All Posts by Paul

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Dec 02

Tips To Being An Effective Juror

By Paul | Uncategorized

It seems that very few of us want to learn to be an effective juror. In fact, when you Google the topic of being on a jury, many of the tips you'll find have to do with how to get out of being a juror. 

Why do we seem to hate this responsibility so much that we might even lie to get out of it?

Jury

I believe there are several factors, but two of them are big ones.

  1. We know there's going to be a lot of time and effort (sacrifice) involved.
  2. We know we're totally responsible for whatever decision we make about a tough topic that will drastically affect another person's life.
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Nov 23

The Presidential Invitation To Praise God By Thanksgiving

By Paul | Uncategorized

I am overwhelmed to tears with gratitude this morning. I appreciate every little comfort, freedom, and enjoyment I am blessed with. I was not always like this, but there was a time when almost all of these things were taken from me.

Thankful prayer

It was in that time of my life that I learned to be grateful for EVERYTHING, including that very hard time in my life. It was an integral part of creating the much better "chapter 2" of my life. I don't think even my children who have known me their whole lives quite yet understand the positive changes of heart that have occurred in me over the past few years.

In all my years on this earth, I never knew what I read this morning about the origins of Thanksgiving. I just thought turkeys, corn, native folks and pilgrims coming together was a great story. I never realized Thanksgiving was institutionalized in this country by Abraham Lincoln decades later.

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Oct 01

Proximity Blindness On Spiritual Things

By Paul | Uncategorized

We all run the risk of having proximity blindness, the inability to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Sometimes a bird's eye view is required for improved perspective. When we're too close to something, we may lack the grand view of things that are seen better from a distance. Truth is learned in improved perspective.

Elephant parable

I once heard that an expert is someone who has traveled more than 100 miles to be the speaker. That viewpoint suggests that someone we're too close to, someone we know personally, that might be our friend, that might live in our neighborhood - well, certainly THEY could never be an expert! We know them. We're close to them. "WHAT??? My cousin Bob is an expert? I can't even imagine that."

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Sep 24

Miracles and Real Angels

By Paul | Uncategorized

Sunrise above the clouds

I once had the incredible privilege of working very closely with a woman who had an absolute and unshakable belief in miracles and real angels. In fact, she used to carry around several $100 bills in her purse all the time, purely for the purpose of giving them away. The real angels were always involved. Here's how.

You see, there were two categories of people that this woman LOVED to support. I can't emphasize the LOVE part enough. She and I were both members of a Christian church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our nickname is The Mormons.

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Jun 25

A New Nation Conceived In Liberty

By Paul | Uncategorized

Can you imagine celebrating the 2500th anniversary of anything? That's no typo. As we prepare this coming July 4th to celebrate the relatively young 241st anniversary of the birth of our "new nation, conceived in liberty," let us look to the past to remind us of our incredibly great potential future. There is a choice to be made.

In 1971, the former 15th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Benson, was given an invitation, along with many other "notables," to visit Iran for the celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus The Great. That's the same Cyrus we read about in the Bible in several places (2 Chronicles, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Daniel).

Jeremiah spoke of him to be the one who would help the captive Hebrews to practice their religion as God had instructed them. Cyrus not only authorized them to return to Jerusalem, but went much further when he decreed that Jehovah's temple should be built up once again. He even ordered that the sacred "vessels of the house of the Lord" be returned.

This was an instance of God using a civic leader, and the most powerful one at that, to affect history and the moving forward of God's work among us, His children. The record states:

"the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah."

2 Chronicles 36:22-23​

Many centuries later, the Lord stirred the spirit of several other people to help bring about the most unique country in the history of the world, the United States of America. I'm no scholarly historian, so please don't beat me up if I get a couple of dates wrong, but I want to discuss the principles of these great events. I want to suggest that God was absolutely and directly behind the bringing forth of the ideas of this new Republic.

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Jun 23

WHY We Do Things Matters

By Paul | Uncategorized

My wife and I had the most incredible experience last night. Out of the blue last week, our neighbors invited us and a few other people over to their house for dinner. It's summer time and that seems to happen more. We gratefully accepted.

