Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We don't need no stinking customer service. We don't do service.

So, the other day I go out to the mailbox and try to open it. Key won't work, so I put a note on it asking the mail PERSON...not the mailman or the mail woman...but the mail person to please advise what I should do. I tell my wife to look out for the mail person so we can get this straight. My wife sees the mail person opening the boxes (we have one of those community box set ups) and tells her that we can't get our box open and there must be something wrong with the lock. The less than courteous mail PERSON advises that if there is anything wrong with the lock, it is out responsibility to get it fixed.

Now, I don't know about you, but I always thought (my bad) that the Unites States Postal boxes belonged to the United States Post Office, not me. Our mail person won't even let you stand there while she is sorting the mail and wait for ours to be put in the box. Nope, you have to stand back 10-15 feet (preferably in your car) and wait until our mail PERSON finishes and then safely and securely locks the community box. DO NOT APPROACH THE MAIL PERSON WHILE THEY ARE SORTING MAIL. THIS MAY VERY WELL BE A FEDERAL CRIME OF SOME NATURE....!!!!!

My question is simply this...if the lock problem is ours to deal with, how am I (an humble, simple United States Citizen) supposed to get into the locked box after I arrange for a locksmith (at my cost) to come out and fix the box that now belongs to me?

If the box is mine...then it seems to me that if I wanted to decorate the front of my box to reflect the changing seasons, I should be free to do so.....I'd be willing to bet that the very thought or suggestion of this would be enough to force my mail PERSON to report me for making some sort of anti-government threat and shipped off to some educational training camp in Siberia......or North Dakota....or some place......

Along those same I take a old pistol of mine to a gun shop for repair. The owner tells me in no uncertain terms that they don't work on pistols...ok, I can accept that but instead of trying to be helpful and suggesting some place to look...he says.... "No one wants to work on some old Saturday night special like that..." First off, this is a $500 pistol and it was made by Colt firearms, not exactly the manufacturer of Saturday night specials. In addition to his caustic comments he ignores me when I ask what exactly does he work on....I have a lot of rifles and shotguns.

So, here is a guy who makes his living working on firearms and manages to hack a potential future customer off on the space of 90 seconds....A new world record.

The United States Post Office spends millions of taxpayer dollars on television commercials and I am certain the gun shop spends bucks on advertising as well, but you'd think they might spend a few dollars on how to perform pleasant customer service.

Oh, by the way....I was using the wrong key for the mail box.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

13 more grueling months to go!!!!!!!

I think the first column I wrote some 30 years ago had to do with politics....I was trying to be funny and say that I was suspicious of North Dakota since I had read an advertisement for someone to be a Senator in North Dakota. My premise was simple, I had never heard of any senators or politicians actually from North Dakota and perhaps it was just a political prison or used for some other nefarious reasons. This was, of course, tongue in cheek type of humor....I was not being serious, just writing a story.

But, fast forward to this day and we are 13 months of political campaigning for the next President of these United States of America. Heaven help us all.

In the 1940's when I was a kid....we got our news mainly in about 4 major, newspapers, magazines (Saturday Evening Post, Life) and the news reels at the movies. Obviously I didn't pay that much attention to who was running for political offices when I was 10 or 12 years biggest problems were enough movie to go to the movies and how to keep my bike tires pumped up. Harry Truman was some old codger off in Washington...a thousand miles away.

But it's different today, isn't it?

We have 300+ channels on our televisions, 275 of which we never have watched. We have the internet on our computers, we have local and satellite radio, we have cellphones and we still have newspapers and magazines.

In short we have too much.

In our overly sensitive politically correct country at this time, anyone, politician or not can make a comment about anything and it will hit the news around the globe within 10 minutes. Tell some lady that you think her dress is pretty...BAM! you're sexist....Talk about racial issues (either side...makes no difference) and BAM!!! are a racist. Talk about poverty and changes needed for our kid's education and  BAM!!! you are a liberal....mention, just mention hunting, guns, police lives matter and you are branded a right winged red neck.....How can you win?

How can anyone can anyone try to get elected who will look out for the best interests of us all? How can we draw conclusions about the people trying to lead our country when we get 30 second sound bites and biased reporting from all of the media about these candidates?

I am not so concerned over what someone called their 4th grade teacher or their position on gun control when their comments were mad 35 or 40 years ago.  People can change their points of view...people SHOULD change their points of view.

As I said, when I was 10 or 12, my scope of knowledge was very narrow...but as I grew up and obtained more information, I was able to modify my viewpoint and see someone elses side of the issue.

I would hope those running for the highest office in our land could do the same....13 more months of loud, shrill voices day after day forced upon us by a multitude of media sources is way more than I care to contend with....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Killing pastors One Cut at a time....

From Flat tires to Cancer…..How we are guilty of helping to defeat our church pastors…. You may not agree with what I am about to write, but that is ok with me….this is what I feel in my heart to say about this situation. This past Sunday, our pastor committed suicide. Obviously it was a shock to all of us and our hearts are saddened and hurting for his family as well as for ourselves. But in trying to make sense of this event, let’s take a moment to look at some sobering statistics, according to the Schaeffer Institute, 70% of pastors fight depression and over 71% are burned out. See: Another insightful paper can be found at: Since I became a Christian some 32 years ago, I have had the pleasure to know a number of great pastors personally. These were mighty men of God, gifted and ordained to preach the gospel and take care of their flocks. These men were extroverts, outgoing and eager to try to help for any reason. Their wives? Not so eager. In fact, I found their wives to be more reserved and somewhat reticent in a number of occasions. I could not blame them if they were angry. But then, why shouldn’t they be? Here you are married to a man who comes home each night bringing in the burdens of his flock with him that he has listened to each day for how many years? His brain and energy have been sucked dry with issues he is not trained to deal with in any sort of in depth manner. He has been to seminary or undergone theological training, but he is not….a financial consultant, a medical doctor or a psychiatrist. He cannot fix all of the things that go wrong in his congregation. I cannot fix the things I see and hear about in the news. I can turn it off or not read about it. He can’t. This is his job. He can listen to yours (or my) problems and be concerned but in the end exactly what can he do about them? For the most part, practically nothing. He can pray for us, but we can pray for ourselves. He wants to help, but his ability to help is either constrained by the finances of the church or its resources. The more compassionate he is, the larger the load he carries for the things he cannot fix. His wife sees him carrying these burdens year after year. She hears him talk and pray about the things he wants to fix, but cannot. Perhaps she views the congregation as too many ‘takers’ and not enough givers. He doesn’t discuss names, so how does she know who has a real burden or who is wasting the time and energy of the man she loves with a trivial problem that they could or should fix themselves? She doesn’t. All she sees are people vying for the time and attention of her husband, year after year after year. When he comes home, it’s as if his big toe has been pulled off and his brains have drained out. We are all to blame, regardless if we are or not. There were those yesterday that said to us…. “How could he do this to US? To this church?” It isn’t about US….or this Church…it’s about him. How did we fail him by not giving him the support and assistance his selected vocation requires? We want pastors who have compassion and are caring and have concerns for their members, but at what cost? Look at those statistics again….70% suffer from depression. Who wouldn’t if they had to listen to a constant litany of whining from people to solve their problems that they ought to take care of for themselves? Cancer, death of children, loss of job or other major issues….sure but come on, taking time to ask the pastor for gas money or finding a job for their kids in the summer…complaining about the sermon you heard this week? Perhaps it was for you to hear. Didn’t like the decorations for the last church luncheon? How about you doing them next time we have an event? Don’t care for the food that was served last Wednesday night? Can you cook? Just get in that kitchen and whip up something for 10-150 people. No tables for you to eat snacks off of in your Bible study class? Grow up. Leave the pastor alone …..he has better things to do with his time. Then we have the issue of some church members dealing with their pastors as their own personal priests. They look to their pastor as somehow being closer to God. I have had pastors tell me that men and women come to them to ask for prayer because they think God listens to the prayers of the pastor more than to their prayers. They want the pastor to do their praying for them. Lord help us. This event causes me to worry for the mental health and well-being of our young pastors and their families. They need to be aware of the dangers of worrying about problems they cannot solve or remedy. They need to focus on the issues they can have some effect upon and leave the others at the steps of the church each night when they go home. I know this is easier said than done, but adding more and more to your load with eventually cause you to break down and then what good are you? I also think this is a perfect time for us to reflect on how we can be of better assistance to our pastoral staff. Do we make them…yes, MAKE them take vacations and breaks on a regular basis. Do we utilize the staff for mundane requests that arrive on a daily basis? A flat tire and a hangnail is important to the person dealing with them at the time, but come on, someone on the staff should be able to assist with minor issues so that the pastor does not get overwhelmed with every event. Does the deacon body provide assistance and help or are they standing around impressed with their title and not interested in serving the church body? Please do not get me wrong on this message….I do think the pastor cares and should care for the people in the purview of his responsibility, but let’s be real….he is a man. He has needs, feeling and shortcomings as we all do. We cannot put these men (and or women) on such a high pedestal that they hurt themselves when they fall back to earth. We, us, you and me….need to pray for guidance and God’s wisdom on how we can help prevent these tragedies from occurring. These men and women of God who have voluntarily chosen to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ need all of our help and assistance we can give to them….they cannot nor should they be expected to carry these troubles and burdens all alone. God Bless us all…..

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Nation of Fools

“Et Tu, Scott Walker?” So now we have the second drop out of the wanna be Republicans in the primary race for the presidential nomination coming next year. Walker has done a terrific job in cleaning up Wisconsin and surviving two attempts to remove him. All of this in a largely Democratic state. Not a small achievement by anyone’s means. He fought the unions and survived a hostile citizen takeover of the state capital and went on to live another day. Good for him. The field of potential candidates is vast and the road to Pennsylvania Avenue is narrow. I salute Gov. Walker for his ambition and his intestinal fortitude to have stayed the course this long. I cannot begin to imagine the stress and strain these kinds of ordeals can place on any one person. What I do want to say is that I would have a much better taste in my mouth if he had bowed out gracefully and without a ‘sour grapes’ bomb directed at the front runner of the day, Donald Trump. Let’s face it, Trump is antagonistic, egotistical, arrogant, brash and very out spoken and those are his good points. But how has he climbed to the top of the charts in such a short time and stayed there week after week in spite of one gaff or faux pas after another? Simple, finally someone has come along who has the chutzpah to talk about the elephants in the room that we had all been led to believe aren’t there. Immigration, tax reform, balanced budgets, military strength, race relations, education and foreign enemies or threats to our country to name a few. Our current crop of politicians seem to believe that if they keep ignoring these issues, somehow they will go away…or perhaps these elected elites can retire in luxury before any of these matters need to be addressed. Our people are not stupid. We might be dumb when it comes to picking our leaders, but look what we have had to choose from. Our choices have been narrowed to just pick the best of the worst. No, Trump may not be the best of the lot….but he has gotten everyone talking about the things we have on our minds and what matters the most to us. The focus of the remaining members of the group should be focused upon the ills of the past seven years and what will happen to our country if we elect another person inclined to repeat these grievous sins. The personalities will speak for themselves in the coming year as to what the American public likes or dislikes. Attacking Mr. Trump at this stage of the game is hardly productive to say the least. Mr. Walker could have scored some points in my book if he had welcomed the idea that even in today’s tech world … ‘Mr. Smith can Still Go to Washington.’ It’s about time. Peary Perry 9/23/15