Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Woo hoo, freedom!


It is amazing how deceptive our perspectives can be, as is illustrated in this advertisement from where I do my banking.




Woo hoo, freedom!

Really?

When I was a teenager and wanted to get my driver’s licence my father spoke to me a warning that I have never forgotten.  He told me that I should not be in too big of a hurry to “grow up” and get a driver’s licence and a car.  He said that once a person does this he becomes a slave for the rest of his life.  He further explained the costs of these and the requirements to have a job and a bank account and the many other things required to maintain this so-called freedom.

In the advertisement the perspective being presented is that banking provides freedom for a person to accomplish those things that one’s heart desires.

This, however, is a deception that mankind has eagerly embraced.

On this matter the Lord Jesus spoke frankly, saying:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  (Matthew 6:24)


This statement declares much more than one may first perceive.

The first, which is easily overlooked, is that freedom is often perceived incorrectly.  For freedom is not the same as independence.  No human being is truly independent.  Every person is a dependent.  The question is, “to whom or what?”  One’s dependency manifests itself in whom or what that person serves, or to whom or what that person is a slave.

The Lord Jesus declares that God and mammon are the two masters that are commonly served.

The one is perceived as a powerful overlord who makes stringent demands upon His servants.  But is this the truth?  Is this really how things are?

The other is perceived as a tool that sets a person free to be what one wants and to do what one chooses and to have whatever one wants.  Yet mammon, that is, material possessions, enslaves people quite ruthlessly.  The world is full of examples of this.  We all experience it at whatever level that we choose to follow the ways of mammon.

But of the master known as God, what does it really mean to serve Him?  What does He require of His slaves?  The simplest answer is that He requires that He be acknowledged as their one and only Master.

The Lord Jesus explains this further, saying:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:24-33)


God speaks of Himself as our Father who provides for us in all things.  When He demands that we acknowledge this, who is being served by this demand?  Ultimately, are we not the ones that this commandment serves?  If acknowledging God as our Father and Master means that our bondage to endless worrying and fretting and striving after mammon is the result, if it means that we “fear, love, and trust in God above all else,” is this not actually the truest form of freedom?

In a family, who is more free?  Is it the father or the newborn babe?  Of the two, which has the bigger burdens?  Which has the requirement of working and providing and defending.  Of the mother and the infant, which one is better described as slave to the other?  Which one works and slaves for the well-being and happiness of the other?  Which one intently listens to every sound of the other, ready to come running to provide for even the tiniest need?

This is why the Lord Jesus also declares:

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:3)


The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom in which the true faith unites God and His children.  The true faith binds the hearts of the believers to the one who rules for their everlasting good.

Is this not true freedom?

For those who prefer banking regulations to the will and Lordship of God, slave away!

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15


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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Helping the Homeless



Last week I had to renew and pay the registration and other fees for my business equipment: my truck and chipper and other two trailers.  Once again the State of Kansas changed the rules, costing me a couple of days in contacting the right sources and changing my registrations and tags.  Naturally, the cost also has increased on account of this new and improved method of taxation.

After finalizing the process, with my notebooks and files and information and new tags in hand, a fellow called out to me from the parking lot.  I forget his exact words, but I think that they were, “Hey fella!  Can you do me a favor?”

He wanted $1.50 for bus fare on account of the cold weather and snow and ice.  All I had was a ten dollar bill, and I needed that for my daily supplies.  So with a certain degree of guilty feeling I told him that I could not help.  It was the truth, but it still felt wrong, because my heart naturally wants to help those in need, even when I know that they could be trying to trick me, and are asking for what I do not have to give.

He was clearly homeless, as he claimed.  He also smelled of alcohol, which he promised he was not going to purchase with my money.  His pants were wet down the inside of the legs, which indicated that he may not even have been aware that he had wet himself.  But in cold weather that can happen even without the influence of alcohol.

As I walked away, it occurred to me that perhaps I could give him a ride to where he needed to go.  So I turned back to him and asked how far he needed to go.  He paused, and then said that he wanted to go to Pastor Dan’s church, where he helps homeless people.  So I offered to take him there.  According to his directions, it was not significantly out of my way.

As I drove I conversed with him, asking about his situation.  I asked whether he was homeless by circumstance or by choice.  I know of people who do choose to be “homeless,” to live without the obligations of rent or a mortgage and property taxes and the like.  But he responded that he was homeless because he had lost his job.  He had been working at Evergreen Pallet LLC, recycling used pallets.

As we continued talking he shared that he was trying to gather enough money for bus fare to go visit his sister who had liver disease.  As I queried further, I asked about him being able to find a job, to which he responded, “Oh, I can get my job back where I was, but I don’t have any transportation.”  He said that it was too cold to ride a bike or to walk, with which I can sympathize.  Yet it also informed me that he was indeed homeless and without income by choice, even though he did not perceive this.

I do deeply sympathize with this man and the many others like him.  I am glad for the fact that the Lord’s Diner and Pastor Dan and other places are established to help them at least to have a meal when they are down.  Moreover, I also do help in small ways when I am able.

Yet I am not responsible for his circumstances and it is wrong for me to take that upon myself.  Certainly his situation is sad.  In a certain sense, because of his mindset, he is unable to escape this or to improve his circumstances.  But this is on him, not me.  I have my own failings with which to deal.  I can help in small ways and I can speak the Truth to him in love, but I do not have the power of mine own to set him free.  Only the Gospel can do that.  I can proclaim it, but only the Holy Spirit can work the regeneration that this man needs.

I recall another situation, where a lawn maintenance company owner encountered a man on a corner with a sign asking for assistance, claiming to be homeless and in need of food.  This businessman was moved to compassion, and when he went to McDonalds to get breakfast for himself and his crew, he also bought a meal for this man and drove by and handed it to him through the truck window.  The man threw it on the ground, declaring, “I don’t want food!  I want money!”

A person has to discriminate between those in genuine need and those who are not.  Otherwise one is not being a faithful steward of the resources received from the Lord.  One can actually find oneself contributing to evil unaware.  As a friend and neighbor said today on this issue, “I want to help people, but I am not willing to pay for someone’s next drunk.”  He also said, “It’s getting harder and harder to be a Christian in the world.”

So it seems.  Yet nothing is easier than being a Christian.  What is actually hard is being a sinner.  The Old Adam is ever taxing the fleshly nature, urging it to fight against the spirit.  The devil uses the worldly influences, the fleshly desires, and hard circumstances, to challenge the spirit and to embolden the Old Adam.

The Christian is in the world but not of the world, and so the Christian is very much like a homeless person in the world.  This can seem hard when a person looks to this rather than to the grace of God in Christ.  When the daily frustrations are given priority rather than rejoicing in the means of grace provided in the divine service and in regular time in the communion of God through hearing the Word, then being a Christian seems hard.  But the Lord has provided His means of grace through which He renews us and strengthens us continually so long as we do not neglect our partaking of them.

A wonderful hymn reflecting this is:



                    "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee"
                          by Georg Neumark, 1621-1681
                 Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878
                                  Text From:
                              THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL
                 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941)



    1. If thou but suffer God to guide thee
    And hope in Him through all thy ways,
    He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
    And bear thee through the evil days.
    Who trusts in God's unchanging love
    Builds on the Rock that naught can move.
   
    2. What can these anxious cares avail thee,
    These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
    What can it help if thou bewail thee
    O'er each dark moment as it flies?
    Our cross and trials do but press
    The heavier for our bitterness.
   
    3. Be patient and await His leisure
    In cheerful hope, with heart content
    To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure
    And His discerning love hath sent,
    Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
    To Him who chose us for His own.
   
    4. God knows full well when times of gladness
    Shall be the needful thing for thee.
    When He has tried thy soul with sadness
    And from all guile has found thee free,
    He comes to thee all unaware
    And makes thee own His loving care.
   
    5. Nor think amid the fiery trial
    That God hath cast thee off unheard,
    That he whose hopes meet no denial
    Must surely be of God preferred.
    Time passes and much change doth bring
    And sets a bound to everything.
   
    6. All are alike before the Highest;
    'Tis easy to our God, we know,
    To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
    To make the rich man poor and low.
    True wonders still by Him are wrought
    Who setteth up and brings to naught.
   
    7. Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
    Perform thy duties faithfully,
    And trust His Word, though undeserving,
    Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
    God never yet forsook in need
    The soul that trusted Him indeed.



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Junk Mail - Hard to Believe



Just now I cleared my junk mail folder.  1258 items were in the folder, compiled over the last three days.

This is a very sad manifestation of the condition of sinful mankind.  It is not really anything new.  Deceivers and scammers have arisen in every age.  The Internet has made this easier for such minded people.  But it is not a new thing.

Even more disappointing is to examine oneself and to realize one’s own sinful desire to cheat and deceive.  It is present for each one of us.  We can turn a blind eye and lie to ourselves, telling ourselves that we are not like these other people.  But in is in our sinful nature.  It does manifest itself in our desires that we cannot suppress.  They appear, even though we may not want them to appear.

For the Christian is this constant battle, as St. Paul describes in Romans 7.  It is a genuine war that is waged between the two natures: the old sinful nature inherited from Adam; and the regenerated and sanctified nature inherited through Baptism.  Thanks be to God that the victory is already won in Christ Jesus the Lord.  He died in our place to set us free and rose again that His perfect and holy life would be imparted to us in the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with the Word and Promise.  Through Baptism God joins us together with Christ in this victory so that even in the midst of the daily struggle we have the everlasting hope of Life everlasting in God’s holy communion.

Thus, the junk mail serves as a blessed reminder of the gracious activity of the Lord in the lives of His saints.  We see the prevalence of sin in the world and we recognize our own need to be rescued from this wretched condition so that we are continually turned again to the gracious working of God through His means of grace.  There we encounter the mighty Judge who has elected from eternity to take our judgment Himself so that 1 John 1:8-9 can be proclaimed openly and honestly to us.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Eco Pure Generosity

Today I was very pleasantly surprised by a display of generosity by one of our local merchants, Eco Pure of Wichita.

I have purchased bottles from Eco Pure several times in the past, which I have used for water storage and for making our Communion wine.  Their charge is a very reasonable price.

Today I called as I have a neighbor whose water was shut off by the city of Wichita and he cannot afford to have it turned on again.  Thus he is having to use bottles to lug water from a neighbor, but he had only one bottle.  Chelsey at Eco Pure promised to find a couple of bottles that I could give to my neighbor to help him to get by.  When I arrived at the office, to my surprise, she had two full bottles prepared as well as two cases of bottled water to give to my neighbor.  He was excitedly grateful for the kindness shown by Chelsey and Eco Pure.  I am delighted to observe this kind generosity on their part.  Now my dear neighbor will not need to lug water for a few days and will be more efficiently able in the future.

I was planning to pick up the bottles and to fill them for him from our reverse osmosis water filter.  But Chelsey saved me the extra effort, and made it possible for me to make the water available to him immediately.

My neighbor was and is very excitedly grateful.  Now the bad weather is less of a factor for him as he can obtain his water in a larger quantity when inclement weather is not a threat.

Thank you Chelsey and thank you Eco Pure!

And of course, thanks be to God for His grace manifested through the generous gifts given and received.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pertinent Proverbs



These seem especially fitting in this age from Proverbs 27:

(4)  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

(5)  Open rebuke is better than secret love.

(6)  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

(9)  Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

(12)  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

(14)  He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.

(17)  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

Ezekiel 18:30-32 — “Why Will Ye Die, O House of Israel”




Today I perused the statistics page for the Bride of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church web site and found that among the search engine queries this query had been presented: “what does ezekiel 18 30-32 mean to the church today”.

This piqued my interest so that I read again the sermon from the Feast of the Holy Trinity from 2011.  Here are the links to the HTML, PDF, and MP3 files.


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Resuming Posting?



It has been a number of months since I have invested the time and energy to post to this weblog site.  I wonder how many people still know that this is the source of the term: blog, that it is a contraction of web-log.  In conjunction with this I also have wondered how relevant blogging is today, as have many others who have grown weary of investing the time and energy to do it well.  So I did a query and found: 2014: Are Blogs Still Relevant?

Perhaps this article is on point concerning this matter.  I know that I personally still find well developed and composed blogs to be of interest and benefit to me, and because of this I still desire to offer articles for others as well.  I was disappointed when one of the long time blogs that I visited was removed by the author this year.  He posted some very valuable information over the years, but he had grown tired of making large investments of time and energy while often receiving very unkind responses, harsh arguments, and even attacks by some responders.

His was one of the best blogs of its kind that I have encountered.  But he grew tired, which I certainly understand myself.  I valued his efforts.  I was also one who did debate and even argue with him concerning conflicting points.  But I only argued with him because I valued the good that he shared and desired for clarity and absolute truth.  I desired the unity and agreement that only exists on the other side of honest confrontation.  As is declared in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”  So I miss his contributions.

My blog is not nearly as popular as his was.  That may be a good thing.  Nevertheless, a few have expressed appreciation for what I have offered.  Today I resume, as much as I have energy to offer.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Have You Spammed Yourself Today?


A few minutes ago I received a phone call from myself.  At least so said the caller ID.  This is also what the phone company has on record.  My name and my home phone number called me on my home phone.

It was one of the bogus "Credit Card Services" calls.  Each time that this call comes, the recording says that it is the "final" call, pressing me to respond.

Having called the phone company, I was told that this is a new occurrence that is happening frequently in recent days.  The phone company has no record of the real caller.  Therefore I cannot report it, nor can they.  Not that the government agencies would do anything anyway.  Actually, they are likely the ones making the calls.  Who knows?

The lady at the phone company suggested being registered on the National Do No Call Registry.  I informed her that this has become useless.  She said to sign up every year.  She says that this is what she does.

She also warned that one should not answer calls such as this as it tells the caller that this is a valid number.

So now I have to be wary of phone calls from MYSELF.

So be on guard, you may be calling yourself today, too.

Hmm.  The saying used to be that one is OK when talking to oneself so long as one does not answer oneself.  I think this meant not to answer as though being another person than oneself.  Regardless, now we have to beware of calling oneself and answering oneself.

Argghh!





By the way, these calls always use the same recording with the same woman's voice.  This means that it is the same deceivers making these fraudulent calls.  So how hard is it for the proper agencies to track them down?

Moreover, "Credit Card Services" is the same name as what many of the credit card companies now use for servicing their accounts by phone.

So who is really making these calls that we are told are untraceable?

Who is really being traced and by whom?



I'm tired.  I'm tired of the abuses.  Sadly, they are only getting worse each day.



Come Lord Jesus, come!

Revelation 22:20

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hard-Boiled Eggs Without Peeling



Yesterday I checked at LewRockwell.com and saw a link for the article: The Food Lab: The Hard Truth About Boiled Eggs.

At the end of the article is included this video and list of instructions:







Instructions:


  1. Cover the eggs with water and boil on low for about 12 minutes.
  2. Cool the eggs by placing them in cold water with one teaspoon of baking soda and ice. The baking soda raises the pH level and reduces adherence. If you choose not to use baking soda, be sure to move the eggs into cold water with plenty of ice immediately after boiling.
  3. Crack the top of the egg and remove a small piece.
  4. Crack the bottom (wide end) of the egg and remove a small piece.
  5. Hold the egg in your hand and blow vigorously into the narrow end of the egg, which will expel it out the wide end.




Since it has been raining and keeping me from working outdoors, and since this was an exciting discovery, I had to give it a try.  So I started small, with only 8 eggs.  It worked wonderfully.

However, I had not noticed the list of instructions, having only viewed the video, so I thought that the baking soda was to be added to the boiling water.  This worked just as well.

Also, I used a large bowl with tap water to cool the eggs rather than wasting ice cubes.  I simply lifted the eggs from the hot water using a spoon and gently added them to the cool water.  After a brief period of cooling, I gave it a try and it worked to my delight.

A word of caution should be noted, however.  In steps 3 and 4 one should be careful not to make the openings too large as this weakens the integrity of the shell so that it shatters and peeling becomes necessary.  But if the opening on the small end of the egg is just enough to allow blowing air into the egg and the opening in the larger end is just as wide as is easily peeled away after gently cracking the shell on that end, it works beautifully.

Ploop!  Out slides the egg into the hand waiting to catch it.

Then a gentle rinse and any remaining shell fragments wash away down into the sink.



Only six eggs ... I couldn't wait and had two for brunch.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Today, upon my wife challenging the necessity of adding baking soda, I tried some without the baking soda.

It seems that she was right.  The process seems to work very well using plain water both for the boiling of the eggs and for cooling them.

I suspect that letting them cool only enough not to burn my lips is a good procedure, as the eggs are more pliable when still warm, and easier to expel from the shells.

So I made a total of 18 today.  Each one slid out beautifully without actually peeling them.

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Not So Strong ...



In the article posted below, Decepticon Invasion, I share my feeling disturbed by the progression of invasive technology used in deceptive ways.  Why should this disturb a man like myself?

I am helpless to defend myself and my wife from home invasion and theft by a computerized robotic calling system.  I am unable to defend against the many forms of rape that are continually being foisted upon our society by big government, big corporations, big pseudo-churches, and the like.  I am unable to protect myself and my wife from disrespectful, discourteous, and selfishly unsafe drivers on the road.  At every turn I encounter the evidence that I really am not so strong as some may think or that I may wish to be.

This is why the True Church of the pure Gospel and Sacraments is absolutely indispensable for me.  I cannot live without the holy catholic Church on earth, the communion of saints, the Church congregated by the calling of the Holy Spirit to the pure means of grace.  These pure means of grace are my only source of peace in a world where peace is a byword used by those who promote war and murder and rape in the name of winning peace.  The peace that the Lord provides is more powerful than the most terrifying enemy.  Even the power of Death itself is swallowed up by the peace of God poured out to me through the means of God’s grace.

Yes, I must confess my own weakness and helplessness.  No matter how hard I try to be strong, I fall short of even simple and easy goals.  My patience falls short.  My love is faltering.  My faith is nonexistent.  But the Lord’s patience is without limit.  His love never fails.  The Faith that He gives truly commands the mountains of my sin and failure and unfaithfulness to throw themselves into the sea of His forgiveness and mercy and grace.

If my own sin cannot attain victory over me on account of His grace poured out to me through His ordained means, what cause do I have to fear on account of the smallness of my own strength?

This is why for me and my house compromise of the pure doctrine of God’s grace in Christ is not considered to be in any way acceptable.  How can we partake of a communion/church where such compromise is tolerated and even embraced?  No, our confidence is the Lord.  His Word, declared through His Scriptures, administered through His ordained means, this is our confidence, our everlasting and unfailing hope, our very life.  When we turn from these, even momentarily we do indeed become fearful.  But when in His grace the Lord calls us back again we do truly know and abide in the peace that surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Monday, June 09, 2014

Decepticon Invasion



Yesterday afternoon we received a phone call from a caller that was IDed as being from Atlanta, GA.



The caller asked for my wife by name, by her first name.

As is my custom, I asked who was calling.

The caller identified herself as Sandy, with a group name that I do not remember, and said that she was calling about the Pro-Life issue.

Her manner of speaking was unusual, not flowing with the normal flow that I expected.  Having read of robotic phone calls, I asked whether she was a real person.

She chuckled and said that she was a real person, and added that she has a slight speech impediment that might make her sound unreal, but that she was a real person.

This I knew was unreal and asked, “What is your name?”

She responded, saying, “Uh, huh,” with a pause of a second or two and then, “Sandy.”

After this the matter was confirmed and I ended the call.

I called back the number displayed on the caller ID, and the ear piercing tone sounded with the recorded announcement:  “The number you have reached is not in service.  This is a recording.”

So, now we not only have computers programmed to call us and harass us, but these robotic callers also have been programmed to respond with lies to our inquiries.  This has been occurring for some time, but now the lies are becoming more sophisticated.

I find this to be disturbing.

The phone company informed me that such is now possible using software that gives false phone numbers and ID’s.  This way the callers bypass attempts at blocking unidentified callers so that this safeguard does not protect a person from such callers.

Technology.  Uh huh.  As is often the case, what is touted as wonderful and liberating is frequently invasive and problematic.  Progress.  Technology.

I miss the simplicity of times past.  At least then the Decepticons were human and somewhat accountable.  Or at least so we thought.  More and more it is being revealed that deceivers have always hidden behind another form or a mask or a pseudo-identity.  It has been so from the very first deception by the father of lies.  I suppose it is foolish to imagine that anything under the sun has changed.

So what do we do?  Be aware and on guard for ourselves and for others.  Make the Decepticons known when it is possible.  Stand ready to help and comfort those who suffer from the deception and theft and other harm.  Proclaim the One who never lies, who is always faithful, who has provided the way through every trial and trouble even before we encounter them.  Sing the hymns of pure doctrine and everlasting hope and peace and joy.  Live in that hope and peace and joy.  Partake of the pure and unadulterated means of His grace.

It is good to know that the Lord is real, and that His voice and Word and doctrine are consonant, and that He has come as He promised and has given Himself for us, even unto the death of the cross, and has risen from the dead and ascended again to His heavenly throne and has sent His Spirit at Pentecost, all as He has promised repeatedly and consistently of old.  When He calls to us, it is always through the same means as He has ordained.  His proclamation has not changed.  His means continue unchanged.

With this before us, what does it matter if the Decepticons attempt their futile deceptive acts against us?  Ultimately what do we lose?  The kingdom is ours in Christ our Lord.  We are more than conquerors though the one having loved us.  We don’t even have to fight.  We don’t even have to strive to win.  The victory and the kingdom have been declared to be ours through the faith that also is given to us freely by the grace of God at work through His means.  What is really left but to abide in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding and to sigh the great and peaceful sigh of Amen?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Sudan: Death to Christians & Freedom






I have received several e-mails like the one posted below from the ACLJ:



Meriam Ibrahim faces death. Martin, her American toddler, is imprisoned and sick.

He could lose his mother and be turned over to the very radical Islamists who hung her.

A judge in Sudan ordered Meriam to renounce her Christian faith or die. She's refused, saying, "I will remain a Christian."

She's pregnant, and once her American baby is born, she'll be flogged and then executed.

Prayer and public pressure are Meriam and her American children's only hope.

Already over 200,000 have signed our petition for her freedom.

We're working directly at the U.N. and with Members of Congress to save her life.

This is a death penalty case. Your voice can make the difference, but time is of the essence. Tomorrow is the last day to sign before we send our letter to Sudan.



The ACLJ is petitioning Sudan concerning this matter.  To join in signing their petition go to Be Heard Project.

Fox News reports on this at Sudanese Christian shackled while awaiting death sentence, husband says.

MailOnline also reports at EXCLUSIVE: The REAL reason pregnant mother was sentenced to death in Sudan? Jealous family got her charged to STEAL her successful business claims her American husband's legal team.

Below are some videos telling more about this situaton:







If speaking out against this flogging and death sentence seems appropriate and desirable, the ACLJ offers the very simple and easy opportunity to sign their petition on-line at Be Heard Project.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

When a True Statement Is the Truth





This comedic captioned photograph from Indian Libertarians's Photos would be funny if it were not a true representation of the contrast between the views of these two men.

Both perspectives fall short of the truth, although the Dalai Lama’s does not fall nearly as short as the Obama’s.  Yet even the much fuller view of the Dalai Lama still falls short of the truth.  While the statements that he makes are true statements, they are not the truth.  The truth includes more.

Here is another example from the Dalai Lama:



Some other sources, such as Goodreads, attribute this similarly stated to Frank Zappa, “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.”

But to the statement itself, while it is a true statement, does it tell the truth?  The quote attributed to the Dalai Lama is less restrictive, saying “The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.” Yet if one examines even this statement it is found not to be the truth.  In fact, it is not really even a true statement, but because it states a portion of the truth it sounds like a true statement.

The Zappa quote is completely false, for if a closed mind did not work, he would have no one to criticize for thinking with a closed mind.

The less restrictive statement attributed to the Dalai Lama speaks a portion of the truth, but not the truth.

A mind that is open can receive information and outside stimulation.  However, an open mind is unable to focus and process the information that has been received.  Focus requires a narrowing of one’s thinking.  Processing of information requires closing one’s mind so as to begin analyzing what has been received.  Furthermore, a mind that is open to all views or opinions is unable to perceive the difference between opinion and fact.

The Truth is not proportional.  The truth is always whole.  No part of the truth can stand apart from the whole.  The truth is integral.  If it is divided into separate parts it ceases to be the truth.

Even the analogy is not the truth.  An open parachute does not work properly unless it is attached properly to the falling person or object.  An open parachute does not work properly in a vacuum.  An open parachute does not work for an object that is not falling.  An open parachute does not function if it is upside down.  An open parachute cannot be worn inside a cockpit or other close quarters, but must be carefully and meticulously folded so as to be worn and deployed at the appropriate time.

An open mind is not sufficiently focused to consider the facts but only applies vague or nebulous perceptions.  While a healthy and well functioning mind opens to receive information, facts, questions, and even opinions, it also must close to the narrow evaluation process of assessing and acknowledging the truth revealed by these received data.

This fallacy carries into the major tenet of the Dalai Lama in the promotion of Religious Harmony.  If one reads what he declares in this matter, actually hearing what he says, it becomes clear that harmony is not what he teaches.  What he really espouses is dissolution and ultimate neutralization.

He says: “We must distinguish between belief and respect. Belief refers to total faith, which you must have in your own religion. At the same time you should have respect for all other religions.”

What does this really mean?  It means choosing ignorance over knowledge.  It means reducing one’s religion to mere ritual and sentiment and tradition.

He says: “If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today's multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others.”

What does this mean?  He concludes: “Therefore, it is very important to live in harmony and analyse where the opinion of the other lies. The best way to do this is to engage in dialogue, dialogue and dialogue.”

The essence of this is to target and bomb the dissenting parties with ignorance. “Engage in dialogue, dialogue and dialogue” is a longhand version of saying “Agree to disagree.”  If a person steps back so as to close one’s mind to focus on what is really being said, this means to agree to believe nothing and to count nothing whatsoever as important.

So for the Dalai Lama peace means to drive discord out of existence by means of bombing the dissidents with nothingness and emptiness.  So where is the truth?  Where is common understanding ever actually pursued?  Is this anything but another deceptive tactic?

How does the Obama define obtaining peace?  He says peace is obtained by bombing with drones.  Of course control of the media, invading the privacy of citizens, and blatant deception and lies are also among his favorite tools.

Perhaps the two are closer in their views than one may first perceive.

Does it really matter?  It matters to those who believe that the truth really matters.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Surprised by Friendliness



A couple of weeks ago I went for my walk and was surprised by a very unusual display of friendliness.  Something happened that I have not encountered in at least fifteen years.  As I was walking, a police car approached on the same road, with two police officers: one was driving; the other, in the right front seat, seemed to be taking notes or examining something.  As they drew near I looked at them and made eye contact and the one on the passenger side waved to me.

Wow!  I have not encountered this in well over a decade!

In times past, I nearly always waved to the police.  I counted the police officers as public servants, as my friends who devoted their lives to me and the rest of the community, serving to help keep us all safe.  Twenty years ago I would not have thought it a wonderful surprise to have a police officer wave to me, especially not in response to my initial show of friendship and confidence.  But that was many years ago.

Since then I have stopped waving.  After about a decade of waving with no friendly response whatsoever from any of the officers to whom I waved, sometimes even encountering a scowl instead of the friendly smile and wave that I expected in return, I gave up waving.

In fact, I have actually become afraid of waving to them.  Whereas I previously looked to the police with trust, I now fear them.  I many times in the past ten years have called 911 to report people on the busy expressways who were in need of assistance.  Since such busy expressways are not appropriate places for a person without flashing lights and the authority to redirect traffic to attempt such things, I have called for those properly equipped.  But after a number of years of attempting to be of service as a good and caring citizen, I became aware that I was drawing attention to myself.  I was making myself known to those who track such things.

An example is when a fellow had an extension ladder fall off his truck and block portions of the expressway.  I wanted to stop and help clean it up, but knew that I would increase the danger by blocking the road with my vehicle and by adding another person to the scene.  So I called 911.  The response of the dispatcher made it clear that I was adding to the file that was being kept on me.

