Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who we really are today along with our example is what will preach our sermon when we are gone!

Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the folks I’ve been privileged to know in my lifetime. That’s my subject for this last day of the month of March, 2009, Tuesday, the 31st. Perhaps it was the memorial service of one of our fellow Church brothers that I attended last Saturday afternoon that got me to thinking. Or it could be the recent renewal of interest in trying to learn more about our family lineage. It’s most likely a combination of all of the above plus some sense of my own mortality that has caused me to conjure up the mental portraits of people who have been influential in my life. On Saturday while the pastor was giving some examples from the life of this recently departed man, I couldn’t help but wonder what someone would have to say about my life and what examples there might be that could be used to communicate the testimony I will leave behind.

No, I would never believe or promote living a life just so that you can be sure someone will have something good to say about you when you are gone. (You could probably buy something like that!) However, I would totally support living a life that by it’s own story it speaks to what you were all about and the things you attempted to accomplish during your time here on earth. While I could not find the origin of this well recognized phrase, it appears to have come from an old hymn: “Only one life soon will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.” The truth of this statement borne out from the preponderance of a life’s testimony should be our goal. When I think of those who have been important to me in my life, there are those who have been friends, co-workers, supporters, and even some who have sacrificed on my behalf. While I am eternally grateful for all who have contributed to my life and very much believe God brought me into their sphere for His plan and purpose, those who stand out the most are the ones who very simply lived out a life of faithfulness to their God, their family, and their fellowman.

Hey, I’ve been helped to achieve major accomplishments in the business world. I’ve received great financial rewards because of the support I gained from my superiors. I’ve benefited immensely from those loyal to me and willing to take hits that I should have taken. However, I think about my mom and the difficulties she has faced in her life and the testimony she has maintained for God. I think about her dad, my grandfather, who relentlessly pursued his faith in his own simple way. I think about her mom, my grandmother, who loved God and His Word and read it often. I think about pastors who have prayed for me and with me. I think about those whose spiritual caring trumped their fear of how it might impact our friendship as they came along side at a critical time and intervened and interfered when I was about to make a huge mistake. I think about my wife’s parents and how her dad and I were so very close. I think about my mother-in-law’s tear stained pillow as she prayed each night for all her children including me. Yeah, the financial gains were appreciated along with the good times, the promotions and all the fanfare. But, when I leave this world, I pray that I will leave behind something of substance like those I’m remembering today! You too! May God bless each and every one. Amen. ….More later.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Morning in America, wake up and return to God!

Good morning and welcome to a brand new work week on this Monday, March 30, 2009. I hope and pray that you had a wonderful Saturday and Sunday. I've been fighting an internet service problem since we had a huge blowing storm last Wednesday evening. The storm didn't last long but it was some very strong and scary bursts of wind before it passed on through. That was some of the experience I talked about in dealing with the service technicians located in India. However, I have discovered there is a contact line here in the states that works from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. that deals with internet related problems. I know it may not sound politically correct but I'll just have to make it clear, I do much better when the person I am talking to actually understands what I am saying and I understand what they are saying. I was talking to a person in St. Louis about the problem and he just chuckled, gave me this different number, and added the comment that this particular line would always be answered by someone on this side of the pond. The internet did come back up at our home on Friday evening but it ran much slower than usual and went back off by Saturday morning. You don't realize how much you use something until it is out of service and this reminded me of how that email has now become such a huge part of our communication link with those near and far away.

Much has been made of a radio commentator's comments about how that he wishes Obama will fail. The media and administration officials have made great headway in trying to paint this individual as being unpatriotic and mean spirited. However, for those who have taken the time to understand exactly what this man has been saying it is clear that he only hopes Mr. Obama's policies will fail, in particular, those that will harm the American way of life in terms of our freedom and prosperity. I hope any policy that continues to move us away from the founder's principles will fail. I hope any policy that continues to move us away from what we know God's will to be will fail. I hope any and all policies designed to have government become the dominating influence in every aspect of our lives will fail. None of us should hope our President succeeds in destroying the things we hold dear as Americans. Don't allow people to bully you or intimidate you, because if you and I do not stand up for those things that are right and against those things that will hurt future generations, then we have given up without even a fight.

I sent an article around to my boys that told about how the new administration is renaming things left and right. Everything about terrorism will have fresh new titles and names. Those who hate us and wish to destroy us will be tagged with less offensive names. The writer went on and on about these changes that will make us more appealing to our European partners and others in the world in general. This shell game is nothing more than a charade but it could be very dangerous whenever we fail to recognize and call those who would do us harm to be exactly what they are: enemies bent on destroying us and our way of life. This new team seems to think they can either fool or confuse the American public but also may actually believe that changing the names will change the hearts and minds of those committed to our destruction. The Bible is filled with this type of gimmickry where people who were supposed to be God's very own used the right words and rituals but were far away from Him in their hearts. Today, America needs a revival. We need a revival back to the God who helped establish us as a nation. Calling the killing of unborn children a medical procedure will not change the true name that God will hold us accountable for. Changing what God calls an abomination into something that sounds acceptable will not change the judgment that is coming if we persist in mocking Him and His Word. I know you didn't sign up for this heavy handed approach on a Monday but here's exactly what happened: I came in, sat down, and this is what came out! May God help us all is my prayer! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Enjoying 'my' hobbies.

While we all share air on the same planet each of us are certainly very different. Many have commented over the years that I am more different than most. I don’t know if this is a compliment or complaint but it’s what I am thinking about this morning, Friday, March 27, 2009. I suppose one of the main areas where folks think I am lacking is the one that deals with having a hobby or hobbies. I’m almost certain I have a number of hobbies but they are not what folks would expect, therefore, they think me to be odd. I don’t play golf. I like golf. I’ve often thought about taking it up. But I don’t play. Many of my friends play but I don’t. I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. I used to and I enjoyed it when I did but I don’t do them anymore. I don’t participate in athletic competitions of any kind. This causes folks to wonder out loud how I could be nearing retirement and have no outside interests to occupy my time.

I’ll start by saying that all of the things mentioned above are quite appealing to me but not to the extent that I am interested enough to pursue any of them. At the same time, in my defense, I would submit that I fill up a 24-hour day about as well as anyone I know. I am busy. I am daily plugged in, involved, and productive; therefore, I typically feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I am involved in all kinds of activities that are not on the list above. However, the things I’m involved in are somewhat out of sync with those identified with someone my age nearing retirement. The question might be who gets to determine what is and is not on the list. While I know I could do better in almost every area of my life, to be honest, I, for the most part, am very pleased with the work I do, the pursuits I follow, and the activities that occupy my time and attention.

I love spending time with my family. I love going places with my wife. I greatly enjoy spending time with my mom and dad. I love spending time talking to God and studying His word. I love serving with other brothers and sisters in our local fellowship of believers. I love the dynamic tension in the work I do where schedules, deadlines, and quality count. I love reading, especially history. I love watching documentaries that interest me. I love a good meal. I love working in the inner city ministry each week. I love teaching the two different Bible studies I teach. I especially love enjoying time with my grandchildren. I love keeping up with current events, the political scene, and watching real police shows like COPS, and the First 48 Hours. I love well-acted television programs like many produced by the BBC. I love listening to different types of music from bagpipes to big band. I especially enjoy sacred music of all kinds along with Southern Gospel. I enjoy NASCAR. I like watching food shows on PBS since I no longer watch the Food Channel after they cancelled Emeril last year. AND, I love doing my daily blog. So there you have it, I may not fill in the blanks like others do, but at this time I’m not lamenting over how mine look to me. In fact, I thank God each day for the life He has given to me in allowing me to do the things I’m doing! I pray that you will also find yourself actively engaged in those things He provides to you! Amen. Do have a wonderful Saturday and Sunday and Lord willing I'll be back on Monday with another set of observations on something! ….More later.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If this were a knock, knock joke, no one could guess the punch line!

I know we are early into this administration called the best and brightest America has ever installed, but pardon me but at this time they look more like the gang who can’t shoot straight. How many major missteps by government officials can we stand within the first 90 days? We are well on our way to finding out! Well, okay, I’ll admit it, I’m stirred up again and this is what I’m serving up on this Thursday, March 26, 2009. The President first said the stock market really wasn’t a very important indicator but has since learned that most folks are invested in it in one way or another and since most of them have lost all their savings, therefore, he has had to backtrack. They then wanted everyone to hate the executives at AIG but once the mobs showed up with the pitchforks and ropes they then wanted everyone to cool off. They enjoyed some brief cover while all this hate mongering was focused on folks we now learn had nothing to do with the derivative speculative trading that brought down their company. In addition, the President woke up one morning and found out in order to sell his toxic asset buy back program he would need the very companies he had most recently incited violence against. We need a scoring pad, don’t we?

In what has become an almost daily occurrence, our young, smartest-ever, tax-cheat treasury secretary agreed that coming up with a new world currency might be a good option. Hello? The dollar immediately tanked and he had to run out and try to back peddle his way out of a brand new fiasco of his own making. I’m not young and certainly not the smartest but I actually think that I would be aware that anything I said as the most senior economic person in our country just might have an impact on the markets. These are the folks who were going to hit the ground running with no learning curve required. If it were not for a mainstream media being a part of the administration’s PR offensive we would all be shaking in our boots in viewing the performance during these first two plus months. I actually listened to the congressional hearings earlier this week where everyone tried to out muscle the other in beating up on the AIG bonuses. Now we hear they will likely allow the absurd 90% tax bill they were so furiously proud of to die in committee, most likely during their next upcoming holiday recess. This is all happening in plain sight and being perpetrated by the folks who said the adults had finally taken over.

I fully appreciate that many are still infatuated with the teleprompter reading machine who now heads our government. But they need to pay close attention to the latest Zogby poll that says his numbers have fallen to only a 50% favorable approval rating. Zogby is a respected pollster but no friend to conservatives. I know the mainstream polls are still saying 65% but remember they are so smitten by the new team they most likely ask only those who are smitten as well. Is this sour grapes on my part? I don’t think so. Angry? You betcha, because these things matter, not only to us today, but to our great grandchildren and their offspring as well! It’s as if a new reality program called the Emperor’s New Clothes now runs daily from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We can only pray that Zogby is discovering that some folks are beginning to wake up and they are remembering to once again think for themselves instead of believing everything the ‘Teleprompter-In-Chief’ is saying. The good news is that we still have a great God and a great country. But it’s our duty to stand up for both! Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Welcome to the fascinating world of global customer service!

More and more service companies are now handling their customer service functions from foreign countries, many in India. That’s what I have on my mind today on this Wednesday, March 25, 2009. As far as I am concerned folks are free to do whatever it is they think is best for their company’s goals and objectives. However, they don’t get to call it excellent customer service because they are the provider and the customer is the one who gets to vote on how well it works. Let me take that back. They can call it whatever they want to call it but that doesn’t make it so. You will well remember that famous comment from the 2008 Presidential campaign about putting lipstick on a pig. Lipstick or no lipstick, it’s still a pig! Recently I’ve had opportunity to engage this type of service and it helps to know in advance what you will be getting into before you dial that toll free line.

First you have to get by the elaborate maize provided by the automated stalling front end. The purpose of the automated call center is to defeat as many callers as possible thereby reducing the call activity. Whatever you say in response to its pre-programmed questions it will not recognize it and will eventually only send you to another menu. This is called a modern version of here we go loop to loop. After exhausting your options and yourself you finally get the one that you’ve waited for: Please hold why I try to connect you to a technician. Before you can savor your victory of finally getting through to a ‘real’ person, suddenly you are greeted with this high-pitched shrill voice of a person who sounds like they are doing a voice over for a travel show tour of a boat ride down the Ganges River. Hello? What? Could you say that again? Like I said before, it helps if you know this already because you can try to prepare yourself before embarking on this challenging adventure.

An older semi-retired fellow who works here at the company told me the other day about how he and his wife recently experienced this process. They have a new satellite system and it is very fancy and requires all kinds of controls, passwords, and other things they are not too ready to have to deal with. They had forgotten their base password and had to call and try to retrieve it. He and his wife put the call on the speakerphone and began their trek through the jumbled world of the technology jungle. He thought he would be best at this so she stood by in support as he began to do battle with the first set of hurdles, the automatic answering system. He kept getting louder each time the system failed to recognize his request. He said he kept saying over and over PERSON….PERSON…I want to talk to a real PERSON! His wife kept signaling for him to stay calm but he said he could feel his blood pressure rising. Bingo! It finally gave him that magical message: Please hold while I try to connect you to a technician. He was beaming as his wife sat admiring his technical savvy. Suddenly, the person came on the line and they could not understand even half of what was being said. After a couple of minutes of this, his wife jumped in and he ended up having to shush her for screaming into the speaker. I could go on but it seems the people way over there in that far away land couldn’t give them their password for security reasons but they could change the password for them but it would require them to interact using their computer. At this point, frustrated and ready to explode, my dear friend blurted out: “Can you just please tell me what channel the Astros are playing on and we will leave you alone!” Folks, you can’t make this stuff up. We have a great life don’t we? Thanks be to God who somehow puts up with us even when we get loud when talking to people across the ocean! Amen. ….More later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My prayer for you today......

Several who read my blog have asked whether I was able to get the water back on yesterday. The answer is no and yes. No because the pump had burned up but yes because I coordinated the repair effort and we had water going again by noon. Now that’s a good long time to be out but everyone was happy to see it back on. Now that I have cleared up that burning question, let me move on to some random acts of thought for this Tuesday, March 24, 2009. How in the world are you doing, anyway? The Apostle John writing in one of his very brief letters expressed the idea that his prayer was that those he loved would prosper in their lives, spiritually, in their health, and in their day-by-day pursuits. (3rd John: 2 "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.") Mentioning prosperity in our world typically causes one to jump directly to having money and far too many reduce John’s words to mean only good health and much wealth. As with all things spiritual, we need to grasp the full meaning of the Apostle’s expressed desire.

