Twelve Days of Christmas

Calm Faith

 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 12-13 At the last meeting of our Tuesday night share group, I discussed Faith,  Hope and Love. These are the essentials of our faith. They are the components of Christianity. They are not given; but they are gifts which we are to continually seek. We ask the Lord to give them to us, calm faith, bright hope, burning love and a compassion for souls.

Calm Faith Faith addresses our anxiety about the purpose and meaning of life. It calms our fears, steadies our emotions, and puts peace in our walk.

Burning Love Love is our gasoline. It motivates and fuels our lives.

Bright Hope Hope is the beacon that draws us forward. It is the promise of the glory of our destination.

This expression of these gifts comes from my favorite worship album of all time. The song is Calm Faith and it comes from Encounter’s Free to Live. The album can be downloaded from I-tunes for $9.99. Encounter by Ian White.  I don’t get a cut or kickback. Check it out I promise it will bless you. Ask the members of my Tuesday night group.

The Abominable Amendments

I have put it off as long as I could. I must address the 14 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will be on the ballot next week. I can’t justify voting all yea or all nay, just to avoid having to figure out the amendments. So here goes. I will share how I have decided to vote. I hope my thought processes will help you, even if it’s just to show  you what NOT to do. Remember you can get much more detail in the PAR guide or from guidance put out by many partisan groups.

Amendment One: Give constitutional protection to provisions in the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund and set a baseline compensation rate for nursing homes and certain other healthcare providers that pay a provider fee.

YES. Louisiana and 43 other states use this procedure to get matching federal funds. Fees are assessed against nursing homes and certain other healthcare facilities. The feds match these funds. In the past this money has been diverted from the providers who pay the fees to other health care needs. That’s just not right. I understand that more money you protect from diversion, the less available to handle problems that come up. I just believe those who pay should get the benefit.

Amendment Two: Allow an assessment on hospitals to draw down more federal Medicaid dollars for the institutions and create a Hospital Stabilization Fund.

YES. I am voting yes for the same reasons I am supporting Amendment one.  I have worked with small hospitals and health care providers since 1981. They need all the funding help they can get. Like many other areas, in health care the richer are just getting richer and the little guy is having trouble surviving.

Amendment Three:  A vote FOR would allow local governments the option to use a private firm to help collection of delinquent property taxes and the process of selling property whose owners are tax delinquent.

YES. I say give locals as many options as possible.

Amendment Four: A vote FOR would allow the State Treasurer to invest public funds into a Louisiana Transportation Infrastructure Bank, in the event that such a bank is created.

NO. Oh come on. Let’s not put provisions in the Constitution, IN CASE, we need them in the future.

Amendment Five:  A vote FOR would eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges.

YES. The older I get the more I respect the wisdom of age and the less I like mandatory anything.

Amendment Six: A vote FOR would raise the Orleans Parish special millage caps for police and fire protection from five to 10 mills, giving the New Orleans City Council authority to levy additional mills with voter approval.

YES. I say if the New Orleans voters want to vote for higher taxes let them. What business is it of ours here in Acadiana?

Amendment Seven:  A vote FOR would give a bonus homestead exemption to veterans rated with 100% “unemployability”in parishes where a similar tax break has been approved by voters.

YES. Help veterans and the voters have already approved. What’s the problem? The opposition just wants to help them more. Let’s give them what we can now.

Amendment Eight: A vote FOR would establish the Artificial Reef Development Fund in the Constitution and prohibit using its money for purposes other than those described in the amendment.

YES: This is another provision to protect certain funds from the grubby hands of politicians. They have already voted by a 2/3 vote that they need this restraint. What’s left to say?

Amendment Nine:  A vote FOR would eliminate the need that homeowners under the age of 65 who are permanently disabled must certify every year that their income meets the threshold for an assessment freeze.

YES: I hate unnecessary paperwork.

Amendment Ten:  A vote FOR would require each parish to shorten the redemption period for vacant blighted or abandoned property sold at a tax sale to 18 months after the sale has been recorded.

YES: I also hate unnecessary legal delays.

Amendment Eleven:  A vote FOR would increase the limit of allowed state government departments from 20 to 21, effectively creating a Department of Elderly Affairs.

YES: The older I get the more I believe the elderly have just as much right to have affairs as everyone else.

Amendment Twelve:  A vote FOR would change the membership of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to require that two at-large members come from parishes north of a line created by Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline and Pointe Coupee.

NO: This is a silly waste of voter time. This should not be in the Constitution. Besides, North Louisiana isn’t really Louisiana.

Amendment Thirteen: A vote FOR would allow government-owned property in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans to be sold to specified classes of buyers at a nominal rate to be established by the Legislature.

YES: This is necessary to help clean up the mess that remains in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Amendment Fourteen: A vote FOR would forbid the introduction of legislation related to tax rebates, tax incentives or tax abatements in even-numbered years when the Legislature holds a general session and specifically allow such legislation in odd-numbered years during fiscal sessions.

YES: This keeps every other year a fiscal session. I’m not sure that the alternating year theory works, but this at least keeps in neat.

There you have it. My votes. I know, “Who Cares.” Comments and discussions are welcomed. I could be convinced to vote differently. Why not try?

 

 

 

Ten Things That People Who Follow Jesus Do Differently.

 

This morning I read 10 Things That The People Who Love Their Lives Are Doing Differently. How can you not read an article with a title like that? It appeared on-line in Elite Daily – The Voice of Generation Y.  I wondered if following Jesus would produce the same, perhaps even better, results.  Hudson observes, “It’s the way that you live your life that largely decides whether or not you will live happily.” It’s hard to argue with that. Christ followers certainly believe that happiness, and more importantly joy, comes from what you do. Let’s look at these 10 things and compare.

They don’t bother trying to make others like them — mainly because they don’t care if they’re liked. Followers would certainly give a big Amen here. Jesus told us if we follow him don’t expect to be liked, in fact, expect to be hated and despised. Hudson says, “They like themselves and they are the only people they ever answer to.” Well, here’s where Christians differ. We answer to Jesus. We don’t care what others think of us. We, too don’t answer to others, but we also don’t consider ourselves the final authority. We answer to Jesus.

They do what they do because they decided to do it.  Hudson says, “They aren’t trying to gain your approval or acceptance. They don’t want to be part of your team — they’re a team of their own. They live their lives the way they see fit and if you like them for it, great. If not… then so be it.” I guess he describes “happy loners.” As followers of Jesus, we are called into community. What we do for Jesus we do together. I have to say my most joyful days are working and playing with others who follow.

They do things because they want to do them, not because they believe they have to do them. On this point most non-followers, believe they are completely different from Christians. They think we do what we do because God says we have to. The truth is we do what we do as a grateful response to what Jesus did for us. Our compulsion is internal not external. We don’t act from blind duty, but from motivated excitement.

They love their friends but don’t rely on them. Hudson says: “Friends are tricky because they aren’t really yours, are they? You don’t own them. They are their own people who have their own wants and needs — people who will always put themselves ahead of you and your goals. Friends are great to have, but relying on them too heavily will leave you disappointed.” This may be the saddest point Hudson makes. I read it as: “Sadly friends put themselves first and not you.”

Christ followers love to love. We love because Jesus first loved us. He told us that’s how people would know we are his, by the way we love each other. We love each other unnaturally, supernaturally. We love each other through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a love that doesn’t come naturally. We don’t expect anything back. We love unconditionally. It’s called “agape” and it’s awesome and super – natural.

When you ask them what they do, they don’t give you a job title.

We aren’t much on titles. Not the real Christ followers. Some who claim to be are REALLY big on titles, and rank and authority. The real followers recognize only one leader, Jesus. What we do is a mission. It’s not a self-determined mission or a mission to be happy. It’s a mission that brings happiness and joy because it’s the mission we were created for.

When you ask them where they live, they say, “At the moment…”
“Happy people tend to move around a bit.”  Christ followers are big time movers. Jesus told us to “go” and make disciples. We don’t travel for the sake of it. We go with a purpose, an eternal purpose. Yes, that makes us Happy, Happy, Happy.

They have their own philosophies, their own religion they created and live by.
I guess here Hudson really reaches the bottom line: “You don’t need a book to tell you how you ought to live your life. (He isn’t talking about the Bible, is he?) You can live your life by whatever philosophy you wish — as long as you found truths that satisfy you. They have a strong grasp of right and wrong and are their own judges.” He’s talking relative truth. It’s true if it’s true for me. Sorry Hudson. Truth is not relative. We really differ from you guys here. It’s not like you think it is. We don’t worship religion. You can go create your own religion. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about relationship. We have a relationship with the creator. Try to top that. He is the Great I am. If it sounds silly to  you, it’s because it hasn’t been revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way you get something like that.

They embrace their impermanence.

Now it’s getting serious. Read Hudson with me: “They know they’re only mortal — having this knowledge and accepting it fuels their every step. You will too. Why? Because it is inevitable. There is no way of avoiding it, only dealing with the fact.

The happiest of people don’t fear death. They don’t do their best to avoid it. They see it as the inevitability that it is in and live their lives by their terms. They may not be able to control death, but they know they sure as hell can control their own personal lives.”

Hudson’s folks don’t fear death because they believe it’s inevitable? Sounds a little fishy. They do their best to avoid it. Sounds futile. We don’t fear it because Jesus conquered it. I couldn’t go through life if I thought life was all. Hudson’s right that the happiest people don’t fear death. They look forward to eternal life. Only Christ followers get to do that.

They see the world as their playhouse and their mind as the conductor.

They think they are God, the original and ultimate delusion. The world was created for them and they are the boss. Sadly they are so close to getting it right. The world was created for us, not to play in, but to relate to God in. He’s the boss, but more importantly. He’s the loving Father. Thinking we are God is Satan’s great deception, begun in Eden and alive and well today.

They live in the moment, but dream in the future.

Here he goes again: “You can’t live life doing nothing more than looking towards the future because you’ll miss the only time that things actually matter or exist: the present. The present, the immediate moment is the only moment that you can actually live in. The rest is only an illusion.” Eternity is real. It’s not an illusion. It’s the purpose for existence. If you miss this point, you miss it all.

They don’t bother changing others, but instead learn how to deal with them appropriately.

Here’s Hudson’s (representing millions) sad conclusion and philosophy: “Devoting your energy to changing other people is a waste of it. People do change, but they only do so on their own accord. They have to decide to change themselves and that only happens in time — you can’t push and force because it doesn’t work.

On the contrary, it often does the opposite of what is intended. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to do the impossible, why not do the next best thing? Learn to deal with people as they are in order to get the result you desire. If you can’t change them, then guide them to do as you wish. Otherwise, let them go.”

Followers of Christ take exactly the opposite view. While we agree WE can’t change people; we rest in the fact that God can and does. Change is what it’s all about. We must be born again. Talk about change. That’s becoming completely new by the power of God.

It’s only here at the end that I decide the title for my post, Ten Things That People Who Follow Jesus Do Differently.

I think I’ll stick with the walk I’m on. Good luck Hudson.

Confronting Constitutional Confusion

Constitutional Confusion

It seems that every election we face Constitutional Amendments. I am an attorney. I got good grades in Con Law, yet trying to understand these amendments always gives me a headache. I acknowledge that my mind has slipped since my law school days, but shouldn’t everything on the ballot be understandable? I challenge you to read the 14 amendments and then explain even one of them to someone else. That might make for a great reality show. It should not be so, but it is.

The Nature of Constitutions

Constitutions contain the fundamentals of governments, and the rights of the citizens. They should contain permanent basics. Since 1974, the Louisiana Constitution has been amended 175 times. The U. S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times since 1789. The first ten amendments, The Bill of Rights, were adopted almost immediately. Many voters, recognizing that amendments should be rare and deal only with serious matters, are tough to convince that an amendment is worth approving. They vote against every amendment unless convinced otherwise.

The Nature of Politics

On the other hand, once an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution is presented to the voters at least two-thirds of both the Senate and state House have approved the measure. So some of us vote for every amendment deciding to give our politicians the benefit of the doubt.

The Nature of Responsibility

Although the always-vote-no and always-vote-yes positions have a valid basis, maybe we should be individually responsible enough to learn what we are voting on and decide on our own what’s best for Louisiana. That requires some work and research. The best source I have found for learning about the amendments is the PAR Guide. It is online here. The Public Affairs Research Council is a generally respected non-partisan source of information of public interest.

As November 4 draws near I may have a fit of courage or insanity and share my decision on some of the races and on the individual amendments. More importantly, it’s time for each of us to study, pray, decide and vote.  After all, we wouldn’t want all the money that’s being spent to help us decide to go to waste, would we?

Avoid Ballot Box Rage

The lines on November 4th in Louisiana, may not be like these, but we will be standing in line. We will face a complicated ballot with several important races and the dreaded Constitutional Amendments. Better have a plan.

Know where to vote

You won’t have to stand in line if you can’t find the right line to stand in. If you’re not sure where to vote, find out here. https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Mobile/Main.html

Get a sample ballot Don’ go into the voting booth with no idea about the decisions you will have to make. You don’t want to be a victim of “vote rage” which may occur if you face the ballot for the first time with a long line behind you. You can get a ballot for your precinct here:

 https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Mobile/AddressSearch.html By inserting your address, you can get a sample ballot unique to your precinct.

Your homework is to get a sample ballot. After the surprises, you might be motivated to have a plan.

Next time: The dreaded and usually unexpected Constitutional Amendments.

Informed Voters

Only informed citizens should vote. You won’t be informed if you:

  • Trust the media. Media outlets are businesses that need to make money.  They will run any ad and stir up any mess to get audience. They tend to fail to separate news from opinion from advertising.
  • Count signs. Signs don’t vote. Do you really want to vote for the guy or gal with the most signs? Even if signs represented votes, would you really want to vote based on what the most think?
  • Trust what a candidate says about his opponent. If you want to know what a jerk I am talk to my enemies. If you want to know what a saint I am talk to my acquaintances. If you want to know the truth, talk to my wife. It might be informative to talk to spouses of the candidates.
  • Rely on the opinion of others. Really. Can’t you think for yourself. Be particularly careful about ads put out by groups not associated with the candidate. They may or many not express the views of the person seeking office.

 

Between now and election day I will provide information about how to be informed. I won’t try to tell you for whom you should vote, just how to be an informed voter. It’s not always obvious and it’s so important.

Next: Knowing where to vote and getting a peek at what you will face in the voting booth. If you can’t wait until tomorrow to get informed, check out the plan at NickSigur.com.

Prepare to Vote

voteformeaba

Only informed citizens should vote. You won’t be informed if you:

  • Trust the media. Media outlets are businesses that need to make money.  They will run any ad and stir up any mess to get audience. They tend to fail to separate news from opinion from advertising.
  • Count signs. Signs don’t vote. Do you really want to vote for the guy or gal with the most signs? Even if signs represented votes, would you really want to vote based on what the most think?
  • Trust what a candidate says about his opponent. If you want to know what a jerk I am talk to my enemies. If you want to know what a saint I am talk to my acquaintances. If you want to know the truth, talk to my wife. It might be informative to talk to spouses of the candidates.
  • Rely on the opinion of others. Really. Can’t you think for yourself. Be particularly careful about ads put out by groups not associated with the candidate. They may or many not express the views of the person seeking office.

So what can we do? If you get a chance to see, meet, or hear the candidate in person that’s great. People are different in person from their media image. If you can’t do that, check out their website and see what they have to say about themselves. Candidates really believe they have something to offer. See what it is.

Get a sample ballot. Don’ go into the voting booth with no idea about the decisions you will have to make. You don’t want to be a victim of “vote rage” will may occur if you face the ballot for the first time with long line behind you. You can get a ballot for your precinct here:

 https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Mobile/AddressSearch.html By inserting your address, you can get a voter guide and find out where you are to vote. The site is run by the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Everyone in Louisiana has constitutional amendments to face. This is were almost all of us are under informed. The best source of information I have found is the PAR Guide. It’s a downloadable file that can be printed or emailed to your friends. It seems very unbiased, but that’s my biased opinion. 🙂

Here is what my ballot will look like. Scary isn’t it. I have done links where you can find info about the different candidates and issues. You can get a complete Acadiana Ballot from KATC. There are no links as I have done. At the end I added some races I am interested in but I don’t get to vote on.

If you can’t be informed do democracy a favor and STAY HOME. 

U. S. Senator –  (Select 1)
Wayne Ables #1 Democrat
“Bill” Cassidy #3 Republican
Thomas Clements #4 Republican
Mary L. Landrieu #5 Democrat
“Rob” Maness #6 Republican
Brannon Lee McMorris #7 Libertarian
Vallian Senegal #8 Democrat
William P. Waymire, Jr. #9 Democrat
U. S. Representative – 3rd Congressional District (Select 1)
Bryan Barrilleaux #19 Republican
Charles W. Boustany, Jr. #20 Republican
Russell Richard #21 No Party
District Judge – 15th Judicial District Court, ES 3, Div. M (Select 1)
“Charlie” Fitzgerald #62 Republican
Susan Theall #63 Republican
District Attorney – 15th Judicial District Court (Select 1)
Mike” Harson #198 Democrat
Keith Stutes #199 Republican
Member of School Board – District 7 (Select 1)
Mark Cockerham #84 Republican
Dawn Morris #85 Republican
Justice(s) of the Peace – Justice of the Peace Ward 5 (Select 1)
Barbara Broussard #90 Democrat
Jerry “J. P.” Morgan #91 Republican
CA NO. 1 (Act 439 – HB 533) – Medical Assistance Trust Fund
YES
NO
CA NO. 2 (Act 438 – HB 532) – Hospital Stabilization Fund
YES
NO
CA NO. 3 (Act 871 – HB 488) – Tax Sale
YES
NO
CA NO. 4 (Act 873 – HB 628) – Investment of Public Funds
YES
NO
CA NO. 5 (Act 875 – HB 96) – Remove Mandatory Retirement Age of Judges
YES
NO
CA NO. 6 (Act 870 – HB 111) – Fire and Police Protection Orleans Parish
YES
NO
CA NO. 7 (Act 433 – SB 96) – Disabled Veterans
YES
NO
CA NO. 8 (Act 434 – SB 128) – Artificial Reef Development Fund
YES
NO
CA NO. 9 (Act 432 – SB 56) – Special Assessment Level – Disabled
YES
NO
CA NO. 10 (Act 436 – HB 256) – Redemption Period, Abandoned Property
YES
NO
CA NO. 11 (Act 874 – HB 341) – Executive Branch Departments
YES
NO
CA NO. 12 (Act 437 – HB 426) – Wildlife and Fisheries Commission
YES
NO
CA NO. 13 (Act 872 – HB 489) – Lower Ninth Ward Property Sale
YES
NO
CA NO. 14 (Act 435 – HB 131) – Tax Rebates, Incentives, Abatements
YES
NO

Here are some races you might be called upon to consider:

City Judge – City Court, Division A, City of Lafayette (Select 1)
“Francie” Bouillion #64 No Party
Joseph H. Riley, II #65 Republican
City Marshal – City Court, City of Lafayette (Select 1)
Joseph B. Cormier #66 Democrat
Kip Judice #67 No Party
Earl “Nickey” Picard #68 Democrat
Brian Pope #69 Republican
Chief of Police – City of Broussard (Select 1)
Brannon Decou #208 Republican
Todd Mouton #209 Republican

PRAY

We all need to pray for this election, for the stressed candidates and for our stressed democracy.

Be blessed.

Nick