Header - July 16, 2009


oday’s header is a departure from the standard photographs I have taken. This is actually a water color painting by my favorite artist, Steve Hanks. Hanks’ ability to paint realistic looking fur and water amazes. Translucent backlit fabric in his paintings is incredible too.

I hope you like this one, which has a delightful summery/family feel to me.

July 16, 2009

Jumping to Conclusions

1 Corinthians 4:3-5

What about me? Have I been faithful? Well, it matters very little what you or anyone else thinks. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that isn’t what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.


his passage was horribly convicting to me today. It is a warning to us to avoid jumping to conclusions. All too often, we look at what someone does, and we immediately think we know why they did it. We assume we have all the facts. We are quick to assume the worst, too, assigning negative thoughts behind actions. Instead, we should be gracious in our thought life, giving the benefit of the doubt to our brother or sister when we are injured. Paul spends more time on this later in his letter to the Corinthians in chapter 13.

I see this so often in my children. One will be less than careful and accidentally bump into another. The one bumped flies off the handle, assuming that he was bumped on purpose. “You are always beating up on me.” An argument ensues, fueled by an assumption that has no basis in fact. Instead, they would do well to assume nothing. They need to look around, observe facts, and even ask questions if necessary. “Ouch, that bump hurt, was there a reason you did that?” This begins with the assumption of innocence, and gives the offender an opportunity to explain their actions. It also has the end goal of reconciliation.

Recently, I had a disagreement with a leadership team in the way something was handled. I was offended. I and my husband went to the director and shared my concerns with her. In the process, we tripped over our communication, and feelings were further injured. We walked away, angry and hurt. But my sister in Christ came up to us, offering to take responsibility for the actions that resulted in our injury. She offered to go on a fact-finding mission and then meet with us again to resolve our conflict. But she would not let us leave offended. She made it clear that she wanted reconciliation as soon as possible. I was SOOOO impressed. I felt that she had put our relationship above her need to be right.

About a week later, we met again with another member of the leadership team, and as we went through the details of the issue, concessions were made on both sides, taking responsibility for the communication meltdown. Progress was made on the issue itself, and we reconciled our emotions as well. I have deep respect for this sister in Christ. She is an incredible woman to begin with, but I was so impressed by her willingness to put our relationship ahead of her own reputation.

There were a couple of things that went right in this instance. When I was offended, I went directly to the person and let her know my feelings were hurt. I didn’t take the issue to five other people and let it “get back” to her. This gave her an opportunity to explain her thinking behind her actions. This also gave her an opportunity to explain facts of which I had no knowledge. Yes, my feelings were hurt. But, by God’s grace, I resisted the urge to nurse my injuries and let everyone know how hurt I was. I wanted resolution, not sympathy.

My sister also wanted resolution. She listened to my concerns, and rather than being offended by my questions and my hurts, she sought the facts. She placed our relationship above her need to be right. Her goal was to quickly resolve this conflict so that we could serve together joyfully.

This is how it is supposed to work, and I am incredibly humbled that God allowed me the opportunity to be involved in this conflict. After many years in Christian ministry, I have seen very few times when a conflict was handled biblically with the goal of restoration of fellowship. But this time I witnessed a godly woman step outside her own needs to make amends to an offended sister.

As I read this passage this morning, I was convicted that it all could have gone south if I had simply assumed the worst of the ministry team, complained bitterly to others and nursed my wounds. I have done that regularly in my marriage, in my friendships, at work, and in the family of God. But by God’s grace, I actually did the right thing this time. The outcome was favorable because both of us acted with a heart for preserving our relationship, and God gets the glory! Our behavior was not the norm, rather, it was the result of the Holy Spirit at work within each of us, transforming us into the image of His dear Son. I am trusting that what I have learned through this experience will be applied with the conflicts that I face every day.

July 15, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

The guy in this video took his $3,000 Taylor guitar on a United Airlines flight. The luggage people treated his guitar roughly and broke it. He was not able to get a reasonable response from them, so he wrote this song.

I love it!! - Way to go!

July 14, 2009

Time for us to wake up!!!

Who turned the lights off?

This is exactly how I have felt for the past few months. Where am I going? Which way do I turn?

Maybe I just need to remove the yogurt cup from my head.

Psalm 25:4
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Proverbs 3:6
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

July 13, 2009

Rivermont Park - Our final days in Lynchburg

Time is running out. We need to move very soon and things just aren’t working as we had planned or hoped. I’m not sure what the problem is, but apparently God’s timetable for our move is not matching up with our plans. It has made things quite stressful and is causing no end of difficulty.

David’s summer is rapidly passing by and he has seen more packing and waiting, calling and waiting, inquiring and waiting than a kid his age should have to see in one summer. The waiting has gotten quite old, but we’re still doing it.

