Archive for November, 2008

24
Nov
08

NO FEAR; Overcoming Fear before it overcomes you

We live in turbulent times, for sure. One cannot look over the daily headlines without being struck by the incredible fear rising among people as they wonder what it is going to happen next, especially in the financial realm. Fear causes people to adjust their lives dramatically and forces them to do things they would normally never do. Of all the enemies, fear is the greatest because it disrupts and destroys more than anything else.

What is fear anyway? Fear, more than anything else, is the feeling of anxiety or apprehension brought on by either the presence or anticipation of DANGER. Whatever a person perceives to be DANGEROUS is what they fear. Fear feeds off the sense of danger and perceived dangers feed off fears. Of all the fears, the greatest and most prevalent have to be the following, in no particular order:

FEAR OF DEATH

Without question this is the greatest fear in life. Most people, if they are honest, dread the idea of facing death for they do not have the assurance of what happens after death. This is a pity, for Christians, since we have been assured by Jesus that we have eternal life. There really is no reason for a believer in Jesus to fear death, yet believers tend to have just as great a fear as unbelievers. Why is this?

It comes down to trust. Do we honestly trust God’s Word when it says that we have eternal life or not? If the trust and confidence is there, the fear of death has to vanish. If the doubts linger, then so will the seeds of fear. The only way to eliminate the fear of death is to force the mind and heart to believe what God says in His Word. God has promised us that when saved, we have the gift of eternal life.

FEAR OF FAILURE

Both the fear of death and the fear of failure play upon the human need for self preservation. When a person feels threatened, they do whatever is needed to stay alive. The fear of failure is the response of the mind to the possible loss of what is needed to live. Fearing the loss of food, water and shelter would be the ultimate fear of failure, but to a lesser degree, this fear creeps into just about every area of life.

Fear of failure and fear of loss are about the same. To combat this fear, people get overly protective and hoard what they have. They clam up and refuse to give. They take a “hunker down” mentality to things and move to caves or other “safe” places. The end result of this fear is the attitude of excess caution in everything one does. Taken to an extreme, this fear produces more bondage than any other fear because it forces people to live in a tiny box where they feel safe.

FEAR OF THE FUTURE

Again, this fear is tied into the previous two fears. The unholy trinity of fear (death, failure and future) is the god to which most people in this world are slaves to. The vast majority of people plan their lives and determine what they do and don’t do by what this unholy trinity dictates. The resulting bondage is both entangling as well as destructive. Those whose god is fear spend their whole lives running away from life. Put together, these three fears cause people to devote their entire existence into avoiding anything which could result in failure or death.

FEAR OF REJECTION

This fear, also known as the fear of being alone, is very similar to the fear of failure, but deals with relationships. Just about every teenager goes through a stage where they must address this fear. Amazingly, this fear destroys more relationships than any other. A person afraid of losing a significant other in a relationship becomes over protective and usually ends up driving the other person away.

The fear of rejection forces people into tight cubicles where they feel safe and secure. They rarely will say or do anything “outside the box” for fear of being ridiculed or cast off as a fluke. Again, as in most fears, the end result is to look for the “safe way out” in every situation. The fear of being alone is a huge fear which causes far more psychological problems than can be addressed here. Needless to say, it is a fear which has disastrous results in people’s lives.

FEAR OF GOD

I put this fear on the list not in the sense of “reverence” but as a true fear. It is absolutely horrible how many of God’s people are scared to death of Him. This breaks God’s heart. As a loving Father, God does not want His children cowering in fear of His impending judgment and wrath. Yet, this is precisely how many of children of God live. They live in the same condition Adam and Eve did after they sinned in the Garden. They hide from God and hope He doesn’t find them.

There is no fear in love. If we love God, then we will eliminate the fear which destroys our relationship with Him. We are to love, respect and show great reverence toward God; but there is no profit in fearing God as one fears a coming hurricane. If sin is causing the fear, then get rid of the sin. If ignorance is causing the fear, then get knowledge. Regardless of the reason; do not let the fear of God keep you from receiving and living in the LOVE of God which overcomes fear.

