In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed

Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” Part 2 – The 7 Cures for a Lean Wallet and The 5 Laws of Money

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Part 1 of this 2 Part series ends the synopsis of George Clason’s book “The Richest Man in Babylon,” but Clason raises an important question: Why should
so few men be able to acquire so much gold?

The answer is because they know how.

One may not condemn a man for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.

And so it was that the good king of Babylon sought out the richest man in Babylon to teach to others in his kingdom the secrets of his success.

This is a synopsis of what the richest man taught to the people
of Babylon:

The Seven Cures for a Lean Wallet

1) Start your wallet to fattening. Save one-tenth of all you earn. Remember that a part
of all I earn is mine to keep. Do this faithfully. Do not let the simplicity of this escape you.

When I ceased to pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings,
I got along just as well.
I was not shorter than before, and, money came to me more easily than before.

2) Control your expenses. How is it that all do not earn the same yet all have lean wallets? Here is the truth: That which each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to
the contrary.

Confuse not necessary expenses with desires. We all have more desires than our earnings can gratify. Examine which of the accepted expenses of living can be reduced or eliminated. Let your motto be 100% of appreciated value demanded for every dollar spent.

Budget your expenses so that your actual necessities are met without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.

3) Make your money multiply. Protect your growing treasure by putting it to labor and increasing. Money in your wallet earns nothing. Money that we earn from our money is but a start; it is the earnings generating earnings that builds fortunes.

When the richest man in Babylon loaned money to the shield maker to buy bronze, he said this: “Each time I loaned money to the shield maker, I loaned back also the rental he had paid me. Therefore not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased.”

4) Guard your money from loss. Everyone has an idea of how to make quick money; few, however, have the evidence of making money to justify their idea, scheme or offer of quick riches. The first sound principle of investment is security for your principal.

Before you loan your money to any man assure yourself of his ability to repay your loan, and of his reputation to do so. Make no one a present of your hard-earned treasure.

Consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for profit. Such advice is often freely given for
the asking, and may possess more value than the amount you
are about to invest.

5) Make your home a profitable investment. When you can set aside only nine-tenths of what you earn to live, and can use a part of that nine-tenths to improve the investment in your housing, do it; owning your own home is also an investment that grows with your wealth.

Your family deserves a home they can enjoy and call their own. It builds a sense of stability and well-being.

6) Ensure a future income. Build income-producing assets that do not require you to work forever. We will all grow old and die.

You should prepare a suitable income for the days to come when you are no longer younger and cannot work as hard, and to make preparations for your family should you no longer be with them to comfort and support them. Provide in advance for the needs of your growing age, and the protection of your family.

7) Increase your
ability to earn.
Desire precedes accomplishment, and the desire must be strong and definite. When you have backed your desire for saving $1,000 with the strength and purpose to secure it, you can then save $2,000.

Desires must be simple and definite. Desires defeat their own purpose when they are too many, too confusing, or too difficult to accomplish. Cultivate your own powers to study and become wiser, more skillful, and more productive.

Here is more sage advice from Clason’s masterpiece on financial matters:

The 5 Laws of Money

If you had to choose, would you choose tons of money or wisdom? Most men would take the money, ignore the wisdom, and waste the money. Here is the wisdom:

1) Money comes gladly and in increasing quantities to any man who will put aside not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and the future of his family.

2) Money labors diligently and contently for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying unto itself in infinity if kept working diligently. Money multiplies itself in surprising fashion.

3) Money clings to
the protection of the cautious owner who invests it with the advice of men wise
in its handling.

4) Money slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes that he is not familiar with, or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. The inexperienced handler of money who trusts his own judgment, and puts his money in investments which he is not familiar, always pays with his money for his experience.

5) Money flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings, or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who
trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

Here is the hard lesson of the 5 Laws of Money: You cannot measure the value of wisdom in bags of money. Without wisdom, those who have it quickly lose money, but with wisdom, money can be secured by those who have it not.

This ends the condensation.

Faith and Religion

Copyright 2020 by Ed Bagley

Life is short,
death is certain.
We will all
feel the curtain.

We plan to do
our very best,
then hope that we
might finally rest.

Now we know
there is NO rest.
As we confront
test after test.

Life can make
us really try.
Our reason fails
to tell us why.

Sometimes we win,
sometimes we lose.
It all depends
on how we choose.

And when the
final curtain falls,
you will see,
where you
will be.

Death will only
open a door,
to perhaps a life
on an upper floor.

And only then
you will see,
exactly where
the end will be.

But to imagine
our life ahead,
we must follow
what Jesus said.

Follow my cross,
know the way,
to see my Father
every day.

Our tears and troubles
will fade away,
and our clear future
will always stay.

My heavenly Father
said it best,
you will surely
see your final rest.

Keep the faith,
so you will see,
what heavenly life
can surely be.

Life is not
a resting place,
what we need
is God’s grace.

You will know
this much too,
God will never,
ever, abandon you.

Amen

(Ed’s Note: This condensation is from Matthew Kelly’s book: Perfectly Yourself – Discovering God’s Dream for You. I did this condensation because I want to promote his book, which has helped me better understand myself and perhaps you could also benefit from what he has to say about seeking perfection in your life.)

Lesson One:  Celebrate Your Progress

Recognize the “hunger” we all have.

Are you making progress in your desire for connection and union with God?

We need to understand the dynamics of change that so often eludes us.  We need to be honest with ourselves.  The truth is: Diets do not fail.  We fail at diets.  Relationships do not fail.  We fail at relationships. Why can’t we transform our resolutions into habits?  The answer is because we focus too much on the desired outcome and not enough the progress we are making.  Just be yourself—life is not about doing and having, it is about becoming.  Our resolutions involving programs and products divorce themselves from God and in doing so lose their connection with grace, and no great change happens without grace.

