05/5/16
Licensing

Justifying the Locksmith Licensing Scam

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

LicensingI’ve been involved in the locksmith industry right at forty years.  As far back as the 70s those who taught me the ‘tricks of the trade’ could see the handwriting on the wall; eventually licenses would be required.  A couple of respected locksmiths vouched for my abilities and had me join the Associated Locksmiths of American (ALOA) with the understanding that having membership would be the key, no pun intended, the key to being ‘grandfathered’ by the State; they were correct.

Licensing came about in spite of many individuals pointing out it was a mistake; but as it was explained in no uncertain terms by our local ALOA representatives, it was either become licensed or find some other line of work.

I wrote some of my thoughts when it all came about, Business Licenses – Jump for Joy.  From that article:

I will start off with the stated mission of the Agency which is the “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”. It goes further and states its job as Agency in the State of Texas for “ensuring citizens and consumers of investigations and security services, that these industries provide reliable services, employ qualified and trustworthy personnel, and are free from misrepresentation and fraud”. With a mission statement as broad as all that; (*) who could complain that they don’t have everyone’s interests at heart?  (*sarcasm button engaged)

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04/28/16
Prayer

The Prayer of Enos for Our Time

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings
Prayer

Our studies in Sunday School took us through the Book of Enos this past week.  It’s only a page long; but holds a wealth of information, information which applies to our day, perhaps more so than when it was written.

Enos prayed unto the Lord for a remission of his sins and during the conversation, prayer being more than a casual acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in our lives; during that conversation Enos poured out his concerns regarding his people as well as those who stood in direct opposition to them.  After carefully reading the text it becomes evident that the people Enos pleads for at first are his own; but that they have become complacent and headed down a troublesome road.

In verse 10 we get a better idea of the dilemma Enos faced as he pleaded for his people to be worthy of blessings while at the same time well aware that those who understand their responsibilities, having decided not to follow the Lord’s way, those people must face the consequences of their actions.

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04/26/16
War

Support, Patriotism and Reality

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings
War

Since the end of WWII America has been on many battlefields; but, regrettably have not made a serious attempt to force our opponents into unconditional surrender.  Instead we’ve learned how to retreat in such a way as to appear more or less victorious; not the same as having beaten your enemies into submission, …now is it?

“My country right or wrong.”   Whoa, can you imagine anyone from Generation X agreeing to that?

Some of my Facebook friends were circulating a picture of some Vietnam soldiers.  I was unable to force myself to hit the ‘Like’ button, something which caused me to consider ‘why’; …not because I didn’t support what these brave young men had done in the service of their country or that they hadn’t been valiant and done their jobs.   Something else was gnawing at me; but what?

“Sadly, fewer than 2% of you will like and share this picture of brave Vietnam soldiers. So let’s see how many likes and shares they can get.”

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03/28/16
Condescension

Considering the Condescension of God?

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

Easter morning I found myself considering the word Condescension as it applies to mortal men trying to figure out our purpose and relationship with God and His Only Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

I’d purchased chocolate bunnies to go along with the Easter Eggs that my grandchildren colored in the front yard; but that has little if anything to do with the spiritual importance of Easter.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines Condescension:
1. voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior
2. patronizing attitude or behavior

Most often when you hear the word Condescension it holds a negative meaning. Someone feels they are above your station in life talks to you in a way intended to remind you that they are above you in stature. Immediately the hair on your back bristles; you recognize the offensive attitude being presented, similar to how We The People react to those we’ve elected as they develop their self appointed elitist state of mind, a station above the lowly peasants.

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03/14/16
Callings

Growing into our Callings

By: T.F. Stern | The Moral Liberal

Elder_Dallin_H._Oaks

This morning we were treated to a special Stake Conference presided over by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I should point out that the meeting was held at the Hafer Road building which can accommodate about 900 people, give or take.  A friend of ours got a call letting him know the building was completely full at 8:00 am for a meeting scheduled for 10:00 am.

The local church leadership had planned for a large turnout by having a secondary location, the Louetta Chapel as an overflow facility where the conference was to receive live broadcast via an internet connection.   Lucy and I are only a few minutes away from the Louetta building and were more than happy to comfortably enjoy the proceedings sitting on the soft cushioned pews instead of the folding metal chairs had we attended at the Hafer building.

