Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Happy Earth Day 2019

Embracing Diversity

Let’s face it, I have a wide variety of people who follow this blog. They range from the ultra-right-wing conservative branches of the political and religious spectrum to the left-wing, tree-hugging,  tofu-eating, god-hating leftist trolls who do nothing all day but listen for billy goats to cross their pitiful bridges. Obviously, I’m happy you’re here reading this, no matter who you are.

It may be strange to hear a conservative Christian say it, but I embrace this diversity! My arms are extended and waiting to offer hugs to anyone and everyone who would let me show love. I may not affirm how you choose to live, and I may disagree with what you believe, but at least I care about you.

That being said, I know someone is going to be offended by what I’m about to write. However, there’s always another day and another blog post that you can enjoy.

As the climate fluctuates, so do the posts of this blog 😉

Another Earth Day

A lot of melted glacial water has floated to the ocean since the first days of Earth Day celebrations. Predictions have come and gone, and yet the world is still flowing right along. A little warmer, maybe, but still here.

Early predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970 guaranteed that we would not be around until the year 2000. Some predictions had the world ending by 1985. AOC says we’ll be done for in 12 years.

Do I believe that the earth might be a little warmer than it was in 1970? I guess it could be. I mean, I haven’t really been checking the temperature every day since I was three years old. But what I do know, is that we still have four seasons every year. Just like it’s always been, seasons change, and so will the epochs of nature.

If global warming is truly a thing, do I believe that man is contributing to it? No, I don’t. It has been warmer, then it got colder (they called it the ice age). Then, for some reason, long before man used coal and gasoline-powered engines to industrialize the world, things got warmer! Man had nothing to do with it!

A Proper Perspective 

What I do believe is that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He created both the earth and day, and night, and time, and matter, and us. This is His world, not ours; but we are to be good stewards of what He has given us to manage.

I do not believe it is the Christian thing to do to waste resources, t0 pollute the environment, to run crazy with all of our self-pleasing pursuits at the risk of damaging creation. God cares about his creation, which is why one day He will remove the curse that is upon it because of sin. However, because creation belongs to the Creator, it is not the creation that we should be worshiping; we should be celebrating the One who made it.

If kept in the proper perspective, World Earth Day could be a good thing. On the other hand, if all it is meant to be is an anti-capitalist, anti-God, celebration of a deified planet, one where humans are taught to be the scourge of the earth, rather than the epitome of creation, you can keep it!

In reality, I sort of feel like paraphrasing the apostle Paul when he was writing to the church at Corinth: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you” (1 Thessalonians 5:1).

Just take care of what God has given you, praise God for it, and leave the season changing to him (Daniel 2:21).

PS, here’s a great article for today by reporter John Stossel. 

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Filed under blogging, community, current events, General Observations, Global Warming, Weather, World View

Bunny Essentials?

 

Whilst shopping for dietary essentials like food, my attention was caught by what appeared to be a section dedicated to Easter items.

There I saw bunny ears, colored plastic eggs, stuffed bunnies, a few fuzzy rabbits, and a sign or two that read, “Bunny Crossing Hopping.” But what I did not expect to see was what has now become an “essential” in Easter bunny must-haves…

A crossbow.

Why? Seriously, why?

I know, none of this has anything to do with the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but even from a pagan perspective, why?

Essential? What part of bunny hopping and Easter egg hunts does a weapon play? Instead of “pin the tail on the donkey,” are we now teaching our biblically illiterate toddlers how to hurl a missile downrange?

What must needs be shot? IF the crossbow with two (count them, 2) arrows is essential, what is it that must be shot with a crossbow arrow and nothing else? I mean, the arrows are “essential,” or are they not? A shotgun with two (count them, 2) cartridges wouldn’t suffice?

Well, let’s be logical about this . . . If I were to go purchase some shotgun shells for hunting, odds are there would be some ducks printed on the box, if, of course, they were meant for duck hunting. If I were to go buy a deer rifle, and the company selling it wanted me to know it was great for the job, I might expect to see a deer somewhere in the packaging.

