Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When Guns Were Nice

When I was a kid, guns were nicer.

Sigh... Does anyone remember the good old days? You know, a few years back when life in America was simpler... kinder... less complicated? We all worked hard. We talked to each other. People could firm up a deal with a handshake.

And guns were nicer.

They really were. Guns were our friends, our playmates, part of our families. We could trust them, and they would serve us well. We could keep them openly in our house, and they never caused us any harm.

Those really were the 'good old days'.

Nowadays, so much has changed. People aren't friendly anymore. They don't trust or care for each other. We have more locks and alarms, and security cameras.

And guns have gone bad.

I don't know why, but it's true. You can't trust them any more. Guns used to be faithful friends, good for hunting or self defense. Target shooting. Fireworks and celebrations. Now, it seems they have gone astray. We hear about bad guns murdering people. They hang out in gangs, drive through urban neighborhoods and shoot innocent bystanders. Sometimes we even see one that has gone completely out of its chamber, shooting masses of people.

Where did we go wrong? We didn't raise our guns to act this way!

Our guns have left the once-familiar realms of decency and respect, and now treat people with contempt. They are aggressive, unfair and abusive. They show no concern or regard for human life. They no longer stand proud and tall, defending the American way of life. Now they lurk in dark corners, hiding from mankind like a sneaky enemy. The change is marked and alarming, and disturbing on many levels.

Who can say when the change took place, or why. It's so sad to see a simple rifle turn from a boy's first rabbit gun to a murderer, all within one generation. Even the little .22 semi-automatic I hunted with for years as a child - with never a problem - is now being called an 'assault rifle'. I still can't believe it! I loved that gun. It was my friend and we spent many an early morning or lazy afternoon wandering the woods and fields in search of a furry target... I treated it like family! Why would it turn against me now? Why?

So many others, like myself, are asking these hard questions.

Some people believe that guns are bad because of war... but most guns I have known have never been in combat. They simply couldn't be affected by that environment - they were never there. They've never left the farm or home. How did this happen, and what can we do to fix it?

It seems there are no easy answers when guns go bad.

Some might suggest gun counseling. Programs where reprobate weapons could come and attend - no questions asked - and receive the help they need. Maybe, just maybe, if we could reach out to them in the name of decency and Godly morals, we could convert them back. Maybe we could convince them that they aren't really bad, they've simply fallen into the wrong crowd. For most guns, it's the company they keep that has caused them to stray. Think about it, have you ever seen a gun perform a criminal act without an actual criminal present? I think not. If you research it yourself, you'll begin to see a pattern here. Criminals corrupt guns!

We must reach out to our bullet-laden friends before it's too late.

Will you take some time today to consider how you might help? Let's not turn our backs on these once-prized patriots of freedom. We need to rally around our lost guns, showing them the love and caring they need and deserve. Rescue the firearms! It's a call we all can herald - let's save the guns!

Save the firearms - before it's too late.

Let's show compassion and carry the torch for our lost guns. We can restore them, retrain them, rehabilitate them. Bring them back into the fold.

Just remember: Next time it could be your son instead.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Things Unseen... In Twenty Thirteen

Ok, we're now a month into the new year, let's see how we are doing. 

First, how many have new year resolutions still hanging on? The average lifespan of most resolutions I ever made was about 30 days... pretty much the same as my attempts to raise houseplants. They both dried up and died in about the same amount of time. I learned long ago to just save the suffering and not even try.

So, resolutions aside, what about the new year... how are things going in general? I see a lot of people posting about trying to find jobs and homes in this struggling economy, as things are still tough for sure. Lots of people are sick, and bouncing between conventional medicine with its uncertainties and other more natural or faith-based methods, unsure about the best way to go. Fighting stress and pressure in this demanding life we live is a killer... relaxing is hard work.

So where do we turn? 

Here's an idea:

Every year in our ministry, we prayerfully determine a 'theme' for the new year, based on scripture. Here is our theme for 2013:

"Things Unseen... In Twenty Thirteen"

And the key verse for this year:

“No eye has seen, 
no ear has heard, 
no mind has conceived 
what God has prepared 
for those who love him - 
but God has revealed it 
to us by his Spirit. 
                          1 Cor 2:9-10

The message here is that we need something more this year... more than humanly possible. Most of us either need a special touch from God right now, or we will before the year is out. Something special. Something different. Something powerful. Something unheard of, unseen and unexpected.

