Friday, November 30, 2012

A Lack Of Restraint Leads To Ruin.

    One of the basic tenants of liberal thinking is that total freedom or  pure liberty,  can only be fully achieved in a society,  where there  are little or  no restraints. One need only to analyse such thinking to realize the all to obvious fallacy in this premise.The truth is,  even freedom must have some limitations. I'll use a classic example to illustrate this point. All Americans, are assured of the freedom of speech but I wouldn't suggest yelling at the top of one's  lungs the word fire in a dark sold out movie theater. Such an action,  would crate a panic and people would literally trample over the top of each other trying to reach the nearest exit.
    As I consider various moral trends in American society today,  I find that often,  America,  still follows certain biblical guild lines. I'm afraid however,  that more and more the guidelines they  are choosing to follow are the ones expressed in Genesis, 6:5 the passage reads as follows; "And God,  saw that the wickedness of man was great and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was only evil continually." American society, as a whole may not have reached this threshold just yet, but much of American society,  certainly follows the moral guidelines found in the biblical book of Judges, 21:25 the passage reads as follows; "In those days, there was no king in Israel and each man did that which was right in his own eyes." The words found in this passage,  seem to summarize the basic liberal progressive philosophy many in this nation, now choose to follow.
    Benjamin Franklin, warned against following such a philosophy for he knew such philosophy would destroy what was then a fragile American republic. Franklin, said, the following;"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As a nation becomes more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Franklin, also warned the new nation against an over reliance on the federal government to meet all of an individuals needs. His words,  were said 230 years ago but he could have easily said them today,  they are as follows;"When the people find,  they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
    Right now,  President Obama, seeks, unlimited  power to raise the governments debt ceiling, without seeking approval from the Congress.If the House, is unable to garnish a suitable compromise regarding the fecal cliff America's economy now faces, I fear that Obama,  will be granted such power and such a seizure of  power,  could very well threaten the economic survival of the nation. Liberty and freedom,  are the by products of man's free will. Free will,  was one of God's greatest gifts to man kind but abused and exercised without necessary restraint, it  can lead the the destruction of our American society, for indeed,  freedom, coupled withe responsible restraint,  is the essence of true liberty. One can only pray, that America, as a nation, will seek God's guidance for only he,  can restore such a necessary balance. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wisdom, Often Requires, An Absence Of Self Interest.

    If there was ever a time in America,Where men and women with political wisdom were needed, that time is now. Indeed, in many aspects, the very future of this nation, now now hangs in the balance. As a Christian, I know that all true wisdom, comes from God. As I further ponder how one might acquire such  wisdom. It occurs to me to take a fresh look at the life of king Solomon. According to the Bible, Solomon, was only a young boy when his father king David, died The Bible says God,  spoke to Solomon, and ask him what he might give him. It should be noted that this is one of the few times in biblical history, where in a sense God,  becomes the ultimate Santa Clause, because  God,  tells Solomon he will give him  what ever he desired most. Think about that, what are somethings one might be tempted to ask for? Money, fame, power political influence women, long life, I suspect Solomon, being a young man considered all of these things but in the end, what he ask God,  for was wisdom. This request, was made with humility and an absence of self interest because of this, God,  was pleased with young Solomon's request and he not only made king Solomon,  the wisest king in the known world at that time but all the other things Solomon, might have wished for he also obtained.
    It wasn't too long be fore King Solomon,  had a chance to demonstrate his great wisdom. The Bible says,  one day two mothers stood before  him. Apparently, the night before, one of these two women had a baby that died in the night, and so in a fit of grief, one one them stole a baby from the other and now both women, claimed to be the mother of the stolen child and it would be king Solomon's task to determine who the child's real  mother was. King Solomon, tells a nearby servant, to take a sword and cut the child in half and give one half to one woman and one half to the other. Whereupon, one mother relinquished her right to the child and told Solomon, to let the child live with the other mother. The other mother however insisted, that the child still be cut in half and at that moment, King Solomon knew that the mother who was willing to give give the child up in order that it might live was the child's true mother for she also had wisdom that was absent of her own self interest and king Solomon,  was able to discern the unselfish in tent of a true mothers heart.
    Fast forward to today in America,  this nation finds itself with a shortage of real men and women off political wisdom and true  leadership primarily, because each politician no matter what office they may hold, is more concerned with the next election and their own political future as opposed to the future of this nation and the next generation. If America, is ever to economically recover and if America's future is ever to be bright and filled with hope again, America's political leaders must humble themselves and ask God,  for the wisdom that can only come from God. Before God,  will grant such wisdom to America's leaders in government, God, must see in them an attitude of true humility and there  must be a noticeable absence of concern for their own self interest and political preservation. One can only pray and hope that such men and women in positions of political leadership still can be found in this nation. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thank Heavens, Men And Women Are Indeed, Different.

    I recently heard a woman in my neighborhood, make what I hope was just a joke about her husband and men in general, she was talking to another woman in our neighborhood and she said, the following;"I really don't expect much from my husband , after all,  he's just a man, and men  aren't worth much but they have their uses I guess, their handy, if you need a tire changed or a  tough jar opened or maybe a lawn mowed.' As I said, I hope that woman, from my neighborhood was joking because,  if she wasn't,  I wouldn't be surprised one day if I heard that her and her husband had gotten a divorce.
    Look, I will be the first to admit, that women are often ignored, taken for granted, and often treated like something to be  owned instead  of a person to be cherished and honored by their husbands. As A Christian I think sometimes,  even Christian husbands, think that asking a wife to be submissive to them means that she becomes nothing more than an ever willing slave whose sole purpose in life is to carry out every whim of  his will,  and nothing could be farther from the truth. Ladies, I want you to know that I realize the seventies totally happened, your fully liberated you are indeed,  woman and I have heard your roar and I think you have a point  let me assure you  again,  I hear you. Today, however,  I must admit,  I think the pendulum, has swung too much the other way here is what I mean. I totally appreciate the fact that a woman can and  often does,  work just as hard if not harder than any man. I can admire a woman who can get her hands dirty in the garden or on the farm or any place where the situation or occasion may require it. On the other hand, I don't think  most men,  want women to be so much like a man that often they can't tell the difference. Ladies,  I have to tell you this, I didn't marry my wife because I thought of her as just one of the boys and ladies,  once in a while,  a man needs to feel like he needs to take care of you even if you know your perfectly capable of taking care of yourself because,  that's what makes him feel that he is a man.  By the way bachelors,  let me go out on a limb and say this, when your  dating,  what you consider to be a a very fine and lovely young lady if your not prepared to pick up the check when you ask her out, GET A REAL LIFE AND GET A REAL JOB!Above  all single guys,  remember this,  if your any kind of decent then you should know that all she really owes you after the date is a heart felt thank you if she had a good time. If you expected more than that, then as a man your far from decent because you have confused your date with a prostitute.
    I have been married for thirteen years, and I am just a plain and simple man but if seems to me that a marriage or any relationship on any level should all be based on one key principal it's called mutual respect. Yeah that's right sing it,  Aretha Franklin, R E S P E C T. From a Christian perspective, Paul, puts it this way in Philippians, 2:3 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind. Let each esteem other better than themselves. Christian men,  if you try to consider your wife's needs before your own I guarantees you,  yours,  will be met because your wife will be more than happy to meet them. You see Christian husband,  the art of submission is a two way street, if you would have your wife submit to you then you,   must submit to her and show her you respect her as a person you realize,  she has worth and opinions you need to value,  this will show her you understand her needs and she in turn,  will trust you and a wife has no problem submitting to a husband she feels appreciates her and understands what her needs are.Wives,  just once in a while,  boaster your husband's ego and go ahead  and let him be the man and provide and at least on some level,  attempt,  to to take care of you. It's okay ladies,  for you to admit that you need your husband,  for a whole lot more than a stubborn jar lid or a tire change or a well keep lawn. The truth is,  both men and women  are  different and personally,  I thank God,  for that difference if Christian husbands and wives,  both submit their will to God, they will have no problem submitting to each other As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Obama, Is A Poor Substitute For Jesus.

