Personal Growth and Freedom

James 1:13 helped me to see beyond current day trials to the promise of greater things to come

Posted on November 26, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

Yet God does sometimes place His people in adverse circumstances for the purpose of building godly character.

Commentary regarding James 1:13

In explaining the differences between being tempted – which does not come from God as God does not tempt, and being placed in an adverse situation which God does use to build and shape a godly character within each of us, an epiphany of sorts hit me regarding my own situation.

Without going into great detail, 2011 has been a trying year that for the most part has not been of my own doing as circumstances seemed to spiral out of control while placing me in a position to make decisions that I would have never thought I would be making.

Do not get me wrong, this is not a poor nobody likes me, everybody hates me lament that has me wallowing is self pity.  It is just the rapid nature in which life can change and in the process catching you off guard and leaving you wondering what happened, and of course why it happened to which I am referring.

But you know amidst the turmoil God is always reaching out and talking to us, and if we continually and faithfully seek Him through daily prayer and the reading of His word, there are answers and insights that clears the at times obfuscating haze of discontent and upset that leads to a clarity of understanding.

For me the book of James was this gateway to needed insight and peace in that it served to remind me that all things on earth including money, possessions, fame etc. will eventually pass away and as such whatever earthly circumstances one finds themselves in is in reality temporary.

As such, the only real security and certainty in life is indeed with and through God, and as such when you view difficult times through this powerful lens of eternal values you open yourself up to the possibility that difficult times happen for a purpose with only your greater good being the sole objective.

It is amazing what happens when you consider life’s problems within this context as you then begin to yield to trying situations versus fighting against them.  I am of course not suggesting that yielding and giving up are one in the same as giving up means a hopeless surrender without a belief as to the good reasons for and an expected positive outcome of a particular trial, while yielding means that you open yourself up to learning the greater lessons and like the potter’s clay, allow God to shape your Christian character through the adversity you are experiencing.

Let’s put it to you this way, if you are familiar with the story of Joseph you will see that throughout his ascension to becoming one of if not the most powerful persons in Egypt, his journey was fraught with life altering trials.  From his being thrown into a pit by his brothers, then rescued from certain death only to be sold into bondage and then ultimately thrown into jail for a crime he did not commit, considering the chain of events through present day eyes one might easily see only discouragement and a “why me” hopelessness.

But Joseph persevered and whatever character shaping lessons and insights he gained through the uneven events of his life experiences, God ultimately equipped Joseph with the tools he would need to excel at his appointed station.

This is of course the point relative to my journey as well as yours . . . that God does indeed work all things to good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The only question that remains is simply this . . . towards what ascending realization of your potential is God working towards?  With certainty it is even greater and more rewarding than the difficult times you might be experiencing today.  So yield to God’s will and do not surrender to temporary circumstances.

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Graceful Salt: Achieving Balance as a Talk Show Host in the Face of Controversy

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Commentary: Second, the wise community, eager to proclaim the gospel, engages the lost in conversation [that is] full of grace, seasoned with salt. This last phrase, so graphic and memorable, captures the wisdom of ancient rhetoric: ideological substance without personal style fails to convince people. If a believer, who has a wonderful story of conversion to tell, cannot tell it in a “salty,” interesting way, the story will not be heard. Of course, lively stories, like “fine-sounding arguments,” are sometimes used in the service of lifeless substance.

Colossians 4:6 (New International Version)

As a talk radio host it is often times an interesting journey of learning and insight, emotion and factual accounting with a dash of reckoning, where your focus is upon engaging, sometimes enraging, but always entertaining an audience within the framework of thorough research versus baseless pontification.  In fact a key tenet of being a good host, at least for me, is to show both the guest and the listening audience the respect they are due for their taking the time to share the virtual airwaves during a broadcast.  The only way you can do this is to have a passion for the subject matter that is being discussed and, taking the time to thoroughly understand the key elements of the topic.  In essence, doing your homework and asking questions from a unique standpoint that opens up previously uncharted avenues of perspective.

I recently thought about this value system for hosting following a contentious show in which the questions that were posed stirred up a great deal of controversy surrounding the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.  What was most interesting as well as challenging, was the recognition that people relate on so many different levels both emotionally and intellectually.  In other words, one can feel completely justified in their beliefs even if a factual foundation is absent from the equation.

As someone who is interested in everything and will therefore spend significant amounts of time in research mode to gain a collective understanding of the seemingly disparate and at times contradictory elements of a particular story, it is challenging to simply turn off the intellectual aspects of a debate and cede to the emotional irrationalizing that sometimes fuels certain viewpoints.  Now do not get me wrong here, I am not suggesting that emotions have no place in a discussion, nor am I suggesting a detached intellectualism that is tantamount to academic condescension.  What I am talking about is having the ability to support a position that blends a strength of conviction with a factual foundation while still maintaining a generous civility – even in disagreement.

