Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Influence of Evil (Part 3 of 3)

After two weeks discussing the presence and the role of evil in our world, it’s time to wrap up. This week I’m going to conclude with a discussion of what God has given us to combat the evil that is present.

Despite the evil that exists in our world, the Bible says that God keeps it from unraveling.

So, for now, God allows evil to be unleashed while keeping it in check so He can fulfill the plan He has for all ages— and until He establishes His eternal reign after the defeat of evil and all evildoers.

Even now, even with free will, God is actively doing something about evil.

He’s given us the church. The presence of believers and churches restrain evil. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus commissions Peter to be the ‘rock’ of the church, a church that will not be overcome by the influence of sin and evil.

We’ve also been given the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:1-6). The Holy Spirit guides us and acts within Christians. We also have our consciences and our concern for our reputation and friendships. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:23-25 to seek the good of others and not only ourselves. God has given us a conscience and a community to restrain the influence of evil in our lives.

We’ve also been given external structures and influences to act against evil. First, God has given us the governmental structures to create laws and regulate people’s actions. God tells us to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). He has also established our family units to bring stability into our communities. Parents discipline their children and promote Godly influences in their lives (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13).

Finally, God has given us His Word (Psalm 119). Studying and learning God’s Word is a shield against the influence of evil and the work of Satan.

Over thee past three weeks, we’ve discussed the influence and spread of evil, how evil exists under the sovereignty of a good and powerful God, and how God works to restrain evil. I hope you have grown in an understanding of evil and its role in our world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Influence of Evil (Part 2 of 3)

We’ve seen a lot of death, pain, suffering, and evil in our world during the last few years, so today I want to address a few questions having to do with evil, pain and suffering— questions that, I believe, all ‘thinking’ people ask.

First, I want to help us understand evil—

The reality of “evil” isn’t something that has its own existence... but it is a corruption of something that already exists. Evil is like rot, decay, or rust. Rot can only exist as long as the rotting thing exists. Rust isn’t something in and of itself– it doesn’t have its own existence... it exists because there is something ‘to’ rust. Decay only occurs ON something.

So evil is like rot, rust, or decay: it feeds on & corrupts that which is good.

So that’s what evil is... and I explained last week that though ‘evil’ lay dormant and latent until it was unleashed at the Fall of Humanity in our world. When humankind made the willful, deliberate and conscious decision to disobey God and His Commands, evil entered real time and was unleashed against all of the created cosmos.

When we discuss evil, there are three issues we must deal with: God’s goodness, God’s power, and evil itself.

When we talk about all the entailments of evil, we begin to ask ourselves about God’s goodness, like “If God is good, why would He let this happen?” But we also begin to ask questions about God’s power. “If God is all-powerful, why won’t He stop this from happening?”

God isn’t finite or powerless against evil.

The fact is that God is able to do something about evil. God is all powerful. But the fact is that God’s timing isn’t always human timing. (As we see when Jesus allowed his friend Lazarus to die, read John 11). The fact that God hasn’t yet defeated evil doesn’t mean He isn’t going to or isn’t able to.

God and the existence of evil is not a contradiction.

Most people either decide, because the world has such problems, that either GOD DOESN’T EXIST or that He can’t do anything about it or isn’t a good God. All of these are wrong answers.

God allows evil and that means that He has allowed it to become a part of His ultimate plan. It wasn’t originally that way, but because of human rebellion, God allows it to exist, as it was ushered into existence through free-will and angelic/human agency (choice). And because God is sovereign, He is able to let it exist and still oversee His purposes and plans for the universe and all its peoples, without contradicting Him.

So the POINT of evil’s existence is that the ONLY WAY for people to have free will or a choice in anything is for people to have the possibility of making a WRONG “choice.” If you don’t have the opportunity to make a ‘wrong’ choice, then it’s not a choice at all, and you aren’t free.

‘Choice’ is a real thing and it has REAL consequences. God didn’t create ‘choice’ and free will and it not MEAN anything. No– when we do something wrong, there are REAL consequences. And real ramifications occur– and that is the tragedy of evil.. That people do it anyway... but free will is the only way that people can show true love– and that goes for human relationships with one another, as well as our relationship with God.

What is God’s ultimate purpose in allowing evil?
C.S. Lewis reminds us that the God-given freedom of choice and human sin didn’t take God by surprise: "And God knew, in His ultimate wisdom, that He could allow a world of free creatures and, even though they fell, He could work out a deeper happiness and fuller splendor than an automatic world would produce."

If God is to preserve freedom and to defeat evil, this is the best way to do it. Free will allows each person to determine his own destiny. But ultimately, God will separate evil from Himself and those who want to do good. That’s when evil will be overcome because God will confine those who choose sin to live in sin, and sin will cease its harm and will be eternally quarantined— unable to upset the perfect world that is to come (heaven).

The result: The goal of a perfect world comes about... and people still had a free will to make their decision and choose their destiny, and those who abused the freedom and harmed people will be cast out of the perfect world they didn’t want to be a part of.

So, it’s not that this current world is a perfect world, but now that we spoiled it, it’s the best way TO a perfect world.

So, one day evil will be done away with— and time continues to unfold until that day.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Influence of Evil (Part 1 of 3)

Evil is obviously present in the world, seen in murder, child abuse, terrorism, and natural disasters. Many Christians and non-Christians don't understand why evil is present in the world. What's important for Christians to remember is:

None of this was originally supposed to happen.

God created the world ‘good’— everything that was created God considered “good,” and that word actually means ‘perfect’ (Genesis 1:102; 31). The world was a world of goodness, harmony, vitality, hope– even ‘bliss,’

In Genesis 3, we read of the Fall. Adam and Eve were innocent, not perfect, and The Fall was a volitional, willful, deliberate act of Adam and Eve to break God’s command– and to do that which was forbidden. Giving in to temptation, they rationalized their desires, justified their behavior in their own eyes, and did what they wanted to do. The Fall occurred as a result... it set into motion ruin, spoil, contamination, corruption— and every human evil and disposition that there is. Each is cursed for playing a role in what happened (Genesis 3:16ff)

The effects of the Fall were: a broken relationship between God and humanity, strained relationships between human beings, and the injection of evil into the world. This caused disorder, loneliness, heart disease, physical problems, pain, aging, death, corruption.. Entered the cosmos (the world God created and everything in it)

The Fall Resulted in The Curse... which unleashed EVIL on a cosmic/global and a personal scale. The sin of Adam was like turning a lock and opening the door for the spoiling of the universe and all humanity.

Evil had three expressions: bad things or evil as a direct consequence of deliberate human choice (making a decision to do something bad– killing someone), as an indirect consequence of non-deliberate human choice (unintentional killings and lesser situations; things going wrong even though people didn’t mean to do things wrong), and bad things ‘just going wrong’ without any humans being involved (natural disasters).

All of these things are effects/consequences of the Fall or “Expressions of the Curse”

Jesus came to address the problem of Evil. He did so by attacking and defeating ‘sin.’ He did this through giving his life on a hill called Calvary on the cross of crucifixion. When He did that, he won the war, but now all things must unfold to that great end of the age— as He continues to work out His plan on earth. The Bible (end of time/beginning of eternity) ends with the destruction of the Curse— and the resolution of all human pain and suffering forever– UNDOING THE EFFECTS OF SIN.

God does not introduce evil into the world, it entered through the Fall, through our sin. When Jesus returns, the effects of sin will finally end. God will come to judge and to undo the effects of sin.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ideas as Truth

Ideas have consequences. The statement seems self-explanatory, but the real and deep impact of ideas reaches into culture, changing the minds of people and the way that they think. Many Christians fail to recognize the impact that secular ideas have had on our own worldviews.

