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Personal Notes
  from the desk of JW Aust March 22, 2019  

Thanks for visiting Personal Notes. I invite you to come back often and share some positive thoughts on a wide range of current topics that affect our everyday lives. Updates on Monday and Friday.

Groupthink can be harmful

Updated June 8, 2021

Ian Janis' book, "Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes" (1982), is perhaps the seminal text on "the psychological drive for consensus at any cost that suppresses disagreement and prevents the appraisal of alternattives in cohesive decision-making groups" (backcover of subject book). The publisher condensed it better than I.

In the table of contents, Janis identifies three fundamental warrants: Fiascoes, Counterpoint, and Theory, Implications, and Applications.

Under fiascoes, he asks why there so man miscalculations (especially in terms of governmental decisions regarding the geopolitics of national disagreements that can lead to war. Janis explores the Bay of Pigs fiascoe, North Korea,"the wrong war with the wrong enemy," Pearl Harbor revisted as to why the fortress slept, and the escalation of the Vietnam War: how could it happen. More than interesting reads, he clearly shows how easy it is to slip into decision-making groups entertaining groupthink.

Under counterpoint, the shows how the Cuban Missile Crisis and the making of the Marshall Plan showed right thinking at critical times.

Finally, Janis addresses theory, implications, and applications into the Groupthink Syndrome. He focuses on the Watergate Cover-up where manipulators get caught in an avoidable quagmire. Finally, generalizations has its day in court: who succumbs to groupthink, when and why, and preventing groupthink.

I share this with you because it can help us to see how men and women can deliberately influence and persuade whole socities to come under the influence of groupthink...to their hurt.

The above is conventional wisdom. The wisdom from above shows us how we are created as mere flesh and blood human beings who need spiritual guidance and direction from above. Our flesh makes us weak; our human nature doubles down and makes us even weaker. Notice our Creator's words on this point: "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Have a great week and avoid groupthink. jwa

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Dark before Light; Night before Day

Updated May 7, 2021

One thing that is sure in this life: we all experience problems. We know why this is...like it or not, we as human beings double-down in two ways: we are inherently weak because our bodies are made of flesh (mortal beings) and our thoughts are often selfish (cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Since we are human, we cannot live on this earth without suffering in many and various ways. Thankfully, we're also designed and built to look to the better parts of our lives, which help us to look past the dark, to the light or positive side of life.

Your Bible reveals that there was darkness before light (Genesis 1:2-4). God uses darkness and light symbolically. Obviously, there's nightime when we sleep and then comes the daytime with the rising of the sun. The symbols of darkness and light are used by God to connote sin and holiness (1 John 1:6-10).

Darkness and light can be applied to nations, the way they are ruled. America, as a case in point, is a Republic that practices democracy. We have a long line of presidents. Remarkably, no political party could ever be perfect since humans run the government, not God. Remember this: humans can only govern in light as they yield themselves to God, who is our divine light.

The prophet Daniel was inspired to write about the return of Jesus Christ, who is the light of human beings (John 1:1-9). When God the Father sends Christ to this earth, as He promised to do in order to save us from ourselves (Matthew 24:21-22), He, Christ Jesus, will rule all nations on earth and no man (or woman) will be allowed to: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44). From that time on (yet in the future), all peoples will live in the light of Christ and God (John 4:23-24; Hebrews 8:10-11). God's light symbolically represents God's Truth, discerned and applied through the gift of His Holy Spirit. We pray for that kingdom to come for then will humans live in the light of God and not in the darkness of mankind.

Happy Sabbath and weekend. jwa

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The Beginning and Ending of Harmful Merchandising

Updated April 22, 2021

When America (U.S.A) was being populated by English and European seekers of religious freedom, most of their needs were supplied by their own hands...for instance, buying seeds, planting and nurturing them, and harvesting them for their sustenance. Those were hard times but the people were brave, hardworkers, and lovers of freedom. Businesses were eventually established that made things easier for Americans and today, merchandising has progressed to the Internet, going far beyond brick and mortar. This process was and is phenomenal. But have you asked what or whom originated merchandising? Can merchandising be harmful? And why has it deteriorated to what we see today? There are answers to this imbroglio.

Did you know that merchandising had an ill-fated beginning that didn't begin with God Almighty? Merchandising can be good if its purpose is to help the other person, to serve others. Even Jesus chased the moneychangers out of the Temple in His day. But what about merchandising that takes advantage of others in order to influence and control others? Can merchandising include wrong and evil thinking, manipulating others in various ways?

The simple answer is yes, merchandising can and does exist in this world. Most people are not aware of the beginnings of deceitful merchandising; it has a beginning and it has inundated this entire world. People suffer for and from it. Where did merchandising, or peddling, or trafficing come from and what is its effect on humankind?

Here's the BEGINNING of harmful merchandising: God reveals to us in His Word that Lucifer was the originator of merchandising (you may initially reject this thought; please don't). This true story is found in Ezekiel 28, though Bible commentators play it down by attributing this to a human king, the king of Tyre. God is clear. He cites the original merchandiser as Lucifer who became Satan after he began to peddle and/or traffic his jealous thoughts to God's holy angels, slandering God as an evil being who switched His attention from his (Lucifer's) greatness, beauty, talents, etc. to mere, puny human beings made of flesh, who live but for a short time then die; what consumed most was that God would make sons of God out of mere human beings (Heb. 2:10; 1 John 3:2; note especially 1 Corinthians 6:3: Could this start a fire in Lucifer?).

Fully 1/3 of the angels bought into Satan's merchandising angle: that God was unfair, fickle, and foolish (Revelation 12:4; notice Satan's impudence/presumpteousness before God in Job 1:11:"But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"). God has already judged Satan/demons and His execution of their judgment is guaranteed in two parts: first they will be incarcerated for 1,000-years on earth (Rev. 20:1-3) and finally, as an object lesson that fire purges sin, they will pass through a fire on earth (not destroyed since they are made of spirit) and then removed by God to the outer darkness of the Universe, there foaming out their malcontent (Rev. 20:10; Jude 6, 13).

The world's form of merchandising is not built on the right foundation. Human beings (not all of course) have turned from God's holy laws and ways and have unwittingly built on the wrong merchandising persiflage of the god of this world, promising good merchandise at a fair price but gouging the public instead. God's foundation is one of outgoing concern for others; this is godly love and its results are found in God giving eternal life to all human beings who truly desire it.

Here's the END of harmful merchandising: One day God will send Christ Jesus back to the earth to establish right and fair practices of trading based on His holy laws. God says that no longer will humans be allowed to take advantage of and to hurt others. Christ Jesus will rule on this earth and His justice will prevail. "And in the days of these kings (cf. Rev. 17:12-14) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44). With this knowledge, we can say "Thy Kingdom Come!"

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Conventional wisdom vs. Unconventional wisdom

Updated Jan. 13, 2021

Conventional wisdom is the wisdom of this world. Nearly 8 billion people live by conventional wisdom and we suffer for living with this kind of wisdom.

There is a much better wisdom which I call unconventional wisdom, meaning godly wisdom. What we see in our magnificent country is full-on conventional wisdom, expressed through our political machinery.

God is the only one who knows all truth; He owns it. If we read His Word, the Bible, we can find another way of living that eclipses the pain and suffering we're experiencing in America today.

God's way is one of serving others; it is selfless not selfish. Man's way is selfish; we make demands rather than helping others.

Where our political infighting will lead us only time will tell. God tells us to change and live His way of life that automatically provides us with peace and yes, even prosperity.

My prayer is that unconventional wisdom, godly wisdom, will prevail. James said that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it (James 1:5; "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.")

Have a happy and productive week and pray that God will help us look to the welfare of others. jwa

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The Ultimate Purpose of the Sabbath

Updated 11/14/20

When did God's Sabbath Day originate and why is it important?

The Sabbath originated way back in the beginning of creation, in Genesis. "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:1-3).

If you not only believe in God, but actually believe God, you can receive that it was God alone who instituted His Sabbath Rest, after the recreation of this earth and the creation of human beings (Adam/Eve). Yet man has not accepted God's Sabbath; we've made up our own. Arguments abound as to why humans felt it necessary to institute their own Sabbath. That may sound presumptuous and it is. Yet Christians have accepted the many specious arguments to the contrary and feel comfortable with the overwhelming numbers of people who follow man's Sabbath. Axiom: Although hundreds of millions of people believe a false teaching, the fact remains that it is still false. Numbers do not change God's inviolate truths; humans do.

The Sabbath was changed by clerics in the 4th century AD as a reaction against what they considered to be a Jewish Sabbath; one specious and distracting argument for this was that the Jews killed Jesus. Bottom line: Gentiles wanted their own Sabbath, which they got through Constatine, who, as the record shows, wasn't into any Sabbath; he was not interested in "religion". In order to keep order and peace in his kingdom, he approved Sunday as a Sabbath...a clever political move. Since then, clerics and other well-meaning Bible students came up with all kinds of Bible arguments to substantiate and sustain man's Sabbath. Those arguments are either false positives or false negatives and they can be easily disproved. Amazingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia (see section on "Festivals") openly admits that Jesus Christ, His apostles, and the early NT church never observed a 1st day Sabbath.

The Bible doesn't support man's designated Sabbath because it can't. God says He does not change His truths. If He did, we could never depend on His faithful truth. God is not fickle. He is faithful. We can depend on Him. How could He be righteous and holy if He flipped on His laws, His truths?

For the time, check out my article on both the weekly Sabbath and God's annual Sabbaths and their inviolate interdpendence. I'll leave you with this thought: the ultmate purpose and goal of God's weekly Sabbath is our future divine rest as sons of God. Think on this.

https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/gods-blueprint-of-salvation-revealed

Happy Sabbath and weekend. jwa

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What is Truth?

9/2/20

Just what is truth? Johnny Cash had a hit song with this title, "What is Truth?" Your Bible speaks about the questioning of truth by Pontius Pilate (John 18:38).

There's small "t" truth and big "T" truth. Small "t" truth is truth as you view it. Whatever seems right to you, that's true and truth. Big "T" truth however is absolute truth, truth as God defines it.

Remarkably the word truth is used interchangeably in your Bible as a) commandments (the 10) , b) truth, and c) word: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John 2:3-5).

Check this link for how humans view truth: https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/"whos-telling-you-what-to-think.

Have a great week. jwa

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