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Archive for November, 2010

Thanksgiving Proclamations

You know we just celebrated Thanksgiving and a good friend of mine sent me the proclamations of our past Presidents regarding Thanksgiving.  Here’s an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore if, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Take a look at what Franklin D. Roosevelt said:

Let us remember them in our families and our churches when, on the day appointed, we offer our thanks to Almighty God. May we by our way of living merit the continuance of His Goodness. Done at the City of Washington this Nineteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-third.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

Here are the words of Ronald Reagan:

A century ago, President Grover Cleveland called for “prayers and song of praise” that would render to God the appreciation of the American people for His mercy and for the abundant harvests and rich rewards He had bestowed upon our Nation through the labor of its farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen. Both of these Proclamations included something else as well: a recognition of our shortcomings and transgressions and our dependence, in total and in every particular, on the forgiveness and forbearance of the Almighty.
Today, cognizant of our American heritage of freedom and opportunity, we are again called to gratitude, thanksgiving, and contrition. Thanksgiving Day summons every American to pause in the midst of activity, however necessary and valuable, to give simple and humble thanks to God.  The blessings that are ours must be understood as the gift of a loving God Whose greatest gift is healing. Let us join then, with the psalmist of old:

O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, Tell of all His wonderful works!
Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1988, as a National Day of thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.
RONALD REAGAN

This excerpt from George H. W. Bush:

The liberty that we enjoy today is clearly rooted in our Nation’s Judeo-Christian moral heritage and in the timeless values that have united Americans of all religions and all walks of life: love of God and family, personal responsibility and virtue, respect for the law, and concern for others. If the American Experiment is to continue to bear fruit in generations to come, we must cultivate those values in our children and teach them, by word and example, the difference between liberty and license, between the grateful exercise of freedom and the misuse of our precious rights. I am both confident and grateful that – in the future, as in the past – this thanksgiving tradition will continue to bind us in appreciation of life’s greatest blessings: our families and friends, our rich heritage of freedom, and, most of all, the unchanging wisdom and presence of Almighty God.  IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH

And finally our current President:

From our earliest days of independence, and in times of tragedy and triumph, Americans have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings… Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day.  NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 2009, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
BARACK OBAMA

Seems that as time has gone along the proclamations have changed.  What do you think?

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Boy we can sure learn a lot from using Facebook. 

I had Katy set me up a few weeks ago and it’s been neat (you can tell I’m old using that word) to catch up with some old teachers and friends from school that are “days gone by.”  In fact, I’ve found it enjoyable reading some of the wall information of these folks as well.  Technology is great isn’t it?  But, I’ve learned some other things that disturb me greatly…

I’m amazed at what people post on Facebook on their wall, info and photo pages.  You say, “Why should you be surprised?”  Well, it’s because when I look under religion, so many say, “Christian, or Baptist, etc.”  They will even say, that one of their favorite books is the Bible and they may even list one of their favorite quotes as a Bible verse.  They also list Christian music and even Christian movies.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  Can I ask this question.  When you look at a wall page or info page that says, “Christian” and quotes from the Bible, but also lists some of their favorite movies as “Hangover”…

…(a vulgar movie) and shows from MTV (a vulgar cable channel) and others like the “Bad Girls Club.”  (I started to post a picture of that show…I had to look it up…and I can’t.  It’s too risqué), and music from foul bands and artists, then can one question if something is wrong?  I mean all these young adults and teens say they are “Christian.”  So everything is fine.  Right? 

Parents, should one question if there is something incongruent with a teen that says they are Christian but list nothing but worldly stuff on their info page?  Should we be concerned that people are posting photos of themselves with almost nothing on, yet lists the Bible in their “Books” section.

Oh yes, technology is wonderful, but it’s also very revealing.  Too revealing in many instances if you ask me.  But, beyond that, technology, such as social networking sites can really give us a window to the soul of someone very quickly.  Mom and Dad…have you been to your child’s Facebook page lately?  (Most parents I talk to have NEVER been to their own kids’ Facebook page or even worse…they are “blocked.”) What are they listing as their favorite TV shows, music, books, interests, etc.  Does it bother you that they have little or nothing to say about the Lord?  Does it concern you that well…let’s be honest…that they “look” by way of their “info” so much like the world?  So, the question is…are they of the world or of the Lord? 

I’m so fearful for so many that actually think they are saved…yet, they have never made Jesus the “Lord” of their lives.  So many people want to escape hell (I mean who doesn’t), to make Jesus their “Savior,” but truth is…they just don’t want Him telling them what to do.  So in essence, they really don’t want Jesus to be Lord.  Can He be one without the other?  I don’t think Scripture will support this.  Why?  Because Jesus said that you and I would have to be willing to forsake all to follow Him.  He said that we must lose our lives to gain them.  He said we must hate our father and mother, sisters and brothers in comparison to our love for Him.  Jesus said, “Narrow is the way and few there be that find it.”  Few.  Hmmm.  Few.  Are you among the few that have found the way? 

I’m not talking about some decision you made years ago or about a baptism when you were a kid…

I’m talking about…has Jesus guided your life and thoughts today.  Has He been running the show today.  Today my friend….today…not 25 years ago at Bible School when you prayed a prayer.  Mom…not when your daughter prayed a prayer and everyone shook her hand as they walked out the door rubbing her on the head when she was 9.  I’m trying to get you to look…seriously look at your life and that of your children and grandchildren and inspect those lives.  Hold them up to the light.  The light of the Lord Jesus Christ…the Holy Christ.  The one that calls us to be pure and righteous.  In fact to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  The one that says we must abandon and forsake all for Him.  As you inspect…do you see Jesus?  Do you see evidence of salvation?  Do you see that a regeneration has occurred…or do you see just words and talk. 

Jesus said, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”  Is that you?  I even have to ask if that is me?  What is it in my life that is hypocrisy?  What is it that I have tried to hide from the light of the Savior?  What are my motives?  What are my attitudes?  I’m I being “holier than thou” even in this blog post?  I can promise you I don’t intend to be.  My intentions and they are sincere…is to wake some folks up and that includes myself.  We must shatter our complacency and our apathy toward the Gospel and the call to follow Christ and really examine our faith and that of our family with fear and trembling.  Will your faith…will their faith…will my faith (the fruit in our lives) hold up to the scrutiny of the Holy Christ? 

Our culture is becoming more and more pagan every day.  We are going the way of the Romans and the Greeks.  They assimilated all religions…all points of view and became homogenized “anything goes” cultures of paganism.  Dear reader, I’m very concerned.  I’m very concerned about the direction of “Christendom” in America.  It is so watered down.  Its is so “un-salty” that it has lost its savor and has been thrown out and is now being trampled by man.  I know that this will be the case in the last days.  I can see that by how we are perverting our bodies with tattoos and piercings galore (all signs of an embracing of paganism which you see in history of any culture that turns from God) and by the music we listen to and the movies we watch and the garbage we allow into our minds on a daily basis.  

According to Scripture, the world will be in such a pagan state when Jesus returns that the state of rebellion that exists will be “as in the days of Noah.”  Men and women will be totally numb to God’s Word and to the “cries from the wilderness” (as John the Baptist was one “crying out in the wilderness) that they will not repent of their sins. 

I repeat the words of Paul found in 1 Thessalonians 5:

19-22Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

 23-24May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus your Master?  Your child’s?  One day Jesus will look with us as our “face” turns to the “book” of life.  The question is:

Will we find our name there?

Dear friend, the conclusion of the matter for me is this.  Yes…use technology…it’s a wonderful thing.  I couldn’t do my job as a pastor without it.  But, if we were to spend just half the time we spend on the computer in the Bible…we’d be a changed people.  Parents, you could try something.  Say to your kids…”Hey guys, let’s make it a goal for the next week that we’ll spend the same amount of time with our “faces” in the “Book” (the Bible) as we do on Facebook. 

What do you think?  Come on…what do you think they would say?  Listen, if you know that they will pitch a fit…what does this say to you and to me about their spiritual temperature?  Think about that long and hard and then let’s make the changes the Holy Spirit reveals we must make in order to see that our children end up in Heaven.

