January 30, 2010

Southern Gospel - Gaither Vocal Band Reunion


have always loved southern gospel quartets. When I was in high school Bill Gaither launched a new southern gospel quartet called “The Gaither Vocal Band.” They were fantastic and I couldn’t get enough of their music. Bill Gaither has an amazing ability to find very good musicians and he has outdone himself for years with the Gaither Vocal Band. Outstanding singers involved in this group have included Gary McSpadden, Steve Green, Lee Young, Larnelle Harris, Jim Murray, Jon Mohr, Michael English, Buddy Mullins, Mark Lowry, David Phelps, Russ Taff, Guy Penrod, Marshall Hall and Wes Hampton.

Over the years, I have sung in quite a few men’s quartets and have sung many of the Gaither Vocal Band arrangements. No matter the make up of the audience, everyone seems to enjoy this type of music and the Gaither Vocal Band arrangements are always among the favorites of the audiences and congregations I have sung for.

While visiting my friends’ blogs today, I visited Extra Thoughts, one of the blogs written by my college friend, Lydia McGrew. She had posted a couple of videos of a reunion of the great singers that have been part of the Gaither Vocal Band over the years. All the singers mentioned above are in this reunion DVD [available from Christianbook.com | Amazon.com]. And they are wonderful. Here are a few of my favorites.


Blog Header - February 1, 2010

This was the view out our bedroom window yesterday morning. God has blessed us with such an amazingly wonderful home. We really love it here. And we love seeing God’s handiwork in action every morning as the sun rises over the mountains.

Is it getting hot in here?

I am so glad the world’s leaders and the scientists met at Copenhagen to discuss the terrible impact of man-caused global warming. Had they not done so, I would likely be quite confused by the fact that this is the coldest winter I ever remember and here in Virginia where we seldom get snow we are currently getting slammed with the fourth major snowstorm of the season.

What would we do without climatologists, scientists, politicians, and other pontificating windbags who have less of a clue about reality than us untrained people?

The view from our bedroom window at 7:30 am today
Our house at 9:00 am
David riding his bike in the snow - 9:00am
David heading into the frozen white wasteland
Our house at 9:30am
Our house at 4:30 pm
The sidewalk has been shoveled three times so far
Another view from 4:30 pm
The view from our bedroom window at 7:15 am, Jan. 31, 2010


Is Michael Moore for Real?? You Decide

Michael Moore’s newest film Capitalism: A Love Story is under fire for hypocrisy. Here's a great article at Mackinac Center with the details.


January 29, 2010

It's Friday!! - Tim Hawkins


Faith vs. Feelings


any years ago in college, I wrote a song that continues to bubble up when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances in my life. Sometimes it's hard to look past my feelings and perceptions and anchor my faith in the facts found in God's Word. This song is about that struggle.

Most of the thoughts in this song were inspired by the words of Job&#W0151;but the resolve portion of the song comes from the psalmist, David (Job 23 and Psalm 119 are two key passages from which I’ve pulled the concepts). The melody is haunting in a minor key, but the “resolve” is in a major, hopeful key. Someday I’ll get it recorded and share it again. Meanwhile, here are the lyrics.

Oh Lord, where are you hiding?
My eyes can’t see your face.
I know that you’re beside me,
Sustaining with your grace.

And I know that you are working
To soften my heart
My affliction shall teach me your word.

My soul, it feels so lonely;
My heart, about to break.
My eyes are tired of weeping.
Much more I cannot take.

But I know that you are working
To soften my heart
My affliction shall teach me your word.


Oh soul, cease your weeping; put away your tears.
For who is a rock save the Lord?
His purpose is to try you, to purge you like gold,
To teach you the ways of his word.

Oh Lord, where are you hiding?
My eyes can’t see your face.
I know that you’re beside me,
Sustaining with your grace.

And I know that you are working
To soften my heart
My affliction shall teach me your word.


January 28, 2010

Rocks and ice along Skyline Drive

I took this header photo in early January 2010, just a couple of weeks ago. I have been experimenting with HDR photography and thought Skyline Drive would be a good place to take some pictures to help me learn the HDR technique and process. I took this photo about 10 miles from the Front Royal entrance to Skyline Drive, so it is about 12 miles from our house.

