Humor

Humor means to provide amusement or provoke laughter. This category will have things I think are funny or tickle my funny bone. I hope you enjoy and can laugh along with me. To begin, I have a question.

Why can’t you explain puns to kleptomaniacs?

Because they always take everything literally!

My Favorite Exercise Ever

As a physical therapist, I have worked with patients with many different diagnoses and disabilities. Though there is not a one size fits all therapeutic program, I have a few favorite exercises that I have found useful for most during my career in healthcare.

My favorite exercise promotes strength, balance, and functional skill. I am not prescribing or recommending any specific exercise or treatment for any person. As always, each person should consult their physician or other health care professional before starting any fitness program to determine if it is right for their needs. Persons with acute or active disabilities or disease processes should seek the evaluation and care from an appropriate health care professional for treatment. For those interested in health and wellness like me, I encourage regular exercise and activities to stay fit and healthy.

So what is my favorite exercise. It is simply standing up from a chair and sitting back down – usually slowly. This activity can be modified and varied to make the movement more or less difficult. That’s it. Stand, then sit, and repeat. More repetitions can increase endurance and strength. Varying the base of support, speed of the movement, height of the chair, and other modifications can add variation and degrees of difficulty to this activity.

Most of us want to have good balance and the strength and endurance to go about our desired daily activities well into our old age. Staying fit with exercise and activities, can help increase longevity. The sit to stand activity can be a quick, easy, simple and even a challenging movement that works many of our major muscle groups. Keep moving, and make it a great day.

Protests: Our Rights and Responsibilities

The right to peacefully protest is protected and an important right for all citizens of the United States. Many nations and people do not have this right, so it would be good if we, as American citizens, could appreciate this great freedom while acting responsibly when exercising our rights. This freedom is not anytime, anywhere, and any how someone wants to protest. Communities and duly elected authorities have the right and the responsibility to properly permit and protect all citizens and their possessions during protests.

Our rights to protest do not give us the right to trample on the rights of others. The right to non peacefully (violently) protest is not protected, legal or allowed in our country. It is not okay to threaten, assault, commit battery, injure, maim, or kill people in protest. This is not peaceful and is a civil and criminal action. It is not okay to burn someone’s car, business, and possessions. This is arson. It is not okay to loot, steal and take someone else’s property. This is stealing and against the law. It is not okay to vandalize. This, too, is criminal behavior.

Peaceful protests should be recognized and accepted. Those involved in violent, criminal, and illegal behavior need to be stopped, fined, arrested and/or prosecuted as appropriate and within the rules of law that are in place. Authorities, peaceful protesters, and all law abiding Americans must stand together to address destructive, malicious, lawbreaking anarchists who have mingled into the groups of peaceful protesters. These anarchists have no desire for good, positive and peaceful change. They simply want to tear down society and destroy. I watch the images on my television of people bent on destruction, and it grieves my spirit. So many people are completely lawless and ungodly in their behavior. I wonder how anarchists and others can feel entitled and empowered to bully, terrorize, steal, vandalize, and destroy. (Ephesians 5:7-14) I don’t understand why our leaders and law enforcement allow this to go on and on for days now. I’m sure it is a tough problem to dissect these anarchists from those seeking peaceful redress of important issues and concerns.

I hope my Christian friends will join me to pray for our people, our nation, our leaders, and those charged to enforce the laws of our land. Pray for all of our people to come together in peace, love, and genuine care for one another. Let us be as our national motto says “E pluribus unum” which means “Out of many – one.” Let us turn back to God and in God we trust. Let us love like our Lord did on the cross and still loves today. (John 13:35) Let us love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us not give the devil a foothold to be deceiving, dividing, and destructive in our lives and relationships with one another. Let us stand for what is true and right. Let us reject evil. Let us keep our hope and faith in the Lord and His promises. Let us share our hope with those without hope. The battle against evil is tough, but for Christians our victory in Jesus is sure and secure. Let us keep the faith and stand firm focused on the Father and His will for our lives. Be the light. (Ephesians 5:7-14, Romans 13:11-14, I John 1:7, Philippians 2:14-16) Let us step up and into our role as ambassadors for Christ. (II Corinthians 5:14-21). Let us think on these things…

Perspective on the Pandemic

Over 100 years ago in 1918, the Spanish flu swept the globe killing an estimated 50 million people. According to the CDC, 675,000 of those deaths were in the United States. Today we are experiencing the effects of the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic. Over 180 countries have recorded infections among their people. The NY Times’ official counts reveal almost 3 million people infected by the Chinese Coronavirus with a reported 204,000 deaths worldwide.

