Sunday, September 26, 2010

RETREAT? I think today's Church has done enough retreating. Retreats, Retreats and more Retreats! Isn't it time the Church does some advancing? T

I think today's Church has done enough retreating.

Retreats, Retreats and more Retreats! Isn't it time the Church does some advancing?

The way I look at it, retreats were created by Jesus to pull aside, regroup, and motivate His disciples who were physically tired and spiritually exhausted from 24/7 serving. Honestly now, Is the average American Christian today really tired and exhausted because of they're working for God 24/7 ?

I think not!

Today's Church retreats should be better named. Rename them, maybe, R&R (Rest and relaxation.) or R&M (Reorientation and Motivation) or FD (Fellowship Day!)

But retreat? Come on!

To a soldier, retreat means only one thing ... and it isn't advance.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Back then, I mean way back then; my sister and I used to save our pennies, nickels and dimes in our little piggy banks. (As Gentiles I guess piggy banks were O.K; the Jews don't have piggy banks. They just aren't Kosher!)

How often I would take my nickel and dime to "Woolworth's Five & Dime". You could buy some neat stuff for a dime or even five cents. Everything us poor boy's wanted but couldn't afford. I remember wiping my little eyes across the counter scanning all the good stuff!

Everything in Woolworth's was "made in Japan" ... or "Made in USA!"

In a matter of years it seems that Woolworth's has morphed into today's popular 99-cent store! (Pardon me while I search for the 'cent' key on my keyboard! Dang! It's not here anymore!) The 99-cent store; one of China's greatest contributions to America; a big store where you could buy a variety of colorful stuff for under a dollar. Wow!

Not can but could ... note past tense.

I've noticed a subtle change creep in to the 99-cent stores. Have you noticed it too? They've added two words! ... "and UP!"

99-cents and up! (read that small print.)

Those paper dollars again ... floating up, just beyond our grasp!

I can't help but wonder how long It's going to be before we no longer find the $ sign on our keyboards?

Oh! And how long will it be before we have "99-Dollar" stores. Everything in the whole store for under a hundred dollars?

I think they call it inflation!

Don't laugh, it could happen.

China, keep up the good work; we'd be dead without you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Some have been confused when I use the term 'the deserving poor'. I'm not putting them down, I'm simply calling it what it is; poverty that's deserved. Poverty that's a consequence of a line of bad decisions.

It's true, we work with the 'deserving poor'!

Naturally some of Jesus doctrine on giving to the poor would have a Jewish spin on it. I think what our Lord pushed was helping the poor including the 'deserving poor'. Examples: The leper, the blind, the cripple, the orphaned, the widowed ... those who had little or no part in they're plight. These poor were not responsible for their situation. Those I would call the 'un-deserving' of their plight ... the 'un-deserving' poor.

However another perspective surfaces in Matt 25 where Jesus does address the 'deserving' poor. 'Visiting those in prison'. Grace appears for the sinners ... those of us who are 'deserving' of our plight.

The Believer's love or compassion must never become affected by 'hair-splitting' legality! The Bible gives no list of do's or don'ts when it comes to helping the poor. A legal doctrine as to how, who, when, and where would simply rule out Grace! Of course we must at times make a judgment call, but always with the honest of motives ... always with the bottom line of grace.

The grace we received, we return to others.

I personally help both the 'deserving poor'; the beggar, the addict, and the 'undeserving poor;' the orphan, the widow, and I try to free myself of a judgmental attitude.

As to what I call the 'deserving' poor; I would define them as those who are like most of the poor Spectrum works with; people of poor judgment who are living out their own consequences. Most of these 'deserving poor' are where they are because they have made bad decisions; many are lazy and/or addicted to drugs. Thousands captured and content with their poverty-sub-culture and confirmed by the many well meaning American groups giving them food and clothing.

There is no way we can turn our hearts from the innocent children born into this kind of 'sub-culture'. Indeed they are 'un-deserving poor' but quietly learning the lifestyle of poverty.

In Mexico there is an all too common saying "what I don't see doesn't exist." Even as Christians many of us have the same philosophy as we turn our eyes away from the ugly and uncomfortable truth.

The big question for us as true Christians ... does grace discriminate? The answer is simply no. The way I read it; to God we're all poor, wretched, blind sinners awaiting condemnation.

Enter, God's grace.

How I relate to the poor around me says something about my Christian maturity. If I'm eager to discriminate between the 'deserving poor' and 'un-deserving' poor! It sounds a bit like the bigot Lawyer asking Jesus ... "and who is my neighbor?" The motive behind that question was so clear!

Many who love to argue the issue never give a cent to charity anyway.

It's true that as Christians we must make good and responsible decisions when we are faced with helping the poor, but our response to the need must be the result of a clean and godly motive. Grace and wisdom combine to give a proper response.

I hope to go through life with a godly balance in meeting the needs of all poor, the deserving; the un-deserving alike, and when I err, and err I will ... may I err on the side of grace.

My prayer: God, release my grip on the money you give me so it will do the good it was intended to do.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


One of the first things I do when I get to Kauai is to visit the Grand Hyatt Kauai ... a first class, ten star resort hotel.

As to perfection, this resort must be high on God's list of perfects!

Now this is where I belong!

These are where my kind of people stay and play. I strategically parked about two blocks away. Grabbed my dark glasses and my tall Starbucks latte cup that I keep in the car for just such occasions, and leisurely headed into the lobby of The Grand Hyatt ... carrying my Starbucks cup.

