Tuesday, December 30

Tried Green Tomatoes?

Tomorrow will herald the last day of this long year. Time to say "goodbye" and "thanks for the memories," both good and bad (Romans 8:28). Time to appreciate another day of blessing and new year of hope. Time to pull out the summer's vegetable garden and find some recipes for hundreds of green tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 24

San Luis Obispo Crime

San Luis Paso ain't. Does that make sense? It will when you go to this crime map of San Luis Obispo, then take the little hand cursor and drag it down and down and down until you get to see little ol' Paso 30 miles north.

No comment from this Paso lover.

Rock of Ages

I took this picture almost 40 years ago while visiting Glacier Point in Yosemite for the first time. The powers that be have restricted taking pictures from this point since then. You have to stay on a fenced path (to reduce lawsuits most likely). Some things don't change, like this chunk of rock facing into the valley a mile below. Photos taken over a hundred years ago at the same angle could be superimposed on this one without seeing a difference.

There is a more ancient rock, called "the ancient of days" who is God in Christ. Eternal, unchanging, Jesus Christ is the "same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

Wednesday, December 17

A Little Sand in Your Sandwich

Boy, is it cold, or what!? And to top it off they're showing The Day After Tomorrow over and over on FX network. What we need are some beach movies, like Beach Blanket Bingo and Muscle Beach Party with Annette and Frankie. Anything to warm us up a bit. Hey, even a little global warming documentary would be nice!

We used to head over to Cayucos during the summer to 'cool off' when it was about 118degrees in Paso Robles. The sand would burn our feet, but the water was freezing - cold enough to erase the thoughts of sweltering on the other side of the hill. Here's a 1967 photo of Marvin Herreid and Susan Wynn dripping after a dipping. Looks like fun, but hard to imagine when you're expecting another night of ice capped world around you.

Vocational overtime and seasonal stress have contributed to my blogging demise the past few weeks. It might also explain the sparse entries on the website. My humble apologies until things get back to normal.

May God bless each and all as we celebrate advent and a new year, remembering we are here at His behest, owe our all to Him as a Loving Creator and Redeemer, and will soon enter eternity.

Friday, December 12

Birdless . . . Wordless

Many years ago we lived in a house on Monterey Street with a canary Grandmother Cockrell had given us. This rusty yellow warbler was quite the fellow, perched in his wire-rimmed cage and singing most of the day.

We named him Chrysostom, after the golden-throated preacher from centuries ago. He was the much loved friend of family and friends as he preached his own gospel in song, cheering the sad and lonely with heavenly strains befitting one of God's beautiful creations. He didn't ask for much --- water, food, a good talking to and lots of noise to get him going.

Chrysostom was no weak-feathered wimp. With machismo manliness, he sounded a melodic scale of notes that would have impressed the hardest heart. As a 'chopper,' the music was often louder than we liked, but his enthusiasm atoned for this slight sin.

Poor Chrysostom's end would come as an overactive vacuumer bumped his cage and sent it toppling to the floor. He would never sing again in this life. He died within a few weeks from the shock.

In honor of his death, I wrote this poem. I believe it is the shortest poem ever written.

On the Death of Our Canary, Chrysostom

Birdless . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . Wordless

Friday, November 28


Angel went fishing with her dad this evening at the Calaveras River. She was the only one to get a fish and was more than eager to show it off.

I used to fish with my dad in canals and on rivers. The most memorable trip was south of El Paso on the Rio Grande where we camped out near the beach and fished the next day. I landed a 24" carp. Quite a fight, but had to let him go. Can't remember if Dad caught anything. I think he just liked getting away from the women in his life for awhile and commune with nature's silence.

Sunday, November 23

October Surprise

Our recent trip to Paso Robles turned into a whirlwind see-fest as we attended more than a few events and reconnected with old friends, including cousin Larry. We hadn't seen each other in 15 years or more, but there wasn't a lot of catching up during a Paso Robles Inn breakfast.

Larry has been a custom cabinet craftsman for many moons and still loves what he's doing. He was working on a $100,000 contract for someone in Paso. That's a whole lot of cabinets - but, hey, it's Paso Robles, the land of the free and the home of the rich.

Thanks to cousin Bruce for this picture.

Friday, November 21

$1.69 A Gallon for Gas

Time to visit Stockton, CA, and fill your tank for less than half of what you paid a few months ago. Personally, I'll gladly pay over $4.00 a gallon if the stock market and economy were back to where they were a few months ago.

Now I have a full tank of cheap gas, but still not enough cash to go anywhere!

Thursday, November 20

Care Package

Being surrounded by a caring family is one of life's greatest blessings. These are loved ones you can trust to be there in your inevitable hour of need --- even if they get the call at 2 o'clock in the morning. And you are more than willing to lend a hand when family calls for help.

There is another family that is willing to help. This family will lift your needs in prayer, encourage you when you're going through a rough time emotionally, and understand your spiritual struggles. I'm speaking of those members of a Sunday School class or home Bible study.

Maybe it's time for you to receive a care package.

Thursday, November 13

Aging Equipment

I run various and sundry equipment where I work, including this 27 year old continuous collator. What used to run a formidable segment of our product pie, this poor piece of engineered machinery is in semi-retirement, thanks to the medical world graduating from multi-part computer forms to single laser sheets and virtual records saved on servers. On the positive side, since it is used less and less each year, the old Harris 750 is still in great shape, and when cleaned up looks nearly new, unlike our delapidated presses of similar vintage.

New or nearly new is good. Like a new or newer car compared to my '63 Chevy pickup. But on the other hand, the old stuff is paid for and doesn't need smogged. You can always find a positive near a negative, I guess.

Sunday, November 9

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle

There are few reminders of vintage transportation in the jet age. Oh, you can still ride a horse or drive an old tractor in the Pioneer Day Parade, but how many would like to sail across the ocean in a 2-masted ketch? This ship is so small you can spit from stem to stern - against the wind! A rich mixture of courage and faith would have been necessary to embark in this bark and the thousands who have been lost at sea will attest to it if they could.

The replica ship, The Hawaiian Chieftain, sails the eastern Pacific to raise funds so it can sail the eastern Pacific. Maybe it goes elsewhere, but I doubt it. Even with all of the new-fangled navigational additions, trying to negotiate a storm would be the height of heroism - or worse. It looks seaworthy while in port, moored to a solid dock, on a river or in a still harbor. But out in the open mouth of the high seas, get out your prayer book.

I'm only kidding, really. The young people who man and woman this finely crafted showpiece, love the adventure and opportunity to do something few of their friends will. They'll be able to share some great stories about how bad the food was, the whales they saw and storms they've survived.

Wednesday, November 5

Thank You, Mr. Obama!

My two cents: Had it not been for a huge turnout and vote for Barack Obama, who won 60% of the California vote, Proposition 8 would most likely have lost. The huge voter turnout of minorities for Barack undoubtedly included their strongly Biblical view of marriage. That, combined with a larger than usual evangelical and conservative vote [those bitter, gun-toting religious wackoes], helped it pass with a 4 point margin.

The map is self-explanatory and shows a simplified demographic of counties that voted for and against the proposition, along with percentage strengths.

So, thanks again to our new President [and, of course to the God of Presidents] and his army of volunteers who registered new voters in California!

Unfortunately, this spiritual battle is far from over as all such warfare is destined to be in this world.

Saturday, November 1

Belling the Cat

An Aesop Fable:

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighbourhood."

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:

"It is easy to propose impossible remedies."

Thursday, October 30

Associations Matter

The list grows as more radical past associations raise questions about Mr. Obama's radical beliefs and lack of judgment in choosing those associates.

William Ayers wrote the book, Prarie Fire, in 1974 (republished with other vintage works in 2006) which was in part dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy forty years ago.

How can we trust a President who has to disavow so many former relationships?

Sunday, October 26

Jesus and Proposition 8

In spite of the new cultural mandate to secularize certain biblical institutions or precepts that happen to be at odds with current opinion, marriage and homosexuality have always been and always will be spiritually defined relationships.

God called Abraham out of idolatry and established a people who were to reflect His moral purity, not the cultural standards of ancient Persia, Egypt nor the child-sacrificing Canaanites in the land which would become Israel. It has been true to the present day — “Come out from among them and be separate, says the LORD.” It is this foundational morality that followed true Christian faith around the world, making secular laws that endeavored to mirror biblical righteousness.

God’s version of marriage only includes a man and a woman. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female.’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 Homosexual marriage was never mentioned because it was completely foreign to God’s word and a Jewish culture that was based on His word.

Premarital sex was a grave issue and considered sinful (Matthew 1:18ff). And Jesus redefined adultery by saying, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28.

Clearly, if adultery leads to God’s judgment, so does other sexual sin. Jesus warns, “For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, [including homosexuality – the same Greek word is used in Jude 7’s reference to Sodom and Gomorrah] murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:21-23.

And in damning the city of Capernaum for rejecting him, Jesus said, “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:23, 24. Sodom’s homosexuality and judgment are detailed in Genesis 19 extensively.

Both the Old and New Testaments condemn many types of sin, homosexuality included. It was never a secular issue to the Jew or Christian. Jesus said, “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21. The issue of homosexuality goes far beyond what Caesar thinks about it.

California’s Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to define marriage as only being between one man and one woman. A yes vote would be agreeing with God. A no vote would be denying His supreme authority to rule in all matters of morality. I am forced to ask myself — am I willing to agree with the ultimate Lawgiver or listen to those who want to re-write moral law to fit their own secular beliefs?

Sunday, October 19

The New Paso Robles

Here are two letters to the Paso Robles Press, posted Tuesday. Four cents of opinion from a couple of conservatives. Two who are willing to fight for the old landmarks that others are trying to remove. Brave Old Worlders who get my vote for remembering the good old days in Paso Robles.

Letters 10-14
Posted: Tuesday, Oct 14th, 2008

Editor: I have lived in Paso Robles for 15 years. I like living here. I trust this town. But now I am questioning the good faith I had in its decency and moral goodness of its citizens.

I put up a Proposition 8 sign in my front yard. I was warned it might be stolen, but really had more faith in the people of Paso Robles. It was stolen. I feel violated. The thieves were in my yard, taking something that belonged to me. This letter isn’t about politics. It’s about morals and doing the ethical thing.

The person/people who stole it are obviously against Proposition 8. That’s fine. They have the freedom to vote how they want and speak the way they want. But, what happened to my freedom of speech?

It was on my private property. Apparently, they want freedom to marry whoever they want, but not freedom for somebody else who doesn’t agree with them to voice their opinion on their own property. I don’t steal their “No on Prop. 8” sign. I personally don’t celebrate Halloween, but I wouldn’t go to my neighbors and tear down their Halloween decorations outside their house.

Why does this get ignored? It’s a crime. They stole. Apparently, not only is same-sex marriage acceptable to some, so is trespassing and theft — thus no morals or ethics. What are they teaching their children? This made a bad statement of those who oppose Proposition 8.

Grow up, citizens of Paso Robles! Respect people even though they disagree with you. Stealing signs is so juvenile — though I know it wasn’t children who did this. There is a sign for a candidate running for mayor right across the street — and it’s been up for weeks. An adolescent who just wanted to cause trouble would take all yards signs; they wouldn’t care what it was about.

Americans can campaign with stickers, buttons, booths, fliers, signs, compassing, phone calls, etc. Or is it just some Americans that can? Liberals preach tolerance constantly, but for them it seems to go only one way. They want to receive it, but not give it.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion — unless you’re a conservative, then it’s stolen from you.

Sarah-Kate Correa

Paso Robles

Editor: I want to thank the Pioneer Day Committee for another great Pioneer Day. For me the clear highlight was the display of antique equipment. I don’t know of anywhere in the world you could be able to see display of operating equipment like that.

Prior to Pioneer Day, one of our most beloved citizens, Phil Dirkx, writing in the liberal county paper, suggested that we have to give Pioneer Day more pizzazz. Those of us that have been here for awhile are for sure concerned that Pioneer Day may not survive in this “new Paso Robles”

If it were the Farmers’ Market, you could pizzazz it up like San Luis Obispo did. To me Pioneer Day — from its founding — defined the character and soul of Paso Robles. If that is no longer important to the people who now live in Paso, I just think the character of the town has changed. I don’t think you can make it more important to people by putting more pizzazz in it.

In this last fight over who should pay for the water so development can continue, the change in character was clear. The traditional — or authentic — Paso Robles was the part of the community that was concerned about the people here. The new thinking — the new majority — believe that we have to make Paso a nice place to live so it will attract tourists and new residents.

Change happens. It used to be that when people moved here — like Phil Dirkx — they accepted the culture of the community and became part of it. During our period of rapid development, people moved to Paso for economic reasons, not because they wanted the culture that existed here. As those numbers increased, so did the pressure to change Paso Robles.

If we need to pizzazz things up, maybe the big advance forward would be to change the town name to something that would reflect our new values and attract tourists.

Walter Heer

Paso Robles

Saturday, October 18

Battle of the Bulges

There is a strange similarity between the sea lion mating season and election campaigns - lots of posturing and dancing during the bark-fest, but little damage being done. Then, out of the blue the teeth start tearing flesh, and real blood starts flowing. The incumbent wins or loses, and another harem is secured from or sacrificed to the challenger.

Aren't you glad it will soon be over?

Monday, October 13

All 60's Reunion

Another All-60s Paso Robles High School Reunion takes its place in the history books. We sailed through a sea of silver-capped seniors and tried not to look at name tags while talking (very rude). Hundreds of stories brought smiles and tears as we shared past and present tenses with people we hadn't seen in years (and for many - decades). It is amazing that after all this time so little has really changed. Few of us really grew up. We're still the little, lovable fuzzballs we've always been!

Thanks especially to all of the committees, leaders and volunteers who still have enough spirit (and energy) to put into a huge event like this. We can all nitpick about things we didn't like - that's pretty easy. But when we don't expect perfection from ourselves and excuse every mistake we make, the nitpicking is just so much hypocritical hogwash. So cheer up, nitpickers, and agree this was the best reunion ever! And be sure to thank someone for the great job they did.

Looks like these float folks were enjoying their tricked out ride. Keeping it simple was this year's theme, and the Thursday night decorating team made short work of cutting out letters and 'framing' the trailer. Hey, when you get that many Indian chiefs together in one place, miracles happen! Remember, if you click on these thumbnails, a larger version comes up so you can see everyone up close.

I'll be posting a zillion pictures of the Old Timers BBQ Luncheon, float-making, and the parade later this week (hopefully). I took my camera to the reunion but decided to take it back to the car. Visiting with old friends was more important (and the reunion committee had hired a professional photographer anyway, so I didn't feel guilty). Check my photo website at the end of the week.

So thanks to everyone for making this event a great success. May there be many more!

Saturday, October 4

A Jog Around the Park

Years back when I used to jog about three miles every other day, one of my treks would be to head toward Dentoni Park, circle it, then head for home. This 9.5 acre leftover from the valley oak forest boasts massive and majestic trees that are hundreds of years old. They were here before Stockton was first visited by the white guys. They were sapplings when the Yokut Indians, grizzly bear and tule elk lived here.

They were here long before the houses and shopping moved north from the Calaveras River.

They were here long before Paul Newman and George Kennedy starred in Cool Hand Luke, which was partly filmed right where the park is.

And they'll still be here when my last breath leaves this tired bit of earthly existence and I'm able to run again.

Sunday, September 28

Mum's the Word

It has been a whirlwindish week of exercising at K/P Corp., tackling the yard work, and surviving the financial crisis 'experts' duking it out on TV. Today is the Lord's Day, and I can take a break from the pain. Today, I can enjoy the yellow mums exploding in the front yard, savor a grilled cheese and ham sandwich, and watch the cat sleep. There's a reason for laying back on Sunday. "Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work . . ." Only six days. On this day I need to give back to God in worship and rest and reflection.

Boy, do I feel great Monday mornings!