I think John’s heart was one inclined to seek enabling on the part of his beloved followers. My take is that he was interested in them being enabled to live and function for God’s honor and glory in a way that promoted and furthered the Kingdom of God. To those who think his prayer was only that people would be rich and healthy miss the significance of God’s revelation of what true riches are all about. John connected his prayer for prosperity to the individual’s soul making it a matter of spiritual orientation. I believe a summary of teachings from our Bible would indicate that God would have each of us to serve Him with any and all that He provides to us. We are to put Him first in all things. John’s prayer could not have meant that only those who are God’s own but also have wonderful wealth and health are those whom God cares for and uses for His Kingdom’s work. That teaching, while prevalent, especially among the TV preaching crowd, is an absolute absurdity in view of the magnitude of revealed truth from The Scriptures.

God has given many the gifts and abilities to prosper financially in order for them to use what He has given to them for His honor and glory. He has provided health to us so that we can get up and go and do His bidding. At the same time, He can also use the poor, the destitute, the unhealthy, and those thought to be the down and out of this world because they may have spiritual wealth beyond measure and they may end up contributing more, (like the widow in Jesus’ story that gave her all, Luke 21:1-4), than the wealthiest in terms of their spiritual contributions. Those contributions by the way will last for all of time and eternity. Therefore, we can know the Apostle John had no worldly thoughts whenever he sought prosperity for his followers. This leads me to my prayer for you today: "I pray that you will prosper in all areas where God can infuse you with whatever you need to fulfill the life He has given to you to the extent that one day you will hear those most sought after words from His lips: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (See Matthew 25:23) That’s my food for thought on this Tuesday. May God bless and keep each one. Amen. ……More later.

Monday, March 23, 2009

You don't miss your water until you can't figure out where the well is.

Good Monday morning to one and all. It's March 23, 2009 and I am off to a running start. I will make today's food for thought a little lighter than usual because since arriving this morning I've got more problems to deal with than you can shake a stick at. That's another one of my grandfather's sayings but it does seem appropriate for the stuff I'm dealing with so early on a Monday morning! We had a terrific Saturday and Sunday. We had everyone in our home yesterday to celebrate our Kyleigh's recent 14th birthday. Everyone was there except our eldest granddaughter who had a scheduling conflict. Kyleigh had a cousin with her and we also had Byron our nephew who is staying with us while completing some of the work projects he has here in our area. This was the very first time since before Hurricane Ike that our entire crew has been able to meet in our home. Thank you Lord! I believe there were twenty gathered and it's hard to put into words how wonderful it was to hear our home filled calamitous laughing, running, and yes, some threats here and there to try and get the little ones calmed down. What a day! What a blessing! And, how thankful we are!

My wife pulled out all the stops and had enough food for a log rolling but still worried that everyone didn't get enough. Some times we meet and we end up eating leftovers for a week. Yesterday we hardly had to wash up any dishes because they were all licked clean. Not quite but it was obvious everyone was more than ready for MiMi's home cooked meal. She was up late Saturday evening working on it and up bright and early Sunday putting the finishing touches on it. Therefore, when I see her exhausted image of being very tired but very happy it makes me know that she has pulled off exactly what she wanted to see done. Everyone filled to capacity. Everyone in good spirits. And, everyone enjoying one another again for the first time. There's plenty in this old world to keep us down and out. In fact, as soon as I finish this note I need to get out and see if I can figure out why we have no water here this morning at the company. There will soon be thirty five guys showing up and we will need water. But, given the great time God allowed us to have with our family, it just helps put what truly matters back on the front burner. I could go on and on but you would have had to been there, or better yet, you would have to be parents and grandparents to appreciate and savor this wonderful family get together. I'm the only one here and sending me out to check on the water situation is like sending a two year old to rewire a nuclear power plant BUT who knows, I might just stumble onto something and get it all going again! Stranger things have happened. Have a great day and a great week. May God bless until next time....Amen. .....More later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Joke of the week: "Wasteful use of funds shocks Washington D.C.'s elite!"

