Archive for March, 2013

ACA Loophole

March 21, 2013

I was reading in my local paper an article about changes that the County Conservation Board would be making in the future.  They regularly employ individuals for seasonal work.  These employees work forty hour weeks, some of them for more than four months.  Under the Affordable Care Act the county will be required to provide health coverage for these individuals.  Some of these people are actually retired, covered by Medicare.  The county will still be required to provide health coverage under the ACA.  Anyone working more than thirty hours a week for more than four months  must be provided health insurance or the employer will face penalties.

The solution is likely to be either limit the employee to four months, or more likely, reduce the weekly hours to less than thirty hours a week, and hire more people to make up the hours.  This will allow the county to still get the work done and not have to provide coverage.

I strongly suspect that there will be a lot of companies that will take advantage of this loophole.  Instead of providing health care, they will simply have more employees, working less than thirty hours.

This, of course, will mean that their employees will make less money, and be legally responsible for their own health care.  This health care will be made available at lower rates, subsidized by the government, adding to the financial burden placed on our country.

In addition, the workers will most likely need to find additional employment, working a second job to provide enough income to meet their needs.

I am concerned about the future for workers, employers, the medical field, and our government.

The Plumb Line

March 18, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 3/17.

Introduction:  My father was very gifted at working with his hands.  He added on to, or remodeled, the houses that we lived in, and the stores that they owned.  The only time that I remember him hiring someone to work on the property was when he was adding on to the kitchen, which included a room in the basement.  He hired a man to lay the cinder blocks for the foundation.  When I asked him about it he replied that the foundation was too important, and that he had too little experience.  A foundation that was not square and plumb would create numerous problems.

I.  The Plumb Line:  Amos 7:7-9

Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”

And I said, “A plumb line.”

Then the Lord said:

“Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.
The high places of Isaac shall be desolate,
And the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste.
I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam.”

Israel was like a wall that was crooked.  God was going to tear down, and rebuild.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we took the plumb line of God’s Word and applied it to our lives.  Would we need to be straightened out, or completely rebuilt?

II.  Judging Ourselves:  I Corinthians 11:31

 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.

The question is ” How do we judge ourselves?”

A.  Do we believe in Jesus?  John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the starting point.  If we do not believe in Jesus then nothing else really matters.  Faith in Jesus is where we must begin.

B.  Do we love God?  Matthew 22:36-38

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God should be the most important thing in our lives.  If there is anything else that is more important to us, then we need to change our attitude.

C.  Do we love our neighbor?  Matthew 39-40

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are to love everyone, not just our family and friends, not just our fellow believers, not just the nice people, or people like ourselves; we are to love everyone, because God loves everyone.

D.  Have we forgiven others? Matthew 6:14-15

 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we do not forgive others we are poisoning our own lives.  Unforgiveness will create bitterness, which leads to anger and hatred.  It will affect our relationships with others and according to the verses that we have read, will nullify our own salvation.  It is very serious.

We may not feel like forgiving a person.  We can make a conscious choice, by an act of our will, to declare that we do forgive them.  Then we should pray for them.  We may need to do this daily for a while.  In time, our hearts will be healed, our emotions will change and we can move on.

E.  Are we keeping the commandments? I John 5:3

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

Which commandments?  The Bible contains direction for our lives.  We should be reading, and studying the scriptures, and applying them to our lives.  The Holy Spirit will give us understanding and strength to apply the Word to our lives.  It is an ongoing process.

F.  Have we taken up our cross?  Matthew 16:24-27

  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Have we given our lives to Christ?  Are we doing what He wants us to be doing?  Are we in the place that He wants us to be?  Are we open to change?  Have we asked God to guide our steps?

If we ask God to guide us then it is up to Him to direct us.  In the absence of clear communication, we can do what we think is best, God’s Word to guide us.  The important thing is that we have offered our lives to God, and asked for His direction.

III.  Discipline:  I Corinthians 9:27

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Hold the plumb line of God’s word to your lives.  Ask God for the wisdom to know what needs to be changed.  Ask God for the strength to change what needs to change.  God loves us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us the way that He found us.

Conclusion:  Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

The Morality of “Bodies Revealed”

March 7, 2013

Bodies Revealed is an educational exhibit that is traveling around the United States.   It is a unique display of human bodies in various stages of, I suppose you could say, dissection.  The bodies of people who had donated their remains to science have been disassembled to various degrees, preserved so that they will not decompose or smell, and then posed in various positions.  Some body organs are available for people to handle, so that we can literally hold another person’s heart in our hands.  It is claimed that it demonstrates the workings of the human body in a powerful and unique way.  The hope is that it will inspire a new generation of doctors, scientists, etc.

They are obeying the letter of the law.  The bodies were donated for educational purposes.  The end result may be positive in that it may result in people pursuing careers in the medical field.  It is possible that the driving forces behind the exhibit really do have motives that are more honorable than simply making money.

Even so, it just seems wrong to me.  I recognize that I am primarily relying on an intuition that other people may not share, and so there may not be many who agree that it is wrong.  It is not possible to argue from intuition, all we can really do is see how many other people share our opinion.  We can also challenge some of the claims that provide moral support for the exhibit.

I do not have a problem with the use of human bodies for medical education and research.  However, the  vast majority of people who will be viewing this exhibit will not be  pursuing anything other than a morbid curiosity to see real human bodies.

Yes, people donated their bodies to science, without many restrictions.  I wonder if they would have donated their bodies if they were made aware previously that they would basically become preserved and publicly displayed?  In some regards, they are the subjects of human taxidermy.

Although some will be inspired to pursue medical careers, will some merely have their imaginations further excited?  In a time when we regularly see human bodies in all states of decomposition regularly displayed on our television sets, are there some people who want to see the real thing?  Will this lead some down the right path of medical research?  Will it lead some down a more sinister path?  What will be the true lasting consequences of this morbid display of human remains?

The exhibit has done very well at the places where is has been on display.  I suspect that revenue is up.  That is not a bad thing, our museums do need to meet their operational budgets.  It does make me wonder whether the motivation behind the exhibit is indeed, public education, or does it simply come down to profitability?

Were the scientists/artists who put the exhibit together motivated by a desire to share knowledge, or were they more excited about working with a medium that was taboo throughout most of human history?

As I said earlier, this might all be a perfectly moral enterprise.  I do not know any of the people involved.  They might all be wonderful people, working from pure motives.

It just seems wrong to me.

What do you think?




Pursue the Knowledge of God

March 4, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 3/3/13.

I.  Pursue the Knowledge of God:  Hosea 6:1-3

Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

There are multiple layers of meanings in these words.  For the original hearers, there was a call to repentance, to turn away from sin and return to the Lord.  There is also a messianic center, as we recognize the reference to the resurrection.  There is also a timeless principle that can be drawn out of the original, and applied to all ages.

God is our Father, our creator.  We are meant to be in a relationship with Him.

Sometimes God allows difficult circumstances to come into our lives.  He is trying to get our attention.  He starts with a still small voice, but if we do not listen, then He may raise His voice, or change tactics.  He is motivated by a love for us, and a desire for reconciliation.

If we would pursue the knowledge of God, then we would be able to hear His still, small voice.  He would direct our paths by His Spirit and His Word.  We pursue the knowledge of God through studying the scriptures and spending time in prayer.

The knowledge of God can really be beneficial, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

II.  The Fiery Furnace:  Daniel 3

In this chapter, the king has made a golden statue.  He has commanded that everyone is to bow in worship to this image that he has created.  The penalty for disobedience is to be cast into the fiery furnace.  Daniel’s three friends; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to comply.  They are brought before the king, who gives them another chance, warning them of the consequences of disobedience.   Their reply is found in Daniel 3: 16-17.

  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

I appreciate the faith that is expressed in this response.  God is able to save them from the fire.  One way or another, they will be delivered from the hand of the king.  Death would be a form of deliverance, or God can save them from the fire.  Either way, they will not worship the idol of gold.

Daniel 3: 19-25

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”

They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”

25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

The fourth person is a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.  In this case, God did deliver them by literally bringing them through the fire.  For all of us, as we experience the various tests and trials of this life, we can be assured that Christ will be with us.  Remember that as Jesus was leaving this earth, He assured His disciples that He would be with them always, “even to the end of the age”.  As He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, He will be with us in whatever test we might face.

We should continue to pursue the knowledge of God.  As we do, we may rest assured that God is with us.