The Wish List

Another year, another birthday.

Birthdays are good for you, though—healthy in fact. According to well-researched statistics, those of us who have the most birthdays actually live the longest. Who knew?

I’m pondering that thought as I celebrate the beginning of the last year of my fortieth decade. And although it seems to be just another day at work to me this morning, I figure I’ll up the ante and create a birthday ‘wish list’ anyway. I know the old adage of wishes and horses, etc. and I’m experienced enough by now to comprehend said adage, but why not be simply un-jaded long enough to give it one more whirl?

I wish for my wife to recover her health. That’s the best place to start. Face it, things haven’t been the same over the last few months and she needs some relief from all of the many things that ail her. Besides, she is younger than me by six years or so, so that wish should be a gimme. Yes, we’ll start there. Here’s to you, sweetheart, I’ll spend my first birthday wish on you!

Despite the perceived chutzpah on her part, here’s wishing for my youngest daughter to not only do good on the test she asked me to pray for her about this morning, but to have a successful continuation for the rest of the semester in her nursing studies. This needle and blood-pressure cup is hoisted in an erstwhile toast to you, puddin’.

I wish for my oldest daughter and son-in-law to finally get some sleep in the near future. New babies can put a damper on the requisite nocturnal rest cycle, but she is healthy and precious—well worth the efforts because you will miss those all-nighters once she is grown and gone. Trust me on this one.

Some calmness for my oldest son, his sweet wife, and a grand-daughter that has truly become “Paw-Paw’s heart”. A lot will happen in the upcoming year; from jobs and graduation to the addition of a new baby. Enjoy the stress—thrive in it, if you will. Always remember that prayer still opens all doors whether it is answered in the manner you want it to be or not. And it never ceases to amaze me how that truly works.

A computer that does not crash when you download thirty-seven on-line games would probably make my youngest son happy. Well, that… and an LSU victory over Alabama next week. But I cannot ask for the latter wish, son, because seriously—I’m pulling for ‘Bama in this one. My birthday, my wish. But we’ll see what we can do about those computer issues.

Health for my mom—and roses that look as good as mine. OK, I’m kidding. Your Rio Samba won this year. And a final ‘stay-at-home-and-do-only-those-things-you-actually-want-to-do retirement’ for dad. You deserve it, Bum. You’ve been much too busy for far too long. It’s time to place added emphasis on enjoying the old ‘fruits of your labors’ thing by this point.

Health and peace for my mother-in-law, and an unending stream of Gospel singings for my father-in-law. Yeah. That’s the ticket. BTW – I’m doing my best to take care of your daughter, Nan. Yet if things don’t get better soon, your services will over-ride what we are currently getting from the medical industry.

A new dog for Hunter. ‘Nuff said.

I could go on all day here, folks. No probs.

But what do you want, Shannon? What is your wish for yourself on your birthday?”

“Seriously, a fulfillment of any of these wishes would be far more than merely enough for me.”

No, really.”


I think I’ll go with the Psalmist for $100 on this one, Alex.

Birthdays always seem to stir my heart to the truths that are written within G_d’s Word: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Every day is precious and should be made to count—not just on birthdays. My personal wish is to remember and count often throughout the coming year. If I can manage to do just that, I’ll be fine when 50 glides in over my horizon.

Fatherly Resemblance

Young Adult Sunday School Class - August 14, 2011

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. I John 3:1

There’s a baby shower being planned for this weekend even as I write this; my oldest daughter will deliver a daughter of her own in a month or so. It’s a blessed time in both her and her husband’s lives, and I’m not going to fret one tiny bit over the addition of another grandchild to my progeny. Judging by my first granddaughter through my oldest son, they are pretty special—a whole new experience to one who felt he knew all there was to know about children in general. These tiny creatures have a precious side effect of capturing your heart. They really do.

Witnessing the births of my own children, and many nieces and nephews along the way, the question that always seems to arise in those beautiful moments is who do they look like? Do they have their mother’s eyes and lips? Do they favor their father? As they grow up and character and personality traits come into play, it’s often asked who do they take after? Did the apple fall far from the tree? Are they in fact a chip off the old block? In more than a few subtle ways, I’ve noticed Parker is truly a female clone of my son, but I’m not going to go into any details here. Sorry Scott, but she truly is you made all over again… and I mean that in a good way.

This week we’ll be looking into the multi-layered depths of the 3rd Chapter of the Book of First John. There are many paths we can study in this chapter, and I’m not sure which road we’ll travel, yet all of the routes are laid out before us and are viable options to both learn and grow from. Most importantly, each verse we personally analyze will enable us to walk closer with the One who loved us first.

The first verse of the chapter opens with a bold statement from John, and I truly believe he was smiling through tear-filled eyes as he wrote it down. Behold! Is there any love greater than this? That we unrighteous and doomed sinners can literally become the sons of G_d due to the Heavenly Father’s love for us? Ponder that verse before class—it’s a deep one! We’ll look into the verses that follow and take a gander at how we are supposed to act and who we are supposed to emulate in our own lives. John lays out a wonderful pattern for us to follow here: although on the outward appearance of our carnal bodies we may look no different than others, there is something within us that makes us the very opposite of those who live in the world. At least it should be that way.

Reminds me of a story I read the other day about the famous Greek philosopher named Socrates. It seems one day as he was teaching his pupils, into the class walked a great physiognomist. This is a fancy term for what we would know today as a profiler, you know—someone who can tell you all you need to know about a person by simply studying their features. Obviously, because of his credentials, the students in Socrates philosophy class wanted a demonstration of his talent and skills, so they asked him for a quick, on-the-spot profile of their teacher. After a careful observation of the philosopher, the profiler pronounced him as “the most gluttonous, drunken, brutal, and libidinous old man that he had ever met." The class, who really respected Socrates and knew that he was none of these things took offence and began to insult the profiler, deriding him for his poor judgment of their much-beloved leader.

But Socrates raised his hand and stopped them, smiling, and said that the renowned profiler was correct by strictly using science in an observational manner, but that he (Socrates) had “conquered those visible traits of my body by utilizing my philosophy.” This is pretty good, coming from a man who had never heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When others look at us, what do they see? Better yet, who do they see? John uses a ‘take no prisoners’ approach in this chapter, reminding us that as Christians we should strive to control the sinful nature that is ever-present in our lives, refuse to budge when it comes to temptation, and most importantly—through our love for each other in the church—we should do our best to display the same personality and spiritual traits that Jesus exhibited while He walked on the earth. That’s a tall order, and one we can never accomplish on our own. We need Christ in our lives in all that we do for this to happen.

But in so doing, together we can make ‘The Chapel’ a place to go for so much more than just a weekly meeting. It can be a haven for strength and support, and a source of knowledge; all of which will enable us to achieve a noticeably closer resemblance to our very own Heavenly Father.

Other Things To Check Out Before Class:

1. Compare John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16. Is it just me, or is there a correlation between these verses? Hmm.

2. This is an example of how church members (and leaders) should not act. (Click on "This")

Plums And Roses

I’m thinking about going all-medieval on my plum trees when winter finally rolls around this year, cutting branches and trunks like Sherman marching through Georgia. If memory serves me correctly, my two trees are almost fifteen years old at this point, and have yet to bear anything even remotely resembling what others would call substantial fruit. I’ll confess most of the blame can be laid at my feet—I do not tend to them in the manner I should. Especially if I really expect plum jelly or pies during tepid, early summer months when the trees were designed by their creator to provide said fruit. I’m supposed to spray the early spring buds with some sort of concoction the old-timers around here swear by. I’m supposed to prune them back in the fall, and mulch their bases with composted manure. Too much trouble, I say. Besides, other than grabbing and eating a plum off a tree while mowing or idly walking through the yard, I’m not much of a plum-eater when it comes right down to it.

Yet by the same token, I tend my roses in a manner that borders on the fanatical and all to no avail. If you want to see prize-winning tea-roses or beautiful floribundas; you need to look elsewhere and not on my corner of Johnson Hill. The green-thumb does not reside in my genes, although it is not due to a portent lack of effort on my part.

I’ve witnessed those poor shrubs physically cringe when they see me coming, pruning shears and spray bottle in hand. Oh no! He’s back again, duck and cover! OK, maybe not that bad, but you get my drift. I dead-head my roses, I mulch and water them, I spray their leaves with expensive Neem oil in a thankless effort to fend off black spot and rust. In return, I’m rewarded with an occasional bloom from time to time, but nothing like the label advertised when I originally planted them. (I've kept the labels to identify them, and those faded, yellow pictures taunt my gardening-ego mercilessly when I garner the courage to view them!)

The other night I sat on the porch and listened to my roses taunting the plum trees, chiding them on how the gardner was going to chop them down for not producing. (I don’t know how they got wind of the plan I expressed here earlier, but they did…) The plum trees dripped moisture from their fruit-barren limbs in response; their silvery leaves shining sadly in the moonlight. The roses explained how the gardener tended them, pruning and painstakingly caring for them, all the while ignoring those nearby fruit trees due to their apparent lack of worth. The roses seethed in their arrogance, knowing how patiently the gardener sacrificed time and energy for their benefit, but not so much on the plum trees.

