Saturday, October 31, 2009

Architectural Anomaly

From My Perspective - - -

October 31st is usually thought of as Halloween or All Saints Day. However, this day is significant for another reason. “On 31 October 1517, Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy and error. Some cite this as the starting point of the Protestant Reformation even though men such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet and others had already put their life’s work and lives on the line for same cause of truth, laying the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built. Luther's action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther's charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Luther's views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, by then assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught…Luther apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said he could not reject the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, ‘I cannot and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.’ On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.”

The Church of the Reformation moved forward with determination. It met in modest and simple surroundings as it slowly progressed. The lavish places of worship and ornate nature of them was a stark contrast to monastic life. For several centuries, places of worship have been built at great expense. Even in the Old Testament Scriptures, the description of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Temple of Solomon, give evidence of the detail and lavishness of them. Equally intriguing is the idea of Church Steeples. A study was shared in 2001 by Christian History Journal on Church Steeples. The article stated: “Steeples are inspiring, but they don't necessarily serve any practical architectural purpose…they beg the question: Where did the idea come from? The spire originated in the twelfth century, but America's steeples are descended from those designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The fire began early on September 2, not far from the famed London Bridge, overtaking everything in its path. Over four days the conflagration destroyed most of the city. Many famous buildings, including St. Paul's Cathedral and 86 other churches (not to mention more than 13,000 homes), were destroyed, and the city smoldered for months. The task of rebuilding many of these houses of worship fell to Wren, a young architect. Noted for his Oxford background as a mathematician and astronomer, Wren was commissioned by King Charles II to rebuild St. Paul's Cathedral. In his design of St. Paul's and about 50 other city churches he included steeples, leading men and women to turn their gaze toward God in his heavens. Wren's simple, straightforward treatment of the steeple quickly caught on. They were increasingly found on American churches, often with bells built in the tops. These bells served dual purposes, calling worshipers to services and summoning citizens for special announcements or emergencies.”

An anomaly is: “Deviation or departure from the normal…form, or rule.” The ABC News Webpage includes a weather story: “Storms rolled through the Mississippi Valley last night…and toppled over a Church Steeple in Shreveport, Louisiana.” Steeples can be meaningful and attractive, but what occurs beneath the Steeple is far more important. Jesus demonstrated that truth in Matthew 21:12-14 [The Message]: “Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants…My house was designed and designated to be a House of Prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves. Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.” You should not need a Steeple to cause you to “Keep Looking Unto Jesus – the Author and Finisher of your Faith [Hebrews 12:2].” He is always near! Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ebenezer Scrooge Lives On

From My Perspective - - -

From a brief summary: “Ebenezer Scrooge is the main character in Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight fisted, greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which engender happiness. A quote from the book reads ‘The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice…’ His last name has come into the English language as a byword for miserliness and misanthropy, traits displayed by Scrooge in the exaggerated manner for which Dickens is well-known.” He changed his ways near the end of his life but caused much suffering and inconvenience before he did.

An application can be made for the present Congress of the US. In their effort to offer the possibility of a Government Option so everyone can have Health Care Coverage, they have resorted to their slight of hand magic. While attention is focused on center stage, the real action is occurring behind the scenes and behind locked doors. In a very gushing and enthusiastic manner, Nancy Pelosi presented her long-promised Health Care Reform Bill – along with the promise that it will be posted on the Internet before it is voted on so the American People can read this for themselves – all 1,990 pages of it. Also, “it will not add one-dime to the deficit.” To make it appear to be budget-neutral, it required moving some things from the Health Reform Bill to a separate Bill to be introduce later. The saying – “the devil is in the details” – could not be more true than it is with the unconscionable and devious manipulations of those who in actuality are betraying a public trust. They conveniently find a Poll that indicates 55% of the people support Health Care Reform to justify their plan. What are some of the unstated direction of Health Reform? One does not need to read the 1,990 pages of the Bill – just look at the Medicare Fees for 2010. The Premiums for Advantage Coverage have doubled; co-pays have been re-introduced; patients will pay $200.00 per day (up to 6 days) for a Hospital stay; Prescription Drug co-pays will be required. Fixed Income people, whose 2010 Social Security Benefits did not receive an increase for the first time in many years, will have to figure out some way to meet their medical costs at the expense of other necessities of life. Ebenezer Scrooge Lives On! While one watches the discussions and proposals of Congress, the slight of hand in Medicare has already mandated costly changes for one’s Medical Care. The devil is in the reality and bottom line of 2010 Medicare costs and benefits.