So this past Saturday we decided to take David to one of our wonderful local Lynchburg parks to let him get out some energy and have the freedom to just run around and play without us constantly trying to reign in his energy.

Kim and I took books and crafts to work on and we sat at a picnic table while David ran around and met other kids. He has no trouble meeting people of any age. So he ran around looking for friends and we read and watched. We’ve come to recognize that Lynchburg is not so very unlike other cities except that it has a very high percentage of friendly and pleasant people. And those nice people seem to congregate in the types of places that our family likes to frequent— parks, historic areas, the market, the train station, etc.

Mean-spirited and unfriendly folks can be found here too. They just don’t seem to hang out in the places where our family enjoys hanging out. We have run across a few of them from time to time in book stores or restaurants, but for the most part they seem to have different hangouts than we do.

The Rivermont Park is one of the places where the friendly sort hang out. And we have thoroughly enjoyed this part of Lynchburg. We’ve met many people at this park who have given us their personal local histories. One woman who has lived here for more than 50 years told us about how she and her brothers used to walk way out on the railroad bridge over the James River—hoping to reach the other side before a train came. If a train had come, they would have been out of luck since the bridge is at least a few hundred feet above the river. It would not be like diving from a high diving board.

This past Saturday we saw evidence that there was a wedding party there at the park. Well dressed, happy, celebrating people kept coming through. We eventually spotted a very well-dressed and attractive family (father with three children). His young son was dressed very sharply in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie—complete with a stark white carnation pinned on his chest. The boy’s two sisters were dressed in white dresses with black ribbons in the back. They were adorable. We talked to the father and took a few pictures of the kids.

We’re really going to miss this aspect of Lynchburg’s character. We hope that as Lynchburg grows the city will be able to maintain this spirit.

The 2nd American Revolution

A word from Thomas Paine:

July 11, 2009

Blog Header - July 12, 2009


oday’s header photo shows the ruined walls of the house designed and built by President Thomas Jefferson for Governor James Barbour (Virginia’s 19th governor from 1814–1825). President Jefferson’s creative octagonal design seen at his Monticello and Poplar Forest homes is evident in the ruins of Governor Barbour’s house as well. This home was much more like Jefferson’s Poplar Forest home with an octagonal two-level central area and two small wings extended out to each side of the octagonal central area.

This home burned to the ground on Christmas Eve just a few years after Gov. Barbour’s family had taken up residence in it. The property fell into disuse and brambles, trees, and weeds grew up and took over the property until the late 1970s when an Italian wine maker purchased the property and set up the phenomenal Barboursville Vineyards and Winery [Wikipedia site].

This Old World-style vineyard produces some of the best wines the United States has to offer. Their top wine, named "Octagon" after Thomas Jefferson’s favorite architectural shape, was proclaimed the "best wine in the world" by the wine expert at Richmond, Virginia’s Jefferson Hotel.

Additional posts about Barboursville Vineyards and Winery:

July 10, 2009

Perpetuum Jazzile - So Danco Samba

Hope N Change Cartoons


received this cartoon in an email yesterday and just burst out laughing—even though it was a rather rough day. I guess I needed the comic relief. I’ve always enjoyed cartoon satire.

July 09, 2009

The Value of God-Confidence


ometimes it’s hard to distinguish the truth when we observe ourselves. Outside voices tell us one thing, while our inner man tells us another. Are we really the person everyone thinks we are? But it isn’t so much what others think of us, or even what we ourselves think. It is what God thinks of us that truly matters.

So what does God think of us?? First of all, He created us in His image. Right from the very start, we have value as His creation. When we were lost in our sin, and horribly ugly to a Holy God, He valued us so much that He sent His Son to be the peace offering for our sin. Then, He accepted that sacrifice on our behalf. Once we have accepted His free gift of salvation, He declares us not guilty, then makes us His sons and co-heirs with Christ.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

But wait. What will happen when we blow it—when we fail? We still dwell in the flesh, and it cries out for satisfaction. Sometimes we cave and give in to the fleshly desires that war with our new spirit. What then? What happens when we show our true colors? Should we stand tall and build up our self-confidence? Should we remind ourselves that we can do it? Yet, if we look within ourselves, we will find the horrid truth. We are utterly worthless and faithless. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” And Romans 3:12 says, “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is not who does good, there is not even one.” If these things are true, what good is self-confidence in our time of failure? Self-confidence says, “I can” and “I will.” But the scriptures tell us that we can’t and we won’t. It is at the time of our greatest failures when we must have God-confidence.

Romans 3:12
All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is not who does good, there is not even one.

