Aunt Susie

Aunt Susie 2008On July 4, 2015, my beloved Aunt Susie flew away to Jesus. Words seem inadequate when describing the significance of her life. As I look back over my own life, her influence is unmistakable, and memories flood my mind like waves flood the shore. She has been a rock of stability for as long as I can remember.

I remember the early days and trips with Aunt Susie to the beach, the library, and the park. We would take the dogs and pick up pastrami sandwiches and mochas for our picnics. And then there were the special trips to the grocery store so we could bake cookies together. I’ll never forget experiencing my first earthquake in California. I woke up in the early morning to find the ground moving beneath me. I looked up and saw Aunt Susie watching over me. After it was over, we both went back to sleep. The thought of her presence still brings me comfort

Aunt Susie knew how to have fun and be fun. One particular memory remains etched in my mind. We were having a light-hearted conversation about a spill on the carpet when she said with a twinkle in her eye, “Out, damn’d spot, Out, I say!” Horrified, I responded “Aunt Susie! You said a bad word!” She, then, informed me that she was quoting from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act V, scene 1, to be exact. This was the beginning of the literary education she would provide me. Through the books she gave me, I learned about D.L. Moody, Fanny Crosby, and John Calvin. When I reached high school and college, she introduced me to Agatha Christie, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell and R.C. Sproul and, yes, the complete works of William Shakespeare. To this day there is not a book I read or review that I don’t think of her.

Aunt Susie was there when I took my first steps in my writing journey. She spent hours on the phone with me as we proofread and edited my lessons, which would turn into the chapters of my first draft. After we’d fixed dangling modifiers and put commas in their proper places, we’d move to discussing the day’s events, the books we were reading, theology, and our puppies. She always had a word of encouragement and an eternal perspective. I will treasure those conversations.

Looking back, I know there were times when she was sick or tired, but Aunt Susie chose to put me and others first, at the expense of herself. She always made time for me. This would never change. She was the most patient person I’ve ever known. Never small or petty. She was kind, always kind, and I never felt her disapproval, only her unconditional love and acceptance. She was joyful in the midst of adversity, patient in pain, and always deferred to others. Even as her body was failing, her sense of humor did not.

Aunt Susie’s faith was the foundation of her life and was reflected in everything she did. She walked a road of authenticity, trusting God through her suffering. In whatever hardship she faced, she was quick to count her blessings. I can remember her saying, “There are worse things than this.” She was a constant example of gentleness and grace. By her very life and testimony, she reminded me consistently that light affliction was nothing compared to the eternal weight of future glory. In the end, she went peacefully into the presence of her Savior, whom she trusted fully in life and in death. What she believed in faith is now reality.

Eternity seems nearer now that Aunt Susie has gone ahead. She left a distinctive path of piety and perseverance. For this and so many other reasons, I will continue to be grateful for her life, and the way she chose to live it. When it’s my turn to follow, she’ll be waiting for me just inside the gates of splendor. She will smile and say, “Well, there she is! There’s my girl!” And we will skip hand in hand through those golden streets together. Until then, by God’s grace, I endeavor to live bravely, love deeply, and give generously as I follow her faithful example.

Posted in Current Events, Devotional, History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Story Behind the Signers of The Declaration of Independence by Paul Harvey

Posted in Constitution Corner, Current Events, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember Who’s in Control

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted in Current Events, Devotional | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Al Mohler responds to Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning same-sex marriage:



Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court’s decision today is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a 5-4 decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all 50 states.


As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.”

The majority’s argument, expressed by Justice Kennedy, is that the right of same-sex couples to marry is based in individual autonomy as related to sexuality, in marriage as a fundamental right, in marriage as a privileged context for raising children, and in upholding marriage as central to civilization. But at every one of these points, the majority had to reinvent marriage in order to make its case. The Court has not merely ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry — it has fundamentally redefined marriage itself.

The inventive legal argument set forth by the majority is clearly traceable in Justice Kennedy’s previous decisions including Lawrence (2003) and Windsor (2013), and he cites his own decisions as legal precedent. As the Chief Justice makes clear, Justice Kennedy and his fellow justices in the majority wanted to legalize same-sex marriage and they invented a constitutional theory to achieve their purpose. It was indeed an act of will disguised as a legal judgment.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the land, and its decisions cannot be appealed to a higher court of law. But the Supreme Court, like every human institution and individual, will eventually face two higher courts. The first is the court of history, which will render a judgment that I believe will embarrass this court and reveal its dangerous trajectory. The precedents and arguments set forth in this decision cannot be limited to the right of same-sex couples to marry. If individual autonomy and equal protection mean that same-sex couples cannot be denied what is now defined as a fundamental right of marriage, then others will arrive to make the same argument. This Court will find itself in a trap of its own making, and one that will bring great harm to this nation and its families. The second court we all must face is the court of divine judgment. For centuries, marriage ceremonies in the English-speaking world have included the admonition that what God has put together, no human being — or human court — should tear asunder. That is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has now done.

