Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Pension Gamble

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"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around (these banks) will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered... The issuing power of currency shall be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." - Thomas Jefferson

The writers of the American Constitution were men whose faith in God was undeniable.  To this end, they wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
     Ironically as many use the media (social and otherwise) to depict investment in the stock market and debt as a means to prosperity and a vehicle in the pursuit of happiness, one of the writers of the Constitution wrote words of caution.  Recently, fears of a recession sent the Dow tumbling 800 points after the bond market flashed a warning sign that predated every recession for the past 50 years.
     Previously I had published a blog on the "Retirement Gamble"; here is a followup for those who may assume they are safer because they have a pension.

When the plans of man fail, God's plans will withstand the test of time. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21 (KJV) 

Monday, July 1, 2019

What's my purpose?

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." - Ecclesiastes 12:13

"Joseph, how does a person become aware of their purpose?" the King asked.  I was astonished by the question.  It came suddenly, however looking at the king's expression I knew he was thinking about it for some time.  We were seated at a table having supper with guests he had invited to the palace.  Almost a year had passed since the period of famine and drought had ended and the king had invited them to the palace to celebrate.  There were long periods of rain and things were beginning to return to normal.  The fields were green again with lush vegetation.  It was indeed a picturesque scene.  The view of pure rocky mountains in the distance was replaced by breath-taking peaks of different shades of green.  The river Nile was once more an attraction and a source of water for farmers crops along its bank.  They were harvesting their crops again and commerce was slowly returning to normal in Egypt. The country was returning to its glory days and Pharoah wanted to commemorate the success the country was experiencing after exiting such a turbulent period of its history.
I was congratulated and honored for the role I played during that time.  Many dignitaries and officials wanted to meet me as they heard about my beginnings in Egypt as a slave and saw my transcendence to my current position as remarkable.  I used the opportunity to extol the one to who all the credit was due - Jehovah himself.
"Take a look at the soldiers around you," I responded.  Looking away from me he slowly surveyed the room. The guests at the table did the same as their faces expressed a look of bewilderment.  "What's wrong with them?" Pharaoh asked puzzled. "Nothing," I responded quickly, "but what do you think their purpose is at this point in time?"
"To serve and to protect me - their king and carry out my commands," he replied.
"And once they are relieved of their duties and return home what is their purpose then?" I asked.  He paused for a moment to think; slowly placing his left elbow on the table he braced his left cheek with his left fist and with his right hand he began gently pulling his beard.
     As we spoke the guests were looking around and at each listening intently to the conversation.
"There are a few ways to answer the question O king," I began as he turned to face me, "however I will only use three to make my point.  You have those who only see their current position in your army as a job.  They have no idea where their loyalty is and so they go about their lives one day at a time.  They only wish to be paid do not wish to have the responsibilities that come with promotion as they are simply satisfied serving the king in their current position while hoping one day they can live like a king.  Your lifestyle is appealing to them but they are not motivated enough to take the necessary steps.   When they go home the last thing on their mind is you O king as they become preoccupied with their own.  In the next group are those who are loyal only to themselves and they constantly look for ways to 'promote' themselves under the guise of loyalty.  They use their gifts and their talents only for their own glory and benefit.  In the final group are those who see the king as their life.  Every aspect of their life is dedicated to the service of you O king.  If they are home no one dares speaks ill of you in their presence.  They will defend you with their last breath.  They see their duty and purpose for living as one - to serve their king."  They cannot be bought or bribed into doing anything to harm you.  All their talents are dedicated to you and in this, they find meaning and fulfillment.  They are happiest when they are doing the king's bidding."
     "This third group helps to define what everyone's purpose in life is; to serve and worship the king of kings in everything they do.  When I was a lad my father would make me memorize such quotes as 'Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might' (Ecclesiastes 9:10), and another 'Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.' (Proverbs 22:29).  O king you have seen first hand the truth of these statements."
     The king smiled while nodding his head in agreement.  The guests were also pleased by the answer as they indicated by nodding to each other.  The focus was turned back to me when the king leaned forward again and asked, "How can you tell the difference between the second group and the third; who are doing their own bidding and who is doing it for the glory of the king?"
     Again the gaze was on me.  "When an individual," I began, "seeks glory for themselves they wish to be rewarded by others.  When this doesn't occur within a certain timeline they tend to become disgruntled and there is a change to who they honor. My father had me repeat to him several times a day as I worked, 'let your light so shine before men, so they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.' (Matthew 5:16) until he was sure my actions reflected who I served: the God of heaven and I honor Him by serving others as best as I can seeking nothing in return from them; hence humility in leadership - this is not thinking less of yourself but thinking about yourself less (Kenneth Blanchard)."
     "Well said," replied the king smiling as the guests nodded in agreement while others applauded. 

