Archive for August, 2009

Ted Kennedy

August 29, 2009

Someone sent me the following article today, and it stopped me in my tracks.

CHAPPAQUIDDICK: TED KENNEDY’S JUDGMENT DAY

J. Grant Swank, Jr.
I often thought down through the years as to what Ted Kennedy would do with Jesus and Judgment Day when Kennedy breathed his last. I thought specifically of Chappaquiddick’s cover-up.
Now Kennedy has breathed his last.
He has appeared at the Judgment Seat of Christ. What happened?
One thing for certain is that truth won out. It has to for the Judgment Seat of Christ is confronting Truth in that Jesus named Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
One does not escape Truth when at death providing an account of one’s earthly stay. Truth is the very core of that encounter upon exiting this sphere.
Kennedy was in the same vehicle as Mary Jo Kopechne. Mary Jo died in that vehicle at 29 years of age. It occurred at Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard.
Kennedy name and money covered up the full actual detail so that Kennedy continued on with his earthly journey. A young adult female did not. Her family was paid off to keep mum.
The secret was sealed after her death in July 1969—until the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Having partied with political campaign workers, Kennedy and Kopechne left together, not realizing that their car was headed for underwater. Kennedy swam to shore and went to bed. The next morning Kennedy did not report to authorities anything about the accident. Nothing reported.
The list of needling questions surfaced and continued to bother those with sensitive consciences and logical brains. In time, the needling gave way to numbness and finally a footnote in history.
That is, until Kennedy’s last breath and his standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The biblically knowledgeable realize that eternity will reveal the facts about Kennedy, Kopechne and Chappaquiddick.
Posted by: Grant on Aug 29, 09 | 6:40 am | Profile Permalink
May this be a sobering reminder to all of us who tend to spiff up our own autobiographies.  The light of God will cut through all the fog of our own making.  Lord, please help us be honest before you, and admit the truth about ourselves that we may be washed clean now.
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Politics is a Temporary Thing

August 28, 2009

During these dark and worrisome days, it helps to remember politics is a temporary thing.  When we look at the state of our economy and the almost certain passage of a plan which will become a nationalized healthcare plan within a few years, there is a worst case scenario.  While not all the specifics are the same, its useful to look at Argentina.  It shows what happens when a country collapses under its debt.  We may not collapse for the same reasons, but the collapse will likely look similar.  Ironically, ours may be worse and last longer, because we are bigger, our load will be bigger, and the IMF will be less able to help us recover.  The likelihood is, we may go through the hardest times this country has ever seen.  In Argentina, about a quarter of the nation was jobless and homeless.  Here, I predict people will double and triple up in houses, and they will have to share everything to survive.  There will be more crime and unrest, and as services fail, some of us will die for lack of basic healthcare, electricity, and possibly even food and water.  However, most of us will survive.  As my grandmother would say “And what is this in the light of eternity?”  She was right, of course, for despite the long life I’ve lived, I can promise life passes quickly.  And we are all going to die sooner or later, of something or other.  The intervening years may be very tough, but we will take it a day at a time, and we will do whatever we must.  God always knew we would be foolish, and He has it covered.  He certainly never wastes a crisis, or anything else either.  So, while I can get all hot and bothered about how bad conditions were in the 1980s when I was living in England, and how we in the U.S. are now going merrily down the same path, God is in control.  And “What is this in the light of eternity?”  “This too, shall pass.”

Healthcare will always be a problem

August 26, 2009

I went to a healthcare town hall meeting today.  It was attended by  a couple hundred people.  There was probably a policeman for every 30 people at least.  While many questions were asked and comments made on both sides, it remained respectful, so I guess we won’t make news.

