Disclaimer

Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

30 January 2016

Commuting and Conferences

For the first post of the year, I thought I would share one of my projects for the year. 

We recently moved to New Jersey, which is one of the most amazing places that we could live. 

My commute is a very pretty drive with lots of great scenery. 






Since the drive is about an hour, I decided to download General Conference talks from the Gospel Library App. The talks are able to be downloaded starting in 1971, so I figured that gives me about 45 years to work with. At about 10 hours a week, that'll give me over a year to work with, which is nice as it will give me lots of different material to study and learn from. 

I started on April 1971 a week ago, and as they are a little longer back then, I finished it up in the middle of the week.

There's lots of good insights in them, and while I won't go into detail into each one, I will attempt to post some of my favorite highlights, or insights gained from it.

I look forward to sharing some thoughts with you, as I find things that help my understanding of daily life, and look forward to hearing some of your thoughts as well! 

Look for the next post coming soon! 


20 August 2015

The Book of Acts and International Growth/Risk (from a corporate perspective)

Response from the Professor: 
"Orion, that was an excellent coverage of an international risk. Class, are there other risks associated with this?  What are your thoughts?"                         
[Feel free to leave yours at the end] 
The Book of Acts and International Growth
 

 While studying for this week’s homework assignment, I also find myself preparing to teach my Sunday school lesson throughout the week as well, as is often the case. I am surprised that more often than not the subject matter is pleasantly similar. For example, the subjects I wish to discuss in this forum are the perils and challenges of international operations, and the subject that I am covering in Sunday School is the book of the Acts of the Apostles (in the New Testament), specifically chapters ten through fifteen which deal predominately with the challenge of a congregational or local organization that has been tasked with taking the message and ministry globally. While my personal experience in international business is limited, I see some similarities in what the early Christian church dealt with, and International businesses today. The subtle challenge to deal with is that often, current businesses are more geared to focus on profit maximization while the early church was more focused on establishing and sustaining a more mission focused strategy. This can still prove to be a helpful model, as many Non-profit organizations are effectively more focused on a sustainable mission rather than profit-bearing decisions and thus establishing a more unique set of risks (Michalski, 2012).

Some of the predominant struggles of an international focus may not seem to directly focus on financial decisions, but are still factors in the decision for growth strategies. Topics such as cultural diversity, standard operating procedures, economies of scale and scope, and the fear of existing competitors, as well as new entrants, are the concern of both the early Christian church, and businesses today. To go from one culture in Jerusalem, with its unique blend of different dialects and cultures and expanding to one that would include Greek, Roman, Ethiopian, and other cultures would go beyond merely understanding what is best for the whole group. Changes would need to be made that could accommodate the new locations while not losing the prior formation’s interest or passion. One of the greatest challenges of expansion is ensuring a new budget and balanced resources can meet the needs of the expanded presence. If the resources are spread too thin, they can become weak in certain areas; therefore, an effective means of keeping current assets at a manageable level becomes a driving factor for the organization (p. 361).

A struggle than can ensue in international growth, especially one that hopes to blend different opportunities, must also worry about leadership and hierarchy structures. What may have worked in one branch or area may not work in another. Chapter fifteen of Acts mentions the covenant of circumcision as a ‘regulation’ to belong to the organization, but as they expanded to the ‘Gentile’ nations, this requirement was discussed, revealed, and rescinded for the additional proselytes (while still giving them specific requirements that they would need to meet). This may also be the case when multiple currencies of different nations are involved. One may be the predominant currency with it’s associated rates and risks, and the less dominant one may struggle to keep up. While there are such balances as Purchasing Power Parity to keep finances in check, there can still be some risks involved, or a more relative approach rather than absolute (Ross, et al, 2013). These types of concerns may differ depending on the industry, but they are still there (Greenwald, 2012).

Political challenges must be dealt with as well, as the organization must provide the social responsibility of benefiting the culture with which they hope to assimilate (Rammohan, 2010, See also Ross, et al, 2013). Rammohan discusses the need to smooth over the process, understand the culture, and discuss why the organization can benefit the community. The early church dealt with this risk in excess. There were constant feuds with both religious leaders as well as political figures such as Herod and King Agrippa. The church sought to visit with the leaders directly, built on common ground when possible, and taught in the synagogues and places of worship offered to them. This particular risk can be the most difficult as regulations and legal matters often slow or stop progress, as well as stagnant international growth. It is interesting to see from the examples in Acts that each region would react differently. Some would be more accepting, some would seek certain favors or benefits in return, while others would outwardly reject them. The organization was the same, but acclimating to each culture is what provided the different responses.

In managing these risks, the leaders of the church eventually needed to change the base of operations to a more conducive environment. While this situation may not always work, it is certainly feasible to assess different reactions to various locations to ensure proper acclimation. Some industries offer Beta testing while many restaurants change various elements to their menu to accommodate each region differently. As far as helping with different currency risks and parity, it would be a crucial element of the financial team to ensure that the correct methods of accounting are maximized to account for various international challenges such as interest rates, exchange rates, and spot prices. Just as the international church was able to communicate effectively to expand growth, mitigate risk, and assess changes (Such as letters or other official forms of communication), so to must the international business of today communicate, adapt, and expand to meet the needs of an international community.
           

               References

GREENWALD, J. (2012). Regulatory risks differ by industry. Business Insurance, 46(4), 10.

MICHALSKI, G. (2012). OPERATING CYCLE AND NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS 
EFFICIENCY. Economics, Management & Financial Markets, 7(4), 360-376.

Rammohan, S. (2010). Fueling Growth. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 8(3), 68-71.

Ross, S. A., Westerfield, R. W., & Jordan, B. D. (2013). Fundamentals of corporate finance (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

17 August 2015

Participation Trophies as seen from a type B coach

So, there's a news story going around, or more so someone famous tweeting something and everyone either cheering or disdaining that tweet, which I think is interesting and possibly a controversial subject: Participation trophies. Some are especially praiseworthy of the tweet, as seen here http://louderwithcrowder.com/steelers-player-james-harrison-wants-his-sons-to-grow-into-men-will-return-participation-trophies/

So basically James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers found out his children received participation trophies for a sporting activity (I'm assuming football, although it is one of many moderately important details of the narrative that are lacking thus far).

This post is probably one that would be deemed controversial for me to write about since the above mentioned article says that this would enrage liberals and such, of which I typically don't characterize myself. But I do find issue with the articles and the tweet, and not just because I'm a Ravens fan and don't like the Steelers at all. 

When I say issue, I am of course not enraged or plan on fighting free speech or anything like that: obviously he can say and do whatever he wants to raise his family and I'm none the worse for wear. I do not like, however, the idea that all participation recognition is bad. If his kids were in their 10th year of the sport, or something that was competition or tournament based, by all means, recognizing everyone who participated would be a bit redundant. 

Although this may come as a shock to some, recieving a blanket trophy does not make the kids think they have won.

I coach soccer for U5-U6 kids (the ones where we don't "keep score" and where everyone on each team gets a trophy). Aghast! I know. Save your comments for the end. When I started coaching over a year ago, I probably wondered how not keeping scores and everyone receiving a trophy would effect everyone. I am also closely identify with Type B more than type A personalities, so I wasn't having Two-a-days in the rain with 5 year olds. We would just "do our best". But guess what? Those kids all knew what the score was and who "lost" even though adults weren't always telling them. I would tell them the score if they asked, but honestly they would keep track better than me sometimes (because coaching and refereeing 5-6 year olds is daunting). 

Which brings a new point. I gave the trophies for a variety of reasons. Besides the league asking me to, I realized the growth that these kids would achieve by playing. We were asking 5-6 year old kids to participate in a sport that many hadn't played before with people that they've never met on days and nights that they would probably rather be doing other things (Saturday morning every week?).

The author above compared jobs to sports saying that he's never gotten "good job accolades" at his job. But guess what? I'm sure he got paid for his job. I'm sure there were some perks to it (although comparing his life to children's is odd, because he probably doesn't still get his lunch packed for him, or have people but his clothes for him, but maybe he does). The only accolades that come from participating in some sports are fruit and Popsicles at the end of the game and during breaks, as well as a reminder of an awesome season of learning new skills, meeting new people, and winning a few games. 

While some wouldn't said "doing your best" should be rewarded, I like coming to work because I like to get paid. There are other benefits, but that's a nice perk. Getting paid is synonymous with keeping a job, and recognizes that individual for what they have done. So do "participation trophies". Kids don't get paid to be there, they spend money, time, effort, and extra sandwiches every week to do something that they chose to do (or that their parents are having them do to fulfill unfulfilled dreams of being a superstar and getting to college on a scholarship). 

So before we speak down to the kids, assuming they think that a trophy is synonymous with winning (because the five year olds picked up on that), it's a way to recognize hard work, dedication, skillsets, social skills, and not playing video games, which are all things I want my children to pick up on, and why as a coach I will always offer whatever I can to recognize them. 

True competition is more than being better than everyone else, it's about being better than your prior self. 

#GoRavens




14 August 2015

Peter and Paul; a pattern for leadership (Part 1)

I'm a fan of a couple things when it comes to reading. I like underdogs, patterns, origin stories, and thinking about characters and people who don't get a lot of attention (Mr. Fezziwig from 'A Christmas Carol is a personal favorite). 

The scriptures contain glimpses of people who are main elements to the narrative, but can seem overshadowed by later individuals. Studying the Gospels and the Book of Acts, I have noticed Peter quite a bit.

While some give him a bad rap sometimes, he is a vital and powerful leader who helped establish the Church into a global model after Christ was resurrected [see http://www.lds.org/manual/the-life-and-teachings-of-jesus-and-his-apostles/appendix-section/appendix-d?lang=eng by Pres. Kimball and The Lengthening Shadow of Peter 

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/09/the-lengthening-shadow-of-peter?lang=eng

By Brother Holland (Dean of Religious Education at BYU at the time) for some great insight into how amazing Peter is, despite some faults that are thrust upon him].

Peter is interesting because he is bookmarked between two dynamic characters (namely Christ and Paul) which full a good amount of the New Testament. His powerful testimony is seen strongly in the beginnings of Acts and holds the Keys of revelation and leadership to lead the church. The church grows from somewhat of a congregational setting or loca/tabernacle oriented and into a global focus that focuses on different cultures and establishing doctrine within a variety of frameworks. 

I like characters like this because the small amount of teachings they give us are precious and impactful. Prophets like Lehi and Alma the Elder are similar to me.  Lehi had some amazing teachings in the eary part of the Book of Mormon but we can often move past his narrative to get to Nephi's, which is more lengthy and spread out. A favorite discussion on the emphasis of Lehi's Ministry can be seen here: 

We think of him as an older man, patiently waiting on his children to grow and learn the gospel, but as a younger prophet he moves emphatically and establishes a pattern of discipleship for those over whom he had stewardship.

Alma sr. Has a similar background. We see the record of his son with greater emphasis in the middle of the Book of Mormon but the establishment of the church in his day was brought about through him, and the doctrines, keys, and teachings he brought forth, while smaller in size, are rich in insights, especially regarding leadership (both family and ecclesiastical) as well as personal worship. 

As we study the scriptures, we hear the names of Lehi, Alma sr. And Peter, but often we read them as a prelude to the works and teachings of Nephi, Alma jr. And Paul. While not diminishing the importance of the latter examples, it is beneficial to recognize the importance of the ministries of the former patriarchs and prophets and focus on the emphasis that their specific ministries had on building the Kingdom of God.

How have the ministries of those prophets benefits your personal ministry and worship?

09 August 2015

Beyond the Gospels: the Book of Acts, or Luke part 2

We started discussing Acts in Gospel Doctrine today, and after starting with the introduction of Luke (both to Theophilus, "lover of God" -- Theo meaning God, and Philo meaning a type of love) I realized that Luke is a great compiler, correlator, and recorder of witnesses.

 His major testimony seems to focus on those who have already heard the gospel and likely accepted it, so his teachings of the mission of Christ focus more as a church handbook, mentioning frequently the principle of mercy, many teachings regarding the Shepherd and correctly watching over the flock, and church leadership. 

Moving into Acts was a natural continuing of his record in that sense because the book of Acts is not merely an historical record or a journal or biographical scetch of their lives but a continuation of the record of the church to the church. It records the gifts, blessings, and signs that follow them that believe, and acts as a reflection of a courtroom between those who believed in Christ and those who did not. 

An interesting transition happens in that the burden of proof seems to shift. Those against Jesus were needing him to die in order that the testator would no longer be able to testify. Those for Jesus needed Him to die also, in part and of great importance to do so to fulfill the atonement and provide the redeeming effort to overcome death and sin. It also needed to happen in order that the blood of the testator could seal the testimony that had been given. 

[for more information on the role of a testator compared to the role of a martyr, see an interesting article by Taylor Halverson: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/to-seal-the-testimony-dc-135/

One of my favorite parts includes the following:

In this regard, those against Jesus were concerned because the works that they hoped would only be contained in the person of Jesus (His miracles, healings, teachings, and power) but after His death, the works of God continued in greater power. Peter would testify strongly that All could now call on the name of the Lord and partake of the atonement without the intercession of the high priest.

 Previous to this, the name of Jehovah would only be uttered in the temple once a year but here was Peter proclaiming that all can call on the name of Jesus (a lengthier discussion of this is in the Mormon Interpreter Gospel Doctrine Roundtable of the first block in Acts-I believe number 125-6). This was not to take the place of ordinances because in the same chapter (Acts 2) he proclaimed that all who felt the "pricking in the heart" of the Holy Ghost would need to repent and be baptized and then receive the fulness of the Gift of Holy Ghost as they had just received during Pentecoast. 

The end of chapter 2 mentions the blessings and responsibilities of those who join the church: 

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.


They continued to listen to the Doctrine of Christ taught by the Apostles and the revelations set forth by them to lead the church. They would also fellowship, pray, break bread (partake of the sacrament), they would hold fear (reverence and respect) for the Holy things of God, and see and receive many signs and wonders by the apostles (t). They would hold the concept of unity, striving for a "Zion" mentality wherein there would be no poor among them (that's a whole discussion in itself but for a good conversation on it, see Steven C Harper:

The saints (members of the church) would give of their time visiting the homes of each member (serving, teaching), their talents and financial means as available, and they would call upon God and praise Him individually and as a church, and thus the church grew.

Lots more in the following chapters, but a great start to the remainder of the Bible beyond the gospels. 

What are your favorite parts of the Book of Acts?

06 August 2015

3 important things to learn in life

If I could teach three concepts to people regarding education it would be this:

1. Dont go to school for something you're passionate about. Go to school for something that enhances what you're passionate about. You'll focus on what you're passionate about regardless. 

2. Don't worry about listening to everything people have to say. Sometimes it may not be what you need right now. 

3. Repitition can serve two purposes. It can be redundant or informative. It's up to you to choose how to utilize it.

3. Repitition can serve two purposes. It can be redundant or informative. It's up to you to choose how to utilize it.




23 July 2015

The Power of Premeditated Prayer, Part II (Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25)

I was realizing that my very first blog post was around this time, four years ago. That post, "the Power of premeditated prayer" was a reflection of thoughts as a learner in Sunday school. This past week, I had the opportunity to cycle back through that particular block of scripture, but this time as a teacher (as well as a learner). 

The significance of the Savior's mission has expanded greatly since that post. I have been able to teach the Old Testament, as well as current Church History, since then. Seeing the power of the faithful covenant-keepers in the Old Testament (as well as those who struggled) and their faith in a redeemer, the Lord's constant desire to draw His people close to him, and the promise of redemption, culminated in the last week of the life of Jesus Christ. The power of the meaning behind the various festivals (discussed in an earlier post) and the love and power that Jesus taught to his disciples are seen in strong relief in the week of the suffering in the garden (initiating the atonement by being reckoned with the transgressors) and the crucifixion.

The prayer in the Garden was a focal point in the lesson, just as it was in looking at it four years ago. I found a few additional points of interest in the process. Peter, who was commanded to strengthen his brethren after being converted, brings questions about what true conversion is, and what the fruits of it are. He finds the trusted three (Peter, James, and John) asleep three times during his suffering in the Garden (known as the place of the olive press, significantly). He asked them to stay awake more than once, knowing that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Before we judge them too harshly, we must ask ourselves what we have slept through when the Lord has asked us to do something. Are not those tasks just as simple in many occasions? "Stay awake and Pray" "stay awake and study My word" and "stay awake and love one another"

There is a recent general conference address called "sleeping through the restoration" and questions similar to the ones above are mentioned. "Awakening and arising" are the first part to true conversion. He calls Peter out specifically in the Garden to stay awake. 

In the original post, the primary focus was on the ability to pray with purpose, and in a place that is familiar, or where one is used to communing with God. This is significant, and an additional insight comes in John 18:2. We can and should be prepared to feel revelation, but the adversary also knows our hopes to commune, and will either prevent us from so doing, or will attempt to attack us in the moment of our hope. Jesus was able to be fortified by Angels (symbolizing the Aaronic Priesthood, caring for the temporal needs) and the Apostles (signifying the Melchizedek Priesthood, or
Administrating the spiritual needs) and through the power of Christ, eventually overcame the adversary, the final enemy being death.

We can gain strength in overcoming adversity as we partake of similar ministering. Honoring covenants given through the Aaronic priesthood such as baptism and the sacrament, and the Melchizedek through following the prompting of the Spirit and the Temple.