Remembering Lewis

50 Years ago today, a man that has re-shaped eternity passed away.  Very few writers have impacted me at different stages of life as he has.  Even today, vibrant societies are named in his honor, to both study the truths he shared, and make it a priority to share those same truths with others.

In the scope of time, while politicians and leaders fall into obscurity, I do believe that future children will come to love God more, theologians to consider him greater, and lay people to understand him better, because of the writings he left behind.

Today, I'm thankful for C.S. Lewis' life and writings.  I can't imagine a world where men smarter than me didn't write down their thoughts, in ways that I could understand the very nature of God, better than I could before.

Amazon Prime

If you've not already tried, here's a link for a 30-day trial period on Amazon Prime.  We use it at home and work, for things as varied as tools, cleaners, parts, and yes- books.  The streaming movies are handy too, with lots of free options for the kids included, and new releases for a reasonable charge.

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I Walked a Mile With Pleasure

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
-Robert Browning Hamilton

"The Still Small Voice"

The Still Small Voice

I longed to walk along an easy road,
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, "My time has not yet come."

I longed to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unfettered in the work, and free,
To join with other laborers in their toil;
But Jesus said, "'Tis not My choice for thee."

I longed to leave the desert, and be led
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
"I have not called thee, publish here My name."

I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain bade me wait and sing
Songs of His conquests in my quiet life.

I longed to leave the uncongenial sphere,
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus bade me guard one lonely gate.

I longed to leave the round of daily toil,
Where no one seemed to understand or care;
But Jesus said, "I choose for thee this soil,
That thou might'st raise for Me some blossoms

And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or else afar, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, "choosing not to choose," my heart is


As Quoted in L.B. Cowan's, Streams in The Desert

On The Importance of Development

"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection."  Teddy Roosevelt

A Sleepless Night Psalm

This is one of my favorite Psalms, maybe even favorite chapters in the Bible.  I love the steady progression from a man who can't sleep at night, "you hold my eyelids open," to the call to meditation in verse 12, to an omnipotent God who controls all creation while still leading his people, in the final paragraph.  

"Selah" is usually thought to mean "pause and reflect" and might have been a place for a musical interlude for emphasis.  I love to read this meditatively, and pause where the text suggests it.

Psalm 77:  The Consoling Memory of God’s Redemptive Works
I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.      Selah

4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?      Selah

10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.      Selah

16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

"Give me your tired..."

Emma from FWDus on Vimeo.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

by Emma Lazarus, engraved at the base of The Statue of Liberty

Gun Crazy

I've been around guns my whole life, not intimately, but "around."  I shot .22 rifles in Boy Scouts at summer camp, and learned about shotguns when my brother got interested.  I learned to shoot trap, a clay shooting game, with my brother and Dad in my late teens, and in my early twenties I shot rounds of trap regularly.  At one point, I was reloading shotgun shells for the whole family, and shooting trap with friends and family several times a week.  I've shot the State shoot, and attended the Grand National several times to watch friends shoot.  I also like to hunt birds, and do so when I can.  It's safe to say that I'm very comfortable around 12-gauge shotguns.  Frankly, the only reason I've slowed down and shoot less trap and fewer ducks now, is I enjoy spending time with my young family, more than those hobbies.

In the past 5 years, I've been around shooting sports less, and the volume of the gun debate has increased significantly.  I, of course, support the ability of people to hunt and shoot clays, because that's what I like to do.  I think that a healthy respect for, and access to, the tools to do so has value.  I'm nervous about restricting guns to the point that they become taboo in society.  However, I've also been uncomfortable with the fervor around weapons that are overtly militaristic and aggressive in nature, but not been able to articulate my thoughts on those types of guns.  Yesterday, my local gun club and dealer helped firm up my own position on these "black" weapons.