After about a month of very cold weather, the temperature had finally risen to above freezing and the snow at the top of the mountains was melting. Some of the water from the melting snow is seeping through the rocks and then freezing as it drips down the rock face. Even though this is a common sight during the winter, I have always loved the way this looks. It’s a fascinating scene with the ice seeming to form out of solid rock.

After creating the HDR composite from seven different exposures I converted this one to black & white and really loved the result. The deep blacks and bright whites in this black & white photo remind me of the beautiful pictures Ansel Adams was known for. Although Ansel Adam’s photos are far superior to this one, I was excited to finally produce a photo with the depth of tonal range I have been trying to achieve in black & white photography for years. Now I need to try again with some more attractive scenes.

Weakness running to strength


dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God.”

—A. C. Dixon


January 26, 2010

Hope and Change



ave you noticed how turbulent the storms of life can be?  Okay—that was rhetorical. Of course you have. Life can seem like a never-ending transition from one hurricane to the next, with a tornado or flood thrown in every now and then to keep things interesting.

Life’s continual changes present us with a very difficult terrain to navigate. We don’t know where to turn; we don’t know when we’ll step into a tar-pit; we don’t know when a wild beast will come roaring out of the woods. These changes are not pleasant and they have the potential to produce great fear of the unknown.


But we need not fear those changes because we have an eternal hope.

Isaiah 26:3–4 says:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

The current economic situation and surrounding issues involving employment, housing, insurance, etc., have produced loads of storms in my life recently. And I have felt fear lurking at the door.

But I am encouraged with the promise that I will be kept “in perfect peace” if I anchor my hope in the Lord, not on the winds of promised change. The Lord is a rock in the storm. And not just a rock—an everlasting rock. And this rock will provide a sure footing that I can count on even through the storms’ turbulence.


January 24, 2010

Blog Header - January 24, 2010

I’ve wanted to take some pictures of this great water tower ever since we moved to Front Royal last August. It just seems to have a lot of character.

The brick castle-looking building is just a bonus, I guess.

Personal evangelism - AKA Public School

A blast from the past! I loved this Audio Adrenaline song when it came out many years ago. We were the youth leaders in our church at the time and this song motivated our kids to have a strong witness in their schools. I ran across this video on Youtube and thought I should share it.

And a bonus video:


Resting in God’s providence


ou’d think I’d learn at some point. But it seems that I continually look to things that don’t satisfy in an attempt to find comfort. I look to myriad idols. Idols like my job, my son’s behavior, my family, our house, even my camera. I sometimes wonder if I might actually be endangering those things by my obsession with them. What if God decides to take my idols away in order to show me that they are not a trustworthy source of comfort.

Perhaps the best thing would be to simply rest in God and trust in his providential care.

Above all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in the Lord, O my soul, for he himself is the eternal rest of the saints. Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus, to rest in Thee above every creature, above all health and beauty, above all glory and honour, above all power and dignity, above all knowledge and skilfulness, above all riches and arts, above all joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, above all sweetness and consolation, above all hope and promise, above all merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards which Thou canst give and pour forth, above all joy and jubilation which the mind is able to receive and feel; in a word, above Angels and Archangels and all the army of heaven, above all things visible and invisible, and above everything which Thou, O my God, art not.

For Thou, O Lord, my God, art best above all things; Thou only art the Most High, Thou only the Almighty, Thou only the All-sufficient, and the Fulness of all things; Thou only the All-delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alone the altogether lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted and Most Glorious above all things; in Whom all things are, and were, and ever shall be, altogether and all-perfect. And thus it falleth short and is insufficient whatsoever Thou givest to me without Thyself or whatsoever Thou revealest or dost promise concerning Thyself, whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed: since verily my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content, except it rest in Thee, and go beyond all gifts and every creature.

