Hey @CBS11, Someone is Being Politically Incorrect on Facebook Again . . .

. . . Shouldn’t you guys have @StevePickett11 and a crew at her house trying to gin up a shame storm?  Maybe try to run her out of business? Go all Memories Pizza Indiana on her? Provoke a bomb threat or two?

Coverage [of Facebook] You Can Count On

Coverage [of Facebook] You Can Count On

Confused? Allow me to explain.

A troubling line was crossed here in Dallas-Fort Worth—in a lame and ridiculous sort of way—this week. The news department of the local CBS affiliate dispatched a reporter to a local woman’s business to ask her about something she posted on her Facebook page.

No, it wasn’t a bomb threat. Nor did she post the formula for a cancer cure. This woman is not a politician or an entertainer.

Dallas business owner Cheryl Rios found a camera in her face for sharing . . . wait for it . . . her strong lack of enthusiasm for the prospect of a female president.

That’s right. Cheryl prefers that her presidents come with a Y chromosome, an Adam’s apple, and a five-o’clock shadow. And she said so brazenly right there on her personal Facebook page (to her friends, relatives and former high school classmates).

(Now stay with me here. I’m not making this up.) Somewhere in the bowels of the CBS11 Newsroom—a real, honest-to-goodness news department in a major American city—someone thought this was newsworthy. Seriously.

Thus “Emmy-winning journalist” Steve Pickett sallied forth to see what this monstrous freak of nature had to say for herself. And we got this . . .

In other news, a YouTube commenter got snarky!

In other news, a YouTube commenter got snarky!

Now Cheryl obviously agreed to this interview. She could have declined to talk to these nincompoops and she would have been doing them a tremendous favor if she had—because they embarrassed themselves. But they did more than that.

They crossed a line.

You see, the moment news organizations start getting comfortable with making the off-the-cuff social media comments of private citizens fair game for news coverage—coverage which can get national traction on social media and prompt a vicious hate storm, as happened with Memories Pizza in Indiana a couple of weeks ago—then freedom of expression for conservatives and Christians is as good as dead in this country.

That’s why we really can’t allow these media enforcers of political correctness to get away with this kind of thing. If we don’t push back here it will only get worse.

Along these same lines, NationalReview.com’s Ian Tuttle took note and posted this: The Shaming of Cheryl Rios. I recommend it.

Here’s the email address for Channel 11’s news department. news@ktvt.com

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to head over to my Facebook page and post something wildly reactionary and out-of-step with the spirit of this age.

And hey, CBS11, I’m in the book if you want to chat. I have plenty to say.

On Resurrection Morning


They are laying Him in the borrowed place of burial.

“Tear down this temple and I’ll build it back in three days,” He had once declared to the bewildered Temple leaders. Now that “temple” has been battered beyond recognition. Torn down in every way a human body can be.

Loving hands have rushed to prepare the broken body for interment. Washed it. Wrapped it in strips of linen. But the customary step of anointing is skipped. They are out of time. The relentlessly sinking sun is disappearing in the western sky.

So they hurriedly hoist the limp, white-shrouded bundle and gently lay it on a chiseled shelf in that rock-hewn womb—and anoint the body only with their tears.

Moments later, with those same Temple officials looking on to assure that all is done as ordered, the hand-picked guards roll a large stone disk across the opening. The ground beneath all feet trembles as the massive wheel drops several inches into the niche carved to hold it in place.

They seal it. And the co-conspirators, breathing sighs of relief, congratulate themselves. They have won, they believe. Finally, the hope of these stubborn Jesus followers has been once-and-for-all extinguished. Indeed, they have already scattered like shepherdless sheep.

The sun is gone. Darkness and silence envelope the rocky garden. No sound is heard, save the distant, fading sobs of a heartbroken mother.

Two nights pass. Then somewhere in the courts of heaven a book is opened and a line from a song of David is sung:

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:10

Immediately, Venus, the Morning Star, rises in the east, declaring the imminent approach of dawn. The earth trembles and the powers of heaven are shaken.