Saturday, September 27

The Leaning Tower

I hate to be the far-from-proverbial doomsayer, but seems like many agree. We knew government was broken years and years (and YEARS) ago, which is but a reflection of a broken constituency.

The chickens have indeed come home to roost.

Thomas Jefferson in 1789: "Excessive taxation ... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election."

George Washington in 1789: "There is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity."

Thomas Jefferson in 1821: "If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected."

Thursday, September 25

Anne Bradstreet's House Fire in 1666

Yes, some Puritans wrote poetry. And yes, some of those poets were women!

Here are her heart's thoughts after losing what had seemed precious (some spelling and punctuation changed):

"In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thundring noise
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice.
That fearfull sound of "fire" and "fire,"
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Distresse
And not to leave me succourlesse.
Then coming out beheld a space,
The flame consume[d] my dwelling place.

"And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.

"He might of All justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sat, and long did lye.

"Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleasant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

"No pleasant tale shall 'ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adieu, Adeiu; All's vanity.

"Then streight I [be]gin my heart to chide,
And didst thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye
That dunghill mists away may flie.

"Thou hast an house on high, erect,
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent tho' this bee fled.
It's purchased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do [it].

"A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther's wealth enough, I need no more;
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Treasure lyes Above."

[One comment needed to end this rhyme:
Our all will turn to dust in time. Old Davy]

Saturday, September 20


When Angel crosses the threshold, Grammy goes into fun mode. Today, it is 'get out the new puzzle' and 'collectively brainstorm solutions' time. Never mind that it's a stegosaurus vex that glows in the dark, and not a picture of Cinderella in her dazzling pumpkin carriage. Togetherness is the theme of the moment, one that's getting rarer for us old folks. Sometimes, you want them all to move back in. Then you think about it and have a good laugh.

This morning was the 'Get On the Roof And Fix the Heater' appointment. Every few years the igniter burns out. And each trip up that extension ladder reminds me that there are much safer things to do in life. My amateur inspection revealed melting wires and a lot of contact corrosion, so the problem may have just been bad connections. But I cleaned the connections and replaced the module anyway. It works again, thankfully. This entropy thing is the pits.

Tuesday, September 16

Last Dance

Talk show host Glenn Beck has been encouraging his listeners to rush to Costco and purchase 6 months worth of food and survival staples. He says it will give you a wonderful sense of security. Nevermind the fact that some of your more nefarious neighbors will find out about it and target you for annihilation as soon as disaster hits. So, along with the provisions, you'll have to build a bomb-proof bunker and add the appropriate firepower to protect your stuff.

The current economic trauma is starting a long-needed dialogue about the clear and present (and future) danger of certain financial people playing the greed game.

Too little, too late. See you in the bunker. Hope you like cold cereal and powdered milk.

Saturday, September 6

Morning Marvels

Some of us love the composition, color and surprises in a magnified world. I especially enjoy these 'travel cruises' that cost next to nothing and let you return home within an hour's venture.

The local junior college garden is one of my favorite places to be just when the sun is coming up and there's still sprinkler dew on everything. The buzzing begins early and the backlit flowers are a rare treat for most. Mid-day gawkers miss the subtle colors and shadows seen only early or late afternoon.

Friday, September 5

Life With Mother

Sarah Palin's incredible image as the incredible mom with an incredible family has given as much (or more) weight to her coming campaign as her political views. Tears were flowing Wednesday night, even from the tough guys who succumbed to the touching family photos of her kids, yours truly not included.

Love has long arms, but let's see how she does in the arena of ideas.

Sunday, August 31

Beastly Beauty

The lowly fly has been the focus of recent studies that have discovered its amazing flight abilities. The old guy I photographed in the backyard today must have been one of the B-52 types. He moved like a Chinook helicopter, not like his smaller, speedy cousins. Perfect for taking close-ups.

Sometimes beauty has to be seen with an unnatural appreciation.

Nikon D70
MicroNikkor 55mm
TC-16A Teleconverter

Saturday, August 30

Original Equipment

Caswell State Park is 25 miles from us. I'd never been there, so a morning trek targeted this lonely outpost of the Park system. Only 5% of original Central Valley landscape still exists. This is one of its islands.

