Archive for July, 2010

What Worry Does For You

Do you ever worry? Have you ever thought about what worry is? It is a thought, a negative thought, nothing more. To win over worry before leaving thinking about the troubling item, project a positive thought on the same subject.

Worry is simply pulling tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.

Change is a catalyst to worry and there is a lot of change going on. Out of the old west comes an illustration to the paralyzing influence of fear and its co-joined twin worry.

His name, “Black Bart”, struck terror in hearts. During his reign of terror which lasted from 1875 to 1883, he was credited with stealing the bags and breath from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews. He did it all without firing a shot. His weapon was his reputation. His ammunition was intimidation. A black hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage. He didn’t have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.

As it turned out, he wasn’t anything to be afraid of, either. When the hood came off, there was nothing to fear. When the authorities finally tracked down the thief, they didn’t find a blood thirsty bandit from Death Valley; they found a mild-mannered druggist from Decatur, Illinois. The man the papers pictured storming through mountains on horseback was, in reality, so afraid of horses he rode to and from robberies in a buggy. He was Charles E. Boles (AKA Bowles, Bolton) — the bandit who never fired a shot, because he never once loaded his gun.

If most of us would “unhood” those things causing most of the worry in our lives we would find them to be less formidable than we imagine them to be.

Worry is the only sin we brag about. “I worried so much I couldn’t sleep.” “You think that is bad. I worried so much I couldn’t eat.”

There are two things about which we should never worry.

Never worry about things you can change. If you can change them worrying about it will only delay the accomplishment and give stress.

Second, never worry about things you can’t change. Worrying about them won’t change them. If they are beyond your control worrying about them won’t change them.

There are two things about which never to worry: things you can change and things you can’t change. Eliminate those two and you will have no worries.

The expression “fear not” is found throughout the Bible. Most often the verb tense means “stop being afraid.” Like you, I face a lot of uncertainty and many perplexing challenges. I have found a formula for dealing with worry: “What time I am afraid I will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 56:3).

Thus alacrity replaces angst. The next time your counterpart to “Black Bart” shows up try it.

The High Price Of Change

Change is vogue. No generation has seen more change faster than ours. It is said human knowledge doubles every 17 days. In that environment don’t plan on maintaining the status quo. Especially when the status is nothing to “quo” about.

Soviet cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyev was launched into space in April 1991. His was to be a four month orbit. When he left the Soviet Union it was a super power. He was given the dramatic salary of 500 rubles a month. President Gorbachev seemed entrenched for life.

Soon after he went into orbit the Soviet Union came apart. Gorbachev was overthrown, the union was dissolved, and those in command of his mission put in an uncertain position. As a result, the four month mission became a ten month mission. Finally somebody with enough authority brought him down to earth. His 500 ruble salary was devalued by inflation to the point it was virtual starvation wages. His nation no longer existed. While he was away the world changed.

Surgei is a portrait of all of us. Our world is changing at a dizzying pace.

Change was proposed for America and America voted for it without knowing what the prosed change was. We have seen dramatic changes in the last months but they are not to be compared with what is potential.

On his way to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for President Barack Obama proposed the establishment of a Civilian National Defense Force as large as our army and as well funded.

In January of this year President Obama issued an executive order establishing a Council of Governors, an advisory board appointed by him. They can seize control of state National Guard forces in case of a “national emergency.” The President would determine what constitutes a “national emergency.” Part of their responsibilities will relate to “civil support activities” whatever they may be considered to be.

Why is such a force envisioned?

In countries such as China, Iran, and Venezuela similar forces have been used to squelch protests under the guise of protecting the peace. There would have been no Tea Party protest in such countries.

Bubbling to the surface occasional is talk of imposing the Fairness Doctrine on radio with talk shows being most impacted by it. It would greatly inhibit the freedom of speech such as most radio talk show hosts now enjoy.

The FCC is proposing declaring the Internet a public utility under their “control.” That too has been done in the above countries.