Then we see Him. He emerges with a word on His lips for you, for me and for every wandering child of Adam:

“I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” (Rev. 1:18 NLT)


“Christian, it is your Lord,
He meets the morning of His resurrection.
He arises, a conqueror from the grave; He returns with blessings from the world of the spirits; he brings salvation to the sons of men.
Never did the returning sun usher in a day so glorious! It is the jubilee of the universe!
–Edward Thomson (1810-1870)

On Good Friday


Do you come here often?

Do you come here often?

Somewhere outside my home study window a male cardinal is holding forth mightily—robustly advertising his availability and suitability as a husband and baby-daddy.

I vaguely recall being in my early twenties and doing pretty much the same thing. Like my cardinal friend, I strategically deployed the color red and music. I bought a red Corvette I couldn’t afford, and was in a band.

The insurance alone took a third of my paycheck.

The insurance alone took a third of my paycheck.

I also recall using the color white—in the form of an unconstructed, Don-Johnson-on-Miami-Vice-style jacket.

Fortunately for me, all these efforts failed spectacularly. And five years later God brought me the perfect life companion as I was deploying the counter-intuitive mating strategy of simply not looking like a complete douche all the time.

I’m so grateful for the gift that is my bride. And for so many other things. Which brings me to my thoughts here on Good Friday . . .

The cross changed everything.

I know we all nod and give mental assent to that assertion. But I’m pretty sure we don’t know the half of the vast work of restoration and restitution that was embedded in the “It” of Jesus’ “It is finished.”

The cross is the hinge upon which all of human history turns. Everything before was one way—dating back to the Fall of Man. Everything after it has been different. More different than we know, in fact, because our perspectives are too limited and our vantage point to occluded.

The necessity of the cross testifies that God built this universe on a legal/judicial framework. Just rules, laws, systems and processes were woven in the very fabric of Creation itself. God’s grant to Man of dominion stewardship over planet Earth was a part of this judicial framework. It was a legal grant.

And these principles were so inviolable, that even God Himself could not trespass them and remain His holy Self. When Man’s Fall unleashed evil upon this world and made God’s outlaw enemy the legal “god of this world” God could not simply turn the Etch-a-Sketch of creation up side down, give it a good shake, and start again.

God is not free to cheat. Not and remain Who He is.

So when things went wrong, God set out to make them right again. But to do so legally and justly would require a plan which would be thousands of years in the unfolding.

The culmination of that plan took place roughly 1,985 years ago at this time of year . . . at the cross. Let’s look with fresh eyes at what transpired there.

At the foot of His cross the spirit realm is invisible to our natural eyes. We see a man suffering. What we do not see is what is transpiring in the unseen realm.

If we could, we would see hordes of gleeful, and giddy demons who have finally seen the lowering of the hedge of protection that always surrounded the Son of Man. He was finally vulnerable to torment and attack.

It’s been eerily dark and quiet on Golgotha. It would be easy to assume that nothing of significance has transpired. But in that same span, the great court of Heaven has been the scene of a remarkable flurry of activity.

Legal processes have been executed . . . accounting has been done . . . business has been transacted. . . . a kinsman redeemer has stepped forward to pay the necessary price to redeem an enslaved relative—Adam—and his every willing descendant.

A long-open set of accounting books has been reconciled and closed. A cosmic stamp pounds an ancient page leaving behind a blood-red message across the writing there. “Paid in Full.”

A corner has been turned.

The suffocating blanket of darkness that covered the last half of these proceedings begins to lift. Now that the sun can once again be discerned, we realize it has already begun it’s fiery plunge into the Mediterranean to be extinguished for another night. The Jewish Sabbath rest begins at sundown and it is rapidly approaching.

The few remaining observers on Golgotha heard the man on the center cross shout something about His God having abandoned Him. A little later He’d whispered a request for water—one that was answered, not with a ladle of cooling water but with a vinegar-filled sponge. Now we see the expiring Prince of Heaven summoning His last remnants of physical and mental strength . . . rising to speak once more.

