The Sum

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.   1 Corinthians 9:23-25

John CoffeyWe are the sum of our injuries. I know the conventional saying is that we are the sum of our experiences, but I couldn’t help being struck by several stories I’ve seen lately as well as reflecting on my own life.

Have you ever dealt with averages? Maybe you have a gas mileage monitor on your car. You’ve likely noticed that it’s easier to bring an average down than up.

I’ve found the same to be true of our life on earth. Oh, I have more experiences to draw on in dealing with life. I have more knowledge now than when I was younger, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily better off overall.

There is no denying that I am now less than I was. Years, injuries, and diseases have taken their toll physically. Bad decisions, calamities, and regrets have taken their toll mentally and emotionally. I sometimes am reminded of something past, something I wish I could have back, and I physically cringe.

Weariness has become much more of a companion, a more frequent and unwelcome traveler on my road. He holds the back of my coat and pulls on it, making the steps I have yet to take harder and slower.

Someday he will hold tight, dig in his heels, and prevent so much as one more step.

In that moment, when he thinks he has won, I will slip through his grasp like smoke and appear in the arms of Jesus. I have that confidence, that sure knowledge that all of the weight that has slowed me down and worn me out will be left behind in a sin-riddled husk.

www.hdnicewallpapers.comBut those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.    Isaiah 40:31

There are still good days to be had. There are recent days of pleasure and satisfaction. Even though the weariness continues to come at me, I can keep going, because I know that “I can do all things through God Who strengthens me.”

Even better, I know that the day will come when weariness will be nothing but an erased memory as I stroll the streets of gold in the unfiltered presence of God! I know that I now struggle neither in vain nor alone.

I don’t know how anyone without that hope, without that Spirit of God residing in them can deal with the insults of life.

Are you struggling alone? Have you accepted Jesus’ payment for your sins? Have you accepted but don’t stay in touch with Jesus daily?

Just stop right now. Pray. Call out to Jesus and tell Him that you accept His gift of salvation. Ask Him to put His Spirit in your heart and power you up with His strength and love. He’s right there with you. He’s waiting, yearning for you to just talk to Him and invite Him into your life – forever.

Knocking at the Door

Dogs and Biscuits

Be strong & of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   Joshua 1:9

I love Norm-isms. Those are the pithy sayings of the character Norm from the TV series, Cheers. For today is Norm’s response to Sam asking how he’s doing today.


The things I do…

“It’s a dog-eat-dog- world out there, Sammy. And I’m wearing Milk-Bone underwear.”


When I was a service writer at a car garage, I’d greet the guys by asking, “Dog or biscuit?”

How’s your day? How’s your week, your life? Are you feeling like the dog or the biscuit? Whether you’re the dog or the biscuit right now, remember that everyone takes turns as the biscuit. When that happens, remember good, old Joshua. Even on your worst days and in your worst times, God is with you wherever you go.

Even King David had his bad days; really bad! But no matter how hard he was being chewed on, he kept his eyes on God.

Valley Shadow of DeathYea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23 :4

I’ve been close to death 4 times: heart attack in my 20’s, double-bypass in my 40’s, gangrene in my 50’s, and coming close to renal shut down just 6 months after the gangrene. On top of that has been bankruptcy and foreclosure. Joshua 1:9 has been a source of strength and comfort all along. I keep that and several others at the bottom of my prayer list.

Faint on tthe RoadThe Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.   Psalm 121:7

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:38-39

Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!   Psalm 27:14

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Prov. 15:13

Do not fret…because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret – it only causes harm.  Psalm37: 7-8

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:38-39

Those are the verses that have helped me get through those biscuit days. And when the wheel turns, when you are back to being the big dog, always remember…

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.   Psalm 50:15

When I was finally pulling out of my nose dive, I made sure everyone knew that it was God Who brought me through it all. As bruised and battered as I was, I gave credit and glory to God for preserving me, for preserving my soul.

God loves being leaned on. He also loves to hear “Thank you!”

