You Know What They Say About Everyone Having An Opinion, And Why

In a democratic society, each and every person is encouraged, as well as entitled to both have and voice his opinion. Unfortunately, those being advised by the one offering his opinion, often have to weight what, if any value, to place on the opinion. It often seems that many people who are quickest to offer their opinion, have some of the poorest judgment, as well as limited knowledge or experience. Be wary of anyone that expresses their opinion by citing experience, because not all experiences provide knowledge or value. One should always remember that experience and expertise are dramatically and drastically different things, and while a true expert’s opinion will often provide help and assistance, one who merely has experience often over- estimates the value or quality of his participation regarding that experience. Opinions have varying values, and it is essential to evaluate the giver of the opinion first, prior to paying too much heed to certain advice and experience.

People seem to express their opinions most often when it comes to certain topics and areas. Everyone seems to believe they are an expert when it comes to sports. When the time comes for the “big event,” whether it be a major boxing bout, the Stanley Cup in hockey, the NBA playoffs, the World Series, a major tennis or golf tournament, etc., many individuals who are at best casual fans, offer their opinion about and discuss these events, as if their knowledge was extremely valuable.

Everyone has some opinion about world affairs, politics, politicians, and the economy. Rarely does one hear someone say that their statement is their opinion, but generally express it in such a matter that it appears to be some sort of revelation.

Everyone has an opinion about different types of cars, different restaurants, hotels and resorts, and places to travel to. Unfortunately, these opinions are generally more about personal taste (and sometimes lack of taste) than about anything factual.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that, regardless of the topic, always expresses the “answer.” Often, these individuals express opinions as if they are facts, and far too many of these people are incorrect far more than they are right.

This becomes problematic, however, when someone positions himself as an expert, and consults in area, although he is no where near being expert. Often this expert is simply expressing his opinion, and often his opinion has no more than, and sometimes less value than the person he is “advising.”

One should always remember that an opinion is something that nearly everyone has, and not every opinion should carry authority, credence or weight when making a critical evaluation. On the other hand, when a true expert expresses an opinion on a topic pertaining to his expertise, one should pay particular attention.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

We Have to Get Our Feet Wet

Recently I preached a sermon based on Joshua 3. It seemed to help many people think through the issue of having faith when facing challenging times. In order to understand this passage of scripture, we must remember that forty years earlier Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. For forty years they had wandered in the wilderness because of their lack of faith that God could take them all the way into the Promised Land. Many of us have spent many years wandering in a spiritual wilderness. Somewhere along the way we became Christians but we have yet to experience the promises of God.

Verse 1 – Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing.

Joshua started out early in the morning. God often interacted with His people early in the morning. It was early in the morning that Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to test his faith. It was early in the morning that Moses stood before Pharaoh and told him to let the people go. It was early in the morning that David battled Goliath. It was early in the morning when the women went to the tomb and found Jesus already resurrected. Therefore, it makes sense that it was early in the morning when God told Joshua to take the people into the Promised Land.

Though we can spend time with God at any point in the day, if we fail to do it early in the morning, most of us get so busy that we never get around to it the rest of the day.

They journeyed for several miles before making camp. Though this may seem like a short distance, remember that Joshua was leading a very large group of people.

When we try to lead a larger group, everyone has an opinion or an idea and they all want to go in different directions.

We need effective leaders but being a leader is not easy. In fact, leadership is in great demand and short supply. God has also asked men to be leaders in their families. Sadly, many men have failed to do that and families are struggling as a result. Pray for men to step up and lead their families.

Every company or organization needs capable leadership. When good leadership is present, people can go far. When bad leadership is present, people become paralyzed and unable to move. We should all endeavor to be good leaders in whatever circles of influence we are in.

Verses 2-3 – After three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it.

When we see God at work, we must be willing to break camp and follow. We tend to get comfortable with the way things are and do not like it when God tells us to break camp. God does not always do things the way we think He should and He seldom leaves us in our comfort zone for very long. But whatever God does is always the best way things should be done so we should learn to follow Him where ever He leads.

Verse 4 – But keep a distance of about 1,000 yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.

As Joshua led the people, he told them to keep a certain distance from the Ark. Joshua was not suggesting that they needed to keep a distance between themselves and God. Verse 9 tells us they needed to get as close to God as possible. Joshua simply wanted the people to be able to see the Ark at all times so they would not lose perspective on what God was doing. Too many of us have lost sight of God in our journey through life and we need to regain our perspective.

Sometimes we get so busy that we lose sight of God in our lives and taking a step back helps us regain our perspective. If we are too busy to think, we need to step back and eliminate something. If we are too busy to pray, we need to step back and eliminate something. If we are too busy to worship, we need to step back and eliminate something. We must make sure we do not eliminate the very thing we need most, time with God!

Joshua reminded the people that though they had not traveled this way before, God would guide them if they stayed focused. Life is full of surprises and we often do not know what lies ahead. This can be scary, but God will guide us.

Verse 5 – Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the LORD will do wonders among you tomorrow.”

If we want God’s guidance, we must consecrate ourselves. Consecrate comes from the Hebrew word kaw-dash and it means to prepare, dedicate, make holy, or be separate. How often have we really prepared ourselves to hear from the Lord? How dedicated to God are we? What aspects of our lives have we made holy? Have we done anything to set ourselves apart for the Lord? These are challenging questions for each of us.