Just one word this time. He cries out:


It is a Greek accounting term. Future English translations of John’s gospel will render that term in a way that tends to strip it of the legal and financial connotations. They translate it, “It is finished” (three words for one). But tetelestai does not mean merely that a thing has ended.

It has a far greater implication than merely a clock has run out and the game has concluded. It is a declaration that all has been accomplished. All that was lacking has now been supplied. The breech has been healed. The debt has been fully satisfied.

Shalom—nothing broken, nothing missing.

Charles Spurgeon called this declaration, “Christ’s dying word to the Church.” But our King’s proclamation carries even more dimensions of meaning than this. He means that all the types, shadows, and symbols of the Old Testament have now been fully manifested in Him.

He decrees that the prophecies that pointed to a future Deliverer King have been fulfilled. John the Baptist had asked, “Are you the One or should we look for another?” Jesus’ answer at that time was suggestive but indirect. Now He speaks plainly. His tetelestai! emphatically shouts, “You can stop looking! The promised One has appeared and accomplished the prophesied task. Dominion of planet earth has been restored to its rightful steward.”

Finally, in that cry of consummation, Jesus declared an end to separated man’s religious striving to build a ladder back to God.

How did this happen?

God Himself became flesh and bone and blood. Walked among fallen men. And willingly laid down on a cross.

We receive and are grateful.








Holy Week Musings Pt. 2

Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on a town garbage heap; at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . . and at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse and soldiers gamble.

–George MacLeod (1895-1991)

Holy Week Musings, Part 1—Qualifying at the Cross

Gustav Tores "Crucifixion of Jesus"

Gustav Tores “Crucifixion of Jesus”

Our oldest daughter was 26 years old a couple of months ago. But she still calls me “Daddy” from time to time, and I love that. It takes me back to those days when our three girls were small, utterly un-self-conscious, and therefore, hilarious—a source of endless entertainment.

There was a brief season of time back when she was around three and our middle daughter was just an infant, in which I’d settled a small office in a modest little one-story building in Edmond, Oklahoma. The offices in the building were all arranged on either side of a long central hallway. My office was located near the end of the hallway, toward the back of the building.

I was just launching an effort to support my family through freelance writing and things were pretty lean financially. Extraordinarily lean, actually. The best parts of the best days back then would be the times my wife would bring the girls up for a surprise visit to my drab, Spartan little work space.

I would hear the chime that indicated someone had opened the front door of the building, quickly followed by the rising sound of stumpy sneakered feet hitting carpet at a full gallop down the hallway. A few seconds later, my daughter would burst through my doorway with a giant smile, a giddy “Hi Daddy!” and body language that shouted, “I’m here! Isn’t it wonderful!”

And it was.

My sincere response was always one of delighted welcome. Outstretched arms. A hug. A gathering into the lap. A breathless request for the latest news from her world.

She was too young—as she was charging down that hallway—to have ever once considered that I might be on an important phone call, or in a bad mood, or upset at her for some act of disobedience I’d heard about earlier in the day.

Those things never entered her mind. No she approached with wild, confident abandon—and usually with a request ready on her lips. “Can we go get pizza tonight? Mommy, said it’s up to you.”

There is a thoroughly biblical, immensely powerful secret to effective prayer hidden in those treasured little moments with my first-born. Allow me to explain.

In my journey of growth and discovery as a believer, I have learned that seeing answered prayer—experiencing daily, miraculous incursions of heaven’s power into our circumstances—is a simple thing involving three spiritual principles.

Together, these three elements have revolutionized our life as a family and enriched our relationships with God in countless ways. They are:

  • The Law of Gratitude
  • The Law of Asking
  • The Law of Heart Confidence

I won’t elaborate much on the first two principles here. I will simply point out that dozens of scriptures exhort, even command, us to “ask.” And that many of those same scriptures encourage us to blend our asking with thanksgiving. Here’s just one example:

 The Lord is at hand; therefore do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:5-7)

There is extraordinary power in a grateful heart. And we must get this deep into our understandings . . . God wants us to ask!

“But doesn’t He already know what I need?” many wonder. Yes, but he commands us to ask, anyway. “You have not because you ask not . . .” James reminds us.

It is the third of these principles that too few believers understand—the principle of Heart Confidence. You’ll find it here:

 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

The testimony of scripture is that it not the neediest or the most desperate who see miraculous answers to prayer. Nor is it the most pious, or self-disciplined, or “deserving” who find heaven’s windows flying open when they speak. No, it is those who approach and ask with the most confident hearts that see mountains move.

Take in the words of James with fresh eyes:

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5,6)

The mystery of the power of heart confidence is embedded in the familiar words of First John 3:21,22. There we’re told that “if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

The equally valid inverse corollary of that biblical statement would be this: “If our hearts do condemn us, we have no confidence before God, and do not receive from him anything we ask . . .”

This is at once a great mystery and a liberating truth. It means that disobedience, or sin, does indeed damage our prayer effectiveness, but not for the reason we assume.

We think God disqualifies us from getting answers from Him when we sin. The truth is, we stop getting answers because sin persuades us to disqualify ourselves. How? It robs us of heart confidence—the only prerequisite to answered prayer!

This is why the enemy of our souls spends almost all of his time and energy accusing us and reminding us of all the ways in which we fall short. Satan (the accuser of the brethren) knows what many of us do not – that our heart confidence is the key to keeping the windows of heaven open so God can move his promises and provision into our lives and circumstances.

I’ve discovered that most believers’ attempts at prayer are entangled by a dozens of disqualifying thoughts:

“I’ve sinned.”

“I haven’t done enough.”

“ I haven’t followed through on that commitment.”

“I haven’t had a quiet time in weeks.”

“I screamed at my kids.”

“Other people get answers because they’re better Christians.”

 Amid this hailstorm of self-accusation and condemnation, many believers give up on even making a request of God. They tell themselves they need to get their act together and become a little more “deserving” first. Then they’ll petition God for help.

Those who do manage to make it to God’s throne slink in on their bellies, laden with guilt and an overwhelming sense of unworthiness. When their prayers prove to be ineffective, they’re not surprised.

I know this pattern because I’ve lived it. But I’ve been set free. I’ve learned that when Proverbs 4:23 warns me to “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out if flow the issues (forces) of life,” that it means I need to guard and protect my “heart confidence” because it is the key to my connection with God.

When I’m convicted of sin, I confess it (1 John 1:9), count it as covered and paid for by the blood of Jesus, and mentally re-assert my legal standing as righteous before God.

I have also worked hard to renew my mind to a wonderful truth about Christ’s work on the cross. We all know that Jesus suffered for our sins, literally having our sins laid upon Him as he was crucified. Most of us are aware that Jesus bore our sicknesses and infirmities, that we might know health and healing.

But have we ever considered the fact that Jesus suffered the ultimate in rejection by God that we might experience the acceptance He knew as the Son of God.

In his extraordinary book, The Atonement, the late Bible teacher Derek Prince wrote:

 In His final moments, Jesus was given sour wine or vinegar, which was bitter. This may have been intended to keep Him from losing consciousness. By accepting this sour wine, Jesus symbolically drained the bitter cup of rejection to its dregs. No human being has ever experienced such total rejection as Jesus experienced on the cross.

Prince built that truth into this powerful faith declaration: “Jesus suffered my rejection so I might have his acceptance.” I have purposed never again to insult the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice by approaching God on the basis of my own worthiness (or stunning lack thereof).

Yes, I still fall back into the trap of disqualifying thoughts from time to time. But I’ve learned to fight for my heart confidence. To feed it and strengthen it with God’s Word. To attack undermining, disqualifying thoughts with scriptural truth.

And I have learned to recall that picture of a three-old running full-tilt down a hallway into my delighted, open arms.

May I encourage you to do the same?

Fly to Him, child of God. Run as fast as your little feet can carry you. Know that you are accepted, loved and unspeakably welcome. Then with grateful mindfulness of all He has done for you in the past, pour out to Him your requests.

