December 19, 2008

Book Review

Power Healing by John Wimber

This book looks at the power of healing. It begins by looking at the reasons why Jesus healed people. Then it moves on to examine what things Jesus healed. Finally, the author discusses how Jesus heals today.

Make no mistake the author writes about an active charismatic type of healing, not just passive prayer to God for healing. The author describes many different experiences of healings and even provides a model to start the practice of healings. The model involves not just healing physical illnesses, but also mental and emotional illnesses as well as casting out evil spirits.

For example, according to the author, the procedure to cast out a demon is to identify the spirit, silence the spirit, and then cast out the spirit. The process for healing someone is through prayer before, during, and after the healing. It also can involve the laying on of hands.

To me this book was not what I was looking for. Does God heal people today? Yes! Does He heal charismatically like the way the author describes? Maybe, He has the power to do so if He chooses.

This book does not convince me that anyone can heal nor does it convince me these charismatic gifts are still in widespread use by God today.

Overall this is a good book for learning more about the power of healing through God.


November 19, 2008

Teacher Strike Over!

Well the teacher’s strike in the South Butler School District is over! Students are back to school. Congratulations everyone!

Oh wait. It is over because state law says it has to be over. The students need to get 180 days of school before mid June. If the teachers continued to strike, that would push the 180 days past mid-June which is not allowed. So the strike is over by default.

Here is my unsolicited advice to the administrators at the South Butler School District:
Don’t worry about negotiations until after mid-June! Let the teacher’s focus now on educating the students. Then, after the school year is over get them back in to negotiating mode.

No need to worry about a mass exodus or revolt either. Teachers rarely leave their jobs, except for retirement. Plus there are many, many people with education degrees that can’t find a teaching job in the state.

This is part of the union problem. It breaks the law of supply and demand! There is a large supply of teachers in Pennsylvania, therefore you would think that would drive the price down, but because of PSEA (the teachers union) they drive the cost higher, breaking the laws of simple economics!

Paying teachers an unreasonably large salary increases costs for the district. This, of course, raises property taxes for the homeowners. This is why the formula for funding school districts needs to be changed and property taxes eliminated. Teachers should only be allowed to strike after school, on weekends, and during the summer. Their strikes should not effect the student’s education.


November 18, 2008

Book Review

Whose Money Is It Anyway?
By John MacArthur

I finished reading this book. Surprisingly, I was unable to really “get into it” like other books written by MacArthur. Maybe it was just the other busy activities I had going on that kept me from reading the book excitingly.

Overall, this is a good book. It gives a through biblical view of money and how the Christian should use and respond to it. MacArthur gives biblical warnings and guidelines about money. He also talks about the neutral morality of money.

MacArthur also uses Scripture to describe Biblical stewardship and the Biblical model for giving to the Church or other organization that promotes the Gospel of Christ.

There are nine chapters in this book. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of money. At the end of the book is a brief summary of each chapter with some questions that can be used as a study guide to focus on the important aspects of that chapter. MacArthur also includes some ideas to focus on during your prayer time as well as some scriptures to memorize and apply in your life.

This is a good book to read for anyone interested in learning a Biblical perspective on money. Of course as a Christian we need to remember that our true riches are in Heaven.

Next up: I will be reviewing some bible study material to use in January when our weekly Bible Study group meets again. The first study book I’ll be looking at is Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Ruth and Esther.


November 17, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter #9 - Becoming Whole
James 5:12-20

Throughout this letter, James describes several aspects of a Christian's life.
  • staying faithful during trials and temptations
  • living out their faith
  • selfless love
  • controlling their words
  • being humble
  • trusting in God rather than themselves or their riches
  • having patience

Finally, James concludes his letter by discussing prayer. Whatever situation you are in, it is a good idea to pray. Pray if you are happy or sad. Pray for healing or pray for continued good health.

Passionate prayers can accomplish so much. James presents Elijah as an example of powerful prayer from the Old Testament. It seems that prayer like Elijah is lacking these days. Many people are no longer passionate in their prayers and rather simple routine. Make it a goal of yours to be more passionate and pray with a purpose.

This concludes our study of James.

November 14, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 8 – What Awaits
James 5:1-11

James continues his tests of faith in Chapter 5. Now James focuses on money and the believers view of money.

James condemns the people who profess to be Christians, but really worship money. He tells them to look at their hearts once again.

James then looks at the poor who were persecuted by the rich. He tells the poor to be patient during their trials. This too shows where they place their trust.

Wealth can be a blessing or a curse. It simply depends on the persons relationship with God. A right relationship produced blessing whereas a wrong relationship will be a curse.

Are you bless or cursed?


November 13, 2008

Update to a Previous Post

I e-mailed my congressmen regarding the $700 billion bailout package.

I did receive a response from all (Spector, Casey, and Murtha). They all seemed, like canned responses to me, but at least I did get a response. Spector and Murtha responded within a few days. Casey took almost a month to respond.

Both Spector and Murtha explained their reasons for signing the bill. Both state they were hesitant, but realized the need to act and this was the best thing they could come up with as a group. They believed they were acting in the best interest of America.

After reading Casey’s response, I am not sure he read or understood my e-mail to him! Casey pretty much just told me about the plan without really saying anything helpful that I didn’t already know. Again, remember that he sent his response almost a month later!


November 12, 2008

Money Talks!

Well as most of you are aware now, John Murtha has won his reelection bid. This time it was a little different, because even he was running scared at the end. However, money talks. The people voted with their wallet.

It comes down to this, Murtha (or pretty much anyone in Congress) can say or do what they want (provided it isn’t “too” illegal) and they will get reelected every time as long as they keep bringing the money in to their district.

As noted on this blog many times before, Johnstown really is John’s town! He brings in millions of dollars to the area and the people know that. Murtha’s view is, if I don’t bring the money to this area, it will just go somewhere else.

We’ll see what happens over the course of the next few years.


November 11, 2008

Over 60% of Pennsylvanians are clueless about finances!

That is according to a new poll. What poll you ask? The ballot question on the November 4th election of course.

The question was “Do you favor the incurring of indebtedness by the Commonwealth of $400,000,000 for grants and loans to municipalities and public utilities for the cost of all labor, materials, necessary operational machinery and equipment, lands, property, rights and easements, plans and specifications, surveys, estimates of costs and revenues, prefeasibility studies, engineering and legal services and all other expenses necessary or incident to the acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion, extension, repair or rehabilitation of all or part of drinking water system, storm water, nonpoint source projects, nutrient credits and wastewater treatment system projects?"

Over 60% of voters selected yes, meaning I support the government issuing a bond (debt, taking out a loan) to do something with water. As you can read from the question it is pretty vague. Will they be grants or will it be loans? What is a nonpoint source project or a nutrient credit?

I have no idea, but the people of PA must think it is a good deal. If the question read something like “Do you favor increasing taxes to fix water problems?” People would have voted NO! However, they voted yes.

They must not think bonds (debt) need to be paid back with interest! Where does that money come from? Taxes! Does the state have the money to pay this debt back? No. What will they do? Raise taxes! Clueless rednecks as Murtha would say.

By the way, I’ll bet the majority of the money goes to Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.


November 10, 2008

Letter to White and Reed

Below is an e-mail sent to Don White and Dave Reed.

Congratulations on your win in the recent election! Pennsylvania needs a responsible government; one that will not waste its resources. We need reform, not just business or politics as usual. Below are several areas the government needs to review.

1. Reduce government spending – Stop unnecessary spending and reduce legislative spending either by the legislator’s own restraints or reduce the number of legislators.

2. Reduce taxes – No new taxes or fees and reduce the current taxes (unless an income or sales tax is used to eliminate property taxes), this can only be done through reducing governmental spending.

3. Eliminate teacher strikes – Pass legislation that either eliminates teacher strikes or allows teachers to strike only after school hours or on weekends.

4. Eliminate property taxes permanently – property taxes hurt Pennsylvanians living on a fixed income. School funding is crucial to a vital future for Pennsylvania and needs to be replaced with another revenue source.

5. Internet - Keep the Internet free of unnecessary regulation and taxes. Encourage the expansion of broadband access to rural locations.

You have been given the responsibility to help govern during difficult times, please act responsibly and patriotically throughout your term. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


November 07, 2008

Letter to Murtha

Below is an e-mail that was sent to John Murtha.

Congratulations on your win in the recent election! America needs a responsible government; one that will not waste its resources. We need reform, not just business or politics as usual. Below are several areas the government needs to review.

1. Reduce government spending – Stop wasteful spending, like corporate/farm subsidies and eliminate other unnecessary expenses and programs. No more bailouts!

2. Reduce taxes - Lower taxes for businesses and households. Make the tax cuts permanent. This will, of course, require budget cuts and eliminating programs to balance the budget. Revamping the tax code is also important. A flat tax is not without its problems, but it probably the easiest to implement and understand.

