Respond in Faith

I was blessed with the opportunity to teach bible class this morning on the book of Job, chapters 1 and 2. Respond in Faith, or “why do bad things happen to good people?”

A guy named Pete gets a job as a switchman with the railroad, and undergoes weeks of training. The supervisor then takes him into the switch booth to test his readiness. The following exchange takes place:
Supervisor: “Imagine you were sitting here alone and you learned there was a train coming from the North on that track, and another coming from the South on the same track. What would you do?”
Pete: “I’d throw this switch right here and put one train on the other track.”
Supervisor: And what if that switch didn’t work?”
Pete: “I’d go down to the track and throw that big switchlever there, putting one train on the other track.”
Supervisor: “And what if that switchlever didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d come back here and call the dispatcher to stop both trains.”
Supervisor: “And what if the phone didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d go to that gas station across the street and use their phone.”
Supervisor: “And what if their phone didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d go get Uncle Joe.”
Supervisor: “Uncle Joe??? What would he do?”
Pete: “Nothing, but he ain’t never seen a train wreck.”

Many of us, though, have seen a trainwreck in our lives or the lives of somebody close to us. Something terrible, something awful, that left us with a feeling of “why me?” When I was born, the first thing that happened was the doctor picked me up by my feet and hung me upside down. As a baby, I was having a hard time maintaining my dignity. If that wasn’t back enough, then the doctor smacked me on the rear end. I thought, “What did I do to deserve THAT?” It seems sometimes that some people have been trying to smack me around ever since.

Perhaps you’ve been smacked around, too. A marriage that failed, a mother or father that died. I have a friend up in Conroe who has a granddaughter that’s permanently brain damaged since the age of 8 months because of a tragic home accident. Some in here are widows or widowers, having lost spouses too early. When calamity happens, we want to ask why, we want to question God. Some may want to step away from their faith in anger at God. Why do bad things happen to good people?

There are lots of possibilities. For the unbeliever, God will use pain and suffering to turn the unbeliever away from evil ways. Repent, turn from sin, and face God. The bible has a lot of good instruction for Christians, but for the unbeliever, God has only 1 instruction: “Believe in me!”

For one who professes Christ but leans on men, God uses calamity to strengthen faith. If a Christian leans on money, God takes that crutch away through a family emergency, perhaps loss of a job. If a Christian leans on his own works, God may cripple him to make him dependent on God. For a strong, upright and faithful Christian, God uses calamity to sanctify him, to bring him closer to God. And then sometimes, we don’t have any idea why we suffer. We look at ourselves for unrepentant sin, something we’re doing wrong, we think God’s trying to tell us something, and we just can’t figure it out. It’s undeserved. We’ve been smacked on the bottom and been through a trainwreck, and we don’t know why.

The book of Job is an example of undeserved suffering. Job is a prominent and wealthy servant of God, and in a matter of minutes, Job lost everything. Financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, all took a beating. To Job, it might appear that God had deserted him and offered him no comfort or explanation. Yet through all of his suffering, Job remained faithful to God and even stopped to worship Him in the midst of suffering. That’s inspirational, a perfect example of how God wants us to respond in everything.

Let’s walk through Job’s life and see what happens. If you have your bibles, let’s turn to the chapter on automotive quality (At Ford, Quality is Job 1). Here we find the wizard of Uz, Job.

Job 1:1. In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

Job is described spiritually, not physically. We are to be judged by our character, not our appearance. Job was “blameless and upright.” He was morally sound, mature, full of integrity. The Hebrew word for “blameless” is “tam” and also means “perfect.” Job walked the straight and narrow path.

Job “feared God and shunned evil.” This doesn’t mean he was a coward; a fear of God is necessary for good spiritual discipline. Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Oswald Chambers, in a book called “My Utmost for His Highest,” wrote “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

I think the phrase “shunned God and feared evil” together are interesting – “feared God” meant Job always did the right thing, but more than that he shunned evil, or also avoided the wrong thing. He was a complete man of God, not one who did good when people were watching and evil when people weren’t. Job was not a hypocrite who said one thing and did another, he was a man of perfect integrity, doing what was right and avoiding what was wrong.

