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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Christian Nation? With No Time For God

                                     Making Time for God
     Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment.  On the way I had lunch at a Chick Fil-A restaurant. It was my first time ever eating at Chick-Fil-A. It was so packed I had to work to find a parking space. That made me worry that I might be late, but it was fast and the service was awesome.  The atmosphere was also nice. My main reason for going was to see if there really was any difference between it and the rest of the main stream restaurants. Having a reputation for a Christian atmosphere it came through.  What I like about their chain is that they honor the Word of God and are closed on Sundays.  Yet they are one of the top rated restaurants.

    There is a certain irony about my taking so long to try one of their restaurants. My job for almost five years was hauling chicken out of Alabama to Indiana.  At that time I was reading my Bible 2 ½ hours a day, tithing my time to the Lord, and knew of their reputation, but I was too busy to stop.  Then during my years of over the road trucking I had many opportunities, but I always chose the restaurants I knew.  My philosophy is go with what you know, especially when it comes to food.

     A few years ago I wrote about why the American minimum wage should be fifteen dollars.  Sometime later it became a hot topic.  It was argued against and talked about by Forbes Magazine and several other major publications.   Protest sprang up and people started picketing.  What made it neat for me is that after looking at search engines online, the oldest articles I could find were way after my article.  That means my article may be the one that stimulated the conversation in the marketplace.  That is totally cool, but it misses the point I was trying to make. 

     It is not about the amount of the wages per hour, but about the standard of living that America has fallen to over the years.  One member of a household supporting the household has become the exception not the rule.  When I was growing up one person working to support their family was the norm.  Sure many families did have both members working, but one person could support their family if they managed properly.  Today it isn’t about management.  It is about a lack of buying power for the labor a person puts forth.  

     When I was growing up hardly anybody worked seven days a week.  There was nothing open on Sunday.  Sunday was a day of rest.  A day when the nation went to church and thanked God for the Blessings they had received.  There were no stores open to go to on Sunday.  There were no Wal-Marts, Targets, Lowe’s or Home Depot.  They may have existed when I was growing up, but they had not gone national yet.  A few years ago I took out one of my college textbooks from the late 70’s.  It had a list of the Top Ten retailers in America.  Only three of them were still on the list.  Many of the biggest ones today were not even mentioned.  They have made it big since that point in time.

    It is interesting is that the moral decline in America has been almost inversely proportional to the growth of business in America.  When I grew up you had a choice on Sunday between church and fishing.  On a good Sunday you did both.  The man that used to take me to church with him and his son was a Christian Business man and would never have considered opening his business on Sunday.  Yet after church we would often drive two hours to a place called Toto’s, which was a general retailer that sold almost everything.  We often went to state parks also.  Later in life I remember driving the back roads of the south on Sundays and seeing people spending the day on their porch and reading their Bible’s or playing music.

      As the Sunday retail business grew in America.  The churches declined.  Blue Laws that banned being open on Sundays were repealed all over the country.  Lotteries were started in many states. Again it was almost inversely proportional to the decline in Christian values in America.  My question is can or could America return to those standards.  It seems to me we have reached a point where the decline may not be able to be turned around.

       The Bible in Romans 1 says God will eventually be fed up with man and basically give up on him.  Verses 18-32 are a pretty good description of the country we live in today.  As Christians can we turn our back on evil like it is not there.  It is there and it must be confronted.  The question is how to do that.  We are so far down the road it will take almost physical warfare to turn it around, but if we are at that point in time and God has given up, can it be turned around.

       There certainly is a shortage of those willing to stand up and testify of their faith in God.  Even fewer are willing to step into the fight.  Or try to put forth laws that might bring us back to the point where God is in charge.  Where we can honestly say as our money does, “In God We Trust.”  Today’s churches are filled with apathy, not zeal. It is a sad thing to say. Yet it says where things are headed unless leaders stand up that can turn it around.  Can it even be turned around.  I don’t know, but I know saying nothing is a sure way to see that nothing happens.  Nothing will happen unless people are convicted and nobody will be convicted unless somebody shows what is wrong.  The only measuring stick is the Word of God.  That is exactly what everything will inevitably be measured by.  Very few people know what the Bible really says in this day and age, but God makes it pretty clear in Hosea, which is probably a good place to leave it. Notice he did not say the heathen or the lost. He said “My people,” are you one of his people?

                                              Hosea 4:6
     My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Escape Wage Slavery

                            Escaping Wage Slavery
     Recently I had a grandson complain to me about a customer who paid him for a pizza all in small change.  He said the person had divided it all into baggies with a dollar in each bag.  We took different things away from the same story.   He was frustrated by the event.  To me it showed why so many people in this country are struggling to survive.  That person did all that work to get “one” pizza.  That same money spent at the grocery store could have bought healthy meals for three or four days for two people.  Of course the person may have had that stuff and just not wanted to cook.

