Tax Reform - A Simplified Approach

One of the hot political topics right now is tax reform.  And, spoiler alert, there are people on both sides that are for and against the new bill.  The biggest issues I've heard from it so far are:
1.  Tax cuts for low to middle income families.
2.  Tax cuts for the wealthy.
3.  Tax cuts for corporations.
so let's look at those.

I believe that all politicians want to at least say they will, and hopefully do, make tax cuts for what I consider normal working class people like my family, my friends, and myself who work a regular job with enough money to live off of but not so much that we have no financial stresses in our life.  We all want a break on taxes which means more money in our pocket.  Money that we can use to be charitable, give to our loved ones, save, pay off debt, or even sparingly treat ourselves.  This is also money that we still spend in stores, restaurants, and other businesses which guess what...makes more people money.  So you will be hard pressed to find any…

Coming to Our Senses

I watched a few NFL football games on Sunday.  At this point with all the protests and boycotts, I'm not sure if that makes people think that I'm an activist, a patriot, or just a guy who likes football.  Oddly enough, I actually enjoy the pregame talks and analysis more than the game itself sometimes.  And for the past few weeks I have tried to tune in early in order to see all of the pregame "activities."

I noticed several weeks ago when kneeling in protest during the National Anthem became the "trendy" or "cool" thing to do that the NFL and major networks seemed to buy into that hype and attempt to use it to boost ratings.  I assume they were going with the old adage; "There is no such thing as bad publicity."  However, as ratings, sponsors, advertisers, and eventually money began to decline, the pregame protests became less of a focal point.

And finally, this Sunday, November 12th, I believe the NFL and networks finally got it right…

What is Worship?: Part 1 - Preparation

What is worship?  We could spend a lot of time discussing this question to come to a consensus definition of what worship is to us.  Most would like say that worship is praying, singing, going to church, or reading the Bible.  But worship is so much more.  It is God's desire for all of His people to worship Him.  "Simply put, worship is engaging with God, treasuring God, and submitting to God."  How do we do that?

In Leviticus 9:15-21 (READ), we read about the first duty of the priest as he offers sacrifices and offerings for the sins of the people.  But before the priest could make sacrifices for the people's sins, he had to make sacrifices for his own sins (Lev 9:1-14).  The Israelites were set apart as God's people and were the only nation commanded to build tabernacles and offer sacrifices.  Aaron first offered a goat as a sin offering for the people.  This was a sacrifice for unintentional sin as many of us often sin without even realizing it.  He then follo…

Exodus 33 - Part 2 - Please Stay

God has recently instructed Moses to lead the people out of Sinai toward the land He has promised them.  But, God has sent them out with an angel and told Moses that He would no longer be with the people.  How would Moses respond when the one who called him to this task at the burning bush and who has led him this entire way was now deserting him?  We will see that Moses' faith and relationship with God had grown so close that he was able to ask the hard questions, the serious questions, about where their relationship stood and if God would continue to lead them or not.

Read Exodus 33:12-16.

Look at what Moses asked God for in v13: "Show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight."  'Moses had been speaking with God on a more intimate level than anyone in human history save Adam and Eve before the Fall.'  Yet he was still pursuing God's presences, still pursuing getting to know God better.  One day, hopefully you graduate from …

Exodus 33 - Part 1 - The Separation

Last week we looked at the story of The Golden Calf and how the people allowed an inanimate object take God's place of priority and worship in their lives.  Now in Exodus 33, the fallout of idolatry and sin continues for the Israelites.

The Lord said to Moses, "Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your offspring I will give it.' "  God then promised Moses to send an angel before the people to drive out the current inhabitants of the land (Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites).  The Lord continues, "Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."  (Exodus 33:1-3)

Following the Israelites idolatry, God sent a plague on the people in Exodus 32:35.  This plague (if in the form of a disease) likely would have t…

Who's the Man? - Part 3: Rescued!

Here we are.  Moses is up on the mountain getting instruction from the Lord.  Meanwhile, the Israelite people have rebelled and turned their back on God asking Aaron to build them an idol to worship.  They have completely tossed Moses and God to the side and bowed down to a golden calf.  God is furious at the people to say the least and has told Moses that He plans to destroy them and start over and "make a great nation of you (Moses)." (Ex 32:10)  If you are one of these Israelites, you just turned your back on God.  He knows.  He's mad.  What do you want to happen next? 

Moses begins to plead with the Lord, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, 'With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume (destroy) them from the face of the earth?'  Turn from your burning anger and relent from …

Who's the Man? - Part 2: God Sees

In Moses' absence, we have seen the Israelites quickly turn away from God and begin to form idols to worship instead of remembering the commands and promises of the one true God.  So what happens next?  What happens once we begin to idolize something and place it over God in our life?

In Exodus 32:7-10, as the people are worshipping the golden calf at the base of the mountain, the Lord says to Moses, "Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.  They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them.  They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel!' "  The Lord continues, "I have seen this people and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you."

A lot of times, when Thomas is bei…