The first step toward becoming perfectly yourself is acknowledging your imperfections.  Personal tendencies and talents should be accepted, but character defects should always be challenged.  Think of a tree: Recognize that its branches are not all straight, yet it is perfect in its imperfections, you could say it’s perfectly imperfect, yet it does change and grow over time, and so can we.  The goal is to find the balance between accepting ourselves for who we are and challenging ourselves to be all we are capable of being.  Kindness toward ourselves precedes all genuine and lasting growth, and lightheartedness is a sign that we trust that we are exactly where we are right now for a reason.

The best-version-of-ourselves is not something we strive for and never achieve.  It is something we achieve in some moments and not in others.  Practice does not make perfect in this exercise, but it does make progress.  We can become paralyzed by the fear of failure in this process and will not succeed in the effort until we believe that substantial change is possible.  We need to appreciate that celebrating progress is fundamental in achieving the psychology of change.  We must never allow our spirit to be stifled by failure.  Failure is part of progress,
it is not a final outcome.

Progress fills us with gratitude for the now and hope for the future.  Progress requires desire and action.  Progress creates enduring happiness.  Baby steps are the secret.  Small victories lead to large victories.   

Lesson Two:  Just Do the Next Right Thing

All of us at one time or another have asked this uncomfortable question:  Who am I, and what am I here for?  And:  What is life about?  This moment is part of the process of maturing into a healthy adult human being.  When you get the sense that something is wrong, realize that God has created you to be here right now for a specific reason. 

We think that a new job, a new house, a new car, a different lover or an extended vacation is the answer to our restlessness.  God asks us to stand still and create some time in the rush of everyday living to seek silence and solitude.

The self-discovery that so many people go off to other places in search of is right inside us when we discover that our imperfections are part of our perfection.  We are perfectly imperfect.  Our self-deception and misplaced expectations leave us searching for who we really are in ways that are both real and imaginary.

The key is to humble and honest enough to acknowledge which of our imperfections are part of who we are and which are obstacles that stand in the way of being perfectly imperfect.  When we are humble every life experience is richer.  Truth lived becomes wisdom and living in the things we know to be good and true begets further wisdom.

Have you ever been told that if you set your mind to it you could achieve anything?  It is a lie.  We have all set our mind to things and failed, causing us to feel inadequate.  The truth is we may fail at things because we are simply not well suited to them.  We are capable of extraordinary things, but each of us is different.  Your skill or talent could be my weakness, and my skill or talent could be your weakness.  The great challenge is not to succeed in the world’s eyes, but rather to discover what your unique abilities are and offer them to the world in the best way you can.  To feel at home with who you are and where you are and what you are doing is worth more than all the treasures and pleasures money can buy.

Only one thing can be reasonably asked of you: that you be yourself.  Too often we reject our identity as children of God, unique and wonderfully made, and take on false identities that focus on what we do or what we have, causing us to have an identity crisis.  We can find ourselves by serving others for the sake of service rather than personal gain.

Most of us experience unhappiness when we wander away from ourselves by doing and saying things that contradict who we are and what we are here for.  Unhappiness is not something that happens to us as if we are poor little victims.  
Unhappiness is something we do to ourselves.  You can choose to be happy, and God wants you to be happy even more than you do yourself.  What is happiness?  It is not easily defined, but we all know it when we experience it.

It is important to know that pleasure and happiness are not synonymous.  Pleasure cannot be sustained beyond the experience producing it.  When you eat, you experience pleasure.  You stop eating, and the pleasure stops.  That is why we do not stop eating.  We are not hungry; we simply enjoy the pleasure that comes from eating.  Happiness is different.  Happiness can be sustained beyond the experience producing it. 

Take for example, exercising or working out.  Will you plant yourself in front of your TV with a huge bag of potato chips, or work out?  The choice is yours.  Watching TV and eating potato chips might give you some immediate pleasure, but will it last when you are done?  Exercising gives you a sense of satisfaction and well-being long after you are finished, happiness can be sustained beyond the activity producing the happiness.  Every moment of our life we choose between happiness and misery.

We yearn for happiness that can be sustained independently of substances—food, drink, drugs—and a happiness that can be sustained independently of circumstances—success, money, possessions, opportunities, weather and so on.  Happiness is an inside job and has little to do with substances, money, possessions, pleasure or circumstances.

The philosophy of happiness in our culture is flawed; it promotes the idea that if you go out and get what you want, then you will be happy.  The reason it does not work is because you simply never can get enough of what you do not really need.  You have to want the right things.

Happiness cannot be found by pursuing happiness, it will elude you at every turn.  
Happiness is not an end or even an experience.  Happiness is a by-product of right living.  My friend Tony says repeatedly to “Just do the next right thing!”  If the choice is between exercising and vegetating in front of the TV, just do the next right thing.  If the choice is between cheating on your wife or being faithful to her, just do the next right thing.  By doing the next right thing, we live on into the answers to the questions that we could not answer before, because it was not time to answer them.  Who knows what will happen a month from now?  Don’t make decisions today that are not called for until next week, next month or next year.  Nothing brings happiness like right living.

(Ed’s Note:  Abraham Lincoln said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Lincoln was right.  Happiness, just like misery, is a choice we make.)

Happiness is a lot like wealth and wisdom: Those who have it generally don’t need to talk about it, and those who are constantly talking about it usually don’t have it.

