Thursday, December 31, 2009

America Shrugs- HealthCare- Obama's Crown Jewel.

By John Stallings

There is a knock at the front door.

Peeking through the window a mother sees a man & woman both in uniform. They are agents of health-care reform.

“Excuse me ma’am” says the man, “Our records show that your eleven-year old daughter hasn’t been immunized for genital warts.

“And your four year old still needs the chicken-pox vaccine” says the woman.

“He won’t be allowed to start kindergarten unless he gets that shot, you know” says the man—smiling from ear to ear.

“So can we please come in?” asks
the woman. “We have the vaccines right here,” she says, lifting up the medical bag. “We can give your kids the shots right now.”

Is this a scene from the over-heated imagination of a conspiracy theorist? Or does it actually exist in the health-care reform bill approved recently by the Senate?

The actual language in the bill says;--“Authorizes a demonstration program to improve immunization coverage. Under this program, CDC will provide grants to states to improve immunization coverage of children, adolescents and adults through the of evidence-based interventions that are recommended by the Community Preventive Services task force such as reminders or recalls for patients or providers or home visits.”

Can we say, “Forced immunization?”

Should ObamaCare pass, it will mean slavery to a system that won't look like anything we've ever seen. Freedoms are already being lost left right & center. In a nut-shell—No more private sector insurance.

Other than our spouse, family members, & maybe a few close friends, what other relationship do we have closer than with our family Doc? In the not too distant future, should the door on Obama’s ship slam shut with all of us inside, we’ll never see our doctor again, & in all probability we’ll never again see the same doc twice.

If a restaurant near your home started advertising free food & beverages, what do you suppose would happen? Right! There would immediately be constant lines at that restaurant stretching for blocks.

This would go on for a short time. What do you suppose would happen next? Right again. The restaurant would start rationing their food. They’d have to because of the overwhelming demand. People who weren’t even hungry would nonetheless stand in that line. Obviously now the restaurant would start turning people away. If they persisted in giving away food, they’d have to find outside financial support to help them pay for it.

I could go on with that analogy but I think you see my point.

Let's take a close look at what the Democrat Party has waiting in the wings should they be successful at ramming this socialized health care down our throats. Most of the physicians I've spoken to are opposed to UHC, for one reason because they don't want to become Government employees. They'd also like to keep the medical profession something they even recognize & want to continue to be rewarded both financially & intellectually.

From what I’m able to glean, the road to becoming a physician is one of the most demanding & expensive among all the professions. The cost of eight years of college, then three to six years in residency would leave them about $140,000 in debt. Of course what the medical student looks forward to is the appealing salary they’ll get someday to compensate for all the hard work & money spent. That perk or reality would disappear after the enactment of Universal Health Care.

What would immediately appear however would be a huge new tax burden hung around the necks of already jaded & tapped out American taxpayers. By the way--if Obama-care is signed into law, the tax consequence will begin April 15, 2010.

Doctors who now get frustrated working within the guidelines of Medicaid, Medicare & HMOs, would find ever increasing aggravations with the adoption of universal health care. The way doctors would be paid now; “single payer” would be set by the federal government & would be appreciatively lower than they currently receive. Everything in America that pertains to health care would be paid out of one huge pot, thus the name “single payer.”

Now the doctors would be answerable to a group of politicians & the freedom they had to practice medicine as an art/science, i.e. treat patients as individuals, would leave & have in its place federally mandated guidelines for certain procedures across the board. Now you have a group of highly trained doctors being forced to treat each patient the same even though they might feel certain patients would benefit from an alternative type of treatment. We’re talking about a “one size fits all” approach. But people are different & don’t respond the same to medicines & protocols.

Let’s go back to our restaurant illustration when all those people came looking for that free food, stifling the place. Likewise, under “free-health care” now people would be jamming every medical facility. Because there isn’t a fee, people who before would have thought twice about going to a doctor, now will visit the doctor with minor problems that really don’t require medical attention. So you have people being turned away & you also have longer waiting lists.

Personally I need no further proof of the aforementioned than the experience I’ve had as a minister. From time to time my particular denomination would seek to secure group insurance policies for its constituents but the coverage would generally be discontinued after a few months. Though a letter would be sent to the ministers not to start taking their families to doctors for things that weren’t serious, invariably they’d do it anyway; and this in a church group that believes strongly in divine healing. It’s just human nature.

In 2007, in Canada where they have “free health care” the average wait was 18.3 weeks for surgical treatment. In the U.S the wait is just a couple of weeks. Under universal health care, Doctors will lose the fulfillment of being able to help every sick or injured person & the order of the day would become summarily turning people away due to full schedules.

Many jobs in the U.S would be eliminated by the removal of the current insurance companies. In short, in this writer’s view, “free” universal health care would be a bad deal for all America.

Another downside to “free” health care would be that the government would make decisions for the patient & make rules that the patient must follow. For instance, under this plan, a man could be told to report for a prostate examination at 7: am on Monday morning or risk losing further care. A woman could be told when to report to have a mammogram & if she failed to show, her medical care could be affected.

My wife & I are with an HMO & though we’re happy with the plan, we’re pressured to have more & more tests & take medications we don’t want to take, & won’t. This would be but a small sample of what the face of “free” health care would look like. I realize it sounds harsh to say anything the government runs isn't done very well but I would invited the reader to drive around to the public housing areas or "projects" in their town & look them over. These are government run. Is that the way we want our health care to look?

