Friday, September 30, 2005

Awareness of the moment

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus says, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

This morning I had to be out early to get my car inspected. I was all set. Except for one thing: my keys. I searched all over and was coming up empty. My wife had a day off, but she ended up waking and helping me look. I'm so thankful she puts up with me!

I found the keys. They were left in the front door (I'd better not let anybody know where I live, because I've done it before and I could do it again!).

In the verses before Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells His disciples not to be anxious, for to do so it fruitless, and actually brings more trouble than it's worth. I'm sure my mind was preoccupied when I came home last night. I was already thinking about what was next before I finished what I was doing in the now--taking my keys out of the door.

Not to say that planning ahead is wrong. Proverbs 30:25, talking about that which is "exceedingly wise," says, "The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer." To live in the future and be in a daze for the current moment is foolish. There must be a balance.

Aren't so many of us likely to think about where we're going when we're driving (which is important), but not notice the beauty of God's creation around us? Even as adults, we're thinking, "Are we there yet?" And we miss what matters now. Like keys hanging in the door.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What truly changes minds and hearts?

Whether it's about Justice Roberts (or now the next Supreme Court nominee) or Hurricane Katrina or abortion or Democrat v. Republican or Conservative v. Liberal or any other issues we're bound to see debated on blogs and editorials and talk shows, or even if it's a personal disagreement with a friend or family member I wonder how often somebody firmly ensconced on one side of the issue, after hearing somebody explain the opposing point of view, says "Hey, you may have a point there. I hadn't considered those factors. Let me rethink this." And if/when that does happen, what led to the change of mind and heart?

I know my major paradigm shift (so to speak) about life came when I embraced Christ as my Savior and Lord. I now believe that Jesus is who the Bible says, and I believe that the moral laws, promises, etc. in the Bible still stand true.

But I also believe in other non-religious issues like a constructionist view of the Constitution, lower taxes, local government preferred over the federal government, the judicial branch not legislating from the bench, etc.

I feel I'm much more "ensconced" in my religious views than in my non-religious views. I hold to the latter quite firmly, for sure, but the "new heart" I was given when Christ came into my life makes me more likely to agree spiritually with Him. Or maybe some of the non-religious views I hold are indeed influenced by my faith in Christ. Hmmm.

Anyway, other than a religious conversion, what has led you to have a change of heart about an issue that you once held firm to, whether religious or otherwise? And what has helped you change the minds of others likewise firmly holding strong to their views? I wonder if much of the opinions being expressed out there do more to shore up the beliefs of the like-minded than to change the beliefs of the opposition?

As for me, I have found that humility is key. Sometimes, when my wife and I get into a disagreement, I'm more often at fault than I care to admit. It's tough saying I was wrong, so I may try to use a non sequitur and find a totally unrelated fault with her. Or I may sulk in silence. Only when I look into my heart and review what I've said or done can I begin to realize my part in causing the problem. It certainly helps to have a wife who is so forgiving and who loves me in spite of my many faults.

There is such animosity out there in the blogs, etc., when it comes to the various issues being debated. Even if a person proves his point, if he does so in a hateful way then the person with the opposing point of view will not admit he was wrong, because he will feel so offended. "I told you so," "you idiot," "you people are sheep," etc., will not quickly endear me to your point of view. But state all the facts--not just those that support your preconceived beliefs, without the ad hominem attacks, and I'll be wise to consider them.

May each of us have the humility and wisdom to accept when we're wrong and know when we're right, and if the latter may we show love in expressing ourselves.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Opening the vent

OK, one of my big weaknesses is a quick temper, and one thing that gets my goat as much as anything is bad or careless or aggressive drivers. I spend about 2.5 hours on the road every week day, so I see quite a lot of this. You can help make my day better by taking a week of from work and passing this around to everybody you can get your hands on, OK? Of course they'll all gladly follow your suggestion (guffaw, guffaw!).

So, please allow me to vent about of those things that really bug me. If you do any of these, please stop. And if you see anybody else does it, write the link to this site on a piece of paper and show it to the offending driver. Soon, I'll be happy (oh, and you will too!). Also, let me know some of the things that have led you close to road rage.

By the way, I have committed some of these offenses (gasp!), so I'm yelling at myself as well. I mean, we all screw up sometimes, but if you are doing any of these things because you think you have some special right to, then may the next flung booger land on your windshield.

  • Staying in the left lane
  • Keeping your blinker on
  • Turning or changing lanes (especially with a car directly behind) without a blinker
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Not yielding right of way on an onramp with two entrances. The person entering on the right has the right of way, unless there is a sign saying otherwise.
  • Motorcycles that drive between lanes. My understanding of the NJ motor vehicle laws say this is not legal, and is certainly dangerous.
  • Driving with no lights on in the dark (that includes rainy and foggy weather).
  • Clearing a tiny space in the windshield to see through the snow or ice on your car.
  • Driving with several inches of snow or ice on your vehicle. What if in the process of warming and cooling it turns to ice? Huh? HUH?! (oops, sorry about that).
  • Not responding when I flash my lights telling you it's OK to merge into traffic in front of me.
  • Merging into traffic in front of me when I have not given the OK. I will usually allow you to go when it's safe, but it's always my prerogative (police, etc. excepted).
  • Even worse is when you cut right in front of me, though no cars are in sight behind me, and then you go 20 mph under the speed limit.
  • Sub-woofers.
  • Driving in the snow/ice as fast as you would drive in normal weather
  • Not allowing drivers to merge into heavy traffic ("I've just gotta gain that extra 10 feet of space!")
  • Tailgaters
  • Driving with perpetual high beams
  • Not respecting crosswalks
  • Rubbernecking (all right, you can slow down if there's an accident or a police stoppage on your side of the road, but if it's on a divided highway and the situation is on the other side of the road, pull over to the shoulder, get out a camera, and film away. Or, if it's goriness you want, I'm sure you can rent a DVD with that kind of stuff)
  • Not stopping at stop signs or before making a right on red
  • Blocking driveways that clearly say, "Do not block driveway."
  • Passing on double yellow line
  • Throwing garbage and cigarette butts out the window
  • Honking in dead-stopped traffic (what's the guy in front of you going to do?)
  • Cutting across multiple lanes of traffic to get to an exit ramp
  • Bypassing the long line of cars in the exit only lane, and then trying to cut in at the last minute.
  • Outdated campaign stickers (c'mon, you know you hate it too)
  • Parking in two spaces (yes, with one car!)
  • Not accelerating to highway speed on the onramp.
  • Not stopping for school buses picking up children
  • Putting your brakes on every few seconds while driving down a perfectly clear, straight road.
  • Changing into the lane I'm in, directly in front of me, even though there is nobody in front of you in your lane, and even though I'm going about 20 mph faster than you, requiring me to swerve into the open lane or slam on my brakes to avoid a collision.

Ah, now I feel so much better (until a week from now when I realize that nobody took my excellent advice--sigh!).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Relatively speaking

"What is truth?" Pilate asked Jesus (see John 18:37-38).

Too bad Pilate didn't seem to know Jesus's statement in John 14:6--"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life...." And it's no different today. Starting yesterday through tomorrow, Focus on the Family has been broadcasting a 1982 message by Francis Schaeffer, founder of the L'Abri Fellowship, on the rise of secular humanism in our society and the resulting immorality. He even speaks about the judicial tyranny that is overtaking our nation while our legislators and president barely put up a fight. You can go to the website linked in the title to request the tapes or to listen online.

It seems our culture is answering, "You are so right," to the statement uttered in court by Jack Nicholsons character Colonel Jessep in the movie A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth!" Unless it's a "truth" that makes us feel good. It's not politically correct to say anything against homosexuality or unmarried couples having sex, for example, and many companies tell their employees to not only tolerate such ungodly lifestyles but also to value them equally with heterosexual marriage. If you want to abort your child or terminate your elderly parent's life, as is the case more and more, it's fine--so they say, even though the Bible says we should value life.

No longer is it the truth that gets many people's attention, or the mainstream media's attention for that matter. It's a matter of what fits with their pre-conceived notion of what they want to be the case. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association took homosexuality off its list of correctable traits. In 2003, they debated taking pedophilia off that list, but then changed their minds. But for how long? After all, as Fyodor Dostoyevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov:

'But what will become of men then?' I asked him, 'without God and immortal life? All things are lawful then, they can do what they like?'


For if there's no everlasting God, there's no such thing as virtue, and there's no need of it.

(and this chilling statement):

He ended by asserting that for every individual, like ourselves, who does not believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognised as the inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of his position.

I think we are seeing that "honourable outcome" of leaving God out of the picture. We need to stand for truth--God's truth, not man-made--before we see our cultures slouch towards Gomorrah (as Robert Bork might say) become a kneeling in worship of such hedonism.

Monday, September 26, 2005

God sets the standard for success

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16, ESV).

I struggle to realize that I don't set the standards for my success. God does. I'm on this earth because he decided to use me as part of his overall plan, which is too majestic for me to comprehend. And he has created many other components that join together to form his plan. I'm just one small part. Each of us is. At times I want to see myself as being a major player, so that if I didn't do my part it would all come crashing down. Of course that's foolish. Yes, God is most pleased when we willingly and joyfully carry out his purpose for our lives, but he's not hindered when we fail. Failure is such a big part of who we are that I'm quite sure he has figured a way around it (I'm understating, of course). That he uses us at all should not boost our pridefulness but should increase our humility and gratefulness.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A prayer for those in Hurricane Rita's path

Dear Lord,

We seek your mercy and comfort as this terrible storm approaches. Thankfully it has weakened somewhat, but please help the people in its path realize it is still very dangerous and potentially deadly. Thank you for the many people who are there now and will be there in the coming days and weeks to help make this terrible experience just a little bit more bearable. Let there be harmony among those involved in the upper levels of authority; guide their hearts to you so they can act wisely and swiftly. In Jesus's name, Amen.

Going as we're led

Proverbs 22:6 says that parents should train their children according to their natural bent. I think it's sad to see parents trying to live their failed dreams vicariously through their children. A father will keep hounding his uncoordinated son to be a football player. A mother will get on her daughter's case for not keeping up with piano lessons. These children will either gravitate back toward what they enjoy doing, or they'll stew in frustration and will rarely excel in what's been cast upon them.

I'm thankful to have had parents who helped me foster what I enjoy doing, and now a wife who encourages me to be who God created me to be. I believe we are doing what we're meant to do when our skills and our passions go hand-in-hand. In fact, I think what we enjoy doing we are usually quite good at (or at least have potential to be good). We can and should seek to improve, but we should also appreciate where we're at, and not keep waiting until we're good enough to bless the world and glorify God with it.

My wife recently started scrapbooking, and she loves it. She had thought about doing it in the past, but was never able to find ample time. I'm so thankful she did start, because our wedding album is beautiful. Our son has a very creative mind. He wrote a funny play, complete with main characters and background characters. They have gotten lost in what they are doing.

If you read my earlier posts about our family's vision (July 6) and my personal mission (August 1), you'll get an idea where my passions lie. I hope I have at least some measure of skill as well in living out my mission. And I pray that each of you knows or soon discovers your natural bent.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Storms just over the horizon

As I looked recently at a satellite map of the South, I noticed that Texas seemed to be virtually free of clouds. Imagine that, in light of Hurricane Rita approaching. I'm sure that will change quite soon, if not already. It's much like when the devastating Christmas tsunami hit: people on the beach didn't realize what was coming, and most seemed little more than curious when the tide receded further than usual just before the huge wall of water destroyed them and tens of thousands of others.

It may seem things are going pretty well in your life right now, but if you've lived on this earth for any number of years you know that another storm is brewing, and may be very close.

I pray that when things go well for a period of time, we don't get complacent. Not that we should live in fear, but we need to be alert for what the world or devil throws at us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More links (and disclaimer)

I have added some more links to my page. Check them out. I think there's a lot to like.

Disclaimer: I don't necessarily agree with everything on these links. Some don't even have a Christian foundation. But I do believe that all in all they have some good things to say. If you, like me, are a Christian, then take what works and disregard that which disagrees with God's word. If you notice a link going too far off the deep end, let me know and I'll reconsider.

Attitude retardation

I was surprised one day when I walked into the restroom to hear a person say hello and start talking to me. In today's culture, that's so out of the norm. I said hello back, and then he told me his name was Joseph. Joseph is mildly retarded.

Every once in a while we'll happen to meet up in the restroom, and each time he'll ask me if bad things ever happen to me, and he brings up a litany of possible bad things I might have experienced. He seems to have had a rough childhood, because he said his mother had hit him with a chair, so I wonder if there has been much good, much hope, in his life.

Today, he asked me the same question, and after a short conversation, I turned it around and ask him if good things happen to him. He said yes, then immediately got back on the subject of bad things.

It may well be Joseph's mental retardation that plays a part in keeping him focused on the bad things. But I see so many seemingly mentally astute people with attitude retardation. Just like a mentally retarded person has "subnormal intellectual development or functioning" (per the American Heritage Dictionary), a person with attitude retardation has subnormal positive attitude development or functioning. But unlike mental retardation, attitude retardation is often a choice. Some people choose to focus on the negative so they can evoke pity. Or they don't want to make something of their lives so they think of excuses for why things are so bad in their lives.

In future posts I will write about some things I have learned about having a proper attitude. One thing I'll say now is that according to Zig Ziglar, we need to have regular input of positive messages because we are bombarded with so many negative messages each day. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (HCSB). If it corrupts bad morals, don't you think that hanging around with negative people will make you more negative?

If you don't already have friends with positive attitudes, find some. And limit your time with the negative attitude friends. If you must be with the latter, bring up postive things (not to mean you should be a Pollyanna, but don't make things worse than they really are). It may take some time, but maybe it will start to rub off. In fact, I'll have to remember to try that with Joseph.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hearing only what we want

My wife and I were stirring from sleep this morning, and our minds were still in a fog. I said something to her that spurred her to smile at me and say, "Good." But when she said that, I was taken aback. For what she thought I had said was, "How are you doing?" What I really said was, "I have to get going." I looked at her in mock astonishment and said, "You mean it's good that I have to get going?" It was then that she laughed and told me what she thought I had said.

People misunderstand each other all the time. I have messed up because I thought I was supposed to do one thing when it was really something else. Perhaps I wasn't close enough to the speaker to hear clearly. Or perhaps my mind was otherwise occupied and I wasn't paying attention like I should have. Or perhaps I was tired and unable to process what was said.

But what if my motive was to hear only what I wanted to hear. I was a big fan of the humor magazine Mad as a youth. They had this one column where they would show how a negative review of a movie or book could be twisted to appear positive. For example, if the review actually said, "The movie was an excellent example of how to make your viewers squirm in their seats with a desire to flee," the review could be read as, "The movie was ... excellent."

Isn't this true of so much of what we see in today? People are more focused on thinking how to progress their agenda than on listening to make sure they know where the other side is coming from. Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" (English Standard Version).

If a politician says anything, it can and will be twisted to suit the pre-conceived beliefs of his supporters or critics. They'll take it out of context, add words, subtract words...whatever it takes to make him look like a hero, a liar, a buffoon, a good-hearted man.

Jesus's words prove Him to be of exemplary character, a great teacher, and, yes, God. For those who don't want to believe that Jesus is God, they'll take His words out of context, or they'll say that those parts of the Bible have been mistranslated...whatever it takes to make him look like anyone else but the One to whom they must be accountable.

If I chose to hear about Jesus only as a good man and good teacher, I'd still be accountable to Him as God. On the same note, I am responsible to make sure I listen to and understand what my wife says, or my church leaders, or my political leaders. May each of us be wise and brave enough to realize that we don't need to doctor the truth; it stands on its own. And if it's not truth, or if it is truth but it's offensive to God, then no amount of doctoring will make it pleasing in God's sight.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Obedience to God leads to true success

Joshua 1:8 says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (ESV).

How often does the Bible tell us to seek power, or prestige, or popularity, or position, or pleasure above all else? Rather, we are told to be meek, humble, disciplined, etc. This is such an antithesis of what the world teaches. They say step on people to get ahead, unlike Jesus's admonition to never seek to sit by the host but to go to the seat farthest away and let the host decide to move you to a better seat. They say don't show your emotions, especially if you are a man--unlike Jesus, who wept at Lazarus's death. They say do whatever it takes to be comfortable--unlike those faithful noted in Hebrews 11 who sought obedience even unto their own torture and death.

Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God pierces deep into our souls. Psalm 19 says God's law revives the soul (v. 7), makes wise the simple (v. 7), gives joy to the heart (v. 8), and gives light to the eyes (v. 8). And Psalm 119 is a treasure trove of the blessings of obedience to God.

So may we take some time each day to chew on the rich feast of Scripture, to be truly satisfied with the true success it offers.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jimmy cut me off, and I don't care(?)

I overheard a discussion on NJ101.5 this morning about how anger harms not only those we take it out on, but also ourselves, including physiologically.

Here are some Bible verses on human anger. I have added some comments. How are you doing with these?

Proverbs 14:29--"He who is slow to anger has great understanding,But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly." More than once I have embarrassed myself by lashing out in anger, only to later realize I didn't have the facts correct and the person was not at fault.

Proverbs 15:18--"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,But the slow to anger calms a dispute." Is it that we want to stir up strife? Perhaps our temper adds fuel to the fire, while a calm demeanor is like water dousing the flames.

Proverbs 16:32--"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city." How many of you have read the fable by Aesop where the sun and wind see who can make a man take his coat off sooner? The wind blows and blows, but the man just holds the coat tighter around himself. Then the sun shines brightly, and the man, now very warm, takes his coat off. We can force a person's hand with power, but we can move a person's heart with warmth.

Proverbs 19:11--"A man's discretion makes him slow to anger,And it is his glory to overlook a transgression." I too often find it "necessary" to respond in some negative way to a wrong committed against me. In my mind, the perpetrator must know the harm he caused, however trivial.

Proverbs 22:24-25--"Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself. " I have heard it said that we become like those we are around. This doesn't mean we should never associate with angry people, but the more we are with them the more we'll become angry.

Eccliastes 7:9--"Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,For anger resides in the bosom of fools." Strange enough, it seems some people want to be angry. Maybe like those who want to be sad, they desire attention? Even if somebody were to find a way to ease their anger, they would refuse to be placated. It is foolish, isn't it?

Galatians 5:19-21--"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: ...outbursts of anger, ...and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." If we inherited hell because we became angry, we'd all perish in that lake of fire. But I believe this passage refers to those whose pattern is one of anger (and other sins).

Ephesians 4:26--"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger." We know Jesus had moments of anger. We can too, and yet be free from sin while doing so. Is our motive to harm or to help? Have we lashed out in anger, or did we carefully consider how to respond to the situation before taking action? As for not letting the sun go down on our anger, my wife and I live this out. Whenever we have a disagreement, we make sure we resolve it. In fact, we can't find peace in our hearts until we work it out, and I can't recall a time that we went to sleep still angry at one another.

James 1:19-20--"This you know, my beloved brethren But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." I know you all know the cliche about why we have 2 ears and one mouth. But I'm repeating it anyway. How common it is for us to chomp at the bit just waiting to tell our side rather than listening to what the other person has to say. How can God be in that? How can human, sinful anger produce anything godly?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Delay and die (or at least lose out)

We hear it every time a hurricane threatens. Warnings are sent out, evacuations are encouraged, then ordered. Still, some die hards refuse* to flee for safety, thinking the storm will miss them, or it won't be strong enough, or they don't want to leave their possessions unguarded. Or maybe they think they have a little more time

So many of them do, sadly, die hard.

Procrastination is the root of so many problems in life. It has also been one of my weaknesses. I tend to put things off, then rush to catch up. I leave for work at the last possible moment, then yell at the traffic and the red stop signals. I start late on a project, then as the deadline looms I get anxious because I'm not progressing fast enough. My car needs to be repaired for inspection, but I put that off despite my wife kindly reminding me that time is running out. Again, she's wise enough to know that it's better not to wait, since a part could be unavailable or it could take longer to fix than originally planned.

Recently, an indicator light came on in my car telling me I need oil. Again, my wife was good enough to remind me to check it out. And yes, that's right, I procrastinated. Mind you, we've had rather extensive and expensive car repairs lately, so if the engine was to seize it would have been disastrous. I finally went to a gas station--and it was closed for repairs. So my tension increased: Will I make it to another station? If my car dies, how much will it cost?

Well thankfully I made it OK, and my car is fine.

But what if...?

Things don't always go as smoothly as planned. In fact, they rarely do. We can't control what's around us, only our own actions. So please learn from my errors; if you have somewhere to be or something to repair. Or if you are in potential danger, hope for the best but plan for the worst. Better to play it too safe than be ashamed and hurt and broke.

I realize that comparing car repairs and potential loss of home and life in a storm is unfair. But at the core, procrastination in one area could certainly lead to procrastination in another. If I'm prone to put things off, then will I be more proactive when greater dangers threaten? Or will I, like so many others, keep thinking the storm will pass, or come later, or weaken...blah, blah, blah!!

*Many people are simply unable to flee due to physical or financial infirmities, or other valid reasons, and I don't mean to group them in with the procrastinators.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bi-annual and annual plans of action

In recent posts I wrote out my daily and monthly plans of action. Here are my bi-annual and annual plans:

  • Take self-assessment (this is a 50-questions assessment that evaluates how I'm doing with living out the MAXIMIZERS principles)
    -Compare with previous assessment and evaluate
    -Why did I improve or decline, and what can I do better next time?
  • Aliveness inventory (10 questions that ask such questions as, "Do you have written goals?" "Do you regularly enjoy a hearty belly laugh," etc.
  • Ask those close to me how they think I'm doing


  • How will I know a year from now I've grown in each key area?
  • Am I moving closer to God's vision for my life?
  • For information regarding both the above questions, review planner and journal entries.
  • Reevaluate mission, roles, and goals.

As always, I'd love to hear any suggestions. Tell me what has worked for you, and what hasn't. I want to make my life as meaningful and effective as possible. God bless to you all.

Monday, September 12, 2005

AARP: Harming our seniors and our nation?

For many, it's automatic. By the time you reach retirement age, you have probably heard from the AARP (formerly, American Association of Retired Persons), directly or indirectly, hundreds or thousands of times. So perhaps you don't think there are alternatives. "It's the AARP for me," you might say. And why not? They're a great organization for retired persons, right? How could 35 million Americans go wrong?

If they espouse a liberal ideology, then the AARP may be up their alley. But for the millions of conservatives and Christians in the AARP, maybe they aren't aware of what happens behind the scenes at the AARP.

I don't want to get into politics--Republican vs. Democrat vs. Independent, etc. So when I mention liberal and conservative, I'm talking about all political parties.

So, what are some things the AARP supports or opposes that might raise some hackles? According to USA Next, a group that opposes the AARP:
  • They opposed the marriage amendment, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, in Ohio that had passed 62% to 38%. (According to Wikipedia, "the AARP has no position on marriage rights for homosexuals, but (along with many established groups including the AFL-CIO) opposed an amendment to Ohio's state constitution intended to prohibit gay marriage, claiming it would deprive all unmarried cohabitating couples of rights they currently enjoyed"). Either way, it seems the AARP supports pre- and extra-marital cohabitation.
  • They oppose health savings accounts, and have promoted national health care.
  • They oppose the elimination of the estate tax.
  • They support taxes on Social Security benefits.
  • They are funded in part by our taxes.
  • They support gun control measures like the Brady Bill.

The website USA Next lists several other issues, and quotes various sources including those listed below.

I'm far from retirement, and I don't know enough about either the AARP or USA Next to make any final decisions. But if there is truth to the USA Next basic claim that the AARP caters to liberals and that they support immoral policies, then they deserve a closer look.

By the way, USA Next Chairman Charlie Jarvis is on Focus on the Family today through Wednesday.

Before joining any major retirement group, make sure you understand their policies. Your choice may well impact not only your destiny but the destiny of millions of others.

Business Week: By Raising Its Voice, AARP Raises Questions. By Howard Gleckman and Mike McNamee in Washington and David Henry in New York. March 14, 2005.

National Review: Quit the AARP. By Rich Lowry. March 1, 2005

USA Next. Liberals Level Full-Scale Assault at USA Next. By Charlie Jarvis. February 28, 2005.

USA Next. Seven Deadly Sins of AARP. By Staff.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blogging tips welcome

I have only had this blog up since July 2005. In fact, this site is the first I've ever put on the web (which I'm sure elicits a "no duh!" from the more experienced among you, considering the amateurish way it's put together). What are some things you've done to create a more exciting website/blog?

Of course there are some things I won't do, like tell dirty jokes, post nude pictures, or show you how to create a bomb. But, if you have ideas that are within reason, I'd greatly appreciate your suggestions. Thanks and God bless.

Dr. Ron Jenson bio

I have referred to Dr. Ron Jenson and his organization, Future Achievement International, quite often on this blog. Here is some info on him that I gleaned from the web:

RON JENSON, Co-Founder, Future Achievement International
Dr. Ron Jenson is known throughout America and much of the world as America’s Life Coach, reflecting his expertise in the area of personal leadership development. Ron’s doctoral work was in leadership development and included intensive research on the major written works in the field as well as personal interviews with 350 of the top leaders in the United States and internationally. Dr. Jenson is the author of the best selling book, Achieving Authentic Success, as well as several other books. Achieving Authentic Success serves as the foundation of Future Achievement's educational programs, products and services which are currently sold and distributed in over 40 countries through various sales channels including: professionals, corporations, non-profit organizations, government sectors, youth and the family marketplace. Ron is a popular speaker and consultant across a wide variety of venues nationally and internationally. Ron has traveled around the world annually for 25 years and has spoken to groups including top Parliament Members in Uganda, 20,000 business people in India and corporate and institutional leaders in the US and Europe. Concerned with the moral and social failings of American and world cultures, he has turned his attention to the development of programs aimed at rebuilding the mental infrastructure of individuals, families, institutions and communities. These programs focus on character development and practical life skills and aim at building the tools needed for self-government, the key to good family, business and civil government. Ron has worked with Presidents of countries and their cabinets to help them achieve their leadership objectives.Ron and his wife, Mary, live in San Diego. They have two children, Matt and Molly.


Dr. Ron Jenson is an internationally-known author, speaker, and interviewer of
hundreds of top leaders in the areas of leadership, life success, and influence.
Dr. Jenson spent eight years as President of an international school and is
currently Chairman of Future Achievement International, a personal leadership
development organization focusing on principle-centered skills and professional
leadership training for individuals, business organizations, families,
ministries, youth and senior citizens. Dr. Jenson is also Chairman of High
Ground, a non-profit organization focused on mutual support between key business
leaders throughout the world. Dr. Ron Jenson is known throughout America and much
of the world as America's Life Coach, reflecting his expertise in the area of
personal leadership development. Ron's doctoral work was in the area of
leadership development and included intensive research on the major written
works in the field as well as personal interviews with 350 of the top leaders in
the United States and internationally. He is listed in numerous Who's Who
publications and has written several books. Programs Include:

Make A Life, Not Just A Living
This presentation is a reflection of Ron's entire life. He
synthesizes the core principles upon which his life and Future Achievement
International are established. His 10 MAXIMIZERS principles serve as a life
operating system to help people make their lives work.

Taking The Lead
Dr. Jenson
addresses the 10 qualities of mentoring and shares various important traits to
become a leader/coach, whether it is in business or in family life.

Fathers & Sons: Growing Up Together
This program holds intensely practical tools built
around the MAXIMIZERS principles. The purpose is to help a father and child or a
big brother and little brother connect and grow together in their personal
lives. Such topics as resolving conflict, choosing friends and encouraging
others are addressed. Ron co-authored this book with his son, Matt. (from Premiere Speakers Bureau)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pride and hatred will be the death of us

I have been very dismayed by the political partisanship that has sprung up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It seems so many politicians and many of their constituents are walking lock-step with their party and refusing to take responsibility or blame anybody in their party for the unpreparedness that contributed to so many deaths. They seem more focused on absolving their party from blame and passing the blame to the other party than on joining together to help those suffering in the devastated areas. Many newspapers and internet news and commentary sites are also not presenting the whole truth, having a pre-set slant before writing the story, so that we who really want to get to the bottom of things have to dig around to figure out what's really going on.

We could get into an endless debate on this post about what happened and who's responsible. And there may be a clear winner. But I have read many stories from both sides over the last several days, and those firmly beholden to their point of view have refused to give an inch. They are either right and are certain about it, or they are wrong and they refuse to admit it lest they damage their pride and/or their party.

Remember Happy Days? On one episode, Fonzie had trouble saying he was wrong, but eventually he did the "cool" thing and fessed up. For him not to do so would have hurt even more people. I have been wrong many times, and usually don't hesitate to admit it. If we as a nation continue to value saving face over doing the right thing, it we focus on hating those we disagree with over loving them and trying to speak the truth in love, then we will perish.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Donations at $500 million, and climbing

America once again shows its generous heart. Amid the stories of the looting, raping, and murdering in the ravaged area, this story shows how most Americans are good, caring people. I'm so proud to be an American!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More than 182,000 people rescued

Well done, all involved! Thanks so much for your sacrifice. You have shown America at her finest.

My monthly plan of action

The other day, I posted my daily plan of action. Here's what I plan for each month. Again, any suggestions are very welcome:

  1. On the weekend before the start of the next month, do a quick preview of the month ahead.
  2. Review life goals for each key role, and write the best things I can do in each area to draw closer to those goals.
    a) Consider present needs and things I've neglected in the past that need attention
    b) 2 to 3 actions per role, so I don't get overwhelmed
    c) Focus 75% on two neediest areas, 15% on next three, and 10% on least two neediest
    i) Reevaluate quarterly
    d) Make my goals achievable, inspiring, measurable, shared, and highly visible
    e) Balance personal and professional responsibilities
    f) Balance result and relationship goals
    i) How will I love the most precious people and do the most important things better?
  3. Schedule to do items for these goals into my planner
    a) Leave some time open for rest and in case of unplanned meetings, etc.
    b) Balance structure and spontaneity
  4. To keep it fresh, read a chapter or listen to tape corresponding to the MAXIMIZERS principle based on the month. For example, I would read about X Out the Negatives, the third principle, sometime during the third month.
    a) For November, read other success information
  5. End of month
    a) How well did I deal with serendipitous moments? How can I improve?
    b) How did I do with the 7 key roles and with MAXIMIZERS
    i) I did ... well (or not well) because....
    ii) How can I improve?
    iii) Were my roles balanced properly? If not, what needs to change?
    c) Did my goals, actions, and attitudes bless God and loved ones?
    d) Do I need to firm up my long-term goals and loosen my short-term plans? If so, how?
    e) Reevaluate how I did with goals, and continue, change to better suit my needs, or create a new goal
    f) How will I use the MAXIMIZERS principles to better support my life goals?
    g) Based on the above, process a plan of action for the next month
    h) Enter key events and notes in my archival records.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Police outnumbered and outgunned

