Let The Little Children Come

I love children. One of my favorite things to do when I’m out is to make faces at little kids and see how they react. Sometimes they look confused. Sometimes they make faces back. Sometimes they act bashful. All the time it’s cute and fun.

In college I worked at an elementary school for about 3 years and it was easily one of my favorite jobs of all time. Much better than flipping burgers. In and after college my wife and taught Sunday school for the 1st-2nd graders at our church. I think i did that for like 6 or 7 years. Being around kids and helping them learn while still being kids energizes me like almost nothing else can.

As I reflect on the past year and my love for little ones, I see some startling attitudes and events surrounding children in our society. I want to include a small disclaimer here. This isn’t going to be another post ranting about how sucky 2016 was. I don’t feel that way at all. Sure, crazy and terrible things happened, but they happen every year.

I hope that I’m wrong but what I’m observing is a general lack of concern for the smallest of us and I think that the following 3 events exemplify this.

  1. First up is the Harambe gorilla fiasco. I’m not going to rehash this. Crawl out from under your rock and Google it if you don’t know what this is. I see a general lack of concern for children display in several ways here.First of all, how is it physically possible for a child to end up in an animal’s enclosure? When I lived in San Diego we had zoo passes and were there all the time. I can remember maybe one or two enclosures in which a non-ninja human being could actually make their way into. It seems like much more concern could have gone into the design here. Secondly, how in the world did this kid’s parents not know that their kids was doing this? I know that kids are squirrelly but this seems ridiculous. I’m the oldest of 5 and my mom would take us out all over the place and never once did any of us get lost or seriously injured. Thirdly, is the obscene outpouring of grief for the gorilla. The amount of articles and posts demonizing the zoo and parents for the death of an animal seemed to vastly outnumber the number of people praising the zoo for quickly and safely rescuing the kid. I don’t want gorillas to be shot. Obviously. But I would personally shoot a gorilla if it meant protecting ANY child. Why is that so many people seem to have it backwards?
  2. Secondly is the intensified spotlight on abortion due to the election. This is worst thing that happens each and every year. Abortion kills babies. That’s it and that’s all. Being “pro-choice” is being pro baby killing. Let’s continue with the zoo theme. Say I’m the head zoo keeper for the pandas at the San Diego Zoo. There’s a female panda who is pregnant. However, she does not seem to be super enthused about it. She’s very young and doesn’t really know what she’s in for. She’s not in any danger. She’s not in any pain. It just doesn’t feel  like the best time to have a baby. I decide to terminate the panda pregnancy kind just because. Can you imagine the outrage that would ensue? I would have to run for the hills just to avoid being terminated myself. I would probably be criminally (and rightfully so) charged. All of this over an animal. Every year millions of children are killed for many of the same reasons. Millions. There’s never any criminal charges. Very little uproar. In fact, we now praise and revere women who have abortions and are ok with it. How is this caring for children? I’ll help you with the tough ones: IT’S NOT. It’s literally the exact opposite. What’s sad is that killing children isn’t even a recent thing. It happened thousands of years ago in the form of child sacrifice to the Canaanite deity Molech. Guess what? God really doesn’t like it when children are killed (see Lev  20:1-5) . In fact, He abominates it (2 Kings 16:3). That’s a King James Version word that means to hate, loathe, or detest. We aren’t told many things that God hates but this is one of them. And that’s terrifying. 2017 is the year to love life and stand against this mass murder of children
  3. Finally, is the transgender kid on the cover of National Geographic. This is just plain child abuse pure and simple. Apparently, this kid wanted to be a girl since he was like 3 years old. 3 years old. I’ve known three year olds that aren’t even potty trained. A three year old can’t even tie a pair of shoes. You’re trying to tell me that a kid can comprehend gender at three years old? Kids don’t know anything. That’s why parents are a thing. Good parents teach their kids how to properly live, behave, and act. If your three year old daughter wants to be a boy and thinks she’s a boy, you know what you do? You sit her down and tell her that she is confused. She’s a girl and that’s a wonderful thing. Guess what my little brother wanted to be when he was very young? A chicken. He acted like one and wanted to be one but he was simply a confused child. Encouraging a confused child in their confusion and parading them around like a mascot for the LGBTQ community is going to cause tremendous damage to this child. This is not caring. This is abuse.

Jesus earnestly desires children to know Him (MT 19:14). He LOVES kids. He takes anyone preventing them from coming to know him very seriously. In the end it would be better for someone to tie a big rock around their neck and jump in the ocean (MK 9:42) then it would be to mess with kids. We have to stand up for these tiny humans because they are so valuable and cannot stand up for themselves. This is no joke. It has to be an immovable vocal stance. The literal future is at stake.

You Who

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgement, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things…

you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?

you who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?

you who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?

you who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (Romans 2:1, 21-22)

you who rail against brutality, do you respond with violence?

you who despise racism, do you react with stereotypes?

you who promote peace, do you counter with discord?

you who value tolerance, do you accept differences?

you who cherish life, do you support choosing death?

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgement, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

(Romans 2:1)

Five Books I Wish I Read Before College

Recently I was talking to my brother who is about to graduate from high school and he asked me if there were any books I thought he should read before he goes to college. I gave him one right off the bat and have taken some time on figuring out the others.

I decided to pick books that I wish I had read before I went to college. These books are all very practical and taught me things that I should have been taught before college. Most of this I wasn’t even taught in college. I narrowed it down to 5 books that I did not read before college. I’ve also include two honorable mentions.