Screenshot from the Facebook page of a well-respected, local gun club and dealer.  Posted 05/30/13.
This gun confused me at first.  It's not a high-powered rifle, but a shotgun.  It doesn't look like the shotguns I'm familiar with though: no walnut stock, graceful lines, or long barrel to point at a target.  It's not polished and finely checkered, nor is it a woodsy camo that blends into my hunting coat and the landscape in the marsh.  This shotgun is a tool for killing people.  Its short barrel and "Law Enforcement Buckshot" are meant to indiscriminately fire a shower of killing force in a broad, forward-facing direction.  Using it inside your home would be only slightly safer than tossing a grenade down the hallway at an intruder, while your children sleep in their rooms.  This particular gun takes no skill to learn to use.  There are three uses I can think of for this type of weapon:  killing people, practicing killing people, and simulating killing people.  This gun is not an isolated example either.  Scrolling through their social media pages, and those of other local dealers, these are the guns that are featured, talked about, and shared.  Rare is the post about the new shotgun or rifle that has hunting or sporting as its use.  People-killing guns get the "oohs" and "ahhs."

I'm not a politician, I'm not an activist, and I'm not in the firearms industry.  My opinion on the issue does little to influence it.  However, from now on, my position for my own self is clear.  The gun industry, lobby, groups, clubs, and dealers have pushed the issue too far.  I don't want to own guns that have no value but to kill people.  I don't care for my neighbor to, or even my friends.  If they would choose to do so solemly and with great hesitation, I could stomach it.  Celebrating and getting excited about owning people-killing machines turns my stomach, though.  By escalating the issue and pushing it to the extremes, these groups have lost me.  Hunters' and sportsmen's best interests are no longer best served by the majority of pro-gun groups, and we will lose rights we have now if we continue to let groups from the NRA to local dealers push the debate to a fanatical extreme.

Disclaimer:  I'm a charter member at Blackwing Shooting Center, referred to above.  I know their owner, several of the staff, and have a lots of friends that shoot there.  They are good people.  I have shot and will shoot trap and sporting clays there.  Reasonable people can disagree on a single issue without dissolving ties.

10 Reasons You Should Recognize the Value of Immigrants if you Live in Union County

1.  This area was settled by immigrants.  
We are all immigrants, anyway.  Not just in the abstract, distant past, but in a real, current way.  I'm only in my thirties, but can remember very well that German worship services were offered here not long ago.  It's not unusual to hear people talk about the German settlement in everyday conversation.  If you're new to town, ask someone to share with you some of the surnames of people in your building or neighborhood that are part of those families, and likely related to hundreds of other people.

Social Media, Localized

I think Social Media is cool.  I also think the term is a lot broader than most people recognize.  Some social media outlets I like, some I loathe, some I don't like but I use because people I want to reach are there.  As I participate in sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Linked In, or blogs and forums about more specific topics, I've found two key factors that tend to promote, and indicate, quality.

1.  Low Level of Anonymity- users identify with a headshot and a name that is either their own, or a close approximation of it.  They often list at least a general geographic area.  

2.  Unifying Focus- Noise is reduced and relevancy increased on sites that are focused.  A site that focuses on a specific industry or a hobby generally is more vibrant than one whose only theme is "social."

With those two criteria, I'm excited about a startup social network called Nextdoor.  Nextdoor is a private social network that works by requiring new users be mailed a postcard with an activation code to join.  To participate,  you have to live in a specific area, and to prove it, you need to get mail there.  Every user is identified by their name and address, and everyone has an inherent connection, they're physical neighbors.  Once active, users can post any kind of content they want, from warnings about a suspicious car in the area, to requests for a good landscaper.  Provisions exist for events, HOA documents, and dedicated classifieds.  In my opinion, it's a great virtual approximation of a healthy neighborhood.

If social media is to have an aim, it could be to bring people together in "real" relationships.  I think that Nextdoor has potential to do that in a very cool way.  

