April 30, 2013

Virtual Choir - from TED Talks

usic! I don’t know what it is about music, but it reaches my soul. Life without music is death. Music inspires me. Music feeds me. Music makes me want to live!

And some music blow my mind... some music, such as this:

April 22, 2013

Down fell an angel renegade

rom his Wikipedia bio:
Michael Hedges:

In late 1997, Hedges died at the age of 43 in a car accident along State Route 128 in Mendocino County, near Boonville (about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of San Francisco). According to his manager Hilleary Burgess, he was driving home from San Francisco International Airport after a Thanksgiving visit to a girlfriend in Long Island, New York. His car apparently skidded off a rain-slicked S-curve and down a 120-foot cliff. Hedges was thrown from his car and appeared to have died nearly instantly. His body was found a few days afterward. After his death, his record Oracle won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. Hedges' unfinished last recordings were brought to completion in the album Torched, with the help of his former manager Hilleary Burgess and friends David Crosby and Graham Nash.

And this is how this world lost in incredible talent of Michael Hedges who takes me to worlds away. He takes away the cares and scares of this world and ushers me into a land of music... the Fantasy genre of life.

Thank you, Michael, for your music.

The song posted at the top is from the album Torched, produced posthumously. Spring Buds...

April 12, 2013

It’s time for me to fly

It’s Friday! Time for some fun!

- Watch More Funny Videos

April 11, 2013

It's about time!

Kudos to PTR Industries, maker of military-style rifles, for standing up for what's right. PTR has been manufacturing guns in Connecticut but has just announced that they will be closing up shop in that state and moving their manufacturing business elsewhere. This decision is in response to the new gun control legislation signed into law by Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. Colt has also decided to move part of their manufacturing plant from Connecticut to Texas.

I know who the manufacturers of my next two guns will be.

Gun Manufacturer Will Leave Connecticut Over Gun Control Legislation: ‘A Call to All Involved in Our Industry to Leave This State’

April 10, 2013

April 09, 2013

Living under God’s sustaining grace

What Is Sustaining Grace?

Not grace to bar what is not bliss
Nor flight from all distress but this
The grace that orders our trouble and pain
And then in the darkness is there to sustain

—John Piper

Have you ever wondered why a loving God would allow you to walk through deep waters? Do you have trouble knowing what to say to a fellow believer who is going through difficult times? Do you sometimes want to ask God why he allows such pain in your life?

I have wondered these very things many times. I know and trust and God is good. I accept that his purposes are right and just... and even good... for those who love him, those who he has called according to his purpose. But that doesn’t necessarily help me get through the difficult times. I guess the head-knowledge has not always made it all the way down to my heart.

John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is one of my personal heroes of the faith. He is an eloquent expounder of God’s word, but he is also very human, with human frailties that are easy for me to understand. John Piper has been through some tough times and he is not afraid to come out from behind the typical veil we place around ourselves to keep others from seeing what’s happening deep down inside.

Prayer for Spiritual Strength – Ephesians 3:-21

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

John Piper wrote the poem at the top left of this post as an introductory illustration to his outstanding sermon “Sustained by Sovereign Grace – Forever.” That poem and his accompanying sermon helped me tremendously when my son was removed from our house and placed in a residential treatment center at only nine years old. He remained in that treatment center until he was well into his 11th year—a full 18 months later. During that time I listened to this sermon over and over while commuting between my son’s location (Lynchburg, VA) and my office location 200 miles away (Washington, D.C.).

Sometimes I need to be reminded of the truth that when God leads us through dark waters, he is there to sustain us and to bring us out onto dry land on the other side.

Listen to “Sustained by Sovereign Grace – Forever

April 08, 2013

Southern pride... with love and justice for all


am a southerner. I am a Rebel. I am a Confederate. I was born in Maine, but moved to Virginia when I was three years old. I was raised in the south land by a Yankee father (Trent, Michigan) and a Yankee mother (Binghamton, New York). I was taught the Union retelling of the war in the public school system. But through it all, I had an odd fascination with the old south.

