Archive for December, 2007

31
Dec
07

Spiritual Extortion

Just when I was getting ready to send out invitations to my reflections on the year 2007 “Pity Party”, I was led to read the Apostle Paul’s list of the woes he suffered in 2 Corinthians 11.  Before my invitations made it to the printer, I canceled the order because my “party” was definitely not worth attending.  Reflecting upon the year now ending in light of what Paul endured on a regular basis makes my year look like a vacation in Tahiti.  I have quickly revised my opinion of 2007 and instead of it being one of the most difficult years of my life; it is now classified as one of the most “interesting” years I have lived.

When Paul was breathing out threatening to the believers, he would have had ample reason to be hated and hunted like an animal.  But, many years after his conversion, he was now a pillar of the church and in charge of world-wide outreach.  He spent most of his time traveling to new locations where he shared the Gospel and worked to establish new churches.  The rest of his time was spent going back to previously visited areas to strengthen the disciples.  This was all in addition to his journeys to Jerusalem to attend Feasts and meet with the heads of the Church occasionally.

Because Paul had turned on his Jewish friends and upbringing, he was despised and rejected by the unbelieving Jews wherever he went.  Their hatred was not limited to scathing criticisms of his doctrine, but also outlandish lies regarding his personal life and character.  When all else failed, they acted as common thugs and beat him senseless.  Hatred spurs people to do horrific things to other people.  Hatred , envy and jealousy are the biggest motives behind assassinations, “mob hits” and gang violence.  The Jews hated Paul more than any other Christian on earth.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul lays out a sampling of what he had endured for the Gospel’s sake:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool), I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

Paul lived most of his life in a constant state of danger, which is what the word “peril” means in verse 26.  Keep in mind that Paul wrote this epistle around A.D. 54 or 55 and the final epistle he wrote, 2 Timothy, wasn’t written until A.D. 66 directly before his death.  In those 11 or 12 years he endured even worse dangers than what he wrote about to the Corinthians.  All the things written in Acts after chapter 19 came after this discourse.

Some have said this section in 2 Corinthians shows Paul to be a cranky old man who was complaining to others about all his woes.  Perhaps this is correct, but until another person can honestly say they have endured all the things Paul had to go through, they have no right to criticize or condemn Paul for trumpeting his ordeals.  Besides, God allowed this section to be in His Word for a reason, and that is to show what someone who really takes a stand for God and His Word must expect.

Paul never won any popularity contests nor did he want to.  He was perhaps one of the boldest men who ever lived and when he shared the Gospel and when he shared his heart it was done holding nothing back and with every ounce of honesty in his soul.  His enemies did not like hearing the truth and being the cowards that they were; they sought constantly to silence him and his message.  Does this sound familiar?  It is the exact same thing these people’s parents did with Jesus Christ.  They hated his message and plotted and schemed to silence him forever.

In the Old Testament God gave ample promises of physical prosperity and financial success.  That is all His people had available to them for the Messiah had not yet come.  With the coming of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament physical promises were replaced with the exceeding great and precious promises we have in Christ Jesus.  The New Testament is full of SPIRITUAL promises NOT physical ones.  God no longer needs His people to be financially rich for they are now blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 

I know I am going to catch all sorts of criticism for saying this; but the time has come for me to tell the truth concerning what is destroying the Church in not only America but the entire Western world.  Whoever invented the “prosperity gospel” certainly did not get such revelation from God.  Nothing has done more damage to the truth than the blatant lie that Christians are supposed to be wealthy and be making millions of dollars so they and their families can live in the lap of luxury.  This is a lie straight from the heart of the devil and it is destroying the true church.

Paul tried to confront this error in 1Timothy 6 and again in 2 Timothy 2.  Jesus confronted the whole subject of covetousness and tried to show by his example how God wanted His people to live.  This false gospel that teaches believers to consciously seek to become rich under the guise of then having more to give to the church is insane.  All this amounts to is a doctrine intended to put more money via tithes and offerings into the pockets of corrupt religious leaders who need a bigger house or to put kids through college.

READ THE New Testament and find any references to the kind of financial prosperity found in the Old Testament.  They are not there, and it is because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.  The top heavy ecclesiastical and hierarchal manner in which many churches are administered has opened the door to those in positions of leadership to exercise spiritual extortion over their congregations by threatening them with eternal punishment if they do not give more to the church.  WOE unto those who lay this fear of Godly condemnation on the backs of innocent people who only want to do what is right before God.

I am sick and tired of seeing “ministers” steal from their congregations.  I have grown weary of mega-churches taking in millions of dollars per week and spending millions of dollars per week on their own needs and salaries.  I am very tired of watching the endless parade of people in long flowing robes tell the poor and downtrodden masses that they are not giving enough to the church when the people are already giving more than they have to give.

Where was the church after Katrina ruined the United States Gulf Coast?  Many churches rushed to help and are still there helping.  JUST AS MANY churches never sent a dime or one volunteer to help out.  No way were they going to sacrifice any of the money needed for local church functions and clergy salaries to help an area devastated beyond comprehension.  I personally saw hundreds of destroyed churches in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. In most cases, the pastor waited many months, and in some cases is still waiting, for someone to come and help them rebuild.

I have grown weary of the hypocrisy that runs rampant in so many American churches.  I am tired of seeing believers sit back and watch unbelievers manifest more love than they do.  I am so very tired of hearing all the rationalizations as to why individual believers and churches cannot reach out to help anyone besides themselves.  I am so tired of seeing most church budgets reflect on average maybe 2% of their income going to Missions and other benevolent programs.

Yes, I am full of righteous indignation over the subject of where and how the church spends its money.  I am mad at the lies being palmed off as truth in the realm of where the offerings are spent.  I am angry at fellow-clergymen who see no problem in stealing the offerings of their congregations for personal luxuries and to support sins of the flesh.  My heart is full of disgust whenever I read of yet another ministry going down the tubes because of the outlandish abuse of either money or people within the organization.

The Lord needs His Church to be honest and upright not to be as corrupt as the world.  God needs His people to rise up as a mighty army and demand accountability on the part of “holier than thou” religious leaders who get away with crimes under the pretense of religious privilege.  Woe to those who hide behind their robes and titles while committing unspeakable offences that even the world blushes at.

