Category Archives: Editorial

Aunt Hester’s General Store: What Are You Thinking?

Darlings, I’ve come to the conclusion that this country and county are in a heap of trouble because we’ve stopped thinking. We don’t think about our problems and how the solutions we come up with, will affect our futures. Our government just keeps spending money and then when they can’t pay the bills, they raise taxes. Do you think that’s the way to solve the problems?

Campbell County is much like the rest of this country in some instances. It can’t get out of its own way because too many people are clinging to a past which is long gone. Yes, it’s still the case that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Yes, our County Commission knows all the players and who it doing their jobs and who is just skimming along. Yet, they will do nothing, so far, that will change the future. What are they thinking?

Do they realize they are taking the future away from their children and grandchildren? And from the rest of you, who will not rise up and say, “If your raise my taxes again before you’re willing to make the necessary cuts in the budget, you will regret the day you took my vote and threw it back in my face!” In case you haven’t heard, this county is millions of dollars in debt. Not a few million, but about 100 million!

I sit here in the General Store and listen to what folks have to say. Yes, some are aware and do their best to try to participate in the government here in this county, but so many others are only concerned with their little part of the situation and haven’t figured out that if they don’t wake up, they will lose their little part! Young folks are only interested in texting and what is happening for the next few minutes. Older folks seem to have washed their hands of the situation and do nothing but complain. I hear what they’re thinking.

For years, government around here has been a “family” operation and the family has done nothing but to protect one another. That’s why in the Finance Department, they don’t follow the rules and money is spent, borrowed, and contracts not bided properly, and departments are sagging under the weight and expense of having too many folks working there.

Each day, I watch people living in denial. Yes, they will not admit that they are living a dream that has proven to be false: The American Dream. And why has it become a false dream? Because they and this country and county, are putting the cost on the credit cards. Living within your means? What it that all about? Because folks have come to believe they should be entitled to so much without putting out an effort. That things will just take care of themselves. They’ve bought this nonsense that government is too complicated for them to understand. And it’s been made too easy, for too many, to get something for doing nothing. This becomes a way of life for far too many folks. They’re not thinking.

Changes are happening all over this country and Campbell County is not some isolated place where you can stop the future. Yes, it has been delayed here for years because of too much corruption and manipulation by not so much the politicians, but those who are not elected. I’ve heard some of the talk of these non elected folks and they believe that most folks here are stupid, lazy, only want shinny things, free stuff, and are satisfied with nothing but the scraps.

Well, that’s what too many people are given: The scraps of a good education, employment, spending by the government, and respect as human beings and yes, the American Dream. Maybe there should be less dreaming and more staying awake. Maybe we’re thinking that failure is an option rather than something to learn from and to not repeat. What are you thinking?

