Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summary of New U.S. Deal on Debt Negotiations as we know them now.

Here are the highlights as I understand them:

  1. Raise debt ceiling provisions through to end of 2012 as required, but most subject to deliberations of the congressional committee on spending cuts.
  2. Cut deficit immediately by $917 Billion.
  3. Cut deficit over next 10 years by a total of $18 Trillion by means to be proposed by the bipartisan congressional committee.
  4. This Committee must use current law(s) which includes expiration of all Bush tax cuts in 2013 for rich and a 50% reduction in the $1,000 child credit, and no adjustment to the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  5. If this Committee fails to agree on spending cuts by Thanksgiving for up to $1.5 Trillion, then $1.2 Trillion cuts will trigger automatically -- 1/2 to come from cuts in defense spending, and the rest primarily from non-defense discretionary spending, and some of it from entitlement program spending.
  6. Any cuts to Medicare that may be triggered will only impact the Providers and not the public who use the program.
  7. There is no tax reform mandatory in the deal, or for the Committee to consider.
  8. There is no net new revenue that will be considered.
  9. It is agreed that B.O. will veto an extension of the Bush tax cuts (see above) for those families earning more than $250,000 a year unless there is elimination of current tax subsidies.
The deal as it stands above is very similar to Boehner's last plan he put forward and the House passed.  Clearly, even CNN is admitting that the Republicans got almost all they wanted and the Democrats got very little of anything they wanted except that the ceiling was raised to prevent default.

Still needs to pass the House and the Senate.  As I write this, we have no idea of where Pelosi, who has supposedly agreed to this, really stands.



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Latest Details We Have on the New Debt Deal

Here are the details. They need a lot of studying. Rather than summarize them for you now, I'll just let you go to them and we'll summarize later. Here you go . . .

Boehner Pitches New Debt Deal Details to GOP - Major Garrett - NationalJournal.com



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U.S. Jews, Circumcision, and The Law

This is a most interesting story not so much for why U.S. Jews are happy with the decision, but because of the reason for the decision. As I understand this case, it was not won by the plaintiffs based on 'religious freedom' as much as it was won because they argued that medical state laws cannot be over-ruled by municipal laws. Take a look, but also think about the implication for such religious rules in the long-run.

On the other hand, we seem to be in support of male circumcision because many of us recognize it as an Old Testament requirement for the Jewish people and thus we're glad any move to ban circumcision in San Francisco was over-ruled. But what if the issue were about banning female circumcision, a practice engaged in by some cultures that could easily be carried on in America by immigrants from that culture -- would we have wanted the attempt to ban it to be over-ruled?

All this to say that sometimes we need to be careful of the precedent setting that is established by legal decisions favorable to Christians. And furthermore, it points out that Satan is indeed the Prince of the World at the present time, a title that Jesus gave him three times in scriptures. He's still working his evil and entrapment. Believers beware.

US Jews hail decision against San Fran c... JPost - International



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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Feature: Situation In Washington Is A Comedy of Lies & Errors. And Ten Things We Know For Sure.

Here we are two days before the so-called and now famous August 2, 2011 deadline at which time the United States of America is supposed to default and all the Ratings agencies will downgrade the country from its stellar AAA rating making life much more expensive and miserable for all of us around the world.

Let us stop and look at what we know for sure:

1.  The Democrats have not proposed a budget for 822 years, which includes the first two years of Obama's reign when they controlled both houses of congress, and had (with the help of independents in the Senate) the super-majority 60 votes there.  [Which by the way, they used to pass the additional expenditures bill now referred to as Obamacare.]  That many days without a budget is unheard of.  It is against the law in fact.  During that same period of time and up to today, Obama has not proposed a budget except one that he knew would not pass because it was ridiculous -- identifying only more expenditures.  It was so ridiculous that not a single member of his own party voted for in the Senate.  I repeat that is against the law.

2.  Today Rating agency Moody has said they won't downgrade the U.S. even if they don't get a deal by August 2 because the U.S. has enough to take care of its financial responsibilities for the Treasury.  We are being sold a bill of goods, nay, lies by the Democrats.

3.  Thirdly, the argument of whether there should be a simple-majority or a super-majority vote in the Senate is ridiculous.  The Senate is the safety-valve, the check and balance of crazy ideas in the House and the tradition for budget or money bills has always been a super-majority for such -- that is 60 votes required for passage.  Even the Congressional Research Service, a government agency, so specifies in its official document.  The Democrats are asking for a simple-majority vote because they cannot pass the bill without it.  But read on.

4.  We have spent too much time on the Boehner bill in the House when the Senate told us it would kill it -- which it subsequently did.   We are now spending too much time in the Senate on the Reid bill when the House has already killed it.  Neither of these bills will win the day.

5.  The GOP is protecting the country from giving Obama a blank check for the next 18 months until his next election.  If Obama thinks he will lose in 2012, he will spend like crazy to support his failing  programs.  If he thinks he'll win, he will hold off and get control of the House again to pass more government programs and thus more spending and thus more taxes.

6.  We also now that people who are paying taxes are for the most part demanding that the country spends less.  They want the budget balanced.  They may not all agree on how best to do that or by when.  What the GOP wants is a guarantee that the budget will be balanced by a certain date -- seven years, eight years, ten years.  The Democrats refuse to put that in their bill so they could pass it.

7.  We also know that as a Senator, Obama was adamant and voted against lifting debt ceilings.  Now he wants it lifted without a limit and he wants a blank check.

8.  We also know that 90% of the existing debt was incurred by Democrat presidents and only 10% by Republican ones.  We also know that the debt is skyrocketing exponentially under Obama, more so than any other President.

9.  The president's average job approval ratings by America's several top pollsters show him to be totally loosing the support of the American people as to the job he is doing.  In fact, it's terrible and in free-fall.

