Missing Something

Have you ever looked at the truth over and over again, and no matter how hard you look, you just can’t figure out how the truth is the truth?  What it boils down to is that you are missing something.  As many of you know, I hold God’s Word to be the ultimate truth.  So, given that, you can understand that when I read something that just doesn’t make sense no matter how many times I read it, you can understand my question.  “What am I missing?”

Well, I think I finally found what I was missing.  I hate to admit how much time I spent reading, and reading again.  I hate to admit how many times I asked God to reveal it to me.  I hate to admit that all the time my answer was staring me in the face.  The answer, and what I was missing was the passage of time.

Have you ever read a novel, and, even though you just ate, all of a sudden you feel incredibly hungry, as if you haven’t eaten for days?  As novels flow, you become aware of the passage of time.  Days are compressed into minutes of reading, and months compressed into hours.  So, why didn’t I realize that was happening in the retelling of the plagues Egypt endured in the Exodus recounting of the events?  I guess it comes from being so familiar with the story, and erroneously looking at it through the lens of our instant society.

Where I think I’ve gone wrong is in thinking it was 10 plagues in 10 days.  In the natural course of things these plagues had to have taken place over a much longer period of time.  Remember, I believe God’s Word is true, and when it doesn’t make sense to me, I just don’t understand the truth.  When you add the passage of much more time to the story, all of a sudden the things that were not making logical sense, begin to make sense.

So, what is the lesson to be learned here?  When you believe something is true, don’t give up on that truth simply because facts seem to contradict the truth.  And, don’t give up on the truth even if everyone around you thinks you for a fool.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for God’s truth, because in the end God’s truth and his Word are going to be the only thing left standing.  Do you think that takes more faith than you’ve got?  Consider this.

See if you can find the line in this worship song that I used to think would not happen in my lifetime.

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me

Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

(Chorus:)
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears & failures
Fill my life again

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender (I surrender)
(Chorus:) (2x)
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

(Bridge:) (2x)
Shine Your light &
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory
Of the risen King
Jesus

(Chorus)
You’re the Savior
You can move the mountains
Lord You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
You rose & conquered the grave
Yes You conquered the grave

(Bridge:)

[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/hillsong_united/mighty_to_save.html ]

If you picked the line, “He can move the mountains”, you are right.  Who would have thought that the entire Island nation of Japan could move 13-20 feet closer to the United States?  Is it really hard to believe that God can move the mountains anymore?

The bottom line is this.  Don’t miss the truth that God is mighty to save, and don’t miss the Truth because the facts as you see them don’t seem to support the Truth.  God is trustworthy, even when circumstances seem bleak.  Remember that Jesus was in fact crucified.  He died, and was buried.  Things seemed pretty bleak for Jesus’ followers, don’t you think?  And, after three days passed, he was raised to life again.  What seemed devastating, in an unforgettable moment became the story that has been told for generations.  That is the story of Easter, which we will celebrate in a few weeks.  It is the story that our Redeemer lives.   And as the hymn states, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.”

If Easter isn’t true, then everything I believe is a lie, and the entire world is without hope.  Since it is irrefutably true, it requires that I live my life with hope.  Not because the government will support me from cradle to grave, but because God has a plan for my life.  And that plan includes a life beyond what we can see and touch today.  If that realization doesn’t help give me hope in spite of what life dishes out, then nothing will.

Don’t miss it!

 

Stop Spending, Start Saving!

Unless you choose to put your head in the sand, it should be clear that we have created a problem of immense proportions.  Many of us, as individuals are in debt beyond what we can bear.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, we are in debt as a country beyond human comprehension.  Many, who see this problem compound it by trumpetting this debt as foreign debt.  While large chunks of it are, United States citizens either directly or through various mutual and other funds own a huge amount of that debt.  So I will acknowledge that is isn’t all foreign, or as big a problem with foreign influence as some will attempt to scare people with.

Let me be emphatically clear, however; that there are natural laws in place which no government on earth, powerful as it may be, can forever circumvent.

That natural law is that the borrower is servant to the lender.  Our Federal Government seems to forget that.  Oh, I know, we’ve eliminated slavery and forced labor here in the United States.  We’re the “land of the free, and home of the brave” after all.  Really?  No, not really!  Not until the United States owes less than it could pay off if it decided to do so, would it truly be free.  Until then, the United States is servant to its lenders.  And we, as citizens of this country, are not truly free either.  Our rugged individualism is eroding, and we are accepting dependence, if not outright reliance, on a growing, wasteful and inefficient government.