By the way, it’s not too late. All of these books I’ve read in the past year and have made BIG impacts on my life and I’m 28. It’s NEVER too late. Read these:

  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
    • His methods work and are taught in many high schools around the country. They should be taught in EVERY high school and college.
  • The Entitlement Cure by Dr Townsend
    • This is THE book for this time. Everyone deals with entitlement and this book will help you identify it and overcome it in yourself and others.
  • Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
    • I’ve read several books on money and work and this is the best I’ve seen on the philosophy of both. This will change how you think about work and money for the better.
  • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
    • Mental strength training is often neglected. Everyone will benefit from Morin’s book.
  • Linchpin by Seth Godin
    • This one might be my favorite on this list so far. Godin’s book inspires the reader become indispensable by doing meaningful work.

Honorable Mentions

  • Are You Fully Charged? by Tom Rath
    • This is one of the most practical books I’ve ever read. It’s also backed up with Rath’s characteristic research.
  • Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman
    • I try to read this book annually because it is so relevant. I actually read this one before college and I’m glad I did. Probably the best book on the effects of media ever written.

 

You’ve done it before

Lately I have been trying to think of new and creative ideas for all kinds of things. The main thing I’ve realized is that this is hard! I haven’t really come up with anything groundbreaking or even good but I have realized something else along the way:

I’ve found that although I haven’t come up with anything great yet, I am at least training myself to look for greatness.

Think about this in terms of working out. Maybe you can only do 8 pushups. That’s not great but it’s something. Now what if tomorrow and the next day you did 9 pushups. Then the next day 10. Then 11. And so on adding one more everyday or so. In a matter of weeks you will be able to do dozens more than when you started.

I’m trying to think of my creativity as a muscle and right now it’s not super great yet. The keyword is “yet.” But I know that if I can keep working it a little bit more at a time I will be able to confidently assert that I am a creative person. I’ve increased my physical capabilities over the years with the same formula so I know that I can do it.

One phrase that has been so helpful to me in my self talk over the past few weeks is this:

You’ve done it before, you can do it again. 

This is so helpful because  I’ve been creative in the past so I know that I can do it again. Try to think of areas you might be struggling though now. Then come up with some similar situations in the past where you were successful. Now you know that you can deal with the current situation because you’ve done it before.

This kind of thinking has been helping me out alot.

 

 

Who Do You Serve?

Anytime I meet an adult, the inevitable “so, what do you do?” question comes up. Work is built into humanity and this is a good thing. Honest work is dignifying. I like to work and almost any work can be valuable if you have the right attitude. A wise ancient king once said “In all labor there is profit..”

“So, what do you do?”

Lately, I have felt awkward when asked or when i have asked this question. I think this is because the connotation of this question has become very self-centered. I love what Rabbi Daniel Lapin asks when he meets a stranger; “how do you serve God’s children?”

What a great way to pose the same question. Think about it. Almost all work that I can think of involves serving another human being. I’m grateful that our society is set up in such a way that when I serve another human being well I am rewarded with money. Don’t get me wrong, serving another human is worth it in and of itself. But, great service is almost always rewarded with money. And this is the way it should be.

What do I do? Basically, I sell natural supplements. Vitamins, herbs, organics foods and such. A basic question with a relatively uninteresting answer. But when asked another, better way…

Who do I serve? My main job is to help people. The way that I serve and help people is to increase their success. I’m doing my job well when the people are work with are profiting. The best part about what I do is that when the people I serve succeed, I succeed and profit too.

Who do I serve? I love this question because it challenges me to view my work in a less self-centered light. Anyone with any job can think of at least a few ways that they serve others. I know that many jobs can suck the life out of the employee. I used to be a manager at a fast food restaurant and there were many nights that I wanted to torch the place. At the time my attitude sucked but there were some ways that I served people. I helped to create a welcoming environment to eat. I helped them decided what they might like best.

Now, I like to think of my self as a professional helper, a servant if you will. I don’t find that demeaning at all. Ask anyone who is genuinely serving someone and they will tell you that the opposite is true. Serving other people is empowering. Serving other people is inspiring. Serving other people is invigorating.

So, who do you serve? Think about it. I know you serve someone. Take pride in that. Be grateful for the opportunity. It’s a beautiful thing.

Long Days And Short Years

I’m not entirely sure who said it first but here is the quote that sums up 2016 for me:

The days are long but the years are short. 

Does anyone else feel like this? Here’s how the year went for my wife and I:

Yay! It’s a new year and it’s gonna be great(in January and February) … wait, what, it’s Thanksgiving already? Why tho? And now it’s Christmas? It seems like that middle hunk of the year didn’t even happen. It’s kinda scary. Most of an entire year just flew by and I didn’t even realize it.

On the other hand there seemed to be some really long days. The kinda days where you think it’s about time to finish working and you’ve only be at it for like two hours. Or more positively, those days where you got so much done that you’re exhausted in the best way.

I don’t want to take time for granted. I know that when I do that, long days turn into short years and I feel like I missed out. I’m trying to find more ways to commemorate each day to remind myself that this really is a day that the Lord has made. If He made today, it must be important. This blog is one way I’m trying to do that. Writing out some of my thoughts daily is clarifying and helpful. I’ve also started carrying around a little notebook to jot down thoughts, ideas, questions, names, addresses, anything really. It’s neat to be able to look back at a specific date and see a little list of things I need to get at the store or whatever.

One thing that I’m going to make a goal for 2017 is to express more gratitude in tangible ways. I have a feeling that will help.

While it seems like the days are long, I definitely realize that long days still fly by. It’s helpful and encouraging to find the meaning in each day.

 

Can of Beans

What happens when you take off the label from a can of beans? Not much really. It’s still a can of beans. The label is just gone. What if you put a corn label on the naked bean can? It’s still just a can of beans. It’s what’s inside that defines it not what the label says. Labels can be right or wrong. Regardless, it’s what’s inside that counts, for better or worse.