It is within this context of a generous civility that Colossians 4:6 spoke to me.

In this light of revelation, I realized that a generous civility does not preclude one from asking the tough questions – nor for that matter answering them.  Nor does it mean that you have to surrender a position of belief when faced with heavy opposition to a particular viewpoint.  In and of itself, controversy and spirited discussion are indeed the salt of a conversation that makes it worthwhile for one to be a part whether as a host, guest or listener.  What is important is the aforementioned civility that manifests itself in a respectful dialogue in which there is an absence of malice or ill intent.  In short, maintaining both a graciousness and gracefulness of spirit when debating a subject will lead, if not to an accord, at least to a better understanding of another person’s position.

I think this is what I had found so troubling with two recent broadcasts including the aforementioned segment on the Ground Zero Mosque, as well as an earlier discussion regarding The Tender Years Doctrine.  In both instances, when confronted by questions that were logically researched and civilly presented, advocates for a particular point of view became increasingly hostile and threatening, hurling insults that in some instances were beyond comprehension simply because they were being challenged to clarify the basis for for their said beliefs.  In essence bullying versus substantiating, threatening and insulting versus engaging in a meaningful and productive manner.

In fact, in one instance a member of our guest panel expressed concern that they were reluctant to openly state their opinion for fear that they would be hounded or stalked by either the individual or the group to which the person belonged, for no other reason than verbalizing their disagreement with the listener’s position.  Apparently, the panelist had encountered this group before.

More recently, a host from another show indicated that they were uncomfortable with discussing contentious issues on air as they were caught somewhat off-guard by the flurry of negative epithets that were hurled at them by a small but vociferous group who used terms such as waiting in the bushes and setting your house on fire as intimidating analogies for supporting their beliefs.

Suffice to say, and in either instance I understand both the uneasiness and apprehension of continuing down a path that might ignite a rhetorical storm of threats and insults in which there is a fear that one’s brand might be harmed if not directly then indirectly by the distracting harassment of extremist elements.  This is perhaps what is so disconcerting about the Westboro bunch, whose conduct is anything but civil.

But here’s the thing, and bearing in mind that this is a personal decision in which there is no shame in walking away should one be moved to do so, I truly believe in the John Philpot Curran saying (although some have attributed it to Edmund Burke), that All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

As a host, this does not mean that you have to be randomly combative.  Nor does it mean that when confronted with a contentious soul you have to resort to strong arm tactics centered on derision or a pursuing ridicule.  What it means is that after you do your homework, giving guest, audience and subject matter their due respect, you can passionately yet graciously take a stand whether it be in the form of a tough line of questioning or choosing what may not necessarily be the most popular course of discussion for some.

This to me is the epitome of Colossians 4:6 . . . a gracious salt if you will in which you find that balance between controversy and respectful conduct, passion and civility, knowledge and understanding.

This of course is the ideal guideline for creating and maintaining the needed checks and balance in any discussion, debate or disagreement for all involved parties, myself included.

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Sometimes an interview takes you to unexpected places . . .

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom, Personal Spirituality, Redemption | Tags: , , , |

Sometimes an interview takes you to unexpected places . . . this has to be one of the most powerful segments that I have ever done, which is something given the people I have had the privilege of interviewing over the past 2 years.

Joining me last evening to continue the discussion that was started on our February 17th broadcast with RAW: Revelations of Authentic Women creator and visionary Janee Harrell, is one of the amazing five women who are featured on the program, Denai Vaughn.

Denai, who’s frankness regarding the physical abuse she endured during her childhood, including the fact that even when she had the courage to speak up none of the adults in her life believed her, delivers an inspirational perspective including how she has an adult has gained a new perspective on intimacy and her walk with God.

Remember to use the following link to access the on demand broadcast “RAW WomenTV: Revelations of Authentic Women (Meet Denai Vaughn),” as well as check out the RAW WomentTV Show website, which airs on networks across the US on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Meet Denai Vaughn:

Denai & Family

Denai Vaughn is a self-proclaimed perfectionist – the best of the best. If she is all she claims to be, then why does she struggle with low self-esteem and rejection? Will Denai conquer her battle to not be the best, but to be HER best?

RAW WomenTV Media Bite:

Be sure to check out the dedicate RAW WomenTV Section in both the PI Window on Business and Light of Love Blogs.

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RAW: Revelations of Authentic Women

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , , , , |

RAWWomenTV chronicles the issues women face in today’s world and exposes the truth about the supposed perfect lives women project.

Boldly introducing a new television genre, the talkumentary, RAW incorporates the one-on-one conversation element of a talk show with the authenticity of a documentary through its use of video journaling.

So goes the description of an exciting new TV series in which open and honest dialogue delivers meaningful insights from the lives of several women, without falling into the maudlin sappiness of a self-created life drama such as the ones involving the Lidsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons.

These are real women, talking about their lives in a real-world that is not obfuscated by celebrity and money.

Ultimately, it is this salient reality that promises to deliver something of value which is the common experience from the everyday lives of some amazing people.

Joining me on Thursday evening to talk about what is likely itself to become the most talked about show is RAW: Revelations of Authentic Women creator and visionary Janee Harrell.

About Janee Harrell:

Staying true to the talkumentary RAWWomenTV format, here is a compelling video from an interview with Janee Harrell:

Meet the Amazing Women of RAW TV:

Janee (at 11:00 position), Shelby (1:00), Suzannah (3:00), Yuri (5:00), Denai (7:00) and Thressa (9:00)

 

Click for Bios

Once again, remember to tune in to RAW: Revelations of Authentic Women at 8:00 PM EST on Thursday, February 17th on the Blog Talk Radio Network.

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Trapped at the intersection of Christian expectation and secular scrutiny

Posted on February 6, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

She’s one of the darlings of Canadian sport. Her exploits in the Summer and Winter Olympics have made her legendary. Her charity work for organizations such as Right to Play have made her beloved.

But what many of us didn’t know, until recently, is that she has had to battle demons of a very personal kind. Hughes battled deep depression, which threatened to derail her life, after winning two bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Olympics.

from CBC News, February 6th, 2011

The Clara Hughes’ story or perhaps revelation would be a better word, is powerful on many levels.

To begin you have an Olympic medalist, which would naturally imply to most an athletic prowress that is shaped through a mindset centered on a herculean level of self-discipline and self-assurance.  This perspective is  probably why athletes gain significant celebrity and wealth.  It would never cross our minds that with the fame and success that accompanies athletic accomplishment, there is a person who is subject to the same frailties that effect all human beings living in a fallen world.

Hughes’ comment that “I didn’t know what to do with all these things because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just knew something was wrong, but I felt like I should’ve been able to fix it, and there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t fix myself, and I couldn’t make myself better,” not only speaks directly to this reality but, also reflects the dilemma we as Christians face with more regularity than perhaps we would care to admit.

For some reason, and like a champion athlete, when we become Christians we think that we too should be equally invincible, and that the attitudes and responses we have should no longer reflect our secular selves.  In essence, we believe that we should know better and are quick to chastise ourselves when we ineviatbly fall short – and we do, of the ideal that we have come to embrace as being a member of God’s family.  The level of expectation is even higher when we are raised in a Christian home.

How can I suffer from depression . . . I am a Christian, we ask ourselves.  Why do I find it difficult to make ends meet financially, doesn’t God provide and, believing that He does, what am I doing wrong.

Of course fanning the flames of this eroding view of ourselves and our “level of faith” is a secular world, which grasping for answers, is all to eager to jump on what they would call bad behavior on the part of Christians in a see I told you so type of taunt.  A misery loves company kind of salutation that somehow makes them feel good to know that they themselves are not the only ones in a quagmire of confusion and disappointment.

It is a very interesting dance that we do while being in the world without being part of the world.

For more years than I would care to remember, I lived within this self-perpetuating cycle of desired affirmation and failed expectation, where with each misstep in the form of an angry word or a passing judgment on the actions of another, would ultimately lead to deflating self-chastizement.  After all, I am a Christian, I should know better!

She said ‘What’s wrong, Clara? You know, you can talk to me about this.’ And I just started telling her how I had been feeling for months at that time, and she just said ‘It sounds like you might be dealing with depression, and a lot of people deal with this, and there are many way you can look for help. … We’re going to get you better, and it’s going to be OK.’

That last point was really important for me, because that was the point where I realized that maybe I didn’t have to try and fix it by myself.

Similar to Clara Hughes’ epiphany that not only did other people suffer from depression but, that she did not have to “try and fix it herself,” we too has Christians have to be honest with ourselves and one another in terms of confessing our failures and shortcomings.  Besides corresponding with Bible direction (James 5:16), a non-judgmental acknowledgement that we miss the mark means that we can unleash the power of God through the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. 

This is the true liberation and meaning of Christianity in that we are a work in progress, and that despite our human fallibility we can take great comfort and have unquestionable confidence in what we read in Philipians 1:6 “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

With the knowledge of such an Amazing Grace, we can therefore run the race with an assurance that we do not do so alone, and that despite the inevitable stumbles and life challenges, our God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

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If She Knew What She Wants . . .

