• Celebrating Holidays: Yay or Nay?

    Do you agree or disagree with Durbin? I agree with him. I don’t believe the regulative principle should be applied to ALL areas of life. Just because a holiday isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean it is improper or that it can’t be God-honoring. I have wonderful childhood memories of celebrating Christmas and Easter with my family. I cherish those memories and would feel deeply deprived and poorer had I not had the chance to have those experiences.

    I respect Christians who believe the only holiday we should observe is the Christian Sabbath (Sunday). However I *strongly* disagree with them if they start criticizing those of us who do celebrate holidays not enumerated in Scripture explicitly, or if they assert those of us who celebrate them are somehow sinning. I can’t fathom how a Christian could object to someone celebrating the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ!! What is more worthy of a joyful celebration than that? I would argue that holidays like Christmas and Easter *are* biblical. Because they are real events that happened and are defined in Scripture. To say that God prohibits us from celebrating any holiday except the Sabbath is to go too far.

    I am an outlier as a Reformed believer on this issue. Most Reformed apply the regulative principle strictly and eschew celebrating holidays like Christmas and Easter. I usually find myself in agreement with the beliefs of the Puritans, however, on this issue, I think they had a very severe and reactionary attitude towards such celebrations due to their historic association with the Catholic church.

    The debate about whether holidays like Christmas or Easter should be celebrated by Christians will likely keep raging till Christ returns. In my experience, online debates are often heated and lack charity. I hope we can discuss this issue in a respectful way and stay focused on biblical support.

  • Politics in America: Destructive, Divisive and Demonic

    The following is a discussion I had today with a friend on Facebook. She is a Reformed believer.

    I initially posted:

    I’m absolutely disgusted by politics! I refuse to waste another second of my life discussing Republicans or Democrats! With the Republican support in Congress for the so-called same-sex marriage bill, the bill was able to pass and Biden will sign it into law! This is a total abomination and mockery of God’s law!! Republicans and Democrats have more in common than they do differences! All politics is a corrupt and dirty business predicated on greed, deceit, selfish interests, and deception! Every single Senator is either a millionaire or is very wealthy!! Politicians are pathological liars!! The vast majority of them are more concerned with their personal accumulation of wealth and power than they are with the interests of most Americans!! I’m also thoroughly disgusted with the media and their machinations with politics! Big money has had a horrible and corrosive effect on our political process! It has poisoned everything!! I see so few politicians who genuinely care about the interests of poor people like myself. We’re not even on their radar!! Another aspect of American politics I’m sick of is the hyper-partisan nature of discourse, debate, and behavior. Politicians treat their opponents as enemies to be destroyed. FROM NOW ON, DO NOT BRING UP POLITICS WITH ME ON MY TIMELINE OR IN PERSONAL MESSAGES!! And before anyone says Trump is different, I personally witnessed him thanking the LGBT community for their support, and how he supports their ”rights”!! This same-sex marriage bill was the last straw. I’ve reached my limit! Also, political discussion raises my blood pressure which is already too high!!

    She replied:

    Next, I responded:

    You are not respecting my opinion. Please don’t try to invalidate my life experiences. I’ve lived in abject poverty my entire life, for 47 years! I also paid attention closely to the news during that time. I listened and read what politicians said and promised to do once elected. You don’t see it as a problem that the poor and middle class have virtually NO representation in our entire Senate? Scripture is clear that wealth is a great burden and a great hindrance to living for Christ alone. Yes, there are some great wealthy Christians, but they are the exception, not the rule. Also, you must understand how detrimental Big Money has been to our political process. It has poisoned it. Things have not always been this way in America. What I have also noticed is virtually every Representative and Senator leaves office substantially wealthier than when they took office. If you don’t think that reflects poorly on the state of politics in America, then I can’t help you. I never said all politicians are evil, or that all wealthy politicians are evil. Please don’t strawman me. The mainstream media is also part of the problem. They feed into the hyper-partisanship of politics. There has been very little coverage of issues that would enhance my life as a poor person, compared to the coverage and positive media attention given to programs like the trillion dollars of tax cuts for the richest Americans which Trump saw through. They make laws that personally enrich their own wealth and power. It is not government by the people, for the people. It’s now government by the lobbyists, corporate interests, and wealthy politicians for themselves! I am just totally disgusted by politics now in America. Nearly 50 years is long enough. It is outrageous for you to accuse me of slander. I did not slander anyone. I stated objective FACTS. I do speak with grace, by saying that you have just in fact slandered me!!

