Previous month:
February 2006
Next month:
April 2006

March 2006

Henry Stirs the Pot

Our own Henry Neufeld has placed himself in the thick of the fray in the ongoing Intelligent Design debate, this time arguing from a Christian theological perspective that ID is bad theology.

Henry's full article can be found on Threads from Henry's Web .

Why is ID bad theology and why is this assessment shared among even conservative Christian scholars? Neufeld explains:

"If you are wondering why there is a split amongst conservative Christians over ID, it is simply that many conservative Christians are saying either that this does not prove or that it is not even trying to prove anything that actually works within their theology."

Going further, he asserts, "I don’t accept ID precisely because I believe that the universe is designed."

I'm not going to do all your work for you; you'll have to read the article and come back and comment here and on his blog and well as on the Religion Forum. There is a lively discussion of the article there. In it, I responded to my friend:


I would say that while Paul does say that one can find God through creation, he doesn't offer any guarantee that we'll all find out everything, or that we'll get everything right.  I think "clear enough" would be a good equivalent there.<<

My theology professor, Bill Hendricks, in his lecture on revelation, said that God has not revealed everything about Himself, but what He has revealed is true to who He is and adequate for us to know Him and relate to Him.

All Paul really guaranteed in Romans 1 was that nature offered enough revelation to point us toward "awe" "wonder" and that in human rebellion, we rejected even that.

Psalm 19 is a two-parter in my view - the revelation through creation which is adequate as a "call to worship," refined by the spoken word in the second part of the Psalm that reveals even more information....

My own article on Romans 1:18-20
[on my Roman Road blog] is admittedly preachy and on a different vein - because it is, afterall, the begining of a sermon I intend to preach on Sunday.

But it is a curious thing <g>

- Tom

ID is a hot button issue these days. More from me here. You can pick up my sermon and borrow as much as you like with proper attribution.

The Red Red Robin

The red, red robin keeps blog, blog, blogging along.

I came late, but I did not come quietly to the world of blogging and now I am trying to bring everyone along.

Today, I set up a site for the pastors in our local association: Mid Valley Pastors . It is open for anyone to read, but there is not much there yet.

I did some further work on our Toastmaster's club site. I am an enthusiastic member of Toastmasters and encourage people far and wide to join and tune up they public speaking and leadership skills. Even though i have been speaking in public since I was 13 years old and getting paid for it weekly for over 31 years, I am learning something every week. I put some great links on that site today:  Federal Toastmasters Weblog .

I am reading Jeremy Wright's Blog Marketing

Blog_marketing_1In the Forward to the book published this year, Dave Taylor says, "... while may people still think of blogs as online diaries or journals, a small handful of forward-thinkers, leaders in the march to tomorrow, have recognized the more profound impact on the world of digital communications. Jeremy Wright is in this group..."

I agree.

Taylor, who is publisher of The Intuitive Life Business Blog,  invites the reader to his sites: and .

Those two links are worth the price of the book - which illustrates the power of collaborate, interactive communications which can be facilitated by this technology.

Wright's own site is  It will keep you busy for a full 8 hour day.

Whether you are browsing for personal interest, ministry possibilities, or business development, this is the arena of excitement for today. You are in or out. Wade in and you will soon be swimming with the tide.

Please don't forget the old stand-by forums standing by: Christian Fellowship and Religion . There are lively topics in an equally lively community that is growing and ready to receive new members.

You can get to my Blogger blogs by going to my personal profile.

More on Priorities, but Even More on Invisible Coaching

I have a little more on priorities at The Entrepreneur's Table.

I find that what I am most interested in is how to help other people be successful in their spiritual lives, businesses, and other endeavors.

I always thought that being out front all the time was the name of the game, but I am getting more joy out of pushing people to the front of the line, investing in their futures, and cheering for their accomplishments.

John said, "He must increase and I must decrease" and Jesus Himself declared that we would do greater works than Him because He was going to the Father. There are a couple of ideas related to coaching that instruct me here.

He was predicting the coming of His Spirit who would be invisible to the world. He would also be the Paraclete/Comforter/Encourager - a inner coach that gets far less credit than He deserves while we get to be up front in service.

The bottom line was that it was still going to be Him working through us, but THROUGH us and not outside of us. He was going to invest His very life into our lives that we might succeed in the only thing that elevates us - servanthood.

As a coach, encourager, pastor, and friend, I take this to heart. I am nothing like the Holy Spirit and I am not Jesus - but I am in relationship with Him and am called to be His instrument. As I encourage others to move to the front, I must become less visible and totally invested in the progress of others.

That is sound networking, sound discipleship, and sound living.

Building Blocks - Principles

Principles govern the universe. They flow from truth in a steady stream of endless provision. They translate the incomprehensible into concepts that we can grasp and apply. They come to us as multi-faceted diamonds and allow us to examine them from all sides as the light shines on them and illuminates the realities onto which it is deflected.

Principles are timeless. While their specific applications may change, their nature does not.

As sea changes occur in the way one generation perceives reality differently from the next and as world views fluctuate, it is not the place of principles to bend, but to be communicated in new ways whether by precept or by story. While the medium may be the massage, it is not the message.

We need not be threatened by change of style, culture, and thought patterns when we understand how durable and adaptable basic principles are. Their character is not changed in the process of translation.

In network marketing, their are numerous media for presentation of the message, as many compensation plans as there are fresh ideas, differences in nomenclature, and product variations limited only by imagination. Yet, through it all, certain principles continue to apply and, at an entrepreneur's table, these can be discussed and encouraged.

Bypass the principles and whatever strategy you wish to employ becomes useless. Apply them and prosper.

All of this makes sense in other contexts as well - any business, education, philosophy, and theology. Principles endure.

Reflecting on Reflecting

I have set up several blog sites and domain names in recent days - part of it is strategic, part something else that I can't put my finger on. However, I do have a vision for an intra-connected web interonnected with elements of a larger web, flowing into a web of webs where information and values I care about can be adequately communicated and catalogued.

At the hub of all this are the two forums I manage on Compuserve and Netscape: Christian Fellowship and Religion.

Then there is the discipline of writing and the twin discipline of reading and filing. That may be lagging. But along with all of this is the discipline of discipline and this is where I really struggle. I have so many interests and the integration of these requires that each be given its own autonomy of weight.

Does that ring a bell for anyone?

It was an inspiration to hear Barbara Elliot on Tuesday at the Fresno/Clovis Prayer Breakfast. I reflect on her speech in another blog. Her book is worthy of a recomendation:

2031766: Street Saints: Renewing America's Cities


Street Saints: Renewing America's Cities
By Barbara J. Elliott / Templeton Foundation Press

Street Saints is both a book of motivational stories about unsung heroes and a sociological study of the "faith factor," documenting faith-based programs that are treating social maladies in America. Based on eight years of hands-on experience and more than 300 interviews, Barbara Elliot takes readers on a tour of communities and institutions where faith-based initiatives are making a difference. She offers inspiration, role models, and guidelines for people who would like to give back to their own communities.

Barbara Elliot's web site givers guidance on how to give to some of the most effective faith-based non-profits that are impacting their cities. It also includes a comprehensive directory of faith-based non-profits.

Complimentary Blogs

I have spent a good portion of the day setting up some additional blogs for which this will be home base. These deal with specific areas of interest. The point is to make it easier for my readers to browse and zero in on their own interests.

Here are the addresses: - These are my sermon notes, insights, and gleanings from the study of Romans. - These are the notes I make as I teach through the book of Proverbs. - I will be posting information about  mangosteen and Xango. - My Bible studies on Luke. - I am not sure what this specialty is yet. - Polecat Hollow stories. I am not sure how much of this I will be posting since I am working on the book. This can also be accessed from . - More on the recent series I have been journaling on here. The URL for the discussion forum on Entrepreneur's Round Table will be  at Yahoo.

Have fun.



We are between services here at the Fellowship of Joy. It is 11:00 A.M. and I am preparing for phase two or three or four or whatever depending on what and how one counts. There was breakfast and persona prayer and study, the drive, the last minute details, e-mail, practice, praise service, Bible Study, fellowship time, and now - 5 minutes of down time that I am choosing to use to post a blog before the 11:15 A.M. English service.