This blog - Joseph's Memoirsis based on the biblical story of Joseph (Genesis 37 through 47) the eleventh son of Jacob.  It shows the applications of the stories a loving father passed on to his son who would use them as tools of transformation to later become second in command in the land of Egypt.  These lessons are the cornerstone of the lives of the most successful individuals and corporations today.  You are where you are today not because of what you don't know but because of what you fail to do.  You can find more lessons and applications for your daily life in the book: Joseph's Memoirs: Life Lessons For a Successful You.   

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Retirement Gamble

"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor.  This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 2:24     

     Over the years I have learned, one of the key lessons to success is, to begin with, the end in mind.  The plan of salvation is one such lesson that teaches this principle my father, Jacob taught me.  "That's one of the many reasons I believe in Yahweh," he told me. The plan of salvation was an example of this principle.
     Today I find many people, Christians included, forgoing this principle, leaving their financial well-being in the hands of institutions and companies, they hope, will do right by them.  This is risky. We are advised to study the habits of the ant (Proverbs 6:6) and become wise.  The ant works unselfishly employing teamwork to survive as they build and work in the colony.  These insects use their instincts to survive and prepare for the future.
     Many people's lives today revolve around money and their plans for the future is not as it appears to be.  In my thirties, I was blessed to envision the problems that a nation and the world at large would face if the people didn't prepare.  They followed my advice then and I hope you will do the same today as I see a storm brewing in the horizon for the unprepared.
     There has been a change in the pension plans that many know about but few understand.  I wish to turn your attention to it before it is too late.  This PBS special is very informative and I implore you not only watch it but share it with your family and friends.  Your Retirement is not to be gambled with, however, many are taking it lightly.

The Retirement Gamble

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

It Has Been a While

     There is a phrase that goes 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.'  It has been a while since my last post but fear not, I have not gone far my friends.  Hopefully, I have not lost all of you but kept you on the edge of your seats (or benches) wondering what will he be doing on his return!  To you our well-deserving followers, we have been working behind the scenes and finalizing plans on how to best serve you.  We will remain Christ-centered and with all intentions, wish to help you to make your lives more meaningful.
     Over the past few months, we have taken the task of refocusing the mission of the organization with you in mind, asking the question: how can we help our readers add value to their lives in a way that makes it more enjoyable and applicable?  How can we make living for Christ one that brings Him glory and leaves readers so fulfilled it makes them attractable to others?
     Unfortunately, there are many individuals who have the wrong perception of Christianity.  They see it as a hindrance and even boring; a very uninviting way of life.  They fail to understand; Jesus' ministry was one based on a lifestyle and not a one-time event that culminated on the cross.  This lifestyle attracted many to him as he walked the earth teaching and sharing the real meaning of His father's love.  Various aspects of this lifestyle and teachings are now being taught to, and being embraced by, business leaders as they look to boost their company's bottom line in addition to keeping morale in the workplace at a high level.

"If you wish to be a leader, find a way to be a servant,"

     At every level, leaders are being the concept of servant leadership, a lesson Jesus taught His disciples as they challenged each other for the highest position when He established His kingdom.  "If you wish to be a leader, find a way to be a servant," He told them.  Successful people are beginning to recognize the relevance of biblical concepts in achieving both personal and business/career goals.
     With this in mind, we continue the process of restructuring our organization starting with our blog, changing its name from the "The Little Spark" to Joseph's Memoirs.  This places our blog within the threshold of our brand in using the story of Joseph to bring about a change in the life that individuals are sacrificing eternal life for.
     As we undertake the task of helping you to redesign your life, practice the principle of giving back by sharing our posts with your friends and encourage them to read, practice and share the principles as well.  Together, let us change the world,  not by complaining about what others are doing and hoping the change will come by itself but let us do as Jesus did - be the change that we would like to see. 
     Thank you for your time and for making us your number one resource to transforming your life.  God bless.  

Friday, March 29, 2019

In His Image

     In creation God spoke everything into existence.  He said let there be light and there was light.  He commanded the land to be separated from the waters and it was so.  With his thought he divided the day into night and placed the planets, stars, the moon and the sun into place.  He glanced at the heavens and at the ocean and caused the fowls of the air and the fish of the sea to appear.  He stepped on the land and grass, herbs, trees and animals appeared.    However, when it was time for the creation of man, He could have said, "let man appear," and it would have been so.  Instead, he took the time to kneel by a spot of land of his own choosing.  He then cleared the grass until the clay appeared.  He gathered water and slowly poured it into the earth and with His hands he molded the clay until His image appeared.  He then fashioned the rest of the body into what would be described as 'the marvel of the work of creation.'  As if that was not enough, instead of rising to his feet and commanding the mold of the first man to rise to signify the creature from the Creator, still kneeling, he blew he breathe of life into his nostrils.  When mankind awoke, he was helped to his feet by God himself and given dominance of everything that was created.

     Everything was spoken into existence, except for mankind.  With his own hands God molded and fashioned him.  Then he breathe into his nostrils the breath of life.  Our existence therefore should never be taken for granted nor questioned.  God took the time to mold us and then breathe the breath of life into us after which he help him to his feet.  Indeed, this shows how intimately his relationship with mankind was intended to be from the beginning.  Man's search for meaning is found in his creator not in 'what is out there'. God is everywhere, waiting with an out stretched hand to lift us to our feet as he did Adam.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Man's Search For Happiness

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness." - Thomas Jefferson.

Have you ever asked yourself what is true happiness?  If you have, you are not alone.  It is now the focus of numerous ongoing researches.  Ironically, the late Eric Hoff, American social-philosopher who died in 1983 once said, "the search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."

The source of eternal happiness is viewed by many to be elusive, however, some have sought and found comfort in many self-help books.  Today the self-help industry is said to be worth more than US$10 Billion dollars in America alone.  In addition to the books, there are seminars, podcasts, workshops, exercises and coaches all directed towards enhancing and developing a happy mind and body.

Some people may look down on others for their pursuit of a happy frame of mind, however, the US Constitution declares it as a right. Over the years, other nations have joined in the search, to the extent, the United Nations has designated March 20 International Day of Happiness.

If so many researchers have studied the subject of happiness for so long why are so many people unhappy?  Iona Goulder in a 2016 article entitled, "Why Trying to be Happy is Making us Anxious," wrote, "The happiness industry tells us that our well-being is a matter of individual effort and personal responsibility.  And subsequently, we've conceived that if we put in enough time and effort, read enough books, use self-improvement apps, meditate and fill in gratitude journals then we can lift ourselves out of any fleeting or perpetually dissatisfied state and into one of pure happiness."  If it were that easy many people would be happier.

Ellen G. White, the author of the book Steps to Christ, eludes to man's inability to find true happiness outside of his Creator when she wrote, "God made man perfectly holy and happy."  She further stated, "It is the transgression of God's law - the law of love - that has brought" and I am paraphrasing here - "unhappiness."  For us to understand what it means to be happy we have to go back in time when it was recorded happiness and balanced existed.

The Bible teaches that in the beginning when the world was created the Creator pronounced that everything  ... was good."  He was happy as He looked around and saw that everything was existing in harmony.  Happiness can not be found within you until you acknowledge that which is evident around you.  The Psalmist David wishing to find this happiness earnestly asked God to create in him a new heart and renew a right spirit in him,"  Psalm 51:10.

In defiance, many try to 'pour new wine into an old sack' only to meet disappointment.  Like the rich young ruler, (Matthew 19:16-24) they see the evidence of contentment, however, because it calls for the sacrifice of self they turn away disappointed and instead seek happiness in pleasure based activities.

Emily Esfahani Smith in her book The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, presents research on a life spent seeking and living a life of pleasure.  This might make you happy in the short run, but without deeper meaning, it could make you miserable over time.

So, what is it that makes people happy in the long run?  Almost everyone agrees that giving of oneself to a cause, (for me it's sharing the love of Christ) and making the sacrifice that is hard.  If the rich young ruler was willing to detach himself from his wealth and was willing to trust the words of Christ he would have found the happiness that he sought after. 

Unfortunately many are still making the same mistake today.  Thinking sporadic short-term pleasures over time is equivalent to long-term fulfillment.  Only those who are willing to make the sacrifice in the long run and those who persevere will become content, fulfilled and happy.

The Pension Gamble

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow ...