Monday, June 22, 2009

June 23, 2009

Judi's going on vacation this week so we will not be publishing our regular weekly Blog this week. We will be back next week.

God Bless you all.

Beef & Judi

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Playground Bullies Rule…

In these days, the property management business is one of continual surprises. Tenants who have faithfully paid rent for over 30 years are in trouble and paying late or not paying at all. The tenant doesn’t get paid, then the landlord doesn’t get paid, then we don’t get paid either. Yes, the chickens are coming home to roost.

One of the great tenets of our American republic was the rule of law. Up until now, America was a good safe place to do business. Why; because we were a nation of laws. Laws governed business. Laws not based upon the whims of our leaders (who you know) or laws not based upon who you can pay off (campaign contributions) but our laws were built upon long standing principles rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. The System has worked well—up until now. And now the chickens have not only come home but they are crapping in our nest.

Our government leaders handling of the Chrysler bankruptcy and the General Motors take over have rewritten the law. They have moved secured creditors to the rear of the line in the possibility of recovering some of the money they invested. Unsecured creditors (namely unions) were moved to the front of the line for political purposes. (Unions deliver election victories.) Yes, the re-ordering of these creditor priorities was a big political move. Sadly to say, in the last week the Supreme Court has gone along with this nonsense. These actions will have a long lasting effect upon the American and foreign investment community when they consider American businesses as a “former safe” investment.

Manure slides down hill. I just got out of a meeting with a “feel good” non-profit organization. They are in financial trouble because of reduction in State funding. We have a lease in place, a legal binding document; the lease is for two more years. I was told (I don’t have a problem with people telling me things but…) in no uncertain terms, this non-profit would not abide by the terms of this lease. Upon their whim, they rewrote the law. They are following our countries leaders; we will rewrite the rule of law as we go. They told me the lease is of no consequence. I was told I must rewrite the lease or they will walk. It was a feeble attempt on their part of trying to be street thugs in alligator shoes.

I know times are tough. We are working with tenants to rewrite leases which work for the good of both the tenant and the landlord. I’m sick and tired of playing by the rules, keeping my nose clean, sacrificing to do what is right and end up being steam rolled by people who on a whim want to rewrite the rule of law. They operate with an attitude of arrogance and condescension. America, we’re in trouble!

You may say, “Beef, quit your whining. How does this affect me?” In business when the rule of law is gone, your 30 year, 5% mortgage can be changed to a 20 year mortgage at 15%? Who is going to stop them? This could happen or should I say, in some ways it has already happened.

Who wins when no rule of law or no moral restraint is applied? The one who wins is the playground bully. The playground bully is the one with influence and power, even if that power and influence is diabolical. He wins, or does he?

In Acts 12, King Herod was winning. He was writing his own rules as he went along. He was the playground bully and no one could restrain him…so he thought.

Herod was in the people pleasing business. Acts 12:1-3 says: “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.”

Herod was also strutting his stuff with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They were hungry and needed food from King Herod. They wanted peace but at what price? Acts 12:19b-22: “He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king's country for their food supply. On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man."

Yes, it was a grand party. The Jews “had connections” to get rid of James and have Peter imprisoned. The people of Tyre and Sidon had connections with the Kings servant Blastus; they now had full bellies but empty hearts. In their stupor, they celebrated. Acts 12:21-24: On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. BUT the word of God continued to increase and spread.”

Herod was struck down, eaten by worms, and then died. Notice the sequence. He did not die and then was eaten; he was eaten by worms and then died. Not a pretty sight.

Listen brothers and sisters, this nonsense must stop. We are abandoning principles and laws which have formed our nation. We are a nation of sheep being lead to destruction. But remember this; God is still on the throne. His plans are never thwarted. In spite of playground bullies and others, the word of God spread. The church survived and flourished. We may suffer and be persecuted and some may have to die, like James, but our God reigns.. The playground bullies will be held accountable. Therefore, sleep well, Christian, sleep well.

Do not lose hope. God help our nation. Forgive us Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

“The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man.” Psalm 115:16

The crop planned for our farm this year is sweet corn. The crop must be planted according to a schedule provided by the processor (Seneca). The purpose of the planting schedule is to hopefully have corn coming to peak maturity at different times as to even out the processing load at the processing plant.

As of today, our corn has not yet been planted. The renter will plant when instructions are given by the processor. We had a problem—we were very dry. Last week I dug down to find moisture at the 2+ inch level; a little too deep to plant sweet corn. Then this weekend we had a very slow rain; the best you can get to replenish the soil. A slow rain allows all the moisture to get into the ground for maximum availability for the crops or gardens. What a blessing!

We attended a high school graduation in another town this weekend. It has been a long time since we have driven through rain. The soil in a field east of Bird Island was as black as black could be due to the moisture. The crops were as green as green could be. For this ol’ country boy, this was a site to behold! A good rain, beautiful soil, and crops which are healthy and growing—what a blessing!

At the graduation party, I met a foreign exchange student from Europe. She was pleasant and we had a great conversation.

I asked her what surprised you most about America. She did not hesitate. “The people are open and friendly and work hard at being part of the community.” She added, “Everyone has been friendly and kind to me.” I thought her observation was interesting.

Another thing that surprised her was the size of our farm fields. She said it would be hard for Europeans to realize these flat, black fields go northwest all the way to the Canadian border.

These beautiful fields were not beautiful fields when the settlers arrived. Most of Renville County Minnesota was lowland swamps when the first settlers arrived. The early surveyors wrote in their notes that they couldn’t see any good purpose for this place. Yet 150 years later, it is the bread basket of the world.

The swamps were turned into verdant fields with a lot of ingenuity and hard work. Many settlers came; all did not stay. This was, and is, a hard place. It gets hot in the summer, cold in the winter, not to mention the rocks, grasshoppers, mosquitoes and throw in a tornado or blizzard now and then.

Yet…God gave us the earth. With God given strength, ingenuity and perseverance the settlers turned these swamps into some of the best farmland in the world but if it doesn’t rain, we end up with nothing more than expensive dust.

God has and continues to be good to us mere men. The timely rain could not have come at a better time and in a better way.

So next year when you’re enjoying your sweet corn in the dead of the winter, remember God has given us the earth and we must endure and persevere. Everyone on the prairie realizes this fact—we are only here by God’s grace. If you think the Europeans are impressed, just talk to an American farmer. They are impressed with the hard work and faithfulness of their forefathers and with God’s kindness shown to them.

The Lord has been good to us again… May we ever be grateful!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Wheelchair Steve

Last week I had my six-month check up at the Center for Prostate Cancer at the University of Minnesota. I arrived fifteen minutes early only to be informed by Cynthia that the appointments were running forty-five minutes late.

Waiting rooms in cancer centers are places of tension—you can feel the tension in the air. People coming here are finding out two things: How bad is my cancer? Or has it come back? Add to this tension a full waiting room, appointments running forty-five minutes late and as usual, no one talks to one another.

Then a grey haired man rolled past me in his very unique wheel chair. He turned it around quickly, and with purpose, backed in next to the aquarium and threw me a big smile. I knew from the first glance this was some one special.

His smile was infectious; I said to him, “It’s a good day” (Boris’ influence on me).

He smiled and said, “Yes, it is a good day.”

I asked, “How long you been in the chair?”

“Thirty-two years,” he said with a smile. I was impressed. Thirty-two years and he is able to still have a positive, outgoing attitude.

He said, “I was seventeen, thirty seconds into my first shift of the first hockey game of my senior year. I was hit from behind, I fell flat onto the ice, slid head first into the boards, and I was paralyzed from just below my chest.” (He has restricted use of his hands.) He still has a twinkle in his eyes and possesses a quick wit.

”Being in a chair is not all bad,” he said. “How far did you have to walk to get here?”

I replied, “About three blocks.”

“I parked in front of the door.” He laughed.

We shared a short introduction and I learned his name was Steve. His positive upbeat attitude cut the tension in the waiting room. People did not talk but Steve knew everyone was listening and he didn’t miss his opportunity to inspire.

His business is inventing things to help handicapped people. Steve’s wheel chair is one of his products; he has invented exercise equipment and other devices to make life easier for handicapped people. He sells his ideas to various manufacturers. I asked the questions and he answered loud enough for everyone to hear. All of our spirits were lifted.

He asked why I was there. I told him I was there to see if my cancer had come back. His situation was the same as mine. I said to him, “The Lord has been good to us.”

“He sure has” was his reply.

Steve wheeled in for his appointment with a smile on his face, shaking my hand before he left. The attitude in the waiting room had changed. Tension was reduced and our anger at being late seemed to evaporate into thin air. People began to talk to one another.

As I was called in for my appointment, Steve was coming out. He touched my hand and with a big smile said, “Everything is OK; I hope the same for you!” We had tears in our eyes.

He said, “We’ll meet again.”

I said, “Yes, we will meet again.”

We will meet again, probably not in this life but in the next life. Once again the Lord was good to me; my cancer has not returned. Add to this good news the blessing to meet “Wheelchair Steve.”

In the midst of this darkness, Steve let his light shine. A transformed life lived out in our presence. A testimony to God’s grace and love.