Read more here.
Christian mercy must discover, in faith, in the Spirit, a power strong enough to initiate the transformation of the world into a realm of understanding, unity and relative peace, where [humankind], nations and societies are willing to make the enormous sacrifices required if they are to communicate intelligibly with one another, understand one another, cooperate with one another in feeding the hungry millions and in building a world of peace. -- Thomas Merton
One "surprise" issue we're running into is that, with the slowdown, many of our suppliers have cut their capabilities, impacting our ability yo obtain raw materials in a timely manner.
Any business leader, right now, should be dropping as many responsibilities as they can to free up their time to just focus on pulling out of this situation -- looking for any way possible to increase sales and maintain profitability levels.
I did hear a rather well known private sector economist speak last week. He provided a great historical perspective for the current situation as well as an explanation of how we got to where we are. While I would have guessed that an economist would have provided lots of numbers to explain the situation, he really does see a strong emotional or human side to this recession. He does indeed see it as being driven, perpetuated, and fueled by the media. While I have heard many armchair economists say such things, it was interesting to hear him say it.
He feels we're not quite mid-way through this thing. And, what scares him more than anything is the prospect of deflating -- rapidly dropping prices. While he is not seeing deflation yet, he explained that deflation is one thing that no one really knows how to fix.
I guess that, from my perspective, I am seeing some dropping prices but not a situation where consumer goods are dropping week after week after week. However, it would concern me greatly that, because of the amount of importing we do as a nation, we could very well see such a situation develop.
Switching gears a bit ... the big thing in the news now seems to be the possible nationalization of our banks. As someone who has experienced working with banks that, for many months now, have been under close scrutiny and control by the feds, I can tell you that, while I do not necessarily have a better answer, nationalization of the banks scares me to death. It will, I am afraid, create a situation where banking decisions are made largely on ratios and perhaps a few policies inspired by legislative numb skulls. Taking the human side out of banking will slow down business growth and expansion in ways we cannot even fathom. That is my concern at least. Again, though, no better answers.
Have a good week!
Groeschel's "It" focuses on the difficult-to-define thing that some churches just seem to have while others do not have it. "It," as he calls it, is something you cannot clearly illuminate but he does a great job of posing key questions to help a church define whether it has "it," how it might get "it," and how a church can lose "it."
One thing that became very clear as I read this book, though, was that "it" applies to much more than just churches. If you run or lead any sort of organization, business, or ministry, this book will be full of thought-provoking moments for you ... moments that will cause you to think and scratch your head, and go back and make some changes in the way you do things.
I highly recommend this book for any leader. It is also a very fun book to read, with my sidebars and stories as well as Groeschel's trademark sense of humor.
It was really neat to spend some time reflecting on what all MCA has accomplished over the years, thanks to a visionary few. We have shaped and built an industry that employs thousands and provides environmentally friendly building materials. It is a group that respects and values relationships over all else, allowing us to accomplish things that less cooperative industries could never accomplish. It is a pleasure to be involved with MCA.
Following is the invocation which I had the privilege of giving at our anniversary dinner.
I stand up here this evening as a very privileged man to be able to deliver the invocation on such a night of celebration.
Please join with me in prayer …
Dear most gracious and heavenly Father,
We are here tonight as a celebration point. As an industry, we thank you for 25 years of being able to serve. 25 years of using the resources, ingenuity and wisdom that you have given us for the purpose of building a better world and providing worthwhile and meaningful employment to tens of thousands. In all of that, we celebrate what a privilege it is to be a part of your plan for this world.
But please, Lord, do not allow us to be an industry nor individuals who rest on our laurels. Provide us with direction and encouragement to always push ahead … to always strive for advancements and changes that better this world, that advance the people in it, and that honor you. Help us to remain steadfast in our determination to continually protect the planet and world with which you have richly blessed us.
Lord, we know that these are troubled and turbulent times. But we also know that you are the one we can turn to most in leading us through these times. In Jeremiah, you assure us that you have plans to prosper us. May we, during these times, be an organization that continues to step boldly forward not as an organization of fear but as an organization living in your promise and discovering prosperity, in whatever form that might be, even in these difficult times.
While we honor and give thanks for the heritage of leaders who went before them, we pray for our new leadership both of the United States and of Metal Construction Association. Please watch closely over the new presidents of both our country and our organization. May they know your strength and your presence as decisions are made and directions are taken which forever change history.
Be with us this evening. Bless the food we’re about to eat. May this be an evening of celebration, an evening of memories, and, most importantly, an evening of looking ahead and beginning to live into our next 25 years and beyond.
In Jesus’ name we most humbly pray,
Good stuff. As always when I look at scripture, click on the headline of this post in order to read the referenced passage.
Paul constantly risked his life. He traveled far. He was determined to spread the news of the world's savior. He took the Great Commission seriously.
At the same time, apparently, many false teachers were also traveling about, claiming to be prophets and to know the truth and yet largely there to just dupe money from the people. I think of what we might call a "snake oil" salesman from the late 1800s and early 1900s. "You have an ill? I have the pill? Any problem you have, I can sell you something to fix it." Lots of those guys still around, usually on late night infomercials.
But Paul spoke in truth ... and what could He do to make sure that He stood out from the rest? Well, He needed to tell them about himself ... tell people about all that He had endured and all that He was willing to endure because He knew the truth and had to speak the truth.
But this chapter also show why Paul did this ... because he loved the people he was talking to. He took seriously Jesus' commandment to love one another. And, out of love, he had to tell them how to have eternal life with the Father.
Here's what strikes me about this ... Paul's behavior is exactly what we should also be doing today ... out of our love for them, telling others about God's love for them, His sacrifice for them, and His desire for intimacy with them.
It makes me wonder ... when I do share with others, is it out of love ... or out of just feeling like it is what I am supposed to do. Doing it out of love undoubtedly makes a huge difference.
People in the know about the detainees said it would not be possible ... that it is a difficult situation ... that many of the detainees are pretty scary and dangerous people.
Wow, over the weekend, one of Obama's staff members said that there's no way that the Gitmo folk will be one of Obama's first 100 day initiatives. These are scary, dangerous people, the staffer said -- much work has to be done yet on that situation.
So, another promise that helped get Obama elected bites the dust.
I, on the other hand, continue to be pretty pleased with the guy.
Is anyone out there who supported Obama upset to see his campaign promises fall to the ground like crumpled waste paper? I would be.
And water is wet.
1) The silly idea of a meaningless $3000 tax credit for companies that hire new workers.
2) Repealing the Bush tax cuts for upper income folks.
Obama's party and his cadre all seem to be in agreement now that these would not be good things to do.
So, let me ask you this ... if a simple business guy from Sidney Ohio knew back in October that these were not smart moves, are we really to think that these guys didn't know it back then, too?
Of course they knew it! But they also knew what they had to say in order to get elected. And so that is what they said.
I applaud folks who are taking this as an opportunity to do their own thing. I think that is wonderful. Over the years, I have advised many people who were starting new businesses.
But we need to realize a couple of things:
1) Cottage industries, operating with lower overhead, do displace workers from traditional workplaces, exacerbating the current high unemployment levels. Most people, when starting a business and working for themselves, will have the ability to do the work of two, three, or even four people in the traditional workplace.
2) Many times these entrepreneurs do not have the skills or knowledge to take their businesses to the next level when the economy does improve.
I am not saying that either of these is "bad". They are just realities. I am all for entrepreneurism. However, these are just things that we need to be aware of and, in my opinion, states need to be aware of and plan for. For one thing, providing low cost business training to these new entrepreneurs would be a great place to start so that at least some of them will be prepared to build bigger businesses down the road.
My blood sugar number is generally staying in a very good range and I am learning to recognize signs from my body if it is creeping low or high.
Last night I dreamt about chocolate though ... and I miss breads and pasta, too. Have had just a teeny bit of pasta, I think one very small chocolate, and nothing that resembled a true sandwich in the 4+ weeks since I was diagnosed.
The weight is not coming off as I'd hoped. This may be partly because of building some muscle through exercise but overall I am thinking I am either not doing enough of something or eating too much of something else. I am probably eating too much protein for one thing. Need to get the weight off. I have lost about 15 pounds but most of that was lost before I was even diagnosed, due to my cells being starved of sugar.
That's all I got.
This chapter to me says a lot about what it takes to build relationships Paul could have gotten very defensive but instead he just stated facts. He did not deny that perhaps he is more forceful in writing than in person. He aludes that perhaps that is what is required of capturing their attention but once he has their attention, he can turn to a quieter way of talking to them in person.
I think there are some good lessons here for me in terms of working with others and building relationships.
Remedial math lesson: Gov. Strickland, there are currently very few films ever being made in Ohio. You can keep your taxes on them through the action of your veto pen but something of nothing is still nothing!
He had an opportunity to encourage what has historically been a relatively recession-resistant industry to bring potentially thousands of new jobs, most likely focused on some of our larger cities and more suffering areas, to the state and he says "NO"! ?! I am thinking he is either devoid of math or logic skills or else he simply doesn't care about bringing jobs to Ohio. Sadly, I am beginning to think it is the latter.
You can link these events to prophecy if you wish but it's hard to see God in this. I know that someday He will show up big time over there ... I am praying that it is soon ... and that He shows up in the hearts of those on both sides who believe that violence is the answer.
The thing I must ask myself is what role do I play in this? What role do any of us sitting comfortably in our armchairs play in this? God could show up all on his own but it is mostly He will show up through the actions of those who are following hard after Him ... and they will impact the world.
"I remember coming back from a very long tour.... On Christmas Eve I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. ...It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story. The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty... a child, I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry. Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and ...tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this. Because that’s exactly what we were talking about earlier: love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered. To me, it makes sense. It’s actually logical. It’s pure logic. Essence has to manifest itself. It’s inevitable. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh." - Bono
Remember his plan to spur the economy and boost employment by investing in infrastructure -- roads and such? Well, now a Congressional panel has come out and said that either gas taxes must increase by 50% or else some other method must be derived in order to tax drivers based upon how much they drive if we're going to keep up our country's highway and roads infrastructure.
Seems like that would have been helpful information for Obama to have earlier.
Oh wait, this came out from a congressional panel that has been researching it for quite some time. And wasn't Obama a member of Congress?
Wow ... is it a predicament or is it just darned interesting? How will this play out? Will we go forward with huge investments in infrastructure, and tax people more to cover it, all to create a few short term jobs in the future?
Rather than post it all here, if anyone out there has similar concerns as my friend and would be interested in reading what I wrote for him, just post a comment here with your email address and I will send the information to you.
While I have a lot of respect for Gov. Strickland, I can only say "For Pete's Sake!" Instead of lamenting the economy, looking for federal help, and cutting state jobs (not that I am entirely against that), get out there and focus on working with businesses and bringing jobs to Ohio! As I said before, Strickland has been absolutely impotent in terms of trying to stave off the unemployment crisis in our state. His answers and reactions in this interview show exactly why. He wants to complain and put his hand out instead of getting out there and making something happen. I'm sorry but we do not need this kind of "leadership" in Ohio ... not now ... not ever.
Off my soapbox now (for awhile at least).
But I have always tried to live my life without looking back and with no regrets. When I was younger, I saw some of the adults in my life really get paralyzed by regrets from the past. I determined then that I did not want that to happen to me. Yes, I was going to make mistakes in life but, rather than lament them, I wanted to learn from them and use them as points of growth. In more recent years, as I have tried to be more serious about my faith journey, it has been easy to sort of re-focus my reflection on life’s experiences to look at them as preparation for what God ultimately intends for me.
In my prayer life and reflection in 2008, then, my focus has been on what God has been preparing me for. I am sort of at “half time” in my life. Half way through the span of a typical career and half-way through my hopeful life expectancy, my focus has been on trying to discern what God wants for my future … what has He been preparing me for.
I suppose that most folks from the outside would look at my career and think it’s been rather milquetoast – moving into and spending time in the family business. But yet, over the past 20+ years through my job, I have encountered some of the most bizarre and unusual situations and people that probably any businessperson could ever encounter. I won’t go into details here and now but my career, despite, being at one place, has been full of twists and turns, ups and downs. Even before I was really trying to be a disciple of Christ, though, my focus was always on trying to take the high road in business decisions and put others, even those I may seemingly be at odds with, before myself. As I have been trying to walk with the Lord, the reasoning for my decisions processes has changed somewhat but my characteristic patterns of behavior have not changed greatly.
So, what has God been preparing me for? To large degree, it’s been a long, strange road. God, I figure, did not bring me down it for no reason. While I certainly did not expect to know exactly what God’s calling is for my future, I hoped to at least in 2008 gain a glimpse, glimmer, and perspective of where He is calling me for the next year or so.
And, God delivers. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been led to begin a personal study of what it means to be a Christian in the secular marketplace. What opportunities are there and what are the practical and meaningful ways to live that out and be effective for God? My goal right now is to, by the end of 2009, develop three talks on this subject that I could potentially give to groups of Christians in the marketplace. A short 20-30 minute talk as well as a half day and a full day seminar.
Frankly, I do not know if God ever intends for me to actually give these talks or if He is just leading me down this path of study and writing so that I will go deeper into Him and deeper into realizing my role as a Christian in the marketplace. If my own growth is what this is all about, that is wonderful. I am fine with that. If, down the road, it turns out that He does want me to work with others on this subject, well, I just pray that I will be faithful and do what He calls me to.
So, while a part of me is still very happy to see 2008 over and done with, I hope that, for all of us, it has been a time of learning and growth … learning and growth which will give us the experiences and knowledge that God needs us to have in order for us to live out His plan for our lives.
God bless you and yours in this bright new year. May He bring us all renewed hope, renewed peace, renewed optimism. May that renewal allow those of us who are trying to live our lives for Him to shine ever brighter as beacons of love and mercy in a world that is searching for God knows what.