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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Upside Down Morgage, Lost Retirement, Looking for Work

Many people said the housing market was on a bubble. It had to burst. I doubt that anyone thought it would be a tsunami when everyone started to get out of the game. Home owners are the ones left to turn out the lights. Now, the lights are out but someone has locked the door. The home owner can't get out. He owes more than he can sell.

Financial managers were investing people's retirements in all types of creative schemes. Billions were being made each year. It continued as long at the commercial paper supply was in great shape. One day the money was all gone. No business could borrow the money they needed to continue the merry-go-round. People started jumping off as quickly as possible. Many people listened to their financial managers advice. They told them to sit still. Things will improve. Is this what these financial managers did with their own money? Now, many people have had their retirements dwindle so low that we won't see a recovery for ten to fifteen years. That's a long time for those whose retirement was to come within those ten to fifteen years.

Some have held a job with a company for a long time. They have gotten into those scary fifties. This is the time when employers don't want to hire an individual. There is a greater chance the older worker will have health issues. A sick worker will not only slow production but will also cause health costs to rise as there are more sick workers. The EEOC says that an employer cannot discriminate because of age but we all know they do. You really can't hide the age when you go for an interview.

I am not Pollyanna. I don't think we should all go home and sing, "The sun will come up tomorrow. . . ." (Yes, I know that was Little Orphan Annie.) Yet, I am also not hopeless. There is nothing we can do about some things. We cannot force someone to refinance our mortgage. We cannot force the stock market's revival. We cannot force someone to hire us.

The question is what can we do? The answer to this will tell who you really are. You allow yourself to be a victim if you decide that you can quit, start living off the government, family members, the church or the benevolence of people who give you money as they drive by. You are a hero if you work hard, quit complaining and keep focused on getting out of the hole you are in. Stop looking for the hero to rescue you. Be your own hero.

I am one of these people who has lost all of his equity in his home and nearly all of his retirement. I will work on. I will not expect the government or anyone else to come bail me out. I believe in a morning for those who work through the dark night. Nevertheless, if that morning does not come, I will still be glad I worked on. I will also encourage as many as I can to work on. We are not a nation of victims. We are free.

Victims are just slaves who don't know they are in slavery.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Compassion Cannot Be Regulated

There are a lot of people hurting during these turbulent economic times. Many people have seen their savings dwindle to nothing as the stock market continues to fall. Many have seen their A.R.M.'s ask for a LEG too. It is hard to sort out which people are hurting because of the bad economy and those who have simply been irresponsible.

All the people who boarded the Titanic nearly a century ago believed it would reach America. It was the ship's maiden voyage. It was advertised as unsinkable. No one predicted the ship would hit an ice berg and sink a few days later. Many of these people lost their lives. None of the passengers were irresponsible. Those in charge should have paid attention to the reports of ice bergs. They went forward in their "unsinkable" ship.

Church emphasizes the need for compassion for those who are hurting. We should do what we can to help people through tough times. We cannot and should not enable people to continue to make bad decisions. There is no compassion in co-dependency. We relieve ourselves of guilt at the expense of keeping people in a bad situation.

We encourage compassion but cannot force it. We encourage people to help one another but we cannot force that either. That is something that must come from the heart no matter how dire the situation.

Compassion is all but lost when a person's benevolence is exploited. The Bible says that the person who does not work should not eat. In other words, if you refuse to work we will refuse to give you food. That seems hard but it is best for any society. Freeloaders must suffer the consequences of their own actions.

Years ago I served a church in Houston. One of my deacons was approached by a man who claimed a close relative had died and he needed money for a bus ticket to get to the funeral. This deacon gave him the money he needed. A couple of weeks later this same deacon was doing a job on the other side of Houston and had the same man tell him the same story. The deacon did not respond with compassion this time. The freeloader was lucky to leave with all his teeth.

Many times government seems to help people when it actually hurts them. It seems to be helping many people who are hurting financially. Often, those people have made bad decisions and the government is helping them through what appears to be a tough time. The tough times never seem to end for these people because they continue to freeload on the system. The government takes from those who have worked hard and gives to those who won't work.

The government continues to make lots of noise about the compassion we need to have for those who are hurting. Government is like a baby. It makes a lot of noise on one end and has no responsibility on the other! Compassion cannot be regulated. It is always an act of one who makes a personal contact or has personal knowledge of the pain of another. You start with a need and respond with compassion.

I encourage people to be compassionate toward others. Our church feeds over a hundred people each week. We try to get to know their situation and meet the need of hunger. We have decided that many other needs are beyond our abilities. We do not pay rent or utilities because we can feed so many more people a week at a time than just the few that we could help otherwise.

I am proud that our church helps people. We do so because we have a compassion for others which resides in our hearts. I believe it is Christ within us that makes the difference. It cannot be regulated. It comes from within.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Your Most Valuable Asset

Often people think that ministers don't know anything about business. They don't understand that the church is the largest business that there is. They also don't understand that instead of the church needing to learn how to be business-like from secular business, the secular business needs to learn how to operate from the church.

