God’s Time-Out Place

For the last week or so we have been reading an interesting book, Moses- Steps to a Life of Faith by Bob Saffrin.
Chapter 7, entitled The Backside of the Desert, could probably be better titled, Your Backside in the Desert ! The chapter starts out telling about how Moses was such a vibrant, well-educated man. He was trained to be the next ruler of Egypt. He was a military giant, a man of letters. But, he had been trained as a child by his Hebrew mother. Told many times of his mother’s dream that he was born to set his people free of Egyptian bondage.
I can imagine his typical school day as a young man. Trying to reconcile what he was learning in the Egyptian school with what his mother had taught him, and coming to the conclusion that God must have placed him in this position to train him for deliverance. When his day came and he had his opportunity to start that process, it ended in failure and Pharaoh tried to kill him for his efforts.
It was then that God sent Moses to His time-out place. The place where he has sent so many others who have tried to out-guess God’s plans for their lives… the desert. Before the desert Moses had rescued ONE Hebrew and almost lost his own life. When he got to Midian he risked his life again to rescue seven sisters from some bullies. After forty years in God’s time-out box (the desert), God again asked him to deliver His people, but instead of eagerly saying, “Yes, yes God, send me! His response was so different. “Who am I (just a failure) to bring your people out of Egypt. I can’t even speak the language anymore.”
In the Old Testament book Numbers, we read that Moses was the meekest man in all the world. After forty years in the desert, God’s Time-Out chair, is it any wonder that he would be rather humbled? Of course, he wrote the book so this had to have been his self-assessment.
So what DID he learn out there herding his father-in-law’s sheep? From the sheep, he must have learned patience. Of all the four-footed animals that I have had occasion to work with, they are about the dumbest critters in existence. Is it any wonder that humans use dogs, llamas or goats to help herd and protect them?
After his desert experience God was able to use him to lead four million people out of bondage. When, (not IF) you are led to your desert experience, don’t fight God or get angry with Him. Use your time there to let God comfort, educate, and care for you. He is preparing you for something better.  Learn to have faith in Him. Trust and lean on Him.

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April 15th – New National Holiday!

I survived Valentine’s Day only to start working on the next holiday … Income Tax Day. I think that April 15th should be a paid national holiday. That way those among us who are prone to procrastination will have time to catch up by midnight.

Why paid?” I hear you grumbling. Well, check this out. Our employers hire someone to deduct all that money from our paychecks each month, right? So, why should we spend so much of our free-time to get it back?

But giving it a second thought, maybe it should be the Feds who should for pay this holiday. After all, they have been using our money all year long … interest-free.

During the past 50+ years of filing tax returns I have filed 1040 Short forms, Long forms, Itemized forms, 1040EZ and blank forms, then, no forms. Yep, that’s right, folks, I was a tax resister for 18 years and they got NO forms from me.

After that blew over and I understood the futility of such a small portion of the general population was doing this, I went back to filing again. After the TurboTax program hit the market, I have been pretty loyal to it. I have both purchased it and shared the program from my children. We would alternate purchasing it, then share. It has cost about $39 – $69 per year depending on where and when we got it. One year I used the online version, and as I remember, it cost $19. Cheaper, yes, but still, it was money that I did not want to spend.

This year I decided to do a little shopping for a cheaper way to do it. My search led me to several sites that offer FREE filing. After checking them out, I picked one at random … TaxAct.com.  As I proceeded with entering my info, I kept getting pop-ups informing me that for $8.95 or $14.95 or $39.95, I could get this or that extra service. Of course, frugal me, I always took the free option.

That is, until I got to the State filings. It was then that I discovered there were no options, it would cost $14.95 for EACH of the two states that we have worked in last year. So, my FREE filings cost me nearly THIRTY BUCKS and about 7 hours of time. Disgusting, but I was in no mood to begin entering my info into another program.

Now that all three returns have been e-filed and we are getting back every penny that was withheld throughout the year, and was used for free by the Feds, I guess it was OK… but still FAR from the lure of free online filing.

