Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Chinese Experience!

Chinese made all terrain tricycle -- the rider chooses to remain anonymous, being willing to only reveal her stylish riding shoes!

"The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you." --- Deuteronomy 28:43-45

I confess -- I am not adjusting easily to the massive change whereby the nation in which I hold my citizenship has been inundated with foreign made products of all varieties. The bulk of this stuff comes from China.

I was born and raised with an ethic that basically said, "If you are doing a job, you give it your best -- you do it right or don't do it at all. If you are making something, you produce the highest quality possible in that object so that the person buying it will have gotten a high value for the money paid."

I was recently reminded again as to how times have so drastically changed when making a purchase.

I saw advertised in the catalog of a company, which handles a wide range of products, what was identified as an "all terrain tricycle." It has large pneumatic tires and the description indicated that children could ride it in areas where traditional tricycles with small hard rubber tires could not go.

So my wife and I decided to get one for the youngest of our grandchildren who now range in age from 1 year all the way up to 27 1/2 years.

UPS delivered the tricycle in a carton that had originally started out in China and by time of arrival at our place it was pretty well beat up! Due to coming partially open a carriage bolt for the rear axle area of the tricycle had been lost. Since no packing material was used, the parts were wrapped a bit with plastic sheeting. This permitted them to bounce against each other in transit and caused chipping of the paint in a number of places. The paint job left a lot to be desired since no primer had been used and due to inferior steel a thing called rust was beginning to appear on some surface areas.

I started the assembly process of this thing which looked like it had been the victim of some body's yard sale for 5 years running.

Hang on now -- the good part is about to happen. The pedals had to be attached to the pedal assembly on each side of the front wheel. I found the one with the "L" which indicated it was left-hand threaded and to be installed on the left side of the wheel.

What's this? The pedal wouldn't screw into the assembly as one would expect. So I got a thought -- maybe the left side assembly was actually put on the right side of the wheel at the factory. So I gave it a try -- and guess what? The pedal screwed right into the assembly without any resistance!

So I then installed the right-hand threaded pedal on the right hand pedal assembly which was on the left side of the front wheel of an all terrain tricycle! Are you confused yet?

But that wasn't the end of it. I detailed all this stuff and fired it off to the company in an email with a couple of attached photos to establish my "case!" I also suggested that they contact the Chinese manufacturer and explain the difference between left hand and right hand.

Finally I mentioned that I was going to repaint the tricycle but the color scheme would be different. I'm going to do it in a John Deere green and yellow -- frame will be green and wheels yellow. I've already located a place where I can get the paint at a very reasonable price. It certainly will be a great improvement over how the Chinese did it!

To the company's credit, it responded with options on my part as to how this might be made right. I accepted one of the offered options.

The larger picture, however, is a frightening one. China doesn't really have to do anything against us militarily to bring us down -- all it has to do is shut off the flow of consumer goods and demand payment on that big chunk of U. S. debt which it now owns!

How well have you been doing at learning the Chinese language these days?

"You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. Those near and those far from you will mock you as infamous and full of tumult."
--- Ezekiel 22:4, 5

Monday, July 28, 2008

The United Methodist Caste System Is Yet Alive and Well!

As noted in comments a few years back we have in the republic of the United States a unique caste system that most refuse to recognize. If attention is drawn to it there are vehement protests of denial!

This caste system has existed within the clergy structure of the United Methodist Church for quite a long time.

I started out as a supply pastor in the former Methodist Church nearly half a century ago. Supply pastors were persons who felt called of God to pastoral ministry but in most cases had rather limited education. They did not hold the “status” of ordained seminary trained clergy. They were limited in the appointment process with the seminary trained people given preference to the higher salaried “prestige” appointments – sort of an unwritten “law” in how things were done – you know, we pray about the appointment procedure and if God is going to work in this thing, He better make sure that the dignified ordained elders are placed in the preferred appointments, while those who rank lower on the totem pole get the leftovers.

Over time if anything the “caste system” is more entrenched and complex that it has ever been in Methodist history with new categories being invented into which preachers are sorted out and positioned!

A couple of critical issues that further underscore the sheer stupidity of categorizing pastors involve voting rights and serving the Lord’s Supper.

Depending on what slot you fit into, you may not be able to vote on ministerial issues. General Conference 2008 has attempted to expand that a bit, but rest assured that it is a sure thing that there will always be some pastors who can stand in a pulpit of a United Methodist Church and preach a sermon but who will be restricted somehow when it comes to voting at annual conference sessions!

And then there is that matter of the Lord’s Supper – who can serve it and who cannot.

Again, depending on your ranking in the United Methodist clergy caste system, you may be “authorized” to serve the Lord’s Supper or you may be told by a member of the hierarchy or a member of that illustrious group known as the Board of Ordained Ministry that you cannot serve the Lord’s Supper.

Now here’s a stimulant for a few brain cells – how is it God calls a person to preach and teach His Word but because of a caste system set in place over time due to the trappings of human tradition, that person is not permitted to serve the Lord’s Supper to the persons with whom he or she shares God’s Word on a weekly basis?

Now then, how about this -- where do you find in the New Testament church such a caste system for clergy established? And where do you find that an ordained elder must “consecrate” the elements for those who are at a lower level on the United Methodist clergy totem pole?

Yes, I already know – objections will quickly be hurled in my direction preceded by the word, “But…”

Just remember, the way to Hell is paved with cobblestones – on top of each one is engraved the word, “But!”

Will anything of substance be done to dismantle the UMC’s infamous caste system which members of the hierarchy refuse to acknowledge?

Hardly – ordained elders will adamantly refuse to give up even one square inch of their coveted domain!

Clayton D. Harriger
Retired elder in full connection
W. PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church

PS: Those “comments” referred to at the beginning are found at The Caste System Nobody Dares to Mention! Use return feature on your browser to come back here.

PPS: Even as this was written notice has already been sent out to all pastors in the W. PA Annual Conference, no matter what their position on the totem pole might be, of a gathering later in August. The Order of Elders is to be organized. It is noted that it is not necessary to organize the Association of Local Pastors and Associate Members according to the Discipline. However, Bishop Bickerton desires that all three groups should be organized at the same time. See what we mean in saying that the “caste system” is alive and well when it comes to United Methodist clergy?

Caste: any exclusive social or occupational class or group; rigid class distinction based on birth, wealth, etc., operating as a social system or principle. --- as defined in Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
--- James 3:13-17

Thursday, July 24, 2008

“Politics" in Electing United Methodist Bishops? Learn from Us, You Democrats and Republicans!

"I want to be a United Methodist bishop!"

A conversation with Luke this week tipped me off to the practice of creating websites for episcopal candidates within the United Methodist Church. He pointed me to the Southeast Jurisdiction Candidates and North Central Jurisdiction Candidates where nearly 100% of them have created a website specifically to promote their candidacy.
--- comment as posted at www.methoblog.com

Once again it has been “election time” in regard to something referred to as the episcopacy of the United Methodist Church.

Jurisdictional conferences have met, ballots have been cast numerous times, and out of all this activity certain persons now wear a hat with the label “bishop” on it.

Questions have increasingly surfaced about the “process” and the fact that it has become a game of politics each quadrennium. Conferences, certain groups and individuals have their “favorites” whom they want to see elevated to that coveted position of being a “shepherd” at the episcopal level of the United Methodist Church!

Like it or not, campaigning is now a very real part of getting to be a bishop in the U. M. C! Web sites are set up advertising all the so-called “gifts and graces” along with documented history and educational background of that man or woman and how he or she will be the perfect one to grasp the shepherd’s staff in some conference somewhere!

I remember seeing one web site 4 years ago with all the campaign rhetoric which would make the Democrats and Republicans look like amateurs by way of comparison in demonstrating how to get your candidate elected. By the way, the person on that web site did make it for bishop – a Las Vegas gambler would have bet that it was an absolute sure thing! Sorry for slipping that one in, since gambling is a great abomination among many United Methodists – but also keep in mind, one ought not to roll the dice, but it’s ok to mutilate and murder unborn children – no protesting on that one!

Actually I don’t make it a practice to check out all episcopal candidates when that time rolls around each 4 years – for the simple reason that the stuff promoting even one candidate goes a long, long way and my stomach can barely handle just one!

The main difference between the United Methodist and the Democratic/Republican style of campaigning for office is that the Dems and the GOPers don’t attempt to dress up their stuff with a lot of pious talk and activity.

What would happen if a Biblical approach was tried? Suppose the names of all who aspired to be bishop were dropped in a hat – then have two or three days of fasting and prayer with the attitude that God knows the best person for the position. Then have a 5 or 6-year-old boy or girl draw out the name or names! Hey, don’t get bent out of shape yet – think it through – it really couldn’t get any worse than it is now with the loss of tens of thousands of members every year.

Ooops! I forgot – that would probably lead to extensive “campaigning” as to who that boy or girl would be who would draw the names out of that silk hat!

Mister chairperson – I withdraw my motion that we attempt to select our bishops by lot. Instead I resubmit a motion to invite high level Democrats and Republicans to witness first hand what real campaigning is about during the year preceding our jurisdictional conferences – they will positively learn a thing or two about how to get a candidate elected!

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men; the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." And He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." --- Mark 7:5-9

Monday, July 21, 2008

Please, Mr. Fed, I’m in Financial Distress – Will You Bail Me Out?

The U. S. Treasury along with the Federal Reserve revealed plans to “shore up” those odd-named mortgage outfits known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Shares have plunged due to losses from their mortgage holdings which posed a very serious threat to their financial survival. --- news information released on July 13, 2008

Here’s the key – get BIG and invest tons and tons of money, getting it from whomever you can convince to go along for the ride! And then when things go sour and the money is leaving you faster than it can be flushed down the toilet, just yell, “Help!”

And guess who will come running? Why the financial “Dynamic Duo” of Washington DC – the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, of course!

Years ago there were “bail outs” of big companies and since history doesn’t really change in such matters, we are seeing a repeat – only this time it is in the wonderful world of mortgages with two biggies on the verge of going belly up!

News information revealed that the “government is prepared to take all necessary steps to prevent the credit market troubles that started last year from engulfing financial markets and further weakening the economy and housing markets.”

And how about this – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been given “authority” to lend those outfits with those odd names the money needed at a rate of 2.25 percent! That’s the present rate paid by commercial banks and what are considered “big’ Wall Street firms!

When was the last time you got a loan at a rate of 2.25 percent? If you have the misfortune of having certain credit cards, you are paying well over 20 percent on unpaid balances. Your vehicle loan is quite a bit above that 2.25 percent level is it not? Although in desperation some manufacturers once in a while bait potential customers in with an offer of 0 percent financing over a number of months. But the price of that gas guzzler is so high that getting that 0 percent is not that much of a bargain in the long run -- especially when you discover it likes its "tea" in huge amounts!

But here’s the point – if you are big enough, when you wallow and begin to sink in financial disaster, just yell and the government will bail you out! But if you a “little guy” as most of us are, and you are trying to deal with financial disaster, don’t go to the government for help – all those people are interested in is the tax money you pay, and if possible, they will scheme somehow to get more out of you in the future!

A couple of things to remember:

First, the government is itself so deeply in debt, that the day will come when it won’t be able to bail out a person who is $1.00 in debt! The national debt is increasing steadily by billions each year – total now is over 9 trillion – that’s a 9 followed by a lot of zeros!

Second, there is good news – the day will also come when government officials in every nation will be dismissed from their positions, because One Who is identified as the King of kings and the Lord of lords will have returned and taken control of the affairs of this present world. Now it will be a bit messy at the time of this transition, but He will get it all settled down and finally, peace will be the order of the day.

You can read all about it in a book called the Bible. Yes, yes, I already know – for some people, to talk like this is to talk like a crazy person who should be put in a padded cell. So it comes down to a choice – did Jesus know what He was talking about when He mentioned quite often that He will return to this earth, or is He simply a deluded fool? What do you say, and how has this impacted your life? Does it make a difference when you wake up in the morning and when you lay your head on the pillow at night?

As for me, He’s the best Friend I have and I’ve know Him personally for over 5 decades. I and some others excitedly look forward to His return and taking control of the chaotic governments and financial systems of this world! In the meantime we seek to carry out His parting command to confront the world with His call to repent of all sin and rebellion and believe on Him as Savior and Lord, the living Son of God. Yes, some of us still believe that command is still in effect -- in spite of what you may have heard in some church circles!

Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." --- Matthew 28:18-20

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" --- Revelation 11:15

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Come Now, We Don't Have to Do a Thing to Get God's Attention!

An American pastor who made news in April by studying NASA's eclipse calendar to speculate on the return of Jesus Christ to Earth is now planning a worldwide blast of trumpets this fall to get God's attention.
--- opening statement of article posted at WorldNetDaily on July 3, 2008

Big plans are in the making – trumpet blast time synchronized at same moment in time zones all over the world and compared to the “wave” which takes place at sporting events in stadiums.

The head of El Shaddai Ministries, Mark Blitz, is calling for a world-wide observance of the Feast of Trumpets on September 29, 2008. This will involve lots of shouting and blowing of shofars, trumpet-like instruments made from the horns of what are considered Biblically clean animals such as rams.

Blitz has issued an invitation at his web site for participation – in his words, “Let’s have an around the world shofar assembly in every time zone on the Feast of Trumpets at sunset announcing to Messiah we are awake and anxiously anticipating His return.”

Some things to bear in mind before we purse our lips and prepare to sound a blast:

  • First, we don’t need to do anything to get God’s attention – we’ve been under constant surveillance on a 24/7 basis ever since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden! Just as a reminder, consider what God Himself has revealed about it:

    The LORD is in His holy temple, The Lord's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. (Psalm 11:4). "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.” (Jeremiah 16:17).

  • Second, in regard to “anxiously anticipating His (Jesus’) return,” among professing Christians the number has to be rather limited. We now have “scholars,” theologians, seminary professors, church leaders and pastors who either totally deny Jesus’ personal return to earth or question whether it will ever happen any time soon. Therefore, so far as that bunch is concerned, it is best to forget about the whole thing!

  • Third, ethical, moral and spiritual conditions will continue to deteriorate to the extent that on one occasion Jesus asked a most unsettling question – “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). He also said such deterioration would lead to a duplicate of conditions as existing at the time of Noah prior to the judgment of the universal flood and the time of Lot when he and his family lived in Sodom before that city was totally obliterated.

The vast majority of this world’s 6 billion + inhabitants is making its contribution to the chaos as described by Isaiah: “The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5).

No, no announcement, shout or trumpet blasting is needed to let the Lord know we are anticipating His return – since He knows completely what is in our hearts and minds, He knows if we are really expecting His return.

But of far greater importance, He knows to what extent we really believe He is returning to earth by how we now invest our time, talent (gifted abilities), and treasure (material goods) on a daily basis as witness to the truth of His promised return as King of kings and Lord of lords!

"But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing." --- Matthew 24:36-46

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" --- Revelation 11:15

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Annual July Ritual in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

According to recent figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 9,200 people were treated in emergency rooms across the country in 2006 as a result of the mishandling of fireworks. Children ages 15 and younger account for 36 percent of all fireworks injuries. --- from front page article, “Playing it safe on the Fourth,” of Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, July 3, 2008

It’s that time of year again in Pennsylvania. If you are not a resident, then you don’t know how our noble state seeks to save us from ourselves over the 4th of July holiday. The media people bend over backwards to give their “expert” assistance in this endeavor.

We are exposed to lengthy and graphic details about the dangers of fireworks. We are informed of the laws prohibiting private use of certain types of explosive fireworks – e.g. like little Ralphie shooting his eye out with a BB gun in “A Christmas Story,” so we’ll be losing an eye or both of them, losing fingers and/or getting burned with those deadly fireworks! We are strongly urged to leave fireworks alone and let the “professionals” do the pyrotechnics stuff.

See how simple it is and how our Commonwealth and mass media have our best interest at heart?

However, there is a major, major problem of the first magnitude in all this – dare I suggest there is really more than a tad of hypocrisy going on here?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in the business of selling alcoholic beverages – you know, some really hard and powerful stuff such as Jack Daniels and other varieties having a high content of alcohol. In addition to its direct selling of such beverages, Pennsylvania also issues licenses to establishments to sell beverage alcohol to customers while collecting a lot of revenue in the process of such activity – but never enough revenue to cover all the cost of damage, destruction and death resulting from the ingestion of such liquids!

And the Commonwealth has greatly expanded its gambling operations in recent years with permitting the start up of casinos and all the trappings that are a part of such financial blood letting! In the matter of the casinos, the state does not own them – it simply “oversees” and supposedly “regulates” them while reaping a harvest of taxes. It continues to own and operate its lottery which has been touted as a great success. Anyone want to tally the widespread devastation in personal lives which has taken place due to this "activity?" That in addition to the corruption which takes place among officials and a criminal element wanting to get its fingers into this luscious pie!

Now then, just a simple question – to what extent does the Commonwealth give warnings and the mass media provide details about the mass destruction, ruined lives, grief and sorrow, and shattered families resulting from Pennsylvania’s “business” operations as it engages in sales of beverage alcohol and gambling? Do we get a daily report on all who have been victimized by such trafficking on the part of our state -- it always helps to have photos which seems to be a specialty of the mass media! Rest assured that there is more than an eye or two or a couple of fingers lost in this mass assault on citizens and their families in the Keystone state!

Will the governor and an obese legislature ever face reality in this matter? Not likely, as their only message (and warning) is, “Don’t you dare light that firecracker – we’ll fine you and possibly give you some jail time!”

All to which the mass media folks, such as the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, will say a hearty, “Amen! and Amen! We’ll do it again next year so that the good people of Pennsylvania will be reminded – watch out for fireworks – they’re very dangerous and you could get hurt!”

Let's see now -- what was that word to which we made reference earlier -- hypo... something or other?

"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" --- Matthew 23:24

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

B. O. Courting "Evangelicals?" Surely You Jest!

"Obama Courting Evangelicals" --- Internet news headline - July 1, 2008

DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate Barack Obama has promised a more active approach to faith-based social programs in a bid to bolster his support among evangelical and religious voters. --- opening statement of news release - July 1, 2008

Yes, Virginia, it's really happening -- B. O. is going after the "evangelicals" -- you know, that group of persons which claims to believe the Bible and at times mentions that evangelism is a mission in which all Christians are to be involved!

B. O. and "evangelicals" make for strange bedfellows, to say the least. Part of B. O.'s latest strategy is to suggest that faith-based groups ought to be involved in bringing about some degree of improvement in the condition of our republic.

Religiously speaking, B. O. has yet to be explicit in going on public record that his faith is centered in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, that he is committed to serving Jesus Christ in whatever capacity he finds himself as a politician, and that he views the holy Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God. Further, that the Scriptures are the final authority in all matters having to do with human relationships, personal and collective accountability to Almighty God, faith and the practicing of that faith in daily experiences wherever one may be.

Will "evangelicals" scramble to get on board the B. O. bandwagon as it gains momentum heading toward the presidential election in November 2008?

They might as well since they have pretty well caved in on a number of rather critical issues already.

There are signs of backing away from the central truth that Jesus Christ is exclusively the way of salvation for all human beings -- no exception whatsoever! Doing "dialog" with representatives of various world religions has helped to bring about compromise on this issue -- after all, it's not nice to be so narrow-minded in times such as these, is it? So bend a little bit on this one.

Doing "dialog" also with those who practice sexual behavior that is condemned by Almighty God is further indication that there are those in the "evangelical" camp who should have little objection to B. O.'s approach to same-gender issues. And he has gone on record as to what he intends to do about helping same-gender "couples" with their various dilemmas.

One thing is certain -- for whomever the majority of those who claim to be "evangelical" cast their votes, that presidential candidate will have a powerful asset in his quest to be the one who sits in the Oval Office in January 2009.

B. O. and "evangelical" support? No, Virginia, it may not be as far fetched as you tend to think!

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty." --- 2 Corinthians 6:14-18