December 14, 2010

Book Review

Putting God Back in the Holidays by Bill and Penny Thrasher

This is a very good book about ways to celebrate pretty much every major holiday in the United States with a God centered focus.

Most chapters are laid out in a similar manner. Bill writes about the historical and theological aspects of the holiday, then Penny adds her thoughts as a wife and mother. Finally, most chapters offer practical suggestions to help you celebrate or at least stimulate your thinking about the holiday.

Overall, the book is an excellent source for valuable and practical ways to put God back into your holiday celebrations. This is a book that I will be keeping at hand on my "reference" shelf.

December 02, 2010

Book Review

True Faced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, John Lynch

The theme of this book is the idea of living your life as yourself, just as God made you. Many people put on a mask to try and look good and try to please God with their behavior. In reality, God simply wants us to be what He made us to be and to trust Him with our lives.

One of the interesting ideas I picked up was about the way we view other Christians. Instead of looking at others and criticizing them for their (sinful) ways, look at them as an imperfect believer just like yourself.

Overall, this is a good book. However, I found myself loosing interest in some of the detailed areas. At the end of each chapter is a "Did you discover" section, which summarizes the main points of the chapter. I believe most people can simply read the summary and get the main idea of the chapter.

December 01, 2010

Schick Hydro 5

My next adventure in shaving involved a Schick Hydro 5 razor. I purchased this razor which included two blades on sale for about $1.00. I was eager to compare this razor with Gillette's 5 blade system.

After the first shave I knew right away that this razor was not as good as Gillette's. The shave was close in most areas. However, I found the head of the razor to be too large to get close in some places. After about 2 weeks the razor was no longer cutting close and it did indeed cut me a few times. There is also this clicking noise that the head makes when it is lifted from your face. I found it to be very annoying after a while.

For the second month of testing I decided to shave every other day after the initial two week period. I found that the razor did a little better with the longer stubble, but it didn't pass my test.

The price of the replacement blades is about $2.75 a piece. This is slightly cheaper than Gillette's blades, but not as good either.

Because of the price and the inability to comfortably shave for a month I will give this razor a 60% rating.

The last razor system I currently have is the Mach 3 by Gillette.

November 26, 2010

Book Review

Reinventing Paul by John Gager

The author's goal of this books is to challenge the assumption of the traditional view of Paul and present a new view(s). There are 5 chapters in this book:
  • The Traditional View of Paul
  • New Views of Paul
  • The Letter to the Galatians
  • The Letter to the Romans
  • Loose Ends
In my opinion, the author makes some serious errors right from the beginning. First, it seems he is operating on the assumption that Paul wrote Galatians and Romans. While it is true that Paul is the human author, we must remember that the words are inspired by the Holy Spirit. So it isn't really Paul writing what he thinks, rather it is God telling us what He wants us to know about the Jews and the Gentiles and salvation.

Second, the author focuses on and compares Galatians and Romans. When trying to understand the meaning of a particular portion of Scripture you must compare it with all other Scripture of the same topic. The author does not do this, rather limits his use of Scripture to attempt to prove what he thinks and wants to accomplish with his book.

It seemed to me the real purpose of this book was to simply publish something. Often times academic institutions strongly encourage the faculty to produce something. It looks as though this book is an example of that mentality.

Much of the book is simply quoting what other people have already wrote. In fact, there are over 400 footnotes that take up over thirty pages in the back.

Overall, in my opinion, this book is totally worthless and filled with nonsensical ideas. To give an example, Gager says of himself on page 151 that he is "a non-believing 'Christian'". I am not sure what that means, but I am certain he will figure out what it means someday.

Skip this book!

November 23, 2010

Book Review

Can America Survive? by John Hagee

This book is separated into 4 parts:
  • A Nuclear Iran
  • The Fall of America
  • The Beginning of the End
  • The Final Days
Part one deals with Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. The author says Iran will use them against the United States as well as other nations. The current political diplomacy needs to stop because it has allowed Iran to simply stall and build their arsenal.

In part two, the author looks at several problems with America. He believes a bomb will be used to wipe out our electrical system for months or years. He then talks about the world rejecting the dollar and the United States rejecting Israel's plea for help. Finally, he believes Christianity will become a crime in the United States.

The last two parts of the book are a little more focused on what the bible has to say about the return of Christ and the end of life as we know it on earth.

I am not sure of the purpose of this book. I would guess that it was wrote to simply get people (Americans) thinking about these topics. The author goes into a lot of detail about Iran, which I do question his "expertise" on Iran. However, he also goes into a lot of financial and economic detail about the United States, which I believe he has his facts correct for the most part.

I also question the title of the book, Can America Survive?. The ultimate answer of course is no, but as far as Christians are concerned it won't really matter since they will all be taken to be with Christ right before the tribulation.

The subtitle is also a little misleading, maybe it is just a marketing gimmick, 10 prophetic signs that we are the terminal generation. The 10 signs are given only in chapter 9 and are things like: oil, knowledge, television, and deception.

Overall, this book was interesting and easy to read but was otherwise unimpressive. Like I wrote earlier, I am not sure what the point of the book really is. What is the motive of the author: to get people thinking, to lead people to Christ, or to simply get his name out there and sell books about a provocative hot button issue?

While there is nothing really wrong with this book, if you have read the bible and are familiar with Revelation then you can probably skip this book. If you are not familiar with the bible then go read it first.

November 19, 2010

Book Review

Serenity - a companion for the twelve step program (NKJV Bible)

Serenity is a bible for those in the twelve step recovery program. This is a red letter New King James Version with the entire New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.

The first eighty pages explain the twelve step program. Scattered throughout the bible are examples and scriptural support for each of the twelve steps.

I believe the bible is an excellent book to live by, but especially for those struggling with an addiction. While I also believe the NKJV is an excellent translation, I think there are other translations, like the ESV for example, that maintain biblical accuracy, yet are a little easier to read and understand, especially for someone struggling with an addiction.

Overall, I would recommend this bible to anyone struggling with addictions or learning about the twelve step program.

October 28, 2010

Book Review

The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager

The intention of this book is to give the reader secrets about living happily below your means. The author starts by giving the reader 16 attitudes that cheapskates have. Here are a few examples:
  • cheapskates don't keep up with the Joneses
  • cheapskates value time more than money
  • cheapskates know and buy value in products
  • cheapskates know the difference between needs and wants
  • cheapskates avoid debt
The author then goes on giving some stories and examples of money saving cheapskate ideas in the rest of the book. Some of the ideas are simply bizarre like: not wearing underwear during the summer to saving ear wax to polish your car. No thanks.

Other ideas and examples are potentially dangerous and unhealthy like going through other peoples garbage to look for anything usable or eating from other people's leftover plates in restaurants to avoid purchasing appetizers.

Most of the tips though are already common knowledge:
  • live at home for college
  • go to a community college
  • buy a used car and pay cash for it
  • go to the library for books
  • shop around for the best prices
  • turn down your hot water heater
  • wash clothes in cold water
  • use public parks for entertainment
Overall, this book is absolutely worthless and is a waste of time. There was not one piece of good or new secret in this book. The book wasn't even a good read. This is one book you can safely skip.

October 26, 2010

Book Review

An Angel's Story by Max Lucado

This is a fictional account of the birth of Christ. Lucado tells the story of Christ's birth through the eyes of the angel Gabriel. This is a quick easy read and is a good story to read to children.

Overall, Lucado writes a very interesting story. The goal is not to embellish or make the bible more interesting or exciting. Of course, like any good story many parts are true to the word of God. However, Lucado makes his point of the book clear in the afterward section.

"Whether or not you like the fiction is insignificant. But whether or not you see the truth is essential." The truth is that God cares for His children. That's the point of this book and that is the point of God's word.