O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy lover of my soul, Ruler of this whole Creation, who shall give me the wings of true liberty, that I may flee to Thee and find rest? Oh when shall it be given me to be open to receive Thee to the full, and to see how sweet Thou art, O Lord my God? When shall I collect myself altogether in Thee, that because of Thy love I may not feel myself at all, but may know Thee only above every sense and measure, in measure not known to others. But now I ofttimes groan, and bear my sad estate with sorrow; because many evils befall me in this vale of miseries which continually disturb and fill me with sorrow, and encloud me, continually hinder and fill me with care, allure and entangle me, that I cannot have free access to Thee, nor enjoy that sweet intercourse which is always near at hand to the blessed spirits. Let my deep sighing come before Thee, and my manifold desolation on the earth.

O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wandering soul, before Thee my mouth is without speech, and my silence speaketh to Thee. How long will my Lord delay to come unto me? Let Him come unto me, His poor and humble one, and make me glad. Let Him put forth His hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare. Come, Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hour, for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my table empty. I am miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded with fetters, until Thou refresh me by the light of Thy presence, and give me liberty, and show Thy loving countenance.

Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, whatsoever it shall please them; but for my part nothing else pleaseth or shall please, save Thou, my God, my hope, my eternal salvation. I will not hold my peace, nor cease to implore, until Thy grace return, and until Thou speak to me within.

"Behold, here I am! Behold, I come to thee, for thou didst call Me. Thy tears and the longing of thy soul, thy humbleness and contrition of heart have inclined Me, and brought Me to thee."

And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have longed to enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For Thou didst first move me to seek Thee. Therefore, blessed be Thou, O Lord, who has wrought this good work upon Thy servant, according to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then hath Thy servant to say in Thy presence, save to humble himself greatly before Thee, being alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness. For there is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and earth. Excellent are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and by Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praise and glory be unto Thee, O Wisdom of the Father, let my mouth and my soul and all created things praise and bless Thee together.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ


January 22, 2010

10 Commandment Boogie - Go Fish


No man is an island

I love mankind...but I marvel at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love human beings in particular, separately, as individual persons. In my dreams...I would often arrive at fervent plans of devotion to mankind and might very possibly have gone to the Cross for human beings, had that been suddenly required of me, and yet I am unable to spend two days in the same room with someone else...No sooner is that someone else close to me than his personality...hampers my freedom. In the space of a day and a night I am capable of coming to hate even the best of human beings: one because he takes too long over dinner, another because he has a cold and is perpetually blowing his nose...To compensate for this, however, it has always happened that the more I have hated human beings in particular, the more ardent has become my love for mankind in general.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
(from bk 2, ch 4)


January 21, 2010

Equal and opposite reaction - Part 2


have noticed a repeated pattern of ebb & flow in American politics since my teenage years. Going back to the days of Jimmy Carter, when I was in my mid-teens, I began to pay attention to how politics impacted our daily lives. Under President Carter, we had gasoline rationing and a restriction on which days of the month each person could purchase gas. And we had gas station armed holdups in which the gun-wielding perp demanded that he be allowed to buy gas on a day that was not his scheduled day.

Democratic “freedom” is a sight to behold.

At about 16 years old, gas was the primary dynamic I noticed resulting from the election of a Democratic president. But, as the “Misery Index”indicated, there were many other horrible effects of the Carter presidency.

This quote from Ann Coulter describes what I have noticed since my teen years:

For the past four decades, American politics has consisted of Republicans controlling Washington for eight to 14 years—either from the White House or Capitol Hill—thus allowing Americans to forget what it was they didn’t like about Democrats, whom they then carelessly vote back in. The Democrats immediately remind Americans what they didn’t like about Democrats, and their power is revoked at the voters’ first possible opportunity.

I remember trying to explain this regular swing in political climate to a young man who worked for me when he expressed a desire to vote for Bill Clinton. I had underestimated the benefit of an opposing house of Congress keeping the Clintons in check, which allowed Bill Clinton to hold onto the presidency for two terms.

But the three-steps-forward (with Republicans) 51-steps-back (with a single-term Democrat) cycle has come up again. Ann goes on to say:

Four years of Jimmy Carter gave us two titanic Reagan landslides, peace and prosperity for eight blessed years—and even a third term for his feckless vice president, George H.W. Bush.