Peter was bursting with self-confidence, and there are many examples of that in the gospels. It was on display the night when Jesus told the disciples of His impending arrest and death—Peter vowed never to leave Jesus, even if it meant he had to die with Christ. Peter truly had confidence that he could and would fulfill this vow. But as Jesus predicted, he failed miserably, denying that He even knew Christ—not once but three times. After the death of Jesus, in utter despair, Peter returned to fishing. It was while He was fishing that the resurrected Savior spoke to Peter. Not once, but three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said yes, You know I love you. But Jesus didn’t leave it at that. This wasn’t a scolding, this was encouragement. He said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” You see, Jesus was telling Peter that even though he had utterly failed Jesus, Jesus wasn’t through with him. He had more to do in and through Peter than he could ever imagine. Peter found out how faithless and useless he was. But Jesus was telling him how faithful and useful he was going to be, in Christ. This was where the God-confidence took over.

Peter now realized that God had a plan for him—a foreordained plan of good works that Peter would do. And, as Peter trusted in God’s plan and God’s enabling, he was able to achieve amazing things for God. It was this God-confidence that caused a fisherman to preach incredible sermons, to work miracles, to lead the new Jerusalem church. Was the denial Peter’s final failure? No, the book of Acts and other epistles rehearse more embarrassing moments for Peter. BUT GOD continued to work in and through Peter to establish the church.

This is what the scriptures say about God-confidence:

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me strength.
—Philippians 4:12-13

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
—Ephesians 2:4-10

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
—1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Our identity and our value are wrapped up not only in what Christ has done for us, but also what He is yet doing with us. He is lovingly transforming us into the image of Christ.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
—1 Timothy 1:15-16

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
—Romans 8:29

You see, beyond our standing as forgiven sons of God, we are also His workmanship. He not only sees who we are, but who we are becoming in Christ. He has fore-ordained good works for us to do, and gives us the power and the desire to do them. Our identity and our value are wrapped up not only in what Christ has done for us, but also what He is yet doing with us. He is lovingly transforming us into the image of Christ.

So when we begin to wonder if we’re really that spectacular person others see, or if we are really as awful as our old man would have us believe, let us look through the lens of the Spirit to see not who we are, but who we are becoming. And let’s begin to look at others that way as well. Let us not look at where they are in their walk with Christ, but where they are headed. Let us be the ones to cheer them on in their walk of faith, encouraging them to endure as God transforms them into the image of Christ.

Here’s the song, "The Voice of Truth" from Casting Crowns:

Another great song:

July 08, 2009

The Circle of Life


was working in my office today when I heard my wife calling, “Rich, come here quick!” As a dutiful husband, I responded immediately. And I’m glad I did.

Kim pointed out the back window of our kitchen at two tiny little baby deer that were eating and frolicking in our back yard. Well, one was relieving himself while the other frolicked, but I was trying to be more genteel.

I grabbed my camera and quietly snuck out the back door. I managed to get within about 15 feet of one of the babies when she looked around the edge of the tree, spotted me and took off.

I saw the babies’ mother in our side yard. The two babies stopped at a tree partway to their mother and turned to look back at me. I raised the camera and snapped a picture. The sound of the shutter sent them running to Momma.

Of course, Momma deer perked up and looked around to see why her babies were galloping across the grass. She spotted me and stood watching me while the babies jumped through the tall grass around her. I took a couple more pictures and then very quietly and gently said, “It’s okay.” (Picture in your mind the saber-toothed tiger in Ice Age saying, “Where’s the baby? There he is!!”) The family immediately ran for cover.

I love watching the wild animals. They’re just so beautiful! Even if they are scared to death of the big mean man with the Canon camera.

Archeology at Poplar Forest


was playing around with a few of the photos of the ongoing archeological dig at Poplar Forest and ended up with this. I thought you might like to see it. This is really a wonderful group of people who are hard at work saving and restoring our history so we—and our children—may enjoy and learn from our past.

It’s the ultimate win/win situation.

Click the picture to access the full high resolution version.

July 07, 2009

Thomas Jefferson speaks


resident Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), an author, architect, educator, botanist, scientist, inventor, and much more, was the third president of the United States. He was the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

From 1779 to 1781, Thomas Jefferson served as the Governor of Virginia. In his final year as governor, Jefferson wrote his Notes on the State of Virginia. In Query XVIII of those notes he wrote the following statement, which is now engraved on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

Blog Header - July 7, 2009


oday’s header photo just feels summery to me. I actually took this photo at Poplar Forest this past Saturday, but it doesn't give any indication of the place or of the event. It just seems like summer, so I thought I'd post it since we have recently passed the summer equinox.

Happy summer!

July 06, 2009

Visiting Thomas Jefferson


his past weekend we continued a family tradition—we spent July 4th at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest home. This was only our second year doing this, but it has become a favorite family outing.

