Archive for February, 2013

Raising Revenue, but not Taxes

February 28, 2013

I have entered late into the political arena.  Last year, for the very first time,  I attended the local and district  caucuses.  It was an educational experience, and I think that I will continue to be involved at least to some degree.

Just this week, I had another first.

I emailed our state senators and our representative.

I have often thought that I should contact those who serve us, but until now, I have not ever taken the time.

I should have started these activities earlier in my life.  It was not difficult.  Democracy works better when people take the time to be involved.

Here is the email that I sent.

Message: Dear Senator, 

I, along with many others, am concerned about the budget deficit.  I would like 
to make a suggestion about how to raise income without raising taxes. 

Limit tax returns. 

As it is right now, individuals can utilize a whole variety of tax credits that 
can enable them to get enormous refunds that far exceed the tax money that they 
actually paid in to the system. 

It could be set that no one receives a tax return that exceeds the amount that 
was actually withheld from their checks.  They would still get their money back, 
but nothing extra.  

It would be necessary to adjust the W2s so that their was a distinction between 
money paid by the individual and money paid by their employer, or better yet, 
just don't show the amount paid by the employer.  The individual should only 
receive the money back that they paid.  

This would accomplish two things: 1. less excess money would be paid out for 
credits that exceed money received, and 2. the taxes paid by the employer could 
be kept. 

Technically, no taxes are raised, but the net benefit to the government would be 
substantial. 

Thank you to whoever actually reads this email, I hope that it will at least be 
considered.  

Sincerely, 

Curtis Girod
At this time, I have received basic form letters back from two of three that I contacted.  I also, noticed my misspelling of “there” with “their”  but I did not correct it for this post, since it was not correct in my original email.  I will need to be more careful.

At any rate, I would encourage you to be more involved in the political process.  Keep an open mind, be willing to listen, not just speak, avoid harsh rhetoric, and let us see if our political climate can improve with our participation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author’s Note

February 28, 2013

First,  I would like to thank all of you who have begun following my blog in the last few months.  It seems as though the posting of sermon notes has been well received.  However, this blog was originally intended to include posts about a wide variety of topics.  It has only been in the last year that I started posted my sermon notes, which was done primarily for those in my congregation.  Then I stopped writing other posts, primarily because of time constraints.  It is my intention to continue posting sermon notes, normally on Mondays, and a different post, on random topics, normally on Thursdays.  I hope that this will not be a problem for those of you who have been following the post strictly for the sermon notes.

I appreciate comments made on articles, or on sermon notes for that matter.  They do have to be moderated so there is a delay in their being posted.

Thank you.

Obey, Pray, and Act

February 25, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 2/24/13.

Introduction:  I have been reading in Daniel. When most people think of Daniel the first thing that comes to mind is Daniel in the lions’ den.  The second thing that most people would think of is Daniel’s friends and the fiery furnace.  Today’s message is about neither of those, although the first point does come from the story of the lions’ den.

I.  Obedience to God: Daniel 6:10

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

The king had been convinced to proclaim a law that no one was to petition any man or god, besides himself for thirty days.  The law could not be revoked and the penalty for breaking this law would be to be cast into the den of lions.

Daniel was fully aware of this new law and still prayed in front of an open window three times that day.

Martin Luther, and others have talked about our dual citizenship.  We are members of a kingdom here on earth, and we are members of the kingdom of heaven.  We are to obey the laws of our earthly kingdom.  Even Jesus said that we are to “render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s”.

However, if there is a conflict between the laws of the worldly kingdom, and the laws of the heavenly kingdom, we are to obey the laws of God.

II.  Prayer and Trust: Daniel 9:19

 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

This verse comes at the beginning of a marvelous messianic prophecy.  I love the basic outline of prayer that it gives to us.

O Lord, hear!  God hears our prayers.  We do not have to wake Him up.  We do not have to gain His attention.  He is always listening.  This beginning reminds us of the truth that God does indeed hear our prayers.

O Lord, forgive!  If we think about our country as a whole, there is a lot of sin that needs to be forgiven.  If we think about the Christian church as a whole, there is a lot of sin to be forgiven.  If we are honest, we will recognize that none of us have yet reached perfection.  We fall short in word or deed, or thought;  by what we have done, and by what we have failed to do.  We all need forgiveness,

O Lord, act!  Our God is able to take action in our lives.  He is able to intervene in the activities of this life for our sakes.  He does not simply stand off and watch, He is able to act in the affairs of this world.

III.  Take Action:  Daniel 11:32-33a

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame;

This verse comes before a prophecy regarding the end times.

The people who know God refers to all of us who are living our lives in a relationship with God.  We can know Him.  It is exciting to know that we can know Him better.  We do not have to remain stagnant in our relationship with God.

We can be strong in the Lord.  Whatever difficulties may come our way, we are able to stand in the day of adversity because we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

We will be a people who act.  We are not merely spectators.  We take part in the ongoing work of God in this world.  Even seemingly small things can be great when they are done according to the will of God.

