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.