In Times of Turmoil, Religious Struggles Fan Confusion and Thwart Solutions
In the global struggle for political harmony, economic viability and cultural happiness, religion has become the weapon of choice. But if the pursuit of happiness and prosperity is the goal, then using religion as the means to achieve that ideal will do anything but, says businessman philosopher James W. Peterson.
Nonetheless, that’s exactly the road societies are traveling as our economic and political problems deepen. Noting the fundamentalist tone taken as America moves toward the 2012 election and secular nations continue to clash with religious extremists, Peterson advises that adhering to any religious ideology will only bring more of the problems nations are trying to overcome.
"The more we use religion and its supernatural interpretation of the punitive power of God as an emotional wedge to secure HIS future, the less likely we’ll reach the real world solutions WE are seeking," says Peterson, author of the book God and the Philosophy of Explanation (www.jwpeterson.com). "If we want to return to the Founding Fathers’ original ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – then using religion as the vehicle is entirely the wrong way to go."
Instead, what’s needed is a focus on intellectual development thus empowering people to see their own happiness – economic, personal and spiritual – on their own terms, Peterson argues. But the current climate of both American religious conservatives, Islamic extremism and a deepening worldwide spiritual morass is providing anything but a greater understanding as to what real world human happiness is and depends upon.
Peterson, a retired engineer, has pursued an examination of religious and spiritual thought that comes from his own personal struggles to make sense of a deep, personal tragedy. The death of his daughter Kristin at the age of 10 ½ from heart failure set him on a 20-year long journey to understand the interplay of religious beliefs in the face of loss and tragedy.
Through a dissecting of religious thought, philosophical theories and thus gaining a deeper understanding of what motivates people to embrace religion, Peterson has come to understand that it’s the ability to intellectually cope with downturns and solve real world problems that leads people to feeling empowered, happy and productive.
"Intellectual happiness is the fundamental consequence of personal production," Peterson says. "It is the understood existence of one’s self that is the standard of one’s happiness."
"Think of how we gauge our well-being as a people: consumer confidence, social stability and political harmony," Peterson adds. "It’s all right here in our grasp, yet we continue to dissolve into these religious and cultural beliefs that only exacerbate our dissatisfaction with the world and each other. We need to stop believing long enough to understand we have the tools to return to happiness; we just have to put our rational, intellectual minds to work."
James W. Peterson’s, a mechanical engineer for GMC and real estate executive, journey as an everyman philosopher began with the death of his daughter and a 20-year quest to understand the depths of his grief and anger. Now retired with his wife of 45 years, JoAnn, in Okemos, Michigan, Peterson has two grown children and two grandchildren.
Is America the Home of Religious Freedom?
Not So Much, According to Poll
According to a new survey from the First Amendment Center, roughly one-third of Americans believe that religious liberty should not apply to all religions.
The survey, which polled 1,006 Americans on a variety of questions about their take on the role of religion and government, also revealed that more than a quarter of Americans believe there should be no separation between church and state. When asked whether “the freedom to worship as one chooses applies to all religious groups, regardless of how extreme their views are, or whether it was never meant to apply to religious groups that most people would consider extreme or fringe?” 28 percent agreed with the second statement.
“When so many Americans believe that religion should play a role in government and that the government shouldn’t allow some people to even practice their religion, I see it as a crisis of reason,” said James Peterson, author of God and the Philosophy of Explanation (www.jwpeterson.com). “Moreover, the idea that more than a quarter of Americans think that there should be no separation between church and state means that there are a lot of people out there who need a history lesson as well.”
Peterson, a mechanical engineer and father of three, lost his daughter to heart failure when she was only 10 ½-years old. It was then that the longtime GM employee and member in good standing of his local Methodist church began to reexamine the role of religion, not only in his life, but in the lives of Americans.
“Those who identify as religious people do so because they have a faith in something that cannot be measured by scientific principles or conclusive physical evidence” Peterson said. “That’s why they call it faith. While none of us can empirically prove we have seen or spoken to God, or that any of the figures in their religions have actually been messiahs, they still believe in their existence and their power. While that is perfectly valid for them and their lives, our government was set up to provide for the people of our country, based on the power and philosophy of reason. Congress would not likely dedicate a significant amount of tax dollars to build a new weapons system to defend our country, unless there was sufficient research and evidence to prove that the system would be effective in defending our nation. Embedding an element of faith in that matrix would subvert our government and the services and protections it provides us.”