Anyone here down with this?

Take a look at how that verse starts.

No eye has seen. No ear has heard. No mind has conceived. I like these verses, there is something supernatural about them. They offer hope and light in a world of deepest darkness.

There are so many unknowns in our earthly walk. The future can be exciting yet intimidating - we just don't know what is ahead. Even if we could see into the coming days we would probably hesitate, for fear of what might be on the horizon. In a world full of tragedy we pray daily for protection, provision and deliverance.

This passage offers more than hope - it gives us a concrete promise from God: He has already prepared everything we need for life and godliness. He has already seen our future, and has laid before us life and death, blessings and curses, all for our choosing. His perfect will and prepared path are there, if we will seek and choose them.

So how do we discover these preordained blessings? The key is in this part of the verse: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The unknown becomes known, the mysteries are revealed, the unseen becomes seen. God reveals everything by his Spirit.

The secret to spiritual success lies in our choices: We can choose life or death, abundant blessings or the curse of sin. Many believers never discover the full life God has prepared because they do not seek him daily and listen to the Holy Spirit. God is the all-powerful, miracle-working supernatural creator of all heaven and earth. And we have this powerful anointing from God, in the Holy Spirit he has sent, to lead us and teach us as recorded in John. The future is open to anything we choose - it's up to us!

So the question is... as we move on into the year 2013, do we want to see a change, or stay in the same struggles, trials and challenges?  I've made up my mind, I want something better. I want to turn loose the power of God and seek His Will. Open the floodgates of heaven and get in the Holy Spirit. Be led, taught, directed and blessed. We can decide right now to follow him and see the unseen in 2013.

Look out 2013... we're coming on through!

Who's with me?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Things I Learned In 2012

Well, we made it through 2012, and we're still here. It was an odd year... an unusual year... a different kind of year. Some good things happened, but I don't think I'd like to do it again. Much like eating native cuisine from India, it was interesting - but once is enough. So to sum it up, here's my review of the last year...

Things I learned in 2012:

• The end of the world was more painless than I expected.

For all the hype, it sure was a disappointment. You'd think the end of the world would at least tease us a little, even if it's a fake. You know, throw us something unexpected. Multicolored meteor showers. A volcano erupting in the middle of Lake Michigan. Or even a Kansas City Chiefs playoffs win. Just anything bizarre and unusual. But no... nothing. I think somewhere I hear a Mayan laughing. Their civilization didn't really disappear, you know. They just made it look like it did, and are living among us today. Having just perpetrated the biggest practical joke of all time, they're now holding secret meetings to share the laughs among themselves. It's their version of reality TV, just on a bigger scale. Well played, Mayans. Watch out for those Hollywood offers.

• The election.

That's about all that needs said about that. Politics seem to have sunk to new sub-aromatic lows in recent years, and as an American patriot I am becoming more deeply concerned all the time. Without taking sides or getting too detailed about it, I would sum it up with this: Are these really the best candidates we can muster these days? Both sides have produced less-than-stellar, propped-up versions of a 'leader' for our still-great country. I don't think I'm alone in saying I wouldn't vote for either one of these guys to sit on my local school board, much less to take the helm of this powerful republic. Can't we raise up from somewhere a powerful, genuine, God-fearing American champion with the sense and wisdom to renew our cause? Someone who can lead us back from the smoldering, tangled remains of our late night insanity to the glorious sunlight of freedom where we once soared? Purple mountain's majesties, pilgrim's pride, amber waves of grain, God blessed and powerful, land of the free and home of the brave... does anyone else miss that place? I sure do. ...Sigh....

• Tattoos and piercings.

Oh my goodness, I never thought things would go this far. Let me put this in perspective for you: When I was a teen in the late sixties and early seventies, there was some really bizarre stuff happening. We were growing out our hair and beards... wearing beads, sandals, multi-colored striped bell bottoms... and tie-died everything. We had leather headbands, wristbands and jackets with fringe. Chains and belts. Paisley shirts with bloused sleeves. For men. (Look it up, it's worth the entertainment factor alone). Peace symbols, rock and roll music, revolution and discord. We were rebels. But after a few years the aging experience kicked in. We gave up some of our revelry and walked away from it. We took off the bizarre clothes, put the crazy accessories in the back of the drawer to show our eventual grandkids and cut our hair. Well, at least tamed it a little. And that's what kids do... something different and shocking, rebellious and unique, making a statement - like every generation has done since Adam and Eve first woke up one day to the discovery of a new species on the planet called 'teenager'.

