Sunday, January 29, 2017

Be Careful What You Ask For. You Just May Get It!

1 Samuel, Chapter 8 (NIV)
Israel Asks for a King 
8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
The above Biblical account is found in the book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 8 in the New International Version (NIV) and reads like the current events facing us today. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.  Like the Israelites of that time, we too asked (maybe not in those exact words) for a "King."  For the intent and purpose of this post I will define "King" as someone tough, someone who is not politically correct, someone who says and does whatever is on his mind at the moment, someone like Donald Trump. Even bragging about groping women in the crotch because he is a "famous" king, whether they wanted to be grabbed or not, was not enough to dismay those who wanted this"king"  to be the king of the United States of America for the next four years. Like in the story above where the people rejected Samuel, we rejected our previous president, Barack H. Obama [Yes, we did. You all might as well admit it]. Many feel and felt that President Obama was soft or weak because he showed compassion to and for people of all countries. Many thought he gave away the store with a health care system that would benefit those who might not have health care otherwise. Many couldn't sleep at night because Obama refused to say "ISIS" (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), instead always stating "ISIL."(Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The same Congress and Senate who is remaining silent as this king is signing all of these "Executive Orders," blocked our prior leader [Barack Obama] at every turn.

Just like the people in the story above, God has allowed us to have our requested king in Donald J. Trump. Out of 18 king candidates, we [American people] selected this one. Similar to the king above, this king is claiming his ideologies as his rights regardless of who gets caught in the crossfire. This king claims to care about all, but in reality only cares about himself. It's all about "Donald," and by the time the masses see that, it will be too late. Why else would a billionaire who has been on the planet for three score and ten years, be worrying about someone being "nice to him," or the crowd size at his inauguration versus the crowd size for his predecessor ? Why else would this king who won the electoral vote, the only vote that mattered, be so fixated on the popular vote that Hillary Rodham Clinton garnered? Because it's all about him. It's not about the American people and it never has been for him. It's been all about him from day one and like the Israelites depicted in 1 Samuel above, we missed it. While this king's mantra is "Make America Great Again," in reality (not alternative reality or alternative facts) he is stirring a pot that not even he will be able to recover from when it boils over. America will be great again alright [sarcasm].

But, we wanted a king[tough, no nonsense, not politically correct, free reigning, no filter, hard charging, water boarding dictator] and folks, we've got him. Americans put him in and now will have to deal with whatever comes as a result of that choice. Make no mistake, choices have consequences. Be careful what you ask for. You just may get it. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There Is A Stark Difference Between A "Handout And A "Hand-Up."

Blog posts similar to sermons and other messages can come from anywhere and at anytime. In fact, the creation of this post is one such example. Ironically, speaking of sermons, this one came to me while in church and listening to the morning prayer offered by a childhood friend who referenced both the "handout" and the "hand-up" in her petitioning on behalf of the congregation. As I connected with the spirit of the prayer, a voice spoke to me saying "There is a difference between a handout and a hand-up," and I immediately knew that before the day was out, I would write the post you are reading now. 

While both phrases start with the word "hand," over time each has taken on different connotations. Handout generally is connoted negatively, while Hand-Up is thought to be something positive. Oddly enough when researching the definition of  Hand-Up, I found that the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Hand-up as, to deliver (an indictment) to a judge or higher judicial authority.  For the purposes of this post, we will use the English Oxford Living Dictionaries definition which is as follows:

1 An act of assistance provided by one person to another to help him or her climb on to something, or move to a higher place or a standing position, by using a hand or hands to pull up and support his or her weight. Frequently in to give (a person) a hand up

2  An act of assistance or aid (typically in the form of practical advice or support) given to a person or persons in order to help them improve their circumstances; a helping hand.

A handout on the other hand (no pun intended) is thought of as something given free to a needy person or organization with the keyword being "free." The person or organization do not have to do anything for what is given other than to receive it. In both instances, it is assistance given in one form or another to someone in need.  If you've read this far, stay with me as I am going somewhere with the definitions, as herein lies in my view, the issue.  In far too many instances what was initially meant to be a "Hand-Up" became a perpetual "Handout."  The hand-up was never designed to be an eternal handout and yet for far too many it became just that. The system was not initially designed for generations to pass the assistance along as if it were an inheritance or right. It was supposed to be a temporary provision to get one back on his or her feet. Partially to blame is the original design of the welfare system (Man-In-The-House Rule) which cut its own nose to spite its face resulting in consequences opposite of intent.

So what's the point?, you say.  The point is, as I heard a news reporter say the other day, this is not the most "Entitlement Friendly" group that is coming into office in 2017, meaning the possibility of a significant amount of  government assistance being reduced or done away with altogether. Which means it is incumbent upon us to always be preparing ourselves to support ourselves whether government assistance is given or not. It is imperative that when we do fall on hard times that we use the system as a true hand-up and not see it as a handout for life. We must prepare ourselves with education and beyond, continuously retooling to keep pace with the ever changing skills market.

Grassroots alternatives such as the Medi-Share program and other hand-ups like it covering all facets of life must continue to be developed in order for everyone regardless of demographics to move to a higher place.  We must all work together to prevent the hand-up from becoming a handout way of life.

Below are some statistics provided by Statistic Brain ( ) citing the US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute as its source for the information. Review information for what it is worth carefully and you will understand why we must keep a hand-up, a hand-up and not allow it to become a lifelong handout.

As always, something to critically think about.

The welfare statistics below represent anyone who receives any of the following government subsidies:
– Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps
– Housing assistance
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
– Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or cash benefits
– General Assistance
– DOES NOT INCLUDE the 70.5 million people enrolled in Medicaid
Welfare StatisticsData
Total number of Americans receiving welfare government assistance67,891,000
Total number of Americans on SNAP / food stamps –  41,170,000
Total number of Americans receiving (UI / EDD) – unemployment insurance10,200,000
Total number of individuals living in a home that receives housing assistance7,676,000
Total number of individuals who received TANF during the past 12 months4,306,000
Number of individuals receiving some type of general assistance welfare not listed above4,537,000
Percent of the US population on welfare programs21.2 %
Total Federal government spending on welfare programs annually (not including food stamps or unemployment)$158,200,000,000
Annual size of the Federal grant given to states for TANF$16,489,000,000
Welfare DemographicsPercentTotal Number
Percent of welfare recipients who are white / caucasian16.8 %11,405,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are black39.6 %26,884,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Hispanic21.2 %14,392,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Asian or Pacific Islander18 %12,220,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Other / Mixed4.4 %2,987,000

Welfare StatisticsData
Total amount of money you can make monthly and still receive some form of welfare$1,000
Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job39
Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a $12 per hour job6
Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher8
Average Time on AFCD (Aid to Families with Dependent Children)Percent of Recipients
Less than 7 months19%
7 to 12 months15.2%
1 to 2 years19.3%
2 to 5 years26.9%
Over 5 years19.6%
Statistic Sources & References
 Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute
Content Author: Statistic Brain
Date research was conducted: September 2, 2016
Welfare Statistics