The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia.

In that sense, everything has now changed. The highest court of the land has redefined marriage. Those who cannot accept this redefinition of marriage as a matter of morality and ultimate truth, must acknowledge that the laws of this nation concerning marriage will indeed be defined against our will. We must acknowledge the authority of the Supreme Court in matters of law. Christians must be committed to be good citizens and good neighbors, even as we cannot accept this redefinition of marriage in our churches and in our lives.

We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity — a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.

We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.

We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.



SBTS Communications — June 26, 2015

Posted in Constitution Corner, Current Events, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alexander-the-Not-So-Great: Hamilton Out on $10 Bill By Jarrett Stepman


The ongoing Women on the 20s campaign has been putting pressure on President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill. However, it turns out that the United States Treasury Department had another target: Alexander Hamilton. While removing Old Hickory from our nation’s currency would be a travesty, diminishing Hamilton is a disgrace.

The Treasury Department announced on June 17, that Hamilton would be replaced and diminished on the $10 bill in order to feature a woman to be announced at a later date. The goal is to have new bills out by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote.

“Our democracy is a work in progress. We’ve always been committed to a more perfect union,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said according to CBS News. ”This decision to put a woman on the $10 reflects our aspirations for the future, as much as it is a reflection of the past.”

Secretary Lew said that Hamilton might not be outright replaced, but may be featured in a diminished role or on a limited number of bills. However, whether removed or diminished, shoving Hamilton aside on American currency is a slap in the face to the man often regarded as the father of the American financial system. Hamilton was arguably the greatest, and certainly most consequential, treasury secretary in American history. His statue in Washington D.C. stands right in front of the Treasury Department, which now insults his memory.

Hamilton is in the elite pantheon of the founding generation. He was born on the West Indies island of Nevis, and as a poor orphan learned about money and finance while working as a clerk on the docks of the tiny island. He immigrated to the United States as a teenager, and was quickly recognized for his prodigious intelligence.

Hamilton had the remarkable fortune of coming to America in the midst of its revolution—though it may be more accurate to say that the young United States had the remarkable fortune of having this young, incredibly-gifted individual at the right time. He received a truncated and highly accelerated education at Kings College, now known as Columbia University in order to reflect the republican age. Hamilton, a young prodigy, quickly found himself scooped up by the Continental Army and served as one of George Washington’s top aides.

During his tenure with the Continental Army, Hamilton spent his extra time focusing on how to build the American nation and how to put it on strong financial footing. Hamilton performed well during his time in the military, and eagerly received one combat assignment to storm redoubt number 10 at the famed Battle of Yorktown. But as good a soldier as Hamilton became, he was an even greater statesman.

Representing the State of New York at the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton insistently pressed for the adoption and ratification of America’s governing document. Other than James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, and perhaps John Rutledge few men left as much imprint on the Constitution than Hamilton. He collaborated with Virginia’s Madison and fellow New Yorker John Jay on the Federalist Papers, and it is believed that he wrote about 2/3rds of what is easily the most important source in the history of Constitutional law.

Hamilton was one of the most accomplished men in America even before becoming the first United States Treasury Secretary. He had gained the confidence of the Father of Our Country, had been instrumental in creating a new national government, and was now ready to embark upon the creation of the country’s financial system. Hamilton was so prominent and revered in his adopted home of Manhattan, that many began to call New York City “Hamiltonopolis.”

Hamilton was one of the few men in America who had the knowledge and expertise to create a robust national financial system. His Report on Manufactures and Report on Public Credit delivered to Congress were phenomenal and instructive state papers that disarmed and stunned his political opponents. He performed incredibly, and under immense political pressure from those like Thomas Jefferson who distrusted what they saw as corrupt schemes emanating from the Treasury Department and Hamilton’s pet project, the First National Bank.

Despite opposition and fears that Hamilton had corrupted the Federal government, few have run the department with such care and integrity.

When Jefferson was elected president, he immediately sent his own treasury secretary, Albert Gallatin, into the department to uncover as much corruption as possible. Gallatin, who was perhaps America’s second-greatest treasury secretary, opposed many of Hamilton’s policies.Yet, when Gallatin investigated the department he was stunned about what he found.

Hamilton biographer Ronald Chernow recounted what Gallatin said to Jefferson in his book Alexander Hamilton:

“Well Gallatin, what have you found?” [Jefferson asked]. I answered: “I have found the most perfect system ever formed. Any change that should be made in it would injure it. Hamilton made no blunders, committed no frauds. He did nothing wrong.”

Chernow wrote that “Gallatin complimented Hamilton by saying that he had done such an outstanding job as the first treasury secretary that he had turned the post into a sinecure for all future occupants.”

Though Jefferson opposed Hamilton and many of his principles, he nevertheless had a grudging respect for such a great man. Today a bust of Hamilton sits in the front hall of Jefferson’s historic home of Monticello, where Jefferson placed it. Jefferson wanted to face the man he had tangled with for most of his political life.

