Sunday, March 31, 2013


I have read the children the the story of the empty tomb from Luke 24. I have hidden eggs. I have eaten my obligatory peep and soon we will head out to worship the Risen Lord!

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013


I will be speaking at Idyllwild Bible Church on April 21st- service times at 9:00am and 10:45 am. Can't wait!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


It was in high school that I first made the observation that within moments of meeting for the first time my fellow high schoolers would inevitably ask each other the same question, "What kind of music do you like?" I didn't give it much thought back then. At the time I supposed it was just a means of finding something interesting to talk about, but now I see that question for what it was. It was a test! It would be like if you met someone in the park and after exchanging pleasantries for a few moments you dove right in and asked them, "So, who did you vote for in the last election?" *GULP* That just isn't done! That's why I felt some stress when I was asked what kind of music I listened to. It was an attempt to define and classify me. In truth, what they were really asking was "Are you my kind of people?" I could tell others felt the same way by the vague, nebulous sorts of answers they gave. They would say things like "I listen to pretty much everything," which is basically the same as saying "I can be anyone you want me to be." Often times they would add "...except country and rap" because in my High School the ruling elite and their minion universally disapproved of those two musical genres.

It was those formative high school experiences of being defined in the eyes of my peers by the media I consumed that have made me slow to publically embrace "Duck Dynasty." I'm ashamed! I can't deny them any longer. I won't deny them any longer! I love that show!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


"One assailant... Two assailaint... Ah ha ha ha!"


My favorite last words are attributed to our 6th President, John Quincy Adams. As he lay dying his assembled family heard him remark, "This is the last of earth. I am content." That is a fitting lid on a beautiful vessel. A close second for me is Robert E. Lee's "Strike the tent," which is a biblical reference to 2 Corinthians 5:4. That's far better than Pancho Villa's "Don't let it end like this! Tell them I said something," Benito Mussolini's, "But, but, Mister Colonel...," or even that famous final utterance of Julius Caesar, "Et tu Brute?" Those men would have certainly mustered something more composed if death had not arrived for them as violently and unexpectedly as it did.

Last words are fascinating because they are so revealing and vulnerable. Circumstances typically dictate that they be brief so a careful and economical use of language is called for which must be difficult to call up in one's final moments. As the things of earth grow strangely dim and, frankly, irrelevant one's last words require the summoning of a person's remaining vitality to make one final attempt at explaining oneself, expressing feeling, imparting wisdom, cracking a joke, or providing some kind of summary of their days under the sun. I suspect that as people lay dying they wrestle with questions of how they will be remembered and I can only imagine that they rehearse what they would like to say in their final moments. Such prepared statements are only slightly less interesting than those that come in an unexpected moment. There's nothing more clutch than nailing your last words.

Some last words simply speak to the cause of death such as Amelia Earhart's "I'm running low on gas," or Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "I have a terrific headache." (He died of a cerebral hemmorhage.) Others depict the mysterious misfirings of synapses as awareness takes one last tour of the facility like Henry David Thoreau's "Moose...Indian..." Some are very funny like Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels, who was asked as he lay dying if he had any final words of wisdom. He replied, "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub." Convicted criminal James W. Rodgers was asked for his final request as he stood before a firing squad in 1960. His reply, "Why yes, a bulletproof vest." More often last words are tragic like Civil War General John Sedgwick's "Nonsense, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..." or Terry Alan Kath's infamous "Don't worry. It's not loaded." Lawrence Oates who was part of the ill-fated Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1912 feared that his injuries were slowing down his comrades. His last words were recorded as "I am just going outside and may be some time," before leaving their tent and intentionally wandering off in a blizzard. Sometimes last words reveal an awareness of the moment at which life begins slipping away such as Al Jolson's "This is it. I'm going. I'm going," or the boxer Max Baer's, "Oh God, here I go..." One has to wonder what that feels like. How did they know? I appreciate the poetry of Emily Dickinson's "...the fog is rising," the simplicty of Lord Byron's "Goodnight," the evocative imagery of O. Henry's "Turn up the lights. I don't want to go home in the dark," the honesty of Henry Ward Beecher's "Now comes the mystery," and the steeliness of Nathan Hale before his executioners, "My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country."

