Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Criticism - Critique or Evaluation

Most of us don’t like to be criticized and we feel bad when it happens. We have to admit that sometimes we deserve it and sometimes we don’t and I am not sure which hurts the most. My personal problem is that I tend to respond much too quickly when I should take the time to cool down and evaluate my part of it.

There are some differences between Criticism, Critique, and Evaluation. Criticism is usually sharp and says, “I don’t like what you did or said.” It is an expression of displeasure from one person to the other. It is most often received badly and even feels like "I don't like you." Criticism does little good and in fact it is often counter productive.

A Critique is a step up from criticism though the two words stem from the same root. A critique can be either positive or negative and often both at the same time. It too can say something went wrong so let’s discuss the possibilities for correction. This is an approach that is often lost in our society.

As a Toastmaster I am very into evaluation as a tool to help one another improve our lives, work and progress. It usually starts with here is what went well and is followed with here is one way to improve on this. Always it is followed up with appreciation for the effort.

As a mayor of a small city I am in a position of no matter what I do some people will be happy and some will be very unhappy by the same action. Some of those who are unhappy will remember for a long time but that is just the way it is. What I have to constantly work on myself about is how do I respond? Sometimes even when I try to have a cool down period the other party is impatient and demands an immediate response. When I fall for that I am usually not going to give a good well thought out answer.

We are still a work in progress. Lord help me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Question the Polls

In 2008 my senior Senator from Kentucky was shocked that Obama was elected. He stated even before Obama took office that he would make sure that Obama would be a one term president. Our senior Senator is well known here in Kentucky for his political dirty tricks and he began his anti-Obama campaign with gusto leading the Republican party in opposing anything that the Democrats presented. He failed but has kept up the vitriol anyway.

Way back when I was an undergraduate I took a class in statists at Texas Christian University. What an eye opener for public polling. Looking for stats? What stats do you want? It is all in how you ask the questions and who you ask. Most national pollsters today like Pew Research do a good job of random polling to get a good sample of what people think. But even they sometimes get it really wrong. Governor Romney had so many polls that showed him winning that he only wrote a victory speech.

My senior Senator is continuing his argument over health care and the polls are all over the place and it all depends on who you ask what question. If you ask about the “Affordable Care Act” you get a positive set of results but if you ask the same people about “Obamacare” you get a negative set of answers. It is all in how you phrase the questions.

I am skeptical when a politician says, “The American people want …. [You can fill in the blank]! Of course they will state that the American people want what the speaker wants. Americans are a diverse people and we don’t all want the exact same thing and we all need to wake up to that fact.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Choosing A Study Bible

I have often been asked about: "How do a choose the right bible to study?" That is an important question. Some people think that the "King James Version" is the only authorized version and there for is the only true bible. That is just not the case! The KJV was "authorize" for printing in England in 1611 by King James of England. For a long time it was the only version that could be printed in England.

Unless you are competent in reading Hebrew and Greek you need to choose a good study bible in your native language. Choosing one is not as easy as it sounds. We need to realize that EVERY translation is the translators’ opinion of the meaning. You just have to look at the variety of English translations to know the truth of that statement. So how do we know which translation will be best for us to use?

First is it a direct translation from the Hebrew and Greek? Some bibles are translations from translations in other languages or versions of the same language. There are also paraphrase versions like “The Living Bible” that are meant for easy reading not study.

Second is it a translation by a committee or by one person. A single translator can not help but provide you with that person’s opinion. Translations done by committees have the added values of all their opinions being discussed and consensus being reached. It is still opinion but the chances of the opinion being a better choice is greater.

Third is, "What year was the translation completed?" This is more important than you might think. What year was YOUR language skill set? For High School graduates it is the year of your graduation. For University graduates you choose that year of graduation. Then choose a translation completed close to that year for the language YOU best understand.

NOTE about margin notes: There is a difference in what is in the “text” of the bible and what is written in the margins. Information in margins and footnotes are OPINIONS! That doesn’t mean they are wrong but they could be so check them out. We all have opinions and I believe mine are correct or I would not hold them. So choose your bible translation for you to study very carefully.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Life is About to Change

Life is about to change at the Odom-Groh household. My darling wife is going to be retired at the end of the month and we will both need to learn new routines.

For the past fourteen years every week day she has left the house before I woke up to catch the buss for her job downtown. She developed a routine that worked for her and moved ther through the day. I also developed my own routine for doing household chores and having supper ready when she arrived home. Starting Friday July 31 all that is going to be disturbed.

Mind you I am looking forward to it but a change is a change none the less. I will enjoy waking up to her sweet smile every day and sharing the day with her, taking day trips with her and being able to chat about things we are reading. We are going to go back to our old cooking routine of many years ago. We both love to cook and she has been cooking on her week-end and I have been cooking on her work day. Starting in August we will be taking turns a week at a time and the one who is cooking will also do the shopping.

We will also revisit old patterns for cleaning house and taking care of the yard. Yes life is about to change in the Odom-Groh Household for the better.
Praise the Lord.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Remembering Katherine Ann

I am filled with mixed emotions today remembering the birth of my eldest darling daughter. She was born one minute after midnight July 24, 1969 and came into this world screaming her little lungs out.

Katherine's birthday has always been one of Joy for me and when we were apart I would call her and sing happy birthday and tell her how much I loved her. This is the first anniversary of her birth that I can not do that. This morning I looked at her picture and said "Happy Birthday my darling Katherine." Sadness at her loss flooded over me.

On the other hand I am so thankful for the almost 46 years of the gift that was her life shared with me and I do celebrate that gift. We shared a special bond that I will cherish always with great love.

Katherine Ann your daddy loves you and always will Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The new Marriage/Wedding laws

Recent Supreme Court rulings have changed the Kentucky one man one woman marriage laws. Several county clerks have refused to issue same sex wedding license sighting their religion. The governor told them to do their job or resign. I am so glad that I am retired.

Religions now have to deal with a same sex couple coming with a legal license and asking to be married. As a pastor I have always had the option to refuse and I have done so in times past. Active religious leaders today still have that option open to them. There are many religions in America and they each have their own traditions concerning the wedding ceremony.

In the civil service a couple needs a license and an authorized person to sign the document. The authorized person only has to verify that the two people before them are the ones on the license and ask them if they want to be married. When they answer in the affirmative the license is signed and they are married. All cut and dry and legal. A Christian Wedding is quite different and in the United States it involves aspects of the civil wedding but also much more. In my state and church a couple come to make vows to each other and God. They come seeking a blessing on their marriage and home. It is the making of vows that makes all the difference.

When a marriage vow is made the man and woman actually make two vows at once. They make vows of commitment and fidelity to one another and they make those same vows to God! It is this act that makes the wedding ceremony sacred. The vows are binding until death do us part. Jesus made only one excuse for divorce and that was adultery.

When a person breaks the marriage vow a double sin is committed. The first sin is against the spouse and the second is against God. I count it a very serious event to make a vow to God. Breaking a vow to God is not something one does lightly and I always stress that to couples about to get married in the church. There is an eternal aspect to a vow made to God and it stays with you that long.

As there are plenty of choices for couples getting married both civil and religious clergy can have the option to conduct the service or not. Government officials who are authorized to officiate a wedding do not have that option as it is part of their job.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Astrology From A Christian Perspective

Last Sunday I overheard two women talking after worship about their horoscope readings for the day. So many church members think that their horoscope is just a fun thing to do on a daily basis. Nothing could be more wrong or more dangerous to a Christian's faith in Christ. It is not a harmless past time or a fun thing to do, it is idol worship putting your faith in something other than God.

From a Christian point of view astrology is an ancient idol worship for when you put your faith in a horoscope reading that is what you are doing. Many modern Christians do not realize that Astrology is an ancient religion based on the signs of the zodiac and to trust in them means your are turning your back on faith in God. Even though astrology has remained popular over the centuries it is not allowed according to the bible.

Every now and then someone will open a conversation with me by asking, “What’s your sign?” and I know what they mean. My answer often confuses them. I say, “My sign is the cross.” I usually get a blank stare and then they say, “No I mean your birth sign.” To which I reply, “I was born again under the sign of the cross and my faith in the future is in Jesus.”

As a pastor I encourage all Christians to keep faith with Jesus and answer, “My sign is the cross!”