A few months ago, Isis, the Islamic State in Syria was a terrifying organization. In Syria, they murdered Christians and crucified their fellow Muslims. By some accounts, they killed their victims first and then put dead bodies on crosses, if that helps. Recently, Al Qaeda, the leader among Muslim extremists denounced Isis and refused to work with them. They were too bad to run with the bad boys, terrorists to the terrorists. More recently, Isis attacked Iraq and conquered a third of the country. Now they control a national territory in Syria and Iraq with vast oil wealth. Also they inherited American weapons when the Iraqis dropped everything and ran. Billions in American investments are now in the hands of their worst enemies. I believe it is only a matter of time before attacks are launched outside of the Middle East; and that puts you and me at risk.
In April of 2012, Steven Covey, a fit and an enthusiastic cyclist, was riding a bicycle on a rugged nature trail in Utah. He lost control of his bicycle and crashed, and weeks later died from complications of the accident. Steven Covey, born on October 24, 1932 was 79 when he died. At the time of his death he was a husband, the father of nine and the grandfather of 52. His financial worth was estimated at 1.5 billion. That’s billion, with a “b” and that is money that he earned in his lifetime. No doubt he was a highly effective person.
Boko Haram is a Muslim group in Nigeria that is considered more dangerous than some units of Al Qaida. In the name of God, they have struggled violently with the government of Nigeria since 2011, resulting in many deaths. Recently they raided a girls’ boarding school and kidnapped almost 300 high school girls, mostly Christians. Men with guns forced the girls to leave in the night, and their dormitory was burned. They were taken into the African bush, forced to convert to Islam, and dressed in hijabs. They probably would have been killed if they had refused. The plan was to sell them to Muslim men for about 12 dollars each, as wives. Apparently the intended result was marital bliss, husbands and wives, and later children, in families.
Ukrainians, almost 50 million of them, are angry. They are refusing to buy Russian goods and services, and they are one of Russia’s best customers. A popular smart phone app “Boycott the Occupiers” identifies Russian bar codes in supermarkets, before purchasing. Russian imports have declined 40 percent in a few days. The world knows the news that Russia recently sent its army into Crimea, a region in the neighboring country of Ukraine. Now Crimea belongs to Russia but the angry Ukrainians supply most water, electricity, natural gas, and road and rail access to Crimea. Since the occupation the Russian government has announced a special economic zone for Crimea, to attract investment. Vladimir Putin and his government want long-term success.
Any important project requires an investment of you, and that is why so many great ideas die. What makes us stuck so that our projects die? We all get stuck and there is a small industry explaining our failures. There are books, including a Christian study guide called “Stuck” to explain the inertia problem that kills our projects. They identify negative things that we need to deal with so we can keep moving forward. But the problem is not a problem; it’s positive and good, not negative and bad. Can you find a problem in the list below? Are you a dietician? Mixed Berry Smoothie, Chocolate Danish, Double Berry Muffin, Walnut Crunch Doughnut, Timbit Dutchie, Gingerbread Man Cookies, Ice Cream all flavors, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Blueberry Fritters
Do you know much about the prosperity gospel? Prosperity teaching doesn’t allow for risks, or threats, or setbacks, and it influences most of us. Jim and Tammy Bakker were rumored to have an air conditioned dog house when they led a Christian ministry, but later Jim wrote a book “I was Wrong.” In Edmonton Alberta a real estate speculator was active for a few years named Kevyn Frederick, or Kevyn Sheldon Frederick, or Kevin Ronald Frederick, or possibly Portia Frederick. When he moved on, he left behind a ruined condo complex in Leduc (pictured), one of Edmonton’s premium hotels in receivership, and a large church without its land or building. Mr Frederick is rumored to be living in Las Vegas, or possibly Ethiopia. So how did this disaster happen to a large prosperous church?
So what are you working on in this new year; a church, a family, a career, a business? Success is simple, we are building a brick house and we only want good bricks. In the last few decades, developers have learned new ways to start new projects. One of the most successful project models is “Extreme Programming” that emphasises simplicity. Developers noticed that large super projects failed too often; years of hard work by large teams of experts could end in spectacular and expensive failure.
So what is your dream, something you want to see, or something you desperately need? Do you want something for yourself or your family, or other people; like a new career, an education, a business, or a mission for God? And you know that all dreams die right? All those great sentiments floating through our heads are just whiffs of electrical energy, and they are born to die. The good news is there are two ways to kill a dream. You can cycle that rosy thought for years and some day it will be a story to bore the grandchildren. I’ve got a few of those. The other way is to the kill the dream and make it into reality. Jesus said a grain of wheat remains alone unless it falls into the ground and dies (John 12:24), and I believe that principle applies to our hopes and dreams. My Grandfather, in Scotland was an expert on religion and theology. He read all the books and had all the answers, except someone told him to …
At the beginning of the New Year most of us have resolutions for a better life. According to experts with the Bank of Montreal, 80% of Canadians plan for the New Year with resolutions: 51% want better health and fitness 36% want better finances 31% want personal improvement 19% want a better love life 17% want career improvements That’s the picture on January 1, and apparently we keep about 60% of our financial resolutions, which works out to about 17% of the population. Otherwise, Canadians are mostly unsuccessful in their struggle to make life better.