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

Jeremy’z Journey: No Vanity for old Souls

“Oh, have you had plastic surgery?” It’s a frequently asked question.
“We haven’t seen her in months and now she has emerged thinner and her skin appears tighter and more youthful , so clearly she has had work done,” Entertainment reporters accuse celebrities on a seemingly daily basis.
Our so-called modern society seems to be obsessed with a denial of inevitable aging and the absolute refusal of allowing age to be shown.
“Fifty-one year-old woman looks twenty-five,” one advertisement touts.
“Ask us about our Botox VIP program,” another ad invites.
According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most performed plastic surgery in 2011 was Lipoplasty (liposuction) at 325,332 surgeries performed, followed by breast augmentation at a close 316,848. Over 2.5 million botox injections – a.k.a. Botulinum Toxin Type A – were authorized and performed that year (2,619,739 to be exact).
According to Wikipedia, “Botulinum toxin is a protein and neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin can cause botulism, a serious and life threatening illness in humans and animals.”
Botox, as it is known for medical and cosmetic procedures, can be absorbed from eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory tract or non-intact skin. Justinus Kerner (1786-1862), a German poet and medical writer described botulinum toxin as a “sausage poison” and “fatty poison” because it often grows in improperly handled meat products. The toxin was purified for the first time in 1928 and a little over 20 years later it was discovered through experiments that the botulinum toxin blocks neuromuscular transmission through decreased acetylcholine release.
If any of that made sense, or sounds good as something to purposely inject yourself with for beauty reasons, then you have far more faith in the medical community of practicers than I.
But the older a person gets the more wrinkles their skin shows and the saggier certain body parts get. That’s the nature of flesh for you. But apparently natural aging provides little concern for the condition the soul that rests inside that body.
David wrote in Psalms, “For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” – Psalms 37:2-4 (New International Version).
I’m no certified theologian, but what I read in those verses don’t say that in giving “you the desires of your heart” that He will give you the skin of a 25-year-old the rest of your life. And “safe pasture” doesn’t mean physical safety. Throughout history, many righteous people have suffered and tragically lost their physical lives. God did not always rescue their flesh. Though the reasons for life’s tragedies, worldly problems and dilemmas and, yes aging, remain a mystery, it is by faith that we can conclude that “safe pasture” refers to the spiritual safety He guarantees us, not aesthetic safety or beauty.
Vanity has a way of keeping one from realizing the faults in one’s life. It deters one from having a clear view of self. Whether hyper-vain in believing they are the most beautiful person on Earth, or hypo-vain thinking that no one can be uglier than them – thinking that no one could possibly need to be aesthetically-altered more than them – keeps them fully wrapped up in their flesh. In today’s modern society it doesn’t seem polite to say vanity or the lack thereof. Instead we label this as self-esteem levels. Either way you look at it, it causes people to lose focus on the status and needs of their soul. Vanity causes someone to be self-centered and self-focused, and is a tool of evil which causes humans to keep from examining themselves on the inside.
“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin” – Psalms 36:2.
We, especially in this society of celebrity, beauty, size-0 models and so-forth, put too much emphasis on outward appearance. Even some who claim to be righteous do so only to show others how righteous they can appear to be. The Bible warns these people. Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21
As a Food and Drug Administration-approved substance for treating strabismus and other eye-related disease, botox itself continues to rapidly become a major industry in the United States. The global botox market is forecast to reach $2.9 billion by 2018. The entire global market for facial aesthetics is forecast to reach $4.7 billion by 2018, of which the US is expected to contribute over $2 billion.
Some reject the idea of having low self-esteem levels as they continue walking into visual enhancement clinics. Some say they are just fixing themselves to be how they have always imagined they should look. Others try to “reverse the aging process” with make-up, masks, gels and other semi-liquid concoctions before going the way of the injection or scalpel. These agents, whether they work or not, provide for another multi-billion dollar industry in our world: cosmetics
“Our skilled plastic surgeon and medical staff take great pride in our highly efficient and reliable procedure, from consultation to surgery,” a website reads as it attempts to calm potential clients.
Truth is, if you’re looking at one of these websites, you’re either conducting research for a column such as this one, or are already convinced that your body – not your soul – can get closer to perfection.
As explained in last week’s edition of the Journey, “Nobody’s perfect,” except Jesus. Although I’m sure there are a few surgeons who would suggest they could help Him get rid of those nasty-looking nail scars in His hands. Oh, and don’t forget the ones caused by the crown of thorns forced upon His head before being torturously hung on a cross.
During consultation, one might say “Our skilled plastic surgeons” can give you back those six-pack abs Jesus. That will help to cover-up the place where You were relentlessly stabbed with a spear. “We can get you ready to go shirtless at the beach,” the doc might say.
Maybe those last jokes were a little too rough for some, but the truth is that our modern world tries to hide and cover-up the life, gruesome death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven of Jesus every day. So if He were in the flesh today, why wouldn’t they try to mask His scars as well.
Truth is that none of us should be more concerned with the outward appearance of our bodies over the wrinkles in our spirit. Truth is every one of us humans was created special to Him who made us. Besides, one day the flesh that we wear today will be gone. It’s nature. We can’t fight death, nor can we escape it. A fight against aging is just as futile – it’s going to happen. What we should all be concerned with is preparing ourselves for the life after the flesh is gone. Whether a positive afterlife or negative is up to each individual and whether or not they accept Jesus Christ to forgive them of sin and save them from hell. Flesh can only last 100-years at the most give-or-take. But the spirit can live forever in peace or torment.
Now to our title: No Vanity for old Souls. According to information gathered by Frontier Harvest Ministries, there are 2 billion Christians serving God in 141 countries today (roughly 33% of our current global population). However, there have been 2.4 billion people who have been taught about Christ but remain non-Christian. While Americans continue to roll out dollars for cosmetic surgeries and procedures, only about $250 million gets spent on foreign missions annually. That’s not Baptist, Protestant or any other denomination. That’s all of them!
Another fact for you: America, known for being the land of God has the least number of converts per year, according to the above referenced data. The country with the highest Christian conversion just happens to be a country formerly known for killing Christian missionaries: China. That’s right! According to the statistics, China’s Christian population grows by roughly 10,000 a day.
So while the starting question may indeed be frequently asked, “Have you accepted Christ to forgive your sin and be your personal savior,” is being asked less and less in our country.

But if you are worried about yourself in this life, please consider your soul first.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn” – Psalms 37:5-6.
If you do this and get your spirit correct in the eyes of God through His son Jesus Christ, then Psalms 37:3, 4, quoted above, will surely be yours. You will find His spiritual “safe pasture,” you will find “delight” in the Lord and . . .
“He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Jeremy’z Journey: Hung up on the word “Christian”

“Why did you do that? Aren’t you supposed to be a Christian?” some jeer back at us when we make a mistake.
It would seem that non-believers in Christ find personal enjoyment when a Christian “falls from grace” in their words. Fortunately for all of us mere humans, God’s grace is infinite and definite and there is no falling from it once you receive it. Regardless, Jesus Christ intercedes on our behalf.
But as Christians, we should seek to love others as Christ loved us.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” – John 15:13 (New International Version).
We’ve all heard the saying, “Nobody’s perfect.” The word “Christian” doesn’t mean that we are perfect. It does imply that at some point in our individual life, we have been saved by the One who is perfect.
In John chapter 8, verses 28 and 29, Jesus himself said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”
That verse doesn’t say that Jesus sometimes does what God the Father wants Him to; it doesn’t say that Christ sometimes skips church and the opportunity to pray with others, and it doesn’t say He sometimes sneaks around thinking no one can see Him committing sin, so it must be ok to do so.
No. It says, “I always do what pleases Him.”
“Christian” according to dictionaries everywhere means one who adheres to Christianity, or “Christian” is a label to identify people who associate with Christianity. A more simplified definition is that “Christian” means “Christ like.”
As Christians, that should be what we all are seeking to achieve: To be like the One who has shown, shows, continues to show, and will always show God’s love for us and all humanity.
Sometimes it seems we get wrapped up in the comfort of the word “Christian,” and not involved in being like Christ. When we stop trying to be Christ like, it opens us up more and more to that question at the top, “Aren’t you supposed to be a Christian?”
It’s easy for those people to poke at us who are trying to live our life according to God’s Word. And yes, when we mess up, we are usually the first to poke ourselves about it. “Man, what have I done now?”
That’s because it’s easier to set your sights on your own goals and live toward them. Career, family, and living your own life or even those who live for drugs and other personal desires have it easier. It’s not hard to live a life of sin and self. It takes strength and perseverance, love and humility to live your life for Christ.
Christians were called many things before settling on our current label. For example, “Salt of the Earth” – Matt. 5:13; “my sheep” – John 10:27; Jesus said, “You are my friends” in John 15:14; we are “parts of the body” of Christ – 1 Corinthians 12:18; “Dear friends and aliens and strangers in this world” – 1 Peter 2:11; and “My dear children” – 1 John 2:1.
There are many other labels for us, the “Christian,” in the Bible and I’m sure many others in the world. However, my favorite appears in Acts 22:4 when Paul calls us, “followers of this way.”
We are “followers of this way.” In Acts, Paul refers to believers as followers of The Way several times. We are followers of Christ’s way – followers of His perfect way – followers of Christ’s perfect love.
We all can be followers of The Way if we trust Jesus to guide us.
One follower of The Way recently appeared on a major alphabetic-titled network as he attempted and then succeeded in walking a high wire across Niagara Falls, some 1,300-feet across and 200-something feet above his watery death from America into Canada. The alphabet and its Time-related parent company didn’t have the faith in Christ that this 7th generation high wire walker has and therefore required him to wear a tether just in case he should slip and fall. I get it, from the worldly network’s point-of-view showing a man fall to his death isn’t good for them. Unless of course it’s a fictitious crime scene fatality show.
But that didn’t stop Nik Wallenda from shouting that he follows Christ’s way to the millions watching on TV and hundreds of thousands in attendance to witness the breathtaking event.
“I’m extremely blessed to be where I am,” Wallenda said following his twenty-six or twenty-seven minute walk over the American continent’s most-known deathly river-filled chasm from one country to another. The whole time he walked, Wallenda was on camera with a microphone recording every word he said. Wallenda’s staff and the network were even able to ask him questions during his walk, as if he didn’t need concentration. The whole time he was calm and in prayer, thanking God and praising Jesus for blessing him.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God wants all of us to walk a tightrope to give Him praise. God gives each of us our own talents that He wants us to use in serving Him. Wallenda’s gift from God just happens to be the ability to perform these stunts and honor God as he does them.
One network newscaster couldn’t help but chuckle as he asked, “How do you pray to a deity to protect you in doing something that is this risky?”
“I believe that God has given me this ability. Whatever anyone sets their mind to, if they trust God, He’ll bring them to the highest mountains… But I believer that God opens and closes doors in our lives and I believe there’s Divine Intervention, as you mentioned, in everybody’s lives. And as long as we’re willing to access that and believe, in faith God provides for us,” Wallenda answered.
Pardon me if I’m out of line, but, “Amen!”
Of course, Wallenda also attributed his success to his tightrope-family lineage and his personal years of training and developing this skill. But first and foremost, he attributed his success to God and His son Jesus Christ.
As Nik Wallenda proved, sometimes it isn’t easy to follow God’s will for your life. A thin 2-inch cable covered in water, mist and wind from every direction and hands and arms that are going numb from holding a 40-foot long balance beam may never be obstacles that most of us Christians have to bare. However, we each have our own obstacles to overcome in following Christ and seeking Him in our everyday lives.
But when we falter; when we get off his narrow path for our lives, He is there to catch us. He is there to forgive and redeem us and show us the way back to His will for our life.
Ephesians 5:1, 2 says: Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
That’s what we are supposed to be as a “Christian.” We are on this Earth to be an imitator of God; be an imitator of Christ’s love and live a life that reflects that love to others around us.
The Apostle Paul knew, and used his experiences to help guide us when we fail to live up to Christ’s model; when our flesh wanes against The Way of the Spirit. He told those around him who were struggling: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” – 1 Corinthians 11:1.
We discussed “Christian” in our Sunday school class recently. One of my classmates, with a grin said, “I attempt to be Christian.”
Our class teacher pointed out that being a Christian is like medicine. “It’s a practice,” he said laughingly.
Finally, we have come to a definition of the word “Christian” that really fits. Being “Christian” is an attempt to be like Christ. It’s a practice.
God’s paradigm has been shown to us in Christ’s life. God gave the Christ’s followers the wisdom to write of their struggles and victories in following His Way, which make up the New Testament and help us along our walk with Christ.

Jeremy’z Journey is a way for me to reflect on my struggles and victories in Christ and I publish it and pray that maybe, just maybe something that I have gone through might give someone else the strength and desire to pick up a Bible, look and read about Christ’s life, His struggles and His victories in God, and begin to follow The Way.

Aunt Hester’s General Store: Taxes or Axes?

The conversation in the General Store this week has not stopped. And all they’re talking about is the fact that our darling Campbell Commission is considering raising Property Taxes. That really tore the rag off the bush and some folks said this morning that if these jokers raise Property Taxes, that they would go to sharpening their axes and go to Jacksboro and take the Courthouse apart!

Now, I gave council against any form of violent behavior because that’s not the way to get things done. But they were fired up and ready for bear! All week long, in and out, one complaint after another about how foolish all of them had been to even vote for some of those do nothings!

You would think, that after that mess with trying to raise the Sales Tax, that the County Commission would have done a little thinking when they were informed by the Finance Director that it would take a sizable increase in Property Taxes to cover the budget, that they would have gotten busy figuring out a way to do some serious thinking about ways to avoid raising the Property Taxes.

Yes, they haven’t considered it yet, but have they been living in another county and not noticing that there’s been nothing but spending, spending, and more spending? Lord have mercy! It’s a hard notion that all these so-called smart folks would have waited until the fox was in the hen house to figure out that it had been in there for a while and that some chickens had gone missing. If they haven’t been aware of the mounting problem all this time, then what have they been doing down there in Jacksboro for all this time?

How can anyone in politics these days not know that money is scarce and that folks are not having an easy time of it? Don’t they read the papers and watch television? It’s on the news each and every night. States and cities are having to cut back and all these folks, who have been working these government jobs and enjoying larger compensations than those who don’t work for the government, are finally having to pay for their insurance and retirements because all these benefits are bankrupting the very states and cities they work in.

Well, like they say, if Common Sense was really common, we’d all have some. But if I’m reading this situation right, this Campbell County Government is in for a rude awakening if they don’t pay attention and stop living in dreamland. The rest of us sure don’t live there!

I guess if your work for the county and are on the County Commission, and if you have a business that’s connected to the county and you’re on the County Commission, and if you have a steady source of income and you’re on the County Commission, and you’re a well-compensated County Mayor, then you just don’t think about anyone or anything other than you own well-being.

