Thursday, August 13, 2009
Displaced workers in Ohio Upper Miami Valley area are encouraged to attend the Network for Job Seekers, a new organization formed by the Upper Miami Valley Think Tank, an organization of local Christian Businesspersons. Network meetings will be held at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA on Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 AM beginning on August 20th and continuing weekly. Two short presentations, one covering job seeking techniques and one for encouragement and support through the emotional times of being unemployed, are provided each week with networking and community time included. The objective is to provide job seekers the opportunity to communicate who they are and what they are looking for in a job within a safe environment for learning and networking. The network they develop will be the single most powerful technique for finding a position. Pre-Registration is not required. Handouts from past presentations will be provided allowing anyone to join the group at anytime.

An additional component of the Network for Job Seekers, available to those who are interested, will be individual or small group career counseling and mentoring with members of the Upper Miami Valley Think Tank. These committed businesspeople are available to work with individuals who may be looking at a career change and especially to work with those who may have entrepreneurial aspirations and be interested in starting or acquiring their own business.

The Network for Job Seekers will also create a list of local job seekers and their unique skills for sharing with area employers. This will be optional for participants in the Network but it could be of great value in their employment search.

  posted at 10:02 AM  

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
The proposed local school levy failed yesterday … again. I have lost track at this point of how many times the levy has failed and, no matter which way a person has voted, I think that everyone has to agree on one thing. As this situation has gone on, it has become extremely divisive in our community. The series of levy defeats has created a situation where both sides have worked to vilify the other. Those in favor of the levy say that the other side is anti-community, anti-future, and even anti-kids. Those against the levy have painted school administrators and board members as ignoramuses, challenging that they do not know how to manage an organization like a school system and that they simply want more of everyone’s money.

The attempt on both sides has continuously been to “get the vote out” in support of their opinion.

Continuing to do that, certainly, is one option. But supposedly the levy can only go up one more time before the state will step in and take over control of the local schools. Time is running out. I assume the levy will be on the ballot again in November. School officials felt that the August election would be good for them as students were home from college and hopefully would be a strong “pro-school” voting block. They will not have that in November.

Those against the levy have become more organized and solidified in their efforts over time, making their voting block stronger as well.

I know it would be a tough pill to swallow but, at this point (or even earlier), if I were a school administrator or on the school board, I’d want to pursue some other options. At some point, the reality would need to sink in and be recognized that the majority of the voting public simply wasn’t going my way … and that maybe I need to change my tack a bit.

I suppose that could look like a number of different things but one would be to begin a series of small group meetings with local citizens including civic and business leaders but to especially try to reach out to those who have been voting against the levy and engage them in conversation. Sometimes, I believe, as much as anything, folks just want the assurance that they have been heard and that those who have heard them are listening.

At this point, as the division continues, each side begins to forget that the other side consists of human beings. They begin to see the other side only as the “enemy” … and that creates a situation in which it is very difficult for any positive shifting, one way or the other, to occur.

A series of many, intensive, small group meetings, facilitated by a neutral third party, could create productive conversation which begins to remove the boxes that each side has put itself in. The individuals can begin to once again see each other as people … and hopefully begin to better understand each other. As this happens, I believe that both sides will begin to see how many they can “give” a little. School officials will perhaps pick up and act on some helpful ideas and those against the levy will know that they have been heard.

I believe that this would begin the healing process that our community desperately needs … and it would bring people closer together and allow the levy to easily pass in November.

  posted at 6:06 AM  

Monday, August 03, 2009
It seems like there are three primary things driving healthcare reform:

1) Cost control
2) Ensuring coverage for everyone, including portability and continuation of existing plans
3) More control in the hands of patients and physicians

As a side note, I will add my observation that pharmaceutical and research companies are currently rewarded only when they have the “big hit” of a discovery that has widespread appeal and use, such as something like Viagra and, apparently, something to help folks have fuller eyelashes.

The projections for healthcare as it is are ominous – costs will continue to rise. Along the way, insurance companies will continue to look for ways to cap their costs as well and sometimes that means limiting what and who they will cover.

As I look at this, it all comes down to costs. If costs can be controlled, more folks can have coverage and more power can return to patients and their doctors. And yet I see cost containment as conspicuously missing in the proposed reform. I will be the first to admit that I must be missing something though – and I hope that someone can point out to me what I am missing. Where is cost containment in the proposed reform?

I know that part of what is proposed is some way of increasing competition amongst insurance companies. The problem is, competition already exists and, if you increase competition too much, none of them make money, insurers start to pull out, and now you have decreased competition and an environment where costs can really begin to spiral. Simple economics.

I also have heard talk of trying to help smaller insurance buyers tap into larger group ratings. The money still has to come from someplace though so this just doesn’t make sense to me.

It still comes down to controlling costs.

I am not sure what our options are for controlling costs. Tort reform seems like a logical one but it has been talked about for almost 30 years now and the muckity mucks in DC are still too tied to attorneys to do anything about it. The time has come that something must be done now.

The other thing I see is let’s get the advertising out of the pharmaceutical business. Advertising pharmaceuticals just adds cost and encourages drug companies to only work on drugs that will be big widespread hits. Let’s eliminate advertising and encourage that some of our best research be done by smaller companies and (can’t believe I am saying it) government research facilities.

I don’t need to see advertisements on TV that make me think I need the latest drug out there. Let my doctor know and prescribe what is best for me. My doctor knows far better than I and the Madison Street bigwigs do.

Healthcare reform is not really reform if all we do is switch around where the dollars come from. Long term cost containment will not occur that way. Costs will keep spiralling out of control. Let’s instead look for ways of controlling costs and out of that create a system which works for all.

Other ideas?

  posted at 8:32 AM  

Sunday, August 02, 2009
JAMES 2:1-13 (NIV)
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

The idea of loving one another was apparently radical in Jesus' day. Just as it is radical today. It's always been radical. Radical because it's difficult. It goes against our nature.

It's a tough thing to do. We don't all look alike, act alike, think alike, or even smell alike. Something about us wants to judge others by what we observe on the surface. We think mean thoughts ... we sometimes say them. Or we simply show favoritism or maybe, even ever so slightly, put ourselves ahead of others.

But yet in this scripture, we can see just how critical this commandment of Jesus' had been passed along to be. The one who doesn't love his neighbor -- all his neighbors -- as himself ... is no better than the murderer or the adulterer.

Think about it. That is a tough pill to swallow. How can I live a life so pure that I never judge others? Is that even feasible?

This is big stuff ... not something we can just say "Well, God's grace covers us" and move on. Yes, His grace does cover us ... but this idea of loving others is truly world-changing.

What does it take in ourselves to be able to live this way? For one thing, we have to feel good about ourselves. Oftentimes, judging others is our way of felling better about ourselves.

Yet this is a self-fulfilling circle ... if I love others ... if I encourage and affrim them ... then they feel better about themselves ... and become more likely to love others.

It's a beautiful idea ...

But human nature holds us back.

Love one another -- all others -- as ourselves ...

How do you live it out? How do I live it out?

Would God's Kingdom come if we all lived it out?

  posted at 4:09 PM  

The following was written by Os Hillman. What does full surrender look like for me ... for you?

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold." Job 23:10

I was recently sitting with the leader of a workplace organization as he described a question he poses to workplace believers. "What if there were two doors to choose from; behind one door was the complete will of God for your life and behind the other door was how life could be according to your own preference. Which door would you choose?" The struggle for most lies in the desire to follow God completely and the fear of what might be behind the door of full surrender. Most of us desire to follow God, but few of us will do it at any cost. We do not really believe that God loves us to the degree that we are willing to give Him complete permission to do as He wills in us.

If we desire to fully walk with Christ, there is a cost. We may give intellectual assent and go along with His principles and do fine; however, if we are fully given over to Him and His will for our life, it will be a life that will have adversity. The Bible is clear that humans do not achieve greatness without having their sinful will broken. This process is designed to create a nature change in each of us, not just a habit change. The Bible calls it circumcision. Circumcision is painful, bloody, and personal.

If God has plans to greatly use you in the lives of others, you can expect your trials to be even greater than those of others. Why? Because, like Joseph who went through greater trials than most patriarchs, your calling may have such responsibility that God cannot afford to entrust it to you without ensuring your complete faithfulness to the call. He has much invested in you on behalf of others. He may want to speak through your life to a greater degree than through another. The events of your life would become the frame for the message He wants to speak through you.

Do not fear the path that God may lead you on. Embrace it. For God may bring you down a path in your life to ensure the reward of your inheritance. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Cor. 4:17)

  posted at 8:38 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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