There are stories coming out of the UK, who’ve long been on free health care, that smokers are told to quit smoking or surgery will be refused. I’m not a smoker but if a government can make rules against smokers, they can conceivably refuse health care to individuals who don’t eat at least five or six veggies a day or get from 20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.

“Die in Britain, survive in the U.S” was the cover article of the February 2005 issue of The Spectator, a British magazine in which James Bartholomew details the downside of Britain’s free health care system;

“Among women with breast cancer for example, there’s a 46% chance of dying in Britain vs. a 25% chance in the U.S. Britain has one of the worst survival rates in the advanced world, while Americas has the best.”

He continues, “If you’re a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, you have a 57% chance of it killing you in Britain. In the United States the chance drops to 19%.” Again, reports Bartholomew, “Britain is at the bottom of the class & America is at the top.”

Explains Bartholomew, “This is why those who are rich enough often to go to America, leaving behind even private health care. The reason for that is in America you’re more likely to be treated & further, you’re more likely to get better treatment.”

In America, if you’ve had a heart attack, you are given beta-blockers compared to fewer than one-third in Britain. Similarly, American patients are more likely than British patients to have a heart condition diagnosed with an angiogram, more likely to have an artery widened with angioplasty & more likely to get back on their feet by way of a by-pass.

“In the main, Britain’s universal health care system has evolved into a ramshackle structure where even having a test, beyond an x-ray tends to be a rare extravagant event,” writes Bartholomew. “In Britain 36% of patients have to wait more than four months for non-emergency surgery. In the U.S 5% do. In Britain, 40% of cancer patients do not see a cancer specialist.”

Bartholomew tells about a woman named Peggy, an American radiologist who went to Britain to meet her English boyfriend’s family. While she was there, her boyfriend’s father found blood in his urine & went to a local National Health Service hospital in which no CT scans or cystoscopy tests were done. The patient had asthma & lay in his hospital bed with breathing difficulties but still didn’t see a specialist. He was told it would take six weeks. Short of six weeks he was discharged from the hospital. Back home before his appointment with a consultant he died of an asthma attack.

Bartholomew reports that Peggy was “surprised at how ‘accepting’ her boyfriend’s family was.” “What we saw was an unexpected passivity, a lethal submissiveness to systemic incompetence & tragedy, a reaction that seemed poles apart from how things happen in the U.S.” She didn’t say too much because she didn’t want to come across as a pushy, arrogant American but she was thinking that “in America we’d go nuts if we were told we’d have to wait six weeks to see a specialist. Expectations are so much higher.”

As far as the elderly, [and some have suggested that age would start at around fifty] they can just forget it if UHC becomes law. Obama himself has said that-" those old people will have to be given pain pills instead of expensive medical procedures."-Check this out on youtube.

As a footnote on Canada, the average wait for a simple MRI is three months. In Manitoba the median wait for neurosurgery is 15.2 months. For chemotherapy in Saskatchewan patients can expect to be in line for 10 weeks. At last report 10,000 cancer patients who waited an average of two months for radiation treatment have filed a class action lawsuit against Quebec’s hospitals.

Anyone who has a heart will immediately think as I did; what about all those who can’t afford health care? Let’s take a look at the numbers we’re given.

We hear & read a good bit about the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance & anecdotal evidence usually accompanies the figure, dramatizing the tragedy. It’s implied if not bluntly stated that this denotes a scandalous shortcoming of our society, our government & our capitalist way of life. The message is – “these Americans are your friends & neighbors & they don’t have health care.”

But Census data shows that 9.5 million of the uninsured listed themselves as “Not a citizen”: they aren’t Americans. The number of uninsured now drops to 37.1 million, about 12% of the population. The Census data also shows that there are 8.3 million uninsured that make between $50,000 & $74,000 per year & 8.7 million who make more than $75,000 per year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance. Should we count those who can afford health insurance among the uninsured?

So 37.1 minus 8.7 minus 8.3 now leaves us with roughly 20 million people without health insurance which is approximately 7 % of the population, a far cry from the 16% we’ve been told by the socialized medicine lobby & the compliant media who are obviously too lazy to examine the facts.

The Kaiser Family Foundation which is frequently a source for the mainstream media says that Americans who don’t qualify for existing government programs & who make $50,000 a year total actually no more than 5% of our population. Also the number of uninsured American “floats” & 45% will be uninsured for only approximately four months.

This information begs the question; if all this be so, & universal health care has been an abysmal flop around the world, why would intelligent & conscientious politicians want to try it in the U.S? I won’t presume to have that answer in its entirety, but a couple of answers come to mind. Many politicians feel with a more centralized, omnipotent government things work better. It also militates toward a grand design of getting the people more & more under government control. The proponents of universal health care feel that it has yet to be done by the right people; i.e. –them.

When Mr. Obama talks about change, you can be sure what he's always had in mind was some incarnation of universal health care. This, if it happens will be a quantum leap for America toward the abyss of socialism. Mr. Obama seems genial enough but we knew from the get-go--he’s far, far Left.

It’s a well known fact among serious observers that a major reason communism shriveled up & died in Russia is that people quit working. The reason they quit working is hard work only pays off in a free-enterprise system. But as you probably know, in the last few years, they've moved back toward the free-market system. As a matter of fact more millionaires are now being produced in places like Russia, China & India than in America. This sounds hard to believe but motor-car companies like Rolls Royce, Bentley etc. report that the lions share of their sales are coming from what we used to think of as third world nations.

There’s an ocean of material on the internet about the pros & cons of so-called free universal health care so you need not take my word for anything. But consider this;

In Canada, while thousands of baby-boomers & the elderly wait for knee & hip replacement surgery, a dog can get a joint replacement operation at a veterinary hospital done in a matter of weeks.

But the real danger of adopting a system like the one in Canada & Britain is not just long waits for medical treatment. Americans would pay much higher taxes & lose important liberties while turning over personal, life-and-death decisions to government bureaucrats.

This article doesn’t presume to bore down particularly deep into the universal health care question because I'm obviously not an expert on the subject, but hopefully it will give some food for thought.

The ultimate question is; does it make sense to destroy, [though imperfect,] the best medical care the world has ever seen because 5 out of 100 don’t have adequate access to it?

THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS EVE-2009

On Christmas Eve of 2009, “Tracy Hermanstorfer went into cardiac arrest & stopped breathing during labor” said Dr. Stephanie, a maternal fetal medicine specialist’s at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs Colorado.

“She had no signs of life. No heartbeat, no blood pressure, she wasn’t breathing,” said Dr. Martin. “The baby was… it was basically limp, with a very slow heart rate.”

She said she couldn’t explain the mother’s cardiac arrest or recovery.

“We did a thorough evaluation & can’t find what explains what happened,” she said.

While one team worked on saving Mrs. Hermanstorfer, another team of medics set to work on the child.

Moments later Mike Hermanstorfer was stunned when he saw his son show signs show signs of life & learned his wife has inexplicably started breathing again.

“My legs went out from underneath me,” he said. “I had everything in the world taken from me, & in an hour & a half I had everything given me.”

Mr. Hermanstorfer credits “The hand of God.”

This was a miracle given to us in 2009. I wonder, would this have happened if ObamaCare was a legal bill?

When this mother was found with no pulse, heartbeat or any other sign of life, would a doctor have been quickly summoned & asked to establish the time of death? Would the “death-panels” have been consorted to decide if this woman & her baby would be denied life? Would a C section immediately be performed to save the child? I think we all know the answer to that question.

If you're getting anywhere close to mid-life & you feel UHC really doesn't involve you, & so you defer being pro-active in this effort because you can't see yourself needing things like cat-scans, MRIs, knee, hip or any joint replacements etc.- may God bless you & may you be correct in your assessment.

But if you see the dangers of all this, & you believe with the final passage of this unjust health care bill many of the freedoms will disappear that young men & women have fought & died to protect, & you just haven’t taken the time to write & call your representatives letting them know in no uncertain terms where you stand, I trust & pray you’ll reconsider & let your voice be heard.


Friend I have nothing to sell , I'm motivated by a firm conviction that this struggle is about so much more than "health care"....it's a battle for the soul & the future of this great republic.

If you & I work together & pray, God has promised to hear from heaven & heal our land.


Blessings,


John

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Getting Unstuck For A New Year

By John Stallings


In the movie, “Forest Gump” you may remember the part of the movie where Forest decides to go for a run.

He first runs to the end of the driveway. Then he runs into town. Then he runs to the county line & then he runs to the state line. Then he runs across half the United States to Santa Monica California.

Then Forest decides to turn around & run some more. This time he runs across the country to a lighthouse in Maine. He keeps running until people notice. He’s in the media, on magazine covers & starts to build a following. People start to run with him & follow him wherever he goes.

With a full beard & dirty, grungy clothes, Forest finds himself with a large number of followers who will go wherever he goes.

One day, Forest stops running. Standing in the middle of a road he speaks to his followers. They wait with bated breath for his words of wisdom. They lean toward him waiting for the words to fall from his lips.

Forest speaks like no man ever spoke before, sharing these words of unprecedented wisdom, I hope you’re sitting because this is big; Forest says, “I’m kind of tired. I think I’m gonna go home now.” He walks through his followers who part like the Red Sea.

Though the movie was first & foremost a comedy, I think, & certainly it was just a movie, there’s something here that rings a serious bell. You can’t help but feel sorry for these people following Forest, mostly because they have nothing better to do. They have no direction in their lives. These folk put their faith & hope in Forest & he has nothing to offer them.

WE HAVE A GUIDE

As we embark on the year 2010, we aren’t like the people in the movie Forest Gump, - so empty, - so lost -that we would follow someone who’s going nowhere in particular. Forest had a good heart, but really had no clue where he was going & why.

We’re told in scripture & we know experientially that the Holy Spirit who resides within us will Guide us into all truth. We have God, His Son Jesus & The Holy Spirit to fill our lives with meaning & give us guidance.

STUCK

The greatest challenge of the coming New Year will be letting go of the past in order to grasp a new future. It’s not as easy as it sounds because we as human beings have a way of getting stuck. Many people find that though they want passionately to believe things can be different , a new beginning always seems to move just out of reach. They find themselves slipping back into the bondage of the past.

In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul said….but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind & reaching forth for those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

If you saw the movie Groundhog Day; you have a perfect example of a man who’s stuck, living the same day over & over. I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t, or hasn;'t been stuck. Maybe our “stuckness” centers on a tangible such as buying, eating, drinking, drugging, worrying, fretting, gambling, risks, sex, love, books, movies, television, ideas, work, or power. Or maybe what we’re experiencing is a general malaise or vertigo that we can’t put our finger on.

Being stuck is sort of a twilight zone of sameness with no seeming ability to affect any kind of change. We yearn for new vistas but seem to be fresh out of ideas as to how and where to find them. We look down the road and see no chance of anything but more of the same. We all know what it’s like to be in a car that’s stuck, either in snow, sand or mud, but this is worse. It’s the realization that we’re not moving forward, and we feel paralyzed. There are projects we know we need to start or finish, but we’re seemingly trapped and frozen in place.


