Wednesday, March 28, 2007

FLYING THE FLAG



While walking my dogs a few weeks ago, I looked up at a large bird circling overhead and for the first time in a while noticed the American flag hanging on the high pole in front of a local mill. The mill has closed and the flag was obviously forgotten long before the recent closure. What makes this flag noteworthy is that its grand flapping-in-the-wind days are long gone. It barely stirred in the breeze; it just hung there – dirty, limp and tattered.

Betsy Ross would turn over in her grave!

Seriously, this is disrespectful of the flag, although not necessarily a deliberate disrespect. Section 8k of the Flag Code states, when the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Hopefully, I can finally manage to contact the mill owner and he will have the flag taken down, with due respect, and burned.

The American flag is symbolic of American freedom and sacrifice. Over the years, many have stood firm, fought and died to protect that freedom, and this is just as true today as it ever was.

One of the freedoms this flag represents is freedom of religion, something many countries do not have. The Voice of the Martyrs is only one of many websites you can visit to learn about the persecution of Christians throughout the world.

Fly the American flag with respect and thank God for the freedom to worship in American without fear of persecution.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Saturday, March 24, 2007

MINISTRY ACCOUNTABILITY

After watching ABC’s 20/20 program Friday night, I was reminded of the popular Biblical misconception that God loves a cheerful recipient of believers’ donations. I can not find that in my Bible.

What I do find in my Bible is the concept of cheerful giving. And evidently some ministries take advantage of believers who strive to practice the giving concept. This was not a surprise to me, but it probably is to those who believe a particular man, woman or ministry is God-anointed/appointed to live in lavish luxury while the donors live in mediocrity or poverty.

Is it possible that those who are presently living it up on donations for preaching the gospel will be begging with the rich man while Lazarus and his newfound donor friends are comforted in God’s kingdom? (Luke 16:19-31) And is it possible that some of those donors will be begging with the rich-in-this-life because their motives for donating were purely selfish and not generous toward the preaching of the Gospel?

It seems to me that those who donate to these ministries in order to coerce God into handing out wealth, health or happiness are just as wrong – okay, just as sinful – as those who are raking in donations for “God’s work” and use a large measure on personal opulence.

Ministries should be accountable for using donated funds wisely to accomplish the preaching of the Gospel and to help those in need. Many belong to Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. God’s Gospel is not the prosperity gospel. He did not promise to make everyone rich, to give everyone every desire of their imagination, or to enable everyone to live a perfect, pain-filled life.

I do not believe God expects us to give blindly, but to give wisely. I say this because I once belonged to a church that taught Old Testament tithing. The leadership lived in luxury, spending money lavishly, while asking the membership to dig deeper into their pockets and sacrifice over and above the tithes. While coming out of that system, I nearly fell, hook, line and empty wallet, for the prosperity gospel. Of course, not everyone that donates to any ministry expects something in return. Generous, cheerful giving is a way of life with many.

On 20/20 I learned of a group called Ministrywatch and although I am not familiar with the group, the concept of being aware of where and how your donations are apportioned and what beliefs the ministry promotes is sound. I don’t know about you, but if I have a choice between making a wealthy minister wealthier or helping someone who has a real need to hear the Gospel or feed a family, I know which choice I want to make.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PET FOOD RECALL LESSON

The latest pet food recall is big news, not to mention a big disaster. Several dogs and cats have already died from acute kidney failure from eating certain types of canned and pouch pet food packaged under 95 brand names by Menu Foods, and, sadly, more deaths are likely.

60,000,000 (yes, that’s 60 million) cans and pouches have been recalled, although testing has not as yet pinpointed what caused the kidney failure, even in young, healthy animals. Moldy wheat gluten is suspected, but not confirmed.

You can find more information on the recall at Pet Foods/Recall. You can click on individual brand names under cat or dog to read the specific wet food being recalled or other contact information. Or you can call either of these numbers: (866) 463-6738 or (866) 895-2708. A few other major pet food companies have voluntary joined the recall and these can be found at FDA News.

Every so often human food or pet food recalls hit the news because of E.coli, mold, heavy metal, or aflatoxin. Anything we eat could possibly become contaminated with something toxic and sicken or kill instead of providing nourishment.

Recalls are expensive, and not just from the loss of revenue from the product. Medical bills mount for those affected, legal fees can accumulate, and most importantly, lives are affected – and sometimes lost.

One contaminated ingredient is all it takes to do widespread harm.

And one unkind comment or accusation is all it takes to cut another to the core.

Some of us really do need to learn to think more often before we speak, and I include myself in that category. I have been known to open mouth, insert foot and then wonder what I did to end up in such a ridiculous position. But I have also been on the receiving end, so I know how much careless, rude, or angry comments can hurt.

Just yesterday I learned a professional person neglected to do something he was entrusted – and being paid - to do in a timely manner and the result is a delay that leaves me legally responsible for accomplishing something but without the legal right to actually do it properly. When I asked why his function had not been fulfilled within the required time frame, he turned on me in anger, closed his ears and mind to the subject at hand, and (to give the short version) told me I need to hire an accountant because I don’t know what I am doing and I will mess everything up. In other words, he made a mistake and that makes me incompetent.

Talk about someone ruining your day! That sure ruined mine. The words, though untrue, stung. They have been circling round and round in my mind for two days. I really wanted to refute them and, to be honest, to retaliate in kind.

Tonight, however, I am putting them where they belong – in the garbage. Just like the contaminated food being recalled, these words are contaminated and carry life-threatening germs. The one who spoke them is well-thought of in the community and holds a position in his church, but like many of us, when faced with a mistake with potential consequences, instead of admitting the mistake, he opened his mouth, stuck his foot in, and now is indelibly imprinted in my mind in that position.

I really desire to eliminate the angry, cold, careless, vengeful, accusatory and demeaning words that cut the heart from my speech, because, unfortunately, no apology in the world can effectively recall them once distributed.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Sunday, March 18, 2007

STILL WRITING

Since I have been asked why I have not been posting stories and whether I am still writing, it must be time to post something new to let folks know I am still alive and typing.

A few months ago I posted notice this site might have to close because my mother’s death brought heavy changes to my life. I did not have time to write for many weeks and that gave me some time and distance to consider options, one of which was to keep Mercy And Percy going, but perhaps with some changes.

It has been six months since Mother’s death and I am still unsure of what my future holds, but I am not twiddling my thumbs. I am chin-deep in trying to keep up with commitments, catch up with household duties (including a mountain of paperwork that needs sorting and filing – some mine, some Mother’s), juggle all the personal and legal obligations that follow a death, and tackle new projects. And I can’t forget to include my responsibility to the Funny Farm residents who need care and attention too or they stare at their empty bowls and drag leashes around the house to clue me in to their needs.

This has not been an easy time, but life is full of mountains and valleys. It has been a journey of hard work, exhaustion, illness, and discouraging setbacks. But the trek has included some great surprises, the support of loyal friends, and a stronger awareness of the presence of God in my life.

There will be more posts, but they might be sporadic.



www.mercyandpercy.com/