Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dumpster Delicacies

From My Perspective - - -

The Economic downturn is affecting most industries. If it continues, it will also start impacting the fast food sector as well. Just suppose, in order to maintain a customer base and address the financial concerns of the customer, a new Menu Entrée was introduced – “Dumpster Delicacies”. People place their order and consume as much food as they can – but – untold amounts of uneaten food is deposited in the Trash Containers. In order to capitalize on this situation, innovative Managers have decided on a Food Recycling Program. They hire a worker whose task is to retrieve discarded food from the Trash, wash it (if needed), reheat it, and offer it at a lower price – perhaps at half-price - to a willing customer. How many customers would frequent the establishment offering “Dumpster Delicacies”? How many people would line up for the opportunity to buy recycled food? This new concept might receive the approval of some political and religious leaders as they construe to compassion for the economically disadvantaged and an attempt to begin an equalization effort or a level-playing field philosophy. Why would they think this way? How would they arrive at this place?

Wikipedia contains this brief, but apt, paragraph that has some bearing and significance: “Liberation theology is a movement in Christian theology which construes the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. It has been described by proponents as an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor, and by detractors as Christianity perverted by Marxism and Communism. Although liberation theology has grown into an international and inter-denominational movement, it began as a movement within the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America in 1950-1960. It arose principally as a moral reaction to the poverty caused by social injustice in that region. It achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. The term was coined by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote one of the movement's most famous books, A Theology of Liberation (1971)…The influence of liberation theology diminished after proponents using Marxist concepts were admonished by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1984 and 1986. The Vatican documents criticize certain strains of Liberation Theology for focusing on institutional dimensions of sin to the exclusion of the individual; and for supposedly inaccurately identifying the church hierarchy as members of the privileged class…”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), who was prefect of the CDF at the time when the Instructions were issued, published his own personal criticism of the movement in 1985. In this document Ratzinger claims that in certain forms of Liberation Theology, the meaning of basic theological terms is changed - terms such as hope, love, and salvation are assigned a Marxist interpretation in terms of class struggle. He also argued that Liberation Theology is not originally a grass-roots movement among the poor, but rather, a creation of Western intellectuals: an attempt to test, in a concrete scenario, ideologies that have been invented in the laboratory by European theologians and in a certain sense itself a form of cultural imperialism. He saw this as a reaction to the demise or near-demise of the Marxist myth in the West…” One can agree that the Pope’s assessment is correct. The clear and precise Purpose of the Ministry of Jesus Christ is stated by Jesus Himself in Matthew 11:2-6, “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him: Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? And Jesus answered them: Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

The current trend of Liberation Theology in our culture is a Dumpster Delicacy. It is a reworked and rehashed teaching that is being intellectualized today at bargain and discount prices. Don’t be deceived – it has been retrieved from the Trash Bin and is not what you should line up to secure. It is not good for you and can result in personal jeopardy and harm. Consider these things with me!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eating Off Of Dirty Plates

From My Perspective - - -

You are invited to a Formal Dinner and are properly seated. Dignitaries are also present at the Table. But – you notice something very strange – the Napkins are soiled, the Plates have old food dried on them, the Silverware has some old food in the Fork Tines, someone’s Lipstick imprint is on your Goblet – what would you do? Would you ask the Butler/Server for a clean Place Setting? Or, would you choose to not make an issue of this and cause embarrassment for the Host and Hostess? But suppose, as the Server is bringing the food to the table, he trips and falls – scattering the main entries of the meal on the floor? What if the Host says: “it’s alright, the floors have been vacuumed earlier this week, and if you don’t mind, serve your plate from what has fallen on the floor…” – now – what would you do? What if the Host suggested there are many people in the world who would be grateful for the opportunity to be in your place, using your dirty plates, and selecting choice food that had been scattered on the floor? Would you accept that suggestion and comply? Would you have a sudden loss of appetite? Would you excuse yourself from the table and not return? What if you were prevented from leaving, would you try to force your way out?