And then I got to college. I remember sitting in my Western Civ class, taught by Dr. Rembrandt Carter—my favorite teacher ever and one of the primary influences on my world view, and learning about the great war between the states not from the pages of history books, but from original sources written during the time. As we began to cover that portion of American history Dr. Carter asked the class where they stood on the war and the arguments that led to the war. Were they on the side of the union or on the side of the secessionists? I was the only person who sided with the south—and I’m sure the only reason I sided with the south was to be annoying to all the people from places such as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

But after reading the assignments Dr. Carter gave us—the original sources written during the mid-1800s—almost everyone in the class sided with the south and few were even willing to call it the "Civil War." It was an amazing transformation, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with prejudice... or even slavery.

Over the intervening 30+ years since then I have heard many people argue against the south because of a perception of racism. Confederate flags are banned and those who would display them are ostracized. Being southern is not an easy identifier to where. But that doesn’t stop true southerners from proclaiming their southern pride.

Every now and then someone tries to address the issue, but most don’t necessarily get very far with the argument.

Perhaps that’s because it shouldn’t be an argument at all. Perhaps we need to just try to understand each other.

Even Yankees?... Yes, we southerners should try to understand even Yankees.

Rest in Peace — Annette Funicello


oday has marked the deaths of two very different, and yet very good women. I posted earlier about the death of Margaret Thatcher. And then just a few minutes ago I learned of the death of Annette Funicello—one of the original Mouseketeers.

I remember when Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died within days of each other. Many people wanted to draw contrasts and claim that one of them was the better role model than the other or had done more good than the other or impacted more lives in a more positive way than the other. I remember thinking that each of those impressive women were called to their own role in the world. Both of them were admirable and did much to improve the lives of the people they were compelled to help.

I think the same is true when thinking of the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello. Both of these women showed tremendous character. Both of them had a huge impact on the world. Both of them made our lives better.

Perhaps it would be best for us to simply remember them and be grateful for their short time in our lives.

An angry Jesus!

John 2:13-17
13The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17His disciples remembered that it was written,“Zeal for your house will consume me.”


his story has always fascinated me. I thoroughly enjoyed the recent History Channel miniseries “The Bible.” And I should probably say right up front that I don’t mind a bit of artistic license intended to shrink history’s most amazing story into a 10-hour miniseries made for television. So what I’m about to say is in now way a slam on the producers of that fine miniseries.

“The Bible’s” depiction of Jesus overturning the money changers tables in the temple did not match what I have always thought when reading this story.

To sum up my understanding of this story, the money changes in the template were there to sell sacrificial animals to the people who did not have one to sacrifice. These people would be the poor people because the wealthy already had oxen and sheep and pigeons were allowed only if the person making the sacrifice could not afford oxen or sheep. Some have theorized that the animals sold this way were likely not of the quality demanded by the law (a lamb “without spot or blemish”). That very well may be, although I don’t think the bible indicates that. But it does indicate, through Jesus’ words, that the money changers were selling these animals in a way that made the money changes thieves. That could mean that the animals had blemishes, or that they were being sold at exorbitant rates. We don’t know exactly why Jesus said they were making his father’s house a den of thieves, but we do know that he was unhappy.

“The Bible” showed a mildly disgruntled Jesus tipping the tables up and over. I think Jesus was far angrier than that. Typically, someone who is mildly disgruntled doesn’t make a whip out of cords, dump out cash registers, and flip the market stalls. I think Jesus was majorly torqued and was making it quite clear that this was unacceptable.

Anything that Jesus finds this repulsive should hit our radar as well. On the other hand... the bible instructs us to pay the worker his wages.

For what it’s worth, I’m going to give my thoughts on this subject. I think each of us needs to examine our own hearts to make sure that we are not using God’s house to make money on personal ventures. I am also convicted that we should not support others who use God’s house to make money on their own personal ventures. When people come to present their “ministries” to our congregations, do they demand a fee, or do they ask for a love offering to cover anything over the mandatory expenses? Does a conference speaker demand that everyone present purchase his materials/books?

I think it’s good practice to offer resources to the congregation when a speaker or musician visits. That benefits the people of God and helps defray the expenses for the visitor. But I believe this should always be done in a libertarian way, allowing the individual people the opportunity to purchase resources, support the ministry, and get involved&30151;but not coercing them into doing so.

I know this has rambled on a bit, but these are things I have thought for quite some time and this passage from my morning devotions brought it to mind.

Leave a comment if you have thoughts on this, especially if you disagree. After all... iron sharpens iron.

Rest In Peace - Margaret Thatcher

From SkyNews:

Britain's first and only female prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died peacefully following a stroke at the age of 87.

Baroness Thatcher has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell has announced.

Lord Bell said: "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning.

"A further statement will be made later."

Baroness Thatcher, Britain's first and only woman prime minister, had become increasingly frail and was suffering ill health in recent years.

She was admitted to hospital shortly before Christmas where she underwent an operation to remove a growth from her bladder but was allowed to return home before new year.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, paid tribute saying: "It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher's death. We've lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton."

“The problem with Socialism is sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”
—Margaret Thatcher

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family."

Baroness Thatcher, who was prime minister between 1979 and 1990, has been credited with transforming a nation in one decade, putting Britain back among the leading industrial nations of the world.

Update – further tributes

Boehner, Forbes, and Grassley respond.

Tributes from UK’s The Guardian.

Nancy Reagan
I am terribly saddened today to learn of the death of Margaret Thatcher. The world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy.

It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history. Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end Communism. As Prime Minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to “rock the boat.” As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.

Ronnie and I knew her as a dear and trusted friend, and I will miss her. The United States knew Margaret as a spirited and courageous ally, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.

My heart goes out to Mark, Carol and the entire Thatcher family.


Mike Huckabee
A personal farewell to Great Britain’s Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She stands beside Ronald Reagan, not just as two towering figures of the 20th century, but as political soul-mates. In those pre-politically correct times, Reagan called her “the best man in England." They deflected vicious attacks by both enemies and alleged allies, fought for conservative policies that revived their nations’ broken economies, and together helped bring about the end of the Cold War. A few years ago, it was my distinct honor to have dinner with Lady Thatcher and to introduce her at a speech she gave at Harding University in Searcy, AR. It remains one of the great honors of my life and the photos with her are cherished treasures.

April 07, 2013

Stand in the gap–E.W. Jackson

Edmund Burke

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”


ne of my first heroes from the world of politics was Irish statesman Edmund Burke. I initially took notice of Burke due to the quote at the top left of this post. As time has moved on I have found that this often-attributed quote may not have actually originated with Burke, but a quote from his Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents (1770) is even better:

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Until recent years, as I have watched our national leaders come and go—all seemed to be relatively good people at heart. Although I strongly disagreed with some of them in theory, I never doubted their desire to make our nation strong and to see her people succeed.

That is no longer the case. I believe many of our current leaders are bad men and bad women—intent on bringing this country to its knees for their own political gain and agenda. The bad men have combined, so the good must associate... else we will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle, to quote Edmund Burke.

Our nation is at a crossroads and we cannot wait for the next presidential election. We must start to right our ship of state before it capsizes and destroys us all.

Here in Virginia we have an opportunity to make an impact, but time is running out. I am endorsing E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor. But we need the Republican delegates to nominate him, so if you are equally moved by this man (you may learn more about him below) and are a Virginia resident, please consider becoming a delegate (you have until this coming Friday, April 12, to register as a delegate). Then, on May 18th, go to Richmond to participate in the nomination process. Virginia could use this man. Links are provided below the video.

And what does E.W. Jackson stand for?

The following is taken from Jackson’s web site:

Agenda to Inspire and Unite Virginia

As Lieutenant Governor, I will fight for policies that resist Washington and reign in Richmond. We must unleash the productive and creative capacities of our people to build, grow, and prosper. We need state leadership that will lessen the burden of government on our daily lives. Adherence to the principles of our state and federal Constitutions is the only way to protect the freedom of every citizen. The light of liberty burns dim today, but we will inspire and unite people from every corner of the Commonwealth to set freedom’s torch ablaze again. Virginians must lead the way. God will show us the way. Let Liberty Light the way.

