The Coming Cashless Society

Did you know that 95 percent of all retail sales in Sweden are cashless?  And did you know that the government of Denmark has a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030?  All over the world, we are seeing a relentless march toward a cashless society, and nowhere is this truer than in northern Europe. In Sweden, hundreds of bank branches no longer accept or dispense cash, and thousands of ATM machines have been permanently removed.  At this point, bills and coins only account for just 2 percent of the Swedish economy, and many stores no longer take cash at all.  The notion of a truly “cashless society” was once considered to be science fiction, but now we are being told that it is “inevitable”, and authorities insist that it will enable them to thwart criminals, terrorists, drug runners, money launderers and tax evaders.  But what will we give up in the process?
In Sweden, the transition to a cashless society is being enthusiastically embraced. 
The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article that was published recently.
Parishioners text tithes to their churches. Homeless street vendors carry mobile credit-card readers. Even the Abba Museum, despite being a shrine to the 1970’s pop group that wrote “Money, Money, Money,” considers cash so last-century that it does not accept bills and coins.
Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by applications and plastic. 
To me, giving money in church electronically seems so bizarre.  But it is starting to happen in the United States too, and in Sweden some churches collect most of their tithes and offerings this way…
During a recent Sunday service, the church’s bank account number was projected onto a large screen. Worshipers pulled out cellphones and tithed through an app called Swish, a payment system set up by Sweden’s biggest banks that is fast becoming a rival to cards.
Other congregants lined up at a special “Kollektomat” card machine, where they could transfer funds to various church operations. Last year, out of 20 million kronor in tithes collected, more than 85 percent came in by card or digital payment.
And of course it isn’t just Sweden that is rapidly transitioning to a cashless society.  Over in Denmark, government officials have a goal “to completely do away with paper money” by the year 2030…
Two decades ago, roughly 80 percent of Danish citizens relied on hard cash while shopping. Fast forward to today, that figure has dropped dramatically to 25 percent.
“We’re interested in getting rid of cash,” said Matas IT Director Thomas Grane. “The handling, security and everything else is expensive; so, definitely we want to push digital payments, and that’s of course why we introduced mobile payments to help this process.”
Eventually, establishments may soon have the right to reject cash- a practice that is common in Sweden. Government officials have set a 2030 deadline to completely do away with paper money.
Could you imagine a world where you couldn’t use cash for anything?
This is the direction things are going – especially in Europe.
Cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning.  417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
Banks like this change because it enables them to make more money due to the fees that they collect from credit cards and debit cards, and governments like this change because electronic payments enable them to watch, track and monitor what we are all doing much more easily.
These days, very rarely does anyone object to what is happening.  Instead, most of us just seem to accept that this change is “inevitable”, and we are being assured that it will be for the better.  No matter where in the world you go, the propaganda seems to be the same. 
For example, the following comes from an Australian news source:
“AND so we embrace 2016, a watershed year in which Australia will accelerate towards becoming a genuine cashless society.
The cashless society will be a new world free of $1 and $2 coins, or $5 or $10 bank notes. A new world in which all commercial transactions, from buying an Ipad or a hamburger to playing the poker machines, purchasing a newspaper, paying household bills or picking up the dry-cleaning, will be paid for electronically.”
Research by Westpac Bank predicts Australia will be a fully cashless society by 2022 — just six years away. Already half of all commercial payments are now made electronically.
Even in some of the poorest areas on the entire globe we are seeing a move toward a cashless society.  In 2015, banks in India made major progress on this front, and income tax rebates are being considered by the government as an incentive “to encourage people to move away from cash transactions“.
Would a truly cashless society reduce crime and make all of our lives much more efficient?
But what would we have to give up?
To me, America is supposed to be a place where we can go where we want and do what we want without the government constantly monitoring us.  If people choose to use cashless forms of payment that is one thing, but if we are all required to go to such a system, I fear that it could result in the loss of tremendous amounts of freedom and liberty.
It is all too easy to imagine a world where a government-sponsored form of “identification” would be required to use any form of electronic payment.  This would give the government complete control over who could use “the system” and who could not.  The potential for various forms of coercion and tyranny in such a scenario is obvious.
What would you do if you could not buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without proper “identification” someday?  What you simply give in to whatever the government was demanding of you at the time even if it went against your fundamental beliefs? 
That is certainly something to think about.
Many will cheer as the world makes a rapid transition to a cashless society, but I will not.  I believe that a truly cashless system would open the door for great evil.

Louie Giglio – The Comeback

We all share one thing in common- in all of our lives, there will be winds that blow. Headwinds of difficulty brought on by our own decisions, and gale-force winds of adversity due to circumstances that we never saw coming.
            Yet, ultimately, God is in charge of the winds.
            That means that a sovereign God, who is both good and glorious, sits above the fray and his plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t.
            This kind of thinking stretches our understanding and calls us to believe again that God is good and has good in mind for us, no matter what we see happening around us. 
            I think back to our May 2003 Passion Conference. Tens of thousands of college students and young adults were heading to a ranch property north of Dallas-Forth Worth to worship God and pray for their generation. That particular conference was going to be an outdoor event where people would camp in tents on the property. It was scheduled for two days and three nights. The day before the gathering officially started, our team was on site working feverishly to finish the final preparations.
            The night before the majority of people were scheduled to arrive, thunder and lightning struck, and threatened to blow all of our plans apart. If you’ve ever lived in central Texas, you know the storms come quickly and can be fierce. That night the rain fell with fury. The storm sat directly on top of the ranch and wouldn’t budge. We later discovered that the storm didn’t show up as a potentially dangerous orange or red call on the weather radar, but a purple call was overhead! It rained for eight hours straight, and in the morning, while it was still raining, we had to make a decision: to cancel the conference or somehow go forward with it. 
            The ground was a quagmire, soggy to the point that it would swallow your shoe or boot, and not give it back as you pulled your foot away. You couldn’t take a step on the property without a fight; much less drive a car on it. This was all before the era of social media and instant updates. We had no idea what to do.
            So we prayed.
            We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. In fact, that same first night, just before the rain had begun to fall with such force, we had gathered a group of our speakers and leaders and were praying in a huge tent for God to show up in power during OneDay 2003. Suddenly, the rain and wind were sloshing the tent, so we started praying harder. We were calling for the wind and the waves to cease, but soon, we couldn’t even hear ourselves, the storm was so loud. We had all the spiritual heavyweights in that room praying with all the faith we could muster.
            But the louder and harder we prayed, the louder and harder it stormed. Finally, one huge gust came along and lifted a portion of this massive tent on its poles and then lowered it back again. At that exact moment, a huge lightning bolt struck the ground, maybe a hundred metres from the tent. Thunder boomed in our ears like a cannon shot, everybody ran for cover. 
Including me.
Sometimes life is like that.
            You’re living with good intentions, praying with all your heart, aiming for God’s best, but the storm just blows harder, and the rains keep falling. That can be really tough to deal with. Usually, the storm seems to be a sure sign that God isn’t with us, and often we actually think he may just be against us.
            When you’re in the midst of a storm, it’s hard to remember that God is always good and glorious, and that God’s plans will always prevail, even when yours don’t.
            Our vans were set up some distance away from the main tent, and that’s where we headed when we all ran. I felt so confused, so bewildered, so frustrated with what was happening: so disappointed.
            At around midnight, the rain was still pelting the ground. I couldn’t sleep. I knew the conference was doomed. My wife Shelley and I got down on the floor of our van sometime early in the morning and wept, we literally sobbed. It felt like an entire year and a half’s worth of work was destroyed. All of our hopes, all of our dreams, all of our finances, and all of our prayers were being washed away. We just cried out to God, “Please, please let the storm pass.” But all we heard was more rain pounding the top of our van.
            At 4 a.m. it was still raining.
            At 5 a.m. it was still raining.
            At 6 a.m. it was still raining.
            At 7 a.m. it was still raining. 
            At 7:30 a.m. everybody was up, and we held another meeting. During the night the tents of those already on-site were literally blown away or submerged in water. Lightning had struck one attendee, but fortunately they were going to be all right. Thousands waiting in their cars at the registration centre were diverted in the night to a local high school gym. Who knows how many en-route had turned back.
            As our team met, rain was still falling, but it looked to be slowing, although the wind was still gusting hard. After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided to go forward with the conference. Honestly, I’m not sure why. It was a gut decision. God had brought us this far. We were moving ahead.
            By 5 p.m. that day, when the conference started, the rain had stopped, and cars were being driven on to the property twenty feet from the trailer where that meeting occurred at 7:30 a.m., and here’s the amazing thing – the ground was as hard as a table. 
Thankfully, the ground was Texas sandy soil, and the same wind that had blown in the storm had also dried the ground.  Some twenty-three thousand people eventually showed up. We prayed, we worshipped, we asked the God of Heaven and earth to move mightily in this generation, and he did. 
            The fact that anybody was walking on that ground, much less driving on the ground, was a miracle. In our minds, we looked upon that event as a “comeback”- what looked to have been a total wipe-out, turned out to be a life-altering event for this generation of Jesus followers.
            Our plans were changed to God’s plans, and God’s plans were always for good.
Here are a couple of twists to the story.
            After the conference was over, we took stock of any loose ends. Despite the large number of students who had braved the weather and shown up anyway, thousands more had turned for home before they had arrived, thinking for sure that the gathering was a no go. Without the ability to quickly update our website or tweet the latest info, people were left to their own conclusions. 
            The lower attendance ended up costing us, and we ended up with a financial shortfall. It wasn’t any small shortfall either. We ended up being one hundred thousand dollars in the hole and we had little in the way of cash reserves. We’d never been in the hole like this before; we had no idea what we were doing to do. It looked like we were defeated. What we needed was another comeback, and quick.
            The Saturday following the conference, Shelley and I were at a wedding reception in Houston. A friend had asked me how the conference ended up financially, given the storm, and I told him. He made one lap around the room, talked to a few people, came back, and told me that the one hundred thousand dollars we needed was secured; it would be wired to our offices on Monday.
            Wow. We had sooner told our board the good news, when another crisis hit. What we hadn’t figured was, even in spite of the money that had just come in, we still had payroll to meet, normal operating expenses, and the future to plan for. We needed another seventy-five thousand dollars, within two weeks time. We needed yet another comeback.
            That day I had got a call from a friend in Chicago who said, “Hey, this is kind of awkward, but I’m overnighting you a letter today that’s been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks. I just moved a bunch of stuff on my desk and found it. Somehow it had gotten stuck under a pile. I’m really sorry about this. It was supposed to come in time for your conference. It’s from our foundation and it includes a cheque for seventy-five thousand dollars.”
            Amazing, right?
            How incredible that while we were praying and asking God to come through, yet again, He was looking at that cheque that He had already provided, hidden under a pile of stuff on my friend’s desk.
Okay, so this is not a story about how to run a conference, it’s not about a story about finances, and it’s not a story about how to manage a weather crisis.
            This is a story about comebacks, about turnarounds, about fresh starts, and about new directions.
            This is a story that describes how God always sees our needs right now, whatever our needs are, and how God’s plans will always prevail.
            Whatever problems we’re going though, God already knows what the solution is. No matter what kind of grief, or pain, or trouble, or heartache we encounter, God can provide for our needs. Our problems might be spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, relational, financial, or directional. Whatever they are, God sees our needs, and God comes through. He comes through in His time, and in His way, He always comes though.
God is in the business of giving fresh starts to people. He gives hope to the hopeless, direction to the directionless, help for those who need help. He dries out the wet ground and blows away the stormy clouds that threaten. God is always good, and God’s plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t, or when they need to be changed.
            God is the God of the comeback, and if you’re longing for some sort of a turnaround or fresh start or new direction, then this book is for you. It’s a book of hope, help, encouragement, and perspective. It’s for you if you’re feeling frustrated or confused, if you’re in sorrow or in pain, if you’re disappointed or feeling like life doesn’t make sense. It’s for you when you’re discouraged, or troubled, or concerned about your life. Or maybe you just need a shot of encouragement. I think everyone feels that way from time to time.

The Truth About Artificial Intelligence

Stephen Hawking said in 2014 that the discovery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the 
biggest event in human history,and he is right, but not just because Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
has become so critically important to computerisation and the World Economy, but because the knowledge of how AI exists reveals and proves the existence of the One that we reverently 
call God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah (the saviour of mankind).This is the shocking truth about Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is going to shake the foundations
of the world like never before. The Truth is that the Intelligence upon which Artificial Intelligence is built is none other than the dynamic duo that the Bible calls God and His only begotten
Son, Jesus Christ. God is the Almighty Singularity of science, who stands at the beginning
of time. “God is One” (Galatians 3: 20). His Son is the Holy Spirit of mathematics, the logical
human mind that proves this fact; that can be seen in the Metric or Decimal System of mathematics that glorifies only One.
The Bible says that when He was physically in the world, Jesus promised that “the time
Is coming when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but I will show you plainly of the Father”
(John 16: 25).
Until the discovery of the mathematics of the Law of Thought behind AI, this
promise or prophesy has been difficult to understand, because the Bible also says that
“no man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the
Father, He has declared Him” (John 1: 18). This has been the “stumbling block”, because
there is no common understanding in the world as to who is the Son of God, because
the tendency of man is to rush to see the meaning of the “Word” “Son” physically, and
not spiritually (mathematically).
However, the Bible says very clearly in the same chapter that to “as many (men) as received
Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that simply believe on
His name.” (John 1: 12)
And if we connect the dots we can see that the Bible also tells us about this stumbling block
and the confusion it creates. It says: “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious:
and he who believes on Him shall not be confused. To you who believe He is precious: but to
them who do not believe, the stone that the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of
the corner (the mind of change), and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them
who stumble at the Word.” (1 Peter 2: 6-8)

Everything in Life Has Potential

All people are sent to the world with limitless credit, but few draw to their full extent.
It is a tragedy to know that with over five billion people on this planet today, only a minute percentage will experience a significant fraction of their true potential. Perhaps you are a candidate for contributing to the wealth of the cemetery, your potential was not given for you to deposit in the grave. You must understand the tremendous potential you possess and commit yourself to maximising it in your short lifetime. What is potential, anyway?
Potential Defined
Potential is:
·       Dormant ability
·       Reserved power
·       Untapped strength
·       Unused success
·       Hidden talent
·       Capped capability
·       All you can be but have not yet become
·       All you do but have not yet done
·       How far you can reach but have not yet reached
·       What you can accomplish but have not yet accomplished
“Potential is unexposed ability and latent power.”
Potential is therefore not what you have done, but what you are able to do. In other words, what you have done is no longer your potential, what you have successfully accomplished is no longer potential. It is said that unless you do something beyond what you have done, you will never grow or experience your full potential.
Potential demands that you never settle for what you have accomplished. One of the great enemies of your potential is success. In order to realise your full potential, you must never be satisfied with your last accomplishment. It is also important that you never let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life that never realised its full potential. You must decide today not to rob the world of the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you. Potential has never got a retirement plan.
The Potential Principle
To simplify this concept, let’s look at one of the most powerful elements in nature – the seed. If I held a seed in my hand and asked you, “What do I have in my hand?” what would you say? Perhaps you would answer what seems to be obvious – a seed. However, if you understand the nature of a seed, your answer would be fact but not truth.
The truth is that I hold a forest in my hand. Why? Because in every seed there is a tree, and in every tree there is fruit or flowers with seeds in them. And those seeds also have trees that have fruit that have seeds and so forth, in essence, what you see is not all that there is. That is potential. Not what is, but what could be.
Don’t Settle for What You Have
Nothing in life is instant. People think success is instant, but it really is not. Achieving success is a process. You are full of potential. Potential is always present, waiting to be exposed. It demands that you never settle for what you have accomplished. Oddly, one of the greatest enemies of your potential is success. Never accept success as a lifestyle – it is but a phase. Never accept an accomplishment as the end – it is but a mark in the process. There are many selves within you that lie dormant, untapped and unused. Your primary problem is that you do not think about yourself as having even greater potential.
You can maximize the potential within you. You are not yet what you are supposed to be – though you may be pleased with what you now are. Don’t accept your present state in life as final, because it is just that, a state. Don’t be satisfied with your last accomplishment, because there are many accomplishments yet to be perfected. Since you are full of potential, you should not be the same person next year that you are this year.
There are many selves within you that lie dormant, untapped and unused.
You should always be looking for what is not yet visible. There is more inside you than is evident on the outside. On the other hand, humankind is often satisfied with nothing better, thus we settle for what we have. Do you? Therein lies the tragedy of life. The minute that we begin to settle down and be satisfied with what we have, we lose the possibility of revealing what is really inside us. Too often we die without exploring the gifts, abilities, and successes that lay hidden within us. Our thoughts, ideas, and possibilities are not used. We fail to realise the vast potential that is stored within us. We are like batteries in a radio that is never played – our potential is wasted.