To Change The World — Repost for Furgeson and Baltimore

Dear Readers,

I posted this poem a while ago. In light of last year’s tragic riots in Furgeson, MO, and this week’s in Baltimore, MD, I am choosing to do it again.

When I wrote it, I was thinking about the men and women whose positive words, lives and actions changed the world. Men like Jesus, who turned His world upside down by a doctrine of love and forgiveness. Men like Gandhi, who changed their worlds with non-violence and peaceful protest. Men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who changed their world with a dream and a vision. Women like Mother Theresa, who changed the world through sacrifice and service. Women like Princess Dianna, who changed the world through compassion and service to the least and lost.

The people in Baltimore this week started protesting from different races and socio-economic backgrounds. They did it in peace, seeking justice. That was a protest that meant something. Not the riots which followed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The world is not changed                                                 

Standard Time Zones of the World as of 2005. (...


By long speeches made

By someone whose words

Are bold and are grand.

The world’s only changed

When games stop being played,

And two people reach out,

And grasp hand to hand.

The world is not changed

By many a weary mile

By people who gather

To march in a long walk.

The world’s only changed

When to scared people smile,

And break down some walls,

To take time to talk.

The world is not changed

By acts of anger and rage,

By acting out unthinkingly

And causing great strife.

The world’s only changed

When love sets the stage

And a stranger reaches out

To help change one person’s life.

The world is not changed                                                                       

World! Wide! Love!


By those filled with hate,

Who spend their lives working

To draw others apart.

The world’s only changed

When someone refuses to wait

To dear down all the barriers,

And reaches out, heart to heart.

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Success 401 — Putting It All Together

As you recall, in my previous several posts, I have been discussing the principles of success as laid out by Robert Kiyosaki in his Cash Flow books. These are Long Term Thinking, Delayed Gratification and The Power of Compounding.

Let’s review what we’ve learned so far. Long Term Thinking is the element of patience over the long haul. It is the skill of hanging in to see something through to its end. It’s not getting our attention swayed by distractions or “good” things when we are holding out for the “best” things in our lives. It’s holding on when others have let go.

Delayed Gratification is denying ourselves something now, to use it as a leverage over ourselves when we achieve something later. We could perhaps afford it now (or maybe not), but as we keep to the discipline of denying it to ourselves until we reach our goal, it helps us to find the motivation to achieve what we want.

The Power of Compounding is the secret that small things, done consistently and with discipline, combine into great things. It’s the secret of the snowball and avalanche. Alone, snowflakes are nothing, and melt easily. When combined into a snowball, they are a bit more intimidating, especially if someone is throwing it at you! When joined into an avalanche, they are devastating in their impact.

So, how can we put them all together?? We do it by remembering that while these secrets work well alone, they work even better together. The synergy created when all three are combined is very powerful!

Consider personal growth, for example. Books, CD’s and events with positive, motivating people are proven methods when used in combination for adults to learn and grow personally and professionally. However, the process takes time, and results are often not seen immediately. Over a year or three, however, the change becomes evident.

That’s because The Power of Compounding is especially powerful when paired with the Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification. While our penny a day example we discussed in The Power of Compounding post radically compounds over 30 days, in real life, The Power of Compounding takes time, and Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification are definitely required to see the process through. This is especially true in matters of personal and professional growth! Having patience with the process is a necessary skill successful people develop. Those who are quickly frustrated or bored will hop to the next shiny object to attract their attention, before The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification has done its work in their lives.

So, what does all this have to do with success?? Remember my first post in this series when I was talking about the super-successful 1% born into the wealthiest, the 95% of most of us who aren’t super-successful, and the 4% who joined the wealthiest super-successful? The final 4% or so are those who were born into the 95%, but who through diligent work, study, learning and application of a few simple success principles launched themselves into the rarefied air of the 1%, making that total about 5%. In other words, they implemented the secrets contained in The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification to achieve their goals and dreams!