Two years of Bill Clinton gave us a historic Republican sweep of Congress, which killed the entire Clinton agenda (with the exception of partial-birth abortion and felony obstruction of justice)—and also gave us two terms for George W. Bush.

And now, merely one year of Obama and a Democratic Congress has given us the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in 31 years.

Although we Christians should not look to our political system as our savior, we should also not ignore the regular, repeating patterns that emerge from the political realm. Our hope is in the Lord. But our brains should be engaged enough to recognize and remember that we need to vote for those who would lead the country into freedom and prosperity, not the opposite direction.

Read Ann Coulter’s full article here - Ann Coulter: That Old Obama Magic Is Back.


January 20, 2010

An equal and opposite reaction

The people of Massachusetts have sent a strong message to the bull-headed Democrats in Congress. The senatorial seat held for two generations by Edward Kennedy has been turned over to a Republican who had trailed the opposing Democrat by up to 30 polling points in recent weeks. The apparent turn-around favoring the the Republican Scott Brown came when the White House bribed members of Congress to vote for the health care bill despite their reservations. Corrupt governing means less time in office.

And back for an encore presentation, here are Ray Stevens’ thoughts on the subject (along with the rest of us):

Do you think the Democrats got the message? Don’t count on it.


January 17, 2010

HDR photography

I have recently become interested in a photographic technique known as High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. The intention is to allow the full range of dark to bright tones to be captured by the digital sensor (most digital sensors are limited to a very small brightness range) and printed on paper (which has even less tonal range).

So as not to bore you with the details, I won’t describe the science, technique, or process here, but the photo used for this blog header and the photos below are the result of an HDR process. The header photo originated as five different photographs of the same scene, each one set to a different exposure to capture a different portion of the full tonal range. Each of the pictures below is compiled from at least three photos of differing exposures.

As I learn HDR photography and improve my understanding and technique I will post more of these pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

More HDR pics

I drove over the bridge between Rt. 66 and Front Royal, Virginia, just as the sun was beginning to set over the mountains. I noticed the beautiful sky and parked at the end of the bridge. I pulled out my camera and tripod and walked to the middle of the bridge to get this picture of the Shenandoah River. I love the mountains in the distance with the sun just barely visible over the crest.

Shenandoah River taken from the bridge heading into Front Royal

Ever since we moved to Front Royal, we have wanted to get some pictures of the old Front Royal water tower. So about a week ago my son and I drove to the water tower to take some pictures. When we got there we noticed this unique building with a circular turret-type corner. It was about 18 degrees outside and holding the tripod was incredibly painful, but I love the resultant picture.

We found out just yesterday that the unique brick building was built in 1913 to house a silk manufacturing plant. The plant produced silk for quite a few generations before it was sold to another commercial enterprise.

Front Royal silk factory established in 1913 – and old Front Royal water tower

The de facto logo or symbol of Front Royal is a gazebo built 30 years ago by the man who is now our mayor. This central area of Front Royal is a wonderful focal point for the town’s activities and we have enjoyed the many photographic opportunities there.

The Front Royal Christmas tree can be seen inside the gazebo on the left side of this picture. I noticed the sun setting over the top of the bank in the distance and wanted to get a picture of it. The HDR technique allowed me to include the wooden slats on the underside of the gazebo roof in the same picture as the bright sun setting over top the bank. And the front of the bank is clearly visible with good detail as well.

Front Royal Christmas tree and gazebo

After taking the photograph of the Shenandoah River (above), I continued taking pictures around Front Royal for another hour or so. It was quite dark by the time I made my way back home. As I turned up the street behind our house, I noticed our house in the distance. The longest exposure used for this photo was more than a minute long. The long exposures resulted in a much brighter sky than I noticed at the time. In fact, the brightness of the sky may have been impacted by the fact that Jalisco restaurant is just down the hill in front of our house and the light from the restaurant signs may have cast a glow on the sky during those long exposures.

