Category Archives: Opinion

Time by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

My friend Joyce sent me this meme: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your TIME because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.” I wonder how many of us take our Time for granted.

Sometimes I think I am just busy with…well, busyness, flitting from one trivial thing to the next while there remain so many significant causes that I create excuses to ignore. People who need contacting. Worthy organizations that need volunteers. Neighbors I need to meet. Prayers I need to pray.

You know, worthwhile, God-pleasing things.

I mean, I manage to set aside time to watch the Chiefs or answer a girlfriend-text or play Pickleball or put on makeup or have a pedicure. Priorities. I just hope that when I die, I’m engaged in something a little more spiritual than those actions (although sometimes I am praying for the Chiefs—does that count?).

God gifted us with Time. None of the things I do are bad, but according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, adult Americans average more than five hours of free time a day. Almost a third of their awake-time! And where do they spend those five hours? Entertainment: television; surfing their computers; video games, etc. (Don’t shoot me. I’m just the messenger.)

Interesting, isn’t it? If we were invited to hang out with drug dealers, murderers, pedophiles, adulterers or alcoholics, we probably would find an excuse not to join the party. Yet we spend much of our time with them on television, on our iPods or listening to song lyrics about them. We’d be better off meeting them in person where at least we might tell them about Jesus, but if you’re like most Christians, the mere thought terrifies you.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out.” Where we spend our time will dictate…well, where we spend our time. (Yes, I made that up.) Where and how we spend our time on earth will determine where and how we spend our time in eternity.

One of the biggest issues with Time is procrastination: “Don’t do anything today that you can do tomorrow.” I typically don’t procrastinate because I don’t like the “me” that surfaces when I am pressed with last-minute deadlines. C-R-A-N-K-Y!!! The trouble is, some people live with this Pinterest philosophy: “From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful.” I know people who live in delay mode, but when time is finally up, they are panicked. And everyone around them pays the price.

In his book Rise, Tripp Lee writes: “To put it simply, procrastination is pride, because it assumes you know the future. But we don’t know when our health will decline or our lives will end. We don’t even know for sure when life will get busier.”

Hmmm…

When I think of standing in Heaven and God is “dividing the sheep from the goats,” I sure hope Christians don’t have to watch those who never made Jesus their Lord and Savior being banished. To see loved ones and neighbors, knowing that we never used our Time to share the most important message EVER, makes me sad.

Yesterday, I was cleaning out my stationary cabinet and found a beautiful card, telling my mother how, even though “I get so busy that I don’t get a chance to call you,” I’m still “thinking about you and storing up all the things I want to tell you.” It is a lovely card. It would have meant so much to my mother when she was alive…

had I not been too busy to send it.

“Calling all Cars, Calling all Cars!”

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom – Carolyn Tucker

When I was a kid, occasionally I would watch the 1961-1962 Dick Tracy animated TV show. The alert, “calling all cars” was heard over the police department radio whenever there was a serious situation at hand. Everybody on duty, including the English bulldog, would charge out of the building and work together to catch the bank robbers.

Right now, the United States of America is facing a serious situation. Our beloved Country is at a crossroads, and “calling all Christians” to pray and vote is of utmost importance. Exactly who are the Christians? Just because you go to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a barn makes you a horse. Believers are not a group of neutral individuals by any means. If you’re a true Christian, then you are a born-again Christ-follower and, by faith, you believe that the Bible is the truth and ultimate authority. God’s Word is forever settled in heaven and in earth. Man cannot change what God has set forth. Where I come from, we say “like it or lump it.”

In the words of President Richard M. Nixon, let me make this perfectly clear. This article is about responsibility. My mom was a wise, loving, and godly woman and she told me not to discuss religion or politics with people. No doubt about it, those two topics will stir up a hornet’s nest if one is arguing his opinion to try to persuade the other.

However, believers have the responsibility of praying specifically during tumultuous times. We’ve all heard the common clichés about prayer: “Prayer changes things.” “The family that prays together stays together.” “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,“ etc. One of the most-popular verses regarding prayer is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” What stands out to me is the phrase, “My people.” This message from God is not to the sinners, but to the believers. Christians are to come humbly to God, pray, seek His face, and turn from their sinful/selfish ways. Then they can join together to pray for a tremendous impact. It’s vital that we not shirk our responsibility outlined in this verse.

Our prayers matter significantly. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. God uses our prayer petitions to accomplish His purposes in the earth. This is a critical time for believers to be in agreement and interceding in specific prayer. In the book of Daniel Chapter 9, we see what intercessory prayer accomplished. Daniel prayed for God to lean down and listen to him and then he writes: “I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God…. As I was praying, Gabriel…came swiftly to me. He explained to me, ‘Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.’”

The Key: The Founding Fathers are “calling all Christians” to stand strong in their responsibility to pray for the saving and healing of America.

Produce Fruit by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Jesus cursed a fig tree. He was hungry, and when there was no fruit on that particular tree, he put a hex on it so it never again would bear figs.

And even though I’ve never been a friend of figs, I always felt kind of sorry for that tree. But, typical for the Bible, there’s more to this story.

Fig trees are mentioned 60+ times in Scripture. They’re sort of unusual because they can produce up to three crops a year. The first crop appears on the trunk; the second in the branches; and the third in the leaves.

And therein lies the problem. Let’s look at the passage in Mark 11: The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Did you catch it? “…a fig tree in leaf…” although “it was not the season for figs.”  Actually, it was just before Passover, about six weeks before the fully-formed fig appears, the time when the leaves are accompanied by “taqsh,” small edible knobs that appear but fall off when the real fig forms. Leaves with no taqsh meant no figs for that year.

Jesus understood that. These leaves failed to do their job. All promise and no follow-through. So, Jesus cursed the tree. Not because he couldn’t create a fig from dirt, should he so choose, but to teach his followers that this tree was an analogy of Israel.

Jeremiah 8:13: I will take away their harvest, declares the Lord. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.

Those Israelites wouldn’t follow through. They appeared spiritual, but there was no fruit. And they were without excuse. God had given them the Promised Land where bumper crops were the norm, yet they took them for granted. They had prophets telling them how to act, yet they refused to heed their messages. They had been told that one day a Messiah would come. They were seeing miracles and hearing of Baptism and forgiveness and redemption, yet they were in such a spiritual drought, they refused to open their eyes and ears and understand the power of the one walking in their midst.

I just have one question: What’s the manna with those Jews? (I couldn’t help myself.) Probably the same thing that’s the manna with us.

God wants us to be fruitful. Trees are known by their fruit. If we see apples hanging from a limb, we know that we are looking at an apple tree and not a thorn tree. (This is not rocket science.) Christians will be known by how much they produce for God’s kingdom.

In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says that every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Look at what follows: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, by their fruit you will recognize them.

 Serious stuff. This is no mere cursing. This is a grand finale that calls us to account. We are to be the real deal. We are to represent Christ in the way he deserves to be represented. We are to be fruit-full. Fortunately, as long as we have breath, we have time to make it right, to produce fruit in a way that brings honor to our Savior. So, here’s the good news: We don’t have to wait; no matter what season, now is the perfect time to plant. Apples or thorns? Our choice.

Bur Oak Acorns are Midnight Snacks by Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom – Carolyn Tucker

 

Several years ago, my husband planted two Bur Oak trees in our yard. When these trees starting bearing acorns, I was elated because I’d never seen such magnificent acorns! Due to their large size and hairy caps, they’re the perfect accent for my autumn decorating. While gathering acorns a few days ago, I discovered that the deer had been brazen enough to come into the yard, eat MY acorns, and poop while they were at it. There were tons of broken and empty caps! Acorns in perfect condition are beautiful and useful, but most of what I found were damaged and useless. I put the debris in a bucket and threw it away.

I think there’s a lot of acorn people out there. Some are sinners with empty and broken lives, and some are believers who have gotten sidetracked and lost their way. There’s a fix for both of these categories. The sinner is to accept John 3:16, and the sidetracked is to act on Hebrews 4:16 NLT: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” You can’t be too big a mess for God because in His eyes there’s no such thing as “good for nothing.” When God touches your life (as a sinner or believer) you’re good for something.

When a believer realizes he’s not living up to the standards of Jesus’ teachings, he can simply go to the heavenly Father, repent, accept His forgiveness, and keep truckin’. God is loving and patient, kind and caring. He isn’t willing that any should perish (spiritually). There’s no benefit in thinking you need to punish yourself for your waywardness. Jesus died on the cross for you, and that’s enough. It’s ridiculous to think you need to add something to what Jesus accomplished for you. Get up, get going, and get over it. Accept God’s grace and then help someone else find their way to the Throne.