    Just when one thought that the liberal progressives obsession with Obama,  could get no worse,up steps comedian and academy award winning actor Jamie Foxx,  to proudly proclaim to all who recently attended the Soul Train, awards in Las Vegas,that President Barack Obama, was their Lord and Savior. This statement of  profound ignorance and blasphemy, only demonstrates how lost and misguided and apparently confused Jamie Foxx really is. True Christians, know that Obama,  is a poor substitute for Jesus. However, just to be fair let's do a comparison.
    Jesus, could heal anyone by having them just touch his garments. Obama,  can't even heal one person not even with Obama care. Jesus,  had the ability, to make the wind and the waves obey his will and therefore, Jesus was able to calm a raging storm in an instant. I admit, I am only a simple man but it seems to me, that if Obama had this ability, one would have thought he might have used them before Hurricane Sandy devastated New York, New Jersey, and most of the east coast recently.Jesus, could end hunger he was able to take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed over five thousand people. Obama can't even keep everybody in this country employed let alone fed, not even with 47 million people on food stamps and the number of Americans on food stamps is still continuing to rise. Jesus,  walked on water. Obama hasn't walked on anything except the Constitution of the United States, he's most defiantly, walked all over that! Jesus could raise the dead, and personally conquer death on the third day on the morning of his resurrection.Obama can't raise anyone or anything from the dead, surely if he could, Ambassador Stevens, and three other brave Americans, would still be here. I believe that these comparisons make it abundantly clear, that Barack Obama,  is indeed,  a poor substitute for Jesus.
    I would like to leave Mr Foxx,  and all those who read these words just one more bit of information to consider and remember. The Bible says in Philippians, :10-11 man will either willingly or unwillingly,  acknowledge Jesus,  as Lord,  of all creation. The passage reads as follows;""That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, of things in earth, and things under the earth.' "And every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ, is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." and that is one title that Barack Obama,  will never be able to claim! To put it another way, I am reminded of a Christian, tee shirt a friend of mine was wearing recently, the front of the tee shirt said, "Every knee is gonna bow, the back of the tee shirt said in huge letters,  COUNT ON IT!!! As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting Old Is Hazardous To Your Health.

    My mother is 87 and in surprisingly good health. She takes no medications on any kind of regular basis and her mind is very clear. I call her about three times a week to check on her. The truth is,  at 87 she is in better shape then I am.When I talk to my mother on the phone and ask how she is she just says, "I may be 87 but I'm never going to get old because getting old is hazardous to your health." Indeed, my mother is blessed, to be in such good health but as I consider her words regarding getting old. I now realize there may be more wisdom in her words then one might think.
    I am 52 now and I take ten different medications some control my high blood pressure others,  control the pain of my arthritis and still other medications help to relax my muscles in my back and legs for better movement.I have noticed over the years, that it is taking more and more medication to keep my body from driving me crazy from just dealing with the pain of walking or standing and no doubt I will one day have to resign my self to a wheel chair or maybe one of those motorized  scooters one hears so much about these days on TV I am determined to walk while I can and therefore for now, I use a cane. My medications keep going up and some of my medicines are no longer covered by my prescription drug plan.  Unlike my mother I am not in tip top shape and I find my self pondering this question, If I live to be eighty or eight five but I suddenly need a hip replaced will I be able to have it done? 
    Obama care,  seems to suggest that as one gets older if it starts be something less than cost efficient to keep one a live then a government appointed  panel of strangers may have the power to decide that it is more economically feasible just to make one comfortable and just wait till one dies. I see this as a type of life rationing although the government , under Obama care,  will probably call it a more realistic use of health care resources.If this type of life rationing  is allowed to be put into practice then what one will have is a practice of assisted suicide sanctioned by the government. One might simply call this practice abortion for old people.
    Patrick Henry, made this very brilliant observation concerning controlling the power of government. he believed this was the constitutions maim purpose. He said the following;"The constitution, is not an instrument for the government, to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government." Based on these words I don't see how the government has any right to tell anyone when it is time for them to die. Life is a gift from God. Since the constitution says,  all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among them life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I want to know what gives the government the right to decide when one's pursuit of happiness must come to an end? When Obama care,  goes into full affect in 2014, I hope I can be like my mother and refuse to get old because under Obama care, getting old is hazardous to your health. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Least Of These.

    Matthew 25:40 reads as follows;"And the King shall answer and say unto them, "Verily, I say unto you in as much as ye have done it to  the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." As I consider this passage in the Bible, I pause to reflect on the words, the least of these. After some further thought I think I know what Jesus,  meant when he said,  the least of these. For a Christian,  the least of these,  refers to anyone a Christian may come across in their life that has a a specific need of one kind or another. Admittedly, some needs are greater than others but Christians, are encouraged by Christ,  to meet the needs of others whenever possible.
    I remember as a teenager,  in 1977, my dad took in a family and they lived with us for almost a year. They had just been evicted from their apartment and the head of this family had just lost his job and had just started working at  a new job but wasn't  making much money when he first took the job so,  my dad,  basically carried the family. Our house already had my  mother and dad and my sister and I living in it and now their were four other people living in it an additional mother and dad and two children, But alas, only one bathroom! I suppose I don't have to tell you,  your life soon changes when four extra people are sharing your bathroom. I have to also tell you I ate a lot  of spaghetti that year because it was something one could make a lot of and it was cheap and easy to make and  therefore, it would feed everyone.
    A year later,  the dad of this family,  received a big promotion  where he worked and was then able to find a nice house to live in.When the family was finally back on there feet, I kept wondering why they never offered my dad any money for taking them in and basically caring them for a year especially, since my dad worked three jobs that year to be able to help this family. Years later, I ask my dad if this family ever gave  him any money to thank him for carrying them for a year. He said no they didn't but he didn't mind because he did not take them  in with the idea of one day being repaid. Then I asked him,  then why he did it and he said because they were the least of these,  they were fellow Christians, and he was meeting their need  just as if Jesus, had stopped at our house and needed a place to live for a while.All at once,  I understood why  my dad,  carried this family,  for a year he wasn't  doing it to be repaid someday. He did as if he were doing it for Jesus. As Jesus,   in Matthew 25;40 says, in as mush as he have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Are Christian Symbols, Just Relics, From The Past?

    First Corinthians, chapter 13:1 reads as follows;"Though I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not love, I am become a sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal." As A Christian I realize read in proper context, the apostle Paul, is telling Christians, they must share the truth of the gospel with love which means to share the gospel in such a way that one speaks the truth with a sincere desire to bring lost souls to Christ and the lost in turn,  seeing other Christians true love and concern for their lost condition will have a desire to hear  the gospel of Christ.Paul, warns Christians,  that even if their words of the gospel are true and are spoken with great eloquence if the words of truth are spoken without an attitude of love for the hearers, then the words will be empty and have no real meaning.
    I want to focus on a particular phase in this verse consider the words a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,  Paul,  used these words to describe words that were said or music that was played,  that both sounded empty and  had no meaning to the hearers. I want to call your attention to another kind of symbol and sometimes, I think it's more than a coincidence that the word cymbal and symbol both sound the same. Yes, I know the words and their meaning are totally different but stay with me for a moment. Remember how Paul said,  even the truth of the gospel would sound empty if not spoken  with love to the hearers?  Well, in a strange way perhaps, that also happens  with Christian,  symbols in American society today,
    Christmas,  is in full swing now and you'll see lights and bells candles, and tinsel but it is getting harder and harder to find naivety scenes in public places. even crosses can't be displayed publicly if the public land is owned in some way by the government. Children, may not sing religious Christmas carols,  in school. As a  result,  one doesn't hear much caroling these days. I met a child in my neighborhood, that didn't even know what caroling was.I'm afraid,  in just a few more years the only place you'll  see any Christian symbols like crosses or nativity scenes, will be in a museum where a nativity scene and a cross will then be reduced to just religious relics and artifacts of  the past.One  can hardly say Merry Christmas, anymore without offending someone.Many retail department stores,  won't even say Merry Christmas,  anymore because they face the possibility of a law suit being filed courtesy of the ACLU. As a matter of fact Monday,  in Santa Monica California,  Federal Judge Audrey Collins, ruled that a nativity scene that had been on display in Palisades Park,  for nearly sixty years could no longer be displayed there because atheist  Damon Vix found the display offensive to his atheistic beliefs One can only wonder what will be next.One may ask themselves, why this is happening the answer I believe is because two other symbols of freedom,  are quickly on their way to becoming just religious relics  from the distant past one, is the Bible, and the other is the Constitution of the United States.and they will become just that if Christian patriots,  don't keep speaking up about Americans,  gradually loosing their religious freedoms, Christian Patriots,  everywhere,  must keep fighting the good fight and above all,  keep the faith!  As always,  my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is It Really, Worth Fighting For?

    No doubt many Americans,  are trying to recover today after  over stuffing themselves with too much food    during many Thanksgiving,  meals yesterday. I know I sure am. Just like many others I suppose, I love green bean casserole. I found my self almost fighting my friends and family trying to get a second helping of this particular holiday dish.thankfully, there was plenty of it and everyone was able to have as much as they wanted and thus there was no need to fight over who got the the most, the least, or the last of the green bean casserole As anyone can tell you though, there are some people who will fight over anything often for little or no reason.
    Today, I said an extra prayer for my wife Priscilla, for a knew there was at least a possibility, she could be taking her life , in her own hands. She works at the local Walmart, and today, is the dreaded, Black Friday and because of this the Walmart, store where she works, has doubled the stores security. It seems that many of the would be shoppers at Walmart,  at this time of year try to steal various kinds, of electronic merchandise still others start fights and threaten to kill each other if some happens to get the last sixty inch big screen TV on sale at 400 off the regular price be fore they do. I love this time of year. You know, there's nothing like peace on earth and good will towards men and to today in far too many retail stores across this country there is indeed nothing like, peace on earth and good will towards men!
    You know it's funny, my wife Priscilla, is from the Philippines, and sometimes those who find themselves, among the poorest of the poor many times have to fight for food because they don't have enough money to buy enough food for everyone in a given family on a given day.  So often, parents, may not eat on  that day so that there will be be enough food for there children to eat.My wife and I,  are blessed,  to be able to send  some money to her family each month so they won't have to fight to decide who doesn't get to eat on a particular   day because there wasn't enough money, to buy enough food on a given day so everyone could eat. I only wish every family in the Philippines,  was as fortunate as ours.
    Good and brave men often go to war and fight for various aspects of freedom like freedom of worship or freedom of speech or freedom from fear or want and to secure these blessings which only true liberty affords many are more than willing and far too often have fought and died to acquire  these basic God,  given rights,  for those who will live after them because liberties such as these are worth fighting and if the situation arises even  dying for. I would submit to those who may read these words, that there is nothing in a Walmart store or any retail store for that matter that is worth fighting and possibly, dying for. There fore if Americans, who are blessed by God, to be able to live in the greatest nation on earth must fight and possibly die for some reason, at least make sure the reason, is something, worth fighting and possibly dying for. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So What's To Be Thankful For?

