Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Egypt #5: Look at ME!

Many of the temples erected by the Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt had “Birth Rooms” or “Birth Houses” not because that is where they were born or that is the place for others to be born but because they wanted the people to know they were part of an exclusive club. Being Pharaoh meant being special and in order to prove that they were special they would have to show it in sculpture and paintings in theses rooms. Amenhotep III showed that he was the physical son of the god Amun. The inscriptions on his Birth Room show how Amun visited Thutmose IV wife in her chamber, disguised as her husband. After she was pregnant the words of Amun were “Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, is the name of this child I have placed in your body. He shall exercise the beneficent kingship in the whole land. He shall rule the two lands like Ra forever.”

So their birth was divine but how was their life? This was shown on the temple pylons and outer walls built by each Pharaoh. The Temple Pylons are the two large walls you must walk between to get into the temple complex, many still remain today because they were so huge. On them would be the inscriptions of how great these Pharaoh’s deeds were. It showed the “smiting’ scene where the Pharaoh smote all the enemies of Egypt and lists all the accomplishments of the Pharaoh in colored, sculpted painting and elegant hieroglyphs.

The inside of each temple was lined with the religious acts of the Pharaoh. All his plunder and sacrifices that were given to ensure the favor of the god that temple was dedicated to. Offering after offering is depicted on the walls leading to the holy of holies in the temple where the god resided and accepted the Ka of those offerings while the physical (less important) parts of the offerings were consumed by the priests attending that god.

It seriously got to the point where we, on our tour, had ENOUGH of the offering scenes which were depicted ad nausea throughout all the temples we went to. Offering after offering, pile after pile of goods, list after list of god appeasements, scene after scene … LET’S SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

It seemed to be a scream of identity. “Let me in!” to this exclusive club. Or “I am SOMEBODY!” and “LOOK WHAT I HAVE DONE!” The fact is we do the same thing today, may not on such a BIG scale, but we do. Teens and Twenties will pick clothes based on what group we want to belong to; our clothes say “Let me in! I’m with you!” Thirties to fifties will work to the point being able to say “I AM SOMEBODY!” And finally the sixties and beyond we live off the reputation and “Look what I have DONE!”

The Ancient Egyptians carved it in stone while we may carve it in stock portfolios and bank accounts or big houses but we build our monuments too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Egypt #4: New Age Loons

We ran into the loons in Egypt. Not the birds that walked among the reeds of the Nile but the kind that have something wrong in their head. Our first experience was while we were waiting in line to get tickets for the Great Pyramid of Giza. These tickets would allow us entry INSIDE the pyramid and only a few hundred in the morning and another few hundred in the afternoon were allowed. While we were waiting to be among that few hundred we were told by our guide that a group, primarily Americans, paid over $15,000 to open the pyramid early so that just 10 of them to get into the pyramid by themselves for an hour to “meditate”. They believed in the power of the pyramid and believed they would gain special “knowledge” or “blessing” from that meditation. The pyramid was cool to be in but certainly didn’t give me any special powers when I was there. But maybe there were too many of us and I didn’t meditate right.

Our second encounter with the loons of Egypt was in Abydos. Abydos is the holy site of ancient Egypt. After the epic battle between Osiris and Set led to the dismemberment of Osiris he was again reassembled in Abydos and later buried there after reviving enough to have a child with his wife Isis. Osiris was worshipped for thousands of years as the god who ushered you into the afterlife and so his burial place was important. You can find the oldest temple, rivaling that of the great pyramids in Abydos. Within one of the temples at Abydos you will find sculptures up high in the supports of the roof with unusual Egyptian characters. One looks a LOT like a helicopter, one like a submarine and another like a blimp. How did the ancients know these items? How did they sculpt them into their stone 4000 years ago? Many of these New Age Loons will tell you it was because of aliens or at least a “special” knowledge grasped by the ancients and so we found many lugging their “prayer” rugs around Abydos so they could meditate and pray in this sacred alien place.

Now I love ancient Egypt and am developing relationships with some modern Egyptians as well but I don’t worship the ancients or the aliens who may have influenced them. I look at the monoliths and I see nothing more than human ingenuity. Enough people and enough time and you can move a mountain or build a mountain. The work done by the ancients was hard work but it wasn’t hard-to-understand work. We are amazed simply because we build buildings in a matter of a few years where they would plan for decades. We are amazed because they would coordinate tens of thousands of people to work together and we have trouble with more than three trying to get together. We are amazed because they maintained a culture for five thousand years and we are worrying about whether we will last through our third century.

Don’t worship men who worshipped gods that were poor substitutes for the true God. Don’t meditate on wonders of human ingenuity when you have the same image of God within yourself. Don’t stand amazed at the past; do appreciate it, do learn from it, and most of all DO follow the truth into the future.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Akhenaten ruled only 17 years as Pharaoh of Egypt but his influence was astounding. Imagine a new president coming to the US and this president deciding to change the center of power from Washington DC to the middle of the desert in central Nevada. They would have to start building new buildings from the foundation up, then work on the infrastructure of roads, airports, power lines, etc. Then they would have to move all the governmental support with the people, copy machines, computers, office furniture. They would then have to fill in with the Walmarts, Home Depots, Pharmacies, and Bars. You get the idea.

That is what Akhenaten did. He moved EVERYTHING from the capital near Cairo to a new capital 350 miles away in the middle of the desert called Amarna. He moved the whole government, people and all, to this new site. But what he did that REALLY changed everything was to outlaw the gods of Egypt. He “starved out” the temples to all gods but one: the Egyptian god Aten, the sun god. He changed his name from Amenhotep (Amun is happy) to Akhenaten (Spirit of Aten). This was heretical to the people, but what can you do when your king, the ultimate ruler, said “jump”?

It took a LOT of money to do this. It took a lot of confidence in Aten to do this. That is why many biblical historians believe that Akhenaten was the Pharaoh of Joseph. Joseph influenced Amenhotep with the dream interpretation of HUGE prosperity followed by TERRIBLE famine. Joseph influence Amenhotep towards ONE God, the God who shines on all people, not just the Egyptians. Joseph influenced Amenhotep to become Akhenaten, the Spirit of the One God. Because of the prosperity Egypt was awash in gold, because of the famine and being the ONLY one with food Egypt was FLOODED with gold, people looking for work, and people who couldn’t ply their trade anywhere else. Just what is needed to build a new city in the middle of the desert.

It is interesting that built into the four corners of this new city were steles (tombstone like granite plaques) which were inscribed with the rules for behavior and commands for living in this new city. Here are some of the commands: “There is no God but Aten, you shall worship the Aten and the Aten alone.” And “You shall make no images of the Aten out of wood or stone.” (which, again, was radical because ALL the other gods had images made of them) The Aten was represented only in beams of light coming from the sun which gave light, warmed, and even was shown with little hands on the end of the beams indicating that all we have is from the Aten.

I don’t know if Akhenaten was influenced by Joseph or not. I don’t know if his view of the Aten was really the same God we serve but I do know he changed everything from the government, to the religion, to the art (check out Amarna period Egyptian art). Change came only from HUGE amounts of money and willing workers. But his changes didn’t last long. Akhenaten’s son Tutankhaten (Living image of Aten) became pharaoh at the age of nine due to the untimely death of his father and older brother. He died only 9 years later at 18 and many believe he was murdered because of his father’s heretical ways. (Many priests were unhappy that their patron god was de-funded by Akhenaten). Even though the boy tried to change back under the influence of his “vizier” Ay and changed his name from “Living image of Aten” to “Living image of Amun” or Tutankhamun or as we know him King Tut.

A short 32 years later the 18th dynasty of Egypt came to a close and there came a new dynasty of pharaohs who probably didn’t know Joseph and probably would have made those troublesome Hebrews work a little harder for a LOT less money.

Egypt 2: The Mummy Room

The Cairo Museum is a musty old place. It was built in 1902 and it looks it. It has, obviously, had many remodels and some modernization but basically it is the same as it was over 100 years ago. The good news is that Egypt is building a new museum on the Giza Plateau, next to the Great Pyramids; the bad news is that even with the new museum they will not be able to house more than 25% of all the “stuff” they have for people to see. Right now 95% of Egyptian antiquities are in storage and not displayed.

Most of the display cases in the museum are old mahogany with think smudged glass surrounding the priceless artifacts. It smells of old wood and dust, the tiled floors are swept mainly by the feet of the thousands of visitors each day but behind the cases you will find the desert dust accumulating. After touring with our guide for a while we get free time to look at whatever we want. There are a few items I am interested in:
- Ahkenaten: the heretic pharaoh who believed in the ONE god.
- Merneptah Stele: the only etched evidence of Israel in Egypt.
- Coffers: There are many “boxes” or “arks” which were buried with the kings.
- Ushabtis: Little statues buried with the Kings and Wealthy to help them in the afterlife.
- The Silver Coffins: In the 22nd Dynasty the kings built for themselves silver sarcophaguses instead of the gold covered wood. These was actually MORE valuable than King Tut’s gold sarcophagus.
- The Mummy Room …

The Mummy Room is a modern addition. They remodeled one of the old rooms and made it climate controlled for preservation of the bodies. I first look at Hatshepsut who was a female pharaoh in the 18th dynasty. She MIGHT have been the princess who pulled Moses from the Nile. She is famous for being the daughter of a Pharaoh, the wife of a Pharaoh, and the mother of a Pharaoh as well as being the Pharaoh herself while her son grew up. I look at the face of the Greatest Pharaoh of all time, Ramses II or Ramses the Great; I am amazed by a few things. He is a small man. I would judge that he was not more than 5 and a half feet tall. He had a receding hair line and curly hair. He looked like his father, Seti I who was lies next to him and also similar features to his grandfather Ramses I who was also nearby.