If you think that we can continue on this course without consequence, then you have not considered reality.  Do you think it isn’t possible to have a revolution in this country?  That we are too civilized?  Do you really think that the United States can afford another foreign war?  Or, a war within?  Where does war fit into this equation, you may ask?  Well, if China is not paid on the debt they own, would you put it past them to attack us?  Their military strength is growing.  Their population alone dwarfs the United States, so they could afford stunning human casualties.  To those who say our Federal Government would never default on it’s debt, may I remind you that the Federal Government forced the debt holders of General Motors to accept pennies on the dollar for their loans.  Is it any wonder that people and investors are hesitant to loan money, when the government seems willing to step in and force immense losses?  What’s to prevent our government from saying $14 trillion dollars of debt is really only $14 million dollars of debt, causing everyone who holds the debt to lose money?  If you say that can’t happen, then you haven’t looked at quantitative easing.  That’s just a fancy way of saying “printing money”.  If you print enough money, you can make $14 trillion dollars the equivalent of $14 million dollars today.

It is in this context that I share this article from Newsmax.com:

Democrats Play Chicken as Boehner Digs in on Budget

Thursday, 31 Mar 2011 01:27 PM

By David A. Patten and Matthew Belvedere

Michele Bachmann, John Boehner, budget. . .“Between Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Howard Dean, they let the cat out of the bag, and that’s that the Democrats’ political plan is to shut down government because they think they will benefit from doing that. Now we know that, if the government shuts down it’s not the tea party’s fault, it’s the Democrats’ fault, because they’ve made a decision they’re not interested in compromise. They just want to see the government shut down,” Backmann tells Newsmax. . . .

© Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Please click the link above and read the entire article.  Newsmax copyright policy limits a quote to 75 words or less, and we try to follow the rules around here.

One quote in particular caught my eye.

Boehner said he is glad that activists remain involved. But he cautioned that Republicans control just “one-half of one-third of the government here in Washington, we can’t impose our will on another body, we can’t impose our will on the Senate.” – Newsmax.com as above.

 

While this is true, “we the people” need to remind our elected officials that they derive their power from the consent of the governed, not from the position that they hold.

So, getting to the point of this post, let me address what it is that we need to do.  We need to stop spending at all levels.  We need to learn to make do with what we already have.  We need to learn to spend within our means, not outside of it just to keep up appearances.  Then, once all of that is under control, we need to start saving.  Now, if you’re like me, and I suspect you are, you are thinking that means more cuts in spending.  That’s right.  You have to cut spending even more to be able to afford to save.  Why go through this pain?  Why is it important to start saving, and not just be satisfied that debt is being paid down?  I’m glad you asked.  Saving not only forces you to spend less, it makes you wait for a major purchase.  It doesn’t mean you never make the purchase, it just means you have to wait.  Saving means that your entire outlook changes.  Instead of paying for things later, you pay for them before you buy them.

I’m going to interject a personal example here.  Almost 9 months ago now I purchased an iPad.  In the past, I would have gotten it right away if I wanted it.  I would have made all sorts of rationalizations about how I really needed it, when in reality, I just wanted the latest cool thing from Apple.  In this case, I waited for some time, partially because I really wanted to have an iPad with a camera.  However, there was another more important reason.  I actually assessed how I used my then current MacBook.   I realized that it spent most of its time tethered to an external monitor.  In other words it was essentially an iMac.  Upon further thinking, I realized that when I was using the MacBook as a laptop, I was primarily surfing the web, or checking e-mail.  Those are two things that the iPad is perfect for.  So, as a pragmatic step to get me to the point where I could replace my MacBook with an iMac, I went with an iPad.  Going this route put off a $2,000 purchase by at least a year, and only cost $800, a savings of $1,200.  Well, the reality is the savings is actually much higher.  I’ve shaved weight off of what I carry between home and the office each day.  Once we started thinking like this, we actually figured that we could rearrange  our existing iMac computers to put off a new purchase even longer.  That’s te good part about a Mac.  The only reason you feel the need for a new one, is if you make the mistake of using a new one and you see that faster is possible.  Otherwise, these things run circles around PCs.  My apologies to my friends who still think PCs are better, I know how hard it can be to admit there could be something better!

As you might be able to gather from my personal example, we didn’t stop spending altogether.  We simply didn’t go and get everything I wanted.  We figured out how to get more productivity out of what we already had, and how to extend the life of what we already had.  Some would even say if we wanted to save money, we should buy PCs instead.  At the risk of going down a rabbit trail, the cost savings on hardware is real.  However, after supporting Windows based PCs for over 20 years, and dealing with sudden an unexplained inability to find network printers, and other devices, sapping hours of productivity, it is refreshing to now deal with the occasional lost file.  Lost, not because it’s gone, but rather it was used on a different computer.  If it’s just a file, I can connect to every single Mac we own securely over our Virtual Private Network (VPN), and mount those hard drives on my own Mac, and search.  Or, if I don’t want to mount drives, I can log in to those Macs remotely and control the remote machine.  It works every time, unlike my Windows experience.  See, I told you it was a rabbit trail.

Before this becomes so long it takes two sittings to read, let me tie all of this together.  I started by talking about our personal, and then national debt problem.  We need to take responsibility for our own debt first, and then tackle the debt on a national basis.  That would be ideal.  However, we do not have that luxury.  We need to tackle both simultaneously.  If, our Federal government drops the ball and doesn’t reign in spending, then it will become even more important that we address our own debt issues.  Just as the Federal government wants to kick the can to the next generation and the next, we too want to put off paying for things today.  Part of us hopes we can pay off our debt with inflated dollars.  The only problem is that in so many other places our inflated dollars are buying less and less.  This is why we must demand the painful fiscal medicine, even though it will not taste good, feel good, or be enjoyable.  We must demand it or we will die a slow and painful death from 14 trillion microscopic paper cuts.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword!

The TEA Party on April 15th brought to mind some interesting things.  It took an e-mail I received today to remind me of one of the complaints that was raised as people were sharing at the TEA Party.  Someone spoke about churches and prayer, and being involved in community.  All things I agree with.  But, then the comment was made from the audience that the church is largely silent on the issues and voting.

STOP!

Why?  Why is the church largely silent on the issues of the day?  Do people really think that it is because churches do not care?  Or, more importantly that God does not care?

I submit that it is fear of men, more than the fear of God that keeps churches from speaking to culture today.  “How so?” you ask.  Well, with the threat of having the tax exempt status revoked for being politically active, and having the donations of members of the church being invalidated as deductible contributions, it becomes easier to see how there is a reluctance to speak out on any issue that appears to be political in nature.

As it stands now, Congress is proposing “hate crimes” legislation that would criminalize the Biblical view of homosexuality.  Make no mistake about it, homosexuality is a sin!  However, so is lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, gluttony, drunkenness, and more.  I haven’t even mentioned the “big one”, murder.

Should I be surprised that in a country that legalizes the murder of the innocent unborn, that we would try to rewrite other areas of God’s law?

So it is that I am hoping that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.  I am hoping that the message of repentance that the one crying in the wilderness some 2000 years ago is adopted today.  John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ.  Are you prepared for the return of Jesus Christ?  The last time Jesus Christ came to earth, he was born to die.  It was his death, and subsequent resurrection celebrated these past two weekends by millions of believers, that makes it possible for any of us to stand a chance before a holy and just God.  Jesus paid the price my sin deserved.  Has he taken care of that for you? or are you unprepared for his return??

Why am I so concerned?  Well, this time when Jesus returns to earth, it will not be to redeem–it will be to judge.  Most people I suspect think they are good enough.  Watch this, and then see what you think…

Do Not Be Deceived!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.  Galatians 6:7

For too long I was more concerned with what people will think about me.  As a result I was not willing to share God’s truth, since it seemed as if the country was turning its collective back on God.  As a country, we no longer fear God.  We hardly even fear government.  We thumb our nose at the law.  Our law is what we can get away with.  I say this, as I live it.

Case in point: speeding.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowed down, but I still routinely exceed the speed limit.  Instead of exceeding it by 20 to 40 mph, it is now 5-10 mph.  It becomes even more difficult on highways where the speed limit is still 55.  Nobody who wants to live actually drives 55, and 70 is the norm.  But this makes my point, namely that when we think a law is silly, or doesn’t apply to us, we break it.

And speeding is a simple law.  Then, when corporations engage in practices that break the law, we become irate.  We, who are lawbreakers ourselves.  Did you catch that?  It’s subtle.  We are only upset when somebody else breaks the law–not when we do.  We have become a nation of hypocrites.  Is it any wonder that we are represented by people who will say or do anything to win election after election?

We no longer do what is right by law, we do what is right in our own eyes.  It is said of Warren Buffett, that he doesn’t invest in something he doesn’t understand.  I wish I could apply the same principle to paying any form of taxes.  I don’t understand the tax system, and I don’t know how the government thinks spending more than it takes in will work.

We should not be deceived.  God is not mocked.  We are reaping what we sow.  And we are surprised?  Oh, I’m sorry, perhaps it is because so few of us are actually reading what God has to say.

Thank You Mike Huckabee!

I just read Mike Huckabee’s blog entry, quoted verbatim below.  My comments follow.  Thank you Mike!

From The Washington Times, March 18, 2009

Enough already of the hand-wringing and night sweats about the demise of the conservative movement!

Conservatives aren’t challenged because of the basic principles that define us, but by the failure of the principles being translated into policy and practice.

Gandhi once said, “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”

I would be so brazen to say that if conservatives would really live according to the principles of classic conservatism, all of America would be conservative today.

The crisis is not one over the precepts, but the practice. It’s not that we’ve failed in our doctrine, but our “doing.”

Conservatives believe that the best government is the most local government possible and that the 10th Amendment means something and should be followed. Yet, the supposedly conservative Republican Party has been a drum major for the expanded role of the federal government.

Our founders feared a highly centralized and endowed federal government, instead preferring a system of strong and virtually independent states so that no one person, party, or power broker would exercise a great deal of control.

The inherent danger of allowing too much power in the hands of the few was the heart of the major dispute between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson won, believing that the dispersing of power among the states would by design keep the federal government from becoming too consuming and powerful in its approach to governing. The genius of the 10th Amendment, as is true of all of the Bill of Rights, was that it deliberately limited what the government could do – not what the individual could do.

The 10th Amendment defines the limits of the federal government in 28 words: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Over the past few years, Republicans have been either acquiescing in or encouraging the acquisition of more power and control by the federal government – in policy shifts in education, health care, and even how a driver’s license looks.

During my 10 years as a governor, a constant battle raged with my own federal government over such programs as “Real I. D.,” which was a federally conceived idea to force states to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to re-format the look of a state-issued drivers license so it would become the equivalent of a federal ID card.

Of course, no member of Congress wanted to come out and advocate an actual federal ID card, so forcing the states to make the driver’s license the substitute seemed brilliant to Washington.

What they didn’t really think about or seem to care the least about, despite the numerous attempts by governors, Democrat and Republican to explain, was that a state driver’s license is just what it claims to be – a license to drive a motor vehicle. It is not proof of citizenship, good behavior or church attendance, and the people who work the counter at the state Department of Motor Vehicles are not trained law enforcement officers, immigration officials, CIA agents or detectives. They are typically entry-level state employees who do their best, but are hardly the choice front line of defense to catch a potential terrorist by discovering their true identity.

Ditto that for reforming the Medicaid program.

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner – now Sen. Warner – and I spent many frustrating days on Capitol Hill trying to convince House and Senate members that the Medicaid program was out of control, financially unsustainable, and needed flexibility at the state level. Thanks primarily to Congressmen Joe L. Barton of Texas and Nathan Deal of Georgia, we finally were able to convince Congress that some of the decisions for the program could be made better if made closer to the people being served.

Perhaps no other example is more glaring than having painfully watched so-called Washington conservatives abandon the most fundamental principle of conservatism – fiscal restraint. A Republican administration pushed for and got the authority to spend $700 billion that we had to borrow from our grandchildren’s future so we could do what government has no business doing – picking out winners and losers in the private sector marketplace.

It was especially disgusting to me to watch some of the very leaders who had smugly dismissed my candidacy for president because I had the audacity to speak out against the excesses of Wall Street and Washington as early as February 2007 now stand up and flop-sweat as they explained why they were about to support the government taking off the striped shirts of the referee and put on the jersey of a team to play the game for one team against another all in the name of “saving the markets.”

By abandoning our bedrock conservative principles, and those of our founding fathers, they risked ruining our country to save the markets.

What gives me hope is my belief that the party of Reagan will reunite behind the consistent conservative policies that have made our country great – policies that empower individuals, families, and entrepreneurs, not government, to shape our own destinies. If we do that, we will not fail.

We don’t need so much to redefine conservatism. Just practice the real thing.

Might I make one slight change to that last exclamation?  God’s people by “nature” and beliefs should be radically conservative.  What do I mean by that?  Jesus was a radical change from the conservative Jewish thinking.  He challenged conventional wisdom, by demonstrating that he knew human nature better than they did–he should, he created it.

So I suggest that conservatives need to address one of the perceived things that the Democrat party does well.  They give lip service to caring for the little guy, but the reality is that it is self-serving.  By looking like they care for the “little guy” they get the votes necessary to remain in power.  They pay for this on the backs of future generations.

Conservatives need to do a better job of explaining how they want to take care of those who are less fortunate, or who are in the position of “the little guy”.  Conservatives believe that you cannot legislate compassion.  That the best compassion is the local soup kitchen, or food pantry, or Meals-on-wheels, supported by individuals who give out of a sense of compassion, not compulsion.  When these people give, they also provide oversight.  They want to make sure their giving is achieving results.  Doing this on a local level eliminates several layers of bureaucracy, and results in more compassion occurring.

Further, the goal of conservatives is to eliminate the need for this compassion, not doom participants to continued dependence on a government program.  Don’t you think these individuals would feel better about themselves as productive members of society?  Don’t you see how they as more productive members of society could themselves become a part of solutions, instead of a constant drain on the resources of a nation?  In the end, that’s radically conservative.

And, as Mike Huckabee suggests in his op-ed piece, we need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  We need to walk the talk, we need to practice what we preach.