It’s Friday, March 20, 2009 and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have an opinion on the recent continuing mess going on in Washington D.C., right? Hearing outraged congressman and senators as well as White House staffers including our President drone on and on about how shocked, dismayed, and awed they are over the discovery of AIG using bailout money to pay bonuses to their executives is nothing short of award winning comedy. Think about it for a minute. The loudest of these screamers have wasted, continue to waste, and will waste billions and trillions (if they get their way) on a 24 hour basis while they feign being petrified by what ends up being a mere pittance compared to the total paid thus far to their Harvard B School buddies. Sadly, we lemmings out here on the reservation eat this stuff up as our “off with their heads” sensitivities go into overdrive causing us to be seriously distracted from the magnitude of the ongoing vast ineptitude in a system eat up with inefficiencies and cronyism. While the public rubs their hands in glee over the persecution of those receiving $165 million in bonuses, meanwhile, they are completely oblivious to the multi-billions slipping through the cracks. This is reality but at what cost? How about the loss of personal freedoms and the intrusion of government into every aspect of our daily lives on a scale that would cause even the most liberal of our founders to not only roll over in their graves but to also run somewhere and hide their faces in shame.

That doesn’t mean I support people being paid bonuses for their work that ended up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. However, as bad as this might be, it actually really does pale in comparison to the cost of the back scratching deals that go on every minute of every hour on Capitol Hill. My advice is that we wake up and smell the coffee as we do our best to not collectively take our eye off the ball. I pray that we will not end up trading the American way of life for our grandchildren and great grandchildren for some short-term handouts being manipulated by scheming power brokers busy at work within our corrupt political establishment. We have these high-ranking government officials who openly daily feed at the trough of excess and luxury at taxpayer expense complaining the loudest about these bonus payouts. Now we are beginning to find out how that some of the loudest of the complainers were perhaps not only complicit in this pay out, they actually helped assist in making sure it was included in the bailout bill they passed. That’s why I call this entire episode mostly an orchestrated smoke screen intended to cover up the magnitude of the mountain of billions evaporating even as we speak.

While I might care about getting back the $165 million, common sense would tell me it’s much more important to get some of the nearly 1 trillion that has been thrown away (literally) over the past six months. Having these AIG executives and their families receive death threats may pacify the heated anger of the masses, but this my friend is very short lived while the past due bill coming for us all will not be. At the same time I am sick and tired of people who call any type of realistic assessment of what’s going on as being nothing more than a sour and pessimistic view of life in our times. I ask you, if we are unwilling to see the situation for what it really is, how will we ever see it fixed? Truth is not always pleasant or easy but it is an absolute necessity if we are to be set free! And, that’s the way I see it as recorded in my blog appropriately titled, ‘The View From Here’. Do have a great Saturday and be sure to enjoy fellowship with other brothers and sisters at the local meeting place on the Lord’s Day Sunday. I’ll try to cool off some over the weekend and be a little more positive on Monday. Until then, may the good Lord bless and keep one and all! Amen. ….More later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Embracing the perks that come with being a senior citizen.

Here we are again. It’s Thursday, March 19, 2009 and I am thinking about some of the advantages that come from being in the now Sixty-two Plus category of Americans. Yes, friend, there are things to look forward to as you weeble wobble your way towards the golden age where suddenly you begin to actually understand all those commercials targeted at older folks that you used to laugh and make fun of. My eldest son gave me a nice watch a couple of years ago. One day I told him the calendar date was wrong on it but that it didn’t really matter since I couldn’t see it anyway without my reading glasses. He was worked up about it and demanded that I hand over the watch so he could fix the date. He messed with it for a few minutes and finally got the tiny adjustment knob in the right position and fixed the date. He was very proud as he handed it back to me. Now I am happy again. My calendar is correctly set on the watch but I don’t care one way or the other, since I can’t see it anyway!

I’ve noticed that my wife and I are beginning to miss hearing a few of the words here and there being thrown at us in conversations, or while watching television, or listening to the radio. She’s a little worse than me and often asks me what was said. This can be tricky for me since I tend to not be very focused on any one thing at a time. Therefore, I end up quickly processing the visuals that went by, analyzing what was likely the missing information, and then mumbling out something that typically satisfies her question. There are times, however, when I don’t have a clue and have to fess up and take a pass. Of course this can be funny as we both fumble around to remember what we were just talking about that we didn’t hear. It ends up being one of those, “I could have told you had you not asked me.” The cover up is typically way funnier than whatever the original might have been and we both end up laughing. Might as well laugh since we couldn’t remember the other thing anyway.

