FMG.0004 The Question For Christians

This blog is about preserving some family history and to do what mentoring I can for you kids. It’s not a journal of my daily life, but sometimes there are times to reflect that align with those goals.

These past couple of weeks was one of those times.

We started with our typical monthly trip to visit Becky’s mom in Sugar Land. That’s a 650 mile round trip by itself. We had a side trip to Crockett which added about 350 miles. Becky had Friday off, so we decided to take a day trip to Laredo (since we’d never been there) adding over 300 miles to our driving week. Over 1300 miles in a week was a lot of driving – even when I was young.

There is so much news happening. I’m watching the acceleration of the financial collapse – for you that will be history when you read this. I’m also seeing information about the real science and politics of our viral problem reach the mainstream.

I’m also adjusting to two recent deaths of people I knew. The first I found out about was Russ Dizdar. I shared the stage with this man at a couple of Hear The Watchmen conferences. He was a true spiritual warrior and I’ll try to find one of his presentations to share with you. The other death was that of Rob Skiba. I met him at the 2012 prophecy summit in Branson and he was one of my favorite speakers there.

We also have Becky scheduled for surgery soon where they’ll remove at least half her thyroid. If cancer is found they’ll remove the other half. Other than the usual risks from surgery, the worst case is that she’ll have to be on thyroid hormone the rest of her life.

Becky lost her father on October 11th last year. We spent the weekend with her mom and on Sunday (the 10th) we made the trip to Crockett to visit his grave for the first time since the funeral.

Becky’s dad had been a part of my life for 30 years. My dad died when I was 13 during the Fall 1970 semester of 8th grade (my last year of Junior High at Crockett JHS in Beaumont). Since my memories start from when I was 3, I had three times the time with Becky’s father than I did my own.

That got me thinking about that first year without my dad.

I’d become a teenager in 1970. Just days before my birthday was when the Apollo 13 disaster happened, and I’d been a space junkie since the beginning of the manned space program when I was a little boy.

Days after my birthday on the 29th is when my mother lost her father. We weren’t real close as he’d left my grandmother when my mom was 5, but he was the only grandfather I had the opportunity to know.

Seven months later on November 29th is when my dad died. Being 13 seemed a really unlucky year for me.

I’d been going to a Baptist church a block from our house on Franklin. It was probably about Easter 1971 when I accepted the invitation and was baptized. Two or three months later I remember being in the church office where they said I had to be baptized again because they didn’t have record of the first time.

That changed my view of baptism from being something special to just being paperwork for the church office. I still can’t view baptism as being something special because of that experience from 50 years ago.

Being an INTJ type, that would likely be the starting point of a journey which we’ll talk about in a number of posts. Even as a young boy I would see differences in what the Bible said vs. what churches were teaching.

That fall (1971) started my freshman year at Beaumont High. My mom and I just had each other in Beaumont. Our nearest relatives on both sides of the family were 800 miles away in the Kansas City area.

I became quite active in extracurricular activities and that discussion will take at least a post by itself. It would have been nice to have had a mentor back then. There was so much I had to learn on my own. I hope you found this blog by your 20s or 30s and can take advantage of what took me until my 50s and 60s to learn.

Last time I said we’d talk about the most important question – especially for a Christian.

It’s important to ask the right question – and to find the best answer. When I was working on my MBA, we had a case study where the Board of Directors for Greyhound bus had a meeting back in the early 1960s. They asked the question – what business are we in? They answered – we’re in the bussing business and were likely pleased with themselves.

Bus and train travel were the primary means of transportation long distance if you didn’t want to or couldn’t drive yourself. The airlines were starting to take off (some pun intended). Had they answered the question – we’re in the business of transporting people to where they want to go, then maybe they would have experienced tremendous growth and we’d have had Greyhound Airlines.

We like to ask the question – do you know Jesus?

The really important question is – does Jesus know you?

This comes from a part of Matthew 7 that had given me trouble for decades until I got Bible software for my computer in the late 1990s and was able to see beyond the English words. I’ll share the section from the KJV to avoid copyright issues.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I found it confusing because the NT says we are to do these things – prophesy, exorcism, healing, and the like. They were doing these things in Jesus’ name and yet he said that they were workers of iniquity.

When looking beyond the English translation, the word iniquity become lawlessness – of course that being God’s law.

We see this often in our modern churches. Some teach that the Law was done away with. Some twist the Law to suit their desires. Some teachings are absolutely the opposite of God’s desires. At least the workers of iniquity were at least doing works. With occasional exceptions, all I see from today’s churches is lip service (much as it was in Jesus’ time).

Does Jesus know you? That may be the most uncomfortable question you ask yourself.

Next time we’ll talk about the 2007 speech that changed the course of my life.

