Scenes from the Trails

In front of the house, found this fella nosin’ around.
This is a bit after dawn last week during PT on one of the tracks on post.

One of my favorite scenes down by the creek.

Creeks are so low currently.

6 More Reasons for Prayers of Thanksgiving

One of my greatest blessings is coming to love men and women who love Christ, love his church, and understand what it means to steward creation.

Once again, thanks to my friend Jim, his stewardship of God’s world, (and some good photography skills), we all get to enjoy these via thanksgiving.

Thank you, dear one. See you in the morning at Sunday school and church.

Pirtle Points, Episodes 1-5

Episode 1: The Apocryphal Books: What They Are & Why They’re Not Canonical

Episode 2: Is the God of the New Testament Different from the God of the Old Testament?

Episode 3: The Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit

Episode 4: How & Why Has the World Gone Crazy? (Part I)

Episode 5: How & Why Has the World Gone Crazy? (Part II)

Critters & Creeks

I went for a walk/jog this evening just before the showers popped up. A couple of pretty girls were out munching grasses near the trail, too. A few paces further, I was looking down at the creek. The smell of rain was in the air, the skies heavy and ominous.

My Country?

I make no apologies for some things. I love freedom. I love America’s founding principles. I love the triune God of the Bible. I love my wife and children. I love my church family. I love my committed Sunday school class members. They, too, assemble on the Lord’s Day each week and at other times of the week, to worship, to serve the body, to bear witness, to learn, to pray, to encourage one another. 

And I, a soldier for 20+ years, am a patriot, in the truest sense of the term. I love the soil I know so well; I love localities and the ways in which local accents of my people vary from region to region. I love the way fellow motorcyclists often wear patriotic bandanas or have license plates displaying their service to brothers they served with in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations. 

Patriot, when you trace it linguistically, is rooted in the idea of a “fellow countryman” and patrios, “of one’s fathers,” and patris or “fatherland.” It’s of the soil, local, folks one knows, people you’ve likely shared a meal with. 

Within the last two weeks, I, along with scores of Christians, sang lyrics that go something like this: 

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!

America! America!

May God thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness,

And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

Here is the sad irony, however. My country has grown unrecognizable to me, at least in many cases. God has shed his grace on my country, but I don’t recognize my country. It’s become a Tyre and Sidon, a Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Not the men I serve with day-in and day-out; they are patriots. They work unbelievably long hours, serve many, many nights alone and away from their families. They sleep little, run and ruck much, mentor future soldiers, deploy, stress their bodies’ physical limits, endure suffering, give up holidays with families, deploy again, endure separation, endure much physical and emotional trauma, and, by and large, no one knows—except their inner circle. 

And then you have this sort of … stuff: 

America’s second-largest school district is teaming up with various left-wing organizations to promote child transgenderism.

The article, not unique, is footnoted for you, if you dare. This is where your tax dollars go. Am I alone in thinking that this is reprobation displayed? Men in drag? Transgenderism indoctrination of children? 

When I was a child, I learned about sexuality from my parents. I learned from the Bible, not from homosexual men dressed up in carnival attire who promoted ‘gender fluidity’ and cross-dressing and ‘trans’-genderism. (Remember: he who controls the dictionary rules the world.)

You think it doesn’t affect you? Okay. You may want to rethink that position.

God shed his grace on us? Really? Like the song says? Yes, I believe he did. But we’ve squandered it. We’ve opposed grace. We’ve tried to dethrone design. Most refuse and suppress God’s way. We reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). 

Alarmist? Narrow? Judgmental? One could go on with the adjectival accusations. But I have a question: Is it true? 

Awake yet?

You may want to do more than think about girding your loins. There is one, an ememy afoot, prowling more than just around, and his mission is not ushering in shalom, but devouring what is good (1 Peter 5:8).


