Thursday, December 31, 2015

True Worship

Many people believe that going to church is worship and it can be worship. One can also attend a church worship service and not worship God at all even though they go through the rituals. Private personal devotions can be either worship or an act of piety for its own sake. This is a very narrow concept of worship of God. So what constitutes true worship?

I like the broader found in the "Two Great Commandments" found in the Gospel according to Matthew chapter 22:37-39. Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and first commandment, and the second is like it; "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.

Worshiping God is much richer than anything found in a worship service at a church. True worship of God involves our being in a relationship with God with every thing we have and are mind, body and spirit. To worship God means to have my whole being oriented toward God in my emotions, desires and activities at all times.

The true worship of God has two objects God and neighbor. When we love our neighbor we worship God indirectly. These two parts of worship are interrelated for you can not hate your neighbor and love God at the same time. When we truly worship God we live our whole lives in the presence of God. Every aspect of life even our most personal relationships are part of our loving God.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Way of All Flesh

This year we have endured too many family funerals and we have one more to take care of before the end of the year. The older I get the more common these life events become. The term “The Way of All Flesh” refers to the fact that all who are born also die. This is part of the master’s plan and I am comfortable with the fact that at some point my physical body will cease to function and my soul will return to the creator of the universe.

"Doctors think that you only call palliative care when your patient is about to die," says Diane Meier, M.D., director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "Patients don't know what it is and don't demand it. They don't realize they have a right to care focused on improving function and quality of life."

As a pastor I have watched many people go through the process of moving from their physical life to their spiritual life. Some people make that journey suddenly because of accident or a swift illness. Others go slowly with advanced age or by way of a slow painful illness. When it comes to the later most doctors don’t like to give up on finding a cure and that is their training.

We each do have a choice to make now before the event of our death is close and emotional. Do I want to fight for life to the bitter end no matter the cost or pain? Do I want to choose the conditions where I can say enough is enough let me go? I have already done that by creating and signing my “Advance Directives” and informed my family and my doctor.

It is your right and your choice, either way you want, to choose how you prefer to die given a terminal illness. The time to make that decision is now while you have a clear mind and are in control. My death and yours is not a matter of "IF" but "When and how."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where was Jesus born?

In the Gospels Jesus is born in Bethlehem and that is all we really know for sure. People over the centuries have assumed that Jesus was born in a stable but the Gospels do not say that. People have added to the story the stable with cows and donkeys but they are not noted in the scripture. It tells us in Luke only that they laid him in a manger but that does not necessarily mean in a cave or a wooden stable out back of the house. That could have happened but we are not given that detail. A manger could have been brought inside a home.

We are told that there was no room in the "inn" as though the motel six was full. Many people in the Jerusalem area had a second story that they rented out to travelers especially during the high holy days when a lot of people made the journey to the temple. It was a good way to make extra money. Remember the upper room that Jesus and his disciples used during Passover? So the rented space or inn may have been full but seeing that Mary was about to deliver the home owner/inn keeper may have welcomed them into the lower part of the house.

Some first century homes also had a place for animals in the lower section of the house, see the picture below of what it might have looked like.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Words of Christmas

We can all see the sights and sounds of Christmas all around us carols and decorations fill our senses. We can also speak the words of Christmas, words that carry power and feeling. Most of us are most comfortable with the Familiar words like family, friends, fellowship, feasting, trees, lights, surprise and memories.

There are also Bible words like love one another, love our neighbor, love the stranger, love our enemies, and love the Lord with all your heart. These all come from the love God shared with us on that first Christmas.

Then there are the Season's words like peace, service, sharing, gifts, fairness, honesty, greetings, and have a happy. These are words that flow like a gentle stream from Thanksgiving through New Years.

At last there is the Supreme word: Christ, without whom there would be no Christmas. Preachers always want to remind us to keep the Christ in Christmas and I am no different. When ever you are speaking the words of Christmas remember that one supreme word that gives us all the rest.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

John The Baptizer

Growing up I remember bible stories about John the Baptist as a crazy Jewish wild man wandering in the desert. So strange was this preacher dressed in camel hair cinched with a leather belt eating locust and honey. So many people came to hear him preach and be baptized thatI often wondered why they would do that. Well we have a lot of crazy preachers that people flock to today so we have not changed all that much.

As a student of bible history I later discovered the real reason that so many people, including the elite, went out to the Jordan to hear John preach and be baptized. It was so unusual for ordinary people to be baptized that John was known as John the Baptizer. Because the ceremony was mostly for the ritual cleansing of the priest and for converts to Judaism it was most unusual ordinary people to be baptized. Yet here was John baptizing lots of people every day and not for ritual cleansing but for forgiveness of sins.

The Gospel According to Luke gives us some clues in the first chapter when we are introduced to the father of John the Baptist who was Zechariah a Priest who worked in the Temple. His wife Elizabeth is also a descendant of the tribe of Aaron the first high priest of Israel. That by itself makes John the Baptist a priest of Israel by birth so he was not just any wild man preaching in the desert.

As if that is not enough Luke’s description of what Zechariah was doing is most intriguing for the student of bible history who pays close attention. It puts Zechariah in the sanctuary of the Lord alone while all the others are out side. You may read that as the Holy of Holies where he offers an incense offering. WE note that because of his encounter with the angel his stay in the Holy of Holies was a lot longer than usual and the other priest outside were wondering what was going on. They could not go in to find out because only the High Priest was allowed in there.

This tells us that John was the son of a high priest and would have been in line to become a high priest him self. Truly he was no ordinary man preaching to the people. Even though the Gospels don't say so, John likely spent time as a priest serving in the temple. So one can imagine the talk of the people when the son of a former high priest shucks his priestly garb and puts on camel hair to go preach in the wilderness. No wonder they went out to hear him and be baptized.

On a side note we also learn that Mary the mother of Jesus was relative of Elizabeth perhaps a second cousin so that she also was of the house of Aaron and Jesus would be too. Very interesting!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fundamentalism Its Own Religion?

