Disclaimer

I recently discovered that WordPress is inserting ads (in the form of youtube videos) at the end of some posts. Can’t complain about that, since I am using the free service. However, I would like to say that I have no control over what is advertised and never know when one will appear. Their presence does NOT constitute my endorsement of the product.

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If only… An Open Letter to Presidential Candidates

Dear Candidate: I’m really tired of hearing or reading rants (by you or your supporters) about how unspeakably horrible your opponents are (implying, of course, that you, and you alone, are perfect).

STOP IT! What I need from you is the truth.
Don’t try to tear down your opponents–especially not with lies or half-truths.
Don’t tell me what you think I “want” to hear.
Don’t tell me what you think I “ought” to hear.
Don’t try to politician around and give me beautiful-sounding words that mean nothing.

1. Tell me in a calm, reasonable, inside voice–and in detail–how YOU plan to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. (You do remember that’s in the Presidential oath, don’t you?)

2. Tell me whom you would like to appoint to help you preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. In case you haven’t figured this out, you probably can’t do it all yourself. Certainly, you have some talents, but no one person is gifted in every nuance of how to run this country. One mark of a great president is his ability to surround himself with knowledgeable, competent people who are willing a) to work with him as a team, and b) to work for the good of the country.

3. Tell me your deepest beliefs, if you have any, and why you hold them. What has made you the person you are? I will not vote for you or against you on the basis of your beliefs alone, but I would like to know them.

4. Finally, tell me honestly why you want to be President of the United States.

Tell me the truth about these four things, Candidate. Tell it without profanity or hatred or sarcasm or drama of any kind. Tell it calmly. Tell it with respect and civility.  Just tell the truth.

 

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Stop it!

Stop. Just STOP! Take a deep breath. Look around you. It’s an ugly picture right now. So much anger, so much irritability, so many chips on so many shoulders. It seems as if every other person is just looking for something to offend them, so they can make a big noise about their rights and how everybody hates them and wants to put them down. (So they can be on the news?) Then they begin figuring out some way of getting even, or getting revenge. (Yeah, that would get them on the news.) …What kind of life is that? Is it fun? Is it fulfilling? Doe it give them a warm, cozy feeling to be full of hatred and ready to jump on every perceived offense?

Whatever happened to SELF-control? Whatever happened to civility? Whatever happened to humor? Whatever happened to perspective? Whatever happened to good sense?

Could they all be lost because we’re no longer listening to words like these?
–Love your neighbor as yourself.
–Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
–Be subject to rulers, to authorities, be obedient, be ready for every good deed, malign no one, be peaceable, gentle, show every consideration for all men.
–Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
–Do not lie.
–Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.
–Honor everyone.
–Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
–Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Yes, if you don’t recognize them, those are Christian words. There are many more. Read the New Testament. See if the things in there don’t have the potential for making life better for everybody.

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Hissing Light Bulbs

The hype sounded good.

• SAVE MONEY ON POWER BILLS!!!!

• (You might pay more for each bulb, but) THEY WILL LAST YEARS LONGER!!!!

• (They produce 75% less heat, so they are) SAFER TO OPERATE!!!!

• HELP THE ENVIRONMENT!!!!

Yeah. Compact fluorescent bulbs (or “curly bulbs” as we–not so fondly–call them) sound good. Maybe for most people they live up to those claims. After a few years of using them, I am not convinced.

I have no way to measure whether or not they’ve lowered our power bills. We’re paying more than ever, but that could be because power costs have gone up generally. I’ll give them a pass on that for lack of personal evidence.

Last years longer? Uh, NO. We’ve had to replace them as often as we had to replace our incandescent bulbs. Since they cost so much more, they are definitely not saving us money that way.

Safer to operate because of less heat output? They’re still hot enough to burn fingers or anything else that touches them. Who researched this stuff?

Helping the environment? Whose environment? If they’re talking general earth environment, I’m not sure how they decided that. I cannot help but think that as these mercury-laden lamps go into landfills (you know not everybody will or can recycle them) or are broken by clumsy people like me, there are going to be increasing and long-term problems.