I’m not close to needing to fill out forms for Medicare or other age related programs but they are a coming attraction and I find myself more and more leaning in when people who have experience begin talking about these issues. I can remember a time whenever retirement, Medicare, Social Security, and time-release arthritis medications were something for folks who mostly spend time in their rocking chairs. Yeah, they slowly but surely are becoming front burner issues. I’ve not become a coupon clipper yet but I think it’s because I saw my wife clip them for years but never use them and that turned me off from even looking. I do at times ask for a discount or lower price if I think it’s warranted. My wife doesn’t care for me doing this but as I often tell her, the Bible says, “You have not because you ask not.” And, after all, they won’t hold it against you because of your age! Is this a great country or what? Have a great day and may God bless each and every one! Amen. …More later.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Remembering to give thanks to God who has never left us or forsaken us!

It’s Wednesday, March 18, 2009 and I am reporting on the reporting that’s going on six months after Hurricane Ike devastated our region of the country. Seems hard to believe that just six months ago last Thursday we were struck with an unrelenting assault from this now infamous storm. As I wrote earlier we recently spent a weekend on a getaway trip and I have never had so many folks come up to me and tell me that if anyone deserved a break we most certainly did. While this might be understandable from those who know all the details, it’s been somewhat amusing to see how many folks from the sidelines who have expressed the same sentiments. Well, how do you like that? We’ve finally become known for something! I suppose the hurricane would have been enough but with my wife’s brother going down while working on our home during the recovery, as well as a handful of other family challenges, well, lets just say these past six months will be a memory that will be a gift that keeps on giving for a while.

The local news stations have all done specials on the storm and its impact to families, businesses, and the continued clean up that has not yet been completed. I see the reports and know first hand what it means to feel helpless and bewildered by all the damage and displacement. HOWEVER, I, at the same time, see those who have had little to no help in their recovery efforts who today remain practically homeless and in a state of confusion and pain, and it makes me aware of just how BLESSED we have been! I actually feel somewhat guilty for the times when I was distressed over our situation because on our worst day we were so much better off than some who had no insurance, no family and local Church support, and no prospects. In one of my final emails to our insurance adjuster I asked him to forgive me for the times when I may have crossed the line in expressing my frustrations over the situation and lack of progress. He sent back a note and said it was his privilege to do what he could to help. In the end, we see in these recent reports how it could have been as folk’s lives have essentially been altered forever by this storm.

My wife and I used to sing a song that had as its theme that we be reminded of how things could have been without God and His provision. The song asks that the curtain be pulled back so that we can see how it could have been, that we might be shown how God has intervened to bring us to where we are and not where we could have ended up. To a certain extent this is how I feel about the sixth month anniversary of Hurricane Ike. There were times when I wondered how we would survive the strain, the stress, and the situation. Yet, in retrospect, I can now see how God was working to take care of things in ways that we could not see but now feel humbled to be able to express thankfulness to Him and give Him the glory for His loving care. We saw a lady in the store the other day who said that while it must have been rough, at least we end up with a rebuilt home and new furnishings. To be honest, I was perfectly happy with the old home and the old furnishings but I do thank God for how we have been taken care of, in Jesus Name, Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Proverb: A good beginning is half the work!

Today is Tuesday, March 17, 2009 and many across our country will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Whether or not I am sure about being descended from a Scotch-Irish background depends upon the facts as we know them. Scotch-Irish is a term typically applied in America to refer to those immigrants who were Protestants that came over from Ireland but also had roots in Scotland. One lady who has done more on my dad’s family name than I have tends to believe my dad’s family to be of English origin, perhaps from Great Britain. My mom’s dad has had his lineage generally connected to the Scotch-Irish identity but this has not been, to my knowledge, completely researched and proven. We do know that both of these lineages, maternal and fraternal, came here from English speaking origins and the names tend to support a reasonable connection to the Scotch-Irish claim. At any rate, we will not be drinking any green beer or partying to celebrate this particular day while we are aware that many others will.

Speaking of lineages, we can with certainty know we are all children of Adam and Eve and by default, Noah. The Europeans are typically identified with Noah’s son, Japheth, therefore, he would be the progenitor of our family lines. My inclination would cause me to put much more stock in the biblical outline of how peoples became who they are and how they populated certain areas of the globe. There’s a profound inspired insight given by the Apostle Paul in a sermon he preached to a very learned audience in Athens, Greece. In Acts 17, we read these words: 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

If I understand this passage correctly it means God arranged for people to be where they are at particular times and places for the purpose of them being able to respond to His calling. Therefore, we may not be able to know all about our particular ancestors but we can know that we are already known of by God and He has provided a way for us to know Him in a Father child relationship. That way is through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Scriptures, once we are connected into His family we become an heir and joint heir with Christ. That’s eternally more important than being able to establish your country of origin and it’s the greatest knowledge we can ever know or hope to know. Now that gives us a day to celebrate and in fact we do that each week on what we call the Lord’s Day Sunday because it is the commemoration of His resurrection from the dead which provides us with the hope we have in Him. Amen. Have a great St. Patrick’s Day and also a day to thank God for His provision to us all! …More later.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gone fishing!