The following has been attributed to a number of political philosophers and thinkers, including Lord Thomas Macaulay, Alexander Tytler and Alexis DeTocqueville, namely: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.” We are almost there and are displaying eagerness to knock on that door. Remember though: Ebenezer Scrooge Lives On!

It is easy in this culture to become susceptible and selfish. Most have that potential and propensity. One can read about such a choice in The Amplified Bible, Numbers 21:5-6 – "And the people said against God and Moses, why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water, and we loathe the light (contemptible, unsubstantial) manna." The people complained about God’s supernatural provision for them. God’s response to their complaints is: "God sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many Israelites died." Psalm 78:18 states: "…they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their selfish desire and appetite." The real choice is limited and should be obvious: Follow the Lord! Trust in Him at all times and for all things! Do not fear men or the governments of man! God’s Grace is always sufficient! Consider these things with me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Language Manipulation - Semantics

From My Perspective - - -

There seems to be an unwritten code for most politicians, that in order to succeed with proposed legislation, one must be adept with Language Manipulation and the clever use of nuance, idioms and semantics. Semantics is: “The study or science of meaning in language. The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form…” It reminds one of the old saying: “A Rose by any other name is still a Rose.” It also suggests remembering the words attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” The Basic Premise is that ambiguity confuses the true definition and detail. This is a tool used when discussing “Funding” for a proposed Legislation. The current discussion of Health Care Reform is using this tool when the statement is released that there will be a savings of $81 Billion without indicating there is still a Basic Cost of more than $850 Billion, and the reduction of Medicare Funding, and the Increase of Taxes (shall we call them enhancement fees, or a way to arrive at universal inclusion?). The Congressional Logo should be a Spider Web to symbolize the words of Sir Walter Scott: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Language is intended to Clarify – not Confuse! Language is intended to Help – not Hinder! Language is intended to be Definitive – not Deceptive!

An illustration of Language Manipulation is given in a Headline on Breitbart in an Associated Press Release on October 26th with this Headline: Pelosi: Health Care 'Public Option' Needs New Name. The AP News Item states: “A government-sponsored public option for health care lives, though it may be more attractive to skeptics if it goes by a different name, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday. In an appearance at a Florida senior center, the Democratic leader referred to the so-called public option as The Consumer Option. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, appeared by Pelosi's side and used the term Competitive Option. Both suggested new terminology might get them past any lingering doubts among the public—or consumers or competitors.”

Another illustration is when The War On Terror underwent Semantic Revision. A News Item in the Washington Post on March 24th, 2009 stated: “The U.S. is no longer engaged in a war on terrorism. Neither is it fighting Jihadists or in a global war. President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official took all three terms off the table of acceptable words inside the White House during a speech Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. The President does not describe this as a war on terrorism, said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a new way of seeing the fight against terrorism. The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is at war with al Qaeda. We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda's murderous agenda. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the administration was not using the term war on terror…” What is the new term for the activity of the U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan? It is NOTWar On Terror” but “Overseas Contingency Operation".

All of this is a far cry from the words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5:37): “Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” In the New Living Translation, it is stated: “Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.” And, in The Message: “Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” Jesus confronted the Pharisees (Matthew 12:36-37) with these words: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless (idle) word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus condemns Language Manipulation! He wants us to be exact and precise in the words we use – say what we mean and mean what we say! Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Locked Door Transparency?

From My Perspective - - -

Life is filled with many oxymoron situations (oxymoron: a rhetorical figure where contradictory terms are combined). Government of the people, for the people, and by the people is supposed to operate with openness and clarity. Instead, what is taking place in an unfolding drama (or is it charade?) in the US Senate at the present time is anything but that purpose and commitment. A Committee that is working on particulars of a Health Reform Bill and Budget has decided to exclude the Republicans from the discussions because “they don’t behave properly”! They have carried this to a point of absurdity by not only locking the doors to the conference room but also changing the lock on the door. Guess who doesn’t have a key to the door?! At a time when one would hope there would be bi-partisan involvement, a decision for exclusion has occurred. Even if a group or individual “does not behave properly”, should they not be allowed to participate and offer constructive amendments to very important matters and legislation? When did we become a nation of rule by 60% rather than 100% representation? This means that a growing number of citizens are deliberately being ignored and disenfranchised so a multi-trillion dollar legislation can be enacted.

One wonders if the following words have any meaning or significance: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Whatever happened to “Tranquility” and “Liberty” in the scheme of things in Congress? Haven’t our elected officials sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States? It appears they need to read at least the Preamble – and – do so soon. In fairness, if a person wants to participate in a conference meeting, the purpose should be something more than to merely wrangle about minutia and counter-proposals. Those who are “locked out” should remember that they did very little to address health reform when they were the majority. The best they could do was come up with an outlandish and nightmarish Prescription Drug Program.

Is there any true hope that can emerge when some choose to do business in the shadows and secretly? Can exclusionary politics work effectively for a nation? What is the ultimate hope and goal for a viable nation that commits itself against any form of indenture or tyranny? One would hope there would be the reality of particular Biblical truth in the minds and governing protocols of elected officials.
Proverbs 21:1 from The Message: “Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God; He directs it to whatever ends He chooses.”
In the KJV: “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.”
Proverbs 14:34 from ESV: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
John 7:4 - As Jesus was beginning his public ministry, his brothers tried to impress upon him a principle:
“No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
Luke 12:2-3 – A Truism Enunciated By Jesus:
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

There is always a day of reckoning and accountability for us all. Those who speak, whisper and act in what they deem to be exclusionary privacy will one day hear their words that were “whispered in secret” shouted in public! It is a frightening prospect for us. This very possibility should provoke greater character and manifestation of integrity and transparency both in one’s personal life as well as in matters that affect a greater number of people. How much whispering and scheming do you do in the shadows and darkness? Our Mandate is to “Walk in the Light as He is in the Light.” Why don’t we just do it? Consider these things with me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope or Hype or Hoax

From My Perspective - - -

Last week, most Cable News Channels featured a heart-wrenching account of six-year old Falcon Heene of Fort Collins, Colorado who was allegedly playing in a weather-type balloon that accidentally launched. Helicopters were scrambled; Denver Airport temporally halted flights; Emergency personnel were quickly on the scene pursuing the Balloon; and people were temporally riveted to their TV sets hoping and praying the young boy could be rescued. The public was so caught up in the event that they emailed suggestions of what might be tried to bring the balloon safely down.

Hours and days have now past and a news headline in today’s - The Wall Street Journal Online – is “BALLOON INCIDENT A HOAX, POLICE SAY”. The body of the news report states: “Colorado law-enforcement officials are now certain that the tale of the ‘balloon boy’ was a publicity stunt, they said Sunday, and are planning criminal charges against the child's parents for reporting that he had drifted into the sky aboard a saucer-shaped balloon. Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said investigators had concluded that Richard and Mayumi Heene made up the story involving their 6-year-old son, Falcon, in hopes of attracting media coverage and getting a contract to star in a reality television show. Parents of the boy in the Colorado wayward balloon chase now face criminal charges over the much publicized incident. It has been determined that this was a hoax, a publicity stunt, the sheriff said Sunday, adding, On the bizarre meter, this rates a 10…He would recommend the filing of two felony charges against the parents - contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which carries a maximum sentence of six years, and attempting to influence a public servant. The government will also seek restitution for the money it spent scrambling to find the child…”

