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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CHRISTMAS...AN AMAZING HOLIDAY!

      A few weeks ago I blogged about Christmas. My thesis was that Ebenezer Scrooge had a valid point when he spoke to his nephew of his disdain for Christmas. I spoke out complaining about the rampant commercialism that has come to represent the way Christmas is celebrated in modern times. In response I became founder and president of the E.S.A.S. (Ebenezer Scrooge Admiration Society) I have an official coffee mug.

     On Christmas Eve SWMBO and I attended a worship service at the church building from 11:30 pm, Christmas Eve, to 12:45 am, Christmas Day. I was struck by the simple faith and devotion my fellow congregants displayed on this most holy night. 
     My thoughts soon centered upon our God. It occurred to me that when you look around at the vastness of the universe with its many galaxies strewn across the cosmos you cannot help but awe. I thought that when you consider the precise complexity of the simple cell you cannot help but be impressed by the design and the Designer. I further thought that when you consider that time was created by that same Designer, you cannot help but admire and be humbled by the mind that conceived of the idea.
     When I reflected upon the God who created all that had been created, I was awestruck by the idea that He would enter time in the form of a human child and live a life as one of His created ones. It was like an artist entering into one of their paintings or perhaps a movie maker entering into one of their films and becoming one of the characters. Amazing stuff!
     I am further awestruck at the concept that such a infinitely powerful God would care a whit about human beings, much less experience life as one.
     Even more stunning to me is that this God desires a relationship with us humans. He doesn't force His affections upon us. He gives us the option of freely choosing to respond to His love or to reject it.
     That is what I believe Christmas should be all about! Our God was born to a virgin and her carpenter husband. He lived a perfectly sinless life and was nailed to a Roman cross to die for our sins because He loves us. That is what Christmas is all about! 
     Therefore, despite the fact that it is a good thing to give and receive gifts at Christmas time, that should not be the primary focus of the day.
      In conclusion, I think that Christmas is an amazing holiday for what it says about God and the love of God. I believe that is what should be emphasized and celebrated!

Friday, December 9, 2011

CHRISTMAS...WHAT A CONCEPT!

"If I could work my will, every idiot that walked around with Merry Christmas on his lips
 should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart"
Ebenezer Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol"

     People who do not possess any Christmas spirit are often referred to as being a "Scrooge." In his story, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens has his main character venting his spleen about Christmas. Scrooge is visited by his nephew, Fred, and during that visit Scrooge questions the propriety of the way Christmas is observed. Scrooge see's Christmas as a vulgar, commercial holiday, where people spend money they can ill afford, to purchase things that they don't need. Dickens describes Scrooge's motives as being due to avarice, bitterness and a general disdain for enjoying the blessings that life has to offer. 
     I believe that Dickens, through Scrooge, has a valid point. As I write this, Christmas is some sixteen days away. I generally don't get the Christmas spirit until sometime between December 10th to December 15th. I am the founder and president of the E.S.A.S. (Ebenezer Scrooge Admiration Society.) We even have an official coffee mug...

The Official Mug of the E.S.A.S.
     Christmas was originally a holy day set aside to celebrate the God of the Bible becoming human through the birth of the Christ Child. It is this Child who was destined to redeem man from sin. On the day of His birth, an angel appeared to some shepherds watching their sheep in a field and announced the birth proclaiming "Behold I bring tidings of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord....Glory to God in the highest and Peace to men upon whom His favor rests." On this holy day the promised Messiah was born. The liberation of man from the oppression of sin was imminent. In a few short decades, the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world by sacrificing Himself on a Roman cross. That is what Christmas is supposed to be about, in my humble opinion.
     Now, it is not politically correct to wish someone "Merry Christmas" for fear of causing offense. Now, schoolchildren may not sing Christmas Carols in schools anymore for fear of causing a lawsuit to be brought against the school for violating the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Now, displaying Nativity Scenes on public property is forbidden for much the same reason.
     Christmas merchandise in stores is put out on display earlier and earlier every year. This year some stores, for the first time, opened their doors with special sales on Thanksgiving day to give people a head start on Christmas shopping.
     It seems to me that as the years pass us by, Christmas becomes more about the commercial aspects of the season and less about the "Reason for the Season!"
      Therefore, I respectfully submit to you that Ebenezer Scrooge has a valid point to make, notwithstanding his personal motives in making it. So, at least for a few more days, I raise my coffee mug in toast and loudly proclaim the motto of the E.S.A.S...."Christmas...Bah! Humbug!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

KITCHEN DEMOLITION UPDATE!

Kitchen cabinets pre-demolition
     You may recall that several months ago I demolished our kitchen to address a problem of sagging cabinets.  The reason why they were sagging is that the top of a couple of the cabinets got wet and disintegrated.
Mid Demolition

Post Demolition
     The demolition went fairly easy and was uneventful. Instead of re-hanging the cabinets though, SWMBO and I decided to go another way. We decided to leave the peninsula open and install some cabinets on the counter, against the wall by the sink. 
     You may recall my earlier Blog post where I described "playing light fixture musical chairs." The kitchen fixture was moved to the dining room. The dining room fixture was moved to the peninsula. A new ceiling fan/light fixture was installed in the kitchen. The most difficult task with moving the lights was placing three light switches where there were formerly, two.
     One of the most difficult things about the peninsula remodel of the project was installing the drywall over the peninsula, plastering and re-painting.
Drywall work in progress.
     The finished product came out better than I imagined. I constructed an Appliance Garage to be installed under one of the cabinets. SWMBO has a toaster and an electric water heater/pot that she uses to heat up water for tea.
Finished Product! The appliance garage is behind the red curtain
 underneath the cabinet to the right, near the sink.
     SWMBO is happy with the finished product! She is responsible for the final aesthetic enhancements. She did a nice job! We make a great team! It took a long while, but now...it is done! Enjoy your day everyone!

