Monday, January 31, 2011

Modern day martyr very close to home.

Good morning. It is Monday, January 31, 2011 and we are thankful to be up and going as we begin a brand new day and a brand new work week. When we think of Christian martyrs we often have in mind those burned at the stake for their faith or someone who was killed in deepest darkest Africa. Last week we learned the heart breaking, gut wrenching, sad, but also uplifting testimony of a dear lady killed just 70 miles south of the U. S. border with Mexico. Sam and Nancy Davis have spent the past thirty years bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Mexican masses with a special emphasis on helping to plant new Churches. Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. The drug cartels rule and reign in some areas and they are well funded, well armed, and often well connected within the political world. Last week these dear people were going about their business when they were attacked by those who wanted to take away from them their pickup truck. Nancy was shot in the head. Sam was finally able to evade and he survived. Those who know these people say they were well aware of the dangers and they had experienced close calls before but their calling was first in their lives. My response when I heard about this was one of tearful and respectful sadness for these wonderful saints along with some fury about those who would do such a sickening deed. May God bless the memory of this dear lady and may God bring justice to those who took her life. The attacks against our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are on the increase. Sadly, many of the countries we pour our tax dollars into in the form of foreign aid are the worst offenders. Pray for those like the Davis' who are willing to risk their lives for the cause of Christ as they serve as role models for us who are also called to share our faith with others.

I didn't mean to start our day off with a downer but I've had these folks on my mind for over a week and when it keeps coming up, I typically know I need to share. In my mind's eye I see this lady in the presence of the Lord she served as He welcomed her home. No doubt there were many brown skinned believers who were there to greet her, with many more yet to arrive home. That's why the home going of any person of faith is never the end of the story. In many respects, it's only the beginning for those who receive the reward that comes from them having placed their faith in God's provision, that being the payment for sin made by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We so often talk about heaven as if it is a way out there, somewhere, some day kind of mystic vision. It is, for all those who are believers, a very real and living part of our day by day goings and comings. It's promotion day. It's reunion time. It's beyond anything we might be able to comprehend but it is ours to apprehend by faith. Our faith confirmed by God through His Spirit makes this, not a leap into the dark, but rather, it is the realization of the guaranteed hope we have in our Great God. Amen.

I will tell you that I do get stirred up when something like this tragic murder occurs. The Bible tells us that the wrath of man does not accomplish the will of God, therefore, I have to be reminded that it is okay to be angry but not in a way that it becomes sinful. This illegal drug trade is a killer, not just in this case, but many of our children, our family, our fellow citizens, are destroyed each and every year as a result. The politicians say there would be no trade unless there was a demand and we here in the states are working the demand side. There's truth to this but there's also those who are finding ways to hook new customers every day. Billions of dollars are spent every year by our government on the so-called war on drugs but as the story unfolds, little is accomplished. As I thought about this dear lady and her testimony, my anger turned to praise. This lady made all the news channels and many of the reports of her death were accompanied by glimpses into her testimony for her Lord. Even in the big newspaper her son was quoted in talking about her love for God and the Mexican people. Therefore, even as we call it a tragedy God used it as a triumph in reminding the world of Him and His love through people on behalf of reaching them so that they might live with Him forever. Thank God for this sweet lady's testimony and may we all be encouraged to live in a way that brings honor to His name when we exit our life here. Amen.                .....More later.

Friday, January 28, 2011

One club I never wanted to join.

Hello Friday and welcome to the clubhouse here on this January 28, 2011. What club am I talking about? The Centers for Disease Control just announced their recent statistics regarding diabetes in our country. Some 26 million of us are full fledged members of the club with an astounding 79 million more who are very close to crossing over the threshold. The US population clock puts us at around 312 million. You add up us club members and those borderline folks and you end up with nearly one third of our citizenry exposed. No wonder it is being called an epidemic. We all are aware of how sad it is for our younger ones to deal with this disease, especially Type 1. The good news is how that less than 225,000 who are twenty years old and younger are having to deal with it each day. I will confess that while I do work on mine, it is an ever present challenge. Reading all the things that are more likely to happen to folks with diabetes is a very sobering experience. More strokes, higher rates of kidney damage, blindness, and many other ailments have much higher occurences in diabetics. No. It's not a pretty picture but the good news is that each club member can do something about it. My grandfather was a very disciplined person. We used to have a number of folks in our family at any given time who were chasing some type of new diet program. He always advised that the best way was the most simple way, push away from the table. I can imagine him telling me that since I know what's best in order to manage my disease and get it under control: Then why not just do it? I would likely tell him I didn't intend not to do the right things to which he would ask: What did you intend to do? He had a very simple and straight forward way with words and I feel privileged to have been able to have been his student.

Facebook friending is a big deal. This is where a Facebook user requests someone to make them their friend and when they do they become connected and share each others postings. This past week two cousins up in New York became embroiled in a fight over a fellow they both liked. It seems the fellow added one cousin as a friend on Facebook but did not add the other.  The girls were at a party and began to argue about this guy. They carried it outside where they scuffled. Finally, one of the cousins climbed in her mini van and ran down the other cousin, hitting her twice and causing serious bodily harm. Very sad. Most of us are aware there's even been some suicides prompted by a Facebook posting that embarrassed and humiliated the one who took their own life. This shows the inherent power in instant communications and also the danger. I saw a Facebook page the other day of a distant in-law who had plastered for all to see both the name of the place where he worked along with how much he hated it. He may be banking on his employer never seeing that posting but how absolutely foolish it is to advertise something like that. It does serve as a reminder that we all have to think seriously about how we conduct ourselves in the electronic age. I've heard far too many folks who say they were messing around and accidentally hit the send button. Too late to do anything because once it's gone, it will arrive at its destination almost instantaneously. Kind of scary if you ask me but it is good to know both the positive potential of being able to share and stay in touch, as well as the potential heartache from the careless use of such a powerful tool.

We are pretty gullible, don't you agree? We are told there are billions of stars and we believe it but we will not accept that the paint really is wet without touching it to see. And, we do have questions. How did the fool and his money ever get together to begin with? I wonder how the deer learned to cross at the place of that yellow sign? If Jimmy really does crack corn and no one cares, why then is there a stupid song about him? If you are sending someone some Styrofoam, what do you pack it in? If pro and con are opposites, wouldn't the opposite of progress be congress? (Sorry, but I couldn't resist.) If a kid refused to take a nap during nap time, would it be a case of resisting a rest? If laughter is truly the best medicine, why do people often say they nearly died laughing? If one is cheated by the Better Business Bureau, who do they complain to? Finally, if a parsley farmer is sued and he loses, can they garnish his wages? I know. I know. They are all pretty lame but perhaps just one of them caused a slight upward turn of your lips on their way to a smile. If so, that's a good thing as we anticipate our Saturday and upcoming Lord's Day Sunday. If you aren't a part of a local fellowship who meet each week to worship God and learn more about His truths, you need to seek one out, and try it because doing so will help to make sense out of the questions we deal with every day. Until next time, I do pray that God will take a liking to you and yours. Amen.                ..... More later.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My two cents on the SOTU address.

It is Thursday, January 27, 2011 and I'm still here banging away on my keyboard, hoping that whatever ends up hitting the electronic page has a modicum of credibility. We can always hope. I know you didn't ask but I have talked with so many folks who didn't even bother to watch the State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening. Therefore, I wanted to give you my take. I listened to President Obama's State of the Union address. I listened to the official Republican response. I listened to the unofficial Republican Tea Party response. I listened to the pundits reflecting their own points of view. The speech itself was all over the map in promising control over spending while proposing all kinds of spending. It was not a rousing speech. It was not an exciting speech. There was a flatness about the delivery and the reception. There were plenty of applause lines but they seemed about as sincere as a laugh track used on a TV sitcom. For those who built up the expectations of this being a huge home run opportunity for the President, I would say he may have gotten to first base only. It was one of those that you come away saying there just wasn't any 'there' there. Even those who fanatically support any and all things related to the President had trouble promoting this as a moment of great impact to those listening. He did cleverly work into his speech many of the ideas being pursued by the Republican House but only in an almost condescending tone. Bottom line: When you attempt to have something for everyone, you typically end up having very little for anyone. I didn't see any game changers, therefore, I continue my prediction that his reelection will be tied directly to how well the economy does over the next two years. If it rebounds then he will most likely serve another term. If unemployment remains high and folks continue to struggle, he could face a formidable challenge, although I haven't really seen any challengers yet that knock my socks off . That's my recliner chair analysis and if you print it out and put it with a couple of dollars you might be able to purchase a small cup of coffee, somewhere.

The theme of the President's speech was about winning the future. Some believe this will be a huge emphasis in his reelection campaign. However, some dude owns the rights to that phrase out on the internet. He is a conservative that has registered "Win the future" for his website and connecting entities. That might prove problematic if the President uses that theme and someone Googles it and lands on this conservative guy's website, bingo, I love it when a plan comes together. Don't you? But we all have times when our plans go awry. It's like that old saying about how you knew you were in trouble when your mom yelled at you using your full name, first, middle, and last. We are studying the life of Joseph from the Bible in our Pastor's Sunday evening class. Last week we covered his restoration that saw him promoted from the prison to the palace. The Pharaoh appointed Joseph as Prime Minister over all of Egypt, second only to himself. I shared with the class about my picturing of an incident that wasn't included in the text. Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officers, perhaps responsible for the secret service including protection of the ruler himself, was likely there when all of this happened to Joseph. You will recall that Joseph first served in Potiphar's house as a slave and was very successful until Potiphar's wife falsely accused him of an attempted sexual assault. I am not attempting to add to The Scriptures but I've always believed it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall when Potiphar arrived home that evening.

Potiphar's wife: "Greetings husband, any resolution to the king's rage over these strange dreams?" Potiphar: "Yes there has been a resolution but you will not believe what has happened today." Wife: "Really? You look almost pale, what in the world could it be?" Potiphar: "You remember that plot I uncovered that implicated the baker and the butler but since we could'nt be sure, I had them both thrown into prison?" Wife: "Sure, we used to dine with their families." Potiphar: "Well, it seems that while they were in the prison they made contact with a prisoner who was able to reveal to them the meaning of some dreams they had. It turned out exactly like he told them. The butler was restored to his position and the baker was executed." Wife: "I remember it well. It caused all of Pharaoh's court to be on edge." Potiphar: "That prisoner was sent for today to see if he could interpret the dreams of our king." Wife: "Well, was he able to or not?" Potiphar: "He was not only able to do so in great detail but he also laid out a plan of how to deal with the upcoming famine the dreams foretold." Wife: "That's a good thing Potiphar, why are you looking so anxious?" Potiphar: "Wife, I have something to tell you. That prisoner has now been given Pharaoh's signet ring and he has been made second in command over all Egypt. That prisoner is none other than Joseph, the Hebrew, who used to manage our affairs." Potiphar's wife was stunned. She looked like she had seen a ghost. Finally she spoke: "Potiphar, you remember that invitation for me to visit my cousin and how I told her I never would because it is in that forsaken place on the other side of the dessert? I have been feeling bad about the way I spoke of her home and I believe I should go there immediately and make it up to her." Potiphar: "Funny, but I was thinking exactly the same thing!" Okay. It's not in the text so don't go quoting me on it. It would have been interesting to see how that played out. Now you go out there today and with God's help, make the best of it, and may He bless you as you go. Amen.                   ......More later.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blue skies, nothing but blue skies, or at least, that's what they are promising!

It's Wednesday, January 26, 2011 and it's crisp, cool, (cold to some), and predicted to be a postcard picture day filled with sunshine. We look forward to this based on what the weather forecasters tell us. They could be wrong because around these parts they often are, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and go ahead and look forward to a beautiful day. I used to know a fellow who never looked forward to anything, saying that way he would never be disappointed. The sad thing about doing life that way is that you end up being pretty pathetic. He used to carry a black cloud around with him everywhere he went. I was associated with him for over twenty years and I can tell you without any hesitation, that's no way to live, period, end of story. As he went about his daily life I think his pessimism helped bring about the bad results he was always anticipating. It was him against the world and while I could visit with him and we often ate lunch together, folks used to joke about how dangerous it might be just sitting next to him, or walking beside him on the sidewalk. He called himself a realist but most people thought of him as being pathetically sad. We all have times whenever we dwell on the negative. And, for many there's a lot of negatives to dwell on. However, as believers, we are told that we are more than conquerors in Christ and because of this we can face each day with a spirit of anticipation and hope. But just to be sure I might want to keep an umbrella close by, that is, if I had one, but I don't, but I know where one is, if I need it, therefore, I really don't even need to worry about it. Right? I'm okay now. See what I mean?

The other evening I picked up my diabetic testing supplies from the pharmacy. The prescription was written for a 100 day supply. The insurance rejected the coverage because they only dole out funds on a 30 day prescription basis. I paid for it but called the insurance company to ask about this situation. Here's the interesting part. They only cover prescribed medications written 30 days at a time but with my copay I actually would end up paying more with the insurance coverage than without it. I then went to the web and found the exact same supplies available through a trusted source for $30 less than I paid for the same amount, and it featured free shipping. The changes that took place in our insurance coverage the first of this month were done supposedly because of the anticipated impact from the health care law being phased in. In our situation, our rates went up significantly, and our coverages went down. That, by the way, is not a great combination. Here's what I want to say about all of this. Everyone needs to be a good shopper even when it comes to our medical care. It's not intuitive for us to think that a prescription covered by insurance actually works out to be higher than if you purchased it elsewhere. But, that my friend, is the brave new world we are facing. And, just think about it, I will soon be adding Medicare to the mix, therefore, those people waiting behind me in line at the pharmacy, well, they might as well bring a stool because I might just be up there for a while.

I guess you've heard about the law firm going after Taco Bell because they believe their ads saying they serve beef are false and misleading. That's brought back that wonderful slogan from the Wendy's commercials where the little old lady complains: "Where's the beef?" I've even seen some stories featuring the late famous Chihuahua as if he could shed some light on the question. Of course the dog wasn't really a he, her name was Gidget. Maybe Taco Bell does have some splaining to do! I sent my mom a card with some Christmas photos on it and it took two weeks for her to receive it. It usually takes no more than a couple of days. Maybe it somehow got routed up to that mail truck in St. Louis that had its back door come open and scattered letters and packages for more than 70 miles. I suppose they call it snail mail for a reason. I looked at the list of top blogs and didn't see mine there. The number one position was occupied by a blog that had 28,000,000 visitors on average who visit their site each month. That pretty well helps further explain that old metaphor: Big fish in little pond; Little fish in big pond. The good news is that I do receive feedback from a number of my readers and often they say they are blessed as a result. Okay. That big blog with the 28 million visitors, it mostly peddles gossip and dirty politics. I just betcha they don't get any comments about how God ministered to one of their readers through a verse or story shared on their blog. I'll take that any day! May God bless and thanks for hanging in there each day. Amen.           ......More later.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fitness, Coldness, Football, and Political Foolishness!

Hello Tuesday people it's January 25, 2011, and I bid you welcome to another episode of You Were There but You're Not Willing to Admit it. Jack LaLanne is dead. Finally. Okay, don't go getting all riled up because I am only joking. He was 96 and still pumping iron right up to the end. Give me a break already. I can remember seeing him on the black and white small screen way back in the day. Just watching him used to make me want to pour a bag of salted peanuts into my RC Cola. Joking again, but just so you know, that treat mixture was a staple for us growing up. He is credited with bringing fitness out of the gym and into people's homes. And, you have to give the dude credit. He was a walking testimony of what living a fit life can do for you. Of course for those who favor couches and potatoes, he most likely will not be missed. I thought this one quote from the AP story pretty much summed up his life: "At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco — handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor." Handcuffed, shackled, and towing a boat? I wonder if they still have some of those juicers for sale? I also noticed that Neil Diamond turned 70 yesterday. Is it just me, or does anyone else out there remember him showing up with all those hits as a teeny bopper?  All I can say is to agree with Snuffy Smith from the funny papers, "Time's a wastin!" And, it is getting away from us all.

I read where they are expecting up to 50 degree below zero temps in parts of Maine this week. I watched a clip from Minnesota where the guy was throwing boiling water off his balcony and it was turning to ice and snow before it hit the ground. Having seen what really cold weather can be, I think I will be whistling Happy Days Are Here Again next time I have to wrap my pipes, how about you? It's hard to fathom just how cold these types of temps are. I remember being in Chicago back in the mid 1990's and it was a few degrees below zero there and it caused all kinds of problems. Fifty degrees below zero with 12 inches of snow and a 15 to 20 mph wind? We are talking polar bear arctic stuff here folks. I caught some of the football games Sunday and they were both played in very cold weather. Let me see if this is how one might want to fill in their day? Bundle up and get ready to barely be able to stand the cold and then get run over by a 300 pound lineman! Hello crunched bones! The games were interesting at times but overall they were not that exciting to me, perhaps because I really didn't have a dog in those hunts. My wife rarely ever watches any football but she is for anybody who plays against Pittsburgh. I reckon it goes back to those famous Steeler and Oiler battles way back when and perhaps that AFC Championship game that Houston lost out on a Superbowl appearance due to a bad call in Pittsburgh. I recommend that she move from grudge to neutral since surely the statue of limitations have run out by now. One would think!

The President will make his state of the union speech tonight. They tell us he will basically redefine himself in preparation for his 2012 run for another term. He is prepared to now play the role of one who desires to unite instead of divide. He will use the tragedy out in Tucson to make points about having a more civil and respectful discourse going forward. It will be a transformation of sorts. From the fire breathing left leaning policies that defined his first two years in office to a middle of the road centrist position just in time for the election. I actually prefer the President to stand up for what he believes in, but getting elected, some say at any cost, is now front and center for him and his advisers. For two years he belittled business, especially big business, every time he spoke. Now he wants to partner with them to help create jobs. This last election that saw the House retaken by the Republicans along with major Republican gains in the Senate did change the landscape some. How is all this viewed by the folks back home? Get the economy going again and we will more or less forget about everything else. At least that is what he is hoping and I rather think he is right. The economy most likely will do more for itself than what happens in Washington, however, he will get the credit if it improves, therefore, my prediction is that if the economy recovers, his election is pretty much a given. I know that isn't good news to many of my readers but that's the way I see it from that very personal viewing stand, actually called The View From Here. Have a great day and remember in the end, it's all in His very capable hands. Amen.             ......More later.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The good news: We're in this thing together!

Good Monday morning to one and all and welcome to another week of tiptoeing through the maize of life which is a privilege here on this 24th day of January, 2011. I know some days don't feel much like a privilege but as Granny Mac used to always remind us, you almost always can find someone worse off than yourself. I'm not saying we should seek others worse off so that we can feel better about ourselves, it's just good to know that many times we are not dealing with stuff that others haven't dealt with themselves. In other words, we don't have to sing that old 'why is everyone picking on me?' song every day. There's a passage that tells us that most of what we all deal with day in and day out is pretty much common to us all. (See 1st Corinthians Chapter 10) It's called the human experience. Speaking from Romans 15, our pastor said yesterday that within our family of believers there are folks in all types of situations. Some are dealing with illness, family challenges, job stresses, economic issues, while others are on top of their game right now. Still others are more or less in the middle, just rocking along. This is the fabric of life and within our community of faith we are to dole out help as we can and we are to receive help when we are in need. The doling out is much easier than the receiving is what I have found in my experience. He also said for those who are not under the gun at the current time, hang on, it is subject to change in a heartbeat. His message was about how God has designed His family to be equipped to minister to each other as needed. For us to be able and not help is a failure to use the resources God has given. For us to need help but not share that need is a failure to access the resources God has provided. Very powerful and very timely for us all. Is that a call I hear ringing? Could it be God? Maybe I should take it.

I suppose that sermon was of particular importance to me because one of the things I am working on in this new year is in being a better member of my local family made up of the believers who are a part of our assembly. Yes. I am very active in the work and ministry of our local fellowship but there is a difference between working and in exhibiting the level of love, compassion, and caring that God has ordained for His people. The illustration given by the Apostle Paul is very striking. He, by inspiration, gave us the word picture in saying we should be so much in tune with each other that when one hurts within the body, the whole body feels the pain. (1st Corinthians 12) That sounds hard. That's because it is. It actually sounds next to impossible. That's because from a human perspective, it is practically impossible. However, that chapter is where the Apostle shared how that it was God's Spirit that provided enabling within the local body, therefore, we know that with His enabling we can. Knowing that doesn't make it a slam dunk because we still have to do battle each and every day with the enemy. And, I'm not only talking about that 'the devil made me not do it' fellow. How about the number one reason most don't yield to this enabling power, it's that old me, myself, and I that really messes things up. Okay, that's enough of my version of true confessions for one day and if I keep on talking pretty soon I'll be humming that tune again, 'why is everybody picking on me?'.

I am in a count my many blessings mood this morning. Driving through the rain this morning over the hills and through the woods to my workplace, I was thinking about the many blessings God has provided to me. I thought about my immediate family, my mom and dad, my siblings, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchild. I thought about the family within our local fellowship, so many dear people, that have been there for us over the years. I thought about my health, my ability to work and to have a place to work. I thought about the country God arranged for me to be a part of, the freedoms we have, and the opportunities that are ours to pursue. I concentrated on individuals like the good wife God gave to me, the people who handed down their testimony and encouraged me to pick up the baton and make my run for the Lord. Of course I felt compelled to dwell on thanking God Himself for His great love with which He loved me, in that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, even while I was a rebellious and unrepentant sinner. Complaints? I could force myself to come up with a list of those as well but that list would be small indeed compared to the blessings that God has given. I started out the new year praying back to God Psalm 145 through 150 and I continue to start many of my days that way. It helps me folks and I believe it can help anyone who will allow the praise of God to adjust both their attitude and their altitude. Try it. It may be awkward as you work through the wording but the more you pray back to God these inspired praise hymns, it is the more you sense His working in your life, and that as they say back home, will do a body a whole bunch of good! Amen.               ......More later.

Friday, January 21, 2011

China: "Words won't hurt me and sticks and stones are not even on the table!"

Whew! We made it! It's Friday, January 21, 2011 and I am thankful to be up and going. How about you? We as a country have gotten ourselves into a mess with the Chinese, don't you think? They pretty much are the role model for everything we stand against in terms of the lack of freedom, democracy, and human rights, however, they are holding 11% of our outstanding debt along with a threat to not take anymore if we get out of line. But didn't the President use some pretty tough words in describing the abuses going on in China? Talk is one thing. Doing anything about it is another and as that famous line from the movie says, "Show me the money!" We can rattle our sabers all we want to as long as we don't rock the boat. I read something the other day about how the Chinese have offered a financial bailout to the European Union. I don't know if that is one of those flags that might trigger apocalyptic visions of world domination but things like that do present us with grave concerns. I do know these events are related to the end time schedule. What? That's right. They are, and I know this because we have been on the progression of the end times schedule since that time when our Lord and Savior ascended back into heaven and the angels announced to those stunned disciples: They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

Is that a doomsday view of where we are? I hope not. I think it rather to be a hope filled view of this life and in looking forward to the Day that will usher in our Savior's return. Meanwhile, you and I might complain about all of this but at the same time we do not want to see anything happen to those unreasonably cheap goods and services. I'm not going to lecture because we all are conditioned to expect the low price, guaranteed. Okay. Enough of that for a Friday. We have other fish to fry, I am sure. Our granddaughter Brittany who is a college student had an accident this past Wednesday that totaled out her car. She is okay and the elderly man involved is also okay. For this we can do nothing but thank God. I was sitting here at my desk when my cell phone rang. It was my eldest son and he told me that she had been in a collision. Just that fast. That's how quickly we move from whistling while we work to praying that God will be with all involved. He told me she was hysterical when she called. No doubt. Her first accident. The elderly gentleman received a citation but she is heartbroken over the loss of her car. This is real life. And as we all know, real life can be tough. This is why we do lean upon the promises God has provided to us. This is why we do seek Him and His protection each and every day. The skeptics say we use God as a crutch because we are weak. Our faith informs us that we lean upon Him because He is our God and He cares. Again, join us in thanking God for His protection in this accident. Amen.

Everyone is buzzing about another round of cold weather headed our way and many complain because it is arriving just in time for the weekend. Hello? It's January folks and we should expect that we typically have cold weather this time of year. I suppose each of us want it our way. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. His call to arms for our nation way back on that frigid day in 1961 still resonates today. "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what can you do for your country." Many are recalling that famous speech. That call to arms reflects a biblical principle in that it calls on us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. While this simple statement reflected a collaboration between the new President and his speech writers, it very much stirred our nation. Folks, we need to be stirred again. Not by political rhetoric. Not by our selfish desires. But, we need to hear the call to action from the God who ordained nations to exist. If America is to continue, America needs God. I'm not talking about having it my way in terms of politics. I'm not talking about conservative or liberal. I'm talking about the truth that says blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 33:12) Where do we as individuals fit into this picture? The same place the Apostle Paul stood one day when he was confronted by the living Lord of the universe and uttered these words, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" Good question. For me, for you, for us all, and for our nation. Amen. See you next time and may the Lord bless and keep each one.                      ......More later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When it's all said and done, it doesn't take much to bring us down!

I suppose every once in a while it is good to be reminded of our fragile human condition. This past Sunday night I began to have a slight irritation in my right eye. It was worse Monday morning and by mid day it was in really bad shape. I struggled with it most of the day and finally made it home where I was exhausted from the experience. Some suggested it might be pink eye and that would certainly be possible, perhaps picked up from so many of the little ones I pick up and greet each Sunday at our local fellowship gathering. On Tuesday morning it was much more bearable and I continued on my normal routine. Many of the folks here at the Company were concerned that I might start an epidemic or something, therefore, I did my best to stay isolated as I continued to improve little by little. It still looks a little swollen today but I am thankful to have made almost a full recovery. One little eye. One big problem. So much pain, agitation, and for me, aggravation. But here I am, it's Thursday, January 20, 2011 and I am able to talk calmly about it and remind us all that while we may think ourselves to be invincible, that can change in a heartbeat! Okay, here's a confession of sorts. I don't like for anything to interfere with my schedule and that includes something like an eye infection. I've been blessed over my nearly 50 years of working to have hardly ever missed time at work due to illness, but I also know that my inherited stubbornness has played a role, and I am not saying that's entirely a good thing. I'm sure I needed to be reminded that it doesn't take much to clog up the works and to get my attention in the process. Bottom line, whether it's diabetes or an unexpected eye infection: I know that I am totally dependent upon God each and every day and I thank Him for even the breath I have in my body.

My wife is the consummate mothering type. She is filled with compassion for those who suffer. Unfortunately for me, when I am ailing, I only want to be left alone. She's learned to do that but it still does not square with her natural instinct. She struggles as she watches me struggle. Maybe it was my grandfather who never seemed to let anything interfere with him doing his duty. Maybe it was my mom working sick to make a way for the six of us. Maybe it's just some of that stubbornness rearing its ugly head. I am trying to adjust. That's right. We are never too old to learn. Being self reliant is a good attribute to a point. When we deny others an opportunity to help us, we can cross the line. I see this clearly, especially for the other guy. In fact, I gave some advice to someone this week who needed help but was struggling with accepting it. I called them up and told them here's the deal: The people who want to help you are able to help you and you need to let them. They responded: But I just don't feel right about accepting it. Me again: You just need to let them do for you what they feel led to do. They responded: Okay, I will, and thanks so much for helping me to work through this. Note to self: Giving advice but not taking it can catch up with you. Hey, I've told you all along that I am a work in progress but at least I know it. Fortunately for all of us who are believers, we have the Master Potter and He is working on us, His clay, to fashion us into a vessel of honor. Maybe next time I will let her kiss my bobo. 

I am well aware that I have not arrived. It's always good to have a grasp on exactly where you are. When we sing, "It's me, It's me, It's me, Oh Lord, Standing in the need of prayer," well, that's exactly right. God has been good in His faithfulness even as I have weebled and wobbled around. I know many who never want to think about the fact that we will not always be around. Do the math. The end of life scenario is currently 100%, that is, in due time. In my case I can see how that I've done about 80% thus far. That means I can look at it two different ways. I can say oh no, I only have 20% left, or, praise the Lord, I have 20% left in order to make a difference. Of course I use those numbers fully realizing that God and God alone is the final arbiter regarding our time here on earth. But it does present the truth reflecting how that time is getting away from us and we need to be aware of it. We had a great lesson Sunday morning and an encouraging message during the worship hour at our meeting place. We enjoyed a good lunch. We took our naps. We did our thing. We enjoyed a time of study and discussion Sunday evening. I had great expectations for Monday. But! The eye deal came along and slapped me up side the head. This is why our dear Brother James, all the way back to the first century, was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to instruct us to never assume what we will and will not be able to accomplish. Here's the verses: Come now, you who say,Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15) There you have it, a little plate of soul food to help nourish us for the day. Amen.              ......More later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Did you ever hear the one about.......? Remind me to tell you some time.

I'm sitting here thinking about what I might write about as we greet this Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Hello and welcome. Writing can be somewhat of a perplexing challenge. When I was a kid one of our neighbors who was an English teacher introduced me to some historical novels written by Thomas B. Costain. Those books turned me on to reading and I have written before about the debt of gratitude I owe to that dear lady for her fanning the flames of what became a life long pursuit. Costain was a recognized talent for many years but here's what he had to say about writers: "I am convinced that all writers are optimists whether they concede the point or not. How otherwise could any human being sit down to a pile of blank sheets and decide to write, say two-hundred thousand words on any given theme?" — Thomas Costain  He was referring directly to writing books no doubt but I will tell you that facing the blank page can at times be daunting. I have no way of categorizing the kind of writing I do. I suppose that's the idea behind blogging. One can communicate whatever it is that is on their mind. I don't have an active Facebook page but I do read my wife's. That genre of communication is called social networking and that it is. It's very interesting to read the level of detail that some folks share. They catalog how they feel, what's going on in their lives, their thoughts and feelings on a variety of subjects, and some even tell it all down to when they go to the store, what they do at home, and everything in-between. I wonder if they would be that open talking face to face. And, much of that same theme typically resembles what I do every day. As you can see, just talking about it does help put words on the page because I started out this blog with really nothing on my mind, and here we are, an entire paragraph with very little in the way of substance.

I fancy myself to be more of a story teller than a writer in the classical sense. I love stories. I love hearing other people telling their stories. I do quite a bit of story swapping. My wife would say I swap less than I tell but I do enjoy the exchanges. Yesterday morning I was retelling my disappointing anniversary meal that I wrote about the other day. My dear friend and work colleague, Bro. Jim, listened and laughed as I embellished each point. I finished by saying that $35 bucks each just seemed to be too much for such a disappointing meal. We both had a good laugh and then he said, "You know that reminds me of something that happened to us one time, did I ever tell you about our excursion to the French restaurant?" I told him I didn't remember him telling me about it and he was off and running. This was a number of years ago and he and his wife lived somewhat frugally. They had this lady in their Church who was very special to them. They invited her out to eat on her birthday. They told her she could choose any place she wanted to go because it was their treat. She called out the name of this French restaurant. They went there. It was first class. Everything was good he thinks because that part of the story has faded but not the bill. It was $96 and he nearly fainted. We both laughed again and that's the way swapping stories go. Some people say they don't really have any stories to tell. I can't imagine how that might be but I could probably tell you a story about how sad that must be. But I will hold that one for another day.

Not a bad way to start a day. Hot cup of Community brewed extra strong along with some old fashioned fellowship with a buddy. It reminds me of being up at my Great Uncle Claude's auto garage. He had a wood burning stove and one could hear some stories just sitting on the couch. That couch was a back seat out of an old sedan. Hunting, fishing, politics, and local gossip were served up by those waiting for Uncle Claude to look at their vehicle. Or, maybe out at the barber shop off the beaten path where in the summer time everyone sat out under the trees and visited while they waited their turn. Kids were expected to listen. We tell our Bible club members they must listen to learn. We had been raised that way, therefore, I can still remember some of those stories I heard while sitting under those trees. That's where I heard from the man who accidentally nearly cut my grandfather's nose off during a logging job. He shared the bloody details of how my granddad handled the pain and no doubt I was listening and hanging on his every word, wild eyed and fixated. My grandfather never told that story and more or less shrugged it off when I asked him about it. I also heard stories about getting by on next to nothing during the Great Depression, along with war stories, stories about local heroes, and the usual fish that got away stories. We've pretty much thrown in the towel on that tradition and I for one don't think we are the better for it. That brings us to today and here I sit trying to think about something to write about and suddenly I look up and there's a page full looking back at me. Is this a great country or what? And, are we blessed? I know I am and I hope you recognize that you are as well. Amen.            .....More later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to my whacked out world!

Good Tuesday morning, it is January 18, 2011 and I bid you welcome as an eyewitness to whatever it is you are about to read. The names have been changed to protect the innocent or something like that. I remember some of that wording from the opening from the old Dragnet series which was both on radio and TV. I still listen to radio episodes now and then out on the internet. I saw that 2007 movie "Meet the Robinsons" on TV the other day. I've always been fascinated with time travel and this particular animated Disney movie had some very weird but compelling themes. The young man had always longed to see his mom who had left him at the door of an orphanage when he was an infant. I can identify to a certain extent because of losing my dad so early in my life. There's so much about him I always wanted to know. At the end of the movie the young boy found out that his real family was the one that counted and I suppose it is fitting because the life we have is the only one we can do anything about, not the one we didn't have. That sounds pretty straight forward, don't you think? At any rate, my grand kids complained because they had seen it several times before and it was on commercial TV and towards the end it was mostly commercials, but it still found a spot in my heart and I am glad I watched it. They replayed it this past Sunday and I tried to get my wife to watch it but she had this battle going on against nap time which is a long running affair within her family, and the nap time won, and she just couldn't hang in there to see how it all ended.

Now you know what kind of exciting lives we live. Her curled up in the recliner taking a nap. And me, getting all emotional over a Disney cartoon. We do have it going on, don't we? This past Saturday we were able to visit my brother Donald at his new location, the apartment he was in the process of moving to last August when he went down with the massive heart attack. I am very pleased to report that he is doing quite well in this "new" home arrangement. His lady friend who takes care of him has her hands full and we will be glad when she will have some in home help which should be up and running soon. My brother's daughter, granddaughter, two grandchildren, and his brand new great grandson were there from California to see him. He has come a long way since being given little or no chance for survival. God has spared him for a reason and we continue to pray that he will eventually recover his mental faculties. I suppose I've talked more to my mom and other family members over the past few months than I had in the many years leading up to his catastrophic event. That's certainly not a bad thing and I know that families do come together in times of challenge and adversity. I saw that happen in my wife's family as they pulled together to help take care of their mom and dad during their final days. Sometimes we all need to be re-reminded of the priority of family and how that God has blessed us with those who bear our blood and our name. Amen.

After visiting my brother we drove on down to Galveston for a dinner date we made last December 18 to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary. All week long I had salivated over getting ready to enjoy that most delectable seafood dish that I love so much, crabmeat augratin. I had gone to the website and looked it up. I was somewhat taken aback by the new price of that little casserole dish, $24.00! Hurricane Ike hit everything! We've been going to this same eating establishment since the 1970's and I was ready. One problem. I came one day too late. The crab season had just ended. But the website didn't say anything about it! I was not a very happy camper, to say the least. We enjoyed an okay meal and it was all very unremarkable.I don't know how much my disappointment figured into the deal but everything seemed bland and while the service was very professional I was not in any mood to appreciate it. But we did have our meal and I can say the coffee was excellent and the bites off my wife's cheesecake was not too bad but there's no way I would have driven 100 miles for a good cup of coffee. Know what I mean? Next time I will know. Call and check to see if that sizzling chafing dish of mouth watering goodness is available. I had even put my diabetic testing tools on furlough for a few days anticipating some really huge disturbances in my testing diary. But you live and learn and we will not soon forget our postponed anniversary dinner where my wife really enjoyed her meal. Thank you very much! Just joking. You have yourself a great day and Lord willing I'll see you next time here at the meeting place. May God bless each one. Amen.                ......More later.

Monday, January 17, 2011

If the right one doesn't get you, the left one will!

I did make it back even after I used that husband wife kitchen joke in my blog on Friday. How was I able to survive? I started my explaining early and stayed with it until the cows came home. But, hello out there to all of you who travel here and there within the cyberspace world, it's good to see you on this Monday, January 17, 2011. Last Wednesday I noticed a report stating that 49 out of the 50 states had snow on that particular day. Only one state didn't have any. No. It wasn't Hawaii because they had seven inches on top of their highest volcano. Second guess? Right. Florida. They do not keep official records on this particular statistic but the experts guessed that typically no more than 35% of all states would have snow at the same time. Yes, Virginia, these are some strange times we are living in, for you, for me, for all of us, and for that jolly old elf you had asked about. I received my first piece of Medicare solicitation mail last week. I knew it was coming because this is "my" year. I glanced over it and it had charts and graphs with all kinds of plans, choices, and a variety of pricing options. Even though this mailing came from a private supplemental provider, I could tell from the way it was formatted that it had to be connected in one way or another with our government. I never learned to program the TV remote and this looks just about as complicated. The good news is that I still have a few months to deal with it and I have this feeling that this promotional mail-out was only the first of many coming to a mailbox near my house!

I was recently asked if I knew what all the recently reported dead birds and fish might have to do with a Biblical prediction or prophecy. I didn't have a specific answer but I always think it appropriate to at least consider current events in light of The Scriptures. We need to use good judgment but having a biblical orientation is not a bad way to try and make sense out of this world. I don't know about you but I thought the fireworks theory was kind of iffy but one thing is clear, the birds are here and there, and they are dead. I'm sure Mr. Gore will have something to say soon on the subject. Speaking of troublesome times, one of the things I noticed the other day was an article in Consumer Reports about how food companies are raising their prices while at the same time they are lowering the amounts in the package. It's one thing to pay more for your mac and cheese but how about the most popular brand reducing the packaged weight by 24%. The same company's packaged cheese slices were reduced by 2 slices. The orange juice container went from 64 fluid ounces to 59. There were many others listed and all of them major brands. Talk about your double whammy! Let me see if I have this right? I'm going to increase the cost while downsizing the amount and since the actual product looks very similar, I'm guessing that you won't even notice. But someone did and I'm glad, although, I can't really see what we can do about it, and we've tried some of those knock offs, and you sure don't save anything if you end up throwing the entire package away.  After all, I suppose it comes down to this question: What's a couple of slices of cheese between friends?

Speaking of cost increases. Have you noticed the gasoline prices lately? Some are predicting $5 per gallon within the next few years. I saw a headline from the UK yesterday that said their prices are predicted to reach $9.75 per gallon for unleaded by Easter of this year. Hello? I get a little riled when I cross that $30 fill up and they are looking at nearly $200 to fill a 20 gallon tank. That would prompt some changes in behavior I would suppose. I mention the fuel costs because that's the major culprit being implicated in all the other price increases. Everything requires fuel and while it may not be the entire reason, it makes for a really good excuse to sock it to the consumer. That would be you and I, if you are keeping score. No wonder folks are no longer planning to retire, they can't even afford to think about it, much less do it! I am sounding off a little here but at the same time I am aware that God provides and we are thankful each and every day for His provisions. I can hardly wait to hear our little great grand learning to say the mealtime blessing. "God is good. God is great. Let us thank Him for the food we eat. By His hands we all are fed, give us now our daily bread. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen." That's not only sweet music from the mouth of babes but it is also true and we all should be reminded of it. Now don't go getting all down and out over these price increases because God will make a way. The other night I surprised my wife with a home cooked meal that included a pot of beans along with rice and a pone of cornbread (made from scratch, of course). She and I practically lived on this menu as our staple back when we first started out. It was good to the taste and good to our remembering how special it was to have even that to eat as a young couple making our way. I haven't checked on the price of beans or how many they are putting in the bags these days. I'll add that to my list. You have yourself a wonderful day and may God bless each of you. Amen.            .....More later.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Unscrambling eggs. Don't try this at home.

Hello Friday, many have been waiting for you with tremendous expectation. And, I add my welcome to those taking the time to peruse my daily attempt to share whatever it is that happens to be resonating in my sphere where at least some level of thought takes place. It is Friday, January 14, 2011 and I am closing the book on the second work week of the new year. I am involved some in ongoing coordination activities on a number of projects and that always has potential for dynamic tension. Some folks think that's a bad thing but when you think about it, getting it done as best we can will always have its moments. I participate in a few raised voice conversations as we make our way through each week but it is never mean spirited. It's more or less the nature of the beast. If it in any way crosses the line we are aware of the boundaries and we make sure to get things back on track. The most important thing is to never take it personal because everyone is just trying to get the job done. I've heard people talk about working at places where never was heard a discouraging word, but I've never been in one of those places, and I'm not sure they actually exist, and even if they do, I'm not at all sure I would want to be there. You are ahead of me. I hear what you are thinking and you just happen to be right. If I showed up at a place like that they would immediately lose their reputation for peace and tranquility. At least I know one person fairly well....... me, myself, and I.

I was thinking about some of the people I saw during the Christmas holidays. I remember one lady who had that big smile that forced her eyes to close when it was triggered. I've known people like that. I can't help but wonder if that is safe. Driving down the road and you think of something funny and suddenly you are driving blind. Her smile was very broad and genuine but I'm not sure that eye closing deal would work for me. I've known a few folks who had a permanent smile fixed on their faces, all the time, 24 by 7, regardless of their mood or disposition. One fellow I'm thinking about was a very upbeat and loving sort of person, therefore, that smile plastered on his face worked for him. I've known others who were not well suited for the smile they wore. I suppose the parents of folks like that had to adjust to it because my mom used to be very clear in her instruction, "You had better wipe that smile off your face!" One of the other things I noticed as I went about my shopping was the amount of sarcasm folks exchange, especially between husbands and wives. Typically, the huge eye roll that accompanies the snide remark is a dead give away. I know my wife and I exchange quite a bit of banter but at times I end up having to explain why what I said was just joking, therefore, my advice is to stay away from any forth and back that ends up requiring an explanation. Here's one I could never use but I read it the other day. Husband: Where would you like to go on our anniversary? Wife: Somewhere I've never been before. Husband: How about the kitchen? See what I mean? Again, I couldn't use that one but it's still kind of funny and if I were to use it the explanations would likely go on for days. Know what I mean, Vern?

Gray cells on a conference call.
Closing out another week here at the old eclectic smorgasbord or should that be the keystroke buffet. It's Friday, what can I say? Some of the gray cells may be on a slow down strike. That's where they show up for work but significantly restrict the rate and quality of the output. Why are they doing this? Maybe they aren't too thrilled with that husband wife joke either. Who knows? I'm looking forward to a busy Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. What do I have planned for Saturday? Not anything for certain but I'm pretty sure based on history that it will be busy. Lord's Day Sunday gives the opportunity for us to gather with other like minded believers to worship our Great God and to encourage each other as well as growing as we are exposed to the truth found in God's Holy Word. I'm always in need of all of the above when it comes to refueling my spiritual tank. May God bless each one. Amen. If things go according to plan, I'll see you next time on this same station, although if the gray cells don't change their way of cooperating, it will be a surprise to us all what might be on the front burner by then. As you can tell, there are times when I don't have a clue.            ...........more later.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I know there must be a message in there, somewhere!

Hello friends and neighbors, I bid you welcome to our version of what it feels like when it is actually cold on this Thursday, January 13, 2011. That is, if having a couple of days of hard freeze and being in the low 20's qualify. I know there are many out there who are dealing with snow and ice and they would gladly exchange some wintry cold for the slipping and sliding they are having to deal with. On Tuesday afternoon I was at the hardware store having some keys made. Folks were lined up buying insulation materials to protect their pipes and faucets from the predicted freeze. They may have been running late but then again, we don't deal with hard freezes very often. We also typically tend to over estimate the amount of cold but we are in a down economy so anything to spur purchasing. Right? Talking about the weather, I have been listening on the internet to a radio station in Brisbane, Australia off and on during this unprecedented flooding event they are experiencing. Brisbane has a population of over 2 million and they are currently awaiting a wall of water headed their way. The death toll is currently set at 23 but they are expecting it to be many more once they are able to search for all those reported to be missing. One of the things the cold, the wind, the rain, and the flooding reminds me of is how that we are not in control. It doesn't matter what the coordinates are that designates the exact spot where we live on the globe, every person is in need of God's grace, mercy, love, and protection, every single day! Amen.

This next Sunday our Bible study class will reconnect into our verse by verse study of the Book of Exodus. We took a time out to cover some Thanksgiving related lessons, some Christmas lessons, and then a couple of lessons where we looked at how to make a difference in the New Year. We will rejoin our study in progress as found in Chapter 18 and it is where Moses receives a visit from his father in law, Jethro. This is one of my favorite passages in the life of Moses. Perhaps the most wonderful thing ever said about Moses was God's comment about him being the most humble or meek man on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3) We see that humility on display as he welcomed and showed honor to his wife's father. I did work for a couple of years as a consultant. Jethro is a great model for this job. While he visited Moses he observed how that Moses was completely overloaded in trying to settle all the issues that people had. They were essentially lined up from early morning to late in the evening. Jethro observed this and came to a remarkable conclusion: "This is not good." He went on to recommend a sharing of the judging responsibility with others. Moses listened and learned. He yielded himself to the advice given. This tells me that before we can be helped by those who could give us advice, we must be willing to be submissive and open to hearing what they have to say. Whenever I would review an organization or project as a consultant, and found many problems, I would often quote Jethro: "This is not good." And just so you know, I had one of the greatest father in laws that any person would have ever hoped to have. He was a man of God and he was a huge encourager to me. He has gone on to his reward but I can well understand why Moses showed such honor and respect to his father in law.

I've been blessed to have folks like my father in law in my life. I've been a lot of places and I've done a lot of things. People used to call me lucky because it seemed at times like I was in the right place at the right time. Lucky? I don't think so. I know I messed up so many of the opportunities that God placed in my path but He is the reason that I can look back and name individuals, situations, and circumstances where He deserves the honor and glory for it all. Regrets? Plenty, but also thankfulness for those He saw fit to bring into my life at different times. I'm talking all the way back to when I was a little tyke. No, I haven't arrived and I haven't fulfilled even the potential I could have but as the Apostle Paul put it, "I'm still in their pressing forward towards the high mark of the calling He has placed on my life." (My loose paraphrase.) Still slipping and sliding around at times like those folks dealing with the ice, and still making a mess out of things but able to claim victory only because of He who has chosen to make me His very own. I actually count knowing how God has blessed me to be one of the greatest of blessings in my life. What? That's right. Many receive God's favor and fail to see that it all comes from Him. Somewhere along the way He prompted me to appreciate how that He has worked through others to help me to get to where I am today. And, He knows better than anyone that I am still a work in progress but I am able to rise up and give Him all praise, honor, and glory for His presence in my life. Many of you are a part of that entourage who have contributed to my life and I thank God for you all. My advice: Take some time to reflect on how God has worked in your life and as the old song says, it might just surprise you as you count all those many blessings. Amen.         ......More later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Most of us have a full time job dealing with ourselves!

Welcome to Wednesday, January 12, 2010 here on the home front. Inflammatory speech is the topic before our nation and it appears to me, as a layman, that what constitutes dangerous words apparently can be determined by whomever it is talking about it at the time. It was okay for those who disagreed with former President George W. Bush to call him every hateful name in the book. Why? Those who said those things were calling him out about his policies. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, now it's the inflammatory speech of those who disagree with President Obama that is causing people to be shot and killed. What about our President just in the last few days in some of his comments. When he made a compromise with the Republicans on the tax bill before congress, he said he was forced to extend the current rates because he was being held as a hostage by the Republicans. That doesn't sound like kind words to me. During the presidential campaign he had quoted from a movie with tough language, "If they bring a knife, we will bring a gun." This was said to put his political opponents on notice. The gunning down of a democrat congress lady supposedly makes those who disagree with the President as guilty as the madman who pulled the trigger. I'm not for hate speech that incites people to violence. I'm against any and all slander. And, I especially am against any and all who make this type of vilification into a product they sell for profit. However, I also know that all sides are driven by the motive of power, and all sides will use this event, or any other event, to try and further their own ambitions. When one side wins, often the American people lose. And, if we end up throwing out the baby with the bath water, our right to disagree vocally, to petition our government, to have our say, could also go with it. We who are believers actually have a higher standard we are called to observe. More about that later.

You had to know that I would have to comment on all of this, sooner or later. In preparing for this blog I reviewed many of the placards calling for President Bush to be killed. I also saw some unbelievably evil depictions of President Obama contorted to promote a particular issue. This recent shooting will again advance the notion of more gun control. I know that's a huge red meat issue to many folks but I can tell you that I have no respect for anyone selling guns to our children, gangs, or to illegals, and how sad it is that some do it for profit without regard to the consequences. I do believe in the right to possess a gun but I also know there are certain types of weapons that have an almost 100% criminal use record. Where's the balance? It's tough but you can be sure it will be front and center over the coming days. It would appear the left leaning news media is actually repeating the same huge mistake when they attempted to pin the killings at Fort Hood on conservative talk radio. Once it was clear that the guy was a radical Islamic extremist, they backed off faster than a speeding bullet. I know the speeding bullet metaphor may be a little violent but the word picture does convey what I was wanting to say. By immediately connecting this madman in Tucson to talk show rhetoric they have once again shown their bias without knowing the facts. I heard one last night saying even if it turns out to not be a clear connection, it doesn't matter, at least the subject is now on the front burner. What kind of journalism school did she attend? And, let me be clear. There are no boundaries where over the top responses are involved because they come from all sides.

What about we who are people of faith? What is our calling in all of this? I've lived to see some amazing situations in my lifetime. I remember one fellow who spent his life railing against any and all government programs and services, that is, UNTIL, he and his family were wiped out and without any means whatsoever. Suddenly those programs and services became his lifeline. Therefore, we need to be careful how we sum up the other guy's situation, thinking and motivation before we heap up our criticism. Are there times when we are called to stand up with courage and determination? Absolutely! To speak up and out? Certainly! But we must also maintain a testimony consistent with the calling God has placed on our lives. When we who are called by the Lord's name participate in perpetuating ugly jokes and stories about those we disagree with and these have no basis in fact, we essentially lower ourselves to be no different than the world. When we are no different than the world we will never hope to truly make a difference in the world. Being right about a particular issue does not make one right in their heart and that should concern every believer, every single day, including yours truly. What should we do? Get up everyday and ask God to help us to love Him and to love others, and then to help us to serve both! Amen.             ......More later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Working hard to make a difference but also taking time to monkey around!

