Voting . . .

This morning, Sandy and I followed our normal Saturday morning ritual . . . well, almost.

I always get up at 7:00 a.m. and she sleeps late (it is a Saturday morning school teacher thing). I drink coffee, check my iPad for emails, FB posts, check on my Words-with-Friends games and read news articles online. Saturday morning is a lazy time around our place.

Sandy woke up about 9, got ready, and we headed out to the little taco place for breakfast. While we were out she suggested that we go by and take advantage of early-voting. We did that. There were several folks there to vote, but nothing like the crowd that will be there on the 6th!

As we entered the voting place and waited our turn, I was reminded that it is a grand privilege, indeed, to be able to vote in a free election, in a free country, and be reasonably comfortable that your vote will actually be considered. Sadly, there are many places in the world where citizens do not have such liberties and confidence.

I am thankful that I live in a country that has a representative form of government – where we as citizens have the right, privilege, and responsibility of selecting those representatives. There is no place like the USA, in spite of the truth that some of our recent elections have being confusing and concerning.

I put high value on my right to cast my vote . . . I feel like I did my part today.

This much is certain . . . that nothing is certain!

 

I recently read this statement and it got me thinking. The statement sounds clever and could even be called “cute and witty” from the mindset that time and things do change.  But the truth of the matter is the statement is not simply a clever statement about changing times.  Its roots go much deeper. Its foundation is Fallibilism . . .  

Fallibilism comes from the medieval Latin fallibilis – which means “liable to err.”  It is a philosophical principle that humans could be wrong about their beliefs, expectations, or their understanding of their world.  It argues that one must remain open to new “evidence” that would disprove some previously held position or belief; recognizing that any claim justified today may need to be revised or withdrawn in light of new evidence, new arguments, and new experiences.

It might surprise you that I agree with this . . . but not completely.  Let me explain.

In medical science’s advancement, the key to success is to celebrate failure . . . because each failure puts society closer to discovering a cure for cancer, heart disease, and other dreaded illnesses.  Hanging on to former practices and beliefs would block advancements and result in death.  The great success that has taken place in medical science over the past 50 years is the result of learning to fail without embarrassment.

I agree with it in other areas too, such as exploration of space.  Can you imagine that people once believed the world was flat and there was a danger that one could find the edge and ultimately fall off?  As space exploration has developed, minds, beliefs, and processes have been changed and the word has enjoyed some amazing advancements.

I could identify a number of other areas where I also agree. I do know that it can be a good thing to keep an open mind and be willing to accept new information.  But I also know that receiving new information must be done in a mature and responsible manner . . . because it is also true that there will always be those who seek to fill an open mind with garbage.

I believe it is important that one seek to understand, “What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of my own personal knowledge?”  That ought to include an examination of its source(s), its structure, and its limits. Why is that important?  Simply stated – – so that one has justified beliefs.

In fact, I believe this process is a critical part of human development and must occur in order for one to advance in life.   Parents send their children off to college to prepare for life.  In that process, the kid finds himself exposed to a great deal of stuff that is new and foreign.   Some of it is good; some of it is not. That student must go through a process to discover what he really believes. Up to that point in his life, he has likely just accepted what his parents believed.  Now, he must decide for himself.  Will he just hang on to what he learned from his parents and reject other things to which he is being exposed?  At some point, he must decide for himself.  If he does not . . . he will never have justified beliefs; they will never really be his beliefs.  This is a process of filtering and I believe it is critical.  It is necessary for a person to move forward with being who he was created to be, and not simply live in the shadows of another person’s life.

The area where I strongly disagree with Fallibilism is in the area of morality.  Moral Fallibilism holds that objectively true moral standards may exist, but that they cannot be reliable or conclusively determined by humans.

While it is true that humans cannot conclusively determine true moral standards, it is also true that those standards have been revealed to humans and can be accepted and adhered to because they are given by the Author of life Himself. Those moral standards have been revealed in the Holy Bible . . . revealed by the One who created Heaven and earth and all that dwells therein.

I can hear the cry . . . “the accuracy and truth of the Bible is simply an opinion.”  That argument has been put forth through history and continues to be by foolish people.  The truth is that the Bible is perfect in every way.  It is a light for our feet in a world of darkness; its purpose is to enable us to find and connect with God, and to walk with Him.  Let me show you some really cool stuff about the Bible:

  1. It was ignorance of the Bible that ever caused man to first believe the earth was flat. The Bible said in Isaiah 40:22, “It is He that sits above the circle of the earth and the inhabitants thereof . . . );
  2. It explains the way the world came into being (Genesis 1:1);
  3. It explains the origin of man (Genesis 1:26);
  4. It explains the consequences of man’s rebellion against God (Genesis 3).  In fact, the Old Testament records much concerning the consequences felt by humans for failing to understand and adhere to the truth that moral standards had been revealed;
  5. It provides God’s moral standards for humans and declares Him as the author (Exodus 31:18);
  6. It declares that there is peace for those who will turn their attention to Him (Isaiah 26:3);
  7. It assures access to God (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 7:19);
  8. It offers assurance (Colossians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:2);
  9. It explains atonement (Romans 3:24; Romans 3:24);
  10. It explains that God loves humans and through His grace and mercy has made a way available to us (John 3: 16); and
  11. It declares that one day there will be an accounting required for each person and will include Judgment   (I Thessalonians 4: 16).

Moral Fallibilism holds that objectively true moral standards may exist, but that they cannot be reliable or conclusively determined by humans.  God declares that those moral standards have been revealed and can be known, applied, and relied upon.

We must each decide.  The truth is that those interested in social engineering are the ones who claim Moral Fallibilism as gospel . . . The One who loves you, declares His standards and reveals them, the One who wants to redeem you is the author of the true Gospel – the Good News! It is the Bible . . .  

The Apostle Paul said it well in 2 Timothy 1: 12, “. . . for I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

Those are the words from a really smart man . . . a man who knew that there is, indeed, something “Certain.”  They were not simply words for him . . . they were a conviction for which he was willing to give his life . . . and he did in every sense of the word.

I love the cool photo of the moon . . . The One who hung that moon up and keeps it there is the very One who reveals His standards for us . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you See?

Last night I was texting with my nephew, Ryan, and somehow we managed to stumble into a conversation about a person we both know.  Sadly, the thing that marks that person is jealousy over other people’s success and blessings and that he just seems to enjoy creating problems for others.

It was a good, healthy discussion – it was not gossip.  The reason it was a good discussion is because Ryan and I are both guys who like to see others do well and are able to enjoy other people’s blessings and successes.  I was reminded during the discussion that seeing life and others in the right context is a gift . . . a gift in and of itself.

Our chat session didn’t focus on the person, but more about the consequences of one seeing life from that sad place.  We did chat some about how such jealousy affects one’s outlook on life and causes a person to use others as a measuring stick against himself.  We agreed that road won’t take a person very far, as there are only two possible outcomes for that exercise: one will either become vain (as there will always be others who are less successful); or one will become bitter (as there will always be those who are more successful).

I have been working with elderly people for almost 40 years.  I have had many discussions with people as they neared the end of their lives.  I have never had one person say to me, “I wish I had made and accumulated more money.”  I have, however, heard people say things such as:

. . . I wish I had been a better husband

. . . I wish I had been a better person

. . . I wish I had spent more time with my family

. . . I wish I had done more to help others

Money is, of course, important in the sense that we have to have a place to live, we need food to eat, we need clothes to wear, and we have to pay taxes.  Having enough money to survive is important, but striving to have enough money to splurge – at the cost of sacrificing the more important things in life – is foolish. There is much to be said for graciously accepting God’s provision and doing your best with it.

I have heard it said, “Money will:

buy a bed . . . but it will not buy sleep;

buy food . . . but it will not buy an appetite;

buy books . . . but it will not buy brains;

buy medicine . . . but it will not buy health;

buy luxury . . . but it will not buy culture;

buy a house . . . but it will not buy a home;

buy finery . . . but it will not buy beauty;

buy amusement . . . but it will not buy happiness.”

 

The things in the left-hand column are nice . . . but, the things in the right-hand column are essential!

The Master said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God . . . then all these things shall be added unto you.”

That is the recipe for a happy, healthy, meaningful, and successful life.  The recipe is offered by the One who created life . . .

There is peace in being satisfied with the provision of the Master, contentment in doing one’s best on the work set before you, and reward and satisfaction in loving, encouraging others, and wishing them well.  There is only pain to be found in coveting . . .

What a Dare Devil

Image

 

 

 

 On Sunday as I flipped channels on TV, I saw something that almost made my heart stop.  It looked like someone jumping off of a moon vehicle.  I could clearly see some sort of space-travel vessel and recognized the earth below, then I saw the guy jump and instantly the image changed.  I tried to find out what had happened, but after thinking about it I realized it was so bazaar that I didn’t even know who to ask . . . or what to ask.   I bet a lot of people saw it too.

 

As it turns out, it was an Austrian sky-diver named Felix Baumgartner.  He jumped from what is described as “near Space” . . . at an altitude of 24 miles.  It seems he was seeking to become the first human to break the speed of sound without the propulsion or protection of a vehicle.  He reached the top speed of 833.9 mph in his free-fall.  The speed of sound is 761.207.  National Geographic says Felix was the first to accomplish this feat.  He landed in Roswell, New Mexico, a place that has long been believed to have had some experience with other things traveling from way up there.

 

The event was sponsored by Red Bull.  Old Felix is one brave dude . . . (and I suspect he has a loose screw or two?)  Can you imagine what was going through his mind as he did the free-fall? I bet one thing was, “I hope the dude who packed the chute knew what he was doing!”

 

And I thought Evil Knievel was a daredevil . . . Old Evil’s feats pale in comparison.

 

Felix Baumgartner discusses his skydive from space – video

 

Felix Baumgartner speaks to the press after his fall from a balloon 24 miles above the Earth on Sunday. He describes the sensation of standing far above the Earth’s surface and his record-breaking skydive. The Austrian daredevil broke three world records, including the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive

 

To see video, go to:

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/oct/15/felix-baumgartner-skydive-space-video

 

$5.37

A man parks his pick-up truck in the parking lot and enters Taco Bell.  He walks to the counter where he is greeted by a kid sporting the gothic look.  The kid’s appearance sets the man on edge, but he tries not to show it.  He thinks to himself, “What is happening to kids today?”

The man places his order and the kid says, “That will be $5.37.”  The man opens his wallet and finds that he only has a $5 bill.  He digs in his pocket and pulls out his change . . . only 14 cents, all the while thinking, “These dang pants are shrinking every time they are washed and it is getting harder and harder to get in the pockets.”  He tells the kid, “Hang on a minute, I need to go to my truck and get some more money,” thinking to himself, “$5.37 for lunch? Things sure have gotten expensive.”

The kid says, “Don’t worry about it, dude, I will just give you the senior discount and that makes it $4.75.”  Frustrated because he was only 55, the man took his order and walked back to his truck.  As he walked, he became more indignant about the “Senior Discount.”  Arriving at his truck, he pulled out his money stash and returned to the counter to set the record straight about being a senior and settle up his account.  As he approached the counter, the kid grinned and raised his right hand to display a key ring.  Jingling the keys he said, “Dude, you won’t get far without these . . . “Embarrassed, the man walked back to his truck and got in.  He tried to insert the key into the ignition, but it wouldn’t go in.  Confused, he looked around and discovered that he had gotten into the wrong truck.

He gets out of the truck and is certain that everyone inside Taco Bell has seen what he did . . . and thought to himself, “I bet that goofy-looking kid is really enjoying this . . .”

He gets in his truck, starts it up, and drives off.  As he drives down the road, he reaches over to get his lunch.  His order is not there and he realizes that he left his sack on the seat of the other truck.  As bad as he hates doing it, he makes a U-turn and heads back to Taco Bell.  He parks, gets out of the truck, and walks to the door where he is greeted by a 5-year-old boy and the boy’s pretty mom.  The lady hands him his order and says “You left it in our truck.”  He apologizes and the lady replies, “Oh, don’t worry about it, my Grandpa does that kind of stuff all the time . . .”

He leaves Taco Bell with smoke coming out of his ears and heads home.  He looks in his rearview mirror and sees a motorcycle cop with his lights on.  He pulls over and gets a ticket for driving 20 mph over the speed limit.  The smart-aleck young motorcycle cop asks the man, “Sir, don’t you think you are a little too old to be driving that fast?”

This becoming an old man can be pretty rough on one’s self image . . .

Attitude

Two questions . . .

1. How important is attitude? and . . .

2. Where are we as a Nation?

There is a story about a terrible winter storm that hit a mountain range in which many poor and uneducated people lived.  People were snowed in and the storm was followed by another . . . and another . . . and still another.  The situation went on and on.  As conditions would begin to improve, another storm would arrive.  For weeks hopes were that conditions would improve, but they did not.  Finally, the Red Cross became concerned and decided to take action to help — in spite of the difficulties it posed for the organization.  Unable to use land vehicles, the Red Cross used helicopters to fly food, medicines, and general supplies into the area.  Once a place to land was discovered, the volunteers would travel by foot to deliver the provisions, cabin by cabin.  It was very difficult and dangerous work . . . but it was good work . . . it was honorable . . . and it was necessary.

After one particularly long and difficult day, the crew was back in the helicopter flying home.  As they crossed over the top of a mountain, they spotted a cabin that had not yet been seen in the search.  The snow was almost to the roof of the small cabin and the crew was only able to recognize it as a cabin by a small curl of smoke coming from the chimney.  The crew knew they had no other option . . . tonight’s snow would surely make the cabin invisible tomorrow.  The people in the cabin would be having a hard time and would be in serious need.  About a mile away, they found a place to set the helicopter down. They gathered several care bags and with snowshoes on and shovels in hand, the crew headed out on foot.  This was very difficult traveling and night was fast approaching.  Finally, they arrived at the cabin and went to work digging snow away so they could find the door to the cabin.  Finally, arriving at the cabin door, a young man in the group pounded on the door.  After a couple of minutes, a hardened, weary mountain woman opened the door. The young man said, “Ma’am, I am from the Red Cross and . . . ”  The mountain woman cut him off in mid-sentence and said, “Young man, I appreciate the Red Cross, wonderful organization that it is, but the truth is that this has been a hard, trying winter and I am simply unable to make a donation today”!

The upcoming election is being reported as a contest between two different options and directions for our Nation.  One direction is said to be more and more government and greater dependency upon it by people.  The other direction is said to reduce the role of government in our lives while creating an environment where the American people can find success on a level playing field . . . success from hard work . . . and expanding opportunities.

Is this really the issue?

If this is true, then I have a question, “How did this great nation ever get to such a sad, pitiful place?”

I have always believed that the majority of Americans were like the mountain lady at the cabin door . . . a people whose first thoughts are about giving and doing to help others . . . not expecting help from other for themselves.

Am I wrong?  Has that changed somewhere along the way?

Of course, I am a product of a generation that heard President John F. Kennedy instruct, “Ask not what your country can do for you . . . ask what you can do for your country.”

Attitude Poster

 

 

 

Courtney . . .

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was on this day, some years back that I strutted like a peacock down the hallway of the hospital in the small, rural town of Lampasas, Texas. I had just become a dad . . . Sandy had given birth to a beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed girl. Sandy had already picked out her name . . . Courtney Melissa.