911 keeps track of every word.  911 asks for identification of the caller, and for the phone number, and many other bits of information that have nothing whatsoever to do with the incident.  It makes me cringe even to think of the number of times that I am listed as a person who involves himself in things.  Today this is a red flag.  In times past such people were counted as good citizens.

The fear of red flags kept on me does not keep me from caring and from becoming involved in helping others.  However, it does make me much more leery of the police and others who are keeping track of me.

So it was a delight when this police officer waved to me.

Yet it also left me wondering what this really means.

It is saddening to me to realize that our nation and society have become such that even an act of kindness or a show of friendliness, especially from someone working for the government, has come to be cause for suspicion.  It makes me sad to know that my perspective has been thus affected.  It makes me even more sad to acknowledge that such a change in perspective is largely justified.

Nevertheless, it is still a joy to report this instance of what at least I perceived as a kindly show of friendliness from one whom I have become conditioned not to expect to demonstrate such.  It was a joy to see this police officer wave to me.

And yes, I did wave in return.  I did so sheepishly and leerily, but also with a glimmer of hope.

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

2014 Resolutions



Happy New Year!  Happy 2014!

It seems funny that flipping a page on a calendar should be counted as a holiday.  I suppose that when people don’t recognize the holy, they have to find something mundane to celebrate.  So we have New Years Day.

Certainly the observance of God’s grace to us in preserving us and carrying us through the past year into a new year is a cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing and celebrating.  Certainly the changing of the calendar gives cause to pause in retrospect.

Thus people also commonly make New Years Resolutions.  They examine their activities of the passing year and determine or resolve to do some things differently.  They make resolutions and promises concerning their actions in the coming year.  Some of these they actually mean.  Some of these they actually strive to keep, at least for a week or two or three.

Soon, however, when we make resolutions to amend our lives we find ourselves unable to keep our promises.  We find that we are unable to effect true change.  We fall back into the same old errors again.  Sometimes we manage to demonstrate these failings in different ways.  Yet we still fall short of our good intentions.

Christians may fall into this trap even more so than others.  I find it somewhat odd that in teaching people concerning Confession and Absolution that people are asked to promise this impossible task.  In the Order of the Confessional Service on TLH pg. 46 ff., two formats are given, both of which call the person seeking absolution to state the intention or purpose of amending one’s sinful life by the assistance of the Holy Ghost.  Surely this is the format of a resolution.  The newer hymnals have similar statements.

Admittedly, seeing beyond this is difficult.  Certainly the preaching against sin is necessary.  Certainly the Law of God or Commandments are given to direct souls away from sin to the holiness of the Lord.

Yet in searching the Gospel accounts concerning the times that the Lord Jesus granted absolution to sinners, do we ever find Him calling for a resolution from the broken and contrite sinner?  I cannot recall a single instance of the Lord Jesus calling for a person to resolve to do better before granting the blessed words of peace and comfort, “Your sins are forgiven you.”  He does give the warning afterward that they are to go onward without adding to their sins.  But He never evokes a resolution from anyone to whom He grants remission of their sins.

We do have an example, however, where He denies this making of resolutions as justifying.  When He tells of the publican and the Pharisee, He says that the publican made no such resolution, but merely confessed his sinfulness and need for God’s mercy.  This one, Jesus says, went home justified.  The other man, the Pharisee, stated all of the ways that he had resolved to try to please God.  The Pharisee listed his resolutions quite sincerely.  Yet this one, Jesus says, did not go home justified.

What does this mean?  What is the Lord Jesus teaching us with this example?  He is teaching us that we should never look to our own works for our justification.  He is teaching us that our resolutions, no matter how noble and no matter how sincere, will always fall short.  In fact, our resolutions only lead us into more sins that we need to have remitted.  If we make resolutions that we fail to keep, then not only have we sinned, but we also have failed to keep our word.

This is why the Lord has established for us His Church on earth.  Within His Church He has ordained specific means through which He works to restore us to His Holy Communion.  It is to these means of grace and remission and salvation and reconciliation and healing that He directs us to be turned.  This is the repentance to which He calls us.  He calls us to be turned from all of our own efforts, from all of our best intentions, from all of our resolutions, to receive the means through which His Word works all things for us.  His Word and Sacraments are the means through which He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  He works regeneration unto true faith through Baptism, as He washes us with His Word with the water.  In this washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit He applies the blood of the Word/Lamb to us by which we are cleansed.  In this connection we are joined into His everlasting Communion, wherein we partake of His body and blood given and shed for us, to renew us in His Communion as our sins are remitted and taken away.  As we hear His call to be gathered into His name to receive these things, we bow the knee and confess our need for His mercy, which He graciously bestows to us as the words of absolution are spoken over us.  Then we rise up to eat and drink at His Table of renewal and forgiveness, going forth in the confidence of the good conscience into which we have been restored.

God does not call us to resolve to be obedient or to amend our lives.  He calls us to walk in the Life that is in Him in His Holy Communion.  The obedience of faith is not a choice.  It is the fullness of living in communion with God in His kingdom.  Obedience flows from the faith that the Lord works in us.  Obedience flows from the trust that is generated within us concerning all that the Lord declares.  When we receive His absolution and partake of His Communion, we recognize His will as that which is desirable and good.  We recognize the fullness of the good life to which we have been restored so that we begin to walk in this newness of life or renewed life.

This is the difference of living by faith and living by works.  Living by faith is the life that flows from the ordained means of grace.  Living by works is the struggle to resolve to do better than we can hope to do for ourselves.  Through His Word and Sacraments, His means of grace to us, we receive God’s goodness into our very being so that we are sanctified to live in the grace that flows to us freely by His decree.

Surely this is better than making resolutions that we know that we cannot hope to keep.  Surely the way of grace, mercy, and peace is far better and desirable.

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The Beauty of Creation



With the new year comes new outpouring of landscaping magazines and advertisements.  One of the advertising and propaganda magazines that has found me and continues to bombard me is Total Landscape Care.  It is basically a mechanism for advertising with a few articles interspersed between the advertisements.  This bothers me much less now that they stopped trying to trick me into paying for this uninvited mailing.

With 2004 upon us, they have begun pushing advertisements for chemical sales for landscape and turf management.  The magazine is available online, so I will post the links to the most recent publications that I received.

Of the two, the one that I find most disturbing is their 2014 Chemical Guide.




Clicking on the link will take you to their publication of page upon page of commercial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.  All of these are being sprayed daily on the lawns in our communities by the plethora of spray companies with their spray trucks rolling down the streets of every neighborhood.

Glancing through this publication may be an eye-opening experience for many who are not involved in agricultural and urban management vocations.  There are very serious amounts of toxic chemicals being sprayed throughout the year.

I am an agriculturalist.  I have been involved in agriculture and agricultural studies all of my life.  I was in the Future Farmers of America for six years in Jr. and Sr. Highschool.  I studied agriculture throughout those years.  My undergraduate degree is Animal Science/Pre-veterinary medicine.  Thus I have a deep appreciation for the agricultural vocations and sciences.

I understand that commercial chemicals sometimes are necessary and helpful.  However, I also know that they are very dangerous, both in the short term as well as the long term.

In my daily work as an arborist, I work outdoors.  I often smell these toxins in the air in the neighborhoods where I am working.  Sometimes they actually make me feel dizzy or even faint.  Sometimes they cause me to develop a headache.  Very rarely I have felt nauseated.

These spray companies put little signs in the yards afterward warning people not to allow their pets and children onto the lawns for a period of time.  The law limits them from spraying whenever wind conditions cause aerial drift of the chemicals being applied, but in places like Kansas, this would restrict their spray activities almost entirely.  So the spraying goes on regardless of the weather and the drift.

The second of the TLC publications for the new year includes an article on “Debugging Grub Control.”  Here is the magazine link, and here is the link to just the article, Debugging Grub Control.

It includes this photograph of one of the types of grubs that people believe that they need to control in their lawns.



These creatures certainly can be problematic.  They can do great destruction both in people’s lawns and in agricultural settings.

The question that I am asking, is whether people are acting wisely in utilizing these powerful synthetic chemicals, especially in their lawns and landscapes.  Would it not be wiser to consider landscape planning that utilizes grasses and plants that are known to be resistant to the concerns that are being treated with chemical applications?

One article that addresses this is Ask Mr. Smarty Plants.  In the first paragraph of the answer given is this portion of advice:



The City of Austin's Grow Green Earth-wise Guide to Lawn Problems lists St. Augustine, bermuda, zoysia and buffalograss as being susceptible to grubs.  Their recommendations for controlling them includes mowing high and doing effective watering.  They recommend a non-chemical method for getting rid of them by applying nematodes to feed on the grubs.  You can read an article from Texas A & M AgriLife Extension "White Grubs in Texas Turf Grass" that gives more information on controlling them without the use of pesticides including the use of nematodes and the use of spiked shoes for aerating the soil.  Both methods have claims of eliminating as much as 50% of the grubs.



Here in Wichita I met a fellow who applies organic means of insect, disease, and weed control.  His prices are slightly higher, but comparable to the companies using commercial pesticides.

It seems to me that people would do well to consider what they are doing to their own families’ playgrounds, a.k.a., their lawns.  The chemicals used within their homes also ought to be of concern to them.  After all, what is used in the laundry resides in their clothing and linens, items worn day and night and in which they wrap themselves as they sleep.  So-called air fresheners fill their homes with particulates that are constantly breathed and absorbed through the skin.  Once a person begins taking an inventory of these items, the list often is found to be immense.

Is it a coincidence that people are experiencing more and more allergies and respiratory ailments?  Is it a coincidence that people use more and more relief items from the drug store?

It seems worthy of consideration.

I am not advocating government intervention in these matters.  Keep the government in its place, out of our lives as much as possible.  Surely people are capable of evaluating these issues intelligently and responsibly so as to make healthy, wholesome, and responsible decisions for themselves and their families.

God has given us His beautiful creation for us to enjoy.  Even with the curse of sin looming over us, He still blesses us with wonders beyond description.  Many wonders have not yet even been discovered.  Surely it makes sense to work in concord with God’s creation rather than against it.  In our daily lives we take much for granted, or at least we should.  This is actually what the Lord desires, that we should receive all things as His gifts that flow from His heart of grace.  Thanksgiving begins with taking things for granted, i.e., things granted to us by our gracious heavenly Father.  This is the way that is truly meet, right, and salutary.  This is the way of healthy and happy living.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

You Need to Stop Reading So Much



“You Need to Stop Reading So Much!”  This admonition was given to me by one of my customers and friends.  He cautioned me against being too informed about the things that are being done in the government and the world.  He said that I cannot do anything about them, as people are not paying attention.  When I responded that this is the problem, he told me that I cannot change this and that I only cause myself trouble by reading so much.

As a Christian I do find his words to be accurate.  I am deeply troubled on account of my concern for what ought to be, things that I cannot cause to be.  After all, I cannot even make these things to be in my own daily life.  Why should I imagine that I can make these things to be in the activities of the world.

As a Christian I continually face the paradoxical existence of both Saint and Sinner within my being.  Thus, as a saint I desire the Lord’s righteousness.  But as a sinner, I resist Him and His will and His ways and turn from trusting Him to seeking to do for Him what only He can do.

Yet as a saint, I do also have an inborn caring and concern for the welfare of all.  Tyranny and terrorism and war and murder and abortion and child abuse and divorce and spouse abuse and GMOs and processed glutamates and processed aspartic acid and a host of other toxins added to foods and water as well as limitless evils in the world, these all concern me.  I often want to speak out concerning these.

Yet how far can such efforts reach?  Moreover, to what degree do such concerns fall to me?

The Lord does give directives in this regard.  He directs each of us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and to trust that all other things He will see to as well.

Then He also directs each of us to fulfill the duties or responsibilities of our own vocations.  Sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, pastors and teachers, farmers and ranchers, employers and employees, citizens and officials, we each have vocations that bind us to specific responsibilities that are easily perceived.  Of these vocations, some are to be counted as foremost, with others being subordinated to these.

For example, fatherhood is above citizen or even pastor or government official.  Mother is above teacher or employee or employer.  Daughter is above student or student body president.

It seems that Christians frequently forget the proper order and turn things around.  I certainly do.  Sadly, I believe that my blog posts often are a reflection of this.  My daily management of my time reflects this.  How I serve my wife as her husband surely reflects this.

God has blessed me to be a husband.  This is my primary vocation.  I also am a son and a brother.  I also am a son-in-law and brother-in-law.  I also am a friend.  I also am a pastor.  I also am a businessman/arborist.  Husband and head of house both bodily and spiritually is the highest earthly honor and responsibility that God has given me.

It is a great blessing and I will do well to remember this and treat it with the appropriate honor.  Then the blessings attached to all things in my life will be received as the Lord has graciously ordained and godly contentment will rule my life.  God grant this.  Amen.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

We WILL Take It All - Eventually




In case this information has escaped notice, the IMF has declared that it wants governments, especially the USA’s, to begin taxing at a rate of 71%.

IMF Calls For US Income Taxes as High as 71 Percent

IMF Wants a 71 Percent Tax Rate


IMF is the initialism for the International Monetary Fund.


Hollywood took this and used it in the Mission Impossible TV series and then the Movie series.  In this story line IMF stands for Impossible Mission Force, where the special mission team performs covert missions on behalf of the shadow rulers of the world.  Their missions are impossible in nature and yet they heroically complete the missions, with the common folk never knowing.


Would the common folk accept this impossible imposition of taxation without the many years of covert activity of the IMF?  Did the common folk elect the IMF to control the world's monetary instruments?  Do the decisions of the IMF ever require approval from the common people?


What is the effect of such taxation?  Even if this exorbitant tax rate is imposed only upon business owners and the so-called wealthy, does this not cause even more inflation of prices of common goods and services?  If so, who then really bears the brunt of these taxes?  Is it not the common laborer who already struggles to purchase goods and services at the already unaffordable prices?

. . .

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Look - Hideous City Council Farce


In the embedded video in the previous post, nearing the latter part, questions from reporters were allowed.  The second question and especially the answer given should be heard over and over.  Here is that snippet.




While it seems unlikely that the Councilwoman meant for this statement to reveal the actual mentality of the Council, sometimes things just come out from the heart without restraint.

Perhaps repeating the snippet five times was overdoing it a bit.  However, it does demonstrate how annoying and disheartening it is to hear this from them ad nauseam.  We hear this in their speeches, in their actions, and in the bills and taxes.


. . .


Another Hideous City Council Farce



In our latest bill from the City of Wichita for our water usage is this flyer: H2O-flyer-PDF

Front view:


 Back view:



Here is the City of Wichita video presenting the deep compassion of this new program:





At 1:28 in this video the presenter says:

   
It is so important to me, especially after the last water bill raise.



In the opening portion of the video she says:

This month, the City of Wichita City Council approved a new program, known as the Help2Others, H2O, Care Fund.  It provides a way for people to make donations, so that others in our community can keep their water on. As you know, this has been an ongoing problem for the last year or two.



Over the last few years I have called to complain about the outrageous increases.  With each increase was another excuse.

The last time that I called can you guess the answer that I was given?

I was told that the City is punishing us for using water.

This is UN Agenda 21 being implemented without actually acknowledging it.

Yes, this has been an ongoing problem.  With one of the rate hikes we were told that it was because we had not used enough water.

Yes, the City claimed that it could not meet the Water Department’s budget because people had conserved too efficiently.  So the City raised the rates to steal more money from us.  If less water is used, so also less cost is demanded of the corporation called “The City of Wichita.”  But they are seeking to make money, not merely to meet budgets.

Now they are spending money on a program and its propaganda, to urge citizens to give compassionately for the poor people whom the City Council has broken financially.

Surely we should be deeply moved by the compassionate approval of this program.

What fools we are.  We have allowed them to raise our rates endlessly, with truly asinine excuses that change with the wind.

What has happened to all of the increased revenue?  Where has it gone?  Why do the City Council members not simply use these excess funds to help those whom they have broken?

Why do the people of Wichita continue to allow such frauds to hold office and to abuse the populace?

. . .

Perhaps the more pertinent question is “Why do I continue to imagine that attempting to call people to be aware with the hope of action on their part is a worthwhile venture?”

Twice we voted down the building of an undersized arena in the downtown area.  Twice they put it on the ballot and we said “NO!”  Then they told us that they were building it anyway and that they would make us pay for it, putting on the ballot two choices as to how we would allow them to steal our money.  Our sales tax rate was increased as a result.

They continue such abuses and they continue in office.

They raise our water usage rates because we don’t use enough water.  They raise our rates because we use too much water.  They raise our rates because the rates are too low.  They raise our rates without justification several times.  They raise our rates to help pay to pump river water into the aquifer.  They raise our rates because they want to raise our rates.

Now they want us to raise our rates voluntarily!

The truly disheartening reality is that people will do it.

Even more disheartening is the realization that people will believe that this money will be used to help others.

How soon after this will the next non-voluntary water rate increase be implemented?

. . .