Already Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and I should be able to say I am off and running. Should be, but the year is surely off and running and perhaps I am more or less already trying to play catch up at this point and time. I need to find that list of things I had planned on doing differently this year. Oh, that's right. I never made the list. This doesn't mean I haven't thought about some areas I would like to improve on in this new year because I have. Many of them have to do with the priority of spiritual matters as they relate to my day by day living. I am not getting any younger and I feel comfortable being in the last quarter of my time spent out on the playing field. But I do want my time to count and I especially want to do my part in handing down a legacy of recognizing God and His truth just like it was handed down to me. This may require that I pray more about this matter so that I can live out and leave for my children and grandchildren some kind of testimony that will register like the one left to me by my grandfather. It's not some huge event or special announcement. It has more to do with getting up every day and with intent going about all that is done in a way that speaks up for truth, honor, integrity, and the hope we have in our faith. If there is a hand off of any kind, it does require something to hand off. Right? Sure it does and I need to think soberly about the influence and impact of a living testimony.

My great grand gig!
Last Friday we were privileged to attend our little Madi's party as she celebrated her first birthday. Okay, let me put on my great grand hat for a moment. Never have I seen a one year old enjoy a party more than our little bundle of Madelyn Joy. It was surreal. She was the perfect little birthday girl. We had a great time and I said all of those things just to get you warmed up for when you ask her Paw Paw about how she responded to all the hoopla at her party. My stuff is likely somewhat tame compared to how he would gush over it. I've always taken the more conservative approach. You haven't noticed? One year old and look what kind of world we are building for her generation. The economy is in the ditch. Folks are suffering all around. There's violence seemingly on every street corner. The shooting in Tucson is another example of how messed up a person can get. That little nine year old girl who was killed was born on 9/11 2001. She had been one of the children featured in a book about a new generation of hope rising up from the ashes of that fateful attack on our country. She was an outstanding young lady mowed down by a madman who succeeded in wreaking so much pain and suffering with one pistol. Now the finger pointing has begun. Everyone wants to find someone to blame. Political points are there for the taking. But who is really the blame? Perhaps we as a nation, individually as citizens, and collectively as a people, need to remember our God mentioned so prominently by our founders, and renew our commitment to His well known principles. If and when we do, we can see hope for the future of our little bundle of Madelyn Joy. 

The cousins!

The cousins!
On Sunday my wife and I accompanied our Alexander Benjamin to attend our Brady Darrell's 5th birthday celebration. They had originally planned on doing it at their house with a moon walk brought in but a couple of inches of rain right smack in the middle of the schedule caused that one to be shut down before it got started. Instead, they moved it to one of those indoor play centers with all the inflated slides, mountains, and other obstacle course like venues. The place is called Monkey Bizness where kids can monkey around. I did observe a whole lot of monkeying around, that's for sure. Turn a bunch of little boys loose along with a few girls and the race is on. An hour of that type of exertion nonstop did get their heart rates up and ready for some pizza and birthday cake. Brady enjoyed it all including almost wearing himself out opening presents. I admire our daughter in law for tackling all the coordination and handling for a group that size. It was fun to watch the little ones have fun. Why do we go out of our way to recognize a child on their birthday? First and foremost, it is because every child is special and we want them to know it. God gave them to us and we want to do our best to nurture them and help them to become all that God has planned for them. Someone recently told me we must attend a lot of birthdays with so many in our family and I told them, yes, but what a blessing it is to be able to do so. Now, I will return to remembering to remember the work I need to do in getting my act together for the new year. Seems like only about a year ago I was working on the same issue! May God bless each one. Amen.            .....More later.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Okay. Here we are to begin our work week on this Monday, January 10, 2011. I recently checked ou the stats preserved by the blogging utility I use. Since I started this blogging adventure there have been over 5500 times that people have viewed one of my pages on line. Most of these landed by accident. I know this from how they got to my page. It was primarily through one of the search engines where they were looking for a particular subject or word and I happened to have had what they were searching for buried somewhere in my blog. Nearly 3500 of these originated here in the U.S. But there were over 200 from Canada, over 100 from the UK, and others that accessed from the Netherlands, Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Australia, Germany, and India. Most came from a Windows platform, however, over 300 originated on a Macintosh. There were actually quite a few from personal devices from iPads to Blackberrys. Some poor kid somewhere actually hit my page from an Nintendo DSI. I don't know if it is a small world or not but wouldn't it be wonderful if only a few actually took the time to read some of what I have written and found a quote or a comment about their need of salvation. I well remember the story about a Russian working as an engineer in Iraq back in the Sadam Hussein days. Someone who had previously worked on that same tunnel had scribbled John 3:16 on the wall. This Russian went back home and one day he researched that scribbled inscription and found that verse, and was won to Christ as a result. That's the power of God at work through His word.

You didn't know that I was so accidentally popular, even on an international basis, did you? God can use any and all means to make contact with those in need of knowing Him. Our Savior commissioned us to take the good news of salvation into all parts of our globe and when we share a word in whatever form it may be, He can take that and cause hearts to hear, respond, and be changed for time and eternity. I'm sure most of those who landed on my page got away from it as quickly as they could.The blog accessed the most was one I wrote about putting things off and how that we will get it done when we get around to it. That blog spoke about needing a "Roundtuit". That blog was hit with 153 page views and it was written last October. The next one in line was the one I wrote in 2009 about chicken gizzards with over 100 page views.Who knows why? The next most accessed was another one from 2009 about rednecks. I heard the testimony of a fellow a couple of years ago how he checked into a motel with the intention of taking his own life there. As he sat on the side of the bed he reached and pulled open the nightstand drawer and saw a Gideon Bible. You can already guess what happened. Instead of losing his life, he opened that Book and ended up finding eternal life through Jesus Christ. He had an appointment with destiny but thank God it wasn't concluded in the way he had intended. Amen.

I've mentioned many times about how many outstanding men of God are preaching every single day all over the world on radio and on the internet. I love hearing the letters read from every corner of our globe where folks have heard and responded to the call of God through the Gospel. What makes this even more wonderful? These preachers have been dead for years! Now if that doesn't once and for all demonstrate the power of the message as opposed to the messenger, I will eat my hat! I promise this is the last one before I leave off this rambling rose of ruminations. A preacher we know had a ministry in a very tough part of town. He had a very active outreach to those on the street. One night a fellow came in and this pastor tried to talk to him but he was very belligerent. The pastor tried to reason with him and gave him a Gospel tract but the man balled it up and threw it on the porch and left. The pastor picked up the tract and put it in the trash receptacle while the man stormed off. The pastor later learned that sometime during the night the man became distressed over his meeting and in the wee hours of the morning he returned to the Church, dug through that trashcan, found that tract, read it, and gave his heart to Jesus. I know that pastor and I've heard him relate this remarkable account in person. It just reminds us all of that old missionary saying, "You can never take the Gospel to the wrong address." Whether it's scribbled on a tunnel wall in Iraq, or presented by a dead preacher on the radio, or perhaps even left in a blog where someone happens upon it by accident, God can use it in a powerful way because He so loved the world that He sent His One and only Son to die, that all who believe would be saved and live eternally with Him. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. Amen!          ......More later.