Monday, August 31, 2009

The book of First Opinions

A former pastor often made reference to this book. Though we’ve never seen it, we all know of it and hear it quoted occasionally—sometimes even by preachers.
A short time ago, my wife and I heard a pretty decent sermon (just for the record, not in our own church) based on Ez. 33:3 “…warn the people….” It was really a pretty good message warning about the realities of Hell, consequences of a godless life and a couple other things right out of Scripture. But then the preacher digressed. Instead of quoting, or even paraphrasing the Bible, he went into an area of opinion, and used unreferenced sources for information that seemed to me a bit on the shaky side.
When we hear a sermon it should resonate with the truth of Scripture! There should be no other authority than that of God’s Word itself. There is certainly room for opinion from the pulpit—indeed that makes one preacher different that the other; but opinion should be expressed for what it is: the belief of that person, and it should be backed up by Biblical principles. The absolute authority of what comes from the pulpit should be Scripture and Scripture alone. Other information should be given for what it is. If it's fact, reference the source; opinion or statement, do the same. Failing to do so can lead to a misinterpretation of the information as all being from the same source.
I’m not trying to castigate this particular preacher because he’s really a good man, and has been used of God to work in the lives of many folks in his area; besides, probably all preachers and all Christians (at least the outspoken ones) fall into the same trap on occasion, but I’m sensitive to the fact that preachers and pastors play an extremely important role in the lives of God’s people. Generally, they are working hard to impress upon their people what God has impressed upon them, but sometimes make their personal convictions—which God may well have laid upon their hearts—doctrine to be held by all.
I’ve seen that happen in other places where over a period in time the pastor’s decisions dictated the way his people lived, even to the point of choosing jobs or mates for some of their congregants. That’s a dangerous situation. A good pastor should give the Biblical facts, in all cases pointing out sin for what it is, and then let the Word penetrate the heart. Then each man and woman can make decisions for him/her self.
At least that's my opinion!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Do What You Do Best

The other evening, I was following a friend on a secondary road along the edge of a lake. Two classics (or so we'd like to think), running two classics---that's two middle aged guys, one in a marginally antique Corvette (he calls it Red), one on a Harley Davidson (which a friend nicknamed Harvey) of similar vintage. It was a perfect mid-summer evening with just a few clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky.

I was on the bike following the 'Vette and was enjoying watching the way the old car held that winding road. Though we were not going fast--pretty much holding to the 45 mph speed limit--it stuck to the road like it was on rails. I was in something of sweet spot behind the car and could hear the well tuned small block's subdued, but mellow tone. My bike was purring like it was designed to, making that distinctive "potato, potato" sound that only the V-twin makes, and was smoothly and powerfully executing the turns, dips and hills as we made our journey--a "real" car and "real" motorcycle running the roads. The sounds, blended together with the evening and the scenery made for a special ride. Along the way it occurred to me that in some ways we were doing what we were designed to do. Machines are meant to serve their masters, and men to control their machines. This was one of those moments that went perfectly for both man and machine.

Further introspection got me thinking deeper into the whole thing. Red and Harvy are both still able to do their jobs--and both are used often as means of regular transportation and pleasure; however a newer model car and a newer model motorcycle will out perform, out ride and generally just give better results. They're more powerful, have better suspensions and are loaded with better technology than either of the machines my friend and I own and enjoy.

I've been in my profession for over thirty years now, and though I like to believe that I'm still able to do my job well, I'm well aware that the newer officers are a different breed. They have better training than my generation had, have more tools at their disposal than I had when I started, and get the benefit of watching actual videos of police officers doing their jobs right--and sadly, doing them wrong also.

I'm also aware that I don't have the endurance I once had. As a matter of fact, this state of semi-retirement I'm in fits my endurance level very well. I just can't do some of the things a younger officer can do, or can't do it well for as long. Twentyfive hour weeks or so are just about what the doctor orders at this point, not the 40, 50, or even 60 hours I once worked. The years have given me expience and wisdom that the younger folks don't have, but maybe that's why this "classic" and a few like me still enjoy working are well received by those younger men and women. We share the war stories and thereby teach some of the things we learned the hard way so their lessons might be easier, their bumps and bruises lessened a bit.

Sometime in the future, the day will come that the old Harley and the old 'Vette will be used less often, and relegated to being ridden in parades and special events, not used for everyday travel. So it will be with us. Though I will always feel like a cop--and I use the term proudly--there will be a time I'll be unable to do the job; I'll either be a danger to myself or to the others I'll be with. I pray that I'll have the wisdom to know when that is. Though there still might be places I can contribute, they'll be fewer and far between.

I hope that day comes a long time from now. Maybe when it does, I'll polish up Harvy and just ride in the parades. Hopefully I can find my friend and Red to go along for the ride. Men and machines, doing what they do best.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Christian Nation?

Our president recently made the comment that we were no longer a Christian Nation. I'm not going to support, rebut, or have a debate on that, but just make an observation.
A couple days ago, the White House hosted the first three men who stepped on the moon, honoring them for their brave efforts forty years ago.
That very night, I happened to catch a bit of "When We Left Earth," a documentary about those days, the drama of which I was too young to appreciate at the time. The show played video of a camera showing the earth getting smaller and smaller as the spacecraft headed away from Earth toward a rendezvous with a moon they hoped to orbit and land on. As they headed deeper into space, one of the men on the spacecraft was reciting the first portion of Genesis 1. "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth....
That was only 40 years ago this week, and now we're no longer a Christian nation. How fast things change!

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Always Right to do Right... is never right to do wrong in order to accomplish right. These words, read many years ago in a book on police ethics, came rushing back to me the other day when another police officer sent me the web link to a story about a police officer, only a short time away from his pension, who was caught in a lie. Not just a lie, put perjury! He lied under oath in court. Now he has lost his job, his pension, and faces time in jail for his action.
The link was sent to me no doubt wanting to evoke sympathy for the officer and maybe outrage at the actions of his department in taking the action they had. I didn't react that way. I fear that the actions of this officer, in addition to allowing a (probably guilty) suspect to go free has cast his agency, and all police officers in it in a bad light.
Certainly I feel sorry for his family who now has to live with the results of his action, but pity for him? Nope! Don't have any.

