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God is Faithful

13 Jan

I don’t know about you but I’ve always had a tendency to try and control the outcome of things in my life. I believed that as long as you put in enough effort at something you inevitably reap the rewards, like planting seed or even cooking the harvest. That has some truth to it but if you’re a believer the, “outcome” is more of and outgrowth, determined by your level of faith.

I’m not talking about how much faith you have, or some kinda name it claim it nonsense, I mean how you’re trusting God with the whole of your life; the substance of your faith.

Up until the last few years mine was pretty shallow. I trusted Him with my salvation, I read the Bible daily, prayed all the time, but I never learned how to let go of the shovel.

I’d compartmentalized everything. I had my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my job, my ministry, my friends, all neatly packed in boxes, everything checked off, safely put away.

All of those things are critically important, but they need to be part of each other; to mingle together. As humans, we just don’t have that capacity, it’s too much to carry at once. We need to put it all in God’s hands, that’s how He created us.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

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Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

17 Dec

Lately I’ve been facing some real challenges. I had something worked out with a friend of mine, we were gonna be partners in my given industry. However work has been sparse; hard to come by.

My mobility is limited nowadays so I don’t have a whole lot of options anymore. Going into business seemed to be the ticket, but it hasn’t been working out as planned so I’m looking at my options.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with anxiety, it’s enough to keep you up at night.

I think about the future a lot and it scares me to be honest. I thought I’d be a lot farther than I am right now at my age. But when I think of the yet unfolding tragedies this past year with the hurricanes, the tremendous suffering people are experiencing all over the world, I’m reminded that I’m not doing too bad.

Then I read the scriptures and recall God’s faithfulness to me.

Lord help me to trust You, give me Your perspective, help me to see the world through Your eyes.

For Your glory..

I love the book of Psalms, it’s pregnant with meaning. It’s like going to prayer school.

Psalm 42:7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

“Country”

13 Dec

A few years ago after my divorce, I bought a piece of property by a lake in Beech Grove, Tennessee. It was out there . . . almost what they call, “primitive.” It took almost an hour for me to get to work, but it was mine. The plan was to build a pile of money, we had a bunch of work coming, but somebody outbid my boss and we lost the account.

It was the middle of winter, and it was cold . . . in more ways than one. The peace and quiet was great, but I was alone out there, more alone than I’d ever been in my entire life. I learned a lot about myself during that time.

It was just an old shack I planned on fixing up. There wasn’t any power or running water and without income, I was in a constant state of desperation. I was trusting God but I remember countless times, crying out to Him, trying to understand why He’d put me there. It was a truly humbling experience.

Then one day an old dog showed up out of the blue, he had battle scars all over him. I shared my meal and he decided to stick around.

After a little while I had to put out the fire so he eventually followed me inside. You could tell he didn’t quite know how to function as a house dog, but he was grateful to come in out of the cold.

Work picked up a little but it was nothing to brag about. In between jobs I had to drive down the mountain just to get internet service, hoping maybe to land different employment or a day labor gig here and there. He had free reign but he’d always be there in the morning to send me off and be waiting for me when I got home.

I called him country.

The time came that I had to make a decision to tough it out or change plans; I was down to my last hundred and twenty-two dollars, and needed a throttle cable for my truck. I would have stayed but I had no choice, and I couldn’t take him with me.

I felt awful, we’d both already been abandoned, now I was doing it to him again. But he was familiar with grief so I figured he’d be alright.

Once I got situated I went back up there and stayed the weekend. I called out to him every once in a while hoping he’d come around, but I think he found his way into somebody else’s heart.

Thank God for dogs.

Contemplating Divorce

6 Dec

I’ve been divorced for a few years now. It was brutal, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Fortunately I don’t have many regrets, I went down swinging.

People will tell you that staying together, “for the kids” is never a good idea. I understand the argument but I’ve lived it and my advice to you is this (as long as there aren’t any safety concerns or serious adultery issues) . . . what better reason is there?

It was hard at times there’s no denying that, but I’m grateful for the privilege. Once that window of opportunity shuts, there’s no going back.

If you’re still in the contemplative phase, here’s some tips from Psychologist and Author James Coleman from his book [IMPERFECT HARMONY]

*I will stop looking to my partner as a source of intimacy for now, and maybe forever more.

*I will grieve the loss of the marriage I thought I’d have, and stop bemoaning what I’m not getting from my partner.

*I will work hard to develop my life because that will be the best remedy for resisting my partner’s negative pull on me, or my destructive need of him or her.

*I will work to examine my counter-productive beliefs about marriage as being central to my happiness.

*I will work to keep the tone of my household calm and in control because that is what’s best for my children and me. While I don’t have control over my partner’s behavior, I have control over my own.

*I may have to accept that sex with my partner will be rare, non-existent, or less satisfying than I would like.

*I will give up my addiction to being right.

*I will stop hoping that my partner will change and will stop pushing him or her to change.

Regardless of whether or not you stay together, it’s not just about you anymore. You’re a parent, and that will never change.

Invest copious amounts of emotional capital in your children no matter what’s going on in that house. Just because you guys can’t get your act together doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your full and undivided attention. It’s not their fault.

They need us more than you may think.

Create memorable moments, one-on-one, with each of them. Look for things to praise them for, opportunities to talk and more importantly to listen.

They need a map, you’re it.

Click here to read more

An Explanation for Expletives

5 Dec

As I was raising my kids, I was really careful about what kind of media I allowed in the house. When they’re small you worry about such things, their little minds are being shaped. I was okay with violence; I honestly don’t see a problem, especially raising boys, but profanity was off limits. They’ll eventually hear it all on the bus as they head off to school, but setting standards in the home is a crucial component to raising healthy adults.

As they get older they’ll struggle with it once in a while like most of us, especially during times of stress. Personally I think it makes you sound ignorant, and scripture warns against it.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

But to deny its existence in every day life, especially in this sin soaked culture, would be silly.

People are craving authentic. When I wrote, Boundless Devotion, I included some expletives within the dialog. Being a believer for the past thirty years, I’m certain that will marginalize some, but ultimately it’s a story of redemption.

There’s a, “method to the madness.”

I also included some heavy crime material so you may not want your first grader to read it, but I left the descriptive to the imagination. The protagonist and all of his allies are all duty bound and honorable, hence the title.

Here’s a portion of a speech I included from General Patten:

Be seated.

Men, all this stuff you hear about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Battle is the most significant competition in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best . . . etc etc.

Again, I don’t want to offend your conscience if you’re a brother or sister in Christ, but it’s a military crime Thriller. There is nothing willy nilly about it I did tons of research. It’s just where the journey took me . . . it was inescapable.

Read a sample here

Noticeably Diminished

26 Nov

My family’s been in the wood flooring industry for well over a century. You could almost say I’ve got varnish running through my veins. I have a pretty extensive background in sales and marketing, but I always felt more comfortable working with my hands, in the field. I was never the kind to sport a tie.

A few years ago I decided to start looking for comprehensive, no fluff, meat-on-the-bone network marketing opportunities. I wanted something that was compelling so I wouldn’t be chasing my tail trying to recruit people, where the leadership was transparent and authentic. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I’m not one for pretense.

There were so many offers it made my head spin, but I stumbled on a particular video with a couple of regular looking guys sitting on the porch of some mansion, with palm trees swaying in the background.

Everything they were saying resonated with me. They both came from disfunctional families, they’d both struggled with drugs and overcame their circumstances, they were both entrepreneurs at heart, but they had something that I didn’t . . . success.

I’m a pretty good judge of people, I can spot a scam from miles away. These guys just didn’t set off any alarms, not one. The more I listened, the more I wanted to know, I was captivated. It was kinda like the sort of swag that got Trump elected.

I knew enough to get by in the real world of business but I had a lot to learn about Internet marketing.

Their whole spiel was, they’d learned all the secrets of internet sales and wanted to, “put the cookie jar on the bottom shelf,” to empower people with the knowledge they needed to truly make money online; a training hub for average folks to gain up-to-the-minute insights, cutting edge marketing information, with the option to buy rights to the various educational packets and make 100% commissions.

I started digging around and come to find out, they were legit.

It didn’t take long for me to start making money so I went all in. After about 9 months though, at an event in Chicago, I noticed a couple of issues. It wasn’t anything to do with the business end, but it became clear to me pretty quickly, that if I were to stick with it I’d be sacrificing some core convictions, so I had to bail. I learned a ton of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise and for that I’m grateful to this day, but at the time I had no idea the, “Empower Network” was on its way down.

It’s a really sad story to be quite honest.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had any dealings with this company but in case you’re interested, here’s what happened, right from horses mouth.

Dave Wood . . . Diminished

Thanksgiving and the Bounty of Capitalism

23 Nov

Thanksgiving, good economic times or bad, is when we gather with our family and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving is also a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their backs on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the journal of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

As Governor Bradford explained in his old English (though with the spelling modernized):

For the young men that were able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could their husbands brook it.

Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death. Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.

Realizing that another season like those that had just passed would mean the extinction of the entire community, the elders of the colony decided to try something radically different: the introduction of private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor.

As Governor Bradford put it:

And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end . . .This had a very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little-ones with them to set corn, which before would alledge weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The Plymouth Colony experienced a great bounty of food. Private ownership meant that there was now a close link between work and reward. Industry became the order of the day as the men and women in each family went to the fields on their separate private farms. When the harvest time came, not only did many families produce enough for their own needs, but they had surpluses that they could freely exchange with their neighbors for mutual benefit and improvement.

In Governor Bradford’s words:

By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their planting was well seen, for all had, one way or other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.

Hard experience had taught the Plymouth colonists the fallacy and error in the ideas of that since the time of the ancient Greeks had promised paradise through collectivism rather than individualism. As Governor Bradford expressed it:

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst the Godly and sober men, may well convince of the vanity and conceit of Plato’s and other ancients; — that the taking away of property, and bringing into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.

Was this realization that communism was incompatible with human nature and the prosperity of humanity to be despaired or be a cause for guilt? Not in Governor Bradford’s eyes. It was simply a matter of accepting that altruism and collectivism were inconsistent with the nature of man, and that human institutions should reflect the reality of man’s nature if he is to prosper. Said Governor Bradford:

Let none object this is man’s corruption, and nothing to the curse itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

The desire to “spread the wealth” and for government to plan and regulate people’s lives is as old as the utopian fantasy in Plato’s Republic. The Pilgrim Fathers tried and soon realized its bankruptcy and failure as a way for men to live together in society.

They, instead, accepted man as he is: hardworking, productive, and innovative when allowed the liberty to follow his own interests in improving his own circumstances and those of his family. And even more, out of his industry result the quantities of useful goods that enable men to trade to their mutual benefit.

In the wilderness of the New World, the Plymouth Pilgrims had progressed from the false dream of communism to the sound realism of capitalism. At a time of economic uncertainty, it is worthwhile recalling this beginning of the American experiment and experience with freedom.

This is the lesson of the First Thanksgiving. This year, when we sit around our dining table with our family and friends, let us also remember that what we are really celebrating is the birth of free men and free enterprise in that New World of America.

The real meaning of Thanksgiving, in other words, is the triumph of capitalism over the failure of collectivism in all its forms.

Richard M Ebeling

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