Showing posts with label Wisdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wisdom. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Must be Making Progress. . . the Gossips and Slanderers are Out and About!

One of my pastimes in my spare moments is to contribute discussion comments to a Facebook group on local current events.  I've also been made an administrator of the group due to my reasonable nature and willingness to thoughtfully contribute. 

Not everyone out there reading my comments on the 'Net cares for what I say, of course.  Not everyone agrees with everybody else. . . me included.  Some times it's hard to find out what position to take.  Many times it's best to take a position of "I don't know for sure without a lot more research" which is more true of the situation than most.  Cool heads prevail, hot heads just get steamed. 

There's a culture amongst some here in the United States of making partisan politics *THE* only thing that is worth discussing, and having your candidates and/or your party and/or your ballot issues win. . . or else.  It literally is a blood sport with these people, to the point of becoming an actual religion in my humble opinion.  When it goes that far, I'd call that making a false idol of politics and political speech, forgetting the Lord and his rightful position in one's life. 

Anyways, with the help of our small group of administrators/moderators, we found - in the normal course of comments made yesterday - one such person.  And they have it in for me personally in the world's worst way for reasons I don't even begin to understand. . . so sad.  I've never even met the person as far as I know.  Why make such drama on Facebook?  I dunno.  The person's arrogance and insistence that they were right, and everyone else opposing them was wrong, combined with some extremely bad advice concerning the primary election just concluded, gave all of us pause.  I put two and two together and realized that this person commenting must be a sockpuppet. . . someone having the cowardice to wear a mask on Facebook and say they were a non real name person.  We checked, and it was agreed this person was a fake person. . . not allowed under the group's rules, by the way. . . and POOF!  They were gone.  They'll no doubt try to get back in under yet another nom de plume sockpuppet personality. . . but their way of speaking, their vocabulary, their passions, and their arrogance always identify them once again.  Go ahead. . . make my day!

Anyways, in the course of the day, I was notified that this person was gossiping and libeling me in some other forum somewhere.  So what?  What is that to me?  I love many of the quotes of Sir Winston Churchill, a leader who took his responsibilities in leading Great Britain in World War II seriously.  One of them is this apt statement: "You have enemies?  Good.  That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." 

Indeed I have.  I have enemies.  Jesus had enemies, too.  The Pharisees, for one, were constantly trying to trip him up and get him killed.  Serious business, being in that position he was in.  As His follower and disciple, I am told I will get the same treatment Jesus got.  Goes with the territory. 

Here's some applicable Bible verses on gossip and slander - and wise speech - I've found. 

  • My enemies speak evil against me.  "When will he die, and his name perish?"  And when he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood; His heart gathers wickedness to itself; When he goes outside, he tells it.  All who hate me whisper together against me; Against me they devise my hurt, saying, "A wicked thing is poured out upon him.  That when he lies down, he will not rise up again."  Psalm 41:5-8
  • When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable.  But he who restrains his lips is wise.  Proverbs 10: 19
  • A fool's lips bring strife.  And his mouth calls for blows.  A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of the soul.  Proverbs 18:6-7
  • He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.  Proverbs 21:23
  • A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.  Proverbs 29:11
  • But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.  "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."  Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37
  • At the same time they learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house: and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.  1 Timothy 5:13
  • Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another, or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away.  Proverbs 25:9-10
  • For the lack of wood a fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention dies down.  Proverbs 26:20
  • You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.  Exodus 23:1
  • Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.  Psalms 101:5
  • He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.  Proverbs 10:18
  • . . . being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. . . Romans 1:29-30
  • Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.  Psalms 141:3
  • He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,  Therefore do not associate with a gossip.  Proverbs 20:19

***                    ***                    ***

Do not associate with a gossip.  Great advice from God's word today!  And for those gossipers, slanderers (verbal malice), and libelers (printed malice). . . I'll be doing everything I can in the spare moments I may have to either help you to see the error of your ways. . . or be gone from a particular Facebook group.  Don't have time for foolish strife. . . there's better things to be doing for God's Kingdom, and I'll be about them versus such small minded things like backbiting and gossip. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Once Was Lost. . . But Now Am Found!

Wednesday, our first full day here in Cuenca, we walked to El Centro's Parque Calderon for a time of seeing the sights, hearing some excellent Latin music, and doing some shopping.  I had to get some more money out of our account, and I also obtained a Claro - the largest and best cell phone provider in Ecuador - cell phone and no contract account.  Please don't ask me for my cell number just yet, but it starts with 099 and ends in a 1.  I have to memorize it or at the very least keep the number on a piece of paper until I know it. 

After the shopping, Carolyn Anne and I ate some almuerzo - lunch - at a Mexican restaurant in El Centro on the way back to the Hostel Pichincha Internacional.  We had the burrito especial of the day, which was bland like a lot of Ecuadorian food here and sorely missing hot sauce, though the small chips did come with a medium and a rather hot choice of dips.   That was Carolyn Anne's birthday gift to me that day. 

Upon leaving the restaurant, we found ourselves in the beginnings of what later proved to be a very powerful thunderstorm.  We had no coat or umbrella as the day was partly cloudy when we left to go out, but by staying under the roofs that covered the sidewalks, we could make it back to our room relatively dry.  So rather than calling a cab out in the street - the local custom here - us wanting more of that great Cuenca walking exercise, we hoofed it together. 

Some of the intersections in the Antigua, or old section of Cuenca don't have signs stating their street names, and the one that names our street, Calle Juan Montalvo, is one of them at its intersection with Calle Simon Bolivar.   In the rain and thunder we missed our street to turn left onto, and went west two more blocks to where a hair salon was operating. 

 At this point I asked Rose the salon attendant, where our street was, having no map on me.  Before I knew it, Carolyn Anne had continued walking - nay running - in the downpour in the middle of the street, she later told me.  I looked in the middle of the street all directions of the intersection, called out her name, but no suerte.  She was gone. 

I figured that in due time she would come back to where she last saw me at the salon, so I waited there.  Nope!  Where or where had my Sweet Polly Purebred gone?  Did she hurt herself, break an ankle, hit her head on the sidewalk and in a coma, resting on some couch at a furniture store, or what?  Dark was coming in two hours, and that would make it harder to find her.  I asked Rosa the hairdresser if she would be so kind to use my new phone to call the police.  We waited a half hour for them, and they had not come by.

So I returned to our room and gathered coats for the both of us, and spoke wirh Irma, along with her sister Gladys, our hostesses, and told them that Carolyn Anne was lost.  Irma immediately gave me an umbrella to use for the two of - Carolyn Anne and I - and we hatched a plan to find her before dark set in.  I went on one street parallel south of Simon Bolivar to search for her, and would meet up with Irma at the salon on the corner.  Irma took Simon Bolivar to the salon, calling out her name as she went.  "!Carolina!  ?Donde esta usted, Carolina?, cried Irma. 

Likewise I searched out Calle Madrigal Sucre for my beloved.  "Carolyn Anne!  Where are you?" I shouted out in my loud voice.  I was very concerned.  "God, this is too big to handle. . . You'll have to do it.  I'm not able to do this by myself," I prayed.  One more shout again as I continued my search.  "Carolyn Anne!" 

"!Mi esposo! Carolyn Anne replied in great relief.  There she was, in a car with two Christian (evangelical) sisters, and she bolted out of the car with great joy and relief in finding me again.  The sisters attend Unidos church in Cuenca, and helped Carolyn Anne stay dry after getting soaking wet earlier in her solo adventure in the rain.  She had become disoriented upon separating from me, and didn't realize until five minutes before I found her that she had in her bag a Gideons bilingual New Testament with the name and address of the Hostel Pichincha Internacional stamped on the back cover.  Thank God for the Gideons, eh?  (smile)   I found her before she could have gone to the Hostel.  Praise God for his wondrous abilities in reuniting us!

Lessons learned: never leave your partner (from the film "Fireproof," of course).  carry a map and a business card of your lodging with you.  Carry a Spanish-English dictionary to assist in communication.  And always carry your passport or copy thereof with you, along with some cash for a taxi ride home.  Carolyn Anne gave me her neck wallet just a half hour before we got separated, which she now realizes is a most foolhardy thing to do in new and strange environs like Cuenca.  We learned from this episode how comforting and truly kind Cuencanos are, and we are so thankful to God for each one of them that assisted us in our travails.  Selah. 