Businesses think that they must have controls in place to assure them that they will operate without graft, embezzlement or theft of any kind. They do not realize that they can never control trust. Trust is the most valuable asset to the employee. It is the most valuable asset to a spouse, child, parent, minister or anything else you may be.

You can't make someone trustworthy. If you try, they will play games.

There are two types of employees that you don't need: those who will not do what you tell them to do and those who will only do what you tell them to do. People who are playing the game of only doing what you tell them to do are not trustworthy. They will blame all mistakes upon you. They will use, "I was only doing what I was supposed to do, " as their excuse for doing something that is obviously wrong. They should be fired, not given more controls.

Many businesses don't understand trust. They write big manuals telling their employees what they must do and what they must not do. They get more and more specific and employees find more and more ways of getting around the rules. In fact, more rules will encourage more ways of doing things to get around the rules.

I heard that a hotel directly above a body of water had signs on the guest rooms forbidding people from fishing from their balconies. They had horrendous problems with the guests continuing to do so after the signs were posted. The guest stopped fishing from the balconies soon after the signs were removed.

A Christian camp had a rule that the children attending the camp could not throw rocks at the horses. However, it didn't say anything about throwing rocks at the cows. The children got the idea from the rule book to throw rocks in the first place. More rules actually increased bad behavior.

Is everyone trustworthy? No, but we need to stop coddling them because there was no rule to prevent them from doing what they did. A guy across the hall from my college dorm room started a fire in his room because he was cold. He opened the window, lit a few books on the floor and went to sleep. He was told to clean it up but was not disciplined because there was no "rule" which said he couldn't start a fire. He was untrustworthy. He should have been kicked out!

Trust is your most valuable asset. You do not want to lose the trust that another gives you. You do not want to abuse their trust in you.

Our country has gotten crazy with lawsuits filed by fired employees. We have to warn them, have rules in place, create a paper trail and a whole lot more stuff that keeps us from doing business. We must realize that we do not need employees we cannot trust. They should be fired rather than coddled.

If trust were given to the employees and protected by the employee, time cards could be in pencil, expenditures could be taken at their word and work completed well would always be expected. This is why the number one job of a boss is to hire people who can be trusted.

Trust is earned by faithfulness and time. Once you have it, you will never want to lose it. It is your most valuable asset.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Valuable Are You?

I had a guy once tell me that he wasn't worth anything. He was saying this because he realized that he had done horrible things in his life. I told him that he couldn't be farther from the truth.

We are all extremely valuable. God gave His only Son for us. Jesus didn't die for trash. He died for those whom He loves. That should tell us something about the way God looks at us.

God sees someone whom Jesus died for when He looks at every one of us. It doesn't matter if we are Christians or not. God loves us anyway.

That doesn't mean everyone goes to heaven. Only those who believe in Him have eternal life- meaning a life with God forever. God forgives our sins based on our belief in Him- not on our goodness but on our faith.

I pray differently because I know God loves me. He loves me so much that He will not withhold any good thing from me. However, He defines what is good for me just as I would define what was good for my own children at one time. I didn't let them eat M&Ms all day long and forget their vegetables. It may have been what they thought was good but it wasn't really good for them. God gives me whatever is good for me.

I have hope because I know that God loves me. Nothing can come into my life without God's knowledge. His knowing means that He already has a solution for my problems. I have hope in His solution.

I have forgiveness because I know that God will always love me. I can't do anything that will take away God's forgiveness from me. He has me in His hand by the faith He gave me. He will never let me slip out. He forgives me because of His love.

I know that I will be with Him in heaven because He loves me. God will never break His promise of taking me to heaven for I believe Him and I believe in Him.

God's love make us valuable. How valuable are you? You are as valuable as the love God has for you. Who can measure that?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quit While You're Behind

You have heard it often, "Quit while you're ahead!" It is actually bad advice. My advice isto quit quickly when you start losing.

People often work longer hours when they are making no money. Cab drivers work well into the night when there are few convention goers or tourists around. They have not met what they would call their daily minimum. They work longer and get little for their work.

On the other hand, during conventions and big tourist attractions they shut down early because they have met that daily minimum early. Obviously, this isn't the best system. It would be much more cost effective to work longer hours when there are many customers and quit early when there are few.

You can apply this to just about anything. Work much harder when you are winning. Often, the best thing to do is quit doing what doesn't pay off.

Of course, there are reasons to keep working. If you have a conviction that this is the right thing to do you should keep doing it. You should follow your convictions. For example, if you believe you should keep telling your neighbors about Christ even if they won't listen to you or if you believe you are supposed to be a writer though no one will publish what you write, you need to keep doing it.

When you start winning, however, you need to work harder to keep winning. When you have a bad day, call it a bad day and go home early.