Something wonderful is about to happen.  People have an enormous capacity for good because we are created in the image of God, especially when their own survival is not threatened and our basic needs are being met.  I believe in our capacity for change and growth.  Every moment is another chance to turn it all around.

(Ed’s Note:  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, when we know what to do with it.”  Two thoughts:  1) People who are miserable complain a lot. When you blame others for your condition, you give up your ability to change.  2) People who are good at whining and complaining are seldom good at anything else.)

All success has its root in being able to capitalize on the moment, endure the moment, and draw from the moment what is to be learned, gained or achieved.  Why worry about the future and overlook the fact that how we deal with the present will determine what the future looks like.  If you do not know what the next right thing to do is, quiet yourself for a moment and go to that place deep within you.    

In each moment, do the next right thing.  You cannot think your way out or talk your way out of problems.  You acted your way into them, and you must act your way out of them.  By simply doing the right thing, you will move from confusion to clarity, from misunderstanding to insight, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, and discover your truest self, the unique person God designed you to be.

Lesson Three:  Put Character First

Character will affect the change we desire.  Character will affect your future more than any other single ingredient.  Character is not what someone says but what he or she actually does.     Our future is an external expression of our internal reality.

(Ed’s Note:  Mahatma Gandhi said “Keep your thoughts positive because thoughts become your words.  Keep your words positive because words become your behavior.  Keep your behavior positive because behavior becomes your habits.  Keep your habits positive because habits become your values.  Keep your values positive because values become your destiny.”  Gandhi absolutely knows what he is talking about.)

(Ed’s Note:  Just as we can learn from our mistakes, we can gain character from our disappointments.  Challenges do not build character, challenges reveal character.  How we react to disappointments determines our character.  Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% about how we react to it.  Attitude is critical to building character and success, guts and determination seal the deal.  You must make the right choices—do the next right thing—and take action.)

A person’s talent can blind us to what kind of person they really are.  Talent is genetic or God-given.  You are born with talents.  You either have them or you do not.  Talent may be obvious but it is still limited.  (Ed’s note: Nobody will ever run a 3-minute mile.)  It is important to note that while talent is limited, your ability to increase your character is unlimited.  Character is a gift you give to yourself, and it is one of the few things that can never be taken from you.

(Ed’s note:  Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.  Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.  Clearly, character and integrity are joined at the hip.)

The thing I truly and deeply respect is virtue.  There is simply nothing more attractive than virtue.  The cornerstone of character is virtue (behavior showing high moral standards).  Our culture has reduced all virtue to the universal virtue of niceness, which is no virtue at all.  The most obvious example of this is in modern parenting.  Many parents seem more interested in being a friend to their children than in being a parent.  High school teachers can shirk the responsibility entrusted to them in the area of discipline, merely to be popular with their students.  Trustworthiness is universally accepted as a litmus test of good character.

Rigorous honesty and love of truth in turn give birth to integrity.  Honesty means that we can be taken at our word and that what we say can be trusted.  Integrity means that we can be relied on to do what we say we will do.  Together, honesty and integrity make us worthy of trust—we become trustworthy.  If we are being dishonest with others, we are also being dishonest with ourselves.  The external reality is an expression of the internal reality:  We must lie to ourselves before we lie to anyone else.  And that is betrayal of self.  Being honest with ourselves is at the very core of integrity.  The other side of honesty and integrity is when we do not speak up when we should.  There is no personal integrity without honesty, and there is no enduring happiness without personal integrity.  To attain real virtue requires constant dedication to the truth. 

The enemy of character is ego.  The true self speaks for character, and the false self speaks for ego.  The authentic self finds its identity in all things that are good, true, beautiful and noble, while our personal ego is constantly making demands on insecurity and self-aggrandizement.  It is this conflict between character and ego which surrounds the whole human drama.

All great music, movies and stories are centered on this struggle.  When we are living from an ego-centered perspective, everything happens in relation to us.  Ego wants you to always be the center of attention.

The authentic self is genuinely interested in other people, while the ego is interested only in what other people can do for it.  We are not the center of the universe, and when we try to place ourselves there, we set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration.

Our lives genuinely improve only when we grow in virtue.  Any other change is simply cosmetic.  If we truly wish to grow in virtue, we must wean ourselves off instant gratification.  Growing in virtue requires real and constant effort.

Pick a virtue and ask God to show you ways to develop that virtue in yourself.  When you encounter someone in need, be generous with your time, talents or treasure.  In each moment, just do the next right thing and your life will begin to flood with joy.  There are no personal acts.  Everything we do affects the people around us.

Just because you do something in the privacy of your home, behind closed doors, with no one else involved and no one else to witness the act, does not mean that that act does not affect other people.  Every human act affects the future of humanity.  Everything God created in the universe and beyond is connected.

Putting character first means that we will allow our thoughts, decisions, actions and relationships to become subordinate to this quest to become and remain authentic.  This is only possible of course with the help of God’s grace.  Alone we can do nothing.  But with God and in God, so much is possible that we have not even begun to imagine.

Lesson Four:  Find What You Love to Do and Do It

You only have so much time during your work life.  Thoreau said most men and women lead lives of quiet desperation.  Most people hate their job.  They keep doing it to support their family, or they think chasing money, power, position or fame will give them satisfaction and happiness.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  People do not want just a job, they want meaningful work.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best prize life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

We know that working hard and happiness are linked.  Work is not a punishment.  You do not have to do anything.  Nobody can make you do anything.  We choose to go to work.  The primary meaning, purpose and value of work is that when we work hard and well, when we pay attention to the details of our work, we develop character and virtue.  When we work, we gain the opportunity to partner with God.  When work is approached in the right way and with the right frame of mind, it helps us to become more perfectly ourselves.

