This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Creative Slow-Cooker Meals:

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Cheryl Moeller is a seasoned mother and a standup comic. She is also a syndicated columnist with her own blog (www.momlaughs.blogspot.com) and contributes monthly to several online parent websites. Cheryl has coauthored two books on marriage with her husband and has written for www.mops.org and Marriage Partnership. Cheryl does comedy for parenting classes, MOPS groups, wedding or baby showers, church retreats, women’s conferences, and those in line at the grocery store.

Visit the author's website.


From the celebrated coauthor of The Marriage Miracle comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.

Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:

  • Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
  • Salmon and Gingered Carrots
  • Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
  • Indian Chicken Curry
  • Apricot-Pistachio Bread
  • Shrimp Creole
  • Rhubarb Crisp

... and many more! Perfect for the frazzled mom who never has enough time in the day, Creative Slow-Cooker Meals gives readers more time around the table with delicious, healthy, frugal, and easy meals!

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Spiral-bound: 272 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736944915

ISBN-13: 978-0736944915

AND NOW...THE FIFTH CHAPTER (click on pages to enlarge):


This is my kind of cookbook! The secret, according to Cheryl Moeller, is to use two slow cookers to prepare an entire meal. The book is laid out into meal category types: Breakfast; Passport to the Nations; Simple Meals; Vegetarian; Parties/Barbecues/Gatherings; and so forth. I found the categories somewhat arbitrary, and simply leafed through to find interesting recipes for my family. There were many to choose from.

Each entree gives two slow-cooker recipes, so for example, you can make French Countryside Soup along with Salmon on Gingered Carrots, or Swedish Meatballs with Gravy along with Savory Mashed Potatoes, or even Brownies in a Mug with Grapefruit Chicken. (I was skeptical of the grapefruit chicken but was so curious I had to try it, and it's fabulous!).

These recipes are easy to make: you just dump the ingredients into the cooker, then turn it on for a few hours. Some of the meals require cooking for only 3-4 hours so for these you will need to be at home to manage these or use the timer. Many recipes especially for main dishes require longer cook times. The food preparation for these meals is minimal -- you may have to chop a few vegetables, or cut up meat, but you don't have to worry with sauteing or other pre-cooking strategies. At the end all you have to do is lift the lid, perhaps prepare a quick sauce or two, then serve.

What I liked about this book: The trick of using two cookers is genius. This allows you to move beyond pot roast to prepare some sophisticated and interesting meal combinations. The recipes in here are simple and the few that I've tried are sometimes unexpected but have all been good. The author includes a nice variety of dinner personalities. This slow-cooking method allows food preparation with minimal time demands, and thus is helpful for busy people (aren't we all) and those with jobs who don't want to put in another hour preparing a meal as soon as they come home.

What I didn't like about this book: serving sizes are neglected. You can estimate how many people could eat a dinner from the amount of ingredients, but occasionally there was less meal satiety than I was counting on. Since the cookers can only be filled so high, if you have hungry boys or a large family you may need to get THREE cookers to double the main course. For my family of four it was fine.

Overall, this is a great book to help a busy person easily prepare home-cooked dinners and other foods with little time investment. The recipes are practical, not gourmet, and use easily available ingredients. A cook could use this slow cooker method several nights a week without a sense of repetition or meal fatigue. I will give this four stars out of five.

I'm grateful to Harvest House Publishers for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I really like this book!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exam Questions

These answers may not have been what the teacher was looking for, but I can't find fault with them :-)


Q1. In which battle did Napoleon die? --> His last one.

Q2. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? --> At the bottom of the page.

Q3. River Ravi flows in which state? --> Liquid.

Q4. What is the main reason for divorce? --> Marriage.

Q5. What is the main reason for failure? --> Exams.

Q6. What can you never eat for breakfast? --> Lunch & dinner.

Q7. What looks like half an apple? --> The other half.

Q8. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become? --> It will simply become wet.

Q9. How can a man go eight days without sleeping? --> No problem, he sleeps at night.

Q10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand? --> You will never find an elephant that has only one hand.

Q11. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have? --> Very large hands.

Q12. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it? --> No time at all, the wall is already built.

Q13. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it? --> Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Last Battle

CS Lewis is, I think, my favorite writer. The man is brilliant, whether he writes essays, or long thoughtful works, or fiction. I would have loved to have met him, although I imagine conversing with him would be disconcerting. I might say "good morning," and he would snap, "define good, and what you mean by a 'good' morning, and why you are wishing me a 'good morning' when you don't know if I have spent an uncomfortable night on a lumpy mattress." I'm sure I would be tongue-tied and nervous, although I would sit quietly and hope he might not shine the spotlight too focused on me.

As a child I read The Chronicles of Narnia too many times to count, and I wonder if they didn't help me accept ten or fifteen years later the need to consider the possibility of God's existence and miracles as I investigated the events surrounding the death of Yeshua. If you haven't read the Chronicles, please do; they are richly allegorical for adults and wonderfully exciting for children. The movies, while superbly made, are different, and the books are magical.

I wanted today to quote a small passage from The Last Battle, the last book of the series and my favorite. The situation seems strangely contemporary and disquieting.

In the story, an Ape has seized power of Narnia through trickery by claiming to represent Aslan, The Lion, the religious God-King figure who watches over the country although he has not appeared in the country for generations. Here is an excerpt from the Ape's speech to the citizens of Narnia (talking animals, dwarves, and a few humans):

"And now here's another thing," the Ape went on, fitting a fresh nut into its cheek. "I hear some of the horses are saying, Let's hurry up and get this job of carting timber over as quickly as we can, and then we'll be free again. Well, you can get that idea out of your heads at once. And not only the Horses either. Everybody who can work is going to be made to work in future. Aslan has it all settled with the King of Calormen -- The Tisroc, as our dark faced friends the Calormenes call him. All you Horses and Bulls and Donkeys are to be sent down into Calormen to work for your living -- pulling and carrying the way horses and such-like do in other countries. And all you digging animals like Moles and Rabbits and Dwarfs are going down to work in the Tisroc's mines. And --"

"No, no, no," howled the Beasts. "It can't be true. Aslan would never sell us into slavery to the King of Calormen."

"None of that! Hold your noise!" said the Ape with a snarl. "Who said anything about slavery? You won't be slaves. You'll be paid -- very good wages too. That is to say, your pay will be paid into Aslan's treasure and he will use it all for everybody's good" Then he glanced, and almost winked, at the chief Calormene. The Calormene bowed and replied, in the pompous Calormene way:

"Most sapient Mouthpiece of Aslan, The Tisroc (may-he-live-forever) is wholly of one mind with your lordship in this judicious plan."

"There! You see!" said the Ape. "It's all arranged. And all for your own good. We'll be able, with the money you earn, to make Narnia a country worth living in. There'll be oranges and bananas pouring in -- and roads and big cities and schools and offices and whips and muzzles and saddles and cages and kennels and prisons -- oh, everything."

"But we don't want all those things," said an old Bear. "We want to be free..."


Freedom is priceless. Our country was formed by brave men, not cowards, and bought and retained its freedom through the blood of many patriots over generations. As Ronald Reagan said (quoting Scripture), the USA is a shining city on a hill, offering hope and regeneration to many. It is not perfect, of course, but it is still remarkable. Our generation is now the steward of this freedom to pass to the next generation, and I just pray we don't lose it.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Before and After

Too funny. Have you ever seen those amazing before-and-after photos of people taking steroid treatments or whatever to buff up? Here's an interesting twist on the whole process:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reasons for Hope

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Genesis Publishing Group (November 22, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***


Carl Kerby is president and founder of Reasons for Hope (rforh.com), founded in 2011 as a response to a calling from God to proclaim the authority and authenticity of the Bible. He was previously a founding board member at Answers in Genesis for ten years and served there for over fifteen years. Before that he worked as an air-traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport. Kerby’s love for Jesus fuels a passion to engage the minds and hearts of youth and adults so that they can know the truth of God’s Word. He is a sought-after speaker both in the United States and abroad. Yet his most cherished accomplishment is his 29-year marriage to his wife, Masami, and his roles as father to his children, Alisa and Carl, Jr., and as grandfather to Trey.

Visit the author's website.


Life is not always picture-perfect, and sometimes it is difficult to see God’s plan or purpose—especially during difficult times. Reasons for Hope: In the Mosaic of Your Life, by sought-after speaker Carl Kerby, researches the many aspects of faith that will encourage everyone looking for hope in today’s troubling times. With humor and passion, Carl answers questions about suffering, evolution, relativism, faith and more, strengthening his readers and equipping them to offer true hope to a broken world.

“In a mosaic, the artist arranges pieces of cut or broken stones or tiles to create a decorative pattern. We may struggle to grasp the overall design of a mosaic when we’re looking at the individual pieces up close, because what we see looks like a piece of junk, broken and useless. But when we step back far enough to view the entire mosaic, we get a new perspective, and we see the intricate beauty of the finished masterpiece. That enables us to grasp the original intent of the artist,” explains Carl Kerby. Reasons for Hope chronicles Carl’s rocky start as the son of a professional wrestler and takes readers from his difficult teen years and his military career to his stressful responsibility as an air-traffic controller at one of the nation’s busiest airports and ultimately to his ministry calling as a speaker. Carl reveals how God has created a beautiful mosaic from the broken pieces of his life, held together by the saving grace of the cross of Jesus Christ. As readers join in Carl’s journey, they will come to understand how the bigger picture of their own lives reveals a unique and beautiful mosaic.

Using his dynamic and infectious passion, Carl reveals God’s hand throughout his life, from childhood to adulthood, from unbelief to belief. No matter what the circumstances, God gathers up the broken pieces of life and forms them into something beautiful, all according to His purpose and plan. Carl’s story will not only give reasons for hope but will also encourage readers to share their only true hope, Jesus Christ. Readers will walk away knowing that the broken pieces of their lives are used by God to make beautiful and useful vessels for His work

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Genesis Publishing Group (November 22, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1933591099

ISBN-13: 978-1933591094


Stones, Boulders and Mosaics

Craig DeMartino had no clue that his
life would change forever when he set out for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on
July 21, 2002. A rock climber, Craig was doing what he loved best as he scaled
the heights of the Sundance Buttress in Rocky Mountain National Park. Little
did he know that the harrowing climb would be the last time he would plant both
feet on a mountain.

After a tragic instant of miscommunication,
Craig tum bled off the rocky cliff and plummeted nine stories to an almost
certain death. Freefalling at over sixty miles per hour, he crashed onto the
mountain floor—feet first. His boots exploded upon impact, and his feet and
ankles were shattered. A powerful shockwave moved up his body, breaking his
back and fracturing his neck. The fall also punctured a lung and tore a
shoulder. After being evacuated to the hospital, Craig remained unconscious as
the doctors advised his family that he had less than an hour to live.

But God had a different plan for
Craig. Through a series of miraculous events, Craig survived his
one-hundred-foot fall.

Although Craig didn’t conquer the
mountain by rock climbing, he did conquer the “rock” of difficulties that he faced
after the accident, including the amputation of his right leg eighteen months
later. Following his miraculous survival, and during his challenging recovery,
he discovered a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ, which led to a passion
for testifying of God’s wondrous power in his life. He’s even proven the
overcoming power of God by the strength and perseverance he exhibited when he
became the first amputee to climb the 3,000-foot face of El Capitan in Yosemite
on June 5, 2006, just six weeks shy of the four-year anniversary of the

No doubt, Craig’s fall from the cliff
was traumatic. But he recognized that his “rendezvous” with the rocks below was
not an unforeseen accident in God’s eyes, and that how he responded to his
predicament would change the entire course of his life.