  • The Sad State of American Evangelicalism

    It may be no surprise to Christians who are well-informed and careful observers of the spiritual landscape of America, but still the results of the surveys of evangelicals referenced in this post are both shocking and depressing. They reveal a fractured evangelical body in America, one that is rife with all manner of heresies and false teachings. This stems from theological ignorance and failure to preach the full counsel of God. The evangelical church in America is eroding before our eyes.

    Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University survey

    Referring to a recent survey conducted earlier this year by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. The data from this latest report came from a nationwide study of about 1,000 Christian pastors across several segments of churches and/or denominational families and was conducted between February and March of 2022.

    Franklin Graham said, “I don’t know which 1,000 pastors this group surveyed, but the results are concerning. 39% of evangelical pastors surveyed recently said there is no absolute moral truth and that “each individual must determine their own truth.” What a lie. They also said that, shockingly, 30% of evangelical pastors do not believe that their salvation is based on having confessed their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Researchers also found that one-third or more of the senior pastors they surveyed said they believe that people can merit salvation based solely on their good works. These are all lies, and this kind of false teaching is what is leading people and churches astray. The Bible is God’s Word, from cover to cover. It is the absolute truth—we should live by it, and we can die by it. On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand.”

    The American Worldview Inventory 2022 examined more than three dozen beliefs held by pastors. Researchers found that in addition to believing that people can merit salvation based solely on their good works, one-third or more of senior pastors surveyed also believe the Holy Spirit is not a person but rather “a symbol of God’s power.” Others said that moral truth is subjective; sexual relations between two unmarried people who love each other is “morally acceptable” and biblical teaching on abortion is “ambiguous.” Over a third of senior pastors believe ‘good people’ can earn their way to Heaven.

    At least a third of those surveyed also said they believe “socialism is preferable to capitalism and that allowing property ownership facilitates economic injustice,” which researchers say could point to the “increase of cultural and political influence into the church.”

    After data reported earlier this year found just 37% of Christian pastors have a biblical worldview, the latest CRC report analyzed that research across all major U.S. denominations, and found that a “loss of biblical belief is prevalent among pastors in all denominational groupings.”

    The current report focuses on roughly half of those beliefs, revealing that a shockingly large percentage reject biblical teaching on some of the most basic Christian beliefs.

    Among Evangelical pastors, for example, around 43% said they do not believe that the personal accumulation of wealth is provided by God for the individual to manage those resources for God’s purposes.

    Another 39% of Evangelical pastors surveyed said there is no absolute moral truth and that “each individual must determine their own truth.” Roughly the same percentage (38%) didn’t answer in the affirmative when asked if “human life is sacred,” while 37% said having faith, in general, is more important than in what — or more specifically, Whom — one has faith.

    Perhaps most startlingly, three in 10 Evangelical pastors (30%) didn’t answer in the affirmative if their salvation is based on having confessed their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their savior.

    George Barna, CRC’s director of research, said the results could be linked to another trend he observed in the data.

    “While studying the spiritual behavioral patterns of pastors, it became evident that a large share of them do not have a regular spiritual routine,” Barna said. “There was a correlation between possessing biblical beliefs and a consistent regimen of Bible reading, prayer, worship, and confession.

    “In some of the denominational groupings, a majority of pastors do not engage in those foundational spiritual practices on a regular basis,” he added. “Yet, among the pastors who have the most consistently biblical beliefs, there is also a daily routine that incorporates all of those disciplines.”

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/third-of-evangelical-pastors-say-people-can-get-heaven-just-by-being-good.html

    Remember, this survey was of evangelical pastors, not just regular churchgoers. They should be theologically informed after completing seminary education, but apparently, most of these seminaries have gone woke and been taken over by liberal forces. The theologically conservative majority that evangelicals once held for so long in this great country is no more.

    2022 Ligonier Ministries’ State of Theology survey

    Sadly, the results of this survey are more of the same, with even more evidence of heretical beliefs.

    In John 14:6, Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Tragically, the 2022 Ligonier Ministries’ State of Theology survey, a biennial survey conducted by LifeWay Research that takes “the theological temperature of the United States to help Christians better understand today’s culture and to equip the church with better insights for discipleship”, reveals that the majority of American evangelicals seem to reject this teaching from Christ.