I have been reading David Brooks of the New York Times writing about the Religion of Fundamentalism. Almost all religions have their own fundamentalist groups. They have so much in common that they could be their own religion. I do not mean to paint all people who identify themselves as fundamentalist with the same brush, but most follow the same pattern.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindi fundamentalists see themselves as the "True Faith." They are literalist and are not tolerant of any one who does not think like they do. They lack compassion for those who are different and unwilling to convert. Often, they are willing to kill those who are different, seeing them as a threat to the true religion. Quite often they attack members of their own faith who are moderate.

As one who has studied world religions, it appears to me that fundamentalists become so ridged that they wind up going against the founder of their faith in order to promote the narrow view of their particular group. The preaching of hate and killing in the name of god must be countered by faithful people of all religions who know that the true faith preaches love God, love others, and get the word out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Term God

The Term God

The English word god is generic and can be applied to any deity but it is not the only term that can be used correctly. Every language has it's own word that can be translated into English as god.

French is Dieu
Bosnian is Bog
German is Gott
Italian is Dio
Arabic is Allah
Greek is Theos
Finnish is Jumala

The list goes on and on and no matter what language is used the idea is the same. There are many religions that have many "gods" and three religions that claim only one god.

Jewish, Christian, and Islam all worship the same God that Abraham worshiped.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Faith and Works

I read the Scripture for today in worship. It was from James chapter two. "Faith without works is dead."

How do we apply that idea today? First comes faith and out of our faith in Jesus comes an understanding of how to live a Christ like life. It is easy for a person to say the right words of faith and many do and then do nothing about it. If we truly belong to Jesus we will then do what He calls us to do. Jesus not only taught the Gospel but lived it out as an example. We will help people in need with out being asked. We will love the unlovely with out question and we will be generous with what ever we have.

Today I see people who claim to be Christian doing and saying hateful things when Jesus taught love for all people. I remember in the Gospel of John, the self-righteous religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman caught in the very act of adultery and said to him, "The scripture says this kind of woman must be stoned. Now what do you say?" Jesus said, "Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone." They all went away.

When we do not accept the call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and show hospitality to the stranger, we forget that Jesus said, "When you did it to the least of these you did it to me." In anger many Christians say to turn away people from our country who need our help. When there are millions of refugees in the world seeking a place to live in safety how can Christians turn them away?

It is a chilling thing to read the words in James, "Faith without works is dead."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Marriage License Issue

With the recent issue of marriage license in Kentucky our junior Senator stated that perhaps the state should get out to the marriage license business altogether. I think I agree with that.

Until the mid 1800's the states did not issue marriage licenses at all. It was totally the realm of religions to perform marriages. In the mid 1800's some states began to raise revenue by requiring a license to get marred. That had the advantage of registering the marriage as a legal event. Perhaps divorce lawyers serving as state lawmakers saw an advantage in that. It was not until 1923 that all states required couples to register and get a license to marry.

So here we are today with the state involved in the marriage business and caught up in ways they never dreamed of dealing with when they chose to create a new revenue stream. Any time the government is involved it needs to treat all citizens equally. Drivers license, marriage license, gun license, hunting and fishing license and all the rest are to be open to all citizens on a equal basis.

So our question of the day is does the state really need to be issuing marriage license?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Police and Fire Fighters

Police and other emergency service personal put their lives on the line every time they go to work. Over the more than 40 years of my ministry I have volunteered my services as a chaplain to these services. I am currently a Fire Chaplain but I have also served as a Police Chaplain and Emergency Room Chaplain.

Most of Police and Firefighters are honest hard working people who love what they do and they do it well. They keep us safe and serve the public with out regard to status when the need arises. There are a few who come to work with issues that can create problems when they loose control of their moral compass. This usually happens under a great deal of stress and that is when chaplains can help them. Once they loose control the results can cause a lot of trouble for them, their department and the community. As a country we are dealing with that loss of control. It is not an easy thing to deal with in advance but most departments are working on it all the time.

Pray for them all.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's Next

All through life we move from one stage to another and not always by choice. We start of as infants with almost no choice except to cry when were not happy. The early stages of life are exciting choices around growth and change. Our parents guide us as we go through school and our teen years.

Then it happens - life! As I turned 18 I was faced with the "What is next?" question. What do I do now? How do I do what I want to do? Because of some family issues I choose to Join the Navy and for the next six years the navy made all my choices. Then life changed and I once again had some choices to make.

Where do I live? What kind of career do I choose? I felt the urges to love some one else and that brought on other changes and children. Talk about choices changing your life! When you are responsible for a new life the question of what is next is not always your choice. I am still responsible.

What is next comes at retirement and a set of different choices and then things to choose from is not always good stuff, just necessary stuff. Here we are again asking, "What's Next?"

Monday, August 24, 2015

When Christian Leaders Fail Us

It was all over the news that a priest of a church near my home had abused his position as pastor of the church. He had a lot of child porn on his personal computer including inappropriate pictures of the congregations children. He was a much loved pastor but is now reviled. In this age of awareness how did he think to get away with doing that? His church has changed from covering up for priest to exposing their evil actions.

Human beings often fail to live up to their most important ideals. The failure to realize ideals is often a mixture of apathy, baseness, cynicism, self-interest and ego. Even in our increasingly secular culture there is a conscious desire for people to find a spiritual dimension to their lives. Early Christians were first called the “People of the Way.” Christians are in essence members of a community of faith who follow a definite and certain path of the way of Jesus the Messiah. Church traditions sadly sometimes confuse the issues of following the way of Christ faithfully.

We say amen when something we see or hear confirms our own impression. We also become agitated or furious when something we hear is out of kilter with our personal beliefs. What are the truly basic beliefs of the Christian faith? There is a sense of beauty in the ideals of the total commitment and submission to God, the ideal Christian community, justice and peace.

It is sad that these same ideas are frequently corrupted to justify and legitimize the authoritarian and even brutal actions of people who contend that they are right. We must not confuse the ideal of the Christian faith with its misuse and abuse by people with political or power issues. This problem is not unique to Christianity as other religions are also hurt by mean spirited, power hungry; ego centric people who miss apply the tenets of our faith to their own perverted needs.

