In Big Ways . . . and in Small Ways

. . . was printed on the front of the small card that came in today’s mail, and that peeked my interest. The return address on the envelope was one of the cottages at South Texas Children’s Home and that always completely grabs . . . and holds . . . my attention! I love that place; I love the wonderful folks who work there; and I treasure the kids who dwell there. It is my high honor to serve on the Board for the Ministries Division of that wonderful organization. I am unable to articulate what is in my heart for that delightful place of love, nurture, guidance, shelter, and warmth that stands tall in a broken world. One of the billboards for the home speaks out to those who struggle to simply exist in this broken world of dashed hopes and broken promises with the simple, yet profound message: “We can help until things get better!” What an offer of love and hope to an abandoned mom with several kids she simply can’t properly care for at the moment . . . who simply needs a little help . . . a hand up . . . and a safe harbor for her precious children while she tries to find her way again.

The Home is located in Pettus . . . or Mineral . . . or Beeville (depending on where one is from). The Home is so absolutely special and what happens there is so heartwarming that all of the folks in a large geographical area claim it.

The card was from the house-parents and the boys who live as a family in one of the cottages. Last month following the Board meeting, I was privileged to have dinner with those house-parents and their kids. What a precious time that always is for me. I love being involved in the Board meetings and pray that I can help, in some small way, to offer suggestions that are helpful to the business affairs, operations, and policies and procedures of the Home, but my real heart there is for the kids. As I sit there and enjoy dinner with them, I know what is going on in their hearts and minds. They have been told to be themselves, yet to also be on their best behavior . . . “as a Board Member will be present.” Little do they know who I really am . . . a guy who as a kid could have very easily been right where they are today. I never lose sight of that truth . . . and I am thankful for the Father’s faithfulness and provision . . . and for a strong, faith-filled, loving Mother who stood in the gap . . . during times I am not even sure how she managed . . . but she did!

I know something about kids. I really know something about kids from lower-income families. I have spent 40 years in affordable housing and 30 of those years as a trainer/consultant for government housing projects (HUD), working from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Anchorage, Alaska, and from L.A. to New York City. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and in spite of the ugliness, I have seen up close and personal, I know that the same basic heart beats within every kid. Every one of them wants to be loved, respected, and treated with some measure of honor and dignity. If they don’t get that and are abused, they learn to fight . . . and many can do that well . . . it is called survival. Kids have an amazing ability to fit into a hierarchy . . . either for good or bad, they require love, or at least acceptance, and a place to fit into, and they will find that . . . even within a street-gang, if necessary. That is what STCH does so beautifully . . . it provides that place . . . along with a large dose of love and acceptance and positive reassurance.

I also know that all kids love sugar, so as I hang out with them, I get them to laughing, telling me about themselves (kids love this sort of interest), and soon I ask the table how many of them enjoy a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream. Of course, they all do, so I ask their permission to treat the entire cottage family to a Blue Bell night. That is never a split decision vote.

Today’s card was letting me know that they loved their Blue Bell night . . . and they really appreciate me caring about and taking a personal interest in them. They also mentioned that they still have enough money left over for several more Blue Bell nights. That pleases me greatly.

As we approach Christmas, will you do anything to help kids like these STCH kids? You have to know that as they lay in bed, alone in the dark of night and worry over their separated and scattered family, and miss their mommy . . . that their little hearts ache. I hold onto the strong belief that they find some measure of comfort in knowing that there are some folks out there who really care. I know that when life has gotten difficult for me, I found comfort in that knowledge.

The great Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 9:6 these blessed words: “For unto us, a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He wrote those beautiful words to a broken and hurting world . . . filled with broken promises, shattered dreams, dashed hopes, and struggling and dysfunctional families. That great promise encouraged God’s people through both good and bad times . . . over a long period of time.

Then, on that night of nights . . . on that star-lit night over that small and remote city . . . a baby boy was born in a barn . . . on the outskirts of that little town . . . and that baby was God keeping His promise! Aren’t you glad that God keeps His promises? I certainly am. It inspires me and gives me hope and a reason to rejoice.

The world is still filled with dysfunctional families and broken promises – even today. Tragically, broken hearted, troubled, and confused kids are the by-product of all of that. Sometimes someone asks me, “Why does a loving God permit that?” My reply is always, “He doesn’t . . . we allow it . . . in spite of the truth that He asked us not to allow it.” He commanded us to “love ye one another, even as I have loved you.” Love demands action . . . what will you do?

Is His Proposal Really that Far-Fetched?

The free, civilized world is at war tonight . . . and that war is with a frightening and formidable enemy. An enemy who knows no boundaries . . . who follows no acceptable or respected protocol of war. This enemy gets far outside the box . . . and in fact uses other nation’s goodness and decency against them. In fact, the USA, which of course is the most powerful nation in the history of the world, is almost helpless in combating this evil enemy . . . because that formidable enemy has amazingly managed to turn our greatest asset into our most serious and crippling liability. That being our commitment to human rights and dignity.

The enemy is radical, black-hearted Muslims who are committed to the proposition of either converting others to their radical belief system . . . or killing them! This enemy has an amazing ability to brainwash its disciples and turn them into killing machines. These confused people will strap bombs onto themselves and blow up buildings filled with non-combatants. They will arm themselves with high-powered weapons and commit mass-public-murder, knowing they will have to die in the exercise of their evil deeds.

Our nation protects religious liberties and religions; thus, these murderers hide behind the cloak of our goodness. The matter is ever more confusing in that the current President of the USA publicly claims to be a practicing Christian, but actually took a Muslim name. The issue is further confused by his having removed the American flag from behind the podium from which many previous Presidents have addressed the American people and replaced it with a Muslim prayer cloth. Many of his comments relative to the Muslim religion are most troubling and confusing. As Commander-in-Chief, many of his policies are also troubling and confusing. His execution of this nation’s response to the war are confusing. Most experts of warfare say that very little is actually being done, in spite of the fact that he is spending a king’s ransom. Russia has recently become increasingly involved in the war effort. That nation is not troubled by many of the things that inhibit the USA, and they give little recognition of that evil religion or those who practice it. We have actually seen our President be far more critical of Russia for its aggressive actions against the enemy than he is against the enemy itself, in spite of the fact that the evil enemy has murdered many Americans. I am not able to verify a number of reports, but this President has actually said something along the lines of, “In the event the political tides turn against the Muslim world, I personally will stand with the Muslims.” As stated, I can’t be certain that he actually said that, but my gut feeling is that he did say it and that is where his sympathies lie. In fact, the current President has called for our nation to offer safe haven for thousands of young men from war-torn Syria . . . which is troubling for many knowledgeable people. The question is asked, “Why will the refugees only be young military-aged males . . . no women and children included?” Many declare this simply as a troop transfer onto a new battle front and say it is a terrible trick in that they manage to get us to pay for the troop transport and the cost of upkeep.

Just this week an individual running for the office of President made a bold statement that the USA would be prudent to halt all Muslim immigration until some level of sanity can be achieved in the midst of all of this confusion. The liberals went nuts at the very suggestion. The President marched his talking dummies out and condemned both the suggestion . . . and the candidate. That spokesperson, speaking from a written, pre-approved text, personally attacked the candidate and poked fun at this person’s physical flaws. The bold reply was, “That is not how the USA does things!”

As I look back on our history, I recall the struggle with Iran in the late 1970’s. The USA had a large number of Iranian students living in the country under education visas. After the evil regime of Kommineni attacked the USA embassy in Tehran and took our staff hostage, then liberal, Democratic President Carter did exactly what this candidate suggested. There was no backlash . . . no cry of injustice.

We were living in Beeville at the time. In fact, just down the Hiway from then Bee County College (BCC). BCC, like most Junior Colleges, had a rather large group of students from Iran. As things between the Nations heated up, some of the more radical, militant students called for a “sit-in” protest in the Student Union Building. That sit-in made national news and brought CNN to our little country town. My friend and bird-hunting buddy, Grady Houge, President and founder of BCC, called the Governor and ordered the National Guard to the college to enforce an arrest warrant he had had the District Attorney issue. The officials arrested the students and hauled them off. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, under LBJ, traveled to Beeville to represent those students. That was a different point in time . . . and seemingly everyone pretty much understood the basis for those decisions. I am not sure why it could be true . . . but It Seems to Me . . . the world was just different back then . . . things just made more sense then.

As I recall from reading history, immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and our declaration of war, there was a major effort at rounding up folks of Japanese descent in the USA. It made sense . . . the enemy was amongst us! Do you know that immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Federal government placed Hawaii under Martial Law? Do you know that under Executive Order 9066 there were ultimately some 112,000 people of Japanese heritage who were sent to detention centers until things could be sorted out and determinations made about folks’ loyalties.