Further, Peterson believes that America would get into more trouble when it delved into the question of which religion would have purview in our government.
“For the sake of argument, let’s say that Congress decided to abolish any separation of church and state,” Peterson added. “Which religion do we let in? There are dozens of religions practiced in America. The Christians will argue that since they represent the majority of the faithful in America, they should take the lead, because in a democracy, the majority rules. However, the majority of Americans in this survey, 67 percent of them, declared that there should be a separation of church and state. I’m sure the majority of those people were Christians, statistically, so we know that even the majority of the faithful believe government should be free from the influence of faith. At the end of the day, mixing faith and government is a bad formula for America and Americans.”
About James Peterson
James Peterson is a retired manufacturing engineer for GMC in Lansing, MI, prior to his retirement. He is the father of three children, one of whom died of heart failure in August of 1980 at the age of 10 ½. Experiencing her death changed his outlook on life and faith. He is the author of God and the Philosophy of Explanation.
The secret to a great marriage
Rev. James L. Snyder
This week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly, celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. This week as I pondered our life together it occurred to me, I might be taking some things for granted. Doing this, especially when it involves another person, is dangerous. I decided to take a little stock of myself and my relationship with the Mistress of the parsonage. What makes our marriage so great?
The first thing I had to do was check with her to make sure our marriage was indeed great. Much to my relief, she too agreed with my conclusion. This borders on the miraculous. Whenever we agree 100 percent on anything, watch out!
A recent Hollywood wedding got me thinking. According to the reports I have seen, that wedding cost more than one million dollars! Only in Hollywood! Given the way such things go in the west coast marital Mecca, it amounts to about $100,000 a month of married life.
Our wedding, 40 years ago, cost $97.73. It took us all summer to scrape and save for our nuptial extravaganza.
So far, our marriage has cost us 20 cents per month. The best 20 cents we ever invested. The amazing thing about this is, each month the cost goes down but the value goes up.
The question I wanted to answer, at least in my own mind was what made our marriage so great? What is the secret of our marriage?
As far as I can assess, there are four things about our marriage that has made it the great success it is today.
The first is FORGIVE AND FORGET. She forgives me my mistakes and I never forget to thank her for it.
Some couples carry grudges for years. Thanks to my memory-challenged mind, I cannot remember what I had for lunch yesterday much less a disagreement several years old. It takes an enormous amount of energy to REMEMBER things that happened years ago. I prefer spending that energy creating new memories.
Another key to our marital bliss is TOSS AND TURN. She tosses everything out and I turn the house upside down trying to find it. This has been the most difficult for me.
I would not admit being a pack-rat, but each year they invite me to be their keynote speaker at their convention. I would go but each year my good wife tosses the letter out before I can respond.
My wife believes that tossing away yesterday’s baggage and turning over a new leaf each day is crucial. As my wife is fond of saying, “Today it the first day of the rest of your life.” Sometimes she says it with a twinkle of menace in her left eye.
There is also, GIVE AND TAKE. This has proven beneficial over the years. She gives me a piece of her mind and I usually take it. My concern is, of all the pieces of her mind she has given me throughout the years, how can she have anything left?
Decision-making is not a one-way street in a marriage relationship. Thank God it isn’t. In every dilemma at least two sides need considering. When you find yourself in a dilemma, do what my wife does, go for de lemonade.
When only one person makes the decision in the marriage, the whole relationship takes on a lopsided demeanor. There is nothing meaner than a one-sided decision.
One last thing that makes our marriage great is PROFIT AND LOSS. This has taken a little more time to take root in my mind. Taking root in a vacuum is hard for anything.
I have discovered that a marriage runs in decades. For instance, the first 10-year period focuses on establishing the relationship. This is discovering who you are as a couple, but by the time this happens, tiny footsteps are heard in the hallway at night coming toward your bedroom.
