Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yesterday's Christmas

            A Sunday afternoon stroll through the local shopping mall revealed the dearth of Christmas decorations.  Only two businesses displayed signs in their storefronts that mentioned Christmas. In one, a sign read, “We have your Christmas shopping needs” and in the other store were two small pictures of wreaths encircling the words, “Merry Christmas.”  What a letdown.  I expected to see people enjoying the season as they shopped, but there was little to distinguish that day from any other. 
            How times have changed.  The Christmas season in America during my childhood, was a somewhat magical time, when a shopping trip to downtown Tulsa was equivalent to a trip to Disneyland, in later years.  Bus and trolley drivers greeted people with “Merry Christmas” as did elevator operators, and every department store clerk.  Store windows were decorated with fake snow and holly.  Inside, the stores were decorated with every conceivable decoration and ornament.  Frequently, the store employees were dressed as Santa’s helpers.  Huge Christmas trees were normally located near the toy departments and children would stand in line to sit on Santa’s lap, or in his sleigh.  Parents, grandparents and strangers alike were filled with contagious joy as they watched happy children. 
In those days, the Savior and His birth were not forgotten, or hidden in fear of reprisal.  Manger scenes, ranging from miniature to life sized, were prominently displayed.  Often, people stopped to survey the scenes, perhaps, pondering the impact of that first Christmas, or perhaps, praying, while others passed without giving a glance, unbothered by the religious thoughts of others. 
The atmosphere and experiences of those long departed days, promoted what was called the “Christmas spirit” of joy, peace, and goodwill that clears the human mind and refreshes the soul.  It was a time in our history when Americans came together regardless of their faith, or lack of faith, to enjoy the season.  It was a time for peace and goodwill toward all people.  Even warring armies laid down their weapons on Christmas.  It was a festive time, as birthdays should be, especially the birthday of The King.

Jim

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Proper Response to the Birth of Christ - Lk 2:1-20

Several years ago, the news services carried a story that told of a department store Santa Claus in one of our big cities, who was attacked by the children he had been hired to entertain.  
It seems the crowd was much larger than expected and he ran out of candy to distribute among the children.  Those who did not receive treats began screaming, some even cursing, and several even went so far as to kick the department store Santa in the shins, while their parents watched with tacit approval.
          What does this indicate about our society?  Are Americans so caught in the materialism of the season that we have raised a generation of children who see Christmas solely as a time when they can expect, even demand, that they be given something?  Hopefully, not!  Hopefully, this was and will forever be an isolated incident.  But at the same time, perhaps this story indicates how these particular children and the parents who condoned their behavior view Christmas.
          Clearly, they are missing the Christmas spirit and more than likely they are missing it because they are missing the Savior, as so many people do each Christmas, and one wonders how these people would respond to the birth of the Savior had they been there that first Christmas, some two thousand years ago.
          Today, as on that first Christmas, there are different responses to the announcement that a Savior is born, and as we look at some of the different responses revealed in Scripture, we need to ask ourselves, “What is my response to the birth of Christ?” 

I.  Mary’s Response


Mary’s initial response was one of disbelief.  In Luke 1:34, she is quoted as saying, “How can this be since I do not know a man?” 
Surely, this is her reason for not believing.  Mary knew she was a virgin and she simply did not believe that she could have a baby.  In other words, Mary did not initially believe the virgin birth.  This is the initial response of most people when they learn about the virgin birth of Christ.
Talk about Jesus being born King of kings and Lord of lords and people may listen.
Talk about Jesus being born Savior of the world and people may listen.
Tell people that Jesus was born of a virgin and their response is normally the same as Mary’s, they do not believe it.
But we must believe it, for it is His virgin birth that sets Jesus apart from the rest of humanity and makes Him unique among all who have ever been born. 
We know the sin that resides in the flesh is passed from generation to generation through the fathers, meaning, a human father would make Jesus a born sinner, as are all other people.  Therefore, to take away the virgin birth of Christ is to take away His sinlessness, His deity, and to reduce Him to a mere mortal, no better, no worse, than the rest of us.  And if this is true, we are dead in our sins and there is no hope of salvation because Jesus cannot possibly be our Savior.  But it is not true. 
Jesus was born of a virgin and His Father is God.  Therefore, Jesus was not born with the fleshly desire for sin.  He had no sins of His own, so that He could take our sins on His own body and die in our place, to pay our penalty.
It is not unusual to initially respond to the virgin birth of Christ with disbelief, but this response is deadly, and the consequences are eternal for the person whose mind never changes.  Mary quickly changed her mind and believed fully in the virgin birth.  She knew with certainty that Jesus was born of a virgin, just as everyone must, if they are to trust Him as Savior.

II.  Joseph’s response

 

We read in Matthew 1:18-21,

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:  After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.  But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 