I was dressed like my kind of people dress, cool, yet casual. Understated sophistication; I believe that's the phrase. And, of course, holding my tall Starbucks cup in hand. (I'll have to mention that a tall Starbucks coffee here at the Hyatt costs over $3.00.)

So I fit right in.

I figure I was created a big tuna by God, so why swim with the little sardines? This is my annual gate to Tuna Ville! (Or as we would say in Kauai; Ahi Ville.)

I carefully sat down on one of their clean comfortable chairs overlooking the ocean. I sat there with a thoughtful pose ... and thought. That's what big tunas do, they think!

Oh look!

Four beautiful swimming areas. All of these lovely pools were posted with signs listing what you couldn't do and where you couldn't do it. Rule number seven made a lot of sense; "NO electrical appliances in the pools"... no toasters, waffle irons or microwave ovens. In another area the small print was puzzling. No bodily fluids (or solids) in the pools! No spit, no pee, no runny noses or sweat! A severe warning to curb your bodily urges. I noted that this didn't seem to apply to the fish or fowl.

I struck out at the swimming pools as I was sweating ... and beside that I can't swim.

My kind of people, in appropriate swim wear, were lounging around in white chairs that circled the pools. Reading books and holding beverages. Pure leisure!

It was early, and I felt my Starbuck's was in.

Others were looking at the ocean and lounging in chairs under lovely shade trees. Amazing how the landscapers, years ago, planted these shade trees right where the chairs were ... that's planning ahead! That's vision. That's why these guys are paid the big bucks.

And that's why the Hyatt is the Hyatt!

There were warning signs at the ocean too, a list of don'ts to Mother Nature! One I noted was "Don't turn your back on the ocean!" (Been there, done that!)

I visited the smart clothing shops and the little gift shops all the while casually holding my signature Starbuck cup. Later I conversed with their two older parrots ... who seemed to sense I didn't belong there, but fortunately for me they kept their beaks shut.

This day was working out well ... two hours, with my kind of people, and I haven't spent a cent!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I wonder if self-service started with the old gumball machine? You put your coin in, you turn the knob, you hear your gumball roll down the shoot, you lift the lever, you grab the ball ... and there it is! You've paid for the product and done all the work in getting the dumb gumball.

I remember when there were "service" stations. Remember them?

We all know what a gas station is, but how many of us actually remember way back when gas stations were actually called service stations, and for good reason; they gave us service ... and with a smile.

Today we drive in to the gas station, pump our own gas and off we go. Back then we drove into the service station and were actually greeted by a service person, who filled our tank, checked our oil and washed our windshield. If we needed a map, it was there and it was free. In the service station there was a clean bathroom that didn't require a key to use it. (Oh! And the price was lower too.)

Drive In's were hot too. Service with a smile! It wasn't the experience of facing a big board of selections where you converse with a loudspeaker and drive on through to one of two small bullet proof windows, pay and then collect the goodies! No, Drive In's were where cute girls on skates would come on up to your car, smile, attach a tray and take your order, then skate back with all your goodies! Now THAT was service!

The other day I walked in to a Rite-aid drug store looking for vitamins. I looked and looked for the vitamins and couldn't find them, so I looked for a sales person and couldn't find one. I found the whole store had only three people in it and two of them were at the counter and the third person, myself, continued looking for vitamins. How did AID get into the name? Something wasn't Rite.

Remember that black thing we called a telephone? And along with the telephone there were operators; human operators who talked to you (and spoke your language?). Remember when you called a business and there was someone human who answered? Then came the more efficient do-it-for-us magnetic phone maze. Replacing the human with a more efficient and impersonal magnetic tape that suggests seven selections, "push or say 3"!

How I love sweet synthetic Sally with her cold correctly enunciated words. It's embarrassing to converse with someone who actually isn't.

Even more convenient, log on! Do-it-yourself banking or better said, on-line-banking! And of course passwords, I love passwords!

Do-it-yourself check-out-counters are springing up. No waiting simply do-it-yourself.

Serve yourself! Lost, alone in a world of everything!

Serve yourself; rightly translated; do our work for us.

We love you dear sucker ... er, customer!

Ah! How I love progress!

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Time I've spent working for the Government and the time I've spent working for the private sector. How different.

In my younger years I've had the privilege of working for both our Government and what they call the "private sector." There is a very real difference between the two. Punching time cards is common to both ... from then on the differences become apparent.

Working in my private sector job I was expected to produce. I was expected to work! Things were laid out in man-hours and we had a boss who was there to see that we kept busy. He would walk around rubbing his hands together and singing ... "Go Go, Go Go Go!" On occasion the company brought in "Efficiency experts." They were dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a clip-board, they simply watched us with this question in mind. "How can this man do his job simpler and faster?" Am I making the company profit? If not ... I go! On my private sector job I went home feeling I had earned my pay!

Now on the Government payroll it was different. It was more who you knew than what you did. I was young and inexperienced; I remember working my buns off only to be told that "I was working too fast and, well, we work slower here." (The message? I was showing them up!) I got the point and slowed down. On occasion I remember my boss telling us in so many words, "get lost. Get out of sight ... we have nothing to do today." I would head for the tail cone of one of the airplanes on the assembly line and sit inside, out of view, with the rest of the crew ... that's where I drew my best cartoons. My Government time was boring and political. We eventually got the job done, but at what expense?

I'm one of those who believe that we have way too much Government; City, State and Federal!

My advice for the Government dilemma is very simple; fire a third of all Government workers and put the rest to work!