A Revolutionary War officer

Our first visit to Poplar Forest was last year on July 4th—one year ago. We had seen the local signs about “Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest,” but did not fully comprehend what that meant. I don’t remember ever being taught about this portion of President Jefferson’s life, and it is a fascinating segment. Frankly, when I saw the signs for Poplar Forest I thought it was just a big forest of poplar trees that Thomas Jefferson had planted or protected. That image is not remotely close to the reality.

Poplar Forest was Jefferson’s retreat while he was being targeted by British forces. Martha Jefferson inherited the property and when they used it to get out of the fire-line, Thomas Jefferson recognized the beauty of the property and began his plan to build a retirement home there.

The sword swallowers   [ Web site ]

While he was living in the famous Monticello, Jefferson sent detailed architectural and landscaping plans to Poplar Forest. The residence had been built by the time Jefferson left public life and he spent the final years of his life living primarily in this home.

Kim taking advantage of the shade

The majority of Jefferson’s archived writings were written here on this property. He was able to commit himself to thought and writing when he was here—away from the many well-meaning, but ever-present visitors.

On July 4th each year, Poplar Forest hosts a wonderful event celebrating our nation’s independence, which was spurred along by one of our nation’s most inspiring documents—the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.

The event on the Poplar Forest property includes entertainment and education, all served up in period style. We signed up for the continental army and David was given a musket to carry while being trained for the Revolution. We heard a story teller who was chock-full of great tales from early America. We saw demonstrations of basket weaving, flax preparation, blacksmithing, lace making, pottery making, beading, and much more. We even saw a male and female sword swallowing team that also swallowed fire.

All of this was done by highly informative and friendly costumed players.

As an eclectic aside, we found another unusual educational tidbit during our visit—an active archeological dig site on the grounds. This is the ongoing archeological excavation of the grounds surrounding Poplar Forest. We got to meet the archeologists themselves and found them to be an impressive group of people. They ranged in age from a recent high school graduate to a retired man in his late 60s who moved from Ohio to Virginia to take part in this archeological effort.

One of the archeologists at work

The folks at this dig site were approachable and willing to answer questions, explain what they were doing, and brag about the things they have already discovered. David was so excited by seeing the care and respect these folks were showing as they carefully brushed away small amounts of dirt to reveal what appears to be a cobblestone path or foundation about a foot and a half below the surface.

One of the archeologists explained to us that this area seems to have been the site of a metal working shop and possibly stables. He explained that they are using Jefferson’s detailed notes about the grounds to guide their dig sites and then merging those notes with what they find to determine what these grounds have looked like over the couple hundred years since Jefferson built this property.

Period costumed flute player and his daughter

But the most inspiring part of the day was the reading of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. This document has been referred to as “the American scriptures,” and it does seem to hold that degree of reverence. But the amazing thing to me is how applicable this document is to our situation today. Our founding fathers fully recognized the danger a government can pose to its own people and they worked hard to protect the citizens and to give them “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Thomas Jefferson was greatly concerned about over taxation and the strength of the American dollar. And the founding fathers set a course for our nation that has made us strong, promoted individual achievement, and created a strong financial system. But our government has strayed long and far from those founding principles and we are now engaging in things that are potentially disastrous to our financial standing and our personal freedom.

It was truly inspiring to stand with 400 or so other quietly respectful people gathered below the house and hear Thomas Jefferson’s words read aloud. If you live anywhere near Central Virginia, you should put this on your calendar for next year’s Independence Day. It will be a day well spent.

Presentation of the colors - by the Lynchburg Boy Scouts

Learn more from the Poplar Forest web site.

Read the Declaration of Independence. If you use the Scribd embedded document below, you may want to click on the Full Screen Toggle on the top-right of the window. It will make it a little easier to read. When you’re done, click the toggle again to return to this screen.

July 04, 2009

Independence Day at Poplar Forest

We spent July 4th at the delightful retreat and retirement home of Thomas Jefferson. Poplar Forest is a miniature Monticello in its basic layout. But although the house is miniaturized, the sense of Jefferson’s presence seems to be magnified here. As one of their staff members put it—Poplar Forest seems more “intimate.” I think that word describes it perfectly.

The header photo is of the drive leading to Poplar Forest. I will try to post some photos from this year’s Independence Day celebration tomorrow or Monday. As usual, we had a wonderful time visiting this historic home of our third president.

Here’s my Facebook photo album from the day.

An Independence Day tribute to our leader

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Palin resigns

I’m not sure what’s up, but Sarah Palin has stepped down from her role as Governor of Alaska. On this Independence Day, I hope that Palin plans to bring independence back to our nation by running for president in 2012. Our nation needs a reprieve from its dalliance with Socialism.

Whatever your plans are, Sarah, I hope I get another chance to vote for you.

Sarah Palin

Happy Birthday, America!!!!

God Bless America

Amazing Grace/God Bless America