Saturday, February 28, 2009

Please Forgive Those Who Have Harmed You

This is kind of a strange item to appear in a list of this sort, but I feel it is an important and often missing piece to the puzzle of life, as well as our relationship with money. The best analogy I have is unforgiveness is like cholesterol clogged arteries. It blocks the flow of the Holy Spirit in Christians and poisons the life of Christian and unbeliever alike. Left untreated the pain and the problem will increase until the heart can no longer generate enough energy to overcome the constriction in the artery. Untreated the result is death. It is number two on my list. I feel that strongly because I believe forgiveness is that important.

Not surprisingly, I have a problem in this area. Twice in my life I have suffered unjust and in one case, perhaps irreparable damage to my career at the hands of wicked men. I still have not completely forgiven one of my enemies, even though I lift him up to God, every time I feel the pain of unforgiveness constrict my heart.

I have done better with another player in this unfortunate drama. His sin was one of omission rather than commission and, as far as I know, he is a brother in Christ. I experimented with a spiritual exercise attributed to Father Gerry O’Rourke. It worked. God’s best is a face to face reconciliation but sometimes that is just impossible. In such cases you might find this a useful alternative. Some of this if from memory so I might be off a bit on some of the details of how I actually did it.

Decide in your heart that you are ready to forgive the person who injured you, totally, absolutely, and unconditionally. If you are not ready, lift that person to God and restate your desire to forgive them. Tell God how much you want to let this go and put this person in his hands. It might take a very long time, but keep at it until you are ready. Understand forgive does not mean forget. It just means you are releasing any rights you have retained to take any act of vengeance, including hateful speech, character assassination even if true, or intentionally malicious speech. It has been said, “Throw your heart over a fence and the rest of you will follow.” That is pretty much what you are trying to do in this exercise.

Once you are ready, think deeply about the entire situation. Dig deeply into your own heart and remember every injury you have suffered every pain you have felt. Write them down on a piece of paper. Write until you run out of every angry hateful thought you have concerning this person. Then write down, “and anything else that I might remember at a later time.”

Then sit down in a chair. Close your eyes and visualize that person sitting in a chair across from you. Try to make it as real and detailed as you can. Then, silently, in your mind, unload on this person. Let him know everything thing on that list with all the emotions and hurt you feel. If you can, try and imagine how that person might respond. In your mind, let them respond. When this exercise is finished, tell the person that you forgive them, totally, absolutely, and unconditionally. Tell them you release any rights to take acts of vengeance.

Then open your eyes, restate your decision and your commitment to forgive your enemy to God. Stand up, tear the piece of paper into small pieces and throw it away. I threw my piece of paper into a paper shredder approved for classified information we have at work. The particles that come out of that machine are so small that they are almost powder. Then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water and consider the case closed.

I have seen so much energy wasted in hating or resenting those who have wronged us. In the most extreme cases, a lack of forgiveness almost guarantees that the person will never reach their goal. Consider a divorced woman who was seriously and unjustly injured by her former husband. In such cases, a woman can harbor so much hatred of her former husband that she is unable to have a healthy adult relationship with another man. More likely we simply waste time and energy as we relive past wrongs and extend hateful thoughts towards those who have committed real offenses that have truly hurt us. Even the wicked understand this. If a drug dealer is wronged by a competitor, he will simply take a gun and kill the man who wronged him. This is an effective way to deal with the pain of unforgiveness but it is not in keeping with the way of the universe. God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” In this world the wicked do prosper but ultimately that is business of our God. Your challenge is to do good in this world. Ultimately Jesus did not tell us to forgive our enemies for our enemies’ benefit. The command to forgive our enemies is for our benefit and for our healing.

I am a Christian and so I believe in a personal God who created the universe and is actively involved in His creation, but these principles will work for you, no matter who you are or what you might believe. There is a way in God’s universe that impersonally applies to all men and women. Gravity comes to mind. If I jump off the roof of my house I will fall to the ground. It does not matter who I am or what I believe. Likewise the first law of thermodynamics comes to mind. If I eat too much and do not exercise, Christian, Buddhist, or atheist I will gain weight. Likewise with forgiveness, hatred never ends hatred. Vengeance leads to endless blood feuds, whether the participants are Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, Mafia clans in Sicily, tribes in Africa, families in West Virginia, or nations the Middle East. Christian or not. Hatred and vengeance it is not the way of the universe. As you work with your heart, keep this in mind. Whether you pray directly to the God who is, or whether you seek to align your life with the way of the universe, as you forgive your enemy, you will move closer to personal peace, joy, and greater success.

Jesus had so much to say on the subject of forgiveness that it is difficult to select a scripture. This seems like a pretty good example.