5 Birthday Reflections

It is not unique, I suppose, to reflect upon things after one’s birthday. As I sit and write tonight, the thunderstorms have recently moved through my area. I can smell the grass that was mown earlier today. And I can see a couple of wooly clouds hovering between the moon and me, moving very slowly. A few stars are becoming visible. It is balmy and still very humid. I have had a good supper, talked with several friends, and am now reading and writing until I fall asleep. And tomorrow I get to play golf with my loved ones and create more good memories. But for what it is worth, here are a few reflections:

  1. I recognize and appreciate God’s providence more and more the older I grow. What do I mean? The older I get, the more I understand that I control very little of my life. I make plans, sure. I go to work on time. I have my ambitions, etc. But I have learned that God is big and I am small.
  2. I have learned that it is a blessing to do what you love. I am in Christian ministry. I love it. And I am a soldier, and I love that, too. The fact that I can serve the Lord via serving soldiers and families is one of my great joys.
  3. I have learned what God meant when he wrote through Solomon, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22, ESV). I would not want to think of how I would have ended up were it not for my Carrie Jane. She, due to godly parents and the grace of God towards her, has shaped me for the better in ways I cannot adequately articulate.
  4. It goes quickly. Sure, like everybody else, I have some long days. Heck, some long years. But overall, life goes quickly. I think it’s one of the reasons I love literature so much. The best of it captures the human spirit, the human soul, that which endures. Life is made of moments, and if we don’t appreciate them appropriately, we tend to forget the blessing that our time is, and how much grace we have been granted.
  5. There’s more to do. I still have a lot on my bucket list. I have some goals that I long to accomplish. And, to repeat, # 4 above, time goes quickly.

So I know there’s nothing profound here. But I was feeling reflective and grateful and aware, once again, of the ticking of the clock, and of the call to be faithful while we can.

3 Books & Reflections Upon Each

A voracious reader, I would need several more lifetimes to read all the books I long to read. But that’s not to be, so reading wisely is a priority for me.

My interests are in some ways broad but in other ways quite narrow. Short stories and novels about war, about soldiers and Marines, are one of my favorite genres. Books like The Things They Carried and For Whom the Bell Tolls remain among my loves.

I had never read John Knowles’ A Separate Peace until the last two days. It’s classified as a war novel, but that is somewhat misleading. A motif undergirding the story of Gene and Phineas (Finny) and Devon (their school) is certainly World War II, but there are no explosions, no bombs, no artillery, or tanks. Instead, the wars are internal. Physical injuries are in the novel, that’s for sure, but not in the way I was expecting. This is primarily a novel about insecurity, about boys coming to grips with manhood, about jealousy, misunderstanding, rivalry, and pretensions. I am embarrassed that I just now have read it, because it was a moving piece.

A second book I read this week was Carl Trueman’s Strange New World. If you want to understand the isms, the ideas and ideologies, and the worldviews that have brought the West to its present state of clown world, where men are now ‘birthing persons’ and attorneys cannot define what a woman is, and children in government schools are indoctrinated to be victims and to judge themselves and others by skin color, read this book. My copy is highlighted so often and the marginalia so pervasive, it looks like I have read it for years instead of over just the last 48 hours. Read this book, if you want to understand the times and know what you ought to do.

The last book I read over the last few days was soul food. It reminded me that, even though I live in clown world, the world was not always so upside down, at least for the clear-headed. A.A. Milne’s classic stories, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh reminded me, via Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore, and Christopher Robin, that some creatures do know what right is and actually sometimes pursue it.

Happy reading.

A New Day

Drove to pick up Chick-fil-A breakfast for some instructors training future soldiers. Coming back onto post, this day’s sun rose over the armor and cavalry motorpools and the streets were washed honeycomb, and the fog hovering over the ponds was flocculent, then wispy, then all but vanished. The hours before dawn and the moments following attest, do they not?

Simple and Beautiful

I have memories of childhood and board books. I remember stiff, thick board books about horses and animals, and I especially remember Snoopy and Peanuts and, earlier still, Winnie-the-Pooh books, and my little red stool my mom kept in my room for as long as I can remember. I remember my Snoopy stuffed animal and the color of my first pillow cases that smelled so clean after Mom washed them and they dried in the sun on the line behind the house.

Today I reread Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and I was suddenly back to early childhood with my imagination on fire.

Then we drove today out of our beautful area and a young buck crossed the road nonchalantly, this year’s fresh antlers still in velvet.

Then we went and took in Independence Day, grilled hotdogs, ate sweet watermelons, canteloupe, strawberry cake, and relished the spectacle of fireworks with the saints from church.

I am tired, and I have Sunday school material to work on in the morning still when it’ll still be dark, but my cup is full. Thank you, Lord, for days like today.