Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.
Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.
This blog is an Alltop selection and ranked in HR's Top 100 Blogs for Management & Leadership.
I am happy to report a blessed banner year for All Grace Outreach (AGO) in 2012. While many charities are struggling, AGO nearly doubled it fundraising thanks to a growing LIFE Leadership business. Another amazing attribute of the AGO charity is the percent of funds that actually reach the charities, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the board and LIFE Leadership staff. AGO is a nondenominational Christian charity that focuses on spreading the gospel message and serving those in need. LIFE Leadership gives 100% of its AGO Series (a monthly book and audio subscription) corporate profits to help fund the charity. In addition, the LIFE Leadership community gives generously at conventions during the Sunday morning worship services.
Several years back, Tim Marks, Chris Brady, and I had numerous conversations on how to build the AGO charity properly. AGO is not a church; consequently, we developed several principles to operate by. For instance, although man may divide Christ’s church into denominations, we know that Christ unites all Christians on the Cross by His sacrifice. In other words, we will not go by our denominations in heaven, but merely as servants of the King. Hence, AGO gives to charities supported by Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, and others. Accordingly, AGO’s goal is to support charities that advance Jesus Christ’s Kingdom by fulfilling the Great Commission. The entire AGO Board would like to offer our thanks for all of those who made 2012 such a blessed year.
Throughout 2012, All Grace Outreach continued its mission of impacting and improving the lives of children both locally and globally and funding Christian outreach efforts throughout the world. It was a phenomenal year for AGO. We feel humbled, honored, and blessed to have been able to touch the lives of so many struggling people as we spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our fundraising efforts for 2012 brought in $397,760 (a 95.5% increase over 2011). The operating expenses for the year totaled $6,110, of which $3,968 was used for booklets that are handed out for free, with the remaining for accounting, banking, and office items. Donations totaled $344,850, with the remaining $46,800 designated for donation to various charities in the 1st quarter of 2013. As a result, 98.5% of the funds were, or will soon be, distributed by AGO to organizations that focus on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and/or assisting women and children. Following is a list of some of the organizations that AGO supported in 2012. We pray that God will use all donations for His glory and renewed hope and a better quality of life for those in need.
A New Beginning Pregnancy Center
Pregnancy Care Centre
Wisdom for the Heart
Zoie Sky Foundation
AGO does not employ any paid staff and runs completely on volunteer labor. Words cannot express how grateful we are to all those who have contributed their time, talent, and effort to advance our cause. We look forward to what God has in store for 2013. May His love and grace abound to all those who thirst and hunger for His love.
Rarely in our pagan past does one find courage and humility used to describe the same person; however, G.K. Chesterton explains how true Christianity marries the two seemingly paradoxical terms together within believers. In today’s dumbed-down culture, reading Chesterton can stretch a person’s thinking, not to mention his vocabulary. 🙂 Still, I encourage everyone to sift through Chesterton’s thoughts and wrestle with the ramifications of the Christian faith for leadership in society today. The greatest leaders are humble and courageous. How? Because they know their cause is bigger than themselves and their own personal needs. (See RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFEfor more on purpose.) The bigger the purpose then, the less about self it is. For those who would change the external world must first change their internal mindset. The LIFE business cannot transform the world until the members have transformed themselves. This is the ultimate assignment. Here is the close of Chesterton’s article.
I have not spoken of another aspect of the discovery of humility as a psychological necessity, because it is more commonly insisted on, and is in itself more obvious. But it is equally clear that humility is a permanent necessity as a condition of effort and self-examination. It is one of the deadly fallacies of Jingo politics that a nation is stronger for despising other nations. As a matter of fact, the strongest nations are those, like Prussia or Japan, which began from very mean beginnings, but have not been too proud to sit at the feet of the foreigner and learn everything from him. Almost every obvious and direct victory has been the victory of the plagiarist. This is, indeed, only a very paltry by-product of humility, but it is a product of humility, and, therefore, it is successful. Prussia had no Christian humility in its internal arrangements; hence its internal arrangements were miserable. But it had enough Christian humility slavishly to copy France (even down to Frederick the Great’s poetry), and that which it had the humility to copy it had ultimately the honour to conquer. The case of the Japanese is even more obvious; their only Christian and their only beautiful quality is that they have humbled themselves to be exalted. All this aspect of humility, however, as connected with the matter of effort and striving for a standard set above us, I dismiss as having been sufficiently pointed out by almost all idealistic writers.
It may be worth while, however, to point out the interesting disparity in the matter of humility between the modern notion of the strong man and the actual records of strong men. Carlyle objected to the statement that no man could be a hero to his valet. Every sympathy can be extended towards him in the matter if he merely or mainly meant that the phrase was a disparagement of hero-worship. Hero-worship is certainly a generous and human impulse; the hero maybe faulty, but the worship can hardly be. It may be that no man would be a hero to his valet. But any man would be a valet to his hero. But in truth both the proverb itself and Carlyle’s stricture upon it ignore the most essential matter at issue. The ultimate psychological truth is not that no man is a hero to his valet. The ultimate psychological truth, the foundation of Christianity, is that no man is a hero to himself. Cromwell, according to Carlyle, was a strong man. According to Cromwell, he was a weak one.
The weak point in the whole of Carlyle’s case for aristocracy lies, indeed, in his most celebrated phrase. Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men. But the essential point of it is merely this, that whatever primary and far-reaching moral dangers affect any man, affect all men. All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired. And this doctrine does away altogether with Carlyle’s pathetic belief (or any one else’s pathetic belief) in “the wise few.” There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. Every oligarchy is merely a knot of men in the street—that is to say, it is very jolly, but not infallible. And no oligarchies in the world’s history have ever come off so badly in practical affairs as the very proud oligarchies—the oligarchy of Poland, the oligarchy of Venice. And the armies that have most swiftly and suddenly broken their enemies in pieces have been the religious armies—the Moslem Armies, for instance, or the Puritan Armies. And a religious army may, by its nature, be defined as an army in which every man is taught not to exalt but to abase himself.
Many modern Englishmen talk of themselves as the sturdy descendants of their sturdy Puritan fathers. As a fact, they would run away from a cow. If you asked one of their Puritan fathers, if you asked Bunyan, for instance, whether he was sturdy, he would have answered, with tears, that he was as weak as water. And because of this he would have borne tortures. And this virtue of humility, while being practical enough to win battles, will always be paradoxical enough to puzzle pedants. It is at one with the virtue of charity in this respect. Every generous person will admit that the one kind of sin which charity should cover is the sin which is inexcusable. And every generous person will equally agree that the one kind of pride which is wholly damnable is the pride of the man who has something to be proud of. The pride which, proportionally speaking, does not hurt the character, is the pride in things which reflect no credit on the person at all. Thus it does a man no harm to be proud of his country, and comparatively little harm to be proud of his remote ancestors. It does him more harm to be proud of having made money, because in that he has a little more reason for pride. It does him more harm still to be proud of what is nobler than money—intellect. And it does him most harm of all to value himself for the most valuable thing on earth—goodness. The man who is proud of what is really creditable to him is the Pharisee, the man whom Christ Himself could not forbear to strike.
My objection to Mr. Lowes Dickinson and the reassertors of the pagan ideal is, then, this. I accuse them of ignoring definite human discoveries in the moral world, discoveries as definite, though not as material, as the discovery of the circulation of the blood. We cannot go back to an ideal of reason and sanity. For mankind has discovered that reason does not lead to sanity. We cannot go back to an ideal of pride and enjoyment. For mankind has discovered that pride does not lead to enjoyment. I do not know by what extraordinary mental accident modern writers so constantly connect the idea of progress with the idea of independent thinking. Progress is obviously the antithesis of independent thinking. For under independent or individualistic thinking, every man starts at the beginning, and goes, in all probability, just as far as his father before him. But if there really be anything of the nature of progress, it must mean, above all things, the careful study and assumption of the whole of the past. I accuse Mr. Lowes Dickinson and his school of reaction in the only real sense. If he likes, let him ignore these great historic mysteries–the mystery of charity, the mystery of chivalry, the mystery of faith. If he likes, let him ignore the plough or the printing-press. But if we do revive and pursue the pagan ideal of a simple and rational self-completion we shall end–where Paganism ended. I do not mean that we shall end in destruction. I mean that we shall end in Christianity.
Here is part two of G.K. Chesterton’s article. Chesterton compares the best virtues of our pagan past with the paradoxical virtues of the Christian faith and arrives at insights that everyone ought to think deeply upon. Whether a person ultimately agrees or not, it’s important to know why he believes what he believes. Again, the key to this blog is to stimulate thought in a friendly and non-combative fashion. Remember, a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Consequently, all real change begins on the inside when a person begins to think. In sum, that’s the goal of the LIFE business. Here are some profound thoughts by Chesterton to think upon. 🙂
My general meaning touching the three virtues of which I have spoken will now, I hope, be sufficiently clear. They are all three paradoxical, they are all three practical, and they are all three paradoxical because they are practical. It is the stress of ultimate need, and a terrible knowledge of things as they are, which led men to set up these riddles, and to die for them. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of hope that is of any use in a battle is a hope that denies arithmetic. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of charity which any weak spirit wants, or which any generous spirit feels, is the charity which forgives the sins that are like scarlet. Whatever may be the meaning of faith, it must always mean a certainty about something we cannot prove. Thus, for instance, we believe by faith in the existence of other people.
But there is another Christian virtue, a virtue far more obviously and historically connected with Christianity, which will illustrate even better the connection between paradox and practical necessity. This virtue cannot be questioned in its capacity as a historical symbol; certainly Mr. Lowes Dickinson will not question it. It has been the boast of hundreds of the champions of Christianity. It has been the taunt of hundreds of the opponents of Christianity. It is, in essence, the basis of Mr. Lowes Dickinson’s whole distinction between Christianity and Paganism. I mean, of course, the virtue of humility. I admit, of course, most readily, that a great deal of false Eastern humility (that is, of strictly ascetic humility) mixed itself with the main stream of European Christianity. We must not forget that when we speak of Christianity we are speaking of a whole continent for about a thousand years. But of this virtue even more than of the other three, I would maintain the general proposition adopted above. Civilization discovered Christian humility for the same urgent reason that it discovered faith and charity—that is, because Christian civilization had to discover it or die.
The great psychological discovery of Paganism, which turned it into Christianity, can be expressed with some accuracy in one phrase. The pagan set out, with admirable sense, to enjoy himself. By the end of his civilization he had discovered that a man cannot enjoy himself and continue to enjoy anything else. Mr. Lowes Dickinson has pointed out in words too excellent to need any further elucidation, the absurd shallowness of those who imagine that the pagan enjoyed himself only in a materialistic sense. Of course, he enjoyed himself, not only intellectually even, he enjoyed himself morally, he enjoyed himself spiritually. But it was himself that he was enjoying; on the face of it, a very natural thing to do. Now, the psychological discovery is merely this, that whereas it had been supposed that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by extending our ego to infinity, the truth is that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by reducing our ego to zero.
Humility is the thing which is for ever renewing the earth and the stars. It is humility, and not duty, which preserves the stars from wrong, from the unpardonable wrong of casual resignation; it is through humility that the most ancient heavens for us are fresh and strong. The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, “the light of common day.” We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightning, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, in which we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.
The terms “pessimism” and “optimism,” like most modern terms, are unmeaning. But if they can be used in any vague sense as meaning something, we may say that in this great fact pessimism is the very basis of optimism. The man who destroys himself creates the universe. To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea. When he looks at all the faces in the street, he does not only realize that men are alive, he realizes with a dramatic pleasure that they are not dead.
Last night, while doing some research on the Greeks for a future book, my mind kept ruminating on Solomon’s statement “vanity of vanities” as I read the history of the Greek’s self-destruction. While pondering human sinfulness, I started to read the last article in a book of essays on the genius of the Greeks. Even though I had no idea who the author was when I started reading, within minutes I knew this writer viewed the intellectual landscape from a different perspective than the rest of the essays. The whole book was fascinating, but the last article, by G.K. Chesterton, blew me away. Remarkably, in less than 3,000 words, he summed up what I was wrestling with, capturing the similarities, as well as the differences, between the best of the Pagan past and the Christian future.
Indeed, most of the authors raved about the greatness of the Greeks, and truth be told, there is much to admire and respect. Still, when one methodically analyzes the Greeks’ dreams in comparison to their historical realities, it’s enough to make the most optimistic of leaders (me) suffer from temporary melancholia. 🙂 In a nutshell, Greek society’s apex was the united city-states defeat of the previously invincible Persian Empire. Unfortunately, however, after a thirty-year Periclean peace, the rest of Greek history is one long series of fratricidal wars, ending with the Roman Conquest and Pax Romana. In consequence, some of the greatest mental achievements (in philosophy, politics, science, theater, etc.) in the world’s history were accomplished in the midst of the mass destruction of the very civilization responsible for their creation.
Needless to say, Chesterton’s article was a breath of fresh air, helping me sort out the gap between the Greek dreams and the Greek realities. Why is this important? Because the LIFE business has big dreams as well. One of my reasons for reading about past leaders and cultures is to learn lessons from their example so I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes. Yesterday, Chris Brady and I discussed how much one can learn by simply reading, listening, and associating. 🙂 Without any further ado, here is the first of several posts on Chesterton’s Pagans and Christians.
The real difference between Paganism and Christianity is perfectly summed up in the difference between the pagan, or natural, virtues, and those three virtues of Christianity which the Church of Rome calls virtues of grace. The pagan, or rational, virtues are such things as justice and temperance, and Christianity has adopted them. The three mystical virtues which Christianity has not adopted, but invented, are faith, hope, and charity. Now much easy and foolish Christian rhetoric could easily be poured out upon those three words, but I desire to confine myself to the two facts which are evident about them. The first evident fact (in marked contrast to the delusion of the dancing pagan)—the first evident fact, I say, is that the pagan virtues, such as justice and temperance, are the sad virtues, and that the mystical virtues of faith, hope, and charity are the gay and exuberant virtues. And the second evident fact, which is even more evident, is the fact that the pagan virtues are the reasonable virtues, and that the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity are in their essence as unreasonable as they can be.
As the word “unreasonable” is open to misunderstanding, the matter may be more accurately put by saying that each one of these Christian or mystical virtues involves a paradox in its own nature, and that this is not true of any of the typically pagan or rationalist virtues. Justice consists in finding out a certain thing due to a certain man and giving it to him. Temperance consists in finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that. But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.
It is somewhat amusing, indeed, to notice the difference between the fate of these three paradoxes in the fashion of the modern mind. Charity is a fashionable virtue in our time; it is lit up by the gigantic firelight of Dickens. Hope is a fashionable virtue to-day; our attention has been arrested for it by the sudden and silver trumpet of Stevenson. But faith is unfashionable, and it is customary on every side to cast against it the fact that it is a paradox. Everybody mockingly repeats the famous childish definition that faith is “the power of believing that which we know to be untrue.” Yet it is not one atom more paradoxical than hope or charity. Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.
Now the old pagan world went perfectly straightforward until it discovered that going straightforward is an enormous mistake. It was nobly and beautifully reasonable, and discovered in its death-pang this lasting and valuable truth, a heritage for the ages, that reasonableness will not do. The pagan age was truly an Eden or golden age, in this essential sense, that it is not to be recovered. And it is not to be recovered in this sense again that, while we are certainly jollier than the pagans, and much more right than the pagans, there is not one of us who can, by the utmost stretch of energy, be so sensible as the pagans. That naked innocence of the intellect cannot be recovered by any man after Christianity; and for this excellent reason, that every man after Christianity knows it to be misleading.
Let me take an example, the first that occurs to the mind, of this impossible plainness in the pagan point of view. The greatest tribute to Christianity in the modern world is Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” The poet reads into the story of Ulysses the conception of an incurable desire to wander. But the real Ulysses does not desire to wander at all. He desires to get home. He displays his heroic and unconquerable qualities in resisting the misfortunes which baulk him; but that is all. There is no love of adventure for its own sake; that is a Christian product. There is no love of Penelope for her own sake; that is a Christian product. Everything in that old world would appear to have been clean and obvious. A good man was a good man; a bad man was a bad man. For this reason they had no charity; for charity is a reverent agnosticism towards the complexity of the soul. For this reason they had no such thing as the art of fiction, the novel; for the novel is a creation of the mystical idea of charity. For them a pleasant landscape was pleasant, and an unpleasant landscape unpleasant. Hence they had no idea of romance; for romance consists in thinking a thing more delightful because it is dangerous; it is a Christian idea. In a word, we cannot reconstruct or even imagine the beautiful and astonishing pagan world. It was a world in which common sense was really common.
Because of my background as a product/process engineer, the molecular machines found within living cells are fascinating to me. These assemblies aren’t just machines metaphorically. Rather, speaking as an engineer who designed electric-motor pumps for nearly a decade, these units are truly micro-machines with functions/features beyond anything currently imaginable within the electric-motor design community.
How is it possible for world-class, patentable designs, which any engineer would be proud to invent, to be labeled as time/chance occurrences? Let’s reflect on this. On one hand, the most intelligent, skilled, and knowledgeable engineers in the world cannot recreate the functions/features of these machines using all available knowledge. And yet, on the other hand, the general public is repeatedly indoctrinated with the idea that time and chance alone created these complex machines.
Perhaps, for those not trained in the technical fields, this may be believed because one doesn’t understand the leaps of logic made from simple structures to complex machines. However, for an engineer who worked in this field for a decade, it is difficult to swallow some of the conclusions. For instance, one of my four patents improved an electric motor – rotors, stators, and magnets, shafts, bushings, etc. – and yet the machines within the cell blow away the functions/features designed within the patented part. Can you imagine an engineer developing a motor with equivalent functions to these molecular motors and management refusing him a patent because they reject “intelligent design” as a cause prima facie based upon their naturalistic philosophy?
In his landmark book Darwin’s Black Box, Dr. Michael Behe describes machines as having “irreducible complexity”:
By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution.
In other words, all the parts of the machine must be in place for the unit to function properly. If any part of the assembly is missing, then the function is not accomplished. Accordingly, the unit would not survive the time/chance model of evolution as Darwin described it. Remarkably, at the cellular level, there are numerous “irreducibly complex” machines that cannot be accounted for within any known evolutionary model hypothesis.
Even so, everything I have just described is actually just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the most significant aspect of the cell is the unexplainable (by naturalistic means) DNA information code. To build the cell with proper specifications requires an operating code that spells out the sequence of events in its exact order. How big are these operating codes one might ask? Neo-Darwinian Dr. Richard Dawkins states that one bacterial cell contains more information (in the form of specific step-by-step instructions) than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Furthermore, the billionaire super-programmer Bill Gates elaborates, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”
Nonetheless, Dawkins, despite conceding, “The machine-code of the genes is uncannily computer-like,” unabashedly rejects a programmer to account for the volumes of programming code. I say rejects a programmer, but that’s not technically correct anymore. Surprisingly, in an interview with Ben Stein for his movie Expelled, Dr. Dawkins, after a caustic attack on God, was all too quick to postulate on the viability of “aliens from another planet” designing life on earth. It appears that philosophical naturalists and scientific evolutionists don’t have an inherent problem with design and programming as such; otherwise, they would reject all designers and programmers. Instead, it seems that design is acceptable as long as it isn’t “The Programmer” called God. Dawkins, in other words, doesn’t reject design or designers; he just inherently rejects God. Evidently, in this instance, it isn’t data, but dogma driving his conclusions.
At any rate, the information code and irreducible complexity, even after decades of time, are still unexplained phenomena within the evolutionary paradigm. In my opinion, the specific programmed information within the cell is the single biggest hurdle for an evolutionary world-view. For example, the complex protein synthesis operation is coordinated by a blueprint inscribed in the four-letter DNA chemical alphabet, which is then translated into the twenty-letter alphabet of the proteins. Just this protein synthesis process alone is more complicated code than the writing of this blog with its twenty-six letter code you are reading.
Simply stated, books don’t write themselves regardless of how much time or chance is provided. In a similar fashion, computer programs, the size of Encyclopedia Britannica, require profounder thought than just a pencil-whipped time/chance explanation. Increasingly, the scientific community is waking up to the fact that Darwinism has huge problems and is without a viable hypothesis to account for information and programming. Without answers, these massive fissures will eventually lead to modern evolutionary theory, as we know it, collapsing on its own unsupported foundations.
Biblically speaking, this is nothing new. When a man denies God, it’s not from the data, but from dogma. The scientific research continues to reveal overwhelming evidence of design and programming. Nevertheless, the naturalist world view rejects God outright; therefore, regardless of what the data indicates, if it points to intelligent design, then it must be rejected as a matter of faith. Astonishingly, it’s not that they don’t see where the data leads them, but rather, they reject the data for taking them where they didn’t want to go. The Apostle Paul explains this phenomena in Romans 1:18-23 (ESV):
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Hence, scientists, like the rest of mankind in their fallen condition, deny the truth set before them. Science, however, by its very definition, is no longer science when it accepts dogma over data. Consequently, what we are watching unfold in the intelligent design/evolution controversy is less about science and more about philosophical world views. All of us can benefit by learning from all sides of the controversy. Science, in order to be science, must allow the data to speak for itself, but the data overwhelmingly points to design/programming, which leaves naturalists in a moral quandary. Either they reject their world view and continue to be scientists, or they reject science and continue to be the priest and prophets of naturalism.
Let me close with one more thought. The Human Genome Project, completed in 2000, described the hereditary information in the genome of DNA as the “book of life.” Watson and Crick discovered that DNA stores text, but not until Francis Collins and his Human Genome team, did scientists begin to decipher its full message. The resulting revolution has catapulted biology into the information age. Again, this is nothing new for a Christian. In fact, the Apostle John started his Gospel with the importance of the Word. What if this Word was a program for life within each living creature? We know every living cell is organized around information-driven machines. Let’s review John’s words on the Word in John 1:1-4 (ESV) with our new understanding from science.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
As a Christian, I am not afraid to seek truth wherever it may lead. How about you? Are you on a quest for truth, allowing the data to lead where it may? Or, are you on a quest for dogma, repeating slogans learned in school regardless of its relevance or accuracy today? Living as a human being today demands one to think through what one has learned, separating fact from fiction. I respect the scientists and their research on all sides of this issue. They are amazingly hardworking and intelligent; however, I refuse to swallow anyone’s paradigms without thinking through the ramifications.
In the same way, whether one agrees with everything I wrote is not the point. The key is that you start thinking about what you “know.” Indeed, it’s not as important that we all think the same, but it is desperately important today that we all start to think.
After nearly twenty years of working with people, building teams, and leading people, I have learned that there are many Biblical truths that can be applied daily. For instance, Romans 1:18 clearly explains why unrighteous people refuse to see the truths about themselves and their sinful condition. In the ESV version of the Bible, Romans 1:18 reads, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Paul wrote this epistle to explain why the people who see the truth of God all around them—systems designed beyond the capabilities of today’s best engineers, anthropic principles that if off by even the slightest amount would not have supported mankind, and proof (cosmological, teleological, and natural theology) that points toward a Creator—suppress and reject it. Interestingly, nearly 2,000 years ago, Paul, in apparent anticipation of today’s faithless age, captured the reason why people chronically suppress truth.
Certainly Paul’s statement was intended to reflect the suppression of the truth of God, but it has secondary applications as well. For example, even today’s secular leadership manuals teach the importance of “confronting reality,” the same principle Paul expounded above. Leaders have learned that people do not like dealing with uncomfortable truths of any size. Whether that truth is major (like the existence of God) or small (like miscommunication with a co-worker), people quickly suppress the truth, allowing themselves to be held blameless while the other party is held responsible for any issues. Consequently, most people never fulfill their leadership potential because they are too busy suppressing truth to learn from it.
Have you ever wondered why it is that people see others’ faults so clearly, yet seem to struggle to discover, or at least admit discovery of, their own? This is a big challenge. Even so, imagine what could change in a person’s life if he could see his own areas of needed improvement as easily as he sees others’. This is a HUGE part of the leadership journey and a HUGE part of a mentor’s role. I can promise you this: People who run around blaming everyone but themselves for their current predicaments are hopelessly self-deceived through the repeated suppression of truth. (Internet Haters come to mind. 🙂 ) Thankfully, few people allow themselves to slide so far from truth; however, all of us veer from truth to some degree. Thus, one of the key leadership assignments is to identify and address areas where untruth has seeped into one’s thinking. In other words, a problem identified is half solved.
Mentoring matters because it helps people see their blind spots and begin working on them. I have been blessed with superb mentors over the years and have read many books that have helped me. With that said, my wife Laurie, who has developed the tact and courage to address her husband in love, has done the best job of pointing out where I might be suffering from suppression of truth at any given time. It is my assignment, as a leader confronted with truth, to view the situation without emotion and address the facts as they are, not as I want them to be. No one is perfect at this art, but with practice and courage, a person can grow and change. The Mental Fitness Challenge from the LIFE business is a personal mentoring program to improve one’s ability to deal with truth.
What about you? Are you dealing with uncomfortable truths in your life? Let me speak to the Christians reading this post for a moment. Christians need to understand that suppressing truth in any area of life is just another name for sin. That may sound strong, but please hear me out. Suppressing truth is really just a simpler way of saying that people would rather believe comfortable lies than difficult truths. Since the Bible states that all lies come from the “father of lies,” then suppressing truth makes one believe lies and, in that instance, a person has chosen to follow Satan, not God. This is a significant distinction that I believe would revolutionize the Christian church. The Christian church must repent from believing Satan’s lies in any area of life and begin to live and reflect God’s truths again.
Okay, okay, I will hop off my soapbox now. I just encourage each person to examine his thinking and identify where the suppression of truth may be hurting him. If you have mentors, then seek their help in the process. 2012 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for so many, and I encourage you to break through, too. Below is the inaugural HBRN Leadership Factory interview. Tony and I asked Claude Hamilton on as our special guest and we dove into the mentoring process. Enjoy.
Recently, I finished several weeks of extensive study of the Gospel of John. What struck me most was the many references to darkness and light scattered throughout the book. Indeed, further research has led me to the conclusion that light and darkness is themed through the entire Bible. Numerous verses direct those who desire mercy to come to the light. In contrast, those who reject the light do so because they desire evil deeds more than mercy.
Take time this Sunday to contemplate your life and work. Every person needs forgiveness; however, only those who come to and live in the light will receive it. I have attached several verses that I pulled together on the subject to write the following poem on light and darkness. It seems that people who love darkness HATE anyone who reflects Christ light. Even so, Christians are commanded to reflect His light anyway and are without excuse for cowardice.
So here is my question for Sunday morning: Are you walking in the light or hiding in the darkness? If in the light, are your reflecting that light into the darkness of the world? Stop hiding in the darkness and shooting at the light; instead, come to the light and receive mercy.
When Chris Brady called me last year and told me he was working on another book, that didn’t surprise me as he loves writing and has produced a series of wonderful books; however, when he sent me over a draft copy, I knew immediately this one was different. Chris, although certainly one of the top leaders in the personal development field is, in truth, difficult to fit into the typical leadership expert genre. Indeed, because of his versatility developed through numerous experiences, innovations, and interests, Chris talents flow in so many directions – he’s artistic, witty, philosophical, humble, and the most creative person I have ever met!
Chris applies all of these qualities in writing this book. In fact, Laurie and I have toured Italy several times in my life, but we felt reading A Month of Italy was as enjoyable, if not more so, than us actually being there. How is that possible? Because Chris, through his creative writing style, gives you a seat in the Brady mini-bus as they tour the Italian countryside. In addition to the informative history and gut-splitting humor shared during the day trips around Italy, Chris will also have you pondering the finer distinctions in life, like the difference between the urgent and important, as you “experience” renewal within the context of the Brady family vacation. I laughed; I cried; I thought; but most importantly, I changed after reading this book. Below is Chris’s description of his new book.
Have you ever felt overworked, overstressed, maxed out, and out of focus?
Have you ever needed a break from it all, and by that, I mean something more than a frenzied weekend or busy plastic vacation?
Have you ever had enough of your cell phone, emails, social networks, texts, and the like?
Have you ever felt like you were out of balance and needed some serious restoration?
Have you ever considered the fact that you could take a career break – a sabbatical – to allow you to clear your head and restore your focus?
Have you ever dreamed of traveling through the back roads of Italy and seeing the famous Tuscan countryside?
Have you ever wanted to sample Italy’s cuisine, sunsets, culture, art, architecture, and history?
Are you entertained by humorous narrative and adventure stories?
For anyone who can answer “yes” to even one of these questions, I am happy to announce that my latest book, A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation, is set to debut this July. For just a little taste, here is the dust jacket inscription:
What can possibly be said about Italy that hasn’t been already? Primarily, that you can enjoy it too! Refreshingly relate-able in a genre previously populated by wealthy expats and Hollywood stars, this book chronicles an ordinary family taking an extraordinary trip, and most importantly, paves the way for you to take one of your own! With hilarious wit and fast-paced narrative, Brady thrills with honest commentary on what a “trip of a lifetime” actually feels like, and most endearingly, he succeeds in convincing you that not only should you take a similar one, but that you will! Within a few pages you’ll be visualizing panoramic Tuscan vistas and breaking open the piggy bank, laughing as you turn the pages and dreaming of your own escape. This story is one of going slow in order to go fast; it’s about rediscovering and brining back into favor a lost art, namely, the art of vacation, and it is, or rather should be, a story about you.
Here are some of the early reviews:
“I was intrigued from the first sentence clear through the book! It teaches so many life and leadership lessons—about family, relationships, learning, improving, and becoming better. I’ll read it again and again, and I’ll read it on the plane on every vacation I ever go on.” – Oliver DeMille, NY Times best selling author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, Freedom Shift, and 1913
“A beautiful story and pivotal idea for a book!” – Richard Bliss Brooke, author of Mach II, The Art of Vision and Self Motivation and The Four Year Career
“With humor, Brady guides you through heart-warming history, incredible beauty, the most gracious people, and of course, the world’s most delicious food and wine! After reading his entertaining work, you will be charting your own course to Italy.” –Sharon Lechter, Co-author of Outwitting the Devil, Three Feet From Gold and Rich Dad Poor Dad
“Extremely engaging and delightful – a well told story!” – Chris Gross, CEO Gabriel Media Group, Inc., cofounder of Networking Times.
“This is a book every traveler should read and bring along in order to experience the best of Italy.” – Dr. Gaetano (Guy) Sottile, President and Founder, Italy for Christ, Inc.
“Witty, funny, and at points downright hilarious, but mixed with profound truths shared in a way that makes one pause and ponder.” – Orrin Woodward: Winner of the 2011 IAB Top Leadership Award
“A spell-binding lesson in learning how to live again, with real purpose. You can’t stop turning the pages . . . .” – Art Jonak, founder MastermindEvent.com
“I have never read a book that teaches so much while being this fun at the same time.” – Tim Marks, best-selling author of “Voyage of a Viking”
“This is the best work Chris Brady has written to date. If this is a vacation handbook, it has redefined the vacation experience.” – Venkat Varada, Silicon Valley Executive
“Vacationing truly is a lost art, and Brady poignantly and beautifully illustrates why it is so vital for driven leaders. A timeless treatise on ‘sharpening the saw,’ A Month of Italy is a book I will sip and savor, ponder and reflect on time and time again. Not only are Chris’s insights powerful and refreshing, but his vivid and witty writing is simply a pleasure to read. Reading this book is a charming vacation itself, and it will inspire you to vacation deliberately, effectively, and joyfully.” – Stephen Palmer, New York Times best-selling author of “Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America”
“In our hectic lives we are rarely 100% present in any situation. Chris Brady shows that with proper play time, our work time is so much more effective. He has freed my spirit!” – Jason Ashley, country singer/songwriter (Texas Songwriter of the Year 2008)
“Italy is unique. Moreover, it is a country where the traveler can en- joy the most various experiences. Chris Brady’s book has the ability, astonishing even for an Italian, to convey to the reader that variety, that richness of feelings, sights, perfumes, tastes . . . and people.” – Senator Lucio Malan, Senior Secretary of the Presidency of the Italian Senate
In early July, look for it in bookstores and online stores everywhere, and of course, here. I sincerely hope you enjoy it!
Here is a portion of a fantastic article by Cheryl Stansberry on the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization. Just as trees dies when the roots are damaged, so too will Western Civilization die when its roots are neglected. In my quest to re-educate the West on its past, this research paper will help immensely. Our family has been reviewing this article and discussing its key implications. One of the missing ingredients in today’s histories is the moral aspect. History without morality tends to downgrade into useless dates, names, and events; instead of the actual moral battle between good and evil. Regretfully, the reason most people do not enjoy history is that they were exposed to the subject without being taught the underlying moral struggle within it.
I have had my personal battles with injustice and have learned greatly from the experiences, leading me to understand history at a whole new level. It is through the struggles in life that resolutions are made and it was through my struggles that I (and my co-founders) resolved to start the LIFE Business, giving people the opportunity to grow into the people God intended them to be. What struggles in your life helped you resolve to change? Enjoy this portion and please discuss what you learned below. Thanks!
The Influence of Christianity on Western Civilization
The positive influence of Christianity is far reaching especially in the rich history and culture of Western Civilization despite a long standing ignorance or adamant denial of its contributions. The Bible itself is responsible for much of the language, literature, and fine arts we enjoy today as its artists and composers were heavily influenced by its writings. Paul Maier, in writing the forward to the book How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, says this about the profound impact Christianity has had on the development of Western Civilization:
“No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done. Its shortcomings, clearly conceded by this author, are nevertheless heavily outweighed by its benefits to all mankind” (Schmidt 9).
Contrary to the history texts treatment of the subject, Christian influence on values, beliefs, and practices in Western culture are abundant and well ingrained into the flourishing society of today (Schmidt 12). In the Old Testament book of Hosea the writer states: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” a statement that can well be applied to those today who are forgetful of the past (The Reformation Study Bible, Hosea 4.6a).
Schmidt writes regarding liberty and justice as seen by today’s culture:
“The liberty and justice that are enjoyed by humans in Western societies and in some non-Western countries are increasingly seen as the products of a benevolent, secular government that is the provider of all things. There seems to be no awareness that the liberties and rights that are currently operative in free societies of the West are to a great degree the result of Christianity’s influence (248). History is replete with examples of individuals who acted as a law unto themselves “often curtailing, even obliterating the natural rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens (249). Christianity’s influence, however, set into motion the belief that man is accountable to God and that the law is the same regardless of status. More than one thousand years before the birth of Christ the biblical requirement given by Moses comprised an essential component of the principle that “no man is above the law.”
One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19.15)
Thus the accuser, regardless of position in society, could not arbitrarily incarcerate or execute the accused and was himself subject to the law. The New Testament also mandated two or more witnesses in ecclesiastical matters regarding an erring Christian in Matthew 18:15-17 (Schmidt 249). The criminal and justice systems of many free countries today employ this Judeo-Christian requirement of having witnesses testify and in British and American jurisprudence, witnesses are part of “due process of law,’ a legal concept first appearing under King Edward III in the fourteenth century (Schmidt 249). One startling example of the concept that no man is above the law is seen in the conflict between the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great and St. Ambrose. It happened in 300 A.D. when some in Thessalonica rioted and aroused the anger of the emperor who overreacted by slaughtering approximately seven thousand people, most of whom were innocent. Bishop Ambrose asked the emperor to repent and when Theodosius refused, the bishop excommunicated him. After a month Theodosius prostrated himself and repented in Ambrose’s cathedral. Often mistaken as a struggle for power between church and state, the evidence in which Ambrose’s letter to the emperor cited sole concern for the emperor’s spiritual welfare conclude this as being the first instance of applying the principle that no one is above the law (Schmidt 250).
Liberty is nearly a sacred principle for most North American citizens. With that said, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of us do not understand all of its implications. For example, liberty doesn’t mean license, since a person isn’t free to do anything he likes as robbing and pillaging violate others rights. Furthermore, liberty doesn’t demand society to live according to a person’s preferences enforced by coercive means. Rather, liberty implies a respect for the God-given rights of others, refusing to use violence against others, unless in self-defense.
This confusion over the meaning of liberty seems to be at the forefront of today’s culture wars. Humanists want to force everyone in school to be fed their world-view; while on the other hand, many Christian leaders want to use the public schools to force-feed a Christian world-view. One example I have read, from many, is a 1980’s article from the Humanist magazine:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.
I disagree with this philosophy for numerous reasons, one being it’s totalitarian implications. Indeed, in a free society, both the Humanist and the Christian agendas for our State school systems are improper, because they surrender liberty of thought to a monolithic mindset of one size fits all. The liberty philosophy, on the other hand, would step back from the problem further and ask: why have a public school system at all? Why not privatize the educational system so that humanist, Christians, Jews, etc, can teach the principles that they believe to their children. Isn’t freedom in education foundational to freedom in society? It seems peculiar that America values freedom so greatly, yet surrenders the freedom to educate their children to the State.
Why battle it out in public schools when liberty demands freedom for all world-views to compete in the marketplace of ideas? School vouchers would bring freedom and competition back to the woefully struggling American educational system. This isn’t a knock on the many hard-working teachers attempting to make a difference in a poorly designed system; rather, I am simply stating the “the Educational Emperor has no clothes on,” so to speak. 🙂 America will fall further and further behind if we continue to use our schools as indoctrination and socialization facilities, instead of its intended roles as learning, thinking, and doing educational centers. By giving parents the power of the purse, schools would quickly start serving the customers, not their own agendas. This is what the FREE in Free-Enterprise is all about.
America was the bastion of free enterprise and freedom for the individual, but now fights totalitarian style battles with the next-generation’s minds. America as a whole is the loser as our kids are quickly falling further and further behind in education as compared to other countries. Despite the fact that America spends more money per child than all the rest, we struggle to place in the Top 50 nations in education. This is a national embarrassment! The Mental Fitness Challenge is a program to restore some of the lost principles of a proper education back into the marketplace. Early results indicate the need is massive and the hunger is present within the populace.
Here is an article on Thomas Jefferson’s views to start the discussion on how we can free education from the powers-that-be. Even though I disagree with the humanist positions, I would fight for their right to liberty in the education of their children. Similarly, I would hope there are enough liberty loving people left in all philosophies to do the same for my family.