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The Evils Of Christian Charities

A couple of decades ago, I had a conversation with my best friend at the time, a woman twenty years my senior, about how Christian ministries had been sucked into the world’s way of marketing. She’d recently received a letter from a ministry she’d sent money to in the past, and the letter might as well have been trying to sell snake oil. The letters from that ministry – a very well known one at the time – had up to that point been informative and encouraging, with only a gentle request for financial help at the end of each letter.

But now, the letters the ministry was sending out were obviously being written by copywriting professionals, writers who are skilled at manipulating people emotionally with their words so that they will buy something – or, in this case, donate money.

A couple of years ago, I noticed this happen with the letters from the ministry in Haiti that I began supporting as a single person, and that my husband agreed to continue supporting after we got married. This put a bad taste in my mouth, and I almost sent an e-mail chastising the ministry for this change.

But the Lord whispered to me to leave it be. So I did. After all, I believed in the things they were doing: running an orphanage, feeding many area children, providing free schooling for area children, and building a free hospital for the children and adults in the surrounding neighborhoods.

We had actually begun donating an extra $100 per month to the ministry, beyond the money that we’d been donating every month to sponsor a child in the orphanage, in order to help the ministry out with all those life-changing endeavors.

Then we get a letter from this ministry the other day, supposedly from the woman who started it (I’m sure the letter has some of her words, but I’m just as sure the letter has been seriously edited by a professional copywriter), gushing about all the wonderful things she’s been able to do during the past twenty years, thanks to our donations.

And then, the bomb drops.

About the middle of the letter, the woman reveals that she wants to build a “Life Skills And Sports Complex.” So, would we please consider donating to the cause?

Because it’s absolutely critical to the success of the children in the orphanage and school. Children need sports if they’re going to learn how to be a team player, if they’re going to develop a healthy self-esteem, time management skills, and responsibility.

Never mind that a bunch of young people have already graduated from high school with the help of this ministry, and are already successful young adults – even though there was no sports complex while they were attending school. We’ll just sweep that little unimportant fact under the rug, because our donors need to believe that Haiti absolutely, positively, needs a sports complex for children.

Anybody else want to throw up about now?

My husband never played sports. I never played sports. Yet we both went on to college, and got well-paying jobs afterward.

Um, yeah, and we were financially independent by our early forties.

The idea that kids “need” to participate in sports in order to have the utmost success in life is purely an invention of American culture.

And don’t effen tell me about studies associating “success” (whatever the BLANK that means) with team sports participation, and that my husband and I are in the minority. Take a course in statistics, and within a few months you’ll have learned that statistics can be manipulated in whatever way the researcher wants.

Not to mention that the vast majority of studies, especially ones trying to show a connection between culturally accepted practices and future results, are highly flawed.

Yes, I’m teed off. But let me go on, because I’m not done yet.

Real life skills

You want to teach kids time management? Give them a job where they have to show up by a certain time every day or get fired. You can simulate this in a school setting by providing jobs that adult staff would normally do, and “pay” them with rewards such as school-sponsored parties, homework-free nights, and so on.

This is actually being done in some innovative high schools in the United States.

Responsibility? Ditto.

In Haiti, many people starve to death every day. How about this for teaching teamwork? Get a group of kids to work together to prepare dinner for a large group of needy people. Hmm, fixing food. Sounds like an essential life skill to me. No expensive “complex” required to teach or learn it, either.

I think time management and responsibility will be side benefits of such a project. And self-esteem? Comes along for the ride from the satisfaction of a job well done.

How else can kids learn to be team players? How about building or renovating houses, or small shelters? How about going door to door and finding out what the neighborhood needs, and brainstorming how to meet those needs – and then doing the work to do so?

You want to talk about essential life skills and learning to be a team player? Learning to be responsible? How about designing, building, planting, and maintaining a large vegetable garden?

Trust me – I’ve got a 1600 square-foot vegetable/fruit garden, and I could get a lot more out of it if I wasn’t running it all by myself.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s all fine and good for the big kids. The teenagers. What about the younger ones?”

What about the younger ones? First of all, the younger ones should be allowed to play. For most of their waking hours. Play is how they learn. And I ain’t talkin’ for the period of life that we consider “early childhood.” I’m talking, as old as twelve and thirteen.

Second of all, my son – who is immature and small compared to the average boy – could use a drill, hammer, and level by age eight. Children that young, even younger, can even learn how to handle a chef’s knife.

Just because we’ve become hyper-protective of our children to the extent they can’t even enter into a marriage with a responsible attitude until they’re at least thirty because we treat them like stupid little kids until they’re eighteen, doesn’t mean they’re not capable.

Yeah, I’m teed.

This is NOT Kingdom work!

American culture has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. No human culture does.

The work of God’s Kingdom is to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [Luke 4:18-19].

Yeshua came to heal in every way that humanity needs healing and to save hearts from darkness.

Can a believer minister through coaching team sports? Sure!

But is helping to build a sports complex the best use of our money in a nation like Haiti, where, despite all of the Christian ministries working there, children and adults continue to starve every day and continue in their bondage to the voodoo religion? Where surely human trafficking is a serious problem, as it is in most Third-World countries?

My husband and I don’t think so.

And we also agree that Christian organizations have let themselves be deceived and manipulated by the enemy so that they focus more on showing their success via the next fancy building or incorporating the majority culture into their belief system than the do on the true work of the Kingdom.


The Two Keys To Living Your Dream Life

Self-improvement. Goal achievement. How to succeed.

You’ve read up on all those topics, learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals, and even have a vision map going. You know that moving toward your goals and dreams is a process and that reaching them won’t happen overnight.

But you’re still far from where you think you should be, after all the actions you’ve taken.

Or, the actions are more difficult than you bargained for, and you’re tempted to give up. Life isn’t too bad now, so why bust your rear trying to seek a more fulfilling life?

The reason is that if you’re not fulfilled, you’re probably not doing what God has called you to do.

Even if you don’t believe in a God who has an interest in your life, you can probably agree that giving up on a goal or dream that burns inside you won’t lead to anything good in the future.

Believe me – I understand how it feels to struggle toward an important goal, or reach for a dream with a constant barrage of doubts going through your mind. So I want to encourage you that you can succeed in life – in a huge way – if you cling to two key principles of living the life of your dreams.

Principle #1: Cultivate

When we moved into our earth-sheltered house four years ago, our front yard was nothing but bare dirt. When things started growing the next spring, one of the plants was this purple, thorny weed. I’m talking serious thorns, not rosebush-sized thorns. It’s like there was a kind of venom in the thorns, because when you pricked yourself on one the pain would last for several minutes. It was almost like being stung by a bee or wasp, without the itchiness.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of those nasty things started popping up all over the front yard. Not wanting to encourage future growth, I pulled every last one I could find out by the roots (wearing gloves, of course!). Several days a week for a while, I would go out and pull them up for ten minutes or so.

The next year, they were almost non-existent. But other unpleasant weeds popped up in their place. None were nearly as nasty as the purple weed, but they weren’t easy to mow down, and some were just plain unsightly.

So we did more pulling up of weeds that spring and summer. We wanted the native grass to come in and take over.

At the same time, native wildflowers began to emerge here and there. Nothing like a flower garden that you don’t have to plant, so we left those alone so that they would reseed and spread through the yard (we wouldn’t mow patches of wildflowers).

Now, half of our front yard consists of mostly grass and an increasing amount of clover (which I think I started by tossing out some spoiled sprouted red clover a couple of years ago). The other half is part grass, and a larger part wildflower. Sure, there’s the occasional ragweed plant that needs to be obliterated, and our fight this year is with prickly lettuce.

All in all, though, our efforts to encourage the good and eliminate the bad have paid off.

If you want to succeed in life, whatever your definition of success, you must do the same. You have to cultivate your mind, your physical health, and your environment. What negative mindsets do you need to get rid of? What talents need honing? Which relationships and/or habits are pulling you away from your goals and dreams, and which are supporting you on your journey?

Key number one to living the life you want: cultivate.

Which takes – drum roll, please – time.

Principle #2: Patience.

In this modern, fast-food, instant information culture, people have become brainwashed by the idea that they can get whatever they want at the click of a button. They’ve completely forgotten the old adage, “Good things come to those who wait.”

Cultivating your life, like cultivating a bare front yard, takes time. More time than most people want to spend. Four years into our residence here, and our yard still isn’t in its ideal shape.

But if you lose patience with the daily tedium, if you lose patience with working through struggles, if you just plain give up because you think achieving your goals is taking too long, you’re never going to get to where you want to go.

It takes ten years, sometimes more, to be an overnight success.

Stephen King, Justin Timberlake, Barak Obama…they all got to where they are today because they didn’t give up. They had patience with the process.

Patience is being able to enjoy the journey while you do what you can to reach your destination. It’s also trusting, having faith that your hard work will eventually pay off.

Patience is not only a virtue, it’s a necessity for anyone who is serious about living their dreams.

A visual demonstration

I want to wrap up this article with a video I made about the two key principles to success. It’s what our front yard looks like at this moment, as of early June, 2019.

Let it inspire you to renewed revelation on how to succeed in life.


More and more people are looking for side business ideas, for a variety of reasons. The reasons usually boil down to one thing: more money.

I will be the first to say that earning, or having, more money is not what makes for a more abundant life. However, being in debt or worrying over how you’re going to  pay off a future imminent bill, such as a higher education, can definitely make it hard to feel like you’re living in abundance.

And some people want to start a side business hoping that it will eventually make enough money that they can quit a job they don’t like. I think we can all agree that if you’re working a job that doesn’t fulfill you, you’re going to have a hard time feeling as though you’re living in abundance.

Whatever you financial goals, if you’re thinking about starting a side business and you need some ideas, allow me to offer a few. Somewhere in the list that follows, you should be able find a side business idea that works for you.

#1: Walk other people’s dogs.

If you like dogs and live in the city, you can probably find a number of people in your neighborhood or subdivision who have dogs, but struggle to find time to walk them. If it’s a middle class and up area, they’d probably be willing to pay someone to walk their dog for them.

Determine what time of day you’d be willing to walk dogs, then create a flyer describing your service and listing your phone number. Charge six to ten dollars per hour per dog. If you can find three dogs who get along that you can walk together, and walk them for thirty minutes every day at four dollars a head, that’s twelve extra dollars per day of income for you. By the end of thirty days, you’ve added an extra $360 to your monthly income.

Though it’s not anywhere close to being quit-your-job income, it’s enough to accelerate either debt pay-off or savings build-up.

#2: Deliver flyers.

This is such a potentially lucrative side business idea that you may have a hard time finding this opportunity in your neighborhood, even city, because so many people are already doing it.

But, it’s a no-brainer job that could allow you to quit a job you hate while getting lots of exercise at the same time, so I believe it’s worth mentioning.

Local businesses such as restaurants and dry cleaning places pay per flyer attached to a residential doorknob. Find enough businesses who want flyers delivered so that you’re attaching three or more flyers to every doorknob several times a week. Learn to walk fast enough, and maneuver a rubber band quickly enough, and you could be making $75 to $100 every day that you deliver flyers – and that in just a couple of hours of work!

Even if this income wouldn’t replace your day job, it might allow to you quit the job you don’t like and find a lower-paying job that’s less stressful and more enjoyable.

#3: Buy and sell on Craigslist.

The number of people who make a full-time income – and I’m talking, average to above-average – with Craigslist might surprise you.

People selling items on Craigslist generally want to get rid of them quickly, so they sell them at garage-sale or thrift-store prices. Educate yourself on the most in-demand kinds of items, then start shopping on Craigslist.

After you’ve made a good purchase, wash or refurbish the item as needed, then post it back on Craigslist for twenty or more dollars than what you paid for it. Sell five items per day at a twenty-dollar profit per item, and you’ve pocketed a hundred dollars for probably just a couple of hours of work and a bit of driving.

#4: Share.

Do you have a truck? Advertise that you’ll help local people who are making a local move. I’ve read that you can make up to $40 an hour with this gig.

What about a vehicle you don’t use a lot? Offer it up for rent.

Ditto for living space – a guest house in the back, or even your basement that you’ve set up as an apartment. (Make sure you do your legal legwork before offering living spaces for rent.)

Do you have a “she-shed” in your backyard that doesn’t get as much use as you thought it might? How about renting it out as an office to someone in your area?

If you have large machines, such as tractors, or power tools that you don’t use often, you could offer those for rent, as well.

#5: Sell a service.

This could be one of the best ways to start making money in just a few hours. It’s also one of the most potentially lucrative side business ideas on this list.

First, figure out what skills you have that others might need. One way to determine this is to pay attention to your pet peeves, those which make that make you roll your eyes and make critical remarks because you know that if you were in charge, you would do it better!

For example, I notice every typo and grammatical error in the novels I read. They are rampant among the self-publishing community, but I’ve seen pretty bad editing jobs in traditionally published books, as well.

So if I desperately needed to make money yesterday, I’d hang my shingle out as a professional editor. How?

There are a few different ways. First, you can join a Facebook group that contains your target market. Second, you can post an ad on Craigslist, describing your services.

Finally, if you personally know either individuals or businesses who could both use and might pay for your service, you could contact them directly, right now. I recommend couching it in terms of, “I’ve decided to start a side business using my XYZ skills to help people to accomplish ABC. Do you know anybody who might need that service?”

What kind of skills and knowledge could translate to services, besides those related to writing? Graphic design, photography, health and fitness (as a coach), money management, home organization…the list goes on!

#6: Start a blog, a YouTube channel, or both.

These side business ideas require certain skill sets, but if they appeal to you and you don’t have the skills, don’t worry! If you don’t think you have the skill sets now, you can develop them with a little bit of research and some practice.

To make good money with either a blog or a YouTube channel, you need to either pick just the right niche or have a large following on social media and know that a good percentage of them will begin reading your blog or watching your videos simply because they like you.

Both blogs and YouTube videos can be monetized in a variety of ways. If you want to earn money from ads, you’ll have to wait several months to build up traffic on a blog, or for 1,000 subscribers to qualify for Google Adsense on YouTube (as of this writing; YouTube could change their mind on that at any moment).

You can also make money from affiliate income, selling your own products (including online courses), or asking people to support you via Patreon.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you select a popular niche, as well as that teach you the skills you need in order to be a successful blogger or YouTuber. Do  searches such as “best resources about making money blogging” or “how to grow a YouTube channel.”

Also, be advised that of all the side business ideas I’m sharing here, this is the one that requires the most time and patience to start earning an income from. That said, it’s the one that has the greatest income potential, because there is no ceiling. Many people have been able to quit their jobs after working on a blog or a YouTube channel for a year or two…and many of those end up making much more money than they ever could have if they had reached the top of their former career ladder!

But wait, there’s more!

There are many more side business ideas floating around out there. Three that I recommend you staying away from because of ethical issues are multi-level marketing, online surveys, and mystery shopping.

However, there are many other types of legit side businesses, some of which can eventually lead to a full-time income with you working far fewer than forty hours per week. Let the above six ideas be the jumping-off point so you can find a way to accelerate your journey toward your financial goals.


So many, many people want to learn how to be successful in life. They read books, listen to podcasts, even shell out big bucks to go to conferences in order to learn the secrets of success.

Somewhere, deep inside, they know that they can’t live a truly abundant life without success.

Of course, success is in the eye of the beholder, so let’s nail down that definition first.

What is success?

People today look at someone who makes a lot of money and who is climbing their career ladder and think, “That person is successful!” We’ve been brainwashed by corporate advertisers to have a preconceived notion of success.

But I think we all can agree that, by and large, success is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s drop the mainstream concept of success. Let’s forget about wealth and careers and broaden the definition. Let’s say that success is the achievement of a deeply desired goal that brings you fulfillment.

These goals can be related to money and career, sure, but they can also be related to relationships, health, hobbies, lifestyle, and so on. They can be goals that take only a few days to achieve, or goals that take years to achieve. They can be goals that you work on by yourself, or goals that you work toward with other people.

When these goals bring you a sense of fulfillment once you reach them, you are successful.

That established, what is this big key to success nobody wants to hear about?

My sad pea patch

I am an avid gardener. In fact, I’m working on producing most of the vegetables we eat, and – at least in the summer – a good number of the fruit. As a gardener, allow me to tell you the number one goal of every single plant on earth: to reproduce.

In a kitchen garden, all of the plants growing there reproduce via seeds.

As I’m writing this, my sugar snap pea plants look pretty pathetic. They grow tall, and even though they hook onto the trellis I provide with their tendrils, a strong wind can cause them to bend, even break.

Well, in the past two weeks we’ve had two storms that brought really strong winds. The winds broke one of the plants. Most of the rest of them are bent over.

But, here’s the crazy thing: they’re still growing pea pods. Looking at them,  you wouldn’t think enough nutrients and water would be able to get through the stems where they’ve bent.

But each plant has one goal, and one goal only: to produce peas, which are the seeds of the plant. So they’re doing it.

The question is, are they having an easy time of it? Probably not.

Which brings us to the big key to learning how to be successful in life…


Yep. If you want to be successful, regardless of your goal, you have to struggle.

Among the author community – both traditionally and Indie-published – there’s an ongoing joke about how it take ten years to become an overnight success in the business. The fact is, all the big-name authors out there were rejected by numerous agents and publishers with numerous manuscripts before they ever got published. And then, most of them had to write several novels before hitting a bestseller list.

The Indie publishing atmosphere requires just as much work, because authors have to constantly market just to keep their heads above the water. Most go through a steep – and sometimes painful – learning curve before they reach the point of making four- and five-figure incomes every month without having to spend hours every day on marketing strategies.

The same could be said for any career.

Consider the goal of raising children in a loving home with a life-long partner. If you’ve been married for more than a year, you know it’s a struggle to maintain a strong marriage relationship. And if you’ve been a parent for more than a day…well!

Fitness goals? Weight loss goals? Healthy eating goals? Struggle, struggle, struggle.

Don’t get me started on financial goals, such as getting out of debt or saving to buy your dream car with cash.

You might glimpse an idea of how to be successful in life when you get behind the scenes of the big YouTubers, the young people who get behind the camera every day and play out elaborate scripts. You have to know that they’re not living a stress-free life, or a life that’s nearly as fun or exciting as what you see on the screen. They have to struggle to continually create fresh content that will entice their subscribers.

How badly do you want it?

Now you see what I titled this post the way I did. Who wants to be told that the key to success is struggle? But that’s what it takes to achieve your deeply desired goals.

So I leave you with that age-old question: how badly do you want it?


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