Eeny, Meeny Miney...

So where's Mo? Better yet, who is Mo? The three mentioned are the three people the pundits are calling the for the next republican presidential race. Huckabee, Romney and Palin.
One thing that's clear from everything I've read: whether they like her, love her, or loathe her, they still don't fully understand Palin. Probably because they just can't get a handle on her, can't figure her out.
Last night I watched a short documentary on some of the events of the Reagan presidency. His own people couldn't always figure him out, except that he did what he thought was right, in spite of polls and all the advice from the professional politicians.
My personal opinion would be Huckabee and Palin in the #1 and #2 spots of this nation, but Romney's not a bad choice either from what I've seen. I think all three will stand up for what is right.
However, maybe there's a fourth person out there waiting in the wings (the Mo). Maybe he or she will show up in the next few months and take the nation, at least the republicans and conservatives by storm, unifying them for long enough to bring the country out of liberal democratic control.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More on Passions

Another of my permanent passions has been my long term relationship with Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. It is best summed up by the words of the hymn:

And when I think, that God his Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died, to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.

Passing Passions

This has nothing to do with the passion I have for my wife. That's a different issue, a permanent passion. My profession is another which has never waned. This is about the other lesser passions in life, maybe best called passing passions.

I have been a life-long lover of guns. My dad called me "Billy Gun" in my early years and I can't recall a time when I didn't have at least some interest in firearms. Over the last 20 years one of my favorite hang outs has been a gun shop in which I've had the opportunity to handle guns of all types. I've also been a police and security firearms instructor for about 20 years and had untold hours of pleasure in training others in the use of guns. However, over the years that has begun to wane a bit. I have found myself drawn to other interests and have had to prioritize my time accordingly.

I've had a wide variety of passing passions. I spent several years actively training in a gym. They were good years, I made several friends, and my overall health benefited from it. I transitioned from that to martial arts and trained hard for about 8 years. Though an injury now keeps me from participating as I'd like to, I still consider myself to be a marital artist. I also spent a few years bicycling quite hard. All of these have had a positive effect on my life.

I spent some time delving back into my childhood and tinkered around with some old farm tractors for a while--that was fun and I rebuilt some of my mechanical skills, but it got to the point where I was working too hard for the amount of fun I was having. I still have the interest, but don't do much with it.

I also played with snowmobiles for a couple years, but now that's almost love turned to hate--can't stand them.

Now I'm into motorcycles... Harleys, as a matter of fact, and have a love affair with a bike older than two of my kids and many of my co-workers. It tends to occupy quite a bit of my spare time. This was a return to an interest of 30+ years ago, an interested dropped due to lack of time and money. It has also helped rebuild my mechanical skills.

The point here is that all these passing passions have had an effect on me, having changed my life in one way or another; some changes have been physical, some mental, or maybe attitudinal, but all have been changes. Also, these have been passions, more than just short-term interests. These are things to which I dedicated time, money and effort. In retrospect, I can say that all my passions, both passing and permanent have been worthwhile investments. I've received some reward for my involvement with all of them.

I look around and see so may folks today, young folks, middle aged and older folks without passions. They go through life bouncing from one thing to another, never making any one thing important, not making any investment of time, effort of money in anything. They've never invested themselves in anything, and so have never reaped the rewards.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fighting the Same Battles

Years ago, I followed three or four gun magazines religiously. I devoured every thing written by the likes of Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan, Skeeter Skelton, and others too numerous to mention. One thing you could count on. Keith, Jordan and Skelton always "stuck to their guns" if you'll pardon the pun. They had their opinions, all based upon years of experience and held to them firmly. Not that they always agreed. Far from it, as a matter of fact; but they all had good reason for their opinions and told what worked for them.
The old magazines also had what I'll called rotating arguments. It usually revolved around what was the best cartridge, bullet, powder or load, for a given purpose. The one I usually zeroed in on was the "stopping power" argument, which generally revolved around the .38, 9mm, .357 and .45 ACP cartridges. If memory serves me correctly, the arguments seemed to rotate among the magazines each month, with one round winning the argument each month in each tabloid.
Somewhere in mid-adulthood, I tired of the arguments and quit reading them all, however keeping a firm interest in the topic due to my profession.
Every once in a while, I pick up a magazine and find that similar battles are still being waged but with new guns and calibers. Meanwhile, the same old guns still are in the field and still work--sometimes better than others, but work they do. .357 magnums and .38 specials are still working in police and security circles even though the field is now dominated by the auto pistols---with a couple new calibers coming on strong. .308s and 30-06s still kill innumerable deer, bear and moose across North America and other venerable aged cartridges find equal use in Europe and Asia, all the while new ones come out about every day. some finding their niche, some fading away into obscurity.
So what's the point of this rambling? Well, I'm not really sure. But I know that some things never change. The old will still be serviceable; the new will still come on the scene; at least with guns and ammo. We seem to be in search of the perfect solution to all problems. I suppose it would be nice if we could buy one gun and have it work for all situations, but there would be no fun in that I guess, and nothing new and good would ever be discovered.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Maybe No Business is Good Business

Currently, the New York State Senate is out of business. It has been rendered by powerless by a couple of "rebel" Democrats who have splintered away from their party and joined with Republicans., except that one of them went running back--I think. The bottom line is that the entire house has stopped up the business of government. Nothing is being done. Sessions are opened and closed almost in the same breath with nothing being done.
Maybe that's not all a bad thing. New York was poised on the edge of a gay marriage bill--that's effectively dead as long as business is stalled. With liberals in charge of the committees, no doubt that gun control laws were on agenda. Now they're stalled as well which is another good thing.
I'm sure that there is business that must be conducted in order to continue the affairs of State, but maybe it's not all a bad thing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Changing Your Nation

