What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This past week has been, well, ....

I haven't posted anything in quite awhile. Mostly, I guess, because I really haven't had anything to say that I wasn't already blathering on about on Facebook. But, I'm going on three days free of Facebook. Detoxing, if you will. So, it's starting to kind of back up in me. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiaries (or victims?) of the overflow. So here we go ...


SUNDAY, Nov 6, 2016
The applesauce I made yesterday turned out well, Really surprised me how much the apples cooked down, though. It was easy enough to make. I peeled and cored and chopped enough apples to fill a full-size crock-pot. The "Back To Basics" brand gadget the Debster has had since forever did a great job.
Image downloaded from Cutlery & More's website
(Ours is green, not red, but otherwise identical)
I added a little water, about 1/3 cup each brown sugar and regular granulated sugar, a few healthy shakes of cinnamon, and a little nutmeg. Set on "high", and let it set for about five hours. I stirred it a couple of times, and then used a mashed-potato masher to squash the apples up fine and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed. Tasted great! The 4-quart pot-full yielded about 2-1/2 pints, maybe a little more.
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OK. It is now late Sunday afternoon. Watched Fox news for awhile. Listened to Hillary go on and on about the need for jobs programs to put our people to work rebuilding our infrastructure. Hmmmph. Didn't we hear almost exactly the same thing eight years ago, with Obama prattling about "shovel-ready" projects?
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I've never been a fan of Steve Martin, and I really detest John Candy. So wouldn't you know, I'm forced to sit hear and listen to "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", which the Debster is watching and laughing herself silly over. I'm hoping that maybe a home invader will break in and steal the TV, or shoot me, or something.


MONDAY Nov 7, 2016
Well, the dead continue to vote in the good ol' People's Republic of Illinois. But for an unusual twist, this time it was downstate, not Chicago, and by a Republican, not a Democrat. An 88 year old Republican election judge was nabbed for forging her late husband's signature on an absentee ballot and sending it in. She claims that her late husband, who had died in September, had fully intended to vote for Trump, but the absentee ballots arrived a couple days after he died. 

Just gonna say this: I'm glad I'm not on Facebook these days. I'd be willing to bet it is going nuts over this. The Trump people twisting in knots to justify what she did, and the Hillary crowd jeering at full volume. Yeeesh! 



TUESDAY Nov 8, 2016
A friend posted this picture this morning.
I couldn't agree more.
WEDNESDAY Nov 9, 2016
Well, I guess what I'm afraid of actually happened: one of the two candidates actually won.
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Interesting, in a train wreck sort of way, watching Hillary Clinton & her minions making nice-talk about wishing President-elect Trump well and calling for healing of our national rifts and divisions. My prediction is all that good-feelings stuff will last, at most, a week.
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I have to confess that I did not vote yesterday. I could not stand any of the major Presidential candidates. I would have been happy to support Gary Johnson, but his Libertarian Party platform is pro-abortion. There is the Constitution Party, but I don't think they were even on the ballot. Write in for Ted Cruz was a possibility, but also a waste of time. Maybe he'll mount a primary challenge in 2020. Can only hope so.

As for state and local candidates, I'm generally anti-incumbent in principle. I much prefer frequent turn-over in order to prevent any individual from becoming too entrenched and powerful. However, the non-incumbent was almost always someone just as bad if not worse. Hence, no one to vote for there, either. (On a side note, I did find it a little interesting that Republicans ran the table in all the state-wide races in Missouri.)
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I just read an interesting post on "The Cripplegate" blog, titled "Commander In Chief". I very seriously recommend this in-depth examination of the seemingly-simple phrase "The LORD reigns", found in 5 places in the Old Testament, once in 1st Chronicles and four times in  the Psalms. Eric Davis discovers ten distinct truths about our Almighty God: his certain identity, his exclusivity, his aseity (means self-existence), his sovereignty, his activity, his universality, his majesty, his potency, his certainty, and his eternality. Great stuff! Check it out. Even though it contains a lot of really deep concepts, it is written in an easy-to-understand style.