Joseph’s initial response to the birth of Christ was fear.  The angel clearly said to Joseph, “Do not be afraid,” and it is safe to say this indicates Joseph was afraid.
Surely, the thing bothering Joseph was that Mary was going to have a baby before they consummated their marriage, and while Joseph was a just man, knowing he must deal with this situation, he was also a man of compassion because he planned to put Mary away, that is divorce her, secretly.
Viewed through the eyes of contemporary American society, Mary being pregnant out of wedlock is no big deal, but in Joseph’s day it was a very big deal. 
Then as now, if an unmarried woman is found to be with child, there are really only two possible conclusions.  Either, she consented to that which caused her condition, or she was forced to that which caused her condition. 
Under the Law of Moses, if she consented, she was to be stoned.  On the other hand, if she was forced, the man who forced her was to be stoned.  So, we might say that Joseph was between a rock and a hard spot.  He knew he was not the father, and not only was his heart aching because he felt betrayed, he knew if Mary’s secret was revealed, one of them might be punished by stoning.  Do not doubt for a moment that Joseph was afraid.
Fear is a common response to Christ.  When a person truly recognizes that Jesus the Christ is Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit is drawing that person to come to Jesus in one great response of faith, in Jesus alone, for salvation—fear enters.
First, there is the fear that coming to Jesus will take all the fun out of life.  Too often, there is the idea that Christianity is for older people or for people that have no ambitions in life.  People often tell themselves that when they get older they will think about Jesus, but right now they have a lot of living to do.  But Jesus was not born to destroy our quality of life, the Bible says, He came so we might have life and have it more abundantly.
Then there is the fear that family and friends will think we are foolish, or that we are a wimps, or that they will desert us and we will be alone.
Several years ago there was a fire in a hotel casino in Puerto Rico.  One account tells of a woman who smelled smoke and warned her friends to go outside until they discovered the source.  Because her friends did not smell smoke, and because they were having a good time at the gambling tables, they laughed at the woman and told her she was imagining things.
At first, the woman sat at a table, embarrassed that she had spoken.  But again, she caught the faint odor of smoke and this time she walked from the building without her friends.  She barely cleared the outer doors when an explosion engulfed the casino in flames.  Had she listened to her friends, she too, would have been killed.
Fear of what others will think can sometimes have deadly consequences.  Mankind’s response to Jesus should be faith, not fear.

III.  The Innkeeper’s Response


“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
One of the most frequent complaints these days is the lack of time.  Many people are so busy that time, traditionally set aside for church and God, is now appropriated to do such things as grocery shopping, laundry, and lawn work, or for recreational activities such as sports.  And while the activities these folks engage in may be different from the innkeeper’s activities, they are in reality, responding to the Lord just as he did.
Imagine with me if you will, how the conversation might have sounded when Joseph inquired about a room at the inn.
We start with Joseph knocking on the door (knock, knock).  The Innkeeper comes to the door and as he cracks it open we hear the noise from a house filled with people eating, drinking and making merry.
“What can I do for you?” He says, really more intent on getting back to his guests than in talking to Joseph.  “My wife is about to have a baby,” says, Joseph.  “We need a room in your inn.”  The innkeeper responds, “Sorry pal, we’re full up, we’ve got no room for you here.”
“But this child is the One promised by the Prophet Isaiah.  This child is Messiah,” says Joseph.  Impatiently, the innkeeper replies, “Look friend, I’m busy, my wife’s busy, and we just don’t have room.  Can’t you see we have all we can handle?”
“Do you mind if we stay in your stable?”  Begs Joseph. “We’ve got to have a place for my wife and baby.”  “Sure, sleep in the stable if you want but just be sure you don’t interfere in my business,” and with that the Innkeeper closes the door. 
Many people today respond to Jesus just as the Innkeeper did.  They do not make room for Him among life’s other activities.  They simply shut Him out of the Inn and confine Him to the stables where He won’t be in the way.

IV.  The Shepherds’ Response

The shepherds’ response is far different from the others we have seen.  They did not allow their lack of understanding, their fears, or their busy lives keep them from Christ.
Notice in Luke 2:15, they say, “Let us now go...”  Keep in mind that this was in the middle of the night—the time when their sheep would have been most vulnerable to predators.  The time when the shepherds stood to lose the most by leaving their flocks to go to Jesus.
Indeed, the lives and fortunes of these shepherds were tied to their sheep.  Yet, in these four simple words, “let us now go,” we see the willingness of the shepherds to forsake all to come to Jesus.  All the sheep in the world were not worth missing the opportunity to come to Jesus.  And so it is today, nothing in this world is worth keeping a person from coming to the Lord.  Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
“They came with haste,” Luke 2:16.  The shepherds made coming to Christ an immediate priority in their lives.  Ben Franklin said, “Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today” and better advice was never given as it concerns coming to the Lord.
Harry Grimshaw was well known in the construction industry in Tulsa.  His father, W.  R. Grimshaw founded Grimshaw Construction Company and Harry was raised in the high dollar, fast-moving world of big-time construction.  Over the years, Harry made and spent several fortunes.
Many years ago, when I was just starting in the plumbing and mechanical contracting business, Harry gave me the opportunity to do a job that established me as a contractor.  Needless to say, I thought a lot of Harry, because he gave me a life-changing opportunity.
More than twenty years later, Harry and I sat in his car, in front of my home, where for the first time Harry listened as I told him about Jesus, and just before he drove off, Harry told me that he was almost convinced.  But he still drove away.
Later that week Harry asked me to meet him for breakfast at the Camelot Inn, saying he had something to show me.  He brought the certificate of water baptism he received when he was baptized in the military.  I suppose Harry wanted to believe he was going to heaven, because he had been water baptized.  But salvation is not based on water baptism.  It is based on God’s grace made available only through faith, in the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Faith and faith alone is the vehicle God has chosen to bring salvation to men.  I tried explaining this to Harry, but again, Harry put off trusting Christ until some other time.
Less than two weeks later, my wife and I went to visit Harry in the hospital.  He suffered a stroke that left him incoherent and unable to communicate.  Harry died a short time later.  He spent the final hours of his life fighting the restraints that held him in his bed, with a look of terror on his face, and screaming unintelligible sounds.
If Harry went into eternity without Christ as his Savior, he did so because he did not come with haste, as the shepherds did that first Christmas night.  Harry put off until tomorrow, what he should have done today.
There is something else the shepherds did that is noted in Luke 2:16.  They “...found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.”  The key word is “found,” and the fact the shepherds found something indicates they were looking for something.  The sad truth is many people never look for Jesus, therefore they never find Him. 
We get a feel for how diligent the shepherds were in looking for Jesus when we consider they immediately left their sheep and traveled to town looking for Him.  Neither job, nor time, nor distance, nor other people kept them from coming to the Lord.  And so it must be with humanity today.  When the Holy Spirit moves in the heart to draw one to Christ, it behooves that person to not allow job, or time, or distance, or other people to keep him from responding.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “...he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”  God promises that anyone who believes and seeks the Lord Jesus Christ will be rewarded.  Today, if you will seek Christ, you will be rewarded.