Richard Weaver wrote a book around 1950 entitled "Ideas have Consequences." In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul urges Timothy to avoid ‘worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge.’ That implies that whether an idea is true or not is immaterial to the consequences it can have in the world and upon society.

The power of ideas is self-evident:

Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Nietzsche influenced Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Hitler took Neitzche’s book and distributed it to all of his SS brigade and to Benito Mussolini, and it influenced Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf.

Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species influenced all of Western Culture, more perhaps than nearly any book besides the Holy Bible. Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital, which influenced and shaped many of the world’s political systems for nearly a century and he, in turn, was so influenced by the writings of Charles Darwin that he wanted to dedicate the English version of Das Kapital to Darwin, though the offer was rejected
Books written in one century sometimes redefine life in the next.

It’s all about ideas.

The New Testament is certainly an example, but so is Thus Spake Zarathustra, which arguably has influenced our culture and the thinkers of our culture more than virtually any other in the twentieth century, though it was penned during Neitzche’s lifetime of 1844-1900, sometime before his entry into an asylum.

Christians, in our churches, have a great disregard and even distaste for theology and her handmaiden, philosophy– In fact, the very phrase “worldview” is unknown to many pewsitters. Christians in church pews haven’t been taught the importance of ideas and even regard them as irrelevant. All the while, their worldviews are being shaped by everything they see, hear and read– and many of them don’t even know it. Moreover, there is a pervading anti-intellectualism that exists in the church and a resultant dumbing down of believers as most have retreated from the battlefield of ideas– not to mention having long-ago retreated from any serious ventures into the Word of God.

We have a responsibility, as those who have been called out, to be guardians of the truth– contending earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Many of our leaders (in churches, etc.) have not taken seriously or have shirked their own responsibility in this area and the current condition of local church congregations are the result of that irresponsibility.

We must honor the Great Commandment and love God, not only emotively, but with our minds. Romans 12:2 says that the starting point for the believer’s sanctification (of transformation) is to renew his mind.

As Christian educators, we must lead the way and help people recognize the impact of ideas and in doing so, cultivate a hunger for truth in those we teach by engaging both the heart and mind.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God's Modus Operandi (Part 5 of 5)

God reveals His will to us in several different ways. We need not be confused about hearing His voice, as it comes through several different avenues.

I've spent four weeks building a foundation for how to know God's will, focusing on ten keys to understand how God works in our lives and in the world. This week, I'll conclude this series in talking about how we can hear God's voice.

We must learn how to see God at work if we are to cooperate with His will. God isn't illogical. He generally, most of the time, works within our realm of understanding. When you're trying to discern God's will, use your brain. THINK. Use pro-con lists. Study. Read. Think deeply. Meditate. Put two and two together. God can also speak through your five senses. What you see may be what He wants you to know. What you hear may be what He is telling you to do. The senses send data to the heart and mind and through those stimuli, God often speaks to us by allowing our minds and consciences to react and give us important feedback.

God can also speak through our intuition and instincts. At times, you may just have an inner awareness, an inner knowing, that resonates and gives you the needed impression of what to do. Your intuition and instincts should not be your first consideration. Don't live and make all decisions based on feelings, because they can be unreliable. Your conscience is another internal guiding system Go can speak through. You conscience is not the same as the Holy Spirit's guidance, because it can be corrupted or seared. Still, God can use it in the lives of Christians and non-Christians.

Outside of yourself, God also speaks through other Christians and through His Word. God may send a message through your pastor, the counsel of others, and messages or sermons. Most of us disregard these sources and don't listen very well. Consistent study of the Bible finds its way into our thinking patterns and Truth regenerates and renews he mind day by day. The Bible may not have one specific verse that peaks directly on every issue of life, but over time you will develop Godly wisdom. You must UNDERSTAND His Word properly AND apply it properly. Tagging Bible verses on your decisions and baptizing your actions isn’t what I’m talking about. It’s being responsible with scriptural truth (2 Timothy 3:16).

Finally, God speaks through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and can use the consequences of your actions to teach you. The Holy Spirit's voice may not wave a huge banner in your face, but you can still hear it through prayer and through silence. Consequences are the last in this list because they are the method of God speaking to look to last. Satan can also influence circumstances, so looking at these external things can be very unreliable.

So...what do you need to do differently so that God can work greater things in your life?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

God's Modus Operandi (Part 4 of 5)

As we saw last week, sin plays a significant role in our understanding of how God works. While sin does distort our spirit and soul, we are not beyond His will. God does not dismiss you because of your sin or sinful nature.

You can still understand how God works and should see to understand Him and know His will. These last three keys will complete the foundation of understanding how God works.

First, despite even significant errors in judgment and sinful choices on our part, God still isn't finished with you. Look through your Bible and you'll find countless stories of men and women who have sinned significantly and still been used by God, such as Samson, David, and Elijah.

We may have detours and some may limit our overall effectiveness. We may not be as great later as before, but some of these have a greater influence later.

Secondly, God intends for you to learn from your mistakes and may possibly even do greater things through you than you may have done without them. It took Saul's and Moses' murder of others for God to turn them around...and He used them more after the fact than before.

Will you lay aside the past (good OR bad) and press on towards the mark?

Finally, sometimes forfeiting God's will means you must forfeit some thing or freedoms you hold dear. It may cost you dearly to follow God, to seek Him and His will, but the riches are inestimable.

The riches and rewards of following God's will are more than we could imagine, just as Hi will is greater than what we imagine. Sin may derail us from God's will, but it may also be the avenue He uses to turn us towards Him.

These ten keys we've discussed over the past three weeks are the foundation for knowing God's will. They are necessary to understand if one is to know and do God's will.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God's Modus Operandi (Part 3 of 5)

Last week, we looked at three keys to understanding how God works. We learned that God has a plan for your life and for mine and that He can and wants to work in your life.

This week, we'll discuss four further keys which are also necessary to understand God's will.

First, sin can keep you from discerning God's will for your life. Sin distorts the mind and psyche. It affects all parts of your soul and spirit. Spiritually, your spirit grieves or quenches the Holy Spirit when in sin (Ephesians 4:30).

Your soul, made up of your mind, will, and emotions, is also deeply affected by sin. Your thinking is messed up because it has been conformed to the world and not transformed by the work and will of God (Romans 12:2). Your will is bent on choosing something other than God's will. Your emotions have loyalties to your own will and to your own pleasure and are influenced by the sensations of the body.

Sin keeps you from discernment. Until you get rid of it, you can’t be sure about God’s direction most of the time.

Second, part of God's will is absolute and part of it is conditional. Salvation is absolute. If you're saved, God will keep you and has determined that He will do what's necessary to clean up your life (Romans 8:30; Philippians 1:6). God has open this door which no man can shut. If God wants it to come to pass, Heaven and Hell have to stand down at His authority (Revelation 3:7-8).

You’re not entitled to anything: a great job, a happy marriage, healthy kids, financial independence, etc., none of it is promised to you. Don’t expect a spiritual handout. Work as if it all depends on you; pray as if it all depends on God– and trust Him for the results.

Third, if you don't follow God's will, someone else surely will and they'll receive what God intended for you. Just look at the life of Moses. When Moses disobeyed, Joshua received the blessing of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Parable of the Talents also shows this (Matthew 25:14ff). He who has much, even more will be given.