The system of American finance, in its infancy at the time of the Revolution, grew and flourished under the system Hamilton created. Hamilton’s greatest biographer, Forrest McDonald, wrote of the profound influence of this Founding Father in his book Alexander Hamilton: A Biography: “…the United States was spared the fate of every other republic that was established on the American continents. Instead it became what Hamilton dared dream it might become—the richest, most powerful and freest nation in the history of the word.”

That the Treasury Department under Secretary Lew would so shamelessly ditch the man who truly made it great is an embarrassment. Americans should be outraged that a man as crucial as Hamilton to our country’s history and existence is being so thoughtlessly shunted aside for the insistent campaign that a woman be placed on American currency.
Nobody would have been more angry about Hamilton’s replacement than the women in his life, who always defended his name and honor, even long after he had been killed in the infamous duel with Aaron Burr.

Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth, whom many called “Betsey,” kept a bust of Hamilton in her front parlor, which she cherished all of her long life. Even decades after her husbands death, she defended his name and reputation at every opportunity and never ceased to admire him.

Historian Chernow recounted how a few year’s after Betsey’s death, her daughter Eliza Hamilton Holly became angry at her brother for not completing their father’s biography sooner. Holly wrote stirringly what should be a clear message to the Treasury Department and all modern Americans: “When blessed memory shows her gentle countenance and her untiring spirit before me, in this one great and beautiful aspiration after duty, I feel the same spark ignite and bid me… to seek the fulfillment of her words: ‘Justice shall be done to the memory of my Hamilton.’”

Hamilton is buried at Trinity Church in New York City, in the shadow of One World Trade Center. His gave reads:

The PATRIOT of incorruptible INTEGRITY

The SOLDIER of approved VALOUR

The STATESMAN of consummate WISDOM

Grateful Posterity

Long after this MARBLE shall of moldered into dust

Americans must forcefully push to correct this injustice done to Hamilton and forcefully advocate to restore his visage front-and-center on the $10 bill. That is, if we are still a grateful posterity.


Posted June 18, 2015  via Lisa Cummins


Posted in Constitution Corner, Current Events, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us By Fernando Ortega

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Stuart Christopher Townsend


Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of West for the Black Hills

West for the Black Hills


After the traumatic events of his childhood, Philip Anderson just wants to run his ranch, raise horses, and live his life in peace. But when a powerful man threatens him and the woman he loves, Philip must make a choice. Will his choice cost him his life?

As a Louie La’mour fan, it was with great anticipation that I picked up West for the Black Hills, and I was not disappointed. Leavell has a sense for the aesthetic as he paints the setting for his exciting story. From the description of saddles to the layout of the town of Mitchell, the attention to detail shows the author’s care for historical accuracy, and gives an authentic taste of the Old West as it happened in the Dakota Territory shortly before U.S. statehood

West for the Black Hills is told through the points of view of Phillip and Anna. Philip wants to forget the troubled memories of his past and live in peace. Anna is caught between two love interests. She must choose to marry for love or to protect her family’s interests. Each viewpoint has a unique voice and personality. The masculine and feminine points of view add a colorful and contrasting narrative to a wonderful story.

Most of the dialogue aids the story’s flow and reveals the main characters as likable and sympathetic. Not only does the dialogue show depth, but masculine and feminine voices are authentic, believable, and entertaining, making it one of the greatest strengths of the story.

West for the Black Hills travels back to a time where the law was enforced by brute force and the barrel of a gun. The beginning of the story seems over punctuated, interrupting the flow of the narrative. However, after the first two chapters, the plotline takes off at an incredible pace. The novel is dominated by external events woven together in a realistic but imaginative way by a gifted storyteller who refuses to allow one minute of boredom.

The conflict in West for the Black Hills is driven by external events. Most of them lay beyond Philip and Anna’s control and lead to internal turmoil as they are forced to make choices outside their comfort zones. These tensions make for a terrific story and allow the characters to overcome obstacles which seem insurmountable. The romantic angle is also used to the story’s advantage without overwhelming the entire plot, and the novel is full of page-turning mystery and heart-pounding suspense from beginning to end.

There are Christian elements in West for the Black Hills. Leavell does a masterful job portraying the epic struggle of good versus evil throughout the novel. Philip acts with integrity and treats women as a Christian gentleman should. There are a few times when conversations about faith make valid points, but some seem like after-thoughts and aren’t necessary.

West for the Hills is a stand-alone novel and the first in Peter Leavell’s Dakota Sunrise Series. It is geared for a mainstream Christian audience who enjoy historical fiction, as well as those who are looking for a clean, rip-roaring, well-written western. It is so entertaining that it may also appeal to a general audience as well. However, there are a few scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and the way evil is depicted may bother some readers.

In short, West for the Black Hills is a page-turning adventure full of lively dialogue, reluctant but likable heroes, and incredible suspense. Peter Leavell is an up-and-coming author whose stories are sure to become favorites. I can’t wait to see what he does next.


I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Devotional | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments