Monday, April 29, 2013

Poverty is not a virtue


Too often I hear poverty lifted up as some sort of virtue.  It is not.  There are dangers with poverty as there are dangers with abundance.  If one is poor, it is possible to dishonor God's name because you think you have to steal to survive.  With poverty, you would have nothing to share with people.  Living out in a field with your shopping cart limits what you can do to help others.  You would not have a cup of water to give, or a coat, or home to invite others to for a study of God's Word.

Just recently I read something from a highly respected preacher who wrote that he would rather his hearers had nothing but the love of God in their heart rather then having a growing abundance and a coolness to eternal things.  Of course, when he puts it that way, I agree.  But does it have to be one way or the other?  Why can't people have a spiritual vitality AND a certain amount of means?  It would make more sense to me.  Because as a person has some wealth at his disposal, he is able to give, take care of his family, and help out with the church and special needs.

If you are in poverty, you are someones mission field.  You need to have others spend their resources and time on you.  Instead of good coming out from you, you are having to receive all the time.  I don't see that as a worthy goal in life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Longevity


As much as I would like to live into my 90's and even top my 100's, my concern is just how productive I would be in those years.  I do not want to sit around for ten or fifteen years dependent on people to take care of my every need.  I do not want to depend on the government to cover all my expenses.

My goal of living long would only be complete if I was healthy, mobile, and financially secure.  That means I would not be living in pain, able to get around on my own, and having a reliable and steady source of income.  It is a lot to ask but I think I could do it.  Even more importantly though, I would want to have meaningful work to do.  Something eternal.  Something that mattered that would build my legacy.

The trick with living a long time is continuing the independence that has been already achieved.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The rising cost of cable internet


Our local cable company provides our high speed internet.  The company has been fairly good to us.  The connection has been mostly continuous with only a few interruptions in service.

There are two issues I have with them.

One, they call all the time.  They ask if we want to bundle services.  We have a cell phone, so we don't need a land line.  We have broadcast television and rent DVD movies, so we are not interested in cable television.  Their constant calling is annoying.  We have put their number into our phone, so caller id shows who is calling and we don't answer.

Two, they raise our bill constantly.  Even though their service is the same, they charge us more.  Why are they charging us more for the same thing?  Can't they see that they are driving customers away by rising prices?  I predict that something else will come along in the near future that will replace cable internet.  The prices are getting so high that people will start to look for an alternative.  When an innovative company sees that opportunity and comes up with a solution, people will drop the cable company and make the switch.  I know I am already hoping for another solution to my internet needs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Being task oriented in a talking world


In this world where so many just want to talk, I tend to be task oriented.  Others want to chat, to socialize, and to be cleaver.  I want to do what is right, to move things forward, and get things done.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to hear people talk and I like to exchange meaningful information.  But I would much rather be in the audience to hear someone who has come prepared with something intelligent to say.  Or where I am talking one-on-one to someone of high caliber and we both are contributing meaningfully.  Being at some social gathering for no other reason than to be social is not for me.  It never has and I don't ever see it becoming natural for me.

The popularity of cell phones is not a fad I have embraced or warmed up too.  I see them as expensive talking devises that enslave people to large corporations through contracts.  No thank you.  Send me an email instead.

So many people want to talk.  I get that.  But others of us want to do, read, listen, and accomplish.  Not everyone wants to talk and socialize.  Respect that.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to pay less taxes


We all would like to pay less taxes.  Here are a few ideas on how to have less of a tax burden.

First, demand less from your government.  We would all like better roads, bridges, and schools.  But infrastructure and free education come with a cost.  Keep your mouth shut when you are around politicians.  They love to take requests, create a big project, and tax us all.

Second, buy used.  When purchasing used items from someone locally, there isn't a sales tax.  So buy gently used items at rummage sales, garage sales, and off places like Craig's List.  Many times the used item has just as long a life as something new but at a fraction of the retail price.

Third, use a tax accountant.  Several years ago, we switched over to using a tax accountant.  He has seen things in our state and federal income tax that I never saw.  As a result, we have received more money back at tax time.  He has paid for himself every year.  I recently talked to someone who almost always does her own income taxes.  This year she had someone else do her taxes.  She too remarked that her tax accountant paid for himself.  Spend the money to get someones expert advice.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Public schools


Have you noticed that no one goes to school when it is not a requirement to be there?  Driving past public schools, and even being in them once in a while, gives plenty of evidence as to why no one goes there voluntarily.

The buildings are square, functional, and utilitarian.  But by no means inspiring.  There is very little of beauty and creativity within or without these public spaces.  It is as if they were built to house children during the day and that is all.  Public school buildings are not environments where souls are stirred or imaginations get fired.

