Friday, March 27, 2015

Springfield MO's Anti-discrimination Repeal: What Am I Missing?

Last fall the Springfield City Council passed a local ordinance that made it illegal to deny housing or employment based on sexual orientation. There is a ballot question to repeal this law on the April 7th ballot and many Christian religious groups are in support of the repeal.

Even my neighbor has a sign supporting its repeal in his yard and we are miles outside of the city limits of Springfield and nobody that lives in my neighborhood is eligible to vote on it.

Last Sunday, my daughter visited a Baptist church in Springfield where the pastor preached his message urging those attending to vote to repeal the ordinance and the church gave away yard signs. I saw a video clip of one of the largest evangelical churches in the greater Springfield area in which the pastor also urged those members that live in Springfield to repeal the city law.

What am I missing?

Are we, as Christians, seeking to repeal a law that protects people from discrimination?

I get that we don't agree with their lifestyle. I get that we often want to be in a position of ignoring the beam in our own eye while pointing at the sins of others. But shouldn't we be spending our time (especially our pulpit time) telling people about Jesus rather than working to promote discrimination against those that differ from us?

And how does this repeal square with the teaching and lifestyle of the Jesus we claim to follow? What about that "Love your neighbor as yourself" or "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" teaching?
Can we just ignore that and teach something completely contrary to it?

For some reason I'm thinking of that tax-collecting sinner Zacchaeus. Do you remember that story?
Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to town but was afraid he wouldn't get to see the famous teacher through the crowd so he climbs up in a tree to catch a glimpse. As Jesus passes, He looks up and sees Zacchaeus and invites himself to dinner at Zacchaeus' house!

Jesus went to the house of a known sinner and had a fellowship meal!

When the Pharisees and religious leaders would have nothing to do with Zacchaeus, Jesus went to his home.

Maybe it's just that we don't like the city telling us to do the things that the Bible already tells us to do. It is a little redundant, isn't it?
Yeah, right!

I know that I'm a little slow sometimes, but this has me completely baffled. I just don't understand why followers of Jesus would support discriminating against people that believe differently than they do. If I am to understand that this repeal of an anti-discrimination thing is a good thing--a Christian thing, then somebody way smarter than me (and way more spiritual) is going to have to explain it to me.

John <><

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Spring in the Ozarks!

Oh, I am sure that we will still have some cold days and frosty nights, but it is spring and I am rejoicing! It was warm and sunny yesterday and will be warm and cloudy today. There is rain in the forecast for the week, but it is spring and that is to be expected.

I haven't put in a garden for many years, but plan to this year. I know that many people already have their garden areas ready and I am going to be starting from nothing, but I am looking forward to the harvest! I am also looking forward to the work of getting my little (emphasis on little) garden going.

I have updated the Coming Events section in the right hand column (you'll need to view the web version if you are on your smart phone).
You can see that April will be another busy month. I do have events scattered through the summer months, but still have plenty of open dates. Please schedule as early as you can if you are planning an event or need Sunday supply for a vacation.

People have been asking me about retirement. I'm really still a novice at this and am not real sure of how I should respond.
I know that I don't miss work.
I know that I haven't been bored.
I know that I only set my alarm clock on Sunday mornings and am usually awake before it goes off.
I know that I see very few people during the week (and I like that).
I know that I have control of my schedule (and I like that, too).
I know that dealing with the government agencies on retirement is as messed up as working for the government (I expected that, but don't like it).
And I am looking forward to getting better at this retirement gig and finding more things to do and places to go.

I hope to make a trip to the DC area and take in a Nationals baseball game with my oldest brother and perhaps meet fellow blogger Bilbo.
I need to make the Central Illinois trip to visit my parents.
I'm looking forward to the Chicago UFC Fight Night this summer.
I know that there will be a sunny beach sometime this year.
Springfield Cardinals baseball begins in a few weeks.

Lots of things. Lots of thoughts.

Have a grand first week of spring. (And to my Australian cousins -- enjoy the fall!)

John <><

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winter to Spring; Despair to Hope

It somehow seems appropriate that the last day of winter is another overcast and dreary day here in the Ozarks.
Tomorrow, the first full day of spring will be partly sunny and warmer temperatures, but today is very representative of the gloom of winter.

Even while time passes and the sun makes its way into the northern hemisphere, for many people the gloom of winter will continue. For some reason, an awareness of the many people that are suffering from some kind of depression has come to me. I'm not sure why that is; only that it is.

Statistically, a significant number of the people that we relate to every day are clinically depressed. Most of them are undiagnosed and therefore untreated. I'm not sure what this says about our society today. I only know that there are far too many people living life under a dark and dreary cloud.

I wonder if this has always been the case and we are just getting better at recognizing and diagnosing depression, or if the stresses of life and our abilities to deal with them have grown at disproportionate rates.

There is no doubt that life can be stressful. And I think that the rules of competition have changed greatly as the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to grow. I also think that social rules have changed greatly with the advances in technology, perhaps at a rate that exceeds our ability to adapt. We are social creatures, but our social communities have less defined boundaries. We are, in many ways, less sure of who we can trust and more isolated than ever before. We have the world at our fingertips and yet we are alone. We are isolated and yet exposed.

Although we would often like to disconnect from the grand network, we also need it for the information and resources that it provides. We have come too far to go back and yet we are unsure if we are heading in the right direction. We move forward cautiously and with a certain amount of fear of the unknown.

It is my hope that as winter gives way to spring, despair can give way to hope; as the clouds give way to the sun and nature comes to life, we, too, can begin to grow a little.

And we can learn from the change in seasons--the clouds, the rain, the snow, the cold, the death of things are all necessary to bring about the abundant life of spring.

Plants die in the fall. Seeds fall to the ground. Some become food for the birds and other creatures and some are dormant throughout the winter. Snow covers them in the winter, and in the spring they burst forth in new life!

Seasons are for change.
It is the way of things.

Be well, my friends!

John <><

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sleeping In

Today is the first day that I've really slept late since retiring.
It felt pretty good.

I actually woke up at a little after 6 (6 hrs after going to bed), but decided that I should go back to sleep. I woke up again after one more sleep cycle (90 minutes) and decided that I could get up and make some coffee or stay in bed and see if I could drift off for one more cycle (which I did).

Nice, huh?

I know that some people are morning people; some are not. Some people will sleep late every chance they get; others are up with the sun whether they have something planned for the morning or not. Most mornings I'm not the sleep in kind of guy, but today it felt right.

Which is it for you? Sleep in when you can or get up and get going?

Well now I've had coffee, breakfast, yelled at a guy from the bank and am ready to get my day underway.

It's a little gloomy in the Ozarks; overcast skies and cool temperatures, but that's okay. It's not snowing, spring is only a couple of days away and baseball season is just around the corner!

Be well,

John <><

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This Gift is Free!

God Loves You!
Jesus Died for You!

Those are the first two posts in this three part post. If you haven't read them, go read them now. Then come back for part 3.

* This gift is free!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  Ephesians 2:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

* You could never deserve it

...know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.  Galatians 2:16

...he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit  Titus 3:5

* ...And just by accepting this gift...

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God had raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

...for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  Romans 10:13

*...Your sins will be forgiven and forgotten.

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

* You will be reconciled to God

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  2 Corinthians 5:18

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ  Romans 5:1

* ...And live with Him forever in heaven!

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ  Philippians 3:20

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus  Ephesians 2:6

And that is the expanded version of the 60 second gospel.
If you want a condensed version, here it is:

God loves you.
Jesus died for you.
Salvation is a free gift.
Receive it and be reconciled to God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Any questions?

John <><

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jesus Died for You

Yesterday's post ended with the hard truth that we are all sinners and our sin separates us from God...for all eternity.

* But there is Good News!

