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God & Foxholes


Earlier today, I was ruminating on a few things when out of nowhere the old saying, “there’s no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole” came to mind.

You might be familiar with it. It relates to the concept that when facing the enemy, soldiers suddenly get religion. I can certainly understand it. I found myself praying fervently in such situations and that was years before receiving my salvation.

When you stop to think about it, it isn’t just soldiers in foxholes who find themselves asking the Almighty for help in dire circumstances. Perhaps you haven’t been saved but still found yourself praying for help in a time of need. Don’t think so? I can almost guarantee at least once in your life you’ve said something along the lines of, “Hey God, get me out of this and I’ll donate to the Children’s Hospital” or “If You help me pay my bills, I’ll go to church every Sunday” or “Dear God, please help my kid get over the flu and I’ll write a big check this Sunday.” Sound familiar?

Odds are that those without salvation will wonder “why did I do that?” once the drama has cleared. They might feel foolish. They probably won’t tell anyone that they actually prayed. If anyone was in earshot, they’ll deny it or try to explain it away. That’s a funny thing, because psychiatrists make a meaty living by telling people that their prayers are just a cultural remnant from their childhood. a way of coping with stress that is meaningless.

Don’t believe the psychiatrists.

For those of us who are saved, I could go into a long dissertation here about whether God hears and answers the prayers of the unrepentant. Or delve into why that entire prayer structure is wrong. Maybe we will discuss those things, some other time. But this post is for those among my readers who aren’t saved yet.

I’m here to tell you that those prayers are not worthless and to assure you that God did indeed hear you when you asked for help. How do I know this? My Bible says that God doesn’t want anyone to go away from Him (2 Peter 3:9). It tells me that God hears everyone, even if they aren’t in a state of Grace. Consider the case of the Ninevites. The prophet Jonah warns them of impending doom. They pray for deliverance and God spares them. These were not men of faith; indeed they had a jolly time persecuting Jews. But God heard them and spared them.

The Bible also tells me that God is constantly talking to us, even when we aren’t saved. It’s all an attempt to bring us back to Him. Paul wrote to the Romans about how God uses our conscience to talk to us (Romans 2:14-16). James wrote about a myriad of other ways God speaks to us as individuals. God is using me to speak to you right at this moment. And GOD USES OUR PRAYERS TO SPEAK TO US.

One of the few things I truly despise is the false teachers who warp Scripture to fit their personal agenda. I’ve heard people preach that if you’re unsaved, God won’t hear your prayers. They often twist John 9:31 into a pretzel to make this point, but they’re wrong. I’m not going to get a scriptural argument on this point. But just follow the logic here: if we say the way to salvation is through prayer, and God doesn’t hear the prayers of the unsaved, then how do they get saved?

That’s what this little post is all about. I’m hoping that by now you’ll have come to recognize that during those times of fear, anxiety, doubt, and pain God was calling out to you. He was letting you know that if you simply trust in Him, he can and will set things right.

If you have, then the world’s simplest prayer

God, I know I have sinned. I have done wrong in your eyes and beg forgiveness.
I believe that your Son Jesus died for my sin and ask Him to enter my heart
and promise to follow Him as Lord and Savior

will set you free. If you just prayed that prayer, find a Bible-believing and -teaching church near you.

If not, I hope I’ve given you something to consider. But don’t think about it for too long. After all, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and if you stuck around this long, God is speaking to you now.

Our National Reading Problem


I’m reblogging this post from an old friend who also happens to be one of our nation’s leading educators., It is one of the most important things you will read this year. An illiterate nation is something our Founders understood would be devastating. If we don’t do something now, we’re headed in that direction.

https://wp.me/p2F6oY-dT

A Senate Stunner


I’ve seen (at last count) ten gajillion articles trying to decipher AZ Senator Sinema’s decision to register as an independent. I don’t think I read one that gets it right.

