Thursday, April 30, 2009

And Then There's the Vice-President's Comments...

Two minutes after I finished the last post, I hear on the radio that our [remove disrespectful adjective here] vice-president had the following scare-mongering to say:

"I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places right now," Biden said. "It's not that its going to Mexico, it's that you are in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft. That's me."

He added that his advice is offered as a means to slow down the spread of the flu, which has now resulted in infections in 11 states and 100 schools being shut down around the nation.

"I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway. From my perspective, it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft, a closed container, closed car, a closed classroom, it's a different thing," Biden said.

This from the man who famously rode Amtrak thousands of times. Naturally, the Air Transport Association is unhappy with the comments, and his office tried to smooth over his comments to say something...else.

Remember: There are far fewer people roaming America with this flu virus than there are carrying other communicable things.

Thoughts on the "Pandemic"

I'm told there is a "swine flu pandemic"...although the term swine flu is not really accurate.

For that matter, neither is the term "pandemic." According to, the definition of this noun is:

prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.
Prevalent? Let's look at that definition, too:
1. widespread; of wide extent or occurrence; in general use or acceptance.
2. having the superiority or ascendancy.
There may be thousands of cases of this flu—in Mexico, with its population of 110,000,000—but the definition of pandemic just does not seem to be met by this spreading virus.

I heard on the radio today that a grand total of 7 [that's seven, as in one more than six] deaths are attributed to this flu, all of them but one in Mexico. That may not be the most up-to-date number at the moment you read this, but it hardly ranks up there with the most common causes of death in America [technically, abortion is the #1 cause of death in America]:
  1. Heart disease (approximately 652,000 in 2005)
  2. Cancer (559,000)
  3. Stroke (143,000)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (130,000)
  5. Accidents/unintentional injuries (117,000)
  6. Diabetes (75,000)
  7. Alzheimer's (71,000)
  8. Influenza/pneumonia (63,000)
Notice #8, which accounted for an average of about 173 deaths per day (2005) in the U.S.A. And this is only the eighth-most common cause of death; it is only about one-tenth of the number of heart disease deaths.

So why is there such a big deal being made about this "pandemic"?
  • Could it be because groups and organizations like WHO and CDC want to make themselves relevant in their lives? Or more to the point, because they want more funding?
  • Could it be because the media have virtually no grasp of statistics?
  • Could it be because people, not finding comfort and peace in God, suddenly have a new thing to worry about?
There are various reports in the U.S.A. about schools closing today; Texas sports events have been postponed. This is an overreaction (except perhaps for that one Catholic school in NY which has multiple confirmed cases). Those relative few who have this flu should be kept away from the rest of the population, and life should continue. The percentage of Americans who have this particular virus is still far fewer than the percentages of Americans who have a variety of other spreadable viruses, diseases, etc.

Calm down, folks. It's not as bad as the media and government want you to think.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

They Have to Ask Permission?!?

More proof that government control of once-private [or in this case, publicly traded] corporations has gone too far is this opening sentence from a article:

"Citigroup Inc., soon to be one-third owned by the U.S. government, is asking the Treasury for permission to pay special bonuses to many key employees, according to people familiar with the matter."
Whether or not these bonuses are merited, and their size, is beyond my knowledge (I have my doubts), but to see a once-grand company have to stoop to asking the government if it can do what its peers sad.

This is more proof that "the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Shows His True Colors

Sen. Arlen Specter, former Republican of PA, has finally decided to come out and identify himself for what he is: A Democrat. He is not a conservative; he is not principled. He sided with the president on the stimulus bill in February, which was the final straw for many of us (and I don't even live in PA anymore).

Specter has claimed to be independent. In a statement today, he said, "My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans."

Specter is an unprincipled liberal who has stood against conservative principles for years. Good riddance. I look forward to blogging about Sen. Toomey in 2011.

Monday, April 27, 2009

GRPS Foolishness May Be Spreading...

Back in December the Grand Rapids Public School District (MI) announced that F's were not going to be issued on students' report cards, replaced instead by an amorphous "H" (presumably for "held," as in the grade is held pending completion of...something; or for "hope," according to a school district spokesman). This was expected to improve the dropout rate. I blogged about it at that time.

But now, according to, we learn that this foolishness extends from coast to coast! Linked also to this article is another which identifies six more school districts, although an unspecified number of additional districts apparently do something like this. The new code acronym is "ZAP," for "Zeroes aren't permitted."

These additional six school districts do not use the "H" grade (I hesitate to call it a grade, but that is what it is functioning as), but instead lasso the offending did-not-do-homework students into either an after-school activity (we called this "detention" in my day) to complete the assignments or some other situation which demands that the homework be completed. In general, once the students complete the assignment, even if it's late, they can generally get a grade higher than a zero on it.