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." Luke 2:10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7

* A perfect life can be substituted for yours.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15

* And God loves you so much that He gave up His Son

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

* that Jesus would be your substitute

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

* ...And through his death

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

* You can have eternal life

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 1Thessalonians 5:10

*...And by His resurrection, death is defeated.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. the one who believes in me will live, even though they die" John 11:25

That is the story of God's great love. His son,
Jesus, took our sin and took our punishment.
Jesus takes our sin and gives us His righteousness.
Jesus takes our guilt and gives us His glory.
Jesus takes our death and gives us eternal life.

It sounds like a pretty good trade to me.

Tomorrow, the rest of the Good News!

John <><

Monday, March 16, 2015

God Loves You

If you've been a follower of Out of My Hat for very long, you've probably read these two statements before:

God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

Recently, I ran across this sixty second gospel.

I doubt that I could use this to share the gospel in just 60 seconds, but I would like to take a few posts and use it to share some thoughts on the God loves you/Jesus died for you statements.

* God loves you.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is Love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. 1Jn4:16

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8

* But God hates your sin.

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. Psalms 5:4

But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." Hebrews 1:8

These first two statements in the 60 second gospel message are the beginning of the message of salvation. God created you and loves His creation. He loves you.
But God is a holy God and a just God. He is perfect (holy) and without sin.  As a just God, He cannot tolerate sin.


* Even if you are a "good" person...

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

*...You have not lived a perfect life...

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;..." Romans 3:10

*...And neither has anyone else.

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

* Your sin has separated you from God.

But your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

* And your payment for sin is death.

...for the wages of sin is death,... Romans 6:23

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. James 1:15

God loves you.
But He is a perfect and holy God and cannot stand sin (unholiness).
We (all of us) are sinners and our sin separates us from a just and holy God.

It sounds like a horrible ending awaits all of us!

But there is Good News!
Jesus died for you!

More tomorrow...

John <><

Pg 2: Jesus Died for You

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Writers' Meeting!

It is a second Saturday of the month and that means time for another writers' club meeting.

In one sense, these meetings are a little bit depressing. Of course, that's only because I'm not really writing anything.
In another sense, they are pretty encouraging...which is why I keep going to them.

Last night, Chris said that a friend thinks I should start a writers' club in Ozark. I said, "Why me? I'm not even a real writer!"
She said, "Then why do you go to those writers' meetings?"

I guess I go because I want to be a real writer.

In the six weeks since leaving my career as an air traffic controller, I have managed to post something here or at Healthy Living (by an unhealthy guy) just about every day.  But I'm not sure that I really consider that writing. It isn't anything creative like my blogger friend Angel with her great stories. Nor does it take any research or background like other blogs that I read.
No jokes. No cartoons. No interesting links.

I've pretty much ventured away from the political garbage that is sure to offend at least half of the people that read and respond. I mostly just sit and type out whatever happens to be spilling from my pea sized, half awake brain as I work on my first cup of coffee.

Eventually, I'll get around to working on that book that is locked in my head. Actually, there are a couple of them up there. I'm just waiting for the motivation to work on getting them out and into a format that the rest of you can enjoy.

Until then, you're stuck with the boring experiences of my life or the trivial thoughts that spill out of my head.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

John <><

Friday, March 13, 2015

Words Can Hurt...

...Not just the words, but how they are said, too.

I've said it before, I am a slow learner. Although I have managed to temper my tongue on many occasions and am learning that not everything I think has to be verbalized, I still manage to say things that I later regret.

Sometimes it is odd the things that we hear. Often times, we hear things that were never said or read things into what was said that was never meant. I'm learning (slowly) that most misunderstandings can be avoided by keeping my mouth shut.

I'm also learning that most of what people have to say isn't all that important to begin with. If I feel that way about what others have to say, I imagine they probably feel that way about my opinions, too.

Even thought each of us is ultimately responsible for how we feel and how we let other people make us feel, we are also each responsible for the things we say and the potential that our words have to hurt someone. It would be a lot easier if words only hurt like in the GEICO commercial.

Be careful of the things you say today...

John <><

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's Official!