I think the vast majority of us are reasonably well-plugged into politics at various levels. Some (ok, maybe more than some) of us have been watching and been part of elections since before the invention of fire, so nothing should surprise us. And yet, everyone seems to be.

Ms. Sinema was always much further left than the typical Democrat on social issues but to the right of even some Republicans on fiscal issues. Further, she’s been a proponent of the traditional rules of the Senate. So while registered as a Democrat and voting with party leadership more than 98% of the time, the former Green Party candidate never really fit into a neat “D” shaped box.

All of this might seem incidental, but for over a year she’s been the target of the leftist base of the Democrats. There are a couple of other Democrats who are also targets, but the biggest difference in her case is Reuben Gallego. Mr. Gallego is a former congressman and very popular in AZ among leftists. He’s already gearing up for a primary run and had an excellent chance of defeating Ms. Sinema, whose approval ratings among AZ Democrats mirrors the President’s overall approval.

In short, if there was a Democrat ready to declare as an independent after Democrats secured a 51st seat, it was Kirsten Sinema.

Now going forward, not much will change in the Senate’s composition. As mentioned previously, she’s voted with near unanimity with Democratic leadership. There’s no reason to suspect that will change now. She is keeping her committee assignments. If anything, Majority Leader Schumer can be expected to throw even more olive branches her way, as her vote will be crucial to many of his priorities (not least of which is keeping one AOC off his heels in NY).

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Glory


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Our Gospel


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The Glorious Return



It’s Good Not To Be The Donald


Trumplicans who won:

  • JD Vance

Trumplicans who didn’t win:

  • Don Bolduc
  • Lee Zeldin
  • Dr. Oz
  • Doug Mastriano
  • Dan Cox
  • Herschel Walker
  • Blake Masters
  • Kari Lake

As of 6:30am, Kelly Tschibika and Lisa Murkowski were virtually tied. Adam Laxalt held a slim lead over Catherine Cortez-Mastro.

Also of note, three GOP governors who are not in Trump’s orbit crushed their opponents:

  • Brian Kemp
  • Greg Abbott
  • Ron DeSantis

In-depth analysis to follow, but it looks like the “red wave” crashed on the shoals of Trumpism.

Dissecting An Embarrassing Failure


The New York Yankees, once the class of Major League Baseball, have just suffered yet another postseason defeat coming on the heels of a regular season collapse. At the All-Star break, this is a team that seemed poised for a historic 118-win season. In the end, they did set a record: they became the first team to ever lose 5 consecutive AL Championship series.

What happened?

A quick review of the season tells us this team was never as good as it played in May and June. It probably wasn’t as bad as it played in August. The reality is this was a bad roster construction, led by a middling manager, who made it to the playoffs on the back of a Herculean effort by Aaron Judge. This was the inevitable result.

To begin to understand what went wrong, we need to travel back to last offseason. Coming off an ignoble defeat in the Wild Card game to the hated Red Sox, the team’s management correctly identified several gaping holes in the team’s roster. Poor defense, especially on the infield, was targeted as an area for improvement. Specifically, the middle of the diamond – catcher, shortstop, and second base all fielded well below league average. Fans also recognized center and left field were not positions of strength.

General manager Brian Cashman spent most of the offseason not doing much more than rappeling off buildings and sleeping on a sidewalk. But in March, he pulled the trigger on a franchise-altering trade. Struggling catcher (and one-time top 5 prospect) Gary Sanchez and popular third baseman Gio Urshela were shipped off to Minnesota for former MVP Josh Donaldson, Gold Glove shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catching prospect Ben Rortvedt.

The thought process behind the trade was obvious to most. Despite the deepest, most free-agency class of shortstops in history, the Yankees didn’t want to spend the money on a long-term commitment to one. First, they had three shortstop prospects in the high minors who all profiled as potential MLB starters in Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Anthony Volpe. Second, the team already had huge contracts on the books in Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole and was trying to extend Judge, which they knew would take another substantial contract.

