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Suicide knows no boundaries. There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Many people at some point in their lives think or talk about suicide, but come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. People having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel that their life is out of control.

Research suggests that the majority of people who attempt suicide literally do something to let others know their intentions before they act. These warning signs consist of personal behaviors, verbal and non-verbal communications, and include but are not limited to the following:

Changes in personality: sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive and apathetic. 

Changes in behavior: can’t concentrate on school, work or routine tasks.

Changes in sleep pattern: bedridden, constant fatigue, insomnia and frequent nightmares.

Changes in eating habits: loss of appetite and weight or overeating.

Loss of interest in friends, hobbies or other activities previously enjoyed.

Anxiety about money, personal health and other illnesses, either real or imagined.

Fear of losing control, going crazy or harming self or others.

Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem.

Feelings of overwhelming guilt, shame, self-hatred and no hope for the future.

Drug and alcohol related problems or abuse.

Loss of religious or spiritual faith or in other personal beliefs or philosophies.

The giving away of prized possessions.

Previous suicide attempts. 

Talks about committing suicide.

Talks about putting together a will. 

Most depressions contain some element of grief and/or recent losses tied to death, divorce, separation, broken relationships, personal status, etc. Watch for statements like “nobody cares”, “everyone will be better off without me”, and “I wish I were dead”. Mental and emotional illnesses such as bi-polar disorders are often tied to suicidal feelings. Many suicides occur in the winter months or after the holidays. Some professionals claim being trapped inside and the grayness of the outdoors during the winter months can lead to winter blues and depression, while others claim the after holiday blues and incoming bills can lead to depression as well.

Most people can be helped in getting through their moment of crisis if they have someone who will spend time with them and take them seriously and help them talk about their thoughts and feelings. If you are someone you know is going through tough times and are depressed or contemplating suicide, there are programs and places available to help. Please remember, “You’ve got a Friend”. 

For further assistance please contact your local law enforcement agency, the 24 hour Crisis Center at 244-7444 or the Hope Line at 1-800-SUICIDE. 

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Posted by on in Religion

We all have heard the phrase, “turn over a new leaf” especially as we are in a brand new year.  When someone says this they are indicating their desire to make changes within themselves or in the way they live and conduct their life.  Very often when they say this they will tag it with a “New Year’s Resolution” declaring their intent and resolve to see the changes through.

Recently I was talking with some of the members of the church and one of them said that they did not want to make any more New Year’s Resolutions but wanted a New Year’s Revolution!  In saying this they were telling me they did not want to repeat the intentions of resolutions past only to come short of it, but needed and wanted a revolution- sudden, radical or complete change that would enhance their life and cause them to be different after giving themselves to this than they were before.  As they were speaking this to me it really captured my attention and caused me to think of how we all could use some revolution in our lives in one way or another.

What better revolution could anyone ask for in their life than for the rising up of Jesus Christ and the Word of God being our guide, our pattern, our very foundation as we enter into a new year.

II Corinthians 3:18 from the KJV reads,” But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  This verse is telling us that the more we behold the Lord, the more we look into His Word and the more we make the decision to let His Word be our revolution and not some resolution that we think of for just a few days at the most.  But we allow God’s Word to light our lives and cause a lasting change to be apparent, then we will have a revolution and we will be different.

As I close, let me encourage any who are reading this.  If you are a child of God or if you have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into your life, let’s all turn over a new leaf and allow Jesus to be the revolution that lights our life and causes 2013 to be the best year we have ever experienced!  God bless you all. 

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Posted by on in Religion

Many of us have experienced a mess of Christmas proportions.  A Christmas event that was planned with good intentions goes awry and becomes a disaster that we laugh about later.  Whether it is a Christmas tree on the interstate or a dog that ate the turkey, Christmas has a way of amplifying our emotions, magnifying our feelings, and making mishaps feel like big catastrophes.  

Some Christmas messes are nothing to laugh about.  Tension in the family becomes Christmas day arguments.  Financial stress comes to a head in the face of Christmas gift pressures.  Christmas can be filled with magic and wonder and delight, but it can also bring some messes of its own. 

In the first Christmas story, Joseph finds himself with a big mess on his hands.  He learns that his fiancé is pregnant and he knows that the baby is not his.  Joseph lives in a culture where at best this could mean public disgrace for his beloved fiancé and it worst it could mean her death.  