One of the comments made was about the Swedish model, so I decided to come home and do a couple hours research on healthcare in Sweden.  What they have is a public/private mix of providers with a federal/local mix of oversight and financing.  In American terms, everybody is on medicaid with the “better off” folks paying for it.  What is different in Sweden is the level of taxation.  Income tax rates are 31-57%.  Thats 31% for the lowest tax bracket.  In addition, there is a VAT (value added tax, or sales tax) of 25% on almost every purchase with some exceptions made for basic food etc.  This tax structure does buy a healthcare system where everyone is covered, and there is a very small co-payment.  What happened, though, was in a generation Sweden went from being the third richest nation in the world to being 22nd, behind most of the rest of Europe.  What also happened, despite the hefty taxes, was an increase in the deficit.  Sweden’s national debt in comparison to its gross domestic product is about twice ours.  The healthcare system Sweden got for the money has waiting lines.  Some of the waiting lines are life threatening, such as an 11 month wait for cardiac care.  Just google “Swedish Healthcare” and form your own opinion.  Also google “Swedish taxes”, “Swedish per capita income” and “Swedish national debt.”  Healthcare IS expensive, no matter what reforms are done. 

I agree with the Heritage Foundation  that what we really need to be asking is “What is the Value of what we are getting for our money?”  In our system, everyone who is truly sick gets cared for, and the cost of it gets settled eventually (a lot of charity write-offs etc).  In the Swedish system, at a high price to their country, everyone who is truly sick gets cared for—eventually, if they don’t die while on the waiting list.

The Right Tool

August 24, 2009

Mother Teresa often said “I want to be a tool in the hand of God.”   It got me to thinking about tools.  There are a few tools that get used often, and they hang in a prominent place.  I guess in the society of tools, these would be the “movers and the shakers”.  But most tools spend a lot of drawer time, not being noticed, and not being seen.  At just the right time, for just the right job, that tool will make all the difference in the world, because it will be “the right tool for the right job.”  If I want to be a tool in the hand of God, I’ve got to spend a lot of drawer time waiting for Him to use me.  During that time I can pray and worship and prepare to be used.  However, I can’t climb out of the drawer and start doing a job on my own.  I can only work correctly if I’m in His hand.  Any other attempts on my part to get out of the drawer just land me on the floor.  It kind of gives a whole new meaning to the verse from Isaiah, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  I need to wait for his hand to guide me–then I will feel His use of me, the effort will be His and not so much mine, and it will be God who gets the glory.  Thats the way it should be.

A Heartwarming Memory

August 24, 2009

When I was eleven years old, my father began building a flower shop.  He had already had a heart attack, and decided to support his family with a business that would be less stressful and physically strenuous.  While beginning the store, a prefabricated greenhouse with attached shop, he had another, more serious heart attack.  He was in the hospital for weeks and this was followed by more weeks of bedrest.  We were all concerned for him, and we were especially concerned that all his worry over the unfinished greenhouse would be bad for his heart.

When it appeared Dad was improving somewhat and able to putter around the place, a wonderful neighbor asked what he could do to help our family.  Dad said the only thing he needed was what no one could give him–a completed flower shop that would allow him to go back to work and support his family.

The following Saturday we opened the blinds to behold a cement mixer, gravel, wood and glass, along with a half dozen neighborhood men.  We had always heard of a barn raising.  We got to watch a greenhouse and flower shop raising.  When the day was done, the new building stood finished enough to accept flower and merchandise deliveries.  And the day the first delivery came–several of those neighbors unpacked and stocked the store.   No one could ever fully realize what this act of love and kindness meant to our family.  How could we ever complain about our situation when God had sent us angels to help us in our time of need.  We were so very grateful.  Our hearts were just filled to overflowing with love and emotion.  This is definitely a memory I will keep till my dying day.  This is a memory that builds me up when life knocks me down.

What to Keep and What to Get Rid of: Memories

August 24, 2009

Psychologists have made a lot over memories, taking them out, understanding them, sorting them out, healing them, till we think the past is fundamental to how we live our lives today.  However, I think everyone of us can remember being sabotaged by memories.  Upon trying something new and slightly risky, the memory of a past failure may sabotage our confidence.  Doing something differently than our parents would may conjure up a memory of our parent berating us for something.  Clearly, not all memories are helpful, yet most of us have a storage closet full of negative memories that keep popping up either willingly or unwillingly on our part.