Posted on January 31, 2011. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom, Redemption | Tags: , , |

Note: This is a post from my blog Bipolar His (A Personal Diary of a Non-Bipolar Spouse)* in which I discuss the gift we have through freedom of choice, supernatural love and of course recognition of and belief in the eternal value of another human being.

On my own I do not have this capacity to love unconditionally, but through God and the grace born by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross I am empowered through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be more than a conqueror . . . and in the process of this renewal as I reach out to another I myself am ultimately saved.

* also be sure to check out the corresponding Bipolar Hers blog, written with honesty and courage by my wife Jennifer who has just recently been diagnosed as being Bipolar.

No sense thinking I could rehabilitate her
When she’s fine, fine, fine
She’s got so many ideas traveling around in her head
She doesn’t need nothing from mine

lyrics from the song If She Knew What She Wants by Jules Shear

The lyrics from the song cascade in an whirlwind of simultaneous recognition at both the challenges and melancholic ache one feels when you love someone who suffers from Bipolar disorder. This is especially true if you have always lived your life on the deepening principles of self-reliance and a belief in the freedom we have as human beings to exercise our own wills and chart the course of our lives.

I used to think, and within this context, how could anyone be conflicted to the point of not knowing what they want? Note the reference to the words used to.

Do not get me wrong, I still firmly believe that we are all given the great gift of free choice however, not all have the faculty or ability to use this freedom in the manner it was intended. Perhaps this is the lesson that I have had to learn being a partner in what is called the couples illness.

It’s funny but before Jennifer charted a new course which started with recognizing and then confronting the illness that for most of her life has colored the lens through which she viewed the world, she would often times in a fit of rage accuse me of controlling her. The basis for these arguments centered most around the frustration I would feel (and express) when yet another financial time bomb would go off leaving me scrambling to level the family ship on an even keel and make up for lost ground.

Some have a style
That they work hard to refine
So they walk a crooked line
But she won’t understand
Why anyone would have to try
To walk a line when they could fly

Nothing of course could have been further from the truth as you begin to realize the futility of trying to contain or minimize the damage that results from a rapid cycling of highs and lows. In fact there are times that you feel completely powerless because of the undeniable force that encompasses the one you love.

I’d say her values are corrupted
But she’s open to change
Then one day she’s satisfied and
The next I’ll find her crying
And it’s nothing she can explain


I am not talking about a deliberate cessation of decency or an outright abandonment of values, nor am I looking to provide anyone with an excuse for explaining away intentionally contrived bad behavior. Although it is the lack of clarity between this shifting moral line that separates the two, that obfuscates a true understanding of the irrationality with which you are dealing. It is as if you are flying in weather where the line of horizon that divides the earth from the heavens has vanished into an indiscernible haze of at times paralyzing uncertainty. You just do not know what to do anymore, and you certainly do not feel any sense of control or power.

Now some would suggest that you just leave, which given the fact that 90% of all marriages in which one or both partners is Bipolar ends is divorce, seems to be the ultimate choice or perhaps act of power one can exercise. But here’s the thing, when you love someone, and it is not a selfish love where the focus is on how that person makes you feel, there is a genuine caring that transcends simple emotion.

The undeniable pull of commitment that is based on something more than romantic love that reaches within a soul of a man that is neither the product of need nor the acquiescence of personal values in favor of martyrdom, but is instead rooted in the recognition of and belief in the eternal value of another human being. It is a supernatural love, where seeking a fleeting feeling of self gratification takes a back seat to the promises of a shared tomorrow.

It is in the promises of her sparkling smile and the crinkling of her furrowed brow when the sweetness of her vulnerability surfaces past the the muted undertones of extreme behavior that provides the evidence that this tomorrow is more than a hoping against hope mirage. It is elusive at times and for the time being to be certain, but it is real and it is with this power of free choice that I run the race . . . but not alone, for she is there with me. As long as we take this journey together, while there will be setbacks I am sure, together we will cross that line of realizing our potential both as individuals and as a couple.

The fact that Jennifer is beside me perhaps shows that she does after all knows what she wants!

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Are you a reservoir of fear or a river of freedom and giving?

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , |

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'”

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:18-21 New International Version

You know I have read this parable many, many times over the years and with each reflection came away with an understanding that one’s motives should be focused on the Lord and storing treasures in heaven versus on the material things of this world and accumulating what I will call perishable wealth.

Yet understanding and knowing are two different things in that I just realized yesterday morning that while I grasped the concept of what Jesus was saying, the kind of knowing resonation that brings about personal transformation had until then eluded me.