Mary tries to explain, “I was visited by an angel, he said I was highly favored, he said the baby would be the Son of God”, but I’m guessing Joseph’s ears stopped working when he heard “I’m pregnant.”  He is looking at a mess, a disaster, and it is no laughing matter.  

Joseph returns home and makes a plan.  Lesser men would have left her to what was coming to her, but Joseph makes a plan to get himself out of this marriage with every hope of protecting Mary’s dignity and life. 

But when he falls asleep that night,  “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1.20-21

Joseph learns what I think is a very important Christmas lesson. One that we should take note of when we see the messes and disasters in our lives.  The lesson is this:  Often we make a plan for our lives only to find out that God has an even better one in mind!

Joseph had made the best plan he could muster in the face of the mess that had been given him.  God had an even better plan for him.

Amazingly, Joseph gets up the next morning and does just what was outlined for him in God’s plan.  He takes Mary home as his wife.  Because Joseph was open to and listened to God’s word in his life he was ushered into the story of God saving His people from their sins.  

It is easy in the busyness and activity of the Christmas season to pretend that everything is ok, when it’s not; to pretend that everything is nice and neat in our lives when really we have some messes that need attention.  The Christmas story invites us not to hide these things from God but to bring our plans to God and be open to the new and better one He has for our lives.  

As you make plans for this Christmas, I encourage you to be open to and listen to what God has to say to you.  You just might find that He has for you an even better plan than you ever imagined.

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With the holiday season upon us, we should take advantage of and use any and all extra crime prevention, safety and security measures available to prevent becoming the victim of a crime. One such measure is to be on the look out for drunk drivers. The number of drunk or drinking drivers increases around the holiday season.

If one intends on drinking they should plan ahead and get a ride to and from an event. If for some reason you end up drinking and didn’t plan on doing so, simply either stay where you are and call either a friend, family member or a taxi cab to carry you home. Taking these measures will save you money, accidents, injuries, jail time and even your life.

Another measure to take is to use common sense. During the holiday season, thieves and burglars scope out local subdivisions and parking lots looking for Christmas gifts stored in automobiles. When shopping or storing gifts in your vehicle, always either cover the gifts or store them out of sight or in the trunk of your vehicle. Never leave gifts in your vehicle over night, unless locked away and out of sight.

Another thing to consider is the day after Christmas. Drive through any subdivision or community the day after Christmas and you’ll notice lots of empty boxes at the curb of people’s yards and driveways. These boxes usually have things like 27-inch color television, hi-fi stereo and sound system or any other expensive brand name you can think of on the box.

This is a bad practice that should be avoided if at all possible. This practice simply advertises to any thief or burglar that you just received more valuables for him or her to steal. If you have boxes the day after Christmas, simply break down the boxes and place them in trash bags. This may seem like quite a bit of work, but it is well worth the effort.

In closing, don’t make burglarizing your home or automobile easy for a thief or burglar. Who knows, maybe if we make it tough enough on them they’ll actually get jobs and buy the gifts themselves, like the rest of us.

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Posted by on in Religion

Included in the Christmas story is the story of redemption and restoration. In the lineage of Joseph, there was an ancestor named Jeconiah, who was the king of Judah. He reigned three months, and the Scripture tells us “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Exactly what his sin was is not specified, but it attracted the wrath of God. He was disqualified from sitting on the throne of David and his line of ancestors would be included in this curse as well. Jeremiah 22:30 says “…none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.” Zedekiah, Jeconiah’s uncle, was the last king of Judah, but Jeconiah was the last legitimate king to occupy the throne of Judah. Zedekiah’s son’s all died, and there was no one left to assume the role of kingship since Jeconiah’s entire lineage had been disqualified, along with him.

Imagine what it must have been like to live with this your whole life. Your family history is recorded in the sacred scrolls and every time they are read, you are reminded that you are part of a cursed family. Could you enjoy gathering in the synagogue or temple, knowing that at some point great(X9)-grandfather Jeconiah’s name would be mentioned as the one who caused the whole family to be disregarded and disqualified from occupying the throne of David? Maybe this is why Joseph was so sensitive about not causing shame to be cast upon Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. Perhaps he had sworn his entire life that he would not be responsible for the disparaging of another family or family name. How many times he must have thought or even cried out, “How might this be corrected?” Albert Barnes in his commentary on Matthew makes this statement – “From a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is ‘Yahweh is righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).” Consider the irony that born into the household of this representative of a cursed family line is God Himself! This is a large statement by the Lord as to redemption and restoration. Here is this man who thought he would certainly die with a cursed genealogy in his wake. But God in His marvelous mercy had other plans.

