For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bring On The Kingdom

Ok, so there will be a serious point here, but first I'm going to rant a bit about the band Kutless whose song is the basis for the serious point.  If you want to skip the rant, scroll down to "End Of Rant."

So, those who are still here.  I've always loved Kutless.  One of my all time favorite songs (music, lyrics and even video) is "Shut Me Out".  I love that era of the band.  More recently they have released a few "worship" projects, which are good, but lacking the band's old driving edge.  So when we were told there was a new project, returning to the band's old sound, I was stoked.  

Sadly, only a very few songs meet the expectation.  Don't get me wrong.  The rest of the album is really good.  It's just that I was expecting a little more....umph.  The opening track, "Tear it Up", delivers in spades.  But from there on, well, not as much. 

However, as I said, this is still a good record.  And while this post isn't just intended as an album review, I had to say all that to work my way up to the song "Bring it On".  While not a classic rocker in the old Kutless style, this is one of my favorite songs on the project.  I love this message, which leads me to the point.....

End of Rant

The new Kutless song, "Bring it On", shares an amazing and encouraging lesson.  And it couldn't be more timely.  With all the recent "gunk" happening in the world, we need more than ever to have the encouragement that comes from knowing that our Lord is returning, and bringing with Him His glorious Kingdom.  Bring it On! 

The song goes like this: 
All the pain in the headlines
All the heartache of our crimes
The innocent, the helpless, here and gone
So we call out to Your name, save us, from our shame.
We’re crying out to heaven, how long…

There’s a new world on the way
When this one is gone, gone, gone
We’re ready Jesus, bring it on, bring it on
We’ve had enough of darkness
We’re waiting for the dawn
There’s a kingdom coming
Bring it on, bring it on, bring it on

We are holding, to the promise
Even now you are with us
Our every hope is in what You will do
Every wrong will be made right
Every tear will run dry
We’re praying that day is coming soon

We’re waiting… We’re waiting for You Jesus
We’re waiting, for You

Wow. What a hopeful message.  We are indeed tired of the darkness, longing for the light, looking for our Savior's return....Bring it on!

Again, what a timely message.  There is, indeed, so much pain and suffering; so much evil on the loose; so much...darkness.  We need the hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.  I know that there are those who criticize Christians for thinking about that coming Kingdom.  They say that our heads are "in the clouds" and that thinking of the Kingdom/heaven is just an escape from the reality of this world.  I love C. S. Lewis' classic response to that in his book The Problem of Pain.

   We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky’, and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. 
   Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.

Amen.  Bring it on!  In fact, our Lord Himself chose to give us encouragement to face the struggles of this life with the promise that "Behold, I am coming soon."  This is what every true believer longs for. This is what we are working towards.  It's not "escaping" this world, it's putting this world in its proper perspective.  This world is fleeting.  This world is temporary.  This world is coming to an end, and each and every one of us is looking at eternity square in the face.  

Either we will look to that eternity with great hope and expectation, because of the shed blood of Christ which provides atonement for the sin that would separate us from God; or we look to it with dread, or not at all.  Regardless, our belief in it or not, hope in it or not, eagerness for it or not, doesn't change the reality of the Kingdom's coming.  So either we will run to the cross of Christ and seek His salvation and live every day in this world for the Kingdom and in light of the Kingdom; or we will ignore it all, and when it comes, find ourselves in a worse situation than any darkness in this world could ever prepare us for.  

In the  meantime, even while in this world, Christians still live for the Kingdom.  We live with Kingdom goals in mind. We live with Kingdom principles and values.  And yes, we look forward with great hope and longing for the coming of that Kingdom in all it's fullness.  Bring it on!

Now, for your viewing pleasure, you'll find the video for this song below.  

And as an added bonus, I added the video for Shut Me Out.  Just because.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanking God for Our Veterans

In his book The Truth War, John MacArthur writes about Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He quotes the General’s well known axiom that “war is hell.” Sherman later in life said simply, “I am sick and tired of fighting.” MacArthur then says this:

Whatever we might think of General Sherman as a man, there is something commendable and courageous about his soldiers’ perspective of battle. We ought to despise warfare with every fiber of our souls. War is one of the most calamitous consequences of evil. It is catastrophic. It is always ugly. It should never be glamorized, and no sane person should ever desire the conflict or savor the strife of war. There are times, however, when evil makes warfare absolutely necessary. And when we have a moral obligation to fight, we should never shirk that duty, compromise with the enemy, or enter the battle halfheartedly. As detestable as warfare of any kind might be, there are causes for which not fighting is a far greater evil.”

MacArthur is of course introducing a study on spiritual warfare, and is very clear that as the Church, our cause is on that plane, not on the plane of the physical battle field. However, his point about warfare in general is a very good one. Sometimes there are causes for which not fighting is a far greater evil. And when we come face to face with one of those causes, I for one am grateful for the United States Military.

I can remember going to the airport to pick my brother up after his basic training in the Marine Corps. There had been such a change in him, the way he carried himself, the look in his eye, etc. that he nearly walked right past us without recognizing him. Say what you want about our military, but my thought after this introduction to the Marines, was simply “if we ever go to war, I’m glad these are the guys out there fighting on our side.”

I’m not just going to brag on Marines. My dad served in the Army, and my brother later “switched” to be a recruiter for the Naval Reserves, a position he just recently retired from. The US Military as a whole is the best in the world, bar none, and we ought to be thankful every day for the work they do protecting our freedoms and the freedoms of others around the world.

I’m not a “war-monger;” I don’t relish war. As MacArthur says, it’s ugly and detestable. However, it’s often necessary in this sin-spoiled world to protect us from the spread of evil. And again, I am grateful for those who have given of themselves to serve this nation throughout our history. While we have many faults, and I’m often quick to point them out; as they say: “It’s the best ship floatin’!”

Today we officially recognize and honor our US Veterans. Hopefully, we can do that more often than once a year. Hopefully, we will take the time to give a brief thank you to any active serviceman we might cross paths with, and regularly think to show some appreciation for those who have served in years gone by. Above all, let’s thank God for their service and pray faithfully for those serving now. And more than just a token song during the 7th inning stretch at a ball game, let’s pray for God to truly bless America.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Happy National Saxophone Day

National Saxophone Day!  Wow!  These holidays keep getting better and better (and the only thing I seem to be posting about these days...but I digress). 

For those who don't know, the saxophone was created in 1840 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musical instrument maker.  He actually invented 8 different sizes/types of sax: Sopranino, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Contrabass, and Subcontrabass.  Just a bit of history, there. 

I think I've mentioned here before that I used to be a bit of a sax player. Mostly the tenor variety.  Marching band, concert band, etc.  But I loved Jazz Band.  I even won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in high school and was voted Most Talented.  (Yeah, I'm still livin' off the past! Here I am with fellow MT recipient Laura Purcell)  
Here's a recording of our jazz band in 1982.  In addition to Frank's amazing trombone solo, and Kevin and Greg's lights out drum battle, this song features a freshman tenor sax player on the main melody trio (I think, with trumpet and flute).  You'll have to clink this link to open the page and play the song. Sorry, not computer savvy enough to figure it out.

My oldest son carried on the tradition, playing my tenor in the Play His Praises Homeschool Band.  He's even played for church a few times, as have I.  Neither of us are ever going to sell out concert halls, but here's a little lesson from this rambling post.

God gives all of us various gifts and abilities.  Music, writing, preaching, art, whatever.  Not all of us have the same level of ability, but all of us are called to use what God has given us for His glory.  He has given us so many wonderful gifts in this life, like Adolphe's sax (sorry for the bad play on words there).  I'm sure Mr. Sax had no idea what would be done with his little invention over the years; how many times that instrument would be used for the honor and glory of Christ.  Sometimes by professionals.  Sometimes by a father and son in the Ozarks who just love music and love Jesus and love it when the two come together.  Find what God has given you a love for and a talent for, no matter how small, and use it for His glory. 