We as individual Christians must focus on what the Gospels teach us and seek to truly be people of the way of Jesus. We are each capable of focusing our lives on the teachings of Jesus first and saying AMEN to following those teachings. The way of Jesus was never easy for Jesus calls us to a different way of living than the way of the world. Say amen [ may it be so] and be a follower of the Way of Jesus.

I pray for the healing of that congregation as they deal with the results of a leader who was all too human and failed to live up to even his own Christian ideals. He is now under arrest and will face time in prison where his fellow inmates will not take kindly to his actions.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Interesting Scripture Translations

One of the many things I enjoy about reading Biblical Archaeology Review is some authors come up with a new way to translate a word in the Bible. When I studied New Testament Greek and Hebrew I discovered that English translations leave a lot of room for opinions. Language scholars can come up with a variety of ways to translate one word. How a word is translated can make a significant difference.

So it is with the September/October issue of BAR An author questions what really happened in the garden of Eden when Eve was created. She states that the Hebrew word "tsela" in the context of the story does not mean rib as it is usually translated into English. Adam did not give up his rib for Eve to be created but his "baculum" and I will let you look that up.

Part of her argument is that human males still have an equal number of ribs but they do not have a baculum. Just because a male looses a rib in one generation does not mean that succeeding generations will not have that rib as DNA will still create equal ribs. I got a good laugh out of the article and yet she may be correct but it makes no difference to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Nation of Immigrants

For most of its existence North America did not have humans wandering over the land. Then about fifteen thousand years ago Asians came across the Bering land bridge into what is now Alaska and became the first immigrants into this land. From time to time since then other people from almost every where made it to these shores.

All of us are either descendants of immigrants or are immigrants ourselves. Each group of people have added to the mix that makes us Americans. What a mix it is! We have inter-married or have created babies in such a way that we share a lot of different DNA. This has been a good thing and has proven that there is only one race, the human race.

With this in mind I am amused by the anti-immigration rhetoric going around in this political season. In the American Southwest politicians are calling people from Mexico all kinds of bad names. I remember when we forced a war on Mexico and took their lands the inhabitants were mostly Mexican and native Americans. Anglos were the unwelcome immigrants who didn't bother to learn Spanish.

From the time we founded the USA people have come from all over the world to settle here and help make us what we are. Each new wave of people were met with suspicion and hate. Irish, Italians, Chinese, Poles, Germans and many more met derision and hate from those already established. When ever we act as though the immigrants don't belong here its time to look in the mirror as we are all immigrants.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tough Questions and Answers

Most of us know that if we have questions about faith that we can go to the Bible and find answers. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find the correct answer but we know that the answers are there for us. The correct answer is not always the answer we want to find but there it is for us to deal with.

Some people are very surprised to discover that the Bible also can confront us with questions that we would rather evade. The Bible is capable of asking the kind of questions that slice through the protective veneer that we build up around us. As along as we evade these questions we remain spiritually immature and weak in faith. Actually facing these super tough questions will make us stronger and more aware of our inner spirit.

Spiritual maturity and strength of faith develop out of the process of personally dealing with the difficult and often painful questions about life and faith. Do not be afraid to consider the hard questions about your faith. It is not being weak to ask any question that bothers us. It is instead the way to become stronger when we confront and struggle with our doubts, confusions, fears and lack of understanding.

Some people are afraid to ask questions about faith thinking that they will be showing doubt or lack of faith. God is not afraid of our questions and we should not be fearful either. For our faith to grow stronger we need to confront both the questions and answers that the Bible presents to us. A growing understanding of our relationship with God is available through constant Bible Study, Prayer and Reflection. Open your mind to the power of of the Holy Spirit to lead you in your quest for understanding.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christian Sunday Worship

In an email I was asked why Christians call Sunday the Sabbath when clearly it is Saturday in the bible.

In the very early days of the church the followers of Jesus were all Hebrews. As such they followed the tenants of Jewish worship. For the Hebrew people of Jesus day Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and lasted until sundown on Saturday. Most worship was done in the home or synagogue on Saturday.

For Hebrew Disciples of Jesus they would fulfill their worship as Jews on the Saturday Sabbath. Then at dawn on the first day of the week they would gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. At this worship the Gospel was preached, prayers said, new believers baptized and communion celebrated. As Sunday was a work day then they would go off to work.

Later when Gentiles, that is the non-Jews, joined the growing ranks of the Disciples of Christ they would forgo the Hebrew worship and only attend the Sunday gathering at dawn to celebrate the resurrection. As the percentage of gentile Christians increased First Day or “Lord’s Day” worship became the most common form of Christian practice. Later Christians would begin calling Sunday the Sabbath even though that was not strictly true.

Today most Christians, but not all, practice Christian worship on the first day of the week to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I do every Sunday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

After I Die

I am now in my eighth decade of living on this earth and I know that I am at least half way to the end if not much more. At some point I will breathe my last breath as we all do. I believe that my spirit will return to God and I will not be in the shell that is left behind.

What then?

Recycling has been an important part of my life and in that philosophy I have listed myself as an organ donor for over thirty years. So what ever can be used to enhance the lives of others should be. I have reached an age when not everything is in a condition to be recycled but it can be used for research and that is OK with me.

What ever is left over should be burned and my ashes recycled into the earth to provide new nourishment for plants. If there is something of me that must be buried and forgotten it is my faults and sins. Let them rest!

If I have lived my life in such a way that you wish to remember me you should know that I have believed in paying forward. If I have blessed you remember that and bless others that cross your path. I know that which is really me will live with God forever and the memory of my life will live on in the hearts of those people whom I loved. I am at peace with that!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ups and Downs of being A Mayor

Most of the time I really enjoy being the mayor of a small city. I love meeting people and helping people when I can. I believe in letting people be on their own property as long as they do not cause problems for their neighbors. I do love a peaceful community.

It is that "As long as" clause that gives me a problem. Sometimes neighbors call and lodge a complaint about their neighbor. In previous administrations the city would send a letter of citation that really left people angry. When I became mayor I wanted to give citizens the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they did not know that what they were doing or failing to do, was illegal. I like to check out the facts and then talk to the offender face to face in a polite way.