Those who understand will instruct many.  When the day comes, many people will be open to hear the things of God.  Those who know God, and understand will be able to share that faith with many.

Since I was a young boy, I have heard people speak as if the end is near.  Still today, many believe that the closing days of earth’s history are at hand.  They could be right.  Even if they are not, it is important for the people of God to follow the laws of God, to pray and trust, and to take action in times of trouble.

God Working Through Us

February 20, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 2/17/13.

I.  Warning of the Watchman: Ezekiel 33:1-11

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Ezekiel uses the illustration of a watchman to underscore his responsibility to warn the children of Israel.  I wonder, to what degree are we responsible to warn people of coming judgement?  Have we been called, like Ezekiel, to sound a warning?  I do not believe that we need to grab people by the collar, get in their face and scream “Turn of burn!”  but what is our responsibility as believers with a message that contains aspects of both forgiveness and judgement?

II.  Warning Disregarded:  Ezekiel 33:30-33

 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

The people did not respond to the message of Ezekiel.  He had, however been faithful to his calling.  We too, should not be as concerned with whether or not people respond to our message, but we should be concerned with whether or not we are faithfully discharging our responsibilities.

III.  The Good Shepherd:  Ezekiel 34:11-16

 ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.

God is at work in the world seeking out His own.  Jesus referred to Himself as “the Good Shepherd” and we can trust that God is at work in our world.

We should also realize that God works through us. He will orchestrate the affairs of life so that His message can get through to His sheep.  His sheep will hear and recognize His voice.

IV.  The Dry Bones Live:  Ezekiel 37:1-10

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Although these verses were originally referring to the restoration of Israel, I believe that they speak to the ability of God to restore life to all things dead. People can be restored.  We should never give up hope.  We should continue to pray, and witness, and live our lives in such a way that God may use them for His glory.

Warnings & Hope

February 18, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 2/17/13.

I.  Hope for the Wicked: Ezekiel 18:19-23

Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

There is hope for the wicked.  People have the opportunity to repent, to turn away from sin and choose to do what is right.  We know from the New Testament that we are saved by grace, through faith, not by works.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  We also know from James that “faith without works is dead”.  (James 2:17-18)  What needs to take place is that people turn away from evil, and towards God.  Faith precedes works, but works do follow genuine faith.  God continues to call to the wicked, and if they turn to Him they can be saved.

II.  Warning to the Righteous:  Ezekiel 18:24-26

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

It is important to continue in the way of righteousness.  We cannot count on an experience of the past.  Whether we are counting on a conversion experience, baptism, confirmation,  or church membership; if our faith is not current, then we are in trouble.  We are called to continue to walk in faith, obedience, and a living relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

III.  A New Heart:  Ezekiel 18:31-32

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

The concept of a new heart is not unique to the New Testament.  Although in the New Testament we use phrases like “born again” and ” a new creation”  these concepts have been a part of God’s relationship with humanity since the beginning.  It is God’s desire to bring us life, not death: forgiveness, not judgement.  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  (Romans 6:23)

The Lord is Our Portion

February 14, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 2/3/13.

I.  God Protects His People:  Ezekiel 9:1-7

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.  And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

Do not be deceived, God is willing to carry out judgement upon the wicked.  Some emphasize the love of God to the point that people may think that God would never pass judgement with severe penalties.  That would be wrong.

Even in the midst of judgement against evil, God is able to look out for His people.   He does not forget us.

II.  Even in Judgement, God is Faithful: Lamentations 3

A.   Affliction vv1-3:

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.

Jeremiah was a faithful servant of God, yet he was caught up in the judgement that fell on Jerusalem.  He was mistreated by the people to whom he proclaimed the word of the Lord.  He experienced much hardship.

B.  More Hardship vv16-18

He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And covered me with ashes.
17 You have moved my soul far from peace;
I have forgotten prosperity.
18 And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”

Jeremiah experienced great misery.  He did not blame the devil, or people for his suffering,  he rightly recognized that God had allowed those things to happen to him.

C  Hope vv19-21

Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

Even in the midst of his suffering he has hope.  Hope is something that is precious, and God offers to us all a hope that goes beyond our circumstances.

D.  God is Faithful vv22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

God is faithful.  His mercy is new every morning.  God is good to His people.  Most importantly “the Lord is my portion”.  We have the ability to be in a relationship with God.  Our fellowship with Him is not destroyed by difficult circumstances.  God is with us always.  If we were more aware of His presence, the afflictions of this life would be much easier to bear.

III.  There is a Reason  Lamentations 3:37-38

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?

Nothing can affect us without God’s permission.  God is in control even though people are able to exercise their own wills, God is watching over everything and can intervene at any time.  God has a reason for allowing what He allows, He is not being mean, nor arbitrary, nor ineffective.  We just do not have the capacity to understand.  Remember Job “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

God is our portion.  In Him, we are content.  No matter what may happen, we may be secure in Him