FMG.0003 The Two Questions

Today happens to be Ashley’s 16th birthday – my first grandchild. Last time I saw her she was 9.

I was glad to hit my 16th as that’s when I got my regular drivers license. I’d had a hardship license for 4 months before that which allowed me to drive to school (Beaumont High), work (Baskin Robbins), and other places during daylight hours. I’d met my high school girlfriend (Lora) and had started dating her during that timeframe. Made it tough dating having to get home before dark. She went to another high school and lived across town.

Today’s post is about the two questions that define humans. This took me two broadcast hours to cover on the USA Prepares radio show. I started with a foundation of showing how a few building blocks become complex systems. I’ll save those for some later posts.

The two questions come from two hypothesis:

  1. There is a spiritual God that created the physical universe.
  2. There is spiritual life after physical death.

Simplified into questions:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. Is there life after death?

These are yes/no questions that define our beliefs. Those beliefs may or may not be reality.

As a Christian, I’ll be referring to the God of Abraham when I address these questions. I’m not going to cover the possibilities of which god is referred to in question 1. That’s a topic that can cover volumes and ultimately come to no resolution as this is a matter of faith.

I will refer you to The Case for Christ movie or the book by Lee Strobel. He and his wife were happy atheists. The story relates how he started losing his wife to those crazy Christians. He set out to prove that the story of Jesus in the Bible was false. During that endeavor, he became a believer.

Back to the questions – there are 4 combinations of answers. I’m a yes/yes. I also believe that the only other reasonable answer is no/no.

There are those that are yes/no and no/yes – in the yes/no group we can include the Sadducees who didn’t believe in life after death. To me the message in the Bible is clear – everyone has life after death, the question then becomes one of where you spend it.

The no/yes types don’t believe in a god, but believe we recycle through different lifetimes learning lessons. I’m not exactly sure what lessons they expect to learn, and why would we choose a physical existence with the physical and emotional pain that come with that? The longer you live, the more people you care about will die – the pain of loss only ending when you do.

We can look at the meaningfulness of life. If there is a God, then life has a meaning which I’d argue the most importing thing is living a life pleasing to God. If there isn’t a God than the only meaning to life is doing whatever please you. That can range from caring about others to a life of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

To no/no types, all that matters is what happens in this lifetime. I feel sorry for the no/no type, because there is no point to life.

Reality can be a different matter. By the time a no/no would find out that the yes/yes answer is right, it’s too late to change.

If a yes/yes type is wrong, well, we’ll never know since there wouldn’t be life after death.

I believe there’s a difference in saying what we believe (lip service) and what we really believe (walking the walk). The actions speak louder than words.

When I make it to the simple building blocks of complex systems, I’ll show how creation in Genesis is based on far more building block pieces. Next time I’ll cover what I consider the most important question is – especially for a Christian.

FMG.0002 Perspectives

Today is your grandmother’s 65th birthday. I met Karen in the Fall 1976 semester at Lamar University in Linear Algebra class. Hard to believe that was 45 years ago.

I’d finish my BS in Computer Science August 1978 and Karen received her Comp Sci degree in August 1979. We finished our AFROTC classes in May 1979. That’s when I received my commission as a second lieutenant. Your grandmother got her commission in August when she graduated.

I thought I was rather well informed back then. Boy, was I ignorant.

Being an INTJ type, I’m rather driven to learn more. With that learning comes changes in perspective.

It’s quite a challenge to relate so much information to you kids – especially since I’ve had no contact with some of you and those that I’ve seen was when you were young and can be measured in a matter of days.

Where do I begin? And how do I relate it when I don’t know what your education and experiences are?

So much of my worldview has changed from what I’ve learned since I turned 50.

From what I know of your parents, I’m sure you were raised to believe in Jesus.

Sadly, most Christians spend little or no time in their Bibles. Those that do often get locked into one translation and never dig deeper. They expect their pastor and Sunday school teachers to tell them what they need to know. So much of our perspectives are shaped by the doctrines of men that are cherished by the denomination we belong to.

You might be surprised to learn than public schools in America were created to teach our youth how to read so that they could read the Bible. I witnessed much of the change away from God to our schools today where the Bible and any thought friendly to God is discouraged or prohibited.

Education wasn’t great when I was in school, and my high school and college years were in the 1970s.

Your parents were astute enough as high schoolers to realize how bad their education was. I’m glad they chose to home school you.

Much of the mess you see today can be related to ignorance, and sadly the poor education was part of the agenda to destroy America. There’s a reason that the 10th plank in the Communist Manifesto on turning country Communist is free public schools. Once the youth are indoctrinated, it’s almost impossible to rescue them from that indoctrination.

