Friday, January 3, 2014

My View On Rich Pastors! Hmm...this should be interesting.

Recently I saw this Facebook post on a friends wall:

I was not surprised by the responses that he got for posting it. I won't copy and paste the responses but basically they were rants about how they can't stand pastors who drive around fancy cars, live in fancy houses, take expensive vacations to the Bahamas and wear expensive jewelry while many in the congregations that are paying their salary live in modest homes and can't afford a vacation in the U.S. let alone one to another country. One even commented something like "that's prosperity gospel for you". \

I have seen these types of posts before and have done much thinking about this type thing. First of all, the Bible, contrary to popular belief, does not say that money is the root of all evil but in 1 Timothy 6:10 says this:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I could have quoted that verse but I am not sure if quoting verses would have done much good with the folks that I was responding to. So I tried another approach. I tried to reason a little with them. I know! I know! My wife says that whenever I start responding to comments mad by folks that differ with me in any way it doesn't go well. However, I did it anyway. I did some research on Joel Osteen and started to respond and the more I wrote the more I thought to myself that this is turning into a blog post. So, since, I have been thinking about resurrecting my poor forgotten blog anyway, and since I figured a lot of folks might be surprised at my response due to the fact that I work with low income folks, I decided to post my response on my blog. So, here it is, with just a few changes to remove names of the folks I was responding to and to correct some grammatical errors.

***** and ***** (the removed names) You do realize that Joel Osteen takes no salary from his church, does not ask for money on television, lives pretty much solely on his book deals, and gives millions of dollars to charity a year don't you. And that's just him personally. I'm not talking about the different ministries to the homeless and poor in both the United States and around the world that his church has and supports. 

On the other hand, there is a pastor in my small town that receives 80% of the offering that comes in and, in the past five years, has gone to the Bahamas twice. Oh, but perhaps I should mention that his church is a fairly new church, has a total congregation of 60, and that he has another job as does his wife. The two trips made to the Bahamas? They were gifts given to him by a friend that lives in the Bahamas. Neither one of those times, though, did he feel the need to stand up, wave his arms and make it public that the trips were paid for by a friend and not by the church (although there were many in the community that thought that). I didn't expect him to because, quite frankly, it was nobody's business but God's, his and the friend that paid for the trip. The only reason I know is because I am a good friend of the pastor. 

There are preachers that are on TV that have done wrong and many that haven't. There are politicians (on both sides of the aisle) that have done wrong and many that haven't. There are business people, corporate people, sports people, poor people, rich people name it...that have misled folks and done wrong but most don't. If I don't like what a business does, I don't support that business. If I don't like what a personality does. I don't watch his shows or buy his books. If I am going to a church and I don't like what's being done with the money, I don't put money in the offering plate, but do try to get on the finance committee or complain to someone that is. I have a choice.

Now, to compare. Our current president just took his umpteenth vacation to Hawaii (just as his predecessors took vacations except maybe not to Hawaii). He is also worth millions and last year's public disclosure forms said that he owed between $500,000 and $1 million on a 30 year mortgage on his home so I would assume that his home is worth around $1 mil. Yet his previous job was as a community organizer who wanted to help people. I wonder how he got his money. Did he dupe anyone? No, he got most of his money from speaking engagements and his books. However, his vacations are pretty much all tax payer funded (Just as the vacations of all presidents are. I'm not trying to pick on anyone). But, while I have a choice as to whether I buy his books or attend his speaking engagements, I don't have a choice as to whether I am going to fund his vacations. I wonder what would happen if I decided I didn't like the way my tax money was being spent and that I wasn't going to pay my taxes this year. 

And don't get me started on the fact that you think that a million dollar home is just too much. Well, I happen to direct a ministry to low income families that live in the projects in my town. I live in a very modest, way under $100,000 home. Most of the people that live in the projects would just love to live in my home. Maybe I should sell it and spread the wealth so that we could all live in a $10,000 shack. For that matter, how much is your home worth? $100,000? $200,000? More? Boy would I like that! You have way too much compared to them. How about selling your house and sharing some with me and the people in the projects and we can all  live in shacks. Some better than they lived in before and, poor you and me, some not as nice as they lived in before. After all, shouldn't it be the goal of all mankind, religious folks or not, to serve others and want better for others? So shouldn't we all just sell all that we have and practice what we preach? 

That sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it? Would you do that? Maybe a million dollar house is a little extravagant but where do you draw the line? No matter how little you have there are always going to be people worse off in this world that have less and, compared to them, you are rich. Believe it or not, most pastors that live in wealthy homes don't dupe their congregations to get the money. Are some dishonest? Yes, but, as we said before there are some dishonest folks in every profession. If we find out that someone is dishonest in any profession we have a choice - report them if they are doing something illegal or just don't support them or buy their products if we just don't like what they are doing with their money. Other than that, when you realize that most of these people that are wealthier than us are giving far more than we ever could to good causes maybe we should lay off of them a little bit. Let them do what they feel is right for their fellow man and let us do what we feel that we can.

So, that was it. What do you all think? Am I way off base? Trust me, I've been way off base before and I'm sure I will be again. Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. Are all wealthy pastors wrong? Should there be a line drawn? If so, where should that line be? Before you write, though, let me just tell you that, even though I feel that Joel Osteen and other wealthy people should be allowed to do what they wish with their money I am in no way condoning or not condoning what he or any other pastor preaches. We can save that discussion for another day. I'm just wondering if you think a pastor, or any Christian for that matter, should be wealthy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh My Goodness! I've Been Nominated Again!


Thank you so much to the folks who nominated me!

For those who are visiting my blog trying to decide who to vote for this year, my wife, Sarah, and I, Tim, are full time missionaries who work with low income folks in a small town in northern Tennessee near the Kentucky border. We have three fantastic but unique boys - John Allen is 17 and is a cancer survivor with an artificial eye, Joshua is 12 and has aspergers syndrome, and Jacob is 7 and is developmentally delayed and is also on the autism spectrum. Life is very exciting and, needless to say, there is never a dull moment in our household.

Recently, however, life has been a little more exciting than we have wanted it to be. We were very blessed to be able to travel and minister this summer as a family for six weeks. Right before we left, our middle child, Joshua, had a severe panic attack. We were hoping and praying that it was just a one time thing, but, unfortunately it has not turned out that way. He has had several more since then and has also had other disturbing things happen to him such as shortness of breath, and unusual tics that he did not have before. Recently, his occupational therapist came to us and mentioned that she noticed some things as well and that he was actually digressing in therapy instead of progressing. We have had quite an ordeal trying to find what the problem is. Around the same time as all of this started to happen he switched medications and, ugh, also hit puberty, so it could be a number of things that are causing the problems.

I mention all of this not only for the plea for prayer, but also to give an explanation as to why I have not been blogging as much recently. We have had to give up many of the things that we have loved to do in order to care for Joshua and to give extra time to our other two children in order that they not feel left out. Recently I had to resign from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew and had to say "no" to other blogging opportunities because I just do not have the time. I have not given up blogging totally, but it has had to take a back seat to some other crucial things for the time being.

I do thank you for visiting my blog and for your vote if you should choose to vote for Families Again instead of one of the other fantastic Dad blogs that have been nominated this year. Please have a look around and click on some of the labels listed to the right to read some of my past blog posts. Thank you again for visiting. God Bless.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yes, I Am Among the Living!

The boys at the Peterborough Zoo in Canada.

In fact, all of us are among the living. Unfortunately I haven't been blogging as much as I should, however. Let me catch you up on a few things that have been going on in the Tinkel household. 

Yes, we had our big travel adventure this summer and loved it. We thank God everyday for allowing us to experience all of the things that we did this summer. I am still planning on catching you up with our adventures in the near future. However, right before our trip began, we found that we would have to change some of the medications that our two autistic children take. It seems that there was (and still is) a nationwide shortage of the meds that they were previously on. To top it all off, our middle child has hit the big "p" word...puberty. That has really thrown him and us for a loop. Having asperger's syndrome is bad enough for a child, but when the hormone changes and the mood swings hit it can get a bit overwhelming for a child on the autism spectrum. Things have happened with poor Joshua and we don't know if it is the change in meds or the body and chemical changes that are causing them. While on our summer travels he had two major panic attacks and a few minor ones. Thankfully, since being home, they have slowed down, but he still breaths very heavily and slouches a lot. We have been to the doctor several times now and all seems to be okay, but it is still concerning.