Our house after dusk

This last photo (of my office in DC) required 11 different exposures to capture the full tonal range. You can see evidence of the multiple exposures in the traffic lights, which show the red light and the green light as glowing simultaneously. My office is the building across the street on the right side of this photo. This building backs onto the Potomac River and is directly across from Washington, DC, specifically across from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

If you count from the first set of windows towards the bottom of the building up to the fourth row of windows (where you can see a bank of lit windows), my desk is visible behind the second window from the corner of the office building. This is actually the eighth floor, but the lower four floors don’s have windows because they are not office space but rather cafeterias and facilities offices.

My office building in Washington, DC


January 15, 2010

A capella sound - Go Fish


Blog Header - January 15, 2010

I went down to the Shenandoah River next to our house to take a few pictures as the sun set. Although the overall scene wasn’t great in the above picture, I loved the way the sun glinted off the water with a golden glow set against the foreground snow with its blueish late evening hue. I took this picture quickly because I knew that taking the time to find a better scenic view would result in the sun falling below the horizon.

I added the blog name to the snow with Photoshop, but the rest of the picture is the way it looked. God's immensely diverse creativity is continually astounding.


This must be investigated!


hat would we do without official inquiries? We’d never know a thing! It seems that the obvious can no longer simply be accepted. Sans an official investigation, it seems we can’t figure anything out—even when the facts seem quite obvious.

Let’s imagine a bizarre situation with extreme and obvious facts that should give us an indication of why the tragedy occurred.


Twenty overweight people gather in one room. They group together in a small area of the room. A rumbling sound comes from the floor and then the floor begins to separate from the walls. Part of the floor collapses. The hefty survivors later tell people that they at first thought it was an earthquake when the floor under them collapsed.

What would be the obvious conclusion as to why the floor collapsed? Could it possibly be that the 20 overweight people were too heavy for the floor to support their weight? Yeah, it seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?

Apparently not in Sweden where this bizarre situation actually happened to a group of Weight Watcher participants who were gathered for their weekly “weigh-in.” According to London’s daily Telegraph:

The cause of the floor's collapse remains under investigation.

Here’s the story: Weight Watchers clinic floor collapses under dieters I think the folks may want to consider going on a diet. Oh, oops, they already were.


January 13, 2010

Pants on the ground


hen our son adopted the ill-advised fashion of wearing his pants so low that the majority of his underwear shows above the missing belt, we told him that if he kept wearing his pants that way we would send him to school wearing a dress. He hasn’t pursued that fashion statement quite so fervently since then.

Perhaps we should reinforce the whole concept by showing him this performance from 62-year-old Larry Platt. This video is Larry Platt’s American Idol audition, which aired about 15 minutes ago. This is really great!


Flapping lips = abundant sin

Proverbs 10:19

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.


t’s easy to talk too much—especially if we think we know a lot about the topic at hand. I know I am often guilty of this and my son has followed in my footsteps. My wife says it’s the “Mommy Curse.” You know—the curse our mother’s give us when they say something like, “when you grow up I hope you have a child that acts just like you.’ I think my mom’s curse worked.

But as Solomon advised in Proverbs 10:19, it would be prudent to watch our words because when we talk to much, we’re likely to get ourselves in trouble.

Apparently this problem is not unique to me and my progeny. Listen to Pat Robertson talk a little too much. Okay—maybe he’s talking way too much in that video.


The right to pursue happiness


ecently, the topic of our “inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has come up in conversation. Do we really have the right to pursue happiness?

I tend to agree with John Piper’s view that happiness is something we were created to seek. God created us with the desire for personal fulfillment. But the only way we are able to find true happiness is when we seek that happiness is Jesus Christ and in God’s purpose in the world.

Others, who may not disagree with Piper’s position but who would state it differently, object to the concept of an inalienable right to pursue happiness.

This topic is addressed by R.C. Sproul and I thought it might be of interest, so here is his answer to the question:

Even though the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right in the U.S. Constitution, do we as created beings have this inalienable right? Many people are frustrated because they expect happiness in life. But should that be a rightful expectation, especially for the Christian?

First we have to distinguish between the U.S. Constitution as a legal document that circumscribes the way in which people are to be treated under the law of the state and the principles operating in the kingdom of God that are set forth in God’s law.