Last Sunday, someone asked me how it felt to be retired. I told them that so for it really just felt like I have had a few days off. Besides, since I hadn't actually received a retirement income yet, it could just be that I hadn't shown up for work for 30 days!

Well, now it is official!

My first partial retirement check has been deposited into my account (and only 1 week late!)! I still haven't figured out how the government can get away with issuing interim checks (sometimes for several months) instead of getting the calculations right (and on time) from day 1. It's not like someone is calculating with pencil and paper or using an abacus to determine what your annuity payout is supposed to be.

Oh well. After a career with the government and all of the meaningless bureaucracy, why should I expect less in retirement?

Hopefully, I'll have many more years of frustration ahead of me!

John <><

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tower Return

A week or so ago I had a magic show for an Upwards Basketball program in Stockton MO. It was a Saturday morning and the weather was getting bad. By the time the program was over and I was on my way home, the road conditions were deteriorating pretty quickly.

Several miles on my way, I received a call that I had left my top hat at the gym. Rather than turn back, I called a former co-worker. (They're all former co-workers now!) Since he lives in Stockton, he picked up my hat (actually, his wife did) and brought it in to work. Today, I made the trip to the tower to retrieve my hat.

I can't say that I expected to be out there so soon (actually didn't really have any plans to return at all), but it was good to see a few of the controllers that were working.

It was a nice visit. I spent most of my time visiting with my old chief and discussing his plans for retirement! Like most air traffic facilities, SGF is understaffed and has a significant number of eligible to retire controllers. Four of us have gone this year! I don't think that anyone else is planning on going in 2015, but you never know.

I don't plan on making the tower a regular place to visit, but do have plans to get together with a few of the folks from there.

All-in-all, it was a good decision to go.
And a good time to go, as well.

John <><

Friday, March 06, 2015

Seasons of Life

The coming days are bringing a warming trend to the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri. The weather is forecast to be sunny and temperatures will be climbing to the low 60s by mid week.
Spring is on its way.

The changing of the seasons often reminds us of the changes in life.

I guess when it comes to seasons of life, retirement seems that it would be more like autumn than like the coming spring. I'm okay with that. I know that I'm no kid anymore. It is pretty obvious as I try to achieve and maintain some level of physical fitness. Although I am in better shape now than I have been in decades, the effects of several inactive decades are pretty obvious.

Also, I know that I am relatively young to be retired and I don't really feel like an old man...maybe just an older man.

But to add to the feeling that age is gaining ground... baby is engaged!

How did that happen?

In reality, I know that she's grown into a great young woman. And I know that her fiance really loves her and she loves him. That they want to get married is no surprise.

But a part of me wants to hold on to my little baby.


Seasons are for change.
Kids grow up.
Life goes on.

John <><

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Magical Kind of Day

It's another cold day in the Ozarks.
However, the sun is shining and it looks like it will be a beautiful day!

I imagine that the sun will begin to melt away yesterday's snow, in spite of temperatures that never break above the freezing point. The forecast for the coming days is lots of sun and gradually warming temps until we hit the 60s  (15.5C) for early next week.

What makes today a magical day is that I will begin (in earnest) to work on my school magic show that I purchased some time ago as a retirement business. There is much to learn, from some new (to me) effects, the show patter and setting up and working the equipment and props.

I'll begin by re-watching the video performance of the show and then I'll start to work on the effects, one at a time. Most of them are relatively simple effects as the message is as important as the entertainment part. I am looking forward to being able to book the show in area schools and eventually to increase my market area to Missouri and surrounding states.

I'll post more as I develop a website for the program and have a chance to post some videos.

Have a grand day!

John <><

Btw... the St. Louis Cardinals have their first Spring Training game today!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Living in the End Times; Does it really matter?

I have heard this for a number of years -- "We are living in the end times!"

It always comes from well meaning Christians that think they are well versed in end time prophesy and view all of the bad things in life as signs of the last days. But does it really matter?

The simple truth is that, for any one of us, the last day could be today. If the idea that we are living in the end times motivates fellow believers to share the gospel, I guess that is a good thing, but let's face it --
   1) Life has no guarantee for tomorrow
   2) Most of them aren't going to share the gospel anyways.

Their cry of living in the end times becomes a story of the boy that cried, "Wolf!"

Whether the end of time comes tomorrow or the life of an individual ends tomorrow, the results will be the same.
In Missouri this past weekend, there were a number of deaths from weather related traffic accidents and there were a number of people murdered. I'm sure that there were other natural deaths, deaths from disease, or other deaths from other unexpected causes.

For each person that didn't live to see Monday, it was the same as if Jesus raptured His church.

Around the country, people have been making their preparations for winter storms. NASCAR fans are making plans to watch next week's race, baseball fans are ready for the season to begin and basketball fans and hockey fans are preparing for the end of their seasons. We save money and make plans for retirement. We save for our kids' educations. We make all kinds of plans for the future and give no thought to eternity.

What will happen to you when this life is over?
Do you believe in an afterlife?
If so, how are you preparing for it?

If you haven't been following Out of My Hat for very long, you need to know that I believe that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. I believe that when He said that no one comes to the Father except through Him, He was telling it like it is...No one gets to heaven except through Jesus!

I don't know what your beliefs about heaven and hell are. I don't know what plans you are making for the afterlife. But I do know that you need to give it some thought, and you need to have a reasonable amount of faith that you've got it right.

I'm open to your thoughts and comments on the subject. I am not going to get in a fight with you over your beliefs and I will not be disrespectful towards you. I moderate all comments so I won't allow anyone else to be disrespectful, either.
Please, feel free to weigh in with your end time thoughts or your thoughts on what follows this life.

My thoughts are pretty simple.
God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

John <><

Still Being the Dad

This afternoon finds me at a walk-in clinic with my baby. She's not really a baby anymore (23), just my baby.

She had to leave her car at work yesterday and needed a ride to the Dr's office today. We'll go have lunch when we're finished here and then I'll drop her off at her car.

As an independent young woman, she probably hates having to rely on her dad. As for me, it's still nice to get to be dad once in a while.

John <><

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Weekend Snow; Winter Rant

It is a quiet Sunday morning in the Ozarks. Many church services have been cancelled today because cancelling church services and other activities is what we do in the Ozarks whenever there is a little bit of snow on the roads.

On one hand, it doesn't bother me that there are so many cancellations due to winter weather. On the other hand, we have become a bunch of weenies. To be fair, maybe Southwest Missourians have always been weenies. Having grown up in Central Illinois and lived in both Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa, making cancellations the norm for a couple of months of the year is a little bit ridiculous.

Certainly personal responsibility and personal limitations need to be recognized, and some common sense needs to be exercised. But when events are cancelled because some people that shouldn't be out will try to come anyways...really?

So it's not safe to be on the roads to go to church today, huh? My guess is that the gas station next to the church will be open and people will be there. I'd bet the restaurants will be open and some of your church people will be out to eat today. People will be going to work today. People will be going to the grocery stores, going to friends' homes and going out to play. You might not want to be out. You might not need to be out. If you think it's too dangerous for you to be out, stay in. But in general, it's not too dangerous to be out.

I know that there are other factors in play. I know that churches and businesses worry about liability issues if they can't get their lots cleared and their walkways are slick. We think that we have to make decisions for others because they may make bad decisions about their personal limitations. But let's face it, we're winter weenies.

Personally, I'm enough of a winter weenie that I'd leave it all behind and move to a sunny beach if I could convince my wife to move with me! But while I'm here, I'll go out if I need to or even if I want to. If I had to be at work today, I'd be there. Fortunately, I don't. Somebody else can talk to the snowplows and snow blowers as they clear the runways and taxiways!

Okay. Rant is over.
I need to get dressed to go out and get Chris her fountain soda fix! I'm way more afraid of her without a soda than I am afraid of driving in the winter weather!

John <><