How it all began…

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Reading Time: 2 minutes.

I woke up this morning with a pretty sore neck. Why? Because debates make my neck sore. Back and forth, back and forth no one ever seems to gain any ground. I wonder why that is sometimes? Last night Bill Nye (the Science Guy) debated Kevin Ham (CEO of the Creation Museum). It was an epic battle between two great minds and their thoughts surrounding naturalism/evolution and creationism; theories on how the world, and the universe came into existence. What did I expect to get from watching this three hour long debate? Did I truly believe that either of them really held the exact answer to how it all began? Did I believe that I would, somehow, become enlightened to the point were I could tell the world, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, how long it took to form the earth?

This is what I took from it:

(1) – To wholly believe one of the theories it requires having some level of faith in “observations” to prove your stance.

(2) – Either theory could be valid. Otherwise, we would not be taking the time to have a debate. People do not debate against ideas which do not have the potential of being valid. For example, would you ever argue against the fact that our eyes where created for any other purpose than to see? No, because it would not be worth the time and/or energy trying to convince someone else that they could in fact be used to taste or hear. Therefore, only valid arguments are worth the time and/or enegry it takes to debate. And regardless of your stance on either theory, you have to at the very least find some validity in the other to believe it is worth the time to try and disprove it.

(3) – Experience means a whole lot. If you have never read the Bible or asked God to reveal himself to you, how can you, with certainty, argue against it? In the same manner, if you have not fully explored the theories or naturalism/evolution, how can you confidently argue for creationism? Both require faith, but if you have not deliberately experienced the faith it takes to believe in both, then you have no place trying to discredit the other.

(4) – We have to understand and accept that interpretations will very on all sides. Variation begets faith. From the verification of the numerous scientific ways to uncover the ages of rocks (no pun intended), to the belief there was a great flood. On both sides of the fence, there are different interpretations and continued study towards finding out exactly what unwritten history looked like.

I will leave you with this thought. What was the main purpose behind each man’s reason for debate last night? From my interpretation it was this:

Bill Nye – To make sure America remained the leading country in science, technology, etc., and that local public schools (funded by taxpayer’s dollars) continued to teach naturalism/evolution so that children would develop to think “correctly” using “traditional scientific inquiry.” And to prove that Kevin Ham’s theory was “not valid.”

His journey in life is to try and discover and explain the magical mystery of where, when, why, and how logical thought and the first atom came to into existence.

Kevin Ham – To make sure children had the opportunity to explore and learn more than just the theory of naturalism/evolution.  To invite people to try and experience the faith he has in God, the Bible, and creationism. To try and show people that the debate between creationism and naturalism/evolution has been misguided.

His journey in life “on earth” is to share with others the experience of God, and actually discovering the magical mystery of where, when, why, and how logical thought and the first atom came into existence.

For what it is worth, my faith is in God for reasons beyond the various interpretations of Genesis. I am excited to see exactly how it all began after my time is done on Earth. Until then, it is fun to explore, study, and even validate the variations; it grows my faith and my mind.

Great debate! You can watch it here> http://debatelive.org

Be

W.R.B.

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Make the call and move on.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes.

We spend too much time worrying. Was the decision I made right, or was it wrong? Why are so often caught paralyzed in thought, unable to make a simple decision; Pepsi or Coke, Venti or Grande, Apple or Windows? I wish all our decisions were so minuscule. But this simple immobilization/indecisiveness bleeds into our bigger and more important decisions. Trends soon transform into behaviors, and behaviors/habits can be hard to break (as we all know). A common proverb that is often taken for granted:

“When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

When tough decisions come upon us it is the strongest that we rely on to stand up and make them confidently. Forget about being right or wrong and focus instead on moving forward. This is the leadership our nation so desperately needs. Make the call and move on.  If it was in fact the wrong call, hurdle the new obstacle and keep moving forward, at least you are moving. People respect and understand this. If they do not, then they get left behind. There will always be a few that are left behind, unfortunately (or fortunately) it is unavoidable. Why put everyone else in danger while you are waiting to make sure the decision is perfect for everyone?

In 2010, after I came back from my Iraq deployment, I found I had very little patience for anyone who took longer than 30 seconds to make a simple decision. Where are we going to eat tonight? When should we go shopping for milk? Brown rice or white rice, steak or chicken?  Budget cuts, taxes, or continuing resolution? Make up your mind, its been 29 seconds already!

While deployed, there was very little time to sit, ponder and worry. You made quick decisions because you had to, and if it was the wrong one, you embodied the lessons learned and moved on to the next decision 10 seconds later. We did not have time to sit around and contemplate our next Facebook post. We were both productive and extraordinarily innovative, solving problems left and right. Whether it was out of necessity or because of the operations tempo, it flat out worked. Your mind is a powerful machine when you keep it under the gun. It was like the wild west out there! I felt like I had an idea of what it was like to be like my great grandpap back when America was an industrious nation building quality skyscrapers, homes, roads and other local infrastructures at exponential rates; we were #1. There was no red-tape clogging up a stove-piped bureaucracy. We moved FORWARD in dynamic fashion.

Making quick decisions on the tactical things allowed us more time to think strategically on some of the more complex longer term problems we faced. It is interesting though, something I noticed was that even though we spent more time coming up with solutions for those strategic challenges, the time spent was a fraction of what it would normally take others, outside of that environment, to gin up a plan. We flourished in that environment.

Overtime the good ole’ USA, its general population, has become over saturated with too many diminutive decisions every minute of every day. The ability to choose from so many options has resulted in an incapacitated society which has lost the wherewithal to make tough decisions. We have handicapped our strong leaders for when the going gets tough.

The going is tough, worldwide, and we have essentially become numb to the consequences of our deficiency in leadership. It is a scary thought. Nevertheless, I will not worry nor be infirm. I am ready for the challenge. Let’s make a decision, and move forward together.

Be

W.R.B.

Against the Grain.

3-Innovation-Growth

Reading Time: 2 minutes. 

And no, I am not talking about the Paleo Diet. I am talking about doing what you know is right; not because everyone on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter is campaigning for or against it, but because your heart plainly knows it is right. Why waste your time convincing others you are right by posting it? Just pursue it, no reassurance needed from the peanuts in the gallery. And do not worry about if it is wrong. Sometimes what is wrong for one is wholly right for another. And doubt does not necessarily mean you are wrong, it could just mean you are still thinking; give it time. Oswald Chambers once said,

“When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is— drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.”

When you work hard at something, and by this, I mean truly put everything you have into it in an effort to be successful, there will always be someone or something else trying to derail you and the work you have accomplished. There will always be someone else with a alternate opinion, touting that they are more right or there is another way which is better, faster, smarter… They may even have more experience, credentials or a “better” education, do not let that put you off, instead, let it fuel you as the “underdog.”

It is not a bad place to be, that is, swimming up stream. It can be a good mental and physical workout, providing you with the endurance and tools necessary to continue on when the current becomes unpredictable. It will present you with obstacles others would have never faced while flowing effortlessly with the currents of convenience. I personally prefer the challenge. It is how we innovate and grow, and it is how we amaze, which is essential for our society.

But there is a problem in today’s society with following your heart and moving rapidly against the grain towards what you know is right; innovation and growth are quickly forgotten. Take a look around you, you will surely find that some of the most amazing things are the ones that have went against the grain but are now unfortunately taken for granted.

– If trees or mountains grew down (close to the ground like weeds and small hills), would they be as glorious to look at? God had them grow towards the sky so that we would be mystified.

– If airplanes and cars moved slow, would they be as exciting to operate and as efficient to travel in?

– If TV was once black and white with only 3 channels and not HD with 837 channels why are we still bored?

– If birds only crawled and salmon jumped down stream, you would probably be as impressed as you are currently with moles and goldfish.

– Or if all communication reverted back to being corded, would you be so content?  No more instantly tweeting or posting your latest SWAG, political review, or selfy.

It is the ordinarily extraordinary that we often take for granted and forget how truly amazing they still are. Does this mean all hard work is for not, only to be replaced and forgotten? No, it simply means one should never worry about what others think and continue to move forward with what is clear in our vision.

So stop worrying about what those around you think, it is inevitable that they will soon forget as they begin to focus on taking their next selfy (we are all guilty). Keep your inner vision clear and moving forward against the grain with what you know is right. Never give up, even though someday you too may fall into the ordinarily extraordinary category, as what you have done is topped by another who has successfully challenged the currents and cracked the peanuts.

As we are moving forward quickly, against the grain, I challenge you to never forget the ordinarily extraordinary.

Innovation is how we grow, it should not be how we forget.

Picture Source: http://thevaluesquad.com

Let us not forget the Brave.

Reading time: 1 min.

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Normally a post like this would be reserved for Memorial Day or the 4th of July, but it has been a trying couple of weeks for our US Military members and their families. Sadly, we have lost a number of Brave American leaders selflessly sacrificing all for the preservation of our freedom. Whether it was in combat, while training, or through an unexpected accident, personally, I have lost a number of close friends and acquintences since 2009. Every time our National Anthem plays, I stop and remember each of them, thank them for all they have done, and pray for their families who are often forgotten and not given the deserved respect for also serving selflessly in support of their Airmen, Solider, Sailor, or Marine. 

The death of a military member is often referred to as “the ultimate sacrifice,” and rightly so. There is something sacred about putting everything on the line to preserve the freedom which has meant so much to you, your family, your ancestors, and closest friends… Putting all of our differences aside and fighting for something which we all have taken for granted at least once in our lives.

It’s difficult for me to write any further on this topic, so I will leave you with the names of the service members close to me, in one way or another, that we have lost but not forgotten.

I encourage you to add more names in the comments section as a way to remember the Brave leaders that we all have lost so that we do not have to live in fear each day. 
Thank you

Capt. Victoria Pinckney

Capt. Mark T. Voss

TSgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III

1st Lt. Roslyn Littmann “Roz” Schulte

Capt. Mark Russell McDowell

1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton 

Capt. Christopher Stover

Capt. Sean M. Ruane

TSgt. Dale E. Mathews

Capt. David Lyon

Maj. Lucas Gruenther

Capt. James Steel

Sanctity and a College Degree.

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Reading time: 2 minutes.

When did church become a business? Or maybe the right question to ask is, when in history has church not been a business? It seems churches today are being thrust into the ground by leadership that are not qualified to run businesses, and our money (offerings) are going along with them. When we pull back the sheets, we find toxic leaders who have no applicable qualifications in business/financial management. Frankly the “business side” of running a church should not be the business of the Clergy. Billions of dollars each year are poured into the ministry only to be managed by the very people who often have issues managing their own personal finances. Additionally, it seems that the focus of the church has shifted towards appearance and appeal, investing in ways to market/sell God in hopes to increase attendance rather than creating a place reserved for fellowship, worship, and prayer.  Why are we allowing this to happen?

We close our eyes to what happens behind the “green curtain,” scared of what we could find. Could it be as shocking as what was revealed to Dorothy? A bumbling man with an inferiority complex?

Frankly, I believe we feel safer and happier having faith that God will take care of the details. But is that enough? Where does our responsibility lie in regards to the church? While our lives pass by who is taking care of the people who have chosen to sacrifice all to serve us (the church’s body) and God unconditionally? Here is what I believe to be the crux of the issue: 

Somewhere along the way it become “required” for a Pastor to have a college degree. If a Pastor would like to advance in the “ranks,” it is common for them to be required to have an advanced degree (i.e., a Masters in Theology or PhD in a similar field). Has anyone ever stopped to consider that degrees cost money? Where are Pastors getting the money from? They come out of college with a “Private School” degree, costing $25K per year (on the low end), hoping to score an Associate/Youth Pastor position. These jobs pay on average under $44K per year (http://www.uscongregations.org/survey-associate-pastors.htm), leaving the new pastor with a load of debt, taking upwards of 12-15 years to pay back. Relatively speaking this may be close to the same situation that someone coming out of their undergrad with a business degree is in. That being said, there are some fundamental issues here:

– Managing the burden of personnel debt and leading a church is NOT a good combination; one is now in the service of two masters.  Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (NIV)

– Having to pay for and get a degree to be “credentialed” in something God has called us ALL to, is a lie. Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

Today, many Pastors are finding themselves in a perpetual state of debt/darkness chasing after a piece of paper. When will the congregation stand up and decide to put an end to the glorification of a college degree and put more emphasis on the sanctity of the Clergy which comes through apprenticeship, personal study, and an unyielding devotion to God? We need to realize that we (the church’s body) are fueling all the institutions that are in the business of making money off of Pastors “in training,” leaving the ones in which we look to for spiritual guidance under a load of stress and burden, unable to lead effectively. Also, when will the business leaders in attendance at church chose to stand up to help run the church be diligent in the way in which we apply our offerings and manage/lead the organization? If the church continues down the path it is on, it will continue to lose any of the credibility which it has gained, in turn, doing a disservice to God who was never in the business of “doing business” in the church in the first place.

Matthew 21:12 reveals,  “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” 13 It is written, he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”

We can only blame ourselves for the current state of the church. It needs a facelift, and I believe we are wholly responsible for the direction in which it will go in the future. But to get it headed in the right direction we have to first and foremost appropriately prepare and care of those that God has chosen to lead His congregation. They cannot lead effectively while in the service two masters, and while trying to accomplish things in which God has clearly called others in the congregation to help with.

Find your Cupola.

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Reading time: 2 minutes.

I have never been in a Cupola. Not too long ago, my 93 year old grandmother was telling me a story about an old 1800’s home she had lived in when she was just a little girl. When it stormed she and her siblings would run up to the cupola, lay flat on their stomachs, and look out the small windows of glass just to get a glimpse of the lightening out on the horizon. Thunder crashing all around they only thing they feared was their father finding out they had left the comfort of their warm beds to sneak up past the attic in the middle of the night.
Today that old farm house has been forgotten, left to slowly decay back into the earth from which it came. With it, everything will go, even the memories. The awe and wonder of what can now be substituted with the present day equivalent, an HD IMAX film, gone.

I have been in many churches all around the world. Countries like Italy, Peru, Panama, Brazil, South Korea, Germany, and others all have ornate churches with some of the most incredible Cupolas ever built. Painted with the most vibrant colors to recreate beautiful landscapes, endless skies, and holy figures. Tilting my head back, I am always dizzied in amazement when looking upon the timeless art. Nothing compares to it.
Today we are so over stimulated by the technology that surrounds us we have almost forgotten what is truly feels like to be filled with true awestruck wonder. We seek out what I like to call temporary fixes, never to truly realize the depths of our soul’s desires; we are over saturated, clogging up our pores with the cold greenish-brown muck you find between your toes while standing in a lake rather than the fine warm white sand you feel trickle past your feet as you listen to ocean waves crash all around you.

To feel the way my grandmother felt as a little girl, we have to stop and listen. Not to the noise of our busy lives passing us by, but instead to the noise the wind makes as it passes through a trees branches, the rain as it hits the tall grass in an empty field, or the sound a river makes as it flows uninterrupted along the smooth rock-bed beneath it. We have to find our cupola and let it do for us and our souls what it was designed to do in the homes, barns, and churches in which they were once built. The fear, excitement, and adventure of climbing to the highest point around, breathing in the fresh air, and feeling light’s warmth revive you will create within you something that you will carry with you until the time is right time to pass it on.

SRG

– Be Wise. Rugged. Brave.

Power is in our DNA

Reading time: 2 minutes.

It seems senseless, but I am addicted to knives, yet I hardly ever cut anything with the ones I own. An apple from time to time finds itself under the close concentration of my blade, but that is about it. I carry one with me daily as if I am anticipating a future scuffle with some 1950’s greaser or a restless bear walking down main street Hudson, MA. Who knows, I may need that 3 1/2 inches of cold steel to slice into an unyielding bag of chips in an effort to feed my [starving] family. I may fall under the same paradox many other men are under who own a lot of guns. Basement armories, with a light dust sheet covering the stocks of their prized lever action Winchester 30-30’s (it’s how the West was won). What are we preparing for? What are we scared of? Or maybe it has nothing to do with preparation or fear, only an appreciation for the simplistic beauty in something which yields so much power.

I believe there is something inside us all which causes us to want to feel more powerful. I doubt anyone wakes up in the morning and says, “I want to feel weak today.” The act of quenching the power thirst comes in many forms. For men, it may be increasing our physical strength, purchasing weapons to hold or hunt with, gaining more responsibility in our occupations, driving behind the wheel of a big truck, fast car or motorcycle, earning a bigger pay check, eating a 16oz steak, or winning some sort of competition. Power is in our DNA.

It is all a facade, an attempt to cover up what is really within us, a hunger for love. Why is it that the outward presentation of and inward desire for power comes easier than the presentation of, and willingness to draw closer to love and compassion? I will be the first to admit it, even now as I write about being powerful and owning a nice set of cutlery, there is a cat sitting in my lap. Priceless.

The bottom line: One becomes the most powerful when they finally realize they are weak and can not go at it alone. Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Rather than exhausting resources on equipping ourselves with the temporal for power, look instead to expend love and compassion to those around you. Encouraging and empower them to be Warriors (metaphorically)  instead of focusing all your energy on building up oneself. When push comes to shove it will be those individuals who rally around you and carry you to a place of power in which you would have never been able to realize on your own. You can stop hiding behind your armory (or knife collection in my case) and build an army. Proverbs 27:17: Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

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