What seems to be the problem in today’s struggle is that it is a religious war . . . or more correctly a war by one religion on the rest of the world. As a civilized people, we try to show respect for their religion . . . and even permit them to build their religious edifices on our land. All the while our elected representatives lie through their teeth declaring that “Islam is a peaceful religion.” We have seen enough of what they do to know that just ain’t so.

Why is it unreasonable to take certain precautions about allowing people from that region into the USA? Do you know that it has become a prudent policy for Churches to conduct background checks on all who will work with children? It just seems that background checks are the order of the day. In my business, we wouldn’t even consider leasing an apartment to someone on our waiting list without a credit report/background check.

How is it that the federal government insists on conducting background checks on law-abiding tax payers who simply wish to exercise their Constitutional right to buy a gun, but shudder at the suggestion of checking out Muslims wanting supposed asylum in the USA?

It Seems to me . . . that the call for a halt to permitting Muslims to enter the country may be akin to waiting to close the gate until the mule has already escaped. Let me suggest that you do a google search about the number of Muslims already in the USA . . . do you know that there are so many in some areas that they control city and county governments (check out Detroit—once the auto Capitol of the world)!

Understand I am no fan of the dude who called for the halt in immigration, but I don’t think he is wrong about this issue. Somebody better do something . . . and they better do it pretty quickly. The goofy dude in the Oval Office seems to be on the other guy’s side, and that frightens me for Ali and Abi.

 

A Completely New Man . . .

Some time back I commented herein that I was teaching the Old Testament book, Genesis, in Sunday school. That study is finished and we have moved into the New Testament book of Matthew. The book was written by Matthew, the former tax collector . . . a man who had given up on everything in life . . . and became an agent for the occupying enemy. Tax collectors are commonly referred to in the Bible as Publicans. Here are a few things we know about Matthew:

1. He was a Jew who lived about 2,000 years ago;

2. Because he sold out to the Roman government and became a tax collector, he had to have given up on a number of important things in life. It was simply impossible for a proper-thinking Jewish citizen to turn on his own people and family and impose/collect taxes for the greatly-hated Roman government. The simple fact that he played that role says a great deal about his relationship with others. Truth be told, he had given up on his nation, and simply could not envision her ever again as an autonomous, sovereign nation amongst the nations of the world . . . he had to have believed Israel’s best days were behind her. He had given up on his religion . . . and had come to the dreadful place where he simply could not see God working in his life . . . or in his former congregation. What he did see was a harsh religion being imposed upon poor, simple people by an ever-brutal and demanding leadership. He had given up on his family . . . and his family would have given up on him. He was surely a genuine source of embarrassment and frustration for his family as he brutalized former friends and neighbors to impose and collect taxes. His family were surely embarrassed on an on-going basis as reports of his actions against the people from whom he imposed and collected taxes. In order for him to do this job, he simply had to have lost any emotion about what his family thought of him. This was a man who had become a gangster . . . a heavy-handed thug who was getting rich doing a harsh job that few others were willing to do. The very nature of the office was that he would be hated, and he simply did not care. The money he scraped off for himself was the most important thing in his life;

3. He met Jesus, that compassionate, miracle-working carpenter from Nazareth, and that meeting totally and instantly changed his life . . . forever! He left his position and accepted a call to service by Jesus . . . that would forever change who he was . . . and it would change what he did;

4. He was one of the 12 Disciples who walked and talked with Jesus; and

5. He had a half-brother named James, who was also identified as a Disciple.

From the close of the Old Testament book of Malachi to the opening of the New Testament, we are told was a 400-year period of silence between God and man. Think about that! Our great nation is the most powerful, accomplished, and wealthiest nation in history, and it is only been in existence for about half of that span of time! Four hundred years is a very long time . . . no word from God! But then again, when He spoke . . . He spoke in the most amazing manner possible . . . the announcement of the birth of His son . . . and that was a miracle like the world had never seen. That miracle served as the foundation for many other miracles . . . many other births . . . actually rebirths . . . which would follow. Matthew and the other Disciples were the first . . . and there has been an ever-increasing number of others since. That rebirth is where people who are dead in trespasses and sin become alive in Jesus (John 3: 1 – 18).

If that sad, pitiful man Matthew, who lived so long ago . . . back in that era where faith was difficult and hope was rare . . . could be changed totally and completely . . . from inside out, then the same thing can become true for you, too.

This is the message of Christmas: “For unto us a Savior is born.” Matthew wrote this book, but he didn’t write it about his story; he wrote it about Jesus, and called it “The Good News!”