Reassert the 9th and 10th Amendments

We must limit the federal government to its enumerated powers and reassert the rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of the state of Virginia.

Protect our 2nd Amendment Rights

While the second amendment specifically protects the right of an individual to “keep and bear” firearms, its purpose is deeper. That purpose is to protect our right to self defense. This is a fundamental natural right we are born with and no government has the authority to take that away. I will not only fight to stop any further efforts to infringe on this right, I will aggressively pursue eliminating the infringements that already exist.

Defend Religious Liberty

Obamacare is a Federal abuse of power which also violates the First Amendment by forcing individuals, businesses and religious organizations to act against their sincerely held religious beliefs. It must be resisted with all the legal and political force we can muster.

Demand a Taxpayer Bill of Rights

We must stop the unbridled growth of government in Virginia. A Taxpayer Bill Of Rights will limit the growth of state government and require permission from the people before exceeding certain prescribed levels of spending.

End Unfunded State Mandates On Local Governments

It is wrong for the state to make local residents financially obligated for policies they neither asked for nor approved. There must be a permanent ban on unfunded state mandates and a roll back of these burdens on local taxpayers.

Permanently Defund Planned Parenthood

It is an act of grave injustice to force citizens to pay for the destruction of unborn babies, whether through state or federal taxes. All funding for abortion and the organizations with provide them must be halted.

Fairness For Small Businesses In Virginia

State economic policy must foster small business, which hires most of our residents. Giving regulatory advantages and tax benefits to corporations over small businesses allows politics rather than the free market to pick winners and losers.

Promote Parental Choice in Education

Parental Choice in education is a liberty issue and a fundamental civil right. Virginia needs a Constitutional Amendment to recognize and establish the right of parents to determine where and how their children will be educated.

April 06, 2013

Bible thumping, Bill O’Reilly, and moral decay


have been trying to figure out the proper way to respond to Bill O’Reilly’s recent comment that the right-wing is being beaten in the marketplace of ideas because the only argument they have against homosexual marriage is, in his words, “bible-thumping.” After a bit of furor from the general public, O’Reilly, in his standard fashion, responded by doubling down on his earlier assertion—that Christians need to give up the biblical argument and adopt a secular or moral argument in an attempt to overcome the political opposition.

O’Reilly put forward a follow-up segment in which he and Megyn Kelly gushed all over each other while congratulating themselves on their agreement that bible-thumping is not an appropriate response to the gay marriage debate.

Again, I didn’t like what I was hearing, but wasn’t sure the best way to respond.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to respond on my own. Rick Phillips from the Reformation 21 blog has posted two articles addressing this topic. I think his analysis and response are spot-on. You may read them at his blog:

I appreciate Rick Phillip’s response to this issue primarily because it focuses exactly where it should. This debate is not against homosexuals. I have friends who are homosexual—friends who I appreciate and care about. This is not about hatred or homophobia—it is about adherence to and acceptance of God’s word. God is the creator of marriage and he has the right and the absolute authority to define what marriage is. And he has done so in his word. So that must be the basis for our discussion of this topic.

May God’s people get back to the Word as our sole basis for faith and practice, and may God, once again, bless America, land that I love.

April 05, 2013

Save me, O God!

Psalm 69:1

To the Choirmaster: According to Lilies. Of David.

1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.

2I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.

3I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

4More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?

5O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

6Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.

7For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.

8I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons.

April 04, 2013

Assertiveness – mom style


ou know that way moms have about them—that thing where they speak and just expect results? I remember my mom doing that regularly. And it used to really annoy me. Then... as I got older I wondered if maybe moms developed that trait when they were raising their children... some sort of maternal coercion instinct. But then I realized that it’s kind of the norm for all women. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be misogynistic, I’m just making observations here.

Well... it annoyed me as a kid, but I guess I got used to it over time.

My son, who is at that age that produces such frustration with authorities, says often, ”Jesus wouldn’t have to put up with this.” And I guess he’s right most of the time, because Jesus wouldn’t have done the boneheaded thing my son just did.

John 2:1-5

1On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

But then again...

We don’t actually have to imagine how such a thing would play out. When mom says, “the trash can is full” or “this room isn’t in very good shape,” she just says it and expects the unspoken command to be heeded. She might throw in the “mom-look” for good measure, but it’s actually the expectation that the thing will be done that really gets you. Even if you are tempted to respond in a snippy way, you realize that it had better get done or else you will risk the Wrath of Mom.

So... we’re talking about Jesus here and I don’t think he responded in snippy ways, even if what he said might seem a bit snippy to our Western ears. Woman, what does this have to do with me? Sounds a bit snippy to me, but probably not.

But what I find interesting in this story of Jesus’ first miracle is how his mom handled her “request.”

The wedding party host had run out of wine for the celebrants. An adult Jesus was there with his disciples. Mom feels bad for the host, who was probably a friend. And she knows Jesus is divine... after all, his biological father was the Holy Spirit. That’s not something a mother is likely to forget. Virginity during childbirth was quite rare in those days... it still is. In fact, it has never been repeated. So I think she had always had a full understanding of Jesus’ abilities.

So Mom says to Jesus, “They’re out of wine.” A seemingly simple statement. And Jesus responds with, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Probably not snippy, but his answer does show that he knew full well that Mom wasn’t just being informative. It wasn’t as though she had just said, “These are such nice dishes. I wonder how they made that fondant stay in that shape. Oh... and they just ran out of wine.” No... she got right to the point and Jesus knew Mom was not simply being observant—she wanted him to do something about it. So he said, “Sorry, Mom, but it’s not time for me to show that kind of power just yet.”

My son (with his mom
reflected in his glasses)

And how did Mom respond? Well... just like any other mom. She had already indicated her wishes, which were... Jesus, get them some wine, and she expected Jesus to do it. She may have even given him the mom-look. But what she did next is what makes a mom a mom. She “said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Now how is a child going to respond to that? That's that maternal coercion instinct and deep in the heart of every child is the little switch that turns on with a resounding, Yes, Mom.

It’s good to know that even Jesus had to deal with that. And it’s good to know that all moms have that ability. Without it, probably not very much would get done. At least for those of us who are not fathered by the Holy Spirit.

April 02, 2013


o... where do I start? If I am heading in a new direction... turning over a new leaf... I guess I need to start with a word from God. Maybe many words. Words such as:

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?

Love is patient

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
—Ephesians 4:2

The interesting thing is that I asked God to show me the way and all of these verses come up already this morning. I think maybe God is trying to tell me something. The rest of this is from today’s Daily Bread devotional.

A true friend is a gift from God and one who points us back to Him.

1 Samuel 1:14-18
14And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. True friends seek a special kind of good for their friends: the highest good, which is that they might know God and love Him with all of their heart, soul, and mind. German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The aim of friendship is exclusively determined by what God’s will is for the other person.”

Jonathan, David’s friend, is a sterling example of true friendship. David was in exile, hiding in the Desert of Ziph, when he learned that “Saul had come out to seek his life” (1 Sam. 23:15). Jonathan went to Horesh to find David. The significance of this scene lies in Jonathan’s intent: He helped David find strength in God or, as the text puts it, he “strengthened his hand [grip] in God” (v.16).

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us. May Your love compel us to show love to others. Give us sensitivity to Your Spirit that we might know how to encourage them in their walk with You.

That is the essence of Christian friendship. Beyond common interests, beyond affection, beyond wit and laughter is the ultimate aim of sowing in others the words of eternal life, leaving them with reminders of God’s wisdom, refreshing their spirit with words of His love, and strengthening their grip on God.

Pray for your friends and ask God to give you a word “in season” to help them find renewed strength in our God and His Word.