FRIDAY Nov 11, 2016
Saddened but not surprised by the reports from around the country of mass protests, rioting, looting and other violence in response to Trump's election victory. 

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It's Sunday morning, and time to post this. More coming next week. (Hopefully <grin>) Stay tuned!

God bless
Ron (& the Debster)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day Two: Your Earliest Memory

Continuing on with the 30 Day Writing Challenge .....


My Earliest Memory


I can't actually extract my "earliest" memory. I have several memory fragments from the same general time frame, but I really couldn't tell you which one is "the oldest". So, I'm going to bore you with a few of them.

One is actually a memory of a memory. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and our family was visiting someone in the city. I don't remember for sure who it was, but it was probably my Uncle Clyde. We were in the backyard, and I remember noticing the attached sunrooms behind the four-family flat next door. I remember saying that we used to live in a house that had one of those sunrooms. My parents were quite surprised at that pronouncement, because although we had lived in a flat like that when I was an infant, we had moved out before my second birthday. So, although I no longer remember the flat that we lived in when I was a year old, apparently I did retain that memory for at least a few years.

When I was not quite two years old, we moved from the city to a house in a small semi-rural area about 15 miles from the city, an unincorporated village called Horine. We lived there for about 2 years, maybe 3. My earliest actual memories take place there.

We had a propane tank along side the house, that fueled our furnace and stove. I remember getting spanked for using my tricycle as a step-stool to climb on top of it. More than once. I was already exhibiting the stubborn streak that has been my hallmark all my life!

We had a German Shepherd mix named King. He lived in a flat-roofed doghouse in our back yard, and I would ride him like a pony. I still miss my dog, more than 50 years later.

Me and King in Horine MO, c.1963

We had a gravel and stone driveway. I still have a scar on the crown of my head from when I was throwing rocks straight up in the air. My next-door friend and I were seeing who could throw the highest, and mine came down and bopped me on top of the head. Although not enough to require stitches, like all scalp wounds it bled like a stuck pig, scared the tar out of me, and left a scar that is still visible.

The most horrific memory I have is the day the car fell on my dad. He was working on the muffler, with the car held up with just a bumper jack. Something caused the jack to slip, and the car came down, trapping my father underneath. I remember my mom, who had witnessed the accident through the kitchen window, running outside screaming for help. A couple neighbors helped get the car off of him while we waited for the ambulance. He suffered several broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a cracked sternum, and some internal injuries. He was in the hospital for quite awhile, and when I was finally allowed to visit him, all I could see was plaster casts.

One more memory from Horine, and I'll call it a day and leave you be, faithful reader. It was February, 1963. All of a sudden there was a lot of frantic running around, getting bundled into the car, dad driving like a bat out of hell, running into the hospital, then dad driving me to my aunt's house nearby, and leaving again like a mad dervish. I was so confused and upset that my aunt, whom I normally adored, couldn't keep me calmed down. It all was resolved the next day, when I met my brand new sister for the very first time.

Those were the days, my friend. I thought they'd never end!

God bless
Ron and the Debster

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day One: Five Problems With Social Media

Hi everybody. I know that It has been awhile since I've posted a blog. Sorry about that. But a few days ago, I saw something that is giving me a boost, a kick-start if you will.

The Writer's Circle on Facebook posted this on March 28:





Having had a severe case of writer's block, this was just what I needed.

So, without further ado, let's give this a try, shall we?

Five Problems with social media.

