Archive for the ‘Virtues’ Category

Over the course of this last year I’ve been amazed by the depth of the friendship within the world of blogging. I’ve developed some great friendships with some highly intelligent and socially well adjusted folks. Who would have thunk it, eh?! So it is about time I gave back to them, and linked to their blogs with a little snippet of appreciation for their friendship and all their kind comments along the way.

My only regret is that since I began this journey so many have given up on the blog world and moved on. So for all of them, you are missed, and I hope all is well.

But for those who remain, he is a tribute to you.

Bridget (A.K.A. Helvidius Pachyderm). Her posts are always intelligent and well-researched, her comments witty and enjoyable, and her affect amiable yet strong-willed. She is the first name on this list because in quality her blog is tops, in quantity her posts consistent, and in personality she is exemplary of the kind of warm-hearted atheist who makes Capitalists look like a positive force in this world. And maybe it warms her atheist heart to know I hope God will bless her so abundantly she can’t help but reconsider her position on his existence.

Her only flaw? Well if I must think of one, it is that she doesn’t comment on my blog as often as I would like.

Neil. He is nothing less than a great man who has completed more good in this world than I have ever thought of attempting. His theology is consistent, his blog a welcoming atmosphere even to those who consistently disagree, and his actions exemplary of how a Christian man should conduct himself. Here’s to you Neil!

Diana. Indeed, she is a woman whose beauty is only excelled by the depth of her compassion and love for God’s creation. Her blog is a poignant look into the struggles and joys of a daughter of God.

My various political allies and friends include: Debbie, Matthew, CavMom, Angel, Tammi, Velvet Hammer, and others I’ve unfortunately forgotten.

My non-political friends include: Tammy, Abarclay, Rachel B., Isaac, PinksandBlues (three very beautiful women who run a business) and others I regretfully forgot.

Religious friends include: The Epiphinator (A marathon running, discipling, beauty), Kiki, Timothy, MLBAH, and others I regretfully forgot.

Weight loss friends include: Israel (a recent friend, but he admires my work so he is obviously a man of refined and exquisite tastes), Lady Rose, and many others who haven’t commented on this blog in a bit so I couldn’t find a link to their blog. See the benefit of commenting often!

And don’t forget to check this out

Create Goals, Engage Focus, and Gain Desire

Setting realistic goals isn’t just an exercise in penmanship. When you set goals you engage focus and gain desire. Without focus desires will run your life and send you in a thousand different directions- which usually amounts to going nowhere fast. You need goals to engage your focus, to center on that point on the horizon where you want to be. Your focus will breed desire to get to that point, to be that person, to live up to your potential.

How: Take today to create three goals, and harness your desires to become a better person.

Apply Honesty, Gain Perspective

Honesty usually isn’t hard when dealing with other people, but when dealing with our own actions and bad habits most have a habit of taking a less than honest approach. Too often we look at our failures and blame others, we look at our success and take all the credit. Can you be honest with yourself? If you can be honest with yourself, you will gain perspective. Perspective is the unique ability to look into your own life and see what you are doing right and wrong without resorting to the defense mechanisms of blame, excuse, and rationalizing.

How: Take some time at the end of the day and review your choices and decisions. Ferret out any excuses and rationalizations, assign blame or responsibility appropriately. Think about the causes and effects of your actions. In addition, find friends, family, and co-workers who have a vested interest in you and are willing to be honest with you.

Discover Core Values, Gain Traction

While your goals are limited and focused, you need to have core values that are open and broad in perspective. For example, while a good goal might be:

Lose 10lbs by September 30th, 2007,

a good core value might be:

To live a healthier lifestyle in how I eat, exercise, and how I handle stress.

Your core values create a checkpoint for future actions. Is that food something you want to eat? Should you be sitting on the couch or out running? Run these situations past your core values and you will find that you now have a light to guide your path. Core values and goals go hand in hand.

How: Look back on your life. What do you regret? What are your proud of? Find your core values and write them down, commit them to memory. Bring them together with your goals, and begin living a life with conscious direction.

This will be a new series similar to my old posts on patience and pride.  I still stand behind my old posts, but I think enough remains to be written that I won’t have to repeat myself.  Each day (if the Lord is willing and the schedule open) I will post on one of the below virtues.

Each post will follow the same rough outline.  I will identify a vice, name the virtue which can diminish that vice, and then list the benefits of that virtue.   It isn’t realistic to expect a total absence of vice in your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to let your vices control you.

And if you think virtues aren’t for you because you aren’t a religious person, think again.  These four virtues cut across all aspects of life: body, mind, and spirit.  For example, holding on to anger and refusal to forgive can cripple the spirit, preoccupy the mind, and have adverse health impacts on your body.

