Archive for September, 2008

Financial Responsibility

September 29, 2008

As an individual, I have long sought to make appropriate financial decisions for myself and for my family.  There are many things that we have gone without, but we have always had our needs met and have always kept up with our bills.

As the pastor of a church, we have made it a priority to stay within our budget.  We do not spend what we do not have in the bank.  We have paid off our debts, maintained our property, and even made some improvements. 

At this time in our country there is a financial crisis because individuals took out loans that they could not afford.  Companies made those loans knowing that they were risky.  Neither side was being financially responsible in their decisions.  Whatever our government decides to do, it is going to be fraught with risk.  I am praying earnestly that they will make the right decision.

I hope that we will learn from this situation.  That in the same way that many of us are trying to go “green'” in our lifestyles, that we will, as a society, begin to make better financial decisions, that we will become financially responsible.

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This is the Day

September 25, 2008

This is the day. 

In church we occasionally sing an old song that has some very simple lyrics.

This is the day

This is the day

That the lord has made

That the lord has made

I will rejoice

I will rejoice

and be glad in it

and be glad in it

This is the day that the lord has made

 i will rejoice and be glad in it

This is the day

This is the day

That the lord has made

We learn from the past.

We plan for the future.

We live in today.

I know too many people who are either stuck reliving the highlights of the past, or who are dreaming of a better day tomorrow. 

Today is the day of salvation. 

This day can be a good day. 

This day we can make good choices and good decisions. 

This day we can live our lives in a way that we will not regret.

This day we can appreciate, and enjoy, the good; and help to combat the evil.

This is the day. 

Divine Guidance and Inner Peace

September 24, 2008

I believe that God is able to provide guidance for us in our lives.  There is a simple process that I follow, and recommend,  when making important decisions.

1.  Pray that God will direct you in your decision making.

2.  Search the Bible for direction.  Do not do things that go contrary to biblical commands or principles.

3.  Research the issue.  Utilize all means at your disposal for gathering information and advice.  Do not be hasty.  Select the best option.

4.  Pray again, asking God to give you a peace about the decision that you have made.  If you do not have a sense of peace in your decision, repeat the process.  Be willing to consider unconventional options. 

When you have a peace about your decision, then proceed in faith that God has directed you. 

This method is not foolproof.  Occasionally we will make mistakes.  Be humble and recognize that our ability to discern divine guidance is a skill that is developed over time.  Do not blame God for your mistakes, and do not be quick to declare “God told me to do this!”.  Do the best that you can to make good decisions, and be at peace in yourselves.

Testing Day

September 23, 2008

Today my philosophy students will take the first test of the semester.  I hope, for their sake, that they have studied and prepared well, and that they will do well on the test. 

Actually, aren’t we all tested, everyday, by the challenges of life? 

I managed to get out of bed this morning.  I think that I would just mark that as a “pass” . I have gone through the normal morning routine fairly smoothly and have checked a number of things off my “to do” list, only being sidetracked for a short while.  I think that I will give those efforts a “B”. 

I have some papers that I really want to have graded in time to return to the students today.  Will I get that accomplished?  Or will I spend too much time on the computer, and on other things?

There are ongoing tests in our life.  Some are important,  some not so much.  How concerned are we about our grade?  Who will do the grading?  Should we care?

Just a little something to think about.

One for the Environment

September 22, 2008

Just the other day I looked out my window and saw a man walking down the street.  He was carrying a large, plastic garbage bag and a device for picking things off the ground without bending over.  At first I thought that he was collecting pop cans but then I noticed that he was picking up trash.  I mentioned it to my wife who informed me that there  was an article in our local paper a little while back about a husband and wife who had decided that when they went for a walk that they would pick up trash.  I have to say that I was impressed.  I have occasionally picked up some trash while out for a walk, but far more often I have looked at trash and simply thought about how inconsiderate it was for people to litter, especially in parks or outdoor recreational areas.  I have even thought that it would be a good idea for some civic group to have a clean up day as a community service.  As I watched this man, I was inspired.  Perhaps the next time that I go for a walk, I will have to take a garbage bag with me, maybe even a reusable one, that I could just empty into the nearest trashcan. 

Even one can have an impact for the environment.

Obama/McCain on AIG bailout

September 20, 2008

In our local paper on Friday, September 19 I read some interesting information on the candidates partial response to the turbulent financial week.

John McCain was reported to have made these four observations. (These are not exact quotes.)

1.  He believes in the strength of the American economy.

2.  He would not bail out AIG

3.  A day later, he would bail out AIG

4.  He would fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The paper that I read said that Obama would not second guess the government’s decision to bail out AIG.

This is what these responses say to me about the candidates. 

McCain believes in the American economy and that generally government involvement is not the first, or best option. 

He is not afraid to speak his mind.

Nor is he afraid to change his mind if a convincing case is made.

He will hold people accountable.

I think that these are good leadership traits.

 

Regarding the response of Obama as reported in the article that I read, since when is Obama afraid to second guess the government?  What his statement said to me is that he doesn’t know what the best answer is, and he is unwilling to commit to what may ultimately be a wrong response.   It seems that in this case, he is content to follow, rather than lead.

Is that what we are looking for in a president?

Economic Security

September 18, 2008

This past week has not been a good week for the stock market in the USA.  There have been two days of major drops and there are still two days of trading left in the week.  I suspect that some people are truly being devastated by this economic upheaval. 

I am not worried at all.

I have a four part plan for economic security. 

First,  I understand the difference between needs and wants.   We need the basics of food, clothing and shelter.  Beyond that, it is what we want to have that gets us into trouble.  One of the biggest problems that people have today is that they want to live beyond their income.  Credit is available, and people overextend themselves to have something today that they will pay for dearly tomorrow.  Often these are things that people want, but don’t need.  We don’t need steak, designer clothing or large homes.  I understand the diffence between needs and wants, and am willing to live within my income.

Secondly, I create and stay on a budget.  I believe in planning ahead.  I believe in saving for large ticket items, rather than paying the interest on a loan.  I am thankful that my wife agrees with me about this issue, because it takes both of us being willing to work together to make a budget work. 

Third, I have told my sons since they were toddlers, that I will take care of you for the first eighteen years of your life, if necessary, you will take care of me, for the last years of my life.  I hope that it will never come to that, but it is an option that has been used for generations, long before social security or pensions. 

Fourth, and most importantly, since I was sixteen, I have been faithful in giving back to God a tithe, plus offerings, of my income.  I believe that God blesses my finances, at least partially, because I have always trusted that God is my ultimate provider.  He is my true source of economic security.

Pray for Ray Boltz

September 17, 2008

I was saddened recently to hear the news about Ray Boltz.  He is another in a long line of Christian leaders to be overtaken by sin.  Actually, in his case, it is worsened by the fact that instead of being caught in sin and confessing it, he is claiming that his actions are not sinful.   He says that he is gay and that the practice of homosexuality is acceptable in the eyes of God.

Some argue that Jesus never condemned homosexual behavior.  Jesus, in his earthly ministry  was speaking to Jews who accepted the teachings of Moses.

Leviticus 18:22 says “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.  It is an abomination.” 

Leviticus 20:13 says “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.  They shall surely be put to death.  Their blood shall be upon them.”

These passages are quite clear.  The penalty for practicing homosexuality under Mosaic law was death.  There was no reason for Jesus to address the issue with a Jewish audience.

Others may say that we are not under the Mosaic law.  They are correct. However, Paul is quite clear in addressing the issue. 

I Corinthians 6:9-10 says “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 

Ray Boltz, and all others, who have embraced the homosexual lifestyle, and think that it is acceptable to God, have been deceived and need our prayers.  I would add that all who think that premarital sex, (fornication) or  adultery, is acceptable, have also been deceived.  Sexual immorality is rampant in our society, and we need to pray that God will open our eyes, forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Experiencing God in Worship

September 15, 2008

I have always, for as long as I can remember, enjoyed the musical aspects of church services.  Some of my earliest memories are of standing next to my father singing hymns in the Lutheran church that we attended.  The song “Holy, Holy, Holy” will forever have a special place in my heart.  I remember the songs that we sang in Sunday School, and then at camp.  Those songs were special to me and they touched my heart.  Then I started attending Camp Zion, and was introduced to a whole new style of worship.  After a couple of years I was able to join the Christian Life Singers and become a part of the worship team playing percussion instruments.  I always wanted to be filled with the Spirit as I played so that in the same way that we can be led by the Spirit in our words and our actions, that I would be led by the Spirit as I played.

It has been thirty years since I first started playing on the worship team.   It has reached the point where I would rather be playing either drums or percussian than singing in the congregation. 

The wonderful thing is, that either playing or singing, I can have a wonderful sense of the presence of  God in worship.  The sense of the presence of God brings healing and refreshment to my mind, body, and spirit.  Usually,  I am almost oblivious to the rest of the congregation because my focus is on God.  Sometimes, though I will look around the congregation, just to get a sense of how others are responding.  Many are like me, lost in worship, enjoying an encounter with the Spirit of God, but some are passively waiting for the singing to be over.  I feel sorry for all of those people who seem unable to make the connection.  Who seem unaware of the presence of God.  It is possible that they too, are experiencing an encounter with God, only it is not outwardly expressed.  I hope that that is the case.  I can’t understand how they can be immune to what God can do in a simple worship service.  I hope and pray that everyone who is present will have an encounter with God, that in every worship service, all will be refreshed and renewed in their faith, even as I am refreshed and renewed in my own.

The Sin Cycle

September 13, 2008

Step one in the sin cycle is to recognize sin as sin in our lives.  This is not easy, because we are often willing to deny or justify what we are doing as acceptable.  We are very good at writing excuses.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to help us recognize sin in our lives. 

Step two is to confess the sin in our lives.  We need to be willing to admit that we are sinners and ask God for forgiveness and help.  Forgiveness for our past actions, or attitudes and help to change.

Step three is to accept.  We need to accept the forgiveness and the help that God offers to us.

Step four is to commit to do things differently.  Repentance is not just feeling bad, but it is about changing what we do, and say, and even think. 

Step five is to do.  If we are to truly change, then we need to “cease to do evil, learn to do good”.

The reason that I call this a sin cycle, is because it is an ongoing process.  Sometimes we are able to immediately change our behaviors, and sometimes it takes a while.  When we do manage to overcome certain sins in our lives then God will reveal to us other areas of our life that need to change.  The work that God does in our lives is ongoing, so the sin cycle repeats.