09-26-2019 Letters and Commentary

Of geodes and Jesus

If I were to look at a pile of rocks, I would not recognize which ones had the potential of being geodes. Geodes are rocks that have an interior with crystals or with agate material. They are usually very beautiful when they are revealed by cutting or breaking the stone. Geode sizes can vary from very small, easily fitting in your hand, to very large. The crystals can be fine pencils of quartz or can be massive amethyst crystals, or garnets or pyrite. The trick is identifying geodes initially. Then, only by investigation can the real beauty be revealed. The effort can be very rewarding. The effort put into correctly identifying who Jesus is can also be very rewarding. Not everyone who encountered Jesus the first time back when He physically walked the earth understood what they were looking at. They didn’t recognize the value of what they were seeing. Therefore, many passed him by as easily as we might miss a geode amongst other rocks. They never discovered the beauty that resided inside. According to the Bible, in 1 Peter 2:4 many have through the ages rejected Jesus Christ because they felt He did not meet their perspective of who the Messiah should be, how He should act and what He should do. So, when Jesus came along, they were not ready for His offering salvation as opposed to conquering Israel’s foes and making Israel great again. Their studies neglected the “Suffering Servant” aspect predicted in Isaiah 53. Or they just didn’t want to see Jesus for who he really was, the Son of God, come to earth to seek and save those who were lost. So they missed Him – with worse consequences than missing a geode. There is great beauty hidden for us in Jesus Christ if we are willing to learn to recognize Him for who He is.

Beware of false Social Security and Medicare advertisements

Scammers have become more aggressive and sophisticated in the digital age. With millions of people relying on Social Security and Medicare, scammers target audiences who are looking for legitimate program and benefit information. Scammers sometimes try to scare people into giving out their personal information. Never give someone who called you any personal information unless you absolutely know who they are. The law that addresses misleading Social Security and Medicare advertising prohibits people or non-government businesses from using words or emblems that mislead others. Their advertising can’t claim that they represent, are somehow affiliated with, or are endorsed or approved by Social Security or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Medicare). People are often misled by advertisers who use the terms “Social Security” or “Medicare.” Often, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though Social Security offers the same services free of charge. These services include getting: A corrected Social Security card showing a person’s married name; a Social Security card to replace a lost card; a Social Security Statement; and a Social Security number for a child. If you receive misleading information about Social Security, send the complete ad, including the envelope (if applicable) to: Office of the Inspector General Fraud Hotline Social Security Administration P.O. Box 17768 Baltimore, MD 21235 You can learn more about how we combat fraudulent advertisers by reading our publication What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10005.pdf. You can also view and share our anti-fraud information at www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts as well as this YouTube video www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8N96ORODZm8. Remember, our information is easy to email and post on social media. Please let your loved ones know about these types of scams. Sharing this article with friends and family can save them from financial and emotional hardship. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

GHOST TRAIN… I’ve written, frequently over the years, about the ghost train that triggers the RR crossing gates at M-140 in Watervliet. There were times the occurrence gets so freq