This is used often in sports. If the play works, keep running it until it stops working. If the defense works, keep it until it stops working. Don't stick with something that doesn't work.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if the government could learn this lesson?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Boogie Men, Monsters and Ghosts, Oh My!

We told our children that there were no boogie men. We told them that monsters did not really exist. We told them that ghosts were only their imaginations. Why did we lie to them?

Lots of people have boogie men, monsters and ghosts. They are those things that keep us awake at night. We choose not to think of them because it upsets us. We act like they don't exist and we try to keep ourselves occupied with other things. But our monsters are real.

Boogie men are those fears that would seriously upset our lives. They are the fears of losing your job or your house or anything that is precious to you.

Monsters are those problems that you truly have. It is the boss that you can't get along with. It is the debt that you can't pay. It is any seemingly unconquerable problem.

Ghosts are the things said about you that you that haunt you. Maybe a teacher called you stupid. A parent told you that you never do things right. A spouse (former) said no one could love you. You can't shake these feelings and secretly you are afraid they are correct. What do you do?

Most people are living with these boogie men, monsters and ghosts. They put up a great act in pretending that they are not there but they are bothered by these demons almost everyday. They can be defeated but it is very scary for most people. They would rather live with them rather than defeat them.

Most people are like the people of Israel cowering before Goliath. He was big and strong and had a very loud mouth. He taunted and ridiculed the army of God. Each of the soldiers thought that it would take a big soldier to defeat him. They had known about God but they really didn't believe Him to be very big. They needed a boy to defeat Goliath who had a very big God.

David saw the problem as God against this seemingly unconquerable problem. David didn't even think that it would be a close contest.

These boogie men, monsters and ghosts are coming against a child of God. You are someone He loves dearly. Do you think He would not fight for you as much as He fought for David?

David used what he had to defeat Goliath. He took five smooth stones and a sling. He ran toward Goliath. This must have shocked him because the rest of the army kept running away. David could run forward because he knew God was with him.

Do you know that God is with you too? Nothing will make Him leave your side. You will not face your problems alone.

David either knocked out or knocked down Goliath first. He ran forward and finished him off with Goliath's own sword. David would never have been able to reach Goliath's head as long as he was standing.

How can you knock down your giant? Tell the giant that he is not as big as your God! Make that giant small in comparison to the size of God.

Our boogie men, monsters and ghosts are living in our hearts. Tell them who you are. They have no place in your life. Tell God who He is. He is the Almighty. Turn these giants over to God and let Him work through you.

Remember these things:

There is nothing more powerful than God.
There is nothing which will diminish His love toward you.
He asks that you allow Him to tackle your problems.
He knows exactly what you need and what you need to do.
He will act on your behalf.

Now, rejoice for your giants are about to get what's coming to them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watch How You Judge Others

Have you heard the latest blonde joke? Blonde jokes may be funny but they by no means represent who blondes really are. Many are very intelligent people. They are easy to pick on because many of us would like to be blondes and we join in our envy with others in making fun of them.

I am short. I have heard a number of short jokes. I had someone say to me that I didn't act like a short man. I wondered if they believed the short jokes. Maybe they knew a couple of short men who acted a certain way and assumed it was their height that caused them to act that way.

People assume that overweight people are jolly. They assume that their weight reflects their capricious attitude. They may assume a number of other things about corpulent people. None of them may be true.

We take a look and make a judgment. That judgment may or may not be a true to that person. We may judge good things upon another that is also not true. We may say that Asians are hard workers or that people with glasses are studious. These may be equally wrong.

Jesus told us to watch how we judge others. In the same way we judge we will be judged. Do we really understand that? We cannot look at another and condemn that person and not expect that our own failures will condemn us. We cannot make a judgment based on the way a person looks without expecting that same judgment to fall upon us.

I realize that God is the only one who can know a person's heart. I don't even know my own many times. I have reason to believe that some people are repentant of the things they have done wrong while others are just sorry they got caught. The repentant person owns up and takes whatever punishment and the others complain about the way they are treated.

Yet, even these judgments of the repentant and the non-repentant are not based on the outside look of the person. They are not based merely on their words but on their continued actions. We must be in the business of discerning who is someone to hire and fire, who is worthy to listen to and who we should follow.

So, watch how you judge. Never judge by what you see alone. Never make a full judgment of a person or a people by one sight or one experience. Look at their continued actions and, just maybe, others will look at yours.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do We Die When Our Work Is Through?

I have heard it so many times at funerals, "His work in this world was over so God took Him." If that is the case, it appears I have 430 more years left!

The problem that we have most of the time is that we don't know what we are supposed to do. We see that our desires, even those desires that will glorify God, must be done by us. We have so many things we want to do on this earth. We want to keep doing those things no matter what. When we don't know what we are here to do we want to keep on doing what we have been doing.

