Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Asbury Revival is Over. What Happens Now?

 LEXINGTON, Ky. (RNS) — After more than two weeks and worldwide headlines, revival services at Asbury University in central Kentucky came to an end recently.

But the revival goes on off-campus.

On Sunday (Feb. 26), Minneapolis-based evangelist Nick Hall brought an Asbury-inspired revival event to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, about half an hour from the Christian school’s campus.

Hall is the leader of Pulse, a ministry that aims to bring “Jesus to the next generation” by hosting big events. He attended the Asbury revival in its first week and said he was overwhelmed by what God was doing.

After the Asbury revival started spontaneously on Feb. 8, the university officially ended revival services on Feb. 23... More here.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Quote du jour

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

- G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, February 16, 2023

God Has Put Eternity in our Hearts

Editor's note: I stole this from Gary Varvel. If he catches me, I'll give it back!
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11. 
What does it mean: God “has put eternity in their hearts?” We live in a finite world, but inwardly, we know that this is not all there is. God made us for eternity and he has put it in our hearts. 
My grandparents were farmers and my grandma was the hardest working woman I’ve ever known. When she was 80 years old, she had a heart attack and I visited her in the hospital. During our conversation I asked her how old she felt on the inside. 
She said, “Gary, I feel like a 20-year-old girl.” 
Then I said, “Grandma, I believe that’s the real you that doesn’t age but will live forever in one of two places.” Then I proceeded to share with her God’s plan of salvation found in Romans 3:10, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 13, which explain that we are sinners, the penalty for sin is death, Jesus paid our death penalty on the cross, was raised from the dead and offers eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. 
That day, my grandma repented and trusted in Jesus as her Savior. Seventeen days later, her heart stopped and she slipped into eternity. 
D.L. Moody said, "Some day you will read in the papers, 'D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead.' Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.” 
I agree. 
My grandma is alive. The eternity she felt on the inside, is now a reality. Life on earth is a journey to our final destination in eternity. The question is, do you know where will you be?


 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6


Sunday, February 12, 2023

On LA Freeways

   She didn’t like driving through L.A. It was said (apocryphally, she was certain, as she’d never experienced it herself) that there were times when traffic was light. Oh, sure. She always found herself crawling as she passed familiar Los Angeles landmarks, no matter what time of day or night it was. But going completely around greater L.A.—via Bakersfield, Barstow, and San Bernardino—was only possible if you didn’t mind feeling that you were never going to get anywhere again for the rest of your life. Which was the same feeling she got when traveling through L.A. 

   So that alternate route wouldn’t help at all. 

   She was familiar with distance traveling, days-long traveling. As a child and a teenager, her father’s job transferred him every couple of years, which meant move after move. Before she went off to college, they’d lived in California (several locations), New Mexico, Arizona, and back to California again, burning through two grade schools, two middle schools, and three high schools, in her case. What she mainly remembered from all those moves, though, were the road trips. 

   Going back to Southern California to visit old friends and relatives meant days and days of driving, over long stretches of lonely Arizona and California desert highways, punctuated by stops at roadside motels. Fortunately, she was able to read in moving cars without getting sick, so that helped pass the time. But even that palled after a while, so there were hours of imagination, growing remembrances of and comparisons with road trips past, and absently watching the landscape go by while daydreaming. The license plate game helped, too, when her younger siblings got restless, or endless repeats of the alphabet game (one of her favorites—because, being the oldest, she always won). 

   Now grown up, she lived and worked as a teacher in Northern California, but some family members still lived in the south of the state. Every so often a trip to see them was necessary or required or desired. The current trip was one of those. Time was tight, as it needed to be shoehorned into a short break between summer school and the new school year. Some teachers were able to take the whole summer off, which would be ideal for her long-distance visiting, but she couldn’t afford to do that. QED, a lightning trip down south was in order—and that meant the L.A. freeways. Once again. 

   No longer a child in the back seat, but now the solo driver in the car, she was a little less able to completely daydream her way through traversing the gigantic urban sprawl, but practice had enabled some adeptness at this. Today’s trip brought some odd things to mind. While drifting along a packed freeway, averaging 0-5 mph, she looked speculatively at the repetitive exits, overpasses, and industrial buildings she was driving by. It occurred to her that if there were no street exit signs or mileage signs, she would have no idea where she was; it all looked the same, across nearly the whole of the city. Maybe it WAS all the same…maybe it wasn’t REAL…maybe she had left her usual reality for a California dreamin’ Twilight Zone. Her imagination clicked on, in high gear. 
   I drive and drive and drive and drive. I see nothing but acres of roadway, flyovers, entrances, exits, and interchanges, as far as the eye can see. And traffic. Traffic. TRAFFIC. More cars than I could ever imagine existing in my entire multiple decades of life. Is this really a road, or am I stuck in a slightly-mobile used car parking lot? If this gets any worse, we’ll be going backwards. 

   She peered into the cars on either side of her. Who were these people? Where were they going? Why were they jammed onto the freeway alongside her? What were they thinking as they stopped and started, stopped and started, etc.? When did they get on the road, and how far were they going? Did they wonder, as she always did, if they would ever get to their destinations? Her imagination sped on, unchecked. 

   These people must spend great chunks of their lives on these roads. In fact—she fantasized--what if they really spent their ENTIRE lives on these roads? The buildings I see off in the distance--what if they're not real constructions, but just false fronts (a la Disney) attached to overhead signs on the next freeway over? False fronts, suggesting a vast, (pseudo-) metropolis, masking the constant flow of traffic from one end to the other and back again. Circling endlessly, as people are born, grow, mature, and die while traveling in their cars... Slabs of apartment building false fronts, scrims of ticky-tacky houses, promising the constant commuters that there is settled, residential life available. Someday. For some people. 

    Just not them. 

   Maybe she would never stop driving. Maybe NONE of them were ever going to stop driving. Maybe they were just going to go creeping down those freeways forever… What she wouldn’t give right now for an open, barren stretch of Arizona highway. So what if it was hundreds of empty miles long? She’d at least be MOVING. 

   Passing countless faux-botanical cell phone towers ("Telecommute WHILE you commute!") augmented by matching faux-botanical foliage to line the freeways and decorate the median strips. Which is needed to replace actual, genuine foliage which withered and perished long ago, from the 10-lane-wide gulf stream of inexhaustible exhaust fumes. 

   Freeway exits to other freeways or to nowhere (essentially the same thing). Fast food places and gas stations along the sides of the freeways are pit stops (literally, recalling some gas station bathrooms). Electronics stores, for periodically upgrading cell phones. Targets, for replacing shoes worn out by constant accelerating and braking; replacing hats and sunglasses lost out the open windows; replacing clothes which have been ruined by disintegrating tacos, nacho cheese dip, chicken nugget grease, and hamburger sauce—or which have simply been outgrown; for stocking the cases of energy drinks needed to keep on driving. 

   She suddenly remembered a favorite Ashleigh Brilliant post card from the past (now, alas, lost). It had a line drawing of a cloverleaf interchange, with the following quote: It's really quite a simple choice: life, death, or Los Angeles. With Los Angeles ranking below death? 

   She glanced out both side windows and checked the rear-view mirror, as traffic ground to a complete halt. 

   Yep, seems legit.


Story by Mary M, Isaacs, copyright 2021. In her book, Hair of the Dog (see sidebar for link). 


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Anybody Out There?

As Ferris Bueller once asked at the end of his movie, "Are you still here?" The blog "Proof Positive" as we knew it is gone. Never to return. For nearly 15 years its objective was to change America through politics and the political system. You can see what a great difference THAT made! I love my country, and I thought that, built upon such a great foundation, it could be restored to its former glory. I was mistaken. Not in that America was once a proud and free country, but about the means any such restoration should take.

America needs revival.

Not a new president, or a new party or by repealing this law or passing that one. It needs a spiritual revival, much like the Great Awakening of the past. Politics is not going to cut it. And politics was mostly what Proof Positive was all about. Politics, polititians and other celebrities...quoting them, mocking them, refuting them...spitting in the wind! Take for example the following picture:
Before, I saw that as a political problem! Liberals influencing society. Conservatives tolerating liberals, etc. But that's a SIN problem! Sinners violating the laws and precepts of God, trying to influence young children to follow in their footsteps. On social media every now and then, some one would post
"If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
- II Chronicles 7:14
And it's true! But the Christians weren't the ones hosting Drag Queen Story hour at the local library, or running the local abortion clinics, so what were the Christians doing about it? Like me, not nearly enough, because that's a social/policical problem and this is a multi cultural nation and we Christians need to be tolerant of other people's religion and atheism!
So part of my withdrawal from social media was it wasn't working, and secondly, I figured I could influence more people if I was out meeting them face to face and seeing if in any way I could care for their needs. Remember these verses?
" Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ " -Matthew 25: 34-40

We need to be out, modeling the example of Christ, where people can see us. And by that, I don't mean, where people can see us, point at us and say, "Oh, what a good person that is", but where maybe the only person who sees us is the person we're helping at the moment!

So here we are. One of my self imposed rules for Proof Positive was "Post some new content every day, even if it's only a quote." Sorry! Not going to hold myself to that anymore! Can't be tied to my desk, getting upset at everything sinful people do and say because their hearts are darkened and they know not Christ.
No politics. No daily content. No more gun giveaways! (Sorry!) One bright note is, even though I fully expect my readership to decline, Mary M. Isaacs will continue to publish stories here, as they are written. If you are not familiar with her writing, click on the leaf covered bench on the sidebar to see all we've posted here. I had actually planned on terminating Proof Positive January 30th, but Mary sent me a draft of her latest story, "The Sketch", and I liked it so much, I told her I'd keep the lights on 'til Friday if she could finish it and copyright it by then!

If I've removed a link to your blog from my sidebar, please don't take it personally. It's likely I still agree with your politics, sense of humor and philosophy of life, but I just cannot allow myself to be distracted by such things. Going forward, my vision must be more singular.

God bless you and prosper you according to His will. Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Adieu, Proof Positive!

Proof Positive R.I.P.

"It is customary for newspapers and news organizations to keep a "morgue", files of clippings of famous individuals, updated frequently, in the event that something should unexpectedly happen to them, they could report the event quickly and in great and accurate detail. This was in my "morgue".

I have been in the habit of scheduling many posts in advance, the Quote du jour, other regular features, primarily so that, when I was on the road or similarly disadvantaged, the effect to my readers would be to go unnoticed. As such, today, as I write this, I have quotes, music videos and features queued up, some of which will not publish for months. It has occurred to me, that were I to be hit by a bus, other than the diminishing output, some of you might not notice for a while that I was actually gone. The posts start getting farther and farther apart. Your comments go without response or comment. How rude!

So this is my "swan song". I shall write it and schedule it for some (hopefully) far off time and reschedule it again and again if necessary. But should Providence overtake me and I am unable to say goodbye to you, my friends and readers, I leave a "dead man's switch", a posthumous farewell to explain why the blog has run out of steam.

It will be because the steam has run out of the blogger.

I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts and words with you. The humor, the outrage, the sadness, the strengths that make up the human condition. Fare thee well, dear reader. Godspeed. Vaya con Dios. It's been fun! Don't cry for me, Sarge and Tina!"


Actually, I have rescheduled this a number of times, over a number of years, but, as you have no doubt noticed, the blog is but a shadow of its former self. We hit our peak several years ago. All the red dots on the logo above were people visiting from every country on the planet! The blog was on an upward spiral, it looked like we might be going places, but then, there were fewer and fewer posts. Incidentally, this is blog post 18,093. Some of the people who worked with me moved on to other things. No regrets. It was fun while they were here.

But all good things must come to an end, and so does this blog, three months shy of its fifteenth blogiversary. Over nine million pageviews. I appreciate each and every one of you who contributed, who commented, who just showed up and read what we posted. Every one of you. I'm not sure exactly what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. The blog will remain up as long as Blogger chooses. Someone may stumble over a post or two. My email is on the sidebar if you want to get ahold of me. The "deadman switch" was unnecessary, as it turns out, but my gratitude remains. I will be withdrawing from most social media. Stone knives and bearskins. Oh, well! Live well and prosper, my friends. God bless you. And thanks for all the fish!


Quote du jour

"Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!"
- Jimmy Durante

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Likes of Dickensian London - Victor Davis Hanson podcast

The Sketch

A new short story by Mary M. Isaacs

   She set up her easel and chair not far from the corner and put her tackle box of charcoal and chalk pastels on a small table beside them. Then she manhandled the portable screen out of the back of her car and set it up close to the blank side wall of the building. She made sure to post the vendor’s permit from the city in a prominent place before displaying any of her artwork.

    God worked in such amazing ways, she told herself for the umpteenth time. Looking at the building across the street, she read the familiar words: “Planned Parenthood”. She had driven down this street innumerable times, as it was on the route between her home and where she worked. She could never pass by the clinic without feeling a touch of evil; she also felt sadness when she saw women going in or coming out. She wished it wasn’t there; she wished that one day she would drive by and it would have mysteriously disappeared and have been replaced by a bakery or a shoe repair shop or a small office building. Even a weedy empty lot would be preferable.

    There were better days, certainly, days when she saw people with pro-life signs standing outside the building. She knew they were there praying. With all her heart she wished she could stand there, too, with them—but even as the thought crossed her mind, fear clamped down and she felt a cold sweat starting. She wished she weren’t so afraid, she wished she had more personal courage, but she knew herself too well. It had always been like that for her. She prayed for God to take away her negative reactions, to give her courage so she could participate, but the fears remained. Until that day, a few weeks ago…


    It was pure coincidence (right!) which led her to read that week’s online message from city hall. Amongst boring notices about committee meetings, the predictable police log, and the regular civic cheerleading post from the mayor, was an interesting announcement—about street artists wanted. The city council had voted to try an experiment to encourage weekend foot traffic downtown. It was announced that any local artist could apply for a vendor’s permit by submitting examples of their work; if accepted, they could set up to display and sell their work downtown on weekends, in locations to be chosen in order of application.

    She had read and reread the announcement. She was not a professional artist, not even a prolific one! But she had taken a couple of introductory sketching classes at the community college. Her classmates—and more importantly, the instructor—had liked her work, simple as it was. She hoped the city council would agree, because she had JUST the right site picked out: across the street from Planned Parenthood! She would then have a perfectly good reason for being there. She could sit and sketch—and no one would ever guess the real reason she was there.

    The portfolio she eventually submitted to the city council committee was pretty thin, but she had included her best work. While she waited, she bought a better easel, invested in new charcoals and pastels, and searched online for a portable display screen. When the acceptance information was emailed to her, she was jubilant. She emailed her thanks and her desired location; she received an immediate okay. Everything was working out as she had planned--and as God had directed.

    For several weeks, she spent most of her Saturdays sketching across the street from the clinic. A couple of people stopped to look at her artwork, but no one bought anything. That didn’t matter, because her most important task was being accomplished: prayer. She angled her chair so she could watch the entrance to the clinic while she was sketching. Women—and some men—walked in and out most of the day. Some were inside for a long time….. She prayed for them all, and for the unborn children who soon would be no more.


    One Saturday, while she was sketching from a photograph, she noticed a young woman come around the corner across the street. The woman walked slowly up to the clinic door and stood there; she seemed to be reading the hours sign. She then walked back and forth in front of the building several times, occasionally stopping at the door, and finally sat down on the edge of one of the sidewalk planters that dotted the street on both sides. She clasped her hands in front of her and looked down.