These Pharaohs left instructions for the preservation of their body and their eventual burial with their children. Most honored their parents with monuments and riches for them to take into the afterlife hoping for the same from their children. Seventy days of mourning and embalming, paid mourners lined the funeral procession as the body passed along the causeway from the funerary temple to the pyramid or to the Nile river for its journey to the tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was packed with chariots, games, food, gold, statues for servants, boxes of clothes and jewelry; everything you might need in your journey to the afterlife. The anticipation of eternity.

Amazingly they all achieved a kind of immortality. We can still see them in glass boxes in a climate controlled room in Cairo. But almost every tomb was raided and robbed in antiquity, almost every mummy was cast aside, used as firewood or fertilizer and had little importance until the last 150 years. Their Ka and Ba (Egyptian soul) is somewhere but I don’t believe it will be joined again with their mummified body like they thought it would be. Eternal life is more than your skill at embalming, it is more than the right incantations and charms, and it is definitely more than how much gold you can cover your coffin with. Eternal life is relationship with the ONE God and not being Ra-mses or “child of Ra”.

Egypt 1: The Pyramids

My second time in Egypt and my second time at the Giza Plateau proved that they are no less awesome today. You can see them from a distance as our little mini-bus takes us close but you cannot grasp how big they are from that view. Even parking within was seems like a little walk away proves to be a LONG walk as they grow larger and larger in your camera view screen. You have to stop taking pictures of the whole because the whole no longer fits and you are still hundreds of yards away. So you take pictures of parts of it and finally all you can get is a few of the monolithic blocks in your camera as you stand close and look up at this immense stairway to heaven.

The largest pyramid is open for sneaking in if you get there early enough. We did and it truly felt like we were sneaking into the greatest man-made structure in history, the only one left of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Khufu (or Greek Cheops) lifts up her skirts and lets mere mortals take a look underneath.

We start by climbing a hundred modern wooden steps to get up the few ancient blocks to the side opening of Khufu and our cameras are taken from us by a head-dressed Egyptian. There is only one way in and one way out, so they will be there for our return. You can smell the age but it isn’t the musty, humid smell of basements in my memory, it is a dry, dusty, OLD smell. We find a smooth but declining floor lit by fluorescent tubes on the bottom and in the corners so they cast an eerie upward shadow in the tunnel. After about a hundred feet of descending we find a smaller square tunnel in which we have to bend over to ascend, there are boards on the floor to help you climb. Khufu had decided to build his burial chamber UP instead of down and under, so we go UP. “Where’s the escalator?” cried my Las Vegas mindset. Hundreds of steps, bent over and climbing with many stops waiting on people ahead and sucking the dry, old, but now sweaty oxygen. We reached a small landing and made our way through a ladder fed hole in the ceiling only to find another stairway leading farther up and farther in. But this chamber had plenty of head room, in fact it had an amazingly HUGE gap from us to the ceiling. We could see the human traffic jam now as we slowly made our way up. The final landing was only about 5x8 feet as we waited to get into a hole in the wall that was only about 3 foot tall and about 15 foot long. This final tunnel gave us entrance to Khufu’s burial chamber. Only a few could fit through the tunnel at a time and only one direction, we had to take turns. My turn into the tunnel and I met an Asian woman who HAD to get out and didn’t want to wait. She simply got on her hands and knees and crawled between my legs as we met in the middle of the small tunnel. Her daughter apologized profusely as I got into the chamber and found her waiting for me.

The chamber was nothing special. A comparatively large room about 15x20 with no carvings and no paintings on the wall. A simple stone sarcophagus in the one side, no mummy, no gold, just time packed into stone. I was left wondering what these walls have seen over the last 5000 years. From the pounding construction sounds to the pomp of the pharaoh’s funeral procession to the people who robbed and desecrated to the passion of explorers and archeologists to the passage of thousands of years to finally me, here, now.

I seem small and insignificant as I feel the sweat pouring off my face when I pass through that same small tunnel and make my way back to the entrance. I am reminded of the Tower of Babel story in scripture and one of my lessons from that story is that “Man united can do absolutely AMAZING things.” And that is why God doesn’t let us do it too often. I suck in the fresh air and welcome the sun on my face as I emerge again into the real light.

Where do Ethics come From? The Trolley Problem

So we have discussed Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant and Mills and their different take on where ethics come from. Some sadist named Phillipa Foot in the 1950's came up with an ethics test called the "Trolley Problem" which goes something like this.
A trolley is running out of control down a track. in its path are five people who are tied to the track. Happily, it is possible to flip a switch that will send the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there's one person tied to that track who will be killed if you flip the switch. What should you do?

Most people would say you flip the switch. Would you?

An even worse sadist names Judith Thomson proposed an amendment to the Trolley problem. The scenario is the same except this time you're standing on a bridge under which th trolley will pass, and there's a large mand standing next to you. The only way to save the five people is to push him onto the track, thereby stopping the trolley. What would you do?

The transaction is the same. One person dies to save five but there is something different about this scenario. Most people would NOT take the active role of pushing the man to save five others.

Here's my take on the Trolley Problem. A difference between the two is how active the parties are involved in the scenario. The one tied to the track is already involved somehow, the one standing next to you is an outside observer as you are. In other words, we think the one tied to the track is "dead already" and the one next to us is not. Hence are ease at condemning one and not the other.

The reality of the situation is that this is a false situation with a false premise. It is assuming I cannot sacrifice myself to stop the train. It is assuming I cannot jump out and untie one or all of the individuals. It is assuming that there is NO OTHER alternative to the two options laid out. So my simple answer is: "I don't ride the trolley." I don't buy your scenario and your parameters. There are ALWAYS more alternatives, our problem is that we refuse to see them because they require sacrifice, pain or simply inconvenience on our part.

Get active, get involved, make the hard choices NOW so that there never will occur a Trolley Problem in your life. Get off the trolley!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where do Ethics come From? Part 4

Aristotle's thought ethics came from choosing to do GOOD rather than choosing to do BAD.
Rousseau thought ethics needed to be forced on you by an absolute authority or leviathan.
Hobbes thought ethics were determined by the majority and so we need a government to force that majority belief upon us to have a GOOD society.

Kant believed in a variation of the golden rule where GOOD would be achieved by everybody asking themselves BEFORE they act "would I want this done to me?"

John Stuart Mill was a utilitarian. Which means that ethics and what is GOOD is determined by whatever promotes happiness at the time you make the decision. Does this give pleasure or pain? Mill is talking about aggregate happiness of the greatest number of people though, not necessary your personal happiness. Mill had to build in some checks so that we all don't become totally hedonistic (seeking only our pleasure all the time) so he came up with certain kinds of pleasure being better than others. Listening to good music, for example, is likely a better kind of pleasure than spending the day eating Ben and Jerry's ice-cream. He explained this by calling on experience: nobody who has experienced both higher and lower pleasures would be willing to swap a life of higher pleasure for lower ones. He said "No intelligent human being would consent to be a fool though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs."

There are, of course, many problems with this. Not the least of which is the fact that the GOOD in Mill's case would be the pleasure of the greatest amount of people. But mob rule is rarely a good thing especially when practiced at the pleasure of the KKK or Gestapo. This also leaves too much room for personal choice, I would be hurting if all there was was Starbucks since I don't like coffee or chocolate but Starbucks seems to give pleasure to a GREAT amount of people therefore I must be a BAD person.

It, again, boils down to the NECESSITY of having an outside arbitrator of what is good or bad. A rule or guide given to us by someone who knows the truth and the best and has our best interests in mind. Sounds like a Savior I know and a Word I try to follow, doesn't it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where do Ethics come From? Part 3

Aristotle's thought ethics came from choosing to do GOOD rather than choosing to do BAD.
Rousseau thought ethics needed to be forced on you by an absolute authority or leviathan.
Hobbes thought ethics were determined by the majority and so we need a government to force that majority belief upon us to have a GOOD society.

Kant had a slightly different take on the nature of ethics. He didn't really care if we were born bad or born good. He though that all we need to do in order to be ethical would be to impose the "golden rule" on every decision we make. Think BEFORE you choose: "would I want this done to me if I were on the other end of this?" If I borrow money from you with NO intent of ever giving it back, would I want that done to me? If I sneak into your home and steal your 64 inch flat screen TV would I want someone to do that to me?

Kant believed that if EVERYBODY thought this way BEFORE they acted then society would be an ethical one. This sounds very rational and efficient but is practically impossible. We are selfish animals and so that battle must be won first. When we win over our selfishness then we get into the rationalization problems inherent in the system. What if I steal from you to feed my family? What if I steal from you because you have so much more than I do? What if I steal from you to give to those who don't have any? Once we get past the selfishness issue and the rationalizing issue then we are left with the ability to make this simple choice of the golden rule.