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE TACTICAL ADVANTAGE OF "RETREAT!"

"Judging by Church attendance, Heaven won't be crowded with men."
      If the above quote is in fact true, why is it true? Why doesn't the Gospel resonate with men today in 21st century America? Why are women more disposed to listening to the Gospel? I do not believe that the quote is accurate and that the Gospel does not resonate with men, today.
     Last weekend I had the occasion to spend three days at Camp Ganderbrook in Raymond, ME. I was joined by about 150 other Christian men from all around New England.  There were old men, young men, middle aged men, military combat veterans, laborers, construction workers, computer geeks, and all manner of men.
Camp entrance!

Director's Cabin/Cook's Cabin/Infirmary & Dormitory


     The purpose of the gathering was the annual Men's Retreat. Every year we withdraw from the pressures of our busy lives and gather at the camp to focus more intently on spiritual matters. It's a wonderful time of seeing old friends and meeting new people of like mind from all over New England. It's wonderful to share our stories with each other. I always find it interesting and enjoyable to learn how people became the person that they became. That's one reason why I enjoy reading biographies.
     The speaker this year was a man named Jim McGuiggan. Mr. McGuiggan is an excellent teacher, a master teacher, with many years experience. I say this because I left the camp with more questions than answers. Jim's lessons provoked serious thought. His lessons raised questions that will require further Bible study and further thought. His lessons brought a fresh perspective to the subject matter. His lessons were not conducive to note taking but were nonetheless, well crafted and well presented. 
      Food, coffee, dessert and other drinks were plentiful. No one went away hungry or thirsty. The singing was heavenly! (Pun intended)
     We live in a world where life is hard. The pressures of providing for a family in today's economy are more intense then ever. Each day we men battle to fulfill our obligations to our God, our families, and our Churches. It is healthy and proper for us to "retreat" from those obligations for a few days to recharge our batteries and to refocus ourselves on what's truly important. When we return to out normal lives we are better men, better fathers, better husbands and better Christians for having taken the time to do so.
     If you are a Christian man, you owe it to yourself to attend the Men's Retreat. Plan now to take the time off next September to do so. The next retreat will be hosted by the Churches from the State of Vermont. You will not be sorry that you went. 
     You do not have to be a Cristian to attend the Retreat. If you are not a Christian man, you owe it to yourself to become a Christian. You will not be sorry! If I may be of service in that regard, please let me know.  See you all next year at Ganderbrook! God bless all of you! Enjoy your day! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

I LOVE WOMEN...ONE IN PARTICULAR!

     I make no secret of the fact that I am a Christian. I also have not been shy about proclaiming that as a Christian I have been lavishly blessed. One such blessing is that I have had the privilege of associating with people who are loving, kind, and compassionate. These people perform acts of kindness not because of what they might get out of it, but rather out of real altruism. 
     Another blessing that I have received as a Christian is that I have seen the best of women. I love women for all that they are! I have seen women unselfishly sacrifice themselves for their children, their spouses, their friends and even strangers. Women possess abilities and traits that complements, not competes with, the abilities and traits found in men.
     In the beginning God created man and placed him in a garden paradise. It wasn't too long before God saw that man was not good alone so He made a help mate suitable for him...woman!
     Some people have suggested that the Bible teaches women are inferior to men or condones treating women as inferior to men. Nothing is further from the truth. The Bible tells men to "Love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25) A few verses later men are told "So husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies." (Ephesians 5:28)   Further, the Apostle Paul clearly states that all people are equal in Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ." (Galatians 3:28) Clearly, Paul is teaching that men and women are equal before God. If women are considered to be inferior it is because of the teachings of men, not God!
     I have personally experienced the best of women, one woman in particular. I have been married to SWMBO for over 39 years. In that time I have experienced the best that a woman, through marriage, has to offer. SWMBO completes me...in the best sense of what that means. She loves me unconditionally. She is quick to forgive me when I screw up; and let me hasten to add that she has had ample practice on that score. She motivates me to be the best man, the best Christian man that I can be. I try every day to love her as Christ loves the Church and as I love myself.
     This past weekend I had the privilege of serving in the kitchen at the annual Gander Brook Lady's Retreat in Raymond, Maine. Women come from churches all over New England to spend some time away from the cares of the world, to draw closer to God, to encourage and teach each other, and to become more of what God created them to be. They are special women, indeed!
     I love women, one woman in particular! I pray God's blessing upon them!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HURRICANE IRENE REDUX!

     Well, as I write this there are still many people who have yet to get their power restored. SWMBO and I are one of the very fortunate ones who did not lose power at all during the storm. I am grateful that we did not sustain any damage or injuries as well.
     There has been a fair amount of criticism about how the weather folks reported on the storm. Some say that the storm was hyped way out of proportion to the facts. Others ascribe reasons for the hype as collusion between the media and the hardware and/or grocery stores.
     Here's my take on the matter. I believe that the weather people were in a no-win situation. If they had under played and under reported the potential hazards associated with the storm and there had been greater loss of life, greater property damage, etc, they would have been soundly condemned. There would have been demands for an investigation as to why people who were in the projected path of the storm were not better informed.
     As it was, there were some places where no amount of preparation would have prevented the catastrophe that did occur. The fact is, if flood waters are coming at you, unless you can move all your property out of the way, you are going to sustain damage.
     Some places from North Carolina to the northern New England states, experienced flooding the likes of which have not been seen in over a hundred years. Bridges were washed out. Roads that had formerly been spared were washed out. A case in point, residents in upstate Vermont became, and still are, stranded when bridges and roads were washed out by the floods. Some neighborhoods in New Jersey are still under water.
     Other locations sustained damage from high winds knocking down trees and power lines. Again, there is little that you can do to prevent a tree from being blown down onto your house or power lines.
     So, even though some of us were extremely fortunate to have escaped sustaining death, injury or severe property damage, others were not so fortunate. Many people have lost everything!
     Was the reporting on Hurricane Irene over hyped? I don't think so! Warnings were issued far enough in advance to provide sufficient time to prepare as well as one could prepare in such circumstances. I'm glad that the technology exists to enable us to be so well informed in such a timely manner.
     Join me in saying prayers for those who have suffered greatly because of the damages caused by Hurricane Irene!