Thank God

Pope Suggests Re-Phrasing the Lord’s Prayer

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…”   Deuteronomy 30:15

Lords PrayerThe Pope, and a lot of people, struggle with one petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation.”

No one wants to believe God tempts us. Indeed, He does not. None less than Martin Luther sought to clarify this part of The Lord’s Prayer. From Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing:

And lead us not into temptation. What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

The pope wants to find a better phrasing to combat confusion on this part of the prayer. I believe education and not re-wording is the answer. Honestly, the wording is fine as is. Understanding it is the key.

First, Luther was right; God indeed tempts no one! But does God lead us to temptation, to choice, and, if so, what’s the difference?

ChoicesGod does indeed lead us to temptation, or to choice. God certainly led Adam and Eve to temptation when He asked them to take a look at this one tree in Eden.

“C’mere you two! I want to show you something and ask you for a favor. You see, I made you, this garden, the sky, all the animals…everything! It’s all for you, and I did all of this, because I love you so very much! I just want to ask you for an act of love in return. Just one thing. See that tree over there? Leave that one alone. Stay away from it. Don’t even touch it let alone eat anything from it. You can knock yourself out with anything and everything else in Eden, but I’m asking for a little love from you by way of you staying away from that.”

That is God NOT tempting them. That is God leading them toward a choice, toward the opportunity to choose, to love back. It was the serpent who did the tempting, who tried to get them to make a bad decision.

Here is where everyone needs to be educated more than the prayer needs to be re-translated. What does “Tempt” mean?


verb: tempt; 3rd person present: tempts; past tense: tempted; past participle: tempted; gerund or present participle: tempting

  1. entice or attempt to entice (someone) to do or acquire something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or not beneficial.

“don’t allow impatience to tempt you into overexposure and sunburn”

synonyms: entice, persuade, convince, inveigle, induce, cajole, coax, woo; informal sweet-talk


Kinda like that…

See the difference? God presents the choice and asks Adam and Eve to choose Him. The Serpent “entice(d) (someone) to do or acquire something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or not beneficial.”


God does not tempt. Satan and his staff do. God will lead us to a temptation/choice and asks us to choose Him. This is what God has done since the beginning. He shows us His love and providence and simply asks us to stay with Him and not betray His love. Look at Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

No temptation there, but every incentive to choose the good, to choose God. As always.


Check out my Christmas Novel, The Substance Hoped For!

Substance Cover

Can You Hear Me Now?

BBB 3A contemplation based on Bloom by BeautyBeyondBones.

Caralyn’s first night at inpatient was a scary time.  A marginal, indeed average, Sunday-going American Christian, she found herself at death’s door.  She was “soul tired” and “had nowhere else to turn.”

“I had nothing left.  Nothing left but God.  And so I decided to hear what He had to say in the Bible.”

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.    Psalm 4:1

Maybe it wasn’t the prayer of the righteous, but it was the prayer of the desperate!  It’s maybe the prayer God waits for from everyone who is absent from His flock.  He’ll go to great lengths to get our attention.  As much as He loves us, He’s willing to hurt us, if that’s what it takes to get the conversation going.

“Can you hear me now?”

Just like a parent grounding her child, giving him a spanking, or sending her to bed early without TV, God will do what it takes to start the dialogue.  He’ll take whatever communication He can get.

Reaching Out“I would give God a shot.”

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;    Psalm 13:3

Well, maybe Caralyn’s “give it a shot” approach wasn’t exactly the all-in, run into the arms of her loving God moment, but, hey…it was a start.  Considering she was perhaps hours away from that “sleep of death,” reaching out that weak finger to God likely brought a tear to His eye and had the angels popping the cork of a celestial champagne bottle.

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”    Luke 15:10

From little acorns…

So now she’s BeautyBeyondBones.  Who would’ve thought?

We each have a role to play in God’s kingdom.  Caralyn is an on-line powerhouse.  Me?  My niche appears to be as a leader in my home church.  Yours?