October 21, 2010

Book Review

Traveling Light by Max Lucado

This book is an interesting look at the twenty-third Psalm. The object is to show the reader how to release their burdens based upon Psalm 23.

Some of the burdens addressed are:
  • Self reliance
  • Discontentment
  • Weariness
  • Worry
  • Hopelessness
  • Guild
  • Arrogance
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Shame
The author takes each verse of Psalm 23 and shows how David writes about his life and his burdens and how he knew that God was always and is always there for him. The same applies to us today as well.

In each chapter Lucado always has a story illustrating the concept. Of course, he uses his vivid and descriptive writing style to make his point. He also pulls over examples from Scripture as well.

Overall, I recommend reading this book simple for its unique view and explanation of Psalm 23. However, if you are struggling with the burdens mentioned then you should find this book extremely helpful in letting go and trusting your life to God.

October 19, 2010

Election 2010 - Update

In my last post, I was unable to make really any recommendations because all of the candidates are no good for Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, I received information from the Action Committee for Rural Electrification (this is the political group for our energy supplier, REA).

They too could not make a recommendation for:
US Senate
US Representative

But they did also recommended Dave Reed.

I will say it again, Pennsylvania is in trouble!

October 14, 2010

Election 2010

Here is the list of candidates for the 2010 Election in November.

US Senator
Joe Sestak or Pat Toomey

Dan Onorato or Tom Corbett

12th District Rep
Mark Critz or Tim Burn

Local Rep 62nd District
Dave Reed

The only candidate I can recommend is Dave Reed.

I have not decided how I will vote in the other races. My vote would merely be a vote against the other person, not a vote for someone. I may on the other hand simply write in my name. Who knows.

In either case, the next few years don't look good for Pennsylvania.

October 05, 2010

Gillette Fusion Proglide

As the quest for the perfect shave continues, my next experience involved the Gillette Fusion Proglide, a 5 blade razor. I recently purchased this razor plus two blades for about $2.00 on sale.

Knowing my shaving skills, the 5 blades made me a little nervous, so I decided to also buy a styptic pencil, which is to help stop bleeding in the case of minor cuts. After two months of using this razor I never needed or even opened the styptic pencil.

After the first shave, I was very impressed by the closeness and smoothness of this razor. However, it did not leave my face with a close smooth look, just a close smooth feel. By the end of the day you could see and feel some stubble again.

After about 2 weeks of use, the moisturizing glide strip was shot and the razor of course was no longer cutting like new. One nice aspect was the fact that the razor didn't cut me even when dull.

The razor also has a single blade to cut side burns which seemed to work well.

Overall, this is a great razor, but the question is "Is it worth the price?"

The initial cost of the razor is about $10 with 2 blades. The replacement cartridges cost about $3.00 each.

There is no doubt this is a better razor than the Bic Advanced 3 I tested a few months ago. The real test will be how this razor compares to the Schick Hydro, which will be tested next, and the Mach 3 to be tested later.

For now though I'll give this razor a 90%, mainly because of its hefty price tag.

September 28, 2010

Book Review

When God Winks at You by SQuire Rushnell

The premise of this book is to give the reader true stories of God's active role in this world. The author calls these interventions "Godwinks."

There are nine chapters in this book, each dealing with its own particular topic or wink from God.
  • Personal
  • Hope and Reassurance
  • Transitions
  • Comfort
  • Prayer
  • Unanswered Prayer
  • Just in Time
  • Family
  • Quest
On page 3, the author gives his definition of a "Godwink". "every time you receive what some call a coincidence or an answered prayer, it's a direct and personal message of reassurance from God to you."

The word "wink" is used in several places throughout the Bible. In most cases the reference is used in a way that is to describe a person looking the other way when evil or something bad is being done. So, I am not sure I like the term "Godwink" to describe this intervention in our lives.

Overall, this book is simply a collection of feel good type stories. Even though the book is over 200 pages, it is a quick read.

If you are interested in this type and style of book, then you will certainly enjoy reading it. If, on the other hand, you enjoy books with more substance and biblical reference and examples, then you will probably not enjoy this book too much.