A Wonderful Miracle . . . viewed from our sophistication today!

One of the Birthday cards I received was extra special (thank you Leslie Knight). On the cover it shows a picture of Jesus standing on the hillside above the sea. Looking down upon the multitude, Jesus was shown holding a fish on one hand and a loaf of bread in his other hand. . . . of course, depicting the feeding of the multitude with the lad’s sack lunch.

As the crowd looked up, there were three bubbles above from individuals suggesting comments being made. The comments were, as follows:

1. One fellow, looking at the fish sad, “I can’t eat that, I am a Vegan”;

2. A man in the crowd asked, “Has that fish been tested for Mercury?” and

3. A lady in the crowd asks, “Is that bread gluten-free?”

I chuckled as I read the card, but it made me think, too. It seems to me . . . our culture has really become quite confused, and that could actually take place today! In fact, it actually does take place today . . . but not everywhere!!

When was the last time you simply looked up at the night sky and marveled at the beautiful moon and stars and thought about the truth that the very One who hung them in place and orders them to stay there . . . loves you in an amazing way and wants to hear from you? What does He want to hear from you? Not the goofy junk that is brandished about so often in life. He wants to hear . . .

A heart-felt “Thank You Lord for who you are”;
An honest confession of repentance and genuine invitation for Jesus to dwell in your heart; and
An open declaration, “Lord, I trust you in all things!”

The great hero of my life . . . the man who has taught me more about Jesus than everyone else combined . . . the man who not only taught me about Jesus, but literally enabled me to see Jesus in him, let me know in the past couple of days that he has been diagnosed with stages 3 and 4 cancer. He has elected to forego any treatment. As I thought about him and how much I love and admire him . . . of his great unwavering faith that I have watched time and time again for half of my life . . . I sat across the table from him at lunch this week and looked in his bright blue eyes and I could see the answer . . . his life message . . . without an ounce of waivering . . . “I don’t have to have answers, I just need to hold onto His hand!”

What an inspiration he is for me in this peculiar culture! It actually scares me to think about my life without his wonderful influence. I am a far better man . . . husband . . . Dad . . . teacher . . . servant . . . and friend . . . because of how God used him in my life!

He is by far the greatest man I have ever known . . . I would rather sit in a row-boat in the rough bay and have a bologna sandwich with him for lunch than to have the fanciest of dinners in the White House with any President during my life time! I delight in hearing him talk about Jesus!

I love you, dear friend. I am inspired by your faith and trust . . . but on blended knee, I am pleading on your behalf!

 

 

What a Sweet Day . . .

Yesterday, 12/13/2015, was my 65th birthday! On Friday night Courtney flew in from Big Spring and Chris flew in from Oklahoma City to spend the weekend with Sandy and me. On Saturday, Chris Butler and his wife, Katie, salesman from Ken Batchelor delivered my new Escalade . . . I gave them a complimentary fishing trip with my friend from Slick’s Guide Service for their courtesy in delivering the new car on the weekend. They did pretty well in that it was a breezy day with rain and they managed to box three Redfish in the 25″ range.

Sandy and Courtney had to “run errands” in Corpus on Saturday and I understood the urgency in that they had to have Leslie join them! Any mission that requires three girls is quite serious. On Saturday evening, we went to the Key Allegro Yacht Club for dinner (we carried our own fish in). Blackened Redfish and fried shrimp . . . that is as good as it gets on planet earth . . . the very best of fresh, local seafood and the joy of family!

Sunday morning . . . the actual day . . . I was privileged to teach my Sunday school class. It was a large group. The lesson was Matthew 3, John the Baptist announcing “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” . . . what a sweet lesson . . . what an offer of hope to a confused world.

After Sunday school, the choir performed the annual Christmas cantata . . . and it was amazing! As good as any musical production as I have ever seen . . .In His Presence! What a sweet reminder.

Following the cantata, Sandy and the kids (and a number of my dear friends in the class) hosted a lovely luncheon to celebrate my birthday. I was very moved by everyone’s kind words and expressions of love. I felt quite special.

As we arrived home, Courtney asked Chris and me to pull into her driveway (across the street from our home). As we pulled up. She asked me to use my remote to her garage and open her door as she needed something (I keep her remote in my car). As the door rolled up, I saw the restored ’79 Sting Ray sitting there shining like a new penny! What a thoughtful daughter she is. As everything settled down and Sandy and I quietly sat alone last night, I told her that I am overwhelmed at the love and kindness with which the Lord has surrounded me. It is far better than I deserve!

This morning as I sat at the breakfast table and enjoyed my coffee, I opened the stack of birthday cards Sandy had arranged for me. As I read through them, I chuckled some, felt a lump in my throat several times, and even dried a few tears away.

In this age of technology, with social media and all, I was overwhelmed at all of the gestures of kindness and well wishes from so many across the country.

I am a blessed man . . . the Lord has smiled upon me and shown His favor in my life . . . that is best evidenced by the people He has so lovingly placed in my life!

 

The Most Special Season of the Year . . .

Today’s blog post is a copy of my annual Christmas bonus letter (2015) to my employees.

December 8, 2015

Dear Friend and Fellow Laborer:

My friend, very respectfully and politely, asked me, “Sir, can you show me in the Holy Bible where it says that Jesus was born on December 25th?” I told my friend that I could not, because the Bible simply does not say that. He smiled and asked me, “Then, why do you celebrate Jesus’ birthday on that day?” Please understand, my friend is a very polite man and was sincere in his questions . . . he was simply asking questions his religion has taught him to ask. Sincere questions for which he sadly does not know the answers. For my friend and those of his cult, they are simply questions they believe support their beliefs. I fear they are not seeking honest answers as much as they want confirmation of their own teachings. That is a danger of religion!

I enjoyed telling my friend that I do not celebrate a day . . . I celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ! I told him that I thank God for looking down upon our hopeless estate and sending His precious son Jesus to save us! I don’t know on what day of the calendar year that blessed event actually occurred, and frankly I am not even sure that even matters. Society, long ago, settled on 12/25 and put that date aside on our calendar . . . and I delight in joining with the free-world in celebrating the birth of Jesus . . . a miracle of love, grace, and mercy.

A real danger of blind devotion to religious doctrine and dogma is that it just might get in the way of discovering Jesus . . . the Savior. I hope that you will pause this season . . . and focus on Jesus . . . not on all of the additional things that traditionally accompany the Christmas celebration. The Savior is born . . . think on that! If you can see and understand who Jesus is, you have been blessed and empowered to see! That warrants worship and praise!

Christmas is the season we follow God’s example of giving . . . and in that example we share gifts with those we love and appreciate. Enclosed please find a check payable to you as an expression of my love and appreciation for you and your family. I sincerely appreciate what you do for the company. I trust this gift will help your family have a little sweeter Christmas.

God Bless each of you!
Johnny L. Melton
President, Mid-Coast Properties

Gun Ownership . . .

I am a born-again Christian. I am a Baptist. I am a Texan. I am a 7th-generation Texan and about the same as a Baptist! I am a law-abiding, peace-loving, God-fearing man. I am a former Democrat who was forced to turn away from my family’s beloved party in the early 1980’s. I watched with a broken heart as the old-time party of “the working man” sold its soul to the fringe groups in order to become the “all-inclusive party.” I watched in shock as Party officials invited homosexuals, environmentalists, abortion-on-demand advocates, and a host of other fringe, radical, militant groups into the Party . . . all the while casting aside all of the beliefs, values, and principles that were once so very important to us all . . . those things that made us Americans. You might read this and claim it as just not being true, but I want you to know that I was a young guy from Burnet County and was an extremely proud appointee of the then-President, Jimmy Carter, a Southern Democrat. I loved President Carter; I loved the Democratic Party. I traveled in a chartered plane from Austin to D. C., along with Governor Mark White, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Sam Houston Johnson (brother of LBJ), and Congressman JJ “Jake” Pickle in a 757 filled with other proud Democrats, to stand alongside Jimmy and Rosalyn as he was inaugurated! Most everyone on that plane was pretty certain that as a bright, hard-working young Democrat, I had a pretty bright future in the Democrat Party of Texas. I share that to help you understand that the decision I made was no easy decision . . . it was painful and costly . . . but I was backed up against my principles. I hope and pray that my principles will always prevail over my personal ambitions and finances. I am not even addressing the cost that my decision had in my relationship with my Dad. I hate to admit it, but the simple truth is that good man that he was, my Dad just wasn’t intelligent enough to connect the dots and see what the Party had done. It pained me to see and hear my Dad support and brag on that old, ignorant, toothless fag Barney Frank . . . that simpleton was the biggest homosexual in D. C., and my Dad could not see the truth of it because he was blinded in his ignorant loyalty to the Party that had abandoned him! You can be sure that my old Pappy would not have been caught dead out in public with that bum.