He was also a very wealthy, prosperous man. Let’s look at his tax return –
– seven sons, 3 daughters. Excellent, so he had a lot of deductions for dependents
– 7000 sheep
– 3000 camels (*I* don’t own *any* camels!)
– 500 oxen
– 500 donkeys (I don’t own any donkeys either. True story: my brother gave his wife a donkey for Mother’s Day last year. Wait, that gives me an idea. My wife and I are celebrating our one year anniversary next week… Never mind. It was an idea, but not a good idea, mind you.)
– and a large number of servants.

Job was like sort of a cross between Billy Graham and Bill Gates. In verse 4 through 5, we also learn that Job was blessed not only with material wealth and public prestige, but also a loving family. Seven sons and three daughters that regularly broke bread together and Job would pray for them and offer sacrifices on their behalf.

Now, in verse 6, we step away from the human world and into the spiritual world where there is some sort of conference going on in Heaven. The angels of the Lord are presenting themselves before the Almighty, and God notices Satan there. “Where have you been?” says God.

“Checking things out, wandering around, looking for some mischief.”

This is disturbing to me. God says, “Have you considered Job? He’s the best of the best, blameless and upright, fears God and shuns evil.” I’d like to avoid the devil and stay far away from him. Here God is saying, “Dude, check out Job.” Why would God do this?

The short answer is, we don’t really know. How can we know the mind of God. Here’s a few things we do know, however – we know that Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things, including what’s about to happen to Job. How could calamity be considered good? Well, Job wouldn’t know this of course, but he turned out to be an example for thousands of years of God’s power and absolute control. That’s good for us to know, even if Job didn’t. We also know that God promises not to give us more than we can handle. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God will not permit anything to come into our lives that we are not capable of withstanding. That doesn’t mean tragedy won’t come our way – only that when it does, we’ll either be able to stand up under it or provide a way out.

Job 1:9-11, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

I’m not surprised Satan cops an attitude with God. Satan says that the only reason Job fears the lord and is a man of perfect integrity is because God has built a hedge of protection around job. In other words, Satan charges that the only reason Job is such a great guy is because God pays him. Have you prayed for a hedge of protection? It’s a good prayer, something good to ask for. But this verse shows that the hedge of protection is taken down as easily as it is put up, but more importantly, if the hedge of protection is taken down, it may not have anything whatsoever to do with our morality.

Are we shallow Christians that believe that if we are doing God’s will, God will bless us? Are we making some sort of bartering agreement with God? Alright God, I mowed my neighbor’s yard this week. I helped a little old lady across the street. I said, “God bless you” when somebody sneezed. Now listen God: you owe me. That is a shallow Christian that misunderstands the will of God. We do not do God’s will in order to receive blessings. We do God’s will so that God may do His will. We may or may not receive blessings on this earth. Our blessing is after we are done on this earth.

God *is* a God of blessings, but He is not *only* a God of blessings. He’s not some magician we produce at parties to pull a rabbit out of a hat for us. I’ve heard people give an excuse for their behavior by saying, “God just wants me to be happy.” That is not God’s primary desire. God’s primary goal is for us to worship Him. You cannot excuse your behavior by saying, “God wants me to be happy.” When you read this disaster in Job’s life, can you say God wants Job to be happy? No, God wants Job to glorify God.

We also know here that Satan badly misjudges Job, and God is perfectly right and accurate. Satan believes that if Satan is allowed to wreak havoc in Job’s life that Job will renounce God and curse God to His face. God knows Job, though. God will be able to use Job’s calamities for God’s purposes.

Job 1:12, “The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”

What would happened if this exchange was about you? What if God and Satan were talking about you in heaven? “Have you considered my servant Michael? Have you considered my servant Ken? Have you considered my servant ________? Put your own name in the blank. God knows where you are spiritually, and He promises not to give us more than we can handle, but how would you feel about God talking about you with Satan?