Well, you’ll never know till you take that chance to be more than just a Sunday morning Christian.  Open your ears, your heart, your soul.  Don’t find yourself drooling on the floor with God standing over you asking…

“Can you hear Me now?”

See my recent review of her book: Bloom-ing Great!  Or cut to the chase and order Bloom right now.

Bloom Cover

Bloom – ing Great!

Bloom CoverBloom is a new book out by BeautyBeyondBones.  If you haven’t heard of her or read anything I’ve written about her, here are links to previous articles about her on my site:

Beauty and the (ED) Beast

Caralyn is The Beauty Beyond the Bones

Briefly, she is a recovered/recovering victim of anorexia, which she refers to as ED (Eating Disorder).  ED is insidious and is so much more than a body image issue.  It literally sucks the life out of its victims.

Caralyn was a mere 78 pounds when admitted to an in-patient recovery facility.  She was so near death that the staff set up a cot for her in the nurses’ station.  They were afraid she might die that night, and they wanted to keep a close eye on her to try to keep her alive.

BBB 3She’s now a thriving young woman in New York City and was recently named one of the top 25 bloggers on eating disorders…IN THE WORLD!!

On to Bloom.  This book is the story of her recovery, but it can also be the story of anyone’s recovery.  From anything!  The motto of her blog site,, is, in fact, Because we’re all recovering from something!”

Here’s how the book is formatted, which I think is inspired.  There are no numbered chapters.  The pages themselves are not numbered.  Recovery from anything is not a by-the-numbers process.  It’s messy.  Caralyn’s recovery is an overall model of success, especially her faith in God and how He guided and powered her recovery.  But – listen closely – your recovery will not happen with all of the same events and in the same order as hers.  One might tear pages out of the book as each section hits home and then put back together in the order that they come to each individual.

DenialIf you are like me, your initial reaction might be that you aren’t in need of a recovery from something.  I bought the book when it came out to support my friend and maybe learn something new about her, but I didn’t read it until recently.

Should’ve read it sooner!  This is a great guide for anyone who needs a better, closer relationship with God, everyone who has struggles in their lives.  That’s all of us, friends!  Me included!

Every turn of the page starts with a heading.  Right below that is an excerpt from the diary she kept while at the in-patient facility.  Below that is a current contemplation of that entry from her recovered perspective.  The section is finished off with questions only you can answer and plenty of room to write those answers down.  Writing things down is a big deal.  It’s important!

I met with Caralyn when a business trip of mine put me in the same area she had traveled to.  She graciously agreed to meet me, as we’d been “conversing” through her blog for over a year and become friends.

We met at a bakery and visited for under an hour.  When it was time to go, we walked out together and she hugged me.  I felt healed somehow.  Between the conversation and that physical contact, I felt as though I’d been relieved of a burden I didn’t know I was carrying!  Even today I can’t define why I felt that way, but that is definitely what happened.  I don’t think she was even aware of the effect she was having at the time.

I mean…it was just some coffee and a bite over some meandering conversation.  Her inner light, God, reached out to me and gave me something.

My point is that I didn’t know I was burdened!

PainYou might not have ED.  You might not even be thinking that you need anything, but remember her motto: Because we’re all recovering from something!”  You are either recovering or you need to recover and might not even know it!

Having read Bloom, I plan to introduce it to a Sunday Morning Bible class I will be starting in January.  The goal of my class is to get people out of Sunday Morning Christianity and into seeing the whole world through the lens of God’s Word every minute of every day.  This is especially important for people whose faith is under attack.

While I won’t be giving out homework assignments, I’ll be encouraging people to get online and research on their own the topics I cover.  In fact, I’m working to ensure I’ll be able to access the church’s Wi-Fi with my laptop so we can Google things if the need arises during class!


I feel your pain, Dog

Bloom plays right into this format!  Bloom says, “I understand you!  I ‘get’ you right here in this moment that you’re having, because I’ve been in that hole with you.  I’m asking you to search and ‘get’ God with these questions designed for this specific hole.  Here’s the ladder; you need to climb it, you need to decide to ‘get’ God!”

Jesus saved us from our sins; He did all of the heavy lifting, but we still need to find our way to the simple “yes” to His love and mercy!  We need to be active in our faith, our journey through this life with God.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.    1 Peter 5:8

We can’t lie back, doing nothing.  Faith is ever active, ever defending itself, ever reaching out whether it’s a seed struggling to break out of the dirt or a beautiful flower of faith working to Bloom!

I invite you to work on your walk with God, if you haven’t.  If you feel that you have an open blossom of faith, I invite you to Bloom again.  Rose bushes grow more than one flower!

If you haven’t guessed by now, just click on any Bloom in the article to order a copy…and grow a first – or another – flower

Bloom Cover

Life & Death

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?   1 Corinthians 15:55

I had a “procedure” done last week. It’s one of those things guys are supposed to do every few years once you turn 50. Let’s just say that saying “Ahhh” doesn’t always involve a tongue depressor during post-50 physicals.

Anyway…when I last went through this three years ago I had a rough time coming out of the anesthesia. I was in that twilight stage where I was becoming aware, but I couldn’t move or talk. My body started hyperventilating as I panicked. More than anything I just wanted someone there to calm my distress. I gradually went back under and came out later OK.

Wife must be here

…and make sure my wife is here after, ’cause I’m scared

I had a heart-to-heart with my wife and the anesthesiologist prior to going in and told them I’d really like Julie to be right there when I start waking up. I mean, I’d REALLY like her to be there. A lot!  Did I mention I don’t want to be alone in Recovery?


Call me a sissy, but there are a couple things that really freak me out. One is not being in control of my faculties and the other is being intubated.

The latter was my big fear when I had double bypass in 2003. I was not worried about dying. After prayer and talking, we realized I’d either wake up to her or God after that surgery. There would be no bad outcome.

Paramedic intubation

OK!!!  She’s at 1918 Milburn..

The prospect of waking up still intubated in the ICU was a hell on earth I was terrified of, more so than the prospect of dying on the table. You see, I’m very fond of breathing. And of being able to control my breathing. And of being able to talk, if I so choose. But waking up intubated and with my hands tied down so I couldn’t pull it out – as I’d seen someone else once – was not something I anticipated reacting to well.


If you want to get information out of me, just bring in the equipment to intubate me, and I’ll give up my own mother before you even ask. Seriously.

Speaking in earthly terms here, I came to realize this past week that I am not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of living, of life here on earth and in this body. Life on earth is too full of pain and trials, some – like intubation – too horrible to contemplate.


Victoria Arlen, Dancing With the Stars

There’s a young lady, Victoria Arlen, on the current season of Dancing With the Stars who contracted a nervous system disease that left her trapped in her body, unable to move or speak for years. She heard the doctors tell her parents that she wasn’t likely to live and they needed to be prepared to lose her, to let her go.


I guess intubation isn’t too bad…by comparison.

So let’s redefine “life’ and “death.” Real life doesn’t start until we die our way out of this world. Real life doesn’t happen until we end this earthly journey and meet our eternity with Christ in His full glory. When Adam and Eve sinned and God condemned them to earthly death, the Hebrew is literally translated as “Dying, you shall die.”

In other words, life on earth is nothing more than the process of dying. It doesn’t get better. It keeps getting worse. Being here on earth is death! After you’re done here, if you have accepted Jesus, if you’ve given Him permission to pay your debt of eternal death for you by way of His death on the cross, that’s when you truly come alive!

If you haven’t had your Come-to-Jesus moment, if you are still outside of His grace, you need to talk to Him. RIGHT NOW! Just call out to Him in sincerity; He’ll hear you any place, any time of day. Tell Him you’re sorry for all of the bad things you’ve done, all of the things you wish you could get back. Ask Him to come into your life and make it right. Tell Him you accept His payment for your sins. Ask Him to live in your heart and help you make your life one He’d be pleased with.

Then get yourself a good Bible, by which I mean a good, literal translation and not some paraphrased translation. If you’re not into the “thee” and “thou” sort of thing, get a New King James translation. I consider anything else as a bit suspect.

Then find yourself a good, Bible-based church. I go to a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, mostly because they go back to the Bible on every issue that ever comes up. Wherever you go, it isn’t about the music. It isn’t about “Feeling Your Faith.” If you find yourself somewhere that talks about that, RUN LIKE YOU STOLE SOMETHING!! Faith happens regardless of feelings. If you run your Christian life based on your feelings, you’re going to have problems.

Jesus in Gethsemane

“Please find another way!  If not, I’ll go.”

Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven to let Him off the hook for the cross the night He was arrested by the Jews. He didn’t feel like doing what had to be done, but He did it on faith. He struggled too!  He just didn’t stumble, He stayed perfect!  He had our temptations and never gave in!


For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.   Hebrews 4:15

So get with a community of believers, because none of us can cross the finish line without all of us helping each other get there! Times will go well and not so well, but with your nose firmly planted in God’s Word, you’ll learn how to cope with it; God’s Way.

Enough from me. Get on your knees, fold your hands, and talk to Jesus. He’s waiting.


Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.   Romans 13:1

US Flag TatteredNo country is perfect. Let’s just get that out of the way up front.  All countries exist and have their authority from God.  They may misuse their authority, and “We ought to obey God rather than men…”, but insofar as we do not transgress God’s law’s, we obey civil authorities.

Even evil Babylon served God’s purpose top punish the Children of Israel for a) not keeping His commanded observance of the Shemitah (see Sweet Release) every 7 years and b) sacrificing their children to the pagan god, Molech.

Isaiah and Jeremiah mourned for their beloved country and people, Israel. They were patriots who were grieved at what their country had turned itself into and worked tirelessly as God directed them in an attempt to save it.

In that context, I am an American patriot. I love the country I used to know and grieve for what it has become, what it has chosen to become.  I pray for its recovery for former glory as One Nation Under God, because it is now One Nation Under Self.

I grieve for the lost character that won two World Wars and generated an economic engine that powered the world. I grieve at the new character that says self over God and country, the new character that turns over hospital beds like restaurants turn over tables instead of putting the patient first, the new character that that disrespects its own home and neighbors in self-righteousness instead of contributing to a positive effort to solve problems.

Do I still say the Pledge of Allegiance? Do I still sing The Star Spangled Banner, standing, with my right hand over my heart?  Yes to all of that!  I do that, because I think most of America feels the same, but is being drowned out by voices with bigger microphones who think they know better than the true majority.

DNA Pirates CoverHas America been hijacked by people with wickedly selfish agendas? Absolutely!  Who else would convince so many Americans to tell God to get lost?  Who else would prey upon their own population and third world countries with terminal experiments in radiation, cancer, and covert  sterilization projects?  See my series on DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral.

But I’m not going to disrespect and condemn the entire country and population in an effort to resist the problems we face. I’m going to stand with my hand over my heart, tears in my eyes, and sing the National Anthem, pledge allegiance to the flag, and communicate in my small corner of the country as best I can what problems we face and what mind set I think will combat those problems.

old-holy-bible-olivier-le-queinecMy first, best action is to continue to pray every day for our country, it’s true leaders, and all those who fight against evil, both on battlefields and halls of government. God is our ultimate Hope and Protection, now and in eternity.  His Protection remains to those who are faithful and is suspended from those who tell Him to leave.

His Protection has left America. It will only return when we look to Him and His Ways to solve our problems and change our hearts.

Even in its weakened state, The United States of America is still a beacon that draws refugees from the world over. It’s still the best thing going on the planet, but that won’t last without a return to the values, to the God that made us great in the first place.

American Flag

Will we ask God to sew it back together?

Guns: A Root Cause Analysis

It’s different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one.    Luke 22:36

Jesus: Put your sword back. People who live by the sword die by the sword.    Matthew 26:52

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.    Matthew 22:37-40

How do we reconcile the first two passages above? Defending yourself is one thing, both individually and as a nation.  Having the means to protect yourself is one thing.  Owning and using weapons as a way of living is quite another.