Few of us will grow in our Christian lives in a steady, gradual, upward slope from birth to death. Granted there will be seasons of seemingly effortless growth but there will also be seasons where we somehow get “stuck” at one level and can’t “break out” to the next level.
Something’s getting in the way!

It's my contention that part of what impedes our personal and spiritual growth are the "stuck" places in our life. There are varieties of reasons we get stuck but whatever they might be, our personal growth diminishes the longer we remain stuck. We can get stuck in our past, in our pain, in our problems, in our perspectives or in our life patterns.

I get stuck sometimes, don’t you? It is not usually an absence of options, but a plethora of them. One gets stuck in the process of choosing & then shuts down.

We can sometimes get stymied. That implies being thwarted by some outside force. Certainly outside forces influence us negatively or positively, but the reality is that most of the stymieing comes from within. We are afraid. We are afraid of the shame, embarrassment, & disappointment that failure will bring & the increased responsibility of success. Therefore, we are timid, tenuous, and terrorized by fear of the decisions we might make or actions we might take. After all, we might make a mistake. We might produce mediocre work. We might open a can of worms. Our "mights take away our might.”

Maybe a large challenge comes up, -we get discouraged & we freeze. We put our plans on hold & break our pattern of discipline.

Sometimes “being stuck” is a signal that something has gone wrong; somehow we’ve missed it, and we’re terribly off course. This is not always the case; as a matter of fact, feeling stuck is a condition that can be good for us. For one thing, a prime prerequisite for getting unstuck is to be stuck. When we’re stuck, we’ve lost our momentum and are forced, at least temporarily, to stop and assess our lives.

Feeling stuck acts as an inward summons or call. We face the fact that we are dissatisfied with where we are. We see the utter futility of our situation, and, if we are wise, we reach for another level to satisfy the desire for change. At that point, we are reaching for that which really satisfies, and, in so doing, we are calling out for God. So that’s why I say that being stuck isn’t really a bad thing. What has happened is, because of the stuck feelings, we have begun to readjust our lives, looking for a clearer perspective. In a way we are calling out, “What’s next for me, God?

PEOPLE GET STUCK IN THE PAST

Some people live in the past and seem to revel in the hurts of yesterday. They won’t shake loose from their past failures or calamities because, to them, the past is more important than the present. When you talk to them, you quickly see they are totally caught up with & committed to keeping the past more real than the present. They are stuck. What decade was it that Ronnie Millsap was lost in? Was it the sixties? I liked the song but always forget the decade. Oh well, it matters not; the important things is he was stuck.

In John 5, Jesus saw a man sitting beside the pool of Bethesda. He had been sitting there for thirty-eight years, trying to be first into the water after it was troubled by the angel. Jesus came along and heard the man’s story and immediately saw that he was stuck. I would say that thirty-eight years of sitting in the same spot, whining about the same problem is really being stuck. It didn’t cross the man’s mind that there was another way. When Jesus was able to get him to quit worrying about his past defeats and disappointments & look to Him, the man was healed, & he carried his bed away.

WE CAN GET STUCK IN OLD PATTERNS AND HABITS.

It’s not hard to develop bad habits (sometimes sinful), but more often people are just bogged in ruts. Some give up, figuring they can’t change, so why try? Perhaps because of resentment or a negative thought pattern they’ve been in so long, they think their situation could never change. Perhaps they’ve come to believe their lot in life is already static, & nothing can ever be different.

MAYBE YOU’RE STUCK FINANCIALLY OR WITH SOME OTHER PHYSICAL NEED.

In John 2, Jesus attended a wedding in Cana of Galilee, & they had run out of wine. The people were stuck with no libation, & obviously it put the wedding planners in a bit of an embarrassing spot. They were stuck with no wine. Though Jesus’ time had not yet come to do miracles, He responded to the need & performed His first miracle by turning water into wine. When we are stuck financially, emotionally, or in any other way, we should immediately turn to Jesus, knowing He’ll always be responsive to our needs.

YOU MAY BE STUCK WITH A FALSE ASSUMPTION

In Joel 2:23-32, the prophet speaks to a people who are stuck in despair, feeling things will never get better. He tells them to look up and be glad for God is going to do great things for them. They have a great future if they’ll rise up and take hold of it by faith.

He says in verse 25,--And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. 26And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. 27And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

In I Kings 17 we read the story of Elijah being sent to the home of the widow of Zarephath. A famine was in progress, & the only thing she had was just enough meal to make a cake for herself & her son, then die of slow starvation. This poor little widow woman was indeed stuck. Elijah asked her to make him a little cake first, and at that point she had a choice. She could believe the word of the man of God or do it her way, & no doubt die. When she opted to obey, she was given a miracle supply of oil & meal that lasted for many days. When things are going bad & we are stuck in some situation or other, we should always listen for Gods voice. He’ll have a plan to get us unstuck. [He has a fleet of spiritual tow-trucks that can be on your case before you can say “Gesundheit”.] The only thing the widow had to do was exercise obedience, & her need was met. To get unstuck, you & I will often have to make that same choice--to obey God.

SOMETIMES BEING STUCK IS JUST PURE PROCRASTINATION.

We develop a habit of putting things off until it finally turns into resistance to tasks that are unpleasant to us. Though we don’t enjoy thinking about it, sometimes we can become stubborn, which started as a childhood-survival technique we may have developed to ward off controlling people. We learned early that we can resist certain things, & people can do nothing but accept our resistance. Perhaps we even enjoyed seeing how it frustrated others when we used those powers of resistance. This may have worked as a child, but it isn’t necessary now, and if we don’t recognize what’s happening, it can be a tool of the devil to sabotage our motivation. Now it translates to pure, old, mule-headed stubbornness, keeping us from the changes we should make.

MAYBE WE ARE STUCK BECAUSE WE ARE RESISTING CHANGE.

Are you stuck at the beginning of the great New Year, 2010? HERE ARE A FEW HELPFUL HINTS FOR GETTING UNSTUCK.

1. Look at your situation realistically. Does anything in the aforementioned apply? Ask God to help you see what’s really stopping your progress.

2. Look for the bottlenecks in your situation & address them.

3. Develop a “what’s next” mentality. God will show you His will if you seek Him.

4. Don’t hesitate to go to people you respect & enlist their prayers & advice. Don’t forget to seek God.

5. When you get temporarily stuck on a project, walk away for a while, & you’ll come back to it with a new perspective. But do come back.

6. Home run king, Henry Aaron, had this advice: In a slump, keep swinging.

7. Help others with their problems, & yours will seem smaller.

8. Take care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, & physically.

9. Start each day with God’s Word & a prayer for guidance.

LET ME GIVE YOU A LIST OF IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

1. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you’ll ask God to do for you this coming year?

2. What’s the single most important thing you need to happen to improve the spiritual quality of your family?

3. What spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress in & what will you do about it?

4. What’s the biggest time-waster in your life & what will you do about it in the coming year?

5. For whose salvation will you most fervently pray in the coming year?

6. How could you improve your prayer life in 2010?

7. What will you do in 2010 that will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?

8. What will you do differently by God’s grace this coming year?

9. What’s the most important decision you need to make in 2010?

10. What area of your life needs simplifying & how will you do it?

11. What important need do you feel burdened to meet in 2010?

12. What habit would you like to establish in 2010?

13. Who do you most want to encourage this year?

14. What’s the most important financial goal you need to meet & how will you go about doing it?

15. How can you improve the quality of your work life?

16. What will you endeavor to do to bless your pastor or others who minister to you?

17. What book in addition to the bible do you want to read?

18. What’s your biggest regret of 2009 & what will you do about it in 2010?

19. What important trip would you want to take this year?

20. What skill do you want to learn or improve?

21. To what need or ministry will you give to in an unprecedented way in 2010?

22. What biblical doctrine do you want to better understand?

23. If those who know you best gave you advice, what advice would that be?

24. Would they be right?

25. What will you do about it?


You are looking for ways to make progress in your life. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have read these little tips by such a non-expert as I.

If we keep reaching, the best is yet to come.

In Saskatchewan there’s a sign by the side of a muddy road which reads:


CHOOSE YOUR RUT CAREFULLY, YOU’LL BE IN IT A LONG TIME.


Happy New Year,


Blessings,


John

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Dreaming Of a RIGHT Christmas

By John Stallings



A pastor worked in his study all through Christmas Eve preparing for the Christmas morning service.

Being very tired he dozed off & dreamt of a world to which the Savior had never come. In his dream he was looking around his home but there were no Christmas decorations, no candles or Christmas wreaths.

He walked into his study & thumbed through his library but found no books about Jesus, & the Bible he found ended at Malachi. He noticed that the last words of the Bible were, LEST I COME & SMITE THE EARTH WITH A CURSE. He walked out unto the streets & found no church spires pointing heavenward.

He went back inside & a knock on the door brought a request to visit a dying mother. He went to her bedside but could find no comforting scriptures, for the gospels were not there. Paul’s comforting letters that included passages about life beyond the grave were missing. There was no promise beyond the grave. Even John’s book of Revelation was not there.

He could only bow his head & weep in hopeless desperation. Two days later he stood by the mother’s grave & conducted her burial but he could give no word of changed hearts & glorious resurrections, only, “ashes to ashes & dust to dust.” It was just one long, last, final farewell.

Suddenly nearby music awoke him from his sleep & he was sobbing uncontrollably. He realized he was hearing his own church choir in the sanctuary next door practicing for their Christmas service & singing “Oh come let us adore Him.” The fact was, Jesus had come & His coming had split history in two, giving hope for eternal life to all who trust in Him.

WHAT WOULD A WORLD WITHOUT CHRIST LOOK LIKE?

Had Christ not come we’d have no New Testament, no gospel, no church, no Lord’s Day, no repentance, no forgiveness of sins, no changed & transformed hearts & lives & no hope of His eternal presence.

The angel wouldn’t have told Mary, -With God nothing is impossible.

The angels wouldn’t have sung to the shepherds, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men.

One of my favorite secular Christmas songs has always been Ervin Berlin’s White Christmas. Though it’s always been a dream of mine, I can’t say that I ever experienced a white Christmas. In the last few years that dream has faded & been replaced with the desire to celebrate each year, a Right Christmas.

What does a right Christmas look like?

A RIGHT CHRISTMAS IS BEAUTIFULLY SIMPLE & SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL.

Have you ever tried to explain the real meaning of Christmas to a child? It isn’t easy. There is so much tradition mixed up with spiritual truth that it’s sometimes hard to tell Jesus from Santa Claus & the Wise men from the snowmen.

The very young have puzzled looks on their faces as they try to sort it all out. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight….Christmas is baby Jesus’ birthday, but I get the presents?” They end up thinking;-“Is this a great religion or what?”