Now, at the risk of sounding self-centered, let’s talk about my personal environment.

1. They are not helping it in any way I can see.  So far I haven’t broken one, but I know it’s just a matter of time.

2. Besides having to replace them as often as we replaced the incandescents (no savings there!), we have had a real problem with the stench the cfls create. Did we just have defective bulbs? I don’t know. We have two cfls over our kitchen range that don’t create a smell. Also the two in our den lamps seem okay, but when we replaced the incandescent bulbs in our office, stench is the only word to describe what we got. We couldn’t use the room until we took them out. We bought a different brand and tried again. The smell is still obvious, but not nearly as bad. We can live with it, but we don’t like it. And I have to wonder whether the smell of singed plastic–or whatever–is totally harmless. I would guess not. For all the faults “environmentalists” ascribe to incandescents, at least those bulbs didn’t stink.

3. Then we have the two hissing bulbs in our bathroom, both fairly new. Sometimes they work fine, but often when we hit the switch one or the other of them hisses and stutters (hssssssssssss bright, dim, bright, dim, hsssssssssssssssssss, etc.) We’ve tried tightening the bulbs. Didn’t help. I have no idea why they do it, but it is irritating and unsettling when your light bulbs sound like an upset copperhead. Are those bulbs about to die, even thought they’re almost new? Are they about to burst into flame? Is it safe to use them?

Is it too much to ask for a consistent product? Can’t all the cfls work silently and scentlessly and do all the things their pushers have promised they will do? Oh, I almost forgot. This is the real world. It won’t happen.

Anybody have a solution to the smell and sound of cfls or the name of a brand that hasn’t given you problems?  If so, I would love to hear from you.

 


							
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Truth and Consequences

Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2013 by Stan Mitchell

“I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

We live in a time when truth should be up with the whales and bald eagles on the Sierra Club calendar–listed as an endangered species. Politicians parse the verb “to be” (that’s what “is” is, remember?), while Hollywood teaches the absolute truth that morals are relative.

Remember when Churchill accused a fellow member of parliament of expressing a “terminological inexactitude”? He meant that the fellow had lied. And one recalls the Nixon era bureaucrat who spoke of the “credibility gap.”

Lying behind this factual unspecificity (is that politically correct enough for everyone?) is society’s disregard for truth in general. In his marvelously entitled book Truth Decay, Douglas Groothius speaks of the nature of truth.

God reveals truth. “It is not constructed or invented by communities” (page 67). Various beliefs may arise out of one culture or another, but truth is revealed when God chooses to communicate that to mankind. Because God reveals truth, it is therefore “objective and knowable” (page 68). What is more, Christian truth is “absolute in nature.” It is true “without exception or exemption.” (page 69).

There are no occasions when truth can be justifiably abandoned when its application becomes the source of discomfort or it represents a personal and financial setback. The weather may change, but God will not.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35, ESV).

Truth is universal. It applies to dictators and peasants alike, to our age and to future generations. God’s truth is not “trendy or superficial” (page 73).

Truth is “exclusive, specific, and antithetical” (page 75). That is, for every theological “yes,” there must be a thousand “no’s.” That which is true excludes all that opposes it. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), means that all other gods are imposters. Truth is exact and precise, and the slightest departure from the truth is falsehood” (page 75).

When God speaks a word, it is truth. People are limited, and thus express their perspective, their biases, or their limited knowledge. God is limited by none of these things. Those unforgettable words from the Bible, repeated hundreds of times, carry such weight.

“And God said… When we hear, that, “all the earth” should “keep silent” (Habakkuk 2:20).

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Born Again by John E. Werhan

Jesus in his night-time meeting with the Pharisee Nicodemus establishes one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity. Nicodemus begins by noting that he understood the distinctiveness of Jesus’ teachings and actions.

“Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2).

Nicodemus could have been a witness of the sign manifest by Jesus during the Passover.

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.” (John 2:23).

Truly, Nicodemus could have been one of the individuals who “believed in His name” or at least observed what Jesus had done.

It is not recorded if Jesus ever acknowledged the compliment. What John records is Jesus’ teaching concerning the new birth that was to be established in the New Covenant.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).

This statement was confusing to Nicodemus. He could not see how an individual could undergo a second physical birth.

“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’” (John 3:4).

Nicodemus was confused because he was thinking about an individual’s physical birth and Jesus was taking about spiritual birth.

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’” (John 3:5-6).

Jesus’ teaching differentiates between physical and the spiritual birth. He also teaches that this new spiritual birth was to be constituted in water. Jesus established the foundation of water baptism as the gateway to the Kingdom.

His command at the conclusion of John’s gospel also notes baptism is the point of salvation (salvation being a prerequisite to entering the Kingdom),

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.’” (Mark 16:15-16).

Peter in the first Gospel sermon teaches by inspiration:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

This foundational command is taught as an absolute throughout the New Testament.

History also dictates the significance of water baptism in this context. For centuries following the establishment of the Church/Kingdom writers like Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian Cyprian, etc. understood that Jesus was talking about water baptism. It was not until the teachings of John Calvin (1509 – 1564) that baptism was excluded as the element of the new birth.

The followers of John Calvin and his misunderstanding have influenced much of the incorrect teachings concerning this context today. It is a sad reality that many who believe themselves to be born again have never studied or understood this simple foundational teaching.

But instead, they have blindly followed the teachings of men to their detriment. We pray they will come to the truth.

***

Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2013 by John E. Werhan.

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A Few Random Thoughts on Political Stuff

How many jobs will be lost if “big business” is destroyed?  How many store shelves will still have items for us to buy if “big business” is destroyed?

If government increases taxes (and regulations) on “the rich” to the point that they become “the poor” (or leave the country), who is going to pay for all those government “entitlements”?

Why would anybody keep working if government is going to take all we earn?  What if everybody decides to quit working and rely on “entitlements”?  Do we really believe “the Government”, in and of itself, has the money to support us all?

Is there anybody with even a grain of common sense who believes unlimited borrowing and spending will make this country solvent?  If it doesn’t work for individuals, it won’t work for the country.

How long can we sidestep or ignore our constitution before we cease to be a country?  Maybe just until we finish spending ourselves to death.

What if the children our country aborts today could have, in the next thirty or forty years, made all the difference for good in our sad, sick world?

How can we be so eager to save certain species of animals and so eager to destroy pre-born humans?  I saw a photo of a woman protesting for abortion-rights.  She carried a slogan that said, “My body shouldn’t be a battlefield”.  Is it better that it becomes a killing field?

“You can’t legislate morals.”  Really?  Do we just strike down all laws against murder (at any age), assault, theft, and all the rest and let everybody do just as they like?  That’s called anarchy, I think.  Look around.  Some places in the world operate that way.  See if NOT legislating morals is as wonderful as it sounds.

Think before you vote–while you still have the privilege of choosing.

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Danny’s Tune

Available now in trade paperback and various ebook formats from Wings. Also available for Nook and Kindle.

REVIEWS

“Going home to Ireland is just what Danny Egan needs in order to face his past. Will he find release from the nightmares that haunt him? With his wife, Constancy, by his side, Danny returns to his hometown. Reuniting with family and friends, he begins seeking answers that have eluded him since he witnessed his father’s murder when he was ten years old. Donna H. Parker skillfully captures all of his emotions as he struggles to exorcise the ghosts that have haunted him since he was a child. For those of us who have followed Danny and Constancy from the beginning in Constancy’s Waltz, this is another excellent rendering from the pen of Mrs. Parker.”   –Gail Hutchison, Elementary school librarian, avid reader

“Donna H. Parker has done it again! In this continuing story of Constancy and Danny the reader travels to Ireland, a land of lush green grass and crashing seas, to solve a mystery of years ago. Woven into this charming tale with affable characters is a web of deceit and of a murder that threatens to undercut the happiness of a couple who are very much in love. Will Danny solve the murder of his father and if so, will the knowing end his nightmares and strengthen his marriage? Danny’s Tune is a book you won’t want to put down.”   –Jeannine Van Eperen, award winning author of Trail to Bliss, Rose of the Rio Grande and No Escape from Love

“Ms. Parker’s Danny’s Tune is a great cozy to while away an afternoon. Her mystery leaves no stone unturned. Ms. Parker drops hints, then answers them as the story unfolds. She weaves a story of Danny, who as a child is witness to his father’s brutal murder. With a supportive family, he pulls together clues after the case has gone cold, and while the mystery builds and tantalizes, we see Danny undergo a healing that warms our hearts. For a great read, see Donna H. Parker’s Danny’s Tune.”    –Review by Katherine Pym, author of several historical novels including Of Carrion Feathers, a Wings ePress, release

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The “Fiddling With Murder” Mystery Series

Coming September 1, Wings e-Press will release the fifth book in my cozy mystery series–DANNY’S TUNE.  More on that later.

First, a review of the earlier books:

copyright 2008CONSTANCY’S WALTZ, book one.  Constancy Grace Stafford never lived up to her middle name, but stumbling over a corpse turns into her worst trip ever.  Danny Egan, town cop and master fiddler, defies a direct order to stay off the case.  Only he knows how much this waltz with danger could ultimately cost him.

DARK DIAMOND REEL, book two.  Constancy’s recent losses have shaken her.  Even her engagement to diamond magnate, Zared Fraser, hasn’t helped her recover.  Officer Danny Egan thinks he never wants to see Constancy again.  Then a frantic S.O.S. proves him wrong and tumbles them both into a deadly reel that will change both their lives forever.

FIDDLER’S LAMENT, book three.  Constancy Grace Stafford, fed up with murder, dreams of living a normal, peaceful life.  But death at a music show, the clammy darkness of an unmapped Ozarks cave system, and a desperate fiddler’s lament threaten to destroy that dream–and the two most precious people in her life.

JIG OF BONES, book four.  Constancy always dreamed of celebrating Christmas surrounded by a large family.  She’s thrilled for the opportunity to savor the holiday with her newly-found relatives in South Dakota, but a gang of fossil rustlers and the secrets of a missing shepherd may turn Constancy’s long-awaited dream into a nightmare.

Now, introducing:

DANNY’S TUNE, book five.  Irish ghosts come in many forms. The murderous one that has haunted Danny Egan from childhood may not even be dead. Constancy knows they can’t avoid Danny’s past while they’re in Ireland. She prays the encounter will bring healing, because if it goes bad, the result could forever silence Danny’s tune.

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Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee–How Much Do You Know?

I’m reposting this because it’s great fun, as well as being informative. Go to Thepunnery’s blog for more fun posts, including many (of course) punny ones.

Diamond Jubilee Quiz

Okay, I admit it:  one of my long-time hobbies is the study of British history.  Indeed, long-time readers of  this blog may not find this much of a surprise, considering some of my News Flashes.  So perhaps it’s not too far out of character to post something coinciding with this weekend’s celebrations of the Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

The question of what to post touches on another hobby:  geneology.

Today for your amusement I have a list of twenty English monarchs, of varying levels of fame, in order of their appearance.  (I have to specify English monarchs, since numbering gets tricky after 1707.)  Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to identify which ones are in the current royal family’s direct lineage.

Or you can skip to the bottom to look at the answers.   You might find it interesting.

So here we go:

  1. Harold II Godwinson (1066)
  2. William I the Conquerer (1066-1087)
  3. Richard I the Lionhart (1189-1199) –of Robin Hood fame
  4. John (1199-1215) –…likewise
  5. Edward I (1272-1307) –of William Wallace fame
  6. Richard II (1377-1399) –of Peasants’ Revolt fame
  7. Henry IV (1399-1413) –who provoked the Wars of the Roses (in a way)
  8. Henry V (1413-1422) –Shakespeare’s classic hero
  9. Richard III (1483-1485) –Shakespeare’s classic villain
  10. Henry VII (1485-1509) –who finished the Wars of the Roses
  11. Henry VIII (1509-1547) –of Six Wives fame
  12. Mary I (1553-1558) — who had a boat named after her
  13. Elizabeth I (1558-1603) –…likewise
  14. James I (1603-1625) –of Bible Translation fame
  15. Charles I (1625-1649) –of whom Cromwell took a dislike
  16. James II (1685-1688) –whose subjects were Gloriously Revolting
  17. Anne (1702-1714) — has three plants named after her
  18. George I (1714-1727) –famous for employing G. F. Handel
  19. George III (1760-1820) –famous (over here) for…well, you know
  20. Victoria (1837-1901) –famous for not being amused

And here are the answers, as far as I know them.  I admit my knowledge is incomplete on the subject; if you have information on some obscure connection that I don’t know about, please post with the details.

1:  Nán (that’s “no” in Anglo-Saxon…I think).  2: Oui.  3: Non.  4: Oui.  5: Yea.  6: Nay.  7: Nay.  8:  No, but his widow is:  she remarried into the Tudor family (yes, those Tudors). 9. Nay.  10.  Cywir (that’s Welsh for “true,” by the way). 11: Yea.  12:  Nay.  13.  Still nay.  14:  Aye.  15:  No.  16:  No.  17:  Still no.  18:  Ja.  19:  Yes.  20:  Well, of course….

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Lamb’s Ears

Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2012, Christine Berglund.

Almost every garden visitor wants to bend down and pet the Lamb’s Ears. I have a huge mass of them in my front garden, waiting for a good time to transport them to the new Children’s Garden in town. Everyone on the committee for the new project agreed that the downy, soft leaves of this plant would make a fun tactile experience for kids.

Lamb’s Ears, or “Stachys Byzantina,” forms a wooly mat of intertwined stems laying along the ground and rooting wherever they touch the earth. It has pretty purple flower stalks in the summer, which attract bees to the garden.

We so adore soft things like the Lamb’s Ears plants, or if we are fortunate enough to experience farm life, the little lambs born in the springtime. Their innocence and trusting nature draws us to them. You want to pet them and hold them. Most touchable of all are their little soft ears!

Now, this is where our warm, fuzzy story turns gory, bloody, and violent. Like the lamb that that was sacrificed at the first Passover, Jesus gave himself up to a grisly death. His blood was spilled and used like the Passover Lamb to cover our dwelling place doors. When the Israelites slaughtered their Passover lamb, they used the blood to mark the doors where they lived, so that the Angel of Death would not enter. Those doors are our hearts, and if we want to escape the fate we really deserve, they must be marked with the blood from this shockingly brutal sacrifice.

We may think of the Lamb of God in terms of soft, furry, and touchable. I do not disagree. However, Jesus is more than a baby in a manger, or a soft little lamb whose ears we want to stroke. We remember the Cross, and cringe in horror. But his magnificent love made us clean, and his horrific, sacrificial death allows us an abundant life.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” proclaimed John the Immerser in John 1:29 (NASB).

But how? Not by being warm and fuzzy.

The book of Hebrews outlines how Jesus was our Passover Lamb, tortured and left to die without even the comfort of knowing God was with him. He cried out in agony, like a trusting and helpless lamb, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This was because the righteous and pure God of heaven could not look upon sin. Sin was exactly what Jesus took upon himself as our Lamb of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

One downside of the lovely and touchable Stachys plant is that during the summer the center of the plant dies out, becomes revoltingly slimy and ugly. Many a summer I have uprooted this dead stuff and tossed it on a compost pile, only to have it spring to life when I wasn’t looking!

In my garden, it’s a reminder that the Lamb of God had to die, and then rise again.

As I touch this soft plant that shares a nickname with my Savior, I remember that all was not sweetness and softness for him, because of the seriousness of my own sin problem.

I love how plants remind me of such wonderful truths!

“He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Live for him! He died for you.

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