Most of the time citizens cooperate and correct the situation and all is well. When they get mad to my face and refuse to cooperate that is hard on me. If what they are doing or not doing is a danger to the community I am required by state law to act to enforce the law. Then I must issue a letter citing the law being violated and let them know what will happen if they fail to take care of it in good order. I also pray for them to come around and be helpful.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Question on the Trinity

"Could you explain the Trinity to me please?"

The hymn goes “God in three persons blessed trinity.” What do we mean by that phrase? Most people just shake their heads and say it is a mystery and still others think we Christians worship three gods, which is not true. You will not find the word “Trinity” in the scriptures. For me the easiest way to think about all this is to recognize that there is only one God. Jesus said that. “God is spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth” so this is our starting point.

Humans have a difficult time relating to a god that can not be seen or touched so we want to make pictures or statues to help us. That however is forbidden in the Ten Commandments. The early Christian church struggled with this relationship. They needed to express the different ways they experienced and talked about God. They saw that the one God was doing three things in relating to us and the terms they used were Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Father: God acting in creation to make all things by word of command.

Son: In the man Jesus God put His spirit and saved us from our sins.

Holy Spirit: God created us with our own spirit and contacts us directly as spirit.

The very human concept of Trinity is simply our way of relating to the different ways that God has used and continues using to relate to us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back To School Time

With school starting this week children are streaming back into the class rooms to learn all they can. The summer has been full of trips, relaxing and enjoying the fun in the sun. But now it is time once again to refocus their minds. It is also a good time for the rest of us to also refocus our minds. Some of us have traveled out of the country and some to other parts of the country. Some went fishing and some went to visit family and friends in different parts of the good old USA. Now is a natural time to get back to living at home and get back to weekly worship, Sunday school and Bible studies as part of our focus on faith.

It is ironic that in the age of super fast computers, when our access to knowledge and information exceeds any previous age, that confusion is rampant. It is not the new and improved that we need to seek but the oldest source of wisdom and strength, God’s Word. The words and witness of the prophets of the Old Testament and the saints of the New Testament tell us that faith is more powerful than doubt, that hope is more potent than despair, and that only God’s love can conquer those forces within.

The forty-plus writers of the Bible give us their witness of their growing relationship with God. Their life stories were a lot like ours. Life was a hard struggle then as it is now. Even with advanced technology, our basic struggles are the same. We face the same temptations to sin against God and against other people, just as they did. Some of them obeyed God and were blessed, and some of them turned away from God and paid the price of their folly. We can learn from their successes and mistakes that God is quick to forgive those who repent and love. If you find that life is just too much, turn to your Bible, and you will find that someone before you has faced the same problem and has given you a witness for overcoming that problem with power and faith.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Labels Liberal OR Conservative

I was recently accused of being a liberal by some one who took issue with a post I made. A short time later I was accused of being ultra conservative by another friend. To top it off both labels came because of the same post. It says something about the two people who gave me those labels.

Labels like liberal and conservative are often placed on us by people who want to put us in a box of their choosing. Some of us chose our own label to reflect where we think we stand in our community. We do not all share exact definitions of what those labels mean so applying them to others based on our understanding may be a source of friction.

It is interesting to watch the current political debate where politicians accuse each other of not being conservative enough. The truth is often not considered in the argument but is based on our own bias. On both sides of the spectrum there are people who get angry with others who do not fit their definition of liberal or conservative. Is there a test we all have to pass on this issue? I hope not.

I am an independent mind and the fact is that on some issues I am very conservative and on others I am very liberal. If you are talking money I am very conservative! In my home, city government and national politics I believe in balanced budgets and NO debt. However if you are talking personal rights and freedom I am very liberal. I believe that unless my actions are causing harm to others I should be allowed to make my own decisions without government intrusion

Politics, religion and relationships are all open to reflection and renewal for me. I don’t change my mind easily but I am always willing to look at new evidence and seek the truth. There is not enough truth seeking this year.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Politically Correct?

There are some who rail at PC or Politically Correct conversation. One in particular says that America does not have time for PC. This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Most of the people I know who gripe about PC are not able to be PC. They say what ever come into their mind no matter who it hurts.

What does politically correct really mean? We do not really have a law that defines it and people are free to use what ever words they choose. So why all the anger? Perhaps it is because our society has been changing so much that using derogatory language has become unacceptable to most people?

PC can also mean Polite Conversation that cares about the feelings of others. Most people are aware that unkind words can hurt deeply so they refrain from using derogatory words based on gender, race, national origin or orientation. PC is all about being respectful of others no matter who they are.

My mother use to tell me that Jesus teaches us to love all God's children with our words and deeds. She was always PC because it was in her heart to love as Jesus loved.

Enough said!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Does It Really Matter?

For many years as a Christian Church Pastor I tried in vain to get church people to follow the bible in our practices. Culture keeps chipping away at the meaning and actions of our Christian Celebrations. It started early, very early when church leaders incorporated two pagan celebrations into Christian celebrations. They moved the birth of Christ from January to the solstice day of December 25th and there it stayed in the Western Church.

They changed the name of Resurrection Sunday to Easter Sunday to move Romans from the pagan goddess to Christ. Then we have the whole X-mas thing which is a miss understanding of the Greek letter “X” spoken as “chi” for Christ.

After 40 plus years of trying culture has won out. I know that I can never change what is to tightly locked up in peoples minds and hearts. I have to ask myself, “Does it really matter?”

If we know what we mean does it matter what it use to mean? If we actually do celebrate the birth of Jesus does it matter what day we choose? If we celebrate the Resurrection does it matter what we call it?

The real test is that Christians do what Jesus taught! That is what really matters. Jesus took the old laws of love your neighbor as your self and taught us to do more; Love those who hate you and pray for those who do bad things to you. There are church members today who do and say hateful things about people they don't like. They are not following the teachings of Jesus and in fact are doing the opposite so can they be truly called followers of Christ?

Yes it really matters!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Student Loan Program

The Student Loan program is a double edged sword. On the one hand students can get easy access to money for their collage expenses. On the other hand they often do not read the fine print which makes it possible for their school loan debts to really pile up. It is not an easy choice for young people going to school cost are high and it is really hard to work your way through as we did in my day. In some ways this easy money has made it possible for more people to get a collage education and then an economic education afterwards.

Some people are crying out for debt relief for former students who now can not afford to buy a new home or car because of a student loan they can not get out of even in bankruptcy court. The government loan guarantee to the loan company is that the loan will be paid off by the student. Because students can delay repayment many do but do not understand that the interest accrues and compounds every day. If I make a loan I will pay it off as a matter of personal pride.

The Student Loan program has been good for the universities and has allowed them to raise the price of education. We need to rethink the Student Loan program and perhaps our educational system. Should the state pay for our education from K through BA/BS? Should we go back to only those who can afford a collage education are able to attend?

What do you think?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Atoms and the Universe

I was watching a NOVA program on PBS that showed us an electron microscope that was so strong they could see atoms in brass and distinguish the different atoms of copper and tin. We have come a long way since Democritus of Adbera in northern Greece first described the atom in 400 BC. He said, “That all material things are composed of extremely small irreducible particles called atoms and that nothing exist except atoms and empty space.”

I saw this Nova episode during a time when I am rereading “The Nature of the Universe” by Lucretius a Roman gentleman about 55 BC. In this book he describes among other things the nature of the atom in great detail.

Without the aid of electron microscopes they both did an amazing job of thinking about something they could not see and could only imagine using logic. We also now have great space telescopes that can show us the atom like nature of the universe beyond the scop of the human eye. As the scope of our knowledge increases so does the ability of the human mind to think about new discoveries.

How far will we go in the next hundred or a thousand years?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Criticism - Critique or Evaluation

Most of us don’t like to be criticized and we feel bad when it happens. We have to admit that sometimes we deserve it and sometimes we don’t and I am not sure which hurts the most. My personal problem is that I tend to respond much too quickly when I should take the time to cool down and evaluate my part of it.

There are some differences between Criticism, Critique, and Evaluation. Criticism is usually sharp and says, “I don’t like what you did or said.” It is an expression of displeasure from one person to the other. It is most often received badly and even feels like "I don't like you." Criticism does little good and in fact it is often counter productive.

A Critique is a step up from criticism though the two words stem from the same root. A critique can be either positive or negative and often both at the same time. It too can say something went wrong so let’s discuss the possibilities for correction. This is an approach that is often lost in our society.

As a Toastmaster I am very into evaluation as a tool to help one another improve our lives, work and progress. It usually starts with here is what went well and is followed with here is one way to improve on this. Always it is followed up with appreciation for the effort.

As a mayor of a small city I am in a position of no matter what I do some people will be happy and some will be very unhappy by the same action. Some of those who are unhappy will remember for a long time but that is just the way it is. What I have to constantly work on myself about is how do I respond? Sometimes even when I try to have a cool down period the other party is impatient and demands an immediate response. When I fall for that I am usually not going to give a good well thought out answer.

We are still a work in progress. Lord help me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Question the Polls

In 2008 my senior Senator from Kentucky was shocked that Obama was elected. He stated even before Obama took office that he would make sure that Obama would be a one term president. Our senior Senator is well known here in Kentucky for his political dirty tricks and he began his anti-Obama campaign with gusto leading the Republican party in opposing anything that the Democrats presented. He failed but has kept up the vitriol anyway.

Way back when I was an undergraduate I took a class in statists at Texas Christian University. What an eye opener for public polling. Looking for stats? What stats do you want? It is all in how you ask the questions and who you ask. Most national pollsters today like Pew Research do a good job of random polling to get a good sample of what people think. But even they sometimes get it really wrong. Governor Romney had so many polls that showed him winning that he only wrote a victory speech.

My senior Senator is continuing his argument over health care and the polls are all over the place and it all depends on who you ask what question. If you ask about the “Affordable Care Act” you get a positive set of results but if you ask the same people about “Obamacare” you get a negative set of answers. It is all in how you phrase the questions.

I am skeptical when a politician says, “The American people want …. [You can fill in the blank]! Of course they will state that the American people want what the speaker wants. Americans are a diverse people and we don’t all want the exact same thing and we all need to wake up to that fact.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Choosing A Study Bible

I have often been asked about: "How do a choose the right bible to study?" That is an important question. Some people think that the "King James Version" is the only authorized version and there for is the only true bible. That is just not the case! The KJV was "authorize" for printing in England in 1611 by King James of England. For a long time it was the only version that could be printed in England.

Unless you are competent in reading Hebrew and Greek you need to choose a good study bible in your native language. Choosing one is not as easy as it sounds. We need to realize that EVERY translation is the translators’ opinion of the meaning. You just have to look at the variety of English translations to know the truth of that statement. So how do we know which translation will be best for us to use?

First is it a direct translation from the Hebrew and Greek? Some bibles are translations from translations in other languages or versions of the same language. There are also paraphrase versions like “The Living Bible” that are meant for easy reading not study.

Second is it a translation by a committee or by one person. A single translator can not help but provide you with that person’s opinion. Translations done by committees have the added values of all their opinions being discussed and consensus being reached. It is still opinion but the chances of the opinion being a better choice is greater.

Third is, "What year was the translation completed?" This is more important than you might think. What year was YOUR language skill set? For High School graduates it is the year of your graduation. For University graduates you choose that year of graduation. Then choose a translation completed close to that year for the language YOU best understand.

NOTE about margin notes: There is a difference in what is in the “text” of the bible and what is written in the margins. Information in margins and footnotes are OPINIONS! That doesn’t mean they are wrong but they could be so check them out. We all have opinions and I believe mine are correct or I would not hold them. So choose your bible translation for you to study very carefully.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Life is About to Change

Life is about to change at the Odom-Groh household. My darling wife is going to be retired at the end of the month and we will both need to learn new routines.

For the past fourteen years every week day she has left the house before I woke up to catch the buss for her job downtown. She developed a routine that worked for her and moved ther through the day. I also developed my own routine for doing household chores and having supper ready when she arrived home. Starting Friday July 31 all that is going to be disturbed.

Mind you I am looking forward to it but a change is a change none the less. I will enjoy waking up to her sweet smile every day and sharing the day with her, taking day trips with her and being able to chat about things we are reading. We are going to go back to our old cooking routine of many years ago. We both love to cook and she has been cooking on her week-end and I have been cooking on her work day. Starting in August we will be taking turns a week at a time and the one who is cooking will also do the shopping.

We will also revisit old patterns for cleaning house and taking care of the yard. Yes life is about to change in the Odom-Groh Household for the better.
Praise the Lord.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Remembering Katherine Ann

I am filled with mixed emotions today remembering the birth of my eldest darling daughter. She was born one minute after midnight July 24, 1969 and came into this world screaming her little lungs out.

Katherine's birthday has always been one of Joy for me and when we were apart I would call her and sing happy birthday and tell her how much I loved her. This is the first anniversary of her birth that I can not do that. This morning I looked at her picture and said "Happy Birthday my darling Katherine." Sadness at her loss flooded over me.

On the other hand I am so thankful for the almost 46 years of the gift that was her life shared with me and I do celebrate that gift. We shared a special bond that I will cherish always with great love.

Katherine Ann your daddy loves you and always will Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The new Marriage/Wedding laws

Recent Supreme Court rulings have changed the Kentucky one man one woman marriage laws. Several county clerks have refused to issue same sex wedding license sighting their religion. The governor told them to do their job or resign. I am so glad that I am retired.

Religions now have to deal with a same sex couple coming with a legal license and asking to be married. As a pastor I have always had the option to refuse and I have done so in times past. Active religious leaders today still have that option open to them. There are many religions in America and they each have their own traditions concerning the wedding ceremony.

In the civil service a couple needs a license and an authorized person to sign the document. The authorized person only has to verify that the two people before them are the ones on the license and ask them if they want to be married. When they answer in the affirmative the license is signed and they are married. All cut and dry and legal. A Christian Wedding is quite different and in the United States it involves aspects of the civil wedding but also much more. In my state and church a couple come to make vows to each other and God. They come seeking a blessing on their marriage and home. It is the making of vows that makes all the difference.

When a marriage vow is made the man and woman actually make two vows at once. They make vows of commitment and fidelity to one another and they make those same vows to God! It is this act that makes the wedding ceremony sacred. The vows are binding until death do us part. Jesus made only one excuse for divorce and that was adultery.

When a person breaks the marriage vow a double sin is committed. The first sin is against the spouse and the second is against God. I count it a very serious event to make a vow to God. Breaking a vow to God is not something one does lightly and I always stress that to couples about to get married in the church. There is an eternal aspect to a vow made to God and it stays with you that long.

As there are plenty of choices for couples getting married both civil and religious clergy can have the option to conduct the service or not. Government officials who are authorized to officiate a wedding do not have that option as it is part of their job.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Astrology From A Christian Perspective

Last Sunday I overheard two women talking after worship about their horoscope readings for the day. So many church members think that their horoscope is just a fun thing to do on a daily basis. Nothing could be more wrong or more dangerous to a Christian's faith in Christ. It is not a harmless past time or a fun thing to do, it is idol worship putting your faith in something other than God.

From a Christian point of view astrology is an ancient idol worship for when you put your faith in a horoscope reading that is what you are doing. Many modern Christians do not realize that Astrology is an ancient religion based on the signs of the zodiac and to trust in them means your are turning your back on faith in God. Even though astrology has remained popular over the centuries it is not allowed according to the bible.

Every now and then someone will open a conversation with me by asking, “What’s your sign?” and I know what they mean. My answer often confuses them. I say, “My sign is the cross.” I usually get a blank stare and then they say, “No I mean your birth sign.” To which I reply, “I was born again under the sign of the cross and my faith in the future is in Jesus.”

As a pastor I encourage all Christians to keep faith with Jesus and answer, “My sign is the cross!”

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mom's Answer for My Anger

I learned a hard lesson as a young man in Texas. When I get angry enough to be out of control I lash out with abandon and create havoc in the world around me. Sometimes I could not see the other persons point of view because my anger blinded me. This havoc would often come back to haunt me and cause me grief. I decided that my anger needed to be managed.

This was before the days that I knew of “Anger Management Seminars” so I was left to fend for myself in finding a solution to my fits of peak. My best example was my mother who had plenty to be angry about but always seemed calm. I sought her advice and she said to pray about it. Well that was her answer for everything as she is a lady of great faith. At that time prayer did not come easy for me because even though I could say the words I didn’t have a feeling for it and it was just words.

Then I experienced a spiritual awaking and found the power of a daily prayer life. I read in Daniel 6:10 that Daniel prayed three times as day to put himself in the presence of God. When you put yourself in the presence of God you are doing more than just saying words. Now I am having a conversation and it puts my anger at others in perspective. Prayer becomes my source for patience, gentleness, self control, and a sense of power over my emotions.

Now havoc no long rules and I am at peace even during the storms around me caused by other people’s anger. As a result I am often able to reach not only calmness and peace but solutions to issues.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

On Being Acceptable To God

Many ministers begin their sermons with the 14th verse of Psalm 19, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Of course we want all that we do to be acceptable in the sight of God. You could even say that some people desire to go beyond simply pleasing God. Our whole purpose for being the church is to be pleasing to God with our worship, prayer, service, stewardship, and in reaching out to others with the Gospel. I know of no one who follows Jesus who would want to displease God in any way.

How will we please God? Will everything we say and do to be acceptable to God? How will we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God? As stewards of the Christian faith our actions in every field of ministry is open to reconsideration of these questions. Both as church and as individual Christians our actions in the love of Christ expresses our commitment to please God in every part of our living.

I invite you to pray the prayer of Psalm 19:14 as you are contemplating your living out God's word in your life today. Will every word you say today please God? Will every action you take today please God?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can You Avoid Future Regret

I usually mute TV ads because they are too loud and annoying. Last night I was distracted and left the sound on so an ad caught my attention. You may have watched this ad for a gold coin.

It starts off showing a US government fifty dollar gold coin using the form of a buffalo nickel as the form. The announcer stress in loud tone that the coin is minted in .9999 percent pure gold, and limited number because the mint ran out of the special gold blanks. In truth the coin had a limited production because it was struck for the collectors market.

The announcer then switches coins. He is selling what amounts to a counterfeit coin. In softer voice he says that it is a non-monetary gold clad replica. Clad means that there is a very thin 14 mm gold layer of unknown purity. It is being sold for $9.95 so it can not be the .9999 percent like the real coin. Again in a louder voice he stresses that this offer is for a limited time and you can purchase up to five coins per order.

At the end he invites you to avoid disappointment and future regret so buy right now call the number. Well I always want to avoid future regret and experience tells me that most of the time if I purchase a too good to be true item I will regret spending the money on it.

So I am avoiding future regret by NOT buying the coins.

How often in life do we fall victim to the falsh of a con artist? They are everywhere and often tell us we would be a fool to pass up the limited time offer. I do not like being called a fool so I end the conversation. Once I reached retirement age the special too good to be true offers have been pouring in with greater frequency. We have to be alert all the time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reading Is Fundamental

From a very early age I taught our daughters to love reading. I did this by reading to them before they could understand so they would know that reading a book was an important thing to do. We have a large family library at home so they grew up with books all around them. They also observed Melanie and I reading all the time, which set the example for them to follow. I still remember the day our youngest stated that she was tired of being the only one in the family who could not read and she set out with determination to learn that day.

I was very please that both daughters graduated from collage and now my youngest daughter is working on a masters degree in "Information Technology" at the University of Michigan. That makes me a very proud daddy. The education of our children starts at home by our reading to them and teaching them to read before they go to school. Reading at an early age is fundamental for their ability to be successful in this world.

Teaching our girls to read encourages them to teach their children to read at an early age. The educational level of the world is raised when we as parents take the time to give our children the real value of an education both formal and informal. I learned much of what I know from my own personal reading all my life and I still do. We should all work to enhance the reading ability of all children all over the world. That would make the world a better place.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Our Assumptions

All of us assume things from our own point of view. It is a natural process that can get us into trouble. A man told me he was in the army and was working base security. I wrongly assumed that he was Military Police and said so to another man who checked it out. I was most embarrassed to discover that I was wrong.

We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are. Often we assume that this is the way they should be. Many of our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions. A Republican experiencing a health funding issue might assume that the “Obama Care” affordable health care law is the problem and will state it that way. A Democrat having the same issue is the problem of insurance companies getting every last cent out of the consumer.

On facebook both the left leaning and right leaning posters produce some of the most outlandish lies about the other party. Because those who agree with the post assume it is correct and repost it on their own time line. Often a simple check of the facts reveals the misrepresentation. There are some extreme true believers who simply don't care if it is a lie as long as it supports their point of view.

Our theory for how things should be is only as good as our assumptions. If the premises are false, our theories have no real scientific status. The only fair criterion for judging the validity of our theory is with the examination of the facts not assumptions. Our ability to confront our own assumptions is not an easy thing to develop and it takes time, effort and dedication to the truth.

Have you checked the facts about your assumptions lately?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Purposes of Government

The preamble of the US constitution states clearly the purpose of the federal government and we all need to remember that it covers more than one thing.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Form a more perfect union - At the time the articles of confederation was not working well so the object was to make a more perfect national government. Not a perfect but more perfect. I think we are continuing to work on that idea as we are not perfect yet.

Establish Justice - One of the objectives of the federal government is to provide a level playing field through equal justice for all our citizens.

Insure domestic tranquility - Keeping the peace between citizens is never easy and that is usually been left up to the states and local governments but there have been times when those failed and federal troops had to be sent in to keep the peace.

Provide for the common defense - Some people focus on this provision as the main focus of the federal government and it is important to keep us safe from outside threats.

Promote the general welfare - Some people focus on the "general welfare" as the main effort of our government and this too is important but not more important than all the others.

Secure the blessings of Liberty - Individual liberty is an important part that is often over looked. We have the liberty to make our own choices as long as we do not obstruct the free choice of another. My right ends where the other persons nose begins is the old motto for personal liberty.

All of these proposes for the federal government are equally important and often have to be balanced one with the others. While our "Union" is still not perfect it is the best in the world. Let us keep working to prefect it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Our Anxious Thoughts

Anxious thoughts and a worried mind create troubles of their own. We live in some fast paced times that can cause turbulence in our daily living. Physicians and psychologists tell us that stress is one of the leading causes of illness. Anxiety is rampant in our society. With all the political double talk and the wars and tropical storms and tornado out breaks coming one after the other, is there any wonder we are anxious? There is stress in school, at home and in the work place. I even find that there is sometimes stress in church of all places.

In the Gospel of Luke chapter twelve, Jesus teaches us not to worry about our lives. Now Jesus is not encouraging sloth or living in a shiftless, reckless way. More to the point he is saying do your best and trust in God to take care of the rest. For some of us this is hard to do, if we didn't have anything to worry about, we would worry about not having anything to worry about. Life is way too short to worry about mistakes of the past so that we get bogged down and never move forward. We can learn from our mistakes and then move on to a better life.

Jesus says to fill your soul with great care, seek first the Kingdom of God and all the things that once filled you with worry and oppressed your soul will seem small and petty and of no great concern. Seeking first the Kingdom of God in your life puts everything else in perspective. Read Luke twelve and open your mind to trust in God and feel the love of God in your life. Seek first the will of God for your life and set aside the anxiety over past mistakes and focus on the powerful possibilities for the future. What ever we are right now is just that no more and no less. What ever we are right now is God’s starting place for what we will become.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rebel Flag?

Growing up in Lamesa, Texas I do not remember ever seeing a confederate battle flag flying anywhere.

The first time I remember seeing someone display the rebel flag was in the navy. A radioman from Georgia had them sewn in the lining of his uniform. They were hidden from view until he rolled up his cuff. He was at once a very patriotic American who would willingly die in the service of the United States of America if we went into battle. He was also a true son of Georgia who railed at Sherman's march to the sea as though it happened yesterday. This walking contradiction could not see the irony.

Today I understand the feelings of some people who distrust the federal government and feel the need to rebel in some visible way. The banner of the defeated army of northern Virginia becomes the way to do that. It is a statement of free speech to display that flag and express anger. Individual citizens have that constitutionally guaranteed civil right to display any flag they desire. In our homes we also have the right to display religious symbols as well.

As a mayor I know that there is a big difference between what an individual can do and what a government can rightly do. A government must represent all its citizens equally and not favor one over the other. Doing what is right and fair is not always easy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Supreme Court Rulings

Over the years our US Supreme Court has ruled on laws constitutionally in ways that upset me. The first was Roe v Wade and I still don't like it. I understand it better but it has taken me a long time though to deal with it internally.

Contrary to many opinions the court does not make laws, though it may seem that way, it rules on a law that is contested by citizens. Is the law as it is being used constitutionally correct? While that is all they do their opinions can make a lot of changes in what we do.

Only congress can propose a law. Both houses have to approve it and the president must sign it for the proposal to become law. If the president vetoes that law then both houses must over rule it with a two-thirds majority or it does not become a law. Their laws are not always good laws and some are ruled unconstitutional. It is a messy way to do government but it is a good one with lots of checks and balances.

The nine justices seldom all agree so many rulings are 5 to 4 decisions with descents published. Sorting out the constitutionally of a law is a tricky thing which is why we have an odd number of justices on the court. Either way they go people get angry and want to do away with the court but then we would really have a mess.

I pray for our Supreme Court every day it is in session as they need a lot of wisdom to decide on any case.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

At Odds With Myself

I have some core political beliefs that guide me but at times I am at odds with myself over their application. Some times two of my beliefs are at odds with each other and I need to work out my thoughts on the greater good between them. It is an ongoing struggle with life and living in this republic where there are a lot of differing opinions challenging our choices.

I believe that all levels of government should provide the best possible governance for the least possible tax. All government budgets must balance spending and revenue. Debt should only be incurred in war or great national emergency and then only with a prescribed pay off time. Elected officials should serve their office as an act of service and not as a career. Term limits should be imposed by voters but we often re-elect the same people over and over. As a small city mayor I struggle with all of this as I enjoy being mayor and think about serving another term and argue with my self about my term limit.

No matter which government level is in action we are all here to serve our people in a responsible way. We would like to do everything all but we can not do everything for everyone. We will please some and displease others when we weigh taxes and service to our continuances in office. To provide more service we must raise more revenue and to reduce revenue we must reduce services. Our government is by the people, for the people and sometimes in spite of the people.

National, state and local governments affect people’s lives in a variety of ways and it is not easy to balance our ways and means but we must. I pray every day for all of our elected officials even the ones with whom disagree. Join me in prayer.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrating In these trying times

In over 40 years of ministry I have noticed that when people’s lives are under stress from work or other uncontrollable events that they look for places where they can have some control and vent their frustrations. Today we are under a lot of economic stress across the strata of our society. Even people who have jobs are worried about loosing them. The rich are getting a lot richer and the poor are growing in number. The gap between rich and poor is widening.

There are two places where people under stress vent their frustrations. The first is often in the family where more abuse of spouse, children and elderly are on the increase. Passing your hurt on to the defenseless is a coward’s way out and really gets you no where. It is really sad when children become the target of a parent’s wrath at society.

The second is in volunteer organizations like clubs and church. I have often watched as someone disrupts a church board or committee meeting seemingly without cause. It is all about exerting some control some where. Many church pastors have been attacked simply because some one was venting frustrations in the only place they can and get away with it.

Here we are celebrating Independence Day in a time of radical changes in our society. Many people are angry at on thing or another with no place to vent except perhaps social media. Many will still vent their anger at those who can not defend themselves and cause pain. Some how we need to instill self-control and a path to personal inner peace in all our children before they become adults in this crazy world.

Friday, July 3, 2015

On Faith and Religion

Many people speak about their faith and religion as though they are the same thing and they are not.

Faith is a very personal spiritual relationship with God and the experience varies with each person. Each person might define his or her understanding of the term god in a unique way and so may differ from one person to another. We often assume that everyone else has the same experience we do. There are also people who do not have any faith of any kind.

Religion is the organization of people with like minded expressions of their faith. We have a great many "religions" in this world. I like to believe that my church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the correct religion. That is my opinion based on my faith in God. There are other opinions. Because of our differing points of view there are over 350 "Christion" religions and many non-christian religions.

The United States is blessed with freedom of religion. That means the government can not tell the individual what to believe, what faith group to belong to or how to pray. While we have been a predominantly Christian population there have always been other religious groups in the country and that include those with no religion at all.

Celebrate your faith and your freedom to express it as you choose.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

MY Katherine Ann

This past month has been one of the most difficult times in my life. Just over a month ago both of my darling daughters called me on my birthday and sang happy birthday to me. I did not know at the time that it would be the last time I would hear my Katherine Ann speak to me and now that conversation haunts my mind and my heart.

Katherine was borne on July 24, 1969 at one minute after midnight. She came into this world wailing at the top of her little lungs. A very healthy baby but they could not get her quiet. The nurse cleaned her up and placed her in my arms saying daddy you try to comfort your daughter. I held her and looked into her eyes and said, "Katherine your daddy loves you." Her eyes locked on mine and she became quiet and imprinted on me. She was daddy's girl from then on.

Almost two years ago Katherine developed a lesion on her spinal cord along her neck. It caused horrible pain in many ways. We were told that it was a possible life threatening condition. I sat beside her hospital bed and prayed for her. Her pain was only just controlled by powerful medicine that put her on the edge of overdose all the time.

When she called to wish me happy birthday she was having a "good day" and I was happy for her. As I always did I ended our talk with "Katherine your daddy loves you." Sometime after that conversation she went to sleep and never woke up. Her pain is over and she is at peace. That is my only consolation for my heart is heavy and tears fill my eyes when ever I think of her. I have heard that the loss of a child is the hardest thing a parent can feel and now I know how true it is.

Katherine your daddy loves you.