I felt like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings after taking one of the trails. A canopied, vine-laden, buggy forest ready to eat you up if you are inclined to meditative breaks. I tunneled through, walking parallel to the tortuous Stanislaus River, but not really seeing it without taking a few hardly beaten paths to its bank.

Little wonder that people didn't like having to deal with riparian forests and cut them down for orchards and farmland. Thankfully a bit of it has been preserved for us to enjoy and visualize what life used to be like when the Yokut Indians lived here.

Not a lot of color for pictures. Hope you enjoy them anyway.

Thursday, August 28

"Ah, Rats!"

"A man will do anything for a potato," is one of the more memorable lines from the movie, Empire of the Sun, where a Japanese prison camp in China during WWII turns its residents into real scrappers. When food is scarce, the worst in us comes to the surface pretty quickly.

The infamous rat is climbing the status ladder in some countries. The poor can afford only so much when it comes to eating meat. And when rat meat is cheap, cheap, cheap, it's an easy decision to make at the local butcher.

The question is, "Just what am I willing to eat when times get really tough?" Rats? Crickets? Snake? Snails? Fluffy?

Wednesday, August 27

The Crux of the Cross

Pastor John Piper's little book presents 50 two page vignettes that beautifully, clearly and scripturally explain the reason Christ died at the hands of sinners. Here is a sample from pages 61 and 62:

Reason 22:

'Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.' I Peter 3:18

'But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.' Paul's letter to the Ephesian Church 2:13

Piper writes:

"When all is said and done, God is the gospel. Gospel means 'good news.' Christianity is not first theology, but news. It is like prisoners of war hearing by hidden radio that the allies have landed and rescue is only a matter of time. The guards wonder why all the rejoicing.

"But what is the ultimate good in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God himself. All the words of the gospel lead to him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God. Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn't open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn't bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn't bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father's family but not in his arms.

"This is crucial. Many people seem to embrace the good news without embracing God. There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart just because we want to escape hell. That's a perfectly natural desire, not a supernatural one. It doesn't take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God's wrath, or the inheritance of God's world. All these thing are understandable without any spiritual change. You don't need to be born again to want these things. The devils want them.

"It is not wrong to want them. Indeed it is folly not to. But the evidence that we have been changed is that we want these things because they bring us to the enjoyment of God. This is the greatest thing Christ died for. 'Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God' (I Peter 3:18).

"Why is this the essence of the good news? Because we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. If our best joy comes from something less, we are idolaters and God is dishonored. He created us in such a way that his glory is displayed through our joy in it. The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of his Son's life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy, namely, himself.

"Long before Christ came, God revealed himself as the source of full and lasting pleasure. 'You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore' (Psalm 16:11). Then he sent Christ to suffer 'that he might bring us to God.' This means he sent Christ to bring us to the deepest, longest joy a human can have. Hear then the invitation: Turn from 'the fleeting pleasures of sin' (Hebrews 11:25) and come to 'pleasures forevermore.' Come to Christ.

Monday, August 18

The Noble Calling

After two and a half months of weekday Saturdays, I've finally returned to the assembly line. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and love during these months off. And thanks to God for daily strength (and overtime!).

Work has always suffered a bad rap since Adam traded his perfect job as a fruit picker for the sweat and strain of field work. Considered a curse by most, it started out as a blessing.

"The LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Genesis 2:15 But since rebelling against his Creator, the workplace has been the pits.

"In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground." Genesis 3:19a

But even in the pain and stress of working in an imperfect world and body, God can be glorified in our labor. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him . . . And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men . . ." Colossians 3:17, 23

Thursday, August 14

No Surprise

It isn't surprising that Russia should enter South Ossetia in the Georgia Republic and show the world its true face. This recent move is only another blurb in a long line of aggression and threats. You can get a good overview of the current conflict on Wikipedia. And a list of Russian actions since April, 2008 can be found here. These sources are probably biased, so read with that in mind.

Please don't depend solely on sound bites, news and talk shows to form your opinion about the Russian invasion. Do some research first.

Tuesday, August 12

I Never Knew John Lennon

Man, those were the days! Boots and sunglasses, long hair and wire-rims.

As a normal American, I never knew John Lennon in 1970, and what I did know was gleaned from record albums. I guess I dressed like him with little forethought.

They actually sold these duds in stores, so we went to the stores and bought it. We just wanted to fit in and look cool like every other pothead. I do apologize for having longer hair than John, though.

We went to San Luis Obispo for the best in fashion. A few stores downtown catered to the elite, and we were happy to oblige them. Barb was my striped pants and boots princess. I tried to maintain a semblance of the Paso Robles Country Joe --- fringe was in.

We were part of the anti-establishment. We rode the early environmentalist wave, hung with the crazies, worshiped acoustic guitar and CSNY, decorated with cheap "antiques," and enjoyed living on a "farm" with dogs, rabbits and wild cats.

Ironically, I drove a new Mustang GT fastback with a 390 in it, and both of us had real jobs that we liked.

The sold-out hippie world would have to get along without us.

Monday, August 11

That Law of Entropy

It's only a matter of time. Our once youthful bodies go the way of all flesh eventually, just like a sandstone arch in the desert.

I've seen pictures of people standing on these time-worn antiques. There is probably no thought given to how closely related they were to the stone below them. One day all is wonderful with the world, a picture perfect existence . . . and then the inevitable fall from this world to the next.

Thursday, August 7

Blue Ribbon Ballpark

Summer fare should include enjoying the perennial culture of local baseball. Whether little league or majors, there is something wonderful about paying $3.50 for a 'regular' Diet Pepsi or a bag of in-the-shell peanuts. And when there's a gentle breeze at sunset, so much the better.

Our new park replaced the older (and closer) field, where fewer seats, poor neighborhood and run-down construction motivated fans to vote it out. But there's little sense of nostalgia and history in the new location yet.

On the east side of the park is the Stockton Arena (a big rodeo is scheduled for Sept.) and to the south is a marina on the Deep Water Channel that backs into downtown.

Tickets are inexpensive if you're a senior and can come on Wednesdays. You can win $100 each week in their Bingo game along with other give-aways. You can visit with friends (the main reason most people go, I think). You can get beaned by a foul ball. You can take your kids and grandkids and let them have a taste of real, honest-to-goodness, hot-dog-loving America.

Tuesday, July 29

Keeping The Light On For You

PG&E has just joined the anti-protest movement against the anti-gay marriage movement in a big way by giving it $250,000. According to the Los Angeles Times:

"Analysts said businesses may be more willing to get involved this time because they have more gay and lesbian employees who are out and in positions of power and because they believe the amendment could hurt business if passed, by giving the impression that California is not friendly to gay and lesbians."

P.G.&E. spokesperson Eilen Chiu said:

“We fought for immigration rights as well as for affirmative action. Gay marriage is the next initiative we felt is worthy to fight for. Every single employee and customer deserves the right to marry.”

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." Romans 1:28.

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Galatians 6:7

"Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him." H.G. Wells

"Sin has made us rebels all,
However small or great the fall." Old Davy

Thursday, July 24

Olympic Prep All Gun and Games

Chinese anti-terrorist extremists tootle around on segways with small rifles (or large handguns?) in a country that only recently allowed the police such luxuries.

Terrorists, beware!

Now if they could just get a handle on their smog!

Friday, July 11

Better Red Than Dead

Won't be long before you'll have to resurrect that old Victory Garden mentality and supplement your WalMart Super Center groceries with the old fashioned kind --- home grown!

Lawns will be replaced with rows of pole beans and potatoes. Swimming pools will be filled with corn and tomatoes (after the soil is added, of course). Mother Earth News will break all circulation records. And people will start getting slimmer. Maybe that's a good thing.

Oh, and your Homeowner's Association will also be forced to approve raising backyard sheep, goats and pigs. Make that frontyard, too.

Saturday, July 5

Dead Jackrabbits in the Streets

Celebrating our freedoms yesterday on the 4th of July was on many people's minds as a misdirected Congress, Senate, President and Supreme Court whittle away at many of them. As government grows, freedoms dwindle. But there is a sidebar situation: As immorality grows, so grow the laws to stop it (or those that try to stop it). We are a nation of godless, me-first, sin-loving miscreants --- and we don't even know it.

American history proves the case that the Christian churches and members strongly influenced their world for good. Right and wrong were distinguishable. The Bible mandate (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) permeated the whole society. And justice was swift. All ancient history now, so be prepared to honor that new mandate --- socialism and bigger government.

It's back to the 70's today. In a short time you will most likely be maxing out your vehicle speed at 55 mph on the highway. This will save you a lot of money (only if you drive alot on the freeway). It won't save the truckers a dime (except in fewer accidents). It won't lower your gas prices by much, if any. But it will save you gas and may save your life, so that's the best part of the deal.

But then, why 55 mph? Why not a more optimal gas-saving speed like 40 mph? And why not require governors on our engines that would eliminate jackrabbit driving around town? And why not lower in-town speed limits, too? This will definitely save a lot more gas.

Gas guzzlers will soon be oddities in our history books and make for great stories to tell our great-grandkids.

Monday, June 30

Numbering Our Days

Moses' words in Psalm 90 were key in today's funeral message. "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may give our hearts to wisdom."

I didn't know Sharon (Sherry) Coy. Four months younger than myself, she died two doors away from a number of medical problems. She had been living with her son for awhile. When I got to his house (after a phone call), her teenage grandson was on the phone to 911, leaning over her body at the foot of the bed, trying to get her heart beating. But she had died hours before. I answered the door for the firemen who arrived within minutes, then stayed with young Andy while they did their routine.

I was a stranger to everyone as I sat there in the fourth pew waiting for the pastor to start the service. People just kept coming, taking their last look at their loved one, talking and weeping with family and friends. The service started fifteen minutes late. A number shared their thoughts.

Our days are indeed numbered. Martin Luther always wore a ring with a skull on it to remind him of his appointment with the One who gave him life and breath. It's all about perspective.

Saturday, June 28

Half Domed

This year's spring Yosemite vacation schedule was preempted by an unexpected surgery. There are still plenty of memories to savor from last year, though, so no complaining. But it will be good to go back --- maybe this winter. Now that would be an adventure!

Adventure was pretty ordinary when we were young. Climbing to the top of Yosemite Falls, sleeping under the stars, smoking dope in a national park. Real exciting stuff! Best left for the past and memory banks. My camera caught most of the action. That was in 1969, I think.

Guess I could still repeat all of it but the smoking part. Who wants to go with me?

Wednesday, June 25

Plant Those Roses!

Yesterday's visit to the local museum wasn't disappointing, except for the wildfire smoke lending its golden cast to my photography. I used a polarizing filter to deepen the colors and eliminate leaf reflections (except for the shot of the magnolia blossom).

I took paper and pen to note the names of the various roses, so you'll be able to identify any that you're thinking of adding to your garden. I really like Joseph's Coat (a climber), Dainty Bess and Strike It Rich. E-mail me if you want to know what type of rose you're interested in (hybrid tea, climber, miniature, etc.). Go to Dave Skinner Photography to see them.

Does your town have a rose garden? This is a wonderful way to add beauty to an otherwise humdrum place. Every little bit helps.

My recovery is in its third week, and I'm almost feeling normal. Bought and planted flowers this morning, so let's hear it for God's mercy in healing! We weren't created to sit in front of the TV or computer all day. Muscles are made to move, work and then rest.

Friday, June 20

Operation Successful!

Pretty simple operation, really. Just jackhammer through some 6" concrete so you can get to the sandy loam beneath it. No complications. Smooth as silk for this sidewalk surgeon.

Next, scoop out the bad stuff, making sure you don't touch the lawn to the right, the plumbing underneath and the curb to the left. Any slips here could result in a huge lawsuit or worse: severed pipes.

Now, carefully dump the defective pieces. Be sure not to leave anything behind.

Finally, it's time for a phone call to the boss to see how much your bankroll will increase after this little procedure.