What part of that is worship? What part of that is preparation. Did I forget to mention a game of Solitaire and one of MaJong?

How spiritual is that? How spiritual isn't it?

Can't Solitaire be to the glory of God? What do I need to be doing with my eyes when I am praying? Am I not praying as I type this reflection? Am I not struggling with the big issue of how eternity penetrates time and space and how the God of the Universe become incarnate in human flesh? As I Write these words, my heart is exploring the wonders of "mudanity" when penetrated by eternity.

In five more minutes I will get up and wander into what is, at this very moment, a sanctuary of worship. I will kneel at the altar and continue this prayer. I will ask God to make holy the moment as I am doing now, and to speak through this miserable excuse for a vessel in whom are all the treasures of grace that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of me.

I am not wasting this time. I am waiting on God in the way that I know how at the moment. I am expecting that He will speak through me in a few more moments.  I am confident in His Word and content in His promises. Somehow it all fits together. It is not for me to tell you how or what works together for you.

In fact, I sense that it is not for me to draw any conclusions at this moment - or even to check my typing for that matter. Basically, I have to go....

Entrepreneurs' Table Part 3 - Attitude

The A in TABLE is for attitude. Attitude determines altitude. You will fly no higher than your attitude determines. It is more important than aptitude because it is the arena of choice where you decide which opportunities to embrace, which to shun, and which to postpone.

I take the OH GOSH approach to attitude. I will simply lay it out here and discuss it further in subsequent articles. Essentially, OH GOSH stands for Opportunity. Hope, Gratitude. Optimism, Service, and Humility.

O = Opportunity. The attitude of a winner in network marketing or any other endeavor is that of viewing every obstacle as an opportunity for any number of valuable things including learning, growth, meeting new people, helping others, validating one's credibility, and even laying down the cobblestones of success. After all, the road to success is paved with the cobblestones of failure.

H= Hope. Hope gets us up in the morning. It informs our attitude that it is OK to dream, plan, and work because something very likely will come of it. Hope is not a guarantee of no pain or discomfort. Rather it is something stronger than a possibility. It says that our futures are not in the hands of  a fatalistic principles of doom, but of a loving God who calls us to cooperate with Him in shaping them.

G = Gratitude. An attitude of gratitude recognizes the debt we have for all we have been given in life. The old joke is that if you see a turtle up a tree and he tells you he got there on his own, he is either lying or he doesn't understand the nature of things, or both. (Note: I heard this in a workshop hosted by Blanchard.) We thrive on an attitude of gratitude. With it, we grow better instead of bitter through the trials of life.

O = Optimism. We choose whether to look on the bright side or the dark side of things, to focus our gazes forward or backward, and to affirm our faith rather than our doubt. Optimism is not the foe of realism. What makes us think that pessimism is more realistic than optimism? It is often the choice that determines the outcome. Get real; bring back Pollyanna.

S = Service. If we, who dabble or delve into to the realm of networking and other business ventures will adopt a servant attitude, we will stop wasting time complaining about our inconveniences, perceiving slights, and nursing wounds. Zig Ziglar called networkers to a higher focus when he said, "You can have anything you want if you make it your main objective to help other people get what they want." (paraphrased)

H= Humility. If we are servants, we will be humble. We will succeed faster if we learn that it is not all about us. It is about the IT of it and it is about the other person. Humility is not negative self-image. A person with a healthy self esteem can be very humble because he/she has nothing to prove, no reputation to fight for, no need to be heard above everyone else, and is not threatened by the success of others. Humility is an attitude we will need to discuss later. It is vital.

The Entrepreneur’s Table Part 2 - T

The T in Table ( as in the Entrepreneur's Table)is for Timely Topics and Transferable Themes. Strategies come and go, but the basic themes have a long shelf life and are transferable from business to business. Networking is built upon values and big ideas. These can be enlivened and made more applicable through an awareness of the times. Networkers can help each other by bringing market, technological, and demographic trends to the table and discussing them in the light of timeless principles.

1) The first theme is Vision. Some package it as a dream and others as an objective. Whatever the nomenclature, it is the big picture view of a destination that the entrepreneur has in view. It is that person's WHY. for what he or she is trying to accomplish. Without a Y, a WAY is just a WA (a meaningless moan or whine). The capacity to envision and dream is not something that we can take for granted. It must be cultivated. We were born with it, but it went dormant and needs to be revived. We can help each other dream greater dreams. Read The Dream Giver.

    The Dream Giver: Following Your God-Given Destiny - Hardcover
    By Bruce Wilkinson / Multnomah Publishers Inc.

    A WAY without a Y is a WA.

2) Once you have a WHY and it goes to the root of your sense of mission/purpose in the world, the next component is commitment. You are either committed or not with degrees of commitment in between. The WIT principle measures that commitment. WIT says, Whatever It Takes and can be evidenced by your calendar and energy expenditures. There will be choices and the choices you make will be driven by your connection to your commitments. Being surrounded by a support system creates an avenue for accountability where we can be reminded of our commitments and encouraged to follow them.

3) Next we need a strategy and a vehicle. Not all networking companies are created equal. Entrepreneurs needs to develop skills for evaluating integrity, marketability, and compensation systems. Once in a particular company, there are still choices to make regarding tools, marketing approaches, product emphasis selection, and other strategic initiatives. Strategies can be very transferable between businesses and may depend upon ones location and any number of factors.

4) We need to learn how to make contact lists and where to find people. Prospecting is a skill that begins with a thought process. It is a conscious contact consciousness. An Entrepreneur's table can be a place to exchange contacts. I will address this later. Also - more on building blocks including people skills later.

5) Tools are vital to business development. Choosing the right tools and budgeting for tools is essential to networking. Some resources and ideas can be shared across business boundaries.

6) Contacting and inviting are two skills that are always transferable. Methods, relationships, interpersonal skills, insights into human nature, motivating factors are all timely topics for a round table discussion.

7) How to make presentations is a topic that everyone can find beneficial. Do you use charts or booklets, PowerPoint or conference calls? Do you present over the Internet?  It is important to look at how we communicate, what holds people's attention, and how to find hot buttons. This is a vital and transferable theme.

8) Failure at follow-up is the downfall of many a networker. Without follow-up, contacts are lost and time is wasted. Rare is the person who will follow up themselves. People are just too busy, distracted, and scattered. They do not know what they do not know. Folks need to be reminded and encouraged. How do you do it? Where do you get the courage? Are there some approaches that work and others that don't. Conserve the results of your contacting by learning the art of follow-up.

9) Closing and enlistment are skills that we can move between business ventures. It does not matter  how much work you do in other ways until you lead a prospect to a decision. Without the decision, nothing else can happen. No one makes any money; no loves are changes; no dreams come true. Maybe we need more information on how to do this; maybe we just need encouragement. Remember a postponement is practically the same as a "no." Don't be so afraid of a "no" that you never ask for a decision. You might just get a "yes." You never will if you do not ask.

10) Duplication is the heart and soul of network marketing. How you structure your business for duplication will determine your success. You must invest in your organization and its members. You must make sure that your best practices are things that others can take and do themselves. If you are a lone ranger, your success will be limited to what you can personally accomplish. Network marketing is about building people. Duplication is how we do that.

So - the ten themes of T (Timely Topics and Transferable Themes) are: (1) Vision (2) Commitment (3) Strategy (4) Contact Lists (5) Tools (6) Contacting and Inviting (7) Presentation (8) Follow-up (9) Closing/Enlisting ( Duplication).

In my next posting I will deal with the A which stands for Attitude and we will apply the "Oh Gosh" approach to attitude adjustments.

As a preview, the B will be for Building Blocks, the L for Lifestyle, and the E for Ethics.


The Entrepreneur’s Table

I believe in network marketing for a number of reasons. The most important one is that at the heart of networking in a high value placed on people helping people, cheering for each others' success, and lifting up those that we introduce to business opportunities.

I have friends in various sub-industries of network marketing and have examined numerous compensation plans. There are similarities and differences in all of them, but at the core of each there are sets of life and business principles that are transferable from company to company. Because of that, I have growing interest in the development of a training system and support process that can be used by different business groups.

Along with that, I am convinced that something like a leads group, specific to the network marketing industry might be of help. Not every company is for every person. People gravitate toward their interests and expertise.