“I think that’s how God works in our
lives—there are no accidents, only things that work for the good of the
kingdom,” Craig writes. “I think that’s the key to my attitude in general, that
I know God uses everything that happens to me to further the kingdom. That on
even the really bad days, and I have a lot of them, He is using the things I
do, and you do, to make an impact somewhere. Even when I don’t think that’s
happening, it is, and I usually see it down the road in ways I never could have

I believe God knew Craig would suffer
that fall, and He is the one who gave him the fortitude to survive the rocky
ordeal. Because of that experience, Craig now encourages others to live their
lives centered on Christ.

All of us, like Craig, face
challenges in our lives. How we deal with those challenges is what this book is
all about. Do we use the stones, rocks and boulders of life to build a strong
foundation or are we crushed by their weight?

As I look back over the years, I can
clearly see the stumbling stones and crushing rocks that were problems and
obstacles in my life. But I can also see how God used them for His plan and
purpose in my life—to build a foundation that has brought me to the place and
person I am today. I grew up with an extremely unusual background as the son of
a professional wrestler. Professional wrestling is a world that few know much
about, and I’ll be sharing the realities of that lifestyle, giving you a
glimpse of that world, in the following chapters. My path has been a rocky
one—struggling with a difficult childhood, dropping out of high school, even
being homeless at one point. Some of the “boulders” in my life were
disadvantages, but most of them were just difficult situations in which I made
very poor choices. But you know what? None of those boulders surprised God. In
fact, when I remember the negative experiences and failures from my past, I
cling to this passage of Scripture:

He also brought me up out of a
horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and
established my steps. (Psalm 40:2)

And that “rock” is Jesus. This verse
reminds me that I’m not the man that I used to be; God has created a new heart
and new mind within me. He lifted me out of the mess that I was in and placed
me on solid ground. My brothers and sisters in Christ, He’s done the same for


To me, a mosaic is such a fitting
illustration of the way God can take the broken pieces of our lives and create something
beautiful from them. My life has been filled with boulders and broken stones.
Yet God, in His grace, has put those stones together in a mosaic to make me
into a useful vessel for His use. I was privileged to serve for sixteen years
with the ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG), teaching people that God’s Word is
true from the very first verse. In January 2011, with the help of some great
friends, I founded a new ministry named Reasons for Hope, as a part of my
desire to equip Christians to offer reasons for their spiritual hope to lost
and dying people. That hope comes only from salvation through faith in Jesus
Christ. I never would have imagined how my life would turn out, but God, the
Grand Designer, has pieced together the good as well as the broken pieces of my
life into an amazing mosaic.

The term “mosaic” also has another
meaning. The “Mosaic Generation” describes the group of young people born
between 1984 and 2002. Sometimes called Millennials, Generation Y, Echo Boom,
or Generation Next, they are the newest of the five generations coexisting in
society today. The others are the Baby Busters/Generation X (born 1965–1983);
the Baby Boomers (1946–1964); the Builders (1927–1945); and the Seniors (1926
and prior; sometimes called Traditionalists or Matures).

Unfortunately, the meaning of
“mosaic” used for this emerging generation is far different from mine. Instead
of emphasizing how beauty can come from broken pieces, it seems they almost
embrace the brokenness as normal.

Maybe more than any other generation
today, those in the Mosaic Generation need to hear God’s truth. Let me share
with you some of the characteristics that are used to describe these Mosaics
(so-called because of their multifaceted, eclectic lifestyles). First, they’re
“plugged in” to all types of technology and media. According to author David
Kinnaman, Mosaics spend up to eight and a half hours every day using technology
and media, often using two or three types simultaneously (such as listening to
music while using the computer). In addition, Mosaics desire fresh, stimulating
experiences and love to express their individuality. Twenty-five percent of
Mosaics have posted personalized content online, including stories, videos,
blogs, artwork, or photos of themselves. More importantly, those in the Mosaic
Generation are nonlinear thinkers who are comfortable with contradiction and
are morally pragmatic (“I’ll do whatever works”).

For Mosaics, this philosophy of moral
pragmatism typically is expressed in the following statements:

What is right for you may not be right for

I do what I think is best, not what anyone
else thinks is best.

You are the only one who can determine what
is right and what is wrong.

There is no absolute truth.