Karate SparringI’ve had friends who earned black and brown belts in a variety of martial arts. To a man and woman, they all had the same basic message for me: every good fighter avoids a fight at all costs.  You never know when you might be standing in front of that one person who’s going to hand you your ass.

Jesus was saying more or less the same thing, but more delicately, of course. Be prepared for trouble, but don’t go looking for it.

Matthew 26:52 also needs to be taken in context. Jesus wanted to be taken.  It was His job.  He had to be arrested, suffer, and die for our salvation.  That wasn’t the time for a sword fight, especially against trained troops.

So that leaves me in favor of gun ownership for home and self-defense. If you look at my article from last Monday, Gun Violence, you’ll see two very important messages.  First, the solution is in changing our hearts as a nation.  Second, you can follow the link provided to a Washington Post article from 12/3/2015, which clearly demonstrates that overall gun deaths have declined over the last two decades, coinciding with an increase in gun ownership!  The only parts of the country with increases in gun deaths are those states – Illinois, most notably – with the strictest gun laws.

Love HandsAs for Matthew 22:37-40, well, that would pretty much solve everything, now wouldn’t it?

Below I’ve pasted in a complete article from, which does a great job of talking about FACTS, not hyperbole and politics. When I taught corporate management classes, one mantra for solving problems and making the best decisions was “Think about WHAT’s right, not WHO’s right!”

It’s about fact-based discussions. Following is a great one.  I’ve highlighted parts to help you skim the article.  I also kept the links to other articles, which I don’t all agree with.  I provide them for you to look at and analyze yourself in light of the December 2015 article cited at the top and the article below.


Opinion | I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.

Read more:

The Post’s View: The worst kind of American exceptionalism

Chris Murphy: Mass shootings are an American problem. There’s an American solution.

Richard Glover: How Australia beat the gun lobby and passed gun control

The Post’s View: Gun control’s silver bullets

Charles C.W. Cooke: The right to bear arms isn’t up for debate

Unforced Errors

WildfireFor we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.   Ephesians 6:12

TsunamiSomeone dies. Someone else loses a job.  We’ve had natural disasters galore between Mexico’s earthquake and an onslaught of record-shattering hurricanes.  The common question is “If there’s a loving God, why?”

People often ask that rhetorically to try to make the point that God doesn’t exist. Some people really want to know, in which case it’s a great question, but addressed top the wrong being.  Instead of arguing that disasters prove that either God is not love or simply doesn’t exist let’s argue that terrible events ARE proof that there is a devil who hates us all and loves to cause as much harm and suffering as possible!

Angry at GodWhy is the evidence always directed against God instead of acknowledging the obvious, namely that such things prove that the world is wicked and the devil does exist? Ergo, God must exist too.

But let’s back up and take this from the top. Slowly.

God is love. As the Creator of us all and of all we can witness and more, God puts Himself last.  That’s how much He loves.

Dog & Boy 2God wants a loving relationship with separate, intelligent life, so He created us and a world for us to live on and a universe in which it can exist. He created us in His image, but as individual beings apart from Himself.  He made us this way to have a real relationship, a relationship of choice on both parts.  See A Love Tutorial!

Furthermore, God put Himself at risk from His own creation, those He loves, by giving us the ability to say no. He makes plain what it takes to have a relationship with Him: don’t eat from that one tree.  Just that one.  Later it’s the Ten Commandments and certain conditions even after the Tree was chosen.  He never gave up on us!

Think on this: do you have someone who loves you? Do you cherish that love? Is that love meaningful to you?  What if you found out that that person only loves you under compulsion?  What if that person has no choice but to love you no matter what?  Would you still find that love meaningful to you?  Would you still cherish it?  Would that person even be an equal to you in your eyes once you discover that his or her love is mandatory for them?