3. Eliminate Earmarks – design bills that are specific and serve the purpose for which they are being drafted.

4. Social Security/Welfare Reform - Social Security is an issue and will not take care of itself. The government needs to secure the Social Security system for future generations. One simple solution is to eliminate the cap (wage base), which is currently $102,000. Welfare is an important program that needs fixed, not by raising the minimum wage or throwing more money at the problem or spreading the wealth around. True reform requires job creation and growth so the people on welfare can work. Also, those people on welfare should be required to do something for that welfare check rather than serve no purpose to the community.

5. Internet - Keep the Internet free of unnecessary regulation and taxes. Also, encourage rural broadband Internet access.

6. Border control – This is important to keep the proper flow of immigrants into the United States.

7. Military - Support the military, not just financially, but with your actions and words used at all times. It is fine to disagree with the deployment of troops, however, once there, they need support from all government officials and all citizens of the United States. Bring our troops home when the job is finished.

You have been given the responsibility to help govern what I believe to be the greatest nation in the world, please act responsibly and patriotically throughout your term.


November 06, 2008

Letter to Obama

Below is an e-mail I sent to President-elect Obama.

Congratulations on your historic win in the recent election! America needs a responsible government; one that will not waste its resources. We need reform, not just business or politics as usual. Below are several areas the government needs to review.

1. Reduce government spending – Stop wasteful spending, like corporate/farm subsidies and eliminate other unnecessary expenses and programs. No more bailouts!

2. Reduce taxes - Lower taxes for businesses and households. Make the tax cuts permanent. This will, of course, require budget cuts and eliminating programs to balance the budget. Revamping the tax code is also important. A flat tax is not without its problems, but it is probably the easiest to implement and understand.

3. Social Security/Welfare reform - Social Security is an issue and will not take care of itself. The government needs to secure the Social Security system for future generations. One simple solution is to eliminate the cap (wage base), which is currently $102,000. Welfare is an important program that needs fixed, not by raising the minimum wage or throwing more money at the problem or by spreading the wealth around. True reform requires job creation and growth so the people on welfare can work. Also, those people on welfare should be required to do something for that welfare check rather than serve no purpose to the community.
4. Internet - Keep the Internet free of unnecessary regulation and taxes. Also encourage rural broadband Internet access.

5. Border control – This is important to keep the proper flow of immigrants into the United States.

6. Military - Support the military, not just financially, but with your actions and words used at all times. It is fine to disagree with the deployment of troops, however, once there, they need support from all government officials and all citizens of the United States.

You have been given the responsibility to help govern what I believe to be the greatest nation in the world, please act responsibly and patriotically throughout your term.


November 05, 2008

Election 2008 Results

Well, I am not sure if I did good or bad in the election.

The only person I voted for who won was Dave Reed. Everyone else I voted for lost.

Here are the results:
President: Obama
Attorney General: Corbett
Auditor General: Wagner
Treasurer: McCord
12th Rep: Murtha
41st Senator: White
62nd Rep: Reed
Bond Ref: Yes

I guess that is good, because it shows that I do not agree with the world and other “worldly” people.

However, it is bad, because there are so many “worldly” people out there!

Many people are concerned for the future, I have been pointing them to Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV)

So the question is, Do you love God? Do you trust God? Do you rely on God?

If so, ALL things work together for good! Read and think about Joseph or Daniel and the challenges they faced in life and see how things turned out for them!


October 29, 2008

Bible Study

Getting Perspective
James 4:11-17

Doing the will of God is another test of a Christian’s faith. A Christian should want to carry out the will of God with all their heart.

Those people who do not submit to God’s will are saying that they rule their own life and are essentially rejecting God’s salvation plan.

James uses the example of a businessman planning his day. This example doe not condemn planning, rather it demonstrates the significance of making God’s plans a part of your plan.

There is nothing better to show the character of a true believer than his desire to do the will of God. Being a Christian and living a Christian life is not just avoiding the evils or the wrongs things in life. Rather, it focuses on doing the right things as well.


October 24, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 6: Makers and Breakers of Peace
James 3:13-4:10

James tells where the sources of disagreement come from and where the source of peace comes from. Wisdom is not simply “smarts” or knowledge. Wisdom is the effective application of the truths you know.

Wisdom is yet another test of a believers faith. There is man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. The wisdom of man seeks his own and has no saving relationship with God.

Being a friend of the world is the same as being hostile to God. Christian living involves separation from the contaminants of this world. Christians need to live in this world but not be of it.

Are you a maker or a breaker of peace? Do you apply God’s wisdom in your life or are you more focused on the wisdom of this world?

October 23, 2008

Some Headlines from the Internet

Foreclosure Filings Rose 71% in Third Quarter as Prices Fell

81312 Homes Lost to Foreclosure in September

American Employers Set To Layoff More Workers

US Congress clears $700bn financial bailout bill

Unemployment on the Rise

Rising Food Prices hit the poor hardest.

Get the point? Things don’t sound good do they? Be glad you have a job and work hard at it, right? Not if you are a teacher in the South Butler School District because today you are on strike! Here is that headline:

South Butler teachers strike; classes canceled

The teachers want a 5% annual raise for the next 5 years and want to limit their health care premium to $3.33 per month, that’s $39.96 a year for health care or $199.80 over the five year period!

The district is willing to give a 3.2% raise, but agreed to the fact finders report of 4.3% in each of the five years. The teachers of course rejected that offer.

The average salary of the teachers in the district is $51,144 for 185 days of work. I work 260 days a year and don’t make that much. I have a master’s degree. But you know what? I choose to work where I do and am content with my job. In fact, with all the issues in the economy I am glad to have my job!

The nerve of any union going on strike right now is unbelievable. The community should be up in arms over this. People are loosing their homes and jobs and these teachers simply want more money and benefits.

Here is what I say: You want more money or better benefits? Then find a different job. Don’t make the students and taxpayers suffer for your greed.

October 20, 2008

Election 2008

Pennsylvania – Indiana County - Pine Township Ballot

As usual I have complied a list of positions that will be voted on during the November election. I have not completely decided on all of the races yet, but here are my current picks for this year’s candidates.

President: Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr or maybe John McCain
Attorney General: Tom Corbett or Marakay Rogers
Auditor General: Chet Beiler
State Treasurer: Tom Ellis
Congress Rep 12th District: William Russell
Senator 41st District: no recommendation
State Rep 62nd District: Dave Reed
Water and Sewer Improvements Bond Referendum: NO


President - Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party) does not appear on the ballot in many states, so he would be a write in candidate. Bob Barr is on the ballot as a Libertarian Party member in most states.

Senator 41st District (PA) – I have no recommendation. Don White is both the Republican and Democratic candidate. I have wrote to him many times, and I rarely get a response. I am not sure what he does, therefore, I cannot support him.

Water and Sewer Improvements Bond Referendum – NO we do not need more debt as a state. The Rendell has spent, taxed, and borrowed more than enough money and we are no better off than what we were before Philadelphia voted him into office. He has increased the budget by $8 billion since he got into office. We need to stop spending money we don’t have and live within our means as individuals, as a state, and as a nation.

I am not endorsing any of these people, however, I do believe that the people mentioned above will be the least damaging to our state/country.

October 16, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 5: On Preventing Forest Fires
James 3:1-12

James moves on to yet another test of a geniune believer: the tongue. A person's speach tells a lot about their heart. The tongue is probably the easiest way to sin.

The tongue can condem, control, and corrupt, but it also can praise, bless, and encourage. The tongue brings faith and works together. If you heart is obediant to God, your words will show it natually. You won't have to force yourself to say nice things and remember not to say mean things.

James also finds inconsistancy in the tongue. It blesses and curses. It builds up and tears down. James asks how can this be> Alan Greenspan would probably call it a conundrum.

We need to remember only God can completely control the tongue. When our life is in submission to Him, then will the tongue be in control.

October 14, 2008

Book Review

Leading Bible Discussions: A LifeGuide Bible Study

This is a short, quick read study guide on leading Bible discussions. The authors discuss introductory topics like: Why you would want to study in a group, how to start a group, and how to decide what to study.

The authors also describe how to prepare to lead the Bible study and then the actual leading of the discussion. Of course, there is a brief chapter on evaluating the discussion as well.

The authors also provide some insight and instruction as to how you should study the Bible as well as how to write your own questions for the discussion.

The authors end the book by emphasizing the spiritual aspect of growing together - fellowship building. The appendix provides a model study that is the basis of the lifeguide Bible study series.

Overall, this is a good book for beginners that are interested in starting a Bible study or Bible discussion group, but just isn't sure how to start doing it. This book provides the guidance you need to get started.

Since there have been some worries over the current financial "crisis" (my advice - hold tight - stay the course), I decided to read "Who's Money is it Anyway?" by John MacArthur next.

October 08, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 4: Just Works
James 2:14-26

To recap: we’ve seen several “tests” of faith so far in James.
  • Response to trials
  • Response to temptations
  • Reaction to the Word of God
  • Impartiality

James continues his series of tests by introducing the test of works or behavior that obeys God.

Remember a person is not saved by their works, but their works can be evidence of their salvation. The Bible basically tells us that what we do shows the world who we really are.

The genuineness of a believers claim that Christ is their Lord and Master is shown more by what they do as opposed to what they claim.

James provides several examples of this. Abraham and Rahab as examples from the Old Testament and the human body as a physical example. Both Abraham and Rahab trusted God and demonstrated this with their actions. They passed the test! Do You?

All Christians sin, but all also obey God. Sin is present in the life of a believer, but it is not the main characteristic of their life.

October 02, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 3 – Who’s the Judge
James 2:1-13

So far in James we have seen three tests of faith:
  • Response to trials
  • Response to temptations
  • Reaction to the Word of God

The fourth test is that of partiality or favoritism. In particular James mentions social and economic status as an example of showing favoritism or discrimination.

God is impartial in His dealings with people. This is not usually an attribute we normally associate with God, at least not the first descriptive term we think of, but it is true.

We need to remember to be impartial in dealing with others. Christians will all be equal in Heaven for eternity. We will be surrounded by God and His love for us.

Of course, we also need to use biblical discernment, but without being prejudice.

October 01, 2008

Blue Cross Merger

Here is a letter sent to Robert Brackbill & Don White regarding the proposed merger of Highmark and Independence Blue Cross. This spells trouble for the PA health care industry if the merger does go through.

A merger of Blue Cross could be devastating to the people of Pennsylvania and their health insurance as well as the health care providers. It is not worth the one-time payment of $1 billion to the state.

Competition is needed to maintain not only consumer protection, but health care provider protection as well. The state needs to open up its health care market to insurers outside of Pennsylvania in order for the natural market forces to work most efficiently and effectively. Competition is what keeps companies in check. Merging these two giants will do nothing except cause problems and increased premiums.

September 30, 2008


Here is a letter sent to the editor of Kiplinger's Magazine.

In the November 2008 issue, Fred Frailey asks “What causes otherwise smart, super-intelligent, people to take leave of their senses and do really dumb things?” The answer is plain and simple: greed. Greed, from top to bottom, from the CEOs to the janitors. Everyone wants more and is not content with what they have. We all (individually and collectively) need to live within our means. This also includes the government.

A wise man named Solomon once said, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” He got it right thousands of years ago. We should all learn a lesson from this.

September 29, 2008

$700 Billion Bailout

Here is a message I sent to A. Spector, B. Casey, and J. Murtha regarding the $700 billion bailout of poorly ran businesses.

Bailing out the irresponsibly run businesses is a huge mistaken. It is a waste of taxpayer money and one that I do not support. The problem has been blown out of proportion and CEO’s simply want to protect their own interests.

Let the businesses fail and the market will correct itself with time. Yes, some jobs will be lost and homes will be foreclosed on, but the market forces of supply and demand are always at work. They only get screwed up when the government steps into the picture. Pass laws that encourage CEO’s to run their businesses effectively and efficiently. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

September 24, 2008

Bible Study

Chapter 2: Words, Words, Words
James 1:19-27

Last week we read about two tests James gives us regarding a true believer. The first test was of their response to trials. The second test was of their response to temptations.

Last night we looked at a third test of a true believer. James tells us you can know a true believer by their response to the Word of God.

When a true believer hears God's word they want to hear more of it while at the same time they desire to obey it. This is the natural reaction of a true believer. Like a baby’s desire for milk, a believer desires the Word.

The believer must be careful not to have a simple intellectual interest in the gospel (ie learning more of it), but a heart that desires to obey it. This is not a one-time feeling, rather it is a life-long pursuit.

How about you? How well do you handle these three tests of a true believer? Evaluate your response to trials, temptations, and your reception and reaction to the Word of God.

September 19, 2008

Book Review

I finished reading "the wired church 2.0" by Len Wilson with Jason Moore. This book is not what I was expecting.

The book is separated into four parts:
  1. Developing a mission for media.
  2. Designing meaningful media for worship.
  3. Building a championship crew.
  4. Mastering the technology.

Each part describes the way and reason why of doing things.

The book's main focus is using technology for the worship service. This is not what I was hoping for. I am looking for ways to utilize technology for our small, rural church in general. The book focused more on how to start using a projector for worship services in a large church setting. To get started would cost around $15,000 to use technology for worship.

The book really didn't seem to be very helpful for the complete beginner. It was wrote on a "higher education" level. It almost seems to me that the author was writing this book to be used in a classroom setting. In other words, more theory than practicality.There were however, some good points.

Overall though, this is one book the beginner can skip.

September 17, 2008

Bible Study

Last night was our first bible study at the Strongstown Church for the fall. We started a 9-week study on the book of James. We are using the lifeguide series as our study guide.

James is an interesting epistle. Some church leaders have practically rejected it's teachings, most notably is Martin Luther. However, James is a letter that basically says if you say you are a follow of Christ, then your life should show it.
There are only a few men named James mentioned in the Bible. The early Church fathers have affirmed that the human author of this letter is James, the half-brother of Christ. It is interesting to note early in Christ's ministry that His family basically rejected what He was doing. Some time later, however, they were converted to His followers, probably after His death or resurrection.
The first study looked at chapter 1 verses 1-18.

These portions of scripture deal with perseverance, trials, and temptations and the Christians reaction to them. We discussed the fact that even the world can often notice the difference between genuine Christians and those who simply claim to be a christian.

God is not responsible for our temptations. Nor is God responsible for people giving in to sin. The true christian perseveres through trials and temptations. In fact, they are drawn closer to God.

What do you do when faced with a trial or temptation? Are you drawn closer to God or do you give in to the temptation?

Next week will be Chapter 2 in the study guide which covers Chapter 1:19-27 of James.

September 15, 2008

2008 Suzuki SX4 Rear Differential Oil Change

A few weekends ago I changed the rear differential oil in my 2008 Suzuki SX4. Here is a brief overview of the process.

Items needed
At least 1 quart of 80w90 gear oil (2 quarts is a better idea)
Socket wrench
Drain container

The manual says to change the rear differential oil at 7,500 miles.

The manual calls for 80w90 gear oil. I like to use synthetic and it was tough to find locally. I ended up with Valvoline Dura-Blend. It is a synthetic blend gear oil.

The process was not hard. It is simply a matter of crawling under the rear of the vehicle.

First, I loosened the fill plug with the socket wrench. Then, I removed the drain plug and let the oil drain out. I noticed the oil was bluish. I replaced the drain plug and added slightly less than a quart of gear oil. It is easy to tell when you have added enough oil as it will start to drip out of the fill hole.

It was easy to squeeze the oil into the fill hole. However, I noticed that when about half the bottle was emptied I couldn’t get anymore out of the bottle. So I took the other quart and refilled the “squeeze” bottle.

I finished filling the rear differential, tighten the drain and fill plugs and then cleaned up.

Simple process to do. The oil was about $5 a quart and it took less than an hour to complete.

September 12, 2008

Book Review

This is a great book for those Christians struggling with understanding the government and how to think and act Christ-like to those in authority.

MacArthur gives a Christian perspective on the government and political involvement. He discusses the purpose of government and the Christian’s responsibility toward it.

MacArthur also teaches in this “Bible For Life” series about the Christian’s obligation toward taxes. Basically, Christians are to pay their taxes. He demonstrates this with Jesus’ teaching on taxes.
Here is a just a quick "Why Government Can't Save You" by John MacArthur

Of course, no book like this would be complete without a couple of examples from the Bible. MacArthur uses the example of Daniel and Paul to show how a Christian should live and interact (maybe even be a part of the government) with the government and its authorities.

Christians are to support their leaders and obey them, provided the leaders are not giving orders in direct violation of God’s Word. Finally, there is a chapter about how to live in a pagan society.

There is also a sermon from Charles Haddon Spurgeon at the end of the book about Citizenship in Heaven. The book includes a study guide for group study or further individual reflection.

True to MacArthur’s style, this book is filled with scriptural references. I highly recommend this book for anyone to read. This is this best book I have ever read about how a Christian should respond and deal with their government.

September 10, 2008

Chapter #9 - How to Live in a Pagan Culture

"The church will really change society for the better only when individual believers make their chief concern their own spiritual maturity, which means living in a way that honors God's commands and glorifies His name." page 130

Christians are not called to use their life simply to protest the government. We are called to proclaim the gospel and live lives that show its transforming power.

There are four areas of spiritual truth that Christians need to be reminded about
  1. A Christian's Duties
  2. Their unsaved condition
  3. Their salvation
  4. Their mission

What our our Christian Duties? pages 132 - 134

  • Obey government and all authority
  • Be prepared for good works
  • Do not malign anyone
  • Be peaceful and gentle to everyone
  • Be considerate of others

"And although we detest the sinful, unbiblical aspects of society, we must remember that the same ungodly characteristics once defined our lives. Such awareness will keep us humble and prevent us from putting down sinners simply because they rub us the wrong way by their values and lifestyles." pages 138-139

"If anything should prevent us from feeling hostile toward the corrupters of contemporary society and keep us from wasting our time trying to bring about moral and political reform, it should be the reminder that all the wonderful benefits of salvation derive from Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross." page 143

"We must remember to be engaged in good works, which Scripture says will result from salvation." page 144

September 08, 2008

Chapter #8 - Paul's Example before Worldly Authorities

"A good conscience is not the supreme factor in determining whether or not our actions toward authority are right or wrong (Paul's conscience once permitted him to oppose Christ)." page 115

"When Rome eventually persecuted and killed many in the early church, it was not because Christians were revolutionaries but because they refused to worship the emperor." page 122

"... what happened to Paul in his confrontations with worldly authorities clearly reveals the triumph of God's sovereignty over human affairs." page 124

"... Paul used his circumstances as an opportunity to witness, or at least speak a word that honored God or edified others." page 125

"... Paul always endeavored to maintain the proper attitude." page 125

"... all of Paul's words and actions before various worldly authorities summarize for us in a practical way and remind us again ... that God expects the believer to relate properly to governmental authority." pages 125-126

"The apostle Paul indeed was a model citizen and a knowledgeable one." page 112

For more information about Paul and his ministry, read his inspired New Testament letters.

September 05, 2008

Chapter #7 - Daniel's Uncompromising Civil Service

"There is no better Old Testament example than Daniel of one who had an ideal relationship with secular authority - he maintained his walk as a believer and his life as a responsible citizen in perfect harmony." page 99

"Daniel's uncompromising stance regarding dietary matters reminds us again of how we sometimes must relate to our leaders: at time we will have to refuse obedience if such compliance would violate God's will." page 102

"In all of our interaction with civil authority, we should strive, with God's help, to act from a foundation of unwavering excellence - spiritually, morally, and ethically." page 105

"Our duty is simply to live consistently, obeying the principles from Scripture we know to be true." page 106

You can read more about Daniel's life in the book of Daniel.

September 03, 2008

Chapter #6 - Supporting Our Leaders: How and Why

"There is a general bias against the truth and righteousness that genuine Christianity stands for, but we as believers should nevertheless live as godly citizens who support the civil authorities." page 86

"First of all, Christians need to periodically remind their leaders that civil responsibilities are given to the from the supervising hand of God." page 87

"From time to time as appropriate, we should respectfully remind our government authorities that God 'disciplines nations' (Psalm 94:10, NIV) and that some day 'He is coming to judge the earth.' (Psalm 98:9)." page 88

"Another reminder that proves we are truly supportive of our leaders is the one that affirms we will choose only those who are faithful to all their governing responsibilities." pages 88-89

MacArthur mentions four specific requirements God makes upon them (pages 89-90)
  • God requires humility
  • God demands justice, mercy, and compassion
  • God calls for enforcement of the law
  • God opposes selfish oppression

"Officials ... should empathize with citizens' needs and extend kindness to them by actually relieving suffering and want." page 91

"When we give proper support to earthly government it demonstrates that we 'fear God' and trust Him no matter how difficult and discouraging it is to live in an ungodly society. It shows other that we reverence Him as the Sovereign who is working all things according to His perfect plan." page 94

September 01, 2008

Chapter #5 - Jesus' Lesson on Tax Exemptions

"If our Lord and Savior did not ignore or rebel against the tax laws of His day, neither can we flout our taxpaying duties today." page 70

"No matter how unfair or unjustified a particular tax is or seems to be, the son of God instructs His disciples (then and now) to pay it, even if the assessment is used wastefully, foolishly, and in other ways that do not honor God." page 74

"The point of Jesus' lesson is clear. All believers must obey the requirements of the tax system under which they live. And God is there to provide the means - perhaps not as dramatically as for Peter, but nevertheless just as faithfully - for us to fulfill those obligations." page 75

"Included in any testimony of model citizenship would certainly be faithful and consistent compliance with all the government's tax requirements." page 76

"By obeying all the laws we demonstrate a love for God, for our country, and for our fellow citizens." page 77

August 28, 2008

Chapter #4 - Our Tax Obligation

"It is right for us to take advantage of legal deductions and other tax benefits, but we should never be looking for more ways to avoid paying taxes." page 53

"While many people view the governments of contemporary democracies as corrupt and unjust, by comparison the Roman government of the first century was pagan, despotic, and often ruthless." page 54

"Christ's statement here is an assertion that citizens of all eras have a God-ordained obligation to pay taxes to their government." page 61

"No matter what position they have attained, what administrative competence they bring to the task, or what personal character qualities they possess, officials who assess and collect taxes are 'God's ministers.'" page 62

Simply, we are to obey the authorities in charge, sure we can use whatever legal means to protest or remove those from office, but we are not to break the law (unless it violates God's law).

"Christians have both the moral and spiritual responsibility to pay taxes because that's what God requires of them." page 63

"All things belong to Him, but a certain amount of that wealth which He entrusts to each person must go to support the institutions of human government. That is in accord with the Lord's plan and decree and part of His perfect will for us." page 65

August 25, 2008

Chapter #3 - The Biblical Purpose of Government

"Paul identifies three basic purposes for the existence and role of government: (1) it restrains evil, (2) it promotes good, and (3) it is empowered by God to punish wrongdoers and the disobedient." page 41

"Even unconverted government leaders intuitively know good from evil and thus realize that part of their governing responsibility is to punish evil behavior." page 43

"Even the poorest form of government is better than no government at all." page 43

"By looking out for you and protecting our legitimate rights and interests, any government official is 'God's minister' or servant on your behalf." page 44-45

"Government exists as an institution that God has ordained to punish evil lawbreakers." page 46

This includes the God ordained right for governments to utilize capital punishment. We have seen problems in nations where capital punishment is no longer used. Prisons become filled and are simply breading grounds for more criminal activity. As the prisons become filled prisoners are released early to make room for new prisoners. Unfortunately, the prisoners that are released usually commit another crime and end up back in prison.

"Thus, simply stated, the prison system as we know it is not a proper deterrent to or punishment for crime." page 49

"When the leaders of a nation fail to administer justice, they and their people fall under God's justice." page 49

"The United States and other supposedly sophisticated, technologically advanced societies have sanctioned abortion, which is nothing less than the murder of unborn children. Those who for nearly thirty years have encouraged this ghastly execution of the most defenseless and harmless of people created in God's image will not escape His eventual judgment." page 49-50

August 20, 2008

Chapter #2 - Our Responsibility to Authority

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities." (Romans 13:1)

"Christianity and good citizenship go hand in hand." This includes "a sincere honor and respect for all official authority." Because "government officials are God's agents for maintaining order and justice in society." page 20

"The Lord expects us to speak out against sin, injustice, immorality, and ungodliness with courage and diligence. But we must do so in a law-abiding manner, according to the civil laws that legislative bodies and governing officials have established for us." page 21

"We are to obey every civil authority, no matter how immoral, cruel, ungodly, or incompetent he or she might be. Any government is better than anarchy." page 21

There is of course one exception to this rule and that being if the laws made by people are in direct violation of God's Word. There are several Biblical accounts mentioned about this in the chapter.

"Likewise, our churches ought to obey ordinances and regulations concerning zoning, fire safety, structural standards, building permits, and every other law that does not conflict with Scripture." page 25

"There is no type of persecution that should cause us to revolt against the government. It should only cause us to patiently endure the trial and persevere in righteousness." page 26-27

All government is put in place by God. If we were to disobey the government we would be disobeying God and therefore be subject to punishment.

Any thoughts? Interested in getting your own copy of the book yet?

August 18, 2008

Chapter #1 - Political Involvement: A Christian Perspective

Chapter #1 - Political Involvement: A Christian Perspective

"During the past twenty-five years, well-meaning Christians have founded a number of evangelical activist organizations and put millions of dollars into them in an illconceived effort to counteract the secular undermining of American culture." Page 5

What is the undermining of American culture? It is our legislators and judicial system that have sanctioned same-sex unions, abortions, criminals rights, and so on.

As Christians we know these types of activities are wrong. However, the problem with being against these types of activities politically is the fact that people (Christians) can turn against the people personally instead of just politically.

"Believers become antagonistic toward the very lost people God has called to love and reach with the gospel." Page 5

Thus, they hate the sin and the sinner.

"Over the past several centuries, people have mistakenly linked democracy and political freedom to Christianity." Page 6

"The United States was actually born out of a violation of New Testament principles, and any blessing that God has bestowed on America have come in spite of the disobedience by the Founding Fathers." Pages 6-7

"The ideal human government can ultimately do nothing to advance God's kingdom, and the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God's Word." Page 7

"A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable, as long as we realize that such interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer's political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel." Page 8

"Christ did not come to promote some new social agenda or establish a new moral order." Page 11

The Apostle Paul tells us that we need to reject the ungodly ways of this world. We cannot compromise the truth of God's Word. We are to present the world with the gospel of Christ. Anything else that does not promote God's Kingdom should not be the focus of our life.

More to come with Chapter 2. Leave some comments if you want.

August 10, 2008

Something Different

I started reading John MacArthur's book, Why Government Can't Save you.

As usual I planned to write a short review. However, after the first chapter I realized I would not be able to post a short review as it would turn into a very long review. So I will be reviewing the book chapter by chapter.

For the most part I will stick with quotes from the book, but some of my own thoughts will be thrown in as necessary.

Check back next week for a review of Chapter #1 - Political Involvement: A Christian Perspective.

August 09, 2008

Book Review

Now That I Believe by Robert A. Cook

I enjoy listening to Dr. Cook each morning on the radio for his brief "Walk with the King" segment. I read a previous book of his and was impressed. I was expecting the same quality from this book as well.

Now That I Believe is wrote to the new Christian and I was hoping it would be a good book to recommend to others. However, I was disappointed in this book. Especially since the book claims to have over one million copies in print!

This book has nine chapters and each chapter attempts to answer a particular question that a new Christian might have.

The chapters are:
  • What happened to me?
  • How long will this new-found joy last?
  • The battle ahead (what to do in temptation)
  • How do I act like a Christian?
  • What to do about the Bible?
  • How can I pray?
  • Do I have to testify?
  • What shall I do with my life?
  • Worldliness and what to do about it?

These are all excellent questions, but Dr. Cook didn't seem to really give a great answer to them. It seems like most of the book is simply quotes from the Bible combined together. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is not what I was expecting from Dr. Cook.

Overall, this is a short read, but one that can be safely skipped over as it doesn't really provide much insight for Christian living.

Next up is: Why Government Can't Save You by John MacArthur

2008 Suzuki SX4 Oil Change Procedure

Below is a brief description about changing the oil on a 2008 Suzuki SX4. The following parts were used during the process:
  • 4.75 quarts 5w30 oil (SuperTech Full Synthetic)
  • Oil Filter (Fram TG4386)
  • 17 mm and 10 mm wrench
  • End Cap Oil Filter Wrench
  • Oil drain container
  • Jack or Ramps
  • Latex gloves
  • Rags, newspapers

I attempted to change the oil in my car last week, but I was unable to get at the oil filter. This is a more difficult car to change the oil in than I am used to for a couple of reasons. First, the car sits low to the ground and is virtually impossible to crawl under. Second, the oil filter is in a challenging location to get to.

The first step was to jack up the front passenger side of the car enough to slide under the car and work. I was going to attempt using ramps, but the bumper hit the ramps before the tires so I decided to just use a floor jack. Once under the car, I removed the three screws (using the 10mm wrench) holding the plastic engine cover. I did not remove the engine cover, but by simply removing those three screws allowed the guard to flex enough to get my hands up to the oil filter.

The next step was to see if I could get the oil filter loose. The end cap filter wrench I purchased did not fit the OEM oil filter, however, it does fit the FRAM filter which I plan to use in the future. After quite a while of messing around with it, we were finally able to loosen it. It was difficult!

After it was loose, I removed the oil pan drain plug with a 17mm wrench and the oil drained into the drain container. I reinstalled and tightened the drain screw and emptied the oil into another container.

Next, I slowly turned the oil filter until it started to drip out. I gave it another quarter turn and then let the oil drain into my container. After the oil stopped draining, I removed the filter completely and wiped the filter area clean.

I ran a bead of oil around the seal of the new filter and installed it. It was rather difficult to get it started. The threads did not seem to want to align correctly. DO NOT FORCE IT ON. Keep adjusting it until it screws on easily.

After the filter seal touches the bottom of the engine and is finger tight, put the end cap filter wrench on and give it a half to three quarter turn to tighten completely.

Refill the crankcase with about 4.75 quarts of oil. Start the engine and check for leaks. Cleanup and dispose of the used oil properly.

Good for another 6,000 miles!

August 08, 2008

New Feature at Thoughts From Doe Valley

If you’re like me your time is very valuable and limited. I find that I don’t always have time to seek out the latest updates for various blogs around the web that I enjoy reading.

Thoughts From Doe Valley has always had RSS feed capabilities, but many people don’t know how to use an RSS reader or incorporate into their outlook or other mail reader.

Therefore, you can now subscribe to Thoughts From Doe Valley via e-mail. Check out the link on the right hand side of the screen.

Simply enter your e-mail address and click “subscribe”. A window pops up asking you to enter a verification code.

The system will then send you an “activation” message to the e-mail account you provided. Click on the link in the e-mail you receive to activate your subscription.

Every time I add new content an e-mail will be sent with the new post.

It’s easy, fast, and FREE!

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any thoughts!

August 06, 2008

Book Review

John MacArthur – God’s High Calling for Women

This is a short (52 pages) study on 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

MacArthur believes the Bible says women should not seek leadership roles in the church. Their primary duty, given by God, is to raise godly children.

According to MacArthur, women are allowed to proclaim the Word of God, share their personal stories/insights, and pray in public. They just cannot lead when the church comes together to worship.

MacArthur explains 1 Corinthians 11:5 away by saying “Perhaps Paul meant this or Perhaps Paul mean that.”

This is probably one of the few MacArthur studies that I don’t totally agree with. I believe the entire (historical) context needs to be kept in mind while reading these verses. Usually MacArthur does that in his studies. That being said I don’t believe women (or anybody for that matter) should be in a church leadership position because they want to be there.

I believe leaders need to be called by God to their leadership positions. No one should usurp authority just so they can be in charge. God’s way is the only way for a successful, fruitful, and everlasting ministry.

Next book: Now that I believe by Robert A. Cook

July 22, 2008

Book Review

The Power of Kingdom Living by Bill Gothard

I am not sure where I got this book from. It odes not have an ISBN ID but can be ordered from the Institute in Basic Life Principles.

This is a short book, only 78 pages. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of the Kingdom of God. The final chapter pulls all of the material together.

I cannot recommend this book to the new or young Christian. They will find it confusing and leading them down a potentially damaging path. To me, the author appears to twist words of scripture to conform to what his view of the Kingdom of God is like.

Here are some of the statements the author makes, with my brief commentary.

“Key Points”

  1. “All power has been given to the Lord Jesus Christ.” – True
  2. “ Satan was given power to deceive nations.” – A better wording would be, Satan was given power and he uses it to deceive nations.
  3. “Every believer is under Satan’s attack.” – True
  4. “God has provided His Kingdom as our refuge.” – True
  5. “God’s present Kingdom is within us.” – True (in our hearts).
  6. “There is great power available in God’s Kingdom.” – True (God’s power is greater than Satan’s)
  7. “Satan fights desperately to steal this message.” – Absolutely
  8. “With Kingdom authority we can disable Satan.” – This is where the book starts to go wrong.

The author discusses the power of binding and loosing and quote Matthew 18:15-18 to prove his point. However, he is taking the concept of binding and loosing out of context which is regarding church discipline in this case.

The author then says people of the Kingdom of God need to “develop the skill of using the Sword of the Spirit.” The sword of the spirit is the word of God.

This is were the author goes totally bonkers (to use an academic term). According to the author the word “word” is a translation of the Greek word “rehema.” This apparently defines 49 commands of Christ, which are the laws of the Kingdom. We are to use these rhemas to bind Satan and loose his captives.

According to the author, we cannot use just any rhemas, we must us the precise rhema for the situation. We also need to pray in the name of Jesus to use His commands for the basis of our prayers. This is how we bind Satan and loose his captives.

Of course, according to the author, “the most effective place to carry on Kingdom combat is before the throne of grace. Then with the precise rhema, we are able to say to Satan ‘In the might name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His victorious blood, we say to you, flee from this person, because it is written…’”

After we disable Satan, we can then deal with the person by praying “Would You send your Holy Spirit to convict this person and five him grace and faith to be delivered from this bondage.”

As you can see it gets a little bizarre. Here are four of the 49 names of Jesus, their corresponding commands and qualities.

Name – Command – Quality
I am Jesus, Emmanuel – Repent – Humility
I am thy Creator and Redeemer – Go the second mile – deference
I am the Great High Priest – Love your enemies – creativity
I am the Vine – Practice secret disciplines – faith

There are 45 more, some just as strange.

Again, I cannot recommend this book to really anyone. From reading this book, I also would be cautious of any material from Bill Gothard or the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Maybe I am wrong and completely missed the point. If so, let me know by leaving a comment.

Next book:
Back to the well known John MacArthur, “God’s High Calling For Women.” A study of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

July 07, 2008

08-09 PA State Budget

The Pennsylvania State Budget for July 1st, 2008 through June 30th, 2009 was passed on July 4th, 2008. A few days late as usual. However, all of the other State funded organizations needed to have their budgets adopted before July 1st. This includes school districts. The Rendell Administration is putting a nice spin on it as usual.

One of the quotes is “No increase in taxes”.

No increase in taxes? Sounds great, but wait. I just read in the paper last week that my school taxes will indeed increase by 3.1 mills or about 4%. So I guess there are tax increases. What’s the problem? I’ll tell you.

The Penns Manor Area School District (like all school districts) needed to have their budget adopted before July 1st. School districts around the area were led to believe they were getting an increase of only 1.5%, instead of around the 3% they normally get. Therefore, to cover the shortfall many school districts raised their tax rate.

Now, since the state budget was passed, the school districts find out they are getting 3% instead of the projected 1.5%. So the schools raised their taxes AND are getting more money from the state. Here is how the numbers work out for Penns Manor.

One mill of taxes at Penns Manor generates about $24,411, so an increase of 3.1 mills should generate about $75,674. Penns Manor was expecting about a $103,000 increase in their state basic education funding. Instead they will get an increase of about $206,000 from the state, plus another $75,674 they raised in taxes! That is a difference of about $27,300. Therefore, based upon this data, it is technically possibly that Penns Manor could have actually LOWERED school taxes this year by 1 mill instead of raising it 3.1 mills!

But that won’t happen. We need another way to finance things in PA. Property taxes are not the answer. Ed Rendell does not have the answer. We cannot increase spending each year without increasing taxes and/or borrowing money. Increasing taxes hurt the current economy while increasing borrowing hurts the future economy. Neither is a viable option.

The state (along with the federal and local governments) needs to decrease spending and focus on growing the economy. Heavily taxed economies cannot grow.

Get with the program Ed! But what does he care, he will be out of office soon enough, leaving Pennsylvania a big giant mess. Somehow, though, he will walk away with a nice spin on his administration.

June 27, 2008

Book Review

God, Satan and Angels
John MacArthur Bible Studies

This Bible study book is derived from a 9 message series MacArthur has on the topic of God, Satan, and Angels.

Each chapter is in an outline form. MacArthur uses scripture throughout this study book, but does not go into a lot of detail explaining the scripture. Instead, he uses the scripture to describe God, Satan, and Angels.

Each chapter starts with an outline, gives a brief introduction and review, then delves into the message. Each chapter ends with a brief conclusion and then has some questions that "focus on the facts" and lets you "ponder the principles."

Overall this was an okay study. I believe, however, that MacArthur develops the topic in his message better. I would recommend purchasing the tape or CD set rather than buying this book.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

"One of the great causes of mental illness is satanic activity." pg 114

"Satan influencing governments and nations." pg 115

"Satan has ruled the nations of the world with his demonic hosts." pg 116

"Angels will perform a work of watching, revealing, guiding, protecting, providing, delivering, bring answers to prayer, and carry you into heaven. But if you reject Jesus Christ, the angels will cast you into hell." pg 176

The next book is "The Power of Kingdom Living" by Bill Gothard

June 23, 2008

Domestic Partner Registry

Mayor Luke signed into law a Domestic Partner Registry for the city of Pittsburgh. I haven’t seen the law, but I have a few questions for him about it.

  1. I am currently married and have been for several years, can I still sign up and have a Domestic Partner as well?
  2. How many Domestic Partners can I have?
  3. My Father may be retiring soon, at which time he will lose his employee sponsored benefits. Can I make him my Domestic Partner so he can enroll for my employee health insurance?
  4. My dog is getting older and vet bills are pretty expensive. Can he be my Domestic Partner and will my health insurance cover him?

I suspect the bill is wrote in such a way that married people are excluded, you can only have one Domestic Partner at a time and they cannot be a blood relative. Animals are probably not allowed either. Talk about discrimination! Where was the ACLU on this one!

Always thinking at Doe Valley.

June 13, 2008

Is this it for the world?

ABCNews is producing a special called Earth 2100 to broadcast this September. They ask a few questions to promote or hype the interest. Here are the questions:

"Are we living in the last century of our civilization? Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves? Could our society actually be heading towards collapse?"

These questions were all answered long ago by One who is more knowledgeable than any so called scientist today.

Q: Are we living in the last century of our civilization?
A: This answer is impossible to know. In Matthew 13:32 Jesus tells us, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Q: Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves?
A: Correct, man cannot save themselves. In John 14:6, Jesus again gave us the way to salvation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Q: Could our society actually be heading towards collapse?
A: Absolutely. We are in the end of times. Jesus is asked this question and gives a through answer as to what expect (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). There will be wars and rumors of wars. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Children will rise up against their parents. Brother will betray brother.

Don’t waste your time watching this or any other special that tries to answer or solve the problems to avoid the world’s destruction. The end of the world will occur at the designated time. There isn’t anything we can do about it, except to be prepared!

June 11, 2008

Book Review

Angels: God's Secret Agents by Billy Graham

This is probably the best book I have ever read about Angels. I strongly recommend everyone to read this book.

The book contains 15 chapters about Angels! These are not 15 chapters about Graham's thoughts on Angels, they are 15 chapters about what the Bible says about Angels. Graham adds stories and illustrations from his life and ministry to further demonstrate his point.

The book evaluates and answers questions such as:
  • Are they visible or invisible?
  • How are they different from people?
  • What do they do?
  • Are they for real?
  • Are they still around today?
While I cannot say for certain if I have ever seen an Angel, I believe in them because of the same reason Graham does. "I believe in angels because the Bible says there are angels; and I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God." (page 27)

Another interesting chapter was #13: Angels and Death. Believers in Christ do not need to fear death, however, it is natural for man to be afraid of the unknown. I think it is fair to say most people are a little nervous or apprehensive about death. It is comforting to know that Angels will be there to escort me to Heaven after my final breath. Those Angels that have been with me my entire life, will be there to take me to the Creator. That indeed is comforting to know.

I found this book very interesting and easy to read. This is the type of book that once you start reading, it is difficult to put down. However, you really should pause after each chapter to reflect on what Graham wrote.

Again, I highly recommend this book to everyone.

June 06, 2008

Follow Up to Digital TV Conversion

As my regular readers know, I contacted the FCC about the digital TV "upgrade" in February of 2009. I have not heard a response to them as of this writing. I decided to send a similar message to the current TV stations in my area (CBS 2, ABC 4, FOX 8, CBS 10), that I will no longer be able to watch next year. Below is the message. I will let you know their responses, if any.

I live in a rural area (Strongstown, PA) and am concerned about the mandatory “upgrade” to the digital broadcasting system in February of 2009.

Currently I receive your station with my antenna. However, when I installed the analog to digital converter I am unable to get your station.

In fact, I am only able to get one station that is reasonably close to me.

In February, will you be able to boost your signal output so us rural people will still be able to watch “free” TV? I sent a message to the FCC a few months ago, but have not heard anything. What can I do? I cannot get cable where I live and will not pay for Satellite.

It seems strange, that if this is an “update” that I would actually LOOSE my ability to watch TV even after making the necessary updates to my TV with the converter box! Thanks for any help you can provide.

May 16, 2008

Biblical Women

As mentioned yesterday, here are some descriptions about each of the women in “The Extraordinary Mother” by John Macarthur.


  • Mother, comforter, nurturer, & helper
  • Deceived and cursed


  • Faithful, love for God & husband, hopeful
  • Was also cruel


  • Trusts & obeys (initially)
  • Didn’t nurture her sons faith
  • Rejected God’s commands by taking an Egyptian wife for her son


  • Kind service
  • Believes God’s promises, but took matters into her own hands

Rachel & Leah

  • Polygamy always causes trouble
  • A legacy of faith was instilled in their children


  • Entrusted her child to God’s care
  • Hope, let Mose’s go twice


  • Wise & influential
  • Obedience to God
  • Mother to Israel
  • Dealt with the world as it was, but instructed her Children about how it should be

Samson’s Mother

  • Faithful & dedicated


  • Faithful in service
  • Wise & humble

King Lemuel’s Mother

  • If this is Solomon’s mother – teaches him about God’s wisdom

Mary – Jesus’ Mother

  • Grace & courage
  • Devoted & faithful

Mary – John Mark’s Mother

  • Supporter of the church
  • Supported her son through his troubles

May 15, 2008

Book Review: The Extraordinary Mother by John MacArthur

This is a nice quick read. Each chapter is only a few pages and focuses on a particular woman of the Bible. It makes for an excellent gift item for a “soon-to-be” mother. There isn’t a lot of theology, just examples of Biblical mothers living out their faithfulness. There is much to be learned from these women, both through their faithfulness and their times of trouble.

One interesting thing about this book, is the fact that some of these Mother’s are not well know to the average Christian. For example, I had never really thought about John Mark’s mother.

The book uses the following mothers as examples:
Rachel & Leah
Samson’s Mother
King Lemuel’s Mother
Mary – Jesus’ Mother
Mary – John Mark’s Mother

Can you think of the qualities of each of these Mothers?

Check back tomorrow for some summary thoughts about each.

May 14, 2008

New Dollars

Have you seen the new 3 dollar bills being printed?

I got my hands on a couple of them today, they are sure to be collector's item some day.

You can view them at the Slick website.

It is worth a laugh or two.


May 07, 2008

R or D?

The other day Hillary Clinton made some comments regarding cars and politics. She said in effect, use “R” to go in reverse and use “D” to go forward. The insinuation was that Republicans will take the country backward while the Democratic Party will move us forward. But what do you really get with “R” and “D”?

Do you want to move forward or go back?

Go back to family values
Go back to a smaller government
Go back to lower taxes
Go back to a free market with minimal government interference
Go back to a sense of community
Go back to religion and prayer in schools
Go back to the sanctity of marriage/life
Go back to the upholding the laws of immigration into the United States
Go back to being tough on crime

Move forward with higher taxes
Move forward with a larger government
Move forward with more regulation
Move forward with a hostile environment towards businesses
Move forward with higher costs of health care
Move forward with destroying family values
Move forward with killing babies in their mother’s womb
Move forward with increased rights for criminals
Move forward with the breakdown of society
Move forward with ignoring the laws of the United States

Again I ask, Do you want to move forward or go back?

Take me back, please!

May 05, 2008

Better Gas Mileage?

The theory is if you drive slower you will get better gas mileage. For the past month I decided to test this theory for myself.

Normal driving for me is around 65mph, but this often times requires speeding up to 70 to pass people going 60 because they speed up as you are trying to pass them. This type of driving averages about 25 mpg in my Subaru.

I made a conscious effort to not drive much over 60 mph for one full tank of gas. I found it difficult to maintain that speed. This type of driving did indeed yield about 1 more mpg for 26 mpg.

I then decided to do another test, this time setting cruise control for about 62mph. This yielded the best results, giving me an average of 26.5 mpg.

How much does it save?

As to be expected, driving slower saves no time at all.

Assume a 10 gallon tank:
At 25mpg the is a cost of $0.146 per mile.
At 26mpg the is a cost of $0.140 per mile.
At 26.5mpg the is a cost of $0.137 per mile.

For a total difference of $0.009 per mile. Over a years worth of driving (14,000 miles) that equates to a savings of $126.

Worth it? You decide.

For me, it was nice just setting the cruise control and not worrying about trying to pass everyone and then get back over in the right lane so others could pass me. I will probably stick with the 62 mph cruise control setting for a while and see what happens.

May 02, 2008

Gas Tax Holiday

I have some thoughts (are your surprised) on the proposed Gas Tax Holiday between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.

If the tax passes the price of gas at the pump SHOULD drop slightly. However, who is to say the service stations will drop their price? They may want to pocket a little extra for themselves.

What happens after the initial drop of say 25 cents? The price of gas slowly creeps back up over the summer and then after labor day an immediate 25 cent hike!

An example:
The price of gas drops from $3.65 a gallon to $3.40 a gallon for Memorial Day. Over the summer the prices slowly creeps back to $3.60 a gallon and the day after Labor Day: $3.85!

How much would you save?
Let's assume the drop is 25 cents and you use 10 gallons a week over 14 weeks. That is a savings of $35! Big deal. That doesn't help much, it simply makes it look like the Congressmen are trying to do something....something to get themselves re-elected that is!

What can be done?
It all comes down to Supply and Demand. Increase the supply or decrease the demand to lower the price.

May 01, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Here is a letter I sent to the editor of Smart Money Magazine regarding an article in the May 2008 issue.

Very rarely do I agree with anyone on the Fed's actions. However, Roger Lowenstein has it right in the May 2008 issue of Smart Money. When will people learn, lower interest rates do not solve the problems. This is in fact how we got into this mess: cheap, easy credit!

The best thing that can happen for the economy is if some people do indeed lose their homes and some mortgage lenders take a loss. Then maybe people with think about their financial habits a little bit more the next time those rates entice them into a purchase they cannot afford. And just maybe those mortgage lenders won’t be so willing to lend to those people that cannot afford the loan knowing the consequences.

Just my thoughts.

April 30, 2008

Book Review

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

I finished reading this book this past weekend and to sum up I would say, “Don’t waste your time” with this book.

The premise of the book is to help people (Christians and non-Christians) know what Jesus has to offer them, which is belonging to Him and being able to do what He wants you to do.

Piper starts with his life and journey to Christ and the ministry. The rest of the book focuses on ways not to waste your life.


  • Glorifying God with all aspects of your life
  • Focusing on the cross of Christ
  • Live for Christ and die for Christ
  • Take risks for Christ, like Esther, Daniel and his friends
  • Be glad with God and make others glad too
  • Use your possessions with a “war-time” purpose
  • Be salt of the earth and light of the world
  • Be missionaries

Anything else is a wasted life. We were created to glorify God by enjoying and displaying His excellence in all aspects of life (family, social, job, school, church, death, loss, etc). All Christians are called to proclaim the Good News and to do God’s work on earth.

I have found there are many books that cover the subject of Christian life much better. For example, the Bible! However, some people are looking for practical ways to implement God’s word in their life today. Piper’s book does not do that.

Next Book – The Extraordinary Mother by John MacArthur

April 29, 2008

Coke or Merlo?

The creative guru’s of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board are at it again. This time they are requesting proposals for the creation of wine vending machines! They, of course, use a more respectable term by calling them "kiosks". They would like to install 100 of these kiosks in what they term “satellite wine store locations”.

I guess it makes sense, we have legalized slot machine gambling. (In other related news, the PA Gaming Control board has been hearing of complaints about children at the slot machines. Read the story here for more information) So when the high-class gamblers of Pennsylvania lose their money at the Casino’s they can take their last dollar and jam it into a wine kiosk to drink their sorrows away.

This will also be of great comfort to those wine-o’s that really need a drink and can't get to a state store for their fix.

The temperature of the wine will be between 50 and 60 degrees with a relative humidity of at least 50%, but not greater than 80%.

The RFP does require the company manufacturing the kiosks to prevent minors from being able to purchase the wine. In fact, the kids are not even allowed to look at the wine in the vending machine. There also needs to be a way to determine if the person purchasing the wine is already drunk. Of course, the PLCB also requests that some type of loyalty card be used as well, you know, as a way to reward those loyal drinkers!

Oh, and just in case you did spend your last dollar at the casino, the machine will accept credit cards!

Pennsylvania’s leadership gets better and better each day.

Is it any wonder why this state and nation is in such bad shape?

April 28, 2008

I figured it out!

Why is the price of gas so high? In the past I have said it is because of supply and demand and I believe that is still the case but I indeed do believe the supply is being manipulated to cause a higher price. Here is why.

A few years ago, the people in the United States of America were called fat and lazy. Since then, there has been a move for healthier lives, especially in our children.

So now as you can see it makes sense.

The government artificially inflates the price of gasoline, thinking, people will walk and exercise more thereby becoming healthier. This has obviously backfired. People are fatter and lazier than ever and are using even more gas than ever.

Now the next brilliant idea from the government is to increase the price of food. Thinking that if we can’t get them to exercise more, at least they won’t be eating as much because they won’t be able to afford it.

In case you haven’t figured this out yet, I am obviously kidding. Everyone knows the government takes care of the lazy people and will never let them starve. Don’t believe me, look at our Congressmen, they aren’t starving!

April 25, 2008

Primary 2008 Results

Here is how I voted:

President: Ron Paul
Auditor General: Chet Beiler
District 12 US Rep: William Russell
District 62 State Rep: Dave Reed
Delegate RNC District 12: Steven O’Connor, Eirik Westcoat, Timothy Garso
Alt Delegate RNC District 12: Joseph Horvath, Jeffrey Westcoat

Here are the results (Republican):
President: John McCain
Auditor General: Chet Beiler
District 12 US Rep: Write In (assume) William Russell
District 62 State Rep: Dave Reed
Delegate RNC District 12: Don White, Bill Harris, Steven O’Connor
Alt Delegate RNC District 12: Joseph Horvath, Jeffrey Westcoat, Thomas Uram

Not bad I guess, we’ll see what happens in November.

Just a word to everyone that voted for Hillary or Barak, you voted to raise your taxes!

April 23, 2008

Update to Plants

Here is an update to a story I brought you last year. You can read the original story here

I purchased a few plants last spring and none of them grew. I sent the company a letter asking for a replacement (according to their guarantee) and never heard from them. I figured they just ignored my letter.

Last Saturday, I got a package from the Van Bourgondien company. It contained 4 replacement plants (2 Hydrangea’s and 2 Clematis). I guess they do honor their guarantee.

After thinking about it, it makes sense for them to send their plants in the Spring. However, to improve customer relations it probably would have been a good idea to respond to my request stating they would send my plants next spring.

We will see how these plants grow. They seemed to be a little healthier than the originals, but who knows.

April 22, 2008

I can't explain it! See for yourself.

At a Hilliary Clinton rally yesterday, our Lt. Governor, Catherine Baker Knoll, grabbed the microphone from Dan Onorato's hand, pointed to Dan and Mayor Luke and said "These two men can't stand women."

Again, this is at a Hilliary Clinton rally! That is PA Politics for you.

Watch the video for yourself at WTAE.

Don't forget to VOTE today in PA.

The people of Pennsylvania deserve what they voted for. Hopefully, the rest of America wises up, if not, the country deserves what it gets.

April 21, 2008

Casey for Obama!?!

Just a few weeks ago, the junior senator from Pennsylvania said he would not endorse a candidate until after the people of Pennsylvania have had their say in the election. However, like any politician he changed his mind and publicly supported Obama.

Why? He claims that the time was right and wanted to show his support for the man that can bring change to the U.S. He could also be eyeing a vice-president bid. It kind of makes sense. You take the most liberal democrat in congress and mix it will a moderate democrat and you may have a winning combo with the people.

The problem is the fact that the rest of the U.S. doesn’t really know what Casey is like. He is a simple do nothing, say nothing, know nothing kind of person. He was on the news arguing with Governor Rendell the other day and it wasn’t real clear what his argument even was! Even Rendell was a little lost in the conversation!

For better or worse Dick Chaney has changed the office of vice-president. We can’t have a moron or a slacker in there and we shouldn't have a blood thirsty, gun wielding nut case either!

I have said it before, if Clinton wins the bid for president expect to see Rendell involved in her administration somehow. I am now also declaring that if Obama wins, expect to see Casey as part of the team.

Either way it is a gain for Pennsylvania to get rid of them, but it will be a set back for the rest of the country.

April 14, 2008

Action Requested!

This is an important message for all Pennsylvanians in the 12th District (Cambria, Westmoreland, Allegheny, Greene, Armstrong, Washington, Somerset, Indiana, Fayette County).

Republican William Russell was kicked off the April 22nd ballot by John Murtha’s Democrats. There is still time, he only needs 1,000 write in votes on the primary next week in order to challenge Murtha this fall.

Write in “William Russell” on April 22nd to show these career politicians we mean business.

For more information check out William Russell’s web page.

April 11, 2008


That is the amount of money we spent on gasoline last month. I don't imagine it will get any cheaper.

Do you know why?

#1. Beacuse the U.S. doesn't use and isn't allowed to use the oil reserves it has to their full capacity.
#2. The government pork bellies are filled with a focus on ethanol and other inefficience alternatives.
#3. The people who can use mass tranist don't and won't.
#4. People just don't care enough to do something about it other than complain.

What will happen?

We are already seeing a rise in food and other prices. I strongly suspect we will see a rise in crime and to some extent we have with copper thefts. I also believe we will see more people relying on the government for assistance.

Can we stop this?

Yes, but the key word is WE. The government can't fix the problem by themselves. Businesses can't solve the problems either. The only way is if the people, the government, and business all make the necessary changes to their individual environment to solve the issues facing us today.

April 09, 2008

Time to Work?

Did you see who happened to show up for work yesterday?

Yep, that is right. For the first time in a while John, Hillary, and Barack all decided to show up for the work that taxpayers are paying them for.

Of course, it was just another political move to get themselves elected this fall.

As mentioned before on this blog, it doesn't really matter who is elected, none will do what they are promising to do.

Just my thoughts.

April 08, 2008

Bring our troops home!?!

It won’t happen like they claim no matter who is in the White House in January. Here is why.

The US economy has already tanked. If we were to bring home all of those troops, what would they do here? Many would stay in the military, but many will leave the armed forces and return to civilian life, but doing what?

The enlisted solider could be currently making as little as $2,000 to $2,500 a month depending on grade and years of service. That is $24,000 to $30,000 a year. (The lowest grade with less than 4 months service average salary is $30,810). In a down economy trying to find a job making that kind of money will be very challenging. Then of course we can’t forget the fact that Uncle Sam takes a bunch of money from civilians in the form of taxes too!

What about those reserve forces that are guaranteed a job when they return home? Well, depending on the industry or company they either may be laid-off or they will get their job back and someone else will be let go. Either way, someone looses their job.

Do I want our troops home? Absolutely, we should be securing our homeland first and then worry about the other countries. Unfortunately, I do not believe any of the top candidates for President will bring our troops home like they claim without causing a bigger mess. Remember, once the next President is elected, he or she will begin working toward their reelection.

April 07, 2008

Today's Question: Recession or Not?

The question on the mind of many people is: are we in a recession? If you were to ask most people that question, they would respond with a “Yes!” However, technically a recession is two or more declining quarters of GDP. So technically, no America is not in a recession. At least not yet!

However, this does not help if you have lost your job. In fact, that is the old saying. If your neighbor losses their job then it is a recession. If you lose your job then it is a depression!

While the United States, in general, is technically not in a recession, it may be different for you. My purchasing power has drastically decreased over the past several months. Food and fuel have cost much more. I estimate our food/household bill to be about $300 a month and our gasoline bill to be about $250 a month. Add in taxes and utilities and there isn’t much left at the end of each month. Home heating bills alone will be over $1,000 for the year.

In fact, some of the lower paid workers I have talked to are seriously thinking of quitting their job or at least looking for a job closer to their home. Of course, many of them do drive giant trucks or SUV’s. The cost of fuel and day care expenses no longer make it worthwhile to work.

It is nice to know there are non-profit organizations like the Angel Food Ministries to help all people provide food for their families. This is a program across the United States that provides a weeks worth of meals for a family of four for only $30. For more information or to find a local church partnering with Angel Food Ministries in your area check out their web site.

April 04, 2008

End of Pork!

Yep, that is essentially what Pelosi said a while ago when she was talking about a 1 year freeze on earmarks (pork spending). Last fiscal year there was over $17 million dollars worth of those earmarks in different bills. Hillary and Obama had a few, McCain had none.

Of course, we here in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be surprised that our buddy Murtha topped the list. Democrats have controlled the house and senate for 15 months now and what do we get, more spending and a worsening economy.

This next election we need to get rid of those career politicians like Murtha that do nothing but see how much money they can get at the expense of all taxpayers. We don’t need more of the same, vote for the challenger to stand for change in Washington and your state.

Enough is enough

April 03, 2008

Coincidence? I think not!

Higher gas prices are pretty much the norm these days. But wait let’s call the oil executives into congress and what happens to gas prices that very same day? Down 10 cents! Amazing.

I strongly believe in the market forces of supply and demand (for a normal competitive market). However, it is blatantly obvious even to the most casual of observers that if the price of gas is sky high and the oil companies are making record profits then the normal market forces are not working or they are being manipulated.

In this case, the oil companies have an oligopoly and must be manipulating the price to make record profits. How do I know this? Because their efficiency or productivity or technology have not increased enough to support record profits.

I have no problems with a business making a respectable profit, but it is clear to us, these companies are stealing from the people and it needs to stop. Many of the gas stations have signs up stating that their gas may have up to x% of ethanol in it. Great, but why is your price still the same as everyone else’s? Isn’t the use of ethanol supposed to wean us from foreign oil while reducing cost?

I think there are still some bugs to work out in the system. I am sure Hillary, John or Barack can come up with a solution to save us from this mess! But I won't hold my breath.

April 02, 2008

Campaign Money

Where does all that campaign money go when it isn’t being used for the campaign? From what we have learned Hillary Clinton hasn’t paid all of her bills yet, she still owes a couple hundred thousand for health insurance among others. But what about our good friend John Murtha. He is a money machine and hasn’t really had to campaign heavily for years. Where does his money go?

Apparently, he allows his staffers to buy guns! The Hill is questioning why one of Murtha’s aides spent over $2,000 on a rifle. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against buying guns, but why buy it with campaign money?

After The Hill questioned the purchase, the aide did reimburse the Murtha for Congress campaign. But, how is this legal or ethical? Here is the twist. The law allows for campaign money to be used for donations to charities. The rifle was purchased at a “Friends of the NRA” auction. It was considered a donation and since the Murtha campaign had no use for a rifle the staffer got to keep it.

So the next time you are thinking of donating some money to an election campaign you might want to reconsider, knowing where your money actually might go.

April 01, 2008

Book Review: The Body Dynamic

I finished reading “The Body Dynamic” by John MacArthur. In short, I was unimpressed with this book. I guess I was expecting something different.

The first four chapters of the book discuss the Church. These chapters are pretty much a simple review of the Church, what it is, how it was formed, who is the head, how you get into it, and things like that.

The last six chapters discuss how the Church works in the world. There is a chapter on acting like a member of the body, building up the body, unity of the body, fellowship, and witness. There was also a large chapter on gifts of the body, which describes the different spiritual gifts people are given for use in the Church.

Essentially, the Church is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the Church. The Holy Spirit works through the people in the Church to accomplish God’s will. The members and leaders of the Church should use their gifts to build up and unite the Church to witness to the world about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are already familiar with the scriptures dealing with the Church (Ephesians and 1 Corinthians) then you can probably skip this book. If you are not familiar with those scriptures then I would recommend reading those books of the Bible first and then if you still don’t understand get a copy of this book to further your studies of the Church.

Next book: Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper