Thursday, January 22, 2009

WV Trout Fishing Pics


Brother Danny Cooper, a deacon in my church, took me trout fishing today. From what I understand this is a rare privilege. Danny is a fisherman's fisherman and keeps his secrets. Today, he showed me some great places to fish, however, and I was very grateful.

We saw many trout today, but it was just too cold to get them to bite. The stunning beauty of the hills of West Virginia made it all worthwhile regardless.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WV Pickin' and Grinnin'

january-2009-005-copyOn Wednesdays, folks from the community come together at the town hall to play music for the senior citizens' luncheon. Usually there are two or three times as many people playing instruments like fiddle, base, mandolin, dobro, banjo, harmonica, and, of course, plenty of guitars. However, the snow kept them all away today, making for a smaller crowd that fits a little better into a picture.

My dad taught me how to play when I was young, although I have nowhere near his level of skill. That is mainly because I did not start practicing with any regularity until I was an adult, whereas he has practiced every day for many years. Below is a pic of my dad (center), playing in the group he started called the Four Pole Creek Old Time String Band. Dad plays fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and claw hammer banjo. group-large

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A West Virginian on Obama

Obama InaugurationI have tried to stay neutral in the political race, mainly by keeping my political opinions relatively quiet. I pastor a wonderful church made up of both Democrats and Republicans, fine people who sincerely embrace Christ and his Word. My own political affiliation is independent. In West Virginia, that means that I am registered without a party affiliation. My allegiences are higher than either party for the sake of my congregation.

I am discouraged, however, to see some of my fellow WVians falling for the most elementary political fallacies. Several months ago, West Virginia made national news through "man on the street" interviews that made us look very bad. No doubt, the media picked the interviews that portrayed us in the poorest light. Here is an example of those sorts of interviews.

Today, I ran into one of those folks and heard it with my own ears, and I was amazed. She was not a member of my congregation. The topic of conversation was today's inauguration. Quickly, she asserted that Obama was a Muslim. I could not resist correcting her. "No he is not," I said. "He has publicly stated over and again that he believes himself to be a Christian." We have no valid reason to suspect that he is a Muslim, even if that mattered as a qualification for POTUS. Though I suspect his definition of "Christian" and mine are quite different, I run into supposed "Christians" every day whose definitions are very different from mine.

She continued "But he looks like a Muslim." I responded, "What does that mean? There are millions of blacks all across America. Does being black make one a Muslim?" I stopped short of telling her that such a statement was blatently racist. She finished with the assertion that "he does not salute the flag." Once again, I responded, "One picture has accidently captured Obama before he had a chance to salute during the pledge of allegience. Such an argument cannot be made from a single picture." The fact that she so quickly moved from one desparate reason to reject Obama to the next was revealing.

I think many are looking for excuses to not embrace Obama for reasons that hearken back to a darker time in our nation's history. This is shameful. West Virginia has once again demonstrated that many of us are behind the curve. There may be many legitimate reasons to prefer that someone else be president, but please, oh, please! Fellow West Virginians! Let them be good, accurate, well-reasoned, and unprejudiced!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spencer Thomas (6) Reads Chapter Books Already! (Pics)


My wife, Kathi, began teaching Spencer Thomas, our home-schooled kindergartener, to read in October of this year. Three months later, he is reading Magic Tree House chapter books all on his own (2nd grade level books). Like his older brothers, he is passionate about reading. Tonight he refused to let me read to him before bedtime because he wanted to read on his own. The passing of an era. *sigh* Below, Spencer reads Dr. Suess while nestled between our living room furniture.


Both Kathi and I are certified to teach the very powerful Academic Associates Reading Program. Find out more at

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Deer Season Can't Come Soon Enough!


So I started the 2008 gun buck season using a Chinese SKS that a good friend of mine had given me. It was a fun gun, but I soon discovered that for deer hunting, it was just not accurate enough. Missed three deer at less than 40 yards. I knew it was the gun and not me when I borrowed a friend's .30-.30 and took two deer at the same distance with no problems. That meant I needed a real deer rifle.

I took the SKS down to the Trading Post in Marmet, WV and traded it for a Stevens (Savage) Model 110 .30-06 plus $50 to boot. I lost the gun my friend gave me, but got an excellent deer rifle for nearly nothing. Took it out this morning and zeroed it in. Took four shots to sight it dead center at 35 yards. Excellent gun. Kicks like a mule. Only eleven more months to go til the next deer season. Maybe by then I will have run out of deer jerky.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Evolutionists Fear Most

evolution2Evolution is an intimidating theory. It predominates among scientists all over the world, who marshal swarms of weighty facts and powerful assertions in its support. It has filtered down into common acceptance by laymen through classroom instruction, books, documentaries, TV shows, and casual conversations. It is ubiquitous and unchallenged by all but those who believe in creation.

However, the massive heft of evolutionary theory depends upon one simple presupposition: the God-option must be excluded from the discussion at all costs. For evolution to be true, the God-option must be shoved off the table.

The God-option is excluded by a deceptively simple tactic—limit the discussion to the exclusive realm of science. Science has defined itself as distinct from religion. The God-option is inherently religious, so its proponents do not have a seat at the science table. Intelligent God-option arguments are irrelevant and will never change the course of the discussion, because the God-option does not belong in the discussion. As experts huddle themselves around the table to decide the origin of all things, they come to a haughty consensus by tightening the huddle. No matter how loudly we object, we will be ignored. The God-option is not, under any circumstances, a legitimate option.

If the God-option is excluded, what can the evolutionists conclude? They must propose that life originated through natural processes. They have no choice. They have limited themselves through the arrogance of their own self-definition. They must therefore marshal their arguments as powerfully as their limitations allow. The full weight of their expertise, education, experience, and intellect is thrust behind the only conclusion they can possibly derive.

As long as Christians fail to recognize this simple fact, evolution will continue to be intimidating and will claim the faith of those who give in to its weight. If God created everything, there is no fact of science that is outside the scope of his domain. If He created everything, no aspect of evolutionary theory is truly intimidating. As Van Til said, “there are not because there cannot be other than God-interpreted facts.” God’s creation cannot undermine itself. God has not proved Himself wrong by means of science. Scientists have instead left God out of the picture, limited themselves to their wild imaginations, and must desperately cling to their conclusions as a result. If they do not, they must fearfully face what they do not dare—the God who made them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Consolation for the Brevity of Life


Like most people, I sometimes sink into a funk, in spite of the blessings I experience. Most of it comes from a keen awareness of my unworthiness of these blessings. The recent passing of friends my own age makes me also keenly aware of my own mortality. Tomorrow is guaranteed for none of us. I find myself tuning in to every vibration of my heart. Every skipped beat or rushed pattern scares me. My fears are mostly for my family and how they must cope if God were to take me. I know the pain of losing others; I do not want them to experience that on my behalf. Also, the job is not done, and I do not want to leave before it is. I have kids to raise and a church to pastor and a wife to love and the gift of life to enjoy.
113When these fears arise, I search my life for consolations--things that would make it all right if God were to take me. And I find that every consolation I want to grab onto is ultimately insufficient: My reputation, my life insurance, my accomplishments, my education, the good character of my children, the temporariness of the inevitable grief, even the unfoundedness of my mortal fears is itself an unfounded consolation. I am driven in those moments to the only remaining consolation that has any real meaning: Christ alone is my consolation--the fear cannot be entirely assuaged by anything else. Nothing else is worth meditating upon in those moments. Even if God grants me long life, nothing that comes next can compare to the glory of knowing Christ. I am his child, he will do with me what he will, and I will be with him for eternity. His love for me does not fail, in spite of my failings.

The question that remains is how can I glorify God in my present circumstances whatever they may be. It is possible to do so regardless of the circumstances. My reputation can be thrown in the dust. My wife could leave me. My children could forsake the church and never speak to me again. I could lose my ministry and need to work a job that just gets me by and seems to have no larger significance than that. Even then I can glorify God. The questions is, how?

I know it must start with this: whether I live or die, Christ is my consolation. There is glory for God and joy for me if I can settle this deep in my heart.