    No doubt many Americans,  today will gather with family and friends and have a big Thanksgiving dinner. This meal will no doubt have all of the traditional offerings that make up the standard Thanksgiving dinner including but not necessarily limited to turkey, dressing or some type of designated stuffing, green bean casserole, cram berry sauce hot rolls, sweet potatoes with marsh mellows for added flavor, and of course pumpkin pie for dessert.When Americans set down and have there fill of such marvelous abundance it will be hard to know who got stuffed more  the turkey, or those who sat down to stuff themselves.
    It never falls though, on a day like  Thanksgiving,  there are always those who will say, I have too many bills to pay and I don't have much money. I don't live near family and I don't have many friends,  so what's to be thankful for? For those who may fell that way let's see if I can think of at least five things anyone living in this country can appreciate and be thankful for. I will attempt to do this by asking a series of questions, and hopefully when I'm finished,  anyone who may read these words will have at lest one thing to be thankful for. Let's begin, question one, did you wake up this morning? You did? Congratulations, you have something to be thankful for if only because, there is always a chance you won't in fact, thousands of people all over the world went to sleep last night and didn't wake up this morning for various reasons that range from death due to natural causes, such as old age or other factors like death from war, hunger or disease. From a Christian,  perspective, the truth is, if God,  let you wake up today that was a blessing for you each breath we all take is a gift from God, and tomorrow or even your next breath is promised to no one so if God, decided to let you live another day to make a difference in the lives of those around you be thankful to God,  he let you live another day.
    Question two, are you in reasonably good health? You are? Once again, congratulations, for that in and of itself is another blessing from God, If you need proof of that visit a local hospital, nursing home, or talk to some veterans,  who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq in the last several years and left an arm a leg or an eye over there or came home in a pine box. If you have all you members and can still use them and you are able to do all the things you need to do be thankful to God,  for your  good health. Question three, did you sleep in a perhaps modest but warm house last night? You did? I must say congratulations, again because all over the world, there are those who did not and that includes this country. Have you been to New York or New Jersey lately, enough said. Question four will you eat today? You will? That is another blessing from God and even if you don't have access to a traditional thanksgiving  dinner,  there are churches you could go to that will have one in fact, if you have no food because your not working you still have access to unemployment benefits from the government as well as food stamps and many churches have food pantries for those in immediate need. Keep in mind, third world countries do not have such resources and as a result, hunger,  is rampant.Question five, be honest, is there really another country on earth you'd rather live in other than America? I didn't think so, because Americans, enjoy freedoms and opportunities that other countries can only dream about. I know I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Finally, remember this, even if the grass, is greener, on the other side of your neighbor's fence where you live remember your neighbor's water bill is probably higher than yours! As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Job Qualifications And Work Performance Matter.

    Speaking,  from the perspective of a person that was born with cerebral palsy and therefore, has been handicapped, from birth, I can assure you, I know what it's like to be different and to be treated differently, because of it.I have experienced discrimination on more than one occasion in my life. Discrimination,  is a terrible scourge in any society and while I never asked anyone, to feel the leas bit sorry for me I would submit to you that I feel sorry for those who allow themselves to think that the practice discrimination is acceptable on any level in a free society. I will tell you that growing up with a handicap is a bit of a two edged sword. I remember when I was in school, if I performed well, that couldn't be the reason I received an A it had to be because the teacher took pity on me because of my handicap and just gave me the A. One the other hand, if I didn't perform well in school, well, that was to be expected because after all I had a handicap. At one point in my life, I might have been tempted to give up had it not been for one piece of advice my father gave me when I was nine that .I have never forgotten, he said, " Son, if you need help ask, if you don't prove it!" from that day forward I did just that I made it through high school and college and while I was physically able to work,  held a variety of jobs and I made sure, that not only was I qualified for every job I applied for but as I did my job my performance,  of said job and not my handicap,  kept me employed and looking back now,  I can say I wouldn't have had it any other way.
    The media, and an ever growing number of Democrats, in the Senate, have suggested that the reason United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, is facing opposition as a possible presidential appointment to replace Hilary Clinton, as Secretary of State , is because many of the Republicans, in the Senate have a presupposed disposition towards racism and sexism. If one follows this line of thinking then one would have to wonder how Condoleezza Rice, managed to be confirmed by the Senate, for Secretary of State, unless one chooses to believe that because she happened to be a Republican, the Senate  Republicans,  were able look over the fact she was an African American woman.I cannot speak to the issue of Ambassador Rices qualifications to be Secretary of State indeed, that is a job for the Senate.I would Hope that if Ambassador Rice is appointed by the President for Secretary of State and as such is confirmed by the Senate, that she will obtain this position based on her qualifications and job performance alone and not because it may appear to be a good political public relations move on the part of the  Democrats, to have to have Ambassador Rice as Secretary of state just because she just  happens to be a Decorate who just happens to be an African American and I would hope that Ambassador Rice wouldn't have it any other way for while I believe she should never have to apologize for her mere existence as I don't I would also hope that she and the Senate would both agree that she has nothing to apologize for regarding her job qualifications or her past job performance. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just,  some words to think on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Price Of No Compromise.

    As I consider the economic threat of the fiscal cliff and the very real possibility that Americans,  may have to face a tidal  wave of new tax increases and massive cuts in the nation's defense budget, I cautiously have to ask myself,  are the Republicans, in  the House, willing to pay the political price if no reasonable  compromise can be achieved. I like most Americans, do not willingly embrace tax increases on anyone right now at the same time,  I see nothing could that can come from a potential stalemate if Speaker Boehner, is forced to leave the negations table with no deal because  he was pressured to make no compromise on tax increases.    I must say I don't envy the political position Speaker Boehner, finds himself in he is caught in a virtual catch twenty two as were.No matter what decision he makes he stands to both blamed and criticized for it. On the one hand, if he agrees to even the slightest increase in taxes, staunch conservatives, like those that make up the Tea Party, will accuse Speaker Boehner, of caving in to the Democrats, in the Senate. On the other hand, if he holds firm to the political position of no tax increases, for any reason on anyone right now, He gains the temporary praise of his conservative base but he must then brace himself for the negative press and media coverage the Senate Democrats, will make sure to generate. One can almost imagine, what the headlines, in all the major newspapers would be in perfect concert with an all to consistent barrage of media sound bites all saying something along the lines of Boeher and House Republicans, decide to do nothing as the nation now faces certain tax doom and assured economic recession.
    It may be well to talk about ones stand on conservative economic principal, as practical matter, I have to wonder though  when January 2013,  rolls around about six weeks from now and 315 million Americans begin facing the reality of paying some 560 billion dollars in new taxes,  will the conservatives, that beg Speaker Boehner at this moment,  to stand firm on no tax increases,on the wealthy, will the same conservatives, that are asking him to stand with them now be willing to stand with him then when he is blamed by the Senate Democrats for being unable to reach a suitable compromise and as a result the nation must deal with an economy in what most certainly will be an  assured recession and a weakened,  military that will threaten the nation's national security.
    As a Christian , I know, that even the Bible, warns against making any major decision without first, counting the cost of that decision. Jesus, said in Luke 14:28, "For which of you intending to build a tower, siteth not down first and counteth the cost whether he hath sufficient to finish it?"I realize Speaker Boehner, is facing a critical challenge much more momentous then building a tower he is however attempting to build and preserve the nation's economy and he must consider the cost that comes with any decision he makes concerning the fiscal cliff the country now faces. No matter what decision Speaker Boehner, may make, he and the rest of the country will have to live with it, All I'm saying to conservatives is be sure you have counted the cost of making no compromise when it comes to the fiscal cliff remember this, the idea of no compromise often sounds nice, until it's time to pay the price of no compromise as always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words to think on.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Everything, Will Be Fine, As Long As I Get Mine, First!