They would perform all of the acts of love such that you wouldn’t know that it was forced upon them. But if you found out that it was all required, forced behavior, would you enjoy it as you do now?  At all?

sexbotArtificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies are coming together to create robot companions; dinner company, house mate, slut…?  Go ahead and Google “Sexbots” and see how far we’ve fallen.  These automatons are for lonely people who will settle for all of the mindless acts of love, because they can’t find a real mate, sad as that is.

The point is that, in this case, the creators (humans) place themselves over the creature (robots). Humans would get conversation, company, a nanny, or sex from these things.  It’s all about what an individual can take from or do to something/someone else.

Did I just say “someone” in reference to robots? Well, yes.  Because lawyers and ethicists are starting to ask the question, “If AI is a sentient being, who’s going to protect the rights of these sexbots?”

While I find the argument ludicrous, it goes to prove my point; we are not at all like God. We – as a race – create a new “life form” for the acknowledged purpose of enslaving it to our will and even abuse.  Some people find that objectionable and want to protect the robots…and/or make a buck.

God did not create robots or AI. He created living, self-aware beings who could choose and then put Himself at risk by allowing us to reject Him.

adulteryAnd exactly how do we reject God? After He asks us to use His creation within its design parameters, i.e. be nice to each other and the planet, we do everything we can to use ourselves and others outside of everyone’s design parameters.

Some of us even flip Him off and tell Him to get the F*** out of our country and lives.

satan B.jpgNo, we choose against God and enslave ourselves to the god of this world and his “…rulers of the darkness of this age…(and) spiritual hosts of wickedness.”

And who put HIM in charge of the world??

Um, that would be us. Because, starting with Adam and Eve, we chose Satan over God.

When terrible things happen, it shows very clearly that God does indeed love us. He loves us so incredibly much that He allows us to reject His overtures of love if we so choose.  It’s also proof that the choice of rejection puts us in league with Satan and gives him sway over this world.

And then we complain about God’s behavior when the consequences come home to roost. That perception also demonstrates how the rulers of the darkness of this age…(and) spiritual hosts of wickedness work in this world, cloud our minds with bad thinking and perceptions.

Fortunately, Jesus placed Himself even lower than the angels in order to suffer our lot and pay our debt for us. Again, all we have to do is to choose wisely.

God loves you


“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.    Isaiah 40:1

Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration.    Apuleius Roman philosopher, rhetorician, & satirist (124 AD – 170 AD)

Stress - business woman running lateSome things are heard so often we don’t truly hear them any longer. We just rush through them without thought.  When it comes to Bible passages and what we say in church on Sunday mornings, I think this is too much the case.

Jesus-Good-Shepherd-12As a former actor, I was trained to be able to say something as if it were being said for the first time. That can be a challenge when confronted with something like the 23rd Psalm; “The Lord is my Shepherd…”  And it is such a thing of beauty!

One passage that ends most church services is from Numbers 6:24-26. It is the Benediction, which we hear most Sundays, and which is rattled off far too quickly.  Speed kills (meaning).  Allow me to type it here as if scripting it, not literally as punctuated and written in the Bible.  Think of someone saying this for the first time as they leave a friend’s house, not to return soon.  The speaker is thinking about what he or she is going to say next, making it up as they go along.


The Lord bless you!

(Pauses thoughtfully)

…and keep you.

(Cups her host’s face in one hand)

The Lord make His face…shine upon you.  And be gracious to you.

(Both hands on the host’s face now, looking deeply into the eyes)

The Lord lift up His Countenance upon you. And give you peace.

(Kisses the hosts forehead and exits)


HUGGING-FRIEND-570How would you feel if a dear friend said that to you in that way as they leave, not knowing when you’d see each other again? Warm?  Bittersweet? Comforted by such kind words?

There is much comfort to be had in the Bible with passages like this, the 23rd Psalm, and more.  Sit some place in the quiet with time on your hands and slowly read the Psalms.  Read the whole Bible.  There is much to learn in there, not the least of which is how much God loves you, everything He sacrificed for you, and how He wants to spend all of eternity.  With you!