Burn Your Cash Here

At work tonight I saw a mail-order catalog that caught my attention. Across the top it says, “Sunnyland Farms”. They sell food. On the front cover is a dish with two loaves of what look to be pumpkin bread. I picked it up because I thought, “Who buys pumpkin bread??  It’s dead easy to make! Also who garnishes it with leaves flour and several raw pecans?”

Y’all, this catalog is for rich people. It must be. I looked through it, and you know how they inflate prices for fundraisers for the Boy Scouts or school, like a small tin of popcorn for $10 when you know you could get one twice as big for $5 at Wal Mart? If there were popcorn in this catalog, that same tin would cost $80.

I’m not kidding. I was curious how much they are asking for the pumpkin bread. It’s on page 25. Can you guess? No? Go ahead and guess.

You’re wrong. It’s $40.60 for two 12 oz loaves. I have no idea why it’s $40.60 and not $40 or $41. What’s with the extra sixty cents? You know how much the ingredients would cost to make these two loaves? I could go to the store and buy everything I would need to make them including bowls, mixing spoons, the bread pans, etc, and it wouldn’t cost $40.60. Assuming you already have all the regular baking equipment, I’m guessing the ingredients would cost about $6 including the pumpkin. And they’re selling it for $40.60. Or you can buy eight loaves at a time for $35.73 a piece.

But that’s not all. I looked through the rest of the catalog. That was a mistake. I started to get upset that there are actually people out there buying these drastically over priced baked goods. They’re selling a pecan pie for $50.35. There isn’t a pie in the world that’s worth more than $15. What do they do: polish the pecans individually?

I saw one cake that sounded really good. It’s called a “Rum Crunch Cake” and it says, “This light, fine-textured pound cake is crusted with sweet coconut flakes and midget pecan pieces. Drizzled with a rum butter sauce, it is moist and delicious. Keep on hand for unexpected guests.” If I have guests unexpectedly showing up at my house, they’re going to get whatever food I have already. I’m not giving them a piece of my Rum Crunch Cake for which I have (presumably) paid $44.30. I think I’ll pay the extra $10 to have the cake covered with clear acrylic so I can display it.

I think the most shocking price-gouge in the catalog is how much they are charging for nuts. Would you like a 2 pound 4 ounce box of whole almonds? You could purchase it for $14.02 from Wal Mart and take it home with you the same day. Orrrrr, you could pay Sunnyland $42.75 and wait a few weeks to get them.

Today I learned again that I’m not rich. Because I don’t see myself ever paying this much for this stuff.

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How Dare Carson King be Human!

On Saturday September 14th the nation tuned in to ESPN to watch the show ESPN College Gameday, a traveling show where four men talk about the college football games of that weekend, especially focusing on the game where they are located that week.  That day it was in Ames, Iowa in preparation for this year’s in-state rivalry football game between the Iowa State University Cyclones and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. It was a hard fought game on both sides, but a muffed punt late in the game by the Cyclones sealed the Hawkeye’s victory this year.

But that wasn’t the biggest story that came out of this game.  A 24 year old man named Carson King was in the crowd at the ESPN College Gameday broadcast and, like many others, he was holding a sign.  Many people’s signs had various messages expressing support for their team, disdain for the other team, or attempts at humor.  Carson’s sign basically stated that he was out of beer money to buy Busch Light, and would like people to donate. 

Donate they did.  Within hours it was several thousand dollars, prompting this young man to decide that he would not keep the money, but after buying one case of beer he would donate everything else to the University of Iowa Stead Children’s Hospital , which famously receives a wave from everybody at the Iowa home football games next door right after the first quarter of the game ends.  The campaign went viral. Both Anheuser Busch and Venmo (the company that was handling Carson’s account) declared that they would match any funds reached, thereby tripling whatever people send in. A few days ago the donation total broke the one million dollar level, meaning that the Children’s Hospital is going to get a very sizable donation.  All because of the kindness and unselfishness of Carson King.  Anheuser Busch jumped on the PR train, announcing they would be delivering “a year’s supply” of Busch Light to Carson, and that the cans would have his picture on the side. Carson was also given tickets to the next Hawkeye home game (this Saturday) so that he could participate in the wave to the children for which he had raised so much money.

This was a happy story all around, a feel-good story about the generosity of people and bonds that transcend any college football allegiance. And then the Des Moines Register stepped in.  The ultra-left-leaning newspaper evidently could not leave this man alone, but decided, in the spirit of #metoo and “cancel culture”, that Carson King must be destroyed.  And so they began scouring his social media accounts looking for any dirt they could find and report on.  And they found something, reporting that eight years ago when Carson was a sophomore in high school, he had two tweets that contained racist jokes in them.  They asked him about them, and of course, Carson did not even remember them.  He deleted them, expressed remorse for ever saying them, and even provided evidence from 2016 (four years later) that he did not really feel that way, with a tweet that read “Until we as a people learn that racism and hate are learned behaviors, we won’t get rid of it. Tolerance towards others is the first step.”   That tweet was written when he was 21 years old, and much more mature. 

But as a result of these tweets being revealed, Anheuser Busch, the company that produces millions of barrels of beer each year, causing untold suffering in the United States, has decided that they cannot be connected with a man who told two bad jokes almost a decade ago. They have cut ties with Carson, stating that his posts do not align with their values.  The irony is almost palpable. 

There are two lessons that we can learn from this whole thing.  First of all, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” unfortunately for some of us, judgment day doesn’t come soon enough to please the Des Moines Register.  They want Carson to be judged today.

And secondly, the left doesn’t care who they have to destroy in their quest for ideological purity.  This man, whose greatest crime in his life is telling a couple of off-color jokes, is now being criticized and rejected.  Nobody is safe.  I have always tried personally to ensure that everything I say and do online is acceptable to God and is true to my values and morals that I have learned from the Bible.  But I am almost positive that you could go through anybody’s social media and find something that would embarrass them like Carson found out today.  And the sad thing is that Carson could have avoided all this if he had identified as a Democrat, or even a political progressive.  If you disagree that those people get preferential treatment by the cancel culture/metoo crowd then please explain how Justin Trudeau is still in office. Please explain how Governor Northam of Virginia is still in office. Even Bill Clinton, when he was credibly accused of rape, was excused by the left, when people like Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of sexual impropriety (not even rape) was raked over the coals, received death threats, and is even now being threatened with impeachment because some other woman decided that she thinks she remembers something from 20 years ago (don’t hold me to those details, I haven’t researched them). 

So people, watch what you say, because somewhere out there is a liberal who will bring up your every mistake to the world, invalidating anything good in your life.  I feel sadness for Carson King.  But I feel indignation for the Des Moines Register and their editorial staff. They are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves.

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There’s a Reason

I was doing my bible reading yesterday and I read a passage I’ve read many times, and, as frequently happens, God points something out to me that I didn’t notice before. The verses in question were Luke 1:6-7

“They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.”

This passage is talking about the priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, who became the parents of John the Baptist. Everybody knows the story. The verse refers to them as “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” I mean, you really can’t get a better character reference than that. So we know based on verse 6 that they were believers, that they were following the Lord and living their lives for Him. In other words, they were not living in active sin, they were not rejecting the Lord, and they had great faith in Him. And that’s what makes the next five words so striking:

But they had no child.

In Jewish society, barrenness was seen as a curse from God. Sometimes in the Bible it actually was. Leviticus 20:20-21 says (for example) that if an Israelite went to bed with his aunt or his sister-in-law that they would both die childless. The main reason for this view about barrenness is the fact that every Israelite woman hoped to be the one who bore the promised Messiah. It was in this context that Elizabeth and Zacharias, two godly people, were living. They had not done anything to deserve their barrenness, and yet they were barren. God had His reasons (as He always does).

We are introduced to this couple in verse 5, are told about their faith in verse 6, and then learn of their childlessness in verse 7. The following verses tell the well-known tale of how the birth of John the Baptist was foretold and then accomplished. But I think sometimes we rush over the introductory verses without thinking about them. Zechariah and Elizabeth almost certainly got married at a young age, as almost everybody did in those days (many people believe Mary was only a teenager when Jesus was born). Think about Z & E getting married and starting a life together. A year goes by. And then another. Five years. Ten. And still no children. There’s no Clomid. No IVF. Only month after month of “no” from God. Finally Elizabeth goes through menopause. The Bible says they were “advanced in years” (literally “advanced in days”), which is a euphemism for “old.” But no children. The shame must have been overwhelming. A raw pain that gnawed away at her, always in the back of her mind: Why, God? I don’t understand.

We know she felt this way because of verse 25 where she makes a statement after getting pregnant, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men. She felt disgraced because she had no children, something we can deduce from the fact that having a child was what took the disgrace away. Finally, she had a child.

But the child came after years and years of disgrace, barrenness, and shame. And it wasn’t her fault. Verse 6 refers to their spiritual state AFTER the decades of shame. They did not let the situation make them bitter or affect their faith in God and His wisdom.

And there’s the application for us. Are you living for God but you still have problems? Is there pain in your life? Sadness? A great hurt that you are carrying around? God knows. He is aware, and He loves you. Sometimes He gives us things that are too much for us to handle so that we learn to rely on Him. So when you’re going through difficulties or struggles, remember that God has a plan, God loves you, and He will work it out in the end. Trust in His love and His wisdom.

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Term Limits

In 1947 the United States Congress passed the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution which limits the US President to being elected to two 4 year terms. I agree with this move.

Unfortunately they didn’t go far enough. They should have instituted term limits for legislators as well. There are too many people in Washington who are only there because being a politician today is good business. You get rich being a politician. There is money, respect, and power. And so it draws the wrong sort of people.

I propose that Senators be elected to no more than two terms, and members of the House of Representatives be elected to no more than four terms. That way Senators would serve no more than 12 years and Representatives no more than 8 years.

And so I wondered, if this had been made the law 20 years ago, what would our current Congress look like?

35 Senators would not be in office including Grassley, Murkowski, Feinstein, McConnell, Collins, Klobuchar, Schumer, Graham, Alexander, and Sanders (to name a few of the most popular).

186 Representatives would not be in office including Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Steve King, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Hank Johnson (of capsizing Guam fame). That’s 41% of the current Congress.

The Senators not in office would be 17 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and one Independent (you know, THAT guy).

The Representatives not in office would be 53 Republicans and 133 Democrats.

Let’s make this happen, people!

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Designated Survivor

My wife and I watched this show when it premiered in 2016. It was a very interesting political thriller involving a major attack on the government of the United States that thrust Kiefer Sutherland’s character (playing the Secretary of HUD) into the oval office as President after everybody in front of him in the line of succession was killed by a bomb. It was a good show, with spies, secret plots, machinations, drama, and moments of levity sprinkled in. The characters were engaging and you couldn’t help but root for the President’s success. The show ran for two seasons on ABC and then it was canceled.

Fast forward to this month. We haven’t had Netflix for several months, but signed up for a free trial that was available, and I noticed that Netflix had picked up the show and just released a third season of ten episodes. My wife and I started to watch the first episode last night.

I say “started to watch” because it was horrible. It’s like Netflix took a gourmet meal and poured vomit all over it. We couldn’t even finish the episode. They decided that the show needed more cursing (we hit three F-bombs and quit watching). As I did more research, I found out that now they’ve decided to make main characters gay (because we all know every single show now has to have gay characters, even though gay people are 2-3% of the population). There’s prostitution, sex, profanity, transgender characters, disgustingly crude references in conversation that I won’t repeat here, and they’ve turned the President, who in the first two seasons was a kind of “every-man”, into a white male version of the liberal savior who cares about all the liberal issues and none of the conservative ones. According to the reviews I’ve read online he spends the whole ten episodes fighting against the Republicans and the Democrats are strangely absent.

It’s sad that Netflix (and the rest of Hollywood) feels like this is the kind of garbage that we should be “entertaining” ourselves with, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. As I peruse the rest of what is available on Netflix right now, the only thing of value are the good shows I’ve already seen, and the Disney content. So no, we will not be paying Netflix a dime and will be canceling this subscription.

The older I get, the more I notice the world moving further and further away from what is decent and right and good. It’s like they are daring each other to be as shocking and ungodly as they can possibly be. It only makes me long for the return of Christ. Even so….

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Minnesota’s 5th District

I keep seeing this thing on Facebook and other sites claiming that the only reason Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is in congress is that President Obama sent 70,000 Somali refugees to the 5th Congressional district of Minnesota.  The people that post this nonsense are assuming a lot of things. For one, they’re assuming that 100% of these 70,000 people are of voting age and they ALL vote Democratic. 

First of all, the numbers are wrong.  Suffice it to say there are only 69,000 Somalis living in the entire state.  The 5th district itself only has 58,000 residents born in “Sub-saharan Africa.”  That certainly includes Somalia, but many other countries too. 

Then let’s get to the population of the district. The census bureau says that, as of 2017, there are 721,389 people in that district.  Only 343,358 of them voted.  Now that’s 48% of the total number of people.  I’m sure some of those people are not of voting age, but that’s still thousands of people not voting.

Even IF there were 70,000 Somalis living in MN-5, and IF they all were of age, and IF they all voted Democrat, there were still an additional 197,703 people in that district that voted Democrat. And the Republican challenger got 74,440 votes.

So now we get to the crux of the matter.  The problem with Minnesota’s 5th district is not that there are too many Somalis in it, it’s that there are too many DEMOCRATS in it. The last time that district sent a Republican to DC was 1960. Pick an election from that point on, and the Democrat candidate beat the Republican challenger by double digits every year. Seriously, I looked. Between 1863 and 1962 the Republicans won that seat in all but three elections. But for some reason the tide turned in 1962, and the DFL party won 52%-48% and they haven’t lost since. Most years the DFL candidate gets around 70% of the vote in that district.

Here’s a breakdown of the election results by percentage since then:

YEAR  D% vs R%

2018        77-21
2016        69-22
2014        70-24
2012        75-25
2010        68-24
2008        71-22
2006        56-21
2004        70-24
2002        67-26
2000        69-23
1998        67-28
1996        64-28
1994        62-37
1992        63-28
1990        73-27
1988        72-25
1986        73-26
1984        70-27
1982        66-29
1980        70-26
1978        62-38
1976        71-26
1974        74-25
1972        66-24
1970        57-42
1968        58-42
1966        60-40
1964        62-38
1962        52-48

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I Am Nobody

As a child my parents told me I had so much potential. Usually it was when school came easy for me so I just skated by easily, and they were upset I wasn’t operating up to my potential.  I remember one time my dad said “You could be anything you want to be.”  I took that to heart, and so I became nobody.

I didn’t set out to become nobody, but the choices I’ve made in my life (some good, some bad) have brought me to this point in my life. Some of it I’m sure is God’s providential hand, and some of it is the natural consequence of my own choices (which God takes into account). 

What do I mean when I say I’m nobody? I’m nobody special. I’m nobody important. I’m nobody that you would see me coming and turn around to get my autograph or take a picture to prove you met me. I’m not impressive or outstanding really. I will almost certainly die having accomplished nothing of note or consequence.  99.9% of the world will almost certainly not notice when I am no longer here. 

I have had two professions, really: nursing and pastoring. I have won no awards in either career.  I’m a good nurse, but not the best nurse ever.  I’d like to think I’m a good pastor, but that’s not for me to say.  I try my hardest, but I see other men my age (and younger) attaining to positions and offices that I never will.  I’m not sure if I will ever pastor a church larger than 100 people (not that there’s anything wrong with that). 

But I serve my God. I put one foot in front of the other every day and try to do what He asks. And whatever job He has for me, I do it willingly and gladly, even if men never see or think highly of me. And that doesn’t bother me really, because I’m not doing it for them.

Psalm 84:10 says:

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
            I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
            Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

That means it’s better to be a doorman for God than live outside of His will. it’s better to be a nobody for God than to be a somebody for the world. I am happy serving God wherever He sends me.

God does not require us to be spectacular. He just wants us to be faithful.

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