Demo map from

Prayer of St. Francis

Even as a protestant, I've been impressed with the humility of the new Roman Catholic Pope, who chose "Francis" as his name.  Today, I came across a card I have with the Prayer of St. Francis on it and was reminded of what a profound choice the name is.  As a lover of historic and rote prayers of the church, this is one of my favorites:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.  Amen.

February Garden Update

Some sunny days lately have had us out in the yard a little bit, this last week of February.  Non-gardeners don't think much about the garden in the winter, but I sure do!  So, here's what was growing at this late-winter date:

  • Garlic- ours is about 2 inches tall, we've not grown it before, so I don't know if it will stay, or die back and start over, but it is neat to see the green tips poking through the soil either way.
  • Horseradish-  the fronds of the plant are slowly coming back, with more new green than old brown now visible.  
  • Daffodils- we have a couple dozen or so that are a few inches tall.  I'm happy to see them coming on slowly, so they don't get frozen out.
  • Maple Trees- this is one of my favorite times of the year to look at a young maple.  Ours has bright red new growth on it, some twigs a foot long!
  • Corkscrew Hazelnut- the mustard yellow catechins are just on the verge uncoiling and showing off, we grow this all year to see the catechins in late winter/early spring.
All of this, topped off with a tray full of seeds just getting started inside.  It won't be long until we have tomatoes, peppers, gourds, hostas, and basil all growing in the windowsill.  After a long winter, I'm craving Spring, and happy to see the early signs of it at home.

On God's Side

This past weekend Pam and I attended the local Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner.  Our Representative in Congress, Jim Jordan spoke, and shared some thoughts on Lincoln.  Among them, a paraphrased quote from Lincoln regarding God being on the side of the Union during the Civil War.  I was intrigued by the quote, did some digging, and found this:
No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln, in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped, "the Lord was on our side." 
"I am not at all concerned about that," replied Mr. Lincoln, "For I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right.  But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side"1
I found many variations on this same quote, but as the once cited is from 1866, by a biographer who spent time close to Lincoln, it seems most reliable.

As we often hear both sides invoking God in their cause, I think Lincoln had it right, we should spend more time seeking the Lord, and less convincing others that we have His backing.

1Carpenter, F.B. (1866). Six Months at the White House. p. 282 

No Hope for Redemption?

This week the City of Dublin, Ohio, about 20 minutes away from where I live, enacted an ordinance barring all registered sex offenders from entering their Rec. Center or public pools.  The vote was unanimous, and I'm sure there was a lot of support for the measure.

When I hear of something like this, though, I often wonder if we consider the person being regulated.  We all agree that sexual offenses are especially heinous, and the victims of those offenses suffer life-long impacts. We shouldn't cheapen or trivialize the seriousness of the crimes.

However, as a Christian, I build my life around the idea that there must be hope of redemption for every person.  The idea of permanent registries that bar people from living in certain areas, make gaining meaningful employment difficult, and prohibit the use of public facilities, would seem to lead towards a pit of despair, not out of it.  It is concerning to me that our modern society at once celebrates sexual sin and punishes it more extremely than violent crime, depending on the form it takes.  

For me, though I don't like it, there can be no middle road- I must acknowledge that all sexual immorality is inherently wrong and evil, but that sexual immorality, in all its forms, does not exclude those involved from the hope of redemption and forgiveness.

An Evangelical Hypocrite

Of all the hypocrites, grant that I may not be
an evangelical hypocrite,
who sins more safely because grace abounds,
who tells his lusts that Christ's blood
cleanseth them,
who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell,
for he is saved,
who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians,
but lives unholily.
-Puritan prayer 

One Eagle Scout's Thoughts on Homosexuality and the Boy Scouts of America

I am an Eagle Scout from Troop 101 in Marysville, Ohio.  We don't say "former" Eagle Scout, as the belief is that once you've attained the rank, it's a benefit to you long after you've left your Scouting years behind.  I also served as the past District Chairman of the now-defunct Northstar District, of Union County, which has merged with others in our area.  Scouting and Church has always been closely linked for me, as the Troop I participated in was chartered by my home church, Marysville First United Methodist, where it has been for almost as long as Scouting has existed in America.  I continue to support the unit financially and other ways.

One of the hardest parts about homosexuality in current times is that it has become so polarizing for people on all sides of the issue.  The issue is so tightly tied to self-identity that we often lose the perspective to consider it outside of our own feelings and experience.  That's too bad.  When something becomes so controversial that we can't consider it without resorting to extremes, we lay waste to the common middle ground where we live our lives in community.

I think enlisting homosexual boys and adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America is a bad idea for all involved.  Before you quit reading, or applaud, as the case may be, this opinion isn't my values-based judgement.  So, as clearly as I can, here are two important reasons I believe the BSA should leave their current policy as is:

1.  The Boy Scouts focus on overnight camping experiences.  I would not consider enrolling my kids, boy or girl, in a co-ed camping program.  I believe that it is healthy for kids to have opportunities to enjoy their youth, without any thought of sexuality.  I simply don't see much difference between co-ed and gay-inclusive camping.  Either one drastically alters the environment and changes the entire dynamic.  You can disagree with me on this point if you like, but if you do, then I think you've forgotten what it is like to be a teenage boy.  For me, there just isn't much wiggle-room or argument to be had on this issue.  It is what is.

2.  The Boy Scouts of America should align itself with its charter organization partners, and historical values, not adapt policy to suit fundraising goals.  The core of the Boy Scouts has always been its commitment to its own honor code.  While many groups will trumpet the inclusion of homosexual youth in the Scouts, they should be aware that the Scouts aren't professing some grand values changes, but rather announcing their capitulation to donors.  The Boy Scouts of America has not announced a new belief system, but has said, in essence, we need the corporate dollars that come with doing something we don't support, so we'll consider doing it, and take the dollars, but not change what we believe.  Can there be a worse lessen for our youth?  What's the point of enrolling a boy in Scouts if "selling out" is a core value.  To be clear, no one wins if the Boy Scouts' honor is gutted and it is left as a hollowed out shell of its former self.  I wonder what the point is in destroying something that has value, under the pretense of inclusiveness.  

It's worth noting, to those not familiar with the program, that most scout troops are chartered by churches.  In fact the United Methodist Church at one time strongly encouraged all congregations to host Scouting.  Many of those units are 80+ years old, and exist today.  Catholics and Mormons are also usually hosts to Scout units in their congregations.  All three of these institutions have policies that would be at direct odds to what the BSA is proposing.  It's not a small leap in logic to expect that the BSA changing its policy will cause many of the charter organizations to reconsider whether hosting is still in their best interest.

So what will it mean for me, as an Eagle Scout?  I don't foresee myself joining those who would throw off all associations with the Boy Scouts of America, even going so far as to burn cards and certificates of rank.  I'll likely remain supportive of my local pack and troop.  I will, however, encourage my local church, the charter organization for the units I support, to be vigilant in overseeing healthy youth programming through the Scouts, as they do now.  If that means that their 80+ year sponsorship comes to an end in the future, I would support the decision.  As for my own son, I've never intended to push him towards or away from Scouting.  When he's old enough, his mom and I will consider the appropriateness of Boy Scouts for him just like we would any other activity.  It's hard to say what that will look like in ten years, but the changes currently being considered would make the decision non-negotiable for us (see point #1 above.)

An institution that promotes traditional manhood has value in the U.S. today.  We should always be Proud to espouse manhood as a worthy attribute.  I am proud to have been a Boy Scout, I am proud to be the man that it helped shape me as, and I believe there should always be a sense of pride for boys and men who seek to become the best man they can.


"The Lord is my shepherd."  Psalm 23:1

"Not was, not may be, nor will be.  'The Lord is my shepherd.'  He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week.  He is in January, in December, and every month of the year.  He is when I'm at home and in China.  He is during peace or war, and in times of abundance or poverty."
- J. Hudson Taylor.