When the Constitution guarantees the inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness, it is meant to protect a free society from other people’s attempts to destroy or to hinder that pursuit. Even the Constitution recognizes limits to this inalienable right. For example, it recognizes that if the thing that makes me happy is murdering other people, I don’t have an inalienable constitutional right to pursue happiness in that manner. What we're saying here is that the law is set up to allow people to pursue those things that bring happiness to them. Of course, the Constitution doesn't guarantee the acquisition of happiness, only the right to pursue it, and that right to pursue happiness is subject to some limitations.

Does God give us this inalienable right? When we consider that a right gives us a legal claim, we have to say that, no, God does not grant us rights in the way a country’s constitution does. The Bible nowhere gives any sinful human being (meaning any human being) an absolute guarantee or right of happiness. The Bible does hold out all kinds of promises concerning the attainment of happiness, but happiness is ultimately a gift from God, a manifestation of God's grace. If God were to deal with us in terms of rights, it would mean that he treated us strictly according to justice. The only way we would have an inalienable right would be to say that we are so virtuous and meritorious that if God is just, he must bestow happiness upon us. That’s the very opposite of what Scripture teaches regarding our condition before God. We are guilty people before our Maker, and therefore our Maker owes us no happiness whatsoever.

In spite of the fact that God doesn’t owe us happiness, he pours out joy and peace and happiness and blessedness in abundance to his people. I think it’s perfectly legitimate for a Christian to pursue joy and contentment and the fulfillment of our humanity in everything that God has made us to be, which is found in our reconciliation with God. When we are reconciled to God and living according to his will and principles, happiness is often a by-product and, even at that, a result of God’s grace and gifts. It is certainly not a demand that we make upon him.

Now That’s a Good Question, R.C. Sproul


January 12, 2010

January 11, 2010

Partisan politics versus grass-roots leadership


ibertarian Party. Taxpayer’s Party. Green Party. Reform Party. Southern Party. Third party politics looks ever more increasingly like a good option. I have been bothered by the politics of the Republican Party and the Democrat Party for quite some time. I even voted third party (U.S. Taxpayer’s Party) against George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton when the senior Bush ran for a second term. The election of Bill Clinton persuaded me to to reenter the major party political scene again. But when the Republicans took over the whole shebang and squandered their opportunity by acting just like the Democrats, to whom everything was returned by the electorate, I was reminded again of why I once voted third party.

Journalist Paul Jacobs addressed this issue in the recent article, Not another party. In the article he rightly observes:

The naked truth of modern politics is that our elections are meaningless affairs in which two blow-dried phonies with the same agenda lie to us shamelessly ... when not charging each other with greater degrees of hypocrisy, deception, and kleptomania.

I don’t know the answer to the current problems the United States is having with its leaders, but I do support the grass-roots efforts of the TEA parties, the Town Hall protestors, and others. Well, perhaps I do know the answer to the problems. We Christians need to stop being hopelessly (and helplessly) tied to one political party or the other and need to get back to the work at hand—spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and his redeeming death on the cross. The heart of man is wicked, whether Republican or Democrat, and he can be expected to pull the same sort of shenanigans as any other man until his heart and mind are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

May the Church in America get back to business—not by dropping out of the political process, but by looking not to the political parties as our savior but to the one Savior, Jesus Christ.


Discerning God’s will

Proverbs 3:1–2

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

We often hear folks talking about seeking God’s will. Articles, books, conferences, sermon series—many things have been offered to address the fact that we just don’t know enough of the future to make us comfortable. We seem to want a road map that extends way off into the future.

I know that I often worry about what’s coming. And it feels as though a solid knowledge of what’s going to happen in the upcoming years would ease all of the worries and fears. But that does not seem to be the way God works.

So then, what is the “will of God”?

I have been reminded of Proverbs 3 many times in my life. I suppose it is because I have to keep relearning the same lesson over and over again—that God’s will is clearly written in scripture and that I need only to do what’s right and allow God to lead one step at a time. God promises his providential care, so I don’t truly need that roadmap stretching way into the future. I need only to step out in faith and do what God has told me to do in scripture. And if I do this, my concerns should be relieved about many of the regular cares of life.