Having become a legal member of the household of Joseph, Jesus was now a part of the lineage of Jeconiah; although not by birth. The Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary says it this way. “Though Messiah, the heir of David’s throne, was lineally descended from Jeconiah, it was only through Joseph, who, though his legal, was not his real (biological) father. Matthew gives the legal pedigree through Solomon down to Joseph; Luke gives the real pedigree, from Mary, the real parent, through Nathan, the brother of Solomon, upwards.”

Here are the facts. Jesus had to be a LINEAL descendant of David, in order to fulfill God’s promise to David – that his seed would sit upon his throne. He also had to be the LEGAL son of Joseph in order to inherit the right to sit upon the throne of David. Yet, He could not be the PHYSICAL son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jeconiah. Honor was thus restored to Joseph’s lineage through God’s favor in giving him the stewardship as Jesus’ earthly father. Isn’t God smart? Understanding this makes the virgin birth a necessary part of the Christmas story. This is ultimate restoration and redemption in its purest form. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Posted by on in Reflections From An Old Friend

As with any community, the importance of its citizens spending their hard earned tax dollars locally is vitally important to the community’s economy and its citizens. With Mt. Juliet’s rapid growth and new businesses literally opening daily we’re starting to see an even greater need to spend our tax dollars locally. For example, Mt. Juliet businesses depend upon our tax dollars for survival. They make huge investments in our local community in an attempt to provide a service or convenience and desperately need and deserve our support.  Our schools, businesses, roads and many other services depend on the local economy for survival. When a business sets up shop in Mt. Juliet their goal is to provide services and conveniences to local citizens. In return, the local economy gets a boosts from the additional revenue generated locally and a trickle down effect occurs. Without local businesses providing these much needed services citizens are forced to call on vendors in other cities and towns. As a result, these vendors have to drive and ship their merchandise further and that cost is passed on to the customer/consumer. Unfortunately, money spent in other cities and counties benefits that community and not ours.

Therefore, I would like for each citizen to make every effort possible to spend your tax dollars locally. I totally understand that Mt. Juliet doesn’t currently, nor will it ever be able to offer every available service or convenience, but I would like for everyone to please patronize the businesses and services we have. In other words, if we have a business that offers something we need, we should make every effort to patronize that business and not a business outside our community. What is spent here benefits here, what is spent elsewhere benefits that community. For example, if you know that you need gasoline, try and plan your gas purchases locally, if you need groceries, buy them locally and so on. The more we spend locally the better off our community will be.

In a nut shell, if you can buy it at home and support our local businesses, then please do so. Current businesses, services and products not currently located in Mt. Juliet are much more likely to locate here if they see that our citizens support and patronize their local businesses. Our community and its businesses depend upon your support and patronage.

In closing, please buy and shop locally. Its money well spent and will benefit us and our community!

Kenny Martin 

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

The Bible declares that the just are to live by faith.  Every person who professes Christ as Lord and Savior has a mandate from the Scriptures to live in this manner.  Jesus said in Mark 11:22, “… to have faith in God.”  Another translation of this verse says to “have the God kind of faith.”  Romans 12:3 reads, “…according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  Romans 10:17, Ephesians 2:8 and II Corinthians 4:13 all tell us this same thing and that is this; the faith we are to live by comes to us from God.  The scripture in Ephesians says it is the gift of God.  So we could say it this way, “every believer has a measure of the God kind of faith.”  We don’t have to hope we could have it.  We don’t have to work to obtain it.  We do not even have to pray to God to give this to us.  No, the Bible plainly says we have this as we have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  From there it is up to each person as to what they do with this measure.

As we said at the beginning, we are to live by this faith.  So often Christians do not understand that for a person to live by faith, it is necessary that our faith be strong and in good working order.  For this to happen we must read the Word of God and feed our spirits every day so that faith can grow.  As we do this, the measure God has given to us will continue to increase as we walk with Him.

Let me encourage you today.  Get into the Word of God and feed your spirit.  As you do this you are feeding your faith and your measure will increase and grow as you mature in the Lord.  

Next month we will continue to look at this topic.  We will look at the example of Abraham and how his faith grew.  He came to the place of being fully persuaded that what God had said to him, He was able to bring it to pass!

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Posted by on in Reflections From An Old Friend

With yet another great year of retail and business growth in our great city, Mt. Juliet has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Mt. Juliet is quickly becoming a full service city with every service and convenience imaginable.

Not only do we have many more businesses, but we now have multiple choices when it comes to our needs, which we all now is better for the customer. In other words, competition is good for the customer and business owner as well. Over the past year Mt. Juliet has welcomed many new businesses to our great city. When you combine those new businesses with our existing business base, it’s easy to see why Mt. Juliet is now a force to be reckoned with.

I’d also like state how much we appreciate our business community and business owners. With that being said, I can’t over state the importance of buying, shopping and patronizing all of our local businesses first. When we choose Mt. Juliet First we not only support our local businesses community, but we also support our community as a whole. The dollars we spend locally stay in our community. The dollars we spend in other counties and communities support that community and not ours. 

Our business community needs and deserves our support. Their continued wellbeing and existence depends upon our support and patronage. In other words, in order to have business convenience, we must have consumer and customer patronage.

And if the 2012 business year is any indication of what 2013 will be like, then we are in for our best year yet. Many projects like the Paddocks Development, Mt. Juliet Towne Centre, Graves Crossing, Providence Central, Providence West, Mt. Juliet Village, Bel-Air at Beckwith and many, many more businesses will begin to blossom.

So please support your community by supporting your Mt. Juliet business community first.

Kenny Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

The human body is a wondrous creation of God.  In an amazing fashion each part of the body has been designed by the Creator to function with all the other parts of the body to give us life.  When you think of all the many parts of the body and their importance, it is difficult to label any one the most important.  

But one part of the body that is especially important is the hands.  It is difficult to overestimate their importance.  We do almost everything with our hands.  But as important as our hands are, the most important set of hands belong to God!

You may ask:  “God has hands?”  Psalm 89:13 says, “Strong is Your (God’s) hand, and high is Your right hand.”  Joshua 4:24 says, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”  Yes, God is a spirit, but He describes Himself in human terms for our benefit, so that we can understand Him better.  On many occasions, the Bible describes the importance of the hands of God. 

His hands are the sustainer of all life.  Job 12:10 says, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind”.  The only reason you live today is because God is sustaining you.

His hands are the source of all blessings. Psalms 145:16 says, “You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  Every blessing you enjoy comes from God.

His hands are the source of all judgment.  Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Do not take lightly the reality that you will be judged by the perfect judge.

His hands are the seat of all righteousness. Psalm 48:10 says, “Your right hand is full of righteousness.”  Your greatest need is not money, power or comfort.  Your greatest need is righteousness.

His hands are the security of all of His people. Jesus said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  You do not have to live in fear. Neither disease, affliction, tragedy nor even death itself can pry you out of His hands.

There was a time when my children were not too proud to grab hold of their father’s hand.  I understand why they don’t do it now.  But you should never be too proud to grab hold of the Father’s hand.  

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Most law enforcement agencies across the country see increases in domestic violence calls around the holiday season. As we all know, the holidays are supposed to be joyous times spent with family and friends. However, for some the holidays are filled with heartache, resentment, sorrow and guilt.

This unfortunate occurrence leaves many families and friends torn apart and traumatized from the event. Reasons for the increase in domestic violence calls can be attributed to the financial burdens placed on many families when the bills begin to roll in after Christmas. Other factors include the natural depression that sets in from the lack of sunlight during the winter months. The winter months seem to contain many more rainy, snowy or otherwise cloudy days than do the summer months. The lack of outside activities and natural sunlight can lead to depression, frustration, boredom and arguments from simply being cooped up in the same house and around each other longer than usual. Another major contributing factor in domestic violence incidents is alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a natural depressant and its consumption usually tends to increase around the holidays. 