Social media has done a lot of good, to be sure. Just one example is how it has enabled me to connect with and get to know a lot of distant relatives. Distant in both degrees of relationship, and in geographical distance. That has been great!
But, there are also many problems with social media, perhaps more problems than benefits.
In no particular order, here we go: First, I would note the obvious problem of people disconnecting in order to connect. We are so connected to people around the world, that we have become disconnected from the people that are physically close to us. How many times have you seen a group of people sitting around a restaurant table, or on a park bench, or wherever, so engrossed with their phones and pads and tablets that they are completely oblivious to what is going on around them? How sad.
A second problem is simply one of safety. More and more people are being injured or killed because someone was texting while driving. Operating a motor vehicle is a very complex activity requiring a great deal of concentration. Yet at the same time it seems to be so easy as to be almost automatic, requiring no conscious effort. So people tend to allow themselves to become distracted by their phones and lose track of what they are doing. The result, too often, is a nasty crash. Police, fire engines, tow trucks, ambulances, coroner's vans, hospitals, morgues, funerals. All because some numbskull just couldn't wait to type LOL and press the send button.
Yet another problem is that we are losing the ability to write complete and coherent words and sentences. In the interest of speed and expediency we have developed a shorthand version of our glorious, rich English language. Sure, shorthand has been around for a very long time, but only as a tool, to transcribe spoken speech into the written word. Not as a means of communication by itself. Believe me, this is not something to LOL about.
Yet another problem is that people, especially young people, tend to forget about remaining private and maintaining some semblance of personal security. Girls post risque photos of themselves. Or even very innocent posts that reveal enough information that a sexual predator can easily track them down. The 'net is awash with examples of people posing on social media as someone they are not, in order to lure unsuspecting victims into their webs.
A fifth problem is that of false courage. Keyboard commandos. Trolls, as they are commonly known. Cowardly little people sitting at a computer terminal taking potshots at people, being complete jerks, saying things that in person would get them knocked on their tail ends with missing teeth and bleeding noses and black eyes, yet since they are hiding behind their screen name anonymity they get away with it.
This exercise called for an essay about five problems, but I'm going to mention a sixth one, just as a bonus for all of you that have slogged through to the end: False information, and those gullible enough to believe it. For example, I love the satirical website "The Onion". It is so well done that the satire often fools people into actually believing it, and then re-posting it as real. and then some other fool reads that post and forwards it yet again. There are other satirical websites besides The Onion, and it is just mind-boggling how many people fall for that stuff.
Satire is great; those sites have disclaimers all over them; it is not their fault that people ignore them. However, there is another, related, problem. There is a large group of people that deliberately twist facts, misrepresent things, and outright lie through their teeth, in order to advance their own agenda. The false statements are often easily refuted by anyone that is able to think about them for even a moment; just a modicum of common sense and logic reveals the impossibility of the statement. Others are easily refuted with a few seconds of fact-checking. Yet there are people that are so stupid, so gullible, so mindless, that they blindly follow them because they appeal to what they believe. I remember an instance a few years ago. Someone "quoted" President Obama saying something that was so absurd that even a hard-core conservative like me didn't believe it and easily found it to be false. Yet my nephew, a full grown man, with above-average intelligence, bought it completely. When I pointed out to him that it was, in fact, completely false, my nephew responded with, "Well, maybe he didn't actually say it, but he could have because it's just like him." I tried to point out that there are more than enough TRUE things to go after Obama about without resorting to lies, but he just kept scrolling through the web posts looking for anything that would bolster his personal conceptions.
Social media. As a whole, I think we were better off without it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seriously, I want to know who decides the "rules" for "bushcrafting".

I have been an outdoorsman most of my 56 years. My very earliest memories are of going fishing with my Dad and my Uncle, and family camping trips. I did my time in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I've done overnight backpacking trips. I've floated countless streams. I've caught just about every kind of fish that exists in Missouri and Illinois waters, and eaten most of them. I've done more solo camping trips than I can even begin to count. I can build a fire a dozen different ways, and cook more dishes on a campfire than many can on a kitchen stove.

Admittedly, much of this is in the past, and because of current and chronic health issues most of it will have to remain in the past. But that doesn't take away my qualifications for doing this little rant.

I recently watched a delightful young man (with autism) try to make his first fire with a ferro rod. It was a damp and windy day, and his fire materials were not ideal. Yep, he "failed", and he had to use a Bic lighter to get it going. And he apologized for "cheating". Friends, that is NUTS! Why should this young man, just starting out on his first outdoors adventures, think that he had somehow "cheated" by using a lighter?



I also recently watched another person, a woman outdoorsmanperson, carve a beautiful spoon with a really whimsical look to it, and sort-of-apologize that it wasn't really a "bushcraft" spoon. Says who?


I have kibbitzed on countless Facebook debates concerning the difference between "bushcraft" and "woodscraft" and "outdoorsmanship" and "camping" and several other terms. These things can get downright heated, as the keyboard commandos and internexperts get their grooves on.

The last I heard, there was no governing authority over our hobbies. There are a few widely respected, almost legendary, individuals such as Mors Kochansky and Ray Mears still around. But there is no person or group of persons that has the right to tell you or I how or how not to camp, what gear we can and can't use, what method is acceptable and what isn't. Nobody!

Mitch Mitchell, of the Native Survival YouTube channel and History Channel's "Alone" fame, thinks that friction fire such as a bowdrill is the ultimate fire-making skill, because it requires absolutely no unsustainable materials, no matches, ferro rods, no chemicals, not even pieces of steel. But he also carries a lighter and flint-and-steel most of the time. So is he "cheating"? Is he violating his own dictum? No, of course not. Sure, if you can master a bowdrill fire, you are pretty much set even if you find yourself completely naked. A sharp rock to shape your kit, a little natural cordage for the drill, and you'll have fire. Doesn't mean it is wrong to carry and use alternative means. It isn't breaking a "rule".

I just watched another guy fly a tarp over his tent, as added protection during a rain-storm. And he all but apologized for it, because it "usually isn't done". So what? Did it work? Did it serve to keep him and his gear dry and comfortable during a storm? Then WHY should it be considered "wrong"?



Bottom line is this, people. There are certain rules of safety that of course we should all follow. Boil your drinking water. Cut away from your body. Don't look down the barrel of a gun. Don't eat a plant unless you are positive that it is not poisonous. Keep your matches dry. Don't break through the ice to go swimming. You get the point.

There are certain rules of physics that can't be violated. Gravity hurts, so don't fall down holes or out of trees. Crap rolls downhill. Heavy crap rolls downhill faster. Don't stand and wait for it to magically go around you. Whatever goes up, must come down. Don't be underneath it. Again, you get the point.

Then, there are certain temporary rules put into place for a specific time and reason. These usually involve skills challenges. Can you build a sustainable fire in the rain using just your ax and locally found resources and no other tool? Can you put together a kit that in the aggregate weighs no more than five pounds and then spend at least 24 hours out in the woods with only that kit and the clothes on your back? These kind of challenges and little games can be a lot of fun and educational for everybody involved.

But to start declaring general and arbitrary rules that are supposed to be "for everybody" is just plain ridiculous!

People, get out into the woods and fields. Stay safe. Have fun. Enjoy the beautiful nature that God has given to us. Take photos. Draw and paint pictures. Use whatever gear you have or want, and don't listen to those that say you MUST have this or that, or that you CANNOT use this or that. There is just not enough time for that kind of crap in my life, and I suspect not in yours, either.

OK, done ranting.

God bless!
Ron and the Debster

PS -- feel free to comment, and don't forget to subscribe to get email alerts for the latest posts!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Don't simply make the world a better place to go to hell from.

Matt 28:18-20 ESV: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority iin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Great Commission that Jesus gave to His church is to make disciples, or learners / followers, in all nations, baptizing and teaching obedience. We are to preach the gospel of repentance and salvation. It is a theological gospel, a "soteriological" gospel, NOT a social gospel. We are to point people to Jesus, and guide them on the way to spending eternity with Jesus. And although part and parcel of our life as a Christian is to be compassionate and loving to all, that does NOT mean that our purpose is to make the world a pleasant pit-stop on the way to hell.

Abortion is a heinous sin, the cold-blooded murder of an unborn infant, and should be treated as such. Yet even if we reverse Roe v. Wade and outlaw every kind of abortion, as we should, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we build and staff and fund and operate free health clinics on every block in every city, and heal every injury, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we provided food, clothing, shelter, and health care to every orphaned or homeless child in the world, that would be a wonderful thing, yet we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

All of these things, and many others, are good and wonderful things. Yet the net result of those things by themselves is simply to make the world a better place from which to go to hell.

Christian, by all means go out into the world and do good. But do not use the gospel as an excuse to just do good. Or worse, do not allow doing good to replace the gospel of salvation. Use your good works to reach people with the gospel! 

Heal their physical wounds, and introduce them to the Great Physician.

Soothe their troubled minds, and introduce them to the Wonderful Counselor.

Feed their bellies, and introduce them to the Bread of Life.

Be a Scout leader, and introduce them to the One who said to bring the children to Him.

March in front of an abortion clinic, and introduce them to the One who formed them in the womb.

Be an arbitrator bringing together squabbling parties, and introduce them to the Prince of Peace.

Use this new year of 2016 to serve a desperate and needy people both body AND soul!

God bless you all
Ron and the Debster

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions? Are you KIDDING me?

image downloaded from Google Images
New Year's Resolutions. I gave up on them years ago. I have no will power; just ask the Debster, she'll tell you.

I do, however, look at it this way. I am not perfect. There are a lot of things in my life that need changing. In fact, anyone that is even remotely honest with themselves would have to say the same thing.

As the expression goes, "Be patient with me, God isn't finished with me yet." Though it is a bit of a cliche, there is truth in that. 

Philippians 1:6; 2:13 ESV - "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ .... [F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." 1 Thess 2:13 tells us that He works on and through us  through His Word, the Bible. We absorb His Word by reading it, by memorizing it, by hearing it preached, by meditating upon it, by discussing it with other believers. Full-immersion in His Word is the ideal for any follower of Jesus.

This, my friends, is an ongoing thing. Growth in our faith, as evidenced by growth in our walk, in our speech and actions and thought patterns. Rather than so-called "Resolutions" that we make on a late night once a year and then fail quickly, we should be growing daily, little by little.

Growth in faith and maturity, evidenced by a lifestyle that continually grows more and more Christ-like, takes time. Peter spoke of babes longing for the milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:2). The writer of Hebrews spoke of those that need milk and those that need meat (Heb 5:12-13). Paul used a similar expression (1 Cor 3:2). 

A human baby does not become a mature adult overnight; it is absurd to expect that. But on the other hand, for a person to REMAIN a baby and not grow up is a tragedy; to call an adult "childish" is an insult.

Change is necessary, and basically inevitable, for all believers. As I go through my daily life, absorbing God's Word, one thing I should constantly be on the alert for is what needs to be changed? Is there sin I need to confess, repent, and forsake? Is there a good work I need to be doing? What needs to be done to help me to be conformed, not to the world, but into the image of Christ?

image downloaded from Google Images
Don't make a "New Year's Resolution" and grit your teeth to accomplish it by your own strength and will-power, then fail miserably, then give up until the next New Year. Day by day, allow God, leading you by the Holy Spirit through His Word, to decide what needs to be changed in your life, and then to accomplish it FOR you.

Forget the world's version of "self-improvement". Embrace the work of God instead.

May God richly bless you all throughout this coming year!

Ron and the Debster

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Spaghetti squash the easy way!

Oh no, I'm cooking again .....



Gotta admit it. I love spaghetti squash. It's inexpensive to buy, super-easy to grow for yourself, and can be easily prepared several different ways.

First thing you do is choose a squash that is ripe. It should be a uniform yellow. If it is white or greenish-tinged, it's not ripe. If the squash has a lot of brown or black markings, and or the skin is soft enough to be indented by your thumb, it is too ripe and should not be eaten (although the seeds would probably still be good for planting). The one I had was almost too ripe as you can tell from the brown spots on the picture below, but the skin was still hard, so it was OK

Take your ripe squash and rinse it clean. Use a very sharp and long heavy knife to slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.