In the United States, as of April 27, 2020, there were 50,787 deaths attributed to this virus. Unprecedented steps to mitigate the spread of the virus have been put in place and most remain, including the virtual shut down of the entire United States economy as well as the economies of most other countries around the world. Almost everyone in the United States has been ordered or mandated to shelter in place during this pandemic resulting in massive unemployment. We haven’t seen unemployment rates like this since The Great Depression. In addition, have you heard about the plans for our people to need papers for permission to go from place to place and even a permit to go back to work? I have. Does this remind you of anything? Does it remind you of another time and and another country? Does the word tyranny come to mind?

Some states are beginning to open back up, but many are hesitant and fearful of “getting back to normal.” Political forces are at odds as to the best course of action. I believe many of our rights and freedoms are being unconstitutionally removed and restricted. This is of great concern. Our way of life and the very fabric of our Republic is at stake now like never before. Taking advantage of public fear and uncertainty, some are pushing forward with agendas to remove our autonomy and freedoms.

To be free, we must be informed and willing to stand up for our rights as well as accept our responsibilities as a self-governed people. We must look at the research, examine the studies, and interpret the statistics to see what is true and what is false. We need to make informed decisions and understand what is and what should be. We need to understand the risks and sometimes take them.

Most of us understand that we will die one day. But how? This is a critical question to understand, and it can give perspective to the pandemic. According to healthline.com, the following is a list of the top 12 primary causes of death including the number of deaths per year of our citizens in the United States.

CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE USA NUMBER OF DEATHS/YEAR

1. Heart Disease 635,260 (23.1%)
2. Cancer 598,038 (21.7%)
3. Accidents (unintentional injuries) 161,374 (5.9%)
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 154,596 (5.6%)
5. Stroke 142,142 (5.18%)
6. Alzheimer’s disease 116,103 (4.23%)
7. Diabetes 80,058 (2.9%)
8. Influenza and pneumonia 51,537 (1.88%)
9. Kidney disease 50,046 (1.8%)
10.Suicide 44,965 (1.64%)
11.Septicemia 38,940 (1.42%)
12.Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 38,170 (1.39%)

These top 12 causes of death account for approximately 77% of all deaths in the United States each year.

We expect more coronavirus deaths, but at this point the Chinese Coronavirus was said to cause 50,797 deaths and would rank 9th in the list of top 12 causes of death in the United States. Eight other causes of death have more deaths than the Chineses coronavirus, and yet we have never closed our country or economy for the top eight yearly causes of death.

Now for a bit more perspective. The governor of the state of New York said this week that he was glad to keep his whole state closed if it could save even one life. But in January of 2019, this same governor signed a bill allowing the abortion of a child up until and at the moment of birth, expanded the ability to perform abortions from physicians only to a range of medical professionals, and removed abortion from the criminal law code. To celebrate, this governor directed the One World Trade Center and other landmarks in New York to be lit with pink lights. So what is the impact of this decision? More deaths. What about each of these lives? Where are they in the list? What about the children?

According to CBS news, the CDC reported 623,471 abortions in the United States in 2016. So what – you may ask. The fact is that more babies have died from abortion in our country each year than those who died for any one of 11 of the top 12 causes of death in America. Second only to death by heart disease (by approximately 12,000 children), abortion is the second leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC also reported that 59% of those who obtained an abortion in 2016 already had at least one child. Reports by lifenews.com say that “abortion was the leading cause of death world wide in 2019, killing 42 million people.” Can you imagine? In a single year – last year, 42 million babies died by abortion. Just for perspective— compare those 42 million children to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 where over a 36 months period (3 years), 50 million people died of the flu.

Mr. governor of New York, you can’t really care about every single person in your state. Keeping your economy shut down to save just one person seems hypocritical while you and fellow politicians decriminalized the killing of healthy viable infants ready to be born. The health department reported that during 2012-2014, women in New York aborted 400 babies for every 1000 live births. Those are the numbers.

It appears that there are forces at work to control our procreation, our population, our productivity, our passage from place to place, and our potential to pursue provision for our families and to even access food produced to feed our nation. My cousin’s family are cattle ranchers. They have been fighting for years for country of origin labels on our produce and meats. Politicians won’t pass or reinstate the requirement for country of origin on products. Why? Who gains from making sure we don’t know from where our food comes? Have you seen the way Asian countries have injected meats and sea foods with fillers so that they look bigger and weigh more? I have. In light of all we know and don’t know about China, do you trust them for our food supply? What about Brazil, Russia, Mexico, or any of dozens of other third world nations.

