A ram caught in a thicket for all kinds of people


Artwork on one of our walls in our home expresses that the ram caught in the thicket is a picture of Jesus. Like the ram, that will take Isaac’s place upon the altar, Jesus will offer himself as our substitute and be sacrificed in our place (Gen. 22). The ram will die. Isaac will live. The Lord has provided, but not just for Isaac, but as John described,

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

(Revelation 5:8-10 ESV)

Jesus died not just for Jews, his own kinsmen, but for people from every ethnicity upon the earth – hence, the various crosses that have historical roots in world history with regard to their artistry. Not that Jesus died over and over, but that his one-time-death in real space and matter is the most significant event that the world must reckon with.

For today:

  1. Believe that Christ died for your sins according the scriptures.
  2. Believe that what Christ did is bigger than your troubles. After watching one atrocity after another during the Nazi holocaust, Corrie Ten Boom told her sister Betsy, “This place is the pit of hell!” Betsy replied, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper.”
  3. Take courage today that the ethnic strife upon the earth will one day be settled around Christ’s return. Even now, there are Muslims around the world turning to Christ and paying a high cost from their own kinsmen.
  4. If Jesus was able to tie a 2,200 year old true story of a ram caught in a thicket to his own work on the cross, then he is able to keep your life-story from becoming futile. Just as all stories that preceded Christ pointed to him and found their fulfillment in Christ, so also all stories that flow from Calvary into the future, including yours, will one day further illuminate the grace and glory of the cross.
  5. Finally, if you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then there is no more wrath left in the Father to punish you. Christ has “propitiated” – absorbed and exhausted the wrath of God upon the cross. God the Father will never punish the same sins twice. Either Christ has appeased his Father’s holy justice for you, or you will in hell. Either Jesus’ death on the cross is good news for you, or it will be bad news for you one day. Today – while it is today, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Fall Apple-Cider Pressing


That’s about 500 lbs of Gala, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious!


At the apple press house – it’s like a country store on an old farm.


Rinsed and up they go.


Into the hopper above, chopped up, dropped into a cheese-cloth, layered out . . .


This particular press is an original 1883. But what powers it?


A 1952 Farmall Tractor outback with a very long belt.


Time to pprrreeeeesssss the pulp.


End product: 37 gallons of freshly squeezed apple cider – let the Fall begin.

The Devil is a Vampire in Reverse

The Cross of Christ is still the most polarizing event in history. The assassination of President JFK, the death of Elvis, Miss Monroe, – you name the death of a public figure and compare it to Christ, you will be back-pedaling until chain falls off. There is no death so loved and yet so hated/scoffed/mocked/met with indifference by so many diverse people all over the world for such a long period of world history that it necessarily begs the question: What kind of death is this?

And he spread his nerves-on-fire hands, nailed to a cross of wood and said, “This kind.” It’s rare. It’s vicious. It’s the most gotcha kind-of-love that the world has ever seen or ever will. Literally, “the Satan” thought he had won. The dragon, the beast that was filled with wild jealous rage stupidly sank his fangs into Christ – like a Vampire from hell, the devil bit – and thought that he had taken the very life of the Son of God. But as Peter Kreeft wrote,

“Life conquered Death not by power but by love. The Little Lamb defeated the Great Beast by using His secret weapon: His blood, His love. He let the Beast drink His blood, like a reverse Dracula” – (The Philosophy of Jesus, 23).

The devil is a vampire in reverse because when he went after Christ, he lost. Christ’s blood-shedding would not end Jesus, but Satan. All vampires gain strength, longevity, and power by drinking the blood of their victims. But Jesus was no victim. And he was no patsy-meal for the devil, either. What Satan thought would be his victory it was the exact opposite. It was his eternal undoing. And that means all those who are in Christ will not, cannot be finally and ultimately defeated. All the little bites that we Christians endure from here to eternity are just that – empty, poison-less bites that have no power, other than to further the future humiliation of Satan and all those aligned with him. Christ has won – and he did it by letting the devil bite him. No one could have ever written such fiction. For nearly two thousand years now the world is still fascinated with Jesus. He could not have been invented as a fairly-tale and caused a tsunami of followers to also lay down their lives, and again, expose the wicked of the earth as demons in reverse – defeated by their own hate. It must be true. Jesus is real. Jesus won by dying.

A Friday Funny!

I was traveling from IL to WV by myself a few weeks ago, and as the evening driving was becoming long, and after I had eaten all of my raw veggies, fruit, seeds and nuts for the journey, I wanted something hot and filling. Cheryl helps me live a very healthy lifestyle, but . . . she wasn’t with me to help! “Here’s my chance,” I thought to myself. “I can eat something that she would never allow. A Wendy’s cheeseburger and fries.” It was over a year since I had something from a fast food restaurant, and that was because someone gave me a $10 gift card to Micky Dees. With a slight tinge of guilt, I ordered the tasty poison. The young man rang the order up. He looked at me – almost apologetically, and sheepishly said, “Sir, I’m sorry . . . that will be $6.66.” “You’re kidding me!?!?,” I objected as if standing before the Judge of all the Earth. “The one time that I order some nasty delicious food I get busted with a 666 curse.”

He laughed about the order total, knowing the meaning of the math. I told him that I ought to get the food for free. He replied, “That will be $6.66 please.”

Moral: I should have ordered pizza. Have a great day!


The Mystery of Losing a Spouse


I’ve never lost a spouse, though I came close to it a few years ago. And though I can’t speak from personal experience, the mystery of losing a spouse can be cautiously searched out by taking the time to know a little more what a husband and wife is in the first place.

I have visited more widows than widowers in my time; hearing their sweet stories and catching a glimpse of what was, is a privilege.  It seems that it won’t be long that my own mother will join the lattice of widows upon the earth.

Before 1963, there were two distinct and separate adult persons, one male – Buddy James Truman, and the other, female – Drema Kay Hall. They each had their own identities, independent of the other. But then in May of 1963, something that is so mysterious to our comprehension, they became one flesh:

“This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall cleave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:23-25). Literally, and more accurately to Hebrew verb tense, for the man and the woman, “becoming, you shall become one flesh.” With the same verb tense that God warned to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, “dying, you shall die”, marriage is a progressive cleaving, hardening-up, congealing over time of two distinct and separate persons who become something other than what they were as separate persons. Another whole and completely other person is formed and bonded.

Paul says this becoming one flesh union is a mystery and that this mystery refers to a more profound mystery, namely, Christ becoming one with his church (Eph. 5:28-32). Two persons become another person altogether. So the math does not look like this:

1 + 1 = 1.


A + B = C.

Bud + Drema = (Mystery of One Flesh, Something Other Than What They Were Before).

This mystery is so profound that it is right for Drema to say, “that is my cancerous liver.” So profound that Bud can say, “that is my new hip replacement.” ONE FLESH!

“What you feel – I feel” is not what I am saying. See the independent “I” in that statement and the complete otherness of the referenced “you”? See how difficult it is to truly give a voice to what has happened? No one speaks to themselves like that unless you’re headed for the rubber-room. No one looks down at the cut in their own leg and speak in the second person, “I feel your pain” – as if, you, the person is separate from the leg-member. But in marriage, Bud and Drema Truman can truly look to the other, and say, “I hurt when you hurt because you are one flesh with me as much as my own arm is part of me”, not as two separate persons, but as a human body seamlessly feels all-over what is going on in the leg, “My body hurts.”

This is why in death, the mystery of losing a spouse is beyond understanding. Widowed and still alive, but at the same time, like the severance of your right arm, you are no longer altogether there. The mystery of losing a spouse is appreciated to the degree that you appreciate what a marriage is in the first place. That someone else who was/is you (remember, one flesh) is now gone. This is why the gospel is profoundly good: Those who are in Christ will be united to him forever, in such a way that when Bud and Drema see each other again, that one-flesh-union for over 52 years (and counting:) will find its fulfillment and purpose: “so this was what it was all about – our one flesh union was a primer course for a deeper level of joy, knowledge, fulfillment, and friendship with Jesus, our true husband – united to him as one – forever!”

The reason why there is no human marriage in heaven between a man and a woman is not because there is no marriage at all, but because there is one already between Christ and his church. What awaits us is so far above and beyond this earthly marriage that there is no comparison on earth to help us. Only insofar that we awe the mystery of a one-flesh union over many years that we are compelled to believe that, well, if Jesus borrowed a line from one of my favorite 70’s rock bands, I think he would say to his bride-in-progress, “B b b b baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

What is the power of, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”?

About five minutes into the film, Wizard of Oz, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get her aunt and uncle to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto. Dorothy’s Aunt Em tells her to “find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble.” This prompts Dorothy to walk off by herself, musing to herself, “‘Some place where there isn’t any trouble.’ Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…” at which point she begins singing.

Here is some precious time with my dad, as I attempt to play a short piece of this famous song. After the video, I’ll try to answer the question above.

The power of this song is in the common human desire to go to a place “where there isn’t any trouble.” Do you suppose there is such a place? You bet!

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled (because he knows that they are). Believe in God; believe also in me (because to believe in Jesus is to believe in God – for he is God). In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

True, you can’t get there by boat or train. Which is why Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6).

My greatest joy and comfort is to know that the place that Jesus has prepared for my dad, a place where there isn’t any trouble, is “finished.” All the hard work has been done. The foundation is sure – behind the moon, beyond the rain . . .