The books, CD’s and events hosted by LIFE Leadership are a remarkable and simple way to achieve personal and professional success through The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification. These are principles LIFE Leadership teaches, and where I learned most of what I know about them. I invite you to find out for yourself.

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Success 301 — The Power of Compounding

In my earlier posts, I discussed the idea the secrets of success are available to all of us, and not just the fortunate few in life. I mentioned best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki and his Cash Flow book series, and the clues he shares in it. In this post, we’ll discuss clue #3, The Power of Compounding.

If you will recall, I started this series with a story about talking to someone about whether they wanted a penny a day doubled, or $1 million. They chose the $1 million, not understanding the concepts of The Power of Compounding.

So, what happens when you use The Power of Compounding and double a penny daily for 31 days? The following chart is eye-opening!

DAY AMOUNT
1 $0.01
2 $0.02
3 $0.04
4 $0.08
5 $0.16
6 $0.32
7 $0.64
8 $1.28
9 $2.56
10 $5.12
11 $10.24
12 $20.48
13 $49.96
14 $81.92
15 $163.84
16 $327.68
17 $655.35
18 $1,310.72
19 $2,621.44
20 $5,242.88
21 $10,485.76
22 $20,971.52
23 $41,983.04
24 $83,886.07
25 $167,772.16
26 $335,544.32
27 $671,088.64
28 $1,342,177.28
29 $2,684,354.56
30 $5,368,709.12
31 $10,737,418.24

Now that we see the amazing things The Power of Compounding can do, how can we put it to use for ourselves, in our lives? Author Jeff Olson wrote about it in his book The Slight Edge.

He said small activities compound themselves over time. These result in big changes in our lives. When considering the impact incremental changes make in our lives, think about how much your body would change in a year if all you did was eat 1 donut every day, in addition to what you are eating now, without adding or subtracting anything else, or any exercise. What would happen? You’d gain weight!

In the same way,  saving a little money every month for years, slowly accumulating it, letting interest compound and never touching the balance will result in a nice nest egg years later if you start young. That’s why noted scientist (and acknowledged genius) Albert Einstein called The Power of Compounding Interest the 8th wonder of the world!

As you can see by these examples, The Power of Compounding can be used in our favor, or for our harm. In my next post, I’ll put all of what we’ve discussed so far together, and see where we’ve come out.

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Success 201 – Delayed Gratification

In my earlier posts, I discussed the idea the secrets of success are available to all of us, and not just the fortunate few in life. I mentioned best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki and his Cash Flow book series, and the clues he shares in it. In this post, we’ll discuss clue #2, Delayed Gratification.

What is Delayed Gratification? If you ask some people, you might get a blank stare of confusion. It is unusual to find people who actually understand it today.

However, prior to the 1960’s, Delayed Gratification was common in Western culture. Previous generations understood it very well. Credit was almost unknown to them. Purchases were made with cash or barter. Some of the only parts of society that had credit were businesses (though most operated on a cash basis) and the few who had mortgages for their homes or farms.

Today we have a credit driven culture. We often hear of young people graduating college many thousands of dollars in debt, not just in their student loans, but also because of credit cards, overspending and a failure to practice Delayed Gratification. We often hear of coworkers and relatives struggling with their finances because they got mortgages they couldn’t really afford or credit card debt due to not practicing Delayed Gratification. Some of this debt is due to life circumstances, such as job loss or catastrophic medical bills, but much more is due to a failure to practice Delayed Gratification than for other reasons.

We use Delayed Gratification when we see something we want, but don’t buy it immediately. We use the Long Term Thinking we discussed in my last post and set a goal to reach toward, understanding after we do the work to meet the goal, we can reward ourselves with the desired item.

To practice Delayed Gratification like that produces self-discipline as we do it over and over. Instead of acting on our impulses like small children, we grow into ourselves maturity and self-respect. We know we can see something we want, set goals, practice Delayed Gratification, apply some hard work and see the fruits of our rewards become manifest in our lives.