Now, in a real celebration of the day, here are some amazing uses of this wonderful instrument.  This first one I've shared before.  It's a great rendition of "It Is Well", with a brilliant sax solo battle beginning about 1:50.

And here's one of my favorite sax players, Dave Thrush (once played with Steve Taylor & Some Band), doing a bit of seasonal music for us.

And one last bit from the guy who ranks way up on my top favorites, this from my favorite album of his.  Tom Scott from the Apple Juice record.

Enjoy Saxophone Day everyone.  Feel free to leave comments and links to videos of your own favorite sax player.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reformation Day / Halloween - Revisted Thoughts

Last year, as we came to this wonderful time of the year when we celebrate Reformation Day, I resorted to sharing some links to other articles.  This year, it's even worse.  I'm resorting to repeating last year's post about sharing links about Reformation Day.  For years, our family has chosen not to participate in the Halloween festivities, and instead we've chosen to focus on Reformation Day. These reflect my thoughts on the "why" behind that.  

I would love to be able to come up with my own profound thoughts, but we all know that rarely happens.  So instead, I'll simply share links to two wonderfully written, well thought out articles about how Christians should view Halloween, and then share a wonderful graphic from  Then I'll say, "Yeah, what they said."

And here is the graphic: (click on it to follow to's page)

For those who read this far, here's a little bonus, just for fun.  Happy Reformation Day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Commercial for the Creative Kids

Another shameless self-promotion post.  Well....not actually "self" promotion.  But maybe "selfish" since I just want to introduce you to some wonderful creative ventures, which just happen to feature my kids.   But don't let that dissuade you from checking these things out.  Just because they are related to me doesn't me these things aren't worthwhile! 

In the last post here, I posted some of the writings the kids have produced.  But on a more "formal" front, check out these sites. 

Just getting off the ground, MIM is a publishing effort from the three writers who brought you The Lost Scribes collaborations:  Falls the Shadow and Burns the Fire.  Look forward to wonderful things from this outlet: novels, short stories, anthologies, etc. oldest, who just happens to be one of the Lost Scribes mentioned above, also does some graphic design work.  This site shows several samples of her work, the highlight of which is the cover design for fellow Scribe's novel Forged Steel.   (Available at Amazon by following the link)

 If you or someone you know is looking for a great looking book cover, Magpie Designs is a great place to check out.

And speaking of that amazing book cover for Forged Steel, the photograph for that cover was provided by none other than...

Though not officially "in business", our son has been doing more and more with his camera. And in addition to providing the photo for the above book cover, he also is the subject in that photo.  Wow, photographer and cover model! (He'll kill me for saying that).  Anyway, he's strongly considering turning that into more than just a hobby, so if you're looking for pictures for graphic design project, or someone to take some family photos....(admittedly he prefers photographing "nature" to people, but he's done a good job with both).  

Well, I guess that's enough for now.  The other two have their own creative projects as well, but I thought I'd do a little bit of promotion for these sites.  Check 'em out.  Take advantage of their services if you can.  Thanks for your time.  Now back to regularly scheduled programming (like that's even happening right now!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

National Poetry Day

Seems like all I've been able to get posted lately are these silly little holidays.  Well, Constitution Day isn't silly.  And, well, Coffee Day isn't silly either.  Those are serious things.  But anyway...

In honor of National Poetry Day, I thought I'd share a few things from the Weldon Family.  The girls each have a collection of their writings at Apricot Pie, among other places, so I'll borrow a couple favorites from that.  They may not like me sharing, but hey, they posted it online so...

