Thursday, December 31, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday December 31, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Point Of No Return

READ: Deut. 11:7-12

The eyes of the Lord your God are always on [the land], from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. —Deuteronomy 11:12Longtime California pastor Ray Stedman once told his congregation: “On New Year’s Eve we realize more than at any other time in our lives that we can never go back in time. . . . We can look back and remember, but we cannot retrace a single moment of the year that is past.”

Stedman then referred to the Israelites as they stood on the edge of a new opportunity. After four decades of desert wanderings by their people, this new generation may have wondered if they had the faith and fortitude to possess the Promised Land.

Their leader, Moses, reminded them that they had seen “every great act of the Lord which He did” (Deut. 11:7) and that their destination was “a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (v.12).

On New Year’s Eve, we may fear the future because of events in the past. But we need not remain chained to our old memories because we can move ahead focused on God. Just as the Lord watched over the land and His people, so His eyes will be upon us.

God’s faithful care will extend to every day of the new year. We can count on that promise. — David C. McCasland

God holds the future in His hands
With grace sufficient day by day;
Through good or ill He gently leads,
If we but let Him have His way. —Rohrs

The “what” of our future is determined by the “Who” of eternity.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday December 29, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread


In Which Realm Do You Live?

READ: Romans 8:1-10

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. —Romans 8:2I was working with a petroleum company in Singapore when an inspector from another country visited. He came to check on a cargo of oil destined for his country, which was at war. When he heard the shriek of fighter planes overhead, he instinctively ran for cover. Embarrassed, he explained, “Sorry, I thought I was back home.” He did what he would have done had he been in his war-torn country.

For the Christian, it’s easy to dive back into old ways of sin out of sheer habit because of the many temptations in this world. Even though we are “in Christ Jesus” as Romans 8:1 says, we sometimes live as if we are “in sin.”

God paid a very heavy price to take us out of the realm of sin. He did so by “sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering” (v.3 niv). We are now to be governed by “the law of the Spirit of life,” not by “the law of sin and death” (v.2). The apostle Paul urges us to “set” our mind according to “the things of the Spirit” (v.5). This means that we take our direction from God’s Word as guided by His Spirit.

When you’re tempted to dive back into old sinful ways, will you instead allow the Holy Spirit who resides in you to help you live more consistently with your standing “in Christ”? — C. P. Hia

Born of the flesh, conceived in sin,
Then born of the Spirit, new life to begin;
I’ve been washed in Christ’s blood and this will suffice,
Praise God I’m His child, I’ve been born twice! —Brandt

When you are born again, you become a citizen of heaven.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What I Read Today - Monday December 28, 2009

From: The NY Times

Op-Ed Columnist

The Copenhagen That Matters
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


Copenhagen

As I listened to Denmark’s minister of economic and business affairs describe how her country used higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation in green power and then recycled the tax revenues back to Danish industry and consumers to make it easier for them to make and buy the new clean technologies, it all sounded so, well, intelligent. It sounded as if the Danes looked at themselves after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, found that they were totally dependent on Middle East oil and put in place a long-term strategy to make Denmark energy-secure and start a new industry at the same time.

The more I listened to the Danish minister, Lene Espersen, the more I thought of my own country, where I’ve been told time and again by U.S. politicians that proposing even a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in gasoline taxes to make America more energy independent and to stimulate fuel efficiency is “off the table,” an act of sure political suicide.

Not in Denmark. So I asked the Danish minister: “Tell me, what planet are you people from?”

Espersen laughed. But I didn’t. How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.” They’ve been banished by an ad hoc coalition of lobbyists loaded with money, loud-mouth talk-show hosts who will flame anyone who crosses them, political consultants who warn that asking Americans to do anything important but hard makes one unelectable and a citizenry that doesn’t even ask for optimal anymore because it believes that optimal is impossible.

Sorry, but there are no good ideas proven to work in other democratic/capitalist societies that we can afford to shove off our table — not when we need to build a knowledge economy with good jobs and everyone else is trying to do the same.

“Already the green taxes here are quite high,” said Espersen. “And even though we know this is not popular with business and industry, it has made all the difference for us. It forced our businesses to become more energy efficient and innovative, and this meant that, suddenly, we were inventing things nobody else was inventing because our businesses needed to be competitive.”

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a nonpartisan research center, and the Embassy of Denmark recently held a briefing on how Denmark is working to become a low-carbon economy. Here are some highlights:

Although it still generates the majority of its electricity from coal, “since 1990, Denmark has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent. Over the same time frame, Danish energy consumption has stayed constant and Denmark’s gross domestic product has grown by more than 40 percent. Denmark is the most energy efficient country in the E.U.; due to carbon pricing, through energy taxes, carbon taxes, the ‘cap and trade’ system, strict building codes and energy labeling programs. Renewable resources currently supply almost 30 percent of Denmark’s electricity. Wind power is the largest source of renewable electricity, followed by biomass. ... Today, Copenhagen puts only 3 percent of its waste into landfills and incinerates 39 percent to generate electricity for thousands of households.”

The Danish government funnels energy tax revenue “back to industry, earmarking much of it to subsidize environmental innovation,” wrote Monica Prasad, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, in a March 25, 2008, essay in this newspaper. Therefore, “Danish firms are pushed away from carbon and pulled into environmental innovation, and the country’s economy isn’t put at a competitive disadvantage.”

It’s why Denmark, with only five million people, boasts some of the leading wind, biofuel and heating, cooling and efficiency companies in the world. Energy technologies are now 11 percent of Denmark’s exports. Oil exports and energy taxes also subsidize mass transit and energy efficiency, keeping bills low for Danish consumers.

Where do Danish politicians get the courage to do the right things — even if painful?

“We don’t have a lot of resources,” said Ida Auken, a spokeswoman for the Danish green/socialist party, S.F. “We have a welfare state that we have to keep up, so we have to think forward all the time and not get stuck in the past. That is where we get the courage. And we have seen it work for 30 years. It is good business. Danish contractors are begging for strict standards on buildings because they know that if they can become efficient and meet them here, they can compete anywhere in the whole world.”

My fellow Americans, the fact that the recent Copenhagen climate summit was a bust in terms of solving our energy/climate problems doesn’t mean that we can ignore those problems — or that we can ignore how individual countries, like Denmark, have effectively addressed them. With unemployment in Denmark at about 4 percent, compared with our 10 percent, maybe we should at least consider putting a few of its ideas on our table.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday December 24, 2009 - Christmas Eve

From: Our Daily Bread

God’s Special Place


READ: Luke 2:1-7

[Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, . . . and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:7As a young girl in the late 1920s, Grace Ditmanson Adams often traveled with her missionary parents through inland China. Later, she wrote about those trips and the crowded places where they stayed overnight—village inns full of people coughing, sneezing, and smoking, while babies cried and children complained. Her family put their bedrolls on board-covered trestles in a large room with everyone else.

One snowy night, they arrived at an inn to find it packed full. The innkeeper expressed his regret, then paused and said, “Follow me.” He led them to a side room used to store straw and farm equipment. There they slept in a quiet place of their own.

After that, whenever Grace read that Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7), she saw the event differently. While some described the innkeeper as an example of uncaring, sinful mankind who rejected the Savior, Grace said, “I truly believe that Almighty God used the innkeeper as the arranger for a healthier place than the crowded inn—a place of privacy.”

Through eyes of faith, we see God’s provision for Mary. Look for the ways He provides for you. — David C. McCasland

Wait on the Lord from day to day,
Strength He provides in His own way;
There’s no need for worry, no need to fear,
He is our God who is always near. —Fortna

Those who let God provide will be satisfied.

Monday, December 21, 2009

More of What I Read Today - Monday December 21, 2009

From: The NY Times (Sunday December 20, 2009)

Op-Ed Columnist

Off to the Races
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


Copenhagen

I’ve long believed there are two basic strategies for dealing with climate change — the “Earth Day” strategy and the “Earth Race” strategy. This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need.

Indeed, anyone who watched the chaotic way this conference was “organized,” and the bickering by delegates with which it finished, has to ask whether this 17-year U.N. process to build a global framework to roll back global warming is broken: too many countries — 193 — and too many moving parts. I leave here feeling more strongly than ever that America needs to focus on its own Earth Race strategy instead. Let me explain.

The Earth Day strategy said that the biggest threat to mankind is climate change, and we as a global community have to hold hands and attack this problem with a collective global mechanism for codifying and verifying everyone’s carbon-dioxide emissions and reductions and to transfer billions of dollars in clean technologies to developing countries to help them take part.

But as President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil told this conference, this Earth Day framework only works “if countries take responsibility to meet their targets” and if the rich nations really help the poor ones buy clean power sources.

That was never going to happen at scale in the present global economic climate. The only way it might happen is if we had “a perfect storm” — a storm big enough to finally end the global warming debate but not so big that it ended the world.

Absent such a storm that literally parts the Red Sea again and drives home to all the doubters that catastrophic climate change is a clear and present danger, the domestic pressures in every country to avoid legally binding and verifiable carbon reductions will remain very powerful.

Does that mean this whole Earth Day strategy is a waste? No. The scientific understanding about the climate that this U.N. process has generated and the general spur to action it provides is valuable. And the mechanism this conference put in place to enable developed countries and companies to offset their emissions by funding protection of tropical rain forests, if it works, would be hugely valuable.

Still, I am an Earth Race guy. I believe that averting catastrophic climate change is a huge scale issue. The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed: the Market. Only a market, shaped by regulations and incentives to stimulate massive innovation in clean, emission-free power sources can make a dent in global warming. And no market can do that better than America’s.

Therefore, the goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech. If we lead by example, more people will follow us by emulation than by compulsion of some U.N. treaty.

In the cold war, we had the space race: who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Only two countries competed, and there could be only one winner. Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth.

Maybe the best thing President Obama could have done here in Copenhagen was to make clear that America intends to win that race. All he needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

Because once we get America racing China, China racing Europe, Europe racing Japan, Japan racing Brazil, we can quickly move down the innovation-manufacturing curve and shrink the cost of electric cars, batteries, solar and wind so these are no longer luxury products for the wealthy nations but commodity items the third world can use and even produce.

If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.

For good reason: Even if the world never warms another degree, population is projected to rise from 6.7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050, and more and more of those people will want to live like Americans. In this world, demand for clean power and energy efficient cars and buildings will go through the roof.

An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference. Let the Earth Race begin.

What I Read Today - Monday December 21, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

God Alone


READ: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

We are God’s fellow workers. —1 Corinthians 3:9On May 29, 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first people to reach the peak of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Since Tenzing did not know how to use the camera, Edmund took a photo of Tenzing as evidence that they did reach the top.

Later, journalists repeatedly asked who had reached the summit first. The expedition leader, John Hunt, replied, “They reached it together, as a team.” They were united by a common goal, and neither was concerned who should get the greater credit.

It is counterproductive to try to determine who deserves the most credit when something is done well. The church at Corinth was split into two factions—those who followed Paul, and those who followed Apollos. The apostle Paul told them, “I planted, Apollos watered . . . . Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters” (1 Cor. 3:7). He reminded them that they were “God’s fellow workers” (v.9), and it is God who gives the increase in ministry (v.7).

Our concern about who deserves the credit serves only to take away the honor and glory that belong to the Lord Jesus alone. — C. P. Hia

Let others have the honors,
The glory, and the fame;
I seek to follow Jesus
And glory in His name. —Horton

Jesus must increase; I must decrease.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday December 17, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

The King Of Fruits


READ: Luke 19:12-26

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, . . . which is your reasonable service. —Romans 12:1The durian, a tropical fruit, is often called The King of Fruits. Either you love it or you hate it. Those who love it will do almost anything to get it. Those who hate it won’t get near it because of its pungent smell. My wife loves it. Recently, a friend, who was grateful for what my wife had done for her, sent her a box of the finest quality durians. She took great pains to ensure that they were the best.

I asked myself, “If we can give the best to a friend, how can we do less for our Lord who gave His very life for us?”

The nobleman in Jesus’ parable in Luke 19 wanted the best from 10 servants to whom he gave money, saying, “Do business till I come” (v.13). When he returned and asked for an account, he gave the same commendation “Well done!” to all those who had done what they could with the money entrusted to them. But he called “wicked” (v.22) the one who did nothing with his money.

The primary meaning of this story is stewardship of what we’ve been given. To be faithful with what God has given to us is to give Him our best in return. As the master gave money to the servants in the parable, so God has given us gifts to serve Him. It is we who will lose out if we fail to give Him our best. — C. P. Hia

Give of your best to the Master,
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service,
Consecrate every part. —Grose

We are at our best when we serve God by serving others

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What I Read Today (more) - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It’s Cold. It’s Icy. It’s Tax Extender Time


by Howard Gleckman

One cheer for the House. In what’s become a dreary annual dance, it agreed to extend, for yet another year, 48 special interest tax breaks worth $23 billion in 2010-2011. Why the cheer? At least it is proposing to—sort of-- pay for them.

One of these days, the Senate will stick these extenders on a bill of its own—probably on a budget resolution needed to keep the government going. And, as it does each winter, the upper chamber will strip out all of the revenue-raising measures. This will be especially ironic this year, since the Senate has spent months arguing with itself over the cost of its health bill.

When it comes to paying for insurance subsidies for low- and moderate-income people, lawmakers are quite insistent on not increasing the deficit. But when it comes to faster investment write-offs for movies, Nascar tracks, and restaurants, not so much. I'm waiting to hear the first tearful speech about the debt we are passing on to our children.

How ingrained have these “temporary” goodies become? Well, the Ways & Means Committee summary description now refers to them as “traditional tax extenders.” You know, here in America we love our traditions: fireworks on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas sales beginning on the day after Halloween, and now, December tax extenders. I can’t wait for the Hallmark Sunday movie. A five-hankie film for sure (and eligible for special expensing at that).

Last year, former Joint Committee chief of staff George Yin and I got into a debate on TaxVox about the benefits of extenders. George argued that treating these tax provisions like appropriations and requiring Congress to review them every year or two is better than making them permanent. In theory, he is exactly right. But in practice, these goodies are extended mindlessly, and in a way that masks their long-term costs. For instance, the price of this bill is often described as $31 billion over 10 years. But if these subsidies are extended for a full 10 years (as they probably will be), the real cost would easily exceed $100 billion.

The extenders are also, not incidently, the gift that keeps on giving for lawmakers seeking campaign contributions and the tax lobbyists who dispense them.

This crop is a mess of tax breaks that never provided any economic benefit or might have once served some purpose but no longer do. Others appear to flatly conflict with one another.

Thus we extend the research and experimentation tax credit at a cost of $4 billion over 2 years although there is little or no evidence that it results in greater innovation (except, perhaps, among the tax lawyers). Then, there are the multiple credits for development in empowerment zones, renewal communities, and new markets. Evidence here is pretty clear: Developers move their projects to the tax-subsidized side of the street but net investment doesn’t increase at all. Besides, know anybody in the commercial real estate business looking for tax credits these days?

Finally, there are my favorites—the contradictory energy breaks. The bill tries to encourage the use of alternative fuels by extending a subsidy for hybrid trucks at the same time it attempts to keep the cost of fossil fuels low by continuing breaks for marginal oil wells. This, I guess, is symbolic of the entire exercise. It only makes sense if you are in Congress.

What I Read Today - Tuesday December 15, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

God’s Remarkable Word

READ: Psalm 119:89-96

Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. —Psalm 119:89The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 has been called the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century. The ancient manuscripts hidden in the caves near Qumran are the oldest known copies of key Old Testament books. In 2007, the San Diego Natural History Museum hosted an exhibition featuring 24 of these scrolls. One often-repeated theme in the exhibit was that during the past 2,000 years the text of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) has remained virtually unchanged.

Followers of Christ who believe that the Bible is the eternal, unchanging Word of God find more than coincidence in this remarkable preservation. The psalmist wrote: “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (119:89-90). Jesus said: “My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

The Bible is more than a historical relic. It is the living, powerful Word of God (Heb. 4:12), in which we encounter the Lord and discover how to live for Him and honor Him. “I will never forget Your precepts,” the psalmist concluded, “for by them You have given me life” (119:93).

What a privilege we have each day to seek God in His remarkable Word! — David C. McCasland

I have a companion, a wonderful guide,
A solace and comfort whatever betide;
A friend never-failing when others pass by,
Oh, blessed communion, my Bible and I. —Knobloch

To know Christ, the Living Word, is to love the Bible, the written Word.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday December 11, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Tears Of Repentance

READ: Luke 22:54-62

Peter went out and wept bitterly. —Luke 22:62My husband, a self-proclaimed computer illiterate, purchased a computer to help him with his business. After giving him a few pointers, I left him alone to do some experimenting. It wasn’t long, however, before I heard a slightly panicked voice from the office: “Hey, where’s that ‘uh-oh’ button?”

What he had been looking for, of course, was the “undo” key that lets you backtrack when you’ve made a mistake. Have you ever wished for one of those in life? A provision to reverse, repair, or restore what’s been broken or damaged by sin?

After Jesus’ arrest, Peter, one of His beloved disciples, denied three times that he knew Him. Then, we read, “the Lord turned” and simply “looked at” him. Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). His tears were most likely tears of shame and repentance. No doubt he wished he could undo his actions. But Peter wasn’t left in his misery. After Jesus’ resurrection, He restored Peter, giving him opportunity to reaffirm his love (John 21:15-17).

When you sorrow over sin in your life, remember that God has provided a method of restoration. “If we confess our sins,” He will “forgive us” and “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). — Cindy Hess Kasper

We’re thankful, Lord, that when we fall
We can begin anew
If humbly we confess our sin,
Then turn and follow You. —Sper

The way back to God begins with a broken heart.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More What I Read Today - Thursday November 10, 2009

From:  The New York Times December 9, 2009


Op-Ed ColumnistGoing Cheney on Climate

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

In 2006, Ron Suskind published “The One Percent Doctrine,” a book about the U.S. war on terrorists after 9/11. The title was drawn from an assessment by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who, in the face of concerns that a Pakistani scientist was offering nuclear-weapons expertise to Al Qaeda, reportedly declared: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping Al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.” Cheney contended that the U.S. had to confront a very new type of threat: a “low-probability, high-impact event.”

Soon after Suskind’s book came out, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who then was at the University of Chicago, pointed out that Mr. Cheney seemed to be endorsing the same “precautionary principle” that also animated environmentalists. Sunstein wrote in his blog: “According to the Precautionary Principle, it is appropriate to respond aggressively to low-probability, high-impact events — such as climate change. Indeed, another vice president — Al Gore — can be understood to be arguing for a precautionary principle for climate change (though he believes that the chance of disaster is well over 1 percent).”

Of course, Mr. Cheney would never accept that analogy. Indeed, many of the same people who defend Mr. Cheney’s One Percent Doctrine on nukes tell us not to worry at all about catastrophic global warming, where the odds are, in fact, a lot higher than 1 percent, if we stick to business as usual. That is unfortunate, because Cheney’s instinct is precisely the right framework with which to think about the climate issue — and this whole “climategate” controversy as well.

“Climategate” was triggered on Nov. 17 when an unidentified person hacked into the e-mails and data files of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, one of the leading climate science centers in the world — and then posted them on the Internet. In a few instances, they revealed some leading climatologists seemingly massaging data to show more global warming and excluding contradictory research.

Frankly, I found it very disappointing to read a leading climate scientist writing that he used a “trick” to “hide” a putative decline in temperatures or was keeping contradictory research from getting a proper hearing. Yes, the climate-denier community, funded by big oil, has published all sorts of bogus science for years — and the world never made a fuss. That, though, is no excuse for serious climatologists not adhering to the highest scientific standards at all times.

That said, be serious: The evidence that our planet, since the Industrial Revolution, has been on a broad warming trend outside the normal variation patterns — with periodic micro-cooling phases — has been documented by a variety of independent research centers.

As this paper just reported: “Despite recent fluctuations in global temperature year to year, which fueled claims of global cooling, a sustained global warming trend shows no signs of ending, according to new analysis by the World Meteorological Organization made public on Tuesday. The decade of the 2000s is very likely the warmest decade in the modern record.”

This is not complicated. We know that our planet is enveloped in a blanket of greenhouse gases that keep the Earth at a comfortable temperature. As we pump more carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases into that blanket from cars, buildings, agriculture, forests and industry, more heat gets trapped.

What we don’t know, because the climate system is so complex, is what other factors might over time compensate for that man-driven warming, or how rapidly temperatures might rise, melt more ice and raise sea levels. It’s all a game of odds. We’ve never been here before. We just know two things: one, the CO2 we put into the atmosphere stays there for many years, so it is “irreversible” in real-time (barring some feat of geo-engineering); and two, that CO2 buildup has the potential to unleash “catastrophic” warming.

When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is “irreversible” and potentially “catastrophic,” I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about.

If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

But if we don’t prepare, and climate change turns out to be real, life on this planet could become a living hell. And that’s why I’m for doing the Cheney-thing on climate — preparing for 1 percent.

What I Read Today - Thursday December 10, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

A Mere Happening?


READ: Ruth 2:1-12

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. —Proverbs 3:6Huang, a nonbeliever, was a visiting scientist at the University of Minnesota in 1994. While there, he met some Christians and enjoyed their fellowship. So when they learned he would be returning to Beijing, they gave him the name of a Christian to contact who was also moving there.

On the flight back to Beijing, the plane encountered engine trouble and stopped in Seattle overnight. The airline placed Huang in the same room with the very person he was to contact! Once they arrived in Beijing, the two began meeting weekly for a Bible study, and a year later Huang gave his life to Christ. This was not just a mere happening; it was by God’s arrangement.

In Ruth 2, we read that Ruth came “to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (v.3). Boaz asked his servants who she was (v.5), which prompted his special consideration toward her. When Ruth asked him the reason for such kindness, Boaz replied, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law . . . . The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you” (vv.11-12).

Did the events in the lives of Ruth and Huang just happen? No, for none of God’s people can escape God’s plans to guide and to provide. — Albert Lee

I know who holds the future,
And I know who holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen—
Everything by Him is planned. —Smith

A “mere happening” may be God’s design.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday December 9, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

When Life Is Too Big


READ: 1 Kings 3:4-14

O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. —1 Kings 3:7As a young man, Jimmy Carter was a junior officer in the US Navy. He was deeply impacted by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the mastermind of the US nuclear submarine fleet.

Shortly after Carter’s inauguration as President, he invited Rickover to the White House for lunch, where the admiral presented Carter with a plaque that read, “O, God, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.” That prayer is a useful perspective on the size and complexity of life and our inability to manage it on our own.

Solomon too knew that life could be overwhelming. When he succeeded his father, David, as king of Israel, he confessed his weakness to God, saying, “O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in” (1 Kings 3:7). As a result, he asked for the wisdom to lead in a way that would please God and help others (v.9).

Is life feeling too big for you? There may not be easy answers to the challenges you are facing, but God promises that, if you ask for wisdom, He will grant it (James 1:5). You don’t have to face the overwhelming challenges of life alone. — Bill Crowder

Each day we learn from yesterday
Of God’s great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He’ll surely help us bear. —D. De Haan

Recognizing our own smallness can cause us to embrace God’s greatness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday December 8, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

A Legacy Of Repentance


READ: Psalm 51

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. —Psalm 51:17All nations have heroes, but Israel may be alone in making epic literature about its greatest hero’s failings (Ps. 51). This eloquent psalm shows that Israel ultimately remembered David more for his devotion to God than for his political achievements.

Step-by-step, the psalm takes the reader through the stages of repentance. It describes the constant mental replays, the gnawing guilt, the shame, and finally the hope of a new beginning that springs from true repentance.

In a remarkable way, Psalm 51 reveals the true nature of sin as a broken relationship with God. David cries out, “Against You, You only, have I sinned” (v.4). He sees that the sacrifices God wants are “a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart” (v.17). Those, David has.

In his prayer, David looks for possible good that might come out of his tragedy and sees a glimmer of light. Perhaps by reading this story of sin others might avoid the same pitfalls, or by reading his confession they might gain hope in forgiveness. David’s prayer is answered and becomes his greatest legacy as king. The best king of Israel has fallen the farthest. But neither he, nor anyone, can fall beyond the reach of God’s love and forgiveness. — Philip Yancey

How blest is he whose trespass
Has freely been forgiven,
Whose sin is wholly covered
Before the sight of heaven. —Psalter

Repentance is the soil in which forgiveness flourishes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More of What I Read Today - Monday December 7, 2009

War . . . Then Peace

READ: Luke 23:32-43

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7On December 7, 1941, a Japanese war plane piloted by Mitsuo Fuchida took off from the aircraft carrier Akagi. Fuchida led the surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Through the war years to follow, Fuchida continued to fly—often narrowly escaping death. At war’s end, he was disillusioned and bitter.

A few years later, he heard a story that piqued his spiritual curiosity: A Christian young woman whose parents had been killed by the Japanese during the war decided to minister to Japanese prisoners. Impressed, Fuchida began reading the Bible.

As he read Jesus’ words from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34), he understood how that woman could show kindness to her enemies. That day Fuchida gave his heart to Christ.

Becoming a lay preacher and evangelist to his fellow citizens, this former warrior demonstrated “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7)—a peace enjoyed by those who have trusted Christ and who “let [their] requests be made known to God” (v.6).

Have you found this peace? No matter what you have gone through, God makes it available to you. — Dennis Fisher

There is peace in midst of turmoil,
There is joy when eyes are dim,
There is perfect understanding
When we leave it all to Him. —Brown

True peace is not the absence of war; it is the presence of God. —Loveless

What I Read Today - Monday December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day

NOTE:  In this article Friedman quotes from an interview that Walter Cronkite had with JFK on 9/2/1963.  You can read the transcript of the entire interview at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9388

From the NY Times
December 6, 2009


Op-Ed Columnist
May It All Come True
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Obama certainly showed leadership mettle in going against his own party’s base and ordering a troop surge into Afghanistan. He is going to have to be even more tough-minded, though, to make sure his policy is properly executed.

I’ve already explained why I oppose this escalation. But since the decision has been made — and I do not want my country to fail or the Obama presidency to sink in Afghanistan — here are some thoughts on how to reduce the chances that this ends badly. Let’s start by recalling an insight that President John F. Kennedy shared in a Sept. 2, 1963, interview with Walter Cronkite:

Cronkite: “Mr. President, the only hot war we’ve got running at the moment is, of course, the one in Vietnam, and we have our difficulties there.”

Kennedy: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the [Vietnamese] government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them; we can give them equipment; we can send our men out there as advisers. But they have to win it, the people of Vietnam, against the Communists. We are prepared to continue to assist them, but I don’t think that the war can be won unless the people support the effort and, in my opinion, in the last two months, the [Vietnamese] government has gotten out of touch with the people. ...”

Cronkite: “Do you think this government still has time to regain the support of the people?”

Kennedy: “I do. With changes in policy and perhaps with personnel I think it can. If it doesn’t make those changes, the chances of winning it would not be very good.”

What J.F.K. understood, what L.B.J. lost sight of, and what B.H.O. can’t afford to forget, is that in the end it’s not about how many troops we send or deadlines we set. It is all about our Afghan partners. Afghanistan has gone into a tailspin largely because President Hamid Karzai’s government became dysfunctional and massively corrupt — focused more on extracting revenues for private gain than on governing. That is why too many Afghans who cheered Karzai’s arrival in 2001 have now actually welcomed Taliban security and justice.

“In 2001, most Afghan people looked to the United States not only as a potential mentor but as a model for successful democracy,” Pashtoon Atif, a former aid worker from Kandahar, recently wrote in The Los Angeles Times. “What we got instead was a free-for-all in which our leaders profited outrageously and unapologetically from a wealth of foreign aid coupled with a dearth of regulations.”

Therefore, our primary goal has to be to build — with Karzai — an Afghan government that is “decent enough” to earn the loyalty of the Afghan people, so a critical mass of them will feel “ownership” of it and therefore be ready to fight to protect it. Because only then will there be a “self-sustaining” Afghan Army and state so we can begin to get out by the president’s July 2011 deadline — without leaving behind a bloodbath.

Focus on those key words: “decent enough,” “ownership” and “self-sustaining.” Without minimally decent government, Afghans will not take ownership. If they don’t take ownership, they won’t fight for it. And if they won’t fight for it on their own, whatever progress we make will not be self-sustaining. It will just collapse when we leave.

But here is what worries me: The president’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said flatly: “This can’t be nation-building.” And the president told a columnists’ lunch on Tuesday that he wants to avoid “mission creep” that takes on “nation-building in Afghanistan.”

I am sorry: This is only nation-building. You can’t train an Afghan Army and police force to replace our troops if you have no basic state they feel is worth fighting for. But that will require a transformation by Karzai, starting with the dismissal of his most corrupt aides and installing officials Afghans can trust.

This surge also depends, the president indicated, on Pakistan ending its obsession with India. That obsession has led Pakistan to support the Taliban to control Afghanistan as part of its “strategic depth” vis-à-vis India. Pakistan fights the Taliban who attack it, but nurtures the Taliban who want to control Afghanistan. So we now need this fragile Pakistan to stop looking for strategic depth against India in Afghanistan and to start building strategic depth at home, by reviving its economy and school system and preventing jihadists from taking over there.

That is why Mr. Obama is going to have to make sure, every day, that Karzai doesn’t weasel out of reform or Pakistan wiggle out of shutting down Taliban sanctuaries or the allies wimp out on helping us. To put it succinctly: This only has a chance to work if Karzai becomes a new man, if Pakistan becomes a new country and if we actually succeed at something the president says we won’t be doing at all: nation-building in Afghanistan. Yikes!

For America’s sake, may it all come true.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday December 4, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

What You Can Do


READ: Ephesians 3:14-21

[I pray that] He would grant you . . . to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man. —Ephesians 3:16Are you getting what you want out of life? Or do you feel that the economy, your government, your circumstances, or other outside factors are robbing you of value and joy?

Recently, a polling agency asked 1,000 people what they most desired in their lives. One fascinating result was that 90 percent of Bible-believing Christians said that they wanted these outcomes: a close relationship with God, a clear purpose in life, a high degree of integrity, and a deep commitment to the faith.

Notice that these heartfelt desires are all things we as individuals can do something about without outside human help. No government program will assist here, and tough economic times cannot steal these ideals. These life goals are achieved as we allow God’s Word to rule in our hearts and as we receive the Spirit’s strength to build up “the inner man” (Eph. 3:16), resulting in true joy.

In our complicated world, it’s tempting to put our quest for what we desire into the hands of others—to expect an outside entity to fulfill our desires. While we sometimes need help, and we cannot live in isolation, it’s not outside sources that provide true happiness. That comes from within—from letting Christ be at home in our hearts (v.17). — Dave Branon

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme and reign alone. —Reed

If a troubled world gets you down, look up to Jesus.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday December 3, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Finding Jesus


READ: Romans 8:27-39

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? —Romans 8:32After someone stole a valuable ceramic figurine of Baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Wellington, Florida, officials took action to keep thieves from succeeding again. An Associated Press report described how they placed a GPS tracking device inside the replacement figurine. When Baby Jesus disappeared again the next Christmas, sheriff’s deputies were led by the signal to the thief’s apartment.

There are times when difficult circumstances or personal loss can cause us to feel that Christ has been stolen from our Christmas. How can we find Jesus when life seems to be working against us?

Like a spiritual GPS, Romans 8 guides us to God’s never-failing love and presence with us. We read that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and intercedes for us (v.27). We know that God is for us (v.31). And we have this grand assurance: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (v.32). Finally, we are reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus (vv.38-39).

Look for Jesus in the manger, on the cross, risen from the dead, and in our hearts. That’s where we can find Jesus at Christmas. — David C. McCasland

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show,
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know. —Bernard of Clairvaux

If we focus only on Christmas, we might lose sight of Christ.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday December 2, 2009

From: The New York Times

Op-Ed ColumnistThis I Believe

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Let me start with the bottom line and then tell you how I got there: I can’t agree with President Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan. I’d prefer a minimalist approach, working with tribal leaders the way we did to overthrow the Taliban regime in the first place. Given our need for nation-building at home right now, I am ready to live with a little less security and a little-less-perfect Afghanistan.

I recognize that there are legitimate arguments on the other side. At a lunch on Tuesday for opinion writers, the president lucidly argued that opting for a surge now to help Afghans rebuild their army and state into something decent — to win the allegiance of the Afghan people — offered the only hope of creating an “inflection point,” a game changer, to bring long-term stability to that region. May it be so. What makes me wary about this plan is how many moving parts there are — Afghans, Pakistanis and NATO allies all have to behave forever differently for this to work.

But here is the broader context in which I assess all this: My own foreign policy thinking since 9/11 has been based on four pillars:

1. The Warren Buffett principle: Everything I’ve ever gotten in life is largely due to the fact that I was born in this country, America, at this time with these opportunities for its citizens. It is the primary obligation of our generation to turn over a similar America to our kids.

2. Many big bad things happen in the world without America, but not a lot of big good things. If we become weak and enfeebled by economic decline and debt, as we slowly are, America may not be able to play its historic stabilizing role in the world. If you didn’t like a world of too-strong-America, you will really not like a world of too-weak-America — where China, Russia and Iran set more of the rules.

3. The context within which people live their lives shapes everything — from their political outlook to their religious one. The reason there are so many frustrated and angry people in the Arab-Muslim world, lashing out first at their own governments and secondarily at us — and volunteering for “martyrdom” — is because of the context within which they live their lives. That was best summarized by the U.N.’s Arab Human Development reports as a context dominated by three deficits: a deficit of freedom, a deficit of education and a deficit of women’s empowerment. The reason India, with the world’s second-largest population of Muslims, has a thriving Muslim minority (albeit with grievances but with no prisoners in Guantánamo Bay) is because of the context of pluralism and democracy it has built at home.

4. One of the main reasons the Arab-Muslim world has been so resistant to internally driven political reform is because vast oil reserves allow its regimes to become permanently ensconced in power, by just capturing the oil tap, and then using the money to fund vast security and intelligence networks that quash any popular movement. Look at Iran.

Hence, post-9/11 I advocated that our politicians find sufficient courage to hike gasoline taxes and seriously commit ourselves to developing alternatives to oil. Economists agree that this would ultimately bring down the global price, and slowly deprive these regimes of the sole funding source that allows them to maintain their authoritarian societies. People do not change when we tell them they should; they change when their context tells them they must.

To me, the most important reason for the Iraq war was never W.M.D. It was to see if we could partner with Iraqis to help them build something that does not exist in the modern Arab world: a state, a context, where the constituent communities — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — write their own social contract for how to live together without an iron fist from above. Iraq has proved staggeringly expensive and hugely painful. The mistakes we made should humble anyone about nation-building in Afghanistan. It does me.

Still, the Iraq war may give birth to something important — if Iraqis can find that self-sustaining formula to live together. Alas, that is still in doubt. If they can, the model would have a huge impact on the Arab world. Baghdad is a great Arab capital. If Iraqis fail, it’s religious strife, economic decline and authoritarianism as far as the eye can see — the witch’s brew that spawns terrorists.

Iraq was about “the war on terrorism.” The Afghanistan invasion, for me, was about the “war on terrorists.” To me, it was about getting bin Laden and depriving Al Qaeda of a sanctuary — period. I never thought we could make Afghanistan into Norway — and even if we did, it would not resonate beyond its borders the way Iraq might.

To now make Afghanistan part of the “war on terrorism” — i.e., another nation-building project — is not crazy. It is just too expensive, when balanced against our needs for nation-building in America, so that we will have the strength to play our broader global role. Hence, my desire to keep our presence in Afghanistan limited. That is what I believe. That is why I believe it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

more of What I Read Today - Tuesday December 1, 2009

From:  http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/  (The Tax Policy Center)
and then to their taxvox blog
http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org/blog/_trackback/4394671

Happy Act: The Poster Puppy for What's Wrong with the Tax Code


by Howard Gleckman on Tue 01 Dec 2009 04:12 PM EST

Nothing I have written in more than two years at TaxVox has attracted more attention than my August, 2009 piece on the Happy Act. This bill, sponsored by Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), would allow people to deduct up to $3,500 from their taxes to subsidize the cost of, no kidding, pet care.

The issue has since gone viral. TaxVox has received dozens of comments—most of which strongly support the bill but a few that see it as just about the dumbest idea in the world. Over the weekend, the Sunday supplement Parade magazine published a piece. USA Today has written about it and the ASPCA recently asked its members to write their representatives in support of the bill.

I am the owner of, you’ll pardon the expression, a very happy dog we rescued about four years ago. She brings us great joy. There is absolutely no way the government should be subsidizing this joy.

The Happy Act is, in fact, the poster puppy for all that is wrong with the tax code. It is the most ridiculous use of tax dollars to promote social policy I can imagine. It will add billions of dollars to an already out-of-control budget deficit. Other than that, it is a terrific idea.

To understand why the Happy Act is so wrong-headed, consider the following:

First, Americans will spend more than $45 billion this year on their dogs, cats, and iguanas, according to the pet products industry. Remarkably, only about 5 percent will be to buy the animals. And only about one-quarter will be spent on vet services. The rest goes to food, clothes, toys and other supplies, and grooming and boarding.

Second, the revenue loss to the Treasury of targeted tax subsidies like the Happy Act—what are usually called tax expenditures—will soon exceed $1 trillion-a-year, according to TPC. These are no different from government spending, except that many Americans somehow feel better thinking of them as tax cuts. And most are well-intentioned efforts to improve access to health care, savings, housing, and the like. The trouble is, they are almost always a very inefficient use of dollars and often lead to nasty unintended consequences.

Third, the budget deficit this year is expected to exceed $1.5 trillion. The Happy Act would give away more money we don’t have.

And there is something else to keep in mind. With tax subsidies will inevitably come regulation. Just imagine:
What is a qualified pet? Should allegedly dangerous dogs such as pit bulls be eligible. How about animals some consider endangered?

What owners should get the deduction? The tax break won’t help those who take only the standard deduction, and even among itemizers, high-income families would get a much bigger tax break than those with lower incomes. And it won't do a thing for most people who are at risk of giving up pets because they lose their jobs. If you make no money, you pay no tax, and deductions do you no good.

And how about those who rescue dogs? Shouldn’t they get a bigger subsidy than those who spend thousands of dollars on some purebread? And what about people who abuse their pets? Tax subsidies will only help them acquire more. Do we want the IRS checking on how we treat Fido?

The Happy Act may be the best reason I know to toss out these targeted tax breaks with the kitty litter and use the money to reduce tax rates and cut the deficit. Lower rates allow taxpayers to decide what they want to do with their money, without government interference. We—and our pets—would all be better off that way.

What I Read Today - Tuesday December 1, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

The Best Of Gifts


READ: John 1:10-13

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! —2 Corinthians 9:15Having trouble selecting that perfect gift for someone? A friend shared with me a few suggestions:
• The gift of listening. No interrupting, no planning your response. Just listening.
• The gift of affection. Being generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.
• The gift of laughter. Sharing funny stories and jokes. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”
• The gift of a written note. Expressing in a brief, handwritten note your appreciation or affection.
• The gift of a compliment. Sincerely saying, “You look great today” or “You are special” can bring a smile.

But as we begin this special month of celebration, why not pass on the best gift you’ve ever received? Share the fact that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:23). Or share this verse from John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Remind others that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The best gift of all is Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). — Cindy Hess Kasper

The greatest Gift that has ever been given
Is Jesus Christ who was sent down from heaven.
This Gift can be yours if you will believe;
Trust Him as Savior, and new life receive. —Hess

The best gift was found in a manger.

Monday, November 30, 2009

more of What I Read Today - Monday November 30, 2009

From:  The New York Times

America vs. The Narrative

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


What should we make of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?

Here’s my take: Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced — I assume anyone who shoots up innocent people is. But the more you read about his support for Muslim suicide bombers, about how he showed up at a public-health seminar with a PowerPoint presentation titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam,” and about his contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric famous for using the Web to support jihadist violence against America — the more it seems that Major Hasan was just another angry jihadist spurred to action by “The Narrative.”

What is scary is that even though he was born, raised and educated in America, The Narrative still got to him.

The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.

Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.

The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.

It’s working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”

This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.

“Liberal Arabs like me are as angry as a terrorist and as determined to change the status quo,” said my Jordanian friend. The only difference “is that while we choose education, knowledge and success to bring about change, a terrorist, having bought into the narrative, has a sense of powerlessness and helplessness, which are inculcated in us from childhood, that lead him to believe that there is only one way, and that is violence.”

What to do? Many Arab Muslims know that what ails their societies is more than the West, and that The Narrative is just an escape from looking honestly at themselves. But none of their leaders dare or care to open that discussion. In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:

“Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”

What I Read Today - Monday November 30, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Nowhere Tickets


READ: John 14:1-6

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. —Acts 4:12We kept getting tickets to nowhere. We had finished a missions trip to Jamaica and were trying to get home. However, our airline was having problems, and no matter what our tickets said, we couldn’t leave Montego Bay. Over and over we heard, “Your flight has been canceled.” Even though we had purchased our tickets in good faith, the airline could not back up its promise to transport us to the US. We had to stay an extra day before boarding a plane that could take us home.

Imagine thinking that you are headed for heaven, but discovering that your ticket is no good. It can happen. If you trust the wrong plan, you will get to the gate of eternity but be denied entrance into heaven to live with God forever.

The apostle Peter said there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The only ticket to heaven goes to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for their sin.

Some offer other ways. But those tickets are worthless. To make sure you’re going to heaven, trust Jesus. He’s the only way. — Dave Branon

Lord, I know I’m a sinner and cannot save myself. I need You as my Savior. Thank You for dying in my place and rising again. I believe in You. Please forgive my sin. I want to live with You in heaven someday.

Jesus took my place on the cross and gave me a place in heaven.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I Read Today - Monday November 23, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Preventing Regret


READ: 2 Samuel 18:31–19:4

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. —2 Samuel 18:33In the 1980s, the British band Mike and the Mechanics recorded a powerful song titled, “The Living Years.” The songwriter mourns his father’s death, because their relationship had been strained and marked by silence rather than sharing. The singer remorsefully says, “I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.” Struggling with regret over words unsaid and love unexpressed, he laments, “I just wish I could have told him in the living years.”

King David similarly regretted his broken relationship with his son Absalom. Angered over David’s refusal to punish Amnon for raping his sister Tamar, Absalom killed Amnon and fled (2 Sam. 13:21-34). David’s servant Joab knew that he longed to go to his fugitive son, so he arranged for Absalom to be brought to him. But their relationship was never the same again. Absalom’s bitterness sparked a conflict that ended with his death (18:14). It was a bitter victory for King David, causing him to lament his lost son and their failed relationship (18:33). No amount of grieving, however, could undo David’s heartache.

We can learn from David’s regret when dealing with broken relationships. The pain of trying to make things right can be hard. But it’s much better to do what we can to make things right “in the living years.” — Bill Crowder

For Further Study
Do you have a strained relationship with someone?
For help, read on the Internet What Do You Do With A Broken Relationship? at www.discoveryseries.org/q0703

A broken relationship can be repaired— but only if you’re willing to try.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What I Read Today. Sunday November 22, 2009

From: The New York times

Op-Ed Columnist

Advice From Grandma

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Obama’s visit to China this week inevitably invites comparisons between the world’s two leading powers. You know what they say: Britain owned the 19th century, America owned the 20th century, and, it’s all but certain that China will own the 21st century. Maybe, but I’m not ready to cede the 21st century to China just yet.

Why not? It has to do with the fact that we are moving into a hyperintegrated world in which all aspects of production — raw materials, design, manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment, financing and branding — have become commodities that can be accessed from anywhere by anyone. But there are still two really important things that can’t be commoditized. Fortunately, America still has one of them: imagination.

What your citizens imagine now matters more than ever because they can act on their own imaginations farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before — as individuals. In such a world, societies that can nurture people with the ability to imagine and spin off new ideas will thrive. The Apple iPod may be made in China, but it was dreamed up in America, and that’s where most of the profits go. America — with its open, free, no-limits, immigrant-friendly society — is still the world’s greatest dream machine.

Who would cede a century in which imagination will have such a high value to an authoritarian society that controls its Internet and jails political prisoners? Remember what Grandma used to say: Never cede a century to a country that censors Google.

But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment.

Why? Because at least six things have come together to fracture our public space and paralyze our ability to forge optimal solutions:
1) Money in politics has become so pervasive that lawmakers have to spend most of their time raising it, selling their souls to those who have it or defending themselves from the smallest interest groups with deep pockets that can trump the national interest.

2) The gerrymandering of political districts means politicians of each party can now choose their own voters and never have to appeal to the center.

3) The cable TV culture encourages shouting and segregating people into their own political echo chambers.

4) A permanent presidential campaign leaves little time for governing.

5) The Internet, which, at its best, provides a check on elites and establishments and opens the way for new voices and, which, at its worst provides a home for every extreme view and spawns digital lynch mobs from across the political spectrum that attack anyone who departs from their specific orthodoxy.

6) A U.S. business community that has become so globalized that it only comes to Washington to lobby for its own narrow interests; it rarely speaks out anymore in defense of national issues like health care, education and open markets.

These six factors are pushing our system, which was designed to have divided powers and to force compromises, into the realm of paralysis. To get anything big done now, we have to generate so many compromises — couched in 1,000-plus-page bills — with so many different interest groups that the solutions are totally suboptimal. We just get the sum of all interest groups.

The miniversion of this is California, which, as others have noted, is becoming America’s biggest “failed state.” Californians had hoped they could overcome their dysfunctional system by electing an outsider, a former movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He would slay the system, like the Terminator. But he couldn’t.

Mr. Obama was elected for similar reasons. People had hoped that his unique story, personality and speaking skills could bring the country together, overcome paralysis and deliver nation-building at home. A lot of the disappointment settling in among Obama voters today is prompted by their dawning realization that maybe, like Arnold, he can’t.

China’s leaders, using authoritarian means, still can. They don’t have to always settle for suboptimal. So what do we do?

The standard answer is that we need better leaders. The real answer is that we need better citizens. We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things. Otherwise, folks, we’re in trouble. A great power that can only produce suboptimal responses to its biggest challenges will, in time, fade from being a great power — no matter how much imagination it generates.

Grandma said that, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 19, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Precious Fruit


READ: Galatians 5:22-26

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23How much would you be willing to pay for a piece of fruit? In Japan, someone paid more than $6,000 for one Densuke watermelon. Grown only on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, this beautiful dark-green sphere looks like a bowling ball. The nearly 18-pound watermelon was one of only a few thousand available that year. The fruit’s rarity brought an astronomical price on the market.

Christians have fruit that is far more precious than the Densuke watermelon. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Each “fruit” is a different aspect of Christlikeness. In the Gospels, we see how Christ exemplified these virtues. Now He wants to produce them in our hearts—in what we say, how we think, and how we respond to life (John 15:1-4).

A rare and delicious fruit may bring a premium price in the marketplace, but Christlike character is of far greater worth. As we confess all known sin and yield to God’s indwelling Spirit, our lives will be transformed to the likeness of Christ (1 John 1:9; Eph. 5:18). This spiritual fruit will fill our lives with joy, bless those around us, and last into eternity. — Dennis Fisher

Think not alone of outward form;
Its beauty will depart;
But cultivate the Spirit’s fruits
That grow within the heart. —D. De Haan

Fruitfulness for Christ depends on fellowship with Christ.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 18, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

God Works In Mud


READ: Genesis 2:1-7

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. —Genesis 2:7In a 1950s novel, there is a scene in which four village men confess their sins to one another. One of the men, Michelis, cries out, “How can God let us live on the earth? Why doesn’t He kill us to purify creation?” “Because, Michelis,” one of the men answered, “God is a potter; He works in mud.”

This is literally what the Lord did in Genesis. The sovereign Creator formed and shaped humanity by unique design. This process involved fashioning a man from the dust of the ground. The word formed in Genesis 2:7 describes the work of an artist. Like a potter, molding and fashioning mud into a pot or some other earthen vessel, so the Lord God formed humanity from clay.

God’s work with dust and mud continued by breathing into man the breath of life, changing his form into a living soul. This made man a spiritual being, with a capacity to serve and fellowship with the Lord.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God continued working in and with mud, sending His Son Jesus to die for humanity and then regenerating those who receive Him so that we can enjoy fellowship with Him. In gratitude, let’s use our hands to do good works for His glory. — Marvin Williams

In His own image God created man,
He formed his body from the dust of earth;
But more than that, to all who are in Christ
He gives eternal life by second birth. —Hess

God is the only One who can make the dirty clean.

Channel 10 Story about tax schedule short comings - Tuesday November 17, 2009

Obama+Administration+Tax+Credit+Could+Cost+You+Come+Tax+Season

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 17, 2009

From: The Wall Street Journal

What's So Great About Punting?


Belichick's Decision Draws Fire, But Number Crunchers Are in His Corner; the Blackjack Table.ArticleComments (18)more in Sports Main ».

By DARREN EVERSON and REED ALBERGOTTI

In the past 24 hours, Bill Belichick has been ripped and ridiculed, caricatured, called a fool and even accused of falling asleep on the job. "I seriously think he might be losing interest," wrote one fan.
Getty Images New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick moments before deciding not to punt in Sunday night's loss.
But before we run the head coach of the New England Patriots out of town for the tough decision he made in Sunday night's 35-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, let's look at the nature of his crime.
Faced with a fourth down in his own territory late in the game with a vulnerable lead, Mr. Belichick decided to let his offense try to win the game with one play. If the Patriots had gained two yards, they would have had a first down and likely been able to run out the clock. The other option, of course, was to punt and, by doing so, leave the outcome of the game in the hands of quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Put simply, Mr. Belichick is taking flak because he decided, in the middle of a close, hard-fought and emotionally charged game against a major rival, to throw caution to the wind. In other words, he's being pilloried for not being a wimp.
Somehow in American football, the punt—a clear and unambiguous symbol of surrender and retreat—has become the hallmark of sensible coaching.
After the game, many football traditionalists—even some of Mr. Belichick's former players—rushed to denounce the move. Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi wrote a column about how the decision showed a lack of confidence in the team's defense, and former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said afterward that it was the worst coaching decision he'd ever seen Mr. Belichick make.
"I thought it was our best chance to win," Mr. Belichick said at a news conference on Monday.
At the same time, however, football statisticians and the coaches who lurk on the game's cerebral fringe thought Mr. Belichick's decision was heroic.
"I would've thought about [going for] it too," says Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, a law-school graduate who is renowned for his counterintuitive approach to football. "Who cares what people think?"
"Of course I thought it was the right decision," says Kevin Kelley, a high-school football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., who has become famous for his strategy of virtually never punting. "If anybody was going to do it, it had to be Belichick. What went through my head was, 'I hope he makes it, because if he doesn't, all the naysayers will say they were right.' But they're still wrong."
The truth depends, of course, on how you slice the numbers. Brian Burke, a statistician who has studied the results of fourth-down situations in the NFL, says a team in the Patriots' situation had a 79% chance of winning by going for it (either by converting the fourth-and-two or stopping the opponent thereafter). That compares favorably to a 70% probability of preventing a foe from driving down the field for a touchdown following a punt.
The human factors can cut both ways. Given that New England's worn-out defense had just allowed a 79-yard touchdown drive to the Colts in under two minutes, Mr. Belichick's gamble made some intuitive sense, too. But at the same time, a punt would have forced Mr. Manning—who'd thrown two interceptions already—to direct his team down the length of the field with two minutes left.
Above all, though, the essence of Mr. Belichick's "crime" may be something simpler than all this: His decision went against the natural instincts of all human beings when they're forced to make high-stakes decisions. In a recent study, researchers from Duke and UCLA found that when faced with a decision involving risk, people have an overwhelming tendency to make the supposedly safe choice—to err on the side of caution—even though doing so may lead to worse results.
By studying thousands of hands of blackjack played by random people, the researchers found that when they strayed from the "book" or the optimal strategy, those players who did something aggressive were more successful than those who did something passive.
In fact, the subjects made four times as many passive mistakes as they did aggressive ones. And these passive mistakes—holding on a 16 when the dealer has a king showing, for example—were more costly: They cost $2 for every $1 won, versus $1.50 for every $1 won on aggressive mistakes.
Why do people embrace caution? "It's because of the regret that people face when they take an action and it doesn't turn out well for them," says Bruce Carlin of UCLA's Anderson School of Management, who worked on the study.
At issue, it seems, is the very idea of what constitutes gambling. If going for it gave the Patriots a statistically better chance of winning—and if aggressive deviations are often better than passive ones—then the gamble would have been to punt, even though that was the seemingly safe play.
"I thought it was nice to see somebody go for it rather than going for it only when it's a no-brainer," says David Romer, a Cal-Berkeley professor of economics who has studied fourth downs in the NFL. "I'm disappointed it didn't work out."
"I'd like to think I would have had the courage to do what Bill did," says NFL Network analyst and former coach Mike Martz.

—Carl Bialik, David Biderman and Phil Izzo contributed to this article

Write to Darren Everson at darren.everson@wsj.com and Reed Albergotti at reed.albergotti@wsj.com

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 17, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Two Mites


READ: Mark 12:41-44

She out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. —Mark 12:44Jesus sat in the temple near the treasury and watched as people walked by and deposited their gifts for the temple (Mark 12). Some made a show of it, perhaps so others could see how much they had given. Just then a poor woman came by and threw in two “mites.”

A mite was the least valuable coin in circulation. Thus the widow’s gift was very small, amounting to nothing in most folk’s eyes. But our Lord saw what others did not see. She had given “all that she had” (Mark 12:44). The widow wasn’t trying to draw attention to herself. She was simply doing what she was able to do. And Jesus noticed!

We mustn’t forget that our Lord sees all that we do, though it may seem very small. It may be nothing more than showing a cheerful countenance in difficult times or an unnoticed act of love and kindness to someone who happens to pass by. It may be a brief, silent prayer for a neighbor in need.

Jesus said, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. . . . But when you do a charitable deed, . . . may [it] be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matt. 6:1-4). — David H. Roper

May our gifts be sacrificial,
From our hearts, and full of love;
Secretive and never showy,
Pleasing our great God above. —Sper

God looks at the heart, not the hand; the giver, not the gift.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday November 13, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

No Deal!


READ: Luke 4:1-13

It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” —Luke 4:4We’ve all seen and heard advertisements that entice us to take shortcuts to happiness. Buy our product and make no payments for one year! Instant gratification!

When the devil tempted Jesus (Luke 4:1-13), he offered a shortcut to “satisfaction.” He tried to tempt Jesus to take matters into His own hands rather than trust His Father.

When Jesus was hungry from 40 days of fasting (v.2), Satan suggested that He use His power to turn stones into bread. Had the Lord done so, He would have been using His powers for His own benefit, but He refused.

Why didn’t Jesus accept the devil’s offer of ruling all the kingdoms of the world right away? (vv.5-7). He could have avoided the cross. But that would have gone against God’s plan for Him—to give His life on the cross, to be resurrected, and to sit at the Father’s right hand in His kingdom. Satan’s offer of a shortcut was no deal at all.

Beware of enticements that seem to cost little for the present. Satan hopes to get you to do things his way. And he doesn’t give up easily. Even after Jesus overcame a third temptation, Satan left only “until an opportune time” (v.13).

Whenever you are offered a shortcut to happiness, watch out to see who’s behind the cashier’s counter! — C. P. Hia

Lord, help me see the devil’s offers for what they are—enticements to sin. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You and Your Word, and my ears attentive to You in prayer. Amen.

The best way to escape temptation is to run to God.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 12, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Fragile Existence


READ: Job 1:8-22

We should not trust in ourselves but in God. —2 Corinthians 1:9The geological features at Yellowstone National Park fascinate me. But when I walk among the geysers, I’m aware of how close I am to danger. I am walking atop one of the largest, most active volcanoes in the world.

When I read the book of Job, I feel as if I’m walking through Yellowstone on a day when the volcano erupts, exploding the earth’s fragile crust and bringing disaster.

Like tourists at Yellowstone, Job was enjoying life. He was unaware that only a hedge separated him from disaster (Job 1:9-10). When God removed that hedge and allowed Satan to test Job, his life exploded (vv.13-19).

Many believers live in circumstances where it seems as if God, for some reason, has removed His hedge of protection. Others, also for reasons unknown, live in relative calm, seemingly unaware of their fragile existence. Like Job’s friends, they assume that nothing bad will happen unless they do something to deserve it.

As we learn from Job, however, God sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people. Although disaster can strike at any moment, nothing has the power to destroy those who trust Christ (2 Cor. 4:9). No disaster can separate us from God’s love. — Julie Ackerman Link

Though darker, rougher, grows the way
And cares press harder day by day,
With patience in His love I’ll rest,
And whisper that He knoweth best. —Pentecost

God’s love still stands when all else has fallen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 11, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Humble Valor


READ: Philippians 2:19-30

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem. —Philippians 2:29A report by the Chicago Tribune said: “Scores of Americans, from clergymen to lawyers to CEOs, are claiming medals of valor they never earned.” Fabrication of war records and bogus claims of bravery are more widespread than imagined. One man, who falsely claimed a Navy Cross, later felt shame and said that real heroes rarely talk about what they’ve done.

Heroism is marked by an unselfish risking of life for the benefit of another. In Philippians, Paul commends two of his colleagues as true heroes of the faith. Timothy’s unselfishness and proven character gained Paul’s praise as a true son who had served with him in the gospel (2:22). And Paul described Epaphroditus as “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier” (v.25) who risked his life for the work of Christ (v.30).

Paul told the believers in Philippi to “hold such men in esteem” (v.29). Honoring fellow believers for their unselfish service to God is a biblical mandate. It is not hero worship, but an attitude of respect for a life well lived.

Through a word of encouragement or a tangible expression of appreciation, who can you honor today for their humble valor in serving the Lord and helping others in His name? — David C. McCasland

Heaven’s heroes never carve their name
On marbled columns built for earthly fame;
They build instead a legacy that springs
From faithful service to the King of kings. —Gustafson

Faith in Christ can make extraordinary heroes out of ordinary people.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 10, 2009

God’s Embrace

READ: Romans 12:3-11

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. —Romans 12:10Soon after her family left for the evening, Carol started to think that her hospital room must be the loneliest place in the world. Nighttime had fallen, her fears about her illness were back, and she felt overwhelming despair as she lay there alone.

Closing her eyes, she began to talk to God: “O Lord, I know I am not really alone. You are here with me. Please calm my heart and give me peace. Let me feel Your arms around me, holding me.”

As she prayed, Carol felt her fears beginning to subside. And when she opened her eyes, she looked up to see the warm, sparkling eyes of her friend Marge, who reached out to encircle her in a big hug. Carol felt as if God Himself were holding her tightly.

God often uses fellow believers to show us His love. “We, being many, are one body in Christ. . . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:5-6). We serve others “with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

When we show love and compassion in simple, practical ways, we are a part of God’s ministry to His people. — Cindy Hess Kasper

Teach me to love, this is my prayer—
May the compassion of Thy heart I share;
Ready a cup of water to give,
May I unselfishly for others live. —Peterson

We show our love for God when we love His family.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday November 6, 2009 - From MSNBC

As reported on the NBC Nightly News on Thursday Nite - November 5, 2009. The reporter, Jade Mingus, is from Rogersville, MO. Her dad worked at Smitty's and Sara played ball with and against her in high school.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 5, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

A Good Grooming


READ: Psalm 139:1-10, 23-24

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes. —Psalm 26:2-3Our dog, Dolly, is a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier. She loves to dig in the dirt, which means she gets very dirty. We bathe her every week or so at home, but occasionally she gets so grimy and tangled that we have to take her to a professional groomer.

She used to hate to go to the groomer because the woman was always in a rush and inclined to be bad-tempered and harsh. Getting Dolly through the door was a struggle. Just the sight of the shop made her want to run away.

Last year we decided to try another groomer and discovered that our dog, though not always overjoyed at the prospect, was less reluctant to go. That’s because the groomer is kind to her even though she must wash Dolly thoroughly, causing discomfort.

When sin and defilement accumulate in our hearts, we need to be cleansed. Like the psalmist David, we must ask God to “examine” and “try” our minds and hearts, and to point out our wicked thoughts, attitudes, and ways (Ps. 139:23-24). Our Lord may cause discomfort, for exposure is often difficult, but we can approach Him without fear.

The Lord’s examination of us, though sometimes painful, is gentle and kind. — David H. Roper

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free. —Orr

Repentance is the hurt that leads to healing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 4, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Seeds And Faith

READ: Galatians 6:7-10

Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. —Galatians 6:7I read a fable about a man who was browsing in a store when he made the shocking discovery that God was behind a sales counter. So the man walked over and asked, “What are You selling?” God replied, “What does your heart desire?” The man said, “I want happiness, peace of mind, and freedom from fear . . . for me and the whole world.” God smiled and said, “I don’t sell fruit here. Only seeds.”

In Galatians 6, Paul stressed the importance of sowing seeds of God-honoring behavior, for “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (v.7). We can’t expect to experience the fruit of God’s blessings if we don’t recognize the importance of doing our part.

It helps to follow the example of others who have sown good seed. Author Samuel Shoemaker said that a good example can either inspire us or cause us to say, “Oh yes, he (or she) is like that. He is not troubled by temper or nerves or impatience or worry as I am; he is just a happier temperament.” Shoemaker continued, “It may not occur to us that perhaps he had to fight for his serenity, and that we might win if we would do the same.”

Are you weary of the way you are? Ask God for His help and begin sowing seeds of new actions and responses today. In due season the Spirit will give the increase. — Joanie Yoder

We’re always sowing seeds in life
By everything we do and say,
So let’s make sure the fruit we reap
Comes from the good we do each day. —Hess

The seeds we sow today determine the kind of fruit we’ll reap tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From: TGIF (Today God Is First) Daily Workplace Inspiration

God Is Not About YOUR Success
By Os Hillman

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-26).

God is all about your death so that HIS success can be realized through you! This is why the Church is having such little impact - there are too many believers who have not yet died to their old nature so that Christ can live fully through them. When believers come to the end of themselves they will lose their lives to Him and live through the power of the Holy Spirit and begin to see the reality of a living gospel that impacts lives, workplaces, cities and nations.

"Much of modern Christian enterprise is 'Ishmael.' Born not of God, but of an inordinate desire to do God's will in our own way - the one thing our Lord never did," said Oswald Chambers. The psalmist describes what it means to live in our own strength:

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves" (Ps 127:1-2).

How does one die so that Christ can be our all and all? It usually takes a crisis of significant proportions for most people to relinquish the control of their lives. It means we come to the end of ourselves and our striving to control the events in our lives and we finally come to the place where we can say, "Lord, I surrender. Please take full control of my life."

Have you come to this place with God in your life? Let go and let God make you a success His way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More of What I Read Today - Monday November 2, 2009

From a client - John Fickett

Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better computer programmer. This goes on for a few hours until they come to an agreement to hold a contest, with God as the judge.

They set themselves before their computers and begin. They are given the task, and began to type furiously, lines of code streaming up the screen for several hours straight. Seconds before the end of the competition, a bolt of lightning strikes, taking out the electricity. Moments later, the power is restored, and God annouces that the contest is over.

He asks Satan to show what he has come up with. Satan indignatly protests, "I have nothing! I lost it all when the power went out." "Very well, the," says God, "let us see if Jesus fared any better." Jesus enters a command and the screen comes to life with a vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers. Satan is astonished.

He stutters, "B-b-but how? I lost everything, yet Jesus' program is intact! How did He do it?"

God chuckles, "Satan, when are you going to learn.....Jesus saves!"

What I Read Today - Our Daily Bread - Monday - November 2, 2009

Prisoners Of Sin

READ: Galatians 3:19-29

The Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. —Galatians 3:22A 2008 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said, “At any given time there are more than 10 million people imprisoned worldwide.” Since some prisoners are being released while new ones are being sentenced every day, there are more than 30 million total prisoners worldwide each year. Statistics like these have caused many people to work for prison reform and a reexamination of sentencing laws.

From a spiritual perspective, the Bible offers an even more staggering statistic: “The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Gal. 3:22 niv). In what is sometimes considered a difficult passage to understand, Paul says that although the Old Testament law could not impart life (v.21), it was an effective teacher in showing us that we need a Savior who can give life (v.24). The bad news is that “the Scripture has confined all under sin,” and the good news is “that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (v.22).

When we give our lives to Christ, who has fulfilled the requirements of the law, we are no longer imprisoned by sin. Instead, we enter a fellowship of people from every nationality and social status.

In Christ, we are free indeed! — David C. McCasland

The law reveals the mind of God,
The prophets too made clear His will;
But Christ alone brings life and peace,
His words our deepest needs fulfill. —D. De Haan

Deliverance from sin is the greatest of all freedoms.