Vocational and spiritual success

Proverbs 3:3–5

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

I worry incessantly about my job. I spend a lot of time analyzing the internal corporate politics and tend to get concerned with every new suspected wind of change.

But in Proverbs 3 I am clearly told that I will find favor and good success in the sight of both God and man if I maintain “steadfast love and faithfulness.” This doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. I would expect advice regarding work ethic, honesty, and commitment, and these things are all to be found elsewhere in scripture. But in this immediate passage I am told that if I do not forsake love and faithfulness I will find favor.

Day-to-day decision

Proverbs 3:5–6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

This directly addresses that roadmap I so desperately want—the one that will tell me exactly what I am supposed to do each step of the way for the next decade or more. There are so many twists and turns in life and those twists and turns can be tremendously scary.

But Proverbs 3 tells me that I should not try to figure everything out and then act on my superior knowledge of the ensuing events. I should not spend inordinate amounts of time learning the ins and outs of the business world, the social world, and local church in order to carefully navigate each new seemingly dangerous fork in the road. I am told to “trust in the Lord” and to “acknowledge him in all my ways.” If I do this, I am told that he will direct [my] paths.


Proverbs 3:7–8

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Another regular concern of mine regards my personal health and the health of my family. I’m not one of those exercise fanatics that works long and hard on keeping my heart and lungs healthy. I’m more of the coach potato that sits and worries about my health while eating a bag of chips. And there are portions of scripture that tell me that I should adjust that lifestyle for health reasons.

But Proverbs 3 gives me a nuance in the whole health concern field, and I believe it is speaking about the problems we cause to ourselves by being stressed about things all the time. Rather than worrying regularly about things, we are told to “fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” And we are told that this will provide “healing to our flesh and refreshment to our bones.”

Personal finances

Proverbs 3:9–10

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

And what do I need to do to make sure that my family is financially secure? Of course the advice should be work hard, invest wisely, be frugal, etc. But that’s not what we are told in Proverbs 3. Here it says that we are to spend some money. We are to “honor the Lord with with our wealth.”

It seems that we are being told here to use our money in ways that promote God’s purposes in the world. I can imagine many applications to this concept, but won’t go into those at this time. The interesting thing I see is that Proverbs is not saying that we should hoard our money or leverage it through careful investment strategies. We are told to use our money to honor the Lord. And if we do so, “our barns will be filled with plenty and our vats bursting with wine.”

This is the lesson I need to be reminded of seemingly every few months. The will of God is clear in scripture. I just need to do it.


January 10, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody - the best performance ever


Mountains, trains, snow - photography

Yesterday I decided to go to the Daily Grind coffee shop in Front Royal for a latte and some quiet book reading. As usual, I had my camera with me. As I headed back home after the coffee, I decided to take a few pictures of the bridge near our house. After the bridge I wandered around town a bit taking pictures as the sun fell behind the mountains. It was truly beautiful.

click for full resolution version

This header photo was taken from the middle of the bridge over the Shenandoah heading into the town of Front Royal, Virginia. The river runs under the middle of the bridge with plains flanking each side. A train track parallels the river along this plain. I loved the imagery of the train tracks heading toward the mountains in the distance.

This is the Shenandoah River. I had to walk about 25 yards to the right on the bridge I was taking the pictures from to get this picture after I took the picture of the train tracks. A couple days ago there were patches of ice on the river’s surface, but that has all melted now.

As I headed back home, I entered our neighborhood from behind our house and noticed our house in the distance. This was well after dusk, but the picture here is a composite of seven different exposures, the longest of which was about 2 minutes long. So the sky, which was actually very dark at the time, has a beautiful glow to it. You can also see the tail lights from our neighbor’s car as he drove down the street during one of the extended-length exposures.

I thank God continually for moving us to this beautiful place.


January 09, 2010

January 07, 2010

You vote Obamacare - We'll vote you outa there

After yesterday’s post about “transparency” and its new anti-definition, this song came up. I thought you might enjoy it as much as I did.