We’re stuck with these folks for another two years. Heaven only knows what it’s going to be like if some of these phony Public Servants don’t get a grip! I’m not for raising taxes and I don’t want to see folks using axes. But there needs to be some cutting done on the budget.

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

Jeremy’z Journey: Suffering gives way to hope

As I sit in a medium-sized surgical waiting room, I notice small groups of families and couples bustling in and out. FoxNews is blaring propaganda from Rush and others in an attempt to remind us that Obama is the liberal devil. Breaking News: Miley Cyrus announces her engagement to her 3-year beau and co-star from that Sparks guy’s novel-turned-movie. The national deficit is inching closer to $16 trillion and its Obama and his buddies’ fault.
All this is not helping much to distract me from the fact that my wife is somewhere less than 100-feet away from me in an anesthesia-induced sleep with doctors and nurses all around. Every minute of this “Booo! Evil Obama! Boooo!” alleged-news-reporter blasting seems just shy of an eternity. When are they gonna talk about Miley again? I don’t really care for her much either, but at least it’s a change in topic.
Really, I don’t think anyone’s surprised by Obama, except maybe those who are in denial and still think he’s the greatest pres. ever. And none of us will likely get a save-the-date envelope for the Kentuckian wedding an Australian event. But somehow, these are the biggest items of news they can dig up this morning.
Even now, I ‘m writing in my notebook with the cover that says, “Keep calm & smile on,” to distract myself from this reality. Writing, no doubt a gift from God, has always helped me to sort through my thoughts. My heart nearly stops every time the nurses’ door comes open, thinking it will be a call to tell me how she is doing.
When we learned of this surgical necessity just days ago, I was deeply saddened. Trying not to show it, I’ve been trying to be strong for her when she needs to lean on me. But it was she that first said to me that everything would be okay and that all of this is God’s plan.
“God’s plan,” I thought but dared not to speak? “How is this spirit-crushing thing God’s plan?”
Maybe He knows why we don’t need a new baby for Christmas she said with a gentle, yet hurting on the inside smile.
Momentarily, I wanted to be angry with Him. My mind wanted to look Him in the eye and scream at Him, “Why? She is your faithful servant. Why did You do this to her? To us? To me? To our family?”
But quickly, I knew she was right. It seems she has helped me on more than just this occasion to remember that He is always correct and in control. He has blessed us and will continue to do so as long as we keep our focus on Him. He will bless us all abundantly according to His will.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,” – Romans 5:1-2 (New International Version).
Another heart-stopping door opening moments from the nurse who still isn’t ready to tell me that she is out of surgery yet. The last few days have been tough, but sitting here is tough beyond belief.
Speaking of belief, my belief that God will take care of her, and us, and our family is the greatest comfort in my “what if” mind-racing moment of eternity.
Despite what I said earlier, I have clung to God since we found out. I have prayed near constantly for her to be okay physically and emotionally; psychologically and most of all spiritually.
Here’s the history making non-recalled governor of Wisconsin. Yet another mild non-distraction they’ve played over-and-over.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us,” – Romans 5:3-5.
I don’t mean to offend You Lord, but suffering sucks! But in the back of my mind, and in the middle of my heart, I know Jesus Christ will see us through this.
Some choose to dwell on their suffering, never gaining any benefit or higher perspective from it. But those who focus on God will undoubtedly see how He makes a negative situation into a positive one.
Suffering can yield perseverance, character and hope when we allow God to work in us. Hope is one of the great gifts that He has given us. Faith, Hope and Love. His love is the greatest gift and I feel that love all the time, even now, sitting here waiting with me.
Of the items we had to be sure to bring, I brought my “smile on” notebook and pen, but most importantly my Bible. I’m sitting in one of those wide, two-person seats provided in some newly renovated waiting rooms. As I read my Bible and occasionally write something down, I know I have the best comforter sitting right here with me.
His love is awesome! But right now, His hope is what is helping me not to fall apart. And my faith in Him lets me know that He will lead us through just fine.
Amen! We praise You Father for these and all of Your wonderful gifts.

The doctor has called for me. We start to walk toward a back sitting area when he notices the Bible in my hand and smiles. I still can’t see her yet, but he assures me that everything went the best it could’ve gone from his perspective.
Once again, Faith, Hope, Love and the power He gives our prayers is leading us through another storm. Amen!