The second decade centers on trying to raise those children and keep from going insane in the process. If I have any insanity, it is because I have inherited it from my children.
The third decade is the most important. Not many couples get this far. The third decade is devoted to rediscovering who you are as a couple.
No longer are we Rachael’s mom or Jason’s dad or Sarah’s parents. We are discovering our own identity as a couple. And let me say, it sure is the best part of the wedding cake and we are eating it up.
The fourth decade, where we are right now, is relishing all those memories made in the first three decades.
In this PROFIT AND LOSS stage, I have discovered that I profit greatly if I cause my significant other no loss of face. It is amazing how many single people are married and even live in the same house but go in separate directions and lead separate lives. Becoming a couple is a marvelous process taking years to mature.
My wife and I have found the key to all of this. It is simply SUBMISSION. The Bible plainly states, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21 KJV).
We can do this because we independently anchor our lives to that “rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2 KJV). As a couple, we build our lives upon a common foundation — Jesus Christ.
To my wife: A happy anniversary to the best Mistress to adorn my parsonage.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail email@example.com. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.
Is The Human Spirit Essential in Business Strategic Planning?
Corporate Coach Reveals How Spirit Drives Creativity, Innovation and Success
Terry Murray thinks the difference between a company that’s surviving to one that’s thriving isn’t buried in their bottom line, but rather, it’s hidden in their hearts.
Murray, an executive coach for Fortune 1000 companies, entrepreneurs and startups believes that companies that are driven by inspiration and positive emotions become inherently more successful than companies that focus exclusively on the profit-loss statements.
"Business and the human spirit are not mutually exclusive,” said Murray, author of The Transformational Entrepreneur – Engaging the Mind, Heart, & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success (www.yourbizstartup.com). “In fact, the integration and alignment of taking a mindful approach to business is an accelerant towards success in today’s volatile marketplace. It cultivates authentic presence, positive communication, full engagement, adaptability, and taps into the creativity of human beings.”
Murray’s view is that the human element is oftentimes the spark that separates good companies from great companies.
“The competitive dynamics of business have changed,” he said. “Today and in the future, the source of value creation for companies is, and will continue to be, the efficient commercialization of intellectual property. Because of this, human beings, and their creative input and adaptability, are more important than ever. Fully cultivating and leveraging human talent requires engagement on an entirely new level – of engaging the mind, heart, and spirit. Research from Applied Behavioral Economics also reveals the importance of engaging customers emotionally and cognitively. Doing so requires a new level of consciousness to emerge in business, one that authentically aligns and integrates leadership, strategy, and culture.”
Moreover, research is showing more and more that creativity in corporations – where the next big ideas come from – is linked to how good employees and managers feel about working there.
“The competitive parameters of global markets are also changing rapidly and in unprecedented ways,” he added. “This demands adaptive change and creative solutions to maintain competitive advantage. As an example, the 2010 IBM CEO survey indicated the single most important attribute CEOs are looking for in future leaders is creativity and the ability to cultivate creativity throughout the organization. Yet they continue to lead and manage in very traditional ways that disengage associates. Gallup’s study on employee disengagement showed that 73 percent of employees are disengaged or activity disengaged with their employers and only 27 percent show up with any passion or excitement. Some managers might say, ‘So what?’ Well, in a study conducted by Gallup and published in the Harvard Business Review, companies that engage both their employees and their customers on an emotional level enjoy a 240 percent improvement in financial performance. So, making your staff feel good about their work is clearly very good for your bottom line.”
About Terry Murray
Terry Murray is an author, speaker, professional coach, and business executive with more than 20 years of progressive experience in real-world strategic development, leadership, and business execution. His leadership in strategic development and execution for Fortune 1000 and start-up companies has directly contributed more than $1 billion in market capitalization growth throughout his career.
Midtown Church Hosts Escape to Tranquility Monthly Spa Retreats Starting June 18, 2011
Sacramento, CA.- The House Christian Church and Zeal Fitness Ministry is hosting a series of monthly spa retreats to help relieve the stresses and anxiety of daily living. The series titled, Escape to Tranquility will kick off its first morning retreat on Saturday, June 18, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The House Christian Church, 1901 Broadway, 18th and X street entrance, in Midtown Sacramento.