I had a good friend pass away recently. He had a tremendous influence in many people. He had led many people to the Lord directly and indirectly by leading mission trips and working with the youth in his church. He had contributed to a book which has had an impact on youth. He had taken his faith seriously when it came to caring for people. He told me that he was ready to go "home" to the Lord. Cancer had racked his body. He was unable to do the things he had done as vigorously as before. He had completed his work. He died at fifty-one.

I wonder if heaven receives people differently. Do some people enter with the angels saying, "So what?" while others are given a victory parade? Are there those whom it will be said, "You weren't doing anything on earth anyway", so God decided it was time for them to come home? Are there others that God couldn't stand a moment away from them any longer so he called them home?

It will be too late to change your entrance into heaven when the time comes for you to go. It would be much better to do what God has called you to do now. We need to get about the work of loving people into God's kingdom. We need to be the example of forgiveness and grace to all those around us. We need to find ourselves completed when our days on this earth are also completed.

I want to go to heaven in a victory parade. How about you?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Real Trouble in Our Nation

We have been in trouble for a long time. We may not have recognized it. We assume that our present troubles were created recently. They were not. They have been brewing for some time.

We have a media that wants to make an impact rather than report genuine news. They report on science and politics as if they know the answers. They do not. They are alarmists who create their own jobs. They do well when there are disasters to report. They are creating disasters today by their reporting. They have had charge of most people's information for a long time. Thankfully, that is changing.

We have politicians whose main concern is staying in office. They have learned that votes are gathered in when you give away money. They do so with pork barrel spending. They will bankrupt the country but stay in office for a long time. Meanwhile, they all somehow make a fortune while in the people's service. It is up to us to vote those porkers out of office.

We have an electorate who does not care about the future. They only see today. They look at hair styles more than policy statements. They listen to their friends and do what is popular rather than what is right. They come to vote because it was in vogue rather than they really knew anything about the policies of the candidates they voted for. They don't even listen to then news. I doubt if they will vote in the next election unless a crisis is created.

We have a people who do not do their own research. They accept things because there is a preponderance of reporting. They do not notice that the reports are copied from each other. They accept things as science which are really more about politics. They are blindly led by the blind to the cliffs of disaster. They prove that you can make a statement enough times so that it will be accepted as fact. They repeat it themselves. They can't imagine that they have been listening to junk-science.

We have a people who gather around others who believe just like them. This makes them believe that everyone believes this way. It makes them believe that anyone who doesn't believe this is just plain crazy or possibly evil. They are angered at any opposition to their paradigms of the way things are.

The real trouble in our nation is that we are not a nation of thinkers. We need to do our own research about everything we have heard. We need to check out every email we receive to see if it is true. We need to ask ourselves why the news is reported as it is. We need to question things without simply accepting them. We need to listen to opposing viewpoints. We need to ask ourselves what the next step will be if we take the step right in front of us.

If we don't do these things, the real trouble in our nation will be our future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What to Do for Valentine's Day

If you haven't got plans for Valentine's Day yet, you are in big trouble. There are no good restaurant's that can take you. If they have room, they are terrible! All the flowers have been picked over. Wilted flowers will indicate you didn't plan for the day. You are just in big trouble!

Here are some ways you may be able to save your life.

Fake an illness. It needs to be one that is bad enough that you can get sympathy and hopefully she will forget that its Valentine's Day but not one that is so bad that you will have to go to the doctor. If she is concerned about your welfare she might forget that you didn't do anything for her. However, DO NOT TRY THIS TWO YEARS IN A ROW!!! I knew a guy who tried that and he had to have a closed casket funeral. They even had trouble recognizing the remains.

Fake amnesia. Act like you don't know her or what day it is. Insist that you don't know who you are either. Tell her that you fell and lost consciousness. When you awakened you didn't know who you were. You might want to hit yourself in the head with something for proof. Be careful when you answer the phone. You can't recognize your mother either. You need a miraculous recovery by Monday so you need to start remembering stuff pretty quick. DON'T REMEMBER THAT ITS VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

Leave town. Suddenly get a phone call that calls you out of town now. It needs to be urgent. You need to leave without explanation. Call her and give her updates on whatever situation you have concocted. It is good to pick some disaster from work. It is not good to say it is the illness of a real person. A real person might just call.

You could tell the truth. You could take your beating. You could apologize. You could do the right thing and cook her a meal at home. You could give her money and tell her to do anything she wants. However, if this is what you did last year, you really are in big, big trouble!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stop Complaining and Notice What You Have

I was at the airport last night picking up someone's luggage around 10:30 PM. I complained mercilessly that the airline had sent luggage from a later flight and left the luggage for the people I was picking up at their destination. The airline sent it on five and a half hours later. I didn't like having to go out to the airport again. The airline would have delivered it if we were willing to wait. About the same time that I was complaining a Continental flight was crashing in New York. Luggage was the least of their troubles. Their families would have loved to have my problem as their biggest problem of the night.

I seem to see my problems as bigger than anything else in the world. My inconveniences are more troublesome than others who have true handicaps. I take my problems pull them closely to my eyes and block out all others problems.

I fail to notice what I have. I wear glasses or contacts. I hate wearing them but it sure beats being blind. There are those who are blind who would love to wear corrective lenses if they could see.

My car is old. I was doing a funeral recently when the man directing traffic said, "Wow, you drive an old one." Yes, I do. It runs and its paid for. There are people all over the world who would love to own my car. One of the nice things about it is that I never have to worry about someone putting a scratch on it in a parking lot. If they did, I would never be able to find the scratch!

The fact that there are others worse off than you doesn't mean you shouldn't be ambitious. We should always strive to better ourselves and our surroundings. We should work for the promotion, fix up our houses and eventually drive better cars. At the same time, we should be thankful for what we have now.

There are so many things to be thankful for when you really think about it. Thinking this way is good for your attitude. I am blessed. God is good. Life is good, too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Created for Something Great

So, you are born, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, raise the kids, educate the kids, work some more, play with the grandkids, retire and die. Have you ever thought that there has to be more to life than this? Have you ever thought that you were created for something great?

You were created to live forever. Forever, however, comes with transitions. You were in your mother's womb. It seemed to be a nice place. It had all you ever needed but you were ejected from that place to live in this world. You got used to this world. It seemed to be a place you would like to hold onto. But, someday you will be ejected from this world, too.

This world is very important. It is in this world that you make a difference in your next place. If you trust in Jesus, you will go to heaven. You will live forever with God. Yes, but God never intended His people to merely wait until they would be with Him in heaven. He expected us to be different and make a difference in other people's lives so that heaven would be full of these different people.

I thoroughly believe that God wants me to love people into His kingdom. I have tried the confrontational evangelism plans for years and found that more people are loved into the kingdom than taught or sales-talked into the kingdom. I taught several of these programs for years. I have gone door-to-door innumerable times spreading the gospel. Yet, my greatest success in seeing people come to Christ is through loving people into the kingdom.

Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time telling His disciples that they needed to love one another. He seemed to spend a lot of time talking about His' and His Father's love for people. He speaks of greatness as one who is the servant of all. He speaks of no greater love than laying down your life for your friends.

We often define greatness in power, fame and money. This is not God's definition. God defines greatness in sacrifice, love and service. This means that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven may be the grandmother who has loved her family so well that they all know Christ and serve Him. It may be the janitor of the school who serves the people at the school as if he is serving Christ. His impact will be greater than the billionaire. His effectiveness will last forever.

Yes, we are all created for something great. We have to put down everything this world calls great in order to truly be great.

Today, I make the decision to be great. Today, I decide I will love people. Today, will make a difference in forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

I am amazed at the computer geeks. They seem to have figured out everything about everything.

I recently bought some software that was priced lower than I could get it anywhere else. I wanted to know if it was pirated. I don't want to steal, even from Microsoft, so I checked the legitimacy of the license.

I googled my concern and got several websites which told me how to fake the license so that I could use pirated software. Some even had freeware programs written so that a new license number could be generated to allow the software to receive updates as if it were legitimate.

I wondered, "Why do these guys do this stuff? What is in it for them?" The answer is not that they get anything out of it nor will I ever understand their motivation. They are geeks. They don't sleep, eat or converse like normal humans (normal= everyone who is not a geek). Their motivation is built within themselves.

The geeks who were left behind on the athletic field are the new super jocks of the electronic world we live in. They are hacking everything that has to do with zeros and ones. They are manipulating the world to revolve around themselves. They are so far ahead of the normals that we don't have any idea what they have done nor how they did it. Some times we can't even see the purpose in doing what they have done. Didn't I say they were geeks?

The world is going to the geeks. Some day we will have a geek president. He will speak to the geek nation who will understand his language. The rest of us will be put in nursing homes which will be self maintained by software and hardware created by geeks. So, I guess I had better start being nice to the geeks now!

The geek president will say, "00011010001001001!

And the people will respond, "00011010001001001!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Do You Do When Everything Goes Bad?

We all have some bad days. Bad days are when you get a flat tire on the way to work as the rain pours or you have someone tell you off when you thought you were doing something really special for them. Those are bad days.

Every once in a while everything goes wrong. You lose your job; the car breaks down, your child is on drugs, you find out someone you care about has cancer and your spouse leaves you after piling up a bunch of bills. It seems that everything is going wrong. What can you do about it?

First, you should ask yourself whether or not you believe God cares about you. Of course, I know He does. If you come to that same conclusion you should pray about each of these things. Throw those problems upon Him. He wants them. He will carry you through the time.

You should ask for wisdom. Some problems must be lived through. Others can be averted. Make sure you continue to ask Him for directions until you receive an answer. Do whatever He says without delay. Some times the very act of having something that God wants you to do will make things better all by itself.

You may not be able to make your problems go away but you can make them better. If your spouse has left you can get with others who have had the same thing happen to them. This connection will reveal that you can make it through this time. If you think your house is about to be repossessed you can go to specialists to help keep that from happening. Many disasters can be avoided if you take steps to make them better rather than thinking they are totally unsolvable.

Research your problems. Know as much as you can about that problem. Learning from many sources will help you discern what will work and what won't. It will help you refuse "help" that is coming from someone who simply wants to take advantage of you. It will reveal common misconceptions of your problem that your friends will share. They want to help but often they are trying to do so with what they have heard. They have never been in your shoes. They don't always give the best solutions.

Join a group that helps with problem. If your child is on drugs find a Narcotics Anonymous group and make their meetings. Join a cancer survivors group to help sort out your feelings. Getting around others who have your problem helps you sort out some answers among others. Social interaction is important when everything goes wrong.

Don't expect a white knight to rescue you. Most of the things you must do must be done by you. Make sure that you are busy working on the problem. Sitting at home waiting to win the lottery will just make you older.

Realize that it may take some time to get out of the problem. It is not an impossible problem to solve. It will take effort and a lot of prayer.

Each day continue to talk with God. He loves you more than anyone you know. He will ultimately supply whatever you really need.

Never give up. Not ever, ever, ever. Make this your resolve and you will not go into the depression that will make things so much worse.

Lastly, remember the last solved problem that you thought was impossible. Do this with each of your problems and you will see that they don't look like the big, bad giants you once thought they were.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Life Is Precious; Don't Waste It

Two of my best friends in all the world both got colon cancer under the age of 50. The first's colon perforated from the cancer. He had surgery to remove about a foot of the colon and went through chemotherapy. He went skiing with one of his daughters last week.

The second's cancer was discovered after it had metastasized into his liver. He went through chemotherapy, too. His name is Doug. He died yesterday.

Neither of these friends' lives are wasted. They have both done amazing things for the Lord. The first has more to do. Doug completed his journey on this earth.

Doug has a heart for youth. He was more than a member in any church he attended. He was straight forward with youth and many of them will be in heaven someday because of him.

Doug has a heart for Scotland. He went on a mission trip there in the early 90's and God spoke this into Doug's heart. He led numerous mission trips to Scotland. He allowed many of them to come back to the States to live with him. I have no idea how many people from Scotland will be in heaven because of Doug.

He didn't waste his life. He lived it for the Lord. I think of the story of Enoch from Genesis 5:24. "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Some have said that Enoch's walk with the Lord was so close that God said to him, "Say, it's closer to My House than it is to your's; why don't you come home with Me?"

I think that' what happened with Doug yesterday. He went home with God. He had done everything he was supposed to do.

I am not saying that doing everything you can will make you die early. I am saying that some people will have great regrets when they die because they wasted their lives. It won't be how many parties you have attended, how many fast cars you have owned, how big your house is or whether you have become famous that will make a difference. It will be what you have done with the most precious gift you have been given.

Life; make it count!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Do I Really Love Jesus?

I wanted to write whether you loved Jesus but that wouldn't do. I must ask this question of myself. There are several qualifications of a revealing love. I don't have love if I don't have them. I'll use the example of my relationship with my wife to see if I have true love.

Love must be expressed in a way that reveals love to the individual. I may wash my wife's car every Saturday to express my love for her. She may not see it as love because I have gotten us deep in debt and taken away her security. In fact, she may know that the car is about to be repossessed because of my irresponsible behavior. I washed the car. "So what?!" she replies.

The expression of love must be consistent. I can't be faithful to my wife on everyday but Saturdays and say that I really love her. The fact that this is a majority of the time makes no difference to her. The pain I cause will negate all the other expressions of love

Real love is always getting deeper. This comes from knowing the other person more. I know that my wife doesn't like for me to surprise her. She likes to get used to an idea even if it is one that will take a long time to accomplish. I know that I shouldn't take her to certain restaurants. She can't stand exotic foods. I know that I need to do certain things around the house that make her feel loved. Love gets deeper in its expression. Commitment grows. Obligation grows too.

Real love takes time. You want to spend time with your wife if you love her. This is something that you do together. It involved communication. That means both of you talk and listen. It means celebration. You celebrate the moments because they are precious.

Jesus said that we should do what He told us to if we love Him. That should be consistent. It should take time. It is not always convenient. It is done together with Him. It is celebrating the relationship.

Do I really love Jesus? I want to say so but I must admit honestly, I am still working on it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The End of the World

I hear that the end of the world is in sight. People continue to use scare tactics on us all to get us to do things. Don't they know that you can only "cry wolf" for so long? Eventually, there will be a real crisis and we will think it is the histrionics of a deluded media.

I understand that global warming is going to cook us all before long. (It was eighteen degrees when I got in my car this morning. I wanted a little global warming at the time.) Yet, there are many scientists who don't believe it comes from us. History records that the earth has gone through cycles for a very long time. Many scientists were telling us that we were about to enter a new ice age in the early 70's. There are scientists in Australia who have some convincing evidence that the earth has been cooling for the past ten years.

The major media seems to support the global warming idea. Politicians and many scientist are saying that there will be a total climate change by the end of the century. They are claiming that carbon emissions are the reason. How did they come to that conclusion? What about those who were claiming we were going into an ice age a few years ago? Wouldn't the increase of carbon emissions steadily cause global warming? If so, why would there be evidence of cooling up until the 70's and again now? I don't get it.

We have been warned about passing a stimulus bill. If that doesn't happen by any given date total disaster will envelope our nation. Those dates come and go and nothing happens. Yes, more people lose their jobs. More businesses are going out of business, but this stimulus bill has so much pork in it that the cholesterol build up will cause us all to have bypass surgery!

Maybe we do need a stimulus bill. Just don't try to sell it to me with scare tactics.

Over the years I have listened to the scare tactics. I was told that I shouldn't eat eggs. One more egg would take my life. Later, I am told I must eat eggs. Unless I eat an egg today, I am a goner. What am I to believe? When will I stop listening to the scare tactics?

Surely, there are times when I must listen. Yet, I wonder if I need to smell smoke if I am told that the building is on fire? The question is: Do I trust the person who is telling me I need to react?

I have an absolute obligation to act if I trust the media and politicians. Their continued inaccuracies don't mean they must be wrong but it does make me check out their assertions.

God has given us a responsibility to take care of this world. We do not need to pollute it but we must also know that He has an effect on the world as well. He moves people to act responsibly. He doesn't need scare tactics to do so.

God has a love for us too. He created this world for us. He will take us through any crisis. He moves people to act responsibly. He doesn't need scare tactics to do so.

I'm sorry but I just don' t believe its the end of the world. I believe that tomorrow God will be in heaven. He will not have gotten up from His throne. He will still know everything and have the ability to change anything. He will still be loving and calling people into action.

So, be responsible. Listen to God. Do what He asks. And don't worry- Yes, He told us that too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why Should We Listen to Hollywood?

I don't know what it is like to be famous. I'll bet its not as glamorous as we would think. You probably get isolated with other famous people who think like you. Maybe you want to make your mark on the world and realize that entertainment isn't really making that impact.

Many of the people in Hollywood take up causes. They have the money and fame to do so. They even have the time. They work very hard when they have a project to complete but many of them get in trouble when idle. Taking up a cause may be therapy to them.

Their own personal decisions in their causes are none of my business. Whether I should listen to them is. I have to discern whether or not this is a valid cause. Their money and fame has nothing to do with validity. I have to determine whether or not they are worthy of a hearing.

Many of them have not managed their personal lives very well. They have been married more times than a Tom cat. They have wasted a great deal of their money. Many times they expect me to contribute out of my essential money to pay for a cause that they contribute from their discretionary money. In other words, their lifestyles are not changing one bit because of their cause. I have to wonder how committed they really are. They change partners when its convenient and give to causes when its convenient. It this just a cause that's convenient?

They have not always made good decisions in their project choices. Some of their movies will cause young people to want to emulate the character in that movie. These characters have changed right to wrong and wrong to right. Sex before marriage in movies is natural and right. Sex after marriage is the deviant act in a movie.

Some of the movies they are in are horrible. They didn't know that before they agreed to act in it. Either their agent or they decided this would be good for their career. It wasn't. This makes me question the cause they promote. If they didn't know the movie they chose was going to be bad, why should I believe the cause they choose to promote is going to be good? It may be good but I can't give the people in Hollywood a pass simply because they are rich and famous.

I have to ask if I believe the person really cares about the cause they are supporting. It could be a good way to get themselves in the news. A fading career may need a boost. Trying to be remembered when people are forgetting who you are may be a great reason to take up a cause. Remember they are actors. They can sound very sincere. That's what they do when they are working.

As for me, I would rather listen to a Mother Theresa when it comes to a cause. She laid down her life for what she believed. Her whole life reflected this. She sacrificed to live it- it was never out of excess. She was consistent. She never pretended. She wasn't looking for fame or money and it wasn't fame or money that made us notice her.

Should we listen to Hollywood? Maybe, but is should never be because they are Hollywood. The cause needs to stand on its on. Do the research before agreeing with someone famous.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Scammed! Scammed! Scammed!

It finally happened to me. I got scammed with an online purchase last night. I should have known better but I let my guard down and unscrupulous people took advantage of me.

People often tell me that they are afraid to make an online purchase with a credit card. I have had no fears. I have bought two cars online. I regularly find good deals on purchases from many reputable companies who give me more communication and service the purchase better than the local big box stores. I have been purchasing online for nearly ten years and haven't regretted a purchase until now.

I needed a new operating system for a computer I am building. I looked at some older versions of Windows and even played around with using Xandros but settled on Windows XP. The programs I already use are compatible with XP and I just didn't want the learning curve.

