No Excuses... Read His WordFriday, January 23, 2015
  • Most of my life I have failed when it comes to reading the Bible. I've made up excuses and complained about how I don't like to read anything, and so I moved through life with no real knowledge of the Word of God. As a father, I've failed my children by not encouraging them to study God's Word or to even show them why it's so significant. The Bible offers us two contrasting stories that shows us the importance of knowing the scriptures. One of the first stories in the Bible is when Satan tempts Eve in the garden, and one of the first stories in the New Testament is when Satan tempts Jesus in the desert. The outcome is significantly different, but both share the common lesson that knowing  the Word of God is important; not knowing it is deadly. 

    Satan approaches Eve when shes alone and he asks her if its true that she cant eat from any tree in the garden. Of course the question was wrong, but Satan was testing Eves knowledge of the Word of God. She failed the test. Her reply was (emphasis mine), “From the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.” (Genesis 3:3). God never said they werent allowed to touch it. Satan knew the Word of God... and, sadly, he knew Eve did not. Because of that, Eve gave Satan a foothold, allowing him to convince her to do the one thing she was forbidden to do. 

    In Matthew, Satan uses that very same tactic, this time with Jesus. As with Eve, Satan approaches Jesus when he is all alone, and once again, he incorrectly quotes the Word of God (see Matthew 4:6 and Psalm 91:11-12) to try to get Jesus to stumble. But each time Satan tempts Him, Jesus responds by accurately quoting scripture. Jesus never gives His opinion or theories, and at no point does Jesus say, “I think”, or, “I believe”. Jesus knows exactly what the scriptures say. Satan had no choice but to walk away. 

    Jesus warns us that we, like Eve, are deceived when we dont know the scriptures (Matthew 22:29). The Bible teaches about one of the early churches in Berea “examining the scriptures daily” to be sure what they were being taught was true, and that some became believers because their careful examination of scriptures confirmed the truthfulness of what was being taught (Acts 17:11-12). Paul instructs us how to stand against “the schemes of the devil,” and lists the spiritual armor we should use when going into battle against our enemy (Ephesians 6:10-20). The only offensive weapon we have is the Word of God. No soldier goes into war without significant knowledge of his weapon. 

    Let the Word of God – in all its riches and abundance – live in you, speak about it and study it day and night, and teach the Word diligently to your children. (Colossians 3:16; Joshua 1:8; Deuteronomy 6:7) 

    If you are really struggling to get into the Word of God and dont know where to begin, I recommend you download the One Year Bible daily reading plan (PDF, 42 KB). This plan provides you with a small section to read each day out of the Old Testament, the New Testament, a portion of the Psalms, and a few verses from Proverbs. The amount of reading is between 15 and 30 minutes each day. If you miss a day, dont get discouraged and try to catch up; simply read whatever is todays suggested reading. The beginning may be tough, but quickly you will be amazed at the things you never knew before. At the end of a year, you will have read through the entire Bible! Its an amazing feeling, and youll be glad you did! 

    The New Living Translation (NLT) is an easy translation to comprehend. If youre looking for something closer to a literal translation, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is what I would suggest. I do not recommend the King James Version (KJV) because its language is pointlessly outdated, nor the New International Version (NIV) because the translators attempt to add political correctness to the scriptures, which has no place in the Word of God. 
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    Google Announces Nexus 9 TabletWednesday, October 15, 2014
  • With an Apple event tomorrow (which is pretty much known to include a new iPad release) I find the timing more than a little suspicious... announcing your competing product one day before Apple releases theirs. But why hold off on the pre-orders until October 17? Since the device doesn’t ship until November, there seems to be no reason they couldn’t have started pre-orders today, getting a jump on Apple’s next iPad. 

    I’m tempted to make a “Welcome to 2010” joke since the new device offers a 4:3 display, no external storage, no user-replaceable battery, and no Flash support. But I won’t. 

    [via The Verge]
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    Annual Release SchedulesTuesday, October 14, 2014
  • There’s been some talk about Apple’s rapid release schedule with both its mobile OS and its desktop OS causing quality issues. The initial release for iOS 7 had significant bugs, and iOS 8 had a few struggles on launch as well (e.g. Health Kit, the botched 8.0.1 release). One suggestion has been for Apple to stop trying to keep this difficult annual update cycle. People love to talk about “Apple’s DNA”; this tightly scheduled release is a perfect example of that DNA. 

