Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I was taught the proper use and care of firearms from an early age. I have hunted about as long as I can remember. In fact, some of my earliest memories are of hunting with my Dad or my Grandfather (my Mother's father) or, hunting in the pasture in the company of my dog, a Beagle-Bassett cross named Daisy. Dad wouldn't let me go without the dog because he knew she would discover any rattlesnakes before I did.
Although I was able to carry a gun and hunt, I was not allowed to own one until I turned twelve. So, you know what I asked for on the Christmas just before I turned twelve -- a shotgun.
We had travelled to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to have Christmas with my Grandmother ( my Dad's Mother) that year. Her house wasn't very big and my Dad's family was large so there were lots of us crowded into the tiny living room for opening presents. I had decided that I probably wasn't going to get my wish but sure enough, from behind the door, my Dad brought out a brand new single-shot 20-gauge shotgun for me. I couldn't believe it.
I suffered for the next couple of days because I wanted desperately to go out and try my new shotgun but my Grandmother lived in town and there was no place to go hunting. Fortunately, we were travelling on to Missouri to visit my Mother's grandparents and some other relatives as well. They lived in the country at a place called "Swamp Holler." It was just below "Jake's Knob."
Shortly after we arrived in Missouri to stay with one of my Aunts, it began to snow. It snowed and snowed. All of us kids sat in the house staring out the windows wanting to go out but it was snowing too heavily. Finally it quit and we all went out in the country to Swamp Holler. It was my first clear memory of going to my Great Grandparents house. We weren't able to go there very frequently and so I had been very young the previous trips.
Dad let me take the shotgun with me. I didn't realize it, but he and my Grandfather had a hunt planned.
The hunt began shortly after we arrived at my Great Grandparent's. My Dad, my Grandfather and I headed down into the "holler" to shoot squirrels. They were each carrying a .22 and I was carrying my brand-new shotgun. We were planning on having squirrel for supper. I'd never eaten squirrel and was a little unsure that it was something I wanted to do. But, since the rule was that if you shoot it you eat it, I planned on having squirrel for the first time.
The snow was 10 or 12 inches deep as we traipsed through the fields and the woods. I learned why the place was named Swamp Holler when my boots broke through the crusted snow and I found myself standing in the swamp bordering the creek which crossed the farm. I was in heaven walking through the woods of Missouri with my brand-new 20 gauge shotgun looking for squirrels. After awhile I began to wonder if we were ever going to see any squirrels. In fact, I was getting a crick in my neck from looking up into all of the trees in an effort to spot the elusive fur-balls. I think they must have had better eyesight than me because I don't recall ever seeing a single one.
Since the squirrels seemed to have left that part of the world, my Grandfather decided we might jump a rabbit if we would head toward my Great-uncle's place which adjoined. He had some corn stubble that he felt sure would contain a conttontail or two. Sure enough we jumped a rabbit. I was excited that we finally saw game and brought the shotgun to my shoulder and let fly a blast of No. 7 shot that should have dispatched my target. The only trouble was that it kept on going. I just stood there in disappointment that my perfect aim had somehow missed and was beginning to doubt the quality of my new Christmas present.
My Grandfather saw me standing there and said, "Reload, he'll circle around and be back by in a minute. Cottontails run in a circle."
I quickly took his advice and chambered another shell and strained to see where the cottontail might be. Sure enough, I could see him bounding over the drifts and fallen corn stalks making a wide circle that looked like it might lead back my way. Dad kept saying, "Hold on, don't shoot until he gets back in range."
I held my fire and watched until I couldn't wait any longer. BOOM! I let fly again and sure enough, that rabbit went somersaulting through the snow and lay in a heap. Grinning ear-to-ear I ran to pick him up. I had bagged my first game with my brand new shotgun.
We called it a day after that. It seems the only purpose of the hunt was to give me the chance to try out my new shotgun. We headed up the hill to my Great Uncle Bill's house where Aunt Lizzie was cooking biscuits in their wood-fired cookstove. They still had a pitcher pump in the sink in the corner of the kitchen as well.
The year was 1970. It was a year I'll never forget. That rabbit tasted pretty good but I still haven't eaten any squirrel. Family and memories -- important parts of Christmas. We must never forget however, what it is really all about.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." __ Luke 2:10-12 (NIV)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The carbon cycle is relatively simple to describe although its actions are complex. Living things are carbon-based. This includes plants and animals. Plants take carbon-dioxide out of the atmosphere, trap the carbon into their tissue in the form of various molecules such as sugars and then release Oxygen. Animals eat plants (or other animals) and through the process of digestion, break down the complex molecules (such as sugars) from the plant material and utilize the released energy to fuel their existence. In the process of digestion, some of the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as various gases and carbon dioxide is released through respiration. This process cycles the carbon in a somewhat continuous loop. Plants also release carbon when they die. The process of decomposition releases carbon into the atmosphere.
