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Preview: Moving Forward ... From The Shape I Am In

Moving Forward ... From The Shape I Am In

In her graduation day speech to my senior class, one of my college professors challenged us to make each day better than the day before. By providing an account of things I learn and things I want to keep track of, this blog will record my attempt to do j

Updated: 2015-08-20T02:07:23.585-04:00




Take a moment before reading further … and think about the people who you love.Most of us probably thought of family members and friends with whom we really “connect”. We may have also thought of some of the folks we work with or attend church with, and maybe some of our neighbors. Maybe thoughts of folks who do nice things for us crossed our minds. And, if we were feeling especially altruistic, we might also have thought of people who are hurting in the world … those who are in poverty or in pain or even enslaved.Those are all great … folks we should love. And most of us will say that love is a powerful thing … that it changes hearts and minds, and that it can change the world.But, if love is so powerful, why, when we think about those we love, do we think of the folks we have reason to love and the folks we have contact with on a daily basis? And, at our kindest, we think of people who we chances are will never ever come in contact with. One must ask, too, whether that is really love or simply compassion.In any event, this all sounds to me like we practice a lot of “safe love” … loving those either who love us back or who we will never meet.But think about this … if the power of love is undeniable, what happens when we extend it to those who we really have no reason to love? What happens when we extend it to those who look different than us, think different than us … and even to those who might hurt us? Isn’t love a lot more powerful … a lot more exciting … a little more dangerous, when we take it outside those who love us and those whom we will never meet?I will quickly say that my source of love comes from God. I think of God’s love for us (“For God so love the world that He gave us His only begotten son…”). I also think of Jesus’ command to love others as we love ourselves. And I think in general of Jesus’ consistently showing love even to those who many thought He could not possibly love.But what if, for you, your source of love does not come from faith? Chances are that it comes from some sort of inner moral compass that just tells you it’s good to love others … to recognize their worth and value, and extend that feeling toward them in the form of love. And that’s okay. I don’t think that those who put their faith in God have captured the market on love … in fact, sometimes we mess up love pretty badly.At this point, let me pose one other question: What does love really mean anyway? I kind of break it down into three areas and, interestingly, they mirror the Holy Trinity. Love, to me is:1) The ability to gently and with utmost care and respect, speak the power of Truth into the lives of others when appropriate. This, to me, is God because He is Truth. And it’s an area that Christians often mess up … speaking Truth, or something we sometimes like to disguise as Truth, is easier done in a judgmental way than from a platform of genuine love and concern. That messes things up quickly.2) Mercy … or call it compassion. This to me is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives … naturally knowing when we are called to do something nice for another human being, or to respond to them in a time of need. This is a powerfully visible showing of love.3) Justice … This is the part of love I think of when I think of Jesus. He loved people, and taught us to love others, not because they were related to Him or because they had done something nice for Him. He loved others because, like Himself, they were children of God. He knew that our worth and value come inherently because God loves us … and if we’re to carry God’s love to the world, then we must be able to show that love to all others. That includes those who don’t think or look or act like ourselves … and even those who want to hurt us.These three components of love … Truth, Mercy, and Justice … create a strange tension sometimes. In particular, creating a good combination and balance of Truth and Justice can be a real challenge for us … and something we don’t always get right the first time. But, when it [...]



It's quite easy in this life to just get overwhelmed. We are constantly bombarded with demands for our time and attention. Those can be demands from our children, jobs, and spouse. Or they can be demands from today's information age which call us to always research and learn and spend time in various ways.

It's not unusual to hear folks say that they are pulled in too many directions, and that there are not enough hours in the day. It's not a good feeling and we've all experienced it. It forces us to try to do more ... to sleep less ... to take less care of ourselves. All of this in an effort to keep up with the demands of living in the 21st century.

I'm not sure there is an easy answer to any of this. Fact is, those demands will continue to be there and will even increase. Fact is, we do have certain responsibilities to family, jobs, community and our selves. Falling back on these responsibilities lessens our wholeness by making us feel guilty and, at its worse, even unfulfilled.

The key, and I am not very good at this, seems to be in prioritizing things -- getting the big rocks in first. If we don't get the big rocks into our buckets first, then the bucket fills up with sand and gravel and the important things must be left out.

But I think that, despite the importance of prioritizing, there's something more important here and that is realizing that our heavenly father loves us and yearns for us. As we seek Him and His direction on our lives, He will show us what our big rocks are -- what those things are that must be highest priority in our lives.

But, even bigger than that, He provides us our self worth. Once we know that our worth comes to us inherently and unquestioningly because the Creator of all things created us, we can begin to make sure that the things we do in this world are about helping others ... about making the world a better place. That's a whole lot different than doing things that are about making others happy.

Of course, there will be overlap between things that help others and things that make others happy but that realization and awareness that we do the things we do not because we want to serve our own egos but because we are called to carry God's love into the world -- the One who loves us calls us to share His love with the world -- things change. Our mindsets and paradigms shift when we operate in this crazy busy world from a position of doing it for ourselves to a position of being a conduit of God's love, mercy and grace.

May today we all find ourselves as that conduit -- that vessel -- that works in the world in which we're blessed to live with the calling that we're here to help and love on others.

God living in and through us changes everything.