Matthew 5

[43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
[45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
[46] For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
[47] And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
[48] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Divine Purpose

Divine purpose or what we are more likely to call the will of God is number 3 on my list of 7. Some of you might find this the most controversial thing I am likely to post on this blog, but please stay with me on this one. I think you might like what I have to say.

Before we set our goals, I think we should check in with the God of the universe and attempt to determine what is in our best interests. Clearly, a criminal can set the goal of becoming the most powerful drug lord in his city. If he then pursues this goal with ruthless congruence, self-confidence, a counterfeit of faith (number 5 on my list), and then shares his ill-gotten gains with his gang members, he can achieve his goal. But if our desire is to live in harmony with the universe, with what is good, and true, and right, then I believe that asking God in prayer for direction in our life is a good place to start. At my age, I do not expect to get very much out of God on a given day. However, I believe that if I persevere with patience, eventually a path will become visible in the confusion of life.

I am very uncomfortable with the term “ the Will of God” as I have heard it taught in many of the churches I have attended. In my mind, it is a term that is front loaded with all sorts of unpleasant emotional baggage. I have heard over and over, that God has this “wonderful” plan for my life and if I am not utterly obedient, I will miss the mark and my life will lie in ruins. Those of you who are old enough might remember the television show, Let's Make a Deal with Monty Hall. On this show the contestants would win really nice prizes, like a new color TV. Then Monty would give them the opportunity to trade what they have for what might be contained in a large box or hidden behind a curtain. Everyone knew that sometimes the prize behind the curtain might be an expensive new car or it might be a pet goat. Sometimes preachers have made me feel like God is Monty Hall, playing a cosmic game of Let's Make a Deal with my life.

A couple of years ago I realized the will of God doesn’t quite work that way. A young woman I care for very deeply was considering a return to college. Earlier, she had dropped out of school after suffering a terrible burnout. She didn’t know if it was God’s will for her to return to school. She didn’t know what school or what major. She was terribly afraid that she would miss “God’s perfect will for her life,” and as a punishment she would trade everything she had for a pet goat.

I observed that I was not God. Knowing me as well as she does, she quickly concurred with that observation. I went on to ask her a series of questions.

“If you never complete your degree and become a wife and a mommy, don’t you think I will want to bless you and be a part of your life?”

“If you return to the University of South Carolina and complete your degree in music or English, don’t you think I will want to bless you and be a part of your life?”

“If you take Internet courses and finish your degree at Regent University, don’t you think I will want to bless you and be a part of your life?”

I observed that if someone with my shortcomings and character defects could feel that way about her and her life, didn’t she think that perhaps her Heavenly Father might love her and care for her even more than I could ever possibly hope to achieve.

If you are interested my personal preference would have been the University of South Carolina, a perfectly good, inexpensive, public university not nine miles from her house. She choose Internet courses at Regent and after transferring her credits from other schools went on to graduate. She racked up a year and a half of a perfect 4.0 grade point average and is now attending graduate school. I am so proud of her I can hardly stand it.

I love the story of the Prodigal Son and have studied it in some depth during a week long silent retreat. I learned a lot. I learned I have a bad case of the elder brother. I learned it is not the parable of the prodigal or the parable of the elder brother. It is the parable of the Father, of our Heavenly Father.

I even concocted my own version of that story that takes place right here in Montgomery County during the late 1970s. The father in this story owns three car dealerships in the metropolitan area. He has two sons. The youngest rebels and asks for his share of the businesses. The father takes out a loan to raise enough cash to give the younger son that which he desires. Of course the younger son moves to Miami and blows all the money on cocaine, prostitutes, and fast cars. He ends up in a Florida prison on drug charges. The elder son works 12-16 hours a day to help earn enough money to keep the car dealerships from going under during the recession of 1980. His wife even goes back to work so that the elder son can put more money back into the business. Of course, you know the rest. The younger son is released from prison and returns to beg the father’s forgiveness. The father runs across the parking lot to embrace his wayward son. Later that night when the father is throwing a party at an expensive Italian restaurant to celebrate his son’s return, he notices his eldest son is missing. The father gets in his car and drives around a bit before he finds him at the White Flint dealership, sulking in his office. Of course you know the rest of the story. In my version, like the original, there is a lot of hugging and crying.

Jesus tells us that is the way the Father feels about us, Abba, Father, Daddy. He loves us and is always waiting for an opportunity to run towards us, embrace us, and bless us. He wants to bless us and be a part of our lives. Because of Jesus we are his sons and his daughters. God is not Monty Hall and our lives are not some sort of a cosmic version of a sadistic game show.