Yes, when I publish my reflections of the year now ending, I will not complain about any of the things that befell me this year.  I count it all joy to suffer the consequences of daring to speak the truth in love.  I have been censored before and I am sure I will be again.  I have been threatened before and I expect to be threatened again.  My life is not my own, I have been bought with a price.  Anything I can do or give in this life for others reflects the very reason my Savior died for me.  He gave His life so I can give mine.

HE GAVE HIS LIFE SO I CAN GIVE MINE.  HE GAVE HIS LIFE SO I CAN GIVE MINE.  There, I said what was on my mind.  Let there be no question and no doubt as to how I feel about certain matters.  I judge no man, but I do hold men and women accountable for their words and actions when they are injurious to God’s people and are for selfish gain.  Please, before picking up stones to cast at me for writing this, stop and realize that it would not have been inspired to be written if it were not needed to be said.

HE GAVE HIS LIFE SO I CAN GIVE MINE.  That is the message that needs to be shouted in this new year.  No more of the “what’s in it for me” attitudes that have ruined Christianity.  Jesus did not give his life so believers can be wealthy, live in mansions and sit around the pool all day getting a nice tan.  He did not give his life so believers can look at their bank accounts and glory in the millions of dollars being stockpiled for a future life of ease.  Jesus did not give his life so that those who supposedly represent Him as ministers could lie, cheat and steal from their congregations.  Jesus gave his life so believers can have the joy and the ability to GIVE THEIR LIVES ALSO.

Paul suffered dearly for telling the truth; yet it did not stop him from telling it some more.  Unless someone stands up and holds the current crop of religious leaders accountable for their words and actions as Jesus did with the Pharisees and scribes; the church will continue to sink into a state of being a meaningless factor in our society and a horrible failure regarding its very purpose.  Let the truth ring loud and clear in 2008.

27
Dec
07

Pakistan’s Tragedy Today Mirrors America’s Nightmare in 1968

I fear that we in this glorious country take for granted far too many things.  As much as we all despise the endless election process, at least we do not have to face either the intimidation to vote a certain way as in Russia and other “hard-line” countries, or the assassination of opposing candidates as just happened today in Pakistan.  We have our own problems to deal with, but at least we still have the liberty to choose whomever we feel best qualified to lead us.

Freedom of choice is not a matter to be taken lightly.  Without the freedom to make our own decisions, we must live in a state of subjection to the agenda and personal preferences of the dictator who is in control.  I fear that because of the great schism that divides this country, we all fail to understand how privileged we are to live in a place that promotes freedom of choice instead of just “talking about it”.

Biblically, a generation was generally thought to be about 40 years.  If we were to apply that rule today, it would mean that the previous generation ended in 1968.  In an eerie coincidence, the previous generation DID END in 1968.  Just as the stock market crash of 1929 totally changed the course of this country for almost 40 years; so the events of 1968 set in motion the changes that defined this country’s politics and society for the last 40 years.

On January 1st, 1968 Lyndon Johnson was the sitting President and the upcoming election in November 1968 was generating little interest due to Johnson being “unbeatable”.  The country was at war in Viet Nam, but it was still viewed in a “patriotic” manner and the anti-war activists were not well organized as of yet.  United States planes bombed North Viet Nam on a regular basis and the ground war was being fought in the jungles by an “invisible enemy”.

The first Presidential primary was not until March 12 in New Hampshire.  Unlike now, many potential candidates were still mulling over the prospects of running.  There was no two year run-up to the election process in 1968.  It started in New Hampshire in March and ended in California in June.  Then the candidates were selected at the nominating conventions in August to run in the general election in November.  The entire process took 8 months and cost a fraction of what it costs today.

The biggest situation brewing in the country dealt with civil rights.  Dr. Martin Luther King had become the spokesman for this cause and was uniting millions of people with the common dream of racial equality.  President Johnson had launched his “Great Society” approach to dealing with poverty in 1964, and now there was genuine support building to once and forever eliminate the racial walls that prevented blacks from being on equal ground with whites economically.

Between January and August of 1968, the entire history of America was changed through a series of events that rocked this nation and sent it reeling like a boxer on the verge of being knocked out.  One huge event after another completely changed the landscape of American politics as well as its social structure.  By the time Americans voted in November of 1968, nothing was as it had been in January.  The results of the election in 1968 could not have been foreseen by anyone eleven months earlier.  What took place in America 40 years ago was earth shattering and historic.  I

On January 23rd, 1968, the United States Navy vessel named the Pueblo was captured off the coast of North Korea and the entire crew was captured along with the vessel.  The Pueblo was a sophisticated spy vessel and the whole incident was a PR nightmare for both the State and Defense Departments.  The crew was not released until December of 1968, so the eleven month ordeal caused major damage to the Johnson Administration both initially and throughout the whole ordeal.

On January 31st, the entire course of the war in Viet Nam changed.  On this date, the North Vietnamese launched what became known as the “Tet Offensive” because it corresponded with the start of their New Year (Tet).  This huge offensive lasted for many weeks and succeeded in turning the tide of public opinion in America against the war.  The “Tet Offensive” took the battle out of the jungles and into the cities in South Viet Nam.  Both the South Vietnamese and the United States forces were severely stung by this surprise attack and quickly went from being on the offensive to being on the defensive. 

The “Tet Offensive” galvanized the anti-war groups in America and suddenly instead of being a fragmented group of social outcasts and students; they became a huge force united in the common goal of not only ending the war but getting rid of President Johnson.  Their biggest political ally was Democratic Senator, Eugene McCarthy, who had long been against the war. 

On March 12th, New Hampshire held the nation’s first primary.  In a stunning turn of events, the various anti-war groups became united in their support for Sen. McCarthy and he came within 240 votes of winning the primary against a sitting President.  On the Republican side, former Vice President Richard Nixon beat Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan.

The combination of the Pueblo incident, the relentless negative press being given to the “Tet Offensive” and the stunning near defeat in New Hampshire rocked the Johnson Administration to its core.  On March 31st, President Johnson appeared on national television to announce he was NOT seeking re-election.  This announcement was totally outside the realm of possibility only three months earlier.   

Before the nation had a chance to digest the announcement by President Johnson, an event shocked the nation and set in motion one of the most troubling 5 month periods in our nation’s history.  On April 4th, of 1968 outside a motel in Memphis, Tennessee; a single shot was fired that totally changed history.  One shot from a high powered deer hunting rifle killed Dr. Martin Luther King.  In one moment of time, the country was launched into the same disorder currently happening in Pakistan.