The following was written by Peter Morici, a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.Thursday, economists expect the Commerce Department to report the deficit on international trade in goods and services was $47.2 billion in July. That is lower than the $49.9 billion registered in June, because many analysts expect stagnating wages are slowing import demand.Still too large, the trade deficit subtracted 3.4 percentage points from second quarter GDP growth, and threatens to derail an already weak U.S. recovery, throw the economy into a double dip recession, and dramatically increase unemployment.Without the second quarter jump in imports-led by consumer goods from China and boosted by an undervalued yuan and export subsidies President Obama neglects-GDP growth would be close to 5 percent, hundreds of thousands of Americans would be finding jobs, and Democrats would be poised to retain their majorities in the House and Senate.President Obama and Speaker Pelosi chose to ignore the undervalued yuan and other Chinese subsidies that result in an outsized trade deficit and millions of lost jobs across the industrial Midwest and South.Instead, the President and Speaker of the House obsess about taxing the rich and social issues, and appease China on trade and the environment, as the United States sinks into an economic quagmire similar to Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.Notably, Britain in 1950 was on par with Germany and France. Twenty years later, it enjoyed living standards half its continental rivals.Each month, more and more Americans lose decent jobs, can’t find comparable employment, and then settle for lower wages, as Americans enjoy the British post-war folly of an overvalued currency and distracted leaders.Simply, dollars that go abroad to purchase U.S. imports cannot be spent on U.S. goods and services. When those dollars do not return to purchase U.S. exports, jobs are lost and not replaced. A rising trade deficit slows growth and increases unemployment.Free trade based on a balance between exports and imports helps nations specialize in what they do best, grow and prosper. Rising trade deficits, financed on borrowed money to cover profligate government spending, erode prosperity and compromise sovereignty.But for the increase in the trade gap, GDP would have grown 5.2 percent, and unemployment would fall to 7.5 by early 2011, and less than 5 percent by 2013.Oil and consumer goods from China account for nearly the entire trade deficit, and sustained economic recovery is not possible without dramatic changes in energy and trade.President Obama’s efforts to halt offshore drilling and otherwise curtail conventional energy supplies-premised on false assumptions about the immediate potential of electric cars and alternative energy sources-threaten to make the United States even more dependent on imported oil.Detroit can build many more attractive and efficient gasoline-powered vehicles now, and a national policy to accelerate the replacement of the existing fleet would reduce imports, spur growth and create jobs.To keep Chinese products artificially inexpensive on U.S. store shelves and discourage U.S. exports into China, Beijing undervalues the yuan by 40 percent. It accomplishes this by printing yuan and selling those for dollars to augment the private supply of yuan and private demand for dollars. In 2009, those purchases were about $450 billion or 10 percent of China’s GDP, and about 35 percent of its exports of goods and services.In 2010, the trade deficit with China reduces U.S. GDP by more than $400 billion or nearly three percent. Unemployment would be falling and the U.S. economy recovering more rapidly, but for the trade imbalance with China and Beijing’s protectionist policies.In June, China indicated it will adopt a more flexible exchange rate policy, but that has not resulted in the needed realignment in exchange rates.China recognizes President Obama is not likely to counter Chinese mercantilism with strong, effectiv[...]



My study time this morning (which, don't get me wrong, happens far too few mornings) made me think a lot about the attitude with which I approach each day ... and each person and situation I encounter. Will I approach the day with worldly thoughts of what I can get out of it for myself? Will I approach each person and situation with expectations of what they or it can do for me? Will I set myself up for ultimate frustration when things don't go my way or people don't behave as I expect?

We talk about how, as Christians, we are called to be Jesus' hands and feet. Yet Jesus came to serve not to be served. He came with a focus on others and an unequalled selflessness. His thought processes and his wishes and dreams were not of this world but of God's Kingdom.

However, when I go about my daily business, which am I really more concerned about -- this world or God's Kingdom?

It is a huge shift to be more concerned abour God's Kingdom than our own kingdom. But yet when we live with the heart and mind of God, we operate on an entirely different level. When we take a God's Kingdom approach to things, frustrations and worries of this world are overshadowed by the glory of the next.

It's hard to imagine much more of a worse end to life on earth than what Jesus went through. Yet at the end of His life, sure He was troubled, but yet I don't believe He was frustrated. He knew that ultimately the pains of this world were not what He was to be saved from -- not what we are to be saved from. But rather He was being saved to and we are being saved to something far more glorious.

When our focus is on God's Kingdom over our own earthly kingdom, our attitude shifts ... our focus goes to serving others rather than having others serve us. And when we do that, disappointments and frustrations diminish.

As the following scripture points out, when we do the right things -- when we focus on building God's Kingdom rather than advancing our own earthly-bound desire, then things change ... not just for ourselves but for all we encounter.

Isaiah 55:8-13 and 56:1 (NIV)

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

1 This is what the LORD says:
"Maintain justice
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.



Good morning! Well, not sure how long this will last but I think I am going to take a renewed stab at this blogging thing. After taking, oh, I don't know ... pretty much about three years off, I figure I should be rested up.I have been doing some reading through Isaiah recently. I usually try to read the whole book of Isaiah every week but I had missed a few weeks. (yeah ... right)Anyway, what's pulled me back to it is a process we have been going through at work. We're trying to figure out what it means to be a "Kingdom Business" -- that is a business that realizes and consistently lives into the unique opportunity that God gives it to carry the message of His redemptive healing and restoring love and grace into the world.Trying to live into that is pretty big stuff. I am sure we will mess up plenty but one way to help us strive and do our best is to keep this goal front and center. And, for me, one way to do that is to change the name of the company. Seriously. So, we have been considering options and one we're giving serious consideration to is Isaiah Industries. Our various division names would remain as they have been but they would be identified as being part of Isaiah Industries.Why Isaiah? Because I love the message of restoration and hope that comes out particularly in the second half of his prophecy. As I look back on our company, without going into a lot of stories, restoration has been a common theme. Sometimes we miss opportunities but we consistently want to have a positive and healing impact on all whom we encounter. I think that it is part of the ongoing unique calling that God has placed on us as an organization.In my recent look at Isaiah, I was stopped this morning by Chapter 51 ... a portion of which is below.For me, Chapter 51 was a great reminder that no matter how small or weak we may feel as part of the body of Christ ... no matter how overwhelming this world may seem ... God is always faithful to us and we have His dynamite power. The God who parted the Red Sea ... the God who restores lives and even entire nations ... is the same God we worship today. His power, His faithfulness, His promise ... they are all unfailing and unchanging.When we remind ourselves of this, does it not put a different perspective on our calling, our potential, and our responsibility? 1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD : Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; 2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. 3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. 4 "Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. 5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. 7 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. 8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations." 9 Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? 10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a [...]



