For “Scripture Sunday”:
“I suppose I should be happy that America's leaders have averted the "fiscal cliff" originally slated to hit Jan. 1. At least that's what I'm told I should feel.
For some reason I don't feel much like celebrating when the last-minute deal struck by congress to supposedly help put the nation's financial house in order will in reality add about $4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade—and will add $41 in taxes for every $1 cut in spending.
So how did we get into this mess?
Consider a few facts:
• The U.S. government currently borrows 40 percent of all that it spends. That means it borrows and spends $10.4 billion each day, $433 million per hour, $7.2 million per minute, and $120,370 per second! (And this isn't all that it spends—merely what it borrows to spend.)
• We have already spent the money that will be paid in taxes by the next generation of Americans, and more—stealing wealth from them to maintain our standard of living through massive borrowing.
The fact is, America has already run off the fiscal cliff. The real question is, how long until we hit bottom?” More at: http://www.ucg.org/blog/how-did-we-get-mess/
Where Does America Go From Here?
“As the American president takes his oath of office with his hand on the Bible, proclaiming to faithfully fulfill his responsibilities "so help me God," should we not take into consideration how God views the "state of the union" of the United States?
The curse of skyrocketing debt
It should be no surprise that the nation's growing social ills have contributed to an explosion in its financial problems.
Over the last year the debt problems of the European "PIIGS" countries—Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain—have regularly made headlines. Each of the five have enormous debt problems due to their inability to rein in government spending.
However, the per-person share of the government's outstanding debt in the United States is actually higher than in any of these deeply troubled countries!
Each American's share of federal government debt is about $45,000—15 percent higher than the per-capita debt of Greeks at almost $39,000. Even worse, American per-capita debt is expected to grow to almost $75,000 by 2020, only seven years away.
Why is government debt exploding? The simple answer is that the government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
To put this in perspective, the U.S. government is like a family with a $21,700 annual income spending $38,200 a year, with $16,500 of that put on credit cards—when the family already owes $142,710 on those credit cards!
For four consecutive years the federal government has amassed a trillion-dollar deficit. It took the United States 200 years to accumulate its first trillion dollars in debt. Now it takes about 10 months!
In September 2012 the total deficit passed $16 trillion— an amount exceeding the nation's entire GDP! How vast is that number? A stack of 16 trillion $1 bills would extend higher than Mt. Everest, past the space station, past the moon 239,000 miles away and back to Earth— twice.
Shocking as these figures are, they in fact vastly underestimate the scope of the problem. We need to factor in unfunded liabilities—the amount needed to fully fund government promises for Social Security, Medicare, military and government employee pensions and health care. The real debt load then jumps, depending on which set of economic and demographic assumptions one works from, to five to ten times the $16 trillion amount— far exceeding the GDP of the entire planet! And that doesn't even include similar unfunded liabilities for the 50 individual states and hundreds of American towns and cities.
The bottom line? America's cities are broke, its states are broke, and the nation is broke. And we're living in a fool's paradise.
God warned centuries ago that "the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7) America currently spends more than $400 billion per year just to pay interest on its staggering debt!
God pronounced curses that would come from a nation disobeying Him and rejecting His instruction: "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" (Deuteronomy 28:43-44)
The United States is experiencing a drastic turnaround unparalleled in history. Until about a generation ago, the United States was the world's leading lender nation. But now that has completely reversed, and America is the most indebted nation in world history—with more than half of U.S. debt held by rival nations such as China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela.” Complete article at: http://www.ucg.org/news-and-prophecy/where-does-america-go-here/
Life Lessons: Where Lions Stand Guard
The Rockefeller Cottage on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Ebyabe
“It was the most exclusive club in the world. The list of members included the celebrated names of Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, Macy, and Goodyear.
The small island off the coast of Georgia was covered with lush vegetation, secluded beaches, and abundant wildlife. In 1886 Jekyll Island became the private resort of the richest families in the United States.
This was the playground where those who had it all came a few weeks out of the year to swim, hunt and relax in their "cottages." Only, these cottages had 15-25 rooms including formal dining rooms, lavish parlors, 5-20 bedrooms, and servants' quarters.
The Club House, opened in 1887, provided accommodations for 100 guests. The dining room featured fine cuisine and the best wines. An evening meal could be 10 courses and last three hours. The island offered many recreational facilities including a golf course, stables, tennis courts, and boating and hunting all for the exclusive use of its members. A gamekeeper was hired to keep the area well-stocked.
For over fifty years this private island was the paradise of many peoples’ dreams. The dream to have it all: the money, the prestige, the expensive clothing, the quality furniture, the mansions. It's what some strive a lifetime to achieve. It's what some sell their soul to possess. The history of Jekyll Island offers some lessons on what is really important in life.