I was so proud of her.  I captured everyone who walked down the hallway of that hospital and led them to the nursery . . . I wanted to show them what I had done.  Looking back, I can see the resemblance to a chicken who had just laid an egg.  Carrying on and letting everyone know what had just happened.

That sweet little girl thrilled my heart . . . I wanted to spend every waking moment I could with her.  I would stand over her crib at night and just watch her sleep.  I spent many hours rocking her.  I would sing to her and she would coo.  She was my bud . . . She changed my life.

I can remember her first step.  I remember her first pair of shoes . . .a soft little pair of booties . . .bought for her by my blind-friend, Roy Pond.  I can remember her first pair of hard-soled patent-leather white shoes.  We lived in an old fixer-upper house that had a concrete slab on the front part of the house and wood floors in the back part.  There was a long hallway between.  Sandy put that cute little pair of hard-soled shoes on her in the bedroom, and she came down the hall to show me her new shoes.  As she took a step into the hallway, her little eyes lit up . . .the hard-soled shoes made noise on the wooden floor and it delighted her.  I will never forget that sweet, amazed look on her pretty little face at that moment.  Sometimes when I think about her . . . that image still comes to mind.

She was a little busy-body . . . she had to see, touch, feel, taste, and experience everything.  She knew nothing of caution . . . She just always went for it. For some reason, she developed an attraction for the wall electrical-receptacles (plug ins) while she was still in a stroller.  She was constantly trying to get one off the wall to see what was back there.  I would spat her hand and tell her, “Honey, you better leave that thing alone . . . it will bite you.”  She would look up at me and go right back to working on it.  One day I came home for lunch and Sandy told Courtney, “Show Daddy your hand.”  She raised her little hand up and showed me . . .It broke my heart . . . her little hand was blistered.  It made me sad and I inquired, “What happened?”  She pointed to the wall-receptacle and said, “Bite you Daddy, bite you.”  I realized at that moment that this precious, sweet, darling, little girl would always be an explorer and would have to learn things by experience.   Her curiosity simply would not allow her to do otherwise.  The good thing was I never had to tell her to leave a receptacle alone again.

While she was really little, she began trying to talk in sentences.  She was never one to do the baby talk . . . da da and such.  She had some stuff to say and she wanted to say it.  Her first sentence was “almyvosh.”  We didn’t have a clue what she was saying and it really upset her.  She would say it over and over.  One morning Sandy called me at the office and exclaimed.  “I know what ‘almyvosh’ means!!”  . . . I was like WOW . . . so tell me. She said, “it means ‘ALL BY MYSELF’ . . .”  I thought about that for a moment and reflected on all the times I had heard her say it and I told Sandy, “God Help Us”!  I realized that this was a little girl that would always want to do things her own way.  She was an independent little skunk.  She was then and she still is today . . .

The teenage years were something else . . . hard-headed, strong-willed, a mind of her own–and destined to use it as she saw fit.  In spite of all that, we did pretty well.  I knew she loved me . . . And she knew I loved her.

Things got a little more difficult when she went away to college.  She became even more independent (imagine that), and I didn’t seem to have much influence with her.  Our wills collided quite a bit and we went through some tough times . . . All the while her knowing I loved her . . .and me knowing that she loved me. I  would boss her around . . . and she would boss me around.  Sandy would say to me, “Honey, you and Courtney are a lot alike and you have to be careful with each other.”  She was right.

As the years have gone by, we have done much better.  I have mellowed some and she has too (well, I think she has . . .but she thinks she had always been pretty mellow).

I think Courtney is the kindest, most considerate, caring person I know.  For Courtney there are no strangers . . . She loves everyone . . .Especially the down-trodden, the hurting, the underdog.  She mothers anyone she finds hurting . . . any who have been injured by life.  She cries easily over other people’s pain and is always prepared and ready to carry their burden.  Her heart is as big as Texas.  I love that about her . . .

I loved her then . . . I love her now.  I was proud of her then . . .I am proud of her now.

Happy Birthday, sweet daughter . . . you are “My Brown-Eyed Girl.”