Too many of us are so busy trying to fit into this broken messed up world that we have failed to grasp what God is trying to do. If we want to see God do wonders, we should stop trying to imitate a messed up world and start acting more like Christ. We will not see the wonders of God unless we set ourselves apart for God. If we are living unholy lives, do we really think God will bless us? We must be willing to live right before a holy God if we expect Him to do wonders in our lives.

Verse 6 – Then he said to the priests, “Take the Ark of the Covenant and go on ahead of the people.” So they carried the Ark of the Covenant and went ahead…

Joshua told the priests to carry the Ark out in front so everyone could see it. The ark itself was not spiritual. The ark was just a physical symbol of God’s Presence. We often need such symbols to help us visualize the Presence of God in our lives. That is why we wear crosses, or display them in our homes. That is why we observe communion. That is why we light candles. That is why we publicly baptize people. That is why we anoint people with oil. That is why most churches prefer to have a specific building in which to worship. None of these things are spiritual in themselves; they are powerful symbols that help us focus more clearly on the Lord. God was about to show the Israelites another powerful symbol that would seal in their minds His power and provision.

Verse 8 – Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the waters, stand in the Jordan.

To understand this verse, we must remember biblical history from Exodus. When the Israelites left Egypt, God parted the Red Sea so they could go across. Forty years later the Jordan River stood in the way of the people finally being able to enter the Promised Land and God was going to part it so they could cross over. God was trying to show a new generation that He was still in charge and had the same power that He had in previous generations. Parting the Jordan became a symbol of God’s power that they would remember for generations. What stands in our way keeping us from experiencing God’s blessings and promises? Did we get hurt by someone? Time to let it go! Have we refused to obey God regarding baptism or church involvement? Time to jump in with both feet! Have we willfully ignored something God clearly told us to do? Time to start obeying! Whatever we have let come between us and experiencing all that God wants for us, we need to let it go so we can cross over the Jordan and enter the Promised Land!

Verse 15 – Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season.

The river God asked them to cross was at flood stage! It took a lot of faith for them to trust God and step out into the water. It seemed like what God was asking them to do was crazy, but they could not enter the Promised Land without moving forward.

We all experience our floods from time to time. But when the river is overflowing its banks the most is exactly when God is calling us to experience His power the greatest!

Verses 15-16 -… But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge and the water flowing downstream stood still.

As soon as the priests took that first step into the water, God did His part.

But nothing was going to happen until they first stepped out into the water and got their feet wet. This must have been a hard thing to trust God for and even harder to actually do. But it was the way God worked then and it is the way God still works today. We must be willing to get our feet wet if we want to see the power of God displayed in our lives. We must be willing to step out into the water and do our part while trusting God to do His. Too often we want God to do everything for us and while He clearly has the power to do everything, most often He waits for us to do our part. Our God is a miracle working God but we have to get our feet wet and step out in faith and trust the Lord if we want to see those miracles.

Verse 17 – The priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground…

The leaders of God’s people, carrying the symbol of God’s Presence among them, stood firmly in the midst of the flood believing God would make a way for them to cross into the Promised Land. Too many of us do not stand firmly in our faith.

We start, and then stop, our spiritual journey. We move one step forward and two steps backward. It is time to stand firm in our faith and watch God do His work in our lives. The Israelites had seen God provide for them in the desert, so they knew God had great power. But they needed this “experience” in the Jordan to help burn into their minds the need to stand firm for God. We often need an experience of some type in order to seal some decision we are trying to make for God. God often gives us some type of experience to let us know He is there and we should be grateful when He does.

Conclusion:

We may not know exactly what God will do in our lives or how He will help us overcome whatever challenge we are facing, but it is time to get our feet wet and step out and trust Him.

3 Must Have Horse Supplements

In this article I would like to share with you some useful information about horse supplements. I have noticed that a lot of people who ride horses have no clue about which supplements they should be using. Way too many people who ride horses end up buying products that their horses do not really need. In this article I would like to introduce you to, what in my opinion are, three must have supplements that will give your horse everything it needs to be healthy and strong.

Feed Balancers

Out of all different types of horse supplements feed balancers are the most important ones and in my opinion every horse owner should use at least one type of feed balancer. There are a lot of different types of feed balancers. Some are specifically formulated for veteran horses, others are formulated for competition horses. At the end of the day they all aim to achieve the same thing and that is to give your horse all of the vitamins and minerals that he doesn’t usually get from his normal diet.

Joint Supplements

In addition to feed balancers you should also have a look at joint supplements for horses. The fact is that joint problems are the most common amongst horses and taking the right preventative measures is a must if you want your horse’s joints to be healthy and strong.

The fact is that there is very little that you can do once your horse develops a serious joint condition, but if your horse’s joints are still healthy and if you want them to remain that way then you must supplement your horse’s diet with high quality joint supplements.

Calmers

If you ride primarily for recreational reasons then perhaps you will not find calmers as useful as those riders who are involved in more competitive horse riding disciplines.

You see, if you are involved in competitive horse riding disciplines such as dressage or eventing, you have got to travel a lot. Travelling, new environments and presence of hundreds of spectators can cause a lot of stress for your horse and horse calmers can help them to cope with that stress.

When it comes to specific companies and products names I cannot tell you a lot. The fact is that there are hundreds of companies selling different types of horse supplements: some are great, some are bad and in my opinion the best thing that you can do is to do a lot of research. Spend some time reading customer reviews to see whether the products actually work, see whether the company making the product has been in business for at least a couple of years and only then make your purchase.