There are no passes. Obedience is what He blesses. I don’t want the blessings of God to pass me by because of unfaithfulness on my part. That would be too painful.

It’s been said that there are stockpiled riches in Heaven that are unclaimed blessings that are left behind because of Christians’ unfaithfulness. Don’t let it be said of you.

Fourth, those faithful with the opportunities God gives them will receive grater blessings in the future. In Mathew 25, we see that God's blessings pile up, they don't get exhausted. What God is saying about His blessings: “There’s PLENTY more where that came from.”

He who is faithful in little will be made faithful in much… greater responsibilities and greater privileges (Luke 16:10-12). It’s your choice– will you choose to be responsible with what little or much you have? Most people are content to be a daddy’s boy. Don’t live on your parents' prestige.

God intends blessing for you, but sin often distorts our perception of God's working. If we fail to follow God's will, He will bless others instead. Understanding God's good intentions for you as well as His command that you follow His will are mandatory to hearing His voice and hearing His will for your life.

Next week, we'll look at three final keys to understanding how God works. These ten keys total are the foundation to knowing God's will. Grasping these keys will show how God works in your life to reveal His will for you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ten Tips on Blogging (or Starting a Blog)

So, you want to start a blog?

I think that's a great idea-- but make sure you know the basics before you start. You don't want to lose credibility with those who think highly of you and are interested in what's on your mind by making freshman mistakes.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind about beginning blogging.

1. Start with the right blog provider and the right address and blog name. Create an easy-to-remember web address (name.wordpress.com or similar). Also, keep in mind that the various blog sites all have different styles and probably attract different types of people.

2. Find your voice (you should identify what all you will discuss on your blog, and be diverse enough for it not to be too vanilla and so it also won't be too broad);

3. Provide good content (have something to say) consistently-- without that, you won't have a consistent readership;

4. Map out a blogging strategy (frequency of writing- how often you'll write, a content schedule-- like a preaching calendar... including series and topics scheduled out- mine is currently scheduled weekly through next October already);

5. Always write well, using good grammar, compelling vocabulary, never any type-o's, using catchy images and blog titles;

6. Adjust your writing to hit the target with your readers, while still being true to yourself. Regularly check your viewing stats on Word Press so you can keep track of what's working and what isn't with your readers;

7. Don't start if you won't keep going. I'd suggest doing 5-10 good blogs before you even launch it, to see how serious you are. If you can't do that, you won't continue to do blogs or quality posts in 4 weeks-- begin, schedule future ones you're writing for the weeks to come, then keep writing behind the scenes, so you have a little grace period if you get behind on your writing schedule;

8. Promote your blog using tools you have through social networking;

9. Do a 2 for 1: Blog and Pod the same content-- since the hard work is already done (creating the content). Consider creating a cooresponding podcast that 'speaks' your current blogs on podcast, so you can double your audience-- different groups of people do podcasts v. blogs, so that's two for your time if you do both... I do that sometimes, but plan to ramp it back up and continue;

10. Consider Team Blogging. If you think this could be more of a fad interest than one with staying power, consider team blogging with others. The bad news is that it lessens your personal visibility when on a team, if that's an interest of yours-- but the good news is that the team effort gives synergy. In addition to my personal blog, for example, I'll soon be blogging on my seminary's blog (a new blog being started by Talbot School of Theology). So I'll be on BOTH a team blog and have my own personal blog too.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Treat it like a ministry and not a casual interest, and it'll make waves. But keep in mind that it takes time to reach a readership... Don't expect lots of people to RSS feed it (subscribe) at first, as many readers will visit it when you post and let them know, rather than be groupies.

Best wishes on your blogging. People want to hear what you have to say!

Did Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert "Restore Sanity" on Saturday?

What a Saturday...

The Mall at Washington became immortalized when MLK Jr. gave his stirring "I Have a Dream" speech decades ago. On Saturday, October 30, another throng of people bunched to be heard, led this time by Comedy Central gagsters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Far from the dignity of MLK (and even that of the more recent Restore America rally led by conservative icons Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin) was this charade of political concern led by these two adolescent-acting men. At the event on Saturday, Colbert was dressed as a type of Captain America character whose get-up looked more like Evel Knievel than the cartoon hero. Seeing Colbert in the ridiculous costume, one could hardly resist the temptation to imagining the powerful image of Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood and spoke in the same spot. There is absolutely no comparison. The Colbert-Stewart presence was farcical and dumbing-- an irreverent and irrelevant blip on the radar of time that will cause history to castigate them just as they have castigated history.

Colbert. Keep in mind that these are the same two men who continue to lessen and minimize the stature of the federal government and the body politic of the United States. Colbert, on the one hand, sat before Congress recently and rather than reading his presented report, made a mockery of the government by appearing in character and demeaning immigrant workers and scandalizing entire people groups for his own self-esteem. That same act would have one publically shot in some countries-- for simply making a mockery of the government.

Stewart. Then there is Jon Stewart. A populist hero to the hipster crowd of 20 and 30 somethings still living with their parents while working McJobs, he insulted the President and the office the President holds by referring to Mr. Obama as "dude." I'm unsure why Barack Obama would ever lower himself to appear on the Comedy Channel and become the butt of Stewart's jokes, but it was a new low in U.S. Politics- made lower by Stewart's lack of decorum and complete distaste and disregard for the man and the office he holds.

The Rally Itself

At the weekend rally, one saw signs of Stewart appearing in a type of "Uncle Sam" poster where the venerated and sobering figure imposes his will on American would-be recruits, saying "I want you" for U.S. Army. Instead of that stately call to service, Stewart is seen posed with both hands limp and raised in a "Whatever" shrug, simply encouraging Americans to "take it down a notch." Sadly, Stewart misses the point by confusing the high volume of dissent in our nation for 'noise' that should be silenced.

On stage, the two men looked more like the Teller-Penn comic duo than men leading several hundreds of thousands of people in a rally. It was, sort of like the Seinfeld show, a rally about nothing. Rather than rousing the crowd with "shoulds and oughts" concerning citizenship and duty, the reportedly half-drunk/half-stoned crowd offered only occasional chuckles at the men making mockeries of the institution that stood behind them in the image of the U.S. Capital Building. In fact, from news clips seen on national television, the strongest messages sent from members of the crowd seemed to be about the legalization of marijuana-- not the recession, not unemployment, not the broken financial system, not illegal immigration, and not the mortgage crisis. No, the primary and pressing issue on many attendees' minds was their perceived right to possess pot.

So, though there were no clear and scientific bases on which to judge the success of the Stewart-Colbert rally the day before Reformation Sunday, it seems that they feel woefully short of their intent to "restore sanity" as the gig was billed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

God's Modus Operandi (Part 2 of 5)

Many Christians worry and wonder why they can't discern the Will of God and hear the Voice of God. One of the main reasons Christians can't discern the will of God is because they don't understand how God works-- they don't "get" His M.O., God's mode of operation.

The next three parts of this series will focus on understanding the way that God works before seeking to understand God's will. The reason for thinking this way is that many Christians obsess about God's will without thinking about "how God works" in the first place. Growing in discernment of God's will requires learning more about God and how He works in our lives today.

So, what truths do you need to understand about God's Modus Operandi?

First, recognize that God has an ideal plan for your life. I don’t want to get into the "God's 'perfect, permissible, prohibited' will” kind of talk here, as if God technically has two or three choices for your life (Plan A, B or C), because something strikes me as somewhat unrealistic or at least confusing about that. But, however you slide it, God absolutely has a plan for you and your life.