January 06, 2010

Transparency = Opacity


ransparency” has become the codeword for “I’m lying.” I began to notice it first from the mouth of President Obama. Then this bizarro-world definition of the word transparency found its way into proclamation from the pulpits of disingenuous church leaders. And then wormed its way into the world of corporate memos. It’s hard for me to believe that the American public is still allowing the Democratic Senate, House, and Executive to still claim transparency.

In response to Nancy Pelosi’s claim that “There has never been a more open process for any legislation in anyone who’s served here’s experience,” C-SPAN’s CEO Brian Lamb has written to the House and Senate encouraging them to open the Healthcare debate to the public view.

The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of the sessions LIVE and in their entirety

C-SPAN remembers many of the claims of transparency proferred during the presidential campaign a little more than a year ago. And they are now calling the bluff. You may read about it here: C-SPAN Challenges Congress to Open Health Care Talks to TV Coverage, and you may refresh your memory regarding these claims here:

Now—contact your senator and congressmen and demand true transparency. Not the newly defined version of transparency, which apparently means anything but transparency.


To walk humbly with your God...


here is naturally in every man a desire to know, but what profiteth knowledge without the fear of God? Better of a surety is a lowly peasant who serveth God, than a proud philosopher who watcheth the stars and neglecteth the knowledge of himself. He who knoweth himself well is vile in his own sight; neither regardeth he the praises of men. If I knew all the things that are in the world, and were not in charity, what should it help me before God, who is to judge me according to my deeds?

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis

The new year has begun and some of the lessons from the past year must now be put into place and lived out in my life. This is the hard part—putting into practice the things I have already recognized and accepted as lessons from God.

King Julian

It’s nothing personal;
we’re just better than you.

I like to have things my way. I like to be recognized as the man in charge. I like to be able to direct the world from my armchair. But it doesn’t tend to work that way. So this year I am resolved to see myself through God’s eyes—neither as better than others, because of my accomplishments or an inflated ego; nor as less than others due to a negative self-image or their self-proclaimed greatness. We are all made in the image of God and we have all fallen due to sin. We are all in need of a Savior and any benefit I have received from the Savior, Jesus Christ, is due to God’s eternal plan and not my feeble attempts at holiness.

The River’s deep; the River’s wide; the River’s water is alive. So sink or swim, I’m diving in!


January 04, 2010

Kudos to Brit Hume

It’s not often that you hear anything of value from a news anchor, but this might be about the best analysis any news anchor has ever made:


January 02, 2010

Reflection on the year past


have not written much here recently. I could probably blame it on the busy-ness of the season, but that would not be entirely true. I could also plead the fifth against self-incrimination, which would be a bit closer to the truth, but still not telling the full story. The truth is that this is the time of year that I consider the year past and try to figure out what lessons I need to learn and carry forward into the year to come. And this past year has not been a comfortable one.

During this past year there have been earth-shattering negatives and incredible and unexpected positives. And I believe the lesson is clear, although if I am to learn this lesson now, it makes me question how hairy things may get in the near future.

  1. Betrayal by those we considered our best friends
  2. Loss of our housing arrangements
  3. False accusations knowingly spread against us by those who claim the name of Christ
  4. Income cut by 33%, with new responsibilities assigned
  1. Reconnection with friends who have stood the test of time
  2. New home in a new area obviously provided by God
  3. A new church home, a new church family, new church leadership
  4. God providing our needs one step at a time

There are many more negatives that cropped up this past year, and each has its corresponding huge positive that could only have sprung from the hand of a loving God. Our son’s educational needs, health issues, cars breaking down—so many things happened this year and so many of them threatened to overwhelm us. But God has shown his power and providential care in an amazing way this past year.

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

So what lessons should I learn from 2009? How should I step forward into 2010? I believe that the over-arching lesson I needed to learn this past year was that God is in complete and total control. No matter what tsunamis hit. No matter what tar-pits we find scattered along the highway. God is in control and he will take loving care of his children. I need simply to trust each step of the way that God is taking care of business and I need to step out in faith, doing what he calls on me to do without questioning and without despondency or fear. Our God is in control.


January 01, 2010

New Year’s Hopes & Dreams

As we enter a new year, many of us will make resolutions. Others will just hope and dream. For the dreamers in the crowd, I present the classic John Lennon song “Imagine.”