Establishment of a National Defense Force, controlling the Internet and enactment of the Fairness Doctrine could dramatically influence freedom of speech in America. That could lead to greater change than has ever been imagined.

Can it happen? Yes. Is it the intent of our government? No one can say for sure. Hopefully not. If it did a new dark age would dawn in the world. Not only would freedom in America be adversely restricted but in the world. America is the primary voice of freedom in the world and if that voice is muted freedom globally will go into eclipse.

Hopefully such a scenario is only a conspiracy theory and will never be our nations misfortune. It would be a change.

Wealth Redistribution

Who do you think knows the most about the intent of the Constitution and Federalists Papers, Samuel Adams or Barack Obama?

In these two statements they face off.

Adams: “The utopian schemes of leveling (wealth redistribution) and a community of goods, are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the crown. These ideas are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government unconstitutional” Bottom line, he opposed wealth redistribution.

Obama: “My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody… I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Bottom line: he is for wealth redistribution.

Notice Adams shares a principle based on the Constitution and Obama a personal opinion.
An indication of how convoluted our concept of government is
can be found in this observation by Grover Cleveland, “Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.” Our nanny state philosophy belies this principle.

A case in point is aid to dependent children. When the law providing it was being considered it was said some people will see it as a means of getting support for having children out of wedlock in order to get government funds. It was said it would increase out of wed lock births and weaken the family. Today half of the children born in America are born out of wedlock. That is putting a strain on the government but nothing like it will when these children start procreating following their parents’ example.

The always quotable Thomas Jefferson cautioned, “If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must be happy.”
In this statement Abraham Lincoln gave optimistic thought regarding the value of wealth. “Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.”

This means every wealthy individual is a living exhortation to others saying, “The fact I made it means you can to.” That is the blessing of the free enterprise system.

Today wealth and prosperity are represented as evil and all wealth as ill gotten gain. That is in part true because a lot of it is. The fact the principle has been misused and abused doesn’t mean it is bad. It has simply been used improperly. In reality most wealthy people got that way by working hard and smart. According to Lincoln the fact they have achieved success
means others can by the same means, a good work ethic.

Apathy, indolence, lethargy, torpidity, otiosity, and sloth are characteristics that hinder productivity.

When FDR got the “death tax” passed he said it was the beginning of the redistribution of the wealth of the nation. It set in motion other efforts to achieve the same end.

The above statement by President Obama indicates he is committed to taking it to a new level.

The opposite side of this deserves an appeal to those with wealth to voluntarily give as much as possible to the causes of their choice rather than have the government take it and give it to what they chose.

Concepts of Taxation

Figure this.
Fifty percent of the American population pays no income taxes.
Forty percent of the American population receives money from the government.
Fifty percent of the American population pays income taxes in order for the government to give the forty percent money. Some of these pay fifty percent of their income in taxes.
Ten percent of the population pays seventy-five percent of the income taxes.
Here is a statistical twist. Sixty-six percent of the population feels they are over taxed. That means a significant number of persons paying no income tax feels over taxed.
Imagine there are two primary schools of thought in the Congress that taxes and gives.
Concept A: This school of thought proposes to give more. In order to do so they have to tax the fifty percent who pay taxes even more.
Concept B: This school of thought advocates smaller government, less taxes, and reduced entitlements as a result.
For which group is the forty percent who pays no taxes and receives government money likely to vote?
For which group is the fifty percent who pays no taxes likely to vote?
For which group is the fifty percent who are taxed to provide for the others likely to vote?
A vital question is whether the fifty percent who pay taxes to provide for others will continue to be industrious hard working money earning people in order to provide money for the forty percent? How long before they begin to ask why earn more only to have it taxed at a higher rate?
A second question is whether this system in designed so that the forty percent will grow?
Inevitably there will be a tipping point.
Benjamin Franklin foresaw such a time and warned, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will be the end of the republic.”
We are increasing our national deficit at such a rate that in order to reduce it persons making over $250,000 a year will have to pay seventy-seven to ninety-one percent of their income in taxes. Many of these are persons owning small businesses but their income is considered personal even though in reality it isn’t. They will have to reduce employees just to pay taxes.
The forty percent is being told they can get more money by voting for advocates who espouse Concept A. The census promotion encourages people to register in order to get your fair share.
Who is trying to educate and motivate the forty percent? Concept A advocates are. This is their reelection base. By giving them subsidies and entitlements they are buying their votes. That is motivation.
The dumbing down of America is beginning to show. Basic economics and history need to be taught. Is anybody in education listening?
Regarding a work ethic I commend my theme text for life: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).

Gamaliel Was Paul’s Teacher Was He Among The First Converts?

Israel is a fascinating place. Layers of history overlay one another. Multi cultures coexist. Social, ethnic, and language differences make for complexity. Each of our 40 visits has been different and delightful. Go if you can.
There are always unfathomable facts just beyond one’s understanding. Those serendipitous moments tailor every trip.
One of the times my wife and I went without a group afforded us fortuitous insight. Over the years we have developed many friends in Israel. One day a couple invited us to drive to the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath. Having been there we were ambitious to return. While there one of our friends said lets drive up to Beit Gamaliel, a religious moshav in central Israel. We had not been there. As a matter of fact we had never heard of it. On the way I reasoned “beit” means house and Gamaliel is a reference to Gamaliel who succeeded to the presidency of the Sanhedrin after Shammai in the time of Jesus.
Meet the pedagogy and his star pupil. Gamaliel was one of the most revered teacher of his time. He taught some of the best young scholars of his era. He knew Jewish law and prophecy both of which were enhanced by his wisdom. His teaching was so broad he insisted that his pupils study the Greek poets. That was most unusual for that period.
Saul of Tarsus was one of his students. Gamaliel is the reason that years later when Paul, using his Latin name, went to Athens he could quote the line from one of Greece’s most renowned Third Century BC poets, Aratus of Soli: “In him we live and move and have our being.” Paul applied to line as referring to Jesus.
When it came time for the Sanhedrin to appoint a chief investigator to review reports of a resurrection Saul, the apple of the court’s eye, was chosen. He was given credentials authorizing him to do what was necessary to resolve the controversy.
While walking around enjoying the beauty of Beit Gamaliel my wife noticed a plaque and called for our friend, a guide in Israel for over forty years, and me to come see it. It read: “Buried here: Stephen and Nicodemus.” Our well schooled guide did not know of it and was astounded to see it.
Nicodemus was a fellow member of the Sanhedrin with Gamaliel. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. Why would such a prestigious scholar as Gamaliel have these two men of all people buried on his estate?
Following is merely conjecture but sometimes theory proves to be correct. Inductive reasoning led me to the following conclusion.
Could it have been the scholarly student who was appointed by the court came back and shared with his venerable mentor his findings and Gamaliel also became a believer? As such he had his two fellow believers interred on his estate.
At least two other members of the court had become believes, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. A third believer was the chief investigator, Paul, who voted for Stephen’s death.
More complex conundrums than this have belatedly been proven to be correct.
Israel and the Jewish people have a proud heritage. Go. Even your first visit is like going back home again and when you leave you will depart with the feeling I am coming here again. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” is an old and ever needful appeal.

