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Friday, February 22, 2013

Is America Dysfunctional? Or Reprobate?

Is America a dysfunctional nation?  It is recognized that individuals can be dysfunctional.  It is also common to call families dysfunctional.  The question is can a nation be dysfunctional?  What is the definition of dysfunctional?  Mr. Webster says it means abnormal or impaired functioning.  If that is the criteria for measuring dysfunction America is definitely a basket case of dysfunction.

How do you measure dysfunction?  Do you measure it by what you can plainly see? Or do you measure it by what is perceived to be the normal values?  If it is the former we are definitely over the edge. If it is the latter we are also in trouble.  Especially if you base your judgment on the writings, values and ideals this nation was founded upon.  America claims to be a Christian nation.  Many people say that the blessings that exist in America have come from God.  Anyone who is willing to take the time to read the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy can see quickly the signs that will happen to a nation that follows God.  It also gives a list of curses that will befall a nation that fails to follow God.  You can form your own opinion of where America stands as a Christian nation.

Here are a few verses that describe what it will be like at the end of time.  Know that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

The above is a pretty good description of the status of America today.  If that is not enough here are a few more verses that also describe American society in this day and age.   “22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;   29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

That is a pretty good description of the America we live in today.  It is certainly not what a God fearing and God loving nation should be like.  So in the area of national beliefs America’s actions would indicate we are a bit dysfunctional.  That is bad enough but if we look at the actions we can see and observe we are even more dysfunctional as a nation.  The inability to create a budget and living beyond our means is one example. 

Congress keeps trying to blame the mess on the President.  The Congress needs to sit down and actually read the Constitution.  It is the responsibility of Congress to create and pass a budget.  The President simply approves or disapproves the budget that is submitted to him.  So it is apparent that Congress is dysfunctional as they do not even know what their job is.  Balancing the budget and controlling spending is the duty of Congress, not the President.

The fact that four out of every ten dollars America spends is borrowed is another sign of our dysfunctionality as a nation.   You can’t even add up the expenditures of the government without buying a special calculator.  When you have spent so much money that it can’t be measured by normal means you may have a problem.
The fact that the Congress is spending that much money and not even addressing the problems with the infrastructure is another sign of the problem.  Congressional incompetence is clearly a big part of the problem. The Constitution clearly describes the duties of the Congress.

While the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution state we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Our government is clearly and openly infringing on all those rights.  It is also failing to protect Americans from those parts of society that are out of control.  Whether it is crazies with guns or deviates with an agenda.  The leadership has capitulated its leadership to parties that would destroy the very foundations this nation was founded on. They have surrendered to the special interest groups.  They give up individual rights to corporations and to groups that are against every value this nation stands for.

The following verse show how America has gotten to where it is at.  The question is can it be turned around.  The answer is, not until the leadership is willing to stand up acknowledge our national foundations.  Failure to do so and the consequences are clearly lined out in the following verses.  America is hard on the road to becoming a reprobate nation.  The rest of the world sees it happening.  It is too bad that America can’t see it happening.

 That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

It is evident that regardless of what America professes, its actions say it has turned its back on God.  The Bible clearly states God will at some point turn his back on nations that do so.  The question is has God already turned his back on this nation?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Money Basics, Eating out for 4, for less than $10

Over the last three years I have written about 27 articles dealing with personal finances.  They started with what to do when you become unemployed and how to deal with it. As the saying goes, "Been there done that."  While hard times can be difficult it is not the end. Over a 20+ year period I also ran my own business. If you type in Money in the search bar at the start of my blog, it will bring up blogs that might help those that are in financial trouble. They cover everything from how to generate some income, how to start over, how to get a house cheap, and starting your own business. Hope some of them help somebody.  Thanks for visiting my site

              MONEY BASICS: Eating out for 4, for less than $10

     Recently I was talking with some friends and they were complaining about overdraft fees on their checking. As the old saying goes been there done that.  It is a rut that is easy to get into and hard to get out of.  The problem in many cases is not a lack of money.  It is a lack of management.  In the course of my life I ran my own business for quite a few years.  I never hired a book keeper or and accountant, but I did learn to take advice.  Free advice is worth what you pay for it.  Sometimes it does work if properly used.  If you have a job it is a lot simpler than if you don't.  The trick I use is simply a monthly envelope. When I started doing it a friend of mine  had me putting money in different envelopes.  There was a different envelope for  each bill.  When that bill came due you simply took the money out of the envelope and paid the bill. It did help me get on my feet, but I still would forget to send the payments occasionally.  I needed and created something even simpler.  It is a combination system of envelopes and direct deposit, which I originally did not like. Properly used  it is a very good system.  It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

     Here is how you can make you budget life a lot easier.  Bills that come every month and are pretty stable should be paid by your direct deposit account.  If the payment fluctuates like utilities pay it yourself.  House payments, insurance, cable and other bills that are the same amount each month should be paid by direct deposit.  The first thing you need to know is the total amount of those bills. Say it is $800 dollars a month.  You need to then divide that number by the number of times you get paid per month.  If it is four times a month the number is $200.  If it is twice a month the number is $400.  When you get paid you deduct whichever amount it is from your paycheck balance. Say you make $370 per week total.  When you deduct the $200 from your check it is spent.  It is gone.  It does not exist. To really protect yourself put in $10 to $20 extra per month and forget it. You now have $170 per week left.

      This may sound strange but the very first thing you should do is give yourself an allowance to spend and enjoy.  Do not get crazy with the amount.  If God can get by on 10% so can you.  Besides if anything is left after the budget is done you get to say where it goes.  Hopefully there will be some left. If there is not keep your allowance and cut something else out. The feeling of being a slave to your bills can be one of the most depressing things that ever happens to a person.

     The next thing you do is total up the bills that are not paid by direct deposit. This should include gas, groceries, and other regular but necessary items.  Hopefully it is a number that is less than the $170 you have left per week. Try to space the payments out so have some cash left every week.  If the number is greater than what you have left each week something has to be done.  You can either eliminate something, try to spread out the payments evenly throughout the month or figure a way to get more money to cover the shortage.  Whatever you have left is what you have for spending money.

     Once you have all those numbers worked out you need one envelope.  I use 9 inch by 12 inch manila envelopes.  I do one envelope for each month.  All the money you spend that is not in the budgeted amount must also be accounted for. You do that so you can learn where and what you are spending or possible wasting money on.  I draw lines on my envelope. Then I put the date. the amount spent, how it was spent (check,cash,debit card or credit card, where it was spent and for what.  You need to get in the habit of getting a receipt for everything even if it is just a candy bar.  Put all the receipts in the 9 X 12 envelope.  Either when you put them in the envelope or every so often you need to log each receipt.  My system is to keep all my receipts in my pocket.  When I get tired of digging through to get to my cash I put them in the envelope and log them on the front.  One little trick I learnt over the years I either paper clip or staple all the receipts together each time I put them in the envelope.  I also put a line after the last entry of each pocket clean out.  That way if I need to find a receipt to take an item back for a refund it is easier to find.  Digging through a couple hundred loose receipts is a real pain.

     After just a month or two of doing this system you will start to get a real clear picture of what for and where your money is really going.  It will amaze you how much you can spend eating out.  Also buying things you do not really need to buy.  Recently I cleaned out my office and filing cabinets. It was interesting to find out how many notebooks I had and duplicate files that just took up space.  I have also learned to write on the tabs and envelopes in pencil.  Then you can relabel them and get more use out of them.  I went and bought a new box of manila folders in preparation for the job.  After cleaning my files I had more folders than I will need in a year or two. So now I can get out that receipt and take the folders back that I wasted money on.  That is one way organizing your finances can save you money.  That box of folders was almost twenty dollars.

     Here is another little tip that will get you out of the overdraft problem once you get the basic budgeting down pat.  When you write a check on your account and subtract it from you balance, always round up to the next dollar.  It is a sort of insurance policy and a hidden savings account.  If a check is $10.90 or even $10.10 always deduct it at the next higher dollar amount.  In this case $11.  Over a period of time you will build you a bumper that will protect you from minor mistakes. It has to be combined with getting the basic budgeting techniques down pat first though.

     Living pretty far out in the sticks sometimes when I am buying stuff and I am not sure which size I need.  I will buy two items and then use the receipt to take back the one I did not need.  It is my way of saving gas and getting done what I need to get done.  A trip to town is about thirty miles. That is two gallons of gas in my old truck and a good hours worth of time that I save.  When I get enough stuff on my to do list I will make a trip to town and do it all at once.  Little things like that can save a lot of trips and gas.

     Learning where to eat when in town can save you  a lot also.  I know most people have a favorite. I like Mexican food myself and Taco Bell has a real good deal.  They used to call it the Two Dollar Meal Deal, but they raised the price to $2.29 in January.  You get a choice of one of four main items, a bag of Doritos and a drink for that price.  That means you can feed a family of four for less than $10.  You can not even do that at Mickey D's.  The key to the whole system is learning to get your money's worth and only to spend money on what you really need to spend money on.  That is the key to good budgeting.  As you get more and more organized you will not be making the overdraft mistake anymore.  You will know what your budget is and how much you have.  It always cost you more to spend money you do not have.  Whether it is at the bank or on your credit card or even the monthly bills.  Overdraft fees and interest are a form of robbery, but we only pay them if we do not properly manage our money.  A thirty dollar overdraft fee would let a family of four eat out three times and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Which is more appealing to me than giving some banker who pays his employees minimum wage a free ride.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"1984" & Big Brother, A Prophecy or A Reality

      Recently I heard that while America makes up only five percent of the world's population, we have twenty-five percent of the world's prisoners.  That made me wonder if the book I have been reading the last few days might have become a self fulfilling prophecy.  The book is "1984" by George Orwell  It was a classic back when I went to school which was pre 1984.  It was required reading in many literature classes.  After 1984 came and went the book was slowly abandoned.  We had survived.  The question is have we really survived.  Or was the year 1984 not the end, but the beginning of the end.  I have been reading the book to see how many things that it implied would happen, have happened.

       The book was first published in 1949 and had a major effect on society. Many words and phrases created in the book have become everyday words.  Big Brother is probably the most well known word.  It is a word that implies state control of every aspect of our lives.  The state has video screens that they can use to watch everything you do. That has pretty much come to pass in the form of video surveillance  It implies the use of computers even though computers as we know them today did not even exist at the time the book was written.  In fact TV was a novel and new experiment at the time the book was written.  The world was divided into three major powers Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.  The rest of the world was the battlefield for the three major powers that were in a constant state of conflict.  There were types of speaking that the state approved of.  Oldspeak was the old way of speaking and was being eliminated.  It was being replaced by Newspeak which had its own definitions and was destined to replace Oldspeak.  The meaning of words was changed to suit the powers that be.  It would be very similar to what we call "politically correct" in this day and age.  History was constantly being changed and updated to agree with the present view of the state.
In fact that is what encouraged me to reread the book 1984.  I see the issue with Lance Armstrong as being similar to what the book mentioned.  Especially the fact that an attempt to strip him of his seven victories is in progress.  It is not the first time I have seen history, if not changed, certainly glossed over.  Remember Waco and all the people that died.  The survivors were tried and they were acquitted in a court of law.  Anybody remember the Ruby Ridge Standoff.  Again the parties involved were later acquitted and the Federal Government had to pay over three million dollars in damages for killing the family of the party the government was after.  Every time I see S.W.A.T. teams in their body armor on the scene of a crime it reinforces my belief the state is out of control.  How about our country starting a war with another country based on manufactured and erroneous information about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

    In the book society is divided into three groups. Well maybe four if you count the enemies of the established order of things.  There is the party leadership which are invisible to the average citizen. Then there are those who work for and support the state.  Finally there are the proles who are a class of people who exist but are almost subhuman and live like rats.  They exist in their own little world and the state ignores them.

     This whole article started from a point that President Obama made in his state of the union speech.  He called for a nine dollar an hour minimum wage, which would also be tied to a cost of living increase.  That may sound nice, but it is a little late.  Not to age myself but when I started working the minimum wage was fifty cents an hour. At least it was for people in the restaurant field.  For regular jobs the minimum was one dollar an hour.  If the minimum wage had kept parity with what it would buy when I started working the minimum wage would have to be thirty dollars an hour today.  How did I figure that?  Well a bottle of pop or a candy bar was five cents back then. That meant I could by twenty bottles of pop for a dollar.  So it would cost me thirty dollars to buy the same amount of pop.

     According to a chart I looked up online the minimum wage back in 1961 equaled about eighty percent of what poverty level income was at that time. Today the minimum wage is seven dollars and twenty five cents.
That is only fourteen and a half times what the wage was back when I started working.  Today's minimum wage is less than seventy percent of the poverty level.  So workers are definitely losing ground.  If you really want to blow the number out of the water. Today's pop costs thirty times what a pop cost in 1961. Therefore if you multiply thirty times a dollar fifty it would take a wage of forty five dollars an hour to have buying parity with what your dollar would buy in 1961.  Today's minimum wage will only buy 4.8 bottles of pop for an hours worth of wages.  It is easy to see workers are definitely loosing ground in the wage war.  If we compare car prices then and now it works out a little different, but labor is still loosing.  A new car was roughly thirty five hundred dollars in 1961.  Today that same car is thirty five to fifty thousand dollars. It would take a little over a year and a half of minimum wage salary to buy a new car in 1961.  Today that same car bought on minimum wage at today's prices would take two and a half years wages for a low end car and three years labor to buy a top of the line vehicle.

      So the special interest groups that buy influence with our government are working hard to create a class of proles (social outcast mentioned above) to support their lifestyles.  It takes two people working at minimum wage to provided adequate income for the average household.  The only ones who can afford to buy a car on a single persons income are those who work for the state or government.  Those who are in union jobs, which the government would love to end, and those in the medical fields can also afford todays prices. People with special training may make wages to afford living today.  Most high school graduates will only be able to earn prole wages at the bottom of the economic ladder.  They will not be able to grow beyond that point

     The book 1984 also has three slogans that are repeated over and over. "War Is Peace"...we are definitely being sucked up into that one.  The military industrial complex controls our government to their benefit.   "Freedom Is Slavery"  That one is definitely taking form as the government terminates our freedom in the interest of protecting us from some omnipresent threat to our existence.  The final one is the classic of them all "Ignorance Is Strength."  The media is designed to keep us in darkness. The government in its effort to control society has waged a war on drugs, terrorism and environmental threats.  Creating a prison system to incarcerate anyone who does not agree with the system.  Not necessarily because they are a threat to society, but because they disagree with the powers that be.   They are trying to legislate morality just as they do in the book 1984, to protect us from ourselves.  Think about it, but not to hard or you may be charged with "Thought Crime."  The Thought Police are watching us.  Religion is the "Opiate of the Masses"according to Marx. It will be tolerated, however, as long as no one acts to interfere with powers that be.

    Welcome to the Orwellian world we now live in. Those who believe in Peace and act on their beliefs will be destroyed as they are a threat to society, especially the military industrial complex. Remember Gandhi, Kennedy, King, and Lennon to name a few.  They were threats to society as it exists today. Are you a threat? Read the book.  We may be way past 1984 but it is definitely on its way unless we rise up to stop it.
Our dysfunctional government is incompetent and leading us toward an abyss we may never get out of.  The Bible says that this is where the world will be headed in the last days. The verses listed below definitely  describe the direction the world seems to be headed in.  Has God turned his back on this nation? Form your own opinion.

II Timothy 3:1-5 and Romans 1:19-32

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Growing As A Christian

     Years ago when I was driving a truck I stopped in Dallas to have lunch. After lunch I went back to my truck and intended to continue my journey.  When I got to my truck, however, my plans were altered.  A young Mexican man was sitting on the step of my truck.  As I approached him he asked me. "Is this your truck?"  I told him, "Yes" and he continued,  "I see this scripture on the side of your truck. I just became a Christian a couple weeks ago and I do not feel I am growing as a Christian.  How do I grow as a Christian?"
I pondered what he said and realized this would take more than a few minutes to explain. It was Thursday and I did not have to be in LA till Monday so I had plenty of time. I asked him if he had time to talk and he said he did.  Even though I had just ate lunch I suggested we go to the restaurant and talk.  What he had read on the side of my hood was Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."  That is what I call my life verse and it is the one I quote to myself anytime I have a problem.  Knowing God is listening and watching over me as I go through life gives me great peace.  Even when I do not understand what is happening in my life, I know God knows and he will guide me to make the right decision as long as I trust in him.  It is my hope someone else might get a blessing from reading these verses.  It may seem long, but it may help someone who is just starting a walk with the Lord.  It might help them through some things I had to learn the hard way.  Time to get back to the story.

    We went to the restaurant.  Making small talk on the way.  He had been saved at a revival and then went back to work driving a truck.  He did not really have a church that he belonged to.  He did have a Bible and had been reading.  The first thing he asked me was how come he was not growing as a Christian.
That is something many of us deal with as Christians. I am not a super wise person but I feel the answer I gave him was inspired because I definitely am not a farmer either.  The answer went something like this.

    Becoming a Christian is something being a plant.  Somewhere, somehow or someway someone planted a seed in our heart that has started to take root.  Our paths had been led in a way that we were ready to receive that fertile seed.  Once it was planted it started to grow.  When a farmer plants a field he goes for a long time and he sees nothing in his field.  He knows he tilled it and he knows he planted it.  Yet he must wait to see any fruit from his work.  Sooner or later he will look out at his field and see a lot of very tiny blades of green sticking up out of the soil. The farmer planted in good faith that what he planted would grow.  As the blade grows it gets sunlight and water continues to grow. Sunlight is like the Word of God in our lives. If we get plenty of it we will continue to grow.  We may not sense it and we may not feel it, but we are growing. Sooner or later we will get to the point we know some scripture and feel a little more mature in our walk. We will sprout a couple leaves and really start absorbing the Word. The key to growing is to keep reading and fellowshipping with other Christians.  One way to quickly stop growing is to try and do it all on our own. Jesus told us, where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

      Sometimes we have to work alone or be alone, but that does not mean we are alone.  John made that clear in 1st John 2:27,  "The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him."  The Bible makes clear that as long as we stay in God's Word he will guide us into all truth.  Anytime we do fellowship with others we should weigh what we hear against the Word of God.  Also when we find verses that teach us and help us grow we should try to memorize them.  If we can not do that we need to at least write them down.  

      My Bible is filled with places that are highlighted.  Sometimes just a verse here and there and in some places whole chapters.  Also the empty filler pages in the back and front of my Bible contain listings of book and verse numbers with a few words to remind me what it references.  At first I was scared to mark in my Bible but then I read in Jeremiah 23:18 and it said to mark His Word and after that I may have gotten a little crazy with it.  As I tell people I meet,  "I am a toter, not a quoter."  That means I almost always have a Bible with me.  Finding a verse and letting the person read it themselves is what I prefer to do.  Then it is the Bible speaking and not me. The thought of misquoting the Bible bothers me.

     Over the next three to four hours we talked a lot.  That day I truly felt I had found the meaning of John 3:8.  Making ourselves available for God to use us is part of growing.  As I told him when we were parting company.  "Just keep reading and sooner than you realize it you will be a full grown Christian.  It will sneak up on you and one day you will realize you are sharing verse and teaching others. As you continue to grow like a stalk of corn you will find you have several ears growing.  Each ear will have seeds and they will be sharing what you shared with them.  Then some day sooner or later it will be harvest time.

     Before parting company I gave him a book marker with several verses that helped me grow as Christian over the years and which kept me growing and moving forward.  Here are a few that I find valuable and why I do.

     Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Notice what it says. It says His people are destroyed.  Not the pagans and heathens, but those who know him.  Why are they destroyed? They do not take the time to learn and know His Word and obey it. Reading through verse 11 it lays out some of the things that cause people to falter.

      II Chronicles 16:9  The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.   

This verse makes clear that the Lord is looking for people to bless.  He does not want anybody to perish.  The key is having a heart for God and wanting to serve him.

So what does God expect from us.  He makes it clear in the book of Micah, and is reinforced in Ecclesiastics.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Ecclesiastics 12:13
13 Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man

One thing we have to do is forgive others.  Most people know the Lord's Prayer. It is the sixth chapter of Matthew.  What many people do not understand is that forgiveness is conditional.  You must give it, to receive it.

Matthew 6:14-18  14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you,  They have their reward. 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

If we want to live a truly free life we need to follow what John said about the matter, 

John 8:31-32  31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

James makes clear what Jesus taught on the matter.  It is not enough to just hear the Word of God.  We must put it into action. The following two quotes make that pretty clear.

James 1:25-27  25Whoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world

James 2:14-16  14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

There is a story in Mark that makes clear that even Jesus can't heal if there is no faith. In reading I found in my years of reading that Jesus marvelled two times.  Once at unbelief and once at belief the two stories follow.  One shows what happens when there is a lack of faith and the other when there is faith.

Mark 6:1-6  1And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary,  the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.  4But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Matthew 8:5-13  5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

The prophet Haggai gives an example of what many people experience in their daily lives.  Notice at the end of the quote it says consider your ways.

Haggai 1:6  6Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.  7Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

The prophet Malachai which is the last book of the old testament explains why what Haggai says happens and how to cure the problem.  Remember the earlier verse it said the Lord goes about seeing who he might bless.  The blessing is conditional if you remember.

Malachai 3:8-12 (and the rest of the Chapter)
8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  11And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.  12And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

One of the first things Jesus does in the New Testament is show what happens when one believes. When you read this consider what Peter's attitude must have been.  He was a professional fisherman and he had worked all night and caught nothing.  Yet when Jesus asked him to cast his nets he did it. He may not have thought he would catch anything, but the key to the story is that he obeyed and that is what God seeks of us is obedience to His Word. What did it say in Malachai?  The windows of heaven would be opened and that is what happened in this instance.

Luke 5:1-9
1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God,  he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken

Timothy makes it clear that if we are blessed in life we have a duty to share what we have with others.  We have it solely by the Grace of God.  How we handle what we are given determines our outcome.  

1Timothy 6:17-21 17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  21Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Jesus made clear it is not enough to just call on him, but our actions must be reflected in what we do. He gave two examples.  They sound similar but they both can enlighten us as to how we should walk as Christians.  In the first quote he says many will claim to done what he said.  In the second quote he explains how they came up short.

Matthew 7:21-27
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them,  I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 25: 31-46

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

I hope these verses help in understanding what God wants of us.  It is easy to read it, but applying it takes an act of commitment to do what God says we should do.  I will close with one final verse.  Read it close.  It is worded different in some versions of the Bible.  The King James Version is the one this quote is taken from.  Who does it say will make you prosperous? Note that it is conditional to observing and doing all that is written in God's Word.  Our success in life is dependent on our relationship with God. It is not all about the physical stuff we have in life.  It is about knowing we are in a good relationship with God and that he is the author of our salvation.

Joshua 1:8  8This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.  9Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things Are Getting Better? Really?


 One has to wonder what makes the media think things are getting better.  The Congress is still not doing its job and is offering no solutions that might make things better down the road.  If anything they have taken the Ostrich approach and stuck their collective head in the sand.  They are hoping things will magically fix themselves because they sure have no clue how to do it.

  One argument is that the housing market is getting better.  It may have that appearance if all you are basing it on is the number of foreclosures being down and market prices being up.  That might be true if another downturn in the market was not just around the corner.  If Congress does nothing the budget cuts agreed to by Congress in its last debt limit fiasco will take effect.  The first effect will be the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.  That means more people on unemployment which means a return of rising foreclosures. 

Unless Congress is going to make unemployment a permanent entitlement, it or the lack of it will start the next downturn.  Making it a permanent entitlement will destroy the economy by pushing the debt level skyward.  If not as more and more people fall off of unemployment they will lose the cushion that kept them in their homes.

One of the biggest potential drains on the economy has not been fully realized.  It will soon start to take its toll.  Hundreds of thousands of college graduates and students can’t find meaningful employment.  That means all the debt they owe will soon become a burden on the banks and the government.  Budgets based on the repayment of that money will be thrown into chaos.  Also many of those students will move back in with their parents who are struggling themselves.

 Some will argue that the market is doing better.  That is a delusion.  The problems that happened because of the last economic collapse have not been fixed. The only thing pushing the market up is the institutional investments.  Money poured into the markets because it has nowhere else to go.  Putting money in savings accounts or bonds will give absolutely no return on one’s investment.

In a year and a half to two years my wife’s retirement lost almost 50% of its value during the last market collapse.  Nothing has been done to prevent that from happening again.  The money lost the last time has not magically reappeared.  Some argue that the stocks have recuperated.  That is fine, but where is all the lost money and income.  It is still gone and will not be given back

Many investors are forced to invest in the market through their employer’s retirement programs.  The employers have not fixed the problem.  They can’t as long as the system remains broken.  Sooner or later the market will tank again and people’s retirement accounts will tank along with it.  Congress is not taking any action to fix the problems.  They would rather point fingers than do anything constructive to fix the problems.

Congress has taken no action to rein in the debt or at a minimum freeze spending to stop the runaway deficit increase.  They argue that as the economy gets better the debt will go down.  The only problem with that theory is there has to be a stimulus to make the economy grow.  That will require the creation of jobs.

While Congress contends they can’t create jobs without increasing spending.  They can encourage business investment by creating a more secure investment environment.  They can close loopholes in the system and create a better and fairer tax system that does not favor one group over another.

One of the biggest and most important things Congress can or could do is realize who the money they are spending belongs to.  They need to wake up to whose futures they are destroying with their incompetence.  The money they are spending belongs to the American taxpayers and their children. It does not belong to the Federal government even though they spend it like it does.  They need to look at every dollar they spend as belonging to someone else, because it does.  They need to make sure each dollar they spend benefits every American equally.  If it does not benefit every American it is pork.

Building roads can benefit every American regardless of where they live. It can help reduce the cost of traveling which can reduce the cost of goods they consume that come from other parts of the country.  Money spent to support the countries like Pakistan who hates us is wasteful and not in the interests of the American people.  Every dollar needs to be looked at. 

Fixing the budget will require some tough spending cuts.  Some people will be hurt by them.  Yet if done properly and if what America does spend is spent wisely America can get back on its feet.  Spending American money on money borrowed from foreign countries is not a good investment of American money.  Regardless of how low the interest rate is.  That money could be spent in America to build infrastructure and create jobs.  The problem is that Congress on its own will not make these changes.  It will take Americans getting involved and forcing their representatives in government to do the right thing.

If Americans fail to do so they will pay a price that I am sure they do not want to pay.  When the whole house of cards collapses it will force them to force the government to change.  That will be done because they will have no income to pay taxes and support the system we now have.  Sooner or later, it will collapse.  It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when.  If we keep on the path we are headed down it will not be long coming.