Tuesday, September 30, 2008
So, I was thinking today about pickles. You know, the dill pickle halves and quarters that you get with your meal at restaurants across the country. What's the deal with that? Why a dill pickle? Why not a carrot or a piece of broccoli or an Andes Mint? It's always been pickles for as long as I remember. Apparently the Pickle Marketing Board did a pretty good job at one point.

  posted at 6:50 PM  

The following is from Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word ministries.

The Apostle Paul had a definite passion to serve God. Even before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul strictly observed God's law; "as for legalistic righteousness, faultless" (Philippians 3:6). But after being confronted by Jesus, his focus forever changed; his passion remained, but his every desire now centered around faith in Jesus and the good news of His gospel message.

Philippians 3:10
"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death."

Paul pursued an intimate relationship with Jesus and sought to be identified with His death and resurrection. He knew the only way to experience the power of Jesus was to live as a new creation whose sinful nature had been crucified with Christ; and as a new creation, he continually desired to know his Creator.

Truly knowing Jesus Christ is much more than simply knowing "about"
Him. We can fill our head with every possible biblical fact and still never know Christ. To know Him is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; to trust Him regardless of our circumstances, and to draw close to His side in our joy as well as our suffering. Nothing else in life has any real meaning; "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8a).

Paul's passion for Jesus allowed him to loose his hold of all worldly attachments; "I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8b). This uncontested supremacy of Jesus allowed Paul to be "content in any and every situation" (Philippians 4:12). By giving himself fully to knowing Christ, Paul gained true contentment and peace.

We have the same ability to know Christ today. We are also promised the same results! Peace and contentment will NEVER be achieved through more possessions, activities, or relationships - these are ALL temporary and will fade away with time. Our life will only be truly content when we give ourselves to Jesus and love Him without reservation; we will only be filled with His peace as we seek to know Him.

We may never be asked to give up much for the sake of the gospel; but then again, we may be asked to give up everything! Either way, our heart must always hold loosely to the things of this world. Anything which cannot be released has effectively become a god and crowds the throne which MUST be reserved for the King of Kings. Let's reconsider our priorities - where we spend our time and what commands our thoughts and consumes our energy. Let's give ourselves fully to Him and make sure nothing has become more important than knowing Christ.

  posted at 7:47 AM  

Sunday, September 28, 2008
It is difficult for me to relate to what it would be like to grow up as an only child. Because I wasn't one. We won't go into what I was (at least not here) because that isn't the point of this post. In any event, though, I was not an only child.

But our son is. Lisa was not an only child either so no correlation there either.

I think Evan enjoys being an only child. Does that mean he is spoiled by always being able to get mom or dad's attention? Yeah, it does.

But it also means that his thought processes and maturity level are more those of an adult than a 10-year-old. He has spent most of his time with adults. And, while particularly as he ages we more and more see that he likes hanging out with his friends, and sort of craves that, an end result of his being an only child is that, despite being on the shy side, he handles himself pretty maturely most of the time.

We ran into his teacher Friday evening and she told us that they had had sort of a rough day in class that day. "Oh?" we asked. We had not heard anything about this yet (despite the maturity of our son.)

She went on to explain that one of the students had been chunking pieces of eraser at other kids during class. Because she was not sure who had been doing it (well, I suspect she was pretty sure) she asked for the offending student to identify his or herself. No one stood up and admitted it.

So, she decided the class would sit in silence until someone admitted to it. For 50 minutes, they sat in silence.

This had to have driven our son nuts. Apparently a couple of kids said they were thinking about admitting guilt despite their innocence, just so the "torture" would stop.

But it was what our normally pretty quiet son -- more of a follower usually than a leader -- did that surprised me. At one point, he suggested to the teacher that they all pray about it and pray that the guilty student would admit their offense. And then he led them in prayer.

Again, Evan is not typically a leader but, in a Christian education environment, he is learning to hear God's voice and to be a spiritual leader. I was both impressed and surprised by his behavior. But that is the way God works through those who are attuned to Him.

I am truly blessed.

  posted at 9:12 AM  

II CORINTHIANS 6 (MSG) It's All Just Getting To Be Too Much
"It's all just getting to be too much." Have you ever found yourself saying that? "It's all just getting to be too much."

It could be any of a million things that get you to that point. Maybe the kids are misbehaving. Maybe your parents aren't getting along. Maybe your spouse is having to travel too much for work. Maybe you're just overcome by loneliness. Maybe it's illness on your part or others around you whom you love. Maybe work has been too busy. Maybe it wasn't busy enough and you lost your job. Maybe you're afraid of losing your business. Maybe the debts are piling up and you see no way out. Maybe you're just worn out and burned out and need some time off but can't take it.

Maybe it seems like all of these things are hitting you all at once.

Your exact story doesn't make any difference but the point is ... there you are ... and maybe it's even a cry out to God -- "It's all just getting to be too much, God."

As worries and tensions mount, it may drive you any of several places. Intense sadness. Anger. Withdrawal and shut-down. Addictions. Ridiculous hyperactivity. Avoidance of reality. Wherever it drives you, it drives you there hard and fast and it seems like the door slams shut behind you.

"It's all just getting to be too much, God."

Increasingly, the past few months, I have been living there -- "It's all just getting to be too much." For me, it drives me to eating the wrong foods at the wrong time. It drives me to just a feeling of sadness and withdrawal. I've put on a lot of weight and that seems to make the pit even deeper. "It's all just getting to be too much, God." I have felt held by Him throughout but yet, fact is, it really all has just been getting to be too much.

Friends ask how you're doing. You smile and say "Fine. Things sure are hectic right now but, I'm fine. Things are fine. Things are getting better, that's for sure. I have nothing to complain about. There's so much pain in the world -- I'm fine." It becomes a liturgy, a liturgy of trying to convince yourself ... that you're fine. You don't want to be a whiner or a complainer. You want to support and encourage others. You want to be ... fine. But, "it's all just getting to be too much."

I have written before that God has stopped me recently in II Corinthians 5. I have read that chapter dozens of times now. And last night, in my prayers, I cried out -- "It's all just getting to be too much, God." And He told me, "Go on to Chapter 6 now." So I did.

Here it is, Paul to the church in Corinth ... from The Message.

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,
I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

"I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good," says God.
"Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me."
The Word of the Master, God.

God doesn't promise Christians a bed of roses in this life. In fact, the Bible is full of stories quite to the opposite. He doesn't deny that this life will have its trials. In fact, even, it would likely have fewer trials if we were not following Him. He even tells us that it would be okay to be a Democrat and live on handouts. (Sorry -- it's in there though ... almost.)

And, God encourages us to reach out to others for strength and encouragement. Reach out to others for help when we need it. Take that help and live in it, whether it be physical or psychological or emotional. Live in Christian community and in relationships. And know that there will be tough times.

But, in tough times, He promises His comfort. He promises to expand our territory. If we open up, our lives will open up. The more we live for others, the smaller our own troubles will seem. Our troubles won't go away. It will even still seem like it's all getting to be too much at times. But we will be living a life of hope ... a life of help ... a new life of resurrection ... and our territory will be expanded as we build His Kingdom.

I am, frankly, still processing what this all means to me. It's not a new concept to me. But the opportunities really open up during times when "it's all just getting to be too much." Maybe God is calling me to deeper community ... to not just falsely cover up everything as being "fine". Maybe He is calling me to a new level of service. Maybe He is just assuring me that He does love me and, the more I open up, the more my life will expand and the less I will feel that this world is getting to be too much. Maybe He's calling me closer to Him and His people and even less in the world ... at least for now ... so that I might be refreshed and rejuvenated, my territory enlarged.

I don't know for sure ... but I do feel He's going to be binding me, at least my heart, to II Corinthians 6 for awhile.

  posted at 7:00 AM  

Friday, September 26, 2008
Here's what I shared in our Leadership Community gathering at church last Saturday:

In our past meetings, we have talked a lot about community, relationships, mentoring and discipling. We have talked about how these things help us to go deeper in our own faith and also how they encourage and support others to go deeper in their own.

But yet, for me, there is still one nagging question – why bother? Why bother? What is it that really drives us to follow through and actively engage others and share our faith? Doesn’t Ephesians 2 say that we are saved by grace through our faith, not through our works? Can’t it just stop at that?

I know that in past meetings we have talked about the Great Commission but can’t I do my little part of that by praying or giving or serving? Or how about writing? I really enjoy writing. Sort of a nice solitary event for a committed introvert. Isn’t that enough, God? Do I really have to go out and engage others? I know it shouldn’t be but talking to others can really be pretty scary for me. And furthermore, do I really have to be vulnerable and allow myself to be discipled by someone else?

Despite all of the great practical examples we’ve shared about how dicipling another is easy and can be very natural, these questions have really plagued me and a couple of weeks ago I was reading through the 5th chapter of II Corinthians and I really got stopped by some things. As I have kept re-reading this passage for a couple of weeks now, I know that God’s trying to drive home some points with me and take me deeper. I hope you don’t mind if I share with you.

I’m going to start at Verse 9 and I’ll be reading from The Message.

Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we'll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what's coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.

This really got to me because it reminds me that God really is watching my actions. I mean, even if I don’t have any actions that may be perceived as “bad” (and, believe me, I do), isn’t inaction – the lack of action when I know God is calling me to something – the same as a bad action? I mean, inaction in the face of God’s call certainly isn’t a good action.

Let me skip back a second and read something from I Corinthians Chapter 3. This is Paul talking about the things that he and his helper Apollos had done in supporting the church at Corinth:

10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

So this is telling me that, even after accepting Christ, what I do here on earth will be judged … that the quality, worth and value of what I do will be tested. And what will those things be tested against? The foundation that Jesus Christ already laid. That is big stuff. Huge stuff really. Because how did Jesus lay a foundation? Was it by staying at home in His comfy den all the time happily tip tapping away on His computer keyboard? Hardly. As we have read before, Jesus laid the foundation through community with others – and relationships of discipling.

Let me continue on with II Corinthians chapter 5 …

11-14That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It's no light thing to know that we'll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That's why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God.

Now, think about it, this is Paul saying this and he’d already been in his ministry for about 12 years at that point. He’d already done for the Kingdom oh, I don’t know, maybe a bazillion times more than I will do in my entire life but yet he’s still touting the importance of working urgently with everyone he meets. Wow.
Okay, back to the scripture …

God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We're not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we're on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ's love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

What do you see in there? What I see is humility … and that’s certainly a good lesson for me … we do what we are called to do not in order to bring glory to ourselves but only to bring glory to God

Let’s keep going …

14-15Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16-20Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.
That’s what God wants to do – to use us to be the catalysts to bring about fresh starts, to create something new from a life that was not in Christ.
The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.

In King James, this says that God has reconciled the world unto himself through Jesus Christ and that furthermore He has given us the ministry and word of reconciliation – He has charged us with bringing others to Him.

God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

21How, you ask? In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

Like I said, a couple of weeks ago as my mind continued to play out my fears, God brought me to this passage and I’ve pretty much been stuck on it ever since. He really does want me to take action in bring others to Him. Where He’s brought me is to the realization that investing my life in the lives of others is not “work” but rather the actions of someone fully surrendered to God, striving to Follow Him and live my life according to God’s instruction and Jesus’ demonstration.

  posted at 6:05 AM  

Joe Biden Ticks Tim Off
Link here to Tim Stevens' post on the charitable giving of our pres and vp candidates. Are you as ticked as Tim? Does this play a role in your decision as a voter?

  posted at 6:00 AM  

Thursday, September 25, 2008
What can happen, or perhaps it is better to ask what will happen with the life fully surrendered to God? Take a look at this article by Os Hillman about Dwight Moody.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26

Dwight L. Moody was a poorly educated, unordained, shoe salesman who felt God's call to preach the gospel. Early one morning he and some friends gathered in a hay field for a season of prayer, confession, and consecration. His friend Henry Varley said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him." Moody was deeply moved by these words. He later went to a meeting where Charles Spurgeon was speaking. In that meeting Moody recalled the words spoken by his friend, "The world had yet to see!...with and for and through and in!...A man!" Varley meant any man! Varley didn't say he had to be educated, or brilliant, or anything else. Just a man! Well, by the Holy Spirit in him, he'd be one of those men. Then suddenly, in that high gallery, he saw something he'd never realized before. It was not Mr. Spurgeon, after all, who was doing that work; it was God. And if God could use Mr. Spurgeon, why should He not use the rest of us, and why should we not all just lay ourselves at the Master's feet and say to Him, "Send me! Use me!"

D.L. Moody was an ordinary man who sought to be fully and wholly committed to Christ. God did extraordinary things through this ordinary man. Moody became one of the great evangelists of modern times. He founded a Bible college, Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, which sends out men and women trained in service for God. Are you an ordinary man or woman in whom God wants to do extraordinary things? God desires that for every child of His. Ask God to do extraordinary things in your life. Begin today to trust Him to accomplish great things for His Kingdom through you.

  posted at 5:52 AM  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This letter from PETA to Ben and Jerry's is just warped. Warped warped warped.

  posted at 11:24 PM  

I know this is sort of old news ... I have tried to forget about it ... but I can't.

Even though it received very little media coverage, have you seen the interview between Obama and Stephanopolous (sp? -- who knows?) in which Obama referred to "my Muslim faith"? I have to admit, when I first heard about it, I thought "no big deal, anyone can say the wrong thing" but then I saw the video. The words came from his mouth with no stumbling and no apparent recognition of his mistake.

Let me ask you this ... If you're a Christian, can you ever imagine yourself ever mistakenly saying "my Muslim faith" at all, let alone without realizing it?

That bothers me.

Frankly, I am not particularly bothered by a Muslim president. I suppose I should be but I know a few Muslims and they are good people and would make good leaders. I may be just as much bothered by the prospect of a Mormom president as a Muslim one.

But I am really bothered by a president who doesn't come clean. Shades of Clinton abound if you ask me.