A worse scenario is occurring in our culture and society. The Core Values of the Nation are quickly eroding; “change you can believe in” is more Socialistic (and Marxist) than it is Constitutional. Things of lesser value are being dished up almost every day and served on Dirty Plates – but many people don’t seem to mind. Let’s change the above illustration just slightly. Suppose the setting of the Formal Dinner was in a TB Sanatorium and the Table conditions were the same – how would you feel, act, proceed. Tuberculosis was often associated with Consumption – “Consumption is the terminal stage of tuberculosis…If tuberculosis were always recognized when it is merely tuberculosis and proper treatment followed nobody would need to die of the disease…” The key is proper identification of the disease; proper treatment of it; and safeguards put in place to prevent it from spreading and becoming fatal. One thing is certain - you would not want to eat off of a dirty plate that had been used by a TB Patient! You would insist on sterile utensils.

One of the confusing trends of our times is that politicians and people willingly eat off of the dirty plates without any reluctance or protest. Like Hogs at a trough, they keep eating away and rooting to find more. Some of the evidences and description of the presence of Hogs is: “Hogs root up acres of land, and they've been used to plow fields. They'll flip over entire mats of forest floor to get at the meal underneath. Uncommonly you'll see gashes in tree trunks cut by the teeth of an aggressive boar. You more often see large roots that have been chopped through with their tusks. Frequently you'll see dead wood, chewed open with chunks scattered all around, as the hog goes after the worms, insects, fungus and occasional small mammal or bird tucked into it. Hogs root their beds in the ground. They lay in the holes which keep them cool in summer, warm in winter and help them hide. The beds are large, bowl shaped craters, most often under cover, but they can be in the open too…”

The Dirty Plate Syndrome is evidenced in Jeremiah 23:9-17 where The Lord observes: “…the land is full of adulterers…and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up…Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord. Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall…In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah… Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land." Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Does this sound like our current trend and direction in our culture, namely, “filling you with vain hopes…”? Stop Eating Off Of The Dirty Plates! Consider these things with me!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Empty Cups and Broken Saucers

From My Perspective - - -

Our world is filled with several broken cups and broken saucers. It is seen in those who have become “Leaders” in nations but marked by those who lack the historical perspective, personal scruple or a commitment to a strong republic and sound democracy. My Grandmother would remind us as children that the “hollow log always makes the loudest noise” – Grandma was correct – the landscape of our world has several “hollow log” types. A Psychological Concept would be lives being like cups that are trying to be filled by inane action and activity – but – they remain empty. The saucer has long ago been broken – but – no one seems to have noticed or cared. Very few “Leaders” have a sense of History and Sound Judgments based upon it!

On August 12th, 2010 George Will wrote a column that clearly illustrates the Historical Disconnect and ensuing tensions that result. It is entitled: “Obama and Netanyahu: Worlds Apart on Israel - He points out – “Two photographs adorn the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Together they illuminate a portentous fact: No two leaders of democracies are less alike - in life experiences, temperaments and political philosophies - than Netanyahu, the former commando and fierce nationalist, and Barack Obama, the former (community organizer), professor and post-nationalist.
One photograph is of Theodor Herzl, born 150 years ago. Dismayed by the eruption of anti-Semitism in France during the Dreyfus Affair at the end of the 19th century, Herzl became Zionism's founding father. Long before the Holocaust, he concluded that Jews could find safety only in a national homeland. The other photograph is of Winston Churchill, who considered himself one of the authors of Britain's embrace of Zionism. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 stated: "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." Beginning in 1923, Britain would govern Palestine under a League of Nations mandate. Netanyahu, his focus firmly on Iran, honors Churchill because he did not flinch from facts about gathering storms. Obama returned to the British Embassy in Washington the bust of Churchill that was in the Oval Office when he got there…”

