Protection

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. –Psalm 23:1-6

This passage is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It’s also the first memory verse I memorized as a child in Sunday School. This passage is one that I always think of when I feel in danger. It’s one that we overlook so often, but it’s very straightforward and a simple display of God’s protection for us.

I know quite a few people that have grown up on farms or still currently farm, and all of them say, sheep are the dumbest animals they have dealt with. That means that sheep are highly susceptible to predators too. So sheep are a great example for us as humans (we do some pretty dumb things) and the predator being Satan.

As humans, we like a security blanket, we like to be protected from all the dangers that are in the world. Those dangers can be financial, physical, emotional, etc. We try to put barriers in place to protect as, but those barriers break. Just as in floods, when a levee breaks, the flood waters come rushing in; the same is with the dangers of the world. Once our barrier breaks, it seems everything keeps rushing in and we’re defenseless, like sheep with a predator. Fortunately, we have access to the Lord which is the best shepherd or protection that we can have.

He leadeth us to green pastures and still water. The Lord guides us where we can be nourished and not fear. Sheep can easily drown in any moving water. Our Lord takes us to be nourished where we will not drown in the dangers of the world.

I walk through the shadow of death and fear no evil. A table is prepared in the mist of our enemies. In our lives we will always have danger and evil around us. With our Lord we can go through our life knowing that He will protect us among those dangers and His will be done.

As mentioned before we put many areas of protection in our life. We protect our bank accounts, we protect our homes, we protect our cars, and we protect ourselves from the environment that we’re in. All that protection will fail us at some point. The only true protection we have is through our Lord, our shepherd!

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Book Review: The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

If you’ve been on my blog for awhile you will know I have been reading a lot about Presidents.  My goal is to read a biography about every President.  So far, I’m little over halfway through. 

I needed to change it up a bit.  Behind biographies I love to read about the Cold War, so I took a break from reading about the presidents and read “The Billion Dollar Spy”.  I had been wanting to read this book for awhile. It’s that book that has been sitting on my bookshelf each time I pick up a president biography and I see each time, thinking I need to read that.

It’s about one of the CIA’s deepest spies in the USSR during the Cold War, Tolkachev.  He was a man that knew what Russia was like, before the Bolsheviks took over, from the stories of his father.  His motives were to do as much damage to the Communists as possible.  Tolkachev worked in a weapons research facility, that dealt mostly with radars and targeting systems. 

He was so motivated that at times the CIA had to try to get him to slow down how many documents he was copying.  When the CIA asked how much his intel was worth the military estimated well over a billion dollars (this was in the early 1980s).  He saved the US millions on doing R&D that they didn’t need to do.  The US was able to get the USSR’s plans for military development well into the 1990’s. 

Although, Russia and the US didn’t go to war, the secrets of the radars used in the MIGs (Russian fighter jets) showed major benefits in the first Gulf War.  Iraq had a large air force of MIGs that used one of the radar systems that Travechv gave schematics and intel reports on to the CIA.

The book was well written, and it’s a fast read because you want to find out what happens next.  The author does a great job of moving the events along, and also giving good background on individuals as they came into the story.
If you like Cold War history, or spy books this is a must read.

Time Part 3: Who do you spend it with?

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  it is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away –James 4:14

The past two days I’ve discussed time and how it is a precious commodity that we don’t know how much we have.  It could be a few seconds more or years.  In the last two days I have discussed those who sacrificed their time to serve my country and what we do with our time in serving the Lord.

Who do we spend our time with and who do we allow to have it?  In some ways this post will sound harsh and I don’t mean it to be.  Many people want a piece of our time, if you remember in the past two posts, we have roughly 10 years of our life that is up to us on how we use.  That’s roughly 12-13% of our life.  As I said, many want a piece of our time.  Quite frankly, many of those people want to waste our time.  I don’t really apologize for not letting people waste my time.  Don’t take that as I’m not willing to give my time to my family or friends.  We should also be trying to make a difference and help people out.

We should spend our time with the ones that we love and care about. Just as we have a limited amount of time, so do they. We never really know when our time together will be done.

In closing, we should always be respectful of others time, not to waste it. We don’t want people to do it to us, so we should not do it to them. I know I’ve been guilty of doing it.

Time Part 2: What are you doing with it?

In yesterday’s post I discussed Time and how it’s such a limited quantity. After 33 years of sleeping, 13 years of working, 11 years of sitting in front of a screen, and then about 11 years of other activities; we only have about 10 years of life to do with what we want.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.-Psalm 90:12

How do we spend our 10 years of life that we can do anything with? Do we pilfer it, or do we use it to the fullest of our ability? Just as we will have to answer for not using the gifts that God gave us, I believe we will have to answer for our wasted time. None of us know when our time on Earth is done. It could be today, tomorrow, 50 years from now.