Blogger's note: I'm now aware that there is a problem in having people using the "Reply" function on this blog for reasons I don't quite understand.  I'll try to fix it if I can while here.  Meanwhile, please continue to pray for us in our searchings together for what Cuenca has to offer us in terms of living here permanently, and for our safety as well as our interactions with the locals.  We've met some more expats here while out and about, and have gone window shopping at the Supermaxi grocery store (high prices like Vons back home) and Corel, a hypermarket that is at Mall del Rio in new Cuenca south of  El Centro.   We're very impressed with both Corel - which is sort of a combo of Costco, WalMart, and  EasyLife furniture, with an extensive line of tools like Sears was always noted for.  Absolutely huge store, clean, well stocked, with incredible prices and very helpful personnel.  Ten per cent discount to either expats or over 65 years of age folks . . . I didn't get the reason why from the kindly front end manager's Spanglish.  The mall is two story, huge, and probably has 200 stores besides Corel.  A multiplex cinema too, and a large food court, including. . . California Burrito, which has good prices and a strange take on SoCal culture.  We didn;t eat there, preferring something more Ecuadorian in Deli Internacional two tiendas - stores to its left.   

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Encountering Disagreement

Now comes the time in this Wandering Pilgrim's journey where he encounters disagreement and discord from others.  The names aren't the important thing, and as a courtesy, I'm leaving the names out of this essay, remembering well the saying from my Al-Anon days of "principles above personalities." 

As you may know by now, my journal - my weblog here on the 'Net - is called Wandering Pilgrim's Progress. That's for a reason: I identify well with John Bunyan (b. 1628, d. 1688), who was jailed in 17th Century England due to his beliefs concerning the Christian Faith.  He endured much more persecution than I ever have as yet, and his classic Pilgrim's Progress (found under "Links for the Journey" to the right of this page) originally published in two parts in 1678 and 1684 retells his spiritual journey as he wrote it in his prison cell. 

Bunyan used a lot of imagery in his writing, since his work was allegorical.  Christian, the protaganist in the story, leaves the City of Destruction and journeys towards the Celestial City, the New Jerusalem.  On the way, he encounters several different characters, some good, others not so good.  He also travels along to new places.  Here in this part of the journey in Bunyan's classic work Christian is found in what is termed Vanity Fair, having to do with the fluff and surface elements of this present world that don't translate - aren't found - in Heaven.  So Vanity Fair is a distraction from his seeking the Celestial City, as well as a return to whence he came: Vanity Fair is actually the City of Destruction in a new light, with spiritual growth gained by Christian to the point he no longer sees things as he once did at the start of his journey.  No, he sees his old town with new eyes, and so it is termed Vanity Fair.  

What happens to Christian and Faithful, his friendly sidekick (or myself, in this case) when they travel to Vanity Fair?  I found a great commentary that tells the story.  It's below the break.

*   *   *  

(1) They are treated as objects of sport.

As non-participants, both their unusual clothing and uncommon speech are mocked.  Following his arrest, Bunyan was derided as a tinker, a biblical literalist, a pestilent fellow, as one ignorant of Greek, as one being possessed by the Devil.

(2) They respond with blessing and good words.

With the Spirit of Christ resting on them, they exchange good for evil, blessing for cursing, patience for hysteria, kindness for malice (Matt. 5:44; Romans 12:20-21; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Peter 2:21-23). 

(3) They draw a sympathetic following.

Through the agency of discriminating grace, some observers prove to be less predjudiced; consequently, they oppose the brutality of the baser sort.  Jesus Christ encountered this same timid support which, when put to the test, did not amount to much (John 7:12-13).

(4) They promote violent disagreement.

While Christian and Faithful remain calm and sober as objects of blatant injustice, yet their righteous testimony stimulates bitter division between the two emerging factions.  Jesus Christ is the universal divider of men (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19; Acts 17:4-5, 32-34: 28:24).   The two factions are:

(a) the moderate sympathizers .

     Like Pilate (Luke 23:4), they have a sense of justice that is able to discern injustice.  They know of thieves and pickpockets at the Fair who are far more worthy of this kind of condemnation.  However, like Pilate (Luke 23:23-25), they lack moral courage.   

(b) the militant antagonists.

Like the chief priests (Luke 23:10, 18), they are willfully blind to the evident godliness and innocence of the two pilgrims.  Their resulting fury knows no bounds; they even charge their neighbors with complicity; they physically abuse them so that worldly gaiety gives way to worldly savagery.  

*   *   *

The above is but a small excerpt of the following link, which is an excellent commentary on John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.  Read the whole chapter 21 Vanity Fair commentary at 
In fact, the information and resources at are wonderful and edifying.  I encourage my readers to partake of the knowledge and wisdom available there.