V. Conclusion


The Christmas message is still the same today as it was two thousand years ago.  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
However, some will not respond because of unbelief.  Some will not respond because of fear.  Some will not respond because there is no room in their lives for the Savior.  But some will do as the shepherds did.  They will, as soon as they hear, quickly and diligently, seek the Lord Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to do as the shepherds did.  Come to Jesus.  If you have never come to the point of believing that He died for you, in your place, for your sins, and rose from the dead, then you need to trust Jesus, now, and know for sure that you will spend eternity in Heaven with the virgin-born Savior of the world.

Jim

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lowes Knows

Lowes slogan, “Never Stop Improving,” has new meaning, now that they are taking heat for pulling their advertisements from a TLC television show called, “All-American Muslim.”  Predictably, Muslim groups and their sympathizers, along with several elected officials, are frothing and fuming while writing letters of outrage, name-calling, and threatening a boycott.
Funny, I thought elected officials were supposed to be neutral in matters of religion and that private businesses could spend their advertising dollars where they want.
Perhaps, the folks at Lowes realize that Islam is a religion that controls the government and lives of people in every country it overtakes, and maybe, Lowes does not want to finance the concept of “All-American Muslims,” when the danger is an “All Muslim America.” 
Thank you, Lowes.  May your business “Never Stop Improving.”

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

The Other War With Terrorists

            Seventy years ago, Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and did what Japanese General Yamamoto feared would happen:  They “awakened a sleeping giant!”  
            A study of WWII in the Pacific Theater reveals some interesting parallels between Japanese soldiers and Muslim terrorists in the protracted “War on Terrorism.”  Some of these are:
1.     The Japanese worshiped their emperor as god, rather than the Eternal God, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Neither, do the Muslims worship Jesus as God.
2.     The Japanese believed that if they died in service to their emperor god they were assured a place in heaven.  Likewise, Muslims believe death in service to their god assures them a place in paradise.
3.     To the Japanese, life was cheap, only those that served the emperor god were deserving of life and all others were destined for enslavement, torture, and death.  The Muslim Jihad (or struggle) is war against non-believers in Mohammed’s mission.  The ultimate goal being conversion to Islam, banishment, enslavement, or death, to those they call infidels.
4.     Japan’s war of conquest was a religious war, spawned by belief that their emperor god had the divine right to rule the world, and thought by them, to be a right and justifiable expansion of the empire.  Muslim terrorism is a religious war, thought by them, to be right and justifiable in expanding the rule of Islam around the world.
5.     To their own, the Japanese were kind, peaceful, respectful and honorable, but all manner of lies and deception were acceptable when dealing with those that did not worship their god.  Likewise, with Muslims, according to the Koran.
6.     Japanese fanatics believed fate and their emperor god controlled their destiny.  Muslims are also fatalists, believing all things occur according to the will of their god.
7.     The Japanese believed in the use of force to accomplish their goals, and greater force was the only thing that deterred them.  The Muslim Jihad is on the same path.

Ultimately, it took two atomic bombs in a show of force beyond anything ever before seen, to break the will of the Japanese people.  Only the prospect of intense suffering in their homeland could destroy the delusional dream of heaven, as reward, for death in service to the emperor god. 
Hopefully, the “Sleeping Giant” will again awaken.  This time to realize that religion is always the same.  It promises future reward for present human endeavor and requires tremendous power to free people from its clutches.  Bullets and bombs may free nations, but the only power that can free individuals from religion, is the good news that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave.  If Jesus did not die to pay for your sins, then you must pay your own penalty and if Jesus was not resurrected for your justification, then the torments of death are yours for eternity.

Jim

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Save The Postal Service

            The importance of postal service is established in the US Constitution, Section 8, which grants the authority and responsibility, “To establish Post Offices and post Roads.”  Funding, for these and the other required functions of government, such as military forces, is established in the opening paragraph of Section 8:  “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence (sp) and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” 
            It seems obvious, the Founders realized that postal service was necessary to the welfare of the United States and that they intended universal taxes to pay for it.  Today, the US Postal Service is being trimmed because it cannot compete with private package delivery services and electronic media, meaning it does not generate enough cash to pay its own way.  Local Post Offices and regional sorting facilities are being closed, resulting in overall slower delivery times.
The postal service, like the armed services, was not originally intended to pay its own way as a profit making business, because it was understood to be vital to the general welfare of the United States.  Somewhere along the way, government decided postal service should be self-supporting, probably under the well-worn guise that those who use the service should pay for it, and the intent of the Constitution was dumped.  This, of course, allowed the monies for postal services to be spent on other things.  Also, the requirement to establish “post roads” was long ago relegated to local authorities.  However, in spite of this pay-as-you-use scheme, Congress retained its right to use the postal service without charge, through the device of signature franking. 
            Before we abandon the Constitutional responsibility to provide postal service, due to lack of funding, perhaps, we should de-fund the lavish lifestyles our elected and appointed officials enjoy at taxpayer expense; the numerous agencies that seek to control our lives; and foreign aid to our enemies.  Not only could we then fund a first class postal service, but also, we would save billions, perhaps trillions, in the process and as the late Senator Everett Dirksen reportedly said, “Pretty soon, you’re talking about real money.”