Luke 15

[11] And he said, A certain man had two sons:
[12] And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
[13] And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
[14] And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
[15] And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
[16] And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
[17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
[18] I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
[19] And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
[20] And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
[21] And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
[22] But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
[23] And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
[24] For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
[25] Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
[26] And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
[27] And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
[28] And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
[29] And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
[30] But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
[31] And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
[32] It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found

Monday, February 23, 2009

Setting Goals with Congruence

Maybe this is about number four in my current list of seven but it is much further developed in my own mind than items number two and three so here it is.

In order to achieve goals, I believe we must set goals. In order to obtain a house, a car, inner peace, or a good marriage, we must start with a clear understanding of what we truly desire before we can work towards achieving that end. If we lack goals, then life just happens to us, like a ship without a rudder, drifting where wind and current would take her. As you begin to set goals. Set reasonable goals, goals you can believe in, goals you can clearly visualize. As you practice and become more adept with this process, you will naturally attempt greater goals, ones you can not imagine today.


Goals need to be simply stated and easily understood. This is as true for politicians attempting to direct the course of a nation as it is for me and for you. If you can’t put a goal in a short simple phrase or sentence, you really don’t yet know what you want. Complex goals also seem to frequently contain internal contradictions. Of course a complex of actions flow out of simple goals. I want to build a custom house in Germantown is a simple goal but there is money to be saved, loans to be obtained, a prime contractor, subcontractors to be identified, and a lot of work to be done over the course of the next year. Some management gurus consider the best example of such a goal to be the one stated by President John F Kennedy at the beginning of his administration, “We will put a man on the moon in less than 10 years.” It was a goal that captured the imagination and energy of the entire nation.


Always start with a goal that is stated in positive language. If you don’t do this, the odds are high that you will never achieve that goal. Consider; one of my most vexing problems is weight. Losing weight is a negative goal. Nobody wants to lose things. Not surprisingly, most people who set out to lose weight either fail or lose it and after a while find what they have lost. A better way to frame such a goal would be to state something like, “I want to run in the 5K race held by my favorite charity this October.” That is a positive goal that would result in weight loss. I have read the highest probability of a successful weight loss program would be the one undertaken by a bride to be as she plans her wedding. For these women looking good in that dress on the most important day of her life is a very positive goal.

Of Benefit to You

Following up on the last paragraph, losing weight to look stunning in a wedding dress is a goal that is perceived to be of enormous benefit in the mind of a bride. However, looking stunning in a tuxedo is not perceived as being of any particular benefit to this tired, balding, 58 year old engineer. Obviously I need some other motivation. A comfortable retirement that begins as soon as possible is a goal that I perceive as being of enormous benefit to me. Not surprisingly, I do not find it difficult to squirrel away money to achieve that end.

Believable by You

Many people try and set goals they really don’t believe are possible. Generally they do not reach these goals. This is the point at which faith (topic 5 on my list of 7) comes into play. We all have different measures of faith in different areas of life. Some of our levels of faith come out of our experience and some is based on the Grace of God. It is often said that an elephant can be eaten, but only one bite at a time. Try this with goal setting. Set a little short term goal, a goal you know you can reach. Then set a bigger goal and build your faith by saying, “I know I can do this, because God helped me do that.” Build a track record of success, one little bite at a time.


Pick a goal that can be measured. How do you measure, “I will be a happier person?” There is really no practical way to chart your movement towards happiness. However, if your life style or even your brain chemistry is making you unhappy, there are things that can be done and goals that can be set. Your unhappiness could perhaps, as in the case of my wife, be helped with an antidepressant. Maybe your job is putting you in an early grave. A first step goal might be, “I will apply for at least one new job in the next month.” Maybe your situation would improve if you just took your eyes off yourself and tried to help another. The goal, “I will volunteer 3 hours a week as a tutor at the local high school.” There is always a way to set a goal that will move you in the direction you want to go that can be quantified and tracked.

You Can Control It

Control is something I have never seen addressed in a list of this nature. Although it is not included in lists such as this one, I think it is something worth considering. I can set a goal of putting aside 14% of my pretax income for retirement. That I can do, as long as I have a job. It is much harder to state, I will increase my net worth by 14%. That is somewhat dependent on the stock market and as we all know, lately I have not been able to make the market go up.

Congruence is a strange word, but it is the best word I know for the principle of alignment. In order to pursue and achieve or goals with a minimum of time and effort, it is important that every aspect of our person and our behavior is in alignment with our goals. Two sets of points are called congruent if both have the same shape and size and thus are indistinguishable. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we must seek congruence and coincidence in our life, that is we make the effort shape our actions, thoughts and beliefs in such a way that they take the same shape and point in the same direction.

If, for example, a 110 pound woman wishes to become a defensive lineman in the National Football League, her goal would not be congruent with her natural gifts and talents. Clearly, God intended something else for her life, but this principle is often very subtle. We seek good things, that may not necessarily be good for us or we seek them in such a way that causes conflicts in our soul. For example, an individual can find himself at a point in his career, when the only thing he still desires from his employer is a pension. Although, a pension is a good thing, as this individual goes to work day after day, his heart is not aligned with his actions. The result is pain and disappointment even as he succeeds at reaching a good goal. Likewise, individuals that makes moral compromises to maintain a relationship will always be at war with themselves. A good relationship with a member of the opposite sex is a good goal for almost all people, but pursuing this goal in the wrong way is a recipe for disaster.

So in conclusion be careful what goals you set and work to accomplish. Like Solomon, you might actually get what you asked for.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2

[4] I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:
[5] I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:
[6] I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:
[7] I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:
[8] I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
[9] So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.
[10] And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.
[11] Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

I seem to like short lists that simplify and synopsize larger truths. As we go deeper into the Silver Eagle Experiment, I have started thinking, once again, about setting and achieving goals in keeping with Divine purpose or what we are more likely to call the will of God. I am pretty happy with the contents of my list but at any given point of time I am not particularly happy with the order. I have concluded there is no "right" order.

I believe that God generally starts the process of fulfilling our dreams at that point at which we are weakest. For me on my list of seven items, that would be gratitude. As a middle class American and as a Protestant Christian, I have been taught that if I work hard and play the game by the rules, I will get what I "deserve." Like most human beings my life has had its share of disappointments. I get angry with God and complain. By the way, that is OK. God can handle your tantrums. I think that sometimes God looks at us the same way we look at an unhappy two year old child, with love touched with both sorrow and joy. Of course I am smart enough to know that I should be very thankful that I have not received what I deserve. The wages of sin are, after all, death.

As we receive, it is important that we continually give thanks. As we pursue our goals it is possible that everything we need will fall into our hands in an instant. This is called a miracle and miracles do happen. However, in this world, it is more common that a house is built brick by brick. As we watch the construction of the house of our dreams, give thanks for each piece of wood that is raised and for every dollar added to your investments and savings. Rejoice in your increase as it occurs and cultivate a heart of gratitude.

Gratitude always begins in the present moment. Right now, find something, anything in your life that is good and express your gratitude to the God of the universe. There is nothing that so adds to your happiness, as finding joy in what you have in this present moment. You don’t have to get metaphysical on us. I can honestly thank God for my Honda. I bought it new almost 13 years ago. I was blessed to be able to pay cash for that car. It has been incredibly reliable, a joy to drive, and gets 28 miles per gallon or better on the daily commute. It is the best car I have ever owned. I thank God for my credit union at work. I have not had a bank account for almost 24 years. I never get hit with any mystery fees or weird charges, and I don’t need to worry about getting nailed by some of the nonsense going on with bank credit cards. If I ever have a question or problem, it is a place where everybody knows my name. You see, it isn’t hard to cultivate gratitude in the present moment. Even a bitter old timer like me can do it.

Do not limit joy and gratitude to your own life but extend it to others. When you see a friend or acquaintance receive something good in their life, experience the joy of gratitude from blessings poured out by our God no matter where they fall. This is the beginning of love. Consider the joy of a mother as she watches her healthy baby take his first steps. Her heart is filled with love and joy even though the blessing falls to another.

[1] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[2] He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
[3] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
[4] Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
[5] Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
[6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Welcome to Rosemont

I would like to welcome our new volunteers from Rosemont Alliance to the Silver Eagle experiment. As we continue in this exploration in hearing from God, I hope the time you are spending with the Lord is a blessing. Please feel free to share your insights, needs, and experiences on this web site.

In the financial world it is a time of great shaking but our God can not be shaken and will remain.


[1] LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
[2] Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
[3] But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
[4] I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
[5] I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
[6] I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
[7] Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
[8] Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A First Post

I just couldn't wait to see if I could actually make this technology work. I guess a good thing to start with is one of my favorite psalms for hard times (financial or otherwise). This summer, during a rare moment of real gratitude, I felt as though the Lord spoke this psalm to my heart.

[1] I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
[2] My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
[3] He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
[4] Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
[5] The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
[6] The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
[7] The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
[8] The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Welcome to the Silver Eagle Experiment Blog

This site provides an opportunity for the participants to share prayer requests, praise reports, and insights into the management of money and the creation of wealth. We hope it proves to be a blessing to our community and an inspiration to others.

People spend a great deal of time thinking and worrying about money. Therefore, it is logical that we, as Christians, learn how to seek God’s will in such an important area of life. In this culture we are constantly bombarded with so much advice, on how to spend, save, and invest our money, how can we learn to hear God’s voice in the midst of so much noise?

Volunteers participating in this experiment have made a six month commitment to achieve an understanding of money management and the creation of wealth based on James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” The participants will pray daily for direction, maintain an open mind and heart to hear from God, and keep a daily journal as a record of God’s actions in their life.