Sunday, February 14, 2021

One Ingredient to a Better World

 The world needs Jesus, that's obvious. That is not what I am focusing on today. Yes, the world would be better if everyone put their hope, faith, and trust in Christ. That being said, even those who profess Christ can live a life we never imagined. Look at the example of Ravi Zacharius. I loved the teachings of RZIM. I have several of his books, one CD set of his teachings, I have listened to him on the radio and I've seen him in person. He had a global ministry, but the news was realized that he was involved in several sexual abuse cases, and was involved in several women outside of his marriage. Many of them he extorted and coerced. No one imagined that Ravi was guilty of these things, and from appearance, he didn't seem to have a problem with them.

Now, the easy solution is the quick answer. Stop doing bad things. Stop sinning, stop failing, stop being a sinner. That is the problem with quick and easy solutions, we can't. News flash, you are going to screw up and fail and do bad things. We can set a goal to be perfect, but it's an unrealistic goal. There is a realistic goal, and that is my one ingredient. The one thing that will solve so many issues and make things work the way they should.

Try to be better next time.

Seems simple, but let us unpack it, shall we. First, we excuse our bad behavior. In our society, we have just decided that our desires should always be followed. If we want it, we take it. If we want to do it, we do it. We have stopped thinking about cost and long term consequences. We make decisions that cause short term pleasure, long term pain. We drink too young, too much, and too often. We smoke early and often and a variety of things. We have sex before the relationship, the relationship before the maturity, and then the kids come before the wedding (which may never come). Our desires go first, our thought process comes later, if it comes at all. Kids grow up with parents who either have no clue or just don't care. The adults are so focused on getting all they want the kids have no chance. The kids become lazy, pleasure-seeking hedonists without a long term thought or goal. 

We need to get our priorities straight. Get right with yourself, then get into a relationship, then get married, then have kids. That makes it better for everyone. I realize that you might have or will make a mistake. That is where the key comes in. If you make a mistake, learn from it and do better next time. We live in a society that is focused on making the same mistakes over and over. People aren't happy, they walk around depressed and miserable, making things worse for themselves by making the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome. If you want to find the right person, why do you keep dating the wrong kind of person? Why are you dating at all if you can't get right with yourself? Get things straight with you, get your life in order, then worry about a relationship. People don't because we want the good things without the work.

Life is work, so work at it. Do better next time. You are gonna screw up, you will fail. Don't beat yourself up or punish yourself, don't get stuck, and don't make an excuse to keep failing. Figure out what went wrong and fix it. Do better next time.

Now, let me speak to all the religious elite out there. I realize that if you consider yourself a religious elite, you are more than likely not reading my blog. If you do stumble upon it, it's time for you to show a little grace to those who are seeking to try better next time. Let's stop rubbing people's noses in things if they have confessed, repented, and moved on. Many people get stuck because they get stuck with a label. You tell someone they are a loser consistently enough, they will become a loser. If Jesus said "then I don't condemn you either, go and sin no more", why are we in the business of condemnation? We need to help those who need help, support those who need support, and encourage those who need encouragement. Speak the truth, but in a way that brings hope and healing. No one is so lost that they are beyond hope. If there was hope for a thief on the cross next to Jesus, anyone has hope.

There you go, my one thing to make your life and the world at large better. Just try better next time. Try to do the right thing. If you messed up in the past, set a goal not to mess up in the future. Get right, get forgiven, get going. You don't need to redeem yourself, if you are in Christ, you are already redeemed. Just set a goal to do it right next time. It will make a difference, I promise.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Best Laid Plans

 I had a grand scheme. I've had several actually. First, I was going to write more blogs. My goal was to write 2 or 3 every week. That one hasn't panned out. Second, I was going to finish my book "Postologyism" and get it on Amazon. I still haven't looked at it. I was going to start a podcast and discuss theology. I haven't even scripted anything out. I was going to write and plan and create and build. I haven't.

My ambition is seldom matched by action. Do you ever have that problem, or is it just me? I have so many projects that need work. My poor Mustang has been neglected, I have a ton of projects around the house, and RI Ministries hasn't had any work done in a while. My goals and dreams just seem to continue to be on hold. I have plans and ideas, but it never seems like I have the energy and motivation.

Do you struggle with that? Do you ever feel like you should be more, but end up missing the mark? The tasks just pile up, and you can't seem to bring yourself to get any of them accomplished? I wonder if Thomas Edison or Leonardo De Vinci ever had these struggles. I will keep working on the most difficult project of them all, being a better person. I hope you will keep working on yourself too, and maybe we can compare notes!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My 2021 Theme- Use Your Head

Well, 2020 is behind us, but 2021 has not started out great. Most of the issues today are ideological, and most of the ideological differences have found a home in politics. Intellectual honesty is dead. If your political side does something, it's justified. If the opposition does exactly the same thing, it's horrible and they are evil. It has become more than any thinking person can handle. No one seems to be aware of the rampant hypocrisy. There was once a time in this country where we recognized all politics and politicians are crooked. Now we ignore how crooked our particular brand can be.