    My grandson should have been happy the person chose to buy a pizza and thereby help him have a job.  The person who bought it may have just been having a short day, but it shows a sign of a management problem.   He could have bought a bag of frozen chicken breasts, a five pound bag of potatoes and several cans of corn and green beans. Maybe he would even have had enough left to buy a head of lettuce to make a healthy salad.  Of course that would have required him to put forth the effort to prepare and cook his own meal.

   The point I am trying to make is that being broke comes from the choices we make in life.  In America the majority of the people are in debt to someone, the bank, the government or some retailer who gave them credit or worse yet a credit card. The word credit implies that you have honor and have a record of paying back that which you borrow.  The problem is that in this day and age to many creditors are more than willing to lend.  They don’t really care if you can pay it back as the system is on their side.  You have placed yourself in bondage to the lender.  That is what Bible calls being in debt.  Another way of saying it is that, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” 

     It is far easier to get into slavery to the lender, than to manage your affairs and stay out of debt.  For every dollar you owe, you have to make two dollars.  You have to make one to pay the creditor and you have to make one for yourself to live on.  This all sounds very simplistic, but every decision you make affects your long term working status.  Being frugal with your money today means you have more left for tomorrow.  Therefore you don’t have to work as hard, just to survive.

    If you practice at being frugal you will have money left to invest.  That does not mean putting it in a bank either.  You may simply have the money to buy, say a piece of furniture.  If you get it cheap enough you can resell it and make a profit.
Or you may simply get the item at a far cheaper price than buying it new.

      Recently I bought a new car, actually a newer car.  The dealer knew I had the money to buy a brand new one if I chose to.  The problem for him is that I didn’t choose to.  When he asked me why I simply explained to him my ego did not require me to buy a brand new car that would lose $5,000 to $6,000 dollars in value the minute I drove it off the lot.  I bought a used one with less than 20,000 miles on it that still had dealers warranty on it.  My goal now is to sell it by 80,000 miles so I can sell it with warranty left on it which will make it sell easier and get me a better price.  The money I get back out of my equity in the car will make the down payment on my next, almost new car.

      If your ego requires you to buy a brand new car go for it.  My goal is simply to have a car that I pay as little as possible for.  Some people I know will not make a payment on a car.  If they can’t pay cash they don’t want it.  As I have a pension I will make the payment and know that the warranty will probably take care of any major maintenance.  That is one thing you do not get when you buy paying cash.  Each of us has to decide which is more important to us.

     So why am I writing this. It may take me a couple paragraphs to explain. Years ago I had a son in law who lived on a $10 and hour salary and took care of my daughter, and three kids.  He managed to save and buy most of the materials at sales to build a new house over a period of years. When he did decide to build it he had instant equity in their new home.  They only had to borrow about $40,000 dollars, he put in the labor himself and they had about $80,000 dollars equity that made them look real good on paper.  Needless to say the payment on the $40,000 was a lot cheaper than it would have been on $120,000.  At the same time I was making seven to eight times what he was and struggling to survive.  It is about managing what you have, not making more.

     Our credit union has a program whereby you can put up you savings as security for a loan.  You can’t spend that money as long as it is securing the loan, but if you have it in savings spending it was not the goal to start with.  The benefit of buying a car this way is that the credit union continues to pay you interest on the money.  So in reality the 3% car loan may really be at only 1%.  That makes for a tremendous savings.  If that car still has dealer warranty on it, it is a win, win situation.

     The key is making your money work for you instead of you working for your money.  That takes time and planning to accomplish, but almost anyone can do it.  If you don’t do it you will continue to be a slave to the lender who is living high on the hog on your dollar by simply practicing what is explained in this post.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Youth the Key to Defeating Terrorism

                                     Youth the Key to Defeating Terrorism

    Lately I have been overwhelmed by circles and the phrase, “The Good Die Young” has been stuck in my head.  Circles I have discovered in the Bible and also circles in my own life.  Things seem to always end up back where they started.  The Bible says it plainly in the verse, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” As it was at the beginning so will it be at the end.

    The last couple of weeks I have been doing a lot of traveling and have had the idea of circles reinforced in my mind, but my view of them has changed.  They are part of life.  Jesus predicted that it would be that way. Jesus said in the end it would be as in the days of Noah and it truly is.  The first part of Genesis 6 lays out why God destroyed the world as it was in that day.  Sad part of that is that it could pretty well describe the world we live in today.

    One thing I discovered is what seems evil and wrong at the time does not mean the good things in life end.  Recently I had the opportunity to visit with a young man who is the son of one of my closest friends.  My friend, the young man’s Dad, was killed in a plane crash in March 1973.  The last time I saw Kenneth he was three years old.  Last week I got to meet him again after 40+years.  He has grown into a fine and caring individual, which is a perfect description of his Dad. The goodness was in him before his Father passed away. Sure there were other influences in his life, but I have a couple other experiences in life that make me believe what I just said.

     My niece’s Mom passed away from Leukemia when she was barely four years old.  I knew her Mom and she was a good and caring person.  Andrea is very much the same kind of person, maybe to a fault.  The goodness was there from her youth, again there were others in her life, but the goodness was already there.

    Finally in August of 2010 my youngest daughter passed away after a seven year battle with a brain tumor.  Glenda was a nurse, a mother of three and an awesome person.  At her memorial service it was made clear to me how awesome she was. While only being 32 years old dozens of people testified to me she had affected their lives in some way.  I know her children already had good hearts and will grow up to be good people.

     Some may say I am beating my own drum but I think I have just had a revelation of sorts. On the news I have seen footage of ISIS soldiers and they were smiling and joking and reminded me of the soldiers I knew and served with in Vietnam.  They believe they are serving God and that will make them hard to beat.  Recently though I saw a young man who had left ISIS. He had the faith of Islam explained to him by people who told him the errors of the “Terrorist” point of view.  He changed his mind and his way, as could happen to many other young men.  It is youth seeking the truth that will tilt the scale against terrorism.

     ISIS is a fundamentalist group that relies on the ignorance of their soldiers to keep them in line.  America needs to encourage an enlightening of the soldiers.
We need to pray that others also will walk away of their own accord.  We can’t win a war that costs us millions of dollars per killed combatant.  We need to change the hearts and minds of the combatants and it is not America that is going to do it.

     America is ignorant when it comes to the mindset of other countries.  Afghanistan could have been over in weeks had America told the Afghan people that we were the ones who provided them with the means to beat the Russians and that Al Qaida had used them.  They would have tracked Al Qaida down and wiped them out.

      The problem was that we got caught up in trying to change the Taliban.  We did not care what they were doing before 9/11.  So why did we care afterwards? That double minded point of view is what has destroyed America’s credibility.  If we had just used the truth as a weapon the war would have been over years ago.

     As for Iraq it should never have happened to start with and if it did, it should have been at the end of the first Gulf War. Then we had the justification and failed to follow up on it.  It is exactly what most of our problems have come from in that area. We try to impose our will and our values on a people with a completely different mindset.  Our only common bond is our belief in God.  How we believe may be different, but Abraham is still Abraham and we need to convince them to believe all the prophets, not just the ones that meet our agenda.

      The problem with this point of view is that America is not willing to stand up for the God it says it believes in. Soldiers are not allowed to share their faith with the people in the countries they serve in.  That is one thing that has to change.  Our state of perpetual war that we seem to be in does not reflect the Christian values this nation was and is founded on.

      Revelation of our need to follow God’s Word will save this country. That will only come from the youth.  Our Christian values have eroded so far that we may no

longer be able to contain or stop the erosion.  Standing for Christian values is becoming a fanatical point of view.  At least that is what a very vocal minority would have America believe.  We can’t legislate morality.  We can, however, still testify why we believe what we believe.  The cost to us as a nation and a people if we fall short is a very high price to pay.  Unfortunately preachers and teachers who truly know the Word of God and are willing to speak it and teach it are few and far between in this day and age.

     The Bible says in the last days God will become frustrated with the hypocritical and lying people and will give them over to a reprobate (back sliding) spirit and let them sin all they want before he pours out his wrath on them. That is a pretty good description of the world today.

    Our only hope is in the goodness of the youth today.  They however are tired of listening to and seeing bigoted and hypocritical adults and leaders that do not practice what they preach. A strong leader can reach them, but there is a shortage of that kind of person in this day and age. At this point there is still hope though. I like to think there is anyhow.

First Peter says,
        5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

    The only way the youth can stand up for right is to be taught what is right and that is not happening in very many churches in this day and age.  The Bible says in the end there will be a great falling away.  It is my belief we are living in that time. When I was growing up in my hometown there were three large Catholic churches. Today there is one. If you do any traveling at all you will see old and abandoned churches all across America.  The verses above tell why and how that is happening.  Satan is as real as you and I.  He is if you believe the Bible and that it is true.  Satan will use any venue to destroy mankind that he can.  Today it is ISIS.  They can still be defeated.  Evil like anything else needs to be supported to flourish.  If the funds are cut off and all those that supply weapons and ammunitions are forced to stop supplying them, Satan will become a toothless dragon.  Yet he will still be able to destroy the world morally unless the Christians stand firm in their faith and do as they were called upon to do by Christ himself. Share His Word.  To do so we must know His Word.  Here is one thing in parting we must know and understand.

Revelation 12:9
9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

      They are real and spiritual warfare truly exists in this world.  Until Christ comes and claims his own the battle is on.  Unfortunately America is losing that battle because Satan caters to our greed, lusts and desire to do our own thing.  To win we have to not only submit to God, but lift him up and share him with the world that they might know they are being deceived.  Of course that requires many of us to change our ways and we are not ready or willing to make that sacrifice. Especially, old people who are set in their ways.  It requires the zeal that comes from being young, strong and willing to stand for what you believe in. That is why youth is the key.  They are also open to learning the Truth and changing for the better.  They are the world and America’s only hope.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Terrorism Will Lose

              Why Terrorism Will Lose

    When you look at the world we live in today it is sometimes hard to see signs of hope.  Even Jesus painted a pretty grim picture in Matthew 24:4-14, at the end he said that those that held fast would be delivered.  We are having all the signs he predicted and with Ebola having made it to America one could see things as being pretty bleak.

     Many years ago before I became a Christian I had an experience that gave me hope for mankind.  All I have to do is look back on that day and know that no matter how bad things seem, evil will be defeated.  I discovered that truth in a bar, not in a church.  That is not discounting religion and the parties involved did not share their religious background, but they did share what they believed.

    The event happened at a sky diving competition in Strasbourg, France.  All the parties involved were there for a skydiving competition.  The day it all happened started out with an overcast and rain.  At 10 AM the competition organizers called it a day and cancelled any further activities based on the weather forecast. It was a good call as it rained all day and continued till late in the evening.

    The competition was an international one with almost thirty nations represented.  Skydivers do what they do because they love it.  The second thing they like to do, especially when they can’t jump is drink beer.  After a very short time the word got out that jumpers were going to a small local bar within walking distance of the airport.  Suddenly the better part of three hundred jumpers descended on a small bar that was probable designed to handle fifty.

    By early afternoon the poor owner had to resupply as he was out of food, drink and beer. Shortly more inventory showed up and defused the tension caused by the lack of supplies.  Little did he know that this crisis would happen twice more before he was allowed to close the bar at five the next morning.  The owner probably made more money that day than he normally did all year.  Especially as almost every party left a very generous tip to compensate him for our unwillingness to leave at the midnight closing time.  We were just starting to manage the language problems by midnight.  When we left at five in the morning no one was drunk in spite of the alcohol consumed over the nineteen hour occupation of the bar.

    One of the first hurdles we had to get over was the political representatives for the communist bloc states.  They did not jump and we made it clear this party was for skydivers only and they would have to leave.  They argued but after a while gave in and left.  Then things opened up and got to be really enjoyable.

    As I said skydivers love to party.  It was a party that had a minor twist. Of course there were French, but also Germans, Swiss, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Czeck, Norwegians, Belgians, Dutche, Americans, British, and Canadians to name a few. If I wanted to talk to the Norwegian, I had to talk to the Spaniard who talked to the Russian, who talked to the Norwegian.  Then after translation it had to travel back through the same channels.  The only problem was all those who spoke the languages being used wanted to put in their two bits on any topic that came up.

       We quickly agreed to dump nationalities and just have a serious talk about what we as people felt on the issues and problems in the world.  At the end we all parted friends and had solved all the world’s problems.  The conclusion was reached that all of us wanted the same things out of life.  To be able to support our families, have a decent job, eat well, and have a decent home.  The unanimous decision was also reached that we the people of the world could get along with each other.  What we needed to do was get rid of all the meddling governments and bureaucrats and there would be no problems.

      When I saw all the youth protests in the Middle East a couple years ago and some of the ones that have followed since I realized there is hope. The world is changing and generally for the better.  Regardless that a few radical terrorist are acting out.  They will be reined in. They do not represent the views of the people in the countries they are terrorizing.  The people will get upset and they will take care of the trouble makers.  The majority are good and sound people.  The terrorist do not represent Islam any more than a cop shooting a black boy in Missouri represents what America is about.

     We just have to remember Jesus said there would be signs and what we are seeing is nothing more than signs.  In the end God’s Will, will be done.  Regardless of what anyone in the world thinks on the matter. His Word is final and will be fulfilled in the end of things.