Monday, August 29, 2011

SO...HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND?

   Unless you have been living in a remote cave or are one of the few people in the country who haven't been paying attention there was some meteorological  drama on the east coast this past weekend.
    Hurricane Irene had her way in the Caribbean Ocean, slamming into the island of Hispaniola, you know, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Bahama's causing widespread devastation.   
    Irene then proceeded like a buzz saw up the east coast of the United States, bypassing Florida and heading straight for North Carolina. Irene raked the mid-Atlantic States, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and the New England States causing all kinds of mayhem.
    SWMBO and I kept a weathered eye (pun intended) on the projected path of the storm. It was not looking good for New Hampshire. So SWMBO and I began making preparations to get ready for the storm and it's anticipated effects. The weather talking-heads were predicting that Irene would be a Category 1 hurricane, that is, torrential rain and 75 mph + winds when it rolled over New Hampshire. That meant wide spread power outages and flooding. 
     I checked the gas and oil on the chainsaw. I started the chainsaw and let it run for a few minutes. I next refueled and checked the oil on the emergency power generator. It started as designed and so I let it run for a few minutes too. Next was making sure we had a sufficient number of flashlights, spare batteries, candles, oil lamps and lamp oil, and liquid propane for the barbecue grill.
    On Saturday SWMBO & I made sure that we had enough water for drinking and sanitation purposes and food to last us and Becke the wonder dog for a few days.
    Getting back to the generator, the instructions say that the generator must not be operated inside the house and must be at least ten feet from any door or window. The instructions also say that the generator cannot be exposed to the elements such as rain or snow. Well it seems to me that the times you might need a generator the elements are gonna be the proximate cause of the power outage. The generator people want to have it both ways. How did I solve this little dilemma? Observe...



            

...I bought some PVC Piping and joints and constructed a frame. I also obtained a tarp that goes over the frame. The generator sits on a wood pallet with eye bolts at the four corners. The tent goes over the generator and pallet. The tarp is secured to eye bolts in the end caps on the feet of the frame. The tarp is secured to the frame and the frame is secured to the pallet. The tent protects the generator from the elements but should allow sufficient air flow for cooling and dissipating the exhaust gasses.


    How did we make out this past weekend? We survived with no power outage or damage to our home. We did get a lot of rain and moderate wind but we fared well. Others were not so lucky. 
   Throughout the eastern seaboard Hurricane Irene caused billions of dollars worth of damage and took eighteen lives. It caused widespread power outages, about 150,000 customers throughout NH alone and serious flooding in parts of northern NH and Vermont.
         God was gracious once again to SWMBO and me and answered our prayers. I'm here to tell you that the God who answered prayers so long ago still answers prayers today! 
         So how was your weekend?

Monday, August 22, 2011

"CHURCH OF CHRIST" OR "CHURCH OF MAN !" (Continued)

       A while ago I posted a blog entry regarding how to recognize the true Christian Church that was established in the first century AD by the Lord Jesus Christ. While I thought about that blog entry, a question came to mind. When you become a Christian, are you subject to anyone? If you join a "church", are you subject to anyone? If you are, in fact, subject to anyone, who are you subject to and to what extent are you subject to them?
   The New Testament teaches that Jesus is alive and that He is the Head of His church. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was crucified by the Romans at the behest of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead according to those same Scriptures. 
   Jesus was seen by many people over the next forty days. Then, at the appointed time, Jesus ascended into Heaven.
   The fascinating thing about all this is that no where in the New Testament does Jesus say to anyone...
"I am going away for awhile. Until I return, you're in charge."
...It was understood by the writers of the New Testament at the time of their writing that Jesus was alive AND that He was at the head of His Church.
"And He (God) put all things in subjection under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all."  (Ephesians 1:22,23
...This verse tells us that God placed Jesus as head over everything, the church included.
"...but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ." (Ephesians 4:15)
...Paul describes various gifts members of the church were given (V.11-13) but in verse 15 he repeats that Jesus is the head and we are the body. (See also Colossians 1:18; 2:18,19)
   It is clear that Jesus is the head of His church and that we are the body, His members.
   So what does this mean for the 21st Century church? Is Christ still the head of His church today? The unequivocal answer is "Yes!" 
    So this being true, who are these other so-called Christian leaders who you see on the television or hear on the radio and from where do they derive their authority? Think about it!
 
 
 

Friday, August 19, 2011

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS....!

     Do you have any heroes? Are there any people, either currently alive or historical figures, who you strongly respect and admire. If you were to draw up a list of ten people, living or dead, who you would like to share a cup of coffee with and engage in conversation, who would be on your list? 
     One of my heroes is Thomas Jefferson, Patriot, President, Secretary of State, Ambassador, Gentleman Farmer, and so much more. One of the things that got me interested in Mr. Jefferson was his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. It is a most impressive use of language on any document, at least, to my mind. 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed." (Emphasis mine)
     The well known passage cited above is from the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Jefferson alludes to self-evident truths, truths that are true on their face. 
     You may recall that when Jesus was standing before Pilate, Jesus told him that He came to earth to bear witness to the truth. Pilate asked Jesus "What is Truth?" (John 18:37,38
     People throughout the ages have been asking that very same question, "What is Truth?" How can we know what is "true?" How can we sift the truth from the incredible amount of information that we are all exposed to on a daily basis?
     Is truth absolute or is it relative? Is it a matter of perspective? If something is "true" is it true for everyone or is it possible for something to be true for me but not true for you?
    I believe that there is such a thing as "objective" truth. I believe that what is "true" for me is "true" for you. Gravity is one such example of what I mean. The other laws of physics are true for everyone. If you are in motion you will remain in motion until acted upon by another force, no matter who you are.
    What you think about the concept of "truth" is immensely important.  When you go to the doctor's office it is imperative that the physician learns the truth of what's ailing you. Serious consequences can follow if he doesn't learn the truth. 
     In future postings I hope to explore the concept of truth and why it is important to learn what the truth is.
     I hope that you have a wonderful day...and that is the truth!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RETIREMENT UPDATE!

   So, how's it going so far? I've been retired since Monday, August 1st, 2011. It still feels like I'm on a routine vacation away from work. I keep thinking that I have work to return to...but I do not. It is a very weird feeling.
    What have I been doing with my new, extended "vacation?" For one thing I have been completing the myriad requisite health insurance forms updating my status as a retiree. 
    For another thing, my beloved SWMBO has been enjoying my presence around the house. She really likes having me home at night! She has a number of home improvement projects she would like taken care of. For instance, SWMBO decided that we "needed" a ceiling fan/light fixture in the kitchen. She also decided that I "needed" to move the light fixture that is currently in the kitchen to the dining room, over the table. What am I going to do with the light fixture that is currently over the dining room table? I'm glad that you asked! SWMBO said that I "need" to move that fixture to the center of the soffit above the counter peninsula located between the kitchen and the dining room. So far that project is two thirds complete.
    Some days I get up and drive SWMBO and Becke the Wonder Dog to work in the morning and then I pick them up after work in the afternoon. This gives me more time to spend with SWMBO. I have been spending the interim time running errands and completing tasks around the house such as mowing the lawn, working on the projects, etc. 
    One of the things that I have always enjoyed, in fact it is one of my favorite things to do, is going out to eat with SWMBO. I absolutely love going to a restaurant and sharing a meal with her. She is a terrific dinner companion. We have been out to eat a couple of times since I retired. 
    This week I am helping out at the church. This week we are having Vacation Bible School so I pitch in and help as needed. 
    I still don't have a clue as to what new career I am going to pursue after my extended vacation is over but I am certain that something will present itself.
    So that's the latest update! May God bless you all!  Have a great day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

WILL THERE BE MOOSE TO SING TO IN HEAVEN?

     Today, the Manchester Church of Christ is mourning the loss of one of our Church Elders, Duane Coss, after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Duane is survived by his wife, Darby, two adult daughters, Kara and Kaitlin, and a grandson, Asher.
     Several church members have been keeping vigil with Darby and Duane at the Hospice House in Merrimack, NH. Darby was kept busy with stories and remembrances. The church members made sure that Darby ate and took care of herself as she was taking care of Duane. I provided some comic relief as is my habit. By the way, the Hospice House staff are an amazing group of compassionate people who made a difficult time a little less so.
     A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending the annual Ganderbrook Men's Retreat in Raymond, Maine, with Duane. The men's retreat is an annual meeting of Christian men from the various Churches of Christ from around New England. It's a time of fellowship, learning, singing, prayer and devotion. It's also a time of great fun and laughs. Duane has an unique, infectious laugh.


Entrance to the camp!


    The center of Camp Ganderbrook is the main lodge. The lodge is where we have our meals, hold our worship services and class sessions. There is a large field stone fireplace inside the lodge with twin hearths. Over each hearth is the mounted head of a large moose.  
The tiara is a leftover from the camping season.
     Before we eat our meals, we gather on the porch of the lodge, weather permitting. If it's too cold, we gather inside the lodge, standing around the fireplace near the door. 
    On one such occasion, I entered the lodge to find the men standing in a semi-circle, all focused on the moose head over the hearth, singing one of our traditional church songs. I stood next to Duane and asked him "Why are we singing to the moose?" As an Elder in the church I figured that he would know. He answered "I have no idea."  
     I was a little taken aback by his response and sarcastically asked if he had a problem with the perceived idolatry? We shared a hearty laugh and from that moment on the SCMW was born. What's SCMW you ask? It's the Society of Christian Moose Worshippers. We laughed about that all weekend and beyond.
     I love Duane Coss. He is an exemplary Christian man, husband and father. I shall miss his mature Christian wisdom. I shall miss his laugh. I will miss his sense of humor. I am thankful that Duane was a part of my life for a season. 
     Until we meet again, God bless you Duane Coss!

Friday, August 12, 2011

INVASION OF THE GAGETS! ! !

My beloved SWMBO absolutely loves gadgets. I call her my "Gadget Queen." She loves every type of gadget imaginable, mechanical, kitchen, electronic or other type. If it's a gadget and does something, anything, useful in a cute or unusual way, SWMBO wants it.
SWMBO is not content to only get gadgets for herself, she feels compelled to make me her "Gadget King."
It all started way back when, when we bought our first computer, a Commodore 64. We had lots of fun with it even though we didn't have internet access. I don't think the internet was even available back then. We bought a dot matrix printer so we can word process. Next came the Commodore 128 and we were living large then. Around that time the internet began to be accessed by the general public. Do you remember CompuServe?
We next bought an Apple MacIntosh computer. It had megabytes as opposed to kilobytes of memory and processing speeds heretofore unheard of! With floppy disks and auxiliary drives storage capacity was virtually, pun intended, limitless. After that came the I-Mac with much more memory and much faster processing speeds. We have been Mac Users ever since.
One birthday I surprised my beloved SWMBO with an I-Pod Nano with 4-gigabytes of capacity. She absolutely loved it. It wasn't too long though until she exceeded the storage capacity with music downloads from I-Tunes. So I bought her a bigger I-Pod called the I-Pod Touch with 8 Gigabytes of storage capacity. The Touch was also able to run something called "Applications" or "Apps." These Apps ranged from word processing to a multitude of games.
SWMBO decided that I needed to upgrade from an I-Pod Nano to and I-Pod Touch, too. She dragged me, kicking and screaming into her gadget world.
Then a couple of years ago we decided to buy each other something called an I-Pad with 32 gigabytes of memory. More capacity for an ever increasing number of Apps, many of which are free and compatible with the I-Pod Touch. As a matter of fact I am writing this blog entry on my I-Pad.
I am told that there is more computing power in the I-Pad than what was used to launch the Apollo Spacecrafts. The mind boggles at the amount of technology that is available to the average person. The mind boggles further at what technology will become available to the average person in the near future. I am sure my Gadget Queen will keep us on the cutting edge!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

TWO HOURS INSTALLATION TIME...YEAH RIGHT!

   My beloved spouse, SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed), decided she needed a ceiling fan installed in the kitchen in place of the light fixture that is there. Last night SWMBO and I went shopping at Lowes and Home Depot. She found what she wanted at Lowes. She decided that she found what she wanted at Lowes while we were at Home Depot.


SWMBO'S choice


 The side of the box and the instructions inside the box indicated that installation time would be two hours...Yeah, Right! And so the project begins with the dismantling of the old fixture.
Old Fixture. Note mounting bracket!

New mounting bracket!
...The old fixture was reasonably easy to remove. Then came the time to install the new mounting bracket. That's where I hit my first snag. The screws I removed from the old fixture were too short to attach the new fixture. So a trip to the hardware store. Fortunately, I was able to obtain longer mounting screws. So, the new bracket and new fixture motor install easily.
New motor & housing w/fan paddles!
...The new fan and light fixture are now installed and to my utter amazement...upon the circuit being turned back on...work! 


Ta-Daaaah!
...SWMBO is well pleased! She now has her ceiling fan in the kitchen! It only took me four hours. Two hours installation...yeah right!
   Enjoy your day everyone!

Monday, August 8, 2011

WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR...REALLY?

     Have you ever been afraid? I don't meant the "I hope I do well on the surprise quiz!" kind of fear, but rather the intense, paralyzing fear of impending doom. It is no fun to be afraid. People  who live their lives in fear have a miserable existence.
     Consider a chronically abused spouse who is expected to meet unrealistic standards of housekeeping, appearance, food preparation, accomplishment, earnings, providing or some other task. Failure brings immediate verbal, and often physical, abuse. Past transgressions are never forgotten and are often used as  a stick to beat them, constantly reminding them of their perceived shortcomings.
     Also, we have read about the person who after being bullied incessantly reaches a breaking point where they decide that they are not going to be afraid anymore and commit an act of extreme violence against their tormentor(s) and innocent bystanders.
     Another all too common experience is the person who is battling a life threatening disease...and losing. Tremendous Fear often affects not only the person who is ill but their family and friends as well.
     Is there any hope in times of fear? The answer to that question is an unequivocal "Yes!" How many times do we read in the Bible "Fear not...!" Jesus taught that we should NOT FEAR what we will eat, what we will wear, where will we live. Jesus taught that God provides all these things to His natural creation AND God loves us so much more.
     Jesus also taught FEAR NOT those who can only harm the body in the here and now but rather FEAR Him who can destroy both the body and the soul for all eternity.
     Christians are not immune from suffering. In fact, Jesus taught that His followers, AKA Christians, would suffer in THIS world. BUT He also taught DO NOT FEAR FOR I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD! 
     So when the cares of this world press in on you, FEAR NOT! Nothing is going to happen to you absent the will of God. Nothing is going to happen to you that will separate you from the love of God. Nothing is going to happen to you that surpasses the power of God! Remember God's love for you is infinite! BELIEVE IT!
     WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR...REALLY?   YES...REALLY!

Monday, August 1, 2011

STAGES!

     Life happens in stages. As I look back on my life I see the various stages of my development into the man I am today.
     The stages of my education began in a parochial elementary school, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc in Lowell, MA. The next stage was Lowell High School and Manchester, NH, Memorial High School. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, the next stage, college, was Nathaniel Hawthorne College where I earned a Bachelor Degree.
     The stages of my professional development began while I was in the Air Force. I went to the Security Police Technical School where I was first exposed to the practice of military law enforcement. I took to it like a duck to water. I loved it! The next stage began after I separated from the Air Force. I was hired by a small NH town and was sent to the 58th Session of the NH Police Academy. I was taught the fundamentals of civilian law enforcement. I still loved it! I devoted my life to it.
     My spiritual development began as did my educational development, at Ste. Jeanne d'Arc elementary school. I was raised Roman Catholic. I became an altar boy. I seriously considered going to seminary to train for the priesthood. Then I became a teenager!
     As a typical teenager I rebelled against every thing I had been taught. I still believed in the existence of God but I did not believe Catholic doctrine any more. Part of it was due to me believing that there was significant hypocrisy in the Church and part of it was that Catholic doctrine did not ring true, logically.
     The next stage in my spiritual development happened while I was in the military. I decided to go to the source document, the Bible, and find out for myself what the Bible taught and what were the implications for my life.
     My path brought me, by the grace of God, to Cedric Parsons. Cedric was a Baptist minister at the Fakenham Baptist Church, Fakenham, United Kingdom. I was stationed in a neighboring town at a nearby U.S. Air Force Base. Cedric was a gentle, godly and patient man. He taught me the fundamentals of New Testament Christianity.
     I was transferred from England to Alexandria, LA. There I met John Brasseaux. John was the preacher at the Jackson Street Church of Christ. He was also a former Catholic Brother. He, like Cedric, was a gentle, godly man. John led me through the Bible, teaching me what the Bible said, not what he said the Bible said. I have been a Bible believing Christian ever since. I am eternally grateful to both of these godly men.
     Through the stages of my growth as a Christian, God has graciously placed wonderful men and women in my life who have taught me through friendship and through their example what it means to be Christian, as the Bible defines the term. I hope that I am able to pay forward their kindnesses to me by being as good a friend and as good an example to others.
     Today, I am embarking upon a new stage in my life. I have retired from law enforcement after a 30 year career. I look forward with great optimism and enthusiasm to what our loving God has in store for me as this new stage of life unfolds. God bless you as you go through your current stage in life!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A FEW RANDOM THOUGHTS ON PRAYER!

     The subject of prayer is a fascinating subject. At one time or another, everyone prays. There is a saying that there are no atheists in fox holes. I suspect that prayer is the default position for anyone who finds themselves in severe distress such as a parent with a gravely ill child, close friends of a loved one seriously injured in an accident of some kind, a soldier in a fox hole with bullets whizzing by overhead, or family members of a serviceman who are awaiting word of an injury suffered in a war zone. Whether these people are Christians, or not, I respectfully submit that they will pray.
     For the christian, prayer is as essential for a robust spiritual health as eating good food is essential for a robust physical health. Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines that Christians routinely practice. Prayer enhances our relationship with God.
     Does God really answer prayer today? God most assuredly does answer prayer, even today. The Bible tells us that the God who answered prayers in the Old Testament is the same God who answered  prayers in New Testament times and is the very same God who answers prayer today. 
     I believe that God answers prayer in essentially three ways. Sometimes He says "Yes." Sometimes He says "No." Sometimes He answers "Maybe," "Not Now," "Wait awhile," or some variation thereof. God will never give us anything that is harmful to us. He loves us too much to do that.
      It is never easy when God's answer to prayer is "No." Sometimes it is not clear why God says "No." However, I do know that God is never capricious, mean spirited,  or cruel. I trust Him, and I believe that he has our best interests at heart. The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans...
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28)
...I take comfort in the fact that God keeps all of His promises and this verse is definitely a promise. So even if we don't see how a "No" answer will work out to our good, we can rest assured that it will.
     Have you prayed today? God would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RANDOM THOUGHTS OF A WANDERING MIND!

     My beloved SWMBO says I should Blog more often. I told her that I would only Blog when I had something to say. Well, I now have something to say on some current events.
 Casey Anthony - There has been much written and said about the verdict in the Casey Anthony matter. The jury heard all the evidence and rendered their verdict. Speaking as a practitioner in the criminal justice system for over 30 years, I understand their verdict. The jurors who spoke with the media afterwards said that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) How Caylee Anthony died; (2) Whether Caylee's death was by accident or homicide; (3) Who, if anyone, killed Caylee. 
     Our legal system requires that the state prove all elements of its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state fails to do so, the accused must be acquitted, that is, found not guilty. It's important to understand that a "not guilty" verdict means that the state failed to meet its burden of proof. It does NOT mean that the accused is innocent. 
     As a God fearing man I believe that Caylee will get justice, if not in this life then definitely in the hereafter. I also take comfort in the belief that Caylee is in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.
     Debt Crisis - There are way too many shenanigans going on in Washington, D.C. Our elected representatives are again failing to do their jobs. Both parties are equally culpable in this mess. A pox upon both their houses.
     The president's desire to increase taxes during a recession is lunacy. History and empirical information has told us repeatedly that cutting tax rates increases revenue into the treasury, raising taxes reduces revenue into the treasury. Raising taxes on the wealthiest of us or business is a nice sounding populist sound bite but it does NOT WORK! The wealthiest among us have the means to move, shelter, and protect their assets so that the net effect is that they pay less than most of us would. History has shown this to be true as well. 
     Also, the sad fact is that businesses do not pay taxes. Let me repeat that, businesses do not pay taxes! The consumers of their products, through higher prices, pay the taxes imposed upon businesses. 
     The United States government must drastically cut its spending! Some economist have suggested that cutting tax rates and growing the economy would result in greater levels of revenue coming into the treasury. History tells us that it has in the past. Why not do what has been shown to work?
     Pensions - There has been a fair amount of controversy about public pensions. To address the problem I suggest that we start at the top of the government food chain. Here's my suggestion, eliminate all pensions for the president and the Congress, both Representatives and Senators. The U.S. Constitution never envisioned professional, career politicians. On the contrary, it was anticipated that people would serve a term of office or two and then return to their former lives and live under the laws that they passed. It was believed that this would prevent them from passing oppressive laws and/or regulations. Eliminate all congressional pensions!
     Enjoy your day, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BEING A FATHER!

     Yesterday was Father's Day. Fathers all over the country were honored by their families for all that they are and all that they do. No man becomes a good father instinctively. I certainly didn't! Men become the fathers that they are by being taught. They learn, I learned, from the example of their own fathers and they learn from the example of other fathers in their life. 
     It takes a "Man" to be a father. I know, some of you are probably saying "Duh! No kidding! Really?" What I mean is that any man can father a child. But, it takes a "Man" to be a "Dad", and A MAN STANDS UP! That's it in a nutshell...A Man Stands Up!
     A MAN STANDS UP when he learns that his wife is pregnant with his child. He loves her, supports her and lovingly cares for her. A man provides his wife and unborn child what's needed, physically and emotionally. A man marries the mother of his children. Way too many men walk away and abandon their responsibilities where their spouse and children are concerned.
     A MAN STANDS UP when his family is threatened financially and the bills pile up and there's more money going out than is coming in. A man stays and works through financial difficulties with his wife for the sake of his child or children. A man does what he has to do to provide for his family.
     A MAN STANDS UP when his family is threatened by the evils of this world. A man does what he has to do to protect his family from the evils of the world. There are so many dangers that lurk and threaten a family. Drugs and the evils that they cause, both inside the home and outside. Alcoholism and all the evils that it brings. A man exercises self control and keeps himself clean and sober so he can provide protection for his family.
     A MAN STANDS UP when sickness or death strikes without warning. Despite what he may feel, a man must remain strong and provide support for his family when a spouse or a child becomes seriously ill or worse, dies. He must reassure his family by being strong and in control of his emotions and he must continue to provide for his family whatever is needed  and to work with his family to get through these difficult times
     In short, A MAN STANDS UP! No one gets this done perfectly! Most of us are making it up as we go along. A man stays for the long haul and does the best he can. A wise man once said that 90 percent of life is just showing up. A man shows up!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"....BY THE SWEAT OF THY BROW"

