Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enron and Ezekiel

During my morning quiet time I was reading in Ezekiel 33 and the words made me recall the Enron scandal. If you had no personal stake in energy stocks in the 90’s Enron may cause only a dim flicker of recognition. A quick reminder: “At the end of 2001, it was revealed that (Enron’s) reported financial condition was sustained substantially by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud, known as the 'Enron scandal'. Enron has since become a popular symbol of willful corporate fraud and corruption. The scandal also brought into question the accounting practices and activities of many corporations throughout the United States.”

The particular moment in the Enron scandal that came to my mind was of Ken Lay, CEO, who said as he was being led away, “I have made my peace with God.” It was this quote that came to mind as I read Ezekiel 33:10-17. Verses 12 & 13 specifically: “The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.' 13 If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done.”

Ken Lay received many awards and honors for good work and yet one substantial charge against him was “assurances Lay gave, in the months leading up to Enron's fall, to employees about the company's financial health at the same time that he was quietly unloading his own Enron stock.”

Ken Lay is just a public example of how often we consider ourselves “good people” and yet knowingly and willingly do wrong. We are quick to justify our deeds; it’s a white sin it’s no big deal, it’s an acceptable sin. Justifications alone signal we need to check our actions.

I would never argue that Ken Lay did not make peace with God. Jesus Christ came to earth to offer forgiveness when we continue to do wrong, but a mature Christian is well aware that we are supposed to turn from evil, seek what is good, act in a Christ like manner. When we knowingly do wrong, what then?

The lesson is, as we mature in our Christian walk we are made more sensitive to the easy, culturally acceptable sins and we should begin to turn from them. As we mature, God increases our sense of right and wrong. The Health of Your Spiritual Heart makes sense to the maturing Christian.

We must be careful not to fall into the belief that “a white sin, a little wrong” will be okay. Ken Lay died of a heart attack before he was sentenced for his crimes. He discovered, likely much sooner than expected, whether he did, indeed, make peace with God. Even in the privacy of our heart the truth of our motivation is known. Ezekiel’s words should not fall on deaf ears.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review-The Kingdom of God Is a Party

It was instantly evident, as I read The Kingdom of God Is a Party, that Tony Campolo and I are kindred spirits. It would be no surprise that he and I share the same descriptors on any personality test. With that said those who are not kindred spirits will likely not agree with his comparisons and opposite personalities will likely be sharply critical.

Campolo introduces his premise by explaining that in order to communicate the gospel to the current generation, the words and imagery need to affect the current generation. Words and images need to come from their culture; where they live, what they do, how they communicate. He posits the word “party” is the word best used to describe God’s kingdom to the modern listener and reader.

His first essential point, which warrants closer inspection, yet flies in the face of long standing pulpit proclamation, is this: “Once a year, according to what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 14, all the people of God were to bring one-tenth of all their earnings to the temple in Jerusalem. Imagine! One-tenth of Israel’s GNP! And it was not to be used for mission work. It was not to be used for charity. It was not to even be used to build an education annex onto the temple. It was to be used on a gigantic party. Here! See for yourself:” Deut. 14:22-29.

Campolo is quick to explain that the tenth is for the party but it also limits what we should spend on the party. The work of the kingdom is to be done with the remaining 90 percent. “The 90 percent is to be sanctified for the work God has called us to render as we join Him in establishing His kingdom here on earth.”

This concept is his hardest sell. If you buy into the first point, the remainder of the book reflects on the lack of “joy” expressed in the church body and how it should be, and can be, expressed at home and at work using the “party” image. Campolo doesn’t discount the trials and sufferings of life but points out we have reason to party because of the eventual triumph of God; Romans 8.

Campolo develops an interesting concept but Christians have a poor record for understanding the gift of salvation much less showing their joy over having accepted it. Unfortunately, I expect his call to arms will largely be ignored.

What I have taken from The Kingdom of God Is a Party is a re-evaluation of my “tithe” and a conviction of how much more I could/should be doing with what God has given me, for the kingdom. As well, those happy souls don’t need to apologize for any cheerfulness they exhibit. If the joy stems from our knowledge of Christ, and what he has done in our lives, we need to openly and joyfully exhibit that too.

Does your life reflect the joy of a life in Christ?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breakfast Lovers . . . Ta Daa!

During our Weight Watchers run, we discovered the next best thing to sliced bread; the Back to Basics toaster. This is a “must have” for anyone who loves breakfast. It cooks an egg, makes toast and will heat pre-cooked meat, all at the same time. You can fix an egg mcmuffin sandwich while you are brushing your teeth.

One of our favorites is a mini omelet; take a small amount of green pepper and onion, add a tablespoon of water and microwave for 30 seconds. Add an egg and whip. Pour into the Back to Basics egg pan having added the two tablespoons of water, add your bread, press the button for both egg and toast, and now go finish getting ready for the day.

This process is even faster if you dice your omelet items and pre-cook your bacon, sausage or breakfast meat so you can mix and go.

A soft yolk egg is also available by cracking the egg into the pan whole. The amount of water in the steamer will determine the softness of the yolk. Follow directions for your perfect egg.

The average price is $35 with the option of a double egg/4 slice model available.

This is a perfect gift for the college dorm room. Guarantee students start their day with a good breakfast, or sell breakfast sandwiches to the other residents for extra gas money.

If you are a fan of breakfast put this item on your Christmas list this year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Word about Coffee

I was 42 years old, in 2003, when I became a coffee drinker. The coffee era was in full swing, Starbucks beginning it’s ascension in 1987, and I was late coming to the table. I always enjoyed the smell of coffee brewing but never acquired a taste for the bean.

The concept of ‘candy coffee’ dressed up with sugar, flavored creams, steamed milk, whipped cream and sprinkles sounded yummy but at those prices, coffee fell into the category of a ‘special treat’. As the rest of society worked these expensive, calorie laden coffee concoctions into their daily budget, I sipped along on hot chocolate and green tea.

It was at a dinner party. Coffee was offered after the meal. A confirming nod from my husband, in answer to my raised eyebrow question of “Is it any good?” had me saying yes, to a cup. They served flavored beans, freshly ground and brewed. A convert was born. This modest setting opened up the world of; flavored coffee beans, personal grinders, flavored creamers, drip brew, coffee pressers and under the counter with timer coffee pots. With my own coffee bar accessories in-house I went from zero to a pot of coffee, daily, in under 30 days.

As my coffee palate matured and sophisticated, favorites have emerged. Always cost conscious and as environmental as my wallet and taste buds will allow, this is my coffee gold; for cost and flavor the 8’Oclock brand is top shelf. Hazelnut beans a favorite. Folgers comes in second with their Chocolate Truffle and Carmel Drizzle pre-ground. Not one to drink my calories, Splenda is the sweetener of choice.  ½ & ½ is Weight Watcher friendly at 1 point per serving. Flavored creamers are saved for special occasions. The Christmas Coffee Mate flavors are worth splurging on; Peppermint Mocha, Pumpkin Spice and Eggnog.

A true pleasure is sitting on the back porch, on a cool morning, sipping a fine cup of coffee with someone you enjoy . . . mmmm, now that’s good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Laundry . . . I Love It!

There is a base satisfaction to a line of fresh laundry, swinging in a gentle breeze, on a sunny day.

Not everyone will relate to my enthusiasm for the wash but those who do, understand the pleasure derived from the smell of warm clothes coming out of the dryer, a white shirt crisp with starch or the artistic picture of colorful shirts hanging on the line.

With all the possible household chores, laundry is one that I don’t mind doing.  Every week it brings me the satisfaction of a job well done; from the sorting, to the hanging, drying and ironing. There is an art to hanging out clothes; no towels as they dry rough, tuck personals behind the sheets and wrinkles are imminent, but that’s for a good iron to take care of.

It would be ecologically correct to say I hang out the clothes to be ‘green’, and D. installed the line with that in mind, but I really just enjoy the frontier feeling of pinning up wet clothes and letting the wind do its job.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Post on Godly Gals

Today I was the guest blogger on Mel Mashburn's  Godly Gals series.  Come over and check it out!