As a man of all of the things identified above, I fully believe the Constitution absolutely provides each and every one of us the right to buy, keep, and own guns. I fully believe that Constitutional right allows for such ownership on the basis of self-defense for myself, my family, my home, my nation, my Church, and my neighbors . . . and even against my own government, in the event it ever became necessary. I believe in gun ownership . . . and I exercise my right to own guns. That was just one of the things I saw under attack in the Party.

There is an ever-increasing call for the abolishment of that Constitutional right, along with the passage of radical, new laws that would prohibit any such right. That charge is increasingly being promoted by the current President. It seems that he simply cannot talk without bringing that foolishness up for public debate.

I not only believe in my right to do so, but I also put that belief into practice . . . and I own an assortment of guns. I read an article tonight that said gun ownership has grown significantly under the current President . . . and that FBI records reveal that for the first time in history, the number of guns owned in the USA now exceeds the number of people living in the U. S. The article said that there is currently the greatest volume of background checks for firearm purchases being conducted by the FBI,that has ever existed since background checks have been public law! It seems all of the President’s misdirected and confusing statements have created a real boom for gun manufacturers and sellers in the USA!


Gun laws and gun-free zones simply do not answer the problem society faces. I bet if the States made it a requirement that ever able-bodied adult must attend in a 10-12 hour gun-handling class and then carry a handgun, crime and mass shootings would curtail instantly. I believe an armed and trained citizenry is the answer.

Are you opposed to gun ownership? That is okay with me. I support your right to your opinion. If you disagree with my right to keep and bear arms that is okay, but I will appreciate you just shutting up and keeping your opinions to yourself. That way, when things collapse and war in the streets breaks out, and you come for protection within my ring, I won’t feel so bad providing you with protection.

If you are, however, compelled to shoot off your mouth about your foolish, liberal leanings, go ahead and do so. That just might prove helpful in that if we are ever surrounded by the enemy and forced to make concessions, I won’t need to feel bad about sending you out to debate with those evil dudes over gun violence! So, just smart off and you will be the first one I march out to the bad guys; but hey, I am sure you will be able to convince them!

A New Monetary System . . .

For much of my life I have been warned . . . and on guard for a new monetary system that is said to be coming and will one day replace the dollar. I am shocked this morning to discover that it is not only here, and currently in use alongside the Dollar, but that it has been in use since 2008, and I have been completely unaware of its existence; it is called Bitcoin. The following is copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia:

Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto who published the invention in 2008 and released it as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without needing an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain. The ledger uses bitcoin as its unit of account. The system works without a central repository or single administrator, which has led the U. S. Treasury to categorize bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed. Bitcoin is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. It is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.
Bitcoins are created as a reward for payment processing work in which users offer their computing power to verify and record payments into a public ledger. This activity is called mining and the miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides being obtained by mining, bitcoins can be obtained in exchange for different currencies, products, and services. Users can send and receive bitcoins for an optional transaction fee.
Bitcoin as a form of payment for products and services has grown, and merchants have an incentive to accept it because fees are lower than the 2–3% typically imposed by credit card processors. Unlike credit cards, any fees are paid by the purchaser, not the vendor. The European banking authority and other sources have warned that bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks. Despite a big increase in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin, the cryptocurrency does not have much momentum in retail transactions.
The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media. Criminal activities are primarily centered around black markets and theft, though officials in countries such as the United States also recognize that bitcoin can provide legitimate financial services.
Bitcoin has drawn the support of a few politicians, notably U.S. Presidential candidate Rand Paul, who accepts donations in bitcoin.
I received the following solicitation this morning:
An alternative currency – already in circulation across America – could soon explode in value. As you’re about to discover, it could hand you as much as $56,700 over the next 9-12 months. Some people are already calling it the “next Bitcoin.” And that’s saying a lot.
As you may know, Bitcoin is the digital “cryptocurrency” that has disrupted economies worldwide. It has also made some investors a fortune along the way. Over the course of just three years, Bitcoin’s value skyrocketed more than 1,632,316%. You could have bought $10,000 worth of Bitcoin . . . and exchanged it for $163.2 million (in U.S. dollars) just 36 months later! The value of Bitcoins in circulation has now topped $1.5 billion. No wonder major companies like Dell, Amazon, and Target, all accept Bitcoin as payment.
But here’s what most folks don’t realize. Another currency is poised to upset Bitcoin as the world’s No.1 cryptocurrency. In fact, it’s fast rivalling the dollar for many transactions online. Already, dozens of Wall Street banks including Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon, and Bank of America are amassing positions alongside this currency in their “in house” accounts.
Forbes calls it “profit enhancing.”
Business Insider says it has the potential of “taking over our wallets.”
Bankrate.com says “You can beef up your individual retirement account with it.”
According to our research, this currency is about to boom – worldwide.
One simple investment now could set you up for years. (And I can show you how to get started for less than $20 bucks!)
It Seems to me . . . that the world is changing before our very eyes . . . and I am not sure it is necessarily for the best . . . but I am pretty sure that most of us just don’t understand much of it! Get real . . . a monetary system that you can only hold on a 2″ X 3″ strip of plastic?
But wait . . . it seems that I did read something in the book of Revelation that might have mentioned something kind of like this . . . but then again, I didn’t really get that either!

 

Does it really mean something . . . or is it simply smoke and mirrors?

I receive a number of sales flyers everyday identifying real estate being put on the market . . . the bulk of which comes as e-mail. I have bought enough real estate in Texas over the past 30 years to be recognized in most sales circles as a player . . . a potential buyer. I like kicking tires and looking at deals being offered. I have always loved the hunt . . . the challenge . . . making the offer . . . then negotiating . . .then fine-tuning—and the knowing . . . and ultimately the victory in the conquest. The Lord has smiled upon me and blessed me with His favor and I have really made some pretty nice acquisitions . . . some that still amaze me! I must confess that I do love it . . . and the high of it all. I actually think I am pretty darn good at the negotiating and making a deal come together. The truth be told, I am oftentimes dumbfounded at how it all comes together. Those are the times when I know it was the Lord at work, just doing what He does as He watches over me and mine.

I am, more and more, seeing a new term/phrase being used on deals offered . . . and it makes me scratch my head. The term/phrase is “value added.” I am not sure what it means and that bugs me.

I do understand that Added Value equals the difference between the price of the finished product/service and the cost of the inputs involved in making it. So, I think “added value” is the increase in value that a business creates by undertaking the production process. I get that principle in the field of manufacturing, but not in rental property. If I purchase a strip-center and I can lease space for retail and commercial offices, the rent is dictated by the location, the lease costs in the area for similar space, and the draw of foot and volume of traffic to the site. An example might be a Walmart in the area that tends to draw folks in large numbers. That is traditionally referred to as an anchor tenant – in that it draws traffic for the other lease-holders. But the notion of there being a “value added” . . . simply because the roof does not leak when it rains makes no sense to me. If the roof leaks when it rains, the property is not desirable and to be leased would require a favorable rent price that motivates one to rent it “as is” and tolerate the leak when it does rain. I get that, but I don’t get the notion of there being justification for a bump in the rent . . . simply because the roof does not leak.

I have asked a number of brokers what the term means, and have yet had one offer a clear, concise definition. I have sure heard some goofy stuff. Whatever the term is supposed to mean, I believe it is greatly overused.

I suspect it is simply a term intended to make a buyer believe that he is getting something extra in the deal . . . something that is just too good to be explained. Of course, that is certainly desirable, but sadly is just not true. Of course, there are things that are desirable in a rental property, and those things usually dictate the purchase price, as well as the lease price. If an apartment complex needs a face-lift or a new paint job, I need to consider that need and the cost of that task in any offer I might make. It is goofy business to add an implied extra value simply because a potential problem does not actually exist.

I operate on a pretty simply logic that includes:

1. If it appears to be too good to be true . . . it most likely is too good to be true;
2. Be fair in your dealings . . . the Lord is keeping books;
3. You rarely gets what you deserve . . . you get what you negotiate;
4. The amount financed ought to be such that it can be amortized from the rental income over a 10- to 12-year period;
5. Keep the rental income working for the property’s future . . . meaning don’t take from the property just to increase your standard of living today;
6. Anyone can do business with a group one time . . . but you have to be honorable and decent to get back to the table a second time; and
7. A good name is better than money in the bank!

“Value added” . . . ? I don’t know, but I will continue to inquire. Perhaps an old dog can learn a new trick; but then again, it might just be a matter of a savvy old player being able to sniff out the stinky stuff.

 

Ancient Question . . . as old as man Himself . . .