But today the madness has moved into the realm of ink and needles... and lots of hardware. Kids, and adults, are transforming through various epidermal canvases into multicolored cartoon-like caricatures and multi-surface cyborgs. Tats, rings, gauges, chains, stitches and snake bites. These are some of the most bizarre, artistic and creative expressions to date - some real eye openers as well as some shockers - but still no different than young people of any age... just expressions of individuality that help set them apart from previous generations. Nothing wrong with that... except...

This time the expression is permanent. You can't walk away from the tattoo... not easily anyway and certainly not completely. Plus, a hole in the face is still a hole in the face, no matter how long you let it heal. It will always be with you. The generation today will someday want to move on, as we all did, to the next level and a new plateau. Leave behind a memory of youth's rebellion and become the new in-charge young adult and ultimately middle-aged and elderly leaders of the times. But imagine my generation, if we had been unable to shed the striped, multicolored bell-bottoms and the wide-collared purple paisley shirt (I had both, by the way.) and had to wear that image forever. I'd say we'd look pretty ridiculous like that today, like an old rock band revue or a 3 a.m. visit to an urban Wal-Mart. Scary.

And I know none of them think so now... but someday these young people are going to wish the ink and iron they carry around now could be peeled off and left behind like we did, only it won't. They are convinced their expressions, statements and appearances will be 'really cool' when they are older... but trust us who have been there - it won't be. The next generation will have something new and yours will look silly and old to them. And the generation after that will do it again... and so on. I like the art, and some of the expressions and creativity, and even some of the rebellion... I just wish it wasn't going to be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Maybe if I wore my old hippy clothes for a few months they'd get the message. Now where is that old tie-dye kit of mine...

• The last matching date of my lifetime

Ok, this one is kind of silly and trivial, but it's still true: 12-12-12 was the last all matching date of our lives. That's it, it's over, we'll never see it again. We didn't gain anything by seeing it this time, except to say we were there. It's kind of like attending a Trekkie convention - you can tell everyone all the awesome things you saw but no one really cares, it just gives you a little warm, personal sense of accomplishment. But it's our accomplishment. So go ahead, get that 12-12-12 tattooed somewhere, to tell the world "I was there." Put it next to NCC-1701.  See which one gets the most compliments.

• The heat wave

The summer of 2012 brought record heat, and let me tell you it was hot! I have always liked the heat, but this year was crazy and it kicked me in the rear for several weeks. We had a new pool and an acreage to run and play, but there was just too much heat to endure. The pool was above ground, and the water got too hot to swim. Too hot to swim... did you catch that? The water lines feeding our house are buried about a foot deep in the yard, but the water was heated enough at that depth to get a warm shower from just the cold faucet. Didn't use the hot water all summer. It was almost too hot to ride in my Mustang convertible. Notice I said 'almost'. It's never too hot for that... but it was close. So we spent a lot of the summer inside. Bummer. Maybe this year will be nicer.

• Blessing and challenges

Even with some very tough challenges 2012 still had some of the biggest blessings. After five years on the road we bought a house again. We have a new granddaughter. Our first one is growing like a flower and they're both infinitely prettier. Our two grandsons became teenagers in 2012... look out  world here they come! Another of my children reached adult age... this time a son.

If there's one lesson 2012 taught us it's that life keeps moving, and if we don't learn to ride the waves of time we'll surely sink in the depths. Boards up!

Overall, the year was blessed, but more like the new undergrowth that comes from a spring thunderstorm. No one likes to endure the storms but that's where we grow, and like a mighty oak we are tested and strengthened in the winds of adversity. As unusual as 2012 was, there is a sense of foreboding, that greater changes and challenges are ahead. If 2012 was there to prepare and align us, I pray we learned our lessons and set our sights firmly ahead.

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013 - may you treat us well!

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