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Terrorist Acts Are Workplace Violence?

            The Defense Department has labeled the attack on unarmed personnel at Fort Hood, conceived and perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, as “workplace violence.”  If the 9/11 attacks had occurred during this Administration, would they be called, “airplane crashes?”
            I am thankful that seventy years ago, our nation’s leaders did not misread, misunderstand or mislabel the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jim

Friday, December 2, 2011

It Was Not Broken Until They Fixed It

Recent reports reveal the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2009, partly because people are leaving the workforce.  Apart from receiving a large inheritance, physical injury, or death, a common reason for leaving the workforce is retirement.
Paralleling the dropping unemployment rate is the fact that “Baby Boomers” are reaching retirement age in droves.  Politicians have long known and used this information as a scare tactic to influence voters with empty promises to “fix” the “problem.”  Older citizens are told the money they depend on to live cannot continue, and younger citizens are told the fund will not be there for them.  The proposed solution being, “vote for me and I will fix it.”
How is it possible that Social Security is in trouble?  Contrary, to email wisdom, illegal aliens and welfare recipients are not the problem.  Social Security payments are based on the amount a worker has paid into the system, with a minimum time in system requirement.  Very simply, people who do not pay into the system for the required time do not receive retirement payments.  This is also true for disabled people, non-working spouses, surviving spouses and orphans.  Additionally, recent studies show that most people die before receiving all that was paid into the system on their behalf.  Our own payment schedule requires that my wife and I must reach the age of 92 before the money we paid is fully returned. 
The real problem with Social Security is that politicians have and are spending more than is generated by the general tax base.  Therefore, they used Social Security monies to fund their deficit spending and now, the government is so far in debt that it cannot repay the loans.  At the same time, the Social Security Taxes being collected are not sufficient to sustain the system.
            There is no legitimate reason for Social Security to be insolvent.  If the fund is depleted before its time, we can blame the politicians, not the actuarial tables.  The actuarial tables allow insurance companies to pay benefits and still make a healthy profit.  They will do the same for Social Security when politicians quit borrowing money from the fund without repaying it and depending on current Social Security Taxes to cover existing and future obligations to retirees.
            The failure of Social Security is only the tip of the iceberg and looms on the horizon as a warning to all who will heed.  Deficit spending must stop and it should be clear to anyone with enough sense to manage his own finances that the people in office today are incompetent, or unwilling, to stop the spending.  The only way to show politicians that pork-barrel politics do not work is by voting them out of office. 
Regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, the single issue needs to be:  Do not vote for the incumbent!  This means we may need to hold our noses while voting for someone from a different party, or for someone with a different political or religious view, but politics and religion are not the issues before us.  Crushing debt that will put us in servitude to those who own our mortgaged future is the issue.  Even servants have political and religious views, but they don’t have freedom.

Jim

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Death Of The Silver Birds

          American Airlines decided Monday to file for Chapter 11, bankruptcy protection, citing high fuel costs and labor problems.  Is it possible they are ignoring the obvious?  In any industry, labor and operation costs may be passed to the customer, if the goods or services provided, warrant it. 
In the past ten years, airlines have reduced or eliminated numbers of flights; added additional seats making airplanes more crowded; downsized or eliminated meals and snacks; and started charging additional fees for everything from pillows to luggage. 
Apparently, the customer base is not expanding and airlines are forced to squeeze more revenue from existing customers.  An MBA is not required to understand that these tactics will never expand customer base and without new customers, bankruptcy is the only possible end.  Surely, airline executives know this and they are not ignoring the obvious, but their hands are tied by government intervention.  They cannot change the customer inconveniences that started the cycle destined to destroy the airline industry, sooner or later.
Is it possible that potential airline customers tired of arriving two hours before their flights so they can be scanned, questioned, groped and herded as if they were convicted felons?  Are those who deliver and retrieve passengers, weary of limited access and information?  Are Americans from the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” rejecting an industry controlled by fear, not freedom?  Also, for anyone who may be interested in facts, not political correctness, the 911 terrorists did not look like American grandmothers or pre-school children. 
Perhaps, declining customer base is not due to lack of peanuts during the flight. 