Read Jer. 29:11-13. This passage tells us that God knows the plan, and that it’s a plan for good, not evil. Plans, that if we participate with them, are to give us a hope and a future. You won’t find His closest intimacy and Will unless you seek Him with your whole heart.

Secondly, God wants to do infinitely more in a person's life than that person will usually allow Him to do. Read Ephesians 3:20; The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God is able do immeasurably more than anything you could ever ask for, more than your wildest imaginations could dream up. It’s not that God doesn’t want to work mightily in your life, it’s that you won’t let Him… or that you’re not doing what is necessary for that to come to pass.

You don’t get put on the spiritual shelf unless you choose to be– I think that, for 15 months as a young Christian, I was "on the shelf." I wouldn’t go forward with Him– so He was finished with me until I gave Him more of me. It’s not that you ever get more of God.. It’s that He gets more of you.

Thirdly, God wants you to know and obey His will for your life. God doesn’t want His Will for you to be a secret. But, then again, He won’t cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). He knows if you’re ready to go to the next level, and He won’t tell you that next step unless you really are. If the answer in your heart is not a constant “yes” then I wouldn’t expect Him to show you His plan… If you aren’t going to obey His Will or want to look it over before doing it, then you’re not ready for prime time.

Keeping these first three keys in mind is vital in understanding God's will for Your own life. First, that God has a plan, an ideal plan, specifically for you. Second, that God can and desires to do more with you than you could dream of. If God's not working with you, examine your own attitudes toward Him; God can work mightily in Your life. And thirdly, God wants you to know His will. He's not trying to keep it a secret, but He does know if you're ready to take the next step and won't let you take it unless you are.

God can and wants to work in your life, in great ways. In our next blog, we'll discuss four more keys to understanding how God works.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God's Modus Operandi (Part 1 of 5)

A major source of anxiety for many Christians today is how to know and do the will of God.

How can I know what God really wants me to do? How do I seek and follow His will?

Understanding God's Modus Operandi is a vital foundation for discerning His purpose and will for your life. Modus Operandi, Latin for "mode of operation" refers to the way God works; how He operates. When you know the ways of God, meaning the template on which He restricts Himself, you begin to put the pieces of reality together and understand His workings.

Then you can begin to really understand how God works and begin to make serious spiritual impact.

It's been said that the problem with human life isn't that it makes perfect sense or even that it doesn't make sense at all; it's that it almost makes sense. With the conflicting factors of grace and mercy, free will and the effects of the Fall...how life should be and how we think life should be always miss the mark of how life actually is.

Most People Are Confused by God and by Life. Here's Why.

Unless you know the ways of God (Psalm 95:10) and not just see His works or actions– you’ll constantly be confused by life. And... confused by God, too.

God's ways are evidenced by His actions, but His ways are more than merely His actions. God's actions evidence His character and framework of operations, but His actions are not the equivalent of His ways.

God never intended for us to live in fear and doubt, feeling pressured to make a decision or postponing until the moment of opportunity is passed. That's not what He intended... but that's how many people choose to live-- be it due to ignorance or deliberately. In truth, God intended that His followers would be able distinguish between God's voice, their own voice, and the voice of Satan. Discernment in this takes time getting to know God and developing knowledge of God’s Word and how God works.

This series will address God's ways before addressing how to hear and discern God's will. Understanding God's ways and how He works is foundational to being able to discern His will for your life.

Are you ready to better understand God? Good. Let's roll.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Lifestyle Choice" Is a No-No For Describing the Gay Lifestyle

Well, Valerie Jarrett did it again.
The President's Senior Advisor angered the White House and gay-rights groups by implying that the gay lifestyle was a "lifestyle choice."

Needless to say, she has been excoriated by all left-leaning media outlets and also the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) community. LGBT devotees argue that those lifestyles are biologically imposed and that human sexuality or at least sexual orientation have no element of volition/choice/will/decision involved.

Gay watchdogs were quick to call her remarks an "obnoxious phrase" and suggested that she had been influenced by right-leaning groups like the Family Research Council that work to resist elements of the gay agenda.


Though proponents of that ideology have long argued that homosexuality (and transgender identity, bisexuality, and lesbianism) is not based on choice and is innate, no noteworthy scientific evidence has been tendered to support that claim.

When someone acts out on sexual desires (or any desire, for that matte) "choice" is involved. Having a natural inclination to do something does not justify a given behavior. Behaviors are not legitimized by 'unlearned' behavior. For example, though a person might 'naturally' desire to have two or three spouses, participate in child-adult sexual relations, join NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association), or other types of human relationships "in the name of love," those things wouldn't be justified "simply because" there was an innate desire.

As it stands, however, that hypothesis has never been proven or even had a shred of evidence that supports it. So it is perfectly legitimate to call that lifestyle a "lifestyle choice" since there's no evidence it is otherwise. Ironically, many of those who support the LGBT lifestyle are not content with non-LGBT devotees giving them the freedom to live that lifestyle-- they also want our tacit acknowledgment that it is not a choice as well. If the lifestyle was completely legitimate, 'choice' wouldn't be a relevant issue. That's telling.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thinking Like Einstein (Part 2 of 2)

Today we finish the remaining five elements of learning to Think like Einstein.

The first post of this two-part series discussed general principles of building one’s mind. This second part gives a step-by-step approach to developing a powerful understanding of a great many subjects. Each of the five remaining elements may appear complex, but they make a lot of sense to the discerning reader.

We Only Have “So Much” Time for Building Our Knowledge

They are built on my insight a few years back that each of us have time in life to read only “x number” of books and none of us are getting any younger. So whatever our plan, we better get “on it” if we are serious about learning and growing intellectually. Think of it this way, the average person reads almost nothing or at least nothing of real intellectual value. Of those who do read important things, their primary mistake (in my opinion) is that the read (a) the wrong things, (b) do so in the wrong order, and (c) exhaust the number of books they can realistically read before they know all they should-could have known.

So, let’s assume you can consistently read 12 serious books a year. If you live another 20 years, that’s 240 books. See what I mean? 240 books is about what you can get on a bookshelf. That’s it! My point is that with all of the books available, you must be unusually judicious on what you spend your time reading—otherwise, you’ll burn through your 240 books and have wasted (not invested) much of your reading time on trivial tripe.

Where Do I Start?

So, where do you start? Well, it’s not where you think.

Most people would assume “Oh, so I should go to the great classics and just read the top 100 or 200 or 300 classics of all time…,” and that’s what is called a “great books” approach. I think this is a healthy approach, but not the best one.

Below is my suggestion.

Summary Thus Far (Steps 1-5)

If you follow my advice, by this point (using steps 1-5) you will have:

1. Developed a commitment to really KNOWING and learning, not just “being familiar” with lots of things.

2. Identified the major area(s) you are interested in knowing about

3. Discovered the best resources in each area(s) of knowledge you want to discover or master

4. Studied the “large general fields of study” from a Christian perspective. Meaning, instead of studying “details about” or “different disciplines within the major area of knowledge” you begin to study summaries of the entire body of knowledge in that area… LIKE “theology” ITSELF (summaries of what ‘theology’ is) and LIKE “philosophy” ITSELF… NOT areas WITHIN theology or philosophy or what have you.

5. You then, having a good Christian perspective (if you are a Christian and, in fact, if you aren’t I’d still suggest it), study these topics broadly through other authors.