Those silly roses will neither understand nor comprehend it when the day comes (and it will) where I will grow weary of tending their unrepentant tendrils, and get out my shovel (or tractor) and destroy them all. Maybe I’ll plant lilies in their place—they seem to like our humid, blast-furnace-akin summers enough to thrive in those conditions, and certainly with a lot less hassle to boot.

But the plum trees really have to go, too. It’s in the cards. And it’s not without precedent:

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5

Jesus begins a parable by reminding his listeners of two recent tragedies listed among the current events of the time. One event happened when Pilate sent in the troops and wiped out a host of Galilean worshipers that were in the process of making their sacrifices in the Temple. Those supposedly-righteous Jews had been exterminated during the middle of a worship service! Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a tower fell and killed eighteen people near the Pool of Siloam, where the crippled outcasts gathered waiting for a miracle—the only possibility that could save them from their destitute lives. Jesus reminds his listeners that unless they repented, they were also going to perish despite their prominent standing in the community. At that point Jesus launches into the Parable of the Fig Tree, where a gardener pleads with the master for one more year to work with a barren fig tree before chopping it down.

It’s a reminder to me that due to the spiritual blessings that have been bestowed upon me as a Christian, I must be careful. Walking with G_d on a daily basis leaves no room for perceived self-righteousness on my part: I must bear fruit. Except for His grace, I am no better than the addict down the road crippled by chemical dependency, or the vilest sinner that avoids church services at any cost. Unless we all repent, a harsh judgment awaits each of us in like manner.

Meanwhile, the Master Gardener continues to prune and mulch me. He dead-heads my blooms in order to make me flower even more so. He anoints my heart with expensive oil. In return, He expects good works, not to save me, but as a noticeable result of my being saved by His matchless grace in the first place. He expects me to bear fruit, and if not, then he will trim me, cutting deeper into my soul with his Word, while chastening me with His Spirit. But in the end I must bear fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23) You see, it’s required of me to do so.

It’s a sobering thought to know that when I smugly point my self-righteous fingers at others, I better be very aware of what I am doing in my own life.

Plum pudding, anyone?

A Righteous Babe

Young Adult Sunday School Lesson – July 17, 2001

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2

I’ve found myself fascinated this week while studying the story of Abigail as it’s recorded in chapter 25 of the book of First Samuel in the Bible. The story has it all—a beautiful, righteous woman, a future king that is coming in judgment, and the demise of a so-called ‘son of Belial’ named Nabal. It’s a good read and takes only a few minutes to do so, although on the surface it may appear to be merely one more story among many chronicling the exploits of David while on the run from King Saul. This story begins immediately following the death of David's mentor, the prophet Samuel.

While in hiding near Mount Carmel with his motley band of 600 followers, David forms a protective alliance with the shepherds that are in charge of Nabal’s sheep. One of the shepherds refers to David and his men as a ‘wall’ to them, guarding them against trouble in a time much different than our day—a time when emergency help was not available via a three-digit phone call.

The story takes place during the season of the year when sheep were to be sheared; a time of feasting and celebration. At this time, Nabal had a lot to celebrate—he was rich and the year’s profits were truly laid out on the table for his own personal satisfaction. He also had a wife that, according to the Talmud, was one of the four most beautiful women in all of Jewish history. (The other three were Sarah, Rahab, and Esther) Let’s just say that it was good to be Nabal and he had a lot to be thankful for, but giving thanks was the farthest thing from his mind during the annual celebration. You see, in Hebrew, the name ‘Nabal’ means ‘a fool’, and he made it a point to live up to his name in the story that has been recorded for us here. One other factor worth mentioning here, in addition to being noted by name as a fool, Nabal is referred to as a ‘son of Belial’. Israelites that were Hebrew in name-only were commonly referred to in these terms. What this means is that Nabal, although a descendent of righteous Caleb, refused to obey the G_d of his people and most likely was not even circumcised. Because Caleb’s wayward children had intermarried against the Lord’s warning with the Kennites, this was altogether possible as a contributing factor as to why Nabal lived his life this way. (II Corinthians 6:14)

David sends messengers to ask Nabal for any provisions he could spare to feed and sustain his men in the wilderness, not a magnanimous request once you consider David had protected the very shepherds and sheep Nabal now found himself profiting from. Nabal saw it otherwise, asking ‘who is David’ and inferring that he was simply a runaway king-wannabe, probably thinking David would not dare rock the boat because King Saul was on his tail and a simple message from Nabal could expose David’s secret hiding place near Mount Carmel.

When his messengers returned and informed David of Nabal’s response, he became livid with rage. He orders his men to ‘get their swords’ and sets out to destroy Nabal, specifically all of the male members of his family. Oddly enough, at this time Nabal has no idea of the response of David because he has a drunken feast to attend.

One of his shepherds mentions the unfolding scenario of impending doom to Abigail, Nabal’s beautiful wife. The shepherd advises her that Nabal is unreachable, and that she needs to do something to avert the disaster that he knows is coming. She responds by loading up donkeys with two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs—the best she has to offer. Then she tells her servants, "Go on ahead; I'll follow you." But she does not tell her foolish husband what she is doing.

She meets David and his men in a ravine, and quickly gets off her donkey and bows before the future King of Israel. Immediately she takes all of the blame upon herself, and requests permission to speak, and moreover, she asks David to hear what she has to say. She reminds David that G_d has been with him throughout his life and fights his battles for him—evidently she was aware of current events and how the saga of David and Saul had been playing out. She also calls to remembrance in a subtle way David’s famous confrontation with Goliath, by stating that G_d will hurl David’s enemies away from him as if from the middle of a sling. She tells David that one day she knows he will be king, and that surely he does not want to have on his conscious the staggering burden of bloodshed that results from avenging himself needlessly. When you read this speech by Abigail, it appears to be a foretelling of Nathan’s prophecy in chapter 7 of Second Samuel. I think the correct term is an ‘adumbration’. (Passed spell-check, gotta be right!)

His mood now softened, David praises Abigail for her righteousness in the matter, and blesses her for keeping him from committing bloodshed and mayhem as a result of his anger. He tells her to go home in peace, because he has heard her words and granted her request. It’s a turning point in David’s life: he learns that in order to rule over a kingdom he will need to depend on G_d and be much less brash in his actions.

When Abigail arrives back home, Nabal is drunk and sloppy from the feast he has thrown, so she does not tell him what has transpired until the next morning. When she finally informs him of his ‘near miss’, he has a heart attack and dies ten days later. Meanwhile, David hears of Nabal’s death, and sends for Abigail, asking her to become his wife. She quickly accepts! I found this odd as there does not appear to very much grief or a prescribed period of mourning on the part of Abigail—but then again, Nabal was a fool. The suddenness of the bridegroom calling for his bride reminds me of something else in the Bible, though, a future event that is very shortly going to happen. Think about it before class, yet there is a whole lot more hidden here for us to search out!

PAT Attempt: What was the name of Abigail and David’s son?

In Faith

Ok, so maybe an Apple iPad can replace my trusted PC on certain occasions when a desire to blog calls me away from a time of trials and misgivings. It feels weird; I have no spell check or grammatical test points. I have to be careful with semi-colons, because I cannot use those double-dashes I love so well. The actual posting online may yet prove to be my undoing, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

The thought for me today is this: it should have been me. It's almost not fair in all of its dubious simplicity. The world is set, and spins within a realm of the constant and known; while the events of the past week make no sense to me at all.

As I sit here in this sterile hospital room, delicately plucking on a pop-up keypad, my wife lays fitfully asleep in the bed before me. With a tenuous at best grip on what is left of her health, I pause incredulously in a wonder that escapes the limits of my careful comprehension. It should be me lying there, breathing processed oxygen with metered fluids injected patently through tubes embedded cruelly within my wrists.

I'm the abuser when it comes to health and well being. I ride the wagon of fatty foods and nicotine consumption. I work out in a gym almost daily, but I undo the benefits gained with a propensity for falling semi-consciously into a recliner when I arrive home from work each day. Everything I find the 'one I love' going through, I've written with zeal a payment in full for what I've earned through sordid habits and a careless lifestyle. But she hasn't...

I can do nothing about it, seemingly, and instead I'm left to grasp at seven-dollar words related to me by callous (sometimes) doctors and their much too cheerful nurses.

So I pray for answers and for strength; hers not mine. I pray for my children, suddenly called upon to adapt to situations well beyond their years. I pray to a powerful G_d Who could reach down with matchless grace and heal her, in a manner which to the One who created the stars would find a mere, fleeting pittance. Yet perhaps most of all, I pray for understanding and guidance for myself, along with a deeper faith.

The result of these earnest prayers as well as a heart forged by belief is this: I know it will be alright. Beginning with today, and greater still tomorrow and the day after. We'll finish that interrupted bar-b-cue as a family, and we'll praise Him with humbled awe as we do so.

I have a promise, you see. In His Words of Life He assures me that I am to begin my facing of these circumstances by "casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." From a wealth of timeless experience I know that this will prove to be just enough. In fact, I can state with a calm assurance that I know these unknown and unexplainable things as simplistic fact. It will stand as a witness, a sentinel even, to be all that we ever needed by the time we gaze upon the conclusion of the matter.