To Survive We Must Learn From Our Past

A person can look like a prophet by applying abiding historical principles to a current situation and making a prediction.  The year was 1786 and the 13 original states were busy approving their new constitution. Scottish history professor, Alexander Taylor, at the University of Edinborough wrote the following about “The Fall of the Athenian Republic.”
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasure, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policies, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”
His study of Athenian history enables him to draw from a 2,000 year old example. Each day his forecast is looking frighteningly more like the writing of a divine prophet. Onebiblical test of a true prophet is that he is always right. I hope the wise Dr. Taylor proves not to be a true prophet.
The sage Benjamin Franklin seemed aware of this principle when he concluded, “When people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
It is like lacing a boot. The more a politician gives the more votes he gets. The more votes he gets the more likely he is to get reelected. The more he is reelected the more money he gives away. For many the issue is reelection not what is good for the country. I literally thank God for the admirable exceptions to this.
There is an old cliche based on a bit of British history. St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s churches are both supported by the state. At a time when St. Paul’s was in disrepair the Parliament debated transferring funds from St. Peter’s to St. Paul’s. Out of that came the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Assuming there are basically two classes of people, the haves, the St. Peters, and the have nots, the St. Pauls, there is an interesting analogy. The government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
To pay Paul the government becomes dependent upon a working class. It is not the traditional working class as thought of. It is the class comprised of energetic, creative, resourceful, enterprising, industrious, adventurous, risk taking, hard working productive people; the Peters. What happens when they get fed up working for the government to give to Pauls who can but don’t work?
There is a distinction between those who can and those who can’t work. It is good to provide for the justifiable needy. Providing for lethargic, apathetic, lazy persons is not right. However, they, the Pauls, vote and they are in larger numbers.
This is the scenario of which Taylor and Franklin wrote.
The process ultimate can be averted. However, there comes a tipping point at which it can’t. Hopefully we are not there.
This extract from the inaugural address of President Eisenhower offers us hope.
“IF my people will humble themselves and pray ….” WOW!

Dying: Think About It

Do you ever think about dying?
If you are the average American, studies show it is one of your three most thought about subjects. Yet, seldom do people talk about it.
Jonathan Edwards, considered America’s most important philosophical, theological thinkers, and intellects, had 120 personal resolutions. One was to think often and intently of his own death.
Hearing that I thought how morbid it sounded. Then I realized death being inevitable it is practical to think about and prepare for it.
You don’t see any greeting cards reading “Merry death — Happy Dying.”
Candidly like every healthy person I have a fear of death. It is a good thing. It is a preservative of life. It motivates caution and develops our survival instincts.
Physically I prepared for my death a long time ago. I planned my funeral and have done everything possible to delay it as long as possible. It is a good but not easy thing to do. Selecting the casket was a downer.
The funeral director showed me one assuring me it was down stuffed and had a satin covering. He concluded, “It is very comfortable.” What!
I was assured another one had a lifetime guarantee. What am I missing.
From a spiritual perspective the fear of death which I noted is overcome at the time of death. Jesus said of His followers they would never see death. Sounds out of bounds when it is considered they all die. It is reasonable when it is realized there are several Greek words that can be translated “see.” One means to be preoccupied with or transfixed by. What Jesus’ statement means is that when death comes for believers they pass right on by it without noticing it because they are absorbed with what lies ahead. Joy replaces fear.
When study revealed that to me I thought I should have known that because the Psalmist wrote, “Yea, thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”
Perhaps not all religious systems have that belief but I am thankful to know one that does.
In light of the fear of death being removed when dying I rejoice and relax on rough flights when I get scared. I rejoice over it not being my time to die.
There is a spiritual dimension to life and death. It is wise to live prepared physically for death. It is even better to be prepared spiritually.
There is a government sponsored TV ad regarding visiting foreign lands and being aware of their laws regarding drug use. It concludes, “Know before you go.” That is good advice in thinking of death.
One philosopher of yesteryear observed it seems strange that people see people dying all around them and never consider it will happen to them.
In light of the ratio of deaths being 1-to-1 I commend physical and spiritual preparation. Know before you go.

Is There A God?

Everybody has a sense of God consciousness. Oh, yes they do. Some believe in Him and sense a personal relationship with Him.

Others spend their time trying to deny His very existence. They can’t according to a basic law of logic which states you can’t prove a negative. To prove God doesn’t exist you would have to know all there is to know about everything — everything and know that in that body of knowledge there is no God.