It has become clear to me why some parents send their children to private schools.  By paying the extra money and getting an education in a place that is more exclusive, there is an expectation placed on that child.  He or she is given the message that they are there for a purpose and for something grand and noble.  They are expected to do something with their lives beyond merely existing.

Public school on the other hand, leaves the impression that average is acceptable.  Going along to get along is perfectly fine.  Never doing anything remarkable is okay.  Just show up and you will pass.

The architecture of public schools needs to get a second look.  We need to provide better environments for children to learn in.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Isn't being your best the whole point?


It is amazing and depressing how some people live their lives and present themselves.  Some people never clean-up much.  Their clothes are not put together very well.  They don't have the self-respect to care about their appearance.  They are disheveled, undone, and unkept.  Some people never care about their health.  They are falling apart because of bad choices they have made.  They have to have that cigarette.  They are constantly drinking soda pop.  They never exercise.

I am one who likes to put some care into my clothing and my health.  My motivation for this is rather simple.  I want to be my best.  My personal best.  I don't have to top you.  But I want to be striving toward getting better.  It is all about having self-respect and this internal desire to improve my lot in life everyday.

I care about the life I have been given and the value I have for myself is something I want you to have also.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Checking email


I have trained myself to not check email first thing in the morning or the first thing I do when I turn on my computer or iOS devise.  Responding to someone's email, whether that is simply opening it and reading it or by typing up a response, is working on someone else's agenda.  Instead, I have disciplined myself to work on other things.  Things that honestly are more important.

As a side benefit, by getting to emails second or third on my list of to-do's for the day, I have less emails to deal with in general.  Hoping a quick reply will deal with the issue can often lead to the very opposite: a response with more particular demands.

Email replies should not be instantaneous.  If you want instantaneous, try texting or phoning.  Emails should be responded to in the time I decide to take.  That maybe two hours or two days.  I am okay with that.  I will often type up a response and let it sit in the hoper.  Then I will come back around, re-read it, make revisions, and then finally send it.

Remember email communication is not likely your most productive task of the day.  It will be on your list of to-do's, no doubt.  But leave it down the list of tasks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not having a mom would be empty


I can't imagine growing up with two fathers as my parents.  To not have a mom at home would be so empty.  A mom's role as nurturer, healer, helper, nurse, cook, driver, and a myriad of other things, is too crucial to over look.  A father just doesn't play those roles in quite the same way.  No, two fathers is too much of one and not enough of the other.  Children need a father and children need a mother in the same house meeting that child's many differing needs.  Both genders balance each other out.  It just isn't the same without a mom.

Friday, April 5, 2013

If I were Catholic


If for some bizarre reason, I were to wake up one day and find that I had been Catholic my whole life, the first thing I would do is ask God what He would want me to do.  I would ask for His direction.  Next, I would open His Bible and read what He had to say.  Lastly, I would start looking for a church where the Bible was taught fully and completely.  Then I would attend regularly, make myself accountable to others, participate in worship, and listen intently to the sermons.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An ideal morning


An ideal morning for me would start between 5 and 5:30 AM.  I would take care of the dog and grab a glass of clear, cool water.

For the next hour, I would have my devotions and read.  It would start with prayer, Bible reading, and taking in other inspirational material.  Further reading would be a chapter of a non-fiction book that I had been working through.  Then I would read my favorite blogs.  People like Scott Wimberly, Dan Miller, and Jon Acuff.  After that I would take about an hour to do some sort of exercise.  It could be weight lifting, running, or walking.  Next I would have breakfast & coffee with my favorite person:  my wife.  We would leisurely eat our meal together of maybe oatmeal, pancakes, or scrambled eggs.  Yogurt, toast, and fruit would also be a part of that first meal of the day.  After eating, talking, and reviving we would pray together, clean up, and head for work.

My work would be in my home office where I would be for the next three hours.  My job would be monitoring my distribution business.  I would check the stats from the day before to see what is selling and to see where any adjustment could be made to better my business.  I would restock my supply as needed.  Then I would tackle any customer service issues and questions by email.  As the morning approached eleven o'clock, I would push away from my desk.  To clear my mind, I would take a bike ride or motorcycle ride and enjoy some great scenery.  Or I would take the short trip into town to meet a friend at a coffee shop to converse and share ideas.

That would be an ideal morning, and an ideal life, for me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Litter in the ditch


As spring slowly comes and winter slowly fades, the snow melts away and what has been in the roadside ditches is revealed.  What is there is rather disgusting.  There are cans, wrappers, cigarette boxes, bottles, and who knows what.  Garbage, refuse, and trash.  I find it all rather disheartening and I hate the eyesore that it is.  For the life of me, I can't understand why a person would toss their garbage out the window.  It is totally irresponsible.  It is without conscience.  It is a lot of work left for others to do.

On this April Fool's day, quit being a fool.  Show some respect for your community and nature.  Keep your trash inside your car and discard it responsibly.