What do we see on the package of the “essential” crossbow and two (count’em, 2) arrows? The supposed Easter Bunny and a chicken.

Since when was it a thing to shoot the Easter Bunny??? And, more than that, who hunts chicken? You keep ’em in pens and wring their scrawny necks or just buy them already nugget-shaped.

Next thing we’ll be seeing are bear traps being sold as “Christmas Essentials.” I mean, there’s nothing more necessary to a wonderful Noel than catching that sneaky Chris Kringle coming down the chimney, right?

Oh, what fun!

I guess if you’re gonna have something resurrecting from the dead it’s ESSENTIAL you kill it first.

Got it. It all makes sense, now!

He was pierced for our transgressions with the bolt from a crossbow, then placed in a colored egg with some chocolate and jelly beans. 

I knew the “essential” truth of Easter was in there somewhere. Yep. 

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Filed under animals, Easter, General Observations

Rescuing Discarded Valor

The Would-be Soldier

It was in the mid-70’s, when I was just a kid, that playing “army” was a thing I loved doing. I had green fatigues from an army surplus store, a WWII-era ammo belt, a canteen, and even a metal helmet to take out into the woods where I’d spend hours fighting imaginary Germans. Needless to say, going squirrel hunting in the mountains with my .22 cal. Marlin rifle offered a perfect opportunity for my imagination to take me to another place and time, to play the warrior in my mind.

Later, twice in the 90’s, I attempted to enlist in the military, but I was turned down twice, both times for a eye condition (glaucoma) that I never actually had. Funny thing, both my dad and my grandfather had volunteered for service, but they were turned down, too! But at least it was in our nature… we were Tennesseans, after all (aka “Volunteers”).

So, I’ve always had a part of me that wanted to be a soldier, a warrior, a hero, a patriot. Unfortunately/fortunately – it’s hard to tell – I never qualified to wear the uniform for real. That is why I have the utmost respect for our servicemen and servicewomen who voluntarily stand in the gap to defend our freedom, especially those who faced actual combat. not squirrels.

That brings me to the real reason for writing this, today: the memory of something I found as a kid while “dumpster diving.”

Discarded Valor

Back when I was younger, one of the things my dad and I did as a “hobby” was something called “dumpster diving.” All that means is that we would often scavenge through dumpsters full of trash, even walk through junk yards, to see what people would throw away. Believe it or not, people through away perfectly good stuff!

One day, for instance, my dad looked inside a dumpster not far from where he worked and found a bag of golf clubs. Yes, a whole bag of golf clubs. Only one of them was broken, which led us to conclude that whoever used them last gave up the sport after one last slice into the woods. Nevertheless, since we had never owned any clubs before, this gave my dad and me an opportunity to practically (although not intentionally) reenact the Three Stooges’ on a short course of nine holes.

But on another day, while waiting for my dad to get off work, after my mom had dropped me off at his shop, I went dumpster diving on my own. That day I found what I thought at the time to be totally cool – medals and pictures, including a Purple Heart in its box, all from the Vietnam War. These items fascinated me so much that I took them home and kept them for years. It wasn’t until later in life that I even considered the reason these items were in the trash.

Fast forward to today. This morning I sat once again with veterans from conflicts ranging from World War 2 to Operation Enduring Freedom. Every Wednesday that meet as a part of Operation Song, an outreach/therapy/ministry meant to help veterans cope by telling their stories through song. Click HERE to learn more.

Once again, listening to the stories of what our veterans have gone through, and not just those who saw combat, I was reminded how valuable they are, each one of them. Their sacrifice, manifested in so many ways, is worth remembering and honoring. And today that got me to thinking back to that purple heart I found in the dumpster nearly 40 years ago.

