Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Leadership and Character, added (from 12/15/09)

Here is a quote from the "Father of American Scholarship and Education", Noah Webster: "In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular party of the candidate - look to his character . . . It is alleged by men of loose principals or defective views of the subject that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness."

Remember this the next time you go to the polls to elect our leaders.

Over 50

I am over fifty. As recommended by some sadomasochist medical panel, I just had a prostate exam. Not only is the procedure embarrassing and extremely uncomfortable, I find it hard to believe that the doctor is able to diagnose a problem with the front end by probing the rear end. (However, just in case I have to see this doctor again, I did laugh at his “little fingers” poke, I mean joke.) Maybe this will be one of the procedures that ObamaCare will say is no longer needed. As I was kneeling face down on the end of the examining table, I just couldn’t get the image of Jack Elam as the proctologist in “Cannonball Run” out of my mind. My, I have had a great day!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gift Giving

One of the most important things the Lord has given to help guide me through life is a conscience. Throughout my life, it has been a reliable guide. I cannot think of a single bad action that I have taken when my conscience did not alert me to my impending transgression. Did the alert always stop me from making the wrong choice? Regretfully, no. In fact, sometimes the warning just further fueled my resolve to "do wrong." Sometimes it made me rethink my rationale for an action or decision.

I have been greatly blessed. I pray that the Lord will continue to give me the wisdom to properly use what I have been given. However, my conscience does bother me about gift-giving at Christmas. I believe we should give gifts at Christmas, both to remember what Christ gave for us, and to show our love and charity to others (Many Bibles interpret "love" and "charity" as the same word. They may be correct to do so. I think "love" is the intangible goodness that we can give to others, while "charity" is the tangible.) I think many people go way overboard when it comes to gift-giving at Christmas. I think this reduces the importance of the gifts, and increases the importance of commercialism in our Christian Holiday. I believe this because my conscience told me so.

Christ and Santa

Every year about this time I start hearing people question whether, as Christians, we should include Santa Claus in our celebration of Christmas. We exert so much effort in trying to get the world to remember the "Reason for the Season", and to "not take Christ out of Christmas", it seems foolish that most of us will then exhort our children to "tell Santa what you want" or "go to bed so Santa and his reindeer can come." Personally, I like the tradition of Santa. As with anything, Santa can be misused. I believe that we, as Christians, can use Santa to teach valuable lessons to our young children.

Christ extols love and charity. We can use Santa to teach our youngsters these same virtues. Although young kids are much more excited by what gifts they are getting than what is being given to others, allowing them to see our own excitement at both giving and receiving can teach valuable lessons. It is OK, when working with the very young, to use the "Jolly Old Elf" to teach the valuable lessons of love and kindness. Don't worry about your child growing up to worship Santa instead of Jesus. As they mature, they will naturally understand the difference between make-believe and reality. They will no longer enjoy hearing about Peter Rabbit and Donald Duck, instead wanting to read Huckleberry Finn and Nancy Drew. In fact, in most cases (certainly with my four children) your children will stop believing in Santa without any help from you. It will just happen (usually before puberty.)

HOWEVER, Do not delay teaching your children about Jesus. They should start hearing the wonderful stories of the Bible at a very early age. Just remember what the Bible says about Santa. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man (an adult), I put away childish things." 1 Cor. 13:11

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leadership and Character

What makes a good leader? General Norman Schwarzkopf, the incredibly gifted military leader, powerfully summarizes it this way: "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character...but if you must be without one, be without strategy!" Real leadership is not about charisma or charm, for leadership based upon either is at best flimsy and at worst dangerous. Peter Drucker once said, "Charisma has nothing to do with leadership. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were the most charismatic leaders of the 20th century. If that is leadership, I want no part of it!" Strategy, charisma and skill are all important tools used by leaders, but CHARACTER is what defines a good leader. (Quotes provided by Dr. Jim Harris)

Character is defined as, "qualities of honesty, courage, moral excellence; integrity." A good leader has moral and ethical strength. He is the same person in the dark as he is in the light. A good leader speaks forthrightly, insuring that the truth is clear for all to hear. A good leader does not gain or keep followers by trick or deception, nor by force. Although a leader exhorts his followers in order to accomplish his goals, he does so with honesty.

Can the Character of your leaders be measured? I think it can by asking yourself these three simple questions about your leader(s): 1. Does your leader state clearly his position when asked? If not, does he "talk around" the issue in order to avoid having to commit to a personal position? Do not confuse a simple "I don't know" with avoiding taking a position. "I don't know" is often the most honest answer possible, and is heard too seldom. A good leader is not afraid to state his position. 2. Does your leader maintain his position no matter the audience or the situation? A good leader may sing a different tune depending on the circumstance, but the words will be the same, because they are the truth. 3. Does your leader act in a morally upright manner, both professionally and personally? A good leader believes in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A good leader holds dear his commitments. Although no one is perfect, a good leader strives to keep promises made, and uphold oaths taken. Finally, a good leader will admit fault when required.

How are your leaders doing? How are our President, Congressmen and other elected officials doing? If any of them are of questionable Character, you should do whatever is in your power to have them replaced. 

I hope that you are allowing Jesus to be your most trusted leader. Not only did He prove Himself to be a good leader while walking as a man on earth, He is still. He will always tell you the truth. He will never lie. He will never abandon you. He will fulfill His promise of giving you life everlasting if you will only commit to following Him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Once upon a time there was a thing called film. Much of it was made by Kodak. It was used to record visual images, called pictures. The film had to be processed, or developed, in order to see the pictures. Almost everybody had to send the film off, usually through a drug store, in order to have the film developed. You would get your pictures back in a week or so. Some stores would allow you to review your pictures and not pay for those that were overexposed (too much light), underexposed (too dark), or just bad. Although not really expensive, between the cost of the film and the developing, you normally only took "important" pictures. The really good pictures might be framed and displayed. Most went into the "picture box" never to be seen again (except during family reunions when the box might be found under the bed and opened in order to embarrass Aunt Martha whose hair was no longer black, or Uncle Joe whose hair was no longer.) Then the world went digital!

Now pictures are instant. As soon as you take the picture, you see it. If good, you keep it. If not, you delete it. If you forget your camera, no problem, use your phone. No phone, use your laptop. No way to take a picture? Ask anyone around you to take the picture and email it to you. It is there before you get home. Picture box? No way. I-Photo. Not only can you store unlimited pictures in your gigabytes of storage, they will be indexed by date, GPS coordinate, and facial features. You can email your pictures, share them online, and print them. Better yet, you can modify them. No longer is it necessary to tear a picture in two in order to get rid of the old boy friend. Now you can just erase him! Have you gained too much weight for the class reunion program? Hit the "slim" button. Grass not green enough? Enhance it.

I guess digital photography is better than film. It is certainly easier. But are your photos as valued as they once were? Or has speed, economy and ease taken away some of the importance we once placed on a good picture? In fact, has speed, economy and ease taken away some of the importance we once placed on many things in our lives?