Now What? (Steps 6-10)

6. Begin Studying the Major Areas Within Each Area of Knowledge. Now that you’re “beginning” to understand each major subject area (theology, philosophy, history, leadership, management, psychology, whatever), now (since you actually understand what these subjects ARE), begin to study each major secondary area or “sub-set” of these subjects. For example, in Philosophy—you’d only now begin to really study the major areas within philosophy, such as: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and aesthetics. In Theology, you’d begin to study those major areas, like Biblical, Historical, Philosophical, Systematic, and Practical Theology. And so on. Of course, you might ask—how would I even know these major areas within my fields of study? Well, if you have done steps 4 and 5, you will already have an intimate knowledge that these are the major areas of study within that discipline. But, if you don’t take this approach, you could read 40 books and maybe never realize these truths. See what I mean?

I know… this isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those who are serious about knowledge at a high level, keep reading.

7. Now Focus Your Study on Each of Those Primary Branches “In Detail.” Meaning, take your growing understanding of each of these individual fields (like biblical, historical, systematic theology… and so on, or metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and so on) and CRUCIAL, begin to identify the major movements, power brokers/idea makers/books & eras/time periods of those branches. In fact, why not work to memorize these—commit them to memory? Need an example? OK, let’s take Existentialism. Here, you might study each of the major Existentialists and their works—like Jeremy Bentham, Soren Kierkegaard, John Stuart Mills, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, and what each wrote.

8. Now Begin to Focus on Each of Those Fields and Think About The Differences Between The Major Thinkers, Books, and Movements. For example—If you were studying the philosophical area of Existentialism, ask yourself—among those major players (identified in #7 above), what were the major differences between each of their works? Let’s say that they all agreed on 90% of their ideas—but what distinguished them from one another? That’s what I mean. And you could do that for each of the major areas that interest YOU and that YOU really want to learn about in detail.

9. Now, Finally, Begin to Read Individual Books Written By Specific Authors of Interest. Now, think of it… after all this, you have a SIGNIFICANT BREADTH AND DEPTH of understanding of all areas of your field of study… and know you are getting into the nitty-gritty of these areas.

10. Document Your Knowledge. Now, having invested this time—do whatever it takes to help others understand what you know. Make and record, in retrievable form, summaries of these ideas and people and books –record insights, draw images with diagrams and tables and graphs, then identify and record relationships between and across fields of knowledge.

Finally, most important in all of this is an often-forgotten idea: Slow Down – and THINK more than you read. Most people spend all their time READING and little or no time THINKING.

The result of all of this?

You will develop profound and intimate knowledge into the deep nuances of your field of study—you are becoming an EXPERT… because you have done what others have not done.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thinking Like Einstein (Part 1 of 2)

One of the greatest elements of personal impact and success is the importance of developing your mind.

But how do you do it?

In my two part series, I'll give a total of 10 key ideas to enhance your thinking as you build your mind and learn to think like Einstein.

Here we go!

1. Redefine your understanding of “knowledge.” Knowledge is not what you happen to remember, true knowledge is that which you will never forget. Here's my point: This is an area where so many people make mistakes... They assume they know more than they actually do. But, truth told, they cannot command their knowledge and their memory of specifics (facts, details, comprehensive understandings of things, how these things relate to other areas of knowledge, etc.) is actually quite shallow. Let's face it, if you don't remember it, you don't know it. So don't over-estimate your knowledge. Adopt a higher standard of what true knowledge is.

2. Identify the major or primary areas of knowledge you want to build. You can't know everything. You can and should, in time, develop broad understandings of multiple areas-- but you won't be equally interested in everything. So identify a subject/subjects, and begin to drive deeper.

3. Identify the best, most reliable sources for mastering the big picture of your topics/areas. In other words, you need to begin studying a subject by learning about it "as a whole" and not piecemeal in small bits. It's hard to understand a subject if you start by trying to understand one tiny piece of the subject then try to go broader. Instead, start by trying to develop a truly comprehensive, general understanding of the subject.

4. Start with secondary Christian sources if/when possible (of large general areas). Some won't agree with this- so they can write their own blog. I understand that perspective, but generally disagree. From a Christian perspective, after one understands the big picture and broad understanding of something (astronomy or civlization or evolution or higher criticism), I think 'most' could benefit from reading about that broad subject from a Christian perspective-- not so they can be indoctrinated, but because a Christian perspective will at least give them some perspectives and hot button issues of which to be aware. Without this, I've seen lots of Christians lose their way because they stumble into dangers unawares, simply because their minds haven't been properly trained to think critically and biblically just yet.

5. Then move to secondary “secular” sources of those large general areas. Now is the time to move into the deep. Now that you have a general understanding of the topic-- and at least some biblical-Christian perspective, you're ready to learn about the topic from other perspectives. Keep your head on straight and go for it.

OK, so that's a start... tune in next post for part 2 of this two-part series.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Plausibility Structure

A Chinese UFO?

Yep, you heard right...

Just this week, a report circulated that a UFO appeared in the skies of China.

Was it real? Was it legit?

First, you are only likely to believe there was a UFO in China "if" you believe in UFOs in the first place. Meaning, depending on your "plausibility perspective."

That is, if you do not think something is possible (plausible), then you won't believe it in the first place. So if you don't believe in UFOs, you won't believe there "was one" in China this week. On the other hand, if you think it is plausible that there are UFOs-- then you are probably inclined to believe there "might have been" a UFO in China.

The point is this: If you don't believe something is plausible, you probably won't count on it.

This plausibility perspective not only relates to Chinese UFOs, but also to believing God for things. If you don't believe God is willing to do something, or if you don't believe God is ABLE to do something, then He probably won't. God usually acts in accordance with our faith.

In Matthew 9, some men asked Jesus to heal them of their blindness. He asked them, "Do you believe I can?" They said, "yes."

Well, in fact they DID believe-- and were healed. But had they NOT actually believed, they wouldn't have been healed. The point is that God gave to them "according to their faith." He often does that.

Jesus himself even said, "According to your faith, it will be given to you" (Matthew 9:29).

So if we don't think something is even possible-- we won't believe it will happen. If we DO believe something is possible, it might be.

With God "all things" are possible-- but God wants us to believe in Him and express faith in Him. That leads me to this question: What dream have you already given up on? What do you already assume won't happen? OK, well it probably won't.

But if you will believe God and if you ask according to His Will-- with complete faith that He is able to do it, then expect Him to act.

If you struggle with this, then your plausibility perspective may be limiting your faith in God... and limiting what God will do in and through your life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cardoza on "Power Communication"

Understanding the Importance of Communication Savvy

Perhaps the two most important aspects of most information-laden professions and leadership in general are (1) becoming a strong writer and (2) becoming a strong speaker. This is because of the importance and priority of communication and its central role in leadership and life.

Today I want to share what a power communicator must have. There was a resource offered a number of years ago that referenced this concept, but I'd like to unpack these ideas a little more here.

Those of us who put food on the table through our teaching/preaching/speaking think a lot about communication. And as an educator, I spend time considering how to help undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral pastoral and ministry students become the best communicators they can possibly be. I want to bring balance to the issue by highlighting three enormously important issues for communicators and those who train them.

Three Components of Power Communicators

To become a power communicator capable of shaking the earth, three power principles must be mastered:

1. Substance

2. Soul

3. Sizzle

1. Substance

There are those who sometimes teach or speak who are entertaining to hear, but who fail to deliver the goods. When life (or people, time, resources, business, money, influence, whatever your thing) is on the line, the one thing you must do is put the cookies on the bottom shelf. Meaning, you MUST bring home the bacon; you MUST ring the bell; you must shuck the corn. Whatever analogy you want to employ, it's crucial that if you're going to speak, you have something to say. Some people don't. Others think they do, but can't produce. Content is an enormous priority for the speaker-- in many ways THE priority. Don't neglect the content. Don't abuse the message. It's the only reason you're really speaking in the first place.

In addition to WHAT one says, however, is HOW one says it. A really common and unfortunate mistake that many ineffective communicators make is to assume that CONTENT (substance) is all that really matters in speaking. This could be a painful statement, but the people who make that false assumption are generally poor communicators. Any strong communicator knows that connecting with an audience is by no means restricted to the substance of the talk.

2. Soul

So, in addition to substance is SOUL. "Soul" has to do with the communicator's inner man. His or her inner self. The best communicators are able to transcend the limits of language and place their very hearts on display. They reveal primal emotions, potent convictions, and powerful attitudes. They can release the best of their personhood and vitality in the moment of truth. They have such a command of their 'selfhood' and security in their identity that they are able to project whatever their subject calls for: authority, passion, motivation, intimacy, compassion, angst, inspiration, humor, gratitude-- whatever it may be, to their listeners-- making them feel and think and want to do the same thing. Without soul, we're only talking heads. Without soul, we have no heart. Without soul, we're old news-- we're just another tired talker, but not a power communicator. Release the fullness of your best self when you step onto the platform or when you stand in that sacred desk.

3. Sizzle

Substance is a must. Soul is indispensable. But your speech must also sizzle. After you've done the hard work of study, reflection, hermeneutics, exegesis, research, thought, meditation and speaking prep, if you are incapable of bringing the heat, you will likely lose many of your listeners. So it's not only what you say, but how you say it. It's not just being an effective speaker and having a handle on grammar and syntax. It's also making sure that you have a powerful command on vocabulary that you can draw from at a moment's notice in order to paint a masterpiece to your audience or the congregation.

Can you make it "SING?" Can you allow the Spirit of God to breathe life into that dry manuscript and make the bones live? When you speak, does it pop? Does it happen? Does it thrill and excite and stimulate the learner. Does it force the listener to think, feel, and act? The best speakers have a near hypnotic command of their audience in such a way that the person loses all track of time and, as you speak, their hearts burn within them. Though, in Christian speaking, the power of God sometimes falls on a situation, to be sure-- but do not confuse that supernatural act with the need for personal effort in selling what you say with a little sizzle.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leadership Lesson: Beware the "Happy Talk"

I love thinking about leadership.

Much of leadership is exciting and positive, but there are also things that are threatening and negative. As one who has been in tough decision-making situations where people have lost their jobs, there's something I've learned that it might help you to know. This is something that I think is true generally, but it's also very much true in church ministry positions. It's the Leadership "Happy Talk."

Let's cut to the chase. Beware the Happy Talk. At all costs.

The "Happy Talk" comes in two primary brands, but the intent and result are one and the same. And they're not good. The two questions commonly asked are one of the following:

  1. "Are You Happy?"
  2. "How Do You Think Things Are Going?"

Not What It Seems

The thing is-- these aren't really questions the supervisor is usually asking "for information." They are actually TELLING you something, not ASKING you something. Let's look at those again:

Question 1

  • Are YOU Happy?

The issue here APPEARS to be YOU and YOUR happiness, but that's not really it. It's actually THE LEADER and His/Her Happiness WITH YOU. In other words, the "right answer" to the Happy Question is always "No." As in, "No, I'm NOT happy." Even if I THOUGHT I was, apparently I'm NOT. And the reason I'm not happy is because YOU (my supervisor) are not happy.

This is a technique that some leaders use in order to pass on pink slips (OR to let you know that a pink slip is imminent if performance does not improve quickly).

Question 2

  • How do YOU think things are going?

Again, like the Happy Question, everything isn't what it seems. The question isn't REALLY how YOU think things are going-- but how THEY think things are going-- and they're apparently not going well.

So the answer to this second question is, "Not so great." At least that's what is implied. They are trying to tell the person, without telling the person, that they're not pleased with the individual's performance. The problem could be a myriad of issues: poor attendance, disengagement, poor social skills, bad work ethic, inability to play well with others, lack of decorum, or about a million other things.

What Not To Think

If you're put in a situation where these questions are asked-- though there is always the chance the leader asking you *might not* be poised to can you, you need to make sure. The worst thing to do is to assume that this is just a friendly chat.

My Advice

So if you're ever in a situation when one or both of these questions are raised, brace yourself in a five-point seatbelt and respond to their question WITH a question. I'd say something like this: "You know, that's a good question (boss). I think this is an amazing place to work and I count it a privilege and not an entitlement. So more important to me isn't so much how "I" think things are going but, instead, how YOU think things are going." I want you to know that I want to do everything within my power to be the best leader/minister/employee/staff person I can be, and would be happy to begin to make any changes you'd like to suggest if there are "blind spots" that I have and haven't seen. How do you think things are going, and how can I improve to the point where you feel I'm a great contributor and not a liability to our organization?"

If you do that, it might spare your head from rolling-- unless you've already missed way too many hints. It costs a lot of time and effort to hire someone and organizations (churches too) often lose lots of momentum when staff changes occur. So organizations have good reasons to keep you on if they can. Taking the right approach during the Happy Talk might just save you some pain, salvage your career or ministry, and help you move to the next level of leadership.

In times of recession like these, job security is more important than ever.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cardoza on Cap and Trade (Cap and Tax)

Understanding the Context of this Discussion

A good friend of mine made a good point that complicated and technical phrases in current discourse are being made, but that those things aren’t always being explained. So I decided to write a simple but not simplistic overview of the current “Cap and Trade” discussion going on in American Government.

In the following video, President Barack Obama says that he is in favor of a Cap and Trade system but that such a policy “will necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” Listen to him, then read what “Cap and Trade” is in Plain English.


The Background

In an earlier blog post (http://freddycardoza.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/cardoza-on-civics-understanding-whats-going-on-in-america-and-why/) I discussed the background to understanding how politics and economics relate—and I’d encourage you to read that post first. With that as an introduction, let me get into how Cap and Trade works.

I’ve described earlier the fact that “Big Government” proponents (i.e., Democrats-Socialists-Liberals) have an agenda to use the government as a means to minimize the freedom and responsibility of individuals and privatized corporations (private industry or “businesses”). That is because the government needs money to pay for entitlement programs to “take care of people” in the Nanny State that it has become. This is no exaggeration, as over ½ of the US budget is now spent on entitlements (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_budget_pie_chart).

As money comes into the US Treasury, it feeds its ever-larger bureaucratic self and it takes care of those who do not want the responsibility of taking care of themselves or who have an entitlement mentality. Such people are willing to trade their own freedoms away in exchange for the government taking their personal responsibility. In this way, the government becomes a safety net and, as I’ve said, a ‘nanny.’

In a “Progressive” government like the one Mr. Obama is attempting to build, the government penalizes companies and the people who built them through years, decades, and generations of hard work by forcing them to support all government programs in ways that are grossly disproportionate than other people who have not earned as much income. For example, in the upcoming budget plan, it is estimated by some that the upper-level earners in the US will pay up to 42 cents of every dollar (42%) of their income to taxes, while some US Citizens who can (but refuse to) work, pay no taxes or even receive refunds from the government, even though they have not paid any taxes.

The strategy of Progressivism being espoused by Barack Obama and many Democrats today is to identify (a) individuals who have or make significantly more than others and (b) the companies they have built by creating laws and regulations (imposed by government agencies like OSHA) that are designed to take the money people have earned (through fines, fees, tariffs, corporate taxes, personal taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, consumption taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, penalties, and other red tape) in order to forcibly redistribute that wealth to those who did not earn it in ways consistent with Socialism-Marxism described in an earlier post.