Welcome to the world we all inhabit on this Monday, March 16, 2009. I will readily admit that I do like reading mind-boggling statistical analysis. You can get as much as you can handle of this type of information by visiting the website of the 2008 World Fact Book, maintained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Do a Google search and you will easily find it. The website name is rather long so I didn’t copy and paste it here. This compilation of world statistical information is stunning in its detail. It speaks volumes, literally, on how you and I, regardless of what we have accomplished or done, end up still being pretty small fish in a huge pond. As of 2008, I was only one of the 6.8 billion other folks who breathe air on our planet. That’s a whole bunch of numbers strung together and quite staggering when you consider that each and every individual is known by, loved by, and accountable to the God who created us. On the one hand it makes one feel very small. On the other it reminds us of the profound declaration of the Psalmist who said, “Who is man that You are mindful or take notice of him?” (See Psalms 8:4)

According to this website men outnumber women in total numbers by a fair margin, including male birth rate, however, don’t get too excited fellows because with age those numbers go crazy on us. By the time guys reach age 65 or older women more or less take over to the extent that in 2008 they outnumbered men in that age group by 65 million. This means that a male child born into this world last year had the average potential of living 64.3 years while women were at 68.4 years. This would be a good place to try and guess why this is the case. One jokester remarked that women live longer than men because someone has to stick around and clean up after them. Many of the websites devoted to answering this question had pictures of men risking their lives in doing very stupid things. The photos supposedly helped to answer why men die younger.

These statistics also indicate that only one third of the nearly 7 billion people identify themselves as Christian. That would produce a total of slightly over two billion folks with a potential for having a salvation experience that will see them spend eternity in heaven. However, common sense tells us that many of these are likely believers in name only and are depending upon their good works, or their baptism, or their Church affiliation to get them into heaven. Jesus made it clear that He and He alone is the only way that anyone will ever be able to be eternally saved. Therefore, when we say we live in a lost and dying world we are not kidding! If half of those who claim to be Christian are not, then we are down to only one billion out of seven. That means six billion are lost and on their way to an eternity separated from the God who sent His one and only Son to die for them. No wonder the Bible tells us that Satan is the prince of this world! Bottom line, we need to do all we can to reach as many as we can with the truth that God loves them and that He will save them if they turn to Him. We may be small fish in a huge pond but we do remember how our Savior fed literally thousands when He was given a basket of small fish! This gives us all something to chew on this week as we go about our busy lives. May God bless each and every one! Amen. …More later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday's focus on firsts!

This is that dreaded Friday, March 13, 2009, that so many worry about, yet at the same time it really is, as corny as it may sound, the first day of the rest of your life. Our dear Bro. Milton attended services with his home Church last Sunday for the first time since his health crisis. They tell us it was an unforgettable time of reunion, tears of joy, and a time of loud praise to the God who accomplished something very few thought would ever happen again. My wife and I were able to spend the weekend in San Antonio for the first time in many years. God blessed us with a wonderful time of relaxation and refreshment. On Tuesday evening I attended my Crosstrainer Bible Club program for the first time in many weeks. There’s something about having twenty five mostly underprivileged children hugging all over you and telling you how they have been praying for you and your family that knocks the ball out of the park in causing you to be thankful to God. I often tell my Bible study class concerning the passage we are studying that they should read it again for the first time.

It is the newness of life, the refreshing firsts, that God gives to us in the midst of troubles and challenges that provide us with a sense of His abiding presence. Jeremiah’s woeful poetic words following the destruction of Israel are contained in the book named Lamentations. It is a gut wrenching, horrific read as verse after verse reflects on the intensity of the suffering and pain of a people who had turned their backs on God. However, in the midst of all of these calamitous pronouncements of woe we find the Prophet’s inspired words: 20 My soul still remembers And sinks within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!” (Copied from Chapter 3)

I thank God for these new times of refreshing where we recognize His mercy and grace at work in our lives. Doing life in this fallen world is no easy task. Don’t let anyone tell you it is! But God would have us to pursue the life He has given to us with a sense of awareness that His way, His will, and His direction is always best. Perhaps we all would be better off recognizing and cataloging all the compassions He has extended towards us this past week, or even today. Like the older fellow at a Church we attended used to say when asked how he was getting along: “If I kicked, I ought to be!” It took me a while to figure that one out but essentially he was saying that he, on his worst day, as a child of God, had more to be thankful for than to complain about. How many firsts did God allow you to experience lately? Did you stop and thank Him for arranging things so that you received a blessing? He did it because as Jeremiah put it, His faithfulness and compassions never fail. That’s a really good thought to carry us into our Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday. Have a great one and may God bless! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This is the day God has given to us, let's be glad in it!

I know many will be grumbling in my neck of the woods due to the cooler weather, but not me! (Just so you know, it’s 48 degrees this morning and hardly worth mentioning.) But, since I love the cooler air, for me on this Thursday, March 12, 2009, I’m doing my best rendition of “Yippee Ki Yay” which is what the TV cowboy wranglers used to sing out to the cattle they were driving. I don’t know if this will be the last little cool off we have for this edition of spring but I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. We typically always have one just before Resurrection Sunday but this year it falls on April 12 and that may be a tad late for a cool snap. The setting each year of that celebration Sunday is based on being able to tag the exact date our Savior came forth from the grave to the Jewish calendar for Passover and it has to do with the moon phases and the equinox and all of that is confusing to me. However, I am enjoying this brief cool down and change from the already oppressive humidity. If you are cold natured then feel free to bundle up while those like me sit out on the porch, sip a cup of smoking hot coffee, and take in a breath of cool, fresh air.

We are also supposed to have rain for the next several days. Rainy and cool, what a great combination! It reminds me of when I was a kid and we could sleep with the window raised in our room. The rain falling, the crisp cool air, and all wrapped up in a bunch of homemade quilts, on a feather mattress, with feather pillows, surely this is the kind of bedding we will have in heaven! These cool rainy days are often called: Good sleeping weather. We do need the rain and I pray that we get enough to make a dent in the major drought our state has been suffering this year. Again, we are all different and I know there are some who dread the cold and rain. This type of weather impacts them in a negative manner and they would rather have it hot and clear. That’s okay because God has arranged it so that we all eventually get the kind of day that suits us. Now if you find yourself not being satisfied regardless of the conditions that surround you, cool, hot, rainy, cloudy or clear, then perhaps you need to get a reset of your understanding of what it means to be blessed by God. Now that I think about it, I was hoping for it to be a little cooler than it actually is. Man, why can’t it be just like I want it to be? See what I mean? It can happen in a heartbeat, therefore, remember what the Bible says, “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Amen. (see 1st Thessalonians 5:18) …..More later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don' ask my internal clock what time it is, he's still tyring to figure out what's going on!

I’ve often wondered about the time change deal and the impact it has on our internal clocks. That’s what I have on my mind this morning on this Wednesday, March 11, 2009. For those who say there is zero impact from this saving of daylight scheme on our internal systems I would have to loudly disagree. Last week it was beginning to get lighter each morning as I opened up all our shop buildings. Now I’m back in the dark again. It would seem that current medical science also agrees that the body’s internal clock is a mostly unseen but significant player in how our lives function and operate. Newsweek did a long story on this last July and listed seven major categories where our biological clocking systems matter in a very material way.

Things like sleep cycles, heart function, body temperature, hormone levels, and other major areas are greatly influenced by our internal clocking system. The article referred to this phenomenon as our body rhythm. Another headline that caught my attention said this: “Time change wreaks havoc on internal body clock.” This is from a Canadian news source from last week. In that article an assistant professor who specializes in this area made this statement: "You are moving external time forward so you get a dissynchronicity between the internal (body) clock time and the external clock time. Our bodies get somewhat confused." He went on to say that it takes approximately five days for our bodies to adjust to this alteration. In passing I would say I love the way he stated it even if I don’t pretend to entirely understand it.

What are the symptoms one might experience while making these adjustments? In most folks it’s only some temporary feelings of tiredness and irritability but in those who are already on the edges of dealing with sleep related issues or other types of imbalances, it can be of huge impact. Bottom-line, it impacts different people in different ways. I know I am feeling sluggish since the weekend and I’ll be looking forward to when my body’s central control center throws in the towel, gives up the fight, and embraces the new time parameters that’s been forced on him. It’s good to know that it’s not just in our minds or perhaps that is the point, it is in our minds but it really does make a difference. We can now be a little more understanding of those who have more trouble than we do in making this transition. I know the rationale before was to extend daylight for more daytime activities like being outdoors and enjoying leisure activities. Nowadays folks can’t afford much in the way of extracurricular activities or the higher electric bills to cool their homes. Let’s start a petition to go back to the old time system but then we would have to readjust to it. Man, they get you coming or going, don’t they? I’m beginning to sound like my granddad.

I would continue but right now I may need to take a time out, lay my head on my desk, and take a short nap. Just kidding, but if I thought I could get by with it I might just take a shot at it. I do pray that you and yours will have a wonderful day and rest of the week. Amen. ….More later.