(Scroll down to where it says, "Police outnumbered and outgunned")

God bless these fine men and women putting their lives on the line against a perverse minority of society that has no regard for humanity. It's as close to a war zone as we're going to find, and we need to put these people down who are shooting at people and at rescue operations. Pat Robertson may have fumbled to explain his comments against Hugo Chavez, but I'll say it loud and clear: I hope the police or National Guard or other government agencies shoot anybody who is a clear and present danger. And if a law-abiding citizen is threatened by a thug, that citizen should have the right to defend himself, even to the death. Sorry, but we can't pussyfoot around anymore.

Daily plan of action

I'm trying to create a concise plan of action for scheduling my days and beyond. So often I'll find myself not getting to those important things or people because I'm reacting to whatever's thrown at me. Dr. Jenson suggests we schedule our priorities, not prioritize our schedule. The difference? When we prioritize our schedule, we simply make a list of all the things that come across our path and try to attack them in no certain order. But when we schedule our priorities--those things that matter most--we ensure that we are accomplishing our mission and moving toward the vision for our lives. By scheduling our priorities, and then acting on them (let's not forget that!), we reduce the chance that the trivial will overtake the vital.

Typically, I'll schedule my priorities each month, so I'll address that more when I get to it.

So here's a brief picture of what I have so far. If you can benefit from it, great. If you can suggest something better, I'd love to see it. I know this is a work in progress.

1) Have my planner clearly visible, along with mission, vision, and goals.
2) Look to see what's coming up for the next week
3) Make changes to my schedule as items are added, deleted, moved, or delegated
a) Note and act on to-dos for the day according to importance or date and time of event
b) Be sure to leave margin (don't fill up every moment, leave time for rest and the unknown)
c) Take advantage of serendipitous moments (not scheduled, but adds to our day)
4) Focus on developing a positive habit
5) Focus on growing in key roles:
a) Faith: Adore & enjoy God's presence
b) Fitness: Live as a temple of God
c) Family: Love all; brighten wife & son's day
d) Friends: Show love to at least one person
e) Favor: Do something specific to glorify God & live right
f) Finances: Know I'm a steward of God
g) Firm: Be a God-honoring employee
6) Focus on living MAXIMIZERS principles
7) Journal how I'm doing, feeling, learning
8) At end of day, note items done, delegated, delayed, deleted.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Key roles

Dr. Jenson suggests we set goals for the key roles in our life. So what are your key roles? He came up with seven that pretty much cover it. Of course, make the list according to what fits you best:

Faith (goes along with the Energize Internally principle from MAXIMIZERS): Who or what's at your core? Who or what do you turn to for guidance, inspiration, and strength? Remember, like a placebo, our God (or god) is not powerful just because we think it is, but because it is. If I put my faith in a rock, no matter how hard I believe it won't do me any good.

Fitness (physical, mental, and emotional): How are you doing? Is your body in shape (or are you working toward that)? Do you have unresolved emotional issues? Are you learning and growing mentally?

Family: How are your relations with your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and extended family?

Friends: How are your friendships? Do you have people you can be yourself with? Can you be truly open with at least a few people?

Finances (I include money and possessions here, like cars & house): Are these in good shape?

Firm (I include both career and career-related education here): Are you working at a job you enjoy? If not, are you still giving your best? Are you prepared to move on to another job should this one go away?

Favor (this can also be a part of the "Faith" dimension or the "Finanances"): How are you contributing to society, your church, etc? Are you making a positive difference? Even if you are helping one or two people, that's something.

Fun: Are you enjoying times away from the hustle and bustle just to relax and have fun?

Well, I hope that however you categorize your roles, you are addressing each of them. We can't be all about work and ignore our family. We can't just have fun and ignore work. One of Dr. Jenson's criteria for authentic success is to be complete in all vital areas of life. May God show each of us where we can improve, and help us appreciate where we're doing well (but not to rest on our laurels). As for me, I know I fall especially short in Fitness (physical) and Firm. I need to put extra effort into those so they can "catch up."