I’m thinking it is time our Federal government is reorganized to reflect the original pattern. Smaller, Congressmen reimbursed for actual expenses for travel to Washington D.C.instead of huge salaries that go on for life after serving only one term, letting States handle their own problems, no trillions of dollars national debt. No insufferable graduated income tax.

Big government! We don’t need it!

Balls of Clay

I was running a little late for church this morning. My wife hurt her lower back earlier in the week, so she had taken some muscle relaxers and was moving slow. I encouraged her to just go back to bed and let them do their work. I would go by myself. While walking to the church, I spotted a family getting out of a white Jeep Wagoneer. There appeared to be two parents, and six children. As I approached, the native father asked if church had started. I replied in the affirmative and we walked and talked to the door.

He told me that he had attended here in 1984, when he was in the 6th grade. They were passing through and he had stopped to show his family where he had attended school as a kid. I was pleasant enough, I thought, and we continued into the building and found a place to sit. I was sitting across the aisle from them.

The pastor, as is his custom, started his presentation from current events. This time it was amazing factoids about Super Bowl Sunday … the billion or more people watching the games live in 37 countries of the world… how many HD TVs were purchased during the days proceeding the game … how many million pounds of potato chips were consumed during the game … the 12′ high pile of guacamole that would cover the entire football field (wait a minute, that’s how much of it was eaten)… and on and on.

Hardly had he started to make his point of the facts he was presenting, when they quietly got up and left. As they were leaving, I kept telling myself, “I should go after them and invite them to stay for lunch. Or offer to show them around campus. Naw. I REALLY should. No, they’re probably in a hurry, or…. “

You probably know that inner voice that tries to get you to do something, and the other voice that tries to disparage you from doing it. Well, I was getting the works!

When I finally decided it was too late to do any of the above, I just settled in to enjoy the sermon.

When I returned home and was awaiting the preparation of lunch, I was sifting through my “Documents” folder looking for things that I could throw away to make room on my hard drive. I chanced upon one called “Clay Balls.” Not remembering what it was, I opened it to see if it was worth saving. To my utter amazement it was directly related to my morning’s experience!

 

 

The Clay Balls

 

 

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him.

 

As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone! Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

 

 

It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure within that person.

 

 

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

 

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

 

How many times I have tossed away a clay ball, the opportunity to make friendships, and had tossed away a jewel instead?

A Taste of Yesteryear

Some of you that are old enough, may have memories of Nabisco Shredded Wheat “mattresses,” long before those mini-wheat “fakes” that are covered with white sugary stuff, became popular. No, I mean the “real thing”… The biscuit’s made of whole-grain wheat, with nothing added but a touch of salt … Cereal you couldn’t eat without salting it!

Do you remember Nabisco’s secret ingredient?

No, not in the cereal, but in the box. The cereal was sold in a cardboard package about the size of a small suitcase (with NO plastic or waxed paper inner liner). Each of the three layers was separated by the most ingenious marketing tool ever invented … cardboard cards!

Oh, it wasn’t the cards themselves that was the source of this marketing magnet. It is what was ON them. Each card was printed with information that was designed captivated the imagination of young eaters.They came in several series, each with a different theme.

The one that comes most readily to mind was the Injun-uity series. The cards, by cartoon, drawings and words, offered the wisdom of Native American “Injuns.” We kids of American were taught how to make furniture from things in the wild. How to cook over an open fire. How to build fires for different purposes, i.e. heating, cooking, and storytelling. How to make clothes from gunny sacks (that’s a cattle feed sack, for you young’uns). How to make headdresses out of feathers and beads. How to use an axe. How to make and throw a tomahawk. How to make moccasins and belts and a travois for your dog or horse to pull. So MUCH information!

If I remember correctly, there was a set of cards telling about wild plants that one could eat for survival … in case we ran out of Shredded Wheat, I guess!

Anyway, it was a vile cereal!! It was nutritious, but vile! But, the cards kept me begging for more. And my parents had to keep coming up with more creative ways to get us kids to eat the stuff. On several occasions Dad would threatened to give our food to the starving Africans. One time my sister pushed her bowl back across the table toward dad saying, “My sacwifice. Give it to the Afwians!”

And that brings me back to my memories. The ONE ‘recipe” that actually brought back fond memories of eating breakfast with Nabisco.

