Grace for Today. Know Grace, Know Peace.

Grace & PeaceIt became known over the past week that a major celebrity “has fallen” in the public’s eye. This time over a choice word that has both a negative and discriminatory meaning & tone. This person is welcomed into many millions of homes through programs because of her gift/talent. No one would suspect her of saying words to harm someone. Many people have been helped by this person and they go out to buy books and other branded merchandise too. However, with the admission of saying ONE WORD or taking the wrong ACTION – it’s beginning to crash. It makes waves in the press. Bloggers and commentators have a field day with the news. Many people get wind of it and start condemning.

HOWEVER, forgiveness was quickly sought and an apology made. She knew she did wrong and admitted it and asked for forgiveness.

It didn’t seem to make a difference to some groups. They continued to banish and make this person an outcast. They *quickly* turned their backs. Cancelled their agreements. Put distance between themselves and this “bad person” who is still nameless in this post.

What is missing? Not this person’s name. but one word: GRACE.

Grace is often used to describe God’s gift to mankind. It’s unmerited favor from God toward us, a band of sinners, as He grants us favor and gives us those things we do not deserve – and could never earn.

Grace is GETTING WHAT YOU DO NOT DESERVE.

As a Christian believer, we treasure this verse:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

We can never earn grace. Taking an honest look at it, we could never stack up or justify why we deserve it from a holy God. As Christians, we should greet each other with Grace and Peace. No grace, then no peace… and if we Know Grace, we Know Peace. Both Grace & Peace were even the classic greeting from the Apostle Paul in the scriptures: Grace to you & Peace from God.

Grace in the Greek is charis. While it is a common greeting for Paul, it’s also a deep theological term. Paul KNOWS GRACE as he was once one that condemned, beat and killed the early believers of Christ. Yes, Jesus, who died for Paul (and each of us). But Christ reached out to Paul and made sure he knew it was Him, Jesus, who he persecuted. See, persecution is both powerful and personal. It cuts to the core of a person. It can attack their heart, soul and body. The dictionary would say that persecution is to “Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of their race or political or religious beliefs.” Grace is a remedy to persecution. I believe that’s what Paul was conveying in 2 Corinthians about how the Lord spoke to him saying:

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Many people liken grace to mean that God is eager to save people from Hell. He did change His own position and nature to humble Himself to “take on human flesh” not for His gain, but for ours. And He continues to step in to strengthen us in our need. To help me remember the heart of GRACE, I think of the acronym that describes GRACE as:
God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense

So what was paid at Christ’s expense? YOUR LIFE. Both now and forever.

We deserve to be judged and condemned. However, the true judge isn’t someone here on earth. Rather, it is the ultimate Judge in heaven – God the Father. Jesus spoke of this judgment throughout his days on earth.

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
Of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
Of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
John 16:8-11

The “judgment” coming in the Greek is the word: krisis. And a “crisis” it will be for those who do not believe in the name of Jesus. It means “a separating, sundering, separation” or selection” … a result of a trial, contest.” This also helps put persecution in this world into perspective. If we know Him, we will be spared. If one rejects Christ, they accept the judgment.

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Hebrews 9:27-28

The result of this judgment is that we need a payment or debt to forgive us of our sins. This can only come from Jesus. He then rejoins and brings us back to His Father. It’s GOD’S GRACE that makes this happen in the life of the believer. Won’t you accept Him into your life today. Accept His payment. Accept His GRACE and receive His peace as a result.

A beautiful song from Hillsong of their Zion album that is inspiring & convicting at the same time – SCANDAL OF GRACE.

Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and the Jetsons

Three shows (Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and Jetsons) each share a common theme: an interesting housemaid helping around the home.

Ok, so I am not making a full set of direct comparisons between the three, but what first got me thinking about this was how much Alice (the housemaid) on the Brady Bunch and O’Brien (Called Miss O’Brien too on Downton Abbey) looked alike. The more I thought about the two, the more comparisons I started making about their role in each family and how it reflected the time period. What I concluded was that the period or time difference wouldn’t change either character. One is conniving, deceptive and manipulative while the other is funny, quirky and full of heart.

Downton Abbey's Miss O'Brien and the Brady Bunch's Alice
Miss O’Brien from Downton Abbey looks like Alice from the Brady Bunch

Both Downton Abbey and the Brady Bunch are very popular shows that either have or had a strong following. But the differences between each family (and their helpers) are almost opposites.So what would that look like in today’s culture?

I guess the next evolution or change is moving away from people to technology and robots. Perhaps Rosie from the Jetsons will be a reality. Think of a Siri that works and can perform real tasks in the home. Or she or he (Siri) acts like Carson from Downton and tells someone else to do this or that command. Like everything else, we can’t stop the move toward robotics and artificial intelligence. Why not have a household helper who doesn’t talk back, gets the job done right the first time and doesn’t ask for a raise – only needs basic maintenance. And if you don’t like it, no worries. Next year, you can get a new one with more features for a lower price. Or perhaps a new personality you can download or voice (like your GPS or Siri voice).

