Yes, that is a new word that has yet to find its way into Webster’s dictionary, but is being used as a defense by some who find themselves beyond the realm of boundaries.  "Affluenza" is a term used for those that suffer from being extremely affluent, wealthy beyond just rich I guess, to the point of not following what we would call common sense guidelines.  If you haven’t heard of this yet then read about the defense team for a 16 year old who had killed four people and left two others seriously injured in Texas while driving drunk: Prior to sentencing, a psychologist called by the defense, Dr. G. Dick Miller,  testified that [Ethan] Couch's life could be salvaged with one to two years' treatment and no contact with his parents.  Miller said Couch's parents gave him "freedoms no young person should have.”  He called Couch a product of "affluenza”, where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.  He said Couch got whatever he wanted.  As an example, Miller said Couch's parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then 15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old girl.  Miller also pointed out that Couch was allowed to drive at age 13.  He said the teen was emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.”

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Know God

"This is what the Lord says: "Don't let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.  But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!"  (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 "The heart cannot exult in what the mind rejects."  This quote by Dr. Stephen Myers pretty much sums up what the prophet Jeremiah said.  Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, will find our worth in one of  three world views: wisdom, intelligence or education; athletics, art or politics; or security in career and position.  As I finish writing I know I've left out other good descriptions that you may have too, but for space constraints let's just look at these.  And let's remember that God has fashioned us to have intellect and wisdom, given us other special gifts to accomplish amazing things, and given us an abundance of resources to bless and be a blessing monetarily and with our time and talents.  All of these are good things as long as we remember that they're not the ultimate things that define us or give us worth.

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Looking Forward to a New Year

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him"  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

As we start into 2014 we are reminded that with Christ, people are continually becoming new.  Regardless of date or time or any of those things we gauge our existence by, we see in Jesus a fresh beginning each and every day.  What an awesome new year we have because any year, month, day or moment is exceptional and amazing as long as we are in Christ and He in us!  I hope and pray that during this year you'll see the potential to touch as many lives as possible in bringing the hope and love of Christ to a hurting and lost world!  He is blessing us so we can bless others - a never ending stream of Grace that is continually poured into us so we can in turn pour into the lives of others.

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Slow Down and Celebrate the Light!

As I write this article we are a week away from what used to be the beginning of the holiday season.  Can you still remember when Christmas decorations weren't put out until after Thanksgiving?  Now Halloween has to compete with the beginning of the shopping season.  Before you know it July 4th will be the beginning of the Christmas season.  Oh yeah, they're already doing that.  Why is there such a rush?  What's happened to just enjoying the particular season we're in instead of ushering in the next one way too soon?  Are we that consumed with getting things under way that we've lost the ability to just live in the moment?

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We are fast approaching cooler temperatures, and fall will soon become winter.  It reminds me of a time in my life when something else marked this time of year, Deer Season!  More specifically Gun Deer Season!  It was a family tradition that during the fall season those of us who hunt would gather at my grandmother's house, called the Pink House, to carry on what we and those before had done for several years.  My uncle referred to it as thinning the herd down, and as a farmer he appreciated the help as we tried to fill our freezers with venison.  My Daddy and his brothers and my brother and cousins and nephews and aunts and others in the family would converge on those acres of woods and fields of crops to take part.  It was early mornings and sometimes late nights when we shared stories of the ones we got and the ones that got away.  We helped each other track and clean and advise on where to go and not go.  It's what we did and it was a tradition that we shared for several years.

Read more: Legacy

Don't Be Deceived

We just had master illusionist Harris III visit our community to perform at school assemblies and an evening event for everyone.  His message to the students and adults was clear, "Don't be deceived!"  He reminded us of how we are bombarded with over 4000 messages a day via several avenues telling us we'll be happy and complete if we do this or wear that or drive their car or look this way.  His illusions were, as he told us, tricks of diverting your attention or tricks on your senses, and he was very good at it.  He was very honest that what he was doing were tricks and that he had no special powers and could not read minds.  Harris was skilled at his craft but he knew that there is an ultimate truth that sets us free.

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I recently watched a video of Ashton Kutchar's acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards.  It was somewhat of a surprise to see and hear that over the years he has learned that life is a gift.  It may have been his recent work on the movie about Steve Jobs life or maybe it's just who he has always been but afraid to share.  Whatever the reason, I believe that the advice he gave to those watching was good advice, but he left out one major component.  God was never mentioned, even though all that he said were principles that God has given us.  I'm not hating on Ashton, or Chris as he revealed was his name for 19 years of his life before acting became his new and full time profession.

Read more: Identity