Toward this means, another purpose of Delayed Gratification is to teach us the stuff we set goals to acquire is just that, stuff. We learn the process and growth within the process is more important than the reward. By learning these things, we also learn some of the proper place in our lives of stuff, below invaluable things like relationships and undefinable things like life lessons.

I didn’t understand Delayed Gratification early in my adult life. I was a college student, paying for my needs with student loans and part-time jobs. A bit later, we got married. He’s a bit older than I am, and came equipped with credit cards, savings and cash to buy whatever we wanted and needed. A long series of financially unwise choices, including a failure to live frugally, and emergencies led to a crushing load of debt. Almost all this was debt we could have otherwise avoided, had we practiced Delayed Gratification.

It took us several years and information from our mentors and what we learned through the materials (particularly the best-selling Financial Fitness package) from LIFE Leadership to straighten out our financial mess caused by our own personal failure to practice Delayed Gratification. Now, we look at things we want, and if it’s not an immediate need we cannot live without (like necessary car repairs or medical bills), we look at our list of goals, decide where it would be appropriate on that list to reward ourselves with it, and put it on there.

Delayed Gratification is why our relatives think we’re out of touch with reality because we have smart phones but don’t use our data plan (as they do), and don’t have tablet computers (as they do). Do we have the money? Most folks have the money for something they really want, and if we looked, we could probably get a tablet. But practicing Delayed Gratification is teaching us discipline, self-denial and is an undeniable cure for the instant gratification culture in which we live today.

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Success 101 – Long Term Thinking

In my previous post, I discussed the idea the secrets of success are available to all of us, and not just the fortunate few in life. I mentioned best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki and his Cash Flow book series, and the clues he shares in it. In this post, we’ll discuss clue #1, Long Term Thinking.

What is Long Term Thinking? If you ask some people, they will suggest it means starting planning your next weekend on Monday morning. Others might start talking about the vacation they are planning for next summer.

When I was a kid, Long Term Thinking meant I was considering how long it was until summer vacation, or Christmas, or my birthday. Do you remember being a kid, and summer vacation seemed like it was 10 years long, and sometimes schooldays felt like they were each 2 days long? Many children feel that way. Unfortunately, while we all grow up, some of us don’t grow out of this way of thinking.

In his blog post Exertion, best-selling author and leadership expert Chris Brady talks about Long Term Thinking and its effects on people’s lives.

Exertion –→ over time -→ massive results

It is the concept of “over time” in which Chris Brady emphasizes the value of Long Term Thinking for us. He emphasized the “over time” factor is a critical key to success.

What does “over time” mean? In his post, Chris tells the story of football superstar Jerry Rice, considered by many to be one of the best players in the game of all time. His rise to fame was less than meteoric. He went from a unheard of high school to tiny college, to a seventh round NFL draft pick, to the San Francisco Forty-Niners, where he mastered his craft over twenty years of hard work. Jerry Rice’s story is a true study in Long Term Thinking.

In his book The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson talks about the growth of water lilies. It is another case study in Long Term Thinking. In a pond, lilies spread unseen under the surface over time until they take it over. Once the pond is taken over by the lilies, they pop up seemingly miraculously overnight, blooms and lily pads covering the surface with beauty.

In his book Good To Great. author Jim Collins discusses what makes people successful. He studied people from many walks of life, and discovered they all had one thing in common. Each one of these people used Long Term Thinking and practiced whatever the thing that was their passion no less than 10,000 hours each to obtain the mastery levels the world pays great prices to see.

In our microwave culture, Long Term Thinking is often a foreign concept. Long Term Thinking is not considering about what will happen this month or this year, though that’s helpful. It’s about seeing the future you want for yourself, looking 5, 10 or more years ahead of where you are now. It’s using that picture of the future and starting to work toward it now. Long Term Thinking is what Henry David Thoreau meant when he said,

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

You can turn any castles of your dreams into reality by starting with the critical key of Long Term Thinking.

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Success Is For The Fortunate Few – Or Is It?

I had an interesting conversation a while ago. I had been listening to a recording by LIFE Leadership claude-speakingfounder Claude Hamilton about some of the thinking he used to be successful. It reminded me of something I’d heard before, so I tried asking the person I was talking to about it.

I asked, “Which would you rather have, a penny a day doubled daily for 30 days, or $1 million?” The person I was talking to said $1 million. Unfortunately, because that person doesn’t know the rules of success I’ve learned, they answered as most of us would, which sadly is wrong.

Many of us start out in life thinking success is for people who have talent, or who are “lucky,” or smart, or “born on the right side of the street,” or whatever. And yes, while there are a few who do win life’s family lotto and are born into wealth and seemingly instant success, most of the rest of those who succeed do it in largely the same ways. I don’t mean they use the same paths of occupation. Hang with me, and I’ll explain.

Best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki points out in his Cash Flow book series those who win life’s birth lotto are born into families who have learned the secrets of success, and pass these on to their children. These families account for about 1% of the population in the West. Any family in this group that doesn’t teach success to their children and grandchildren loses its wealth, no matter how immense and painfully accumulated, in a generation or two. 20th Century Industrial Age history of families who were successful show these concepts quite clearly.

The rest of us, not born in that 1%, account for about 95% of the Western population. However, I’m sure you’ve noticed there is a math discrepancy, which can be easily explained. The final 4% or so are those who were born into the 95%, but who through diligent work, study, learning and application of a few simple success principles launched themselves into the rarefied air of the 1%, making that total about 5%.

Kiyosaki goes on to explain, among other things, there are three concepts which make up the means by which “ordinary folks” can employ to attain the kind of success of which I speak. These are:

  1. Long Term Thinking
  2. Delayed Gratification
  3. The Power of Compounding

In the next few posts I will further discuss these concepts in detail, as I understand them. While I have learned much about them, I will be the first to admit my understanding is still incomplete. If you want to know more, you may refer to information available through LIFE Leadership, where I learned it, for further study.

Oh, and in case you were wondering when I was going to explain how that person was wrong in their math in the story which started this post, stay tuned and be patient, please. I will get to it in a future post in this series, I promise.  😉

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My Mom Was Rich – Guest Post

The following eulogy was given on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at our mother’s funeral by Suzanne Aardema, one of my younger sisters.

Suzanne said so much good stuff about our mother’s life and the example she left for us, I asked her if I could share it with you. I told Suzanne her words deserve a much wider audience than just those of us present that morning. I am reprinting it (other than the emphasis, which was how she said it) exactly as she wrote it. Thank you, Suzanne, for allowing me to post it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hi. Thank you for coming.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my mom, she was rich.

Mom worked a bunch of lousy, low paying jobs in order to help make ends meet in a family with five kids, and yet mom, she was rich.

You see, my mom, she understood the secret to being rich. My mom understood that being rich is not about what you have or what you can get. Mom understood that the secret to being rich is in what you can give.

From the time that I was a young child I can remember my mom exemplifying that giving spirit in how she lived.

The door was always open. Everyone was welcome, and there was always enough for another plate at the table.

My mom and dad opened their home to so many people over the years. People who were down and out. People who needed a place to stay temporarily or for a longer time. There were the foster children, and my brother’s friend Allen from high school who had been booted out by his parents.

There was Mary, a young lost woman who mom took under her wing. Mary became a part of the family lived with us for several years until she could get back on her feet.

My friend Ray from college lived at the house for a while, and even my husband stayed there long before he was my husband or even my boyfriend.

The Makokha family came and stayed for the better part of a year, and they became a part of our extended family. Then there was Diego who lived there for like, forever and then Bruce. I’m sure that I’m missing a few names.

The door was always open and everyone was welcome. Even when times were tough, there was always enough for another plate at the table. Because my mom, she understood the secret to being rich.

I remember in my wild high school days I used to have friends sleep over a lot. One night I had permission for my friend Donna to sleep over. Well, I came home with not one, but two friends.   I can still remember sneaking my friend Vickie up the stairs on her hands and knees while mom was sitting in the living room. Of course, we were laughing so hard, she suspected something was up. But when she came upstairs and opened my bedroom door and saw the three of us there, she just laughed. Everyone was welcome.

Even in my wildest years, my mom never gave up on me. She kept hoping, praying, believing that I would come around. She bailed me out of trouble and disciplined me because she could see the bigger picture.

My mom understood that serving was better than being served. As many of you know, she was involved in this church and served in various capacities for many many years.

She sang in the choir, served in the altar guild and the prayer chain. She regularly visited shut-ins, and organized a woman’s retreat.

Mom loved this place, and she loved the people here. Even as her health declined over the past several years, the only thing that mattered to her was being able to get to Our Savior’s church every Sunday so that she could worship.

I never realized what an impact she had made here until I was speaking with my friend Arleen the other evening and she told me about how mom had supported her and the other young mothers with the moms group for many years. Mom was always there, praying, interceding, supporting.

Mom was rich in life. A loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She loved travel, adventure and trying new things. I remember when we went to Israel together in 1993, she couldn’t wait to ride the camel. That was the highlight for her.

Mom was a woman of faith, and she understood the principle of Galatians 5:6, that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. She lived her faith by loving the people around her.

Even in her final moments, mom gave us a gift to cherish.

I have lived overseas for almost 20 years, and my brother Rob and sister Judi have also lived outside of this area for most of their adult lives. Whenever we came to visit or mom came to visit us, there was one thing that remained constant. Whenever it was time to say goodbye, mom would tear up and cry. It never failed. She hated to say goodbye.

In her final moments, she knew that she wasn’t going to see us for a while. Her eyes opened and tears streamed down her face as she said her final goodbye.

As mom walked into the arms of Jesus, she was a very rich woman. It has nothing to do with the amount of finances that she did or didn’t have in her bank account.

Her life was rich because she understood that being rich is not about how much you have or what you can get, but it is about how much you can give.

I hope her example inspires us all.

Thank you.

Christmas 2013

 From left to right (siblings in birth order): Rich, me, Judi, Suzanne, Rob & in front, Mom

Yours Mine Or Ours (The Encroaching of Collectivism)

How do we define where our rights as individuals end and our responsibilities as members of collective society begin? Is it fair to define what is mine without society telling me what I can or cannot do with it within the confines of reasonable laws and sensibilities?

I recently came across an article online that got me thinking about this question. It also got me thinking about something that came up about 6 months ago along the same lines. I’ll get back to that in a bit.

The article was about some people vacationing in Europe and having dinner at a restaurant. The group ordered their food, and received more than they could eat, leaving about 1/3 of it behind. Others got upset with them, and called local officials, who fined them 50 Euros for wasting food. The article, from http://36meals.blogspot.com/2011/10/money-is-yours-but-resources-belong-to.html, went on to say the following:

The officer then told us in a stern voice: “ORDER WHAT YOU CAN CONSUME, MONEY IS YOURS BUT RESOURCES BELONG TO THE SOCIETY. THERE ARE MANY OTHERS IN THE WORLD, WHO ARE FACING SHORTAGE OF RESOURCES. YOU HAVE NO REASON TO WASTE.”

A senior police officer of the Hamburg police ...

The tourists were sympathetic to the officer’s position, and the blog went on to condemn the Western attitude of being able to order and eat as we please, perhaps wasting some in the process. While I cannot condone the greed and gluttony which prompted ordering and wasting of large amounts of food, the attitude of the officer and the reaction of the tourists disturbs me. Greed and gluttony are two of the Seven Deadly Sins, the others being wrathslothpridelust and envy. However, society has had a history of failing to successfully legislate and enforce legislation against any of these human ills. This is because morality is an issue of the heart, and not of just behavior.
English: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four La...

The Seven Deadly Sins

The other side of it, the one from 6 months ago, was a report of an MSNBC network news reporter stating children belong to the community at large, and not their parents. (http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/04/09/critics-slam-msnbc-hosts-claim-that-kids-belong-to-community-not-parents/

Melissa Harris-Perry recorded a commercial for the network in which she stated that children do not belong to their parents, but are instead the responsibility of the members of their community.

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children,” she says in a spot for the network’s “Lean Forward” campaign. “So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

Melissa Harris Perry

Ms Harris-Perry faced a firestorm of criticism from pro-family, religious and politically conservative groups for her statements. Many considered her comments to stem from elitist thinking, while there were those who supported it. To declare parents are not the primary responsibility for their own children, as they have been since parents started having children, was radical at best and polarizing to say the least.

In both cases, there is an allegation being made that the rights of the collective societal community are greater than the rights of the individuals within it. It is asserted the state is a tribe, collective or hive, protecting the resources for the good of all within it to distribute as it sees fit. It is this collective mentality I seek to address.

The U.S. was founded on the principles of human freedom, dignity and individual rights over the rights of a collective state society. The founding documents are clear in these areas. It is only when the rights of the individual overstep and move into the rights of another that the state has a right to step in and declare the boundaries have been violated. To put it in more simplistic terms, as I learned it as a child, my rights end where yours begin, and it is the state’s job to make sure those lines remain clear. And the state’s job ends where my rights, and yours, begin.

In this individualized paradigm, for the most part, the needs of the few outweigh the needs

Individuality

Individual

of the many. The few or one are given as great a weight in considering decisions as are the many. Individual rights are more difficult to trample, as are the rights of minorities. When everyone has rights and they are all honored and respected, it becomes easier to accord rights to others, and the society as a whole benefits. In such a society, leaders come from within, rising as defenders of rights of individuals and minorities. Leadership becomes something possible for the many, not the few.

The U.S., Austrailia and Canada have been good examples of this individual societal paradigm. Founded on the beliefs the rights of individuals are paramount, these states have enjoyed social and economic freedom envied around the globe. Historical examples can also be found in Greece and pre-Empire Rome.

bee hive

bee hive

The attitude I see in both stories is the rights of the hive or collective or tribe is greater than the individuals within it. When a tribe is given the rights of the resources, whether these be food, shelter, clothing or children, the tribe becomes more important than the individuals within it. The needs of the many in this case therefore outweigh the needs and rights of the few or the one. Only the needs of the society as a whole are considered.

When no one has rights to be respected, it is rule by majority, with individual and minority rights being lost in the mob. In this society, leaders are those with best access to resources, or who are given power by those who already have it. Leadership becomes something impossible for the many, but not for the few.

Examples of the collective societal paradigm can be studied in the communist societies such as pre-Glasnost Russia, East Germany, North Korea and Cuba, to name but a few. It’s not a paradigm that’s not been wanting and not tried. It’s been repeatedly tried and found consistently wanting.

Best-selling author, blogger, leadership expert and business leader Orrin Woodward said

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward

the other day on Twitter,

Societies, Civilizations & Corporations all decay from within before they are overcome from without.

Any attempt to move the U.S. from its fundamental principles of individual human freedoms as clearly outlined in its founding documents is decay in its society. I’ll say that again: Any attempt to move the U.S. from its fundamental principles of individual human freedoms as clearly outlined in its founding documents is decay in its society. Attempts such as these examples, and others like them we see on an alarmingly almost daily basis, are to be resisted.

The only way to remain a free society is to decide we want to be one, and then to take the necessary actions in the social media, the mainstream media, the voting booth and in legal protest to make sure our voices are heard and clearly understood. Sometimes, all it takes is someone standing up and saying, “NO!” Let’s all be that someone.

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

A Little Bit Of Heaven

What is Heaven like? I remember asking that question as a child. I suspect if we were raised in any kind of religious home, or had any experience with the death of a loved one at a young age, most of us asked it at one point or another when we were children. For the most part, unfortunately, I think it went largely unanswered, or insufficiently answered. I know it did for me.

Somehow, the picture that springs to mind, largely fueled by the media, of cherubs fluttering around with harps and lounging on clouds, is at best unsatisfying. At worst, it seems patronizing and trite.

Wenceslas Hollar - Concert of cherubs in the c...

So, what is Heaven like? It’s a subject preachers don’t often mention, because they don’t have a lot to go on, save for the words of Jesus and the visions of prophets like John in Revelation, Ezekiel and Isaiah. Jesus gave us analogies, mostly picturing what He wanted His Church to be like. Jesus’ word pictures were largely centered in people’s relationships to one another and to His Father. John, Ezekiel and Isaiah spoke of when the world finally ends, and what will happen. Though if you ask Bible scholars of differing theologies, you will get at least 4 or 5 different interpretations of what they said. This ends up being confusing at best.

Preachers don’t often mention it in sermons also because most Westerners don’t want to face the inevitability we will all eventually die. We are often perpetually self-deluded individuals, who act as if we will live forever, when we know at heart we will not. We find the topic of death uncomfortable, and put off discussions about it. This can also lead to eternal damnation for those who do not face it and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in the here and now.

So, what is Heaven like? I heard someone speak once about music and worship, and what he believed it would be like in Heaven for those who believe in Jesus as Savior. He said everyone who wrote music to praise God would sing it before Him, with everyone else listening. All the different music styles, languages and cultures throughout the ages would give their music in a huge concert of praise to God.

He also said all the different cultures through the ages would bring before God what made them special, what God put in them to be unique. Tribal dances, animals, costumes and patterns, music and traditions would create a gigantic parade of splendor. Folks from Africa might come with lions, zebras and gazelles, dancing and singing. Folks from China might come with pandas and silks. Folks from India would bring elephants and tigers. All the wealth of every nation and diverse cultures would be on display, all for the glory of God.

I think about it, and am reminded of the scene from the movie “The Ten Commandments,” when the wealth of Egypt’s subject peoples were brought in tribute to Pharaoh. It would be like that, only on a far grander, vastly more epic scale than our human minds can comprehend. Talk about your concerts of praise!

English: Chris Tomlin performing a concert in ...

Chris Tomlin

I was reminded of all this when I saw a video on FaceBook this week. It is Christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin, singing his popular worship song, “How Great Is Our God.” In the video, he is joined by church worship leaders from around the world, singing in Spanish, Chinese, Swahili and other languages. They were all singing the same song in their own languages, sometimes at the same time. The joyful rendition reminds me of that picture of Heaven I was taught, which is the best description of it I’ve heard so far.

Here’s the link. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-ZtKzw-ipo

And, if you are not someone who has acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your own life, I invite you to do it now. Heaven eventually awaits those who follow Him, and He gives a full and complete life to them in the here and now as well. If you do, please let me know in the Comments section. I will keep it private, and I will do what I can to link you to a local church in your area, where you can grow in your new faith.

The Courage To Stay (Part 1) – A Parable

Once upon a time, there was a land ruled over by a benevolent and kind king and his council. His subjects, though few, were happy. His dukes and princes came from the ranks of common people and acquired their titles through great service to them.

Each duke and prince was responsible for the well-being of the people in their region, and they worked hard to help they prosper and succeed. It gave the common people joy to know they could aspire to their ranks. As word of the happy kingdom spread, more people came, desiring to be subjects of this good king, and thus the kingdom grew and prospered.

Eventually, as time passed, the good king grew old and tired, and passed the rulership of his kingdom to his sons. He counselled them to listen to the advice of the council, as well as the dukes and princes. And for a time, as the sons learned to rule, they took this wise advice. So the kingdom continued to prosper and grow.

After some time, however, some of the older council members passed their titles on to newer ones the sons chose. Unfortunately, the sons began to slowly choose people who would want to do things to help the sons and the council, and not always the people. They also began to build up armies, which quickly grew great in size and influence.

Many of the dukes and princes started telling the sons and the council how their decisions were harming the people and the kingdom. Some started visiting other kingdoms, and the sons sent their armies against them, declaring them traitors. The dukes and princes who stayed kept telling the sons about the harm they were doing. At the same time, they were encouraging the people to do the right things for the kingdom, telling them not to visit other kingdoms or rebel.

Finally, the sons, their council and the generals of their armies met with some of the leaders of the dukes and princes who were speaking out for the people and kingdom. The dukes and princes were told if they did not stop speaking, they would be called traitors and the armies would be sent against them, too. With great courage, these dukes and princes said they’d rather be called traitors and have armies against them, then to harm the people any more.

The dukes and princes went to a no man’s land, where no kings dwelt. Many of the people who were encouraged by them followed them. Life was hard there, with no livelihood, and the armies of the kingdom coming against them. The dukes and princes gladly gave of what they had so the people would be able to live. Most of them stuck together, and the strong survived the wilderness.

Eventually, another kindly king heard of their plight, and offered to give the dukes, princes and people land to build new homes. The offer was gladly accepted, and all the people rejoiced at the compassion of the king. The people, who had grown weak and almost starved on their journeys, began to recover and thrive once more.

But the armies of the sons’ kingdom still came against them again and again. Time after time, the dukes and princes would have to go to war, while the common people were able to rest in safety, and often in ignorance.

Eventually, a few of the dukes and princes tired of the war, and signed a peace treaty, while the others fought on. The peace treaty divided the dukes and princes, and eventually the people. Those who signed the treaty went to another part of the new kingdom, farther from the borders and war, to live in more safety. Most of their people left with them, but some stayed. These were called turncoats by their dukes and princes.

Those who refused to sign the peace treaties stayed with their people, refusing to sacrifice their honor for some safety. It took great courage for these dukes and princes to stay! The dukes and princes saw some of the people who stayed had no one to lead them, and accepted them as their own. These people had great gratitude towards their new dukes and princes! Most of the people knew very little of the fight of the dukes and princes, and the toll it was taking on them. But the dukes and princes continued the war, because now it was a matter of honor to them.

After long years and much struggle, the dukes and princes won their war. The victory was a quiet one for them, because most of the people still didn’t know how hard they’d fought. Soon, though, they went to the new king and told him they wanted to start their own kingdom, in alliance with his. They would move mostly out of his territory, into uncharted lands that looked to their scouts to be very prosperous, which were right on the borders of where they now were. They offered trade agreements and exclusive accesses. To their delight, the kindly king agreed to all their requests and gave they his blessing! The dukes and princes who’d moved into safer areas tried to join them, but the king and the brave dukes and princes who stayed said only those who’d had the courage to stay during the hard times of war were welcome during the prosperous times of peace.

The dukes and princes who had the courage to stay became the ruling council and set up a peaceful kingdom, where the people flourished and the kingdom grew quickly. New dukes and princes arose, and some even rose to the ruling council. The alliance with the kindly king held firm, and the agreements blessed both sides. The kingdom was a happy place, and the people rejoiced in the wisdom and courage of their rulers.

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There are many examples of courage in literature and history. In my parable, I have explored with you, dear reader, a few aspects of the courage it takes to stay when others are running away. In my next post, The Courage To Stay – Historical Examples (Part 2), I will go more specifically into it.