10.  The last thing we know is this:  the President is frustrated and lately he is hiding; certainly his VP and Secretary of State are both in hiding or have been hidden by him on this.  The President has no plan except to create a crisis, scare everybody, and then act unilaterally if allowed, all while adamantly claiming through his teeth "I'll never do that."  We also know that Reid and Pelosi are frustrated and thwarted -- why else would they make statements like what Peolosi said today: "Boehner has joined the 'dark' side."   That's ridiculous and childish.

In conclusion, we have a mess.  The President will be required to act unilaterally and then blame both parties, but particularly the GOP.  If it comes to that, he will pay the price in November 2012.  The world is laughing at America.  But it has been laughing since November 2008 when Obama won the election.  They knew he was in way beyond his head.  The two and almost three years that have followed prove that in spades.  I am not alone in saying that.  Take a look at what the major news media centers of the world are saying about his disastrous presidency.  Take a look at his ratings.  Take a look at his lack of leadership.



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Obama's Job Approval Polls in Freefall.

His net Job Approval is not averaging negative (-) 5.7 points, with Gallup showing him at the lowest level ever with only 40% approval. Take a look and see the trend. No wonder the Democrats all scared.

RealClearPolitics - Election Other - President Obama Job Approval

 
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.

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Jacob’s Most Critical Decision for Israel - Genesis 45:25-28

Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father.  And they told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them.  But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.  Then Israel said, “It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

Have you ever lost someone you loved dearly?  Has your heart ached because of their absence from you and your inability to reach out and touch them, speak with them, laugh with them, and face life and the future with them?  I think we can safely assume that Jacob felt just that about the loss of his son Joseph, a son from his beloved Rachel, many years earlier.  And now in the midst of a great famine in the land, his other sons return from Egypt and out of the blue declare to him “Joseph is still alive and prospering!”

How would you react?  What immediate thoughts come to your mind?  I could think of many questions I would ask of myself, my children, Joseph himself, and God.  Questions like, “Why don’t I know this?” “What proof do you have?” “Joseph, why did you not come and find your dad years ago?” and “God, is this possible?”  I am sure there could be hundreds of variations and permutations of these questions depending on all the circumstances and the personalities involved.  But it would well be worth it for you and I to take a moment and think about just what we would say, ask, think, or do if someone came and told us “your long-lost ______ is alive and well.”

The scriptures say, “Jacob’s heart stood still”.  Well, I can understand that part.  I think mine would as well, especially in the case of a child.  But the text goes on to say, “because he did not believe them.”  That is a little more difficult for me to comprehend.  If you came to me and told me, “Ken, your mom (or your dad) is alive and well” and I dismissed your comment as a lie, I am not sure my heart would stop.  Unless of course, just unless I had never actually seen my mom and dad dead and buried, I had just lost them and assumed they were dead from what others told me, and in my heart there was always this hope, this yearning, this strong desire, that it was all a mistake, that they were not dead, but that there was a possibility that indeed they were “alive and well”.  That is the only way I can explain these two phrases together as I look at them.  Other commentators have suggested that Jacob’s heart stopped because he was ever so tired of his life – without Rachel, without Joseph, and now without food and that perhaps this final words from his sons, words that appeared to him as a “sick joke”, were indeed enough to cause him great stress.  I think we all agree that he did not die.  At best, his words may have conveyed the following, “my sons, do not toy with me for I am old and tired and very down.”

It was time to bring out the evidence and the brothers started telling their father Jacob exactly what Joseph had said and started showing him what he had sent for the family, for him, and for the trip back to Egypt.  I am reminded here, and I hope you will pardon me for this, of the 1996 movie called Jerry Maguire and starring Tom Cruise.  In there, we hear the now famous line used over and over by so many, “Show me the money!”  Words are not enough it seems for many human beings.  We often need to see proof of things that otherwise seem quite improbable.  Of course, there often is an upside to such a position (when what we are told is indeed far-fetched), but sometimes we can also miss out on what is good and true and necessary.

With the flame of hope still burning ever so slightly in his heart, with the words of his sons and of Joseph himself even though second-hand, and with the evidence of the gifts the brothers had brought back, the Bible says “Jacob’s spirit was revived.”  He grasped the hope within him; he believed the words; and he accepted the material goods provided for him.  But he still needed to declare his most critical decision with his own mouth.

In verse 28, the last verse of this chapter, Jacob proclaims his choice.  He avows he has seen enough evidence and affirms (perhaps more to himself as well as to others) that indeed “my son Joseph is still alive.”  And then he realizes that it is his turn now to take action when he says, “I will go and see him before I die.”  The decision was twofold.  First that he did believe what he was told and secondly, that he would do his part.  The last three words of his statement, “before I die” adds the essence of urgency for we know that Jacob was an old man who had lived many years and his time was running out.

There are so many thoughts and ideas for us in these few verses.  When we have to share something that is not easily believable by others, yet we know it to be true (something like our faith), do we give thought to how and when we do it?  Besides our words, can we support what we are saying from Scripture, God’s Word?  Besides our words and those of Scripture, is there sufficient evidence in our own lives and in our own experience of the truth we are trying to proclaim so that others will indeed believe it?  I pray that by God’s doing, someone we are witnessing to could find his or her way to say, “It is enough.  I am convinced.  I will believe – now.”

As we end this chapter of Genesis, let us not miss the significance of this critical decision for God’s people.  God had planned that Israel should be nurtured, for a while, in Egypt which was the most advanced civilization of that day.  Sometimes God takes us to a place we would never go on our own because that is the best place, at that particular point in our lives and journey, for us to be “nurtured” in the best way possible, if not physically, certainly spiritually.  I pray we will be willing and trusting enough to let Him do just that. 