This carbon cycle has continued since the beginning of life on this planet. At one time in pre-history, there was significantly more carbon floating around in the atmosphere which fueled riotous growth of plants. Many of those plants were then trapped in sediment and over time changed to oil, gas and coal or were bound into limestone and other sedimentary rocks.
Until we began releasing the carbon that was “sequestered” in the form of oil, gas and coal, carbon wasn’t a problem. It was cycled through plants and animals just as it is today. It was this release from the utilization of fossil fuels of huge amounts of carbon back into the carbon cycle that created what some scientists today are claiming to be a cataclysmic problem for life on earth. In other words – it isn’t the cattle that are causing “climate change,” it is the burning of fossil fuels that released huge amounts of trapped carbon into the atmosphere that is causing the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
So, why do our government and the governments of other nations throughout the world think the solution lies in regulating gas produced by cattle? Here is one possibility – it is part of the plan to control the world food supply. In the U.S. most crops are subsidized through various support payments. Livestock production is not. Placing regulations on the livestock producers under the guise of controlling greenhouse gas emissions makes sense only in the context of attempting to gain control of one of the few lightly regulated industries left.
It fits into what could be construed as a plan to force a one-world government. The way I see it, if one wanted to control the world you would begin with a series of induced crises. The crises would be designed to gain control of some key things – banking, energy and food. Hmmmm…..we recently saw manipulation of the first two of these items. That leaves food. I wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes in Copenhagen……
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Along with the rodeo, the event features a Cowboy Trade and Trappings Show as well as a Ranch Equipment Expo. For those who have ranching backgrounds but may have moved away from the lifestyle, the event provides a wonderful opportunity to touch base with the ranching heritage and the cowboy lifestyle. For the uninitiated, it may seem anachronistic, but it truly is a continuing way of life that helps to bring quality food to the table while living in a manner that is very much in harmony with the land.
Ranchers are among the leading conservationists. The wildlife and ecosystems of the land for which they view themselves as caretakers, would not have been conserved for our generation, let alone future generations, if not for their efforts.
If you happen to be in Amarillo this weekend, stop by for a glimpse into the cowboy lifestyle.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I suspect that adrenaline rush is part of the self-preservation mechanisms designed into our bodies. It gives us that extra surge of energy to escape an attacking lion or an enemy. In today's society however, movies, etc., which seek to give us that adrenaline surge, are built around themes of evil. Therefore, I think it an appropriate time to ask some questions.
What is evil?
Is man basically evil or basically good?
If, like many, you believe that man is basically good, from where did evil come?
Please feel free to submit answers to the questions in the comments.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
We have started "The Truth Project." It is a video series produced by Focus On The Family that delves into the Christian Worldview vs. the Secular Worldview. It is an absolute must for all Christians who desire to live at a higher level in this world. It is a great tool for opening eyes to the lies that surround us. You can find out more about it at www.thetruthproject.org.
Cold-and-flu season is in full swing. I am fighting a cold. It makes it difficult to stay focused on the things that I need to accomplish. This too shall pass.
Enough of this -- I'd better get back to work.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I am totally depressed over the political landscape right now. I see nothing good happening in Washington. I refuse to join the rant over all the things wrong and I don't have the time to write a truly reasoned dissertation on the many ways in which our government has overstepped its bounds and moved dramatically toward despotism.
My work has required a level of intensity for the last several months that has left little energy for pursuing other interests. We are in an expansion mode. Yes, through the economic storm and the politically motivated attacks on my chosen industry, we have grown. Of course, most people don't realize that it takes twice as much effort to obtain the same amount of business in a downturn as it does when times are good. So, growth means about three times the effort. But, I consider it good.
I think that through the last year of political and economic turmoil my spiritual growth has been evident -- at least to me. Of course, the big event was the trip to Africa. Such a trip would be a turning point in anyone's life I would hope. It has become very evident to me that God works in the lives of those who are faithful to Him -- those who seek His will. That doesn't mean that we perfectly follow His will -- it means that our focus is constantly turned toward, or is seeking Him. The pursuit of worldly things becomes secondary -- a subplot if you will -- to the pursuit of God. Our fleshly nature continually tries to assert itself in our daily lives, but we are reminded that such things are not pleasing to Him and we seek to subjugate such desires to His will. We become aware of just how "messy" the Christian life can be. We fail. We get up and try again. We cry out to God for strength. We fail some more.
In fact, that's a subject worthy of expansion -- the "messiness" of Christianity. The world expects Christians to live exemplary lives. Not all of us do so. In fact, none of us do in spite of our public face. War is messy and that's what the life of a Christian becomes -- a war. It is war at the Spiritual level. It is a war between the "systems" of the world and our desire to live according to God's will -- which is completely outside any earthly system. It is a war between our fleshly nature -- that is, the desires of our "natural" self -- and our desire to live as God would have us to live -- that is, subjugating our fleshly desires to His will. And it is a war between the very source of evil -- Satan, the Devil, or whatever you choose to call him -- and our desire once again to live a life pleasing to God. So, the Christian fights a battle on three fronts -- 1) the "systems" of this world, 2) our "natural" self, and 3) the Evil One who desires our allegiance in opposition to God the Creator. It's no wonder so many fail and it's no wonder so many choose the ways of this world. To follow the ways of the world is easier.
However, there is one thing we must remember. Jesus the Christ has already won the war. By faith in Him alone are we saved. We must always remember that it is not our efforts that are rewarded by Salvation -- it is our trust in the Saving Grace offered by Jesus Christ that we receive mercy as our reward rather than what we truly deserve based on our pitiful efforts.
OK. Now what?
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to share about the trip to Africa with my Sunday School class. I began by telling them, "Go! Just go. If you ever get the chance to go on a mission trip anywhere, go!" I ended the same way. "Go!" That is what Jesus called us to do in Matthew 28. "Go!"
And now, I must go. May you go in peace and may the God of Peace touch your life with His love. I will try to do better with my posting -- no promises though.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
It is one of the hottest countries on earth. It is also one of the poorest.
The male life expectancy is 51.39 years. Female is 53.85 years.
Infant mortality is 116.66/1,000. 5th worst in the world.
CIA ranks risk of major diseases as very high.
The country has a 28.7% literacy rate.
The country is currently in a political crisis. The President, Mamadou Tanja, is seeking to extend his term as President. He is limited by the constitution, but recently fired all cabinet and elected officials and called a Constitutional Convention to change the constitution to allow additional terms in office. The people seem to support him in this. The Convention has until August 4th to come up with a new Constitution.
The country is one of the poorest in the world.
It is being slowly invaded by China who has its eye on the uranium deposits -- some of the largest in the world.
When I flew into the country a few weeks ago, I would estimate there were at least 30 Chinese mining engineers on the flight with me. Locals told me that such events were commonplace.
I saw Chinese made tractors in the hands of at least one regional governor. Hmmmm.
The U.S. had better step up quickly or the Chinese will control the minerals of this poor and desperate country.
What better way for a political leader seeking to extend his power than to provide gifts to the poor of his country -- gifts that cost him nothing (tractors) yet are signs of an attempt to influence the bidding of contracts for the few resources the country has that have significant value on the world market.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
It only scratched the surface.
I have almost 600 photos on my camera....
I rarely had it with me.
I felt at home there....
I have often felt like a stranger in a strange land here.
Church there is fresh and alive and lasts for hours....
I've been struggling with church here.
Fresh, clean water is a luxury there....
I took a long, hot, indulgent shower here.
Community is everything there....
I don't even know all of my neighbors here.
Obtaining the next meal is the daily focus there....
I threw away half my fries from my Big Mac meal at lunch.
Signs of sickness and disease were on every happy face there....
We gripe and complain about the cost of health care here.
It took an hour to baptize 5 new believers there....
We rush through a meaningless? baptism in minutes.
Yesterday, I was on another continent -- it might have been another world....
Today, I fell into my ruts as though I had never left.
Help me, Father! This can't be right.
(More to come.)
Monday, July 6, 2009
There is a group of us. I'm the old man in the bunch. It is mostly college students.
We will be traveling to a country in West Africa where the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has a mission. The trip is in support of that mission effort to reach a people group that is among the poorest in the world and in a country that is also one of the poorest in the world.
Where we will be traveling is located in the zone between the Sahara desert and the tropics. It is an area referred to as the Sahel. The expected temperature upon arrival in the capital city is 100 with a 100% chance of rain. The heat index will be 107.
It is not a vacation, however, we do get to spend about 1 1/2 days in London on the way there. A little sightseeing is planned.
I hope to be able to post an account of the trip on my return. All will be quiet on the blog until after the 21st.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
That oppression arose from our dependency on Great Britain. The original colonists needed the support of the mother country for survival. In return, the king required taxes. Those taxes paid for wars that caused a mounting debt. The response of the king was to increase taxes to finance his aggressive policies that sought to consolidate his power.
The people sought relief from the burden but were ignored. They sought representation of their views but were rejected. Over time, their dependency allowed the king to increase taxes to the point they could no longer be borne by the people and they rebelled.
Through the blood of committed individuals that Independence was accomplished over the course of 40+ years when we finally severed the control of Great Britain in the War of 1812. Yet, it didn't end there. We remained a nation seeking to find its way. We continued to seek a balance of power in how we were governed which culminated in a Civil War that consolidated power in the federal government. It was a result that led to better relations between the various races which comprise our people, but eroded the power of the people by consolidating it in the hands of the federal government.
We have survived global wars in which the United States came to the aid of nations whose values resembled our own. We have gone wherever necessary to combat the tendency of man to consolidate power through aggression. Yet we have allowed special interests to consolidate power within our own borders.
We have struggled with our own identity. We are a nation of many varied yet closely held beliefs. We have faced many issues that arise from the human frailties of self-interest and fear. We have made great strides in creating an environment of equality of opportunity for all. Yet we have allowed those same frailties of self-interest and fear to be used against us by the very politicians we elected to serve us.
We continue to struggle. Today we face some of the greatest challenges that we have ever faced as a nation. Many of those challenges are the result of the quest for power of individuals and groups who have only their self-interest at heart. They seek power for gain and not in service for the good of the nation and its people. They bully and intimidate through the power of the purse.
That such individuals and groups hold the reins of power is the fault of the people. Enough of us have allowed ourselves to be subjugated to the carefully orchestrated largess of the state and federal powers that our Independence has been lost. That subjugation has resulted in efforts to further consolidate power through expanding government services in ways that create further dependency. We see today an aggressive expansion and consolidation of power through the use of regulation and welfare (although not always by that name). We have become a nation controlled by dependency. Therein lies our downfall.
Our dependency on the government has created a situation of mounting debt that must be repaid. It is the tendency in such times to use taxation to repay the debt. The burden of government has become oppressive. We are facing a crisis in our nation that in many ways resembles the conditions prior to the War for Independence. It is time once again for our government to become both responsive to and responsible to the people.
(Also posted at Panhandle's Perspective)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Now, a difficult question comes to mind. If each individual fails to perform his part, is the symphony ruined? In the case of a choir or orchestra the result is often less than satisfying -- perhaps incomplete would be a better description. In the case of the church does the same hold true?
I ask the question because God, being all-powerful, really has no need for us to fill all of the parts because He can supply anything that is missing and turn imperfection into perfection. But, does He? Or, does He choose to allow imperfection in order for those who are doing their part to grow by reaching out to those who are failing in their own?
When we hear a symphony or other type of musical performance we form a judgment. We either like/enjoy it, or we do not. Often our enjoyment is a function of our own attitude upon listening. However, there are times that we can come with low expectations and be lifted above our "mood" and into the realm of ecstasy. This typically occurs when a performance is executed virtually flawlessly -- technically, artistically, "energetically" and intellectually. It appeals to our sense of perfection, it pleases us aesthetically, it energizes us and it exercises our intellect.
One of the keys is that the parts are blended together in a balance that pleases our senses. If any part is not in balance with all of the others it distracts from the overall perfection of the piece. It distorts the performance.
In my post yesterday about "Energy and Music" I referred to our Praise Team in a manner that was less-than praiseworthy. I focused on the issue of energy. Perhaps part of the "draining" effect is due to a lack of balance. If each part is not performed in a manner that blends with the other parts, could that be the source of the draining effect?
Now, a critical question. Is it due to leadership style, lack of technical expertise, failure to follow, or some other factor? I don't see technical expertise as the issue. The level of talent in our Praise Team is exceptional. Leadership style could be a factor because there seems to be an unwillingness to confront the issue of individualism. It should be a corporate performance -- not a simultaneous set of individual performances. Ego comes into play. With the abundance of talent, it seems there is a universal attitude of "I'm the best so I need to really get-out-front on the music." That brings us to the issue of "failure to follow."
As I read the Gospel and focus on the ultimate message of Jesus I find that in a large sense it can be wrapped up in the statement -- it's all about denying self and glorifying God. Matthew 22:36-39 sums it up.
If we do this -- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...and love your neighbor as yourself." -- we solve the issue of "failure to follow." Because we then realize that each of us must do our part and not "run over" others who are seeking to perform their part. We blend into the symphony rather than distract from it.
I don't know -- maybe my rambling is a bit of a stretch. I just know that it could be better. To get better one must first identify the problem.
If you ask someone on the Praise Team they are likely to say that it is a lack of participation on the part of the audience/congregation/worshippers. Could it be that they are merely a reflection of what is going on up front?
Much prayer is needed.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I like many kinds of music. It often depends upon my mood.
I also enjoy silence, or the "music" of nature. Yesterday, I ate lunch at the park. The birds sang continuously.
I'm not one that must listen to music constantly. I don't go around with an iPod and headphones. Nor do I constantly play CD's or the radio as I drive -- and I drive a lot.
I am very particular about music. I like for it to be well executed. However, in a live performance, I do not expect perfection -- which brings me to the reason that I am creating this post.
Music in church.
There are two basic styles of worship music. There is Choral and there is Praise and Worship. I enjoy both when executed well. Therein is the issue.
What does it mean for music to be well-executed in a live performance? To me it is a combination of factors but the underlying strength of the performance resides in "heart." If the performer doesn't put their heart into the music it will lack energy -- even if executed flawlessly.
Our church choir generally puts a lot of heart into its performance -- especially the choir special or a special performance. There is a wide variety of levels of talent within the choir -- from exceptionally gifted to "nothing but heart." The thing that sets the choir apart however, is heart. Each of the individuals come together in a common concert of worship as they pour their hearts into the music -- not the performance. With rare exception, the performances generate energy. It is the result of each one pouring his heart into the musical offering. It is the product of the emotion.
Our Praise Team on the other hand is blessed with very gifted musicians. Each one does an exceptional job of executing the music. Therein lies a problem. When each of these gifted musicians performs on the "team" they are performing individually and concurrently. A couple of them put a measure of "heart" into their performance but they often are each "performing" individually and not pouring their heart into a worship experience. The result is often one in which it feels as though energy is being "sucked" out of the congregation. It becomes a draining experience rather than one in which we are energized.
Now I must clarify somewhat. The musicians playing instruments come together as a Team. The problem lies in the vocals. They each perform wonderfully -- but NOT as a Team. They are performing as individuals.
If any of those individuals should read this, I pray that it will be accepted not as a criticism of their skills, talents or performance. It is an offering from my heart of a desire for them to experience the power of worship as a team -- the power of worship as the body of Christ. When that happens in corporate worship the result is an amazing, energizing experience.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Indian Blanket or Firewheel, is probably my favorite wildflower. Its scientific name is Gaillardia pulchella and it is native to the central U.S.
The photo above was taken near the Canadian River in the eastern part of the Texas Panhandle. We are just coming to the end of its season. It is a great time to gather seeds in order to establish new colonies of them.
According to The Tulsa World, the following is the legend of the Indian Blanket.
"There once lived an old Indian blanket maker," he said, "whose talent for weaving gorgeous blankets was greatly admired among Great Plains Indians. Indians would travel many miles to trade for one of his colorful blankets richly woven in patterns of red and yellow.
"When the old blanket maker realized that his time was short, he began weaving his own burial blanket. When he died his family lovingly wrapped him in the blanket, which was his gift to the Great Spirit.
"The Great Spirit was pleased with the gift, but saddened that only those in the Happy Hunting Grounds would be able to appreciate the blanket maker's colorful creation. He decided, therefore, to give the beautiful gift back to those that the old Indian had left behind.
"The following spring gorgeous wildflowers bearing the same colors and design as the old Indian's blanket appeared in profusion over the blanket maker's grave.
The lovely flowers (Blanket Flowers) quickly spread across the plains for all to enjoy."
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This morning our pastor used rain in an illustration. I wish that I had made notes because now I struggle to remember it. I do recall that if a rancher receives a 1 inch rainfall on a section of land (1 square mile or 640 acres), he would receive a total of about 17,378,560 gallons of water. If you owned a home on 1 acre of land, 1 inch of rain would equal about 27,154 gallons of water.
Now, I don't know about you, but I know that my water bill each month -- especially in the summer -- can be significant. I am fortunate that I live in the country and have well water which basically costs the electricity to pump it and the amortized investment in the well and pump along with the average annual repair bill. It is still less than the cost of city water.
I live in an area with about 18 inches of average annual rainfall. I have 4 acres of land. That calculates to 1,955,088 gallons of water that I receive each year on my small acreage. I live approximately 550 miles from the Gulf of Mexico -- the nearest ocean. Our rainfall is typically a function of moisture from the Gulf meeting a cold front coming in from the north.
The average cost of tap water in the U.S. is approximately $1.50/1000 gallons. My expected annual rainfall of 1,955,088 gallons of water would cost me around $2,932 if delivered from my tap at the U.S. average cost. If you considered the fact that the water likely came from the Gulf of Mexico and was purified along the way, you would need to add the cost of a filtration system, a desalinization plant and transportation costs. I won't begin to guess what all of that would cost. The transportation alone is enormous.
The thing that interests me most though, is that God does all of that for free. I wonder then why it is that we trust our government for all of the wonderful services that we enjoy and pay exorbitant prices for them when God can do such amazing things for free....
Maybe instead of putting our trust in the government we should put it in God.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Below are photos of the plaques describing the situation, the people and the battle. You can click on the images for a larger view.
The 6-pounder canon below overlooks the cemetery which contains a number of markers honoring individuals who were involved in the battle. The obelisk just to the left of the barrel is a monument to General Joseph H. Lewis, Commander of the Orphan Brigade which defended this site.
As we walked about the hill, it was interesting to note the placement of the artillery pieces. The hill was well defended from all but one approach.
Monday, June 8, 2009
From the open vats, the slurry is then pumped to a 5-story tall copper distillation column. This is where the 12% alcohol slurry is distilled to a higher concentration. The distillation column sits to the right of the tanks in the photo above. Most of it is out of sight as it goes up through the floors of the Still House.
The distilled liquor is further refined and the proper amount of water is added to reach the final "proof" for the fresh bourbon. It is perfectly clear until aged in specially made white-oak barrels which are seen above. There are numerous warehouses storing the barrels of liquor in various stages of aging.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Some examples of things recently revealed to me:
James 1: It's all about growth in our Christian walk. I always thought it was about persevering through trial -- but it's all about becoming mature in your Christianity.
Luke 11: 1-13: Tells us to ask God for anything. He will give us what is good for us and whithhold that which is bad for us -- but ask for it all. Keep on asking -- our persistence will be rewarded.
Hebrews 8:19-24: Gives us the conditions for drawing near to God and explains how Jesus opened the way. Jesus conquered death on the cross and the separation between men and God (i.e. the curtain before the Holy Place -- or the presence of God -- was torn and Jesus then filled that gap). He became the way to enter into the presence of God. To do so we must have 1) a sincere heart, 2) full assurance of our faith, 3) freedom from a sense of guilt for our sins based upon the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus and 4) be cleansed by the new covenant - i.e. acceptance of Jesus as our savior. When we meet these conditions there is no longer a barrier between us and God. Any barriers are of our own creation because Jesus is the only thing between us and God if we are His.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Have you ever noticed how male ego gets in the way of rational behavior? OK. I guess that was a no-brainer question. So, I'll start over.
We've all noticed how male ego sometimes gets in the way of rational behavior. It can manifest itself as pride or as a fear of being seen to be weak. It often involves (at least in real men) a defense of their family. It is especially prevalent in successful men. I suffer from it myself.
What brought up this brief discussion is a difficult decision that I had to make last week. I interviewed a number of candidates for a new position in a new facility which we just opened. It was by far the best field of candidates that I have ever interviewed for a position throughout my 26 year career in business. It was extremely difficult for that reason.
There were a number of complicating factors in the hiring decision. One of the candidates was the wife of a former customer that I anticipated getting back due to our new location and the advantages that it offered over our competition. Another was the wife of an operation that we hoped to gain as a customer and who came highly recommended by a couple of other customers. Both were highly qualified, interviewed well and could bring great value to the position.
I knew that if I hired the wife of the former customer that I would get his business back -- and it is a sizable amount of business. If I hired the other, who I felt was the better candidate, it was also unlikely that I would upset any existing customers and it would probably have little negative impact on our existing business. So, based strictly on those surface criteria, it would seem that the safe hire would be the wife of the former customer. However, I strongly felt that long-term, the other individual was the best fit for the position.
I agonized over the decision and prayed hard for guidance. It seemed clear to me that I had to hire the best candidate regardless of the potential positive or negative repercussions of not hiring the wife of a former customer. So, that is what I did.
Today, it finally came to fulfillment -- the dreaded phone call. On Monday I informed by telephone, the wife of the former customer that she did not get the job. Today he called me to let me know that he would not be changing his business back to us -- even though our facility is just a couple of miles from his operation. He will be sending his business to a competitor that is located a significant distance away. He stated an excuse that was totally unrelated to my not hiring his wife -- but you could tell from the tenor of the conversation that it was the real reason.
It hurts me that the relationship with him is strained at this point. I understand his position. I truly believe that he really wants to do business with us but his pride tells him that he can't because of the "slight" to his wife.
It really was no slight to her. I suspect that she felt a little bit pushed into applying for the job by her husband. She just wasn't the best fit for the position. I would love to hire her -- I just don't have a position available in which her skills and experience could be utilized to the point that she could have a fulfilling and meaningful place in the company.
I know that her husband's excuse was just that -- an excuse. He used the reason that our competitor is cheaper. However, he has told me in the past that turnaround time is one of the most important factors to him in his business. We could save him about 24 hours in turnaround time. He also would save shipping costs. The impact of those two items alone would easily be worth 10 times the difference in cost.
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." -- Prov. 16:18
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Hebrews 10: 19-24
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
The Most Holy Place to the ancient Hebrews was the place where God dwells. Prior to Christ, only the High Priest could enter into God's presence. Now, believers can enter into the throne of grace because Jesus paid the necessary sacrifice to atone for our sins. That is, he met the requirements of the law to make us clean. However, there are four conditions for entering into the throne of grace, i.e. the presence of God. 1) We must have a sincere heart -- that is, undivided allegiance in our inner being. 2) We must have assurance of our faith -- that is, we have no hesitation in trusting Christ for everything. 3) Our hearts must be sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience -- that is, total freedom from a sense of guilt for our sins because we know that Jesus' sacrifice took care of them. 4) Our bodies must be washed with pure water -- that is, we must be cleansed of our sins through the baptism of the Spirit.
So, as it says in verse 23, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." -- in other words, there is no reason to doubt. So, we should move forward loving others and doing good deeds.
The part that really intrigues me is:
"...by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body...."
Friday, April 10, 2009
About my business
On this day
That we call
Why is it good?
It is because
On this day
My being made good
Because the Savior of the World
Paid the price for my sin
I was born.
It is the day on which
Each of us
Was made good
We accept the sacrifice
That Jesus made
On our behalf
And submit ourselves
We cannot earn it;
We must accept it
In order to receive it.
Of our goodness
Lies no longer in the grave
But rose to the heavens
I go about my business
With little thought
To the price
That He paid
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I live upon the road
With airplane seats,
Rental cars and
Motels for an abode.
The shape of doing business
Continues to change;
All it takes are laptops
And Blackberry phones
Which allow you to range
All over the country
While managing to attend
To the things that make
Your company grow
In spite of the national trend.
The worst part of it all
Is that you can't get away
The way you could
Back in my father's day.
It's with you all the time;
No matter where you go
You can always
With your laptop and cell phone!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Obama Wants to Control the Banks
There's a reason he refuses to accept repayment of TARP money.
The administration has somewhat painted itself into a corner. It appears that Mr. Obama has obtained some political capital among world leaders -- especially in Europe. Will he spend it in the U.N. Security Council? I doubt that he knows how to wield it effectively -- which begs the question -- who will he turn to for advice? Sarkozy? -- no -- Medvedev?? -- possibly -- Hillary? -- I wonder just how much power she truly has within the administration.... She might just ask Bill -- which brings us back to the first paragraph. Ultimately, I suspect it will be a matter of whatever "polls" best. Which again is reminiscent of Bill Clinton. I guess we should expect no less when we elect leaders who have no moral compass.
Now, the real question is what SHOULD we do????
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Surely I can come up with something though --
The struggle for power
Is fueled by money
From those who would seek influence
So that those who gain power
Will send more money back
To those who funded their struggle
The sad thing is
That the funding is provided
From the losers in the struggle
Namely, the American taxpayers
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Someone apparently was attempting to move this log cabin on a goosneck flat-bed trailer.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Neal checking out the young bulls.
Their focus is to maximize beef production per acre while operating at the peak sustainable capacity of their range. They seek to pass their knowlege to other producers both in genetics and in education. The ranch has received many environmental stewardship awards and that stewardship is reflected in the productivity of the operation.
Not only does the ranch seek to maximize the economic side of ranching, it also seeks to produce better quality meat for the consumer. This is done through carefully selecting for tenderness and other traits which make the end product more appealing to the consumer.
A few of the 163 bulls offered.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I have been skeptical of such Social Networking sites, but I now understand the appeal. In fact, I sometimes find myself chatting with others who are signed on. It has been insightful and informative.
No, facebook isn't paying me to post this. I am doing it because it has impacted me.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The economic downturn has affected the cattle industry just like many others across the country. The difference that I see is attitude. Cattle folks have a way of tightening their belt, pulling down their hat and knuckling down to take on whatever comes their way. There is an amazing can-do spirit that sets them apart from many people. I admire their willingness to face adversity and overcome it despite the odds. It's just another storm on the horizon -- OK, not on the horizon anymore.
If you are ever in Phoenix I would highly recommend Donovan's Steak and Chop House. It was outstanding. I would rank it among the very best in the country. Great food, the right level of service, quiet atmosphere and quality through and through.
More travels to come. I'll try and keep you posted.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Midland is not considered the mecca of the southwest, but it is a nice small city. The Symposium was well executed -- including the food. Whoever catered it did an excellent job with the steaks.
Wednesday evening I made it home late and then rose early to catch a flight to Denver for the National Western Stock Show. We participated with one of our vendors as a sponsor. It was my first trip to the National Western.
Denver was a good place to meet a lot of producers in a brief period of time. Many of the purebred cattle raisers had animals there for the show. There was a sprinkling of some of the larger producers but predominately it was those who raise them as a hobby. It is a group of producers with which I rarely come into contact. I believe that it was a productive trip but it will take time before I see any results. In spite of many of the producers there being well versed in genetics, very few of them were well versed in cattle health. They tend to leave it to their Veterinarian which is proper -- however, good producers need to understand health issues better than this group did.
The food in Denver was excellent as always. We made it to Il Posto, an Italian restaurant like none I have ever visited before. I highly recommend it as the pinnacle of dining experiences. When you go, be prepared to spend at least 3 hours dining. The meal is served in courses. Follow the link to find out more about them.
This week I have had some badly needed office time. I didn't realize how far behind I was.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I finished up last week yesterday afternoon when I finally got back home. From Tennessee and Kentucky I traveled south to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Cattlemen were meeting at the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge. Attendance was low but it was a good trip. I picked up one new customer and several solid prospects. I also was able to visit with a number of leading influencers.
The LSU campus is gorgeous. It is the first time I've ever been on their campus. There are huge live oak trees and lakes. The weather was nice and the facilities were excellent.
We took a brief foray into the French Quarter of New Orleans for dinner on Saturday evening. We didn't stay long after that. It is required that one sample the Cajun cuisine when in town however, and so we did.
At the Conference on the LSU campus we sampled true "native" fare. The first day, dinner was Jambalaya. They spent all day cooking it in a huge pot in the arena of the cattle pavilion. It was outstanding. I've never had Jambalaya in which the meat used was sirloin steak. I've never had better. The second day at lunch was traditional Cajun fare also. We had sticky rice with meatballs. It was ooowheee good! Y'all gotta try it sometime, ya heere?
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Wednesday dawned with cloud cover, but no rain. The snow which had been forecast failed to materialize and the day turned out to be great. My big worry became a minor scheduling conflict between my appointments. I called the first one early hoping to move it up and low-and-behold, that was the way it happened. It was a 40 mile drive to meet him at his operation south of Nashville. I headed south on I-65 thanking my lucky stars that I wasn't in the inbound traffic that was backed up almost 15 miles south of Franklin in parking lot mode.
The appointment went even better than I had anticipated and I met not only with him but also one of his neighbors that he had invited over. Both of them are now new customers. I then headed north to my next appointment in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I arrived about 20 minutes early which was great because it gave me some extra time to prepare a couple of items that I felt needed to be added to my arsenal.
The meeting went extremely well and we parted with the agreement to take the next steps. I then called a contact in the area that I didn't have on my schedule and he invited me out to his place northeast of Bowling Green. It was well after dark-thirty when I left after a great visit.
As I hit the north edge of Nashville my cell phone rang. It was the veterinarian who does the work for my afternoon appointment. He had lots of questions and said that I had made a favorable impression. We talked for almost 30 minutes as I drove back to my motel. (I know, I shouldn't be talking on the cell phone while driving but the traffic was light at that time of evening.)
This morning I received a call from our home office to let me know that the veterinarian I had spoken with last night was ready to go ahead and utilize our services for his client. He had called before 8:00 a.m. We will be shipping him the items he needs to get started today.
Yep, it has been a good week so far. Three new customers picked up yesterday in an area where we are looking to expand. Now I'd better get off of here so I can catch my flight to New Orleans.