1. Flee Pride, Pursue Humility, Find Contentment

2. Flee Impulse, Pursue Patience, Find Calm

3. Flee Excuses, Pursue Honesty, Find Perspective

4. Flee Bitterness, Pursue Forgiveness, Find Peace

Whether it is finances or fitness, we often dig our own hole.  We dig it with one shovel full of dirt at a time.  We almost never see the whole until we are looking up and it seems we are so deep down that there is no possibility of escape.

The good news is, you can escape.  the bad news, it will take time.

We dug our bad debt hole over three years.  We started off in our marriage with four credit cards.  Each of us brought two cards with respectable balances (about 35%-40% of the max) into the marriage.

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I was originally going to title this post, “How to Leave Your Church.” However, the title fell far short of what I wanted this post to convey. While this post will address the right way to leave a church, this post is much bigger than that. I want to speak to our western world view and how it plays into our actions within the church and as a body of believers.

Take that phrase, “body of believers,” and think on it.

Paul refers to the “body” often in his various epistles. But can we understand what he means? Is our frame of reference able to comprehend the gravity of that word?

Living in a Constitutional Republic, each of us is accustomed to knowing and exercising our rights. Even those ignorant of the Constitutional specifics know that they have rights. Those rights don’t belong to certain groups, but to the people. They are individual rights that each member of society is capable of exercising without seeking permission or blessing. And while this has been a political blessing, it has also served as a spiritual curse.

As a result, we feel entitled even in the church setting to seek comfort, to go after what pleases us, and to find our own happiness. Just think of how many times you’ve heard the phrase, “How can I grow in Christ” compared with the phrase, “How can we grow together in Christ.” Sadly, church has become an individual exercise of weekly attendance. Where is submission? Where is sacrifice? Where are the shared burdens?

To make matters worse we use or freedom to avoid growth.

Too often, as members of the church we take offense, and instead of confronting our brother, we simply move on to another congregation. Instead of letting these kind of conflicts lead to stronger bonds of brotherhood and friendship, we seek the immediate comfort of avoidance. But in doing such you haven’t solved a problem, you have merely carried your own problem to another church- where it is destined to arise again at some point.

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“God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6: 7-9.

How often do we (to use a Covey phrase) begin with the end in mind? How much would our lives improve if we thought about the possible outcomes of our actions? Not just the big ones, but our daily attitude, perspective, and actions.

Too often we sow all kinds of harmful seeds without even realizing our actions. It might be harmful habits like smoking, unhealthy eating, and excessive drinking. These actions build up and snowball over time. But what will you sow?

A life of hard drinking can lead to small things at first, things like simple regret over saying the wrong thing. In the end, after a longer season, the results can be much worse- losing your family, home, and even your life. A life of over eating can at the least lead to sluggishness and poor self-image. But given long enough over eating can bring you to the horrors of clogged arteries, heart disease, etc.

You can change this though!

Start sowing new seeds today. Live a deliberate life, think out your choices, fully contemplate your actions. This is your choice; this is your life. Take control.

“…in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Life changes take one day to begin, and a lifetime to complete. But if you persevere you will reap a reward. If you change your unhealthy eating habits today, down the road you will reap a bountiful harvest.

Take my transformation challenge as an example. After only a week not only had my weight declined, but my resting heart rate and my blood pressure improved. In two weeks the drop in my resting heart rate and my blood pressure was significant. After a month I weighed was almost sixteen pounds less, and my waist was almost two inches smaller.

And now, here I am three months and two days later. When you see these numbers, don’t think of how far I’ve come, think of how much YOU COULD DO in just three months.

Weight then 206.3 lbs

Weight now 175.6 lbs

Waist then 41 1/2 inches

Waist now 36 inches

Body-fat Percentage then 27.8%

Body-far percentage now 19.7%

BMI then 29.7

BMI now 26.

I am not special in this regard. You can do this too. Just follow three simple steps.

  1. Visualize and write down your goals honestly and specifically.
  2. Start taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
  3. Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!

Change is difficult, change is hard on the nerves, and change is perhaps the single most important incentive to growth. Sometimes the only certain thing in our lives is change. We can encounter that change and cower in fear, we can simply roll with that change (letting it overpower us), or we can use that change to transform us for the better.

When I started this process in early February, I noticed a change in myself.

I had become intellectually lazy (I had almost stopped reading completely), I had become spiritually empty (my prayer life was practically dead), I had become financially lazy (engaged in a cycle of spending beyond our means on non-essential items), and of course I had become near hopelessly fat (my stomach jiggled when I brushed my teeth).

These things hadn’t happened over night. Each occurred gradually, the result of a long string of poor choices and bad decisions.

I took a look at myself that February day and said, “This need stop now.” I haven’t been perfect since then, I have spent money I shouldn’t have, missed bible study dates, and eaten deep fried food and calorie dense snack food. However, for the most part, 95% of how I live my life in all those areas has changed. Why did I do that?

Because I looked ahead and I saw an unwanted change coming. I looked to my financial future and I saw bankruptcy; I looked to my spiritual future and I saw the wide path that led to destruction; I looked to body’s future and saw heart attacks and diabetes. I didn’t like any of what I saw. So the choice was clear, wait for change, or begin the process of change (transformation) myself.

The process has been at times a bumpy road and at times quite difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I would advise anyone else seeking to transform their life that the change is worth it- the chance is worth it.

The Total Transformation Two-Week Challenge (Beginner)

How much could you change in two weeks if you REALLY applied yourself? How much could you change if you didn’t give in to temptation, if you pushed through obstacles, and if you went the extra mile? How much could you change if you didn’t just build your arms, but also your mind and spirit? Think about it!

Are you radically out of shape? Is your life not giving you the level of fulfillment you expect? Would you like to expand your mind, improve your body, and set your spirit free?

In this page I have attempted to present a two-week program- similar to the one I used in the beginning of my own transformation challenge. A program that benefits from the knowledge of my own mistakes and errors- mistakes made surprisingly frequently for a period of only two weeks.

In addition, you’ll find herein countless knowledge culled from years of reading insatiably about fitness and health. As always, consult a doctor before you begin any fitness regimen. I also must advise you that I am not a certified trainer and so my advice is that of a layman. That said, I hope in some small way that what I write will help you in your own fitness journey.

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As the events transpired not too far down the road from where I attended graduate school, I find it hard to remain silent. The headline today, “All Charges Dropped in Duke Case” is an indication that some justice has finally occurred in this horrible display of prosecutorial power abused.

This case has dredged up a lot of emotion since it first hit the news. Many found it hard to ignore. Sadly, it wasn’t because of any good evidence that would indicate that the accuser’s claims were truthful. Instead, the media ate up this story since it was a perfect story- a story of privilege vs. poverty, white vs. black, men vs. woman, powerful vs. powerless, etc.

A real problem has been exposed by this case. It is reported that the Duke players’ families have incurred a debt close to 3 million dollars for their respective sons’ legal defense fund. What of the boys who can’t afford the best lawyers? How many prosecutors like Nifong have steamrolled over innocent young men because they lacked the material resources to defend themselves?

In all their paroxysms over the guilt of these evil, rich, privileged white boys, the media forgot one very important thing. If they had been the opposite, if the accused were poor black kids, could they have received a fair trial? Most likely not. Why?

First, the media wouldn’t have even taken notice. The story wouldn’t have garnered much attention, since it didn’t fit the ideal narrative present in the Duke case. The media took notice because this case fell within a narrative framework that fits well in the weltanschauung of modern liberals. It is revealing that few in leadership positions at Duke and in the media were willing to consider the innocence of these young men when the accusation first surfaced.

Second, their attorneys would have been overworked and underpaid public defenders- juggling too many cases and without the necessary resources to confront a rogue prosecutor.

Third, the North Carolina system has almost no checks against this kind of prosecutor run amok, and without press coverage there would be little chance of getting anyone in power to act.

Foxnews has come out with an article on the accuser– Crystal Mangum. It indicates that she had a very troubled past. It is worth reading, as the article is highly informative and helped to explain some questions I had about why anyone would present these kind of false accusations.

What Lesson have we Learned?

Lesson One: God’s laws regarding sexual purity, moderation in alcohol, etc. are given for a reason. Had these young men not celebrated by hiring a stripper and consuming alcohol (excessively) this whole drama never would have occurred. While they are not responsible for her false charges, they are responsible for their own actions.

Lesson Two: People who describe themselves as “Victims’ Rights Advocates” have a severe hatred for the truth. They seem to be interested in one thing- proving the guilt of any accused individual. I am sure that even now many VRA’s will be condemning the A.G.’s actions and bemoaning how this case turned out.

For the life of me I can’t believe that there are people out there who believe (and I saw these words in print in reference to this case several months ago), “Women don’t lie about rape.” This kind of thing is really ridiculous, especially if you apply the Feminist perspective to the above statement. If women are mostly powerless, and they seek avenues to gain power, rape accusations present the perfect opportunity to be empowered. The female accuser in a rape case gets near unconditional support, no condemnation or criticism from those interviewing and counseling her, and a near blank check for future support and care. Of course as the case moves on the accuser might be rightly or wrongly maligned by the defense- but does this kind of thing really enter the mind of someone seeking immediate love and acceptance (or revenge)?

Lesson Three: Being restricted by a world view that paints all blacks as helpless victims, whites as privileged oppressors, and sets guilt or innocence based on the former categories is severely limited and biased. Our judgments in these matters can’t be based on broad categories that find support only in our own prejudices, but in facts and a reasoned approach to those facts. Whether it be local newspaper editorial section or the Group of 88, most were quick to convict these men before they were even charged, and punish them before they had even the slightest inkling of the facts. Worse yet, many have remained steadfast in their wrongful claim about these young men to this day.

I hope now these young men can begin putting their lives back together. I am glad they are lucky enough to have that chance. I pray for those who lack the same resources and who now sit inside a jail cell, righteously suffering a wrongful conviction. I also pray for the accuser, that her wounds (those wounds that led to this horrid accusation) might be healed, that she might be restored.

May God turn this to good for everyone involved, even Mike Nifong (after he receives his just punishment from his peers- the North Carolina Bar).

Real Inconvenient Truths, Camille Paglia.

“However, I am a skeptic about what is currently called global warming. I have been highly suspicious for years about the political agenda that has slowly accrued around this issue. As a lapsed Catholic, I detest dogma in any area. Too many of my fellow Democrats seem peculiarly credulous at the moment, as if, having ground down organized religion into nonjudgmental, feel-good therapy, they are hungry for visions of apocalypse. From my perspective, virtually all of the major claims about global warming and its causes still remain to be proved.” [1]

[Camille hit the nail on the head. Wow.]

Biblical Liberation from Liberalism, Michael Medved.

“Leviticus 19:15 declares: ‘You shall not commit a perversion of justice: you shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great, with righteousness shall you judge your fellow.’… …It should, indeed, come as a revelation and a rebuke to all liberals that Holy Scripture identifies ‘favoring the poor’ as ‘a perversion of justice.'” [1]

[The religious left has really taken off in the last few years. They are making sure that Gandhi Jesus will be enshrined forever as the uber-guru of peace and love for all. If you are lucky enough to get them to admit Jesus was God (and not simply a prophet or a great man), don’t even bother trying to get them to define concepts like justice and wrath- they are anathema to their ears. They have ignored God’s justice to focus on his love. Committing as grievous an error as the legalists they parody, who make the opposite mistake.]

Al Sharpton: Nappy Headed Race Ho?, Mike Adams.

“When the present controversy broke out, I was initially confused over which part of the phrase ‘nappy headed ho’ had set Sharpton off. After all, two years ago at one of my speeches I was called a ‘Little Milky’ by a Pakistani professor at Monmouth College in Illinois. Rather than calling for her to be fired, I just made fun of her in a very public way.” [2]

[Sharpton (and his ilk) want to exploit specific, politically beneficial cases of “racist” language. After all, something has to pay for the honorable Reverend’s jogging suits and bling*.

*For all my un-hip readers, unable to keep up with slang, the term “bling-bling” has dropped the second bling to become simply “bling”.]

The Culture of “Bitches, Hos, and Niggas”, Michelle Malkin.

“The No. 1 rap track is by a new sensation who goes by the name of “Mims.” The “song” is “This Is Why I’m Hot.” It has topped the charts for the last 15 weeks. Here’s a taste of the lyrics that young men and women are cranking up in their cars:

This is why I’m hot
Catch me on the block
Every other day
Another bitch another drop
16 bars, 24 pop
44 songs, nigga gimme what you got . . .
. . . We into big spinners
See my pimping never dragged
Find me wit’ different women that you niggas never had
For those who say they know me know I’m focused on ma cream
Player you come between you’d better focus on the beam
I keep it so mean the way you see me lean
And when I say I’m hot my nigga dis is what I mean.” [3]

[Where is the collective outrage about this garbage? Why do many academics teach classes on this garbage and defend it as a valid expression of ghetto angst? Where are the demonstrations and marches? I guess there is too much money involved for all- producers and performers alike.]

The Nancy Pelosi School of Freeland Diplomacy, Don Feder.

Hi, I’m Nancy Pelosi, and I’m not only speaker of the House of Representatives (my day job), I’m also the founder and president of The Nancy Pelosi Famously Inept School of Free-Lance Diplomacy.

We can give you the training and tools you need to become a famously inept free-lance diplomat – just like Jesse Jackson, Jimmy Carter and me!

You don’t have to be the president, secretary of state or an ambassador to engage in free-lance diplomacy. You don’t even need half a brain – as my recent trip to the Middle East demonstrates.

All that’s required is an entrenched naiveté, an unshakable faith in the good will of tyrants and terrorists and a dogmatic adherence to a leftist worldview. We can supply the rest — as well as teaching you how to say “pass the humus” in Arabic and Farsi. [4]

[Where do I sign up?]

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