When we got home from our ministry travels we decided that we wanted to declutter our home. We just have too many things! Not that we are hoarders or anything like that, but, when you live in the same house for 13 years you tend to collect things. We enjoyed being able to pick-up and leave when God opened the door for us to travel and minister and we realized that we didn't need all of those extras. Besides that, we had a work group coming to help us do some fix-up things in the house and mission so we needed to get ready for them. So we rented a storage shed and spent two weeks sorting, cleaning, throwing away, boxing up, hauling to the storage name it and we did it. We are really pleased with the results, but we still have a long way to go. 

God has also opened up a door for us to supplement our missionary income on a very part time basis, so we have been busy in that area as well.

Unfortunately, all of the things mentioned above along with other family issues such as Sarah's mom recovering from cancer treatment and Sarah's grandmother getting older, have taken a toll on our nerves and our time. We realized that something had to give and, after much prayer, we decided that we had to make some hard choices. Choices that were very painful and resulted in many tears. One of those choices was to, hopefully temporarily, drop off of the TOS Review Crew. It is something that we have been involved with and loved for the past five years and had no intention of stopping. However, it was time to give it up for at least a short period. I was unable to keep up with everything that was required and I didn't feel that I was doing a quality job. We do miss it. We have made many lifelong friends from being on the review crew, and have been introduced to products that we would have never known about nor tried without being involved in this wonderful organization. As I said, though, we are praying that it is only temporary and we will be able to rejoin the crew in the future. 

Our mission work, homeschooling and blogging are not something that are on the table to give up, though. We love being full time missionaries and, unless God shows us clearly he wants us to change directions, we are continuing to direct Good News Mission. We also do not intend to stop homeschooling. Although we know many of the public school teachers in our area and love them dearly, I feel that our two youngest would fall through the cracks in public school. We also couldn't be as flexible in our ministry and our travels if we were tied down to a regular school schedule. Blogging, even though it has slowed down, is not going to stop either. I love to blog and feel that it has really stretched me and made me grow. It has been very therapeutic and a lot of fun for me to be able to do this. It has also opened many doors (i.e. the TOS Review Crew) for our family.

So, although you won't see as many product reviews from me (there still may be some), Families Again is not going away. For now it is here to stay! Talk to you again soon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Know What it Takes to be the President? Play The Presidential Game - A TOS Review Crew Review

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I have always been fascinated with history and politics. I don't know why. Maybe in my mind they go together a little bit. Maybe it's because my dad was a big history buff. Maybe it's because many major historical events happened when I was a youngster - the Bicentennial, the race to the moon and the first men on the moon, Watergate, etc. Whatever the case is, I love everything about history and politics. My wife moans when a new presidential election cycle begins. I am pretty much glued to the TV watching debates, speeches, campaign coverage and cheering for my favorite candidate.

Because of my fascination with politics and the presidential election, when I found out that we would be receiving The Presidential Game to review, I was thrilled. 

When you play The Presidential Game you actually learn what it takes to become the president of the United States. Oh, okay, you don't have to make any stump speeches or shake hands and kiss babies, but you do learn a lot about the electoral votes and why they are so important. You also learn the strategies and reasons why some states are so important to candidates while other states are rarely visited by the hopeful future presidents.

The game is amazingly simple but also requires an amazing amount of strategy and thinking. The Presidential Game requires two players or two teams who take on the role of either the Democratic candidate (blue) or the Republican candidate (red). Each candidate has a set of 150 chips and three dice that are either blue or red depending on which party they represent. The game also contains 80 political cards, 40 "Write Your Own" political cards, a game board, a Score Pad and an Electoral Webmap Calculator Access Code that you can use to access an online Calculator that will help you keep score for the game. 

I'll tell you ahead of time that our internet is broken at our house, so we tried to access the Webmap Calculator on my phone but we couldn't get it to work. Therefore we just used our heads and the scorepad. You will find out later how useful the online Webmap Calculator could be and how much easier the gameplay is with it.

Each candidate rolls one die to decide who goes first and then the game begins. The game lasts for 30 weeks (or as many as you decide if you want to play a shorter game). A week is really one round of turns and a 30 week game lasts about an hour.

Before a turn begins the player must state if he is going to campaign or fundraise. If he chooses to campaign he must say which three states he is going to campaign in. We'll discuss this option first. Once the states are declared, the player rolls all three dice and then decides where his chips are to go. If he rolled a 6, 4 and 2 and declared Tennessee, Indiana and Pennsylvania then he decides which die corresponds with which state and places (or removes) chips from that state. For example, he can place 6 chips on Pennsylvania, 4 on Indiana and 2 on Tennessee if he chooses. Or he can put the 6 on Indiana, the 4 on Tennessee and the 2 on Pennsylvania. You get the picture. If he already has chips on one of those states he simply adds more chips to what is already there. If his opponent has chips on that state, he deducts the amount of chips that correspond with what is on that states die. For example, if the Republicans had 4 chips on Indiana and the Democrats rolled a 6 and allocated those points to Indiana then the 4 Republican chips would be removed and 2 Democratic chips would be added. That would mean that the Republicans just lost the lead in that state and the Democrats took over the lead. I know that this sounds a little confusing but the directions explain it a lot better and it really isn't that difficult.

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If you choose to Fundraise in a state you can only choose to Fundraise in California, Texas, New York or Florida. Those are the states that have the most electoral votes out of all 50 states. When a player declares which state he is going to Fundraise in and rolls the dice, half of the total of all three dice must be places on that state. For example, if the player declares Florida and rolls three dice that total 16, 8 chips must be places on Florida. The remaining chips can be places on any other state or states that he chooses (Florida included). Again, if his opponent has chips on a state that he chooses then chips will be removed and added accordingly. Fundraising is where the "Politics Cards" take place as well. At the end of a Fundraising turn, the player that Fundraised picks a Politics Card. The Politics Cards are fun! They may say something like this. "You declare that you are Mormon. Add four chips to Utah". Or, "The opposing candidate wears loafers to a Western party in Montana. Add four chips to Montana". Occasionally a card may be a negative and you may have to remove chips, but usual they are positive and you add chips. Unless a card says to play immediately, you can play these cards during any one of your turns.

So you see, chips are being removed and added all of the time. And the score changes all of the time. After each turn a player adds up the electoral votes for each state that he leads in. Usually you just add (if you take over a state) or subtract (if you lose a state) but that requires you to remember closely which states you just campaigned in and which ones you won or took over. Many times John Allen and I would get so involved in the game that we would lose track and have to physically count all of our states instead of just adding or subtracting. That is where the online Electoral WebMap Calculator would have come in handy. It remembers all of those things and adds and subtracts for you. The confusion about keeping score was the only downfall when we played, but the game is so much fun that we easily overlooked it.

After 30 weeks (or rounds) of play, the game ends and whoever has 270 or more electoral votes is the winner of the election. During the whole game John Allen and I were constantly taking states (especially the big ones) from each other and trying to stategize (is that a word) to gain enough electoral votes to win the game. The Presidential Game really is a lot of fun!

So how much is this great game that is for players from the age 11+ to adults? You can order it for just $35 by clicking here or on any one of the hilighted links above. It is well worth it. We love it and, even as we speak, have the game set up ready to continue (we played late into the evening) when I finish this review!

As usual many of the other TOS Review Crew members reviewed this game and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Game Playing!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time4Learning - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review


I have a confession to make. My laptop has been on the blink for a couple of months and I have been out of the loop as far as writing posts. Thankfully, I have been able to review Time4Learning before, so I do have some experience with this wonderful program and can write an educated review.

Time4Learning is a computer based program where a child is given his own login and password. After the child logs in, he is able to choose between four subjects - Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Sutdies. Some grade levels offer a few more choices but those are the core areas. After a child has completed his work, he is rewarded with some games on the "playground" that he can play.

There are several things that I really like about this program, but one of the things that I like the best is the fact that there are options for a parent to control almost everything that you can think of. Here are some of the parental controls that I liked the best. 

  • I know for Joshua and Jacob - our two children that are on the autism spectrum - making choices can be difficult. If there are too many selections they will become confused and frustrated. Time4Learning allows a parent to limit the selections and even choose what their child is going to learn each day. 
  • Another really great feature for parents who have children with short attention spans is that the parent can choose how long each lesson will last. Now that is really cool! If you know that your child can only handle 10 minutes of math then you can set the lesson to be only 10 minutes long! That really alleviates frustrating temper tantrums from having to complete a lesson that is too long and the child has lost interest.
  • Still another fantastic feature, especially for parents who have children like mine, is that for each subject you can choose one grade level above or below what you signed your child up for. Joshua's academic levels are all over the board. I would say that his reading skills are above grade level and his geography levels are off the chart. His math levels are way below what they should be. With Time4Learning you can choose between three levels for each of the subjects that you child is working on. You just have to be knowledgeable enough about you child's academic level to choose his average grade level when you first sign up.
  • Another wonderful feature is that the parent can view what the child has chosen each day (if they haven't already selected it for him) and how the child has progressed in each area. The "Parent Administration Section" is very detailed and allows you to view a lot.
  • Last, but certainly not least, as far as parental control is that a parent does have some control over the reward games section as well.
I think this would be an appropriate time to mention that Time4Learning is not a faith-based program. Some of the things can have a bit of a worldly approach to them. Although the creators have done a very good job in trying to make the program non-offensive to all users, there still may be some things that you may object to. I mention that here because in our experience there were a couple of reward games that we didn't particularly like. That was a couple of years ago, however, so those games may not be available anymore.

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Another plus for parents who keep track of state standards is that Time4Learning  keeps up with those things as well and has a whole section for your state. You can even pick activities that will teach your child the things that they are expected to know in your state according to your state's standards. We don't pay attention to state standards that much, but I know for some parents it is important - especially in states where the homeschool laws require you to keep track of those type of things.

The lower level programs are done with good quality animation where the subject is explained with animated videos and then the child works on that particular subject. The older levels, however, require more reading which may be a draw back for some parents.

Finally, another great feature is that a parent can print out worksheets for extra practice if they so desire. I know that many times I have felt like one of my children need more practice but I really didn't want them sitting in front of a the computer any longer. Printed out worksheets are a fantastic option to have.

I really like the price as well. Time4Learning is just $19.95 for the first student in the family and $14.95 for each additional student per month for the prek-8th grade programs. The high-school cost is just $30 per month. You can find out more by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.

Many other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed Time 4 Learning and you can see what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Because you are Strong - a Review of a Fantastic Bible Study for Young Men!

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As a father of three boys, I am always looking for good books and resources for my sons to read that will lead and teach them to love and honor the Lord more. Even when I do find something that I think would be useful, however, I always read or use it ahead of time to make sure it follows God's Word. I was very pleased to find that the Bible study Because You Are Strong published by Doorposts fit the bill perfectly.

There are a couple of things that I really like about this great resource. Number one - it really hits the nail on the head - no pun intended since the publisher is called doorposts! What I mean by hitting the nail on the head is that the contents are really what a young man needs today. Since the title is Because You Are Strong, you probably won't be surprised to know that the chapters all have to do with strength. Some of the chapters include Strength for the Race, Strength to be Valiant all the way to Strength and Gray Heads. Each one has a passage or several passages of scripture that the student will study. Which brings me to point number two.

It is laid out in a systematic way. Each one of the chapters is laid out in a weekly format. Each day the student is instructed to do a reasonable amount of work that builds upon the previous days work. Each chapter is a little different, but each chapter involves some type of in depth Bible study. Now, I really like that aspect because I love in depth Bible study and Because You Are Strong does a wonderful job of teaching that type of study to young men. Let me give you an example of this by giving you an example of what Week One tells you to do. 

Week One - Strength for the Race - has you focusing on Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. On Day 1 the student is to Pray before they read and then Read the chapters. There is a short section where the student is to write down their thoughts. Day 2 has them meditating and memorizing key scriptures. Day 3 and Day 4 has the young man asking the 5W - Who, What, When, Where and Why questions about the passages. I really like that method and am so glad that when John Allen completes this study he will learn this method. On Day 5, the student will Review and Apply what they have learned. 

Each week is a little different, but the emphases on learning and in depth study is always there. I think I have mentioned before (I'm typing that with a grin on my face) that I really like that about this study. I am really pleased with this and, as I said before, I am looking forward to John Allen completing this study and discussing it with him. 

There is also a girls study that can be purchased, and, although I have not seen it, I am sure would be equally valuable for girls. Click on the link below to see reviews on the girls study.

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So, how much does this wonderful resource - Because You Are Strong - cost? Only $12 for a softcover copy! There is also a PDF download version available. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to find out more.

As always, many others on the TOS Review Crew reviewed this Bible Study and another Bible Study written for girls and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.


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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Missions in Action!

Most of you know that my family is a big supporters of Compassion International. In fact, that is the only mission, other than the mission that we belong to, BCM International, that we actively support. We support six kids, either financially or as correspondence sponsors and love each one of them. The following video shows what can happen when a child that is in poverty is loved and supported. To learn more about Compassion International or about BCM International just click on the links above. Enjoy the video.