On August 13th, 2010 John Bolton (former US Ambassador to the United Nations) issued a statement reported by David A. Patten: “Russia's Loading of Nuke Fuel Into Iran Plant Means August 21 Deadline for Israeli Attack.” The article states: “News that Russia will load nuclear fuel rods into an Iranian reactor has touched off a countdown to a point of no return, a deadline by which Israel would have to launch an attack on Iran's Bushehr reactor before it becomes effectively immune to any assault...Once the fuel rods are loaded…it makes it essentially immune from attack by Israel. Because once the rods are in the reactor an attack on the reactor risks spreading radiation in the air, and perhaps into the water of the Persian Gulf. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared in March that Russia would start the Bushehr reactor this summer…The story immediately became front-page news in Israel, which has laid precise plans to carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities while going along with President Obama's plans to use international sanctions and diplomatic persuasion to convince Iran's clerics not to go nuclear. Bolton made it clear that it is widely assumed that any Israeli attack on the Bushehr reactor must take place before the reactor is loaded with fuel rods…Bolton cited the 1981 Israeli attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor outside Baghdad and the September 2007 Israeli attack on a North Korean reactor being built in Syria. Both of those strikes came before fuel rods were loaded into those reactors…”

Do we live in perilous times? In II Timothy 3:1-5 are these words for perspective and warning - “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” These represent the empty cups and broken saucers in our day – perhaps the day of final countdown. Some may slough this off, while others will give heed to the words. What will you do? Consider these things with me!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dreams Can Turn To Ashes

From My Perspective - - -

Have you ever had a dream that you felt became more of a nightmare? Has that dream given you a sense of hopelessness and despair? Did it leave you with a feeling of frustration and helplessness? Did it make you wonder if there was anything you could aspire to and achieve? Is it reasonable to try?
Years ago, Frank Sinatra sang - - -
What now my love, now that you've left me
How can I live through another day
Watching my dreams turn to ashes And my hopes turn to bits of clay…

At about the same time-frame, an inspiring quote was shared by Robert Kennedy:
Some men see things as they are and say, Why?
I dream of things that never were and say, Why not?

From a Biblical perspective, Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote:
If there ever were dreams That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes And my castles all crumbled,
my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life And laid it at the cross.
Something beautiful, something good All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life.

From the anti-Viet Nam War era, John Lennon’s Album in 1971 shared this feature lyric:
Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try
No hell below us Above us only sky
Imagine all the people Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too
Imagine all the people Living life in peace...
Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us And the world will live as one…

These words share several things, among them are: emptiness of soul, unrealistic idealism, a quest for a type of Utopia, an alternative to reality, no eternal focus and no moral compass, an impractical philosophy of life, an irreligious solution for mankind.

Adding to the confusion of our time, the present Administration is misconstruing what is and isn’t a “Top Priority” matter. By definition, the dictionary defines top as a singular entity: "the part of anything that is first or foremost." However, we have been introduced to at least 16 “Top Priority” issues. Among theme are: a) $600 Billion Border Security Bill; b) to Recover and Rebuild from this Recession; c) creating jobs in our country; d) Free Trade Agreements; e) Energy Security; f) Education Reform; g) Student Loan Reform; h) Exports by Small Businesses; i) Health Assistance to 9/11 First Responders; j) End Homelessness Among Veterans; k) Hurricane Preparedness; l) h1n1 Flu Vaccinations; m) Support for Military Families; n) Strengthening Ties with Canada and Mexico; o) Environmental Protection…

Nowhere in the Top Priority List is any reference to God, and God Alone. The Basic Spiritual Principles should be: 1) Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness… 2) Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people…” 3) Jeremiah 29:13-14, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord…” Obviously, there is a choice – spiritual or secular! Alternative fixes/remedies will fail! Choose the Spiritual solution! Consider these things with me!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No Place Like Home

From My Perspective - - -

There is a common thread in each of our lives – regardless of where one is whether a Soldier in Battle in some designated war zone; or a missionary trying to reach a people and language group with whom there has been no previous contact; or an adventurer attempting to do what few have done before (or never done at all); or a person on a journey of necessity – the heartbeat is the same – there’s no place like home.

In 1939, a film was released that has become a Classic over the years. The title is: The Wizard of Oz. It features Dorothy Gale, a 12-year-old Kansas farm girl who is knocked unconscious during a Tornado. The film begins in Black and White with the Tornado moving towards the Farm House. Dorothy fails to make it to the Storm Cellar in time. She, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are transported to the magical Land of Oz and the film shifts into brilliant Technicolor. Dorothy sets out on the yellow brick road journey to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to return her to Kansas. Many events occur in her “dream” but when her wish is finally granted, two things occur: (a) the film transitions back into Black and White, and (b) Dorothy begins to regain consciousness muttering the words: “I want to go home!”

At a recent Funeral, the Minister addressed the hope of those embracing Biblical Christianity and the ultimate sense that to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” He incorporated the Lyric from a contemporary anthem written by Walt Harrah describing the Eternal Home for Biblical Christians. The Anthem is – “No More Night” and the lyrics are:
The timeless theme, earth and heaven will pass away.
It’s not a dream, God will make all things new that day.
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell.
Evil is banished to eternal hell.
No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great "I Am."
We will live in the light of the Risen Lamb.

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing.
The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King.
Slowly the names from the book are read.
I know the King, so there’s no need to dread.
No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great "I Am."
We will live in the light of the Risen Lamb.

See over there, there’s a mansion, that’s prepared just for me,
Where I will live with my Savior eternally.
No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great "I Am."
We will live in the light of the Risen Lamb.

In John 14:2-3 (NLT), Jesus states: “There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you…When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” In Revelation 21:3-4 are the words (NLT): “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever." Have you prepared yourself to go to this eternal home? Make it your destination! Embrace it as your only hope! Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kids In Konfusion

From My Perspective - - -

Why do children behave as they do? Are they concluding there is no hope for them – no way out in terms of the box in which their lives are being lived? Are they living in a context lacking in love, direction, standards, discipline and motivation? If parents are not at home and/or fully engaged with their children, what role model will they have or choose to follow? Are children “left on their own” to cope with their lives while parents are out of the home for employment or other reasons? Do we think of children as people with emotional and psychological needs – and - pain? Are children suffering as a consequence of over-indulgence? Is there a failure to allow children to be children and to develop in a more normal fashion? What is “normal” for children in the 21st Century? Have you ever seen or dealt with a child having a temper-tantrum? Have you ever dealt with a child who is totally frustrated? states the following: “Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds. As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8. Major depression is a serious condition characterized by a persistent sad mood, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and the inability to feel pleasure or happiness. Major depression typically interferes with day-to-day functioning like eating and sleeping. A child with major depression feels depressed almost every day. In kids, depression can appear as bad moods or irritability that persists even if a child doesn't acknowledge being sad. They can have low self-esteem, feel hopeless, and even have problems sleeping and eating…Bipolar disorder, another type of mood disturbance, is characterized by episodes of low-energy depression (sadness and hopelessness) and high-energy mania (irritability and explosive temper). Bipolar disorder may affect as many as 2% of kids. More than 2 million adults have bipolar disorder, which often develops in the late teen years and early adulthood. Research in kids is not comprehensive, but experts believe that kids and teens with bipolar disorder can experience a number of problems, including attention deficit disorders, oppositional behavior disorders, anxiety, and irritability in addition to changes in mood from depression to mania.” Some of the above is assumption, but enough of it is factual to call for alertness to the needs of those with whom we have contact.”

How one deals with symptoms and tell-tale indicators is vital. In the same way, how one faces experiences and issues with Pain – mental, physical or spiritual – is of great importance! Pain afflicts the body, soul and spirit – impacting the mind, emotion and will. Most wish for a remedy from the various pain experiences, but the quest is often in vain. Why? Pain has a way of recurring in ones body, emotions and mental state, as well as spiritual issues (measured often by the level of commitment). One can get a sense of the opinions regarding Pain and some form of management for it by looking at - Mental Pain often results in one sliding into Depression. It can be caused by frustration due to life’s situations and circumstances; or the inability to cope with the immediate; or the sense that there is no way out; or the conclusion drawn that no one cares or understands his/her plight – which leads to a conclusion that there is no need to be alive anymore – and suicide becomes the possibility or viability and option.

Proverbs 22:6 gives this guidance: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” A Psychologist many years ago commented on this verse and said: “Training up a child in the way he should go is an Adult Decision…” Proverbs 29:15 states: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” As crime rates and behavioral issues increase with our children, parents need to be more in tune with their God-given role regarding their children. The role of the Father is also a vital factor. Note the instruction of Ephesians 6:1-4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother…that it may go well with you…Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” You can and should have a meaningful impact and influence upon the Kids In Konfusion. Consider these things with me!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pain and Suffering

From My Perspective - - -

Pain is one of life’s inevitables. Since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, “pain” became part of the curse for disobedience – pain in childbirth; pain from working the fields and having to cope with thorns; pain in the body from extended labor; pain in sorrow when Cain killed his brother Abel. Pain became a continuum for all from that point and place forward.

Yesterday’s Blog on Gnarled and Knotty did not have space to add some personal vignettes of people and how they approached pain. In my thoughts was a woman I knew almost 50 years ago who would sit on her front porch every morning to read her Bible. She was in her 80s and her body had considerable arthritis and she experienced daily pain. As she sat on her porch she began each morning with this prayer: “Lord, Your Word promises – as thy days, so shall thy strength be – I need that strength to see me through this day – I claim that promise as my own.” I also thought of another elderly lady in her 90s who had been involved in music all of her life. She would come to church every Sunday and sit at the piano – her knuckles were swollen and her bones would grind as she was assisted to that place. She had constant pain but would sit at the piano and stretch her fingers as best she could, and would then play some lovely songs as a prelude and accompany the Hymns. Medications that give some relief today were not always available 50 years ago.

Yesterday, my wife and I traveled to a Surgical Center where many people had gathered to get some relief from their pain. It takes days and sometimes weeks to get a slot for an outpatient treatment to get a Nerve Block (Steroid Injection) to give some relief for the pain. Most people are there because on a scale of 1 (least pain) to 10 (most severe pain) they are measuring it as 8 to 10. They limp in and shuffle along, sometimes requiring assistance or a wheel chair, because their pain is so intense. Do they get relief? Yes! However, the relief they receive is temporary and the procedure can be repeated up to three times in a calendar year.

From a Legal point of view, for Physical or Psychological “Pain and Suffering”, Punitive Damages are often sought and many times granted. A Definition is: “Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury…Some damages that might be under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression or scarring…it is common for someone to seek money both in compensation for actual money that is lost and for the pain and stress associated with virtually any injury…The amount of money damages a claimant gets for pain and suffering will first depend upon the amount claimed in a lawsuit if such is filed or the amount demanded to the responsible party in the underlying claim if it is an insurance claim… Wrongful Death Suits are also part of the Punitive Damages that can be sought. Despite the reasoning for Punitive Damage Lawsuits, money can never and will never alleviate Pain and Suffering.

Pain and Suffering are rampant in our world – injury, disease, sorrow, starvation in many places of our world, homelessness caused by war and natural disasters, lives being destroyed from the habitual use of drugs and alcoholic beverages – is there any relief in sight? Is there any hope?

Revelation 21:1-4 (Selected from NKJV), “I saw a new heaven and new earth…the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” In verse 27, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” We’re not there yet but if we endure we will be – the time of “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying…and no more pain.” This is Hope you can really believe. Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) urges” “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,” By Faith, you can rest with confidence in this full assurance of hope. You can make it – others have – and you can too! Consider these things with me!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gnarled and Knotty

From My Perspective - - -

Pain Hurts is an understatement! If one walks in the woods, the chances are that a Gnarled and Knotty Tree will be observed – a tree that has been part of a tract of land for many years – withstanding many storms and much wind – and in the course of its existence has grown with marks of age that has left it gnarled and knotty. It has been left there because people involved with Lumber want trees that are able to be cut into long boards with grain that is attractive (rather than twisted and less desirable). Some day it may fall of its own accord, or be cut down to be used as firewood – but it will never achieve the desirability for beautiful furniture or flooring.

Human life has some parallel with the Gnarled and Knotty Tree in the forest – those who started out as an adorable child – but time and the storms of life – perhaps sorrow or injury – or some inner physical malady – has left one with a body distorted by the ravages of age or pain. Some whose hands were once creative and skilled and possessing strength have now become gnarled and knotty due to arthritis and no longer have the grip of strength or the ability to perform any longer. The definition of arthritis is: “acute or chronic inflammation of a joint, often accompanied by pain and structural changes and having diverse causes, as infection, crystal deposition, or injury.” Some medication can bring temporary relief; some therapy can give limited, but increased mobility – although there is no long-term remedy for this pain and malady. Pain Management Clinics and the Practice of Physiatry have focused on this area of need and the goal is to enable people with such a malady to gain greater mobility and function. The focus of Physiatry is Physical Medicine and Physical Therapy. It is “the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of disease by essentially physical means, including manipulation, massage, and exercise, often with mechanical devices, and the application of heat, cold, electricity, radiation, and water.” There are some procedures used to bring relief such as Nerve Blocks, Ultra-Sound or Acupuncture – but these are temporary and can be utilized only on a limited basis.

The simple statement – “Pain Hurts” – is a reality that more and more people experience and endure. There is a positive aspect of Pain - although pain is not pleasant, it does alert one that something is wrong in the body and medical attention should be sought. Pain is an indicator of a toothache, or touching something excessively hot, or a bone that has become injured or broken, etc. No one looks forward to having Pain nor would one necessarily desire it for others. In the death of a loved one – a friend or family member – there is the Pain of sorrow and separation, a deep sense of emptiness and aloneness. There are the “what if” moments; the things left unsaid; things said that are now regretted; the circumstance of being unable to express one’s love to his/her mate whose life ebbs and slips away. Yes – pain hurts!

A Commentator discusses Bible References to “Pain” (70 references) and states: “Spiritually speaking, one of the benefits of pain is expressed in James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…when we endure painful trials, we can take joy in knowing that God is at work in us to produce endurance and Christ-like character. This applies to mental, emotional and spiritual pain as well as to physical pain.”

There is the nagging question regarding endurance of pain, sorrow, affliction, etc. How does – how can one do it? How can a goal of endurance be achieved? In II Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul touches on this when he writes: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh…to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It’s good to know that God cares for each one particularly and that He will provide both endurance and strength for the journey. Some may limp across the finish line a bit scraped, gnarled and knotty – but by His grace alone we’ve endured and finished our course. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taxing Times

From My Perspective - - -

The Daily Headlines are a microcosm of the interactions between people and nations. IF anything, the Headlines demonstrate global tension and frustration. Recent Headlines – Week of August 2nd, 2010 – indicate that for us - - -
• Joint Chiefs Chairman: US has Iran strike plan...
• Israel fears Turks could pass its secrets to Iran...
• Five rockets fired towards Israel...
• Mexican drug cartel puts $1M bounty on Sheriff Joe's head...
• Lebanese and Israeli Troops Clash
• 45 Die in Revenge Attacks in Pakistan N. Korea Threatens South Over Drills
• Mexico: 28,000 killed in drug violence since 2006 – President Felipe Calderon said he would consider a debate on legalizing drugs Tuesday as his government announced that more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug violence since he launched a crackdown against cartels in 2006.
• Political violence rages in Karachi, 12 more killed
• Report: Blast occurs near Iranian leader's convoy

Not every event or action is Headlined for us. In terms of personal economics, if one takes the time to read several reports at regarding the increased taxes Americans will experience in 2011, most will be shocked and many will be angered. One that stood out is: “The Medicare Part B Premium will remain at $96.40 for about 75% of Social Security Beneficiaries thanks to a Law that prevents Part B increases when there is no cost-of-living adjustment.” Why is this bothersome? Simply – the Congress votes for their own cost-of-living salary increase in the post-midnight hours. Additionally, the taxpayers are providing all who serve in Congress with a lavish pension for their retirement. How did this provision occur? The Congress voted it for themselves (along with a Cadillac Health Care Plan). Other tax changes are - - -
• Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise.
• Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%; The 25% bracket rises to 28%; The 28% bracket rises to 31%; The 33% bracket rises to 36%; The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%
• The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.
• For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.
• The capital gains tax will rise from 15% this year to 20% in 2011. The dividends tax will rise from 15% this year to 39.6% in 2011. These rates will rise another 3.8% in 2013.
• Also - there are over twenty new or higher taxes in the Healthcare Law.

Most people grumble about taxes and try to shelter what is taxable. Jesus faced this tension and taught His followers (Matthew 17:24-27) “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax ? Yes, he does, he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes - from their own sons or from others? From others, Peter answered. Then the sons are exempt, Jesus said to him. But so that we may not offend them…Take…a four-drachma coin…and give it to them for my tax and yours.” In Matthew 22:21, Jesus states: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.” Follow Jesus’ example! Consider these things with me!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your Detergent May Be Stalking You

From My Perspective - - -

In a marketing ploy, “Unilever's Omo detergent is adding an unusual ingredient to its two-pound detergent box in Brazil - a GPS device that allows its promotions agency Bullet to track shoppers and follow them to their front doors. Starting next week, consumers who buy one of the GPS-implanted detergent boxes will be surprised at home, given a pocket video camera as a prize and invited to bring their families to enjoy a day of Unilever-sponsored outdoor fun. The promotion, called Try Something New With Omo, is in keeping with the brand's international ‘Dirt is Good’ positioning that encourages parents to let their kids have a good time even if they get dirty…The GPS device is activated when a shopper removes the detergent carton from the supermarket shelf. Fifty Omo boxes implanted with GPS devices have been scattered around Brazil…teams in 35 Brazilian cities are ready to leap into action when a box is activated. The nearest team can reach the shopper's home ‘within hours or days,’ and if they're really close by, ‘they may get to your house as soon as you do’…Once there, the teams have portable equipment that lets them go floor by floor in apartment buildings until they find the correct unit…” The Prize Offer is a free Video Camera.

In a similar way, a story that first appeared on July 25th indicates: “In an attempt to better manage inventory, Wal-Mart plans to use electronic identification tags (smart labels) on merchandise. Wal-Mart…is putting electronic identification tags on men's clothing like jeans starting Aug. 1 as the world's largest retailer tries to gain more control of its inventory. But the move is raising eyebrows among privacy experts.The individual garments, which also includes underwear and socks, will have removable smart tags that can be read from a distance by Wal-Mart workers with scanners. In seconds, the worker will be able to know what sizes are missing and will also be able tell what it has on hand in the stock room. Such instant knowledge will allow store clerks to have the right sizes on hand when shoppers need them…Wal-Mart's goal is to eventually expand the tags to other types of merchandise but company officials say it's too early to give estimates on how long that will take…Before the rollout, Wal-Mart and other stores were using the tags, called radio frequency identification tags, only to track pallets or cases of merchandise in their warehouses. But now the tags are jumping onto individual items, a move that some privacy experts describe as frightening…”

Google already has the ability to zoom to the location of your home address; the use of “cookies” on a computer reveal what websites one accesses; your PCs are programmed in such a way that Microsoft (and others) can routinely and automatically “update” one’s computer; the government wants greater control over Internet use so they can monitor and/or block data they deem inappropriate or detrimental. Sixty years ago, “Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was published. It is about the totalitarian regime of the Party. The novel depicts an oligarchical collectivist society where life in the Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control. The individual is always subordinated to the masses, and it is in part this philosophy which allows the Party to manipulate and control humanity. In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party's propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet his meager existence disillusions him to the point of seeking rebellion against Big Brother, eventually leading to his arrest, torture, and conversion…” Is it possible this is where we’re heading today?

It is vital to have a fixed focus – especially in times of clear and present danger. We need to maintain the discipline of King David in Psalm 27:1-5, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?...Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” It is wise to be prepared. What some deem to be fiction may be the forecast of what is to come! Consider these things with me!