While vacationing in Canada, in the lovely Province of Prince Edward Island--yes we checked out all the Avonlea stuff--we attended church on Fathers Day in a small, country church. We're always wary of denominations because there seems to be no guarantee that any name is indicative of its belief anymore, and agonized over where we'd go, not wanting to find ourselves in a church which taught a social gospel; but found ourselves in this church and were warmly welcomed by all and happy with the time spent there.
In the message, which was directed toward fathers, the pastor made one of the most profound statements I'd heard about what we can do to be effective in changing our nation (Interesting that I heard this in a nation not my own!) His statement was "the way to change our nation is not to complain about the government, but to father our children."
Simple, yet awsome words! If each man took responsibility to truly "father" his children, they would be more likely to grow up into responsible adults. They in turn would produce another generation of responsible adults and in two or three generations we could see some incredible changes.
No earthy father has been, is now, or ever will be perfect, nor will every child grow up responsibly, but if only every father would make the effort.....

Breaking the Silence

The Ammo Box has been empty these days, much like the space normally occupied by .380 ammo in gun shops. Not that I haven't had anything to say, just the time to sit and compose all the thoughts has been eluding me.
I've actually taken some time for fun, something that I probably did far too little of during the years I held my full-time job with the state. Then, it aways seemed that something (job related) back home needed to be thought about, planned, or needed phone calls made, emails written, or some other involvement that may not have ruined, but surely impacted nearly all, if not all, the time off I ever took.
So, in the last couple months I've taken a couple days to do some good motorcyle trips with some good friends, spent some time traveling with my wife in places we'd never been before and have tried to get back into just enjoying life, not worrying about what's got to be done next--thought that's a hard thing for a type A person to avoid.
I'll be trying to make some regular commentary on something again. Maybe that means having to pay attention to the news again; though maybe not that much attention.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Are We "Less Respected" in the World

It was with both alarm and disgust that I read a comment of our VP, Mr. Biden in which he said that our nation was now poorly respected in many parts of the world.
Mr. Biden should realize that sometimes being right is unpopular while being wrong has a great following. If our leaders feel the need to go around the world apologizing for our nation just to be popular that is a dangerous place to be in.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


The Adirondack Park Agency is an organization founded in New York State for the protection of the 6 million acres of publicly an privately owned land within what it called the Blue Line which is the boundary of the park.

The Agency, as it's called derives its power from certain provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law, and supposedly takes its direction from the Master Plan, a document written with the goal of guiding the use of the area to protect it from misuse and exploitation.

I believe that the entire premise of both the Master Plan and the APA were good, however, the APA, waving the banner of the Master Plan has become the tail that wags several dogs.

Individual landowners and homeowners are often hamstrung by the regulations which the agency imposes--there have been cases of homeowners hung up in battles over the color of a house roof.

Even the state, the largest landowner in the park, has to bow to the will of the almighty agency. I was on a unit management plan committe at one point and saw that the one representative of the agency always got what he wanted...or else the plan went into limbo.

As the state has begun to complete the unit management plans, historic access to many places have been restricted to only those who are walking or paddling: Roads, used for years, have been closed off, boat launches blocked off with boulders; snowmobile trails closed..., all in line with the almighty agency's wishes, often against the wishes of just about all others, and not necessarily in that master plan which they're so concerned abouts.

The solution would be to eliminate the agency and turn the programs over to DEC itself, and make sure some moderates are put into influential places within it. In the meantime, I believe that every person or entitiy which had ever been denied a use permit should come together and file a class action suit against the APA for violation of civil rights. Such a suit should be brought against the agency iteslf and every person who had ever denied a permit without due process, or essentially denied a person of his or her rights to use their own land.

The Freedom of Information Law process alone should overwhelm the Agency enough to stop them in their tracks for a while, at least.

You're FIRED!

I've never watched Donald Trump in his many TV shows and have only seen him in action in the previews for them, but oh, how that phrase rings in my ears now when our illustrious leadership in DC has removed the head of General Motors.
Does this scare anybody? If not, why not? In business, this me be the most supreme example of micro-managing; here I believe it's rampant socialism. What right does a government leader have telling a major industry executive to step down?
Maybe the response is that it's only one time, that it's an exceptional situation, drastic action is needed....
What will be the next necessary drastic action? Will it be another international business? Will it be your state's government? How about your school district, or maybe your church?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You're on Your Own

Last year my wife and I spent some time on the Jersey shore and discovered that there had once been a thriving community just south of the Cape May lighthouse. There is virtually nothing left of it now. The town rose up in the mid to late 1800's and was pretty much wiped out in a hurricane around 1950 or so.

I don't recall whether there were lives lost or not, but when we read the accounts of the destruction we noticed one thing. The people just sucked it up, moved inland aways and stared over. Nowhere in the accounts of the disaster were accounts of anyone wondering where the government was, why didn't someone help, who is going to help them rebuild...

What has happened to that mentality? We can point to the Katrina mess and say that much was done wrong by all parties involved...but that's not the point here. What has happened to personal responsibility? Every time there is some major disaster politicians race to have their areas declared disaster zones so that the federal money will come racing in. That's not responsibility, it's irresponsibility!

We need to be responsible for ourselves. We also need to remember what it was like when neighbors looked out for neighbors. It shouldn't be that difficult to take care of our immediate needs, then help out our neighbors' immediate needs, and when the mess is over work on the rest of the details, helping out your neighbors when possible.

But wait! Doesn't the Bible tell us to bear each others' burdens? As a matter of fact, it does, but it does not tell us to expect that someone else will take all our problems off our hands. The fact that we should be willing to help others out should not be an excuse to expect others to race to our aide every time we need help.

I firmly believe it's our responsibility to help out anyone we can, any time we can. However, we should never expect anyone--particularly the government to run to our aid every time we need a helping hand.