What I am presenting is an Entrepreneur's TABLE with table as an acronym for five areas of interest that I will introduce in my next posting.


My friend sat across from me in my office during our weekly coaching session. He had received an assignment and was not satisfied with the results. As he reported to me on his activity he said, "I did my best."

"Don't ever say that," I replied, rather shocked at my own bluntness.

"When you say you've done your best, you are telling me that you cannot and will not get any better, that you have reached your highest potential, that you have no room for growth. Say that it was the best you could do at the moment, but never tell me that something was your best. You can always do more.."

You can always do more.

You can always be more.

You can always jump higher, last longer, reach farther, delve deeper, and perform at an increasingly more refined level. We are human - not only human or merely human but human with a capital H, fearfully and wonderfully made, created with uncharted potential and open-ended possibilities.

Fortunately, I did not offend him. He is still coming to me for guidance and encouragement and growing. He is more today than he was that day.

The M in More is for mastery and motivation.

Mastery is what masters us. It is that depth-level commitment to something or someone that centers our thinking and defines our existence. When I am mastered by something greater than myself, I know that I am not alone and I am not floundering for a sense of purpose. Who I am and where I am going is a settled matter. I attach my devotion to the ultimate values that are at the heart of all my commitments and I can begin to master the things that have vied in vain for that position.

We are mastered by so many things:  an urgency, tendency, or superficiality until the moment when we submit to that one great center point of life from which flows our lives. Then we can take charge of the things that used to run us and we find that we are motivated.

Motivation is what moves us; gets us up in the morning and gets us going. It is about movement and motor function and it is powerful. It flows from the core of ones being or is of little but temporary value. Real motivation kicks us in the fannies and reminds us that we can always do more and be more.

When your get up and goes gets up and goes the other way, it is the mastery-motivation connection that empowers you to stretch on a reach for the prize.

The O is for opportunity and obligation - and they go hand in hand down the path of potential and growth. Like the shape of the letter, they round us out.

Opportunity is everywhere. We need to move from the place of being obstacle thinkers to opportunity thinkers. There is no obstacle that cannot become a propellant in our quest for more. There is no hardship, tragedy, or struggle that we cannot mount and surmount and ride to a brighter tomorrow.

I saw Danielle recently on a trip to the Bay Area. She's a teenager now, but there was a time when no doctor or other professional would have put a dollar on her surviving that long. She was born with severe spina bifida, mental retardation, blindness, and hearing impairments - and a heart as strong and stubborn as any I've ever seen. Then, she was surrounded by love and a can-do attitude and she has become more than anyone ever expected. She crawls everywhere she goes and pulls herself up to get what she wants. They said she would never talk, but she knows how to ask for her needs to be met. She knows people and calls them by name. She loves and is loved. She and her foster family turned obstacles into opportunities and everyone has grown as a result.

I have been moved forward by having known her.

Then, with great opportunity comes great obligation. Once you know it, you owe it. When you come to realize how vast the possibilities are, you are obligated to make the most of them and share the hope with others. I have a statuette in my office of a frog with a crown on his head. The caption says, "What you are is God's gift to you; what you make of yourself is your gift to God." We are obligated to become all that lies within us to be. We are made for greatness. Anything less is affront to the master design that envisioned our future.

The R is for reverence/respect which enables us to take responsibility.

Reverence is our attitude toward a power greater than ourselves that infuses us with humility and perspective. I know I have not arrived. I know I have not yet done or even imagined my best. I have a long way to go and there is a perfect ideal that holds me in awe. There is a wonder that causes my jaw to drop. When reverence kicks in, we can respect others and we can respect ourselves.

"One of you is the messiah," the old rabbi told the abbot of a dying monastery.

He pondered it and shared it with his brothers. No one understood, but in awe and reverence they took it to heart and started treating each other and even themselves with extraordinary respect. It created such an atmosphere of expectancy and graciousness that people started to visit to experience it for themselves. Soon, young men were seeking to enter the monastic life because of this amazing aura of respect that permeated the place. To think that each of them was potentially destined for greatness gave them permission and hope to become more.

Likewise, it instilled in them a sense of responsibility to handle every person they met, every word they spoke, every deed they did, and every object that passed through their hands with dignity. We have that responsibility as well. We are handling holy things. We are standing on holy ground. Our lives and the lives of the people around us are destined for greatness. As we pass through, let us add value to others and add value to ourselves as well. It is our responsibility.

And that sense of responsibility growing out of reverence and respect  teaches us to be responsible for our choices, our actions, and even our thoughts. No one can spoon feed "MORE JUICE" into our experience. We must chose it and move toward it.

The final letter, E, is for effort and energy. Nothing comes to us that enhances our lives without someone's effort - usually our own, often a cooperative effort. We must take initiative to grow; we must be dissatisfied with status quo and eager to reach. It takes effort.

Success is a four letter word: W-O-R-K.

We take baby steps and those baby steps lead to leaps and bounds, but not without perspiration, frustration, aggravation, and agitation. Yes we need inspiration, innovation, and contemplation, but even they are useless without effort/

Buster whined and moaned like only a dog can do. He was sleeping on a pile of nails.

"Why don't he move?" Gus asked Homer.

"I reckon it just don't hurt 'nough," Homer quipped.

How badly does it hurt not to reach your goals, to stay where you are, to be stuck in the rut and stagnant in time and space?  What will make a person put out the effort to change? We must pose the question to ourselves. Am I willing? Do I want it? Do I believe I can do and be more?

Faith says yes. Hope says yes. Love says yes. What do you say?  The last word is energy and that is what many of us are out of. It has been depleted by disappointments, discouragement, and failure. But our failures are the cobblestones on the path the victory. We must embrace them and return to the basic question of what masters us. Once we know that - so deeply in our lives that we bleed purpose-blood, then we can get the energy from the fountain of possibilities.

You can be more. I can be more. We can be more.

I was driving 10 miles east of Porterville, CA. last week when I started to see some interesting signs. It was success this and success that and I was looking for a place called Success Valley. Then, it suddenly occurred to me that I had been on the road to Success for about 50 miles and never knew it.

Maybe that's the way it is with our lives. When we muster up all we have been given and refocus our attention on the prize. By golly, know t or not; we are on the road to success, the pathway to more.

CurtisalexanderCurtisalexander2_1Do yourself a favor and wander over to and listen to an excerpt or two from my friend, Curtis Alexander and then order these CDs.

Curtis is a great story teller, musician, and human being. A retired insurance executive and current Scouting executive, Curtis became interested in bluegrass music in his middle aged years learning to "pick and grin" from Danny Agajanian.

From there, you can e-mail Curtis and schedule him for an event. He is fully alive when he is making music. You'll find him engaging, humorous, gracious, and generous.

Enjoy the music. I did.

Dumbing Down Dubai and Other Dangerous Diddlings

A number of days ago, I wrote an entry criticizing the President for asking us to trust the government to always act in our best interests without checks, balances, and  oversight.  It wasn't about him - but IT, the government. It was a philosophical and constitutional concern. The context was the ballyhoo over the private company in Dubai with an American CEO contracting to operate ports in the United States.

I like the President. I appreciate his faith and courage. The problem in my opinion was the resistance to accountability and insistence on trust.

We can't offer unconditional trust a leader to operate in the dark just because we like him, agree with him, are affiliated with him by partisan membership or even through the same religious faith. When he steps into the role of civil leader, he gets a great deal of trust entrusted to him, but he can only be part of one branch of government at a time and there are three - each equal to the others, intricately designed so that trust can be limited and, as Ronald Reagan said, "verified."

Having said that, I am going to jump over the fence to the other side. The President is actually right about this Dubai thing. The homework has been done; the contracts were sound; the protections were in place. It is too bad that he does not have the trust capital he is insisting upon for people to believe that - because, in this case, he is right and we ought to be able to trust the process.

He did not lose trust by being a dishonest man. I think he is honest. It was not through any character flaws. It was as a result of blind unilateralism and unwarranted secrecy. Some secrecy is necessary, but this crowd has taken it to the extreme - and it did not start with this one. It has been progressive.

I can't stomach opportunism from the left or the right. In this case, it was the thorough reporting of the often maligned-by-the-right NPR on this Dubai matter that brought me back to the administration's stand on the issue and against most of the Democrats and Republicans who cater to the simplistic rants of a public that continues to be moved by sound bytes and shock jocks.

As the Corleones used to love to say, "It's just business."

And it is. It is no more a matter of national security what company operates these ports than what I eat for breakfast. They are regulated, inspected, and observed. Dubai as capital of the UAE is not only not a terrorist state, its values are antithetical to those of terrorists. It is the Delaware of the Middle East, existing as a tax-free zone for the proliferation of international business. It has bought into Western capitalism lock, stock, and barrel.

Sure, it would be best for American companies to operate our ports, but there are not enough and they are not bidding on them. Like most political grandstanding issues, this is much ado about nothing.

So, what is the administration's responsibility in this? It is creating the hyper-secretive, trust-me atmosphere that fuels the fires of suspicion - and in this case - over nothing.

And they are responding to our fear factor. Shame on those of us who follow the Way that we are more concerned with security and safety than faith and freedom. How much of who we are are we willing to sacrifice to stay alive? What shall it profit a man?

We are well into a dumbing down process. It happens before every election. It ought to humiliate our Harvard/Yale educated elected folks to participate in it, but they seem OK with it. There's is not a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to dumbed down sensationalism, propagation of half-truths, villainization of opponents, and appeals to visceral  ignorance in the quest for votes.

And Americans love it.

If we do not participate by thinking more deeply, asking more questions, and challenging the system, those of us who live in two kingdoms are not rendering unto Caesar because our taxation is primarily participation. We are Caesar and we are renderers and we need to start behaving that way. Let us commit to loving God with our minds at a higher level, rising above political partisanship, and slogan-ism to be the salt-light citizens we are called to be.

This is a rant. I have to do that sometimes. When it comes down to the it of it, I am not bothered with whether you agree or disagree with me on these points as much as that we are free to share our views and exercise that freedom along with others. If it is ever taken away, we shall remain free in Christ. At the bottom line of all things, that is the only thing that really matters and shall matter for eternity.

Devotionals for March 13

Luke 3:5-14 is the text and context for these devotional thoughts on the possibility of life-change as reflected in the preaching ministry of John the Baptist. Life change is a hopeful message since so many of us feel that we are stuck in our ruts.

Here is a sample. You can download the rest

Download devotionals_313192006.doc

Removing Impediments

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. – Luke 3:5-6

God called John to be a smoother and a “straightener”. In many ways, John’s role was nothing more than to clear away the obstacles that might impede the message of the one who would come after him.

He was a voice.

He was a voice in the wilderness.

And he cried out with passion and conviction removing excuses and uncovering facades.

He was the one to come before Jesus who could really move some mountains and clear some paths. John was a co laborer with God as we are called to be and His mission was simple:

To be an agent through whom all flesh might see the salvation of God.

God has no desire to hide His salvation. He wants all to see it. He wants all to receive it.

We have the task of removing the impediments.

What kind of impediments are there? Sometimes mountains are too high, valleys are too low, and roads are too crooked and rough. We can cooperate with God to change that.

One impediment to people seeing God’s salvation is our tendency to speak religious jargon that no one understands. We mask the grace of God in a jungle of theological language and church talk.

Another is our insistence on traditions that have lost their meaning. Or it may be our own negativity or the contradictions of our lives – the dichotomy between what we profess and what we practice.

We have to remove the obstacles that keep people from coming to Christ or even hearing the Word of God. The problem is not so much that people don’t want to hear as much as they sometimes cannot hear over the irrelevant chatter. Remove the impediments and let everyone see the salvation of God.

Absent Mindedness and Present Trouble

The call came just as I was ready to start my class last night.

My question upon hearing the subject matter was typically male and blatantly insensitive:

"Why are you calling me just before Bible Study to tell me this?"

You will be able to guess the answer in a moment, but I wil tell you that it was restrained when compared with what it could have been.

I spent the morning working at home and I was deeply engaged in a project, lost in research as I can often be. Glancing at the clock, I realized that it was no longer morning. In fact, it was 1:15 P.M. and I had a graveside service in 45 minutes.

I hurried to get dressed, threw some clothes in the washer, and rushed out the door. The rest of the afternoon went quite well except for this: I had washed a pocket full of notes and a memory drive. I had done so with someone else waiting for the washer who had to put my laundry in the dryer, clogging it and drying the remains of my notes, my pen, and a surpisingly still functional memory stick.

I had also left the coffee pot on.

I had the contact information for about 15 people in that pocket and it all came out as lint. If I don't call you, please call me. I also had two checks there.

So, I backed off quickly on the question: Why did you call?

I tried to find a way to incorprorate it into my study and closed the evening holding my baby grandson. When I did that, nothing else seemed to matter much - except that I sure hope I don't do that again.

Paradoxical People

We wake up, do whatever must first be done, and stagger to the kitchen to swallow whatever must be swallowed first. Somewhere along the way, we recover enough presence of mind to make some decisions. One of those decision is who we will be this day.

We fumble through the sock drawer, the underwear drawer, and the face drawer looking for an identity. We reach into the well of moods and attitudes to extract an approach to the day. How will we present ourselves? Who will we see? What do we hope to accomplish?

Will I be the laid back, casual man I am when there are few if any demands? Will I be the dead serious all-business overachiever with a power tie? Will I dress for work or for play? Will I be positive or will I be less than positive?

Do I put on my family face, my office face, or my public face?

Will I be me or will I let the imposter inhabit my body and to what extent?

I am a paradox - as are you. We are many faces to many other faces. The real me and the real you is the "us" that we were made to be - intended for greatness, destined for relationship, designed in and for love. The Master Designer of the universe is the personal designer of each of His children. The real person is the one in the blueprints, the finished product in the mind and heart of the Creator - fearfully and wonderfully made, beloved, creative, awe-struck, funny, joyful, and caring. It is the person who has been crafted by grace, showered by mercy, and bathed in agape.

The imposter/phony is everything else that has attached itself to us. He/she/it has the capacity to imitate, obscure, and mock everything that is real and impose itself as the real thing. But it is not.

The imposter is a very powerful force with which to be reckoned, but it is not invincible. Grace gives us choices. I can put on the phony face or just be myself. If I choose to be myself, I'll need more grace and a lot of help. I will have to deal with the imposter's jeers that the real me is inadequate and I will have to assert that whatever I am is what I am and what I will be.

I am a paradox. There are many dimensions to my life, but it is still morning and I still have some choices.

Getting Caught Up

Just about every time I announce that I am going to try and observe a new discipline, I experience roadblocks. The hardest thing in my life has always been the process called "restart." It is at least as hard as starting. In fact, the only thing hard about starting is really the fear of stopping and having to restart. Of course, now that I think about it, the fear of having to continue comes a close second.

But I digress ...

Which is fine ...

Which reminds me that I have a couple of things to share and that I have another dangling progrect to complete tonight ....

And the beat goes on.

My friend, Brian McCurry gave a powerful talk at Toasmaster's a week ago and I asked for a copy of his speech to post here, "I've Lost My Marbles." He sent it with me along with another,  "Who's Packing Your Parachute."   Both are worth the time to download and read. You can contact Brian at Mortgage Center of America, call 559/325-9332.

Download thousand_marbles.DOC

Download parachute_letter.doc

It is now easier to find the Religion Forum and the Christian Fellowship Forum on CompuServe/Netscape. The addresses are and . How easy can that be? In fact, even this blog is easier to find and share. Just go to

Tomorrow is Sunday and there are just three things that I want to get across in my message from Luke 3:6:

Luke 3 (NIV): 6And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "

The background is found in Isaiah 40:5 (NIV)

  • We are called to be part of the revelation of God’s glory. “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,”
  •  God wants all to see His glory. “… and all mankind together will see it.”
  • God has spoken and that is that. “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

If I can internalize those three realities, the first will give me a sense of significance, the second a sense of destiny, and the third, a sense of finality to future fulfillment.

I need to post this quickly because I am off to the Home Show to visit with some folks about Xango - the whole fruit juice of the mangosteen fruit. If you would like to learn more, see my web site at DiscoverMangosteen or download this two documents and get back with me.

 Download mangosteen_info_packet.doc

Download xmangosteen_faq.doc

So we are back to restart and,m having restarted, I need to at least temporarily stop. See you in a day or two.

- Tom