When I find myself at the intersection of this life and the next I hope I have sufficient wits about me to say something fitting, but if not then I take comfort in knowing that it won't matter on the other side anyway. After all, this isn't truly the land of the living as we have often heard it described. This is the land of the dying, and any last words we speak will die with those who hear them. I would like my last words to point those who remain to life unending in Jesus. That would be the best use of my final moments, but why wait until then. Such would be a worthy way to make use of all of my days, and today. One's last words should transition seemlessly into praise on the other side.

In case I'm not able to muster anything worthy when my name is called please read the following at my memorial service.

"A pilgrim's portion, food and raiment and contentment therewith- the mansion which fortune has provided or the cabin which penury has reared- each alike counted a hospice where one lodges as 'a pilgrim and stranger in the earth,' and the grave a narrow inn whose windows look toward the sunrising, where the sojourner sleeps till break of day." A.J. Gordon

"And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." 1 Peter 5:4

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I saw a bobcat tonight as I walked across the grounds. It crossed the road in front of me within the sphere of a floodlight. I have seen the signs of its comings and goings many times, but it was a treat to see it in the flesh. Sometimes after it snows I'll find a delicate line of its tracks linking their way between our buildings, and once I found a perfect set of its tracks pressed into the soft mud under the willows down by the stream. More often there are no tracks, but just a scattering of feathers or tufts of rabbit fur, but tonight our paths intersected. It was awesome!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Here's a seasonally appropriate question that has long perplexed me. What service did Judas render that was worth the thirty pieces of silver? As best I can tell he agreed to take them to Jesus at a time when there was no crowd around (Luke 22:6) and to identify Jesus to the men who were sent to arrest him (Mark 14:44-45), but it seems to me that there were lots of people who could identify Jesus, and to ascertain His whereabouts seems a fairly straightforward sort of job. The Bible doesn't indicate that Jesus was in hiding or anything. I imagine there were lots of people sympathetic to the Pharisees who would have gladly provided the same services as Judas and they would have considered it service to God. Maybe it bolstered their claims against Jesus to have a member of His inner circle betray Him, but still I'm not sure why Judas was necessary. Any thoughts?

Saturday, March 16, 2013


As I was walking home today from the post office I decided to take the scenic route and walk past the row of shops along North Circle Drive between the Candy Cupboard and the Rustic Theater. I observed two elderly couples sitting on a bench in front of one of the shops, and as I approached I overheard one of them saying something to the effect of "Let's go find some lunch." One of the men had a cane and appeared to be more feeble than the rest. His wife helped him to his feet and offered her arm to steady him while he negotiated some steps coming down off the little porch in front of the shop. She watched him carefully and cautioned him, saying "Watch those steps, honey." To which he responded, "Why? They don't ever do anything." The other man smiled, and the other woman guffawed, which prompted the first woman to add, "Please don't encourage him."

The man with the cane winked at me good-naturedly as I passed.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Where has ''Spicy Hot V8'' been all my life? Apparently, aisle 2 at Fairway Market, that's where. Soooo good! V8 has an honest flavor that I have long appreciated but then add that spicy hotness and all of a sudden I feel like I'm cheating on diet Pepsi.

And if you are having trouble getting enough sodium in your diet, don't fret, a single Spicy Hot V8 delivers a full thirty percent of your recommended daily allowance. It's basically a delicious salt slurry with attitude! It's got KICK! Drink one with some ramen noodle soup and your sodium needs will definitely be met.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


You long time readers of the BFZ know that I love tents.

