Category Archives: Opinion

Down by the Creek Bank by Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom

 

When my daughter and son were young enough to play outside without hands-on supervision, yet not old enough to be entirely trusted, they played within the boundary of our fenced-in yard. As they grew older and proved themselves to be trustworthy, they were allowed to leave our property and play down by the creek bank just west of our house. Mariam and Aaron learned about nature and mastered the art of catching crawdads by placing a cup behind them as they shifted into reverse when threatened. I could always depend on the kids to return home whenever I blasted my athletic whistle. Because of their maturity and obedience, they were continuously rewarded (blessed) with the fun of expanded freedom.

Our heavenly Father is kindly watching our steps of obedience and disobedience. He watched the steps of the Israelites as they wondered all over the wilderness for 40 years. As a test, He gave them simple instructions on how to collect the miracle manna. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow My instructions‘” (Exodus 16:4 NLT). By their disobedient actions when collecting the manna, they proved they didn’t think God’s voice was important. They also proved that they weren’t trustworthy.

As believers, most of us are willing to do great things for God, but few are willing to do little things for Him. But God tests us in the little things first and if we flunk that simple test, we can’t be promoted to bigger things. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke 16:10 NLT).

Christ followers need to make the wise decision to start obeying God’s instructions in the little things. If we won’t obey the gentle voice of God and do little stuff, we can’t be promoted to bigger stuff because of our spiritual immaturity. We pray, “O Lord, what do You want me to do? I’ll do whatever You tell me to do,” thinking it will be something glorious in the limelight. Then when He gives us a small task and we ignore His voice because it’s not what we expected, or appears to be unimportant, we get to stay in spiritual kindergarten.

What are examples of little things? Picking up trash as you walk down the hall at work, not parking in the handicapped stall when you’re able-bodied, being kind to harried cashiers, reaching out to people the Lord has put on your heart, etc. Small acts of obedience are big in God’s eyes. “For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me” (Matthew 25:35,36 NLT). If you haven’t heard God tell you to do something specific lately, He’s probably still waiting for you to do the last thing He told you to do. God will give you greater responsibilities once you follow His previous instructions.

The Key: Stay within the boundary of God’s authority so you can hear and obey His voice and be blessed.

Local Heroines and Heroes by Gregg Motley

Gregg Motley. President of the Regional Economic Development, Inc. Submitted photo.

 

In previous columns, I have mentioned the importance of leadership as a critical ingredient in the success of a community, and we do have some men and women in our county that are leaders. The citizens that I consider heroic are making important time, talent and treasure investments in our community. Here are a few projects that I consider of particular significance:

Sleep Inn. This project, mostly funded by local investors, beautified an entry corner to Fort Scott and our historical district. It also gave us a newer hospitality facility that leaves many of our visitors with a positive impression of our community.

Fort Scott Munitions. This was a big investment by a local family in another blighted property at the entrance to Fort Scott. While they are putting the property to great use, they may never fully recover all the money they invested in the property to make it usable.

Hole in the Wall. Yes, this project had some public funding, but local investors took a risk and developed an attractive building out of an eyesore across from the National Historical Site. Remember the concrete blocks and poles on Scott Avenue?

E3/Common Grounds. A large amount of money has been put into this project by a local couple, restoring an important intersection in the historical district, and attracting several new businesses into the development.

Sharky’s and Luther’s. This investment in a downtown building, and renting another important landmark, has created an attractive gathering place for local people and tourists alike.

Bandera Stone. This Bourbon County company announced a new showroom location in Uniontown. This is a much needed investment in the Western side of our county.

Dairy Queen. Another local couple making a big investment to build a brand new building on South Main that is accessible by many who are just passing through. Our county has realized a nice increase in sales tax collection at the expense of this couple’s increased overhead.

Eddy Street. Two local men bought a couple of blighted properties in the 300 block, west of the Presbyterian Church, and built two new houses that are a significant upgrade to the neighborhood. About two years after they were built, the men sold the properties at a loss. Heroically, they embarked on the project, not to make money, but to make our community a better place.

Good Neighbor Action Team. This group of community leaders have made countless personal investments in Bourbon County communities, usually below the radar. Yard clean ups, paint jobs, wheel chair ramps, and other community improvements have been performed dozens of times by these generous Bourbon County stars.

The list could go on. Investments like these by local people are the lifeblood of our community, and represent commitments above and beyond the call of duty. It is another goal of Bourbon County REDI to help facilitate future investments like these all over our county, not only by local heroes and heroines, but by newcomers as well.

Reflections on Christmas by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

In 2022, I hope to follow the advice in that scripture. Take this past Christmas holiday, for example. I will reminisce about how my husband led us in sweet devotions, and we purposefully prayed for individual families, instead of being sad because some relatives could not attend.

I will think of our white elephant gift exchange and be grateful I ended up with a lovely tray instead of the pair of high heels I previously had given my granddaughter which were chic and stylish but squished my toes, instead of how she obviously couldn’t wait to give them away.

I will be grateful for aching thighs the day after walking the hills my children and grandchildren jumped on their dirt bikes, even though I could not bend over to pick up a kitchen towel I dropped.

I will think of all we learned about each other after drawing random questions out of a bowl, including how one person answered “If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would it be and why?” with “Jesus and Hitler.” (She redeemed herself with her reasoning: She wanted to see how Hitler would react when he faced the one who died for his sins).

I will remember how all the women spent an afternoon together making our favorite cookie recipes to take to the three local Afghanistan families, even though I failed to spray oil on the cookie sheet of my first batch and only a few survived.

I will think of the beautiful 45-degree weather that allowed us to have a weenie roast, instead of the sleet that had to be chiseled off our windshields the next day on our drive to the airport.

I will recall how the women thumped the men in the highly competitive marathon of Marbles and Jokers (4-1, but who’s counting?) instead of how some of the men acted like babies when they lost.

I will never forget how much everyone enjoyed the Christmas games I found on the internet (like the Alphabet Game where, in 15 minutes, you list as many Christmas words as you can for each letter) and how competitive everyone was to win the prizes, instead of how argumentative they were when I wouldn’t accept their answers.

As my son, Adam, put it, “We should have known that the only answers Mom would accept were words from the Bible. We could have put Jehoshaphat under ‘J’ and she would have found a way that related to Christmas.” (Really? “Bed” is not a Christmas word, even though you sleep in one, waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, and “Oh” doesn’t count just because it starts the song “Oh Christmas Tree.”) I. WAS. A. FAIR. JUDGE.

I will think of those who have survived Covid and those who have gone to Heaven over the holidays because of it and will be reminded of the need to tell everyone I meet about Jesus.

And I will think of how every single moment gives me a chance to follow the advice of Philippians 4:8. I pray I can live up to that resolution. I should have known that, within a week, my 2022 resolution would be tested to the max.

Hide and Theek by Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom

My daughter Mariam had asked if I could watch the girls while she attended a doula-client appointment.

Lydia Mae is 7 years old, Felicity 5, and Vivienne 2. When I entered their house, all three granddaughters greeted me with smiles and hugs.

Immediately, Vivienne looked at me and said, “I want to play hide and theek.“ Felicity focused her big green eyes on mine and warned, “She can only count to four, so you better hide quick.” Vivienne started counting and I dashed to the bathroom, got in the tub, and stood behind the open bathroom door. After counting, Vivienne chose not to look in the bathroom and headed down the hall. Lydia Mae saw me through the crack in the door and coaxed Vivienne into the bathroom. She entered, walked straight to the toilet, and looked in. I then heard Lydia Mae exclaim, “She won’t be in the toilet.”

Vivienne was simply covering all the bases because she was determined to find me…wherever I might be.

Many scriptures tell us to seek God, however, I don’t believe He’s hiding. “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT).

All who really want God will find Him. As believers, we should have a continuous lifelong desire to revere and worship God. Seeking God means studying His Word, listening for His voice, praying, and obeying.

The Seeker,“ written and recorded by Dolly Parton, was released in 1975 and peaked at #2 on the U.S. Country singles chart. She shared that this song was her heart-to-heart “talk with God.“ Some of the lyrics are: “I am a seeker and You are a teacher, You are a reacher so reach down. Reach out and lead me, guide me, and keep me in the shelter of Your care each day. ‘Cause I am a seeker and You are a keeper. You are the Leader won’t You show me the way.“ The songwriter may have used the following scripture as her foundational inspiration: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need” (Luke 12:31 NLT).

I’m all for reading good books in order to gain insight into areas that need improvement or further understanding. But if believers are not reading and obeying The Good Book as our #1 resource, we’re headed for trouble.

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure My commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5 NLT).

God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. However, the following scripture states the reason why we may not have certain things: “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2 AMP). He promises to give wisdom and understanding to those humble enough to ask.

If believers could truly comprehend that wisdom is of greater value than money or stuff, we could be walking in high cotton.

God’s children need wisdom to live victoriously in Christ, so seek His face and ask for insight and understanding.

The Key: Be a lifelong seeker of God and you’ll have everything you need.

New Tax Information by Gregg Motley

Gregg Motley. President of the Regional Economic Development, Inc. Submitted photo.

New Tax Information

Tax and population data is out for the State of Kansas, and the news is not great for the Southeast region (“SEK”). Take a look at the following chart which compares recent statistics of ten SEK counties:

2020

SEK CO

Ave. Levy

Assessed Valuation

RE Tax Collected

Total Indebtedness

State Sales & Use Tax

Pop.

Pop. Change Fr: 2010

Allen

165.46

$146,805,344

$24,290,135

$75,368,802

$13,591,758

12,526

-6.3%

Andersn

157.31

$102,604,431

$16,140,605

$56,970,915

$6,753,171

7,836

-3.3%

Bourbon

177.71

$110,449,986

$19,628,242

$74,703,182

$12,359,701

14,360

-5.4%

Chrokee

126.63

$183,227,294

$23,201,518

$89,831,807

$13,122,232

19,362

-10.4%

Crawfrd

140.53

$283,005,938

$39,771,012

$103,816,059

$39,673,559

38,242

-0.4%

Labette

182.10

$140,643,679

$25,611,206

$77,859,089

$17,756,922

20,184

-6.6%

Linn

114.72

$276,085,698

$31,672,158

$55,630,275

$7,384,659

9,591

-0.7%

Montgy

168.61

$319,796,651

$53,919,647

$178,713,713

$32,637,872

31,486

-11.2%

Neosho

184.67

$131,908,705

$24,359,925

$131,369,383

$18,528,447

15,904

-3.7%

Woodsn

170.58

$39,443,799

$6,728,368

$1,703,681

$1,860,797

3,183

-5.9%

Average

158.832

$173,397,153

$26,532,282

$84,596,691

$16,366,912

17,267

-5.4%

The bad news is that SEK loses about 83 people a year, about 8 of which move out of Bourbon County. The good news is that Bourbon County had the highest average levy a few years ago, and now is down to 3rd out of the 10 counties; our levy has been lowered slightly in recent years, while surrounding counties have continued to increase theirs. Additionally, our countywide debt is lower than the average SEK county.

Notice that two of the three counties with the lowest average levies experienced the lowest percentage of population loss. The exception is Cherokee County, which is experiencing other cultural issues; additionally, their levy is low because their assessed valuation is relatively high.

The two challenges ahead for Bourbon County are to raise our total assessed valuation by attracting new construction, and continuing to lower the mill levy until we are not in the upper half of this list. We cannot think about competing with the rest of Kansas and Western Missouri for economic development if we do not compare well with our neighbors in SEK. These two objectives will be the focus of Bourbon County REDI in the coming years.

Missing the Obvious by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

At this year’s Christmas family reunion, we played the “Name That Song” game. Twenty-four individual, cartoon-graphic images were printed on a single piece of paper, each representing a different Christmas carol, and points were awarded for the couple with the most correctly-named songs within a ten-minute period.

For example, one picture showed “O’s” stacked as a Christmas tree. The correct answer? “Oh Christmas tree.” Most weren’t quite so easy. This was one that caused problems: ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. As I walked from room to room, a twenty-two-year-old couple kept reading those letters aloud…over and over again.

One time through should be sufficient, but my granddaughter, Britney, and her boyfriend, Cole, could not figure it out. “There is no ‘L.’ There must be a clue in that somewhere.”

They had answered much more difficult pictures but had completely missed this one. How was that possible? When time was up and we congregated to hear the correct answers, they could not believe that they had failed to answer something so obvious.

“We kept saying ‘no L’ but never put it together that the answer was ‘Noel.’” Another couple had done likewise.

Have you ever missed the obvious? I sure have. I don’t see the Christmas tree farm for the firs.

That’s what happened when, following a Sunday service one morning, a church congregant asked the pastor this question: “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, which book would it be, and why?” The pastor answered with his “obvious”: The Bible because “it would give me spiritual strength to get through the challenge of being alone on a desert island.”

He asked his questioner what he would choose. The answer was immediate. “I would want a book titled ‘How to Build a Boat.'” The pastor realized his mistake. After all, they were in a church when the question was asked. Surely a spiritual answer was expected.

Unfortunately, the pastor missed the obvious. If God sent that marooned man a Bible, he probably would have remained on the island. While it may not have cost much for the pastor to miss the obvious, it can cost us everything.

Following Jesus’ death, he appeared to two disciples on their way home from his execution. Downtrodden, they were appalled when Jesus asked them why they were so sad. After all, everyone knew that the one they believed would be their king had been crucified. Who wouldn’t be heartbroken?

It’s a Biblical mystery as to how they didn’t recognize the Messiah until he later broke bread with them at which time their eyes were open and Jesus’ resurrection became real to them.

Over the holidays, a granddaughter said that she wondered how many times she, as a child, had missed what God was doing in her life, how many times He saved her from disaster or even favored her but she took credit. I told her that I think that when we get to Heaven, we all will be overwhelmed by stories God shares about how much He was involved in our lives, and we never recognized it or gave Him credit.

I pray that 2022 is filled with opportunities to become aware of all the ways God is working in our lives. Just being aware will help us not miss the obvious.

Letter to the Editor: Allen Schellack

On behalf of the Salvation Army, I have been truly amazed at the generosity of the contributions received this year. Because of you, the wonderful people of Bourbon County, we have raised $11,398.00, which goes to help our neighbors here in Bourbon County. Since our local partnership with the Salvation Army began in 2015, this was our best year ever.

Thank you for those who donated through our Red Kettles outside of Walmart, to those who gave at our mini-kettles at 5 Corners and Dairy Queen, and to those who mailed in checks. No mattter the size of your donation, whether it be pocket change, you demonstrate that you are willing to help others

Of course, this would not be possible without the numerous individuals and families who came out multiple times, our school and civic groups, as well as the Bourbon County Sheriffs Dept standing in front of Walmart ringing the bells for several evenings.

The Salvation Army is here for you and your neighbors. Because of your giving, The Salvation Army can continue to help your neighbors with Disaster Relief, Rent and Utilities, prescriptions, temporary lodging, gasoline for work and doctors appointments, plus other miscellaneous needs. This is money that will stay in Bourbon County to help those in need for the next year.

Next year, I would like to invite you to come and ring the bells and help our neighbors. Each year, people come to help and return the following year. You will find that it is truly a blessing. Thank you again for your service and generosity for helping The Salvation Army in “Doing The Most Good.”

Allen Schellack

Fort Scott Compassionate Ministries

Bourbon County Salvation Army Extension Unit

Letter to the Editor: Patrick Schmidt

 

In the Navy, I worked to defend our country.

From Officer Candidate School to my years spent onboard
the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN-76), I was prepared to fight and die to protect America from any threat we encountered.

I swore to God that I would support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

If you had asked me on January 5, last year what I’d be doing a year later, running for Congress would not have been my answer.

January 6 changed that. I witnessed firsthand, a mob of domestic terrorists launch the first siege of our Capitol since the War of 1812.

Never did I think a defeated President peddling his “Big Lie,” would sic a mob of lawless rioters on the Vice President and Congress.

As a Naval Intelligence officer, I was stationed in Washington D.C. on January 6.

I watched the lynch mob descend on the Capitol. I saw them battling with police screaming “Hang Mike Pence!”

I saw them breach the police lines, battering officers valiantly trying to hold their lines.

Some bore the symbols of hatred this country defeated 77 and 157 years ago.

I witnessed the first violence ever perpetrated at the
certification of a Presidential election in our more than 245-year history.

When the smoke cleared and the mob was evicted from the Capitol I was shocked at the subsequent political cowardice. Rather than
rally to the defense of the Constitution and condemn evil, I saw a political capitulation.

More than 140 Republicans voted to perpetuate the Big Lie and try to derail the democratic election of the new president.

At that moment I knew our Democracy was in peril and I needed to do something to defend it.

My duty to my country was to return home after transitioning to the U.S. Navy Reserve and run for Congress.

The current Representative, who supported the attack and peddles conspiracy theories cannot be trusted to represent Kansas in Congress.

Our Constitution is in jeopardy and needs patriots to defend the rule of law. Law and order must be maintained. We cannot allow mobs to overrun our democracy and threaten the rule of law.

Far too many veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we can settle our political disputes with elections, not with the threat of a lawless mob. We’ve sacrificed far too much to let the mob win.

As your Representative, I will do everything to ensure our experiment in democracy continues, and, as President Reagan said, “America remains the bright shining city on the hill,” a beacon of hope for all the world.

 

Patrick Schmidt

Sharpshooters Don’t Miss the Mark By Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom

 

Several years ago my son Aaron decided to pursue a concealed carry permit. After completing the classroom instruction, it was time to prove his proficiency with a handgun. All he had to do was shoot about 30 rounds anywhere into the silhouette. After shooting the target, the concealed carry instructor asked Aaron if he would like to help teach the next class because he had hit the center X every time.

Believers need to make sure we’re doing our best to stay on target. In today’s culture it’s easy to get sidetracked from pursuing God and practicing holy living. The apostle Paul instructs the Church in Philippi, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9 NLT). On what are you fixing your thoughts and sights?

Christians are to have a different mindset from unbelievers. Determining and doing the right thing is not always the popular or easy thing. “It is quite true that the way to live a godly life is not an easy matter. But the answer lies in Christ…. ” (1 Timothy 3:16 TLB). If we aren’t intentionally aiming at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness of heart, the odds are excellent for missing the mark every time. Living a godly life in Christ is not a haphazard coincidence or a lucky shot in the dark.

The Old Testament Israelites had turned their backs on the one true living God and were asking a good-for-nothing idol to tell them what to do. Their idols had misdirected them and caused them to think and live foolishly. Almighty God was the only One who knew how to help, guide, and love them. Hosea 4:11 TLB: “Wine, women, and song have robbed my people of their brains.“ The Israelites had really missed the mark when they deserted God and aimed their prayers to a worthless idol.

God didn’t want the Israelites’ sacrifices, He wanted their love. He didn’t want their offerings, He wanted them to know Him. God hasn’t changed; He wants the same from us today. “Come, let us return to the Lord. In just a short time He will restore us so that we may live in His presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him” (Hosea 6:1a,2,3a NLT). Are you currently in pursuit of knowing Him?

Believers are to look through the scope and line up our lives in the crosshairs of His Word. Perpetual distractions can mess up our aim and cause us to miss the target. “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (James 4:7,8a NLT). The closer we get to God, the more He is magnified and the smaller we become. John the Baptist said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 NKJV).

Let love be your greatest aim….“ (1 Corinthians 14:1a TLB). We know that God is love, therefore, we could also say, “Let God be your greatest aim.”

The Key: If your sights are set on knowing God intimately, your aim is right on target!

Who Stole Christmas? by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Have you ever heard of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?”

“No.”

Jenn, my daughter-in-law, explained the plot of the movie while Javed, an Afghanistan refugee who speaks fluent English, listened.

Jenn ended with this: “I am the Grinch.” Javed was confused…as you probably are also. It seems that Adam, Jenn’s husband, had asked Jenn what he could do to help her while she worked to re-settle the three Afghanistan families in Fort Scott.

So, earlier that day, Jenn had sent Adam a text, asking that he deliver the totes of Christmas decorations from their house to their E3 business so she could decorate the Common Ground coffee shop.

After all, Santa Claus was coming there later that evening, and everything needed to look festive.

When it was time to decorate, the totes weren’t where they were supposed to be. Jenn phoned Adam. He, apparently, had “misread” her text and had dropped them off at Hamid (Javed’s brother’s) house.

I, as Adam’s mother, can see how that could happen. After all, “E3” and “Hamel’s house” look so similar in a text, right? Lord, have mercy!

My daughter-in-law hurriedly drove to Hamid’s where she recognized her garland, now suspended from his porch ceiling, and her Common Ground decorations visible in the windows. Hamid speaks limited English, so she asked Javed to interpret, explaining to his brother what had happened and that she needed the decorations back.

Hamid and his wife cracked up with Javed’s explanation of the Grinch story.

They immediately placed the decorations back in their totes and loaded Jenn’s car.

What impressed me most was Jenn’s attitude. She could have bitten Adam’s head off or at least admonished him for being so irresponsible.

Instead, she found a way to bring humor into the situation and to blame herself by using the Grinch story.

Would I have done the same? Uh…no.

Especially if I had 100 other things on my Christmas plate that day like Jenn did (like moving the third Afghanistan family into their home, taking them to Walmart to get needed supplies, packing up to drive to my son’s wedding in Georgia, and decorating Common Ground).

This little “mess-up” cost her time she did not have. Still, she laughed.

Proverbs 15:15 ESV tells us this: All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

I write a lot about laughter because I know it is good for the soul.

Cheerful hearts are contagious, and the benefits of laughter, too numerous to mention here, include a change of anyone’s perspective—even on the Grinchiest of days.

Return to Sender Baby by Carolyn Hayward Tucker

Carolyn Tucker. Submitted photo.

Keys to the Kingdom

I can’t say that I’ve followed in my maternal grandmother’s footsteps down to a T.

Grandma Jennings delivered 13 babies in her lifetime, but two were enough for me. I know Grandma Nan and Grandpa Lawrency loved every one of those youngins, but I doubt that every pregnancy was pure joy. I do know that she said, “I’ve never had an easy delivery.” Her first baby, Thomas, was born in 1899, the twins Roy and Troy in 1908, and the last and only girl, Bertha Mae (my mother), was born in 1923. Babies pretty much rock your world, so the Jennings house was rocking for 24 straight years! Babies are priceless, lovable, precious, and nonreturnable.

Many years ago, a baby boy was born with a unique “riches-to-rags-to-riches” story. This miraculous baby enabled all the poor people of the world to become rich. “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though He was so very rich, yet to help you He became so very poor, so that by being poor He could make you rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 TLB). God’s only begotten Son came from heaven’s riches to a poor broken world to become their Savior. When His salvation mission was finished, he returned to the riches of heaven and is now seated at His Father’s right hand. This perfect one-of-a-kind plan of redemption is free to everyone and supplies unspeakable riches for the believer.

But [Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross“ (Philippians 2:7-8 NKJV). Jesus was willing to lay aside His deity in order to save the lost people who were stumbling around in the darkness of sin. “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine” (Isaiah 9:2 NLT). Thank God, Jesus is still the light of the whole world.

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil: hatred, bitterness, fear, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness, strife, pride, divisions, wickedness, rebellion, addictions, depression, sorrow, etc. He also came to bring hope, joy, healing to the broken hearted, peace, love, kindness, mercy, grace, comfort, goodness, gentleness, self-control, patience, etc. Jesus was extreme in the fulfillment of His mission. He came to earth as a poor helpless babe, but left as the victorious Lion of Judah holding the keys of death and the grave.

All people should give glory, honor, and thanks to God for the matchless gift of His Son. But they’re not — this Wonderful Gift has been rejected and ridiculed by those who refuse to know Him. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NLT).

God gives benefits to His children, as stated in Psalm 103:1-5. He also gives riches to His children according to Philippians 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Jesus accomplished His “mission impossible” in extreme love, and we are rich because of His obedience to the Father. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NLT).

The Key: Jesus was the only baby that was stamped “Return to Sender.“

Move to the Country?

Gregg Motley. President of the Regional Economic Development, Inc. Submitted photo.

 

I grew up in a small town, but moved to the city to find fame and fortune (I found neither), which is a common American story in the last 80 years. About 13 years ago, I took a “temporary” consulting job in Southeast Kansas, and fell in love again with the rural lifestyle I had left behind all those years ago. It wasn’t long before my wife (who also had rural roots) and I left city living behind, found our permanent home, and rediscovered country living. We are loving life in Bourbon County and have purchased our retirement home here.

Is this becoming a megatrend in America?

Yes, according to Mark Smither, a strategy expert for Paulsen, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota marketing and research firm. “What accelerated it,” he said in a recent article published online by Agri-Pulse, “was the pandemic, then technology, then employers saying, ‘You can do your job remotely.’” According to his online article entitled, Rural leaders look for innovative ways to attract city folks to the country, his confidence comes from a panel study he did in the summer of 2020 based on a coast to coast survey about relocation.

One encouraging finding of the survey was that 68% of urban dwellers said they would “definitely” consider changing jobs or employers to move to a more rural area, and another 20% said they “probably” would. Coming from the Kansas City metro area, I believe these numbers, knowing that most of my friends and acquaintances were also transplants from rural America, and missed the lifestyle.

It appears that the early winners of this population shift are “micropolitan” areas, which are cities of 10,000 to 50,000. These are people looking for more densely populated rural areas, with scenic qualities, and proximity to a major metropolitan area; especially those with outdoor recreational activities and amenities.

What will it take to attract some of these migrants to more rural areas? According to the article, broadband access, a community college, and quality infrastructure are the keys.

Bourbon County has all the potential in the world to reverse negative population trends, and take advantage of what might be a significant move by Americans out of our major cities. We have scenic qualities (well, for Kansas), proximity to Kansas City and Joplin, outdoor recreational amenities, improving broadband access, and a community college. Our infrastructure definitely needs work.

Bourbon County REDI will be pushing to organize a countywide strategic planning effort so we can deploy our scarce resources in such a way to take advantage of changes that may be coming in American demographics. We want all of Bourbon County to thrive, grow, and preserve what we believe to be a high-quality way of life.