 
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Will You Be Shocked One Day?

 I was shocked, confused, bewildered 
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor. 

 
But it was the folks in Heaven 
who made me sputter and gasp-- 
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
 the alcoholics and the trash. 

There stood the kid from seventh grade 
Who swiped my lunch money twice. 
Next to him was my old neighbor 
Who never said anything nice. 
Bob, who I always thought 
was rotting away in hell, 
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, 
looking incredibly well.
 


I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take. 
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake. 

'And why is everyone so quiet, 
So somber - give me a clue.'
 

'Hush, child,' He said,

'they're all in shock. 
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'
 
JUDGE NOT!! 

Remember... Just going to church doesn't make you a 
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
Every saint has a PAST . . . Every sinner has a FUTURE!
But Life without God is like an unsharpened pencial. . .
It has no point!
 
-- this poem, perhaps entitled "The Best Poem In the World" was shared with me by a good friend and neighbor.  In light of all that is going on -- things we hear of and sometimes things we say about politicians, church leaders, and others.  I thought maybe this is exactly what we need to hear today.  Thank you R.E. 


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Friday, July 29, 2011

One Impact of Current Drought on Kenya is Children Carrying Arms

I've been to Kenya twice in the last two years.  We train pastors, build and equip schools, construct churches, among other things.  Our team wants to go again but this current famine in East Africa is not helping our goal.  Take a look at a side of famine one hardly thinks about.  Is it not bad enough that children are starving to death?  Now, the famine is causing little ones to take up arms and learn how to use them against others.  That is deplorable.  Take a look at this video. 

Tribal tensions rise amid East Africa drought - Africa - Al Jazeera English



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Rick Warren's Side to the "Rick Warren Is/Is Not a Chrislam" Issue

We always owe it to ourselves and others and the truth and to Jesus Christ to get both sides of any issue. I think this article is important enough for you to read before you join those that speak out without knowing the facts. Here is Rick's side and the side of those that support him.

Rick Warren Does Not Embrace Chrislam, Say Pastors, Christian News



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POTUS Job Approval Continues to Decrease

For whatever reason, B.O.'s approval keeps going down and has now hit negative 4.9 with only 44.9% approving of the job he is doing. Hopefully, the rest will remember the 'nightmare' he is putting the U.S. through when November 2012 comes around. But, hey, people do change their minds and seem to forget things.

RealClearPolitics - Election Other - President Obama Job Approval


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Arab Spring Augurs Global Winter

Some of us tried to warn you. Some of us predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood was lying through its teeth when it said that it had no plans for taking over and leading Egypt. And of course, Egypt was going to work towards true democracy. Not.

Take a look at what's really going down in Egypt and be concerned that western leaders are missing the forest for the trees. No one is keeping score. Take a look at the world map and see how much of it is turning to Islam -- not just to the religion, but to the political philosophy with an anti-west, anti-Israel, anti-Christian agenda, with which they aim to rule the world.

The West needs to think further than the "one-year to go to London's Summer Olympics!" and life goes on merrily attitude they seem to have now.   They need to think what kind of world their daughters and grand-daughters in particular will live in, as they now sit idly by and do nothing.

Thousands demonstrate for an Islamic state in Egypt - The Globe and Mail


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Joseph Takes Care of His Family’s Traveling Needs - Genesis 45:21-24

Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey.  To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.  To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.  So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.”
 
The brothers did as they were ordered.  They had no choice but it was also an offer they could not refuse.  Not only were they provided with vehicles upon which to make the journey (and one assumes donkeys or animals of some sort were provided to pull the wagons), but they were also provided with all the necessary provisions to make the journey.  Joseph gave each of them new garments to wear, possibly because they needed them and their own clothes had been the worse for wear.

Benjamin of course got special treatment from Joseph.  He got five new garments as well as three hundred pieces of silver.  His love for his full-brother continues to be obvious.  And his love to his father, Jacob, is also emphasized as he sends him ten donkeys loaded with some of the best Egyptian products, plus ten female donkeys (which one assumes are for growing his own stock of burden beasts).  Finally, the female donkeys at least are loaded with food for the journey back to Egypt.

And knowing his brothers well, he gives them a word of advice for their journey – “don’t fight”.  I wonder what Joseph thought they might have fought over.  Was it ‘how to approach dad?’ or ‘why should Benjamin get more than us?’ or ‘does dad really need all this and why can’t we have some?’  We do not know the answer to this question of why warn them, but we know he was led to warn them.

What is the message for us from these four verses that simply seem to be sharing some facts?  Perhaps it is to reflect on how, when we want people to take a certain course of action, we need to facilitate the process for them.  We cannot expect them to do everything.  We need to help – in whatever way is necessary that may be beyond their own means at this time.  We need to anticipate things on their behalf.  We need to accept our role in their lives, as God lays on our hearts what we might do for them.

But if we are to treat some differently than others, as Joseph treated Benjamin, then we are to make sure that in so doing the reason is clear and valid and acceptable to all.  That way we avoid causing dissention among those we are trying to win over to our idea.

As those trying to give advice or help to others, we need to be ready to speak whatever God lays on our hearts.  Joseph told them forthright, “don’t quarrel”.  In a way, he was ‘warning’ them.  Be ready to warn others appropriately of the pitfalls they may fall into – both in pursuing a course of action here today, but also with regard to eternity.  We need to be honest with people at all times, but in a way that our love remains most visible and acceptable to them.

There is also something here for those of us on the ‘receiving’ end of the advice or the assistance.  If we were expecting nothing or little from a situation (e.g. Joseph’s brothers just wanted to buy grain and return to Canaan) and all of a sudden we get something (e.g. wagons, garments, an offer of protection during the rest of the famine and beyond, etc.), let us not get bent out of shape when others get more (e.g. Benjamin received more gifts than the brothers).  Instead, we should rejoice in the windfall of others.  That’s a tough lesson to learn and so Jesus tries to teach it to us again in one of His parables in the New Testament.  Maybe we could learn it now.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sometimes the Blessing Includes the Transition Stage - Genesis 45:16-20

Now, when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants.  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’  Now you are ordered, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.  Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”

What a wonderful feeling it is to have made a decision on your own and then to have your boss’s words fully support the situation.  That’s what happened to Joseph.  His boss Pharaoh was pleased that his family had come to Egypt.  The servants in Pharaoh’s house were also delighted.  That says a lot about Joseph and his relationships with others.  Have you ever had to visit a relative at work and he/she introduces you to their boss?  Your instinct tells you whether or not the boss or their co-workers for that matter are really glad to meet you, or whether they’re just being polite and wishing your visit would be brief and everyone could get back to work.  Well, there was no doubt in the feelings of Pharaoh and many others in Egypt.  They were sincerely glad to hear of the presence in Egypt of Joseph’s brothers and I believe it was because they thought very highly of Joseph as a person and as a ruler.  What a testimony and role model for all of us.  What do our co-workers think of us?  For many of my early years, not so much any more, people who met my wife would often say to her, “I’m so glad to meet you.  I have so much respect for you and your ability to live with this man.”  Well yes, some of them meant it as a joke, but often there was truth in their contention.  I was not the easiest person to get along with and some would still say I haven’t changed much.  Thank goodness God is still working on me.

Not only is Pharaoh glad that Joseph’s family came to Egypt, but he wants to get in the act of blessing them too.  Perhaps because of his love and appreciation for Joseph.  Pharaoh improves the offer that Joseph made to his brothers and seals it with his own words just in case Jacob thought that while Joseph wanted him there, the Pharaoh would not.  This was a very strong endorsement Pharaoh gave to Joseph along with his further instructions for his brothers.

Pharaoh told Joseph to tell the Canaanites to load their beasts, return home, and then bring their father and all their families back to Egypt.  The phrase, “Now you are ordered” at the beginning of verse 19 is translated in the New International Version (NIV) as “You (Joseph) are also directed to tell them”.  As plausible as that is, we must note that the various versions are divided on whether that phrase “Now you are ordered” is really part of the entire instructions Joseph was to give his brothers and thus directed to them, or whether it was a side ‘order’ to Joseph to tell them what follows it.  Both are possibilities.  I prefer to think that his Middle Eastern hospitality would kick in and in fact turn his generosity towards his future guests into an order or command.  That is, “You are ordered to take my wagons . . .”.

Recently on a trip to Greece (as close to the Middle East as one can get without being in the Middle East), my wife and I had the opportunity to witness this kind of fervor in expressing hospitality.  A lady that was entertaining us in her home insisted that we were ‘too warm’ and my wife answered that she was ‘just fine’.  The lady then proceeded to physically attempt to take my wife’s sweater off.  Thankfully her brother talked some sense into her and we were able to continue the visit, albeit a little shaken up.  The lady meant well but we felt she was taking away our freedom of choice.  At other times, I have heard my dad give such “orders” to those that were coming to visit – orders about extending their stay and allowing our family to take them places, etc.  All this he did because he wanted them to have a good time in our city.  I find myself often doing the same thing.  As I write today we are expecting good friends from the southern states to visit us.  They offered to stay in a hotel and not be any trouble to us.  I informed them that would be unacceptable and ‘ordered’ them to stay in our home.  They complied.

Similarly Pharaoh, either directly or indirectly, ‘orders’ the brothers to take his wagons and use them to bring their families back to Egypt.  He furthermore wants them to not worry about or bother with their belongings – their new host and country would take care of everything.  That directive of Pharaoh’s reminds me of how refugees or orphans are to leave their homeland and entrust themselves to their new sponsors.  Or, another example would be a runaway bride that is swooped up by a handsome prince or a millionaire who wants to marry her and asks her to elope with him.  Joseph and Pharaoh were offering Jacob’s family not so much a new start as a promise of rescue and survival.

This passage ends with the phrase “the best of all the land of Egypt is yours”.  Of course, in hindsight some Israelis many years later, and even now, may not agree with the Pharaoh’s statement.  The ‘best of Egypt’ included and still includes some pretty difficult times for the Israelites as later books in the Bible and today’s politics between Egypt and Israel respectively, tell us.  That certainly is the case from a human perspective looking at what happened and what may happen in the near future.  But from God’s eternal perspective, journeying into Egypt was all part and parcel of His Plan for them.  One could study all that would have not happened for the Israelites if they had not gone to Egypt, but here we just want to confirm that God does not lead His people, even into captivity, without a good reason.  He has a purpose for us to go into the darkest part of the dark, into the deepest of valleys. He has something to teach us.  Will we learn it?

In fact, as we see in the case of Jacob and his family when we view how easy Joseph and Pharaoh made it for them to move to Egypt, we can learn that sometimes there is ‘blessings’ even in the transition from where we are to where God wants us to move.   How are you with the transitions God brings your way?


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Monday, July 25, 2011

B.O.'s Approval Continues to Decrease

Now looking at a "minus 4.5% margin". So, don't believe the rhetoric that B.O. and Reid will be giving you. This president is in deep doo-doo.

RealClearPolitics - Election Other - President Obama Job Approval


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The Two Competing Plans Right Now (July 25 @ 3 p.m.)

Here's a good account of the two plans. Well written.

But here's the problem. The parties can't agree on the solution. What they need to do first is: "forget the numbers". Then they need to negotiate on the points of the package. For example:

A. Will there be a debt ceiling raise? (The answer is a definite and obvious 'yes'.)
A1. If so, how much? Negotiate that.
A2. Once we agree to A1, negotiate the timing or the number of stages.

B. Will there be spending cuts?
B1. If so, how much? Negotiate that.
B2. Once we agree to B1, then agree to when.

C. Will there revenue increases?
C1. Is so, how much? Negotiate that.
C2. Once we agree to C1, then agree to where and what programs?
C3. Once we agree to C2, then negotiate timing for each cut.

D. Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.

This is all "basic negotiating 101". I can't believe these guys can't sit down and do that. They need either a facilitator or a mediator. There's lots of good ones around.

Just heard two minutes ago on CNN B.O. has okayed the Democrat approach. That won't fly. It may have to be dictated! Take a look.

Republicans, Democrats shop competing debt relief plans - The Globe and Mail



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Joseph Instructs His Brothers To Take Action - Genesis 45:9-15

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.  You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have.  There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”’  Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you.  Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.”  Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.  He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.

After declaring himself to his brothers and telling them that they are not to blame themselves for the situation they are now in, but rather that it was God who orchestrated all of this for their own survival so that His promises to their great-grandfather Abraham, their grandfather Isaac, and their father Jacob would be fulfilled, Joseph now turns his attention to the action they must take.

His first concern was that they return to their father and give him the good news that his long-lost son, Joseph, is alive and well and has a message for him.  Note that he wanted them to “hurry”.  Joseph realized the importance of time given Jacob’s age.  He also wants Jacob to know that indeed God has made him successful and “lord of all Egypt”.  In essence, Joseph wanted his dad to know that God did indeed make his dreams a reality.  Joseph instructs his brothers to tell Jacob he wants him to come to him in Egypt and live there in a place called Goshen, and be blessed.  He was saying, “This is all of God’s general blessing that He promised you”.  Not only will Jacob be near Joseph, but his whole family and all their children will move there and be together with their flocks and herds.

And there’s more.  Joseph wants his father to know he will provide for Jacob and the family because there was still five more years of famine left to survive through.  He also wanted Jacob to know the consequences of his not coming to join him in Egypt.  He tells the brothers to tell Jacob they would die if they remained where they were.  We need to realize the significance of that in Jacob’s mind.  Not only would he want to live as long as he could as we all do, but I believe Joseph knew that Jacob would readily understand the impact of death on the God’s promise for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the promise that God would build a nation out of the Israelites and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through them.

As I write this, a question comes to my mind.  Imagine if Jacob had said, “No way!  We’re not going to Egypt.  We’ll stay right here and die off.”  What if God’s enemy had gotten to Jacob as only the Devil could do and have him reject Joseph’s offer?  What would that have meant for Israel and for us?  Of course, this line of thinking and questioning would lead us to a number of other topics including free will, God’s foreknowledge, etc.  I raise it only because some others reading this might.  Personally, I am satisfied God would have seen His plan worked out one way or another, for no matter how hard man -- with or without the help of the Enemy tries -- he cannot thwart God’s intentions.

Then Joseph addresses the brothers directly telling them that they are ‘eye witnesses’ to his existence and success.  He wants them, and Benjamin, to be his witnesses to their father Jacob.  Why he mentions Benjamin separately we do not know, except that perhaps he considers Benjamin very special and his only full-brother.  But what I noted here in Joseph’s reference to his brothers being witnesses is the parallelism between this and what Christ asked of his disciples as His ministry on earth was ending.  In fact, He continues to ask each of us to be His witness to others; to share with others what He has done for us.  We were not asked to be his “super salesmen”, only his witnesses.

When Joseph stopped speaking, he broke down again emotionally and hugged and kissed his brothers, crying on each of them, beginning with Benjamin.  Joseph not only provided for his brothers physically; he not only told them of his desire to take care of them and Jacob the rest of their lives; but he actually showed his love and affection to them.  He was willing to demonstrate his own weakness, lowering his guard and setting aside his position, to weep with them.  This is a watershed moment in the life of Joseph but one that brings about healing.  Verse 3 of this 45th chapter of Genesis ends with the words, “But his brothers could not answer him…”.  This current passage ends with the phrase “…and afterward his brothers talked with him.”  The relationship had been reconciled.

How are our relationships?  Is there a watershed moment we need to initiate and experience?  Are we ready to serve and to love and to show it unequivocally?  If there is such a moment that is required and we are not ready to bring it about, we may very well be hindering God’s plan for others and us.  That is an awesome responsibility but it is also an awesome opportunity He gives us.  I pray God will help us recognize its importance


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If God Puts World Leaders in Place, How Then Shall We Act?

A social media friend of mine recently sent me a question directly after I posted this message on the social media network:
Just finished reading "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin. Highly recommended for anyone thinking of running for office. And yes, we were had big.
Here is my friend's question:

I have a question that I would like your thoughts about because I honestly don't know what the answer is. You mentioned on you're wall in your post about Sarah Palin's book, that we've been 'had.' I assume you're talking about Obama. I've had people remind me of the scripture that says that God puts leaders in place and brings leaders down. Where do  our democratic choices and the whole voting thing fit into that? And if God uses circumstances to put a leader at the head of a nation, (even if we don't agree with him or like him) how should we as believers respond? I appreciate any help you can give me on this one. Thanks.

Here is my answer:

I see a number of questions in your message and I'll try to answer all of them to the best of my ability.

I did say in my post that "we were had big".  Let me explain what I meant by that.  After read Sarah Palin's book, I learned that good people do indeed usually finish last.  And it's not always their fault.  I believe the John McCain and Sarah Palin ticket lost the election in 2009 for three simple reasons:
  1. They were clean, decent folks and chose not to go after their opponents personally to the extent they could have, or unfortunately, in today's world, needed to, in order to win.
  2. The press in general were very, very hard on them and gave clean passes to Obama and Biden in many issues -- including their past, their present, and the stupid mistakes they made in their own comments.
  3. The people running the McCain campaign gave up way too early; and the people running Palin's campaign made major tactical errors.
When you put those three together, you get why Republicans lost the election.   My reference to "we were had big" is in reference to two things:
  1. The role of the press and the role of the RNC campaign managers.
  2. The out and out deception I believe that we were fed by the Obama promises.
God's Role in Global Appointments

I totally believe that God allows leaders to be put in place and he allows them to fall.  He is also very capable of actually putting them in place Himself and causing them to fall.  However, these two scenarios are different from each other.  One involves God's active participation in the life of a leader and another, His passive agreement.  I really do believe that.  I do not think that God causes everything.  He has a plan for His children and He is most actively involved in bringing those plans about.  But He also is in control of the whole world and as such, keeps on eye on what He allows.

In addition to the verses that many may remind you of that speak of God putting leaders in place and bringing leaders down, let me share some more that involve leaders:
  1. Take a look at Psalms 2:1-6  -- there the psalmist talks about kings going against God and God getting angry at them.
  2. Psalms 2:10 talks about kings and leaders needing to be careful and to be instructed.
  3. Isaiah 37, verses 11 and 18 talk about the havoc and desolation that some kings/leaders can cause.
  4. Hosea 8:4 is crucial -- in the section surrounding this verse, God is calling Israel back to Him, but note he says, "they have set up kings, but not by Me".  So all are not appointed by Him, although He allows them to be appointed.
  5. The book of Joshua is all about Joshua eliminating (killing) all the kings that were not Godly.
  6. Remember also that when God gave King Saul to Israel, it was against His desire.  He did not want them to have a king.  He wanted the people to recognize God as their King.  (I Samuel 8 and 9).  In fact, I Samuel 8:10-22 is very telling.
Those are just a few of hundreds of passages to kings (leaders) in the Scriptures.  And for the most part, God is not pleased with them.

I think it is important for us to always keep the big picture in mind.  God is not impressed with today's leaders.  I believe that to stick to the position of "God put them there, our job is to pray for them, support them (pay our taxes), and when God wants them removed, He'll remove them" is a position that the Enemy really wants us to have.  It renders us totally divided and useless against the Enemy and his own agenda for the world.

I do believe that we need to pray for our leaders -- but for me, that prayer is that they may know Jesus Christ and give Him their life.   It is not "God bless the king/leader and keep him/her safe from all harm so that he/she can live long and rule as they have been doing".   Certainly that is not my prayer for people like Barack Obama who has clearly shown he is not a man who loves the Word of God, and obeys it.  I also believe that we should pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land where they do not contradict the laws of God.  But, because they are the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time, etc., I believe we have the responsibility to God's people and to our children and grandchildren to do all we can to have them removed from office.  That is not contrary to loving them as people and praying for their salvation.

This is no different, for me, than what I am supposed to do for adulterers, bank robbers, swindlers, child abusers, etc.  We cannot condone what they do.  We can try to stop them.  But at all times we love them and pray for their salvation.

I then utilize freedom of speech to the extent possible (trying to be careful not to tell lies or to belittle the person) to point out his inappropriate positions and actions.  I use the democratic process to 'assemble together' and try to deliver votes to depose him without becoming violent in any protest, etc.

I think whatever we believe about God's role in the placement or allowing of leaders to lead, we are not excused from our responsibility to do good and keep evil away.   I think for many of us we fail to see the evil because we do not seek to view what is happening with God's eyes.

As I write these words, I have become aware of a group of Taliban rebels who hung (yes, hung) an eight-year-old boy this week because his father, and Afghanistan police officer would not give them what they wanted.  No matter how you look at that -- it is evil.  Yet we have leaders all over the world that will simply denounce such action but never lift a hand to stop it from happening again.  I am not certain that God would have us heed the world's instructions, "please stand by; do not adjust your set; life will continue in a moment".



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Is the Norwegian terrorist a Christion? You Decide . . .

The media's eagerness to place the blame for this horrendous act of terrorism on Christianity may be as premature as me stating categorically that if I am blessed with another grandchild one day, he/she will be the next POTUS even if they're born in Canada.

Take a look at the details of what was really on this terrorist website and what he himself really said about Christianity -- and then compare that with the liberal media's account.

Just sharing it . . . for the record.

Terrorist proclaimed himself 'Darwinian,' not 'Christian'


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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Latest on Amer. Debt Ceiling Negotiations

As of 6:33 p.m. EST Saturday evening July 23, here is the latest we could find on the Obama-Boehner and Dem/GOP negotiations. It looks like Boehner is the man in charge. Take a look.

Boehner wants debt ceiling plan by Sunday - Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman and Jonathan Allen - POLITICO.com


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Remember This Speech? It will surprise you how prophetic the writers were in 2008.

This speech was given in 2008. Take a look and then think about what is going on right now in the United States. More should have been listening.

Remember This Speech? Take a look. It will surprise you how prophetic the writers were in 2008.



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Here's What 1 Wall Street Blog is Saying This Weekend

Contrary to popular belief, there are some very smart people on Wall Street. This writer is one of them. Take a look at what is being said about the B.O.'s tactics, no make that scare tactics.

The President Is Actually Trying to Talk the Markets Into a Panic. � Commentary Magazine


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B.O.'s Job Approval: Negative 3.1%

He can say all he wants and mislead us all on television -- but the facts from a number of sources are in again, and his job approval continues to sink fast. Take a look.

RealClearPolitics - Election Other - President Obama Job Approval



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This Will Make Many Europeans Who Bailed Greece Out Very Happy

So much for separation of church and state.  Clearly not the case in Greece.  And no, we're not talking about the Greek Orthodox faith.   Take a look.   This is the country that didn't recognize my parents Protestant marriage as legitimate and declared me illegitimate many years ago, because we weren't Greek Orthodox.  Oh well, these days they'll even spend up to 15 million dollars of the money they don't have (or the money they recently got from their European bailout) to help any religion out.   That's pretty wise thinking from the cradle of democracy.  Not.

Sorry, my Greek friends and relatives -- you guys should be causing a "Greek Spring" over this.

Building To Be Reconstructed Into Mosque For Muslim Community In Athens | Greece.GreekReporter.com Latest News from Greece



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Joseph Explains ‘What God Did’ - Genesis 45:4-8

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer.  And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.  Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.  

After he first announced who he was to his brothers, they must have moved back out of fear or shock.  And now Joseph calls them to “come closer”.  Proximity is a most fascinating topic.  Many would argue that we were created to be ‘close’ to others as long as we could choose who we have to be close to.  Clearly we want to be with the person we love.  But we want our distance from strangers, from those with bad breath, or those who haven’t washed or changed their clothes for a few days.  There seems to be good proximity, and bad.  There seems to be good beckoning for us to come closer as a parent may utter to their child or as God utters to us.  And there is bad beckoning as a child abuser would beckon a young child or drug pusher an innocent teen or the Devil a restless soul.  The typical response to beckoning by most people is to oblige, just as Joseph’s brothers did.  Yet we would be wise to stop and consider both the circumstances and the person doing the beckoning.  My grandchildren know by the tone of voice they hear and by their experiences with me in situations associated with that tone of voice that it is safe to respond to my invitation to come closer.  We seem to learn that by nature.  The danger lies in someone wishing to harm us imitating that type of tone or using lies to convince us that our lack of experience with them is no reason to avoid them and asks us to put our trust in them.  As a result, we are trapped in a life of sin and/or danger, which ultimately could end up in death.

At this point Joseph wants them to be totally certain as to which Joseph he is and what they had done to him.  He is their brother and they had sold him to be a slave in Egypt.  But once he gives that clarification, he immediately turns his efforts to the possible feelings of his brothers.

I think based on what he had heard and observed, he was safe in assuming that the brothers were indeed angry with themselves for what they had and thus rued the day they did it.  Joseph tells them that indeed it was not their own doing, but that God had had a hand in it.  God had used them to sent him to Egypt in order that God would save their family later and preserve their life against the adversity God knew was coming.

This is one of the earliest instances in scripture where we read of someone acknowledging the providence and involvement of God in our lives to work out what is best for us.  It is a position many of us still find very difficult to adopt or recognize at times in our own lives.  In fact, we often find it easier to make that assertion about God’s purpose and involvement for the better in the lives of others than in our own.

Joseph goes on to explain that the famine the land was experiencing still had five years to go and that God had sent him ahead of the brothers in order that He may save a “remnant in the earth” through Joseph’s provision of deliverance to them from the famine.  The concept of saving a “remnant” is reminiscent of God’s plan for saving Noah and his family from the devastation of the great flood by keeping them safe in the ark as we read earlier in the book of Genesis.

Joseph was saying that his sufferings happened for a reason.  If he had not suffered, Jacob’s family could not have survived to one day become a nation.  Instead of going into Egypt as we will soon see they end up doing, they likely would have integrated themselves into pagan tribes that were also occupying their own lands at the time.  Since they would have become extinct as a nation, God had to remove them to a place where they would remain intact and yet multiply.

Joseph seems to have recognized that the reason for his own success and the famine the land was now in was all about a means by which God would keep his family together and apart from those around them in order to preserve His chosen people, the Israelites so that His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could be fulfilled.  There is no doubt that God does take care of His own throughout history.  He keeps them in accordance with His plan for them.  Knowing the future, God prepares the means by which His people (the Israelites back in Joseph’s time and those that believe in His Son, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord today) will be saved.

Joseph is not shy about readily admitting that God did it all.  It was He Who allowed Joseph to become a “father” to Pharaoh and lord of all Egypt so that Israel could be preserved.  The term ‘father’ was given as a title of many official positions in Egypt and other lands at the time.  At the very least, it has the connotation of teacher or advisor, which indeed Joseph was appointed to be.

Where has God put you and I and for what purpose?  Let me share a very personal note at this point.  As I right this section of our study in Genesis, I am reminded of what I said to my wife as I retired the last night: “It seems like the most significant thing we do these days is to watch our grandchildren grow.”  Of course, God has given us both much more to accomplish for Him, including helping with our grandchildren.  Why I said that at the time is not the point.  What matters though is my wife’s response: “God has put us here, so that, depending on our involvement, we can make a great impact on their lives.”  With that thought in mind I fell asleep, looking forward to yet another opportunity to help my grandchildren fulfill the plans God has for them.  What about you?  Why are you where you are? 


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Govt's. Hypocrisy & What To Do When A Mercury Bulb Breaks In Your Home

According to this article, the left hand of the government does not agree with or is not aware of what the right hand of the government is doing. Take a look at this to find out how ridiculous two opposing directions and laws are, as well as what you need to do when a new mandated mercury filled light bulb breaks in your home.

Feds can't make up minds on mercury bulbs


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B.O. Making the U.S. Military a "Hollow Force"

B.O. has already given us his warning -- much of any expected spending cuts will come from the budget of the U.S. military. Take a look at the details.

Obama strategy guts U.S. armed services



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Friday, July 22, 2011

U.K.'s Daily Mail Has the Scoop on U.S. DHS's view of Terrorism.

This is unbelievable. If you are white and middle class, take a look at how your tax dollars are portraying you as the only type of terrorist the U.S. has to worry about. And if you're not careful, chances are someone who is not white, but instead is black, asian, or arab, has every right to call the police. At the very least, this is really bad 'casting'. At the worse, it is exactly what the White House administration wants you to think.

