Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unilateral blinkmanship!

From my limited perspective, I’m beginning to understand the new administration’s game plan in representing our country to the rest of the world: Speak mostly empty words that sound good and carry no stick at all! This orientation that says we can somehow make sweet talk with those who put ammunition belts and hatred placards against the USA on their children’s infant photos is not only laughable but it may be escalating the risk to our nation by the minute. Look at the results since the handover of power on January 20th. North Korea has not only tested multiple nuclear detonations but it is now openly threatening an attack on Hawaii and the mainland. Iran’s response to the kissy kissy dialogue has been to increase their nuclear efforts, run a patently crooked election, and to crack down on any dissent as they have intensified their defiance against the principles we hold dear. Our new siding with the enemies of Israel has put their survival at risk and things continue to go badly in Afghanistan and Iraq. The frenetic and disconnected rush to try and dispose of the enemy combatants in Guantanamo, Cuba may accomplish the widely heralded closing of the prison there but at what cost to our national security? We took a hands off, do not meddle, policy in Iran, seeing many shot and killed as they stood up for democracy. In stark contrast the administration did their best to work behind the scenes in Honduras to keep a man in charge who had defied the people’s constitution but without regard to these efforts it ended in a military coup anyway. Okay, so it’s politics again on this Tuesday, the final day of June 2009, but in my defense that’s what came up when I did a quick search of the contents in my current affairs file stored somewhere in that vast frozen tundra of my memory bank.

This disingenuous charm offensive being advanced by the Obama regime written to the tune “We are the world” is unfortunately taking hold but from a layman’s point of view, (that would be me), it appears to be having the opposite effect than that intended. I know it is still very early on but my view is that at least in the near term instead of bringing reconciliation or concessions, it has tended to embolden the forces of hate as they test the new administration’s credentials (called Street Creds in Chicagoland) in conducting effective foreign diplomacy. Those representing our country say they desire to repair and restore our image and reputation, but again, at what cost? We Americans want to be recognized for who we are as a country and what we stand for, but our government’s first responsibility is to protect our people, period, end of story. Many wondered out loud about whether this new team would be strong or weak and I think we are beginning to see indications that strength is not going to make the cut list. Having the Navy Seals kill off a couple of teen aged pirates does not constitute a stand against the tyranny found all over our globe.

Listening to the many pundits that favor appeasement at any cost reminds us of how well that has worked in the past. Can anyone remember Hitler, Stalin, or Mao? Hundreds of millions of voices were silenced during their reigns of terror. Using kind words in trying to make sense to people blinded by ideology and inbred hatred will not end up protecting our interests as a nation or the security of our families. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush were not always right in how they handled the affairs of state but one thing we did know was that we as a matter of policy were not going to give in to, show respect for, or embrace in any way whatsoever any country whose stated determination is our destruction. That’s no longer the clear message being sent and we would do well to pay attention to how the world is responding. Too much blinking is going on and it seems to all be coming from our side. May God help us is my prayer each and every day. Amen. …..More later.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too busy to catch your breath, well, you are too busy!

I am back from my three day weekend and all fired up and ready to go. We had a wonderful day Friday with four of our grandchildren just hanging out and running here and there but mostly enjoying our day together. They spent the night with us Thursday and they are blessings and we thank God for them. We also realize that as they grow older they will be distracted with many other diversions, therefore, we are soaking up their attention while we can. Have you ever wondered about what people were doing before they became so busy? I was visiting with someone at our local fellowship of believers' meeting place and we were talking about how scheduled up we all are. Is it the access we have to so many different services? Is it the improved transportation and communications that allow us to facilitate many activities? Or is it the mindset that we have adapted and adopted that keeps us all on the run for so much of our day? These are the mind altering questions that I have waiting behind door number three on this Monday version of Truth and Consequences on this June 29, 2009.

I know I have written about this subject before because it is one that dominates most of our lives today. It's as if the scheduling of our day is the major outcome we are pursuing. I mentioned to the person I was talking to about the fact that growing up I can't remember my mom or my grandparents being so whacked out and over scheduled with their appointments and 'to do' list each day. Take for instance the use of medical facilities. I read once that before we had all the specialities that we have today people's usage of services was not anywhere near what we see in our modern times. It's not the chicken and egg question, it's the specialist and patient question. If there is a speciality and it employs people to provide a service, it will need people consuming that service in order for it to succeed. The even harder question that you hear bobbing around in this national health care debate has to do with whether we are healthier as a result of the amount of visits made and unbelievable expenditures invested.

I believe that much of the busy mindset is psychological as well as peer driven. People with very busy schedules are 'with it'. They have places to go and people to see. Folks who are not so busy seem in our high strung world to be a little behind the curve. We wouldn't want others to think we are underachieving because of the lack of chaos exhibited by our running here and there like a chicken with their head cut off, would we? It's easy for us to fall into a trap where we think that having some idleness from running all the time to meet this schedule, deadline, or to keep an appointment somehow makes us less than our overwrought and harried neighbor. I am at heart a stay at home person. I have no problem chilling out and giving it all a rest. I remember that scene from the Disney animated film "Jungle Book" where the vultures who are made to resemble the Beatles singing group are arguing about what they want to do next. One says, "What do you want to do?" The other says, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" And, it goes on and on with one saying, "I chose last time, it's your turn to choose but let's do something!" Sound familiar? How about? Let's just slow down, cool our heels for a while, and enjoy the stillness around us. Sounds good to me! Have a great work week and may God bless. Amen. .....More later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coming Soon: How I spent my one day of summer vacation!