Jim

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Commerce Clause

An email from T.L., my friend, asked, “Where is the Constitutional authority for the federal [government] to interfere and manipulate private commerce?”  Like many other Americans, I was led to believe that from the beginning, the so-called “Commerce Clause” in the Constitution, granted Federal Government exclusive control of all commerce in the U.S.  The referenced clause reads, “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
Rereading this clause, with my friend’s question in mind, and believing the Founding Fathers wrote what they meant and meant what they wrote, it is obvious that private enterprise is not mentioned.  So, how did Federal Government go from having only the authority to regulate commerce with specifically named sovereign entities, to regulating private commerce?
As the expanse of steel rails multiplied across the nation in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, so did the power of the companies that controlled the rails, as railroads became the primary carriers of freight.  Larger railroads would drive their competitors out of business by lowering rates and when the competition was gone, they would raise prices well above previous levels.  Railroad trusts were formed to fix artificially high rates, usually for short hauls, making it impossible for local businesses to compete with nationwide conglomerates.  Only those businesses that “played ball” with the railroad moguls would receive timely, economical, rail transportation for their goods.
Public outcry resulted in States passing laws to stop the discriminatory and abusive practices of the railroads.  Unhappy that state governments were regulating the heretofore, unregulated monopolies, Wabash, St. Louis, & Pacific Railway, sued Illinois.  In 1886, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws regulating railroads violated the “Commerce Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which they said gives Congress the “exclusive right to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
In one decision, apparently based on something other than the Constitution itself, the power of Federal Government went from that of regulating commerce with other sovereign governments, to include exclusive regulation of private commerce.  This decision also freed railroads from the restraints of state law and dealt state control of commerce a deathblow.
Perhaps, the railroad moguls celebrated their ability to influence the “Supremes” that freed them from state regulation, but the victory was short-lived.  The post Civil War Congress was willing to exercise the power taken from the states and handed to them by the Supreme Court.  The following year, Congress passed and President Grover Cleveland signed into law, The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, which, with its revisions, gives Government the authority to regulate private commerce.
A Supreme Court decision that shielded wealthy railroad moguls from state regulation; a Congress that took advantage of an opportunity to expand their power; and a President that sided with the absconding of state authority and expansion of federal authority, all came together to disregard the Constitution.
Today, the “Robber Barons” that controlled and manipulated railroad transportation, to cripple and bankrupt many American small businesses are no longer a threat, but their legacy lives in a government that does the same with excessive regulations. 

Jim

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Social Security Windfall

            Recently, my wife and I received letters from the Social Security Administration informing us that our “benefit” would increase by a collective $15 per month.  To what do we owe this windfall?  The increase is based on a recalculation to include self-employment taxes for the year we retired, in the amount of $4,907.  It is likely, that apart from this action by the SSA, we would never have known our complete tax payment amounts were not included in the initial calculations. 
Even though our ignorance was due to the fact that when we retired, my questions about calculation formulas, specific amounts, and other information needed to determine the exact amount of our “benefit,” went unanswered, it would be unfair to hold this against them, since the adjustment is effective some 15 months after we retired.  How could this forthright and unsolicited action not inspire confidence in the system, and offset the “stonewalling” met by my initial questions?
Only unvarnished ingrates would fault a system that extracts $4,907 from earned income, to repay it without interest, in equal monthly installments of $15, spread over twenty-seven years and three months.  What could possibly be lacking in this system?  Should my wife and I live until we are 92, our initial “investment” will then be fully repaid and we will continue to receive $15 per month interest on our money, until we die.  On the other hand, if we should die before our “investment” is recouped, the balance is forfeited and our heirs are not burdened with settling an addition to the estate.  Little wonder, the SSA refers to this payment as a “benefit.”  It is sad that politicians receiving “entitlements” from a different system do not know the joy of receiving “benefits” from Social Security.

Jim

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This Grass Won't Grow

            Glendale, California has banned the use of artificial turf for lawns in front of private residences.  City officials say they are concerned about the plastics and chemicals used to make the turf.  In a leap of logic known only to these officials, it is still permitted in the back yards of homes.  Making this ban even stranger is the water shortage in that part of the Country. 
Right thinking people might conclude it is better to use artificial turf in place of real grass that requires precious water.  They might also think if turf is toxic in the front yard, it will be toxic in the back yard.  One might also conclude that there are undisclosed money or control issues behind this ban.
While it may seem strange that Glendale would enact this ordinance, the truth is that similar actions are enacted frequently in communities all across the U.S.  For years, local ordinances in the form of building permits and zoning have been used to restrict the free use of private property, and this noose around the neck of freedom is getting tighter with the passing of time, as demonstrated in Glendale. 
The common denominator in the plethora of local building and zoning ordinances is not public safety, for things that are acceptable in one locale are illegal in another.  The common denominator in building and zoning codes is the economic advantage and/or control they give to someone.  Even the mighty Wal-Mart Corporation must bow to these demands.  For example, when local businesses fear the competition, these laws are used to keep Wal-Mart out of the community. 
Simply put, most restrictions on property rights are about power and money.  The fa├žade, behind which those who make the rules hide, is public safety.  A real travesty is this system often becomes a training ground for career politicians.  Given some thought, it is obvious that most legislation at all levels affords someone an economic advantage, frequently at the expense of private property rights.  This “experience” is not needed in any level of government.  Another good reason for “ZERO INCUMBENTS.” 
           
Jim

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Legislative Immunity

            The U.S. Constitution grants Members of Congress immunity from arrest during their attendance at sessions of their body, save for treason, felony, or breach of the peace. Furthermore, they shall not be questioned by any agency for any speech or debate in either House.
            Early in High School, my generation was taught these provisions were necessary to preclude detaining legislators under color of law, thereby preventing participation in their legislative duties.  While the Constitution provides that a legislator is not immune to arrest for such things as leading a riot, robbing a bank or betraying the Country, they cannot be arrested for minor offences such as a parking ticket.  The wisdom, in these immunities, designed to prevent disruption of the legislative process is obvious, but it is doubtful they were intended to grant unrestricted authority for legislators to exempt themselves from any or all Acts of Congress. 
However, while “We the People” sleep, Congress habitually exempts itself from its own legislation.  Two of the more blatant exemptions are from Social Security and the new Health Care Laws.  These and other exemptions may be distasteful, elitist, and self-serving, but they are not exemptions from otherwise criminal activities.  Now, there are reports of insider trading by Members of Congress, their spouses and staff members, only they claim Security Laws do not apply to them. 
If the legislative purpose of Congress is to enrich its members, then perhaps, there is reason for them to determine their own immunity.  If not, Members of Congress should be subject to the same laws everyone else is.  Better to follow the letter of the Constitution and take a chance on a legislator being detained, than to continue the perversions of the Legislative Immunity envisioned by The Founders.  As a commonly circulated email says, “Social Security would be fixed tomorrow if Congress were required to participate in it.”