Hopefully, if you have a biblical background,
you can see immediately that these statements are at odds with Scripture. The
Bible is clear that all of us have God’s moral law (the Ten Commandments)
written on our hearts to tell us what is right and what is wrong and to convict
us of sin. The apostle Paul states in Romans 2:15 that men have “the work of
the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness...” The
Bible also tells us that God’s Word is absolutely true and is our standard for
living. The psalmist writes, “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His
work is done in truth” (Psalm 33:4), and “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a
light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Surprisingly, only 6 percent of Mosaic teens
who consider themselves to be “born again” have a biblical worldview (meaning that
they believe in absolute truth, that the Bible is God’s Word, that “Satan is
real,” “Jesus never sinned,” and a handful of similar orthodox beliefs). That
means the other 94 percent adhere in some way to a philosophy of moral
pragmatism. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do as far as sharing the gospel
with this generation.

However, the Mosaic Generation has
many positive qualities, too. Mosaics have a joyful and positive outlook on
life, and they long for personal connection and powerful experiences. They
consider religion and spirituality to be a positive dimension of life, and they
want to experience God’s truth by building authentic relationships with other
people who have faith in God. Most Mosaics agree with the statement that they
are “looking for a few good friends.” I would say that’s true for most everyone
in our culture today.

As we encounter those in the Mosaic
Generation, we can follow Paul’s approach in reaching the lost. He tells us in
1 Corinthians 9:22, “to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I
have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul
never compromised his message or watered down the truth of the gospel, but
boldly proclaimed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the
power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . .” (Romans 1:16). He
was always faithful in proclaiming saving grace, so when Paul spoke of becoming
“all things to all men,” he was talking about trying to relate to the lost in
the best way he could in order to reach them with the gospel. He tried to
understand who they were, and be kind and courteous in his approach to witness
to them. For example, to those who are “weak” in the knowledge of the Lord and
the gospel, Paul “became as weak,” meaning he met them at their level of
knowledge and added to their understanding by proclaiming Christ to them. To
those who don’t believe in absolute truth, we can start by addressing their
current beliefs and then help them see their need for the One who is Truth.

That’s what I want to help you do in
this book: to help you become “all things to all men.” No matter which
generations you and I may be in, we need to speak the truth of the gospel in
love, be patient and understanding, and show people the need for Jesus Christ
and His Word. The gospel must always be the primary focus of our message, but
we can support our proclamation of the gospel with our personal testimony as
well. We can share with people how God has worked in our lives. By sharing our
testimonies we can often connect to others in a deeper way and help them to
come to an understanding of the reasons for hope found only in Jesus Christ.


On my travels I often have the
opportunity to meet fascinating people who need the gospel. One of the most
memorable was a professor I met while speaking in Kentucky. He teaches global
warming at a university in England, and his sister (who is a Christian) had
invited him to come with her to hear me speak.

After my talk, he and I had a dynamic
discussion about the topics I had addressed, including the theory of global
warming. He disagreed with me on quite a few points, but I was open to his
ideas and questions. We had a good time dialoguing back and forth and challenging
each other to provide evidence for our positions.

One influential person I had
mentioned in my talk that day was Richard Dawkins, an anti-Christian activist
and one of the strongest proponents of the theory of evolution and the “New
Atheism” movement. I have never met Dawkins personally, but from what I have
seen in interviews, he is an angry man. He hates Christians, and he seems to
“have it out” for the Christian community and anyone who believes in God, creation,
or intelligent design. To give you an example, consider the titles of some of
the books Dawkins has penned:

God Delusion

Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution
Reveals a
Universe without Design

Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

You Know About God is Wrong: The
Disinformation Guide to Religion (contributor)

As I prepared to leave, this British
professor told me, “You know, you’re not what I expected!”

I laughed and said, “I could take
that a couple of ways. What do you mean?”

He told me, “I expected you to be
angry and want to argue with me because I don’t agree with you.”

“I don’t hate you because you don’t
think like I do,” I replied. “In fact, I spent many years believing the same
things that you do. But God doesn’t tell us to fight or argue. He just tells us
to be ready to share with others the reason for our hope. So that’s what I do!”