Getting Late

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. Joel 3:2

Parting the land of the nation of Israel is the big news story this week, but the discussions have been ongoing for several years now. Supposedly this will appease the Palestinians; if the U.N. will only step in and create a separate state for them by redrawing the boundaries of Israel back to what they were when that country was founded back in 1948.

I’m not so sure.

After all, it was just a couple of years ago that Israel, under world pressure, conceded the Gaza strip. Within days (hours) rockets were raining down on southern villages in Israel from the newly released province. Ditto for the aftermath of concessions when Israel withdrew from Lebanon a few years earlier. Don’t tell me I’m wrong—I watch the evening news and read a lot more news reports than the average person. How can Israel concede further territory if the Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist in the first place?

Enter our President. Yesterday he gave a speech suggesting that Israel relinquish all territories gained as a result of the 6-day war back in 1967. For the government educated, Israel did not start that war—Egypt, Syria, and Jordan did so. They got their proverbial hats handed to them and Israel doubled in size; the territory gained proving to be a much-needed buffer zone for fending off future attacks. (1973) This territory included the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, both of which are extremely strategic for Israel’s defense. Most of the Sinai has been returned anyway by this point, but losing the Golan means Israel will be utterly defenseless with the high-speed attack weaponry available today.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Psalms 137:5

Jerusalem is truly a stumbling block to any conceivable peace process in the Middle East. I was very young at the time, but I’ve watched the videos of General Moshe Dayan’s speech he gave as the 1967 war concluded with Israel gaining control of the Old City, in which he stated: “We have returned to our holy places... And we shall never leave them." Part of the comments by our President calling for Israel to give up the land gained in 1967 would include Jerusalem, and would include Holy places such as the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall. In the words of a wise Senator following the President’s remarks, the plan is “mistaken and dangerous” and “Jerusalem must never be re-divided.”

“Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.” Ezekiel 16:26

Meanwhile, to complete the surreal picture painted by the President in his speech, one billion dollars in aid is going to be set aside for Egypt from our very own treasury, which—by the way—is broke. It’s empty, we are overdrawn, and we have none to give. Ah, but we will, of course. Why?

The whole world smiled as Egypt overthrew their government a few months back. The repressive regime of Hosni Mubarek, though friendly to the U.S., was destined to fall in what our western media likened as a western-style demand by the people of Egypt for freedom. The media pundits made sure to focus on leaders that were going to be the ‘new face’ of the ‘new Egypt’—specifically on a Google executive by the name of Wael Ghonim. He was educated, professional, and wanted the same freedoms we have known here in the U.S. from our birth. Once the revolution was over, the media quickly moved on to what was happening in Libya and now Syria, as more revolutions are taking place in the name of freedom from their own repressive regimes. But meanwhile, back in Egypt, Ghonim was barred from addressing the nation at a huge rally being held for their new spiritual leader Sheik Yusaf al-Qaradawi. Oh, by the way, the ‘spiritual leader’ is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and by note a hater of all things Israel.

That’s right, the media darling of the revolution for freedom has been swept aside, rebuffed, and rendered inconsequential. So what was the revolution all about? The answer lies in the Iranian warships now sailing comfortably through the Suez canal in Egypt, uncontested and unmolested—friendly even—as the new leaders in Egypt publicly question the validity of peace treaties signed between Egypt and Israel back in the late 1970’s. Yes, a billion dollars we do not have in the first place, for foreign aid to these guys, let’s do it!

What is going on here? While our country sleeps and dreams of American Idol winners, Glee, and all things Justin Bieber, things are beginning to quickly go awry on the world stage even as we slumber. We dream of 401k balances and ponder upon an economy that may or may not be on the road to recovery, while hoping that gasoline prices won’t get too high. It’s time to stop and think. It’s time to listen for that still, small voice. It’s time to remember:

But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. Habakkuk 2:20

It’s later than we think…

Doomsday 2011

And so the emails come in. Questions like Where have you been? and Why no blog updates in such a very long time? Some request a story from the far-flung memory banks of the past; others—my take on the latest political escapades emanating from the beltway. Mom says I can’t have a tattoo but I can’t find anything against it in the Bible, so what do you think I should tell her? And finally, the capper: Will the world end on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at precisely 6 PM?

I love the emails and in no way am I making light of honest questions and thoughts from those hopelessly slanted towards all things spiritual in a manner very much akin to my own.

But first things first…

I made a trip to the Lone Star State and was out of pocket for a few days. I thought about recording all of my random thoughts on my oldest son’s graduation from Basic Training at Lackland AFB, but to do so would have required me to utilize my cell phone. And despite the marvelous reviews on using a PDA to blog or update web-sites, my eyes are not quite keen enough (anymore) to see or edit text that small. It was a good trip, nonetheless, and through it all I was reminded yet again of how G_d has blessed me throughout this life I live, and I thank Him voraciously for each and every miracle that seems to drop unexpectedly in my direction. It’s truly more than I deserve, and in my heart I believe each and every second to be yet another example of His grace, which I’ll unabashedly admit I do not deserve.

Tattoos are the wrong move. I’ve covered them in a past blog here. But it’s not my choice to make nor to condone or condemn—if you choose to get one, use Random Thoughts in some manner or another in the tattoo. Seriously.

I’m a little more worried about the U.S. CDC releasing a guide to surviving the zombie invasion than I am of the world ending on Saturday—just saying. Zombie invasion? Really? Our Federal tax dollars at work.

The problem with all of the hoopla on the world’s apparent demise is that everyone will be watching their clocks and eying the sky around 6 PM on Saturday due to the much publicized rant of a misguided soul out in California. Therein lies the crux of the matter. Paul writes: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” So how can the end arrive with so much publicity and all the world waiting at that precise moment in time for it to happen? It would be hard to make a living as a thief under those circumstances. Never mind that the Bible explicitly states that neither the angels in Heaven—nor even the Son of G_d Himself—know the exact time and date for this to happen.

My take is that more than anything else, Mr. Harold Camping will prove to be wrong yet again, and with bitter disappointment he will bring a black mark to bear upon both the church and those who believe in the Bible. He will give rise to even more scoffers who will gleefully chant, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

Then what? The supreme question remains: If Mr. Camping and his followers are Christians, where or how will G_d get any glory at all out of this?

Ah, leave it alone. The Lord of Hosts can handle those things much better than I can.

Still, the world revolves and continues in a manner that can only lead to the certain and final destruction that awaits it just over the near horizon. The prophecies recorded in the Bible are falling dramatically into place with each passing day, despite the right or wrong in Mr. Camping or his follower’s testimonials. Something is coming—and it is going to be a horrible experience when it does.

I’m praying for mercy. I’m praying for grace. And I’ll continue making sure I’m ready for that Great Day to come when in fact it does. 6:00 PM on Saturday does not scare me half as much as 6:01 PM does. (Or 6:02, or 6:03)

The goal for all believers should be to simply be ready. That’s all that is expected of us.


“Paw-Paw!” “C’mere Paw-Paw!”

Nothing brings joy to my ears more these days than the sound of my grand-daughter calling for me from across the room when I get home in the evenings. She’s excited to see me—as I am to see her at the same time. She’s special, precious in my eyes in a way that despite having raised four children, I could never have anticipated these new feelings within the reaches of my furthest imagination. Children are special and there is no doubt that they are truly blessings from G_d; even more so when they provide you with the miracle of grandchildren in their own right.

Parker Olivia Anne Johnson is two years old plus a few months. (We still give her age in months at this point) She’s precocious and temperamental as are most children at her age, but that only adds to the experience of those things that make her special. She’s the daughter of my oldest son, who is off serving his country in the Air Force, hence the added extra time at Paw-Paw’s house these days while her mom is at school.

She’s at an age where communication still revolves around pointing your fingers and talking baby-talk to her when you want a desired result. And she still has a language of her own which is incomprehensible except with a lot of forethought, or by simply asking her mom to translate for us. Potty training has almost been accomplished (she’ll hate my mention of this when she gets older) and she can even sing her ABCs.

Children are special and each has his or her own personality traits. I learned through my own experience that you love your sons, but worry about them entirely too much. Because sons are generally miniature versions of yourself as a man, replete with all of your assorted fears and inconsistences. Or maybe you just notice them more. Daughters, on the other hand, are for sheer enjoyment and are easy to be carefree towards, because by the same token I cannot look at my daughters and not see a miniature version of their mother when I do so.

But back to Parker, which is where we started. She’s two. Sometimes she misbehaves and sometimes I can’t understand her when she is trying to tell me what she wants. On occasion she regresses in her potty training. She can’t read yet. She cannot say her colors nor pick all of them out plainly. We cannot have a discussion on the works of Hemingway and Faulkner, and she may grow up in a world that cannot remember them at all. I like deep movies that make me think—and especially those that make me ponder upon them long after I’ve watched them. She is still into Dora and Sponge-Bob Square-Pants. But am I disappointed in her as a result?