What is Cap and Trade (also called “Cap and Tax”)?

Cap and Trade is one type of (many different) government-imposed wealth-transfer plans.

To Understand Cap and Trade, You Must Understand the Basics of Economics and Politics

Cap and Trade (like all other such wealth-transfer plans related to Green Economics-Environmentalism, Government Health Care, etc.) is designed to forcibly redistribute money more evenly throughout society, and especially lower income people, in order to eliminate classism (the economic differences between upper/lower classes) and to usher in an ideal society (i.e., “social utopia”). In such a society, most people would comprise a very large lower-middle class, and virtually all authority would rest within those who run the government, since it would have eliminated the power of all other persons and entities. This, in a nutshell, is the agenda of Socialism (a political philosophy) and it uses Marxism (an economic philosophy) to do it.

Cap and Trade Basics

The basic argument of Cap and Trade goes this way.

The developed world (the U.S. and other countries) is better off than the rest of the world. It has more money and more things and a higher standard of living. Other people in the world have less and a lower standard of living. Much of this is because of our consumption of stuff from money that we have that some countries don’t have.

As a result, extreme liberals and even the US President, believe that two things are wrong with this: (1) We need to redistribute wealth to those without it and (2) the way that should be done is by giving them money from U.S. tax payers and businesses. So, Cap and Trade is actually a wealth transfer (Marxist) idea cloaked in Environmentalism.

Point By Point Through Cap and Trade

The logic is that the things Americans enjoy aren’t enjoyed by many other people in our world and while they do without, we have these things and, in doing so, we pollute the planet more than they do. Examples: Our cars, boats, trains, buses, motorcycles, air conditioning, heat, hot stoves, etc. are things that give us a higher standard of living than everyone else—and this creates us, Americans, as a higher socioeconomic class of people. The argument then goes that we should be ashamed for having a great society and for being blessed by God and through the industry of the American people, since it is those very things that are causing the world to hate Americans in their arrogance.

Blame America First. So the “blame America” group wants to PENALIZE us for what we have and enjoy because, in doing so (they argue), we pollute the planet through our extra energy use—and our greed causes the rest of the world to live in pollution and climate change (global warming). Subsequently, if we were to be more concerned with others who “don’t have what we have,” then we would be more generous to them rather than spending our money on things for ourselves and our own consumption. So America “owes” the world. And we should (as we saw in the recent Copenhagen Summit) give the poor nations of the world our money from the US Government’s taxpayers as a sort of payback for our excesses and to provide their governments money to enact the same Cap and Tax policies so that they can also redistribute the wealth of their countries, leading to a Socialist (utopian) world.

Think I’m Crazy? People who are unfamiliar with the Climate Change discussion and extreme Environmentalism and Cap and Trade probably read what I’m writing and think “He can’t be serious.” But, in fact, this is the main thrust behind much of the Cap and Trade controversy. The government sells the problem as an Environmental one, but it’s actually all about “Green ECONOMICS” and the redistribution of wealth, using environmentalism as the reasoning behind it. Carefully researching these issues will clearly show what I have written to be true. But let’s continue.

More Cap and Trade Basics.

So Americans are obsessed with stuff (materialism increases carbon footprints). Our materialism and consumption cause us to trash the planet, and this hurting of the environment—leads to global warming, etc. They then argue that, if it isn’t stopped something catastrophic will happen—because the future of the planet is stake.

What “Cap” Means.

The government is telling people that we must reduce carbon in the atmosphere in order to avoid climate disaster. That means we should reduce our carbon (like burning or using fossil fuels like gas, petroleum products, coal, and using products that require energy), by more than 80%. THAT IS THE “CAP.” Certain types of ENERGY USAGE IS CAPPED. It begins with setting limits on our use of energy. The recent Copenhagen summit was an attempt to do that—Obama wanted to get the world to agree on the top limits of ‘unclean energy’ they would allow, so we could “CAP” the carbon and energy usage.

What “Trade” Means.

The problem is that everything uses energy to run (cars, businesses, ships, semi-trucks, transport trucks, trains, etc.) and all of these things emit carbon. In addition, nearly everything we do in life is a release of energy this is largely powered by those sources of energy (like to heat homes, cool homes, cook food, eat out, take the car to the mall, using energy for lights, the energy for lighting a movie theater, etc.). So how are we going to reduce carbon? By starting a carbon stock market (“trading”), so companies can “buy and sell” the ability to use energy that pollutes the environment. And as they do this, government can then control and monitor energy consumption by government policies/restrictions and taxes.

The problem? Most countries use it like we do and don’t have money to do research and development to develop other forms of environmentally friendly or “clean” energy.

To keep carbon and emissions to a minimum, the government would begin (over a period of years) to set these goals for reduced emissions of carbon from all these energy sources—and then SELL PERMITS to companies who would pay taxes for the ability to “pollute the atmosphere” (use energy). Each year, less and less energy would be used and ‘unclean energy’ (oil, coal, gas, etc.) would be paying very high taxes and could get fewer and fewer permits to use their energy (“to pollute”).

Enter Clean Energy and Government Contracts. Meanwhile, the government would choose winners and losers again, but paying companies money to do research on ‘clean’ energy and by giving grants and government contracts for more energy-efficient windows, weather stripping, energy sources, wind power, solar power, etc.

Over time, because taxes would crush other energy companies and because they could buy fewer and fewer permits to use their sources of energy, the ‘clean’ energy companies would flourish because they advanced their businesses on the government dime. So traditional businesses (the energy companies mentioned earlier, and companies who didn’t get government money and contracts to produce these ‘green’ technologies would also be taxed because their products ‘hurt the environment.’ In addition, standards would continue to tighten, driving many out of business since they couldn’t compete any longer with government funded businesses.

“Trade” One More Time. So, another way of describing it, is that the “Trade” idea is that those companies who become ‘greener’ would be able to take their pollution permits and ‘trade’ them on the energy stockmarket—to companies who couldn’t become greener—and with each ‘trade’ the government would get a cut of that tax revenue AND the green companies and their employees would get more money (WATCH THIS: creating “new money”) while the “OLD MONEY” groups like Coal Company Owners and Oil Men and Gas Company Executives were taxed and legislated out of business—leading to massive reallocation and redistribution of wealth away from those who traditionally had money—into the hands of new people awarded government contracts, all in the name of the “environment” and to stop “global warming” and “save the planet.”


So then, anyone that PRODUCES OR USES energy would be taxed and prices would rise—significantly. Consumers of these things would be penalized—by paying higher prices and taxes on energy and things that used energy. Note—everything uses energy!! So every use of energy or emission of energy would cost you (gas for car, carbon emissions of your car, energy for home or business, restaurants who produced your hot food, appliances that you use to cook or cool food), and the government would regulate all of those things through regulation—hence CAP (energy limits) and Tax companies/people using energy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cardoza on Government Intrusion: Obama's Bailouts and Regulations

I think a big problem with what is going on in the US Government today is that most people don't really understand what's happening. That's because it's complicated and because lots of jargon (technical language from different fields) is used that further complicates things.

One issue that is going on today is that of Government Intrusion-- the government getting involved with things in the wrong ways. I'd like to use the recent financial bailouts in the US and the issue of "deregulation/regulation" to explain why this matters.

Understanding “Regulation” and “Deregulation” (Big Government Intrusion)

Whereas Republicans and Libertarians and many Independent voters are in favor of SMALLER government, Democrats and Socialists are for BIGGER government—that is a crucial distinctive to understand. Let’s first look at Capitalism.

Capitalism and Deregulation in Plain English

In Free Market Capitalism, the government allows supply-demand (business) to govern whether companies win or lose—whether they succeed or fail. In other words, in Free Market Capitalism, the government’s job is to create laws that ENABLE businesses to succeed and that “deregulate” them so no artificial barriers cause businesses to fail. That way, if a business fails it is because the idea was wrong or the leadership was poor, or the timing for the business idea was wrong: They win or lose on their own, and they bear that responsibility for their success or failure.

Socialism and Regulation in Plain English

On the other hand, in a more Socialist approach, Marxist ideas of economics are used. What happens is a few things.

(Photo: Karl Marx)

First, the Government chooses winners and losers. Instead of allowing businesses to fail, government decides who fails and who does not. So it chooses who will and who won’t get bailed out. So, instead of allowing businesses to fail or to force them to make hard decisions to change course and become successful, the government uses tax payer money to bail the business out. The companies it bails out then essentially become INCAPABLE of failing because they are funded with limitless supplies of printed money. But other businesses don’t get that bailout money, and are in danger of going under. That’s the problem with government bailouts.

Second, the Government begins to control private businesses by ‘owning’ them. When federal financial bailouts occur, businesses become (partially or entirely) publically-owned (owned by taxpayers or the government). And when government controls them, because a company needs capital/money, the government gets ‘shares’ of that company and may then have a “controlling interest” in the company. That’s another way of saying they get to call the shots.

One recalls when the US Government bailed out General Motors recently. Rival companies Ford, Toyota, Honda, and others got no money—and could have failed. But then, since the government bailed GM out, the President of the United States was able to fire the GM C.E.O., set salary limits, and help decide which brands (Buick, Pontiac, Saturn) died—affecting thousands of US Workers. So the government chose winners and losers. It controlled businesses by owning them. And one wonders—no matter HOW BAD General Motors might perform in the future, now that it is essentially owned by the government, almost without question there is no circumstance under which the government would even ALLOW GM to fail, but no other car companies have that same guarantee.

The Point? Government was never supposed to get into the business of owning private industries. When it does, it becomes unfair to other private businesses and the government ends up using taxpayers money to help some taxpayers and to hurt others, which affects persons, families and their futures. That’s not right.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cardoza on Civics: Understanding What's Going On In America and Why

Understanding the Relationship Between Politics and Economics

Politics: To have a society, people must live together. When people live together in relative harmony, it is called a “civilization.” For civilization to exist, it must be civil (or you have barbarism). Civility is based on mutual understandings and boundaries of well-being (“civil order”). “Order” (Civil Society) becomes a reality when compulsory expectations are expected OF everyone and enforced ON everyone—and this is what we call “Law.” The need for “Law” is what creates Politics. Politics is designed to establish order and preserve justice and equity. Government is the collective body or bodies that oversee the political system to ensure civilization.

Economics: When people live together in society, they can either live in a meager, primitive, and simple existence (usually agrarian or nomadic societies) OR they can seek to live in a more sophisticated society where the standard of living (options, choices, comforts, entertainment, etc.) is higher and comfort is increased. **Because increased comfort and a higher standard of living creates greater civil stability and well-being, governments seek to enable this higher standard of living in order to avoid chaos and the breakdown of civilization and government (anarchy). A higher standard of living is accomplished to a large degree through economics. Economics, therefore, is the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that creates the opportunity for a higher standard of living just described. IN THESE WAYS, politics and economics are intertwined. And it is government that regulates economics THROUGH politics to help ensure people’s well-being and a higher standard of living in order to build the best society possible.

Understanding Economic Theory and Political Theory

So for government to exist, politics and economics must exist. But there’s not only “one way” to think about politics and economics. So different “political theories” (often called Political Science) and different “economic theories” exist. And it happens that, usually, certain political theories’ goals are best accomplished by corresponding economic theories because they are built on common ideals or goals.

That’s why—as a rule—that Representative Democracy (a “Republic” like the US) generally uses Free-Market Capitalism as its economic theory (since it values entrepreneurism as the way to help raise people’s standard of living). Capitalism places responsibility on individuals, as does Democracy. That’s because Democratic Government and Capitalism believes the individual should be motivated to take personal responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family and fellow man. And when each person with the ability does the same, that creates a surplus—which meets the needs of those who genuinely cannot help themselves. But those who refuse to work and do not take responsibility—even though they are able—are allowed to do without. Only those who genuinely need the help are able to get it in this type of society.

Socialism, on the other hand, de-emphasizes the responsibility of individuals and places that responsibility for the welfare of the individual on the government to produce that higher standard of living for the people. In this way, the government must provide money for the resources needed by the people. It does so by compelling people to provide the government with the money to do this—and government receives money through taxes. Those taxes are paid to the central government in order to hire people to maintain and oversee programs that provide for people. And in a Socialist government, as Karl Marx said, each person gives “according to his ability” and each person receives “according to his need.” WHAT THAT MEANS is that those “with more” are compelled to give more to people who need more—so that those who do not have all they want or need will have it.

The Point?

In summary, Capitalists and Marxists disagree on HOW to maintain a civilization and provide for its peoples’ standard of living. And Democratic-Republic Governments disagree with Socialists on the way to build that society—through compelling people to give to the government so everyone will have ‘about the same’ OR through expecting people to take responsibility (if they are able) for themselves… or to do without.

That is why Democracy-Capitalism is about personal responsibility, low taxes, and small government. And that’s why Socialism-Marxism is about government responsibility, bigger government, and higher taxes. They are simply two ways of doing things.

The Choice

These completely opposite approaches on the role of government, politics and economics are what is causing the radical disagreements in the United States right now. The question is “Do we create a ‘Nanny State’ where people are taken care of by the government, even though corruption, waste, and excessively spending tax-payers’ money occurs OR do we create a ‘Responsibility State’ where people who are able to do so are required to take care of themselves and the fruit of their labor takes care of those who cannot take care of themselves until they are able or indefinitely?”

The Fundamental Problem

The major problem that exists in our nation’s politics today is that Democrats are being driven by the extreme left wing of their political party—and that party (led by the U.S. President) is driven by hard left ideologues who are more SOCIALIST as I have described above. Prior to this time in history, Democrats and Republicans have disagreed “to a degree” but could compromise BECAUSE THEIR POSITIONS WERE RELATIVELY CLOSE TOGETHER. Now, because “Progressives” in the Democratic Party are more Socialist in their perspective, we have a culture war—and the MEANS and the ENDS are so radically opposite that there is no middle ground.


That is why this is such a fierce battle. And this entire discussion explains why I feel so deeply about these issues: Because the American way of life is being threatened by changes in these political and economic theories. And if America practices the political and economic theories of Socialism and Marxism, the outcome will be what it has been in EVERY other such civilization: decline and death of those civilizations.

Note: While America has flourished into the greatest civilization the world has ever known in only 200 years under Capitalism and a Republic, since Marxism/Socialism was introduced in the 1800s, no genuinely Marxist economy in history has survived more than 70 years (Soviet Union). But today’s Progressives want to ‘progress’ past Capitalism to a doomed system. There is on earth NO NATION under even a Socialist approach whose society is superior to the United States—and that is why I am so forceful in my opposition to it—because I do not want my children and their children to live in a society in decline or hardship after my sacrifice and the sacrifice of all Americans in the last 200 years.