     After Adam & Eve partook of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, the ground was cursed and Adam was consigned to getting his food by the sweat of his brow. Thus began the battle between man and weeds.
     For reasons that escape me, I decided to clear out the garden old growth and weeds and plant vegetables this year. I had the bright idea of constructing raised beds out of pressure treated wood. I had to repair the fence around the garden by replacing rotted/missing wood and rusted fencing. Between clearing the old vegetation from the garden and around the outside, roto-tilling the soil, placing the raised beds where SWMBO and I wanted them, hauling loam/compost mix from the front yard to the backyard garden, filling the raised beds and at long last planting/sowing our vegetables....whew! That's a lot of work! Who knew! 
     One interesting thing that made me go "Hmmm!" I found a dead hawk among the dead vegetation. One of its talons  had a death grip on the fencing. I have no idea how it died or how it ended up in my garden, but there it was. It was difficult extricating the talon from the fence.
     Here are some photo's or our handiwork...


Raised beds, weed block, before fence repairs.

Raised beds with weed block!

We put hay down to retain moisture and further block weeds.

...Well, the garden is in. I have gained an appreciation for producing food by the sweat of one's brow. We have planted Strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, beans,peas, carrots, radishes and onions.


      If anyone has any tips, advice, suggestions on how to be successful please forward them to me! I have a lot to learn! May God bless our efforts with a bountiful harvest! Enjoy the heat wave!

Monday, May 23, 2011

WELL, WE'RE STILL HERE!!!

     According to Harold Camping of Family Radio the Lord Jesus Christ was going to come and remove (that is, rapture) His people from the earth at 1800 hrs, Saturday, 05/21/2011.  Well, we're still here! What happened? 
     Camping leads a so called christian organization based in Oakland, CA, purportedly created to spread Biblical Christianity. Unfortunately, Camping has been wrong with his predictions before. Camping predicted that the world would end in 1994. We're still here! What happened?Nothing happened!
"Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!"
     Camping explained that the first date was wrong due to a math error. I'm no math whiz, either. So who am I to criticize someone else's math deficiencies. 
     Camping was apparently able to convince a lot of people that the May 21st date was correct. Unless you have been living on a remote island, disconnected from the rest of the planet, billboard ads were erected in major cities throughout the United States at great expense warning all of us of the upcoming rapture and subsequent end of the world.
     Camping tells us that he based his predictions on the Bible. He must have a different Bible than I do.
     Jesus told his disciples during His time on earth that no one knew when He would return again to earth. He said that even He did not know the day or hour of His return.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36
...If even the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't know the date or hour of His return is it at all conceivable that a mere man could know. It is clear from the teachings of Jesus that His return will be at a time that is unexpected. He compares the time of His return to the time of Noah, you know, the guy who built the ark and took all the kinds of animals of the earth for a boat ride.
     "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriages until the day that Noah entered the ark and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be." Matthew 24:37-39
     Jesus warned that in the last days false Christs and prophets would appear and speak all manner of false things. He, as well as the Apostles, warn us to be on our guard.
     Our best defense against false teaching is for us to know what the Bible says. Therefore read the Bible for yourself and learn what it actually says. DO NOT DEPEND UPON THE INTERPRETATION(S) OF OTHER PEOPLE NO MATTER HOW WELL CREDENTIALED THEY MAY BE! READ IT FOR YOURSELF!
     Mr. Camping is a heretic! Beware of wolves who come in sheep's clothing! Read the Bible for yourself! May God bless your efforts!
  
 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

RANDOM THOUGHTS OF A WANDERING MIND!

"Most people are not truly appreciated until after they're dead. Osama Bin Laden you're now dead, and we all appreciate it!"
      Unless you have been living inside a remote cave like a stoic hermit, you now know that Osama Bin Laden has met his maker and the U.S. Military graciously arranged the meeting. Members of the elite SEAL Team Six raided a compound inside Pakistan and terminated  the elusive terrorist leader with extreme prejudice. 
     These Covert Ops Operators are the elite of the elite! They volunteer for active duty military service. Next, they volunteer for SEAL Training which requires that they survive and pass months of the most rigorous training regimen in the world. Then, after several years in the Special Operations Community, if they have earned the respect of SEAL Team Six, they are asked to "try out" for the most elite of the SEAL Teams. Many do not make it. These guys are the epitome of professional Special Operations operators. I thank God that there are such men as Navy SEALS and that they are on our side!
     May God continue to watch over and protect our military servicemen and women.
       "Success has many fathers...Failure is an orphan!"
     President Obama has my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude for giving the order that sent the SEAL Team into Pakistan last weekend. Military operations are complex, multi-facited endeavors. Most operational plans survive until first contact with the enemy. After that, operators must adapt, overcome and persevere to complete their assigned mission. This mission was well planned. The SEAL Team was well prepared. The mission was executed almost flawlessly. 
      I commend the President for having the courage to give the order to proceed with the mission, knowing all the inherent risks, militarily and politically. Well done, Mr. President.
    "There is nothing terrible in life for the man who realizes that there is nothing terrible in death." - Epicurus

      The Christian has nothing to fear from death.  For the Christian, death is merely a graduation to glory, as it were. The Bible tells us that the sufferings experienced during our time on earth pales to insignificance compared to what awaits us after death.
     We live in difficult times! Finances are threatened and diminishing! Crime and terrorism are increasing! Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity! Oh, woe is us!
     Relax people and take a breath! God is still in control. For the Christian, no matter what happens on this earth, we win! I can't tell you how many times God says "Fear Not!" I know it is several times. He must really mean what He says! 
     So if you are not a Christian, become one so that you too can have the assurance of better things to come...AND...like the Apostle Paul you can say "Grave, where is your victory, Death, where is your sting?"


    ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY!

Monday, May 2, 2011

IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED - IT NEVER WILL HAPPEN....NOT EVER!

     Sometimes I like to sit and just let my mind wander. Sometimes my mind gets lost in thought. Some folk who know me would probably tell you that my mind is still lost. But, I digress.
     During one of my wanderings I considered the question "Is there anything that God has never done AND will never do...ever?" As I considered this question a few things came to mind. In no particular order, here are a few of them.
     God has never lied. Throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible there is not one instance where God has lied. In fact, God has made it clear that telling the truth is the right thing to do. God has no reason to lie. There are three passages from Scripture that are precisely on point.
"God is not a man, that He should lie." (Numbers 23:19)  
"Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago..."   (Titus 1:1,2) 
"...so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,..."  (Hebrews 6:18) 
      God has never been surprised.  There has never been a time when God has said "Boy, I never saw that coming!" God has foretold through His prophets what was going to happen  hundreds of years before it happened. 
     God told Abraham that Israel would be subjected to captivity in Egypt for 400 years and that He would deliver them out of their bondage (Genesis 15:13,14). This prophecy found it's fulfillment in the life of Joseph who was sold into slavery in Egypt. (Genesis 37 through 47) The deliverance came through Moses who led Israel out of captivity in Egypt to the land promised to Abraham. (The Book of Exodus)
     God told the king of babylon, Nebuchadnezzer, about four kingdoms that would arise through His prophet, Daniel. These kingdoms were the Babylonians, followed by the Medo-Persian which was followed by the Greek Empire which was followed by the Roman Empire. (Daniel 2:31-45)  History has confirmed that there were four great kingdoms in antiquity that followed the exact sequence as foretold through Daniel. 
     God has never failed to do what He has said He will do. From the Book of Genesis through the Book of Jude, God has never failed to do what He said He would do. After the fall in the garden of Eden God planned to redeem man by sending the Messiah, His only begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ. 
     When God said He would bring judgement upon a people or a Nation He has, without fail, done so. Examples consist of Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, Egypt, Tyre and many others that were either destroyed outright or greatly diminished.
    You may note that I neglected to include the Book of Revelation in my list above. The reason for this is simple, those prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. The point is, if God has done what he said He would do in ages past you can be certain that the prophecies of the Book of Revelation will likewise be fulfilled as promised.
     The examples cited above just scratch the surface of Biblical Prophecy. 
     So, I strongly urge all of you to examine the evidence and come to know the God of the Bible. He is a loving, merciful and compassionate God. He truly loves you and desires to have a relationship with you. You will not regret it!

Friday, April 29, 2011

THEY'RE ANIMALS I TELL YOU!!!

     Over my career I have had several incidents that involved wild or domestic animals. Sometimes when recounting these events to my friends, they bust my chops because what I said isn't what they heard.
     Exhibit "A" - I was driving up a hill that curved to the right. As I entered the curve, a huge owl was flying down the hill about four feet above the ground. It missed hitting my patrol car windshield by what seemed to be inches. Imagine having a bird strike while driving a car. When I recounted the incident to friends and colleagues, without exception and without missing a beat they asked me "How high were you flying?" 
     Exhibit "B" - While driving around at night it is very common to see whitetail deer along the side of the road or in the cornfields. I also hunt deer in the fall. I'm really great at hunting, not so great at finding. 
     I always see more deer along the side of the road while on duty then I ever have see in the woods. So, from time to time I have observed to my friends "I have seen more deer, sitting in my car, then I ever have in the woods." Again, without exception and without missing a beat they ask "How did the deer get inside your car?"
     Besides errant owls and free ranging deer, I have also had to corral domestic animals that had escaped from their enclosures.
     On one such occasion a bull had escaped and was running loose in a neighborhood. Being a city boy, born and bred, I had absolutely no idea how to return the errant bovine to it's rightful place. I kept envisioning a soon to be  news account of a police officer being hospitalized after getting gored by a bull. I did once witness a bullfight in Spain while I was in the military but there's never any picadors around when you need them and I left my red cape and matador sword at home.
     Fortunately, I was able to locate the bull's owner who returned the bull to it's enclosure.
     Another time I responded to a report of a burglary-in-progress. The homeowner reported hearing something crash in the living room. Upon investigating the report I noticed that the screen from the skylight was lying on the floor. I then noticed a pair of yellow eyes looking at me. The eyes belonged to a raccoon that had climbed onto the roof, stepped onto the screen and came crashing down into the living room.
     Being a city boy was of no help here, either. I had no idea about what to do. One thing that I was sure about is that if the animal attacked and/or bit anyone I was going to shoot it. I was not going to subject myself to a rabies series for nobody!
     What did I do you may ask? I opened a window and used some lattice work to form a ladder and coaxed the raccoon to the open window. Once the raccoon was leaning out the window, a quick push on it's butt sent it scurrying off into the night.
     Being a police officer exposes you to situations that range from the common- place to the bizarre. How to handle wild animals was never covered at the police academy. Upon reflection, these incidents still make me smile! 
     Enjoy your weekend and God bless you!