September 09, 2010

A for Amazon - F for Fed-Ex

Let me tell you about a recent experience I had with Amazon and Fed-Ex

I ordered some books from Amazon on the 18th of August. There were 12 books in total. I chose the free super-saver shipping from Amazon. My books were to come in 2 packages, 7 in one and 5 in the other.

Both packages left Amazon's shipping facility on August 19th with an estimated delivery date of August 25th. On the 25th I received one package with the 7 books. When I looked online at the tracking information the package with the 5 books was last scanned at a Fed-Ex shipping facility on the 20th.

I called Fed-Ex to find out about the package in question. The customer service representative would only tell me to contact the shipper. No matter what question I asked him, that was his response. Finally, I said okay I guess I will contact the shipper and not use fed-ex anymore. He said thanks and don't use us! Unbelievable!

I then contacted Amazon and tried to explain the situation to them. They kept telling me my package was at the post office. I said I was just at the post office and there was no package. Then they said I already got the package, which is true, I got the package with 7 books but not 5 books.

After about 45 minutes of going back and forth and them calling fed-ex they decided to overnight be 5 more books. The 5 books were shipped in 4 packages and I received them on the 30th. Of course, the original package that no one could find also magically appeared on the 30th as well!

Unbelievable. If Amazon wants the 5 extra books they sent me they can come and get them.

September 03, 2010

Book Review

Adventuring Through the Life of Christ by Ray C. Stedman

This is a nice brief summary of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.

Each chapter starts with a personal story or anecdote. Then an outline is given of the book. Finally, the author gives an overview of some of the significant events in the book and makes a few personal comments as well.

At the end of each chapter are several pages for notes. Personally, I think the note pages were just filler to make the book appear larger than it actually is. Without the note pages the book is less than 100 pages.

Overall this is a nice overview of the first five books of the New Testament. The author's brief stories and commentary fits in with the summary nicely.

August 18, 2010

Book Review

The Supremacy of God In Preaching by John Piper

This is an excellent book about how the focus of preaching should be God, not story telling or entertaining, or anything else. God should not only be the focus of preaching, but He should be the focus of our life. Whatever you do, do for the glory of God.

The book is split into two parts. Part 1 is about the supremacy of God in preaching. Part 2 is about Jonathan Edwards as an example of the supremacy of God. Personally, I had no interest in the life of Jonathan Edwards as far as this book is concerned.

While I thought the first part of the book is excellent, I am surprised that a book like this even needs to be wrote. Everything Piper wrote should be intuitively obvious to any preacher. Unfortunately, many preachers don't make God the focus of their preaching or ministry.

One of the things that I found helpful and interesting was Piper's method of preaching with the strength of God. He uses the acronym APTAT to remember and explain his process.

Admit that without God you are powerless.
Pray for help, insight, power, love, humility, etc.
Trust in God's promises in His Word.
Act in confidence that God will fulfill His Word.
Thank God at the end of the message.

I would recommend at least the first part of this book to anyone wanting a refresher or reinforcement of what the focus of preaching should be.

August 04, 2010

Book Review

I finished reading "Confronting the Controversies" by Adam Hamilton last night.

The author is a pastor who took a sermon series on controversial issues and turned it into a book. The author claims to describe both sides of the controversies and then look at them from the biblical perspective.

The book deals with the following topics:
  • Evolution
  • Church/State Separation
  • Death Penalty
  • Euthanasia
  • Prayer in School
  • Abortion
  • Homosexuality
I found in most cases the author did not do a good job of presenting both sides of the argument.

For example, with the death penalty, the author provided about 1 page on the "for" side and about 3 pages on the "against" side.

The only two topics that I believe the author did present sufficient information about both sides of the controversy was with abortion and homosexuality.

On some of the issues I believe the author is just plain wrong with his conculsions and several statements. For example, the author seems to agree with the basic principles of evolution and believes that there is no danger in teaching it to our children. The author even alludes to mankind as being an experiment of God's! I am not sure what Scripture he twisted to come up with that interpretation.

Another example is the church-state separation issue. He tells people when praying publicly not to pray in Jesus' name so we don't offend anyone! The purpose of praying in Jesus' name is certainly not to offend people, but we are to pray to God in Jesus' name as described in Scripture.

I do agree with the author about prayer in school somewhat. I do not believe it is the school's job to raise children, especially in the faith. The responsibility to teach children about right and wrong comes from the parents, the family, and the church.

Overall this book seems to fail at providing an independent look at both sides of these controversies. In some cases I believe it even fails to look at them from a proper biblical perspective. Therefore, this is one book that can be skipped.

July 19, 2010

Schick Injector Razor

As noted in my previous post, the Schick Injector razor experiment was not going so well.

After only 4 shaves I decided to abandon this razor. It was pure torture.

The razor itself was not comfortable to use. Part of the problem could be the fact that the blade was a cheap private label version.

The razor would not cut close at all even on my cheeks. But somehow it would cut me. It was not a fun process.

My rating is 25% - that is about all that it would cut - it just didn't work.

I switched back to my old Bic Comfort 3 that I still haven't thrown out (yeah the dull used one) and it worked 10 times better! I will be switching to the final Bic Comfort 3 that I have for the rest of the month and will pick up in August with a new 5 blade razor! Now that sounds dangerous.

July 14, 2010

Old Fasioned Safety Razor

My next adventure in shaving involved an Old Fashioned Gillette safety razor using a Wilkinson Sword Blade.

I must say shaving with this type of razor is very different than the usual razors that I am used to. I was impressed with the very first shave or at least part of it.

It shaved the sides of my face (cheeks) very close and smooth. The rest of the areas of my face were not so good. I tired various angles and directions, but none seemed to help very much. I was constantly cutting my face.

I think the problem was more the razor than the blade. The head was too big and it didn't seem to want to get into all those tight spots and groves without hacking away chunks of my skin.

Needless to say it wasn't a fun experience, so after 7 days of that I had to move on. It was like torture.

The blades are about $5 for 10. The razor was given to me, but from what I can tell it is about a 1930's model that currently sells for about $25.

The razor also had an "old metal" smell that I didn't particularly like.

So my grade is: 50% - it just couldn't pass my rigorous testing methods.

Up next is a Schick Injector razor - SPOILER - after only 3 days it doesn't look good either.

July 01, 2010

Bic Comfort 3 Advanced Razor

My first attempt at a close, smooth, clean, easy shave was two months of using a disposable razor. I had a pack of the Bic Comfort 3 Advanced razor, so I thought I would see what happened.

To be honest I wasn't expecting much from a "cheap" disposable razor, however, I was a little surprised. The razors cost about $1.25 each. You can often times find coupons to lower the price even more.

My goal was to shave with this type of razor for two months and evaluate the results. Again, part of my evaluation involves using the same razor or blade for the entire month before changing razors or blades.

The first week of shaves for both months were kind of painful, lots of cuts. The razors seemed to be super sharp or something. The middle two weeks were actually not too bad. There were minimal cuts and the shave was pretty close and comfortable. The final week got a little rough again. The blade was tugging at the hairs and the blade seemed dull or something.

Overall, I would rate the razor with about a 70%. They worked okay for the price, but it wasn't too enjoyable the first and last week for me.

Up next is an old fashioned safety razor.

June 30, 2010

Book Review

Three Simple Rules - A Wesleyan Way of Living by Rueben P. Job

This is a small book and a quick read, less than 100 pages, that briefly looks at the three simple rules of living by Wesleyan standards. There are also guidelines for daily prayer at the end of the book.

The three simple rules are:
  • Do no harm
  • Do good
  • Stay in love with God
On the surface these are truly three simple rules. However, practicing and living by these rules is much more challenging.

The author attempts to back up the rules with Scripture and episodes from the life of Christ. However, the author does not go into enough detail to fully develop his practical application of the three simple rules.

I also noticed a couple of "liberal" ideas slipped into the book.

For example, on page 27 the author writes, "Yet, even a casual reading of the gospel suggests that Jesus taught and practiced a way of living that did no harm."

Really? When I "casually" read the account of Jesus and the demon possessed man in the country of the Gadarenes I see Jesus casting the demons into a herd of pigs which all run off a cliff and drown in the water below.

The pigs were obviously harmed, but beyond that the farmers lost their livelihood. Yes, I know Jesus didn't "harm" the pigs or the farmers and I am familiar with the permissive will of God. My point is that a casual reading of the Gospel probably will find Jesus doing "harm." Jesus was/is not the nice guy that many liberals teach that He was/is.

Another sentence I have issue with is on page 31. "To do no harm means that I will be on guard so that all my actions and even my silence will not add injury to another of God's children or to any part of God's creation."

Again, I say really? Is this how Jesus lived? I know Jesus served fish, even for breakfast one morning. I don't know the details about how he prepared it, but I suspect harm did come to the fish.

If I remember correctly, and I do, Jesus also spoke some harsh words to the Scribes, Pharisees, and others.

In conclusion, this book does provide some good material, but not enough to make it a recommended read. If however, you are looking for something quick to read and think about then this would be an okay book.

June 25, 2010

Quest for the Perfect Shave

A couple of months ago I decided I was finally fed up with my electric razor. I would shave every morning, but by lunch time it would look as if I didn't even shave for the day. My face was never smooth.

It just so happened around the same time, when I got my money Money magazine it had an article about shaving in it. The article was simply a reference to a blog about shaving. Of course, the blog recommended shaving with an old fashioned safety razor.

I decided to start my own shaving experiment to see what the best option is to get the closest comfortable shave. I figure I'll give each razor a two month trial. I also expect the blade to last about 1 month. I figure I shave 6 days a week, so that is maybe about 24 or 25 shaves, not unreasonable in my opinion.

I have several razors that I will be testing out:
  • Bic Comfort 3 Advanced
  • Mach 3
  • Sensor
  • Old Fashioned Safety Razor made by Gillette
  • Gillette Fusion ProGlide
  • Schick Hydro 5
I purchased the Gillette Fusion ProGlide and Schick Hyro 5 razors for cheap, on sale with coupons. The other razors were already in my arsenal.

Check back in a couple of weeks for the first review of the Bic Comfort 3 Advanced disposable razors.

June 23, 2010

Book Review

The Holy Bible - New Testament - ESV
isbn: 1-4335-1052-9

This is an inexpensive "give-away" Christmas edition New Testament Bible. While the print is pretty small in this Bible it does make a nice gift. This is the English Standard Version (ESV).

This Bible does have some nice features including:
  • a reflection reading for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • a "Where to find help when you are ..." guide
  • a "What the New Testament says about ..." guide
  • a 30 day reading plan
  • a 6 month reading plan
  • a section that describes "God's plan to save you"
Overall, I really enjoyed the ESV translation. It held to the literal translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, but uses words that people are more familiar with today.

Typically, I use the New King James Version for reading in Church and the New American Standard for a literal translation. I find myself using the ESV more and more for quick lookups now.

May 19, 2010

RESULTS: 2010 General Primary Election

Here are the results versus my recommendations for the 2010 General Primary Election in Pennsylvania on May 18th.

US Senator: Peg Luksik - LOST
Governor: Samuel E. Rohrer - LOST
Lt. Governor: Daryl Metcalfe - LOST
Rep in Congress: William Russell - LOST
Special Election for Rep in Congress: William Russell (write in if available) - LOST
Rep in General Assembly: Dave Reed - WON (but there was no one running against him)

It looks like this fall's elections will be nothing but trouble. The wrong people are already on the ballot. I suspect I will either be voting for the independents (if there are any) or else I will be writing my name in for everything.

May 14, 2010

2010 General Primary Election

Here are my recommendations for the 2010 General Primary Election in Pennsylvania on May 18th

US Senator: Peg Luksik
Governor: Samuel E. Rohrer
Lt. Governor: Daryl Metcalfe
Rep in Congress: William Russell
Special Election for Rep in Congress: William Russell (write in if available)
Rep in General Assembly: Dave Reed

We'll see what the election brings!

May 11, 2010

ACT mouthwash

As usual I am always thinking here at Doe Valley.

The other day I was evaluating which ACT mouthwash to purchase: Total Care or Restoring. I ended up getting the Total Care because the label had more check marks on it than the Restoring version.

When I returned home I compared the Total Care to the Restoring. It turns out the ingredients are identical. So I decided to email the ACT company to find out what the difference is.

As it turns out the Total Care is supposed to kill more germs. Total Care also costs more.

The interesting part of this story is the difference between the larger 33.8 ounce bottles and the smaller 18 ounce bottles.

Of course, I bought the larger bottle, because it seemed liked the better deal.

As it turns out the 33.8 ounce bottles are meant to be used twice a day so there is only half as much fluoride in it as compared to the 18 ounce bottle.

The moral of the story is don't let the marketing genius fool you. Compare prices. Compare ingredients. Know what you are buying.

May 06, 2010

Arlen Specter Ad

Usually I don't pay much attention to the political ads because they are usually just one person twisting the facts and attacking the other candidate.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see Arlen Specter's latest ad. In the ad, Specter does not attack any of his opponents. He simply states what he stands for and has stood for. Here are the four points in his ad.
  1. Voted 20 times to raise the minimum wage
  2. Fought China's illegal trade practices
  3. Worked for increased health care
  4. Lead fight for stem cell research
Great. That clears it up for me.
  1. I am against a minimum wage for various reasons. I believe business owners should pay there employees a fair wage for their work, not be forced to pay what the government tells them to pay. Minimum wage increases usually hurt small businesses the worst and can cause unemployment to rise.
  2. Personally, I like getting the best bang for my buck, so I don't mind buying stuff made in China. Yes, I do have a problem with human rights violations anywhere in the world, but that is not what Specter fought about.
  3. By increased health care, Specter means the heath insurance bill, which I am totally against. People do not need nor should they be required to have health insurance. Yes, people should have access to affordable health care. One of the main problems with health care is the fact that lawsuits drive up the cost. And for those of you who don't know, Specter earned his law degree from Yale.
  4. As for stem cell research, I am still not quite sure I understand what it is all about and no one seems to really be able to explain it exactly. But if stem cell research involves experimenting with a human life then it is wrong.
So, as I said that clears it up for me. No need to vote for Specter. Thanks for the Ad!

March 19, 2010

Firefighters Charitable Foundation

About two weeks ago, I received a call from someone at the Firefighters Charitable Foundation asking for a donation. Of course, they don't start the conversation out that way. They start out asking if you have ever known a victim of a fire. Obviously, most people have. So I answered, "Sure."

The guy didn't really seem to know how to respond, so he said "OK" and continued reading his script. I continued listening to his pitch and then of course he asked if I would donate money. I told him to send me me some information about the foundation along with a financial report so I could evaluate their organization.

He responded, "Great, how much will you donate." I told him again, that it would depend on their organizations financial report. He said, "Ok, do you think you will donate $25?" Again, I stated that I need to read the financial report first. Finally, the guy reiterates everything we already talked about and said he would mail me the information.

This week I received a letter in the mail from the foundation. Inside the envelope was a pamphlet, a letter asking for a $25 donation, and a return envelope. No financial information at all.

I did like the PS on the bottom of the letter, "P.S. An additional gift of $2.00 to your original pledge can help raise additional funds." Really? If I give you 2 more dollars, that is more money you would have? Wow, I never realized that. Thanks for the tip!

I was simple going to pitch the information, but I thought I will at least spend a few minutes looking up the website to see if they have any financial information available there. For whatever reason the website would not load.

So I decided to try one more thing. I checked them out on Charity Navigator. The latest data available was for the year ending 2007. Their revenue was $4.1 million. The expenses were $4.2 million.

So far, it doesn't sound too good. They spend more than they make. As I continued to look more closely at the data I saw that $3.5 million was spent on fundraising and $245,000 was spent on administration. So that means about 91% of their revenue last year went to something other than the main purpose of the foundation!

If you want to donate to victims of fires, your best bet is to support your local agencies. Always evaluate who you are giving money too. You might be surprised to find out where your money is going.

Always thinking here at Doe Valley.

March 12, 2010

Book Review

The Faith-Based Millionaire by Jay Peroni

This book claims to be a "practical how-to book" regarding faith and finances. There are 12 easy to read chapters containing information about aligning your finances with your faith. I cannot say that any of the advice was outstanding though.

The book can easily be summarized by saying, trust God with your finances, do what He would want you to do with "your" money. Give to God, spend wisely, save and invest as much as possible so that you can help others.

There didn't seem to be much "practical" advice about investing other than saying hire a professional if you do not have the time to evaluate companies for their moral, social, or religious activities. Obviously, don't invest in companies that violate your principles.

It almost seemed to me that the author wrote this book to promote his website and his faith-based advising business.

Overall, this book is worth a read. There are a few tidbits of information that could help you out. This isn't a book you would refer to often, so it would be better to borrow the book from a library and save yourself some money.

March 10, 2010

Book Review

The Message - The New Testament in Contemporary Language
by Eugene H. Peterson

This book is a "translation" of the New Testament in modern English, it is almost translated the way someone would talk to their friends.

This is a special edition for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Throughout the book there are thoughts from Billy Graham about a particular topic, usually something that is discussed in that part of Scripture. Each book of the Bible also has a brief introduction. This book was easy to read, almost like a normal paperback book. The font size was just right.

I enjoyed reading this translation. However, I would not recommend it to the new student of the Bible. In my opinion, this version loses to much of the original wording, especially for some of the theological issues.

There were some interesting insights that Peterson translates, especially some of the parables of Christ. However, I did not like the way Peterson translated other says of Christ, especially some of the "I am" statements ("I am the road!").

Overall, I would recommend reading this book only after you are familiar with a good, accurate translation of the Word of God.


February 01, 2010

The Kiplinger's Saga Continues

On Friday night, I received a call from "Mark" at Kiplinger's.

My heart started to race, where they reading my blog and calling to order me to stop writing about them or were they going to call and offer me a great deal to write something positive about them for a change.

Neither! They were calling me to let me know my subscription had expired, but if I acted "right now" I could renew my subscription for 2 years at the special price of $26.97!

I thanked Mark and told him I have already subscribed to it at a different special price. He made a note of it and then hung up.

Just for the record, I do enjoy reading Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

January 28, 2010

Kiplinger's Magazine Update

I received in the mail yesterday a "letter" from Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine telling me that my subscription has expired. But if I act before January 28th I can still renew at the "special" rate of $14.97 for one year, $26.97 for two years, or $37.97 for three years.

As my readers here know, I have already resubscribed for $8.97 for one year. It just so happens that I also got my first issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine that I subscribed to for $8.97.

They also gave me the opportunity to extend that subscription for another year at the cost of only $8.97.

I think I will drop my extended subscription check in the mail this afternoon!


January 04, 2010

Book Review

Truth for Today by John MacArthur

This is a daily devotional book. Each month has a particular theme or topic to it.

Each day has a small portion of Scripture and a brief thought about it. This is MacArthur's third daily devotional book.

In my opinion this book is not as good as the first two. This book is very basic and lacks the depth of his other two devotionals.

I suspect this book is marketed more as a gift book to introduce someone to MacArthur's teachings.

Overall, this devotional can be skipped by the people who like the in-depth teaching of MacArthur.