More than 2,350 years ago, Aristotle pointed out that happiness resides in activity, both mental and physical, and not idleness.  We tend to confuse happiness with mere relaxation and being entertained.  All honest work has an intrinsic value.  Saint Augustine said “Pray as though everything depended on God.  Work as though everything depended on you.”  Pray for God’s help, and then find your passion and get busy working. 

Do not tell people you do not know what you want to do when you grow up.  You are already grown.  Ask “Who is God inviting me to become?”

Change from what do I want to what does God want.  We are not asking, what does God want us to do; we are asking, who does God want us to become.  Make a list of all the things you are passionate about and ask God to guide you to your passion.  Try sitting in an empty room alone and listening quietly, you may be surprised what thoughts come to you. 

Lesson Five:  Live What Your Believe

We all believe in something.  An atheist believes that there is no God.  An agnostic believes that he does not know if there is a God.  Christians believe there is a God.

(Ed’s note:  Christians believe in the Holy Trinity:  God, the creator of creation.  Jesus, the Christ, God’s only Son and our Redeemer and Savior by His death on the cross and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.  As Saint Patrick says, “We believe in the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.”)

People are not born with beliefs and opinions; these are the result of education and experience.  Belief is something that evolves in our lives.  We all have the capacity to believe, and what we believe affects the way we live our lives.  There is no faster way to create enduring unhappiness than to act against our beliefs.  The great challenge is to work out what we believe. 

When it comes to everyday dilemmas, we all have a guide that is never wrong and often ignored.  The voice of the authentic self calls to us ceaselessly form within.  Traditionally it has been called the voice of conscience.  Most of the time we seek counsel because we lack the courage to do what we know we ought to do.  It was Socrates’ counsel that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Let us resolve to take some time each day to withdraw from the crazy, noisy, busy world into the sanctuary of the classroom of silence to work out who we are, what we believe, and what we are here for.

What we long for is the unity of life, one living, breathing, ordered life.  It is important to remember that happiness is not achieved by the pursuit of happiness but rather the result of right living.  Unity of life is established one decision at a time.  Consciousness and choice are what we must grapple with if we are to find wholeness.  They are the source of the division and the unity, the source of our brokenness and our healing.  Pray:  “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your  truth . . . ”  The more complex our lives become, the more we need to accede to the gentle voice within.

Lesson Six:  Be Disciplined

Our insatiable appetite for instant gratification tends to lead us farther and farther away from character, virtue, integrity, wholeness, and our authentic self.  Coupled with our untamed affinity with instant gratification is our mistaken notion that freedom is the right or ability to do whatever we want.  Do we really believe that a life without structure or discipline will yield the happiness we desire?  I think not.  Every area of our life—physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, professional and financial—benefits from self-discipline.

Advertising would have us believe that all our wants for food and diet, exercise, money and relationships will give us happiness.  The common lie in all these programs is that you can be happy without discipline.

Saint Paul writes that “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Self-control is a gift we give to ourselves and is the very essence of discipline.  We are not born with discipline; discipline is acquired.  We acquire discipline by practicing discipline.  Self-control is always accompanied by self-awareness.  As difficult as it may be, we must bring our temper, appetites and impulses under control by exercising discipline, knowing that the more discipline we develop the closer we will come to God’s plan for our life. 

One way to help control your temper, appetites and impulses is by fasting.  Our role model is, of course, Jesus.  Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry.  He was tempted by the devil and exemplified self-control.

Fasting does not have to involve food.  You can fast from shopping, criticizing yourself and others, complaining and procrastination.  You can fast from anything that causes you to become a slave of your temper, appetites or impulses.  Getting better is a process, not a single action.           To ultimately give yourself to others in service, you must first possess yourself.  When you are in control of yourself, you can teach others to do the same.    

Lesson Seven:  Simplify

Clutter, congestion and confusion have become an accepted part of most people’s everyday experience in life, but it does not need to be that way.  We have chosen and created the clutter and congestion.  It needs to stop.  We need to simplify, simplify, simplify.  Simplicity is the way to clarity.  We complicate our lives for 4 main reasons:  1)  We don’t know what we really want, 2)  We don’t have a clear sense of the purpose of our lives,  3)  We are scared of missing out on something, and  4)  We want to be distracted from the real challenges of the inner life.

Get clear about who you are and who you are not, about what you do and what you don’t do.  Again, heal yourself by getting in control of yourself.  Get discipline and set and keep standards of behavior.  Clarity cannot be obtained in the noisy, busy world.  Life is a series of choices.  To make great choices, you must first become clear about why you are making them.  Allow simplicity to direct our life and permit a measure of silence and solitude to have their proper place in the course of your daily activities.

The greatest lesson in simplifying your life is to learn to say “no”.  Being perfectly yourself means doing only the things that are intended for you to do. 

Money has a way of clouding our judgment.  The most devastating poverty after lack of adequate food, water and shelter is the lack of opportunity.  The great appeal of money is that it can buy opportunities.  Money complicates our lives because once we have it, we feel we must possess it.  After the money come the things—the stuff we buy because we just have to have it, the stuff we buy because everyone else has one, the stuff we buy because we were having a bad day, and the stuff we buy because we feel like rewarding ourselves.  The thing about possessions is that they rent space in our minds.  They lull us into a false sense of happiness that is not there.  We could all enjoy things without having to own them, like enjoying a sunrise or sunset, smelling flowers, swimming, bicycling, hiking in the woods, or watching nature unfold before us. 

Simplicity is one of the enduring principles of happiness.

Lesson Eight:  Focus on What You Are Here to Give

It is the responsibility of each of us individually to do whatever is necessary to feel good about one’s self.  Take time for quiet moments alone in silence.  It is in this audience of one that we must convince ourselves that we are using our life in a worthy way.  You have to look yourself in the eye when you gaze into the mirror and really like yourself.  Self-esteem is essential to discovering God’s dream for our lives and essential if we are to establish enduring happiness.   

Stage one in life is survival.  Stage two is independence.  Most people slide by stage three right into Stage four—effectiveness and thriving.  Because they miss stage three, they end up living a life of quiet desperation.  Stage three is mission.  What is our mission in life?  Why are you here?

These are difficult questions for most people of recognize and answer.  That said, people who have a sense of mission in their lives are filled with a joy that is independent of substance and circumstances.  Only a handful of people are called to great missions in their life.  Most of us are called to missions more manageable in the context of our daily lives.  That is the thing about a mission.  You do not choose a mission; you are sent on a mission.

This is precisely the reason why so many explanations of the difficult stages of human development skip straight over the mission stage.  It poses a problem in a society that idolizes self-determination.  God calls us to a mission.  This is important because having a mission and spirituality are inseparably linked.  I do not know of anybody who is experiencing enduring happiness who does not have some sense of mission in his or her life. 

The person with the greatest sense of mission in all of history was Jesus Christ.  He was perfectly clear about who he was, what he was here for, what mattered most, what mattered least, what he was about, and the mission that every event and conversation was building toward.  This astounding clarity and sense of mission was the result of his relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  The closer we get to God, the clearer our own sense of mission becomes.

What is your mission in life?  This is a question you must answer for yourself.  Ultimately, your mission will be driven by the needs of others and the needs of the world.  See Matthew 20:28—The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.  Our greatest strength as human beings is our ability to make a difference in the lives of other people, and yet it is the most unemployed of all human abilities.  Francis of Assisi encouraged his listeners in this way:  “First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and before long you will find yourself doing the impossible.”

By shifting our focus from what we can get to what we can give, we open ourselves up to a life of service.  Jesus placed an enormous value on service.  He rejected all the ways the world measures greatness—fame, fortune, power, position, achievement, intellect, possessions and status.  Jesus measures greatness by service to others.

(Ed’s note:  Fear and fatigue block the mind.  Confront both and courage and confidence will flow into you.)

Lesson Nine:  Patiently Seek the Good in Everyone and Everything

Worry is the final obstacle to enduring happiness.  We worry because we want to be in control of the situation or circumstance, but worry is a self-deception.  Worry is often born from our unwillingness to admit that we are powerless over a certain situation or circumstance.  We must each find a way to maintain our inner peace even in these times.  Most things that I get worked up about are of absolutely no consequence.  We tend to be afraid because we do not know how things are going to work out, but things are going to work out, one way or another.   

(Ed’s note:  Shaolin Kung Fu Philosophy helps me here.  One of its tenants is:  It has all happened before.  Everyone and no one has been here before, and no matter how obscure it may seem to you, “the universe is . . .  unfolding as it should”, or more precisely, as it cannot help but do.  It is absolutely guaranteed that whatever the result becomes, it will be driven by a choice by someone.

We are exactly where we are in life because of the choices we have made.  Another tenant is:  Stop for charity, no matter what the cost, and there will be benefit instead of cost.  It does not matter for whom.)

Problems are opportunities to build character.  We can endure just about anything as long as we see ourselves moving toward a worthy purpose.  Problems can teach us lessons when we are willing to learn.

(Ed’s note:  When all else fails, remember this serenity prayer by American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”)

God speaks to us all in the silence.  Only in the classroom of silence can we gain the calm and clarity that allow us to know when to wait patiently and when to push forward impatiently, when to plan diligently and when to live spontaneously.  Visit the quiet of your own heart in silence alone without interruption and listen. 

We live in an amazing and wonderful world.  Those who believe that good things are going to happen to them are generally happier than those who do not.  If we do not go seeking the good, then we will be constantly looking for what is wrong in everyone and everything.

(Ed’s note:  Be a good finder, not a bad finder.  God is good, not bad.  He wants you to see the good in others.  Nothing worth accomplishing comes easy, yet the reward is great when we serve others.)

A final note by Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “That which we persist in doing becomes easier—not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”

Copyright © 2020 Ed Bagley

I think it is true: God gives men 4 crucial gifts: The Gift of Life, The Gift of Choice, The Gift of Faith and The Gift of Women.

The Holy Trinity is really three persons in one—God the Father, the Creator of Creation as we know it; God the Son, Jesus, who by being crucified on the cross becomes our redeemer by canceling out our original sin passed down from Adam and also becomes  our savior by arising from the dead so that we might be heirs to eternal life in heaven; and the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life as we know it and live it on Planet Earth.

Here is why we are the benefactors of God’s 4 crucial gifts:

The Gift of Life

Without the Gift of Life we would not exist. We exist through the grace of God, our Creator.  

Following is one example of why God remains relevant in today’s world:

Jesus said to His apostle Thomas (the “Doubting Thomas” as he would become known):

“You have seen me and now you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen me, yet still believe.”

Lesson: The knowledge of belief is a lifesaving gift. We are the only animal on Planet Earth who knows we will eventually die. When we die, we will lose our consciousness and experience either nothingness, or a life with our Father in heaven, even though we do not now know exactly what that afterlife will be.

Which is the better choice?

Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” He was not kidding. To be blunt, He said it is either my way or no way.

We know that all good things come to an end, and nothing stays the same.

The Holy Bible teaches us that no one can come to the Holy Father except through Jesus, and that while doing good works is a Christian practice that is highly valued, we will ultimately be saved by the grace of God, and not by our good works in helping others.

The apostle Mark tells us that Jesus said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” 

What is important about this message from Jesus is that you believe in Him and His word. The fact that you are also baptized is an important act of saying that you believe in God’s word, you are entering a new life with Jesus, and you are washed clean of the past and your sins.

Baptism for an adult simply means that your heart, not your mind, is changed by a leap of faith in Jesus; that is, you have found a better, more fulfilling way to live life here on Earth, God’s place for us to live when we are granted the gift of life through the Holy

Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life.

No specific act of doing good, including baptism, is necessary for you to be saved. If you were a believer and practicing your belief according to God’s plan for your life, you would still be saved, even if you were not aware that baptism, according to some believers, is a necessary condition to be saved. You will be saved by your belief, not your baptism.

That said, baptism will give you additional protection as a Christian because it is an act of faith and belief in God’s word. In the Catholic faith, baptism is the first of seven sacraments that are vital to the Catholic faith.

Many Christians believe that being baptized opens you up to receiving the Holy Spirit, and the protection of God’s angels, who have been messengers of His holy word. 

God is really 3 persons in 1:

1) God, who created the universe and every good thing in it.

2) Jesus, who suffered an excruciating death on the cross to forgive our sins (the times when we have strayed from God’s plan for our lives), thus becoming our redeemer; and then arose from the dead (thereby conquering death on Earth), thus becoming our savior so that we might spend our continued life with God the Father in heaven.

3) and the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life on Earth, and the inspiration for every good deed that happens during our existence on Earth, including a sense of compassion, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, approval and, most important, love for one another.

The Gift of Choice

Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” . . . “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (for example, if you do not want to be killed, then do not kill others).

This is simply said but difficult for us to achieve completely because of the devil, who appeals to our baser wants and desires in being human, including greed, envy, lust, lying, cheating, stealing, power, influence, pride, hatefulness, and gluttony.

The devil is any evil thing that prevents us from being the person God wants us to be, knowing that if we believe in God and follow Him, our life will be better for our belief and behavior. The devil is out to destroy our sense of goodness, and the spirit of God is always present to remind us that our spirit of goodness will always remain the better choice for our well-being.

We exercise our gift of choice when we sin simply because we are foolish. We foolishly think sinning gives us pleasure and perhaps a sense of satisfaction when, in fact, it ultimately gives us nothing but heartache and unrest.

We think taking another drink (as an alcoholic), taking another drug (as a drug addict), consciously lying, cheating and stealing (to increase our own wealth and material possessions at the expense of others), or giving into concupiscence (having an affair with our fellow worker or casual acquaintance for the thrill of the excitement, attention and ego boost) will give us more happiness and pleasure when, in fact, it does just the opposite—we yearn for more of what we should not have or do, then desire more, and are never satisfied.

There might be some sense of satisfaction but there can be no real happiness and peace of mind when we sin. All sin leaves us with is the desire for more of the wrong tonic—guilt, shame, uneasiness, or all three.

We want to do better, but we do not choose to do better because sacrifice, discipline, and loyalty seem even more difficult than sinning.

The choice between doing good and evil is not a concept, it is a real life choice we face every day and every moment of our lives. Every choice in life that we make has a consequence, and some consequences are more severe to our survival than others.

That is why sinning becomes such a lure; some of our sins do not provide us with immediate feedback on the long-term consequences of our actions (it takes very little time to become an alcoholic, a drug addict, or an adulterer).

The beauty of the gift of choice is that when we do things that will destroy us, we always have—because of our gift of free will—the opportunity to change our course of action by making a better choice. And better choices will produce better consequences.

When we sin and do not believe in Jesus, it is never too late to accept God the Farther, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit into our lives, and benefit from the blessings, mercy and grace that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit can bring us.

Lesson: If you hear his voice today, harden not your heart. When in doubt, follow your heart, not your mind.

In the Book of Proverbs, we read that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

It is our heart that rules our final destiny, not our mind. Our mind is the devil’s playground, our heart is God’s place of rebirth and redemption, wherein goodness always remains an option through our forgiveness by the grace of God.

Lesson: God will reward our good choices and forgive our bad ones. Only the devil will encourage our bad choices; God will never do so because He is incapable of sin.

The more you do what God wants, the less the devil will influence your life, but you must continually choose to do the right thing with the right motives for the right reasons to get the right results.

 Lesson: Trust in the Lord in all things and lean not unto your own understanding (your way of thinking).

The Gift of Faith

When everyone has abandoned us, and there is no hope that our life will get any better anytime soon, we can always count of this reality: God is with us and will never abandon us in our hour of need. We just need faith in our choice to follow God’s plan for our life.

Our gift of faith is joined at the hip by our longing for hope. Hope that there is something positive in our future that causes us to hang onto the precious gift of life. When a person loses all sense of hope they are a candidate for suicide to end it all.

We can solve our problems, loneliness and discouragement by using the talents He has given us. We must pray like it depends upon God, but act like it depends on us. God gives the birds food to eat, but He does not put it in their nest—they must work by going out and finding it, and so it is with us. The more effort we make doing the right things with right motives, the more God will recognize and reward our efforts.

Some people think that because God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit can do anything, they should do everything. Some common examples of apparent injustice happening to helpless people include a child dying of an incurable disease, people being killed by a natural disaster, or someone drinking and driving and killing an entire family during a head-on collision.

These are all tragic events that are part of our everyday life. We wish these events were not part of our everyday life, but they are, and we feel helpless and inadequate in preventing them. The prevalent thought is: How can a God of justice and mercy allow this to happen?

The answer is as complex as the triune God itself, the trinity of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In brief, if God were to prevent every tragedy on Planet Earth from happening, He would have to take away our free will, destroying our ability to act (make conscious choices) in our own self best-interest.

The problem is, without the ability to accept or reject God by using our free will, we would have no way to connect with God after death here on Earth without our conscious choice to accept and believe in Him while we are still alive.

Another consideration lies in the oneness of goodness. If we never experienced both good and evil, we would not be able to distinguish the difference between the two behaviors.

We can experience unwanted tragedy and suffer from our bad decisions and mistakes in judgment. We can also learn from our mistakes, and when doing wrong, make a different, better choice to do the right thing with right thinking and right motives the next time.

We should never assign blame for our circumstances because, when we blame others, we give up our power to change. And if we lack the will for change, there is no one who can show us the way. Not even Jesus Christ. When you turn your back on Jesus, He turns His back on you.

It is important to appreciate that while we will never be perfect (we will sin because it is in our nature), we can learn from our mistakes.

When we encounter adversity and do not what to do or say, prayer provides as answer to fill the vacuum of doubt, fear and uncertainty. There is tremendous power in prayer.

Even in the best of times, we could and should pray in thankfulness for power and glory of the triune God in our life.

It is also important to appreciate that adversity does not build character. Just as we can learn from our mistakes, we can gain character from our disappointments. It is our response to disappointment that builds character. We cannot always prevent what happens to us, but we can always control our attitude and response to what happens to us in everyday life.

Fear and fatigue block the mind. Confront both, and courage and confidence will flow into us. Understand that when stability becomes a habit, maturity and clarity follow. Do not be confused by the devil.

God gives us the opportunity to live our life on a higher plain by exercising our ability to

choose wisely. This not only pleases God but helps us better prepare for our life after death if, by God’s grace, we are able to join Him with His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit in heaven. In heaven we will not have to worry about evil. We may well be helping people avoid evil by watching over them from afar.

We should continually praise and thank God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for their blessings, and most certainly for their mercy and grace in our present life.

The Gift of Women

God recognized man’s loneliness and created women to help him along his way. The union of man and woman allows for the creation of new life, a most precious gift indeed.

If man only had himself he would get bored and tired in a hurry. Women were made in part to listen to man’s greatest accomplishments, worst failures and absolute foolishness.

Women are the equal, if not superior of men, in many good traits that matter in the union of relationships involving both men and women–compassion, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, approval and, most important, love for one another to name just a few.

Some men say they cannot live with women or without women. That is pure nonsense. If men did not have women in their life, Adam would have died in the Garden of Eden alone and life as we know would have stopped.

It is women, with the help of men, who conceive and bear the children who continue human existence on earth. We will all die eventually and if we do not see the generation coming behind us, life would not be as joyful, despite the challenges, as we carry on to our eventual destiny.

While it may be difficult for some men to admit, women can complete men, meaning that a man is always better off with a woman in his life. It is possible for men to complete women. The union of a man and a woman can make both better as a unit operating together rather than apart.

There are other gifts in our life, including God-given talent, intelligence and creativeness to mention three, but without a proper appreciation and understanding of first four great gifts, the rest would be window dressing. We create and develop every other gift in life because of the first four.

If you have read this far, you have a lot of stick-to-itiveness and patience. Whatever you think of one man’s opinion and belief, remember that it is one man’s opinion of the crucial importance of life—there are others with just as strong or greater beliefs.

Copyright © 2020 by Ed Bagley

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for All the Sinners
in Purgatory
So that They Might,
By the Grace of Your Son,
Jesus, the Christ,
Someday Enter Heaven.
Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Ed Bagley

The Thought for Wednesday, December 25, 2013 (Christmas Day) Comes from The Holy Bible, King James Version, Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 10-14:

On Christianity: And the angel said unto (the shepherds), “Fear not, for behold I bring to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace (and) good will toward men.”

The Thought for Tuesday, December 24, 2013 (Christmas Eve) Comes from Ed Bagley:

On Christianity: Pause and be thankful tonight for all of the joys and blessings in your life. Bow down and realize your place in the universe. You did not create the environment in which you live, you merely occupy space; therefore, whatever good you are able to do, do it now as a privilege with an open heart and in loving kindness. Many others are here on Earth that will never even sniff your good fortune. (Google the author to learn more.

The Thought for Monday, December 23, 2013 Comes from the Holy Bible, King James Version, Proverbs, Chapter 20, Verse 7:

On Christianity: The just man walketh (walks upright) in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.

The Thought for Sunday, December 22, 2013 Comes from The Holy Bible, King James Version, Galatians, Chapter 3, Verses 28-29:

On Christianity: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Thought for Saturday, December 21, 2013 Comes from Benjamin Franklin:

On Christianity: He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world. (Google the author to learn more.)

 

(Ed’s Note: Blessed Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) was not yet recognized as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church at the time this article was originally published. She was in the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization, and has since become Saint Teresa of Calcutta, being Canonized in 2016 by Pope Francis in the Vatican City at Saint Peter’s Square. Teresa’s prayers will continue their powerful message for Roman Catholic believers throughout history. Saint Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 and by 2012 her Religious Order had more than 4,500 nuns in 133 countries. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, the poorest of the poor and among the most forgotten people on the face of the Earth. The Missionaries of Charity allows these people to die with dignity while being provided care.)

