What is a Man?

God created man, and He is the One who knows best how we should live. As created beings, we do not own ourselves, but we belong to Him who made us, loves us, and died and rose again for us. What is a man? Whatever He says we are.

By Mark D. Harris

I was called upon to speak at our recent men’s prayer breakfast at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley WV. As I was thinking and praying about what to discuss, God brought to mind a recent incident at the US Capitol. Senator Marsha Blackburn asked Ketanji Jackson, who was hoping to become a Supreme Court Justice, “please define woman.” Ms. Jackson replied, “I can’t, I’m not a biologist.”[1]

My first reaction on hearing that story for the first time was laughter. The progressives, to whom-Justice Jackson now belongs, argue that transgenderism is possible because gender is not biologically determined. Justice Jackson’s answer reveals that she, at heart, believes that gender is biologically determined. In six words, this paragon of the progressives undermined their entire case.

My second reaction was to ask the complementary question, what is a man? The internet has a variety of answers:

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Earnings Management

The easy money days of the 2010s are over. Bonuses and threats of job loss push managers to match expectations. Earnings management techniques are not always “cooking the books” to reach short term targets. Rather, they can involve making valid operational decisions that benefit shareholders.  

By Mark D. Harris

Earnings Management Techniques

Managers are under intense pressure to make quarterly and annual earnings conform to expectations of analysts in the greater market. In a given quarter, if the prevailing expectation is that Company A will have earnings of $10/share (EPS), management at Company A wants to report EPS of $10, or perhaps $10.03. They don’t want to report EPS of $11.50 because that might raise eyebrows, encourage a much higher expectation of EPS in the future, and suggest a volatile earnings pattern. Investors and lenders like smooth growth in EPS, sustainable and predictable, over the long haul.

Even worse than exceeding expectations by too much is falling short. If Company A falls short of earnings targets, reporting perhaps EPS of $9.80, Company A’s stock price is likely to drop, their cost of capital from lenders will increase, and others interested in Company A might liquidate holdings out of fear for the company’s future. Finally, managers’ bonuses, salaries, and even job security are often tied to meeting earnings targets. Woe to the manager who misses his mark.

To avoid such unpleasant circumstances, managers have an array of accounting techniques that they can use to smooth earnings, and to make them appear sustainable and predictable in the near and long term.

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Economic Data, Business Needs, Privacy, and Freedom

Economic data is vital to running a business, organization, or nation. Governments and businesses gather a lot of it, and analyze it extensively, to provide better services to stakeholders. However, these same entities use this same data to delve into personal lives and influence personal behavior. Ordinary people need to understand all of these uses, know the benefits, and yet guard themselves and others.

By Mark D. Harris

The world is awash in data. The government obtains data, typically by querying governmental institutions, requiring reports from private industry and organizations, and surveying groups of stakeholders. No other organization could gather information of such depth and scope. Even if some other organization attempted to gather such a volume of data, they would not provide it free to inquirers. After collection, the government checks, analyzes, categorizes, and interprets the data. Finally, the government acts on and distributes the data, hopefully for the benefit of all its citizens. Governments may use information derived from data to position resources, cut crime, minimize poverty, prevent disease, aid business, and otherwise do good.

There are many dangers when anyone has too much information. Governments have so much data that they can violate privacy and manipulate people. Big tech and large companies, from Amazon to Zhejiang, can do the same. The literature is flooded with studies trying to discover the proper use of data and information in the modern world.

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Rejection of Authority in the Human Heart

Why don’t we have good leaders? Why don’t we have a moral society? Why do the good, the true, and the beautiful seem so scarce in our society? Why do we have so few good men and women? What can we do about it?

By Mark D. Harris

The conscience that God has placed in the heart of each man, and the Law that He has revealed to His people, tell us how He commands us to live. We don’t like it, preferring to go our own way. As a result, we often despise anyone who keeps God’s commands. We pretend that universal moral standards do not exist. We scream and cry that no one can make us do what we don’t want to do. We resent and tear down those sent to help us. Finally, in our rejection of godly authority, and often any authority, we destroy ourselves, and cause terrible suffering to others.

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Advent Wreath – History, Meaning, and Celebration

Information, celebration, and a devotional on the coming of Jesus Christ for families, Bible study groups, and anyone else who wants to add truth and richness to the Christmas season.

By Mark D. Harris

Advent (Latin adventus) refers to the coming of Jesus Christ. On the first Sunday of Advent, we remember God’s love for us, exemplified in the first candle…hope. We also reflect on the symbolism of the wreath itself. On the second Sunday, we think about the peace that He gives us, especially in this season, through His Son. On the third Sunday of Advent, we consider the third candle, joy. On the fourth Sunday, we focus on love. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the Christ candle reminds us of how Jesus Christ is the source of each of these.

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