If you didn’t know everything but did know fifty percent of everything there is to know wouldn’t it be possible that in that unknown fifty per cent God does exist? Who knows fifty percent of all there is to know about everything?

Suppose you knew ninety percent of all there is to know. Would it not be possible that in the unknown ten percent He exists? Even if you knew ninety-nine percent there is still the possibility of His existence in the unknown.

No one knows one hundred percent of all there is to know. Some persons indicate they are all knowing and profess God does not exist. I know some such people and respect their opinion. They are gracious in response. A minority of such people attack the intellect and assault the very character of those who disagree with them. These are the evangelicals of no faith.

I had a friend who owned a large trucking company. He told me he required every potential driver to take a lie detector test before being employed. One question always asked was do you believe in God. He said there never was a person who said no that the test didn’t indicate they were lying. That is his story believe it or not.

God cannot be proven to exist. He is too big for that. However, He has given us lines of logic leading to conclusions only answerable by His existence. Some are:

Where there is a law there is a law giver. Highway speed laws indicate someone made the law. Inertia, gravity, thermodynamics are laws in nature indicating there is a Lawgiver.

Boi mean life. Genesis means life. There is an irrefutable law of biogenetics that says life only comes from life. The existence of life indicates there is a Lifegiver. Where there is design there must be a designer. The design of the human body is incogitable. The design of the universe suchas precise revolution of planets in orbit and the earth’s rotation on its axis reveals design which demands a Designer.

The law of cause and effect speaks of God. For every effect there must be an equal or greater cause. The universe is the effect. It shouts of a greater cause —- God.

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematician/philosopher renowned for his work in calculus and author of the famed Pascal Wager. He held that the prudent person torn between atheism and belief should “bet” on the existence of God. The reason: If God exists, at death the prudent person will get a heavenly reward. If God does not exist, well, no harm done. If one bets against God’s existence and He does exist, well ….

Wolves And American Ranchers

Conservation is an elemental essential. However, extremism in anything is not good.

A few years ago conservationists said the buffalo and elk herds in Yellowstone were over populated and wolves needed to be reintroduced to enable a balance of nature. In 1994 there were no wolves in the Yellowstone area.

I just returned from Montana where I had the good fortune of visiting with ranches. The experiment has gone on long enough for there to be an observable result. Wolves, the apex-killers, have changed the ecosystem in Yellowstone and the region.

Wildlife biologists and ecologists in Yellowstone are still rather pleased with the result of the reintroduction of wolves. The elk herd has been driven to greater elevations and reduced from around 19,000 to 11,000. Vegetation eaten by elk along low lying steams has rebounded and proliferates. Other carnivores benefit from food left from wolf kills.

It is ranchers and businesses in the area who have suffered the greatest losses.

The elk herd in Yellowstone has been so depleted that it has impacted hunting in the designated areas. Normally 2,000 to 3,000 permits are granted. None will be awarded this year because the wolves have decidedly depleted the herd. That means millions of dollars are lost due to hunters not coming into the area. Great revenue is lost because of there being no permits sold. These lost funds normally go to wildlife conservation.

Some persons disparage the iconic image of blood-lusting wolves. Ranchers don’t.

Wolves have impacted cattle herds. In certain regions there is only a 5 percent survival rate of calves. That represents thousands of dollars lost to the ranchers.

Grown cattle lose between sixty and eighty pounds of weight because of being harassed by wolves. At $1.05 per pound in a herd of 500 cattle that is a loss of $84.00 per head for a total loss of $42,000 per herd.

In one area 123 sheep have been killed by wolves.

We watched a herd of elk being harassed and eventually stampeded by a pack of wolves. A ranger pointed out five dead elk in a field killed by wolves. They don’t just kill for food. They kill for fun. The pack attack we saw was in a vast snow field on the slope of a mountain and was carried out for fun.