Blessed Teresa’s Prayer

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

Another Prayer of Saint Teresa of Calcutta:

Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel
before You, since every perfect gift
must come from You.

I pray: Give skill to my hands, clear
vision to my mind, kindness and
meekness to my heart.

Give me singleness of purpose,
strength to lift up a part of the burden
of my suffering fellow men and a
true realization of the privilege
that is mine.

Take from my heart all guile and
worldliness that, with the simple faith
of a child, I may rely on You. Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Ed Bagley

I recently came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson in my reading:

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore.”

No wonder Ralph was a philosopher as well as a great writer.

His statement stunned me. Probably because there are atheists and scientists around whom believe that planet Earth was some accidental cosmic happening a very long time ago.

They would not agree with folks like me who believe that a greater compassionate and giving power caused me to be here, and that my life does have purpose and meaning even if others do not agree.

Seriously, imagine for a moment that we have never seen stars and then suddenly they appear like magic. Would we be fearful? Thankful? Or perhaps just terribly confused about how this could suddenly happen given our technological advances and egos to match.

I tend to think that God has nothing to prove, and that the atheists and scientists have a lot to prove.

Some folks think I am in the same gene pool as monkeys and many other species that have drawn breath on planet Earth. I seriously doubt this and can find no true science to support the idea.

There are examples regarding this matter which demonstrate that science disproves science more than it confirms it.

For example, despite decades of worshipping at the alter of Darwinism (the theory of evolution), Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe released his book titled Darwin’s Black Box in 1996 that used discoveries in microbiology to refute Darwinism on Darwin’s own terms.

Unfortunately, Darwin knew nothing in his day of DNA and the vastly complex systems studied by molecular biologists, such as the information processing, storage and retrieval in DNA.

Francis Crick, winner of the Nobel Prize for his co-discovery of DNA, also realized that the spontaneous evolution of life could not be reconciled with the facts. He said, “The probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd.”

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I feel little need to argue whatever point Darwinism tries to make. If I did evolve from a monkey I would hardly claim the monkey as a family member. As I see it, a greater power created us both, not in a fit of evolutionary brilliance, but separately at the same time.

While I am not certain about a lot of things (I have lived too long and understand too little; I knew a whole lot more when I was much younger), I am certain that the monkey did not create me and I certainly did not create the monkey. Darwin created neither of us, and made a lot of false assumptions that pale in the light of today’s science.

But let us address the more interesting thought of Emerson’s imagination.

If I had never seen a star in the sky and suddenly the sky was filled with brightly shining stars, I would be joyful and overwhelmed, thinking what a phenomenal gift has arrived. I get the same feeling watching the waves crash against the shoreline at the ocean, and watching the sunlight dance through the leaves of trees in the forest.

I wonder if a tree thinks it evolved from a monkey. I bet the tree would be thankful to know it was part of a greater creation than the monkey.

A mind once stretched by a new idea moves beyond its old constraints, never returning to its former, limited dimensions. It is called “imagination” and Ralph Waldo had some. Probably a lot, compared to some heavy thinkers like Darwin.

As a pre-teenager growing up in Michigan I remember how settled and peaceful it felt on a hot summer night to lay down on the lush grass and look up at the sky and watch the stars with my friends. We would alternately talk and look up at the stars in silence. Sometimes 5 minutes of silence.

It was as if a greater power could have been looking down, pleased that his creation was so pleasing to such an important part of his creation. Yes, I felt valued and safe. It was as if I knew that someday my star would shine brightly.

I find no peace in reading Darwin’s theory. I find much peace in just gazing at the heavens, which pose no questions to trouble my gentle soul. I find more order in my “universe” than in Darwin’s theories. Darwin can find solace in his theories; I will look to the stars for mine.

Sid Miller Wants to Know: What are you voting for?

 

That moment when someone says, “I can’t believe you would vote for Trump”

I simply reply “I’m not voting for Trump.”

I’m voting for the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech.

I’m voting for the Second Amendment and my right to defend my life and my family.

I’m voting for the next Supreme Court Justice(s) to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’m voting for the continued growth of my retirement investments and the stock market.

I’m voting for an end to America’s involvement in foreign conflicts.

I’m voting for the Electoral College & the Republic we live in.

I’m voting for the Police to be respected once again and to ensure Law & Order.

I’m voting for the continued appointment of Federal Judges who respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’m voting for our jobs to remain in America and not be outsourced all over again to China, Mexico and other foreign countries.

I’m voting for secure borders and legal immigration.

I’m voting for the Military & the Veterans who fought for this Country to give the American people their freedoms.

I’m voting for the unborn babies that have a right to live.

I’m voting for continued peace progress in the Middle East.

I’m voting to fight against human/child trafficking.

I’m voting for Freedom of Religion.

I’m voting for the American Flag that is disrespected by the “mob.”

I’m voting for the right to speak my opinion & not be censored.

I’m not just voting for one person, I’m voting for the future of my Country.

I’m voting for my children and my grandchildren to ensure their freedoms and their future.

What are you voting for?

About the Source: Sid Miller is the Commissioner of Agriculture in the Great State of Texas.

(Ed’s Note: The current 2020 Presidential Election has been reduced to a choice between our “constitutional republic” form of government and creeping into a “socialist” form of government in America. We should not allow any political party in America to bring advancing socialism—example: The Green New Deal—under the guise of improving our constitutional republic. Every form of socialism as a government in history has failed to advance the welfare of the citizens therein. Smart people know that socialism does not secure our rights as citizens but rather reduces our personal rights to the point where we have none and ultimately end up as a dictatorship.)

Financial Thoughts
on Investing
by Warren Buffett

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffett’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)