Many families unknowingly place themselves in bad situations around the holidays by spending too much money on Christmas. The joy of Christmas and Christmas shopping can cause a roller coaster of emotions once Christmas has passed and the bills begin to roll in. The shock of opening the bills long after the joy of Christmas has passed can lead to resentment, frustration, arguments and domestics. The holidays are meant to be filled with love, peace and harmony, not fights, ill will and torn apart lives. Even the best of relationships can become strained around the holidays, so please be patient, forgiving and loving.

In closing, if you are the victim of domestic violence are need help with domestic violence issues, please contact your Mt. Juliet Police Department for assistance at 754-2550  

Kenny Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

One of the most famous stories in the Bible, if we judge that by how often it is referred to or replicated, is the story of Moses in the wilderness and his encounter with the Burning Bush.   Moses escapes from Egypt to save his life and the once Prince of Egypt takes up a new occupation as a common shepherd.  God meets him in the wilderness in the form of a burning bush and says, “I’m going to use you to release my people from slavery.”  Moses gives God every good reason why God must be mistaken, but God seems pretty convinced that He really does want to use Moses.  Finally Moses agrees to go, but he asks this question, “What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?”

God answers Moses question with another question, “What is that in your hand?”

Moses holds in his hand his staff.  It is a long piece of wood that he uses to tend his flocks; the sign of his profession and a reminder that he is no longer a prince.  Moses must have seen his staff as a reminder that he ran away, a symbol that he was nothing now.  God says, “I’ll use that.”

Moses walks back to Egypt to talk to an unruly tyrant king with the commission from a God the Pharaoh doesn’t even believe in to let his slaves go free.  Moses walks into town dressed like a shepherd, with the dust of his trek in his beard, holding a staff which says I am a nomadic shepherd man.  

God says I’m going use the staff, use your normalness in an abnormal way; I’m going to work extraordinary through your ordinary, wonders through your commonplace. 

God wants to use you.  He wants to use so that others can know His message of setting people free.  Yet, so often we look at our own normalness and think we could never be used by God.  In fact, God wants to use that which is in your hand, your profession, your possessions, even your past for his wonders. 

What’s in your hand?  

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Posted by on in Reflections From An Old Friend

Have you really ever thought about how short our time on earth really is? It seems like we can just snap our fingers and ten years have past us by. Life just seems to be moving at such a rapid pace these days which should encourage each of us to live life to the very fullest. For example, so much of our lifetimes are spent on work and worry and not near enough time on family, fun and friends. 

Think about it, even when we’re with family and friends we’re talking about work and worry. It’s like we can’t get work and worry out of our minds long enough to relax, rest, re-energize and enjoy a moments peace. As you can imagine, this can cause major stress and anxiety which can eventually cause major problems in any family’s relationship.

With all this in mind, I’d like to encourage everyone to take along hard look at your life to see if you’re spending enough quality time with the ones that you love. Not to be morbid or a stick in the mud, but none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I want you to really, really think about your family and all the people you love. Now I want you to picture their faces, voices, mannerisms and smiles. Can you imagine never getting another chance to speak with them, visit with them or even touch them again? Pretty sad isn’t it? 

Well, life doesn’t have to be like that. Our lifetimes here on earth aren’t that long. Think about it, how many of us have said it seems just like yesterday when I graduated from high school, got married or had our first child? And before you know it your children are grown, you have grandchildren, you’ve been married fifty years and are retired and don’t know where your life has gone. You find yourself saying, where did all the years and wasted opportunities go?

In closing, don’t waste a single moment speaking or visiting with the ones you love for we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Our lives are much to short to have regrets for not living and loving to the very fullest we could have in our lifetime. Pick up the phone and call someone you love each and every day. They’d love to hear from you!  

  

Kenneth Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

It is possible that often the Christian has been portrayed as a weakened and emaciated person, which translates the Christian faith into a crutch. Jesus said “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness, rather than being defined as weakness, is the result of God’s working in us to cause us to accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting. Meekness echoes an old television show entitled “Father Knows Best.”

The meaning of “meekness” is not readily expressed in the English language, because when we see the words meekness, mildness, etc., weakness is usually what we envision. This may be why Christians are often described as weak and feeble and in need of a God because we are useless and helpless. Well, there is some truth to the fact that all mankind is in need of a Savior and without Him we are helpless. But, often what happens is that after we have been born again and empowered by God’s Spirit, we are still viewed as weak and feeble.

The common assumption is that when a person is meek it is because they cannot help themselves; but the Lord Jesus was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God the Father at His command. Jesus was anything but weak.

The word picture for “meekness” is a word that is used in ancient Greek to refer to a medicine that calmed and soothed the spirit. It also spoke of a gentle breeze and a colt that had been broken and tamed--whose power and energy could now be channeled for useful purposes

We see the same concept in the aforementioned usage of the word in reference to a horse. As long as the colt runs wild and free, its power is out of control and it serves no useful purpose to man. But when its power is brought under control, it can be used for helpful purposes.

This is the accurate picture of meekness…God reins in our strength which is now submitted to His will and purpose, and we become useful citizens of His kingdom. Our real strength comes from the grace that God works in our soul. And maybe we can communicate that rather than Christians being weak and feeble, we are actually people who have taken our strength and laid it at the feet of Jesus to be used by Him, rather than resisting Him.

In summation, to properly understand meekness – the following statement will help us have a proper view of the subject. Meekness is strength under discipline.

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Posted by on in Reflections From An Old Friend

Well, it’s Halloween time again. With that in mind, I would like to encourage everyone to have a safe and happy Halloween. Below is a list of preventive steps I’ve prepared for the citizens. These are tips you may find helpful in making your Halloween a safe and fun adventure for all involved.  

1. Prepare ahead of time the route and location of your trick or treating

2. Only trick or treat in areas and locations you are familiar with

3. Make sure the costume you are your child wears, has large eye and mouth openings. This will assure that you and your child can see and breath clearly

4. Make sure the costume can be seen at night. For better visibility, attach reflective material to the costume itself

5. Purchase a flashlight for guiding your way around obstacles and better visibility

6. Walk up to houses using driveways and sidewalks to avoid unseen obstacles and tripping. When having to walk through yards, make sure to watch for clothes lines, dogs, small trees, low lying limbs, potholes and other obstacles

7. Never trick or treat alone. Always walk and stay with a parent, guardian or friend

8. Upon receiving treats, never consume the treats until they have been properly and carefully examined by an adult, parent or guardian. Criminals have been known to place needles, small nails, razor blades and other toxic substances in or on candy and other treats.

9. Another option is to contact your local hospital to see if they are offering free treat x-rays and examinations on Halloween night

10. Other popular alternatives to trick or treating are Halloween Parties and Church Trunk or Treat Functions.

 In closing, let’s all have a fun, safe and happy Halloween, especially the kids!    

Kenneth Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

In Mark the 4th chapter, Jesus is teaching his disciples on the parable of the sower.  In this parable Jesus speaks of four types of ground and the fruit or lack of fruit that is produced in each one and in verse 9 he says something that is very interesting.  “And he said to them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” NKJV  He spoke this to them indicating their need to hear or listen with the intent of examining their own selves to evaluate the condition of their “ground”.  In other words they were to check the condition of their hearts and their receptiveness to receive the Word of God.  He did this because Luke 8: 11 tells us that “…the seed is the Word of God” and the type of ground one plants seed in can make all the difference as to the amount of harvest that is brought forth.

Jesus speaks in the parable of wayside, stony, thorny and good ground and of these four only the good ground produced fruit and that at 30, 60 or 100 fold.  On the wayside ground the enemy comes and snatches away the Word that was sown.  When the seed is pulled from the ground that it was planted in, of course, no fruit will ever be produced.  On the stony ground the Word was received with gladness but when trouble arises because of the Word, these are offended the harvest is lost.  On the thorny ground the Word is received and fruit begins to be produced but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lust for other things enter in and it chokes the Word and no fruit is brought to maturity.  But on the good ground, the Word of God is received and out of an honest and good heart they hear the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience and now the harvest is able to come 30, 60 and even 100 times over what was sown.  Praise God!  

In closing let me ask this question.  What kind of ground are we?  Is my heart open to receive God’s Word and let the seed of the Word go down into the soil of my heart and produce all that God has placed within the seed.  My prayer is that we all examine ourselves so that we would be good ground producing much fruit! 

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With auto accidents involving deer rising daily, I thought this would be a great time to remind all citizens to take extra caution this time of year. Did you know that each year there are approximately 500,000 deer/auto collisions resulting in over 100 deaths and thousands of injuries? With Wilson County’s growth and the urban sprawl, the deer population is being forced out of the woods and into our neighborhoods and on our roadways. Deer are most likely to come out between the months of October thru January, but are apt to come out at anytime of the year. Deer also tend to come out between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. or early in the morning hours. 

According to statistics, automobiles make up 61 percent of the animal/deer related crashes, trucks 26 percent, vans 7 percent and tractor trailers 2 percent. But keep in mind, those are only statistics. 

The following are defensive driving tips for avoiding deer/animal collisions:

1. Be vigilant in the early morning hours, the most active time for deer.

2. Use your high-beam headlights, which reflect in the deer’s eyes, to see the deer better.

3. Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.

4. Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. Do not swerve. It can confuse the deer about which way to run. It can also cause you to lose control and crash.

5. Be alert and aware at all times. Drive with caution.

6. Always wear your seat belt. Most people killed or injured in deer/animal collisions weren’t wearing seat belts.

7. Look for other deer after one has crossed the road. Deer seldom run alone.

8. Be prepared for anything at anytime and anywhere!

In closing, our roadways can be a very dangerous place to travel in the first place and any unexpected obstacles only make the process that more dangerous. So please buckle up, slow down and drive safely. We can’t afford to lose any of our most precious cargo.

Kenneth Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

Every time Jesus spoke, He spoke the truth, but the truth is not always easy to handle.  There is probably no saying of Jesus harder for us to handle than the one found in Luke 6:27-28: “But I say to you who hear:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

The ways that we naturally want to handle these people are reflected in the following bumper stickers:

Do unto others before they can do unto you.

I don’t get mad, I get even.

Keep honking, I’m reloading.

To err is human, to forgive is out of the question.

You cannot avoid difficult people who mistreat you, speak evil about you, or do you harm.  (By the way, before you start making your mental list, you should know that you are probably that difficult person for someone else, whether real or perceived.)

The reality for true followers of Christ is that we must operate under a set of values opposite that of the norm.  Jesus does not say to just refrain from hating them, to just put up with them, or to just ignore them.  He says to “love” them.  Not love them passively but actively.  So how do we practically show love to our enemies?  

Jesus said to “do good” to them.  That may mean mowing their lawn when they are out of town or cooking a meal for them when they are sick.  You may say, “They never did anything but harm toward me, why should I do good to them.”  Because God did good to you even when all you did was bring harm to His name.

He also says to “bless them” or speak well of them or wish them well.  We are not to just keep our mouth shut when we want to say something against them in retaliation, but to actually speak words of encouragement and hope to and about them.  We may not agree with what they have done or said, but we actually want God to bless them and do a great work in their lives that will lead to Him being glorified through them.    

We are to “pray for them”.  Despite their belligerence, you have a real concern for their soul.  Jesus modeled this on the cross when He said about those crucifying Him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, (Luke 23:34).  

How could I ever do any of this?  This is impossible!  Yes, it is when your efforts arise from your own strength.  But Jesus modeled this for you and it is only possible by God doing a great work in your heart.  Admit your weakness and desperately seek the power of God to transform you into someone like Jesus, who loved you even when you were an enemy of His!

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In a perfect world with only honest people we wouldn’t have to worry about this, but since we do have criminals to deal with, I felt it appropriate to advise all residents, especially our seniors, about scam artists. Many, low income elderly Americans are targeted by scam artists who use high pressure tactics to sell unneeded and overpriced home improvements. These scam artists target the elderly because of their trusting nature.

Often these scams bilk our senior citizens out of life savings, leaving them unable to pay their own bills. And with a majority of our seniors on fixed incomes, this is something we must make every effort at stopping. In an effort to fight such scams, The Mt. Juliet Police Department recommends the following crime prevention measures.

There are several basic steps one can take which can prevent a problem from arising:

Never deal with any door-to-door salesman, contractors or buy repairs advertised on TV. Deal with local trades people recommended by friends or reputable businesses.

Before agreeing to hire any home improvement contractor, get a second estimate for the same work from another contractor.

Get a written contract or estimate describing the work, the price, the materials, the responsibility for cleaning up, and the hourly rate for any additional work.

Get references for the contractor and speak to those references. Ask about satisfaction and any problems that arose. Call the local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. 

Take a look at other work performed by the same contractor.

If problems have developed with a contractor’s work, seniors should immediately take steps to protect their interests, such as:

Obtain an estimate from a professional detailing how much damage was done by the contractor, and the value of what services were rendered.

Take detailed pictures of the work or damage left by the contractor and date them. These photos can be used in court to show the nature and extent of the problem.

Hire an expert (architect, reputable contractor, etc.) to look at the work for quality and compliance with specifications. The expert can also provide an estimate regarding the fairness of the price for work completed, the extent of physical damage, and its cost to repair.

Call your local law enforcement agency and report the incident.

We must do all we can to protect our seniors. These are the fine people that protected us all our lives, now it’s time for us to step up to the plate and protect them. There will be further scam protection articles in weeks to come. In the meantime, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. 

Kenneth Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Reflections From An Old Friend

I got an idea once from a local church pastor. He discussed a program called RAK. The program encouraged church members and citizens to commit random acts of kindness. Think about it, when was the last time someone did something nice for you when you least expected it? 

Random acts of kindness can come in many forms. You can hold the door open for someone, buy someone lunch, help a senior citizen with yard maintenance, say have a good day to someone or just do anything nice. As we all know, the last thing most people expect to happen for no reason is something nice. Not that it doesn’t happen every once and a while, but probably not as often as we would like.

Simply saying have a great day can have a major affect on most people on a given day. Now just imagine doing something way outside the box like telling the restaurant manager how good your waitress or waiter was or sending a nice complimentary letter to the company headquarters. There are many opportunities for participating in random acts of kindness. You can visit your local nursing home, a sick friend in the hospital, the children’s hospital or just do anything nice for no reason.

Trust me, it’s addictive. Once you’ve done it once you can’t stop and that’s the purpose. If we can convince more people to perform random acts of kindness, then the world and communities we live in can and will be a better place to live. Niceness comes in many forms, some expected and some unexpected. Either way, kindness is kindness and most of us appreciate and enjoy kindness. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say, please quit being so kind and nice to me, it’s starting to get on my nerves, it just doesn’t happen.

Anyway, random acts of kindness can be given and received by anyone, especially family and friends. But to those that aren’t expecting it, it’s an awesome feeling and sight to behold. Random acts of kindness works both ways for the giver, it brings joy and happiness for the receiver and joy, happiness and fulfillment for the giver.

In closing, it never hurts to be kind, courteous, respectful, nice and sincere. We could all benefit from Random Acts of Kindness.

Kenneth Martin

754-2552

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Posted by on in Religion

Hebrews chapter 12 gives us the encouragement to lay aside the thing that weights us down and causes us to stray from a life of holiness and purity in Christ. It continues by admonishing us to “run this race” with the endurance that finishes well. The writer of the letter then makes this statement - “...looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith...” One translator renders this “gaze upon Jesus...”

It is true, as Christians we are daily faced with temptations and pressures to compromise our values and principles. Whether it be in the print or electronic media, influences in the workplace, or maybe in our place of recreation or exercise, the opportunity is there to sacrifice our integrity. Our integrity is that which enables us to properly integrate with the Lord Jesus.

If that is violated, we dilute our fellowship with Him and the result is a reduced quality of life (hopefully only temporarily).

The word in this passage for “looking unto” in the original text really means “looking away from something in order to fix one’s gaze on one object.”

The assumed posture is important for us to grasp if we are to lead a successful Christian life. Not only do we turn our gaze upon the Messiah and view Him in all His majesty; we make a conscience decision to look away from all the voices and allurements that would cause us to do those things we might regret later.

I think it is important for us to remember Who it was that actually made us and gave us life. The creator of something is most likely the best party to consult when that “something” is malfunctioning. The one that made it has the best insight as to how it will operate at an optimum and how to correct the course when departed from. It is no different with us. Our Creator fashioned us and gave us instructions as to how can live the optimal life as His children. He knows what it best for us and He knows the lifestyles that will cause us heartache, and sometimes, even ill health. He doesn’t instruct us to avoid adultery, drunkenness, etc., because He is a grumpy God and never wants us to have any fun. It is because He understands better than we do the detriment these modes of behavior will have on our lives.

So, what is it that might be your Achilles heel? Is there some issue that you struggle with in your daily walk with Christ? Examine your gaze. Turn your focus and gaze away from the sin that might easily entangle you and fix it upon the Author of your faith.

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