    After watching the woman’s movements closely, the artist prayed, Lord, please stop her from entering. She then made herself as obvious as possible, by rising and rearranging the display of her sketches on the screens, adjusting the position of her easel, and repositioning her chair. Out of the corner of her eye she saw that the young woman across the street had noticed and was watching her. The artist then sat back down and started setting up her chalks, while continuing to pray: Send her over here, Lord—take her away from that place.

    The young woman stood up, crossed the street, and took her time looking at the pictures on the portable screen. “These are nice,” she said finally. “I really like the flower pictures, all the pretty colors. I wish I could draw.”

    “Thank you,” said the artist with a smile, as she continued to pray silently. All of a sudden, she stopped abruptly, as if listening to something. Then she looked at the young woman and said, “I…I hope you don’t mind my asking, but may I sketch you? It won’t take long and it’s good practice for me. You have an interesting face.” At that, the young woman blushed a bit and started to shake her head. “Oh, you can have the sketch afterwards! Or we’ll throw it away if you don’t like it. No one will ever see it but you and me. It’s just for practice…” she pleaded.

    The young woman thought for a moment and then agreed shyly; she sat down on the edge of the sidewalk planter. “Does my hair look okay?” she asked as she poked at it. “How should I sit? What do you want me to do?”

    “You don’t have to do anything particular,” the artist replied. “Just relax and smile.”

    The artist began right away with black charcoal; a little later she started to add in colors here and there. She worked quickly, the image blossoming on the paper as if it were being transmitted rapidly through her fingers--as indeed it was, she realized later.

    After a short while, the artist put down her charcoal and chalks and said, “Done!” She unfastened the paper from the easel and handed it to the young woman, who took it eagerly, with an air of mixed anticipation and skepticism—until she saw the picture for the first time.

    The young woman took a quick breath and turned pale, then sat as if turned to stone. She looked up at the artist quickly, and then back down at the picture. A range of emotions passed over her face—enough to have kept the artist busy for days, if sketching had been on her mind. Instead, she focused entirely on her internal prayers. There was a long silence.

    “We can throw the picture away if you don’t like it,” the artist repeated.

    The young woman frowned slightly and started to hand the paper back, but then brought it closer, with her eyes fixed on it. “How did you know?” she whispered, looking up again. The artist gestured across the street with her hand but said nothing. There was more silence while the young woman looked back down at the picture, hands slightly trembling.

    Finally, the artist spoke quietly. “I wasn’t being entirely truthful when I said you had an interesting face. You can see that you have a beautiful face. Your baby’s face will be beautiful, too—that part was easy to draw.” She tipped her head sideways and looked at the young woman. “So, shall we throw it away?”

    The young woman said nothing for a long time. Then she stood up slowly, holding the sketch. “No,” she said, with the beginning of a smile. “I’m not going to throw it away. Thank you.” Then she turned and walked to the corner and crossed the street—away from the artist and away from the clinic. Maybe also away from her doubts? The artist hoped so, fervently.

    There was complete silence afterwards. No cars drove past, no people walked along either street. The artist sat back in her chair and dusted her hands off. In her mind she could still see the simple sketch she had done of the mother and the child; she knew it was one of the best pictures she had ever drawn. For a few seconds she was sorry it was gone, that she would never see it again—but then she closed her eyes and gave humble thanks. She was certain that God wouldn’t take that image away forever. No sketch would be needed after she saw the young woman again because she wouldn’t be alone—the artist would see both mother and child. She was certain of that.

    Her sketch of the young woman and the baby had been beautiful. She knew that the reality would be even more so.

 Copyright 2023 by Mary M. Isaacs, from a forthcoming book

Quote du jour

"True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Quote du jour

Real men don't find masculinity exhausting. Pretenders do.

- Mike B, on Brad Pitt calling Clint Eastwood’s style of masculinity “exhausting.”
(I don't know about Brad or Clint, but I just wake up in the morning and...there it is!)