Again, this quick thought originated watching the sneaky O’Brien (Sarah O’Brien) and her discussing how she is a servant and how “they pay us to do as we’re told. That’s all.” Then several months later seeing Alice (Alice Nelson) in action in the Brady Bunch while watching it with my kids and how Alice didn’t complain, had a smile on her face most times and real care and concern. Here was someone who cared not for one person, but the entire family. It made me think how in today’s world, the “old ways” from just fifty years ago, let alone one hundred years ago and the blend of technology really does change people and the personalities they present. Both can do a great job (minus the talking back or side comments) if they apply themselves. A work ethic makes all the difference.

I am glad that people are still people. There are different varieties, some more pleasant than others. And grateful that some of them are only ones that “play one on tv.” Back to my kids. I really am grateful they are learning to
do a good job in everything they do. Some small attitude changes here and there and a strong work ethic will pay them dividends. Just watch out for Rosie, she’s already becoming reality.

Now if we can just get those flying cars in the Jetsons or even the Hover Board (floating skateboards) from Back to the Future… I am sure Google or Apple are already working on it.

iTunes 11 – Updated Design & Commerce… but missing the Steve Job’s touch.

So I am an Apple fan. Took me a really long time to be convinced it was superior to others. The iPod started it and the iPhone finished it – both putting Apple on the map for Music and Mobile convergence and domination.

One of their secret weapons in their business is not just the device, but also the software. Unbeknownst to most, iTunes is likely to be the most profitable digital commerce store in the world. They currently generate something like $8 Billion in revenue from iTunes and are on track to generate $13 Billion next year.

Just this past week, Facebook announced they are going to sell iTunes Gift Cards off their platform – just to get a piece of that business.

So when Apple released their new update today, everyone judged it based on look and feel. Some noted that it’s darker. Bolder. Love how it color matches my album in the details view for the album. Yet it also seems to miss some of those special Steve Job touches. It appears they may have focused on key areas like how they we monetize iTunes in new ways… increase per-subscriber/customer revenue… sell more digital goods?

I think we can begin to see it in our playlists (store results showing us what we don’t have or own)… and other presentation techniques users are familiar with like coverflow within the store (like the App Store on the iPhone has today). But it’s still missing something. That will vary a little for each person, but nothing truely special about it. It just didn’t get my reaction when I went from Windows Media Player to using Zune and their store and player 4-5 years ago. Zune really made an impression. iTunes 11 – seems safe. Perhaps that’s how we can describe Apple from now on… safe!

I do have to say it looks more like my iPhone than the old iTunes. I am just left to wonder – what would Steve Jobs have done differently? I sure hope they keep asking those questions or I fear these small nuances that made Apple so special are not left out in an attempt to beat the old-apple.

Regardless, the new iTunes 11 pushes Apple forward. The question that remains is where it’s going. Time will tell where Tim Cook and the rest of the Apple team want to take us and if we’re all willing to follow.

Some new pictures of the look, feel and features.

Welcome to iTunes 11 by Apple.
New Album view in iTunes 11. Notice how it matches the main color of the album? Really Cool.
New iTunes 11 store – likely to drive new revenue as they tweak the store and optimize the results for each person.
iTunes 11 – new design and look and feel.

Reflecting God’s Glory

I was reading a daily email I get from “TGIF – Today God Is First” and it really struck me. So I must share it with you – it is very thought provoking.

“They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your might, so that all men may know of Your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.” Psalm 145:11-12

The question Os Hillman poised in his article today was:
How do you measure your effectiveness in God, or should you even be thinking like this?

Here’s his commentary on the matter: “The early Church turned the world upside down in that first century. What made them so effective? Was it their theology? Was it great preaching? Was it due to one man’s influence apart from Jesus? The Scriptures are clear as to what made the early Church effective. It is at the core of God’s heart, and it is quite simple. God desires to reflect His nature and power through every individual. When this happens, the world is automatically changed because those who reflect His glory affect the world.”

For a great review of the early church, I always go back to Acts 2. To see how God moved through a small group of people focused on loving & serving Him – they were filled with the Spirit and simply changed the world.

“We serve a jealous God. He is a God who will not share His glory with anyone. God sets up situations in order to demonstrate His power through them. He has done this since the day He created man. His desire is to reflect His glory through you and me, so that all men may know of His mighty acts and the glorious splendor of His Kingdom. The apostle Paul understood this principle: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4-5). If you do not see His glory being reflected through your life, then you need to ask why. He has promised to do so if we will walk in obedience to His commands”

It’s easy to miss the simplicity of “living a life that is worthy of the calling” and furthermore, not realizing that we reflect God’s Glory. I often ask – am I reflecting God’s Glory. If I wronged someone (like cutting someone off while driving as an example), how did I steal the glory away from the Lord. Perhaps there was a chance to let them in my lane… even if it would put me back 30 seconds off my commute.

If I turn a situation around by a simple “how or what would Jesus do” (the standard WWJD response) here and now – things could be entirely different. Thinking that through even further, instead of asking WWJD, perhaps I should start my day by making sure I have prepared myself mentally and spiritually with the mind of Christ – to reflect His glory (and not my own). A simple change in my own perspective is a great change indeed. It’s never too late either.

For His Glory,
Dave

BTW – if you don’t get a daily inspirational email, I suggest this one by Marketplace Leaders. A good friend got me started with them a few years back and they’ve really blessed me.

Most heavily taxed countries (the US is #15 on the list)

I don’t know a soul who likes to pay taxes. While it helps our country operate: protect & defend us from outside and internal threats and provide a stable economy, I found it very interesting to see where the US ranks compared to other countries. Currently, the United States comes in as the 15th most heavily taxed nation in the world according to TurboTax (who better to know what we’re really paying).

On the contrary, the actual tax percent paid by corporations appears to be substantially lower. The country’s listed federal corporate tax rate is 35% but it only takes in approximately +/- 23 percent.

After reviewing the list, I don’t think I’d like to move to Sweden, who ranked as the most highly-taxed country, with a income tax rate of 56.5 percent.  Of the 15 nations with the highest tax rates, 8 also are listed among the 15 most thriving countries, according to Gallup. Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Japan and Austria all failed to make the cut, and it was only Austria that had a thriving majority.

So print it out and start discussing how we can lower our taxes. Collect what is rightfully due and make sacrifices where we must to get our countries debt under control too.

The most Heavily taxed countries by David Geipel

U.S. National Debt over the last Decade (2001 – 2011)

Here’s an interesting graph the WhiteHouse recently released in light of the August 2, 2011 Debt Ceiling increase deadline. Now we all know that the main result of getting into this mess was weak oversight. This didn’t just happen. We did this to ourselves. The recession along and reduction in spending by the US consumer alone amounts to 25% of the problem… tax cuts another 25% and so on… However, the waste in spending in DC alone needs to be further examined. The status quo cannot continue. That is what the Obama administration and Congress (Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers alike) – need to deal with today.

Debt Ceiling created by lack of management

Sure, we may be able to raise the debt ceiling, but what about future generations and managing what we do have today? Let’s pull together and make some tough decisions now before we’re back to where we are today.

US Faces Debt Ceiling Crisis (next week)

I love this country. It has so much to offer it’s people. With the recent talks about the US defaulting on it’s debt, it brings me back to asking about financial responsibility we all have as citizens. Our President Obama needs to lead us through this crisis. It hasn’t happened yet – but if we take a page from history, there was a good lesson we learned with a previous President – Ronald Reagan.

Twenty four years ago – on Sep 26, 1987, Reagan addresses the nation with the following:

“[Unfortunately,] Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility—two things that set us apart from much of the world.’”

Much hasn’t changed. But today, there is talk about a budget amendment which could help for future generations. There is also a lot still at stack with Social Security and benefits. But one thing he DID include was his position on taxes…

“This decision is not easy. I have no choice but to sign this bill to guarantee the United States government’s credit. But I also will not permit Congress to dismantle our national defense, to jeopardize arms reduction, or to increase your taxes. I am determined that will not happen.”

Well, we were in strange times back then (cold war era) as we are today (economic uncertainty) and it seems that politicians haven’t changed much at all. Perhaps we can get things straightened out for the next generation. May God continue to bless our country and people!

Interesting days and times…

Blink – things happen quick today. If you’re not fast enough, you will miss it. Life passes by so very fast. Are you missing it? Times I can look back and say YEAH… and those are the ones you may regret… and know you can do better. And that’s why God gives us another breath – so we may reclaim it and return it back to Him.

I love God’s presence. Always want more of those moments with Him though. However, He has given us this moment and it’s up to us to grab it.

Blessings,
Dave

Welcome to David Geipel

David Geipel

David Geipel
David Geipel

Welcome to my official “David Geipel” blog. Nothing real fancy, but it’s functional. Simplicity is key. Someone who doesn’t have a lot to say… but hoping this spot will contain some insights into life. Some tech insights and perhaps a twist on growing in Grace. Always something to learn. Room to grow. A season for change.

While I can often be found on Twitter publishing my thoughts to the Social World, it’s really about making a difference. If one post helps someone, challenges him/her, makes them laugh or brightens their day, the Dave Geipel blog is a success.

God Bless,
Dave Geipel

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Contact: David Geipel