No. That would be silly and just in case the facetious font isn’t working on my computer, you should understand that I am kidding about this. Parker is two. There is a lot of growing ahead of her, a lot of learning, and a lot of maturity waiting to be plucked from the tree of her life which will be harvested by her own experience and necessity. She’s still a baby. I expect no more than where she is now and enjoy her even deeper as a result. It is interesting and exciting to see her develop and learn as time goes by. I’ll honestly profess it is a miracle from G_d the way she does so.

Sometimes at church I catch myself playing the part of maturity-detector for my Christian brothers and sisters. I wish they wouldn't make so many mistakes in their life. I get aggravated when there is not enough help for programs or outreach ministries. Sometimes they seem more concerned with the social aspect of church and not about the expounding of G_d’s Word through devotionals and messages from the pulpit. On a few occasions, I’ve noticed that they play favorites; shaking hands with those visitors that have a certain standing in society and are less inclined to offer the same to those with none. Yet I know they are Christians, and I was there when they were born again. So what gives?

It is during those times I'm reminded that walking with G_d on a daily basis is a growing experience. None of us (me included) will ever be where we should be in our relationship with Christ until we reach the next life that is waiting for us. Until then, we have to grow and mature a little, or at times a whole lot. Peter writes: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”Grace is easy to grow in as it is readily available and imperative due to our sinful nature. Meanwhile, growing in knowledge requires studying His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to open the windows of understanding to us.

It's a lot more enjoyable to concentrate on watching them grow and mature than it is to stand on the sidelines and point my self-righteous finger of condemnation at them. My job is to accept and love them, and applaud them when they uncover new heights in their spiritual journeys. In doing so, I may just grow a little more my own self.

Growing a little more each day...

Buying The Truth

I was thinking of the importance of truth this morning, a well-pressed concept in the manner of dried roses hidden in the erstwhile leaves of a book entitled Long Ago.

We were different back then, untainted by the prerequisite jading that arrived upon us through age and experience. Yet the scattered proof remains relevant throughout it all: life revolves around ten per cent of the things that are beyond our control, and ninety per cent in how we deal with those self-same situations.

But then again, I may just be full of myself this morning…

You’d have to have known the boy. Tall and skinny, loud and obnoxious, neither a bully nor one to be bullied; he was merely one of my friends. It may have appeared differently to those on both sides of the popularity bell-curve, but he was obscenely average in everything that mattered most to teenagers back in those days. The same careful estimations of him carried over from me—he was neither my best friend nor my worst—just somewhere stagnated in the middle. I guess that’s not so bad, really, in anyone’s world when you’re both honest about it.

School had released us for spring break despite it being only toward the end of February. The break was well earned by the season as the temperatures were unusually warm that year. We decided to go fishing in a pond not far from home, although going fishing mostly meant hanging out and doing anything but. As an explanation, I do not remember cleaning any fish that evening. Maybe we didn’t catch any, or maybe the events of the day spoke a different language and had taken us down another path. The pond belonged to a man that used the land for weekend excursions from a far away city, and infrequent ones at that. As a disclaimer, we had permission to fish there—or at least I did.

The owner kept a wooden pirogue on the banks of his pond, and a problem arose from the capacity of the small boat. It had been proven (scientifically) in the past to carry a maximum of two passengers at a time, while we had three on our impromptu fishing expedition that morning. So we flipped for it, and the loser had to fish from the banks while the other two set sail on a day that bordered majestically upon the magnificent. We displayed no fear—in the manner of teen-aged boys—assured in the knowledge that nothing could go wrong because we were immortal and invincible. But this is the point where truth came into play despite our efforts to deny it. Did I mention the weather was unseasonably warm for February?

With a slight breeze blowing steadily across the water, we found we had to constantly paddle to remain in the better fishing areas and to keep from being pushed into the primeval, untamed side of the marsh. On that side of the small basin abode a mature weeping-willow tree, whose winter-naked branches gnarled out over the water toward us with violent-looking tendrils. It would reach for rods, lures, even clothing if we happened to venture too close. We did.

Just as I reminded him that it was his turn to paddle and we needed to get out of harm’s way, something fell out of that tree and landed across my shoulders, softly sliding down my back and into the bottom of the boat. I had no time to express the words—they came on their own as I reverted to a stutter that had not been present since I had passed my second or third year as a denizen of existence: “S-S-S-Snake!”

Snakes weren’t out in February. They were cold blooded reptiles, everyone knew this truth, and it was too cold…

I bailed over the side and within moments was well on my way, swimming frantic strokes toward the beach we had originally began our expedition from. My bank-bound friend who had lost the coin toss earlier awaited me, laughing, but not too hard, and helped me get my water-logged body out of those algae-encrusted waters. Meanwhile I turned to look back for the boat, and my other tall and lanky friend remained onboard in the back of it, which caused the front end of the boat which I had earlier abandoned to rise up at a 45-degree angle. In my recently-vacated place coiled a very agitated snake, doing all he could to either find his way back up into the tree or escape into the relative safety of the water. The boy in the boat began laughing at the snake, the boat, me, and his predicament—but his laughter was short-lived. The snake, seeing no way out through the steep sides of the boat turned and began to slither in his direction!

Now Jesus walked on the water. I expect Him to be able to do so. I mean, He is the Son of G_d. And He invited Peter out onto the water to do the same—Peter did so and it was a miracle. A lot of people scoff at the Gospel accounts of this feat—although I know better because I’ve actually witnessed it.

Just about the time Mr. Moccasin reached his end of the boat, my friend took off and visibly walked across the water, screaming insanely at anyone or anything that would listen with his hands held dramatically over his head in homage to the powers that be. He crossed the water in the same manner that I did, the same route and the same direction, yet when he arrived on the bank he was dry from the ankles up. Now, explain that one to me. The truth is I saw it, and at the time I could not be convinced or convicted otherwise.

Sometimes the things we are certain of, like an absence of snakes in February or the dry pants of a friend after an apparent swimming session, can be proven false by others. Snakes can be stirred from winter by an unusually warm spell. My friend had his own explanation involving a submerged log that proved believable once we investigated it further. Still, there are other spiritual truths that are justifiable despite a lack of evidence other than by faith alone. But these others, like Peter’s experience, are still reliable and they are static and accountable—even if only to the believer.

It is of these particular spiritual truths that we are advised by the writer of Proverbs to: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”

Checking Your Premises

Last week’s main event included an odyssey on my part of finally reading the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This 1100+ page monster took a good portion of my week to slog through—not entirely due to its length—but for the most part revolving around having to pay close attention because of the language and grammatical style of the book. It was released back in the 1950’s; a lot of nomenclature has changed since then. I was drawn to the book by the things I had read describing it over the years, and the sudden influx of its popularity due to the current economic conditions we are faced with as a nation and as a people. Pundits (Conservative) advertising that the book would ‘change my life’ also caught the lion’s share of my attention because, well, you never know…

So did this epic cause a change in my thought process, now that I’ve completed and relegated it to the shelf of books I’ve read and have not yet decided whether or not to pass along to someone else? Did I learn or gain knowledge that was unknown to me beforehand? And finally, who is John Galt?

First off it did not change my life. But I already knew that there is only one book that can truly change anyone’s life, mine included. The book was a tough read, but not as bad as say, War and Peace by Tolstoy. It had a happy ending, as most books do, and I can consider it among the list of 20th Century Classics. But what, if anything, did I learn from the book?

Ms. Rand broke society down into three classes in her epic tale; on one hand were the looters and moochers of the world. Across the aisle she placed the producers of our civilization. And she was graphic in her presentation of each, more so when you consider this novel was penned during a ten-year span between 1946 and 1956. I see a lot of what she represented in our present world, but walked away with a different take than most readers normally would. Please allow me to explain...

The looters (government) and moochers (entitlement recipients) are both alive and well in this enlightened age we live in. A liberal veil has spread across the hallowed halls of our congress and our court systems, using tax money to blatantly purchase votes from the moocher class. The moochers of our nation are the same today as they were in the book; dependent upon federal assistance and making no move at all to help themselves in any attempt to better their very own lives. Meanwhile the producers (the heroes of the book) complain of unfair taxes and too many regulations placed upon them by the same government in the name of ‘fairness’. Yes, Ann sort of hit it on the head—even back in the carefree days we normally associate with the 1950’s.

But the heroic figures she uses in her novel to represent the producer class have their own share of the flaws and patent fallacies I already knew of in my own heart as I read the book. In their zeal to work and create wealth, they become victims of much more than regulations or increased taxes. Their lives are fraught with disappointment, failed marriages, unloving/uncaring families, and sordid adulterous affairs (and these were the heroes!) in a search for a happiness that even by the end of the book—it was hard to comprehend if they had, in fact, actually attained it. In a Christian slant (which is what I do) I compare them to the people of Nimrod when he said, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” Happiness can never be found in material possessions and wealth, despite the spin of words graphically presented by a fifty-year-old novel.

From the lawless violence and thanklessness of the moochers, through the self-immolating corruption of the looters, to the unattainable dreams of the producers—one thread remained clear to me throughout the book. It was the words Paul penned in his letter to the Romans, which he in turn quoted from David: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”

Yes, we can point our fingers of perceived righteousness at each other till Judgment Day carries us away into the damnable eternity we all assuredly deserve—despite our status in society. In the meantime we can attempt to live an unlivable life by the morals contained within the book of someone said so. But in the end, we will all still miss the mark, we will all fail to make the grade, and we will all stand naked in what is left of our self-righteous rags of good intentions before a Holy G_d on that great and terrible day which is to come.