So, we have a nation that is:

Biblically illiterate

Financially illiterate

Historically illiterate

Scientifically illiterate

I’ve spent the last decade of my life trying to counter that.

There’s no way I can come close to sharing what I covered in several hundred hours on the radio. What I shared on the radio was only a fraction of what I wanted to cover, and that was only a fraction of what I read, and that was only a fraction of the headlines I saw.

As l relate what I can to you – the perspective will be of analyzing the Satanic agenda.

The Devil wants us Dumb, Deceived, in Debt, Diseased, Dead, and Damned. I see Christians either willingly or unwittingly assisting in that agenda.

I saw a survey where a significant number (about a third) of Christians don’t believe in Satan. That makes deception all the easier.

I believe the Bible is clear – we’re caught up in spiritual warfare whether we like it or not.

Even for nonbelievers, what I’ll relate can be viewed in terms of money and power – those are great motivators too.

My perspective developed over decades. You may or may not want to share in those views, but at least you’ll understand why I’ll call something as part of Satan’s agenda.

Should you not agree, following the money (and power) should lead you to the lesson I’m attempting to relate. That leads me to the two most important questions on determining where you and others stand.

That’s our next topic.

FMG.0001 Intro

I’m John Ragan and I’m launching a blog at johntrek.com and will be sharing at least some of the posts on Facebook. My target audience is my grandkids.

The last time I saw my first 3 grandkids in person was May 2012. Becky and I were living in Springfield, Missouri and were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.

The last time I saw new pictures of my grandkids was about 5 years ago. That’s when my daughter (Amy) left Facebook. She was pregnant at the time with #5 and I don’t even know what his/her name is. Given that my daughter was 37 at the time, I’m guessing that #5 was my last grandchild.

Her husband (Matt) had left Facebook several months before that. Based on Facebook comments on Amy’s timeline, they’d cut ties with nearly everyone they knew. They had been living near Baltimore, MD and from what we can tell, they now live in Utah.

I’m not saying it was right to cut ties with me, but Amy was home schooling four kids (the youngest with Down’s) and #5 was going to add to time requirements.

I never expected to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandkids, but I did expect to know more about them. I’ve come to terms with this being the consequences of decisions I made back in college, nearly five decades ago and one of the costs of my 8 years as an Air Force officer.

We have no friends in common, leaving the internet as my only vehicle to have a discussion with my grandkids – even if it is a monologue.

I met my first wife (Karen – also a Computer Science major) at Lamar University. She was headed for divorce at the time, and I’ll confirm that you shouldn’t get in a relationship with someone on the rebound.

Amy was born in January 1979. Karen and I entered active duty at Scott AFB in Illinois in September. We split in January 1980 and were divorced in April – so Amy doesn’t even have memories of when we lived under the same roof.

Amy was 3 when I left for Germany in 1982. In total I think I had 8 visits with her between getting back from Germany (1985) and the 2012 visit. I’ve spent more time with Becky’s nieces and nephews than I did with my daughter since she turned one.

I was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas and spent my first 22 years there. Most of my parent’s relatives lived in the Kansas City area. I’m no stranger to long distance relatives.

Which leads me to the journey I’m about to start.

There’s a good chance that one day, one or more of my grandkids will wonder about their Ragan ancestry. It’s on their dad’s side as well with my great-grandfather Ragan being the common ancestor.

There’s only a small amount that Amy knows from our limited time together. Karen and I spent a little over 3 years together and can offer little more. I at least had a chance to talk with relatives from both sides of my family after leaving college.

It’s up to me to leave a family history and there’s a good chance that I won’t be around when (or if) they come looking.

This project will take at least several hundred hours (to a few thousand hours) to put together with what family history I have along with the hard-earned wisdom I’ve learned through the years – the things you normally get to share with your grandkids. That’s a big investment in time and energy for something that may end up having no value to anyone.

I know I’ve been frustrated by lack of knowledge of my ancestry – especially on the Ragan side. I just want to leave more than a few names, dates, and photos (and if I don’t do this, there will be darn few photos to find of me, and probably none for my ancestors).

This is for my grandkids – Ashley who turns 16 next week, Jacob, Ben, Angela, and #5 who will soon be 5. You can use the email john@johntrek.com – I hope to have that monitored for you even after I’m gone. None of us have any guarantees of even finishing the day, but Becky and I are hoping to be around for a while. Given that I’ve ended up in the emergency room twice in the last year – I don’t want to put this off or you’ll lose a good part of your family history forever.

Most everyone knows of Star Trek – chronicling the voyages of the starship Enterprise. While I was at the Pentagon, Star Trek TNG (The Next Generation) came out. This was my inspiration in naming this blog – John Trek FMG – chronicling my journey – For My Grandkids.