Attendees will experience a time of relaxation and renewal that includes Christian meditation, Christian yoga, relaxation techniques, and self care topics to pamper the spirit and nurture the soul. The June 18th theme, “Creating Greater Space for God,” taught by Rhonda Jones, will teach participants how quieting the mind and becoming still will help them to build intimacy with God and enhance their spiritual awareness. Jones is the local author of Detox Your Life and Awaken Your Inner Spirit and creator of a series of Christ-centered meditation CDs.
Subsequent retreats will be held the first Saturday of each month beginning in July 2nd through December 3, 2011. Upcoming topics include “Eating for Health,” “Detox Your Mind,” “Releasing the Past,” “Surrendering All to God,” “Too Busy to Live,” and “Clearing Away Clutter.”
Cost of the event is $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the door and includes a smoothie from the smoothie bar and prizes. For additional information or to register online visit, http://www.secretplacemeditation.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The House Christian Church Zeal Fitness Program also offers weekly low cost Zumba, Yoga, and other fitness classes, Zumba from 7:00-8:00 p.m every Tuesday and Yoga from 6:30-7:30p.m. every Thursday. Cost is $2.00 per class and $2.00 for childcare. Please use the 19th and X street location at 1901 Broadway.
Thunder Road Church Launch
By Johnny Lujan
Well its here. The launch of Thunder Road Church is taking place on Thursday June 2nd 2011 at 7pm. Yup that's this Thursday. We have been meeting and praying for direction and discernment for 8 months. We have counseled with local pastors and leaders for about the same amount of time. We have held two bike night gatherings with good support and encouragement. We are eager to serve the community in what ever capacity we are led to serve.
Our intentions are to reach the unreachable. Our focused community of people we will be reaching is the motorcycle community. In the motorcycle community and the lifestyle it brings we are eager to reach out to lost and downtrodden. We will be a vital resource for the local community and set up referrals to other churches, programs and centers where physical, emotional and economical help can be found. We are focused on their spiritual help and direction.
As most of you know, the biker community is rarely seen in "church" because of many reasons. Until the see the real purpose in their life and the reasons to actually come and give of themselves i am not sure they will ever step foot in. We have decided to reach them where they are. We will be there for the one or for the thousand. We believe they will come to listen in a comfortable atmosphere they are used to. Our prayers is they leave changed and in time transformed to be followers of the king.
Please join us in our quest to "Reach the Unreachable". We appreciate your prayer support as well as your financial support. If you are wondering how you can support the church and help us build Gods church to this community of people, we are holding our very first "Flapjack Fundraiser" on Saturday June 18th 2011 at Applebees in Gold River (Rancho Cordova). For a $10.00 dollar donation you will receive a full pancake breakfast with bacon, potato's, coffee or juice and all the fixins. I will be more than happy to come buy your home, office, group or organization and share the vision and deliver tickets in advance. There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door but they are going fast so please call and be a part of this monumental event...... You will see some really cool choppers and be a part of something unique in the area.
Please go to our web site www.thunderroadchurch.com and check out our bike nights and service times.
Luke 4:18 - Jesus goes to Nazareth and is handed a scroll that reads "The spirit of the lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come". He sat down and said "The scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day!" (NLT)
We are compelled to share this message with a lost world of bikers. Yes it is dark, Yes it is scary at times, Yes is is humbling and Yes it is unpredictable, but we realize there are a few million people (Bikers) not being strategically reached for the gospel and Thunder Road Church will be a place where they will feel welcomed and encouraged to hear the good news and have the opportunity to be set free from their bondage.
Marlys Johnsen Norris
(Life Message Workshops) Marlys Johnsen Norris believes strongly that every person has a Legacy worthy of writing and she has held workshops during 2006 to help people write them. Marlys is a published author of five books, one of which won Best Christian book from Northern California Publishers and Authors for 2003-2004.
Jesus is Coming Again
The prophetic words of the Scriptures are recorded in Isaiah 53 telling mankind about the first coming of Jesus Christ. These now fulfilled, we are now awaiting the events of recorded Scriptures pertaining to His second coming. Many Biblical scholars tell us all indications suggest that it can happen at any time. Is the bride/church ready?