Who threw it away? Was it the soldier? A family member? Someone just cleaning out the trash from an abandoned apartment? Either way, no matter the reason, somebody, maybe even the veteran himself, failed to see the value in what they were tossing out. What it represented to them was nothing more than the left-overs from a TV dinner.

Rescue the Valor

 

A lot of soldiers, sailors, and marines feel that way about themselves. They feel like no one cares, like all they did and all they sacrificed is now worthless. But they are so wrong.

The last thing any service member or service member’s family needs to feel is that their sacrifice, whether in time or blood or both (including the tangible relics of their sacrifice) are worthless.

It’s past time that we start looking through the “dumpsters” for those discarded treasures. We need to reclaim them, along with their memories, and put them back in the places of honor they deserve.

We need to be about rescuing the valor that some have discarded. It NEVER loses value. 

If you’re a veteran, you have a song.

 

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Filed under America, community, General Observations

Powerful Sales Video with Spiritual Application

Literally, no more than 3 minutes ago, I watched the video I’m sharing with you this morning.

Two days ago I got a phone call from a recruiter with the company behind the video and she promised to send me a couple of emails. In one of the emails was a link to this video.

Please don’t think I’m trying to sell you or recruit you into anything. Just watch the video below and see if you get the same reaction I did.

What a POWERFUL reminder that behind every smile is a story. For me, it is a powerful reminder that behind every face sitting in a pew (or on a cushy chair) in church, there is a life, a story.

Twenty years ago I was suicidal, taking lots of anti-depressants, and going to counseling multiple times a week. I came close to being admitted to a facility for my own safety. At the same time, I was going to church every time the doors were open, listening to the music and the preaching, doing my best to lie with my expressions.

How many other people do the same thing? How many people put up a front, build walls, and hide behind a false smile?

This video broke my heart for people: the lost, the broken, the hurting, the lonely, the scared, the abused, and the depressed.

It’s a reminder that every time I preach, every time I visit or knock on a door, every time I prayer-walk a street, there are little “stories” floating over people’s heads that only God can read.

They need Jesus to make their stories His-story.

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Filed under Depression, General Observations, ministry

“The Widow” – A Quick Review

I Binged

Since I have been, once again, staying at home and unable to work (for the time being), I actually found myself binge-watching a series on Amazon Prime.

I am not much of a TV watcher anymore, but every once in a while I get caught up in a series. When it comes to binge-watching a series, there’s only been a couple: “24” (seasons 3-5) and “Cobra Kai.” Believe me, I’m looking forward to the second season of “Cobra Kai” this month!

But just yesterday and today I spent 7 hours of my life watching a “The Widow” on Amazon Prime, and it left me emotionally drained.

Africa

I didn’t take the time to look to see where the filming actually took place, but “The Widow” was definitely filmed in Africa somewhere. After having been to Ethiopia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, I could tell the scenery was legit, even inside the homes.

But what really drained me was the pain and suffering so rampant in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Poverty is one thing, but hopelessness without Christ is totally different. And that’s all I could see throughout this series.

Sure, there was poverty, as in not having food and shelter and “stuff,” but the real poverty displayed throughout the series was the poverty of the soul. It was in every scene, every character, every plot twist.

People can complain all they want to about America and our president, but if there is ANYTHING that has made America “great,” it’s the undercurrent of a Judeo/Christian ethic that holds together the moral fabric of our society and is the foundation of our laws. Even at our worst, we are not like the Congo. At least here we have the concept that every individual has intrinsic value – not there.

The whole idea of child soldiers and all they go through is sickening.

The Widow

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t even try to explain this series. The best I can do is tell you that there is a woman who thinks her husband died in a plane crash in Africa, but later finds out he is not dead. She sets out on a mission to find him and find out why he hasn’t contacted her.

It’s complicated and takes a little while for the series to pick up speed. But what slows it down, the developing of characters, is necessary to fully realize the scope of what is to unfold.

There is an LGBT (lesbian) plot twist in an episode or two, one that I feel was totally unnecessary to the story and must have been added to appeal to that particular demographic. Other than that, there’s little by way of offensive subject matter, that is, except for the graphic nature of violence and despair.