The Banker had a foreclosure house in his inventory and it was like an albatross around his neck . . . the Board was on him at every meeting over that thing. He knew I was new in town, had recently started a business, and that Sandy and I were in a semi-serious house-searching mode. The dude desperately wanted to sale that house to me . . . he had the small, local bank act as the interim lender on this custom house and the borrower defaulted before the permanent lender could take the bank out! I was basically interested because it was a large house located on the Bay and the seller (the bank) was seriously motivated and willing to discount the loan . . . all of the elements of a good deal (which has always been important to me). One afternoon as I made the rental deposit in the bank, he came out of his office and approached me. He pitched the house again. We got in my suburban and drove out to the house to look it over. What a dynamite location . . . what a majestic view . . . what an amazing walk around a second-story porch/deck! That is where the beauty ended. The minute we stepped inside the house, all of my internal alarms went off! This was a weird house . . . designed by a super weird person! The rooms were very small and ill-arranged . . . three of those rooms combined would only make an average-sized room. As I looked around, I asked the Banker who had designed this mess. He was embarrassed and said the attorney who was the borrower had designed it himself. I chuckled and asked him, “Where is that screwball now?” He said, “The last account I had of him, he was sitting on a mountain-top in a remote area of South America, smoking dope, and trying to figure out who he was . . . and why he was on earth!”

I can’t tell you how that disturbed me . . . I had never encounter anyone that confused about life. I had always had a sense of myself, of my self-worth as a God-created being. I knew exactly why I was here . . . to live in a relationship with God. My struggle had always been in that I simply did not always want to do what I was supposed to do . . . and the simple truth is that I found the low-hanging fruit attractive and had a hard time passing it by without nibbling.

Of course, I did not buy the goofy house, but I have thought about that lawyer quite often. One afternoon while in Boston, I joined a group from my seminar in going to the Boston Fine Arts Museum to see a newly-arrived addition. While there, I saw a most unusual painting that caught my attention and reminded me of that confused lawyer and his peculiar house. The painting was a long, narrow gauged, panoramic view of a large collection of people of many different races, cultures, and time periods standing on a river bank. The painting had a caption of three questions, as follows: Who are we? Where did we come from? And where are we going? Again, I began to think about man’s confusion to what I found pretty easy to accept and understand. Then it occurred to me that the issue was primarily a question of faith. I mean this is a generation that has largely been taught Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in the public-school system . . . simply meaning that one cannot be certain where man came from, nor where he is going. The result of that teaching is simply a generation that is uncertain about basic issues.

As part of that life experience, my Pastor at the time, Charles Fake, at FBC-Rockport, a man whom I love, respect, and hold in the highest possible regard, taught a series of lessons from the Psalms. He has always had a unique way of making me think about things. In that series, he taught the 8th Chapter of Psalm, in which David – that man after God’s own heart – asked a powerful question that, on the surface, seems akin to the questions about man’s source of origin, purpose, and destiny. In Verses 4 – 6, David asks, “Who is man that God is even mindful of him.” In that Psalm, David writes and wonders about the vastness of the moon and stars displayed in the night time sky and wonders how it is that seemingly insignificant, and small, mankind can factor so significantly into the consideration of God in all of His glory and greatness. David did not—even for a second—question from where he came, his purpose, or where he was ultimately headed. He simply wondered what it was about such a magnificent and awesome God that enabled Him to look from such a high, lofty, and powerful position out there in that great unknown and motivate Him to look low and then reach down with a passionate feeling for man and his well-being. I am satisfied that a powerful argument could be made that David, as a young shepherd boy, sat out on a ledge on lonely nights and looked up at the galaxies and felt pretty small; and, in that, developed a sense of awe at the greatness of God. David had a strong and abiding faith that enabled and empowered him as a young lad to rise high and stand above every man of his nation and face and destroy a formidable enemy. That strength of character does not dwell in the inter parts of a person confused about who he is . . . or questions if God is really out there. That strength exists only in a person who is of strong faith.
Abraham Lincoln said: “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.” I believe I know what Lincoln meant when he made that statement.

After years of thinking about this issue of man and his confusion about who he is, and his quest to try and figure out life . . . and God, I am confident that God has a purpose and is pulling for man to find faith and take hold of it . . . to taste His grace, mercy, and peace . . . and learn to live in God’s favor.

It Seems to me . . . that life’s challenges and mysteries are not supposed to paralyze us . . . but rather are meant to help us discover who we are and identify and settle into our place.

Have you figured it out? I hope that you have!