Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: October 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

God Makes Good Appointments

Peggy and I were out on some appointment the other morning, and the subject of lunch came up. We thought it was a bit early, so we decided to go back home, have lunch there and then go out and finish our errands in the afternoon. As we got closer to home, though, we rethought it and decided we probably ought to stop while we were out, get some lunch, and then finish our errands.

So that's what we did. We dropped in at one of our favorites, and ordered lunch, after spending some time studying the menu carefully.

Eventually when the server, a pleasant young lady, stopped to get our order, we'd decided and thus, we ordered.

Then we asked her if there was anything in her life that we could pray about, and she leaned in close and said in a sotto voce tone "Actually, there is .. I just found out I'm pregnant...".

Wow. She went on to explain that the daddy wanted her to "kill it", but she wouldn't do that. We told her how admirable that was, and that we admired her for not "taking the easy way out".

She went on to explain that she'd been raised right, and had wonderful parents who were supportive of her. I then mentioned to her "You know there are many wonderful couples out there who would just love to love and raise and nurture your baby". Surprisingly, she said that was what she was planning to do, as what she wanted was what was best for her baby.

We talked about churches and she had been attending a local church; we said it was a very important that she be surrounded by folks who will love and support and not condemn her. And I invited her to FBC Pelham, and mentioned that the people of FBC would, in my opinion, be more interested in ministering to her than criticizing her.

I must say the meal was filled with joy for all of us. I've not known a happier server, and we sure enjoyed the time there.

We left, telling her we weren't trying to pry her away from the church she'd been attending ... apparently not regularly ... and she said she understood.

As we were headed home before, I'd just had the feeling we should go to this particular restaurant. And we did. And are we ever glad we did!

If John MacArthur wants to call that "Strange Fire", let him. I don't know how I could possibly care any less about what he thinks. I only know what happened that day, when God arranged an appointment with a young lady who needed, apparently, someone she felt she could trust, to pray for her.

My lesson for Sunday is a combination of two TGP lessons, and distilled, the overriding theme is this:

  • We were saved with a price.
  • We were saved with a purpose.
  • We were saved with a plan.   

 It's taken entirely too long for me to see that the price was outrageously high, but His purpose and His plans are outrageously good.

When we're willing to keep His appointments.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trusting God In Lesser Things

If we're professing Christians, we're telling the world that we trust Jesus with our eternal destinies. In other words, we trust Him with our souls. But I have to wonder what else we entrust to Him.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything more important than trusting Him for salvation. But it seems to me that's only one of several steps in living what Jesus Himself referred to as an abundant life.

Over the years, I've seen church members ... in a half dozen or so different denominations ... who seem to trust God in varying degrees. I'm sure it's an infinitely variable spectrum, but there are at least 4 stages I've observed in fellow believers. Here's my take on it:

  • Trusting Jesus with your eternal soul. Nothing seems more important than that, to the believer, but it seems a bit narrow to me. When someone shows no fruit beyond that, it seems to me that they may well be trusting in an eternal sense, but not in smaller things. Just last evening, as I write this, we were reading in Exodus, of the detailed instructions God gave Moses for building the tabernacle. My goodness, what a myriad of small details. We discussed how we'd understand all the minutiae some day, even though we didn't right now. But it also became clear that God is interested in all the details, whether we deem them minor or major. And if He did then, surely He's concerned about the minor details of our lives, too. But, if all we trust Him for is what happens after we die, we're missing out on something that just may be really, really important.

  • Trusting Jesus with our lives. This is the part where we realize that He doesn't just change our eternity, but He's given us the Holy Spirit to guide us every day. The Holy Spirit He said would guide us into truth, never leave us, and will always point to, and glorify, God. If we'll just listen to the Spirit, in all the ways He's told us, then we may expect our obedience to result in further evidence of the Glory of God. And that sounds like it'd be a good thing ... if we truly believe that God wants to glorify Himself in our lives. And this would include all of our lives ... our checkbook, our work ethic ... our religious activities ... our family lives ... all of it.

  • Trusting God to use us. To use us to further the Kingdom on earth ... use us to further the fulfillment of the Great Commission ... use us to manifest all the fruit of the Spirit for the furtherance of the Kingdom and the benefit of the Body of Christ. For the benefit of our fellow believers. 100% of believers are gifted by the Holy Spirit, for the common good, yet perhaps 10%, or maybe less, of the members are actually involved in the operations of the organized and/or gathered Body of Christ. True, some may be faux members, and some may simply believe God can't, or won't, use them, because they feel unworthy or unable. But that flies directly in the face of the parable of the talents, in which God clearly states He gives to each according to their ability. 

  • Trusting God to do things through us, that we cannot do, ourselves. This is what emboldens us to dare things In Jesus' name, that others seem afraid to do. It's what causes us to pray over people, believing, when the doctors have given up hope. It's what drives us to start projects when we have the desire but not the means to accomplish them. And it's also what leads to some incredible "WOW moments"; the kind we can never forget. 

Trusting God to do, through us, what we can't do ourselves is what led Brian and Liv Meany ... and Liv's parents Barry & Paula Kornegay ... to start Anza Imani Rescue Foundation when there just didn't seem to be any way for them to do it.

Anza Imani was birthed out of a genuine, gut-level burden for homeless boys in Mwanza, Tanzania. And a belief that God could use them to do things that they, themselves, could not do.

God's doing those things, now, and you'll never convince Brian and Liv that an abundant life consists of overstuffed chairs, HDTV, and air conditioning.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Something the Whizzes in Washington Probably Didn't Think (THINK?) Of

So our fedd'l gummint is starting some new insurance plans. Well, having been with a company which was in that business, there's something I am sure they have not thought of. And somebody had to at least think about something, like maybe stock in Paper Companies, before they cobbled together that umpteen-thousand page monstrosity commonly known as Obamacare.

I'll try to simplify a complicated process.

Let's say you want to start an insurance plan. So you print the paper, prepare the website, and open for business. Who's going to sign up first?

  • People with pre-existing conditions. Hey, you've been bragging about that, so when you build it, they'll come.
  • People whose health has been generally poor, and they didn't want to pay the market price under those conditions, for coverage they COULD HAVE purchased on their own.
  • People who just would not buy coverage on their own.
  • People who worked for an employer who didn't provide coverage, and chose not to buy coverage themselves. Who would rather have a car payment than health coverage.
On the whole, you might guess that such a mix of people might produce a huge exposure to claims. And you'd be right ... certainly more than the average of all Americans.

Second unanticipated, but nonetheless real, snag: The first year this plan is up and running, they're only going to receive and pay 9 or 10 months of claims. When you buy this thing, you then get sick, and finally go to a doctor or a hospital, stay a while, after which a claim is sent to the company. There it is processed and eventually paid. By the time it's open 3 to 6 months, say, the process is churning along and claims are being steadily paid.

So after the first year, losses look pretty good. They should ... you got a year's premium but only 9 months of claims to pay. So rates stay the same.

Everybody else's rates go up a little, owing to inflation, but yours stay put, in light of the prior paragraph here.

NOW ... at the start of the third year, the plan has paid a whole year's claims, and finds the premium wasn't enough to cover it all. So ... BOOM ... a big rate increase. Then, those who can get coverage elsewhere cheaper, do so, and they were the healthier folks in the group! And that's when the plan goes sour.

There have been some of these sorts of plans that were backed by an insurance company. So, shortfall comes out of their reserves, called "surplus".

There have been some of these sorts of plans that were self-funded ... uninsured ... enabled by ERISA some years ago. They usually simply fold up, leaving kazillions of sick people uninsured.

Then there's the government......

And while we're on the subject of "pre-existing conditions" ... let's say you're in charge of a big checking account. Guys who own cars put some money in every month, and then when one of them bends a fender somewhere, he brings you the repair bill and you pay it out of the checking account. You could call it sort of an "insurance exchange". In fact, there are some of those, all over the country.

Then one day a guy comes in with a car that's already smashed up. Says he wants to join the plan, pay the first month, and you pay to fix his car. If you were in charge, would YOU do that?

I didn't think so. But that's what health plans that agree to insure pre-existing conditions do. (Note there are some exceptions to this, in very large groups and particularly where you're leaving one insurance plan that covered the illness, and joining another one that would cover it. That's called "no loss - no gain".)

Insurance companies have to hold what's called "statutory reserves" as a hedge against unexpectedly high claims payouts. Then it has to have surplus .. undesignated money over and above their capital. Since our government is broke, what do THEY do when year #3, say, of the health plan turns sour?

Can you say "Higher Taxes"?

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