We must arrive in that place with something better. We need to be fully dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. Regardless of where we stand in the mix of her characters, in the end this is the only truth worth mentioning here.

It was still a good read, almost (almost) prophetic for her time. But the devil remains in the details once you—as she states—check your premises.

The Blind Spot

I talk about my motorcycle a lot these days, both in this blog and in my basic, random, day-to-day-trivial conversations. It’s because she’s not doing so hot, and that can be a problem on those early morning rides I make in to work each day. I’ve scheduled her for a visit to the shop this afternoon, and it can’t happen soon enough for me. Is it running that bad, you ask? Well… no. The gas mileage is great and her reliability at getting me from point A to point B is very sound; it’s the little glitch in her carburetor that bothers me. Please allow me to explain.

I have to be careful when I ride. Seldom will a day go by when someone is not reminding me of the latest motorcycle accident—along with all of the obligatory gory details they seemingly can’t wait to breathlessly provide. I am aware of most of those accidents in our community and I do not take them lightly. You have to use extra care when you straddle a two wheeled monster and take to the mean streets of Pearl River County. First off, people do not see motorcycles on the road, and it is not unusual as such to have someone cross the lane in front of you when they make a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. You have to be prepared at every crossing, every entrance to the highway even, for someone who is not apt to see your chrome silhouette coming towards them from a distance. I keep my eyes peeled and my head on a swivel whenever I see a car—because you can never be certain of what they are going to do.

Furthermore when I leave my house in the country, I have to watch and be prepared for dogs or possibly even a deer or two crossing the road ahead of me. It happens. I’m a veteran of a collision with a small doe in the highway while on my bike a few years back, and I definitely do not want to up the ante by taking on a larger animal. Then there is always oil, wet roads, or loose gravel to look out for. I tell ya, it can be down-right scary when I dwell on the subject of safety while riding a motorcycle in this day and age.

I digressed a little, I know, I am prone to do that from time to time—back to my engine woes. You need your equipment to be operating perfectly if you are going to ride safely. When in a precarious situation not usually of your own making, you need instant throttle response to get you out of there as soon as possible. You need good brakes, properly inflated tires, and the correct riding apparel such as gloves and a leather jacket. I usually cover those bases.

But what I have noticed lately is that with my carburetor troubles (no fuel injection for this old-schooler!), I catch myself messing with the choke on occasion—closing it at stoplights to allow the bike to idle smoothly, and opening it back up when I reach highway speeds to allow her massive engine to purr and not sputter. While concentrating on these issues, I am less inclined to pay enough attention to the hazards that are waiting for me just over the next hill or around an upcoming curve or intersection. That’s not a good situation.

Thus, the scheduled visit to the shop—to return the bike to peak performance and to prevent a loss of concentration at those times when I need it most. You see, I can do nothing about other drivers, especially if they happen to be on a cell phone or text-messaging while they drive. I have to be careful and watch out for them versus the other way around. Yet when it comes to my own driving skills and equipment, I have the sole responsibility for doing things right and making the right choices.

Hmm. I think I notice a unique similarity to my own Spiritual life as well. Peter wrote: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” As I make my Christian walk each and every day, I must be careful of the things that Satan will throw in my path. He’s hiding at every intersection, camouflaged on precarious side streets, and crouching behind thick bushes waiting to jump out in front of me. That’s a given, a part of life so to speak, and furthermore there is nothing I can do to change this on my own. But when I have hidden issues in my own mind and become careless in my walk, maybe paying too much attention to things in my heart that shouldn’t be there—I become instantly at his mercy and subject to a disaster on that road not so very far in front of me.

I therefore find myself faced with two realities: I must focus on those pitfalls the world through Satan may place in my path, and I must keep my heart in perfect tune with His Will—not my own. By doing so, I know I’ll arrive at the destination He’s prepared for me, safe and sound, and definitely use a lot less gas in doing so.

In Search Of Leadership

Over the past few weeks there has been an influx of bad news throughout our world, from the earthquake/tsunami/radiation in Japan to the troubles in the Arab states, and all apparent points in between. Just for once I’d like to hear that things are getting better—somewhere—anywhere.

I bet you would, too.

Seemingly lost in the midst of these global calamities are our very own troubles at home here in the United States. The budget deficit is escalating out of control and all that our leaders seem to be able to do about it is to bicker and argue over points that are only frivolous at best. Somehow they managed to cut monetary support for Planned Parenthood and NPR, thus saving a few million dollars, while billions more in debt was fast accumulating in other areas—even as they proudly clapped each other on the back for the historic cuts they had implemented. Now they bandy around the option of increasing our taxes while gas and grocery prices go through the ceiling. Truly the inmates are in charge of the asylum, or so it seems.

Democrats refuse to budge in the area of cutting welfare and entitlements, while Republicans remain staunch supporters of fat military budgets that keep their favorite contractors in the black. We need our military to protect us from, well… everybody. We need our entitlement programs to protect us from the vast unwashed, in effect paying them to behave and not begin rioting the moment the free stuff runs out. And so they compromise—the Republicans allow yet even more entitlement spending while the Democrats give in on greater defense expenditures—meanwhile the deficit continues to escalate. There is no logic in Washington. There are no real answers to be found inside the Beltway.

Elections are to be held next year for the Presidency along with a large number of congressional seats, but I’m not going to kid myself as there is no relief in sight. The Democrats will run on the platform of protecting the sacred entitlement programs, and as fifty percent of Americans now receive some form of government subsidy, they will have strong support to lobby their case. The Republicans have no one with either enough charisma or a viable enough plan to run against this platform with an actual fighting chance of winning, and if by some miracle they do, past experience tells me nothing will change anyway. It’s a depressing state of affairs if you ask me.

We need true leadership, and where will we find it? To paraphrase the ancient question of Yeats, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Washington to be born?”

There is a leader on the horizon, and he may be closer to ascending to power than we may know. All of the major religions of the world agree on this, though the characteristics of said leader differ from each sect. The Christians believe (as I do) in the impending return of Jesus Christ. The Jews are looking for the Messiah, and have been since the days of Abraham in the Old Testament. The Muslims are anticipating the arrival of the Mahdi, who they believe will judge the world for either seven, nine, or nineteen years (depending on whether the Islamic beliefs are Sunni or Shia) before an impending Day of Judgment. Even the Buddists are not immune to this apocalyptic manner of thinking—they have the Maitreya—who is supposed to be the great teacher for all of mankind scheduled to arrive in a future near you. I can go on and on—from the American Indians to less-known sects in the backwaters of Indonesia—the world is earnestly looking for the one who is to come.

I’m no Jay Galle when it comes to forecasting the days ahead, but the thing I fear most is there is in fact a future leader coming who will be all of these things, and yet none of these things. Sadly, I believe the world in all of its wisdom will not understand this until it is much too late to realize they’ve been duped once more by a leader who promises the moon, yet in the end brings exponentially more trouble and destruction than we already face at the present. Jesus explained it this way: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

He’s out there somewhere, this much sought after leader, and his time is surely at hand. Our world is currently and spiritually ripe for the picking, so to speak. But don’t be deceived—he may not be all that he purports to be once he arrives on the scene to rescue us.

Opting Out

A side trip on the way home from the coast the other day proved to be an eye-opener for me. I found myself on a winding back road you’d probably never find on a map, further proven by the blank display on the navigation package in my truck. I like taking those forgotten paths on occasion; it helps remind me that it is not imperative for me to always be in a hurry as I travel through life.

It was a newly minted subdivision that caught my eye, replete with a fancy stone gate featuring intricate artwork. I couldn’t resist a sudden urge to drive through that beckoning gate and witness the high dollar houses sure to be viewable just beyond the ornate opening. Homes starting in the low 200’s, the strategically placed billboard advertised. Now, first off, I have a problem with that. A ‘home’ is so valuable, at least a good one is, that you cannot place a dollar amount on it. A house is just a building and that’s simply all it can ever be. But a home, ah, that takes a lot of love and work coupled with massive infusions of patience and respect. To call a nice, brand new, unoccupied house a home is one of my pet peeves—the story of that inauspicious building has yet to be told.

I’ll confess I had heard of this subdivision beforehand, but my trip had serendipitously brought me in close enough proximity to witness it for myself as to whether the rumors I’d heard were true or not. Turns out they were—to the letter to be exact. I passed several McMansions (that’s what I call them), very large cookie-cutter houses of close architectural design fading off into the distance like monoliths pining for clarity and reason. All of them were found in forgotten states of incompletion. Weeds and brush grew around piles of dormant brickwork; projects abandoned or better, aborted, before the builders were completed. They were mortal victims of a fluctuating economy and a housing crisis that reached epidemic proportions before the final tally was certified, and their fallen condition much akin to castles in the sand waiting for the tide to close their story.

I caught myself pondering on one of them in particular; the builder had meticulously worked around a century oak, taking pains to create the house without disturbing the ancient tree. It sat on the side of a hill, and although the vacant lots on both sides had faded For Sale signs rooted in the dirt, as it sat it would have been the perfect place to raise a family. Children could play in the low hanging branches of the Disney-esque tree, and her fronds would provide much needed shade for backyard bar-b-cues in a future that obviously was not meant to be—at least not in the present economic conditions. I began to wonder what I could give for the house myself; to complete it and move in with my own family. Other than the remoteness from my job and Wal-Mart, why it was perfect!

As I drove away from the interrupted subdivision, my thoughts returned again and again, stabilized over the what-held-promise-to-be-beautiful-house-on-the-hill as I made my way back to McNeill. Along the way reason returned and I began to take stock in what I have. My house is small. I have no carport. I have an in-ground pool but sometimes not enough floor space when the kids and grandchildren are around. But my mortgage is meek, manageable, and doesn’t create a lot of pain when the monthly bill is due. It is conceivable that I will pay it off one day despite the economy—possibly. And I’m a lot closer to Wal-Mart as well as civilization in general.

Of course if I wanted to, I could add a concrete slab in the front or back and build an additional room or two to impress my neighbors and friends. How about a matching carport to cover my beloved Z-71 or Kim’s SUV? Maybe an additional barn with a boat in it for lazy weekend days spendable on the lake or river of my choice?

Instead I’ve opted-out. I’ll keep my smallish dwelling just the way it is, thank you very much. Boats are too much trouble and the rain makes my aging truck glisten when I remember to wax it. Family in a small room makes for a close family, and a close family in a small room goes a long way toward making that house a home. To be comfortable, on an even keel with my wife as we share that special love we began so long ago with our children and grandchildren, is worth far more than additional floor-space or marble counter tops. Two floppy-eared dogs that never do what they are told add an exclamation point to complete the picture—at least until they get into my rose bushes. Walking with G_d in the way He would have me go, knowing that a personal relationship with His Son will be all that matters on that Great Day which is to come gives me peace and a blessed hope for a future that has yet to be written.

Jesus makes an amazing offer in Matthew: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I think I have enough these days. I’ve opted out of a broken system that only leaves me wanting more, and fills me with an emptiness that can never be fully satisfied. That system will always leave me high and dry, proverbially stuck on a desolate sand bar. Material wealth—those big houses, cars, and boats—are sad trade-offs when compared to the rest that only He can provide.

Friends With The Son

The big man dropped the tailgate on his truck and opened the box door, beagles spilling out and leaping to the ground in assertive eagerness. The crisp smell of fall with its damp morning kiss, and foliage on a fast track to becoming shades of yellow and crimson in a few more weeks met us as the aforementioned dogs scattered to various compass points.

Two teenagers checked their shotguns, the rack-rack of 20-gauge pumps providing justification that rabbit season was open and we meant business. My friend’s father had trained those dogs all summer long, and if ever there was a morning to prove them—this was it. Maybe I shouldn’t tell this story, because in McNeill, a man and his dogs abide precariously within the realm of the sacred. But it is possible he won’t read this. Maybe he won’t know. A stern man in those days, he’s mellowed over the years. But I’m wise enough not to push those proverbial buttons too hard even now.

Before he could scold us about something we were doing wrong, (we always were in those days) the dogs yelped in the distance; their voices changing in a tenor that was obvious. The first rabbit came barreling through the forest moments later. They are fast creatures when pursued, and on most days the dogs are well behind when they make their appearance. This one picked a route between me and the stern man, and I disappointed him by not taking the shot. As the rabbit sped by, he tracked it with his rifle (adults used rifles) and dropped it moments later as it crossed a fallen log. I felt bad about it for the rest of the morning—I should have taken the shot. Yet I also knew that a shotgun in close quarters can be unforgiving, and my own father had warned me incessantly about pointing one in the general direction of another human. But I always wanted to prove myself to this rough man, and wished from my silent depths that the first rabbit of the day had simply chosen another route.

He retrieved the downed animal and carried it back to the nearby truck without looking at me. Too fast! I thought. Didn’t have time to think. And finally… I let him down. I looked over at my friend, but he was shaking his head, too. I knew he was glad it was me and not him in that situation. Years later I can look back on that moment, assured in the knowledge that I did the right thing. But then as now, I know I should have tracked that rabbit and blasted him when he cleared the area between us. Instead I froze as the moment passed me by, and if I had wanted to make an impression that morning, I surely did.

The dogs, meanwhile, had faded in the distance. We walked silently in the last direction from which we had heard them earlier, but our trek went on a lot longer than it should have. The silence between me and my friend's father was deafening, and the day was already ruined for me. I’d like to say at this point that I got a second chance: we heard the clarion call of the dogs, a big rabbit appeared, and I put him down with a precise shot made with a skill and an accuracy that belied my fourteen years. But it wasn’t to be.

It was hours later when we found those prized beagles—asleep under a tree in the middle of a dormant soy field. The contempt for me and the shot not taken swiftly faded as his anger for the dogs he’d striven so hard and for so many months to train manifested itself. I won’t go into the details; instead I’ll leave it as he was not happy about it and we’ll go from there.

There were other hunting trips, and we took many rabbits over the years from the fields and forests around our small town. The sternness and associated agitation between he and I did not last as I grew older. He taught me many things along the way, both about the great outdoors and life in general. In the end I don’t know if he changed that much or if it was merely a matter of maturity on my part—probably a combination of the two.

We were so different, you see, and so far apart in everything. Polar opposites. So why did he accept me and befriend me in the first place—a boy with too much hair and crazy ideas that usually didn’t line up with the standards held dearest to his own heart? I guess it was my friendship and closeness to his son that mattered the most. That son and I remain close to this day, and as a result, my relationship continues with his father—and we’re on good terms.

John writes: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” It is on account of my relationship with G_d’s Son, that He accepts me today despite all of my faults and misgivings. Without that personal relationship with Jesus, I’d be just another lost soul out there on the highways and byways of life who missed the mark or didn’t take the shot—searching in vain for an impossible way to make things right with G_d.

Dark Confessions

I met you on the afternoon of the day you became an indifferent witness to my fall. Under the fading aura of a bleak December, I found myself a pagan Christian at best; lost in the gray area where you find yourself too old to be a boy, yet much too immature to be a man. It was your friend you were worried about, not me, and with stoic condescension you watched as I carried the friend you loved down a careless highway of sin and lost innocence. Somehow you managed to deride me without ever saying a word. Oh, but I knew.

That friend of yours told me later of the intonated manner in which you ordered your own son to ‘make sure you do not grow up to be like him.’ That stung when I heard it, and I did not consider it justice to be used as an example in that light. What did you know? And why should I justify my behavior to someone like you? You could not understand nor comprehend the pain I was going through at the time, and my manner of coping was, well… my manner of coping. But it bothered me and most of all it stuck with me.

A few short months later I ran into you again—though we still weren’t friends. We never were. Again you watched as I took another one of your friends down roads never meant to be taken, and your silent judgment continued even as you watched us both tempt disaster. The pain. The remorse. None of it was worth it, even though now I return to those memories via a bridge whose waters have ebbed and flowed wistfully over a poignant sea known as many years passed.

A lot has changed since then. I’d like you to know that. Fate being the sometimes charitable mistress she is, maybe by chance you will read this and know that people truly can change, and the judgment you decry today can be rendered irrelevant tomorrow. But by the same token I have to admit you were right—because you were. And though you were quick to judge, at least with your eyes; you can’t honestly say you offered any guidance to the jaded soul who found himself broken and undone back then.

I met a woman. We built a family. But most of all, I found a church. Something happened, and this time it was real to me. In a brutally honest sense I had my own road to Damascus moment, and the scales certainly fell from my eyes not long afterward. The penalties for those sins from long ago have been paid in full, yet I still carry around the remorse for those vile things I both went through and performed. I’ll hold them forever in the hidden places of my heart, and like cruel scars that never fade, they will always haunt me.

The pagan Christian of that wintery day has been replaced with what I hope is an honorable one. I know my faults and I do my best to keep them at bay. I work hard to provide for my own family and I cherish them. I’ve taught my children the right path and thankfully did not have to use someone else as a toxic example of what not to be. I covered those bases with my own misgivings. Meanwhile, I pray for them. With all sincerity I do the utmost to keep them from repeating my own horrid mistakes—my sins.

I don’t know where you are today, because I only vaguely recall your name. Yet I remember your face. And all I want out of this is to say “I’m sorry” while meaning it. Once again, I also want you to know that you were right—and openly admit what I can finally comprehend on my own.

People can change. Sometimes, though time may grow short and the credits begin to roll on this earth we inhabit, the Prodigal son can still arrive safe and sound at his Father’s house.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Free Indeed

I have a different mind-set on perfect mornings when weather affords me the opportunity to pilot my motorcycle in to work. I ride into town, my VTX at a comfortable rumble, and smile as I pass the less-fortunate at gas stations—their vehicles tethered to the pumps while the dollar digits steadily climb. It’s a different world when you behold it from the seat of a harnessed, 1300cc-horsepowered freedom machine. It’s the open road; or at the very least a throwback to the days when men bare-backed horses and rode through the primeval forests of yesteryear.