I'm running a little late because I am sending my blog this morning from my home. I decided to take the day off to be with my wife and some of our grand kids. When I told her I would take off she immediately came up with a list of activities we might pursue, like going to the beach, or to the zoo, or some other exotic places. When I thought about taking off it wasn’t to go to some particular place, it was to be there with her and the children. I suppose we all have been conditioned over time to associate enjoying time off based on its connection to some special activity, even more so if children are involved. There’s nothing wrong with going to the beach and we have long experience testing a variety of sunscreens that typically have ended up with us being burned to a crisp. With the feel like temps at ‘105 degrees plus’ I’m not sure the zoo is a good option since I saw some photos where zoo workers have their hands full trying to keep the animals cool. We do have a neighborhood pool and its within a block from our house, therefore, we could get to the water quickly, still do the testing on the sunscreen, find out what places we missed later when we can’t sleep from the pain, and everyone will still look back and say we had a great day. My point is that family is the occasion, being together is the event, and loving on each other is the activity. This is what I am throwing out to you on this Friday morning, June 26, 2009.

I notice many blogs are written from a variety of points of view. There are some written as if a baby was doing the talking. Others are from a cat’s perspective or a dog. That’s pretty hard to compete with in terms of entertainment but it does demonstrate the A to Z variety that exists from the inventive juices that flow from minds that have little better to do, like me for instance. Of course you can find blogs on just about every topic known to humanity. Some of the blog titles are pretty interesting to me. Here’s a sample of the top words used in blogs that currently exist out on the internet, listed in most frequently used order: blog; life; world; journal; news; thoughts; daily; girl; mind; diary; musings; online; ramblings; random; love; content; little; home; blue; time; marketing; right; digital; things; city; rants; and internet, and the list goes on and on and on.

I do not know what I will have for Monday’s edition. That script has not yet been written. It will most likely end up being the elementary school stand up version of answering what I did during my one day of summer vacation. I was glad that the title of my blog did not come up in the top listed words except for the “the” and “from” but I didn’t list them anyway. We all strive for uniqueness but with several billion folks pounding on keyboards every day, it gets harder and harder. Sometimes I ‘google’ some of my main topics that I write about on politics, religion, or other issues and I am blown away at the number of hits that show up. Maybe we are living in a parallel universe where there’s another dude named Sixty-Plus who is writing the same stuff to his audience! Now that would be scary and you do know I am kidding or at least I hope I am because I wouldn’t wish more than one of this blog on anyone. Have a great Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday and we’ll see what sticks to the radar screen for Monday. May God bless. Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wars and rumors of wars!

Today is a brand new day and yesterday will have its own highlights that will come up when you do a search on what happened on that particular day. This is how history is recorded and that’s what I am thinking about on this Thursday, June 25, 2009. Yesterday, the 24th, a huge majority of the folks over in Scotland would have commemorated the 695th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. In this legendary battle, Robert the Bruce (of Braveheart fame) led Scottish forces to victory over King Edward II and his English army. When we were in Scotland back in the mid 1990’s they were still talking about this victory as if it had happened within the last few years. On today’s date, the 25th, back in 1876, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his entire regiment was wiped out at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. It was also on this date in 1950 that the Korean War officially started. Sadly, the history of humanity, from Cain and Abel forward, has been written in blood.

We do not have to look very long or far to discover the enmity that exists within the human family. That tidbit from our experience in Scotland was eerie to us. Those talking about that battle were still very upset and angry about how after winning that famous victory they had eventually lost their independence. However, they made it clear that they were still dreaming of the day when their prince would come, another Robert the Bruce who will rise up and win back their country. These people were very emotional, almost to the point of tears, about something that happened over six hundred years ago. There are certainly enough tears to go around when we consider the ravages of hate that prevails in our world. Yet, the reality of history also provides us with hope, even in a world given over to a record of continued vicious atrocities.

That hope is centered on a historical figure, a real person, the coming of a real man, God Himself in human flesh, the God-man, the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus! He alone fought ‘the’ battle and won against all the forces of evil, hate, and the source of tears for the entire world. That battle was won on an old rugged cross with victory forever accomplished and then it was visibly proclaimed three days later in the Resurrection of our Savior! There is only one way that true love can ever be experienced. There is only one way true peace will ever reign supreme. There is only one way and it comes by His own declaration in which we can celebrate Him and what He brings to those who respond to His offer of salvation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”. (John Chapter 14) Amen and Amen. ……More later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hot flashes for everyone!

Okay. It is Wednesday, June 24, 2009 and I will readily admit that in the summer time it is supposed to be hot. But in this area we broke a record yesterday that had stood since 1904. That was likely a pretty hot day back then for my grandfather who would have been four years old and it's not really that pleasant for us experiencing it some 105 years later! I suppose most of us should be thankful for a gentleman named Willis Haviland Carrier who in 1902 gained a patent for what was to become the first successful air conditioning machine. Mr. Carrier, on behalf of people everywhere, we salute you as the original 'Father of cool'. Around these parts I'm not certain folks could live without his invention. I know I am petrified when I see a very old car loaded up with little kids and the windows are down and they all look like they could faint at any moment. When I go and fetch my grandson Alex from his daycare he wants that air blowing directly on him in the back seat and who can blame him. Mr. Carrier didn't do us much good because I've talked before about growing up without air conditioning and it's hard to know if we could go back to that. We didn't have it and we didn't miss it mainly because it wasn't an option, but we were hot, that much I can remember!

I have already read about water rationing being implemented not too far from where we live. There's new restrictions on fireworks this year because of the early stages of what might become a drought. Fire departments are very much concerned about the stress being put on their resources as the extended heat wave continues. There's a map out on the internet that shows the low temperatures recorded for our country. I often look at it and dream. I notice there's a spot up in Montana this morning reporting 31 degrees. It's 77 degrees here just before 5 a.m. Those folks enjoying that 31 degrees may be sitting at their keyboard looking at that same map and thinking to themselves how wonderful it would be if they could be somewhere where it was warmer, maybe in the 70's. I would be most happy to work out a trade for a few days if they can make that happen. But of course we can't, we just have to make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Today I can be thankful to God for He is always the same, yesterday, today, and forever, regardless of the weather! I can be thankful that I work in an office that has heat in the winter time and cooling in the summer. I can be thankful that God has given people talent and ability to invent things that make our lives easier and more pleasant. And, I can continue to anticipate His goodness in sending rain and a change that will eventually help give us some relief. When I was a kid we could get a gang together and go spend the day at the swimming hole. But there's always been those back then and now who work outside and as we see them today I would hope a little sincere sympathy would be felt because they deserve it. They build our homes, they work on our streets, they mow grass, and keep things moving even during these early dog days of summer. I do at the same time pity the 31 degree fellow in Montana who is dreaming of our temperatures here. My guess is if he were here it would not take him long to understand the meaning of that old saying: You don't miss your 31 degrees until the well runs dry. Or something like that. Stay cool and may God bless. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stunning stuff, but it seems to have no end!

It’s a strange world after all. We have a president who cannot quit smoking himself but yesterday he signed into law the most restrictive anti-smoking bill ever devised. Last week our country faced some great challenges. Iran was turned upside down. North Korea continued to threaten our nation. The wars continued in Afghanistan and Iraq. Countless millions of our fellow Americans struggled to feed themselves and their families. Given the seriousness of these issues, what would you think the headline story was coming out of the week? During an interview our president first warned a housefly to bug off but when his warning went unheeded, he, with laser like precision, snatched and did away with the small critter, once and for all. I have not seen the video of his great moves against the fly but I understand it has been a huge hit on the internet. And, I don’t doubt it for one second. Here we are in the middle of our government usurping one right after another and the focal point of our media is how he is able to kill a fly in mid sentence. Oh, by the way, PETA, the animal protection folks are really saddened by his open and public disregard for the life of that tiny little fly. I’ve told you folks before, you cannot make this stuff up. It’s as if the people in the white jackets should be lining up as we all go off the deep end together! I confess that I couldn’t help myself given the material out there and that’s what is flying off my keyboard on this Tuesday morning, June 23, 2009.

We read these kinds of stories and while they may bring a brief smile, we have little time for levity when we think about the things going on in our country today. I read yesterday that business leaders are now saying all those jobs lost during the recession may not be coming back, even after things get back on track, or at least most of them. This is pretty sad news when you think how the $780 billion dollars was supposed to immediately create new jobs or at the very least slow down job losses. Thus far, the proof is that it has done neither and it sounds like it might never. In response, the administration came up with a mystical jobs created and/or saved statistic that no one can prove or disprove since it exists only in the Twilight Zone. Now we have learned that was the point all along. It turns out to be a rough approximation of a number that does not exist to begin with. What’s that old saying? Liars figure but figures don’t lie, that is unless they are fabricated from thin air.

The current executive branch includes dozens of Chicagoland political veterans and thus far they have shown they know how to use muscle to get things done. They continue to have their way. But the American people may yet still awake from their overdose of hope induced slumber. It’s one thing to saddle us all with debts that will take generations to pay, it’s all together another thing entirely when they use those very funds to take away our choices, our rights, and to fundamentally change the foundation of individual freedoms that has made this country great. Yeah, we might continue to see things happen in the short term purportedly in the name of saving our jobs, our economy, and our way of life, but one day soon a huge wake up call will be answered by the folks who get up every day and go out and get things done. They will see through the smoke and mirrors, the hypnotic speeches, and the strong-arm squeeze going on. The poll numbers are ever so slowly dawning some reflection that many folks are just now beginning to grasp what’s at stake. I can sense it already, folks are rubbing their eyes, paying attention, and are ready now to wake up and smell the coffee, and I say Amen to that! Have a great rest of the week and may God bless you all. Amen. …….More later.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just who is it that we seem to always be trying to impress?

Please remember my mom in prayer. She is having some minor surgery this morning and we are praying that it will go well. At age 85 any surgery is always a matter of concern but she is trusting God and so are we!

I watched a video of Jackie Mason, the Jewish comedian, and he was asked why he never patronized all the ritzy food establishments and why he didn’t hang out with the rich and famous, like most celebrities. The interviewer was puzzled because she said he was obviously famously rich but chose local delicatessens or other humble restaurants instead of the well-known ‘in-crowd’ places. Mr. Mason’s response was impressive. He said he was not interested in putting up a front or being seen as something he isn’t, especially from the inside. The basic truth was that he felt more comfortable around common folks and that’s why he went to where they showed up. He went where he enjoyed the food and the people. I’ve always enjoyed Jackie Mason’s self deprecating style of humor. He has become a strong commentator for conservative principles and recently has expressed great concern over the new administration’s treatment of Israel. And, in my opinion, he has valid reasons to be alarmed. His expression of not going with the celebrity flow, however, is what I am writing about on this Monday, June 22, 2009.

I well remember back when I worked for the big company and had a membership to a very old and prestigious business club. Every day I would see certain individuals who would show up to share lunch together. One frequent attendee was a billionaire owner of a major oil and exploration company. He could have eaten with anyone he chose from politicians to the most famous of people. However, he typically sat with some very elderly gentlemen who had previously been in the oil business. Many of these fellows came in wheel chairs or on walkers and he seemed always very genuinely at home in their presence. That impressed me. Some time ago I read about him and how he is spending his retirement years. He lives on the ocean and owns half of the city nearby but according to the article he can be found most mornings sharing coffee with a group of older fellows at a Kroger’s coffee bar. I’m still impressed.

While we may not feel the temptation to play the high roller game for fame’s sake like others, most of us do eventually deal with the issue of just who we really are in terms of where we go and in choosing those we desire to impress. I’ll never forget my wife’s parents coming to my downtown office one day. They were country before country was even thought about being cool. My wife had driven them down and parked in a nearby parking garage. They were like fish out of water as they toured my state of the art computer workplace located on the 22nd floor of a famous high rise, but I was so proud to have them there and honored to be able to host them. We later had lunch at a restaurant where I knew the folks who ran the place. They may have never eaten in a place like that but the staff went all out and they enjoyed it. I have thought many times about the great privilege I had in associating myself with these humble and sweet people who had done so much to influence my life. Jackie Mason said when it comes down to it, one has to answer the question about those they are trying to impress. Perceived rank, status, and the shallowness that often surrounds it will never equal good old-fashioned fellowship with those we truly care about. So there you have it. Another episode of my discombobulated randomized musings has come to a close but perhaps there’s a lesson buried in there somewhere for us all! Amen. ….More later.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thanking God for dad.

Today I want to pay tribute to my stepfather who has been of such great influence in my life and the lives of all our family. He already knows how much I respect and admire him. He is aware of how thankful I am for his long years of demonstrated devotion, love, and care for our mom. But as we think about Father’s Day I want to share my thoughts on this unsung hero who gets up every day and puts feet to what it means to be a servant of God and of others. Dad has had more than one career. He retired after years of serving our country in the U. S. Army. He retired again after serving years in the U. S. Civil Service. He eventually picked up a new role as an alderman for the little town where they live. This he has done for many years. That little town is blessed to have him as one of their leaders. Why? He helps oversee the running of the town and does so with a very critical eye to make sure the citizens are well served. Dad is the subject I have chosen for this Friday, June 19, 2009.

He would be the last to toot his own horn. He would not be one who could give a long dissertation on what it means to be a good husband, dad, friend, and servant. That would not be his way. Rather, he is one that gets up every day and goes about the doing of his life in a way that makes all of these things become obvious. His way is quiet and behind the scenes as a busy doer from early to late each day. That old saying comes to mind: Actions speak louder than words. This is a very appropriate assessment of how he operates his life. Duty and discipline are major components of his proven track record. In many ways his contributions to our family reminds me of my Grandfather McMillan. If you have read my blog for any length of time you know this is about as high of human recognition that I can express.

Dad would be one that Brother James writing in the first century could have pointed to when he by inspiration said these words: “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works’." (James 2:18) Therefore, on behalf of our family, thanks dad, for your faithfulness to our mom. Thanks also for your example of what it means to live out the reality of serving. And, thanks for being there in so many situations and circumstances that have faced our large and diverse family. You, sir, are a remarkable man and I thank God for you being our dad. I ask all my readers to pause and join me in saying a prayer of thanksgiving for Jose Chavez for being such a guiding light to us all. May God bless dads on their special day and may we all learn to follow those who speak great truth and wisdom by their deeds. Until we meet again, may God bless one and all. Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's all in a day of living.

We do live one day at a time and we never can be certain how it will go. All around us folks blur by as they hurry their way from one event to the next. We know what we know until we know something different and then we act, react, or continue on our way. This week we heard from my mom that she has a growth that needs to be removed and she’s not sure just how serious it might be. She will be having surgery next Monday. Our grandson Brady had his tonsils and adenoids out Tuesday morning and tubes put into his ears. He is doing well but dealing with a sore throat. Three of our grandchildren are at summer camp this week and we are praying their lives will be changed and enriched by the experience. One is on holiday in Mexico and we pray for her each day. Yesterday our nephew from Florida called to say hello. He lived with us for several months and just wanted to check in. This is Brother Milton’s son and I will have to tell you my heart skipped a beat when I heard his voice. Why? You just never know what may be the content of an unexpected phone call. No matter who we are we cannot escape the reality of life and this is the subject I have spinning in my agitator on this Thursday, June 18, 2009.

Faith in the providential care of our heavenly Father is our calling, yet, we cannot help but face each day knowing we will pretty much be working through issues as they come and go. What a blessing it is to rest in our faith even when that unexpected call does come or we have to make a surprise difficult decision. God must have had something very wonderful in mind when He created the human family because He most certainly knew that life would not be easy. We can glean much from the Apostle Paul’s inspired insight into that which not only awaits us later, but that which can to the extent that we live by our faith be experienced during our sojourn here: “…but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9) Far too many believers have given up on what He has for us here and find themselves waiting only for that which awaits us later.

The favorite old hymn comes to mind, The Garden, and the phrase from it that says: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” Being able to know the reality of sweet fellowship with God does not cause the phone to stop ringing with what may be a challenging development. It will not make pain, sorrow, and the concern we have for others evaporate. Truth tells us that being God’s own child is not only about having a reservation for the heavenly banquet but it’s actually just as much about living a life of fellowship and purpose as provided for in God’s plan. He has a life of significance for each of His own. No, it’s not necessarily one of worldly prestige or prominence but remember that widow in the Bible who gave her all even though it was hardly a noticeable amount. Jesus pronounced her gift to be more than all the rest put together. May we all take this thought as we get up and go forward knowing He is with us as we have to deal with all the ups, downs, and in-betweens that characterize our journey. Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The old gray guy is not what he used to be.

I recently uploaded a photo for my wife’s Facebook page. (It’s the one in the opening paragraph.) The photo itself generated quite a bit of attention. Many thought it neat because of the retro look we showed, although it’s important to note that at the time the photo was made it was not retro, it was in vogue! There’s no telling how much polyester is represented in the clothes in that picture. But here’s the rub. Many people pointed out the neat hairstyle worn by my lovely wife. Some commented on how cute the boys were. But when it came to me, the most frequent assessment was: “Man, have you ever changed!” Okay. I have a beautiful wife and she’s still beautiful today. My boys are really neat looking but now I have to answer for what in the world happened to me? It’s good that I feel so comfortable in my own skin because this barrage of critical acclaim could get to me, even on a Wednesday, June 17, 2009.

I’ve joked for years about being a high mileage vehicle. I’ve also said that I was built more for speed than comfort. And, at one time I had as a motto that I would never be worried about burn out because I always wanted to be known for having burned up in the pursuit of the life God has given to me. Now the sum total of all of these smart aleck remarks has made its voice clear: “I’m okay, you’re okay, but man, what ever happened to your appearance?” The good news is that, as you can tell, these types of comments tend not to bother me, …..bother me, …..bother me. At least I have given folks something to smile about! That photo was taken over thirty five years ago and after all is said and done, I’ve had a lot to deal with in my job(s), my health, my concerns, my sense of well being, the non-stop pursuit of excellence in all things, and, and, and, oh yeah, that head on collision back in the early 1980’s. There are probably many other reasonable excuses I could come up with but that should be enough for anyone to change their opinion and now say: “Man, you really look great for all that you have been through!”

Okay, enough already. We all look differently than we did way back then. The Bible has a completely different take on growing old than we do in our superficial, celebrity driven world. God says that the hoary head (gray or white hair/beard) should be a crown of honor and respect. (Leviticus 19:32) I’ve written today’s blog in jest and I have thoroughly enjoyed poking fun at myself, however, with Father’s Day approaching, it’s a good time to be thankful for those older dudes who cut a path for us with their love, care, and wisdom born out of their years of experience and age. The man Job in the Bible spoke about the time before all his troubles came whenever he was revered for his testimony and wisdom. He said that his reputation was such that no one could remain seated when he came into the room. I can actually remember a time in my growing up years when older people garnered the same type of respect. I give you permission to enjoy the photo and feel free to pile on because there’s not that much that hasn’t been said already. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen. ….More later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Could you please make it a little more out of focus?

Our nation's transfer to high definition digital television is now history and we are now officially living in a new age of clarity as we watch the mind numbing nonsense that comes over the air waves. I read an interesting article about how that people in the glamour business are now very concerned about the way their images are coming across in the new advanced media. It seems that many of the ‘beautiful’ people are very concerned about what the improved definition is doing in terms of showing off their age, wrinkles, and other blemishes that were previously not an issue. This is what I am chuckling about on this Tuesday, June 16, 2009. Get this. Some already have their agents working on clauses for their contracts that will require all their appearances to be shot with a camera slightly out of focus. Believe me I am not making this up. This was in the New York Times!

Let me see if I have this correct. We spent billions so that everyone can see all the details clearly on the screen but now some folks are up in arms because people can see all the details clearly. No where else but in America could this be how things work! I will say that when we upgraded our set to a large screen HDTV with high resolution it became obvious that you could tell who had not shaved before the newscast and we have noticed some flaws in folks that we thought were pretty much flawless. The article I read also said this new development will likely be a bonanza to the plastic surgeons and botox providers because tinsel town is scurrying around trying to deal with this new image threat.

Maybe the use of the out of focus camera is a good thing for us all. We should see everyone through the lens of love to the extent that the externals are not the most important thing we observe. Maybe this is the way it worked in the old country song that reported how that all the girls got prettier at closing time. Now that we have high definition we will perhaps soon be able to buy a blurring device for $19.95 or two of them if we call within the next thirty minutes. This way we can have all the benefits of the new technology without having to be overly concerned about whether the news person has spinach on their tooth or a really bad but previously unnoticed dental problem. Who would have ever thought that high definition reality in living color would create such a firestorm? But it has and it will continue to do so and you and I will get to enjoy all the ruckus. I do remember my wife saying how that this person or that person we had been seeing for years now looks so much older on the new set. The more we go forward it is the more we regress or something like that. Hey, here’s to you being able to see clearly the things that really matter in life and in doing so let’s thank God for all He has given to us and do with it our best to serve Him and others. Amen. …More later.

Monday, June 15, 2009

People really are looking for the 'real deal'!

What the world needs now is love sweet love is what the song says but I rather think that the world actually needs more people who are genuine in the faith they espouse and in the life they live. I found myself trying to think through my nearly sixty-three years here on the planet to identify individuals who have consistently reflected God first in their life, and then lived out that commitment as they made their way each day. I would never hold anyone to a standard of perfection for that would not only be totally ignorant but also grossly unfair since we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans Chapter 3.) However, on balance, I tried to call up a recollection of those I’ve known who really did reflect God first as the truth in their life and as their way of living. Simply put, I tried to think of those who would easily have as a consensus inscription on their tombstone: Lover of God first and lover of others as God has directed. This is the challenge that has my mind sizzling like a steak on a super hot grill on this Monday, June 15, 2009.

It would not surprise anyone that coming up with names that fit this category is not that easy. Sure, I could allow my emotional attachments to kick in and throw in some folks that are near and dear to me. And, there are those in my family that would squeeze into this frame of reference but I am going to exclude them because of knowing my own bias when thinking of them. This leads me to consider those I have known outside of my family that I have considered to be the ‘real deal’. One of the first names that popped into my mind is a former pastor of ours from back in the early 1970’s. We know him and his family. We still know him and his family today. He is now in his mid seventies, has had an on and off again battle with cancer for years, but he is still knocking doors and winning people to Christ. Has he always done everything right? No. Have all of his children always done everything right? No. Has he and his dear wife always maintained a testimony for their devotion to God first and their love for others as demonstrated by a total life long commitment to seeing men, women, boys and girls come to know Christ? YES! We thank God for Brother Jess Hill and his dear wife Lorna and their influence on our lives.

Living in a way that shows a person is 100% sold out to God is perhaps the greatest challenge any of us can face. I intentionally set the mark high and while many names have flown in and out on my radar screen, I will leave you with just one more and then close down this mentally tiring exercise. My dear brother in Christ and minister to the inner city, Bro. Kim Williams is certainly qualified for this designation. He pastors the mission work where we do the children’s Bible club. Bro. Kim is a special man. He has a special family and while he too would be the first to admit his failings, he, perhaps more than any other person I’ve known, tries to do every part of his life as God would have him to. In many ways being around him is very convicting while at the same time it’s thrilling to know someone like him. The Bible tells us the people were afraid when they saw Moses whose face actually glowed from having been with God. (Exodus Chapter 34 and 2 Corinthians Chapter 3.) I will tell you, you do know when you are with Bro. Kim that you are in the presence of a man of God and it is a remarkable experience. Has he accomplished great things in his ministry? Most would say no. Has he always been faithful as best he knows how in following God and doing his best to minister to some of the most needy people in our community? YES! Well, I came up with two and they both are ministers of the Gospel. I know there are others but right now I have a headache so I am going to take two aspirin and get back to you at our next appointed time. Just joking about the aspirin but may God give us all the desire to have a life testimony that honors him and touches others. Amen. …..More later.

Friday, June 12, 2009

There's no better way to start your day!

I’ve mentioned before that we have several older guys still working here in our company. One who works on a part time basis will be celebrating his 72nd birthday soon. On the days that he works he comes in early and he and I share a few minutes of coffee and communication before he has to punch in. We greatly enjoy our times together. We are brothers in Christ and that is the foundation of our fellowship but we cover just about every subject one might conjure up. It is always a good way to start my day and that’s what I am rehearsing with you on this Friday, June 12, 2009. He was here yesterday and we had a great time of swapping stories and giving testimony to the God who has blessed us so much.

He opened yesterday with a comment about some blackberries he had purchased at the farmer’s market they patronize. This led to a discussion about how wonderful blackberries are. He loves them on his cereal or ice cream. This reminded me of the blackberry cobblers I grew up enjoying. Then he told me about how he and his wife had eaten at a small cafĂ© that featured home cooked meals. He had the chicken and dumplings along with squash and okra with tomatoes. This led to a forth and back ‘can you top this’ walk down the food memory lane of our lives. Pretty soon we were talking about grandmothers and how their cooking seemed always to reflect their hearts. We enjoyed savoring baked sweet potatoes on a cold day busted open and filled up with real butter. We talked about walking through the back door of the kitchen and being knocked down by the wonderful aromas that filled the room. We agreed that even as kids we would sit down to these culinary delights and consider ourselves to be blessed beyond measure. Many of these menu items that caused us to lick our lips would not be that highly sought after today but my how special it is to remember when love was obvious in the contents of an old black skillet.

We also hit a lick or two on politics and religion, talked about family and even some about the work we are involved in. It was good old-fashioned fellowship over a cup of coffee. Oh yeah, coffee is one of our most favorite topics because he and his wife enjoy it and so do I. I recently got them to try some Community coffee and they are considering whether to make it their regular or not. I had previously put them onto the 8 O’clock coffee brand since it was proclaimed as the number one coffee in blind tests conducted by Consumer Reports. They tried it and fell in love with it. Now they are conflicted between it and the Community. I told him that my attachment to Community is a combination of it being associated with my folks over in Louisiana and the great flavor it provides. He laughs when he says that because of me they ended their twenty plus years of being devoted Folgers drinkers. You can tell our conversations do have consequences! We didn’t solve any great issues of the day. We were not able to change the political landscape we find ourselves in. But as we part each time we always wish each other to have a ‘blessed’ day. Now that, my friend, is a good way to get a day started. May God bless us all as we usher in our Saturday and prepare for Lord’s Day Sunday. Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I would do a rain dance but I never learned to dance and wouldn't even know how to get started.

We are not used to high water bills but we are getting them now. Having gone to the expense of replanting our front yard with new sod and grass, it’s hard not to do anything we can to keep it alive. Up until recently we have been so blessed with sporadic rain showers since having it installed but now we are in one of those ten plus days of extreme heat with little or no rain in sight. I’m talking hot weather on this Thursday, June 11, 2009. We went from some mid fifty-degree lows week before last to this stretch of blistering mid ninety-degree highs and it’s still so early in the season. I hate to think we will be pouring out water like we are doing now for the next three months! I know this is a minor issue compared to the real world problems that people face each day but it just happens to be one of the many occupying our time and attention at this time.

Our dear neighbor who passed away several years ago used to tell me not to worry too much about the yard since no cows were going unfed because of it turning brown. This was excellent advice, however, it was always hard to take him seriously since his yard was always green. It’s like President Obama’s recent comments on controlling spending and how we need to be very careful with the deficits we are running up. One person likened his comments to the recovering alcoholic who said he had sworn off everything except for beer, wine, and hard liquor. I don’t know where that came from but it elbowed its way into this paragraph so I suppose it can stay. I would guess the song would not have been as colorful had it said, ‘The brown, brown grass of home.’

Many have observed that having put in the new front yard would have been an excellent time to have had an automatic sprinkler system installed. That’s not only astute, it’s also very much on track and I should have also bought stock in Microsoft when it was a start up. Had I put in that automatic system we would miss out on all the wailing and gnashing we do in dragging water hoses and sprinklers from one spot to the next while fighting the wasps, ants, and other unidentified flying objects. I love to see my wife set up the sprinkler, then turn loose of the hose and run for dear life. I suppose those few drops of water could really be dangerous but perhaps not as much as a sprained ankle or broken foot. I do the same thing. I guess it’s an unwritten law that while we have to get the water on the grass we don’t want any of it on ourselves. When it comes down to it we live in our own version of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ and that helps us to deal with things like an early heat wave. I’ve been listening to some good heavy rain shower sounds on the internet early each morning to help keep my hopes up. I love those nature sounds but would rather hear them in person. I do pray that all is well with you and yours and that God will bless as we continue the journey He has given to us. Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Upside down thinking does not always honor God or reflect His ways.

Some folks think because I now carry the white hair that I would immediately be more prone to favor respect for those who show their many miles along with their age and wisdom. While there may be some taint of this in my viewpoints today, I can prove my long history of doing my best to see the aged as God does, with respect and honor as detailed in the template for life found in His Holy Word, given for us to know how we should conduct ourselves while passing through to our heavenly home. That’s right. Respect and honor should be the standard shown as a natural part of how we view those older folks in our homes, our families, our Churches, and in our everyday contacts in life. I’m chewing on this or perhaps gnawing is a better metaphor for today’s blog on this Wednesday, June 10, 2009. If there is anything that gets me stirred up quickly, it is the neglect, disrespect, and outright marginalization of the elderly that characterizes our world today.

We live in a society here in this country and throughout the world that champions youth and its vitality, while thriving on its promise and potential. While there is nothing wrong with emphasizing the development of talent, it is when we lose our grasp on seeing age in the context of revealed truth from God that we end up, even as believers, operating in the same way the world does. When Solomon passed the torch to Rehoboam as his successor to Israel’s throne he also handed him a mess of trouble. Because of Solomon’s extravagance the nation was taxed beyond any proportionality and when Solomon died representatives from the people came to Rehoboam and begged him to institute reforms that would lesson the burden on families. Rehoboam called in the elders of the nation, the older men who had wisdom and insight. They recommended that he immediately respond favorably to the pleas for relief. Rehoboam then called in his running buddies who were young like him and asked for their advice. They advised him to make things tougher than ever on the people. He rejected the wise advice of the elders and agreed with his cronies. This resulted in a civil war that saw his kingdom divided and decimated. (1st Kings 12:1-24, 14:21-31; 2nd Chronicles Chapters 10–12)

The world we live in doesn’t have to worry about this type of situation. Why? We no longer even bother to ask the older folks what they think about anything. They are, for the most part, if recognized at all, condescended to with faint words of empty praise while viewed mostly as being of little consequence in the making of decisions. Sad? More than that, it is the total opposite of the directions God has given in His Word. Sadder still is how that most of the older ones now see themselves as no longer counting whether in the general society at large or even in our Churches. It is my observation that America is paying for this lack of respect and our Churches are too. The model we are following is not the model God has given to us. It may be called by fancy names like upside down thinking, out of the box, and all the other catchy phrases that might be used, but in the end when we follow any model that fails to reflect thus says the word of the Lord, we do so at our own peril. Okay, I think I have said enough. How do you like some ice-cold water in the face to get you up and going? Let’s go out and win one for the white hairs! Amen. ….More later.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is anyone actually paying attention?

For those who would rather not hear another round of personal political analysis, you are advised to disregard today’s blog or skim over it with the sound turned off. Just joking about the sound but there are many folks who feel they get plenty of free political advice without a bloviating blogger like myself piling it on. Therefore, those who fall into that ‘Enough already!’ category can be excused while the rest of us try and make sense out of what is happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is the minefield of my mind that is being tiptoed through on this Tuesday, June 9, 2009. Let me once again point out the avalanche of positive coverage our new President is receiving. It's a love fest. It is stunning. It is also scary because the standard for press coverage used to be getting past the spin in the pursuit of the reality of whatever it is that’s going on. (In short, the free press is supposed to be dedicated to uncovering the truth or facts.)

The current reality has turned the mainstream press into operatives on behalf of this new administration. I had thought that this love affair, marriage, and honeymoon would run its course but as of now it seems to be sailing full speed ahead. Recently the unemployment numbers rose but with fewer having lost their jobs in the previous reporting period. One would have thought that our President had cause for a victory parade in winning the economic war we find ourselves in. Unemployment was up (9.4%) but yet they crowed in how this administration was making such great progress. What happened to President George W. Bush being tarred and feathered when the unemployment number rose but was several points less than this recently reported historic high? Back then we heard nothing but an incessant drumbeat played up and reported on how hopeless people were and somehow the press came up with literally hundreds of thousands who were supposedly not even counted. The message conveyed was that under President Bush it was much worse than the numbers proved. Some experts estimate that because of the dire conditions we currently face the number of the under or uncounted the press were previously so eager to find are most likely much higher but you would be hard pressed to find anything written about it. There was even one report last week from California that talked about how wonderful it was for some that they had become unemployed, they even had added an ‘f’ and referred to their status as being fun-employed. The message: Under Bush, being unemployed was hopeless; Under Obama, being unemployed is happy.

In the previous administration the news writers presented us with the theme of a President Bush who didn’t really care about common, ordinary people. Now it is all about carrying the water for folks who demand a positive spin on every aspect of their activities. Sadly, most Americans continue to soak up this fabricated and commercialized example of story telling and fail to appreciate the reality of a regime dedicated to ushering in socialism as a way of life in these United States. Every once in a while a reporter courageously asks an unpleasant question only to be harshly condemned and quite frankly threatened with isolation and even sadder, the rest of the press world cooperates with the administration in the carrying out of this punishment process. It’s one thing for the lemmings to follow their inherited instinctive trait of going off the cliff for no good reason, it’s a much different story for us to willingly choose to do the same thing. May God help us is my prayer! Amen. …..More later.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Two boulders, one for each eye!

My wife returned from her brief vacation last Friday and now things seem to be back where they are supposed to be. We are back in our places and playing those silly games like: Who's the most forgetful. I can't remember us being able to play this game when we were younger but it seems to be one that we both get better and better at as we age. Pretty soon we will need to play a game involving how many times we set and unset the security system as we gather the things we need piece by piece for whatever reason we are leaving the house. Fortunately, at this stage we can both still laugh about it but that doesn't mean that we are unaware how this eventually could get out of hand. This is what popped into my mind this morning and I grabbed it and held onto it before it got away from me and therefore it is what I am serving up on this early moonlit morning on this Monday, June 8, 2009. I suppose when she forgets something it is just her being forgetful. When I forget something it has to be the stress I am under, or the distractions that dog my steps, or perhaps other unknown factors because she is the one who is forgetful, not me!

Maybe I forgot to remember that I am just as prone to be forgetful as the next person. However, we as individuals typically don't see ourselves in the same way that we see others. Jesus made that humorous observation about the fellow who couldn't clearly see the tiny splinter in the other fellow's eye because of the huge boulder sticking out of his own. The problem was how the man would not look at his own failings (even though they were huge) because he was too focused on the other person and what small incidental failing he might discover in them. (Matthew Chapter 7) Ouch! Does that sound familiar? It does to me especially where I live. Jesus said the guy with the boulder in his eye should spend time working on his own glaring issues before dissecting the other person's problems. I will tell you by experience that fault finding can become habit forming and it often starts almost incidentally in passing as a fleeting funny observation that can become problematic.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to laugh at our own times of tripping ourselves up or in sharing in the same in our mate or others we are close to. The problem comes whenever we see everyone else's missteps but never focus on our own. I've also noticed how that negativism can become entrenched in our way of seeing life often resulting from a bitterness in the way we evaluate others. I need much work in this area and I suggest many of us most likely do, that is, if we would admit it. Having a respectful and wholesome view of others does not mean we would agree with everyone in their way of living or in their way of seeing things. We can never compromise what we know in our hearts to be right, however, everything should be done from an understanding of our own failings and in love for others. I've been around folks who are very unpleasant because of their caustic personalities which feeds on their constant finding fault and their putting down of others. My wife and I used to have some friends that were prone to this type of feeding frenzy and we would often share a meal together. Over time we began to notice how contagious their negative approach was and we agreed to limit our exposure because of not wanting to become like them. When I was a kid I heard my grandmother often say that we should not say anything about someone if we couldn't say something good. While that may not be a universal law it is a reasonable place to remind us all of the power of our thoughts, words, and way of assessing other folks. I do pray that you and yours will have a great rest of the week. Amen. ......More later.