I recently watched a video featuring a tent made from some sort of cement fabric, which could conceivably have humanitarian applications in the developing world and refugee situations. I could also see it catching on here in the United States. I could definitely conceive of some uses for cement tents.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I watched a nation of two
Cross the street hand in hand-
Her pony tail their flag.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dear President Obama,

Dear President Obama,

I was concerned to read an article recently about a joint military training exercise called "Foal Eagle" between the armies of South Korea and the United States, which has sparked some bellicose rumblings from North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. Of course, I trust that you will do everything within your power to safeguard the lives of American citizens, our national interests in the Pacific rim and to make good on our commitments to our allies, but that is actually not what I am writing about. I am writing to express my concern about the unimaginative names being assigned to these sorts of operations. I'm sure there must be some symbolic imagery associated with "Foal Eagle," but I think I could have done better. I would be awesome at naming military operations! Below are five operation names, which I decided to submit for your consdieration. This is just a sample. If you find that they have merit I would be pleased to send you more which you could forward to the Pentagon. I am not seeking any renumeration for this service. I consider it my patriotic duty. I honestly think they would go a long way toward projecting greater strength. This would both intimidate our enemies around the globe and comfort our allies.

1. Operation Momma Said to Knock You Out
2. Operation Rock the Casbah
3. Operation It's You, Not Me
4. Operation Friend Request Denied
5. Operation Here Comes the Tickle Monster


Joel Tom Tate

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Giant rats in Iran! (Yet one more reason not to vacation in Tehran this year.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


On one of the first warm days of March I remember stuffing my pockets with peanuts and grabbing an orange from out of the fruit bowl. I stepped out to stretch my legs along a muddy road between two snow banks. As I walked I dropped peanut shells into puddles to see if they would float like little boats, and I flicked bits of orange peel at the steaming snow banks just for the novelty of seing them contrast with the tired snow. The air blew warm over the fields. Mist rose and settled in the low places. Geese winged a V that pointed compass-true to the north. When my pockets were empty I turned back for home with muddy shoes that would need to be left outside and a heart that was glad for it.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Today Sarah and I took the kids to the library for story time. As we were leaving, one of the library's volunteers stopped us to tell us that several weeks ago they had recognized Valentines day at story time by giving all of the children a scoop of jelly beans out of a heart shaped bowl. Each child passed in turn and she deposited a scoop of jelly beans in each one's pocket. When she had filled Miles' pocket he told her, ''You know, I have two pockets.''

Sunday, March 3, 2013


1. Coke with a Hint of Mint

2. Coke and Coconut (or "Cokanut" for short)

3. Cinnamon Coke

Respectfully Submitted,

Josh Tate

Saturday, March 2, 2013


In 1632 a party of explorers under the command of Captain Fullfield left the safety of their ship to replenish their food suplies by hunting in the primeval forest that crowded the shoreline. In a beech forest above a brackish tidal river they found a mysterious circular stone structure approximately thirty feet in diameter. It was 20 feet tall, with walls three feet thick and so tightly stacked that first mate, Digby Winship, would later write that, "It was quite impossible to insert a beech leaf between the stones." No door could be found to access the interior of the tower so they felled a nearby sapling so that it made a  crude sort of ladder by which they were able to climb to the top. The interior of the mysterious tower was found to be empty. Successive generations would raid the tower as a ready source of stone for cellar holes and foundations so that today it's exact location has been lost along with any ability to discern who built it and why.


At the beginning of the year I promised to break my all time posting record of 372 posts in 2013. Fresh off of making that brash promise I actually exceeded my goal of posting every day in January! However, I then hit a February slump with an anemic showing of 13 posts. Then I failed to post on the first day of March.

Great chuckling keyboard keys! These fingers of mine will need to fly like fury to make up that deficit. I'm up to the challenge though. I've totally got this! On days when I feel uninspired and I have nothing of worth to say I will simply have to write total drivel.

In the meantime, the number of daily visitors to the Bummer-Free Zone has continued on a steady decline toward eventual irrelevancy. No matter, a promise is a promise and I will march on toward my destiny of 373 posts. My course is unalterable.