In the small group at the time of the invitation, there was talk of bringing Martinelli (sparkling juice in a wine-like bottle) that us Mormons sometimes drink at times of celebration. Why we do this, I'll never know.

So last night was the planned dinner at our friends and neighbors' house. Thinking we might be attending a summer BBQ, we showed up in jeans, shirts, and sandals (it's been a very hot summer). Little did we know what was to await us. A picture speaks a thousand words.

Look at that table. Flowers. Fancy napkin rings surrounding silk napkins. Shrimp cocktail. Multiple plates. Gold-plated cutlery, and lots of it. Multiple glasses. We were seated at our assigned seats by invitation. That's sure not how we do it at our house for meals... and I suspected that wasn't the norm for our hosts either.

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Jun 18

Pride Cometh or Pride Goeth – Either Way There’s A Fall

By Paul | Uncategorized

You're cruising around the interwebs and social media, looking to relax, maybe have a laugh or get inspired. All is going well until someone posts a comment or photo or joke about (WHATEVER).

What does it take to offend you? Someone saying things you disagree with about

  • your religion?
  • your politics?
  • your family?
  • your school?
  • your appearance?
  • your gender
  • your privilege
  • your (pick something... anything)

Taking offense seems to be a pretty popular sport in the online world. There's not enough space on this page to list all the things over which people could get their knickers in a twist. Why is that?

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Jun 05

Why Ladders Are The Answer To Poverty

By Paul | Uncategorized

It's not every day that Andrew Carnegie gets a positive quote in a religious sermon. He was known to be about money. An absolute ton of money.

Money Magazine lists Andrew Carnegie as the 6th richest guy on the planet ever in history. He falls far ahead of Bill Gates and a little ahead of John D. Rockefeller, but just behind Joseph Stalin (only because Stalin controlled an entire country with 9.6% of global GDP).​

Isn't money the root of all evil? Isn't money the greaser of palms and the cause of so much vice? I guess for some, that's how they see money.

Maybe Andrew Carnegie came to be one of the richest people because he did those things? Have you ever heard such a thing? I know people who absolutely believe that that kind of wealth must have come from crooked means. To me that's a sad outlook on life, but understandable with what we see in the world today. Even Bill Gates faked out IBM, Xerox, and Apple to get where he got (at least that's the way I read those stories).

You may remember that Andrew Carnegie also commissioned Napoleon Hill to study all the wealthiest people of his time and come up with a plan that anyone could use to become rich. In fact, the plan became the book Think and Grow Rich.

Getting rich must have been pretty important to Carnegie. He wanted everyone to know how to do it. Was this just about fortune, pride, or extravagant living?

The second part of the story, and what made the religious quote so interesting, was that Andrew Carnegie believed all the rich folks should die poor. Not that they should have their wealth stripped from them or that they should be taxed into oblivion. But that they should do something that's unfortunately rarely heard of these days.​ Super rare!

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May 30

How To Overcome Skepticism And Doubt With Faith And Belief

By Paul | Faith , Happiness

Do you remember the SNL character Debbie Downer? She seemed to find the negative in almost any situation. The skits were hilarious because they were a caricature, an exaggerated view of how some people seem to be with their doubts.

I once knew a guy whose family, behind his back, referred to him as "Buzz Kill." He was a loving and generous man, but bring up a significant topic about health or money or the goodness of people and he became Debbie Downer. Grumpy Gus is another way to describe him, and he seemed to relish that reputation. Thankfully, still kind and generous.

I used to be able to relate to that view of life. I started out life as one of the chief skeptics. I doubted and doubted until I believed my own doubt. The operative words there are "my doubt." Pick a topic. I doubted it. Worse, I was very vocal and complaining about it. "Wait and see" seemed to be the way I went about life. I wouldn't be surprised if my family labeled me "Buzz Kill" behind my back at some point.

​In ancient Greece, the two main schools of skepticism both thought we should just hold off on judgment because it would make us feel better in our minds. It would give us "ataraxia" or "a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility." (see dictionary.com)

Then something changed in my brain, and I can't really tell you when. Skepticism did not give me ataraxia or any other type of mental calmness or happiness. I began to think that life was an experiment. I wondered and wondered about all kinds of things. Like Alice, I became "curiouser and curiouser." (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 2)

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