If I do any more binge-watching, I hope I find something a little more uplifting. 

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Filed under Countries, General Observations, Movie review, places

A Reflection, Nonetheless

Real preachers can be distinguished from the rest of humanity by one almost-universal characteristic:

They are always on the lookout for illustrations.

In other words, when a normal, average citizen of earth sees something…anything…his or her immediate response is rarely to make a connection from that thing to some biblical truth. Such were the responses I got when I showed the attached picture to several non-preachers last night.

I’m going to show you a picture,” I said, “and I want you to tell me what you think when you see it.” The immediate responses were skeptical looks that assumed I was trying to trick them. But when they realized it was an honest question, they gave me honest answers.

“Uhhh, a star?” 

“Ummm, I don’t know. Is that a wheel?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Oh, that’s pretty. Interesting. What’s it supposed to be?” 

Their answers were typical, even though I’d hoped for better. But then again, they rarely alliterate points, read theology journals for fun, or know how to pronounce propitiation. They saw what was there, what was natural, what anybody other than a preacher would see.

But what did this preacher see?

Well, let’s start with what happened, first. I was getting ready to leave for a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning. As I stepped off the back porch and walked up to the door of our Sienna, I noticed the star-like reflection of morning sunlight on the asphalt. I had never seen a reflection like that before, so it captivated me.

No more than a second or two later, I considered how amazing it was that light from the sun was reflecting off that unwashed, brake dust-covered aluminum wheel. I mean, the van needs to be washed, and here there was such a beautiful reflection staring up at me. How could this be?

One would think the wheel would have needed to be perfectly clean, like an aluminum mirror, to reflect the light of the sun, right?

Wrong.

BOOM! I saw an illustration!

Name one of the Disciples/Apostles who were faultless. Go look at the the judges God used to deliver His people in the book of Judges…were they flawless? What about the book of Genesis? The Patriarchs were the poster children of dysfunctional human beings! Yet, simply because they were obedient to the call, God used them to project His glory to a darkened world.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got issues. I’m not perfectly polished and showroom quality. Yet, as long as I’m looking at the Son, allowing His light to shine upon me, then there’s going to be a reflection of His light.

I won’t be a perfect reflection…it might not be as bright or distinct as it could be…but it will be a reflection, nonetheless.

You see, it’s not about us; it’s about Jesus. Even when we are dusty from constantly driving through this world, God still wants to use us to reflect His light into the darkness, even if the light is dimmer and the image isn’t as distinct as it could be. All we need to do is be looking at Him.

I know this is true, because, the first thing I noticed wasn’t the wheel…

I saw the light. 

 

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Filed under General Observations, grace, Life Lessons, Preaching

Defining a Fool

April Fools Day

So, happy April Fools Day!…or, happy Atheists Day!…whichever you prefer.

You know, even though atheists think we are being smug and “snarky” by quoting Psalm 14:1, I believe the one who thinks there is no God really is a fool. But what I think matters little in the scheme of things; what matters is what God thinks.

That is why I came up with this list.

What is a Fool?

What is a fool?  Believe it or not, Scripture lists several characteristics of a foolish person. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

So, why not do this Jeff Foxworthy-style?  

You might be a fool if…

  1. You are always right in your own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
  2. You despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).
  3. You are unteachable (Proverbs 17:10; 23:9; 26:11)
  4. You’re always running your mouth, getting into trouble (Proverbs 18:6-7; 29:11).
  5. You are always trying to find yourself (Proverbs 18:2).
  6. You make fun of sin (Proverbs 14:9).
  7. You’re always meddling in other people’s business (Proverbs 20:3).
  8. You are a shame and a burden to your parents (Proverbs 17:25).
  9. You deny the obvious because the truth is inconvenient (Romans 1:18-22).
  10. You deny Jesus because you think the cross is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Don’t be a fool.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Preaching