The excerpt above is from Page 335. 

This Wandering Pilgrim's update of the above goes like this:

(1) They are disrespected and mocked.

As aliens and strangers to the world, yet in and not of the world, Christian and Faithful are told how to speak - in politically correct terms - and derided as not part of the cultural or geographic elite.  Worse than that, they are told their beliefs and speech are wrong and reprehensible.  Power through written expression is exerted and grasped for. 

(2) They respond through loving God and loving people. 

Knowing how depraved the heart of mankind is, as Jesus did, and aware of their own sinful state before experiencing new life in Jesus Christ and becoming a Follower of The Way, They know they first must pray for the souls of those persecuting them.  Jesus said so himself (Matt. 5:44).  Beyond that, they reach out and let them know there was no personal offense intended.  If one is offended, it is because of the Cross of Christ, not any human individual.  They remember the time spent together in restaurants, hotels, museums, tourist areas, and the like, knowing generous practical hospitality is one of the marks of a growing disciple of Jesus.  Distance separating them, all one may do presently is to generate some discussion items on the topic at hand in the hopes of the true light penetrating the darkness, and hearts might become soft in wanting to know more about what it means to be a Follower of The Way. . . and not necessarily choosing  to become a Follower right then and there, but to understand what that perspective is like and what it entails as a legitimate worldview.  All of this is done as Peter said, with gentleness and with respect (1 Peter 3:15). 

(3) They are talked about, but without much impact to how people act. 

Water cooler talk and talk radio - as two kinds of examples - verbally repeat the good that these two have done, but no one is willing to stick their neck out and commit to what they are doing, becoming like them in word and in deed.  "Lack of trust in corrupt and poorly managed institutions," they cry.  "I'm not a joiner," retorts another.   

(4) Their testimony creates deep division between the group or crowd.

Calmly stating one's case concerning unjust behavior on the part of others, with gentleness and with respect, and leaving the results up to God is bound to create two opposing factions.  They are:

(a) The morally uncourageous.

These are the "go with the flow" people who don't want to see the boat rocked.  They don't want to reexamine their lives, or make any changes.  They tell themselves they are content. . . but if they are really transparently honest with themselves, theirs are the lives of quiet desperation.  True peace, love, joy, contentment. . . are not theirs to be had.  A false sense of "happiness" may appear on the surface, but if one looks deeper, one may see the tracks of their tears.  I know.  I came from such a place decades ago.  I know what it's like to live in such a place.  And the thing is. . . one doesn't have to.   But again, such a person must desire change to become what one cannot become on their own strength.  The change comes from outside the person.  I'll leave it at that for now. . .

(b) militant anarchists, New Athiests, practicing homosexuals, and various other Secular Humanists.

These are willfully blind towards any redeeming qualities of Christian and Faithful.  They are led by emotion first, facts (if any) second.  They alone know what is right, and they will force their beliefs, legislation, and social practices down your throats. . . "whether you like it or not," to quote the former Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsome.  Accuracy in naming people, places and things in a narrative of complaint means little to these furious folks.  As a result, coworkers, people sharing the same name, and neighbors get in the crossfire of their accusations.  What was once a healthy, growing workplace, school, or community becomes a place of fear, mistrust, and doubt as these misguided people take control of the institution or community.  Turnover becomes high, and morale sinks ever lower as the once blooming rose now simply stinks.   

*   *   *  

Well, there you have it.  Persecution, a rather common event in the lives of Christian believers in other continents, is alive and well in North America, though in a more subdued and oblique way.  Actually, there are believers in other parts of the world that are praying for persecution to come to believers in America.  It purifies the church - the body of believers - and makes them more ready for service, for one thing.  That is a good thing that pleases Jesus, so I'd say it's time for the church in North America to get ready for some more direct and in your face persecution.  God will help us. . . and he is always faithful and true. 

From Jesus' own lips in John 15: 

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

From the Apostle whom Jesus loved in 1 John 3:

13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

The next passage, also in 1 John 3, is a real practical one that gets rubber to road really well. . .no time for hypocrisy!

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Well said words by the sage Apostle John towards the end of his long life.  May God help me to do them the way John said.  Until next time. . .


Monday, July 30, 2012

Employment done God's Way

My wife, my "Christiana," if you are familiar with Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, has reached a milestone or marker of sorts.  She's been nursing in one form or another for almost forty years now.  She's almost 60 years of age as well.  Employment at one agency has lasted four years running, the longest employment she's had since being married to me. 