I don't make this stuff up and it comes from reliable sources. Even my liberal friends can't keep ignoring this stuff and simply say, "it's just a coincidence." Or can they. Why not, Robin B.O. Hood and his merry men do.

DHS video characterises white middle-class Americans as the most likely terrorists | Mail Online




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CNN has come clean on B.O.'s Disapproval Ratings . . .


 Here is the exact text of CNN's (CNN mind you) of their Breaking News:

President Obama's approval rating falls to 45%, driven in part by dissatisfaction from the left with Obama's track record, a new CNN/ORC International poll released today suggests.

The new poll shows that 38% disapprove of Obama because he h...as been too liberal, but 13% percent say he has not been liberal enough, nearly double those who felt that way in May. His approval rating among liberals is at 71%, an all-time low for his presidency. Overall, those who disapprove of Obama is at 54%, tying an all-time low hit just before November's midterm elections.

Poll respondents' negative opinions weren't reserved just for the president, though -- 55% of all Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, a 7-point increase since March. And only 37% feel the GOP's policies would move the country in the right direction, a 9-point drop since the start of the year.

-- CNN Breaking News by email at July 22, 2011 1:06:02 PM EDT




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Coming Out! - Genesis 45:3

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph!  Is my father still alive?”  But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

Recently a friend sent me an article about writing better emails.  Basically it recommended brevity – no more than five sentences -- if you really want the other person to know your email is important, that you care about his/her time, and that you expect an answer.  It seems Joseph was thinking along the same lines thousands of years earlier.

After he was able to subdue his loud crying, he simply came out with the announcement.  “I am Joseph!”  No need to add all the extra words like, “Joseph, your brother” or “the guy you sold to traders”, etc.  Just the necessary single fact, “I am Joseph!”  Everything now falls into place for the brothers.  Everything is now in the open.  Healing can now occur. Steps can now be taken to correct any wrongs to the extent possible.  Joy and happiness can be restored.  Above all, no need for more pretenses.  The family can be reunited as one again.  The only thing that may stand in the way is fear.

Is there some single fact, some hidden secret, you need to announce to someone or to your family or friends or church?  If so, consider doing it.  Your life and that of others will definitely change – and usually for the better.  For one thing, you’ll be relieved of all the pent up feelings you once held along with your secret.  For another, others may find the forgiveness they need to receive or, for that matter, an opportunity to offer forgiveness to you.

“Is my father still alive?”  Joseph gets right to the point.  There’s no talk about “How do you guys feel about the fact that I am Joseph?  What do you think now about selling me to traders and lying to my dad?  Now, what should I do with you?”   No, none of that.  With his younger brother Benjamin now in his presence, Joseph’s immediate concern turns to the welfare of his father. “Is my dad still alive?”  Often when people estranged from their family are reunited with some of the younger members, their immediate first concern and question seems to be, “is dad (or mom) still alive?”  We have been created in that way.  God built us to care deep down about those that gave us life.

But Joseph did not get an answer to his question.  His brothers were “dismayed at his presence” the Bible says.   The ancient Hebrew word used for ‘dismayed’ is bahal that actually meant ‘amazed’, or ‘frightened’.  Some would even extend it to the meaning of ‘terrified’.  If his brothers felt this way, it was because of the emotions and thoughts they were experiencing – the potential punishment they expected as well as the total shock of being in the presence of the brother they wronged.  Some commentators believe their ‘dismay’ was partially due to some ‘anger’ Joseph was still exhibiting.  I’m not there.  Whatever the cause, they were speechless.

So the question shifts to us.  How do we react when someone ‘comes out’ and reveals a secret of great significance to them and/or to us?  Are we terrified?  Are we so surprised we don’t know what to say?  As we mature in both years as well as our walk with the Lord, we slowly learn to expect anything and not fear its announcement, knowing that God is totally in control of not only the past and the present, but also the future.

Sarah Palin, a former U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alaska, in her book, Going Rogue, wrote that in a short period of time she gave birth to a son with Downs Syndrome, said ‘good-bye’ to a son going to Iraq with the military, and received the news that her unmarried daughter was pregnant.  She wrote, “It took a while to absorb it.”  And, “Though things would not be easy . . . we knew that with God somehow we could draw good from this change.”  And then she continues,

“In Alaska, we view change a bit differently.  For example, wildfires in the Lower 48 (states) are often treated as natural disasters.  Up here, we often let them burn knowing that from fire-blackened lands new growth will spring.  Often, a searing burn opens dead ground to new light and under the soil long-dormant seeds germinate, covering fields in blankets of a tall, bright pink flower called fireweed.  Here in the Great Land, fireweed grows wild every year.  We mark out our summer as its blossoms open from bottom to top, starting low on the stem around May and popping open higher and higher as the weeks pass until the last bloom on top turns to new seed.  Month by month in the summer of 2008 . . . my life tracked the fireweed’s fuchsia climb.”

Is there a fire that needs to burn in your life so that ‘new ground’ can be exposed and God can germinate new growth?  I love what Charles Stanley says about our unknown future and our fears of tomorrow:

A person may say: “Suppose I don’t get into the college of my choice…”  “Suppose I don’t get the job I want…”  “Suppose the person I love doesn’t love me back…” Friend, the God who is in control of today is also the God who is fully in control of tomorrow.  He has already prepared for what will happen to you!  He has already provided what you will need tomorrow.  He has already anticipated the problems you will face tomorrow and has set into motion everything required to resolve those problems.”

And I like to add, that what amazes me is the realization that God does it all so effortlessly.  Like Sarah Palin and Charles Stanley, we need to accept that God will be with us even when we are to receive some shocking news or change in our lives or when we do not know what the future holds.  Joseph’s brothers were faced with that very thing.


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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.