    This survey reveals the theological beliefs of Americans about God, sin, salvation, heaven and hell, the church, and the Bible. And the results show many evangelicals hold unorthodox and heretical beliefs. The full report.

    The Bible reveals that God is pleased only by the worship of those who approach Him through Jesus Christ, since He alone is the “one mediator between God and man” (1 Tim. 2:5). It is startling enough that 56 percent of U.S. evangelicals believe God accepts the worship of all religions. Yet more concerning is the fact that this percentage has increased by a soaring 14 percent in only the last two years.

    While the results include all Americans and are even broken down by a range of categories (age, religious affiliation, sex, income, education level, and so on), the most interesting findings are those for evangelicals. The survey categorized people as having evangelical beliefs if they strongly agreed with the following four statements:

    • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
    • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
    • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
    • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.

    A significant number of evangelicals surveyed (i.e., those identified as having evangelical beliefs) have a profound misunderstanding about the nature and character of God.

    • Almost three out of four (73 percent) agree with the claim that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”
    • More than half (58 percent) believe that God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
    • More than half (56 percent) agree that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.
    • More than half (55 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.
    • More than half (55 percent) agree that “everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.”
    • More than half (53 percent) disagree with the claim that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.
    • More than one in four (46 percent) disagree that every Christian has an obligation to join a local church.
    • Almost half (44 percent) say that Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.
    • Almost one-third (29 percent) agreed with the statement that God learns and adapts to different circumstances, while only 43 percent disagreed.

    What It Means: As this and other surveys have shown, the label “evangelical” can often tell us more about a person’s sociological and political convictions than what he believes about the Christian faith.

    Indeed, we often use political views as a proxy for religious views—especially when we connect it to geography. If you know that a person is a conservative Republican from Louisiana you might assume she rejects the claim that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” Similarly, if you know he’s a liberal Democrat from New York City you’re more likely to presume he’d agree with the statement that “gender identity is a matter of choice.”

    The result is that we often dismiss people as having unbiblical theological views because of their politics or we assume they’re orthodox because they vote the “right way” (i.e., the way you vote). But that’s not always the case. Unorthodox views are shared by a broad range of people who hold “evangelical belief.”

    A better approach is for church leaders to simply ask those in their congregation what they believe about these theological statements. Fortunately, Ligonier has made it possible to easily create a group survey for free in less than a minute.

    Once you have the answer, you can steer them in the direction of orthodox belief. Since a key criterion of being an evangelical, as the survey notes, is claiming “the Bible is the highest authority for what I believe,” we should be able to use simple statements based on the Bible to persuade them of the proper biblical response to the questions. Some people, of course, may require more convincing. But for many evangelicals, simply clarifying the issue will be sufficient.

    To aid in this process, I’ve provided an example of how you might provide a biblically based response for each of the true/false statements on the survey.

    God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake.

    True. Scripture says God is omniscient, meaning he knows all things and he’s immutable, meaning he cannot and does not change (Isa. 46:10; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; 1 John. 3:20).

    There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

    True. There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory (Matt. 3:16–17, 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).

    God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

    False. Jesus said he alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

    God learns and adapts to different circumstances.

    False. Scripture says God is immutable, meaning that he cannot and does not change (James 1:17; 1 John 3:20).

    Biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. This event actually occurred.

    True. Scripture says Jesus physically rose from the dead (Mark 16:6).

    Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.

    False. Scripture says Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15) because he is exalted to the highest place, but as God he was not created but always existed (John 1:1).

    Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.

    False. Scripture says that Jesus is God (John 1:1; 8:58; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:1–4).

    God created male and female.

    True. Scripture says God created humans as male and female (Gen. 1:27).

    The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.

    False. Scripture makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is a personal being who can be sinned against (Isa. 63:10), lied to (Acts 5:3), and grieved (Eph. 4:30). Scripture also says we are to obey and honor him (Acts 10:19–21; Ps. 51:11).

    The Holy Spirit gives a spiritual new birth or new life before a person has faith in Jesus Christ.

    True. Scripture says it’s the Spirit who gives life (John 3:8, 6:63).

    The Holy Spirit can tell me to do something which is forbidden in the Bible.