My friend Ed Ball sent me this picture this morning. He took it along with others yesterday at the traveling Vietnam Wall which has been visiting Sidney when my son, Evan, and others from his school were there. The other boys in the picture are Ed's son, EJ, and also Jerrod Peterson.

How humbling it is to see these young men standing at the wall looking at names of men born about 50 years before they were born, many of whom only lived to be 6 - 10 years older than these boys are today.

While some folks may point to the cost of these lives ... and it was an enormous cost ... hopes and dreams and aspirations and abilities that were never fully realized on this earth, I look to the enormous value of these lives. How many people were portected, how was our society and the world shaped by what they did ... how many people were saved who then went on to realize their hopes and drams and aspirations and abilities?

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13, NIV)

While this scripture refers primarily to our Lord Jesus' sacrifice for us, it is also respectful of any times someone lays down their life for another. But let's keep in mind it does not mean just physical death ... laying down our lives comes also through our service to others ... through our selfless giving ... and through our sharing of God's redemptive grace and glory so that others might spend eternity with Him.

Whose life will I lay mine down for today?



Does anyone else sort of cringe when those times of year roll around that you have to buy a greeting card for a parent? Whether's it's their birthday or Mother's or Father's Day, you know that you're in for an agonizing time standing in front of the card rack at WalMart. Is anyone else like that?

I put a great deal of power in words. As a result, when I read over cards, I can be reading one which I think is perfect and then I come across one little seemingly insignificant word in it and I think "Well, this person was never that to me" or "That's not them at all" and I end up putting the card back and searching some more.

Parents aren't perfect. Some, from the child's perspective are downright lousy. Some worse than that. We can be too critical of our kids. We can try to force them to be what we wanted to be. We can be too pre-occupied with the other things of our lives -- sometimes jobs, sometimes hobbies, sometimes addictions. Sometimes we simply can't even figure out how to love our children in healthy ways. Sometimes the weight of our own lives is too much for us to bring anyone else in.

But, as a dad, I can assure everyone of one thing. Regardless of the lives we lead, that bond that a parent feels for their child is there and it is incredibly strong. It is after all modeled after the love that our heavenly Father feels for us.

I believe that, because of that bond, given what they have to work with, every parent does the best they can. One could wonder then, if the bond is there, why do parents sometimes let go? And we all sometimes let go ... whether for a lifetime, a few years, a few months or weeks or even an hour. We all sometimes let go.

But in the midst of that, even in the most extreme cases of letting go for a lifetime, even cutting themselves off from the child they love, there is a still a parent who, a couple of times a year, is pulling out the faded and worn photograph of the baby they once knew ... and wondering how things went so awry ... wondering why, in order to hopefully give their child a better future than they could give them, they had to walk away.

That is the bond that I believe all parents feel for their children.

It's a lousy analogy but Jesus felt abandoned by His father on the cross. He cried out ... but ultimately He knew that the future assigned to Him by His father was inevitable.

And so He went into the future. God didn't mess up but we earthly parents do. And as children of parents who also messed up, we have to go into the future ... knowing that our parents did the best they could with the hand life dealt them ... and knowing that we're going to mess up, too. It may be for a lifetime or for an hour ... but we're going to mess up.

But the bond is there ... Just as God holds it for us, we feel it intensely for our kids ... our parents -- regardless of how we can look at them and think "Why didn't they do this?" or "Why did they do that?" -- felt it for us ... and ultimately, even though it may not look like it or feel like it to our kids, we all do the best we can ... because we love them.

I do not mean to shortchange the life-altering pain that parents can inflict on children. I believe we've all been there. But ultimately they felt that love and that bond for us ... they just didn't have the ability to always cope with nor live into it in the best possible ways. We're no different.



Take a look at 2 Peter 1:5-11 ... here it is from The Message:

So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.So, friends, confirm God's invitation to you, his choice of you. Don't put it off; do it now. Do this, and you'll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And here it is from the NIV:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This passage speaks to that change of heart as we give our lives over to God. Our actions and reactions change as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit flowing through us.

Yet we also know that despite this transformation of our heart, we still possess free will. The Lord may dwell in us but we through free will can stop His love and grace from flowing through us, much like turning off a water faucet.

The end of this scripture, though, is a reminder that we must strive to live into the life God intended for us ... to be that conduit ... to be that never ending flow of refreshing water complete with knowledge,self control, kindness and love.

The way I look at it, this is a spiritual discipline that requires attention ... and that we take one day at a time.



The following was written by Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade:

“I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”(Galatians 2:20)

After many years of working with thousands of Christians, I am convinced that a person cannot enjoy the supernatural life – which is a believer’s heritage in Christ – apart from the proper balance between Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others out of the overflow of an obedient, Spirit-filled life.
We need to be able not only to experience this great adventure with Christ ourselves, but also to share this good news with others.

A word of caution and reminder is in order at this point. We become spiritual and experience power from God and become fruitful in our witness as a result of faith and faith alone.

The Bible clearly teaches that “the just shall live by faith” Romans 1:17. However, it is equally important to know that good works are the result of faith – “trusting in the Son of God” – and unless there are “good works” there is not faith, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).

Many Christians are confused on this point. They think of works (Bible study, prayer and other spiritual disciplines) as the means to, rather than the results of, the life of faith. They spend much time in these activities, seeking God’s favor and blessing.

They may even attempt to witness for Christ and to obey the various commands of God, thinking that by these means they will achieve supernatural living. But they remain defeated, frustrated, powerless and fruitless.

As you are filled with the Holy Spirit – “Christ living in me” – and walk in His power by faith, the Bible becomes alive, prayer becomes vital, your witness becomes effective and obedience becomes a joy.



I watched about two thirds of the president’s speech last night and then ended up switching to DVR’d American Idol with my family. I have since read the speech. It seemed really long. I also was having a tough time watching Pelosi and Biden. They were just so awkward for me to watch. Biden seemed confused and as if he was reading the teleprompter and skipped ahead and started clapping at the wrong spots. Pelosi seemed … well, yeah … unnaturally exuberant. Not sure what else to say there. It was just uncomfortable and awkward for me to watch them and because of that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I don’t know why exactly but I was just embarrassed for them.The president made a lot of promises last night. It’s probably no surprise but I am bothered by that. I like less government, not more. I believe that Jesus taught us to deal with and respect those put in charge because their authority is because God allows them to have it. But yet I don’t see where Jesus ever told us to expect anything from government. He taught us to love and care for and minister to each other. So, I get suspicious when government seems to want to do for us the job that Jesus taught us to do for ourselves. I think that turns God’s Kingdom into government kingdom. That bothers me greatly so, yeah, anytime I hear what government is going to do for the people, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Last night was no exception to that.But regardless of whether it is a reversing of what I believe God intends, government can only do so much, and they have a history of not doing it well, in my opinion. So – those little hairs on the back of my neck? They really really stand up after a speech like last night’s.I liked the fact that the president tried to be personable in his speech. It seemed pretty forced at times but I still liked it. I didn’t understand why it seemed like he was talking only to congress and not to the people. One can argue that it is an address to congress and that is true but the fact that it is carried by the national media does make it an address to the people. I think he missed an opportunity to make the people feel better about themselves and their future. The people have made it pretty clear lately that many, like me, just don’t believe the government can do anything to help them. It would have been great if, after last night, viewers could have woke up this morning feeling inspired and refreshed and restored … and felt led to go out and change the world. I personally got none of that last night. If some folks did, though, that’s great! Let’s spread it around!Like I said, lots of promises were made last night. That is treading into dangerous territory for the president. I felt like some of the things he said just didn’t quite ring true last night but I’ll let the media fact checkers figure that out. They are already hard at work on it. President Obama did of course explain how much of our current problems he was saddled with when he came into office. No question about that but I hope this is the last time we hear it from him. However, when all of the promises made last night cannot be fulfilled, we will hear more about legacy and more about congress.I hope that last night can be a start to transparency and bipartisanship from this administration. We really have yet to see much of that.I love that the president is talking about small business but, and this isn’t just him but includes all of DC, they just don’t get what is needed. They talk about freeing up operational capital for businesses. As I have said before, for an already struggling business, that just digs the hole deeper. We need to face the reality that our nation’s businesses need to be smarter and better managed. We need to face that the world and the US economy have changed. So[...]



I had a team member recently ask me for a list of how to build great customer relationships. Following is what I put together. Wish I did a better job of living these out.

Upfront contracts … at all critical junctures in the relationship, confirm, verify and if appropriate document the expectations and responsibilities of both parties. This makes them feel in CONTROL.

Ask questions … ask more than you tell, listen more than you talk. Learn and know everything you can about the other party. (Mackay 66) This makes them FEEL GOOD.

Make it personal … out of what you know about them, make your relationship as rich and intimate as possible … talk about their kids, their dogs, even their hemorrhoids if that is what they want. This makes them REMEMBER YOU.

Connect the dots … make connections between what you know about them, what their needs are, and what you can provide. This brings VALUE to them.

Confirm … at the end of each contact with them, confirm what was discussed and what the next steps are. This keeps things ON TRACK.

Always deliver … do what you promise and more. This is your INTEGRITY.

Surprise them … contact them when they don’t expect it … be on the look out for things that might be of interest to them … romance them … send them flowers. This makes them SMILE.

Engage them … warmly and with a smile, even if you’re talking on the phone. People can hear a smile. This makes them WANT YOU.



I have been thinking a lot about boxes lately. I think it is our nature to put things in boxes. Boxes create order out of our confusion. They make us comfortable. If we’re tired of something, we close it up in its box and put it off to the side for awhile. This time of year, we use boxes to give gifts – all prepared for the recipient. In January (maybe later for some of us), we will use boxes to store away our Christmas decorations for next year. When something is closed up in a box, we don’t have to look at it, we don’t have to worry about it, and we don’t have to deal with it.Lately I have been thinking about boxes that aren’t physical boxes but are still boxes that we use to create order and not have to worry about things. The boxes I have been thinking about are the boxes that we put people in … no, not the pine boxes that come at the end of our days but instead boxes that categorize people. We box people according to the depth of relationship we want to have with them. We have people in “closest of friends” boxes where the walls easily come down. We have people in “business associate” boxes that we deal with only when it is beneficial for us to do so. We have people in “acquaintance” boxes who we say hello to and maybe a quick “how are you doing?” but we never go deeper than that. And, for all sorts of reasons, we even have “do not touch” and “do not open – ever!” boxes that we put some people in. Those are the folks who, for whatever reason, we decide we just don’t want the discomfort of dealing with so we box them up real good – even putting a lock on the box and throwing away the key.Yes, we put people in all types of boxes.But, what if, in 2010, we strive to tear open all of the boxes with wild abandon -- just like an excited six-year-old does on Christmas morning? What would that mean to us? Just as the six-year-old finds exciting new adventures inside of each gift box, could we do the same when we tear open the boxes that we like to put people in?A couple of thousand years ago, our heavenly father sent His only son because He wanted that sort of close relationship with us. He didn’t want us to be in the “on earth” box and Him to be in the “in heaven” box. He wanted us each to have a close, intimate, passionate relationship with Him. So, He tore open the box and sent us the gift of Jesus. And, while Jesus was here, He also broke open boxes. He could have spent His ministry years boxing people up. He could have created boxes for “Traitors,” “Liars,” “Thieves,” “Harlots,” “The Lame,” “The Blind,” and so many other things that would have kept others neatly arranged and separated from Himself – the Son of God. But He didn’t … because He wanted to love on each and every person He encountered. He continued that up to His dying breath here on earth as the One who sacrificed everything for everyone … out of love. And he does it today by not making boxes for “Me” or for “You”.What would happen if, in 2010, we copy what was shown us all those years ago? What if we quit boxing people up and instead strive to engage everyone in a close relationship? How much richer will our lives be? How much will we grow? How much will we learn? How much will we spread God’s love?Boxes cause misunderstandings. They cause fights and wars. They ruin relationships. They shield us from the wholeness and fullness which God intended for us to enjoy. We pray that, during this Christmas season, may we bask in the unboxed glory of His love for us … and may we make 2010 a year of un-boxing those around us – even when it makes us uncomfortable. Jesus didn’t come for His own comfort. Our lives are richer and fuller when we don’t dwell in our own comfo[...]



The following article was written by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries.

When my mom was forty-three years old, she developed skin cancer and died within four months of the first diagnosis. I was in my early twenties at the time and I remember forty-three seeming much older than it does now. As I approached the age of forty-three (hard to believe that's been seven years ago!) I also developed a case of the same skin cancer which took my mom's life. Fortunately, the detection and treatment of skin cancer has greatly improved and I am fine - praise God! But that event has given me reason to ponder many times over the last seven years: "What if this day was my last? Would I have any regrets?"

John the Baptist discovered the uncertainty of each moment of life as he sat in prison.

I guess they call me "John the Baptist" because I preached a message of repentance and baptized with water while pointing the way to Jesus (John 1:31-33). "The Baptist" isn't such a bad name. I could have been called "John the Wearer of Camel Hair" or "John the Eater of Locusts."

King Herod must have been mad at me for exposing his sin of marrying his brother's wife (Matthew 14:3-4). I sure wish I was back in the desert preaching, but God must have a plan for me here in prison. I think Herod actually likes me. He often listens to me talk and seems genuinely interested (Mark 6:20). It's pretty loud in the palace tonight. They must be having quite a party.

Matthew 14:6-10
"On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, 'Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.' The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison."

Wow, that was fast! No time to say good-bye or write letters to my friends - no time to even gather my thoughts - just, "lean over and put your neck on the block." I sure wish I would have.....

No one knows when they will breathe their last. We may have sixty years or sixty minutes; but no matter how long we have, it will seem to pass in an instant - It amazes me how fast life passes by. The time to place our saving faith in Jesus is NOW! The time to restore relationships and encourage others with the gospel is NOW! The time to enjoy our family is NOW! And the time to praise God for His blessings and grace is absolutely NOW!!

Each of us enters this day with things we wish we could change, decisions and words which have not been honoring to God. But each of us also enters this day with the ability to begin, right this very moment, to live a life which glorifies God in all we do. Let's begin today to live fully committed to following Christ. Let's give Him our ALL and live toward an end which will leave no regrets.



The following was written by Os Hillman. Really good stuff. What do I need to tgrust God with in order to break a stronghold that the world has on me, or I have on myself?

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4

The Bible says when Christ comes to live in your heart, old things are passed away, all things become new (see 2 Cor. 5:17). The Lord has put a new Spirit in us. Previously, I could not understand why so many of us who proclaimed Christ had such little impact on the kingdom of darkness. It seemed to me that our culture should be impacted much more if His children walked in the light as Jesus did. Jesus impacted His culture like no other man.

I saw many workplace believers, who proclaimed Christ, living no differently than a person who had not claimed Him as Lord. These men and women had a form of religion, but little power that reflected Christ's rule in their lives. Then one day God took me through a time of testing that led to a discovery of generational influences that impacted the way I viewed people and circumstances on a subconscious basis. I discovered this was a stronghold that had been implanted many generations earlier.

Because the stronghold operated on a subconscious level, it was not easily recognizable. Strongholds keep us from being free to reflect Christ in and through our lives because they require allegiance until they are dealt with. Strongholds can often be so hidden that we would not even identify them as evil. A stronghold of fear, control, rebellion, insecurity, idolatry, pride, or bitterness may be hidden until it is revealed through circumstances.

All strongholds are built in our lives as a result of seeking to meet one or more of seven basic needs God has created in us. Once we believe a lie that God cannot meet a need without our effort, we open our spirit to a stronghold. The more lies we believe, the more we invite these strongholds to take root in our lives. Are you ineffective in your Christian experience? Are there besetting sins that seem to recur in your life? You may find that satan has built a fortress in your heart that has been there many generations. You must ask God's forgiveness for entertaining this stronghold, and you must renounce it. Then as Christ renews your mind and heart, you will see Christ's power released in your life like never before.



We are quickly approaching the time when once again our local school levy will be up for vote. I feel inclined to go a little bit further with some of the thoughts I posted back in August.It’s very important whenever you are trying to market or sell anything that you really know what those to whom you are selling are thinking. If you don’t know what they are really thinking then unfortunately you end up sending them wrong messages which are often more hurtful than helpful.Having listened to those who have been vocal against the levy, I can assure you that what they are really saying is not any of the following:“We hate kids.”“We hate the future.”“We want the worst for our community.”Again, that is NOT what they are saying. However, the overriding message they have been hearing from those who support the levy has been geared toward fighting the above statements. So, internally, what they process sounds something like “Folks for the levy think I’m a horrible person who only cares about myself.”Um, just speaking as a guy who has spent his entire career in sales and marketing … putting this sort of thought into the heads of those you are trying to sell to … is NOT the way to get the sale.So, that brings me to the big question … if those against the levy are NOT saying they hate kids and the community, what are they saying? And, furthermore, how do we address what they are REALLY saying?Certainly there are many nuances and variations but generally speaking I am hearing two things from those who have been vocal against the levy. We need to look at those two things individually.First, I am hearing “I (or my family) is barely surviving as it is. I love kids … I love my community … but I simply cannot afford to give more money in taxes to it at this time.” So, how do we answer that concern? Really, it is very simple … with love, encouragement, support and hope.These are tough times – could not be worse times for passing a levy. Slowly and gradually, organizations are springing up to bring hope and encouragement to those who are hurting – to those without jobs, to those who have pulled back from community, and also to those who simply cannot make ends meet. The Network for Job Seekers is a good example. That group, at its core, is about strengthening individuals and families which in turn strengthens our community.My friend, Julie, is also starting up a group to pray for our community and its citizens. There are other organizations coming along or stepping up past efforts as well … I’d like to give space to them all here but I am already running horribly long on this.Everyone, if you’re supporting the levy, think about what you can do to reach out and bring hope to the hurting in our community. Become a “gasp” community organizer. The more we encourage and strengthen those who are hurting, the more likely it is that the levy will pass.I have heard a lot of condemnation of some of the rural outlying communities that have put up votes largely against the levy. Reach out to those communities. They don’t hate your kids and they don’t hate the future. Organize groups to go into those communities to do nothing but encourage and empower their residents … and bring them hope. As lives are transformed, levy votes will follow. I guarantee it.Secondly, what I am hearing from some folks opposing the levy is “The school system is a huge operation. If it were a business, it would be one of the largest around. We need the assurance that it is being run in a fiscally sound way … so that we will not be back in this same situation again in a few years with the schools coming to the “taxpayer well” because th[...]



Below is something written by Charles Stanley which I received by email this morning. It made me think about serving and spiritual gifts with new eyes. And made me wonder, when are the times when I am really "in the zone" so to speak, feeling natural and at ease and serving truly out of my spiritual gifts ... and when are the times that I am "forcing it" as I serve?

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (II Corinthians 11:22-28)

Paul’s message to the Corinthians regarding his suffering is remarkable in two ways. First of all, he had obviously faced considerable torment for his faith. Second, he refused to whine or seek pity – if this was the price for passionately serving Christ, Paul was willing to pay. In our own faith walk, we can learn from the apostle’s commitment.

We serve according to God’s will, not our own. In Acts 9:6, God told Paul on the road to Damascus, “It will be told you what you must do.” We are to seek the Lord’s direction and timing instead of choosing the ministry that seems best to us. Committing to do whatever He asks requires courage, but anything less is putting limitations on our obedience.

We serve according to our gifts, not our talents. A spiritual gift is the special endowment God gives us to serve where He calls. Talents may be useful in His work, but His gifts equip us for success. Natural skill wasn’t what made Paul a powerful preacher. In fact, he spoke of the uselessness of his abilities and pedigree in comparison to knowing and serving Christ. (Philippians 3:4–9)

We serve focused on God, not on the work. Paul excelled at remaining Christ – centered, but this is where many people fall apart. We get caught up in scheduling, responsibility, and accolades, which can make us lose sight of the true purpose – reaching the needy and the lost.

Doing “church work” can stroke the ego but drain the body. If we keep focused and serve out of our gifts, service will be satisfying, even when it is hard or painful.



“We always hurt the ones we love.” Have you ever experienced either side of that? Have you been the one to hurt someone you really care about … or have you been hurt by the words of someone who you love?It’s kind of an interesting concept, don’t you think? Why would we hurt the ones we love the most? How could that be? Those we probably least want to hurt … are the ones we hurt.I think there are a lot of reasons why this old adage rings so true for all of us but, for me, the primary reason has been because I tend to be the most honest with those to whom I am closest. If I have that feeling of intimacy … and vulnerability … with someone, I tend to be more open with my thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts have a solid basis and are accurate … and other times in retrospect I later discover they were a bit off base – perhaps too “heat of the moment” – but they came out anyway in the presence of someone I loved.And, you know what … hopefully we have all experienced this on both sides as well … the one who has been hurt, because of the love they hold … understands and comes back … sometimes even reaching out to us all the more.I think this is the relationship that God wants to have with us. His love for us will never end … He wants us to be honest and raw with Him … and He will always be there for us.Many folks who are trying to walk with God may make the statement “God is my best friend.” Have you ever heard anyone say that before? Or perhaps you’ve said it? In light of that statement, though, let’s ask ourselves something – “Really?” Is He really our best friend or is that just a nice “Christianese” statement to make?Because, if He’s really our best friend, we’re going to be taking things to Him that we’d take to our best friends. We’re going to have that kind of vulnerability and that kind of raw truthfulness and honest. We’re going to talk about our fears, our anxieties, our hurts and pains, our joys and our sufferings. We’re going to talk about those things with the creator of the universe. Because He loves us and He truly wants us to be our best friend.God create Adam and then Even in the garden to have this kind of intimacy with Him. Face it, they didn’t know a whole lot of others at the time. God had at least a 50-50 chance of being their best friend. He sought this intimacy. Then the fall came and God became a bit more far off … only a select few really got to have that close intimacy with Him, usually in a very dramatic turn of events such as things self combusting and the earth shaking.But it was obvious after a few thousand years that we weren’t going to “get it” in that fashion. So, God sent His son – Jesus Christ – to actually be in community with us. And, for 30 years, despite the prophecies, from all appearances, Jesus was a pretty normal guy. Yeah, he was a gifted student but those come along now and then. He lived with friends and family members just as you and I do. They thought of Him as being their friend … I’m sure that even as a child some folks didn’t care for Him … He was from all appearances … human. People had relationships with Jesus just like we have relationships with each other. I’m sure He hurt some folks along the way and some folks hurt Him . We always hurt the ones we love.But people also shared with Him … and the Bible gives us glimpses of people sharing their hurts, their pasts, their anxieties, and their joys with Him. Just like we share them with each other. That had to have been amazing.Think about being one of His disciples or one of the others that traveled with Je[...]



The following was written by Brigette Straub ... ever wonder where life is leading and what it means to be "happy" ... what it takes to be "happy"? This is a great reminder.

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).

Jesus knows that we hunger and thirst for more than this world can offer. He created us this way so that we would be in constant fellowship with Him.

When Jesus saw a great multitude of 4,000 who had followed Him for three days, He did not want them to leave hungry and was moved with compassion for them. There were only "seven loaves and a few little fish." BUT, it says that they "all ate and were filled" AND afterwards, "they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left" (Matthew 15:32-38). There was more than enough! There was even some left over. This is what He wants to do for us. He moves with compassion for us. Daily, and moment by moment, we can call upon Him for more.

Jesus always had more than enough. Jesus was overflowing because He was in constant fellowship with His Heavenly Father. He said He did nothing on His own initiative, but only did what He saw His Father doing (John 14:10). We can walk through life in this same way.

Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we should be famished, full of disorder, filled with negative thoughts, and live a dreary life. Jesus says in Luke 11:13 that our Heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. It's true! Let us seek our God who lavishes His love upon us by giving us access to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had.

Let us be imitators of Christ Jesus. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit. Are you thirsty? Do you long for more? James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not ask." Call upon Him.

He hears your cry. Ask God for more of Himself today.



Displaced workers in Ohio Upper Miami Valley area are encouraged to attend the Network for Job Seekers, a new organization formed by the Upper Miami Valley Think Tank, an organization of local Christian Businesspersons. Network meetings will be held at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA on Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 AM beginning on August 20th and continuing weekly. Two short presentations, one covering job seeking techniques and one for encouragement and support through the emotional times of being unemployed, are provided each week with networking and community time included. The objective is to provide job seekers the opportunity to communicate who they are and what they are looking for in a job within a safe environment for learning and networking. The network they develop will be the single most powerful technique for finding a position. Pre-Registration is not required. Handouts from past presentations will be provided allowing anyone to join the group at anytime.

An additional component of the Network for Job Seekers, available to those who are interested, will be individual or small group career counseling and mentoring with members of the Upper Miami Valley Think Tank. These committed businesspeople are available to work with individuals who may be looking at a career change and especially to work with those who may have entrepreneurial aspirations and be interested in starting or acquiring their own business.

The Network for Job Seekers will also create a list of local job seekers and their unique skills for sharing with area employers. This will be optional for participants in the Network but it could be of great value in their employment search.



The proposed local school levy failed yesterday … again. I have lost track at this point of how many times the levy has failed and, no matter which way a person has voted, I think that everyone has to agree on one thing. As this situation has gone on, it has become extremely divisive in our community. The series of levy defeats has created a situation where both sides have worked to vilify the other. Those in favor of the levy say that the other side is anti-community, anti-future, and even anti-kids. Those against the levy have painted school administrators and board members as ignoramuses, challenging that they do not know how to manage an organization like a school system and that they simply want more of everyone’s money.

The attempt on both sides has continuously been to “get the vote out” in support of their opinion.

Continuing to do that, certainly, is one option. But supposedly the levy can only go up one more time before the state will step in and take over control of the local schools. Time is running out. I assume the levy will be on the ballot again in November. School officials felt that the August election would be good for them as students were home from college and hopefully would be a strong “pro-school” voting block. They will not have that in November.

Those against the levy have become more organized and solidified in their efforts over time, making their voting block stronger as well.

I know it would be a tough pill to swallow but, at this point (or even earlier), if I were a school administrator or on the school board, I’d want to pursue some other options. At some point, the reality would need to sink in and be recognized that the majority of the voting public simply wasn’t going my way … and that maybe I need to change my tack a bit.

I suppose that could look like a number of different things but one would be to begin a series of small group meetings with local citizens including civic and business leaders but to especially try to reach out to those who have been voting against the levy and engage them in conversation. Sometimes, I believe, as much as anything, folks just want the assurance that they have been heard and that those who have heard them are listening.

At this point, as the division continues, each side begins to forget that the other side consists of human beings. They begin to see the other side only as the “enemy” … and that creates a situation in which it is very difficult for any positive shifting, one way or the other, to occur.

A series of many, intensive, small group meetings, facilitated by a neutral third party, could create productive conversation which begins to remove the boxes that each side has put itself in. The individuals can begin to once again see each other as people … and hopefully begin to better understand each other. As this happens, I believe that both sides will begin to see how many they can “give” a little. School officials will perhaps pick up and act on some helpful ideas and those against the levy will know that they have been heard.

I believe that this would begin the healing process that our community desperately needs … and it would bring people closer together and allow the levy to easily pass in November.



It seems like there are three primary things driving healthcare reform:

1) Cost control
2) Ensuring coverage for everyone, including portability and continuation of existing plans
3) More control in the hands of patients and physicians

As a side note, I will add my observation that pharmaceutical and research companies are currently rewarded only when they have the “big hit” of a discovery that has widespread appeal and use, such as something like Viagra and, apparently, something to help folks have fuller eyelashes.

The projections for healthcare as it is are ominous – costs will continue to rise. Along the way, insurance companies will continue to look for ways to cap their costs as well and sometimes that means limiting what and who they will cover.

As I look at this, it all comes down to costs. If costs can be controlled, more folks can have coverage and more power can return to patients and their doctors. And yet I see cost containment as conspicuously missing in the proposed reform. I will be the first to admit that I must be missing something though – and I hope that someone can point out to me what I am missing. Where is cost containment in the proposed reform?

I know that part of what is proposed is some way of increasing competition amongst insurance companies. The problem is, competition already exists and, if you increase competition too much, none of them make money, insurers start to pull out, and now you have decreased competition and an environment where costs can really begin to spiral. Simple economics.

I also have heard talk of trying to help smaller insurance buyers tap into larger group ratings. The money still has to come from someplace though so this just doesn’t make sense to me.

It still comes down to controlling costs.

I am not sure what our options are for controlling costs. Tort reform seems like a logical one but it has been talked about for almost 30 years now and the muckity mucks in DC are still too tied to attorneys to do anything about it. The time has come that something must be done now.

The other thing I see is let’s get the advertising out of the pharmaceutical business. Advertising pharmaceuticals just adds cost and encourages drug companies to only work on drugs that will be big widespread hits. Let’s eliminate advertising and encourage that some of our best research be done by smaller companies and (can’t believe I am saying it) government research facilities.

I don’t need to see advertisements on TV that make me think I need the latest drug out there. Let my doctor know and prescribe what is best for me. My doctor knows far better than I and the Madison Street bigwigs do.

Healthcare reform is not really reform if all we do is switch around where the dollars come from. Long term cost containment will not occur that way. Costs will keep spiralling out of control. Let’s instead look for ways of controlling costs and out of that create a system which works for all.

Other ideas?

JAMES 2:1-13 (NIV)


My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

The idea of loving one another was apparently radical in Jesus' day. Just as it is radical today. It's always been radical. Radical because it's difficult. It goes against our nature.

It's a tough thing to do. We don't all look alike, act alike, think alike, or even smell alike. Something about us wants to judge others by what we observe on the surface. We think mean thoughts ... we sometimes say them. Or we simply show favoritism or maybe, even ever so slightly, put ourselves ahead of others.

But yet in this scripture, we can see just how critical this commandment of Jesus' had been passed along to be. The one who doesn't love his neighbor -- all his neighbors -- as himself ... is no better than the murderer or the adulterer.

Think about it. That is a tough pill to swallow. How can I live a life so pure that I never judge others? Is that even feasible?

This is big stuff ... not something we can just say "Well, God's grace covers us" and move on. Yes, His grace does cover us ... but this idea of loving others is truly world-changing.

What does it take in ourselves to be able to live this way? For one thing, we have to feel good about ourselves. Oftentimes, judging others is our way of felling better about ourselves.

Yet this is a self-fulfilling circle ... if I love others ... if I encourage and affrim them ... then they feel better about themselves ... and become more likely to love others.

It's a beautiful idea ...

But human nature holds us back.

Love one another -- all others -- as ourselves ...

How do you live it out? How do I live it out?

Would God's Kingdom come if we all lived it out?



The following was written by Os Hillman. What does full surrender look like for me ... for you?

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold." Job 23:10

I was recently sitting with the leader of a workplace organization as he described a question he poses to workplace believers. "What if there were two doors to choose from; behind one door was the complete will of God for your life and behind the other door was how life could be according to your own preference. Which door would you choose?" The struggle for most lies in the desire to follow God completely and the fear of what might be behind the door of full surrender. Most of us desire to follow God, but few of us will do it at any cost. We do not really believe that God loves us to the degree that we are willing to give Him complete permission to do as He wills in us.

If we desire to fully walk with Christ, there is a cost. We may give intellectual assent and go along with His principles and do fine; however, if we are fully given over to Him and His will for our life, it will be a life that will have adversity. The Bible is clear that humans do not achieve greatness without having their sinful will broken. This process is designed to create a nature change in each of us, not just a habit change. The Bible calls it circumcision. Circumcision is painful, bloody, and personal.

If God has plans to greatly use you in the lives of others, you can expect your trials to be even greater than those of others. Why? Because, like Joseph who went through greater trials than most patriarchs, your calling may have such responsibility that God cannot afford to entrust it to you without ensuring your complete faithfulness to the call. He has much invested in you on behalf of others. He may want to speak through your life to a greater degree than through another. The events of your life would become the frame for the message He wants to speak through you.

Do not fear the path that God may lead you on. Embrace it. For God may bring you down a path in your life to ensure the reward of your inheritance. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Cor. 4:17)



I just sent the following letter to the Laughing Cow Cheese company. I will let you know if I get a response.

I have heard that the reason your cheese is so soft is that once you have the cows laughing the milk comes out their noses and that that passage of milk softens it. Is this true? If so, I am concerned about the cleanliness of this process and am also concerned about possible negative ramifications on the cows' respiratory systems. Please advise.

On the other hand, I have a pet dachsund that has seemed rather blue the past few years. Can you give me advice on how to get her to laugh please?

Thank you.



I had a friend send me the following list of things supposedly in the healthcare bill. I do not know if this is the Senate or House version. I also don't know if there is even one iota of truth to this list. At the very least, it was put together by someone who had their own agenda to push.In any event, this does make it clear to me that I need to learn more about what's really in this thing. Doesn't it make you feel that way too? The problem is that, at the very root of it all, I feel powerless.• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!• Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)• Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.• Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.• Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.• Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)• Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.• Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)• Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens• Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.• Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.• Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.• Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.• Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.• Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll• Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll• Page 167: Any individual who doesn’t' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.• Page 268: Go[...]