Thursday, January 11, 2018

Which Bible Translation? KJV? NIV? NLT? NASB?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

~Matthew 7:24 (NIV)

I often run across debates, many of which become heated, over which translation of the Holy Bible is the best and most accurate.  There are many translations of the Holy Bible, the most commonly used is the King James Version (KJV).  My church uses the New International Version (NIV), and that's the one I prefer to read.

But considering the state of our world today, shouldn't the focus be to encourage people to pick up the Holy Bible and spend time reading it, instead of focusing on which translation they prefer?

Just read it!

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Importance Of A Good Reputation

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, 
and only one bad one to lose it.”

~Benjamin Franklin

One thing that was pounded into young men in my generation was the importance of building a good reputation.  It’s hard work, because your reputation is the public reflection of your character.  It is what other people see and come to believe about your character.  It’s based on what you do.  It’s based on what you say.  It’s based on how you act.  It’s based on how you treat other people, and how you make other people feel.  There are few things more important than reputation when it comes to our success, or our failure as a person. It can take years to build a reputation—it can take mere seconds to destroy it.  It is something we should be very deliberate about building, and very careful about protecting because it is the essence of who we are.  And it’s very difficult to rebuild a reputation after you’ve allowed it to become tarnished.

I don’t deserve the reputation I have. 

I hear that a lot.  It’s very rarely ever true.  You see, you can have a few people in your life that have an unfavorable opinion of you.  Everyone does.  But your reputation is what most people that know you think of you.  If you have a reputation of being opinionated and outspoken, chances are you’re opinionated and outspoken.  If you have a reputation for being undependable, you’re probably undependable.  Sometimes people don’t think that’s fair—but reputation is based on a very sound principle.  It’s based on your past behavior, and any employer or supervisor will tell you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. 

I’m going to to say what I want to say, and do what I want to do, and I don’t really care what other people think. 

I hear that a lot, too.  Sounds very tough and defiant, but actually it’s a childish attitude to have.  That selfish and narcissistic attitude demonstrates a complete lack of care or concern for other people—most specifically those that love you and care about you.  Your reputation reflects on you, sure, but you don’t think it also reflects on your spouse?  On your kids?  Your family?  Your community?  Your church?  Your fraternity?  Your employer?  You’ve never heard anybody say, “she’s a real nice lady, but her husband is a real jerk.”  You’ve never heard somebody say, “I don’t know why he hangs around with that guy—he’d steal the shirt right off your back.”  Of course you have.  Your actions affect everyone around you whether that’s your intention or not. 

Building a solid reputation is hard, because it requires an amazing amount of self discipline.  It requires us to learn from our mistakes and not continue to repeat them—those are the lessons that mature into wisdom eventually.  It requires us to learn when it is important for us to speak, and when it’s better to remain silent.  It requires us to to listen to others, and respect their point of view.  It requires us to admit when we are wrong, and to apologize when it’s appropriate.  It requires us to be truthful and honest in all of our dealings.  It requires us to do the things we say we’re going to do regardless of how difficult the task may be. 

Men of good reputation and solid character used to be more common than they are today.  We don’t teach the value of it anymore.  Our society is so focused inward on ourselves, and our own selfish needs.  We are a society of grown children, fighting and arguing on social media just like children used to fight and argue on the playground.  We’ve never grown up and become men, because we haven’t had the role models.  And just like children, we don’t think about what we’re saying, and we don’t think about what our words and actions are saying about us. 

We’d all be better off if we worked a lot harder at building ourselves as decent human beings rather than focusing so intently on satisfying our selfish needs.  And those of us who are able should focus on not only modeling those honorable character traits, but teaching others to be men of good character.  Men of good report.  Men of unquestioned reputation.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Unchanging Light of Freemasonry

Bannack State Park, Montana-- Historic Masonic Lodge
I added an old book on Freemasonry to my collection over the weekend, and I was thumbing through it.  It was from the turn of the last century, and it was collection of essays on Freemasonry written by some of the fraternity's leading Masonic researchers and scholars of that time.  I use these old books a lot when I research ideas for an article or a blog post.  My wife asked me one time why I'd use such old books in my research.  "Aren't those books a little outdated?"

No, they are not.  Very little changes in Freemasonry.

There's something comforting in knowing you are part of a fraternity whose values and morals remain the same in an ever changing world--that the same values that George Washington held in high regard are still valued today by that same group of men.  Some might argue that the fraternity is outdated.  I disagree.  There are some time-honored tenets that do not change over time.  How we should represent ourselves to the world does not change.  How we should treat others.  Honesty and integrity are rare today, but still valued amongst Masons.  The hallmarks of good character have not changed over time.  How to harness and put our talents and skills to their best use hasn't changed over time.  That desire to improve ourselves--to learn from our mistakes and constantly strive to become better men has remained important to men for centuries.

Those things will never become outdated, and the further society drifts from these core fundamental principles, the more men will seek them out within the walls of a Masonic Lodge.

~Todd E. Creason

originally published 11/4/14

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

John Wayne's Last Great Honor

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara on the set of Big Jake in 1971
"Sure I wave the American flag.  
Do you know a better flag to wave?" 

~John Wayne
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56, Arizona

I was shopping in a local antique store recently, when I ran across something interesting.  Two large bronze medallions featuring John Wayne framed in two dark wood frames against a dark brown felt backing.  My wife made it pretty clear she thought they were ugly and they certainly wouldn't be gracing the walls of the living room.  I had to get them anyway.  The antique store didn't know what they were, but I sure did.  I had told the story about these "medallions" in my first book Famous American Freemasons.  In fact, the chapter on John Wayne was the first chapter I wrote in that book.  You see, these aren't just "medallions."  Let me tell you the story . . .

In 1976, John Wayne began filming the movie The Shootist.  It is a film about an aging gunfighter, J.B. Books, who learns from the local physician, played by Jimmy Stewart, that he is dying of cancer.  He decides that rather than die in bed, he was going out in a blaze of glory--and he was going to take a few really bad dudes with him.  And what a great cast!  Jimmy Stewart.  Lauren Bacall.  Harry Morgan.  Ronnie Howard.  Richard Boone.  John Carradine. 

The irony of that script was that John Wayne really was dying of cancer.  Although he didn't know it at the time, The Shootist would be the Duke's last movie.  His health was failing when he took the role, and it got worse as they filmed.  It was uncertain he would be able to finish it.  He was gone off the set for long periods of time . . . first one week, and then two.  But finishing that film was important to the Duke and he was determined to do so.  And with the help of the director and the assistance of the cast, he did just that.  Despite terminal stomach cancer, he finished what many believe to be one of his best screen roles.

By 1979, Hollywood knew their favorite leading man was about out of time.  A delegation of some of the best actors in Hollywood, including John Wayne's favorite leading lady, Maureen O'Hara, flew to Washington, D.C. and testified before Congress that they felt John Wayne should be honored for his contributions to America.  Congress agreed and awarded John Wayne the Congressional Gold Medal on his 72nd birthday on May 26, 1979.  The Congressional Gold Medal featured John Wayne on horseback on one side, and his portrait on the other accompanied by the words that Maureen O'Hara suggested before Congress--the United States Mint liked the simplicity of her words and used them.  Her words said everything that needed to be said.  The medal designed for John Wayne states simply "John Wayne - American."

Great story, huh?

They look a little better the way I framed them . . .
I was happy to stumble on a set of these bronze castings of John Wayne's Congressional Gold Medal finally.  They do look dramatically different since I re-framed them than they did when Valerie and I first saw them.  And it doesn't happen very often, but Valerie was wrong--these are hanging on the living room wall.  She hung them there! 

~Todd E. Creason

originally published 5/26/15

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