This is the secret of heart confidence. It is the secret of power in prayer.

Men: You Are Not What You Earn


Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” (John 21:3)

Peter and friends were relieved but a little disoriented.

The sense of relief came from the knowledge that their leader—whom they’d seen arrested, beaten and crucified—was alive and had appeared to them several times. The problem was the disciples weren’t quite sure what they were supposed to do with themselves now.

Jesus had said something about “waiting,” but waiting had never been Peter’s strong suit. So, after another full day of standing around shooing flies and staring at their own sandaled feet, Peter hit the wall.

“I’m going fishing,” he muttered as he grabbed his bag and headed off in the direction of the lake. The other disciples looked at each other for a few seconds then shouted, “Dude! Hold up! We’re coming, too!”

Fishing was not a hobby for Peter and company. It was what they did . . . what they knew. It was the way they fed their families. And feeding his family while turning a tidy profit had always made Peter feel useful . . . valuable.

Like most of us, these men derived their sense of identity from what they did. And their sense of worth from the degree to which they succeeded at it.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to provide for yourself and for those who are counting on you. In fact, we are hardwired by our Creator to work, produce, build and achieve.

The problem is that from an eternal perspective, we are so much more than what we do. And what we earn is not the measure of our value as men. When we fall for the trap of measuring ourselves by our salary or bank account or car or watch, we are set up for a devastating fall through job loss or a business failure.

So what is the proper measure of your value?

The answer is: What the God of the universe paid to acquire you as a son. That price was Jesus. In good economic times or bad; employed or job hunting; your value remains the same.

You are a prince of God—loved, redeemed and called to eternal usefulness in an eternal kingdom.



The Surprisingly Sage Wisdom of Bill Withers


“But everything in life boils down to this riddle: Are you what you think you are?”—Bill Withers

Came across an amazing interview with 76-year-old music legend Bill Withers in the most recent issue of Garden & Gun. (What? You don’t know about Garden & Gun? It’s only the greatest magazine on earth.) Withers is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

G-G Bill WithersReaders of a certain age will know Withers’ music well. He was huge in the ’70s and early ’80s. Ain’t No Sunshine still holds up after all these decades. DC Talk covered Lean on Me a few years ago.

What struck me about the interview was Withers’ humility and deep, plainspoken wisdom about life.

He uttered the quote above in response to a question about whether he knew early on that he had what it takes to succeed in the music business. I want to put “Are you what you think you are?” on a t-shirt.

Withers came to that business relatively late in life—after a nine-year stint in the navy in the ’60s. Then, after 15 years of success, at the height of his popularity, he walked away from the music industry and never looked back. Why?

Most of my dreams came true; and some of my nightmares, too. I had a pretty good run. And by then I had a family and some kids, so I went about trying to do a good job at that. Without even thinking about it, I just went ahead with my life.

In other words, he recognized that remaining a success in the music business and succeeding at being a husband and father were incompatible goals. So he chose family. Very cool.

On being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he’s grateful but not letting it go to his head . . .

I feel it’s healthier to look out at the world through a window rather than through a mirror. With a mirror, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you.

If you have a moment, do read the whole thing.



If a Book Falls in a Forest . . .

Attention Span

Sometimes I wonder about the futures of those of us who are called to write.

I’ve been writing long enough to remember back when the explosion of niche-y magazine options on the newsstand prompted concerns about shrinking reader attention spans. The thought was that we were creating a generation of people who couldn’t be bothered to read anything longer than the typical magazine article.

There was a funny bit of dialogue in the classic ’80s movie, The Big Chill. The character played by Jeff Goldblum is a frustrated novelist whose current paying gig is writing for People magazine.

“So how about you, Michael? Tell us about big-time journalism.”

“Where I work we have only one editorial rule: you can’t write anything longer than the average person can read during the average crap. I’m tired of having all my work read in the can.”

“People read Dostoevsky in the can.”

“Yes, but they can’t finish it.”

Indeed, shorter books (and shorter chapters within longer books) quickly became the accepted convention in the battle to keep people reading.