This is what spawned my 2021 theme. No one seems to be honest and decerning enough to realize that the politicians are willing by the division, and they are playing us against each other. War is good business, and an ideological civil war is best for career politicians. The news media loves it, they are making all kinds of money. Social media loves it, they are in the middle of the spotlight and making all kinds of money. We, the American people are stupidly enabling them to roll over us. We have lost ourselves in the fight. We have given up our individual identity to labels, titles, positions, and ideologies.

My 2021 theme is a call to come back. We need to stop letting people think for us. We need to throw away the labels and the ideologies and the pre-programmed sound bites. It is time to use your heads people, stop thinking with your emotions. Stop blinding following and for the love of everything holy, grow up. Use your head.

That was a phrase my dad would use when I did something dumb. Sometimes he said it softly, but most of the time it was in his dad voice. If you have ever held the flashlight for your dad while he was working on his car, you would totally understand what I'm saying. So here this is my dad "hold the flashlight" voice. It's time to use your head. Think, and make good decisions. No more following the script.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

My 2020 Reflections

 Ok, so the 2020 year in review has been a little overdone. I know everyone knows this year has been awful. I think more than Covid, we will look back at 2020 as the year the end began. I'm not going to rant about how we have lost freedoms due to shutdowns, but looking at the political landscape, 2020 has proven to be the year where the private sector has demonstrated they run this country. Not the people, not even the elected officials, but tech and media run the US. To be honest, money has run things for most of my lifetime. Now we just have a name. Big tech, silicon valley, whatever you want to label it. The media companies also run the show. They hate Trump, so they set out to destroy him. They are nowhere near objective in reporting these days, and they don't even pretend to hide it anymore. We know the media hates Trump and they didn't hide it. Politics in this country has been sold, and our democracy is dead. The final nail in the coffin is that the 2020 elections were not legitimate. You know Biden didn't get more votes than anyone in history. Obama was the most popular Democrat president since JFK, there is no way that Biden got more votes than Obama did. It was a fraud, but no one will do anything about it. There will be no investigations, no arrests, no changes. Nothing will happen and the majority of Americans will be ignored because our democracy is dead. We have lost our voice, we have no say or recourse anymore. 2020 was the year that it became clear that America is not a corporate-run country.

Want more evidence? Here is how they will get rid of small business and put everything into the hands of big corporations. First, the lockdown killed a bunch of small businesses. They aren't coming back. Once things open back up, they will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The small business can't afford that, and we know that Walmart, Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and other big chains can. They will run the small shops out of business. Corporations will control America. We go back to making deals with China, and the global economy will take control and America will become part of the globalist machine. Trump was trying to change that, but the machine of money and power in the US couldn't have that. That is why there will be no investigation into the 2020 election.

Now, if you are a biblical student, you know this is supposed to happen. The world will fall to a one-world government. The United Nations, globalism, open borders, socialism, elitist control, all these things will happen. They will use things like "climate change" to consolidate power, and Covid 19 gave them a great excuse to begin the centralization of power. Was Covid 19 planned and engineered for this purpose? I don't think so, but it doesn't matter. It could not have happened at a more convenient time for the global, political elite ruling class in this country. Without Covid, Trump wins the election, globalism is pushed back and small business continues to take part of the pie away from the corporate elite. Covid played right into the plans for those who needed it to happen. Mark Zuckerberg will continue to have control over information, Jeff Bezos will continue to control the economy, Target and Walmart will control the buying and selling of goods. We have lost America without a bullet being fired, and we did it with smiles and cheers.

2020 was the end of America as we know it. I'm not sure 2021 has great things in store.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Fixing a Broken Nation

 Things are broken. They are broken everywhere and it has gotten so bad people are burning down their own cities. We know they are broken, we have known they are broken for a long time. We make jokes about them being broken. It used to be called "political satire" and now they are memes. They are both doing the same thing, pointing out where we know things are broken. We tell jokes about corruption and greed and control and abuse. We tell jokes about stuff because we know they are true, but we don't know what else to do. We don't fix it.

The first place things are broken is in the home. Our homes, our kids, our marriages, and our families are broken. We get hurt, we throw things away. We have no idea what marriage is or how it actually works. We have decided that marriage is about two people being in love. Marriage is today's society is for my benefit and I get something out of it. When I stop enjoying it, I leave. Marriage used to be the most foundational part of our society. We built a community of a husband and wife. They came together in a complementary way, had children, and established a family. Things were hard, we fixed it. Things got broken, we fixed it. Children were born into a family, homes were made. That's gone. Children have no stability, one-parent homes are harmful. We know it's true, we make jokes about it. Ever heard a joke about a girl with "daddy issues"? We know it's broken, but we don't fix it. We continue to destabilize the family, people just live together. Marriage has become a disposable relationship. It's broken.

Our schools are broken. The school has become controlled by people who aren't educators and they are making decisions that are not education decisions. I'm not a fan of the United States Department of Education, because I don't want bureaucrats in charge of education. I want the state to be in charge of education, and I want local schools and administrators making education decisions. Education has become a political tool and used for people to get elected and reelected. Until we get politics out of the school, it will be broken.

As long as we are on the topic of politics, our government is really, really broken. We have known that for years. My entire life I have known that politicians lie. Everyone knows the government is corrupt. Each side believes the other side is the corrupt group, but let's be honest. They are all corrupt. There is a reason they have made a system that only certain people can reach the top off. It's not controlled by the people, it's controlled by money. The government has become a business, and it's a dog eat dog business. The people in charge will do whatever they need to in order to remain in power. Our government is probably as corrupt as the Mafia ever was. You know it, I know it. We know the media, both broadcast, and social media have become nothing more than propaganda machines of the political parties. Journalists no longer report the truth, they report what they believe and what they want you to believe. Social Media is controlling the minds and hearts of many in this country. People believe things for no other reason than they have heard it over and over and over again. It doesn't matter if it's true, it only matters if the right people say it and say it loud enough.

Business is broken. Opening a small business today is harder than ever before. Real Estate to have a brink and mortar store is almost overwhelming on its own. If you do manage to open a store, you have to find a way to get your message out. The cost of advertising can be overwhelming. After all this, if you get your storefront and get advertised, you still have to deal with the fact the big box stores and the internet have a corner on the market. There is a reason that Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest man in the US. If you didn't know his name, he is the owner of Amazon. We talk about how CEOs of these companies make billions and the people they work for make very little. People want the government to fix this through taxation while continuing to shop Amazon. If you don't like how much Amazon or Walmart of Target CEOs make, stop shopping there. Shop local, small business. Maybe you have to pay a little more, just suck it up and do it. It's broken, but the number of people who are at Walmart every day proves it's not something we are going to fix. It will stay broken because, like marriage, business is all about what is best for me.

Finally, the church is broken. The church has become more of a business than anything else. It's not so much about making money, but it's about maintaining control.  People who are in leadership in the church love being in charge. They love calling the shots, and they won't let that change. We make jokes about the church not wanting to change anything. We make jokes that it's a fight to change the carpet color or what color the paint the walls. It's true, every bit of it. The church is no longer a community, it's a business, and that business is entertainment. The church today is focused on bigger, better, louder. Backdrops that change color, lights, and state of the art sound systems, projection systems, and professionally created websites. The church members are not just spectators, they listen to the leaders teach or preach or sing, and they just nod along and smile. They leave after they are entertained for an hour, not the least bit different than they were when they walked in. People are leaving the church, many have said we are in a Post-Christian era in our country. The church is broken, we know it, but no one will do anything to fix it.

So, what are we going to do? Realistically, nothing will change. It's too hard, it takes too much work. The only time things change is when things explode. Even then, the change is usually small and not long lasting. We have had race riots in this country, and each time they get worse. The reason is, nothing changes, and the changes don't last for long. A group in the government gets together, they make a change, and eventually, that fades away. Occasionally, a leader will inspire a few and they will get worked up for a time, but eventually, it gets hard and it fades. The reason for this, in my opinion, is we start to big. We try to fix the entire system. I am committed to fixing things first at the cornerstone. My family, my kids. I want to focus at home and fix things. Fix things locally, where you are. A firecracker can't move an entire mountain, but it can make a dent. Enough dents and the mountain will be gone. Do what you can where you live, where you work, where you learn, and where you worship. Stop supporting those who are the problem. Stop shopping big if you can shop small. Stop attending the churches that entertain and find a community of faith. Stop voting for corrupt politicians, and vote for quality people. Do the work where you live and you will begin to slowly make a change.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Want To Feel Like a Failure? Teach!

 I had a rough day. I love being a teacher, I really enjoy students, and I worked pretty hard to get here. This year more than any other, there is a lot of pressure. First, you have the pressure to teach your students all the things they are supposed to know. They have to pass this test every year. While teaching them, you need to make sure they are behaving like they are supposed to behave. They don't want to behave, they don't really want to learn, and they definitely don't want to do any work. The first layer of pressure is from students. Some of your students will not behave, will not do the work, and will not pass the test. The first feeling of failure is when you can't manage your classroom like you are told to. You can't manage it like the videos of the teacher you are measured next too. Your students argue, talk back, get out of control, don't study, don't hand in assignments and generally seem like they don't care Students tell you how they would rather sleep, party, play xbox, or do anything other than what you are asking of them. They tell you your class is stupid and boring and you suck at your job. You are informed they learn nothing and its a waste of their time

With the students informing you that you are a failure, you have parents. Don't get me wrong, most parents are great. Some are very involved and will back you up. There are some who are not involved and won't back you up. There are some that will believe whatever their child says. There are some who just aren't around. The struggle comes in when a parent is upset because you didn't teach them enough, didn't treat them right, or had to correct them when they are out of line. I have really had a great experience with parents at my school, but this is a general statement about teaching. I have been lucky, not everyone has been. Dead beat parents exist, the parents who let the kids disrespect them, cuss them out and behave however they want. If they do this at home, they want to do it at school. If as a teacher you try to stop this behavior, you are the bad guy. The second failure is the parents.

Third level is when you struggle with school leadership. Principals, coaches, directors, HR, and other people in various leadership positions. Like the parents, most administrators are great people and work very hard. To be fair, I am sure 99% of school principals can write this blog about expectations and feel like a failure because of students, parents, teachers, the community, the school board, and on and on. Since I'm not a principal, I won't write that blog. Now I have a great principal. My wife has a great principal. Not all principals are great. Some are not involved, do very little, and don't support the teachers. Some make life almost unbearable for teachers. All principals have high expectations, and they should and they have to. They have to find things for you to improve, and if you aren't perfect, you need to improve. Many of us who are teachers, try as hard as we can. I pour out everything I have during the day. I often feel sorry for my last 2 classes of the day because often I have little to nothing left. I don't feel like I can do anymore, but there are things I have to do. I have to do more, and they will point out what I need to improve and fix. I feel like I have failed when they tell me what is wrong. It comes with any profession like teaching when you must improve. It's hard, and it often leaves you feeling like you failed.

As a teacher, you often feel like you are stuck. You are stuck between students and other students, or a student and another teacher, or between two teachers. You can't solve, fix, or manage everything. Especially with Covid, we have added things we have to attend too. I have to teach, manage my class, improve in my teaching, and keep kids safe from a virus. This is rough when the rules and guidelines have changed a dozen times. My students think I make stuff up, they forget to wear a mask, they don't social distance and I have to mitigate these situations. If a student gets sick, I feel responsible. One more area that I can feel like I fail.

The sad reality is you will fail someone. You will miss someone, you will mess something up, you will fail to connect with a student. It will happen. Teachers teach because we care about students and the weight of that is crushing. Students say things that wound your soul. You aren't supposed to take any of it personally, you are supposed to just brush it off, after all, you are the adult and the professional. It sounds good in theory, but pouring your heart and soul out for a student who turns around and tells you how horrible you are, it leaves an emotional scar. Students lash out because of discipline, because of poor grades, because they are bored or frustrated or just angry. We have to carry all that, and not let it get to us. When it does, it is another failure. Teaching can be hard, teaching during a pandemic is even harder, and teaching during a pandemic during a highly polarizing election has been the thing of nightmarish. I will keep doing it, keep trying to do my best because I do have great students and great parents and great administrators at a great school. Some days are just hard, even in Australia.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Do You Know Who You Are?

 I have discovered something in my years of working with people. We have this strong desire to protect ourselves, our ego is very fragile. The person we are most afraid of is often ourselves. We are really scared of hurting our own psyche, and so we protect ourselves by lying to ourselves. Most people don't really know themselves. Here is a little test you can take.

First off, ask yourself, what types of movies do you like? What types of TV shows? What types of music? Have a good list? Good, now why are those your favorite? What things are triggered in you to make you like those things? What causes you to choose the people you call friends? What makes you like the colors you enjoy? What shapes your outlook? Most people have no idea why they like the things they like or see the world the way they do.

Want to go deeper? What are you really afraid of? What really gives you joy? What is the best thing in your life? What things in your life do you need to change or get rid of to live a better life? These are hard questions for most of us, we struggle to really know who we are, or more importantly, what drives and motivates us.

The problem with this is we seldom grow on our own to be better people. Most of the time, if we do improve it is because someone else pushes us. We need people who can see the things in us that we can't (or won't) see in our own lives. We need parents, teachers, leaders, bosses, managers, pastors, friends, and colleagues to really help us see who we really are. We need to acknowledge the fact that we lie to ourselves in order to protect ourselves. We wear a mask, we make-believe with ourselves. We try to pretend we are more than we are. . . to ourselves. Don't be afraid to admit you are flawed and broken. Don't be afraid you admit you can be better, and don't be afraid to try. The biggest and scariest step can be the step of being honest with yourself. Maybe it's time to take a moment to get to know the real you.