So instead, we watched Javy Baez sign with the Tigers, the Rangers scoop up a pair in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and Francisco Lindor re-sign with the crosstown rival Mets. T o add insult to injury, the Twins took the $59 million they saved by shipping Donaldson to the Yankees and used it to sign Carlos Correa.

It was a risky gamble by the Yankees. In the end, nobody won the trade. Sanchez has continued his decline and is no longer viewed by Minnesota as a catcher. Urshela had a decent season, hitting .285, but his power numbers fell off a cliff. Correa overcame a horrid first half to post a decent slash line – and promptly opted out of his contract.

But on the Yankees’ side, the trade was a disaster. Kiner-Falefa started out as a fan favorite, thanks to his backstory and effervescent personality. But we’re still wondering how he ever won a Gold Glove, as his defensive miscues finally led to him riding the bench more than playing in the playoffs. His bonehead play on a double-play ball in Game 4 of the ALCS was his season in a microcosm. His teammate was charged with an error, but his failure to execute a play taught kids in Little League led to the game-winning runs being scored by Houston.

As for Donaldson, his age showed in very ugly ways. His high point came on Opening Day when his extra-inning hit gave the Yankees a win. But we watched as his bat got slower and slower throughout the season, unable to catch up to fastballs. It turned the former “Bringer of Rain” into a strikeout machine. Defensively, he remains one of the best. But his .172, 16 strikeout performance this postseason is indicative of what can be expected of him going forward, particularly on the heels of a second half that saw him struggle to a .219/.305/.356 slash.

And Rortvedt? He has yet to play an inning for the Yanks. His injuries forced the team to make a sudden trade for an afterthought from Texas named Jose Trevino. All Trevino did was make the All-Star team.

The other area of concern was the pitching staff. It wasn’t a question of talent, but health. Indeed, over the first half of the season, Yankee starting pitchers were leading the league in innings, ERA, and strikeouts, while the bullpen saw the emergence of Clay Holmes and Michael King as lockdown relievers in the late innings. Ah, but that health. Nobody doubted Cole would rebound. But Luis Severino hadn’t pitched more than 12 innings in 3 seasons, Nestor Cortez had never pitched more than 93 innings in any season, and Jordan Montgomery and Jameison Taillon had injury-marred careers. Domingo German hadn’t pitched in nearly two seasons due to a lengthy domestic violence suspension.

In the end, that inning load played a crucial factor as Severino spent another stint on the 60-day IL, and German struggled in his first few starts back. But where the injuries really began to pile up was in the bullpen. As Boone struggled to manage his starters’ innings, the suddenly overtaxed bullpen began dropping like flies. King exited in July with an elbow fracture. Holmes had to be shut down twice and his effectiveness was noticeably less after his surprise trip to the All-Star game. Before the season was over, 32 men would toe the slab for the Yankees.

Things in the ‘pen certainly weren’t helped by the implosion of former closer Aroldis Chapman. Once possessing a 105mph fastball, the relatively pedestrian 97mph heater he featured proved very hittable, and his tendency to suddenly shy away from it led to obscene walk rates. Chapman was clearly a big part of the plan coming into the season, but by June he had played himself into a mop-up role. A couple of bizarre injuries (including one from an infected tattoo) and poor play led to the one-time superstar being left off the postseason roster.

Another failure came as a result of the midseason moves made to try and bolster the team. Nobody can fault GM Cashman for acquiring Andrew Benintendi, and the unfortunate broken finger he suffered can’t be laid at his feet. But trading for a pair of injured players in Frankie Montas (from the A’s) and Harrison Bader (Cardinals) raised quite a few eyebrows. More eyebrows were raised when the team refused to part ways with Volpe or Peraza in exchange for Luis Castillo, or Gleyber Torres for Pablo Lopez – but did trade from an already thinning staff by sending Montgomery for Bader. While Bader’s return for the playoffs was a lone bright spot for the Yankees. his inactivity for most of the second half left them playing the downright horrible Aaron Hicks (.216/.330/.316, 86 OPS+), and eventually, pressing Cabrera into an OF role.

As for the manager, Aaron Boone has three strengths: his ability to handle the rapacious NY media, his ability to communicate with the front office, and the players genuinely like and respect him. But after 5 seasons, it’s extremely obvious he lacks a sense of strategy, for the ebb and flow of a game, and for managing a bullpen.

Perhaps the greatest indictment of the 2022 Yankees is they entered the season with questions at catcher, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and center field, along with pitching depth and the manager. They ended the season with the only answer seemingly found at catcher and (hopefully) center – and a looming enormous vacancy potential if Aaron Judge signs elsewhere this offseason.

I’ll delve into how I think they can fix these problems at a later date. Stay tuned…

To The Moon


When I was 4 years old, my mother let me stay up late and watch Neil Armstrong take that giant leap for mankind. I was hooked. The rest of my adolescence was spent dreaming of and planning to be an astronaut. I watched with fascination during the rest of the Apollo missions, the hookup with the Soyuz capsule, Skylab, and the space shuttle. As things turned out, I never realized that dream but my interest in space travel hasn’t waned. In fact, I have the NASA and ESA channels locked into my TV.

I was naturally interested when NASA announced they were planning a return to the moon. And naturally, I was disappointed when Artemis 1 didn’t get off the launch pad. When I heard the reason the launch was twice scrubbed is due to 45-year-old engine technology failing, I was stunned.

We’ve spent billions on the SLS rocket, and NASA is using the same engines that powered the space shuttle? Billions on research and technology development, but Lockheed couldn’t come up with something better? What the heck are we doing?

The Artemis (SLS) Rocket

Further, why the moon? NASA says it is to eventually build a moon base. But of what use is a moon base? As a platform for launching expeditions to other planets, it’s useless. A geosynchronous space station, to which supplies and parts could be resupplied relatively easily, is more logical. Besides, we’ve been there already and discovered it to be as inhospitable a place as our solar system offers.

When you dig into this program, these are just a few things that stick out like a sore thumb. Here’s the reality. NASA lost the space race. Not to the Russians (who are using even older tech). Not to the Chinese, the Indians, or the Europeans. No, NASA lost the space race to Elon Musk and SpaceX. They know it, the world knows it, but the public largely doesn’t know it. Yet. Once they do?

They won’t stand for spending billions on a government program that can’t compete with the private sector.

NASA is being kept alive for two reasons. First, it is the government’s way of getting the nascent Space Force into its theater of operation (never mind that actual launches are handled by SpaceX). The other reason? The second and third largest NASA contractors (after SpaceX) are Lockheed and Raytheon, who also happen to be two of the Pentagon’s biggest suppliers. They are also the two principal leads on the SLS design.

Beginning to see a pattern here? Lockheed and Raytheon have soaked the government for billions of dollars, for a design that is fundamentally unchanged from the 1970s, for a rocket they can’t even get off the ground. In the meantime, Musk’s SpaceX is already handling almost 80% of NASA’s launches. Oh, and while NASA is struggling to get back to the moon, SpaceX is powering ahead with their own heavy launch space vehicle, Starship.

SpaceX Starship and Heavy Booster Test

And they aren’t trying for the moon. They’re aiming for Mars – and not to visit. Musk plans to plant a colony, officially marking humanity’s expansion from our terrestrial roots. While NASA and its military contractors fall further behind schedule on trying to get 4 people to the moon, SpaceX is on target to land 50 people on Mars by the end of 2029.

The bloody nose for NASA would be immense. The reality is that NASA should have been dissolved years ago. Their functions are already being managed by SpaceX. It has become merely a way for the government to funnel billions of tax dollars to military contractors. it is a boondoggle wrapped in corruption, incapable of doing things the private sector does routinely.