Monday, August 24, 2015

A Great Tempest Arose

This afternoon I took a closer look at the stock market. The news headlines were all screaming about the panic on Wall Street and how stocks were plummeting in response to the sinking Chinese economy. It is one thing to read a headline; it is quite another to log on and follow the market second by second. I followed the Dow Jones and within a few minutes it had dropped over a hundred points. I kept watching, and it kept plummeting. Suddenly it started to rise a bit, and then fall some more. Then it rose again for a little while before resuming its descent.

It made me feel giddy, It was like the waves of a storm, a worldwide storm. Outside my window the weather looked nice and calm. Inside my mind, though, I was starting to feel agitated, wondering what this was doing to my retirement funds. It occurred to me that this mental agitation was but the tiniest part of a much larger picture. Waves of mental anguish were at this moment sweeping through the emotions of millions upon millions of people world-wide. This was nothing less that a psychological tsunami.

It seemed to me, though, that there was nothing I could do about it. There was no point in selling any of my stock or withdrawing any funds at this point. I have no idea whether prices will continue to sink, or begin to rise. And really, nobody else knows what is going to happen. The direction of the market is the result of millions of individual decisions. No one person can control it. Even governments, though they can have an influence, cannot dictate the outcome.

Only our Lord, who is God of both heaven and earth, really rules over such things. And He will at times permit things to happen in the short term because His real concern is the long term, and, indeed, our eternal welfare. Sometimes it is useful for people, who make worldly things to be an end in themselves, to get shaken up so that perhaps, just perhaps, they will reexamine their priorities.

It is a comforting thought--it brings comfort from deep within--to remember that He is in charge. It brings perspective to such worldly ups and downs, such financial storms. Money is not everything. We cannot even take it with us. There are deeper and far more important concerns. Do we have trust in Him? Do we love our fellow human beings? Are we acquiring spiritual wealth, eternal wealth, from His Word?

The stock market storm is only a worldly storm. And even this worldly storm is in our Lord's hands. He is in control. To know this, to believe this, will help calm even the most violent surges of panic.
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:23-27).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The One Cent Check

I have always wanted this to happen some day, and today it happened. I got a check in the mail for one cent. Yes, one cent. Pay the Sum of -0- dollars and 1/100.

It was sent to me by my mail order pharmacy, OptumRx, thus tempting me to descend into a rant about the inefficiency of health care in the U.S. After all, it cost them 39 cents in postage to mail me the check in response to some alleged overpayment on my part. But, I resolve to take a dignified approach toward their heartfelt desire to make sure they were not conning me out of a penny.

I now have to decide between a number of mature responses to such silliness on their part:

  • Wait in line at my bank and cash it. Somehow I think it might be appropriate to wear something dignified for the occasion. Perhaps my blue wig.
  • Endorse the back and forward it to a favorite charity, or perhaps an unfavorite one. ASPM (American Society for the Protection of Mosquitoes) comes to mind.
  • In a similar vein, endorse the back and forward it as a donation to the Donald Trump presidential campaign. I just love that fellow's comb over, don't you?
  • Wait until the "deposit by" date passes, and then send it back to OptumRx asking them to please reissue it.
As I say, I have always wanted this to happen some day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thinking about Our Thoughts

Thought is such an interesting thing to think about. It sounds humorous to say this, but it is actually a very serious observation. Because we can think about what we are thinking, we must surely conclude that there are different levels of thought. From one level we can look down and observe our flow of thoughts on a lower level. Not only that, it is possible, to some degree, to control the flow of our thoughts on that lower level. We can, for example, say to ourselves, "I must try to stop thinking so pessimistically."

Thought is central to what makes us to be human beings. And the way we think says a lot about what kind of people we are. Look down again at your thoughts. Notice what you think about the most. What kinds of things occupy your mind? Angry thoughts? Thoughts of hopelessness? Or perhaps you are a happier kind of person with a mind filled mostly with cheerfulness and contentment.

Take the time occasionally to notice the flow of your thoughts. Your thoughts are actually a reflection of what it is you most love deep down inside. If you have lots of angry thoughts about other people, then perhaps, just perhaps, you love and care about yourself far more than you do about others. Selfish people tend to be very angry people. Not only that, selfish people are people who lack a good relationship with their God. Only our Heavenly Father can lift us up above selfishness, above bitterness, and bless us with a heart of cheerfulness and contentment and love. And He can only do this if we turn to Him in prayer and in a life of obedience to His commandments. Follow Him for only He can give you peace.

Look down on those thoughts. Watch their flow. It can teach you a lot about yourself, and about your relationship with Him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Be Still

The noise of life, the constant sound,
My mind goes there and round and round.

The world is here before your face.
A mindless aimless empty race.

A deafness deadens deeper sighs.
A heart in pain unheard it cries.

We close our ears by seeking noise,
And choke the life of inner joys.

Stand still. Stand still and hear the pain.
Hear your heart weep once again.

Listen, listen, within the deep.
A warmth, a fire, the heart does keep.

Buried  beneath those constant tears,
The heart knew love before its fears.

Love is quiet, but love is there.
And love remains. And love is bare.

Patrick A. Rose, June 17, 2015
(c) 2015 by Patrick A. Rose

Monday, May 25, 2015


Older people, and I am getting to be one, were once young.  Not only do they remember being young, but they remember when they never imagined they would get old.

It happens though.  Slowly, so slowly it is hard to notice, the body ages and changes. The word "inevitable" comes to mind.  We are used to fixing problems.  Something is broken?  We get it repaired.  Or replaced. We like to be in control.  But you cannot replace your entire body. There are some ways in which we can slow down the aging process and so have some control.  Healthy living--a good diet and regular exercise--can certainly be very helpful. Time, though, marches on, and it seems to do so at an increasingly rapid pace.  Where did it all go to?

Remembering our own youth is, it seems to me, mostly an introspective activity.  We may reflect within ourselves about when we were young, but others see us as we now are.  They don't think of us as people who once were young. To them we are older people.

My memories of my grandmother are of an elderly lady--a wonderful human being, but elderly neverthless, I recollect asking one of my aunts, when I was a young child, about a painting on my grandma's wall.  It was a painting of a beautiful young woman.  I remember laughing, as a child, when I was told it was a picture of my grandma.  At that age I could not wrap my mind around this concept that old people were once young.

And yet they were once young.  All of us were at one point newborn babies, starting out on the inevitable trajectory of life.  All babies, if they live long enough, become old.  At least their bodies grow old.

Our spirits, our minds, are different. If we are wise enough to turn to the Lord and keep our sense of wonder, and avoid toxic emotions such as bitterness and resentment--emotions which poison the spirit--we will remain young inside.

My grandmother had an aging body, but she was young inside. She was full of fun, of love, of kindness.  She was a child of God,  This was brought home to me just recently.  I was sent some photos of her when she was only fifteen or so. As I looked at her as she looked over a hundred years ago, she looked very different from the way I remembered her in her later years.  And yet in a way she looked the same.  That childlike and innocent spirit so evident in the photos, never departed from her. As she grew wiser, her childlike and innocent spirit also grew and deepened.

I believe she is in heaven.  I believe she looks young and even more beautiful than when she was fifteen here on earth.

None of us have to grow old.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I was waiting for the doctor today, an ENT, and my brain was a bit fuzzy, not having had my first coffee of the day yet.  My eyes groggily scanned the room and lighted upon an interesting choice of words on a Softsoap container.  Apparently this Softsoap contained "real moisturizing lotion."

I found myself wondering if other soaps might contain artificial lotion instead of the real kind offered here.  Silly thoughts, really.  After all, marketing verbiage is marketing verbiage.

By now I have had my coffee for the day.  Sadly, though, the thought of this Softsoap has remained with me.  Even more sadly, I took the time to look up the ingredients and found out some rather unsettling information.  My source is a blog written by nicolelstjean on Wordpress.  Go here for her complete list of ingredients.  Some ingredients are considered harmless.  Some are not.  One of the questionable substances is Triclosan.  "Effects include evidence of moderate endocrine disruption at low doses, immune system and allergenic effects, and classifications as a skin, eye, and lung irritant and as an expected toxicant that is harmful to the non-reproductive organ system."

Follow the link to the blog if you want to learn more bad news.  In the meantime, don't forget to wash your hands properly.  The CDC recommends you wash them for a minimum of twenty seconds, and suggests that to keep time you "hum the 'Happy Birthday' song from beginning to end twice."

Perhaps the "Happy Birthday" song is appropriate.  After all, those candles on a birthday cake might also be toxic.  Go here to learn about toxins from birthday cake candle smoke.

Sort of a scary world, isn't it?  But I wouldn't worry to much.  After all, worrying can be bad for your health!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sir Bob

I wanted to say a few words of thanks to Sir Bob Russell who, until the recent election, was Member of Parliament for Colchester, my home town.

I have lived in the United States for many years, and am now a U.S. citizen.  I have no involvement at all in British politics, though I do follow it keenly.  I still love Colchester, though.  It is where I was born and raised.  It is where family members still live.  And this is why I want to thank Sir Bob for all the work he has done for Colchester.

Sir Bob was Member of Parliament for Colchester from 1997-2015.  Not only does this represent a great number of years.  It represents an incredible amount of work.  He is a man who puts in amazingly long hours.  He is a legend when it comes to devotion to his work.  I remember years ago visiting my sister in Colchester.  Some flier was placed through the letterbox.  My sister looked out the window and commented, "That was Bob Russell."

Sir Bob (he was knighted in 2012--very well deserved indeed), has devoted decades to the service of his fellow citizens.  Before his election to Parliament he had already served twenty years as a councillor in Colchester.  One year he served as mayor.

I have never met Sir Bob, and can only guess at this, but it seems to me that it must be particularly hard for him to have been defeated in the recent election.  Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that it is not easy to lose.

It might be easy for me to say this, from 4000 miles away, and with no personal commitment to the process, but let me say it anyway.  Bob Russell did not really lose.  Yes, he was defeated in the election.  He remains, though, a winner, and a most remarkable man who has worked incredibly hard for others over the years.  He deserves the gratitude of many.

In recent remarks Sir Bob suggested that now he could now live a normal life.  Now he gets a chance to rest a bit, and a rest was never more well-deserved.  I have little doubt though that he will continue to find ways of serving others.  It is the very nature of this remarkable man.
Thank you Sir Bob.