I believe that Jesus, who espoused the golden rule, had an even better one that people keep forgetting. Call it the platinum rule: "Love God and Love your neighbor." If every decision you made you would not only ask yourself: "would I want this done to me?" ask Kant says; but would also ask "Does this show my love for God or my love for my neighbor?" then you would be an ethical person if you can answer yes to those questions on every decision.

Kant was right but didn't go far enough, Jesus takes us the rest of the way.

Where do Ethics come From? Part 2

So Aristotle believes you are good because you do good things, the more good things you do the better person you would be; therefore, ethics is simply choosing the good over the bad.

Hobbes and Rousseau had some VERY different ideas of where ethics come from. Hobbes said that without the civilizing effect of societal pressure we would be poor, nasty, brutish, and live in continual fear. Rousseau was a little more optimistic because he called us "noble savages" who lived only for SELF and a desire to fulfill only our immediate needs. Hobbes saw civilization as the only means to taming the savage beast and that includes handing some of our "rights" as individuals over to an absolute authority (he called leviathon). This social contract is the only thing keeping us safe and sane. Rousseau bought into the social contract idea but believed that the only way for people to overcome their savagery is for them to accept the "general will" of the public as expressed in government.

The question these two are answering is this: "Is monstrous, unethical behavior natural or is it created by society?" Is society or the will of the masses the savior or the problem as far as ethics is concerned? In order to fix us do we need to fix society first? If we have a perfect government will we have perfect people?

The Bible tells us that we are corrupted from birth and will always have that bent towards doing the wrong thing. We must constantly struggle against that bent.

Growing up on the farm I remember trying to get the pickup truck out of a rut that was hard caked into the ground. It was a constant battle to get the wheels out of the rut and onto the smoother surface. The steering wheel fought me the whole time and I really didn't need to drive if I kept in the rut since the rut steered for me. That is like us and our nature. We are in this rut that keeps pulling us back in, it's easier, and even a kind of autopilot to just do what our nature tells us to do. To be an ethical person takes hard work, fighting against the rut and never letting go of the steering wheel.

Society and government is a reflection of the individuals that make up that society. When we are good people, fighting to be even better we will have a better and better society. Society doesn't civilize us as Hobbes claims, nor does society tell us what is ethical by majority vote as Rousseau claims. WE are society and what we do is echoed and even amplified in our society/government.

So choose wisely.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Where do Ethics come From? Part 1

Aristotle's first run for being good is that there are no rules. Being good is about developing your character, so that you are disposed to do the best thing in each situation. It is NOT about internalizing some moral manual. Human being are creatures of habit and just as a good musician becomes so by practicing, so, by doing virtuous things, we become virtuous people.

But then the question becomes, "What is virtue?" According to Aristotle it is living according to our natures as rational animals. A good dog does doggy things well. A good human does good human things. We can be guided towards the right action by NOT thinking of good and bad as opposite ends of a spectrum but we must think of good as lying on a "mean" or middle of the two BAD extremes. For instance, courage lied between the excess of rashness and the deficiency of cowardice; generosity between meanness and profligacy; kindness between the excess of ignoring others and the deficiency of indulgence.

Aristotle's ethics are about more than being good - they are about living right. So doing the right thing is not about following rules, but striking the correct balance according to the circumstances.

This seems to make sense and in a society where people actually have the urge to BE virtuous or good, it would work. Unfortunately we live in a society where people no longer believe in virtue or goodness. So we lock up our kids after school instead of letting them play in the streets, we take the keys out of our cars in our driveways and lock our houses at night.
The thinking is circular and so illogical. We know what the right thing to do is because we see it in the good people, we know they are good people because they do good things, they do good things because ... they are good people. Um, wait?

Now Aristotle was attempting to describe a perfect world but as long as selfishness, greed, and evil is present there will not be a perfect world. But that doesn't mean you should not be virtuous or good. What it means is that you must work VERY HARD at being good in a bad world. It also means that we need some OUTSIDE standard that will determine whether what we do is good or not because we cannot rely on the good we see in others.

Now, where did we put that 10 commandments again? Oh, yea, here it is!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun Philosophy 2: The Ghost in the Machine

The 20th century philosopher Gilbert Ryle said that philosophers who think of the mind as a kind of thing that causes the body to move are making a bad mistake. He called the view of the mind "the ghost in the machine". He would walk around Oxford and would say, "I see all these buildings but where is Oxford?" The mistake is in thinking that Oxford is in the sum of its buildings, but it is more than that. Ryle claimed that those who think of the mind as a thing in addition to the body are missing the point that the body and its activities comprises the mind. In other words your mind is NOT just your brain. You mind is made up of all the actions, activities and decisions of your WHOLE BODY. When we say someone has an inquisitive mind we cannot pull that brain out of the person and find the inquisitive part and analyze it. What we are saying is that all the actions of that person, the questions and movements indicate that they are inquisitive. That person behaves in inquisitive ways. The mind is not a ghost in the machine it is a way of describing the machines activities.

Modern science has been throwing wrenches at this ghost in the machine. Brain scans have revealed actual places where inquisitiveness comes from, where joy shows up as firing neurons, and where anger can be removed or lessened. So the question for us fun philosophers is which is it?

Are you the sum of your parts? You raise your hand due to a decision made by firing neurons in your head which tell you that if you do you will be rewarded because other neurons tell you that it happened in the past that way.

Of are you something separate from your actions, activities, and decisions. As if you could stand outside your body and direct it and have everything still work?

Is your mind in your brain or is it something outside your physical body? If you were cloned would your clone have a "mind"?

If you take the Bible seriously you would have the answer to this question. God created us special and put his "image" within us. God's Image is the Ghost in the Machine. We stand outside our physical bodies as spiritual beings. Every time you make a decision it and use your "mind" you are proving that God exists. And those who don't know that are simply out of their mind.

Fun Philosophy 1: The Demon, Determinism, and Free Will

Pierre Simon Laplace supposed that everything is composes of atoms and that the motions of atoms are governed by the laws that Isaac Newton discovered in the 17th century. Laplace imagined a super intelligent and mathematically gifted demon, who knows the positions and velocities of all particles in the universe at a particular time, along with all the laws of nature. He claimed that this demon could compute the positions and velocities of all particles at every other time. The demon then could PREDICTE where you body would be and how it would be moving next year from your history and the history of time. Basically he was saying that Newton's laws were deterministic or you could predict the future based on his laws.

Interesting, but what does that mean, really? What it means is that you future is already determined. "I knew you were going to say that!" you would say. If the motions of every atom in your body have been determined when God set everything in motion way back when; then you have no control over your movements, they have been predetermined. Laplace then stated that ether Newton's deterministic laws are false or Free Will is an illusion.

Many philosophers have battled with this paradox of free will vs. determinism and many have made good attempts at resolving it in some form of free will within the confines of determinism but the conflict is still there. Today philosopher/physicists believe that Newton's laws are probabilities and not absolutes. In other words, these laws work MOST of the time the rest of the time Quantum laws take effect. But it would be wrong to say that Quantum mechanics is not deterministic simply because we haven't figured it out yet.

I said all that to say this: Does free will exist? If not, can we have things like justice and morals? Is everything pre-determined for us? If not, what do we do with the laws we keep discovering? This paradox of free will vs. determinism is a VERY biblical battle as well and it has split churches.

The problem with a seemingly irresolvable conflict or paradox is that we tend to throw our hands up in despair and give up. I mean, if all the smart people can't figure it out, how can we? But remember: the growth doesn't happen in reaching the answer, the growth happens in the struggle to get there. Let's struggle together.

I NEVER tell the Truth

Another paradox or isn't it?

The ancient Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea spent most of his time on the paradoxes of time and motion. For example it can be logically argued that Achilles (the fastest man EVER) could never catch up to a tortoise if he gave the tortoise a head start. This is because in order for Achilles to overtake the tortoise he MUST reach where the tortoise is/was, but by that time the tortoise has moved on. So then he must reach where the tortoise has moved on to but by then, of course, the tortoise has moved on again, and so on and so on, as infinitum.

Also Zeno logically proved that any arrow shot from a bow cannot possibly move. Since at any moment of time, the arrow had to completely occupy a certain space. Like a photograph, at any given moment, the arrow is where it is and not somewhere else. Hence, it is stationary. If time is nothing more than a series of moments, and if the arrow is stationary at every particular moment, then it NEVER MOVES!
Yet we know that arrows do move and the fastest man can overtake a tortoise, so what is flawed? Our view of reality or the logic of the paradox?

Zeno's paradoxes had the ancient world running hard just to stay still. But what these questions/paradoxes do is allow us to get to the right questions. Knowledge is NOT having the answers as much as it is having the right questions. What is time? Is time made up of a series of ever smaller chunks called moments or is it something else? Einstein called time the fourth dimension in his theories. The universe was NOT just made up of length, width, and height; it was also made up of time. With Uncle Albert time was NOT an infinite series of moments, time was fluid and could be flexed, shortened and lengthened.

This introduced a whole NEW batch of paradoxes: can I arrive BEFORE I leave? Can I go back in time and kill one of my ancestors? What would happen if I meet myself?
Just when we think we got this world figured out; God throws us another curve. The world is flat; nope it round. The planets revolve around the earth; nope we revolve around the sun. Things fall faster if they are heavier; nope gravity works the same on heavy and light. Newtonian physics explains the universe; nope not quite, what about relativity and the speed of light. Newton and Einstein figured it out; nope quantum physics is needed to explain certain phenomena. Quantum physics is than answer; nope ... whatever is next is just around the corner with its own paradoxes to explain.

God is not a cruel pet owner teasing his cat with a string that he will never catch. God is enjoying the sense of discovery in his world like a home designer hearing you go "oooohhh, ahhhhh" at every corner that has something new and neat.

"When I look at your heavens, the works of your hands; what is man that you are mindful of him?"

This sentence is False

Wait, what? Did you catch the paradox? If the sentence is false then it must be true, but if it is true then it must be false so if it is false it must be true ... .

Paradox was a plaything of Greek philosophers. Epimenides wrote down the first documented one around the sixth century BC. He, who was from Crete, stated "All Cretans are liars." Their logic attempted to unravel the paradox and succeeded with many of them by simply defining their terms and coming up with the difference between language of instruction and the language of reality (vs. Absurdity). Other Greeks decided they could just live with a few contradictions.

Bertrand Russell asked "In a village, the barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself/herself, but no one else. Who shaves the barber?"

Even normal life fills us with paradoxes: "Don't go near the water until you have learned to swim." or "Nobody goes to that restaurant; it's too crowded" or "If you get this message, call me, and if you don't then don't worry about it" of "Raise your hand if you are not here."
Scripture is also FULL of these seeming paradoxes. You must die in order to live. You must give in order to get. If you are comfortable you should be uncomfortable. And many others. Opposition to God and scripture make fun of these and even create their own paradoxes: "If God is almighty and creator of everything can he create a stone too heavy for him to lift?" and "If God is good he cannot be almighty because there is bad in the world, if God is almighty then he cannot be good since he allows bad in the world."

These paradoxes are easy to unravel but there are paradoxes in the world that seem to question life's order and spiritual meaning. There are simply questions that we CANNOT answer. Maybe because there is no answers or resolutions. Quantum and Newtonian physics or light as a wave or a particle or chaos theory. Or simply the question of how and why we love? Maybe it is the conflict, the paradox, the journey that is important and not the resolution. Or not.

Which one of you said, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple."? Whoever is was, you're a liar... or ... telling the truth.

The Fifth Element

Ancient philosophers banged their heads together to come up with the ESSENTIAL elements that the universe is made up of. One thought everything boiled down to water. Water is most of the earth and makes up most of us. Another believed it was dirt, or earth. After all we return to the dirt after we die so earth must be one of the basic elements. Then there were the fire starters who believed that everything burned and that energy of fire was a core element in our makeup, once we lost our fire we were gone. Then, of course, there was the Wind faction. That invisible force that influenced everything and everyone. These four elements were fought over to the point that ALL of them came to be known as the Four Essential Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.

The question then became: "How do these four elements interact with each other?" Water breaks down earth, earth blocks wind, wind enhances fire, fire boils water, water feeds earth, earth funnels wind, wind blows out fire, fire it put out by water, etc. So began the search for the Fifth Element. The Fifth Essential (quintessential) element that explained everything. That perfect answer to the questions of elemental interaction.

Socrates tackled this problem calling the quintessential element "ether" and described it as the "pure essence where the gods lived and which they breathed" The ether had no measurable qualities (hot, cold, wet, dry, etc) but you could observe its influence on planet systems and in the lives of people. Later science disproved the ether theories in favor of gravity and the atomic.

We have lost that sense of the Fifth or Quintessential Element but we still struggle to define it. Now we seek to bring together the two essential theories in Physics: Newtonian Physics based on normal gravitational influences and Quantum Physics based on EXTREME gravitational influences like black holes and bent space. So now with two contradictory theories to explain observable interactions we are left looking for the ether again. This time it is called the "Theory of Everything" which will combine quantum mechanics with general relativity. Hawking's new book "The Grand Design" attempts to solve this with his version of ether called the "Multiverse" after his failed attempt to explain it in his earlier book on string theory.
I tend to fall back on one the best philosophical minds of the first century AD. Who referred back to those Greek philosophers when he described God as not living in temples built by hands and not needing anything from us because God gives all life and breath to men. He is never far from us and if we reach into the ether we can find him for "In HIM we live and move and have our being" or God IS the ether you are looking for. That essential element that resolves and controls all the elements.

God himself is the quintessential Fifth Element.

Monday, September 13, 2010


How often have you heard the word "love" today? On the one had we NEVER hear it enough from those WE love. But on the other hand we hear it too much and that, I believe, is the problem.

I followed behind a couple, in their thirties and a little overweight, at a salad bar restaurant. Here is a summary of their conversation: "Ooooh. I love this kind of salad don't you? Don't you just love it. Here look! I love these, these are great, I love them on a salad. Didn't you just love that meal we had last night. Well, they have those corn and peas here that you can put on your salad because I KNOW you LOVE them. Ahhh, cucumbers, I love cucumbers AND I love these small tomatoes. Don't you just love them?" To each love comment the guy nodded his head and just said, "Love it!" every now and again.

Words are important and we denigrate words when we used them for other than their intended and MEANINGFUL purpose. Now we all know our idioms and we know the evolution of words like: "cool, far out, NICE, bad, etc." When I say I love my grandson it means something more than if I say I love sweet peas doesn't it? Shouldn't it? No wait, I REALLY love my grandson but I only love my vegetables.

The way to the heart is through the words of the mind and when we disengage our mind from our heart language we've lost something. We have lost to ability to express how we really feel. We end up having to define our words in order to get the emotion accross. "So when I say I love you I am saying that it is more than I love vegetables and more than my car but less than the Indianapolis Colts when they win the Superbowl."

Mindless love leads only to error and miscommunication. A mindless fervor in love leads to abuse and burnout. A mindless spiritual love leads to cultic error and emptiness. The way to engage the heart is through the mind. Words are the language of the mind, if you don't believe me trying silent reading without repeating the words on the page in your mind, you can't. Even though you are reading silently your mind HEARS the words you are reading. But if the words you hear have a diluted or lost meaning it will never "sink in" and you won't really hear it.
My father never told his kids he loved them when we were growing up. Only recently have I been able to say "I love you dad" on the phone to him as I get ready to hang up. At 50 years old I heard my say I love you for the first time. It went through my ear, through my mind and straight to my heart.

Say it, say it often and MEAN IT!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Inc. Magazine asked successful entrepreneurs what it took to be successful or what was the most important thing they learned on the way to building their company. Here are a few of the gems:

• Get in over your head. Never take on something that you can handle always attack something that is just beyond your reach. That is the only way you GROW.
• Focus on simple things and target them. You don't have to become the next Facebook, there is plenty of success in being less known but stay focused.
• You will be remembered for how you deal with the ups and downs. What will people say about you when you are successful? What will they say about you during the hard times?
• Failing gracefully is more important than succeeding.
• Surround yourself with great people and you will be great.
• Hire slow; fire fast.
• It will take four times as much work as you expect but it will be ten times more rewarding than you imagined.
• There is ALWAYS a solution.
• Never confuse a consultant with a partner.
• You don't lose until you give up.

I find it amazing that most of the wisdom that comes from successful businessmen and women is the same wisdom that comes from scripture. Each one of these has a biblical equivalent that could be found but more importantly they keep with the moral code of the Bible.

There is NOTHING biblical about being comfortable where you are. The Bible is all about growth , learning, trying, experimenting. When you fail it is all about forgiveness, moving on, seeking advisors, working it out, and MOVING ON! When you succeed the Bible is all about teaching, sharing, and giving thanks.

There is NOTHING biblical about being taken care of or expecting blessings to be showered on you. There is NOTHING biblical about doing the minimum to get by. There is NOTHING biblical about expecting the rich or the Government to take care of you. There is NOTHING biblical about license or sloth.

Take a chance. Start a company. Start working for FREE until they decide to pay you. Start at minimum wage just for the love of WORK and MOVING and GROWING and LEARNING. The skills and gumption needed in handing out burgers at MacDonald's is closer to running your own company than you would think.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ten Best Jobs of the Future

According to Popular Science magazine these are the Ten Best Jobs of the future that you still in school should be aiming for:

1. Human/Robot Interaction Specialist: help robots and people get along
2. Space Pilot: Fly commercial shuttles into space
3. Fetus Healer: Cure babies BEFORE they are born
4. Forecaster of Everything: Analyze data to predict the future
5. Organ Designer: Make organs from scratch
6. Animal Migration Engineer: Create new habitats for all critters
7. World Watcher: See it all through satellites
8. Galactic Architect: Build cosmic outposts
9. Fusion Worker: Manage fusion reactors
10. Thought Hacker: Read thoughts through facial and body clues

Now I don't know how many of you know what Post-Millennialism is but this is definitely a Post Millennial point of view. Or another way to say the same thing is to call it the Star Trek point of view. It is the view that everything is getting better and better until we can envision a utopian society. Based on a (kind of) Christian world view of the end times where the world will get better and better and so good that Christ will come with everybody welcoming him since we are doing so good in society.

I don't believe that things necessarily will get worse and worse and so we should just give up and say "who is John Galt?" But I do believe that without divine influence we will degenerate into a pre-flood kind of society. So in an effort to inject a virus of reality into PopSci's view of the future let me give you my take on the Ten Best Jobs of the Future:

1. Bicycle Repair Person: rebuild and repair bikes because cars will be too expensive to drive
2. Post Religion Spiritual Counselor: Since anything religious will be pushed to the crazy fringe, people will still need help answering ultimate questions
3. Computer Magicians: Since only a few religiously intense programmers will understand what computers do and how they work they will be considered magicians or priests.
4. Public Transportation Planners: Plan the best way for people to get to work to avoid delays, breakdowns, and government snafus
5. Parent Brokers: Since our kids have become so unruly with a lack of discipline we will need to find a broker to find and give us the best parental rental options.
6. Home School Attorney: Since the smart families NEVER send their kids to public schools but the public schools control education we will need attorneys to represent the Home Schoolers and prove that they aren't cheating when they win every academic award.
7. Neighborhood Vegetable Experts: Experts on growing food in a small space in a residential environment
8. Satellite Avoidance Specialist: Predictors of where and when the latest satellite will fall out of the sky
9. Home Retrogression Specialist: Former Builders who will specialize in scavenging vacant homes for parts, recycling, and returning to "natural" environment. Turning neighborhoods back into forests.
10. Military Grunts: because there will ALWAYS be wars and rumors of wars

Sound pessimistic? Maybe, but again, a nation without divine influence is bound to degenerate. What are we doing with God in our society right now? Me? I'm brushing up on my vegetable growing skills.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The BIGGEST Tax on us.

In this political environment we talk over and over again about taxes. Too much tax, too little tax, this tax and that tax and I find it to be too taxing! But in all this discussion we have neglected the two BIGGEST taxes that are placed on us. They are the same tax but go by two different names. I call them the "FEAR" tax and the "OVERREACTION" tax.

Here is what happens at the airport in Las Vegas where I live, I am sure you can relate to WHATEVER airport if you fly at all:
• I've learned to avoid one taxing line by printing my boarding pass ahead of time and not checking any luggage
• But now I run into a line waiting for security - 1 hour
• One security guard checks my ticket and license or passport - 1 bored employee
• People are pushing and shoving to get to the xray line that is shortest - 30 minutes
• Security Staff are bored, annoyed, demanding and overworked, one just tells me make sure I remove all metal objects, another to make sure my wide shoulders don't touch the sides of the xray and makes me go through again, one watches the scanner with another over her shoulder, one ready to pull me out of line and go through my baggage, and a final one sitting in a booth watching the whole thing. - 1 hour and 6 employees
• I run to the gate to find an unsympathetic uniform closing the door to my flight and telling me I missed it. - 30 minutes and one employee

I just SPENT 3 hours dealing with 8 airport employees and didn't get the item I was promised all in the name of security and peace of mind. Here is what doesn't happen in all of this:
• Security is NOT increased
• Peace of mind is NOT enhanced
• Customer Service is NON existent

We pay this fear tax and over-reaction tax at every airport and bus station. We pay it as we pass through metal detectors at High School football games, museums, and at day care centers. We pay the tax every time we spend money to seek reassurance. We pay it twice when that reassurance actually makes us more anxious and not less. We pay the tax when we try to cover our butt instead of doing the right thing and we pay the tax when we take away someone's dignity because we are afraid.

Instead of security and peace we get over-staffing, over-planning, over-meeting, over analyzing, over-checking and only end up with over-kill, over-zealousness and over-looked scams.

Let's give each other a fear and overreaction tax break.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wile E. Coyote is my hero!

There's not a lot you can learn from the Road Runner, but the Coyote knows the secret of wealth. In September, 1949, the Coyote - Carnivorous vulgaris - built a catapult. But instead of launching him toward the Road Runner, it launched him straight up into a stone outcropping. The Coyote crawled out of the hole and went back to work.

In December, 1955, the Coyote - Eatibus almost anythingus - waited anxiously for the Road Runner to come around a corner, then lit the fuse of a cannon. But instead of firing the cannonball, the entire cannon - with the Coyote behind it - fired backwards into a mountain wall. Again the Coyote crawled out of the hole and went back to work.

In May, 1980, the Coyote - Nemesis ridiculii– climbed aboard a rocket, aimed it toward the Road Runner on the opposite side of the canyon and lit the fuse. The fuel and nosecone of the rocket launched out of the rocket hull, leaving the Coyote sitting aboard that empty cylinder. He fell, annoyed, to the canyon floor. The Coyote climbed out of the canyon and went back to work.
Are you beginning to see a trend here? The Coyote – Inevitablius Succeedus - never gives up.
The Coyote is Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. After 84 consecutive days of not catching a fish, the old man rises before dawn and pulls steadily on the oars until he is far beyond the sight of land.

The Coyote is Rowan of A Message to Garcia. Alone behind enemy lines, outnumbered thousands to one, Rowan never considers the impossibility of his mission, but doggedly attempts the ridiculous until he casually accomplishes the miraculous.

The Coyote is Quixote, foolishly committed to a questionable quest, paying his pint of blood daily without complaint, never wavering in his enthusiasm, never doubting he will ultimately succeed.
When we were young and fast and invincible, the Road Runner was our hero. Impervious to danger, the Road Runner ran without tiring, scooted without fear and beep-beeped coolly like a blue James Bond. But as I look down now from this creaking tower of years, I see it was the Coyote who deserved my admiration. That TV show was never about the Road Runner. It was always about the Coyote. The Coyote was determined.

"Determined" is a word much misunderstood. Obstinate people are not determined. They merely suffer from too much pride. Stubborn people are not determined. Stubbornness is willful ignorance. Determination is an unblinking willingness to pay the price as often as it must be paid. Determination is never losing sight of your objective, no matter what comes along to distract you. Determination is endurance.

How about you? If Failure appears without warning and throws you onto the rocks below, will you happily crawl out of that smoking crater and go back to work?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Biblical Truth for Practical Living 3

The Bible is the Word of God for you. It is there to bring you back into relationship with your Creator. But the Bible is also a practical book with not only eternal significance but with day to day practical advice and insight.

1 Samuel 17
"The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley in between them." In other words, most of the time, the problem is staring you right in the FACE.

"A champion named Goliath ... came out of the Philistine camp." In other words, the problem isn't just a problem it is a BIG PROBLEM!

"Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel... this day I defy the ranks of Israel. Saul and the Israelites were dismayed and terrified." In other words not even the leadership believes we can take care of this problem.

"Now David ... from Bethlehem ... was the youngest ... and tended sheep." In other words he was the LEAST qualified to solve the problem.

"For forty days the Philistine came forward and taunted Israel" In other words if we wait long enough the problem will go away. NOT!

"David reached the camp as the army was in battle position." Or he shows up at just the right time to watch the fight.

"Goliath shouted his usual defiance and David heard it. All the Israelites ran in fear" OR David observes the problem, the BIG problem.

"David's older brother Eliab heard him speaking about Goliath and burned with anger" OR, again, traditional wisdom tells you to stay away, don't get involved.

"David says to Saul that your servant David will go out and fight him" OR David opens his mouth in confidence that NO ONE else has.

"Saul dresses David in ill -fitting clothes. David rejects them in favor of his sling and staff." The people in authority try to teach what to do. What has been done that already failed. David has a new idea.

"Goliath looked David over and saw that he was just a boy and he despised him. He said, Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?" Or David is obviously in over his head, just ask anyone watching.

David said, you come at me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD, whom you have defied." OR David now is throwing himself completely under the bus.

"David ran quickly to the battle line to meet him." OR let's get this thing done, NOW.

"Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead and he fell face down on the ground." Confidence, courage and knowing who God is won the day.
"When the Philistines saw their hero was dead the turned and ran." OR the encouraged team was now discouraged and those discouraged won the day through the efforts of one young man.
Stand up! Take a stand! Don't be intimidated by the Goliaths in your life because HE who is with you is greater/bigger/stronger/smarter than any Goliath in your life.

Biblical Truth for Practical Living 2

The Bible is the Word of God for you. It is there to bring you back into relationship with your Creator. But the Bible is also a practical book with not only eternal significance but with day to day practical advice and insight.

2 Kings 13
" Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. Elisha said, "Get a bow and some arrows," and he did so. 16 "Take the bow in your hands," he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. "Open the east window," he said, and he opened it. "Shoot!" Elisha said, and he shot. "The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!" Elisha declared. "You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek." Then he said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times." OR You halfhearted little wimp! You weak-wristed little whiner! You don't have the passion to succeed. Without passion you will never make a life that is more than a dead end job.

"Elisha died and was buried" OR THIS is the most important thing I'm teaching you and you wimped out. Put intensity into your actions!

Psalm 119
"Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." OR I have enough light to see only one step, but I trust that when I have taken that step I will have light enough to see the next.
"I have sworn it and I will perform it" OR I have said it, my word is my bond, and I will make sure to do the thing I have said. NEVER say "I really didn't MEAN it when I said that." Choose your words carefully for the connection between what you say and what you do is the stuff character is built on. Your words are powerful!

Matthew 7
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." OR look carefully at the thoughts and ideas that make up the foundation of your thinking. When people question you and your beliefs make sure you are able to defend them. If you can't then you have not spent enough time on your foundation. If you don't establish that foundation you will be blown around by every blow-hard and juicy-thought out there.

"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and teh winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." OR NOT having the firm foundation of beliefs will cause a CRASH. You wonder why you crash and burn so often? It is because you don't have conviction in your foundational beliefs. A consistent atheist is stronger than an inconsistent Christian.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Biblical Truth for Practical Living 1

The Bible is the Word of God for you. It is there to bring you back into relationship with your Creator. But the Bible is also a practical book with not only eternal significance but with day to day practical advice and insight.

Ecclesiastes 11
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again." OR Invest your energy blindly, not seeking to know when or how or IF you'll benefit from your investment. Do the right thing every day and it will work out ... eventually.

"Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." OR Get your work done THEN relax. Daydream? Yes, but turn your dreams into actions or you will starve. Don't talk yourself out of taking action.

"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things." OR You will NEVER completely figure it out. There are times when you can say "I just don't know" and have that be the best and biggest truth.

"Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, fo you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well." OR Do something, do it now, don't just talk about it. You are not big enough to see the future so work, work hard, and don't stop. A forty day work week is a myth, especially today.

Mark 4
Jesus said "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seek. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up." OR Some people will come and steal your advice and pretend they thought of it themselves. OR the jewels you are leaving for people can't get through their hard heads, it seems like nothing sinks in for people.

"Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root." OR Some people will get real excited about an idea, plan, program, or job yet when the bumps in the road arrive they wimp out. Many people get excited and emotional but remember that emotion and excitement doesn't generate roots that last through the hard times. Roots are generated by MAKING IT THROUGH tough times. Avoiding the tough times or not making it through them keeps your roots shallow.

"Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain." OR Execution is key. Some people start out great but get distracted by the things they shouldn't and lose sight of the goal: bearing fruit. You can have the cleanest house in the neighborhood but if your kids are unruly and disobedient where, REALLY, is the fruit of your labor?

"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, mulitplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times." OR Some people will hear, and do, and you will be richly rewarded; sometimes even rewarded financially. But you are not to worry about that, don't worry about targeting the "good soil" because the seed will land where it lands. It will do what it does. Your job is only to sow and keep sowing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hear, Hear, Hear, and Hear

"I hear you!" I say to my wife. "But you don't hear me!" is the reply.

"Did you hear me?" I ask my son as he continues to play and doesn't make a move towards going to bed.

I believe there are four definitions for hearing and it is the play between them that causes a lot of the communication errors in our lives. We hear but we don't hear. So here's my hear definitions and levels of hearing:

To hear at the surface level is to simple have someone's auditory waves go through our ears and into our brain. Often we don't even pay attention to what we hear at this level. We hear but it doesn't "sink in" or it "goes in one ear and out the other" or we simply tune it out as background noise. This is what husbands do during game time when their response is an unintelligible "un-huh."

At the next level of hearing we have what is called "listening." Now this is deeper than the first level of hearing because this involves the engagement of your mind. To get to this level of hearing you want to make eye contact. Husbands and wives, parents and kids need to get the attention of the other person, make eye contact and THEN say what they need to say. The mind is engaged and "thinking about" what it just heard.

The next level of hearing is the level of "understanding." At this level what the other person is saying is not only heard, not only thought about, but now it is understood. "Ah NOW I hear/understand you" we would say. There are many times where I will look into my wife's eyes and hear what she is saying but simply don't understand it. "I don't get it?" or "What does that mean?" is the response or we ask to repeat it again in different words.

The deepest level of hearing is the "heeding" level. Now this is a tricky one because when someone heeds you there is a sense of obedience attached. When I tell my son to go to bed I EXPECT that he heeds me. That not only does he hear my words, not only do the words sink in, and not only does he understand it, but I expect that he heeds me and DOES IT. This is the biblical "HEAR or israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!" or "I tell you the truth" says Jesus, "whoever HEARS my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life." (John 5:24)
You can see where the communication problems occur. A son hears but doesn't heed. A spouse understands but doesn't agree so does that mean they REALLY don't understand or they just won't heed? Anybody can talk but many simply don't understand.

That is why OVER communication is asked in most situations. I can say something 5 times as an announcement, it is in the Weekly Newsletter, in the weekly email and still there are those who will say, "I never heard about it? Why didn't you tell me?"

Communication is, yes, speaking clearly but that is only 10%. SAYING SOMETHING that sinks in, is understood and heeded is the rest. Communication is, yes, hearing someone but that is only 10%. Focused attention so that you can understand and heed, if necessary, is the rest.

Do you hear what I am saying?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rights and Responsibilities

A leader in the restaurant business, someone who lobbies the government for restaurants, was quoted as saying that it would violate the "rights' of free speech for restaurants to HAVE to post the health department's grade of their cleanliness in the window for all to see. In essence, it is their RIGHT to be dirty and not tell customers about it.

In this political season it is time for us to define rights vs. responsibilities. We seem to be abusing the word "right" quite frequently and we tend to ignore our responsibilities even more frequently.

Our Declaration of Independence tells us that we are given rights by our Creator and among these are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It doesn't say that these three are all the rights but it does say that they come from God. The government was not established to give us rights. The government was to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" according to our Constitution. The Bill of Rights then gives us our amendments to the Constitution by telling us there are "LEGAL rights" that we have in order to insure our "GOD GIVEN rights" like the freedom of speech and freedom to carry guns.
But here's the thing. We infringe on people's GOD GIVEN rights only when we don't take up our GOD GIVEN responsibilities and that has NOTHING to do with the government. We seem to have the whole thing backwards in our world today. We think we need to establish my RIGHTS through Government intervention so that others will act responsibly; THAT is backward. WE need to act responsibly so that others will have THEIR rights and then the Government can stay out of it.

Take the restaurant guy above. His belief is that it is the RIGHT of the restaurant owners to put up whatever THEY want on THEIR windows on THEIR restaurants and if a patron gets sick, well, then we'll deal with who's responsibility that is. So because of that attitude the Congress has to enact a law telling restaurant owners that they no longer have that right and the right of the patron to know their meal is safe is a higher "right" or priority.

What if. What if the owner put in BIG BOLD LETTERS that this restaurant is CERTIFIED by SOME BIG CLEANLINESS AGENCY as being the CLEANEST IN THE WHOLE WORLD. What if the restaurant owner would pay the patron twice what his sickness cost if he got sick from his food. What if the restaurant owners took RESPONSIBILITY instead of trying to avoid it. IF they would, there would be no law needed in Congress.

What if people took responsibility for their actions THEN the rights of all people would be protected and there would be VERY LITTLE NEED for Government action. What if instead of trying to deceive the most customers we attempted to educate the most customers because we had the best product or service. What if.

Take responsibility for your actions and your rights will be protected. Take only your RIGHTS without the responsibilities and you will lose both.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Dohicky, Thingamabob, and Whatchamacallit

These are three of the greatest words in the English language in that they say something without saying a thing. Therefore they are universal: "Hand me the dohicky, you know, the thingamabob next to the whatchamacallit." Words have meanings but these stand out in the fact that their meanings are lost in the nebulous.

Hand me the dohicky, however, doesn't get you the thingamabob very fast unless the other is a mind reader. Which could happen. When my wife wants me to give her the thingamabob I generally know what object she doesn't know the name of and can hand it to her based on our 30 years together. But that doesn't get you as far as saying "Hand me the 1/4 inch ratchet with the 9/16th socket."

Naming something USED TO require assessing the character and nature of the things named. In the biblical story Adam named the animals and I don't believe he just called them dohicky, thingamabob and watchamacallit. Genesis 2: 19 says "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to Adam to SEE what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." (Caps mine) God wanted to SEE what Adam would name them based on the character and nature of each animal.

Many cultures don't name their kids until they are 2 years old. They earn their name once the parents assess the character and nature of that child. To call your child Bob when he is born is the equivalent of calling him dohicky unless you have found the etymology which says: it is short for Robert and came from Germanic tribes to England and means "bright fame". Is that who your Robert, Rob, Bob, Bert is? We don't spend enough time on names and I find to many people naming their kids Thingamabob and Whatchamacallit. In Ancient Egyptian Culture the NAME was a part of the "essence" of an individual. We might have mind, soul, and body as the essence but Ancient Egyptians had five: Body, Shadow, Ka, Ba, and NAME. To abuse the NAME was to abuse the individual. When people were REALLY bad in Ancient Egypt they would scratch their NAME off any carving or hieroglyph and so erase the person.

Naming requires knowing the character and nature of the person. Using family names is significant and good. Naming based on what you HOPE that person will become is also good. Naming a name the just sounds cool is your right and privilege but is the equivalent of calling your child Dohicky.

My parents named me Steven, a form of Stephen and the Greek Stephanos which means: crown. Did my parents name me that so I would become royalty some day? Did they name me that because I was the 6th boy in the family and they were running out of names? OR maybe they named me that because I am going bald and everyone can now see my crown. Yea, that's it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Creation of Religion

I was on the water by myself and far from shore. My sailboat had flipped as I leaned into the wind a little too much. Wet with waves hitting me in the face I attempted to grab the keel (now the top of the boat) to flip the sailboat upright again. Yet each time I attempted it the stronger than normal wind would push it back again. I pushed the boat in the opposite direction and pulled and it was as if the gods of wind were playing with me because the wind shifted and threw the mast and sail back into the water again. I am a good swimmer and had a life jacket on but after an hour of attempting to pull the boat upright all I could do was lay on the white underside of the boat and rest while the wind and waves attempted to beat me up. In exhaustion I was forced to believe that there was some kind of malevolent spirit at work in the universe plotting against me.

Imagine the ancients running into the same problems and wondering what was at work in the universe around them that seemed to be nothing but chaos. That chaos then came to have names in various ancient traditions: Set in Egypt, Yamm in Ugantic, Tiamat in Babylonian, Typhon in Greek and even in Jewish and Christian scripture as a Sea Serpent, Rahab and Leviathon.

Life was defined as a struggle to keep the Chaos at bay. The gods of chaos in battle with the gods that keep Chaos under control. So what can you do but "help out" the "good" gods fighting Chaos through sacrifices, worship, and rituals. Keep the good gods happy and you will keep the Chaos gods away.

Aristotle believed the particular gods came to be defined through our dreams. Our dreams had a connection with the divine and so showed us how to order the universe to prevent chaos. Euhemerus believed our gods came from ancient heroes who fought the fight against chaos. Cornutus believed that studying the names and places where the god myths came from would give insight into the gods themselves and why we worship them. They all believed in religion but reasoned that this system of beliefs and rituals came from different places.

Religion was created as system of beliefs and rituals that would keep the arbitrary and capricious nature of, well, NATURE at bay. Nature is a nasty place of death, destruction, kill or be eaten, survival of the strongest or deceptive, and scary place. Religions were created to make sense of the scary void. That is also why most religions will be polytheistic. The more gods you have the easier it is to blame one or more of them for the earthquake that just killed 1000 people. Or you can explain it as a battle between two gods resulting in an earthquake. When there is only one god involved, there is only one you can blame for the seemingly capricious killing of people. Polytheists will never wonder if god is good or not because there are simply good gods and bad gods to blame and credit for everything.

Christianity is monotheistic but believes in chaos, not as a god but as a state of NON-God. A place absent of THE-ONE-God's love and care. The REAL battle in Christianity is not the ONE-God versus some other deity but the ONE-God versus our corrupted nature. The ONE-God seeks to be placed on the throne of our lives and depose our selfish nature and therefore the commands and rituals are about denigrating self in favor of the ONE-God and others.

Commands like: love God first and then love your neighbor; if you are hit on one cheek turn the other for hitting as well; if you are asked for an overcoat give your shirt as well; don't give out of your excess but give sacrificially; whoever is the least will be the greatest; give to get; love first no matter if it is reciprocated, etc.

Christianity is a religion; as system of beliefs, but it is far different than the arbitrary battle of gods resulting in earthquakes and tsunamis. So when I was stranded on the sail boat I didn't wonder of the battle going on causing the chaos, I would ask "what is God trying to teach me here?" It isn't some cosmic battle of god vs. god but it probably is something like: "Don't go sailing in strong winds by yourself you dummy!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Dance of Inanna

Inanna danced into the minds of the Sumerian people. It was harvest time: Inanna's time. The fruitfulness of the year was celebrated by the princes of the land and even the slaves and servants joined in the party. The dance lasted, sometimes, for weeks depending on how much grace Inanna bestowed on her people. She is the goddess of fertility, sex, and ... warfare. She is the goddess of the fever; of the dance.

You know what dance I am talking about? That dance that goes on in your heart and mind between your passions and your reasoning. Inanna is the goddess who stirs your body when you see someone beautiful of the opposite sex. Inanna is the goddess who drives you to just one more drink and everything will be better. Inanna is the goddess who stirs the fever of war, the propaganda, and the passion to fight.

The sister of Inanna in Sumerian/Mesopotamian mythology is Ereshkigal. Ereshkigal is the goddess of the aftermath. While Inanna is the goddess of the fruitful harvest, Ereshkigal is the goddess of the barren fields of winter. Inanna is the goddess of passionate, secret, and illegitimate sex; Ereshkigal is the goddess of guilt in the aftermath. Inanna is the goddess of life and Ereshkigal was relegated to the goddess of the afterlife or underworld.

Yet Inanna was not happy being just the goddess of the college party of life; she wanted more. She went to the underworld to confront her sister who suspected she was up to something. At each gate of the underworld, in order to pass, Inanna was forced to give up some of her jewelry and clothes which was her power until finally she confronted her sister to conquer her but found her drive to control had stripped her of all her power and her sister easily overpowered her. In the myth with Inanna gone the world became fruitless. No crops, no children, no parties. The other gods saw the problem and pleaded with Ereshkigal to release her sister which she agreed to by requiring someone to take her place. While all Inanna's friends mourned for her she found her husband simply reading under a tree and she sent him to the underworld in her place. Yet six months of the year she pines for him and so we have the fall and winter months of unfruitfulness.

While ancient myths are not true they do convey some truths. Guilt and barrenness will follow the mindless caving in to your passions as sure as fall and winter follow summer. The inability of your reason to stop you passion will not only hurt you but hurt those you love.

Too often today we look for remedies for the hangover instead of stopping the drinking; we look for counselors who will tell us to ignore the guilt instead of seeking repentance for the sin and STOPPING the action. We all dance the dance of Inanna. The question is who will lead, who is the stronger: your reason and self discipline or your passion and weaknesses? Your dance, your decision.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pain and Suffering II

Pain should be considered a POSITIVE thing while suffering should be considered a NEGATIVE thing.

"Pain tells you that you are still alive" yells a Marine buddy of mine, when I complain about my knee. "Pain tells you there is something wrong" says my chiropractic friend, "You don't want to kill the pain, you want to find the source and fix it." CS Lewis tells us that pain is God's megaphone to stop and pay attention to him. So pain is a positive thing when it tells you that you are alive, it gives you a barometer of something wrong that needs to be fixed, and pain tells you to slow down and focus on the important stuff.

Suffering, on the other hand, is a result of injustice, inaction, and just plain SIN in people's lives. Suffering happens as a result of poor/bad choices by people. A few men choose to fly an airplane into a building and people suffer. Choosing alcohol or gambling over responsibility causes suffering in addiction and broken relationships. We all suffer because of OUR bad choices and because of the bad choices of others.

Pain of the heart is good. It promotes growth and maturity when a teenage crush crumbles. It shows compassion and even spurs to action when the pain is caused by the suffering of others. It shows a healthy conscious when pain of the heart is a result of guilt in a wrong you have done.
Suffering of the heart is bad. Suffering of the heart is the damage that the heart experiences in abuse and causes a person to be closed and cold.

My six knees surgeries caused me to walk funny. After a few years of walking funny I developed hip problems and experience a sharp click every time I lift my leg to put on pants. The knee, the walking funny, the hip issue all have now (35 years after my first surgery) led to a bulge on my lower spine which makes me change the way I sleep and how much I lift. Is this pain or suffering?

It's pain because the knee surgeries forced me to leave basketball and focus on other things and those other things put me where I am now.

It's suffering because as a 15 year old in the hospital I didn't deserve what happened to me.

It's pain because as a 50 year old I know I have never been innocent.

It's suffering because I know if I really wanted to work at my rehab I probably could have prevented a few of the surgeries and had less pain now.

It's pain because my heart was broken because I lost something every Indiana farm boy dreams of doing: playing basketball. BUT that broken heart lead to me being a more compassionate and less prideful person.

Pain and suffering go hand in hand and it is hard to separate the two. In YOUR mind and through YOUR pain seek what you can learn, how you can grow, and what you can change. If you do this you can turn suffering into pain, pain into growth, and growth into character.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pain and Suffering

Pain is a part of my life. It is kind of like that unwanted relative that sticks around for so long that you have learned to live with them. This has caused me to wax philosophical about the concept of pain. I remember many times Pain has caught up with me when I was bent over working and attempted to straighten up; Pain stuck one of its claws into my lower back squeezed. I remember being dumped by a girl in High School and every time that girl walked into the same classroom Pain rapped another claw around my heart and squeezed.

There have been many quotes about suffering and pain and many stories to follow them up so let me try to glean a little philosophical wisdom and place them into bite sized chunks for you to swallow.

Pain originally was related to criminal punishment. It is from the French "peine" or Latin "poena" both of which stand for penalty paid with "torment, hardship, of suffering". The Greek "poine" includes a sense of atonement, payment or compensation. In the early 1900's it was distorted to someone "being a pain" which is someone irritating or annoying. By the 1930's it had been more localized as someone being a "pain in the neck" or a "pain in the butt" AND by 1950's there were drugs described as "pain-killers". So by that time the thought grew that pain was no longer positive (punishment or payment for something you did wrong) it was negative (something everybody had, an annoyance that had to be killed).

Suffering, on the other hand, was something that you had to endure without any moral cause as to why. You could suffer because of a wrong you committed or suffer from something you had nothing to do with. Suffer from Latin means to "bear, endure, carry or put up with" Late 13th century we find writing that translates suffer as "tolerate, or allow" as in the biblical "suffer the little children to come to me."

So much for WHAT is pain and suffering. Now to the more difficult WHY of pain and suffering. WHY does my knee constantly hurt? Because I had six surgeries on it? Because I sinned in High School right before my first surgery? Because God doesn't like basketball and wanted me to quit? Because of Adam and Eve's original sin that was born in me? Because the guy who passed the basketball to me hated me and wanted my knee to buckle? Because God had a better plan for me than being a basketball star? Because my tennis shoe manufacturer skimped on quality control and caused my knee to buckle? Because God wanted to teach me a lesson? Because God wanted to test my patience or curb my ego? Because God didn't like the girl I was dating (the one that dumped me in the story above after my first surgery)? Because Satan made me do it so I would be angry at God? Because there were little demons on the court that caused the buckling? Because my doctors messed up and so now I am still in pain? Because I like pain? Because pain is random and it was my turn?

Which of these is true? The answer is "yes" and more on that next time.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Al Capone

Al was a used-furniture salesman from New York who was born to Italian immigrants in 1899 and moved to Chicago along with his wife in 1923. His cousin's husband was having problems with a few rowdy neighborhood twentysomethings and asked Al for help after repeated attempt to control them. Al, a devout Roman Catholic, calmly went to these men and shot at least 5 of them dead. His cousin's husband didn't have problems with them anymore. This Italian philosopher said, "you can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone."

As a young and fresh new supervisor I sought to befriend all my employees and make my department the best run and most fun place to work in the company. In my OCD way I kept a notebook where I would track the name of the spouse and children of each of my employees and any home issues they were dealing with so that when I went and talked to them I could ask: "How's your wife Jean doing? I remember you said her mom passed away." or "How's little Johnny doing in school?" When there were family emergencies I would allow them to leave early or come in late. I would sit with them on breaks and, together, we would walk back to the department just a few minutes late. This all worked great for about six weeks.

After six weeks I found a surprising amount of family emergencies happening. After six weeks the fifteen minute break was now almost a half hour. After six weeks my fellow supervisors came up to me and told me I had to do something about my department. At first I argued that we were not getting behind and we were getting our work done AND getting it done in less time than other departments AND my people were enjoying their jobs more than the employees in the other departments. That excuse worked until about eight weeks.

At eight weeks began to gently nudge my employees out of the break room. I began to say: "This is the third time your mom has died this month? I don't think I can let you leave early." This didn't stop the flow of undisciplined workers running my department. So I pulled out my gun and shot a few of them.

At a department meeting where I pulled out my 45 and placed it on the table in front of them, I laid down the rules. "I am no longer your friend, I am your boss. I apologize to you that I let it get this far but it is time to crack down on the long breaks, long lunches and absences." Then I picked up the 45 and explained what would happen if they didn't follow the company rules. It took a few shots and one firing for them to know I was serious about our new relationship but after a while I could put my 45 back in my desk drawer.

Why do we do that? Why do we seek to push against the rules until we find the place where someone gets hurt? Why do we take advantage of each other until our relationship breaks? Some crazy psychobabblers will tell you that the problem is not the breaking of the rules but it is the rules themselves. If we didn't have rules then there would be no pain in breaking them. Even an uneducated used-furniture salesman/gangster knew better than that. Now obviously we can go too far, and have, but the balance between vinegar and the honey, kind words and a gun, is what we are looking for. You cannot have one without the other. Honey and kind words alone will lead to anarchy. Vinegar and a gun alone will lead to totalitarianism. BALANCE is what we need to vote for. And as Al said in another famous quote: "Vote early and vote often!"

The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY truth

"There is no good or bad," said an acquaintance of mine "There is only actions and non-actions."

"Are you serious?" I asked incredulously. He seemed like such a smart guy.

"Absolutely! You either act or don't act. There is not good or bad involved because what I think is good you may think is bad and vice versa. So all we are left with is actions."

Instead of answering him I simply slapped him across the face - pretty hard. You can guess his reaction.

"So was that a GOOD action or a BAD one?" I asked

"You don't just go around HITTIN' people!" he angrily exclaimed.

I held up my finger in his face and said, "YOU told me there was no good or bad and now you are making a moral judgment that I'm not supposed to hit people?"

He went away, I never saw him again, and I might have to re-evaluate my belief in slap therapy. There IS good and bad so the question is how do you know GOOD from BAD? Let me give you a few hints:
- If it is quick and done "without thinking" then it is probably bad.
- If it is done in secret, it is probably bad.
- If you wouldn't tell your mom about it, it is probably bad.
- If the hurt helps you grow it might be good.
- If the hurt caused anger, resentment, and deep-seated garbage; then it probably is bad. But it may not be the hurt that is bad, it may just be your reaction to the hurt.
- If your "friends" are only friends when the pull you down then they are bad.
- If your "friends" challenge you to be better they're good.
- Thinking ONLY of self is bad.
- Thinking mainly of others is good.
- Considering the world is so lucky to have you around that it should pay you for just breathing: bad.
- Considering yourself indebted to others: good.

Is the major decision you have to make a good one or a bad one? You must do three things to know: Pray then ask good friends what they think; pray while spending time reading the Bible and it will become clearer; Pray while feeing out your heart, what is your heart telling you? if these three agree, go for it. If only two agree keep searching. If you are out of time and you must decide when they don't agree don't do it. I cannot imagine a real scenario where you have to decide and a delay for prayer and decision making will cause harm.

Expose yourself to the good and not the bad. Make good decisions and don't be swayed into bad ones. At the end of your life you will look back and have a sense of joy and peace and that is the goal isn't it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Exposing Yourself

The kids were giggling like crazy as we played outside on a hot summer day. We had a "kiddie" pool but within minutes it was as warm as the ambient air. The only source of coolness was the garden hose. With towels wrapped protectively around their heads and held there by their upraised arms like a boxer defending against the opponent's blows the kids tried to keep the stream from hitting them with a full-on facial. I manned the hose with my thumb on the end to get the pressured stream as the three of them giggled and briefly exposed their face and upper body. I would quickly switch from one to the other "just missing" each of them as they closed up again. But every now and again I would catch one of them exposing a little too long and they would get a mouthful and nose-full of cool well water. Now only two kids were giggling while the third caught their breath and dealt with the sting up the nose.

You have so many options in this world now that you can expose yourself to; what do you chose and how do you chose what to open up to? This becomes an important question because your exposures have a lot to do with the kind of person you turn out to be.

Expose yourself to bad and you will get used to and maybe even become bad.

Expose yourself to good and you will get used to and maybe even become good.

Expose yourself to get-rich-quick and you will fixate on money.

Expose yourself to the smart and wise and you will be too.

Expose yourself to anger and you will be angry.

Expose yourself to love and you will experience love.

Expose yourself to fast food and you will crave the Big Mac or some King sandwich.

Expose yourself to art and you will appreciate it, understand it, and seek to make it.

The wisest man who ever lived said "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Solomon knew the GIGO principal. (Garbage In Garbage Out; Good In Good Out) We all know that principal but most of the time we believe we can hold that towel and our arms over our face and not get blasted up the nose with the BAD. We do this because the BAD has a better PR firm working for it. BAD looks so tempting to us while GOOD looks so boring. BAD is instant gratification and GOOD is delayed. A Big Mac and a La-Z-Boy now is so much more appealing than celery and a gym.

Next time we will discuss GOOD vs. BAD and how to decide between them, but for now learn from the sting of water up your nose and don't do it again. Guard carefully what you expose yourself to.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Unmanaged Time

"Where did all the time go!"

"Boy that hour FLEW by!"

"I just don't know where that day went!"

"I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner!"

"What have I done with my life!"

All these statements we have all heard and they all relate to the passing of time. Why does time fly by? Why do hours, days, weeks and even YEARS fly by before we "know" it? Why does it seem kids grow up too fast? I have written a LOT about time management and you can look up my columns on this over the last 5 years on my blog but I have a new twist for you on time management.

Here you go; are you ready? This is a pearl of wisdom that could change your life if you let it: "Unmanaged time flows to your weaknesses." There ya go, if you understand the implications of this then time will NEVER again fly by, you will find joy in life and it will cure acne. Well, the last one there was kind of a stretch but let's think about this.

If you don't manage your time it doesn't just disappear it FLOWS to your weaknesses, your habits, your laziness, or your closet sins. Unmanaged time is NOT freedom, unmanaged time is bondage due to a lack of self-discipline. Say you have a tendency to play computer games and you have a "spare" hour before you go to work; what do you do? You quick hop on the computer and play and "before you know it" you are late for work. Say you got off work early and you had a few extra bucks in your britches so you stop at the local casino and slide the dough in the slot and "BOY , that hour flew by!" and now you are late in getting home and have to explain where you were. Unmanaged time flows to you weaknesses.

Why not use that extra time to exercise (you know you need it) or to see mom and dad (you know you should) or take your kids/grandkids out for ice cream (you haven't spent much time with them lately to know what's going on in their lives). Why not PLAN what to do in the 24 hours God has given you and not just let it flow away into a malaise of regret. Here are a couple of helps to stop that flow of unmanaged time:

- Carry that book that you want to read with you so you can read it while waiting in line or when you get a few "extra" minutes.

- NEVER watch TV without an exercise weight. If you get too tired to keep it up you have to turn it off.

- Take online classes instead of online games.

- PLAN to see and spend times with friends and family, don't just EXPECT it to happen.

- Get a hobby that "trips your trigger" like photography, coin collecting, bird watching, or whatever to channel that flow time when it becomes free.

I am NOT saying that watching TV, playing video games, gambling or even extra sleep is BAD. What I am saying is that IF your time flows into your areas of weakness you will forever be wondering what happened to your time, and so your LIFE. You will forever be behind, running to catch up, and wondering "what happened to all that time?"