    False. Scripture says the Holy Spirit is God and that God himself tempts no one to sin (James 1:13).

    Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.

    False. Scripture tells us no human is good by nature (Ps. 14:3).

    Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.

    True. Scripture tells us that “every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution” (Heb. 2:2).

    God counts a person as righteous not because of one’s works but only because of one’s faith in Jesus Christ.

    True. Scripture tells us a person is righteous not because of his own work but because he believes in Jesus who justifies the ungodly, and his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom 4:1–5).

    Everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God.

    False. Scripture says that every human inherits a sin nature from the time of his or her conception (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12).

    The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.

    False. Scripture is God’s Word and God’s Word is true (2 Tim. 3:16; John 17:17).

    The Bible is 100 percent accurate in all that it teaches.

    True. Scripture is God’s Word and God’s Word is true (2 Tim. 3:16; John 17:17).

    Modern science disproves the Bible.

    False. Scripture is God’s Word and God’s Word is true (2 Tim. 3:16; John 17:17).

    God chose the people he would save before he created the world.

    True. God chose whom he would save even before he created the world (Rom. 9:23; Eph. 1:4; Titus 1:2).

    Hell is a real place where certain people will be punished forever.

    True. Jesus made it clear that hell is a real place where punishment would be as everlasting as life in heaven (Matt. 25:46).

    There will be a time when Jesus Christ returns to judge all the people who have lived.

    True. Jesus said everyone who has died will be raised from the dead and judged (John 5:26–29).

    Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.

    False. Scripture presumes all disciples of Jesus will join a local body of believers (1 Cor. 5:12–13; 11:18; 1 Pet. 5:1–5).

    Christians should be silent on issues of politics.

    False. Being silent on issues of politics may cause us to disobey certain requirements of Scripture. For example, Christians are commanded to speak up and judge fairly and to defend the rights of the poor and needy (Prov. 31:9). We’re also called, as we have the opportunity, to do good to everyone (Gal. 6:10).

    Every Christian has an obligation to join a local church.

    True. Scripture presumes all disciples of Jesus will join a local body of believers (1 Cor 5:12–13; 11:18; 1 Pet. 5:1–5).

    Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.

    True. Scripture says God instituted marriage to be a covenant relationship between one biological man and one biological woman, and this relationship is the only appropriate place for sexual activity (Heb. 13:4).

    Abortion is a sin.

    True. Scripture teaches the personhood of those in the womb (Ps. 139:13, 16; Luke 1:41, 44) and that God prohibits the taking of innocent life (Ex. 20:13).

    Gender identity is a matter of choice.

    False. Scripture says God created humans as male and female (Gen 1:27).

    The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today.

    False. Scripture consistently declares homosexual activity is sinful (Rom. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10).

    God is unconcerned with my day-to-day decisions.

    False. Scripture commands that we “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10).

    The Bible has the authority to tell us what we must do.

    True. As Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

    Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth.

    False. As Scripture makes clear, many religious beliefs held by followers of Christ are based on objective truth. For example, as Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor. 15:17).

    The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.

    True. As Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

    It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.

    True. Scripture tells us God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

    Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.

    True. Scripture says that by a single offering—the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross—he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Heb. 10:14)

    Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.

    True. Jesus said he was the only way to heaven and that whoever puts their faith in him shall have eternal life (John 14:6; John 11:25).

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/state-theology-2022/

    Closing Thoughts

    So by analyzing all this data from the various surveys, a clear picture emerges, an evangelical church in America on life support. Heresy and apostasy seem to be the norm now. Those holding to orthodox theology are becoming smaller and smaller every year. Evangelicals have turned have allowed popular culture and theological liberalism to dictate the church. Pastors are not being trained properly in seminaries, and a huge number of evangelicals who attend university quickly shed their conservative values and adopt liberal positions at these bastions of liberalism.

    The result is a deeply compromised, lukewarm, weak, and pathetic evangelical church that only brainwashes more Christians every year into bad theology.

    Readers of my blog may recall my post on the scandal of the evangelical mind. This fear seems to be validated in these survey results.

    The days of conservative theology dominating public life, the popular culture, seminaries, universities, and most churches are long gone. We must be realistic. We now live, in America, in a post-Christian society. Conservative evangelicals will see their numbers and influence continue to plummet. But God always has a righteous remnant of those who are faithful to the Word of God.