Jim

Monday, November 14, 2011

Don't Send It Here

            Canada announced that because the U.S. Government is refusing to approve a pipeline to transport oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast, their government will seek to sell their oil to other countries, including China.  This is another in a long list of projects over the past 50 years that those who worship the creation more than the Creator have stymied.  Here’s guessing the Chinese Government will not be influenced by earth worshippers seeking to derail its efforts to do what is necessary, to supply energy for their people, and that China will eagerly build all the tankers and facilities needed to transport Canada’s oil to their country.
            Strange, those so-called “godless” Communists think their people are more important than flora and fauna, while “Christian” America has trouble with the concept.

Jim

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moral Responsibility


            The student demonstrations (or riots, depending on viewpoint), along with the comments of his supporters, concerning the firing of Joe Paterno, seem to indicate a blurring of the line between moral responsibility and legal responsibility.  For those who missed it, while walking the crowded hallways of some educational institution, or shoveling manure in the barnyard, here is a bulletin:  Following the letter of the law does not always fulfill moral responsibility. 
Legal responsibility involves adherence to society’s code of laws, but moral responsibility comes from within the individual, based on respect for others and demonstrated by treating others as we would be treated.  Morality is not demonstrated by a person’s success in life, or a narrow concern for one’s own family and friends, but by respect for everyone, especially those unable to help themselves. 
Perhaps, Paterno covered his legal responsibility by reporting to his job supervisor, but he failed his moral responsibility by not calling police.  His own admission is that he should have done more.  One might conclude the good coach thought more of his own position, friends, and the system he represented, than he did of the young boys who were sodomized.
An interesting thought concerning morality is that immoral people have trouble recognizing it.

Jim McColloch

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thank You To Our Veterans

"For those that will fight for it...FREEDOM...has a flavor the protected shall never know"—L/Cpl Edwin L. "Tim" Craft, 1968, Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Paraphrasing L/Cpl Craft, “Without those that will fight for it…FREEDOM…shall never be known.”
All our veterans deserve our respect and thanks, even if the war they fought was unpopular, or if they did not fight a war, for their service clearly announced to friend and foe alike that they were ready to defend freedom, regardless of the cost. 
Freedom is never free.  Thank a veteran today.

Jim

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Real Christmas Tree Tax

            One of today’s hottest stories on the web is the new Christmas tree tax.  To say some people are outraged is an understatement.  Opinions range from thinking it is foolish; to thinking it is an attack on Christianity.  One person wrote that it is discrimination against Christians since Muslims do not buy Christmas trees and therefore do not pay the tax.  By that standard most taxes are discriminatory since everyone in every class does not pay them.  However inflammatory, discriminatory, or foolish this tax may be, the real problem, as with our entire tax structure, is the hidden cost.
            One might ask, “Why all the fuss over a mere fifteen cents per tree?”  The standard line from politicians and bureaucrats when implementing new taxes is always to focus on the seemingly insignificant amount of the tax.  But the amount of the tax is not the whole story.
            The following paragraph is from the online Federal Register at http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/11/08/2011-28798/christmas-tree-promotion-research-and-information-order#p-116:

“An estimated 12,455 respondents will provide information to the Board (12,255 producers and 200 importers). The estimated cost of providing the information to the Board by respondents will be $348,975. This total has been estimated by multiplying 10,575 total hours required for reporting and recordkeeping by $33, the average mean hourly earnings of various occupations involved in keeping this information. Data for computation of this hourly rate was obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.”

            The estimated cost to businesses for the recordkeeping required collecting this tax is $348,975.00.  In addition to the tax that is sure to be passed to customers, the customers will also repay these collection costs.  But these costs will not be marked on an invoice as tax.  They will come as price increases on the product, insulated from the downward pressures of competition and the faltering economy.  The cycle is endless.  Prices go up.  Government expands, and our economy is less and less stable.  Another point is that regardless of who pays the bill, 10,575 hours will be consumed doing government required paperwork that should be devoted to improving the businesses.
            This is not isolated to a Christmas Tree Tax.  The hidden costs to businesses and the increasing costs of government are out of control under our present tax code.  Every tax on the books has hidden costs.  Anyone who thinks businesses pay taxes does not understand that businesses only collect taxes and pass them to the government, while passing the costs of collection to their customers.
            Surely, a nation that has the ability to put men on the moon has the ability to implement a tax code without hidden costs that smother businesses in paperwork, and escalate prices.  Perhaps, the problems are ignorance of the system, apathy of voters, and lack of political will for politicians.

Jim

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Government Against The People

            With clear indifference to the welfare of a group of Missouri residents, unelected bureaucrats in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decreed that structures built on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks over the past eighty years, since the completion of the lake, are encroachments.  Consequently, these “Regulators” refused to grant Ameren, the company that owns the lake, a new 40-year license to operate the dam until the structures in question are removed. 
            They are not talking boat docks or outhouses.  This ruling affects hundreds of residences and hundreds of millions in real estate value while setting a precedent to confiscate private property along the shores of any lake that requires a permit to operate a dam.  This is not a case of eminent domain where property is taken after due process and remuneration, for the construction of projects for the public good.  This is forced removal and these petty people with power seem to ignore that property owners have title deeds, and that private property along the shores for the past eighty years has not created any disasters. 
            No doubt, the bureaucrats will claim they are only following the law, but in this there are only two possibilities:  The laws they cling to were passed after the properties were built, or the laws were not enforced, thereby deceiving property owners, title companies, lending agencies, title attorneys, developers, Ameren and everyone else involved.  In either case, it is unreasonable to punish property owners. 
How much longer will voters tolerate government agencies with the unaccountable authority to oppress our own citizens?  This ruling will cause many sleepless nights, untold stress, enormous legal expenses, disruptions in life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness for these property owners and in the end, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that wrought this misery will feel none of the pain. 
How would you feel if you were notified that your home would be razed because some government agency did not like the location?  If we allow the government to do this to these people, the next time they may do it to us.  Meanwhile, folks that have lakeside homes across our nation are in real danger of losing them when it is time to renew the dam operating permit (pun intended).
For more information and to sign a petition go to:  http://www.lakeareaconservativeclub.org/ferc-and-the-lake-of-the-ozarks/

Jim

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Word That Works

My friend, Rev. Tom Doty (twdoty02@yahoo.com), recently wrote in one of his daily devotionals,

“While our society wants to get rid of God’s Word it continues to appear.  God’s Word is quoted in books, movies, speeches, and is even twisted by Satan and his demons.  It’s like Jesus said, ‘Everything else may fall apart, but my word is solid and everlasting.’ If your world is falling apart, maybe you need to get something solid in life.  The only sure cure for a falling apart life is the truth of God’s Word.  Everything in your life may be going to pot, but you can be assured that God’s Word, if followed, can and will make your life complete.”

            Pastor Doty points to something clearly understood by our Founding Fathers that is more and more being ignored today—The efficacy of the Bible.  Modern thought suggests that if the Bible works at all, it only works for those who believe it.  The Patriots who originally forged this Nation knew better.  This is not to say each of them trusted Jesus as personal Savior and Lord.  In fact, many of their writings suggest otherwise.  Even so, they did realize the living principles contained in the Bible are just as certain and irrefutable as the laws of physics. 
One may deny that water seeks its own level, but the laws of nature’s God make it happen because it is necessary to maintain order.  Likewise, one may deny the Ten Commandments and the God who wrote them, but they are still necessary to maintain order.  The Word of God applies to Saint and sinner alike, not because one believes or disbelieves, but because the Creator of Heaven and Earth is the Authority behind it.

Jim

           
           

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seven Billion And Counting

            At the end of WWII, the world population was around 2.25 billion people.  On October 31, 2011, the world population reached seven billion.  These numbers indicate that more people have been born following WWII than were born during all of human history prior to that war.
            It is also interesting to note that humans have not changed from humanities earliest recorded history.  Certainly, our technologies have changed, as have our standards of living and acquired knowledge, but physically, mentally, and spiritually, humans remain the same.
            Relating this information to the purported “science of evolution” it seems strange that over the billions of cycles of life, known throughout recorded human history, nothing has changed for the better. 
Of course, one might believe that further evolutionary change was unnecessary because humans reached the pinnacle of efficiency eons ago.  The problem with this belief is that there are some obvious physical, mental, and spiritual, deficiencies among present-day humans.  For example, eyes in the backs of our heads would allow us to see approaching danger, as would the mental ability to see the future, and if we were at the spiritual pinnacle there would be no crime, jealousy, greed or hatred.
On the other hand, one might think that evolution is a slow process only bringing change when absolutely needed for survival.  If this is true then changes seem behind schedule, because the exponential population growth will soon overtake the earth’s ability to support life as we know it, and the millions of years said to be required for evolutionary change do not exist between now and the time Earth’s population reaches unsupportable numbers. 
Evolution science offers no hope for humanity because it denies The Creator who created humans in His own image.  Humanities problem is not the depletion of natural resources, neither is it overpopulation.  Humanities problem is sin and only the One who created humans has the power to save them from the death and corruption wrought by their sins.

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Arab Spring?

            In his editorial, titled, “Gadhafi Bites the Dust … What’s Next?” (http://www.calthomas.com/index.php?news=3392) Cal Thomas is spot on in his assessment of the “Arab Spring” and U.S. involvement.
            Perhaps, the biggest mistake in dealing with Islam is thinking it is a political system that can be changed with revolutions, demonstrations, civil disobedience or popular vote.  Islam is not a political system.  It is a religion that given opportunity, controls every political system where it gains a foothold.  Because Islam was conceived to oppose Christians and Jews and the Koran sanctions killing them, adherents will not be satisfied until these two groups are exterminated and all other “infidels” are assimilated into their belief system.  Add to this, the fact they are instructed to patiently wait for the opportunity, to use any means available to accomplish their goals and it should be understood that believers in the Koran cannot be trusted, irrespective of their political system.
            How bizarre, that our political leaders seem to fear Christianity that is based on a descendant of Israel who loved all people and willingly became their sacrifice for sins, while supporting a religion based on hatred of Israel’s Children and Christians.

