How Many Laws Have You Broken, Today?

Moses

Come on, tell the truth, you know that you broke some law today or this week, didn’t you?  Heck you’ve probably broken more than one law, but then how would you know?

The headlines at the first of this year included,“40,000 New laws enacted as of January 2014, from tanning booths to lemon pets.”

Wow! 40,000 new laws, is that all?  I was shocked but then it is almost impossible to determine the total number of laws, statutes, and regulations that are currently on the books.  Go ahead dig into Google, Bing or Yahoo and see what you can find.

My Googling led me to the Library of Congress where I found a statement that it wasn’t possible to determine the total number of laws currently in effect!  It seems I wasn’t the first person to ask this question.

It was entertaining and enlightening to read about one of the new California laws that requires food service employees to wear latex gloves when handling raw food that won’t be cooked, this would affect your favorite sushi chef amongst others.  It was unclear, according to the report, just who this new law would affect.  Would bartenders need to wear gloves because they handle both money and raw foods?  Just imagine the number of gloves they would go through in just one shift…Mix the drink, put on gloves, add the fruit, take off gloves, serve drink and collect money, repeat the process!

So how many laws do we truly need?  100,000, 500,000, 1,000,000?

How about 10?

1. I am the Lord, your God.

2. Thou shall bring no false idols before me.

3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother.

6. Thou shall not kill/murder.

7. Thou shall not commit adultery.

8. Thou shall not steal.

9. Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

10. Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife (or anything that belongs to your neighbor).

I strongly recommend that you read the linked article by Dennis Prager on the relevance of the Ten Commandments to our current culture.  The modern application of the Commandments is clearly and profoundly presented by Mr. Prager.  If we were all to write these “laws” on our hearts the world would be a better place.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

Psalm 19:7-9

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Another excellent study of the 10 Commandments is the book “Pathway to Freedom: How God’s Law Guides Our Lives,” by Alistair Begg.  I discovered this book one Saturday morning as I sat in the Prison Chaplains office inside California State Penitentiary Sacramento (New Folsom Prison).  I was waiting for the inmates to arrive for our weekly Mens Group and I noticed the book on the desk.  I’d heard of Pastor Beggs, my wife often listens to his sermons on the radio, but I had never read or heard anything he had produced.  As I waited I thumbed through the book and was stunned.  God had provided us with the Commandments, not to control us, He provided the Holy Law to empower us to become the men and women he always intended us to be.

Pastor Beggs presents a powerful, yet succinct, thesis that we as God’s children are not justified in our faith through obedience to the Law, we are justified by living our lives in accordance with the Law, we are the Law because it is written on our hearts and the Law is part of who we are as Christians.  God is the ultimate moral authority, eternal and unchanging, and His Commandments provide a structure for living authentic lives in the righteous Kingdom of God.  It is this moral authority that separates God’s Law from the laws of man.

“The Law sends us to the Gospel, that we may be justified, and the Gospel sends us to the Law again to enquire what is our duty in being justified.” Samuel Bolton, “True Bounds of Christian Freedom”

Career politicians believe that they must pass laws to justify their positions.  What else would they do with their time in office?  What authority do these politicians have to attempt to control behavior and morality via legislation?  The Federal, State and local governments and agencies have wormed their way into every aspect of our lives, from birth to death, from work space to bedroom.  Under what authority?  The laws these “public servants” create are born from their own prejudices and judgements about how life should be lived, what controls are required to mold and shape the lives of the “people.”  The legislation and regulations are generated from man’s authority as an elected representative not God’s so that by definition they are finite and imperfect.

Another aspect, or limitation of man’s law is that they are not written on our hearts.  Human laws represent an ever-increasing number of “shall not’s” and “don’t do’s”.  The human laws are like papier-mâché, layer after layer of regulations glued to the broken seed of man.  Each law telling you that you can’t do this or you shouldn’t do that, without ever addressing the fundamental moral and behavioral issues that drive my actions in the world.

We don’t need 40,000 new laws, we need to focus on the 10 Commandments from God and transform ourselves into the authentic Children of God!

The Measure of a Man

Is this a real man?It felt colder than normal that morning as I sat in a circle of inmates inside the Chapel of the maximum security prison.  I was the only “free” man in the group and the emotional flow of the discussion added to the chill that was penetrating my bones.  Myself and six or seven inmates sat in a circle on rickety chairs around a tattered rug with a small wood stump supporting a flickering candle in the middle.  The chapel was a large concrete block space, maybe thirty feet wide, fifty feet and with a ceiling approximately twenty-five feet above the cold hard floor.  The main fluorescent lights were off and the secondary incandescent lighting was dimmed to create a somber yet reverent atmosphere.

It had been serval months, over nine in fact, since we had last gathered.  The result of an “incident” on the yard that ended with several injuries and the inmates “locked down” in their cells – no program, no group time.  This was our first time meeting since the “lock down” and the chill in the air was the grief that each was feeling and expressing about a friend who had been murdered during the time of the “lock down.”  This friend, an inmate had been in our group for many years before being relocated to another Yard at the prison where he was brutally killed by his cell mate.  This first circle back was our first opportunity to share our grief and to honor the spirit of this man who had touched each of us in a special way.

An inmate had a picture of our dead friend and he placed it with honor on a heavy wooden chair that we used as an “alter” in the circle.  This chair was never sat in by members of the group and was placed at the head of the circle as a place of honor for the founders of the work we were carrying on.  We took turns expressing our anger and the grief we each felt for the loss of a dear friend and we shared stories about the man to honor the impact he had on our lives.  A touching and cathartic experience for us all.

What troubles me now as I write this is the selfish feelings I experienced that day.  I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of  appreciation for this fallen brother and the respect that each of the men had for him.  My predominate thought, “Will people miss me like this when I’m gone from this life? Will they gather to tell the stories of how I have affected their lives?”  The selfish pain I was feeling underneath the grief for the dead inmate was that the answer to these questions is, “No.”

My wife will often kid me by saying that “people are always talking about me behind my back.”  Her intent is to good-naturedly tell me that I matter to her and her children.  This has been the core of my inner personal work for the past 22-years but it’s not the point of this blog.  The point is, “What is the Measure of Man?”  This is the question that stuck with me after dealing with those feelings, emotions that morning inside the prison

With this question tugging at my soul the week after that circle inside the prison I came across a book that just so happened to be titled, “The Measure of A Man.”  Go figure.  The full title is “The Measure of a Man, Men Mentoring Me,” by Gene A. Getz.

Pastor Getz presently serves as Senior Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church North, located in Plano, Texas and his ministry career has involved a variety of experiences including Christian education and music ministries, college and seminary teaching. He has also authored over 40 books mostly focused on what it takes to lead a Godly life.

“The Measure of a Man” is an excellent read but it’s true value is if the reader uses the text as a basis for a men’s study group.  The book uses the values presented by the Apostle Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1-7 ) and Titus (Titus 1:5-10) that Paul believed to be necessary for godly men.  Dr. Getz explores each of these values and provides an outline for further group exploration and discussion that if followed will help men to clarify what it really means to be a man.

The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.  2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher,  3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money.  4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—  5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?  6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy NRSV

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you:  6 someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious.  7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain;  8 but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled.  9 He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1: 5-10 NRSV

Dr. Getz has distilled Paul’s letters into the following 20 attribute of a man and then challenges his readers to evaluate themselves in each area. Talk about convicting!

  1. Spiritual maturity (a well rounded man)
  2. Above reproach (a man of good repute)
  3. Husband of one wife (Morally pure)
  4. Temperate (balanced in words and actions)
  5. Prudent (wise and humble)
  6. Respectable (good role model)
  7. Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
  8. Able to teach (communicates sensitively in a non-threatening and non-defensive manner)
  9. Not addicted to wine (not addicted to substances)
  10. Not self-willed (not self-centered and controlling)
  11. Not quick-tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
  12. Not pugnacious (Not abusive)
  13. Gentle (sensitive, loving and kind)
  14. Peaceable (non-argumentative and non-divisive)
  15. Free from the love of money (non-materialistic)
  16. Manages his own household well (a good husband and father)
  17. Loving what is good (pursues godly activities)
  18. Just (wise, discerning, non-prejudiced and fair)
  19. Devout (holy, devoted to God)
  20. Self-controlled (Disciplined)

My first reaction was, “there are 20 qualities!” Really?”! I’ve come a long way since my youth and thinking that the only manly quality was physical strength as portrayed by the Charles Atlas ads in the comic books,  but a man is measured by these 20 qualities?  Even with all of the personal growth work I’ve done, first with the New Warrior Adventurer Trainings and more recently the Inside Circle Foundation prison ministry, I had not considered the specifics of what it truly is to be a man in the eyes of God, family and friends.

Dr. Getz’s book opened my mind and heart to the word of God.

“Listen to God’s voice, which is saying, ‘I love you no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you are in your spiritual growth, no matter what your feelings.  I’m on your side, I have not rejected you.  You are my child.  You can become a man of God, and I’m here to help you.’”

Get the book, challenge yourself.  Find a group of like-minded seekers and use the book as a guide for exploring the soul of becoming a man.  Change the world because we need more men who will take responsibility for their lives and not look to or blame others for their situation in life, especially the government.

“The greatest contribution we can make is to be everything God wants us to be as individuals, as families and as local churches.”

In closing I welcome feedback from those who know me.  How do you see me? How do I measure up to the 20 points made by Paul?  Your honesty and truth would be appreciated.

“If you really want to know what I am like, you’ll have to talk to those who really know me.”

(All quotes, with the exception of the two verses from the Holy Bible, are from “A Measure of a Man” by Gene Getz)

Stepping Up

Are you a man?

Are you a father?

Are you a grandfather?

Are you an uncle?

If the answer is yes then you must read “Stepping Up” by Dennis Rainey! No arguments, no hesitation, no excuses, you must read this book and read it now! I’ve read many books about manhood, fathering and what it means to be a man but this is the absolute best and simplest presentation I’ve come across. Mr. Rainey’s faith-based program for putting our selfishness aside and stepping up in the lives of the young boys and men in our lives is convicting. As I finished reading this short but profound book I found myself flat on the floor, metaphorically, ashamed that fear has keep me from stepping up and mentoring the young men in my life.

I’ve been on a journey (consciously) to discover who I am and what it means to be a man since August of 1990. That August I attended, survived might be a better term, a “men’s” retreat known as the “New Warrior Adventure Training.” My life changed that weekend and since then I’ve been on the quest to become the man God always intended me to be. I’ve written about that experience in a previous post (“An Awakening”) so I won’t recount the experience here, I’ll just say that “Stepping Up” crystalizes everything I’ve learned on this journey – Men must be courageous and take responsibility for their lives and the lives of their families!

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis

Mr. Rainey provides a straightforward program for learning to step-up in your life and the lives of young men. At the heart of this program is that men must have the courage to face their fears, sinfulness, limitations and ironically their strengths. To do this men need to trust God and surround themselves with other men to be challenged and mentored. This support shouldn’t be solution based, the mentors shouldn’t be tying to find answers to the problems in a man’s life. Instead the support should focus on what’s working and not working. What does it mean to be an authentic man and what stands in the way of realizing that authenticity in your life? And Mr. Rainey drives home the importance of this by reminding us that our sons and daughters are watching, intently.

“A Little Fellow Follows Me

A careful man I must always be;
A little fellow follows me.
I know I dare not go astray
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes;
Whate’er he sees me do, he tries,
Like me, he says, he’s going to be,
This little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine;
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
This little chap who follows me.
I must be careful as I go
Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
Because I am building for the years to be
This little chap who follows me.

Lee Fisher, as cited in Wooden and Carty, “Coach Wooden.”

Another important point made by Mr. Rainey is that it isn’t enough to be aware or conscious. For a man to be truly authentic and effective he needs the moral compass that can only be provided by God. After all if I don’t have a source greater than myself what is right and what is wrong? If there is no God then moral concepts are subjective not objective and therefore meaningless. And it is this connection and appreciation of God that a man needs to foster in the young, otherwise within a generation or two the values will decay and the culture will die.

Mr. Rainey tells the story of when he was a young boy, about 12-years old, he was helping his father paint the house when he became bored or impatient and wanted to quit and go play. So the young Dennis went to his mother and asked if he could go play with his friends and his mother agreed. Just as young Dennis was convinced he had been saved from the labor his father came in and asked what was going on. When Dennis’ dad heard the pleas he said the following:

“That boy one day is going to be somebody’s husband and somebody’s father. There are going to be people depending on him. He has got to learn how to do what he has to do and not what he wants to do.”

To his credit and the credit of his mother, Dennis returned to his labor, learning a life lesson in the process.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned on my own journey is that the answer to the question of what it is to be a man isn’t contained in a book, even a book as good as “Stepping Up.” The answer is in the hearts of authentic men that courageously step up and challenge, support and love the next generation and the insight and wisdom of Mr. Rainey caln helps us all get there.

“A real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God’s greater reward.” Robert Lewis, founder of Men’s Fraternity.

So, what stands in your way? What stands in mine?

“Hey Occupy Wall Street, Who is John Galt?”

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations and encampments provide a fascinating and clearly defined illustration of the dramatic difference between Liberals and Conservatives – the Left feels entitled and the Right believes in freedom and personal responsibility.

The name itself, “Occupy Wall Street” tells the story.  The OWS crowds don’t just demonstrate they occupy and seize private and public property, and they defend this seizure by stating their bedrock belief that they are entitled!  The government  they say (that’s you and me by the way) owes them certain basic economic needs, housing, health care, jobs, education, and robust salaries.  They bemoan the the wealth gap between the 1% and the 99%.  They’re owed all this free stuff just because they are alive and they have the right to take anything they want because it’s unfair that some people make more money than they do!

The Left believes that the government must make decisions for the citizens to create fairness and to provide for everyone the “basic” needs of life.  They’re not concerned about how much this costs or if there are revenues to pay for the services, after all  “compassion” trumps common sense and the realities of economics.  In sharp contract the Right believes in the freedom to make personal choices, to succeed or fail by your own skill and effort.  The Right believes that “safety nets” for the less fortunate are good and needed as long as they work and they can be paid for.  Government should provide a safe environment for freedom to flourish and afford a helping hand, not a hand out, when needed.

A book that illustrates the great divide between Liberal and Conservative policies, and does this in a powerful and entertaining manner is “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.

I finished reading this tome while the OWS phenomenon was taking place and I was taken aback by how prescient Ms. Rand’s 1956 insight was to the events of today.  The anarchy, the seizure of power by the federal government, the destruction of the economy due to that seizure and the erosion of the human spirit due to the lack of any hope are artfully and forcefully told in this story of the conflict between collectivism and personal freedom.

Pundits and critics of Ms. Rand dismiss her philosophy as a glorification of the self-centered and the selfish.  That greed is good and compassion is bad.  That rationality is short sighted and feelings are paramount for a fair and just society.

Contrary to the pundits Ms. Rand glorifies personal freedom and the right to personal property.  The thesis presented is that the State has no right to seize your personal property, either physical or intellectual.  She believes that each individual is responsible for his or her success or failure and should reap the rewards or consequences accordingly.  If you develop a cure for cancer, or produce a better product than your competitors, if you  invest your time and money to accomplish this then you should profit from your skill and effort.  And you should profit as much as the market will bare.

Ms. Rand is unapologetic about the wealth generated by the industrialists of her story.  Again, she isn’t a champion of greed, she’s a champion of freedom.  Ms. Rand creates a tension in the book between the “producers” and the State.  The State is run by champions for “fairness,” for the right of every citizen to receive his or her fair share, regardless of their talents, efforts, or capabilities.  What’s truly discouraging is that the scenarios and the outcomes presented in “Atlas Shrugged” are happening today and the OWS is just the initial exposure of the disease of entitlement that is destroying this country.

 

 “Only a ghost can exist without material property; only a slave can work with no right to the product of his effort.”

In the interest of “fairness” the State is controlling more and more of society and the economy.  As the restrictions, taxes and regulations increase more and more of the producers, the wealthy, stop producing and abandoned the market leaving the State with the responsibility to provide the products and services demanded by the citizens.  The result – an accelerating slide into anarchy and chaos – as the people start to “occupy” the property of others in a futile attempt to provide their basic needs.

It’s this futility that echoes throughout “Atlas Shrugged.”  The futility of the State and the intellectuals to central plan  the society.  Another good source for insight on this subject is “The Road to Serfdom,” by F.A. Hayek which was written near the conclusion of World War II and Great Britain was struggling with how to address their economy after the extreme cost of the war.  Mr. Hayek’s basic argument is that it is impossible for a Central Planner to effectively control the millions of transactions that occur within the economy on a daily basis, therefore a free market is the only viable economic solution.

 “Thus, the more we try to provide full security by interfering with the market system, the greater the insecurity becomes.”

Unfortunately many of the “industrialist” of today don’t have the integrity of their counterparts in “Atlas Shrugged.”  Today the wealthy support and encourage the State and the Central Planners in the “interference “ with the market because they want to influence the system to their advantage.  What the producers of today need to do is to take a lesson from Ms. Rand and be proud of their accomplishments and if the State doesn’t want to stop interfering in the market then they should leave the market and let the State try to figure out how to provide basic goods and services to the citizens.  The result would be anarchy, but out of the ashes we would return to the original founding principles of this great country.

 “We’ve heard it shouted that the industrialist is a parasite, that his workers support him, create his wealth, make his luxury possible – what would happen to him if they walked out?  Very well.  I propose to show to the world who depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible and what happens to whom when who walks out.”

The Occupy Wall Street folks are attacking the wrong statistic.  Instead of being concerned about the wealth gap between the 1% and the 99%, they should be focused on the fact that close to 50% of Americans are dependent on or receive some major economic assistance from the Government!  That’s means you as a gainfully employed, responsible citizen are fully supporting one other person beyond your family!  I don’t begrudge the Bill Gates of the world their wealth, they earned it.  I do take exception to one half the population being subsidized by the other half.  This is more than an economic disaster, it’s a  human tragedy!

The supporters of OWS and Liberals in general would be well served to read “Atlas Shrugged” to learn what is in store for this country and the world if the current entitlement mind set is not abandoned!  And this brings me to my final point regarding the relevance of “Atlas Shrugged” to the events of today – Accountability and Integrity!

My recent blog postings have focused on the responsibility of men being fathers to their children and the current state of the culture is the consequence of that abdication by men.  For the entitlement mentality to take hold people must surrender their God-given freedom to others so that they don’t have to bear the responsibility for their lives.  The participants at the OWS events are chanting that they want their needs to be taken care of by the State, thereby avoiding the responsibility for their own lives.

The OWS crowd and Liberals in general refuse to be accountable for their success or failure in life.  They project the accountability on to the State which means that the rest of us are saddled with their care.  This approach is unsustainable and will eventually lead to the destruction of this country unless men of integrity stand up and say no to the growth of the Nanny State!  And this is the pint that Ms. Rand is making.  That by letting the government continue to erode our freedoms, by not demanding that they stop, by just “shrugging” and hoping for the best, we are complicit in the destruction of the economy of the culture of the nation!  We must be accountable and we must stop the march to Statism!

True compassion is for men, and women, to teach their children to be responsible for their lives and not to look to the Government accept in extreme circumstances.  We need to model integrity and accountability in our own lives so that our children learn the hard truth that each of us must be held accountable for our actions, that there isn’t a “get out of jail free” card in an honest and free society.  So, I encourage everyone to read, “Atlas Shrugged;” watch the movie that was released earlier this year; read Thomas Sowell; read F.A. Hayek; read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence; study the history of this great country and teach your children to be accountable!

“He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does.”

“I swear – by my life and my love of it – that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

“The only proper purpose of government is to protect man’s rights, which means:  to protect him from physical violence.”

“When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible:  for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into making of the product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.”

Post 25: “With Him I Am Well Pleased”

The warrior strode confidently into the Throne Room of the Castle. His chain-male and tunic tattered and soiled from the recent battle. Each rip in the tunic, each smudge of blood and dirt a badge of honor for the heroic and valiant efforts made by this man to win the battle. This was a man who had stared into the eyes of death and was able to summon the strength of will to overpower and defeat evil so that the Kingdom would be safe, would survive. Now that the battle had been won he had been summoned by the King, to present himself before the King, the Queen and the Royal Court.

Upon reaching the throne the warrior bowed before the King. The King stood and asked the warrior to kneel and taking his sword from his scabbard the King touched the warrior on each shoulder and proclaimed that the man was now Sir Henry, a Knight in the service of the King and his kingdom.

This royal act of blessing should be familiar to anyone who has seen a movie about the Middle Ages and the era of Knights, Kings, Queens and Robin Hood. In fact it may be the iconic image of a blessing. When I was growing up my favorite book was “King Arthur and his Knights,” by Maude L. Radford and I read and re-read this book to the point that it was torn and falling apart. My mother, God bless her, understood how important the little book was to me and one year she had the book repaired and rebound and I still have the volume in my library today. I can’t wait to share the stories of valor, courage and sacrifice that are contained in this wonderful book with my grandsons.

So, what was it about this book? Well, the adventures, the gallantry, the armor, the battles, right overpowering evil, and the colorful characters all contributed to my interest but I think what most attracted me was the blessing of men for who they were and what they accomplished. The King, the father figure in the stories would acknowledge the men for their courage and character…something that was lacking in my own life.

As I mentioned in my previous posting on Fatherhood (Blog Post 23: Fatherhood, Part 2) it is vitally important that men, especially fathers, bless their children. Without a sincere blessing it is difficult for our children to develop a positive self image and they more than likely will struggle with life in general, and responsibility specifically. It seems to me that our culture, our society has forgotten how to bless our youth and we’re not even aware that blessings are needed. We substitute trophies, gold stars or judgments for heartfelt acknowledgement of the child.

Recently a prison inmate in my Saturday morning men’s support group inside the local state prison related the story of how his aunt sent packages containing various items (toiletries, etc.) to a group of inmates who had written letters to at risk kids in the aunt’s community. The packages were her way of thanking the men for the blessings they bestowed on the kids. The packages and the notes that accompanied them were her way of blessing the inmates. The men were thankful for the acknowledgment and continued to write.

Other inmates who hadn’t been interested in the writing project when first approached were now very interested to join. They wanted to receive the packages from the one inmate’s aunt. They weren’t motivated by selfless service like the original group. They wanted the goodies, pointing out that you can’t seek a blessing, it has to be bestowed on you unconditionally.

This experience got me thinking about blessings in general so I asked the men in that Saturday morning circle if they could remember a time when they had been blessed, and sadly no one could remember a time! None could think of any time when they had been blessed, just for being themselves. I can’t say for certain but maybe the lack of positive acknowledgment contributed to these men ending up in a maximum security prison.

So what about you? When have you been blessed for being who you are?

In John Eldredge’s book, “Wild at Heart” he tells the story of one heartfelt blessing he received from his wife. If you’ve read the book you remember that Mr. Eldredge uses warrior metaphors to support his thesis and that he lived his life accordingly. He is very much a “Peaceful Warrior” to barrow a phrase from Dan Millman. John’s wife recognized this quality in her husband and one Christmas she wanted to let John know that she truly saw the man he is. After all the other presents had been opened she brought out a long narrow box for John. Inside was a large English broad sword, the Braveheart type, and John was deeply touched and honored by this true blessing. His wife honored him for being the man God intended and it meant more to John than almost anything.

As parents, as spouses, as friends we need to be conscious of the gift in each person in our lives and acknowledge and bless that gift. We need to Challenge ourselves to take a risk and bless someone in our lives today and as often as possible. Recognize that the resistance might be related to your own lack of having been blessed. We only have to look to the Word of God for guidance:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew, Chapter 3 Verses 16 through 17 (NIV)

Grant Cardone’s “The 10X Rule”

“It is your duty to provide for your family. It is not an option!” Grant Cardone

During these times when so many people feel that the government owes them a certain standard of living it is refreshing to come across such a clear and powerful voice for personal responsibility, integrity and accountability as is heard in the pages of Grant Cardone’s latest book, “The 10X Rule.”

Grant’s message that it is our moral and ethical responsibility to succeed leaps off the page and penetrates the heart, convicting the reader about his or her own inaction and abdication of responsibility.  It is this powerful challenge that sets this “sales or business success” book apart from all other motivational essays.  Grant dives beneath the typical “how to” formulas of other authors and attacks the heart of the problem for must people who feel as if they are stuck in mediocrity – he challenges the commitment of the reader to his or her own success!

What is also refreshing is that “The 10X Rule” is equally relevant to all aspects of our lives, not just financial success.  If you have the talent to be a musician then Grant challenges you to take “massive action” to use that talent as God intended.  No more complaints, excuses or whining, “No Negativity!”  Success is a responsibility and if you are not committed to that success then you have no standing to complain about your situation.

Anyone reading “The 10X Rule” is encouraged to look beyond the “business success” applications and look into their own resistance to achieving personal success, in any area of their lives.  What keeps you locked in a constant state of “less than?”  What excuses are you making for not achieving success?  Who are you blaming and why?  What prevents you from making the commitment to yourself and your family to take “Massive Action” to achieve success?  This is the genius of this book and the wisdom offered by Grant Cardone.

Most motivational books are all rah rah and light on what is really necessary to achieve success.  “The 10X Rule” presented by Grant provides the reader a simple and straightforward outline for achieving success in any given field.  If you follow Grant’s plan you cannot fail because it isn’t a formulae it’s a interpersonal transformation.  Most motivational authors deal with the outward aspects of success, Grant cuts to the heart of the matter, the commitment of the individual!  Grant pulls back the cultural curtain of motivation and sales training to expose the underlying interpersonal forces that keep most locked in their middle class, average lives.  This insight provides any person who truly understands the plan laid out by Grant to have an authentic chance to succeed – Because the answer isn’t in the book, it’s in your heart and soul!

If you have that nagging feeling that something is missing in your life, or if you need a kick in the pants to get you on the road to success then pick up “The 10X Rule” and make a commitment to yourself, to accept Grant’s challenge that success is your ethical responsibility.