We don’t have the time to keep putting off doing something for the Lord, for people in general. Many people talk about how they want to make a difference, but then do keep pushing it off, saying they will do it later. Reality is that you might not have later, you might only have today.

I would encourage you, if you feel like you’re being lead to do something for the Lord, you do it today, as tomorrow may not happen for some of us.

Time

There is no more precious commodity here on Earth than time. Time is more valuable than gold, platinum or silver. It’s more valuable than all the money in the world. Why is time so valuable? It’s limited. What makes it even more valuable, is the fact that we don’t know how much we really have. The average person in the Western World lives around 79 years of age. As we all know, some die within days or months of being born and some live into their 100’s. At any moment we don’t know if we only have a few seconds or years left on our life. People that are in the prime of their life, die of a heart attack and everyone is shocked. Car wrecks, other accidents, and illnesses can all bring an end to our time.

On average we spend the following time doing these items:

  • Sleeping 33 years
  • Working 13 years and 2 months
  • Screen time (tv and social media) 11 years 4 months
  • Eating 4 years 6 months
  • Vacationing 3 years
  • Exercise 1 year 4 months
  • Socializing 2 years 1 month

So that list comes out to about 68.5 years, meaning if we live on average 79 years, we have 10.5 years to do with what we want. We start discussing some of the other things we do in a day, like brushing our teeth, going to the bathroom, and doing chores; that 10.5 years has dwindled down even more. Ten years is not much time, roughly 13% of our life we have the ability to determine what we will do with it.

The thing is, many people want your time. They want a share of that 10 years you have. Why do we freely give away our time?

So I’m going to take this in a completely different direction than expected. I want to personally thank, this Memorial Day (United States holiday), the families of the men and women that gave up some of their time, to serve in the armed forces and gave the ultimate sacrifice. . . their life. Although serving in the military is job, there is that key aspect that those individuals that gave the ultimate sacrifice, put themselves in a situation to protect our country and have no more time.

Many of us, would not put ourselves in a situation where we lose time, where we lose years off our life (not intentionally anyways). These men and women did. For that I thank you, so that I can live in a country with so many freedoms. We have our problems, but I don’t have to worry about discussing Jesus, I don’t have to fear all the time that something is going to happen to my family. I’m free to chose my career and who I want to be.

Again, thank you to the families of those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Protection

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.–Psalm 16:1

Two nights ago, the three pictures of the tornadoes above impacted my family somehow. My wife and I, her parents, and my parents all live in different locations, yet last night we were all impacted by tornadoes. Thankfully we were all okay and we didn’t have any property damage. Unfortunately, there were some that did, but there were no deaths.

I’m thankful for the protection, that God showed to my family and I. There is something humbling in the fact that you can’t control the weather. You can’t make it stop. All you can do is rely on God and ask for his protection.

The night of these storms, before they started, we had our small group; we had got on the topic of God’s protection. One of the things that came up was, how many times has God protected us from something and we don’t even know it. A storm comes through or you barely miss a car wreck it’s easy to thank God for protecting us, because we experienced something, we can visually see the protection God gave us.

How often do we thank God for the protection he gives us without knowing he has protected us? Maybe when the traffic light was yellow and you could have made it through, but the car in front of you stopped. We get frustrated, but what if that was God protecting us so we didn’t get into a wreck at the next intersection?

My opinion is that we get protected a lot more than what we think. We are probably completely unaware at how made times God intercedes into events to protect us. Just as I’m grateful that he protected my family two days ago, I’m also thankful for the protection he gives me that I’m unaware of.

Thursday Thoughts: Value of Life

I was driving on my lunch break and it crossed my mind how different the world would be if we valued life more or taught the next generation to value life more.

We talk about how gun violence gets worse and worse. Abortion is a huge headline lately in the news. The past few years bullying has been reported on heavily. There have been many conversations about what is right and wrong, what should be done to correct these issues, and what is in store for our future if we do nothing.

What I want to ask is, how much of this would change if we valued life more? We forget that we are made in the image of God. That should me a lot to us. We have attributes that are the same as the One that made the heavens and the Earth. In the Bible nothing else is stated as being made in the image of God. Humans are different in that aspect. For that very reason we should value life greatly. Life is so precious! As a biochemist, it amazes me how delicate life can be? A little bit of a chemical imbalance here or there and our life is done.

If we taught our children to value everyone’s life more would we have the issues with racism? Would we have the murder rates we have now? Would we have the issues with abortion? Would there be less bullying?

Just thoughts I had while driving. We try to legislate all of these issues, but if we taught the next generations to value life, would that change things more?

Servant To Money

The Rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.–Proverbs 22:7

When we live beyond our means we end up enslaved to our creditors. If we owe someone, they can control what we do. In a way, we become enslaved to them.

Debt is a huge problem for the United States

The United States is over $13 billion in debt. The average American is over $137,000 in debt. Roughly 55% of Americans have credit card debt with the average debt being over $8000 in credit card debt.

At some point collectors will come knocking and wanting their money. If you don’t have the money to pay the bill, that’s when trouble starts and you become a slave to who you own the debt to.

Being prudent

Those who are wise and prudent with their money, will have the necessities of life, while the foolish spend all they have to acquire nonessential things for pleasure. Does money get tight at times even if you’re being wise with it? Absolutely! The biggest thing is saying no to foolish things we spend money on.

For years I spent money on cable tv and watched maybe 5 channels. For 5 channels I was paying $70+ a month, and not even watching those channels very often. We tried out HULU and Sling TV with their live tv packages, both run about $40. We did that for about 2 months and realized we hardly watch any tv, so we dropped the live tv and basically have the equivalent to Netflix for about $6 a month, that is roughly $750 a year being saved. How many other things do we pay for that we don’t really use?

Savings account interest is horrible right now for most banks. There are some banks that offer high yield interest. One that I use is American Express High Yield Savings Account. It gives you 2.10% APY, this isn’t the greatest return on investment, but it’s far better than most banks offer right now.

How often do we buy things that we use once or twice and then get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again. I’ve done it. It’s easy, we see it and think this would great to have, only to find out we don’t really like using it or it wasn’t as fun as we thought.

I know Dave Ramsey is all about not having credit cards. I think it’s more about self control. What my wife and I do is use the points for our card to help with Christmas gifts. Over a year, we can rack up a several hundred’s of dollars to can be used to help with that expense.

Hard times will come a long, that requires us to have the funds to pay for it. The problem for most is, we don’t plan for the hard times. We spend and spend and spend in the good times, then once we run into bad times we have no reserves to dip into and go into debt. Then we become slaves to the ones we barrow from.

Moving Target

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.–James 1:17

Last week we went through half of James chapter 1 and discussed about temptation. I’m going back to James for today’s post, where I want to talk about just 5 words in the verse above and how important they are. Those words are, “with whom is no variableness.” Those words are very important and very powerful and should also be comforting.

I remember back a few years ago they used to have NFL quarterbacks participate in the Quarterback challenge. They would go through all sorts of challenges like running, who could throw the ball the furthest, who was the most accurate, etc. The one challenge I liked to really watch was where they had these big targets attached to golf carts, and each quarterback would attempt to throw the ball and hit the target as the golf cart drove across the field. Even the best quarterbacks in the league had trouble hitting it, even though they all could hit the stationary targets. Why? Because hitting a moving target is hard. It’s constantly changing, you never quite sure where it is going next.

There is no variableness with God. He’s not a moving target. He’s not changing what he wants today and then tomorrow he expects something out of us that is completely different. In Hebrews 13:8 it says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

I have had bosses in the past where you have no clue what they’re going to want that day. One day they want you to not spend any money in the budget or the next day they’re saying spend spend spend. Or they want you to work on this project and then quickly turnaround and want you to work on another project. Those have been some of the most frustrating times at work.

Not only is it frustrating, but it is very inefficient work environment. God is not like that at all. What he wanted from humans 1 year ago, 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, is the same as what he wants right now. There is no moving target with God, just consistency. We don’t have to spend our time guessing what he wants today or what mood he’s in. That’s why it’s important for us to read the Bible. That’s His word and one of the main ways he tells us what is expected from us.

Just as I appreciate going into a job where I know what the expectations are; I love that God is consistent, and I know what to expect from him and what he expects from me.

What’s your price for association?

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor. –Proverbs 19:4 The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends. –Proverbs 14:20

What’s your price for association?

So what is our price before we associate with someone? We all have different perspectives of what makes someone “rich”; it could be monetary, it could be power, it could be popularity, etc. How many times do we not associate with someone, because they’re not like us or they’re not like who we think we should hang out with because we can’t gain anything from them? How many times in the work place do we snub people because they’re lower on the totem pole than us? How many times do we snub people because they don’t have as much money as us? How many times do we snub someone because personality wise they’re different and don’t fit the personality that we think is the “cool” personality?

How many opportunities do we miss out on because of this? Not to get political, but how many times could humbling ourselves and associating with someone that isn’t “rich” in the world’s eyes, could deter someone from doing a school shooting or to realize their life has value and not take it?

We miss out on a lot of opportunities to interact with some amazing people because we’ve categorized them into a group, and they’re not like us. We need to be reaching out to the world and showing them what it means to be a Christian. A few years ago the bracelets with WWJD (what would Jesus do) were popular. Jesus hung out with the poor and the sinners. Why? It wasn’t for popularity reasons, it’s because they needed Him. Two thousand years later, nothing has changed. We’re all sinners and we all need him, not matter where we fall in the economic, popularity, or power rankings.