Let me explain that this post actually started taking shape on Saturday when, during my daily devotional I read a commentary which stated “right actions are not a result of one’s environment but of right thinking.”

This hit home because it helped to reaffirm what I have always known that while the circumstances of life can and do change (often times dramatically), our response should be based on the knowledge that God is a Sovereign God.  Specifically, by focusing on Him and yielding to Him through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our actions will be governed by the peace that is the result of His Sovereignty and not the ever shifting fortunes of an at times beautiful, yet fallen world.  Recognizing God’s Sovereignty is the right thinking to which I am referring.

What is really amazing about the manner in which God communicates with His children, is that I took the above reflective insight into church the following morning where, in a powerful oratory about finances, the preacher talked about our responsibilities in terms of being good administrators.  It was as if lights went off!

In essence, on Saturday God had pointed out how important right thinking is, and on Sunday He then highlighted where my thinking had to change in terms of being a good administrator and servant of the Lord.

For those who are perhaps reading this blog for the first time, you may not know about my background and why this is for me a major epiphany.

You see, in 2001 I had sold my software company to a larger publicly traded enterprise for $12 million (mostly shares and debentures).  Prior to that time my regular monthly paycheck was between $45,000 and $75,000 per month.  Yet despite this abundance, my administration of the blessings God had bestowed upon me was very much like the man from Jesus’ parable.  I had a reservoir mindset in which the more I received the tighter I held onto things.

Don’t get me wrong, I was generous in terms of making charitable donations – although I am not sure that it reached the 10% level of my income.  However, instead of placing my faith in God’s Sovereignty and truly recognizing that all blessings originate with Him, I put my faith in my barns of grain.  Wrong thinking!

As is the case with all things that are perishable, the dot com boom as it was called turned to a bust and in trying to keep my company going (i.e. keep filling my barns full of grain), despite the rapidly declining  revenues from a market that was imploding, I ultimately lost everything.  And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING!

Without going into the intervening years that have led to the many blessings that have come to me with the growing success of my present enterprise, our God truly is a forgiving and loving Father, I hit a crossroads in that almost imperceptibly the old reservoir mindset began emerging as I found myself once again “ambitiously” pursuing grain-filled barns.

I wasn’t falling into these old patterns of wrong thinking because I was dense (although some may suggest that I had in the past played one too many games of football without a helmet), nor was I trying to be purposefully disobedient to God.  It is just that it was the only way I knew how to think.

The difference this time is that God had instilled in me the desire to keep Him as the focal point of my life.  Because of this the Saturday awakening followed by the Sunday morning epiphany provided me with the ability to view things in another light.   Talk about the renewing of your mind!

As a result, and even though on Monday (Satan doesn’t waste time in terms of testing our resolve), circumstances tempted me to go off course because after all, old ways of thinking do not necessarily and entirely disappear at once, the recognition that my real and true eternal treasure is my relationship with God, resulted in the right kind of thinking that subsequently led to my taking the right actions.

These actions, which instead of  being driven by an attitude of need leading to reservoir thinking (re accumulate and hold), were influenced by an abundance mindset that was based on the loving faithfulness of a God who according to scripture such as Matthew 6:25, knows my real needs and will provide for them according to His riches in heaven.

It was precisely at that moment that the dam of fear broke open and the perishable reservoir of perceived earthly riches flowed as a tidal river of confidence, freedom and giving.

It is also at moments like these that I truly appreciate the greatness of the Lord and His love for me and for all of His children.

I can hardly wait for the next lesson!

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Self-Directed Intolerance: Apologizing For The Christian Faith?

Posted on September 9, 2010. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

“I agree that the absence of tolerance in the case of other religions is not in line with Christian values, but so to is the intolerance that comes about as a result of the excuse-me Christianity that seems to have permeated the fabric of our society.”

The above paragraph is an excerpt from the response I gave to a recent post on the Ecademy social network site which proposed that “Burning the Koran is Unchristian.”

While there is no argument there, especially when you consider the rantings of a Pamela Geller regarding the Ground Zero Mosque story (PI Post “Pamela Geller’s rhetoric appears to reflect a deep rooted prejudicial anger versus a real desire to heal“), I cannot help but wonder if tolerance has become a defacto religion in and of itself for those of us who profess to belong to the Christian faith.

In essence, have we in the process of tolerating other faiths, cultures and ideological doctrine and practices inadvertently demonstrated an intolerance for our Christian faith? More specifically, have we become more concerned with offending others overlooking the fact that we may be offending God?

Let me share with you the following story from a February 26th, 2010 post in the Light of Love Blog titled “What God Thinks of Us Should Be More Important Than Anything . . . Including Ratings

We are all of course familiar with the saying “what is popular isn’t always right, and what is rights isn’t always popular.”

Rarely has this statement ever been as true in my life as it was this past 24-hours.

The insightful journey as I will call it, began when I booked a guest for an upcoming PI Window on Business Show whose specialty is physiognomy which “is the art of judging human character from facial features.”

Having previously met the individual through another show’s broadcast I found it to be an interesting practice in that it appeared to offer a viable bridge between the virtual world of social networking, and the innate need for people to establish a face-to-face up close and personal rapport.

I must admit that I also recognized the entertainment value, especially given the extremely personable nature of the guest – who I might add had previously been on Oprah. In short it was likely going to be a ratings boon.

So here we are, the show is scheduled, pre-show promotion is underway and stimulating an incredible response from both existing as well as new listeners . . . what more could any radio show host want? That is when it hit me.

At first it started out has an uneasy feeling in which the only parallel I could draw would be to describe it to you has being similar to drinking from a carton of milk which hasn’t gone bad yet, but isn’t quite fresh either. A constant niggling or nudge if you will telling me that something isn’t right.

Despite the justification process upon which we all embark when we are at the intersection of competing interests, the more I ignored this feeling, the stronger it became, until I finally acquiesced and decided to dig a little deeper into the history of physiognomy. That is when I began to see that it was “possible” that this was a form of divination along the lines of palm reading and tarot cards. It was also at this point that my daily reading of the bible came into play, and in particular 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Like the proverbial neon light or five-alarm fire bell, God through the Holy Spirit could not have made it any clearer. At that moment I truly appreciated the importance of getting into and knowing God’s Word. Imagine what might have happened had I not been familiar with the Bible, and the scripture’s guidance relative to everyday life issues. Without the clarifying revelation from God’s Word, I might have done what most of us have and will do when our inaudible and knowing “inner voice” attempts to alert us to possible danger . . . ignore it.

For this reason alone, the daily walk with the Lord through bible reading and prayer is essential to sharpening your receptive instincts that transforms a vague feeling of uneasiness into a knowing awareness and perhaps even an awakening.

Now informed and empowered, I then faced the difficult task of taking a stand which in this instance meant that I would have to risk possibly offending both the guest and perhaps even members of my audience.

This of course is when the second revelation hit me in that even though strife and contention do not come from the Lord, when faced with a situation where we have to chose between offending our fellow man (or woman), or God, it is clear that our relationship with God takes precedence.

I also came to the realization that the starting point for what became a great lesson was ultimately rooted in pride. Specifically, the opportunity for increased ratings for my show. From this perspective, I realized that in my efforts to hit one out of the proverbial park by having a guest whose practice it turned out was contradictory to God’s Word, I was in essence being driven by the pride associated with having a successful program. I had for all intents and purposes (at least for a short period of time), lost sight of the prayer that I say before each broadcast which is found in Psalm 19:14; “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy site, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Knowing the above, it was clear what I had to do. I canceled the show and posted the following explanation on the show page, as well as sending a similarly worded e-mail to the guest informing them of my decision.

Based on the responses I have received, this seems to be an incendiary and perhaps even a controversial subject. (Note: not all audience members who wrote in were enthusiastic about my guest choice, although they were in the minority. That said even if there was an outcry against a particular guest or segment I would not have canceled the show if it had not contravened God’s word.)

While my original interest was peaked based on the concept of being able to bridge the gap between the virtual world of social networking and the apparent loss of personal contact that amongst others Hanifan had indicated was an essential element for developing the true community of purpose, it would appear that there is a great deal more to this subject.

To begin, and looking beyond its historical presence as far back as the Greek philosophers this seems to be one of the few areas in which the Christian Bible and Islamic Quran are in accord – at least from a specific reference standpoint. While the secular world defines physiognomy as “the art of judging human character from facial features,” it has also been described as the practice of “divination based on facial features.” It is this reference to divination where the aforementioned accord between the Bible and the Quran are in harmony.

This of course gave me pause for thought as I am a Christian. Because of this, I was immediately reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7 where we are told that man judges the outward appearance but God judges the heart.

These are the words that resonate with me the most . . . “man judges the outward appearance.” Referencing the definition of physiognomy as being “the art of judging human character from facial features,” I cannot help but feel that in some way for me personally I am compromising the very values that have become the foundation of my life.

In short, I will defer to God’s divine capability of judging the human heart over the limitations of our reduced and ultimately unreliable external vision. As such, I am honestly moved to cancel this segment.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I have to adhere to those values that are central to who I am.

At this point I have not heard back from the guest, nor has anyone written in to provide feedback one way or the other. Even though it may cost me listeners both today and down the road, I now know (if I already didn’t) that what we achieve here on planet earth means nothing if it is gained at the expense of our eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

By the way, that heavy feeling that had hung over me like a dark rain cloud disappeared the moment I took action on my decision to cancel the show.

The above experience ultimately saw me make a decision that was right for me from my own standpoint of personal conviction.

Whether I would be applauded or condemned by others while a consideration as it is for any person who steps up to the proverbial “take a stance” plate, was nonetheless irrelevant at the end of the day, because I had to make the decision that offending another human being was secondary to not offending God.

This doesn’t mean that I judge the other person, because that is neither my responsibility nor is it ultimately my right . . . re seeing the splinter in another person’s eye while having a log in mine kind of scenario.

To some this would be a form of intolerance. But this was a choice of sincere conscience. Just as for example Oprah’s “concerns” regarding the reference to God being a jealous God, and the impact this had on her view of Christianity was a sincere reflection of her values.

The point of course is simply this, let’s not while being understanding and accommodating towards others forget that tolerance is a two-way street.

Remember to also check out my latest audio commentary through Blog Talk Radio’s CinchCast “Are we more tolerant of other religions, while being intolerant of our own?.”

Video Commentary (PI Inquisitive Eye):

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Is Your Definition of Abundance Bringing You Closer to God?

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , , |

In listening to Dr. Charles Stanley this Sunday, he said that “If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will.”

This was and is a powerful statement on many levels, and one which caused me to reflect on my own personal journey in a new light as it related to my perception of abundance and the inherent risks of what has been referred to as “abundance preaching.”

We are all of course familiar with the many scriptures such as John 10:10 (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full), and Matthew 6:33 (But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you), and the promises they represent.

However, and in line with the first part of Matthew 6:33 (But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness), I could not help but wonder if we often times put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Specifically, how many of us “claim the victory” or the “promises of abundance” without really knowing if our definition is aligned with God’s definition of abundance and His will for our life.  In short, how many of us like the man in Luke 12:20 focus our attention on our view of what abundant living should entail at the expense (unintentionally at times) of a closer and more satisfying relationship with God?

I know from my perspective that hard work, and striving to succeed are considered to be admirable traits.  However my motivation behind said efforts in the past was focused on seeking a level of security that was eternally elusive as it was outside of a real relationship with my heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ.

I did (and at times still do on occasion) fall into the trap of equating a sense of security and well-being with the size of my bank account, instead of the eternal peace associated with a reliance on the abundant grace of my Creator.

It is within this context of course, that I gain an even greater appreciation of God “moving heaven and earth to show me His will” for my life, by His allowing circumstances to strip away every vestige of the false sense of security that came with great wealth.  In essence, by allowing me to lose everything, I in fact gained everything because I was put in a position of having to seek God and rely on Him and not material possessions.

This is an important distinction, because we often times apply our own interpretation to scripture as a means of getting to where we want to (or think we want to) go.

This is why in aligning ourselves with God’s will, we will avoid the pitfall of a hollow success in which the pursuit of lasting peace is always beyond our reach or, claiming a victory that God cannot allow as it would come at the heavy price associated with a perceived self-reliance.

Now some may say that in claiming the victory referenced in God’s word, they are in fact relying on God to meet their needs.  Like positive thinking or visualization, and there is nothing wrong with either of these in their proper context, they fall under the evangelical persuasion that “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

The danger of course is that without verifying what God means when he talks about abundance, and of equal importance, how our measurement of abundance corresponds with His will for the abundance he has planned for our lives, means that many Christians may very well be setting themselves up for disappointment.  And in failing to make this distinction, our teachers and ministers are inadvertently causing some to stumble and fall away when said expectations are not met.

For example, I am sure that when my young daughter asked if she could have a glass of pop for breakfast instead of milk or juice, she felt anything but grateful when I said no.  However, if I had acquiesced and given her pop, and then repeatedly yielded to her wishes to make her happy, before long she would likely find herself in the dentist’s chair with a toothache, or perhaps worse.

The point of course is simply this, by all means claim the promises of victory and abundant living referenced in God’s word.  We just have to make certain that we see and seek God has the true and only source of abundance, and therefore accept with it His definition versus our own.  Or in the spirit of these famous words, God may not always give you what you want, but He will always give you His very best.

When compared to God’s very best, all the money and riches of this world fade into obscure irrelevance.

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What God Thinks of Us Should Be More Important Than Anything . . . Including Ratings

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Bible Study, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , |

We are all of course familiar with the saying “what is popular isn’t always right, and what is rights isn’t always popular.”

Rarely has this statement ever been as true in my life as it was this past 24-hours.

The insightful journey as I will call it, began when I booked a guest for an upcoming PI Window on Business Show whose specialty is physiognomy which “is the art of judging human character from facial features.”

Having previously met the individual through another show’s broadcast I found it to be an interesting practice in that it appeared to offer a viable bridge between the virtual world of social networking, and the innate need for people to establish a face-to-face up close and personal rapport.

I must admit that I also recognized the entertainment value, especially given the extremely personable nature of the guest – who I might add had previously been on Oprah.  In short it was likely going to be a ratings boon.

So here we are, the show is scheduled, pre-show promotion is underway and stimulating an incredible response from both existing as well as new listeners . . . what more could any radio show host want?  That is when it hit me.

At first it started out has an uneasy feeling in which the only parallel I could draw would be to describe it to you has being similar to drinking from a carton of milk which hasn’t gone bad yet, but isn’t quite fresh either.  A constant niggling or nudge if you will telling me that something isn’t right.

Despite the justification process upon which we all embark when we are at the intersection of competing interests, the more I ignored this feeling, the stronger it became, until I finally acquiesced and decided to dig a little deeper into the history of physiognomy.  That is when I began to see that it was “possible” that this was a form of divination along the lines of palm reading and tarot cards.  It was also at this point that my daily reading of the bible came into play, and in particular 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Like the proverbial neon light or five-alarm fire bell, God through the Holy Spirit could not have made it any clearer.  At that moment I truly appreciated the importance of getting into and knowing God’s Word.  Imagine what might have happened had I not been familiar with the Bible, and the scripture’s guidance relative to everyday life issues.  Without the clarifying revelation from God’s Word, I might have done what most of us have and will do when our inaudible and knowing “inner voice” attempts to alert us to possible danger . . . ignore it.

For this reason alone, the daily walk with the Lord through bible reading and prayer is essential to sharpening your receptive instincts that transforms a vague feeling of uneasiness into a knowing awareness and perhaps even an awakening.

Now informed and empowered, I then faced the difficult task of taking a stand which in this instance meant that I would have to risk possibly offending both the guest and perhaps even members of my audience.

This of course is when the second revelation hit me in that even though strife and contention do not come from the Lord, when faced with a situation where we have to chose between offending our fellow man (or woman), or God, it is clear that our relationship with God takes precedence.

I also came to the realization that the starting  point for what became a great lesson was ultimately rooted in pride.  Specifically, the opportunity for increased ratings for my show.  From this perspective, I realized that in my efforts to hit one out of the proverbial park by having a guest whose practice it turned out was contradictory to God’s Word, I was in essence being driven by the pride associated with having a successful program.  I had for all intents and purposes (at least for a short period of time), lost sight of the prayer that I say before each broadcast which is found in Psalm 19:14; “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy site, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Knowing the above, it was clear what I had to do.  I canceled the show and posted the following explanation on the show page, as well as sending a similarly worded e-mail to the guest informing them of my decision.

Based on the responses I have received, this seems to be an incendiary and perhaps even a controversial subject.  (Note: not all audience members who wrote in were enthusiastic about my guest choice, although they were in the minority.  That said even if there was an outcry against a particular guest or segment I would not have canceled the show if it had not contravened God’s word.)

While my original interest was peaked based on the concept of being able to bridge the gap between the virtual world of social networking and the apparent loss of personal contact that amongst others Hanifan had indicated was an essential element for developing the true community of purpose, it would appear that there is a great deal more to this subject.

To begin, and looking beyond its historical presence as far back as the Greek philosophers this seems to be one of the few areas in which the Christian Bible and Islamic Quran are in accord – at least from a specific reference standpoint. While the secular world defines physiognomy as “the art of judging human character from facial features,” it has also been described as the practice of “divination based on facial features.” It is this reference to divination where the aforementioned accord between the Bible and the Quran are in harmony.

This of course gave me pause for thought as I am a Christian. Because of this, I was immediately reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7 where we are told that man judges the outward appearance but God judges the heart.

These are the words that resonate with me the most . . . “man judges the outward appearance.” Referencing the definition of physiognomy as being “the art of judging human character from facial features,” I cannot help but feel that in some way for me personally I am compromising the very values that have become the foundation of my life.

In short, I will defer to God’s divine capability of judging the human heart over the limitations of our reduced and ultimately unreliable external vision. As such, I am honestly moved to cancel this segment.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I have to adhere to those values that are central to who I am.

At this point I have not heard back from the guest, nor has anyone written in to provide feedback one way or the other.  Even though it may cost me listeners both today and down the road, I now know (if I already didn’t) that what we achieve here on planet earth means nothing if it is gained at the expense of our eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

By the way, that heavy feeling that had hung over me like a dark rain cloud disappeared the moment I took action on my decision to cancel the show.

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