    Consider this quote from John Gruber: 

    Mac OS X’s current schedule is in direct contrast to every other desktop operating system in the industry. Microsoft’s Windows, most notably, is on a much longer, more monolithic update schedule. [...] The end result is a win for everyone — users get improved software quicker, and Apple gets something new to sell and to promote annually. 

    This quote is from July, 2003... more than 10 years ago. Certainly the comment applies even more to iOS than it does Mac OS. Even non-techies are aware that Apple updates every year. They don’t know about the big events in September and October like I do, and they don't pay attention to WWDC every year, but they know that their phone's software will update before they need to replace their device. This is a huge part of why an iPhone is more appealing than any of the Android offerings. If I buy a brand new Android today, I don’t know if it’s currently on the latest OS, and I certainly have no knowledge of when – or if – it might update again. 

    I think Apple has to maintain an annual release cycle, and the best way to do this may be to scale back the scope of the updates they plan to push. 
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    Samsung's Smartphone WoesMonday, October 13, 2014
  • For three years Samsung has held a solid chunk of the mobile phone marketshare. Nearly 70% of their profits come from this industry. But last week Samsung reported profits from the last quarter were down an estimated 60% over the previous year’s quarter. This shouldn’t be surprising, as the mobile phone market is becoming increasingly saturated, causing the market growth to slow. Lower priced Chinese manufacturers are cutting away at Samsung’s low-end, while Apple continues to gobble up the lion’s share (more than 80%) of the profits. 

    While I don’t understand it, there are a number of people who really like their Android-based Samsung phones. There’s even a small group of them who enjoy picking on Apple customers. But Samsung’s success has always come from mimicking the market leader in various industries, improving on their products, not creating new products or markets. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that strategy, but now Samsung finds itself in an eroding market without the ability to take advantage of a new space. 

    It is generally believed that wearables will never become as big of an industry as the smartphone market, and to date no one has generated any level of interest in a wearable device. Apple is positioning their new watch as a fashion device, not tech, so even if it does have anywhere near the success of the iPhone, Samsung is going to have trouble moving into the fashion industry. 

    I don’t mean to imply Samsung is down and out; far from it. Samsung will do what Samsung does best, build computer chips at a sizable profit. But analysts will look back at Samsung’s financial history and refer to 2013 as the smartphone bubble. 
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    Some Bunk About Income EqualitySaturday, October 11, 2014
  • A 30-year-old employee of Wells Fargo, Tyrel Oates, decided he wasn’t happy with his lot in life so he emailed John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s CEO, to let Stumpf know what he thinks. Oh, and he also copied the letter to 200,000 other employees of the company. Now he’s being hailed as the “quiet hero of income equality”. 

    Excuse me for a moment while I go throw up. 

    Sure, the company provides while not great, some pretty good benefits, as well as discretionary profit sharing for those who partake in our 401k program. While the benefits are nice, the profit sharing through the 401k only goes to make the company itself and its shareholders more profitable, and not really boost the income of the thousands of us here every day making this company the prestigious power house that it is. 

    The first reason I would fire Oates: Emailing the entire company is completely unprofessional. I’m reminded of Jerry Maguire’s “mission statement” in which he broadcasts his feelings about unfairness with the sports management business at which he is employed. And the day everyone gets his diatribe, he is fired without reservation. 

    When Oates was hired he was given a specific offer, presumably commensurate with his skill set. If the salary or benefits offered were not up to the level he felt he deserved, then it was his job to negotiate a better offer... or seek employment at a company that pays better. 

    (Side note: I spent 10 of the last 11 years with no benefits, so I confess that I get rather annoyed at people who complain that their benefits are “not great”.) 

    There’s a story in the Bible that Jesus tells us; to paraphrase, a guy gets a job harvesting a field all day for a set amount of money. Later in the day another person is hired to do the same job for the same wage, but the second worker only has to work a portion of the day because he showed up after lunch. The first worker is angry because he feels he should have received more pay than the second worker. On the surface we might think the first worker has a valid point. But the story points out that the first worker agreed to work all day for a specific wage. His lot in life has not changed because someone else got a better deal. 

    By agreeing to work for $15 per hour plus benefits, you lost the right to complain to the CEO when you decide you should be making $20 per hour instead. 

    Last year, you had pulled in over $19 million, more than most of the employees will see in our lifetimes. 

    The second reason Oates would be fired: It’s none of his business, as an employee of Wells Fargo, how much the CEO makes... anymore than it’s my business how much my boss makes. Additionally, what Stumpf makes has no influence on the salaries of each employee in the company, except that by making Wells Fargo profitable means people like Oates have a job to complain about. 

    My third reason for firing him: Oates financial argument is hardly solid. That, and his inability to correctly word an email, shows why he makes $15 per hour instead of being in upper management. 

    This year Wells Fargo in its second quarter alone had a net income of $5.7 billion, and total revenue of $21.1 billion. [...] My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars. 

    The numbers Oates puts forth here are irrelevant. The only number that matters to his ridiculous argument would be the full year of profit that Wells Fargo made, which was $21.88 billion. He is asking for the CEO to give away 1/7th of the company’s annual profits... every year for the unforeseeable future. That is not “just a small fraction”, and is such poor logic, financially, I’m not sure Oates belongs in the banking industry at all. 

    I wonder, if Oates had 21 dollar bills in his pocket and you asked for $3, would he give it to you? 

    Oates is missing an important lesson in financial responsibility: Store grain during the surplus so you have grain during the lean times. The problem is, we aren’t taught that anymore. We’re taught to spend all we make and more, then attempt to bring our income up to our spending levels, instead of keeping our spending levels below our income. So perhaps it’s understandable why Oates doesn’t understand that Wells Fargo should make considerable profit without spending all of it. 

    There are many of us out there who come to work every day and give it our all, yet, we struggle to make ends meet while our peers in upper management and company executives reap the majority of the rewards. 

    I don’t know Oates, obviously, so perhaps he has bills not in his control that add up to more than he makes at Wells Fargo. All I can do is draw on my own personal experiences when I made $15 per hour and I didn’t think twice about using credit cards to buy TVs, game consoles, nice furniture, and other “stuff” I felt I deserved to have. I didn’t hesitate to eat at pricey restaurants frequently. I didn’t think twice about having a six year car loan on a car that was out of my price range. And there are a lot of people who live in this country who make a similar wage and spend like there’s no tomorrow, and then complain because they can’t “live comfortably on their own”. 

    Is it fair that the CEO makes millions of dollars each year and the janitor makes only tens of thousands? Is it fair that Tyrel Oates makes $15 per hour and there are homeless people outside his office begging for change? Because if it’s not fair that Stumpf makes the salary and bonuses that he negotiated and earned by operating a company to the point that it turns $5 billion in profit, then it’s also not fair that Oates makes the salary he negotiated and earned when there are people outside his workplace with no car, no place to call a home, and no money for a decent dinner. 

    This isn’t England, where some people are born into royalty with no reason for their success other than their birth. This is America, and in America if you want to be the CEO of Wells Fargo you are free to pursue it. Sure, not everyone is going to make it big, but if you look at history, there is literally nothing stopping anyone in this country from becoming whatever they want to be... with the exception of their own selves. Bill Gates was a college drop out and became the richest man in the world. John Stumpf grew up poor with “limited family finances”, managed to pay his own way through college, then started working at the bank in 1982 in the loan department. He moved up and eventually became the CEO of Wells Fargo. This was not luck. This was not a poorly crafted email to the entire organization about how he deserves more money. This was hard work and determination. 

    I’m no millionaire, but I never took a single college class, and I live... comfortably. (Sometimes I feel I live better than I deserve). Why is that? It’s because I worked my ass off and lived below my means, not because I whined to my boss and stirred up a shit storm with my 300,000 co-workers. 

    So Tyrel, consider this to be my letter to you. You are not the CEO, you do not get to make millions in your current position, you do not get to tell the CEO how to manage the profits his company makes. Shut your mouth and get back to work and be thankful you have a job. 
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