But it's not been without pain.  Never being told you are doing a good job, always being told of your deficiencies, and seeing an office staff that once was on the top of their game descend into abysmally poor morale while their accreditation is currently in jeopardy is hard to take.  So it's time for her to go and work elsewhere.  It's not like I didn't counsel her to get out of there. . . I did that over and over for months on end.  It's due to her being fired. 

Now, regardless of whether or not the firing is justified or not, how ought one's attitude be toward an employer in this case?  Generally speaking before a firing, how ought an employee's attitude be?  How about that of the employer?  Does God have anything to say on the topic?  You betcha he does!

I used to have a yellow legal pad paper sheet entitled "Employer-Employee Relationships" that had a plethora of applicable scriptures on the topic at hand.  I gave that paper away years ago to a young, enterprising, personable, charismatic (in the relational, not theological sense) pastor friend, Todd DuBord.  Todd these days is the Chaplain to none other than Chuck Norris of Walker, Texas Ranger fame.  Check out what he's done on the subject of America as a nation with foundational beginnings in the Christian faith. . . quite a bit of good research, actually.  Good stuff that goes along with what David Barton of says.  Anyways, like I fool I was then, I didn't make a copy of my paper.  I sure would like to have it now.  Nevertheless, the Internet is your friend when it comes to the Bible and what it says on virtually any topic, including this one.  So I've been able to some degree recreate my list of verses to some extent below.  All passages from the ESV unless otherwise noted. 

*  *  *

From Colossians 3:22-25:

Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

A lot of people forget that the Bible is replete with imagery concerning slaves and masters.  Why?  Because that was the way it was back then, for starters.  The bigger reason, though, is because in reality, if you belong to Jesus Christ, he is your Lord. . . that is, your Master. . . and you are his bondslave, as the Apostle Paul put it over and over in his letters.  That's right.  A master/slave relationship.  Not a bad thing if and only if you have a good master.  Jesus is in fact that good master.  Modern day 21st Century sensibilities and North American cultural views often occlude these facts. 

From Colossians 4:1:

Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Aha!  Masters have a master too!  That's right. . . and one reason why it's important for a supervisor or manager, or executive not to become too arrogant in their business dealings involving employees.  They have someone to answer to, just like the employee does.  The Lord God Almighty himself.  So they'd better be just and fair now. . . or pay the price later before their master, the Lord.

From Ephesians 6:5-9:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

So. . . employees are to act as though they are working for Christ, servants of his, doing his will from the heart, and not any people pleasing (or watching the clock).  Whole different work attitude than what most encounter on the job.  Employers are to have true consideration for their employees with fear and trembling and a sincere heart, and stop their threatening, knowing that the Lord is impartial in judging all concerned.  That awareness of the Lord as everyone's judge puts a lot of bad behavior in its place, as it should.

From Leviticus 25:43:

You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God.

From Leviticus 19:13:

You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.

From the last part of this verse one may infer correctly that prompt payment of wages is what pleases God.  Yet in modern day society, how many let pay accrue on a every two weeks or twice a month basis, much less monthly?  A whole lot.  See, it really should be pay at the end of the day like one pays a farmhand in agriculture.  How do I know that?  I've picked in the field for pay before.  Not afraid of work, you know.

From 1 Timothy 6:1:

Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

Really, what it gets down to is this: recognize the earthly master or employer as in the place of the Lord himself, and treat him as such.  If one does, the name of God and the Scriptures of the Bible aren't called into disrepute. . . harmony and respect ensues.  A happy situation, instead of the rebellion and resistance people like the Occupy Wall Street crowd have done in the last year.

From Luke 3:14:

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Being content with your wages is beginning to be a recovered art form once again in the face of a stagnant and uncertain economy.  People realize that they are blessed to have employment these days. . . any employment.  A chastened attitude towards obtaining wages is a good thing.

From Ecclesiastes 9:10:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

So give your work your all.  Do it with all your might, and don't hold back in your efforts.

From 1 Timothy 5:18:

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

Employers, don't hold back wages.  An uncertain economic stream of income increases irritability and anxiety, which you by a faithful rendering of accurate wages paid can eliminate.  No commission reductions to please the home office, kickbacks to the owner because he doesn't think you deserve the pay, and that ilk (and believe me, I can cite more personal examples here).  Be straightforward and honest in your accounting of pay.

From James 5:1-6, (Easy English):

“Now, you rich people, weep and cry aloud. There are terrible troubles that will soon be coming to you. Your riches have lost their value. Your beautiful clothes are as if moths had eaten them. Your gold and your silver have become dirty and stained. The dirt and stains will be evidence against you in the judgement. They are like poison that will eat up your bodies as with fire. That is because you have heaped up a lot of riches in these last days. Listen! You have not paid the wages of those who worked in your fields. The money you kept from them cries out to God against you. The Lord of all power has heard the cries of the workers. You have lived on earth in luxury. And you have had all that you wanted. You lived to please yourselves. You have made yourself fat, like animals ready for men to kill. You have accused. And you have caused the death of those who were innocent.”

It's not a sin to be rich, but it is a sin to have a wrong attitude towards workers (employees) and deliberately withhold wages due.  Pretty ugly picture here.  Dickensian imagery to boot.

From 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (Easy English)

“Brothers and sisters, keep away from Christians who are lazy. Such people do not live in the way that we taught you. We tell you to do this by the authority that the Lord Jesus Christ gives to us. You yourselves know very well that you should live as we did. We were not lazy when we were with you. We did not depend on any of you for our food without paying for it. No, we worked hard night and day. We earned what we needed. So we did not have to charge you anything at all. We did this, not because we do not have the right to expect such help. But we did it so as to be an example of how you should live. Because when we were with you, we gave you this rule: Whoever refuses to work should not eat.

We say this because we hear that some among you are lazy. They talk about other people but do no work themselves. By the authority that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge them to work quietly. They must earn the money to buy their own food. But you, brothers and sisters, must never tire of doing good things.”

Whoever refuses to work should not eat.  Not whoever does not work should not eat.  See the difference?  If one has the ability, one should be working for what they need to eat.  Pretty straightforward.  No entitlement society going on here for the able bodied, unlike a lot of North American society today. 

From Ephesians 4:28 (Easy English):

“If you were a thief, you must stop stealing things. You should work and do something useful with your hands. Then you will earn something that you can share with other people. They may need your help.”

This is such a good and useful verse to use with my incarcerated juvenile students in the county camp system, I'm going to be memorizing it and quoting it liberally.  Lots of theives behind bars there where I work. . . trust me on this.  Yes, those friends and relatives outside of their confinement in juvenile camp need their help.  I raise that point up to them over and over, and talk of legitimate employment they don't know about as a way to do it once they're released.  Often these kids don't know there's any other way of getting money other than burglary, grand theft auto or drug running.  I have a big job to do in that regard, for sure.

Finally, some reminders on the bigger picture on the matter from where God sees it.  There's no place for bitterness towards an employer, even when one may be (justly or not) fired from a position.

Hebrews 12:14-15:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

What God really wants is renewed minds in sync with him, walking with him, depending on him, trusting him, communicating all the time with him.  That's a lot of him. . . and not a lot of me!

Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Hope you've profited from this time together in God's Word as much as I have.  Until next time. . .


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pithy Postulates for finances

Time to consider the financial and material side of this present life. . . if only because we have to deal with it.  Heaven, of course, will have far different riches and objects one deals with - mansions, streets of gold, and a banqueting table I very much look forward to sitting at, for starters - and is always a wise place to store one's belongings and treasure.  Indeed!  (smile)  Eternity is what I sometimes wryly refer to as my "deferred compensation plan."

I came across an interesting fellow blogger here on blogspot who came up with what he calls "quotable quotes."  If you know me well, I do my very best to avoid trite and worn out phrases, so I have renamed this post to something far less trite and far more fresh. . . Introducing what may well become an irregular yet periodic feature here, "Pithy Postulates."  I'm reusing his oft-repeated sayings here, while the reflections will be my own.  Just another reminder that true wisdom comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1).  Those of us who are in tune with what God says in the Scriptures - and most importantly his heart - are hopefully more aware of the generous spreading around of that wisdom among his special creation, humankind.  Hat tip to Robert Platt Bell, whose original post is here:  I'd also recommend reading his blog generally. . . from the bit I've read already, he has some sound down home tested from the trenches wisdom about financial management that so many lack.  That intro out of the way, here goes:

  •   The more complicated you can make any financial transaction, the easier it is to fleece the consumer.
Buying cars or real estate come to mind here. . . but it needn't be that expensive.  Free toasters when you open an account at a financial institution are an old ploy, as are interest rate deals at the store.  Then there are the television commercials that tell you - always late in the two minute ad - you will get two of the item (such as a magic knife) for the same "low" price if you act now. . . Here's how to order.  For calls in the United States, call 1-800-blah blah blah.  Beware.  Avoiding these could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the transaction. 

  • They throw pennies at us, hoping we spend dollars.
This is where the "cash back" deals and the "free miles" from the airlines try to hook you into buying from them, and not their competitors.  I did a bit of calculating on the AmEx credit card offer regarding Costco purchases, especially gasoline, and concluded it was worth perhaps $10 to $20 a month max.  The downside is you pay a monthly statement, not pay as you go.  Pay as you go lets you know the exact state of your finances, if you manage them well (and believe me, I do).  You always spend more using a credit card. . . I learned that back in my marketing classes I took years ago.  Avoid.

  • Generate your own normative cues!
The advertising industry - Madison Avenue, as it's called in the trade (hey, back in the day I even took an entire college course on the subject, earning my easiest "A" ever while sleeping through class most of the time) is full of it.  Constantly trying to get you to work against your own self interest financially speaking, buying things you can ill afford.  Ignore them!  I said, Ignore them!  Who invited them into your house as a guest?  You did.  Turn off the TV and/or throw away the direct mail.  You'll be better off for it.  And. . . learn to be more like Jesus, and less like Madison Avenue.  That means you'll be spending more time in the Scriptures, and less time watching the boob tube.  Try it. . . you'll like it!

  • Any business relationship predicated on a lie, no matter how trivial, will inevitably go down from there. 
Car dealers that shout from billboards or direct mailers "$199 a month for (blank make/model new car)" are lying to you.  Lying!  Double the figure and you'll get the ballpark real purchase price.  Don't lease.  Ever.  Unless you own a business and use the vehicle in your business.  Who ever only travels 12,000 miles a year like the lease invariably states?  No one.  They'll charge you dearly for the extra miles, costing you hundreds or thousands extra at the end of the lease.  Avoid, avoid unsolicited telephone calls from pitchmen and direct mail directing you what to do with the envelope (the "urgent" marking on the outside envelope ploy or similar).  Just say to the caller, "we have a policy of not accepting unsolicited calls from people we don't have a business relationship with" will do the trick nicely.  I know from experience.  And throw the yucky direct mail away.  Don't even look at the stuff!  'Nuff said.

While in the process of going through the day's activities, a young woman came to the door and stated she was a friend of ours from Tennessee.  We're in California. . . and so that raised my wife's and my own suspicions as to her trustworthiness (lying to us).  Sure enough, she was here to sell us some kind of subscription to get her a scholarship for college - heard that before for many many years.  Told her we as a family policy don't do unsolicted business with folks we don't ask to see. . . she walked away.  See!  Works like a charm! 

  • If someone tries to sell you "Peace of Mind," keep one hand on your wallet.
I once worked for an automobile extended warranty company in Tustin, California.  Shady characters.  They "gamed" the company to favor those dealers who sold the most contracts, and favored customer payouts to those who bought extended warranties from these dealers. . . while stonewalling and denying legitimate claims from those who bought their contracts from dealers that didn't sell enough extended warranties to suit the company's liking.  Lawsuits invariably ensued.  If you can't afford the item, do without it.  Don't be a materialist and seek life through your posessions.  True peace, of course, comes only from knowing Jesus.  Not from buying some insurance plan or something. 

  • So when someone asks you to cheat, chances are, it is because they want to cheat YOU. 
Don't be involved in a crooked deal.  The only one benefitting from the deal will be the crook!  Don't fall for the car deal that's "too good to be true."  It is. . . and when you wire that money to the person who never showed you the car in person, you can bet your bottom dollar it's never going to be shipped to you.  So don't be a sucker.

  • Using the tax code as an investment guide is a bad idea. 
Making purchases or doing things just because there's a deduction or credit in the tax code is just plain stupid.  The tax code changes all the time, and is "gamed" to favor those in political power anyway.  Don't have a K Street lobbyist?  You're not named Warren Buffet or Oprah Winfrey?  Then don't play their game!  Remember, it's not about the abundance of things you possess on this present earth.  It's not about getting the lowest tax bill.  It's about pleasing God while obeying the government taxwise.  Spending money to save money always results in spending money in the long run.  Which reminds me. . .

  • You can't deduct your way to wealth!
Oh yeah, some years ago there were these electric golf cart vehicles like the ones Lee Iacocca was involved in that were supposed to pay for themselves via tax credits.  The tax credit was good for the first year, then the government closed that loophole.  Those that fell for this ended up with golf carts that ended up being far from free.  Whatever happened to all those golf carts?  Were they such a good buy after all was said and done?  You be the judge. 

Similarly, lately we've had "Cash for Clunkers" and new car tax credits to spur new car sales.  Those who bought cars then got a better deal than I did, who bought my new car 15 days after the credit expired.  Sigh.  But both of us ended up spending money for new cars, new car purchase tax credit or not.  Spending money is not saving money.  Don't let the tax code rule you. . . let Jesus be your kindly, gentle benevolent ruler and live life according to His will, not the tax code's.

  • Act Rationally in an Irrational World
Whatever the hype is, go the other way.  Be like a salmon. . . swim upstream, not with the crowd.  The crowd takes the wide superhighway. . . the pilgrim takes the Road Less Traveled. 

I remember getting sales pitches via the telephone and direct mail telling me now was the moment to buy into real estate.  Buy a house, rent it out for a while, and "flip" it for the easy profit with house prices rising.  Funny thing is. . . as with any purchase, there is a downside risk.  What if you become "upside down" in the rental house's mortgage?  It's happened a lot these days.  We all know how the real estate market is now, right?  Considerably down from where it was a few years ago.  Stay a step ahead of the get rich quick schemers.  Ignore them!

  • All advertising is based on the simple premise of persuading a consumer to act in a manner that is NOT in their own financial self interest. 
In other words, why listen to advertisers?  No reason to, unless you like ads for entertainment purposes.  They are acting at cross purposes with what you are trying to accomplish in life.  

Ever notice that companies about to go out of business or are poorly run often do the most advertising?  Why are they advertising in the first place?  Because they don't have good "word of mouth."  They have to recruit folks who've never tried them, the young, the new immigrants, the unaware, the unsuspecting.  And they do it with great precision, let me tell you. Circuit City, Hollywood Video, Blockbuster Video and Montgomery Ward (!) come to mind.  Only one of these is still in regular business anymore.  Two of them are with new owners selling via the Internet.  Don't get me started. . . (grrr. . ..)

  • While it may be safer in the center of the herd, the grass is all trampled down and pooped upon.
Don't let the world squeeze you into its own mold; be willing to take appropriate risks in life.  It's hard to eat grass the other cows have eaten.  Get some elbow room - take risks to earn an income and grow your financial situation by not always following the crowd. 

Consider the real estate market from say, 1995 to 2005.  In 1995 most people were risk averse to buying - always a good signal to check out and see if it makes sense to buy (because many folks took their losses in the immediate years prior).  Conversely, in 2005 I had letters and phone calls begging me to sell my property - a good sign that the market was becoming overheated and unsustainable, and yes, about to collapse - a signal to get out of the market.  And it did of course collapse.  As we know now, everyone else was buying at the top of the real estate market in 2005 when that was the time to actually sell.    

Another mistake some people make is to buy every insurance policy covering every circumstance known to mankind.  This include buying extended warranties on things like garbage disposers and home computer printers.  Do yourself a favor: keep your hard earned money and just say no.  Cover the true catastrophic sitations that would bankrupt you, and for the things that you typically go out and replace, don't even consider buying an extended warranty!  Please, folks!  Don't make me beg. . . 

  • Never confuse getting lucky with being brilliant.
Don't be overconfident just because you've made some decisions that have panned out financially in a short period of time.  Everyone eventually lucks out and makes worse decisions. . . the law of averages kicks in, you know.  "Take heed where you stand lest you fall," the Apostle Paul said.  Apropos not only spiritually, but financially as well.  Good advice.  Don't overplay the hand God gives you to play.  

  • If someone can't explain what they do for a living in ten words or less, they are probably lying to you.
If you hear buzzwords, politically correct talk, or lots of technospeak that sounds really good but doesn't make any sense to you, raise your red flag.  Check it out!  Probably not worth your while to invest in them, employ them, rent to them, or (ahem) marry them.  Who wants to lose from a liar, anyways?  "Let your yes, be yes, and your no be no," James wrote in his letter to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.  Makes good sense, and excellent advice.  Be honest and to the point wherever possible, even if it hurts.  

Please feel free to continue the discussion via the "Comments" hyperlink below.  It would be nice to hear your thoughts as well.