Freedom—it’s a good thing, I tell ya. Books have been written on the subject, songs sung, and in our human imaginations few things can stir the heart like the mere concept of being free can. Yet in the end, what is this ‘freedom’ we all aspire to? Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” I like that, although I’ll be the first to admit it took a long time for me to understand what He was ‘getting at’.

Three Gospels in the Bible refer to a time when Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee to the land of the Gaderenes. None of those writers suggest a reason for the trip, they only mention that Jesus said they were going, and so they did. As they drew near to the shore, a naked man came rushing toward them out of the graveyard. He was obviously mentally deranged, with scars on his body, wild hair, and broken chains hanging from his arms. I can only imagine the sight in my mind, but had I been there my first impulse would have been to run—I’ve seen far too many horror movies in my lifetime.

Long story short, Jesus casts a legion of demons out of the man and into a nearby herd of swine. The possessed pigs, not happy with their new-found unholy situation, swiftly ran down into the sea and were drowned. A legion, depending on where you research it, was a Roman division of anywhere from 5600 to 6000 soldiers and usually 200 horsemen. That’s a lot of demons! The Gospels mention that the man was next seen fully clothed and in his right mind, and furthermore he wanted to follow Jesus and his disciples. Nevertheless, Jesus tells him to go back home and tell everyone what G_d has done for him.

In my manner of thinking this may be the perfect example of the freedom that Jesus offered in the verse I mentioned earlier. The man had not always been in that condition, he surely had a home and people that loved him somewhere locked away in his past. Sin had destroyed his life although we do not know the cause or how it all started. In the end we find him living among the dead, unable to control himself, and shunned by the society of his time. Uncontested sin can do that to a person if allowed to fester in one’s life. I know—I’ve been there.

I especially like the part in the beginning of the story where Jesus decided to go across the sea, because I believe Jesus knew all along that this poor man was out there and unable to help himself. The Gaderene demoniac did not need medical insurance, he didn’t need a good therapist—he needed a savior.

Most importantly, he needed someone who could set him free.

Though my own sins probably cannot compare with the subject of this story, (depends on who you ask) there was a time or two (or three or four) in my own past where I’ve allowed sin to take control of the better part of me. I’ve found myself in wretched conditions at different points in my life as a result. However, I’m happy to say it was during those times when Jesus actively sought me out, and stirred in my heart a desire to release those sins and return to where I obviously needed to be. Did He do this because of my special standing or status in this world? No. His offer of freedom is available to anyone who believes and accepts Him into their heart. And the offer is valid because after all; 5600 demons is certainly a lot of demons—but even one demon is a demon too many.

Writer's Block

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:20-21

My absence from this blog over the past few weeks has been the result of a losing record in the Spiritual war I am destined by my faith to constantly fight. If you are wondering, no, I still have a gazillion stories from the past and vats of inspiration for others, but nothing comes to mind when I sit down to write. You see, it’s not the stories themselves; it’s the Spiritual tie-in for those tales I’ve had problems defining during what has been for me a very stoic time.

I’m pitted against some pretty powerful foes as the battle unfolds each day. (Yes, each day!)

There is this big dude, rough-looking and mean, and I don’t know his name because he won’t tell me. Why should he? I simply call him ‘discouragement’ because that is his nature. When I sit down to write, he reminds me that what I am doing is of no use to anyone but me. He uses phrases like ‘nobody cares what you think’ and ‘what you write inspires no one anyway’. He check-mates me with ‘go watch TV and forget about this pointless blog. After all—it IS purely random thoughts—and by your own definition!’

A demon… in McNeill? Who knew? I mean, surely they inhabit New York and most assuredly reside around 42nd street. I’m positive there are quite a few on Bourbon or Decatur in New Orleans as well. But McNeill? This is smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt for Pete’s sake!

That big dude I mentioned has an ugly little friend. I call him ‘despair’ because again, we seldom discuss names in this business. He reminds me of all the things that are wrong in the world. The earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan along with the radioactive meltdown, the mess over in Libya and the Middle East in general, and the impending fall of Western Civilization. (Yes, he calls it that) He tells me to work harder in the gym, store up dried and canned food, and hunker down with plenty of ammo—because all is lost and I can depend only upon myself first and foremost. It would be comical, but he has an innate ability in slanting my thoughts in the general direction of his point of view. He makes sense during those times—what’s the point if it’s all going to go bad for us anyway? But he’s still ugly.

Then, as if these two aren’t bad enough, on my left shoulder sits this girlfriend of theirs. I call her ‘lust’ because man, you should see her! Perfect in every way. Just the way they serve ‘em up on TV shows I know I shouldn’t be watching. You’ve seen her, I’ll bet, in a short skirt on Dancing with the Stars, walking through the jungle while wearing next to nothing on Survivor, maybe smiling suggestively on The Bachelor. She purrs in my ear, crooning that Spiritual things were good back in their time, but ‘this is the New Age, baby’. She makes getting with the modern, worldly program seem like the real deal to me as I gaze in envy at new cars, boats, and other castles made of sand. I can’t acquire those things by sitting behind a terminal and writing stories about what G_d has done for me. She whispers promises of how much more fun it would be to write about Charlie Sheen, Madonna, or even political rants because, she teases, ‘you know you’d be good at it.’

There are others, too, but these guys merely stand out to me this morning. They destroy my will and make me less than what I know I should be. They freeze my thoughts when they attack; making me use the delete key far too often as I type and retype empty words that never come.

So I upped the ante this week following a sermon last Sunday that touched my heart and quickened my Spirit. I went all-medieval on that trio and their ilk—I resorted to the nuclear option if you will.

I started a fast, backed up by faith, that has now stretched into its third day, and I’m setting aside three scheduled times a day to pray. I’m back to basics with a morning quiet time, immersing myself in His Word and praying for everybody I know as I they come to mind. (I’m probably praying for you, too, if you are reading this!)

The words came this morning, and lots more. So much and so many I can’t type fast enough. I should be writing three or four posts today in order to catch the blog up—but that’s not the way we do this. I’m humbled for what He has done for me. I’m happy for deliverance from my own personal ghastly trio, though I know they are anxiously waiting right outside my door. And I’m hoping that those of you who are facing your own demons can take heart in my own struggles, while finding your own deliverance at the same time.

Freedom is closer than you think!

True Bearings

I’m not good with my hands. The talents that other men take for granted, you know—things like engine work or carpentry—those skills have eluded me throughout my life. I’m a thinking man. I understand concepts of molecular movement and comprehend all of the theories involving the flow of electrons. Sometimes I wish it were the other way around, but then again, my complaints would only then be construed as shallow.

The air conditioning repairman that occasionally visits my house will attest to my failed handiwork. Many times I’ve watched him shake his head in disbelief; incredulous at circuit changes I’ve made to my outside unit on the fly or in an emergency. Most of the times the things I do out there work, (for a little while) but they are not pretty. I’ve also had my share of snafus when it comes to simple tasks like oil changes—I sheepishly admit to a time when I removed the wrong drain plug and emptied the fluid needlessly from a perfectly functioning transmission.

I concede these shortcomings to address another—in an effort to somehow enable you, dear reader, to understand what I went through during my first assignment in the United States Coast Guard. I was in Panama City Beach, Florida back in late 1985, and I had arrived to fill the position of a crewman on a 41-foot small boat at the station. Certain jobs were reserved for new members of the unit, and somehow they involved every task I had proven to be least proficient in. I painted, washed decks, cleaned oil spills, and assisted seasoned mechanics with routine engine work. It was less than a match made in Heaven, I tell ya.

Other duties involved being a rescue swimmer, and I could do that. An early life spent mostly along the banks of the Hobolochitto had made me proficient when it came to being around water. So my handyman skills as a crewman coupled with a part time responsibility to swim was a trade-off—a ‘wash’ if you will. “Seaman Johnson is terrible with his hands, but man, the boy sure can swim!” Well, that’s how the XO put it anyway.

It was while I was filling the billet as a crewman that I discovered another thing I was not good at, not at first anyway. A crewman was also required to steer the boat when the coxswain (boat captain) was busy performing other duties. The coxswain would call me into the cabin and tell me to take the wheel, for example, and order me to keep the boat on a heading of 270 degrees. Sounds simple enough to someone who has never done it (it did to me) but there is a lot more to it than that.

Placed conspicuously in front of the helm, or steering wheel, sat the binnacle. Housed inside its glass dome was the compass; an outer ring displaying measurements in degrees. To keep a heading of 270 degrees, you turned the steering wheel (helm) and the compass moved in response. As the compass turned you could line up the boat at whatever degree matched the required course. At first, it is hard to handle, because in order to get the boat to turn and line up with the correct course, I learned that you had to go against what appeared to be normal. In other words, if I wanted to make the compass move to the right, I needed to turn the wheel left, and vice-versa. Eventually I was able to perform this task without too much forethought—I had to learn to ignore my instincts and what felt right to me and instead follow what I understood by merely watching the compass.

This worked fine until the coxswain had to navigate through a tight channel. At that point he would call out to me things like ‘starboard five degrees’ or ‘to the port seven degrees’ and I’d have to look at my hands to get it straight in my mind that port was left and starboard was right--much like a second grader counting his fingers during a simple math exercise. Behind the boat, meanwhile, our wake would usually resemble the path of a snake that had spent far too much time in the wine cellar. Once again, I found that although I enjoy navigation and can read maps better than the average person, when it came to putting that knowledge to use via my traitorous hands—I was simply no good at it, period. I did get better with time and experience, and eventually I learned to trust the compass and ignore what my mechanically-challenged hands wanted to do.

I’ve found it’s the same way when you are performing a daily walk with G_d. Sometimes the world shows you ways that seem to make more sense in life, or it feels right to go routes you shouldn’t. It’s hard to be like Josiah: “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” My ways are not His ways, and what might appear to be a good idea or a correct choice of action on my part may not always line up with what He has planned for me. I have to let go and trust in Him—in so doing my course lines up to the true bearing that He would have me take.

The Hill

I passed an old reminder on the way home from town the other day. The memory, although as fresh in my mind as if it only happened the day before, has assuredly been placed in the annals of a more carefree time many years ago. Funny how time works—it sincerely counts and keeps counting.

It was the summer of my fourteenth year, and I had put in another hard day on the sod farm that employed me during those sweltering July afternoons between the school terms. Unrecollectable to me is the ‘why’ we went to the store, a memory only that Danna and I were in my dad’s Datsun pickup truck. (Datsun is now known as Nissan to you Generation Xers) I was driving illegally without a license, not uncommon back then as long as you didn’t get too wild with it, because traffic and rules were sparse compared to what we‘ve grown to accept in our current world—even in places like South Mississippi. Besides, I needed the practice, as an official Highway Patrol driving test awaited me in my not-too-distant future.

The store we frequented in Carriere has long since gone, a victim of progress; but a good Barq’s root beer and Snicker’s bar can still be had at even the newer stores in our area. (Some things will never change, not really!) I pulled away from the store with merely a slight grinding of gears while we drank and ate our sugary surplus. Meanwhile we talked of things in a way only teen-aged brothers and sisters can, at least when they will cotton to each other’s company long enough to do so. In fact, we discussed so much that before I knew it, I was fast approaching the hill.

The hill is still there today, but it’s been tamed somewhat over the years by the automatic transmission. I know because I smiled during my aforementioned recollection when I saw it the other day. The hill would probably still prove to be a monumental task to a new driver if they happened to be operating a stick-shift today—do those things still exist? I’m not sure. Those manual transmissions, replete with gear-shifters and clutches, have gone the way of things like candy cigarettes and Sunday-school pins, or full service gas stations and prayer in schools.

So anyway, once you approached the hill you were all-in; there was no option of turning back on a less-provoking road. At the top of the hill stood a stop sign, a red octagon representing many broken dreams in the pantheon of all the novice motorists of our time. I’m not really stretching it when I say my blood ran cold and sweat popped out on my brow as I realized my mistake in choosing that route. But I could not show it as it would have been all the opportunity my sister required to tease me—an exercise she was duly noted for. I decided to drop down to second gear and reduce my speed to a crawl, enough so that I could roll slowly through the stop sign, make my turn, and be on my way without too much heckling from Danna. Unfortunately, a quick glance toward the crossing street sealed my undoing—a car was approaching down that very highway I was slated to turn onto.

Grimacing, I pushed in the clutch while pressing on the brake with my other foot, stopping at the top of the hill while waiting for the car to pass. Motion in the rearview mirror compounded the sad situation for me; I watched nervously as another truck arrived behind me. The car passed, and Newton’s laws being what they are, my vehicle began to roll backward as I released the brake in an attempt to reengage the engine. To top off my precarious quandary and add teeth to it, the guy behind me began to impatiently honk his horn. I figured the only thing worse at that moment would be for Danna to begin yelling at me—not to say I wasn’t used to it.

However, just as things reached a point where I was eying the mirror for an opportunity to back into the ditch, she did something totally unexpected and out of character. She reached her foot over and worked the gas pedal without being asked, thus enabling me to slip the clutch and escape my near-vertical dilemma. I was thinking about how nice she had been to do that—and how unlike she had been inclined to do so at other times—when due to the excessive hill and mechanical principles in play, the back tires on the truck began to spin wildly. Unfortunately, before I could comprehend and adjust to what was happening, they caught traction and we were propelled across the road at a high rate of speed and into a ditch—hitting it with such uncontrolled force that we crossed it airborne in a jump that would have made Bo Duke proud. We finally came to a vehicular-silent resting place in an abandoned lumber yard near the railroad tracks.

Sheepishly, I gathered my wits enough to re-fire the engine, and taking off much more professionally we made it back to the road and were soon on our way home. Danna assured me she wouldn’t report my mishap to mom and dad—but that’s not what I was worried about at all. I didn’t want her to alert my friends as to my challenged driving skills. In the end, she told no one, and for a few weeks at least, I was deeply indebted to her for it.

I’d be remiss to say that it was the only time she helped me, really. Looking back, when we were young it seems as though she always had to bail me out or cover my shortcomings. I miss her even more today as a result of those memories, her life being lost way too soon a few years back.

In one of the most amazing verses of the Bible, Paul writes: “But G_d commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The hill recollection reminded me of another time when I realized I had no hope, no chance, and no way out. Christ took the blame for me, covering my sin and paying the price when I could not do so myself.

I didn’t have enough feet in the cab of that truck that day—too many peddles to press and inertia was dead-set against me. I needed help, and it was given graciously at the moment I needed it most without being asked for. Like my older sister, Jesus did the same thing for me, yet in a much more profound manner. His sacrifice keeps me out of the ditch and hides all of my sins from my Heavenly Father at the same time. And it’s not because I’m privileged or special in any way—what He did for me, he will surely do for you.

Me and Danna, circa 1964 or so.

Blue Birds and Black Birds

Nothing ceases to amaze me anymore these days, at least not within the realm of human actions and behavior. It has reached the point where the once-potent line between right and wrong is now and forever blurred into stoically soft shades of gray; while morals and shame are relics left relegated to the back burner of society. Are we too far gone to turn back the page to a time where certain things had true meaning and real value?

Probably so, I say.

My book is on Amazon, finally. Barnes and Noble are taciturn, still dragging their feet a little, but eventually they will come around—I feel it to be so. The Amazon guys have been great, and not a little forgiving for someone new to the publishing world. I was encouraged to set up an author page replete with a photo of yours truly and a biography that spanned at least 200 words. I chose a photo of me and my grand-daughter, which was easy because she is precious, but the bio was a little harder to come by. Despite sundry appearances to the contrary, I am a very modest person—an introvert if you will. Conversations that orbit myself will always make me nervous, although in the meantime I have no problem telling stories. I can go on and on in that regard.

And I’m digressing because it has been a while since I posted in this blog; at least for me it has.

So Fast Asleep needed some keywords attached to it, you know, so those search engines could grind and churn and potential readers could actually find my literary monstrosity on Amazon’s website when they choose to do so. I’ve previously been through the keyword spiel with agents and publishers, so I was good there. I added words like Christian, and apocalyptic, and thriller, etc. to the called-for cadre. But that’s when the trouble began.

My author page attaches those words to forum pages that are associated with the keywords I chose. That way, while readers are debating the purchase of the book, they can join ongoing discussions on the related topics should they decide to do so. A Christian forum? Do tell. What a great idea! Sign me up, because I love to talk about the Bible and G_d, and salvation, and any spiritual topic in general!

Not so fast.

Browsing within two or three “Christian” discussion threads, I’d say 80% of the posters were decidedly non-Christian and vehemently vocal about it. It would appear their only goal was to ridicule anyone and everyone that believed in G_d, and even delved deeper along the sordid lines of blaspheme and things I will not mention here. In the end I vacated the forums and wished I had been able to choose other keywords for my book. I’d hate for someone to go to my author page (I was actually quite proud of it) and be greeted by vile comments from those riding a proverbial greased pole to the nether regions of hell. (Is that judgmental?)(Sue me!)Disappointed and full of chagrin, I logged off with a sigh and decided to do something else with my morning.

Yet I wondered, had my keywords included topics such as atheism, wiccans, or pornography, would the discussions on those forums be as vile and slanderous as the Christian forums had proven to be? Would Christians in overwhelming numbers migrate to those topics, spouting religion, punishment, and eternal damnation in unmitigated displays of protest against those carnal things?

Probably not.

Thinking along those lines, I’m again reminded of the irony represented here—a Christian forum inundated with comments from people (by their own admission) who have no dog in the hunt, so to speak, while the inverse is probably and unaccountably not so. Thus, the axiom that blue birds do not nest with black birds should be proven in these areas, statistically beyond the metaphor—so why do unbelievers en masse descend, abounding with pent up hatred, to forums dedicated to conversations on G_d and scripture?

Maybe it is simply more proof that we are in for it. The Days of Vengeance have started clandestinely and subtly while we as Christians were fast asleep dreaming of 401ks and American Idol winners.

Jesus prophesied of those days to come: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.” We just might be closer to those days than we know, and His Words not as far-fetched as we yet may ponder them to be—at least not if we’re awake and listening. The approaching hoof-beats are just over the horizon.