    It seems, it's that time of year again, no I don't mean Thanksgiving, because the truth is a lot of the retailers in this country simply ignore that particular holiday except of course,  various grocery stores and other types of food markets. Christmas, basically starts right after Halloween, indeed I saw my first Christmas, commercial November first. I have to admit we started decorating for Christmas,  before  Thanksgiving, but only because my wife as to work on Thanksgiving, therefore we had no choice. I love the basic Christmas, traditions, I'm no  Scrooge,  by any means but their is one Christmas, tradition that has developed in the last ten years or so that I will never understand and that is this retail Christmas Tradition called,  Black Friday.
    Would someone please explain this to me? What is this madness? Tell me, what is this incessant motivation people seem to possess that will literally, make them camp out in a retail parking lot for at least a week just to possibly save 200 dollars  or so on a computer or maybe a big screen TV? I saw one of these retail buzzards, on the news, now get this he goes into a Walmart,  and buys a tent, sleeping bag a heater a small grill, oi lamps food, and by the time he pays for everything he spent 300 dollars but he's doing all this camping out for a whole week because on Black Friday, if he gets in the Walmart,Target, or Best Buy door before those of us who are sane in this country he might save 200 dollars but he already spent 300 dollars in camping gear to accomplish this. Keep in mind there are still a good number of people who may have to camp out if the live in New York or New Jersey, and still don't have power or a house to even live in as a result of the after math of Hurricane Sandy, but this guy spent money to camp out in a parking lot for a week.
    I just don't get it. You can go on the Internet right now and shop,  until you find the best price on almost anything you could possibly want but this guy and a lot of others just like him prefers to camp out in a parking lot for a week. One person said,  he really wanted to be the first person in the door at one of the big retail places, to be the first,  to get his big screen TV. He said, "everything will be fine as long as I get mine first!" Keep in mind that just a few years ago, a Walmart, employee, got trampled to death because too many people wanted to be the first person in the door to get a big screen TV or computer. I am at this point compelled to ask my self, what's wrong with these people? What's wrong with this country?
    The Bible,  describes a problem in Revelation, 3:17 that seems to apply to many, in America, today. I realize placed in proper context, this passage is talking about the church  at Laodicea, but I think America has the same problem this church had. The passage reads as follows;"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind and naked." Many in America, have forgotten what it means to be thankful but I'll bet people in New York or New Jersey could tell them a lot, about being thankful. Look, I 'm all for Christmas, what I'm not all for is unnecessary greed which is clearly on display when people would rather camp out in some cases in cold weather just to get some electronic device be fore some one else does but apparently,   in this country for many tis the season to be stupid! As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

God, Always Knows, What He's Doing.

    Last night while  watching the news, I saw the lasted news concerning Israel and Hamas,  The Middle East,  has always been a troubled spot in the world and it seems,  it's been that way as long as anyone can remember who studies the history of the Middle East. As I saw what was happening on the news I said, "Lord, why must there be so much war in the world?" My daughter Cassandra, heard me and ask, " Daddy, didn't you say that God, has the whole world in his hands?" I looked at her with her eyes all filled with hope and childlike innocence and said, "yes honey, that's what the song says." She then said, "don't worry daddy, if God,  allows war in the world I'm sure he has a reason for it." "We must trust God, besides daddy,  isn't that what faith is?" "Yes I said, and then she said, "don't worry daddy, God, always knows what he's doing."
    Sometimes, as a father, I marvel at the wisdom that comes from the mouth of my own daughter. As a Christian, I know her words were true.  God, does always know, what he's doing in the word. In the Bible, in Matthew 24;6 Jesus, said these words, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors  of wars see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass but, the end , is not yet." I don't know if Israel, is going to erupt in all out war with Hamas  or not but if Israel,  chooses to do this, As a Christian, I know I need not worry because nothing that goes on in my life or the world for that matter is no surprise to God. Therefore, I and Christians,  everywhere across this county or all around the world, can take comfort in the knowledge that no matter what is going on in the world as my daughter said Christians, remember, God, always knows, what he's doing. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why Did Obama Win,While Many Jobs, Are Coming To An End?

    My daughter Cassandra, and I were watching the news this morning. Cassandra who to paraphrase Yogi Bear is smarter then the average ten year old, heard the news about Hostess Twinkies, going out of business.She then heard that Papa John's pizza, founder John Schnatter,has said that he will have to make many of his full time employees, part time employees, and charge at least fourteen cents more per pizza because  of the anticipated cost of Obama care, when the law goes into full effect in January of 2014. Cassandra, Likes Twinkies and although we don't eat Papa John's Pizza,  Cassandra, loves any kind of pizza in general as long as it is smothered, in melted mozzarella cheese. I kept  noticing how Cassandra, was really paying close attention to the news and after a while she turned to me and asked this question,"Daddy, with so many companies going out of business, and so many people losing their jobs, why did so many people want to reelect Obama?" I told you she was smarter then the average ten year old. I had no ready answer for her but I said,  that there  almost,  an equal number of people wondering the same thing she was and she said, "yeah, all the people who voted for Romney!"
    After some further reflection on my daughter's poignant question, I realized, it really wasn't that hard to answer. Obama,  was reelected because  he basically promised to use American taxpayers,  money to take care of the problems created by the nations bad economy.Consider this,  if you believe as many in this county do that the government should take care of you then your not too  worried about loosing a job because now you have a reason to collect unemployment and many are in no particular hurry to find a job as long as their unemployment checks keep coming after all no since working until one just has too right? If one is in need of food, one can receive food stamps. If one needs medical care there are free clinics, If one needs a place to live their is government subsidized   housing based on one's income which may be totally free but it is certainly more affable than an average  monthly house payment in general.To many in this country there is seemingly no financial hardship, that can happen to them that the government can't get them out of so why be worried about the nation's economy or the national debt? The government,  doesn't seem too concerned about it right? I am left however with another thought provoking question, what happens, when there aren't enough people working to help carry those that aren't and there aren't enough rich people to tax and America's ability to borrow money from China, is an ability that America, no longer has what then? I suppose then, those who favored a big government welfare state will finally, have something to worry about. as always, my friends, these thoughts remain just some words, to think on.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Eat, Drink, And Be Merry For Tomorrow America May Die.

    My daughter Cassandra, is extremely intelligent. Cassandra, in many ways is already smarter than her mother and I. Last night my wife acquired  a new  cell phone but could not easily figure out how how to use all of the new features that came with her new cell phone. Cassandra,figured out how to use the new phone in a matter of minutes and then she taught my wife and I how to use the new cellphone features.Cassandra is smarter than her mother and I at least in some ways but she is not always wise when it comes to making her own decisions. She recently decided to do her home work a little too close to her bed time and she fell asleep before she could finish her home work.Cassandra,  will always be intelligent but her wisdom which is the proper use of intelligence,  is not yet fully developed. I can conclude then that is what parents are for and therefore,  her mother and I are still needed in her life.
    Sometimes, I think Americans, have become in many ways like wayward or spoiled children and if Obama,  is acting as the American peoples parent as it were, one must conclude Many Americans, may be intelligent but they do not always make wise decisions. If  many Americans, are content to have Obama,  be their parent in time they will discover Obama,  is a permissive parent but he is not necessarily a wise one.Obama, is content to furnish entitlements and other social programs at no cost to many but at a great cost to working American taxpayers in this country and it seems that the number of working Americans,  in this country is steadily decreasing.Many Americans, are not concerned with Americans growing debt. They follow the philosophy of Epicurus, a philosopher who lived from 341-270 BC. His Philosophy is well know even today.Epicureans, those who followed the philosophy of Epicurus, coined the now popular phase eat,  drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.Indeed,  many in this nation seem content to live my this self centered philosophy that is until that ominous as yet unforeseen tomorrow when America,  dies.Some,  have suggested America,  is slowly dying even now and I believe this is indeed the case.
    Obama,  is content to be perceived as a rock star complete with his own groupies. In the eyes of the media and the press he  is seen as one who is to be worshiped as was indicated in his most recent press conference when Christie Parsons,  a so called reporter for the Chicago Tribune, repeatedly congratulated the President,  on his reelection while giving Obama,a  softball question  to answer thus, carefully avoiding any real issues like the economy,  the debt,or Benghazi.Many Americans, are not  concerned with these issues as long as their government check keeps on coming.Obama,  does not have to be transparent as long as a majority of Americans,  are content to let him serve as their parent.Many in America, are not concerned with the truth regarding  any issue the nation may face as long as Obama, promises them that the government will meet their every need..I would give them this warning from Patrick Henry, he said the following;"The liberties of a people never were nor ever will be secure,when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." President Dwight Eisenhower,  gave these words of warning to Americans,  when he said, "Every step we take toward making the state our caretaker of our lives, by that much we move towards making the state our master."
    One need only study history,  to know that every major civilization began to die the moment government was expected to do more for the people than the people were willing to do for themselves.In the last days of Rome,  the people demanded more of everything but Rome's soldiers were too lazy to fight their own battles to secure the increasing amount of funds it was taking to pacify Rome's citizens and maintain control of Rome's empire. As a result Rome,  began either paying Mercenaries to fight their battles for them or paid tribute to various barbarian leaders not to invade  them and in the end, many of  these same  barbarians took control of Rome, and this lead to the fall of Rome's empire. America,  may very well be in her last days and I often wonder when the government checks suddenly end and the eating, drinking, and making quite merry is done what will that ominous tomorrow be like the morning after America, dies. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let Me Get This Straight.