Various packs prefer certain animals. Over by Ted Turner’s Circle D ranch the preferred elk herd has been so impacted they are now working on the buffalo.

The Circle D has about 4,000 buffalo  Aldo Leopold wrote of a fierce green fire in a wolf’s eyes. The fire blazes when wild predators and domestic prey encounter each other.

Conservation is not only commendable it is crucial. However, forethought and unbiased planning is needed. The Green Movement has a lot to offer if they can just control their extremists who tend to act on emotion and impulse rather than un-skewed facts and fundamental logic.

In all decision making reason and logic should take precedent over emotion and sentiment.THIMK! Yeah, I know.

Swiss Army

We just visited the enchanting land of Switzerland and learned a bit more about their proud heritage.

There is a Swiss statement: “Switzerland has no army. Switzerland is an army.”

That is not exactly true. It has a population of six million of which 600,000 are in the army. At the age 20 each man is conscripted into the army and given 15 months of training. Until the age of 42 they train two to three weeks a year. They keep their weapon in their homes and stand ready to fight.

A distinction of the army is no person’s military rank can be greater than his or her professional rank. Job parody is the point.

Swiss forces last fought outside their nation’s borders in 1515 and they haven’t been at war in more than 500 years. For years there were various volunteer armies in regions who fought as mercenaries. The armies fought for whoever hired them. Once the Duke of Burgundy hired one Swiss army and the King of France hired another. The two armies fought each other as proxies for the Duke and King.

Such a national defense force preserves peace.

Nothing personifies the pride the Swiss have regarding their army than the “Dying Lion of Luzern” carved in sandstone mountain face above the town of Luzern. It depicts a wounded lion with a broken spear shaft extending from its body. Its paw rests on lilies symbolizing France and there is a Swiss shield thereby. It is a tribute to the Swiss soldiers who died attempting to save Marie Antoinette in 1792.

A caption above it reads: “To the Bravery and Truthfulness of the Swiss.”

The name Luzern itself is interesting. It means “The Lantern” or “The Light” and is based on the legend that an angel with a lantern showed founders to the place to establish the city.

Perhaps the European war that brought about more good than most is the Battle of Solferino. This pitted the Austrians against the Sardinian (French.) A Swiss business man, Henry Durant visited Napoleon III near the battle sight where there were 40,000 casualties. He convinced Napoleon “we are all brothers” and all who suffer deserve help.

The outgrowth was the International Red Cross. Durant being Swiss reversed the Swiss flag which is a white cross on a red background and put a red cross on a white background. Thus, it became the symbol of the International Red Cross. Durant formulated and fostered many of the current rules of war. The work of Durant resulted in him being the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

As an aside those medieval armies must have smelled very bad. All of society did. During that era it was believed water damages the skin and bathing was bad for you. It is said of King Louis XIV of France water only touched his body once in his life. It occurred at his baptism as an infant. Even drinking of water was discouraged. Children were told it would cause frogs to grow in them. Come to think of it deodorants are a relatively new thing.

We are blessed to live in this era and this country. If you are going to visit only two foreign countries make them Switzerland and Israel.

Austria: History Revisited

Travel is exciting and educational. Test yourself on these questions that have stumped me in recent travels.

What is the official color of Ireland? I had no doubt but that it was green. It isn’t. It is blue.

Hitler was a German: true or false? False, he was an Austrian.

Beethoven was Austrian: true of false? False, he was a German.

The reversal of the commonly assumed homelands of those two is considered a historical marvel.

What is the capital of Switzerland? It has no national capital. Bern is known as the Federalists City but no city is called the capital.

Which is older Italy or America? Italy as it is known today is considerably younger. As a political state Italy was established in 1861 and America in 1776.

We just returned for a five nation tour of Europe. Each of the five countries was highly enjoyable but Switzerland especially. They do not have states but rather cantons which are  in effect states in the Swiss Confederation. Like most of Europe immigration is a major issue as it is here. For persons to immigrate to Switzerland they do not apply to the national government for permission but to the canton in which they want to reside. The canton has the authority to deny or approve immigration.

In its formation American had a strong states rights provision. In that frame of reference Arizona recently passed a law regarding illegal immigrants that previously would have been the norm as it is now in Switzerland. We have indeed changed.

We gained a new perspective of the times and lives of the characters in “The Sound of Music.”

In the movie and stage versions of the story Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp and his family sang “Edelweiss” in defiance of pressure to support the rising tide of Nazism. The edelweiss flower is a symbol of Austria and the singing of the song was supposed to be a defiant statement of Austrian patriotism.

The scene is memorable but fictional. The song “Edelweiss” wasn’t written until 1959 by Rogers and Hammerstein.

Europeans know little about “The Sound of Music.” They rely on a 1950 German film “Apostolate” for their background.

In so far as Austrian patriotism is concerned it was not as strong as noted in the film and stage productions. There surely would not have been any expression as overt as depicted. However, there were vestiges of patriotism.

Hitler didn’t invade his home country of Austria. The Austrians welcomed him. The year Hitler’s forces moved into Austria there were more traffic deaths than were caused by the intrusion. They wanted him to rule their country, his homeland. In 1945 there were more Nazis in Austria than in Germany.

After Hitler manifested himself and things went bad the Austrians represented themselves as the first victims of Hitler. They were not victims. Only in recent years have they begun to acknowledge their deception and seduction by Hitler.

Austria is a classic example of a whole society being deceived by clever political charlatans.

States rights is a good point at which Americans can express their patriotism.

Renewal In A Circle of Stones

Renewal is an essential part of the life-cycle. Nature does it each spring. Even the cells of our body are periodically renewed. Therefore, it is only reasonable we human beings need to be renewed spiritually. Like clocks we tend to rundown and need rewinding.

Recently I took 36 athletes and twelve coached from Shorter University, notice now “University,” to Montana for a week of Christian leadership training. The week involved a variety of interesting things including a visit to Yellowstone, mountain hiking, swimming in the icy waters or Lake Agnes at 10,000 feet.

One activity was more engaging and stimulating than others.

It involved a morning of fasting which meant missing breakfast. For college students that is a start. They left their watches with group leaders, and turning off their cell phones had them sealed in a paper bag to be used only in the event of an emergency.

The ranch is over six miles long and three miles wide. The students were spread out across this area known as the high desert. Each was to find a place where they could not see anyone or be seen. Once in their isolated spot they were to gather up a number of the abundant stones and make a circle. They were then to sit in the circle alone. They were instructed to stay in the circle all morning except for restroom breaks.

The only movement they saw was deer, elk, antelope, moose, and eagles.

The circle was to symbolize God’s will. They were to stay in the circle and meditate all morning long.

For any active person, especially college students, this is a different discipline. One side affect of fasting is that every time there is a hunger pang it should be reminder that as the body needs food our spirit need renewing. Hence it is a reminder to refocus on God and pray. It is also a discipline in controlling our bodies.

At a given time shortly after noon an air horn was sounded and vans went out to pick them up.

Before they were to leave their circle each person was encouraged to go outside the circle of stones and find a special stone to be used to symbolize something in their life of which they need to be forgiven and renewal begun with the Lord. The stone was to be left in the circle as a symbol of leaving a bad habit or life-style impropriety (sin) behind with the Lord and starting over —- renewed.

For many that was a first, a severe discipline.

Leaders have to be disciplined. Being a Christian leader requires discipline and dedication.

The apostle Paul wrote of disciplining his body and keeping it under control. Our word is self-control. In a society of “me first” and “looking out for number one” where any appetite is to be indulged this was meaningful training.

We all train our bodies. Some train their body to indulge itself. They exercise little or no self-control.

A well self-disciplined life is a productive life. Devise your own equivalent of the circle of stones and begin self-discipline by spending time alone with God —- renewed.