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Real Tax Bite

            From time immemorial, divide et impera (divide and rule) has been used to break populations into small manageable groups so they are unable to resist those in power.  This strategy is working well in establishing and maintaining government revenue streams. 
            Proposals to reform or abolish the IRS and the present tax code are hot issues in the current election cycle.  Clearly, many Americans think it is time for a change and the politicians are individually hoping their respective plan will be the key to elected office.  But all we hear are plans involving income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes and sales taxes, along with endless debates concerning the merits of each plan.  A real problem with reforming these taxes is that everyone is afraid their own ox will be gored.  So while attention is on debating these plans, the hidden taxes imposed on our citizenry go untouched. 
While few people enjoy paying taxes, most citizens realize they are required to fund our necessary government expenses.  The problem is that many of our necessary government expenses are no longer funded by the taxes politicians are proposing to reform.  Fees charged to people that must use them fund many essential government services.  Among these are license fees, permit fees, inspection fees, use fees, turnpike fees, court costs, the list is long.  This frees large sums generated by taxation on the general populace to go toward government largess, since many government agencies are dependent on revenues they generate through fees.  You guessed it!  When these agencies fall short on revenue they raise fees, most often by administrative fiat from bureaucrats with no accountability to the voters.  As a revenue stream this system is preferred by government agencies because it removes the pesky need for voter approval and shields elected officials from voters when revenues are increased.
I know!  I know!  The standard rationalization for this system is that the people who use the services should pay for them.  Remember “divide et impera.  When government is allowed to divide the people into small groups for the purposes of specific taxation, special fees, or anything else, we all eventually lose.  Real tax reform will come when all government services and agencies are funded solely by general taxes levied on all citizens with their consent.  “Of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stop The Misdirection

One necessary ingredient that every successful stage magician, illusionist and sleight-of-hand artist employs is misdirection.  While the audience watches the obvious, the not so obvious is also happening.  For the past 50+ years, the battle to remove any mention of God or the Bible from our public schools has been the obvious, while the not so obvious is the political indoctrination of our children occurring in those same schools.  At the same time, the obvious in our churches is the battle to restrict their involvement in politics, while the not so obvious is the lack of instruction to counter the indoctrination occurring in all levels of education.
The result of these misdirections is a society that embraces the welfare state, absolute government authority and open borders.  They think God, the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance are irrelevant.  Their moral compass is calibrated by the letter of the laws written by lawyers, judges and politicians, rather, than the character of our Creator.  They have been taught that education is the key to success; that hard work is for those who lack education and when they do not get what they want, they are told to blame anyone or anything but themselves.  When it comes to a politically correct education, no child in the system has been left behind.
Teachers are a second group victimized by these misdirections.  For most, teaching is a calling and lifelong commitment.  They enter the profession with high hopes, only to be treated as pawns in the illusion.  They are caught in a system that tells them what to teach and when to teach it under penalty of law. 
As we Okies might say it, “Our chickens have come home to roost.”  Perhaps, it is time to reintroduce the “board of education” for discipline, the “Three R’s” for curriculum, and to give teachers the support and freedom they need to teach. 

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Legal Tender No Longer Legal


Written on the face of U.S. Currency in all capital letters is this statement:  “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.”  With the passing of H.B. 195, in the State of Louisiana, legal tender is not always legal.  The law prohibits the use of cash to buy or sell second-hand merchandise.  Ostensibly, the bill, by forcing people to use a check, money order or electronic transfer, will provide a paper trail for police to track criminal activity.  However, it is most likely that only law-abiding businesses such as Goodwill, Salvation Army Stores, Veterans Thrift Shops, Flea Markets, and their law-abiding customers will be affected.  Also, the cost of checks, money orders and electronic transfers is sure to rise when people are forced to use them. 
Anyone, who thinks criminals will leave a paper trail or stop their illegal activities because this law says they cannot use cash, is dreaming, but the cost and inconvenience to law-abiding people, the undermining of our currency and the abrogation of individual freedom to conduct business in private, is no dream.
To paraphrase a saying from the Gun Rights Advocates:  “When cash is outlawed, only outlaws will have cash.”

Jim
www.jim-mac.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Roots Run Deep

My roots run deep in America.  The bones of my paternal grandfathers are buried in Vinita, Oklahoma; Athens County, Ohio; Wheeling, West Virginia and Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania.  My mother was Cherokee and while the formal records of her family begin with the Dawes Commission Rolls, her people were among the pre-historic occupants of this land.
Even though, the McColloch Brothers were Indian fighters in Wheeling and perhaps, encountered my mother’s ancestors, my mother loved my father in spite of his family history and vice-versa.  Some of my ancestors were Christians and some were called savages.  Perhaps, accordingly, I have acted like both Christian and savage at various times in my life. 
I mention my ancestry, not to claim special dispensation, but to say that my family has a long history of “skin in the game.”  From the Revolution to Vietnam, we fought in this Nation’s wars.  In the Revolution, we knew the sweet taste of victory and freedom from an oppressive monarchy, yet, we also knew the bitter taste of captivity as we were driven from our homes and force-marched, like animals, to a reservation in present day Oklahoma.  The path to tomorrow was not always easy for any of my ancestors, but their accomplishments and their failures; their victories and their defeats; like those of millions of other families were the building blocks of this Great Nation, because through it all they came together as one people, desiring a better life for themselves and others. 
Now, we stand on the edge of the precipice.  Will we allow the blood and sweat sacrifices of previous generations to disappear into the sands of time, by allowing this Nation to disappear because we are divided?  Contrary, to what seems a popular notion that individuals can do nothing to change the direction of this Country, I think individuals, now as always, are the only group capable of changing the direction.  In fact, we need to stop expecting politicians to provide political solutions to a spiritual problem.  The direction this Nation is headed will change if individuals follow the divinely inspired directives to treat others as you would be treated and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
Clearly, not all Americans have at all times adhered to these principles, not even my own ancestors, but through the years enough Americans have embraced them to influence those who did not.  It has worked before and it will work again.

Jim
www.jim-mac.com