For many years, Jimmy and I have shared the gospel song, “He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away” written by our friend Gene Reasoner. “Empty and broken I came back to Him; a vessel unworthy, so scarred with sin. But He did not despair, He started over again. And I bless the day He didn’t throw the clay away. He is the Potter and I am the clay; molded in His image, He wants me to stay. But when I stumble and fall and my vessel breaks, He just picks up all the pieces; He doesn’t throw the clay away. Over and over He molds me and makes me; into His likeness He fashions the clay. A vessel of honor I am today all because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away. ”

The way of the Cross of Christ is hope. If you’ve failed, don’t throw in the towel — it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings. As long as you’re breathing, there’s hope. I believe and rely on the truth of this scripture: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of the world” (1 John 2:1,2 NLT).

The Key: Don’t be bashful; be like the deer and go boldly to your heavenly Father and receive what you need.

Letter To The Editor: Nick Graham On Ballot Stickers

To The Editor:

Due to some misinformation shared both in this morning’s Fort Scott Tribune (October 17th, 2020 Edition) and at the Fort Scott Chamber Candidate Forum on Thursday night, misinformation that could discourage voters from participating in the upcoming general election,

I wanted to reach out and share some facts that have been omitted by both the Tribune and the Bourbon County Clerk.  Unfortunately it appears that was started as a fun, outside of the box, and locally manufactured (by Ward-Kraft) way to make it easier for voters to participate in a write-in campaign has been weaponized as a political issue, one particularly aimed at instilling fear in our senior voters, early voters, and mail-in voters.
On September 23rd, I received an e-mail from our County Clerk stating that she was being told that I was running a write-in campaign and was planning to use ballot stickers.  She implied that ballot stickers have caused damage to election equipment in past Bourbon County elections (which she repeated at the Chamber Candidate Forum this past Thursday night, along with estimated dollar amounts she feared taxpayers would have to pay due to this destruction).  This is false according to every Bourbon County employee and elected official I have talked to, including past Bourbon County election officers.  My campaign is in fact the first write-in campaign to ever use ballot stickers in Bourbon County as far as anyone is aware.  Despite this fact, the County Clerk asserted that this had happened in the past, and that “I am sure you would not want to be responsible for damaging our voting equipment.”
 
I responded to the County Clerk’s e-mail that afternoon, stating that I had spoken at length with the Assistant General Counsel of the Secretary of State’s office on September 3rd via e-mail, and had confirmed that ballot stickers were 100% legal to use in Bourbon County, and that any ordinance regarding ballot stickers would need to be voted on by the Bourbon County Commission.  I assured the County Clerk that the last thing I wanted to do was cause problems during this election, and offered to provide some stickers so that we could test them on sample ballots (ballots at our polling locations are run through one at a time, so this would be a pretty easy test to pull off), and offered to provide measurements of a sample ballot with a sticker on it so that we could make sure that it didn’t exceed the paper thickness and weight threshold of the ballot scanning machines.  I never received a response to that e-mail.

On a side note, in that e-mail exchange on September 3rd, the Secretary of State’s office also mentioned to me that the Bourbon County elections office had reached out to them about how to prohibit ballot stickers in Bourbon County.  I thought the timing of that (I had just announced my sticker-in/write-in campaign on August 17th) was…interesting.

After getting no response from the County Clerk, I assumed that the issue had been put to rest, but then on Friday, October 9th, an alarming post was made on the Bourbon County Republican Facebook group.  That post, from a lifelong Bourbon County resident who was genuinely well-meaning and alarmed, stated “Nick Graham is having labels printed and mailing out to be affixed to the ballot.  The labels might cause the equipment to jam creating a problem.  If your ballot is ripped it will not be counted.  I talked to the county clerk’s office.

After assuring this person that they had nothing to worry about, and that any ballot that was damaged for any reason whatsoever would have to be replaced per state law (and again, ballots are fed in one at a time), he was very apologetic, deleted his original post, and put this one in its place:  “I apologize if I have offended Nick Graham with my post earlier.  I was asked about the sticker earlier and said I would find out and let them know.  My earlier post was what I was told by the clerk’s office.

This prompted me to make an appearance at the October 13th County Commission meeting to seek the input of the Commission, as they have final authority when it comes to the use of ballot stickers.  I went over the timeline of e-mails and events that I just shared with you (including the e-mails themselves), gave the Commissioners some ballot stickers so they could see if they had any concerns, and they did not.  For reasons I’m not sure of, the following day’s issue of the Fort Scott Tribune covered the events of that County Commission meeting, except for my appearance, even though it had been placed on the agenda by unanimous vote prior to me speaking.

Again, I thought the issue was settled, but then this past Thursday night at the Chamber Candidate Forum, in her closing statement, the County Clerk chose to state that using my ballot stickers could cost Bourbon County taxpayers between $60,000 and $100,000 in damaged election equipment, despite the fact that I had established on the public record that the County Commission unanimously had no problems with me using them.

I’m writing this letter to set the record straight, and to ask folks to please let their friends and loved ones know (especially they are senior, early, or mail-in voters) that if they want to cast a vote for me but are concerned about the stickers, all they have to do is write “Nick” and circle the oval on the Write-In section of the County Clerk portion of the ballot, AND that our ballot stickers are safe to use and locally manufactured by Ward-Kraft, who knows a thing or two about labels and stickers.  Neither Ward-Kraft or myself would have gone to the trouble (and my expense) to mail out over six thousand ballot stickers if we felt there was a risk of damage to election equipment.

If you’d like to read my e-mail exchanges with both the Secretary of State’s office and the Bourbon County Clerk, or the Kansas Elections Handbook section on Ballot Stickers, they’re public record, and I’ve made them available for reading here:
 https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1smuOWfNOM0PU6Ry4V5OluCpjm6UxwAD3?usp=sharingIf you’d like to see my discussion with the County Commission on October 13th, or see the County Clerk portion of the Chamber Candidate Forum this past Thursday, you can view them both here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsHWUbRAnx9djzLS2nzZ3vA

Thanks for your time,

Nick Graham

Uniontown, KS

Amy Coney Barrett by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

A recent email exchange with 14 people involved the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Her Catholicism came into question as some writers were positive that she was pro-life and would fight to reverse Roe v. Wade. I responded that I know several Catholics who are voting for Joe Biden, even though he, a Catholic, is pro-abortion. That being said, the fact that Barrett has seven children (five biological and two adopted) makes me believe that she probably endorses laws respecting the sanctity of life. And so do I. I know someone who has had 3 abortions. To her, birth control is “such a pain.” I also know others who have aborted their babies and live in guilt for the rest of their lives. It is a haunting shame and one that therapy rarely can solve. Sadly, quick solutions seem to be the mode of our microwave, drive-through generation. Who wants to be inconvenienced?

If that “piece of tissue,” aborted baby had been you or me, how differently we might see this predicament. (And yes, I see the futility of that sentence, but hopefully you get the point,) A person I know recommended an abortion to his daughter. I asked if he considered that this “fetus” could be a future president of the United States or inventor of a cure for cancer or the most beloved janitor the school had ever seen. Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently at our son’s ranch here in Ft. Scott. His mother did not follow through with her thoughts to abort him, and because of that, he delighted dozens of military guests who spent an entire morning catching his passes, not to mention that his Christian faith has encouraged many who are persecuted for their beliefs.

If you watched the RNC, you heard Abby Johnson share how she joined the staff of Planned Parenthood to help women in crisis. Having experienced two abortions of her own, she wanted to offer support to those women who didn’t think they could care for their child. Planned Parenthood began to push her to be more proactive in selling abortions because “Abortion is how we make our money.” Her new quota was double the number of abortions at her clinic the previous year. A month later, Abby’s eyes were opened when she was asked to assist an abortion doctor to do an ultra-sound guided abortion. For the first time, she witnessed the bloody, violent business that takes a human life. “Nothing prepared me for what I saw on the screen,” Abby said. “An unborn baby fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction. And I will never forget what the doctor said next: ‘Beam me up, Scotty.’ The last thing I saw was a spine twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction.”

Last year a relative became pregnant with a baby that had the Trisome 18 syndrome. She carried the little guy into the 5th month where it was diagnosed that he had no esophagus or stomach and only a fragment of a brain. It was her second miscarriage. Should the parents not be able to have a baby, how thrilled they would be to adopt one of those rejects…you know, those “inconveniences.” The numbers are staggering: Two million American couples want to adopt. (That’s 36 families for every one child placed for adoption.) As for the argument that abortion is necessary for rape victims, read the story of Lianna, a 12-year old rape victim who was told to have an abortion. When she asked the doctor if an abortion would ease her pain and help her forget about her rape, her doctor told her it would not. Lianna chose life and soon found that the love of her daughter replaced the pain of the rape. Google her story. It is a tremendous read. There have been 62,252,920 abortions since Roe v Wade, and I have to wonder how grieved God, the One who creates life, must be. The most amazing thing about this Life-Giver is that He’s also a merciful God who forgives those who call on His name, no matter how grave the sin. He is a Father none of us deserve.

I am so grateful that we serve a merciful God who understands the desperation of women who make a choice to abort a baby and offers forgiveness when they do.

Letter to Editor: Michael Hoyt on Charter Ordinance

Submitted by Michael J. Hoyt
The petition to place the City of Fort Scott Charter Ordinance 31 was successful in placing the issue on the ballot sometime in 2021.
Please DO NOT confuse this issue with the sales tax question that WILL be on the ballot November 3, 2020, in all of Bourbon County.

Thank you to everyone who supported the petition; the result will be the suspension of transfers of  City funds collected for the purpose of supporting the sewer and storm-water infrastructure until the VOTERS decide the right thing to do.

The ballot question will most likely be polled during an election later next year.

Who…Me? By Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom – by Carolyn Tucker

In the early years of our marriage, Jimmy and I were taking a motorcycle trip to see his grandmother in Anderson, Missouri. On the way, we had a flat on the back tire. There we were, stranded alongside the road (with no cell phone). We didn’t have to wait very long before the driver of a pickup stopped to help us. He and my husband loaded the bike into the truck bed and he drove us to a bike shop in Joplin. After we purchased the new tire, the man took us to a park where Jimmy put on the tire. We were soon “on the road again” because someone, who didn’t know us, took the time to care.

I don’t remember the stranger’s name, what he looked like, or what he did for a living. I believe in angels, but I don’t think this guy was one. He didn’t seem to be a priest or a religious person, but he did have a compassionate heart. It’s one thing to be “between a rock and a hard place” and call on family or friends; but it’s a whole other ballgame to have a stranger volunteer to help.

Jesus commands us to live a life of love. One day a teacher of religious law asked Him which commandment was the most important. “Jesus replied, ’The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31 NLT).

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer, looking for a loophole, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling a story about a traveling man that was attacked by robbers. They stole his clothes, beat him half to death, and left him to die alongside the road. Later, a priest came down the road but, when he saw the wounded man, he crossed to the other side. Next, a religious man walked up and, as soon as he saw the injured man, he avoided him too. Then a Samaritan traveling the road came upon him. He had compassion on him, applied first aid, lifted him onto his donkey, took him to an inn, and made him comfortable. The Samaritan paid the innkeeper and told him to take good care of him. In the words of Jesus, a neighbor is anyone you’re around.

Cain and Abel were brothers, which is up another level in regard to loving your neighbor. Usually, blood is thicker than water, but not in this sad case found in the Book of Genesis. Because Cain did not master his jealousy and temper, he murdered his own brother! Afterward, God asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain responded, “I don’t know; am I my brother’s keeper/guardian?” (Wow, it’s really dumb to lie to God.)

The hit song, “Try a Little Kindness” was first recorded by Glen Campbell and released in October 1969. To drive home the parable in Luke 10:25-37, here are some of the poignant lyrics: “Don’t walk around the down and out, lend a helping hand instead of doubt. And the kindness that you show every day will help someone along their way.”

The Key: Who…me? Yes, you. You’ve got to show a little kindness and shine your light for everyone to see.

After COVID Passes by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

After this Covid-19 virus passes, I hope we learn a few things.

Like the importance of saving. Proverbs 21:20 offers advice we cannot discard. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. According to Bankrate.com, more than one in five Americans don’t save any of their annual income. For those who do, twenty percent have put back only five percent or less of what they make. What would have happened if our government had not bailed us out? My widowed mother raised three of us on minimum wage. She believed in putting a little money away each month “for a rainy day.” The day she received her paycheck, she set aside her tithe. If she did not have enough money to purchase something, we went without, including a television and a car. We rented until she saved the cash to buy a home. She never had a credit card. Had this virus hit when we were young, we probably would have been much better off than some of my friends’ families…you know, the ones with the impressive homes, the Country Club memberships, and, oh yes, a huge amount of credit card debt.

I am grateful that we live in America where Uncle Sam is looking after us. My Hispanic friend from Mazatlán recently sent an email sharing that, since the Mexican government is doing NOTHING to bail out businesses or individuals, people are figuring out ways to help each other. She shared that fishermen catch fish and offer them to anyone who was hungry. Department stores host giveaways. “If you need something, take it; if you could donate something, leave it.” My friend ended with this: “By my place 3 days ago a lady was passing by, yelling, ‘Tamales, 2 per person for free.’ Senora Patty, this kind of things make my heart feel good.”

We in America could learn from our Southern neighbors.

Proverbs 6:6-8 encourages us to learn our saving habits from the lowly ant: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” The Bible has much to say about saving. For one, our money is not ours; it is God’s. In times such as this, how nice would it be to help our neighbors because we had “stored” some provisions and not lived above our means? Instead, I’ve met too many Americans who save only to relax when their working days are over. A leisurely “Retirement” becomes their payoff, yet even Jesus admonished the person whose goal was to save in order to have a comfy life instead of taking care of real needs as a thank-you for God’s provisions given to them.

In Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus shares a parable about a rich man who had so many crops, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store his grain and goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Christians, saving for retirement should not be self-centered. It should be the time when we devote ourselves to serving others.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that we live in the United States where businesses can be saved and families can eat because of the bail-out. I just hope that when this virus is over, we all might rethink our financial priorities and learn from the lowly ant…the wise, working, lowly ant.

Horse Blinders for Humans

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom by Carolyn Tucker

Once when I was a kid at home and my Dad and I were watching a movie on TV, he said, “The reason I like Westerns is because I like to look at the horses.“ I found myself doing the same thing when I recently watched “The Magnificent Seven.” This great classic starts off with a funeral procession led by two horses pulling the hearse. The horses have blinders on their eyes, so they can only see what’s straight ahead.

Whether you like to think about it or not, you’re on your way to eternity every day. There are many distractions along the journey and we ought to have blinders too. I’m not suggesting you stick your head in the sand like an ostrich, because you need to know what’s going on so you can pray and stand against the evil in the world. But, blinders help you stay focused on what’s important on your trip to eternity.

A blinder is a piece of tack that prevents the horse from seeing to the side. Blinders keep the horse’s eyes focused on what’s ahead, rather than what is at the side or behind. Blinders prevent the horse from becoming distracted and stops him from losing concentration on the direction he is headed. Race horses wear blinders, but trail-riding horses do not. On a trail ride, some horses “see boogers” in the bushes and get spooked. This is when Dad’s advice pays off — I remember him cautioning me to “Never go to sleep ridin’ a horse.“ What he meant was that I needed to pay attention, stay alert, and ride with an expectancy that anything could happen at any time. Be prepared, be sharp, be on the lookout.

The devil would like for you to be “asleep in the saddle.” He’s hoping you don’t know the following scripture: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8,9 NLT). There’s a difference between being scared and being prepared. Your job is to use common sense and wisdom from God’s Word, and use your faith.

Stay focused on keeping the main thing the main thing. Don’t give in to the temptation of following a rabbit trail. If you haven’t already, put on your blinders, because the devil is tossing all the garbage and boogers he can into your path. He hates you. He is not the king of fun; he is the king of stealing, killing, and destroying. Don’t get sidetracked with the cares or nonessentials of life. “But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things….” (Mark 4:19 NLT). Don’t let your guard down that’s protecting your spiritual heart.

It’s imperative that you keep your priorities straight. In Philippians 1:9,10 Paul says: “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.“

The Key: Blinders are not just for horses. Order yours today.

Warnings by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

The DVR on my television remote allows me to watch previously-aired shows, avoid commercials, fast forward and rewind. It is my new electronic BFF.

Last week, while watching the recorded version of The Voice, severe storm warnings appeared in that rolling strip of news that scrolls across the bottom of the show (technically referred to as a “news ticker” or a “crawler”). The viewers were to “expect damage to roofs and siding.” I could read where the storm was headed and how fast it was moving. “People and animals outdoors will be injured.” Serious stuff.

Had I been watching the show live, I would have taken the alerts seriously. Patio furniture would be moved so as not to blow away; tornado preparations would start (Put on shoes with hard soles; ready my computer/phone/flashlight to be taken to the basement, etc.). But in this case, the danger had passed. This storm alert had come from the previous week. There was no stress. I knew the ending. No damage to our area was forthcoming.

Let’s face it. We don’t live in a DVR world, and warnings need to be taken seriously.

  • Read medicine labels for side effects.
  • Smoking is bad for your health.
  • Beware of curve ahead.
  • Wear a mask and socially distance.

Others cause us to wonder why they are necessary.

  • Do not submerge electrical appliance in water.
  • Danger–Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw.

The list goes on and on, some carrying harsher consequences than others.

There is one warning, however, we are foolish to ignore, and the good news is, if we have made Jesus our Lord, we don’t need to be stressed about its outcome. He will come again. We don’t know when; we just know we need to live as though it could be today. John 14:3 brings us Jesus’ words to his followers: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

So, how does Jesus take Christians to himself? Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the LORD himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever.

Like the alert on the television ticker, there is no stress for the Christian. We have read the “Manual” and know the ending. As the renowned preacher D.L. Moody once said, “Some day you will read in the paper that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”

Woo-hoo! Like the television crawler, Christians can rest assured that there is nothing to fear; they have heeded the warnings of Scripture and know that the only thing ahead of them is the glory of Heaven. I pray that you all are living each day as if it were your last.

Love Makes the Changes

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom by Carolyn Tucker

When my Dad brought “me and Mom” home from that California hospital in February 1958, my parents understood that I was a newborn baby and couldn’t do anything for myself. They didn’t have grandiose expectations that I could keep my room clean, set the table, or read a book. They were just happy they had a baby to love and nurture. At the appropriate time, I eventually developed the ability to do what was expected.

You and Jesus have a lot of work to do together. You should be thankful you don’t have to “white-knuckle” it by yourself to get through everyday life. The work I’m referring to is “working out your own salvation.“ Only God has the unique blueprint for your life, so be careful if some well-meaning Christian comes to you with their instructions as to what you should do and how you should act.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NKJV). In order to mature in our Christian walk, we must renew our hearts and minds in the Word of God and come into His presence with an attitude of reverence. This scripture is not indicating that you can gain salvation through works (doing good deeds). It means once you become a believer in Christ Jesus, you don’t just sit on a stump while waiting to die and go to heaven. If you want to grow up spiritually, you’ll have to listen and obey God‘s voice.

In 1972, there was a popular song written and recorded by Tom T. Hall. I haven’t heard it for many years, but it impressed me in my high school days. “Me and Jesus” hit the country charts with a tremendous gospel message. Some of the lyrics are: “Me and Jesus got our own thing goin’…Me and Jesus got it all worked out.” The pastor, bishop, or priest can’t make you holy or get you to heaven. It all boils down to the fact that accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is when you really begin to live a life of purpose. His love for you will gently and precisely guide you in all your ways (see Proverbs 3:5,6).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). God is love, and love is what makes the changes in your new life in Christ. God loves you, and you love God and you want to please him in every area. Here’s the first verse to Mr. Hall’s song: “I know a man who once was a sinner. I know a man who once was a drunk. I know a man who once was a loser; He went out one day and made an altar out of a stump.”

When God fills you with His love and His Spirit, you begin walking together to become holy. I once heard someone say that no one is holy but God. That sounds nice, but it’s not true. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ’Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15,16 NKJV). God never tells you to do something you can’t do. By trusting Jesus as your helper, becoming holy is part of your spiritual maturity. Christians should know and believe that with Jesus all things are possible.

In John 15:5 NLT, Jesus says: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.“ I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a do-nothing. I’m going to stick to the Vine and allow God’s love to make the needed changes in my life.

The Key: Work (cooperate) with Jesus so you’ll mature and become what you ought to be.