    Evangelicals must realize that well-formed and effective apologetics are more vital than ever before in this nation. Churches must invest in orthodox seminaries, parents must send their children to conservative schools teaching sound theology, and pastors must stand boldly on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, and be true witnesses for Christ to the darkness of this world.

  • Dental Torment: Pain Beyond Belief

    My tooth is in excruciating pain
    It’s driving me insane

    More than half the molar decayed
    I wish it had stayed

    Every second it does throb
    I’d rather be beaten by a mob

    Searing discomfort
    I’m desperate

    I took two Vicodin for relief
    But the reduction in pain was brief

    Now it’s nearly 4am in the morn
    I’m filled with woe and forlorn

    This damn tooth must come out
    When it does I’ll give you a shout

    Pull it out quick I say
    Do not delay

    The Pitt dental clinic is my only hope
    I’m at the end of my rope

    I implore you to remember me in prayer
    Do me this favor

    by Zachary Uram
    (c) 2022

  • My Favorite Gospel Songs by Elvis Presley

    When you hear Elvis sing gospel music, his love for Jesus is quite apparent. He sang gospel from his heart, with so much passion and conviction! No one can come close to him in gospel music, except for Mahalia Jackson. Elvis recorded dozens of gospel songs, in this post are 7 of my favorites! I hope you are as touched by them as I have been.

    Songs

    Take My Hand, Precious Lord

    Take My Hand, Precious Lord recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 13 January 1957; written by Thomas Dorsey. Originally recorded by Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1937.

    This song was written out of grief by Dorsey when he lost his wife giving birth to his son who died later that night.

    He had just turned 22 less than a week before he recorded this, and to me, he sings it like he would with the mastery of something he might have done in the 70s. His voice is pristine in this and gives me goosebumps every time. Elvis sang gospel straight from his heart

    Lyrics

    Precious Lord, take my hand
    Lead me on, let me stand
    I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
    Through the storm, through the night
    Lead me on to the light
    Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

    In my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
    When my light is almost gone
    Hear my cry, hear my call
    Hold my hand lest I fall
    Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

    When the darkness appears and the night draws near
    And the day is past and gone
    At the river, I stand
    Guide my feet, hold my hand
    Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

    Precious Lord, take my hand
    Lead me on, let me stand
    I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
    Through the storm, through the night
    Lead me on to the light
    Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

    In The Garden

    In The Garden recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966; RCA Studio B – Nashville. Written by Miles. Originally recorded by Rodeheaver and Asher in 1916.

    Lyrics

    I come to the garden alone
    While the dew is still on the roses
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The song of God discloses

    And He walks with me
    And He talks with me
    And He tells me I am his own
    And the joy we share as we tarry there
    None other has ever known

    He speaks and the sound of His voice
    Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
    And the melody that He gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing

    And He walks with me
    And He talks with me
    And He tells me I am his own
    And the joy we share as we tarry there
    None other has ever known

    (They’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)

    The song achieved mass coverage during Elvis Presley‘s third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 6, 1957. Before an audience estimated at 54.6 million viewers, Presley closed the show by dedicating the song to the 250,000 refugees fleeing Hungary after the 24 and 31 October 1956 double-invasion of that country by the Soviet Union. Because he also requested that immediate aid be sent to lessen their plight, the appeal in turn yielded contributions amounting to US$6 million, or the equivalent of US$49.5 million in today’s money. Over the next 11 months, the International Red Cross in Geneva, with the help of the US Air Force, organized the distribution of both perishables and non-perishables purchased with the above-mentioned funds (Swiss Francs 26.2 million, at the then 4.31 CHFR-US$ exchange) to the refugees in both Austria and England where they settled for life. On October 15, 1957, Presley’s first Christmas album, containing a master studio recording of the song, was released, topping the Billboard Charts for four weeks and selling in excess of three million copies, as certified by the RIAA on July 15, 1999. Because of these developments, István Tarlós, the Mayor of the city of Budapest, in 2011 and as a gesture of belated gratitude, named a park after him, as well as making him an honorary citizen. This song was requested by Elvis’ mother Gladys who was watching on TV. Elvis promised he would sing it just for her. That was her favorite song.

    Lyrics

    Oh well, I’m tired and so weary
    But I must go alone
    Till the lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes
    Well the morning’s so bright
    And the lamp is alight
    And the night, night is as black as the sea, oh yes

    There will be peace in the valley for me, someday
    There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
    There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
    No trouble, trouble I see
    There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

    Well the bear will be gentle
    And the wolves will be tame
    And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
    And the beasts from the wild
    Shall be lit by a child
    And I’ll be changed, changed from this creature that I am, oh yes

    There will be peace in the valley for me, someday
    There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
    There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
    No trouble, trouble I see
    There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

    How Great Thou Art

    How Great Thou Art” is a Christian hymn based on an original Swedish hymn entitled “O Store Gud” written in 1885 by Carl Boberg (1859–1940). The English version of the hymn and its title are a loose translation by the English missionary Stuart K. Hine from 1949. his hymn was the title track of Elvis Presley‘s second gospel LP How Great Thou Art, which was released in March 1967. The song won Presley a Grammy Award for “Best Sacred Performance” in 1967, and another Grammy in 1974 for “Best Inspirational Performance (Non-Classical)” for his live performance album Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (Released: June 1974) recorded on 20 March 1974 at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Lyrics

    O Lord, my God,
    When I in awesome wonder
    Consider all the worlds
    Thy Hands have made
    I see the stars,
    I hear the rolling thunder
    Thy power throughout the universe displayed

    When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
    And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
    Then I shall bow with humble adoration
    And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, (how great Thou art)
    How great Thou art, (how great Thou art)
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, (how great Thou art)

    Crying in the Chapel

    The hymn ‘Crying in the Chapel’ was written by Artie Glen for his son Darrell to sing. Darrell recorded it with his father’s band, Rhythm Riders, in 1953. The song became a local hit and then went nationwide.

    On October 31, 1960, Elvis Presley recorded his version of the song and planned to put it on his gospel record, His Hand in Mine. Elvis used The Jordanaires as background vocals on the ‘Crying in the Chapel’ recording, but after three takes, neither party was satisfied with the outcome. They decided to shelf the recording and move on.

    It wasn’t until April 6, 1965, that the ‘Crying in the Chapel’ recording was released as a special Easter single for Elvis. And even though the song was held back from release for five years, it became Elvis’ most successful gospel song, quickly selling millions of copies.

    Lyrics

    You saw me crying in the chapel
    The tears I shed were tears of joy
    I know the meaning of contentment
    Now I am happy with the Lord

    Just a plain and simple chapel
    Where humble people go to pray
    I pray the Lord that I’ll grow stronger
    As I live from day to day

    I’ve searched and I’ve searched
    But I couldn’t find
    No way on earth
    To gain peace of mind

    Now I’m happy in the chapel
    Where people are of one accord
    (One accord)
    Yes, we gather in the chapel
    Just to sing and praise the Lord

    You’ll search and you’ll search
    But you’ll never find
    No way on earth
    To gain peace of mind

    Take your troubles to the chapel
    Get down on your knees and pray
    (Knees and pray)
    Then your burdens will be lighter
    And you’ll surely find the way
    (And you’ll surely find the way)

    Amazing Grace

    This is my favorite hymn! No one sings it like Elvis!

    Lyrics

    Amazing Grace
    How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me
    I once was lost but now am found,
    Was blind but now I see

    ‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
    And Grace my fears relieved
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed

    Through many dangers, toils and snares
    I have already come
    ‘Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far
    And Grace will lead me home

    The Lord has promised good to me
    His word my hope secures;
    He will my shield and portion be,
    As long as life endures

    Yet, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.

    When we’ve been there ten thousand years
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’ve first begun

    He Touched Me

    This song brings me to tears! It is so touching and heart-rending. I first heard this song on the radio as a 5-year-old. After over 40 years the song is still fresh and moving!

    Lyrics

    Shackled by a heavy burden
    ‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
    Then the hand of Jesus touched me
    And now I am no longer the same

    For He touched me, He touched me
    He touched me and what a wonderful joy
    What wonderful joy that foods my soul
    Something happened and now I know
    He touched me and made me whole

    Oh since I met this blessed Savior
    Since He cleansed and made me whole
    Oh I never cease, never cease to praise Him
    I’ll shout it while eternity rolls

    Oh He touched me, oh He touched me
    And oh what a joy that floods my soul
    Something happened and now I know
    He touched me and made me whole

    Documentary

    I found this wonderful documentary about Elvis and his love for gospel music, titled, “He Touched Me: The Gospel Music Of Elvis Presley“.

  • Warp Speed

    Oh the joys of traveling
    At a superluminal speed
    In these gloomy days
    It is precisely what I need
    My thoughts travel
    Faster than the light
    God has given me this wondrous gift
    At first, it gave me a fright
    I traverse the universe to and fro
    Past black holes, supernovas
    And wherever else I go
    Exploring from the comfort
    Of my own place
    Who needs a rocket
    To explore outer space
    So merrily along shall, I go
    Never tired of my journeys
    I can go fast or slow

    by Zachary Uram
    (c) 2022

  • Dawn of the Nuclear Age

    Was the use of atomic bombs (the first use of nuclear weapons in history) on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified?

    The Japanese were at that time fiercely devoted to Emperor Hirohito, who they regarded as divine. Fighting at Okinawa and elsewhere showed the Japanese forces were fanatical and would fight tenaciously to the death, and that they would choose death over dishonor. That means we can reasonably infer that the planned Allied invasion of Japan, codenamed Operation Downfall, would have resulted in horrific casualties on both Allied and Japanese sides.

    Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing in The Mercury News, argues that the attacks were strategically justified. Hanson estimated that, following the surrender of Germany, perhaps as many as 5,000 Allied bombers would have been ready to firebomb Japan, which would have been a prelude to Downfall. This operation was projected to cause a minimum of 1 million American casualties, and tens of millions of deaths and injuries among the Japanese defenders. Japanese troops had tenaciously defended the island of Okinawa with deadly ferocity, suggesting that combat on the mainland would cause a terrible waste of human life on both sides.

    Other historians share Hanson’s perspective. “Truman had little choice,” wrote Antony Beevor in History Extra, “Japanese documents apparently indicate their army was prepared to accept up to 28 million civilian deaths.”

  • Ukraine and American Interventionism

    Once again we see neoconservatives and neoliberals pushing for an all-out war between Russia and America. This is sheer insanity and utter folly. America is not the world’s police. Have we learned nothing in the past 50 years? American interventionism has cost us trillions of dollars, and thousands of American lives, it’s generated lots of ill will and made enemies of countries who could have been allies. This is not just a Republican or Democrat problem. Both parties have engaged in reckless interventionism.

    Do we really need hundreds of military bases around the world? There are roughly 750 US foreign military bases; they are spread across 80 nations. Our bloated nearly $1 trillion per year Dept. of Defense budget dwarfs the defense spending of every other country in the world by a lot! When is the last time America was invaded?! We should only support defensive wars and our defense budget should be a fraction of what it is.

    Ukraine clearly provoked Russia into a wider conflict and forced Putin to take military action to defend the Russians in the Donbas. Since 2014 Ukraine killed thousands of Russians including not just separatist forces, but also civilians. It was a CIA backed coup that toppled the pro-Russia president of Ukraine which made this action in the Donbas possible.

    Since January 24th of this year, the Biden administration has spent over $52 billion on Ukraine. Currently, Biden is requesting Congress that we spend an additional $37.7 billion on Ukraine. This is madness. We spend nearly $100 billion on a European conflict while the EU has only spent around $15 billion! This is not our problem. We have no business being involved in this conflict. The money we are pumping into the war is only prolonging the conflict and ensuring that more Ukrainians and Russians die.

    Historically Ukraine has belonged to greater Russia. It was only in modern times that Lenin set the current borders of Ukraine.

    It is foolish to antagonize Russia. The Biden administration could provoke World War 3 which would almost certainly involve the use of nuclear weapons. The cold war between the Soviet Union and America ended nearly 30 years ago with the break up of the Soviet Union. Russia is not our enemy! I see clearly how the Western media is being used to push anti-Russian propaganda. It is disgusting. Yet the majority of unthinking and uninformed Westerners are not even consciously aware of this bias and brainwashing they’ve been subjected to by the media.

    Why are we spending nearly $1 trillion per year on defense when we have a huge problem of homelessness (including many veterans), millions of Americans are on food stamps and we know many children in America go to bed hungry. That money could be better allocated to help the poor in America and speaking personally the amount of money America spends per capita on the mentally ill is pitiful compared to Western European countries. My friend in Canada is on disability, like me, for mental illness and he gets over $2,000 per year more than me. You try living on $1,000 per month as your sole source of income and see how well you fare. As a conservative, it upsets me greatly that the majority of my fellow conservatives have little or no concern for poverty in America and especially those suffering from mental illness. Yet they hypocritically had no problem with trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy which the Trump administration pushed through.

    Even though I don’t agree with President Trump on every policy issue I think he would manage our relationship with Russia far better than Biden and would end our involvement in Ukraine. I will support whoever the Republican party’s nominee is for president. I think either Trump or Florida governor DeSantis would fight for American interests.

    Please urge your elected officials, whether they be local, state, or federal, to spend more money fighting poverty and to increase funding for critical social programs like SSI, SSDI, and food stamps.

  • 1960s Folk Music Medley

    The first song is Both Sides Now by Judy Collins.

    Lyrics

    Bows and flows of angel hair
    And ice cream castles in the air
    And feathered canyons everywhere
    I’ve looked at clouds that way

    But now they only block the sun
    They rain and snow on everyone
    So many things I would have done
    But clouds got in my way

    I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know clouds at all

    Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
    The dizzy dancing way you feel
    When every fairy tale comes real
    I’ve looked at love that way

    But now it’s just another show
    You leave ’em laughing when you go
    And if you care don’t let them know
    Don’t give yourself away

    I’ve looked at love from both sides now
    From win and lose and still somehow
    It’s love’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know love at all

    Tears and fears and feeling proud
    To say “I love you” right out loud
    Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
    I’ve looked at life that way

    But now old friends are acting strange
    They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
    Well something’s lost but something’s gained
    In living every day

    I’ve looked at life from both sides now
    From win and lose and still somehow
    It’s life’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know life at all

    The second song is Try to Remember by The Brothers Four.

    Lyrics

    Try to remember the kind of September
    When life was slow and oh, so mellow
    Try to remember the kind of September
    When grass was green and grain was yellow

    Try to remember the kind of September
    When you were a tender and callow fellow
    Try to remember and if you remember
    Then follow, follow

    Try to remember when life was so tender
    That no one wept, except the willow
    Try to remember the time of September
    When love was an ember about to billow
    Try to remember and if you remember
    Then follow, follow

    Deep in December, it’s nice to remember
    Although you know the snow will follow
    Deep in December, it’s nice to remember
    The fire of September that made us mellow
    Deep in December our hearts should remember
    And follow, follow, follow

    The third song is also by The Brothers Four titled Greenfields.

    Lyrics

    Once there were greenfields kissed by the sun
    Once there were valleys where rivers used to run
    Once there were blue skies with white clouds high above
    Once they were part of an everlasting love

    We were the lovers
    Who strolled through greenfields

    Greenfields are gone now, parched by the sun
    Gone from the valleys where rivers used to run
    Gone with the cold wind that swept into my heart
    Gone with the lovers who let their dreams depart

    Where are the greenfields
    That we used to roam?

    I’ll never know what made you run away
    How can I keep searching when dark clouds hide the day
    (Oh) I only know there’s nothing here for me
    Nothing in this wide world left for me to see

    But I’ll keep on waiting till you return
    I’ll keep on waiting until the day you learn
    You can’t be happy while your heart’s on the roam
    You can’t be happy until you bring it home

    Home to the greenfields
    And me once again

    The fourth and final song in this medley is Michael, Row the Boat Ashore by The Highwaymen.

    Lyrics

    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja
    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja

    Sister helped to trim the sails, halleluja
    Sister helped to trim the sails, halleluja

    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja
    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja

    The river Jordan is chilly and cold, halleluja
    Chills the body but not the soul, halleluja

    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja
    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja

    The river is deep and the river is wide, halleluja
    Milk and honey on the other side, halleluja

    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja
    Michael rowed the boat ashore, halleluja

  • Autumn Haiku

    Morning Walk

    The leaves fall down slowly
    Shades of orange, yellow, and red
    Beautiful bright hues

    by Zachary Uram
    (c) 2022

    Rain

    Cold rain swiftly falls
    I see my breath crystallize
    The sun slowly sets

    by Zachary Uram
    (c) 2022

    Ravens

    Ravens crow loudly
    I see them flying above me
    Such majestic birds

    by Zachary Uram
    (c) 2022