Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What a Friend...

A little while ago, my family was driving to house church and my wife was talking about an upcoming shower for one of the ladies in our house church. Although she was very excited about the shower, she was disappointed that it would not be a surprise for her.

Lately, I had been reflecting on how emotions that we experience are very like those that God has. Since He created us in His image than it is very likely that we experience in emotions what He has already experienced emotionally. I realized how my wife, love to give surprises, but we hate receiving surprises. Well, we love receiving good surprises - especially if we don't about them in advance. We hate being told that there is a surprise for us and having to wait for it to be revealed. I believe that we hate being in the receiving position for two reasons. One, fear. We tend to fear that the surprise in store for us is not all that great. Two, it means we are not in control.

After my wife expressed her disappointment about her friend knowing about the shower, I wondered if God likes to give us surprises. I believe He absolutely does, but His surprises are always excellent!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

To Give, or Not to Give...That is the Question

My wife and I were watching Dances with Wolves the other day and we came upon a scene that completely shocked me. It is the scene where Two Socks (the wolf in the movie) dropped off a dead rabbit and John Dunbar's door. The action struck me as odd. My first thought was 'why would this animal do this? There is no benefit to the wolf.' Unlike animation movies which make animals act with human tendencies, this is not a movie that was not doing that. I made a comment to my wife about that and she said that she remembered that her pets would regularly drop off prizes for their masters. It was usually a dead rabbit or something like that. This really amazed me! Was the act of giving in an animal's DNA? Was it an animal's instinct to give? Did God put the act of giving into all of His creation as instinct?

Humans, on a very basic level, are actually animals, but animals with souls. Having a soul allows us to choose our actions rather than act solely on instinct, but is our desire to give actually an instinct? I wondered... If giving is an instinct, than what is the act of NOT giving. Humans are the only species that (without external re-programming) can go against their instinct. Is it actually an act of will to NOT give? Perhaps that is why giving comes so easily and why to not give is considered wrong. Is act of not sharing a thought planted by the devil rather than a instinct? Perhaps that is why being greedy is so evil.

It made me reflect on what areas of my life I am choosing not to give...

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Acts Community in this century

A couple of weeks ago we were talking about the parable of the talents at our house church and the challenge of living like first-century church came up. I mulled over the question and asked myself, 'Can that really be done in America today?' The economy during the 'Acts' church was terribly poor. People needed each other just to survive. Can we really live like that here in the US, today? I am not trying to make excuses, but when we live in a country that if you own two cars your are one of the world's top 2.5% wealthiest people, it's hard to imagine what that kind of community would really be like. We live in a country where we are obligated to pay for insurance to cover any accidents, so if we're insured then were' good and we don't need help, right? Where is there room for people to unite in a community that really cared for each other? It's hard for me to believe that we can go from extreme luxury to total sacrifice. I know that this kind of community wouldn't call for us to give all we own away and live on bare necessities, but I do imagine it would entail sharing what we have with others, but to what extent? How can this really happen?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

True Freedom

After almost a year of not writting here Iam again...

Over the last couple of days some situations have occurred that have really tested my trust in friends and family. I have wrestled with it and don't know that I'm any closer to a resolution than I was a day before, but discussing this matter with the involved parties has really made me think about the emotions that stem from dilemmas like these and how to resolve them. Most of them are not good.

Taking a side step... we live in a 'Free' country, but as we see desicions being made for us left and right, it makes me wonder what freedom really is and is it perhaps over-ratted in America. People die for it, yet what is it? To often we seek freedom to mak our own choices, but do we really know what is best for us?

Back t the present... As I sought God in this matter, He reminded me of the discussion of Freedom that I often have at work. He show me what really binds us. It's not government, shakles or masters over us. It's fear, bitterness and hatred that binds us! How often do we go through a day dwelling on any one of those three? Freedom is faith, forgiveness and love.

God help me live in freedom each day of my life!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Journey Vs. The Destination

Not too long ago my colleagues and I were reminiscing about childhood events and accomplishments. Besides going on crazy adventurous walks across the Negev desert in Israel, mine revolved around collecting cards or stickers. I recall one particular sticker c0llection I collected. It was a sticker album about the Native Americans and their history. It had empty spots to place 400 different stickers which could be bought in packs of 5 just like baseball cards today. The album was about the Native Americans and their history. The history of Native Americans fascinated me back when I was living in Israel and I remember laboriously reading the Hebrew text next to each picture trying to figure out what the picture was about. I had only been learning Hebrew for about 2 years at that point, so it was a real chore for me to read and understand the text in the album. I remember the day I collected sticker number 16, the last sticker I needed to complete my album. Whew! I finally collected all 400 stickers. Oh the joy!

Well, years later, I remember the experience, but sadly I no longer had the album. A thought hit me; I wonder if it could be on eBay. I did some research and discovered it was called 'West'. After a couple of months of searching, I found an empty English album (better than a Hebrew one as I’d have great difficulty reading it now) at a book site and a completed French and Dutch album on eBay. I got them both of them as presents from my family - lucky me! As I leafed through the album I kept thinking: 'I remember that picture', or 'I remember getting that card'. What also hit me was the thought that although the artwork was spectacular, there was still something missing. I mulled over it and I discovered that receiving a completed album was nowhere near as satisfying as collecting the individual cards yourself and trading for them and then being able to finally say ‘Whew, I’m finally done’! Don’t get me wrong, I love the album and it is great getting a childhood memory back, but it made me realize something; sometimes the destination is not always what it’s made out to be.

As I mulled over it I thought about my life now and my final destination. What if heaven, in its entire wonderful splendor, is not all it’s made out to be? What if our journey, here on Earth, is a part of the experience we have in Heaven? Again, don’t get me wrong, I can not wait to be in the presence of God – forever. It’s just that I now wonder if I would be as satisfied if I arrived in Heaven without experiencing life and having the opportunity to learn to love others, learn to communicate better with others, learn to overcome my fears and step off the edge and trust God to catch me. My suspicion is that I wouldn’t be. Of course one will never be able to compare the two (unless you die really young and God resurrects you life and you die again), so I don’t think one who has had less time to experience life than I have will arrive in Heaven and say, ‘bummer, I didn’t experience as much as Michael did. Not fair!’ I think both of us will be equally excited to be in the presence of God. I’m just realizing that I shouldn’t be so eager to arrive in Heaven, but rather be asking God, ‘What amazing journey and experiences do You have in store for me, here on Earth, before I arrive at my final destination? How can God use me to bless others to enhance both my experience and theirs?

I challenge you, do not be so eager to get to heaven, but rather enjoy every moment you have here on Earth, learn everything you can learn. At the same time, look forward to Jesus’ glorious return and to a day where we will be able to celebrate God in His presence.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)

First of all, it has been a while since I've posted, hasn't it? Surprisingly, our company has opened up this blog site. so that I can do some posting from work. How nice of them! I always found it odd that they allowed some blog sites, but not others. Go figure...

If someone were to ask me what the biggest thing I've learned in the last four months is I'd have to say it's about using money wisely. Between going to a Dave Ramsey FPU class (which I strongly recommend for anyone who hasn't made a budget yet), listening to Dave Briggs (JR Briggs' dad) speak about finances at a weekend seminar at the The Well, and reading The Millionaire Next Door, I have learned tons! I've also been immensely encouraged by what I've learned.If I could summarize what I've learned it would be:
  • Do a budget, with your spouse (if you have one), and STICK TO IT! Consider going to a Dave Ramsey FPU class. If you are married, do not attempt to do this course alone - it will not work! Bribe your spouse to go with you if you have to, but don't try to do it alone.
  • Stop using credit cards!
  • Be frugal. Real millionaires are very frugal people.
  • Have a cash emergency fund of $1000.
  • It's not what you make, but what you put away into savings or investments.
  • Be a generous giver.
I'm currently praying about running a FPU course this spring. I'm strongly considering combining some material along with the excellent DVD training that Dave Ramsey provides. While preparing for this, Matt Bell, author of Money, Purpose, Joy: A Proven Path to Uncommon Success mentioned that the changing of the heart is just as important as the 'how-to'. I think that I took it for granted that my parents brought me up with the right 'heart' towards money, so the 'how-to came naturally. I forget that that might not be the common way people look at money. I look forward to reading his book and perhaps incorporating some of his material into the class.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Testing Out to Get Your BA

Here is an update to what I've learned about taking tests to get college credits.

1) Not many people take these tests. Regretfully, this is not because of their difficulty level (if anything, these tests are usually easier than tests given in college), but rather it is due to a of knowledge. People just don't know that they can save thousands of dollars by listening to free on-line lectures (more on that, shortly), taking tests on them and converting them to credits.
2) It doesn't matter what BA you get if you go for an MA. You could get a BA in Phyis Ed and get an MA in Law and what people will look at is the MA in Law. Of courses, you may want to take courses that are relavent to what you want to get your masters in, but you could test out (get all your credits by taking exams) with a BA in Liberal Arts and then go for your masters in whatever.
3) You can find a ton of free lecture information at FreeUniv.
4) There is a great forum with some very helpful testers here.
5) According to those forums, the 3 best colleges to get you tests transferred into credits are:
  1. Excelsior
  2. Thomas Edison
  3. Charter Oak

6) Sorry, you'll have to go to school to get you masters! ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Driving Backwards

We all do it... It's only a matter of when.

A couple years ago, I was driving with my brother and he noticed my driving into a parking spot. He decided to ask me why I didn't back into the spot. I realized that I had no good reason. He proceeded to say that as much as I might hate driving backwards, I'll eventually have to do it. Why not back into the parking spot rather than back out and not know what's coming? It takes the same amount of time and most importantly, you can see who's coming when you're making the fast get-away! Since then, I have made an effort to back into a parking spot unless I can pull through a parking spot so that I can pull out without having to drive backwards.

Try it. It might just prevent an accident!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drive time... waste not!

If you have a lengthy commute like me, you may have thought to yourself ‘how can I use my commute time most effectively?’ Well, I have thought the same question myself and have come up with a few ideas.

One thing you can do is pray. I mention this first because it is what I find myself doing the least of.

Besides praying I have found my drive time is very useful for listening to audio files. Most people think of books on CD when I mention this, but I rarely listen to an actual CDs anymore. Perhaps, like me, you don’t have a CD player in your car. To overcome that, I listen to mp3 files on my laptop. You can use a portable mp3 player or iPod as well. If you choose to go with your laptop, here are some thoughts to consider. Find a file player that uses the SPACE BAR key to pause the audio. Personally I use CyberLink PowerDVD which can be bought here for $39.95 if you select the download option. CyberLink automatically add a TOGOCD (a backup CD) for an additional $10.00 which can be removed from the card to bring the total back to 39.95. There are free mp3 players on the web, but I haven’t found one that uses the SPACE BAR to pause audio. Two other features that PowerDVD offers is that the PAGE UP key work to rewinds a few seconds and you can play the files at 1.5x or 2x the normal speed (I love hearing people sounding like chipmunks). Then, queue up your files BEFORE you start driving. Lastly, enjoy. If the sound isn't loud enough, get laptop USB speakers fot $10 - $20 to amplify the sound. Lately I’ve been listening to Joe Focht’s verse-by-verse series which can be downloaded here. I’ve also been listening to some college lectures. Of course there are many versions of the Bible on mp3 now. Since I find that I don’t have all the time I want to read the Word, I find listening to it read to me is just as edifying.

Another awesome find a colleague showed me was a list of portable FREE programs. I have looked over the list and it is an amazing suite of FREE programs that one can copy on a USB drive and carry around where ever you go. All you have to do is pop the USB drive into ANY machine and launch your programs (including a web browser) and have all your favorites, personal settings and files with you! All you need is an operaing system. If you choose to have the browser save your passwords, I STRONGLY encourage you to encrypt your data. E-mail me to find how.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Hidden Message: The Gospel in Genesis by Chuck Missler

I heard about this while listening to Joe Focht and decided to investigate it a bit further. When compiled, the meaning of each name in the line of Noah gives us an amazing message! How awesome to know that God had his salvation planned out before the beginning of time.

The Composite List:

Hebrew English
Adam Man
Seth Appointed
Enosh Mortal
Kenan Sorrow
Mahalalel The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Enoch Teaching
Methuselah His death shall bring
Lamech The Despairing
Noah Rest, or comfort

That's rather remarkable:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

Here's the Gospel hidden within a genealogy in Genesis!

An unlikely coincidence, me thinks.

See Chuck Missler's full article here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Prayer, just a call away.

I just got off the phone with my dad and he reminded me of an amazing service that the 700 Club offers. I'm sure other Christian organizations offer the same, but this is one I know about. He reminded me of their 24/7 prayer line. Have you ever had a prayer item that you needed prayer about, but couldn't really share it with anyone you knew, but still needed a prayer partner? I'm sure you have. Sometimes certain pray request aren't even appropriate to share with someone you know or in the setting of a group. That's where a prayer line come in. From their web site, the center’s phones are staffed by more than 350 prayer counselors who are trained in offering comfort and encouragement from a biblical perspective. So rather than face an issue on your own, call a Prayer Counselor at (800) 759-0700. A 700 Club Prayer Counselor will answer your call.

More things New...

I am terribly excited abut what I just learned about accelerated learning. Just this past week I was thinking (and getting depressed) about how long it will take me to get my associates, not to mention my MA and BA. Needless to say, I signed up to take volleyball at college this summer to get 2 credits. It's funny telling my wife that I'll be playing volleyball for $200.00 to further my education.

Despite my 'progress', I was still frustrated about how long it would take me to get another 40 credits. Fortunately, my wife encouraged me to join her in going to a homeschooling conference. I truly was going to learn more about my daughter's homeschooling experience and to learn how I can help with that. After looking at the workshop schedule, I decided to go to listen to a speaker Woody Robertson who spoke about Dream, desire, & Decision. What I learned was something totally different! I learned that I didn't have to go to college to get my BA! woot! I learned that through a course sponsored by Collegeplus! I could get my BA in about 2 years. Upon further research and more lectures by Woody, I learned that I could take CLEP exams and DANTES to get credits for college and eventually transfer them to Thomas Edison State College in NJ. The research took me to this blog.

I will spend the next week studying for my Security+ exam (hopefully the last computer exam I ever take!) and then look into taking the CLEP exams. I am once again excited about my education journey towards my masters in Organizational Leadership.

Thoughts for the day:
I took time to begin reading Creating Community by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits. Take time to connect with a stranger today!.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Begining of Something New...

This blog marks the beginning of something new. Actually, it marks the beginning of many new things going on in my life now.

One of the most life changing experiences going on in my life is that my family will be changing churches. God is pulling my family to join JR Briggs in starting a new church in Lansdale. After much prayer and consideration, we feel that this is God thing and a very good thing as well. This change set forth before us was indeed a challenge. A life changing challenge one might say. JR laid out some expectations for people interested in teaming up with him in starting this new church called Renew. Many of the changes weren't new ideas to me, but rather things I knew I ought to be doing, but wasn't. After committing to help JR, I realized that I need to make some major changes in my lifestyle. The hardest change for me was to give up online gaming and significantly reduce PC gaming in general. I found I was wasting too much time worrying about little towns I had built online and not spending enough time with family and with other REAL people. I also felt a deep conviction to write a book, but would always dismiss the idea due to not being able to find the time to do that. Finally, I prayed about where I could find the time to write and was reminded about the time I spent gaming. Since, with God's help, I've abandoned those online cities I have found new wells of time. So here I am now, spending some of that time writing this blog.

My hopes of this blog is to help me get into the mode of writing and write down life golden nuggets that I learn along the way and share them with others. My prayer is that this blog will not only help me form my thoughts for an eventual book, but that this blog will also bless others reading it and strike up conversations and perhaps even convictions that would not come about otherwise.

What I share here is what is going on in my life; thoughts I am having, ideas that hit me and what make my world go around. It is not meant to condemn you or make you feel condemned in any way, but if God convicts you about something you read here, pray about it, let God speak to you, share your thoughts with someone and see miracles flow. May you experience God's immense love for you while reading this blog!

More new things to come...