Then the internet came along and the modern attention span’s jackhammering into ever-tinier bits began in earnest. The length of the typical blog post made magazine articles seem impossibly long.

Then familiarity with Twitter’s 140 character limit made most blog posts seem too demanding of our limited time. Now Instagram captions are making 140 characters feel like a long reading commitment. In recent months most people’s Facebook timelines have become mostly pictures, links to videos, and one-line aphoristic slogans.

Today most magazines are filled with pictures, not words. There are a few exceptions of course—publications aimed directly at the few remaining true readers.

For years I’ve received a quarterly publication called the Claremont Review of Books. Here’s a typical spread:

CRoB Spread

On more than one occasion I’ve been observed reading this publication in public and been asked by a fascinated stranger, “Where are the pictures?” Or heard, “Wow! So many words.”

Please understand, I’m not being snobby or elitist here. I understand. I feel the pull. I feel the itch in my brain whenever I’m asked to focus on one chunk of text for more than a minute or two. It’s happening to all of us. I have a home office filled with books I’ve ordered in the last year or so that I haven’t cracked open yet.

I teach that for most things in life–especially spiritual things—scarcity is an illusion. But the one thing that is truly scarce is attention. We have entered what has come to be called “the attention economy” and it is fundamentally defined by “attention scarcity.”

Did you make it all the way to the end of this blog post? Congratulations! And thank you!

You see, the thing that haunts the writer’s soul and stalks the quieter moments is the prospect that one has poured important truths in artful ways onto pages that no one will ever read.

If a book falls in a forest and no one ever reads it, did it ever really exist?

Our President is the King of Horrible Ideas


So embarrassing.

In his ongoing quest to make Jimmy Carter’s one catastrophic term seem like a four-year festival of victory, awesomeness and genius, the current occupant of the White House just continues to come through.

This week we read that the President thinks it would be a grand idea to make voting compulsory. Washington Post: President Obama endorses mandatory voting.

“Other countries have mandatory voting,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall-style event in Cleveland, Ohio, citing places like Australia. “It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”

The president continued, “The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minorities . . . There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”

Perhaps. But there’s certainly a reason some folks desperately want them at the polls. One party/ideology benefits greatly when the easily bamboozled and bribed vote in larger numbers. One party/ideology thrives on convincing the gullible that they can have free stuff with other people’s money and that we’ll never, ever run out of other people’s money.

One party/ideology benefits when the mal-educated, the unassimilated and the uninformed show up at the polls. (In related news, we also learned this week that only 35% of adult Americans can name all three branches of government.)

For some time it has been an unquestioned article of faith among left-liberals that when more people vote, better government results.


Pardon me. Could you kindly direct us to the nearest polling place?

“Faith” is the wrong word here because faith holds fast where there is merely no sensory evidence. Liberals hold their belief—that pure democracy will somehow produce good outcomes for “the common people”—in the face of mountains of contrary evidence.

The word for this is delusion.

There is a reason Mr. Obama cited only Australia in support of his argument. Actually his precise words were, “Australia and some other countries . . .” So, who are those “other countries?” Below is a map of all the nations of the world that have already embraced Mr. Obama’s grand idea of compulsory voting:


Ahhh, Latin America, bastion of stability and corruption-free government. And we see you over there North Korea!

Australia is the only one in this group that isn’t either an economic basket case, a liberal-fascist dictatorship or both. Funny how the President didn’t point to all the excellent government the citizenry is enjoying in Thailand or the Democratic Republic of Congo in his remarks.

Many other countries have tried mandatory voting in the past—usually during some fascist-dictator-y phase in their past—but have since abandoned it. They learned the hard way that idiots tend to vote for idiotic politicians.

Governor Ventura

A former Minnesota governor.

Senator Franken

A current Minnesota Senator.















Nevertheless, this president’s banana republic-ification of America continues apace. And we have a whole new generation of potential voters who get their news from Jon Stewart.

Oh, and San Francisco wants to lower the voting age to 16 because . . . Democracy!