    My Daughter Cassandra, used to really enjoy reciting certain nursery rhymes.I bet many will read these words will remember this on it is as follows;"There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile.He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse and they all lived together in a little crooked house."
   Now,  that you have read this rhyme and no doubt taken a quick trip down memory lane hopefully recalling the carefree days of your childhood, I wonder if many who read this article know that this nursery rhyme is based on a real crooked military leader turned politician in British history.It turns out, the crooked man the poem refers to is a Scottish General,  whose Scottish title was, Sir Alexander Leslie.Sir Leslie,  lived during the days of the Stewart Dynasty and during this time King Charles the First,  occupied the British throne. It appears that in this period of British history,  Scottish General,  Sir Alexander Leslie,  was able to make a covenant of sorts that after several years of fighting between Scotland and England, finally established a boarder between the two countries.In the poem of nursery rhyme this established boarder is refereed to as a crooked stile.The last line  of the poem or nursery rhyme that reads and they all lived together in a little crooked house refers to the fact that an actual boarder agreement between Scotland and England was accomplished. Apparently,  their were those who thought that this agreement was crooked and favored on e country more than the other and indeed if one follows British history one will soon realize that conflicts that often led to wars between these two countries went on for many years.The film Brave Heart,  further chronicles the conflict that existed between these two nations.
    It would seem that today in America, Americans,  are being asked to trust their own version of a crooked man. President Barack Obama,  in conjunction with those who serve in his administration,  seem to have a great deal of difficulty keeping their facts straight on a variety of issues.At the moment,  the horrific tragedy of Benghazi and the absence of truth regarding the facts of what did and did not go on in this seemly endless national security fiasco turned soap opera, is in the political spotlight. One is left to cautiously wonder if the coming testimony of both General Petraeus or Secretary of State Clinton,  will contain the straight truth and thus establish the facts of what really went on be hind the scenes during   the attack on the American  embassy in Benghazi,  on the anniversary of nine eleven. I am afraid any truth that comes out of these hearings conducted by the Congress will at best, a crooked truth.
    The nation's jobless figures were released today and it seems the jobless rate is up considerably an astounding 78000 jobless claims have been filed in the last week and one still has to wonder if the new numbers will be reflected accurately when the national unemployment figures for the month of  November are released to the public. With figures such as these,  I expect unemployment to be back up at eight percent or better provided that the numbers haven't been arranged in a way to provide some less than the straight facts numbers may not lie but sometimes those who record them do thus leaving Americans,  at best, with another crooked truth. Finally,  the nation faces 513 billions dollars in new tax increases if a deal is not reached between the President and Republican controlled House and one can be sure that any deal cut will be crooked and favor the President. the plain truth is one cannot expect straight answers from a crooked Obama,  administration. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Long Can American Taxpayers, Grin And Bear It?

    My daughter Cassandra, is ten and she is very small for her age. She only weighs just over sixty pounds. Although she would tell you,  that she is very responsible and very mature for a young lady her age it seems,  that their are still some things she still enjoys leftover  from early childhood. Almost every night before she goes to bed, she ask my wife Priscilla, to give her a piggyback ride to her bedroom. My wife keeps telling my daughter Cassandra, that she is getting a bit too big and frankly, a bit too heavy for a piggyback ride but I notice some how, my wife is able to finally just smile and left my daughter up on her back and cart her off to bed.
    The truth is my wife,  may complain, each  time she gives a piggyback ride to Cassandra, but I know as well as she does, that Cassandra, will always, be our baby and although she is getting heavier to carry her weight is a burden that my wife is still happy to bear. As a Christian, I know talks about bearing the burdens of others in Galatians,6:2 the apostle Paul says the following:"Bear ye, one another's  burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.Notice however that this law of Christ is done voluntarily out of love and genuine concern for the welfare of others.
    The government, seems to be very good,  at passing laws which result in huge tax burdens,  working men and women all  across this  nation are required to carry. One might say, that in a very real sense, working American taxpayers, are often expected not only to pay their own taxes, but the taxes of many others as well. When the government provides  unemployment benefits or food stamps Social Security and Medicare it is the American taxpayers, who must pay for these entitlements I realize of course senior citizens have earned their benefits but their are still many in country who could work if they really wanted to and were willing to take any job. As I see it, if a person could,  work but doesn't apply  for a given just because it's not the job they may have wanted and they are therefore, are  content to keep receiving various types of government assistance then in affect, such an individual is asking another working taxpayer to bear their burdens burdens in many cases that created because a person chooses to remain lazy.
   As unfair as this practice may be it now appears, President Obama, wishes to impose a  1.6 trillion dollar tax increase over the next ten years this proposal will be a key element in the deal to be worked out with the House to avoid the physical tax  cliff which this economically troubled nation shall surely plunge over if an acceptable compromise is not reached,  between the House and the Senate on behalf of the President The question is, if the Bush tax cuts, are allowed to expire and Obama care forces more and more businesses,  to cut hours or close their doors one can only imagine,  what an additional 1.6 trillion dollar tax increase over the next ten years will do to the nation's economy. Americans have always, been willing to help those in need, but the American taxpayer simply cannot keep giving half the nation a free piggyback ride real changes must be made and real solutions must be implemented very soon because when comes to bearing all these new proposed tax budens I don't think most Americans can grin and bear it much longer. as always, my friends, these thoughts remain just some words to think on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teach Us, To Fish.

    Recently, I found myself, going over my month to month household  bills and other expenses. I seldom find myself,  looking forward to this type of household accounting,  because I know the question never is have the cost of things gone up that's a given, the only question is by how much. As I continued with my household operating cost analysis,  I discover something quite depressing, every bill I have to pay each month had gone up at least fifteen percent or more. I know I am no different than many other Americans, I have all the same bills that any average person,  would have. There was one thing however that hasn't gone up at my house and that would be the amount of money my wife and I have to pay our bills.While I thought about all of the family bills and how best to deal with all their new increased cost, my daughter Cassandra,  came to me and asked, "Daddy, are we still going to have Christmas,  this year? When I asked her why she asked me this question she said,"Well, I just thought Christmas presents especially what I want may be two expensive so, if It is Daddy, we can just have a cheaper Christmas." I assured her that if no one else had Christmas this year she would. when she asked what her mother and I wanted this year for Christmas, I told her that God already gave us the best Christmas present,  any mommy or daddy could ever wish for and when she asked what that might be I simply said, you! I then told her not to worry for as a Christian I knew God would provide.
    There is an old Chinese proverb that says, " Give a man a fish and he eats today, teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime."I am afraid however that due to certain cultural and economic changes in America, there are many Americans, who do not want to be taught to fish and why should they?  The government will do their fishing for them? As an American, I don't mind people receiving unemployment or food stamps if they are in need of some help while they're getting back on their feet again. I t seems however that many Americans are seeking a type of early retirement and they are content to use government assistance to accomplish this.
    Christians,  were taught in Luke 11: 3  to pray to God, saying give us this day our daily bread." Many Americans, it would seem,  no longer need to ask God for anything because the government,  is their God and the government gives them their daily bread although when government gives out daily bread hard working American taxpayers have to pay for it. Christians, should always, remember this the same Bible,  that says, in Matthew 26:16 that the poor will always be with us, is the same Bible, that says, in Thessalonians 3:10 that if anyone who could would not work than neither should they eat. I know a man who was offered a job recently and it paid more than the unemployment check he was receiving when I asked him why he he refused to take the job he said,"I've got sixteen more weeks to draw unemployment so,  there  is no since in working at least not until I just have to." That's when I knew what his real problem was he had a job offered to him that is to say someone offered him a fishing poll and wanted to teach him to fish but had no real need or desire to learn. As a Christian,  all I can say, is simply this Lord, you taught Christians, how to pray now can you please give many who have been spoiled in America, a renewed  desire to learn and once that desire has been renewed in this nation please Lord, teach us to fish.As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Somebody, Better Be Ready To Give An Answer.