Notice that God is sovereign, all powerful. We like to believe that God is all good and nothing evil comes from Him, but that’s an incomplete picture. God *is* all good, but He is also sovereign, in charge of everything. Notice Satan has to ask God’s permission before he is allowed to mess with Job. The humans in us would like to say God’s answer should be, “Nope, don’t mess with Job, he’s mine.” We like to think of God and Satan as being the great generals of a massive battle between good and evil, battling it out in the heavens and on earth. Obi Wan Kanobe versus Darth Vader. Professor X versus Magneto. Aslan versus the White Witch. We think Satan is ruling the earth from Hell, but that’s not quite right. From the book of Job and in 1 Peter 5:8, we know that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, and Revelation 20:10 tells us that Satan will not be cast into the Lake of Fire before Judgment Day. God isn’t battling Satan, God is sovereign. God is referred to as “The Almighty” in the book of Job 31 times. When Satan wants to do evil, he has to ask God’s permission. This is true in the New Testament, too, by the way. In Luke 22, the disciples are squabbling over which one of them will be considered the greatest in Heaven, and Jesus rebukes them and tells them to be more concerned about serving. Then he says in Luke 22:31: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” Look, Satan is asking for permission again.

Does it bother you that God gives permission for suffering? A big mistake in our Christian walk is to misunderstand what “God is in control” means. We think that since God is in control, we have a right to expect Him to keep bad things from happening to us. We think that because we try to keep bad things from happening to our friends and family, that God should do the same for us. We are children of God, are we not? How could God let something bad happen to us if He is in control.

Let me ask you some blunt questions. Did God have a son? And did that son suffer? And did that suffering work for God’s glory? God does have a plan, God is in control, and it’s human folly to think that God’s plan does not include suffering. As Christians, we know that our suffering will be used by God for His purposes. We know that it is our response to disappointments in life that makes us stronger in our faith in our almighty God. The sinner doesn’t have this comfort. To the sinner, suffering is pointless. Suffering makes a sinner bitter. Suffering makes a Christian better.

Let’s see what sort of things we’ve learned so far about God.

Lessons Learned about God
– God is sovereign over all, good and evil.
– God provides hedges and removes them according to His will.

We’ve learned a few things about Satan during this exchange. I learned Satan has access to God in Heaven. I read this exchange and thought, Holy Smoke, how did Satan get in there? That’s not allowed! But it’s true, Satan has access to God, and must ask God for permission before he can do evil. We learn that Satan is evil, but not sovereign over evil. Satan has to ask God’s permission.

Lessons Learned About Satan
– Satan has access to God’s throne in Heaven.
– Satan has to ask God’s permission before he can touch God’s people

What happens to Job after this? Satan may not lay a finger on Job – God set that boundary and Satan must obey – but Satan sends destruction. Job 13-19, the Sabeans steal the ox and donkeys, then kill all the servants. Then lightning strikes and kills the sheep, then the Chaldeans steal all the camels, and then a mighty wind collapses his son’s house and kills all of his children. In a matter of minutes, Job loses everything. Everything.

Now I know that in a room full of singles like this, we are likely to have tragedies in our lives. Death. Divorce. Loss of material things. Loss of a job. Why did we have to suffer? When we’re facing a calamity, the first thing we must do is self-reflection. We must look inside ourselves for unrepentant sin. The Old Testament is replete with examples of God sending His perfect wrath in order to turn His people away from evil and toward Him. We’ll never be 100% righteous, but we know when we are sinning and it feels too good to stop. God will get our attention one way or another. But what if we’ve examined ourselves for unrepentant sin and find none? God did not allow Satan to bring harm to Job just to say to Satan, See, I told you. God knew Job’s faith was real, and God knew this before he allowed Satan to do what he did. God’s purposes in allowing suffering are complex and it is not possible to reduce the purpose of suffering to some simple explanation.

I know how I have reacted to suffering in my life. Anger. Depression. A mix of both. Let’s see how a man of God reacted, see what he did and did not do.

Job 1:20, At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.

Instead of tearing robes we wear black, but ancient signs of grief were tearing his robe and shaving his head. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry. We are commanded to love one another, and the loss of that love is most certainly a time for grief. God gave us emotions, and it’s ok to show those emotions. But then look what Job did – he fell to the ground and worshipped God. Job said,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”

As Christians, we can recognize that everything in this life is a gift from God. Our relationships, our children, our stuff. We came into this world naked, without a thing. And when we leave, we take nothing with us. The Lord gives it all to us, and the Lord takes it all away again. “May the name of the Lord be praised.” It is easy to praise the name of the Lord when he gives. When he takes away, can we still praise the name of the Lord? Are we only thankful for things he gives? He may have many reasons for taking away, all according to His purpose. Can we give thanks to God for taking it away?

How do we remain thankful while suffering? Rather than blame God for what he doesn’t have, Job thanks God for what he does have. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We recognize that it is God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances. Job could thank God because Job realized that everything Job had wasn’t Job’s; it all belonged to God. God owns everything. Job had the privilege of managing it for a little while. And in so, we learn one more thing about God: When Satan attacks, God uses it for own good and His glory.

Job 1:22, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be depressed. Our emotions are something God gives us. Job certainly had intense feelings of grief. But Job did not sin because he didn’t say God was wrong. He didn’t say God was neglectful. He didn’t say God has bad intentions. Through all Job’s grief, he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job stayed strong. He didn’t whine, “Why meeeee?” His character remained that which God approved, even in the midst of suffering. Job was strong, patient, even resigned. And Satan must have been disappointed. Here was a man who loved God more than money, more than his earthly possessions, more than his family. Job’s relationship with God was not dependent on his circumstances, his position in society, or his stuff.

In Chapter 2, Satan goes back to God and says, “well, ok, so that didn’t work, but you didn’t let me touch him. He’s still a healthy person. Let me take away his health.” I don’t know what this illness was, maybe he had more than one thing. In chapter 2, we know he has boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head, and they itch. In Chapter 7 through 30, we learn that it also includes a haggard appearance, running sores, loss of sleep, depression, severe weight loss, acute pain, darkened and peeling skin, and fever. Oh, and bad breath. In verse 7, Job sits down in the ashes of his life and scrapes himself with a piece of broken pottery. Sort of symbolic, like his life had now become a piece of broken pottery.

His wife was less than helpful. “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die already.” Before we pick on Job’s wife too harshly, let’s remember that she, too, was intensely affected by all of this. She, too, had lost all of her children, she’s lost any importance she thought she had in the eyes of the community, and her husband is some foul-smelling creature sitting in a garbage dump scraping sores with a piece of pottery. So Job’s wife was certainly under a lot of stress. It’s easy to pick on her, but she’s in pain. Perhaps she thought her own pain would end. Perhaps she just loved Job and wanted his suffering to end.

Job still didn’t sin; sometimes it’s easier to remain faithful to God when you’re alone, but remaining faithful to God when you’re with others is harder. Job tells her that she’s talking foolishly, that her faith is not wise enough. “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” We do not always have a choice in our circumstances, but we do have a choice in how we respond. Job’s wife responded first with her emotions. Job responded with his faith.

Job’s closest friends were more helpful. What did they say? Nothing. When they came to visit, they were shocked, they cried with him, then sat on the ground with him for 7 days and said nothing. Nothing. Just sat and grieved. Sometimes there’s nothing you can say, so there’s no need to try. Just be there.

Discussion: Describe a tragedy that happened to you or a loved one. How did you respond? How should you respond?

I want to close with a few examples. How many here have seen United 93 at the theater? It’s a powerful movie, mostly for what it doesn’t say. There’s no commentary explaining peoples motives, just a snapshot of people’s actions. We see the confusion of the people at the FAA, the hysteria of the passengers, the evil of the terrorists bound on killing as many people as they can.

Many of us have heard of Todd Beamer, who uttered the now famous, “Let’s roll” during the passengers revolt against the terrorists. What a lot of us may not know is Todd Beamer’s family were devoted followers of Christ. Can you identify with Todd’s wife, Lisa, the grief she must have suffered? She turned her faith in God into a powerful testimony and wrote a book that encourages people to build their lives on a firm foundation of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Here’s what she wrote about 9/11:

We all have the choice to look at the things we’ve lost or to look at the things we have, to become bitter or to become better, to live in fear or to live in hope. I’ve chosen to live in hope, not because I’m a strong person but because of the heavenly, eternal perspective that God has given me. Lately I’ve been trying to look at the bigger picture, to discover what I’m supposed to learn from all this. Probably the most important truth is that my security must be in God rather than in anything or anyone in this world.

Think about it: the World Trade Center represented economic power, success, and security; yet it was shaken and destroyed in one hour or less. The Pentagon is the symbol of our nation’s military might; yet it, too, proved vulnerable. Where can we find true security these days?

I have found safety and security in a loving heavenly Father, who cannot be shaken, who will never leave me or forsake me, and in whom I can trust completely. For those looking for hope, I recommend grabbing the hand of your heavenly Father as tightly as possible, like a little child does with his parent. God is a hero who will always be there when you need him.

Another survivor is Jennifer Sands. Her husband was killed in the World Trade Center that day. She’s since written two books, the first called “A Tempered Faith,” that details the emotional and spiritual struggles – and triumph – in losing her husband. She continued with a second book called “A Teachable Faith,” where she shares her continued journey on how God uses circumstances to teach us, heal us, and give us a greater understanding of Him.

And finally, Joni Eareckson Tada who has founded a ministry on sharing the gospel and equipping churches with the tools to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities. Joni said that when she gets to heaven she is going to fold up her wheel chair hand it to Jesus and say, “thanks, I needed that.”

There’s our example. Thanks, Jesus. I needed that. Have a great week this week, no matter what.

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Stock Market Update

NasDaqDow
In case you wonder why I choose a Mechanical Investing method (no buying or selling based on “feelings,” just a database sort,) here’s what the market analysis have to say about today (dynamic link, will be out of date after today):

  • 9:00am Still shaping up to be a modestly higher open for the indices as futures indications remain comfortably above fair value. (Translation: We predict the Market will go up today.)
  • 09:40 am : Market makes a second attempt to bounce back from continued consolidation. (Translation: Well, ok, the market went down, but now it’s going up.)
  • 10:00 am : Equities are still on the offensive as nine of ten economic sectors post early gains. (Translation: Market is really going up this time.)
  • 10:30 am : Early morning recovery efforts lose some steam as Dow continues to plummet. (Translation: Dang. We thought it was going up. It’s taking a nosedive big time.)
  • 11:00 am : Stocks try to regain some momentum as another sell-off. (Translation: OK, so the Market went. We knew it all along. Sure hope it goes back up though.)
  • 11:30 am : So much for several days of consolidation creating a sense that stocks are oversold on a short-term basis as the bottom falls out of the market within the last 30 minutes. (Translation: Um, we thought the market was going up but it went down, now it’s obvious it’s really going down. )
  • 12:00 pm : Market is still trying to find some definitive direction midday. (Translation: Well, maybe it’s not going down. Hard to tell.)
  • 12:30 pm : More of the same for stocks as the afternoon session gets underway. (Translation: What the heck was that? Whatever it was, it’s still doing it. Our motto: Nearly As Accurate As Weathermen!)
  • 1:00 pm : Market reverses course within the last 30 minutes and spikes to session highs. (Translation: Woohoo! We were right, it’s going to go up after all!)
  • 1:30 pm : Market extends its reach into positive territory as nine out of 10 economic sectors are now trading higher. (Translation: See? Told ya it was going higher.)
  • 2:00 pm : Not much changed since the last update but market breadth now suggests that buyers have the upper hand. (Translation: The market is going up, neener neener neener.)
  • 2:30 pm : Market is still holding onto the bulk of today’s gains as buying remains widespread across most areas. (Translation: Well, it *looks* like it’s going up.)
  • 3:00 pm : Might it be deja vu? It’s hard to say, but right now, the market is following a similar course from yesterday where it struggled to hold gains. (Translation: Whatever the market’s doing, it’s either exactly like yesterday or it’s not. Market may be headed down like we said all along.)
  • 3:30 pm : Major averages now trade in split fashion and at their lowest levels of the afternoon. (Translation: Nailed it. The market is going both up *and* down!)

Sneaky Texas Legislature and Taxes

So, if the state has collected too much money, maybe as high as $10 billion, do you think those sneaky dogs in Austin ought to –

a) refund the money because citizens are complaining about property taxes, or
b) tax businesses too! Yeehaw!

If you answered (b), you can be a Texas legislator, too!

Those sneaky dogs are trying to quickly pass a tax on small businesses and hope opposition can’t organize fast enough to stop it. C.L.O.U.T. has the details.

Action Alert – Call you State Rep Right Now at the Capitol Office!
Find your State Representative and their Austin Phone number at this website Immediately!

http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/welcome.php

Tell Your State Rep to VOTE NO on House Bill 3 – the Sharp/Perry Tax plan. Taxing small and medium businesses is BAD for the Texas economy and for job growth. The Texas House of Representativs votes Monday morning on this plan for the first time. Tell your Representative that taxing Texas is bad for Texas – and the State has a $8.2 Billion Surplus – why tax more Texans when you are sitting on a pile of extra money? Use the surplus to Buy Down the School Tax Rate and then GO HOME!

Your State Rep will have a letter on their desk tomorrow morning from local tax activist Norman Adams. CLOUT support Norman Adams position:

The Sharp Business Tax will discourage business owners from locating in Texas.

I have compiled a list of eight companies located in the Greater Houston area. Please take a look at the Franchise vs. Sharp spreadsheet. I believe these companies represent typical small business owners in Texas. Most of these businesses will not get substantial property tax relief therefore I have not included it.

Paul Bettencourt, Dan Patrick and I furnished a completed schedule “B” (Sharp Tax form) to Governor Perry’s office Friday, on each of these businesses. One of the questions his staff asked, was “Why didn’t you bring this to our attention sooner?” My answer was, because I personally became aware of the details of this proposal only two weeks ago!

The majority of small business owners do not realize what the Sharp Tax Plan is about. They are leaving it up to you, their elected representatives. When they find out about it, they will hold you responsible!

The spreadsheet will show you what the Sharp Business Tax will do to these business owners! These folks will average nearly a 400% increase!

Currently, the Texas Constitution protects non corporate entities from an income tax. According to the Sharp “experts” less than one out of ten Texas businesses are subject to the Franchise tax.

The Franchise tax collected for 2005 was $1.7 Billion. In 2006, it will exceed $2 Billion!

If the Sharp plan is adopted, we will not only increase the tax our corporations are paying now, by adding the LLPs, we will multiply the tax rolls by at least ten fold. This new tax may produce twenty times our current revenue! NO ONE KNOWS!

I pray God will move you to review the attached Franchise / Sharp comparison. If you will actually review it, you will agree the Sharp Tax is bad for Texas.

May God bless you as you consider the future of our great state.

Stand strong, do what you know is right.

Norman E. Adams, CIC

Adams Insurance Service, Inc.

Call your State Representative – TAXING TEXAS WILL MOVE JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH OUTSIDE OF TEXAS.

YOUR STATE REP’S VOTE IS ON THE RECORD – THEY MUST VOTE FOR TEXAS – NOT FOR TAXES!!

Edd C. Hendee

Executive Director – CLOUT

Middle Class Military

Charles Rangel, the looney left-wing Democrat, has criticized the military on several issues, one of them that the military is made up disproportionately of minorities while middle and upper class families reap the benefits without risk.

Where he got that idea from, who knows. Certainly didn’t come from the facts, though. Turns out most of the military volunteers come from middle class families.

Researchers matched the ZIP codes of recruits over the past five years with federal government estimates of household incomes in those neighborhoods. Contrary to complaints from some liberal lawmakers and pundits, the data show that the poor are not shouldering the bulk of the military’s need for new soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines.

The poorest neighborhoods provided 18 percent of recruits in prewar 1999 and 14.6 percent in 2003. By contrast, areas where household incomes ranged from $30,000 to $200,000 provided more than 85 percent.

“We found that recruits tend to come from middle-class areas, with disproportionately fewer from low-income areas,” said the report, prepared by Tim Kane, an Air Force Academy graduate and economics scholar. “Overall, the income distribution of military enlistees is more similar to than different from the income distribution of the general population.”

Turns out they’re better educated than the average American, too:

Mr. Kane said overall evidence “is at odds with the image, painted by some supporters of the draft, that the military exploits poor, ignorant young Americans by using slick advertising that promises technical careers in the military to dupe them into trading their feeble opportunities in the private sector for a meager role as cannon fodder.”

About 98 percent of all enlistees from 1999 to 2003 had a high school diploma, compared with 75 percent of nonrecruits nationwide.

“In an education context, rather than attracting underprivileged young Americans, the military seems to be attracting above-average Americans,” Mr. Kane wrote.

Just something that warmed my heart, knowing my son returns from Army basic training tomorrow. 🙂

* Tip from Brutally Honest. About the news article, I mean, not the news about my son.

Houston Election Recap

I didn’t get all jazzed over this election; except for Proposition 2, there weren’t any real hotbuttons. My general impression of the results are that social conservatives and fiscal liberals won; Proposition 2 won handily, but those incumbents against appraisal caps held their job. Pfft.

  • Proposition 1 passed that authorized various grants. I think the government has way too much of my money already so I voted against it.
  • Proposition 2 passed, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, despite the best efforts of the opposition to lie about it. At one point I got a phone call from a recording saying this proposition would ban *all* marriages and we should all vote against it, and signed off by “Reverend” somebody to make it sound like it was a correct, religious thing to do. Their website is full of misleading quotes, denounced by the very people they’re quoting. If you have to lie to get people to vote your way then you’ve already convinced me your position is morally bankrupt.
  • Proposition 3 said “certain economic development programs do not constitute a debt.” That sounded like permission to lie to your checkbook so I voted against it. The proposition failed.
  • Proposition 4 denied bail to bad guys. Sounded good to me, and it passed with 83% of the vote.
  • Proposition 5 allowed the legislature to define rates of interest. It sounded like permission for the legislature to hold up the banking lobby to gain special favors, so I voted against it. Texas agreed and this didn’t pass.
  • Proposition 6 added additional people to review Judicial conduct. I voted for it and it passed.
  • Proposition 7 allowed line of credit advances for reverse mortgages. I voted no because I think banks are just trying to get old people’s assets, but it passed. Not a bad thing, and it retrospect I could support this.
  • Proposition 8, “clear titles for certain land” I voted for. I have no idea what these “certain lands” are, but somebody’s going to make some money off of it.
  • Proposition 9 provided for a 6 year term for a board member of the regional mobility authority. I dislike everything Metro stands for; a separate taxing entity that I’d prefer to vote out of existence. They’re getting ready to build a shopping mall while ending bus routes, go figure. I’ll vote against anything Metro wants. Texas agreed and this didn’t pass.

I voted for Michael Berry and Shelly Sekula-Gibbs and skipped the others since I really don’t know anything about them. And Mayor Bill White has so irritated me this year I voted against him, even though I knew he was going to win handily. Bill White is for socialized towing, giving away a free year of housing to Katrina refugees (estimated cost $220 million), against property appraisal caps, and for gay marriage. In short, he won his first election by pretending to be a moderate, but he is as liberal as a skunk is stinky. I voted for Gladys somebody because it sounded like she could use the votes.

You know who I’m most disappointed in? Clout. I would have loved to get their recommendations before election day, but they gave a half-hearted analysis the morning of the election, way too late to be useful. If they want to be a political force, well then, they ought to be political.

Religious Linkage for Monday

I kept waiting for Monday to let up; doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So instead of thought-provoking commentary, here’s a couple of interrelated links:
10 reasons I’ve grown to despise the Left …and why you should, too

Yeah, I know it’s written in an inflammatory way, but look at the list, especially if you’re a left-winger. The reason the left is mostly losing elections the last several years is because it’s no longer just the right that has this view of the left. Especially look at #9 and #10 – are there anybody on the right that hates God and promotes deviant behavior? The left doesn’t just reject whatever the right believes in, but they reject anything the center believes in, too.

I’m providing just the simple list here, click on the link above to get the explanation and example for each reason.

  1. Thought control.
  2. Leftists hate what makes America great.
  3. Leftists are stupid.
  4. Leftists are liars.
  5. Leftists are thieves.
  6. Leftists have nothing but contempt for democratic institutions.
  7. Leftists are hypocrites.
  8. Leftists kill people.
  9. Leftists are tireless advocates of perversion and degeneracy in all its myriad forms.
  10. The left hates God.

* From a tip from Jesus Politics.

Bush evolution comment roils long-standing battle

Actually, all Bush said was, “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes,” when he was asked about Intelligent Design.

The part of the article I found most interesting though was this:

Religious revivals or awakenings have been a recurring theme throughout American politics, the first one dating even from before the founding of the Republic. Robert Fogel, the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in economics, identifies four “great awakenings,” the latest of which began in the 1960s.

Previous cycles have been divided into three phases. The cycle begins with a religious revival, followed by a period of rising political activism and accomplishment, and ending with a backlash as the movement overreaches. If Fogel’s theory is correct, the United States is currently in the second phase of its fourth great awakening.

Pundits Mull over Implications of Roberts’ Faith

Basically, “pundits” are wondering if you have any faith at all if you should have any place in government.

I’ve mentioned before that in the US Constitution it doesn’t call for a “separation” of church and state. It says the government can neither establish nor restrict a religion, though that’s not what courts have been doing since they ruled against school prayer in 1963. Here’s something else the U.S. Constitution says in Article 6:

[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Will the lefties that hate God (forgot already, didn’t you? #10 on the list above) question John Roberts about his Catholic faith and then attempt to use that against him during the confirmation process?

Progressive Christianity

I’m convinced the liberal left is working on a new tactic – to claim christianity for themselves. That’s right, if you believe in the right to have an abortion, they’re working on scripture interpretation to support it. Gay marriage? They push a “God is Love” approach that allows homosexuality and completely skip over the “homosexuality is bad” scripture. Whatever you want to do, they will say God approves it.

These new “progressive Christians” are insisting that it’s the liberal left that has a claim on Christianity, and any claim by the religious right is in error. From a link at Jesus Politics comes this article, The lame joke of progressive Christianity.

Are you a proponent of abortion and gay rights? Want to get in touch with your inner-sodomite, but can’t reconcile it with those bigoted Bible lessons you were taught in Sunday school? No problem, there is a place for you among a free-thinking community of leftists where, indeed, it is possible to advocate such practices and still call yourself a faithful follower of Christ. Adherents of this new, enlightened form of Christianity are sure to take the Bible “seriously but not literally.” That is, they respect the holy book but are by no means bound by what it actually says, or even what it implies. Like our Constitution, I guess one could say that the Bible has become a living document to be twisted and manipulated at will.

The “progressive” christians are for higher taxes under the umbrella of “economic justice for all” and criticize conservative fiscal policies as being incompatible with scripture. Take it from the rich give it to the poor by excessive taxation is their motto. Does that fulfill Christian scripture? The New Testamament is about giving willingly, not taking it from others by law and distributing it, but the “progressive” see it differently.

Moreover, long subjugated by the “powerful political machine” of right-wingers, Christians on the left are finally speaking out about what they see as a “clash of competing Christian values.” Yes, that’s right — abortionists, socialists, and sodomites are now in a perceived tug-of-war with fundamentalist conservatives for the heart of Christianity.

That’s right, don’t resist whatever sin you face – embrace it publically for all the world to see! Dang blasted conservative christians always telling people to repent – what’s up with that?

Don’t be fooled. This is a Christianity rooted not in the Scriptural truths of God, but in the personal predilections of Man. It is no alternative to salvation. The simple fact is that the “narrow gate” is narrow by design and every one of us has a particular cross to bear on our way through it — some admittedly heavier and more burdensome than others. Nonetheless, we are all called with equal ardor to the house of brotherhood and grace.

John Kerry bumbled this attempt during the 2004 election, but Hillary Clinton is perfecting her message now to be able to twist scripture in a way to promote radical feminism, environmentalism, gay marriage, whatever liberals want. She’ll have it ready by 2008.

Want to see an example of this progressive Christianity in action? Check out this Bill McKibben article The Christian Paradox in yesterday’s Harper’s online magazine – while under the guise of stirring Christians into action, the article spends most of its energy bashing the religious right for failing in their attempts or for not having done enough – when it’s “progressives” like the author that oppose the agenda of the religious right. They oppose the religious right’s teaching of abstinence in school, then complain teenage pregnancy is up. They complain about the divorce rate rising yet are silent on the numbers of people that choose to cohabitate without getting married. They complain about poverty yet oppose faith based initiatives.

Update: Christian CADRE has a lengthy response to the Christian Paradox article that’s well worth reading from a conservative Christian apologetics viewpoint.

2 Timothy 3:2-5
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Matthew 7:15-16
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

I wonder if progressive christians realize their viewpoint is almost identical to the non-christians?