Almost immediately, riots broke out all across America.  From Baltimore to Los Angeles, downtrodden blacks rushed into the streets to take out their frustration at losing their leader to a white man’s bullet.  The race riots would flare on and off for years, but the catalyst was no doubt the horrible and cowardly assassination of Dr. King.  The man with “The Dream” was eliminated from being an influence in America in one moment of time.  No man since has come close to rallying the hearts and causes of so many people as Dr. King.  His sudden loss totally changed the social landscape in America.

After the assassination of Dr. King, the political climate changed in America.  Suddenly the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy took off.  Instead of simply being JFK’s younger brother, his views and stands on racial equality and social issues filled the void left by Dr. King’s death.  On June 4th, in a stunning victory, Robert Kennedy won the California primary.  The Democratic Party was now in total disarray with the Kennedy, McCarthy and Humphrey camps dividing the base.  To make matters worse, George Wallace was mounting a third party run capitalizing on his popular segregation views in the South.

Before anyone could take in the significance of Kennedy’s victory in California he was shot.  After giving his victory speech at a hotel in California he was shot in the chest as he was leaving the hotel by a Jordanian man who supposedly was upset with his backing of Israel.  On June 6th, Mr. Kennedy died from the wounds inflicted upon him by either a deranged madman or someone paid to eliminate the competition. 

For the second time in five years, the country went into deep mourning over the tragic sudden loss of a Kennedy.  For the second time in two months, the country had to search its heart and soul as an assassin’s bullet silenced a champion of the common people.  Once again, Americans had to attempt to make sense of senseless violence.  Once again, this country had to prove it could rebound and move on after a bullet defeated a candidate instead of an election.

Four United States Presidents have been assassinated and died in office:  Lincoln in 1865, Garfield in 1881, and McKinley in 1901 and of course Kennedy in 1963.  Six other United States Presidents had assassination attempts made on their lives:  Andrew Jackson in 1835, Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, Harry Truman in 1950, Gerald Ford in (twice) in 1975 and Ronald Reagan in 1981. 

The summer of 1968 was one full of riots, frustration and anger throughout the United States.  By the time the Democrats held their convention in Chicago in late August, their fragmented party had reached the boiling point.  The convention was marred by constant protests inside and out.  Finally on August 28th, the Chicago police took matters into their own hands and brutally broke up the demonstrations going on outside the convention.  Hundreds were injured and hundreds more were arrested.  Controversy quickly swirled as accusations of unprovoked police brutality were made and basically substantiated. 

When the fateful election was finally held in November and the votes were counted, the United States had a new President, but not the one anyone expected at the beginning of the year.  Historians agree that if Robert Kennedy would not have been assassinated, his momentum would have led to him being the Democratic candidate, or at least the Vice-Presidential candidate.  Due to his untimely death, the nomination went to Hubert Humphrey by default.  Mr. Humphrey would no doubt have won the general election except for the all the votes George Wallace siphoned off. 

In a situation eerily similar to what happened in 1992 with the Ross Perot candidacy, a President was elected who did not even receive 45% of the popular vote.  The final results show Nixon with 43.4%, Humphrey with 42.7% and Wallace with 13.5% of the popular vote.  Since Mr. Wallace was a Democrat, it is to be assumed he succeeded in getting Nixon elected much as Perot succeeded in getting Mr. Clinton elected in 1992.  In January of 1969, Richard Nixon was inaugurated President of these United States and of course the rest is history. 

I pray that the election tranquility we have enjoyed in this country for many years can continue.  Our secret service personnel protect every candidate and the odds of what took place in 1968 happening now are very slim.  But, there is always the chance someone or some group will resort to the bullet instead of the vote to gain or keep power.  I pray the events unfolding in Pakistan serve as a wakeup call to Americans to never take for granted the freedom and peace we have in this country when it comes to electing who serves us.  I also pray for Pakistan that it does not sink into a civil war and terrorists get their hands on the nuclear weapons stockpiled there.

Much can change in this country before the November 2008 elections.  We have no clue at present who will be the candidates.  If history is as good a teacher as we know it is; then we need to learn from the election year one generation ago and see how quickly and dramatically everything can change in a matter of months.  Please America, never take your rights and responsibilities for granted.

27
Dec
07

Is America Really 80% Christian? Not Around Christmas.

Here are a few thoughts which sum up my personal opinion of the “season” which either ended yesterday or revolved around yesterday.  The Gallup organization just put out the results of its yearly survey on faith, and to no one’s surprise, supposedly 80% of this country considers itself Christian.   Just about every year the statistics are the same.  80% of the people call themselves Christian, 10% have no faith and 10% are some other religious faith besides Christian. 

If, indeed, this country is 80% Christian, why are there so many attacks on the Christian ideals this country was founded upon?  Why has prayer been taken out of schools and the Ten Commandments banished from the courtrooms?  Why does the issue of “Christmas” come up every year?  Why has the word “Christ” been pretty well obliterated from the vocabulary of politicians, actors, lawyers and even many pastors?  Why, if this country really is overwhelmingly “Christian”, have these things happened?

The first problem lies in the definition of “Christian”.  Just because a person says “I am a Christian” does not make him one.  I could say that I am a “horse”, but that does not mean I really am one.  If the Gallup organization was more specific and defined “Christian” as one who has fulfilled the Romans 10:9 requirements of confession and belief; then the number of so-called “Christians” in this country would drop dramatically.

Jesus said “By your fruit you will be known”, and this is the ultimate way to determine who is a Christian.  You cannot grow apples on a tomato plant.  People say a lot of things, but actions speak louder than words ever do.  Those who exhibit the love, patience, peace, joy, self-control, goodness and gentleness of Christ in their lives are probably Christians.  Those who live by the Ten Commandments may live righteously, but there is no guarantee they are a Christian.

I think it is a joke how this country claims to be Christian but turns around and both lives like the devil most of the time and condemns Christians for being intolerant and dogmatic the rest of the time.  The “Christian Right” has been condemned, ridiculed and pushed into a corner of irrelevance.  I am not sure what the title “Evangelical” really means politically, but it is not a title the vast majority of people in this country want to be placed on them.  The only title worse than “Evangelical” is the dreaded “Fundamentalist” title placed on those who adamantly believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. 

Now, if this country is really 80% Christian, why would people rather be led naked through the streets and made to eat manure than be tagged with the horrible title of being an “Evangelical Fundamentalist”.  Take your own survey.  Go out on the street and ask people the first thing that comes to their mind when you use the term “Evangelical Fundamentalist”.  If you get more than 20% remotely positive responses I would be amazed.  Few people have anything good to say about those “Bible thumping religious wackos” who preach about a God who hates sin and threatens sinners with hell.

If we grabbed 100 people from the local mall and in the presence of each other asked them if they were Christian, the results would depend entirely upon the initial responses from the first few people.  If the first 5 people said they were Christian, then the sheep would follow the leader and there could very well be 80% or more in the crowd who claimed to be Christian.  But, if the first 5 were jerks and said they were atheists or devil worshippers; then the rest of the people would feel very uneasy being singled out as Christians.  In this scenario, I would guess there would be fewer than 30% willing to subject themselves to the scorn of others by claiming to be Christian.

My point in all this is very simply that what a person says to an interviewer in the privacy of their own home on the telephone is far different than what most would say in public to a real person with a microphone.  The apostle Peter bears this out perfectly.  As long as he was with Jesus he said over and over again that he would never deny him or forsake him.  Once Jesus was apprehended and hauled before the religious leaders to judge and condemn him of crimes worthy of death, when different people confronted Peter and accused him of being a follower of Jesus, he vehemently denied it three separate times. 

I do not believe a true Christian denies his faith when confronted by an unbeliever.  A true Christian wears his faith as a badge of courage and honor.  Anyone ashamed of being a Christian probably isn’t one to begin with.  “Closet Christians” are a dime a dozen.  Look around your workplace and see how many fellow workers are not ashamed of their faith.  Anyone ashamed of being a Christian is ashamed of Christ.  Anyone ashamed of Christ has some major problems according to the Word of God.

In Egypt, before God led his people out of the land of bondage to the freedom of the desert; God demanded a public display of their faith.  Every door which had the blood of the sacrifice upon it was “passed over” by the destroyer.  Every door which did not have the blood, was visited by the destroyer and the oldest son was slain.  God demanded His people obey His Word and not be afraid to publically display their faith in that Word which had been given to them.

If the United States of America is really 80% Christian, then the United States of America is worthy of all the wrath of God mentioned in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation.  Why?  Because it is a country full of hypocritical people who claim to be one thing and live just the opposite.  The things done and said in the name of “Christianity” are more horrible than those done by unbelievers many times.  People need to “put up or shut up” when it comes to their faith.  Either you are a true Christian or you are not.

I would rather associate with a rank unbeliever than a so-called Christian who is so ashamed of their faith no one knows their faith.   I would rather go to Mississippi or Alabama and give all I have to the so-called “scum of the earth” than to keep giving my money to religious groups who are so self-centered they never give a dime to help anyone but themselves.  I would rather face the anger and indignation from “religious” people for telling the truth than to cozy up to hypocrites that smile while they stab you in the back.

This so-called holiday season has really gotten me in a foul mood.  Not because of anything done by the world, for their unbelief is to be expected.  What has really bothered me is the apathetic and lukewarm attitude on the part of those who claim to be “Christian”.  I know a little about the Bible and I know what the Bible says to do with your heart, time, money and abilities.  Nowhere does the Bible say that God “blessed” you with a good mind and body to make millions of dollars to spend on yourself and your family and never share a penny with someone in need.

Giving over-priced secular presents to unthankful people under the guise of “giving” is not what this season was supposed to be about.  Back before television and its non-stop commercials promoting yet another gadget everyone just “has to have” was around, people enjoyed the Christmas holiday as a time for warm fellowship and the joy of being together.  If you can even find the movie anymore, the old black and white version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is worth watching any time of the year.  I love the movie because of the simplicity of the times.  A big goose for dinner was the only present a family needed to have a wonderful holiday.

In the absolute height of hypocrisy; Americans have given Christmas over to the world and other faiths and have willingly removed Christ from the day set aside to honor his birth.  One city government after another has “caved into” the demands of a handful of unbelievers to get rid of any trace of Christ in Christmas.  University and other choirs have removed all references to Christ in their holiday programs. Schools have even done away with trees.  All that is left of a once beautiful holiday is all that the world holds near and dear.  Unbridled greed, lust and selfishness are honestly all Christmas is about anymore. 

Closet Christians have no one to blame for the demise of their cherished holiday but themselves.  Christians have allowed the Grinch to steal the real meaning of Christmas and replace it with this catch- all holiday celebrating every faith’s tradition except of course Christianity, since that offends people.  I honestly pity the poor Christians who still think Christmas is a Christian holiday because they go to  church on Christmas Eve or they have a Nativity scene in the pile of decorations in the living room.

The so-called 80% Christians in this country can have what is left of Christmas.  I don’t want anything to do with this soon to be 100% secular holiday.  I have decided to have “Christmas” in September next year.  I will write on Christ’s birth and give anything I want to give others at that time.  This time next year I plan to be relaxed and unfazed by the lights, camera and action of what should be called “World Marketing Day” instead of something so blatantly hypocritical as “Christmas”.  I’d like to think many people would miss me not celebrating Christmas next year, but I really don’t think anyone would notice.

23
Dec
07

Holidays Are Not Holy Days; Not Even Christmas

Like everything else in Western culture, “it’s all about the money” when it comes to holidays.  By his very nature, man wants and craves something to “celebrate”.  Anything is a good thing to justify a party.   Over the past few years I have noticed an alarming trend when it comes to holidays.  The purpose of the particular holiday is quickly becoming obscured by the holiday itself being a time to relax, have fun and party.  Many years ago I remember the “minor” holidays being for festivities but not the “major” ones.  Valentine and St. Patrick Days were for parties and strange celebrations; Thanksgiving was for family gatherings and Christmas was, together with Easter, the only two religious holidays in the year.

Long ago, some minor holidays were religious in nature.  Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day were Catholic holidays which lost their religious qualities and became big money makers for the entertainment and beverage companies.  Unofficial holidays such as “Fat Tuesday” are not celebrated as such, but the time frame of them opens doors to Mardi gras types of outlandish excuses for drunken parties.  Of course the up and coming biggest holiday of all is Super Bowl Sunday.  This recent addition to the list of fabricated days to justify parties is the most obnoxious of them all.  People who could care less about football worship this day as the greatest holiday of all because it is entirely about the parties.

Everyone knows the reason for silly “holidays” such as Mothers and Fathers day are strictly for business.  These days supply huge amounts of revenue to the floral shops and greeting card companies.  They also have become huge days for restaurants and now there are more and more “Fathers Day Parties” happening.  Some people are so holiday deprived they celebrate “ground hog day” as a day for celebrating shadows; thus a good day to have a party.

Sitting in a class by themselves are the government sponsored “legal” holidays that hold zero meaning to 90% of the people who have the day off.  “Martin Luther King Day”, “President’s Day”, “Columbus Day” and even “Veterans Day” mean nothing to most people.  Sure, there are groups that legitimately celebrate some of these “Days”, but the vast majority of people simply view them as days the major department stores have huge sales.  What on earth else is there to do on “Columbus Day?”

Then there are the big three summer holidays.  “Memorial Day”, “Independence Day”, and “Labor Day” define the summer season as one of endless days of barbeques, swimming and of course—PARTIES.  How many people under 60 have a clue what Memorial Day is supposed to be about?  How many people outside of some of the bigger trade unions have any appreciation for Labor Day?  How many people devote even 60 seconds on July 4th to remembering what the day is celebrating?

The big three summer holidays are, for most people, simply times to enjoy long weekends full of summertime activities and parties.  The sales of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages skyrocket during the summer, especially around the big three holidays.  The sales of just about everything skyrocket around these times because of all the sales tied to the holiday.  It is truly amusing to see how the big home improvement stores have taken over Memorial Day and to a lesser degree the other two summer holidays as the duly appointed time to fix up the house. 

There are four major holidays left.  Easter Sunday has maintained its “religious” overtones and other than a nice day for the clothing, candy and the restaurant business, it is strictly a Christian pagan holiday.  But, somewhere around Easter is the unofficial holiday most revered by kids between the ages of 13 and 21.  Of course we are talking about “Spring Break”.  It is truly amazing to see the growth of this term in recent years.  Spring Break used to be time for college kids to take some time off before finals.  It has now become a week off for every school kid in America.  It is a time for teenagers to flock to Florida and other warm weather havens to party like there is no tomorrow.

No other “holiday” is more morally disgusting than “spring break”.  All this break does is feed the flesh everything it wants in the realms of sex, booze and drugs.  Otherwise “normal” teenagers get together and become wild animals.  Kids hardly old enough to drive somehow end up in tropical locations complete with enough booze to throw a week long party for hundreds of other “party animals”.  Spring Break is an obnoxious and morally bankrupt excuse to justify every sin the human body wants to enjoy.

Thanksgiving used to be a beautiful holiday where the family would gather and eat turkey and enjoy each other’s fellowship.  It is now quickly becoming the day stores designate as the kickoff to Christmas shopping.  They can no longer wait until Friday to lure millions into their stores to squander money they don’t have.   Currently they have moved up the opening times to midnight, and within the next year or two, they will move it up to 6 pm and finally noon.  Within a few short years, Thanksgiving will cease to be anything other than a National Shopping Holiday. 

Christmas goes without saying is the merchant’s dream holiday.  It was not too many years ago that Christmas started after Thanksgiving.  Then it started after Veterans Day.  Then it started after Halloween.  Now it starts after Columbus Day.  Pretty soon they will have it right and start Christmas in September when Jesus was really born.  Perhaps this tidbit of truth should be hidden from the money changers lest they start promoting Christmas in September sales.  Of course they would have to back it up to the 4th of July to get the early shoppers.

Christmas is an obnoxious holiday saturated with the stench of filthy lucre.  Christmas has little to do with Christ and everything to do with making money, spending money, and having parties.  How a bearded fat man in a red suit and a reindeer with a red nose have become the symbols of Christmas is testimony to its 100% pagan nature.  Christmas is a time for those who have no religion to pretend they do under the guise of “giving”.  I hate Christmas and everything it stands for.  I love Christ but as of yet, he has no holiday devoted strictly to him, other than Easter, PERHAPS.

Well, there is one holiday left.  Happy New Year.  Talk about the granddaddy of all party holidays, nothing approaches New Years Eve.  This is the one time per year when a holiday was developed to legalize getting drunk.  Actually everyone gets drunk on New Year’s Eve, and the holiday is to give people a day off from work to recover from their hangovers. 

New Years used to be a day of parades and four great college football bowl games.  There still are parades and many football games.  But the real football games are now spread out over the three or four days after New Year’s Day.  This gives the party animals many evenings to sit around their plasma televisions drinking tons of beer and cheering on teams they could care less about.  Once college football ends, the NFL playoffs heat up and provide more party times leading up to the Super Bowl.

It’s all about the money and for the most part, that is all holidays are about.  You name the holiday and it has been commercialized and turned into an excuse to spend money (make money), eat, drink and party.  Whatever the holiday, it is prime time to buy plasma televisions, buy new furniture and get a new car.  Then invite all your friends over to drink booze, smoke dope and perhaps have a nice old fashioned orgy.  For millions of Americans, in their depraved moral state, the only reason for any holiday is to have a special day to feed the lusts of the flesh.  Unfortunately, even good old Christmas has become this for many people.

17
Dec
07

America: Please Remember What Made You Great

Very rarely do I feel strongly enough about a subject to risk the consequences of telling the truth concerning it.  Most times wisdom dictates taking the side door instead of the front.  There are times the back door is the only way to tell a little bit about something without causing too much commotion.  I have wrestled with the spirit of God over this and He has won.  I cannot but speak the things I have seen and heard.

America, the land of the free and home of the brave, is on the verge of falling from its perch it has prominently sat upon for well over 200 years.  That which has kept America strong and prosperous through World Wars, terrorism and economic upheaval has been the overwhelming generosity in the hearts of Americans to reach out to those in desperate need domestically as well as overseas.  The consistent giving to help others has allowed Almighty God to prosper and bless America and those honored to be called its citizens.

Americans have always been willing to “give the shirt off their own backs” if their neighbor genuinely needed it.  Americans have raced to disasters to offer assistance no matter where on earth they have occurred.  Americans have given millions upon millions of dollars in aid to help those deprived of the necessities of life wherever they live in this world.  Americans have generously supported charities and the work they do for the disadvantaged.  Americans have opened their checkbooks time and again to help, restore and rebuild communities and neighborhoods devastated by natural disasters.

Americans have rushed to the Red Cross when they hear the blood supply is low.  Americans have given millions of dollars every year to the Salvation Army and their holiday season red kettles.  Americans have supported research into finding cures for diseases once thought incurable.  Americans have faithfully shared of their tithes and offerings to support not only their local church, but the social services many of them provide to their communities.  Americans have always been ready, willing and able to help the guy on the street who hasn’t a dime to his name. 

Americans have always been willing to give, even if no one knew they did it.  Americans have seen needs and sought to supply them, seen hurt and sought to heal, seen pain and sought to comfort, seen suffering and sought to relieve it.  Americans have always had what amounted to a ministry of mercy when it came to putting the welfare of others ahead of their own.  Americans have always been the leaders in compassionate care for those who have suffered loss. 

America used to take great pride in its ability and willingness to share of its resources regardless of whether they were appreciated or even asked for.  America used stand alone at times in its compassionate response to starvation, torture and genocide in the world.  America used to shine as a beacon of light, providing a refuge for those who barely survived elsewhere in the world.  America used to be the land everyone wished to immigrate to and it was immigrants who made America who she is.

God has truly blessed America.  This country has never been invaded by a foreign nation.  This country has never suffered a truly catastrophic natural disaster which would render the entire nation crippled.  This country has always enjoyed freedom to speak and serve God as one sees fit.  This country has always encouraged its citizens to go and serve wherever and however they felt God wanted them to.  Except for wartime, this country has not forced its young men to serve in the military and has not demanded a certain number of years of service to be a citizen. 

America has a problem.  For many reasons she has cut back on her giving.  This is not a good thing for the country or its inhabitants.  For America to stay strong and be the leader she has always been, Americans must never forsake the willingness to give to those who are in need.   I beg you, America, please do not quit doing what made you who you are.  It was not your intellect or brawn which brought about your rise to glory, it was your humility and compassionate giving which enabled God to make you great.

Too many times recently, resources that once were designated for those in need have been diverted to meet the needs of the givers.  Too many times excuses have been offered instead of offerings when needs have been made known.  Too many times personal lack has been magnified at the expense of looking at what could be given without incurring hardship.  Too many times the attitude of “I can’t” has replaced the previous “can do” attitude which previously opened doors when none were there.

I fear people have allowed the economic negatives which bombard them daily to influence their decisions to give.  A “hunker down” mentality appears to be what is needed in difficult times, but in reality the old cliché of “when the pressure is on—give” would be a far better one to live by.  When people stop giving they clam up and cease to be of any benefit to others.  Cessation of giving spells doom for any person or group.  Giving is the lifeline to receiving God’s abundant promises of blessings.

I have heard recently from numerous groups encompassing the whole spectrum of care-giving that donations are way down this holiday season.  Food pantries have had to close their doors and facilities that disperse not only food but other vital necessities of life have had to go on “hiatus”.  Many organizations seeking to provide toys for disadvantaged children this holiday season have seen a drop of over 50% in donations due to all the recalls.  Many groups which have in the past provided holiday meals have had to cut back or even eliminate them this year.

Beyond all these distressing things, there is a dramatic downturn in end-of-the-year giving.  Many charities depend on the late December flood of donations to pull them through until late spring.  Due to economic problems, faithful donors have cut back or even ceased giving.  However understandable this is, it leads to a cessation of services among organizations essential to many communities.

I pray that as we enter the final days before the day set aside to honor our Savior’s birth; that we remember what charity is all about.  Charity is simply the Love of God in manifestation.  Charity is loving thy neighbor as thyself.  Charity is doing unto others as you want done unto you.  Charity is faith in action.  Charity is actively working to help another by giving of yourself and your resources.  Charity is reaching out to help another, realizing their need is far greater than your own.

The true heart of America will always be found in its benevolent giving and sharing of resources.  Please, America, don’t give up on those who need you.  Not now, not ever.  Keep opening your heart, your home and your wallet to help those who need what you have to share far more than you.  Please remember that Christmas is to be a time of sharing and giving more than anything else.  I ask you to please remember those in need and reach out in some way to help them be able to enjoy this beloved season.

16
Dec
07

What Exactly is the Purpose of the Church

I was speaking recently with an associate who was telling me about the problems being encountered attempting to hold a silent auction for a local charity.  Although the person in charge was very experienced and skilled in auctions, he was not acquainted with the local area enough to understand how and why people think as they do.  He was attempting to get the people to place bids on brand new donated merchandise.  The people wanted to start the “bids” at a penny and work up to a dollar.  The problem was that the donated items sold for over $20 new in the stores.

Unfortunately, the people involved had a “yard sale” mentality and not a “fundraising” one.  In their minds, they were looking for a “bargain” not a means to donate to a cause.  The auction was a miserable failure due to the lack of understanding on the part of the audience as to auction’s purpose.  This whole situation brings up some interesting points to ponder.

Charities and organizations of all types have been doing silent auctions for years.  Groups that range from PBS to politicians to the local church, set aside an evening to have a dinner or banquet for the sole purpose of raising funds for their group, cause or the next year’s budget.  A key part of these events is the silent or active auctions.  It is understood (usually) that the purpose of the auction is to raise funds for the cause, group or event.  Most of the time, the winning bid on these items is many times more than the actual value of the article.

Recently Rush Limbaugh put a letter up for auction on eBay written by the leader of the Senate.  The letter, which had no actual value, fetched a couple million dollars for charity.  The purpose of an auction, when being conducted by a charity or service organization is to solicit donations to the cause.  It is that plain and simple.  If a $25 gift card is auctioned at a fundraiser, the STARTING price would usually be at least $40 or more.  That may seem unfair to some, but remember the purpose of the auction is to show support for the cause and not to get a “bargain”.

The reason there was a problem in this situation is found in the attitude of the people toward “giving”.  The people involved were from a black church in southern Mississippi.  These were faithful members of their local church who attend services every week, volunteer for various activities and make up the very backbone of the congregation.  They give on a regular basis to the church.

Generally speaking; the poorer the people, the greater the chance they attend a church where they have been taught that all giving is to be done to the church.  Sure, it is fine to drop a nickel in the red pot at Christmas time, but “giving” is to be limited to the tithes and offerings the minister is to receive and disperse at his or her discretion.  It is drilled into people’s minds that any giving that interferes with what they are supposed to give to the church is wrong and that any tithes have to be given to the church.

Now, if the church has an active outreach ministry that is helping the poor, the widows, the homeless, the elderly and disabled; then people should simply give to the church and be done.  But, if the church is limited to a couple of services on Sunday and possibly a prayer meeting on Wednesday; where are all the gifts and offerings being used?  Interesting how many of the “ministers” of these kinds of churches have closets full of designer suits, drive new Cadillac’s and eat out a fine restaurants on a regular basis.  All the while, the people doing the giving live in poverty, have one beat up old car and eat beans and rice.

When God designed the concept of “giving”, was it to provide wealth and excess for the “minister” in charge?  When God urges people to give throughout the Bible, is it to pad the bank accounts of “ministers” whose only duties are to preach a couple of sermons a week and perform a wedding or funeral occasionally?  Was the idea of giving only to support the priests, or was there a bigger purpose? 

Any government or governing agency needs resources to carry out its responsibilities.  The purpose of paying taxes was to provide income for the government to defend the country and provide for the general welfare of the citizens.  The purpose of tithes and offerings in a church are to provide the means to fund programs that benefit the congregation and facilitate outreach to others.  They also provide the means to maintain the building and the pastor’s residence.

Between 1976 and 1985 I worked “full time” as a minister for a non-denominational church group.  My “salary” ranged from $100 to $250 per month.  That’s right, PER MONTH.  Of course I was given a car to drive, a home to live in, utilities and gasoline paid for, clothing allowance, and a fund that covered most expenses that came up including medical expenses.   My “salary” was to pay for food and personal items, and for the most part it did. 

When I see ministers receiving salaries in excess of $100,000 per year; I cringe.  When I see large churches paying salaries to several ministers that add up to over a million dollars per year; I really cringe. When I see ministries taking in hundreds of millions of dollars per year and NOT being actively involved with missions and other outreach programs; I applaud the United States Senate for conducting an investigation.  Honestly, is the reason for ministering God’s love and Word supposed to be to make money or help people?

Far too many times a church will start accumulating a lot of money and instead of using it to help needy people; they inevitably use it to build a bigger and better church building.  Millions of dollars are then spent on designing and building a “mega church”, complete with basketball courts, coffeehouses and other facilities that look like good outreach ideas, but rarely do anything but provide entertainment for church members.  So the building is built and the new facility is in place.  The bank account is empty but for the moment the church has “bragging rights” to being the newest and biggest church in town.  Then the next church builds a bigger and better building, and so on. 

If a fraction of the money that is spent on new church buildings were spent on helping the poor, the elderly, widows and orphans, drug addicts and the homeless; then there would be no need for community outreach programs to do the job the church should be doing.  Reading, studying and talking about the Bible is all well and good, but without active works of charity; it is all vanity.  A church needs to reach out and help the poor and needy in their community, not sit in their plush pews once a week and pat themselves on the back for having the nicest building in town.

What is the purpose of having a church if it is not to provide a place of help, rest, resources and hope for those who are hurting, suffering, addicted and at their wits end?  In a recent disgusting phenomenon; far too many churches in America have turned into huge social clubs with no desire to drag into their pristine structures the lowly, dirty, homeless and suffering people off the street.  If a church is going to build a huge structure, then at least provide facilities for cooking meals for the hungry and not just to host fancy receptions for weddings.

In the book “Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches” by Dean R. Hoge, the entire subject of personal giving as well as church giving was studied thoroughly.  Among the many findings was that since the 1950’s,most Protestant churches have given less and less every year on missions and instead diverted more and more to local church matters.  This is plainly apparent when one looks at the structures, programs and salaries needed to keep a local church “in business”.  The sad reality of seeing where all the money goes is that most of it stays “in house” to support the house.

On average, most churches give less than 3% of their income to “missions”.  It is a truly a sad and disheartening fact to know that all the various projects, programs and people who care for the sick, poor, needy and dying are only worth 3 cents of every dollar given.  Obviously the “worth” of those who minister far exceeds the value of those being ministered to in many cases.  No doubt the “worth” of the structure is far greater than the people who might be helped by anything going on in that structure.

It has been estimated that if every church would give 10% of its income to missions, the world as we know it would never be the same.  If this were done, there would literally not be ONE SINGLE starving child left in the world.  Every single child could receive enough food daily to be healthy.  If all the churches did this, every country in the world could enjoy missionaries whose efforts were directed at helping and ministering to the needs of the people instead of constantly looking for funding.  If the churches all gave 10% to missions, there would be NO NEED for most not for profit charities.  The need would be met by the churches, where it is supposed to be.

Even in the most conservative of all denominations, the average amount given by those in the congregation is under 10%.  Despite all the sermons on tithing and endless appeals for more money for this project and that; most people still only give what they genuinely don’t need to their church.  If the church led the way and started giving 10% of its income to missions, then the people in the church would be inspired to give more themselves.  As it stands, amazingly, the percentage of giving by those in the church to the church is roughly equal to that which the church gives to those in need—3%.

If those who attend church on a regular basis only give about 3% of their income to the church, and these same people claim they have nothing left to give to other groups providing charity services; where exactly are these groups supposed to gain funding to do what the churches should have been doing to begin with?  If the church is not going to help those who cannot help themselves, and private groups cannot help due to lack of funding; that leaves the government to pick up the slack.

In a crazy case of extreme irony; the very people who will not take care of the poor end up paying to take care of them anyway through higher taxes.  So, which is it going to be?  Pay more and more money to the government to do yet another thing the church was supposed to do, or release more from church coffers to fund programs that genuinely help the disadvantaged.  Those are the choices and the way things are going, we can expect the government to pretty well take over all aspects of “charity” because the Christian churches are too busy building structures and hosting basketball games to go out and help a homeless person get back on his feet.

I pray the gentleman finds success in his next silent auction.  But I doubt if he will.  The funds that should go to charity inevitably end up in offering plates which pay to keep the church open for business.  It is truly sad that the “business” of the church cannot and many times does not include one of the very reasons for having a church to begin with.  

11
Dec
07

Surviving an Ice Storm; December 2007

Unless one has lived through a major ice event, there is no way to describe the impact that would begin to communicate how bad things get.  It is not so much the icy roads, although they certainly cause accidents and at times prohibit travel at all.  It is not the cold, for the temperatures are hovering right around the 32 degree mark.  The problems being faced by all of us directly in the path of this event is power outages and tree damage.

This past Sunday morning we were awakened at about 4:00 a.m. by a violent thunderstorm.  This would not be unusual except that the temperature at the time was 26 degrees.  All the heavy rain quickly turned to ice, especially on tree branches.  By 6:00 a.m., huge tree limbs began crashing down and we lost power about 6:30 a.m.  Why do ice storms cause power outages?  The answer is quite simple.  As ice accumulates on tree branches and limbs, the weight of the ice increases to the point the branch or limb snaps and comes crashing to the ground.  If there happened to be a power line near, it goes to the ground also.  In a matter of a few seconds, power goes out to all those “down line” from where the incident occurred.  When this same scenario starts being repeated over and over again, the outages start multiplying rapidly to the point whole neighborhoods and cities lose power.

If the roads are covered with ice, then the power company trucks cannot get out to fix the problems.  They must wait for the road crews to put chemicals or sand on the roads.  This all takes times.  Once the crews make it to the site or sites of the problem, it many times is a maze of broken tree limbs and wires all tangled together.  The situation must be dealt with great caution due to the power of electricity.  There can be no “quick fixes” allowed.

We were without power (the first time) from 6:30 a.m. Sunday until around 9:00 p.m. that evening.  15 hours is a long time to go without power.  We, thankfully, have a generator but since I had been remiss and had not started it for well over a year, it took me many hours to finally get it going.  By late morning we had enough power to run the pump for our well, the sump pump and a few outlets.  Later in the day I got my small generator running I used to take in my van when I travelled.  It provided just enough power to run two low wattage space heaters.  As difficult as our situation was, we were in heaven compared to hundreds of thousands of people who have no generator and are still without power. 

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms or earthquakes; I highly recommend you “INVEST” (and it is an investment) in a generator and have it professional hooked up to your home’s circuit breaker.  That way, if the power goes out for any length of time, all you have to do is start the generator and then flip a few switches near your “breaker box”, and you have enough power to run things such as a well (if you have one), a sump pump (very important) and outlets for the refrigerator, lights, computer and possibly a small space heater.  For a substantial investment, generators can be installed that run on propane and automatically go on whenever the power goes out.  These generators allow hospitals and other emergency facilities to keep limited power during “blackouts”.

If you don’t have the $2,500-3,000 do get a big gasoline generator wired to the circuit breaker; please at least get a generator that can have heavy duty extension cords hooked to it and can at least run the refrigerator and few outlets.  These kinds of generators can be purchased for $500-800.  I do not sell generators nor do I promote any brand.  I am simply trying to get people to understand how to keep from becoming a victim when massive power outages occur.

People always say they will fire up the oil lamps, use flashlights, build a fire in the fireplace and put on warm clothes.  The trouble is that most people never buy enough oil to last more than one night, don’t have enough batteries to run the flashlights for more than a few hours and have no wood to burn in the fireplace.  Thus, most people immediately find themselves in a crisis situation when the power goes out for any length of time, especially during the winter months.

When the National Weather Service issues an Ice Storm, Winter Storm, Hurricane or Flood warning; they always provide details as to what should be done ahead of time to prepare for what is coming.  Most people just run to the grocery store to get bread, milk and other “necessities”.  Very few people realize the first thing they run out of is water, and then prescription medicines.  Things such as food that does not need heat to prepare, gasoline for the generator, candles and spare batteries are all items usually forgotten in the mad dash to get “bread and milk” before a storm.  Everyone from FEMA to the Red Cross have detailed lists available for emergency provisions to have on hand.  Numerous places on line sell pre-packaged backpacks full of everything needed to endure 3-5 days without power and access to stores.

In all my attempts to “be prepared”, I forgot one vital thing; a battery powered radio.  Before I got the generator going, we wanted to know what was going on but had no way to do so.  I had also forgotten to run the dishwasher the night before the storm as well as getting all the laundry done.  No portable generator is strong enough to run appliances.  No portable generator can run an electric hot water heater, furnace or stove.  No portable generator is strong enough to do anything but provide emergency power.

Although we had land line phone service Sunday, we lost phone service most of the next day.  That puts a premium on the cell phone.  It is the only means of communication many times during a power outage.  Again, if you do not have a generator, a cell phone battery will go dead in no time.  The only way to recharge it would be to go to the car and do it there. 

At least because this is a winter storm, we do not have to deal with spoiling food in refrigerators and freezers.  During severe summer storms this is one of the biggest problems people must deal with.  Again, a portable generator, along with spare gasoline to run it, can easily provide enough power to run all the refrigerators and freezers in the house.  What takes power is any device that generates heat.  That is why generators cannot be used to run heaters, microwaves and other items that produce heat.

Last night, at 11:00 p.m. our power went out again.  Not because we were having any severe weather, only because somewhere “up line” a tree limb broke the lines.  I am so thankful all I had to do was step outside and yank on the cord to fire up the generator.  Then I went downstairs, flipped a few switches and lo and behold we had enough power to not “suffer”.  I went out on another porch, fired up the small generator and was able to run the two small heaters.  My wife was able to work on her computer doing eBay business, and I was able to get some sleep.  We did not get cold and this morning I had my normal few cups of coffee and listened to my worship music as usual.  About 7:30 a.m., the power came back on and I simply had to turn off the generators and flip some switches.

A few years ago, we purchased this home and had it remodeled so my elderly mother could spend her remaining years living with my wife and I.  She insisted I get the generator and have it wired into the house circuit before she moved in.  She had lived many years in Kansas and had suffered through many nights without power due to storms.  She did not want to worry about such things in her old age.  I did not want her to worry either.  Thus, we did as she requested.  In fact, we had a 250 gallon tank full of unleaded gasoline delivered just so we would never run out of gas for the generators.  In the time she lived here I had to use that generator quite a few times, once for almost a full day.  My mother was greatly stressed that day, but nothing like she would have been if we had no power.

PLEASE, if you live in a disaster prone area, figure out a way to get a generator and have it professionally wired into your home’s circuits.  Like any “insurance”, it will probably not be used for long stretches of time; but also like “insurance”, when it is needed it will be worth its weight in gold.  Trust me, I know this by personal experience.