If a school district wants to codify its procedures for students who don't do assignments to mandate their attendance in an after-school activity [a.k.a., punishment for not doing homework is detention], I have no problem with that. I would like to note two things, however:

  • It appears that no one wants to use the word "punishment" or any synonym that contains a negative connotation. Students are helped and taught, not hurt, when they learn that failure to meet their responsibilities requires a consequence—and "punishment" is one such accurate term for it.
  • There needs to be a "point of no return" beyond which, if the assignment isn't completed, a zero is the result. I can even be charitable and give a "day of grace" (or even two, for a first offense) before issuing a zero, but that window of opportunity should not stay open for long. For one thing, the logistics for the teachers are going to be a burden as it is.
And, oh, by the way, how is this working up there in Grand Rapids? From we get some more details, but the second article summarizes them nicely:
"But according to figures released earlier this week, the effort may not be working. Just 16 percent of classes failed during the program's initial trimester were converted into passing grades, and in 68 percent of classes students made no attempt to reconcile the grade. Another 15 percent of the classes were failed a second time." [Emphasis mine]
The liberal softie may claim that it's worth doing it for those 16% to get a passing grade, but that's not the point—those students would be permitted to retake the class anyway, despite the "H" grade initially received! I'm happy for those 16%; I am disgusted for the 68%. Evidently for them there was not sufficient motivation to try to redeem their grade!

Let's be honest, for by so doing, the students will learn the lesson: Failure matters. If you have not put forth adequate effort and obtained minimally expected results, you will reap the consequence. It's true in the workplace and true on the field of sport; it is one of the most basic lessons every citizen of this country (and every illegal alien, for that matter) should learn.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hymn of the Week: I'd Rather Have Jesus

One simple question: Would I rather have Jesus than all the other things mentioned in this hymn?

The words are by Rhea F. Miller. The tune to which they are sung was written by George Beverly Shea.

I'd Rather Have Jesus

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand


Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway.
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause;
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
I'd rather be true to His holy name


He's fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He's sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He's all that my hungering spirit needs.
I'd rather have Jesus and let Him lead


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Administration May Oust Another CEO? is reporting that "the government" is considering giving the chairman of Citigroup, Vikram Pandit, "the boot."

The article has this telling nugget:

"According to The New York Post, citing sources, regulators are mulling taking steps to show the government is taking a strong stand on banks, which may include removing Pandit."
I suppose a case can be made that Pandit made some executive mistakes, that he took too much risk upon the company, etc.

But when is it the purpose of our free and republican [type, not party] government to remove heads of companies whom they are (supposedly) helping? No one has yet mentioned Pandit being involved in any illegal activity, or of trying to intentionally damage why is this happening? So the government can "take a strong stand" and look tough?

This won't be the first time; Rick Wagoner, formerly head of GM, was quietly canned on a Sunday evening a few weekends ago.

We need to be concerned about a government that takes this much power unto itself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on Miss California

Carrie Prejean will be known henceforth as the tall, pretty, blonde Miss California who unleashed a firestorm by stating her view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She very likely could have won the Miss USA competition had she instead answered the question posed to her in a politically correct manner.

My thoughts are these:

  • You must give Carrie credit for speaking her mind—indeed, for speaking the truth—in an environment which she knew was hostile toward the truth. National TV, homosexual judge, expectations, etc...these all dictated that she give the politically correct answer to grease the slide of her success. And she spoke the truth anyway. Good for her! (And on top of it all, she reminded Americans that you can be beautiful, successful...and still speak the truth.)
  • On the other hand, when you see Carrie in your mind, what do you see? I have not yet seen a picture of Carrie in anything but an evening gown or a very, very small bikini. That is the only image I have of her. Carrie speaks of being a Christian—and I sincerely hope that she is—but she was participating in an activity where she had to essentially disrobe and parade her body in front of millions of people—and her body has been in the view of millions more (like me) since this story broke. Modesty is a Christian virtue, and participation in these kinds of paegants forces you to throw that virtue aside.
  • I hope that Carrie gives up the beauty paegant business and that she becomes a voice for what is righteous and true in whatever career God has for her. And I hope that she does it in modest clothing. She will still a beautiful girl—perhaps even more so—with the joy of the Spirit in her heart and some lovely, modest clothing on her person.

Book Review: Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin

Last week I bought and read the new book Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin. This is a must-read book!

A quick read of just the first few chapters will make it obvious why this book sits atop the best-seller lists. What Levin has done is taken the timeless principles of conservatism and not only contrasted them with liberalism (which he calls statism, and with good reason), but also laid out reasons why conservatism is superior. He then explains why conservatism is the philosophy of liberty—as it was intended by our Founding Fathers and the Constitution—and why statism is the philosophy of governmental tyranny and control.

Levin does all of this in a highly readable, concise way. The chapters are organized topically, with subject matter such as faith, enviro-statism, immigration, etc. I hope to read this book again sometime and blog about these individual topics in more depth.

If you like books with lots of fluff, this may not be for you. If you like a book where no paragraph goes to waste and where each point is made clearly and concisely, you will love this one. If you like books that make you thankful you are a conservative, then you should find and read this book immediately.

Monday, April 20, 2009

THIS is a Budget Cut? Come on!

This morning President Obama is to hold his first Cabinet meeting (does this strike anyone else as odd? He's been president for nearly three months now) and is going to tell them to immediately cut $100 million—collectively—from their budgets.

As this article points out, this amounts to 1/35,000 of the overall federal budget this year. This is approximately 0.0029%. Let's contemplate that.

To scale, this would be approximately the same as asking the average American household to cut one or two dollars per year from their household spending. How could they do that, you might ask?

  • Buy one or two fewer sodas from the machine this year.
  • One less trip to Starbucks.
  • Buy the steak when it's on sale and put it in the freezer until you're ready to use it.
  • To hijack a democrat idea, make the kids buy their own candy or dessert next time.
I have some other good ideas, even for those daring souls who would like to cut three, four, or perhaps five dollars from next year's family budget.

But getting back to the more serious issue: It is laughable to ask for only $100 million dollars in "immediate" cuts—he should be demanding $100 billion now in "immediate" cuts! And there should be more cuts to follow in the months ahead. The federal government is so excessively full of pork, waste, and inefficiency that this is both realistic and relatively easy.

What we have here is just a faux show of "budgetary responsibility"—and not even a good one at that—which will be presented in much of the media as serious budget responsibility.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hymn of the Week: The Day of Resurrection

Easter should not be forgotten. The resurrection of Christ is far too important!

This is another ancient hymn, written originally (in Greek) by John of Damascus about thirteen centuries ago. It was translated to English in 1862 by John M. Neale.

Notice the words of this hymn. The first clear message is the natural yearning we should have to tell everyone about Christ's resurrection—in today's lingo, to "share the Gospel" with the world around us. The second stanza emphasizes what we need to do: Cleanse ourselves from evil, and look and listen for the news.

Do you believe that Christ arose? How does it impact your life and your message today?

The Day of Resurrection

The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
And listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Barack Obama and the Catholics: Will the Catholics Ever Learn?

According to this article, when Barack Obama spoke at Georgetown University on Tuesday (see my preceding post), his administration requested—and Georgetown University complied—that the religious symbols behind the lecturn in the chapel, including the name of Christ, be covered.

Does it strike anyone besides me that it is the height of arrogance to request to speak in a chapel and then to request that the religious elements in the background be covered? When you are the guest? If you wish to speak in an environment free of religious symbolism, surely a university the size of Georgetown has an auditorium, or theatre, or some similar venue where a speech could be given?

Combined with the fact that he then goes to this Catholic university and misuses the Holy Scriptures? (Again, see preceding post)

Obama spoke at Georgetown University before, in September of 2006, at this same chapel, where he gave a typically liberal/statist speech on energy independence. As Senator, it does not appear that he was given the opportunity to change the background.

Catholic leadership (and laity) need to recognize that no matter how much they coddle or befriend Obama, there is no reason to believe that he will conform his views to match theirs. Giving him an honorary doctorate at a prestigious school? No. Allowing him to speak and essentially backhand you by asking you to cover up what you consider important symbolism? Not gonna matter.

Obama's views are, and have been, at odds with Catholic doctrine and teaching. Catholics need to stand up, not bow down.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bad Bible Usage From the White House

In this post straight from the White House blog, we learn concerning Obama that "Today the President made it his central purpose of to explain the vision that has served as the foundation for every major initiative on the economy thus far" [evidently the teleprompter doesn't double as a grammar checker].

The president made a lengthy speech today regarding economic policy. Below is an excerpt from near the end of it:

For even as too many were out there chasing ever-bigger bonuses and short-term profits over the last decade, we continued to neglect the long-term threats to our prosperity: the crushing burden that the rising cost of health care is placing on families and businesses; the failure of our education system to prepare our workers for a new age; the progress that other nations are making on clean energy industries and technologies while we -- we remain addicted to foreign oil; the growing debt that we're passing on to our children. Even after we emerge from the current recession, these challenges will still represent major obstacles that stand in the way of our success in the 21st century. So we've got a lot of work to do.

Now, there's a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was soon destroyed when a storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

It was founded upon a rock. We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity -- a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.

It's a foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century: Number one, new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking -- (applause); number two, new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive -- (applause); number three, new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and new industries -- (applause); number four, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and number five, new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations. (Applause.)

That's the new foundation we must build. That's our house built upon a rock. That must be our future -- and my administration's policies are designed to achieve that future.

I included the first of those paragraphs to give you a taste of the Statist philosophy that our president holds, and for context. Here is the relevant Scripture from Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV):
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
In Obama's "parable," the wise man is the one who heeds his administration—who buys into the philosophy that the government exists to meet your needs, and that your future depends on his wisdom. The house of sand he refers to evidently is some reference to the free market economy which was once more prevalent in our land.

In the Bible's story, the wise man is the one who hears and does Christ's sayings (vs. 24).

Notice the contrast?

The Story of the Bible, Part 7

The gospels tell us about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts continues the historical narrative from there. In its opening verses we read of Christ's ascension back to heaven. In Chapter 2 we see the beginning of the "church age" with the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost. On this great day upwards of 3,000 were saved and subsequently baptized. The growth of the church is rapid in these months after Pentecost, and persecution by both the religious and civil authorities grows. Saul, a Pharisee, is miraculously saved on the road to Damascus on an errand to persecute Christians (Acts 9). His name changes to Paul and he becomes the focus of the second half of the book of Acts. Acts 13-28 give details of his various missionary journeys and activities, ending in Rome, where he was imprisoned c. 60 A.D.

The books of the New Testament from Romans through Jude teach us the bulk of biblical doctrine. Most disputes among Protestant denominations have their roots in disagreements over the interpretation and/or application of the teachings of these books. This blog post is not intended to delineate those differences or to take sides; the list below merely gives some of the most critical doctrinal truths (with references, which I encourage you to read for yourself).

  • Man is a sinner (Rom. 3:10, 23), and sin brings death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus' death paid the price we deserved to pay (Rom. 5:8) and opened the door to salvation to anyone who puts his faith in Jesus and repents of his sins (Rom. 10:9-10, 13). Salvation is by grace through faith, and cannot be obtained by working for it (Eph. 2:8-9).
  • The Bible is the Word of God, inspired (lit., "God-breathed") by Him, and intended for our benefit (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It was written down by "holy men of God" who were led by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
  • Those who accept the gift of salvation are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 John 4:13-14).
  • Man is to live a holy lifestyle obedient to God's commands (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 1 John 2:3-5), and is to love his fellow man (1 John 3:10-11, 23, 4:7-8), and not the things of this carnal world (1 John 2:15-17).
It is also worth noting that the human authors of the New Testament and the apostles all uniformly believed that Jesus Christ was God, as He had said when He was on earth. No salvation is possible apart from Christ (Acts 4:12). If Christ had not arisen from the grave, we would be without hope (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

The book of Revelation is the final book of the Bible. Its first chapter gives us the background—a revelation from God to the aged apostle John, while he is imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos. The second and third chapters contain messages to seven specific local churches of John's day. The remainder of the book prophecies of things which have not yet come to pass. A loose outline of these events would look like this:
  • The "rapture" of the church, taken up from this earth directly to heaven (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
  • Seven years of tribulation, which will include an assortment of plagues and pestilence unprecedented in human history
  • The physical return of Jesus Christ to earth, where he will defeat his enemies at a great battle [Armageddon] and commence a 1000-year reign
  • After that millennium, one final rebellion by Satan, which will promptly be defeated (Rev. 20:7-10); Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire forever
  • The eternal reign of Jesus Christ in heaven, where all the saved will be with him forever.
Those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior (i.e., all those who have not accepted Him) during their lives on earth will be judged and also be cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:11-15).

These seven posts are just an overview of the Bible. Many thousands of books have been written about the Bible, but the best way to know what the Bible says is to read it yourself. I encourage you to do so. If you have not accepted God's gift of salvation, I especially encourage you to do just that.

The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hymn of the Week: He Lives Again

I was actually looking for the hymn "He Lives" [I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today...] when I ran across this less-familiar hymn by one George Burns, written in 1913.

The fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on that first Easter morning should be a cause of great joy, comfort, and peace to everyone who has put their faith in Him. It should also be cause for sharing the Savior with everyone we meet! "Have you heard? Do you know what Jesus Christ did for you?"

Sadly, even here in America, many are unfamiliar with what Jesus Christ did in coming to earth, dying for their sins, and rising from the dead. They are unfamiliar with the gospel and salvation. They do not know what the Bible says about these matters.

Let us tell them!

He Lives Again

Have you heard the wondrous story
Of the victory for God,
How the Lord of life and glory,
Sin beneath His feet hath trod?


Sing it out, oh, sing it ever,
Till the hills take up the strain,
And the saints beyond the river—
Join to sing, “He lives again!”

Have you heard the wondrous story
Of a wide and open grave,
Out of which the Lord of glory
Hath come forth with power to save?


Have you heard the wondrous story
Of the captive souls set free
By the Lord of life and glory,
Who hath brought them liberty?


May I tell the wondrous story,
For I know its worth so well,
How the Lord of life and glory,
Saved my soul from death and hell?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 6

One of the very clear themes of the Old Testament is that man sins, and that his sin demands judgment. Under the Law, blood sacrifices were required. In the prophetic books, judgment for sin was a frequent topic. It was also clear that God would someday send a "Messiah," a Savior or Deliverer, to his people.

Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all of those Messianic prophecies. The gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, tell us about his life, death, and resurrection.

As we typically hear at Christmastime, Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem. He was visited by shepherds and, later, wise men from the East. His childhood up to the age of about thirty receives only a brief mention in Luke 2:40-52. It is the approximately three years of his adult ministry which occupies the majority of the gospel narratives.

Jesus was, and is quite literally, the son of God. This is not true merely because of His virgin birth, but because Jesus is God. He said so Himself (Matt. 26:63-65), and the many miracles performed at His hand testify to it. Even the devil and his demons knew it (Matt. 4:6, 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:41)! The gospel authors testify of it plainly (Mark 1:1; John 1:1-4, 14, 35). Much of the New Testament that follows the gospels contains the eyewitness accounts of those who saw Jesus on earth.

Jesus preached, taught, and ministered to Jews (primarily) and Gentiles, and many believed on Him. Many, especially those in positions of civil and religious authority, resented Him and eventually began to plot His destruction. This, however, was also prophesied (Zech. 11:12-13)! He was betrayed by one of His twelve disciples, Judas Iscariot, for thirty pieces of silver. Judas led the priests and a large contingent of soldiers to a garden called Gethsemane, where Jesus, knowing full well what was about to happen, was praying (John 17). Each gospel contains an account of the actions that followed: Jesus was questioned by the high priests, by Pontius Pilate, and by Herod; and sent to the cross for death, accompanied by two of the criminals of His day.

On that day, commemorated now as Good Friday, Jesus was crucified. Despite the taunts of the crowd (Matt. 27:39-44), He did not perform another miracle and come down from that cross. He did not do so because He willingly became the Only Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of all mankind throughout all of history. Sin brings judgment, and the Bible teaches that the proper punishment for all of us sinners is eternal damnation in a real, fiery hell. Only a perfect, unblemished sacrifice could save us from this deserved judgment. Jesus Christ was that perfect sacrifice!

On the first day of the week following His crucifixion and death, a day now called Easter, Jesus rose from the grave! Having completed the sacrifice, He demonstrated His Godhood once and for all time. He appeared to a variety of people, including over 500 at one time (1 Cor. 15:3-8). All four gospels conclude with details of what transpired in the weeks after His resurrection.

And then, on the fortieth day after He arose, He ascended back into heaven (Acts 1:3-9) with the disciples watching.

As John says in the final verse of his gospel,

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." (John 21:25)
The entire "gospel" can be summarized briefly this way: Man sinned, and, facing damnation, needed a Savior. God provided such a Savior, prophecying of him extensively in the centuries of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ, God's son, was the Savior who came to earth and paid the sacrifice for the sins of mankind. When a person put his faith in Christ and accepts His sacrificial gift of salvation, He is saved from eternal punishment and promised eternity with Christ in heaven.

The rest of the New Testament teaches us more about doctrine and how to live the Christian life.

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 5

Among those who were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar were Ezekiel and Daniel. Daniel would serve in his court and in the courts of others, including Darius, whose command landed Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6).

As prophesied by Jeremiah, this "Babylonian captivity" was to last 70 years, and we read in Ezra and Nehemiah how the Jews returned to the land, and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, its walls, and the Temple. The prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah also speak of this. The book of Esther tells us how she became the queen of Ahasuerus and was used of God to spare her people from genocide at the hands of their enemies; the Jewish feast of Purim commemorates this event.

The books of the Old Testament up through Esther contain much of what we know about the history of Israel. The remaining books of the Old Testament tell us many other things.

The books from Job through Song of Solomon are poetic books. The story of Job is among the oldest biblical accounts and may be contemporaneous with Abraham. Psalms is the "hymnal" of the Jews; most of these songs were written by David. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are attributed to Solomon. Most Americans today probably have no idea how many common phrases are in some way attributable to the book of Proverbs.

The remaining seventeen books of the Old Testament are prophetic books. These prophecies cover a wide range of events, but most can be classified as one of these:

  • Prophecies concerned with the immediate time frame. Jeremiah prophecied of the downfall of Jerusalem; Jonah prophecied of destruction for Nineveh; Daniel prophecied of impending madness for Nebuchadnezzar. All of them saw results (although in Jonah's case, it was repentance, not destruction, that occurred).
  • Prophecies concerning the histories of other nations. Ezekiel, Obadiah, and Nahum, among others, focus extensively on what would happen to nations other than their own. Daniel, however, is perhaps the most comprehensive, giving an accurate future chronology of the kingdoms extending from the 6th century Babylonian of his day all the way down to the Roman empire of Christ's day. The extensive prophecy of Daniel 11:2-34 was so accurately fulfilled over the course of four centuries that most skeptics dismiss it as being written after the fact.
  • Prophecies concerning the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We learn in Isaiah that "a virgin shall conceive" (Isa. 7:14) and that this son "shall be called Wonderful, Cousellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). We learn in Micah that he will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Isaiah 53 tells us about his suffering and death. Many passages speak of his yet-future rule over the entire earth.
  • Prophecies concerning the Last Days. Large portions of Daniel and Zechariah, in particular, speak about time yet future: A 7-year period of tribulation, followed by an unprecedented battle [Armageddon], followed by the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.
The chronologically-last figure we see in the Old Testament is the prophet Malachi, who lived about four hundred years before the birth of Christ. By this time, the spiritual revivals of Ezra and Nehemiah's days had faded and the people had become callous toward spiritual things. The Jewish people were not independent, but merely subjects of the Persian empire. From this point we have four centuries of biblical silence before the gospels appear on the scene....

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

A Good Friday Thought

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony,
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

Jennie E. Hussey, 1921

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 4

The first half of the book of Exodus tells us about Moses—his birth and upbringing, his 40 years as a shepherd for his father-in-law, and his call by God to lead His people out of Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Pharaoh, who had the people of Israel functioning as slaves, was not keen on the idea; God sent ten plagues before Pharaoh was convinced to send them on their way. The final plague, in which the firstborn of every Egyptian family (indeed, every family which had not put blood on the doorposts of the home) died, is celebrated annually by the Passover.

The children of Israel go into the wilderness and end up at a mountain called Sinai, where God appears and gives them the Ten Commandments and the Law (Exodus 19-40). They build the tabernacle and its furniture before advancing toward the promised land again.

Before entering the land, twelve spies are sent in to check it out. Ten of the twelve, upon their return, give a bad report of the land and spread discontent among the people. Despite the urgings of Joshua and Caleb, the people murmured and began to rebel. For this, God condemns the adult population—except for Joshua and Caleb—to forty years of wandering and death in the wilderness; only the people younger than twenty will be allowed to enter the land.

The books of Numbers and Deuteronomy fill in additional details about this time of wandering.

Moses dies shortly before Joshua leads the people into the land, where they first conquer Jericho after God causes the walls to fall down (Joshua 6). The book of Joshua details these exploits and the division of the land by tribes. Judges covers the history for the next three centuries, where men (and one woman) called judges were the leaders of the people of Israel.

The remaining books of the Bible are not all in chronological order. The books from Joshua through Esther are called the historical books. Ruth is contemporaneous with Judges; I & II Chronicles cover the same period of time as the books of II Samuel and I & II Kings and overlap them to a degree.

After the period of the judges a man named Samuel, a priest, becomes the leader. It is in his lifetime that the people of Israel demand a king "like all the nations" (I Samuel 8:5). Although Samuel and God were displeased with the request, God grants it, with various warnings (I Samuel 8:7-22). Saul was the king whom God gave to Israel. He started out well, but became proud and eventually was told he would be replaced (I Samuel 15:16-23).

Samuel is sent to Bethlehem and anoints David, of the tribe of Judah, to be the next king (I Samuel 16). David is still a youth, and it will be a number of years before he becomes king. He breaks onto the public scene when he volunteers to kill Goliath and does so with a slingshot and a single stone (I Samuel 17). After years of being in and out of favor with Saul, and nearly being killed by Saul, Saul dies and David, at long last, becomes king.

David is one of the central figures of the Old Testament. It is promised to him that his throne will be established forever, referencing the fact that the Savior [Messiah] will come from his lineage (II Samuel 7). Under his forty-year rule and the forty-year rule of his son Solomon the kingdom of Israel reaches its zenith of power and prosperity. The Temple is built [parts of its foundation are visible in Jerusalem even today], and the worship of God is encouraged.

Solomon, known as the richest man and for having 700 wives and 300 concubines, becomes ungodly in his later years. It is prophesied that the kingdom will be split after his death, with the tribe of Judah remaining under Davidic rule, and ten of the other tribes breaking off under the leadership of a man named Jeroboam.

After Solomon dies, Jeroboam is made the ruler of the ten tribes and very promptly leads them into the worship of idols (I Kings 12:25-33). This "Northern kingdom" of "Israel" will be led by a succession of evil kings for over two centuries before being conquered and taken captive by Assyria (721 B.C.; II Kings 17). Judah will fare better, having some godly kings and some evil kings. Only the direct deliverance of God spares it from also being taken by Assyria (II Kings 18-19). Eventually, Judah is also punished for its wickedness and Jerusalem is destroyed in 586 B.C. by the famous Nebuchadnezzar (II Kings 25).

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Quotation About Democrats

Rep. Owen Lovejoy (R-IL) made the following quotation on April 5, 1860, referring to Democrats and their support of slavery:

"The principle of enslaving human beings because they are inferior, is this: If a man is a cripple, trip him up; if he is old and weak, and bowed with the weight of years, strike him, for he cannot strike back; if idiotic, take advantage of him; and if a child, deceive him. This, sir, this is the doctrine of Democrats and the doctrine of devils as well, and there is no place in the universe outside the five points of hell and the Democratic Party where the practice and prevalence of such doctrines would not be a disgrace."

That was the Democratic party on the eve of the Civil War. Something to think about.

The Story of the Bible, Part 3

After the Tower of Babel, the next major character we meet is Abraham. Abraham is called by God to move to another land, which turns out to be the land of Israel; and he is told that he will become a great nation through which the entire world will be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). This promise of blessing is expanded to Abraham in subsequent years (Gen. 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:1-21, 17:1-22, 22:15-18) and includes a promise that the Messiah would come through his lineage.

Abraham and his wife Sarah have no children until their old age. God's promise is short-circuited by Sarah, who offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham; Hagar bears a son named Ishmael. He becomes the father of the arab peoples, meaning that Abraham and Sarah's faith-less attempt at fulfilling God's word would have enormous, world-wide consequences all the way to the present day.

Twelve years after Ishmael's birth it is announced to Abraham and Sarah that Sarah would indeed bear a son (Gen. 18); this son was born and named Isaac.

Isaac becomes the father of two twin sons, Jacob and Esau. It was promised that both of them would become nations, yet despite Esau being the firstborn, Jacob was promised to be the stronger (Gen. 25:23). Esau sells his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:29-34), and Jacob and his mother trick Isaac into giving him the paternal blessing (Gen. 27, repeated in Gen. 28:1-4).

Jacob flees to his uncle, Laban. En route, God appears to him and repeats the blessings that He had promised to Abraham (Gen. 28:12-19). During the twenty years he spends with Laban, he accumulates two wives and two concubines, along with a large quantity of cattle, wealth, and children. His twelve sons would become known as the "twelve tribes" of Israel—Israel being the name God gives Jacob in Gen. 32:28.

Jacob's eleventh son, Joseph, becomes his father's favorite and is hated by his ten elder brothers (his younger brother is his only "full" brother). These ten capture him, sell him into slavery in Egypt, and concoct a story, believed by Jacob, that Joseph has been killed by wild animals. Joseph ends up in Egypt and eventually interprets a pair of dreams that Pharaoh has (Gen. 41). Pharoah makes him a second ruler in the kingdom, where he prepares for seven years for the great seven-year famine which he has foretold via Pharaoh's earlier dreams.

When the famine comes, Jacob sends those ten elder brothers into Egypt to buy grain to keep the family alive. Joseph recognizes them (they do not recognize him) and after he sends them back home and they return the following year with his younger brother Benjamin, he reveals himself to them. They fear he will punish them—he had that authority—but he reveals to them that God sent him ahead to protect their families from famine and suffering (Gen 45).

Joseph sends his brothers back to Jacob, and all of Jacob's clan moves to Egypt, where Joseph provides for them through the following years. It was in this way that "the children of Israel" found their way into Egypt, where they remain for the next four centuries. In Exodus, we learn how they "came out of Egypt."

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Iraqi Hockey Player

The Red Wings scout flies to Baghdad to watch a young Iraqi play hockey in the new American sponsored league, and is suitably impressed to arrange for him to come over to the US.

Ken Holland signs him to a one-year contract and the kid joins the team for the preseason. Two weeks later the Wings are down 4-0 to the Blackhawks with only 10 minutes left. Mike Babcock gives the young Iraqi the nod and he goes in.

The kid is a sensation - he scores 5 goals in 10 minutes and wins the game for the Red Wings! The fans are delighted, the players and coaches are delighted, and the media love the new star.

When the player comes off the ice he phones his mom to tell her about his first day of NHL hockey. "Hello mom, guess what?" he says in an Iraqi accent. "I played for 10 minutes today, we were 4-0 down, but I scored 5 goals and we won. Everybody loves me, the fans, the media, they all love me."

"Wonderful," says his mom, "Let me tell you about my day. Your father got shot in the street and robbed, your sister and I were ambushed, raped and beaten, and your brother has joined a gang of looters and all while you were having such great time."

The young Iraqi is very upset. "What can I say mom, but I'm so sorry."

"You're Sorry? SORRY!! You should be" says his mom, "It's because of you that we moved to Detroit in the first place!"

The Story of the Bible, Part 2

After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, they began to have children, who had children, and so forth, until there were multitudes of people on the earth. Some of them are described in Genesis 4-5: Cain, who killed his brother Abel; and a genealogy which connects Adam to Noah. As time went on [the genealogies cover a period of over 1600 years] mankind grew increasingly wicked, until God came to Noah, one of the few remaining righteous people, in Genesis 6:

"13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Another 120 years would pass before the Flood, during which Noah preached—unsuccessfully—to the wicked people of his day and built the ark. After no one repented, Noah, his three sons, and their four wives entered the ark and God closed the door. The waters of the Flood covered the entire earth and wiped out every living thing upon the earth. Noah and his family would be in the ark for about a year until the waters receded sufficiently for them to exit the ark and begin a new life. God gave the rainbow as a symbol of His promise that He would not again destroy the earth with a flood (Gen. 9:12-17).

Wickedness, however, would again be seen. Ham shamed his father Noah, who had become drunk, and Ham was cursed (Gen. 9:20-27). The multiplied generations of Noah gathered together, despite God's command to overspread the earth (Gen. 8:17), and built—or rather, began to build—a tower (Gen. 11:1-4). At this time, God "confounded" (Gen. 11:7, KJV) the one language that they spoke, and the race of mankind split up into groups by language, and consequently scattered across the earth.

The Flood is a controversial subject to some. There is, however, bountiful evidence nearly everywhere that water covered the planet at one time, depositing the strata that we study in geology today. The Bible itself makes it clear (Gen. 7:19, 2 Pet. 2:5, and elsewhere) that the Flood was worldwide. Large quantities of useful information written by people more expert than me can be found at and A particularly excellent article about the extent of the Flood can be found here.

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 1

The Bible, as one book, tells one story.
What is that story?

The Bible is a collection of 66 books containing a total of 1189 chapters. At five minutes per chapter, it would take nearly 100 hours to read. But what does it contain? What, overall, is it all about?

This week I wish to summarize the contents of the Bible over several blog posts. The purpose of these is to state what the Bible says about itself. With Easter approaching, it is a good time to contemplate the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, and salvation.

It starts with one of the most famous quotations from the entire Bible: Genesis 1:1.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
God created everything. The opening two chapters of the first book describe how He made all things, inanimate and animate, in six literal days. Everything He created was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). He placed Adam and Eve, the first two humans, over His creation (Gen. 1:28).

Adam and Eve were given one particular command:
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:16-17)
In Genesis 3, we learn that Satan, in the form of a serpent, came to Eve and tempted her to eat this forbidden fruit. She did, and gave it to Adam; he also ate the fruit. This was the first sin, and prompted the following by God:
  • The serpent was cursed (Genesis 3:14).
  • The first prophecy of a Saviour, or Messiah, was given in Genesis 3:15.
  • The physical universe was put under a curse, under which we have to labor to this present day. Crops would not grow of themselves; degeneration began (see the Second Law of Thermodynamics).
  • Death entered the world. This, according to Romans 5:12 and 6:23, was the direct result of the sin of Adam. All of us are now born with a sin nature, and all of us face the prospect of death.
  • Clothing was provided by God, to cover the nakedness and shame of sinful mankind.
These opening chapters of Genesis are exceptionally significant to all of human history, as they provide the framework for everything that comes afterwards. Some of the ramifications:
  • Evolution is debunked. Not only has it never been observed, it will not be observed, nor will any evidence for it every surface...because it never happened. God created it all.
  • Mankind is not able to rescue itself from the consequences of sin. A Savior is needed.
  • God promised a Savior. The Bible is, in large part, the story of how this Savior came to Earth to save mankind.
The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2

Hymn of the Week: Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Palm Sunday has come, the day where we especially remember the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, just days before his crucifixion. On that day, the people were recorded as saying,

And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. (Mark 11:9-10; see also Matt. 21:9 and John 12:13)
Although "Hosanna" is not a word we commonly use today, this is an especially good time to remember Who He was Who came into Jerusalem that day, knowing fully that His time to die for the sins of men was close at hand.

It is also prudent to remember that if Christ had not died and rose again, mankind would be without hope; therefore, we must be grateful for the sacrifice He willingly made for us.

This hymn, like many others, helps us to remember fondly the sacrifice Christ made for us, and to meditate upon the One Who has provided every good thing we enjoy.

The words were originally written in Latin by Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century.

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

O Jesus, King most wonderful
Thou Conqueror renowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable
In Whom all joys are found!

When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,
Thou fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.

Jesus, may all confess Thy Name,
Thy wondrous love adore,
And, seeking Thee, themselves inflame
To seek Thee more and more.

Thee, Jesus, may our voices bless,
Thee may we love alone,
And ever in our lives express
The image of Thine own.

O Jesus, Thou the beauty art
Of angel worlds above;
Thy Name is music to the heart,
Inflaming it with love.

Celestial Sweetness unalloyed,
Who eat Thee hunger still;
Who drink of Thee still feel a void
Which only Thou canst fill.

O most sweet Jesus, hear the sighs
Which unto Thee we send;
To Thee our inmost spirit cries;
To Thee our prayers ascend.

Abide with us, and let Thy light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.

Jesus, our love and joy to Thee,
The virgin’s holy Son,
All might and praise and glory be,
While endless ages run.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wagoner's Gone; What About That UAW Guy?

Jack Hoogendyk, in his insightful Core Principles blog, wrote this about the fact that while Rick Wagoner, who was trying hard to bring GM back to profitability, got fired by the Obama administration; Ron Gettlefinger, the president of United Auto Workers, continues to get to supervise a greedy union whose finances are built on the backs of those same auto workers. An excerpt:

Every UAW officer made in excess of $141,000 in total compensation in 2008. More than 550 employees (over half of the staff making above $10,000 annually) made more than $100,000 in total compensation. Over the course of the year, the union expensed $98,775 on golf courses, another $75,492 at casinos, and over $150,000 at resort conference centers.

The $33 million UAW-owned Black Lake Golf Course came with its own costs. The union spent $23,488 in member dues in a tax assessment dispute regarding property taxes for the course, and $28,000 transporting people to the resort. Unlike years past, the union did not file an auditor’s report revealing how much the course lost in operations.

You can read more here.

Isaiah 12:2-5: Words of Joy

2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Now It's Kathleen Sebelius's Turn...

It's hard to be surprised anymore....even as a professional tax preparer!

This time, Kathleen Sebelius has admitted to errors on her tax return and has repaid over $7000 to the IRS for the past three years. Here is a summary of the statement she submitted:

In her letter to Baucus and Grassley, Sebelius wrote that the accountant [hired to "scrub" her returns] discovered these errors:

--Charitable contributions over $250 are supposed to include an acknowledgment letter from the charity in order for a deduction to be taken. Out of 49 charitable contributions made, three letters couldn't be found.

--Sebelius and her husband took deductions for mortgage interest that they weren't entitled to. The couple sold their home in 2006 for less than what they owed on the mortgage. They continued to make payments on the mortgage, including interest. But since they no longer owned the home they weren't entitled to take deductions for the interest. The same thing happened with a home improvement loan. Sebelius said they "mistakenly believed" the payments were still deductible.

--Insufficient documentation was found for some business expense deductions.

Perhaps she should have hired this new accountant for the first go-around.

Let's take a look at these three matters individually.

(1) As a recognized tax professional myself, if a client comes to me and says, "I made a contribution of [insert dollar amount here] to [insert charity or church here], but I do not have documentation of it," here's what I tell them: "I can only include this on your Schedule A if you have documentation of the gift." I would then inquire if they had (or could get) a canceled check, receipt, or other documentation besides a formal statement. If they said they could, I would include the gift on the return...and remind them that they needed to track down and secure that documentation.

But notice—I take the word of the client in this case, and do as the client instructs.

(2) If a client came to me with a mortgage interest statement [Form 1098] for their own home (which can be lawfully deducted), another for a home they didn't live in, and at least one more for a home equity line of credit, I would be asking some questions. I might not think, however, to ask if the client still owned the home. It is not uncommon for people to own two homes, and mortgage interest can be deducted for one's principal dwelling and one other (assuming other conditions are met).

But again notice—It would be expected that the client would share the relevant facts with the tax preparer.

(3) This is a no-brainer. No document, no deduct. While I might include a deduction on a Schedule C if the client did not physically show me receipts, I would be doing it on the client's word that the documentation exists.

And at the end of the interview with the client, I would tactfully emphasize the importance of proper documentation of all these things, and remind the client that these documents (which you tell me you have) need to be kept in the event the client is audited.

Or nominated to an Obama cabinet post.