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Thanksgiving Weekend

I’ll just tell you the truth…thanksgiving, family, food, praising the Lord for His goodness…  It just doesn’t get much better than that.  We have had a wonderful weekend.  My lovely bride, on her birthday, (which happened to be Thanksgiving Day), fixed a feast for a king for our family and her mom and dad!  You are amazing my dear!  Here’s a recent shot of Pam with Andrew that I love…

Pam and Andrew

She fixed turkey, dressing and all the fixin’s.  Yum, yum.  Here’s a picture of George and Katy watching a “YouTube” of some old gospel songs. 

George and Katy listening to music

They love doing this together.  I think George looks for songs to show Katy when we see them.  These are memories Katy will lock in her mind for the rest of her life.  Oh the joy of Grandparents.  As I type this, I think of my Dad.  He’s getting on his hunting gear to take Leah (my niece, his granddaughter) into the woods for an evening hunt.  You talk about memories!  Again, what a blessing grandparents are.  I know how much my grandparents, C.M. and Ruth Brown and Frank and Clara McNeil meant to me.  We are blessed to live near our parents (the kids’ grandparents).  They add so much to the lives of the children and us!!

After George and Mary left on Thanksgiving night, while we cleaned up, Kandace played a game of “Chutes and Ladders” with Clara and Andrew.  I’m grateful for Katy who will wash and clean dishes and Kandace, who’ll play with the “little guys” while we try to get the kitchen back in order.  Having all six of us in there at one time is just WAY too many! 

Kandace, Andrew and Clara

Last night we headed up to mom and dad’s.  When we arrived…there was mom in the kitchen pulling out the dressing from the oven…giving it a taste test.  Let me do that mom!!

I know it's good Mom! No need to "taste test" it!

My mom still uses the dressing recipe my Grandmother, her mother-in-law used.  It’s the best ever!  Add some gravy and oh!  I can’t even think about it!  Makes my stomach growl!!

Oh…here are some great pics.  Take a look at the before and after…

The "natives" are getting restless...it's time to eat!

And finally…it’s on the table…

Whew! What a feast!!

And then…we’re all stuffed!!

Andrew is topping off the meal with one last guzzle!

clean plate club!  You better believe it. 

What a joy!  I just love those family meals together.  It’s a prelude for heaven and the marriage supper we’ll celebrate together (Rev. 19).  Praise the Lord!  Just thinking about it makes me long for it even now.  But, there is work to be done.  Souls to be touched, lives saved and families built for the kingdom.  So, the work goes on.

Oh…I’ve got to show you something.  Notice anything unusual about this manger scene (it’s on our piano in our den)…look closely…

There's baby Jesus and Joseph and who is that in the pink?

Do you see her?  Why it’s Sleeping Beauty of course.  Clara thought she should be in the scene with the shepherds and the wise men.  I laughed so hard!  But, after I finished my good ole “belly laugh,” it got me thinking.  Why shouldn’t she be there?  In Clara’s mind all should worship baby Jesus.  So, she’s still there and we have chosen to leave her there because Disney Characters should worship, all should worship Jesus.  In fact, I told Clara…”Honey, one day the Bible says every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  That means even those that are lost.  Those that hate Jesus, hate God and hate everything that Christianity stands for.  All will worship Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Why not do so now?  Yet, most will choose not to.  They will choose to go their own way.  Yet, Jesus still waits.  Not in a manger…but, in Heaven.  He’s just waiting to save…to all those who will come and bow (surrender) before Him.  Won’t you come?

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What a DAY!!

Today has been a blast!  I took the day off to spend with the family and go tree hunting!  Yep!  Christmas tree hunting is an annual thing for the family!  We love this day and the tradition of heading up the mountain to Tim Miller’s “Shady Rest” Tree Farm in Ashe County!  Before we left, I had to take a picture of the three laziest cats in the world…Callie, Milo and Lucy!  What a life!!  (Oh…sorry for the blurry pics…they are all from my cell phone…I’ll do better in the future!!)

Talk about lazy!! Oh the life of a cat!

The kids love these cats!  What a joy animals bring to our lives.  You know…God loves animals a lot or he would’ve just saved man during the flood…but, He chose to save the animals too, because when He created them, He said it was “good.” 

So, we made our way up the mountain to Mr. Tim’s farm.  He gave Andrew and Clara a “measuring pole.”

Ok guys...we'll use this to measure the tree...careful now...

We ended up with a 10 footer…the heighth of the pole…imagine that.  Hey, Mr. Tim…bigger poles…means you sale bigger trees!  🙂  So, we looked and we looked and FINALLY!!  Katy spotted it!  She said, “Guys, come take a look at this one!”  Well…it was THE one!!

The Family and THE tree!

 After we find the tree…we headed back down the road to Mr. Tim’s…  Don’t you like the unique way Kandace chose to carry her brother?

Kandace found a new way to "carry" Andrew

Pam and Katy found a nice spot to sit while we waited to have the tree baled…

What a lovely pair! Mother and Daughter...

Then, Mr. Tim baled it for us!  We appreciate you Mr. Tim!  Thanks for being so kind to us!!

Mr. Tim baling our tree!

We loaded up the tree and headed home!  Had some supper and then decorated the tree while watching one of our all time favorite movies…”It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart!  Whatcha think?

The tree-all finished

You know the movie got me thinking.  Every life is important.  No life is an accident.  It’s why I lament abortion so much.  Katy made the comment when Clarence the angel said to George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) in the pivotal scene in the movie, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  Your life means something.  In fact it means a lot!  So much so, that Jesus Christ came to this earth, leaving Heaven and all His glory.  He came to a smelly manger and endured all that we have as our great High Priest and then endured death…on a cross.  Why?  Because your life was worth everything to Jesus.  Should we be thankful?  You better believe it!  So may we truly be thankful tomorrow as we eat and celebrate as families together!  Thank you Lord Jesus for coming to ransom my soul and pay the sin debt for me!  I’m so grateful…beyond words to describe.

Oh…two last things…

Last weekend we had a wonderful Ladies’ Holiday Banquet at the church.  What I loved is that several young men in the church choose to be waiters and to serve the ladies.  Here are two very fine and dapper young men…Coleman and Lee!  Thanks so much guys for showing that you are “man enough” to be servants!

Way to go guys! Dish-pan hands and all!!

Finally…Leah got her another one!  Who’s Leah?   My niece.  She’s a deer hunting machine!  She got her a four-pointer tonight.  My Dad (her Grandpa) helped her “gut it out.”  And Leah never backs away even from that part of it!  She’s a lady for sure!  But, she’s not afraid to fire a gun!  Way to go Leah!  Annie Oakely ain’t got nuthin on you!

Leah and Grandpa with meat for the winter!

So…it’s been a super day!  I’m blessed beyond measure…and on top of that…tomorrow is not only Thanksgiving, it’s also my bride’s __nd birthday!  (You think I’m telling the number?  No way!!  I’m not crazy!) 

Thank you Lord!  The words aren’t adequate to describe my desire to praise you…but since tomorrow is “Thanksgiving,” I’ll choose to use them to express the immense joy I have in my soul!

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That’s a huge question on many people’s minds these days.  As we approach the Christmas “selling” season and “Black Friday” retailers across America are hoping (I started to say “praying,” but I kind of doubt it) that this season will be better than last.  Most prognosticators say that it will…but, not by much.  So, when is the economy “really” going to improve?  The short answer is:  nobody knows.   We simply don’t know for sure. 

Personally, I believe the economy will improve in the short-term.  Why?  Because the current administration is going to do all that it can leading up to 2012 to see that the economy improves…because the election will hinge on it.  If there are jobs and the economy is growing again at a somewhat steady, albeit, slow rate…the American voter will probably vote in Mr. Obama again.  Why?  Because (to coin the phrase from the Clinton days), “It’s all about the economy, stupid.”  Sad, but true in our country today.  The almighty wallet reins supreme.  And isn’t that what has got is in this mess anyway?  The desire for more and more and more.  We no longer can tell ourselves “no” as a people.  We’ve just “got to have it.”  That’s true for those in Washington and those on main street and country road, USA.  Just gimme more!!

So, the government will continue to print money and buy back treasuries until they put enough “umph” back into the system to get us rolling again.  So they think.   The problem is…this country was and is still built on small business and ultimately the small business owner is smart enough to know that you don’t work your way out of a monetary problem (called debt) but simply printing more money and issuing more debt.  When the small business man runs out of money, he quits spending.  When the government runs out of money, they just print more and foreign governments (principally China) buys up all that debt (we have to issue debt instruments to print money…no longer is our dollar backed by gold…you may remember we were once on the “gold standard,” but Nixon took us off that in 1973).   So, here we are laden with debt.  Let’s see. 

What’s our national debt today?  $111 TRILLION.  You say, “Wait a minute!  You added a one or something!”  No actually I didn’t.  The unfunded liabilities that include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all the principal and interest we owe for the money we’ve been printing totals $111 TRILLION!!  That’s “Trillion” with a “T” folks!  Take a look at the debt clock as it ticks by clicking here.

I know I’ve posted on this before, but I just want to keep this information in front of you, my loyal readers, so that you will…  Will what?  Jump off a cliff?  Go into deep despair?  Dig a hole in the ground and jump in it?  No.  So you will pray.  Pray for our nation.  The only thing that will truly change this nation is prayer and a genuine spiritual awakening.  Again, 2 Chronicles 7:14 sums it up for us:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

14 Do you see the progression of what must take place.  “My people”…that’s Christians.  That’s us.  We must humble ourselves and pray.  So, we’ve got to get on our knees and pray…humbly before God and then what?  Look at it above.  Turn.  We must turn from our wicked ways.  What are those ways?  Simple.  Turn from our greed…and “it’s all about me” mentality.  Don’t believe me?  I personally deal with situations every day with people calling and wanting hand-outs.  People have learned how to “work the system” in America.  (Sorry to use the word “work” when talking about “working the system.”  I should say, “scam” the system).  Here’s the situation.  People have learned that they can be rewarded for having babies out-of-wedlock.  The government will give these “unemployed” mothers food stamps on the WIC program and Medicaid for all of their medical needs.  Guess who pays for that?  We do.  It literally drives me crazy!  I tell Pam that our country has moved so far into paganistic, secular human thinking that I don’t even recognize this nation anymore.

We’ve got to desire the things of God and not the “Mammon” of this earth.  Jesus said, you can’t love the stuff of this world and Him at the same time.  You and I have to pick. 

Jeremiah the weeping prophet said in Jeremiah 29:11-14:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Did you catch what Jeremiah said?  When will the Lord “be found?”  When will He bring us back from captivity?  (Because dear friends, we are in captivity and bondage…we just don’t realize it yet.)  He will do so when we seek Him with all our hearts.  Honestly, as a Church in America, we’re simply not there yet.  As long as we’ve got a little money in our pockets and a roof over our heads and some food in the cupboards and we can buy a few Christmas presents, we’re pretty much “good to go.”  And this is the point.  Is the economy going to get better?  Yes, short-term, I believe it will.  I believe all the money that is being pumped into the economy and all the TARPS and bail outs and stimulus packages will infuse the economy with enough “umph” that things will improve.  Short term.  “Short term,” you say, “What does that mean?”  I mean, I believe that we will see improvements and it will be spotty across the nation and it won’t be everywhere, but enough that the media (the mainstream, liberal, national media) will say, “See look…it’s getting better…kudos to the administration.”  So, be sure to take what you hear with a grain of salt…  Why?  Because we owe $111 Trillion in debt my friends!  That’s got to be paid back. 

Who will have the appetite to do so?  Who will say, “It doesn’t matter if I get re-elected as a Congressman or Senator or even President, I’m going to do the right thing.”  Here’s an example of one man who has courage:

Obama’s Former Commerce Secretary Nominee: U.S. Economy is on “Unsustainable Track”

by Lauren Torlone | November 21, 2010

(Source:http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/11/21/obama-s-former-commerce-secretary-nominee-us-economy-unsustainable-track-1)

After three decades of public service, retiring Senator Judd Gregg R-Nh., isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to his assessment of the economy, which he classifies as headed for an “inevitable fiscal meltdown.” Gregg, the Ranking Member on both the Senate Budget and Banking Committees, has long been recognized as an expert on fiscal matters.

Chief among Gregg’s concerns is the massive deficit under which the U.S. is currently operating. Gregg says the economy is on an “unsustainable track” that, if continued at its current pace, “will double the federal debt in five years, and triple it in 10 years.” Gregg compared financial problems here in the U.S. to those Greece is currently having, noting that while the U.S. is a “more vibrant nation, we are still on the exact same track” as the troubled country when it comes to finances. Gregg insists we need to cut spending, especially as the nation gets ready to take on “70 million retirees” as opposed to the “35 million retirees” the U.S. is currently sustaining via Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Gregg is right.  We’ve got to cut spending and just like we do in our homes…when we run out of money, we tighten the belt and we do with less.  Until this happens and until we “bite the bullet” and are willing to suffer and live on less because of the greed that has been bi-partisan in this nation over the last 30 years, then we will eventually hit the wall.  We will be back to making rabbit gums.  (See my post below on what that’s all about). 

Is it hopeless?  Absolutely not!  Why?  Because God is still on the throne.  The Church is a sleeping giant and we must awaken, repent, turn from our evil ways and ask God to bring awakening to this nation.  If we do, if we get an appetite to do the hard things, to tell ourselves “no,” to exhibit self-control and show frugality and prudence and wisdom, then we’ll see change.  I want to be part of that kind of change.

Oh, I’ve got to show you what the Deacons in the church did for me and my family.  They (out of their own pockets) gave me and my family money to buy and exercise machine.  It’s an Elliptical Machine (easy on the knees):

It’s in our homeschool (or should I say “home-discipling”) room in the basement.  Let me tell you, Katy and Kandace has been burning it up.  Katy was on it last night and burned up over 500 calories in about 45 minutes.  The whole family is enjoying it!  Thanks so much to you men!  You are loving on your pastor and family and you are wanting to keep us fit and we appreciate you and love you so much! 

To each of you…my family would like to wish you a most wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving as we rejoice in all that the Lord has done and does for us each day and moment of our lives!   May we truly give thanks!!

Praise the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…from whom all blessings flow!!

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Rabbit Gum

Have you ever seen a rabbit gum?  A rabbit what?  A rabbit gum?  It’s a trap or cage to catch a rabbit?  You say, “That’s cruel isn’t it?”  No, not really…  It’s not if you lived in the 30’s during the depression and you needed food to it.  My grandfather, Frank McNiel used rabbit gums as a boy doing those days.  He showed me how to build one when I was a boy and today I showed Andrew and Clara how.  Here ya go:

Clara, and Andrew and "Dad"...proud "Rabbit Gum" builders

A "gen-u-ine" Rabbit Gum!!

What do ya think?  Not bad for a novice huh?  Andrew and Clara said, “What will we do with the rabbit.”  I said, “Well, we might not catch a rabbit…it could be a opposum, raccoon or even a skunk!!”  I said, “Either way…we will turn them loose.”  But, the thing is…I think they will long remember making this little “tool” of the woods.  My grandfather used to “fry up” what he caught and it was good eating back “in the day.”  But, it’s not something many do today.  But, it could be something that we could have to return to one day. 

Why?  Because this nation is so laden with debt that one day…yes…one day…we will have to pay the “piper.”  When we do…it could get difficult…  Like a Great Depression?  Well, I hope not…but, it could…or even worse.  If that’s the case…should we prepare for it and challenge our young people to be equipped and mentally trained to live on less?  You better believe it!  I’m convinced we should admonish our children and young people in our lives to be prepared to live on less and to be resilient and self-sufficient.  Many today count on others for everything: parents to bail them out, friends to cover, and the big one…the good ole government…  Good Ole Uncle Sam will bail us out right?  I mean Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare will always be there.  The disability checks (for the masses that could work is who I’m talking about here…but abuse the system)…they’ll always be there too, right?  What if they aren’t?  How would we live?

Crazy thinking?  Maybe?  Maybe not.  For most, we live in a bubble where we never hear the truth of the severity of the debt our nation is in.  Debt is bondage and we are really slaves to our debt whether we realize it or not.  So, I taught Clara and Andrew how to make a rabbit gum this afternoon.  Will they ever need to use one?  I hope not.  But, just in case…I’m going to continue to train my children to live on less and be prepared.  That’s my job…

Father, do not frustrate your children, but rather bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

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So much to do…so little time…

Do you ever feel that way?  So much to do and so little time?  Boy, that seems to be the story of my life.  As a pastor, or Elder, as I like to call myself…I’m constantly in motion.  But, so are you!  We all are.  It’s the nature of this thing called life.  Ever feel like this?

I’m laughing as watch that thing spin…but, that’s us…is it not?  Well…I’m 42 years old and if I’ve learned anything it’s that I must prioritize, because I can’t do it all, nor can I be “all things to all people.”  Neither can you.  So, what’s important in your life?  You’ll have to decide.  But, as you are thinking about that…be reminded of this: 

“Will what you prioritize matter in eternity?  Does it have eternal value?”

Does that help or hurt as you think?  Hmm.  It pushes us to think about what’s really important doesn’t it.  Lately, I see that discipleship and mentoring is very important to me. 

I really like “coaching” and encouraging people.  It’s part of my job description as an Elder or Pastor.  Paul teaches this in Ephesians 4:11-12:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

I’m the “pastor/teacher” in the list.  So, I must equip.  As I’ve contemplated on this for many weeks now, I’ve been led to begin the process of bringing young men along in the Word of God through our Iron Men (men’s group) that meets on Wednesdays at noon.  What a wonderful group this is!  I look forward to it every week and boy, I’m sure seeing growth in the men…young and old.  I love it!!  I feel like a coach…cheering them on…

In this process, I’ve been led to begin employing some of these men on Wednesday nights (starting in late December) going forward, to help me teach.  Why?  Because they are ready and the Lord has told me to give them an opportunity to grow through the preparation process of sharing the Word of God.  Doing so “pushes” a person, so to speak.  I get the privilege of working  with these men in the preparation process.  Now some will say, “Are you trying to ‘get out of’ teaching on Wednesday nights?”  Nope!  Furthest thing from the truth.  The truth is the Lord has shown me an opportunity that I’m convinced He wants me to take.

Dr. David Black has encouraged me to write a small, 80-page book on “Rite of Passage.”  (You can learn more about this by clicking on “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” to the right.)  I thought to myself when he asked me a couple of weeks ago…”Where am I going to find the time?”  Well, the Lord has shown me.  I must prioritize.   I’m convinced there are many churches and families that could potentially benefit by seeing what a young person committed to Christ and the process leading to that “rock-solid” commitment can look like.  So, I’m “going for it!” 

I believe that I’m leaping…not into thin air…but, into “faith” that He will get it all done.  In the meantime…it’s a constant battle to re-prioritize over and over again…literally day by day.  And the same is true for you?  What is important?  Are the “good” things keep you from God’s “best” because you don’t think you have time?  It may be that you must simply re-prioritize toward the “eternal.”

Oh, while I’m thinking about it…many of you know about the Annie Moses Band…but, I know some don’t.  Here’s a link to a TV show they will be on TBN coming up on Saturday evening, November 27th from 6:30-7:00 pm.  (Don’t be confused if you go to the site and see that the times look different…in small print it says that the times listed on the website are for the “pacific” time zone.)  Here’s an excerpt about the show:

Annie Moses Band: Faith, Family & Music
The Annie Moses Band is a family of Julliard trained musicians and award-winning songwriters dedicated to spiritual excellence and virtuosity in the arts. Led by lead singer/violinist, Annie Wolaver Dupre, the Band includes her six siblings, Alex on viola, Benjamin on cello, Camille on harp and keyboard, Gretchen on violin …and mandolin, and Jeremiah, on guitar and banjo. Add the veteran song writing talents of their parents, Bill and Robin Wolaver, and you have a dynamic group with roots in classical, pop, and jazz. Together, they are leading an artistic renaissance through musical excellence, strength of family, and a message of faith, inspiring all generations to join in the discipline, beauty, and excitement of highly skilled musicianship.

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