You know what I really think? I suspect Obama does relate most to Christianity but I don't think he has been on a particularly strong faith journey. That's okay. I have no problem with that. Just tell us for pete's sake ... and don't go around quoting scripture way way way out of context (I had an earlier post about that).

  posted at 7:29 AM  

Monday, September 22, 2008
The following is from atgodstable.com. Pretty good stuff.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Neither – How easily we gloss over and diminish the harsh reality of Jesus’ teaching! You won’t hear much about this condition of forgiveness these days. We simply can’t imagine that God would withhold His forgiveness. Our view of God is the plastic Santa, ready to accommodate any indiscretion. But this is not the view of our Messiah. There is more than one unforgiveable sin. In fact, there are as many unforgiveable sins as there are injuries, slanders and insults against us that we will not forgive. It’s very hard to hear but the words are about as plain as they can be. If you refuse forgiveness toward another, do not expect God to forgive you no matter how many times you walk the aisle or raise your hand or say a sinner’s prayer. Forgiveness comes with conditions.

The first thing we need to clear up is the meaning of forgiveness. The Greek verb is aphiemi. It does not mean to ignore, to pretend it never happened or to just go on in life acting as if it doesn’t matter. It literally means “to send off, to release, to hurl, to pardon.” The offense is real. The debt is due. The damage has been done. Forgiveness means confronting the truth of the injury and absorbing the cost (emotional, physical or otherwise) in order to clean the record and settle the bill. The goal of forgiveness is to leave in peace. Jesus clearly understood this because a large number of His parables concerning the ethics of the Kingdom are about debts due and payments made. So, it simply isn’t adequate to think that if we just let it go we have accomplished forgiveness. Not talking about it doesn’t resolve the matter.

The second thing we need to notice is that forgiveness is not a one-time event. Luther said that the life of a believer was one of constant repentance. Yes, there is a point where we turn the corner and experience the overwhelming grace of God in transforming renewal, but that does not take care of the category of forgiveness. Frankly, each of us needs God’s forgiveness every day, and if we believe what Jesus says, our stubborn refusal to provide the same grace to another is cause for serious spiritual decline.

Finally, there is the word oude, a combination of “not” (ou) and “even” (de). Obviously, it’s pretty strong. If you don’t show behavior that resolves and releases the things that go wrong with others (the meaning of “trespasses”), then you have a serious issue with God. You put God on the defensive because your actions insult His generosity. In fact, God is more likely to come to the aid of the sinner who offended you than to your aid. Why? Because a truly broken and humble heart does not slander the character of God’s grace by refusing to forgive. God has used enemies in the past to bring about repentance. There is no reason whatsoever that He would not do so again.

Jesus’ words are chilling. We would rather not hear them. We would just as soon pretend that things have been swept under the rug and can be forgotten. But that is hypocrisy. Claiming God’s grace without reflecting the same is unforgiveable. Now what will we do?

  posted at 5:57 AM  

You know what's very odd ... just how many bloggers out there I read about who are celebrating 20 years with their spouse. What is it, you hit about year 18 and you just want to write?

Anyway, Lisa and I, too, are about to hit that milestone. We've been together as a couple for over 27 years but we're about to his the 20th anniversary in just a few weeks.

One thing we've done far too little of since Evan came along is get away by ourselves. We're looking for a place to go for a weekend that is within, say, 200 miles of Dayton, Ohio.

Any suggestions?

  posted at 5:38 AM  

I've been blasting Obama lately on his clear stance against business. His intention really is to tax "evil" business for everything he can. There is no other way to support his economic plan.

And I have also talked with friends about how his pro-choice stance troubles me. But, on that, I want to give air to a different perspective as well.

So, Click Here for Will Samson's post on "Pro Life and Pro Obama".

  posted at 5:35 AM  

Sunday, September 21, 2008
I am as miffed as anyone over the bank bailout.

However, we just need to get over it.

You think things are bad now -- just imagine what would happen if these banks went belly up and had to call in all of their loans and also if we found that those who have money invested in them could not get the full value out.

Live with the bailout. The alternative is far far worse.

  posted at 8:21 PM  

Well, I have already started to rant about how irritated I am getting with the Obama camp talking about corporations and portraying them as "evil" money grabbers getting special treatment from the government and taking it all from "the man".

It's easy for someone to fall into the trap of believing this horseradish.

One thing that we have all heard people say again and again about a business is "Well, they will just write it off anyway." Can someone please tell me what in the world that means? It is often used in relationship to charitable giving or maybe obsolete inventory or maybe being taken advantage of by a customer, or a customer going bankrupt. But what does it mean? Can anyone tell me?

This reference to "write offs" is always made as though "writing something off" means the financial loss goes away ... that the government steps in and takes care of it or something. At least that is what I think people are thinking.

Well, it isn't true! If a company suffers a loss of money for any reason, intentional or unintentional, it is not a "write off"! There is no such thing. It is a loss of revenue and that company has to go back and earn that money back in terms of profit if they're going to get it back. there is not some magical tax thing that happens that gives them their money back.

Now, it does lower their profitability and lower profitability means they pay less tax but it is still, pure and simple, a loss of revenue. Nothing magical happens to restore it. they do not get a tax credit or something to cover it.

And did you know that when you see the profitability of a company, that says nothing about how much they invested in capital expenditures that year? Things like that are capitalized and expensed out over time, not in one fell swoop.

But, let's go back to the evil corporations and businesspeople who are supposedly hording all this money. Do you really believe that? Again, for the most part, it is horseradish. Thank goodness there are people who are gifted in the area of finance and can make a company turn a profit because it is only through profits that a business can continue to prosper and grow and employ people. There is nothing evil about profits as long as they are not gained through dishonesty. Profits are what keep businesses strong and growing. If businesses no longer make a profit, we can all say good-bye to our jobs.

But, when a business does earn a profit, what happens to it? Like I said, some goes to grow and sustain the business but other parts of the profit end up being contributed to those who need them. God gifts some people with a spirit of giving. Well, we'd better hope that those who are so gifted actually do a little "getting," or else there is nothing to give.

Now, granted, you look at the list of America's wealthiest and there are a lot of businesspeople on their. Quite a number of them are "old money" and some are more recent big money from the technology sector. But, you don't have to go too far down the list and you also find lots of people from sports and entertainment, the very group that the left in our country has courted heavily in recent years.

All I am saying, I guess, is this ... when thinking about who you will vote for in November, you'd better take a hard look at their stance on businesses. Lots of the figures and things you hear are either misleading or plain old wrong. And if we don't have businesses making money out there, things go south real real quick.

  posted at 2:50 PM  

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Obama's ads seem to talk a lot about huge tax breaks and benefits for corporations. And, though it may naot be stated, there's a clear implication that corporations are "evil".

As someone who has for many years been an owner of one C-corp, one S-corp, and an LLC, can I set the record straight?

My C-corp has always made as its primary goal the stable, gainful employment of as many people as possible. While over the years we have benefitted from some government programs designed to help us reduce rates on our bank financing and we have also received some deduction of local real estate taxes in order to stimulate local employment, I am unaware of any federal or state tax breaks we have ever received.

In fact, let's think about this.

With a C-corp, any earnings we leave in the business are taxed in that year at 40%+ between federal and state. So, if the business makes money and decides to re-invest that money in itself in order to employ more people, over 40% goes to the government.

But, what happens if we decide to take that money out instead? Now, we pay personal income tax and still pay croporate tax on any money left in the business.

Now, let's talk about S-corps. This is the real killer, despite S-Corps and LLCs supposedly being there to benefit owners, any profit earned at all, whether I take it out or leave it in the business, is taxed to me personally. It doesn't take a business of much size at all and this forces the owner into Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on their personal taxes, meaning they will pay combined federal and state tax of nearly 45% on both their personal earnings and all earnings from an S-corp and LLC even though the vast majority of that may be a "paper" earning.

So, Obama, where are these tax breaks for corporations? I have quite a bit of experience at this and have yet to see them. Can you tell me where they are? I don't think so.

All I see is working my butt off to provide employment to others, having everything I own either through a business or personally constantly 100% on the line with my bank, and getting taxed higher and higher every way I turn.

Am I bitter? No, this is still a country of HUGE opportunity and I am a much blessed man. But don't talk to me about supposed "evil" corporations and the unfair tax benefits they supposedly receive. It's bad enough with the government discouraging people from going out and being entrepreneurial and trying to change the world and economy for the better. The folks trying to bolster and drive this enconomy need to be encouraged, not driven down. We don't expect "special" treatment but we do expect "fair" treatment.

  posted at 11:15 PM  

A local church has remodeled an old restaurant/cafeteria into being their new home. I do not know the details of "why" but they have made the exterior look like a barn, complete with barn siding, gambrel roofline, and a metal siding.

Sort of gives new use to the saying:

"Close the door! Where were you born again? In a barn?"

  posted at 11:12 PM  

Wow. I still haven't been posting much. I am sorry about that. Just a lot going on and not feeling overly creative I guess.

Last evening I posted a "status update" on my Facebook account which I now realize could have been confusing. It was something like "Todd wishes he had someone to bail his business out when he makes bad decisions." It would have been easy to read that and think I'm in some sort of dire straits. Not really so. These are tough economic times and my company has felt the pinch in several ways but we have been very blessed overall and things are okay.

My status was meant to be sarcastic. I am not very good at sarcasm.

It just really gets me that all of these banks that made really stupid lending and credit decisions -- decisions that I think were really rather predatory -- are getting bailed out by the government. I mean, is that really how I want my tax dollars to be spent?

I am old enough to very well remember the government bailout of Chrysler in 1979. That was such a rarity and unusual thing. Now they are even bailing out companies in the middle of the night. And there is talk of a bailout for the "big three".

I mean, these are difficult times and I am sure that these measures are necessary. But the backside ramifications bother me because I don't even know what they are. I do know that, more and more, the government is controlling all banks. That bothers me but maybe it shouldn't. The banks in Canada have been controlled through strict limitations for many years and they aren't in this mess.

So, maybe I am worried about nothing. I just get bugged though by billions of dollars being spent to save business owners from themselves -- especially banks -- when, if I made dumb business decisions, my bank would be the first to tell me about it and penalize me.

  posted at 4:51 AM  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The following was written by Os Hillman -- good stuff!

"And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel." 1 Chronicles 14:2
King David learned an important lesson every leader must learn if he is to ensure God's continual blessing. He knew why God blessed him. It wasn't because he deserved it, though he was a man who sought God with his whole heart. It wasn't because of his great skill, though he was a great military strategist. It wasn't because he was perfect, for he committed some horrible sins during his reign as king. No, it was for none of these reasons. God blessed David for the "sake of His people Israel." God never blesses an individual just for that person's exclusive benefit. God calls each of us to be a blessing to others. So often we forget this last part. R.G. LeTourneau, a businessman who built heavy construction equipment, came to realize this only after God took him through many trials. Once the Lord had all of LeTourneau, he came to realize that the question wasn't whether he gave 10 percent of what the Lord gave him. Rather, the question was, "What amount does He want me to keep?" LeTourneau was known for giving 90 percent of his income toward the end of his career and was a great supporter of world missions. But the Lord doesn't bless workplace believers just for the ability to give financially. God has given workplace believers many more gifts beyond the financial.

What is happening with the spiritual fruit of God's blessing on your life? Is it clogged, or is it freely flowing to others? Ask the Lord to free you to be a blessing to those in your circle of influence.

  posted at 8:47 AM  

SMALL GROUPS -- 4 and 5
Here is Part 4 and Part 5 of Chris Reeder's great series on small groups and how they do 'em at Revolution Church!

  posted at 8:00 AM  

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This survey supposedly helps you determine which presidential candidate you align with most closely in regards to some of the major issues.


I was sort of surprised ... I showed up very strong in favor of McCain ... I did not expect it to be quite that strong of a match.

  posted at 11:01 PM  

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I saw gas for something like $3.43. I was down to about a half tank but I was in a hurry. I figured it wouldn't go up during the day and I could gas up in the evening. The price on my way home last night? Something like $3.79. Figures. Oh well.

Speaking of gas ... have you been paying much attention to our Pres and VP nominees running around the country? Who are you watching the most? I know that the offices they are running for are probably the most powerful offices in the world but the campaign trail must be incredibly grueling. Not just physically but also from constantly being in the spotlight and having every word you say analyzed.

We have already seen a few gaffes along the way but one that hasn't hit the media much was Obama's reference to his "Muslim faith". Have you seen that? It's all over YouTube ... and pretty interesting.

But we're apparently more concerned that Palin attended a Pentecostal church.


Anyway, the campaign trail must be grueling and, of course, very expensive.

Ever wonder if particularly with today's technology, there isn't a better way for them to campaign? Maybe by 2012 or 2016 we will see an "all electronic campaign". It would have to be mandated but wouldn't that be very smart?

I think so.

And, if I see gas for under $3.55 today, I'm filling up.

  posted at 4:54 AM  

Monday, September 08, 2008
WHAT IF ...?
Check out Scott McKnight's post on "What if John McCain is elected?" Good stuff.

  posted at 5:36 AM  

Looking for some inspiration on how to reach the world? Read Terry Laudett's post titled "Aggressive Mercy". Click Here.

  posted at 5:31 AM  

Friday, September 05, 2008
Through the amazing power of the internet, I receive roofing-related questions every day from people all over the place. Most of them have nothing to do with my company or our products but I try to help folks anyway.

Today, I received the following question:

"My roof has a gooseneck on it. If a hurricane tears off my gooseneck, will water get into my house? If so, what can I do to keep that from happening?"

Now, please understand, I have been in the roofing business for nearly 30 years. Yes, 30 years. Nearly. And never once in all that time have I heard anything on a roof called a "gooseneck". I actually do think I know what it is that she is referring to as a "gooseneck" but never before have I heard that term.

So, today, when I got this question:

"My roof has a gooseneck on it. If a hurricane tears off my gooseneck, will water get into my house? If so, what can I do to keep that from happening?"

I had to respond with:

"That's easy -- if your gooseneck breaks off and water is getting into your home, just cover it with a duck's back."

  posted at 8:31 PM  

Thursday, September 04, 2008
Here is an update form our senior pastor, Chris Heckaman, on the Country Rock Church.

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35, NAS)

A God Story: “Blood Relatives”

At the close of CRC (Country Rock Church) the other night, a little added excitement graced our gathering. On his way out, one of our members had some type of seizure, fell, and cracked open his head…in two places.

People rallied…towels were brought, 911 was called, those with first-aid experience came and made sure what we were doing was appropriate. I sat on the graveled parking lot with pools of blood on either side of me and held a towel to the man’s head.

And Church continued. Servants mobilized. Gifts were utilized. And love was shown.

Sitting there with the bloody towel to the man’s head, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who all gets this?” Why do we love so much?

We’re bound…as blood relatives to the world.

The commitment to “blood relatives” is supposed to mean more isn’t it? The way some families treat each other you have to wonder sometimes.

We’re bound…as blood relatives to the world…through the blood of Christ. Our connection is even stronger. We aren’t related through some DNA strand or genetic line…“blood shared.” We’re related through blood shed…Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. And that bond is even stronger.

How strong is it in you? Do you feel compelled…to reach the world and love on the Body? To lie in gravel and hold a bleeding man’s head? Where can you grow a deeper blood relation, whether serving in mission or behind the walls of Christ’s Church?

We’ve seen some pretty neat things at CRC this summer…

• Personal faith commitments.
• People getting in recovery programs.
• A man giving up drinking cold turkey.
• A cadre of servants is joining.
• A core group of church is emerging.

Thank you for your prayers and faithful support of the many ministries of Sidney First.

Journey on Church!

  posted at 8:47 AM  

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I have said it before ... giving a well-prepared speech, reading from a teleprompter ... not that difficult to deliver the goods that way. BUT, if Sarah Palin can think on her feet and handle herself half as well on the campaign trail and in debates as she did tonight ... well, I frankly don't think there is any stopping this Republican ticket. She clearly does not stand for status quo. She is feisty but personable. Tough but someone you'd want to spend some time with. This election just got a whole lot more interesting. Palin took a lot of sharp jabs at Obama but every one was well-substantiated and, when appropriate, also softened with humor. Very smart.

  posted at 11:16 PM  

Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Please check into this article on persecution of Christians in Orissa, India.

  posted at 11:53 AM  

We had a quiet weekend with Lisa trying to recuperate and Evan fighting bad allergies or something. This is always a bad time of year for him. I always remember that ... when school starts and he starts sniffling like mad.

Lisa's doing pretty well I think. We have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon today. She is still real fatigued. I think I am going to stay home today. I am blessed to have a job where I can work from home when I need to.

Sort of a funny thing has dawned on me. We were so focused on getting the cancer out that we lost sight of the thyroid that had to go with it. Living without a thyroid is something that millions of people have to do when theirs go wonky for some reason but it's still not an easy thing to go through by itself. Eventually, we will get her meds regulated for it.

Thanks for your continued prayers, support, and encouragement.

  posted at 8:57 AM  

Check out Don Miller's blog. Great comments on church and Jesus, and a hilarious email exchange with the Obamas.

  posted at 8:48 AM  

1970's SUMMERS
I well remember the summers of ‘72, ‘73 and ‘74. No, they were not days of free love and casting off all inhibitions for me. I was only like 8 – 10 years old, for Pete’s Sake. But I remember them well.

These summers led up to my family making a big change. We moved from the very small town of about 300 people where my mom had grown up to the “bustling city” about 45 minutes away of nearly 20,000 where my dad had been working. We moved from the very tiny house that we had rented from my grandparents for as long as I’d been alive to a house that my parents worked hard to build and finish themselves. Much larger but still modest, the new house was a tri-level sitting on a two acre lot right at the edge of the bustling city. In fact, it was, and still is, the northern most house in the bustling city.

My best friend during those summers in the small town before the move to the bustling city was Janelle, the girl next door. She was a year younger than me. You see, when you grow up in a very small town, there are not a lot of kids around. Most of my classmates lived outside of town on farms and came from large farm families. I never got to see them during the summers. So summers were when I spent most of my time with Janelle. And that was okay.

Pretty much every day in the summer from 9:00 or so on until dinner time (with a break for lunch), we’d be outside together. Our parents didn’t have to worry much about us. We could wander all over the small town and we’d be fine. Again, there weren’t many kids in the small town so everyone knew us.

Well, they probably actually knew us from our grandparents. Janelle’s grandparents owned and ran what was, aside from “Tuck’s Filling Station,” about the only “going” business in town -- the grocery. My grandparents in town, on the other hand, were sort of a local institution. My grandfather was been the local music teacher for 30+ years and my grandma was a cook at the school. Can’t get much more institutional than that, can you?

So, as we rode our bikes around town, I am not sure that we were ever so much Janelle and Todd as we were “Wayne and Catherine’s granddaughter” and “Doyt and Pauline’s grandson”.

I always hated rainy days in the summer. It was never fun to be cooped up inside when I really wanted to be outside with Janelle, riding our bikes and exploring the small town that, to us, was the world. These were sort of my “wonder years”. Or something like that. They were years of innocence, friends, fun, and not a lot of responsibility.

My sister is three years older than me and Janelle’s was three years older than her. Occasionally, the four of us would get together for games of kickball or baseball, even though our teams were small. But a lot of the time, Janelle and I were trying to determine pranks to play on our older sisters. It was sort of a “we’ve always been the younger sibling, we’re tired of being picked on, and we’re not going to take it anymore” type of doctrine that we held. I don’t remember any of the pranks actually being successfully carried out but, funny thing about pranks, sometimes the scheming is most of the fun.

And there was the time my sister fell on her butt during a game of kickball. Janelle and I had nothing to do with it but we found it to be uproariously funny. Unfortunately, my sister and her friend didn’t see it that way. Funny thing about teen or near-teen girls. No senses of humor at all – as they chased us around screaming things like “It’s not funny” and “She could have been seriously hurt!” We laughed all the more, thinking but not verbalizing “Yeah, if her brains are in her butt!”

Janelle and I were extreme daredevils. We used to like riding our bikes down the sidewalk steps in front of the First United Methodist Church. There were three steps you had to bounce down. It seemed really death-defying yet, thanks to our incredible biking skills, we never took a single fall. (Although bouncing up and down on my purple banana seat may have something to do with why it would later take Lisa and I seven years to conceive a child.) Whenever I get back to the small town, I look at those three steps. They haven’t changed. And there’s no way I’d try riding a bike down them today.

We’d explore the small town on our bikes, daring to approach or go deeper into the “other side of the tracks” parts of towns our parents had warned us about. It seemed exciting and sort of like James Bond. Oddly enough, the town park was one of those “other side of the tracks” places but we’d venture there anyway.

We also knew that, by stopping by my grandma’s house, or our “pseudo-grandma” who lived on the other side of Janelle’s house, we could always get a cool drink and perhaps even a fresh-baked cookie or two.

The summer of ’74 was, as I said, my last in the small town. Janelle and I vowed to stay in touch. Pretty much didn’t happen although, when I was in college and she was a hair stylist in a town nearby, I had her cut my hair a couple of times. I had hair then and she was married with a kid or two as I recall. It was nice to reconnect but I forget if I asked her about the locusts. I still think about the locusts. The summer of ’74, you see, was a big year for locusts. Janelle and I spent the summer scouring the small town looking for locust shells which we kept in a shoebox. We had something like 160 of them by the end of summer. We spent the summer sharing the shoebox between our houses but, on the day we moved away, Janelle gave the box to me to keep. I think we both cried a bit.

Yes, there was more to those summers of ’72, ’73 and ’74 than just these “wonder years” memories – there was some “real life stuff” mixed in there as well -- but these are the things that, as I age, I will choose to remember.

(And, if you’re thinking of commenting that you weren’t even born yet during these years, well, I will forgive you your youthfulness. You missed some good times.)

  posted at 8:33 AM  

Check out "A More Accurate Image of Christ" over at A Disciple's Thoughts. Some good stuff to ruminate on.

  posted at 6:25 AM  

Monday, September 01, 2008
The following is from "Love and Living" by Thomas Merton.

Christians are now asking themselves curious questions about something called the "world." Should they revile it as their fathers did? Should they renounce it as monks do? Should they love it as it loves itself? Should they enter into dialogue with it, as the Pope has dialogues with all kinds of people not excluding Russians? Or, in the long run, should they frankly admit that they are part of the world and start from there? What is this world? Does it exist at all?

We must begin by frankly admitting that the first place in which to go looking for the world is not outside us but in ourselves. We are the world. In the deepest ground of our being we remain in metaphysical contact with the whole of that creation in which we are only small parts. Through our senses and our mind, our loves, needs, and desires, we are implicated, without possibility of evasion, in this world of matter and of [human beings], of things and of persons, which not only affect us and change our lives but are also affected and changed by us. From the moment we sit down at the table and put a piece of bread in our mouths, we see that we are in the world and cannot be otherwise than in it, until the day we die. The question, then, is not to speculate about how we are to contact the world-as if we were somehow in outer space-but how to validate our relationship, give it a fully honest and human significance, and make it truly productive and worthwhile for our world.

  posted at 11:16 PM  

Humility, realizing we're all in the same boat, Jesus dies for all of us, and reaching others just like ourselves, right where they are at, for Him.

  posted at 9:46 AM  

Who Am I?

Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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