Saturday, April 29

Ol' Yeller

There's something about a yellow t-shirt that I'm crazy about. And I don't know what it is. According to one 'expert'---

"Put some yellow in your life when you want:

--Clarity for decision-making
--Relief from 'burnout', panic, nervousness, exhaustion
--Sharper memory and concentration skills
--Protection from lethargy and depression during dull weather"

This 'expert' also says --- "Yellow symbolizes wisdom. Yellow means joy and happiness. People of high intellect favor yellow. Yellow is full of creative and intellectual energy. Always use yellow note pads."

Sorry, I'm using white notepads and chrartreuse stickies, but I certainly need sharper memorty and concentration skills.

I've collected three shirts already. One Old Navy, one Duke's Canoe Club and a plain Jane variety that cost $1 at the flea market.

I think it's more likely a mental disorder than a cry for clarity and creativity. But I'm not the 'expert.'

Sunday, April 23

Hardly a Gospel

Quick to placard a recently purchased discovery that contradicts traditional truth, the National Geographic Society aired The Gospel of Judas April 9. After experts reconstructed over 1000 fragments, and with 45 lines of text still missing, NGS bought the document (which included three other apocryphal writings), banking on showing it right before Christianity's most revered celebration of Jesus' rising from the dead. What are we to think about these spurious works?

First, let's make no mistake: This is NOT a Gospel. There are only four true Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other writings have long since vanished from acceptance because they don't agree with the fundamental beliefs echoed in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is not an unrelated collection of dissimilar opinions: It is divinely revealed, God-breathed history and doctrine, providentially preserved through the centuries. It is 66 books with a single theme - the salvation of sinners by a loving God. St. Paul says, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I Timothy 1:15. This is the "good news" or Gospel. The Judas document says nothing of forgiveness of sins, redemption or Christ dying for sins. In fact, what it says contradicts the basic teaching of Christ and his apostles.

It claims that Jesus appeared to his disciples in the form of a child, long before he began his ministry and chose them personally. This is no where taught in God's Word.

It claims that Jesus would not be known by the people of his generation. He would only be know by secret permission after attaining a certain level of spirituality. This heretical view was called Gnosticism in the days of the early church. Gnosticism is a "mystery religion" which is "found in all religions and religious philosophies, from Upanishads to the wisdom of ancient Egypt, and from the Gathas of Zarathustra to the mystery-cults of Greece and Rome." Gnostics promised salvation through an occult knowledge of truth that they claimed was revealed to them alone.

The Judas document further claims that Judas' death was revealed to him - stoning by the other disciples. The New Testament record tells us that Judas, in a fit of remorse, hanged himself.

It claims that Jesus created angels for the purpose of instructing Judas. It also declares that angels helped create Adam and Eve. This contradicts all the biblical teaching about angels. An example is in Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?"

It claims Jesus taught Judas to look to the stars for guidance. But astrology is specifically condemned in the Bible.

It claims Jesus viewed Judas as a great disciple because he would betray him and thereby liberate his soul from his body. This is pure Gnosticism. Jesus' own words heap judgment, not praise on this disciple. "The Son of Man indeed goes [to the cross] just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Matthew 26:24.

The Bible goes further and places a curse on this writing and all others that contradict it. St. Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia says, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8,9.

This document wasn't written by Judas. Judas was dead when it was written. Early Church Father, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons condemned this heretical gospel by name in 180 A.D. And he had the missing 45 lines! It is by knowing the Bible that we can judge these "lost" books and documents. Unfortunately, it is those who know very little that can get "lost" by reading and believing everything but the Scriptures. God has preserved what he wants us to know. Nothing else is needed. Jesus prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them [those who believe] by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17. And St. Peter's words will end our argument. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain [of Transfiguration]. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you [believers] do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophesy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:16-21

Judas was no "holy man."

Tuesday, April 18

Shrouded Shell Creek

A 30 minute trip east of Paso Robles on Hwy 58 offers some of the most breathtaking color in the area. Shell Creek exploded last year thanks to the previous winter rains. This year's display wasn't as dramatic, but offered more than I expected.

Ginnie and Meg donned their smiles and big SLR's, trekked into the 'rattlesnake-ridden' fields, and snapped away. This was the perfect setting for me, since there were so many old oak trees - dead and alive - which provided the perfect 'frames' for scenics and a true sense of California's personality. We tiptoed through the Baby Blue Eyes and Tidy Tips, often getting down to eye level for close-up shots.

An overcast sky helped make truer colors, but a slight breeze resulted in some out-of-focus blooms. No big deal. Each of us got some great pictures.

A few other nature lovers and photographers joined us. The local cows joined us. The killdeer and meadowlarks chimed in. It was time to party!

This is the second post about this little-known spot. In fact, who ever heard of it when we were growing up in the 50's and 60's? Guess it was just too far a drive. The roads were terrible, and it would have been more fun to go to the beach. Thankfully, the area is still somewhat pristine, except for the occasional beer bottle left by Friends of the Junk Jungle. So don't even think about going if you're not willing to pick up a few 'souvenirs' to take home.

Wednesday, April 12

My Mom's Brother's Wife's Son, Cooper

[Today's thoughts come to you from Jesse]: "Um, [laughter], Okay, Um, [laughter and rolling on the floor], What should I say? This is my . . . [laugh, laugh], mom's brother's wife's son, or for short, my COUSIN, Cooper."

[We also want to hear from Mallory]:
"Um, Cooper is, um . . cute and funny, and he's almost about to walk. Jesse, please stop that!"

Sunday, April 9

Maybe They Got Candy

A morning trip to Shell Creek included a few conversational cows. The driver didn't want to stop and talk, so we scooted down the road to a safer spot. "Watch out for rattlesnakes!" was the word as we meandered the blooming hills and took pictures. Not much sun, but still beautifully striking.

So get out there and enjoy all this glory before the summer doldrums keep you indoors and fat. Take a hike. Go romp on the beach. Climb a tree. Return those heavenly smiles.

Friday, April 7


A current concern for some small communities is the threat of being eaten up by larger ones. Dr. Stephen Sigmund and his wife, Shirley, recently wrote a letter to the Paso Robles Press decrying the increasing rise in the population of their hometown of Templeton, CA. In two years, the town has grown 31% to almost 7,000 people. As part of Citizens Concerned for Templeton's Future, they oppose a proposed 1250 acre addition to the town's boundaries. They also opposed a 40 acre development at the Main Street exit. They definitely don't want to become part of South Paso and cease to exist as the small, historical berg they have always been.

My grandfather grew up in Templeton along with a bunch of other Skinners. I'm sure he's going to roll over in his grave (across the freeway from Templeton) when he hears the news.

Let's let Templeton continue to be sleepy, bypassed, and unseen spot on the map that it always has been.

Thursday, April 6

Cry Me a River

Yes, it's still wet out there as everyone in California knows. Earthquakes are right around the corner. And after those will come the painfully high prices for local fruit and vegetables, the forest fires, and perpetually elevated gasoline costs. A good and needed dose of humble pie.

Sunday, April 2

Nemo in the Sky with Ribbons

It was a wonderfully surprising day Saturday when a long-planned birthday party was blessed with a short break in the dismal weather --- it would be SUNNY and a perfect April 1st for our six-year-old neighbor.

Similar events were probably taking place all across town, parents shouting with glee at the sunshine and whipped creamy clouds. Grass still hosted puddles, and kids got in the mud, but there was sunshine!

I know these frequent weather reports are boring, but let's look at the bigger picture. Bad weather is good. It should cause me to appreciate the good weather that much more. Pain is good. It pinpoints the problem, makes for an easier solution and helps me glory in its absence.

In the same way, a knowledge of personal sin and its consequences must be painful. It is only then that I can find relief in the forgiveness of sins that the Lord Jesus offers. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4. He's not speaking of earthly grief, but of the pain of an inherited sin nature and its effect in our daily thoughts and decisions. He's saying repentance and confession are painful, but necessary for fullness of joy.

"[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I think you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."'

Lord, may we know the true joy that comes when we, by faith, humbly accept that dying love by which You will forgive our iniquities.