Likewise, some positive memories can sabotage our progress if we “sit on our laurels”.  We all know people in middle age who seem to have never left high school and live with the accomplishments and rewards of those days.  There’s also the men who never left the military, or the company, or the team.  There are women who won’t let their kids grow up.

Memories that are helpful are  blessings for which we can be thankful.  A grateful spirit is one of the best indicators of a happy personality.  We can cultivate a grateful spirit by living in the moment, truly enjoying each blessing around us.  We can savor the experiences in the present and be gratefully sensual, whether it be over the aroma of coffee, the colors in our garden, the home we’ve been so fortunate to live in, clean clothes, and on and on.  We can also savor experiences of the past and be grateful.  On days when it seems there’s little to enjoy, we can take out scrapbooks and remember blessings of an earlier time, thanking God for all the good things that happened.  Such things never fail to revive me on my rainy days.

As far as painful, negative memories, is there ever a time to take them out again?  Sometimes there was a lesson learned or wisdom gained.  I would take out the lesson or the wisdom, thank God for them, and let go of the memory.  God is going to erase all those memories at the end of time anyway.  He will erase all our sins and mistakes, and wipe away every tear.

Memories of people and the love we shared with them are definite keepers.  Memories of times God worked in our lives are not only keepers, but something to share with someone who needs a bit of encouragement today.

I like to remember some special, peaceful, beautiful places I’ve visited.  I go there again sometimes, enjoy the emotions the mental picture evokes, thank God for allowing that special place to be part of my experience, and come away refreshed.  God is good.  Always. 

Most of all, I like to remember promises in the bible: especially promises Jesus made when He walked the earth.  I write down some of his sayings and just enjoy reading them again and again and thinking of them.  These give me hope and joy.

Yes, just like possessions, some memories give us beauty and happiness.  These should not only be kept, but nurtured.  Other memories bring us down.  They really should be given back to the God who let us experience them, and let Him decide what to do with those people and situations.  This can be very freeing.  It can erase bitterness.  I have sometimes written down a fragment of memory that has been bothering me and burned it in the fireplace, signifying its God’s now and not mine to worry about anymore. 

Cherishing a memory that builds me up and warms my heart lets me experience that blessing forever.

What Stuff to Keep and What Stuff to Let Go

August 22, 2009

People have lots of reasons for keeping things around they no longer need, use or even like.  If we learn the origins of our packrat tendencies and really decide to move on and  clean out, how do we decide what stays and what goes?

Lets look at clothes first.  I know a person who has a walk in closet, triple dresser and chest of drawers all full of clothes and has an additional seven bags and four boxes of clothes.  Most of these haven’t been worn in years, and some no longer look good.  To save the time of trying on every single item, I would ask the question “Have I worn this in the last two years?”  If I haven’t worn it in that long, there’s probably a reason I haven’t, and I should let it go.  The only exception I would make to that is formal wear.  Since thats worn so seldom and its so expensive, if its still in style and good shape, its probably reasonable to keep it.  I would ask the same question of shoes, and probably get rid of all the ones I haven’t worn in two years.  Again, the exception might be specialized shoes if I think I might use them again.

Now lets look at trinkets.  Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Does it look good in the house, or is it hid away?  If it isn’t part of my decor and I love it, I should take it out and show it.  Otherwise, its in a box or closet where no one can enjoy it.  What if someone I love gave it to me?  Well, chances are if they haven’t seen it out in your house, they probably think you already got rid of it.  What if there’s some wonderful memory attached to it?  I can take a picture of the item, and then give it away.  What if I made it?  Well, if I want to show off my talent, I should display the item.  If I’m embarrassed to do that, I should get rid of it.  Beauty is in the eye of the holder and someone else may enjoy it.