Jump on the Bandwagon

Now that the US Congress is after AIG, other government parties are getting in on the act. I just read this morning that a bunch of other politicians are weighing in on restraining compensation of top executives of such outfits.
Now, on the surface this sounds fine, maybe even a great idea, but think about it a minute. If the government can regulate how much a a professional money manager (or money mis-manager) makes a year, what is coming next? Will a lawyer who rakes in a multi-million dollar fee for a major case be next? Is a doctor who uses highly developed skills to cure in line also? How about an auto worker, steel work, police officer, fire fighter, material handler...? We're headed right down the path toward regulated wages. That would be another part of socialism. It doesn't bother us when the proposed regulations are on them, but we'll realized the problem when it begins to effect us.
If the politicians wanted to reign themselves in first, maybe the industries would follow suit, but that's something we'll likely never see since those in power are not likely to ever pass meaningful salary restraints on themselves.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slippery Slope

I've been on slippery slopes before, and recall one instance very well. My middle son and I were shoveling the snow from the roof of our garage when suddenly my feet went out from beneath me and found myself up to my waist in a snowbank, from which I then had to dig my way out. The snowbank was actually the more dangerous place in that case, and thought the trip down was almost exhilarating I could have been hurt landing where I did, as I did.
Our high court justices often speak of slippery slopes: places they fear to go for danger of causing a larger problem than the one they're trying to address in a given case. I fear that we could be looking at one of these slopes in our nation today.
Like everyone else, I'm upset, maybe even outraged that the AIG executives were given multi-million dollar bonuses for inept work. It's most upsetting because it was our money--the taxpaying public's dollars. After it was over, our congress got into the act and decided to tax the bonuses at an exorbitant rate, and there starts that dangerous slide. Our constitution prohibits laws that are "ex post facto," after the fact. I fear that this is the most blatant example yet of this type of law. The money was given and taken before the law was even brought up before the House or Senate, let alone signed by the President--all after the fact, even if it becomes law.
Last night Jay Leno hosted President Obama on his late night talk show. Jay commented on his concern about what happens when the government decides it doesn't like him and goes after him for something he did in the past. The President sidestepped that issue and was, if I recall correctly, applauded for his response.
So, here we go down the slope, with most of the nation pushing the sled, or at least applauding the slide. If this passes, where will that take us?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Closet Bigot

I suppose that if you read my last post, you might believe me to be highly bigoted, and for good reason. I have a set of standards to which subscribe as the absolute standards. Never will I say that I'm perfect, I admit that I fall short in many ways; and if you don't believe that, check with my wife, kids, and employers. Somebody will rat me out.
Though not perfect, I don't make any attempt to redefine right and wrong. Also, I don't hate those with whom I disagree---though disagree I must.
Over the years I've rubbed shoulders with many men and women who are homosexuals. Generally, they are great folks. I've taught classes with them, worked law enforcement cases with them, and they've taught my children in school. I've also had friends who have had (or their girlfriends have had) abortions. Once again, they're generally nice people and I have no fear of them. But they delude themselves.
I certainly don't hate any of them, but will never alter my statement of what is absolutely right or wrong, just because they don't happen to agree with me.

Rite an rong

OK, so the title is spelled wrong. I know that, but that's the point. In school I had teachers who corrected things--or made me correct them, and I learned. Imagine the nerve of history teachers making students correct spelling, punctuation and grammer! Admittedly, I still make errors--in fact probably a lot of them, but the glaring ones stand out like sore thumbs. When something has to be perfect, I have my wife read it to be sure it says what I think it does, and if questions of structure arise either consult a style manual, or send it to my son, a professional embarassing is that.
Somewhere along the line, bad English became accepted, not just in text messaging and emails, but in proper print. I've seen glaring errors in syndicated news articles, so the problem goes all the way to the top.
So, what's the point? The point is that there are abolute rights, and absolute wrongs; not just matters of custom, opinion and preference. I'm still offended by men and boys who don't take off their hats during the National Anthem, but that's custom. It also bothers me when men treat their wives or girlfriends like one of the guys all the time, but that's a matter of preference for them and the choice to accept it for their gals. However, just like reading a professionally written advertisement saying "try and find...," some things are still wrong.
Calling abortion "choice" comes to mind quickly; culling the elderly and infirm in the name of "death with dignity" probably is worse yet. Calling homosexuality an "alternative lifestyle" follows right along behind, along with such things as "trans-gender" or other soft-sell approaches to saying WRONG.
Why are these thing wrong? Because the Bible is an absolute standard; there is no wiggle room or renegotiation on some things. That's why. It's not my opinion, not my preference; it's God's own Word!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simple pleasures, capturing ideas

We went out for a ride today. The sun was out, the sky was blue and it just seemed like a good idea. During the ride, I had lots of great thoughts that now are forgotten, but a few still remain.

We had a bite to eat at a country store that has just changed hands. It had been run by a woman who was an employee of the operator, and though she had some great ideas, the owner squelched her creativity. Another local guy picked it up and has taken off with a roar. I stop for coffee and a bite to eat there as often as convenient while I'm working and, though it's a bit out of the way for us, our ride started out more than anything else as a lunch date.

Maybe part of the reason I make a point of patronizing the place is that I have a soft spot in my heart for small, family owned businesses. My dad raised us while self-employed, and I admire anyone with the umption to follow his, or her, heart. Hopefully, this guy will make a go of it.
Another reason I'll likely go out of my way to patronize him is that only a year or so ago, my wife and I thought we'd be helping our son and daughter in law in a similar venture; so it's fun to watch this family and speculate what it would have been like.

Though I'm happy for this fellow and his family, it was somewhat sad to see the former operator close up shop. Not that the operator was a great loss, but the woman she had running the place was classy and had ideas that could have made the place take off. It's a shame that the operator didn't listen to the advice of the person who knew the business best.....probably a good lesson in there somewhere.

Our ride took us through four counties, not counting our own, and the scenery--complete with freshly fallen and blown snow--was pretty good. But we never think to have the camera ready! I had just stopped to shed my jacket and gotten moving again, when we saw a large hawk--or was it vulture--or even an eagle? I dug out the camera and Peggy Picture got a couple shots of it, but only after it had moved twice and was not giving us a very good view.
When we got home, we dug out the Peterson's Field Guide and powered up the computer. Though my first guess was a Golden Eagle, it turned out to be a rough legged hawk--but a big one. It was fun working through what we saw--and what we remembered--to figure out what it had been.

Now we're back home, making a pot of soup and wondering what the weather will bring us tomorrow.... Seems like the more hype the weather folks put into a forecast, the less unpleasant weather we get!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More righteous than I

We sat and watched a movie last night, not something I have the patience for often. It was the story of Ruth, as done by Sight and Sound in Lancaster, PA. I can read the entire book of the Bible by that name in only minutes, but the movie took a bit over two hours, and was worth the time. In the dialogue, the phrase "more righteous than I" appeared once or twice and for some reason struck a chord in me.
This afternoon, that chord started strumming again, and I took some time to think through why, at least superficially. I guess that there have been some times I've had to say that, or should have said it, anyway, and was humbled by the thought that I was less righteous than someone else. Humility in such a case is not a bad thing, I guess, and I'll take my lumps and be humbled when appropriate--at least I hope so.
The other half of the thought was when I got to thinking of times I was more righteous than someone in a particular situation. Though I can think of times that I was right--an annoying habit of mine--I'm not so sure that I can say there have been that many times I've been more righteous than others. That, too, is humbling.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The New Big Brother

George Orwell wrote his book, 1984, and had people worried about weather or not some almighty government would someday be able to figure out exactly what each member of society would be doing each moment. Today, we hardly need any government to do that, we're tossing that information out for all to see.
How? you ask. It's called Face Book. It's called My Space. There are probably others. I have resisted the urge to get involved in it, though I enjoy being social, keeping up with friends, and making new ones. Something about them bothers me, and if not using one keeps me in the dark ages, so be it. I'll stay there. My cell phone and email keep me in touch enough.
In the last couple weeks I've investigated two incidents wherein the stalking of young women was assisted by one of the networking sites. Both the girls were totally unaware of how easy it was to be located and identified by involvement with the sites. Both put themselves in danger by using them.
Big Brother doesn't have to go looking, we're playing our lives out right in front of him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus or anchor?

I'm still not sure if I like the whole idea of mortgaging our grandchildrens' future to bail out a troubled economy now. Just not sure it makes sense to double our deficit. Even if it's the right thing to do, the overload and government growth built into what has been working its way through Congress, and sure to be signed as soon as it's printed, is legend. There's more garbage built into it than I want believe, but it's public information and it's there.
There's also other things worked into it, things not even related to spending, but restricting religious activity on campuses which receive federal money...and how does that relate to stimulating the economy?

Cheers for a democrat??

My hat's off to NY's new senator, Kirsten Gilibrand. She stood up for what she thought was right when discussing gun violence. Apparently, some folks walked out. I hope she stands up to the current establishment in this continuing battle. Maybe conscience will prevail in this young lady and she'll realize that her beliefs and those of her party are at odds.
She won't be the first to have a change of heart as to political attachments. The "Great Communicator," Ronald Reagan was at one time a Democrat until he realized that their party line was no longer what he believed. He became the icon of the Republican party, bringing it to what is arguably the highest point of success in its recent history.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

irresponibile advertising

I don't like our state's lottery anyway; it being, as a friend puts it "a voluntary tax on people who are bad at math," but it has gone to new lows with some of its recent ads.

The ones I speak about have a young man in a business pointing out a woman in the company he's working for who lost all the company pension fund. But it's OK he says, because he's banking on one of the new instant games the state puts out, and he's going to win big and be set for the rest of his life.

It's bad enough on its face, but particularly troubling in these times. I just caught a news blurb the other day that desperation gambling will increase in this economy. Should the state be feeding the problems?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grudging Admiration and a strange question

I don't generally like the media, and still believe (in spite of several disagreements with son, who is one of them) that most of the media leans leans left--and no, I don't want to discuss it--I have to admire one portion which does something noble. This is the group that films, produces and aires the likes of chronicling the Duggar family.

First, my hat is off to the Duggars for living the life that they do, and having the willingness to let the world see it. They are a shining example for all to see. Though I watch them only infrequently, and I'll admit somewhat grudgingly, they are totally uplifting. They might not have it all, but they have all they need and are quite happy that way.

They are presented as people of Christian faith, and not mocked for it. It's a great thing to see a functional family, shown as being normal in a world where disfunction is more the norm.

As one of the many in this country who is in what I believe to be a functional family--my parents still married after 65 years, my wife and I nearing 35, all my children married...--we have begun to see a nation taken over by those who are not so raised. Do you think if there were more of likes of Jim Bob and his family we might not be in the national crisis we're in? Just asking.

