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Friday, November 29, 2013

America, Blessed Beyond Measure?

                   Blessed Beyond Measure

      At Thanksgiving many of us like to take measure of the blessings in our lives.  Last night as I sat playing a board game with my grandchildren I had a unique experience.  Other family members were in the living room watching the prerecorded Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It struck me as funny because till that point I had not realized the difference in this Thanksgiving.  The TV had not been on all day and everybody had been enjoying time together.

       To me the Macy’s Parade had always epitomized what was wholesome and good about America.  Yet as I sat at the kitchen table and watched it unfold something different was happening.  Maybe it was just my perspective, but some of the so called entertainment bordered on the decadent.  They proclaimed their pride.  It made me think of what the Bible says on the matter. Pride goes before the fall. As I watched it I could not help but think of a chapter in the Bible that talks about the Blessings and Curses that befall nations based on their relationship to God. It is found in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy.   Over the years I have seen America move from the totally blessed part of the chapter to the cursed part.  It is not my imagination and anyone that takes the time to read it will see what I am talking about.

     The irony to me is that it has been one of the most blessed years of my life. It has not been only from a financial perspective, but also from a spiritual perspective. My eyes have been opened to all the real blessings in my life. As I have been cleaning out and reorganizing my room to move a great-nephew in with me it has made me see even more how blessed I am.

    Part of getting the room ready to move a fourteen year freshman in with a sixty-seven year old required some serious downsizing.  I cleaned out and my dresser and took it to St. Vincent de Paul.  Cleaning out the closet I got rid of my leather jacket from my biker days.  It was only about thirty years old, but fit my high school senior grandson who just signed up to enter the Army after he graduates.  My field jacket which was closer to forty years old fit my youngest grandson.  It also required getting rid of tons of other clothes.  I had size 38 and 42 jeans in my closet that still had the tags on them.  I wear a size 48, down from size 50.  Also got rid of all the X, XL, and 2X clothes that I couldn’t or can’t wear anymore.

      Then I started on books knick-knacks and other miscellaneous stuff.  It ended up being about five boxes this time.  Several other boxes went to the Lord’s Warehouse a few weeks ago.  People have asked me are you dying.  Not any more than anyone else.  It is just that I finally realized someone could get some use out of all the stuff I have been hoarding for no good reason.

      My wife knows I am trying to lose weight and asked me if I wouldn’t be able to wear the clothes at some point.  My answer was simple I will get new ones that fit.  That brings me to the other part of my blessing.  A couple years ago I filed for compensation for Agent Orange which I was exposed to during my tour in Vietnam.  It was finally approved and has required me to make some major adjustments to our lifestyle. 

        Over the last couple years I have been fortunate enough to have been in the position that I had to give away almost a hundred thousand dollars.  No it was not my money.  Our church died from attrition.  We were down to six of seven people and some Sundays the preacher only had three or four people to preach to.  We finally voted to close the doors.  It was not because the church did not have the money.  We had plenty of money.  I have to wonder though if the money had been spent while the church was still alive, if maybe it might have survived.  We sold the building and contents and then had to give the money away. 

      There is a certain irony to this situation as years before I had urged the spending of the money and did not have the position in the church to make it happen, but due to attrition the duty fell to us younger members to deal with the funeral arrangements.  It was always ironic to me that the church was dedicated on December 7th, 1941.  Yes it was being dedicated at the very moment the attack was taking place on Pearl Harbor.  Another factor that added to that irony was that I was born on Pearl Harbor Day in 1946.

      The point I am trying to make is that America is such a Blessed nation and yet we about to throw it all away because of greed and incompetence.  America is so obsessed with having, but not with sharing.  Congress wants to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, by taking away the benefits that people need because of their incompetence. 

       As a Christian Nation we should understand the third chapter of Malachi. God said he would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great it could not be received.  It would only be received though by giving the tithes and offerings required by God.  That is something this nation has forgotten about over the last fifty to sixty years.  The book of Malachi makes clear that a day of reckoning is coming to any nation that turns its back on God.  Saying we are Christians does not make it so.  It requires actions to back it up.

      The many disasters that have hit America over the last few years have made it clear that the heart of America is still a giving and caring heart.  It is the head that is sick and taking America on a path that will end in our destruction.  God has always honored His Word.  Not only too bless, but also too judge.  It is time to wake up and get involved.  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Whoa, God!!!!

                             Whoa, God!!!!

      Have you ever had the feeling your no longer in charge of your life?  That is not a bad thing if you know who is in charge.  It is when you are aimlessly wondering that it gets problematic.  Then again if you are living according to John 3:8 that is the way things should be.  You need to be available to go where you are moved by the Spirit so He can work through you.

      The last month and a half my life has been like a roller coaster ride going uphill.  I keep thinking I have reached the top and then something else happens and it changes direction, but keeps going up.  Yesterday I did not know how I was going to solve a problem in my life and today that problem is solved.  Mainly because I followed where I felt the Spirit was leading me.

     I was sitting at my desk pondering how I could get hold of someone at the Road Angel and all of a sudden I realized I was doodling on one of their note pads.  It had been in my desk for almost ten years.  I don’t know when I got it out, but I tried calling and got no one but the answering machine.  That in itself was a good sign after ten years.  It is a little over a two hour drive from my house.  So I hopped in my new car, which is another blessing and another part of this story, and  went to the Road Angel Truckers Center in Brownstown, Illinois at Exit 68 off of I-70. 

     New people have taken over the helm and hope to get the Centre back up and running.  It has always been run by donations of time and money given by volunteers.  The new staff is determined to bring it back to the ministry it started out to be.  Before I had my heart attack, in January of 2004, I used to stop at the Centre often.   They used to feed as many as 40 to 50 people at a meal.  All the cooking, all the food, and all the work was done totally by volunteers.  The parking lot would often be entirely full.  My heart sank a little as I pulled into the lot and saw only one trailer with no truck.  Then I saw the open sign and all the cars and pickups and realized something was going on.   

    When I went inside it had changed a lot but the Spirit was still present.  I missed the wood burner and the couches in the lounge, but they had a gas fireplace in the Chapel area and I had the opportunity to meet some of the new staff and it was a rewarding experience on both of our parts.  We hashed over what we had done in our lives and figured out our lives had crossed paths many times over the years.  I also discovered all my years in logistics may not have been in vain.  All the work that needs to be done is not physical.  Thank goodness at 67 I am over all that.  Well I hope to be anyhow.

       Having just mixed the concrete and built a thirty-four foot long and three foot high cinder block wall, I can do it if I pace myself.  I would just like to think there are younger people who will take up that slack. There is a fence row on the property facing the interstate that needs to be cut down and cut up.  They are wanting to put up a new sign facing the highway.  The trees would block any view of it, so they have to go.

      Water, plumbing and electrical problems need to be addressed just to name a few things on their “to do” list.  My main goal in writing this is to let the truckers out there that used to stop at the Centre, it is back.  At least it is our goal to see it come back.  So if you are trucking on I 70 and are in the area you might want to stop in and meet the people and see what is going on.  Or even what they could use your help to get going.

       If you get the chance to stop by and say hi to Dock and May Hinman, tell them Turtle said Hi.  Well I got to get back on the road and take care of a few more things before the holiday is upon us.  Hopefully will be writing more, but then again I plan to spend a few days a week at the Centre trying to help get things off the ground. 

       Like I tell my wife, “I have absolutely nothing to do since I am retired, and I can’t find time to get it done.”

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beware of Self Righteousness

               Beware of Self Righteousness

If we have any righteousness at all in us it comes from God.  It is not from anything we have done or accomplished.  I had a comment on one of my posts that I would like to share with others.  As the person who wrote the post did not have the courage of their convictions I am going to use it as an example. The person chose to be anonymous.  That was probably a good decision.  As no one claimed the quote I am going to use it to make a point.

Hello: I am in the process of reading your book. The comments about Muslims, Jews and Christians being "family"--well there are only two kinds of people--you are either lost or redeemed. The lost belong to their father, the devil.. The redeemed have been ransomed by the Blood of Christ and they belong to the LORD. As a Redeemed believer, I am not family to the lost. I am family in the Kingdome of God. I pray you have a blessed day. on Is America's Cup Half Empty or Half Full?

First I want to thank the person for reading my blog and hope I do not make them to angry writing this.  The second point I want to make is that any and all of our righteousness, if we have any comes from God.  I got that from Isaiah 54:16-17

   “16Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.”

If you take the time to read it you will notice the waster(Satan) was created to serve God’s purposes.  Those who believe the once saved, always saved idea might take into account that at one point Satan lived in heaven, but he does not anymore.  

As for his concern with the family issue and our relationship to others he might take note.  We are all descended from Adam and Eve.  Genesis 25:9 says that Issac and Ishmael came together to bury their father.  So the Bible even says we are related.  That funeral may be the last time we were united, but we are related whether we like it or not.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:19 “we are to love our neighbor’s as our selves.  He also said in Matthew 5:20 that if our righteousness did not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees we would not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  The main shortcoming of the scribes and the Pharisees was that they thought they had it all together.  Jesus seemed to think otherwise.  The verse that changed my life was Matthew 6:15.  It is not enough to say the Lord’s Prayer.  We have to live it and verse 15 makes that very clear.

We are not called to condemn the lost.  They know they are lost in most cases and are not willing to change from their chosen life style.  We are called to reach out to the lost.  That is something I am not seeing in the commenter’s statement.

It is good to keep in mind Matthew 7:21, where Jesus said that not all that call on his name will be saved.  Those who are not walking in his light and doing what he did and commanded are coming up short.  They are going through the ritual, but they are not obeying the Word.

The point of my writing , ‘Is America’s Cup Half Empty or Half Full?” was to make the point that we are not going to change the world and make it the kind of place God meant for it to be unless we change how we relate to each other. Jumping up on our soapbox and spewing self-righteous views is not going to help a thing.  In fact all it does is increase the hatred and discontent.

When I was in the Army we had a saying, “Your either part of the solution, or your part of the problem.”  The comment from my reader says he is part of the problem, not part of the solution.  It does not mean he does not care.  It just means he needs to look at all his actions. 

I learned this the hard way.  I used to whiz around the country hauling produce at 75 and 80 miles per hour with a sign on the back of my trailer that said.  “Know Jesus. Know Peace…No Jesus, No Peace.  One day a person commented that I was not setting a very good example as a Christian.  I hate to say it, but he was right.  All of our actions reflect our walk with the Lord, especially our choice of Words.

So my main comment to the comment on my blog is simply this. Quit hoarding God’s Love to yourself and share it with others it will change your life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reality versus Market

                        Reality versus Market

      As the stock market passed the 16,000 mark today I had to wonder what the stock market has to do with reality.  It definitely can effect a person’s retirement when it crashes.  My wife retired in January 2009 and lost almost half of her retirement money.  On March 9 of 2009 the market hit a record low of 6547.05.  That means the market is almost 2 and 1/2 times what it was at the low point.  What it has shown me is that the market has absolutely no relationship to the health of the economy.  All it shows is how much someone who is invested in the market might lose if the market crashes again.

     As institutional investors have nowhere else to put their money that might make a return on their investment it gets kind of scary.  The government has taken virtually no steps to improve the job market or to ensure that the crash of 2008 does not or can’t happen again.  It has been basically, business as usual and the scary part of that is that the few actions they have taken may collapse the economy again.

    Obamacare has pushed many employers into letting people go, or reducing their hours so they are part time help and exempt from the requirements under the new law. Obama’s statement that people would be able to keep their present health care policies has proven to be one of the biggest lies ever told to the American people.
Millions of people have been forced from the ranks of the ensured as their employer’s figure out how to deal with the transition.  Those who have managed to keep their jobs are paying much higher costs for the medical coverage.  Thanks to Obamacare.  My daughter’s share of the bill went from 10% to 20%.  Her co-pays increased tremendously.  So did mine and my wife’s co-pays.  Where is the savings.  Family policies have gone through the roof cost wise.

     Millions of Americans are being forced to make the decision of how they will pay the mandatory insurance required by law.  Fines and even jail time are threats most Americans take seriously.  The very fact that our government has become a threat to our individual freedom might show us something is wrong.

      As for the job situation, it does not have to be the way it is.  I have bunches of blogs on the topic.  Type in the word “jobs” in the search bar on my blog and you will find everything from how to create a job, how to survive without one and what the government can do to fix the problem.  You will discover how the government could be preparing for a major disaster that will make Katrina look like a cake walk.

      The one thing that can stimulate the economy the most is for the little guy to start spending his money.  That is not going to happen as long as the little guy feels insecure about where his future is going.  The few actions being taken by the government are only making the problem worse, not better.

      It might be a good idea to start looking out for the next economic collapse.  It is something that based on what I see going on looks a lot more possible than a recovery.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Agent Orange: Tell a Vet

                   Agent Orange: Tell a Vet

        Sorry it has been so long since I wrote a post.  Events in my life have taken a strange turn and I have yet to determine if it is a Blessing or a Curse.  I had known for years that I had been exposed to Agent Orange.  I spent ninety days of my tour in Vietnam guarding some water pumps for the Air Force.  Thirty five of us were sent on this detail.  Every so often a helicopter would come out and spray the area around our camp.  We used to wave at the crew and they would wave back.  Little did we know they were spraying a potentially deadly toxin on us.

        About two and half years ago I attended a 4th of July Cookout at my best friend’s house. Many of the people attending were military retirees.  I did thirteen years and got out. In the course of the discussion a retired Lieutenant Colonel who was in the Air Force informed me that I was eligible for Compensation because I had a defibrillator.  It is one of the side effects of Agent Orange.  I did nothing about it till January of 2011.  Then I figured what the heck I would at least apply.

       After filing much paperwork and taking a physical.  Almost two years later I received my Agent Orange Compensation Award.  It included back pay to when I initially filed my application.  It came to a tidy sum of money and it is all tax free thanks a decision of the Supreme Court.  I have been busy the last month putting my affairs in order.  Not that I am dying.  Well I guess I am, but we all are and will sooner or later. Not only do I now have more money.  Now I have paid off the bills I had so I can live debt free and enjoy my remaining days.

       The reason I am writing this is that I know many Vietnam Era vets do not know that they are eligible for compensation.  The sad part is the government they served knows who is eligible for compensation.  The government is following an, if they don’t ask, don’t tell them strategy about the matter.  So my goal in writing this post is to spread the word.

        Unfortunately this is a practice followed by the government in many areas of compensation.  If everybody filed for what they are eligible for from the government the national debt would probably double or triple overnight.  This is something I have learned from watching friends and family get help. My twin premature grandsons got no help or compensation from the government.  Yet my premature twin great grand- daughters are getting compensation or assistance every month till they get caught up with the average child.  The difference is that one set of parents knew about the programs.  The others did not.  The government certainly does not spread the word.  It is the responsibility of the eligible party to apply for the help.

     I sincerely hope this helps someone get the assistance they are entitled to.  Please share it with any Vietnam Era Vets you might know.  Hopefully I will be getting back to writing and a fairly normal life.  Sorry for not sharing sooner why I have been gone from writing my blog.  Will keep this short so I can write a normal post.  Thanks again for reading and sharing.