Today, The London Times Online reports: “HILLARY CLINTON SUFFERS ‘MIS-SPEAKING’ RELAPSE WITH BELFAST BOMB CLAIMS”. The body of the report states: “Hillary Clinton has been caught ‘mis-speaking’ again in a manner that suggests that she hasn’t learnt from past experiences of her globe-trotting, ‘lily-gilding’ speeches. The US Secretary of State was exposed during her battle with Barack Obama to become the Democratic presidential nominee over her claims to have landed in Bosnia under sniper fire. She was even described as ‘a wee bit silly’ for claiming greater credit than was her due for the Irish peace process, having made several visits to Northern Ireland as First Lady. She was back in Belfast last week, giving a gentle push to politicians dragging their heels over a final piece in the peace process jigsaw. During a speech she made to the Stormont parliament she said that Belfast’s landmark Europa Hotel was devastated by an explosion when she first stayed there in 1995. The Europa, where most journalists covering the decades-long conflict stayed, was famed as Europe’s most bombed hotel, earning the moniker ‘the Hardboard Hotel’. The last Provisional IRA bomb to damage the Europa was detonated in 1993, two years before President Clinton and his wife checked in for the night. The last time the Europa underwent renovations because of bomb blast damage was in January 1994, 22 months before the presidential entourage booked 110 rooms at the hotel. Mrs. Clinton told assembled politicians at Stormont: ‘When Bill and I first came to Belfast we stayed at the Europa Hotel…even though then there were sections boarded up because of damage from bombs’.”

It would be refreshing if lives would be lived and seen as honest and true. It would also be welcomed if there was less embellishment in terms of what is said and communicated. It would be beneficial if Biblical Principles for life and speech would be the reality that governs one’s words and actions. In The Amplified Bible - Romans 12:17, “Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble - aiming to be above reproach - in the sight of everyone. And, in II Corinthians 8:20-21 – “We are on our guard, intending that no one should find anything for which to blame us…For we take thought beforehand and aim to be honest and absolutely above suspicion, not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men.” Above Reproach and Aiming To Be Honest and absolutely above suspicion – worthy goals and practices. That should be our Hope and Daily Pursuit. Consider These Things With Me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Boetcker Decalogue

From My Perspective - - -

In trying times, some look to the past in search of words of wisdom that can offer guidance for the present. Many attribute The Boetcker Dialogue to Abraham Lincoln – perhaps based upon the approach and inclination of the author - Ralph Keyes' axioms of misquotations – namely, "Famous Quotes Need Famous Mouths."

The Rev. William John Henry Boetcker was a Presbyterian minister and notable public speaker who served as director of the pro-employer Citizens' Industrial Alliance, a position he held when, in 1916, he produced a booklet of nuggets from his lectures. Boetcker's collection of maxims eventually crystallized as the list of ten now-familiar entries (variously known as the Industrial Decalogue, the Ten Don'ts, the Ten Cannots, Ten Things You Cannot Do, or the "American Charter"). His axioms are:
• You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
• You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
• You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
• You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
• You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
• You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
• You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
• You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
• You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
• You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

The axioms have merit and use for the current context of our nation and world. With National Deficits reaching levels that are difficult to comprehend; with the World’s Economies in critical condition; with no clear remedy or discipline to change course to a more sound business acumen – some light needs to penetrate the financial darkness. There was a time when Lighthouses and Fog Horns were employed to warn of impending danger. This was intended as a navigational aid to avoid shipwrecks and other potential peril. Perhaps it is time for The Boetcker Dialogue to be proclaimed and embraced as a Beacon.

There are many Biblical Axioms regarding Finances and Financial Management. A Basic Direction regarding finances is given in Deuteronomy 28 - - -
Borrowing Is Not What God Taught His People To Do - - -
Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 12:
“If you fully obey the LORD your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will exalt you above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God. The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens to bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.”
The Consequence of Being A Debtor or A Debtor Nation - - -
Deuteronomy 28:43-45, 48:
“The foreigners living among you will become stronger and stronger, while you become weaker and weaker. They will lend money to you, not you to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail! If you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and to obey the commands and laws he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed…You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. They will oppress you harshly until you are destroyed.”
There are always choices to be made in the maintenance of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. One can ignore the Biblical Axioms – but Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Poverty, Hunger, and Becoming Indentured – can also become one’s experience. People and Nations have made wrong choices in the past – to their regret. Don’t be one who does similarly in the present. Consider these things with me!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is The Nobel Prize Noble?

From My Perspective - - -

The awarding of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner was announced this past week. The Prize was instituted and named for Alfred Bernard Nobel 1833–96, Swedish engineer, manufacturer, and philanthropist. He was the Swedish chemist and engineer who invented dynamite (1866). The foundations of the Nobel Prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Bernard Nobel wrote his last will, and bequeathed most of his fortune to institute and establish the Nobel Prizes. Since 1901, the intention of the prize was to honor men and women for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, for work in peace and economics.

In its announcement and citation, the following was stated: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. President Obama has created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to his initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened. Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as President Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population. For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which President Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that - Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

On another hand, The American Heritage Dictionary defines Noble as: “Possessing hereditary rank in a political system or social class derived from a feudalistic stage of a country's development. Having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor: a noble spirit. Proceeding from or indicative of such a character; showing magnanimity…” Interestingly, a news article in the New York Times, written by Raymond Hernandez and Christopher Drew - Published: December 20, 2007 the following was stated: “In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois legislature — to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate. In the end, Mr. Obama chose neither to vote for nor against the bill. He voted “present” - effectively sidestepping the issue, an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator. The record has become an issue on the presidential campaign trail, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, has seized on the “present” votes he cast on a series of anti-abortion bills to portray Mr. Obama as a “talker” rather than a “doer.” Mr. Obama’s use of “present” is being raised as he tries to distinguish himself as a leader who will take on the tough issues, even if it means telling people the “hard truths” they do not want to hear.” Perhaps this issue of being a “talker” rather than a “doer” is what the Nobel Prize Committee is honoring – but it haunts him still with his current values and decisions (or indecisions).

We need to be careful in our lives so we don’t fall into the same snare – “talking” rather than “doing”! There are several Biblical guidelines – one of them summarizes most of them – James 4:17, “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it - sins.” The Message Translation states: “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, that…is evil.” Talk is cheap (unless you’re in Congress voting on spending bills) whereas significant and practical action are of considerable value. Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Justifying The Unjustifiable?

From My Perspective - - -

One of the key qualities for any person must be Integrity. It is a return and commitment to the concept that “one’s word is his/her bond.” It is one thing to address issues in Washington, DC and a previous administration and Congress generating a “Culture of Corruption”, it is another to maintain a non-corrupt environment for doing the nation’s business. When a transition is taking place and a number of key individuals are seen to have evaded or avoided paying particular taxes, what should be done? How should a government of non-corruption act? Should the voices of non-partisan Integrity unite to condemn and correct unacceptable behavior – especially on the part of those who are being elected and chosen to “lead”?

This past week the House of Representatives voted – and on an almost unanimous party-line vote - the majority successfully killed a resolution that would have removed Charles Rangel as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is the Chairman in charge of drafting tax legislation. While writing the tax laws that govern the nation, Mr. Rangel has neglected and avoided the law for his personal finances. At least six (6) areas have surfaced so far: 1) Failure to report over $1 million in outside income and $3 million in business transactions as required by the House; 2) Failure to disclose at least $650,000 in assets he had previously failed to list on his House financial disclosure forms; 3) Failure to disclose to the IRS or on his financial disclosure forms $75,000 in rental income for a beach villa in the Dominican Republic; 4) Violation of state laws by claiming three primary residences and breaking New York City regulations by maintaining four rent-controlled apartments; 5) Violation of House rules by using congressional letterhead to solicit donations for an education center bearing his name at City College of New York; and 6) Delinquency in paying his property taxes on two New Jersey parcels and failure to report the sale of a $1.3 million brownstone.

How does a Congress whose spokes-person condemned the “culture of corruption” view such behavior. One view was stated on MSNBC and reported as follows: "Many members" of Congress suffer from the same disclosure issues as Rep. Charles Rangel (D.N.Y.), one of his allies said Wednesday. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) appeared on MSNBC and downplayed the seriousness of allegations against Rangel that he failed to disclose sources of income and pay taxes on some properties, saying that many lawmakers suffer from innocent lapses in judgment when filing mandatory financial disclosure forms. "I want to tell you, there are many members who, if you go back over all of their records, over all of the years, you're going to find that there were disclosures that were not made," Waters said…” At least three significant phrases stand out in that statement: (1) Many members of Congress suffer from the same disclosure issues; (2) she downplayed the seriousness of allegations; (3) many lawmakers suffer from innocent lapses in judgment. The Nealz News contains the following statement: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." Frederic Bastiat.

Have you ever been audited by the IRS? Have you been extended any of the charitable assessment afforded the Chairman of both the IRS and The House Ways and Means Committee? Have you been extended the opportunity of paying past taxes with impunity – No Interest and No Delinquency Penalty payments? If you think so, dream on! The overall point is that the Bible gives basic principles and guidelines for proper and practiced behavior – Romans 12:17, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”; II Corinthians 8:21, “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.; and these words by Jesus in Matthew 22:18-21, “Jesus knew their evil motives. You hypocrites! he said. Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax. When they handed him the coin, he asked, Whose picture and title are stamped on it? Caesar's, they replied. Well, then, he said, give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." We should expect and demand integrity! We should all be champions of integrity. We should be committed to doing all things honest in the sight of all people! Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Being Otiose Versus Opulence

From My Perspective - - -

Earthquakes and Tsunamis – the very words suggest devastation and catastrophe. This is the news about Samoa and Indonesia, along with flooding in the Philippines and other areas. It means the loss of life and possessions. It impacts those who are otiose (being at leisure, idle, indolent; the ineffective or futile) as well as those who benefited from their opulence (wealth, riches, or affluence; abundance, as of resources or goods; plenty). Inasmuch as there are many more in the “poor” category than in the “well-off”, it appears as though some in the otiose area just can’t gain any traction or advance their status from where they are to where they aspire to be.

Groups that endeavor to assist those with on-going needs or who are experiencing emergency or catastrophic circumstances are stretched beyond their capacity. With the increase in unemployment and reduction of fixed incomes, charitable and benevolent giving has been negatively impacted. With the financial decisions of our government, it is only a matter of time before inflation, increased interest rates and income tax increases become a reality and burden – which also will impact charitable and benevolent participation. It even impacts the dead - in cities across our nation, there is an increasing number of unclaimed bodies accumulating in morgues – no family coming forward to claim a body - and in many instances because they are unable to pay for the associated costs.

A focus in terms of need awareness and response toward the needy is given in the Laws God established for His people. One is directed to be “open-handed”! In Deuteronomy 15:4-11: “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” There is also to be sensitivity toward those one employs – Deuteronomy 24:14-15, Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns. Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it.” Proverbs 22:22-23 has a firm resolve in this regard: “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.” And. The word of instruction in Psalm 82:3-4, Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

One day, Mary used expensive perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus. Judas Iscariot protested on the basis that the perfume should have been sold and the proceeds made available for ministry to the poor. In John 12:6, the observation made about Judas Iscariot is: “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” In John 12:8, Jesus makes this declaration: “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." Amazing words – “you will always have the poor among you” – demonstrating care of and for them is an ongoing responsibility and ministry. With those who are otiose, the response can be more measured. We are allowed to utilize the instruction of II Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat." However, we should try to maintain a balance as we employ the axiom of John Wesley who stated and practiced: “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” This should be the starting point and commitment for each of us. Consider these things with me.