You can use the same set up to ask many more questions. Figure that out for yourself.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monster Truck Control

I just read that "another" person was killed today in a monster truck event. It was only a week or so ago that someone else was similarly killed or injured. So why should we allow monster trucks if people are killed and injured?
The same could be asked on an international level concerning soccer games. These things incite riots; stadiums have collapsed and crushed fans...and we won't even talk about parents assaulting other parents at their kids' games. People have been killed and injured.
Even in auto racing cars, or part of them, have flown into the stands and killed or injured.
And for that matter, let's look at amusement parks. How many people, mostly children, are injured in rides each year?
All of these injuries and deaths are tragedies; but do we call for Monster Truck Control? Race Car Registration? Roller Coaster Bans? NO! Of course not. But Gun Control is always a hot topic.
I don't have numbers to support the thoughts I've just written, but think about it. If even a few people are killed or injured each year at motor events, sporting events or amusement parks; based on the number of those events, the percentage of injuries/event must be higher than the percentage of injuries/lawfully owned guns in the US.
I'm not suggesting that those things be regulated any more tightly than they are. I'm just trying to paint the picture to show the idiocy of many, if not most, if not all, gun control proposals.
I firmly believe that felons should not have guns, and have arrested many for that, and caused the seizure and destruction of many guns that way. I also believe that anyone using a gun in a crime should be put away for a long time; which seems to rarely happen in spite of mandatory sentencing. I believe that kids should not take guns to school--in the classroom that is. In the country, kids still go rabbit hunting before and after classes or tend their trap lines. One local school district (as I've been told) used to have a whole corner of the Principal's office stacked with rifles and shotguns through the fall and winter. The boys (and maybe a few girls) would bring them in when they came in, and pick them up when they left. Now, parents who stop to see a child's program get arrested because they've just come from a morning of turkey hunting and have a shotgun in the car. That's just plain DUMB, as are most current gun laws.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Politician

Since Senator Hillary was appointed and confirmed as Sec. of State, her position had to be filled by appointment of the Gov. Paterson. He had a long list of folks hopeful for the seat, but after a weeks of drama chose the most unimposing of the group. Kirsten Gillibrand--whose name I might have just misspelled.
First, I have to thank the good Gov. Paterson for picking an upstate candidate. Though she's still a democrat, she has a history of working for any person of her district who needed her help, and was supported across party lines. From what I've seen and heard, she's really a pretty altruistic politician! She also was endorsed by the NRA, though that might have been a "lessor of evils" choice, I really didn't study the issues at the time.
When she was in the House, I didn't pay that much attention to her, as it was not my district and the guy she beat got himself in bad spot and seemingly needed to be put out of office by the voters. Now that she's in a statewide office, I guess I'll have to pay more atttention to all her politics when the next election comes around.
DARN! That means I've got to pay attention again.

True Love

Tolls from upstate NY to New Jersey: Who knows, EZ pass just takes it out of my account.
Fillup of the gas tank (at least it was .30/gal. cheaper in NJ): Don't know that either, it just comes out of the account.
Watching your 8 year old granddaughter play a game of basketball, and giving her a pat on her sweaty little head afterwards: Priceless!
I guess what I really want to say here is that if you have to stop to count the cost, it probably isn't love. There area probably any number of directions I could go with that though, but I'll leave it at that for today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My wife got a bit upset with me last night as I fumed over all the fuss being generated in Washington. I probably did have more "humph"s, snorts and sighs than normal, but I'm just sick of it. I'll be working tonight, so don't have to worry about watching the news, either at 6 or 11, so she won't have to hear my distaste for all that's gone on.
I've been on Earth and concious of about 10 innaugurations, I'd guess, and have never seen so much fuss over one as this. Any elected president deserves a party. No problem with that, but this whole thing is absurd. Yes, Barak Obama is the first person of color ever to take office. That in itself is historic, and deserves some celebration I suppose. But give me a break! This isn't celebration, it's worship.
Barak Obama is a man. He is NOT, as has been said (by a noted Muslim), the messiah. He is not the one anwer to all our problems. He can't be. We're not in a national problem, it's a global problem. There's never been a time, except during the two world wars, when the world is so filled with problems.
I wish the new president well, however we can already see some of the direction he is pushing us in: the left. It will be an interesting time, no question about that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No consequences

This evening, one of our deacons was doing the prayer meeting. His lesson was out of the book of James, chap. 1, but probably could have used any of a couple dozen other chapters of about half the books of the Bible and had the same effect. He was talking about the verbs, the action--do it--words. Every one of the actions has a result, and each of the "don't do it" verbs have a consequence. As you might guess the consequence of the don't do its are not that pleasant.

It got me to thinking that we have a society today that lives without consequences, and I believe that some, if not much of our current financial meltdown are the result of living without consequences for too long.

When we first got a mortgage we got sucked into an adjustable rate situation which threatened to eat us up in about three years. We recognized that we would not be able to keep it up, and re-financed. Problems solved, but soon we'd been caught up in a situation with a bad furnace, a leaking garagge roof and the need for a new car....and we were over our heads again. Well, we had to cut back, and with another change in mortgage rates refinanced again. This time we learned our lesson and stayed withing our means.

Now people of all levels--and I do feel sorry for those who are losing or have lost their homes--are caught short because they'd never recognized that they were over their head in debt and dealt with it.

And then there are those who have been bailed out by the credit counselors and been able to repay only a portion of their debt, though in reality they'd probably already paid back more than what they'd ever charged by making minimum payments on a bunch or credit cards. But the point of it is that they've gotten away with not fulfulling their obligations. All too often, in a couple of years they're right back to the same position they were in before.

Our nation is in a bad financial spot, no two ways about it, but I fear that the national and global situation are either the natural result of the many small problems, or the small problems are end result of following the pattern set by the larger entities.

I hope this has made some sense.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inflating numbers

I had a nice chat with a friend last night about some mission work we'd done together several years back. He's become discouraged that the results of our work hadn't really taken root, and has changed the focus of his ministry to something entirely different.
I have to agree with him on a lot of what he said. We saw dramatic results of "our" work. Hundreds, if not thousands of men and women responded to the prestentation of the Gospel. The problem is that the Bible clearly teaches that if a person is in Christ, he is a "new creature" and therefor will not continue his life along the same pattern it was running before that.
In the years of the ministry he was in, the thousands of converts would have had something of a ripple effect in the nations of the work.
Now, I fully understand that we don't know what really went on in those hearts, and the stresses and cultural pressures that are involved in the lives of those men and women today; but we should expect to see some visible result. But we see little if any.
That's one part of the problem. The other part is the practice of those in that ministry (myself included) to claim for Christ the full number of decisions for Christ without at least qualifying it with commentary as to the cultural issues. The people in 3rd world nations like to please the visitors. If you ask, they'll respond the way they think you want them to.
Another problem in the ministry we were in was that there was no follow up for most of the folks with whom we dealt. If we saw 500 converts, maybe a few would trickle into local churches in the next month or so. Maybe some would sit down and really read the Bibles we gave them. But if 10 out of the 500 were growing Christians by the end of the year, I'd be surprised.
My friend has re-directed his ministry to young children. He believes, and I must agree, that if you change the children, you will change the nation.
The scary part of that is that it's working in this country, but going in the wrong direction!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Middle C

This morning in church I was marveling at some of the music: the hymns, the choir's anthem, the pianist's offertory.... As my mind wandered a bit during the offertory, I got thinking about the thing that all of them have in common: Middle C. That's a common reference point for all western music. You can ask virtually any musician to give a middle C and he or she can produce it, provided that the instrument is capable of it.
Middle C is a note that is known to be a certain frequency, and though it's approximated, it's about 261 hertz. and some decimals. (A above middle C is 440 hertz). Whatever it is, it's a standard. Anything in western music, tuned to concert pitch is the same.
We now live in a society with few, if any absolute standards. It started with the "do your own thing" of my early years and has become more noticeable since. When our nation was founded, it was designed with certain absolutes; they came out of the Bible. Though the men who fashioned our republic had many and varied viewpoints on how they practiced their religion, they all had the same source of authority: The Holy Scripture.
The "Do your own thing" mentality was becoming popular in the same time frame that the Bible was being thrown out of the schools. Families ceased to worship together if at all. Colleges which had been founded with the teachings of the Scripture were starting to question, if not throw out, all it said.
Now, our society was in chaos. It's as though someone went through a major symphonic orchestra and tuned all the instruments to a slightly different standard.

Friday, January 9, 2009

End of the Obama jokes

Confession time: The Obama jokes were fun while the race was on; actually some of the McCain jokes were pretty good, too. Barak Obama won, John McCain lost, the race is now over. For many days I continued to get emails which were jokes or rants about our soon to be president.
Even good Christian folks continued to send them and one day a responded rather tersley to one of them that it was time to end it.
As Christians, we above all are required--are you ready for this--PRAY for Obama, for Biden, and all of the appointments which are being or will be made in the short time between now and the election.
We don't have to like them. We certainly don't have to support their policies and politics, but we do have to pray for them.
At a point in time where the idiology of our nation seems to be at a crossroad, where "one nation under God" seems to be intersecting with "some nation under many gods," we need to pray all the more.
Makes you wonder if we as Christians have been praying hard enough, long enough, doesn't it?

Preaching to the choir

I get at least a dozen emails every day, somethimes 20 or more, not counting those which go directly to my junk file. Some come from like minded and very well meaning friends and acquaintance who send me information about something on which we agree. Most often, the information is already old, probably sent to me from another source days or even weeks ago. Sometimes it's nothing more that a news clip I've already seen somewhere myself.

Of course many of them are political, and lately many of them are issues about gun control and what's going to happen under the new US liberal government and the new NY state Democratic controlled government.

It's not fun to imagine how things can go, I've already got at least two copies of the pre-filed gun control bills, filed before the legislature was even in place if I understand the process correctly, and they're scarey, really scarey.

I used to get concerned more than I do now. First of all, I have to believe that God is in control, in spite of what appears to be a government which appears to be spinning out of control and gaining momentum as it goes. Also, I no longer look at the people proposing and supporting these laws as either inherently evil or just blithering fools, they are neither (hopefully), just out of touch with reality in that they only see what their narrow minds and their political cohorts want them to see.

Additionally, I've started to put gun control into perspective. Yes, it's been a tool of totalitarian governments in both recent (Germany and Russia come to mind) and not so recent (ancient Japan is good example) history. The human race has survived none the less, though there has been much suffering which might well have been averted had the populace not been disarmed. But gun control is not in and of itself evil. It can even be sold as a noble endeavor. If guns could be dis-invented I might even support it myself, but then would there be knife control (surely there would be), baseball bat licensing? Would we start to legislate control over anything that could be used to injure someone? A host of martial art weapons developed were nothing more than common tools pressed into service as effective weapons.

But I digress from the point. Gun control is not evil in itself. There are greater things out there which are truly evil in and of them selves. We have abortion. Though I don't have the stats in front of me, there is no denial that millions of babies are killed each year. Partial birth abortion is particularly disturbing as it kills--that's right KILLS a viable human being. And our taxes fund this horror! That's evil. When placed alongside gun control, gun control sort of pales by comparison, doesn't it.

And then there's euthanasia, the killing of the old and infirm. My dad is 89 years old. He's somewhat infirm, suffering from some dementia, and he drives my mom nuts with some of his behaviors. It's even tough for the family to be around him for extended periods of time. We used to take him and my mom out for lunch once a month or so, but his behavior is no longer acceptable in public, or at least so unpredictable we worry about it, so now we pick up good take out that he likes and we take them to lunch at their house.

There's a DNR order hanging on the refriderator in case he has another heart attack, with instructions to make him comfortable, but not to take any heroic actions to safe him. That is his wish, with the consent and advice of all his kids, myself included. However, the thought that he could call his doctor and say "I've had it, give me a shot and end this nonsense" is outlandish. Worse yet is the possibility that my siblings and I could say, "Dad is just a drain on everyone..." You can finish that for yourself. The same would be my mom saying "I've had it with Dad..." and you can finish that one yourself also.

Though the above scenarios seem ludicrous, we have assisted suicide laws in some states now, how soon will we have euthanasia by committee decision? Now THAT's evil. We still call that homicide here. I pray we always will.

All that said, I do understand suicide, and think it's generally a long term solution to a short term problem, as a good friend calls it. I understand it, but it's still wrong. People are taken to the end of their own resources, either physical, emotional, spiritual, or even financial, and see it as the only way out.

Taking a life is aways wrong. The Bible is clear on that. There are certain exceptions for society exacting the death penalty, for self defense, but that's about it. The willful, intentional taking of life is murder.

And in spite of all these things, and laws leading to allow them, God is still in control. If I could not trust that, maybe I'd be calling the doctor myself.

More on map reading

My wife and I love to travel. Generally I do most of the driving, I guess it's a guy thing, and she's the navigator. I've often been confused by her instructions even though she gives clear and simple directions.
A few months ago I rode my motorcycle from our home in upstate NY to a meeting of what's called the Christian Game Warden Support Group, held in hunting camp about 40 miles west of Nashville, TN. I did the entire trip withough her giving me directions! Never got lost even once! Didn't even get too confused!

How did I do that? Simple, I spent time studying the map myself. I looked at the hard copy of the map, checked out confusing areas with some of the tools available on the computer, had good written directions.... In short, I put time into it myself and didn't rely on a navigator.

I have a pastor, two actually, I think the world of of. They're both Godly men, good teachers and preachers, and I trust what they tell me, that's it's the true way, the proper directions, by which to live my life. However, I still need to get a look at the map myself. The map I speak of, of coures is the Bible.

Even thought I trust my wife's directions, it's no replacement for studying the map myself. Even thought I trust the teaching of my pastors, it's no substitute for sitting down with the Bible myself.

On map and compass

Finally got out on snowshoes today. I had a call yesterday from a friend I'd not seen in a long time and he came over to go do some shoeing and get a quick lesson in map and compass.
He'd picked up a new GPS based device that worked as an electric compass and a way to always get you home, but he'd never learned how to use the simple compass and map. We spent about an hour or so doing basic skills in the treefarm and then went into the woods and used the compass and map to get us out. Amazing, simple little thing.

After a cup of coffee, and discussions about kids, education, and a host of other things, the discussion turned to religion. He'd left his Roman Catholic faith after returning from serivce in Viet Nam. He felt like it just wasnt' what it had been when he'd left. Though not Catholic, I'm sure he's right. The problem is that in spite of absolute dedication to what he thought he'd been doing all those years of faithfully attending services and practicing his faith, he didn't have a clue what had been said.

From what I've heard of Catholic Mass(es), mostly the Mass of Christian Burial, the plan of salvation is there. It may be hidden by all the smoke and mirrors, but it's there. As a matter of fact, the saddest part of attending a MCB is the thought that the person being buried probably missed the point of the whole thing because of all the ritual surrounding it.

Just as my friend had never learned the simplicity of a map and compass--despite having the compass a long time, but had learned to rely on an electronic gadget, he had never caught the simplicity of the Gospel, but instead had learned to rely on what he thought had been the point.

Someday, the batteries will fail in his gadget, or he'll be in such heavy cover that it will lose its signal. He will at least then be able to find his way back with the simple yet trusty old compass.
Unfortunately, he's not grasped the importance of trusting on the other simple compass: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only thing that will get him to his destination.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Failed plans

I'd had grand plans of getting on snow shoes and stomping around the Christmas tree farm in back of the house today, and might yet if the weather changes. Right now, however, the snow is falling and blowing a bit too hard for "recreation" and sitting in the recliner with the computer on my lap seems like a better thing to do. Maybe the lake effect will pass in a while, the sun come out and I'll get those shoes on at that.
I've had a lot of plans fail over the years, some of them were the fault of the weather, some due to actions of others; there have been mechanical failures, heath issues, emergencies with the kids and a host of other reasons--and some were my own fault--but many have failed.
But as think back on it all, God has never changed HIS plan. He's had His hand on my life, and my plans, all these years. Never has there been a day when He wasn't looking out for my well being and my future.
That's not to say that I've always followed along in His plans. I'm certain that there were points in time when He said "OH! I wish he wouldn't do that!" or "No, go that way!"
Now that I've been a parent for about 34 years, I understand what the Bible means when it tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. My wife and I have often agonized over decisions our children made, paths that they chose. However, it was, and is, their own lives to live and paths to travel. When they were young we had more control over what they did; when, where and how they did it. As they got older, the control lessened and they took on more responsibility for their own actions. Now, as adults, we have virtually no control, only the ability to offer advice and present to the the pattern we believe is the proper one.

I'm not sure exactly how that works with God. I've heard it said that there is His perfect will and His permissive will. Essentially that He will bring us to certain places somehow, but let us bounce off the guardrails with our own mistakes along the way. I think that this is our poor way of explaining His great plan. He lays out the path for us and, according to Scripture if we trust in him he will make our path straight. That model works pretty well looking at my own life. It seems as though when I've let myself follow my own plans I started heading off on those crooked ways and begin to bang into the edges.

Hindsight here is a great thing. I am very contented and fulfilled at this point in my life. I can look back and see the path by which I got here, and also the places I tried to get off that straight path, and how I ended up back on it. Only the hand of a mighty God could have done that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday School Class

I once thought the idea of an adult Sunday School class was somewhat of an oxymoron. Over the years I've seen the errors of my ways and truly love the class I'm now a part of. We're doing the book of Revelation, and it does get interesting looking at prophecy in light of current world and national politics. It's a mens' class, and pretty much gloves off. On top of that, when it gets too slow, someone--often me--will make a statement, or answer a question in a way sure to get it wound up again.

Yesterday's class was a bit more intense than normal, we actually never got to the text, but went into issues of world religion such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, and how the founding fathers of this nation would have dealt with them. What are their rights, anyway? If the constitution grants a freedom of religion as we believe the Bill of Rights does, should a Buddhist display be allowed along side a nativity scene in a public park?

And what do Muslims really believe? Should we distrust all of them? Any of them? Why? That led into a discussion of the Crusdades. Was it right to have a Christian Army pushing to take back what the armies of Allah had taken? Maybe the war was just, but to make it a almost a turn around from the Muslim conversions at the point of a sword, to a Christian conversion by the same means.