    As a Christian, that is a person who at least attempts to follow the teachings of Christ, I have always tried to live by this particular admonition given to Christians, in first Peter 3:17 the verse reads as follows;"But sanctify the Lord your God,  in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." I realize this verse is telling Christians to always be ready to share their faith.but in the world of daily political conduct it seems to me that somebody better be prepared to an answer about who knew what and when concerning the tragedy that is Benghazi.
    I find it rather ironic really, that on this Veterans Day,  General David Petraeus,  one of the most highly decorated and militarily respected men in recent years,  finds himself possibly going to Congressional hearings to testify about his knowledge and involvement on the nine eleven  Benghazi attack.I would advise the general to be ready to give an answer regarding this question. To be sure every American can respect and thank General Petraeus, for his distinguished military service, and while it is morally unfortunate,  that Petraeus, had an extra marital affair and I feel sorry for the additional stress that been placed on his wife or family because of that situation most Americans, aren't overly concerned with this aspect of the generals private life. An argument could be made that if extra marital affairs really mattered to most Americans, President Clinton,  would have been impeached by both the House and the Senate.
   What cannot be ignored here is that an even more immoral injustice has been done to four brave Americans,  who died needlessly, in the honorable performance of their duty.the families of these brave men as well as the American people,  deserve to have some answers but thus far answers,  have been slow in coming. Instead,  what has followed,  so far is a mixed up mess of alphabet soup where every department claims at best a profound ignorance and at worst,indescribable  incompetence.Secretary of State Clinton, claims the White House,  knew nothing of the security threats on the Benghazi conciliate in Libya despite several months of e mails from Ambassador Stevens, begging for an increase in security forces. the Depart of Defense says,  they were  not notified about any security threat and only knew what Secretary Clinton,  and the White House,  told them hours after the initial attack.The CIA and the FBI claim now to be conducting their own personal investigations and some in the media, have suggested that the Department of Justice, and  Attorney General Eric Holder, most likely, would have been  informed  on the attack on Benghazi. I find it absolutely astonishing as just an ordinary American,  that I live in a nation with the mightiest military on the face of the earth with the highest level of technological advancements in communication possible yet despite these abilities no national security department nor any facet of the branches of the military all claimed to know nothing and therefore did nothing at the exact same time and because of this abhorrent consistency of ignorance four brave Americans,  are dead.The families of these fallen heroes, deserve answers. The American people, deserve answers and I think Americans,  have waited long enough. Somebody,  is responsible for this senseless and needless tragedy and sooner or later somebody, better be prepared to give an answer. As always, my friends,these words remain, just, some words, to think on.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who's Teaching Who Here?

    Politicians, are often accused of attempting at least, to be all things to all people and this is particularly true of course,  each time some kind of political election rolls around usually,  every two to four years depending on who's running or what office they may be seeking. All to often I'm afraid,  a politicians attempt to be all things to all people,  is nothing more than pandering,  in an attempt to get votes. Such is the nature of politics I suppose.
    Anyone, who has ever read any words I have ever written knows by now, that I have often said,  I will never apologize for being an American. I value my faith in Christ,  and hold it in a much higher regard. With that said,  let me say unequivocally, I will never apologize for being a Christian. As I said politicians,  often attempt to be all things to all people and therefore, pander to one special interest group or another that by all means, they may gain votes.
   As true as this particular approach may be of politicians, as a Christian, I find it most interesting where the origin of this approach can be found and was first used for quite a different purpose.In first Corinthians, 9:22   the apostle Paul says, "To the weak, became I as weak   that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might be all means, save some. Politicians,  use this approach to gain votes often to gain an office and thus, save themselves politically. Paul, and all Christians who would seek to follow his example, use this approach to save the souls of men. One will notice in first Corinthians 9:22  that Paul ends this verse with the words that I might by all means save some. This would seem to imply that not all will be saved and although from a theological stand point I understand this I still wish this were not so.
   My daughter Cassandra, attends a Christian school one afternoon,  she came home with a seemingly, simple question that I found impossible to answer.She posed this question to me "Daddy, Jesus died to save the whole world so everybody could be with him in Heaven right?That's right honey I said,  Then she asked, "Then daddy, why doesn't everybody love Jesus? " He only wants to be their very best friend." "Daddy, I think everybody,  would want to love Jesus, if they only knew how much he loves them.". Once again I found my daughter teaching me something I thought I already knew and was trying to teach her both in Christian school and in our home. I am left to ponder however, who is teaching who here? Sometimes,  I marvel at the simple yet very deep spiritual wisdom, that can come from the lips of a child who still posses simple child like faith. In Matthew, 9:14  Jesus said," Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me for such is the kingdom of Heaven. After pondering this simple yet deep theological truth expressed so tenderly yet so eloquently from my daughter, it  left me to consider this question. shouldn't all  Christians,  work at least as hard as Paul,  did and be made all things to all men to win souls to Christ? Shouldn't Christians, want to win souls with the same zeal a politician wants to win votes? Perhaps, if more Christians had this kind of devotion for the souls of men then just maybe more people would come to know Jesus and love him and my daughters simple question would find an answer. As always, my friends these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Is The American Spirit?

    Recently, I found my self in a deep thought proving discussion with my uncle.My uncle,  is the ultimate devil's advocate and he insist on thinking outside the box and often finds himself at odds with the conventional wisdom on a variety of subjects.Although conventional, is never a word I would ever use to describe my uncle, I must admit,  he has forced my to think about certain things and even if I don't always agree  with him I like talking with someone that forces me to think.I do enjoy a discussion that challenges my intellect.
    Recently,  my uncle said , that their really was no reason to worry about politics because throughout  history,  almost every president America, has ever had  has had some kind of character flaw of some kind or another and yet in spite of this America,  has survived. As I considered my uncle's words on this subject I realized that he is basically correct in his thinking. Washington,  was a great general but he owned slaves. Jefferson, was a great statesmen, but he had an affair with one of his slaves. Franklin,  was a brilliant politician but he was known  for several indiscretions.John F Kennedy, certainly was a popular president and he was popular with the ladies including a few of some notoriety that were more than friends.In more recent times,  one can recall the Clinton,  affair of the nineties that ultimately lead to his impeachment by the House he did manage to survive impeachment because of democratic support in the Senate.
    Now,  Former CIA directer David Petraeus,  becomes  the latest causality in American politics forced it would seem to resign because a moral indiscretion.And though the full truth about what really happened in Benghazi, may never fully be known and in spite of the fact conservatives just lost an election, I will never stop being an American. Although this country,  is not perfect and many of her leaders have been far from perfect throughout  her 236 year history, I am still proud to be an American. I has been said,  that the spirit of a man, is stronger than anything,  that can happen to it and the same can still be said of this nation.America , became a great nation not because everyone of her leaders were perfect but because America,  was founded on traditional Christian values.and if she does fall,  it will be because the American people,  chose to remove those values from their culture and their daily lives.
   Some,  criticize me for writing words such as these still others say,  mere words will never make any real difference.It will take more than a cynical attitude,  to stop me for fighting for the traditional values this nation was founded on and it should take more than a lost election,  to break the spirit of conservatives, in this great nation. America,  was founded on traditional values and a deep belief in the principal that God rules in the affairs of men and indeed God,  is the author of freedom and liberty. The Bible, says, in II Corinthians 3;17 "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." I only know that I will continue to fight for traditional values in this country and with my faith in God, and with his guidance nothing,  will break my American spirit. Faith  in God, is the essence of the American spirit  and I will not be ashamed or ever apologize,  for being an American,  and I pray that the majority of Americans,  in this nation,  feel the same way I do. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just,  some words,  to think on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Zeal Of Youth, The Wisdom From Experience, And The Balance Between The Two.

    You know, it's funny, when I was sixteen, I was young and idealistic and so ready to set the whole world on fire.My father, wasn't ready to do anything like that and he wasn't ready to let me try to do anything like that either. My father,  was so old fashioned and so stuck in the principals and values of yesteryear. I had so many new ideas and at sixteen,  I knew just about everything one could know that was worth knowing and I just couldn't  figure out why my father didn't realize this obvious fact.I struggled with this perplexing puzzle for several years. Ten years later, when I was twenty six I noticed a strange  phenomenon had occurred that once again I was in awe to comprehend. Somehow, while I was busy trying to change the world between the age of sixteen and  twenty six my father,  managed to grow much wiser and much smarter then he had been when I was sixteen and I who knew all there that  was worth knowing suddenly,  found myself with new challenges in life to face and new questions I didn't always have the answers for. Would you believe me if I told you that many times after the age of twenty and even later in my life while my father was alive, I could come to him with questions or seek his advice and more often than not he knew the answers to a great deal of the questions I needed answer to. It is often quite amazing how fathers become so much wiser in the ten years that pass between sixteen to twenty six. I now realize of course my father had always had the benefit of wisdom from years of experience that fact that I didn't realize this at sixteen can be attributed to the idealistic inexperience and ignorance of youth.I can tell you now that what really happened in my life between sixteen and twenty six was really in retrospect quite simple my father, had not grown wiser. I did! At twenty six I was now old enough and wise enough to appreciate the wisdom of my father. My father passed away four years ago and I miss him. Even now each  time i remember him I reflect on the value of his life and the many thing I learned from him and how his wisdom still guilds me today as I endeavor  to raise my daughter.
    There is a great deal of talk now within the Republican Party. Some have suggested, that if the party is to survive and be politically relevant conservatives,  must adopt new ideas compromises must be made and many, in the  party   feel what is needed is  to place  younger faces out front in the public eye. There may be some truth to this, and while I realize that the art of compromise is the corner stone of politics in general conservatives,  must be careful not too compromise so much that they are no longer  seen as conservatives. Some conservatives,  want to allow a path to citizenship when it comes to immigration reform this may be possible as long as they don't do away with American law regarding immigration in the process. Wanting the Republican Party, to be more culturally diverse is okay as long as they  come in to the party fully qualified and not just as a means to attract minority votes. I think it is good to have the energy of youth in in any party new and real ideas should be welcomed as long as the energy and the new ideas young conservatives,  may bring to the GOP are balanced with the maturity and experience and wisdom that the older members in the GOP can surely offer.Young conservatives,  must remember that new idea's though necessary in an every changing political landscape take time to develop. Older conservatives, have the wisdom and the necessary patience,  to show the younger up and coming conservatives, the best way to present any new idea's they may have. In the Republican party, the youth and energy of the younger conservatives,  must work together with the older conservatives in the party,  to benefit from the experience and wisdom that comes with some gray hairs. The Republican Party,  needs both youth and experience   and the wisdom to find the proper balance between the two. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Choices, Have Consequences.

    Isn't strange how as a parent, you can find your self saying something to your children and then suddenly, you realize you sound just like your parents in spite of the fact you once promised your self you would never lecture your children the way your parents lectured you. I recently found my self telling my daughter Cassandra, that choices have consequences. I then had a mind flash back and remembered that my dad used to say the same thing to me when I was growing up. My daughter pleaded with me one night to let her stay up an extra half hour to watch some program that her precious life just depended  on. Against my better judgement I let her stay up. The next morning, I couldn't;t get her out of bed even if my life depended on it! The lesson here is two fold her choice was to stay up an extra half hour and as the parent my choice was to let her. The consequences are also two fold Cassandra, was sleepy,  grouchy,  and grumpy, the next morning and I had to endure the headache all her commotion gave me,  proving to both Cassandra,  and I that what my father had once told me still held true choices have consequences.
    America,  must now live withe the choice they made by choosing to elect Barack Obama for another four years. This seems unfair if only because forty nine percent of the country did not make this choice yet they too will have to suffer the consequences made my the majority be cause that's the way American democracy works. Though I cannot tell you exactly, what the consequences will be or when they will go into affect, I can assure you, that indeed there will be consequences.Here are some consequences, I am reasonably sure Americans can expect. First, higher taxes because the Bush, tax cuts will be allowed to expire and Obama,  care,  will require tax increases on the wealthy and the middle class to pay for it not that a liberal democrat ever needs a reason to raise taxes. Secondly, I think in a very short time Americans,  can expect higher interest rates to try to off set the deficient the nation's outstanding debt will eventually require this. Third,  I believe the nation;s military will be down sized but the Obama administration will call this reorganization or stream lining. Fourth,  America's national security will be seriously affected. and  Though I believe their will be investigations conducted, I believe the real truth will never be known about the tragedy of Benghazi, look  how long we have waited on the truth behind Fast and Furious and the American people,  are still waiting along with the Terry family. Finally, the nation's debt will continue to sky rocket and I fully expect to see the debt soar to at least 22 trillion dollars by the end of Obama's second term. I wish I could share better expectations but all I can say to the American people,  is the same thing my father said to me and I then said to my daughter, choices have consequences. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America's Future Is At Best, Uncertain.

    The American people,  have now spoken, It appears, that a majority of  Americans,  have decided that they prefer more government involvement in their lives. It  would seem it is easier for most, to expect  government, to provide everything for them. rather than to take at least some of the responsibility to provide things for one's self. I am left  to conclude then that America,  is content to become a secular nation and prefers to be more like the countries of Europe.
  There is an old saying that says,  be careful what you wish for you might just get it.I suppose America, has decided that since she would rather be more like the countries of Europe that government will now be God, in America. I am not surprised at this development. The truth is America, really hasn't cared what God thought for a long time now. God,  has been rejected in our courts,  rejected in our schools,  rejected in our government,  and even dare I say it absent,  in many of our churches. One can almost imagine God,  saying to America, so be it. If Americans,  would substitute government  in the place of God, then when they ask for more from the government,  then that is exactly what they can expect more taxes, more debt, more unemployment,  more regulation, more more poverty, more economic uncertainty. Yes,  our nation shall surely have move of these problems to contend with in Obama's second term. I must also conclude, Americans,  have no reason to expect God,  to spare this nation from the total economic collapse which I believe is surely coming.
    I wept for my daughter,  last night. I also wept for my country. I wept, because I know now America, has changed and she will never again be the strong and independent nation she has been until  now. I wept,  for my daughter,  because I can no longer be assured,  that she will have a bright and secure future. I wept, because I don't recognize America, any more for  this is most certainly,  not the same country I grew up in. I have no bright hope to offer to anyone who reads these words. I can only suggest, that all  who are Christians,  in this nation take comfort in the fact God, has allowed what has happened in America, to accomplish his will and I believe the faith of many Christians,  is about to be truly tested. Speaking for myself,  I hope I am prepared for such a test. I and all who are Christians, can take comfort in this one unshakable truth God is, and does,  rule in the affairs of men and true Christians,  know God,  is with them and will take care of then according to his will therefore,  what ever happens in America,  in the days to come Christians, must follow the example of Jesus, and say in their  heart to God,  not my will but thine be done for I can assure Christians, everywhere across this nation God's will,  will be accomplished . as always, my friends, these thoughts  remain, just some words to think on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rebirth Or Ruin? A Day, A Decision, A Destiny.

    Last night I quietly slipped into my daughters room and gazed upon her while she lay sleeping. As I continued to observe her peaceful slumber I marveled at the way she was totally oblivious to the world and I wondered what she might be dreaming about. She always tells her mother and I that when she grows up she wants to be a doctor or a nurse and she says she wants to have a good job so she can buy a big house so that her mother and I can live with her someday. I think she says these things for two reasons. Each day she sees how hard her mother works at our local Walmart, and how tired she is when she comes home. Her Mother and I always tell her to study hard in school so she can have a good future so that one day maybe she won't have to work as hard as her mother does. The other reason she wants her mother and I to live with her I suppose is be cause of me. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and in addition to that physical challenge I have taken a fall or two in my life that has resulted in major physical damage all through out my body and as a result I can only walk a short distance and any type of movement is very difficult for me. I help my daughter with her homework but once in a while she has seen me lose my balance and fall and when that happens though it hurts I try not to show it because each time I trip and fall it scares her.My daughter, wants to be a nurse or a doctor so that she can take care her mother and I when we get too old to take care of ourselves Just last night she told us "Don't worry mommy and daddy, when I grow up I will take care of both of you and  you won't ever go to a nursing home because one day I'll take care of both you and mommy just like your taking care of me now." As I turned my head,  so that she would not see the tears of love I had in my eyes for her because of what she had just t said, I knew I had been blessed my God, to have a daughter with a heart big enough to love the whole world.
    Today,  after months of campaign adds, more phone calls,  than I even ever  thought were possible from election volunteers calling to make sure I was going to go vote for one candidate or another I,  along with millions of other Americans,  will go vote. I will vote for Mitt Romney, and the reason I will vote for him is because I want to make sure my daughter, is going to continue to have her chance to grow up in this country blessed by God,  we call America.I want her to have the equal opportunity to achieve  any part of the American dream she she desires. I know that in America all someone needs is an opportunity and a dream and a heart and soul that is willing to work for it.Obama 's vision for America, will  is a vision that will lead to America's economic collapse to put it simply Obama;s policies of over spending and massive debt will lead to Americana's ruin. Four more years of Obama, will be four more poor years and thus seriously jeopardize my daughter's future. Romney,  with his plan for responsible economic management built on less government and more personal responsibility and freedom will encourage investors to have confidence in the nation's economy and as a result new  businesses will start and existing businesses will grow. Romney, offers Americans,  a real chance for for America,  to experience an economic rebirth. I believe Romney's policies and vision for America will assure that  my daughter will have a future and her chance to achieve her part of the American dream. I encourage every  American,  who will cast their vote today to please vote wisely because the choice you make will determine your children's future. I don't know what my daughter will eventually grow up to be one day, I don't know if  her mother and I will one day live with her in the  big fancy house  she envisions,  right now but I know I want my daughter,  to go as far as her dreams and will to work for them,  will take her. Thus,  for the sake of my daughters future and for the future of children everywhere across this nation I will cast my vote for Mitt Romney,  and I pray a winning majority of Americans will choose to do the same. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain just, some words, to think on.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voting, What Difference, Does It Really Make?

  There's an old joke that illustrates how many in this country feel about voting. The joke simply poses  this question to a man on the street and the joke goes something like this. "Pardon me  sir, I am told the  two major problems in the world  are ignorance and apathy what do you think? Without much thought the man on the street replies,"personally, I really don't know and I really don;t care. As much as I hate to say it I find there are a number of people in this country who feel this way about voting. One neighbor of mine even said to me, why should I vote? What difference can my one vote make? His question intrigued me, so I decided to do a little research to see if there were real political elections or issues that really were decided by one vote. As it turns out,  a great number of political elections or issues,  were decided and passed by one vote. Here are but a few examples. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson, was elected president, by one vote in the House of Representatives, after a tie in the electoral college. In 1846, President James K Polk's request for a Declaration of War against Mexico, was passed by one vote. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson, was impeached but not convicted because the Senate, was one vote shy of the necessary two thirds required.In 1876, Samuel Tilden,  won the presidential popular vote but came up one electoral vote shy and lost to Rutherford B Hayes. In 1962, the Governors, of Maine Rhode Island, and North Dakota were elected by an average of one vote per precinct.
  Yes, one vote can make a difference but there are even more important reasons why as Americans, we should all vote if we are able to do so. I wonder if most Americans,  realize that voting is the essence of American independence? Why do I say that? The American Revolution,  began because the colonies were not represented in English Parliament therefore the had no vote and  King George,  was free to pass The Tea Act of 1773  which placed an unjust tax on the colonist tea. The colonist then responded,  with a revolt that took the form of the now infamous Boston Tea Party,  from whence the modern day Tea Party that was formed in 2010 derives it;s name. The colonist of 1773 began  a pubic out cry and their slogan of no English taxation without representation became the the rallying cry that eventually sparked the American Revolution,  that gave birth to this nation. The act of voting, is a symbol and the very essence of a free democracy. but if your still wondering why every American, should vote consider this. When one exercises the right to vote they in affect  say thank you,  to the countless thousands of brave men and women everywhere who died  in numerous  wars across the globe   to make sure that the right to vote and hold  free elections would be preserved for now and for future generations
  Finally,  let me make this appeal to anyone who may still feel that voting is a waste of time. If as a free American, one is  just too lazy and pathetic to get off their  lazy  backside and go vote then as far as I'm concerned,  one  may as well go to every military veteran's grave and spit on it because when one is  free and healthy and able to vote and one  does not  in affect,  that is exactly what one does  and I have no doubt  these same type of  individuals,  will be among  the first to complain about the results of an election if they don't approve of a given government policy or procedure and speaking as a person who knows one does not have to vote and realizes that all Americans,  have freedom of speech if anyone should read these words and is able to vote and still decides  not to vote please don't use your freedom of speech around me to gripe and complain because I just probably won't know what your problem is and I can assure you I won't care. Hear me Americans for Haven's sake  go vote! As always, my friends, these words remain, just some words to think on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vengeance, Makes Even The Mightiest Man, Fall.

  As I listened to President Obama's latest speech, I couldn't help but think to myself,   my, how the mighty have fallen. When candidate Obama, ran for president in 2008 even I must admit, he was quite impressive. Here was a man whose ability to give an inspirational speech left huge audiences almost spellbound. Obama, preached about  hope and change and the need for a civil discourse in Washington. He was going to be everyone president. There would be no more red and blue states. He would unite  the nation and truly be the President of the United States.
  Fast forward,  four years later and it now seems,  that the presidential candidate Obama, once so full of high ideals and so determined to change the the gridlock that so often prevails in Washington, once he became President Obama, it now appears that instead of changing Washington, Washington and the power of the presidency changed Obama. When I consider the notable change in Obama over the last four years, I am reminded of these words of wisdom from President Abraham Lincoln, he said the following: "Any man can stand adversity,but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Over the past four years Obama,  has developed such a thirst for power that he often goes around congress and dares to make appointments when congress is out of session by  abusing his power as president  though excessive use of executive orders to accomplish his personal agendas all in the name of doing what he thinks is good for the county however I have noticed that many times over these past four years Obama,  never bothered to ask the American people,  what they thought about anything. Obama,  basically pushed his own personal agenda through Congress, and then told the American people,  it was good for them and that sometimes they had to take their medicine or eat their peas. Obama care,  serves as as a shinning example of how Obama,  seemingly, ignored the will of the American people,  and in affect literally crammed his health care down the throats of  all Americans.
  The most disturbing development in Obama's personality,  is his  talk of revenge and his need to seek vengeance,  on those who wold oppose him. It is one thing to honestly disagree with an opponent's political positions on certain issues,  it is quite another  for one to encourage his supporters,  to vote for him as a means of accomplishing personal revenge against an opponent.When I heard Obama's speech last evening, what I heard,  was a bitter self absorbed angry old man if fact,  it is quite striking,  how his   obsessive  thirst for power has truly aged Obama.
  The Bible,  warns against an obsession for vengeance. Romans 12;19 says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay saith the Lord." Obama,  should leave vengeance in God's hands for such a desire left unchecked can destroy a person. It has been said,  that absolute power corrupts absolutely,  and this has indeed happened to Obama,  and I think most Americans,  now see this,  and this character flaw,  will lead to Obama's downfall on election day for if it doesn't lead to his down fall, reelecting Obama, I believe,  will lead to the downfall of the nation. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just some words, to think on.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

America, One Time, One Choice, One Destiny.

  The story is told of a king in the Middle Ages,  who finding himself advanced in years decided to pose a most perplexing question to his son a young prince that the king knew would in a relatively short period of time rule after him. The king needed to know if his young son would be ready to rule in the advent of his death. The king called his son to his thrown to stand before  him. He then told his young son that he had a question he wanted to pose to him and his answer would tell the king if he was wise and ready to rule in the advent of his death. The young prince listened  as his father the king asked, "What is the one thing in the world that once a man has lost it it can never be regained?" The prince,  thought for a moment and was about to say honor but then he realized with diligence and honest deeds a man may regain his honor. The the young prince then considered wealth but as he thought of this he realized a man may loose wealth but with careful management and planning a man's wealth could be regained. As the king continued to wait for the young prince's answer after a long pause the young man looked at his father and said, the answer my king is time for once lost one can never regain time once it is lost. The king smiled and said,  "You are wise my son and ready to rule and when I die I can be at peace for now I know I will have left my kingdom in good hands."
  America is facing a decision on November the sixth  that will forever change  the destiny of this nation and the time to make this decision is short and if Americans,  make the wrong decision America' time as a  major world influence may be very short indeed. If Americans, , choose took elect Mitt Romney, the I believe America's future as a nation with strong world influence will have a much greater possibility to continue under the proven leader ship of Mitt Romney. On the other hand,  if Americans,  choose to reelect Barack Obama I believe America's days as a major world influence may be numbered. Obama, has nearly broken America's back with debt and she is already faltering beneath  the load of over spending, too much government regulation, massive over entitlement,and with the looming threat of a weakened military  which threatens the nation's security it would seem that Obama is trying to break the will of the American people and the sad truth is he may just succeed.
  This dos not have to be America's final destiny.   Should Americans,  choose to elect Mitt Romney,  then I  see a stronger economy almost immediately. I see America,  begin to regain world respect, through a strengthened military and that will most certainly improve the nations national security. I see a real chance for new small businesses to be created and thrive and I see better jobs for everyone who would be willing to work. The question is then since we the people have a chance to determine our own destiny as a nation I wonder if after the election will will be able to tell the future generations who will come after us that we left America's future in good hand? I pray it will be so. As always, my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Nothing Personal, It's Just My Business!

  Four years and just days,  before the end of  Obama's  reelection Campaign, It now seems that it has finally occurred to Obama, that he just do something to help the nation's struggling economy particularly in the area of business. I find this deep concern for the nations businesses to be a bit sudden. It's not as though America's small businesses haven't had major problems over the last four years but I guess the need to get reelected has forced Obama to finally get around to it.I  am glad that Obama, suddenly realized that there are more businesses in this county that he needs to help besides the auto industry. Perhaps small businesses across this nation would see more help from Obama if all the small businesses would get together  and form some kind of union then Obama would have to do some thing for them or at least appear to in order to get their vote.
  Obama, has decided that if the American people,  will just agree to trust him and elect him for another four years he's really going to give business in this country a real shot in the arm by appointing a new position in his administration and the position will be appropriately  called Secretary of  Business well , why not I mean we all ready have a Sectary of Commerce,  that is if Obama, ever gets around to filling that position  it has been open for four months now Obama really doesn't get in much of a hurry these days  in fact the only time he ever was in a hurry over the last four years was when he shoved his  2300 page health care bill through congress in three weeks before anyone could read it and since his  health care law was passed it seems the only time Obama,  gets in a hurry is when it's time to spend the American taxpayers money for worthless government green projects or to fund some new entitlement. I noticed he made sure to be on hand for a photo opp with Governor  Chris Christie, and to open up his big government check book funded  of course by American taxpayers.  I suppose it's always good to look presidential just days be fore an election.
  The truth is America,  doesn't need another Czar for business or anything else Obama Obama has had over fifty such Czars over the last four years and I think this Secretary of Business in my mind would just be another Czar we don't need.. However perhaps we could have a new position and call it Secretary of staying out of  my business Seriously though the best thing Obama could do is keep government as much as possible out of small business. Obama,  has over regulated small businesses so much business is practically at a stand still. Besides America, already has a man man interviewing for this position right now and he has proven Business experience. his name is Mitt Romney,  he has built a few businesses and unlike Obama Romney has a lot more experience running something besides his mouth or the nations economy into the ground. Romney, knows that if you have a small business you Did Build That and his policies will help Americans,  build more. I feel that the message American businessmen,  will be sending to Obama, if Romney, is elected will be simply this Obama, it's nothing personal it's just my business! As always my friends, these thoughts remain, just, some words, to think on.