I thought I found the best deal in the world at $54 for the Pro version. The computer hung on the purchase screen. It said, "Our Online Purchasing is Secure." I, then, noticed that the site was absolutely not secure. (The little http:// needs to have an "s" at the end for a secure site.) I backed out of the site as quickly as possible. I googled the company name and found numerous complaints and shady business practices. If I ever receive the software (It may be coming from Pakistan!) it will probably be pirated.

So, I called my credit card company right away to stop the transaction. The scam software company had already completed the deal with my credit card. (They had plenty of time since I had to go through the complete credit card voice menu before I could talk with someone.) I have sixty days to file a dispute with my credit card company. Visa told me that there is nothing they can do right now. I have to get the software and send it back. Of course, I read how others had been scammed. They said that the software doesn't come for weeks, if at all. By then, the company may be out of business and I will be out of luck.

I have wondered if I should cancel that credit card. Scamming is just another way of stealing. Why wouldn't they sell my credit card number to others? They have all the information they need to continue to make purchases.

Be careful when you make online purchases. Check out the company before making a purchase. Read everything others have written about that company. One disgruntled customer does not make a bad reputation. However, when all you read is bad. . . . Notice whether or not you are making the purchase on a secure site. Check the product you have received to see if it is legitimate. (If I ever receive the software, I will be checking with Microsoft to see if it is pirated.)

And, remember, if it seems to good to be true . . . well, yeah, I already knew that too!

Monday, February 2, 2009

You Don't Deserve Forgiveness

People often come to me lacking peace. They have done something they neither feel forgiven for nor can they forgive themselves. They are living under this cloud which continually reminds them that they have fallen far short of the expectations they had of themselves. It is a terrible way to live.

You don't deserve forgiveness. No one owes it to you. You cannot earn it either. No compensation for what you have done will erase your sin. Forgiveness is an act of grace that God has given to anyone who wants it.

You sinned just as everyone in the world has. There are no perfect people. We have all sinned. We have all needed God's grace. There are no holier than thou people even if they think they are. We all have needed God's grace.

Grace is a gift. That's why its called grace. God sent His only Son into the world to die on a cross to fulfill the requirement for sin. The wages of sin is death- Jesus paid that price so that God could give His gift. God gives this to all who trust in Him. We give our lives to God and He gives us forgiveness forever.

Do you think that the reason people have such a problem with forgiveness could come from a lack of giving their lives to God? Some people think the price is too high to receive God's forgiveness. Trusting in God means you will obey Him and receive all that He has for you. Part of what He has for you is complete forgiveness.

One reason some people don't feel forgiven is because they have never repented of what they did. The pattern is always the same. They deny what they have done until it is no longer possible to deny it. They minimize what they have done by not telling the whole truth. Then, they blame others for what they did. There is no feeling of forgiveness as long as there is no repentance.

Sometimes people are afraid they will repeat their sin. They hold this sin over themselves for a very long time because they are afraid that by forgiving themselves, they will commit the sin again. They punish themselves for years or even for the rest of their lives even though God has already forgiven them.

Trusting in God means you also trust in His ability to keep you from past sins. That is why confession is so important. You bare yourself before God so that you can receive His strength to flee from temptation.

Once you have true forgiveness you can't help but forgive others for what they have done to you. You know they don't deserve your forgiveness any more than you deserved God's. That's why you must give it.

I watched a commercial last night with a lawyer claiming he would get his clients money if they have been injured. He said, "I will not forget! I will not forgive!" I thought, "I don't want him to be my lawyer. I don't even want him to live in my neighborhood." How can you live with yourself if you never forgive? How can you know your sins, know forgiveness and not forgive?

No, we don't deserve forgiveness. Thank God we don' t have to.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

So, You're Going to Win the Publishers' Clearinghouse Prize Today?

It's Superbowl Sunday! The greatest prize of the year will be awarded. The Lombardi Trophy--NO! The Publishers' Clearinghouse Prize! Soon $10 Million will be yours!

Before you start going to the window near halftime to see that van pull up to your house, you might want to know your odds of willing.

You have a 1 in 505,000,000 chance of winning. Publisher's Clearinghouse will not hide that from you. Sending in two of the entry forms doesn't up your chances much. So, let's see what it takes to have a 50-50 chance.

You will have to mail in 505 million entry forms. Every day starting tomorrow you will have to mail in 1.383 million entry forms until next year's prize is awarded. Each of these has to be sent in a separate envelope. (Imagine the paper cuts!) You will have to mail 16 every second of every 24 hour day.

Since each one is sent by first class mail at a cost of $.42, each day's mailing cost will be $581,096 for a total cost of $212,100,040 for the year. Remember this is to win $10,000,000.

I guess your odds aren't that good nor can you really make them that good. You could still win if you have sent in your entry form. It is possible but so improbable that it approaches the miracle status.

Therefore, at halftime I will not be going to the window to make sure the special van can find my house. You'll find me in the bathroom.