CONCLUSION

Trust overcomes fear. If we place our complete and wholehearted trust in God and His Word; we will find release from the bondage of relentless fears. If we will simply accept what God has said in His Word then we can calm the storms which arise in our hearts through dread of what we think is coming. If we can quietly and confidently place our hearts into the care of our Heavenly Father, then we can have full assurance He will take care of us for eternity.

No matter what happens next in the course of history; we have the assurance from God Himself that “all is well”. No matter what may become of our earthly body; we have the promise of eternal life. No matter how dark the times get; we have the light of God’s Word to guide us. No matter what, we are never alone for God is with us and Christ is in us and nothing can separate us from the love of God.

17
Nov
08

Is same sex marriage a civil or human right?

IS SAME SEX MARRIAGE A CIVIL OR EVEN A HUMAN RIGHT?

Those engaged in the ongoing movement to express their anger at the Proposition 8 outcome in California insist on saying that same sex marriage is a “right” and their movement is just as legitimate as the civil rights movement was in the 1960’s. In other words, race and sexual orientation are to be considered one and the same when establishing the parameters of rights.

Consider closely the difference in the meaning of the two terms “Human Rights” and “Civil Rights”:

HUMAN RIGHTS–the rights that are considered by most societies to belong automatically to everyone, e.g. the rights to freedom, justice, and equality.

CIVIL RIGHTS–rights that all citizens of a society are supposed to have, e.g. the right to vote or to receive fair treatment from the law. These rights as conceived in U.S. law are set forth in the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and in some congressional acts.

The question of what is a “right” and what is not is best left up to the laws which govern a society. Those laws will end up either being based on traditional law passed down for generations or upon the prevailing religious beliefs of those being governed. Whatever the law of the land states is indeed the law which must be upheld.

The issue in the United States goes back to the concept that this country was founded upon faith in God and laws were made based upon the Ten Commandments. Of course all references to such religious origin have been purged from the public record under the ridiculous interpretation of the meaning of “separation of church and state”; but the facts remain intact in that this country was founded upon Godly principles of law.

There have been three huge movements which fall in the category of “rights” to have swept this country in the last 100 years. First was the women’s suffrage movement which gave women the right to vote. Once that obstacle was removed, the entire scope of “woman’s rights” began to expand and change the very framework of American society. Although there are still double standards between men and women as far as compensation in the work place; most differences between the sexes have long ago been resolved

A woman certainly has the “right” to be a United States citizen with full privileges granted the same as a man. From a legal point of view, there is no difference between a man and a woman as far as their human and civil rights. Considering how close we came to electing a woman president this year, it cannot be argued that “women’s rights” are still being trampled upon and discriminated against.

In the 1960’s, the long simmering race issue exploded in the South. Through the work of Martin Luther King and many others; the stranglehold of segregation was broken once the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opened the door to gaining equality among races. Just as it took many decades for women to go from simply having the right to vote to being on somewhat equal ground with men; so it has taken many decades for people of color to go from having the right to vote to now having a President who is a man of color.

Whereas there should never have been any discrimination due to sex or race (for in both cases a person is born the way they are), the same cannot be said of homosexuality. As much as the proponents of this lifestyle choice want to say science proves that people are born either straight of gay; there is no verifiable science to prove such a notion. It is simply an attempt to place “gay rights” in the same category as “women’s rights” or “civil rights”.

For two men or two women to willingly make the choice to live together and function as a married couple is not due to nature. This choice is made due to lifestyle preferences and sexual orientation. To attempt to classify this as a “human right” in the same way as being a woman or a black person is wrong. A person born into this world a woman had no choice in the matter, nor did someone born a man. A person born into this world white, had no choice in the matter anymore than the person born black.

No person born, predetermines their gender or race. Whatever they are is thus protected as a “human right”. They have the right to be who they were born to be. A black person should not have to change the color of his skin to obtain the same rights as a white person. A woman should not have to become a man to have the same opportunities to succeed in this life. Whatever a person is, at the moment of their birth should be protected and awarded full human rights.

But, a person is not born into this world homosexual. There is absolutely no science which can prove it is possible to establish the sexual orientation of a baby at birth. The determination of one’s sexual preference is established through many years of being exposed to various situations and points of learning. Sexual orientation is made by choice and as such, it cannot be afforded the same level of protection, right wise, as gender or race.

Do people have the “right” to pursue homosexual relationships? Of course they do, unless the laws of their country prohibit it. Do people have the “right” to have a same sex marriage, recognized as a legal union in the eyes of the state where they live? Not unless the laws of the state specifically allow it. Same sex marriage is not a human or a civil right per se. It is a decision made by a couple, which if it is contrary to the laws of the land or state; makes it impossible to be universally honored.

I see no reason for laws to be passed prohibiting people of the same sex from cohabiting together if that is their choice. I see no reason why laws should be amended to afford such people the same rights and privileges those who are married to a person of the opposite sex enjoy. Naturally, marriage is between a man and a woman since the predominant reason for marriage was procreation. Two men cannot produce a baby nor can two women. I believe the term “marriage” must be reserved for the union between a man and a woman.

13
Nov
08

A cold December wind is coming both literally and economically

There is a cold wind howling getting ready to sweep across this nation. Unsuspecting multitudes will suddenly find themselves without shelter and directly in the vortex of the approaching storm. Few will believe it is for real, and fewer still will have a clue what to do. Confusion breeds despair and despair breeds disillusionment.

The next six weeks leading up to Christmas will make or break countless retailers across this country. Depending on how bad the upcoming shopping season ends up being, there will either be many companies filing for bankruptcy come January, or there will be MANY companies filing for bankruptcy. Either way, what is coming will have a huge bearing on the ability of this nation to continue to buy and sell for months.

My most trusted weather sources tell me with full assurance and confidence that the majority of the next six weeks are going to be very cold, if not bitterly cold over the entire eastern part of the country. This presents two major challenges. First is the obvious problems that will ensue if snow and ice are added into the cold weather. This keeps people from driving to stores to do their shopping. December’s with brutally bad weather have had devastating effects of retailer’s bottom lines in good years. It could financially ruin countless retailers this year.

The second problem deals with heating bills. The colder the start to the winter, the more people will be forced to plan for sky high energy bills come January and February. If money has to be allocated to pay for heating bills, that is money normally spent on presents for uncle Bill and aunt Jane for Christmas. Putting these two situations together there lies the potential for a major cut back in spending the next six weeks.

While the ever deepening economic crisis still doesn’t have a direct impact on everyone yet, the longer it drags on and the deeper it gets; in due time everyone will feel its pinch. As the situation gets worse, horrible decisions will have to be made by families and by businesses as they determine where to cut expenses in order to starve off bankruptcy. Employers cut jobs and families cut all unnecessary things in order to have enough to pay the bills.

In our little town there is an outlet mall which was built about ten years ago. There are about 50 spaces for stores in the complex. Every year the stores renew their lease in January for the next year. Thus, if a store is closing, it does so in January. Three years ago, there were perhaps 5 empty storefronts in the whole mall. Two years ago, there were about 6 stores which closed in January. Last year, the rates of closing accelerated and there easily was 15 stores which ceased operation in January, including one of the anchors.

This past year, the mall has operated at less than 50% capacity. Rumor has it that another 10 stores will close in January of 2009. If this happens, there will only be about 15 stores trying to stay in business. This exact thing has happened in many smaller outlet malls around the country the past few years. Once the bus leaves the station, it is very hard to catch a ride.

There is a huge combination outlet/regular mall in the northern suburbs of St. Louis which was only opened about 5 years ago and was fully occupied just two years ago. The last time I went there a few months ago, there are entire wings which have no occupying stores. I would guess the occupancy rate at the current time to be no more than 50% for the entire complex.

Retail stores and restaurants are hard businesses to prosper in. They are the first ones to feel every economic downturn and they are the ones hurting the most right now. As people continue to cut back everywhere they can, they have to say goodbye the weekly night at the restaurant and the constant trips to buy things at the stores. Times are getting tough and only going to get tougher.

Just a little word of warning here; now is the time to prepare for what is coming in January through March. Those three months could be very difficult ones to endure as the economy bottoms out and the various new stimulus plans take awhile to get in place and moving. As counterproductive as it sounds; this is not the season to make your friendly neighborhood retailers too happy. Make sure you save something to get yourself through the upcoming difficult winter months before the thaw next spring.

06
Nov
08

The Sad Reality of American’s Priorities

I actually received an e-mail today from someone living down in the forgotten area of east Texas devastated by Ike 6 weeks ago. Yes, I mentioned the “I” word. Haven’t heard that name for awhile have you? That’s because, in one of the greatest travesties in America’s history, the victims of Ike have been totally forgotten and no help is making its way there.

Here is a comment made on a blog post of mine dealing with this very subject:

“I am from Orange, Texas, and this is the first website I have found who truly has spoken the truth about no help from FEMA. Flood waters were anywhere from 2-6 feet in people’s homes. They lost EVERYTHING, some had nothing but a frame left of their homes to come back to. My sister is disabled, lost her roof and everything in her modest little home was ruined, and we cannot find help. FEMA sent her $3,300.00 to replace what she lost; oh my GOD that won’t even begin to help replace everything she lost. The media does NOT show this around the country, as far as everyone is concerned Ike is over and people are going on with their lives happy and content. That is BS, it looks like a war zone around this area, and they turned trucks around?????????????

These people need food, clothing and above all building materials because it is so high the average low income or disabled person on social security cannot rebuild their lives, this is horrible in a wealthy country such as ours. And my God if anyone has a heart in this world if they could see it firsthand it would break their hearts. NOW a month later after IKE they are STILL waiting for assistance while their lives continue to rot and corrode from the salt water surge. You can drive through the neighborhoods worst hit and smell the rotting decaying lives of the poor people here and those were upper to middle classed people with fine furniture piled up 1–12 feet high on the curbs waiting for the trash people to come haul it off. Landfills pilled hundreds of feet high with the lives of people here. WHY, for God’s sake I ask, is the media NOT showing this? Everyone here does NOT drink wine and beer and party while sitting on their duffs waiting for some kind of help, most are truly devastated. WHERE do they find help to rebuild? You can email me at swtbreezie@yahoo.com . All I can say is God help these poor people. KATRINA is OVER these people that went through IKE need help now!”

Due to the combination of the election and the financial turmoil, no one in America has a clue there are these kinds of needs still abounding in the Ike devastated regions, but there are. The Orange, Texas area never got much media attention, even directly after the storm. Most of the coverage was devoted to Galveston and Houston. I don’t know if I ever saw any news reports from Orange.

In the past, small groups like my Heart2Heart SHARE would be able to solicit financial donations and resources to haul down to areas such as this. I no longer even try to do this because there is no interest and no one willing to step up and help. The general attitude of people has changed dramatically since Katrina and I am still trying to understand why.

Need is still need, whether in Orange, Texas or Louisiana or Mississippi or wherever. Somehow the preoccupation with the election has warped everyone’s minds and consciences to where there is not the desire to help anyone but one’s self. This is sad and is not the American way.

I would like to think that since the election is now over, things will change; but I know better. No one has any spare money for it has all been given to political campaigns or is being hoarded to pay bills. My heart breaks to know there is such need and so little available to help meet it. I wish I could do something besides write and pray, but that is all I can at the moment.

I do wish that if anyone reads this who can help, that they would contact the person mentioned above and offer some assistance. There are other similar messages wrapped up in comments on this and other blogs I have written about the Ike situation since it happened. I pray someone; somewhere is able to provide help for those who need it. That is my prayer and heartfelt desire and hope in writing this.