Points to build on
It starts out simple. You notice the new car, latest iPhone, the chic dress. Having it would make all the difference in the world. You could be happy. It would impress your friends and make others envious.
Soon it's all you think about. You've picked the exact color, the bucket seats, the perfect fit. You plan strategies on how to get what you want. The strategy becomes an obsession. It takes some anxiety and sweat but the new car, the right shoes, the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, the newest iPhone is finally yours.
You experience pleasure—until the new styles appear, or the engine breaks down, or everybody else has the same thing. Now you want something more and the cycle begins all over again. The real problem isn't in having things, it's arriving at how much is enough.
Solomon, king of ancient Israel, had it all: houses, furniture, land, clothes, gold and women. His experiences led him to this conclusion:
“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.
When goods increase, They increase who eat them;
So what profit have the owners, Except to see them with their eyes?
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much;
But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt" (Ecclesiastes 5:10-13)
Wealth isn't evil. It's a matter of priorities. A man asked Jesus to settle an inheritance squabble. Jesus refused. He went on to tell a parable of a rich man who spent his entire life creating more and more wealth. The rich man's goal was to accumulate as much as he could and someday retire to enjoy life. Jesus told of how the man died and his wealth became the property of someone else. He ended the parable by stating, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21)
Jesus’ point isn't that owning land, running a profitable business or saving for the future is wrong. Solomon admonishes his son to follow the example of the ants who store food for the time when there is no food (Proverbs 6:6-11) Jesus says it is wrong to concentrate of storing treasure and ignoring God. He says to be “rich toward God.”
But what could someone who owns the universe possibly want from us? How about we share our dreams, our hopes, and our lives with Him and accept His dreams and hopes for us?
It never dawns on many people that the Creator has a desire for the well-being and success of His children. Enjoying the resources and wealth of His physical creation is part of His plan for humanity. He desires for us to work hard and reap the rewards of our labors. He also wants us to interact with Him as our Father while learning to share, experiencing contentment and showing gratitude.
Physical things can cause temporary happiness and excitement, but real contentment comes not from what you own, or status, but from who you are. Understanding and living God's purpose in life is the only wealth we truly possess.
There are no millionaires living on Jekyll Island today. Their beautiful mansions are monuments to a by-gone era. Tourists take “cottage” tours and eat lunch in the clubhouse dining room where once only the wealthy dined.
During World War II the island was evacuated and after the war the younger generation had more exciting places to go. Within a few years the island and all of its estates were sold to the state of Georgia.
Most visitors hardly notice the two hand-carved stone statues of lions standing before the ruins of a once lavish house. The ruins are all that's left of the grand cottage of Edwin Gould. One day, while hunting on the island, Mr. Gould's son was killed in an accident. In his grief he left Jekyll Island and never returned and after years of disrepair the cottage was finally torn down.
What better illustration, than two stone lions standing guard over a ruined, ghostly estate, of Jesus’ warning, “Take heed, beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”
Next time you find yourself consumed in the race to make money, or envious of people who seem to have it all, remember to take time to enjoy what God has given you. Take time to enjoy a family meal, appreciate nature, listen to fine music, read a book and remember your Creator. Take time to remember the island of the rich and the ruined house where the lions stand guard.” From: http://www.ucg.org/blog/life-lessons-where-lions-stand-guard/
This morning’s Church of God’s TV program on WGN:
Biblical Questions for the President and You
“Given a chance, what would you ask your country's leader as he or she starts their term in office?”
On This Day:
Harold II crowned king of England, Jan 6, 1066:
“Following the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwineson, head of the most powerful noble family in England, is crowned King Harold II. On his deathbed, Edward supposedly designated Harold the royal heir, but this claim was disputed by William, duke of Normandy and cousin of the late king. In addition, King Harald III Hardraade of Norway had designs on England, as did Tostig, brother of Harold.
King Harold rallied his forces for an expected invasion by William, but Tostig launched a series of raids instead, forcing the king to leave the English Channel unprotected. In September, Tostig joined forces with King Harald III and invaded England from Scotland. On September 25, Harold met them at Stamford Bridge and defeated and killed them both. Three days later, William landed in England at Pevensey.
On October 14, 1066, Harold met William at the Battle of Hastings, and the king was killed and his forces defeated. According to legend, he was shot through the eye with an arrow. On Christmas Day, William the Conqueror was crowned the first Norman king of England.”
Two future presidents marry respective sweethearts, Jan 6, 1759 & Jan 6, 1945:
“This day in history is a wedding anniversary for two presidents: George Washington and George H.W. Bush.
In 1759, a 26-year-old George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. The recently widowed, Virginia-born Martha was an educated mother of two. George Washington--then a rising young officer in the colonial British army--moved his new bride and family to his estate at Mount Vernon. Washington soon adopted Martha's two young children, Jack and Patsy. The couple was married until his death in 1799, a 40-year union.
Historical documents have since revealed that Martha may not have been the great love of Washington's life. A year before his marriage to Martha and again in his later years, Washington wrote cryptic yet passionate love letters to Sally Fairfax, the wife of his friend George Fairfax. Nevertheless, he resigned his British military commission to marry Martha, whom he referred to as an agreable Partner [sic]. Forsaking passion for propriety, Washington settled down to a gentile aristocratic lifestyle with his new wife. Although they had no offspring of their own, he doted on his adopted children and respected Martha's parenting decisions. For her part, Martha was a devoted spouse, often accompanying Washington to headquarters during the Revolutionary War. The historical record of George and Martha's marriage is scant since Martha burned all of the couple's letters after George's death, in accordance with his wishes.
Almost two hundred years later, in 1945, George Herbert Walker Bush, already a decorated WWII hero, married his 18-year-old sweetheart, Barbara Pierce. Shortly after the honeymoon, Bush returned to combat duty. After the war, Bush completed his studies at Yale and embarked on an illustrious business and political career, which culminated in his election to the presidency in 1988.
In addition to supporting her husband's political career, Barbara Bush raised five children, including one future president, George Walker Bush, and one future governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. According to her biography, she coordinated no less than 29 family moves in 44 years of marriage. Barbara, whose name became synonymous with down-to-earth, old-fashioned American values, was popular with the American public both during and after her husband's presidency.”
New Mexico joins the Union, Jan 6, 1912:
On January 6, 1912, New Mexico is admitted into the United States as the 47th state.
Spanish explorers passed through the area that would become New Mexico in the early 16th century, encountering the well-preserved remains of a 13th-century Pueblo civilization. Exaggerated rumors about the hidden riches of these Pueblo cities encouraged the first full-scale Spanish expedition into New Mexico, led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Instead of encountering the long-departed Pueblo people, the Spanish explorers met other indigenous groups, like the Apaches, who were fiercely resistant to the early Spanish missions and ranches in the area.
In 1609, Pedro de Peralta was made governor of the "Kingdom and Provinces of New Mexico," and a year later he founded its capital at Santa Fe. In the late 17th century, Apache opposition to Spain's colonial efforts briefly drove the Spanish out of New Mexico, but within a few decades they had returned. During the 18th century, the colonists expanded their ranching efforts and made attempts at farming and mining in the region.
When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, New Mexico became a province of Mexico, and trade was opened with the United States. In the next year, American settlers began arriving in New Mexico via the Santa Fe Trail. In 1846, the Mexican-American War erupted, and U.S. General Stephen W. Kearny captured and occupied Santa Fe without significant Mexican opposition. Two years later, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded New Mexico to the United States, and in 1853 the territory was expanded to its present size through the Gadsden Purchase.
The Apache and the Navaho resisted the colonial efforts of the U.S. as they had those of Spain and Mexico, and after three decades of bloodshed, Indian resistance finally ended with the surrender of Geronimo, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, in 1886. After the suppression of New Mexico's natives, the population of New Mexico expanded considerably, and many came to participate in the ranching boom brought on by the opening of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1879. In 1912, New Mexico was granted statehood.”
Misty and I donned raincoats and hoods when we went to get Jay, or we would have been soaked during our walk.
Jay and Ray were helping me get this house ready for the appraiser. Ray spent all morning painting. Jay put some items up in my attic, including my 220v heater, even though it will warm up any space quickly, it is so ugly. Now, I am using the hardly ever used electric flickering-log fireplace in the living room. No, I don’t have central heat and air, I have had it before, and I don’t like it. There are three distinct areas in this house, and I prefer to heat and cool them individually, according their use.
Ray put the ‘flutterbies’ back up on my bedroom walls, and Jay installed a ‘new-to me’ Hunter ceiling fan-light in my bedroom. Jay also fixed a three-corner cabinet that is in the living room.
During the morning, the sun warmed everything up, so we had to turn the heat off and open the doors and windows, but it got cold again later when the rains returned.
As Miss Priss’ big cage is now in the Grooming Room, we had to turn it upside down, so that the door opens the right way. In her cage, the single storey kitty-condo that she has slept in since she was 10 days old, was replaced with a double-decker kitty-condo. She sat up on top of that and watched all the work that was going on. Even when the cage door is open she spends a lot of her time on top of that taller kitty-condo, she really likes it. She seems quite content to stay in the Grooming Room, which was ‘kitten-proofed’ years ago. I haven’t let her run around in the house any more, as she drags stuff everywhere, and I am trying to keep it neat for the appraisal on Monday.