I continued, “When I see people
harboring so much anger and hatred toward others who are supposedly so ‘stupid’
and ‘uninformed,’ I just don’t understand it. Think about Richard Dawkins. Why
is he so angry? If he truly believes Christians are so stupid, he should feel
sorry for us. For example, if someone walked up to me and told me that he
believed the moon was made of green cheese, and he was totally sincere, would I
get angry and fight with him or call him names? No way. I’d pat him on the back
and say, ‘I love you, brother, but you may want to go get some help!’ The fact
that Richard Dawkins is so angry shows me that the Holy Spirit is working on
him. I’m praying for him. I still believe there is hope for him!”

I told the professor that I had
really enjoyed meeting him and discussing science and Scripture with him. We
shook hands and parted ways. I prayed that he would consider the truths I had
shared with him.

About three months later, I received
an email from this same professor. He said, “Carl, you won’t believe this, but
I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior the Sunday after I met you!” but I was
thrilled to hear it.

His email continued: “You know what
else? What really got me was what you shared about Richard Dawkins. You didn’t
know this, but not long before I heard you speak, I had actually posted this on
my Facebook page: ‘Richard Dawkins is God.’ ”

I was blown away by this man’s
testimony. Only the living God can take someone from believing “Richard Dawkins
is God” to proclaiming “Jesus Christ is Lord”! This man’s Christian sister had
been witnessing to him and praying for him for years. I’m sure God heard her
prayers and prepared his heart to be receptive to the gospel that day.

I’m humbled and awed that God allows
you and me to play a small role in helping people like this man realize that
God’s Word is true and that it is our standard for living. The apostle Paul
wrote that we are to cast “down arguments and every high thing that exalts
itself against the knowledge of God,” and that we are to bring every thought captive
to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). God has the power and the will
to tear down any argument or speculation that opposes the truth of His Word. I
believe that’s what happened that day. The stumbling stones that had been in
place for years in this man’s life were removed when he simply heard the truth
spoken in love.


The concept of mosaics really begins
to take shape as we consider the purpose of memorial stones in Scripture. The
Bible contains powerful examples of stone memorials that people built to help
them remember how God had worked in their lives.

Let’s start by focusing on the life
of Joshua. This biblical leader was my type of guy; he knew how to get things
done! Remember, as the Israelites anticipated entering the Promised

Land, Moses sent twelve men to spy on
the land of Canaan and report back with their findings (Numbers 13). Joshua was
one of those twelve men. Despite the fact that the cities were well fortified
and it seemed impossible for the Israelites to overcome the Canaanites, Joshua
and Caleb were ready to go for it. In Numbers 14 we read Joshua and Caleb’s
response: “If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and
give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against
the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their
protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.”
Of the twelve men, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who maintained a faith
that God would lead them into the land He had promised. Based on the report of
the other ten, Israel did not enter the Promised Land and instead was consigned
to wander forty years in the wilderness until the nonbelieving generation had
passed away.

After the forty years of wandering,
Joshua assumed the leadership of the Israelites following Moses’ death, and led
them into the land. Joshua faced fierce battles, leadership struggles, and (of
course) plenty of grumbling and complaining from the Israelite people. But he
had earned the great privilege of leading God’s people into the Promised Land
and he remained faithful to God through it all.

One of my favorite Bible passages
contains the Lord’s powerful words to Joshua:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong
and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God
is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

During the time of Joshua’s
leadership, the Lord commanded His people to use stones to serve as memorials.
These memorials commemorated times when God performed miracles and showered
upon His people even though they
deserve it (which, after all, is the definition of grace!). In Joshua 4, God
told the Israelites that these memorials would serve as a sign to them and that
when their children would ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” they would
recount how God had miraculously provided. In a way, these assembled stones
were similar to mosaics, creating a picture to remind each generation of God’s
faithfulness and provision.

The Israelites enjoyed gathering
together to celebrate special feasts and festivals, just like we do at Easter,
Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But they didn’t celebrate just because it was fun.
God commanded them to build memorials so that they would never forget His mercy
and grace and to celebrate His goodness and faithfulness to them. He wanted the
Israelites to remember all the ways that He had worked in their lives in the

I believe the same is true today. We
should use the “stones” of hardships in our lives as reminders of what God has
done for us, sharing them with the current generation so that they will be able
to share with future generations the “stones” from their lives.

Chapter 3 of the book of Joshua
records how God miraculously enabled His people to cross the Jordan River on
dry land. He wanted to build up the Israelites’ faith and courage to show them
that He would give them victory in battle over their enemies. Joshua said to
the Israelites:

“Come here, and hear the words of the
LORD your God. By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and
that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the
Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the
Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all
the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for
yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And
it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear
the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the
Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come
down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Joshua 3:9–13)

In the following verses, we discover
something surprising about the Jordan River: it is at flood stage all through
the harvest. Yet here’s what happened:

. . . as those who bore the ark came
to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge
of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of
harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose
in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters
that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut
off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore
the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of
the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had
crossed completely over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:15–17)

Does this ring a bell? It reminds me
of the time when God worked a miracle and enabled Moses to lead over two
million Israelites across the Red Sea on dry ground as they escaped from
slavery in Egypt. Now, God was showing His people that He was still in control
by performing a similar miracle under the leadership of Joshua. (By the way,
aren’t we glad that He’s still in control today?)

I love what happens next; now we’re
getting to the “memorial stones” section. As a reminder to the current and
future generations of what a great thing God had done for His people, God
commanded Joshua to build a memorial. Twelve men (one from each tribe) went to
the riverbed, and each removed one stone. They carried these stones to where
they camped on the western side of the Jordan and piled them up as a memorial.

In addition, God commanded Joshua to
build a second memorial—a pile of stones right in the middle of the Jordan
River! Joshua picked up stones and carried them to the place where the ark of
the covenant was still stationed and “set up twelve stones” in the midst of the
riverbed (Joshua 4:9). (Why would God tell Joshua to set stones in the middle
of the river, since they would quickly be covered when the water started to
flow again? See the sidebar for the amazing answer.)

The Jordan crossing was an amazing
miracle of God, a sign to His people that He was the One who led them into the
land. This miracle was to give them faith that He would also lead them into
battle against the Canaanites and that He would empower them to possess the
land (Joshua 3:9–13). The stone memorial on the riverbank testified to His
faithfulness and served as a reminder to them and future generations that only
God is their deliverer and their source of strength. The stones “cry out” the
message to every generation that God is steadfast in His promises to deliver
and bless His people.

Remember that throughout the Old
Testament, God provided signs to his people to reveal Himself, His plans, and
especially the promise of a coming Messiah. The book of Joshua begins with the
people preparing to enter the Promised Land, their God-given inheritance. They
are not led by Moses, who represents the Law, but by Joshua, an Old Testament
picture and foreshadow of our Savior, who is the only way to our inheritance.

We read in Joshua 3:17 that the ark
stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while the people passed
through untouched by the waters of the Jordan. Often in the Bible we see where
water serves as a symbol of the wrath or judgment of God: the Flood (Genesis
6:17; Hebrews 11:7); the Red Sea drowning of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:28;
Hebrews 11:29); Jonah going under the waters (Jonah 1; 2:3). Even the word
“Jordan” implies judgment. A. W. Pink breaks the word into two Hebrew roots: jor or yar, which is literally “spread,” and dan, which means “judging” (Genesis 30:6). Others define it as yar-dane, meaning “descender.” Baptism,
where the person is immersed in water and risen to new life by the power of
Christ, is also a picture of the old man being judged by God, dying to self,
and being saved by Christ. Jesus’ followers are commissioned to be “fishers of
men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17), and the Psalms confirm our being taken out from
the waters:

He sent from above, He took me; He
drew me out of many waters. (Psalm 18:16)

Deliver me out of the mire, and let
me not sink; let me be delivered from those who hate me, and out of the deep
waters. Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up; and
let not the pit shut its mouth on me. (Psalm 69:14,15)