If you want, save the seeds for planting in the spring. After they've dried out, roll them around in your hand to separate them from the pulp, and store them in a cool dry place. The seeds can also be roasted like pumpkin seeds for a snack. If you decide to just throw them away, watch where you toss them. I once found a plant growing in a sorta hidden corner my back yard. Not sure how the seed got there. Stuck to my shoe? Bird grabbed it from the trash can and dropped it? I just let it go, though, and harvested several good squash from it that fall. HA!



Place the cleaned out halves face down in a microwave-safe bowl and add about an inch of water.



Nuke it for about 15 minutes on high. Poke the skin with a fork. If the fork easily penetrates the skin, it is done and ready for the next step. If the fork won't go in, or requires some effort, nuke it for a few more minutes and repeat.

Once it is done, use a fork to scoop out the flesh. It will separate into strands that look very much like fine spaghetti, hence the name. CAUTION: it will be very hot, so be careful handling it.


Once you have all the flesh scraped out and all that is left are very thin skins or rinds, you toss the rinds into the garbage or compost bin.

The flesh can be prepared a couple of ways. You can add spaghetti sauce, or a butter-and-garlic sauce, or just about any way you could fix spaghetti. (I have NOT tried to make mac-and-cheese with it, though. I kinda doubt that it would work very well.) My favorite is butter and garlic, with a little salt and pepper.


Bon appetite! 

The squash can also be prepared on the stove, by boiling the halves for 30 to 40 minutes, or by turning the halves face-down in a roasting pan and baking for about 30-45 minutes at 400*. Check for doneness after about 30 minutes.

I think next summer I'm going to try wrapping the halves in foil and baking them in the coals of a camp fire. Yep. Sounds good!

God bless!

Ron and the Debster

A look at the Biblical view of material wealth.

I hope everyone had a wonderful, Christ-centered Christmas. Ours was quiet and uneventful. Most of our nearby family members were traveling elsewhere, so we had the day pretty much to ourselves. 

Recently, a friend posted this on Facebook (H/T to Bob S.!):

One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. 
 After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.
“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. 
The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. 
"We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” 
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “It showed me just how poor we really are.” 
Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective. 
Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to remind us what’s important! 
This got me to musing about the Biblical perspective on wealth.

The Bible teaches us that money and wealth, although not good or bad in and of themselves, have the potential to be used both for great good and for evil. 

It is helpful to remember that Jesus, during the time of His earthly ministry, was far from being a wealthy man. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matt 8:20; Luke 9:58) 

Jesus said that when we love wealth more than God, it is impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 19:16-24; Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-25)

Jesus also said that riches can be deceitful, preventing the gospel from taking root and bearing fruit. (Matt 13:22)

The Apostle Paul tells us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil that lead us away from the faith. (1 Tim 6: 10-11)

There are many, many warnings throughout the Scriptures about how wealth can be deceitful, a false hope, used by Satan to keep our eyes focused on things of the earth rather than things of God, used by rich men to oppress poor men, and so on.

On the other hand, money can be used for great good. Jesus, although poor Himself, did have some wealthy friends. There is evidence that John the son of Zebedee had a lot of influence at the palace of the high priest. (see John 18:15-16. Most scholars equate the unnamed disciple with John.) Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the ruling Sanhedrin with enough wealth to allow him to own a private tomb. It also seems that the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were at least fairly well off.

So, bottom line, is having money or material riches good or bad? 

If you are depending on them rather
than on God to get you through life, they are fatally bad, on a spiritual level. On the other hand, if you have them, and give God the glory by using them in His name to accomplish His purposes, they are priceless.

If you use them to gain the praise and/or admiration of men, they are fatal. If you use them to God's glory, they are priceless.