From LoriAnn, several years ago.
Rainbow Mud
The storm cleared.
Glancing out my window
I spotted something new—
A double-decker

I gasped.
Two perfect arches
Mirrored one above the other
Blushingly fresh
Washed clean by rain
Blown dry by thunder

I ran outside.
Didn’t bother to close the door
Didn’t bother to put on shoes
Didn’t bother to walk

In a ladylike fashion
I ran
Hurtling down six half-flights of stairs
Tripping over a banister
Jamming my thumb on the door
To see the rainbow

Outside, I paused.
My breath coming in
Little huffs and puffs
I stared in wonder
Just stood
Other people stared at me
But I just grinned
Staring at the

I spun in a circle
In the wet, rainbow-dribbled grass
My toes wet
Coated with itchy grass clippings
Splash in the puddle
The rainbow drippings

Kick at the water
Laugh at the sky
Smirk at those who carefully look away
Rainbow madness

And as it fades—
Such a sad moment—
I turn and walk back inside
Sighing in satisfaction

I step onto the tile of the front hall
And my foot slips
I look down
And giggle,
Wiggling my feet
Rainbow mud between my toes

From Katrina, also several years ago
The ink curls around itself
Twisting in curlicues and
Straightening in lines
It weaves a delicate spider web
As the pen ticks across the parchment
The individual fibers of the web
Glisten in the sun
They join
Twist and form
The web shines brightly
The ink stitches a story as it spills onto the page
Looping and riding
On the tossing ocean of the mind
As imagination becomes solid
The vapors settle
They relax
The pen scratches dry
Is filled
And begins again
The strokes transform into letters
The letters form words
And together
Words become tales
Stories and songs
Then they fall before the reader’s eye
Open to them
Like an ear to a whispered secret
The reader breathes in the words
Remembers the story
Drinks in the poetry
The pen
At rest
Is nearly forgotten
As the words are repeated again and again
But it all started with
A single line
A single drop of ink

And a recent "song" from Kenaniah.  (His obvious obsession right now comes through.)
Quintuple Steps, Warped Wall
Yeah, Yeah, I've tried them all
Salmon Ladder, close to the top
Into the water that's where I drop

American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior
This is the fight for Mount Midoriyama
American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior
This course will make you want to cry for mamma

Cliff Hanger, Jumping Spider
These will make you want your pacifier
Devil Steps, Wind Chimes
So let me hear you all cry

Repeat Chorus

Nathanael's poetry is visual, photographs.  Visit his photography page here.  But here is one of my favorites.

Well, there you have it. Happy National Poetry Day.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy National Coffee Day!

(Another lazy repost from last year, but hey, it's still Coffee Day, so celebrate)

Such a spree of holidays in September.  Constitution Day.  Talk Like A Pirate Day.  Now, the high point of the September holiday calendar:  National Coffee Day.  How did I not know this thing existed for so long?

Ironically, a friend just posted an article for me on the issue of whether or not coffee comes as the result of natural selection or by divine creation.  Duh?  That’s a no brainer.  Only an intelligent benevolent Creator could come up with something so blessed!

Also recently, I had a friend compose a song parody for me singing the praises of the elixir of life.  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you. 


by Gregg Metcalf

(To the tune of “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton)

If you wanna wake up you’ve gotta grab a cup.
If you wanna get through the day don’t act like a pup

She is so sweet, she is so sweet, she is so sweet


When you get those Monday blues she is always good news
When you need a clear mind and don’t have much time


If your head is in a spin pour another cup again
Don’t forget this fact or you’ll fall off the track

[Chorus 2x]

She is so sweet, she is so sweet, she is so sweet

Thanks, Gregg. 

I considered celebrating by taking a tour of the best shops in the area, but alas, an empty wallet and a broken down truck have prevented that.  However, for the rest of you, I’ve also heard that some big name chain restaurants are offering free brew to celebrate the day.  Not bad.

So read the articles, enjoy the song, and celebrate the blessed bean.  And though I’ve shared it before, here’s another little favorite ode to coffee.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why the Pope is Dangerous

That headline ought to get me on some watch list somewhere! But all I'm trying to point out is the danger of a “popular” pope to an American church that is already so wishy washy that it doesn't know what it stands for, if anything.

Obviously, I'm writing this because Pope Francis is visiting these United States.  It's a big deal for a lot of folks.  It has huge political ramifications.  But I'm not smart enough to address all that.  So I'll simply stick with the theological ramifications.

Folks, the pope is not a biblically orthodox Christian.  He denies salvation by grace, opting for the centuries old works salvation the Roman Catholic Church teaches.  He's an idolater:  While he hasn't been as brazen about Mary worship as his predecessor, he still holds to the same doctrines which elevate a godly servant, Mary, to the level of deity/co-redeemer with Christ.  He doesn't believe in the sufficiency of God's Holy Word, resting instead on centuries of tradition, and so on. 

You know the arguments.  They are the same ones Protestants and Catholics have divided over for a hundreds of years.  And that's the very reason why all this hoopla over the pope and his visit to the US is so dangerous.

By all accounts, Francis is a genuinely nice guy.  He helps the poor.  He seems concerned with injustice.  All admirable things.  Things that tempt some tepid Christians to forget all those theologically significant differences I just mentioned, along with a host of others.  And that's dangerous.

Dangerous, because when we stop relying on salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, then we have just left the realm of biblical truth and started following the whims of men once again.  And when we do that, we are on dangerous ground indeed. Eternally dangerous. 

But, alas, this is the same American church that follows after false teachers like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.  This is the same American church where survey after survey shows a serious lack of biblical knowledge.  So why shouldn't they flock to listen to one more false teacher?  Because, truth is still truth.  Scripture is still Scripture.  And God is the One who sets the standard, not men.

Of course, we're not the first to let down our guard and accept watered down papal teachings.  Charles Spurgeon cried out in his day:  "I am astonished, and yet more astonished when I come to turn it over, at the want of earnestness that there is in the Protestantism of the present age... The Protestants; and the Protestantism of England is the pay-master of the Pope. I am ashamed that sons of the Reformers...should bow themselves before the beast, and give so much as a single farthing to the shrine of the devil’s firstborn son. Take heed to yourselves, ye Protestants, lest ye be partakers of her plagues; touch her not, lest ye be defiled. Give a drachm to her, or a grain of incense to her censors, ye shall be partakers of her adulteries and partakers of her plagues."

And you thought I was being a little rough!  Take heed indeed, brothers.  Please, appreciate a guy who helps the poor and cries against injustice.  But, also, please don't be taken in by the false gospel he proclaims.  Remember the blood of martyrs shed to stand against that false gospel. The pope's Christ is not the Christ of Scripture.  And there is “no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,” but the true Christ. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Happy Constitution Day!

(This has become an annual repost, but why reinvent the wheel, right?)

September 17, 1787.  A pretty good day in US history.  It was on this date that the U. S. Constitution was completed and signed.  55 men were involved altogether, including the writing and signing. (It's worth noting that nearly all were active members of Christian denominations, for those who say Christians have had nothing to offer...)   That makes today the 228th anniversary of that wonderful day.  So Happy Constitution Day.

You can celebrate in any number of ways.  You can find some of the online resources that give some basic information, fun facts, etc. about our Constitution.  (here or here for example)

You can read the Constitution.  It's one of the suggested ideas in the links above, and would be a good idea for every American.  It would be especially good for those serving in any branch of government, since so many seem to have never seen it before. 

Speaking of which, one way we could celebrate is to look back over the last few years and enumerate the various ways the Federal Government has violated the Constitution.  That would be a fun and educational experience, I'm sure. 

You could also celebrate Constitution Day by going right now and joining the Constitution Party. That way, you're already set for this next election cycle to try and restore our nation to its founding documents (a pipe dream, I know).  

Or you can simply do what the framers and signers of this grand, historical document did on a regular basis.  Get down on your knees and thank God for His generous blessings to this nation and seek His guidance for its future.  While it may be a radical concept to many today, it was common practice (and common sense) to our founding fathers. 

But however you celebrate, you should celebrate.  This document, if you are an American, is why you have the freedoms you have, including the reading of this post right now.  So remind yourself of this important part of our heritage.  Happy Constitution Day!