THE MOST NEGLECTED CHRISTMAS VERSE OF ALL

There is one verse that for me sums up the real meaning of Christmas better than any verse in the Bible. Within this short verse we find the answer to the question, what is the right attitude about Christmas & --What is a right Christmas?

And here is the verse---11 Corinthians 8:9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Let’s examine this verse for in it I believe we find the essence of a right attitude toward Christmas.

A. HE WAS RICH

I read last week that Wal-Mart is the richest & most successful business that’s ever existed on planet earth. My computer even knows who Wal-mart is because it just corrected my spelling of the name.

This brings up a question in my mind: “Why don’t we let Wal-mart bail out General Motors?” But I digress. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-mart was a “rich-en.” He was among the group of old boys who would light their cigars with a hundred dollar bill. The average rich ride first class. The medium rich charter a jet. The super rich own the jet. The incredibly rich own the airline.

But Jesus Christ owns the skies. The Bible says---HE WAS RICH! This is speaking of what He had in heaven before He came to earth. You can take the richest men who ever lived, the most powerful rulers who ever lived, the wisest men who ever lived, the mightiest generals who ever lived, the strongest athletes in every sport, the most spell-binding orators, the greatest political leaders & any other great men on earth, calculate their wealth…power…skill…genius…wisdom…insight…& ability. Whatever that vast sum comes to, Jesus had more in heaven. No man or collection of men could touch Him. The pre-existent Jesus Christ wasn’t a pauper but a man who lived in glorious untold splendor.

He Was Rich!!

B. HE BECAME POOR

When you & I celebrate a right Christmas we keep in mind the lowly baby Jesus who became poor. Exactly what does that mean? He was rich in eternity but He became poor when He moved into time. He left heaven for a remote village in a forgotten province, to join a despised race, to be born of an obscure teenage peasant girl in a stable, wrapped in rags & placed in a feeding-trough instead of a crib.

But Jesus didn’t act “high & mighty.” He knew it all but wasn’t a “know it all.” He owned all the stuff but never did “strut His stuff.” He wasn’t a “name-dropper.” He wasn’t a showoff. He never asked people, “Want me to beam you into the 21st century?” Jesus could have constantly been saying things like, “I’ve got some property on Jupiter.” But Jesus’ purpose wasn’t to show-off but to show-up. Jesus was holding the entire Universe together but you couldn’t tell it by watching or listening to Him. He wasn’t like that.

Here is the creator of the universe who looked no different than the guy down the street. Jesus became poor & pitched His tent among us for a while. He didn’t Lord it over us but loved us so much He was willing to die for us. He wasn’t on an ego trip he was on a rescue mission. A right Christmas is one that remembers that we are something special to God.

Notice that Jesus became poor. You & I are made poor by circumstances but Jesus of His own free will became poor. The man who was richer than any man has ever been gave it up freely & became poorer than any man has ever been.

If we have a right Christmas we’ll be remembering that the heart of it all, the heart of the gospel is that the richest person in the universe of His own free will became poorer than the poor.

I love the story of the atheist who would never go to church with his Christian family. One Christmas season, his wife & children were readying themselves to go to Sunday morning service & pleaded with him to go just this once. It was a special Christmas service & there’d be beautiful music.

The unbelieving man refused to go, as usual, telling his family it would just be a waste of time for him that Christmas was just a silly old tradition about a man who never really existed.

The family left for church leaving the father sitting in his recliner near a large picture window that overlooked a big back yard. It was snowing & the sight of the flakes building up on the barn behind the house was breathtaking. He thought how much it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Then something happened that almost startled him out of his chair. A flock of about twenty birds, not seeing the glass window, flew right into it, leaving several of them wounded & flapping around on the ground. The man, pitying the poor birds slowly got up & walked toward the window to get a better look. He stood & watched the birds slowly regain their composure & then begin to wander around the backyard in a state of confusion. He went & dressed & got some bread from the kitchen thinking he’d try to feed the birds if they’d allow him to get close enough.

His worst fears were realized when he approached the dazed & confused birds when they fluttered away, seeing every move he made as a threat to them. This went on for quite some time & the man finally had an idea. If he could open the big barn doors, & get the nearly frozen birds to go in they could have shelter from the blistering winds & maybe live to fly again.

The man slowly moved across the barnyard & opened the doors, placing the bread crumbs on the ground hoping the birds natural survival instinct would kick in. The man tried every trick he could think of to get those disoriented birds to see that life was within their reach just a few feet away, but the birds stubbornly refused to co-operate.

Finally the man, not able to stand the bitter cold had to give up & go back inside to warm himself. As he stood at the window & watched the birds, still wandering aimlessly around the yard, the thought came to him; there was only one way he could ever hope to get those birds to go into the barn, but it wasn’t within his power to do it.

The only way the birds could be saved was if he himself could become a bird, join the little flock & lead them into the safety of the barn.

When his family returned from church, the man shared the experience with them. Through that visual experience with the birds God had shown him the meaning of Christmas. Bethlehem was about God wrapping himself in human flesh & becoming a man. He entered the human race & became poor like us so that we would hear Him saying, “I love you.” Immanuel—God with us.

C. THAT WE MIGHT BECOME RICH

Here is “The right Christmas” message,—Jesus became poor so that we who were poor might become rich. Think abut that. All the riches & grace of God is available to me by virtue of my relationship with Jesus Christ. All the power & all the right standing with God are mine through Him.

You may say, “You don’t deserve that.” Indeed I don’t but that’s the grace of our Lord Jesus. If I deserved it I wouldn’t need Jesus, but through my relationship with Him suddenly I’m a rich man.

The theologians have a word for it. They call it the doctrine of imputation. He takes my sin & I take His righteousness. That’s grace by association.

Do you remember the wedding of Lady Diana & Prince Charles? We saw a T.V movie about it recently. Diana didn’t exactly come from poverty but compared to the royal family, her family was poor. But now, by virtue of her marriage to Prince Charles, all the wealth, all the prestige, all the power, all the pomp & glory of the royal family belong to her. Once she was an outsider; now she has access to the Queen. Did she earn such a lofty standing? No. It was imputed to her by virtue of her relationship to Prince Charles. Imputed honor- imputed wealth -& imputed standing.

What do you call a poor girl who marries a prince? You call her “Your Highness.”

So it is that when we came to Jesus we were spiritual paupers. Our hands were empty & our pockets were bare. We had nothing to offer & no claim to make. All our lives it had been, one step forward & two steps back but when we came to Him, we were fed, clothed, filled, forgiven, & crowned with every good thing.

Jesus took away our rags & placed around us His own righteousness. Everything that was against us was gone & everything we lacked we now have. All this happened because of Christmas. He who was rich became poor for my sake, that through His poverty I might be rich.

The Son of God became a son of man in order that the sons of men might become the sons of God.

Again, what is a right Christmas?

A—He was rich

B---He became poor

C---That we might become rich

And that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

Only one thing remains. Have you found the Christ of Christmas & asked Him to be your Savior? Have you placed your trust in Him? Have you given up your spiritual poverty for the riches He offers to you?

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” I love this verse;

How silently, how silently

This wondrous gift was giv’n

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessing of His heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming,

But in the world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still,

The dear Christ enters in.

And so He does! May that be our experience as we all enjoy,

A RIGHT CHRISTMAS!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Blessings,


John

Friday, December 11, 2009

Talkers-Dreamers-Wishers-Dabblers-& Doers

By John Stallings



There are five types of people you’ll find in every area of life. They are in business, education, & even the Church. Only one of these types ever really accomplishes anything, & it certainly isn’t the;

1. Talkers

Talkers gab & blab. They are always talking about what they are going to do but never do anything. These folk have the ability to get people excited. They have the gift of gab. The gift of yada-yada-yada. They can charm the birds down out of the trees with their chatter.

I have met these talkers as a pastor. They come into a church & know just exactly how to present themselves. They seem to know just what you want to hear. They will talk & as they talk they’ll use exaggerated hand motions to paint you a picture of what they will do & help you to do. The problem with these folk is they are all “talky- talky- talky & no walky- walky -walky.” They will get you all excited & leave you hanging.

Talkers usually end up bouncing from church to church because they know people will finally catch on to their yada-yada & stop listening.

I learned the hard way about talkers as a young pastor. In my first church I allowed a man I hardly knew & was new to the church to influence me to add another weekly prayer meeting, one he suggested should be an “all-nighter.” Being inexperienced I felt it would look “nonspiritual” if I declined & some of the faithful members agreed to try it. Can you imagine our surprise when we learned that this man who had the idea wasn’t going to be present at any of them; He was too busy? But he was certain still the all night prayer meetings were the answer for our church.

A little checking on my part revealed that this man had misrepresented his past & his life had been a series of one flop after another. Out of twenty years of a so called Christian life, he’d spent half of it in jail & the other half running from town to town presenting himself as something he most definitely wasn’t.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not against all night prayer meetings but after that experience my question to an individual who suggests we add another night to an already crowded weekly schedule is- “where were you ten or twenty years ago when the people of the church were praying & interceding for the lost?” Usually the truth is they were out sowing wild oats & living like the devil while the people of the church had been faithfully serving God.

These folk are just talkers & nine times out of ten they won’t be around for more than a month anyway. But you can be sure they’ll be somewhere else giving their yada-yada to someone. The prophet Hosea calls these people “morning clouds” that appear for a little while & then poof, they are no longer visible.

Next we have the,

2. Dreamers.

I don’t want to be too hard on dreamers because people need their dreams. However, too many dreamers read books, go to seminars, take notes, write mission statements, write out goals & “pray about it” but they never carry through. They never cut a rut from a plan to a practice, from a list to a living ministry. Dreamers are always dreaming but never able to live out their dreams. When I was a kid I used to want to be a cowboy; to be exact, a singing cowboy. I spent many hours of my days dreaming about being like Gene or Roy.

There is one kind of dreaming that’s very powerful so long as a certain ingredient isn’t missing. Let me explain. I suppose my cowboy dreams were normal but at some point I had to lay those childlike dreams aside & dream for my real future.

When I was growing up, since my dad was a pastor we usually lived next to the church. Starting at about age fourteen, a few times a week I’d go over to the church, lock the door & get up behind the pulpit with my guitar & act like I was in an actual service. I’d open “the service” with prayer. Then I’d say, “Now I’d like to sing you a song I wrote.” Then I’d proceed to sing a song, but not one I wrote, because I hadn’t as yet written any songs. I was day-dreaming. Then I’d sing one or two more songs “I wrote.” I wanted to be a songwriter so bad I could taste it. When I finished with the music portion of the service, I’d open the Bible & start preaching to my imaginary audience. Well, I wouldn’t exactly preach, I’d read a little bit & then I’d holler. I’d read a little bit more & holler. It seemed to me that’s what my dad did as well as all the other preachers I’d heard; they’d read & holler. Then I’d close my imaginary service, slip out the side door & go home, hoping no one was the wiser.