We got there early and I was able to help with some of the set up for the broadcast.  The IT specialist showed a couple of us how to assemble a large folding projection screen and position it behind the podium.

My hearing isn’t all that great so I struggled as the messages were delivered; but I wasn’t alone, for some reason they couldn’t get the volume levels very high…, oh well.   Our Stake Presidency gave talks on basic gospel principles; sure wish they could have made it a little louder…

Elder Oaks didn’t have a prepared message; instead remarking on what each previous speaker had offered and adding his own thoughts along the way; having a General Authority’s insight applied to gospel principles is always gratifying.

At one point he asked how many in attendance had recently been given a new calling; about one fourth present raised their hands.  He then pointed to a young man, perhaps 8 – 10 years old sitting in the third row and had him come to the podium to help with a visual lesson.   Can you imagine how it must have felt to be singled out in front of everyone; but he was up to the task and awkwardly made his way forward.

Upon shaking hands Elder Oaks escorted the young man off to one side of the podium where he could be seen easily by everyone.  Elder Oaks then took off his jacket and placed it on the young man, the size difference was considerable to say the least as the edge of the jacket nearly touched the ground.

Elder Oaks then explained how many folks feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the challenges of a new church calling; but by applying our efforts along with giving ourselves enough time we’re able to grow into the calling.

As he spoke I felt tears welling up in the corners of my eyes; Elder Oaks had awakened an old memory, one from when I’d been a new member of the Church.  It was Déjà vu all over again; isn’t that the way Yogi Berra said it?

It was to have been my first opportunity to speak; what used to be referred to as a “Two and a Half Minute Talk”.   I can’t recall what my assigned topic was; only that I felt less than adequate, my being asked to address folks who’d been attending church for many years.  What could I tell them that they hadn’t heard before?

Bonnie in Police Shirt. 02aI remember reading scriptures and taking notes all week prior to the assignment; never feeling comfortable with what I’d written down in my notes.   Sunday morning I was up early putting together my thoughts when my two years old daughter came shuffling into the den area of the house wearing one of my police uniform shirts.

The shirt dragged along the floor covering her feet as a huge smile beamed from her innocent face.  Wearing her Dad’s police shirt with the PD’s and badge in place made her happy; didn’t do me any harm either.   Instantly I tossed all the notes taken during the week as inspiration, guided by the Spirit, showed me what I was to talk about later that day.

I knew I had a lot of growing to do as a new member of the Church, much as my daughter wearing that police shirt, there was plenty of room and it wasn’t going to happen over night.

T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.


02/29/16
Media1

Liberal Media picks GOP candidate, again

By: T F Stern

Media1You’d think by now Republicans would get tired of letting the liberal media pick their presidential candidate; but they haven’t learned a thing as we go into Super Tuesday.  Old guard Republicans wanted Jeb Bush to continue their spiral towards socialism and what they perceive as a necessary means of getting along with folks on the other side of the aisle, shaking hands with the Devil might be more appropriate.  That’s not going to happen; Jeb’s campaign already tanked and he’s left the scene leaving Trump, Cruz and Rubio to duke it out.

Media2This year the leftist media apparently has gotten behind Donald Trump, at least temporarily, providing him with millions upon millions of dollars in free air time. According to some analysts, “46 percent of the media coverage over the last month about the GOP candidates was about Trump, as measured by articles that appeared in Google News.”   I say the media has temporarily gotten behind Trump because once the real race for the presidency begins that very same media will throw every thing, including the kitchen sink at Trump as they prepare the way for yet another Democrat candidate to occupy the White House.

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02/17/16
America

Two Americas – which will win?

By: T F Stern | The Moral Liberal

2008_Election_Map

Several years ago presidential hopeful John Edwards used the phrase Two Americas, something he claimed existed due to the ‘haves and have nots’; typical class warfare rhetoric intended to cause envy while at the same time stirring up votes from the ‘oppressed’.  It was a catchy phrase, enough for historians to latch onto it; but in a sense there really are two Americas, just not the way John Edwards portrayed them.

Here’s a glimpse at one of the Americas, and it’s not a pretty sight…

Not long after the body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reached room temperature, according to Tom Knighton of TPNN dot com,  Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks penned a vile op-ed piece which appeared at Foreign Policy Magazine (by subscription only).

Brooks didn’t hide her contempt for Justice Scalia, which in turn reflects her contempt for anyone who supports our constitutional republican form of government.

“The global legal and judicial communities, however, will mostly be indulging in joyful private choruses of ‘Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.’ Or maybe not so private.”

{…}

The Georgetown law professor wrote, “Scalia was famously dismissive of foreign and international law, which he considered good enough for, well, foreigners — but not for the great United States. ‘I doubt whether anybody [in the United States] would say, ‘Yes, we want to be governed by the views of foreigners,’’ he scoffed in 2005.”

While reading this it becomes painfully clear that two Americas are battling for supremacy; not the haves and have nots as John Edwards portrayed the division; but instead there are those who would prefer a transformation towards a European socialistic state which values the collective over individual rights.   These are the same folks who would prefer the United Nations dictate policy rather than continue as a sovereign self governing constitutional republic.

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02/8/16
Unclaimed

Unclaimed Prizes

Lottery TicketsBY: T.F. STERN | The Moral Liberal

There was quite a bit of chatter going on this past week about the possibility a $63 Million Dollar lottery prize would go unclaimed.  My daughter in law wondered out loud, “Can you imagine finding out you had the winning ticket only to be told you waited too long to claim your winnings.  That would be awful; just think about how you’d feel.”

The idea of missing out on something that big would upset most folks; but then I got to thinking about it from a different angle.  What if you never found out?  The winning numbers were picked; but you never bothered to see if they matched the ticket you purchased; how bad would you feel since you never knew how much money you missed out on?  For all you knew the only money you lost was the two dollars spent on the ticket.

Life is like that for most folks; but this has nothing to do with purchasing a lottery ticket.

Mortality is the ticket we purchased to prove ourselves, to make ourselves eligible for all that God has.  Interestingly, each ticket purchased is a winner; the only losers are those that are not claimed.

Admittedly there are some qualifiers in order to claim your prizes; but rest assured, you did purchase a winning ticket the moment you accepted the Great Plan of Salvation.

C S Lewis on Children of God posterSome folks don’t even know who they are as they go through the challenges of life.  Oh, they might know their parents, grandparents and even a long list of ancestors going back hundreds of years; but do they really know they are children of our Heavenly Father?  Do they understand their royal lineage makes possible an inheritance beyond our ability to grasp?

We are created in His image and, in due time, we’re expected to figure out how to behave according to the commandments and other instructions given via the scriptures and servants of the Lord.  Upon successful completion of our probationary period we are promised all that he has; if that’s not greater than any lottery prize then I don’t know what would impress you.

Once you’ve figured out you’re holding the winning ticket; will it alter the way you approach life?  I would certainly hope so.


T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern,is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.

01/3/16
Declaration of Independence

Our Sacred Honor…

By: T F Stern
The Moral Liberal

Declaration of Independence being signed

The words we speak are important, what we hold sacred and what we will defend, even until death if required.  If we raise our arm to the square we are taking a solemn oath, considerably more than just lip service (someone please pass this information along to our elected and appointed representatives).  Our sacred honor is at stake as we declare our words are true, not only to our fellow citizens; but with God.  There is never a time when Pledges, Oaths and Testimonies are to be treated lightly.

Some years back a document was signed wherein grievances against the King of England were listed along with a formal Declaration of Independence.  As with most important documents, those who signed it were testifying of its truthfulness, no different than if they’d been standing in a court of law bearing witness to those present; except in this case these men were bearing witness to the entire world.

Perhaps that’s why they finished with these words, words that mean much as you consider, …each man signed with full knowledge, … the serious nature of such a  declaration…

“…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

I mention testimonies and sacred honor as they play a significant role for those beginning a course of study this year, the Book of Mormon.  In Sunday School we prepared by reading from the Introduction where two documents worth mentioning are kept for good reason; the Testimony of Eight Witnesses and the Testimony of Three Witnesses.

Testimony of Eight Witnesses

“Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.”

Eight Witnesses BOMWhile reading the account given by the eight witnesses I was immediately reminded of those who’d pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor before the world to declare our independence.

These were bold statements which could not be taken lightly.  Having held the metal plates containing an ancient language that Joseph Smith was to translate and which would go out into the world, a world filled with skeptics; they didn’t claim to understand what had been written on those gold plates, only that plates from which the Book of Mormon sprang physically existed.  These witnesses knew many would be reluctant to accept additional scripture, even more would reject the Book of Mormon completely; that said they willingly signed their names.

An ancient prophet recorded the Lord’s foreknowledge of skeptics in our dayregarding the Book of Mormon…

“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.”

As you continue to read the rest of that chapter; the presumption being you will continue reading, it becomes clear the Lord has shared and will continue to share his words with other children who have been scattered while He blesses the seed of Abraham as promised.

The second document, the Testimony of Three Witnesses is both a physical and a spiritual affidavit of importance for all God’s children.  These individuals were witnessing the restoration of the gospel for this, the Final Dispensation.

They had seen an angel of the Lord present before them the Book of Mormon plates, explain, at least in part, the information provided on those plates and; perhaps more importantly, they were commanded by God to act as witnesses to what they had been privileged to observe regardless of what consequences the world would see fit to impose.

When you think about raising your arm to the square and testifying, the full impact of your testimony comes into play.  Not only are you swearing before your equals, your fellow men; but you are standing at the feet of God who knows the truth of all things.  What’s at stake?  Only your sacred honor; Heaven help those who bear false witness.

A friend of mine, Russ Parker, temporarily lost his wallet the other day.  Other than being concerned for the possibility of having to replace his drivers license and credit cards he’d also lost several items of personal value contained therein; treasures of wisdom if you will, that he reads on a daily basis to motivate and support him.

He showed the wallet which he’d later found along with a scrap of paper with one of the treasures of wisdom which I’ll share.  It’s a short quote from Ezra Taft Benson’s General Conference talk given October, 1986.

Book of Mormon Power Outlet image“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”

With that I challenge you to obtain the truths contained within the Book of Mormon, that you might hunger and thirst after those words and find life in greater and greater abundance.   I add my testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith is/was the Prophet of God chosen to bring forth the restoration of the gospel in our day.  On my sacred honor, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern,is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.

12/27/15
Jesus

Left behind at the Temple

Jesus at age 12 teaching at the templeBY T.F. STERN
The Moral Liberal

A couple of years ago while I was working at the Houston Texas Temple in the Baptistery a large youth group came by to do vicarious ordinance work for their kindred dead. One young man, age 12, was attending the temple for his first time and was a bit embarrassed when, during his turn to do baptisms, he got water up his nose causing his sinus cavities to drain uncontrollably. This was near the end of his group’s visit and when the young man came out of the dressing room he was alarmed, almost in a panic as he looked around and found he was alone in the Baptistery.

He’d concluded that while he’d spent an inordinate amount of time in the dressing room, that perhaps his group had gone on without him, leaving him to find a way home. There was a momentary look of despair which caused me to step up to the challenge.

I explained to him that one time in the distant past another young boy about his same age had accidentally been left behind during a family trip to the temple. I mentioned that it was someone high up in the church that he’d probably heard of; waiting for him to gather his thoughts on who it might have been.

“Was it Thomas Monson”, he asked on his first guess?

“No, it was someone much higher”, I responded. You could see that my answer puzzled the young man; who would be higher than the President of the Church?

I then explained how Jesus had gone to the temple as a young man and while teaching the elders of Israel his family left him there by accident; but upon going a short distance realized his not being present so they immediately returned to find him with the learned men, expounding great truths with power and authority.

“So you’re in good company, now aren’t you?” The young man thought about what I’d said and the biggest smile came over him, his shoulders squared up and he no longer felt embarrassed for having lost control of his sinuses. An adult member of his group came from the outer foyer looking for him about that time. I wish I’d been able to take the young man down the hall to where the picture of the young Jesus teaching at the temple was hanging on the wall; but that area was restricted so it wasn’t to be.


T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern,is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.