As near as I can tell, it went like this:

Poach 2 eggs in milk
Place 2 Shredded Wheat biscuits in a HUGE cereal bowl
Top with a generous pat of butter (not that fakey margarine stuff)
Dash with plenty of salt
Pour the milk and egg over the crunchy, tasteless biscuits rendering them a mushy mass with a flavor that is out of this world.
Enjoy!

Perhaps it’s time to send a container-load of Shredded Wheat and poached egg to Africa.

Is Your Food Making You Sick or Crazy?

Is Your Food Making You Sick or Crazy?

I came across these three websites that you may or may not know about.

The first,  is 14 foods you should NEVER eat.
http://www.rodale.com/food-ingredients-avoid?cm_mmc=Yahoo_Blog-_-Health-_-12_Scariest_Things_In_Your_Food-_-14_Foods_Never_Eat

The second, is The 12 scariest food ingredients. 

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/12-scariest-things-your-food#.URkHJEwi-ow.facebook

The third, The Strange Reason Diet Soda Makes You Fat.

http://news.menshealth.com/diet-soda-fat/2012/06/21/?cm_mmc=Yahoo_Blog-_-Health-_-12_Scariest_Things_In_Your_Food-_-Mens_Health_News

Take special note of the effects of Aspartame sweeteners.  

“Over the past 30 years, the FDA has received thousands of consumer complaints due mostly to neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and, in rare cases, epileptic seizures”
And “… the link researchers have found between drinking diet soda and being overweight. In one study, people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had five times the increase in waist circumference over a 10-year period compared to people who didn’t drink any diet soda. “

Enjoy!

 

Measuring Love

Reading from Romans 12:9-21 this morning, I stumbled upon what I would call The Love Test. For my commentary I broke the verses (from the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION) into their various points. My comments are in italics.

1. Love must be sincere.

Wow! How often is our love based on LUST, or greed?

2. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Oh how I wish that I could hate the evil I find in my life, instead of clinging to it like it was a long-lost lover.

3. Be devoted to one another in love.

Devotion is a lost art these days. Do we love others enough to give up or set aside our own immediate pleasures for the needs of others?

4. Honor one another above yourselves.

Closely related to #3. Defer to others rather the bragging about ourselves.

5. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Does your zeal flag when it comes to daily time with God, or when you’re asked to serve some position in your church?

6. Be joyful in hope,

Not just joyful when your teams wins, all the time. Sometimes your joy can ONLY be based in hope, hope that something better will take place.

7. Patient in affliction,

Patience during good times is O.K., but nothing great. Patience during the affliction of others is a truer measure of love. A sick child, a handicapped person, discouragement in others, all can try your patience … and test your love.

8. Faithful in prayer.

Especially, faithfully praying for others.

9. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.

If you have been blessed with food, shelter, and clothing you have more then 70% of the world’s population. Share

10. Practice hospitality.

When you invite people to dinner don’t restrict your invitations to only your best friends or those that you associate with on a daily basis … try someone new.

11. Bless those who persecute you;

O-o-o-ow! That is a hard one. I suppose that the word “persecute” could be replaced with “bully.”

12. Bless and do not curse.

Wouldn’t the “air pollution” problem be minimized if people were passing out blessings instead of cursing?

13. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Be empathetic. For without empathy love is difficult.

14. Live in harmony with one another.

Take time to have cookies and milk or a doughnut and coffee with your neighbors or co-workers. How our lives would improve if there were more harmony in our homes!

15. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.

Do you take the time to get acquainted with the service workers at your company. Or the gardener, or the fast-food workers where you have lunch, or …

16. Do not be conceited.

You are of no more or less value to God than the person sitting beside you on the bus, or the one standing behind you in line at the checkout counter.

17. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

The Golden Rule does NOT say, “Do unto others before they do it unto you.”

18. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

Including God.

19. Do everything that you can to live at peace with everyone.

Wouldn’t that be great for nations, also?

20. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Resist the urge to fight back when you are offended. It is not your place to get even on every score.

21. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Now that’s an unusual way to punish your enemies.

22. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Does the “good” that you do outweigh the “evil” that you do? If not, why not?