It's not exactly even WHAT you do with it, but WHY and HOW you do it. See Acts 4:32-5:11, about a man named Joseph and a couple named Ananias and Sapphira. Here's the story. At this time very early in church history, "the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (4:32)" In that spirit, Joseph (along with many others) sold some property and donated the proceeds to be given to those believers who were in need. Ananias & Sapphira also sold some property, but they held back part for themselves, and then apparently lied about it, claiming they were giving all of the proceeds. Peter told Ananias that the money was theirs to do with as they wished, but for attempting to lie to the Holy Spirit, they paid with their lives.

You get the idea? It's not the money, it's the attitude towards it that matters.

If God has blessed you with material wealth, please pray that He shows you how to use it for HIS glory and not your own. If He has blessed you with poverty, give Him thanks for preventing you from being tempted to glorify yourself, thank Him for whatever provision He does provide to you, and pray that you avoid being tempted to feel sorry for yourself.

Thank you all for reading!

Have a happy New Year, and stay safe out there.

Ron and the Debster

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Musings on a stormy, rainy day after Christmas

So, did everyone have a good Christmas? Was Jesus Christ honored in your home? I hope so!

Well, it is now the day after Christmas, so THAT madness is over with for a good while. I've written a few posts about that the last few weeks, so 'nuff said.

You know, as crazy as most holidays are, you just gotta love the day after ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas that involve lots of food. Leftovers, baby! Leftovers! No real cooking necessary for several days, if done right. Yeehaw!

OK, moving right along. I am not a believer in the whole "global warming" hullabaloo, at least the stuff about man-made "greenhouse" gases destroying our climate. I do believe that climate is cyclical, with long periods of warming and cooling. Shoot, we're probably overdue for an ice age. But, I digress. What I have noticed, as even a hermit like me cannot avoid noticing, is that our winters have been warmer lately. Here it is a few days from New Years Day, and it is in the 50's outside and in the middle of a day-long thunderstorm. Forecast is for four to ten inches of rain between last night and Monday night, seventy-two hours or so, accompanied by record-setting flooding. Yikes!

I tend to follow these things fairly closely, so I was kind of surprised to just now finding out about a new attempt by our Federal Gubmint to circumvent our constitutional rights. This time in the form of a bill proposed ten days ago by Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, called the "Assault Weapons Ban of 2015". I can't believe I'm just now hearing about this! Normally, something like this would be all OVER social media! But, I guess everyone was too busy posting cute Santa pictures and stuff. Anyway, here's a link to the actual bill.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4269/text
I HOPE it never passes! If it does, what little is left of our country's historic rights will go right down the tubes. Please read this, then contact your local Representatives and demand that they make this abomination go away!

I have had an account on YouTube for quite some time, so that I can subscribe to various channels and comment on videos. About a week ago, I began making and uploading some of my own videos. So far there are only three, because at this point I am just learning how to film stuff and edit the clips into something watchable. But I hope to really start putting up some serious content very very soon. Mostly outdoors-related stuff about camping, so-called "bushcraft", gardening, and the like.

This one features Daisy and Stempy, put together from a couple of short clips on my phone from almost a year ago.

This one features Daisy and Gidget, again from a couple of short phone video clips from this past spring.

And the third is actually a short slideshow of pics from a summer day at the park with the Debster and Tyler. Regular readers will recognize the pics from an older blog post, but in the video I did some editing and added a sound-track. It was a lot of fun.

If you happen to like what you see, I'd appreciate your "thumbs up", your comments, your subscriptions, and even sharing with your friends. Just like this blog, I don't make any money at all, and do it for the sheer pleasure I get from doing it.

One other new thing I have started doing, is a sort of journal or pocket diary, where I am just jotting down ideas, random thoughts, and so forth. I had on hand a mini-composition book, 4-1/2" by 3-1/4" with a few pages ripped out, and have begun with that, just because it was handy. But the more I think about, the better I like the small book. It fits in any pocket, so it's always handy. And, the small size pretty much forces me to be concise. As we all know, given the time and space, I can get pretty darn wordy!

I have other things on my mind, but the Debster doesn't want me airing family dirty laundry. So even though I can say what I want to say as general commentary about life, without naming names, she still has fits. So, I'll that all slide.

Well, I've rambled on for too long as it is. See ya next time!

God bless you all
Ron & the Debster

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Going to See Christmas Lights and Decorations

Hello everybody.

Contrary to popular belief, I love Christmas. I love my Savior, and I love celebrating the Son of God's entry into this world as a man. I love telling people how he came to live a perfect life, to die a horrible death to atone for the sins of His people, and to rise again from the dead to reign eternally over His kingdom. I love that very early in church history, the church chose this dark and dreary time of year to celebrate the Light of the World.

So, last night the Debster and I took one of her best friends, Inge, to see The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows' annual Christmas "Way of Lights" display in Belleville. Afterwards, we drove through a couple of subdivisions to see some decorated homes. Inge is about 80 years young, and quite healthy and spry, very limber and athletic, for her age. But she doesn't like to drive at night or in heavy traffic. She and Debster have been friends for over thirty years, and we both love her to pieces. You can't find a better, more warm-hearted and loving person than Inge. 

What follows are a few semi-random thoughts about the whole thing.


I really wasn't too enthusiastic about going to Belleville. Not that I have anything against the town, for I don't. It's a pleasant enough place. No, one problem is that I truly believe that the Roman Catholic Church teaches heresy, such as idol worship, Mary-olotry, works-based salvation, promoting their traditions to the same level as God's Word, papal infallibility, and many other damnable things. Because of this, I am very uncomfortable with doing something that may seem to support this organization. But, the Debster really wanted to go, as did Inge, who, as it happens, is also a rather devout Catholic.

(I just want to interject here that the revulsion I have for what the Roman Catholic Church teaches does NOT extend to the members of that church. There are a lot of wonderful people in that church, including many of my friends and relatives. I love them all, and pray that the Lord will release them from their spiritual bondage and take them into His own family.)

Anyway, the other problem I have with this particular drive-through display is strictly logistical in nature. The driving lane is not clearly marked, with several turn-offs into other parts of the complex that are not, strictly speaking, part of the tour. Although they have people stationed along the way with lighted wands to direct traffic, they are for the most part teenagers that just wave the wand in random manner. The road itself does not have curbs or reflective paint on the edge, so if you drive through with your lights off as requested, it is quite easy to veer off the road onto the grass. Passengers in the car are treated to a breathtakingly beautiful display of lights and displays narrating the birth of our Savior. The driver of the car, which would be ME of course, is, in the meanwhile, developing quite a headache trying to stay on the proper path, not drive off the edge, and not hitting people wandering around on foot, in the dark, often wearing dark clothing and hence virtually invisible. Also trying to avoid rear-ending the car in front which apparently doesn't have tail-lights. 

To make matters worse, there were a couple of displays you could go through on foot, and we didn't spot them the first time through until we were past the turn-offs for them. So I had to go back through a SECOND time so that the Debster and Inge could get out and go through the petting zoo, and go into the building that housed a display of Christmas trees from around the world. As we were leaving, the Debster asked me to go back a THIRD time because we forgot to go see the display of decorations made from Lego blocks. At that point, I had to put my foot down. No way I was putting myself through that again!

Once we had finally put Belleville in the rear-view mirror, it was time to wander through a couple of subdivisions. There were a fair number of homes that had beautiful displays of lights. Personally, I am partial to strings of pure white lights outlining a house and trees and such. But there were a number of beautiful colorful displays as well. One thing I was sad to see was that Nativity scenes were very rare; I think we saw only one or two. All the rest were straight secular displays. Often pretty, yes, but also quite empty of any true meaning.

Well, enough rambling on about this. I'm going to close with a quote from a public post that someone put up on Facebook recently:
To All My Liberal Friends: 
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2016, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other countries nor the only " America " in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.
 
To My Conservative Friends: 
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year
Thanks for reading!
God bless you all!

Ron and the Debster