Today in America, we have the ability to feed the world, but because of politics, packers, and this pandemic, our farmers and ranchers are now dumping and plowing under crops ready to harvest. They are pouring out good milk that could feed our children. Ranchers are having to euthanize (put down) chickens, pigs, and cattle ready for market because there is no place for them to be processed. As this pandemic goes on, meats from other countries with less quality control and standards are being imported, and no one knows where it comes from because there is no requirement for country of origin labeling. Why? What is the reason for this? Do you understand what is going on? Do you care? Does it really matter? I say, “Yes!”

Youtube, facebook, and major news outlets are consorting, censoring and selecting the information you can and can’t see and hear. They openly admit that they know better, and they will tell you what to think and feel also. They have the power and the platforms and will to decide what news you can and can’t have including how it will be served and slanted. And you free thinkers out there, you’d better not question their motives or machinations or you’ll be banned, blackballed and labelled a hater or some other malevolent term. Political bias, disrespect and disdain for differing opinions, and a culture of group think today disallows anyone who is not politically correct (PC). I’m sure you have heard that about half of our citizens are a “basket of deplorables.” As a child, my parents taught me that when someone resorts to name calling and character assassination to win an argument, they have revealed the inadequacy of their point of view and the bankruptcy of their position. When name calling and character assassination don’t work, censorship and isolation are the next steps to curbing independent thought and behavior. Are you, like me, seeing this?

So what is the point? Why am I writing about the Spanish flu and the current causes of death in our country and worldwide. What do heart disease, abortion, and the coronavirus have in common. What does all this mean? I challenge you to look at all the facts. I encourage you to seek the truth, just as I am trying to do. I have searched multiple sources to find reliable data from which to compile accurate information for this writing. I hope you will do your research as well, and then will stand with the remaining patriots of this country to fight for things that are right, true and just.

I believe there is a reason why this pandemic is different. Look at the numbers. Ask the questions. I understood the need to socially isolate to prepare for the expected surge of coronavirus cases. I think our nation did a great job with what they had to work with and quickly made up for deficiencies in our preparedness and prevention measures. But now—What about now?

Why does this Chinese Coronavirus continue to shut down economies worldwide and in our nation where heart disease has over 12 times the number of deaths each year, yet no one closes their business for heart disease deaths?

Why have we closed our country for a coronavirus when each year we have 12 times more people die of abortion year after year? How can political leaders say that every person matters while making sure that some don’t?

Just look at the numbers. We have never shut down our nation and economy for any other pandemic or any of the top 12 causes of death in America. Why not? Why now?

Why, when less that 1% of those who get coronavirus die, do we lock down our whole nation? Why do we need to shelter in place when over 99% of the people who get the virus will recover?

Why do we need to close down hospitals from caring for heart disease, cancer, accidents, respiratory infections, flu, Alzheimers’ disease, joint replacement surgeries, etc., when only 15% of people with the virus will even need to be hospitalized for care?

Why do we still have problems finding toilet paper, household cleaners, and basic food products in our stores two months into this pandemic?

Do we not make enough products for our daily lives to be self-sufficient as a country? If not, why not?

Why are we dependent on other countries for our 95% of our antibiotics?

Why are our farmers plowing under their crops and ranchers euthanizing their animals?

Why won’t major news outlets and networks carry administrative daily updates and briefings after these same companies and reporters complained that they needed more access to the administration and more information on what is going on during the pandemic? Why when the administration gives them the data they require, will they not report that data?

What is really going on? What are the facts? How do these facts add up? Are our leaders and politicians doing their jobs to work for our best interests or for someone or something else?

Congress won’t come back into session, but has mandated many of our citizens must go to work. Does this make sense? If our congressional representatives are not essential personnel, why are they still being paid? Should they be fired for not working on what we “the people” hired them to do?

Does our citizenry even care about governmental representatives not doing their jobs? Do our citizens care about the future of our nation, culture, and freedoms, or are we so selfish that we care only for ourselves and our families. Do we give no regard to the big picture?

Today in American 50% of those furloughed from their jobs due to the mandated closures can make more on unemployment than they were making in their jobs. Employees all over the country are resigning or simply not returning to work because they can make more sitting on their backside at home than working their job. Why?

In Louisiana unemployment benefits are $247/week. The federal government is paying $600/week in addition to state unemployment. Why? Do you remember the push for a national minimum wade of $15 per hour? What is $600 divided by 40 hours? You guessed it. The answer is $15/hour. When you add in the $247/week from the state, what is the hourly rate the government is paying citizens NOT to go work all the way through July 2020? The answer is $21.18 per hour! The current minimum wage in Louisiana is $8.50 per hour. Getting on unemployment benefits now is 2 1/2 times more profitable than working a minimum wage job 40 hours a week. This federal and state pay out of unemployment money comes from money the government doesn’t have. The United States is over 23 trillion dollars in debt already. Where will we find the money to pay for all the government benefits during this time? You guessed it. It will come from higher taxes on businesses (which means increased costs for goods and services) and higher taxes on your paycheck, properties, and purchases. Who wants the government to take a bigger bite out of their paychecks? Can you raise your hands high so that I can see them? I understand why people want to stay home, but is this what is best for our economy, our people, our national security, and our sovereignty? Is this fiscally responsible?

Explain to me how small businesses, who don’t have deep pockets or cash cushions can continue to pay employees, themselves, their mortgages, utilities, and other costs for operating and production supplies and whose workers won’t work can survive? Most small businesses can not survive a two month closure or loss of production. Many small businesses will be in bankruptcy before May ends.

Is this a plan to put small businesses in America out of business? If not, why are only the big box stores allowed open with hundreds of people strolling their aisles, when hometown local small businesses can often provide the same products? What will it mean for our nation, if most small businesses are out of business? Small businesses make up about 50% of our economy and tax base. If small businesses can’t operate, we will see over time, fewer choices and higher costs for goods and services. Do you know what happens in one horse towns?

When government officials and legislation rewards Americans to be unproductive, won’t these same Americans become dependent on the government for their sustenance? Will we, the citizens, become slaves to the state? Are you willing to dance to when the government plays their tunes of tax and spend more and more?

So what is the answer? How do we move forward? Will the government dictate our every move? Will we allow the government to do so? Will we, like sheep, forgo most or all of our freedoms because of fear and for a promise of safety?

I plan on continuing to learn the facts and try to share the truth. I challenge each you to personally step forward, stand out, and speak up for what is right and true as well. Our futures, both individually and collectively, depend on what we will and won’t do, who we elect to represent us, and how we choose to live. We can live in fear or in freedom. I choose freedom. So…..now, I ask you, what will you do with what you know? How will you make a difference in your world and for those around you?

Robin Robbins House ©️ 5/2/2020

The Winds of Life

One morning in late December of 2017 I sat at the kitchen table looking at the leaves blowing around by the power of the wind. This poem came to me then. I often find that life can be unexpected and unpredictable, but I know there is a Source of constancy and stability when all around me seems chaotic. I hope you know it too.

The Winds of Life

Watching a fallen leaf
Skip lightly across the ground
In the unseen air
Without a single sound.

And some of us like leaves
When the winds of life do blow,
Are carelessly tossed around
By our troubles and our woe.

We drift and flit through life
Going first from here to there
With no sure knowledge of a God
Who’d hold us in His care.

The Bible tells us that
Every hair upon our head
Is know by a mighty God
With every single step we tread.

If only we could know
And understand God’s grace
Of His magnificent love
And the Son that took our place

The son, His name is Jesus,
And He is living still-
To plead and call you to Him
To do His blessed will.

So come to the Rock,
And the Anchor that will hold,
The Messiah and the Master,
The Son of Man foretold.

In this life of struggle
When the wind is blowing strong.
There is a living Savior
To whom we can belong.

He gives us full forgiveness,
And a love that is great and true
And in all of eternity
A home and heavenly view.

© Robin Robbins House 12/27/2017

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey

As I’ve watched on television the people of Texas deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve heard many reporters and commentators expressing their opinions on the rescues, recovery, and responses about those affected, their neighbors and how both citizens and elected officials around the nation have reacted to this natural disaster. I posted a video interview on my Facebook feed about one man who came from Kentucky to help out. The man told a story of how, while helping, he became hungry was helped by hospitable citizens affected by Harvey with a meal in the midst of their own loss and devastation. His heart-felt and humble testimony, while giving God the glory, was inspiring.
Video of a good Samaritan

Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, The Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, and many others led the response preparing to send people and supplies both now and for the long haul of the recovery. The Cajun Navy from Louisiana loaded their boats and supplies and en masse jumped in the water (both literally and figuratively) to seek, save, and serve their fellow man. The Red Cross is helping with shelters and supplies while coordinating contributions. Govenor Abbot and public officials throughout Texas have rallied together to coordinate their efforts while accepting assistance offered by President Trump from the federal government. Mexico and other countries have also offered to help and are sending aid.

In spite of thousands of what I’d say are wonderful stories and responses to the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, there are many reporters that seem determined to be critical. They appear to feed on being divisive, disparaging and destructive as they pompously judge the thoughts and motives of elected officials, church leaders and others. I heard one reporter try to bait Govenor Abbot to say that the mayor of Houston made the “wrong call” about evacuating the city. Many in the media are not content to report on brotherly-love, self-sacrifice, and people doing the neighborly and right thing because of their faith in Christ or their patriotism as Americans. They want conflict and controversy. I for one am tired of the media pitting one group against another just to “watch the show” of one group tearing down or into another verbally and even physically.

As I was reading in the gospel of Luke this morning, I came across the passage in Luke 9:49-50 where John tells Jesus that they saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name and how they tried to stop him, because, as John said, “he is not one of us.” Jesus replied to John and the apostles, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” This story is also told in Mark 9:38-41. Sometimes, just like in Jesus and John’s day, people get territorial about their service and critical of others who try to serve God and man. I think Jesus speaks to this in these passages, and there are lessons to learn. As I read this passage, it also called to mind another group of Bible verses that seem to contradict this message. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” In this passage Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute (Matthew 12:22-23) so that the man could both see and hear. Those that saw the miracle were astonished and wondered if Jesus could be the Son of David. The Pharisees, when they heard about the miracle, said Jesus was of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. As such, that is how the Pharisees thought Jesus drove the demon from the blind and mute man. Jesus’ next words address the Pharisees contention and have been quoted by millions, including President Abraham Lincoln. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Jesus could not be casting out demons by the prince of demons. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Our nation needs to know this truth and act on it to survive as a nation. The success and well-being of our cities and our very homes depend on us working together and being united. Too often, we have let dissension, disagreements, and down-right destructiveness reign in our homes, our cities, and our nation. This is one reason why our families have failed, and the divorce rate is at 50%. Recent studies show that Washington D. C. has the highest divorce rate in our nation. Is anyone surprised? In contrast, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, so there may be something to being stuck on an island and having to work things out together. I say all this not to meddle or digress, but to inspire thought and consideration for how we may “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:23-24 NIV) I think that’s what many have done in response to the situation and needs following Hurricane Harvey. They have considered how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

So what is the answer about the apparent contradiction between what Jesus says? I did find an interesting article that seems to have an answer to the question. (Disclaimer—Please know that I don’t give a blanket endorsement to all of what anyone says unless they are specifically quoting the Word of God. I do think that there are many scholars and Bible students that can present excellent information and insight from which we can decide what to think or believe about a Bible message or passage. As such, I just read the article written and copyrighted by Ken Collins titled “Did Jesus Contradict Himself about Who’s on His Side?” this morning. I do not know the author, except by reading what he has posted about himself, so I encourage you to think, study and decide for yourself on this question and others.) Many say that the Bible contradicts itself. I don’t believe that. I think that sometimes I just don’t have the skill or understanding to fully grasp some of the statements and concepts in the Bible. But – I keep trying, and I’m continuing to study, learn and grow. I hope you are too. As I read Ken Collins article this morning, I think that Ephesians 6:10-18 and especially verse 12 may also tie in to the discussion. I hope you will enjoy the article and dive into the exercise of studying God’s Word and discovering more fully God’s will. Read the article.

In response to a concern I had about the article written by Ken, I want to say that I believe that we all make choices every day in our lives to seek, serve and be subject to God or not. I believe that Jesus was sent as the Son of God to serve His Father’s will and be offered as a sacrifice to save all mankind from sin and eternal death. I believe that God gives us the choice to accept Him and His free gift of redemption through Christ or not. I believe we all choose by our actions, and even by our inactions, whether we will accept Jesus as our Savior or serve ourselves and satan.

Finally, my desire is like that of Paul, who said in I Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” I hope that everyone reading my message will be encouraged and be voices for unity and peace in our homes, cities, and nation. I hope that we will continually seek God and share his wonderful message with our families, friends, and even our foes. Let us think on these things….

Robin House
© 2017

Stocks, Seeds, and Investing

IMG_2307 Robin’s Roses Photograph by Robin House

At the opening bell this Wednesday, January 25, 2017, as the U. S. stock market opened it topped 20,000. Reporters all over the world carried the story as the floor of the stock market erupted with cheers. Video graphics of fireworks displays were shown and a sense of excitement prevailed. The stock market had been flirting with 20,000 for almost a month, and now the record had been reached. Discussions about whether the number was a fluke or would hold were made. Experts discussed whether 20,000 was just a new beginning benchmark for a new optimism in America since the presidential election. Many asked themselves if they should get in the market now or sell before the possible fall? People looked to experts in stock predicting to learn if they had waited too long to seize opportunities. They questioned if they should keep investing or pull back?

In II Corinthians chapters eight and nine, Paul writes to the Corinthians about their plans for giving and thereby investing financially in the gospel and others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of their commitment to giving a year previously. At the time of his writing, the Corinthians had not yet fulfilled their promise. Paul reveals in II Corinthians 9:1-5 that he had been boasting to the Macedonians of their commitment to give. He said that the news of what the Corinthians planned to do had inspired the Macedonians to give also. He reveals in chapter eight of II Corinthians that in spite of “severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” As a result, Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians were prepared to fulfill their promise. He didn’t want the shame that would accompany an unfulfilled commitment when it came time to gather the funds. As a result, Titus and others were sent ahead of Paul and the Macedonians to assist the Corinthians to complete their commitment before Paul arrived. Paul wanted to make sure that the gift they promised was “ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” How many times have we forgotten a gift for a party or shower and had to inconveniently rush out to get something? Or how many times did we just skip the party, because we were unprepared or unwilling to bring the expected gift or party food?

Sometimes today we are enthusiastic about an opportunity or project we’d like to invest in and make ambitious commitments to help or participate only to, with the passage of time, forget our promises and lose our ardor for the project. It is easy to do. Time flies and sometimes we lose track of what we promise. Sometimes after making a commitment, we don’t plan or think at all about that date in the future when the “bill” will come due. Procrastination is an easy habit to keep. In II Corinthians 8-9, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to not delay and to be prepared. In II Corinthians 9:6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” In the next verse Paul reminds them that, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Both of these statements have to do with planning, preparing, and being proactive to do what we say we will do.

What about us today? What do we commit to each day? Do we prepare for the promises we have made? Are we cheerful in our commitments? What kind of “farmers” are we? Do we sit on the porch swing of life moving back and forth but never really going anywhere expecting to reap a crop we have not planted? When we do sow the seed, is it sparingly? Paul makes clear that sowing sparingly can only reap a sparing crop. What kind of harvest do we want and expect in this life— and what harvest do we want in the next one?

In II Corinthians 8:10-12 Paul says, “And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it will be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” In II Corinthians 9:8, Paul continues telling the Corinthians that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Here’s the question. How can one fail when God is able and willing to help us? The answer is, we can’t. Like the Corinthians in Paul’s day, when we serve to supply the needs of God’s people, our generosity will reap great rewards and overflow to thanksgiving to God in our world by those of the world.

To sum it all up, is a bull market on the run? Time will tell. The stock market will always go up and down. Gains and losses will continue. Should we get in the stock market or sit it out? Each person must answer that for himself. The bigger question in life is this—Do we have the courage and commitment to plan, prepare and generously plant into others today? With God’s help to make us able, there is no need to be afraid to invest in the good things that are of eternal consequence. There is no better season to plant and invest in God’s will than right now. When we watch carefully each day, we will recognize the opportunities we have to sow (invest) generously in our church, community and culture. Remember that God even supplies the “seed to the sower and bread for food.” Just like he promised the Corinthians in chapter nine verse ten, God will help us – “increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” When we invest ourselves in others and in the ways God wants us to, our mission and enthusiasm will be clear. When we fulfill our commitments, God will be praised even by the ungodly in our world. We will bloom in beauty like a rose for all to see. When we work in God’s field to generously plant, we will reap a generous harvest. It is a law of nature, like gravity. When we keep our commitments, God’s grace will abound to us, so that in all things at all times having all that we need, we will abound in every good work.

Robin House

Football, Politics, Polls and Fair Play

angry voters

Do you know who won the football game last Sunday? Did you see it? Though the Dallas Cowboys are not “my” team, no one can dispute the successes and quality of the Dallas Cowboy team play since Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and others banded their team together to complete one of the best Cowboys football seasons in recent history. Since Dak Prescott is from my hometown, I have enjoyed seeing his success. Watching a great athlete compete with skill and perseverance while calling his mind and body to perform at an elite level is a beautiful thing – no matter what team a player is on. I saw only the last seconds of the game Sunday night, but it was in those final moments that it became clear that Green Bay’s kicker, by the narrowest of margins, kicked the football between the uprights to give the Green Bay Packers a winning score of 34 to 31 over Dallas. The scoreboard numbers and the celebrations by the Packers team and fans showed the television audience that Green Bay would move on to the final playoff game before the Superbowl. Dallas Cowboy fans were stunned, shaken, and sad. What happened?

What happened was that the Packers won and the Cowboys lost. But wait just a minute. On Monday I heard a story that said Green Bay won the scoring vote but that the Cowboys won the popular vote. The Cowboys had been ahead during the game and let’s face it — the Cowboys are America’s team. According to the story, the Cowboys deserved to win. The final score just couldn’t be the “be all and end all” outcome of the competition. Could it? Should someone send a note to the Green Bay Packers and fans to tell them that the final scoreboard score just didn’t count? Would someone actually say that a popular vote of public sentiment and rankings trumped the actual game played and score?

Of course not! Green Bay just like Clemson in the College Championship game beat Alabama in the final seconds because they scored more points than the other team. Yes, Alabama like Dallas, was favored to win, but they didn’t. They didn’t win because they didn’t score more points than the other team. That’s the way the game is played. Yes, some will be disappointed that their team did not win, but that is what happens in a contest. One wins, and one looses. The contest and the rules are clear to all before the competition begins, and then the game is played. For 60 minutes the football teams competed and each did their best to win.

In the recent presidential election, the candidates entered the contest, knew the rules, and competed fiercely for victory. One won, and one lost. Since the infancy of our nation and for over 240 years, we have held the same system of electing a president. On several occasions the presidential candidate that won the popular vote did not win the majority vote in the electoral college. The first incident of this kind was in 1824 with Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote by over 10% but losing to John Quincy Adams in the electoral college. Yet in the 193 years since that first contentious election where John Quincy Adams became our sixth President, our citizens, and as a result our elected officials, have not voted to change the electoral college system or rules by which U S Presidents are elected each and every 4 years. I’m not giving an opinion on the electoral college system, but simply stating that it is the current system and provides the rules for the election of all of our presidents.

Our government is not a true democracy, but a representative republic by which each citizen (unless they are a felon or live in a U S territory) has the right to vote to elect representatives to vote their will. Unlike most governments in our world, the United States of America has a system of government that is of, by and for the people. Too often I think our citizens have abdicated their rights to control the government by being inattentive, ignorant and apathetic. In most elections only a small percentage of citizens even show up to the polls to cast their votes. As a result, the small majority that do vote or do push their agenda in the halls of our state legislatures and in Congress often get their way in a manner that is many times not “fair” or good for the citizenry as a whole.

Like the Clemson/Alabama game the week before and the Cowboys/Packers game this past Sunday, the presidential team with the popular vote, poles and rankings did not win. The final score was Hillary Clinton 232 and Donald Trump 306. Mr. Trump seemed to trail most of the game, and the popular opinion and poles were not favorable for him. But, in the end and at the end of the election, Donald Trump had the winning score.

In less than 24 hours, our nation is set to inaugurate the 45th President of the United States. This man was elected by the rules of candidacy and competition set forth in our laws to serve our nation and its people. Like the 44 Presidents before him and as required by the U S Constitution in Article II, Section One, Clause 8, Donald J. Trump is scheduled to take the same oath his 44 predecessors did. The oath says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” George Washington, our first President, was recorded to have concluded his oath of office with the statement, “So help me God.” requesting the help of the Almighty as he served. Washington set a precedent that has continued for over 200 years, including both swearing in ceremonies for Barak Obama.

Our national motto says “In God we trust.” But do we? Our Pledge of Allegiance says “… One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But is it? I see a great rift in our nation today. What once was clearly an indivisible citizenry is divisive. Those promoting freedom and tolerance are often the most restrictive and intolerant. Justice seems to apply to some more equally than others. Have you read Animal Farm? Any look at our history, its monuments and the words engraved on many of our government buildings clearly shows that our nation was based and built on Christian values and freedoms. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian who came to America in 1831 and wrote Democracy in America, said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Revisionist historians and teachers are working diligently to rewrite, revise and remove all semblance of this truth from our documents, monuments, buildings and culture. As a result, many today have no knowledge or appreciation for the work done and the price paid by our founding fathers for the freedoms we enjoy. In no other country in the world are people dying to “break in” to join our society. In no other country in the world do its citizens hold as many rights and freedoms. No other country has the opportunity and the great responsibility to self-govern as we, the citizens of the United States, do.

In watching the recent events and outbursts designed to disrupt, dismantle, and delegitimize our society and government, I am sad to see the disunity in these United States. This is not good for our nation. The spirit of anarchy should not be allowed to fester and grow. I hope that you will join me to pray and to work for our nation’s best interests and unity. I believe the answer to what ails us lies in developing a more godly, patriotic, informed, critical thinking and intentional voting citizenry that seeks not their own good, but the good of the nation as a whole. A citizenry that loves their neighbor as their self. Towards that end, here are some lessons that I learned as a child from my parents, teachers, and mentors about sportsmanship and life. Some in the younger generations may not have seen these teachings before, so I hope you will enjoy them, take note and let them guide and enrich your life.

LESSONS OF SPORTSMANSHIP AND LIFE FROM A LOUISIANA LADY

1. Life isn’t always fair. I just hated hearing my mom tell me that over and over, but it’s true.

2. You have to play the game to have a chance to win. Get in the game.

3. In almost every case, the more skilled or competitive player or team will win.

4. You won’t always win, even if you work and try hard.

5. There are no awards for just showing up and participating.

6. Opponents will often work and fight just as hard, or harder, to win as you did. Life’s tough.

7. When you give your best efforts and still lose, there’s no shame in that.

8. Competing by the rules with integrity and fairness is expected.

9. Cheating is wrong.

10. It is important to be a “good sport.” Otherwise, you are a bad loser.

11. You don’t argue about the rules of the game after the game is over.

12. You may not have a hissy fit if you lose. You’ll be disciplined if you do.

13. Be gracious in loss and victory. Learn to sincerely show respect and congratulate an opponent.

14. Learn to “follow the leader” elected or selected even when he/she wasn’t your preference.

15. Know that there might be a next time, or there might not be a next time for a rematch. Sometimes you just get one chance at something.

16. Remember that President Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” from Matthew 12:25 (NIV)

17. It is often beneficial if you can get along with those with which you disagree. We know that Galatians 5:15 (ESV) says, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” So, don’t burn your bridges and boats.

18. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” I John 4:20-21 (NIV) Love is the greatest commandment.

19. About authority, remember Romans 13:1-7 (NIV) which says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience…” Respect those in authority, whether you like them or not because they are under authority too.

20. Don’t forget that “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)

21. Winning doesn’t make us better than others.

22. Losing is not the end of the world, and God is in charge of the end of the world too. (See Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32)

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. May God bless you and yours.

Robin House

Open Doors and Opportunity

In a new year I often feel like I have a new beginning point and opportunities. New resolutions, renewed plans to try again or start over, and the desire to set new goals for the coming year come to mind after Christmas and in the first weeks of the new year. Sometimes I make resolutions for the new year, and sometimes I don’t. This year I am having a “take 2” shot at one of the major resolutions from last year. I “sort of” like making resolutions but often bite off more than I can chew. Like a child in front of a restaurant buffet or at a church pot luck dinner, my ideas – like my eyes are often bigger than I can possibly handle. Committing to a better diet, exercising regularly, beginning new projects, exploring interests and learning new skills all call to me. I like challenging goals. I like the satisfaction I get when I have completed a difficult task well. It gives me feelings of confidence, accomplishment, optimism, and fulfillment when a goal is achieved. It just makes me feel good!

Today opportunities abound for many worthy causes and goals. Just Google it, and you’ll see. As a child of the 70s, I grew up with the “Superwoman myth.” It said that as a woman, I could do it all, be it all, and have it all. Both experience (I tried it.) and wisdom have taught me that I can’t do it all, be it all, and have it all. So how do I choose what priorities to address, goals to set and plans to make? I credit my husband for pointing out and sharing a passage in II Corinthians 2:12-13 for helping me address this question. I read this passage again this week and want to share it now.

Paul had travelled to Troas to preach the gospel to the people there. The Scripture says that he had an open door from the Lord, but Paul had no “peace of mind” or confidence in his ability to carry on the work in Troas. Paul said that because his brother Titus was not there with him, he said goodbye to the people of Troas and went on to Macedonia. It seems that Paul gave a pass to Troas in his missionary journey to share and spread the gospel. What did that mean for Paul then? What does it mean today?

Here’s what I think. Sometimes we have great opportunities open to us for doing God’s will and good in our world, but something is just not quite right. A specific ingredient is missing, or the timing is not quite right in the moment. In Paul’s case, the Lord gave him an open door of opportunity in Troas, but Paul didn’t walk through it. In Paul’s example, I see that I don’t have to go through every door of opportunity either — even if the Lord opens the door. I believe that if God really wants me to go in a particular direction or through a particular “door,” He has just as much power today as He did when He dealt with Jonah to send me through any “door” He wants me to enter. I can say that I have had some “Jonah-like” experiences during my life, minus the fish, of course. Second, I think it is important to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Not now.” Sometimes, like Paul, I don’t have a “peace of mind” about a project or goal. Third, I need to remember that some plans and goals are better achieved with the help of a trusted colleague or friend. Some goals are just not meant to be completed alone and may need to be deferred until help arrives. The church Jesus established is an excellent example of this principle. The body of Christ works best when it works together to support, nourish, and spur its members to love and good works. God made us to need each other. If not, why did God make Eve for Adam? If not, why did God tell Adam and Eve to be one as husband and wife and have children? If not, why did Christ establish his church for his followers?

I hope that as we encounter various opportunities in this new year, that we will remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 where He says to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and all the things we need will be provided to us. In addition let’s look at the very next words of Paul in II Corinthians two after he reveals that he left Troas to go on to Macedonia to preach the gospel. In II Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Paul knew — and I think we can see, that wherever he went and whatever “door” he entered, as he put and served God first, God made him effective in His service. In the same way, we, too, can be effective and successful with our goals and plans as we go through whatever “doors of opportunity” we may enter.

May God guide and bless you in all ways!

Robin House

Additional study verses Colossians 3:2, Psalm 119:112, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 16:3, II Timothy 1:7