The question remains for each individual, are we ready? Our focus and affections should be so much on Christ and his sacrifice and provision for us--we can easily let loose of all earthly possessions. But can we? Have we become so materialistic we have also lost sight of our “first love” and our personal relationship with Him
We mistakenly live in the scope of the temporal and rarely think about the things that are eternal. As we approach the near time when Christ will return, we need to be diligent and ready ourselves for His coming and think more about the eternal. God’s word clearly tells us the “build-up our treasures in heaven” and that certainly does not mean the material things of this world. We build up treasures in heaven by the good deeds done to help and build-up others in their journey to know and love God with their heart and soul. We do not brag about our efforts but give God all the glory for what-ever happens.
Jesus can return at any time. In fact the Word of God tells us-- it will be “in a twinkling of an eye”--but in the meantime, we are to persevere and wait patiently. It is important to know exactly what we believe and live by those convictions with expectations, ready for His Second Coming.
Let Joy, Peace and Freedom Reign
When one lives without overcoming past hurts of an offended heart, every relationship they have is affected, including their personal relationship with God. Reliving and working up those offenses by gossiping about them add stress to ones life. Until a person has worked through them, reactions to those closest are often handled with angry attitudes that are off-base. It is important to put these hurts to rest. Scripture says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverb 18:21)
When we are offended by someone and they know it, the words we desperately want to hear is, “I am sorry”. However it is often omitted from the offender’s vocabulary or possibly they do not know how to humbly implement this attitude. Holding on to these hurts opens ones heart for attacks of the enemy of our souls. He causes resentment to grow and give one a critical spirit when one has not yielded hurts into the care of Almighty God and let them go. So then, how can we overcome feelings and put these things in proper prospective in our lives?
If we desire to experience relief, renewed joy, peace and freedom; God’s Word tells us “to the measure we forgive others, we also will be forgiven”. Another place it says, “A man’s wisdom give him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverb 19:ll). Oh yes, this is a huge recipe for anyone and forgiveness is always a decision we must make to be in right relationship with God. And isn’t it a better way and more important to have our relationship with God restored by following the precepts He has set before us, than to hold onto those hurts? Let joy, peace and freedom reign in your heart!
Marlys Johnsen Norris
LIFE MESSAGE WORKSHOPS
“Intimacy Begins Going God’s Way”
Calvin and Lisa Wulf
Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, "It's no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them." Jeremiah 2:25 (NIV)
The alarm clock rings, "Time to get up."
The grandfather clock chimes, "Time to go to work."
The computer beeps, "Time for your next appointment."
The time clock punches, "Time to go home."
The microwave dings, "Time for dinner."
The cuckoo clock sings, "Time for bed."
We live on the clock. It tells us when to go out and when to come in. We either try to beat the clock or kill time. So the pressure mounts. We juggle our lives to keep as many clocks in the air as possible. If one should fall, the whole system shatters
Ever notice that the clock is often the focal point of a room? It's given an honored place on the mantel. Even churches aren't immune. The cross used to be center stage. Today many sanctuaries have no cross but there's a clock in the back so the preacher can get us out on time.
Jesus never said, "Hurriest thou for we are late!" We don't see him rushing around. Yet he accomplished everything that was necessary. That's because he fixed his eyes on the Father, his compass, and not on the clock. Let's get real. Time consciousness fuels our modern world so we can’t eliminate clock tyranny altogether. But we can make better use of our compass. God gives us all the time we need to do what he has for us. Want to stop dividing life into seconds and minutes? Here's how:
- Try an experiment. Take off your watch for a bit.
- Evaluate your schedule. Do you need so many timetables?
- Follow God's clock. It runs on eternal time.
Does your wristwatch have you by the throat? Perhaps now is the time to stop juggling and let your timepieces fall to the ground. Don't let clock worship eclipse God's plan for your life. Free up your hands and eyes to follow the one true compass.
Living for God (TM) offers resources on Christian living. Check them out at www.livingforgod.net or call (719) 578-8837.
© 2008 Calvin R. Wulf and Lisa Are Wulf