What about books?  I know someone who pays rent on a storage facility because she has too many books to keep in the house.  Trouble is, she had to move and now lives too far from the facility to even “check out” her own books.  Where books are concerned, I would keep a few favorites I go back to all the time, books that inspire me.  The rest I can get from the library if I really want to read them again.  Reference books nowadays get outdated way too fast, and I find I can get more up to date information on the internet.

What about CDs?  Most people have dozens to hundreds, and never listen to them.  You can make a couple CDs of just your favorite songs and get rid of the rest. 

What about magazines?  If you’ve been keeping it around till you get time to read it, you’ll never read it.  Leaf through for that article you just have to keep and recycle the rest.  Don’t even be a great keeper of articles–only keep the ones with information you’re not likely to find elsewhere.

One thought I’ve always kept is a thought from my mother.  “Its wrong to hang onto stuff you don’t need if someone else who needs it could be using it.”  When I donate, I give to the Salvation Army, because not only does someone else get to use the things, it supports the programs of a very worthy charity.

It is truly liberating to have a simple, uncluttered, organized house, where everything is used, or is beautiful, or is loved.  What if I share my house with a packrat?  Well, thats a post for another day.

Keeping Stuff

August 19, 2009

I helped Michelle move last week, and oh my goodness, do they have a lot of stuff!  It got me to thinking about why people keep so much stuff they absolutely can’t organize a closet or a garage or an office.  I think there are a number of reasons.

First, I think people who felt deprived in childhood save things because deep down they believe they will once again be deprived and might need these things.  They may save old clothes that are out of style, old excess goods of any kind, too many linens, old furniture in the garage, old home decor from previous houses.  Its just a hedge against the possibility of future want.

Second, I think people save things because they spent too much money on them, and even though there is no likelihood of their being used again, its too much money wasted if they give it away or sell it at garage sale prices.  However, considering the costs involved in keeping a lot of stuff around, keeping unused things might be throwing good money after bad.

Third,people save things because they have a memory attached to them.  They are afraid if they get rid of the item, they might lose the memory.

Fourth, people save things because someone they love gave them the item, and they are afraid to hurt the person’s feelings.

Fifth, people save things because they don’t take time to regularly clean out.  They keep stuffing things away without thinking about whether they need it.  This is how magazines, paperwork, “freebies” etc get stacked up to overflowing.  Its just too much after a long day or week to go through things and THROW STUFF OUT.

All this stuff is eventually enslaving.  Living amid clutter is low level stress.  Having things organized where you know what you have and where to find it is liberating.  There are a lot of good books out there about how to organize anything from your house to your life.  Go for it!  It may be one of the cheapest and most refreshing vacations you ever spent.

Daddy Can See

August 11, 2009

Our little daughter was buckled into her bicycle carrier behind her father.  As he began to pedal away with her, she screamed “Daddy, I can’t see where we’re going!”  He reassured her that she could relax and enjoy the scenery because Daddy was steering and he could see just fine. 

How like my relationship with my heavenly father.  So often I long to see what is up ahead.  I just want to know how things are going to turn out.  I know the Lord is steering, but can I just relax and enjoy the scenery?  Can I trust Him that much?

 

by Marie

The Love of God

August 11, 2009

The preacher proclaimed that only a tiny minority of us really believe God loves us.  We believe God loves “people”, but not that God loves “me” as a unique individual.  Because we don’t believe God could love us, we really don’t love Him a whole lot either, and so our relationship with Him is dull and lifeless.  It becomes more about trying to make ourselves worthy of His love than it is about joy in His love.

I’m so aware of my sin I don’t believe I’m very loveable.  Truth is, That IS the truth.  Its just not the whole truth.  Did I love my children when they were sick and dirty and naughty.  Yes, and sometimes I loved them more when my compassion for them kicked in.  Do I think I was a better parent than God?  And what if, after pouring myself out for my children they said they didn’t feel loved?  Wouldn’t that break my heart?  Doesn’t that break the heart of God?

Father I do believe You love me.  Help my unbelief.