“If it had not been the LORD who was
on our side,” let Israel now say—“If it had not been the LORD who was on our
side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive,
when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed
us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would
have gone over our soul.” (Psalm 124:1–5)

“I will pour out My wrath on them
like water.” (Hosea 5:10)

In Joshua 4, God instructed the
twelve men (one from each tribe) to take a stone from the middle of the dry
riverbed to build a memorial on the west bank of the Jordan. These stones came
from the place that pictures death, the miry bottom of a riverbed. They had
been buried beneath the waters, the picture of wrath and judgment. The “ark of
the LORD,” which is a picture of Christ (in both construction and in being the
place where God dwelled among His people) stood in the midst of the Jordan,
allowing these stones to be brought up out of the waters (death) to create a
memorial of deliverance (redemption). Remember, this was done “that this may be
a sign among you . . .” (Joshua 4:6).

We read in Joshua 4:9 that it was
Joshua, not the twelve, who was told to “set up twelve stones in the midst of
the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the
covenant stood; and they are there to this day.” This is a picture of the
unredeemed, those who die in their sin, who are buried in death by the
righteous judgment of God—“and they are there to this day” (Joshua 4:9). What a
frightening thought and a reminder to all of us to be bold in sharing the
saving grace of the gospel.

The twelve stones taken out from the
Jordan depths and placed on dry ground “where they lodged” (Joshua 4:8)
symbolize those who were redeemed by Christ (the ark) and came out from under
the judgment of God (the waters) to new life in the Promised Land (inheritance of
life in Christ). And remember that the people crossed over the Jordan at the
time of Passover! This was at the “time of harvest” (Joshua 3:15), “on the
tenth day of the first month” (Joshua 4:19). This is a beautiful picture of the
saving grace of Jesus Christ.

The Joshua 4 memorial also reminds us
of a future promise given in Isaiah 43:2, where God says, “When you pass
through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not
overflow you.” Notice that promise says “when,” not “if.” We all know that in
this life trials will come our way, and we must always remember that He
promises to be with us, to deliver us, to set our feet on solid ground. Remember
the verse:

He also brought me up out of a
horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and
established my steps. (Psalm 40:2)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Presidential Pardon

This true event happened back in 1829, during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The court brief can be found here. The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Marshall.

In December 1829, two men -- George Wilson and James Porter -- committed armed hold-ups in Pennsylvania of trains carrying federal payrolls, and were convicted in May 1830 of robbery, obstructing the mail, and "wounding" persons in the process. They were both sentenced to death, execution to be carried out on July 2nd.

James Porter was duly hanged. However, George Wilson had some influential friends who wrote to the president pleading for mercy, and before the execution date President Jackson issued a formal pardon. In Jackson's pardon, the charges resulting in Wilson's death sentence were completely dropped, and Wilson would have to serve only a prison term of twenty years for his other crimes.

Surprisingly, Wilson refused the pardon.

Since this had never happened before, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on whether someone could indeed refuse a presidential pardon. Chief Justice John Marshall handed down the court's decision: "A pardon is a parchment whose only value must be determined by the receiver of the pardon. It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives to it. George Wilson has refused to accept the pardon. We cannot conceive why he would do so, but he has. Therefore, George Wilson must die."

Wilson's execution was therefore carried out.

The principle behind this decision was simple: in order to be valid, the pardon must be accepted. The person accepting the pardon therefore is implicitly admitting guilt and the need to be forgiven. My thought is that perhaps this is why Wilson never accepted the pardon: he maintained his innocence, although from my understanding of the case, there was little doubt of his guilt.

There are all sorts of theological and other inferences that may be drawn from this story, but I prefer to leave this to you, my dear readers -- and I look forward to reading what you might think!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Epitaph in Bookish Style

by Benjamin Franklin

The Body of

Benjamin Franklin


(Like the cover of an old book

Its contents torn out

And stript of its lettering and gilding)

Lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost

For it will (as he believed) appear once more

In a new and more elegant edition

Revised and corrected


The Author.

Thursday, February 2, 2012