If you came to one of my services today, over fifty years later, in all probability here’s what you’d see & hear; I’d get up & welcome the people & sing a song or two that I wrote. But these songs would be songs I actually did write, because now I have some songs of my own. Then I’d open my Bible & read a few scriptures, expound on them & there would be several spots that I’d raise my voice to emphasize a point. I do in reality what that teenager envisioned so long ago.

But if I’d never gotten out of the dreaming stage, if I’d never started getting up in front a real audience, all the practicing & all the secret dreaming wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere.

So I think I can say all my boyhood dreams came true. Dreaming is a powerful & necessary thing but dreaming alone isn’t enough. An individual must make the effort & be willing to work & do all necessary to bring those dreams into fruition. Then we have the,

3. Wishers.

These people wish things would change all by themselves but they won’t act to change them. They wish they had a better prayer life. They wish they knew the Bible better. They wish they could get to church more often. They wish they had a better devotional life, but never open their Bibles between visits to church. If all these people blew the dust off their Bibles at the same time, we’d all choke to death in a dust-storm. They wish the church had more money to reach out to the lost but they never give any. If wishes were horses beggars would ride.

I heard a story about a preacher who got up in his church & said, “This church is on its knees now, but I can see this church rising.” All the people said amen. Then he said, “This church is not only gonna rise, this crawling church is gonna walk.” Everyone said amen. Then he said “This church isn’t only gonna walk this church is gonna run.” You guessed it, everyone shouted amen. Then the preacher said, “Brothers & sisters, God has shown me that if we’ll all start being liberal with our tithes & offerings, this church someday very soon is gonna fly.” Then everything got real quiet & one man on the backseat said, “Let her crawl brother, let her crawl.” Next come the,

4. Dabblers.

Dabblers love the feeling of starting a new project but they never finish anything. Dabblers get bored easily. They shine one shoe & leave the other not shined. Dabblers often leave a wave of disappointment behind them. They dabble a little here & they dabble a little there but never bring anything to completion. There are far too many Christians who dabble at serving God.

God is a finisher. He finished creating the earth. Jesus hung on the cross & said “It is finished.” He didn’t as some supposed on that day say, “I am finished.” He said “It is finished.” He said the great plan of God that was established before the foundations of the earth were laid- was finished. Too many people have exchanged the word finished for the words, “I’m through.” I’m through with that church.” I’m through with this marriage.” “I’m through with school.” They are always getting through with things but never finishing them. One meaning of the word finish is- “bringing to perfection.”

When the carpenters are through with a house they bring in the finishers. The finishers put the Crown molding around the edges & corners of the rooms. They hang the doors & make sure they are well balanced & open & close smoothly. A house left “unfinished” would be a rather ugly house even though it had four walls & a roof. Many people in high society send their young women to “finishing school.” There they learn the finer points of being a lady so they can later be at ease & poised in the circles they’re expected to move in.

We can never be truly successful if all we do is dabble. To be successful at anything, we must put our all into it, for one thing is certain, we’ll only get out of an enterprise what we put in it. My mother wanted me to learn to play the piano & was willing to pay for me to learn but I can’t play the piano today because all I wanted to do was dabble & play chopsticks. I suspect I’m not alone in that.

The only accomplishers in this world are the;

5. DOERS.

Doers make things happen. Doers don’t just wish things would happen. They don’t dream & talk about it. Doers aren’t dabblers. They actually get things done. Doers are daring. They are movers & shakers. Doers build churches. Doers build businesses. Doers are the ones with the testimonies. No church, business or enterprise has ever gotten off the ground without a few doers. We will always have more than enough of the others but we must “Be doers of the Word not just hearers.”

Doers don’t go by their feelings. I read an article somewhere that said “80% of the world’s work is done by people who aren’t feeling well.” That didn’t really surprise me. Many people will sit & wait until the “mood” strikes them before they’ll move on a project. They have to have a certain feeling but the problem is the feeling seldom comes. As I read the article, I thought, you know, I’ll bet the man who wrote that it wasn’t feeling well when he wrote it. And it wouldn’t surprise me if some who read this article won’t be feeling all that great as they read it. As I think about it, I’m not feeling all that great as I’m writing it. But what do our feelings have to do with anything? Can we allow feelings to rule us when they can change overnight for no apparent reason? I’m sure you’ve learned by now that if you’re going to get anything done you must put your feelings on the back burner & go to work because feelings will fall in line as we move. It was William James who said, “We don’t feel our way to a different way of acting, we act our way to a different way of feeling.”

Do you want me to tell you how the shake off depression? Get up & start doing something. Now if you have some sort of clinical depression & are being treated for it, that’s between you & your doctor. However, I’ll bet he’ll tell you you’re better off doing than just sitting. If you wake up depressed, tell depression you’re going to work & you’ll take the depression with you. Chances are great that you’ll leave depression behind as soon as you start moving.

There is so much in the Bible about DOING! James tells us; ---“Draw nigh to God & He’ll draw nigh to you.” He also told us—“Faith without works is dead, being alone.” One of my favorite verses of scripture is Daniel 11:32….But the people that do know their God shall be strong & do exploits.”

If you want to do something special with your life, resolve with me to stand up on your feet & get moving!

As Todd Beamer said, one of the passengers on the ill-fated airliner that crashed in a Pennsylvania field, on 9/11/01, trying to take back the hi-jacked plane & thwarting the plans of the terrorists, "Let’s Roll!"


Let’s be "doers of the Word" & works of God.


Blessings,


John